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You'll have to enter lottery to get seat at state hearing on Paladino

If you are interested in watching the hearing June 22 that will determine whether Carl Paladino is removed from the Buffalo Board of Education, you will have a tough time.

First of all, it's in Albany.

Secondly, there will be limited seating available in the hearing room itself, though there will be an overflow room with a live feed of the proceedings.

"Due to very limited seats available in the hearing room, these seats will be granted through a lottery," the State Education Department said Wednesday in a prepared statement.

The state figures 15 to 20 seats will be open to the public in the hearing room.

With that in mind, the state released the following procedures for obtaining what it expects will be a hot ticket:

  • Those who want to request a seat in the hearing room should email by 5 p.m. on June 14.
  • Individuals granted a seat through the lottery will be notified by email by 5 p.m. on June 19.
  • These seats will be granted for the duration of the hearing and are nontransferable.
  • Those granted seats must arrive at 8:30 a.m. each day of the hearing, which begins at 9 a.m.
  • Individuals must show a government-issued ID and sign in to enter.
  • No photography, visual or audio recording will be permitted in the hearing room.
  • No signs or placards will be allowed.

The June hearing is to address the petition filed by the Buffalo Board of Education, which originally sought Paladino's removal for comments about the Obamas  that many deemed racist, then changed course on the advice of its attorney.

Now, the board majority is arguing that Paladino violated policy when he published information about teacher contract negotiations that was discussed in an executive session. District policy prohibits board members from sharing information discussed in executive session because it can inhibit the district's ability to do business.

Paladino protesters shut down three School Board meetings this year with their chants and calls for State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to remove him from the board. Last month, protesters took their rally to Albany.

In fact, due to the "great public interest in the matter" another room - with a capacity of more than 500 people - has been opened for the public to view the hearing via a live feed, the State Education Department said.

But that, too, is in Albany, in an overflow room in the Chancellor's Hall of the State Education Building at 89 Washington Ave.

The State Education Department, citing civil rights case law, said it could not televise or broadcast the hearing in Buffalo, due to the nature of the proceedings.

"Therefore, the department is only able to provide a 'live feed' directly between the hearing room and an overflow room located in the Education Building in Albany," said Emily DeSantis, a department spokeswoman.

Paladino's attorney previously requested the proceedings be moved to Buffalo, but DeSantis explained that the State Education Department is headquartered in Albany and, therefore, proceedings before the agency take place there.

The hearing is scheduled for Thursday, June 22, but not knowing how long the proceedings will take, the commissioner's office blocked out Friday, as well as the following week, should both sides need the time.

The commissioner will issue a written decision "as soon as practicable after closure of the hearing record," DeSantis said.

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