The dismissal was the result of a week-long hearing that took place in June after his fellow member petitioned the state to unseat him. According to the Democrat and Chronicle, the board charged that Paladino had “willingly shared” information about teacher union negotiations and a pending lawsuit, both of which were confidential.
Paladino and his attorney, Dennis Vacco, see it differently.
“The determination to remove him, at least, is excessive in the context of all of the circumstances and facts of this case,” Vacco said to the Democrat and Chronicle, insinuating that Paladino was being punished for offensive comments made in a December interview in Artvoice.
In the article, when Paladino was asked about what he’d most like to see go away in 2017, he answered, “Michelle Obama. I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.”
Despite the claims of Paladino and his legal team, however, Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia agreed with the board, finding that Paladino had, in fact, violated the Open Meetings Law.
In her finding, Elia said, “The record demonstrates that respondent disclosed confidential information regarding collective negotiations under the Taylor Law which he gained in the course of his participation as a board member in executive session and that his disclosures constituted a willful violation of law warranting his removal from office.”
Paladino was first elected to the school board in 2013, three years after his failed gubernatorial bid, which was rocked with an eclectic collection of scandals, including racist and sexually explicit emails, homophobic remarks, and unsubstantiated accusations of marital infidelity against his opponent. Despite the many controversies, however, Paladino managed to win all eight Western New York counties and 34% of the votes.
Recently, Paladino has been raising the possibility a second gubernatorial run, citing the election of President Trump, another politician with a long record of controversial comments.
“I think he’s proven in his days in office that the kind of change that he is bringing to Washington is something that we need in Albany,” Paladino said to Spectrum News Buffalo.
How this public ousting will effect Paladino’s chances at a second attempt for the New York governorship has yet to be seen.
For the time being, however, teachers unions are rejoicing in Paladino’s removal. With three-fourths of U.S. kids attending preschool programs and 50 million students attending public elementary and secondary school nationwide, these groups argue there is no place for such disruptive behavior on school boards.
A statement from the New York State United Teachers union put out an official statement approving of Elia’s decision, according to the Democrat and Chronicle. The statement read, “There is absolutely no place in public education for someone who flagrantly disregards the rules and spouts disgusting, racially charged ideas that harm students and the teaching environment.”