BUFFALO - It's nothing new for Carl Paladino to call for Superintendent Pamela Brown's job. In fact, he's asked for her resignation repeatedly since his election to the Board of Education for the Buffalo Public Schools last spring.
But Thursday marked the first time Brown's supporters stepped into the public spotlight to fight back.
A rally organized by Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant, with the coordination of three women's advocacy groups, drew hundreds of people to the steps of City Hall in a display of support for the embattled superintendent. The school board is expected to discuss Paladino's motion to dismiss Brown at its meeting next week, just as it did in July, when that same motion failed.
"We're talking about a system that's been breaking down for 40 years, and I think it's unfair to blame one person for the failures of many," Ellicott District Common Council member Darius Pridgen said. "So we can run Dr. Brown out of town, but that doesn't necessarily fix the problem."
Pridgen took control of the megaphone on Thursday evening in front of a crowd of fellow politicians - like Grant and mayoral candidate Sergio Rodriguez - as well as regular citizens without a political affiliation. Ellen Brauza, a priest at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, deals extensively with children in the Buffalo Public Schools and wants to give Brown time to implement her plans to rebuild the district.
"To expect a complete turnaround in just one year is insane. Just insane," Brauza said. "No one could do that. No human being could do that. No board could do that."
There's no telling how the board will vote this time on Paladino's motion. At-large board member John Licata and Board President Barbara Seals-Nevergold both said they don't believe Brown's job is in jeopardy. Seals-Nevergold, along with Mary Ruth Kapsiak and Sharon Belton-Cottman, also went on record in support of Brown.
North District member Jason McCarthy wouldn't reveal his vote, but he did relay messages from principals, teachers and community members who were upset at the scheduling of a rally for Brown. Paladino also denounced rallies of any type.
"I don't think it's appropriate that any teachers or principals go to a rally in support, or not in support, of a superintendent."
West District member James Sampson simply said the rally won't matter for the board.
"I appreciate the reason why people are doing it, but I don't think it's going to influence the decision or the board's outcome," Sampson said.
But that didn't stop the cheering and yelling at City Hall. When Pridgen took the megaphone, he told the lively crowd that "tonight we stand together, because we are not blaming one person, we're blaming us all! She didn't come here to do this. She came here to fix this! So give her time to fix what others did from the old Buffalo!"
That all depends on whether Paladino finds four allies to oust Brown next week.