E-mail reactions mixed

Some want DeVincentis to resign, others support him


The DeVincentis e-mails


DeVincentis, when reached at his home Friday, said, "I'm working on a response," adding that he is taking time to properly formulate what he wants to say.

— John DeVincentis remains a member of the Steamboat Springs School Board, but for how long remains unclear.

On Friday, the Steamboat Pilot & Today printed excerpts of e-mails written by DeVincentis to Mercer Island, Wash., teacher Joby McGowan that were harshly critical of former Steamboat Springs Superintendent Cyndy Simms.

Simms now is the superintendent in Mercer Island.

On Friday, some Steamboat residents were calling for DeVincentis' immediate resignation. School Board member Jerry Kozatch said he was not prepared to ask DeVincentis to step down.

DeVincentis, when reached at his home Friday, said, "I'm working on a response," adding that he is taking time to properly formulate what he wants to say.

In the e-mails, DeVincentis admits to lying to Mercer Island School Board members about Simms and calls her an "idiot," "crazy" and a "pathological liar." He also predicts he will take on Simms' replacement, current Steamboat Springs Superintendent Donna Howell. Former School Board members Tom Miller-Freutel and Pat Gleason said this week that DeVincentis is trying to oust Howell.

The e-mail exchange took place two years ago while DeVincentis was in his final year as principal at Strawberry Park Elementary School. Still, his behavior is unacceptable for a person in a leadership role, said Paula Stephenson, a former School Board president and member of a recently formed citizens group concerned about the direction of the district.

"John absolutely has to step down," she said. "This is a person that is leading our district? It was incredibly vindictive what those e-mails showed. I think it showed that John really does have a personal agenda he has been trying to advance."

Stephenson said many in Steamboat share her opinion.

"We have a long list of supporters who I think will become very vocal in the coming days, weeks and months, especially if no changes are made," Stephenson said.

Kozatch, who was appointed to the School Board in November, said he was going to wait before casting "personal judgments." He said the negative comments DeVincentis wrote about Simms were "not admirable behaviors," but Kozatch questioned the necessity of making DeVincentis' private e-mails public.

The e-mails were sent using DeVincentis' work computer and school district e-mail account. All employees, including DeVincentis, sign a form warning them not to send confidential e-mails using school accounts.

"I personally don't see there is a lot of value in the paper bringing forward this old information," Kozatch said. "I would not be asking him to resign at this point. If I felt strong, I would say it."

Efforts to contact Board President Denise Connelly and board member Jeff Troeger were unsuccessful.

Copies of the e-mails were brought to the Steamboat Pilot & Today office by an anonymous source last week. The newspaper spoke with multiple sources who verified the e-mails were taken from DeVincentis' school computer after he retired in 2005. DeVincentis and McGowan each acknowledged the e-mail exchanges.

One person with a strong opinion was Steamboat Springs Middle School teacher Ben Barbier. He wanted parents and residents to know that the teachers and support staff are keeping all issues related to Howell and the School Board, including today's revelations about DeVincentis, out of the classrooms.

"It's all about going on in the classroom," Barbier said. "You can't stop and do anything differently. The kids need that leadership."

-To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208

or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com


WZ 10 years ago

This is such a joke. Pretty soon the Today paper racks will only be found at the check out isles at the local grocery stores! LOL


reallocal 10 years ago


I am a native local. I can only hope that you are completely sarcastic right now. This is an essential issue to a large, if not majority, portion of our school district. Mr. Kozatch, if he were actually doing the job he applied to do and was appointed to, would absolutely not have made any comment prior to an official board discussion. In so far as the remaining board, "President Officially" Denise Connolly's complete lack of leadership should have resulted in a vote of no confidence already (despite the few members who actually remain on the "board (of not solving anything)" who actually understand what's going on, which I guess possibly leaves Mr. Troeger) due to her total lack of independant thinking and eagerness to play the puppet to DeVincentis' strings. She was a mediocre teacher (which I can attest to personally), but has certainly not learned anything from her husband about civic responsibility. Too bad, considering that I always thought of her as an intellegent and capable woman despite her shortcomings in the classroom. I guess I always assumed she was better. DeVincentis may have orchustrated her election, but this has never made her qualified to lead this board.

Secondly, DeVincentis has been awarded more than adequate time to say what he has wanted to. He has been approached many times about the article in Friday's Today, and has absolutely not actually responded until after the initial article was published. His disregard for not only his own validation but also for the understanding of many community members who have long supported him is unacceptable. He owed everyone who voted for him more than this lazy, irresponsible behavior.


reallocal 10 years ago

Finally, I would like to quote that according to McGowan himself, "(Cyndy Simms) has been the community's best advocate and made decisions that clearly reflect the wants of families..." Am I entirely missing something here? Isn't that, more or less, what we expect of employees in a publically subsidized position? To support the wishes of the public and those of the administrators elected and appointed directly or indirectly by that public? Although many people feel that the sun has set on the previous administration and board (sadly, because this was the last time the children of SSSD were the most important factor in the policy process), the fact remains that taxpayers, in general, make public education possible. Although a representitive may sign off on staff paychecks, essentially this is due to the importance that the voting public places on eduation in general and our school district specifically. Are your childrens' educations worth this gamble? Responsible parents would say no. The rest would support DeVincentis, despite repeated evidence of his manipulation, lack of morals, ethics and vision, and inability to provide the leadership that we deserve in this district. Let's not forget, we are not only facing internal pressures, but also the pressures of outside districts to capitalize on our willingness to contribute to our district.

Enough is enough. Those still supporting DeVincentis are certainly without comon sense and a sense of responsibility to the next generation. Stubborness can be a very powerful thing, and I am very sorry that most of DeVincentis' supporters were mislead. Please, have the courage to admit that you have made a misjudgement (based upon false pretenses and information) and prove to our children that any action against a malignant growth in their school system is worth cutting out, as painful and embarassing as it may be. Do the right thing. Supporting DeVincentis' insane tirades and crusades is not it. Give your children better than what you all were given in November of 2005. Give them the gift of public representitives who cherish them more than politics and miscellaneous, disillusioned, sad and dissappointed personal vendettas. Aren't they worth it?


SteamboatJoe 10 years ago

The lack of any communication from the board explains how they feel about the importance of informing the community/staff/parents. This lack of a response from the president speaks volumes.

Even clowns prepare for the circus......

Two former teachers who serve the board, wow.


lavicats 10 years ago

Dr. John must resign before he is recalled.


Mike Forney 10 years ago

John Devincentis' actions, words and deeds are disgraceful and reflect extremely poorly on our community. The failure of Steamboat's voters and parents to remove him from his position will signal the world that our community condones this kind of dispicable vigilante behavior from those we entrust with our children's education.


beentheredonethat 10 years ago

I agree that after his statement that he does not feel strongly about this exposure of DeVincentis's agenda, Mr. Jerry Kozatch should also go. People are elected to the school board to be leaders.


beentheredonethat 10 years ago

I would rather go through the process of recalling DeVincentis than allow him the easy way out by resigning.


bcpow 10 years ago

Lets face it, Dr. D has some serious issues with women in positions of authority. Emails just showing up at the Pilot is interesting to say the least, but in this day and age if you have an account from work and use it...well it just shows what a dumb a*s he is. One county, one board one superintendent.


kingsride 10 years ago

The facts that dr. d is vindictive, can not take criticism, and has all along had axes to grind comes as a surprise to who? Its time for this little man with the oversize ego to go. I dont care if he resigns or is recalled but he has to go. I would not sign the recall petition for the da, I ll sign this one in a new york minute.


WZ 10 years ago

You prosecute DeVincentis, then all emails and all backed up school district hard drives from the beginning of time must be scrutinized as well.

You think these few emails are the only shreds of any "wrong" doing ever sent through the school district's mail servers and/or stored on a school district hard drive. Be real. This. Is. A. Joke.

If it's not one agenda, it's another.

Public school districts through out the good ol' USA are notoriously plagued politics, agendas, et al.

The real problem is not DeVincentis. The real problem is the system. You want change? Change the system.

Now, it's time to read more of the Steamboat Tabloid....


autumnwitch 10 years ago

Wool has been pulled over so many eyes in the past, although I still find it hard to believe that so many were fooled and voted for him in the first place. I told as many people as I could not to vote for him because I knew this would happen. Too bad not more people who also knew didn't stop their friends from voting for him. Now it is up to all of us to join together to help Paula's group get the tyrant out. I know I'll be making the call.


JustSomeJoe 10 years ago

WZ -

You said "The real problem is not DeVincentis. The real problem is the system. You want change? Change the system."

So DeVincentis should stay and try to change the system? You support his methods and leadership styles? Is this how you resolve your differences? If he succeeds in ousting Howell, and the district has to pay out the rest of her contract -- $300,000, plus the cost to recruit another one, this is how we change the system?

Do you really think all of the school's emails "from the beginning of time must be scrutinized as well"? Who would be in charge of this review and pay for it? This is a pretty silly demand, I'm currently wondering why I'm responding it.

I have two kids in elementary school here. These are not "tabloid" issues to my family. These are issues at the core of the leadership of the school district and the stewardship of our tax dollars. We elected some of the school board members to take care of our school district (Jerry was appointed), and none of us had this in mind as responsible leadership styles. Even though the emails are over a year old, they show how DeVincentis handles and resolves conflict -- like someone deeply in need of anger management therapy and more.

Jerry Kozatch - shame on you for backing DeVincentis publicly. Your choices in this situation are "no comment" if somehow you condone his behavior, or to take a stand and say that this behavior can't be tolerated from an elected official with responsibility for our kids educational system.

John DeVincentis - Please resign now.


animalfarm 10 years ago

I do not having children, so you might say that I am on the outside looking in. Just a thought...do you think that WZ (username) could possibly be Dr.D? or Mrs. Dr.D? Who else with half a brain would be standing up for this rather sick individual?


autumnwitch 10 years ago

I am astounded that anybody could be surprised by these revelations about Devincentis' character. He had a very nasty, very public, running battle with the prior superintendent, another one with the current superintendent, and yet a third one with most of the district administrative team. Here's the laugable part - most of the things he is attacking the superintendent and administrative team about are things that he either: a) fought for himself (like raises, increased auto allowances, etc), or b) complained about prior school boards over (remember the fiasco with a poor evaluation that cost thousands of dollars in lawyer fees?). One other thing that concerns me about this vitriolic, vindictive, hate-filled man - he works for the Colorado Department of Education auditing other school districts around the state. What kind of hate filled crap is he spreading in other schools? Time to contact CDE and let them know what's kind of man they have working for them.


Scott Stanford 10 years ago


John DeVincentis has apologized, but says he will not resign:

Scott Stanford Editor, Steamboat Pilot & Today editor@steamboatpilot.com


WZ 10 years ago

You get rid of one DeVincentis, another one is simply going to take his place. Talk about wasting money and disregard for kids. Change the system, and I'm not just talking about tiny little center of the universe Steamboat, fool. I'm taking issue with the entire system of public education in this country. What's happening here in the DeVincentis scandal is prime example of why the US has one of the worst public systems of education in the western world. This. Is. A. Joke.


localthinker 10 years ago

DeVincentis should be recalled immediately. Given the opportunity, I'll be on "board" with that.


Sheryl Pierson 10 years ago

DR D as well as the other board members need to know what you think! Per the school district webpage, contact them at:

John DeVincentis johndpuzzles@hotmail.com

Denise Connelly dbconnelly@msn.com

Jeff Troeger jeff_troeger.boe@comcast.net

Jerry Kozatch jkozatch@qwest.net

Pat Gleason pmg@springsips.com


JQPUBLIC 10 years ago

Kozatch said the negative comments DeVincentis wrote about Simms were "not admissible behaviors," but Kozatch questioned the necessity of making DeVincentis' private e-mails public. 1st... they were not private emails, he should have written his poison pen mail from his own private computer and his own private email address if he wanted to call them private. 2nd...if the emails were "not admissible behaviors", why is Kozatch standing up for him, does he owe him something or is he just spineless? 3rd...Making these emails public was necessary, otherwise Dr. D would have found a way to get it swept under the rug. Since this is now a public matter (as it should be) the public is demanding he take responsibility for his actions. 4th...It will take the voters to hold him accountable, he evidently believes that the debasement of women, lies and deceit are an acceptable practice, that the end justifies the means. I wonder how many careers have been ruined, how many innocent people had their reputations smeared just because they wouldn't kowtow to Dr. D.


retiredinss 10 years ago

I posted my thoughts on the thread accompanying Pat Gleason's letter. I will repeat briefly here: 1. Mr. D showed extremely poor judgement and behavior in his use of the school computer to send vitriolic comments about the former school superintendent. He also admitted he lied to the interviewers about her. 2. Is this the kind of person / behavior you want your children exposed to?
3. Is this the kind of behavior you want Steamboat known for?


marcusbmco 10 years ago

I'd like to hear the students opinion...........


Cal2StmBoatGirl 10 years ago

Mr. D is clearly a dangerous, unethical, deceitful man. Hooray for the noble person(s) who exposed him! In addition to being recalled, he deserves to be sued in civil court by Ms. Simms for defamation and by both Ms. Simms and Ms. Howell for interference with their employment contracts. His actions were both legally and morally reprehensible. He should pay a price that ensures he will never even consider similar shameful acts.


mountaingirl 10 years ago

I agree with Cal2StmBoatGirl who would want a man like Dr. D on the school board making decisions that affect our children!


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.