Fired Groton school superintendent has lawsuit dismissed

Groton - One of three legal actions filed by former Superintendent of Schools Paul Kadri involving the school system was dismissed late last month while a federal and a state case are still pending.

Kadri said Friday that he will make a second filing of claims as allowed in federal court after Judge Janet C. Hall dismissed a lawsuit April 22 in which Kadri claimed the school board violated his right to due process when it fired him in March 2013. He has until May 26 to file that complaint.

Two other actions are pending. One is in New Britain Superior Court against the state Freedom of Information Commission, in which Kadri claims the commission wrongfully dismissed his case without letting him present evidence.

The second suit against Groton Public Schools in is federal court. In this action, Kadri claims the district failed to make reasonable accommodations for his bipolar disorder and attention deficit disorder, firing him instead.

"I'm in the courts because I have no other choice," said Kadri, who is being represented in the due process case by attorney Norman Pattis.

The lawyer for the school board said Hall's decision to dismiss the suit was correct.

"I expect this case to go nowhere," said Michael J. Rose, Hartford-based lawyer for the school district. "I expect that the Board of Education will prevail and the Board of Education should prevail."

In a 13-page decision, Hall ruled Kadri was given adequate opportunity to defend himself and that he agreed to have an arbitrator decide whether the board had grounds to terminate his contract. The arbitrator said the board would be justified in firing the superintendent.

Hall also dismissed Kadri's claims that former school board Chairwoman Kirsten Hoyt and Kadri's former administrative assistant, Alisha Stripling, damaged his reputation. The judge declined to conduct a detailed review.

The former superintendent said he was ambushed by allegations, denied a fair hearing and had his reputation ruined.

In the suit against the state commission charged with maintaining citizen access to freedom of information, Kadri is contesting a decision issued in February, in which the commission ruled Kadri didn't file the action on time and that the meeting two years ago in which Kadri was placed on leave was not secret. Kadri attended the meeting and was invited into the executive session, the commission said.

Kadri contends he was blindsided.

"I was denied my right under the state law to have the meeting in open session so I could hear what was going on," he said.

Commission spokesman Tom Hennick said Friday that appealing to the court is anyone's right.

The school board plans to petition the court to intervene in the appeal to provide input, said Floyd Dugas, the lawyer who argued the case for Groton.

Attorney John Williams is representing Kadri in the federal suit which claims the school department violated his rights by failing to try to accommodate his disabilities.

"No effort along those lines was made. They just turned around and fired the guy for it," Williams said.

Rose, the school board's lawyer in that case, disagreed. "He's brought a lawsuit claiming that his behavior should be excused because of his disability," Rose said. "That's not the law."

Kadri, 48, was hired in 2008 and his contract was renewed three times. In performance reviews, he was praised for his work managing the district budget in a difficult economy. But he also clashed with some board members and angered some parents, teachers and principals.

On May 7, 2012, the board placed Kadri on paid administrative leave after receiving a complaint about his conduct. An independent investigator hired by the board concluded he was humiliating and intimidating employees, most of them women.

Kadri, who still lives in Groton, said last week he has drained his savings to cover legal expenses.

A native of Detroit, Kadri worked as a school administrator in New Jersey and Pennsylvania before coming to Groton.

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