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Buffalo School Board Hires Lawyer in Bid to Oust Carl Paladino

The Buffalo School Board is moving ahead with plans to oust Carl Paladino, who made racist and derogatory remarks about President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and aide Valerie Jarrett to a Buffalo newspaper last month.

The board voted Wednesday to hire a Syracuse-area law firm to help petition state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to remove Paladino from the board, according to the Buffalo News.

The board's action on Wednesday followed a 6-2 vote last week that demanded Paladino resign in 24 hours, or it will ask Elia to remove him.

Paladino, who said the comments published in the Artvoice were meant for his friends, has refused to step down.

The calls for Paladino's resignation are in response to answers he provided to the Artvoice about what he would most like to happen in 2017 and who he would like to see go away. Paladino said 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 real estate developer served as the New York co-chair of President-elect Donald Trump's campaign, and a spokesperson for Trump has condemned Paladino's remarks.

Paladino, who has a documented history of making inflammatory comments, did not attend last week's meeting where the majority of the board passed a resolution asking for his resignation.  

His allies, Larry Quinn and Patricia Pierce, voted against the resolution, saying, in part, that Paladino should have the opportunity to apologize. Paladino had earlier directed an apology to the "minority community" and insisted that he was not a racist.

According to the Buffalo News, all seven members who attended this week's meeting—excluding Paladino and Quinn, who were both absent—approved hiring Frank W. Miller, a Syracuse attorney with experience in education and labor law, for what's likely to be a protracted fight. 

Paladino told the Buffalo News the school board's action amounted to a waste of money.

"They'll have to pay for my lawyer, too," he told the paper. "They could consult the Constitution and know that it's protected speech."

Under New York state law the education commissioner can proceed with a removal hearing after receiving a formal application.

The state education department said last week that it was following the matter closely and would move quickly if it received a formal petition. Other organizations, such as the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the New York state teachers' union, which represents educators and healthcare professionals, had also called for Paladino to step down.

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