School Board to continue e-mail investigation

Board president wants to make sure no confidential information policies were violated

Advertisement

The DeVincentis e-mails

— The Steamboat Springs School Board will continue its investigation into how e-mails sent by John DeVincentis in 2004-05 were obtained and given to the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

On Wednesday, former School Board member Pat Gleason admitted that he gave the e-mails to the Pilot & Today. Gleason asked School Board President Denise Connelly to abandon the investigation, saying it was a waste of time and money now that he has come forward as the newspaper's source.

But Connelly said she has received letters from concerned parents "urging the completion of the investigation to make sure we have policies in place to protect confidential information of students and employees."

The e-mails were sent between DeVincentis and a teacher in Mercer Island, Wash. They started in August 2004 and ended in May 2005. DeVincentis used his school computer and school account to send the e-mails.

In a letter sent to the newspaper, Gleason said he had access to the DeVincentis' e-mails as a School Board member. The e-mails were taken from DeVincentis' school computer after he retired from the school district in 2005.

Connelly ordered the investigation last week during a special School Board meeting. The investigation began this week. Connelly said the School Board has hired attorney Earl Rhodes of Younge and Hockensmith, a Grand Junction law firm, to conduct the investigation. Rhodes conducted interviews with board members this week and is expected to interview staff today.

Connelly said she does not know how long it will take to complete the investigation.

Connelly said Gleason's admission that he is the source of the e-mails increases the need for the investigation.

"I just feel the investigation is even more necessary now to make sure we have adequate policies in place and to make sure they have not been violated," she said.

On Thursday, Gleason said he was aware the investigation was continuing.

"I have no clue what's going to go on," he said. "Maybe they'll send (the investigator) my way."

DeVincentis said Tuesday he is no longer communicating with the newspaper and did not return calls seeking comment Thursday. DeVincentis said last week that he will not be involved in the investigation except to "answer any question asked" of him.

The e-mails DeVincentis sent were harshly critical of Cyndy Simms, a former Steamboat superintendent and the current superintendent in Mercer Island. In the e-mails, DeVincentis suggests ways to undermine Simms, including using aspects of her personal life. He also brags about lying to the Mercer Island School Board to get the board to hire Simms.

He uses derogatory terms to refer to her and jokes about spitting on her and being in the throes of passion with her.

DeVincentis has apologized for the content of the e-mails, saying he was angry at the time the e-mails were written and they were meant to be private.

-To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

linus 7 years, 8 months ago

reallocal - I can't believe you can't get the idea that not all comments are meant literally. Kind of like if I said you are so clueless you couldn't find your way out of a paper bag...

0

reallocal 7 years, 8 months ago

I get the idea. I just don't agree with it, especially pertaining to this individual. If you don't mean it, don't expend the energy to express it. Sometimes thoughts are better left as thoughts, linus.

0

linus 7 years, 8 months ago

and sometimes they're better left not printed in the newspaper.

0

reallocal 7 years, 8 months ago

linus-oh, you mean the tax dollars that have to be spent on a lawsuit asking for records and discussions that should have been public in the first place, as requested by everyone but D and his tribe of followers? If he weren't there, that secret session may not have been held, and we may not have been spending those tax dollars. Interesting that the common denominator in all of these controversies is DeVincentis, isn't it?

Gleason's reputation has been ruined too. No matter what the investigation reveals, this scandal has cast a shadow on his record of public service, even if he and all district employees are found innocent of wrongdoing. I applaud him for sacrificing his name to do the right thing. DeVincentis' only card has been his reputation, one he tried desperately to save the day prior to the article published when he stopped by the Pilot and offered to resign if the article was not published. Ooops. Bet he didn't tell you that part of the story...

Finally, if you would trust your children with a man who at any time condones battering and abuse of any sort (oh, yes, he did say this) in any situation at all EVER, well, let's just say that raises a few red flags.

0

steamboatsconscience 7 years, 7 months ago

reallocal "DeVincentis' only card has been his reputation, one he tried desperately to save the day prior to the article published when he stopped by the Pilot and offered to resign if the article was not published." Can you prove this occurred? And who or what is your source? Oh yeah, anonymous.

0

reallocal 7 years, 8 months ago

and some thoughts are better not sent from a publically owned accounts. But since it's too late for that bit of advice, linus, thanks for the compliment. I'd rather be trying to find my way out of the paper bag than stand willingly with it pulled over my head...

0

steamboatparent 7 years, 8 months ago

Interesting approach; a member of the school board is identified in public for harboring hateful feelings and pathological attitudes towards a former school district employee while he worked with her. Once called out, in order to grow as a person, he seeks counseling and apologizes and remains on the board. Meanwhile a board member tries to work with the system, resigns, identifies the cancer, admits his actions and asks that we move forward. But the president says no, lets spend thousands of dollars more to find out what is happening. Doesn't this money belong to our children and teachers? It's one thing that we paid John to write the emails in the first place, can't we just recall him and move on.

0

53native 7 years, 8 months ago

Here's what Id like to know: if Gleason was aware of DeVicinte's emails a couple years ago through his position on the school board, weren't the other members aware also then? And no one questioned the motivation or propriety of DeVicinte's behavior at that time? Maybe the whole board needs to go. As for Connelly's comments about continuing the investigation, sounds like a clear case of shoot the messenger...and the cover up continues. If DeVicintes had a shred of integrity left he'd do the right thing and leave yesterday. "There's no right way to do the wrond thing"...

0

Finn 7 years, 8 months ago

Why do you need a private investigator to determine if your policies were violated? They are YOUR policies. Read them...interpret them...act. It shouldn't be this difficult. Just goes to show how dysfunctional the school board has become since DeVincentis came on board.

0

Cal2StmBoatGirl 7 years, 8 months ago

No wonder Pat quit...this Board, and Connelly in particular, has its bass ackwards. Recall Devincentis AND Connelly.

0

Books 7 years, 8 months ago

Why is Gleason presented as the whistle-blowing hero while DeVincentis is presented as Darth Vader? Gleason broke the law, not DeVincentis.

Gleason; "Shortly after DeVincentis left the employ of the School District, as a board member at that time, I had access to the controversial e-mails, as well as other board members."

Alexis left out the part about the old board having access to these e-mails right after Dr. D left. Did the Old Board authorize a witch-hunt immediately after DeVincentis left? What else did they find? How much dirt do they have on others that might prevent them from coming forward?

Gleason; "I have no clue what's going to go on,"

Few of us do Pat that is why we need the investigation. Your relationship with the Pilot is the reason we need the investigation to be done by an outside party. Before the Board hired the outside investigator, the Pilot was the only investigator. And we all know whose side they are on.

Clearly, this town cannot move on until the entire story comes out and that won't happen without an outside investigator.

0

beagle 7 years, 8 months ago

This story is getting really good now! A classic tale of an evil plot that backfires. Ha! Gleason must have been in a panic over that investigation. Oops, now they're going to find out who actually ordered an employee to spend hours and hours looking for those e-mails. As if Pat could get those e-mails by himself. And he and whoever his co-plotters were never dreamed that Denise would be so strong and stand up to all the pressure. Way to go Denise! Yes, the investigation must continue of course. What about all the social security numbers and tons of other private information that are on those computers? They can't just let information walk out the door to the newspaper and say, "okay, you did it Pat, thank you for telling us, case closed."

Also hilarious is seeing the band of moralizers in the comments after Gleason's letter trying to nominate him for sainthood. Who are these people? All his relatives and former board members who just can't stand to see a new board dare to do things differently than they did? Thank God I was never on a board with this kind of a backstabbing nincompoop. He's working with these people, what, two or three times a week, never tells Denise or anyone what he's got in mind, then takes private e-mails to the news to try to annihilate them? And of course this is only because he is an absolute saint from heaven, trying to help the community. He spends half his letter telling us that he was the greatest board member that ever lived.
Must say it's great entertainment though.

0

dwahzner 7 years, 8 months ago

Blah.....blah....bloggers! All the spit and hype about a board member. The real question should be: Who put John D in his place? Who was the organized group who backed most of the current board members when they ran for election? Theres a bigger picture to this issue and all everyone is doing is casting stones and calling people names. THINK about it! Seriously! Then you will see the whole picture.

0

QuitYerWhining 7 years, 8 months ago

I have a suggestion....... can the Pilot staff please add another check off box for their "polls" (really a vote not a poll at all) especially in regard to their latest "poll". Please include a check off for "Who Cares" I think the representative sample (number of voters) will increase dramatically. Thanks

0

ElBorracho 7 years, 8 months ago

Books, can you please explain how Gleason "broke the law"? Certainly not by obtaining public records or by doing whatever he felt like with them. And Beagle, perhaps you missed the earlier, lengthy conversation about Colorado's open records law? There's no evil or wrong-doing in anyone "ordering" an employee to "spend hours and hours" looking for those e-mails. They are a public record so it doesn't matter whether Pat, Donna, you or I asked for a copy of them -- the school district is REQUIRED BY LAW to provide them. There is absolutely nothing nefarious about that; it's called following the law. As far as social security numbers go, again I'd suggest that you do a little research into the state's open records law. While the e-mails themselves are public, personal information such as SSNs is NOT public and could not be released by the district. Sheesh. I don't get why some people are so opposed to the open records law -- it's actually in effect to help all of us, as the general public, so that we can stay informed about what government entities and officials are doing with our taxpayer dollars.

0

beagle 7 years, 8 months ago

ElBorracho, I will gladly explain. Perhaps YOU missed the letter to the editor today from Colorado attorney David Wilson:

http://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/2007/apr/20/david_wilson_emails_and_rule_law/?letters

To quote him: "The e-mails are not automatically "public records" under the Open Records Act. The Colorado Supreme Court addressed this issue in a 2005 case involving e-mails sent from a county computer between the Arapahoe County Clerk and his county-employed girlfriend. As the court stated, the "possession, creation, or receipt of an e-mail record by a public... employee is not dispositive... The fact that a public employee or public official sent or received a message while compensated by public funds or using publicly-owned computer[s]... is insufficient to make the message a 'public record.'" Instead, the court focused on the e-mails' content, holding that if they did not directly address the performance of official duties or the expenditure of public funds, they were private, not "public records," even if computer use for personal purposes violated county policy.

Here, the e-mails are not "public records" just because they were written on a District computer or because Dr. D acknowledged that they "may" be subject to disclosure. Rather, if an Open Records Act request had been made, they would need to be evaluated based on the Supreme Court's decision, under which many, if not all, appear to be private, not "open" records."

Statutes, including the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (18 U.S.C. 2701-2710) and Colorado Revised Statutes 18-5.5-102, protect e-mails from unauthorized access and use. The Colorado Constitution and case law protect public employees from invasions of privacy.

E-mails stored on a District computer belong to the District, not to any employee or District official. Consistent with the law, District policy presumably does not allow anyone to access an employee's e-mail at any time for any reason, but only permits access and use for official government purposes. Here, the e-mails appear to have been obtained, at least in part, for the private purpose of attacking Dr. D in retaliation for his views as a School Board member."

Therefore I'm afraid that all of your comments are completely wrong.

0

citizenjohnq 7 years, 8 months ago

"Mom": I've rarely seen anyone so passionate about defending wrong activity, sarcastic or not. Did Mr. Devincentis even take an ethics class at California State Teachers College while getting his master's or Ph.D. there? Did he take one at Pitt while getting his bachelors? If he had, I would hope he would have learned the quality of kindness over vindictiveness at the very least.

"Beagle": "...the court focused on the e-mails' content, holding that if they did not directly address the performance of official duties..." Devincentis admitted in the emails that he lied to Mercer Island SD board members when they asked him about their prospective superintindent. A.K.A.: Devincentis addressed the performance of his official duties- that being his conversations with MISD board about his official duties and interactions with Simms- in the emails. He also discussed the official duties of Simms both here in Steamboat and in Mercer Island with McGowan. David Wilson makes a compelling argument, but it is sans the entire ruling in the case he sites. Close. But close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

0

mom 7 years, 8 months ago

I don't keep up with the classes taken just the wonderful man that took them. Funny how slander can make you "think" you know a guy. Think again.

0

beagle 7 years, 8 months ago

citizenjohnq - whether the e-mails were relevant is debatable at best. But even if they were, an Open Records Act request would have to be made in order for anyone to obtain them:

"Rather, if an Open Records Act request had been made, they would need to be evaluated based on the Supreme Court's decision, under which many, if not all, appear to be private, not "open" records."

I'd say it's pretty clear that releasing them to a newspaper two years after they were written without having made any official request to get them is in fact illegal. (isn't it also kind of funny that the 'lies' he told about Simms were just compliments about her?)

But maybe you could offer your legal advice to Pat Gleason because he may be needing it soon. (et j'apprecie votre francais)

0

citizenjohnq 7 years, 8 months ago

Beagle- the relevance is debatable, I agree with you on that and enjoy the dialogue (je suis content que vous appreciez mon français). As far as an ORA request, on the other hand, it doesn't apply here- at least not by the standards that Devincentis himself applies to the board. (I site the "survey incident" when Devincentis said,"All school directors should have access to all school records at all times,". Here's the link to check it out if you want: http://www2.steamboatpilot.com/news/2... Devincentis and other board members then proceeded to order Dr. Howell to release the survey results to them. (I'll note here that I am of the opinion that Dr. Howell should have never said the surveys would be kept confidential in the first place.) Devincentis should have noted the exception when he spoke (the exception being that "all" precludes anything he wrote in the emails). au revoir.

0

citizenjohnq 7 years, 8 months ago

Beagle- one more thing... "the 'lies' he told about Simms were just compliments about her"

Weather a lie is complimentary or not, it's still a lie. Think of it as if someone were applying for a job and had their friend be a "reference" for them from their previous employer. The prospective employer would then be lied to by the "reference" and hire someone under false pretenses. Bottom line: Devincentis had the chance to "ruin" Simms employment there when the MISD board members asked; he could have chosen to tell the truth with facts about her tenure here at SSSD, rather than use un-truth to persuade Simms prospective employers- and leave the decision up to them. Doing these things would have been the right thing to do and taken true courage- that is, doing the right thing at the right time.

0

citizenjohnq 7 years, 8 months ago

Beagle- and last, but not least. The surveys were conducted via district email. All employees were sent the survey through their district accounts. Just thought you'd want to know.

0

autumnwitch 7 years, 8 months ago

He signed a release, he knew the consequences and wasted our tax dollars doing it. We all have the option to have private e-mail addresses to send poison if we wish. He chose to do it on our dime, truly pathetic. Don't bother trying to change the minds of those set in stone of he can do no wrong. They will never see beyond their own noses.

0

linus 7 years, 8 months ago

some of you seem awfully selective about which tax dollars you worry about. what about the thousands of tax dollars the school district has had to spend on the Pilot's lawsuits? the Pilot lost and yet keeps coming back to bully some more. also, I don't think there are many who said Dr. D can do no wrong. but it's interesting how you seem to only care about the e-mails and couldn't care less if it is shown that releasing them was illegal. the ends justify the means? I admit the e-mails were not pleasant and showed that he still had way too much anger, but if you look back at them, did he actually hurt anyone? no. the claims that he tried to 'manipulate her career or interfere in her family life' are a huge stretch. He suggested this guy do a survey and said he liked Simms daughter and wished her well. He and the other guy were venting in private, albeit unwisely on a school computer. On the other hand, what about Gleason and his pals? it doesn't seem to bother you when one school board member doesn't agree with the rest so he tries to ruin Dr. D.'s life, as well as ambush the current board, probably illegally no less!!! But I know NOTHING will change the minds of those who think the e-mails are the only and most important thing in this whole matter and that they "reveal" the true Dr. D. Well, I know him and he's a fine person. I'd trust him with my kids any day.

0

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.