Upset that Carl Paladino is still on the Buffalo Board of Education and impatient that the state's Education Commissioner has yet to rule on his possible removal, protesters once again turned Wednesday's School Board meeting upside down.
More than 15 protesters dressed in black essentially shut down the meeting from the start, each taking turns reading statements or comments in opposition to Paladino — while School Board members debated whether to walk away, call the police or try to talk over them.
Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold said she didn't want to call police to escalate the situation, and instead called a recess.
Paladino, meanwhile, got on his cellphone to call both the police and Mayor Byron W. Brown to have the protesters removed.
"You're not doing the right thing right now and you know that," Paladino said to Nevergold.
"That's your opinion," Nevergold shot back.
The session came as at least the fourth time protesters had shut down School Board business, since a public outcry to remove Paladino first started. That followed his inflammatory remarks last December about then-President Barack Obama and his wife.
A hearing to remove Paladino was held in Albany in June, but the state Education Commissioner has not yet made a ruling on the matter.
The protest lasted about 30 minutes before the group left the board room without incident.
Once it got back to business, the School Board:
- Heard an update on efforts to improve district athletics. Among the district's goals is to develop a new hiring process for district coaches and establish eligibility standards for its athletes with more attention paid to academics. The city and district also have made a pitch to the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation for funding to improve athletic fields and add a field house.
- Debated a policy on use of cellphones by board members during meetings. Board member Theresa Harris-Tigg raised the issue over concerns board members are being distracted by their cellphones during the course of meetings. Others argued that wasn't the case, but often review board information they download on their phones. A majority of the board agreed to send the issue to committee for further discussion.
- Tabled the hiring of CannonDesign for strategic planning services, after board members expressed concerns about hiring the architectural firm to provide 10-year enrollment projections.