Gleason: I’m the source
Former School Board member gave e-mails to newspaper
Steamboat Springs — Former Steamboat Springs School Board member Pat Gleason provided the Pilot & Today with copies of e-mails sent by John DeVincentis during his last year as principal at Strawberry Park Elementary School.
Gleason issued a statement Wednesday afternoon in which he admitted to being the Pilot & Today’s source. Initially, he requested anonymity, and the newspaper respected that request.
“I knew I was going to have to (come forward) some time,” Gleason said Wednesday. “This removes any doubt now.”
Last week, the School Board launched an internal investigation into how the newspaper obtained the e-mails. School Board President Denise Connelly, given a copy of Gleason’s statement Wednesday, said she had no comment at this time. Board members Jerry Kozatch and Jeff Troeger could not be reached for comment.
Gleason resigned from the School Board on April 4. The e-mails were revealed in a story posted to the Pilot & Today’s Web site the next day.
Gleason now is working with a group of former School Board members on efforts to recall DeVincentis from the School Board.
The e-mails were exchanged between DeVincentis and a teacher in Mercer Island, Wash. They started in August 2004 and ended in May 2005. DeVincentis used his school computer and school account to send the e-mails.
The e-mails were harshly critical of Cyndy Simms, a former Steamboat superintendent and the current superintendent in Mercer Island. In the e-mails, DeVincentis suggests ways to undermine Simms, including using aspects of her personal life. He also brags about lying to the Mercer Island School Board to get the board to hire Simms. He uses derogatory terms to refer to her and jokes about spitting on her and being in the throes of passion with her.
DeVincentis has apologized for the content of the e-mails, saying he was angry at the time the e-mails were written and that they were meant to be private. DeVincentis was made aware of Gleason’s letter Wednesday night during a public forum DeVincentis was hosting to gather community feedback on the e-mails.
DeVincentis did not immediately respond to Gleason’s announcement. He said Tuesday he is no longer communicating with the newspaper.
Gleason said he had access to the DeVincentis e-mails in his capacity as a board member.
‘”The School Board has access to all records at all times,’ is a quote John DeVincentis has used numerous times during his tenure on our School Board,” Gleason wrote. “Shortly after DeVincentis left the employ of the School District, as a board member at that time, I had access to the controversial e-mails, as well as other board members.”
Gleason said his announcement should eliminate the need for the School Board’s internal investigation into where the e-mails came from.
“The School Board is up there wasting money on this inquisition – that’s what I call it – that has no legal merit or anything,” he said. “Denise said it’s time to move forward, so I did it.”
Gleason said he initially was reluctant to reveal himself as the source of the e-mails because of concern for his family and any backlash from DeVincentis and his supporters. “They’re still a concern,” he added.
Pilot & Today Editor Scott Stanford said the newspaper was not involved in Gleason’s decision to reveal his role in the e-mails.
“We did not and would not ask Pat Gleason to come forward as the source of these e-mails; however, I appreciate that he did,” Stanford said. “We are always better served when we can share information we have with our readers. And in this case, it is clear that our readers considered the e-mail source’s identity to be a critical element of the story.”
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