DeVincentis accepts mediation

Principal outlines conditions

— Strawberry Park Elementary School Principal John DeVincentis and the board and superintendent attempted to resolve the controversy relating to DeVincentis' employment and policy governance at Monday night's school board meeting.

"We appreciate the district responding so quickly," said Jim Swiggart, chairperson for Parents for Dr. D.

DeVincentis' attorney, Janne Siegel, provided a letter to the board stating DeVincentis is willing to begin mediation with the board of education and Superintendent Cyndy Simms, with certain conditions.

The conditions include mutually agreeing upon a mediator, the district paying for the mediator and results of the mediation being made public.

Board of Education Vice President Tami Havener said the board would discuss whether they want to accept the conditions presented in the letter written by DeVincentis' attorney.

She said the board might also create conditions before beginning the mediation process.

Swiggart said it has been the parent group's goal to resolve issues between the superintendent, board and DeVincentis as a means to keep DeVincentis as the principal at Strawberry Park.

He said the main issues at hand are how policy governance should be improved and limiting class size.

Swiggart read a letter proposing the board perform a staff survey regarding policy governance. Swiggart said the group would like a response from the board on how to implement an evaluation by Oct. 18.

Improving policy governance is something board president Paul Fisher said is a continuous process.

"We are learning as we go," he said. "We truly do have to improve communications."

Fisher said improvements to policy governance may need to be made, but the schools' progress with the current system needs to be considered.

"Policy governance is clearly the enabling model that allows our staff to produce results," he said.

Fisher said the district is way ahead of other school districts, and therefore there is not many models available for the board to scrutinize and learn from.

Steamboat Springs Education Association President Mike Smith presented a letter noting the strengths and weaknesses of policy governance and ways to overcome the challenges of the current system.

"Whether the current feelings of policy governance and the resulting communication problems are real or perceived, something needs to be done to turn staff morale and trust around again," the letter stated.

Smith said he doesn't think getting rid of policy governance is the path that should be taken.

He said a survey will probably not provide the board with new information, but rather building better relationships and communication between the teachers and the board is key.

"The more information people have, the less scared people are," he said.

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