Five Buffalo teachers have filed an official petition with the New York education department seeking to remove Carl Paladino from the city’s school board over derogatory comments he made about President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.
Although a number of groups, including the Council of the Great City Schools, have blasted Paladino’s remarks published in a newspaper last month as racist, the teachers were the first to take the formal action to have him removed.
The calls for Paladino’s resignation ignited last month after a survey he responded to was published in a local Buffalo media outlet, the Artvoice. In his response to questions about what he’d like to see happen in 2017 and who he’d like to see go away, Paladino told the publication that he’d like for President Obama to catch mad cow disease and die and for Mrs. Obama to “return to being a male and let loose” in Zimbabwe to live with a gorilla.
The comments were widely condemned as racist and calls for his ouster began immediately. His comments were also denounced by a spokesperson for President Donald Trump, for whose campaign Paladino served as New York co-chair.
In December, Buffalo’s school board approved a resolution by a 6-2 vote condemning the comments. Paladino said he took full responsibility for the comments, but has refused to quit. “Hell, no,” he said when asked by Education Week if he would step down.
New York’s education commissioner can remove a school board member for neglect of duty or willful misconduct, but a formal application seeking removal must be submitted to the commissioner within 30 days of the action that led to the complaint, according to state law.
A version of this article appeared in the January 25, 2017 edition of Education Week as Buffalo Petition Marks Pro-Trump Board Member