Paladino hearing ends, but decision not due for several weeks

Jun 28, 2017

The hearing for Buffalo School Board member Carl Paladino concluded Wednesday morning in Albany after five days.  But it could be several weeks several weeks before New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia renders her decision. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says attorneys delivered their closing arguments.

Commissioner Elia opened the hearing by telling told lawyers they have until July 12th to submit closing briefs, with replies by other parties due by July 19th.  She doesn’t anticipate any extensions will be granted.

New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia presided over the five-day Paladino hearing in Albany.
Credit WBFO News photo by Karen DeWitt

Paladino's Attorney Dennis Vacco concluded his case saying the city school board is trying to remove Paladino for his Obama comments and not for disclosing confidential board information. 

In his closing, Vacco began with remarks made by a board member saying "if we can't get him for that -- we can get him for this”.     

Carl Paladino listening to testimony at the NYSED hearing this week in Albany.
Credit WBFO News photo by Karen DeWitt

Vacco also noted that Board member Theresa Harris Tigg referred to Paladino as “orange Cheetos”. In talking to reporters Tuesday evening, following Paladino’s testimony Vacco referred to that comment.

“Orange Cheetos – if anybody believes that that is not a violation of the code of conduct – of policy – the same polices that they accused Mr. Paladino of violating. If anybody believed that it’s not a violation, then you are not paying attention, so they don’t come to this debate with clean hands,” Vacco remarked.

Vacco insists Paladino revealed the information about the teachers’ contract in the “best interest” of the public.

But the school board's attorney Frank Miller ended his case insisting Paladino broke confidentiality rules. Miller said Paladino had "no legal authorization".

Buffalo School Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold was first to testify.
Credit WBFO News photo by Karen DeWitt

“It is important for these board members to know that when they speak privately – what they say together privately remains private and confidential – that’s very important – he could have done exactly the same thing, but without revealing the contents of the executive session,” Miller stated. 

At the end of the closing statements, Commissioner Elia declared the hearing was over.

Commissioner Elia will issue a written decision, but she has not given any time frame. 

"The parties will have the opportunity to file closing briefs in this matter.  Sometime after the briefs are filed, Commissioner Elia will render her decision. We don't have a firm time frame for that," wrote Emily DeSantis, Assistant Commissioner for Public Affairs at NYSED, in an email to WBFO.