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Archive for October, 2011

MDUSD still waiting to hear if it will get School Improvement Grants

Last July, the state Board of Education decided to required most of the school districts that had been receiving School Improvement Grants (SIGs) to submit Corrective Action Plans because they were not adhering to the federal grant requirements.

The Mt. Diablo district submitted its Corrective Action Plan in September, without presenting it the school board for approval. It is still waiting to hear if it will get the funding.

At issue was the district’s initial failure to increase instructional learning time for all students and to develop a more rigorous teacher and principal evaluation system based partially on student performance. To remedy these issues, the district negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding with the MDEA teachers’ union to extend the school days at the three schools receiving grants: Bel Air, Rio Vista and Shore Acres elementary schools in Bay Point.

The district and union also agreed to pilot a new evaluation system for teachers at those schools. Both of these agreements may be extended to Meadow Homes Elementary and Oak Grove Middle School, which plan to apply for SIGs later this year, as part of a second round of funding. All districts that applied for this second round (including MDUSD) were rejected by the state because they didn’t comply with the federal requirements. So, all eligible districts can reapply.

The district’s Corrective Action Plan notes that instructional learning time at the three campuses has increased by 9,369 to 16,490 minutes, depending on the school and grade level. However, it does not appear to mention that the district is seeking to reduce this school year by five days, which would substantially decrease instructional learning time gained through extending the days.

The California Department of Education is behind schedule on informing the district whether or not its grant will be approved. I spoke with a CDE rep about a month ago, who said the state was still awaiting clarification from the U.S. Department of Education on instructional learning time.

However, I received the following information in an e-mail from a U.S. Department of Education spokesperson on Monday:

Q: What is the status of the CA SIG grant

“Answer: As you probably know, the state makes determinations on whether to renew a school district’s SIG grant with respect to schools that are not meeting their goals and making progress on their leading indicators. If a SIG school does not meet its annual achievement goals established by the school district, then the state has discretion to examine factors such as the school’s progress on the leading indicators or the fidelity with which it is implementing the model in deciding whether to renew the district’s SIG grant with respect to that school.

The Department has been working with the California Department of Education and has provided additional guidance to them on increased learning time. The state has all the information it needs to make its decisions about administering its grants, including renewal decisions.”

Q: Many California school districts are reducing the number of school days due to budget cuts. Would this prevent them from qualifying for School Improvement Grants? (If the overall instructional time is reduced.)

“Answer: No, it doesn’t prevent districts from applying for a SIG grant. Two of the SIG models do not require increased learning time; for districts applying to implement the two models that do require increased learning time, their applications would likely be assessed, in part, on the amount of instructional time they added, either through the school day, before or after school, or before or after the school year.”

The reform models that do not require increased learning time are school closure and restarting the school under new management.

The district’s Corrective Action Plans also call for four-week “early back” programs available to all students in the summer.

Do you believe this plan merits renewed funding?

CAP Mt Diablo Unified School District09152011

Posted on Friday, October 28th, 2011
Under: Education | 6 Comments »

MDUSD omits information about some services in Program Improvement notice

“MT. DIABLO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
JAMES W. DENT EDUCATION CENTER
1936 Carlotta Drive
Concord, California 94519-1397
(925) 682-8000

OFFICE OF THE SUPERINTENDENT

October 26, 2011

Dear Parents/Guardians of Students in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District:

This fall, Mt. Diablo Unified, along with 97 other districts, joined the growing list of school districts across the state falling into Program Improvement. Currently, 444 districts in the state have been identified as Program Improvement. Districts (LEA’s) are identified as Program Improvement because they do not meet all of the Federal Annual Yearly Progress targets. Currently, district-wide and all significant subgroups, including special education and English Learners, must have 67 percent of the students at the proficient and advanced level on the California Standards Test in English Language Arts and math.

ESEA/NCLB requires the CDE to inform parents/guardians of students about LEA performance. Mt. Diablo Unified School District has been identified as a PI LEA. You can find specific achievement data used to make this decision at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ar/ . If you do not have access to the Internet, please contact Rose Lock, Assistant Superintendent, at (925) 682-8000, ext. 4015, and a hard copy of the report will be provided.

As a district in Program Improvement, we must:

• Write an addendum to our LEA Plan. 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. Once approved by the Board, the addendum will be posted on the district Web site.

• Reserve at least 10 percent of our annual Title I allocation to provide professional development for teachers and administrators.

• Continue to provide assistance to schools identified in Program Improvement.

As a parent/guardian in the Mt. Diablo USD, we encourage you to be involved in your child’s education by volunteering at your child’s school, regularly checking on your child’s academic progress, and attending/ participating on your School Site Council. Parents can also talk with district staff about the LEA Plan and the program changes that must be made to help students meet the state standards in ELA and mathematics. Additional information and resources about No Child Left Behind are available through:

• The California Department of Education o http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/sw/t1/titleparta.asp and http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ay/tidetermine.asp

• The US Department of Education o http://www.ed.gov and http://www.ed.gov/parents/landing.jhtml

If you have further questions about district-wide Program Improvement, please contact Rose Lock, Assistant Superintendent Student Achievement and School Support, at (925) 682-8000, ext. 4015.

Sincerely,
Steven Lawrence, Ph.D.
Superintendent”

This version of the notice was created after the district posted, then removed, its original version, which was based more closely on a template provided by the California Department of Education.

Noticeably missing from the final version is the following information, which explains additional services available to parents whose children attend low-performing schools:

” – If you are a parent of a student who attends a Title 1 PI (Program Improvement) school, ask about school choice options to transfer your child, with paid transportation, to a public school in your LEA (Local Education Agency) that is not identified as Program Improvement School.

- If you are a parent of a student who attends a Title 1 school that has been in PI for two years or more, ask about supplemental educational services that may be available for your child. Supplemental educational services are tutoring services provided outside of the regular school day for eligible students.

I encourage you to contact Rose Lock, Assistant Superintendent, for further information about any of these requirements and to find out how you can become involved in PI efforts.”

Here is a link to information about how to transfer a child from a PI school, with paid transportation, to a higher-performing school: http://www.mdusd.org/Departments/studentservices/Pages/OpenEnrollmentTransfers.aspx. The deadline to apply for such a transfer is Jan. 15 for the 2012-13 school year.

Here is a link to information about supplemental tutoring services available for some children who attend schools that have been in Program Improvement for two years or more: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ti/schoolpireq.asp.

Here is a link to district schools that shows which ones are in Program Improvement, along with the number of years they have been in PI: http://ayp.cde.ca.gov/reports/Acnt2011/2011AYPDst.aspx?cYear=&allCds=0761754&cChoice=PI10a.

Do you think the district should have included information about additional services available in its Parent Notification for Program Improvement?

OCT. 31 UPDATE: I asked Superintendent Steven Lawrence and Assistant Superintendent Rose Lock why the information was omitted. Here is Lock’s e-mailed response:

“Each year, we send a letter with this info to parents in all PI Schools. We will be doing that again shortly for this year. We consulted with CDE to streamline the first version of the district letter and were advised that this info did not need to be in that letter since it will be in the school letter going to parents of PI schools. However, when the PI school letter goes out, we will include the district PI status information as well.”

Posted on Thursday, October 27th, 2011
Under: Education | 51 Comments »

Power struggle emerges on Mt. Diablo school board related to charter debate

A power struggle between Mt. Diablo school board President Gary Eberhart and Trustee Cheryl Hansen appears to be unfolding as tensions related to the Clayton Valley High School charter proposal continue to rise.

Hansen said earlier this week that she believed Eberhart had tried to block her from attending an Oct. 18 meeting between the charter committee and district staff. Eberhart said he felt it would be inappropriate for any trustee to attend the meeting without a board discussion about it, since the meeting involved legal negotiations.

Superintendent Steven Lawrence said in an e-mail that he relayed this message to all trustees.

“I left a voice mail for all board members requesting that they allow staff to continue without observers the collaborative and productive work in meetings with the charter organizers,” Lawrence wrote. “As is the case with all forms of negotiations, staff feels meetings are more productive and efficient when they work without observation and then report back to the board and me. Before the Oct. 18 meeting, I asked Ms. Hansen if she would have a conversation with me rather than observing staff’s meeting with the charter organizers. She agreed. Our conversation was positive and enlightening.”

Hansen, however, disputed Lawrence’s description. She replayed Lawrence’s voice-mail message for me, stressing that the superintendent said he was acting on direction from the board president. Here’s what the voice mail said:

“….I’m just following up (on) Gary’s e-mail last night. He sent me a follow-up as board president requesting that if a board member does show up for the staff meeting with the Clayton Valley Charter this afternoon that the meeting be postponed to another date after the board meeting next week so that the board as a whole can meet and determine whether or not a board member needs to be appointed to these meetings. He’s just concerned that if two or three board members showed up that, you know, which one, you know, could be there and which one can’t and so forth because it’s a staff meeting. So I just wanted to let you know that’s the direction that I’ve been given from the board president and, if you have any questions, please feel free to give me a call.”

Hansen told me Eberhart does not have the authority to give such direction to the superintendent and that Lawrence should not act on Eberhart’s direction.

“Unfortunately, the superintendent and the board president do not want an open sharing of information around the charter school petition,” Hansen said in an e-mail. “The superintendent’s voice mail that he left me just before the Oct. 18 meeting taking place conveys the following:

1. In his determination to hinder the progress of the charter school issue and keep it out of the public eye, the board president is willing to far exceed his very limited authority as defined in Board Bylaw 9121. To this end, he is even willing to go so far as to obstruct another board member from attending a meeting as an observer or block her agenda item from being placed on the agenda without any authority. The superintendent’s voice mail acknowledges that the board president clearly knew he did not have this authority when he stated, ‘…the board as a whole’ would have to meet to determine if the board wanted to establish a policy, thus acknowledging that there is no policy.

2. To prevent the flow of information, the superintendent took unauthorized direction from one board member rather than meet his duty to represent the board as a whole. He opted to conspire with the board president to prevent another board member from attending a district meeting in which the charter school conditions were the topic. As the CSBA Superintendent Governance Standards state, the superintendent must understand ‘…that authority rests with the board as a whole’ and provide “…leadership based on the direction of the board as a whole.’ Apparently, this standard is not to be followed when the superintendent disagrees with a board member around an issue such as the charter school.

Sadly, these efforts on the part of the board president and the superintendent show the degree to which they will go to prohibit open discussion on the charter school petition. In an attempt to block the charter school from progressing, they have now determined that obstructing a board member who has tried to bring the decision to an earlier closure is their best weapon. Now they are in damage control mode and seem to think that the way out is through misinformation.

This type of obstruction has become a destructive pattern. At every board meeting, the public has observed the board president’s ongoing attempts to interrupt and silence a board member who has disagreed with his viewpoint and political agenda. The public has expressed concerns that they have experienced the same obstructions and frustrations in their attempts to place items on the agenda or to access public information. As I have repeatedly stated, the board and district, as public entities, are accountable to the public, must conduct their business in public, must not misinform or withhold public information, and must ensure that all opinions, whether in agreement or disagreement, be heard. I believe it is only through open discussion and actions, through civil discourse, that we build public trust and fulfill our ethical responsibility to serve the public.

I believe it is critical that these concerns be brought forward to the public to protect the right to have access to public information and discussion.”

When I asked Eberhart and Lawrence about these allegations, they disagreed with Hansen.

“I was provided direction by the board president,” Lawrence wrote in an e-mail, “but his direction was based on staff’s input that like all other forms of negotiations the staff engages in, it would be distracting and therefore, less efficient if a board member were present.”

Eberhart’s recollection was similar.

“The direction that we came up together — staff and myself — was in consultation,” he told me today. “It was really staff’s direction, but it was in consultation with me.”

Hansen forwarded me an e-mail exchange with Deb Cooksey, the district’s attorney who met with the charter committee, which did not express concerns about Hansen’s plans to attend the meeting.

Here’s a portion of the exchange:

“FROM: Cheryl Hansen
TO: Deborah Cooksey
SENT: Oct. 17
SUBJECT: Meeting with charter organizers

Deb, I’m planning on attending this meeting just to observe and listen. Where will it be held?

FROM: Deborah Cooksey
TO: Cheryl Hansen
SENT: Oct. 17
SUBJECT: Meeting with charter organizers

Room 6 from 4-6. See you there.”

I was unable to reach Cooksey to find out whether or not she was uncomfortable with the idea of Hansen attending the meeting.

Eberhart said he did not overstep his role as board president.

“At the end of the day, nobody got refused admittance to a meeting,” he said. “The way this whole thing was structured was that if the board member — whomever that might be — insisted on attending the meeting, the meeting would be rescheduled so we could discuss it as a board. Board members do a have a right to be in any meeting they want to be in, providing that the board gives that direction. So by waiting, it would preserve the board member’s right to attend the meeting and it preserved staff’s right to meet and be unfettered by the attendance of board members. So, it switched the decision from being made by a single board member, to a decision that would be made by the board as a whole, which is where that decision belongs.”

Eberhart said the board had previously discussed trustees “inserting themselves in the middle of what staff was trying to do relative to these negotiations meetings and it was decided a while back that we were not going to.”

In the 16 years that he’s been on the board, Eberhart said he has never before encountered such issues with board members.

“Typically, common sense, professional courtesy and collegiality — that’s what should govern what we do as a board,” he said. “We do have bylaws that discuss roles and authorities and so forth and apparently there is going to be a need to make that much thicker.”

Hansen said she didn’t consider the charter and staff meetings to be “negotiations.” But Eberhart disagreed.

“Our staff is in these meetings to negotiate with the charter school staff to try to find compromise that achieves the conditions we were looking for,” he said. “These are legal negotiations. When the board finally approves this charter, that agreement that we are approving is legally binding.”

Do you think Hansen’s concerns are justified?

OCT. 31 UPDATE: I just received a phone call from Deb Cooksey in response to a message I left her last week, asking whether district staff was uncomfortable with the idea of a board member attending the meeting between the charter committee and district staff.

She said she did send an email saying, “See you there,” to Trustee Cheryl Hansen, because she assumed she would see her there and she was in no position to tell her otherwise.

However, Cooksey said there were people on the review team who preferred that trustees and Superintendent Steven Lawrence not attend the meetings because they wouldn’t feel as free in their discussions and might feel as though someone was looking over their shoulders.

“It made several people uncomfortable,” she said.

But, she added that she has a wonderful relationship with Hansen and that the concerns had nothing to do with Hansen personally.

“I also asked the superintendent if he would refrain from coming, because he wanted to come to the first meeting,” Cooksey said. “I said, ‘Please trust us.’”

Posted on Thursday, October 27th, 2011
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 17 Comments »

Clayton Valley HS charter could be on verge of approval

At Tuesday’s Mt. Diablo school board meeting, attorney Deb Cooksey told trustees the Clayton Valley High School charter conversion committee has met all but one condition — the financial plan. CFO Bryan Richards is still evaluating the finances, she said.

I videotaped portions of the meeting and am posting links below. Unfortunately, some clips do not include full video of the comments because of my phone storage limitations.

Cooksey’s presentation to board, followed by Trustee Cheryl Hansen speaking about her attempt to get a motion on the Tuesday agenda and her subsequent request for a final vote Nov. 8: http://qik.com/video/45350399.

Northgate Principal John McMorris speaks against the charter and says the district should remain unified: http://qik.com/video/45350532.

Charter supporter Jim Killoran urges the board to approve the charter, stressing the importance of a positive campus culture: http://qik.com/video/45350668.

Walnut Creek City Councilman Kish Rajan and representatives of state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, read a letter urging the board to make a final decision Nov. 8 and to hire an independent agency to report the financial impact to the district: http://qik.com/video/45350673.

Clayton resident Leigh Kirmsee recalls the Greek myth Sisyphus in describing the charter effort: http://qik.com/video/45350808. (Partial recording.)

Mt. Diablo High School Principal Kate McClatchy speaks in opposition to the charter, saying the district can’t afford to spend more money on some students than others: http://qik.com/video/45353427.

Clayton Valley HS teacher Pat Middendorf expresses frustation about the charter committee’s attempts to work collaboratively with the district: http://qik.com/video/45350878 (Partial recording.)

CVHS parent April Winship says the district has been busy capturing the sun instead of capturing the minds of students: http://qik.com/video/45379909.

Clayton Valley HS senior Kendall Winship compares the charter effort to the Revolutionary War: http://qik.com/video/45351063 (Partial recording).

CVHS teacher Neil McChesney says district has been stirring up opposition to the charter my misleading principals about the impact: http://qik.com/video/45380154.

Charter advocate Jae Greenwald asks board to support charter: http://qik.com/video/45380295.

Clayton Councilman Joe Medrano says Roberts Rules of Order would have allowed the board to cast final votes regarding the charter at Tuesday’s meeting and urges the board to make a final decision Nov. 8: http://qik.com/video/45351274.

Clayton Vice Mayor Howard Geller reminds board members of why they ran for office and urges support of the charter: http://qik.com/video/45351400 (Partial recording.)

Ygnacio Valley HS Principal Bill Morones speaks against the charter, saying it would take money away from students throughout the district and could cause teachers to be displaced: http://qik.com/video/45351436. (Partial recording.)

YVHS parent Gordon Nadean says all district parents want what’s best for their children and he spoke against the charter, criticizing organizers for wanting to leave the district: http://qik.com/video/45351473 (Partial recording.)

Unfortunately, these are all the clips I was able to capture, due to limited storage capacity on my phone and Qik account.

Here’s a recap of the other speakers’ comments:

CVCHS board member Ted Merriam played recording of Lawrence telling Pleasant Hill Education Commission that he thought the charter would likely be successful.

Rebecca Jensen spoke against the charter, saying she has been appalled by the anger in the debate. She said she is a fairly new district employee and she appreciated Lawrence’s memo disclosing the financial impact of the charter. From my point of view, this looks like a small issue,” she said. “I would argue that the divisiveness did not start with the memo.”

Carmel Phillips, the parent of a special needs student, spoke against the charter, saying everyone is part of one community and should come together. “I believe there are a bunch of changes that could be made without the charter today…I am very concerned about how special education students would be served.”

Deb Heinzman said: “An important question that we need to answer is: What kind of a district do we want to be?” She said the debate should be accompanied by a plan and solid numbers. “This entire process has been reactionary on both sides,” she said. “I stand by my previous statement that the unintended consequences of the charter could be negative for the majority of children in MDUSD.” She said the district is doing wonderful things and urged the board to finish the strategic plan and work in a more proactive way. “When a school is begging for change, please investigate it right away,” she said. “More often not, I have seen that movement result in a win-win situation.”

Clayton Mayor David Shuey said: “Congratulations. After four months, you’ve brought an atmosphere of fear. What you’ve done is you’’ve brought a bunch of people out here under false pretense and false information.” He said the charter committee requested a special meeting and has not heard a response. “Whether it is a special meeting this week or whether it’’s Nov. 8, you’’ve heard all the elected reps from the state and federal government come in and tell you: ‘Let’s get this done.’” He said some charter supporters don’t want the district to approve the charter, because they’d rather have the county oversee it. But others do want to be approved by the district so they can be innovative and share ideas. “Please stop the fear mongering,” he said. “Let’s get this done unequivocally on Nov. 8.”

Charter supporter Gary Hood said: “This is not an issue about us against you or you against us. Clayton Valley High School has the right to go after the charter. They’’ve met the guidelines.” He said some were setting a very bad example for their children with the political back and forth debate. “This is very embarrassing,” he said.

Diablo View MS teacher Lynda Rush said she believes the charter’s plan is sound and she said her students are unable to communicate their Powerpoints because of Windows 2003 technology at her school. “Your letter explains a (teacher) bumping process but fails to say it is a yearly process. Your bumping process is not because of the charter. If 80 percent stay and 20 percent go, that would be normal operating procedure. I respectfully submit my application to the charter, if they would have me, and tender my resignation with the district.”

Carlyn Obringer of the California Charter Association said approving the charter would “truly create an exciting opportunity, an exciting incubator for best practices that can benefit the entire district.”

Monica Fitzgerald spoke against the charter, urging the board to consider comments made by some of the princpals and Rajan. “Everybody wants a fast decision, but I really think we need some more information,” she said. “Every single person in this room clearly cares about education and whatever you decide, I know that you have the best interests of the children in mind. I encourage to think about the language you’’re using.” She said she did not believe the board’s actions were a “power ploy.” “Never before have I been called a lap dog when I’’ve agreed with you. We have missed a big opportunity to have a conversation about education.” She urged people to take their anger and frustration to Sacramento and to have a meaningful conversation about the state of education.

Les Garaventa Jr., a CVHS parent and CPA, listed the qualifications of the CVHS charter lead accountant Marshall Mayotte, of ExEd. He said Mayotte found the charter would be successful and would not be a drag on the district office. Mayotte also found that CVHS receives the second lowest amount per student of all district high schools. “Reports about the district losing money to other schools is not entirely accurate, since the district has already chosen to spend less for CVHS than other high schools in the district,” he said.

Chase Davenport of the California Charter Schools Association said charter supporters were looking forward to list’s of expense reductions from the district as the result of the charter, such as costs associated with education programs, assessment, professional development, staff including site-based administration, food service, human resource function, facilities, finance, and staffing for payrolls. The charter group would also like to see the district build in additional revenues as the result of the charter, including oversight fees, facilities costs and any other contracted agreements that may be reached. “I urge you not to draw an analysis based on per student spending,” he said. Of over 140 charter school conversions across the state, he said his organization was unaware of one that had caused serious district cuts and said some ended up being cash positive. His organization was also unaware of any charter conversions that closed due to financial instability, he said.

Shuleen Martin, the parent of four children in district including two high school students, said she didn’t think now was a good time to approve the charter, because of the financial impact. “Maybe in the future,” she said, “when we have more money.”

Gregory Gardens Elementary Principal Cheryl Kolano encouraged the board to “truly consider every child.” She said she felt that some comments at the last board meeting were “bullying” and that she truly appreciates the members of the board. She said truly listening to all sides of the debate says a lot about who we are as a community. She ended by quoting the slogan of Ygnacio Valley High School leadership students: “Leadership is an action, not a position.”

Trustee Linda Mayo thanked everyone for coming and speaking. “I know that we may disagree about the role of the board in reviewing the 16 requirements,” she said. “It is part of our process and it is a charge from the Department of Education to do that. I appreciate our staff’s work an I appreciate the Clayton Valley High charter committee’s work as well.”

Trustee Sherry Whitmarsh also thanked everyone who came to speak. “As a board,” she said, “we have to do what’’s best for the school district.”

Board President Gary Eberhart said he thought it would be a “positive process” to partner with an outside agency and come up with an objective view of the ramifications of approval. He said the possible loss of about $2.5 million was an unintended consequence of the charter. “I actually think it’’s a legislative issue that needs cleanup,” he said. “I think the legislature has spoken many times about the power of charter schools and I don’’t think that was their intention…We would be remiss if we made any decision without considering the financial ramifications to the school district as a whole.”

He also criticized some of the emails he’s received about the charter. “The tone of some of these emails is frankly shocking,” he said. “And from people who are supposed to be leaders in our community — it’’s shocking…I’’m not going to point fingers and I’’ve tried not to respond to some of the negativity.”

He pointed out that the board took action in September and established a timeline through February. Initially, he said, the charter committee said it would be difficult to meet all the conditions in that time frame. He defended the amount of time the district is taking to review the conditions and objected to accusations that the district is “dragging its feet.”

“This is an important decision and it deserves and demands comprehensive analysis to determine whether or not the students in Clayton (and Concord) will be served well, the parents will be served well and we are living up to serving all students in the Mt. Diablo School District. So, that analysis that must take place is essential…I believe we will make a final decision on Nov. 8…When we make that decision, it wil be a full 100 days ahead of schedule. For anyone to suggest that the district is dragging its feet — it’’s just baseless. I’’m not ashamed that we are providing this analysis so we can make sure that whatever happens at Clayton Valley High School, it stands the test of time.”

Trustee Cheryl Hansen then said she wanted to make a few comments. At first, Eberhart objected, saying she had her chance to speak up earlier. However, she continued speaking.

She said students are looking to the board and district community us as models of civil discourse. “I’’ve said: ‘When a family is faced with a crisis, do you pull together or do you turn in on each other?’ Change should not be seen as a threat.”

She said the board needed to learn courtesy, respect and appreciation for civil discourse in public, which was why she had previously suggested holding a board study session about the charter.

At the end of the meeting, during Board Reports, Eberhart spoke about the need to communicate better.

“This is a time where as a board, we need to pull together and work as a team and work collaboratively and not step on each other and not accuse each other, but to find ways that we can work together,” he said. “Because what we do has a huge impact on the children of our district.”

He said he has recently felt the need to consult Roberts Rules of Order regarding how governing bodies can respectfully work together “for the betterment of the people we serve.” He said he has never before felt the need to walk around with that book in the 15 years he has been on the board.

“Fortunately, I only have one more meeting as President and then I can sit in someone else’s chair, which will be fine with me,” he said. “Are we going to have to raise our hand to be noticed by the president? Are we going to have to develop rules so in the middle of the night we don’’t’ send each other emails that are accusatory and disrespectful? We are here to do what is right for kids and it is impossible for us to carry that out if we cannot all get along together, if we can’’t extend the verbal courtesy to each other that’’s what we expect of our students at the elementary level. We expect our students to understand basic courtesies. I don’’t know what the answer is, but I know that somehow we have to get back to that. We have to have civil discourse and set an example for our kids and our staff.”

Do you believe the board will be ready to make a final decision on Nov. 8?

Posted on Thursday, October 27th, 2011
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 31 Comments »

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

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?

Posted on Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
Under: Clayton, Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Walnut Creek | 53 Comments »

Mt. Diablo district war of words continues in Clayton Valley charter debate

As allegations fly on both sides of the Clayton Valley High School charter debate in the Mt. Diablo school district, the war of words is intensifying.

Trustee Cheryl Hansen is butting heads with Board President Gary Eberhart (figuratively speaking). Clayton Mayor David Shuey and other charter supporters have also lashed out at Eberhart, along with Superintendent Steven Lawrence.

Lawrence and Eberhart are standing their ground, however, saying staff members need more time to review the charter committee’s most recent financial data, before they can make a final recommendation to approve or deny the charter petition.

“I received an e-mail from David Shuey indicating that we were dragging our feet,” Eberhart told me Monday. “None of that’s true.”

Eberhart said he had received an e-mail from Shuey earlier last week that said negotiations during a Tuesday meeting between staff and the charter committee had been positive and collaborative and that things were going well.

“But then when he presents it publicly, he says: ‘You guys are dragging your feet,’” Eberhart said. “It’s disingenuous. It’s not factual.”

Eberhart said the Oct. 25 deadline the charter committee set was never agreed to by the district.

“He (Shuey) keeps telling us that: ‘You need to bargain in good faith,’” Eberhart said. “Bargaining in good faith means not placing artificial deadlines out there, which mean: ‘Do this or else.’”

Shuey said he believed staff was working in good faith to try to meet the Oct. 25 deadline. He wrote the first email referenced by Eberhart after those productive meetings, he said.

“That is just ludicrous if he can’t see that my tone changed when the good feelings we had of working with staff were torpedoed by the failure to put it on the agenda (for a vote),” Shuey said. “We worked well with staff and then we found out that it wasn’t being put on the agenda. That’s disingenuous in any stretch of the imagination.”

Shuey said staff and the committee have come to agreements regarding conditions that seemed impossible or very difficult to meet.

“The proof’s in the pudding,” he said. “Staff has worked with us. The problem is that staff is not Gary and staff is not Steve, because Steve and Gary were really the ones who made the decision not to put it on the agenda (for a vote).”

Teacher Neil McChesney told me today that he and teacher Pat Middendorf asked the district on Sunday to hold a special meeting before Nov. 8 for a final charter vote. As of this morning, he said he had received no response.

Shuey said he did not understand why the district placed the charter on the agenda as an information item under “Superintendent’s Report.”

“I think that’s a direct conflict to what I repeatedly asked for and what board member Hansen asked for,” he said. “That screams of a monarchy, not a democracy, and I’m very disappointed in it.”

Eberhart said he anticipated the board would vote on the approval or denial next month.

“We told them originally that we wouldn’t make a determination until February,” he said. “Now, we’ve come out and said on Nov. 8, we will make a final decision. The superintendent said that staff will be complete with their review.”

He defended the decision not to put the item up for a vote Tuesday, saying Roberts Rules of Order don’t allow the board to successively revote on the same issue repeatedly, after it has already been defeated. (Referring to the Oct. 11 vote to rescind the Sept. 13 motion. It died after Hansen and Trustee Lynne Dennler voted to rescind, while Trustees Sherry Whitmarsh and Linda Mayo voted to stick to the original approval with conditions. Eberhart was absent at that meeting.)

Eberhart said Roberts Rules only allow for a motion to rescind or a motion to table.

“There cannot be a motion for an amendment,” he said. “There is no opportunity to place another motion on the agenda that would attempt to thwart the will of the majority of the board, which voted to approve the charter on 9/13. Roberts Rules is pretty clear on that.”

He also said the public might question why a board would keep reconsidering the same motion, after it has been defeated.

“We have a responsibility to present motions to the community that they’ll understand,” he said.

Hansen, however, disagrees with Eberhart’s interpretation of Roberts Rules.

“In Gary’s voice mail to me on Thursday afternoon, he stated twice that my charter school agenda item was not going to be placed on the agenda because ‘Robert’s Rules did not provide for it to be placed there,’” Hansen said in an e-mail. “In my follow-up email to him on Thursday, I challenged him to document the citations from Robert’s Rules of Order that gave him that authority or that substantiated his claim. Of course, I have never heard back from him. Personally, I am willing and able to cite specifics from Robert’s Rules that absolutely support my putting the agenda item on; in fact, Robert’s Rules have specific means to ensure that this can happen.”

Eberhart said he did not believe he was exceeding his authority as board president in his interactions with Hansen.

“Our board policy is pretty general in terms of determining the specific roles of board members,” he said. “The board members will provide direction to the superintendent. The superintendent will manage the district.”

Eberhart said the meeting between the charter committee and district was the superintendent’s jurisdiction.

“Being in the middle of a legal negotiation for the district is tantamount to managing the district,” he said. “Arguably, that’s not someplace the board members belong.”

He said he thought CSBA and other entities that provide board members with guidance regarding their roles would agree with that. The only exception, he said, would be when the board as a whole agreed that one or members should be a party to the negotiations.

Hansen, however, said she didn’t consider the meeting to be a legal negotiation.

“I’m unclear why Gary would state that these meetings are legal negotiations,” she said in an e-mail. “The entire process is public information, including the conditions as well as the summative report of findings. The board has never talked about this issue as a ‘legal negotiation’ nor has Gary or any staff member stated that to me. After I informed staff that I would be attending their last meeting with the charter school petitioners in order to listen firsthand to the discussion, I was simply told, ‘See you there.’ I would say that any perception of the meetings as legal negotiations are more the perceptions of Mr. Eberhart. I believe they are and should be public discussion.”

Although Hansen has said she wanted to attend the meeting to find out what’s going on behind the scenes, Eberhart said trustees can get that information by asking staff. He said the public will find out about progress during the Superintendent’s Report and during the staff presentation on Nov. 8.

“We’ve told them (the charter committee) we will not unreasonably delay this process,” he said. “We’re talking about making this decision three months prior to when we said we were going to make a decision. So, any attempt to frame this as that we’re trying to delay or that we’re not working to make a decision, it’s just baseless. Who in the public wants our staff to make a recommendation to the board prior to achieving an understanding of what’s in this plan? Is that really what the community wants? This is a big investment for the community to make. Don’t we want to make sure that it’s a good investment?”

Shuey said the charter committee hasn’t been given all of the actual costs for running the school from the district.

“The financial (aspect) has been problematic,” he said. “Bryan (Richards) has not been as forthcoming or as helpful (as the rest of staff). Maybe it’s because he’s busy.”

But Eberhart said it was his understanding that the district had fully cooperated with the charter’s information requests.

“I’ve asked the question 10 times, 10 different ways: ‘Are we withholding any financial information from the charter people? Have they gotten everything they’ve asked for?’ The answer is ‘yes,’” he said. “So, either someone’s lying to me, or this is a strategy to confuse the public, to tell people that we’re dragging our feet.”

Shuey said he believed Eberhart wasn’t getting accurate information regarding the district’s financial disclosures.

“If he’s being told that by staff,” Shuey said, “then when he finds out it isn’t true, I hope it opens his eyes and the rest of the board’s.”

Eberhart said the district has offered to have a third party review its financial analysis, but the charter committee hasn’t shown an interest in pursuing that.

But Shuey called this offer a “smoke screen,” saying it’s irrelevant to the charter decision. He also reiterated that he didn’t believe the district was using actual costs of operating CVHS in its projections.

Although the board doesn’t intend to vote on the charter Tuesday, the public can comment on it and the board can discuss it, Lawrence said in an e-mail.

“Deb (Cooksey) will be providing an overview of the meetings between the charter proponents and the district and where the district is in the review process,” he wrote. “She will provide an oral report.”

Today is Shuey’s birthday. Yet, he said he plans to speak at the meeting.

“I can think of nothing better to do on my birthday than to come and speak for the kids,” he said. “I’ve heard from a considerable amount of people that are upset with the district and I wouldn’t be surprised if other people came to express their displeasure.”

Shuey said hoped Eberhart would stand by his remarks that the board expects to make a final decision Nov. 8.

“I am encouraged by Gary’s comments, but they don’t quite touch home plate,” Shuey said. “He’s rounding third and he seems to be going home, which is where we want to go, but he hasn’t touched home plate. All he has to do is tell us ‘yes’ or ‘no’ by a date certain.”

Shuey said he is not happy with the way communications between himself and district officials have played out over the course of the charter debate.

“I didn’t start the war,” he said. “But, I’m not backing down, because my constituents have been clear and unequivocal that they want this for their kids. I want this for my kids and it’s something that needs to happen. They could have very easily done this much earlier and not had the animosity and the rancor, but they chose this path. I don’t feel good about the way it’s gone down. I don’t feel good personally. I’ve had to take a leading role as kind of a lightning rod.”

He said respect has to be continually earned.

“We’ve gone in stops and starts,” he said. “Just when we think we’re making ground, they pull the rug out from under us.”

Eberhart said he would also like to see communications improve — both with the public, as well as between board members.

“We have a responsibility to be professional and be collegial and do the business of all the children of the Mt. Diablo school district at every meeting we show up for,” he said.

Shuey said he hoped both sides could rebuild trust after the final decision is made.

“I continue to maintain that when it’s all said and done that everybody needs to take a step back and I hope that fences can be mended,” he said. “But, there has been a lot of damage done and it’s not going to be be assured, but I’m going to try.”

Do you agree with Eberhart’s characterization of the meetings between the charter committee and district staff as a “negotiations?”

Posted on Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 54 Comments »

MDUSD Board President disputes characterization of charter issue

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I was unable to reach Mt. Diablo district Superintendent Steven Lawrence, Board President Gary Eberhart or trustees Sherry Whitmarsh, Linda Mayo or Lynne Dennler before filing my story about the Clayton Valley High School charter effort, which appeared in today’s Times. I also did not speak to any of them before posting my last blog entry, which included interviews with Clayton Mayor David Shuey and Trustee Cheryl Hansen.

Although I don’t normally work on weekends, I came into my office today and found a voicemail from Eberhart, which was left at 6:32 pm. Friday.

He said he had been in meetings earlier and apologized for not being able to call back sooner.

“This is not as it is being portrayed, but that’s typical,” he said. “I’m certainly happy to provide an update of where we’re at and where things are headed. I think I have a pretty good idea of where things are at and where things are headed.”

Unfortunately, he didn’t specify what he felt was not being portrayed accurately. I called him back and left him a voicemail saying that I’m very interested in hearing his side of the story. So far, I haven’t heard back.

I also received an e-mail from Hansen, along with a copy of an e-mail she sent to Lawrence and Eberhart regarding the Nov. 8 board meeting.

Here’s what it said:

“October 21, 2011
TO: Steven Lawrence and Gary Eberhart
FROM: Cheryl Hansen, Trustee
RE: Agenda Item for November 8, 2011 Board Meeting

This is to notify you that I am placing on the November 8th Board meeting agenda an action item as follows:

Meeting: Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Category: Business/Action Item
Type: Action

Subject: Final Acceptance of Clayton Valley Charter High School Petition

Summary: Representatives from the district and the charter school committee have held a series of meetings since September 13, 2011 to address the conditions that the Board approved at the September 13 meeting. Final vote to approve or deny based on staff recommendations will be held on November 8, 2011.”

For comparison, here is what Hansen submitted for the Oct. 25 agenda:

“October 11, 2011
TO: Gary Eberhart and Steven Lawrence
FROM: Cheryl Hansen, Trustee
RE: Agenda Item for October 25, 2011 Board Meeting

This is to notify you that I am placing on the October 25th Board meeting agenda an item for discussion/action as follows:

Review, edit, delete, and/or amend the conditions attached to the Clayton Valley High School charter school petition on September 13, 2011.”

In an Oct. 14 e-mail to me, she wrote: “While the majority of the board did not support my motion to rescind, my hope is that the board will at the very least support amending the conditions to expedite this matter.”

OCT. 23 UPDATE: Hansen has sent me another email with an updated version of the item she wants to put on the Nov. 8 agenda, stressing that staff should make a final recommendation on the charter petition at that time.

Here’s the revised agenda item:

“Representatives from the district and the charter school committee have held a series of meetings since Sept. 13 to address the conditions that the Board approved at the Sept. 13 meeting. Prior to Nov. 8, district staff will have completed its final review and be prepared to present their summative recommendations to the Board for approval or denial of the charter petition. Final vote to approve or deny based on staff recommendations will be held on Nov. 8.”

Do you think the board should give the charter a final decision in November, instead of waiting until February, as originally planned?

Posted on Saturday, October 22nd, 2011
Under: Clayton, Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 17 Comments »

Superintendent to report on Clayton Valley charter Tuesday

After my last blog post regarding Mt. Diablo district Superintendent Steven Lawrence’s Friday e-mail stating that the board wouldn’t discuss the charter petition Tuesday, the district released the agenda with the item showing up under the “Superintendent’s Report.”

Here’s what it says:

“There has been good progress on the collaborative work being done between the CVCHS organizers and MDUSD staff. Unfortunately materials were still coming into the District as late as October 20, 2011 and our staff did not have an adequate opportunity to provide the necessary analysis prior to the October 25, 2011 Board meeting. We believe that our analysis can be completed prior to November 8, 2011.”

Before the agenda was released, I spoke to Clayton Mayor David Shuey and Trustee Cheryl Hansen about the superintendent’s initial message that the item wouldn’t be on Tuesday’s agenda. I also received a copy of an e-mail response to the superintendent’s initial message from Clayton Councilman Joe Medrano.

Calls to Lawrence and the other board members were not immediately returned Friday afternoon.

Here’s the e-mail Medrano sent:

FROM: Joe Medrano
TO: David T. Shuey, Neil McChesney, Steven Lawrence, Gary Eberhart, Cheryl Hansen, Linda Mayo, Lynne Dennler
SUBJECT: District response to Mayor Shuey on request to place charter approval/denial on agenda for October 25

“Dear Dr. Lawrence and Mr. Eberhart,

I am very disappointed in your decision not to have the charter on the agenda for the October 25th meeting. The charter committee has worked in good faith with the district in getting the 56 conditions met or waived by the district in order for the board to make a final decision on Tuesday October 25, 2011.

I felt your last board meeting was very productive and promising. I was pleased to see Board Member Hansen have the opportunity to speak her views on the charter and impressed by the courage that Board Member Hansen and Dennier took in changing their position on the approval with conditions, as it was not their intent for the conditions to be a way to delay the charter from being approved. Even though Board Member Mayo voted against rescinding the approval with conditions I believe she would like to see this move forward as quickly as possible as well.

It appears the only remaining issue is in regards to a disagreement over financial projections. You have the final numbers from the charter. If you disagree then you must deny the petition. If you agree then you must approve the charter. Either way there is no need for you to continue to delay this process any longer.

Board member Dennier acknowledged publicly at the last board meeting that the board and district have failed our schools and she does not want to see this trend continue. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Board Member Dennier to admit that publicly and I applaud her to want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem by keeping things status quo.

On behalf of the citizens and community of Clayton I strongly urge you to reconsider your position and I urge the other board members to contact you to have this item placed on the agenda. We implemented the ‘Do The Right Thing’ program in Clayton and CVHS to teach and remind our children of core values. How are they to believe and learn these values when those in power like yourselves are unwilling to lead by good example in following these values yourself.

Please do the right thing and put this decision on your agenda for Tuesday night 10/25/11.

Thank you,

Joe”

Shuey told me he didn’t think Lawrence had the authority to reject the charter item, since it had been requested by a board member. Instead, he speculated that Board President Gary Eberhart may have made the initial call not to include it on the agenda.

“If a board member requested it, which happened, I don’t think that Lawrence has the power in and of himself to do that,” Shuey said. “So I would have to assume based upon my understanding of agenda items that this decision was made with the approval of the board president.”

Shuey said he and other charter supporters might again speak to the board during public comment, if the item wasn’t placed on the agenda. I’m not sure if they can speak on the Superintendent’s Report.

He reiterated the committee’s desire to get a final approval or denial as soon as possible and said committee members would need to decide whether to attempt to appeal to the county.

Hansen said she was on her way to meet with Deb Cooksey for a briefing about the meeting between district staff and the charter committee that took place Tuesday.

Although Lawrence hadn’t sent Hansen a copy of his Friday e-mail, she said Eberhart called her Thursday to tell her he wouldn’t be putting the charter item on Tuesday’s agenda.

“I sent him a very direct letter demanding that the item be put on the Tuesday agenda,” she said. “So, we have a lot going on behind the scenes right now that’s very bad. I’ve gone through the appropriate steps to get it in place. This is not a request. This is a demand that my item be placed on the agenda for Oct. 25 and I’ve had no response.”

When I asked how Hansen felt about this, she didn’t mince words.

“I’m outraged and it’s unacceptable,” she said. “On Oct. 11, I said we cannot have these kinds of obstructionist tactics. We really need to have open, honest dialogue and behaviors. I’m absolutely outraged over the lack of respect that I think we’re showing to the public.”

I also asked why Hansen hadn’t attended the Tuesday meeting.

“I had a voicemail from Dr. Lawrence, which said that Gary Eberhart had followed up with him to say that if any board member were to attend this charter school meeting, that we would be asked to leave, and if the board member did not leave, that it would be postponed until after Oct. 25,” Hansen said.

Hansen said she did not believe Eberhart had the authority to prevent her from attending the meeting.

“The board president does nothing more than run a meeting and sit with the superintendent and compose the agenda,” she said. “So, this all goes beyond the authority of a board president.”

When I asked what recourse she has, Hansen said it was important to make the public aware of what was going on.

“I don’t think the pubic expects this kind of behavior,” she said. “I think it’s our responsibility to be open and honest in our dealings with each other and with the public. We are public officials. Things should not be squelched and obstructed. As far as I’m concerned, everything we do should be out in the open. But, a lot goes on behind the scenes that’s unacceptable. I don’t think this is building public trust. It’s actually fairly scandalous.”

I mentioned that the board seemed to think it was important to build public trust, when it held its recent strategic planning meeting.

“If we don’t act in a trustful manner,” Hansen said, “we’re not going to keep any public trust.”

Do you agree with the district’s decision to place the Clayton Valley charter on Tuesday’s agenda under the Superintendent’s Report, without a vote?

Posted on Saturday, October 22nd, 2011
Under: Education | 61 Comments »

MDUSD Superintendent says board won’t discuss charter Tuesday

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?

Posted on Friday, October 21st, 2011
Under: Education | 10 Comments »

Diabetes and Halloween — how do parents handle sweet treats?

Times columnist Tony Hicks is looking for parents of kids with diabetes for a story about how to keep them from falling into sugar comas on Halloween.

For more information, please visit his Facebook page at http://fb.me/RPmvmjG9.

Even kids without diabetes can face challenges in limiting candy consumption after big Halloween hauls.

How do you teach your kids to limit their candy consumption?

Posted on Friday, October 21st, 2011
Under: Education | No Comments »