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August 24, 2017

Processing appeals to the Commissioner of Education seeking the removal of a member of a Board of Education


Processing appeals to the Commissioner of Education seeking the removal of a member of a Board of Education

New York State Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia has issued decisions in three appeals submitted to her by various parties seeking the remove Carl Paladino and others as a member of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Buffalo and certain other board members and administrative officers employed by the school district.

Appeal 1 by teachers and others:
Decisions of the Commissioner of Education, Decision No. 17,148 (August 17, 2017) 

In this appeal Petitioners, Joseph R. Montante, Sophia Howard-Johnson, Maria A. Baker, Rachel Lyons, and Ruyvette Townsend, sought the removal of Carl Paladino [respondent] as a member of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Buffalo.

Petitioners are teachers, residents, parents, taxpayers, and “members of the Buffalo educational community” in respondent’s district.  Paladino was elected to a three-year term as a member of the board on May 21, 2013 and was subsequently re-elected on May 17, 2016

The Commissioner concluded that Paladino should be removed as a member of the Board of Education as "[t]he record demonstrates that [Paladino] disclosed confidential information regarding collective negotiations under the Taylor Law which he gained in the course of his participation as a board member in executive session, and that his disclosures constituted a wilful violation of law warranting his removal from office pursuant to Education Law §§306 and 2559...."

The decision is posted on the Internet at:


Appeal 2 submitted by certain parents:
Decisions of the Commissioner of Education, Decision No. 17,149 (August 17, 2017)

Petitioners are the parents and guardians of students in the City School District of the City of Buffalo.  Petitioners contended that respondent Paladino published comments in a December 23, 2016 edition of Artvoicemagazine which disrupted district operations and caused “psychological and emotional harm” to district students.  Petitioners further argue that respondent board and respondent Cash’s failure to “act to eliminate or address the extremely” harmful conduct constitutes cause for removal pursuant to Education Law §306.  Petitioners sought an order removing respondents from office pursuant to Education Law §§306 and 2559 as well as the appointment of a receiver “until new elections are held in 2018.” 

The Commissioner dismissed this appeal explaining "On this record, petitioners failed to effectuate personal service of the application upon the individuals of whom they seek removal and, therefore, did not secure jurisdiction over any of the respondents.  Accordingly, the application must be denied for failure to join the individual respondents as necessary parties."

The decision is posted on the Internet at:


Appeal 3, submitted by certain organizations and others:
Decisions of the Commissioner of Education, Decision No. 17,150 (August 17, 2017)

Petitioners in this application consisted of the Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization (“BPTO”), NAACP Buffalo Branch, Lawrence Scott, the Reverend Mark Blue, Eve Shippens, Katherine S. Haq, Rahwa Ghirmatzion, Gretchen Cercone, Chanda O’Donnell de Ramirez, and Rachel Dominguez, seek the removal of Carl Paladino (“respondent”) as a member of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Buffalo (“board”).

The record indicated that petitioner BPTO is a non-profit organization based in Buffalo, with over 2,000 members, including parents, guardians, or “other adult standing as a parent for a student” in the district.  Petitioner Scott is a co-chair of the BPTO, taxpayer and resident in the Buffalo City School District.  Petitioner NAACP Buffalo Branch is a non-profit organization based in Buffalo that primarily serves the African-American community in the Buffalo area.  Petitioner Blue is the president of the NAACP Buffalo Branch.  Petitioner Shippens is a co-chair of the BPTO, a district teacher and parent.  Petitioner Haq is a BPTO secretary and parent.  Petitioner Ghirmatzion is the deputy director of PUSH Buffalo, an organization that serves approximately 2,000 district youths per year. Petitioner Cercone is a parent, resident and taxpayer in the district.  Petitioner O’Donnell de Ramirez is a BPTO member, parent and former educator in the district.  Petitioner Dominguez is a BPTO member, parent, resident and taxpayer in the district. 

The Commissioner said that the application must be denied as moot as only matters in actual controversy will be considered by her and decisions are not rendered on a statement of facts which no longer exist or which subsequent events have laid to rest.

Commissioner Elia then noted that Petitioners had requested that the "respondent be permanently removed from his position on the board" and took administrative notice of her  August 17, 2017 decision in Application of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Buffalo, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,147, in which respondent was removed from office for wilful violation of General Municipal Law §805-a by disclosing confidential information which he obtained in the course of his official duties.

Thus, said the Commissioner, "Petitioners’ application for respondent’s removal, therefore, is moot."

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.counsel.nysed.gov/Decisions/volume57/d17150

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