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Paladino’s call to fire Ogilvie is falling flat

Buffalo School Board member Carl P. Paladino’s resolution to fire interim Superintendent Donald A. Ogilvie on Wednesday is not only likely to fail, but it also appears that no members of Paladino’s own majority on the board will support it.

Meanwhile, community members have begun rallying around Ogilvie, including city pastors who think that Paladino himself should leave the board.

“It’s always everybody else who’s the problem,” said the Rev. Kinzer M. Pointer, pastor of Agape Fellowship Baptist Church. “We need Mr. Paladino, for once in his life, to take an honest look and determine that he’s the common thread.”

Three of the other four members of the board majority – President James M. Sampson, Jason M. McCarthy and Patti Bowers Pierce – have all stated that even though they haven’t been thrilled with Ogilvie’s performance, they do not intend to support Paladino’s resolution to terminate him and would be surprised if anyone else did.

“I think Carl’s on his own,” McCarthy said Monday. “I don’t feel we should be throwing Don out. He’s already expressed that he wants to leave. He’s going to leave at the end of the year.”

Pierce said the board has many bigger issues to address that affect classroom education, including the budget.

The fifth member of the board majority, Larry Quinn, declined to comment on Paladino’s resolution, although others have indicated that he opposes Paladino’s push to fire Ogilvie.

Neither is it likely that members of the board’s four-member minority bloc will support Paladino’s resolution. Aside from the fact that their impressions of Ogilvie have greatly improved since he was first hired in July, minority bloc members generally view Paladino’s attitude toward to the rest of the board and the district as uninformed and intolerable. “Carl’s behavior is unacceptable, and that’s the most I can say at this point,” said board member Theresa A. Harris-Tigg.

None of this appears to faze Paladino, who said he’s submitting his resolution to highlight Ogilvie’s “betrayal and treachery” without regard to whether the measure passes or fails. He’s trying to make a point, he said.

“I don’t actually give a hell if they second it or vote for it, or whatever,” he said Monday. “Nobody’s ever going to muzzle me.”

Paladino’s resolution is to terminate Ogilvie “effective immediately,” citing his belief that Ogilvie misrepresented himself to the board majority before he was hired and has “worked in many instances to obstruct, delay and otherwise frustrate elements of the reform agenda, including the use of neighborhood schools, charter schools and all other available vehicles and opportunities to provide seats in performing schools to all children in the BPS.”

Following Sunday’s Buffalo News article about Paladino’s intentions, a number of people jumped to Ogilvie’s defense, citing his long tenure as a respected educator as superintendent of Erie 1 Board of Cooperative Educational Services and his conversations with the community about his student-focused priorities.

A letter of support for Ogilvie, accompanied by a letter calling for Paladino’s resignation, was issued Monday by the Concerned Clergy Coalition of Western New York, a coalition of eight clergy groups including 80 percent of minority pastors and churches in Buffalo.

Pointer, a member of the group and former four-term president of the District Parent Coordinating Council, said Paladino’s repeated demands to fire each of the last three superintendents has brought nothing but greater hardship to the Buffalo Public Schools, not solutions. He also described Ogilvie as a man of “the highest integrity.”

“Carl Paladino spent months attacking James Williams,” Pointer said Monday, referring to prior superintendents. “He sued Pamela Brown before she got off the plane. … Now, he’s suggesting Ogilvie is a liar.”

Ultimately, Pointer said, Paladino winds up referring to the district’s top leaders as “incapable, incompetent and imbecilic. And always because someone presents a plan that Paladino doesn’t agree with.”

Although Ogilvie was not the Concerned Clergy Coalition’s choice for a superintendent, Pointer said, Ogilvie did meet with the group a few weeks ago and impressed the group with his focus on students. Based on the education agenda that Ogilvie described, Pointer said, the coalition supports him.

“All of his priorities were about improving outcomes for students,” Pointer said.

Although Paladino has stated he wants the same thing, Pointer said Paladino’s combative, caustic, I’m-always-right approach has caused nothing but damage. Earlier in the month, the Concerned Clergy Coalition drafted a letter calling for Paladino to resign. It was released Monday along with the letter supporting Ogilvie.

“If we’re going to have Mr. Paladino continue to be around as a distraction, it’s going to impede good work,” Pointer said. “We would offer that Mr. Paladino needs to go, no matter what happens.”

When it was pointed out that Paladino has his fair share of supporters, Pointer suggested that the board member’s South Buffalo district stays silent on Paladino’s behavior out of a sense of embarrassment.

“Carl Paladino doesn’t care what anyone has to say,” Pointer added, “and that’s one of the reasons he doesn’t make a good public servant.”

To read Paladino’s resolution, and the response by the Concerned Clergy Coalition, visit the School Zone blog at email: