ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) — A number of people are expected to testify in Albany Thursday morning, calling for the removal of Carl Paladino from the Buffalo Public Schools Board of Education.
The hearing began around 9 a.m. Witnesses will testify following Paladino’s controversial comments in an ArtVoice survey.
MORE | See his comments here.
Board of Education attorney Frank Miller’s opening statement said there was evidence that Paladino revealed confidential information.
“Mr. Paladino intends to be law unto himself…to be governed by his own self-importance,” Miller said.
Paladino’s attorney, Dennis Vacco, responded, arguing for free speech.
Calling Paladino’s comments about former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama “low and unnecessary,” Vacco said they were still constitutionally protected.
The board “almost never convened executive session correctly,” Vacco claimed, saying they “routinely discussed matters in executive session that should be public.”
According to Vacco, the board majority acts in a manner of “get on our team or remain silent.” He says Board President Barbara Nevergold allowed “public flogging” of Paladino at a December meeting.
“This petition is a phony petition. It’s covering the true intent to get Carl for his speech,” Vacco said.
Nevergold spoke after Vacco, saying Paladino was not exempt from board policies or their code of conduct.
“When you go into executive session, the information discussed is confidential,” Nevergold said.
Nevergold said that an executive session on Oct. 12 was for negotiations and strategies for bargaining with teachers. She claims Paladino later wrote about it, and that his articles were “quite disturbing.”
Paladino wrote that material from an executive session can be divulged after a contract is ratified, but the information is indefinitely confidential.
According to Paladino, the teacher contract negotiations were “criminal,” and he says he can release the information on them.
Jennifer Persico, who is serving as an attorney for Paladino, began a cross examination of Nevergold during the meeting.
Nevergold says she learned the logistics of an executive session from training, orientation and board attorneys.
Miller objected to Persico’s questioning of Nevergold, in regard to school budgeting.
When speaking of the contract for teachers, Nevergold said “Settling that contract after 12 years was a significant achievement by the board.”
After that, Persico began to discuss school district press releases that included some details on negotiations and offers to teachers.
From October until the end of January, seven out of nine meetings went into executive session. A meeting in January did not include Paladino or Larry Quinn.
“I invited the members who had voted to engage Mr. Miller as our attorney,” Nevergold said.
Check this story throughout the day for more information. Follow @DaveGreber4 on Twitter for updates.