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Clayton Valley charter organizers dispute district’s financials, board appoints new principal

By Theresa Harrington
Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 at 12:57 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington.

I received this statement from the Clayton Valley High School Charter Conversion Steering Committee this morning, in response to the district’s recent memo to the community regarding charter schools.

It is based on discussions with their consultants from the California Charter School Association (CCSA) and ExEd, who spoke to officials at the California Department of Education.

“We appreciate Mt. Diablo USD’s recent efforts to respond to the community’s questions concerning the CVHS conversion. However, the District’s statement about passing on additional funds is based on legislation that since January 1, 2010 is no longer in effect. Recently legislation (SB 191) was passed with the intent to ensure that unified school districts would not be hurt by their conversion high schools. While some confusion remains, this legislation was enacted to ensure that the conversion school will receive revenue limit funding from the state as would any new charter school — based on its student ADA. We are in the process of confirming this with the California Department of Education and should be able to provide more detail soon.

It is important to note that the conversion would not open until late summer of 2012. While the district will lose funds that follow student ADA, it will no longer carry the costs of operating the school. The conversion will allow the school to focus resources directly on the students it serves and contrary to district assertions, should not negatively impact other programs.”


Organizers plan to update information about the charter on Facebook and at

In addition, they will hold an informational meeting tomorrow at 3:15 in the school’s Small Gym, aimed at helping students understand the charter process. However, all parents and community members are invited.

In other school news, Mt. Diablo trustees voted 4-1 to approve Sue Brothers as the new principal. Trustee Cheryl Hansen voted against the appointment.

Brothers was Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services in the Washington Unified School District, under Lawrence, before the Mt. Diablo school board hired him away.

Julie Braun-Martin, assistant superintendent for personnel services, highly praised Brothers.

“Her background is rich with education experiences,” Braun-Martin said.

Brothers has a bachelor’s degree in animal science from UC Davis and a master’s degree in education. She has experience as a preschool director, science teacher, assistant principal and assistant superintendent for curriculum, Braun-Martin said.

When asked during employment interviews why she wanted to move from being a top level district office administrator to a principal, Brothers said she wanted to make a difference for kids, Braun-Martin told the board.

After her appointment, Brothers said she loves working on high school campuses.

“I’m really looking forward to getting to know the community,” she said, adding that she loves working with teenagers. “I think they’re wonderful and I’m really looking forward to working with them.”

After the meeting, I asked Hansen why she voted against Brothers’ appointment. (She voted with the rest of the board to approve Paul Gengler as Principal of College Park High in Pleasant Hill.)

Hansen, who lives in Clayton, said she did not view Brothers’ experience with Lawrence in West Sacramento as a “plus.”

“I think we’re at a very critical time, where we need someone with more recent (school) site experience,” Hansen said. “I would also like to see somebody a little more local, who is in the community. It’s absolutely going to be critical to have good relationship-building skills. It’s not a bland community.”

Still, Hansen appears ready to support the board’s appointment of Brothers.

“I hope she does well,” Hansen said.

Do you support the school board’s appointment?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

23 Responses to “Clayton Valley charter organizers dispute district’s financials, board appoints new principal”

  1. Doctor J Says:

    Sue Brothers has not worked “on campus” for decades. She has been a district administrator in West Sac and previously in Roseville, and in both locations worked with King Lawrence. At age 54, why would she take a huge pay cut in the STRS retirement system ? She left a job paying at least $150,000 a year in West Sac, while living in Roseville, to take a job in Clayton making about $103,000 a year, and entering a housing market where homes cost twice as much. There is more to this story. I am sure it will come out as time unfolds.

  2. Billy Bob Says:

    So the three newest will become:

    1. PoseidonGate
    2. RetributionGate
    3. We can shortly add BrothersGate

  3. Doctor J Says:

    When do the Board members find out who the recommended candidates are ? I thought after Nugentgate there was to be more transparency and an opportunity for the public and board to vet the candidates before the meeting — hasn’t happened yet. The public is not informed when the agendas are published on Friday afternoon. Its beginning to look like the Board doesn’t find out until “closed session” even though that is not on the agenda. In an unprecedented move, King Lawrence deferred the introduction of the new principals to Asst Supt Julie Braun-Martin, and she gave a rather stilted speech to justify the selection process — which only after Sue Brothers was announced, did it make any sense. Then Trustee Cheryl Hansen, without comment, votes against Brothers. Her above statement makes perfect sense, but where did she get that information that was not shared previously with the public ? Is much more discussed in the closed session than is on the agenda ?

  4. Doctor J Says:

    Funny how they had more than 75 applicants for the two high school principalships that pay apprx. $103/105 k base salary, but only a couple of applicants for the SASS Adminsistrator that pays apprx. $95/100 k. What was so unattractive about being an SASS administrator ?

  5. mdusdmomx4 Says:

    Doctor J – I know quite a few educators that moved up the ranks from teacher, to school administrator to district administrator. Several have moved back down to the Principal level because they missed and love working with students. Money is not always the answer and many of us have that calling to work with students.

    I am asking to stop the name calling, it is not becoming and really shows a grade school mentality. Any information you then write has lost any substance. I have read several posts stating the same thing. Please show respect and adult behavior by using names with adding your sarcastic titles.

  6. mdusdmomx4 Says:

    Whoops-typo errors: Doctor J – I am asking that ‘you’ stop the name calling (also Billy Bob), it is not becoming and really shows a grade school bully mentality. Any information you then write has lost any substance. I have read several posts stating the same thing. Please show respect and adult behavior by using names with”out” adding your sarcastic titles.

  7. anon Says:

    Dr. J,

    Do you care about the truth? You seem very comfortable lying. If you listened to the meeting on Tuesday the district had 37 applicants that entered the process for high school principal. Out of those 37, 4 were selected by the 2 panels. Of those 4, 2 were forwarded to the board for consideration as the principal for college park and clayton valley. Your lying and misinformation is so rampant; the fact that your comments are allowed to exist on this blog is deleterious to legitimacy of the newspaper.

  8. Doctor J Says:

    @anon #7, I understood there were a total of apprx 75 candidates for the two principal positions — am I wrong ? @mdusdmomx4 I have received unconfirmed information that SB was recently relieved of her duties as an Asst Supt in West Sac and that is why she will willing to take a substantial pay cut. I don’t know if that is true, but will see if I can verify that. Also, I received information, again unconfirmed, that she was never a principal, but only a high school Vice-Principal in Roseville for a short time. Again, I don’t know if that information is true, but will attempt to find out the truth. Whatever the truth is, it should be told. I guess you are critical of my calling Lawrence, “King”. You are right — the $92,000 Gold report eviserated his outlook on English learning in MDUSD. he is no longer king.

  9. anon Says:

    Superintendent Lawrence is not a King, he is a Doctor. You see, Dr. J. doesn’t care if it’s fact or fiction because he knows most if not all of those who read the blogs won’t take the time to find out for themselves. He/she just throws mud at the walls to see if any sticks. She/he is not helping students or the district, but that is not the goal, is it Dr. J?

    Dr. Lawrence was not a part of the mdusd when the el programs were designed and implemented, that was done under the direction of Superintendent McHenry. What Dr. Lawrence has done is recognize that there is a significant need in the area of el and he has taken decisive steps to remedy the situation.

  10. anon Says:

    When is the charter group going to release the charter plan for the community to see it? The community needs to have the plan prior to the teachers voting so that the community has input before the vote. Do you realize how insane the public would be if the mdusd board were going to vote to completely change a high school without providing the public ample time to review all documents? Theresa, have you requested the plan? Charter schools are bound by the brown act and public records act requests. We need to see the plan now. What are the carter organizers hiding?

  11. g Says:

    From the Agenda, some facts for Anon: “There were 37 applicants for Clayton Valley High School and 39 applicants for College Park High School.”

    Applications were narrowed to 14 by “paper screening” done by (??). Two panels narrowed the list to 4. We aren’t told if it was 2 and 2 or 3 and 1 or if the panel even knew which school the applicant was seeking.

    Bottom line–Lawrence’s personal team decided who would be appointed, and sent that name to the Board for a vote.

  12. g Says:

    Anon–now who’s pushing false information? The Teachers that are working on the Charter are not subject to the Brown Act. Try something else!

    When it comes to the Board for consideration the Board must make it available prior to voting. Get a grip.

  13. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon #9, The Gold audit was critical of Lawrence’s contradictory insturction to be “english only” and not teach certain subjects. His direction was not well received and heavily criticized in the Gold report. Make no mistake about it.
    I welcome the Gold report even though I was critical of its cost and why it takes an outside person to do it. What was disappointing was that Cheryl Hansen and Lynne Denler demanded taht the report include an “action plan” with timetables and it didn’t. Instead staff is proposing an RFP to spend more money for such a plan.

  14. Billy Bob Says:

    MDUSD Mom X4,

    You seem to say that I’m name calling. I am not name calling I call things the way I see them. If you don’t like it don’t read my posts. But you know in your heart of hearts that I am on to something here. Maybe you would like to suggest alterante names for the following MDUSD scandals:

    1. ChevronGate
    2. ButtercupGate
    3. NugentGate
    4. SolarProjectGate
    5. UCBSolarClassGate
    6. IllegalMariottMeetingGate
    7. SchoolClosureCommitteGate
    8. GangofFiveRaisesGate
    9. PosiedonGate
    10. RetributionGate
    11. SBPrincipalGate

    The list could go on and on. Do you have alternative names for these?

  15. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: Yes, I have requested the plan, but organizers said they don’t want to release it to the public yet, because it is still being finalized.
    The Superintendent’s Memo says, the district “has 30 days to hold a general public hearing on the proposal. The district also has 60 days from the date of receipt of the petition to grant or deny the charter petition.”
    The plan will become a public document as soon as the district receives it. I don’t believe the charter organizers are compelled by the Brown Act to release it before that.
    However, had organizers distributed the plan to the Clayton City Council for its vote on funding, it would have been a public document.

  16. Susan Berg Says:

    Anon #9, You seem to imply that Dr. Lawrence is remedying a situation he inherited from the previous administration. It’s been two and a half years since the district leadership changed. At the time of that change the district had a master plan in place for addressing the needs of English Language Learners. It grew out of a years-long state review (Comite) of MDUSD in this area that began just before McHenry was named Superintendent in 1999. In time, with a new plan and program adjustments in place and improvements being made, the district passed the state review.

    In the past two and a half years this district’s leaders have essentially dismantled the Education Services Department, which had been overseeing the ELL program and all the other curriculum areas. The Board and Superintendent initially eliminated some positions and reassigned many employees. Eventually they replaced “Curriculum and Instruction” with “Student Achievement and School Support,” changing the district philosophy regarding how best to serve the school sites and staff.

    The Board members who assumed the district leadership in 2009 and then hired Dr. Lawrence have set the priorities that have guided MDUSD since then. The credit–or criticism–for how the district is doing belongs to them.

  17. g Says:

    Thanks for the reminder Ms. Berg. A comment from the “Parents” blog back in Nov. may help refresh some thoughts on the subject of SASS:

    “Lawrence is smart enough to count to FIVE. New Trustee Dennler has already expressed opposition to the new Program set up by Lawrence as the Student Achievement Department. Gary expressed his reservations as detailed questions that weren’t supportive of it. Cheryl hasn’t expressed any positive thoughts except that there should be less administration. Sherry gave a less than enthusiastic report on this blog. Surprisingly Linda has not endorsed it. I count 5-0 against this program which Lawrence is betting the farm.
    November 25, 2010 10:33 PM”

    The problem now is; how is SASS being allowed to continue hiring while proof is evident that it is failing the students at the same time? What is the Board doing to keep education dollars first as opposed to Lawrence’s preference for keeping Administration first?


    I may not have been the best fan of McHenry, but I surely do miss keeping up with things via the minutes from the Supervisor’s Monthly Parents Advisory Council, but then — Lawrence just started hitting the “cancel” button as if the Parents were his own Nintendo game?

  18. Billy Bob Says:

    Lawrence must have the goods on the board. Not sure why, but there must be quite a story there.

    They let him lead them around like lost little sheep.

  19. Doctor J Says:

    @Billy Bob, Yup, remember Buttercupgate. As J. Edgar Hoover said, “Knowledge is power.”

  20. Theresa Harrington Says:

    G: I agree that it would be wonderful to receive minutes from the Parent Advisory Council meetings. I, too, appreciated getting a synopsis of what was discussed in the past.
    Perhaps this will be discussed as part of the strategic plan.
    In looking at the Washington USD website, the current superintendent (who ended up replacing Lawrence), noted that communication was a problem there when he arrived.
    “Communication can be a significant concern for any organization,” wrote Washington district Superintendent Dayton Gilleland, when he assumed his position in July, 2010. “I have heard that this has been a challenge in our school district as well as a challenge for our school district with the community we serve. While I anticipate a busy schedule on most days, I intend to remain available and approachable.”

  21. Doctor J Says:

    Sounds like Lawrence has a habit of lack of effective communication. I wonder why Sue left to take a huge paycut with 2 plus years left on her contract, and with someone she had worked closely with in both West Sac and Roseville. There is something rotten in Denmark.

  22. g Says:

    Lawrence and Brothers downsized from a high School only district with just 9000 students and 7 total schools to a unified district of only 7000 students with a mix of various K-8 programs and only one high school.

    How in the world was it that He looked good enough for the Board to hire him for 36,000 students at 56 schools? Three current board members are on the hook for every single mistake they let him get by with.

    Now he moves Brothers along yet again. Has she ever even taught high school or been a principal at a high school?

  23. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, the district has issued a rebuttal to the CVHS charter statement regarding the financial impact of a charter conversion on the district:

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