Posted by parent, a resident of another community, on Oct 26, 2009 at 7:02 pm
Maurice and Carmen, (Children, Children, Children)
A married Superintendent and a married Principal having an affair (in the same district) is such a childish act. Can you both see past your noses? Our children's education system doesn't need this. I can't trust people that have affairs and your decision's and judgement's are of no value to me. We have so many good educators in our district that would never consider infidelity while spending taxpayers dollars.
Maurice and Carmen, you haven't learned you get divorced before you start another relationship? I hope you don't have children of your own.
You both have tainted the district and really should be fired.
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Oct 26, 2009 at 7:15 pm
Talk about Peyton Place. The is not the quality of leadership our district needs at a time like this. The mask is finally being lifted on this character for those blind enough not to have seen it coming long ago.
The sultry details aside, there is so much wrong with this as a white wash on the part of the school board.
-If Lairon evaluates Mizell and Ghysels evaluates Lairon, then, call me a cynic, but wouldn't Ghysels exercise considerable influence over Lairon given only one degree of seperation, be it vertical not horizontal? This arrangement is laughable.
-They "have been involved for a period of time which Ghysels declined to specify." A smart answer, actually, given that most on the inside already know this had been going on for several years. He and the board are obviously trying hard to avoid a lawsuit.
-And let's try to remember just how Mizell was hired in the first place. Another far-more qualified internal candidate was selected by the hiring board at Castro, only to have Mizell shoe-horned in at the last minute by Ghysels's executive decree under strong suspicions that he had supplied the hiring panels questions to Mizell in advance.
-The real problem the board doesn't want to confront is how Ghysels turns away and sidelines the female talent in this district that refuses to swoon for him and massage his ego. Given the vast majority of educators in the district are female, that could have quite an impact an moving forward on anything. It's called lack of buy-in for what the seller is selling due to the perception that the seller lacks credibility, authenticity, and trustworthiness.
-And that's right, Ellen, believe everything the guy says. He's been lying to his wife for so long I hardly think the board is much of a match.
-As for Mizell, I'm not sure if she is a victim or a fox. She had no problem leveling a flimsy sexual harassment charge against a male employee at Castro her first year there that was quickly wrapped up at the district office and which cost the guy his job. Quite a double-standard. Bravo.
-As for Totter, she must be scrambling to find that moral compass. What kind of pressure is she under from Ghysels? Will she start throwing Landels's teachers under the bus in an effort to please all parties concerned in the district office?
Kudos to the Voice and Mr. Frances. This could not have been an easy article to write.
Posted by School Site Parent, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Oct 26, 2009 at 9:34 pm
It's remarkable that our self-styled leadership guru Ghysels has now gone soft on some basic elements of organizational leadership in a moment of convenience.
Fact: The buck stops at the Superintendent's office. Everyone below that office answers to him. That's the chain of command, and that cannot be altered by tap dancing. Period. A principal's goals, agreed on in advance for yearly performance counseling, are shaped and derived from the superintendent's guidance. Ghysels will continue to have influence over Mizell, and any one else evaluating her or working alongside her, not matter how hard some try to say it ain't so. So, can we all just please stop being so naive to suggest otherwise?!?!?!? The reading public is not stupid.
In my opinion, the board needs to hold people accountable toward acting professionally rather than just talking about it before this turns into a runaway train. One or the other or both should resign or be forced to leave. I've experienced some similar conflict of interest situations in my line of work, albeit not one as clear and direct as this one, and it leads to no good at all for the organization. Morale suffers, particularly in a public organization with unions.
BTW, I'd love to meet the lawyers who are advising the board on this one and know how much they're charging.
Q: Who is paying the legal bill for clarifying all these policies that, according to the quoted savants above, apparently have never been addressed anywhere, anytime, by any school board, ever (yeah, right)?
A1: The school district and taxpayers, so let's all just please stop playing this game of "Huh?"
A2: The bill should go to Ghysels and Mizell who can split it down the middle.
Let's just roll the dice and gamble some more with our schools.
Posted by Carol, a resident of the Jackson Park neighborhood, on Oct 26, 2009 at 9:43 pm
Yes, Charlene, you're right, Dr. Crates left Redwood City District under the very same circumstances, and she married the other Dr. Crates, the then-Superintendent of Redwood City. So there is precedent for this type of thing--one person leaves the district.
Posted by another parent, a resident of the Waverly Park neighborhood, on Oct 26, 2009 at 9:54 pm
"My professional life remains focused on my goals for the students, for the staff, for the community. And my personal life will not affect my professional aims."
As for the rest, he said, "We have a personal life, and it's private."
You think that your personal life is your private business? Um, I don't think so! Like it or not, you are both public figures and your private behavior has everything to do with your public image. Let's apply the old "suppose this was a teacher...." rule:
If two married teachers at the same school were having an affair with each other, that's perfectly fine? Okay, so one is the department head and the other gets peer reviews from their paramour. So this is their private business and it's all just fine and peachy with their students?
School board, would you please get a spine and do what's truly best for our students? If this isn't enough to break the spellbound trance the supe has you in, I don't know what is.
Posted by Landels Parent, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Oct 26, 2009 at 10:41 pm
Good grief, Mountain View…Fire them??? On what grounds? Infidelity? Romance in the office place is a fact of life in the 21st century—we no longer live in 17th century colonial America and pin red letters on people and lock them up in the stocks. Businesses across America today develop and enforce policies to ensure conflicts of interest that arise with office romance do not interfere with getting work done. Where romance involves bosses and subordinates in their chain of command, the chains of command are altered, as the MVWSD has done. As for who pays for the attorneys, they are a necessary a cost of doing business…just like paying taxes. With good legal advice, an ounce of prevention can go a long way!
Questions of ethics and love are rarely cut and dried. Life doesn’t always come in one-size-fits-all, tidy packages with clearly correct answers. Choices about fidelity, marriage and romance are not the domain of the school board, local families enrolled in our schools, or readers of The Voice. In addition to academics, the domain of the schools is teaching and modeling responsible and respectful behavior, and acting with and treating others with dignity. Making difficult choices about personal relationships is not necessarily inconsistent with demonstrating responsible, respectful behavior and dignity in a public and professional arena.
What is appropriate territory for the public to weigh in on is performance. By and large the Landels community (teachers, staff and parents) is very enthusiastic about Carmen Mizell, and the school is thriving under her leadership. Although she alone cannot take credit for the 31 point increase in the API scores (this gain reflects the ongoing efforts of past and current leadership and Landels tremendous teaching staff, as well as old-fashioned hard work by Landels students and their family and community support sytems), but she *is* largely responsible for forging a stronger community among Landels’ diverse population; the Hispanic community that comprises almost half of Landels population is far more involved in school affairs than it has been in years and years. Parents of every stripe and hue finally feel comfortable being on campus and participating in school activities and volunteering in the classroom; and teachers and staff are excited to tap into this community of volunteers. Carmen gets lots of kudos for fostering a terrific school climate at Landels.
It is undeniable that under Maurice Ghysels’ leadership as superintendent, every school in the District has made great strides in student achievement as demonstrated by test scores. In addition, best teaching practices are shared among grade levels and schools, and District benchmarks have been developed to measure performance at every school. There is far greater consistency in teaching and in what is taught from class to class and school to school than there was when Maurice assumed the helm. Naturally, he has his detractors (as his predecessors did, and as most leaders do), but for the most part, the parent and business communities have been very supportive of the progress achieved during Maurice’s tenure. Maurice has played a fundamental role in shaping the District’s progress and in promoting student achievement. Would the community and our children truly benefit if we go back to the well to find someone new, someone without a track record of success here in Mountain View, who might leave after two years as soon as something higher paying or closer to home comes along (as Jim Negri did)? I think not.
The kids of Mountain View and our community will be better off if we all mind our own business—and stay the course (a successful course!)by allowing current leadership to do their jobs without our judging their private lives.
Posted by Castro Mom, a resident of the Castro City neighborhood, on Oct 26, 2009 at 11:19 pm Castro Mom is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Ok, so if this relationship is ok with some of you, am I not entitled to my own opinion about it? I believe there wouldn't be made such a fuss over this if it weren't for their positions in the community. Time will tell. Whatever!!
Posted by Castro Mom, a resident of the Castro City neighborhood, on Oct 26, 2009 at 11:27 pm Castro Mom is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
It must be tough to be them right now. We have every right to know whats going on--not the lurid details, please spare us--yet shouldn't there be some accountability? Anyway, we shouldn't take the focus off their administrative abilities, and leading the students, so you do have a point in letting them sort it out privately.
Posted by MV Parent, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Oct 27, 2009 at 9:05 am MV Parent is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
I think that the superintendent already lacks credibility with many teachers, and this won't help. These are really difficult times for educators, and leadership is more important than ever. That seems to be an issue in the district.
Posted by 2thdoc, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Oct 27, 2009 at 9:47 am 2thdoc is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Let me start off by saying that I neither like nor respect our current superintendent That said, I think that the school district has much larger concerns than an affair. This just confirms my opinion that Ghysels is self absorbed and needs to concentrate on our students and the state of our schools rather than on himself and his affairs. Thank Goodness we have great private schools at our disposal.
Posted by Robin, a resident of the Martens-Carmelita neighborhood, on Oct 27, 2009 at 11:59 am Robin is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
For all his supposed business acumen, our superintendent has overlooked the cardinal rule...
PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING
Our district has IMO spent years trying to rebuild its reputation after considerable turnover in administrators at both the district and schools.
How is this latest incident perceived by the stakeholders?
Whether Maurice thinks this is a private matter that has been dealt with is irrelevant.
What matters is how his actions are perceived by the community, by parents, by certificated and classified staff, by the countless individuals and groups with whom he interacts.
The fact that attorneys, school board members, personnel directors, teachers, parents, reporters, and all of us are now scratching our heads over this is a waste of time and energy that could be better spent figuring out how to best educate educate our students.
Could this dilemma be a reason why district administrators have all but eliminated district-level parent advisory committees and have not been showing up at school events such as Back to School Nights and school concerts? Last spring I attended two different 5th grade graduation ceremonies and there was not a single trustee or district administrator in sight to congratulate our students on their hard work. What message does that send to our principals, teachers, parents, and students?
Posted by Drew Seutter, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Oct 27, 2009 at 1:41 pm Drew Seutter is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
This story begs for public comment, and I have enjoyed all of those comments posted to date. A soap opera like this will continue to warrant public input and enjoyment for awhile. Keep up the good work.
Landels Elementary School is having its primary PTA fundraiser on Friday, October 30th, the Landels Spooky Walkathon. Many kids have been hard at work canvasing the neighborhood and ringing up their grandparents for donations to the PTA. These funds are essentially desperately needed because the State Senate and Assembly have continued to recklessly spend our tax dollars in ways that don't help those who primarily fund all of the government's exploits. They found it amongst themselves this year to pass 700 new bills and laws at the close of the legislative session. Could one of those bills possibly have shrank an un-needed program or government staff and added a few bucks to the schools' budgets? Let's kick them in the ass next time we have a vote.
In the mean time, donate what you can to our PTAs, schools, and kids. This school's principal, administrators, teachers, parents, and students seem to have the right goals in focus.
Posted by Dr. Collateral, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Oct 27, 2009 at 2:55 pm Dr. Collateral is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
I'm not able to see how this qualifies for a "mind your own business" admonition. In my own company, people in a romantic relationship are not allowed to be in the same management chain, as it presents clear conflicts of interest between the manager and employee. Now, it would be different if Mizell could report to a different manager in the same organization, but there's no way around the fact that Mizell reports directly to Ghysels.
Posted by KD, a resident of the Waverly Park neighborhood, on Oct 27, 2009 at 9:08 pm KD is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Ghysels is a self absorbed, narcissistic gadfly, as anyone who has attended a MVEF event (and seen him in action) can attest. This latest news is no surprise and reflects poorly on those who continue to support him.
Posted by j.cooper, a resident of the Waverly Park neighborhood, on Oct 27, 2009 at 9:43 pm j.cooper is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
KD, you have nailed it. The school board needs to provide some leadership & release this con man. The improved test scores of the schools is do to the teachers, who haven't gotten a raise in over 3 years.
Posted by landels parent, a resident of the Jackson Park neighborhood, on Oct 28, 2009 at 9:11 am landels parent is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
I don't know anyone who isn't happy with the job Mrs. Mizell is doing at Landels.
It would be refreshing for people to not be personally insulting on these blogs. The mean-spirited off-hand comments are so easy to make and they can do damage. (Thinking of the janitor remark here especially.) Criticism is fine; and insults and gossip aren't helpful.
Let's concentrate on getting some better funding to the schools.
Posted by Cuesta park Mom, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Oct 28, 2009 at 12:44 pm Cuesta park Mom is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
My child attended Castro when Carmen was there and I thought she was a wonderful principal. Her impact on Castro was positive. I am not surprised that she went to Landels because she seemed overwhelmed by the amount of work involved in keeping Castro afloat. Judy Crates seems to be a better match for Castro.
I feel really bad for Maurice's wife, Susan, who I simply adore. She has been right by his side through his journey as super.
That being said, you just never know who you are going to fall in love with and I really hate to see our district tainted by all of this. I think Dr. Ghysels has done a good job so far, and whether we like him or not is irrelevant. The district has come a good long way since he took over, and I do not want to see him go. I do not want to see Carmen go either, I think she has leadership capablities that we need. Please, lets just take a step back and give this some time to sort it all out. If our kids have not been hurt by this, and we continue as a district to do well, then lets just let these two people work out their own lives and get on with ours.
Posted by parent/teacher, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on Oct 28, 2009 at 6:58 pm parent/teacher is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Clearly there is no way you can avoid a conflict of interest here. The Superintendent is at the top of the management chain that includes both the Principal and the Associate Superintendent. The broader issue is the professional climate within the school district office and the schools themselves.
This situation represents an attitude on the part of top administrators that the rules don't really apply to them. The district is rife with stories of favoritism and arbitrary application of rules and procedures in many areas, particularly Human Resources.
The HR department operates at the behest of top management positions. When dealing with certificated and classified employees HR will insist on secrecy and engage in tactics that are often described as bullying, when dealing with administrators that is surely not the case. When you ask HR why certain actions have (or haven't been) taken the reply is "I did what I was told" or "there is no written board policy". Clearly there is a problem with accountability and oversight within the top echelons of MVWSD particularly with respect to personnel issues. There is an unhealthy climate created when one administrator has control over all personnel matters and is guided primarily by their own subjectivity and self assurance. There needs to be some measure of fairness and consistency in how district employees are treated, from top to bottom, and as anyone working there will tell you that is a condition sorely lacking. The "Gang of Four" administrators, as I have heard them refer to themselves, operate as though they are untouchable and unanswerable to the community they have been hired to serve.
Oh the irony! At the bottom of this online forum is an ad for the Educational Leadership Program at Pepperdine University where....you guessed it, our own superintendent MG, is an Adjunct Professor! What a wonderful example of Educational Leadership! (gag)
Dr. Maurice Ghysels has 26 years of leadership in public education, corporate and business consulting. Dr. Ghysels served as a classroom teacher and a middle and high school principal. Dr. Ghysels is committed to providing students with an Education for the World Ahead with a passion for academic excellence, strong community and a broad worldview,
Dr. Ghysels has experience not only as a teacher and educational leader; he also has extensive corporate and consultant experience. Prior to joining the Mountain View Whisman School District, he served as the Deputy Superintendent and Chief Operations Officer for the Campbell Union School District. Also serving as a middle and high school principal, he worked in public school districts in Pleasanton Unified, Mt. Diablo Unified and San Ramon Unified School Districts. Maurice began his professional career in California public schools as a high school teacher of economics, mathematics, music and leadership.
Dr. Ghysels led executive development and continuous improvement initiatives as a vice president and chief learning officer for Citigroup’s global real estate and corporate infrastructure, as well as Citigroup’s online banking and brokerage.
Also heading up a learning organization for a start-up, Groundswell, Inc. Dr. Ghysels developed and delivered training and coaching in leadership, relationship management, customer service, project management, quality-process improvement and communication.
As a consultant, Dr. Ghysels has delivered leadership development to Genentech, AutoDesk, Citigroup, Children’s Miracle Network, Electronic Arts, Tyco, and Wellpoint.
Dr. Ghysels holds a doctorate in education from the University of San Francisco, a masters in educational leadership from CSU Hayward, and a bachelors in economics from San Jose State University. Dr. Ghysels is on the Board of Directors of the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce.
Currently, he serves as an adjunct professor at Pepperdine’s Educational Leadership and Psychology program and has recently published the following articles:
Create Teacher Leaders for Better Decision-Making, School Superintendent’s Insider,January 2008
Will Students Make the Grade in an Education for the World Ahead? The Erroneous Dilemma Between Testing and Creativity, The Journal for Quality and Participation, April 2009
Classroom Lessons Learned, Quality Progress, January 2008
A New Approach to Business Partnerships, Association of California School Administrators Leadership, November/December 2006
Posted by Robin, a resident of the Martens-Carmelita neighborhood, on Oct 30, 2009 at 8:27 am Robin is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
These little ads at the bottom of this page are too funny! Especially the one about the Educational Administration program at Pepperdine "with a Christian Faith Perspective"....the MVWSD trustees may not have been able to find legal cause to fire MG but I'm guessing his employers at Pepperdine U will be none too pleased that one of their Adjunct Professors apparently feels that two of those Ten Commandments don't apply to him....
Decoding The Male Mind
The 7 hidden secrets to why they do what they do - Free Advice
Have Romance & The Relationship You Want! 5 Tools For More Romance
K-12 Principal in 1 Year
M.S. Degree in K-12 Administration with a Christian Faith Perspective
Posted by Disillusioned, a resident of another community, on Oct 30, 2009 at 11:39 am Disillusioned is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Can anyone explain why the Superintendent ‘issue’ didn’t make the front page? There were about 30 responses (and 8,300 views to date!) to this issue and 5, 2 & 1 responses to the issues which did make the front page. Was this part of an agreement between the editor & the Superintendent?
Did anyone else notice that approximately 10 posts disappeared from this forum under ‘Change on Horizon for MV Whisman’ (10/7/09)? If your comment was one of the ones removed, I would contact the Voice and ask why. Interestingly enough, most of the removed comments referred to Continuous Improvement (CI). Was this also at the request of the Superintendent? CI is, after all, what the Superintendent will anchor his consulting career to when he leaves the district, most likely next summer. Is this why he is more intent upon meeting with local corporate executives than teachers? It was also interesting to note that the Voice held off publishing anything about the Superintendent’s relationship until he was able to sit down with the editor & control what was published. Is the privilege of controlling the local press afforded to anyone else in the community? It certainly wasn’t afforded to Mrs. P.
Posted by Disillusioned, a resident of another community, on Oct 30, 2009 at 12:38 pm Disillusioned is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
No. I don't think he wanted you to write the story, but he knew you would write it anyway, so better to be a part of it.
Your explanation referring to the "editor's note" does not seem to explain the removal of approximately 10 entire posts, unless they were all posted by the same person. I don't think that was the case as they were up there for some time.
To refer to my last 'complaint' as 'strange' is strange (and facetious) in itself! My point was, and is, that the article 'Change on Horizon for MV Whisman' dated 10/11, generated a lot of comments and yet the subsequent article wasn't posted until 10/26.
It is also 'strange' that you have not responded to my comment about it making the front page, other than to say it was not at the Superintendent's request.
Posted by Don Frances, Mountain View Voice Editor, on Oct 30, 2009 at 1:59 pm Don Frances is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
The one issue by "Disillusioned" I didn't address already is the idea that this should have been front page news based on how many comments it's getting on the Web site.
If we based our front page story picks on how many online comments the stories got, the other two for this week would have been "Police: Traffic stop uncovers meth, hash, pot" and "Man beaten unconscious in downtown mugging," both of which are minor crime briefs.
I can't control what readers find to be the most comment-worthy, but no newspaper I know of uses "number of online comments" as their determination for what goes on the front page.
Posted by Ray, a resident of the Castro City neighborhood, on Oct 30, 2009 at 8:57 pm Ray is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
This whole arrangement by the board is bogus and defies common sense and a grasp of human nature. It will prove to be a disaster for this school district and anyone's ability to lead or maintain a cohesive team or effort. Anyone who thinks a conflict of interest doesn't still exist, doesn't understand the meaning of the term when applied to public office and organizations. It's absolute poison, poison, poison for getting anything done or mobilizing this educational community at a time when it needs it most. I just can't see Ghysels sitting down for coffee with moms in the district and building community, nor with teachers on a professional level. I just can't. This, after he had his wife pushing his agenda and devoting so many hours to volunteer at the schools to read and tutor! How would anyone with a sense of decency even be able to look this guy in the eye after that and get back on his agenda? While apparently the board would, I doubt that the many parents that bring valuable time and money into the district would be able to stomach this deceitful personality. Use and abuse and dump is what it's called. All for his vainglory. If he really cared about the schools and the children, he would never have put the district in this situation. I challenge anyone to deny this fact. It just diminishes everyone else's professionalism, sincerity, and dedication to the schools to get involved with this guy as their leader.
Oh, and did I forget to mention that both the Ghysels and Mizell lack class and a sense of propriety, among other things? What presumption to think that neither one of them should have sought work elsewhere over the summer when their relationship so-called "evolved". What dereliction of public office for the board to not have dismissed one of them. What prevented them from doing so, I cannot guess. Give us all a break here. What kind of gibberish is that? Their sense of entitlement is simply appalling. Their claims to remaining professional is purely self-serving, unauthentic, and unbelievable. What else would they possibly say under such circumstances? The school board's naivety is simply staggering. They had a chance to deal with this over the summer, and they punted. Cowards.
More serious yet, readers should really go to the links provided by the editor in the article and read past statements by Ghysels regarding the hiring and appointments of this principal and consider the "what ifs", since his motivations and statements for past actions are all now tainted and suspect. Everything that has taken place or transpired between these two individuals must be viewed as fruit from the poisonous tree--i.e., any statements they make regarding the length, type, or circumstances of this relationship must be considered suspect. The board should review all hires, appointments, firings, and sexual harassment complaints for inconsistency and undue influence. The HR superintendent clearly is outmatched by this situation, or lacks a spine, or perhaps conveniently has forgotten the difference between right and wrong while she puts her bets on the superintendent for keeping her on the payroll. Of course he will, and everyone else in the "gang of four" for that matter for supporting him in this situation, past, present, and future. It will turn out to be quite a vicious circle. In the meantime, teachers and staff who are all well-informed on this subject by now will just shake off any statements, actions and programs by this superintendent as lacking sincerity. His words will ring hollow while they question how much of his gargantuan ego is involved. The district might as well not even have a superintendent at this point. Confine him to his office or send him on his way with his salary for the rest of the year until his contract ends next summer.
By the way, who wrote this principal's last three evaluations anyway? Sounds as if he did. Do they need to be reviewed and possible rewritten? How do the other principals in this district feel about these special arrangements? And since the board has given a pass to all this, what happens when the relationship that has so-called "evolved" goes suddenly sour? (At least we know she can't be fired since she now has tenure and can stay on as a teacher who hasn't taught for more than 15 years.) Will this piece-of-work of a principal turn the tables on the board and district and claim sexual harassment for the second time? But this time against the superintendent? She has made it quite public at the Landels school site, and to anyone else who lends an ear, that she is battling a health condition. Boy, even I would feel sympathetic if she woke up tomorrow and claimed this whole sordid affair was pushed upon her by the superintendent during a difficult time when her defenses were down and her sense of judgement impaired. And then the board allowed the unprofessional relationship to be perpetuated, officially sanctioned, ect. Is someone going to tell me they all took a pact and promised not to ever think that the fairytale might end? I'd say dump the rascal, girl, and go for the money. Sue the superintendent for sexual harassment and the district for sanctioning it! You've got a golden case.
And what happens when another teacher or principal gets up and starts screaming claims of unfair preferential treatment? Has it not just been built-in and sanctioned by the board? Is not the district opening itself up to lawsuits for preferential treatment? What about new teachers that this principal currently or has once supervised, evaluated, or sought to get rid of? Was there a fast-track arrangement in place to get all her actions sanctioned by the superintendent who then directed Totter to do the dirty work, no questions asked? And as brought up above, what about the applicant who was pushed aside when this principal was hired? Does anyone find it suspicious that one of this principal's first actions during her first year was to level a charge of sexual harassment against a very hard-working and decent man who had long history of volunteering and working at Castro school? What actions has the board taken to investigate those circumstances? Where was the board's new-found sympathetic ear and newly-crafted definitions of professional behavior for those individuals? Or rather, how much dirt has Totter been using to cover up these episodes. Shame on them all. Shame.
Since the school board doesn't have the moral courage to address this on-going conflict of interest for a public official, perhaps a letter to the Civil Grand Jury with this article as proof of the ridiculous statements made by these public officials would get the ball rolling. As for everyone else, get out the popcorn and get ready for a long show, because I would guess we've only seen the beginning of problems stemming from all this!
Posted by no, a resident of another community, on Oct 30, 2009 at 10:37 pm no is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
To top it off, my understanding is that the school board gave him a raise this summer. Class sizes are slated to increase next year, and teachers haven't had a salary boost in quite a while. I hope the board starts listening to the community it represents. I think they are out of touch with what's really going on.
Posted by Mo, a resident of another community, on Oct 31, 2009 at 10:58 pm Mo is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Robin, here's an excerpt from a post, previously removed, criticizing CI, and that has been circulating in the school district community the last few days, only to inject some levity and humor into all this. Readers can also find it on the San Jose Mercury News website forum.
Top Ten Key Strategies of Superintendent Letterman's latest CI Deployment Plan
10. Arrives at your school humming Love Train by the O'Jays. (Yes, the Landel's website video actually does have Love Train as the theme song. LOL Don't believe me, check it out for yourself.)
9. Asks you if you'd like an EFWA sticker on your bumper.
8. Gives you personal coaching on how to be a CI "quality employee" and get ahead.
7. Is always talking about his Big Rocks management theory.
6. Ask you to come over to help film a clip for the next "all-hands" meeting.
5. Asks you to come to his office and discuss SMART goals--Stretching, Measurable, Attainable, Rewarding, Timely.
4. Leaves you wondering why he keeps saying "you have to go fast to go slow."
3. Asks you to be on his staff.
2. Reassigns you to a choice position after you've blown your job.
1. Leaves your school on his moped with a smile.
Just goes to show you how the philanderer's credibility and corporate jargon are on the slide down. Doesn't exactly bode well for CI. I'd say the superintendent brought it all on himself.
I wonder what Doctor Phil would say. Maybe we could get these two on the program! Not that I'd ever admit that I watch such trashy TV.
Kinda' nuts that there's no policy on this type of thing. The Voice should do a FOIA for personnel policies. I recall there having been one on this type of issue couple years back--no doubt found it's way to the shredder. Totter seems to be spinning on this one. Someone throw her a line! This is getting too embarrassing. Personnel policy and HR in this district is really getting complicated. Anyone know this year's total for legal fees for all this mismanagement? Quite a culture we got over there at the DO.
BTW, isn't it funny how teachers and staff are always the last to get credit for any improvement in test scores, or school improvement, or when they do, it's with equal helping of credit given (ergo, taken) to/by the supe?
On a similar note, I reviewed Ghysels' articles on his padded MVWSD bio that Robin created a link to. FYI Dr. Ghysels, professional protocol says list your co-authors on the so-called publications you list. On his 3-page "article" in the quite august ACSA newsletter, he conveniently left off his co-author. Tisk, tisk, tisk. Another white lie. But wait a minute, does that ACSA newsletter even really count as a publication? And Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine? Down in LA? Don't tell me it's the online program. Quick, call up tech and let's find out how many times during the work day he's been logging on to that IP address instead of doing the job he was hired to do.
BTW, I hope MVWSD parents understand the "Mmmm. Mmmm, Mmmm" behind Continuous Improvement, otherwise termed "CI" It's historical predecessor is F. W. Taylor's concept of scientific management--quite a controversial subject. It more commonly falls today within corporate American management strategies such as Lean Six Sigma. I know this is off topic, but in light of all this, do we really want teachers and students to be manipulated in such a way? I agree with Robin, and get the feeling this entire CI thing is more about Ghysels setting up for his next big career gig than about truly caring about providing a quality education for students.
(Yawn, it's getting late)
The term professionalism and conflict of interest are getting pretty battered here. Wasn't Ghsyels hired when Gloria Higgins was on the board? And now Ghsyels and Mizell are, or were, in a professional or romantic relationship which is now back to being professional (yes, confusing, I know). And now Mizell hires Higgins to be a teacher. I'm sure they'll be quck to give her tenure as well with all the history and palm greasing among them. How hard would it have been for Higgins to apply to a neighboring school district to avoid the specter of preferential treatment? The Higgins-Ghysels-Mizell thing gives a whole new meaning to the term circle of friends. I'm noticing some disturbing trends and circumstances. Privileges and entitlements all around. Dr. titles bantered about in a community with one of the highest concentrations of MDs, PhDs, EDds, JDs (although I'm left wondering where Trustee Wheeler got her JD given her no fault finding regarding a conflict of interest.)
I think some one said if before; the public is not stupid.
Oh, and lastly, no Don, this is not a repeat post and I do not know Robin or Ray. I am a first time poster. I've posted a few times in the past under some different names on different topics but only because I can never remember the names I've used. I'm not even sure what neighborhood I live in. BTW registering is a real pain. Who's got the time or the interest. Too bad you don't make everyone do it, not just those commenting on Ghysels. It would have been nice if you had given Ms. Polifrone's detractors the same obstacles. And I'm not saying I supported her either. Don't get me wrong, I think I understand your intent and responsibilities as an editor, but not your separate and unequal treatment and the double-standard.
Posted by localmom, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Nov 1, 2009 at 6:23 am localmom is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
This is from the State Bar of California: "Judgment: A judgment ending your marriage can be entered six (6) months from the day your spouse is served with the summons and petition." In other words, I think that two mature adults who know that their marriages are OVER should end them FIRST, before getting involved with anyone else, particularly their employees or superiors. In addition, I agree with many posters that one party should step down, and the Board should be scrambling right now to set a new policy for such occurances in the future.
One more comment on the Ms. P issue since it keeps coming up. My kids did not have her BUT they had a similar teacher in a different district who was a very angry individual and controlled her classroom by yelling and intimidation.
After many months of study and complaints to various Boards with no action, here is what I suggest if an authority figure continues to misuse your child's belongings, verbally insult them, belittle them, intimidate them, and is not removed from their position:
Call Child Protective Services. They can be contacted ANONYMOUSLY and are duty bound to investigate.
File a police protective order. Let the district figure out how to keep this individual 500 yards away from your child.
File charges with MVPD for harassment and intimidation of a child.
Good luck and thanks for listening. For those of you who think her teaching style is perfectly appropriate, don't follow my suggestions!
Posted by OhMy!, a resident of the Waverly Park neighborhood, on Nov 1, 2009 at 8:08 pm OhMy! is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
MVWSD has been bamboozled by its superintendent once again.
First he tricked the district with the promise of Continuous Improvement (CI), a misguided business practice that heaps unnecessary work on our teachers and makes our kids victims of his self-aggrandizing experiment. I believe CI is not widely recognized or used in elementary schools elsewhere like it is in Mountain View.
Our superintendent’s promise was the treat of improved academic performance across the district. Instead what we see are families with the means (yes even from Huff) fleeing to public schools (not private) in our neighboring towns while the remaining children are stuck with meaningless homework that does not challenge students based on their skill sets and actual academic levels.
In the age of Letterman type relationship scandals (when is having sexual relations with your employees ever ok?) we’re being fooled into thinking that moving one principal into her own reporting structure will somehow make things right.
My question is when will our school board step up and actually “manage” (how about using CI?) these tricksters and get some real educators in place who can empower the schools, administrators and teachers to help our youngsters achieve the greatness that they are capable of and make MVWSD a destination of choice?
Posted by Lisa, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Nov 1, 2009 at 10:24 pm Lisa is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
I am shocked that there is no policy in place regarding this situation. Most corporate jobs have policies prohibiting relationships with supervisors. As public figures who represent our youth, I would also think that there would be moral and ethical codes that must be followed.
How long was this going on before the board was notified? I am guessing a long, long time. They did not approach the board until they felt their relationship was long term. Not that an affair is illegal or anything, but shouldn't we expect some morals from our role models? These people are repsonsible for our children.
Just a note... Both of them didn't even file for divorce until August!
So its not like they had pending divorces. Their spouses didn't even find out until the board did. How do two people who are supposed to be professionals even end up in this situation?
It is their private lives, but it has now become public. Although there may not be a specific policy regarding this behavior, they both knew it was wrong and unprofessional. It has now tainted the school and district. Because of that, I think they should both step down. Its nothing personal, but our schools do not need this type of distraction.
Posted by Disillusioned, a resident of another community, on Nov 2, 2009 at 11:08 am Disillusioned is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
I apologize for the length of my posting and for repeating what others have already said, but I am also feeling used, bamboozled and disillusioned, and this forum offers one of the few forums to vent.
In reference to some earlier comments:
“Romance in the office place is a fact of life in the 21st century—we no longer live in 17th century colonial America and pin red letters on people and lock them up in the stock.”
Whilst that is true, it is worth noting that both parties were and are still married AND, not only is it a supervisor/subordinate situation, but it is the Superintendent, the CEO of the organization. Yes. I do believe a higher standard is expected and should be required. The chain of command has only been very superficially altered. There isn’t an employee in the district who now doesn’t have to be mindful of the relationship between the Superintendent & the principal involved. If there is nothing that prohibits this type of relationship according to the Superintendent’s conditions of employment, it is a glaring oversight and needs to be amended. I believe anyone who thinks that the Superintendent can continue to function as before, is either naïve or an over-zealous supporter.
“Teaching & modeling responsible behavior” and “demonstrating responsible, respectful behavior & dignity in a public & professional arena.”
The Superintendent clearly failed on all counts. There was certainly no “dignity, responsible & respectful behavior” afforded to the superintendent’s smart, charming & supportive spouse, who has become a more valued & respected member of the community than the Superintendent himself. Some relationships are simply off-limits, at least until you have the decency to formally separate from your spouse, AND in this case, one of you leaves the district. If a person cannot make rational, intelligent decisions at this stage in their life about an appropriate versus inappropriate workplace relationship, one is inclined to question their professional judgment & character. In such a situation one’s personal life cannot & should not be separated from their professional life. One is clearly indicative of the other and vice-versa.
“It is undeniable that under Maurice Ghysels’ leadership as superintendent, every school in the District has made great strides in student achievement as demonstrated by test scores.”
Fact: The District is now a ‘Program Improvement’ district. In several schools the same sub-groups continue to thrive and the same sub-groups continue to struggle, as recently acknowledged by the Associate Superintendent.
“There is far greater consistency in teaching and in what is taught from class to class and school to school than there was when Maurice assumed the helm.”
In a district with such diversity, a ‘one size fits all’ is not the answer. Last year the District decided to unilaterally increase the number of minutes of math, regardless of whether a particular school, grade, class or student needed more math or language arts.
The Superintendent’s obsession, Continuous Improvement (CI), is a complete distraction for the teachers and consequently the students. The vast majority of MVWSD teachers are its greatest resource. Ask them directly how to help their students IN the classroom. Trust them. Do not waste their precious time on ineffective CI ‘projects’. The district is in denial if it believes that staff can express honest opinions, especially if it involves criticizing CI.
The superintendent role is a high profile position, something which the current superintendent has fully embraced. Whilst he may now not appreciate his personal life being under such close scrutiny, I think people’s visceral reaction to his adulterous relationship is indicative of a pent-up frustration with a superficial, corporate-like approach to education which ignores more basic, common-sense needs and approaches.
Posted by Disillusioned, a resident of another community, on Nov 2, 2009 at 11:20 am Disillusioned is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
In response to the Editor's earlier comments "I can't control what readers find to be the most comment-worthy, but no newspaper I know of uses "number of online comments" as their determination for what goes on the front page":
Perhaps the Voice should determine, in part, what goes on the front page based on what readers find comment or view-worthy. What is so outlandish about putting something on the front page of a community newspaper that the community finds relevant and interesting?
Posted by Ray, a resident of the Castro City neighborhood, on Nov 3, 2009 at 7:14 pm Ray is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Wheeler: "We had a closed session with an attorney," adding that she can't give specifics on personnel matters discussed in closed session.
Translation: "Even though everyone knows by now that I'm a lawyer, let's just be thankful we have a high-priced lawyer advising us, because this could destroy this district. We'll just take the cost out of school supplies and raises for teachers and staff. 'Closed session' and 'can't give the specifics on personnel matters', saves us every time. Yes, it would have been nice to have saved the public from all the nitty gritty as well, but since the people in Mountain View aren't exactly the kind to ever show up to a school board meeting, or even run for school board, who really cares? Three of the five of us trustees either ran uncontested or were appointed. With that kind of community involvement, we can do and say, or not say, whatever we like. Did I tell you I'm a lawyer too?"
Wheeler: "Maurice told us that he was going to ask another supervisor in our district office to be the supervisor of Carmen."
Translation: "Listen folks, Dr. Ghysels is a god. If he hasn't told you himself, just read his resume and all about his numerous accomplishments. He's got all the answers, all the time. He's everywhere, all the time. He's a member or advisor to MVEF, CHAC, CSA, PAL, Leadership Mountain View--the list goes on--even the local Catholic Church! He's got a brilliant opinion and answer to everything. He sings. He plays the guitar. He bikes to Sacramento. He's a consultant. He's an adjunct professor somewhere. He can do one-handed kart wheels, stand on his head, and sign the national anthem backwards--in Spanish! He can even fly! He is continuously improving! Whatever he says goes."
Wheeler: Noted that the issue was unprecedented for her. "This is the first time it's come up."
Translation: "The safe answer is to pretend this is all just new. Of course, we are all afraid it is not, and that there are other victims of his dalliances still in the closet. Yikes, get back on the phone with that lawyer! And yes, I realize that there is a close parallel with the recent Letterman scandal, and yes I realize that the National Organization of Woman spoke out against Letterman, and would most likely have a few things to say about Ghysels, but hey, who cares what such woman's groups think anyway, particularly when it has to do with education. You'd think the profession was made up mostly of women or something. Geeez"
Wheeler: "From what Maurice has described to me, and what Carmen has described to me, and what I have observed, I think that they have behaved appropriately and done the right thing by informing us."
Translation: "Okay, I'll admit I could have done without all the description. And yes, I had to follow them around and observe them in action (to tell you the truth, I would have much preferred chaperoning a middle school dance). But hey, I hired this guy, I've paraded around with him, drunk the CI Kool-Aid, and tuned-out a lot of loyal, experienced, and hardworking teachers in the process. Beyond that, I don't want to slam any doors on maybe getting a guaranteed job in this district when I get off the board just like Gloria Higgins did, so there is no way I'm going lift the curtain on this guy and put an end to the gravy train. In terms or being either right or wrong, or him having done the 'right thing', it all depends on how Maurice spins it. In this instance, he's right, although I'll admit his wife doesn't necessarily agree. What does it mean to the do the 'right thing' anyway? Our only concern is giving kids an 'education for the world ahead'--EFWA for short if you didn't already know. Let's face it, no one does the 'right thing' anymore these days in this world anyway, so let's not start here. Get over it everybody!"
Wheeler: "We're doing what I think is our due diligence to ensure that they're behaving professionally on the job."
Translation: "Again, my job as trustee is to make sure these two frisky kittens behave. I'm not supposed to hold them accountable or ensure that the public trust is being protected. We have no way of controlling their behavior. But if they are caught misbehaving, they will be spanked and given a time out. I could give a hoot about what the public thinks should happen, or if a conflict of interest still exists."
Totter: "There is no written board policy."
Translation: "I haven't a clue about how to run human resources. I was a teacher and a principal before this job, so cut me some slack already. I make this up as I go. I've got the lawyers on speed-dial. I'll just say 'there is no written baard policy', or 'it's a personnel matter'. That shuts them up every time. It worked when I had to deal with that Polifrone teacher, so it'll work here as well (and what a PAIN that Polifrone issue was--all those parents with opinions and complaints distracting me from my CI goals)."
Totter: Said the district takes its cue on personnel matters from the California School Boards Association, which gives "any updates of any board policies that we're either mandated to have or recommended to have." But the association has provided no guidance on this issue.
Translation: "I couldn't possibly research this any further. I couldn't possibly consider the ethics and morality mixed up in all this. Hello? It's not like I ever really taught school and nutured such out-dated concepts. I don't read the paper or watch the news either. What am I supposed to do, stand up and say, excuse me I disagree with this arrangement? I take my cues from Maurice. He makes me do all the dirty work. When it comes to firing people for no reason at all, other than that he doesn't like them because they don't respond to his mojo, he makes sure I'm right there with him in the process to make it all appear legal and give them the party line that they're "just not the right match" for us. And as far as enforcing board or personnel polices, everyone knows a double-standard exists. If a teacher has an illness, don't believe them. They're all a bunch of liars. Cut them no slack. If you have an afternoon doctor's appointment after school is out, but before contract time is over, make them take a half-day. But if the superintendent's lover has got health issues, we will be there for her. She can go to her doctor's appointments in the morning or afternoon. We won't cut into her sick leave. Get to work at 9 or 10 and leave early. Look, it's really quite simple, administrators don't lie or manipulate things, only teachers do. Gosh at least give me some credit for knowing that!"
Ghysels: "We wanted to make sure that it was handled professionally, and that everyone was sure there was no conflict of interest."
Translation: "We got caught, we are circling the wagons, and conducting damage control. I've reminded my staff that this is a bad economy for them to be looking for a job, so they'd better stick with me or else."
Ghysels: "I changed the reporting structure from Carmen-to-me to Carmen-to-Mary Lairon."
Translation: "I can always count on the people I supervise to do what I tell them otherwise I'd fire them on the spot. Hee, hee, after all, I ultimately call all the shots in this district even if I did just state that the reporting structure has been changed. One thing I insist is that we cover each other's rumps."
Ghysels: "Because we have a personal relationship, it makes more sense that (Mizell) reports directly to Mary," Ghysels said. Now, "Mary evaluates her, Mary supervises her."
Translation: "I've got no problem dragging my staff into my problems and making it theirs. I'm not much of a man to go it alone. It's lonely at the top. Just as we do at beginning of the year during district-wide kick-off meetings, everyone raise your right hand and repeat after me in a chant, 'Mary evaluates Carmen, Mary supervises Carmen. I evaluate Mary, I supervise Mary.' It just doesn't get much better than that. The board, teachers, staff, and public are so lost, they'll never figure this one out."
Ghysels: Is "dedicated to maintaining a professional relationship with Carmen at work."
Translation: "I'll control myself at work, but the gloves come off after hours.
Ghysels: Said that [Mizell's] reassignment, which happened in the early fall of 2008, "wasn't done in isolation. That was a reorganizational move."
Translation: "Get over it folks. She gave me what I wanted, and then she told me what she wanted, and I gave her Landels. And now everyone wants to give me grief about it. Oh please, just spare me the lectures. I've got a divorce lawyer making my life hell if you didn't already know!"
Ghysels: "We played to the strengths of all three administrators. And I think the results speak for themselves. It was a totally agreed-upon move by all three. And it worked."
Translation: "Did I just say 'we'? That's it! I'll say "we" and imply this was all a conspiracy. As far as results, it's all due to the principals and moving them around. Teachers have nothing to do with it. Gosh, if I could just shut-up those teachers. They are such pains, especially the ones that, you know, don't 'respond' to me."
Ghysels: "That's why the reporting structure to Mary is important," he said. "And I'll have to be particularly diligent."
Translation: "I don't know what I'd do without Mary's complicity. I could give a hoot if I'm dragging or involving any of them in all this. I mean, we're talking about ME here! My butt's in a sling. Heck, I could get fired for this! What have I got to lose? I'll hold everyone's feet to the fire. If I go down, you're all coming with me! I just can't believe it was so easy to sway everyone over to my side."
Ghysels: "My professional life remains focused on MY GOALS for the students, for the staff, for the community. And my personal life will not affect my professional aims."
Translation: "Look, MY GOALS for everyone are what is important here, so don't go connecting the way I act with with I got planned for you all. I can't make any guarantees. I'm, well, you know, me. I've got an eye for the ladies. Prior to this I had my wife fully involved in MY GOALS for the community. Okay, I'll admit that one sort of back-fired on me, but hey, she's obviously got issues. I'd better make a clear distinction between my personal and professional life from now on." I'm a professional! I am a professional! So come on y'all, get on board the love train!"
Ghysels: "We have a personal life, and it's private."
Translation: "Look, me and one of my subordinates have been *#&$^#*@ (some call it being "romantically involved"). So I've got to say something. I'd have preferred to have kept it concealed--I mean private--but I needed my 2% raise, so I had to divulge it. Otherwise, if I was found out, I would have been in deep doo-doo. Yes, I know I keep saying it's my personal life and it's private. I basically want it both ways, so stop treating me like a middle-schooler."
Mizell: No comment on record.
Translation: But she certainly turned out to be a perfect role model and example to set for female Hispanics.
Posted by localmom, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Nov 3, 2009 at 7:57 pm localmom is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Dear readers, I have just one more thing to add. Do not feel that your voice will go unheard if you truly feel that there is actual misconduct occuring on the part of any teacher or administrator. All professional educators must renew their credentials periodicaly through the state of California. Their website is: Web Link. On the left hand side is a tab for "Educator Discipline". Anyone with first-hand knowledge of an act of misconduct may file a complaint through this website.
Posted by Lisa, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Nov 4, 2009 at 6:56 am Lisa is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
There is a school board meeting Thursday, November 5th at 7:00pm. It is at the district office: 750A San Pierre Way.
I urge everyone to attend this school board meeting and demand accountability for the actions of Ghysels and Mizell. Although there are no specific rules about sleeping with the boss, there are ethical and moral standards for personnel. While they may want to spin this as just a "romantic relationship", lets call it what it is; an affair between two married public figures within the same chain of command. They approached the board in July, and yet no one even filed for divorce until August. It was Ghysels wife who filed for divorce, and Carmen was still living with her husband until the end of July. Its not like these people were separated and currently in the process of divorces. They were both married.
When is it ever appropriate to have an affair with the boss? Now that they have dragged everyone ito this, what is going to happen if and when they break up? This is a mess for the district, and it should be handled. I don't get why the board is standing behind them. What does that say about the people trying to teach and influence our children? We need to demand action! One or both of them need to resign.
Please attend the school board meeting to make your concerns known. A complaint can be filed against any employee of the district, and I urge everyone to write formal complaints against both Ghysels and Mizell.
Posted by Juana, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Nov 4, 2009 at 5:40 pm Juana is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Mr. Gyhsels and Ms. Mizell need to play a game of "Rock, Paper, Scissors" to choose which one steps down from their position. Be respectful of your community, make a good decision, and be responsible. These should be easy rules for you to embrace and follow.