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After Kadri's Firing, Accusations Begin

Board Member Shelley Gardner says her colleagues allowed a bad situation to get worse by extending former Superintendent Paul Kadri's contract.

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.

Genevieve Cerf March 06, 2013 at 07:26 PM
If "thoughfully work together" is how they picked Kadri, then perhaps less thought and more scrupulous analysis is what's needed....
joe March 06, 2013 at 10:06 PM
I agree with everything Shelley Gardner has said in this article. Those board members should resign. They are the main reason we have the problems we do. They continue to make bad decisions. Chaz Zezulka has no clue as to what is going on, as shown by his comments. How can we all stand behind Shelley and make these resignations become a reality ? It would be nice.
B-Mom March 07, 2013 at 02:27 AM
The only member of the board who ever questions Kadri was Rita. Ms. Washington was the chair at the time he was hired and if I recall correctly was very supportive of Kadri because of his business background. Also, the hiring committee needs to include teachers, parents and community members for the entire process this time. All members of that team should google candidates and discuss those findings. With that said - this board needs to stop bickering and get to work.
jean park March 07, 2013 at 05:28 PM
Hi Scott, thanks for the intro. See you at a meeting.
Franky Camper March 10, 2013 at 03:58 AM
You got it right Joe. Some Members are more at fault than others for this catastrophe. Clearly the newer members were not responsible for bringing Kadri here, and thankfully Brian Shirvell and Jennifer Simm, who were instrumental in it, left office last year. One can't imagine how this mess would have shaken out had those staunch Kadri supporters been in office for all of this. As a Groton resident and teacher I would like to see Chaz Zezulka, Bob Peruzzotti, Kirsten Hoyt and Beth Gianacoplos excuse themselves from their BOE positions immediately. They share responsibility for bringing Kadri to Groton, and, much more so than the newer Board members, have time and again demonstrated an inability to function effectively as a Board. Frankly, the thought of this group of people finding, vetting, and hiring Kadri's successor is downright frightening. We must do everything we can to see that this scenario does not arise. Francis

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