The Park District seat on the Buffalo Public School's Board of Education is once again vacant. It occurred after an emotionally-charged school board meeting (5/16) that saw the contract for school nurses taken away from Kaleida Health and awarded to Sunbelt Staffing and Supplemental Health Care based in Florida.
Kaleida Health has provided the school nurses for the past 13 years. The school board said Kaleida failed to meet a deadline for submitting its bid and the new company will cost about a million dollars less.
Spokesperson Mike Hughes said Kaleida did submit its electronic bid on time but the hard copy arrived late. Kaleida is filing an appeal about the RFP process with the school board, as well as looking at other legal options it may have. The spokesperson explained that Kaleida Health has also submitted a "Freedom of Information" request to review how the board handled the school nurse RFP process over the past few months.
Fallout from the contract switch happened soon after the vote when Park District school board member Dr. Catherine Flanagan-Priore resigned in protest over the selection process.
"An active choice was made to withhold critical information from both parents and children living in our district, as well as the nurses who provide medical care to our children," said the now former school board member.
"Certainly last night, I learned there is a lot to be asked for when it comes to transparency," added Dr. Flanagan-Priore.
Dr. Flanagan-Priore is a pediatric psychologist at Oishei Children's Hospital and recused herself from the board vote on the nursing contract. However, she said her employment with Kaleida did not influence her concerns about the RFP process, and that it bothered her as a mother because important information was being manipulated and withheld.
The doctor was appointed to fill the Park District board position after Carl Paladino was removed from the seat in August 2017 by NYS Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. The education commissioner ruled that Paladino had violated education law by disclosing confidential information regarding negotiations with the teachers union.
7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly spoke with Carl Paladino to get his reaction to the latest school board developments. Paladino said he is continuing his fight to get his elected school board seat back, which does not expire until 2019, because he believes there is a lack of transparency by the Buffalo Board of Education.
Ed Reilly has more in his report.