Ex-board members stay silent | SteamboatToday.com

Ex-board members stay silent

Investigation into obtained DeVincentis e-mails continues

— Former Steamboat Springs School Board members are wanted for questioning, but it is unlikely they will cooperate with an ongoing School Board investigation.

Former board members Pat Gleason, Paula Stephenson, Tami Havener and Tom Miller-Freutel confirmed they have been contacted by Earl Rhodes, the Grand Junction attorney leading the School Board’s investigation into how e-mails sent in 2004-05 by former elementary school principal and current School Board member John DeVincentis were obtained.

The four former School Board members – all of whom still call Steamboat home – said they have no plans to pay hundreds of dollars in attorney’s fees to voluntarily speak with an investigator.

“I’m a private citizen and have been for two years,” said Stephenson, who was the School Board president at the time the controversial e-mails were sent. “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. This has nothing to do with me.”

Gleason, who recently resigned from the School Board, gave the e-mails to the Steamboat Pilot & Today. School Board President Denise Connelly ordered the investigation into how Gleason obtained the e-mails.

The e-mails were sent between DeVincentis and a Mercer Island, Wash., teacher from DeVincentis’ school computer and school account. The e-mails attacked former Steamboat Springs Superintendent Cyndy Simms and briefly referenced current Superintendent Donna Howell.

DeVincentis has apologized for the e-mails and held public forums for residents to address their concerns to him.

“We would like people to cooperate and talk to us and let us know what they know,” Connelly said.

Connelly said district employees and current School Board members have been interviewed.

The point of the investigation isn’t to clear anyone of wrongdoing, she said. The investigation is ongoing to ensure policies are in place to protect students and employees, Connelly said. She also wants to know if any policies were violated.

“It’s a matter of finding out what happened in terms of looking at our policies,” Connelly said. “It’s more an internal investigation of our policies for our role as protectors of our policies and information of the staff and students.”

Gleason said he provided Rhodes with a statement that said, “I had access to those records by statute and also, in case (they wanted) to know, Superintendent Howell nor any current staff member had any involvement.”

Like Stephenson, Havener doesn’t plan to talk to Rhodes.

“I don’t know anything about it,” she said.

Miller-Freutel said he would be comfortable speaking face to face with current board members, but not with lawyers involved.

“I have indicated to the gentleman (Rhodes) there was nothing I could lend,” he said.

Rhodes declined to reveal any specifics about the investigation.

“I just don’t think I’m at liberty to say anything,” he said Tuesday.

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