Middletown school hires outside firm to investigate allegations of workplace harassment, intimidation

Middlesex

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — It could be a fiery night in Middletown on Monday where parents will converge on a Common Council meeting. At issue: allegations of workplace harassment and intimidation by school administrators.

RELATED: Middletown superintendent of schools granted leave of absence amid claims of harassment, intimidation in district

Last month four separate unions came forward, including the teachers union, to file complaints against Superintendent Dr. Michael Conner and his office. Dr. Conner was immediately allowed to go out on medical leave.

Hundreds have signed an online petition demanding six points of action. They include placing everyone named in the complaints on paid leave pending an independent investigation, the state leading an independent investigation, and whistleblower protections.

The school board has since promoted the assistant superintendent to acting superintendent while the investigation is ongoing.

While the school board is conducting its own investigation, the Common Council met Monday night to hear from the public.

RELATED: Middletown educators voicing concerns over harassment, intimidation in public school district

They put it on the agenda as more of a listening session so that anybody from the community could come forward in public.

Eugene Nocera of the Common Council told News 8, “We’re all about encouraging the board to get the investigation started in a quick and bipartisan manner.”

Monday night, the mayor updated the Council on the investigation into Dr. Conner.

Apryl Desjardins, a parent, said, “The allegations that I have heard are harassment, retaliation, bullying…and Dr. Conner is not the only one…There are three other people, and the question and concern I have, those three people are still working, and covering up anything that he may or may not have done.”

Because it is a personnel matter, the school board and the current administration cannot comment on the investigation, only that they have hired a firm that is outside the state to look at the allegations thoroughly.

“There is a process involved in picking a firm that has the ability to look at this objectively, without any connections to anybody involved on any side of it,” Mayor Ben Florsheim said. “And so the board is following that process.”

Another thing the common council would like to see is a speedy investigation. They don’t want this thing to linger; they want to get to the bottom of it and try to uncover what’s going on and make a decision so that parents and students aren’t left hanging through the school year.

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