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."