The Groton Board of Education has notified Superintendent Paul Kadri that it is considering terminating his contract for three reasons, including “insubordination against the rules or oder of the board” and “moral misconduct,” according to a Sept. 10 letter. The third reason is “other due and sufficient cause.”
Kadri’s lawyer, Gregg Adler, said Wednesday that Kadri would request a hearing but ask that it be held before a neutral third party so he may cross-examine his accusers.
“ . . .Give the way in which this situation has evolved, along with the fact that the termination notice letter is written as if all of the facts have already been found against Mr. Kadri, I do not believe that he would receive an unbiased due process hearing before the Board of Education,” Adler said in an e-mail.
He added that having an arbitrator handle the hearing would “make future litigation over this matter less likely.”
Kadri , according to an investigative report released last month.
William Blake, of the firm Harlow, Adams & Friedman, P.C. conducted the investigation, which included numerous complaints from employees. Kadri has denied wrongdoing and said he worked hard for the district.
He was placed on paid administrative leave May 7.
In the board's termination warning notice, the letter said Kadri had “mistreated current and former employees”, including Alisha Stripling, his former executive assistant; Kim Beam, the former director of human resources; Dorothy Hoyt, a former assistant superintendent; Denise Doolittle, the director of pupil services and special education; Sally Keating, a former assistant superintendent; Amy Semerjian, the district’s researcher and Wesley Greenleaf, the facilities director for the public schools.
“This has taken the form of screaming at them, pounding your fist, belittling and/or chastising employees in front of others and other behaviors and actions that caused employees to fear for their safety and caused them anxiety. . .” the letter said.
It also accused Kadri of inappropriate physical contact with Beam, and of trying to physically block Keating from leaving his office.
Kadri said in a prepared statement Wednesday that he’s been wrongly accused and victimized. He said the board immediately believed his accusers, didn’t give him a chance to respond and is trying to force him out by publicly embarrassing him.
“Getting falsely accused is something most superintendents face,” he said. “Having a board rush to judgment instead of seeking the truth is what is shocking, disruptive, and very expensive.”
The school board’s letter said that in addition to misconduct with employees, Kadri “engaged in unprofessional and unethical behavior” by using school district personnel, including Stripling, to perform personal tasks during work hours; by requiring former Assistant Superintendent Mary Ann Butler to campaign for the Phase II school construction referendum on personal time; and by trying to force Laurie LePine, the district’s director of human resources, to schedule union grievance hearings when board members unsympathetic to the administration would not be able to attend.
It also accused him of trying to persuade others to misuse grant funds.
The letter added that when employees complained, they were retaliated against and intimidated.
“Finally, the overwhelming majority of the instances described have been directed at women; you have otherwise shown a lack of respect for the input and opinions of female employees, all in violation of the district’s sexual harassment policy,” the letter said.
The full termination warning letter and Kadri’s full statement in response can be viewed as PDFs attached to this article.