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Groton — School Superintendent Paul Kadri on Monday formally requested a hearing to address allegations of abusive behavior and moral misconduct that have led the school board to consider his termination.
Kadri's attorney, Gregg D. Adler, has asked that a neutral arbitrator, instead of the board, oversee the hearing.
"Mr. Kadri does not feel that you or the other board members would be in a position to act as an objective, unbiased tribunal at this juncture in time," Adler wrote in a letter addressed to Board of Education Chairwoman Kirsten Hoyt.
Adler said a condemning letter from Hoyt and various other actions and statements show the board does not have a truly open mind regarding the issue.
Kadri was placed on paid administrative leave in May and faces a host of claims from current and former employees who allege a pattern of bullying, intimidation and verbally abusive behavior. An investigator's report also alleges unprofessional and unethical behavior such as using school district personnel to perform personal tasks and requiring the former assistant superintendent to campaign for a school building project during her vacation time.
More recently, the board voted to investigate Kadri's use of school district grant funds based on statements from a former grants administrator that hinted at misuse of those funds.
Kadri, who was hired in 2008 and continues to earn his $167,475 yearly salary, said he is being falsely accused. He emailed a letter Monday addressed to Groton students, school district staff, and Groton taxpayers, saying he has not been given the opportunity to defend himself.
"After sitting patiently in exile for the past 179 days while my reputation has faced numerous false accusations, I have reached the point to where I have no more hope that the Board of Education will do the right thing in allowing me to address the charges against me," Kadri wrote.
Hoyt was not immediately available for comment.
The school board will have 30 days to convene a hearing to determine whether Kadri should be fired, according to his contract. The board's recommendation is due within 20 days of the end of the hearing. Adler said he has not yet made a decision about whether the hearing will be public or private.
With Kadri on leave and interim Superintendent Randall Collins' departure on Friday, the school board moved quickly Monday night to get former Bridgeport school Superintendent John Ramos to work.
While still hammering out details of a contract, the board voted to hire Ramos and pay him $644 a day. They expect to sign a contract by next week.
Ramos said he was eager to get started and visited three schools on Monday. Ramos, who said he plans on staying away from the Kadri matter, will be given the responsibility of presenting the state with details of a redistricting plan to address a racial imbalance.
Ramos, from a school district with 35 schools and 20,000 students, said he has experience in redistricting in Bridgeport.
"My job is to make sure the process is an inclusive one … ensure the community has an opportunity to weigh in," he said.
He plans to spend the week visiting schools, reaching out to parent groups and meeting with other town and school officials.