Groton school board votes to tell Kadri he may be fired

Groton — The Board of Education voted Thursday to notify Superintendent of Schools Paul Kadri that it is considering terminating his contract.

The board planned to meet in a closed session to discuss an investigator’s report into allegations that Kadri yelled at employees, created a hostile work environment and asked employees to engage in behavior they felt to be unethical, or behaved unethically himself.

The investigator, William T. Blake, of Harlow, Adams & Friedman in Milford, went to Thursday’s meeting. So, too, did Kadri and his lawyer, Gregg D. Adler.

Through his lawyer, Kadri requested that the hearing be held in public session. The board acquiesced but did not discuss the contents of the report during the five-minute meeting.

Kirsten E. Hoyt, the school board chairwoman, acknowledged the board received the report and said the purpose of the meeting was to figure out what to do with it.

School board attorney Floyd Dugas presented the options, ranging from doing nothing or considering disciplinary action short of termination to initiating the process to end Kadri’s employment.

Board member Beverly Washington made a motion to notify Kadri that terminating his contract was under consideration and allow Hoyt and Dugas to write the statement of reasons. There was no discussion. The motion passed 8-0; member Chaz Zezulka was absent. Hoyt then adjourned the meeting.

Adler, of Livingston, Adler, Pulda, Meiklejohn & Kelly PC in Hartford, asked if the board would allow Kadri to make a statement, but Hoyt said the meeting was over.

“I do not wish to hear his statement,” added Washington.

Dugas told Adler to submit a written copy of the statement, in which Kadri argues he has been falsely accused.

Adler said after the meeting that he was disappointed the board wasn’t willing to have an open discussion about the report. He assumed the members discussed it amongst themselves or with Dugas beforehand.

Kadri can request a hearing before the school board, and the board would have to convene within 30 days to determine whether the contract should be terminated. Adler said his client does plan to do so, but he doubted that the board could be objective.

When Adler was asked whether Kadri would want to return as the superintendent, Kadri whispered in his attorney’s year that he “would love to come back tomorrow.”

Kadri was placed on paid administrative leave in May. Under his current contract, Kadri’s base salary is $167,475. His term ends June 30, 2014, if the agreement isn’t renewed.

A complaint by Kadri’s executive assistant, Alisha Stripling, led to the investigation. Stripling said she was subjected to “intense verbal abuse and erratic, frightening physical interactions” with Kadri, and she worked in fear of him, the report said.

Among additional allegations, Kadri is accused of directing an employee not to request overtime pay she was entitled to, attempting to use grant funds for improper purposes, telling an assistant superintendent to take a personal day to hold campaign signs with him and other administrators during a referendum, and contacting employees and the potential employer of a former employee to undermine her application after he was placed on leave, the report said.

The report contains statements from seven other past and present employees describing abusive treatment they say they either experienced or witnessed. Most of the witnesses are female, but one male employee did say Kadri called him at home to yell at him.

Kadri has denied acting improperly in his dealings with the employees. The investigating firm was not asked to provide the school board with any recommendation for action.


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