Mike Johnson: Dr. D is a leader


The books Good to Great and Mind Set both define successful leaders as people who encourage and invite questioning of the direction they and their organizations are headed and through this questioning head off and prevent group think. DeVincentis has, what those books describe as, a growth mindset, which invites questioning, and not a fixed mindset.

DeVincentis has always been a leader who invites and states his questions about the direction this school district has been, and is headed. His questioning of what constitutes best practices and trying to implement best practices in Strawberry Park Elementary School allowed our students and teachers to perform at high levels, scoring in the topmost levels on Colorado state standards tests year after year. His same questioning of this school district's leadership, however, was neither welcomed nor tolerated by previous school boards, and recent-past and current superintendents. It is my recollection that former superintendent Dr. J Alan Aufderheide didn't mind, and even welcomed questioning.

This questioning is what initially landed DeVincentis in hot water with some superintendents. It was Cyndy Simms, with the support of her school board, who went after DeVincentis first, all because his questioning was too much of a challenge and threat to their authority.

I, too, have stated questions to and about the previous school boards, this school board, Simms, DeVincentis (while he was my principal), Donna Howell, and the Steamboat Pilot & Today. So, Pilot & Today, here I am, a questioner, you may as well target me in your next investigation. Further, dozens of people both within and outside of the school district have brought their anger, frustration, and concerns to me about all of the above-mentioned people over the years, and I have shared their feelings. Will you be going after all of us?

It has proven not to be a good situation, anywhere in the world, when the press is in league with parts of the government against any of the people.

Speaking of questions, here are some to think about:

1. Why didn't the Pilot & Today break this old news and print these e-mail excerpts while Dr. DeVincentis was running for school board? Didn't you have this information back then?

2. Why, who, and how did this school district release the e-mail of DeVincentis? Did the Pilot & Today ask for the e-mails of Simms from the time period when she was at odds with DeVincentis?

3. Why are you printing this story now? Does this printing indicate that the local press is taking sides and practicing character assassination?

4. Have you ever investigated Superintendent Howell's culpability regarding her current dilemma with the school board? Are you reporting on this whole issue accurately and impartially?

5. Do you think if we dredged up the Pilot & Today's past articles mentioning the situations between DeVincentis and Superintendents Simms and Howell that we would see fair and unbiased reporting or slanted and biased reporting?

6. Have you ever dredged up and investigated the e-mails of Superintendents Simms and Howell's, or mine, or any other current or former school district employees'?

7. Was it necessary for the Pilot & Today to bring DeVincentis' wife into the article? Is she a target as well? Was the Pilot & Today antagonizing or bullying her to get a quote?

8. Will the Pilot & Today be targeting friends of Dr. DeVincentis? Is there guilt by association in this case? Since Dr. DeVincentis is a friend of mine, will I become one of your targets?

Mike Johnson

Steamboat Springs


beentheredonethat 10 years ago

Mr. Johnson, It is often best to keep quiet and have people think you are a fool, than to opine as you do in your letter, and remove all doubt.


mom 10 years ago

I agree with Mr. Mike Johnson...Dr. D. is a leader. I also agree the pilot made a mistake as they often do. This is nothing more than a spear campaign and yes they probably will try to attack you and others next. I feel there are many others involved that should be apologizing besides John.


Matthew Stoddard 10 years ago

I won't get into the whole argument, but I will stand up for Mike Johnson. "Beentheredonethat" just bothers to antagonize Mike for his thoughts & opinions on this whole matter while only quoting buzzwords from Bill O'Reilly. (Really surprised "bloviating" didn't make it's way into that post.)

Mike Johnson is a great teacher and is well-liked by his students. He's also a stand-up guy that I've had the pleasure of knowing for the better part of a decade. I've worked onstage with Mike enough to know that he's a man of character and integrity.

All Mike did was bring questions to light in this whole mess. Right now, everything is directed to Dr. D only. No other sides from anyone else seems to be coming out. Plus, this is all old news between Dr. D & Simms. If he's doing the same thing to Howell, where is Howell in this matter to stand up for herself? Where is discussion on how Howell is being victimized by Dr. D, instead of bringing up Simms again? Even the "Group Chastise Letter" from past Board members don't exactly explain what Howell is doing right or even how to correct the current situation except for Dr. D to just quit.

I personally don't know Dr. D or Howell or even Simms for that matter. All I know is that Mike Johnson stated his mind much better than "Beentheredonethat" was able to do, and actually added intelligent thought behind his questions.

Matt Stoddard


steamvent 10 years ago

The only "leading" Dr. D did was of the ship of fools that followed him. Many in this community smelled bad fish from the get go. When one person is continually the common denominator for controversy, the source of discord is not difficult to sniff out, and discord is not leadership.


reallocal 10 years ago


First, please observe basic grammar rules when writing a letter that many people will be reading. As an educator and an avid researcher, you should be familiar with the importance of grammar in contributing to the readability and credibility of one's writing. Secondly, the first thing that set off this battle with Simms (which had been brewing for a while) was John's negative review. The review still stands, but he got his bonus. Great growing leadership! People who give selflessly to serve on boards are usually not threatened by questioning. In fact, I would suggest that questioning was why most of them are on that board in the first place. Some possible answers to your questions: 1. I wish the Pilot had printed this two years ago. It would have saved us all a lot of strife. These emails may be old, but they show a pattern of behavior which is still relevant today. This is not, therefore, old news. 2. I'm not sure, but I have the feeling that we will find out. 3. Printing this has spurred the public to take action on an issue that simply could not be ignored by the community any longer. Accusing the paper of character assisgnation after reading DeVincentis' emails is hypocritical at best.
4. Howell has not commented on the issues facing the board right now. Until any proof comes up, she is not culpable. Accusing the paper of doing a poor reporting job is a weak attempt at deflecting controversy away from DeVincentis.
5. See above. 6. I don't think they have, but should they? Would it show a similar pattern with you? 7. DeVincentis' wife commented to the paper. If she hadn't commented, she would not be mentioned in the article. Was she bullied? Give me a break. 8. Your ego is obviously oversized too. Your neck should not be on the block if you haven't done anything wrong. So maybe this question is more of an introspection than anything. Don't give yourself more credit than you deserve.


Matthew Stoddard 10 years ago

Reallocal- Always check your own spelling/grammar before attempting to point out another person's errors. Your first paragraph should be two paragraphs, with the second paragraph starting with "Secondly,..."

"Great growing leadership!" is not a complete sentence, unless a person named Great is growing leadership in the yard, and it's still not a complete sentence even then. Also, what does "assisgnation" mean? I'm pretty sure you meant "assassination" and not "assignation," since that word wouldn't make sense in this context.

Since you brought it up, why shouldn't we also be privy to Simms emails during the whole dust-up? If any of her emails pertaining to all this might uncover any extra facts, whether for or against her, shouldn't we be able to have access to those? Same with anything Howell might be emailing. Just because someone thinks Dr. D wasn't intelligent enough to use a home computer, maybe the same could be said about any others. In fact, shouldn't all BOD members' emails be publicized if done from District computers?

Please feel free to pull out the red marker for my posts.


reallocal 10 years ago

Thanks for pointing that out Matt. Yes, we should look into everyone's emails from public computers. I would bet that no one has sunk to the level DeVincentis has. In fact, maybe we should just look at all of the email sent from school computers so that we can identify and root out problems like this before they disrupt the vision and hard work that many people put into our district. Maybe if we did a better job monitoring this DeVincentis would not be on the board and we all could have saved ourselves the trouble that has plagued us since DeVincentis' election.


Matthew Stoddard 10 years ago

Reallocal- I agree wholeheartedly. Since the emails from Dr. D are the root of the controversy right now, I think we deserve access to all emails from all BOD members and Supers to be fair all the way around. As I stated, I don't know any of these people on a personal level, except Denise. She was my Spanish teacher in 7th grade and a client of mine when I worked as a travel agent. I don't have children yet, so it doesn't currently affect my thinking of the schools in general.

I personally don't think that what Dr. D did with those emails is wrong, technically, but I agree that personal emails should be done from home instead of from public computers. I still have plenty of people I would never consider working for again or working with again going back years. I'd have to be shown they've changed in certain aspects before doing business with them again. I also wouldn't hesitate to speak ill of them on a one-on-one basis with someone looking to work with them.

Still, most people who feel they've been wronged, adult or child, will carry a grudge for whatever time they feel is necessary. Someone on another thread said it was childish to carry that this long. Considering the emails are a few years old, that statement doesn't really mean anything relevant.

All I'm looking for is fairness all around. If an anonymous source went digging on one side, it should be considered fair to go digging on the other side. As you had stated to Mike, if there's nothing to worry about, we should have no problem digging away.


Books 10 years ago

The Dr. D lynch mob is making a big mistake. It would be a bigger mistake to let Howell get away with her involvement in the retrieval of these e-mails. Were school district resources used to hack them out of the computer? Deleted e-mails are very hard to get especially 10 months worth. How many months did it take and who paid the Tec guy's salary while he did it? Was this done at Howell's request? The people who were involved in it won't come forward on their own knowing that they will be destroyed also.

The School District Superintendent using School District resources to bring down a Board of Education Member.

If this is true, it's really scary.

The Board needs to investigate Howells involvement.


Matthew Stoddard 10 years ago

Books- I still haven't seen proof provided that Howell was truly behind getting the emails, so I can't personally say it was her. That's why it should be ALL emails across the board...pun intended.

As for hacking 10months worth of emails, since it was a District computer, it makes me wonder if it's tied into a main server. That would mean they only had to access the server and not the individual computer hard drive. I'm no computer pro, but even an individual computer wouldn't be too hard for anyone working in IT, I'd imagine. I'm sure they could narrow a search time-period down, narrow it further to emails sent to a specific address, most likely within an hour. I could be wrong, but I don't think so.

Does that mean Howell made it happen? Maybe, maybe not. Sometimes, employees "take initiative" in matters such as these.


trump_suit 10 years ago

As a new member of this community, I will remain respectfully silent about this issue, and let those with direct knowledge of the situation argue this out. However, I will repeat my earlier comments about posting on this issue or any other.

Why do we have to reduce ourselves to petty personal attacks and commentary?? It seems to me that this issue in inflammnatory enough withour engaging in personal attacts.

  1. The public should definitely know who provided these emails.

  2. Dr D. should have known that he had no expectation of privacy when he used school computers to engage in these email conversations

  3. Depending on the usage of his computer, a good computer professional could easily retrive this information years after it was created.

  4. I do not care when this train of thought took place. Is it really appropriate to have the individual that wrote these incendiary emails around your children???


JQPUBLIC 10 years ago

Whoever provided these emails must have felt it important for the public to be aware of the dark side of Dr. D and I agree. If this man wasn't an elected official and/or did not have influence over the education of our children... no one would care about his bigoted views of women nor his vindictiveness... but he does, therefore it is news. Books is already trying to blame Howell without any proof, so we should make public the name of the whistle-blower so he/she can be crucified, I think not. We as voters need to keep watch over our elected officials and one of our resources are the whistle-blowers so we should respect their anonymity, no matter what their motive for bringing the wrongdoer to light. I believe it is much more important that the public be informed of the misconduct of a public official (when it is proven true) than it is to know who is informing us.


gwendolyn 10 years ago

Well, I've checked and rechecked my pile of printed out emails and other misc. documents....still there. Mine don't focus on DeVincentis...and I was waiting until the end of the school year to give them to the pilot...

This issue with DeVincentis is only the tip of the iceberg...


In THIS school district? Puh-lease.

School administrators and board members don't have a clue what the word "respect" even means.

If DeVincentis was even remotely surrounded by conscientious individuals within this school district he would NEVER have gotten this far. I had no idea how deep it went until all of this exposure and comparing of notes...


When you have an issue with the school, a teacher, a vice principal or principal, the superintendent, or a board member, who are you supposed to report it to? Seems like quicksand in all directions. Trust is simply non-existent here.

Layers of communication standards per district policy have been ignored by everyone and encouraged to be ignored. People are stepping all over each other to do whatever they want and/or to find the "advocate" in the chain of command who will agree with them. There is no clarity in policy use and/or adherence at all. Lots of back-stabbing and stepping over the bodies...

Donna -- for the very first time I have a picture of just how difficult your job has been here. What a mess. Kudos to you if you actually choose to stick around and try to fix all this crap. If you don't, however, the reputation of the district/board members will now make it very difficult for this town to hire a replacement. I think the salary range just went up....


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