Updated: Sun, Nov 15, 2009, 3:55 pm
Uploaded: Fri, Nov 13, 2009, 11:05 am
Monte Vista to get new principal
School board decides to make a permanent change at high school
The School Board determined in closed session Tuesday night that Monte Vista High School Principal Becky Smith will be reassigned. Smith has been on administrative leave since Oct. 8.
"The board voted to reassign a site administrator," said district spokesman Terry Koehne. The vote was unanimous, 4-0, with Trustee Paul Gardner absent.
"The reassignment is yet to be determined," said Koehne, "and it has prompted a permanent change in leadership at Monte Vista."
Smith, who'd served as principal at the high school since 1996, was put on administrative leave following an anonymous message on the district's Web site that she handled a gun in an inappropriate manner in the presence of a student.
The district soon determined that the gun in question was an Airsoft pistol, which shoots plastic pellets and can be purchased in stores around town.
"An interim principal will continue through the end of the 2009-2010 school year," said Koehne this morning. "In the spring we will start looking for a permanent principal."
"I'm real supportive of the process of getting the best leader we can for that campus," said School Board President Bill Clarkson. He declined to comment about what happened in the closed session.
Duff Danilovich, a retired principal from the district, has been serving as interim principal at Monte Vista since Smith was put on administrative leave. He has been principal at Los Cerros Middle School and assistant principal at California High.
Smith received her education at California State University, Chico, and California State University, East Bay, according to the Monte Vista High Web site. She has a secondary teaching credential, an administrative service credential, and a masters of science in educational administration.
She joined the staff at Monte Vista in 1981 as assistant principal II, became assistant principal I in 1987, and principal in 1996.
According to the Web site, Smith has received the Distinguished School Principal's Award from the California Department of Education for "extraordinary direction, leadership and innovation as Principal of Monte Vista High School"; and the San Ramon Valley Unified School District named her "Administrator of the Year.
Posted by educatorfromoutside,
a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2009 at 6:29 pm
While I have been only an observer of MVD over the last 25 years or so, being an educator in another close by area, I do know well some of the folks who have made MVD into the success story that it had become. In particular, the director of one of the most award-winning programs has shared with me that in their view, having been there the whole time Becky Smith was there, this controversy has largely been contrived, and that Becky Smith has done an excellent job.
In my view the opinion of one such performer is worth the opinion of hundreds of others, particularly complainers whose own kids have been disruptive and counter-productive to the school's core mission. Similarly, at events over the last few weeks I've been able to talk with about a half dozen parents of top students at MVD, and all of them thought this action a travesty. THEY have largely been satisfied, and that was a random sample of 8 out of 8. Odd that this random sample is wholly opposite to true opinion seems low to me, even with the low sample size. I expect 90% or more have been satisfied or better with MVD and its leadership.
I draw from this the conclusion that there are a few folks who have been dealt with firmly, and they are very vocal in what they view as vindication.
The job of public school Principal is very tough these days, with everyone a critic, and in a school like yours many parents are lawyers, and don't have the common sense to not use that fact in their defense. In a district like yours the PARENTS are often the ones who are spoiled and feel entitled, and when their children act out, they defend those actions, enabling continual misbehavior by their kids. If the children act spoiled and entitled, where does that come from? The parents, of course. Those folks allow theirs kids to negatively impact everyone around them, and I've seen that many hundreds of times over the years in any number of settings, and know of many such ongoing incidents in your district at several of the schools, not just MVD. The most important job of an administrator is to have the courage to stand up to the kids and parents who selfishly and stupidly interfere with the learning atmosphere of the 90% of the families who simply want to learn and participate. For these 5% to 10% of families, it is all about them, their petty (and usually false) issues, concerns and slights. Those of us who understand that schools need strong leadership will always have to deal with these forces of chaos, and unfortunately, in this case the 90% have been too silent about how happy they have been and have let the forces of evil prevail.
In all likelihood the district will go out of its way to put in someone who 'just gets along,' and as a result the school will de facto begin to be run by the teachers union and the 10% of parents who are most vocal (and annoying and distruptive). Not only will a 'get along at all costs' Principal be put in place, but even were someone not so inclined, after what has occurred to BSmith, wouldn't almost anyone be inclined to take the path of least resistance given a cowardly school board who lets something as petty as this derail a lifelong career?
Bottom line - this school has performed superbly for at last the last 10 years, and notably better than before BSmith was there. If she accomplished such a strong school by merely working behind the scenes, so much the better. Glad handing at public events is silly; the many students and parents posting who value that have no sense of what matters. A great Principal can readily be one who works quietly behind the scenes, giving others the limelight, but stands firm on issues of student / parent discipline, and who promotes and supports the teachers who put students first. After nearly 15 years, if this weren't what was happening most of the time, you would see that in low morale and performance at the school; you have seen and received the opposite, but many just can't see the forest for the trees and don't recognize how good they have had it.
Time will tell, but mark my words; 10 to 1 this school will perhaps become a little more 'friendly and compassionate' place to the troublemaker kid and the teacher with an attitude and an agenda on which the kids well-being is not #1, but that will not make it a better place, but a worse one with out clear direction and one which delivers a slowly weaker and weaker education. 10 or 15 years from now, this Becky Smith era will be looked at by those who've seen the whole period in perspective and who bother to look at reality objectively as a golden age for the school that was thrown away in a weak, weak act of political convenience and appeasement.
The real shame here is a weak school administration system and school board which took their eyes off the ball of what matters most, and complacent families who've allowed the school system leaders to cave in this embarrasing fashion. What lesson have you taught to all of your other administrators? Just that when the chips are down, even if they have performed well for you for a lifetime, you will stab them in the back over the most trivial of events. Please remember that you caved here to a vocal minority that does not truly care about the interests of the majority, and that you failed in your most fundamental duties of leadership.
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