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Kreidler: cop’s wife spread rumors via school email

Townsend Town Administrator Jim Kreidler

TOWNSEND — Town Administrator James Kreidler filed a formal complaint against the North Middlesex Regional School District alleging that employees spread defamatory statements about him using school email addresses.

“My professional reputation is significantly and negatively impacted as a direct result of their writings and the widespread dissemination of their lies,” he wrote.

The complaint, filed April 2, alleges that Jennifer Reidy, a special education teacher at Varnum Brook Elementary School, led a coordinated campaign to defame and libel Kreidler by sending emails to other school employees, parents in the district, residents, and state offices, including the district attorney and attorney general.

Reidy did not respond to an email requesting comment.

By using her school account, Kreidler alleges Reidy broke “a number of policies” by seeking a letter of support for her husband, Townsend police Officer George Reidy, from the superintendent and high school principal about his position as the district’s school resource officer. She also reached out to the Mass Bar Association about legal assistance for him and to a television news reporter, including defamatory statements about Kreidler, Kriedler said.

Officer Reidy was the subject of a police internal affairs investigation last year that found he gave confidential information about a Pepperell Police Department case to a Townsend resident. He was placed on six months of unpaid leave after signing a statement acknowledging the incident and has not served in the schools since.

District employees Jessica Law, Michelle Chapel, Kerry McCarthy, Elizabeth Carbone, and Kristen St. Amand were named in the complaint for allegedly coordinating with Reidy.

Carbone wrote on June 21, 2017 that she gasped “in front of students” after Reidy told her in an email sent during the school day that a Townsend priest was moved to a different parish for writing a letter of support for former Chief Robert Eaton.

Kreidler’s assistant, Carolyn Smart, filed a records request for Reidy’s emails dating back to December 2016. All emails from town and school district employees using a designated employee email are public record.

Kreidler wrote that the school employees characterized his actions negatively, including how he “(represents) an unabashed abuse of power” and “(creates) a travesty of justice.”

He recalled receiving negative responses from other district employees, which he later realized may have been influenced by the emails.

He also disputed specific false statements made about him in the complaint.

They include claims in that Kreidler is trying to “systematically dismantle the police department” and that he released confidential police information related to an ongoing investigation.

Other statements Kreidler addressed are related to his work in Winchendon, including mistruths about how and why he left the position and his solar company’s business with the town.

In the complaint, he writes about a gag gift that he received from a former employee — a piece of pottery labeled “Ashes of Problem Employees” — that people have dubbed a “Jar of Souls” of the people he’s fired and a “testament to (his) goals and ideals.”

In addition to libel and defamation, Kreidler alleges that Reidy and others violated state conflict of interest law and at least 10 school district policies relating to emails, staff ethics, and conduct.

In an email dated Sept. 11, 2017, Reidy wrote to a woman outside the school district, “The DA and the AG want nothing to do with it. They just call it ‘small town politics’ or legal issues and give that as an excuse as to why they will do nothing. I even tried (Boston Mayor) Marty Walsh’s office as I really like him, but I can’t get past his mail opener, who again calls it a legal matter.”

Kreidler is seeking a written and public apology and statement from the employees involved and the school district that the claims are “all categorically false.”

When he first learned about the emails, Kreidler met with Superintendent Joan Landers.

She initially planned to make a public statement denouncing the emails, Kreidler said, but she stepped back and said the district would handle it as a personnel matter. Landers did not respond to requests for comment.

About two weeks ago, Officer Reidy was asked to leave the high school after showing up to work detail, Kreidler said. Townsend police has had a rotating detail at the school since August in place of a school resource officer.

Police Chief Robert Bailey declined to comment about the incident, citing it as a personnel matter.

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