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Clayton Valley High charter appeal hearing is Wednesday at Pleasant Hill Elementary

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

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

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.

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139 Responses to “Clayton Valley High charter appeal hearing is Wednesday at Pleasant Hill Elementary”

  1. Linda L Says:

    Theresa #98,
    All I can say is REALLY?


    Did the Superintendent propose a time frame for the parcel tax campaign?

  2. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No, he mentioned it as one of several ideas that had surfaced at the last budget reduction meetings held last year.

    Since Mirabella is looking for accountability, it will be interesting to see if the district decides to create the committee Dennler suggested after all.

  3. Just J Says:

    Hey Everyone Just found out a math teacher at Diablo View was arested.

  4. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s our story so far:

    We are looking for reactions from DVMS parents. Please contact me at 945-4764 or

  5. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here are more details about the arrest from WCPD:
    NOTE: Includes sexually explicit information.

  6. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Agenda for Tuesday’s MDUSD meeting is posted:
    Includes policies for equity and disproportionality on consent agenda, SunPower change order, SASS job descriptions and four items from Trustee Cheryl Hansen seeking timely distribution of board mins, composition of agenda, protocol for action items and a proposed “Board Action Accountability Progress Report.”

  7. Doctor J Says:

    My heart greives for the victim and hopes she will be provided the necessary professional counseling to overcome these incidents. As for the alleged perpetrator, school teachers convicted of sex crimes don’t fare well in prision. I don’t sanction that, but it is reality of our “correctional system”.

  8. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The teacher has confessed to the crimes.

  9. Just J Says:

    He was a horrible teacher not to mention a slime ball!
    Last year he started his back to school night with parents saying if your son or daughter says they are having problems in math because of the teacher don’t believe them because they lie at this age. It took me months to have my child moved from his class. I hope Mrs. Bannister startes listening to parents complaints now!
    I am just sick over this.

  10. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Do you think other parents had complained about him?
    Was the principal responsive to your complaints?

  11. Doctor J Says:

    Agenda: 1. Why is Lawrence being evaluated again ?
    2. The Agenda items on Equity and Disproportionality state they are adopting the April 19 draft — not true. Parents and families have been removed from the current draft but were included on April 19. The Strtegic Plan draft is to include parents and families.

  12. Doctor J Says:

    @Alicia M. & Linda L: Have these Measure C substantial increases even been discussed before the Measure C committee ?

  13. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a post about the arrest:

  14. Flippin' Tired Says:

    The board wants a parcel tax? They have a better chance of being hit by a bus in the middle of the Bay – as long as it’s not a bus under the supervision of Rolen.

  15. Just J Says:

    Theresa, I know other parents complained about him. I had many ask me how I got
    My son moved. I am loud and I do not back down. I was told that I should back off and let my child figure it out. That irrited me so much I just got louder. My issue was not with sex it had to do with the fact that he was a horrible teacher. You can go back every year and I am sure you will find many kids and parents to come forward. Things from lack of teaching to looking down girls tops.
    I was told in the beginning of the process that if my child was moved then there would be a line of parents to request a move.
    I am so sad for the student that was taken advantage of and raped by this monster.
    I hope and prey she will be able to move on and they put this guy in general population.
    I also feel so horrible for his wife and child.

  16. Doctor J Says:

    @Just J, you are rightly indignant as we all are. With a full confession, he likely will never get out of prision during his lifetime — all judges these days give the max for sex crimes against children. But all lousy teachers are not sexual predators. We don’t know how these incidents came to light. We just hope that we don’t have a Penn State type incident where there were known sexual predator issues, and they were properly reported and not followed up. If some of these issues were reported, but not acted upon you never know just how high it can reach — Penn State fired a legendary football coach and its President. In the meantime, we are facing some tough issues in this district. Lets get back to those !

  17. Linda L Says:

    Dr. J,
    Are you talking about the 3rd change order to the solar project? Yes, it has been known for quite awhile. The stated reason for the increase was primarily the addition of A/C at quite a few schools however the A/C projects were known at the time the contract was signed.

    I find it interesting that the four solar company bids did not all include the same size project and in fact Sun Power proposed the smallest project at 11.1. If it cost $10 mil more now to bring it up to 12.1 then I suspect their under estimation was to their advantage since they originally had the second highest price tag.

    Also if you go back to the June 2010 solar presentation the District estimated the solar project size at 12.6. This was just three month before the contract was awarded.

    Lowest energy producing project at time of bid
    Second highest priced
    $10 mil in change orders for A/C that has been planned since Measure C 2002.

    Also $223mil in projected savings. Who is doing this math, Gary doesn’t even quote these numbers anymore.

  18. g Says:

    Alicia: I would like to find some sort of bid process that was done for the “lights” under the solar panels. They’ve already spent over $100,000.00 to IJK Company for them (so far). Was the cost of that extra electricity built into project performance guarantees–and added electric cost versus savings?

    Also, I noticed they have added Alves Ranch into the December Quarterly report. Although it is not listed in this 2010 budget, please keep in mind going forward that they already spent $35,000.00 to Kleinfelder Inc. for Geotechnical Investigation Reports back in Sept and Dec 2006. Hopefully we won’t have to pay to duplicate those reports now 5-6 years later. I think Seeno has used that area as a dirt dump sight for the last several years while they built out the Ranch property. Who knows what is in there now?

  19. g Says:

    Linda L: As for you applying for the NEW 2002 BOC clean-up team—good luck with that. I think if Pedersen had seen Alicia coming he would have never allowed her to be on the 2010 Committee.

    You are already a “known”, and I doubt you have a snowball’s chance of ever having a really close look at the 2002-2009 books!

  20. g Says:

    Dr J: You ask why Lawrence is being evaluated again? HaHa. Do you really think the July and November sessions were strictly for evaluation? I suspect there was more than a little bit of discussion about what to do with CVCHS, and even Cheryl would be forbidden from revealing it if they did use those sessions to discuss CVCHS. It is a criminal offense for a board member to disclose what goes on in a closed board meeting—unless asked by a Grand Jury….

  21. Just J Says:

    I may not know that much about school finances but a bid should always be apples to apples
    Did we really think that they wouldn’t add millions to the order.

    G good point on the closed session. Is there something that says if the business handled in close session is not what was on the agenda is ok to change? Or maybe the board will have an excuse on why they could not finish their business and say it is just a continuation.

  22. Doctor J Says:

    @G #120 There must a way for an honest Board member to object and bring to the light of day improper discussions made in closed session. For example, I suspect the two MOU’s with MDEA on the SIG grants, 1 and 2, were discussed and approved in closed session, because they never made it to the open session, and weren’t even specifically noticed in closed session. I would believe that is a Brown Act violation. Just like the example from the First Amendment Coalition about the exhoribant attorney fees being approved in closed session at some unknown school district.

  23. g Says:

    Alicia: Also–is there any way to tell if they are combining 2002 and 2010 Measure C money??? I notice that they just paid Christy White Accountancy a total of $26,745.00 to “Correct Program Codes”. That doesn’t sound like the contracts to “Audit” the two Measures that were approved.

    Just J: No. They are not supposed to do anything in closed session except exactly what is posted on the Agenda, but they only have to “report out” to us if/when a vote is taken. We would never be told what they may have discussed.

  24. Anon Says:

    good luck getting a parcel tax. a campaign requires a united district. mdusd has divided the district-mirabella said so. mdusd principals are attacking clayton valley and not aiming to raise revenue. cue adele “rolling in the mud”

  25. Doctor J Says:

    @G Does Christy White identify the dates of work ? Not sure where you found this info. Sounds like work they are having to do to fix the books for the audit, but not sure ?

  26. Doctor J Says:

    I found it interesting that the “new” job descriptions — over a year and a half after they formed the SASS department — Agenda Items 16.14-.17, don’t mesh with the fiscal categorical “realignments” set forth in Agenda item 10.15. If the personnel in SASS are really doing the work as described in 10.15, shouldn’t it be in their job descriptions ?

  27. g Says:

    I have figured out the reports and payable codes a bit better. The warrant reports (in the Agenda) show two separate payments to Christy White “to correct program codes”, but the amounts, when broken down equal the amount of the Audit contracts, and one is coded to 2010 Measure C and the second is coded to 2004/2006 Series Measure C. Interesting description. Hopefully the “Audits” will be published soon, since they’ve apparently had them for quite a while now.

  28. Doctor J Says:

    If the audit reports are produced next week, perhaps its time for another Public Records request for the Audits and Management letters. 2004/06 is a very curious description.

  29. Doctor J Says:

    An amazing number of vacancies on the Budget Advisory Committee approval list. Most of the Board members have not appointed anyone, neither have most of the local “Chambers”.

  30. g Says:

    Not really curious. There is still money in the 2002 Measure C accounts. The original Audit reports were taken from “selected samples” of expenditures and only went up to 2008. They only asked her to audit spending of the bonds sold in 2004-2006 starting from activity in 2009/10 and 10/11. Then, if they like those audits, they will have her audit the next two years (of that same Measure C).

  31. Doctor J Says:

    Doesn’t that leave gaps in the audits for all of the bonds sold under Measure C 2002 ?

  32. g Says:

    Gaps-a-plenty! 2002 Audits are at

    The last one was just thru June 2008. Her current contract is at

    Note–there is a year of activity missing from 6/08 to 6/09.

  33. anon Says:

    Doctor J, that’s because the committee is an utter joke! They almost never have the meeting on the day they say they will, always cancel or change last minute and really don’t provide any fresh content or information that would be deemed unique. Might as well attend board meetings and save yourself a headache.

  34. Alicia M. Says:

    @#131 Dr. J – There will be gaps in the 2002 Measure C audits for the period from 2002 to June 30, 2009, since the district engaged for “agreed upon procedures” in lieu of the required performance audits.

  35. Anon Says:

    If you want the truth and accountability of the 2002 and 2010 Measure C, write to your senator and and ask them to have the State Controller perform a Proposition 39 audit.

  36. Alicia M Says:

    @#123 – G: It is my understanding that the County Treasurer maintains the 2002 and 2010 Measure C money. In reading the official bond offering statements, it discloses that the bond proceeds will be held with the County Treasurer in the credit of the “Building Fund”. Any proceeds earmarked for bond principal and interest payments, shall be kept in the “debt service fund”, which is also held with the County Treasurer. In order to keep track of bond proceeds receipts and disbursements, the district should be keeping separate accounting records for each bond Measure and the County Treasurer should also be keeping separate accounting records for each Measure.

  37. Doctor J Says:

    @#136 Both the ledgers of the County Treasurer and the District for both Measure C bonds should be Public Records and made available for inspection within the ten day period. Is there a problem getting them ?

  38. Wait a minute Says:

    I don’t know about the County, but if someone requests of the MDUSD any copies of, shall we say Sensitive information, they will likely be charged for it as Alicia was.

    Meanwhile Rolen’s buddy attorney in Chico who was appointed Bond Counsel gets his cut of the public’s money!

  39. Wendy Lack Says:

    The daily news tells us all we need to know about the future of the school choice movement — and why Districts such as MDUSD will likely face more charter petitions:

    “Wracked with frustration over the state’s legions of unprepared high school graduates, the California State University system next summer will force freshmen with remedial needs to brush up on math or English before arriving on campus.

    ‘I’m not at all optimistic that it’s going to help,’ said Sally Murphy, a communications professor who directs general education at Cal State East Bay, where 73 percent of this year’s freshmen were not ready for college math. Nearly 60 percent were not prepared for college English.”

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