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Teacher claims Mountain View Whisman district failed to prevent rape, assaults

Original post made on Sep 5, 2019

A former Theuerkauf Elementary School teacher filed a civil suit last month against the Mountain View Whisman School District, claiming that the principal and district administrators failed to protect her from a predatory teacher.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, September 5, 2019, 10:42 AM

Comments (29)

51 people like this
Posted by momof 2
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 5, 2019 at 1:26 pm

MV School district has some serious issues. When will someone competent take charge and get this district back on track?


38 people like this
Posted by james S
a resident of Bailey Park
on Sep 5, 2019 at 3:01 pm

That's the problem, you're assuming the people who do the hiring to find this competent person are competent themselves?
Always starts from the top......


12 people like this
Posted by Poppadop
a resident of Willowgate
on Sep 5, 2019 at 3:29 pm

Another big question is why Santa Clara PD first reduced and then dropped the charges, if any or all of what the victim claims actually happened. (I'm not doubting her veracity, just wondering how it is that investigators didn't have enough to go on to make the charges stick.) And where is Bryan Dios teaching now, one wonders?


56 people like this
Posted by Standing Ovation
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 5, 2019 at 3:33 pm

My, my, my. There can be no doubt that Carmen Ghysels appears to have a history of being tone deaf to issues of sexual impropriety, let alone sexual harassment. After all, one person's perception of sexual harassment may very well be another person's perception of a great hook-up possibility. Past MV Voice articles detail Ghysel's path to the top, to include her affair with the then married former district superintendent to more than illustrate the point. The Board, headed by Wheeler, excused any lingering issues about suitability and ethics on that sultry chapter of the school district's history. So are we really surprised any more? It all falls into place now. Santiago was demoted and them promoted, while much more qualified principals were let go during Rudolph's Great Principal Purge of 2018--an event that was followed by the pigeon-holing of cronies into the positions of our much beloved principals. Perhaps Rudolph and Ghysels were afraid Santiago would sing if he lost his job? This also explains why Huff Principal Chang has suddenly disappeared from the scene to purportedly take some time off. The fact that there are now two lawsuits echoing the same allegations certainly does not look good for the district. Even more ridiculous is that the Board just approved a sizable raise for Ghysels amidst the unfolding of all this. So, I'll say it again. Time to clean house. Recall the Board. Fire Ghysels and Rudolph.


40 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2019 at 4:01 pm

Now we know why Mr. Chang "Mysteriously" left Huff Elementary School after having a great tenure at Crittenden prior to that position. Yikes. I always found Mr. Chang as a stern leader and making sure that things ran smoothly. Little did we know about the drama that was happening behind closed doors and away from the general public.

As for Carmen Ghysels, now I see why she would be the kind of person to "turn the cheek" when real incidents occur. I had an incident with my child regarding another district employee harassing students and abusing their campus power- someone who was allowed to insult and flex too much muscle in the name of being an "example" to the students where in fact this individual showed nothing but maturity and downright antagonism. Mrs. Ghysels offered to have a meeting to see if this would be resolved but what would a meeting do? Allow us to hold hands and meditate until all was forgiven? Ridiculous way of trying to handle things. In another school district, that person would have been fired in light of the incidents that have occurred. It's nice that the schools are being retrofitted and that the building are finally being upgraded- but the problem doesn't lie in the need for structural upgrades, but it lies in the structural makeup of those working within the district. Shameful indeed!!


15 people like this
Posted by letsgetreal
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 5, 2019 at 4:06 pm

This kind of sexist behavior is disgusting, and to think that these men are in charge is mind boggling. Narcissistic men still getting away with gender bias in 2019, unbelievable.


32 people like this
Posted by a community member
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2019 at 6:00 pm

If true that harrassment was seen by employees without reporting, then immediate work needs to be done to further train all staff on harrassment, it's already a state law this school year (SB 1343), see Stanford's expanded training program: Web Link

Also however, reporting only one side's perspective of the principals with the other side of the story completely absent, presents a completely distorted and unfair view of the principals. Principals (supervisors) are prohibited from speaking about their employees, so there's no way for them to defend themselves in this article. At the very least, if the article waited until court documents were prepared by both sides, they could get closer to a balanced view.

Disappointed that we will so quickly sully the reputation of people who have given so much to Mountain View over the years.


29 people like this
Posted by Bridge to sell
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2019 at 6:35 pm

If you believe each and every allegation to be true, I have a bridge to sell you.


47 people like this
Posted by Mel
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 5, 2019 at 6:35 pm

Ghysels should have been let go a long, long time ago. Make that a very, very long time ago. She is hurting the district versus helping it.

The fact that she keeps changing positions speaks volumes. Let her go, give her a severance, call it a day. She’s costing the district a lot of complaints and now a lot of money.

Rudolph it’s time for you to go too. Thank you but no thank you.


43 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2019 at 8:38 pm

Is anyone even surprised anymore? What an embarrassment. Look at the massive turnover that continues in our district. Huff lost a huge number of staff last year. Whether or not Principal Chang bullied or otherwise retaliated against teachers will never be known, as he isn't here to defend himself.

The district needs a serious overhaul. Starting with Rudolph that fancied himself a stand-up- comedian and made jokes about hitting his kids at an event attended by 300 staff members. This is not the kind of overpaid clown that we need leading our district. You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep. It is of no surprise that Rudolph and Ghysels are on the same team. Yuck.


48 people like this
Posted by Former MVWSD Employee
a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2019 at 9:05 pm

As a former employee of MVWSD who worked closely with both Geoff Chang and Ryan Santiago I have to say that I have only the utmost respect for both men both as professionals and as human beings. Geoff Chang was the best principal I have ever worked under. Yes, he has high standards for teachers, which is what we should want for both students and staff. As a teacher, I can also interpret some of the comments and timeline reported to know that Geoff was well within his bounds professionally. To tell a teacher that they need coaching is akin to offering them support. Also, it is stated that Jane Doe transferred to Huff in January. The collective bargaining agreement between the district and union requires principals to make tenure decisions (based upon formal evaluations) in mid-February and to inform teachers of their decision by March 1. This is a very fast timeline to have to make a lifetime decision on a teacher, but it is the position that our current tenure system places upon principals. This would explain why Geoff was in the teacher's classroom frequently; he was doing his job. I find this whole situation sad but do hope to shed light on my personal experience with these individuals as well as my knowledge of how evaluations and tenure work across school districts in California. I also feel a need to state this because as another community member pointed out, the district and the principals named are unable to comment due to pending litigation and I too worry that the reporting of this story is one sided.


29 people like this
Posted by @Former MVWSD Employee
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2019 at 9:12 pm

Thank you for speaking your perspective. Those principals can't defend themselves, so people who have been positively served by them should speak up to balance the one sided view given in the article. MV should never to be so quick to toss under the bus those who spent years helping our community.


35 people like this
Posted by Standing Ovation
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 6, 2019 at 7:46 am

@Former MVWSD Employee

The bigger question is why there are more and more former MVWDS employees with each edition of the MV Voice! Scandal and screw ups and sudden departures seem to be never-ending in this school district.

You don't find it odd that two female teachers allege the same sexual harassment and assault against a fellow male teacher on the same campus in the first part of the 2017-2018 school year? And then after his arrest is splashed all over the news the principals's primary purpose appears to focus on their teaching effectiveness in the second part of the year until they are let go?? And then voila, they are all out of jobs! Talk about blaming the victims! Pretty reckless and heartless if you ask me. And definitely not in tune with the times. These women have been victimized twice now. They are now forced to fight for and defend their personal and professional reputations. And it still doesn't explain one principal's demotion in the midst of it all in February 2018, during the Great Principal Purge of 2018, and the other principal's sudden departure a year later to no follow-on job as a principal anywhere. Whatever the case may be, the old adage that where there's smoke, there's fire certainly seems apt.

And then there's the school board. Four women and one man. This is definitely their #metoo movement, their Harvey Weinstein moment. They govern an organization composed mostly of women. Perhaps Wheeler should have handled the Ghysels Affair much more differently. Don't reward bad behavior. Not with children. Not with adults. Especially with adults charged with supervising and education children.


34 people like this
Posted by Dangerous Situation
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 6, 2019 at 10:19 am

I find it hard to believe that these two principals independently decided to bully this particular teacher. I suspect someone at the district office was "managing" the situation from above. As a parents I've witnessed enough of this type of behavior form administrators at various schools in the district to know that this is a deeper issue with how the district is managed that goes well beyond this particular story. I witnessed a low level employee at a school be declared "insubordinate" by a DO staffer for reporting a major safety issue. This is not the kind of environment in which we should be entrusting our children. Organizations that create a climate where people do not feel comfortable reporting issues are a danger to all of us. Fixing the culture issues in the district would do more to ensure the safety of our kids than another active shooter drill.


10 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 6, 2019 at 11:05 am

@Dangerous Situation. If you know of this dangerous situation,"major safety issue" you really need (IMO) to step up to the plate and officially file "a Williams Act" (Uniform Complaint Procedure) complaint. This can be done anonymously (but, I would also send Kevin at The Voice a copy).

The district must then publicly report this complaint (to the State of California Department of Education) and they must quarterly, through the Board's Regular Agenda, newer the complaint and (hopefully) correct this safety issue.

Note: this will then legally set the stage for A HUGE LEAGAL LIABILITY if there ends up being a student or school staff injury.

Be brave. The Teach 2 One:Math complainers never bothered to officially register their complaints publicly through this process. They should have. It was not clear, to me, then a Board Member, when TTO problems started showing up. As The Voice well reported, there was a coverup of those problems, even to the Board.

Sending a copy of your anonymous publicly registered complaint to the Voice, AND have them/Kevin be the return mailing address for reply! will make absolutely sure that it will see the light of day. Fiat Lux (Let there be light)

,,,
Web Link

3. Facilities
a. A condition poses an emergency or urgent threat to the health or safety of students or staff.
Filing of Complaint ...

A complaint alleging any condition(s) specified above shall be filed with the principal or designee at the school in which the complaint arises. The principal or designee shall forward a complaint about problems beyond his/her authority to the Superintendent or designee in a timely manner, but not to exceed 10 working days. (Education Code 35186, 5CCR 4680)

Investigation and Response

The principal or designee shall make all reasonable efforts to investigate any problem within his/her authority. He/she shall remedy a valid complaint within a reasonable time period not to exceed 30 working days from the date the complaint was received. (Education Code 35186)

Complaints may be filed anonymously. If the complainant has indicated on the complaint form that he/she would like a response to his/her complaint, the principal or designee shall report the resolution of the complaint to him/her within 45 working days of the initial filing of the complaint. If a response is requested, the response shall be made to the mailing address of the complainant as indicated on the complaint form. At the same time, the principal or designee shall report the same information to the Superintendent or designee. (Education Code 35186) ...

All complaints and written responses shall be public records. (Education Code 35186, 5 CCR 4686)

Reports

The Superintendent or designee shall report summarized data on the nature and resolution of all complaints to the Board and the County Superintendent of Schools on a quarterly basis.


1 person likes this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 6, 2019 at 11:30 am

"Williams" Uniform Complaint Form link
Web Link


19 people like this
Posted by Something a'miss here
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2019 at 1:27 pm

Ok, some things don't make sense here:

Article states: "While she was at the school, Doe reported that Rios would frequently make sexually explicit comments and invade her personal space, sometimes in front of Santiago and district staff, according to the suit. Rios allegedly made sexually suggestive comments about how she looked, standing within an inch or two of her and speaking in a whispering voice. He also allegedly told her he had sexual fantasies about her as a school girl."

AND she still went to his house after all that?!? Rape is never a victim's fault, but I can't help but wonder why she didn't get the heebie-jeebies from this guy?


18 people like this
Posted by I wonder
a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 7, 2019 at 10:24 am

It’s terrible that these teachers had to put up with Rios’s behavior. As a former colleague of Mr. Rios, I don’t have any doubt that he abused these women emotionally and physically.

I do wonder however, could these teachers also just not be good at teaching?


25 people like this
Posted by Oh what a tangled web...
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2019 at 11:10 am

[Post removed due to violation of terms of use]


5 people like this
Posted by Cfrink
a resident of Willowgate
on Sep 7, 2019 at 1:48 pm

Cfrink is a registered user.

The comments here read like the National Enquirer. You guys are all doing the wrong jobs.


34 people like this
Posted by Long Serving Teacher
a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2019 at 7:13 pm

The allegations against the offending teacher are nothing new. I believe he was first brought on to Landels when Ghysels (nee Mizel) was principal there and who approved his tenure. He was then passed on to Monta Loma where he became involved with two teachers at the same time, impregnating one. His exploits and antics there were well known district-wide as a result of his two-timing. Scandal doesn't even begin to describe it. From there he was passed on to Castro under Crates where again he was accused of invading personal space, unwanted advances and other behavior akin to sexual harassment. He was rumored to have been written up by then-principal Crates following all the complaints. He was then passed over to Theuerkauf where his next set of exploits and harassment began which brings us to where we are today. Anyone notice a pattern here? In short, the district has long known and attempted to keep a lid on his behavior as is alluded to in the article. If any of the site and district administrators were doing their job, things never would have gotten to the point we have arrived at now. I suspect that never happened because as some one mentioned in another comment, the administrative culture in the district has increasingly been one of double-standards and hypocrisy and managing careers up. And yes, it began long ago with the Board's very poor handling of the Mizel-Ghysels affair. Both current Board member Wheeler and former Board member and current Monta Loma principal Higgins can be thanked for that. Regardless, years of passing the buck and kicking the can down the road means they are now reaping what they sowed. The tragedy is that two very capable principals, Santiago and Chang, have been caught up in it all and named as separate defendants along with the district as a whole. This most likely means that district office administrators such as Ghysels and Rudolph can count on a court costs related to their defense paid by the district, while the two principals are left hanging out to dry with the potential of being ruined both professionally and financially. BTW, Rios was considered a good teacher by many. His personal behavior, however, appeared to be one of someone who would exploit personal and professional relationships.


19 people like this
Posted by @MV Voice, why not cover this?
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2019 at 9:26 pm

The recently hired Director of Fiscal Services resigned this summer, leaving the district without a #2 in the business office led by the also new MVWSD CBO. This is a far more important story that isn't being reported as the district's budget is deep in the red. Web Link

The state of public finances seem far more important than publshing one sided reports on those two principals.


29 people like this
Posted by Oh what a tangled web...
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2019 at 10:18 pm

I can't say I blame the former Director of Fiscal Services for resigning. She would have had to sit by and watch the district shell out $200K a year on Westover's salary and then an additional $95K for the interim CBO turned consultant to train her to do her job. She would have been better equipped and suited at being the CBO than her new boss. Rudolph knew what he was doing by hiring Westover. She has the title of CBO, but he is controlling the money.

The former CBO, Robert Clark and Rudolph butted heads over the money. How could the board vote to increase Rudolph, Ghysels and Baur's salaries at time when they are claiming the district is in the red? If they continue to keep taking from the bottom and padding the top, the leaning tower of BS that they have built will eventually fall. That last part may be wishful thinking.


For all of these highly educated administrators to have all of this education under their respective belts, they aren't very bright. To the masses 2+2=4, just not to those running this district.

What a colossal community embarrassment. I hope the two women suing are successful in their suits against this dumpster fire of a district and the cronies pretending to run it. Then maybe the changes that have clearly been needed for years will FINALLY come to fruition.


16 people like this
Posted by Wow.
a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 8, 2019 at 8:03 pm

Remind me again why the parents of this community were so against having Bullis open a school in Mountain View? Seems like we could use some competition and it shouldn't be too hard for Bullis leaders to be less dysfunctional than our current district management.


22 people like this
Posted by Oh what a tangled web...
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2019 at 10:23 pm

Bullis was never needed here. A new school board and a new administration IS. Jennifer Anderson-Rosse left Bullis and is back in the public school system. Clearly the grass wasn't greener on the charter side.

Bullis wasn't trying to serve all of the kiddos in our district, just the high performers and the families with deep pockets. Private school vibe on a public school dime, period.

The time is NOW to recall the school board and then work our way down. Below is how we can start:

Web Link

They have become complacent. Our children deserve better. Our community deserves better. I am saying NO MORE to the scandalous behavior. I am saying NO MORE to the hefty bag shuffling of staff in lieu of firing those who on a consistent basis have shown they have no moral compass and lack the necessary leadership skills to be in a position of authority. Enough is enough!

Rudolph, Ghysels and anyone else who sits idly by collecting a check and not performing the functions of the positions they hold and were hired for with integrity in the first damn place. No more. It is time a clean slate.



34 people like this
Posted by Saddened
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2019 at 6:47 pm

I agree with the previous poster , enough is enough it is time to do more than complain in the blogs. We need to start a recall of the board. Start a petition of vote of no confidence in the current district office administration.
We as voters can and should do this


19 people like this
Posted by Fed up parent
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 11, 2019 at 9:24 pm

It’s time for Carmen Ghysels to go. Her toxicity and trails of corruption for years has been left untouched. I’m writing to the trustees tonight. This entire situation and so many others over the past few years all stem back to her.


23 people like this
Posted by Long Serving Teacher
a resident of another community
on Sep 12, 2019 at 6:12 am

I agree the problem has deep roots owing to an administrative culture that has increasingly emphasized blind trust and unquestioning loyalty over professional ethics and standards and the basic educational needs of students. Nearly the entire district office credentialed administrative staff appears tied by loyalties forged on the defensive during many years of poor student performance among some groups and and poorly executed flavor of the year whiz-bang initiatives (like the Teach to One math curriculum fiasco three years ago) designed to produce quick results and shower glory down on the superintendents. The phenomenon was best put on display two years ago when half the principals were let go whereby the current principal of Monta Loma spoke up at one of the board meetings and proclaimed her belief and trust, essentially blind loyalty, in the process and district office leadership. Why even attend the meeting? Was it directed from above? Why say anything? Because that's basically the type of affirmation that gets you promoted, a public proclamation demonstrating adherence and admiration to the leadership. Basically, you have to demonstrate blind loyalty to the cult of a personality regardless if you know they are violating basic and time-proven educational methods or twisting data toward career advancement and scoring political points. And I'm afraid that's a similar phenomena to what may have happened with this current affair if the district office directed principals to handle the issue based on personal loyalties and not basic adherence to the law. In the end it appears to be nothing more than about advancing on the pay scale and reaching the highest salary possible at retirement. Just look at all the raises approved in last year for the three top positions in the district totally nearly $100,000. Salaries go up, while student performance and test scores stay flat.

Also to consider is that Santiago and Rios were hired, tenured and managed in some form or another by the Ghysels duo over the last decade and a half. They were within the same cohort of new teachers and were part of the same BTSA Program, which stands for Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Program, that met weekly for two years. So again, perhaps biases and loyalties forged over time and for the wrong reasons.

Unfortunately I do not see any easy way out of this mess short of a complete removing and re-staffing of the district office and many of the principals that are now left who have survived. Given that will most likely never happen I am left feeling that the district will never be able to right itself and will just continue to be one of those districts that is always marked by dysfunction and poor performance in some areas.


23 people like this
Posted by Long time employee
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2019 at 11:24 am

I agree Ghysels need to go. She has manipulated herself to the top and is actually strongly advising Rudolph. If you look close and ask folks in the know there has been many questionable scenes between Rudoph and Ghysel. You might ask why was she promoted to special ed director when she had no special ed background. Then how did she get promoted to the 2nd highest position in the district without any background in legal matters. Check around, and dig you might be surprised at the answers.
She’s vindictive and if you do not bow down to her she will ruin you. She gossips and seeks out gossip.
When she left Landels she would seek inside information on the then principal Steve Chesley. She has spies all over the district seeking out information on staff she believes are not loyal to her.
How can we continue to let someone like her run our district.


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