Menlo Park school district picks Maurice Ghysels as superintendent Menlo Park, posted by Editor, The Almanac Online, on May 6, 2011 at 8:20 pm
Maurice Ghysels, the superintendent of the elementary school district in Mountain View for five years and, for the last 10 months, an administrator in the Santa Clara County Office of Education, has been named the new superintendent of the Menlo Park City School District, effective July 1.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 6, 2011, 5:43 PM
Posted by Big Al, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on May 7, 2011 at 12:12 pm
Amazing. This guy has a track record of poor judgement proven in the MV scandal. Not a shred of integrity in this guy, yet he's duped them again. Menlo Park had better get ready for a wild ride with this character whose vast experience is due to never staying in one place for too long. First he'll lay on some charm, then he'll go after long-term loyal employees that don't respond to him, and then he'll fill the district with his own yes people. Fatigue by the community will set in after a couple of years after he imposes lots of corporatisms on everyone. Good luck, you'll need it. No wonder public education is in the dumps.
Posted by POGO, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on May 7, 2011 at 5:11 pm
Steve said "I just can't believe the current superintendent is paid $240,000 (according to new public employee database) to run 4 schools!"
And that's why we need consolidation. We have Superintendents making that kind of money who manage DOZENS of schools. Consolidation of Woodside, Portola Valley, Menlo Park, Redwood City, Las Lomitas and Ravenswood, we could have one very nice elementary district - with ONE Superintendent, and ONE support staff.
Posted by Jenn, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on May 7, 2011 at 7:48 pm
As I understand it, before Dr. Ghysels was forced out of his Superintendent position in Mountain View, he built a district that had vision and was economically sound despite this state's uncertain budget. Are you all REALLY so obsessed with gossip that you would condemn a good leader whose already proved his skills?? Get over it, already! As a mom, I'm relieved to have someone whose dedicated to this job and will lead our district with my children's futures in mind. Welcome, Dr. Ghysels.
Posted by Elaine, a resident of another community, on May 8, 2011 at 6:51 am
Forced out? Is that what you call it? The emperor does have clothes I suppose for you, Jenn. You need to separate gossip from fact. Ghysels was found to be in conflict of interest and even the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury concurred. The San Jose Mercury news report doesn't hold back either. Personnel policies were changed at the district after he left to avoid future embarrassment. Mountain View never had a vision problem. But Menlo Park certainly appears to have a huge conflicted one now. Ghysels brought a bunch of corporate gibberish with him to Mountain View and the community pushed back. It has all been thrown in the dust bin by the new Superintendent. Ghsyels stacked the deck for applicants to leadership positions who he wanted by providing them answers to interview questions. He allowed frivolous sexual harassment charges to be leveled by his lover against loyal employees while she engaged in an appropriate relationship with him. He had his wife volunteering and engaged in the community at the very school he was having an admitted affair with the principal. I guess you had to be there to understand the disgust many felt. If there were any soap opera going on it was 100% of HIS OWN making. Public perception is everything, and he blew it. And BTW it was the current superintendent of Mountain View who was then the chief financial officer who made the right moves to keep the district afloat.
Posted by And now the facts, a resident of another community, on May 8, 2011 at 7:46 am
Er... Check the CA Dept of Ed's Dataquest website. Under Mr. Ghysels' tenure growth targets were not met at four MV schools, both MV middle schools dropped in API, two elementary schools went into Program Improvement, the entire school district went into the second year of Program Improvement, and the school district dropped his corporate-style Continuous Improvement management theory like a hot potato! Maybe a four-school district is more his competency level. He would have done better to keep his eye on the ball than on the ladies while at MV. But then again, Ghysels has mostly been about spin and MP hired him, so maybe this is just a figurehead position. It is interesting to note that the MV teachers union came out strongly against his efforts to cover up his conflict of interest formally calling it a "breach of professional conduct" in a letter to the school board. I'm not sure how this while go over with MP teachers.
Posted by Bob, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on May 8, 2011 at 1:35 pm
This man may have had some accomplishments, but he demonstrated poor judgment, integrity, and professionalism. If he had been a stellar candidate, there wouldn't be all these negative comments nor would there be a question of his departure from Mountain View.
It makes me question the MP City School Board in their assessment and decision making ability.
Posted by suggestion, a resident of the Menlo Park: Park Forest neighborhood, on May 8, 2011 at 2:10 pm
My suggestion is: look at the contract between him and the district. Document all complaints. I did my own research on the web this morning and this guy moves around a lot. The entries on the web mention his schooling, his divorce(s), his many jobs, his ambition. Keep your eyes and ears open. This is a time when MP didn't need any more trouble. I am amazed the board hired him. I am so sick of public embarrassment in our community.
Posted by Oh My! Not Dr.Guy!, a resident of another community, on May 8, 2011 at 2:25 pm
Since the Board’s announcement about the selection of Dr. Ghysels, the reputation of the MPCSD has been tarnished in the press. It is an embarrassment to the district. Dr. Guy’s performance in the MVWSD is chronicled in numerous articles in the Almanac’s sister publication, the Mountain View Voice.
Dr. Ghysels “always puts the needs of students first”…really? The professional and personal distractions he created in the MVWSD most certainly did detract from the education of the children in the district.
Dr. Guy was not fit to lead the MVWSD, but he is fit to lead the MPCSD?
POGO: It is not a done deal until the Board confirms his appointment Tuesday night.
Posted by Toni, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on May 8, 2011 at 2:50 pm
Omg, put the stick down, the horse is dead already! Did you just insult every female employee by saying that they are all going to fall under some spell of his?? Seriously??!! Go out and get a life, people- you need something better to do with your time.
Posted by attend the meeting, a resident of the Menlo Park: Park Forest neighborhood, on May 8, 2011 at 2:51 pm
Write emails to the Board. The employment offer can be voided. Attend the next district board meeting. At the very least, put him on a 12 month contract. I will be so glad when the school districts consolidate, like the fire districts. These superintendents aren't needed en masse. The money should be spent in the schools and not to figure heads making huge salaries. If he has child support payments and/or alimony to pay let another district pick him up.
Posted by grandmother, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on May 8, 2011 at 4:36 pm
I just read the published agenda. There should be a place on the agenda for Public Communications before the business of seating the new superintendent. Insist upon that. It is your right! Also, two members of the board come up for reelection in several months. Replacing the board president and the one man on the board would send a strong message from the community. The board is sloppy and lacks good judgment. There are plenty of good candidates out there. This guy went to San Jose State. Being so close to Stanford, the board could have done so much better.
Posted by Joe, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on May 8, 2011 at 4:50 pm
Saying sorry or "oops" we didn't mean for this to happen -- at what point in our personal life and professional career should we be held accountable for our actions? Maybe a person who is just starting out in life, but this man is educated and experienced. He knew better when he became romantically involved with a subordinate.
What's even more disappointing is I guess values, morals, and integrity took a back seat when the school board offered him the job.
It's too bad for the school district because he will arrive with stink already on him.
Posted by eric, a resident of another community, on May 8, 2011 at 11:57 pm
Maurice made some serious errors in personal judgement, but was highly regarded by those in MVWSD who were active in the distict. You will have no difficulty finding people to anonymously bash Dr Ghysels on a message board, but it will be equally easy to find parent leaders in Mtn View to praise his great work
Congratulations to the MPCSD on a decision that will enhance your district.
Posted by Joe, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on May 9, 2011 at 12:27 am
I'm confused by Eric's last comment: "Maurice made some serious errors in personal judgement, but was highly regarded by those in MVWSD who were active in the distict." Are these like off-setting penalties in football or is one supposed to cancel out the other?
"Serious errors in personal judgment" -- that's a quality I would definitely look for in a superintendent. This is not an entry level position; this is the person in charge of running the whole school district.
Posted by MV Employee, a resident of another community, on May 9, 2011 at 6:16 am
Wow, just wow. Where to begin. I feel sorry for Menlo Park School District employees. His leadership style, if you can call it that, was to pit employees against each other and then force them to chose his side. Divide and conquer. He's obsessed with controlling everything, and thinks he understands human psychology better than anyone. Lots of interpersonal games during work that go over the line. He definitely likes to intrude into your personal space, which I guess is how the whole affair think started. He's a lot like a salesman in a way. All talk, but never involved in the actual making of the product. I was surprised about how little he understood elementary education as well. Principals were moved like musical chairs. Teachers were never valued. His main objective was to impose Continuous Improvement on the district, which failed miserably. There was a lot of ego stroking involved--demanded--as well. Just be ready for him to pull out his guitar and start singing at every opportunity. He's not happy until the spot light is always on him. His lack of genuine character and commitment (as mirrored in his personal life) becomes exhausting after a while, and the entire staff starts to feel like an unappreciated wife or spouse with no way out under a master manipulator. I don't need to make this up. It's exactly what happened at Mountain View.
Posted by MV CEO, a resident of another community, on May 9, 2011 at 9:00 am
What is the board thinking? This guy will arrive largely ineffective and ridiculed. This is not what the schools need.
Did they do any research into this guy on their own? Here's what I found, all on Google for this very public figure (sorry, eric, if you put yourself out there in the public, you are open to public scrutiny. And it seems like he goes the extra mile to make himself fair game.) Or is all this part of his personal life?
Ghysels spent only four of the five years as Superintendent in Mountain View. The fifth year was apparently spent hiding and looking for another job. Craig Goldman ran the district in the fifth year as he does now as Superintendent.
Nonetheless, most media hits are quotes are him taking credit for everything that went on in Mountain View, giving little credit to the rest of the organization, mixed in with loads of qoutes and drivvle of his management style and self-described acumen as a leader with a sense for success.
Ghysels also might have spent the last ten months at the county level, but apparently several of those months were devoted to job hunting. So why is he really leaving the county? Something does not seem right.
His is a pretty spotty record for a public employee. He claims over 25 years of management and leadership experience, but when you do the math he includes such experience as high school teaching and assistant principalships!
His five years with CitiBank were during the boom years. He appears to be one of the first to have been let go with the bust. Then he heads a failed start-up, then he moves to Campbell where he skips around in positions for a few years.
He claims numerous publications, but I have only found small-time newsletter type essays, mostly on-line and not referreed, and none published in professional journals. Those claims are really stretched.
He also claims numerous consultant gigs, most while at Mountain View, which can no doubt be termed moonlighting.
And then he claims to be a professor at Pepperdine. When? For how long? It appears to be just one or two on-line courses.
And then he's got an Ed.d from a third-rate university that only offers Ed.d's in education, hardly Stanford or one of the UCs.
Posted by school mom, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on May 9, 2011 at 10:01 am
We parents were invited to a reception welcoming him -- a reception scheduled for before the meeting! So sounds to me like it's a done deal, and whatever happens at the meeting is a formality. (Which is typically the way our school board rolls.)
The school board, by the way, has been a closed club for as long as I can remember. Members are handpicked, and no one outside the clique has a chance. Even though I appreciate the service of the board members, and believe they are bright and capable people, I do think our schools would benefit form having a more diverse board composition.
Posted by Mother of Three, a resident of the Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks neighborhood, on May 9, 2011 at 10:10 am
This is typical, just typical of this school board. They've bumbled this up as well. How in this economy could they not have found a more suitable candidate to head the schools. Schools are supposed to be about values, to teach ethics and personal responsibility. How does Mr. Ghysels reconcile himself with such a fact if he was already found deficient in these areas while leading another district? If the head of an organization lacks personal accountability and ethics, what does that say about the rest of the organzition? It's not rocket science folks.
Are we entitled to know what his salary will be? Or is that a state secret at well?
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on May 9, 2011 at 10:19 am
School Boards, like Town and City Councils and the Fire Board, are elected by the citizens whom they serve. If the citizens neither bother to stand for election or to vote in the election of their school board then they get exactly the type of government that they deserve.
And if school boards are allowed to appoint superintendents without a public search and without full public input then, once again, the citizens get the quality of superintendent that they deserve.
Posted by POGO, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on May 9, 2011 at 10:35 am
This is exactly why having government in the sunshine and adhering to the Brown Act is so important. This probably wouldn't have happened without public input. Fortunately, it is not too late for the public to express concerns.
For all of those who denigrated Mr. Carpenter for filing the complaint against the Menlo Park City Council, I told you that one day your ox will be gored.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on May 9, 2011 at 10:51 am
Menlo Park School District Bylaws specify, exactly as required by the Brown Act:
"The agenda shall provide members of the public the opportunity to address the Board on any agenda item before or during the Board’s consideration of the item. The agenda shall also provide members of the public an opportunity to testify at regular meetings on matters which
are not on the agenda but which are within the subject matter jurisdiction of the Board."
The citizens of the school district have only themselves to blame if they have stood silent on the selection of a new superintendent.
The school district's web site, amazingly, does not appear to contain board agendas, minutes or the district's current budget - again the citizens are getting exactly what they deserve.
Posted by Joe, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on May 9, 2011 at 11:07 am
For any who are interested, the school board meets tomorrow night (May 10) to ratify the superintendent's contract. Meeting site: Board Room - District Office, 181 Encinal Avenue, Atherton, California.
Here is the link to the agenda (buried in their website):
Posted by eric, a resident of another community, on May 9, 2011 at 11:51 am
@joe-- I dont know how to be more clear. Maurice did make a mistake in having an affair with a subordinate. It was poor judgement on his part, and it clearly cost him. Have you never excercised bad judgement in the office? Ever?
Posted by MPCSD, a resident of the Menlo Park: Felton Gables neighborhood, on May 9, 2011 at 12:25 pm
Oh please Eric, are you really that naive to human nature? If you read the articles and posts from the sister paper, the Mountain View Voice, this guy did a hec of a lot to deny a conflict of interest existed (which clearly did) before he caved in to pressure and basically chose to leave the district before he was fired. There is a lot of suspicion regarding how he both placed his lover in a principalship and then moved her to a higher performing school. Before their relationship was discovered, he claimed it "made sense from a leadership point of view". Then he comes clean, and all of a sudden its just poor judgement on his part. We used to call this misuse of office and corruption. How can the schools be better with him, when he brings a legacy such as this? For Pete's sake, the teacher's union leveled a pretty heavy charge against him, where exactly do you think that is going to find him when it comes time to his managing of Menlo Park teachers and their union?
Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on May 9, 2011 at 12:31 pm peter carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
Joe - Thank you for the web link.
The agenda for the May 10, 2011 violates the Brown Act in that the agenda, not just the 'preliminary information', must provide for public comment BEFORE the Closed Session as well as BEFORE any action is taken in OPen Session.
Citizens who are concerned about this matter should appear at 5.30 PM before the Closed Session begins to both protest this violation of the Brown Act and to comment on the closed session item.
"C. Public Testimony
Every agenda for a regular meeting shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body on any item under the subject matter jurisdiction of the body. With respect to any item which is already on the agenda, or in connection with any item which the body will consider pursuant to the exceptions
contained in section 54954.2(b), the public must be given the opportunity to comment before or during the legislative body’s consideration of the item. (§ 54954.3(a).)"
Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on May 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm peter carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
It is astonishing that "School board President Maria Hilton announced the appointment in an email to district families this afternoon (May 6), saying Mr. Ghysels "possesses an impressive depth of educational and business leadership experience and a demonstrated passion for excellence." when the Board has not yet even acted in public session to finalize this appointment.
This is an outrage, and I would hope that the citizens of the school district will rise up in protest.
Posted by Why An Outrage?, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on May 9, 2011 at 12:45 pm
I don't understand your reasoning Peter? Why is this "astonishing"? This is Maria's opinion, after vetting several candidates, and now is putting up his name for approval. Almost no one attended any of the sessions to discuss the topic of hiring another Superintendent, there has been no input, and the elected officials again have done the vetting, selecting and now asking for public comment, before the vote. If you have an issue, attend the school board meeting and voice your concerns. This blog feedback is ridiculous. I'm willing to bet 90% of the individuals providing feedback on this blog have NEVER attended a school board meeting. Please stop the "rise up in protest" garbage, and attend a meeting or two. This school district is, and has been, one of the best run school districts in the state, and will continue to be. Stop making mountains out of mole hills and go back to your overinflated, bloated fire district budget! This is nuts.
Posted by Why An Outrage?, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on May 9, 2011 at 1:05 pm
Attend ONE meeting, just ONE and perhaps I'd have a little more respect for your constant head bashing of your version of the Brown Act. It's an old tune, that is becoming worn out. This is a very good school district that has made many, many tough decisions, with majority of them good decisions. We don't need the Blog Bashers to rewrite the story, or continue to assume and gossip. This is not a story, but if you guys need one, again go back to the bloated fire district budget. Brown Act or not, that is highway robbery! PERIOD.
Posted by MV Teacher, a resident of another community, on May 9, 2011 at 1:16 pm
Since I was there, and I don't recall you were, let me paint the picture for you regarding what you offer as just a supposed one-time, rather innocent everyday occurence of "poor judgement"? This goes FAR MORE to deep-rooted character flaws and a twisted moral compass.
I don't know many "highly regarded" so-called leaders who have brought their wives to work with them to volunteer at a low-income school site while they carried on an affair right under her nose at the very same SCHOOL site. That's just plain wicked and cold-hearted. Do you realize he publically humiliated her after she devoted hours of genuine concern to those kids and our school? His only goal was self-serving in that he wanted so much to put on a show that his whole family was devoted to the school community. Boy did that backfire. It all looked so perfect. But what a farce it was.
And then ask yourself, what kind of superintendent would allow that type of activity transpire on an elementary school site? How does that enhance any educational environment? YOU TELL ME THE KIND OF PERSON THAT ALLOWS THAT TO TRANSPIRE surrounded by children? I think you know the answer. And who gets to explain to the kids why that nice volunteer is never coming back? Believe it or not, eric, this type of stuff does not happen at 99.9% of school sites. So stop spinning that this is the norm. This type of soap opera is 100% created by individuals who lack self-control, insight, and appropriateness.
Posted by retired school principal, a resident of another community, on May 9, 2011 at 3:32 pm
The board's activities can be stopped!! Legal counsel will be at the scheduled school board meeting. I looked at the agenda. The paid school district atttorney should have noticed the legal errors in the agenda. The public can speak during oral communications and stake their claim to a new vetting of candidates. This guy is damaged goods. The community holds the power, so use it. It this guy becomes your superintendent, MP will be a laughing stock. He can't overcome his reputation; especially, since he misbehaved in an adjacent district. You taxpayers are paying thousands of dollars on your property taxes, You need to email the board members and show up for the meeting!!!
Posted by Disbelief, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on May 9, 2011 at 3:39 pm
OMG -- this is a nightmare presided over by a Board who has been known to be insulated and given to Stockholm Syndrome. I can just imagine the level of sweet talking that went on in these interviews. He must be a close personal friend of the recruiter. This was an interview process held in secrecy under the explanation that good candidates wouldn't apply if their application were a matter of public record while they were still holding a job. So while the public was invited to a series of meetings with the recruitment firm before they started, no one -- no public, no parents, no teachers, no principals, no employees -- were allowed to meet the candidates before one was hired. Brilliant. Ghysels could be fabulous but his ethical breach disqualifies him from consideration -- if we can't look up to our Superintendent to set an example in his personal conduct and his professional conduct then all is lost.
Posted by Citizen Alert, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on May 9, 2011 at 3:51 pm
Get to the board meeting around 5pm. Even though the agenda is illegally written, you have a right to speak during oral communications at the "Beginning" of the meeting. This means the execution of the hiring can be stopped. Also, circulate emails to your neighbors and friends.Encourage them to get to the meeting. This guy, I'm sure, by now has read this thread on the Almanac. It really sounds as though your board broke Brown Act rules which support transparency. Don't let this happen. The kids are too important.
Posted by Steve, a resident of another community, on May 9, 2011 at 4:21 pm
Sign me up with Eric. If we disqualify every leader guilty of workplace infidelities, we won't have nearly enough ambitious, charismatic leaders qualified to run much of anything (Can you say WJ Clinton). Dr. Ghysels guitar and singing Cowboy act wears a little thin after a while, but it certainly livens up fundraisers. He's definitely a multiple marrier with either too much charisma or not enough sense too be successful in marriage. Anybody checked the divorce statistics lately? Your school board certainly had access to all of that information. If you want to vet superintendent candidates publicly, every candidate will either be seeking their first superintendency, or already be between jobs with nothing to lose. In this case, if the other candidates are superintendents, it would be interesting to spy on their board evaluations "Why aren't you better than that Ghysels guy for a high performing district like Menlo City?"
Posted by school mom, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on May 9, 2011 at 5:54 pm
It's not the affair that bothers me. It's allowing that relationship to affect personnel decisions, as Maurice evidently did (no comparison to Clinton). Sounds as though academic performance slipped during his tenure. Maybe his fault, maybe not. He apparently tried to execute a poorly conceived management strategy that was not well received. And he fomented infighting among staff.
I'm sure he has some terrific qualities too, but, whoa, way too many red flags. I'm astonished he can even get another job in the profession.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on May 9, 2011 at 10:27 pm
Why states:"the bloated fire district budget."
Exactly the kind of envious comment that might be expected from an advocate of a local public agency that runs a deficit, requires a parcel tax, turns away customers and operates behind closed doors about another local public agency that runs a balanced budget, has no parcel tax, has reserves to covers the replacement of all of its depreciated assets, posts all of its proposed personnel contracts for 15 days before even considering those contracts for adoption, permits and encourages public comment before every closed session and at the beginning and end its regular session and before acting on any item, and provides more services to more people every year.
Posted by MV employee, a resident of another community, on May 10, 2011 at 6:37 am
Menlo Park principals, teachers, staff, and parents beware and get ready to be played. This guy knows all the tricks in the book; appeals to emotion, flashy clothing to include the Rolex, tries to be hip, tries to connect with you if only to undermine you, if you're French, he's French, if your Italian, he's Italian, if your rich, you'll hear about his jet-setting experiences, if you're humble, he'll talk about his humble beginnings and his mom and his dad. The conversation will always have to involve something to do with him. At Open House, if you're not a power parent he'll swing right by you and head to the power. He doesn't like nobodies, he'll want to connect to the movers and shakers, he'll do drive-bys in that he'll ask everyone's opinions of everyone else (what do you think of this person, that principal, that teacher, this teacher) all designed to identify the sources of power in the district and to placate them. The parent or employee focused on student learning will have no voice. He'll try to squash each schools individual culture. He'll rebrand the district saying the one you have now is a tired brand. At board meetings he'll be humble and polished with plenty of glitz and glitter. He'll make everybody take pledges with their arms raised and frame it like an evangelical meeting while poking fun at Christians. He tries to model himself after a Clinton type. He'll hold State of the District speeches which mostly involve his ego. There's so much more. It may all seem pretty normal, but it's self-reflective all designed to feed a narcissist's ego. All we are left with in Mountain View after 4 years are fancy signs and a new logo.
Posted by Mary L., a resident of the Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks neighborhood, on May 10, 2011 at 8:48 am
Another shining example of the total lack of accountability in public schools. I'm sure his salary will be off the charts with allthe benefits. Don't bother to notice that it is money taken away from the classroom [portion deleted]. More of the same song and dance.
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on May 10, 2011 at 1:38 pm
Man, this guy is radioactive! Did the school board do anything to vet this guy? I doubt it since a simple google search turns up a ton of negative stuff. Either that or they just chose to ignore it. In any event, it sounds like this guy is a lawsuit waiting to happen.
Posted by school mom, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on May 10, 2011 at 4:00 pm
I emailed the board because I can't make the meeting. I don't expect it to do any good. A friend who was on the MPCSD board told me that they make their decisions ahead of time and they would rather that the public not attend any meetings. She was only half joking.
Here's my theory: the appointment was announced four days ago, including a weekend. The board knew that the choice would be unpopular, so they wanted to rush it through, no chance for public input. They figured that once the contract is signed, the protests will start to disappear. If someone does complain, they just shrug and say "we have a contract."
Posted by suggestion, a resident of another community, on May 10, 2011 at 4:29 pm
You still can do something about this. He hasn't started the job yet. The school district attorney should be prepared for the public's negative response. The public can work on rescinding the offer. Maybe after he has read the emails he will step down. Don't give up! It's your school community and your money!
Posted by MP Parent, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on May 10, 2011 at 4:55 pm
To the writer who stated "if you're not a power parent he'll swing right by you and head to the power" - this is standard operating procedure for the MP Administration and Board. We are fortunate to have a foundation that raise 2-3 million a year -- but as a result all of our board members are foundation folks and simply picked one of their own.
Posted by Andy, a resident of the Atherton: Lloyden Park neighborhood, on May 10, 2011 at 5:08 pm
Some one tell me why a four-school boutique district even needs a superintendent, particularly one the likes of this [portion deleted]. His questionable behavior aside, my objective analysis would suggest he is over-qualified for the job if all his experience can be backed up. The money could be put to better use.
Posted by Missing in Menlo, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on May 10, 2011 at 11:25 pm
Interesting Call to Action Mr. Carpenter -- can't find it in this town where there were a number of posts including a call to attend tonight's Board meeting -- but from what I heard -- not a one showed up to comment. As long as this non-participation exists -- the town and community gets what it gets.
Posted by Ashley, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on May 11, 2011 at 9:29 am
To Joe, no one actually shows their face. You should know a coward by now, you are an adult, right? It was nice to see so many supporters last night.
Trust your board. Congratulations Maurice!
We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish."
Posted by Steve, a resident of another community, on May 11, 2011 at 10:56 am
Much blogging but no one shows at the meeting. A pretty common occurence for school board meetings around the Mid-Peninsula. Since even a four school district needs a superintendent, I believe you'll have an enthusiastic, knowledgeable advocate for students. Since Menlo Park is apparently a community of movers and shakers, an expert schmooz is actually very well qualified.
Posted by Taxed To Death, a resident of the Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks neighborhood, on May 11, 2011 at 12:45 pm
The district has become a private school system masquerading as public. We can not afford a superintendent that makes over $210,000 with 25 days off a year! (See the Mercury News article). He will bring in more than many superintendents responsible for double, and triple the number of school sites with several thousand more students! he rich get richer and more privileges and the poor get poorer with less. The taxpayer gets the ever-increasing bill. I agree that the school systems in Menlo Park need to be consolidated.
Posted by MP parent, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on May 11, 2011 at 1:36 pm
I love how Peter is promoting private schools over public schools as the answer. See his earlier promotion in another thread of the upcoming construction of Sacred Heart's 100 million new elementary school. I'm all for SHP raising and spending this exorbitant amount on one small school. And it's fine for them to charge $35k tuition as well. But our local public school do a pretty great job for 1/3rd the cost per student. Peter, not everyone can afford to spend the kind of money that it costs to attend SHP or Menlo, but our kids deserve a good education as well. Stop bashing our public schools. If you have such good ideas, why don't you start attending board meetings or run yourself? Geez!
Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on May 11, 2011 at 3:37 pm peter carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
MP Parent states:"I love how Peter is promoting private schools over public schools as the answer."
Another untruth by an anonymous poster. I never have promoted private schools over public ones. The best schools will win, being public or private is not the sole determinant. In fact, we took our son out of a private school and happily placed him in Encinal and then MA.
Posted by Parent, a resident of another community, on May 11, 2011 at 5:29 pm
@MVTeacher: "...brought their wives to work with them to volunteer at a low-income school site while they carried on an affair right under her nose at the very same SCHOOL site. ...His only goal was self-serving in that he wanted so much to put on a show that his whole family was devoted to the school community."
Did it ever occur to you that Maurice's ex-wife may have CHOSEN to do the volunteering on her own? I saw her volunteer at many events (at many schools, not just "that" one), and often Maurice wasn't even there. I think she volunteered because she enjoyed it and wanted to be part of the community, she's just that type of person.
Not to say that makes the situation any less humiliating for her, but just that when you jump to the conclusion that Maurice "dragged her" to volunteer at the school, and state it as face, you lose some credibity. Stick to facts. Fact: she did volunteer. Opinion: Maurice made her volunteer.
Posted by Parent, a resident of another community, on May 11, 2011 at 5:39 pm
Regarding consolidation/saving costs. My guess is -- lots more schools, you will pay the superintendent the same or more - plus you will have more assistant/associate/deputy superintendents. You can't make your school district 10 times larger with just the same # of admin that you run a 4-district school with.
So yes, there will be economies of scale, but probably not anywhere near as much as people seem to think.
Also, that whole red herring of supers in small districts being overpaid when you look at cost per student in the district. Just dumb. LA Unified may be 100 times bigger (or whatever) than MP, but you don't pay the superintendent 100 times more. There's a range of salaries for the job. It will vary depending on many factors. Yes, a bigger district probably pays on the higher end. A district in a region with lower costs of living probably pays less. A poor district with very low revenue limit from the state probably doesn't pay as well as a better-off basic aid district like MVLA or PAUSD. But salary is not a direct correlation to how many students you have.
Ed-Data.org used to list this statistic on their website with a caveat that you couldn't really read too much into it, for all these reasons stated above. But everyone always read a LOT into it. I think they don't even list the salaries per student anymore for this reason.
Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on May 11, 2011 at 6:00 pm peter carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
Parent states:"You can't make your school district 10 times larger with just the same # of admin that you run a 4-district school with."
This is an interesting proposition but one which runs counter to the proven experience of the private sector with economies of scale. Where is it carved in stone that a school district needs X number of administrators per student?
Posted by Bob, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on May 11, 2011 at 6:48 pm
It seems as if last night's meeting was a mere formality in approving an already done deal.
While this man has his short comings and made some serious errors in judgment, I am much more disappointed in the school board for its decision -- shame one them. I guess values, good conduct, propriety, character, and professionalism mean nothing to them.
What's sad is most people will forget this decision come election time, and the board members will be reelected. So much for accountability in our elected officials.
Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on May 11, 2011 at 7:45 pm peter carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
The School Board President stated " board members voted, in a blind-ballot process, to rank the candidates."
This is a clear violation of the law which requires ALL such voting to be done openly. The Brown Act prohibits the members of a legislative body from voting by secret ballot.
Here is the Attorney General's guidance on this issue:
Secret ballots are expressly prohibited by section 54953(c). This office has long disapproved secret ballot voting in open meetings and the casting of mail ballots. One aspect of the public’s right to scrutinize and participate in public hearings is their right to witness the decision-making process. If votes are secretly cast, the public is deprived of a portion of its right. (See also 59 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 619, 621-622 (1976).) However, it is the view of this office that members of a body may cast their ballots either orally or in writing so long as the written ballots are marked and tallied in open session and the ballots are disclosable public records.
Is there no end to this school board's contempt for both the law and the citizens whom it was elected to serve?
Posted by Carla, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on May 12, 2011 at 2:15 am
This gets more interesting by the minute. Under the Ghsyels' regime at Mountain View, Ghysels lost control of a situation regarding a teacher with a history of berating and humiliating kids and orchestrated a buyout behind closed doors but sold it to the community as a simple resignation! Now that's definitely putting students first! Watch your pocket books Menlo Park!
From the The Voice Town Square:
"According to the Public Employee Salaries Database 2010, the highest paid teacher in MVWSD in 2010 was the controversial Patricia Polifrone who was reported to have resigned from the district back in 2009 by Stephanie Totter, director of administrative services. However, Polifrone grossed $112,500 in 2010 suggesting that she was actually bought out by the school district. Web Link The amount far surpasses the salary of the highest paid teacher in the district who actually taught in 2010. The true cost of the buyout remains a mystery, but such is the price for poor personnel administration of teachers in the district and the even poorer practices of documenting parent complaints. The as-of-yet-undetermined total amount of money used to buy out Polifrone could have been put to good use in the classroom. Hopefully, the new superintendent takes effective steps to put an end to costly and poorly managed personnel policies and practices in the district in the future. This is what the Public Employee Salaries Database 2010 was designed to do; to reveal the waste taking place everyday in public organizations."
Posted by Carla, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on May 12, 2011 at 2:25 am
Also from the Mountain View Town Square Forum:
"According to the Public Employee Salaries Database 2010, Ghsyels arranged to pay Mizell $116,428 as principal before he left. Mizell had three years experience as a principal. That's the second highest salary for an elementary school principal in MVWSD. The highest was $117,229 for an elementary principal with two decades experience as principal. There is far more to this story than meets the eye."
Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on May 12, 2011 at 3:22 am peter carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
Dear Menlo City School District Board,
Pursuant to Section 549601. you are hereby notified that your actions in appointing a new superintendent violated the Brown Act and those actions will need to be declared null and void.
School Board President Maria Hilton announced on May 6 the appointment in an email to district families, saying Mr. Ghysels "possesses an impressive depth of educational and business leadership experience and a demonstrated passion for excellence."
The action leading to this announcement violated the Brown Act in at least two ways.
First, as Mrs. Hilton stated on May 10 that board members had voted, in a blind-ballot process, to rank the candidates.
Second, the Board had reached consensus on this matter without the opportunity for public comment at a properly agendized meeting. On May 10 Mrs. Hilton announced a "welcome reception" for the appointed individual BEFORE its regular meeting on Tuesday, May 10. The reception will be from 6 to 7 p.m. in the district office at 181 Encinal Ave. in Menlo Park. The agenda for the 10 May meeting, after the "welcome reception" included a Closed session item titled:
''The Board will meet in Closed Session regarding Public Employee Appointment (Superintendent) as per Government Code 54957"
and an Open Session item titled :
"a. Ratification of Contract with Dr. Maurice Ghysels for Position of Superintendent, Beginning July 1, 2011 "
Cure and Correct Demand:
1 - The Menlo Park City School Board made a preliminary decision regarding the appointment of a new superintendent by secret ballot in violation of Section 54953c which states (c) No legislative body shall take action by secret ballot, whether preliminary or final.
2 - The Board reached consensus on this appointment without public input thereby denying the public's right to comment before the Board's decision was made.
3 - The Board then announced this appointment well before a regularly scheduled meeting at which the public would have been give the opportunity to comment before the legislative body voted to take action, also thereby denying the public's right to comment before the Board's decision was made.
4 - The Board then also announced that a welcoming reception for this appointee appointment would be before a regularly scheduled meeting at which the public would have been give the opportunity to comment before the legislative body voted to make this appointment, also thereby denying the public's right to comment before the Board's decision was made.
Therefore, the Board is respectfully requested to nullify this entire appointment procedure and to begin it search ab initio. When doing the new search and making the appointment the Board is urged not to use either secret ballots or closed sessions (even in those narrow instances when such session might be legally permitted) in order to ensure the public's confidence in and participation in the new appointment process.
I am also copying this Cure and Correct Demand Letter to the San Mateo District Attorney so that he may determine if civil or criminal action should be taken.
54960.1. (a) The district attorney or any interested person may
commence an action by mandamus or injunction for the purpose of
obtaining a judicial determination that an action taken by a
legislative body of a local agency in violation of Section 54953,
54954.2, 54954.5, 54954.6, 54956, or 54956.5 is null and void under
this section. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prevent
a legislative body from curing or correcting an action challenged
pursuant to this section.
(b) Prior to any action being commenced pursuant to subdivision
(a), the district attorney or interested person shall make a demand
of the legislative body to cure or correct the action alleged to have
been taken in violation of Section 54953, 54954.2, 54954.5, 54954.6,
54956, or 54956.5. The demand shall be in writing and clearly
describe the challenged action of the legislative body and nature of
the alleged violation.
(c) (1) The written demand shall be made within 90 days from the
date the action was taken unless the action was taken in an open
session but in violation of Section 54954.2, in which case the
written demand shall be made within 30 days from the date the action
(2) Within 30 days of receipt of the demand, the legislative body
shall cure or correct the challenged action and inform the demanding
party in writing of its actions to cure or correct or inform the
demanding party in writing of its decision not to cure or correct the
(3) If the legislative body takes no action within the 30-day
period, the inaction shall be deemed a decision not to cure or
correct the challenged action, and the 15-day period to commence the
action described in subdivision (a) shall commence to run the day
after the 30-day period to cure or correct expires.
(4) Within 15 days of receipt of the written notice of the
legislative body's decision to cure or correct, or not to cure or
correct, or within 15 days of the expiration of the 30-day period to
cure or correct, whichever is earlier, the demanding party shall be
required to commence the action pursuant to subdivision (a) or
thereafter be barred from commencing the action.
(d) An action taken that is alleged to have been taken in
violation of Section 54953, 54954.2, 54954.5, 54954.6, 54956, or
54956.5 shall not be determined to be null and void if any of the
following conditions exist:
(1) The action taken was in substantial compliance with Sections
54953, 54954.2, 54954.5, 54954.6, 54956, and 54956.5.
(2) The action taken was in connection with the sale or issuance
of notes, bonds, or other evidences of indebtedness or any contract,
instrument, or agreement thereto.
(3) The action taken gave rise to a contractual obligation,
including a contract let by competitive bid other than compensation
for services in the form of salary or fees for professional services,
upon which a party has, in good faith and without notice of a
challenge to the validity of the action, detrimentally relied.
(4) The action taken was in connection with the collection of any
(5) Any person, city, city and county, county, district, or any
agency or subdivision of the state alleging noncompliance with
subdivision (a) of Section 54954.2, Section 54956, or Section
54956.5, because of any defect, error, irregularity, or omission in
the notice given pursuant to those provisions, had actual notice of
the item of business at least 72 hours prior to the meeting at which
the action was taken, if the meeting was noticed pursuant to Section
54954.2, or 24 hours prior to the meeting at which the action was
taken if the meeting was noticed pursuant to Section 54956, or prior
to the meeting at which the action was taken if the meeting is held
pursuant to Section 54956.5.
(e) During any action seeking a judicial determination pursuant to
subdivision (a) if the court determines, pursuant to a showing by
the legislative body that an action alleged to have been taken in
violation of Section 54953, 54954.2, 54954.5, 54954.6, 54956, or
54956.5 has been cured or corrected by a subsequent action of the
legislative body, the action filed pursuant to subdivision (a) shall
be dismissed with prejudice.
(f) The fact that a legislative body takes a subsequent action to
cure or correct an action taken pursuant to this section shall not be
construed or admissible as evidence of a violation of this chapter.
54960.5. A court may award court costs and reasonable attorney fees
to the plaintiff in an action brought pursuant to Section 54960 or
54960.1 where it is found that a legislative body of the local agency
has violated this chapter. The costs and fees shall be paid by the
local agency and shall not become a personal liability of any public
Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community, on May 12, 2011 at 7:41 am
San Mateo County residents should say Thank You to Peter Carpenter once again.
For the last 28 years our District Attorney James P. Fox refused to enforce the Brown Act Laws. We now have a newly elected District Attorney named Steve Wagstaffe who so far has demonstrated he intends to continue that policy.
Why should a citizen have to tell the DA about this case, it is in the local newspaper and on a blog Mr. Wagstaffe and staff have been known to view.
Posted by MPSCD Employee, a member of the Hillview Middle School community, on Jan 13, 2012 at 5:46 pm
Menlo Park [portion removed; color is appreciated, but please keep it suitable for prime time] with his selection.
We've already had 2 great administrators resign because of him, and the entire administration and leadership teams are unhappy and getting dis-enfranchised.
In case you hadn't noticed, the school district was doing great, it didn't need someone who was going to shake things up, it needed someone who was going to stay the course. Hope you can excise this cancer before it ruins the district.
Posted by Mountain Viewer, a resident of another community, on Jan 14, 2012 at 8:14 am
Classic Ghysels. He already has friends in mind to plug into positions. He'll divide and conquer to keep only people who agree with him and commit to loyalty. He'll rig the deck in his favor, at the expense of committed professionals and the children.
While at Mountain View, he flew in a friend from Hawaii and gave her the answers to the board questions. When the local school site hiring board suspected something foul and found out they were friends, they had to exclude her and start over.
And we all know the preferential treatment he gave his mistress principal in assignments and raises.
Well... MPSD will have to learn the hard way now about the necessity to screen candidates and take seriously such scandalous, reckless, and egocentric behavior (and the documented newspaper coverage of it) prior to hiring a superintendent.
The show is just getting started. Sit back and enjoy it. Mountain View is just thrilled to be rid of him.
Posted by Carl, a resident of the Atherton: Lloyden Park neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2012 at 1:05 pm
The ultimate Toxic Leader:
Defined: Plays corporate power politics; An overcompetitive attitude to other employees; Perfectionistic attitudes; Abuse of the disciplinary system (such as to remove a workplace rival); A condescending/glib attitude; Poor self-control and or restraint; Physical and/or psychological Bullying; Procedural inflexibility; Discriminatory attitudes (sexism, etc); Causes workplace division instead of harmony; Use "divide and rule" tactics on their employees; Aggressive narcissism; Glibness/superficial charm; Grandiose sense of self-worth; Pathological lying; Cunning/manipulative; Lack of remorse or guilt; Callous/lack of empathy; Shallow emotional affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric); Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
Posted by glad I'm out, a resident of the Menlo Park: Felton Gables neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2012 at 2:56 pm
As one who was an active volunteer in the schools, I was concerned about this appointment. Even though my child was in 8th grade when he was appointed (no effect on my family) I felt strongly enough to speak to board members. I was assured that the rumors posted here were from just a few disgruntled people, and that all his references checked out brilliantly.
We all saw this coming, and I feel bad for young families just starting in the district. MPCSD used to have nice, caring supes, pre-Ranella. Only we long-timers remember!
Posted by former friend, a resident of another community, on May 14, 2012 at 6:57 pm
Wow, so many comments hit the nail right on the head. When I knew Maurice back in college it was the same routine: narcissim, false charm; grandiose sense of self; sexism; and absolute lack of responsibility for missteps. Some things never change.
Posted by Oh My! Not Dr. Guy!, a resident of another community, on May 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm
It is not surprising to learn that Ghysels’ behaves the same way now as he did in college. It is clear that he still requires adult supervision. Mountain View Whisman School District understood this fact. Curiously, it appears that the School Board in Menlo Park does not.