Three superintendent candidates for Groton include Ledyard's Graner

Groton — The Board of Education has chosen three finalists for the superintendent's job in Groton: Michael Graner, the superintendent in Ledyard; Denise L. Clemons, the recently hired assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in Groton; and Robert J. Angeli, the associate superintendent for instruction in Meriden Public Schools.

The board plans to interview finalists the week of Sept. 23 and make a decision by Sept. 30, according to a news release by the search firm McPherson & Jacobson LLC. The board has also created "stakeholder groups" that include members of the staff and community who will meet with candidates.

"The three candidates came strongly recommended," said board member Rita Volkmann. She said she would not feel comfortable commenting on the candidates further until after they are interviewed.

Clemons and Angeli could not immediately be reached Tuesday.

Graner, 63, is beginning his 11th year as superintendent in Ledyard and served as superintendent in Putnam from 1999 until 2003. Prior to the post in Putnam, he was principal of Tourtellotte Memorial High School in Thompson and of Waterford High School.

"I've had 10 just wonderful years and I work with a great group of people," he said of his post in Ledyard. "But I thought maybe this was a good time to sort of take on another challenge where I think I could be helpful."

Graner earned his bachelor's degree from Fordham University and taught for four years in the New York City Public Schools. In 1976, he was caught in a series of layoffs due to the city's financial crisis and applied for a commission as a U.S. Coast Guard officer. He was chosen for officer candidates' school.

He served as an education officer for three years in New York, as an English teacher at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, R.I., then as an English professor at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London.

In 1986, he served as commanding officer of various Coast Guard reserve stations in New England. He then returned to the Coast Guard Academy as a part-time English teacher and took a job as assistant principal in Waterford. He became the high school's principal in 1989.

The retired captain said he applied for the job in Groton because he believes his military, teaching and administrative backgrounds suit him well for the job. He has two grandchildren who attend S.B. Butler Elementary School, and he recently bought a house in West Mystic.

He believes rebuilding trust would be his first task.

"I think that the leadership team needs to restore a sense of trust," he said. "And I would pride myself on my ability to communicate truthfully and act with the members of the leadership team to restore trust."

The Groton school board fired former Superintendent Paul Kadri in March after an arbitrator found he violated board policy by "threatening, bullying and humiliating subordinates." Kadri has maintained he did nothing wrong and has filed complaints with two state agencies.

McPherson & Jacobson helped the school board with the search and conducted background checks on applicants before submitting six candidates' names on Aug. 26.


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