Buffalonians again traveled to Albany on Tuesday, June 27th to mark the final day of the hearing, which they hope will result with New York State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia removing Carl Paladino from his seat on the Buffalo Board of Education.
Paladino, who once famously said he intended to “take a baseball bat to Albany,” is instead in the capital facing removal from his job. That cheers many of the activists who have spent months at Buffalo Board of Education meetings singing, chanting, holding signs, and making clear their objections to what they argue is outrageous racism coming from a Board member. Resident Brandy Loveland said, “His words and actions have consistently demonstrated his lack of regard for all students and lack of respect for his fellow board members and the Buffalo community.”
In May, protesters trekked five hours to Albany to argue that the case should be heard in Buffalo, the city where Paladino’s rhetoric has the most impact. Today, they again showed up to demand Paladino’s ouster. Teaming up with concerned people from the Albany area, people staged an action at the New York State Education Department. They carried with them artwork and quotes from over a hundred members of Buffalo’s community, representing the city’s broad and robust rejection of hate and racism on the school board.
The accusation being considered by Elia is whether Paladino should be removed from the board for his breach of executive confidentiality, one subject of the many petitions against the real estate developer. Community activists, though, say that the problem goes even deeper than that. Like many of the petitioners who have filed claims with Elia, they say that Paladino’s rhetoric and behavior violate the Dignity for All Students Act as well as the District’s own Code of Conduct.
Buffalo residents also argue that his presence on the board constitutes an untenable distraction from school business. “Carl Paladino and the frenzy that he attracts to himself, the board, and his constituents, distracts from the school district’s ability to do their work and help our children succeed,” said Ben Siegel.
Protesters from Showing Up for Racial Justice, Queers for Racial Justice, and Just Resisting, among many others, have been vigorously protesting Paladino’s presence on the Buffalo Board of Education for months, most vociferously since he released a series of racist comments in a local newspaper late last year. For many, though, activism against Paladino’s bigotry has been going on for years. Many recall when Paladino suggested that welfare recipients should be put into converted prison dormitories and given lessons in personal hygiene, or his demeaning statements about queers, transgender folks, Asians, women, politicians, and, unfailingly, people of color.
For some, the problem is plundering the educational system. John Washington, of PUSH Buffalo, says, “Carl Paladino’s rhetoric and its impacts pale in comparison to the money he has made on his mission to dismantle Buffalo Public Schools.” Still others wondered why everything was taking so long. “It’s hard to articulate the blatantly obvious,” explained Alexander Wright, the founder of the African Heritage Food Coop. “The sky is blue, water is wet, and Paladino has to go.”
The protest was organized by Showing Up for Racial Justice and included members of Queers for Racial Justice, Citizen Action, SUNY Buffalo’s Sanctuary Campus Movement, and anti-racist advocates from the capital region.
Patricia Militello Evans: As a retired Buffalo Public School teacher, I am appalled by Carl Palidino’s racial comments and his lack of respect for all the children he is supposed to be serving.
Rebecca Hyde: We are trying to raise good, kind, compassionate children. Having a public official openly act like a bully isn’t helpful
Luz Velez: The BOE is a beautiful jigsaw puzzle that brings together the unique sizes, shapes and patterns that together respects the mosaic landscape that [Carl Paladino] was not willing to develop with his colleagues, the families and all the children he was entrusted towards representing.
Erin Sowinski Feuerstein: We are raising our children to be thoughtful and caring citizens. Having racist leadership such as Carl in the BPS system is a hindrance to our community and to effort to improve the schools in the city Buffalo. His comments have been hurtful to many students in the community. His comments show that he lacks the moral compass necessary to lead the Buffalo school system to the next level of success.
Samantha Nephew: Carl is an example of what our society allows to happen. His behavior is a manifestation of the darkest reality we know. However, I support his removal because it is our responsibility to the next generation to show that we do not simply stand for racism. We fight for equity and we fight against bigotry. Carl has no part of any of this equation.
Adam Bojak: People aren’t born with hate, they learn it from others as they grow up. Carl’s brand of hate should be kept far away from this city’s children, so they can learn unburdened with those horrors. And once he’s gone, our school board can focus on the actual schools, rather than this embarrassing quagmire.