Polansky: Kisses and hugs were for jobs well done

Jan 27 2010

As it appeared in the Connecticut Post

By Frank Juliano, STAFF WRITER, CTPost.com

Published 12:52 am, Wednesday, January 27, 2010

MILFORD — An investigator hired by the school board found no conclusive evidence that former Superintendent Harvey B. Polansky intended to sexually harass two female principals.

Attorney Loren Lettick wrote in the conclusion to his 13-page report that Polansky, whose contract was bought out by the school board last week, lacks the sensitivity to tell whether his hugs and kisses make women uncomfortable.

The investigator makes no specific recommendation, but wrote that some disciplinary action against Polansky is warranted because of his status as a top-level supervisor and role model. The board on Thursday night agreed to pay Polansky about $125,000 in return for his resignation and promise not to sue.

The report, released Tuesday morning, quotes Polansky as admitting that he hugged and occasionally kissed female staff members, “in the spirit of a congratulatory `good job’ sentiment.” But a New Haven lawyer who represents the two women said that the report “is not the product of an independent investigation. It is also incomplete as it omits admissions made by Dr. Polansky as well as facts provided by other witnesses.”

The attorney, Nina Pirrotti, said that Lettick’s claim that her clients’ allegations are uncorroborated “is of no significance, given that sexual harassers rarely engage in such conduct when witnesses are present.”

Pirrotti declined to say whether the two principals intend to sue the Board of Education, but said they are “gratified” by the board’s response, “and its acknowledgment that the community has been `rightly outraged and dismayed.’”

The women are not named in Lettick’s report and the Connecticut Post is not identifying them because they are the alleged victims of sexual assault.

The first woman, who is in her first year as a principal after 15 as a teacher here, told the board’s investigator that she was not satisfied with Polansky’s apology. Besides promising that the behavior would never happen again, Polansky had agreed to make Assistant Superintendent R. Michael Cummings the principal’s supervisor.

The new principal said that it was important for her to set an example for her teenage daughter “to stand up to this kind of behavior.” Neither she nor the second woman, a principal here for three years, had confronted Polansky directly because they said they feared retaliation and that they lacked tenure.

The second principal said that she had taken a class at the University of Connecticut from Polansky and served with him on several committees without any problems.

She told Lettick that the superintendent had hugged her between 10 and 20 times before last June, but that she had “made nothing of it.”

But the principal said that three times last June Polansky had touched her buttocks, and at a party at his home to mark the end of the school year, he had kissed her on the lips.

The second complainant told the investigator that she decided to come forward partly because of rumors that Polansky had engaged in sexually harassing behavior before.

Lettick investigated three of those alleged incidents, including one where the superintendent supposedly exposed his genitals to a female school board member. He determined, after interviewing both parties and a witness, that the superintendent was in a rest room when the woman opened the door, and that his fly was not open.

But Lettick did get confirmation of the report that Polansky had put a flower in another board member’s bosom. That woman told the investigator that she was offended by the superintendent’s sophomoric prank.

A former Southington school board attorney told Lettick that Polansky handled correctly a sex assault complaint against a coach while he was superintendent there.

An intern at UConn’s school of education told Lettick that in 120 hours of “shadowing” Polansky he had seen the former superintendent hug men and women, and heard people refer to him as “Uncle Harvey.”

Polansky’s attorney, Fred Dorsey, was not available for comment Tuesday.

 

 

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