Carl P. Paladino didn’t yell at anyone, and nobody yelled at Paladino. A few fumed, but it never got unbearable. And despite the best efforts of the School Board president to keep Paladino contained by unilaterally sending many of his resolutions to committee, each and every one came to the floor.
Some were approved at Wednesday night’s board meeting, some failed, and many were sent to committee.
Paladino lost his bid to have Superintendent Pamela C. Brown’s evaluation rescinded, and he failed – despite showing everyone a cute photo of his dog – to gain board approval to bring his companion Duke to future meetings.
New board member Paladino came largely prepared to speak and was given as polite and professional a response as he could reasonably expect. His ability to get even one of his resolutions approved suggests he may be able to cobble together support and make progress with some of his agenda items this year.
He started off with a win early on – gaining 5-4 approval to require that the superintendent email all board members soon after receiving any nonconfidential correspondence from the state education commissioner.
His resolution was timely, since Commissioner John B. King Jr. just sent a three-page letter to the superintendent Wednesday denying school-turnaround grant money to East and Lafayette high schools because of their chronically poor performance.
“Both schools are at risk of having their registration revoked,” King stated in his letter, which board members were all supposedly emailed but not all of them had received Wednesday night.
While some board members complained that Paladino’s resolution was “micromanaging” the superintendent, new board members Theresa Harris-Tigg, James M. Sampson and Paladino voted in favor, as did board members John B. Licata and Jason M. McCarthy.
All of Paladino’s issues regarding rescinding and reconsidering the superintendent’s recently approved evaluation failed.
So did his demand to get an outside legal opinion to determine whether there any impropriety attached to the superintendent’s side agreement with the teachers union regarding teacher evaluations.
But the bulk of his issues – ranging from student placement protocols to extending the school day – got discussed.
And most were sent either to committee for further discussion and fact-finding or were referred directly to the superintendent to provide answers.
That doesn’t mean everyone was happy about it.
Board member Florence D. Johnson said she didn’t appreciate being “held hostage” by Paladino’s agenda for hours on end.
And board member Sharon Belton-Cottman stated that Paladino would have more credibility with the rest of the board if he would actually contact and meet with school administrators and get answers to his questions instead of coming to the board and raising issues there.
Licata, a lawyer, repeatedly stepped in to assist board President Barbara Seals Nevergold in keeping the meeting from moving too far off the rails when Paladino got rolling off topic, but the meeting was still interminable.
The meeting started at 5:30 p.m. and ended its “open session” at about 10:10, only to go into executive session to discuss Paladino’s resolution regarding the resignation of the superintendent, which, of course, didn’t happen.
The recorded meeting chewed through two long-running tapes, and the crusty Paladino, a commercial developer, was treated like a celebrity by the media during a brief board recess.
“This board meeting has more sequences than ‘Rocky,’ ” quipped district spokeswoman Elena Cala.
Paladino, representing the Park District, asked that the board continue to meet during the summer instead of waiting until late August to reconvene both regular meetings and committee meetings, which typically go on hiatus in the summer.
That request was not seconded by anyone, but Nevergold agreed to hold a special board meeting in the coming weeks to discuss the latest letter from the state education commissioner.