Outspoken Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino plans to sue the Buffalo Board of Education and two other groups that have formally asked for his removal from the board. Paladino’s attorney, former state Attorney General Dennis Vacco, alleges an illegal conspiracy to infringe on his client’s right to freedom of speech.

In paperwork filed with the State Education Department last week, Vacco asked that new evidence be accepted in appeals for Paladino’s removal filed by the Buffalo BOE, the Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization (BPTO), and New York State United Teachers (NYSUT). He said the evidence, a January invoice from BOE attorney Frank Miller, proved there was “a coordinated assault on Mr. Paladino’s constitutional rights.”

He said the invoice showed, among other things, that the board recruited teachers and parents to make speech claims against Paladino which the board could not legally make, that Miller discussed strategy with attorneys for BPTO and NYSUT, created a model complaint and even reviewed the organizations’ complaints.

Vacco said he submitted the invoice as new evidence because they didn’t have it until after he was legally required to respond to the appeals. In fact he said, Paladino was only provided an incomplete copy of the bill in mid-May and the firm didn’t get the entire document until the end of the month, after submitting a Freedom of Information Law request.

The appeals for Paladino’s removal stem back to racially-charged comments he made about the former President and First Lady, published just before Christmas. He has since apologized for making the comments but insisted his First Amendment rights protected the speech, even as a board of education member.

In the document submitted to State Ed, Paladino’s attorney also notified Commissioner MaryEllen Elia of their plans to file a federal lawsuit. He asked Elia to not take any further action regarding the appeals until it plays out in court.

A fourth organization calling for the board member’s ouster, the District Parent Coordinating Council (DPCC), submitted its response to Vacco’s request today. The DPCC agreed with Vacco and made a request that its own appeal be stayed, as well.

The council said it didn’t want the matter to be “tainted and subject to years of litigation.”

Its appeal also goes a step further than the others, calling not just for Paladino to be removed but for the entire board to be replaced by a receiver. Members said the new allegations further support their claims of dysfunction.

“I think what it’s going to do is bring attention to the fact that the psychological environment that our city and our school district is operating (in), is not promoting education,” Franklin Redd Jr. said.

Miller said he is currently working on his own response to the State Education Department and wouldn’t provide comment to media outlets until after that was complete. A spokesperson for State Ed said it cannot speculate on what a judge will do with a lawsuit that hasn’t been filed yet.

We’re waiting on responses from representatives for Paladino, BPTO and NYSUT as well.

 

Paladino Stay Request and DPCC Response by Ryan Whalen on Scribd