Groton's bills in Kadri case near $400,000

Groton - Superintendent Paul Kadri hasn't worked in the school district since May.

But costs associated with his placement on paid administrative leave, including his salary and the legal costs surrounding his possible termination, are nearing $400,000, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request filed by The Day.

Kadri was placed on leave in May due to allegations of intimidation and abusive treatment of employees, particularly women. The school board is seeking his ouster, and a closed-door termination hearing wrapped up last month.

Hired in 2008, Kadri is still being paid his $167,475 yearly salary, and costs to the district since he was placed on leave total $133,000. Meanwhile, the board has essentially been paying twice his salary for people to run the district. Randall Collins was paid $48,766 for his time as interim superintendent. Current Interim Superintendent John Ramos' salary is $140,300 through June 30.

Kadri's current contract expires on June 30, 2014. The future of that contract is likely to depend on the results of the termination hearing. Briefs from attorneys on each side are due Monday, and a decision is expected within 30 days. The hearing is being overseen by arbitrator Timothy Bornstein, who is being paid $6,400 by the school system.

Also involved in the hearing is attorney William Blake, who was also enlisted by the school board to investigate complaints against Kadri. The school district reports they have paid Blake $27,337 to date. General legal fees have cost the district another $40,027.

In a telephone interview on Friday, Kadri said that while he has accepted the arbitrator's decision as final, he would not rule out future litigation with the school system.

"There's a good chance this isn't the end," Kadri said.

Kadri contends that the school system has paid or lost even more money in the time he has been gone that is not documented. They are things like grant applications he was working on but have not been followed up on, and a redistricting plan that the school district paid a consultant to complete but that Kadri said he would have drafted.

He also says he has spent "tens of thousands of dollars" fighting what he maintains are false accusations.

Ramos, who was not involved in the Kadri hearing, said legal fees expended in association with Kadri come from the legal services line item in the school budget and may cause the district to overspend this year, since most of the expenses were unplanned.

"We have built additional dollars into next year's legal fees line to help us meet any obligations," Ramos said by email.

Ramos will present a 2013-14 budget proposal to the school board on Monday.

While the budget has not changed in the past three years, added costs and dropping revenues are expected to add at least $3 million over the current year's expenses. According to discussion by the school board's finance subcommittee, contractual obligations have risen by more than $1 million, redistricting costs are estimated at $440,000 and at least $1 million in federal grant money has been lost.

"Our plan is to present a budget that reflects current year costs plus any additional expenses that are appropriate (such as contractual expenses and transportation expenses associated with redistricting)," Ramos said. "We will then outline potential cuts that bring the budget to a zero percent increase."

g.smith@theday.com

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