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Clayton Valley charter supporters ask to be placed on Tuesday MDUSD board agenda

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, September 26th, 2011 at 5:31 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

After meeting with Deb Cooksey, Rose Lock and Julie Braun-Martin last Wednesday, the Clayton Valley High School Charter Committee hoped their proposal to accelerate the approval process for the charter petition would be placed on the Sept. 27 district board meeting agenda.

Here is a copy of an e-mail sent by Clayton Mayor David Shuey to the board today, expressing his disappointment in the district’s failure to address this request on tomorrow night’s agenda:

“Subject: September 27 meeting on Clayton Valley High School Charter Petition

Dear Gary, Sherry, Lynne, Linda, Cheryl,

As you know, on Friday, September 23 in the early morning I sent a request to all of you and Superintendent Lawrence requesting that the charter petition be added to the agenda for September 27, 2011 for a: ‘brief discussion and hopeful confirmation of a joint good faith timeline for approval or denial of the petition at your October 25, 2011 meeting. We would also like to, again briefly, ask the Board take up boardmember Hansen’s request that a study session or subcommittee of the Board be allowed to meet with the charter group in the interim before the October 25 meeting to further narrow down and hopefully reach tentative agreement on the issues. I make this request as quickly as was possible following our meeting two days ago with staff and our subsequent charter Executive Board/steering committee meeting. As there should be little or no need for an extensive staff report on this, I foresee no reason this cannot be added to the agenda this morning to allow inclusion in staff’s agenda package that will come out this evening.’

Therefore, you can imagine my disappointment when the agenda was finally posted (not sure when it was actually posted but it was not done until at least late afternoon or evening on Friday) to see we were not posted on the agenda. As a result, I and several others will be coming to your meeting to make some public comments on this tomorrow. We contemplated getting another large group of students, parents and community to come out like in the public meetings, but ultimately decided that just a few of us will come to voice our displeasure and to request further action and confirmation of the process going forward on this matter.

As I noted in my prior email, we were ‘disappointed in the Board’s de-facto denial of our petition, but were encouraged by the public and private comments of the Board and staff that there is a desire to make this work as a collaborative effort between the district and the charter. I would also like to thank Deb, Rose and Julie for meeting with us on Wednesday to go over our concerns and seek a mutually agreeable good faith resolution. I think some good progress was made in both sides understanding the concerns and positions better and laying the groundwork for a potentially mutually agreeable set of conditions that will allow charter approval for opening in 2012-2013. I will point out again that while the charter group feels many of the requested conditions are contrary to the law and requirements for charter approval, we are moving forward in good faith [without waiving our objections of course 🙂 – sorry that is the lawyer in me] to try and resolve our issues so that the district can be the approving body and we can benefit each other going forward. We also believe that some of the requested further information may be impossible to achieve to the degree desired of staff, but we will endeavor to provide as much information as possible and hope that you and staff will see the sufficiency of what is provided. An illustration of this, which may help in your understanding of some of our dilemmas, and which was discussed extensively with staff, is the condition that we provide you with a list and credentials for the teachers who will be hired by the charter. Given the fact that under the Board’s decision, there is no charter approved as the Board could vote in February to deny the petition, we cannot go out and become an official organization with the State to allow us to obtain our loans and lines of credit to begin operations. As such, we cannot hire our CEO/Principal and/or any staff. Thus, we also cannot be expected to be able to provide you with a list of teachers. Given the Board’s position on leave of absences, no teacher would or could be expected to make a decision when there is the potential there will be no charter approved. This is similar for any outside teachers who would be hired. Ms. Cooksey indicated she would be checking on this issue and get back to us on a potential resolution of the conundrum, but we will endeavor to provide as much information as to those teachers and credentials who we believe will be hired and the process and qualifications we will adhere to and require in hiring. Let me also point out that much of the requested specificity requested in the conditions may have similar constraints as without our CEO/Principal, staff and further committee due diligence on planning we find it difficult to provide all specific means by which we intend to meet our goals. This is why the petition has always had an opening of 2012-2013 so that we can due our proper due diligence in planning. Nevertheless, we will endeavor to provide as much specificity as possible regarding the means and processes by which we will achieve our goals.

Because of the tremendous amount of burden, time, energy and effort that will be required to provide further requested information to the district by October 12, 2011 (which we have committed to as part of our obligation under the accelerated timeline), we need the Board’s action confirming the timeline so that we do not expend this energy in vain. We believe that staff understood and agreed in principle to this accelerated timeline in our meeting on Wednesday, we know that ultimately the Board must also approve. This is why we must have this item on the agenda for September 27, 2011 so that we can move forward as proposed.

Finally, I want to again applaud Deb, Rose and Julie for their good faith efforts in meeting and discussing these issues with us on Wednesday and their agreement to continue to work with us going forward. I would also like to thank Mr. Eberhart for his attendance at our public rally/information on Wednesday night. I have received numerous feedback from citizens who were happy to see his interest in obtaining more information and apparent willingness to work with us to achieve a mutually agreeable resolution. I hope we can continue this as part of a study session/board subcommittee as we are requesting for Tuesday.’

What is necessary for two sides to work together in good faith is both actions and words, and what we have from your side is words that, unfortunately, don’t come with guarantees of good faith. Alas, it seems like we are continually forced to meet and decide how to respond to actions on your part that appear geared not toward a mutual resolution, but a continued delaying tactic. While this may not be true, and you may not see it this way, if you put yourself in our shoes you can see how it would appear given the history.

Nevertheless, despite our fears regarding the district’s motives, we are moving forward with the timeline of providing the district with our responses to your conditions on October 12, 2011. This will allow staff and the board to review them in time to make a final and definitive decision to unequivocally approve or deny the petition at your October 25, 2011 meeting. Proof of your good faith will be evident or not at that meeting. Certainly, your opportunity to take action on a study session or to select a subcommittee to meet with us to help define, narrow and resolve outstanding issues has been compromised but I will obviously leave that to you going forward. Perhaps there is still time tomorrow to appoint a subcommittee to continue the meet and confer efforts we have commenced with staff.

I once again implore each of you to understand that this charter is almost unanimously desired by the community, that the charter petition is solid and based on tried, tested and true successful charters in the state, and that we desire to work with you as the approving agency to help each other reach greater academic heights. With little or no public opposition against this charter, we should be working together to make it the best charter available and not working against each other. I only hope that in the end you prove your words with your actions.

I also once again renew my offer to discuss and/or meet with any of you individually to go over this matter and see if a mutual resolution can be achieved.

Thank you for your time and attention to this issue.

David “Shoe” Shuey
City of Clayton”

NOTE: The board is also meeting at 7 p.m. tonight to discuss strategic planning. Public comment will be allowed at the beginning of this meeting.

Two of five areas of focus in the draft strategic plan are “Supportive Family and Community Involvement” and “Respectful, Responsive Service and Communication.”

Here’s what the draft says regarding these:

“Supportive Family and Community Involvement:

MDUSD will actively build strong relationships with students, families, and
the community to increase trust, shared responsibility, and a positive perception of our district.

MDUSD will use multiple methods of communication and engagement to reach all stakeholders and increase opportunities for meaningful community input and participation to advance student achievement and learning in all subject areas.

Goals / Specific Results

2.1 Use multiple, regular methods of communication and engagement to reach all

2.2 Ensure that our communications are honest, accurate, thorough, and accessible to the public.

2.3 Increase opportunities for meaningful community input and participation.

2.4 Cultivate community, business, and higher education partnerships that advance student achievement in all subject areas.

2.5 Increase collaboration with cities, businesses, and the community to build a
community that supports and values education.

2.6 Achieve a positive perception of MDUSD among parents and community members and ensure that parents consider MDUSD a ‘preferred place’ to meet their educational needs.

2.7 Engage and involve parents in their children’s education to create shared
responsibilities for student success…”

“Respectful, Responsive Service and Communication:

MDUSD district and site staff will be responsive and respectful while providing outstanding service to co-workers, students, parents, and community members.

District and site staff will proactively seek opportunities to improve communication and customer service. Every person who interacts with MDUSD should be treated with dignity, respect, and courtesy.

Goals / Specific Results

4.1 Assess, adopt, and improve practices that encourage respectful, responsive
customer service.

4.2 Improve communication, both internally and externally, ensuring that community members, parents, students, and employees receive information, responses to inquiries, and services in a timely, efficient manner.

4.3 Improve employee morale by strengthening internal communications.

4.4 Ensure that employees consider MDUSD a ‘preferred place’ (culture and climate) to work.

4.5 Ensure that parents consider MDUS a ‘preferred place’ to meet their educational needs.

4.6 Diligently monitor and report progress on strategic plan initiatives to gain trust,
promote dialogue, and determine success.

4.7 Increase the use of technology to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of
communication throughout the organization.”

Do you think the board should address the Clayton Valley High School Charter Committee’s request as an emergency item tomorrow (which could be posted 24 hours in advance)?

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