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More details about MDUSD busing, special education

By Theresa Harrington
Saturday, November 12th, 2011 at 3:42 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

At the Nov. 7 special education Community Advisory Committee meeting, the minutes from the Oct. 3 meeting were distributed.

These included notes regarding the transportation update provided by general counsel Greg Rolen, in response to complaints the district had received about students not being picked up and dropped off on time, being dropped off at the wrong location or not being picked up at all.

Here is what Rolen told the CAC, according to the minutes (which are not posted on the district’s website):

“Transportation Update — Mildred introduced Greg Rolen, General Counsel and Angie Goakey, Transportaton Manager. Greg told the CAC that the two main reasons for the transportation issues this school year were the transition from using Durham buses to using district buses and the unanticipated increase in ridership. Other statistics he talked about included:

- Approximately 850 students being bussed each day, which is an increase of 183 students from the last school year.
- NPS (Non Public School) ridership increased from 64 students last year to 86 students this year.
- NCLB (No Child Left Behind) ridership increased from 139 students last year to 165 students this year.

Greg also noted the following:
- School closures also caused a burden to the system.
- The statistics mentioned did not include field trips or sporting events.
- There are approximately 22,000 drop-offs and pick-ups per week.
- The process to get students routed onto buses takes about 10 days to two weeks.

The floor was opened to questions.”

The minutes don’t give any information about the questons or answers.

Here is what Mildred Browne, assistant superintendent for special education, said in her report to the committee, according to the minutes:

“Mildred reported that…the California Department of Education (CDE) reps were here in September for another phase of the verification review. This review was headed by Bryan Cassin. The CDE reps will return on Oct. 18 and they will continue to return to the district until we are 100 percent compliant. Mildred shared that a major lawsuit in L.A. that was recently approved by the court, requires that SELPAs (Special Education Legal Plan Areas) have the responsibility of providing educational services to students in jail. This ruling has to be added to our Service Plan by Nov. 1; it will be approved at the Oct. 25 board meeting.

Mildred also shared that this school year has been very turbulent. Many new students have moved into the district. A lot of students coming into the district were in NPS previously and a lot of new students have behavioral issues; many of these students are general education students. The special education department will have to go back to the board for additional FTEs. There are many students that still need placement.

Finally, Mildred talked about teachers and vacancies. Currently, there are 10 teacher vacancies. Once their credentials are cleared, there will only be four openings. A handout was provided to the group identifying the various vacancies in the district. Mary-Ann (Tucker) noted that the district sub pool is being used until vacancies are filled.”

At the end of the meeting, Browne reported that June 2012 is the last time special education students will be able to take advantage of the California High School Exit Exam waiver, according to the minutes. “After that date,” the minutes state, “special education students will have to take the alternative form of the exam to demonstrate their proficiency of the subject matter.”

Do you believe the district’s busing issues have been resolved?

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  • Doctor J

    @TH #49 Teachers do complain and the principals pass them onto Transportation where they fall on deaf ears. Greg Rolen’s weekly [make that weakly] transportation meeting for the last two years has been more of a ruse than a fix — mostly to cover up the problems rather than find a solution. The Board and Supt are responsible for not ensuring that there was a viable plan in effect when the district proposed taking over transportation again. The problems are really simple: too few bus routes, and bus routes that are too long, all designed to “save money” and disregrd the safety and education of children. Now Rolen has exceeded his transportation budget by nearly a million dollars this year alone and children are still ariving late to school and spending up to 1 1/2 hours on the bus to go home, when many of these children are special needs and end up wetting or soiling on the long bus ride home. The answer from transportation is always the same: we’ll investigate it. When one hole is plugged in the dike, another starts leaking. Putting the district’s lawyer in charge of transportation has to be one of the most stupid decisions of the Eberhart, Mayo and Whitmarsh regimes: all so he could get a $27,000 raise that has now cost the distict at least a million dollars. Just think if they had spent as much time on bus routes as they did on opposing the CVCHS charter, what could have been accomplished.

  • Doctor J

    @TH #50 I was just responding to the post about his financial management skills backed up with a reference to a public record rather than pure inuendo.

  • Just J

    Theresa, I know why they have a union and Mike Langley seems to be a pretty good guy. I am just telling what I hear out there. I hear teachers say this is between you and me. I would get in trouble if they knew I said something.
    Also, even during the Charter process many teachers and subs said they could not speak because they wanted to keep their job. I don’t know if it is just fear or if the district could find a loop hole to make life very difficult for these teachers.

    Back to Special Education bussing. This problem needs to be fixed and fixed now! I can understand a few issues in the first couple of weeks of school but we are almost 1/2 way into the school year. These kids need to be in school. The programs that they are being bussed too are so very important to their life.
    They do some great work at the sites.

  • Just J

    Dr. J and G. While I respect what you have to say His personal life is NO ONES business. Divorce with Children is hard enough. His personal life is his.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Just J: The charter has been accused of “dividing” the community. Many who oppose it are advocating for “unity.”
    If teachers are afraid to speak up about special education busing problems districtwide, do you believe that unity exists now?
    Also, as previously stated, I agree regarding Rolen’s personal life and have deleted the comment you referred to.

  • Doctor J

    @Just J #55. I believe G’s point was that distractions in one’s personal life can impede job performance. About 50% of marriages go through divorce. However, sometimes the devil is in the details.

  • Just J

    I do not believe the Unity exists now nor did it before the Charter debate. I think the district is what is dividing the community. They play coverup the problems and blame someone else.
    I myself have in the past been very affraid to speak up in fear of loosing services for my child. I have grown in the past few years and understand my rights better now and am no longer affraid of the scare tactics used by the district.

    The Charter just came to the front of the argument because of what the District said. However they still have not prooved to me that they would infact loose money. They also have not offered any explanation of the funding rates they use. We have a bigger problem on our hands then people realize.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Just J: The district plans to hold a meeting on Monday with principals and two parents from each school to review the financial impact of the charter. Do you know if anyone on the charter committee has been invited to this meeting?

  • Just J

    Not that I am aware of. This meeting should be open to all parents and community members not just a selected few. If the district really wants to bridge the gap and create Unity then everyone should be included and let the conversations start. It is wrong to only let a few select people hear what is going on and then we have to depend on them relaying the information. This is where the problem is. It is open for lies (either out right or by omission)

    Will you be covering this meeting Theresa? I hope so.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Just J: Yes, Superintendent Steven Lawrence has invited me to attend the meeting. I just spoke to Clayton Mayor David Shuey, who said that some charter committee members want to attend, but he doesn’t believe they have yet been invited.
    Lawrence has not yet directly responded (yes or no) to my question asking whether the meeting is open to the public and to charter committee members.
    He said in an email that the principals and parent reps would fill the room the district has chosen to hold the meeting in.
    Do you think limited room capacity would be a valid reason for denying admission to the meeting to the public and charter committee?

  • School Teacher

    Total garbage. If limited room capacity is a valid reason for limiting the number of people to attend a meeting, maybe they should keep this same priniciple in mind site administrators load up a classroom designed for 24-28 students with 32+. Oh yeah, we can just add more desks, and “presto”, we have increased classroom capacity.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Except for labs, where more stations are being added.
    So far, there’s no word on when the new middle school science labs championed by Superintendent Steven Lawrence will be built.
    The status of these modernization projects is “TBD” and “pending,” according to the BOC Quarterly Report.

  • Jaded

    I believe anyone can attend this meeting on Monday.
    That is anyone who has childcare, or who isn’t still trying to get home from work by 5 pm. Not a very convenient time for parents. I am thinking that may have been the plan all along.
    Yes, the charter people will be there.

    Theresa, do you know how the state or district (not sure who decides) arrives at the $6300 blended ADA given to unified school districts. Is the blended rate the same for all unified districts throughout the state? I have come to understand that High School only districts, such as Acalanes, are funded at the high school rate of somewhere in the $7000 or higher range, can’t remember the exact amount.
    I understand the frustration in the idea that the Charter would “take” money away from other schools, but in reality, no school is funded exactly the same. Some schools have many more experienced and more highly educated staff, costing more. Should we then ask that they get shorted on supplies and such, because their staff costs more to employ?
    This all just one big hornet’s nest, and we are continually being stung, over and over again.

  • Just J

    They could have this meeting in a place such as Monte Gardens where Board meetings are held or at one of the High School gyms. Limited space my butt. This is a way to shut me out and I am offended with that. I want to go to the meeting but even the school sites did not let me know that I could be a parent involved. This is BS and it is stinky.

  • Just J

    So Jaded if anyone can go Where is it and what time is it?

  • Helll Freezing Over

    @ Theresa #58:

    !. How was this Monday meeting scheduled – I don’t recall any published emails, phone calls or posting on the district site to inform district parents.
    2. Was the intent of the meeting on Monday with the all (?) schools published at all – is there a documented agenda that includes the true ‘impact’ with numbers or is it just a general statement of ‘impact’?
    3. How were the 2 parents from each of 50+ schools determined/invited?

    This does NOT ring true as a study session as had been suggested during the charter vote discussion at the last board meeting – from my point of view this appears to be a defensive session to back up a vote to deny the charter.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Jaded: The district has not yet said that the meeting is open to the public.
    Regarding funding, hopefully Bryan Richards and the FCMAT official will be able to shed some light on these questions, if they are asked by those in attendance.
    I am also planning to explore the funding issue in an upcoming story.
    Just J: I don’t know why the choice was made to hold the meeting at a different location. It’s unclear why a larger venue was not chosen.

  • Theresa Harrington

    HFO: There is no notice of the meeting on the district’s website and it’s unclear whether those who attend will be given any written materials to review: http://www.mdusd.org/Pages/default.aspx.
    It’s also unclear how the parent reps were chosen and invited.
    Here’s what Lawrence told me in an email:
    “I requested that principals attend a meeting next Monday evening along with two parent leaders from their site. The purpose is to review the District’s current budget situation based on the November 2nd letter from the Contra Cost Office of Education providing financial guidance on the 1st interim report, and the possible approval of the charter application at the county or State level.”
    The district board has already denied the charter. However, the charter has appealed to the Contra Costa County Board of Education and is awaiting a public hearing date.

  • Just J

    It seems that the UNITED front is just that a front. It would be so much better to include the community. Afterall this is about all of us. The school system for the public and funded with our tax dollars. As A tax payer I have a right to hear about budgets.

  • g

    None of these people were hired to be “in-fighters”. They were hired to support Education, and do it with what you’ve got.

    The District has officially denied the Charter. What purpose can they have of taking more Dent and principal time away from current issues? Certainly their wolf cry of “Unity” is not their motive! If the principals and known “like minded” parents are being summoned to try to build a force to fight the Charter at the County level, then they are not attempting to bring the District together. Just the opposite! And they are doing it in their own ‘down and dirty’ style—which speaks very well to my (deleted) point.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Do you believe the public will trust the committee selected by Superintendent Steven Lawrence and school principals to “independently” evaluate the data?

  • g

    BS! Lawrence says: “The purpose is to review the District’s current budget situation based on the November 2nd letter from the Contra Cost Office of Education…”

    Isn’t that what he has a Budget Advisory Committee for?

  • Theresa Harrington

    That is a good question. When I mentioned to Kish Rajan that the district already has a Budget Advisory Committee, which is ostensibly an independent committee established to review budget information, he said he didn’t realize that such a committee existed.
    Do you think the district should task the BAC with independently reviewing the charter’s financial impact? Or, do you think BAC members should meet jointly with the committee on Monday? It’s unclear whether the BAC has been invited to the meeting.

  • Just J

    How can we trust them when we didn’t even know about it to begin with. I have 2 students is 2 differnt schools and I was not made aware that I could be selected or even let the Admin. know that I was interested in this. This is a meeting to combat the Charter as G pointed out. This just goes to show that the district has done and will do anything to act in bad faith.
    This is not how you Unify everyone.

  • anon

    Theresa, no the BAC is a bit of a mess. Last minute cancelled meetings, reschedules, and no, no notification of this Monday meeting.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I don’t see any BAC meetings listed on the district’s calendar between September and December: http://www.mdusd.org/Lists/UpcomingEvents/calendar.aspx?CalendarDate=11%2F18%2F2011
    At the last CAC meeting, the BAC rep reported that many people have dropped off the committee and haven’t been replaced. I don’t know if any effort is being made to recruit new members.

  • Linda L

    I will be attending the meeting on Monday and I hope we get the opportunity to independently evaluate the data and have our questions answered.

  • Just J

    I understand that a connect Ed phone mesage went out about this meeting. I did not get it and am wondering if Clayton Valley and Diablo View were excluded from this? Can anyone verify if they received this call from connect ed?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Linda: How were you selected to be on the committee?
    In an email, Superintendent Steven Lawrence said that Ms. Deal, from FCMAT, would be present at the meeting, along with Richards.

    “Between the two of them,” he wrote, “we can answer questions about the FCMAT review as well as how the District developed its numbers.”

  • Theresa Harrington

    I am unaware of a Connect Ed message.

  • Anon

    Jaded #63,

    You might be less jaded and more mad when you learn that unified districts throughout the State do not receive the same funding. MDUSD receives the lowest rate, a little more than $5000 per pupil ADA. But San Francisco Unified gets thousands more ADA, St. Helena got $14,500 last year, and other districts get even more. In San Jose area, one rich district receives twice as much ADA as a nearby poor district. California is stuck with funding levels that haven’t been updated since the 1970s. To fix this a “fairness in funding” bill passed the Legislature in 2000 but it was vetoed by Gov. Davis. That is another reason why Sacramento needs major reform.

  • Wait a minute

    Once again we have Rome Burning while the Neros fiddle!

    While Stevie Lawrence, EberMarsh, the lawyers are throwing all the district resources into a divisive fight against the charter by creating an AstroTurf group to oppose it, the district continues to deteriorate.

    The charter is now out of the hands of the district and they should start to try and adress the many district-caused reasons there was a charter movement to begin with, but no, their vanity precludes that.

  • g

    Just J: You can bet CV/Sue Brothers will be front & center with her two chosen hand-maidens.

  • Helll Freezing Over

    what is a connect ed message? an automated phone call from the district? if so, I did not get a call, and my student is not in CV or CV feeder pattern.

  • Theresa Harrington

    WAM: I asked Superintendent Steven Lawrence if a committee would be convened to address these issues, as suggested by Trustee Lynne Dennler and supported by Board President Gary Eberhart, Clayton Mayor David Shuey and Walnut Creek City Councilman Kish Rajan.

    Here was his response, in an email:

    “We did have a meeting last spring to learn of the concerns that the charter petitioners have. The District then began working to address those concerns by, among other things, interviewing Clayton Valley staff members to determine what they felt was going well and what needed to be changed. Based on those interviews, we made leadership changes at the school. Though we appreciated the efforts of individual administrators at Clayton Valley, there was consensus that a new leadership team would help move the school forward. Since her arrival, Ms. Brothers has meet with both parents and staff members to identify concerns and address them. We continue to support Ms. Brothers, like our other principals, to meet the needs at their site. If the principal at any site thinks it would be useful to have me attend a site leadership meeting to listen to concerns, I would be happy to do that.”

  • Anon

    Is it possible to get a judge to grant an injunction against this meeting to prevent it until it is properly noticed?

    Any advice would be appreciated. I am willing to do the leg work but need to know where to start.

    I think at this late date, an injunction from a judge might be out only hope.

  • Doctor J

    Ask your principal to forward a copy of the email sent by Supt Lawrence on Monday Nov 14 to all principal announcing the “public meeting”.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Kish Rajan forwarded me a copy of the Nov. 14 email to principals, which clearly states that it is a public meeting.

    Here’s what Superintendent Steven Lawrence sent to David Shuey today, in response to Shuey’s request to attend:

    “The meeting is at the Loma Vista Center from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. We asked each principal to invite two parents because that would be a group of about 150 people. However, as long as there is room in the room we won’t be turning people away.”

  • Anon

    I will be there and intend to protest the fact that this was not a properly noticed meeting.

    I will also attempt to determine the identities of all invited individuals and post that information for all to see.

  • Theresa Harrington

    In the email to principals, Lawrence asked them to invite “two of your parent leaders.”

  • Doctor J

    @Anon #89 I am not sure such an informational meeting needs to be noticed but perhaps G can give us some direction on that.

  • Just J

    This was very Deceitful! There is no doubt about it.
    Now who is saying the Charter is dividing the community?

  • Theresa Harrington

    If more than two board members attend, it needs to be publicly noticed as a board meeting. Trustee Cheryl Hansen plans to attend.
    Also, Lawrence sent an email inviting Rajan, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla and Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, telling them that he was following up on the suggestion to hold a “public meeting.” He copied Barb Johnson from Rep. George Miller’s office.

  • Just J

    Oh so Bonilla De Saulnier and Miller along with a walnut crrek council get invited but the mayor of Clayton does not and the charter committee does not and the public does not.

    This a the districts wasy of gathering troops to go against the Charter. Good thing for us that this is all documented here. They are spending way too much time on this and it is showing how STUPID they are!

  • Theresa Harrington

    I will do a separate blog post with the emails, along with additional details from interviews.

  • Doctor J

    Lawrence’s Dog & Pony show will be as phony as a $3 Bill. Limited invites, screened questions, discrimination against CVCHS supporters and a political agenda — not what is in the best interests of the CVHS students. I hope all of you have gone to the State CDE website and watched the hour plus of the Pittsburg Synergy charter approval. Lawrence’s muckraking will not be tolerated by the State BOE. I think that State Supt. Torlakson will have to disqualify himself from any state hearing involvement because it is my understanding he continues to be on a leave of absence from MDUSD and therefore has a potential financial interest in the outcome.

  • anon

    I have students at DVMS and CVHS and have received no notice and no connect ed

  • anon

    Here’s a note some parent leaders got in other feeder patterns, not CV.

    Good Afternoon,
    In order to publicly answer questions about the District’s budget and our calculations around the loss of funding that will result if the County or State approves the Clayton Valley conversion to a charter school, we will hold a public meeting at the Loma Vista Center next Monday, November 21, 2011 from 5 – 7 p.m. I know this is the first Monday of vacation, and I completely understand people may have travel plans or other commitments that will not allow them to attend the meeting. We are holding the meeting on November 21 because Debi Deal, who conducted the FCMAT review, is in the area and able to attend at that time. Please invite two of your parent leaders to attend the meeting. If there are specific questions that you or your parents would like to have answered at the meeting, please forward your input to Rose or me so we include the information in the discussion. If people are unable to attend this meeting we will have follow-up evening meetings to address budget concerns. Again, I am sorry that this meeting is during vacation, but Ms. Deal lives in Southern California and happened to be working with another district in our area on November 21st.

    Sincerely,
    Steven Lawrence
    925-930-7823

  • anon

    Is that his home number??? HA HA HA

  • Theresa Harrington

    Yes, this is the email that Lawrence forwarded to Rajan. However, Lawrence did not send out a “News Update” to let the community know about it.