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Monte Vista to get new principal

Original post made on Nov 13, 2009

The School Board took action in closed session Tuesday night for a new principal to take the helm at Monte Vista High School. Becky Smith, who'd served as principal since 1996, was put on administrative leave Oct. 8 following an anonymous message that she handled a gun in an inappropriate manner in the presence of a student.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, November 13, 2009, 11:05 AM

Comments (30)

Posted by Fred F
a resident of Alamo
on Nov 13, 2009 at 7:40 pm

It's about time!

Posted by Isaac Kalloch
a resident of Danville
on Nov 14, 2009 at 8:59 am

For Rebecca Smith to lose her job over something like this is just ridiculous. This "incident" with the toy gun was totally insignificant. Some people around here wanted to get her out of MVHS,
and this provided them with a convenient excuse. These people are the ones who used poor judgment, not Rebecca Smith. Shameful.

Posted by Diane
a resident of Danville
on Nov 14, 2009 at 9:54 am

Michael, I too put a child through Monte Vista, though we had little contact with Ms. Smith. I'm sorry your experience was so bad!

Isaac, whether the gun was a toy or not, doesn't it seem at minimum inappropriate for the principal to point it at a student, even to make a point? It does make one wonder about her stability. I wonder if the student involved considers the action insignificant.

Posted by Annie W.
a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 14, 2009 at 4:27 pm

BTW, I hear that Becky Smith will be assigned to Venture, in management post, boss of English Learners.

Annie W. ^.^

Posted by citizen
a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 14, 2009 at 4:55 pm


Just curious, why shouldn't the zero tolerance policy be applicable to everyone at the school, not just the students? Using intimidation by brandishing an air soft gun is no way for a supposedly seasoned principal to run a high school!

Posted by ThisIsMessedUP
a resident of Alamo
on Nov 14, 2009 at 11:18 pm

Many of the residents in these areas think that all teachers and principals should cater to their child's every need. News flash alamo/danville residents- the world does not revolve around you! Was her maliciousness the fact that your children were spoiled rotten!? How dare somebody be rude to you!! **rolls eyes. This story seems like a bunch of crap. I went to SRVHS and have lived in Alamo my whole life, so I am well aware of the arrogance. I just think to remove a principal over this is ridiculous. Sounds to me like MV students needed a principal willing to not deal with the bull****. THose are my thoughts. Ohh, and it's not an uneducated opinion, because I have had many run-ins with her, and what a lovely lady.

Posted by Auntie J Insider
a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Nov 15, 2009 at 11:43 am

What do you "experts" think you know? Many of us who work "inside" know the real story and this isn't it. We have known Becky Smith as a respected member of our school district for many years. Monte Vista has received more awards than any other high school; National Blue Ribbon School, California Distinguished School (multiple times), top 3% of high schools, and many many more. As administrators go, she is simply the best. We know it; too bad a few of the writers in these blogs are unhappy Mrs. Smith may have held their kids responsible for their own actions. Good principals do that. You're right, Fred, there are people inside and outside the district who prefer not to have an "elite school" in the SRVUSD. MV has too much success, too much prestige, and too much money (donated by generous, dedicated, and engaged parents.) It makes the other high schools look bad. Ever wonder why the district transferred out the assistant principals leaving an "all-rookie crew" at MV this year? This have never happened before in the SRVUSD. Do you really think your kids are better off with these inexperienced administrators - and now with no principal at all?
Read the latest statements from the district more carefully and you will find there is no statement connecting the action taken as related to the so-called "incident." Has Mrs. Smith, in fact, been reassigned? Annie W. your rumor-driven statement is absurd. Did you conclude Becky will go to Venture because there is a posting for the principal position there? Wrong. You seem to connect the non-existant dots about as well as the Contra Costa Times and the Danville Express have. I am embarassed that our school district has "leaked" incorrect facts to the media to paint an erroneous picture. Airsoft pistol? Wrong. Pointed a toy gun at a student? Wrong. Is there a "No tolerance" policy? Wrong. Is there an interim principal in place? Wrong. Mr. Danilovich (who, by the way, we know to be a "good guy") has been on vacation in Viet Nam for the past few weeks. But he has never been a high school principal. Who is runing the school? Sure Tony Taylor, the "I will do anything to become a superintendent power hungry b****" sits in Mrs. Smith's chair but it isn't Danilovich as the district spokesman would like you to believe. Is this the "extra attention" Superintendent Enoch speaks of? It is unfortunate a few members of our community wish to drag Mrs. Smith's reputation through the dirt and take pot shots at someone we know to be an outstanding and dedicated principal. It is even more unfortunate our district continues to provide piecemeal incorrect information. Fortunately there are parents with first hand knowledge of dealing with Mrs. Smith who continue to speak, write, and blog in her behalf. How many letters did the school distrcit receive criticising their outrageous conduct? Letters that support Mrs. Smith. It is a big pile. School board members got them too. Do your job Danville Express (and CC Times) ask people who work here more pressing and direct questions and you just might get some real answers about how this whole incident has been mishandled. Did you notice the quotes in the newspaper articles by Mrs. Smith's attorney are from two different attorneys? How many does she have - and how big will the settlement - or judgement - be when Mrs. Smith is finally paid for the districts mistakes? Who wins? Not our kids.

Posted by Former SRVUSD employer
a resident of Danville
on Nov 15, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Thank you Steve Enoch and the Board for doing what should have been done years ago. Ms. Smith's recent problem is not just an isolated incident. It is just one of many incidents that she has been associated with and it is appalling that she has been allowed to continue in her job. Her abuse of power in using Student Body funds without their consent is a travesty. It is ridulous to think that she did not know that this was WRONG. What kind of example are we setting for our children when they are aware of what she has done and realize that she was never held accountable for her actions? Her history of bullying employees and students is also well known. Her tactics created an atmosphere of fear that kept them from reporting her.
People might want to refer to the MVHS students as "spoiled rotten" but my experience with them was that as a whole they were decent, polite individuals.
It is unfortunate that her legal team will probably extract a huge monetary settlement in order for the District to be rid of her when her actions should have been enough justification.

Posted by Diane
a resident of Danville
on Nov 15, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Auntie J - you allude to a "real" story. What's the scoop? The only thing I have read about is the toy gun incident - what are we missing?

Posted by Auntie J Insider
a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Nov 15, 2009 at 3:50 pm

All right Yvette - or shall we just call you "Former"! This is just the kind of poison that is your usual stock-in-trade. Of course you mispeak and (we all know) you intend to mislead since there was no mis-use of funds at MV. Audits were conducted and it was concluded that no monies ever left the school or were used for any benefit other than for students, right? You have seen copies so you know this. Spent on Becky's golf cart? Wrong. It was a donation from an MV parent. Turns out money left over from previous classes are deposited into the student body account as is prescribed by school and state accounting process and procedures - but you know that. Students don't get to vote upon the use of funds after they graduate. Sorry if you don't approve. State school business officers made that rule, not Mrs. Smith. We that know you, know you will say anything bad you can about Mrs. Smith since she didn't kowtow to your demands and petty attempts to be someone special at MV. BTW:I never said Monte Vista students are "spoiled rotten." I don't believe this to be true. They are, after all, some of the highest achievers in the state. Another misleading and defensive statement, "Former?"
Diane, it is not my intent to "tell you" stories but to provide some information so people like you will ask some hard questions rather than "pile on" and buy into the misinformation that is being "leaked" to the media. Many of us that are watching this process don't approve. Mrs. Smith deserves far better than how she is being treated by a few people in blogs like this one. Those of us who have known and worked with her for many years have had enough! It is unfair and she doesn't deserve it! I suppose you might inquire about the school district offering a "trial by media." Terry Koehne stated in his initial coments to the press he cannot provide any details about a "personnel matter" and then he proceeded to provide details about a toy "AirSoft" gun (wrong), how it was handled, etc. He said the matter was under investigation - so how did he know the facts? But he has made no attempt to correct his earlier misstatements. Was there an "investigation?" Do you know the "anonymous complaint" was filed more than a week after the so-called "event?" Do you think it was filed by the student's parent or the student? Wrong again. Who might have filed the "anomymous complaint"? A vendictive parent? A school district employee? Do you think "anonymous" is real? Diane, you presume a toy gun was pointed at a student by Mrs. Smith. It wasn't. There were other adults present and their statements don't support this accusation. Check the newspaper: the rumor about "pointing a toy gun" came from "sources," not from an "investigation" or from the school district representative. The "sources" are students. They weren't there...

Posted by Diane
a resident of Danville
on Nov 15, 2009 at 8:25 pm

Auntie J - clearly you have a specific idea of what is going on (but seem to express those ideas in the form of questions?). I didn't have a problem with Ms. Smith when my daughter was a student, and yes I was under the impression that she pointed a toy gun at a student. You offer an alternative view, and in spite of the way you get that view across, I appreciate your point. Just an fyi - the "Former" post did not say you had said MVHS students were spoiled - I believe they were responding to another person.

Finally, my name is not Diane - as there are some nutty people on this forum, I protect my family by using a pseudonym. If "Former" was doing the same and you responded using their name, shame on you!

Posted by Parent
a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Nov 16, 2009 at 7:17 am

Auntie J,
Rather than hint at what the actually story is, why don't you enlighten us so we can be as informed as you are? If ousting Mrs. Smith was a political and vindictive move as you imply, shouldn't that be brought into daylight?

You would be more persuasive if you'd 1) not "out" people on this forum and 2) provide information rather than provocative questions.

Posted by objective parent
a resident of Danville
on Nov 16, 2009 at 7:38 am

When my first child entered school a very wise parent said to me...You will find that schools are run by one of three groups; the parents, the teachers, or the principal. I feel fortunate that MVHS was run by the principal, the person we hire to be at the helm of the ship through good weather and bad.

We also experienced a school that was run by the teachers. They were tyrants and mean to both the students and parents. When the principal position changed and a strong principal came in, the teachers reacted badly like spoil children finally being reprimanded. This turnover year was even more miserable than their tyrant years,until they realized the principal was in charge.

Our family was fortunate to have Becky Smith as the leader at MVHS, a strong person who could manage the strong personalities of the MV community. We may not have agreed with all her decisions, but they were in the best interest of managing the whole school and its many constituents.

Becky, we wish you the best. Aloha

Posted by Leslie
a resident of Danville
on Nov 16, 2009 at 9:37 am

The bigger question remains: Why did this kid bring a very real looking weapon to school? I looked at the "airsoft" and it would scare the heck out of me. "Toy" or not.

Posted by parentinthedark
a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Nov 16, 2009 at 10:14 am

My child goes to MV, great students btw, very few are spoiled, most extremely caring about their fellow students,but parents are not being informed about who is in charge at the school now. Why have we received no letters stating who the acting principal is? Why were the experienced assisant principals, who did a great job, all removed at this time? Why were we not made aware of this? I guess we just don't need to know these things.
As for Ms. Smith, lets wait until we know all the facts, oh wait, we never will, the school district doesn't share info about important matters.

Posted by Martin Gale
a resident of Alamo
on Nov 16, 2009 at 3:12 pm

parentinthedark --

No one has been informed as to whom the acting principal is
because the district is not sure yet themselves. Duff Danilovich
can have the interim job if he wants it, but he is currently on
vacation, out of the country. Meanwhile, Tony Taylor is holding
down the office. It's unlikely a permanent principal will be in
place before next Summer. As for the 3 former vice principals,
only one of them, Kathy McCarthy, was transferred (to SRVHS)
pretty much against her will. The other two left on their own
because they got other jobs they wanted.

Posted by Ron
a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 16, 2009 at 4:27 pm

It is really funny to read all of the cr-p being slung back and forth. Someone's downfall is always a good opportunity to unload our pent up feelings or slam a person because you didn'tlike them anyway. Really petty and childish. What were the good parents and SRVUSD doing for past 13 years she was Principal. I guess no one had the guts to face the problem or maybe she was doing a good job.

I wasn't there and none of you were but it is done, the Board decided on action, so let it go.

Posted by anon student.
a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Nov 16, 2009 at 6:27 pm

Ron -

No. You're wrong. People were standing up against her. Countless former administrators, staff members, students, and parents filed many complaints against her. Her tenure saved her for awhile, but as I said, the last straw had to come somewhere. This just happened to be the straw that got to her. This community is very hush hush. That's why you didn't hear about every piece of dirty laundry on Becky.

Posted by anon student.
a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Nov 16, 2009 at 6:33 pm

Also, Auntie J, I know the student in question. The complaint was filed by another administrator who was present, much like when a present administrator (no longer at MV) filed a complaint when she saw how Mrs. Smith treated me. Mrs. Smith DID point an airsoft gun at the student at question, and that student had done nothing but bring an INFLATABLE, very fake looking, toy gun to school.

Adults like you are extremely ignorant. I don't know why you assume automatic knowledge comes with age. You're not smarter than everyone else. I know facts directly from the source. Your "facts" are from second hand or deliberately innaccurate sources.

Posted by Alamo Parent
a resident of Alamo
on Nov 16, 2009 at 6:47 pm

To all the ugly comments.....have some class! Becky Smith is gone from MVHS and there is no real upper management, is that what you want? The streets are talking as usual, it needs to stop and let the kids live and learn in peace! Last Friday the trophy was won back by MVHS, what a way to begin a new life!

Posted by Parent
a resident of Danville
on Nov 16, 2009 at 7:20 pm

To "concerned parent": I think you owe Mr. Fenley an apology. It is inappropriate to make this a personal attack on his son. You state no facts, but rather opinionated, subjective, and offensive slander of a young man. Your post is so mean spirited, it suggest you are someone perhaps related, or very close, to Mrs. Smith. If you feel the need to bring someone down, in order to try to build up Mrs. Smith,it shows you have very little factual evidence showing Mrs. Smith to be a credible Principal. In fact, your post makes me think the District did the right thing to get rid of Mrs. Smith. I hope nobody ever inappropriately rips your children the way you have attacked Mr. Fenley's son. If you are suppose to be a character witness for Mrs. Smith, I understand why 99% of the parents I have spoken to are glad that she is no longer at MVH.

Posted by Parent MVHS
a resident of Blackhawk
on Nov 16, 2009 at 9:55 pm

Dear Parent, I think if you read most of the blogs you will see that most are ugly and rude including Mr. Fenleys! While some may seem like it is personal...aren't most of these blogs? Check out many of the kids in this area their halos are a bit crooked. While my children are not perfect, believe me I am aware of what they are doing and keep on top of it. Do your homework, check out what goes on, you may be VERY surprised. Want to be thugs need to go elsewhere, or go to the streets where they will be taught a true lesson.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Nov 16, 2009 at 10:02 pm

Instead of ugly blogs...get a life help the needy. Mrs. Smith is gone from MVHS, move on and drop the issue...let the kids learn and be happy, not worry about the garbage of the streets.

Posted by MVHS Parent and Active Volunteer
a resident of Danville
on Nov 17, 2009 at 1:58 pm

I am glad a dialogue has continued here and I hope that everyone can share their perspectives and be heard. We don't have to agree with one another but I think it is important to get some of the issues on the table.
We lost two extremely competent and dedicated Assistant Principals last year - yes they made the choice to leave - they were focused on the kids and their success. Brady and Glimme were trying to make a difference while Becky was an absentee leader focused on the school image.
On a personal level,I did pull my kid out of MV after many pleas for help to get the drug dealers off the campus. She knows who they are and has heard it from their classmates and others but ignores this very serious issue.

Has anyone heard about SOXs regulations? Funds that are designated for a specific use in any public organization can not be used for any other purpose without approval of the governing body. Any actions outside of these guidelines are illegal and not only would someone be fired but face legal repercussions. So, the $100,00 that was misused under Becky's leadership would be enough reason to walk anyone out the door of any organization. Holding a gun to someone's head whether the gun is real or not is unacceptable behavior for anyone, especially someone in a position as a high school principal. Again, this would be cause for termination.

The School Board has taken Becky's recent actions very seriously and made the right decision. Now the focus should be on what kind of Leadership does Monte Vista need for the future? It is time to get someone who has a vision and the skills to bring the school forward during a period of change and challenge. Even if Becky hadn't been termiated, it is time to get the right leadership to ensure Monte Vista continues to be a top notch school. I hope the search has begun. Maybe we could bring back one of our past Vice Principals and give them a chance. Both have very impressive backgrounds and proven track records and have established relationships in the district.

One last comment - most employees who have either misused funds or held a gun to someones head don't have the opportunity to keep their jobs. That just isn't right.

Posted by A. Teacher
a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Nov 17, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Just a suggestion --- there was an assistant principal here at MVHS not too long ago, maybe 5 years back, named Alex Harp. He was here for only a couple of years, and last I heard was/is principal at the continuation high school in San Leandro. He was well-liked and very respected...would make a great principal at MV, I think.

Posted by Rufous
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Hopefully the new principal will have a better haircut.

Posted by Angela
a resident of Danville
on Nov 18, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Becky Smith is awesome. MVHS students are spoiled rotten and she knows exactly how to manage snot nosed brats and we should all be thankful for her hard work. She's the best principal MVHS has had in over 20 years.

Posted by Diane
a resident of Danville
on Nov 19, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Angela - please, with that attitude, tell me you are not a parent. It's easy to call kids names when you haven't had to teach them why it is so wrong (and why adults will stoop to such antics, though I find that one tough to explain).

I'm interested in this forum - it seems Ms. Smith has many that disagree with your stance. My daughter (unspoiled...) didn't have a bad experience at MVHS or with Ms. Smith directly - though she didn't see her other than at awards ceremonies where people tend to be in good moods.

However - the comments here are troubling at least and I would find it difficult to believe that an exemplary principal would be removed from their post without reason.

Posted by A concerned citizen
a resident of Danville
on Nov 19, 2009 at 4:23 pm

Auntie J, since when should the students be paying for carpets, computers, etc for the school? I didn't konw that that was part of their responsibility. Wasn't the money transferred out of their account and into one that Ms. Smith then controlled? Seems like you know more than anyone, is that how it happened?

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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