Time for majority to walk away from Paladino - The Buffalo News

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Time for majority to walk away from Paladino

Carl Paladino has finally done something to help the Buffalo Public Schools.

With his botched effort to fire interim Superintendent Donald Ogilvie, he has – albeit unwittingly – crystallized for board members why he should no longer be taken seriously.

Ogilvie, highly regarded from his years as Erie 1 BOCES chief, was hand-picked by Paladino and his majority colleagues. But the man dubbed “Crazy Carl” when he ran for governor flip-flopped because he misjudged an experienced administrator who would not blindly do his bidding.

That leaves the obvious question: If he was so wrong about Ogilvie, why should anyone trust his judgment in picking the next superintendent?

In fact, the majority’s bungling of Ogilvie’s hiring and tenure – to the point that he’s quitting early – makes it imperative that it reverse course. It should do a national search for a superintendent, not a back-door effort to slip in someone they can control by advertising only for a deputy.

There also should be a public interview process for the finalists so that taxpayers can double-check what the board is doing. No more treating a public institution like a private club where a handful of members get together to impose their “solution” on the community.

We’ve already seen the chaos that zeroing in on a favorite son with no input from anyone else creates. What sane person would repeat the same process?

Which brings us back to Paladino and the opportunity he has given the other members of the majority. His attack on Ogilvie is just his latest outrage.

While most people caught forwarding racist emails might be repentant and profess not to see color, Paladino sees it everywhere in education, repeatedly citing the race of African-Americans he disagrees with.

His bombastic warning to nationally recognized education consultant Gary Orfield to “stay out of our way” was an embarrassment to Buffalo.

While trusts he set up give his relatives a financial stake in charter schools, his faulty ethical compass has him voting on charter issues, which may be technically legal but which ignores the higher standard we expect of public officials.

Any one of those shortcomings would be reason enough for other majority-bloc members to cut him loose from the group. The initial hope that he might contain himself enough to shake up a floundering district without becoming a distraction has evaporated.

Alienating Paladino might leave the nine-member board with no clear majority – but that would be a good thing. It would force members on both sides of the divide – including a minority bloc that must embrace reform – to finally talk to each other and find consensus. With Paladino as the focal point, little is getting done.

One rationale given for not searching nationally for a new superintendent is that no educator of stature would come here amid such dysfunction.

By isolating the pugnacious Paladino, the rest of the majority can change that image while also setting an example for students.

After all, we constantly warn teens that they will be judged by the people they associate with. The same holds true for public officials.

email: rwatson@buffnews.com

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