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Clayton Valley charter committee requests more dialogue with district

By Theresa Harrington
Wednesday, September 14th, 2011 at 6:33 pm in Clayton, Concord, Education.

At the Mt. Diablo school board meeting Tuesday, trustees unanimously agreed to approve the Clayton Valley High School charter petition, subject to numerous conditions that must be met by February.

Here is a link to video of the staff presentation regarding the conditions by staff attorney Deb Cooksey:

Cooksey was explaining the points in this PowerPoint presentation:

Due to limited storage space on my cell phone and limited battery power, I was unable to videotape the entire meeting.

However, here are a few clips I got:

Beginning of committee presentation:

Explanation of some education programs by CVHS teacher Cate Sundling:

Eighteen people spoke, including 17 in favor of the petition and one against.

Before any board discussion, Trustee Sherry Whitmarsh made a motion to approve the petition with conditions. Trustee Linda Mayo seconded the motion.

Trustee Cheryl Hansen said she would like to amend the motion to postpone the decision so the board could hold a study session with the petitioners to further discuss the conditions. No other trustee agreed with this idea.

Trustee Lynne Dennler said the size of the district contributed to the charter movement, along with poor communication between schools and the district office. She said labor contracts that can inhibit quick, inexpensive actions from taking place at schools. She did not specifically address the conditions.

Trustee Linda Mayo said she appreciated the efforts the charter committee had made. However, she said she would put her faith in the staff attorney, who supported the conditions of approval. She was specifically concerned about the financial plan, which she said needed to be better explained.

Trustee Sherry Whitmarsh also expressed concerns regarding the proposed budget. She said she had heard from some district parents who urged her to deny the petition.

“I hope the staff will come up with a charter that will meet the conditions and will greatly alleviate the fears of the board and the fears of other parents in the district,” she said.

Board President Gary Eberhart said there was an “amazing energy around trying to make change at Clayton Valley High.” He praised the parent and community involvement in the effort.

“The schools that are truly successful are the schools that have a high degree of parental involvement — there’s no question about that,” he said. “So, that is a huge benefit.”

He said trustees were placing some faith in the charter organizers, but that the plan lacked specificity.

“Think of it this way,” he said. “If a school district said: ‘We are going to do something completely different at a high school — without specificity — it would be rejected by the community and rejected by the staff. We have the responsibility that when we say, ‘yes,’ that we say yes to something we believe is going to reasonably succeed. We are very inspired by the amount of advocacy that we see.”

He said, however, that the plan should be able to stand on its own, without depending on the committee members’ reputations.

“I’m enthusiastic about this,” he said, adding that he thought it would be successful, after more specificity was added to the plans.

“I hope we are not clouding each others’ vision so it will make it difficult to work together,” he said. “I think working together is going to be beneficial. This could be an amazing opportunity for this district. It could be an amazing opportunity for this to continue. And asking that we get a little further down the road on this process is not unreasonable.”

Charter attorney Paul Minney asked to address the board. At first, Eberhart appeared reluctant to let him speak, since public comment had ended. But Hansen said she thought more dialogue between the board and the petitioners would be beneficial.

Eberhart gave Minney two minutes to speak.

“Honestly,” Minney said, “in 18 years, this is the first time I was told the district was going to accept conditions that the committee has said they cannot accept. The petitioners may consider it a denial.”

He asked the board to consider modifying the conditions and returning to vote on them Sept. 27.

“There’s only a few in here that give us heartburn, some of which can be resolved,” he said. “The way it’s being constructed right now is we would essentially be delayed to February to find out if we’re going to be approved.”

The board then vote on the motion and unanimously approved the charter, subject to the conditions outlined in this resolution:

Today, I spoke to Clayton Mayor David Shuey and CVHS teacher Neil McChesney, who said the charter committee plans to ask the district to reconsider the idea of modifying the conditions. They sent me the following statement from the committee:

“We were extremely disappointed in a meeting that appeared to have a pre-ordained outcome from the outset. Despite overwhelming community, teacher and staff support, as well as a charter petition that is based on tried, tested and true successful charter high schools in the State, the School Board effectively denied the petition by stating it was approving with conditions. The concern is that the conditions are subjective, unrealistic, and in some places illegal. The group feels that the decision is a de-facto denial of the petition since they cannot legally impose the conditions they did without the charter’s approval, which was not given. The charter is working on a more comprehensive and detailed response to the Board’s denial of the petition and will provide this to the District and public in the interests of full disclosure. In short, we will urge the District Board to support a more succinct list of objective conditions upon which the charter school and the district can agree.”

I also received this statement from the California Charter Schools Association:

“The California Charter Schools Association fully supports the charter as put forward by the Clayton Valley Charter High School petitioners. We have been working with the teacher-led team throughout this process, including reviewing their petition, which we have found to be fully comprehensive. Unfortunately, the district has unilaterally imposed conditions on its approval that call for a level of detail far beyond what is required by law or necessary.

We have seen many districts use these sorts of tactics to arbitrarily delay quality petitions in recent years. Given the clear support for this petition from the teachers, parents and community, we urge the school board to work with the petitioners to approve a set of mutually agreed upon conditions that are consistent with charter law.”

Do you think the Mt. Diablo school board should reconsider the conditions of approval?

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

57 Responses to “Clayton Valley charter committee requests more dialogue with district”

  1. Mark Weinmann Says:

    To answer your question, Theresa, yes. I just read the Governing Board of the Charter School’s response through their attorney which seems to rebut or adequately explain manhy of the issues raised by MDUSD’s conditions. I think more dialogue on these ands a re-vote is necessary. I ma convinced wityh the level of involvment and the public attention to ht echartter school that they would not geat wawy with what the board is implying here. However, by approving with these conditions, they have certainly shown that they intend to try and make then fail so they can tell them in February, “we told you so…”

  2. Linda L Says:

    Yes, they should reconsider. MDUSD has had years to solve the problems at CV and chose to do nothing. Let those with the most at stake take over now. This is a game being played by MDUSD at the expense of the students. A former board member once told me that of course a charter school can do it better, they don’t have all the ridiculous mandates to follow.

    Things like requiring a Single Plan for Student Achievement is ridiculous. This is a highly bureaucratic, mandated, 500 page document that gets re-re-reproduced at every school site each October… and never looked at the rest of the year. I am certain there are better ways to address student achievement.

    It is time for MDUSD to admit they failed that community and do the right thing by approving the charter.

  3. Number Eight Says:

    This is a tactic for the district to preserve the all-mighty district. No one is fooled. They stomped on the community, students, families, and teachers. On TV to confuse the issue Gary said the district would lose $1.7 million. Where were these financials during the meeting, huh?

  4. MDUSD Should Be Ashamed Says:

    When even MDEA’s Mike Langley writes a $500 check in support of this effort and famous fence-sitter, Laura Hoffmeister is spotted wearing a CVCHS shirt at the meeting, you know the jig is up. The District will try any underhanded methods it can to keep control but it’s clear that the CV community will prevail. MDUSD can either be a part of it (and, perhaps, learn something) or not and continue providing a crap education to the children of this District all in the interest of control and power-mongering.

  5. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Number 8: I asked the committee why the revenue issue wasn’t part of the staff report and was told it was because that is not grounds for denial.
    It is also interesting that the district is asking for CVHS charter supporters to provide plans for suspensions and expulsions, serving special ed, English language learners and low-income children.
    The district itself is in the process of trying to come up with its own plans around these issues. Its transportation plan for special education students is seriously flawed (as was pointed out by a parent who spoke about his son being left stranded at school).
    The district is in the process of developing an English Learner Master plan because it has failed to adequately educate those students.
    It is also developing an Equity Plan because it has been singled out by the state for disproportionately identifying black and Latino students for special education, suspensions and explulsions.
    Many of the district’s low-income children attend Program Improvement schools, including six that have been identified as among the lowest-achieving in the state.
    In addition, I spoke to Susan Peterson about how she turned around Delta View Elementary when she was principal. She acknowledged that it wasn’t because of the Single Plan for Student Achievement, which was broad and general. Instead, she said the school came up with more specific action plans related to changing the culture at the school.

  6. Blue Shirt Says:

    One of the things that I didn’t understand at the meeting was how MDUSD spaeker said that the Clayton Vally Charter would not have enough money to operate past April of each fisal year. Gary Eberhart complained to the news reporters before the meeting that the CVHS Charter would be taking too much money from the disrict causing a shortfall at other schools. Which one is it?

    I also was confused by the minutiae that MDUSD wanted in the Charter proposal. They had slide after slide of questions such as who would be providing scoliosis screening to the students. Does that belong in a charter proposal? I don’t think so. I would hate to have my hands tied by these ridiculous early decisions that will limit the adaptability of CVCHS. Flexibility and a lack of bureaucracy is one of the most important benefits of a locally run school.

    Why did MDUSD have unlimited time to drone on with teir almost 40 slide show presentation while the CVCHS lawyers and experts had to split 10 minutes between three men with the answers to MDUSD’s questions.

    I did appreciate MDUSD’s Cheryl Hansen. She listened and had reasonable requests. She alone will have my vote. I was disappointed in the rest of the MDUSD Board.

  7. MDUSD Should Be Ashamed Says:

    Maybe the District is hoping that the CVCHS Steering Committee will come up with a sensible plan that THEY can then follow…since they obviously can’t do so themselves.

  8. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I received an email questioning my comment regarding Delta View and it’s Single Plan for Student Achievement.
    In response, here is a link to the blog post that includes information from my interview with Susan Petersen, then principal of Delta View:
    Petersen talked about the importance of the detailed plans the school developed. I asked what was different between that and the Single Plan for Student Achievement, which had always been in place at the school (in other words, why wasn’t the school able to achieve its goals based on that plan?)
    I want to clarify that that the Single Plan for Student Achievement was likely the foundation for the more targeted action plans that Petersen described.
    Also, Rose Lock has said to me that the district has lots of plans, but doesn’t always implement them with fidelity. This is something the district is working on.

  9. Just J Says:

    I think you are right…..MDUSD wants to see what the charter is doing because they want to use it. They are wrong on so many levels. They have issues with their software so they have no idea where the students are in school. I had a school call me the first 2 days telling me my child was not there when he was not enrolled there. A friend of mine has a son at College Park when she called this week they tried to look her kid up and said he was not enrolled, but he has been in class everyday and has a schedule. We have students going without IEP’s or some that do are not placed properly we have bussing issues, we are failing to identify kids that need intervention, we have kids that are disproportionately identified black and Latino students, we have kids going without books, we have teachers making up their own Curriculum, we have frustrated employees at the District office….should I keep going oh yea on top of all that we have Special ed kids that can’t get picked up or dropped off with their bussing and I had a Sp. Ed assitant tell me that she is not allowed on the bus to help the child anymore the driver who can’t get the kid to the right place has to help the kid….hmmmmm I think I smell diaster. And people want to know why we want the Charter. If you want more I have more. 🙂

  10. Just J Says:

    I forgot Way to go Mike from MDEA and Laura Mayor of Concord for showing support! I think the Charter has succesfully showed just how many people are going to be involved! I would be extremly happy to have my tax dollars going to them rather than the District!!!

    Theresa, Did the District e-mail you to question you on your comment?

  11. Concord resident Says:

    In regards to Laura Hoffmeister, she works for the city of Clayton. Her boss is the Clayton city council. Not to support may have an impact on her job. Of course Mideast supports because the teachers are staying with the union.

  12. David "Shoe" Shuey Mayor of Clayton Says:

    I am gearing up for trial in my other job as a lawyer (start the comments I can take it) so I apologize for not being able to give a full breakdown of all the issues with this de-facto denial by the District, but a couple of quick points.

    A. The charter group was not going to get any time to respond to staff’s report until I spoke with Mr. Eberhart and asked for a reasonable time to respond be allowed. He was reluctant to do so as he was concerned about the precedent for future Boards, but ultimately agreed to allow 10 minutes.

    B. A quick read of the “denial” conditions shows approximately 34 different conditions they wanted, some with multiple subparts. By comparison, the County’s ultimate contract with the Flex Academy , to which the Academny agreed to, was as follows:

    1. Minimum enrollment of 125 students

    2. startup cash flow of $650,000

    3. redrafting the student intervention plan 90 days prior to beginning instruction

    4. revising the expulsion policy to include appellate process 90 days before opening and

    5. outlining a plan for facilities 90 days prior to opening

    The contract does give the County Superintendent of schools the authority to determine whether or not these conditions have been met — but further indicates that that approval shall not be unreasonably denied.
    They are different situations in some respects but it is illustrative that the County which has the same “responsibilities” to our children as the District had only 5 conditions with what all who have reviewed both petitions say is a clearly inferior Flex petition, while the District has taken a tried, tested and true petition based on successful charter petitions throughout the State and indicated approximately 34 different conditions.

    Just a couple of quick points. I will post more when I am able.

    And thank you to all of you who have shown such tremendous support for this revolutionary change that is needed for our kids.


  13. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Just J: No, it was not the district. However, it was someone familiar with Delta View and with Single Plans for Student Achievement.
    The person thought I was implying that such plans are not important. That is not what I meant. Instead, I was questioning their effectiveness.
    In the case of Delta View, a more targeted action plan helped the school accomplish its goals.
    Every Program Improvement school also had a Single Plan for Student Achievement before it entered Program Improvement. For some reason, these plans were not succeeding.
    Under No Child Left Behind, Program Improvement schools have had to develop more comprehensive, targeted plans, which have included restructuring. Rio Vista Principal Susan Valdez told me the restructuring at that school has led to some of the great gains there.

  14. Another MDUSD Mom Says:

    Every school has a Single Plan for Student Acheivement. They are not important “as is” and they are flawed in their structure. What I mean by that is that the plan is centered around three goals, 2 of which are mandated and all are based on improvement of Star test scores. So in reality Site Council meets for the first time in September (90 min) to review the test results and to address the goals. In October (90 min) they approve all expenditures related to the plan, and in November it is sent to the District. It is never reviewed again because there are no results against benchmarks until August (2 months past the end of the school year)when it is too late to do anything.

  15. g Says:

    “Shoe”: Considering the masterful accomplishments of the Charter organizers in such a short amount of time, I think it is, on the one hand, commendable of you to even ask again that the District sit down with you to try to hash this out before Feb. On the other hand, where is their guarantee that they won’t invent a reason to postpone that meeting for a couple of weeks (or even To a Date Uncertain), just as they extended this last one. I think they are employing a “stall” to Feb. that would make it nearly impossible to get approval through the County in time to make for an August school opening. Even though most interested parties at the County level may be fully apprised of what is going on here, they cannot sit down and officially study and recommend on an approval until CVCHS makes a “formal” request. It can then, under the best of circumstances, take 60 days to get their go-ahead; at which time MDUSD could use several tactics that I can think of to say the school cannot be prepared to be “turned over” in less than another 60-90 days. Voila, you’re into September with no facilities.

    If the District won’t work with you to completely settle this issue within 10 days, please give them the boot and go directly up the chain. Then be prepared to serve the District with papers to force them to have the school ready for occupancy by 8/1 at the latest.

  16. David "Shoe" Shuey Mayor of Clayton Says:


    We are working on two fronts as we go forward.
    1. We will continue to move forward in good faith attempts to meet and confer with the District to reach a resolution of conditions that both the charter and district can agree on. If both parties agree then they can approve with those conditions unlike the de-facto denial of the other evening since the charter did not agree to those conditions. The District made many public statements (From the Board and from Deb Cooksey) that they want this to succeed and don’t want to deny. Well, the proof will be in the pudding if they are willing to meet and confer.
    2. We are preparing our appeal to the County and will file it if the District does not meet and confer or attempts to delay as you indicated.

    Honestly, we want to work with the District on this as we do see it ultimately being beneficial to continue the relationship, but we will not hesitate to appeal as the most important thing is to be CVCHS in 2012!

  17. g Says:

    “Shoe”; While the Board spoke most specifically about concerns over your budget, I have not seen anything to indicate that they have provided the Charter organizers with the District’s actual costs to run the school so that you might deduce what they would charge you for that or figure what would be your 1-2% administration costs. Did they provide that to aid you in calculating a major portion of your budget?

  18. Doctor J Says:

    @Shoe, personally I think you file an immediate appeal and while the county is working on the appeal, you attempt to meet with the district to resolve — you can always withdraw the appeal if you reach a resolution. Get the time running on the appeal. Cooksey and the Board were just talking out of both sides of their mouths. Everyone of these issues could have been resolved by sitting down and disucssing. The Board never let that happen. The end result was “pre-ordained” — BEFORE Board disucussion, an immediate motion and second to approve WITH ONEROUS CONDITIONS. Gee whiz, what happened to the Brown Act ?

  19. anon Says:

    Why would CVCHS even want the district to be the one to approve the charter? I would think that they would prefer to have another, more supportive/friendly, organization be the overseeing body of their charter school. Additionally, each proposal from the district listed the time frame for renewal as 3 years, which is shorter than the original figure thrown around of 5 years, and doesn’t really give much time for change since the data collection for renewal would be based on numbers after only a couple of years. I see nothing productive about trying to “work things out” with the district. It looks like they just want to create hoops to try and jump through that aren’t even necessary = stall tactics.

  20. Doctor J Says:

    Where are the “RECALL” petitions for Gary, Linda M., and Sherry ? They are no better than Rose Bird and Cruz Reynoso and gang from former Jerry Brown days. A recall election is cheaper than all of the money spent by the Board to oppose the CVCHS Charter ! Lets stop the bull and the crap. PLus the current board isn’t even standing up to the SIG Grant denials nor to the revelation this week that $175,000 plus was lost because they didn’t manage the purchasing of the textbooks. Who is in charge of that ? Isn’t the Greg Rolen of the Gang of Five ? Plus Greg’s transportation director and M&O director just had to take a “sudden leave of abscence.” Greg, you really know how to master employees, just like you tried to master you wife. Didn’t work too good did it ? MDUSD deseerves the Golden Fleece Award !

  21. Just J Says:

    Sorry about my earlier post being so squished together and run on (I was upset when I was typing) I think we were getting on to something. The shortfalls of the District. They are failing our kids all over the place. The District want to know about Special Ed and English Language learniers. I know I read a report that that said we were failing these kids. Can anyone add to this? I know they do not identify “at risk kids” and if they do they give them a little more of the same and move on. By the time a kid is in 3rd grade if they are not reading at grade level they say Oh well now we need to move on.

    How can the District inpose these things when they don’t do it for them?

    Personally I feel more confident with the Charter that they will serve all children. I myself have a child in Special Ed “Resource” and feel confident that I will have a local high school for him!

  22. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I spoke to County Superintendent Joe Ovick at the Teacher of the Year awards dinner last night (Foothill MS teacher Sue Noce was a finalist) and he said the petitioners can’t appeal to the county unless MDUSD denies their petition.
    Since the district has essentially approved it with conditions, the county can’t take it up at this time, he said.
    I also spoke to MDUSD Superintendent Steven Lawrence and trustees Cheryl Hansen and Linda Mayo (Hansen and Mayo were volunteering at the registration tables).
    Lawrence said he hasn’t received any formal request from the petitioners for reconsideration.
    Mayo said she would need to see the request before deciding whether she would consider amending the previous resolution.
    Hansen said she has already sent an email to Lawrence and Board President Gary Eberhart asking for a board study session to try to reduce the number of conditions. She said she voted “yes” because she wanted to approve the petition and she thought if she voted “no,” it might give people the perception that she opposed it. However, her ultimate goal was to postpone the vote so the district could discuss the conditions with the petitioners, she said.

  23. Doctor J Says:

    What can the taxpayers do ? Recall.
    What can the charter petitioners do ? Appeal. The Board can’t impose 10,000 impossible conditions on the charter and expect that they can’t appeal that. Sounds like a court battle getting ready.

  24. Wait a minute Says:

    This is all just a tactic by the MDUSD meant to stall and run the Charter out of money by making them spend money on fighting to get approval. On big monkey wrench basically.

    I think the charter folks should lobby Rep George Miller to help them. All its going to take is a call from Miller to the Federal Prosecutor to start a Federal investigation on Stevie’s Lawrence’s perjurious lies on the SIG Grant Assuarances for Federal monies stating that “negotiations” had started with MDEA 2 years ago about increasing instructional time that never happened.

    Then there is the whole Measure C Solar debacle which was basically a conspiracy to steer that contract to Chevron. Peterson also had to sign Assuarances on the Crebs. The funny thing is when people are looking at doing time they ususally start cooperating and that could implicate a whole lot of other people!

  25. Just J Says:

    Wait A Minute: That is an excellant idea. I was just thinking about writing George Miller. Perhaps we should all do it.

  26. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: I just had a call from a very upset parent who said she was told at her elementary Back to School night that there were no math workbooks because the district forgot to order them, then ordered them late, so didn’t receive enough for all schools.
    She said she was told by her child’s teacher that schools with the lowest API scores were given books and those with higher APIs were not. So, parents are making copies of the books to share.
    “This is insanity,” she said.

  27. Wait a minute Says:

    It must be an elementary or middle school because if was a HS then CVHS is the number 1,2,3 priority for STU.

    Or maybe it was in the SIG Grant that PI schools get the workbooks and non-PI schools don’t, LOL.

  28. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It was a high-performing elementary school.

  29. Just J Says:

    Wow!!!! This is complete insanity. Talk about discrimination. I would be so ANGRY. Actually I am angered just by the post. Just one more thing the District can’t get right. I say we all need to stand up and give them a what for. How can we sit by and watch what they are doing to children any and all children deserve to be put first!

  30. Wendy Lack Says:

    Recent press release from the CCSA (California Charter Schools Association):

  31. NO MDUSD Math Workbooks! Says:

    Theresa, I don’t know if this is the same school that parent called you from, but Sequoia Elementary did not receive their math workbooks either. This is absurd. The teachers are having to copy the pages for each child–as if they don’t have enough other things to do.

  32. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, the parent was from Sequoia Elem.

  33. cv anon Says:

    No elementary workbooks? How about not enough Calculus textbooks at CV? Maybe the District is trying to transfer the textbooks around with the same people that are handling the Special Ed bus situation…Isn’t the definition of “crazy” doing the same thing over and over expecting a different response?

  34. g Says:

    Wendy Lack: Thanks for the link. I think they should have take their opinion one step farther and through direct correspondence, remind the MDUSD Board, District Legal Counsel, and Superintendent Ovick as well, of the timeline required by law.

    As I read it at the CCSA website:

    “Once submitted, the district has 30 days to hold a hearing on the charter petition and another 30 days to make a FINAL decision. Extensions may be granted by MUTUAL CONSENT up to a TOTAL of 90 days.” [my emphasis]

    The Petitioners agreed to one small time delay already. No matter how you cut it, February is pushing out into the neighborhood of 200 days!

    Surely Dr. Ovick of all people should be aware of this and intervene TODAY!

  35. Doctor J Says:

    @Theresa #26 — Photocopying copywrited materials are violations of Federal copywrite laws. The story I heard was simply that they were ordered from the wrong vendor and to correct it will cost the District over $175,000. The parents ought to demand a full and honest explanation and demand to see the documents. Another clear case of the district spending way too much time on irrellevant things and not enough on the essentials.

  36. Doctor J Says:

    Every upset parent ought to call the Supt, Greg Rolen, Rose Locke — I would suggest calling both cell phones and office phones because some of them leave early on Fridays. Demand full and detailed written explanations. Its clearly not the schools fault. Illegal copying of copywrited material — not exactly the way you teach respect and obedience to the law.

  37. Number Eight Says:

    G #34,
    Assume Shoe and the other lawyers can go to a Judge for a writ of mandate or whatever legal procedure and get monetary sanctions against the district.

  38. Wait a minute Says:

    Your right Dr J, copyright violations are a matter of Federal Law. I would urge everyone to also call Rep George Miller’s office and urge him to follow up with the Federal Prosecutor on all these violations of Federal Laws going on in the MDUSD.

    Everyone concerned should also do a Williams Act complaint that their schools are not providing the materials necessary to their children. Williams Act complaints are actually pretty powerful since it obliges the MDUSD to also report the violations to both the County Office of Ed and the state Dpt of Ed.

  39. CVHS Mom Says:

    I am 1000% behind the charter efforts and if ever I was on the fence before I am firmly in the charter camp now after that pitiful display at the board meeting the other night. It was a manipulation pure and simple and the board should be ashamed, but of course they aren’t. To not even discuss Hansens sensible suggestion? Get a damn board study session scheduled stat. Then follow up with a joint charter-MDUSD study session to review the conditions and the charter response. Get a new vote scheduled.

    By the way, as a total aside, at BTS night the principal mentioned that in just these last three weeks there have been 11 suspensions for marijuana. I’m curious how that compares to other schools? I do think Sue Brothers is doing a great job.,.. It’s unfortunate the school and the concerns were ignored so long. My kids have been telling me for years that drugs are a huge issue on campus, I hope the 11 suspensions signals tougher crack downs on these kids.

  40. Theresa Harrington Says:

    When I was covering the special education bus issue, I saw a Concord High School Resource police officer on a bike patrolling through nearby neighborhoods, in response to resident complaints about students hanging out and smoking.
    In the past, the Northgate principal has also mentioned that marijuana smoking was a problem with some students.
    The district will be sponsoring a free Parent Information Night regarding the dangers of smoking on Wednesday, Nov. 28 at the Willow Creek Center.
    Regarding dialogue: Pat Middendorf told me Friday that the charter organizers have met with George Miller and that Deb Cooksey has agreed to meet with them on Wednesday. A charter rally is planned for Wednesday night, Middendorf said.

  41. CVHS Mom Says:

    Oh oops, sorry for my follow up on the ore thread, I see here you addressed the drug issue. I do see cvhs kids before and after school smoking in nearby neighborhoods so hopefull CPD will keep in it at other schools too.

  42. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Each school has its own Resource Officer, I believe.
    If neighbors tell police where students are smoking, officers will have a better chance of addressing the problem.
    In the instance I cited near Concord HS, neighbors said the students regularly hung out in a secluded area that included a basketball hoop.
    But, they weren’t playing basketball.
    The police are also beginning to enforce Concord’s new truancy law. For the first offense, they will give a warning, the officer said.

  43. Anon Says:

    On the missing workbook issue, I can tell you that the district had no idea there was a problem until just days before school started. Teachers came back to school, (working for free to get ready) and discovered there were no workbooks. Principals contacted the district and were given several reasons why they weren’t there. After much BSing, the district finally came clean with the truth, (hopefully). Every spring the district puts in an order to their publishers for the next years needs for workbooks. Someone at the district faxed an order in, and then was promptly laid off. The publisher says they either did not get the order or it was lost. The situation became a problem when no one at the district followed up in any way to confirm the order was received. So, no workbooks. Now the district has to copy each chapter for the schools until the books arrive. This is just another typical fiasco at MDUSD. They always function half-ass-backwards. Oh, and they want to charge the school sites for the copying charges! LOL

  44. Wait a minute Says:

    On the drug issues at CVHS. What’s interesting about this is according to West Sac administrators I talked to, when Stevie Lawrence and Sue Brothers were busy running that district into the ground they told site administrators that they didn’t really have drug or gang problems at their schools.

    Keep in mind that West Sac was the first locality in NorCal to have a gang-injunction put into place by their DA and they have huge drug issues like basically every urban district has!

    I guess when Sue actually has to walk the walk it changes her perspective.

  45. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I spoke to Concord Mayor Laura Hoffmeister tonight (before the California Symphony performance in Todos Santos Plaza) and she confirmed that she is now publicly supporting the Clayton Valley HS charter.
    She said she had been waiting to hear the district present its financial information regarding how much it spends to operate CVHS compared to how much it receives from the state, but was surprised when that issue didn’t come up during the district’s presentation.
    When she learned that the difference in revenues can’t be used as a grounds for denial, she said that made it easier to support the charter.

  46. The Observer Says:


    I agree with CVHS Mom – hold a public study session with the board and have another vote afterwards when all the questions have been addressed, and move forward. The Board, except for Hansen who wanted a study session, wanted no part of any discussion, dialogue, or time on the Charter School Application. Looking at the way Eberhart, Whitmarsh, and Mayo set this up the Board can, in February, say they approved it but, tsk, tsk, the charter group couldn’t comply with the conditions.The other two “options” to accept totally or deny were there as fake cover.

    Did the Board authorize the meeting with Cooksey? If not, it’s meaningless. If they did authorize it, when did they? Or, maybe, it was Eberhart, Whitmarsh, Mayo deciding to do some damage control.

    The charter organizers should demand a study session and another vote. If we are denied that, then a “RECALL” is in order.

  47. Doctor J Says:

    @The Observer: You are spot on: RECALL, RECALL, RECALL. Remember Rose Bird ? It was a powerful message.

  48. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have just posted a letter from Clayton Mayor David Shuey regarding the board’s conditions of approval:

  49. Wait a minute Says:

    I agree with Dr. J and the others, Recall is the only viable option now.

    As they say in the business “Either lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

    This board and their hired guns have proven over and over (with more examples every week) that they cannot lead in any sense of the word.

    They have now proven that they are unwilling to follow or get out of the way by jerking around a grass-roots charter group with massive public support.

    It is clearly now time to remove these people from public service so that others can do the job that they have so thoroughly failed to do!

  50. Bill Storm Says:

    In 2007 I led a charter movement in my school district that met the identical fate as yours in MDUSD. “Conditional approval” was granted in October, and the conditions were subject to our “addressing concerns” and “resolving issues with district staff” as expressed by the board, the question to be reconsidered at a board meeting in January, 2008. Our charter was fully vetted by CCSA, supported by teachers, students and staff, and there were no legal grounds to deny our charter. The charter design was sound and visionary, and we had huge organizational and instructional talent on the start-up board and in the wings to really make the school a huge success.

    We were nervous about the delay for two reasons. First, the calendar delay pushed the appeals calendar such that it made it extremely difficult for us to run the appeals gauntlet in time to open the school the following school year. Second, the BoE’s attorney/consultant had a track record of representing school boards in their efforts to squash charter efforts. However, we made the mistake of trusting the board at their word because we were nervous about antagonizing them and wanting a working relationship with them in the future, plus we decided to assume they were acting in good faith.

    Despite the eventual recommendation by our superintendent and staff to approve the charter, our BoE denied the charter on illegal grounds in January, but as there are no sanctions against boards that violate the law, they had no reason to adhere to it.

    Our one regret was that we did not conclude immediately that the board was denying our charter and file suit to pressure them to approve or deny the charter immediately, especially considering how hard we’d worked to keep district staff involved in our development process. While the suit may have proved untenable, we should have tried the issue in the court of public opinion, recognizing that the board focuses its resources on its political constituency only, and that shedding light on their school financing practices would have yielded a more certain outcome.

    The result is that our districts only majority/minority school is now closed, and the performance of our less affluent and ESL students who were distributed to schools lacking the effective program hosted in their now-shuttered school has suffered significantly. Real flesh and blood children are hurt when well-constituted charter efforts fail, and I hope you can provide the kind of school experience the students of Clayton Valley High School deserve.

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