Part of the Bay Area News Group

State Senator, Assemblywoman and Walnut Creek Councilman urge quick resolution to Clayton Valley High charter issue

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 at 5:26 pm in Clayton, Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Walnut Creek.

Today, state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, and Walnut Creek City Councilman Kish Rajan sent the following letter to the Mt. Diablo school board regarding the Clayton Valley High charter petition:

“October 25, 2011
The Honorable Gary L. Eberhart
and Members of the Mount Diablo Unified School District Board
1936 Carlotta Drive
Concord, CA 94519

Dear President Eberhart,

We are writing to urge the Board to take action on the Clayton Valley Charter High School (CVCHS) conversion petition on November 8th so that teachers, parents and students can adequately plan for the 2012/13 school year. We want to applaud the tireless efforts of the CVCHS Steering Committee and District staff as they have met repeatedly to address all of the outstanding issues necessary for approval. We understand that almost all of the conditions have been met and that District staff is finalizing their analysis and preparing to make a recommendation to the board.

As elected officials representing many students throughout the Mount Diablo Unified School District, we also encourage the Board to request a district wide financial impact analysis by a respected independent organization, such as the Financial Crisis Management Assistance Team (FCMAT), independent of the approval of the CVCHS conversion process, so that the Board and the community better understand how to prepare for the financial future of the District.

We are proud of how passionately our community continues to support our teachers and students. We know that this has been a difficult process and have been encouraged by the work completed by the CVCHS Steering Committee and District staff.

As we all work together to support the teachers, parents and students in our community, we believe that a transparent district wide conversation regarding the future of the entire community is essential to a responsible way forward.

Sincerely,
Mark DeSaulnier, Senator, 7th District
Susan Bonilla, Assemblymember, 11th District
Kish Rajan, City of Walnut Creek, Councilmember”

Do you agree with the letter’s recommendations?

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

  • Doctor J

    I agree with the recommendations. I requested a Special Meeting for this Friday, and still support that idea. Approve it and move on to the important educational issues of getting the District out of Program Improvement in Titles I, II, and III. There has been so much mistrust, real or perceived, that FCMAT could provide a valuable tool for the Board and the Supt in managing the district and restoring trust and confidence to the financial management of the district.

  • Wait a Minute

    An outside audit of the districts finances is a EXCELLENT idea.

    However, I predict this proposal from these multiple important elected political leaders (who are far better public servants) will not go anywhere.

    The reason I say this is because EberMarsh and their hired hatchet people like Lawrence, Rolen, Cooksey, etc DO NOT WANT the impending dire financial conditions of the MDUSD to get out in the open since they will be further exposed as the incompetent “leaders” that they are.

    As far as the charter petition goes, EberMarsh and hired guns are obviously desperate to sink the charter.

    I must say however, that all they have really done a good of so far is to further damage their own pathetic reputations and isolate themselves even more as the rest of the districts myriad scandals and crisis fester and grow. They have really painted themselves into a corner on this one-LOL.

    I wonder how much longer they can hold out with now virtually every concerned elected leader imaginable lining up against them.

    Good Job EberMarsh, Lawrence, Rolen, etc!

  • g

    Dear Mr. McNorthgate. Did someone forget to tell you— the District has contended to the County Ed Dept, Mr. Ovick, and to everyone else that they already officially “Approved” the Charter back on 9/17, albeit with some conditions, but your leader has you under instructions to make a speech about how they should not “Approve” the Charter???? You might want to rethink the legalities of the District trying to have it both ways with so many eyes on the lies going around.

  • AnonParent

    Political CYA at its finest. Which was is the wind blowing again? It’s a pity everyone is so snowed by the conversion hype when we could be doing so much more for all the students in the district.

  • Number Eight

    If MDUSD approves FCMAT, it would give some hope on the financial front, for all the students. But the last sentence indicates that more issues must be tackled. The district strategic plan needs to be approved; Lawrence should provide a “high school plan” that was promised way back when; MDUSD should comply with two Grand Jury reports; and Cheryl’s repeated requests for a methodical district-wide plan for future school closures, building new sites, and school boundary issues should be implemented. Only then could MDUSD hope to restore public trust.

  • Wait a minute

    Yes AnonParent or Sue Brothers or whoever you are. The MDUSD “leadership” could be doing so much more for all the students:

    Would that include Program Improvement I, II. III?

    How about finally getting all the student’s books required by law in late October?

    How about getting transportation straightened out so Spc Ed students aren’t being picked up/dropped off late or not at all?

    How about your buddy Stevie Lawrence deliberately lying on the SIG grants’ Legal Assuarances that instructional time was being increased which will probably lead to the district losing millions and should result in Lawrence being prosecuted?

    In the interest of brevity I’ll stop there but this list could easily fill several pages.

    “conversion hype”, really?

  • Another CV Parent

    Odds are not a single one of those politicians has actually read the charter petition. If they had, they would have known what a terrible job the teachers did when they wrote it. I’m sure they didn’t bother to find out what a poor job the teachers did in turning in a “generic” charter school budget provided by the company they plan to hire to do their back office functions. I’m sure they don’t know that the teachers are so uninformed about the charter process, that they think the charter they’ve turned in to MDUSD is “just a draft” and their Governing Board isn’t bound by it.

    A decision has already been made and the Board should stick with it. They should review the revised charter in February. The CV teachers should take the time to put gether a good charter petition. The teachers have stated that they will not be able to open in 2012 if that is the timeline. So there really is no open question about 2012/2013. The school will remain part of the District for that school year. If they can meet the conditions, they can open in 2013.

    Given that the CV teachers have said that their plan was to force MDUSD to give them a quick denial in October so they can appeal to the County, it’s clear the teachers are not operating in good faith. The MDUSD Board should do the right thing for the students of CVHS and not allow the teachers to force them into a decision that will harm the school and its students just so the CV teachers don’t have to take furlough days next year and can give themselves better benefits. That would be irresponsible.

  • Wait a minute

    What is irresponsible Sue is your lying to the CVHS classified staff and telling them they will lose their jobs if the charter passes. Of course, desperate people will say and do desperate things to cling to power.

    What is irresponsible Sue is your ignoring the list I posted above about how bad a shape the MDUSD is in due to your buddy Lawrence.

    In fact Sue, the only hope for immediate change is for there to be a charter as this will start the process of a complete change of leadership and it is only with this change that the MDUSD can once again become functional rather than dysfunctional. Its the same process that West Sac went through with your removal Sue and now their test scores, morale and future are improving.

    So Sue, you can continue to deny the important issues and be an apologist for Lawrence and Company or you can get on board the future Sue?

  • Audience Member

    The MDUSD Board said last night that they would make a decision at the next board meeting on November 8.

    The charter was approved with conditions in September and the conditions have been met as much as they can be without full approval (as in the charter hasn’t hired administration because they can’t without full approval). I am looking forward to their final “Yes” or “No” decision. I’m not sure how they can actually say “No” becuase the only objection really raised by opponents was that CVCHS might receive more money under CA law than the district currently spends on it and that can’t legally be a factor in the board’s decision.

    I don’t honestly beleive that CVCHS leaving the district will cost MDUSD anything more than a drop in a bucket, and that drop is something that the district should have been spending on our underfunded high schools all along.

  • Wait a minute

    Sue Brothers–playing the divide and conquer game. Nice!

  • Doctor J

    Since my understanding is that Deborah Cooksey last night said all conditions have been met except financial, and then a trustworthy citizen played a tape recording of Steven Lawrence saying that the Charter is financially sound, what more needs to happen ? What was the reaction of Linda Mayo, the swing vote, to the tape recording ?

  • Just J

    I hope everyone knows that MDUSD has been broken for many many years but it has gotten worse with Steve in charge.
    This Charter is a good thing for the entire district and Steve the Charter starting isn’t what is making you look bad. It is all you. Had you approved the Charter in the first place and decided to work with them that would have made you look pretty darn good but you chose to go down a path with nowhere to turn around and go back. Now it is too late for you. Where is the plan that you promissed when you first got here? Oh when you leave take Gary and Sherry with you and that other one (she is so unimportant I can’t even remember her name)

  • Doctor J

    I don’t think Sue Brothers sold her Roseville home yet, at least not according to zabasearch.com . Perhaps her future in MDUSD is not as secure as she would like it to be. I think she is hedging her bets.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I wasn’t watching Trustee Linda Mayo during the recording. However, Superintendent Steven Lawrence looked quite surprised. I’ll try to post a link to the video later.
    After the public comment, Mayo said the board and staff were reviewing the “16 requirements.”

  • Theresa Harrington

    The district has posted the Program Improvement notification: http://www.mdusd.org/NewsRoom/Pages/parent-notification-program-improvement.aspx

  • Doctor J

    “16″ requirements ?? Lawrence “surprised” that someone recorded it, but he didn’t deny saying it, did he ? When you tell the truth, you only have half as much to remember. When is Lawrence’s contract up ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    He did not deny saying it. It was very clear that it was his voice.
    However, Lawrence did say on the recording that he was stating an opinion that it was likely that most of the students living in the attendance area would want to go to the charter and he was basing his assessment on that.

  • Wait a minute

    So Stevie Lawrence is now trapped in his own lie on tape.

  • Doctor J

    #15 Lawrence substantially modified the CDE letter to be “sent out” to ALL parents. Check your mailboxes. Here is what CDE says Lawrence should have told the parents ! http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ti/documents/leapi.doc

    I encourage everyone to call Rose Lock as suggested by Supt. Steven Lawrence, and ask to be on the committee that reviews the data and writes the LEA addendum. Lawrence leaves part of that out because he doesn’t want parents evaluating the data. But he does encourage you to call Rose Lock: “please contact Rose Lock, Assistant Superintendent, in the district office at (925) 682-8000, ext. 4015″. Parents, please flood Rose with calls to assist her and her staff. What she won’t tell you is that staff has already written the Addendum and really doesn’t want your assistance. Part of the Federal Sanctions are to involve the parents in reviewing the data and writing the plan. The district doesn’t want that.
    Lawrence is trying to skit the law by posting on the website this non-compliant letter, instead of mailing it to EVERY parent in the district. You might want to complain to the CDE and DE for the non-compliance both as to time, delivery and content.

  • Wait a minute

    Good Job Dr J.,

    I recommend to anyone concerned to file a UNIFORM COMPLAINT against Stevie Lawrence on this issue of missing another mandatory deadline and leaving out the most important piece of the CDE letter. This was a violation of the law and of your rights as a parent and against the rights of your students.

    A UNIFORM COMPLAINT will start a very powerful legal process that the district MUST FOLLOW:

    They have 60 days to investigate and report back to you their findings. They must also report everything to the board.

    If you don’t like their findings you have the right to appeal to the CA Dpt Ed and then an outside investigation will ensue…

    These types of actions are how you keep unethical/dishonest public servants accountable my friends!

    See here,
    http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cp/uc/
    http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cp/uc/documents/UCPBrochure.2009.pdf.

  • Wait a minute

    Here is a link to the MDUSD Uniform Complaint Form process. I believe they may also be in violation of not having a specific fill in the blanks form for a Uniform Complaint Form.

    http://www.mdusd.org/Forms/Documents/commcomplaint.pdf

  • Doctor J

    Lawrence took down the Title I letter from the website already !

  • CVHSMom

    he says to just check mdusd.org for the data!?!?? Come on, how is Joe Public going to know what to look for, or how it works, or how it got to this point? Unbelievable. I’m glad a kept a copy, Theresa if you want it, I’ll send it to you.

  • Wait a Minute

    What he did is still a crime Dr J.

    File those complaints folks!

  • Theresa Harrington

    I also have a copy. Unfortunately, however, I hadn’t copied it and pasted it into my blog before it was removed.
    It states: “We must consult with parents and school staff when writing the LEA Plan Addendum, which will include information on how we plan to use Title I and other funds to improve student achievement. We will post the approved LEA Plan on our LEA Web site.”
    It ends by encouraging parents to contact Rose Lock at 682-8000 ext. 4015.
    Surprisingly, it doesn’t seem to have been sent out by email as a “News Update.” Usually, I receive a News Update by email first and it shows up on the district’s website under “District News” hours or even days later.

  • Another CV Parent

    Not having met the financial requirements is quite a stumbling block.

    I see a lot of attacks on MDUSD in general and personal attacks on MDUSD board members and employees, but I don’t see anyone making a reasoned argument in favor of the charter conversion based on the plan presented and the people involved.

  • Just J

    I just went to look at it and it is gone! HAHAAHAAA he is reading this site to figure out what he is and staff are doing wrong…..Cracks me up and I am supposed to address him as Dr. Lawrence I THINK NOT! Like I said before, he does not need the Charter to make himself look bad…He does just fine with that on his own. LOL

  • ANON

    I would suggest that you file complaints on any infraction. Special Ed at the District is really messed up too.

  • Anon

    I decided to give Rose Lock a call and see what the deal was. Rose was in a meeting but I had a nice conversation with the woman who answered.

    In her words, “We had to take it down because we jumped the gun a little by posting it and it needed a few tweeks.” I asked her what the tweeks were, she said, “Well it was basically too long and hard for people to read and understand”.

    I then asked if it was true that the addendum had already been written, she said, “No”.

    I then asked if all the data had already been analyzed and conclusions drawn, she said, “Well of course”. I informed her that parents are supposed to be a part of that process at which point she started trying to get me off the phone.

    The whole, what is your name and number, I’ll have Rose call you back, yada, yada, yada.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Last night, I asked Rose Lock why the board resolution for Item 14.7 still stated that “the Mt. Diablo Unified School District has not provided each pupil with sufficient textbooks and instructional materials….” http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/71b4b6bc-fac7-4fea-b577-a8f3c6963209.pdf
    She said she thought that had been changed. (Actually, the part about an attachment was removed, but the wording before it was not changed.)
    So, even though Lock assured me that the district had in fact provided each student with textbooks by yesterday, the board unanimously approved a resolution that said it hadn’t.

  • The Observer

    How does one go about filing a complaint to the grand jury?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here is the link to the Contra Costa County Grand Jury website: http://www.cc-courts.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=page.viewpage&pageid=4186

  • Doctor J

    @Anon #29 NCLB Federal Law REQUIRES parental involvment in the review of data and preparation of the plan. Rose’s secretary Vonda just acknowledged that they are conspiring to violate Federal Law. The irony is that the letter was “signed” by “Dr. Steven Lawrence”. I guess its time to call Washington.

  • Doctor J

    #30, Even at this very moment, it has not been changed, but shows that the resolution passed 5-0. If they change it now, it will be a Brown Act violation.

  • Doctor J

    @Anon #29 Too Long ? Hard to understand ? It was written by the CDE. I am told there is a “final version” of the Addendum. I guess since Lawrence signed the letter, all calls should be to his extension: 925-682-8200 ext 4000. Perhaps Rose was getting too many calls. All the people in support of the Charter now want to be on this committee to help improve the district. Just think how many night meetings for SASS that will entail !!!

  • Theresa Harrington

    I just spoke to Rose Lock about this. She said the district wanted to make it shorter to streamline it and make it easier to understand for parents.
    She also said the district didn’t receive its official letter from the state until Oct. 17, even though it was dated Sept. 16. According to the feds, the district has 30 days to inform parents after receiving the letter, she said.
    “So we’re on top of it and we’re working with CDE and they say that it’s fine,” she said. “We were kind of moving pretty quickly, but the feedback from some of our staff was: ‘That’s a pretty long letter for some of the community.’”
    She said it will be reposted tomorrow and will also be sent to parents.

  • Doctor J

    In other words, the District doesn’t want the parents to know what ALL of their legal options are, which is precisely why the CDE did the form letter, and provided translations for it already.

    I guess either Lawrence is about a month behind on reading his mail or every other district also just received their letter ? What does CDE say about this ?

    It will be interesting to compare the two letters to see what is left out.

  • g

    Rose: You didn’t receive it till Oct 17th huh? Is that sort of like “the truck broke down” and “we’re waiting for the warehouse”?

    The arrogance of them! “some in the office” thought they should dumb it down for the parents??? How about you give the people what they are supposed to have, and then preface it with a “summary for dummies” if you feel you have to?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Lock said the letter was date-stamped that it was received Oct. 17.
    She said the CDE said it sometimes takes three weeks for mail to reach its destination.

  • Wait a Minute

    3 weeks from Sacramento to Concord?

    Really?

  • g

    Oh, Thank goodness, ’cause we know those date stamps are totally infallible! For a minute there, I was worried that someone at Dent might tell a lie.

  • Dan

    This comment was edited to delete a personal attack

    Rose Lock is …

  • Doctor J

    Let’s see the original — not a copy ~

  • CVHSMom

    What’s the postmark? Things don’t take 3 weeks to get to me, and I doubt they send those things out in bulk mail do they? It should have a postmark.

  • anon

    I just read all 44 comments. So much inaccuracy. So much vitriol. So many axes being ground. So little community benefit. And worst of all, I’ll never be able to get that 35 minutes of my life back. What a waste of time.

  • Just J.

    Anon #45 Why don’t you join in a discussion and tell us what you disagree with. This is how it starts. Yes there will be some that just won’t listen and some that will engage in a healthy debate.

  • Wendy Lack

    @ Anon #45:

    I just did likewise — read this entire thread.

    However my takeaway differs from yours. I interpret all of this District and public angst as the logical result of what happens when public officials lose the trust of the governed. This is actually a pretty compelling case study in how government agencies can go wrong; and how layers of over-regulation of local government districts by the feds and state yield chaos and squandering of precious resources on compliance/red tape.

    Parents and taxpayers feel betrayed, misled, manipulated and used by the MDUSD Board and staff (current and prior). From academic performance issues to questionable bond spending, the District has failed to meet public expectations on all counts. While some may quibble about differing degrees to which these public perceptions are justified, there is no doubt that the District is lying in the bed it has made for itself. Its recent PR gaffes belie the fact that, with the District, we’re dealing with political amateurs.

    Not unlike the dynamics of a nightmare divorce, once the trust is gone there’s no basis for rebuilding the relationship. In this case, it’s apparent that increasing numbers of MDUSD parents have given up hope that the District can reform itself. The CVCHS effort makes this statement with unmistakeable clarity.

    If the charter approach results in academic and operational improvements at CV, then it’s a no-brainer that other District schools will pursue the charter option. Doing so is a rational response to a clearly dysfunctional relationship between the District and the community it is charged with serving.

    In short, the CV charter effort is “customer feedback” to the District. It’s called “voting with your feet.” Because the District is a government monopoly, it need not change. To achieve improvements, parents must separate from MDUSD because there is no expectation that the District is capable of improving its quality and efficiency in the short term — though increased competition may result in some improvements over the long term.

    Operative word here: “May.”

    The morass of government regulation of CA schools stacks the deck against the District, over the long term; one could argue that this District is an organization that is set up for failure, by virtue of its complexity, size and the burden of red tape under which it operates. MDUSD’s loss of public trust and confidence only exacerbates its structural defects.

  • Wait a minute

    Wendy,

    While I generally agree with your statement I think its important to add the effect of leadership into the equation.

    Good leaders can and are successful despite the challenges, bad leaders just make problems worse.

    Organizational performance tends to track their leader’s performance at managing and LEADING.

  • Doctor J

    No letter yet from Lawrence with the “few tweaks” on the Title 1 Sanctions. Time to call his office: 925-682-8000 ext 4000.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I have just posted a comprehensive account of what happened at Tuesday’s meeting regarding the Clayton Valley HS charter: http://bit.ly/vnEpqZ.
    Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, I was not able to upload the video that included an audio recording of Lawrence speaking to the Pleasant Hill Education Commission.