Groups begins filing formal state application to remove Paladino from school board

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The calls for Carl Paladino’s ouster from the school board have been constant. But any steps to have him formally removed, have been few.

That’s about to change, as the local parent-teacher organization becomes the lone actor among a sea of voices.

There’s been no shortage of outrage in the wake of Paladino’s comments about the president and first lady in last week’s ArtVoice. There have been plenty of supporters as well, although most of them have been confined to online circles.

As of Wednesday, however, the number of forms filed with the New York State Education Department to actually start that process according to state education laws remained at zero.

But that will change.

“I think it elevated it compared to his previous incidents, given how graphic his language was and that it came directly from him.”

Larry Scott is the parent of a Buffalo student, and co-chair of the Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization.

So far, they’re the only agency that’s taken the steps required by law to have Paladino removed from the local board.

“The process, since we’ve been looking into it, is very complicated,” Scott said. “There are very strict procedures that need to be followed as far as the forms are completed, how they are filed, how papers are served. And so we have begun the paper process. But we need to ensure that we are following everything adhering to the expectations that are written in the commissioner’s regulations.”

State law allows anyone to file a formal complaint to Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. She can’t take action without it, regardless of the size of the rally, the number of comments on a story or the number of signatures on an online petition.

That’s why Scott said their petition will be specific. And it will be in the mail by next week.

“We feel that he (Paladino) has violated the Buffalo Board of Education Code of Ethics, the Buffalo Public Schools district Code of Conduct and the New York State Dignity for All Students Act,” Scott said.

Scott said last week’s comments have reached a new level — even for Paladino.

“I think the outrage that we’ve seen across the community, even across the country, has elevated to a new level,” he said. “The incident is even more severe than previous incidents with Mr. Paladino. We’ve considered a petition for removal in the past. We just felt we didn’t have a strong enough case. We now feel the opposite.”

Paladino will not be in attendance at Thursday’s special meeting of the Buffalo Board of Education. And there’s a chance other members of the board will be conveniently absent as well.

The meeting takes place at 2:30 p.m. in Common Council Chambers in City Hall, a larger space to accommodate the large crowd that’s expected. A rally on Niagara Square takes place at 10:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, efforts to erect a large billboard in the city are gaining steam. Members of Stronger Together Western New York said they hope to have an electronic billboard featuring their anti-Paladino banner by the time the school board meeting takes place.

New York Board of Regents member Catherine Collins, who was reached on vacation this week, told News 4 the board is considering its legal way forward as it pertains to Paladino’s statements. Collins also said Regents Chancelor Betty Rosa has discussed the topic with Elia.

Emily DeSantis, state Education Department spokeswoman, said in a statement Wednesday: “We are in the process of reviewing all of our options in this unusual situation and will closely watch the actions taken by the Buffalo Board of Education at tomorrow’s (Thursday’s) meeting.”

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