BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Buffalo School Board member Carl Paladino, facing a hearing in Albany June 22 on whether the school district can remove him from the board, has filed a civil rights lawsuit against various members of the board, the Buffalo Public School District, and the Buffalo Public School District Board of Education.
The lawsuit, filed by Dennis C. Vacco of Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman, alleges that Paladino’s rights under the Civil Rights Act and the First Amendment were violated.
“My client feels very strongly that his constitutional rights, including his right to free speech have been violated by the actions of the majority members of the Board, the Board of Education, and the school district as a result of a resolution that was passed seeking to remove my client from elected office,” Vacco said in a statement. “Certain members of the Board of Education are seeking Carl’s removal in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights.”
Among other things, the suit makes claims against the defendants for retaliation under the United States Constitution regarding Paladino’s right to free speech, deprivation of Paladino’s civil rights and malicious prosecution in seeking Paladino’s removal from elected office.
The lawsuit specifically names school board president Dr. Barbara Nevergold and members Sharon Belton-Cottman, Hope Jay, Dr. Teresa Harris-Tigg, Jennifer Mecozzi and Paulette Woods, as well as the school board as a whole.
“Free speech is the cornerstone to our democracy and the defendants’ actions in this instance are a flagrant violation of my client’s protected rights as a citizen of this nation,” Vacco said.
The Board of Education passed a resolution 6-3 in Jan. 2017 to file a petition with the State Education Department to remove Paladino from the board following statements he made in Artvoice which some board members and community members considered racist and for sharing information discussed in an executive session about teacher’s contracts.