The case of Zehner v Board of Education of Jordan-Elbridge Central School District on February 12, appears similar to the Carl Paladino Article 78 allegation in part based on a prior lower court ruling when plaintiff alleged the appointment of the interim superintendent in executive session null and void. There was no violation at the meeting where it happened so it was not considered in the case of the lower court.
The Appellate Court found the board in the Zehner case merely recitation of the statutory language in section 105(1) of the Open Meeting Law (OML) was not sufficient. They must specify the "personnel" matter discussed in the executive session. If they go into executive session to discuss the appointment of the superintendent, it must say this is the reason not simply "personnel" matter.
Besides having to pay the attorney fees, the board in this case had to attend training by the Committee on Open Government.
It was cited in Zehner that, "the law is well-settled that fixing the appropriate remedy for a public body's actions in violation of the OML is expressly a matter of judicial discretion."
Hence, in the Paladino Article 78 Proceeding it will be the State Supreme Court Justice hearing the case judicial discretion to fix the appropriate remedy if there has been any violation of OML. It's hardly doubtful he'll order the appointment of Dr. Pamela Brown and her appointment as consultant until her contract is negotiated null and void.
Yet, Paladino complaint goes beyond just the Open Meeting Law in the media alleging in an interview that Dr Brown is not qualified to be superintendent because she lacks management and administration experience as reported in the Buffalo News.
Dr. Brown's resume shows she has administrative and management experience refutes his allegation. Also, he alleges the board gave Dr. Brown preference because she is African-American. Though it was not a criteria for hiring her, the district is 80% minority students and her candidacy appropriate to the demographics in the district beyond her competency over the other candidates.
And Paladino called the board "incompetent" keep "hiring incompetents... someone from someplace else." Just because a candidate is from another state doesn't mean they are incompetent.
He blamed the five African-American women on the board primarily responsible for hiring Dr. Brown though the vote was 7-2 with Ralph Hernandez, West District Rep. and John Licata, at Large Rep. voting for her appointment and they are not African-Americans. Hernandez is Puerto Rican and Licata, an Italian American so her appointment was not strictly done along racial lines.
Dr. Brown is far from incompetent and is one of the more competent superintendent's the Buffalo Board of Education ever hired of any ethnic group. Her appointment was supported by the leaders in the Latino community including the professionals in education because of her fluency in the Spanish language and background in bilingual education both as a teacher and administrator.
The case is set for Wednesday, July 11, in State Supreme Court, the same day the board and Dr. Pamela Brown are suppose to agree on a contract.