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Clayton Valley HS charter committee responds to district’s concerns

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, September 13th, 2011 at 6:53 pm in Clayton, Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Clayton Valley High School organizers have prepared a lengthy response to concerns outlined in the Mt. Diablo school district’s evaluation of its petition.

The district’s concerns are at http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=4476&mtgId=307.

Here is the petitioner’s response: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/document-preview.aspx?doc_id=94681279.

I will post a story about the outcome after the meeting.

Do you think the board should approve the charter, approve it with conditions, or deny it?

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  • CVHS Mom

    HA HA .. listening to the district attorney dissect their review of the petition, did anyone catch the irony when she discussed goals not being adequate in describing how you get to where you want to be . Wasn’t it Lawrence who invented goals instead of a strategic plan?

  • Just J

    Yes they should have approved!!! At the very least they should have agreed to meet with the Charter to modify the conditions as aked in the meeting.

    On the note of the conditions. I would love to see the District meet all the conditions to better serve ALL students. If they cannot meet the conditions why would they expect the Charter to. For goodness sake they can’t even make sure the Special Ed kids are picked up and dropped off in the right place (or picked up at all)

    The Charter has been up front during this whole process and even agreed to extend the time for the decision from July to September. They have answered all questions. It was the District that would not release the information needed.

  • Ernest

    Why was not the Parent Trigger Law used to make this change to a charter school?

  • anon

    The charter was approved pending the development of plans that address the following:

    A curriculum plan.
    A student assessment plan.
    A discipline plan.
    A special education plan.
    An English language learner plan.

    If they can develop plans that address these important areas of school operations over the next 5 months they get their charter. If they can’t they don’t and they shouldn’t. This is a completely reasonable and a very rational approach to developing a sound charter school. Just saying that you are going to be innovative is not a plan for success.

    I was not in favor of the charter from the beginning, but if they can develop a good plan it could do very well. If the organizers and their supporters spend the next 5 months pissing and moaning that the district is burdening them with plans they shouldn’t have to develop, that will say a lot about their character and their ability. Who can argue that the charter school, or any school for that matter, should exist without written plans and procedures in place that address important educational needs? To say that the district doesn’t have these plans in place at all schools only highlights a lack of understanding of how schools in California operate.

    This is not a one room school house somewhere out on the prairie. CVHS is a complex educational institution with a diverse student body that arrives at school with complex and differing needs. Success will be predicated on the sound educational practices that the charter organizers articulate in their comprehensive educational plan and the support provided by the parents and the community. All the excitement and motivation in the world won’t overcome the lack of a comprehensive plan.

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    This moves the final decision into next year, which will make it that much harder for the charter to be ready by fall, 2012, if it is approved at all, which seems very unlikely based on the district’s past record. Indeed, looking at it from MDUSD’s distorted perspective, if you recognize that a well-organized charter is going to get approved on appeal anyway, by the County Board of Ed or at the State level, then why not just withhold your decision and simply delay the whole process? MDUSD used a variety of delaying tactics after the Flex charter was approved by the County, and their obstruction helped delay the opening for a whole year. It’s a sad and cynical game that the district plays, and they probably realize that more School Choice is coming no matter what. But each obstacle, each delay, just moves the reckoning a little farther out.

    Ernest, the Parent Trigger option is only available to parents whose children attend the absolute worst performing schools in the state (lowest 5%). If your children attends a school that is not quite that bad, you are out of luck. Teachers, on the other hand, can petition for a conversion at any school. Indeed, the trend among teacher conversions in S. CA seems to be that they are more likely among higher-performing schools trying to escape the mismanagement of a large, mediocre district. That’s undoubtedly why the process caught the attention of the teachers at CVHS — and why the teacher conversions are a much greater threat to MDUSD.

  • anon

    @jim,

    How does this make it harder for the charter to be ready by Fall 2012? This is planning that the charter said they were going to do regardless of the district’s conditions. If you read the response written by the charter’s lawyer, they indicate that they are going to comply with most of the conditions. So this is planning that they had to do anyway, the district just wants to ensure that a good plan is in place prior to the opening of the charter school. That seems to me to be common sense. You think, you plan, you prepare, you open. Not the other way around.

    Your comment about flex is laughable. The district denied the charter because it’s educational plan was unsound. The county approved it on appeal and the charter failed to open because??? Who knows? My guess is that they couldn’t drum up enough students who wanted to forgo the traditional high school experience and instead opt to spend most of their 4 years in high school sitting in front of a computer answering to a computerized curriculum.

    Insisting that a charter school come to the board with a completed and comprehensive plan is not a “delaying tactic”. It is what the district is required to do by law. It’s not supposed to be simple for a group of people to get together and take over a large and complex public school.

  • LindaL

    Anon,
    Your understanding of the Flex program shows a level of ignorance similar to that of our MDUSD BOE. Unlike MDUSD the County Board members went and evaluated the Flex Academy program rather than dismiss this “innovation” with the same arrogance so prevalent in the MDUSD Board.

    Flex Academy was delayed in opening not because there was not interest but because their original plan was to accomodate 200 students and almost double that applied. The facilities that were provided by MDUSD were then too small. The parents and students who investigated this option had the insight to see that the world is changing and technology provides an opportunity to change how our kids learn. They don’t sit in front of a computer all day. They have instruction delivered online so that teachers are freed up to teach small groups of three to five students. Teachers can then cover very specific curriculum where the students are struggling or where they can go deeper into a subject if students are moving ahead.
    This innovation has the ability to change the role of the teacher and allow them to do what they do best… actually teach. It allows every student to have an individualized learning plan.

    The decision last night had nothing to do with wanting to put the students first. These conditions were not for the kids. These conditions were the District’s way of saying, “by golly if we have to address all of these mandates then we are going to make you do that too. Then come tell us how easy it is to run a District.”

    The MDUSD conditions reached far beyond their purview provided by the charter laws. I hope CVCHS rejects the approval and appeals at the County level.

  • Former CV Parent

    The details the District asked for are perfectly reasonable. The teachers are going to have to figure them out anyway. Why are they wasting their time and money having their lawyers argue that they don’t have to provide details and they don’t have to provide an innovative or different program? Why don’t they just sit down and do the hard work required to open a high school? If they can’t get the District’s concerns addressed by February, then they don’t stand a chance of actually being prepared enough to open their school in the fall.

    The plain truth is that the teachers haven’t done the planning and number-crunching required to run a high school. Until they do that, their petition should not be approved. The District did them a big favor in pointing out their shortcomings and offering them a “do-over” in February. They’d be wise to take the district up on its offer.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I have posted a follow-up story today, which includes a statement from the charter committee: http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_18895697?nclick_check=1

  • Theresa Harrington

    I have also posted a story about the Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year to be named Thursday: http://bit.ly/qUw5BM
    Finalists are from MDUSD, Oakley and San Ramon Valley districts.

  • Doctor J

    @Poison Paul, this time you outsmarted yourself — well, that’s not too hard — go ahead and postpone the approval of the charter. In the meantime you have to leave Sue Brothers in place at CVHS for a couple of years and that will spare ALL the other schools in district from her dictatorship and the conspiracy with STEUE. How long can Lawrence postpone the appointment of Denise Rugani’s replacement ? Gary was absolutely correct about the engergy from CVCHS — now what you have is not only an appeal on a “teacher trigger” but also a “recall petition” on ALL five board members. Maybe we need a Board president who graduated from high school ? Did you graduate from high school ?

  • Mark Weinmann

    Spoke to CVCHS governing board members today and there is definitely both dissatisfaction AND outrage. They feel it is a denail as Thewresa has reported as do I. The MDUSD BOE was looking to show support but not outright approval so has done what they can to make everyone think it supports. It appears that many do see through this as well. It seems as if it is a plan to set them up to fail by making demands that they do not meet themselves and then pushing put a deadline to Frebruary where even if they do accept what is done, it shortens the time frame to get the school ready. I suggest two things:
    1. Before the next meeting, the charter and BOE should meet as suggested by both the attorney ad Boardmember Hansen to set the right conditions and rescind this motion and vote on a new one at the Sept. 27 BOE meeting, or,
    2. Appeal to the COunty BOE and have it approved at that level and keep MDUSD out of it.

    Chew on that MDUSD…

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    The very idea that MDUSD would sit in judgment on ANYONE’s ability to plan for curriculum, special needs, or English language instruction would be comical if it weren’t so absurd. Space does not begin to allow for listing all of this district’s failures, over many years, to plan in those areas. To add to the irony, advocates of “planning” like “Anon” 2:25 and “Former CV Parent” apparently can’t even see what difference it makes, as far as opening in August, 2012, whether the charter is approved now, in February, or perhaps in April, when it would go to the County Board of Ed after MDUSD rejects it. You two can’t imagine how those very different go/no-go dates could delay things in any way? Are you joking, or just oblivious?

    Most people who know something about planning for such an important endeavor would be able to distinguish between having an 11-month planning horizon and having only 3-4 months to get ready after final approval is received. Planning isn’t just a matter of sitting around a conference table and talking about future possibilities. (OK, maybe at MDUSD that’s all there is to it…) Responsible planning also requires concrete decisions, contracts, and commitments that can only take place once you KNOW that you have a FIRM launch date. Of course, the district leadership understands this perfectly well. Just as they knew that by jerking Flex around per their responsibility to offer a facility, as required under Prop 39, would help create enough uncertainty about the opening date to delay the opening for a year. MDUSD is going to undermine the CVHS charter, just as they have worked against EVERY School Choice initiative that has emerged in this district for the past 25 years. They aren’t going to change their spots just because the teachers are supporting it.

    The real travesty here is that school districts are allowed to play any role at all in providing “permission” for other alternatives to enter their closed monopoly. Allowing choices in education — the kinds of choices that we exercise in almost every other domain of our lives — represents a clear threat to their hegemony. They know it, and they do everything possible to resist it. I hope that the CVHS petitioners understand what they’re up against.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I have just posted more detail from Tuesday’s meeting and the committee’s response today: http://bit.ly/pHUcmL

  • g

    Mark Weinmann: OK, maybe you’re a “keeper”.

    Yes Gary, the successful schools in the district are successful due to parents, independent thinking teachers and their involvement in the education of their children. NO credit goes to you or your Ego-centric despotism. If they waited for you to make sound decisions for them they would be just like the rest of your mediocre and failing schools.

    Your “approval with conditions” is in essence a denial of the application. I hope the Charter treats this as a “denial” and appeals straight up the chain.

    Thank you though for your oppressive list of conditions based on the usual brand of unsound District legal counsel. You have created a precedent setting framework showing more schools how to best get away from your mismanagement.

    Ms Mayo and Ms Dennler: Due diligence would have meant agreeing to Ms Hansen’s well considered request to go into a study session before voting, and that is exactly what you should have done. The final speaker asked you to take that advice and come back at another meeting date. Were you even listening–or have you just toed the line and held onto shirttails for so long you can no longer do quick-think on your own?

    Whitmarsh: So, you had a “lot” of people tell you they didn’t like the idea, huh? Was that really the best excuse you could come up with? I’m holding back the expletives, you sad foot-stomping envy-laden little Anon-girl.

  • Doctor J

    @Mark W. #12 BRAVO
    @Jim #13 Kudos
    @Theresa #14 Thanks for filling in the details.
    @G #15 Spot on.
    @Cheryl. Nice try to get more dialog but in the end voting for the conditions was non sensical.
    @Gary, a chink in your armour when you gave him two minutes, but it was a farce and everyone knew it.
    @Sherry & Linda M: gutless
    @Lynne D: they played you like a fiddle. Stand up for what is right.

  • CVHS Mom

    Doctor J, while I normally enjoy your rants. You are wrong about brothers. Most I have talked to like her style very much. She has brought positive change on campus. What have you heard in your capacity that she is not doj g a good job? I’m curious, because as a parent I only wish they’d gotten someone like her LONG ago!

  • Say what?

    So…. Who else thinks the mayor of clay cord must have made a deal with the MDUSD board? Other than in comments, which are heavily moderated and restricted, there is really none of the negative ( and in this case factual) stories as in the past. Thank you theresa for allowing this forum.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I spoke to Brothers on Friday and she said she is very happy as a site administrator.
    She also said she is tackling the dress code issue and that there are no student problems.
    Her main academic focus is to bring up math proficiency. She said a new campus advisory committee will meet Tuesday to discuss the academic plans.
    If she were there for more than one year, she said she would focus on restructuring the six-period day to allow for more rigorous classes, so students could fulfill A-G U.C. requirements, while also participating in band, student government and other valuable activities.
    She said she has heard no complaints from parents about her management style.

  • CVHS Mom

    Thanks Theresa, though as I mentioned on the other thread, she did call our attention to 11 drug suspensions, do you know how that compares to other schools?

  • g

    Say What @18: It isn’t the entire Board. He is pretty tight with Eberhart personally, as is his blog-buddy Gensburger.

  • Say What2?

    Gary can be very manipulative. I would guess Gary does not know M…Mayor personally (as in real friendship) but he does likely know who he is, so maybe Gary holds that as a threat.

    I often wonder why the Times doesn’t do an expose on the mayor.

  • Say What2?

    Oh and Gensberger…. Ever try to follow his blog? Wow. And how he can manage a local paper while living in Idaho is a bit of a mystery, does anyone read it? But I have noticed he is one of Gary’s biggest butt kissers even though he is also very critical of education in general.

  • Doctor J

    @CVHS Mom, Sue Brothers will NOT commit to being at CVHS for FIVE years. She has a secret deal with Lawrence to become the next Director of SASS Secondary, and then to become an Asst Supt, all within two years. Mark my words.