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Groton school board member resigns, wants to avoid lawsuits

By Deborah Straszheim

Publication: The Day

Published May 05. 2014 4:00AM   Updated May 05. 2014 3:27PM
Shelley Gardner was critic of panel, calling it 'abusive'

Editor's note: This version corrects the description of the process of filling a vacancy on the Board of Education.

 

Groton - Board of Education member Shelley Gardner has resigned, saying she no longer wants to be part of an "abusive" body or to be named in lawsuits.

"Having gotten nowhere with you and after having spoken with my husband I have decided that I no longer wish to be part of an abusive and dysfunctional body," the Republican board member wrote in an email to board Chairwoman Rita Volkmann on May 2.

"I also have my family to consider and no longer wish to be named in lawsuits. I have tendered my resignation to the Town Clerk this morning. Good luck to you. You will need it."

Volkmann replied by email the following day: "Thank you Shelley for serving on the board and supporting the students of Groton."

Town Clerk Betsy Moukawsher said Sunday she hadn't seen the resignation, but it could have been mailed or left in a box designated for town business outside Town Hall.

Once she receives it, Moukawsher said, she will notify the nine board members. The remaining members then will appoint a Republican to serve the rest of Gardner's term, which ends in December 2015.

Gardner has been an outspoken critic of her colleagues on many issues. After former Superintendent Paul Kadri was fired, she said the board members who voted to renew Kadri's contract in 2011 should resign.

More recently, she voted against hiring Superintendent Michael Graner and spoke out when he wrote in a newsletter that all requests from newspaper reporters should be referred to him or to Volkmann.

"Mike, members of the Board of Education do not work for you," Gardner replied in an email. "Did you not just attempt to take away our freedom of speech?"

Gardner also declined to support the proposed $75.1 million budget for the coming fiscal year, saying it was unsound.

d.straszheim@theday.com

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