School District releases investigation transcripts

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The DeVincentis e-mails

Recall election could come early

A recall of Steamboat Springs School Board member John DeVincentis could go before voters in September.

Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland confirmed Monday that, because of election regulations and potential timetables, Colorado statutes could require a recall election in September, rather than in November's coordinated election as originally planned.

"We're probably going to have an election in September, if the (recall) petition is found to be sufficient," Weinland said. "We're checking petition signatures feverishly."

On July 2, a committee known as Save Our Schools RE-2 submitted more than 2,300 signatures to Weinland, in an effort to place a recall of DeVincentis on the ballot. The committee needs 1,933 valid signatures to force a vote.

Weinland's office has 10 working days to verify the signatures. With the July 4 holiday, July 17 is the deadline for verification. Should enough signatures be valid, there is a protest period of 15 calendar days. That period would end Aug. 1. If no eligible voters protest the petition, Colorado statutes require that a recall election must occur between 30 and 60 days after the protest period ends.

A recall vote also can occur in a coordinated election, however, if that election is within 90 days after the protest period. Ninety days after Aug. 1 is November 1 - several days short of this year's Nov. 6 Election Day.

Weinland said if the variables fall into place and a recall election is required in September, absentee voting would be allowed, but there would be no early voting and fewer polling locations.

"We would do it as inexpensively as we possibly could for the school district I've never done a recall election," Weinland said.

A September ballot would contain only two questions - whether to recall DeVincentis, and if so, which candidate should replace him on the School Board.

— The Steamboat Springs School Board on Monday released transcripts of the interviews conducted in the investigation into controversial e-mails by former board member John DeVincentis.

The 157-page document is available online at Steamboatpilot.com or at the district's Web site, www.sssd.k12.co.us. Board President Denise Connelly and board member Jeff Troeger said Monday the purpose of releasing the transcripts is to make sure the public has access to all information related to the investigation.

"There was a delay in getting some of the information out there because of the Fourth of July holiday and we wanted to make sure we were not violating anyone's confidentiality," Troeger said.

The document includes interview transcripts from Superintendent Donna Howell, Assistant to the Superintendent Ann Muhme, DeVincentis, Director of Finance and Operations Dale Mellor, Director of Technology Tim Miles and former Technology Director Cathleen Nardi.

Grand Junction attorney Earl Rhodes, was hired to conduct the investigation. The release of the transcripts follows the July 3 release of a five-page investigation report.

School District Attorney Dick Lyons, Connelly and Troeger provided statements to Rhodes, which are included in the transcripts document.

"To understand the e-mail controversy, I think it's important to explain what was going on behind the scenes," Troeger said in his statement.

Connelly also tried to provide background and context to the controversy with her statement to Rhodes.

Howell is on vacation in Canada, but said by phone Monday night that she has not had a chance to read the transcripts and she was unaware the interviews would be posted online.

"I have access to e-mail, but I'm going to wait until I can print it out to read it," she said. "I'll review it and if a comment is warranted I'll have something to say."

Howell previously said that she has put the e-mail controversy behind her and she is looking forward to focusing on new projects in the district.

The board is scheduled to meet with Howell in executive or secret session on Wednesday. Connelly said the board will issue a public statement following the session.

The School Board last week released Rhodes' investigation report that stated Howell could have done more to prevent the public release of e-mails sent by DeVincentis while he was principal at Strawberry Park Elementary. However, the report also states that Howell had the right to access DeVincentis' computer.

Rhodes also found that DeVincentis violated school policies by sending and receiving personal e-mails on his work computer and that he did not have a right of privacy when the e-mails were retrieved. He also found that Gleason violated school policies by giving the e-mails to the newspaper.

The release of the e-mails led to a recall petition to oust DeVincentis from his School Board seat. Former School Board president Paula Stephenson and board member Pat Gleason are leaders in the recall petition campaign waged by a group calling itself the Save Our Schools RE-2.

Both Stephenson and Gleason, who had left the board prior to the investigation, were asked to be interviewed by Rhodes. They both refused.

Comments

mom 7 years, 1 month ago

Its not too late to take your name off the list!

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Scott Stanford 7 years, 1 month ago

All:

A couple of points about the transcripts as they relate to my wife and to me are addressed in my Blog:

http://www2.steamboatpilot.com/weblogs/from-the-editor/

Scott Stanford Editor, Steamboat Pilot & Today (970) 871-4221/(970) 291-9278 editor@teamboatpilot.com

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 1 month ago

Why would you refuse to cooperate with an investigation if 1. You had nothing to hide. 2.What you did was honorable and selfless. How will I explain this level of deception and corruption in the school district to my children?

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Mencken 7 years, 1 month ago

These transcripts are absolutely extraordinary. Mr. Stanford (and to a much-lesser extent, Mrs. Standford) are integral parts of the story, and helped create the news, rather than report it. Dr. Howell had no good reason for accessing Dr. D.'s computer, and her interview recounts as much--her stumbling attempts to explain why she accessed the computer would be comical if they didn't relate to such an egregious ethical violation. The only shame is that there is no unbiased news outlet to condense and report on these transcripts; as the creators of this story, and now the potential defendants in future lawsuits, the Stanfords have no incentive to report this story fairly and inform the public. (Similarly, the poor reporters at the Pilot have to toe the company line, and sell their journalistic souls, to avoid getting fired. Didn't they teach you about this stuff in journalism school, Mr. Stanford?) The publisher of Pilot should fire Mr. Stanford, but probably won't because his slash-and-burn approach likely increases readership even as it hastens the decline of the fourth estate.

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Mencken 7 years, 1 month ago

I wonder if this nugget (page 7, from the Connelly interview) will make it into the Pilot's eventual story on the transcripts:

"Scott Stanford calls and asks if I have any comments about Gleason's letter threatening me with recall if I do not come out publicly asking for the resignation."

True or not, how can the Pilot possibly be expected to report fairly on this issue, or have its purportedly unbiased reporting be believed?

Here's another nugget (page 5, Connelly interview):

"Kelly Stanford, Curriculum and Instruction Director, submits a letter of resignation denigrating the Board and elevating the Superintendent. This letter, contrary to traditional district procedure, is sent to all district staff via email."

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Matthew7_1_5 7 years, 1 month ago

Contrition and penitence are good for all of us. The truth will set you free. It is time to take a deep breath and to choose the right path. Everyone benefits from forgiveness. I suggest it starts with all of us who have thrown stones.

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Mencken 7 years, 1 month ago

Addendum: Mr. Stanford's blog, in which he discusses some errors in the report as they relate to both himself and his wife, does not correct the statement above! Amazing. So, we have an editor of the paper who calls school board members and threatens them with recall if they don't support his own views! Extraordinary! What has this paper come to?

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blahblah 7 years, 1 month ago

Mencken, I appreciate your posts, but I think you misinterpreted the quote about resignation. It was Gleason, not Stanford, who threatened Connelly with recall if she didn't ask for DeVincentis' resignation.

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Mencken 7 years, 1 month ago

Oh, blahblah, I guess you're right--I don't know how I missed that. Sorry. I'd delete my last comment, but don't know how to. In any event, it's still apparent to me that Mr. Stanford has an strong bias in reporting this story, but luckily he's not using over-the-top strong arm tactics. Sorry for the misinterpretation.

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titsikama 7 years, 1 month ago

I wonder how many who signed the petition were told that there would be "no special election" that would cause the school more money and further disrupt our community. I believe we were told that in the paper. I would like to think this was an honest mistake, but I can't. The public deception gets thicker by the day.

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JQPUBLIC 7 years, 1 month ago

I love the way people can take the written word and alter it to express what they want to believe.... Scott didn't threaten a recall, he asked if there were comments about Gleason's letter that threatened a recall.

Mencken....You ask, What has this paper come to?... I guess whatever you want to read into it, whatever supports your own views.

Scott, the Dr. D fanatics will find fault in anything you or your wife has to say relating to the school board... you know, kill the messenger.

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Mencken 7 years, 1 month ago

You're right, JQPUBLIC, and I've already acknowledged my errant reading of that quotation. Interestingly, however, even my mistake proves my larger point; people will read and interpret documents in a manner consistent with their predispositions and beliefs, which is why the paper is incapable of reporting fairly in this story given its strong involvement in the story and its bias. The articles on the school board report reflected this bias, and the articles on the interviews likely will, too. It just goes to show the jouralistic morass which results from a newspaper creating its own story, and then trying to report it.

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JQPUBLIC 7 years, 1 month ago

Mencken... I read above where you acknowledged your errant reading, just to let you know, It wasn't there when I wrote my comment. My comment says I posted at 11:32 and my clock now says 11:11.

Scott, instead of worrying about anonymity, can you fix the clocks first... we shouldn't have to scroll up to see who commented after us.

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corduroy 7 years, 1 month ago

can someone please repost where to take your name off the list if you signed it in error?

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blahblah 7 years, 1 month ago

I wish Mr. Stanford had taken the same pains to report the full and accurate story around the emails prior to publishing them as he did to correct and clarify information when it concerned his family. Perhaps now, Mr. Stanford can empathize with the pain inflicted on DeVincentis' family (and others) by his paper's skewed and incomplete reporting.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 1 month ago

blahblah- Do you then think DeVincentis is truly sorry & empathizes with Simms daughter for emailing hatred & underming thoughts to McGowan to use against Simms? This is not about the newspaper: it's about the School Board and administration not being on the level with the public. Saying sorry without making amends or reparations is a fairly empty gesture.

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Matthew7_1_5 7 years, 1 month ago

kielbasa, I have spoken with D. You should read the context of D's comments on Simms's daughter. He talked about how Simms had spent no time with her daughter and never showed up at a superbowl party when her daughter was about 7 years old. He attended that party along with the dad and others. She, the daughter, ran to the window each time car lights came up the drive hoping that it was her mother. Her mother never appeared. - she was cleaning the district office for principal interviews the next day. that is when Schmidt was hired. Simms's commented the next day that her daughter was in good hands. D never said anything derogatory about the daughter. D feels most badly about Scott's hiding the context on this one. He did say that he hoped the daughter as she got older would give Simms fits. Ask Scott for a copy of the emails and read for yourself.

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Matthew7_1_5 7 years, 1 month ago

corduroy-go to the courthouse with your ID to take your name off the petition. do this asap for they close this option when all names are verifies whether at the end of the 10 days they have or as soon as they get finished with their part.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 1 month ago

Cyborg- That's my point: I don't think D has atoned. At least he hasn't shown how he has. There is nobody I feel I can support in this. You can say what you like, but D did just as bad as Stephenson and Gleason. The same works in reverse. At this point, there's not a whole lot of hope for anyone until ALL of them are gone. They each did wrong and I support none of them. That's the truth. You can slant it all you like: I'm going off the report filed, not personal feelings. I don't feel the need to side with what I feel is the lesser of 2 evils. Why should I?

The reason I admonish both sides (cripes, I'll say it again): The message from each side is interchangeable; only the names are different. If you don't get it, then you deserve whatever happens. That goes for both sides.

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blahblah 7 years, 1 month ago

kielbasa - it is about more than the newspaper and school board. It is about, on the part of all parties, considering how one's actions affect others. What Devincentis said regarding Simms and her daughter was inappropriate. What The Pilot did in publishing the emails and continuing to report a skewed and incomplete story was an injustice and possibly illegal. My point about Stanford is that when the same thing happens to us that we are fine happening to another, it gives us an entirely different perspective.

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 1 month ago

How convenient Howell is in Canada. Perhaps she'll emigrate.

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SteamboatJoe 7 years, 1 month ago

Such hate, stillinsteamboat! Were we not all supposed to forgive D and quit all the negativity for the good of the district? Where are my manners, that was only if the bashing was of the great and powerful D. Can't have it both ways mom.

While we are so glad he saved your child, he has and continues to be extremely inappropriate and in need of letting the public vote on his position.. He violated policy and Donna could have done a better job protecting his violation.

Can't you just realize D will be the one with the last laugh when he scams the board into firing Donna? And still, we will be left with more of the same from D and a new superintendent to groom.

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mom 7 years, 1 month ago

Ummm, do you REALLY think the e-mails were obtained because of policy? Seems more like it was for blackmail and a smear campaign. Someone using their power to snoop into e-mails or anything possible that were not meant to be made public:.many people would have things found on their e-mail, journals, letters, etc that could be humiliating and used in a smear campaign. Okay, so it could have happened to anyone:.but wait:I forgot the people "behind the scenes" have it out for John.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 1 month ago

To all: I don't have to ask D for anything. The Pilot published the emails in full on a PDF Adobe format. No matter what I ask it will be waaaaaay after the fact. After caught in things like this, people will say it's taken out of context or the old "what I meant to say..."

His emails were fully published. I was one of the people saying that until we could see everything in context, I couldn't take them as detractors would. Since seeing them, I still am not shocked by them; it's the equivalent of what a lot of people do after someone is out of their life after going thru the kind of fight they did.

Still, a year and half of emails (quite a few emails, too), 2 to 3 1/2 years AFTER Simms left Steamboat. That's almost obsessive, even by my standards. (I can still remember the name of a guest who complained for absolutely no reason except to complain...from 1999. That's bad considering I've dealt with thousands of guests since then. It's the bad things that always stay in your mind longer.)

So, D was pretty indiscrete in his emails, and none too smart sending them from his school computer, no matter what policy was in place or enforced.

The main point the majority on both sides of this issue is missing is this:

Point the finger at all involved, not just one. I keep seeing people taking only 1 side calling out the other side for the exact same type of indiscretion while ignoring it on the side they are taking. I said it before: both sides' hands are dirty in this.

The Pilot has shown both sides, and it's all in how you interpret their specific interpretations. Otherwise, go to the links that show you where they are getting their info from and use that instead. That way, you can't blame them. In this small of a town, everyone knows everyone: there's always going to be a conflict of interest in someone's mind.

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Mencken 7 years, 1 month ago

So, where is the Pilot's article on the interview transcripts? Is the Pilot not going to report on them? Is it still preparing its article? This current article certainly can't be all that the Pilot is going to do, because it doesn't say anything about the content of the interviews. It would be highly iniquitous to report on the content of the Dr. D. emails (in many articles), but only provide notification of the interview transcripts, and a link to them on the internet. Where is the paper's sense of balance? Does the paper still not realize that, nearly a week after it became apparent from the initial school board report (and now from the interview transcripts), the essential details of how the emails were obtained and transmitted has never been mentioned in any article? This is a dereliction of journalistic duty. It is apparent (based on both sides of the argument in these comments), that the facts of: (1) Dr. Howell accessing Dr. D.'s hard drive at night; (2) with the reluctant participation of the school tech staff; and (3) her failure to clearly or coherently articulate a rationale for this is highly relevant to the debate. The Pilot is falling down on the job, and this provides yet more proof (as if it were needed) that the paper is unwilling or unable to report fairly as a result of its bias.

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 1 month ago

SteambaotJoe: I think DH is hoping to be let go so she is free to enjoy her golden parachute in Canada.

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 1 month ago

SteamboatJoe: It isn't about you or me or Dr. D. It is about saving and coming to the rescue of our children, Your precious DH and her gang have ruined our school district. Your defense of these people is despicable. They are supposed to serve the children and I think John has proven over and over again his value in this community. I can't say the same for your GANG!

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 1 month ago

Cyborg- That's why I'm admonishing people on both sides. It's a mirror; only the names have been changed. Try it: look at each post without names of posters or the names being used in their post. They're almost interchangeable. That should tell people something right there, but they're too busy doing it to notice.

For what you said about D, yes, he admitted it when presented with it. Admitting it and atoning for it are two separate things, though. I admitted I was an alcoholic long before I actually stopped drinking. As I have stated before, I think D and Howell should finish out the 2 years remaining, forcing them work together and then both should not be retained in their current positions any longer. It gets rid of the two largest polarizing, current participants and might allow better focus of time and money elsewhere.

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SteamboatJoe 7 years, 1 month ago

Whew, just got back from church and realized the sermon was right here! Stillinsteamboat - it is evident you haven't been at a board meeting in quite some time nor did you know John before he saved your kid. Enjoy the fog.

Continue the hate filled posts in my honor (the energy is great regardless of the slant) and I will enjoy the election in November. If the people vote for him again, I will support that.

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 1 month ago

SteambaotJoe: One more thing, I went to your people first to "SAVE" my child, Surprise, they abandoned us!!!!! You are typical of these people. Leave my child out of your blog. You have reached a level that is very low. THE END!!!

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mom 7 years, 1 month ago

kielbasa - although I appreciate and respect your views, I think I will agree to disagree with you. Going by the record as well as going by relationships and experiences as a mother of children in the district and a district employee (having dealt with John and old BOE), I cannot agree with you about John or the old BOE being equally anything. I have a great deal of respect for John, as well as all members of the current BOE and the job they are doing. It is clear that they are not the "YES MEN" that the old BOE was. As I have said before, the old BOE (and a few others) need to move on.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 1 month ago

That's fine, mom, but what he did in the emails was obsessive behavior. That doesn't just go away in a person. They don't just wake up one morning and change. I applaud him for not being a rubberstamp like the old board, but the man has issues, plain and simple. Plus, the man has not exhibited anything that says he has atoned for what he did. Show me where, like an alcoholic, he as made amends by apologizing to Simms for trying to pursue ruining her career from afar. I don't think he's done that, yet. He doesn't need to apologize to the public, even though he did. This affected Simms after she left.

And just like your post, someone from the other side will justify their taking that side. To me, it all sounds exactly the same. Take the test: have someone out of your "loop" cut and paste various posts with the "exacts" replaced with a "generalization." I'll bet you can't tell what side the post is supporting. They all say the same thing. If you don't believe me, try it. I don't expect you to because everyone's mind is made up already and won't listen to anything but the "preacher."

What's sad is that this is almost laughable anymore.

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bikegirl 7 years, 1 month ago

To kielbasa and stmbt joe-While some folks have chosen to insult,call names and honestly,get nastier and nastier with their posts,you have both stated your opinions clearly ,with intelligence and grace.{My opinion}Here is a thought to leave you with-"Words have power;words are of substance.They are tangible,and carry with them their own force.Words not only inspire,they heal.Likewise they carry destructive power.Words can mend,and words can kill.They serve as both salve and weapon,There is therefore no greater charge than to be the custodian of one's words.justly and rightly discerning each syllable,that the awesome power they carry not be misdirected"

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mom 7 years, 1 month ago

I think we all showing obsessive behavior, at least I know I am with all these posts! It's time to get outside and enjoy the great out doors. Have a nice day!

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SteamboatJoe 7 years, 1 month ago

Thanks Bikegirl and I stand behind what I say, if the community elects him again, I will support that. Continuing to undermine him after he wins in November only hurts the district.

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titsikama 7 years, 1 month ago

Stmbt Joe etc.. Go back and read posts written by , reallocal (the worst of the bunch), Hamm and other SOS's, letters to the editor and your own posts. etc ... Equally nasty. I can't say that I support that on either side, but please don't try to pretend that you did otherwise.
In the mist of all of this mudslinging I still never got any answers to my questions. Why was the public told there wouldn't be a special election and now there most likely will be one? Why should people support a recall based on lies and deception (unethically,potentially illegally obtained e-mails) and led by unehthical (per the report) politically motivated individuals? Why didn't SOS first go to John and then to the Board instead of the paper if the goal was really to Save Our Schools and do what was in the best interest of the community? Why would you think it was undemocratic to question the recall and ask people to not sign it based on these facts? Alas, I have resigned myself that these very relevant questions will not be answered. Becuase there is no good answer. Instead it will be a comment about John (or at least it always has been). Maybe if I wish really hard... Michelle

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SteamboatJoe 7 years, 1 month ago

questions radarrascal wants answered- From radarrascal - Why didn't SOS first go to John and then to the Board instead of the paper if the goal was really to Save Our Schools and do what was in the best interest of the community? Why would you think it was undemocratic to question the recall and ask people to not sign it based on these facts?

Pat Gleason sat through several meetings were he was shocked at the way the board treated Donna and twisted what she told her admin team. When he refused to go to executive session with no reason, that was after a tremendous amount of conflict on the board. John D. listens to nobody. He will not resign and SOS knows him well, remember they saved his ass in the parents for Dr. D group. Signing or not signing the recall is a right I never tried to force on anybody.Ads about recall remorse deserve the same questions. The fact that the SOS group set up a website to communicate the purpose of the recall and guide you to recall links provided by the state of Colorado was good for people who had questions. Decide for yourself. Sounds like you already have.

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SteamboatJoe 7 years, 1 month ago

Let's just cancel each other out in November radarrascal - see you then!

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