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Kat-Lewisboro Teachers Union Blasts Kreutzer's Leadership

Katonah-Lewisboro teachers union members Geoff Curtis, left, the union's vice president, and Paul Saloom attempt to address the Board of Education at Thursday night's meeting.
Katonah-Lewisboro teachers union members Geoff Curtis, left, the union's vice president, and Paul Saloom attempt to address the Board of Education at Thursday night's meeting. Photo Credit: Bob Dumas

CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – The Katonah-Lewisboro District Teachers Association has told the Board of Education it has lost faith in Superintendent Paul Kreutzer’s “ability to lead." The teachers cited, among other things, allegations of sexual misconduct and claims that Kreutzer employs bullying and intimidation tactics.

A six-page statement from the union laid out a litany  of charges, including allegations that Kreutzer has been accused of sexual harassment on four separate occasions. The statement also questions the superintendent’s ability to “skillfully manage a high-pressure job.”

The union is demanding that the board undertake an investigation into its allegations.

Both Kreutzer and Board of Education President Mark Lipton would not comment on the union’s statement, but Lipton did say, “We won’t allow a meeting to be ambushed like this. We have all sorts of methods in place [to get on the agenda].”

The teachers association released the statement at Thursday night's school board meeting to the audience and members of the press after a bizarre scenario in which several association members tried to read it aloud during the public forum portion of the meeting.

Union Vice President Geoff Curtis approached the podium and asked the board if he could have 15 minutes to speak instead of the traditional three. After some discussion, the board asked him to keep it to three minutes and then it would decide if more time would be granted.

“The Katonah-Lewisboro District Teachers Association is here tonight to announce that we have lost confidence in Dr. Paul Kreutzer’s ability to lead …” Curtis began before Lipton abruptly cut him off.

“I am going to stop you right there,” Lipton said. “We won’t allow this time for personal attacks.”

The board then broke for a recess as Lipton attempted to reach the district’s legal counsel for guidance, but he was unable to do so.

The board then continued with the rest of its agenda, skipping the public comment portion of the meeting, while union members milled around the podium. However, before the board could adjourn the meeting, union member Paul Saloom presented it with the document and demanded the board begin a Title IX investigation into its allegations.

Union members said they’ve been trying to meet with the board in executive session to discuss their concerns but have been thwarted.

“We have constantly been asking them, but they have not wanted to have the conversation,” said union President Sandy Grebinar.

The union’s statement lays out its contention that Kreutzer has been accused of sexual harassment by staff members.

“In his first year as superintendent, four female employees of the Katonah-Lewisboro School District independently alleged that Dr. Kreutzer sexually harassed them,” the statement reads. “The women directed their complaints to the district’s Title IX officer [then] Human Resource Director Carol Ann Lee. Ms. Lee could not address the complaints because she had filed her own discrimination lawsuit against Dr. Kreutzer. The district reported that its own subsequent internal investigation found the evidence unconvincing and dismissed the allegations. However, we believe the district could not be completely impartial in investigating its own superintendent.”

The union’s statement also alleges that Kreutzer has used bullying and intimidation tactics.

“Dr. Kreutzer has reportedly bullied and intimidated school district employees, administrators, teachers, town leaders, and outside workers creating a malaise and unhealthy work environment in the school community,” the statement reads. “Indeed, as a result, before his first year at the helm had ended, an unprecedented number of top-level administrators have abruptly left the district.”

The statement also accused Kreutzer of having a volatile temper that frightens employees.

“At the district office … Dr. Kreutzer’s expletive-laced, door-slamming, table-pounding rants have terrorized secretaries and staff,” the statement reads. “This is the atmosphere he has created in our heretofore highly respected school district.”

The statement also criticized Kreutzer’s handling of Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath and the subsequent nor’easter snowstorm, claiming he was on the road “screaming at NYSEG linemen” and was on the phone “venting his rage in a series of petulant tirades at town officials.”

Kreutzer was hired in April 2011, coming from New Berlin, Wisc. to fill the superintendent’s post. The appointment was controversial. The report states it was greeted with “a storm of public outcry due, in part, to the circumstances surrounding his hiring and his questionable background and reputation.”