Parent Council not expected to re-submit petition to remove entire School Board

Aug 22, 2017

Among the petitions decided Friday by the New York State Education Commissioner was a request from the District Parent Coordinating Council to remove Buffalo Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash and all School Board members. The Commissioner denied the request on "procedural grounds," but the DPCC is not expected to re-submit its petition.

The DPCC's petition had called for the removal of Buffalo Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash and the entire School Board.
Credit WBFO's Mike Desmond File Photo

While most of the attention has been on the Commissioner's removal of Park District School Board member Carl Paladino, she also decided three related petitions. Two called for Paladino's removal, while the third called for the removal of the Superintendent and the entire Board. Each was denied on "procedural grounds."

In the case of the parent council, Commissioner MaryEllen Elia decided each person named in the petition had not been personally served.

"An application for removal of board members or other school officers must be personally served upon each individual board member or other school officer whose removal is sought and service upon the district clerk does not confer personal jurisdiction over individual respondents, who are necessary parties," Elia wrote.

DPCC member Franklin Redd told WBFO the method used to serve those named in the petition had been successfully used before.

"The notion of the Board being removed was sought simply we need a cohesive body representing all of the children of the district, with the expressed focus to make our district the best it can be," Redd said. "And if you have a body not functioning in that capacity, the goal is to make that happen."

In denying the DPCC's petition, Redd said Elia skirted the issue - but perhaps it is for the best.

"I believe we have somewhat of a political answer, where instead of addressing all issues completely, this is a way of moving past the circumstances, at least having some momentum forward," Redd said.

In denying the DPCC's petition, Elia also indemnified Paladino from "legal fees and expenses" incurred defending his Board seat.

(l to r) DPCC members Patricia Elliott-Patton, Bryon McIntyre and Franklin Redd explained their petition in January.
Credit WBFO's Eileen Buckley

"It is appropriate to issue such certification unless it is established on the record that the requesting board member or trustee acted in bad faith. Here, because the application has been denied on procedural grounds, there has been no finding that respondent Paladino acted in bad faith with respect to the allegations in the instant application," Elia wrote.

"Anytime we take this path, it's a 100 percent waste, no matter what," Redd said when asked for his reaction. "At the end of the conversation, we didn't get students with better grades. We didn't get students with better facilities. We didn't get students with better nutrition. We still don't have gym class. There are things we really should be focusing on and we have potential to do that."

The petitions reinforce an important fact, Redd said.

"We shouldn't have had this kind of discourse on the Board to where we even had to have these kinds of actions," he said. "So anything that comes out of it is a loss. We're doubling down on losing. You know, we have to break that pattern in our community."

However, there is one matter that has so far been missing from the conversation, Redd said.

"There's a whole slant on this where we deal with the psychological safety and the emotional safety of the environment in which our children are educated in," he said. "So the egregious nature of the comments in the beginning, that's something that at some point we have to have the courage to have a mature conversation about how we separate personal feelings from public responsibility."

Redd said "the children are watching" the adults as role models for behavior.

"And if they can't, through watching the behavior of adults, feel more secure and feel emotionally safe, that's the basics to expel anybody from the environment," Redd said. "You know, this is an area where we have to draw the line as a community. When we're in our public space, we have to respect other people and be concerned not to be offensive, threatening and infringing on their right to freedom in an effort to express our own."