Some are frustrated Paladino hearing will limit public attendance

Jun 19, 2017

The long-anticipated hearing for Buffalo School Board member Carl Paladino will begin in Albany this Thursday. New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has called the hearing to review a request to remove Paladino. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley talked to some citizens who are hoping to attend.  

"There's a lot of interest in people taking a bus down there,” said Whitney Crispell. She’s with Showing Up For Racial Justice.  

Whitney Crispell (left) is with Showing Up For Racial Justice.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Crispell has been part of demonstrations calling on Commissioner Elia to remove Paladino for his racist comments published last December about the Obamas.

“We really feel strongly that if any student, teacher, administrator in the Buffalo Public Schools had used the language Carl Paladino did, if they’ve taken actions that he did – they would be gone, they would be expelled, they would be fired very quickly,” said Crispell.

Crispell is hoping to be in Albany later this week for the hearing. But due to limited seating, the education department is conducting a lottery. Those who put in a request should receive an email notification by 5 p.m. Monday evening. 

WBFO News was contacted Monday by NYSED spokeswoman Jeanne Beattie. She explained that those who do not get a seat in the actual hearing room through the lottery are welcome to view the hearing form Chancellor Hall.  The viewing room is located at Chancellor’s Hall at 89 Washington Ave, Albany.  Beattie noted the will have "additional" seating with up to 500-seats available for public viewing to watch the live feed of the hearing proceedings.

“So we're pretty frustrated that this public hearing, and I'm using quotation, ‘public hearing’ is so title managed that it is going to be very hard for members of the public affected by Carl Paladino’s racism be there,” Crispell stated.  

Showing Up For Racial Justice rallied during a recent visit in West Seneca by NYSED Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“There are many that have strong feelings about this and what to have a presence there,” noted Larry Scott, co-chair, Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization co-chair Larry Scott put in his request for a seat at the hearing. 

“I know it’s frustrating and people are losing patience, but I think the commissioner is exhausting all the due process steps to ensure that everything is legally in line and I think we are at that point where everything has been exhausted and it’s time to move forward with the hearings and making a determination,” said Scott.

The hearing will address the Buffalo School Board petition calling for Paladino to be removed for violating executive session rules.  He published details of the closed door session revealing information on the teachers’ contract talks.  Paladino said he believes he has done nothing wrong. But the parent teacher group and others have filed petitions also calling to remove Paladino.

NYSED Commissioner MaryEllen Elia & WNY Regent representative Catherine Collins at a recent public hearing in West Seneca.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“We’re still kind of waiting to hear what the next steps are for our petition, if there will be a hearing for ours,” Scott noted.   

In a recent interview on the Capitol Pressroom Paladino said he expects fair hearing, however, if Elia removes him he will go to court.

“If Commissioner Elia decides that you should be removed from the board, what will your response be and will you take legal action?” asked Susan Arbetter, host of Capitol Pressroom.

“Oh, we’ll go to court,” Paladino answered.

Paladino filed a lawsuit last week claiming against the school board and district claiming his free speech rights were violated.

The Commissioner has set aside days through June 30th for the Paladino hearing.

Here are the official logistics from NYSED for the hearing: 

Public Viewing Room

Due to great public interest in the hearing, a viewing room will be available for members of the public to watch the hearing via live feed from the hearing room.  The hearing will not be recorded. The viewing room is located at Chancellor’s Hall at 89 Washington Ave, Albany, NY; however, please use the Hawk Street entrance to the building to access Chancellor’s Hall. Individuals must show a government-issued ID and sign in to enter.

No broadcasting or recording (video or audio) will be permitted in Chancellor’s Hall.   Still photographs may be taken as long as such activity does not cause distractions or otherwise interfere with the administration and advancement of the hearing. As is standard practice at the State Education Building, no signs or placards will be allowed the viewing room.

Doors to the viewing room will open at 8:15 a.m. each day of the hearing.

Hearing Room Seats

Due to very limited seats available in the hearing room, these seats will be granted through a lottery. Individuals who would like to request a seat in the hearing room should email JuneHearing@nysed.gov by 5 p.m. on June 14. Individuals granted seating through the lottery will be notified by email by 5 p.m. on June 19. These seats will be granted for the duration of the hearing and are non-transferable. Individuals must show a government-issued ID and sign in to enter.

Members of the public granted seats in the hearing room must arrive at the State Education Building by 8:30 a.m. each day of the hearing. The hearing will start promptly at 9:00 a.m. each day. Members of the public that arrive after 9 a.m. will not be granted access to the room until there is a break in the proceeding. No photography, visual or audio recording will be permitted in the hearing room. As is standard practice at the State Education Building, no signs or placards will be allowed in the viewing room.  Members of the public granted seats in the Hearing Room should use the S. Swan Street entrance to the building, which is located by the Regents Room.

Media Protocols 

Space will be reserved in the hearing room for members of the media who RSVP in advance.  In the event that more reporters would like to attend than seating allows, seats will be given in the order RSVPs are received. Reporters planning to attend the first day of the hearing on June 22 must RSVP to NYSEDcommunications@nysed.gov by 5 p.m. on June 20. For each subsequent hearing day that reporters wish to attend, they must RSVP by 2 p.m. on the business day prior to the hearing day they wish to attend.  For example, to attend the June 23 hearing, reporters must RSVP by 2 p.m. on June 22. To attend the June 26 hearing, reporters must RSVP by 2 p.m. on June 23.

Reporters must show government-issued ID, sign in and be seated in the hearing room by 8:45 a.m. each day of the hearing. The hearing will start promptly at 9:00 a.m. each day. Reporters that arrive after 9 a.m. will not be granted access to the room until there is a break in the proceeding. No broadcasting or audio or video recordings will be permitted in the hearing room. Still photography will be permitted as long as such activity does not cause distractions or otherwise interfere with the administration and advancement of the hearing. Reporters should use the S. Swan Street entrance to the building, which is located by the Regents Room.