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With Kadri On Leave, What Next?

Groton may face "the perfect storm" with superintendent on administrative leave during consolidation and redistricting.

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.

Unanimous vote

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 .

Lawsuit withdrawn

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Court records show the case was withdrawn on April 16, in favor of the  “discussion of the parties on their own.”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.”

Meeting canceled

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.

'Perfect storm'

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.

Leadership void

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.

Elizabeth Wilson May 09, 2012 at 12:16 PM
For the record, I have never once felt intimidated by Mr. Kadri. I have worked on numerous district projects with him, and I have always been impressed by his focus getting things done in the best interest of the students. When a particular directive came from his office that I didn't think made sense for my school, I spoke directly to Mr. Kadri and he whole-heartedly supported our proposed solution. Many of my colleagues have felt empowered for the first time, as a result of Mr. Kadri's respect for our opinions of what works and what doesn't work at the classroom level. I am not implying Mr. Kadri was without faults. I do not question the negative experiences others have reported. I do not wish to belittle in any way traumatic experiences other district employees have had. But I feel it is important to let the community know that not all teachers were intimidated by him. Mr. Kadri has led the district through a great deal of much needed change, and change never happens without stirring the pot. I am confident that our BOE will make sound decisions based on facts resulting from this investigation. It is my hope that, as a result of all of the conflict, that the board will not shy away from selecting future superintendants who are also not afraid to shake things up in the best interest of our students.
LegacyMom May 09, 2012 at 01:43 PM
The BOE is going to "hire" an "investigator" to consult with the attorney about THEIR decision! Between the BOE, the lawyers and education committees, they have to seek outside consultants! Typical! Make a decision and then play possum. How much will it cost, should "they" decide to break Kadri's contract? Kadri came into a dysfunctional antiquated system;. So, he's "rough" around the edges, which really translates into he's direct and I don't like him. Wasn't he hired to make changes and bring this system into the 21st century? People want him gone because he doesn't handle them with kit gloves, and doesn't play in the sandbox like they think he should. He was hired to move our education system forward, not to make friends and hold hands. Progress not regress.
Lewis May 09, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Gee Legacy Mom, you really don't know much about Kadri, do you? First of all, here's a man who is superintendent and has never spent one day teaching inside a classroom. How can anyone expect him to know what's best for students or teachers if he doesn't have the insight to understand what happens during those 6 hours a day? The man is nothing more than a bean-counter. I'm sorry, but our schools are not corporations and they don't need to answer to shareholders. Secondly, Kadri is like a child when he doesn't get his way and becomes vengeful to those who get in his way. Unfortunately, you won't be able to hear those stories because they are discussed in executive session. The Dottie Hoyt story is a nightmare. Kadri also hired several people from New Jersey. How nice of him to take the time a few years ago to summarize how local people may have been able to fill the psoitions that he seemed to think only Jerseyites could fill. As the son of a former educator, I am appalled at this bull in a china shop character. It's time to send him back to New Jersey, if the people there will accept him. Gotcha Jersey boy! Bye-bye. There is a God.
KrisKristie May 09, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Hello from New Jersey-The Garden State!! As governor I gave Mr. Kadri the "boot" several years ago,but with my substantial girth, I could only punt him as far as Pennsylvania. PA drop kicked him after a year or so to you fine people in the Constitution State. It appears that many of you wish to see him depart from New England all together. PLEASE-anywhere but back here. We have enough problems-have you seen Jersey Shore? The fact that people like that live here is a cultural embarrassment matter for my general assembly. There are 47 more states in our fair country before we from the state of the Goldfinch are due again. At the risk of being cryptic, perhaps The Land of Lincoln, the Bluegrass State, maybe The Aloha State, or even the Palmetto State. Anywhere but back to New jersey. Thank you very much
Joyce Lynch May 10, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Those of you who are thinking he is just rough around the edges do not know or have had any dealings with him that were not on his agenda. Students do not come first with him or the people who he has put in charge of many departments, it is money and power. Groton needs leaders who actually know what teaching is all about. Dishonesty to the taxpayers and employees is not the kind of example that students need to have as a leader. All of his hires from outside and within need to be investigated as most of them are just as bad of an example for the students.
LegacyMom May 10, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Think about his... Who hired him? Who extended his contract? Who then awarded A's and B's on his review?
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