BUFFALO, N.Y. Jan. 18, 2017 — Five Buffalo teachers — supported by New York State United Teachers — filed legal papers today with the State Education Department seeking the removal of school board member Carl Paladino for “racially inflammatory statements” about President Obama, the First Lady and African-Americans that have violated his duty to serve as a role model for the school community.
The teachers’ petition said Paladino’s “grotesque stereotyping of leading African-Americans” in the December 22-28 issue of ArtVoice had roiled the Buffalo community and negatively impacted the teaching and learning environment in the district.
The Buffalo teachers, four of whom are parents or grandparents of current or former city school students, charge that Paladino’s “actions and statements negatively affect the ability of teachers to do their job in teaching students tolerance, kindness and self-respect … and have interfered with the delivery of education services to the students of the Buffalo City School District.”
Specifically, the petition cites the state’s Dignity for All Students Act, which declares that a student’s ability to learn is compromised by incidents of discrimination and harassment and requires boards of education to “create environments that are free from harassment, bullying and discrimination.” The 18-page legal petition also cites Paladino’s disclosure of confidential board discussions as reasons for Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to remove him as a member of the Buffalo Board of Education.
NYSUT President Karen E. Magee said school board members have a special obligation to be role models for students.
“Our public schools must be sanctuaries where students and teachers are free from harassment, bullying and discrimination in all forms,” Magee said. “Through his racist ranting, Carl Paladino has not only undermined the state’s anti-bullying law and district policies against harassment and discrimination, he has also violated his oath to comport himself responsibly as a board member. He is a poor role model who has proven himself unfit; is a disgrace to all the dedicated members serving on school boards throughout the state; and he must be removed.”
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.