Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs School Board President Denise Connelly said the board will order an investigation into how the Steamboat Pilot & Today got copies of e-mails sent by board member John DeVincentis when he was principal at Strawberry Park Elementary.
The e-mails between DeVincentis and Mercer Island, Wash. teacher Joby McGowan were sent in 2004-05. The e-mails were harshly critical of Mercer Island Superintendent Cyndy Simms, a former Steamboat superintendent.
Printed copies of the e-mails were placed in manila envelopes and delivered to the Pilot & Today. They were addressed to Suzanne Schlicht, the newspaper's general manager. The Pilot & Today verified the e-mails with multiple sources before publishing excerpts Friday.
"District e-mails were released for publication," Connelly wrote in an e-mail Monday. "I will be asking that the board authorize an internal investigation to determine if any of our policies were violated. We are directing the staff to cooperate with this investigation."
Nearly one dozen past and present community officials have asked DeVincentis to resign because of the e-mails, including former School Board members Tom Miller-Freutel, Paula Stephenson, Jim Gill, Tom Sharp and Pat Gleason.
On Saturday, DeVincentis apologized for the e-mails he exchanged with McGowan, who admitted the e-mails were mean-spirited and disrespectful of Simms. McGowan and DeVincentis said they never thought anyone else would see the e-mails. DeVincentis used his school computer and school e-mail account to send the e-mails.
DeVincentis said Saturday he does not intend to resign.
Ann Muhme, assistant to current Steamboat Springs Superintendent Donna Howell, said DeVincentis signed the district's "Electronic and Voicemail Acknowledgment" policy on Aug. 26, 1998. The policy warns employees that "electronic messages are not for private or confidential matters" and that "e-mail sent or received by the board, the district or the district's employees may be considered a public record subject to public disclosure or inspection under the Colorado Open Records Act."
Pilot & Today Editor Scott Stanford said the newspaper will abide by its source's desire to keep their identity secret.
"Our source has chosen to remain anonymous and we will respect that," Stanford said. "We would always prefer an on-the-record source, and the source's desire for anonymity understandably raises questions in our readers' minds.
"Ultimately, though, the source's anonymity does not change the fact that the source was credible and that the information proved to be accurate and newsworthy."
Superintendent Donna Howell, who absorbs some criticism in the e-mails and is now under fire from DeVincentis and other members of the board, has been suspected of giving the e-mails to the newspaper. She said that wasn't the case.
"It's not appropriate for me to comment on any of the content of the e-mails," she said. "But I did not provide the e-mails to the paper, and I don't know who did."
Connelly said Saturday the School Board does not believe "a rash decision" about DeVincentis' future on the School Board "without accurate information is beneficial to the district or our students."
On Monday, Connelly wanted the community to know the School Board does not approve of DeVincentis' e-mails.
"As a board, we wish to make it clear that we do not condone the contents of the e-mail, and we believe that disparaging remarks of any past superintendent are unacceptable, " Connelly wrote.
School Board member Jeff Troeger wrote an e-mail shortly after Connelly sent hers that said he stood behind her Monday comments.
Pat Gleason, who resigned his seat on the School Board last week because of difference with the board's direction, said in a letter to Connelly that DeVincentis will face a recall if he does not resign. Gleason said a group organizing the recall plans to meet Wednesday.
DeVincentis said he had no response to Gleason's recall threat.