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Middletown Schools superintendent granted leave of absence

This was in response to allegations by current and former employees about intimidation, harassment, and retaliation by central office senior management

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. — Middletown Public Schools superintendent Dr. Michael T. Conner requested an immediate leave of absence, according to the board of education Monday evening. 

The board held a special meeting mainly behind closed doors during executive session, in response to allegations by current and former employees about intimidation, harassment, and retaliation by central office senior management. 

The allegations were brought to the board of education and common council in a letter signed by four unions representing Middletown Public School employees. The letter said in part, "We have lost many valued employees with dedicated years of service who have gone to other districts and in some cases for less pay. This exodus ultimately puts our students' learning opportunities at risk."

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"There's a lot of us that worked here that were treated very badly and had to leave for our health. People that wouldn't speak up because they're afraid to," said Jim D'Antonio, former custodial manager for the district.

He is among those who rallied outside of the meeting, standing in support of the employees who came forward with the complaint.

"There's so many things that have been going on here for years and it's always swept under the rug," D'Antonio said.

A second group was also rallying outside of the meeting, in support of Conner and other central office staff. The group made allegations of its own, that employees' complaints were racially motivated.

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"He is the first Black superintendent here in Middletown," said Erica Hunter of Middletown.

"The accusations being made against him, if he was not a Black man, they would not be making them," said David Roane of Middletown.

The other side vehemently denies that.

"No, this is about right and wrong. And I think that's the biggest part that people are missing. This is not about any race or anything like that, this is about if this is happening what can we do about it," said Bill Wilson of Middletown.

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Both groups are in favor of an independent investigation into the allegations.
"I am very concerned about the process and that it's done fairly," said Moses Harvill, pastor at Cross Street AME Zion Church.

The board of education said it did not have further comment on the matter. The chairwoman would not answer whether the superintendent will be on paid or unpaid leave. FOX61 reached out to Conner for comment but has not heard back.

Gaby Molina is a reporter and anchor at FOX61 News. She can be reached at gmolina@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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