Howell to meet with School Board next week for evaluation | SteamboatToday.com

Howell to meet with School Board next week for evaluation

Mike McCollum

— 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.

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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.”

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, http://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.