Groton School Board Member Shelley Gardner said Tuesday the members of the board who voted to renew former Superintendent Paul Kadri’s contract in 2011 allowed a bad situation to continue and should resign.
Kadri was fired Tuesday, after an independent arbitrator found that he “engaged in conduct warranting termination of his employment".
“The people of Groton were faced with the misfortune of having to terminate a board of ed employee through a lengthy legal process,” Gardner said. “Board members were knowledgeable of the misconduct and most chose, not all, to not only ignore it by not pursuing it, but to reinforce and enable the unhealthy situation to continue and escalate by renewing the individuals contract...”
Gardner said every one who voted to renew Kadri's contract should resign effective immediately.
Chaz Zezulka said the board acted appropriately and he feels no need to resign.
"I just feel it's sad for the students and the town of Groton. It's part of our history now that this happened," Zezulka said. "But to say that we're responsible. . .we acted responsibly. We had to move cautiously. We had to provide him with due process."
"You have to have good cause if you think somebody is being irresponsible or not fulfilling their duties and it takes a long time," Zezulka said. "And that's why we are where we are right now because we crossed our Ts and dotted our Is."
The board voted 5-2 in August 2011 to extend Kadri’s contract one year until 2014.
Board members Zezulka, Patricia Doyle, Robert Peruzzotti, former board chairman Brian Shirvell and former board member Jen Sim voted yes; members Rita Volkmann and Beverly Washington voted no. Kirsten Hoyt, the vice chairwoman at the time, and Elizabeth Gianacoplos were absent for the vote.
Zezulka said the first few years after Kadri was hired, things the board wanted seemed to be there: A zero increase in the budget, no teacher layoffs and increased student achievement.
But there were also warning signs, he said: Rumors without proof.
"I don't know if any board members were actually privy to anything that would be detrimental to any interactions between his employees," he said. Zezulka said no one ever came to him personally and discussed the problems.
Gardner said she believes that when the next superintendent is chosen, the school board should not be solely responsible for the decision.
“I think people should be chosen from different boards in town and make up a committee who will chose the next superintendent. Because the board uses poor judgment,” she said.
Zezulka said he agrees the search should involve other people, but not because the board lacks judgment.
"We should be working together for the betterment of the students and the town of Groton. It's not happening when a board member attacks other board members," he said.