E-mail investigation ordered

Connelly: Board wants to determine if policies were violated


The DeVincentis e-mails

— 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.


autumnwitch 7 years, 11 months ago

Board member Jeff Troeger is fond of saying two things in most board meetings which seem appropriate here. "I don't think we are asking the right questions", and "I think this is a red herring".
What a load of garbage and subterfuge. Thank you Denise, for clarifying whom else needs to be on the recall petition.

The board is not going to get the chance to make a "rash" decision. We the people will do what the board is afraid to do, cut out the cancer.

Smoke and mirrors are not going to cut it at this point. It has been stated before, but I feel the need to reiterate...it doesn't matter who sent the e-mails. They exist and are just another nail in John D's coffin.


sbspowderhound 7 years, 11 months ago

Who ever brought those emails to the Pilot is gutless.

Have the courage to at least come forward and tell us who you are and how you got the emails.


baseballforever 7 years, 11 months ago

What a joke Denise is she is not showing concern for what has happend. Instead she is trying to divert the attention from the issue, poor and sick leadership. What a waste of time, but clearly a good look for all to see how terrible the SSSB leadership really is. Hidden agenda's everywhere.


autumnwitch 7 years, 11 months ago

If 'Boatthroat' were to come forward and admit that he/she were the one to release the e-mails, what purpose would that serve other than giving John a specific target to attack?

Would you want to be in that line of fire after what you have seen with your own two eyes?

As I have said in the past, those of us who have been here long enough to have witnessed the 'Life and Times of the Great John D' don't have a problem understanding why this individual remains anonymous.


parentofsssdstudents 7 years, 11 months ago

Great Job Denise! Once again you are skirting the issue and avoiding making a decision. At this point who released the e-mails is irrelevent. The issue at hand is that John will never be able to have any credibility on this board again. He is destroying the fabric of our education system and right now you are his accomplice.

And for all of you out there that think that this is a one time instance, ask some of the staff or administrators about some of their current e-mails they have received from John as a board member. He fires out e-mails without regard to who they might hurt and then when approached he always says that "That was not meant for you, I am sorry".

We work hard in our house to teach our kids the difference between good and bad behavior and how to treat other people. Denise, the precedent you are setting by not addressing this appropriately is sending a strong message to our kids (and staff) that in our district there are no consequences for poor behavior and actions. If you have been following national news, Imus has just been suspended for two weeks with a possible firing for one comment. John's rants far exceed that and yet you can't decide what is the right thing to do? Come on, for once show some leadership, think for yourself and get John off the board!


beentheredonethat 7 years, 11 months ago

wouldn't you be eager to know what else eager writer Johnny has composed in the past few months and years, after retiring from the school. those emails, unfortunately for the public, are hiding on his personal computer at home. one can state with certainty that his vicious and demented emailing continued while he began to "work" for the school board.


Gladys 7 years, 11 months ago

parentofsssdstudents :

"in our district there are no consequences for poor behavior and actions"

Yep - Steamboat


reallocal 7 years, 11 months ago

Maybe we can all send snippets of our hair to DeVincentis. After all, he will be having a lot more free time and maybe that way the 79% of the population that think John should resign can spread that vodoo power pretty thin amonst all of us...Besides, this is not really an issue. What's done is done, and there's no sense in crying over spilled (soured) milk.


JQPUBLIC 7 years, 11 months ago

I'm flabbergasted, is Connelly afraid of the wrath of John or is she his buddy? She can't remain anonymous in her decisions about this because it cannot be taken into executive session, any discussion on elected officials are open to the public. Seems Connelly's choice of action is to ignore the message and kill the messenger. John signed the policy stating "electronic messages are not for private or confidential matters" and that emails may be considered public records... unless this policy contradicts itself and tells employees that the ramblings of an egotistical jackass are confidential and the content cannot be released, Connelly is just asking the board to sanction yet another witch hunt at taxpayers expense. Wouldn't it be ironic if the emails went public from McGowan's end, safe (maybe not) from John's revenge and the stupidity of the board president. Pat Gleason... I believe your recall should include Connelly, this is no position for a president to take, even if I felt finding the whistle-blower was important, dealing with DeVincentis should have been the first priority. Had she stated that a special meeting was being called to discuss their options of sanctioning John, I would have taken her seriously but she doesn't seem to have her priorities straight either. Maybe they believe that if they scream "someone tattled" long and loud enough the public will forget what "someone tattled" about.


reallocal 7 years, 11 months ago

How can it possibly be a violation of policies if he signed the waiver stating that his emails were a part of public record?


JustSomeJoe 7 years, 11 months ago

Does finding out "who told" lessen John's attitudes and leadership abilities on the school board? "Who told" is vastly secondary to John's actions, in 2004/2005 and the same tatics he is employing today.

How can anyone defend a man who suggests to a teacher in Mercer Island, WA to undermine Cyndy Simms through Cyndy's high school daughter? In the end, it's simply a disgusting and despicable act, and shows John is not above manipulating students to achieve his ends, regardless of the consquences to the student. How can you defend him in the face of this tactic? Reprehensible, no matter what year, who told and where. Not school board material, John has simply gone over the edge. His apology make that clear, he's simply sorry that we found out.


portagetheyampa 7 years, 11 months ago

I know Denise well and am disappointed in her decision to pursue the source of the emails' revelation rather than the source of the emails.

Get the recall started, Pat


Andyeast 7 years, 11 months ago

Very interesting... And entertaining, to say the least. ... It was, after all, two years ago. Is it possible that John and/or McGOwan's view is different of SImms now that time has passed? Maybe.. Maybe not...

And yes, we want to know who dropped off the emails.. Not to detract from the concern about John D, but just because you tell someone the source was credible, it doesn't mean that is IS a credible source. We like the scoop. We want to know.. So we can decide on our own if the source was credible. What if John himself dropped off the emails? Wouldn't that be an interesting twist!! Anything is possible here on the set of As Steamboat Turns

So, those of you who say it dosn't matter... it might not to you.. but to those of us who love scoop, it does!

And how about we quit worrying so darn much about John D. Good grief, a young man of 29 years old passed away from a car accident this week. Isn't supporting his family and respecting his memory far more important than some vengeful emails? - I argue yes, even though I still want to know who sent the emails to the PILOT. - Even I need to realign with what is moral and right.


geezer 7 years, 11 months ago

What does Ms. Connelly mean by saying that Dr. D's remarks are "unacceptable?" The last time I checked, 'unacceptable' meant - does not meet a required standard. Ergo, something should actually be done about Dr. D's failure to meet a required standard.

Wasting time and money to chase-down "the source" is like interrogating a policeman for arresting a thief. On the other hand, Dr. D is not accused of a crime and does not even have the right against self-incrimination. If Ms. Connelly has any doubt as to the veracity of the source, then maybe, just maybe, she should ask Dr. D himself about the e-mails. "Did you do it?" If so, here are the consequences! Do your job instead of this silly political dance and perhaps we will all have some closure.


steamboatparent 7 years, 11 months ago

It seems that Denise can't see what the vaste majority of Steamboat wants, John out of there for acting in a way most find reprehensible. Be efficient, take care of our kids and move forward. We paid for him to write that stuff while he was responsible for helping raise our kids. What more really needs to be said about keeping a person like this making choices for our future. Maybe, given a chance at school board meetings, he'll step it up a notch and actually start spitting at people.


ElBorracho 7 years, 11 months ago

The policy everybody signs explicitly says that staff e-mails are not private and are subject to the Colorado Open Records Law. What exactly is Denise launching an investigation into? How someone "screwed up" and actually opened an open record? Where's her investigation into how John D. misappropriated school district resources and staff time to write these e-mails?


geezer 7 years, 11 months ago

Bravo Dr. D! You have been out-done by another crude and thoughtless "professional." Perhaps Ms. Connelly will award you a blue ribbon at the next board meeting for not calling the Superintendant a "nappy-headed Ho" (not that we know of, at least).


Hammurabi 7 years, 11 months ago

Great! So now the School Board Presidnet is going to spend tax dollars to investigate who and how the emails were made public. So now we can all be manipulated to thinking that the most important issue at hand is the delivery of the message rather than what the message contained. Good going. It's very apparent that this is just another atempt to divert the community from the real issue. Ms. Connolley had the opportunity to change the direction of this board and get back on task. Her reputation and integrity are at risk and I wouldn't want that cloud over my head in this small community. Ms. Connolly, is that how you want to be remembered in the future?


forsteamboatkids 7 years, 11 months ago

That is an amazing trick! John D's voice and actions being spoken through Denise Connelly's mouth. Anything it takes to get the public's mind off of the "alleged" e-mails. Now that is strong leadership from the school board president. It takes her several days to give a response to the foul mouthed behavior of a fellow board member and now her leadership plan is to begin an investigation into a whistleblower. She has already spent over $2000 on hiring a facilitator for the board and now countless more tax dollars on an investigation. Why not save the city of Steamboat Springs money and your fellow citizens time in organizing a recall election? Resign- if you truly have the best interests of the school district in mind. Take the "doctor" with you.


oofcboy 7 years, 11 months ago

ok I sent the e-mails,next page is to get the guy away from our schools, our money and last but not least our kids. now I am dancing around the room after being caught for turning in the e-mails,you know what I should even get a medal .I will put it with my discharge papers from the USMC. come get some


plainjane 7 years, 11 months ago

I can't believe that Denise Connelly, Jeff Troeger and Jerry Kozatch actually think that they can divert the community's attention away from John DeVincentis' appalling actions by beginning an investigation to find out who gave the emails to the paper! As long as we are going to hold a recall election, we may as well include them too!

These people have no business on the Board of Education. They are not fit to be in charge of anything but a circus.


Andyeast 7 years, 11 months ago

So... How is it that any of us who have posted here spouting negative comments about John D. are any better than he is? He spoke venmously in emails of Simms.... Many of us are speaking negatively of him on here.

SO- HOW DID WE BECOME THE MORAL RIGHT? - Aren't those of us who are slamming John doing just what he did, yet we are demaning that he be held accountable, while we hide under our screen names on here and do just what he has done?

Hmmmm.... -


LocalYouth11 7 years, 11 months ago

The reason there is an investigation into the emails is because while the emails are not at all private, it is probably against the School District's policies to release those emails to the press. This is not the Pilot's fault, it is the problem of whomever printed the emails and left them for the Pilot.

I am not saying I am in favor of Dr. D remaining on the school board. I spent six years in Strawberry Park Elementary School under the supervision of Principal John DeVincentis at the school and I knew him even as a small child to have a rather vicious temper for someone effectively running an elementary school for kids five to eleven years old.

Something needs to be done about this man's position in our education system.


Camo181 7 years, 11 months ago

Why didn't Dr. D follow in the footsteps of the former mayor and town board of Oak Creek and have the hard drive replaced in his computer--then no one would know about his "other side." Seems to me if these e-mails surfaced, there's bound to be more! Why is the school board out to shoot the messenger and not address serious concerns about this Dr. D? Duh!


reallocal 7 years, 11 months ago

I am a proud product of our school system. I take offense at your insinuation that SSSD students are all unskilled workers. Perhaps if you, in your infinite business leadership, were to provide professional jobs in Steamboat, you'd discover just how smart and talented many of the district's children are.

Secondly, your statement "Those who are writing to complain about Dr. D.'s words need to fall back and look at the provocations that produced them" is not only morally misguided, but laughable. John has always had problems with women in a position of power, and Simms' strong opinions threatened John's manipulation of the district's parents, students, and staff. That is why he was "provoked." I don't trust him to know what's best for himself (obviously, that would be to resign), so how could I trust him to know what's best for our district and our community?


Andyeast 7 years, 11 months ago

Hmmm.. Who ate all of the sour grapes this morning?????


reallocal 7 years, 11 months ago

I find it interesting that you believe you have me pegged (you don't). I agree that most teachers do not have the skills or real-life experience to run the district, and I won't even address the conflict-of-interest issue. This is applicable to a lot of people in our community, not just teachers. I have never expected anyone to hand me anything just because of where we live. I work hard at my jobs (yes, both of them, and no, neither one is teaching), and I'm sorry that you have had bad experiences with locals who are a result of the school district. Please note that just because someone works in an unskilled job does not make them unskilled. I'm sure that you are aware that there are many options for employers in town, and just like an employee who wants to climb the professional ladder competes for those positions, a sucessful company competes for quality employees. Your business ethics and seeming lack of personal morals and respect would immediately flag you as an undesirable employer. No wonder you have had a difficult time working with people. But this is all getting off topic here. The one thing that I do bet you'll agree with is that someone can't remain in a position when they are obviously not competent or stable without being detrimental to the whole organization. So let's recall DeVincentis.


jeannie berger 7 years, 10 months ago

Hash_Garret, I can't believe you actually called reallocal 'girlie'. Did you just fall off of the turnip truck or what?


reallocal 7 years, 10 months ago

Thank you dreamy...I think it was a pumpkin (bumpkin) truck though...


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