BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Buffalo School Board will hold a special meeting next week to seek outside counsel to file a petition with the State Education Commissioner. The petition will ask Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to remove Carl Paladino from the Buffalo School Board.
So why isn’t the school board taking action against Paladino itself by charging him with official misconduct?
"I am kind of taking the lead of our board president and counsel as to what we're supposed to do. I'm not sure we even had that option," says Buffalo School Board Member Jennifer Mecozzi.
It's Mecozzi's first year on the Buffalo School Board, and she says the board majority decided to put Paladino's future in the hands of the state.
An attorney with extensive education law experience told 2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik that it would not be wise for the board to charge Paladino with official misconduct and then vote to remove him because official misconduct has to be job-related.
The attorney adds the state may be the best option here because there's a lower legal standard for Commissioner Elia to remove a board member.
A different lawyer who works for the New York State School Boards Association spoke with us earlier in the week about a Commissioner removing someone.
"They're not very excited about the prospect of removing an official who has been elected by the electorate. And so it has to be particularly egregious conduct to get us in that particular place," says attorney Jay Worona.
But the attorney we spoke with Friday says Commissioner Elia has a great deal of discretion and that other Commissioners have removed school board members in New York for racially charged comments in the past.
"How confident are you that the commissioner will resolve this the way you're looking for it to be resolved?" asked Dudzik.
"Just with the history of what was being said, and the power the Carl Paladino has, I'm not confident that everything is 100-percent in the bag," says Mecozzi.
If the district were to handle this on its own, official misconduct hearings can run up big legal bills.
But if the state petition moves forward, Paladino could make the district pay his legal bills, something the lawyer we talked with says he couldn't do if the board were to charge him.
Once the petition is delivered to Elia, there is no deadline for her to make decision by.