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Kadri files complaint over access as termination hearing nears

By Greg Smith

Publication: The Day

Published November 15. 2012 4:00AM
Groton superintendent seeking emails sent before board placed him on leave

Groton - Groton Superintendent Paul Kadri filed a Freedom of Information complaint against the school board this week, claiming he has yet to receive what he expects are hundreds of emails and documents he feels may be pertinent to his upcoming termination hearing.

The hearing is scheduled to start on Tuesday before an independent arbitrator. Kadri, through his attorney Gregg Adler, has asked the Freedom of Information Commission to expedite his request.

"I just want to make sure there was nothing done inappropriately," Kadri said Wednesday. "I've not been given access to documents that would allow me . to fully prepare for my defense."

The 34-page complaint follows an ongoing exchange between Adler and school board attorney Floyd Dugas, along with four different disclosures by the school district since Kadri's initial FOI request on Aug. 31. Kadri has asked for things like emails between the nine school board members and another nine school district employees dating back to April 1, a month before he was placed on leave.

Kadri faces possible termination based on complaints from employees about his harassing, intimidating behavior, particularly toward women. Many allegations were uncovered during an investigation commissioned by the school board. The investigation was prompted by a complaint by Kadri's executive assistant, Alisha Stripling, who claimed she was being subjected to "intense verbal abuse and erratic, frightening physical interactions," with Kadri. More allegations followed.

Kadri denies the claims and has said he has never had a chance to address the allegations. He said email correspondence requested may shed light on how the school board moved so quickly to place him on leave after he was notified on May 4 about an accusation against him. He was placed on paid leave on May 7, something he says may hint at premeditation on the part of the school board.

"I was completely isolated from all information. I could not contact any district personnel and I was not allowed to know the allegations against me ... " Kadri wrote Wednesday in an email. "This left me highly suspicious that there was something else going on beyond a simple investigation."

The FOI complaint acknowledges receipt of some documents, but not all.

In a Nov. 6 email to Dugas, Adler wrote, "there was not a single email in this pile from before Mr. Kadri was placed on leave, and I don't think there were any that relate to, or reference him."

"Are you representing that the Board has reviewed the computers of all of the nine employees listed and not one of them sent or received any mails that mentioned Mr. Kadri during this time frame?" the email stated.

The likelihood of Kadri's request getting expedited treatment appears slim, but Adler said in a statement released Wednesday that Kadri hopes the complaint will push the board to release more documents.

Freedom of Information Public Education Officer Thomas Hennick confirmed the complaint was received on Wednesday. He said Kadri's request to expedite the complaint would be reviewed by legal staff, but it would take "extraordinary circumstances," for the commission to grant expedited status. Complaints are typically handled in the order they are received, he said.

g.smith@theday.com

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