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Menlo Park superintendent to become chief innovations officer at Ravenswood

District brings in Maurice Ghysels as opening of new comprehensive middle school nears

Maurice Ghysels, the superintendent of the Menlo Park City School District, will take on a new role as chief innovations officer in the Ravenswood City School District after leaving his current position at the end of this academic year.

Ghysels will provide additional support to Ravenswood Superintendent Gloria Hernandez-Goff as the district launches its first comprehensive middle school in the fall. Currently, Ravenswood's sixth- through eighth-graders are enrolled at six separate sites combined with elementary schools. The inaugural sixth-grade class will comprise of 260 students; the district's goal for middle school enrollment is 900 students across all three grades.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and another anonymous donor are funding Ghysels' position, which will earn an annual salary of $180,000.

Board of Education Vice President Ana Maria Pulido said the board has been looking for someone to fill the innovation position for two years.

"This is an absolutely critical time for Ravenswood," Pulido said. "There's only one of (Hernandez-Goff), and there's so much to do in this district. ... We don't want anything to be missed as we transition into this comprehensive middle school."

Ghysels holds a bachelor's degree in economics from San Jose State University, a master's degree in education from California State University, Hayward (now known as California State University, East Bay), and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of San Francisco. His previous experience includes teaching and startups.

He was superintendent of Mountain View Whisman School District from 2005 to 2010 and left after he disclosed to its school board that he and the principal of one of the district's elementary schools were involved in an extramarital affair. In 2011, he became superintendent of the Menlo Park City School District.

In announcing last fall his planned departure from Menlo Park, he told The Almanac, "I like to create, build, startup and get things in place to where they can sustain, and then go on to the next adventure."

Hernandez-Goff said she and Ghysels have collaborated on projects in the past and that Ghysels suggested working together after he leaves the Menlo Park district. Though his priorities will lie with overseeing the development of the new middle school, he will also provide assistance to Hernandez-Goff in communications plans and other areas of need in the district.

Ghysels said he is "highly motivated to join the team" and will focus on building relationships with teachers, identifying talent and constructing "sustainable systems" of academic enrichment such as performing arts, fine arts, sports and social-emotional programs that will "connect middle school children to school."

"In all of this, it is about students," he said. "It's about parents making choices, and it's about Ravenswood being the go-to district. ... We need to attract and retain teachers (and) students, and I think that the vehicle of the comprehensive middle school is the way to do that."

Ravenswood's students typically graduate to Sequoia Union High School District. In recent years, however, the high school dropout rate for Ravenswood students has reached "a little more than 40 percent," according to Pulido. Ravenswood, said Hernandez-Goff, has the lowest percentage of students who graduate high school and the lowest percentage of students who complete the A-G course requirements for admission to the University of California compared to other districts whose students enter Sequoia Union.

The board and administration hope that the comprehensive middle school will help students bridge the achievement gap and "give kids the confidence to know that they can be successful sitting right next to someone who went to (a more competitive) district," board President Sharifa Wilson said.

The new middle school will "group students according to their academic needs," Hernandez-Goff said, such as providing an honors English lane and support for English language learners in addition to regular English. Students will also have daily access to algebra courses, something that has only been available on Saturdays in the past because eligible students were not concentrated on one campus.

The district is asking its teachers for voluntary transfers to the middle school and, for those without single-subject teaching credentials, will provide some aid with their education.

At the end of the next school year, the board and funders will evaluate Ghysels' progress and make a decision about extending his position for another year, officials said. The district does not anticipate maintaining the position past two years.


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8 people like this
Posted by Hiring in Times of Layoffs?
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 18, 2017 at 1:04 pm

What? Gloria Hernandez will hire someone when she claims that she has to lay off a lot of employees? This might be a joke. If I was Maurice Ghysels I would not give my notice to the current employer. It is not a deal yet? The community will speak up!

10 people like this
Posted by Flabbergasted
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 18, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Where do you get your facts to write these stories? This district has had a comprehensive middle school for years. They pretend that they don't have a middle school, and that this is the problem with their success. They act like this is some big miracle that will change things. Nonsense! If you have followed Ravenswood City Schools, you know they have had two middles schools for many many years. The rest of the schools are K-8 or K-6. This is one more lie to add to the long list of lies from Gloria Hernandez-Goff to cover her failing behind.

13 people like this
Posted by Hiring in Times of Layoffs?
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 18, 2017 at 4:47 pm

You are so right on. I see that the same two board members who are very good friends to the principals are the ones who always agree to whatever Ms. Hernandez says. These issue has nothing been presented to the rest of the board members. At least not for the last two meetings, so they have not vote on it. If they really need to hire someone, can we do better? and and not hire someone who:
Was superintendent of Mountain View Whisman School District from 2005 to 2010 and left after he disclosed to its school board that he and the principal of Landel's Elementary schools were involved in an extramarital affair. The fact that he did this while being a superintendent does not speak well of him. No wonder he does not last in his jobs. If he cannot keep his pants on, he should go work somewhere else. (Thanks Palo Alto on Line for not hiding this fact), so we can make better choices. Also It does not make sense why would someone go and make less money. Perhaps there he has not done a great job as a sulper in Menlo Park, and he needed to find something soon.
Again this one of the hiring tactis of Ms. Hernandez, she probably owes him favors. The qustion is what kind of favors? I guess we shall be happy that she is hot hiring his son, the ones who flirts a lot with the young teachers. I guess Mr. Maurice Ghysels will become good friends with Gloria's son, or may be they already are.
Also Ms. Hernandez needs a helper because instead of focusing at her job responsibilities, she tries to get into things that are not her bussiness such as: there was a group of volunteers who used to managed the food bank, but she made her way into and kicked them out because she wants to be in control, so people say "she is so good she feeds the poor! But really what she is getting distracted from her real responsibilities. No Ana, we do not need to Ms. Hernandez, we need her to leave as soon as possible.
IF Facebook and other organizations like the Perry Foundation is donating the money it shall go to help all students to improve their education, and not to find another position. This is the wrong thing to do. Who is going to stop Gloria and these two board members, by the way there is also an article on Mercury news and the same board members who have gotten favors from Ms. Hernandez are her supporters.
Here is the link:
Web Link
Time to speak up parents, teachers and community members. We need to take back our school district.

Gloria and the school board members who support her need to go.

14 people like this
Posted by He's a con man
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2017 at 8:07 pm

He was untrustworthy in Campbell, a cheater in MV Whisman, and unrespected in Menlo Park. And he no innovator. This is not a good hire.

10 people like this
Posted by A Concern Resident
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 18, 2017 at 11:49 pm

It is so wrong to hire another employee who will make this much money, when the district claims that they had to layoff employees because there will not be that many students next school year due to the new charter school KIPP. I am wonder how many teachers could they hire with this salary, or how many employees who have giving the notice of layoff could be saved.
Gloria and the board members do not get that is that parents are will keep sending their students out because the quality of education they get is a really bad one, and things will not improve by hiring a new administrator, especially this one with a past like this person has.
They do have middle schools but they do not serve students well. The distric is in nee dof new administrators, superintendent and some new boar members who are not afrait to say no to Ms. Hernandez when she comes with crazy ideas like this one. I guess, after all they are not that short of money if they can afford to hire this awful person who will be making a lot of money. I am wonder how many teachers could they hire with this salary, or how many employees who have giving the notice of layoff could be saved.

10 people like this
Posted by Why this guy
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 19, 2017 at 7:51 am

What the heck is Gloria thinking? This is the worst guy for the job, I guess they are alike. Why do our Ravenswood School District has to pick up the trash.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 19, 2017 at 10:31 am

[Post removed.]

1 person likes this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 19, 2017 at 11:38 am

The students in our district deserve better than this guy. My dog will work for less and is highly innovative, so why not hire him? He's also loyal, hardworking and won't attract as much controversy.

Like this comment
Posted by A Concern Resident
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 20, 2017 at 2:20 pm

Here is more about Mr. Maurice Ghysels. This is about the kind of work he is doing in his current job Menlo Park School district. No wonder they do not longer want him there, but why do we have to hire him, when it is obviours that he is not hte right person for the job. Just because he is a friend of Ms. Hernandez, does not qualifies him for hte job.

Like this comment
Posted by A Concern Parent
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 20, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Hre goes again, hope it links to the article

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Advocate for Student Success
a resident of Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on May 25, 2017 at 12:41 pm

Why are board members and funders the only ones slated to review Ghysels' efficacy in one year? neither of those bodies will have a day-to-day understanding of his actions towards or away from stated goals. The teachers and the staff should have a report back/ evaluative function in there too. Disenfranchising the employees is why the RCSD is suffering in relations between employees and administrators as it is. I expect Facebook and the board to step in and move to include the employee stakeholders in assessing Ghysels' effectiveness. We should never forget that teachers' and Staff's teaching/working environment is our children's LEARNING environment.

Like this comment
Posted by Hiring in Times of Layoffs?
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 25, 2017 at 5:06 pm

Correction, the superintendent will be the one evaluating and based on Ms. Hernandez' positive recommendations the board will agree to extend the contract, and as usual teachers will be left out.

4 people like this
Posted by X MPCSD Employee
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 21, 2017 at 5:45 pm

It is my opinion the Maurice will add no value to your schools much less the take away of his insane salery. Most Administrators are hired by their track record. You need to look no further than his past. At MPCSD we had Administrative meeting and for the most part he showed us videos and commercials to inspire us. When he was asked for help and use of his judgement as Superintendent he would tell us to go figure it out on your own. "That not my job" he lacks content and wanted to team build by having weekly drunk parties at local bars on Fridays. We were in the Education business and his behavior did not show he was any kind of leader.

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