News

Parents shocked, upset over removal of four principals

Mountain View Whisman community reacts with petitions, protests

School communities throughout the Mountain View Whisman School District are demanding answers after a surprise move by school board members last week to remove four school principals from their posts.

In an email sent Friday, March 2, Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph told parents that the board approved "several administrative changes" effective June 30, including the removal of Landels Elementary School Principal Steve Chesley, Theuerkauf Elementary Principal Ryan Santiago, Mistral Elementary Principal Marcela Simoes de Carvalho and Graham Middle School Principal Kim Thompson, all of whom were "offered another position in the district."

District officials have declined to comment on why the decision was made, citing confidentiality surrounding personnel issues.

Since the announcement, parents have rallied together and launched petitions to reinstate both Thompson and Chesley, and say the school communities have a right to know why the district office and the school board are replacing top administrators from nearly half of the district's nine schools in one fell swoop.

Graham parent Alan Wessel, whose online petition to retain Thompson as principal has already received more than 700 signatures, said Thompson made strides to turn Graham in the wonderful, high-achieving school it is today. Thompson has worked "tirelessly" to support all community members, particularly the less-privileged children enrolled in the school.

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"As a parent, I'm devastated, because I can't imagine Graham without Kim Thompson," Wessel told the Voice. "And I can't understand how this kind of a decision could be made without consultation of the Graham community."

Graham PTA president Hafsa Mirza said she and other parents were "shocked" by the news, and that Thompson has been engaged administrator who has been deeply involved in PTA and English Language Advisory Committee (ELAC) meetings during her tenure. Parents are uneasy to see her leave, she said, particularly when the district is poised to adopt a new eight-period schedule next year.

"This is something where the district owes parents an explanation," Mirza said. "Whatever their decision is based on, I think it's very important that we are given background on why this is happening so suddenly, with all the changes coming."

Graham ELAC president Janett Campos told the Voice that she's been receiving a stream of phone calls and text messages from parents worried about Thompson leaving the school, which she said would be a huge loss for the Latino community at Graham. She has not only supported programs like the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE), but has taken the time to show up at every single one of the sessions, Campos said.

During the workshops, Campos said Thompson has made sure to provide families with dinner and child care, as well as tutoring from teachers on site. For families who speak English as a second language or don't have a college education, losing Thompson amounts to losing their top advocate at the school, she said.

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"She has given a voice to the Hispanic community," she said. "We're going to fight, and do what we can to keep fighting for her."

The Friday announcement said that Heidi Galassi, the assistant principal at Graham, has been reassigned to become the new principal of Landels Elementary, and that Santiago has been reassigned as the new assistant principal at Graham. That leaves in place only Assistant Principal Vern Taylor, who was appointed to the position at Graham last October.

As a result, Graham's entire leadership staff will have had little tenure at the school when the new bell schedule launches in August.

A second petition was launched to reinstate Chesley, which garnered close to 300 signatures as of Monday morning. Landels parent and PTA member Claire Blake emailed trustees saying she was "shocked and saddened" by the announcement to remove Chesley as principal, and that parents have been asking her for some kind of explanation.

"All of them were saddened and angry at this news," she said. "The lack of transparency around these changes is not only disappointing, but unfair to our community. The fact that the Landels community was not able to express any opinion on this is upsetting and not acceptable."

Parents are planning to host an open forum on Wednesday, March 7, for the Landels Community, which is being billed as an opportunity to discuss the leadership changes and ways to take action. The event is set to start at 6:30 p.m. at the Madera Lounge in Building B located at 455 W. Evelyn Ave.

Board president Laura Blakely told the Voice in an email that she is limited by the Brown Act and confidentiality protections for personnel, but said the board and district administrators arrived at the "extremely difficult" decision to change leadership at several schools, which she referred to as a "necessary" move to best serve the students at Landels, Mistral, Theuerkauf and Graham.

Blakely said the school board voted to release the principals based on several factors including performance, evaluations, survey results and student academic performance for more than a year, and that each administrator was contacted by district leadership on "multiple occasions" leading up to last Friday's announcement. She said she worked personally with the principals and respects and values their contributions, and that the decision was in the best interest of the students.

"I find the whole situation heartbreaking," Blakely said. "Sadly, popularity and likability on their own are not sufficient to ensure effective instructional leadership and great educational outcomes for kids."

Board members Jose Gutierrez and Tamara Wilson did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and board members Ellen Wheeler and Greg Coladonato declined to comment, deferring to Blakely.

The administrative shuffle comes after a number of key staffing changes in recent years, which has led to new leadership at every single school in the district within the last five years. After June 30, the longest serving district principal will be Terri Lambert, who has led Castro Elementary since the 2013-14 school year.

Galassi rose through the district's ranks from a math coach to being named assistant principal at Graham last year, before district officials named her as the new Landels principal last Friday. Galassi was among the staffers who struggled to implement the district's sixth-grade digital math program Teach To One, which was scrapped partway through the 2016-17 school year after vocal parent opposition and a series of administrative missteps over the handling of its half-million dollar contract.

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Parents shocked, upset over removal of four principals

Mountain View Whisman community reacts with petitions, protests

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Mon, Mar 5, 2018, 1:56 pm
Updated: Tue, Mar 6, 2018, 5:27 pm

School communities throughout the Mountain View Whisman School District are demanding answers after a surprise move by school board members last week to remove four school principals from their posts.

In an email sent Friday, March 2, Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph told parents that the board approved "several administrative changes" effective June 30, including the removal of Landels Elementary School Principal Steve Chesley, Theuerkauf Elementary Principal Ryan Santiago, Mistral Elementary Principal Marcela Simoes de Carvalho and Graham Middle School Principal Kim Thompson, all of whom were "offered another position in the district."

District officials have declined to comment on why the decision was made, citing confidentiality surrounding personnel issues.

Since the announcement, parents have rallied together and launched petitions to reinstate both Thompson and Chesley, and say the school communities have a right to know why the district office and the school board are replacing top administrators from nearly half of the district's nine schools in one fell swoop.

Graham parent Alan Wessel, whose online petition to retain Thompson as principal has already received more than 700 signatures, said Thompson made strides to turn Graham in the wonderful, high-achieving school it is today. Thompson has worked "tirelessly" to support all community members, particularly the less-privileged children enrolled in the school.

"As a parent, I'm devastated, because I can't imagine Graham without Kim Thompson," Wessel told the Voice. "And I can't understand how this kind of a decision could be made without consultation of the Graham community."

Graham PTA president Hafsa Mirza said she and other parents were "shocked" by the news, and that Thompson has been engaged administrator who has been deeply involved in PTA and English Language Advisory Committee (ELAC) meetings during her tenure. Parents are uneasy to see her leave, she said, particularly when the district is poised to adopt a new eight-period schedule next year.

"This is something where the district owes parents an explanation," Mirza said. "Whatever their decision is based on, I think it's very important that we are given background on why this is happening so suddenly, with all the changes coming."

Graham ELAC president Janett Campos told the Voice that she's been receiving a stream of phone calls and text messages from parents worried about Thompson leaving the school, which she said would be a huge loss for the Latino community at Graham. She has not only supported programs like the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE), but has taken the time to show up at every single one of the sessions, Campos said.

During the workshops, Campos said Thompson has made sure to provide families with dinner and child care, as well as tutoring from teachers on site. For families who speak English as a second language or don't have a college education, losing Thompson amounts to losing their top advocate at the school, she said.

"She has given a voice to the Hispanic community," she said. "We're going to fight, and do what we can to keep fighting for her."

The Friday announcement said that Heidi Galassi, the assistant principal at Graham, has been reassigned to become the new principal of Landels Elementary, and that Santiago has been reassigned as the new assistant principal at Graham. That leaves in place only Assistant Principal Vern Taylor, who was appointed to the position at Graham last October.

As a result, Graham's entire leadership staff will have had little tenure at the school when the new bell schedule launches in August.

A second petition was launched to reinstate Chesley, which garnered close to 300 signatures as of Monday morning. Landels parent and PTA member Claire Blake emailed trustees saying she was "shocked and saddened" by the announcement to remove Chesley as principal, and that parents have been asking her for some kind of explanation.

"All of them were saddened and angry at this news," she said. "The lack of transparency around these changes is not only disappointing, but unfair to our community. The fact that the Landels community was not able to express any opinion on this is upsetting and not acceptable."

Parents are planning to host an open forum on Wednesday, March 7, for the Landels Community, which is being billed as an opportunity to discuss the leadership changes and ways to take action. The event is set to start at 6:30 p.m. at the Madera Lounge in Building B located at 455 W. Evelyn Ave.

Board president Laura Blakely told the Voice in an email that she is limited by the Brown Act and confidentiality protections for personnel, but said the board and district administrators arrived at the "extremely difficult" decision to change leadership at several schools, which she referred to as a "necessary" move to best serve the students at Landels, Mistral, Theuerkauf and Graham.

Blakely said the school board voted to release the principals based on several factors including performance, evaluations, survey results and student academic performance for more than a year, and that each administrator was contacted by district leadership on "multiple occasions" leading up to last Friday's announcement. She said she worked personally with the principals and respects and values their contributions, and that the decision was in the best interest of the students.

"I find the whole situation heartbreaking," Blakely said. "Sadly, popularity and likability on their own are not sufficient to ensure effective instructional leadership and great educational outcomes for kids."

Board members Jose Gutierrez and Tamara Wilson did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and board members Ellen Wheeler and Greg Coladonato declined to comment, deferring to Blakely.

The administrative shuffle comes after a number of key staffing changes in recent years, which has led to new leadership at every single school in the district within the last five years. After June 30, the longest serving district principal will be Terri Lambert, who has led Castro Elementary since the 2013-14 school year.

Galassi rose through the district's ranks from a math coach to being named assistant principal at Graham last year, before district officials named her as the new Landels principal last Friday. Galassi was among the staffers who struggled to implement the district's sixth-grade digital math program Teach To One, which was scrapped partway through the 2016-17 school year after vocal parent opposition and a series of administrative missteps over the handling of its half-million dollar contract.

Comments

Dismayed parent
Martens-Carmelita
on Mar 5, 2018 at 2:13 pm
Dismayed parent, Martens-Carmelita
on Mar 5, 2018 at 2:13 pm

Besides the shock of losing these well-liked administrators, I'm equally bothered by the manner and tone in which it was communicated. Did the district administration not anticipate, or just not consider, about how parents would feel about this? Either way I think it's terrible PR and leaves many involved parents feeling very uncomfortable about how the district is being run.


Fire Rudolph; remove the board
Old Mountain View
on Mar 5, 2018 at 2:18 pm
Fire Rudolph; remove the board, Old Mountain View
on Mar 5, 2018 at 2:18 pm

Superintendent Rudolph has done enough damage to our community. He needs to be fired before he does more harm.

The Board no longer represents our community. They have supported Rudolph on TTO, the home school ISP and now this.

They need to go!


Seriously?
Waverly Park
on Mar 5, 2018 at 2:23 pm
Seriously?, Waverly Park
on Mar 5, 2018 at 2:23 pm

I think the only upside to these events is that more parents and the community are finally waking up to the way the school board and superintendent are running things... badly.

When they claim they prioritize teacher retention yet at every turn fail to respect these same people, they are completely disingenuous.


Figures
Slater
on Mar 5, 2018 at 2:30 pm
Figures, Slater
on Mar 5, 2018 at 2:30 pm

I noticed Huff and Bubb weren't touched. Shocker. Not.


@Figures
Martens-Carmelita
on Mar 5, 2018 at 2:46 pm
@Figures, Martens-Carmelita
on Mar 5, 2018 at 2:46 pm

I can assure you that Huff & Bubb parents are shocked and dismayed on this news.


Non-Parent
Old Mountain View
on Mar 5, 2018 at 3:08 pm
Non-Parent, Old Mountain View
on Mar 5, 2018 at 3:08 pm

Why not shocked that Huff and Bubb were not touched? Because they are considered the "rich" schools in the best part of Mtn View and the school doesn't want to upset those parents for fear one of them will have strong political connections and board members might lose their seats in the next election?


Mountain Lion
Old Mountain View
on Mar 5, 2018 at 3:14 pm
Mountain Lion, Old Mountain View
on Mar 5, 2018 at 3:14 pm

Maybe Ayinde gets these stupid ideas from his $57K per year "professional coach" that we pay for:

Web Link


Nice Try
Cuernavaca
on Mar 5, 2018 at 3:40 pm
Nice Try, Cuernavaca
on Mar 5, 2018 at 3:40 pm

@Figures

Bubb and Huff kids flow to Graham. Let's not be manufacturing false premises.


Seriously?
Waverly Park
on Mar 5, 2018 at 3:53 pm
Seriously?, Waverly Park
on Mar 5, 2018 at 3:53 pm

@figures
Half the schools had no admin changes... What exactly does that say about those schools? Nothing.

I'm sure you're the same person complaining that your neighborhood has to deal with the district office, Stevenson, and the preschool. Try living by the hospital, the YMCA, and 100 medical offices. We'll gladly trade you.


Claire @Landels
Whisman Station
on Mar 5, 2018 at 4:22 pm
Claire @Landels, Whisman Station
on Mar 5, 2018 at 4:22 pm

If we can not have transparency over why these people have been removed, surely they can tell us how this is better for our schools? Graham is left with no experienced leaders. Landels has a great principal who the community love and respect. He is making great stride with new programs like RTI and new testing. How is starting over with a new principal better for us? We want answers!


Rhazel
North Whisman
on Mar 5, 2018 at 4:37 pm
Rhazel, North Whisman
on Mar 5, 2018 at 4:37 pm

Let’s try to stay focused on the problem at hand. This is about our children. I’m hoping there’s a way for Steve Chesley to stay as principal of Landels because his positive leadership inspires achievement, respect, and kindness in the students. Why waste resources, money and time fixing something that’s not broken?


Landels Parent
Slater
on Mar 5, 2018 at 4:38 pm
Landels Parent, Slater
on Mar 5, 2018 at 4:38 pm

The response I received from one of the Trustees was that “The best way [they could] show respect for Steve Chesley (and all of our employees) is to not talk about this in public.”, which to me seems to echo the lack of transparency espoused by Washington today.

It’s the wrong answer. The best way to show respect is to remember that transparency does not need to take the form of details about why each administrator was released. The board and the superintendent need to demonstrate how these actions will benefit our children and our community. These are the details we absolutely should be discussing.


Graham parent
Cuesta Park
on Mar 5, 2018 at 4:45 pm
Graham parent, Cuesta Park
on Mar 5, 2018 at 4:45 pm

@ Landels parent, I agree with you entirely. I also received the form response from Laura Blakely assuring me that the board has the best interests of our children in mind. Without more details, and with this board's history, I don't believe her. How are these actions serving our children? Mine are devastated.


mom
Whisman Station
on Mar 5, 2018 at 5:02 pm
mom, Whisman Station
on Mar 5, 2018 at 5:02 pm

It's funny how the MV Voice email headline reads, "Parents shocked over removal of principles". Who wouldn't be shocked principles being removed from the schools???


bdwyer
Old Mountain View
on Mar 5, 2018 at 5:10 pm
bdwyer, Old Mountain View
on Mar 5, 2018 at 5:10 pm

This reminds me of the horrible decision to let the incredible Theater teacher go - Rob Seitelman - for no reason at all - after kids and fellow teachers and parents - many many of us - had a special meeting to try to save his job - needless to say - they all went into a back room after tearful heartbreaking stories of how much he changed kids lives and saved some of them from not believing in themselves! they came out and said - sorry - we all voted NO with absolutely NO explanation! It was devastating for so many of the kids - and the parents - and fellow teacher and past school board - etc! THEY MUST EXPLAIN --- "citing confidentiality surrounding personnel issues" is not okay for the community! If these principals have personal issues that effect their ability to lead - then I hope they tell us or at least say - I agree with their decision and we can all move on. very frustrating!


Fiction
another community
on Mar 5, 2018 at 5:26 pm
Fiction, another community
on Mar 5, 2018 at 5:26 pm

If employees receive consistent feedback on "performance issues" they are not surprised when they are "released".

If there were significant performance issues by an administrator in a school, surely that would be transparent to more than 6 "leaders" who made these decisions.

Without referencing specific employees/performance related inquiries, then surely the school district can generally answer if they can terminate administrators predominantly or solely based on students test scores "outcome"? What if scores didn't decline but remained same?

If a decision is "very tough" it's surprising how short the meeting. Usually if something is tough, you aren't laughing/joking as you leave the meeting, so soon after firing folks (cue online video).

Refraining from sharing additional details is not "out of respect" for administrators.

So "very tough" to be honest to the community, transparent...and so "very tough" to help invest in those administrators that have spent most of their adult working lives to help children, parents, families in the Mountain View community.

Bravo to everyone organizing, galvanizing reinstatement support!


Parent Posse
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2018 at 6:19 pm
Parent Posse, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2018 at 6:19 pm

A groups of parents, a posse of sorts, has gathered some information from across the schools to get answers to the questions that are coming up. We surveyed past and present employees from all over the district. Please help us in pushing for documents and responses.

1. Why didn't Ms. Blakley or the Board also admit that the current Stevenson (PACT) principal was offered the job of principal of Graham, but apparently turned it down? Were you ever going to tell the community of the Board’s apparent approval and intention to remove or reassign not 4 but 5 of the 9 principals that currently lead the schools Ms. Blakley? I imagine not after the last three days, but please tell us what your plans are for PACT. Like the DI Program, PACT appears to be on the hit list as well.

2. Superintendent Rudolph cannot, by law, evaluate principals. He does not hold the required administrative credential. He only holds the equivalent of a single-subject authorization to teach Social Studies in California in middle school and high school. This is by far the easiest credential to obtain. He holds no expertise in educating second language learners. He also has no elementary teaching experience. Why has the Board kept this a secret Ms. Blakley? So who does evaluate principals?

3. It turns out Carmen Ghysels is the one evaluating principals under her new corporatese title too long to type here. But Carmen Ghysels only took over the job on 1 November 2017. Did you make this clear in your statement Board President Blakley? How does Ghysels evaluate principals in less than four months before removing them? How can any one of the principals possibly respond to such bogus evaluations mid-year? Why don’t you just take them all out now in handcuffs Ms. Blakley?

4. And now for the first clincher. Principals were never formally evaluated in the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years. There is therefore no way Board President Blakey can make the claim that their decision was made based on reviewing performance evaluations. The last two years of evaluations don't even exist! The 2017-2018 evaluation process that Ghysels just put in place hasn't even completed its cycle. Board President Blakley is making false statements. No wonder the other Board Members deferred to her to comment! BTW, has Ghysels been evaluated the past two years?

5. The claim that these firings were based on student outcome, or standardized test scores, is also false. If it were true a different set of school principals would be removed or reassigned beginning with the Castro principal who, as the article points out, is soon to hold the title of longest serving principal! But that won’t happen because the all-powerful Board Member Wheeler is assigned to the Castro Campus and protects it. Another candidate for being "dropped" based on test scores would be the Monta Loma Principal, but again since that principal is an ex-Board Member with a powerful former fellow Board Member (also Wheeler) still serving on the Board, we can probably not expect that to happen. Neither of course deserve sto be dropped, particularly based on the falsely claimed criteria that is being thrown around by the Board President. So, again, time to speak to the truth, Board President Blakley.

6. The claim that these firings were based on survey results is also false. The survey results in no way reflect the pattern of firings. Produce the results Ms. Blakley and show us if you think they do. While you are at it produce the results of the district leadership's survey of the superintendent which was far lower than any of the principals. In fact, it was rock bottom. That’s what Board President Blakley should be addressing.

7. For the financial watchdogs in the crowd, also being held from the community is that the district hired two consulting firms for the 2017-2018 school year to mentor 5 of the most junior principals in the district. That’s right, two consulting firms. They started late after the start of this academic year and haven't even finished mentoring three of principals that are being removed or re-assigned. Please tell us the dollar amount that was squandered on this folly Ms. Blakley and the logic behind it. Have you even bothered to ask for either consultants’ notes or reports? Produce them! While you are at it please tell us why the Board decided to not continue providing the Superintendent with $57,000 in paid coaching when the Board renewed his contract? Did we even get our money’s worth from the first two years? Clearly, he needs a lot more coaching than he’s been receiving if he is making staffing changes based on Ghysels’s recommendations! As if any one could even begin to forget or not know of the Ghysels drama a decade ago.

8. Board member Gutierrez and his part-time district employee spouse have also been involved in manipulation of gullible parents unaware of who to correctly turn to for help, bullying, financial conflicts of interest and gossiping. They have circumvented the authority of both principals of Mistral and Graham at which they have students whenever they think they feel something wrong based on the rock bottom experience and knowledge of education they possess. They have attempted to manipulate policies on attendance, tardies and delinquent notices to their own benefit while at the same claiming they know what's best for our schools. Isn't timely and regular attendance one of the most basic indicators of achieving academic success. When will the Board investigate these issues Ms. Blakley? There’s no rug to sweep them under.

9. Past Board President Gutierrez was also a strong proponent of the Superintendent’s TTO failure at Graham. He has been outspoken in public about the abilities of the Graham principal. He was convinced it would work with the right principal. What do you intend to do about this Ms. Blakley? What is the link between Board Member Gutierrez's self-styled expertise on math education? What is the link between TTO's failure and the Graham principal being removed? What are his qualifications? Is it payback by the Superintendent for the embarrassment the Graham principal caused him? Or is it payback by Board Member Gutierrez whose student attends Graham? Both?

10. On that note, why did the Superintendent direct moving three teachers from Mistral School, all of which were former teachers of Board Member Guiterrez's student, and then allow the parents upset at the move to let the Principal take all the heat and blame for it? Which is a far cry from what you have allowed Ms. Blakley. It sounds as if there are personal vendetta’s taking place. What are you going to do about it?

11. And what is the plan for the DI Program Board President Blakley? We know both you and the over-night expert on education (Board Member Gutierrez) travelled back east at the end of February to visit a school using the 50/50 model of instruction and run by a friend of the Superintendent. When does the plan come out? When will it be dictated to the community? And BTW, didn’t TTO have a link to the Superintendent’s past as well? Is that how he operates? A one size fits all, the community be damned?

12. Moving on to Landels, isn’t the real reason the principal is being removed is because the former principal, once again Ghsyels, has allowed his staff to circumvent him by appealing to her and thereby undermining his authority? Why is Ghysels allowed to interfere with the operation of Landels while at the same time evaluating the principal? That’s quite a toxic environment being created and a recipe for trouble. If the Superintendent is not willing to listen to the unique needs of Landels from the principal, why not just reassign Ghysels to Landels.

13. And now for the $1,000,000,000 question Board President Blakley. How can you in one breath cite confidentiality protections for personnel in removing these principals yet in another breath claim, based on our investigation above, that "the district is constantly reviewing performance, evaluations, survey results and student "outcomes" to decide whether to release or reassign school administrators, and those factors were used to make the decision the remove four principals last week"????? Have you not just falsely implied they have failed in all of the domains you stated, when in fact it’s the furthest thing from the truth?

Bottom Line: The school district is being walked and talked right into a lawsuit with the very damaging and false statement made by Board President Blakley above and by a Superintendent that has no idea of how to build a team. In the process they are destroying the lives of long-time valuable members of our schools community.


Steven Nelson
Cuesta Park
on Mar 5, 2018 at 7:46 pm
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
on Mar 5, 2018 at 7:46 pm

Thanks for the very long, long, rant, which probably contains some truths.

First - where in hell do you get the idea that there was no previous evaluation of Principals, or DO administrators until Nov 2017? Prior to Skelly coming on board the Quality Audit investigation made clear that systematic evaluations did not take place. I certainly know the Principal who left Stevenson told Coladonado and myself that he has not been formally evaluated on his first 3 years on the job.

Cite which part of Ed Code prevents a Superintendent from evaluating Principals.

I know a number of Principals have told me, when I was on the board, that they were starting to get formal evaluations of their work. Sir - you are either a damn liar - or an easy to rouse dupe of someone.

So, after that important misinformation - I could easily read the rest of your rant for what it is. In some places valid - maybe astute. And in many places what look like the rantings of a lunatic.

best,

Steven Nelson, retired MVWSD

PS And I agree about TTO diagnosis that you give.


Fed up
Rex Manor
on Mar 5, 2018 at 7:58 pm
Fed up, Rex Manor
on Mar 5, 2018 at 7:58 pm

While we're remembering all the incompetence at the District Office, let's not forget the Voice stories from the past two weeks of the District's attempts to kill the ISP. The Board made a decision based on incomplete and incorrect information presented to them by Carmen Ghysels. This district likes to talk about the choices they offer families but it seems like they spend a lot of time trying to undermine the choice programs.


Answers
Old Mountain View
on Mar 5, 2018 at 8:10 pm
Answers, Old Mountain View
on Mar 5, 2018 at 8:10 pm


I would like the answers to the Questions Parent Posse posted. Maybe the Voice can get answers to these questions...


Achievement gap
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2018 at 10:01 pm
Achievement gap, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2018 at 10:01 pm

While I have no insider info, judging by just the latest events the district is trying to raise the scores by making middle class families attend their neighborhood schools no matter the ratings. While this is an honorable goal, the means are just not adequate. Killing choice programs is NOT the way to go. Make neighborhood schools more attractive to families instead of bullying them into attending struggling schools. And I say this as a parent whose child goes to a mediocre neighborhood school.


Graham Alum Family
Waverly Park
on Mar 5, 2018 at 10:26 pm
Graham Alum Family, Waverly Park
on Mar 5, 2018 at 10:26 pm

Just wanted to set the record straight that in the last ~11 years Huff has had leadership change at the Principal level 5 times that I can count. Craig Goldman ==> Rick Yee ==> Sharon Burns ==> Heidi Smith ==> Geoffrey Chang. Please stop pitting schools against each other - this is not about individual schools - we ALL contribute to the success of our students - it's the school board and Superintendent that disappoint and fail our students & our community.


Aboveboardboard
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2018 at 10:28 pm
Aboveboardboard , Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2018 at 10:28 pm

I want to know answers to @Parent Posse's questions/statements.
Laura Blakey, please answer to these statements by Parent Posse.
Mountain View Voice, please investigate and fomd the truth.


Wolf Blitzer
Cuesta Park
on Mar 6, 2018 at 1:55 am
Wolf Blitzer, Cuesta Park
on Mar 6, 2018 at 1:55 am

We can all come here and a hoot and a holler but the reality is we'll never know and the board really doesn't have to answer to an online local newspaper comments section. What good is an open forum without the stakeholders there to answer questions>


Parent
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2018 at 6:02 am
Parent, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2018 at 6:02 am

This article is about the parents’ reactions. How are the teachers feeling? Ask around at the schools. They don’t feel they can get involved or express opinions for fear of retaliation from the district. When you hear your child’s teacher say “it’s not safe” or “I can’t do anything”, something is wrong. How long will it be before the district is also dealing with hostile work environment claims because of the culture led by Dr. Rudolph?


Teachers feelings
North Whisman
on Mar 6, 2018 at 6:54 am
Teachers feelings , North Whisman
on Mar 6, 2018 at 6:54 am

...are not counted. Their inputs to academic experiments on our kids are overloooked and dismissed (TTO, PBL and I’m sure the list goes on). They are in the trenches with our kids and have a pulse on academics. But who in the district office cares about their opinions, let alone their feelings?? Parent is spot on!! We need to step up!


Names
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2018 at 7:10 am
Names , Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2018 at 7:10 am

Obviously I can’t name names but at least some teachers are happy about the transfer of at least one principal. I know this for a fact.


Work in MV
Whisman Station
on Mar 6, 2018 at 7:21 am
Work in MV, Whisman Station
on Mar 6, 2018 at 7:21 am

A bigger problem for the students and parents is : Who would want to work in MV now that they know what the board and Supt are like ? There are plenty of teaching and Principal jobs everywhere in the bay area, I would certainly be wary of working there. These are issues which should have been considered before making decisions like this last one.


Christopher Chiang
Registered user
North Bayshore
on Mar 6, 2018 at 7:26 am
Christopher Chiang, North Bayshore
Registered user
on Mar 6, 2018 at 7:26 am

I truly believe the superintendent and school board thinks they are doing what's best, and seeking new school site leadership based on what they know, and what we don't, they could be right. But they are wrong that it has to be a painful process to get there. School reform often wrongly equates the degree of collective pain with the degree of academic outcome, this strategy is a mismatch for Mountain View, when stakeholder disengagement loses Mountain View school its best ace up its sleeve.

You have a new superintendent who believes MVWSD can do more and sooner. These are good traits to have in a Silicon Valley school district surrounded by potential resources but stunted in its past performance with students on both ends of academic achievement.

His failing is not realising the power of stakeholder inclusion and empowerment. The school board's failing is not demanding he value and grow in those areas. Or at the least, warn him of community concerns in advanced. Who would -not- forsee that selling school land to private development or moving half the district's principals and not including the community it the principal selection process would deeply concern many people?

Perhaps the board did see, and thought the approach should be to ride it out. Whatever is causing these rolling controversies, it speaks to the fundamental culture problem that the district looks down on stakeholder inclusion and empowerment. A shame when the latent resources and skills of the community are going to be best way to quickly achieve what the superintendent so rightly wants for MV: a swift improvement of schools for all children.


@Christopher Chiang
Cuesta Park
on Mar 6, 2018 at 8:15 am
@Christopher Chiang, Cuesta Park
on Mar 6, 2018 at 8:15 am

You were one of the strongest advocates for hiring Dr. Rudolph as a former Board Member and then you quit.

I realize you are not immune from having a gargantuan ego, but it really makes me wince for you to now come in and weigh in with your lofty opinions. Perhaps more than any other individual it is you that is responsible for the mess of a district we now have and with the smearing of truly dedicates and professional principals who have never given up or quit this community like you have. On top of it all your children are not even enrolled in our schools.


Christopher Chiang
Registered user
North Bayshore
on Mar 6, 2018 at 8:47 am
Christopher Chiang, North Bayshore
Registered user
on Mar 6, 2018 at 8:47 am

A decision I made two years ago, should not distract from the current issues. The superintendent could have been great, and can still be, but not without direct feedback from the school board.

I served three years and continue to volunteer in the district every year since leaving the board. I along without anyone else who cares about our schools has a place in the discussion. The culture of picking whose voices matters and not is part of what causes this mess.


Parent
Castro City
on Mar 6, 2018 at 9:00 am
Parent, Castro City
on Mar 6, 2018 at 9:00 am

To Mr.Chaing
Two years ago you quit mid-year. Why in the would would you even have an opinion here. Please faid into the sunset. You had your chance your irrelevant.


@Christopher Chiang
Shoreline West
on Mar 6, 2018 at 9:16 am
@Christopher Chiang, Shoreline West
on Mar 6, 2018 at 9:16 am

Why don't you just admit you made a HUGE mistake in hiring Ayinde Rudolph? He has repeatedly harmed this community through his actions. He talks a good game, but just cannot be trusted.

Talk to teachers and administrators and it becomes clear that they are fearful to speak up. He insists on taking credit for any success in the district and punishes anyone who doesn't give him credit for their hard work. On the other hand, he refuses to take responsibility for mistakes that are clearly his.

There are time, Chris, when you add to the conversation with valuable insights. And there are others, when your unwillingness to accept your own responsibility for problems YOU helped create is just grating.


Concerned Community Member
Rex Manor
on Mar 6, 2018 at 9:18 am
Concerned Community Member, Rex Manor
on Mar 6, 2018 at 9:18 am

We chose to send our kids to private school because after much research and investigation we did not believe our neighborhood school would serve our children well. And that was the only "choice" the district offered us. You may have arrived at a different conclusion, which I support and respect. Every family is different. But that was our decision and it has worked incredibly well for our family.

However, even though our children do not attend MV public schools, we have remained supportive of our community schools, voting yes on any and all funding/bond measures to provide the schools with additional income to improve them.

Board Member Ms Wheeler once chastised me for choosing to send my kids to private school instead of our neighborhood school, but that is not the right attitude to have. That does not instill faith and belief in the neighborhood schools. Nor do decisions like removing 4, seemingly well liked principals with no warning and poor communications to the community. As a proud financial supporter of the MVWSD, I would like to better understand how these drastic changes are seen as an improvement to the children attending these schools. The Board should be able to outline that for the community, without getting into individual HR-related issues.


Steven Nelson
Cuesta Park
on Mar 6, 2018 at 10:00 am
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
on Mar 6, 2018 at 10:00 am

I could not agree more, with my former colleague Chiang, that "His failing is not realising the power of stakeholder inclusion and empowerment. The school board's failing is not demanding he value and grow in those areas. Or at the least, warn him of community concerns in advanced. Who would -not- forsee that selling school land to private development or moving half the district's principals and not including the community it the principal selection process would deeply concern many people?"

Communications must NOT be one way, and it must be world class. Developing school lands (Cooper?) Who could see? Well I know that former President Wheeler+Rudolph tried their best to kick the s&%@ out of me in-public when I talked and surveyed the Cooper School site neighbors. SaveCooperPark.org could only have happened By A Board that is disconnected. In Oct - they let the Superintendent just go ahead with his $35 K developers report, with no pre-communication by postcards to the neighbors. etc, etc

Ellen Weaver has continued to, since she initiated Rudolph to this community as Board President, taught a lesson based on "an odd definition of transparency" (Voice Editorial.) As long as the community, and the rest of the Board, continues this, does not correct Ellen and publicly dispute her, this is what You Will Get as "transparency".

I think the Superintendent has, since his arrival, given formal written performance evaluations to all the dozen or so administrators under his control. I haven't personally spoken to each and every person - but every one that I spoke to in 2016 said that they had that type of interaction with Superintendent Randolph. And since that was a issue, brought up by the Quality audit, and a former new-young Principal, I made it a point to nose around. I did not find any stink in that particular regard.

SN is a retired Trustee of the MVWSD,
he only had a 1/5 responsibility in hiring and evaluating the Superintend. In his last vote on compensation - he opposed a 10% raise for Dr. Rudolph (before TTO)


Nora S.
Rex Manor
on Mar 6, 2018 at 10:08 am
Nora S., Rex Manor
on Mar 6, 2018 at 10:08 am

In the absence of any actual information about these reassignments, it is natural to speculate. My speculation is that these principals have been removed because they are insufficiently loyal to the regime in charge. Superintendent Rudolph and his gang at the District Office are determined to have their own way regardless of the facts on the ground or the feelings of those affected. They will lie, fear-monger, or obfuscate in order to make their mark. And the Board is backing them all the way, stumbling into one bad decision after another: TTO, cutting academic hours, cutting homeschooling, and now the wholesale removal of successful principals. It's extremely disturbing. Please come out to meetings and hold the Board accountable!


Steven Nelson
Cuesta Park
on Mar 6, 2018 at 11:00 am
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
on Mar 6, 2018 at 11:00 am

Come on now Cuesta Park neighbor. Chiang is more responsible than anyone else in Rudolph's performance? BS, pure hog wash my man!

Chiang never participated in any job evaluation of Rudolph. Wheeler (Pres), and members Lambert, Gutierrez, Coladonado, Nelson were responsible for his first evaluation (10% raise,which was more than teachers, vote 3-2).

Then Superintendent evaluations have been done over the last year by Wheeler, Blakely (Pres), Gutierrez (Pres), Coladonado, Wilson. (I think equivalent to teachers, vote 5-0 )

I can assure you, in 2015-2016 Superintendent Rudolph introduced annual written evaluation using a nationally vetted feedback paper form for the Board members to use and discuss. I know the form was used elsewhere in the DO. Chiang never participated! (Gutierrez had replaced him as a member)


Mr. Chiang's opinion on 21st century education are aways interesting to me - as a parent and as a 7 year classroom teacher. FREE SPEECH: ... too far? nah - keep on talking Chris

I used my FREE SPEECH at the very last meeting: Closed Session: Superintendent Evaluation, 6 PM public comment before the Closed Session. No-one else from the public was there to comment in person!


concerned citizen
Bailey Park
on Mar 6, 2018 at 11:01 am
concerned citizen, Bailey Park
on Mar 6, 2018 at 11:01 am

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


Huff parent
Waverly Park
on Mar 6, 2018 at 11:59 am
Huff parent, Waverly Park
on Mar 6, 2018 at 11:59 am

The sad truth is that we can sign petitions, email board members, attend board meetings, state our concerns all we want, but the principals will not be reinstated. Neither the board nor the sup will allow mob rule to dictate their decisions. It would set a bad precedent.

They will do what they always do because it always work: they will ride this out until we grow tire and move on. The only thing their care about is getting re-elected and having us pass their bonds to spend more of our money.


Seriously?
Waverly Park
on Mar 6, 2018 at 12:00 pm
Seriously?, Waverly Park
on Mar 6, 2018 at 12:00 pm

@Christopher Chiang
You are well meaning, but constantly being an apologist for the board et al isn't helpful.
We don't have the luxury to continue giving them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to our children.

And wow man, you don't even have your own children enrolled in public school? What a ringing endorsement. You have no skin in the game.

Everyone is allowed to chime in, but people should put Chiang's comments into context instead of touting his comments as "more informed".


@Huff parent
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2018 at 1:04 pm
@Huff parent, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2018 at 1:04 pm

We know their m.o, let's vote them out and send a precedent. Future boards can learn not to kowtow to the whims of these short term thinking sups.


Long Gone
another community
on Mar 6, 2018 at 1:41 pm
Long Gone, another community
on Mar 6, 2018 at 1:41 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


Graham Alum Family
Registered user
Waverly Park
on Mar 6, 2018 at 7:20 pm
Graham Alum Family, Waverly Park
Registered user
on Mar 6, 2018 at 7:20 pm

The HUGE problem this board and Superintendent have now created for our community is that 4 new principals will be put in place by a school district leadership where their decisions no longer have the majority support of the district families. We need to ensure that these positions are NOT filled by this leadership team, else - these schools will repeat what Huff has already experienced - 5 leaders in ~11 years. Let's get new leaders in place who have the backing and support of the community before any further changes are made or allowed!


MVMom2018
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Mar 7, 2018 at 1:26 pm
MVMom2018, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Mar 7, 2018 at 1:26 pm

Steve Chelsey does an amazing job. He's profoundly dedicated, visible, and accessible. He clearly cares a great deal about the school community, and he made Landels a positive and inviting place to learn.

Dear Bitter Mistral teacher: "Both teachers and principals get a little tired of being pushed around by parents who don't work and with a zillion opinions about how best to serve their precious little children. Oh that's right, it's never the parents fault from the people here casting all the blame. "
--You clearly need leadership, help to correct your problems, and instruction on how to be more effective at your job. Perhaps you were comfortable with the lack of support and leadership from your principal (Simons de Carvalho)--who let staff like you to fester in your own disregard for the community you work with--TIME'S UP! Perhaps your new boss can implement some standards on your work and help you improve. The parents you complain of work hard to support teachers with their time, $$$donations, and expertise. As a teacher, you have some nerve trying to disparage parents for wanting public school teachers to provide kids with an education. If this is so upsetting to you, you are welcome to leave. Your attitude is toxic. You make your (former) principal look extremely bad with your bellyaching. I've heard lots of criticisms of Mistral's principal during the enrollment lottery rounds. Mistral really does need a change! You should be happy.


Alan Wessel
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Mar 7, 2018 at 2:31 pm
Alan Wessel, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Mar 7, 2018 at 2:31 pm

The petition in support of Kim Thompson has almost 800 supporters and can be found here Web Link

The petition in support of Steve Chesley can be found here Web Link

The district and School Board seem surprised by the outpouring of community support. There have been no further communications to parents beyond the short initial announcement which was so vaguely worded that many parents assumed the principals were being promoted.

Parents have been left wondering what criteria was used to justify these actions. We understand that personnel decisions are confidential, but strongly feel there should be transparency regarding what the district and Board are trying to achieve at Graham, Landels and other schools.


badgolfer
Registered user
Waverly Park
on Mar 8, 2018 at 12:10 pm
badgolfer, Waverly Park
Registered user
on Mar 8, 2018 at 12:10 pm

I have had to let go popular, but underperforming employees in my career. The fact that they were in jeopardy was never in doubt because through evaluations previously conducted they knew exactly where they stood. Their constituents were also informed in a timely fashion what was done, and in general the "why". Treating the affected humanly and with honesty is what gets buy-in from those who remain, so they need to know the goal of the change.

Based on nothing more than reading posts about raises, etc, It does not appear that the evaluations were done, or if done, do not show poor performance. As for the information being shared with a key constituent (the parents), that is not being done well either. Every school in Mountain View need parents and parent funding to function - it is just plain stupid to not keep them informed to the maximum within the law. It may not be possible to turn back the clock, it may not even be desirable - but it is possible to get more info, put pressure on those on the Board and Administration who need to raise their own game, and time to volunteer and to vote.


DTMV
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2018 at 6:16 am
DTMV, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Mar 9, 2018 at 6:16 am

Please correct the title of this article. From what I see in the comments, parents at only two schools are "upset," while parents at all four schools are "shocked" about recent changes.


stephanie spaid
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Mar 9, 2018 at 1:51 pm
stephanie spaid, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Mar 9, 2018 at 1:51 pm


I would like the answers to the Questions Parent Posse posted. Trustee Blakely, will you address? Or, MV voice, will you find answers?


WeCare
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2018 at 5:03 pm
WeCare, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Mar 9, 2018 at 5:03 pm

Posted by an educator & resident of Mountain View

A fact, opinion & speculation about a MVWSD principal:

Opinion:
Marcela deCarvalho, Mistral’s Principal, is the heart and soul of the Dual-Immersion Program. She is dedicated to every student and to finding the best ways to educate each and every child. Her removal as the principal of Mistral is wrong!

Fact: The MVWSD Superintendent has expressed to some Mistral teachers that he is “not interested” in dual-immersion or what they are doing with their students. He is only interested in how the Mistral Principal is doing “her job.”

Speculation: The Superintendent has “an agenda” and getting rid of the Dual-Immersion Program is high on his list. He knows that the DI parents are strong and vocal and that it would be difficult to get rid of the program out-right. By removing Marcela, the core/heart, of the program, the Superintendent can place a new principal that could lead to the program’s failure.


cleave frink
Registered user
Willowgate
on Mar 10, 2018 at 5:17 pm
cleave frink, Willowgate
Registered user
on Mar 10, 2018 at 5:17 pm

The reaction to these administrative changes is curious to me because most of the people here I believe are likely senior managers or leaders in their chosen fields. This means that that most of you frequently evaluate staff and the performance of folks they work with as well as their own performance. So, it's puzzling to me, that this same group is somehow demanding that this process be done in public. The district has never, ever shared it's reasonings for moving, demoting, replacing, hiring, firing or any other personnel related issues regarding staff and faculty. I'm unsure as to why now this group somehow believes this should change.

What I sense is that this is a group of people here who pretend to pay attention to the issues in our district but are somehow constantly surprised when significant events happen. This means you aren't actually involved. You aren't serving on committees, or going to meetings. Your kids are doing well in classes and getting great grades. That's not involvement.

If your experience is different, then you might have more reason to interact with some of these administrators. You might have seen some of the reasons these moves where chosen or made relevant. I suspect that most of you haven't. These moves were made by the chief executive of our school organization. Rudolph was hired to do this work and I don't remember anything in that hiring process that required him to seek your approval as a condition for doing his job. I didn't see anyone putting petitions together asking Skelly to explain his similar work and I didn't see anyone asking Goldman to explain his work. So, I don't expect this Superintendent to explain private personnel decisions to this group of occasionally involved parents.

I get that folks are saddened by the loss of a member of the community. But this is a normal part of the business of running schools...period. On top of that, I hear everyone wanting the District to provide all the details about these moves, which it can't do. However, all of these principals are totally free to share the reasons for their departures. I'm certain they've all been told. Perhaps this group should start there and get those folks together and get them to share their understanding of why they were moved to different posts. Short of that, enough with this constant belly aching. Get involved and these things won't be a surprise to you. Trust me, you can see this stuff coming a mile away if you're even remotely paying attention to anyone or anything but your own child.


Graham Alum Family
Registered user
Waverly Park
on Mar 11, 2018 at 7:29 am
Graham Alum Family, Waverly Park
Registered user
on Mar 11, 2018 at 7:29 am

Folks,

Per the MVWSD website,

The Board of Trustees generally meets the first and third Thursday of each month, except the month of July. Meetings are held at the Graham Middle School MUR, 1175 Castro Street. Please check agenda for actual start time. Members of the public are encouraged to attend these meetings.

The Governance Calendar shows items that will be considered or discussed at Board meetings during the school year. Please note that items may be added, removed, or changed to a different date.

Board meetings notes are archived and even recorded so you can stay up-to-date.

Web Link

If my Thursday counting is correct - that would mean there s/b a board meeting this Thursday? 15-March - Who else is planning to go?


MV Resident For 55 Years
Registered user
North Whisman
on Mar 18, 2018 at 12:26 pm
MV Resident For 55 Years, North Whisman
Registered user
on Mar 18, 2018 at 12:26 pm

FYI. - I will be there as a Theuerkauf parent.

----------------------------------------------

Next steps: Principal selection process
Friday, March 16, 2018 6:10 PM
From: "MVWSD" <[email protected]>

Dear Parents,

As part of its search for a new principal for Theuerkauf, the District is seeking parent and staff feedback through focus groups, as well as online. Your input is valued and appreciated.

We welcome Theuerkauf’s staff members and parents to a session on:

Tuesday, March 20, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Theuerkauf library. Spanish interpretation will be provided.

We know time is limited. If you prefer, you may contribute thoughts anytime on the attributes you would like to see in your school’s new leader online here.

A representative group will interview the candidates. The school’s interview team will include teachers from a range of content areas and grades, classified staff members, administrators, and parents from PTA, School Site Council and ELAC (English Language Advisory Committee).

Timeline and Steps

• March 5-16 : Position opening is advertised
• March 16-22: Feedback from the school community will be gathered
• March 23-30: Principal interviews
• April 19: Superintendent presents to Board for final approval
• April 20: Present candidate to staff and community

Thank you for your support of our school.


DTMV
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2018 at 7:25 am
DTMV, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Mar 19, 2018 at 7:25 am

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