Town Square

Menlo Park school district picks Maurice Ghysels as superintendent

Original post made on May 9, 2011

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

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, May 9, 2011, 9:48 AM


Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 9, 2011 at 3:21 pm

This guy just keeps moving around. I wonder what he's selling this time. Now if we could only get his girlfriend to move on.

Posted by local citizen
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 9, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Maurice Ghysels is a visionary and effective leader for public education. Leading a local district is a much better way to use that talent than in a high level administrative position at the county office. It is unfortunate that Dr. Ghysels's tenure ended in Mountain VIew the way it did. He brought excellent vision and focused action to our school district and I am certain he will do the same in Menlo Park. Any strong leader has detractors, but those really look into what Maurice did for our schools without personal prejudice will likely realize how lucky we were to have him when we did.

Posted by Elaine
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 9, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Oh save me the high and mighty. We are doing just fine without the clown.

Check the CA Dept of Ed's Dataquest website. Under Mr. Ghysels' tenure growth targets were not met at four MV schools, both MV middle schools dropped in API, two elementary schools went into Program Improvement, the entire school district went into the second year of Program Improvement, and the school district dropped his corporate-style Continuous Improvement management theory like a hot potato! Maybe a four-school district is more his competency level. He would have done better to keep his eye on the ball than on the ladies while at MV. But then again, Ghysels has mostly been about spin and MP hired him, so maybe this is just a figurehead position. It is interesting to note that the MV teachers union came out strongly against his efforts to cover up his conflict of interest formally calling it a "breach of professional conduct" in a letter to the school board. I'm not sure how this while go over with MP teachers.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 9, 2011 at 4:40 pm

"It is unfortunate that Dr. Ghysels's tenure ended in Mountain VIew the way it did."

From what I recall, he was 100% responsible for that.

Posted by Menlo Park mom
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2011 at 6:42 pm

As a Menlo Park parent, I would love to hear more about the positive aspects of his tenure. "Excellent vision" and "focused action" -- nice-sounding phrases, but what exactly do they mean? Apart from the affair, what was he like? How was he re special needs students? I'm trying to understand what our school board saw in him, or is he just too impossibly good looking and charming to resist?

Posted by District Insider
a resident of North Whisman
on May 9, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Well, the federal government is investigating the handling of special education under his tenure, so that should tell you a lot.

Posted by Buffy
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 9, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Maurice Ghysels. Ugh! Makes me want to hurl.

And so far as him being "a visionary and effective leader for public education" where exactly do you get that feeling from localmom? Does your cult have a name?

Visionary? How about some examples. Does he have some secret holy doctrine and philosophy that has made him the cure all for education in the state, country, world.

As far as I can tell he can't stay in any one place long enough to accomplish anything.

Posted by Bob
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 9, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Menlo Park Mom,
Be Afraid. You want to know what he was like? A slick salesman. He had our board members totally charmed. So much so that they thought it was okay for him to have a relationship with a subordinate and then, to cover himself, reassign her to report to another subordinate that reported to him. I really can't think of one thing he brought to MV that we would want to keep...Continuous Improvement, Asst. Superintendent of Curriculum, continuous controversy, his was all bad!

Posted by MV Mama
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 9, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Wow, we must really hate Menlo Park.

Posted by MV parent
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 9, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Maurice did extraordinary things for our School District.
He built community AND helped accelerate student achievement in all sub-groups. He was visionary, innovative, committed, and collaborative.

Posted by Also a Parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on May 10, 2011 at 5:57 am

MV Parent:

Built community? By having your wife volunteer at the same school you are having an affair with the principal of? So where does humiliating your wife in pubic fit into such community building? I could think of better places for carrying on your romantics affair, but not a school site where the minds and focus of leaders should be on the welfare of the children. Please tell me what community you live in, so I can stay far away from it.

And these extraordinary things you speak of. I suppose that hand nothing to do with all the normal little people that work in the district like teachers, staff etc who have learned how to act appropriately with self control and a sense of appropriateness. Believe it or not, that's the norm.

And please tell me how he was so visionary. Specifics please. What set him apart from other true professionals in education? That he liked telling people what to do, think, and say, and believe? Sounds more like egocentric narcissism.

Posted by Special Ed. Mom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 10, 2011 at 8:28 am

There was both good and bad things happening while he was in Mountain View. First off, he really did put alot of effort in at the very outset of his time here. The main thing that he did was inspire people, both teachers and volunteers alike. He was instrumental in the recovery of Castro school, by making sure that the things that were supposed to happen, did happen, I know, I was there! Just his presence on campuses, being around, being seen, being present, was a boost to the district. He made himself known to us by showing up at key events, like scoops night, MVEF fundraisers,important PTA meetings, Mountain View parade, etc. It meant alot to the parents to have someone in the community who was present, and able to roll up his sleeves and get right in there with the rest of us. No one can take this away from him. He DID inspire teaching staff with his concept of continuous improvement, despite what others say. He did support the newly formed special education PTA, and made sure the group had the kind of support that was needed to get started.

Having said all that, yes it was very sad that his time with us was overshadowed by his cheating heart. Absolutely everyone adored his wife, and many of us were stunned when the story broke. However, many of us decided that his personal life was his own, and that in turn, does not negate the good things that he did for the district.

He is human, fallable, a real person, and for that I do not hold anything against him. When you think about the good verses the bad, the scale is tipped in the good direction. With respect to schools being in PI and all that, there are things that are clearly beyond our control, like standards, teaching staff, students, and government funding. We are not the only district that had some schools slip. As we saw with Castro school, some times things go south before they go north, and we are always going to have these very same issues.

I think you will be happy with him at the helm, and I truly wish you good luck.

Posted by Regular Ed Mom
a resident of Castro City
on May 10, 2011 at 9:08 am

Well, we all know why he was always out Castro. Plus you ignore the glaringly conflict of interest and cover up. The principal he hired and placed was moved from Castro. She was the least qualified of the candidates, and not even the one selected by the school community, yet nonetheless hired. Don't be naive. And let's talk about the other principals he selected that didn't last a year even. He would never give the breaks to people he expects for himself now.

inspired people? I met plenty of professionals in this district who are inspiring. And they never needed this shady fellow to develop there inspirations.

His Conitnous Improvement strategy has been canned, if you hadn't noticed.

The problem was that these outsiders knew nothing of our district or community. Are best hopes are raising are own leaders how have demonstrated commitment and professionalism down through the years.

And I suppose for you this district lacks human, real, fallable people the likes of Ghysels now that he's gone. What an insult.

Thanks God we now have a superindenent who is actually at work improving the schools behind the scenes at the executive level and not running around working on his image and ego.

Posted by MVWSD Watchdog
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 11, 2011 at 4:51 pm

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

Posted by Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 11, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Really, everyone. Let. It. Go.

@Editor: time to take this really redundant, hateful and boring thread down?

Posted by MVWSD Watchdog
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 11, 2011 at 6:06 pm

You're entitled to your opinion Parent, but I question your motive. I value the thread and coverage on such topics. It sheds light on some of the bad decisions and leaders in public service that make the many hardworking public servants look bad. It also is valuable in providing sunlight on public finances and the waste of valuable public funds. If the discourse is civil, there is no harm, particular when much of the above is based on fact.

Posted by Elaine
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 12, 2011 at 2:22 am

The real legacy only comes to light a year later.

From another thread:

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

Posted by MV mom
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 13, 2011 at 10:36 am

Watch out Menlo Park, this guy's a real scumbag. We want good examples for our children leading our school system.

Posted by Left the district
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 13, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Ghsyels was also complicit in the shell game the district played with Mrs. P, as was Goldman. We put our son in a private school after that.

Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 18, 2011 at 1:43 pm

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

Posted by District Dad
a resident of Willowgate
on May 18, 2011 at 4:42 pm

The MVWSD school district office administration supported Ghysels until the very end. I question their ethics and leadership and so should others. On top of it they apparently bought off Polifrone to a pretty tune. They all hide behind drummed up personnel matters while they squander money for schools. Heads should roll, beginning with the Assistant superintendents that went along with all the lies.

Posted by T W Marsh
a resident of another community
on Mar 31, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Menlo Park school has no idea what they let themselfs in for, already 50 staff members push out the doors, special needs director sacked by him and he has the school borad in his hands with all his talk of talk but no action!
Parents stand up and tell your school boards members the public, parents and children dont want him!
We dont care for you talk and all your hot air, nice to see he get paid over $210,000 a year while teacher get far less and he doesnt want to paid a little increase to their wages. Even tho many of them put in hours they not paid for, yet he claims his extra hours and expenses!
come on people lets take the trash out! Mountain View were luckly and get him out, now we have to do the same!

Posted by Yikes
a resident of Jackson Park
on Apr 30, 2013 at 9:36 am

Wow. You've got to give Maurice Ghysels credit for always making a news story out of himself. Even if they are negative ones!