On Wednesday, Buffalo’s Board of Education defeated Carl Paladino’s second candidate for Superintendent of Schools. In a 6-1 vote with two members not present, the resolution to appoint Principal Kevin Eberle was soundly rejected. Board members Larry Quinn and Patricia Pierce joined the minority block to remove the resolution from the agenda.
The stunning defeat comes a month after Paladino’s previous candidate for the job removed himself from contention, and has observers wondering how long it will take the majority bloc to distance themselves from Paladino. The real estate developer has been criticized for an ongoing series of public comments offending various groups in the years following his 2010 run for Governor of New York.
Sources say that Paladino’s behavior has become increasingly distasteful to the four other members of the majority bloc. It is unclear whether they will begin to condem Paladino’s previous remarks about the board’s minority bloc that activists see as racially divisive and disparaging.
In light of recent consensus that both sides must work cooperatively together, activists are demanding that Paladino first publicly apologize to the minority bloc for his “sisterhood comments” and his slanderous treatment of Dr. Pamela Brown.
In recent days, education activists have begun insisting on a public apology written to Dr. Brown personally, in light of four “failing” schools being removed from the state’s list — a result of data gains under Brown’s tenure before the arrival of Dr. Donald Ogilvie last year. Paladino badly slandered Brown for months in an effort to advance a privatization agenda and for personal political advantage.
He repeatedly besmirched her as “incompetent” with blatantly racial overtones.
“An apology isn’t good enough at this point, ” says one East Side community organizer. “Paladino regularly dehumanizes people. He must resign immediately because we need to get to a point where the board can work together and collaborate. It’s impossible to get there with Paladino on the board — and that’s a decision he made himself.”
A career educator who asked not to be named agreed.
“What message are we sending to our children by allowing him to spew unapologetically racist comments? It’s unconscionable that the other members of the majority haven’t done more to condemn him,” she says.
Patti Pierce may emerge as board’s bridge builder
Observers think that Pierce will emerge as a powerful swing vote on the board, if she can successfully reach out to the minority bloc and build strong working relationships outside of the board room. She could facilitate cooperation and cultivate consensus around policy issues, but would presumably need to exhibit meaningful independence from Paladino.
In recent days Associate Superintendent Will Kereztes has been emerging as a consensus candidate for Superintendent. He has previously served as an Interim Superintendent and is well known as a substantive heavy weight on education policy and as an independent thinker who wouldn’t be beholden to any particular personality on the board.
It’s rumored that Pierce is considering introducing a resolution to make the appointment. Such a compromise gesture could create the conditions for collaboration. Pierce had been asked by the minority bloc to join their faction earlier in her term.