During Wednesday’s Executive Affairs Committee meeting, Buffalo school board members were divided on who should be allowed to sit in on the group’s Executive Committee meetings.
Similar name, but unlike other board committees that are open to all members the Executive Committee has typically been made up of the president and two vice presidents – the board’s elected positions.
But recently School Board President Barbara Nevergold departed from that practice by letting member Mary Ruth Kapsiak attend the meetings. That didn’t sit well with vice president Jason McCarthy, who on Wednesday argued that allowing a fourth member to attend is unfair because it automatically excludes any other board members who might wish to participate. That’s because if five or more board members convene at the same time it becomes a public meeting under the state’s open government laws.
“For the Board President to unilaterally give preferential treatment to one board member over all others is concerning to me,” McCarthy wrote in a memo to Nevergold.
That issue apparently came up in December at a meeting with the state education department. Both Kapsiak and Paladino showed up and wanted to sit in, but Paladino was asked to leave so the meeting would not become public.
Other board members came to Kapsiak’s defense, saying she was invited to attend because she has expertise in the topics discussed. Kapsiak was a teacher, and held numerous positions in the Buffalo Public Schools, including overseeing elementary education.
Still, McCarthy and other board members said it’s dangerous to start playing one board’s members background against another, especially when it could determine their participation in a meeting.
If that were the case, John Licata pointed out, Paladino should be the only board member allowed to sit on the Joint Schools Construction Board.
Paladino, a developer, has repeatedly tried to get a spot on that committee, a request that Nevergold has just as repeatedly refused.
- Tiffany Lankes