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School Board to invite Paladino

Last week, Carl P. Paladino threatened to mobilize the masses if Board of Education members fail to fire the superintendent or resign themselves.

The board's response? Tell us more.

Board President Ralph R. Hernandez said Tuesday he plans to invite Paladino to express more of his ideas at a board work session in February.

"If you've got all these complaints, then let's talk about your ideas," Hernandez said. "I'm glad he's passionate. I'm just not crazy about his delivery of that message. But I'm willing to get into that debate of how the Board of Education is conducting business in this city."

Told by a reporter of Hernandez's planned invitation to talk at length with the board, Paladino said: "That'd be nice. I'd love to. Absolutely."

The former Republican candidate for governor said he also has been invited to a meeting this morning of the Common Council's Education Committee to discuss his thoughts on reforming the city's schools.

Last week, Paladino, a longtime critic of Superintendent James A. Williams and the board, minced no words in telling the board it should be "ashamed for its functional paralysis and inability to implement change necessary to deal with core problems." He outlined five moves he thinks the board should make -- including firing Williams and opening boarding schools for children as young as 6.

If the board doesn't take his advice, Paladino said, he will lead an effort to convince the Common Council to withhold its funds for the school system. The city provides the schools with about $70 million a year, amounting to about 7 percent of the district's budget.

Hernandez would not say whether Paladino's ultimatum influenced his decision to issue the invitation.

Paladino said he has a great deal of respect for Hernandez and some other board members, who he said are "well-intentioned." But as a group, he added, they fail to accomplish anything.

"When does this board address a significant material issue?" he said. "Their meetings are sickening. They don't talk about anything."

He said that before his appearance at a work session next month, he would give the board more information about his ideas.

"I'll send [Hernandez] a further bill of particulars on the broader agenda for them to start considering," Paladino said. "I'm looking to be constructive. I'm not looking to be destructive."

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