Steamboat Springs Much has been written and discussed lately regarding John DeVincentis' tumultuous tenure on the School Board. In the past few days, a group of his supporters have emerged with radio and newspaper ads saying the backers of a recall petition are running a smear campaign. Nothing could be further from the truth.
From 1993 to 2003, I was intimately involved with the formation of the original Half Cent Sales Tax, Education Fund Board and Educational Excellence Commission. I was the original chairman of the Growth Commission before it split into the Educational Excellence Commission and the Capital Commission. I was also a member of the Parents for Dr. D Committee.
During those ten years, I came to know dozens of administrators, superintendents, School Board Members and Commission Members, and not one of them breached basic ethics and common decency as John DeVincentis has. In my view, his behavior and demeanor, the e-mails about Dr. Simms and his general approach to conducting public business has been embarrassing and inexcusable. His agenda and actions have been to intimidate and bully anyone not in agreement with him. He has not met even the minimum standard of what I find and what I believe the community finds acceptable in a public official.
To me, it doesn't matter how the e-mails came out. In them, John DeVincentis admitted he lied to the Mercer Island School Board in 2003 and carried on a vicious campaign from 2003 to 2005 against the former superintendent after she left our district. In 2006, he had one of his former employees, a teacher at Strawberry Park Elementary School, read a scathing letter he had written about the current superintendent in a public forum without having the courage to do it himself and, as is his pattern, apologized later.
In hindsight, many of us on the Parents for Dr. D Committee now realize that the fiasco with Dr. Simms in 2002 was instigated by John, and although he apologized, our confidence in him was shattered. The damage to the community was done.
Talk to any former School Board Member dating back to the late eighties and early nineties, and you will hear about the same pattern of behavior from John DeVincentis - trash another person's integrity, act apologetic and then repeat the same behavior in another six months. This behavior has been going on for more than fifteen years.
Many of us had hoped that upon retiring John would change his ways and funnel his passion for education in a positive manner, but he has failed to do so. None of us doubt that he was an excellent principal, but that is not the issue here. At issue is John DeVincentis' ability to serve as an impartial and reputable citizen of the Board of Education.
Being a School Board member means - if nothing else - being clearly above board ethically and morally. John DeVincentis - by his own acts and admission - has failed to so. John - by his own actions - has smeared himself and, by not resigning, is tarnishing our entire Board.
This is a stand up moment for the community - do we find the type of behavior exhibited by John DeVincentis acceptable for a public official? I say no. If you have not joined the 1,300 petition signators, make an effort to find a petition to sign. Contact www.sosre2.com.
Recall John DeVincentis.
Brian T. Kelly