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Ten months after the Groton Board of Education placed Superintendent Paul Kadri on paid administrative leave, and six months after voting to fire him, it appears the long and costly effort to remove Mr. Kadri from his position is over - maybe.
After an extensive review process, including several hearings held over three months, arbitrator Timothy Bornstein reached the conclusion that seemed obvious from the start - the school board had ample justification to terminate the superintendent's contract. Mr. Bornstein's review confirmed the findings of an earlier investigatory report that documented how the superintendent bullied employees, usually women, frequently to the point of tears. Mr. Kadri was, wrote Mr. Bornstein, "an abusive insensitive supervisor."
"His treatment of subordinates was often disrespectful and humiliating," states the arbitrator's report.
This did not have to drag on so long. The arbitrator determined that board members were already aware of allegations of abusive behavior when, in July 2011, the school board gave Mr. Kadri a favorable review and extended his contract three years. The board hired Mr. Kadri in December 2008.
"One wonders whether the Board missed opportunities to intervene before the crisis stage was reached in 2012," wrote Mr. Bornstein.
As for Mr. Kadri, it is hard to fathom why he fought this matter so long, given the weight of evidence. Certainly there were opportunities earlier on to settle matters and for him to go away quietly. This nasty, prolonged and public fight can't help future job prospects.
The big losers are the taxpayers and the school system. As of last month legal expenses and the cost of paying Mr. Kadri's salary (while also paying a replacement) were approaching $400,000. And while by all accounts interim Superintendent John Ramos is doing an adequate job, the prolonged legal fight has been disruptive.
By agreement the arbitrator's decision is binding on both parties. Yet in the U.S. legal system there seems to be unending opportunities to litigate and on Wednesday Mr. Kadri would not rule out taking further legal steps. His better choice would be to end this now.