National // Carl Paladino Faces Hearing

Buffalo school board member, Carl Paladino, will face a hearing with the New York State Education Commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, on June 22 to decide whether he ought to be removed from his position, according to The Buffalo News.

Over four months ago, Paladino participated in an interview with a local Buffalo paper, Artvoice. The paper interviewed local artists, educators, and politicians on  their ideas and hopes for the new year. Among the questions, Artvoice asked participants, including Paladino, “What would you most like to happen in 2017?” and “What would you like to see go away in 2017?”.

Paladino answered:

“     1.  Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Herford.  He dies before his trial and is buried in a cow pasture next to Valerie Jarret, who died weeks prior, after being convicted of sedition and treason, when a Jihady cell mate mistook her for being a nice person and decapitated her.

2. Michelle Obama.  I’d like her 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.”

The Buffalo City School District is 48% Black or African American, 18.7% Hispanic or Latino, and has a growing Muslim community, according to The Buffalo News and NYSED.gov.

The Buffalo News also reported protesters from local activist groups have twice disrupted school board meetings following Paladino’s remarks. Members of the Buffalo chapters of Just Resisting, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), Queers for Racial Justice, chanted “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Paladino’s got to go” over meeting proceedings, according to The Buffalo News. They also vocally decried his “racism, homophobia, and transphobia”.

Houghton alum Member of SURJ and Queers for Racial Justice, Harper Bishop ‘07, wrote in a press release following the April 19 protest, “It has been over 100 days since a majority of the Board voted to request Paladino’s removal. Commissioner Elia has the power to remove any board member who has been found to be unqualified for the job for which he was elected. Since that time numerous groups and individuals have demanded his resignation, including an online petition at Change.org that currently has 24,350 signatures.”

Bishop continued, “The foreword to the Buffalo Board of Education’s bylaws includes this: ‘Our students should be prepared not only to survive in the future, but to thrive in it; not only to accept the future, but to contribute to its shaping; not only to be swept along by the future, but to evaluate its moral worth and direction.’ The message tonight: let that moral worth and direction be towards justice, away from racism.”

In response to the protests, Paladino stated the protesters were “Uninformed, overzealous, spoiled kids clueless of the merits of the issue, over-exercising their First Amendment right to deny my First Amendment right and disrupting the rights of others.”

Paladino said he plans to file a lawsuit. The Buffalo News reported he has alleged to the State Education department that he is “the victim of an illegal, coordinated conspiracy to get him off the board.” His lawyer, Dennis C. Vacco, said Paladino’s constitutional rights to free speech were violated.

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