Protestors calling for Paladino's removal disrupt Buffalo School Board meeting

Mar 23, 2017

Protestors seeking to push Carl Paladino off the Buffalo School Board disrupted the Board's meeting as it was being held Wednesday night in Common Council chamber - then disrupted it again when the board returned to its regular meeting room in City Hall.

"Say it loud. Say it clear. Get that racist out of here. Say it loud...," protestors chanted.

Once again protestors were there to demand the removal of the Park District School Board member. Several times they counted down what they claimed as 83 days since "vile" comments from Paladino about former President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and aide Valerie Jarrett that prompted four separate petitions for his removal.

Activist Whitney Crispell spoke during the regular public comment period of the meeting and listed a series of public meetings demanding Paladino's removal.

"In the weeks and months that have followed we've seen sustained and powerful efforts focused on ridding the Buffalo School Board of the disruptive and harmful presence of the board member," she said. "Those efforts have included formal complaints filed with the New York State Department of Education and a powerful demonstration at last month's school board meeting in which over 75 individuals demanded his removal and effectively shut down the school board meeting after the public comment period ended."

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia's lawyers are studying the petitions and asking for more information.

"Hey, hey. Ho ho. Paladino's got to go. Hey, hey...," protestors chanted.

After the second disruption, Paladino, a former gubernatorial candidate, offered his own explanation for the people attacking him.

"They got a bunch of immature kids, spoiled by their parents, unable to identify the issue and understand it, exercising their First Amendment right in an over-zealous way, disrupting other people's lives, which is not right," he said.

Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold said she asked the audience not to do what some did. She said the protestors do not understand Albany is making the decision and it takes a while.

"It's been a period of time and so I think one thing is people don't understand the process," she said. "It's a bureaucratic process. It's very layered and in stages and it's a legalistic process and so Mr. Paladino has the right to due process and it's a process that's going back and forth and it is taking time."

Seals Nevergold is on one of the petitions seeking Paladino's removal.

Although security officers did start trying to physically remove some protestors from the School Board room, they stopped. Seals Nevergold said board members are reluctant to have protestors arrested.

Since they promised to be back, that may be tested next month.