The Buffalo Board of Education was all together again Wednesday for the first time since the hearing in Albany to remove Carl Paladino from the board – and while brief, the meeting wasn't without drama.
The reorganization meeting to elect a board president and vice president for the coming year ended with the re-election of Barbara Seals Nevergold as board president despite Paladino's best efforts to unseat her.
One by one, Paladino went around the table nominating his colleagues for the board presidency. And one by one, they declined.
First, Paladino nominated Central District Board Member Paulette Woods.
"Do I decline now?" she said.
Then, Paladino nominated West District Board Member Jennifer Mecozzi.
"Thank you very much, but I feel I'm not ready for this," Mecozzi said.
Then, North District Board Member Hope Jay: "I will graciously decline."
And at-Large Board Member Larry Quinn: "I'm not going to do it."
Board member Patricia Pierce finally nominated Paladino as the next School Board president, but that was defeated by a 6 to 3 vote.
Nevergold was re-elected by a 6 to 3 vote with Paladino, Quinn and Pierce voting no.
East District Board Member Theresa Harris-Tigg and Ferry District Board Member Sharon Belton-Cottman also were re-elected as the board vice presidents – Harris-Tigg by an 8 to 1 vote and Belton-Cottman by a vote of 7 to 2.
The tensions Wednesday were clearly a carryover from the five-day State Education Department hearing seeking Paladino's removal for allegedly violating board policy by disclosing confidential information about the new teacher contract.
The hearing concluded last week. A decision from the commissioner is pending.
Paladino, however, was still on the offensive Wednesday with his theme that the school system is broken. When asked about his numerous nominations and opposition to Nevergold as board president, he said: "I think we need change."
Paladino acknowledged an independent receiver should be given the authority to run the entire Buffalo system and the whole School Board should be disbanded.
"Yes," Paladino said. "Everybody should go."
When asked about Paladino's numerous nominations against her, Nevergold said "it was a mockery of the process. It gave you an idea of his disdain for the process."
Nevergold also took exception to the entire board being cast as dysfunctional when "we have a dysfunctional member."