Our View: DeVincentis should resign


The DeVincentis e-mails

John DeVincentis should resign from the Steamboat Springs School Board for the sake of his constituents, his school district and his community. His Saturday apology was necessary, but it doesn't change the fact that he must go.

This week, it came to light that DeVincentis exchanged e-mails in 2004 and 2005 with a teacher in Mercer Island, Wash., criticizing Cyndy Simms. Simms, a former Steamboat Springs superintendent who left after an often-bitter battle with DeVincentis, is the superintendent in Mercer Island.

DeVincentis was the principal at Strawberry Park Elementary School at the time. He used a school district computer and school district e-mail account. He knew - or at least should have known - that he had a limited expectation of privacy in these e-mails.

Importantly, DeVincentis had an ongoing conversation involving dozens of e-mails over a 10-month period. We do not know if they continued after DeVincentis retired from the district and pursued a seat on the School Board.

Nearly every e-mail contains at least one statement that could, at best, be described as mean-spirited in its treatment of Simms. This kind of dialogue is not appropriate for an elementary school principal to engage in, particularly on school time using school property. It is far less appropriate in the context of a person who has decided to run for the School Board and who ultimately won a seat on the School Board.

The e-mails consistently demonstrate a disturbing resentment, bitterness and anger that DeVincentis has displayed in public on rare occasions. (Manipulating a school teacher last May into lambasting the superintendent with a letter DeVincentis wrote comes to mind.) It is hard to imagine that these personality traits are conducive to serving the public good as a School Board member.

Our School Board is in near crisis. Pat Gleason has resigned because of the direction the board is taking. The board's relationship with current Superintendent Donna Howell is a mess. The board has had two facilitated conversations with Howell and has met in secret to discuss Howell seven other times in three months. Directing and working with the superintendent is the board's most important function.

DeVincentis' attitude in these e-mails indicate his ability to complete this function is compromised. The e-mails make clear he came to the board with an agenda of taking on Howell. It is now fair to ask how great a role he has played in instigating mistrust between Howell and the School Board. At a minimum, his vindictiveness toward Simms raises serious doubts about his ability to be objective and fair toward Howell.

The public gave DeVincentis a pass in his often-nasty battle with Simms four years ago. Many assumed that ugly chapter ended when Simms chose to leave the district for Washington

Imagine if the first time teacher Joby McGowan contacted him, DeVincentis had responded by sending an e-mail that said, "I'm sorry, but that episode in my career is behind me. I wish Cyndy nothing but the best." Of course, we now know, that's not what he chose to do.

Rather, he thought of the worst things he could say about Simms, and he said them. He invoked her family. He intentionally did everything he could to hurt her professionally and personally. His e-mails lacked civility and decency, two things we should demand of our public servants.

John DeVincentis often has served this district well in the past two decades. He has the opportunity to do the district and the community a final service by resigning. Now.


dodobird 9 years, 11 months ago

Thank you for "your view." Please realize not all people feel one does not grow when faced in crisis and mistakes. I think John D will continue to do what's best for this community as he has proven. His knowledge of kids and what our community needs is very wide. His intelligence is mighty and to err is human. It has been the Pilot's goal to rid of John D since he won the election. I've never been able to be convinced as to why. Strong leaders question people (and supervisors) and hope to make one reflect for the better of the community. What he did wasn't ok by any means, but who doesn't have someone they can trust to get things off their chest? And yes, he wrote them at work, but the hours he put in, I'm sure it wasn't on work "time."

It more than upseting as I reflect of the timing of Mr. Gleason's resignation and the Pilot's "news of the letters." It's all such a coincidence with the Superintenden's "up in the air" article. Sounds like people were plotting for a while.

Perhaps the town is not ready for a more liberal thinking board (and one knows the paper is not), that actually holds the Super. accountable like all staff members should be held.

A move in the right direction was done when the new board was voted in; the Pilot has not given this board an inch to do any of the jobs at hand - they keep throwing the unncesssary wrenches. It's not as though Dr. D said those words today.

In a perfect world where ALL were flawless, John would have made that comment to Joby- and I know he wishes he did. But he's ONLY human; he's remorseful and he wants to continue to serve this community in a positive mannar. I believe if he does continue on this board, he will only keep the goals in mind and not stray. (as I felt he has).

I'ts shocking to me the people who left the board are still ruling the reigns. There's reasons why people move on and are voted out!!!!!!!!!!!!! Really this community needs a more forward thinking board.

One final thought - those who know Dr. D, know his passion has always been his strength and weakness. Whatver John decides to do, I will be there through thick and thin, because as a parent in his school, I've seen that passion and I believe in it.

The people in this community should not be intimidated by what they believe is right and wrong. I know Dr. D. shouldn't either. I know he's learned through this one and will continue to go far in life. Only the good survive. (I do believe "bad guys never prosper!!" We just might not always know how.)

And to the mystery person who delivered the emails...what comes around, goes around. I wonder what your benefit was in this....that could be another headliner! It really IS a small town and to some, it may not be a mystery at all?


another_local 9 years, 11 months ago

If Dr D "continues to do what is best for the community" he will resign.

It is clear now that he is a detrimental element in our school district leadership. Organizations can not function when there is deliberate sabotage and disrespect in the leadership group. He has shown through his own words that the actions are deliberate, planned and ongoing.

He has also shown, again through his own words, that he can justify dishonesty to reach his goals showing that he believes that his version of "what is best" overrides the participation of others.

Time for Dr D to go.


marcusbmco 9 years, 11 months ago

It is only through the comments of people like "dodobird" and "mom" that give me ANY hope for the future of Steamboat Springs. The previous opinion of "dodobird" is the most acurate way to view this situation. I know from personal experience what the city council and the editorial board are capable of. To say that they are not one and the same (and some school board members) is foolish. I came to Steamboat ignorant, not as to education or experience, but the methods and agendas of people who seek power here. I have observed, I have listened, I have grown. Not so for some who I consider to be "bad Americans" because the last thing in the world they consider are the inalienable rights of American citizens. Look at the "poll numbers" and see how effective 'suggestion from a position of power' can be. I would be inclined to support Mr. DeVincentis for only these reasons: He appears to be passionate, dedicated, and is human, only the future will tell if he has grown.

Submitted from: 'Hotel Montreal' Balboa, Panama


mdw 9 years, 11 months ago

One of the reasons we chose Steamboat Springs as a place to live was the quality of its schools. The Steamboat School District had schools that were ranked among the best in the state. We were impressed not only by the teaching of the basics but also by the teaching of values. As we visited Strawberry Park Elementary, we were impressed by the conspicuous posters which extolled the virtues of honesty, integrity, respect, compassion and love. Unfortunately, we don't see many of these values being expressed by certain leaders in our school district or by our local paper with its narrow lens. Virtues are not taught from posters but by example. We are saddened to see the venomous rhetoric of our national politics and media filter down to our local school board and paper.

At some point in all our lives, we have felt wronged by someone and have reacted with anger and said and done things we shouldn't have. Not all of us have had the "privilege" of having our dirty laundry displayed on the front page of the newspaper. Hopefully we can use this incident to teach ourselves and our children to get past anger and why we shouldn't gossip. We are more concerned that we have jeopardized the ability of our school district to attract great teachers to our community and people with integrity to run for school board. Who would want to come into the middle of this? We all want to provide our children with the best education possible. With all the distrust, disrespect and lack of integrity and compassion evidenced by the actions of the school board, administration and paper, we fear we have lost sight of what is best for our children.

We think that all the actors in this drama believe in the virtues that we are trying to teach our children. We pray that all involved will bring themselves out of the mud, demonstrate these virtues, set aside anger and personal agendas, and not call for each other's head. We hope they will find common ground and create an environment for our teachers which will inspire them to do their best so that they can teach and inspire our children to be the best that they can be.


JQPUBLIC 9 years, 11 months ago

dodo... shades of political power in Oak Creek a while back... as a true supporter you put your blinders on, jump on the band wagon and hold on for dear life. Just be careful, when the wagon finally crashes all that crap you have been holding up on that pedestal comes down around your ears....and ohhh that smell.


kingsride 9 years, 11 months ago

Dodo; That could not have been said better by john d himself. Get a clue. If he does not resign, he will be recalled.


autumnwitch 9 years, 11 months ago

Those that have chosen to continue to be blinded by charisma, will never get it. To say that we have all erred in the past is true, however, most of us see it for what it is, determine to do better, learn from the past mistakes and move on to become better people. unfortunately in this case, old dogs can't learn new tricks, seems to be the mantra. When someone continues to try to cause issues with everyone around him, he needs to be stopped. It has gone on too long. Those of us who have been around long enough, know this to be the case. I am sorry that others cannot take off the blinders.


portagetheyampa 9 years, 11 months ago

Integrity is like virginity. Once you lose it you can't get it back. John, you've lost it!


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