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District announces Ghysels will step down

Original post made on Nov 10, 2009

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.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 10, 2009, 12:00 PM

Comments (65)

Posted by Concerned Citizen
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 10, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Is it true that the school board extended the Superintendent's contract after he told them of the affair? Is the school district now on the hook for paying out that contract if/when Maurice Ghysels leaves the district?

Posted by see how you are
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2009 at 12:43 pm

I don't know but one thing's for sure, blah blah blah UNPROFESSIONAL noise noise noise FOR SHAME whine whine whine SLEAZE BALL!!!


There, I just saved 99% of you the trouble of leaving a comment.

Posted by parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 10, 2009 at 12:56 pm

My hunch is the reason that there were so few parents at the meeting and so few parents willing to speak during the public input session may be due to the fact that the district has a long history of publicly asking for parent input, and then routinely disregarding that parent input, at all levels.

Whether the district will operate with "integrity and transparency" under a new superintendent remains to be seen.

Posted by resident and teacher
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 10, 2009 at 2:11 pm

A school board has one primary function, choose, and then evaluate their superintendent. As a public institution, this process is meant to be as open, inviting, and inclusive as legally permissible. Choosing someone to administer the daily affairs of the district has more practical and real influence on student learning than any other board directive. I hope that the search for a permanent superintendent will be a public and rigorous process actively seeking the community’s counsel and support. A new superintendent is always an extraordinary opportunity for a district to progress in ways past administrations have not imagined. This is too important of a decision to leave any assumption unchallenged. I hope parents shy to get involved in the past will help the board seize this pivotal moment.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 10, 2009 at 2:18 pm

They did not extend the superintendent's contract, my understanding is his original contract expires this coming July.

Posted by jane
a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 10, 2009 at 2:21 pm

How sad. Now the District will spend tens of thousands of dollars looking for someone else - if not familiar with the District they will have a long ramp-up time; if from within the District then people will question the qualifications. When Maurice came into the mess that he inherited from E. Hicks and her followers, he had a difficult situation and I thank him for what he has done. Now we enter another crap-shoot to see if we can be happy with a new supertindent and the agenda that they bring with them. And then let the compalints roll in again $$$$$$$$$!

Posted by Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 10, 2009 at 2:25 pm

To resident and teacher: I for one am not sure the district should pay the not inconsiderable amount of money required to hire a search firm and go through the whole process if they feel they have a highly-qualified candidate in the district. Craig Goldman is a known entity in the district, a person of strong values and integrity, highly intelligent, creative thinker -- he was a fabulous principal, and most Huff parents always thought he would someday be a superintendent. We figured he would end up leaving the district at some point to pursue that opportunity. I'm glad we were able to keep him in MVWSD, and I think that the board should just confirm him as the super. The last few searches netted us superintendents who were here for only a few years anyway. Give Craig a 3-year contract and save the money on the search, since money is so tight all around. If it doesn't work out, don't renew the contract, and do the search at that time. My guess is he will be a superb superintendent.

Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Goldman was an excellent principal at Huff and has done a really extraordinary job on the business side during tough budgetary times. I cant imagine a better fit for the top slot.

Posted by WHO?
a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 10, 2009 at 3:15 pm

"I'll tip my hat to the new constitution, take a bow for the new revolution ,mile and grin at the change all around, pick up my guitar and play, just like yesterday and I'll get on my knees and pray-we don't get fooled AGAIN!"

Posted by WHO?
a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 10, 2009 at 3:43 pm

that should be SMILE(not mile) :)

Posted by Drew Seutter
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 10, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Let's just stop paying the old guy and give away his parking space to the new guy. That should get things rolling in the right direction.

Posted by anonymous, like you all
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 10, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Dr. Maurice Ghysels has done alot for this district, and therefore, for our children. He certainly did a better job than the last one - that is for sure!!

You may not agree morally with what happened, but sometimes things happen. Before you start writing - think about your own life, your own family, your own friends. Things happen, and we forgive people.

I sincerely hope that Dr. Ghysels finds a great new job and is successful.

I am optimistic that Craig Goldman will be an excellent Superintendent. He was a great leader at Huff (I am told), and he has done a superb job in the district in many more capacities than his stated title of CFO.

It is over - Dr. Ghysels is leaving and Mr. Goldman has been appointed.

Please stop whining and complaining now. Please let us move on.

Posted by Jim
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 10, 2009 at 5:21 pm

Taking Craig Goldman, an internal Principal and CFO, without any community input beyond the Board is quite a risk. His 12 years is good experience, but none as Assistant Superintendent or Superintendent.
The Board has saved money, and that is good, but in nearly all similar situations there was at least a limited search. The comparison gave a better chance to succeed. I have my fingers crossed!
Maurice Gysels has been good for our district and I hope Craig Goldman will be as great!

Posted by resident and teacher
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 10, 2009 at 5:22 pm

In my comment earlier, my main concern is not regarding the qualifications of any administrator, but that the community should have a role in such a pivotal decision. Even when a great candidate if found within the district, the community is due more than just being informed. I can’t speak for others but I hope more dialogue is given to the issue of community involvement, rather than all this personal gossip that fills these boards.

I too agree with earlier statements that executive search firms have brought questionable returns for their investment, that said, community input should have been sought.

Resident and teacher,
Christopher Chiang

Posted by parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Appoint Goldman Superintendent? Why, to save money? Stupid reason.

I did not care for Goldman as principal at Huff and was very, very happy to see him leave. I certainly don't want to see him be GIVEN the Superintendent position.

Posted by Steve
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 10, 2009 at 5:48 pm

Something really sounds odd, fishy, and just outright wacky about all this. Talk about the tail wagging the dog.

"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."

So three years ago when Maurice--who we should now consider a Messianic figure--was on board he was already looking for a replacement??? During his first year??? This sounds almost as if there was some sort of Providential design in place for these Lords of the Ring.

"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."

Have they got crystal balls in the district offices to read the future? Wow, I'm impressed.

Again, are we talking about some sort of coup d'etat or royal succession that has been in the works? For how long, and more importantly why? Have plans for a succession been in place all along. Was the board informed and always set to go along with it? Was it a condition for been appointed to the board?

Why doesn't Goldman just say Maurice got caught, he's being fired, and I accept the offer? I don't get it. I suggest everyone take a hard look at what's written in the article and ask yourself why all the preordained nonsense and deflection from a scandal. This is a terrible way to start things off anew. What a disappointment, again.

Posted by Special Ed. Mom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 10, 2009 at 6:07 pm

I am confident that Craig Goldman will be an excellent superintendent, he is well known throughout the district, is fair minded and knows his stuff. I wish Maurice the best of luck in his next endeavour. Say what you will, but he did pump new life into an ailing district and our kids have benefitted from it. I wish Maurice and Craig lots of luck with their new jobs.

Posted by Mom
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 10, 2009 at 6:09 pm

-"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."-

I did not know that the superintendent was in a position to decide who his successor would be. I always had the idea that the superintendent was elected or at least more people would be taken into consideration rather than one single individual deciding the future of MVWSD. Even during this moments more things that confirm the arrogant personality of our superintendent keep coming out. Whether it is voluntarily or not, I'm glad that he's leaving.

Posted by Ay Papi
a resident of Castro City
on Nov 10, 2009 at 6:26 pm

Well, he definitely [portion removed] and he left in disgrace.

I feel sorry for the next victims of his ego.

Posted by parent
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 10, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Hold on now. Back on the 26th of October Ghysels was spewing how he was focused on the his goals for the district and that his professional life was NOT in conflict with his personal life. You got the feeling he wasn't going anywhere. And now this.

Two-weeks of articles, rumors, commentary, speculation and a specially convened board meeting follow and low and behold he's been planning to leave all along and has been looking for work outside the district. On top of it, he has been grooming a successor since almost the day he got here? And we are all just supposed to lap it up.

And that's the new spin. He's not being pressured or asked to leave, he's telling us he's leaving. It was up to him all along. What presumption. The guy has learned nothing from this experience. No contrition. No mea culpa. No apologies. Nada. Any small measure of respect or salvation for the guy was just squandered. He's his own worst enemy.

I agree with Steve. Why is it so hard on the part of the board and Goldman just stay silent on the issue or just admit that the superintendent put himself in a very bad light by mixing his personal and professional life and found it more beneficial for the district and morale to just step down? That would have been so much more the honorable and respectful thing to do. Instead, the spin machine started spinning.

What bothers me most is that Goldman seems perfectly comfortable with going along with the arranged spin. Then again maybe the board has a legal issue they are dealing with and found this strategy to be the best one to avoid litigation. We'll never know.

If Goldman wants to be successful, however, he will put and end to manipulating the public. Speak honestly and openly. If he does that, he will solve a lot of the problems of communication in this district.

The second thing he should do is clean house at the district office and throw out all those that have been going along with the Ghysel's deception as well as those who he recruited to be complicit in covering up his scandal and conflict or interest.

Guess what Ghysels? It's time "to get the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off the bus." Time to get off the bus, Ghysels. That's a page right out of your CI manual. Good riddance. The superintendent of human resources Stephanie Totter should consider stepping down, as well as the assistant superintendent Mary Lairon. They are tainted and clearly have been covering for Ghysels through all of this and will never be able to get back on message and build trust among the staff. Trust in the leadership and mutual respect must be rebuilt.

Posted by long time resident
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 10, 2009 at 8:13 pm

Great comments from "parent, a resident of old mountain view". I couldn't of said it better myself. You really did put things in perspective.

Posted by Colin G.
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2009 at 11:31 pm

I believe Craig Goldman will make an excellent superintendent.

He brings to bear the competence, experience, and passion that is so often missing in the senior ranks of our contemporary public education system.

If your school district doesn't appreciate him, we (neighboring school district) will gladly take him off your hands!

Posted by parent
a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 10, 2009 at 11:57 pm

So when the districts merged in 2001 we had Trish Bubenik as the superintendent. She was fired by the board and Eleanor Yick took over as interim. Jim Negri was hired and stayed for 2 years and then Eleanor Yick took over again as 'acting' superintendent.

When Maurice Ghysels came to the district, it was with the hope that we would have some stability and that he would stay for a while, he even bought a house in the district, showing that he was committed to staying. Well here we are, just 3 years later in the last year of his contract, and once again the district will have new leadership. My 9th grader who started Kindergarten in 2000 has seen 6 different superintendents in 9 years. Time for the board to find someone who is truly willing to make a serious commitment to our schools and our children!

Posted by Augie
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 11, 2009 at 7:22 am

-Ah Maurice , he came in looking like George Clooney and leaves looking like Adam Carolla

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 11, 2009 at 8:30 am

The school board has done a disservice to this community by not making the choice of a succeeding superintendent a PUBLIC PROCESS. We did not elect the last board with the directive to empower the superintendent to choose a successor!

I'm all for hiring internally if possible and advisable. But the designee - has experience with only one school in our district. He may have been a good fit for most of those parents - but what about the rest of us? Does he speak Spanish or know how to work with middle school situations? (guess who I'm thinking of).

"Spin" is appropriate in this situation - because reality, especially social reality - is more complicated and nuanced than you can ever imagine.

Posted by Martha
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 11, 2009 at 11:31 am

To Mom from Shoreline West: The Superintendent is not an elected official, he is hired by the School Board. You can and should let the board know about any decision of theirs you disagree with. Email them. The email address is on the district's website.

Steve: "was it a condition for being appointed to the board." People get "appointed" to the board only because lately, there is never more than one candidate running for an open seat. Hence, no election is necessary, since there's only one candidate, and that person is "appointed." Doesn't matter who it is or what their positions on district policies are, if they are the only candidate, they are appointed.

I find it funny that people are always saying the school district should be run like a corporation -- then when they incorporate procedures or ideas from the corporate world (e.g., Continuous Improvement; or a "CEO" who knows he won't be in the job forever and grooms an internal candidate who will be an excellent replacement, so you have someone with experience and history with your organization taking over, providing much-needed continuity) everyone screams.

As far a community input on this choice -- yes, everyone should have the opportunity to give it. Everyone does have the ability to. As I said -- email address for the board on the website. Input all you want. Public sessions are good, and it probably would be a good thing to do, but you are not prohibited from providing input just because there's not a meeting held in an MUR somewhere.

Regarding the complaint about the rotating superintendents -- that we want someone who will stay. I agree completely that continuity is important. Which is why I think Craig is great choice. He already knows the district's strong and weak points, knows what the hot-button topics are, has weathered more than one storm here already. He does speak some Spanish, I don't know how fluently. I know he made this a priority when the Spanish-language population at Huff increased after Slater's closure. His experience even when he was a Huff principal extended beyond Huff, since he headed up the GATE committee for several years, and I believe was very involved in the district's ELAC committee, meaning he had to work with every school site. He was involved at the district level for years before becoming CFO, on many things. Plus, he is arguably one of the smartest people in the district.

He has a record of coming into an administrative job without years of experience in that particular area, taking over a contentious situation, and turning it into a great success. When Huff opened and he was hired, he had been a summer school principal, and I believe that that was his only experience as a principal. The process for filling the teacher slots at Huff was not handled well by the district at that time, as I understand it, and as a result Huff was staffed by teachers who felt that they had been mistreated and were very resentful. Craig had to take this unhappy group and turn it into a team. Which he did, with great success. He was a huge part of Huff's great sense of community right from the start.

No principal (or superintendent, board member, or other human) can please every parent, no matter how good they are at their jobs. So I'm sure there are some parents who were unhappy with Huff or with Craig for one thing or another. I had some disagreements with him here and there over the years. But I'm pretty confident that the overwhelming majority of Huff parents would tell you that he was a fantastic principal, and think that the board would be hard-pressed to find a better candidate for MVWSD. People might not agree with every decision he will make in that job -- any administrator who tries to please everyone will end up doing nothing, at least nothing of value -- but his decisions are always based on careful consideration, and are always what he truly believes to be in the best interest of the children.

PLUS -- even if the superintendent "grooms" a candidate, it is still up to the board. They can certainly hire a search firm if they choose. But they know Craig, and I think they are planning to hire him to the position not because Maurice says so, but because of his history with the district, his obvious intelligence, his track record of building consensus, focusing on the kids and making academic achievement a top priority for all. He was a great communicator as a Huff principal. His principal's coffees were full of pertinent information regarding how our kids were doing in all areas, academic and otherwise.

Honestly, I think if the district spends money on a search at this time, it would be foolish indeed.

Posted by concerned parent
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 11, 2009 at 12:21 pm

In his entry speech Maurice said he was "here for the long haul". Yeah, took sometime for the mask to fall.

Posted by tired of these snobs who say they care about our kids education
a resident of Castro City
on Nov 11, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Martha, why do you need to come here do all this lobbying for your friend Huff ex-Principal Goldman? All these "Waverly Park neighborhood" folks want is push back on the Spanish speaking population at Huff, and falsely maintain the impression they have a very nice school with high scores on the state tests. Wake up, the reality is another.

Posted by Martha
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 11, 2009 at 12:56 pm

To "tired of these snobs..." -- I guess I "come here to lobby" as you put it for the same reason you all do -- to express my opinion. I am sorry if I offended you by offering an opinion on a subject that I actually know something about -- the qualifications and experience of the person I was discussing. Craig is a person I respect, but he is not my "friend." He was my kids' principal and someone I worked with, and sometimes argued with, over the course of 8 years as a parent and volunteer at the school. My opinion was formed based on my observation of him doing his job.

I do wish people on this forum could refrain from name calling. It cheapens the debate, and distracts from the issues we should be discussing. For the record, I actually am not a snob. I've been called many things, for sure, many not complimentary, and many of those probably accurate; but I don't think "snob" is one of them.

Posted by Don Frances
Mountain View Voice Editor
on Nov 11, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Don Frances is a registered user.


I agree wholeheartedly. The poster calling him or herself "tired of these snobs..." is the first to leave an inappropriate comment in what has otherwise been a great comment thread.

Posted by Elaine
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 11, 2009 at 1:16 pm

I think when the community wanted the district be run like a business, they were thinking in terms of handling personnel and spending money – not instituting a CI program that heaps useless work on teachers and students thus detracting from actual curriculum. What I interpreted “run more like a business’ to mean was basing promotions and raises and bonuses and dismissals based on ACTUAL job performance. When I say actual, I mean hard facts about what they are doing to improve teaching and curriculum for all levels of our students, not self-serving statements saying what a great district we are. I don’t think “run like a business’ meant to people that you bring in some hot shot CEO for a limited time, he rescues all of us and grooms the next Superintendent for us. I think people were hoping for someone dedicated and committed to stay. Maurice should have been focusing upon mentoring principals (some of the duds he hasd hired) and mentoring the Assist. Superintendents to do better at their jobs thus producing actual results.

There is a lot of speculation about Mr, Goldman’s appointment. The way this was announced just tainted things yet again with this district personnel’s “spin”. They should have been honest as “parent of Old MV” stated. I find it odd that somehow Maurice has landed once again on his feet – he is taking his time to locate his next good job while “training the next Superintendent” for us. Translation by the board: he can take his time, he had a master plan all along, he did nothing wrong. The board’s number one job is to hire and manage our Superintendent. They have failed to publicly recognize that he did something wrong and they are allowing him to stay on the job for an indefinite amount of time to suit his job hunt.

I agree with the notion that our district is in need of some “house cleaning”. Bad practices, double standards, unprofessional conduct has been tolerated for too long. Stop the culture of “spin”. Say it like it is - the public will respect that. Stop telling us that “scores have risen”. Tell us what you are actually doing to make that happen. Tell us what you are doing to improve things on the classroom level - things that directly affect our kids. What new levels of curriculum are you providing for the different levels of students? What are you doing to motivate students to learn? What are you doing to coach teachers on classroom management? How are you using the money responsibly to help at the student level? NOT how are you working on our image? Not what logo did you pay to have developed? Not, did you provide business cards with the new logo for employees? Not how many expensive MVWSD signs you have erected at all the schools (that no one cares about).

And yes, the district office has run too long in an arrogant fashion without community input. When questions about math and the curriculum are raised by parents, they are all too quickly stifled and swept under the rug. There are no meetings inviting the community to discuss curriculum. Interview processes for principals are extremely controlled by the district office. Some of the site councils have just become rubber stamps. The committee that meets with the Asst. Super. about curriculum in the district office has evolved to the Asst. Super. talking AT the community, not allowing input.

Now the same thing is happening with the appointment of the Superintendent. It would have been nice to have sought some public involvement on the matter. It doesn’t have to be resorting to a search firm. But they should have at least asked for feedback about the process for deciding on the next Superintendent.

Mr. Goldman will be successful if he puts an end to all the “spin”. Will he be able to sever his peer relationship with the Asst. Supers and change things for the better? Can he bring in new administration that will be truly respected by the employees and the community? That will be the true test and will finally change this district for the better.

Posted by Tom
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 11, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Those that have been following the schools for a long time will know that Ghsyels is not leaving because he wants to, but because he is being forced to. He's, in essence, being fired, just like Patty Polifrone was. Of course, in public education you can never really fire anyone. They will both just move on to wreak more havoc elsewhere. As we all know by now, it's all a "personnel matter" and can't be discussed!

We also should know by now this talk of Goldman's rise to power and ascent to the office of superintendent is just meant to distract everyone and get them off the topic of Ghysels' inappropriate relationship with the Mizell, the Landel's principal. The assumption would appear to be that district employees, parents, and the community are all fools.

At least the article header is accurate and to the point. Ghysels will step down.

An opportunity was lost here again, which suggests some deeply ingrained faulty thinking on the part of the board and at the district office level, along with some twisted forms of loyalty. Until those elements change, nothing will change in this district. All people want here is the straight truth, albeit good, bad, or ugly. I just don't think we are ever going to get it. I would love to see many of the points raised above addressed by the Voice.

For all those praising Ghsyels ad nauseum, guess what? He was expected to do a good job. He started off alright, didn't read the signals very well, hung everything on CI, and then tripped over his sword (figuratively speaking of course) and ruined it all. He's hardly even finishing out his contract. Read between the lines: he's been stripped of his command and authority. Stepping down before you have a job in November of the last year of your contract basically translates as you're fired. He doesn't get credit for being half way or almost successful. Like it or not folks, he didn't do what he was paid for. He made some pretty poor personal and professional choices--shocked the hec out of me. But now we have to listen and read about these fabricated accounts of what supposedly happened and didn't? Get the public off topic and get them going in another direction--more "perception is everything" and the "truth is relevant". Pretty amazing.

We are spun this story that Ghysels had a hand in selecting his successor. We are told a good successor can only come from within the district. Do you mean to tell me that with six months left before the district finds itself rudderless that the job couldn't at least have been advertised and opened up to applicants without the need of a consultant firm? Post the position, see how many people apply, and review the resumes in April or May. I guess we'll never if there were any real ex-CEOs, military officers, or superintendents with a strong track record looking to move into the area due to a spouse's job relocation or something like that. We'll never know if there had been a successful superintendent out there looking to relocate geographically or to take on another challenge. We'll never know. Six months ahead, it's all decided. Appoint from within. Ghysels takes credit for the suspended brilliance of it all (as to be expected--wow, it all just makes so much sense now, how could we all have been such fools not to have seen it?!?!). It turns out it was all part of his master plan and inherent genius. The real reason he's stepping down is swept under the rug. Anything to take the negative light off of him. The board plays along as if we are not located in heart of Silicon Valley and innovation, but rather some back-wood hickville. Absurd.

On top of all this, the board gave him raise. They should all resign right behind him. He's a wash out, and the board's proven they either aren't qualified or aren't up for the job. And let's just wait and see what the contract for Goldman looks like during this down economy. I'm willing to give him a chance, but that will be the first test.

But back to my point. There's a good chance Ghysels was involved in a conflict of interest and corrupt all along. He declines to state when his relationship with Mizell began, no doubt because he would be filleted by his soon to be ex-wife, or maybe even his first ex-wife. If this was a long-term relationship just discovered, then he definitely was playing favorites in hiring, firing, moving and managing principals. The board won't investigate the chance that this was a long-term conflict of interest, but they are more than ready to spout how Ghysels was planning for his successor since his first year on the job. Just unbelievable. Since we will never know the truth, it's better to err on the side of caution and assume he was corrupted early on.

And then there's this: "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."

Generally? What the hec does than mean? Who's in charge now? That's the question that needs to be answered immediately! It's still not clear. What about the issues of a conflict of interest between Ghysels and Mizell? Has all that been swept under the rug?

"Goldman will begin to train for his new position?" What? Under Ghysels? And who's going to stop Ghsyels from making deliberately poor decisions between now and when he leaves or pursuing personal vendettas during his lame duck session, all to make him look better than his successor once he's gone? He's the personality to do such a thing.

The whole situation is such a mess, I give up. Put your kids in private schools Mountain View. This stuff never ends.

Posted by Martha
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 11, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Elaine, As far as running the finances like a business -- perhaps that would be better. I don't think individual districts have the power to make that happen. Isn't that part of the ongoing national discussion? It's not just our district, it's the public education system everywhere. With the unions, restrictions on funding from feds and state, etc., there are a lot of players to "blame" on that one. I never felt it was fair to blame MVWSD administration for that. Those reforms might be beneficial, might not, time would tell; but at any rate, I think a lot of that is actually not in their hands right now.

I'll say that the parts of CI I saw from my student, I liked. They were the SMART goals, teaching my daughter how to set realistic goals, figure out how she could measure success, what steps she had to take to achieve them. Even if the goal itself seemed pretty small and simplistic, it was that all of her teachers used the same process to teach her how to identify goals, figure out if they were achievable, how to get there and how to assess her success. I think that the benefit over time would be that she would learn that process and hopefully be able to apply it all her life. She never had that kind of clear process and guidance before. I think if every teacher she had, from Kindergarten on up, had been using that system, it might well be second nature for her by now. I think it is a good skill to build.

I also have heard, second-hand I will admit, that Landels teachers adopted CI whole-heartedly and are very happy with the program. Other schools, where only some teachers do it, or do in only partially, say it doesn't work; but I say you can't judge a program unless you give it a fair trial and really do it as it's supposed to be done. My guess is that this has not happened consistently, and until it has been, we can't say if it's either successful or unsuccessful.

Posted by Mar
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 11, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Tom, everyone knows the real reason he is stepping down. Can't sweep that under any rug. Not sure what sort of conspiracy this is pointing to.

I believe that Craig Goldman has been on the district's radar (administrators/board members/many parents) in general as potential Superintendent material for a long time, pre-dating Maurice. Which makes complete sense, as he is, as I opined earlier, more than highly qualified for the job.

Posted by parent/teacher's spouse
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 11, 2009 at 2:55 pm


One problem with CI is that it imposes time-consuming extra processes that don't necessarily produce tangible results and take time away from more important tasks. And given that very few other school districts have implemented it, you cannot say that it has been proven effective with widespread use.

Basically, the MVWSD has been a guinea pig for CI, and I haven't seen anything to indicate that it has produced results that merit the distraction it has caused teachers.

Posted by Tom
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 11, 2009 at 3:02 pm

I'm not saying it's a sort of conspiracy, only that, as you put it, if everyone knows why he's stepping down, just say why, or nothing at all. But to deflect the entire discussion away from the source of him stepping down all seems just silly.

I've got nothing against Goldman. He should distance himself from all this however. He's also not to blame for the board's decision to appoint him, but I do fault the board for not at least considering or airing out other options.

Posted by Lisa
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 11, 2009 at 4:16 pm

So the school board is just going to help Ghysels?

What happened to morals and ethics?

He had, and still has an on-going inappropriate relationship with Carmen Mizell. He was, and still is her boss. Why is this behavior being tolerated? He is just going to be able to find a new job and move on as if nothing scandalous ever happened? And what about Carmen Mizell? She gets to keep her job despite breaking ethical standards that every educator is expected to follow.

This is ridiculous. The announcement that he will be stepping down (although no timeframe was given), is just an attempt to make the scandal go away. Is there no accountability in this district? How can you deter future bad behavior if you rewards these people. They should absolutley be fired immediately. I would also suggest that their credentials be in jeopardy, as they ha ve betrayed the public's trust.

Its not just that both of them had affairs. Although that certainly doesn't make me think of them as role models for our children. Its that they knew there was a conflict of interest, and they hid it. We have to wonder what other unethical things they did. I am just as disgusted that they are still continuing their affair. They should be focused on their jobs and their divorces first. Carmen has had major health problems, and you have to wonder if Maurice took advantage of that.

Bottom line is that the school board is doing a great injustice by putting up with unethical employees. What does that say about our district? There are many other well-qualified candidates out there who can be great principals and superintendents. We need to find honest, hard working professionals who are here for our children, and fire Maurice Ghysels and Carmen Mizell immediately!!!

Posted by Peter
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 11, 2009 at 5:44 pm

The issue with letting Maurice and Carmen go immediately is that the district would then be responsible for their severance pay. I just can't see giving Maurice any more $$ than he is already has taken. The district should not have to pay to have him removed and yet I'm sure he has it in bold print in his contract as it seems he really knows how to cover his ... If he has planned for his successor, I'm sure he has planned for his indiscretions.

There was just a statement from the LASD that their supe is retiring - maybe they haven't heard about the scandal, or how about East Side, they are used to this kind of behavior. I agree that there should have been a real time line put in place by the board, but it has been said many times in the blogs that it seems the board is also in Maurice's pocket. Somehow, in their minds, he can do no wrong - I don't understand how they can't see what is right in front of their eyes.

It is certainly the time for the community to make their feelings known to the board. Use the email address, they welcome comments and input. Don't let your questions go unanswered. At the board meeting, they only want comments that pertain to the evenings agenda. EMAILS can cover any questions.

Posted by castro mom
a resident of Castro City
on Nov 11, 2009 at 6:14 pm

I've worked with Craig Goldman and I think he would do a great job. Is it really true, is Dr. Maurice Gysels "stepping down?" WoW!Now, what about this situation going on with the others at the D.O.? I wish the Asst. Superintendent et. al would have been more transparent. Its really hard to believe them. You have to earn trust!!=> So, if Craig Goldman is going to be our next Superintendent, I have no problem with that. I wish him well. Is there going to be anything made public about this or is the D.O. going to push this under the rug as well and not give us any details...? Just wondering.....

Posted by castro mom
a resident of Castro City
on Nov 11, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Sorry, I meant to spell it "Ghysels." My bad!!;)

Posted by see how you are
a resident of another community
on Nov 11, 2009 at 6:49 pm

blah blah blah UNPROFESSIONAL noise noise noise FOR SHAME whine whine whine SLEAZE BALL!!!


Posted by Very Concerned Huff Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 11, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Hard to believe that all these parents think Goldman is good for the District. He is "good" when you agree with him. He requires his staff to completely agree with him and does not ever entertain differing ideas. He did not promote excellence at Huff. He wanted Huff to be mediocre by not letting the students excel to their appropriate levels. Goldman is not good news for our district and more importantly for our high-achieving students.

Posted by QM
a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 11, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Whats with all the venom. -- What happened to Gavin Newsom anyway.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 11, 2009 at 8:13 pm

My impression of Ghysels was always that he was a phony scammer. On the several occasions I spoke with him, the discussion inevitably focused back on him and his self-promoting. He's like a salesman that just won't stop, even though you got the feeling he didn't feel passionate about the good of students. If you take all his experience listed on the district website, and divide it by the number of years he has supposedly been active in management, things just don't jive. However, he's actually given the district probably more time than any other job he's held. The board fell for this con man and so did the Landel's principal.

At least Goldman has been stable in his career. This could not hurt at this point. That said, Goldman's entire experience was at Huff which is the top end of the school district. That plus two years cooking the books under Ghysels. I can't figure out what the board is thinking, but can only guess there must be something else they are worried about here.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 11, 2009 at 8:23 pm

This legal opinion link and synopsis below perhaps summarizes the dilemma the board is in which is at the heart of all this:

Web Link

"There is no basis for a sexual harassment in this case since Ghysels never created a hostile working environment and Mizell never claimed to have received unwelcome sexual acts. However, since Ghysels engaged in a sexual relationship with a subordinate, there may be cause for sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct though is not illegal in nature, but it is often against professional codes of ethics. If the board had a policy for this, then it could have caused him his job. But since the board admitted that there is none, they will just have to be content in frowning upon the act and make moves to avoid conflict of interests. Otherwise, if they fire Ghysels, it may be a cause for a wrongful termination lawsuit."

Posted by Mark
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Nov 11, 2009 at 8:45 pm

Interesting point. Ghysels just may have the board bent of a barrel after all.

What ever happened to "at will" employment anyway? And what's with these contracts that make it impossible to get rid of a guy without shelling out tons of money?

Pay close attention trustees, and YOU set the terms for the next contract.

Posted by Peter
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 11, 2009 at 10:01 pm

Get your facts straight, if you need to bring Pat Polifrone's name into this at least be accurate! She was not fired!! She resigned from the district and left with a smile.

Maurice should have to give the district money when he finally graces us with his exit - the sooner, the better! He should pay for any lawyers fees that were/are incurred to keep his indiscretions under wraps.

Craig needs to make sure that he works WITH the teachers and school staff not make mandates. He has a tendency to want to call the shots without input. He also needs to make clear communications with the staff and community.

Posted by Liberty
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 11, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Too many Puritans in this country.

Posted by OhMy!
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 12, 2009 at 6:39 am

Now that Mr. Ghysels has chosen to do the right thing we need to stop focusing on him and start working with our new Superentendent in waiting.

At our school, I've seen turnover in leadership which resets the education themostat to zero each time. All the while kids are biding time away with no leadership at the top either at the school or district level.

Our school struggles to offer differentiated learning opportunities to its higher level GATE students who represent a reasonable % (25%?) of the school’s population. Budget for GATE funding provides for a once a week after school club with non-academic activities.

Teachers struggle to offer differentiated learning opportunities for advanced learners while also meeting the demands of districts misadventure in Continuous Improvement (CI) with its myopic emphasis on drills to pass NCLB and State testing. The school should consider other approaches including targeted middle school style class rotations starting in grade 2 that would allow teachers to offer targeted intervention at the right level for each student allowing teachers the ability to focus. If the many parent volunteers took a break, the school would have serious challenges.

Let's get the message out to our new leadership that we want change NOW and want them to empower teachers to be creative instead of continueing this misadventure called CI.


Posted by Mark
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Nov 12, 2009 at 6:58 am

OhMy! raises some good points. Both an opportunity and challenge and a danger exist at this moment with leadership in question at various levels in the district. The Asst and Assc Supes have largely become enforcers of Ghysels' agenda over the last 4 years (not 5 Mr. Palmer) and so have a few hand selected principals beyond Mizell who were chosen more for being loyal to his ego and agenda ("yes" types) rather than willing to stand up when necessary and contest a point based on professional experience in the field. Now that we see Ghysels true character coming out, we must take a hard look at the rest of leadership. I also feel that the board has not addressed the elephant in the room with their secret selection of Goldman as heir to the throne. While I agree the high achievers in the district need to be challenged more, it's the low performing minority population (actually close to 50% now) that will present the greatest problems. Goldman doesn't appear to have much of a record with the group, and speaking a little Spanish is only a token trait to address the issue.

Posted by OhMy!
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 12, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Great points Mark.

If we start differentiating and using more appropriate targeted approaches to learning we raise expectations by setting appropriate channenges/rewards & intervention.

Do nothing and as we've seen in my school, we'll continue to lose more families to other public school districts in Los Altos, Palo Alto and Cupertino.

At the end of the day we want all boats to be lifted.

Posted by concerned parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 12, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Dr. Maurice Ghysels has done alot for this district, and therefore, for our children. has done alot for this district, and therefore, for our children. Mr. Goldman also has done alot for Huff and Huff students and much more.

I am happy to see Mr. Goldman to be in Dr. Ghysels'shoe, and I don't see the reason for Dr. Ghysels to step down. Did Dr. Ghysels do anything terrible to our kids? NO. If you think the role modle for our kids, look at ex-president Clinton!

This is OUR school, OUR community, OUR neighbord. Be friends with everyone in OUR community.

Best luck to both Dr. Maurice Ghysels and Mr. Goldman.

Posted by Elaine
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 12, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Dear Concerned Parent,

See my earlier comments...especially paragraph three. Not sure what the "alot" is that Ghysels has done for my children.

By the way, not sure Mr. Goldman wants to "be in Dr. Ghysel's shoes".


Posted by enough already
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 13, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Craig Goldman is so far above the bar for the superintendent position you all need to be thankful and be supportive. Pay attention and stay involved, but mostly, be diligent parents and raise responsible kids, and stop looking for trouble!

It takes a village -so be a village and work together to make all kids in Mountain View successful. Stop comparing - many of the greatest gifts come from the diversity and challenge a community like MV offers.

Mr. Goldman is a person of great intelligence and character, we are lucky to have him. How about a gracious reception and welcome rather than the usual negative naysayers spreading their venom. Welcome Mr. Goldman and thank you for being willing to continue sharing your compassionate leadership!

Posted by current student parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 13, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Ghysels has done zippo for my child and my personal opinion is that he's damaged our school population. My expectations for Goldman are very small (nice for him as it will be easy to meet objectives). While Goldman may have enjoyed early success as a principal I think he's riding on his early reputation.

Now that Goldman has climbed the district career ladder we need to hold his feet to the fire and have much higher expectations of him (yes raise the bar) to show excellence for all students across all demographics, socio economic backgrounds and educational levels.

I personally would welcome the investment in a real search for innovative leaders, sadly, I don't think our school board has the stomach for it......

Posted by castro mom
a resident of Castro City
on Nov 13, 2009 at 7:49 pm

Ok, I like the point some have made about Goldman's character. I have talked with him, called him to discuss things that were of concern and he has always been available to listen to me. Lets welcome him! Please, no more negative "venom", as someone said. And yes, this is our village, so lets make it our village and raise responsible children. And, we need to be part of the solution. We need to make our voice heard--louder! That means going out at night to meetings that ask for our input. No whining, just do it already!!=> While I am very disappointed in the "behavior" of our Superintendent and Ms. Mizell; I realize we have to move on, even though it really irks me that there was never much said on their part. Sigh. Yeah, I'm over the shock of it, but not the effects.

Posted by Augie
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 15, 2009 at 9:56 am

It is unavoidable that one or both administrators in this relationship has to move on to avoid conflict of interest.

But if the Board really would like to reform the culture and climate at MVWSD they should find someone other than that angry fossil Stephanie Totter to handle HR. The partiality, favoritism, and blind allegiance she has shown in bending rules and skirting ethics to accommodate her friends and higher ups is really astounding. I thought she'd be gone after padding Eleanor Yick's pension, but I guess she has done so much of the District's dirty work over the years they feel they must keep her on.

If we are ever going to be able to move forward from this latest lapse in judgment and personnel management we need someone new, who can meet the challenges of staffing a school district with an eye toward excellence, integrity and fairness. We don't have that now.

Posted by parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2009 at 11:59 am

To Augie:

I agree with your very well written comment. I had a disturbing experience with Stephanie Totter as well. She is one-sided and unprofessional. Maybe an overhaul of the entire district is what is needed to keep a good reputation.

Posted by Enough!
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 15, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Augie, I couldn't agree with you more! Totter has been interpreting policy and guidance as it suits her agenda more than what it ethical and right.

Let's not forget that when Totter padded Eleanor Yick's and the other assistant supers pension, an investigation by STRS and Ghysles proved nothing was technically done illegally. It was a loop-hole. Not illegal, but not right or ethical. Not surprising. There are efforts underway to ensure that the cost of employee benefits and perk costs cannot be factored into the last three highest salary upon retirement (a move that netted each administrator a 20-30% raise--for life!)

We wonder why the schools are always crying for money. Yes Totter should be shown the door as well.

Posted by school parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 15, 2009 at 2:57 pm

These Administrators will be available to listen to but how many people can say that your input resulted in lasting change?

My experience is that our school system prefers parents to contribute $ and volunteer hours in helping run the specialized centers but that is where the partnership stops.

Our school Administrators seem to suffer from an inability to imagine the possibilities and a general lack of leadership skills necessary to invigorate teachers and mobilize parents.

Like other Mountain View Voices, I'd like to see some year end house cleaning. With this economic recession and great CA weather, we should have no difficulty filling our District offices with true leaders.

Posted by Elaine
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 17, 2009 at 9:17 pm

I really agree with all the above comments. "School Parent" worded it well. We've also had bad experiences with Stephanie Totter and Mary Lairon. And it is so true, they always want the parent's money and volunteer hours, but no input, feedback or participation in ideas. In our view this district could use a complete cleaning with top management otherwise, the same attitudes, behavior and reputation continue. This is why this district has not really succeeded for so many years and has failed my children. Nobody at the top with real vision.

Posted by Moe
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 21, 2009 at 2:12 pm

This episode sounds eerily familiar to the episode when the last CFO all of a sudden decided to step down in the midst of the salary spiking retirement scandal a few years back. Check out the previous Voice article here:

Web Link

They're always so quick to point out that their unexpected announcements have nothing to do with the scandal du jour.

Posted by reader
a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 23, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Keep hoping but believe - none of them are going anywhere. Who would have any of them? The superintendent says he's looking and everyone believes him. The article is titled, "District says Ghysels will Step Down", well NO, the board has accepted a letter that says he's looking. Has anyone asked for a timeline? Does anyone have any proof that he has actually applied anywhere?

Unfortunately for the district, he's here until he feels like leaving. We are stuck with him because no one in their right mind will take him.

Posted by Curly
a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 23, 2009 at 9:02 pm

"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."

There were few parents or former parents in attendance because the board announced this meeting at the last minute, allotted 5 minutes of public input before it went into closed session, and 5 minutes after it came out. A member of the public seeking to comment is allowed three minutes max to comment, so go figure no one showed up! Typical shenanigans.

Posted by No More of This Please
a resident of Jackson Park
on Nov 23, 2009 at 9:45 pm

The story never change so-called educational leaders fleecing the taxpayers and taking the focus off of students. It's all about money, power, and ego. Just read the papers and watch the news. Ghysels today, Bob Nunez of East Side Union tomorrow, Rosa Perez of the community college district (may turn out to be the worst-link below. The trustess are oblivious to it all. We the people are treated like chumps and suckers. Meanwhile, we wonder why the state is going bankrupt and we read that we will now have to pay 30% more to get our kids through the UC system. This crap needs to stop and change needs to happen.

Web Link

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