Uploaded: Tue, Nov 10, 2009, 12:00 pm
District announces Ghysels will step down
No timeline given; Craig Goldman singled out as MV Whisman's next top official
Superintendent Maurice Ghysels has officially informed the Mountain View Whisman School District Board of Trustees that he is looking for work outside the district, it was announced Monday night.
The announcement, read in a statement by board president Phil Palmer, came at the end of a two-hour, closed-session meeting apparently called late last week. Though the meeting's agenda was never stated, it was called in regards to Ghysels' relationship with Carmen Mizell, principal of Landels Elementary School.
"At tonight's school board meeting, Superintendent Maurice Ghysels shared a letter wherein he told us he was looking for other work," Palmer said at the end of the meeting. "While the board has known about this informally for a while, this was the first formal announcement to us of his intent. We, of course, wish him the best."
Palmer added, "With this announcement, the board decided that tonight would be an appropriate time to let the public know that our team has been discussing an internal succession plan for quite some time."
In the announcement, Palmer said that Craig Goldman, currently the district's chief financial officer, would eventually be taking over as superintendent. No specific timeline was given for the move.
On Tuesday, Goldman told the Voice that this transition was a long time in the works.
"Three years ago, when I was principal of Huff," he said, "Maurice had shared with me a vision that I would serve as his successor once he had moved on from the district."
Goldman, who was out of town Monday, said he did not know before the meeting that he would be asked to formally commit to taking up the position of superintendent.
"I got a call shortly before they made the report just to make sure I was still on board," he said, adding that he was "willing and grateful" for the opportunity.
As for when the transition might occur, "Generally the expectation would be that Maurice would stay through the end of the school year," he said. During that time Goldman will begin to train for his new position, while carrying on his normal duties as CFO as well as looking for a replacement for his current position.
Ghysels revealed to the Voice on Oct. 26 that he had been in a romantic relationship with Mizell for an undisclosed amount of time. Both were married and are now in the process of going through divorces.
Ghysels said that last summer, both he and Mizell informed the board of their relationship. He added that, because principals typically report to the superintendent, the district's "reporting structure" was altered to avoid a conflict of interest.
The announcement caused a backlash among some in the community, while others stated their continuing support for both Ghysels and Mizell.
Despite the backlash, there were very few parents or former parents in attendance Monday night — no more than three before the trustees went into closed session. None spoke publicly.
Gloria Valdez, teacher and representative for the Mountain View Educators' Association, was the only person to comment publicly to the board. She voiced the support of 19 Landels teachers for Mizell, noting that they "emphatically and unanimously support Carmen's tenure as principal of Landels School."
Goldman, a 12-year veteran of the district, noted that Monday's announcement may seem "more spontaneous than it really is."
"Regardless of what may be happening in the public domain, this is really a well-planned, well-thought-out process," he said. The plan was in place, he added "long before these public issues came into play."
Posted by Martha,
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 11, 2009 at 11:31 am
To Mom from Shoreline West: The Superintendent is not an elected official, he is hired by the School Board. You can and should let the board know about any decision of theirs you disagree with. Email them. The email address is on the district's website.
Steve: "was it a condition for being appointed to the board." People get "appointed" to the board only because lately, there is never more than one candidate running for an open seat. Hence, no election is necessary, since there's only one candidate, and that person is "appointed." Doesn't matter who it is or what their positions on district policies are, if they are the only candidate, they are appointed.
I find it funny that people are always saying the school district should be run like a corporation -- then when they incorporate procedures or ideas from the corporate world (e.g., Continuous Improvement; or a "CEO" who knows he won't be in the job forever and grooms an internal candidate who will be an excellent replacement, so you have someone with experience and history with your organization taking over, providing much-needed continuity) everyone screams.
As far a community input on this choice -- yes, everyone should have the opportunity to give it. Everyone does have the ability to. As I said -- email address for the board on the website. Input all you want. Public sessions are good, and it probably would be a good thing to do, but you are not prohibited from providing input just because there's not a meeting held in an MUR somewhere.
Regarding the complaint about the rotating superintendents -- that we want someone who will stay. I agree completely that continuity is important. Which is why I think Craig is great choice. He already knows the district's strong and weak points, knows what the hot-button topics are, has weathered more than one storm here already. He does speak some Spanish, I don't know how fluently. I know he made this a priority when the Spanish-language population at Huff increased after Slater's closure. His experience even when he was a Huff principal extended beyond Huff, since he headed up the GATE committee for several years, and I believe was very involved in the district's ELAC committee, meaning he had to work with every school site. He was involved at the district level for years before becoming CFO, on many things. Plus, he is arguably one of the smartest people in the district.
He has a record of coming into an administrative job without years of experience in that particular area, taking over a contentious situation, and turning it into a great success. When Huff opened and he was hired, he had been a summer school principal, and I believe that that was his only experience as a principal. The process for filling the teacher slots at Huff was not handled well by the district at that time, as I understand it, and as a result Huff was staffed by teachers who felt that they had been mistreated and were very resentful. Craig had to take this unhappy group and turn it into a team. Which he did, with great success. He was a huge part of Huff's great sense of community right from the start.
No principal (or superintendent, board member, or other human) can please every parent, no matter how good they are at their jobs. So I'm sure there are some parents who were unhappy with Huff or with Craig for one thing or another. I had some disagreements with him here and there over the years. But I'm pretty confident that the overwhelming majority of Huff parents would tell you that he was a fantastic principal, and think that the board would be hard-pressed to find a better candidate for MVWSD. People might not agree with every decision he will make in that job -- any administrator who tries to please everyone will end up doing nothing, at least nothing of value -- but his decisions are always based on careful consideration, and are always what he truly believes to be in the best interest of the children.
PLUS -- even if the superintendent "grooms" a candidate, it is still up to the board. They can certainly hire a search firm if they choose. But they know Craig, and I think they are planning to hire him to the position not because Maurice says so, but because of his history with the district, his obvious intelligence, his track record of building consensus, focusing on the kids and making academic achievement a top priority for all. He was a great communicator as a Huff principal. His principal's coffees were full of pertinent information regarding how our kids were doing in all areas, academic and otherwise.
Honestly, I think if the district spends money on a search at this time, it would be foolish indeed.
Posted by Tom,
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 11, 2009 at 1:37 pm
Those that have been following the schools for a long time will know that Ghsyels is not leaving because he wants to, but because he is being forced to. He's, in essence, being fired, just like Patty Polifrone was. Of course, in public education you can never really fire anyone. They will both just move on to wreak more havoc elsewhere. As we all know by now, it's all a "personnel matter" and can't be discussed!
We also should know by now this talk of Goldman's rise to power and ascent to the office of superintendent is just meant to distract everyone and get them off the topic of Ghysels' inappropriate relationship with the Mizell, the Landel's principal. The assumption would appear to be that district employees, parents, and the community are all fools.
At least the article header is accurate and to the point. Ghysels will step down.
An opportunity was lost here again, which suggests some deeply ingrained faulty thinking on the part of the board and at the district office level, along with some twisted forms of loyalty. Until those elements change, nothing will change in this district. All people want here is the straight truth, albeit good, bad, or ugly. I just don't think we are ever going to get it. I would love to see many of the points raised above addressed by the Voice.
For all those praising Ghsyels ad nauseum, guess what? He was expected to do a good job. He started off alright, didn't read the signals very well, hung everything on CI, and then tripped over his sword (figuratively speaking of course) and ruined it all. He's hardly even finishing out his contract. Read between the lines: he's been stripped of his command and authority. Stepping down before you have a job in November of the last year of your contract basically translates as you're fired. He doesn't get credit for being half way or almost successful. Like it or not folks, he didn't do what he was paid for. He made some pretty poor personal and professional choices--shocked the hec out of me. But now we have to listen and read about these fabricated accounts of what supposedly happened and didn't? Get the public off topic and get them going in another direction--more "perception is everything" and the "truth is relevant". Pretty amazing.
We are spun this story that Ghysels had a hand in selecting his successor. We are told a good successor can only come from within the district. Do you mean to tell me that with six months left before the district finds itself rudderless that the job couldn't at least have been advertised and opened up to applicants without the need of a consultant firm? Post the position, see how many people apply, and review the resumes in April or May. I guess we'll never if there were any real ex-CEOs, military officers, or superintendents with a strong track record looking to move into the area due to a spouse's job relocation or something like that. We'll never know if there had been a successful superintendent out there looking to relocate geographically or to take on another challenge. We'll never know. Six months ahead, it's all decided. Appoint from within. Ghysels takes credit for the suspended brilliance of it all (as to be expected--wow, it all just makes so much sense now, how could we all have been such fools not to have seen it?!?!). It turns out it was all part of his master plan and inherent genius. The real reason he's stepping down is swept under the rug. Anything to take the negative light off of him. The board plays along as if we are not located in heart of Silicon Valley and innovation, but rather some back-wood hickville. Absurd.
On top of all this, the board gave him raise. They should all resign right behind him. He's a wash out, and the board's proven they either aren't qualified or aren't up for the job. And let's just wait and see what the contract for Goldman looks like during this down economy. I'm willing to give him a chance, but that will be the first test.
But back to my point. There's a good chance Ghysels was involved in a conflict of interest and corrupt all along. He declines to state when his relationship with Mizell began, no doubt because he would be filleted by his soon to be ex-wife, or maybe even his first ex-wife. If this was a long-term relationship just discovered, then he definitely was playing favorites in hiring, firing, moving and managing principals. The board won't investigate the chance that this was a long-term conflict of interest, but they are more than ready to spout how Ghysels was planning for his successor since his first year on the job. Just unbelievable. Since we will never know the truth, it's better to err on the side of caution and assume he was corrupted early on.
And then there's this: "As for when the transition might occur, 'Generally the expectation would be that Maurice would stay through the end of the school year,' he said. During that time Goldman will begin to train for his new position, while carrying on his normal duties as CFO as well as looking for a replacement for his current position."
Generally? What the hec does than mean? Who's in charge now? That's the question that needs to be answered immediately! It's still not clear. What about the issues of a conflict of interest between Ghysels and Mizell? Has all that been swept under the rug?
"Goldman will begin to train for his new position?" What? Under Ghysels? And who's going to stop Ghsyels from making deliberately poor decisions between now and when he leaves or pursuing personal vendettas during his lame duck session, all to make him look better than his successor once he's gone? He's the personality to do such a thing.
The whole situation is such a mess, I give up. Put your kids in private schools Mountain View. This stuff never ends.
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