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Northgate principal enters Clayton Valley charter debate, Clayton Mayor responds to MDUSD board

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, October 11th, 2011 at 6:38 pm in Clayton, Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

As many of you have heard already, Northgate High School Principal John McMorris sent a message to his school community Monday, asking parents to come to tonight’s board meeting and express their concerns about the Clayton Valley High charter petition.

McMorris’ letter quickly made its way to charter supporters. Clayton Mayor David Shuey sent a response to the MDUSD board. Both messages are posted below.



October 10, 2011

Charter School Newsletter

Dear Northgate Community,

I am writing you today with a critical request on an issue that will have a direct negative effect on our students at Northgate High, and for students throughout the Mount Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD): The Clayton Valley High School Charter Proposal.

I do not ask for your support to oppose backers of the Clayton proposal, I believe they are top notch, well intentioned educators who want the best for their students. I ask for your support because if their proposal passes our students and student’s district wide will suffer for the following reasons:

* Funding the Charter School will require MDUSD to pull up to $90 per pupil out of each school in the district to pay for the Charter. This is the rough equivalent of 10 sections at Northgate High or two teachers!

* If Clayton Valley becomes a Charter School, the criteria for dismissing teachers is far less cumbersome that in a non-charter school. This means teachers with tenure who do not want to stay at the Charter or whom the Charter School may not want to keep will have priority rights to move to Northgate, I will have no say in this process and we could lose some great young teachers who I have had the good fortune to hire in the past couple of years.

I desperately ask you to contact our board members via e-mail today or tomorrow, or attend the board meeting tomorrow night and let the board know how you feel about this issue; our board must vote this down unless they can show it will not have a negative impact on the students at Northgate High School. As mentioned earlier, I understand the passion of the backers of the Clayton Valley Charter; I also sincerely believe they can accomplish their goals working together with the district. The new principal of CV Sue Brothers is a top notch educator who is already making wholesale changes at Clayton; the charter backers owe it to all our children to give her a chance.

John McMorris Principal Northgate High School”

From: David T. Shuey
Sent: Monday, October 10, 2011 11:12 PM
Subject: FW: Letter from the Principal – Charter School Newsletter

Gary and all,

Let me say again, REALLY?

This is how you show ‘We are committed to ensuring that the charter school opens in 2012?’

You say we are creating a battle where there is no need? Again, really?

You either have a rogue principal who is sending out legally wrong and factually incorrect information using district resources (in which case I would like to see immediate public discipline and a retraction to all parties who were sent this email) or this is part of a dedicated campaign by the district against the charter petition. Given that Steve and at least Rose were present at a meeting with principals and others last week prior to his ‘news update,’ could anyone blame us if we feel that maybe there is a campaign of misdirection going on from your offices?

Given that Mr. McMorris has his facts wrong about your ability to consider the financial impact on Northgate, I would suggest that you have him send out a retraction immediately.

Also, since our ‘eyes and ears’ throughout the rest of the district will let us know if other principals go rogue or were told to send out their own newsletters so you could get some heretofore nonexistent opposition to show up tomorrow, I would request that you immediately inform them to not send anything out that is incorrect in the law or facts.

At every turn you (ie district not you individually) send out nice little ‘reasoned’responses to what are obvious disinformation and opposition campaign tactics, but each time you top yourself with new acts of contempt for your constituents in Clayton and Concord. Shame on you. I also wonder what Congressman Miller will think of these tactics? Susan Bonilla? Mark DeSaulnier? the DA?

I am composing a very encompassing public records request and it will cover information that was provided to the principals regarding this misinformation campaign, including emails to and from the district. It will also request all information provided to School Services, including the costs of running CV and the savings if the district does not have to pay for its operation. You should probably start shredding now — wait, that is illlegal isn’t it?


David ‘Shoe’ Shuey
Mayor, City of Clayton”

The school board cannot legally deny the charter based on its financial impact to the district. Also, the charter supporters say the district has not shared with them the financial information to which McMorris refers.

What do you think about the message that went to the Northgate community?

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11 Responses to “Northgate principal enters Clayton Valley charter debate, Clayton Mayor responds to MDUSD board”

  1. Wait a Minute Says:

    CLEARLY inappropriate and illegal lobbying by McMorris on behalf of his boss Stevie Lawrence.

    I hope someone makes a Grand Jury complaint against him as he needs to give up the goods on how he was pressured into doing this act of stupidity.

    Keep in mind, E-Mail is called Evidence-Mail by investigators and prosecutors for a reason. Congressmen Miller, Susan Bonilla, Mark DeSaulnier, Tom Torlakson, the DA, Grand Jury members and others have been sent copies of this Evidence-Mail.

    Good job McMorris!

    Remember, whatever promises Stevie made to you will go away as soon as he does.

  2. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have just posted an item about education reform advocate Lance Izumi’s speech to the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association last month:
    In it, Izumi referred to the Clayton Valley HS charter debate.

  3. Carnac Says:

    Answer: Two new board members, a new superintendent, new district fiscal officer, new district counsel, new principals at Northgate and Clayton Valley, and indictments on former board members and district officials for Measure C malfeasance, corruption, violation of the Brown Act, and very possibly the Kellogg-Briand Act

    And the Question is……..

    Carnac sees:

    What will MDUSD have in December 2012

  4. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have just posted an item about the strong involvement of the Clayton City Council in support of the charter:
    Mayor David Shuey’s outspoken support of the charter and public criticism of the school board is unprecedented, in my experience covering the district. Do you believe elected city officials should take on elected school officials over education issues in their communities?

  5. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Times editorial supports charter:

  6. Jim Says:

    It was such a disappointment to see John McMorris’s email. He has done so much good at Northgate, helping to turn it around after years of mismanagement by an indifferent principal and a district administration that was completely unconcerned about the deterioration taking place right before everyone’s eyes. John has worked hard to weed out the worst-performing teachers, motivate the educators who are committed to helping students, fix up the facilities, and re-establish trust with the community. It is heartbreaking to see such an email, with unsubstantiated “facts” and insinuations about effects of the CVHS charter on Northgate that are bound to promote divisiveness in a community that ought to be united in opposing what this district is doing to our schools. (If the charter is going to lead to substandard teachers using their seniority to “bump” their way into Northgate, then why not do something about the poor teachers directly, rather than just accept being another “victim” of a broken system?)

    The email was uncharacteristic of him, profoundly disappointing, and another depressing sign of the toxic atmosphere being cultivated by the district leadership.

  7. 4Students Says:

    Theresa #4, Mayor Shuey is interacting with the board which is more than other MDUSD cities are doing. He was proceeding in good faith and got *****ed (insert appropriate verb). MDUSD’s double-dealing and half-truths mean burning bridges with the silent majority of cities and voters. We’re still watching and waiting for MDUSD to do the right thing.

  8. Just J Says:

    Ya know everyone keeps voting in the same Board Members and hope it will change. Memories are short when it comes to voting. I will remember and I won’t vote for 3 of them. When are their terms up?

  9. Doctor J Says:

    Gary and Sherry are up for re-election next year, Nov 2012. Last night, Sherry hardly knew what to do without Gary there.

  10. Doctor J Says:

    Anyone bring up the bus overcrowding situations ? If so, what happened ?

  11. Doctor J Says:

    I know how passionate Linda L feels toward the job that McMorris has done — and rightfully so — but he undid all the good works with one poison letter. His only salvation now is to stand up, admit his mistake, and tell the truth that he was pressured into it by Lawrence. If he does that, his future will be secure as the masses will not tolerate retaliation against a man who admits his mistakes and is doing good things. McMorris by writing the poison letter has made it much more difficult for himself than it would have been to simply tell Lawrence that he did not agree with the tactics and would not write the poison letter. Lets see what McMorris is really made of.


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