How much does it cost to remove someone from a school board?
In the case of Carl Paladino, quite a bit.
The Buffalo Public Schools – where six of the other eight board members sought Paladino's removal – has paid $122,474 for legal services to a Syracuse law firm hired to represent the district in the case, according to district records.
Those were the legal bills as of Sept. 20, and the meter is still running.
Paladino continues his court challenge, which now will be heard in Albany.
Despite earlier indications that his legal team would request the case be heard in Erie County, court officials confirmed that both sides have agreed that the appropriate site is Albany, where state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia ruled that Paladino be removed from the School Board.
State Supreme Court Justice Catherine Nugent Panepinto has signed off on the removal order, according to court officials.
Paladino's attorney did not return calls seeking comment.
"The proper venue for such a proceeding against the commissioner of education is always Albany County," said Frank W. Miller, the attorney representing the Board of Education in this case.
No proceedings will likely happen before Nov. 30 because of the court schedules for attorneys on both sides, Miller said.
Realistically, Miller said, it probably will be sometime in December or January before the court hears the merits of the case.
Paladino last month tried to get a temporary restraining order to prevent the School Board from appointing someone to the Park District seat he held while he appeals the commissioner's decision. His lawyer argued that filling the seat would only complicate matters should Paladino be successful in his appeal.
Panepinto, however, denied the request, saying the greater harm would be that no one would be representing the Park District. The board appointed Catherine Flanagan-Priore, a pediatric psychologist from South Buffalo, to fill the vacated seat.
Elia removed Paladino from the School Board in August after a multiday hearing for publicly disclosing private information from a board executive session, which happened in the wake of his inflammatory comments about former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle.
Her move drew mixed reactions, with some legal experts saying the stated reason for Paladino's ouster did not merit removal from the board, and that if revealing information from executive sessions is the standard, elected officials throughout the state could be removed from office.