Howell to meet with School Board next week for evaluation

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Release of transcripts

The Steamboat Springs School Board says it will release transcripts of most of the interviews conducted by Grand Junction attorney Earl Rhodes, who led the investigation into the release of controversial e-mails by board member John DeVincentis.

The 120-page document will be available online Monday at the district's Web site, www.sssd.k12.co.us. Board member Jeff Troeger said Thursday the delay in providing the transcripts to the public was because of their size.

School Board President Denise Connelly said the board also had to ensure no confidentiality was compromised by the release of the transcripts.

"We want to make sure that everything we are allowed to release is available to the public," she said. "We contacted our attorney to see what are open records and what are not, and what we found was that the transcripts of interviews are open records."

Included in the transcripts are interviews of Superintendent Donna Howell. Rhodes said in a five-page report released Tuesday that the superintendent could have done more to prevent the release of the e-mails.

The transcripts will present Howell's explanation as to why she ordered staff to access DeVincentis' computer while he was still principal at Strawberry Park Elementary School.

— Superintendent Donna Howell is up for a performance review by the Steamboat Springs School Board just days after the release of a board report that affirms its deteriorating relationship with her.

The investigation report, released Tuesday by the School Board, stated that Howell could have done more to prevent the public release of e-mails sent by School Board member John DeVincentis while he was principal at Strawberry Park Elementary School. However, the report also states that Howell had a right to access DeVincentis' computer and that it was appropriate for her to share the e-mails with Paula Stephenson, who was president of the School Board at that time.

The School Board members met Thursday in executive, or secret, session to discuss Howell and fill out their evaluations. School Board President Denise Connelly said the board plans to meet with Howell next week in executive session after the superintendent returns from vacation.

"This is a standard six-month review," she said. "We filled everything out individually and we then pooled our responses. The next step is to meet with her to present our evaluations."

Howell has two years remaining on her four-year contract.

According to the e-mail investigation conducted by Grand Junction attorney Earl Rhodes, the relationship between the School Board and Howell began to deteriorate in the winter of 2006.

The School Board met in executive session numerous times between the winter of 2006 and this spring to discuss Howell. On March 20, the School Board and Howell met with a facilitator from the Colorado Association of School Boards to attempt to resolve their differences. Two weeks later, Connelly said that Howell's future with the district was not secure.

The release of the e-mails led to a recall petition to oust DeVincentis from his School Board seat. The group behind the campaign submitted more than 2,300 signatures to the Routt County Clerk and Recorder's Office on Monday.

Sherry Wofford, Routt County's chief deputy clerk, said people who signed the petition but now want to retract their names can do so at the Clerk and Recorder's Office.

"You just have to come in, show ID, and put it in wording that you want your name off the petition," said Wofford, who noted signatures can't be retracted once a state of proficiency is given to the petition. "We should have all the names checked by late next week."

Comments

stillinsteamboat 7 years, 5 months ago

How professional is it to sneak into someone's office Watergate style and STEAL. Legal or not.

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sbs123 7 years, 5 months ago

I cannot believe that the BOE is blaming Dr. Howell for this mess. DeVincentis and his crew have twisted the truth and expect people to actually believe them. It is assinine. Dr. Howell is a remarkable superintendent and we have been lucky to have her. She has handled this whole situation with grace and professionalism. I wouldn't blame her if she just told the BOE to take a hike. It would our loss if she left.

DeVincentis ,on the other hand, won't do the right thing and resign. He will fight to the bitter end. Give it up, John. Do what's right for the kids and the district. Quit being so selfish and stubborn.

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 5 months ago

sbs123: I wonder how many parents that have dealt with Donna Howell feel. I don't think they would agree with you.

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bikegirl 7 years, 5 months ago

To sbs123 and stmbtjoe-I agree with you-Unfortunatey,there are people who will use this opportunity to take the focus off of John and place blame on Donna,and you know John will not quit causing conflict.TO stillinsteamboat-Iam a parent and an educator-I like and respect Donna.I think she is genuine,kind and intelligent.

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Matthew7_1_5 7 years, 5 months ago

cyborg...These names keep coming up in conversations about D. Some of them are directly connected, I know, but how are the others? Remember they who exalt themselves shall be humbled. I pray for them and others who have also "transgressed." sbs123, steamboatjoe, and bikergirl, cast no stones.

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 5 months ago

John wrote some emails and owned up to his mistake. DONNA LIED. I have personally witnessed her in the act. Plain and simple. How can you blindly support a leader who is so dishonest. John has heart for the kids,Donna is just a CEO with no real compassion for kids or her employees.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 5 months ago

stillinsteamboat- Be fair: D lied about Simms to Mercer to get them to accept her. He admitted that in an email. No matter how the emails came out, he still wrote them. It doesn't matter if he thought they were confidential or not: he still wrote them. The tone of the emails, while most of us do that every day (a lot of us right here on this forum), still aren't acceptable.

Both sides should stop pointing fingers at each other and look at the bigger problem from past and present Board members and Supers. Nobody's hands are clean on this. The sooner a majority figure that out, the sooner we can work to correct it. That doesn't mean I support the recall or D. I'm content to let both D and Howell finish their term and give time for real candidates to come forward to run. Let's hear new ideas from new people on how to keep this crap from happening again.

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 5 months ago

Matt,I appreciate your opinion however I feel I am being fair.This woman caused my family and especially my child a great amount of pain. I know of what I speak.

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 5 months ago

Cindy Simms was no saint either, I remember her well.

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SteamboatJoe 7 years, 5 months ago

For John,let the voters decide in November and for Donna, happy trails as the new board has been plotting this since the days they started. The real disservice to our kids will be another superintendent search and more of the same from John D. Everyone has a passion on one side or the other and I understand that. Unfortunately, the answer is not in either camp.

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linus 7 years, 5 months ago

Matt - the reason this board conducted an investigation was to "keep this crap from happening again." Policies were broken and this board didn't want to just let it go. I'm not getting how you think the current board members (other than John D. who admitted his mistake and apologized) do not have "clean hands." Arguments like those of sbs123 have become so repetitve and lame: trash John, trash John, trash John, and we only care about the "truth" that works for our side. Now that some other truths have come out, it's just that "DeVincentis and his crew have twisted the truth and expect people to actually believe them." Why even bother to post this stuff? You just look so foolish. It is really disappointing what Howell did but so far I haven't heard the board calling for her head. Maybe everyone will finish out their terms??? Maybe not. In any case, the next board meeting is Wed. the 11th, public comment at 6:30.

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 5 months ago

EXTEACHER: are you still in for the BOE meeting Wednesday. We need to voice our opinion.

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steamboatsconscience 7 years, 5 months ago

One thing that seems to be forgotten here is that Stephenson is the only one who had the e mails and is really the culpable one here. For all we know she may have only told Gleason recently about them, and he decided to to be the fall guy because she didnt have the conjones to do it herself.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 5 months ago

Linus- The rest of the current board IS conducting a review of Howell. We'll see where that goes. The current board, thru their own investigation, revealed that D broke with policy and the current Board has done nothing to admonish D for his emails except to say they were not proper... a tongue lashing, at best so far.

Yes, D admitted he sent the emails from the school computer, breaking an unenforced policy. He also admits to lying to Mercer County to expedite breaking ties with Simms, then renews his efforts to hound her thru being contacted by the other teacher. The current board still has not admonished him. I don't care what anyone thinks of him from either side: while I'm not shocked by the emails, they aren't the type of emails that give me faith in someone's motives. I know he's done good for the kids, but in any business, even the best worker gets canned if that worker can't play nice with everyone else.

I don't think it's worthy of a recall, and Howell will just get a nice severence package up to $600,000 if fired. I could think of a better way to spend that money, personally. This investigation has opened up that past Board members did some equally dispicable acts in order to bring this recall about. With all this info coming about, what makes you think the current Board has nothing to hide at this time? A lot of executive sessions this last year gives me the same impression as the last Board. I'll trust people more when they don't hide behind doors...or fake names.

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linus 7 years, 5 months ago

Matt, thanks for clarifying. I agree with part of what you say. When I said this board has not asked for Howell's head, I didn't mean that I think they should. I think I'd rather see everyone try to 'get along' for two more years. As far as the executive sessions, I think it's important to remember that the board has legal requirements on both sides: they are required to go into exec session to discuss personnel matters which should not be public. (rules that are posted somewhere on the school district site) They're also required by the open meetings rule to have most things public. The exec sessions you're referring to did involve personnel matters, as I recall.
Re the board doing more to admonish D. - well, they said they disapproved of the e-mails and D. apologized. How else could they admonish him other than asking him to resign? Maybe there would have been something else to do, I don't know. Just wondering. It's cool that you use your name. For whatever reason, I bet this forum wouldn't flow as well or have as much info if everyone did. I will tell you I'm a parent and I'm not on the board or even good friends with anyone on the board!

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 5 months ago

Nice to hear, Linus. Thanks for all that.

With D, there still has to be some repercussion from this. For all we know (though I doubt it at this point), he could still be emailing crap from home now, where we can't check.

I would be happy with a written statement saying he will continue to fill out the term and sign maybe a notorized statement (something that can be waved in his face should he reneg- give the voters something to see before election) saying he will not run again when his term is up. No matter all the past good, he is still too much a polarizing figure, keeping attention away from the stuff that really needs to be done. While not democratic, it would increase my respect for the process.

For Howell, the current board should spend Howell's final year looking for a good replacement, without input from D. This would at least keep damage control going saying he had nothing to do with hiring a new Super, since he shouldn't be re-elected.

Unfortunately, the only ones that can't get their come-uppance are Stephenson and Gleason since they no longer occupy public office. Something still needs to be done to make sure their part in all this doesn't go "unrewarded." I'm just not sure what can be done. I'm sure a good lawyer could at least find something that could link Stephenson keeping the emails after being told to return them after the Arapahoe County decision as worthy of a hearing.

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 5 months ago

didn't I hear somewhere that Paula holds a seat at the state level on a board involving education?

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mom 7 years, 5 months ago

she was pres of the OLD BOE but I am not aware of anything current

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