Buffalo School Board Replaces Ousted Member Who Insulted the Obamas

By Denisa R. Superville — September 12, 2017 1 min read
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The Buffalo school board picked a local pediatric psychologist to replace Carl Paladino, the former board member who faced widespread criticism after he insulted former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle.

Catherine Flanagan-Priore’s selection came as Paladino vowed to continue fighting a decision last month by the New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to remove him from the board.

A state Supreme Court judge on Monday declined Paladino’s request for a restraining order to prevent the school board from appointing a replacement while he appeals Elia’s decision, The Buffalo News reported.

There was a long line of candidates hoping to replace Paladino, who had a contentious relationship with the majority of the nine-member school board. Fifteen potential candidates, including two former board presidents, submitted their names for consideration, according to The Buffalo News. Flanagan-Priore will be sworn in to her new post Wednesday, according to the district.

The board sought to oust Paladino last December after he told a local weekly newspaper that he wanted President Obama to contract and die from Mad Cow disease in 2017. He also made derogatory comments about former first lady Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett, a top aide to President Obama.

The school board gave Paladino 24 hours to resign before formally asking the commissioner to remove him, but he refused. The board changed course in January, passing another resolution to remove Paladino on the grounds that he violated board policy and the law by disclosing confidential information related to contract negotiations between the school district and the Buffalo Teachers Union.

Elia ruled that Paladino willfully violated the law by disclosing information he was privy to because of his position as a board member and that the disclosure warranted his removal.

Paladino had generally denied the allegations and argued that the board was seeking to get rid of him because of his comments about the Obamas. He also argued that the board was attempting to stifle his constitutionally-protected First Amendment rights.

The Buffalo News wrote that Flanagan-Priore has a doctorate in philosophy and counseling psychology from the University of Buffalo. She got the unanimous approval of the seven board members who were present at Monday’s meeting. One board member, Larry Quinn, was absent.

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.