At the Mountain View Whisman school board meeting Thursday evening, teachers expressed concern over how trustees handled what they called a "breach of professional conduct" by Superintendent Maurice Ghysels, and the less-than-inclusive process by which his "designated successor" was selected.
"We are concerned with the way the Board of Trustees appears to have handled the breach of professional conduct by the superintendent," said Gloria Valdez, president of the local chapter of the California Teacher's Association, reading from a prepared statement.
She said the statement represented the "overwhelming majority" of teachers and that she had spoken with teachers at each of the district's nine schools.
Trustees briefly commented that they had heard from some teachers who did not agree with the statement.
The statement comes over a month after Ghysels revealed his relationship with Landels Principal Carmen Mizell. Ghysels later announced to the board that he had been planning to look for work elsewhere, and he and Craig Goldman, district CFO, agreed that Goldman was the likely successor.
After a closed session meeting on the subject at that time, trustee Phil Palmer read in a statement that Goldman had the "full support of the board to take on the superintendency of our school district" after Ghysels left.
Valdez said though "Craig Goldman has been a dedicated principal and CFO," teachers were "surprised" to learn that he had been the "designated successor" to Ghysels. She said the appointment represented a "shift from the more open and inclusive way in which the trustees have generally selected and appointed superintendents."
Though trustees declined to comment on the statement specifically, saying they would be working directly with the union and teachers, they said that such an appointment is not outside the norm.
Trustee Fiona Walter said school boards have two options when hiring new superintendents: They may conduct a search, hiring a consultant for $35,000 to $45,000, or they can appoint someone to the position on their own.
"Why would I spend $40,000 on a search and end up back at Craig Goldman?" she asked. "We have a fabulous in-house candidate who's had 12 years of interviews."
"Our board unanimously supports Craig Goldman as our internal hire as superintendent of Mountain View Whisman School District," said trustee Ellen Wheeler in an e-mail to the Voice.
"Our nearly 50-point rise in student test scores over these past five years shows how a concerted focus on student achievement can make a difference," she added. "We believe that Craig will do an excellent job of adding to this five years of foundational work."
The union's statement implored trustees to "immediately draft and implement a policy" in regards to the "professional working environment between a supervisor and the persons supervised."
Valdez noted that the union does not support a separation agreement with Ghysels that includes a "financial buy-out."
When asked about the California Teacher's Association statement, Ghysels said through his assistant that "he just wants to keep working on the good things we've been working on and focus on the kids."