Former New York State gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino’s out as a member of the Buffalo Board of Education.
Despite a public outcry demanding his ouster after racially-charged comments Paladino made about former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama, he remained on the school board. Now, New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said he broke education law by publicly disclosing private information from an executive session.
New York State United Teachers saw Paladino’s removal as much needed.
“Commissioner Elia made the right decision,” read NYSUT’s statement. “There is absolutely no place in public education for someone who flagrantly disregards the rules and spouts disgusting, racially charged ideas that harm students and the teaching environment.”
The New York State Education Department’s decision broke down the reasons a board member or school officer could be ousted.
“A member of the board of education or a school officer may be removed from office pursuant to Education Law §306 when it is proven to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that the board member or school officer has engaged in a willful violation or neglect of duty under the Education Law or has willfully disobeyed a decision, order, rule or regulation of the Board of Regents or Commissioner of Education,” read part of the NYSED’s decision. “Further, Education Law §2559 provides in part that ‘[w]illful disobedience of any lawful requirement of the commissioner of education, or a want of due diligence in obeying such requirement or willful violation or neglect of duty, is cause for removal.” To be considered willful, the board member’s actions must have been intentional and with a wrongful purpose.
According to NYSED’s decision, records demonstrated that Paladino “disclosed confidential information regarding collective negotiations under the Taylor Law, which he gained in the course of his participation as a board member in executive session and that his disclosures constituted a willful violation of law warranting his removal from office…”
During a hearing in Albany earlier this summer, Paladino denied any wrongdoing, but most of the public ire towards him stems from an incident that happened this past winter.
Published in Artvoice, a weekly newspaper in Buffalo, Paladino—when asked about his hopes for 2017—said, “Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Hereford.” He also said that he’d like Michelle Obama to “return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.”
Ian Rosenblum, executive director for advocacy group The Education Trust-New York, applauded Paladino’s removal from the board.
“There is no room for racism and bigotry in our education system,” said Rosenblum. “As we’ve seen from the recent events in Charlottesville, we have a long way to go as a country to combat hate and intolerance, and elected leaders at every level, from the local school board to the president, must be held accountable for the tone they set and for the lessons their words teach young people.”