Nelson walks out as school board votes to censure him

Mountain View Whisman board votes 4-0 to censure embattled trustee

Though he walked out of last night's meeting before all four of his colleagues voted to censure him, it was clear that Steven Nelson, the embattled Mountain View Whisman School District trustee, had seen the writing on the wall.

With a few modifications, MVWSD trustees Ellen Wheeler, Bill Lambert, Phil Palmer and Chris Chiang approved the "Censure of Trustee Steven Nelson," shortly before 10 p.m. on Oct. 3.

But Nelson was already gone -- walking out of the meeting about 10 minutes before the remaining trustees cast their votes. Earlier in the meeting, Nelson told the board that he had a flight to catch the following morning and therefore wanted to get home before it got late.

"Guys, go ahead and do it," Nelson said, before packing up his things. "I'm leaving... Now. You guys can tell me what your vote is."

At that point in the night, however, it had already become clear that all four of his colleagues were prepared to vote for the censure motion. Palmer, who had previously expressed reservations about the idea of condemning Nelson for certain charges he deemed less serious, made it clear early on that he was prepared to support a censure, as he felt that many of the allegations facing Nelson were serious. In particular, Palmer said he was upset with a March 28 incident in which Nelson raised his voice and used profanity in the district office after a meeting with MVLA Superintendent Craig Goldman got heated.

While acknowledging he deserved to be censured for a number of transgressions -- including that March incident -- Nelson defended himself against other accusations he considered to be baseless or trivial.

Nelson insisted that he had not crossed any lines when he publicly expressed his dissatisfaction with Superintendent Craig Goldman in an interview with the Voice. The trustee said he was doing his job when he raised suspicions that the District Advisory Committee -- a group of involved community members that advises Goldman on ground-level developments at each of the district's schools -- was illegally constituted.

Nelson succeed in getting his colleagues to strike a paragraph in the censure's supporting evidence document which stated he had violated board bylaws by raising his concerns over the District Advisory Committee. He did not succeed in getting them to strike or adjust the charge that he had been out of line in expressing his disagreement with Goldman when speaking to the Voice.

In addition to serving as an official statement of the board's condemnation of Nelsons behavior, the censure also carried with it a punishment. Nelson has been removed from his position as the clerk for the board and of his position as observer for the board at meetings of district committees.

At the conclusion of the meeting, both Goldman and Lambert expressed satisfaction that the censure had been approved.

"I'm grateful to the board in its support for a respectful and productive environment for our students, our community members and our employees," Goldman said after the meeting.

"I value him (Nelson) having statements and having differences of opinion, like all the other board members," Lambert said. "But, what really is important, when you're communicating those (differences of opinion) is that you show respect for others." In Lambert's opinion, Nelson had not demonstrated the kind of respect and professionalism he should have in his interactions with the board, district staff members and the community.

When asked what he hoped would come of the censure in the future, Lambert had a one word answer: "Civility."


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Posted by Richard
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Well done everyone. Now let's move on as a productive team and get important things done.

Like this comment
Posted by reader
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Doesn't it seem like the Voice is giving a little too much attention to this? Is it really THAT big a deal?

1 person likes this
Posted by @ Reader
a resident of Jackson Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Yes, it is a big deal in Mtn View. I appreciate that they told the whole story so we know what happened. Now, I assume, it is over.

Like this comment
Posted by Greg Coladonato
a resident of Slater
on Oct 4, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Greg Coladonato is a registered user.

Now that the district is videoing its meetings, those of us who weren't able to make the meeting in person, still have a chance to see what happened first hand:

Item IV-F: Resolution No. 1521.10/13, Censure of Trustee Steven Nelson
Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Quesstioning
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 4:46 pm

I'm just questioning: Isn't it the duty of all of us, especially a school board trustee, to raise any and all concerns over the District Advisory Committee, or anyone or any branch of government that affects our schools so we have a sort of checks and balances system in place? I mean, really, are we all not supposed to ever question those who are supposed to serve us?

6 people like this
Posted by UC Davis Grad
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Oct 4, 2013 at 7:14 pm

@Quesstioning: Which part of Steve Nelson acting like an immature jerk do you NOT get? Nelson's behavior had very little to do with being an advocate for a particular viewpoint, and more to do with being someone stuck at an emotional age of 14.

6 people like this
Posted by Clinical Psy.
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 5, 2013 at 6:12 am

This guy is a drama queen who just does not get it. His best intentions are ruined by his immature overly dramatic tantrums and inability to work with others. No mater what your job or your message, if you act like Steve Nelson, you are your own worst enemy when you try to convince people you are right.
Its not the message, its the immature behavior. Check you behavior and you may actually notice people start listening to your message.

Like this comment
Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 5, 2013 at 6:33 am

Way to be an adult Mr. Nelson. Stomp out like a little kid when you're about to get in trouble.

This doesn't lead me to believe he's going to calm down.

31 people like this
Posted by Still Stuck with the Jerk
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 26, 2016 at 7:00 pm

And he's still doing harm in our school district!

Anyone who has doubts about Nelson being a jerk should plan on attending a few Board meetings prior to the next election. See for yourself so you can make an informed decision come next elections.

You can watch the videos but it's not the same as being there.

15 people like this
Posted by And he does it again
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 6, 2016 at 2:25 pm

Nelson walked out again during the May 19 meeting. This time not because he was censured (although he deserves to be again), but because he didn't get his way. Check out the video at at about 3:30 in to meeting to see the exchange.

13 people like this
Posted by To anyone who wants best for MVWSD
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 6, 2016 at 5:01 pm

Please go to one meeting or watch 10 minutes online. Look for Steven Nelson and Greg Caldonado.
See if you'd like to vote for them in the next election
Actually, don't take my suggestions. Look at EVERYONE and see if you want them back. It's sincerely important.

2 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 7, 2016 at 10:58 am

The deadline for candidates to file to run for seats on local councils and boards is early August. Let's get some good candidates to run. For those especially critical of Steve Nelson, note that he has said he will not be seeking re-election. Running merely against Mr. Nelson or on generalities should not suffice. There are serious decisions to be made. Candidates should have and state their views on such matters as reopening Slater and addressing the reality that far fewer families with lower-to-middle income will be able to remain in Mountain View as residential rents soar.

1 person likes this
Posted by Old timer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 7, 2016 at 1:50 pm

For all of you to put blame solely on Mr. Nelson is insane.
Wheeler is the most unprofessional on board. Clearly bias and long winded. It's time for a mature board.
representatives without a personal agenda, for all the students.

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