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Controversial Wisconsin Educator Set To Take Over As Superintendent In Katonah-Lewisboro

CROSS RIVER, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- They're normally non confrontational affairs -- the hiring of a school superintendent.

But that wasn't the case on Tuesday night in Katonah, where the school board got an earful from residents for what the new school boss said about unions, CBS 2's Sean Hennessey reports.

A packed room of parents and teachers blasted Katonah's school board for hiring Dr. Paul Kreutzer, an educator from Wisconsin whose anti-union comments have irked teachers.

"I think that he's been brought here to be a union buster," teacher Sandy Grebinar said.

Teachers pointed to a news conference in Wisconsin, where Kreutzer, then superintendent in a Milwaukee suburb, endorsed the state's governor, Scott Walker, who said unions should be stripped of collective bargaining power.

"Wisconsin has come to New York," one teacher said.

WCBS 880's Catherine Cioffi With Reaction From The Teachers Union


And that brought together a few hundred teachers from all over Westchester County on Tuesday to protest.

"This is what democracy looks like," Yorktown teacher Pauline Quinones said. "It's just a travesty. It's unfair to labor. It really is a strike against unions all around."

Kreutzer insisted he's getting a bad rap.

Katonah-Lewisboro Schools protest
Hundreds of protesters made their voices heard at John Jay-Cross River High School on April 26, 2011, as they voiced their displeasure with the hiring of new district superintendent Dr. Paul Kreutzer. (Photo: CBS 2)

"I'm not here to union bust, thank-you," Kreutzer said, adding when asked for his position on unions, "I'm good."

At the meet and greet, Kreutzer told the crowd he was apolitical, and was only carrying out the position of his Wisconsin school board when he stood next to the governor. But some wanted to know his personal opinion on union busting.

One protester asked, "In the state of Wisconsin or anywhere else, would you have voted yes?" To which Dr. Kreutzer replied, "If board directed me to sign that I would."

"A lot of people thought you'd stand on your own two feet and answer the question," another protester said.

"He's not making policy; we're making policy," Katonah-Lewisboro School Board President Michael Gordon responded.

"I don't have nor will I have anti-union stance," Dr. Kreutzer added.

The board gave Kreutzer a five-year contract that some said is well deserved.

"I trust their choice so, yes, I support him, absolutely," parent Tara Owen said.

"I really believe that he, himself, is not opposed to collective bargaining. He is not opposed to teacher's unions," Judy Aydelotte said.

Kreutzer said these are challenging times in education, but some teachers wondered if he's talking about them.

Kreutzer, who take over on July 1, will earn $245,000 per year.

You can find more information from the school district HERE.

Do you think Paul Kreutzer is the right man for the job? Sound off below

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