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Kadri's options for retaliation discussed in school board attorney's email

By Chuck Potter

Publication: The Day

Published July 17. 2012 4:00AM   Updated July 17. 2012 12:56PM

Groton - The attorney for the Board of Education has expressed concern that Superintendent of Schools Paul Kadri might retaliate against the school board and witnesses if the board tries to fire him.

Kadri has been away from the district since early May when the board voted unanimously to put him on paid administration leave pending an investigation into his "interactions with and treatment of district employees."

"In addition, given what we know of the personality/temperament of the individual involved, if the report is very negative, and if the board terminates, it is likely the board will be tied up in very contentious litigation for the next several years," school board attorney Floyd Dugas wrote in a confidential email obtained by The Day.

Dugas suggested that when the report is made public, Kadri might perceive the board as having ruined his career.

"I strongly suspect that once the report becomes public Paul will ... sue the board and look for a large settlement to reflect the fact that he will have difficulty finding work. I also think he is more likely to engage in retaliation against certain witnesses."

Later in his opinion, Dugas reiterated that idea.

"Another more serious concern is that he will know who 'ratted' on him and may seek retribution," he wrote.

Contacted Monday about the email, Dugas said he could not comment.

In the email Dugas outlined his concerns after the board asked for his opinion about the risks and benefits of providing Kadri with a "preview" of the contents of a not-yet-completed report and investigation into Kadri's treatment of central office employees.

Specific allegations against Kadri have not been disclosed. In May, a town official who has dealt closely and extensively with Kadri and school staff said the investigation came about after Kadri berated a central office employee.

"He's basically a bully," the official said in May. "He yelled and screamed at a secretary. The board told him last year in his evaluation that he needed to improve the way he talked to people. Several women have left the district because of him."

The official said Dugas was made aware of Kadri's alleged behavior and alerted the school board, which took the action to maintain "a safe work environment" and avoid further encounters. Kadri has not commented on the allegations.

School board Chairman Kirsten Hoyt said Monday, following an executive session during which the board conferred with Dugas in a telephone conference call, that the investigation was proceeding on schedule and should be concluded by the end of this month.

According to the email from Dugas addressed to the school board chairman, Kadri's attorney requested that he and Kadri be given a sense of what is in the report "prior to it becoming public, for the (off the record) purpose of him discussing with Paul his 'options' before the report is finalized."

Dugas indicated his opinions had nothing to do with the content of the report.

"I note that I have no real idea what the report will state or if the board will conclude that termination is in order," he said.

"That stated, the primary benefit in previewing the report to his lawyer is that Paul may, with the urging of his lawyers, decide to resign rather than go through a hearing."

"Aside from the time and money that will be saved, we would have to have current and former board personnel testify, and that could be very difficult for some of them," Dugas said. "Some are actually in fear for their safety already, whether justified or not. ... In addition, having gone through the somewhat public process of terminating your superintendent could create a reluctance in the superintendent community to apply to Groton, limiting your pool of qualified candidates."

"... I do feel, having been down this road, that for all concerned, it will be in everyone's best interest, especially the kids, teachers, etc. if he goes away quietly without an ugly, expensive and protracted battle," he wrote.

c.potter@theday.com

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