Clergy group calls for Paladino to resign from school seat

Mar 24, 2015

A group of African American clergy is calling for the resignation of Buffalo School Board Member Carl Paladino. WBFO'S Focus on Education reporter Eileen Buckley says the Concerned Clergy Coalition of Western New York are urging stakeholders to also call for Paladino to leave.

"He's been very difficult to deal with. He's been mean spirited," said Reverend Kinzer Pointer, President and Chief Executive Officer, Greater Buffalo United Ministries. He is part of the Concerned Clergy Coalition,  a group made up of eight-local African American organizations.  

School Board Member Carl Paladino at a past school meeting.
Credit WBFO News file photo

The Coalition has written a letter demanding that Paladino step down as a school board member calling him a bully.   The group calls out Paladino for meeting last Friday by himself with interim schools superintendent Don Ogilvie demanding Ogilvie resign. 

"But he needs strict attention to the fact that board members do not act as individuals they can only act in concert with each other. And it was highly suspicious to use that Mr. Paladino went to Superintendent Ogilvie as one person," said Pointer.

The Clergy group is also calling on Mayor Byron Brown and some major city stakeholders  to demand Paladino resign. 

"Not only are we working together collaboratively, representing about 80% of the African Americans who worship in the city of Buffalo, but we are also reaching out to our brother and sisters who are like us in other communities," said Pointer. 

"And we would seek to open our doors and bring in more of the children in the community around our churches and improve the rate with the school district," noted Kinzer Pointer, President and Chief Executive Officer, Greater Buffalo United Ministries.

"We would reserve to see what kind of receivership would be offered  we don't want a receivership that doesn't focus first and foremost on student improvement.

Pointer served as a  school board member, but only for short time in 2007 when appointed to replace former board member Betty Jean Grant, however he was disqualified to run when his election petitions were contested.

The Clergy coalition is also calling the school board to allow Ogilvie to complete his contract with the district. 

As for assisting with the poor performing students, Pointed claims there is 'a higher graduation rate' among students who attend their churches and the Coalition could helpful in tackling some of the difficulties city students are experiencing.

Interim Schools Superintendent Don Ogilvie.
Credit WBFO News file photo

"And we would seek to open our doors and bring in more of the children in the community around our churches and improve the rate with the school district," noted Pointer.

The following are two full letters issued by the Concerned Clergy Coalition of Western New York regarding Paladino and Ogilvie:

March 1, 2015

Dear Editor:

The time has come for Carl Paladino to resign as a member of the board of education of the Buffalo Public Schools; we have come to this conclusion after observing what at best can be described as divisive, caustic, disruptive and potentially destructive behavior by Mr. Paladino. Residents, business owners and most importantly, parents of students entrusted to the Buffalo Public Schools, have increasingly lost patience with his unceasing attacks on the professionalism and character of women and men dedicated to the education of OUR city’s school children.

In recent weeks, we have received increased reports and witnessed firsthand efforts by Mr. Paladino to impugn the integrity of public servants committed to addressing the challenges facing our schools. There appears to be no limit to where or upon whom he spews his vitriol. It is entirely unfortunate that Mr. Paladino has assumed the role of the “bully” on the schoolyard playground.

As clergypersons, we are dedicated to reconciliation when individuals of goodwill find themselves in disagreement. Mr. Paladino exhibits no goodwill towards those that offer opinions different from his, including disrespecting those with whom he was elected to serve. He seems only interested in pressing his own ill-considered agenda in spite of his multitudinous protests to the contrary.

In the interests of progress we call upon Mr. Paladino to resign and further suggest that board members that align themselves with his destructive agenda reconsider their support of an individual that jeopardizes the mission of the Buffalo Public Schools and the futures of this city’s children.

Sincerely Yours

Concerned Clergy Coalition of Western New York

March 22, 2015

Dear Editor:

July 1, 2014 was the first day of a new school year in the city of Buffalo and it was also the day that Donald Ogilvie took the Oath of Office as Superintendent of the Buffalo Public Schools.  Fast forward to March 20, 2015, it was the first day of Spring in the city of Buffalo this year and it was, reportedly, the day that Carl Paladino took upon himself to meet individually with Superintendent Ogilvie and demand his resignation, by 4:00 PM.

Recently, we have begun to have discussions with Mr. Ogilvie about how best to proceed to give students and their families improved options for their foundational educations.  One thing is obvious; Donald Ogilvie’s concern for the welfare of children in this school district shines clearly through.  Ogilvie would be the first to admit that the challenges in Buffalo are stark, but, he also believes that they can and must be overcome.  As leaders in this community we have determined that NOW is a good time to add our voices to this conversation.  We must first admit that our voices have largely and erroneously been absent from this conversation prior to now.  We are absolutely willing to shoulder complete responsibility for our failure to be diligent in that respect.  Someone once said, “Better late than Never” and we concur!

We must further admit, that we have not always agreed with the approach of Mr. Ogilvie, but, we realize that a mere 8 months into his tenure it is probably a wee bit unreasonable to expect massive progress.  We also understand that progress does not just arrive, that it must be cultivated, prepared for and labored for in order to be brought to past.  Another thing we are certain of, because we recall from our own youth, is that a “bully” on the school yard makes for the stifling of all the things that really matter: creativity, character, collaboration and innovation.

Everywhere that we look in Buffalo there is progress: there are cranes and construction stretched the breadth of the city’s business district; the Bills and the Sabres are secured in the hands of a family committed to OneBuffalo and Mayor Byron W. Brown, Jr. has courageously determined that now is the time to deal with the “elephant in the room”, having appointed the Racial Equity Round Table.  So why are our schools still languishing?  We would answer that the problem with the Buffalo Public Schools is environment!

Yes, ENVIRONMENT!  The environment that has been forged around the Buffalo Public Schools is stifling, mean-spirited rife with in-fighting and devoid of innovation.  Today we must declare that we have noticed a pattern with this embarrassing climate and outcome.  Dr. James A. Williams was too combative; Dr. Pamela C. Brown was incompetent and now Mr. Donald Ogilvie is a liar.  In a collective sigh we declare: “Give me a BREAK!”  That is nothing more than additional negative “gobbledygook” and we are a great deal more sophisticated in our thinking.

We are calling on the other LEADERS in this community to join us in giving our full hearted, deep throated support to Donald Ogilvie and the work that he has begun in earnest in Buffalo.  We are asking Mayor Brown, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, the Group of 18 and other well meaning Buffalo Leaders to suggest that the time has come to ask Carl Paladino to rejoin the ranks of private citizens. 

We must insist that Mr. Ogilvie complete his contract with Buffalo and we must agree to work openly, collaboratively with him and others to restore civility and respect to Buffalo School Board deliberations.  The children of this city the adults of this city to overcome our previous slothfulness and move NOW, before Carl makes all us the brunt of additional negative Buffalo jokes!

Sincerely Yours

Concerned Clergy Coalition of Western New York