Katonah-Lewisboro school board President Mark Lipton accused the Katonah-Lewisboro District Teachers Association of acting in an “unfortunate” and “confrontational” manner at the school board’s meeting on Thursday, Dec. 13, at which leaders of the teachers union said that it had “lost confidence” in Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Kreutzer.
At Thursday’s meeting, seven members of the teachers union, led by John Jay High School teacher Geoff Curtis, distributed a six-page document accusing Dr. Kreutzer of various improprieties and of failing to “exhibit good judgment, common sense and perception.”
On Saturday, the board released a three-paragraph statement in which Mr. Lipton criticized the union for its behavior and said that the school board, not the teachers union, is responsible for evaluating Dr. Kreutzer’s job performance.
Addressing the union’s accusations, Mr. Lipton said that “none of the information made known to the public [by the teachers union] was unknown to the board.” Mr. Lipton went on to chastise the teachers union for its behavior.
“We find it unfortunate,” he said, “that the KLDTA chose to share its concerns in a confrontational public manner, rather than utilizing appropriate and respectful means of communications. Oddly, many of these concerns date to Dr. Kreutzer’s previous employment in Wisconsin, while others refer to his time in Katonah-Lewisboro.”
Although the union demanded an investigation of Dr. Kreutzer, Mr. Lipton said that the board would continue its standard process of performance review for Dr. Kreutzer. “It is the board of education that is responsible for ensuring that the superintendent discharges his duties effectively,” Mr. Lipton said. “As mandated by contract, the board will continue to exercise its performance evaluations of the superintendent using our established protocols.”
The Ledger has learned from reliable sources that the board believes that the union leadership’s behavior on Thursday night was an attempt to divert attention away from the district’s financial condition, as discussed in the FACE report delivered to the board that evening.
A source familiar with the school board’s thinking told The Ledger that, “As the FACE report showed, the district’s finances are under a severe and maybe irreversible strain, almost exclusively because of teachers’ salaries and benefits, which far outstrip every other district in Westchester, including far wealthier districts than ours, such as Scarsdale, Armonk and Chappaqua.”
“The only way to realistically view the union leadership’s behavior on the very night the FACE report was presented,” one source said, “is to see it as an attempt to divert public attention away from this fact and to bring up false and rehashed allegations against the superintendent. This was an unprincipled sneak attack full of smears and innuendos with no basis in fact. Not only was their behavior embarrassing to each of them as individuals, it casts doubt on the judgment of the teachers throughout the district that they would allow themselves to be represented by people who behave this way.”