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New Clayton Valley HS principal says she’ll be responsive

By Theresa Harrington
Sunday, May 29th, 2011 at 8:03 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington.

Sue Brothers, who worked under Mt. Diablo schools Superintendent Steven Lawrence in his two former districts, has been hired to replace Gary Swanson as principal of Clayton Valley High in Concord. Swanson is retiring.

Brothers knows she is stepping into a contentious environment, where teachers are mounting an effort to convert the campus to a charter school. She said she has been reading our local blogs to get a sense of what’s going on here.

I asked her about some of the blog comments about her appointment, as well as her feelings about some of the concerns addressed by charter proponents.

Although some in the community appear to believe she has been hand-picked to quash the charter, Brothers insists that’s not the case. In fact, she shares some of the same ideals as the charter proponents (although she believes these could be accomplished without converting the school).

Given the intense interest in the community about the charter and Brothers’ appointment, I’m posting large chunks of my interview below, as a Q & A, with some paraphrased notes in between. My questions are paraphrased.

My first phone interview was Thursday, followed on Friday by a shorter phone interview with Brothers, as well as a brief conversation with Washington district superintendent Dayton Gilleland.

THURSDAY INTERVIEW:

Q: Why do you want to move from a district administrator to a school principal? Is that a step backwards?

A: “I think it’s funny that people think it’s a step backward because really, they’re two totally different places and you do different things. High schools are an interesting challenge because to get all kids to achieve at all levels is really tough. I really have found that I enjoyed working hands-on with staff and kids rather than at that next level. So, that’s the reason.

I really like high school. In my current position, I spend quite a bit of time on school sites and in classrooms, and frankly that’s the part of the job that I really like — working with teachers and with kids. So, I did some thinking and thought, ‘That’s what I want to do.’”

Q: Would you want to move into district office administration after a year as a principal?

A: “I can tell you the last two times I’ve moved, it’s been after five years. I was Director of Curriculum and Instruction in the Roseville Joint Union HS District from 2001-2006 and Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services in the Washington Unified School District for five years.”

Brothers said Lawrence was Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction in the Roseville district when she was the director.

Previously, she said she was assistant principal at Woodcreek High School in the Roseville Joint Union HS District, from 1996-2001.

Before that, Brothers said she worked in “kind of a hybrid of administration,” from 1994-96.

From 1985-94, she taught at Roseville High School. Before that, she said she taught preschool.

Q: Some people think you have been hand-picked to wield influence in the district because you have an allegiance to the superintendent. What is your response?

A: “I think that’s funny. I don’t know of any plots.”

Q: Were you surprised when Trustee Cheryl Hansen voted against your appointment?

A: “I don’t know anything about that. I can’t even make a comment, because I’ve got no idea what that was about.”

Q: One of Hansen’s concerns was that it’s been several years since you were a site administrator. She said she would prefer someone with more recent experience on a high school campus. What’s your response?

A: “It’s an interesting concern, because I spend a lot of time on campuses. I coach principals. I advise them on disciplinary issues…I have actually quite a bit of site administrative experience.”

Q: Julie Braun-Martin, assistant superintendent for personnel, said you were asked to provide a writing sample about how you would implement a strategic plan at the school. What’s your plan?

A: “(Number) one, I’m going to move to the community. I need to be there. This is a job that takes a lot of hours. I’m going to be at after-school events. I’m going to be around. People are going to see me. Absolutely, I’m going to have to get to know the community. I’m going to meet a lot of people. The district is working on setting up a time when I can meet the teachers and have some meet-and-greets with parents.

I think there’s a lot of listening that I need to do. You’re going to see me at sporting events and music events. I don’t know everything in the community and I’ll have to listen to people who are there to find out things.

I need to do a whole lot of listening to staff and to students and to parents, to find out what the collective vision is — what people are expecting. I believe expectations are very high, so I don’t have a specific plan yet, because I need to listen to figure out what is most important to tackle first.”

Q: What is your opinion of the charter conversion effort?

A: “I really don’t know enough about the specifics yet to give you an intelligent answer.”

Q: Some people suspect you are being brought in to quash the conversion effort. Is that your intent?

A: “No, I haven’t even had any conversations with anybody about that. I think my role is to be the principal of the school.”

Q: Some conversion supporters have been frustrated by lack of consistent direction and follow-through by the school and district administration. What’s your management style?

A: “I find I have very good follow-through. I’m clear. I say what I’m going to do and I do it, so I don’t think they’ll find that’s an issue.”

Q: Would you be willing to consider some of the changes the charter organizers would like to see on campus?

A: “The school seems to have some direction in some areas. I need to talk to staff before I comment and find out the pieces they’re really passionate about — and then we need to go in that direction.”

She said she knows the campus has a Project Lead the Way academy and pointed out that she’s a member of a Project Lead the Way steering committee in the Sacramento area.

“I really support programs like that. So I doubt that I’m going to find something that I disagree with philosophically.”

Q: What is your current salary?

A: $125,000.

She acknowledged she’ll make less than that in her new position, but added that the benefits “work differently in Mt. Diablo.”

Q: How old are you?

A: 54.

Q: Why do you want take a pay cut to make this move at this time in your life?

A: “This is a passion, absolutely. My last child graduated from high school and is now in college. I’ve got freedom. I can absolutely do what I want to do and what I want to do is site administration, so it just looked like a really good fit.”

Q: Did the superintendent recruit you for the job?

A: “No. We talk once in a while. He told me he had an opening.”

She said Lawrence originally told her about the College Park opening, then she later found out about the Clayton Valley spot.

“Sometimes, things happen and you end up in the right place. I like challenging work, not boring work. There’s some people that are really interested in positional power or money. I’m really interested in getting great outcomes for kids. That’s what floats my boat. I never want to be a superintendent. I’m really interested in kids. I think high schools are such an interesting challenge.

We know how to move elementary and middle schools, but high schools are the great black box. Also, I love the environment where you have a lot of other adults, sports and events. I like the complexity.

This really is passion and it’s me at this time of my life having a choice, which I just love. I think it’s going to be very interesting.

I’ll be willing to meet with anybody who wants to talk to me because I know this is a complex situation.”

Q: You heard Dr. Norm Gold’s school board report about English language learners. What would you do at Clayton Valley to help those students?

A: “Four percent of students at Clayton Valley are English learners. I would take a look at the draft master schedule, go through all the transcripts, make sure kids are enrolled (in appropriate classes)…I’ll need to pull test scores. It will also help me get familiar with the students.”

Q: The district has been identified by the state as “disproportionate” in terms of the percentage of blacks and Latinos who are identified for special education, suspended and expelled. What strategies do you have for dealing with that?

A: “If you’re talking about discipline, one is at a high school, you’ve got an administrative team that’s doing discipline and you really have to be on the same page and it needs to not matter which kid it is, the penalty’s got to be the same.

You also need to get to the root problem. I think it’s absolutely critical to bring parents in the first time you have a disciplinary contact with the student. If a student has been called to the office, you need to call the parents. You need to look at discipline data.

We are doing that (in the Washington district). We actually log referrals and take a look at: Where did it occur? What time of day? What are the patterns of problems and how are we going to addess them?

At the high school level, it is critical to have supervision. Kids — anytime they look around — should see an adult, which makes them safe.”

Brothers also said the Washington district has a good relationship with the charter schools in town.

FRIDAY, MAY 27 INTERVIEW:

It was brought to my attention that the Washington district school board agreed in closed session March 10 to inform Brothers that she might be “reassigned” to other duties.

Here is what the minutes say:

“On a unanimous vote of yes 4, no 0, absent 1, the Board adopted Resolution 101114 reassigning an employee holding an administrative or supervisory credential to a position for which he/she is credentialed and qualified to serve. In closed session the Board discussed Public Employee Discipline Dismissal/Release/Reassignment: Government Code Section 54954.5(e): 54957. The Board took action in closed session on a vote yes 4, no 0, absent 1, to notify the Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services of a possible change of assignment as required by Education Code Section 44951. This is not a dismissal or disciplinary action. It is a special assignment to be determined at a later time.”

I asked Brothers about this, as well as about concerns expressed by teachers at a charter presentation to the Clayton Valley Business and Community Association that I attended Thursday night, and about other concerns that arose on blogs.

Q: What is the status of your position as Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services in the Washington school district?

A: “I am finishing the first year of a three-year contract through 2013, although I’ve just submitted my resignation (due to being hired as the Clayton Valley HS principal). I’ve been here for five years, and it’s (the contract) gotten renewed periodically.”

Q: Were you reassigned to different duties?

A: “My job title is the same. The contract is the same. It’s a confidential personnel issue. It wasn’t a reassignment. A reassignment would have been some sort of change in job description. My duties haven’t changed. I’m still doing the same thing I was doing.”

She said she couldn’t tell me more than this because the issue involved another person.

Q: Why do you think some people thought you had been demoted or disciplined?

A: “This district’s a litle bit similar to where you are (Mt. Diablo). There were rumors and speculation.”

Q: Do you feel you are being forced out of the Washington district?

A: “No, my feeling is: I want to work with kids. And I wish I could tell you about the other (confidential) part. That is really my passion.”

She encouraged me to speak to her superintendent for more information about the March 10 closed session.

Q: Will you be giving up seniority in terms of retirement benefits, by moving to the Mt. Diablo district?

A: “It doesn’t change STRS (California State Teachers’ Retirement System) at all. STRS carries with me as long as I work in a California school.”

Q: When teachers move to a new district, they lose seniority in terms of salary schedules. Is that true for administrators?

A: “Administrators don’t have those same kinds of job rights. So, I didn’t have that anyway. Administrative salary schedules are just kind of flat.”

Q: I attended a CVHS charter presentation to the Clayton Valley Business Association (CBCA) Thursday night, where some Clayton Valley HS teachers said they don’t feel listened to. You have said that you intend to listen to teachers and to the community. But then, what would be your next step?

A: “Step one is: I need to figure out from the teachers, from the staff — classified included — what kind of governance structure they’d like to use. I have a bias towards action and if there are things that staff feel need to be done immediately then I would do them immediately. You’ll see some changes pretty rapidly. I want to take care of some of those things that teachers bring up. I use team leadershp and teachers are the leaders of the teams.”

She said the Washington district is working with techers to write new curriculum standards.

“But they’re the ones making the decisions, deciding essay prompts, deciding on their own rubrics. Teachers are putting on staff development for other teachers after school, so I have a lot of team leadership.

If (Clayton Valley) teachers haven’t felt listened to, I’m a good listener and I can also help them get the things done that they want to get done.”

Q: The Clayton Valley charter organizers want a responsive administration.

A: “It sounds like I’m in the right place.”

Q: The charter organizers have said inconsistent discipline is an issue on campus, along with lax enforcement of dress code. How would you deal with those issues?

A: “If you don’t have a safe and orderly learning environment, nobody learns anything. It starts with dress code. I believe in the ‘broken window theory.’”

(The broken window theory states that when one window is broken, it’s easier to break the next and the next. If you prevent the first broken window, you can prevent deterioration.)

“If you let little things go, they become big things. Dress code. Inappropriate language. I think schools need to be very purposeful. If they’re into dress code, so am I. That can be a real distraction from learning.”

Q: Some are concerned that you have never been a principal. What is your response?

A: “I’ve been an assistant principal for seven years and have done everything a principal has done, so that shouldn’t be a concern. And now, I coach principals, so I’ve got that skill set.”

INTERVIEW WITH WASHINGTON DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT DAYTON GILLELAND:

I asked Gilleland to explain the closed session action that took place March 10 regarding Susan Brothers. He said the two actions taken by the board involved two separate employees and that Brothers was ultimately reassigned to an assistant superintendent position on special assignment, under the same job title. He said Brothers has two years remaining on her contract.

“The idea was to focus more attention specifically on Program Improvement schools…It was not by any means a demotion. It was not a disciplinary action. It was simply a matter of refocusing our attention on specific school sites.”

Q: What is your opinon of Brothers?

A: “I have a very high regard for Sue Brothers. She did a lot of wonderful work here. I’m sorry to see her go. She’s very communicative. She’s very astute as an educator and a leader and the (Mt. Diablo) district’s gain is our loss.”

According to an op ed piece Gilleland submitted to his local newspaper earlier this month, it appears that the Washington district, like the Mt. Diablo district, is battling a negative reputation in the community. Gilleland’s op ed piece is in response to “disparaging” remarks about the district made by the mayor, including allegations that the district isn’t doing a good job of educating Latino students.

In his response, Gilleland defends the district and notes improvements made since he assumed leadership, including four intitiatives spearheaded by the Board President to “validate our commitment to work within and throughout our surrounding communities.”

“In title alone,” he wrote, “these initiatives demonstrate the collaborative intent:
- The Whole Child Initiative,
- The Parents Bill of Rights Initiative,
- The Better West Sacramento Initiative, and
- The Community Networking/Outreach Initiative.”

Earlier in the piece, Gilleland praised his staff for their hard work on behalf of district students.

“I don’t intend to venture any deeper into the political abyss that West Sacramento seems to offer,” he wrote. “However, without regret or apology, I will continue to defend what is working and acknowledge those responsible for our success.”

Do you think Brothers has the experience necessary to lead Clayton Valley High?

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

  • Doctor J

    Did you interview Sue or Steve . . .oh yeah, sounds a lot like Stue.

  • mdusdmomx4

    Just stop it Doctor J, you are old, very old. What we need are intelligent comments.

    Thank you Theresa for this. I wish Ms. Brothers the best at CVHS, they say change is a good thing and it happens for a reason.

    I hope that the Clayton/Concord community and the staff at CVHS give Ms. Brothers a chance and that she does follow through just like what she stated in her interview.

  • Doctor J

    @Momx4 I guess you are unaware that Steve and Sue are unitedly opposed to charters and that they led opposition to a charter in West Sac where the District’s denial was ultimately overturned and the charter approved. I wonder if we will see the same thing at CVHS ?

  • Billy Bob

    Everyone can think anything they want, but truth be told:

    Sue is being brought in for one purpose and one purpose only – to put down the rebellion at CVHS.

    I feel sorry for the teachers at CVHS who have been identified as supporters of the Charter as I suspect Sue’s techniques for putting down the rebellion will be “Qadaffiesque”.

  • mdusdmomx4

    Wow, you two are funny, is everything always a conspiracy? I understand via another blog that community members/parents on the interview panel for CVHS felt she was the best candidate for their school. Instead of condemning before Ms. Brothers has even had a chance, why don’t we support the school, community and see what happens.

    When our new Principal was hired at YVHS lots of conspiracy/rumors were made too, all of which turned out to be false.

  • Anon

    Hi MdusdmomX4,

    I agree that Dr.J can be a bit of a conspiracy type, but in every conspiracy there is probably a bit of truth.

    You don’t think that Sue Brothers is being brought in to encourage the charter do you? I bet she is being instructed to not be nuetral either. Therefore in some way she is indeed being brought in to quell the disturbance.

    Or do you see this in some other frame of reference?

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    Let’s be clear about the motivations here. Since 1993, when charter schools were first allowed in CA, MDUSD has opposed every single charter application in the district, and it has exactly one operating charter school at this time. This is an extraordinary track record for such a large district, particularly one with so many low-performing schools, including a number that have been on “school improvement plans” for years. There is no record — none — of the kind of constructive engagement with charters that even LAUSD and SFUSD have shown. This record is not an accident. It reflects years of complete and conscious obstruction of charters. There is every reason to believe that Sue Brothers’ marching orders are to stop this charter conversion by any means necessary. And the idea of retaliation against teachers and parents who support the conversion is not at all far-fetched, in my view, based not only on Gary’s explicit blog comments, but on an almost two-decade pattern of behavior as well. MDUSD has shown itself to be philosophically and organizationally committed to preserving its public school monopoly and the revenue that it generates. So please, let’s not write off the “conspiracy theorists” until we have at least some shred of evidence to the contrary.

  • Doctor J

    Conspiracy . . . do you think Lawrence operates “alone” or after getting his marching orders ?

  • anon

    It sounds like Sue Brothers is the breath of fresh air that is needed at CVHS. For too long the administration at CVHS have ignored student and parent needs and have overlooked all of the issues. Evidence indicates that Dr. Lawrence is listening to concerns and taking appropriate actions to address those concerns. I will eagerly support the new administration at CVHS. Thanks to Theresa for providing us an in-depth look at the interview. The questions and answers have me very encouraged.

  • Anonymous

    Pretty funny parody video posted about an MDUSD Board Meeting. Check it out on youtube or link is : [Deleted per CCT blog policy and editor's decision]

  • Doctor J

    Anon #9 Former collegues of Stue say that post #9 is the writing style of Sue Brothers — personally I don’t know but they asked to me pass this along. The important part is the acknowledgement that student and parent needs have been ignored in the past. How to correct that is the debate.

  • Doctor J

    What is the MDUSD policy of Administrators having affairs with other administrators and employees ? Just for the record, I am not accusing any particular person, especially the Supt. http://www.contracostatimes.com/education/ci_18179612

  • Doctor J

    Anon #10 Very funny parody. Obviously giving creative educators too many furlough days in a row gives them time to be creative and funny. Frankly, better than any of he recent SNL shows I have seen. What education will be accomplished the last six days of school ?

  • anon

    Dr. J and #10,

    Using the tragedy of Hitler and the Nazi German extermination of 6 million innocent people, many of which were children, is appalling. People come on here to read about stories of significant importance to their community and you poke fun at a piece of history that was the ultimate act of racism. The Contra Costa Times should immediately remove this extremely offensive material and Dr. J should immediately apologize for making fun of such a tragic era in history. I can’t believe how insensitive people in this community are.

  • Doctor J

    @Anon 8.51. The parody had nothing to do with the holocaust or racism. It has to do with a parody on tyranical leadership and the many scandlegates of the district. As far as racism, I guess you haven’t been acknowledging MDUSD’s recognition for its “disproportionality” and the Gold report — that’s real time racism in MDUSD which has not been fixed.

  • Linda

    LOL – So Clever!

  • Mad As Hell

    Anon #14,
    Doctor J is right. “Hogan’s Heroes” was a hit show 40 years ago. That is the nature of parody. Get real

  • anon

    There is nothing funny or clever that is associated with Adolf Hitler, a man who was the planets most racist person. There is no way to disassociate Adolf Hitler from racism and the holocaust. There are people that will view this clip and feel deep pain and resentment that someone was willing to use it to parody anyone. To those of you who think that this is amusing, I pray that you have no interaction with children. The acts that were committed by Hitler were atrocious and for you to use him in any way to poke fun at the school district is wrong and should be rebuked at every level. Can you make your argument, that this is nothing more than a parody, to a holocaust survivor, someone who saw their relatives exterminated? If you can’t, you have no business supporting the person that posted such vile nonsense.

  • Doctor J

    @Anon The holocaust is unacceptable, but that is not what the parody is about. The holocaust is just as unaceptable as the USA slave trade that lasted for centuries. How many of your ancestors owned slaves ? How many of your ancestors refused to speak up against slavery or bogitry ? Does that make you evil ? The parody against tyrancial leadership was clever and funny. But it was not racist. Tyrany still exists and needs to be obliterated.

  • Anonymous

    Anon at 1:39,

    You must be Gary or one of his henchmen trying to shut down Claycord and the CCTimes jsut like the parody suggested you would.

    How does the saying go? Art imitating life or life imitating art. Somehting like that.

    The parody (look up the definition in a dictionary) was hilarious.

  • Billy Bob

    I took 1:57s advice,

    par·o·dy/ˈparədē/
    Verb: Produce a humorously exaggerated imitation of (a writer, artist, or genre).
    Noun: An imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect.

    This youtube video is slap your knee funny to anyone who knows the backstories to some of the recent MDUSD scandals.

    Just google MDUSD Parody and it comes right up.

  • Anon

    That was so funny! If anyone believes that Sue Brothers got the job at CV because of her past skills as a principal of a HS is dead wrong. She is a friend of Lawrence and is at CV to make the lives miserable for those that are in favor of the change. If I hear of one teacher or student that is getting the raw end of the stick with her I will be there everyday (as it is my right) to make sure she is put back in her propper place. I think that on the off chance that the charter does not go then we supporters of education need to come together and take back our schools.

  • Doctor J

    Anyone who knows Gary, knows he has never hesitated to skewer anyone who disagrees with him, and ususally with words that would not be tolerated in our education system.

  • Anon

    It is clear that Hitler was a very bad person but my question is why do we not teach our children history. My kids know who Hitler is because I taught them. They have no idea what has happened in history unless it had a rosey ending that everyone was happy with.

    I still think it is funny and needed that laugh out loud moment today….so hats off to whom ever made it.

  • Wary One

    As an educator in MDUSD, I’m dismayed to see that principals are now being anointed, I mean appointed, without a truly competitive process. First we have CVHS and it appears Olympic will also get a “newbie” principal installed next year with no site administrator (or even VP) experience, except a couple months at Summit with its all of 50 or so students. Perhaps it’s at least more transparent this way – no phony interviews, input from faculty, etc. I’m glad at least one Board member resisted the Supe’s rubber stamping the others gave him in Ms. Brothers’ appointment.

  • Anon

    At least Gary and the board don’t hide in the shadows and spew lies and misinformation. Dr j. You have no integrity, but you don’t have to as a troll, do you? It wouldn’t surprise me if you concocted that hitler video. Your goals have nothing to do with helping the students in this district. Your lies are hurting kids.

  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    I must say that I am proud to have made a cameo in the subtitles.

    Great video. Kudos to whoever is creative enough to come up with such a thing.

  • DVAL Watcher

    Thank you, Teresa for all of your EXCELLENT reporting on the MDUSD. As a former student and now well weathered parent of the district you are the reason so many of us can decipher the spin! You put out the facts on ALL sides of the issues and for that I am sure all can agree is a commendable service to the MDUSD community. I would like to also, thank the many people who add comments on the various subjects and issues. You all provide such great perspectives!!! Just one thought to those who attack without facts to support your opinion please stop you make a fool of yourself and seriously give me a headache. You know who you are, now knock it OFF.

  • Anon

    It is my experience that parodies which hit close to home get the most rebuke from people trying to protect the status quo.

    This video must hit really close to home for many of you. I think it is humorous, well done, and should probably be viewed by anyone who is connected to the MDUSD administration in any way.

  • anon

    @Wary One:

    I am concerned that an “educator” in this district is so uneducated about the process that was followed and documented to hire the new administrators that will fill the vacancies at College Park and Clayton Valley. In our home we teach our children to investigate and research and then conclude. In the classes that our students attend in the district their teachers provide the same advice and education, to research and investigate, then conclude. It is clear that you didn’t investigate or research, you skipped right to a conclusion and you expect that all will follow you. Many will I’m sure, but the facts warrant a much different conclusion. A process was followed, and as was reported at the board meeting where these two individuals were hired, all members of the two independent interview panels, comprised of parents and staff, came to the same conclusions regarding who should be hired. Those recommendations were forwarded to the superintendent and he forwarded them to the board. There was no conspiracy, there was unanimous agreement. In terms of your comment that at least one board member didn’t rubber stamp the superintendent, she might as well have voted for the candidate. She didn’t provide any rational for her vote. If she did have a real reason for voting no, that should have been communicated to the entire board if she wanted to impact the process. She had a responsibility to voice her opinion at the meeting so that the board, the superintendent and the community understood what, if any, concerns she had. Instead she spoke to the press after the meeting, a tact that she is familiar with for sure, but not a responsible methodology for bringing about change in the district.

  • Doctor J

    @Anon #26 I did not produce the parody video, nor have anything to do with its publication. I only tell the truth and my opinion.

  • Theresa Harrington

    The Clayton Valley HS charter petition was finalized Wednesday night and is being circulated this week: http://www.contracostatimes.com/twitter/ci_18193496.
    Organizers hope to get at least 37 signatures by the end of next week.

  • Realia

    I wish people would be more creative with their names. It seems that “Anon” is used by several people and it can become very confusing to read contradictory statements posted by what appears to be the same person. For example, #30 could have been signed “District Hack” or “A Certain Board Member,” since defending the indefensible actions taken by the district and insulting teachers are ingrained in the culture of MDUSD and most members of its board.

  • g

    Theresa, you really let her off easy, don’t you think? Of course letting her give “non answer” answers kept her talking, I guess. She may be a really great person. She may even be the right person for the job, but the interview left me wondering…

    Speaking of going from Supervisor to Principal…”Is that a step backwards?” Her response is that she thinks it’s funny that people think that, but in the same breath speaks of going from Principal to Supervisor as going to the “next level”.

    “…to get all kids to achieve at all levels is really tough.” Huh? all kids at all levels, tough—? All kids ARE at all levels. You don’t have to get them to “achieve” that. It seems to me she speaks without thinking how her answers will sound.

    “Would you want to move into district office administration after a year as a principal?” It seems to me a “yes” “no” or “maybe” or “That’s not even being considered” would be answers. “I stayed at the last two places for 5 years” is not an answer!

    “Why did you take a pay cut?” ““This is a passion, absolutely…” Makes me wonder if there were no Principal positions open in West Sac area in the past 10 years or so where she could pursue her “passion”???

    And then she says: “I never want to be a superintendent. I’m really interested in kids. I think high schools are such an interesting challenge.” And yet again, why has she not been in a High School position for so many years?

    I suspect that personnel shift meant she was kept in her “contract and title job” but had her “work” taken from her in the “to be determined” new position. That was really her cue to take a hike.

    We’ll see, I guess.

  • Theresa Harrington

    g: I knew that Brothers’ answers could be interpreted in different ways by some, which is why I decided to post the interview as a Q&A, instead of trying to excerpt what I thought was most important. This way, readers can draw their own conclusions.

    However, Brothers didn’t receive the questions ahead of time, so she didn’t have time to prepare answers. Also, she asked me to make sure people know that she is willing to meet with anyone who wants to talk to her. So, if you or others have follow-up questions, you could try to schedule such a meeting.

    Regarding the different “levels,” I thought she meant grade levels. However, I did think it was interesting that she said “we know how to move elementary and middle schools.” I wonder if SASS would agree. MDUSD’s six lowest performing schools in the state are elementary and middle schools. If administrators know how to “move” them, why aren’t they achieving better results?

  • Doctor J

    Stue didn’t make any significant progress in West Sac either. Don’t kid yourself.

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    Theresa: Is it possible to find the CVHS charter conversion petition online somewhere? I followed your link above and the one in your CC Times article, but didn’t find the actual petition anywhere. I’m sure that there are people in the community, beyond the CVHS teachers, who would like to read it. Thanks again for all of your diligent coverage. There are many communities that do not have the benefit of this kind of reporting on their local schools.

  • g

    Thank goodness you didn’t give her the questions ahead of time. That could turn out to be too close to “teaching to the test” couldn’t it.

    You are probably right about levels referring to age/grade. It was the “all” students and “all” levels that got me.

    For the kid’s sake, I’m going to wish her well and hope she is up to the task.

  • Doctor J

    I think Cheryl Hansen was right. Is there anyone who really believes that Sue won’t have a direct line to Steve, having previously been his assistant for over ten years in two districts. I don’t think it will take long for her to bypass Denise Rugani and Rose Lock. This prior relationship will not promote “good order and discipline.”

  • anon

    Theresa says that the charter plan is complete. Where can I find it so I can read it? I can’t believe that decisions are being made about how my child will be educated and I am not being given full access to the plan before it goes to the school board. What is wrong in this district. Why are there so many secret documents? This may actually be worse that how the district deals with their business. If someone has a copy of it, please scan it and post it. We have a right to see it and understand it before it goes to the school board.

  • Doctor J

    @mdusdmomx4 #5. I think you have the process wrong. the first interview panel just recommends four to six candidates to the Supt. The Supt and his staff, no parents, interview those and the Supt makes the selection and forwards to the Board. Although the public is not advised who the selected candidate is when the agenda is published, the selected candidate is named to the Board when their agendas are distributed to them. The only time the public is advised prior to the vote is at the Board meeting. The public has no time to vet the recommended candidate prior to the vote. Hence, Nugentgate. Now Stuegate.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Jim and Anon: the teachers haven’t released the document to the public yet. Previously, they said they wanted to wait until it was finalized. I’ll see if they’re willing to release it before the signature-gathering phase is complete.

  • Doctor J

    @Anon #30 — As I advised in #41, you are mistaken about the process. The first panel only recommended four candidates, and the second panel is the Supt and his staff. The Supt makes the decision. Even though the Board is advised with their agendas, the public is kept in the dark until the announcement at the Board meeting. Lawrence departed from protocol, and had Julie introduce the candidates instead of himself and unlike prior appointments outlined the alleged process.

  • g

    @Anon says: ” We have a right to see it and understand it before it goes to the school board.”

    No, you/we do not have a “right” to see it before it goes to the Board. We have a right to see it WHEN it goes to the Board. A Teacher Trigger is, in effect, the mounting of a coup. In this case the “peaceful intent” has been made public, the “execution of the movement” does not have to be public until it reaches its target.

    There are very good examples online of what is required on Charter applications. If you just can’t wait to get an idea of the criteria for successful application, Try this one: http://www.floridaschoolchoice.org/information/charter_schools/files/Model_Charter_App.PDF

    If you want to see what a successful application looks like: http://www.uscharterschools.org/pub/uscs_docs/r/fl_charter_app.htm

  • g

    @ Anon: Sorry, that second link was meant to be: http://www.uscharterschools.org/cs/r/view/uscs_rs/1714#Governance

  • Theresa Harrington

    Anon: g is correct that the public does not have a “right” to see the petition until it goes to the school board.
    If the charter is approved, the ultimate decisions about how students are educated would be made by the charter’s board.

  • Long-time Board Watcher

    So, Dr. J, according to your explanation, the panel of parents and staff first interview numerous candidates for principal positions and forward the few they like to the Superintendent and Council, who conduct the second interview and make a recommendation to the Board. In this process the Superintendent could not have even considered Sue Brothers for CVHS if the parent/staff panel had not selected her as a finalist. To imply that the Superintendent influenced the first panel’s decision making is an insult to all the conscientious people who took time to serve on the panel and carefully assess the candidates.

    From what I’ve heard, the panel considered Sue Brothers to be one of the strongest of those they interviewed. They had to be aware of her background. They would have seen her work with Lawrence in WUSD on her resume and at least some of them probably read the blogs. If they’d had misgivings, they could have sent only three names forward–or two, one, or none. It’s happened.

    We all get it. You and a few others detest Lawrence and Eberhart and have little regard for Whitmarsh, Rolen, and one or two others. Some of us may share your feelings to some extent, but that’s actually a good reason why we should support parents and staff who are trying to be involved in district decisions.

    It’s clear that many in the CVHS community believe changes are needed at the school and two scenarios have emerged: converting the school to a charter or working within the current system. Good, thoughtful people (parents, staff, and students) are on both sides of the debate, all with the same goal: better programs for students. How ’bout we let all these folks find ways to work together without having to endure name-calling and derogatory comments?

  • Billy Bob

    Long-Time Board Watcher,

    Blah, blah, blah. Too long didn’t read.

    Did you see the funny video on youtube? Just google MDUSD Parody. Come on even an old stiffy like you was probably laughing out loud.

  • Doctor J

    @Long-Time BW, yes, the initial panel makes the multiple recommendations. But once it gets to the second level, the decision is that of the Supt after he and his staff interview the candidates recommended. There is no doubt in my mind that on paper, SB has a lot of district experience working under Lawrence, but what she doesn’t have is the local experience nor the experience of being a principal. Neither does she have the record of “turn around” as the schools she has worked with do not improve significantly their scores. I do agree with Cheryl Hansen that her close working relationship with Lawrence is a huge negative rather than a positive, and that she has no local knowledge. I also agree that the motives of her and Lawrence are less than alturistic. Obviously the Board had 4 days notice of who was being appointed and Cheryl Hansen did her homework. For some reason, the Board, even after Nugentgate, does not permit the public to know the candidate until the moment of vote. That makes public vetting impossible.

  • Theresa Harrington

    FYI, the charter petition reportedly has received more than enough signatures to be forwarded to the district: http://bit.ly/iZVPxv.