Buffalo School Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold testified Thursday that Board member Carl Paladino disclosed confidential information on two separate occasions: once on December 22nd 2016, when he sent an email to members of the media, and also in an op-ed article in Artvoice on January 5th 2017, in which he discussed details about contract negotiations with the Buffalo Teachers' Federation and an unresolved personnel matter.
In a hearing with the New York State Education Commissioner Mary-Ellen Elia, Nevergold answered questions for the better part of five hours.
Paladino's attorney, Dennis Vacco, argues that there was no wrongdoing in the January 5th op-ed.
"Releasing information two and a half months after the contract was signed is based upon his good faith belief that the information that he was writing about in that article was in the public interest," said Dennis Vacco, Paladino's attorney.
The three-day hearing in Albany is in regards to a petition filed by the Board majority that argues Paladino improperly shared information discussed during executive sessions, which violates his oath of office as a Board member. The Board wants him removed from his seat.
Several education and community leaders are set to be interviewed by Elia, including Buffalo Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash.
The hearing drew such a strong amount of interest from the public and various interest groups that a lottery was established to determine who would be allowed in the observation gallery.
Among those watching with keen interest is Larry Scott, Co-Chair of the Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization. He wants to see Paladino ousted from the Board because of his racist comments made in a December 2016 issue of Artvoice, which targeted former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama.
"As a private citizen he has a right to speak freely, but as a representative of the Buffalo School Board, representing our children, there are limits to that," Scott said.