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Board passes resolution on investigation

Resolution

The resolution passed Thursday by the Steamboat Springs School Board:

"Whereas you are in unique possession of material facts; Whereas your refusal to cooperate is causing the school district unnecessary delay and expense in its independent investigation; Whereas your refusal to cooperate is causing the school district public harm and keeping the board of education from important duties; the Board of Education requests that Mr. Pat Gleason, Mrs. Paula Stephenson and other former School Board members voluntarily come forward and answer questions as to their knowledge and involvement with the unauthorized disclosure of e-mails and violation of school district policy."

— The Steamboat Springs School Board wants its internal e-mail investigation finished, and it took steps Thursday to try and make that happen.

Board member Jeff Troeger issued a resolution during Thursday’s study session requesting former School Board members voluntarily come forward and answer questions from attorney Earl Rhodes about how e-mails sent by former Strawberry Park Elementary School Principal John DeVincentis, who is now a School Board member, to a teacher in Mercer Island, Wash., were obtained and then given to the Pilot & Today.

“It’s taking longer than I think we all hoped it would,” Troeger said about the investigation. “We have an amazing school district. We want to focus on where our students are going. These are the things we have been elected to look at. Unfortunately to me:our energies are being misused. :To the extent people who know something can help us get this issue resolved quickly, please help us.”



Troeger and School Board President Denise Connelly voted in favor of the resolution. DeVincentis and board member Jerry Kozatch abstained from voting.

Former board president Paula Stephenson and former board member Pat Gleason were named specifically in the resolution.



Gleason has admitted giving copies of the e-mails to the Pilot & Today. Gleason also said he had access to the e-mails DeVincentis sent during 2004-05 because Gleason was a board member at the time he obtained the e-mails but has since resigned.

He also has said he doesn’t plan to cooperate with the investigation.

“I had access to those records by statute and also, in case (the board wanted) to know, Superintendent (Donna) Howell nor any current staff member had any involvement,” Gleason said earlier this week.

When reached at home Thursday night, Stephenson said she had no further comment other than what she said earlier this week: “I’m a private citizen and have been for two years. I don’t see why I need to come in and help with an investigation going on right now. While I was on the board, I don’t feel the superintendent or board did anything illegal or unethical.”

Former board members Tom Miller-Freutel and Tami Havener also confirmed this week that they’ve been contacted but did not plan to speak with Rhodes.

Connelly said Thursday that the point of the investigation is to gather information into what is needed to protect students and district employees in the future.

“We are looking at our polices to see if we have adequate policies to protect our information and to see if any of those policies have been broken,” Connelly said. “It is important for us to have policies protecting our students and employees and that we are protected from civil and criminal liability as a district.”

Connelly said key people in the district and the community have been interviewed but a few other interviews are planned, which should take place in the next couple of weeks.


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