Ghysels lands top job at Menlo Park school district | May 13, 2011 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - May 13, 2011

Ghysels lands top job at Menlo Park school district

by Renee Batti

Maurice Ghysels, the superintendent of the elementary school district in Mountain View for five years and, for the last 10 months, an administrator in the Santa Clara County Office of Education, has been named the new superintendent of the Menlo Park City School District, effective July 1.

School board President Maria Hilton announced the appointment in an email to district families on Friday, May 6, saying Ghysels "possesses an impressive depth of educational and business leadership experience and a demonstrated passion for excellence."

On Tuesday, the school board voted unanimously to approve a $205,000 annual contract with Ghysels.

He will replace Ken Ranella, who began his tenure as district superintendent in 2002 and announced his retirement, effective in June 30, in January.

Ghysels, who was one of six finalists for the position, has since last July served as the chief schools officer for the Office of Education in Santa Clara County, managing a staff of 1,400 providing services to about 50,000 students in 32 districts, according to Hilton's prepared statement.

Before taking that position, he was superintendent of the Mountain View Whisman School District, beginning that job in 2005. The end of his tenure there was overshadowed by a controversy that brewed over his romantic relationship with a principal of one of the schools he oversaw. He and the principal, Carmen Mizell, were married to other people and were in the process of filing for divorce when they informed the school board of their relationship.

The announcement in 2009 caused an outcry by some members of the school community, some of whom complained that a conflict of interest existed, particularly in light of Mizell's transfer in 2008 to a high-performing school, according to an Oct. 26, 2009, article in the Voice. Other parents and community members stated their continuing support for both the superintendent and the principal, the Voice reported.

After informing the school board of the relationship, Ghysels changed district protocol to allow Mizell to report to the assistant superintendent rather than him as a way to avoid a conflict of interest.

In November 2009, Ghysels informed the school board that he was looking for work outside the district, and the board publicly announced soon after that "our team has been discussing an internal succession plan for quite some time," according to a Nov. 11 article in the Voice.

Ghysels could not be reached for comment for this story.

Hilton also could not be reached for comment for this story. In her prepared statement, she said that board members "recently conducted extensive on-site interviews at both the Mountain View Whisman District and the (county office of education), which included many staff, administrators, parents and community members.

"These individuals consistently described Dr. Ghysels as a dynamic and collaborative leader who always puts the needs of students first."

Ghysels began his career as a high school teacher and principal, according to Hilton's written statement. He went on to serve as a middle school principal, then was appointed deputy superintendent/chief operations officer of the Campbell Union School District.

His career also includes a five-year stint at Citibank, Hilton said, adding that during his years in the business world, "his responsibilities included training and professional development in executive coaching, communication skills and project management."


Posted by MV parent, a resident of Monta Loma
on May 14, 2011 at 10:43 am

Slick-talking egomaniac dupes the public yet again. Enjoy the ride, parents and children of Menlo Park.

Posted by MVWSD Watchdog, a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 14, 2011 at 12:36 pm

This guy definitely has an image problem. As he used to say, "perception is everything."

Also consider this:

Check the CA Dept of Ed's Dataquest website. Under Mr. Ghysels' tenure growth targets were not met at four MV schools, both MV middle schools dropped in API, two elementary schools went into Program Improvement. MV is now forced to deny federal funding after five years under Ghysels to prevent from falling even further into Program Improvement. Where is Ghysel's responsibility in all this? I know, I know, it's all the students' fault, the teachers' fault etc. Web Link

According to the Public Employee Salaries Database 2010, Ghsyels arranged to pay Mizell $116,428 as principal before he left. Mizell had three years experience as a principal. That's the second highest salary for an elementary school principal in MVWSD. The highest was $117,229 for an elementary principal with two decades experience as principal. There is far more to this story than meets the eye.

And this:

According to the Public Employee Salaries Database 2010, the highest paid teacher in MVWSD in 2010 was the controversial Patricia Polifrone who was reported to have resigned from the district back in 2009 by Stephanie Totter, director of administrative services. However, Polifrone grossed $112,500 in 2010 suggesting that she was actually bought out by the school district. Web Link The amount far surpasses the salary of the highest paid teacher in the district who actually taught in 2010. The true cost of the buyout remains a mystery, but such is the price for poor personnel administration of teachers in the district and the even poorer practices of documenting parent complaints. The as-of-yet-undetermined total amount of money used to buy out Polifrone could have been put to good use in the classroom. Hopefully, the new superintendent takes effective steps to put an end to costly and poorly managed personnel policies and practices in the district in the future. This is what the Public Employee Salaries Database 2010 was designed to do; to reveal the waste taking place everyday in public organizations.

Posted by another MV parent, a resident of Waverly Park
on May 16, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Posted by MV parent, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, "Slick-talking egomaniac dupes the public yet again. Enjoy the ride, parents and children of Menlo Park."

Hmm, I always thought of him as a smooth-talking charmer, but I guess your description fits too.

Hey, it's not all bad, they'll get a new logo, tagline, mission statement, signs out in front of their schools...all that cool stuff that has such a direct impact on the instruction and learning that goes on inside the classroom, you know, the interaction between students and their teachers.

And MP will get nifty new programs with impressive sounding names, like Continuous Improvement (which is pretty much what every teacher does from one class period or school day to the next...) and a School...err, STUDENT Facilities Improvement Plan to remodel newly-remodeled buildings.

We'll check back with ya' in five years, MP, to see what legacy he leaves in your town after he leaves to go to his next job.

Posted by localmom, a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 17, 2011 at 10:01 pm

I used this article as a talking point for my middle school children regarding "character". I told them that Mr. Ghysels did NOT deserve another job paying nearly 1/4 of 1 million dollars (public money, folks, your tax dollars), with responsibility for thousands of innocent elementary school children, because he has shown he lacks character. He disappointed his family, his constituents, his wife, and the 4m400 kids and thousands of families of MVWhisman public elementary school district by lying about and covering up an affair WHILE MARRIED with a district employee ALSO MARRIED whom he oversaw. He did not admit to this affair until caught. Ms. Mizell was promoted to a higher performing school by her lover. This is a concrete and public display of lack of ethical judgement and an abuse of public responsibility. This guy should be running an adult ed program in the backwaters of Mississippi IF THAT making 30 grand and driving a beat-up Camaro. But hey, the MP board must have known all that, and not cared if their kids get ZEROS on their character exams when they graduate!!!

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