By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 at 3:35 pm in Education.
Parents, teachers, students, administrators and members of the public on both sides of the Clayton Valley High School charter conversion issue are gearing up for the public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Pleasant Hill Elementary School, 2097 Oak Park Blvd. in Pleasant Hill.
The Contra Costa County Board of Education, which is hearing the petitioners’ appeal of the Mt. Diablo school board’s denial, is meeting in the school’s multiuse room to accommodate an anticipated large crowd. After the public hearing, the board will recess and reconvene in the Contra Costa County Office of Education board room, according to the agenda.
The county has posted the entire petition and board packet online at http://www.cccoe.k12.ca.us/supe/11mtgs/CVCHSCountyAppealPacket111511(PCM).pdf.
The board packet also included two letters that were not posted online. Although these are part of the public record, it has come to my attention that the authors may not have realized that their letters were available for public review. Therefore, I have removed the letters that were previously posted.
The county board expects to hear a lot of public comment and intends to limit speakers to 2-minutes each. However, anyone is free to email comments to the board ahead of the meeting or to submit written comments after making their public comments. Board email contact information is at http://www.cccoe.k12.ca.us/supe/board.html.
According to the agenda, Bill Clark, county associate superintendent of business services, will introduce the petition. Then, petitioners and district officials speak.
Although the agenda states that Clark’s comments would include “analyzing the petition,” county spokeswoman Peggy Marshburn told me that he will not offer any analysis or recommendation. Staff expects to recommend that the board approve or deny the appeal at its Jan. 11 meeting.
MDUSD attorney Deb Cooksey and CFO Bryan Richards expect to speak on behalf of the district.
In an email, Superintendent Steven Lawrence wrote: “We will focus on the reasons for the board’s denial of the petition.”
I pointed out that the district’s agenda report for Nov. 8 shows that the MDUSD board voted 4-1 to approve the following motion: “Deny Clayton Valley HS charter proposal.” The motion did not mention anything about adopting staff’s resolution to deny, or adopting staff’s factual findings.
Yet, Cooksey said she believes that the board did adopt the resolution, as well as staff’s factual findings. The charter supporters also appear to believe that the board adopted the resolution and factual findings, according to their appeal letter.
Here is the appeal letter:
“NOVEMBER 15, 2011
Joseph A. Ovick, Superintendent VIA HAND DELIVERY
Contra Costa County Office of Education
77 Santa Barbara Road
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
Re: Clayton Valley Charter High School Charter Petition Appeal to the Contra Costa County Board of Education
Dear Superintendent Ovick:
This letter is to inform you that Clayton Valley Charter High School (the “Charter School” or “CVCHS”) hereby submits an appeal of the denial of its charter petition by the governing board of the Mount Diablo Unified School District (the “District”) to the Contra Costa County Board of Education (the “County”), as provided for in Education Code Section 47605(j)(1) and the California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 11967(a).
As you may know, on November 8, 2011, the District governing board voted 4-1 to deny the Charter School’s petition. Following is a timeline of pertinent events:
June 8, 2011: The Charter School petitioners submit the charter petition to the District.
August 9, 2011: The District holds a public hearing on the charter petition, where an overwhelming number of teachers, staff, parents, and community members express their support for the Charter School.
September 13, 2011: The District board unanimously approves the Charter School’s petition, subject to the Charter School’s satisfaction of 56 conditions by February 2012. While CVCHS did not agree to a conditional approval, CVCHS immediately begins work on addressing the 56 conditions.
September 22, 2011: CVCHS outlines a detailed plan to submit proof of meeting all of the 56 conditions no later than October 12, 2011, so that the MDUSD Board could consider the matter at its meeting on October 25, 2011. From September 14 through October 12, 2011, the Charter School submits responses and supporting information and documentation to satisfy each of the District’s 56 conditions.
October 18, 2011: During a meeting with the MDUSD staff the CVCHS petitioners received word that they have met or negotiated a resolution of each of the 56 conditions, but that staff is waiting for an analysis of the fiscal documents.
October 21, 2011: CVCHS receives word that it will not be on the MDUSD Board agenda for the meeting of October 25, 2011. During the October 25, 2011 meeting, MDUSD Board member Cheryl Hansen requests that the matter be placed on the agenda for November 8, 2011.
November 8, 2011: An initial motion to approve the Charter School’s petition without conditions fails by a vote of 2-3. A second motion to deny the Charter School’s petition and adopt Resolution 11/12-25, including the District’s factual findings to deny the petition, passes by a vote of 4-1 (footnote: One of the Board members that supported the approval without condition voted for the denial so the petitioners could move on with the appeal to the County Board of Education). The District finds the Charter School did not meet four fiscal conditions out of the 56 original conditions placed on the District’s approval of the charter petition.
We note that the Charter School has garnered extraordinary support from teachers, staff, parents, community members, and political leaders throughout Contra Costa County. The Charter School’s petition was signed by over 80 percent of the permanent status teachers at Clayton Valley High School and is supported by more than 1200 signatures gathered from local community and business members. The Charter School is also supported by the City of Clayton, the City of Concord, the California Charter Schools Association, and respected political leaders including Congressman George Miller, State Senator Mark DeSaulnier, and State Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla.
Enclosed herein and described below are the required documents for an appeal of the denial of the Charter School’s petition by the District. The California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 11967(b) and County Board Policy requires that a charter school whose petition has been denied and that wishes to appeal its petition to the County Board of Education must send the following information within 180 days after the denial action:
(1) A complete copy of the charter petition as denied by the District, including the signatures required by Education Code Section 47605. In this matter the charter petition that was denied by MDUSD is the original petition and appendices (conditionally approved by MDUSD), attached under Binder Tab 1. All of the additional information and documentation submitted to MDUSD in response to the conditions, as well as all related correspondence, is attached under Binder Tabs 1(a)-1(ff). (Please see enclosed Table of Contents for detailed list of enclosures.)
(2) Evidence of the District governing board’s action to deny the petition (e.g. meeting minutes) and the governing board’s written factual findings specific to the particular petition, when available, setting forth specific facts to support one or more of the grounds for denial set forth in Education Code Section 47605(b). (A copy of the District governing board’s agenda for November 8, 2011, indicating the final vote for denial of the charter petition, is attached under Binder Tab 2. The District governing board’s Resolution 11/12-25 and written findings of fact for denial of the charter petition are also attached under Binder Tab 2(a). Finally, the Charter School’s response to the District governing board’s findings for denial is attached under Binder Tab 2(b).)
(3) A signed certification stating that petitioners will comply with all applicable law. (Attached under Binder Tab 3.)
(4) A description of any changes to the petition necessary to reflect the County as the chartering entity as applicable. (A detailed list of changes to reflect the County as the Charter School’s authorizer is attached under Binder Tab 4.)
The District Board voted to deny the Charter School’s petition on November 8, 2011. This appeal is therefore well within the 180 day limit for submission of an appeal of a charter petition.
According to Education Code Section 47605(b) and California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 11967(d), no later than 60 days after receiving a complete petition package, the Contra Costa County Board of Education shall grant or deny the charter petition. Because of the short time remaining to appeal to the State Board of Education we would respectfully request that the County adhere to this timeline during its consideration of the charter petition. Further, we respectfully request that the County Board hold an initial public hearing on the charter petition at its regularly scheduled meeting on December 7, 2011.
We look forward to working with your office and the County Board of Education as it considers the charter petition. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
Neil McChesney and Pat Middendorf, (Co-Lead Petitioners)”
Middendorf told me she plans to present a Powerpoint that will go into greater detail about why the charter organizers want to separate from the district than the presentation they made to the MDSUD board.
“Now,” she said, “we feel a little bit more free to say more things.”
Do you think the public comments to the county board will be different from those to the district board?
4:53 P.M. UPDATE: As noted above, I have deleted two letters that were included in the board packet. Therefore, I have also edited the first comment below to delete references to those letters.