School Board releases e-mail investigation report

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The DeVincentis e-mails

— John DeVincentis violated school policies by sending and receiving personal e-mails on his school computer in 2004 and 2005, and Pat Gleason violated school policies by publicly releasing those e-mails, an attorney who investigated the e-mails has concluded.

The Steamboat Springs School Board on Tuesday released a five-page report on its internal investigation into the DeVincentis e-mails. Grand Junction attorney Earl Rhodes conducted the investigation.

Rhodes concluded Superintendent Donna Howell acted appropriately in gathering the e-mails and sharing them with former School Board President Paula Stephenson. But he said Howell could have done a better job of protecting such confidential information.

Howell was traveling Tuesday for a vacation in Canada and said she has not seen the report. However, she said she was not concerned with its contents since she was not involved in making the e-mails public. The report indicates Howell destroyed her copy of the e-mails in 2006.

"I have already put this behind me, and I hope this report will do the same for the Board," she said. "We have a number of building projects we need to focus on, and we are gathering input on the 21st-century skills a student needs to succeed."

The Gleason connection

Gleason said Tuesday he could not comment on the report until he had read it.

He resigned from the School Board after releasing the e-mails to the Pilot & Today, saying he did something he felt was the right thing, but that it conflicted with Board ethics. The report hints Gleason obtained his copy of the e-mails from Stephenson. Neither Gleason nor Stephenson cooperated with the investigation.

The report indicates DeVincentis exchanged e-mails with Mercer Island, Wash., teacher Joby McGowan for more than a year, starting in March 2004 and continuing through June 2005. The report states McGowan initiated the e-mail exchanges.

In the e-mails, McGowan and DeVincentis are highly critical of former Steamboat Superintendent and current Mercer Island Superintendent Cyndy Simms. The e-mails include several jokes about her personal life.

DeVincentis, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, has apologized for the e-mails and held public meetings to discuss them. But he has refused calls for his resignation.

Gleason and Stephenson now are helping spearhead the Save Our Schools RE-2 group, which filed a recall petition Monday seeking to force DeVincentis onto the November ballot. The petition contains 2,307 signatures; 1,933 valid signatures are required for the recall to proceed.

Policy changes

School Board President Denise Connelly said the report is not Rhodes' actual investigation report, but a document paraphrased by the Board.

"The investigator findings are verbatim from the (Rhodes') report," she said. "We also, of course, have access to transcripts and we have lived through it. We have the background, and we wanted to lay it out in a way people can understand it."

Connelly said she expects the Board to revise some district policies as a result of the investigation.

"We need to look at our policies, we need to see where they were not followed and kinda work on that," she said. "We need to see if we need to supplement the policies with other policies to catch any holes to protect the information."

Connelly said the release of the report is the first step in a long process to ensure the proper handling of district e-mails.

"We don't know how this is going to go yet," she said. "We have some information from our school attorney about some directions we might go as far as policies. We just got this together, and there are going to be a lot of ramifications in the system. We had a policy that wasn't enforced that much, and we are looking to tighten that up."

Board conclusions

The report included a five-part Board of Education conclusion that blamed former School Board members, Board policy and other violations for the release of the e-mails.

"The investigation was made unnecessarily difficult because several former (Board of Education) members refused to cooperate," the School Board concluded based on Rhodes' investigation. "There were numerous violations of policy. These will be discussed with the superintendent and addressed."

The Board also said Stephenson should have returned or destroyed copies she had of e-mails between DeVincentis and McGowan after Stephenson left the Board in November 2005.

Like Gleason, Stephenson said Tuesday night she had not yet read the investigation report and had no comment.

Connelly said the Board also found Gleason violated School Board policy and "widely-held principles of confidentiality and ethics by making the McGowan-DeVincentis e-mails public."

The report is available online at Steamboatpilot.com and at the district's Web site at www.sssd.k12.co.us. Hard copies soon will be available at the district's office in the George P. Sauer Human Services Center on Seventh Street.

Comments

stillinsteamboat 7 years, 3 months ago

80488mom,the children do deserve our full attention.Our teachers deserve leadership they can trust. If the teachers are unhappy our children will be too. I wonder how much they can respect Donna Howell after finding out she's a commen CROOK.

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Hammurabi 7 years, 3 months ago

ET, I think that is exactly what John wants too! Aaah to be King!

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 3 months ago

I'm not sure how iron clad her contract is. I think we need to show up at the next BOE meeting and demand action.

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kingsride 7 years, 3 months ago

I signed the petition and I'll vote to recall him. I have thought all along that he should and would be recalled and I still feel that way. Time will tell.

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puzzles 7 years, 3 months ago

How much did the internal investigation cost the taxpayers when Howell's and Pat's story have not changed since they were first printed in the newspaper? It seems like a lot of wasted time and money to prove what we already knew.

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 3 months ago

exteacher:I couldn't agree more. John would make our district what it should be. (regardless of what some of you think of him he has far more Love for our Children and their TEACHERS than the current administration) He isn't a liar (LIKe Donna) He keeps his promises (unlike Donna) He admits his mistakes (unlike Donna).........

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 3 months ago

True about the HS principal,He refuses to be flexible and change. It's his way or the highway. I've tried to talk to him about my child and all he does is blow sunshine up my a**. I never get anywhere talking to him, so like most parents I just keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 3 months ago

Where should we set up our headquarters for the Donna Howell Recall Committee. I'm serious!!!!

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kingsride 7 years, 3 months ago

You recall elected officials, you terminate employees.

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exteacher 7 years, 3 months ago

I would support a petition to "terminate" her contract......

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 3 months ago

WOW,WAY TO LEAD THE WAY AND BE AN EXAMPLE OF HONESTY AND INTEGRITY DONNA.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 3 months ago

Paula Stephenson said,

""I'm a private citizen and have been for two years," said Stephenson, who was the School Board president at the time the controversial e-mails were sent. "I don't see why I need to come in and help with an investigation going on right now. While I was on the board, I don't feel the superintendent or board did anything illegal or unethical. This has nothing to do with me."

www2.steamboatpilot.com/news/2007/may/09/exboard_members_stay_silent/

I guess it did have something to do with her, eh? Looks like I was right: it goes much deeper than "it doesn't matter how the emails were released.

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 3 months ago

Thanks Matt, don't always agree with you but I do on this one.

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JustSomeJoe 7 years, 3 months ago

Kielbasa and stillinsteamboat - You guys missed points one and two, shocker. As long as it's John, it's ok.

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 3 months ago

Joe, I didn't miss the point. I told John to his face that what he did was unfortunate and unquestionably wrong. BUT, I think what Pat,Paula,DONNA,et all. did was far more devious than what John did.

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80488mom 7 years, 3 months ago

Can anyone spell LAWSUIT*

Maybe the S.O.S. committee will now become the Save Our Skins committee....or maybe S.O.B.......Save Our Backs.

I'm waiting to see if John extends the community the same level of grace and forgiveness he was given.

I found it doubtful that John was the only one who used his school email for personal correspondence. In fact, I would be willing to bet most have done the same.

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mkbar 7 years, 3 months ago

Why would the community need to receive grace and forgiveness from John? He wasn't exonerated by this report.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 3 months ago

JustsomeJoe- No, didn't miss anything about D. Go thru my posts on this matter. I've already stated that I don't agree with what D did. That's been shoved down all of our throats as the ONLY evil. I concede that D was an idiot with the emails and I'm not shocked by them existing. At least I can concede that. That's why I'm using objectivity in this whole matter. That's why people such as yourself can only come back with "not caring how the emails came out." You say you made up your own mind, but at what time did "Recall" first enter your mind: before or after the emails came out?

The point I always tried to make was the whole thing was deeper than just D and his emails, and that others involved in SOS were just as guilty of deception. That's why I don't agree with the recall. Now, if Mother Teresa had stepped down from Heaven and started the recall, I'd believe that she did it with no ulterior motives. Gleason isn't Mother Teresa; he just can't be held accountable for his deeds any longer.

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steamboatsconscience 7 years, 3 months ago

Hey Scotty Just gotta love your timing. You're really getting this Journalism thing down.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 3 months ago

Can't blame Scott for the timing...unless you mean the forum's time-stamping problem. (Haven't noticed it today, though!) The PDF said it was released just today. It won't change anyone's mind whose mind was already made up. The choir only listens to the preacher, no matter what religion, so to say.

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beagle 7 years, 3 months ago

Here's a couple of nice excerpts:

"• Howell directs tech staff to download all information from DeVincentis computer. DeVincentis neither asked nor told. • Staff reluctantly agrees to enter principal's office after hours (evening) to download emails/documents from hard drive."

"Howell interviewed by investigator and explains why she why she ordered staff to do after-hours computer downloading: 1. Budget concerns. DeVincentis possibly over-budget at Strawberry Park Elementary. Financial records needed from DeVincentis computer. However, Finance Director states that financial records kept only at district office. 2. Unauthorized offer. Letter written by DeVincentis promising stipend to teacher candidate needed to be recovered. However, teacher candidate states that neither verbal nor written stipend offer ever made by DeVincentis. 3. Generalized concerns. Possible documents on DeVincentis computer that could affect newly hired SPE principal."

A superintendent we can all be proud of! I can't imagine why anyone would have a problem with this woman!

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SteamboatJoe 7 years, 3 months ago

D hung himself using the sssd.k12.co.us account. Howell found exactly what she knew would be there since HE BRAGGED, IN MEETINGS, ABOUT THIS PERSON HE WAS HAVING EMAILS CONVERSATIONS WITH. People in those meetings talk and they talked to Donna. Stupid move D. The king got too big for the crown.

Donna wanted to save her job from this man and she did what she had a right to do. Now that is Karma.

The wrath of D hasn't even started yet. I can only imagine the conversations he and his friends are having about retaliation/lawsuits.

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 3 months ago

Donna Howell lacks integrity! This proves it. Do we want her leading our children? I sure don't. For those of you who have never dealt with her personally she is very devious and dishonest. I'm glad the entire community now can see in black and white what the real problem is in our district. I ask her to resign. Does anyone second the motion?

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Hammurabi 7 years, 3 months ago

I believe that that conversation is taking place above.

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sickofitall 7 years, 3 months ago

So if Gleason is in violation, so is the Pilot. Better call your attorneys again Scott. The Pilot will Publish any Rubish.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 3 months ago

sickofitall- I don't think the Pilot can be held to blame. It was news, no matter what, and Scott said he confirmed they were real emails of D's. D has admitted that. They are supposed to report the news and did so as they should. As was said before, this doesn't exonerate D in the email matter. It just brings to light the mini-Watergatonian (yeah- I just invented a word. So?) manner in which the emails were obtained. The earlier "Nixoned" comment was alluding to both sides.

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80488mom 7 years, 3 months ago

Just goes to show you mom and grandma were right....people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Age old wisdom still ringing true today.

I think this community could save themselves a lot of money that would be better spent on our kids and their education by stopping the recall effort, wiping the slate clean....and moving forward. This mess just has the potential to get nastier and nastier. How about a cease fire?

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bikegirl 7 years, 3 months ago

Well,can anyone spell MEGALOMANIA-????That's what we are dealing with.I'll let the lawyers hash it out .

Karma----Happy 4th of July

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SteamboatJoe 7 years, 3 months ago

yeah bikegirl, it rhymes with Narcissistic personality disorder......

Happy 4th to all

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HighlandClover 7 years, 3 months ago

Let it go. We are not going to drop the recall. We want another chance to vote--some of us never got the chance to begin with and are looking forward to the opportunity. Everyone who likes Dr. D can vote for him again. Those of us who don't, well, we won't vote for him.

People should get over being angry that it all happened in the first place and get over playing the blame game, stop pointing fingers and start dealing with it.

Rest assured, those of you who support Dr. D, he will retaliate. And, really, who cares? He behaved badly & got caught. And thats the gospel truth! ;)

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80488mom 7 years, 3 months ago

We don't have any shortage of people behaving badly......and.....now.....getting caught.

Everyone is human. Time to let it go and move on and get back to the business of educating our children.

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 3 months ago

Why now that the real story has come out and shed a less than flattering light on our leader do we now have to drop it?

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80488mom 7 years, 3 months ago

Stillinsteamboat: we don't ...but there are more important things at task......the children of this community deserve our full attention.

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sickofitall 7 years, 3 months ago

Hey, if thier published articles hurt others and are in violation of law, regarding released info. , they need to at least defend themselves.

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Diana Simon 7 years, 3 months ago

I think the comments of 80488mom on the right track. Changing the consciousness of this whole scene from negativity to that of a positive one is important. I also respect Lynette Lockhausen because of personal experience when my boys were in school and was influenced by her letter to the editor about Dr. D.

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exteacher 7 years, 3 months ago

YES!! I would like to be the 1st signature - and help in any way possible before I move out of town... Can she be recalled?? She wasn't "elected", but hired, right?? Who could fire her?

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 3 months ago

Whoa, whoa, whoa!! HighlandClover says:

"Let it go. We are not going to drop the recall. We want another chance to vote--some of us never got the chance to begin with and are looking forward to the opportunity."

Now comes out the real reasoning! I didn't get a chance to vote in 1976. I didn't get a chance to vote for or against Schwarzenegger. I didn't get a chance to vote for Bustos...then again, nobody did.

Great- so it has nothing to do with the emails or his position on the Board: it's because High on Clover never got the chance to vote so they want a do-over. Yep: that democracy at work.

For Puzzles: Howell and Gleason never told their story to the paper. Show me where. This investigation just changes what you thought was their story.

Gleason said he had access to those emails at that time. He didn't say he took them, though. It now comes out that Howell initiated the search on D's hard drive. Did Gleason order Howell to do so? Did Stephenson? Most likely Stephenson, since according to the timeline, she was the only person who knew of them besides Howell. According to the report, nobody ever "gave D a chance to change" as it's been put, since nobody ever told him they had the emails. I see a much different story when I read Gleason's fairy tale here:

If Gleason was the one who dropped off the emails, did he get them after meeting with Howell? If not, from Stephenson? Or did he get them himself, contrary to Howell's statement? Did they go in hand-in-hand like Jack & Jill to fetch a pile of emails? Which is it? Or have they come clean on this to only the people in SOS meetings?

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exteacher 7 years, 3 months ago

I agree 100% with stillinsteamboat above. dhowell is a crook, as well as a liar, and I strongly second your motion!! She is feared - and completely lacking respect from every teacher I've ever talked with about her. ....and I can tell all of you from personal experience that dhowell has as a matter of fact - told me one thing - and then turned around and said something entirely different to me - through public forums (meetings and emails) on more than one occassion, attempting to make her self look better to the public, saying what they want to hear being P.C. - at the expense of what was "right" and "honorable". I have witnessed her putting her ego and her selfish desires above and beyond the needs of students and teachers many times during my tenure here. Is this a person that DESERVES to lead our school district??? I say NO. I believe this SOS committee is recalling the WRONG person - If you really want to "save our schools" from corruption and wrongdoings - you must recall dhowell.... She is doing her best to destroy this school district from the inside out, and SHE is a BIG reason why we can not retain good teachers here. This political, ego-driven drama that is going on is taking away from the education and recognition of our students and teachers. dhowell's priority is how she LOOKS to the community - NOT our students, and certainly NOT the welfare of our teachers:.. and from my standpoint (and obviously many others'), she doesn't look too good right now. We need a new superintendent to start, and a whole new school board as well - start over with honest well-intentioned people who have some integrity. Stop this insanity or this school district will continue to suffer.

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80488mom 7 years, 3 months ago

I don't know what the answer is. I was confident, however, that the truth would prevail. I also firmly believe in the universal law of attraction. Negativity draws negativity and unless it is held at bay this whole situation is only going to get worse. It feeds off of itself. The good news is the same can be said for positive energy. I'm hoping that this entire situation will prove to be a learning experience and we will move forward on a positive note and graciously put the past behind...not to be forgotten.....but to be learned from.

I try to start each day repeating the 5 precepts for healthy living before I get out of bed...Today I will not be angry. Today I will not worry. Today I will be grateful. Today I will work hard. Today I will be kind to all living things. I've found this simple exercise has made me a better, happier person. That's why I try to emphasize forgiveness, understanding and compassion and would hope that this community chooses that path.

The big winners in any legal arena are always the lawyers. It won't be the schools and it won't be the children. That money can always be better spent in the classrooms or on teachers' salaries so that we can attract and keep well qualified teachers. People need to start thinking with their hearts and minds instead of their egos.

For the life of me I can't understand why the suggestion of turning the middle school into a second elementary school (an elementary school campus), the high school into a middle school and building a high school west of town wasn't acted upon. That would have saved mega bucks in the long run that could have also been put towards teachers' salaries. I read that the new principal was having a fruitless search for housing. That position has a very comfortable salary so I can only imagine the struggle someone has on a teacher's salary finding housing.

It's just that all this money spent on conflict resolution, investigations and possible lawsuits could do so much good elsewhere. For the greater good of the schools and our students I would ask this community to move forward on a positive foot.

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80488mom 7 years, 3 months ago

Mencken: I don't know if the paper printed a copy of the report but I found the link to the report on their website. I didn't have to go to any official office and request a copy. You are right, they could have done a better story but they didn't withhold the information as far as I can see or make it difficult to access.

I have been able to read a bit of bias but they aren't hiding the facts. And there is probably much more to the story that readers would like to hear and maybe those answers will show up later on.

I do feel a lot of sadness for Dr. D. He's been the subject of a community flogging and his reputation has been drug through the mud. I've said before he's a good man who made a mistake. A mistake which doesn't define his entire character. He's been an asset to this community and to our children. I hope he is able to recognize there are many among us who still have respect for him, still appreciate his contributions and would like to see him continue his work.

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kingsride 7 years, 3 months ago

Bring it! I think it may be time for a house cleaning.

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Mencken 7 years, 3 months ago

Wow, Steamboat Pilot, even for a small-town newspaper this is a shamefully incomplete (or willfully misleading) article. The only two relevant questions regarding the email-disclosure debacle are: (1) how were the emails released; and (2) what did they say. This paper has covered the second question ad nauseum, in multiple articles, but is turning an essentially blind eye to the second, presumably because the answer would undermine the paper's witch hunt of Dr. D.

With the release of this report, it was the paper's journalistic duty to attempt to answer the first question (how the emails were released) in order to give some true, balanced coverage to the story. The story (just like the report) should have described how people entered Dr. D.'s office, at night, and took his emails without his knowledge or any opportunity to explain. It should then have traced (just like the report)-to the best of the paper's ability-the route the emails took in getting to the paper (What did Stephenson know, and when did she know it?). Instead, out of either bias or incompetence, the Pilot has ignored this whole story, and instead reported the lame summary that the school board, "could have done a better job of protecting [the] confidential information."

Incompetence and half-reporting are to be expected in a small-town paper, but the paper owes a heightened duty of candor to a man when it's coverage of him has caused severe damage to his reputation. Either stay out of the witch-hunting game, or play it with some integrity.

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Scott Wedel 7 years, 3 months ago

It is entirely normal in the corporate world for IT staff to save all the files on a departed employee's computer. The company needs it in case the former employee files any sort of lawsuit against the company or if the company later decides to pursue criminal or civil lawsuits against the employee.

It is also not uncommon to review the files of a manager to learn at what level "management discretion" might obligate the company.

And in the case when Donna Howell learned of the inappropriate emails, she decided it was something the school board president show know about. Not an unreasonable decision because otherwise Donna could easily be accused of covering up for Dr D. And presumably the then School Board President Paula decided the emails were something to discuss with Pat Gleason and maybe other school board members to be sure that not taking any further action was acceptable.

For all the charges of unethical behavior, note that the emails were not released at that time or during the election and that there is no suggestion that Donna or Paula participated in the release of the emails to the newspaper.

Pat Gleason violated ethics standards when he gave the emails to the newspaper. He has said that he felt the current actions of Dr D on the school board made it was too important to keep the emails secret. Pat Gleason recognized he was violating school board policy and resigned from the school board.

I note the investigator's report seems very concerned with the details of Donna Howell's employment contract including details of school board debate regarding giving her a 4 year contract.

And yet all it says about current school board and Donna is "BOE-Superintendent relationship deteriorates". And what was the big issues there? That the School Board has the right to all dept files including a survey which participants had been told was confidential.

So this report says Donna Howell could have handled Dr D's personal info better while this school board has demanded that Donna Howell turn over info which she and the employees thought was confidential.

And the report is dishonest when it suggests that emails where given to SB Pilot (late March) and then on 3/23 Pat Gleason broke with the School Board regarding personnel discussion regarding Donna Howell. Timeline of the story and simple logic would suggest the events of 3/23 led to Gleason giving the emails to the newspaper.

Looks to me like this investigator acted like he was bought and paid for by the school board. Oh yeah, he was.

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Mencken 7 years, 3 months ago

80488Mom-You're right, the paper has made a copy of the report available on the website, but that's not the same as reporting on the report in a fair and balanced manner since many people will not read the report. (By contrast, the paper made a point of covering Dr. D.'s emails to death-providing a PDF of the emails, and also reprinting the juiciest portions of the emails in the body of articles, multiple times). The report (and the comments above), make clear that there was some highly ethically questionable actions undertaken by the people who recovered the emails (e.g., going into Dr. D.'s office at night, claiming that they were looking for information that was held somewhere else, not telling Dr. D.) and by the people who disseminated the information (e.g., not protecting copies, not keeping copies in Dr. D.'s file, passing the emails on to the paper). This should certainly have been investigated and reported in the main article because the entire recall debate is premised upon a balancing of equities between Dr. D. and his detractors-the question of who was in the "right or wrong" is highly relevant to this whole debate, and the paper had a duty to report on it fairly.

I agree with your assessment of Dr. D.-I went through the Steamboat school system, and had nothing but good experiences with Dr. D. as a student; it was shocking and painful to see the paper attacking his reputation after all he's done for students, especially since we've all said things in emails (or even blog comments) that may not show us at our best. A little humility should be expected from those who cast stones.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 3 months ago

Wedel- You make suppositions as to all you state, when Paula Stephenson is quoted as saying it didn't concern her. That was a lie. It was noted as saying Howell asked for the copy Stephenson had back and never received it. Again, this concerned Stephenson, and she lied saying it didn't. You say "presume" a lot, but all I needed to dispute that was one quote from Stephenson. So, which is it?

Plus, Gleason original statment, still found on this site gave a conflicting story and timeline. He never mentioned that Stephenson had given him the emails; he just said he had access to them at that particular time. Was he trying to save someone's butt? Looks to me as if the investigator uncovered a politically motivated revenge ploy. Oh yeah- he did!

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exteacher 7 years, 3 months ago

....All well and good information and thoughts..... However, I think the bottom line is : there are people in positions of power in this school district, who have shown through their actions and lies that they do not deserve these positions, simply because they do not have their priorities straight. They have done harm to teachers, students, parents, and others in this community, who are trying to not only provide the best education we are capable of, but eek out a living in this town as well. I do not think the current school board and superintendent, (and I would add the HS asst principal (especially) and HS principal to that list as well), have the students and teachers best interests at heart. Why?? Because they are so bogged down in their own preservation and EGOS and power struggles. In my opinion, the best thing this district could do is to make Dr. D the new superintendent, and let him select his new school board!! ......I'm serious.... I think he has more honor and integrity than the rest of them put together. ....and by the way, the things he stated in his emails, however crude, were pretty accurate.....I think most would agree.......no???

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Mencken 7 years, 3 months ago

Actually, I just re-read the report, and maybe it makes sense that the Pilot isn't completely reporting on it. According to the report, in November of 2005, a Colorado Appeals Court held that information of the sort in Dr. D's emails-i.e., ostensibly private emails written from a public computer, but not relating to public business or expenditures-are considered "private" emails and not "public." Thus, although Howell's recovery of the emails before November of 2005 might have been technically "legal" at the time they were made (although still made in a highly ethically questionable manner), disclosure of the emails after that point in time were potentially illegal-and that includes publication by the Pilot, and dissemination by anyone else after November of 2005. As is well known to First Amendment buffs, First Amendment protections of the press only apply to matters of "legitimate public interest," and it's at least highly questionable whether the Pilot's publishing of Dr. D.'s "private" thoughts on myriad issues (not just the superintendent) were matters of "legitimate public interest." I wouldn't report on this story, either, if I were the Pilot and only now realizing how my rash decision to publish someone's "private" emails could come back to me in a whirlwind.

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80488mom 7 years, 3 months ago

Mencken: I'm sure there are more than a few "nervous" people in Steamboat right about now. I hope now that the report has been issued Dr. D can breathe a sigh of relief and feel vindicated in some ways.

Anyone can run for the school board....a butcher, a baker a candlestick maker....Dr. D has the experience, dedication and background to continue to make a positive difference in our community. Education has been his life. We can trust he knows what he is doing even if on the surface we don't understand it.

I will always remember running in to him now and then and how grounded and simple he was. He might have not had the time but he made the time to discuss the joy of learning, instilling passions in children......bits and pieces from his life that shaped who he was and who he became....a telescope as a gift when he was a child.....theories on raising children in trying times.....yes....he's a good man with good intentions.....and I wish him well.

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exteacher 7 years, 3 months ago

.....speaking of recalling dhowell now - I would be willing to stand up and support that at a BOE meeting - I have nothing to lose (or fear) from her now that I'm an EX - teacher!!

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blahblah 7 years, 3 months ago

John Devincentis is probably the most scrutinized individual this community has ever seen. He has endured a hateful campaign waged through the pages and blogs of the Pilot/Today. He is certainly no saint, but today we have a much clearer understanding of the behavior of some of those who have held themselves up as saviors of our schools. Now Gleason, Stephenson, and others are in for a dose of a public humiliation similar to that which they helped orchestrate toward Devincentis. Perhaps they thought that the truth would stay hidden, but it rarely does. I imagine we haven't yet heard the full story. My hunch is should DeVincentis pursue a civil suit against those involved in the illegal release of his emails, we'll learn lots more. Those involved as well as the Pilot should be held accountable for the roles they played in humiliating DeVincentis over the course of four months. The sneakiness and animosity that has been stirred are disheartening aspects of this story. The shining light though is that the staffs at each school have maintained their dedication to teaching. They have the best interests of the students of this community in their hearts and minds. Many have outlasted numerous boards and superintendents and will continue to do their best work in spite of the distractions that surround them. For that, we can all be grateful.

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exteacher 7 years, 3 months ago

Amen..... I wish I could have outlasted - and my hope is that the programs that really matter to MANY people DO survive this corrupt and despicable administration.

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 3 months ago

I know DH was hired not elected. It was a tongue n cheek remark. She still needs to go!!!!!

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bikegirl 7 years, 3 months ago

80488-maybe you could give Dr.D some of Ghandi's teachings such as Conflict Resolution and Ghandian Ethics By Thomas Weber,or perhaps the Role Of Academics in Conflict Resolution by M.William Bhaskaran.

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Mencken 7 years, 3 months ago

80488mom: Regarding "nervous" people in Steamboat and lawsuits, I bet Dr. D. could sue the Pilot, Gleason, and whoever gave Gleason the emails for invasion of privacy. His reputation has been damaged, and the people who disclosed his emails have no good defense since the emails-as acknowledged in the report-were "private" and not a "public record;" newspapers can't just publish "private" facts about people, even if those facts are true, unless those facts constitute a matter of "legitimate public interest." (Some of the facts in the 54-pages of disclosed emails may have constituted matters of "legitimate public interest," but I have a hard time believing that all 54-pages did, and that the Pilot wasn't acting irresponsibly by not editing the emails down to their arguably legitimate portions before publishing them wholesale). I don't condone everything Dr. D. said, or the manner in which he said it, but that's an entirely different question than whether the Pilot acted properly in the way it reported the story. The Pilot should be held accountable for its actions since it may otherwise ruin other people's reputations if it never learns or acknowledges the limits of permissible reporting. At a minimum, the Pilot should reevaluate its potential bias, apologize for any mistakes, and start acting more responsibly.

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jaunty 7 years, 3 months ago

After Donna Howell directed "tech staff to download all information from DeVincentis' computer," and "staff reluctantly agreed to enter principal's office after hours to download emails/documents from hard drive," what happened to that staff person?

She was not rehired by Donna Howell.

Coincidence? I think not.

Maybe it is time to "cut" Donna Howell loose. Of course, we would have to pay her the 2 years' salary that Paula Stephenson, Pat Gleason, Tami Havener and Mike Loomis so generously gave her. But it sounds like we already have the $600,000 set aside.

That is more than half a million dollars that we will not have to pay teachers and provide materials for students. Thanks, Paula, Pat, Tami, and Mike. Way to Save our Schools!

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80488mom 7 years, 3 months ago

I would like to say it has done my heart good to hear all the reasonable and logical commentary here today. I had gotten so completely disgusted with the Dr. D bashing and was praying for the voice reason and the real truth revealed.

Thank you all......

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mom 7 years, 3 months ago

I think John is a great board member and would also be a great super for the district. Time for the old board to move on and let the new board do their thing. The smear campaign against John was bad and hurtfull to his friends, family, and students. I am glad John stood strong (as he always does) and I wish him the best.

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Mencken 7 years, 3 months ago

The more I think about it, the more I believe that the Pilot's story affirmatively misleads the reader regarding what the school board report concluded.

First, contrary to the Pilot's assertion, the report did not conclude that, "Superintendent Donna Howell acted appropriately in gathering the e-mails and sharing them with former School Board President Paula Stephenson." Instead, the report states that, "Dr. Howell had a right to access the DeVincentis computer, since it was a school district computer and Dr. DeVincentis did not have a right of privacy in June 2005. It was appropriate for Dr. Howell to share the email information with Mrs. Stephenson, the school board president." This is very different. Even if Dr. Howell had a "right" to access Dr. D.'s computer in June 2005 (since it wasn't technically illegal until the court's decision in November of 2005), this doesn't mean that her actions were "appropriate," and the report does not so conclude. On the contrary, the report implicitly calls into question Dr. Howell's motives, showing that some of her stated rationales for accessing Dr. D.'s hard drive were called into question by other witnesses.

Second, the Pilot glosses over the most important issue in the report-namely, whether anyone acted illegally in the dissemination of the emails. The story states that, "Howell could have done a better job of protecting such confidential information," but ignores the report's implicit suggestion that any dissemination of the e-mails after November of 2005 may have been illegal!

Third, the story states that, "John DeVincentis violated school policies by sending and receiving personal e-mails," but it ignores the report's equally important observation that the school board's "[p]rohibition against personal use [was] not enforced."

Here is how an accurate lead to the article should have read:

"The Steamboat Springs School Board on Tuesday released a five-page report on its internal investigation into the DeVincentis e-mails. Grand Junction attorney Earl Rhodes conducted the investigation.

The report concluded Superintendent Donna Howell had a legal right to access and share DeVincentis's e-mails with Paula Stephenson in the summer of 2005, but that later dissemination of those e-mails may have violated DeVincentis's right of privacy under a court case decided in November of 2005. While acting under legal right, Dr. Howell apparently accessed DeVincentis's hard drive after hours, with the reluctant participation of the school tech staff. Some of Dr. Howell's stated rationales for accessing Dr. D.'s hard drive were called into question by other witnesses.

The report also concluded that John DeVincentis violated school policies by sending and receiving personal e-mails on his school computer in 2004 and 2005, but observed that these policies were not enforced. Pat Gleason violated school policies by publicly releasing those e-mails."

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beagle 7 years, 3 months ago

Lots of great postings today. the previous 'karma' theme was timely, no? Mencken, that's a great rewritten lead-in to the story. That "acted appropriately" line was definitely bogus. Ex-teacher, interesting points; personally I do think the current board members are honest well-intentioned people. Matthew, you're on a roll! Loved that old quote you pulled up from Stephenson "this has nothing to do with me" and your High on Clover comment. also the response to Wedel. Just had to compliment everyone - nice to see that when something really crooked goes down, people will come out of the woodwork to stand up against it. also, I heard the transcripts of the investigation interviews are public info too and will soon be out.

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80488mom 7 years, 3 months ago

As we move forth please remember the inspirational words of Ghandi: An eye for an eye is a terrible way to blind the earth.

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SteamboatJoe 7 years, 3 months ago

bikegirl, you have a great sense of humor! Don't forget a nice basic, Leadership 101: What Every Leader Needs To Know by John Maxwell

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 3 months ago

Wonder if a certain ex-BOE pres read any ethics books herself for keeping copies of School property for almost 2 years since she left office that a Superintendent asked to have back after a legal decision in Arapahoe County said those would be considered private?

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bikegirl 7 years, 3 months ago

Check out the newest term relating to the recall petition,on page 11 of today's Today-Recall Remorse.Hmmm-don' t The Citizens For Fair Politics have faith that the voters will vote THEIR way in November?A little subtle bulllying?

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Hammurabi 7 years, 3 months ago

Is this even legal? If the petition signing date has passed and closed, if you can take your name off, can you also add your name if you didn't get a chance to sign and still wanted to?

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 3 months ago

Hamm said: "Is this even legal? If the petition signing date has passed and closed, if you can take your name off, can you also add your name if you didn't get a chance to sign and still wanted to?"

Isn't that what HighlandClover wanted- a chance to vote since he/she didn't get to before? That's at least what his/her post said. I think people on both sides don't care about legality any longer. Maybe we'll have a porn star run for office like when Gray Davis was recalled. At least we'll know the back history up front...pun intended.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 3 months ago

bikegirl- Was it bullying that made Gleason take the emails from Paula Stephenson, whom the report noted had a copy- not Gleason, and gave a mea culpa account for saying "I'm the source?" Did Stephenson bully Howell into taking the the initiative to get those emails after hours? Who's bullying whom?

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David Wilson 7 years, 3 months ago

From CRS 1-12-108:

"Any signer may request that his or her name be stricken from the petition at any time within the sixty-day period prior to the date the petition is deemed sufficient and the time for protest has passed by filing a written request that his or her signature be stricken with the designated election official and delivering a copy of such request to at least one member of the committee. If such request is delivered to the member of the committee or the election official through the United States mails, it shall be deemed delivered to the committee or the election official on the date shown by the cancellation mark on the envelope containing the request received by the member or the election official. If the request is delivered to the member of the committee or the election official in any other manner, it shall be deemed delivered to the committee or the election official on the date of delivery and stamped receipt by the election official."

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bikegirl 7 years, 3 months ago

No ,I think Pat Gleason did what he believed was the right thing to do,after months of dealing with John D.As for Donna I don't knowI wasn't there.

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titsikama 7 years, 3 months ago

Well, actually it is legal. We checked . And why suddenly are so many concerned about legality? The information about the potential legality and ethical release of the e-mails, and some of the leaders of SOS is in this public document . It was printed on day when many people were out of town (no fault of the paper). We want to make sure they aware of it, and if it did change their minds about the recall they had an option if they wanted to make the effort. Its not like we are standing on the corner with Neon signs or driving people to the courthouse. How is this "bullying"?

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titsikama 7 years, 3 months ago

bikegirl-Actually for many of us this has nothing to do with whether or not we think people will vote for John, that would be an entirely new and seperate group. This is a statement about a recall that was unethical, possibly illegal and had untruths in its wording. We are just trying to remind people about this, so in the future if people want to run a recall campaign it is done with integrity, honesty and with appropriate knowledge given to the public.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 3 months ago

Okay bikegirl- According to the timeline, Gleason was not given the emails at that time; Stephenson was. No other board member was given this from Stephenson. Stephenson didn't return her copy, so either she gave it Gleason instead of taking it herself (nice how that allowed her to say that it didn't have anything to do with her) when it should have been destroyed/returned long before, then they would have had to resubmit.

So you think Gleason left Stephenson's name out of the picture why? You are talking for Gleason when he hasn't even come clean on his full involvement. Of course, it's hard to see that with blinders on.

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bikegirl 7 years, 3 months ago

to address the bullying comment I made- actually bullying is a very complex issue,there are many forms of bullying,for instance a person with say,narcissistic personality disorder would use different tactics to bully ,than someone who chooses to be physically violent,so-simply put- Bullying is a means of gaining control and power over someone else.There are many resources available to help you understand the complexities of bullying,such as the library, internet,and our elementary schools both implement an Anti-Bullying program,so the school counselors could delve deeper for you.Now- no I don't have blinders on. my eyes have been wide open for many years to the problems in our district I guess the difference is, Pat stepped down from the board when he knew what was coming and John will fight it till the end,no matter what the cost.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 3 months ago

Wow! So it's wrong to fight for what you believe in? Is that what you are saying? That doesn't explain Gleason lying about his timeline in his statement or leaving Howell's & Stephenson's names out from their involvement. I find it astoundingly naive to think maybe he just forgot the 2 main people behind finding the emails, considering Stephenson hanging on to them for almost 2 years after leaving office. You still are okay with a public official taking stuff like that home for that long a time after vacating office? If you are okay with that, then yes: you have blinders still on.

And yes, bullying takes many forms, but I think you are really reaching on it, unless you admit it could have happened on Stephenson's, Gleason's, or Howell's ends.

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linus 7 years, 3 months ago

Actually, bikegirl, it's not a very complex concept: providing information to people is not bullying.
However, according to the definitions of bullying which you've so graciously directed us to, you might have to consider yourself a bully. People who repeatedly insult someone even when the discussion is about something else may even have an obsessive personality disorder or perhaps the dreaded OHJ (Obsessed with Hating John) syndrome. For example, I say, "I'm glad they hired a new principal." And you say, "Devincentis is sick but Gleason is noble."

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bikegirl 7 years, 3 months ago

As I said ,the problems within the district are deep.I don't know why they sat on the E-mails.I'm sure there is alot that the public may never know.----linus -I Do not hate John .I have not bullied him,actually if you will remember, John's angry and hate filled tirades are the reason for all this discussion.I simply think he is not a healthy school board member-our community has showed that we want a recall put on the ballot.I defend the recall and I will vote because that is my right -you can vote against it-that is your right.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 3 months ago

Right, bikegirl, but by defending the recall, you are defending 2 of the main proponents behind it, and it looks like their motives aren't so pure any longer. So you are saying it's okay that 2 of the main proponents lied and plotted from the current evidence, to do the exact same thing as D did: try to ruin a person whether deserved or not based on individual perception.

To simplify: you are standing behind 2 people doing the exact same thing as what you are recalling D for.

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bikegirl 7 years, 3 months ago

Yes,I see your point,I do defend the recall.I don't defend anyone-Gleason no longer is on the board so he can't be recalled,neither can Stephenson.Are they all dishonest?Probably-Can we open a new investigation to investigate the investigation?I don't know,what I do know is that John's misconducts are being called out,will more follow? do people want to recall Donna?More power to the laywers.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for the reply, bikegirl. This is what I'm saying: the investigation shows a bigger problem than just John. Since the problem involves 2 people spearheading the recall for him, I personally can't support it.

This is the point a lot of recall proponents don't care about. All they care is the "Gotcha" for D. They don't care about the lack of ethics of the people behind the recall.

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 3 months ago

Donna Howell said to a friend of mine "our district is zero tolerence for drugs and alcohol but not for bullying." Just one of the many lies she tells when confronted with a difference of opinion. Most of us teach our children not to lie or be sneaky. She doesn't subscribe to this most basic principle.

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bikegirl 7 years, 3 months ago

kielbasa-a lack of ethics and integrity runs rampant .Alot of folks don't want to acknowledge that the business of education is just that,administratively,it is a business.There are good guys and bad guys.There are greed and power seekers just like there are in any corporate environments,there are also honest, and good people who genuinely care about educating our children.

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bikegirl 7 years, 3 months ago

kielbasa-I still defend the recall.I believe John D.is one of the people that needs to go.That said ,we will have to wait untill election day to see how it all goes.

stay human

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