Steamboat Springs Requiring John DeVincentis to stand for election in November is a minimum consequence of his conduct, not only in 2-year-old e-mails he sent using his school computer but also during his 20 months on the School Board.
We previously asked DeVincentis to resign. Absent his resignation, we endorse the effort to recall him and urge residents to sign the recall petition.
A successful recall requires signatures from 1,933 registered voters by July 7. The recall will not force DeVincentis from office. Rather, it forces an election with two questions. First, should DeVincentis be recalled. Second, if he is recalled, who should replace him. The election will be during the regularly scheduled School Board election in November.
On April 4, we urged residents not to support the recall of District Attorney Bonnie Roesink. We stated, "Subverting the people's choice through recall is a serious step that should be reserved as an option of last resort."
That point has been reached with DeVincentis.
The e-mails he sent in his final year as principal of Strawberry Park Elementary, which only came to public light in April, play a significant role. When former Superintendent Cyndy Simms left Steamboat in 2003, many assumed her contentious battles with DeVincentis ended. Had the public known that DeVincentis would spend at least nine months in 2004 and 2005 sending e-mails aimed at embarrassing her and damaging her career, it's doubtful he would have been elected.
The e-mails alone warrant his recall. But his record as a board member adds credibility to the effort.
DeVincentis' contributions to the board to date have been divisiveness, anger and costly mediations. In his brief tenure, the board president has had to apologize for DeVincentis' behavior on more than one occasion, most notably when he had teacher Mike Johnson read a letter in May 2006 that was wildly inappropriate in its criticisms of Superintendent Donna Howell.
He has worked at every turn to undermine Howell, from the letter Johnson read to forcing the release of administrative surveys that Howell had promised would remain confidential. E-mails from 2006 obtained in an open records request show DeVincentis to be consistent in his combative approach toward Howell.
DeVincentis leveraged a successful career as a principal to get elected to the School Board. It is painfully clear that he did so for the purpose of pursuing a vendetta against Howell, just as he has pursued a vendetta against Simms.
Under the guise of reducing administrative costs, he has launched an outright attack on district administrators. He sought to cut their benefits and freeze their pay. He voted against renewing their contracts. He has seized upon every opportunity to drive a wedge between the administration and the board and between the administration and teachers.
In a recent letter, board President Denise Connelly highlighted some of the board's biggest successes. The passage of the Soda Creek bond issue, the passage of the mill levy override for staff salaries and the installation of artificial turf at Gardner Field were noted.
Howell was the driving force behind the bond issue and the mill levy override. She formed and worked with committees, spoke to civic groups and used her extensive credibility to convince the community to approve these measures. She was the face and the voice of the campaign. By contrast, DeVincentis was noticeably absent.
The artificial turf? DeVincentis bitterly opposed it in the letter Johnson read.
Many who have worked with DeVincentis have seen a pattern in his behavior. He loses his temper, hurts someone and apologizes. Inevitably, though, he will do it again until he is held accountable. The recall requires that he account for his behavior.
For those who think DeVincentis has learned from his mistakes, consider his recent comment about the people who made the e-mails public and are now attempting to recall him. "I think this group of people, who will come out in the investigation, are a hateful, spiteful group of people - worse than I ever did."
The statement underscores that DeVincentis still doesn't get it. He just can't grasp how highly offensive and inappropriate his treatment of Simms and, later, Howell has been.
DeVincentis would like voters to believe his critics - including the newspaper, every past School Board member the Pilot & Today has contacted and many members of the Parents for Dr. D Committee - are biased, unfair and vengeful toward him. They lack credibility. They have conflicts of interest. They all are out to get him.
These are smokescreens designed to distract from DeVincentis' own actions.
It is those actions that forced John DeVincentis' name onto a recall petition. The school district, its students and its staff will best be served if 1,933 registered voters sign it.