Teachers union blasts Kreutzer, asks school board for investigation

Members of the Katonah-Lewisboro District Teachers Association wait to speak during a public forum at the school board meeting on Thursday, Dec. 13. (Matt Spillane photo)

What began as a routine school board meeting morphed into a tension-filled frenzy Thursday night as members of the teachers union gathered to express their “lost confidence” in Dr. Paul Kreutzer’s abilities as superintendent of schools.

Seven members of the Katonah-Lewisboro District Teachers Association lined up at the podium in the John Jay Middle School library during the meeting’s public forum to voice their concerns about Dr. Kreutzer and ask the board to make a Title IX investigation into his conduct.

In a six-page document that was distributed to the crowd, the union detailed its displeasure with Dr. Kreutzer’s actions and behavior as superintendent.

“He is either unwilling or unable to speak thoughtfully, articulately and with conviction about mandated initiatives including RTI, the Common Core, APPR and other programs that impact students, teaching and learning,” the union wrote.

The union also wrote that Dr. Kreutzer “has reportedly bullied and intimidated school district employees,” that his “expletive laced, door slamming, table pounding rants have terrorized secretaries and staff,” and that four female employees of the district have “independently alleged that Dr. Kreutzer sexually harassed them… The district reported that its own subsequent internal investigation found the evidence unconvincing and dismissed the allegations. However, we believe the district could not have been completely impartial in investigating its own superintendent. The KLDTA objectively and independently investigated the facts of Dr. Kreutzer’s [alleged harassment].”

Additionally, the union wants Dr. Kreutzer to explain his whereabouts during last month’s nor’easter, when he allegedly spent part of that evening at a spa in Ridgefield. In a recent statement to The Ledger, Dr. Kreutzer said that, “Although some may see this as a poor judgment call on my part, there are material facts that should not cloud perceptions. Throughout the course of the storm I was in constant communication in an oversight capacity with our transportation supervisor, monitoring the situation remotely, and there were never any operational issues associated with our response. We did everything that could be done to address an admittedly difficult situation – a situation that all districts were facing, with none dismissing early. The safety and well-being of our students is always my first priority, and I would never waver from this. No matter my location, my job as superintendent requires 24/7 response, which I consistently supply to the Katonah-Lewisboro School District.”

Public forum

During the public forum that followed presentations on special education, the annual FACE financial expenditures report, and the new school utilization committee, John Jay High School teacher Geoff Curtis, with six other teachers behind him, asked the board for 15 minutes to speak, rather than the usual three minutes allotted per person during public forums.

After some debate by the board members, they seemingly decided to allow Mr. Curtis a few extra minutes. Reading from the union’s document, Mr. Curtis said that members of the teachers union were there because they “have lost confidence in Dr. Paul Kreutzer’s ability to lead this school district,” but he was immediately cut off by board president Mark Lipton.

“We can’t allow personal attacks,” Mr. Lipton said before ordering a five-minute recess for the board to discuss the situation.

“This is a personnel attack,” Mr. Curtis countered, “not a personal attack.”

Mr. Lipton left the room to huddle with his fellow board members and try to call the district’s legal counsel to seek advice on how to handle this unprecedented scenario. After failing to reach the district’s attorney, Mr. Lipton said that there would be no public forum for the evening, but that the board would take the union’s printed materials, run them by legal counsel, and if appropriate, make time at a future meeting for the union’s comments.

Mr. Curtis asked the board if it would meet with the union in executive session after the board meeting to discuss the issues. The board seemed willing to set up an executive session to discuss the employment history of a certain individual – Dr. Kreutzer – just not immediately.

Board member Peter Breslin said that he did not think it would be appropriate to do that without legal counsel, and Mr. Lipton agreed, saying, “We should not allow our meeting to be ambushed like this.”

Mr. Lipton said there are different channels to communicate these concerns, and that, “I have no problem hearing any message delivered in the appropriate manner.”

Board member Marjorie Schiff, however, said that the fact that the teachers union has to go through all of this to voice its concerns seems to show that those channels are not working.

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  • brutus

    I would counsel any young person looking to purchase a home in Lewisboro not to bother. In effect, it will really be owned by the teachers’ union, and the young homeowners will spend their lives working to fund teachers pensions while any incremental rise in the value of the home will not keep up with inflation. Dr. Kreutzer understands this dynamic and that is why he’s so dangerous to the unions

  • Richard Morrissey

    If you are so angry with the teachers, why do you send your children to school each day?

    It is Kreutzer who is a bully, he has a long history of anger problems, and he spends money on frivolous items like KL dishware, glasses and logos.
    He has allowed a potentially incompetent special education director to misleed the public and sabotage the good programs that existed in the past.

    Where was he during the storm? There should be an obligation to admit the truth.

  • Teresa Ellsworth

    Surprise Surprise! Lewisboro was warned that this guy was a Koch Brothers plant. But di you listen? Noooooooo!!!!

  • Edna Malkowitz

    Brutus, it may be factual that the union needs to be reigned in but if any of accusations about this Superintendent are true then he should be suspended. I did find it curious that key administrators left en mass soon after he took over. I recall the antics of John Chambers who bedded down some females while he was Principal at the high school, the criminality of Douglas Both and the financial escapades of Robert Lichtenfeld. These incidents and this history does speak will for the Boards of Education Lewisboro has had. It is time for some strong accountability. The taxes in this town are absurd and something needs to be done about the corruption, down right mismanagement and incompetence that seem to be accepted here.

  • Richard Morrissey

    Talk about bedding down with others. There have been questions raised about past and current improprieties with current BOE members. Many are aware of the illicit relationships between BOE members and local parents.

    People in the community need to seek the truth.

  • edna malkowitz

    It is also abundantly clear leaving little doubt that this Board of Education is composed of a majority of idiots, incompetents, apple knockers,and generally comprised mostly but not entirely of f….g idiots and douche bags.

  • leavingverysoon

    yawn… what you see is what you get. why is this board so surprised? There is nothing new here. The dude’s got anger management and apparently a lot of other issue, as well.

  • Glenn DeFaber

    This is a scurrilous attempt by a desperate and militant union to destroy the second most important obstacle in their quest to continue K-L’s path to bankruptcy. The first being the 2% tax levy cap which the teachers union has already brought suit against. For many years Sandy Grebinar president of the union has used her “foul mouth” to intimidate anybody who opposed her agenda. She has taken this fight to a new low in alleging sexual harassment. Dr. Kreutzer is not the teachers’ union pawn the last four superintendents have been. When one cannot win on the merits of their argument evil people resort to character assassination to achieve their goals. I hope every parent can now see that these self-serving union officials are not there for their child’s wellbeing but for their own personal gain. How low does an organization have to sink to use children as pawns in their quest for greater power over the taxpayers in K-L?

  • Richard Morrissey

    And Mr. deFaber, how do you explain Kreutzer’s history in Wisconsin? His issues manifest long before he came to KL. his behavior has been witnessed by multiple staff including all of the staff at the District office. Now you seem to be deluding yourself.

  • Thomas

    The BOE needs to fully investigate Dr. Kreutzer and inform the teachers’ union and the public of their findings. Then the BOE needs to take disciplinary action if necessary. If the BOE finds no wrong doing, Kreutzer needs to refocus on his responsibilities of being Superintendent of KLSD. Furthermore, as long as the Superintendent let his staff know he was gone for the day on the day of the storm, and someone was available to make decisions (he or someone else), we don’t need to know Kreutzer’s wherabouts on his off-time. And just to be clear, teachers don’t always focus 100% on teaching during their classroom time. There are teachers that use classroom time to send personal emails and receive/make personal calls on a regular basis – not cool, especially for those that constantly complain about how much they have to get done. Let’s make sure the Sup hasn’t acted improperly and also that teachers focus on their students during class time. And if they don’t like the district (admin & staff), go look for a job elsewhere. Good luck in trying to get better salaries and benefits than what they get from KLSD taxpayers.

  • Glenn DeFaber

    Mr. Morrissey who is the delusional one? In my life I have used a very simple way of determining what is likely to be the truth in any circumstance and that is to :”follow the money”. Does the teachers union have the most to gain in besmirching the character of Dr. Kreutzer? Stop being a Kool- Aide drinker for the union and see what this is ; a simple power grab by people that will stop at nothing to achieve theirs goals. By the way the name is spelled DeFaber.

  • Richard Morrissey

    I still will ask you, what do you make of Kreutzer’s history in Wisconsin? The Katonah teachers did not make up the facts.

    • Glenn DeFaber

      I already read many of the same complaints last year. Is backing Gov. Walker on his union reform a negative? The people of Wisconsin backed Gov. Walker in the recall election. Dr. Kreutzer should be applauded for his stance. All of the other issues either start with the words”reportedly” or “concerns”. If that is what you require as evidence of malfeasance then please never become a juror. I was there last summer when the mob came to Lewisboro to lynch Dr. Kreutzer because he had the temerity to buck the union. Take the union label off your blinders and see through the smoke screen Sandy Grebinar is blowing.

      • Mr. DeFaber: Isn’t your own household bank account fattened by a pension from the town of Lewisboro? Isn’t another close family member collecting a paycheck from the town? Don’t they draw from the same well as the teachers? And speaking of teachers, should readers assume that the one in your family joined the profession for personal gain just as you claim those in this town did?

  • Dean Travalino

    I would like to caution all of those participating in what looks to be a witch hunt that there are libel and slander laws that apply to this case with only limited immunity at best. Sandy Grebinar will not pay your legal fees or the judgement.

  • Ewing33

    An obvious attempt to take down Kreutzer in advance of the upcoming contract negotiations. Sandra Grebinar is by all account to a mediocre middle school art teacher with 150k annual compensation package. She could care less about bankrupting the district as long as she and her compatriots get theirs.

  • LB

    meeting. AMBUSHED??? Paleeeease… And for the love of God and the sake of our community, AND CHILDREN, please, please, please send this bozo back to Wisconsin, where he belongs. You guys were WARNED, repeatedly by HUNDREDS in our community who took the time to investigate this thoroughly inappropriate person to lead our school district (when the board clearly did NOT) . Well the proverbial chickens have come to roost, so maybe think about listening to you wonderful teachers instead of patently dismissing them? hmmm??? Dr. Kreutzer is obviously living up to his hideous reputation, 100%! The arrogance and incompetence of this board is beyond shocking.

    • Ewing33

      Warned about what LB.? That he supported Scott Walker? It is amazing that the prospect of fiscal responsibility is triggering a full fledge freak-out from the unionistas. As a parent, I have seen a superintendent that cares about students and interacts on a personal level with kids in a way the his predecessors would not.

    • PS

      Yes, there were 600 names on a petition gathered during a school vacation but the BOE had already flown in Kreutzer. They bulldozed through a 5 year contract for the puppet they sought. Now they have him. This is a HUGE disservice to the community. Next door, there’s Bedford where the staff, BOE and administration respect one another. K-L staff is living through a nightmare. The parents in K-L don’t seem to care. They don’t see that a reason a school may close is that people with kids are not interested in moving here for the schools anymore. The BOE has destroyed a formerly vibrant district. Everyone knows there are ethical and moral transgressions swept under carpets. I agree with LB that the arrogance and incompetence of this board is beyond shocking.

  • Glenn DeFaber

    Kool Aid at least you fit your screen name.. As you can see I am not afraid to post my name or feel ashamed of my family..I actually have two sisters who are teachers and a niece who is a guidance counselor. . Educators and public employees are in noble professions. Union thugs are despicable in any occupation.
    Cowards like yourself who hide behind a screen name to attack my family are no better than what you pick up on your shoe at a dog park. You must be taking your talking points from Sandy Grebinar.

  • Dean Travalino

    I hope that the rumor -mongers and anonymous bloggers are proud of their reckless comments. Dr. Kreutzer and his young family have embraced our community by moving here to be treated like this?

    But then again most of his opponents live elsewhere and pay their own children’s teachers much less. They have chosen to live in Connecticut and other less taxed areas while sucking our community dry.

  • I would caution the knee-jerk union bashing, witch hunt theorists who believe this is little more than a character assassination to withhold their own judgement. Read the letter of no confidence. Notice the word “Redacted”. That means there is more in it than what was made public.

  • Dean Travalino

    “Redacted,” “fact check,” “it has been reported,” are all the same thing. A web of cowardly,partial truths and anonymous innuendo that never amounted to anything when the union in Wisconsin tried the same trick and has already been rejected by a school board investigation here. Parents who speak out against the union, even in the privacy of their homes, should beware, lest their children be urged to turn them in to Sandy Grebinar.

  • B Dixon

    Folks in K-L-no matter who your are: parent, teacher, board member, child- whatever: you all are in a pickle. As a community, you need to be together in getting this behind you. The matter can not be swept under the rug.

    So the question is: how does the BOE resolve this fairly and quickly-and to the satisfaction of most of the community?

    Not sure the Best Practices Manual covers this. Anyone have any thoughts?

    Tempest Fugit

  • Mark Lipton, the Katonah-Lewisboro school board president, released a statement regarding Thursday night’s school board meeting…”None of the information made known to the public was unknown to the Board.” Mark Lipton

    -expletive laced, door slamming, table pounding rants?
    -district employees have described his behavior during the aftermath of the storm as “out of control.” ?
    -leave town and go across state lines to keep his appointment for a 75 minute massage and eyebrow waxing than remain to oversee critical operations and student safety during a dangerous storm?
    – four female employees of the Katonah-Lewisboro School District independently alleged that Dr. Kreutzer sexually harassed them.?

    If that is how things are going to be handled, can a no confidence vote on your leadership be far behind?

    And, did the board know of the redacted information before he was hired? If it did, it has a lot of questions to answer.

  • Dean Travalino

    Bob, I love you. But these allegations were already tried in Wisconsin and failed. The new allegations were already investigated by the BOE who referred the matter to a THIRD PARTY INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATOR. I’m surprised at you falling for this terrible media ploy.

    Things are different than when you were on the board. In both in Albany and in Lewisboro well-meaning individuals on both sides of the political spectrum have come together to try and forge a realistic path to affordable, quality education in our schools. Only our Teachers’ Union stands in the way of progress.

    • robert dixon

      Hi Dean

      Thanks for the reply.
      I guess that I fell for it because it appeared there were a good number of teachers standing behind the allegations.

  • My guess is the members of this board who picked Dr K aren’t going to admit they bought damaged goods. Reminds me of the Jackson debacle in Bedford. Id hate to be selling a home with this circus in town.

    • PS

      At least Bedford got it done and turned it around. The K-L BOE members can’t admit to any mistakes so they dig themselves and the community into ever worse conditions – No one is moving here for the schools, no one would chose to work here over any other district.

  • What about the broken special Ed dept? Where is that story, or do we have to wait to hear the Board complain about the large settlements from up comming law suits.
    I thought KLSD was about the children that is what the real estate agent told me when I saw how much I would be paying in school taxes!

    • Richard Morrissey

      And there are upcoming lawsuits. Current lawsuits. Check the facts and read the BOE minutes carefully.

  • edna malkowitz

    This imbroglio has been perpetual going back before Robert Lichtenfeld. Who remembers the cover up of the Bates vehicular homicide and how it all got conveniently swept under the rug or the financial hijinx of Douglas Both or the sexual escapades of the high school principal John Chambers fornacating his way around the town. Oh so many things to be embarrassed about. The incompetent asinine apple knocker mentality of successive boards of education in
    Loserboro. Where was Dr. Treyz’s indignation during these past travesties?

  • Victor Ponzo

    Seems to me that if a number of employees of the district feel the need to bring a matter to the BOE they should by all rights be able to start the process at a public forum. These discussions and accusations coming afterwards are a far cry from addressing the issue brought forward by the teachers. The fact that they belong to a union doesn’t forbid them from voicing their issue with the Superintendent and shouldn’t be dragged into the cost of educating our kids argument. I submit the board should have accepted the teachers request to speak in full at the meeting and taken their comments seriously instead of cutting off the meeting. I have seen it so many times over the years that the Board opens a public forum and then when it hears something it doesn’t like ,it shuts it down. That is the biggest issue I have with the board at this time. We had the same push back at public forums at school board meetings during the Lichtenfeld “witch hunt” I was one of the public speakers. It was a major debacle for the board until we found his broom!

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