About a dozen local protesters appeared in the lobby of the New York State Education Department in Albany Wednesday demanding the immediate removal of Buffalo Board of Education member Carl Paladino. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says protesters wanted to confront state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.
“It’s been 139 days since the board majority voted,” chanted protesters.
A small group of parents, educators and Buffalo residents chanted and sang hoping Commissioner Elia would emerge from a lobby elevator, but instead the Executive Deputy Education Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin met with protesters.
It was all captured on video by one of the protesters. She explained that Elia was not in Albany Wednesday. Berlin noted Elia would not be able to make a public comment since she will be presiding over the Paladino hearing June 22nd in Albany.
“She’s not going to be in a position to have a meeting to discuss the hearings prior to the hearings actually occurring and a decision being rendered,” Berlin explained to the protesters.
Berlin promised to bring their message to Elia. The group is also asking Elia to move the hearing.
The group is also asking Elia to hold the hearing here in Buffalo and not Albany so local parents and educators can attend. The hearing is to decide if Paladino broke city school board rules by writing another Artvoice article about information on the teachers contract talks discussed in an executive session.
They were disappointed, but protester Colleen Kriseich of Buffalo said at least Berlin listen to them.
“We were very happy that someone came down to meet with us and especially that it was the deputy executive commissioner. We felt that our voices were heard and that the commissioner, herself, will be told what we were there for,” commented Kriseich.
Protestors are upset that Paladino remains on the school board since last December's brutal remarks against the Obamas in an Artvoice article.
“It’s been more than 130 days and we still have not had any clarity on how this position is going to be continued to be held in front of the public by a person that is continuing to exhibit signs of hatred and racism, especially with the people he works directly with,” stated a protester to Berlin.
“Whose side are you on Elia? Whose side are you on?” sang protesters.