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MDUSD Superintendent says board won’t discuss charter Tuesday

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, October 21st, 2011 at 3:05 pm in Education.

I received the following string of e-mails from Clayton Mayor David Shuey moments ago, revealing that Mt. Diablo Superintendent Steven Lawrence says the board won’t discuss the Clayton Valley High School charter petition on Tuesday, as requested by Trustee Cheryl Hansen.

Here is the e-mail from Lawrence, followed by responses from Clayton Valley High teacher Neil McChesney and Shuey:

FROM: Steven Lawrence
TO: David T. Shuey, Neil McChesney
SUBJECT: FW: response from Seven (sic) or Gary to Mayor Shuey on request to place charter approval/denial on agenda for October 25

The approval or denial of the charter will not be placed on the Board agenda for October 25. We have said repeatedly, via staff, that the District would not unnecessarily delay a decision on the charter and we mean that. Please recall that staff informed you at the first meeting to discuss conditions on September 21, and at every meeting thereafter, that they would review, within a reasonable time after submission,  all documentation the organizers provide that demonstrates they have meet the conditions. You will also recall that your team and staff agreed to the following ground-rule at the September 21: given staff’s other duties, they would not review repeated submission of information on the same item. Rather, staff would review only one submission and the following submission would be considered your final one on the item.

Notwithstanding the above-referenced ground-rule, Mr. Richards reviewed and provided feedback on successive submissions of some fiscal data.  He did so in the spirit of collaboration and because he understands how complex school budget calculations can be. At 7:15 pm on October 13, Marshall Mayotte of ExEd sent our Mr. Richards 17 pages of financial data.  At 11:15 pm on October 18, Mr. Mayotte sent revised information from the October 13 submission and on October 20, he sent another iteration of material. Mr. Richards’ review of the fiscal data will require a complex analysis and will take time. It is unreasonable to expect him to conduct a thorough analysis in the 3 intervening business days between receipt and the board meeting. We understand the organizers’ desire to have the item on the agenda but ask that you understand that staff has been exceedingly accommodating with its time and they will not undertake such an important analysis on short notice.

Sincerely, Steven Lawrence

Here is McChesney’s response:

FROM: Neil McChesney
TO: Steven Lawrence
RE: response from Seven or Gary to Mayor Shuey on request to place charter approval/denial on agenda for October 25

This is unacceptable and not acting in good faith. We have been strung along with financials since April. Since the conditions, each time that Marshall answered Brian’s (sic) issues he would come up with new ones, thus creating an ongoing dialogue and removing the possibility of a conclusion (good or bad). Your know this school will be fiscally solvent as you pointed out in your meeting in Pleasant Hill this week with the Education Advisory Commission.

Please reconsider and put this item on the agenda as an action item.  Board Memeber Hansen has asked for this in writing. If your staff does not believe we have met the conditions then the board can deny us. We need to move on. This is the right thing to do.

Neil McChesney

And here is Shuey’s response:

Dear Dr. Lawrence and Mr .Eberhart,

On behalf of the citizens and community of Clayton I would like to strenuously object to your failure to place this item on the action item agenda for the October 25, 2011 meeting. As it will not serve any purpose, I will not belabor my objections to your characterization and timeline of events. However, I will reiterate that the District has had since June 8 to evaluate and prepare for a decision on this petition. In good faith, the charter group agreed to extend the original timeline for a decision at your request. Similarly, Since June we have been asking for complete financial data and the District has parceled out bits of information here and there and has at no time given us complete information. Your latest submission to both us and the Contra Costa Times did not respond to our request for specific costs related to CVHS, but took general ADA for all schools and spread the District’s costs accordingly. Despite this, our accountant, Marshall, has worked diligently and conservatively to prepare the financials for the charter and has submitted the information as it was finished to Mr. Richards. Mr. Richards has seen the essential elements of the financials and has, in fact, already explored the specifics and is aware of our position. It is now disingenuous to fall back on his need to conduct a thorough analysis. What is apparent is a concerted effort to delay the financial analysis through lack of production of information and timing.

I only wish that this came as a surprise, but we have anticipated exactly this type of tactic and have done our best to work in good faith and prevent it.

In addition, not only have I repeatedly requested this matter be on the agenda, but Boardmember Hansen specifically requested this item be placed on the agenda and I am not aware of any withdrawal of this request.

Let me reiterate once again, the community and citizens of Clayton, The entire City Council, The Mayors of both Clayton and Concord, the teachers, staff, parents and students at CVHS are overwhelmingly in support of this charter petition.  THEY ARE YOUR CONSTITUENTS AND YOU OWE THEM A REPRESENTATIVE AND FIDUCIARY DUTY WHICH YOU ARE IGNORING.  I feel like perhaps you have forgotten the vision statement of MDUSD, so let me reprint it here:

Vision Statement

Mt. Diablo Unified School District is to be a district in which all students, staff and community:
- treat each other with dignity and respect
- respect cultural, racial and economic diversity
- assume responsibility for the educational and individual needs of students
- support each other in achieving meaningful outcomes to enable individuals to experience success
- use technology to access, manage and communicate information
- collaborate to achieve mutual goals
- encourage students to become responsible citizens in a democratic society
The Mt. Diablo Unified School District is to be a district in which all schools:
- provide effective instruction as the focus of all activity
- provide a safe, secure, nurturing, and stimulating learning environment
- arrange time and space around the needs of the student
- are recognized and supported for their individuality and culture
- support students in achieving meaningful outcomes to prepare them to be successful adults

Your actions are violating many of the tenants outlined above and are clearly against the wishes and best interests of the Clayton/Concord community for which you serve.

DO THE RIGHT THING and put this item on the agenda.  As Mr. McChesney and we have stated repeatedly, as you obviously are doing everything in your power to prevent and deny this petition, put this on your agenda and deny it if we have not met your approval.  Do not continue these bad faith delay tactics.

You are not serving CV students by your actions.

Please reconsider and place this on the action item agenda for October 25.

Sincerely, David “Shoe” Shuey, Mayor, City of Clayton

McChesney sent the following last-minute caveat:

“Please be aware that the agenda is not posted yet. This means that the district can still put the Charter on as an action item.”

When I saw Lawrence this morning at Concord High, I asked him about rumors I have seen on this blog alleging that he has asked principals of other schools to oppose the charter. Lawrence responded that he has not done that.

Do you think the district’s decision to delay reviewing the charter conditions is reasonable?

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  • Doctor J

    Steven Lawrence is a lyning SOB and and a sack of Sh$t, and his track record at West Sacramento is evidence of it, along with his track recorcd at Roseville. The recocrds have been requested for six months and not producceed. You have not kept your Rotary oath and I will seek your pubblic revocation of your Rotary memembership. You will wish you had been tarred and feathereed instead.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here’s my story about the Tuesday agenda: http://bit.ly/nNI3sm

  • Dan

    Recall Eberhart.

    It is time. The power has gone to his head.

  • Wendy Lack

    What conditions are the petitioners required to meet, to bypass the District and move forward to seek approval from the County Supt (or whatever the next decision step is)?

    What recourse, if any, is available to the petitioners to ensure they are not unduly delayed by MDUSD (for whatever reasons), thereby preventing charter operations for the 2012/13 school year?

    MDUSD needs to explain its actions more persuasively and effectively than it has done thus far. What a District PR nightmare!

  • Theresa Harrington

    It turns out the board will hear about Clayton Valley HS charter progress under “Superintendent’s Report” on Tuesday, but there will be no vote: http://bit.ly/mYo2WK

  • Charter new course

    Uh, Mr Richards is reviewing fiscal data, but financials are not to be considered in the decision, so what’s the hang-up again?

  • Wait a Minute

    “War”

    Finally we have recognition that Lawrence, Eberhart, Rolen, etc cannot and should not ever be trusted.

    These people are nothing more then leaches upon our governments and taxes and need to be put out of public service entirely.

    Ms. Hansen and Dr. J are entirely correct in their assessment here.

    These people do NOT have (and will not ever have) the “courage” to leave their games and manipulations behind and do the right thing here with a straight up or down vote.

    Refusal by Eberhart to follow the law and put Cheryl
    Hansen’s item on the board meeting agenda FOR ACTION/VOTE is blatantly illegal and should be legally challenged as such.

    It is most definitely time for direct action.

    I highly recommend that immediate Grand Jury complaints be written and sent in as well as a mobilization of charter supporters to pack the meeting and directly face down this ruling junta.

    I also think people should lobby Rep Miller and other political leaders to come speak at the board meeting and do all they can to put political and legal heat upon the ruling junta by asking the county, state and federal prosecutors to initiate investigations of the many wrongdoings of the ruling junta.

    An active recall of at least Gary should also be initiated.

    Come on people, the Libyan people overthrew their dictatorship and I’m sure the people here can do the same!

  • Anon

    I say it is time to occupy the DENT center.

    THE GARY AND STEVIE MUST GO.

  • Wait a Minute

    That’s an idea.

    Picketing and TV press coverage should also be considered.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here’s a new blog post with more info about what’s been going on behind the scenes: http://bit.ly/r7PqPq