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Kadri seeks reversal of Groton dismissal

By Deborah Straszheim

Publication: The Day

Published June 02. 2013 4:00AM
Former superintendent challenges school board over decisions that led to his firing

Groton - Former Superintendent of Schools Paul Kadri has filed complaints with two state agencies, seeking reversal of decisions that led to his firing.

On May 21, he filed a complaint with the state Freedom of Information Commission, arguing the meeting at which he was placed on administrative leave last year was held illegally and the actions taken should be declared "null and void."

On April 8, he filed a complaint with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, saying he suffers from a mental disorder that was a factor in the decision to terminate his employment, which therefore violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Board of Education posted a notice Friday that it will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday and may convene in executive session to discuss items including "pending litigation regarding Paul Kadri's FOI claim." The posting said the board may or may not take action after returning to open session.

Board President Kirsten Hoyt wrote in an email seeking comment about the complaints: "As you know this is an ongoing investigation and until it's complete we will be unable to comment."

The school board's lawyer, Floyd Dugas, said Friday he had not seen the FOI complaint and therefore could not comment on it. With regard to the complaint to the human rights commission, he said, "It's really unfortunate after everything the school district has been through that Mr. Kadri continues to pursue this claim."

Kadri's FOI complaint, which he released to The Day, says that on May 7, 2012, the school board went into executive session with him present, then asked him to leave at two different times. The board then invited him back in and voted to place him on administrative leave and investigate him, the complaint says.

Dugas confirmed during a telephone interview Friday that Kadri was present some of the time on May 7 and not present some of the time.

Kadri's complaint says his job performance was discussed privately though he wasn't told in advance, or he would have asked that it be done in open session, as allowed under the state Freedom of Information law.

A copy of the minutes of the May 7 Board of Education meeting report that Kadri was present during the executive sessions and do not reflect that he left or was asked to leave at any time.

The FOI complaint also alleges that the investigation was conducted "in a fraudulent manner."

The school board fired Kadri on March 5 for alleged mistreatment of employees, 10 months after he was placed on leave and the school board ordered an investigation into claims he was bullying, harassing and intimidating employees, most of them women.

Dugas represented the school board during the termination of Kadri, but also two years earlier, in which he defended Kadri against a human rights complaint. In 2010, the district settled for $197,000 with former Assistant Superintendent Dorothy Hoyt, who filed a complaint alleging age and gender discrimination.

Dugas said the issue Kadri raises is no longer relevant. "It's moot at this point in time," Dugas said. "He's had his hearing. He agreed to a process."

Kadri's human rights complaint says he suffers from bipolar spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, that some of his actions may be misconstrued, and that his condition contributed to the decision to fire him.

The complaint says the district was aware of these issues, the conduct he was terminated for was "entirely the result of my disabilities" and that he demonstrated that, "with reasonable accommodation of my disabilities, I could continue to perform all the essential functions of my job."

d.straszheim@theday.com

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