Proposed teacher reassignments at Mistral dropped following outcry | Town Square | Mountain View Online |

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Proposed teacher reassignments at Mistral dropped following outcry

Original post made on May 15, 2020

Mountain View Whisman School District administrators are walking back a decision to reassign 40% of the teachers at Mistral Elementary to a different grade level in the fall.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 15, 2020, 1:52 PM

Comments (25)

46 people like this
Posted by That Backfired
a resident of Castro City
on May 15, 2020 at 2:31 pm

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The first-time principal they brought in from out of state over more qualified applicants has no idea how to motivate and lead. She misinterprets a clarifying questions as insubordination and responds with scorched earth personal attacks. Time for the superintendent to cut his losses on this one before the district has to start paying out on the grievances and lawsuits.

22 people like this
Posted by always progress
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 15, 2020 at 2:51 pm

Seems like this Superintendent is "always a work in progress." Is it verified that this new principal, from the Superintendent's home state (?) was really picked for a first time administrative assignment here? Sara Kopit-Olson warning in writing about 'administrative retaliation'! Wow. She usually seems such a calm and steady presence among parents.

18 people like this
Posted by @always progress
a resident of North Bayshore
on May 15, 2020 at 3:23 pm

Two principals came from the superintendent's former community in North Carolina:
Mistral: Web Link
Vargas (but never served left before Vargas started): Web Link

26 people like this
Posted by Unfortunate
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on May 15, 2020 at 3:26 pm

Mistral is a fantastic program with involved parents and dedicated teachers and Principal Miller is not doing it any favors. We love the program but the principal's reputation is terrible. This is a perfect example of the way she operates. She puts a lot of faith in metrics and doesn't think through impacts on people and why those are just as important and she has not built support from parents or teachers.

She's Rudolph's hand-picked transplant so I don't have a lot of hope that we will have new leadership soon -- but it is due.

11 people like this
Posted by North Carolina?
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 15, 2020 at 3:46 pm

If the superintendent likes his old friends from North Carolina, maybe he knows and has a job for the senior U.S. Senator in North Carolina Richard Burr in trouble for dumping stocks on insider into and annoying Donald Trump with reports on Russia's campaign efforts on behalf of Trump.

32 people like this
Posted by Bruce Karney
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 15, 2020 at 3:58 pm

Fill in the blank: _________ is incompetent and should be terminated.
A. Mistral's Principal
B. The District's Superintendent
C. The members of the MVW School Board
D. All of the above

30 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 15, 2020 at 4:43 pm

I'm a teacher, and this is bad policy at any time. Turning 40% of your staff effectively into first time teachers of a curriculum is going to impact learning negatively. Anytime you change your curriculum it means less time for differentiation and individualized feedback, because you are spending all your time making the new stuff you need for tomorrow instead.

Is this administrator someone who has ever been in a classroom??

33 people like this
Posted by Mrs. B
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 15, 2020 at 5:11 pm

I've heard pretty abhorrent stories from friends about this particular principal. From what I hear, she seems to gleefully exert her power over people (teachers and parents, alike). I wonder what her reasoning was for the shuffling of teachers in the first place? It doesn't really say WHY she would want a major overhaul. Makes me think that she may've been purposefully trying to stir **it up. Either way, this move was massively tone deaf. I *almost* enrolled my child at Mistral. Seems like I might've dodged a bullet.

29 people like this
Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on May 15, 2020 at 5:36 pm

Remember that this school board approved and defended replacing half the district's principals two years ago saying it would lead to better results. What it did was instill fear across the district. The district attacks dissent.

Don't be fooled again, make sure your elected school board reflects your values. If we carelessly transfer long time educators, we not only lose long earned relationships in the community, we make people wonder why stay in MVWSD long-term.
Web Link

32 people like this
Posted by Mistral family
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 15, 2020 at 6:51 pm

This principal has harmed the Mistral community. There is no confidence in her leadership. Families are distancing themselves from being involved in the school (and some are leaving) because of her. She does not appear concerned with fostering positive relationships with families or with teachers. Families don't feel they can speak up because of fear of retaliation. The teachers wrote a letter that was signed by 15 of the 18 teachers at Mistral. How can she effectively lead a school having lost the confidence of families (long ago) and teachers (timeline unknown, but certainly now)? We are desperate for new leadership.

23 people like this
Posted by Mistral parent
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 15, 2020 at 7:22 pm

The community is grateful that the district reversed its position on this move. We lost good teachers to a similar (though less drastic) reshuffling a few years ago. Is the goal to drive away amazing qualified teachers to get new teachers who will kowtow to the principal? We do not want to lose our teachers to nasty politics. One teacher is now leaving because of Principal Miller and others may follow suit without a change in administration. Qualified bilingual teachers devoted to teaching dual immersion leaving for English only programs to get away from a toxic school environment?! What a loss for students.

18 people like this
Posted by Oh the Irony
a resident of Castro City
on May 15, 2020 at 7:33 pm

The chickens are all coming home to roost now. Miller is completely outmatched and completely unqualified for the job. Soon there will no one left to save our schools with such reckless leadership from the principals to the superintendent to the board.

Don't forget that Mistral won a Blue Ribbon award from the state for progress made under the PREVIOUS principal who was ten times more qualified than both Rudolph and Miller combined, not to mention beautifully fluent in Spanish and a long-time resident in the community! How, because Blue Ribbon Awards look at and aggregate several years data for improvement, and not for one year under Miller. But, of course, Rudolph and his crony Miller were on hand to take full credit. Yuck! Sanitizer please. Carpetbaggers go home!

And pay no attention to Sara Kopit-Olson and those other power-play Mistral parents. You know who you are. Kopit-Olson loves to play the leader and knowledge broker and helped run out the previous principal as well. Well Sara, you clearly have no idea of what you are talking about do you? How's all that been working out for you. Why not just take over the job yourself since you're such an expert. The teachers clearly have your ear, and together I'm sure you'll all do a wonderful job of completely shipwrecking the school. The DI program is being decimated. Stand up at least and take some credit for it. You and the other resident expert parents chased out the former principal, and some of Mistral's best teachers with her, to the highest achieving Dual Immersion school in the state where they have continued the tradition of excellence while Mistral is driven off a cliff. Mountain View could have kept them, but no. Opportunity lost. Maybe next time you should listen to highly qualified and proven experts before jumping in. I'm just grateful my students benefited so immensely from their years at Mistral before Miller was flopped down.

But what is probably most alarming is that Miler and the district actually think that schools will be in session in the fall. Good luck with that. Yeah, go ahead and play musical chairs with all the teachers at the height of a pandemic and with remote teaching. My goodness one would be hard pressed to match such a display of sheer incompetence and stupidity.

10 people like this
Posted by Another Mistral Parent
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 15, 2020 at 7:45 pm

Just another load of nonsense from the whiny entitled rich folks of Mountain View. Once again the well-off fight change to try to help the poorer students. The principal emailed parents with data showing why the change was needed, but of course since the most impacted students were (mostly) poorer I guess it doesn't matter.

And does the Voice share any of that info? Of course not, because they want clickbait and to take the side of the people with money. Very sad.

Data showed the teachers getting the job done. MY children's teachers. In my job, when people consistently have poor performance, things get shaken up. But again, I guess the squeaky wheel gets the grease, no?

13 people like this
Posted by Glad Not To Be There
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 15, 2020 at 8:03 pm

I'm glad my daughter is out of there. She learned a lot, but I tried getting involved a few years back when my daughter was a student. I quit really fast after seeing how toxic and unpleasant the environment was--and it started with the parents who insist they and the teachers should be running the school.

After a few times seeing how unpleasant so many of the "involved" parents were, I quickly decided I had had enough of that and quit even trying to be volunteer for things. God help anyone trying to run that school.

Don't know anything about the current principal and have no opinion on her either way, but reading the vicious comments from the "we know better" crowd reminds me EXACTLY of the experiences I had a few years back. Some things never change.

Like this comment
Posted by Bad Journalism
a resident of Castro City
on May 15, 2020 at 10:23 pm

I for one agreed with the changes. We’ve got a federal government that doesn’t believe in data, and a bunch of back seat drivers in Mountain View that are the same way.

Also, super convenient that the Voice doesn’t even bother to share or even discuss any of the data that led the principal to want to make this change. The information was available, lots of parents (myself included) got it. But the Voice doesn’t even discuss this data, doesn’t even share it. Some people disagree on the need to make the change, but not even to share the data or even give it a brief discussion is just bad journalism. The MV Voice is about as Fair and Balanced as Fox News. They might as well call it the Mountain View Voice of the People We Agree With.

16 people like this
Posted by Kevin Forestieri
Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
on May 15, 2020 at 11:37 pm

@Bad journalism

Just to get the record straight, we requested a copy of the notice sent to parents and were referred to the district's PIO, who has yet to respond to our inquiry. We cannot reference data we do not have.

Also, my understanding is that teachers were concerned about the timing of the reassignments, not the reassignments themselves. This appears to be an issue independent of student performance data and the need to change staffing, and has more to do with the disruptive nature of COVID-19.

19 people like this
Posted by Data Schmata
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 16, 2020 at 8:31 am

This principal likes to claim she uses data to make decisions. The reality is she misuses data, twisting it to justify vindictive actions. Just like the award winning results she takes the credit for came from the prior years of work by the teachers she is driving away and the program she is dismantling, her reassignment moves don’t match up to the data. With only a couple exceptions, most of the moves are intended to punish any teacher who cares enough about their students to ask a question instead of saying ‘What a brilliant idea’’ and stroking her ego. This could all end quickly because in her zeal to quash any attempts by her staff to engage in discussion, she has crossed the line more than once.

17 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 16, 2020 at 8:48 am


Educational research in equity and bridging the achievement gap shows that leaders need to work with collaboratively with their staff and community members to change attitudes, practices, policies, etc. If this leader is simply throwing data at teachers and not engaging in any of the other key actions and meaningful dialogue necessary to drive change, her strategy will not be impactful.

You immediately jump to blame teachers for the achievement gap, but it is much more complex than that. Is the achievement gap something specific to Mistral? Schools are microcosms of society and as long as the power balance is held by a specific group/race, the interests of that group will always be promoted. That’s why it is the responsibility of leaders to work WITH their staff and the community to build an understanding of the issues and work together to address them. If throwing data at teachers and reshuffling them was an effective strategy, we would have solved this issue decades ago.

It’s clearly time for leaders to be properly trained on how to deal with these issues. Starting at the top...

20 people like this
Posted by Mistral parent
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 16, 2020 at 9:52 am

Muller does not work well with teachers or parents. She takes every constructive suggestion as a personal insult. She regularly calls CPS and the police on parents who disagree with her. Families are leaving due to her treatment of any child with the smallest behavioral problem in a very developmentally inappropriate manner. I pray that the school and it’s dynamic community does not fall apart before we can get some competent leadership that works with teachers and the community instead of dictating to them and being shocked when they push back. Please get Miller real management training and an empathy transplant or get a new principal

2 people like this
Posted by Ironic Indeed
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 16, 2020 at 10:24 am

I was opposed to this change and emailed the principal saying I didn’t agree. I was glad she listened to the feedback and stopped it. She sent out a very gracious email thanking those who spoke up for their thoughts and taking ownership for any missteps in communication. I understood the reasoning for the needed changes but I didn’t think this was the time.

The real irony here? A bunch of mean-spirited commenters complaining that she doesn’t listen to the community on an article specifically about how she listened to the community and reversed a change. These same people accuse her of being difficult to deal with, unreasonable, etc. Yet simply reading these anonymous comments from community members who are little better than internet trolls shows where the real negativity comes from. Previous posters have commented on a negative environment at the school. My child is in the 5th grade at Mistral and the negative environment comes from the adults and has been around far longer than the current principal. Just like with the last principal at that school it is never the teachers’ fault and its never the parents’ fault.

It’s disgraceful. The principal listened to what the parents wanted and they still come on here to make petty, small-minded comments. Just like the previous poster, my husband and I don’t ever get involved at the school. If you’re wondering why, just read these comments.

14 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 16, 2020 at 12:25 pm

@Ironic Indeed

As discussed in the article, the reversal of this decision was a result of the community (parents, teachers, etc.) rallying against it. The fact that they attempted to impose a change opposed by so many is indicative of leadership NOT working with the community. If leadership had solicited input from key community stakeholders BEFORE trying to impose this decision, they would have had a better sense of how the decision would be received. Understanding the community’s needs is a critical first step in addressing any of these key equity issues.

17 people like this
Posted by Mistral parent
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 16, 2020 at 12:29 pm

I am feeling happy to see finally our Community will be heard!!!!!
They are many of families that feel so scared about Miller!!!!; this is only one of many things that she made to our families students including students ( they are the most important involved in this sad situation,Students); ) since Miller got position of Gabriela Mistral School she started just ignore the parents; some of them sent letters to the district without solution; is so sad have that kind of represents like me RudolphI who NEVER responded the letters from the Parents and then when he answered just say: I am talking with Tavitha “ she’s going to make changes on her “”!!!!
Now I hear that will be No Changes on Miller mind “”; but for how many more time???!!!!; I understand one of the teachers is leaving now”””!!!!.
will appreciate if please The news post some of this information in Spanish for Spanish speakers, to they hear about they are not alone, they have their Community Support. Please.!!!!

18 people like this
Posted by @ Christopher Chiang
a resident of Rex Manor
on May 17, 2020 at 10:10 am

You hit the nail on the head. Rudolph leads through a culture of fear and the board of trustees supports him in this. It's time for a new Board who will find a new superintendent who is a leader that doesn't instill fear across the district - someone who is inclusive, humble, and can motivate people without using fear.

7 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 17, 2020 at 11:33 am

There is a data metric on teacher retention that the Superintendent just refuses to publicly acknowledge / Teacher Average Retention Years. It is 2 years less than the Santa Clara County average, and 4 years under the State of California average _AND, it has not improved at all (rounded to the nearest year) in the 5 years Rudolph has been in charge of the District as Chief Administrative Officer.

Dr. Rudolph choses to use his own metric, not important enough for the state to monitor or to be reported in the School Accountability Report Card (SARC). Sort of like the Distinguished School Award and this Principal! Not unlike, unfortunately, the way we at the national level have to sing "Hail to The Chief" with pandemic "data".

This MVWSD organization has had, for a decade, a communications problem. NOT 2 WAY, but out from Administration. No matter how much administrators may be warned about that, from Board members, the majority of the Board does not take seriously the 1/4 million dollar District Quality Audit! Rudolph started that race (and I was wrong to oppose, when Goole eventually did pay for it) but Dr. Rudolph, IMO, does not really know how to administer 2 WAY Communications. And, IMO, he does not seem to be improving.

SN is a retired MVWSD Trustee, who participated in giving The Super his first Chief Administrator job

5 people like this
Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 19, 2020 at 4:59 pm

Teachers and administrators being rotated out due to performance problems is a worthwhile effort, when it happens.

The criteria for those evaluations needs to be clear. It's specific to the roles, not the people, so there should be transparency around this up front, across the District. Not after-the-fact.

Teachers and administrators getting rotated out after just a year or two... or even three... is not a performance problem. It's a hiring and staff development problem. Which requires focus on who is doing the hiring and staff development. No one is going to get it right all the time. But it does seem like our success rate in MVWSD could be better.

But the real story about Mistral seems to be missing from the reporting... how does a school get to a point where its leader feels that a 40% change of staff is needed? That's a big move, there's clearly a bigger story there, probably with many different points of view and some history that frequent commenters on these boards (and probably a few parents) might not be aware of. Dual immersion is a hallmark of MVWSD's choice programs, it's a thing that probably keeps at least one charter school out of town, and it's pretty cool that kids get to learn - and learn HOW to learn - in two languages. We should protect it, we should care about it, and we should ask more questions when there are problems with it.

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