MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) – For the first time, we are hearing from a former Middletown school administrator who is taking legal action against the district’s former superintendent.
She says he subjected her to years of sexual harassment and nothing was done to stop it.
While Dr. Enza Macri says it’s difficult to come forward, she says it’s important to share her story. Now, other women are making similar allegations describing a toxic work culture within the district. They’re hoping this action will enact change.
“I want to do what is best for everyone, including myself, but for all women who might experience such difficult situations and who feel don’t have a voice or that they can come forward,” Macri said.
Macri says she’s hoping for accountability. She left her role as the associate superintendent for Middletown Public Schools after she says she endured relentless sexual harassment and assault by the district’s former superintendent, Michael Conner.
“I realized how much pain and suffering many of my colleagues who were still in Middletown were experiencing,” Macri said. “I was seeing how it was impacting the school system, which eventually trickled down to the students. I knew it was time to come forward.”
Macri filed a civil lawsuit in June, outlining the harassment she says she faced, and the lack of action taken by the district, despite raising her concerns to multiple people in power. She detailed having to dodge sexual advances, sneak through hallways just to avoid Conner, and fearing for her job and well-being.
The complaint states, “The vast majority of these anonymous complaints referenced a culture of silence by design within MPS and a fear that if these employees spoke out, there would be retribution.”
One woman said about the Board of Education, “Did they question, even a single time, why there was such a mass exodus of female employees? Did they see the pattern of excuses and abuse?”
“It was very important to me and the 15 women that we show solidarity,” Dr. Macri said. “We would all like to see justice to make sure Middletown gets back on track.”
The complaint also includes a statement from one woman who worked with Conner in New Haven. She alleges, “When she rejected his sexual advances and tried to leave the district, he threatened to have [her] career ruined because he knew a lot of people.”
“I really think it speaks so highly of the time we’re in right now where women are actually very determined to ensure there’s accountability and that there’s a chance,” said Nina Pirrotti, Macri’s Attorney. “I think Dr. Macri epitomizes that in the actions she’s taken here.”
Conner resigned in March of this year after being placed on leave last October. He says his resignation was not a result of the allegations, which he has called “baseless.”
As for the school district and Board of Education, they released a statement to News 8 saying, “Neither the district of Middletown Public Schools nor its Board of Education comment on pending litigation or personnel matters. The new administration of the District is deeply committed to creating working and learning environments where all feel safe and valued. We have and will continue to create the opportunities and provide the support for such working and learning conditions to thrive.”
News 8 reached out to Conner and his attorney for a statement on Tuesday, but they have not responded at this time.
The video below is from Good Morning Connecticut at 10 a.m. on Nov. 16, 2022.