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Mt. Diablo district principal and administrator playbill

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, July 2nd, 2010 at 4:18 pm in Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Uncategorized, Walnut Creek.

By Theresa Harrington

The cast of characters at Mt. Diablo district schools is changing over the summer, leaving some parents wondering who will greet their children when they return to campuses next month.

Here’s a rundown of recently approved or announced staff changes by school:

Ayers Elementary, Concord: Principal Spoogmai Habibi (former curriculum specialist)
Bel Air Elementary, Bay Point: Principal Nancy Klinkner (former Highlands Elem. principal)
Delta View Elementary, Bay Point: Principal Nancy Baum (former Ayers Elementary principal)
Hidden Valley Elementary, Martinez: Principal Sandy Bruketta (former curriculum specialist)
Highlands Elementary in Concord: Vicki Eversole (a program specialist and former principal and vice principal of Meadow Homes Elementary in Concord)
Meadow Homes Elementary, Concord: Program specialist: Diane Sargent (former curriculum specialist)
Mt. Diablo Elementary: Christopher Nugent (former vice principal at Joseph Sims Elementary School in Elk Grove)
Valle Verde Elementary, Walnut Creek: Principal Rhys Miller (former curriculum specialist)
Wren Avenue Elementary, Concord: Principal Cynthia Goin (former Strandwood Elem. principal, returning from leave)

Riverview Middle School, Bay Point: Principal Christine Huajardo (promoted from vice principal); Vice principal Ean Ainsworth (promoted from student services coordinator)

Diablo Community Day School in Concord: Linda Pete (former vice principal at Ygnacio Valley High in Concord)
Mt. Diablo High School, Concord: Principal Kate McClatchy (former administrator of Olympic High School); Vice principal: Lianne Cisnowski (former Olympic High teacher)
Northgate High School, Walnut Creek: Vice principal Linda Hayes (promoted from student services coordinator)
Olympic Continuation High School/Alliance special ed., Concord: Administrator Cheryl LeBoef (former Mt. Diablo HS principal); Vice principal Katie Gaines (former Alternative Education director); Vice principal Rachelle Buckner (former counselor at Mary Bird Community Day School in the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District)

Here’s a list of changes at the district office:
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 Delta View Elem. principal)
Director, Seconday Support: Denise Rugani (former Riverview MS principal)
Assistant Director of Categoricals and School Support: Jennifer Sachs (former assist. dir. of Curriculum & Instruction)
Principal Coach and school support: Patt Hoellwarth (former Monte Gardens Elem. principal)
Principal Coach and school support: Lorie O’Brien (former Hidden Valley Elem. principal)
Principal Coach and school support: Hellena Postrk (former Sequoia MS principal)
Principal Coach and school support: Susan Hukkanen (former Curriculum and Instruction administrator)
Administrator, English learners, Student Support: Carmen Graces (former Curriculum and Instruction administrator)
Special Education Program Specialist: Danielle Beecham (former resource specialist at Lou Dantzler Preparatory Charter High School in Los Angeles)

Braun-Martin told me the district still intends to fill principal positions at the following schools:
Glenbrook Middle School in Concord to replace Jonathan Eagan
Monte Gardens Elementary in Concord to fill Hoellwarth’s position
Sequoia Middle School in Pleasant Hill to fill Postrk’s position
Silverwood Elementary in Concord to replace retiring Principal Sandra Rogers-Hare

However, Shore Acres Elementary Principal Kari Rees told me she would be replaced as part of that school’s reform plan for low-achieving campuses.

Braun-Martin also anticipates filling the following other administrative positions, based on promotions and retirements:
Director of Student Services (to replace retiring Margot Tobias)
Northgate High School Student Services Coordinator (to fill Hayes’ position)
Riverview Middle School Student Services Coordinator (to fill Ainsworth’s position)
Ygnacio Valley High School Vice Principal (to fill Pete’s position)
Four districtwide special education program specialists

Superintendent Steven Lawrence asked trustees to grant him the authority to make the above appointments during the board’s summer break in July. But trustees said they want to maintain oversight of these decisions and asked him to call special board meetings to approve the appointments.

Although the district is facing major budget cuts that Lawrence has warned could lead to a state takeover if they aren’t accomplished, five administrative promotions and raises went into effect July 1, based on a split board decision made Nov. 17, before Lawrence arrived. Trustees Dick Allen and Linda Mayo voted against the restructuring plan, which included raises totaling $55,029.

Here is the rationale for the decision, according to the staff report:
“Recognizing the impact of both the recently eliminated as well as the approved, prospective elimination of a position in the Superintendent’s Council it is essential that a restructuring of organizational relationships and a consolidation of tasks be defined and implemented to insure continuity in leadership and the delivery of critical services. Although the reorganization will not be effective until July 1, 2010, the plan needs to be considered earlier to allow adequate time for implementation.”

Here are the changes, effective yesterday:
General Counsel (Greg Rolen): Increase salary by $27,998 to $190,000 including education and longevity

Director Budget & Fiscal Svcs (Bryan Richards): Reclassify as Chief Financial Officer and increase salary by $8,114 to $140,000

Director Certificated Personnel (changed June 22 to Director of Personnel Services, Melinda Hall): Increase salary range by $5,989 from range 29 to 32 (range 29 is $86,559-$105,217; range 32 is $90,722-$110,262)

Facilities & Ops Project Mgr (changed June 22 to Director of Facilities, Operations and Resource Conservation, Jeff McDaniel): Increase by $11,136 from range 12 to 25 (range 12 is $72,803-$98,702; range 25 increase is approximately $83,939-$109,838).

Admin Secty To Supt Conf (Loreen Joseph): Increase by $1,792 from range of 536 to 576 (range 536 is $21.31-$25.90 per hour; range 576 is $24.07-$29.26 per hour).

At the Nov. 17 meeting, trustees also agreed to reclassify the Associate Superintendent position held by Alan Young to Assistant Superintendent, reducing the salary by $14,913 to $141,000. This position was later eliminated and Young retired last month.

The full range of salaries paid to district employees is on the district’s website.

Some union members have decried the raises, in light of the cuts they are being asked to take at the bargaining table. One high school registrar said the general counsel’s raise would pay for a clerical worker’s salary. At the time, Interim Superintendent Dick Nicoll told me he generated all of the recommendations for salary increases except the general counsel’s. That request came from the board, as noted in his memo (attachment) to trustees.

Richards said in his June 22 budget report that the district might need to lay off more employees or reduce their hours, if unions don’t agree to furlough days and benefits cuts. In addition, the district could increase class sizes for teachers and consolidate some part-time positions into full-time jobs.

The layoffs would include about 19 maintenance and operations workers. The cuts in hours would include: 29 elementary secretaries and 16 middle and high school secretary’s hours reduced by half to 3.5 per day; and approximately 100 California School Employees Association workers hours reduced to 3.5 hours a day or less, plus the creation of new 3.5 hour positions as needed.

Management has already agreed to three or four furlough days in 2009-10, plus seven to nine furlough days in 2010-11; a cap on health benefits at 2010 Kaiser rates; a reduction of post-retirement health coverage from two-party to employee only for new retirees effective July 1, 2011; and no vacation payoffs beyond carryover limits effective July 1, 2010 (use it or lose it).

Do you agree with the new administrative appointments? What is your reaction to the board’s budget dilemma?

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10 Responses to “Mt. Diablo district principal and administrator playbill”

  1. P C Says:

    I don’t know if you read, but if you do you have read the reaction to the new principal for Mt. Diablo Elementary. People have googles him and he has quite a history that should be looked into. I as a parent and teacher am very concerned with this. I’m upset that the district did not vet this guy. What is upsetting is that the issues he has had directly relate to his job in many ways. Also I’m not sure he was at his old position for very ling in Elk Grove, Ca. I think this needs some looking into.

  2. tharrington Says:

    Yes, I am aware of the allegations. I just spoke to trustee Dick Allen and he said he found out about the allegations when someone e-mailed him a message about the blog. He said he wasn’t provided the names of the candidates or their resumes before the board meeting, so he doesn’t know if Nugent is the same man. He plans to follow up with the superintendent and Braun-Martin on Tuesday.
    Allen said he is wondering what kind of background checks are done on candidates. In the future, he wants to receive resumes well ahead of board meetings, so he can research candidates himself, he said.
    Here’s what I posted yesterday, in response to another question regarding this:
    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.

  3. tharrington Says:

    I’ve left messages with the superintendent, Gary Eberhart, Paul Strange and Linda Mayo regarding this.
    I spoke to trustee Sherry Whitmarsh and she said she’s on vacation and hasn’t been reading the blogs.
    Like Allen, she said she didn’t receive the names of the candidates until the meeting. She didn’t receive their resumes either.
    In the future, Whitmarsh said she would like to receive candidates’ resumes ahead of time, so she could read over their qualifications before appointing them.
    How much oversight do you think the board should have over principal and other administrative appointments?

  4. Doctor J Says:

    Did they really pay Nugent to resign ? I sure hope not. But nothing would surprise me now.

  5. Peg Powell Says:

    Why did you think they paid him to resign? Have you heard something else? I haven’t seen anything official on the resignation yet?

  6. tharrington Says:

    I have been told that an official statement regarding this issue will be released soon.
    After I receive it, I’ll update my story, which is online now at

  7. Realia Says:

    Am I the only one noticing that many of the “new hires” by the district are simply district personnel whose positions or departments were cut? Some are baffling, like Melinda Hall, who has exactly what for qualifications to head Personnel? The district protects its own – as long as they are administrators and not teachers.

  8. Doctor J Says:

    I suspect they may have paid Nugent to “withdraw” his application — MDUSD lawyer was involved and all lawyers want a waiver of claims, which needs money to be paid. They will attempt to hide it as a personnel matter, but I think there is a reasonably good chance that happened. I also bet they put in a confidentiality clause so no one will talk about it.

  9. Fernando Alonso Says:

    I don’t know if you read, but if you do you have read the reaction to the new principal for Mt. Diablo Elementary. People have googles him and he has quite a history that should be looked into. I as a parent and teacher am very concerned with this. I’m upset that the district did not vet this guy. What is upsetting is that the issues he has had directly relate to his job in many ways. Also I’m not sure he was at his old position for very ling in Elk Grove, Ca. I think this needs some looking into.

  10. tharrington Says:

    Are you referring to Christopher Nugent? He withdrew his name, as mentioned in above posts.
    The new principal is Irene Keenan:

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