The Board of Education's decision on Monday to place the superintendent on administrative leave may affect the major redistricting and consolidation plan for the town's schools.
The chairwoman of the Groton Board of Education said Tuesday she doesn’t know yet how the decision would affect Groton’s plans to redistrict the public schools to correct a racial imbalance and to consolidate middle schools.
School Board Chairwoman Kirsten Hoyt said she would meet with Acting Superintendent of Schools Mary Anne Butler this week to talk about what happens next.
“We’ll know better during the end of the week what we’re moving forward with and what we’re not,” Hoyt said.
The school board voted 8-0 Monday to place Kadri on paid administrative leave pending an investigation of his "interactions with and treatment of district employees." Board member Bob Peruzzotti was absent.
Hoyt declined to say what prompted the decision. She said the board would hire an investigator in consultation with school district attorney Floyd Dugas, but had not chosen one yet. Hoyt said she does not know how much the investigation will cost.
Meanwhile, Groton is proceeding with plans to , including buying portable classrooms for Cutler and West Side middle schools.
The board is also in the midst of , partly to correct a racial imbalance at Catherine Kolnaski Magnet School.
In addition, town leaders are trying to assemble a group to , and the school board just started .
While officials on Tuesday would not provide details of what led to Monday's action by the board, Kadri was at the center of filed in August 2011, in New London Superior Court by former central office administrator Dottie Hoyt. Her lawsuit contended Kadri created a hostile work environment and caused her to develop an anxiety disorder, and then refused to accommodate her disability.
Court records show the case was withdrawn on April 16, in favor of the “discussion of the parties on their own.”
Nina Pirrotti, the New Haven lawyer handling the case for Hoyt said Tuesday: “Dr. Hoyt’s claims have been resolved.”
The Groton Board of Education meets next on Monday at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall Annex. A meeting scheduled for today between representatives of the teachers’ union and board of education to discuss school climate has been canceled.
Representative Town Meeting is scheduled to start deliberating at 7:30 p.m. in the Groton Senior Center on the proposed school budget for the coming fiscal year. Keith Hedrick, chairman of the RTM education committee, said he believes that discussion can proceed.
Town Mayor Heather Bond Somers said Tuesday the decision to place Kadri on leave now creates a “perfect storm” for Groton.
“There’s the redistricting, there’s the whole middle school consolidation, there’s the construction project (at the middle schools), there’s trying to get a school planning task force off the ground and running," she said. "There’s so much going on at the same time, that without strong leadership from the board, and whoever is going to be acting as the superintendent…it could really be the perfect storm.”
“And for me, I wish there was something more that the town council could do, but it’s completely out of our jurisdiction. But I empathize with the people of Groton that this is happening now.”
Town Councilor Bruce Flax said he wouldn’t want to see major changes turned upside down.
“As far as the decision to suspend him, I respect what the board of ed does,” he said, adding, “As far as making changes now to plans like consolidating middle schools, I think that would be a big mistake. I don’t think they have enough time to put another plan into effect.”
Flax said students would suffer.
Hedrick said Kadri’s removal could leave a leadership void and result in fighting for position.
“Kadri was a strong personality. And he led,” Hedrick said. “Now some people didn’t like the way he led. He’s a little more rough around the edges than people around here are used to. But if there’s a void, some people or groups may be jockeying for position, and we could end up in more disarray than we are now.”
Hedrick said people have been speculating about what caused Kadri to be removed, sometimes working themselves into a frenzy.
“They need to keep calm heads, cool heads,” Hedrick said. “We need to focus on what’s ahead out there.”
The school year is nearly over, people are emotional about major decisions like redistricting and Kadri may have been working on things the general public doesn’t know about, Hedrick said.
The school board and administration have to step up and lead, he said.
“I don’t know the facts behind why the board of ed took the action that they took. . . was it one thing, was it a series of things that led up to this?” Hedrick said, but added, “Now that he’s gone, what are we going to do now, and who’s going to do it?”
Genevieve Cerf, a member of the Representative Town Committee’s education committee, said she was pleasantly surprised the board acted.
“I felt this was long overdue,” she said. “I don’t know whether they’re going to rap him on the knuckles and send him back in there. The man is just, if nothing else, incredibly rude to people.”
Cerf said she liked Kadri initially because of his energy, but he angered and confused people. Teachers felt intimidated by him, she said. The situation with Hoyt may have been the last straw, she said.
“It appears this assistant superintendent may have drawn blood,” Cerf said.