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Mt. Diablo school board to appoint more administrators, vote on sports banners

By Theresa Harrington
Sunday, June 27th, 2010 at 9:15 pm in Concord, Education, Martinez, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington, Walnut Creek.

By Theresa Harrington
At a special board meeting Thursday, the Mt. Diablo school board expects to appoint more site administrators and to approve a banner policy that would help raise money for after-school sports.
In addition, Superintendent Steven Lawrence is seeking authorization to make administrative appointments during the summer, when the board is on its break. These appointments would be officially approved by trustees in August.
It is impossible to know which administrators will be appointed by looking at the board agenda. It merely states that “interviews have been conducted and candidates have been selected to fill school site administrator positions.”
At the June 22 meeting, the board made the following school site administrator appointments:
Ayers Elementary, Concord: Spoogmai Habibi (former curriculum specialist)
Hidden Valley Elementary, Martinez: Sandy Bruketta (former curriculum specialist)
Mt. Diablo High School, Concord: Kate McClatchy (former administrator at Olympic High in Concord)
Riverview Middle School, Bay Point: Christine Huajardo (promoted from vice principal of Riverview MS)
Valle Verde Elementary, Walnut Creek: Rhys Miller (former program specialist in curriculum and instruction)
Wren Avenue Elementary, Concord: Cynthia Goin (former Strandwood Elem. principal, returning from leave)
Meadow Homes Elementary program specialist, Concord: Diane Sargent (former curriculum specialist)
Mt. Diablo High School vice principal, Concord: Lianne Cisnowski (former Olympic HS teacher)
Northgate High School vice principal, Walnut Creek: Linda Hayes (promoted from student services coord.)
Olympic Continuation High School administrator, Concord: Cheryl LeBoef (former Mt. Diablo HS principal)
Olympic/Alliance high school vice principal, Concord: Katie Gaines (former Alternative Education director)
Riverview Middle School vice principal, Concord: Ean Ainsworth (already vice principal at Riverview)
Although the agenda attachment listed 25 positions to be voted on, the board didn’t vote on these two principal positions, which Superintendent Steven Lawrence announced during his June 15 report:
Bel Air Elementary, Bay Point: Nancy Klinkner (former principal at Highlands Elementary in Concord)
Delta View Elementary, Bay Point: Nancy Baum (former principal at Ayers Elementary in Concord)
The board also didn’t vote June 22 on the administrative positions listed below, even though they were in the agenda attachment. The board approved these appointments May 11 and June 15:
Assistant superintendent of personnel services: Julie Braun Martin (former personnel director)
Director of Personnel: Melinda Hall (former director of Curriculum and Instruction)
Assistant Superintendent, Student Achievement, Support: Rose Lock (former assist. supt. for elem. education)
Director, Elementary Support: Susan Petersen (former principal of Delta View Elementary)
Director, Seconday Support: Denise Rugani (former principal of Riverview Elementary)
Assistant Director of Categoricals and School Support: Jennifer Sachs (former assist. dir. of Curriculum & Instruction)
Principal Coach and school support: Patt Hoellwarth (former principal of Monte Gardens Elementary)
Principal Coach and school support: Lorie O’Brien (former principal of Hidden Valley Elementary)
Principal Coach and school support: Hellena Postrk (former principal of Sequoia Middle School)
Principal Coach and school support: Susan Hukkanen (former Curriculum and Instruction administrator)
Administrator, English learners, Student Support: Carmen Graces (former Curriculum and Instruction administrator)
Lawrence said June 22 that he anticipated the need for special board meetings to fill other positions. But at the July 1 meeting, he will ask to make these appointments without calling special board meetings.
“In order to assure there is adequate staffing for the opening of school, the superintendent requests authority to appoint candidates to positions, including administrative positions, during the summer months when there are no board meetings,” the staff report states. “Any such appointments will be brought to the board in August.”
Based on moves or announcements that have already been made, here are other openings I anticipate:
Highlands Elementary Principal, Concord:
Monte Gardens Elementary Principal, Concord:
Mt. Diablo Elementary, Clayton:
Northgate High School student services coordinator, Walnut Creek:
Riverview Middle School vice principal, Bay Point:
Sequioa Middle School Principal, Pleasant Hill:
Shore Acres Elementary Principal, Bay Point:
Two Mt. Diablo High School teachers voiced concerns June 22 about the administrative shuffle taking place during the summer, saying their staff was given no notice of the changes. Do you think trustees should allow Lawrence to make appointments during the summer, without notifying the public until August?

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36 Responses to “Mt. Diablo school board to appoint more administrators, vote on sports banners”

  1. Anne Says:

    I’ve noticed that Silverwood never seems to be included in the list of schools needing a principal. Ours retired and we’re hoping for a new principal in place to make plans for the upcoming year. Has anyone heard anything about us?

  2. MDUSD Parent Says:

    Theresa said … #MDUSD is rated as one of the best in the state according to Zip Realty. Do you agree?

    If you go to that link, it incorrectly lists several Danville schools as being located in Clayton (Monte Vista HS, California HS, Charlotte Wood MS, Windemere MS, Alamo Elem, etc. so perhaps the Zip Realty site is using those schools’ API scores and incorrectly linking them to Clayton?

  3. tharrington Says:

    Yes, I spoke to retiring Silverwood Principal Sandra Rogers-Hare today. She said interviews are going on, including a parent, classified staff and parent rep.
    “The district is trying very hard to select the right person for each school,” she said. “There are so many (position) shifts. I am personally comfortable because I want the right person at Silverwood…I think we’re going to get a good person, because they’re not rushing around and trying to hire somebody (right away.)”

  4. tharrington Says:

    6 p.m. meeting at Mt. Diablo Elementary to discuss principal replacement:

  5. Tired Parent Says:

    Why doesn’t the board list the positions they’re going to fill? For a group who promised to keep the voters informed, there is precious little communication going on.

    As it says on the agenda, “Items listed under Consent Agenda are considered routine and will be approved/adopted by a single motion. There will be no separate discussion of these items; however, any item may be removed from the consent agenda upon the request of any member of the Board and acted upon separately.”

    The board doesn’t have to discuss it, they don’t have to tell you what they did, they don’t have to justify their actions at all. They can appoint anyone they want into any administrative position and it’s a done deal.

    Does anyone else think this is wrong?

  6. tharrington Says:

    Julie Braun-Martin, the newly appointed assistant superintendent for personnel, has assured me there willl be an announcement about who is filling which position. However, trustee Dick Allen said he is also wondering why this is on the consent calendar and why the positions to be filled are not listed on the agenda, as they have always been in the past.

  7. tharrington Says:

    Also, although the agenda doesn’t say so, the public is allowed to request an item to be removed from the consent calendar to be publicly discussed, if he or she wishes to comment on that item.

  8. Doctor J Says:

    The Board’s lack of transparency is cloak and daggar –they are hiring outside of the district and don’t want people to know it. Why would a principal from Elk Grove want a lateral transfer to MDUSD ?

  9. tharrington Says:

    It’s a promotion for Christopher Nugent, from Elk Grove. He was a vice principal there.
    Here are the appointments made Thursday:
    Diablo Community Day School in Concord: Linda Pete (former vice principal at Ygnacio Valley High in Concord)
    Highlands Elementary in Concord: Vicki Eversole (a program specialist and former principal and vice principal of Meadow Homes Elementary in Concord)
    Mt. Diablo Elementary: Christopher Nugent (vice principal at Joseph Sims Elementary School in Oak Grove)
    Vice Principal:
    Olympic High and Alliance Special Education program in Concord: Rachelle Buckner (former counselor at Mary Bird Community Day School in the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District)
    Districtwide Special Education Program Specialist:
    Danielle Beecham (former resource specialist at Lou Dantzler Preparatory Charter High School in Los Angeles)

  10. Marion Says:

    SIlverwood is not included in the list of Principal positions to be filled. Our Dr. Rogers-Hare retired and we are dying to find out who it could be.
    no word about The School Closure Committee Member appointment which was supposed to happen June 15.

  11. tharrington Says:

    Yes, in my comments above, I noted that Silverwood is also due to receive a new principal. Julie Braun Martin said several administrators still need to be appointed, including principals at Monte Gardens and Silverwood elementary schools. As far as I know, no one has yet been appointed to Shore Acres Elementary either.
    I’ll do a new blog update later today listing appointments made to date, along with openings I know about.
    Regarding the School Closure Committee, you are correct that the 24 site representatives were supposed to have been selected by June 15. I’ve left messages with Pete Pedersen and the superintendent to find out whether the committee has been formed yet. According to Pedersen’s timeline, the committee won’t begin its evaluations until September.

  12. Doctor J Says:

    Not to parse the words too closely, but wasn’t it announced that Nugent was a “co-principal” in Elk Grove ? I still don’t understand how they can have a parent meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss what the needs of the school are, and less than 24 hours later make an appointment of an out of district administrator — unless the decision had already been made and the parents meeting was just bogus. I imagine Nugent will tell Theresa when he was offered the job.

  13. tharrington Says:

    It was announced that Nugent was a “co-administrator” of a large elementary school in Elk Grove. I asked an Elk Grove human resources rep if a vice principal is considered a “co-administrator” and she said, “yes, since the principal is also an administrator.”
    Julie Braun Martin told Mt. Diablo Elementary parents Wednesday that the district conducted “round one eligibility pool” interviews with principal candidates “before we knew you would have an opening.” She said their principal would be named by July or early August and that parents would likely be informed via e-mail.
    After the June 30 meeting, Braun Martin told me the opening came about because “we are looking at possibly moving principals around.”

  14. Concerned for our Kids Says:

    The blog on has uncovered a not-so-pretty past with the newly appointed Mt. Diablo Elementary Principal, Dr. Christopher Nugent. Do your own internet search and up pops all kinds of information on the reason he had to “resign” from Williamson County school district in Tennessee.

    Is this the type of person we want as our children’s administrator?

  15. Linda Says:

    Co-administrators, science clusters, instructional technology, so many new terms.

  16. Nobody Says:

    Theresa, are you following this now … Nugent mugshot online? DUI? Federal privacy issues w/ student data? What the heck is this district thinking??????? Do they not have background checks on these people before announcing them to the public? I am outraged, and the entire MDE and Clayton community should be too.

  17. tharrington Says:

    I was at the board meeting and agree that newly appointed Mt. Diablo Elementary Principal Christopher Nugent resembles the man named Christopher Nugent alleged to have violated the law while working for the Williamson County School District in Tennessee as an assessment specialist in 2007-08. Here is a link regarding that Christopher Nugent’s security breach involving students’ social security numbers:
    At Thursday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Steven Lawrence said Nugent has experience from Tennessee, as well as California. Lawrence said Nugent has worked as an elementary principal, a middle school administrator and was currently a “co-administrator” of a large elementary school in Elk Grove.
    Through Google, I’ve found that Christopher Nugent was a principal at Crockett Elementary in Brentwood, TN; principal at Palm Desert Middle School in CA and vice principal at the Elk Grove school. According to the news link above, the Nugent who committed the security breach was the former principal of Crockett Elementary.
    I will definitely follow up with Mt. Diablo district officials to see if they were aware of this and whether Mt. Diablo Elementary’s new principal is the same man.
    Trustee Dick Allen complained that he wasn’t given the names of the candidates early enough to be able to check their references himself and he asked Lawrence to provide names sooner in the future, before asking for board approval.

  18. Nobody Says:

    Certainly makes Lawrence look like a bumbling idiot and I am so very glad Mr. Eberhart told him that they were not going to approve him providing approval without the board. He (Lawrence) sure proved the reasons why this week! That and personnel Braun-Martin.. isn’t this about her first hire under her watch? And look where this got us. What complete morons in that district office. Do they not own a computer with google?? The board must be mortified though I do not believe they knew, I think they learned this week why they can’t rely on the Superintendent to make good decisions. It is also more of the same with the Sup’s general lack of communication.

  19. tharrington Says:

    These are the first appointments made under Braun-Martin as assistant superintendent for personnel. That promotion became effective July 1. She and the superintendent met with Mt. Diablo Elementary parents on Wednesday.
    Gail Isserman, former assistant superintendent for personnel, retired June 30. Melinda Hall is the new personnel director, filling Braun-Martin’s previous position.
    As noted in my “principal and administrator playbill” blog post, the personnel director’s salary increased $5,989 effective July 1, as part of the five raises approved by the board majority last November. That position’s former salary range was $86,559-$105,217. Now it’s $90,722-$110,262.
    This is because there used to be two personnel directors: one for classified staff and one for certificated staff. Now, one personnel director is responsible for both.

  20. Doctor J Says:

    Nugent’s appointment ? It was suspicious from the get go — why would someone leave Elk Grove for MDUSD ? Lawrence has now proved byond a shadow of a doubt his incompetence. And how much did GE have to do with this ? He failed to deny he forced out the former principal. You got to start wondering how MDUSD became such a Peyton Place. Who is sleeping with who ?

  21. Nobody Says:

    Doctor J… what is your point regarding the former Principal? I liked Dodson. BUT, that school is in crisis from the inside out and has been for a while. It has nothing to do with Gary E. It needed new leadership, it needed some teacher shakeups. It needed a new office manager. At first, “we” thought the district was finally listening and going to make some changes for the better… but now? Anyway, I’m not sure if you have children at MDE.. but don’t talk about anyone pushing out Dodson, he (unfortunately) needed to go in order to get that school back on track… anyone related to the school knew that. So I would appreciate you sticking with what you know, and not going on a Gary E witch hunt.

  22. tharrington Says:

    If trustees had been given candidates’ resumes and the public had been given a more detailed list of candidates’ qualifications — including specific job titles held by Nugent in Tennessee — then we would know now whether the newly appointed Mt. Diablo Elementary principal is the same man who was accused of breaching students’ security in Tennessee.
    Do you think trustees were given enough information about the candidates to make informed decisions regarding their qualifications for the positions to which they appointed them?

  23. Doctor J Says:

    @Nobody– GE may have been part of giving the principal the boot — typical of his behind the scenes micromanaging — and it may have been appropriate, but the haste within which the Board and the Supt acted are without excuse. Putting the appointments on the consent agenda with NO NAMES should have been the first clue. The Board should have objected but they didn’t. Combined with the Supt’s request to be given carte blanche appointments during the summer — at least the Board avoid that one.
    Where were the background checks ?
    Discipline of both the Supt and the Director of Personnel are in order. This kind of mistake is as bad as the DUI itself. And why is no on commenting on the two counts of resisting arrest in fighting with the police TWICE ?
    The haste is because the Supt continues to shoot from the hip — no plan, no purpose. Where was he on Friday ? Let me bet — off on vacation again. The week before and the week after. And a week in March. How much vacation does he get ?

  24. Doctor J Says:

    @Theresa. NO! And they should not have moved forward — they should have postponed the meeting — they knew the agenda ahead of time and should have objected to it ! I do believe the Board thought that the Supt and Director of Personnel had done their job — but they didn’t verify it. The Board is the last line of defense and they let us down. They should hold the Supt and Director of Personnel accountable with severe penalties — no slaps on the writs. They endangered our children.

  25. Nobody Says:

    I agree they should’ve postponed the appointments. Except perhaps for those already vetted (meaning already employees in good standing of our district) . Dick Allen even expressed concern no names were on the agenda. This is starting to sound more and more suspicious. Perhaps the Sup thought that if they appoint someone , no further research would be done by the community. BUt if the name was out there for the several days before, there would’ve been time to find skeletons.

    Theresa, of course not.. of course they were not given enough info. The question is why did they continue. I also have to believe the board, and/or at least Gary E (w/ a vested interest in MDE) would’ve interviewed or met with this Nugent.

    Oh, and also I did not know about fighting or resisting arrest. Can you send a link?

  26. Doctor J Says:

    Let’s remember what happened in mid June when Theresa reported that the list of names posted to the Board Agenda changed on the day of the Board meeting ! Why did the Board permit that ? This is the kind of underhanded bull that the Supt does — wow, just think he asked the Board for “carte blanche” — I do have to commend Gary E. for standing up to say no to that. The Supt has done absolutely nothing in five months to prove his trustworthiness — just the opposite. In fact, to take three weeks of vacations in the first five months — don’t most working people have to work a year before their vacation is earned ? The Supt is just not engaged — he doesn’t really care about the district. Let him go before more damage can be done.

  27. tharrington Says:

    Here is the link to a story regarding the Christopher Nugent who compromised student security in Tennessee also being arrested for DUI and being charged with resisting arrest for fighting officers:
    Mt. Diablo Superintendent Steven Lawrence hasn’t returned my call this weekend, so I haven’t been able to determine whether this is the same man whom trustees appointed Thursday as principal of Mt. Diablo Elementary.

  28. MDUSD Parents Says:

    I just posted an updated on the MDUSD Parents blog that Dr. Nugent has resigned. Thank goodness he didn’t let this get any uglier… .

  29. Doctor J Says:

    How many cover-ups will Lawrence make ? Nugentgate isn’t over ! Who knew what and when did they know it ? What about that crock of a parent meeting on Wednesday ? They had already hired the guys several days before. How much did they pay Nugent to resign ? What was GE’s participation in the hire ? What about Lawrence’s failed request for carte blanche in hires over the summer ? What about Lawrence being so distant in the district ? What about his three vacations in the first five months with a district in crisis ? There are so many questions and the Board will sweep them under the rug. Perhaps its time for a Grand Jury investiation of Nugentgate, Diablogate, Buttercupgate and all the other crap going on in MDUSD. No wonder the unions are holding tight — they have some dirt on someone high up and they are going to leverage it to the max. Who is it ?

  30. Tired Parent Says:

    Unbelievable. I cannot begin to describe my shame at being associated with such ineptitude. What on earth are our elected officials and well-paid administrators thinking?

  31. tharrington Says:

    I have just heard from Pete Pedersen that the school closure committee has not yet been named.
    “For a variety of reasons the process is taking a little longer than first anticipated,” he wrote in an e-mail. “We have been advising the applicants. The membership has not been defined as of yet.”

  32. Doctor J Says:

    Which two of the Supt’s vacations in the last three weeks consitute the “variety of reasons” ?
    Theresa, are you still pursuing the records request ?

  33. tharrington Says:

    Yes, we are still pursuing the records request.
    The district has again refused to disclose the polling results, saying they are “are likely exempt from disclosure because they are writings not maintained by the district in the ordinary course of business and the interest in withholding these documents clearly outweighs the public interest in dislosing them.”
    Regarding the Measure C facilities responses from site administrators, General Counsel Greg Rolen said June 23 he would “review the documents to determine whether they warrant disclosure.” I’m still waiting to see them.
    Unlike Mt. Diablo, the Martinez district recently released its June 2010 voter opinion survey regarding a possible bond measure.
    Do you believe the district’s interest in withholding the poll results “clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosing them?”

  34. Doctor J Says:

    No way — the only interest of the district is to protect those who lied about what it said ! And no Judge will either ! The CCT lawyer has to be licking her chops to get to court against Greg Rolen !

  35. Concerned Parent Says:

    What happened to Mr. Dodson? Does anyone know why he left or was forced out? My kids liked him.

  36. tharrington Says:

    Braun-Martin told me the Mt. Diablo Elementary opening occurred because the district is trying to find the best “matches” for schools. Lock said Dodson is “unassigned” at the moment. It remains to be seen if he’ll be reassigned to another school.

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