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Live blog of MDUSD Dec. 13 meeting

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, December 13th, 2011 at 9:00 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

In an attempt to update the community more quickly about what happens at Mt. Diablo school board meetings, I am going to try to live blog tonight.

So far, the board voted 4-1 to elect Sherry Whitmarsh as president (with Hansen voting no) and 4-0-1 to elect Linda Mayo vice president (with Mayo abstaining). Mayo nominated Whitmarsh and Dennler seconded.

The board also unanimously reappointed Superintendent Steven Lawrence as board secretary.

The board voted 3-2 to change meeting dates to Mondays (Hansen and Mayo voted against).

Board unanimously approved consent agenda, except item 10.31, which was pulled.

Student reps reported on a variety of activities.
MDHS student said the campus is losing millions of dollars in QEIA funding.
YVHS student reported school band won first place at Napa Band Review.

Mayo asked that appointments be made before public comment.

Board appointed Christian Patts administrator of related services 5-0.

Board appointed Hunt Lin program specialist special ed. 5-0.

Board appointed Budget Advisory Committee members as presented. 5-0

Mike Fine asked the board what it intends to do to improve math test scores at CVHS.

Janet Fitzpatrick spoke against cuts to IMA II positions.

Several MDHS teachers said a majority of campus teachers have voted no confidence in Principal Kate McClatchy.

Debbie Hickey of CST Local 1 spoke against cuts to her bargaining unit.

Lawrence reported on Diablo View MS developments and Wells Fargo grant of $40,000.

CFO Bryan Richards presented a budget PowerPoint and board unanimously approved a “Qualified” budget, meaning the district may not be able to pay its bills for three years.
Trustee Gary Eberhart asked Richards to create a one-page document that shows the district is not “sitting on a $43 million pot of gold.”

Board unanimously agreed to approve contract increase with Non-Public Agency, Ed Support Services, as presented.

Board unanimously approved budget allocation for Seneca Center, revised MOU.

Board unanimously agreed to contract for maintenance of district’s Measure C phone systems and voicemail as presented.

Board agreed to SunPower change order as presented (I believe Hansen voted no).

Board unanimously agreed to increase the contract/purchase order amount with Beyond the Words, Inc. for the Services of Educational Interpreters for the Deaf for School Year 2011-12.

Board did not act on CSBA nominations, since no one had approached trustees requesting to be nominated.

Board voted 4-1 to spend $2,000 on a Governance Leadership Development Workshop on Feb. 4 (Hansen voted no).

Eberhart said the rest of the items on the agenda were for information only.

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82 Responses to “Live blog of MDUSD Dec. 13 meeting”

  1. Doctor J Says:

    Wow, no confidence vote against Kate McClatchy is huge — in shadow of CVCHS petition, mid year, prior resignation of Denise Rugani in SASS, and disclosures of underfunding of high schools in MDUSD. I guess we can call this McClatchygate.

  2. anon Says:

    WOW, if I had even a shred of compassion left for this district I’d almost feel sorry for them.

  3. Doctor J Says:

    Eberhart, Lawrence and Richards made their own beds, now let them lie in them.

  4. Anon Says:

    Did Bryan Richards mention the status of the district’s financial audit report for 2010/2011?

  5. Doctor J Says:

    What happened to pulled item from consent agenda ?

  6. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Loss of QEIA appears to have been last straw. 55 teachers no confidence to 11 confidence.

  7. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No mention of 2101-11 financial audit.

  8. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Item pulled was not discussed. It was removed.

  9. Doctor J Says:

    Was the 11 FOR “confidence” or just refusing to vote “no confidence” ??? Big difference.

  10. Theresa Harrington Says:

    11 were for confidence. There were also some who didn’t vote, but I didn’t catch that number.

  11. Doctor J Says:

    There must be other issues with Kate McClatchy other than QEIA

  12. Doctor J Says:

    Remember when Lawrence appointed Kate McClatchy, it was because he was making the “right fit” in his “suffle” of administrators — that was just 1 1/2 years ago. Doesn’t sound like the teachers feel it is the “right fit”. That qualifies Lawrence to now have “McClatchygate” on his resume.

  13. Doctor J Says:

    Sunpower change order must be one barnburner of a discussion.

  14. Anon Says:

    Is the board discussing why Holbrook and Glenbrook are getting solar panels?

  15. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No, but Pete Pederson told me the supt directed him to move forward with solar on closed schools.

  16. Doctor J Says:

    Thanks Theresa for the “live” blog. It was informative. As close to play by play as you can get.

  17. Jim Says:

    Theresa, great job, as always.

    Why would they install solar on schools they are closing? So that they can continue to show the “savings” from those schools’ utilitiy bills in their rationale for that project? Perhaps the $4.3mm solar change order approved tonight could have been smaller if they had scoped back the project to include only those schools where the solar will actually be used…

  18. Theresa Harrington Says:

    You’re welcome. And good news — the district plans to start posting audio of meetings in January.

  19. @Dr. J Says:

    I agree that there must be more about McClathcy; but the loss of QEIA funds is more than enough to upset the majority of teachers at MDHS. Also…you mentioned Denise Rugani; not only did she advocate for my child, but for several other moms that i know. Why is it that all of our best from the Dent are going to Pittsburg? I am aware that unlike MDUSD, Pittsburg Unified does not have any program improvement schools…right? and if so, are there other reasons that attract people like Mrs. Rugani?

  20. Tired of the Rhetoric Says:

    Mt. Diablo’s vote of “no confidence” is huge. Add that to the Northgate conversations about leaving the District and the grapevine rumor of College Park watching the CV situation with an eye towards their own petition, and you have a full revolt in process. It sure is getting interesting….

  21. Doctor J Says:

    Any skeptic might say that the “qualified budget” is just a counter measure to the recent discovery that for the last two years there has been a non-disclosed $43 Million dollar reserve, not just one year, but TWO years in a row. Any skeptics out there ? Oh, I guess maybe the unions and perhaps even the voters. It was really sweet that Linda Mayo nominated Sherry Whitmarsh to be Board President, and then Linda was elected Vice. So very telling that Cheryl voted against Sherry after the two worked “together” on the Strategic Plan that was stalled by Sherry. Then Sherry nominated Linda to be Vice. Anyone think that sounds pre-arranged ?? LOL. Well the most telling vote was Linda abstaining from voting on her own nomination, but Sherry voted for herself. Its going to be a long year with Gary having to manipulate the puppets remotely.

  22. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Jim, Pedersen told me that Glenbrook is being used by Seneca, so he doesn’t really view that as a “closed” school. The change order was to accommodate the increased load for HVAC. Perhaps the BOC will further discuss the justification for putting solar at Holbrook during its meeting tomorrow night.
    TOTR: Yes, I agree the MDHS vote is unprecedented, since I’ve been covering the district. The last vote of No Confidence was for former Superintendent Gary McHenry, who was later ousted by the board.
    Trustee Lynne Dennler’s words have become prophetic. She said CVHS was not the only school with problems, it was just the first one to do something about it (She wasn’t on the board when Northgate’s problems arose). Although Dennler suggested that the district establish a committee to facilitate discussions about problems on campuses, that was not done. I was told that MDHS staff have been complaining about McClatchy to district administrators and the board for more than a year — and that teachers have also tried to work things out directly with McClatchy, but she was not responsive.

  23. Anon Says:

    So, Eberhart aksed Richards to do a 1 page document to show they are not sitting on a 43 milliom pot of gold….I suppose when he does this we are all expected to take this as the truth. Does Gary realize that just about anyone could do this. It is easy to hide the money.
    I feel so confident in our district now that Gary has asked for this. (NOT)LOL

  24. Wait a minute Says:

    Yes Dr J,

    You have a 3 board majority that will continue to operate in the same manipulative way and try to “protect” their interests. I’m equally sure that they have illegally pre-arranged the entire vote as they undoubtedly do on everything (just not at the ButterCup anymore).

    The problem is as they continue to operate in the same dysfunctional way with Stevie and Greg as their loyal hacks but meanwhile the wheels are literally falling off the bus, LOL.

    Meanwhile the revolt is now spreading like wildfire and Kate McClatchy has been exposed as another incompetent administrator (who is also very loyal to Stevie-remember she spoke against the charter).

    I remember suggesting to Theresa back in Oct-Nov about investigating the many complaints at MDHS regarding the thugs and gangsters regularly threatening staff and getting away with it. I’m sure this is a prime reason for the no-confidence vote.

    Honestly, I can see every HS becoming charter in the not to distant future as:
    #1–this gives them control over their schools and they can do what it takes to make them safe and sane and better places for everyone.
    #2–they get a big boost in funding by getting back the at least 1/3 of their monies that are taken right off the top by the district for “overhead” and “income redistribution”.

  25. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Richards said he has taken the expected savings from furlough days out of the budget, since the teachers’ union has not agreed to it. This will make the numbers more real and should eliminate the inflated reserves, which were on paper only.
    Eberhart said that even a legislative staffer didn’t understand the district’s budget. This was part of his reason for asking for a simple one-page document that explains it in layman’s terms.
    This idea is not new. It was discussed at a Parent Advisory Committee meeting about a year ago. It just hasn’t ever been implemented.
    While Richards admits that the midyear cut this year won’t be as dreadful as predicted, he said the district is still waiting to see the governor’s budget in January, to determine cuts next year and beyond.

  26. Linda L Says:

    Jim #17,
    The CREBs are by site and there is always the issue of the rebates. Putting solar on a school site doesn’t cost the District a penny. When you aren’t the one paying for solar any calculation is a good investment.

  27. NitWit Says:

    Linda and Jim. I am beyond serious when i say this. I will help you w/ your campaigns if you both run in November. You have to! There are some others here too but they can’t or won’t come out of hiding 🙂

  28. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I tried to videotape Pederson’s presentation, but had video camera storage issues. I will try to post links later.
    Pedersen did mention CREBS and CSI rebates, but said the main justification for the change order was the increased savings the district would reap in energy costs. He said four high schools are on the grid now and are already achieving savings, with many more schools ready to go online soon.

  29. NitWit Says:

    Theresa, did they mention why in the world the middle schools (i.e. Pine Hollow , DVMS) are taking soooooooooo long. I understand that maybe the double time summer installation for high school gave us unrealistic expectations. But at DVMS the project was started in August and still it’s fenced off and not done…

  30. Wait a minute Says:

    Why don’t you run Nitwit?

  31. Linda L Says:


    Think about this –

    The HVAC units have been planned since MC2002.

    Sun Power had the lowest energy production projected of any of the other solar bidders. And it was lower than what the District had projected they needed three months earlier when the solar project went before the board for the first time.

    Sun Power’s cost was the 2nd highest out of the four companies bidding.


  32. Theresa Harrington Says:

    WAM: Yes, safety and lack of discipline was cited as one of the reasons for the No Confidence vote. One teacher said a student who came to school drunk was suspended only for one period. She said another student made flirtatious remarks to a teacher and touched her rear end but was not appropriately disciplined.
    And yes, McClatchy spoke against the charter, saying it wasn’t fair to take money away from students at other schools to support the charter. Yet, it appears that her actions are taking money from her own students.
    Ironically, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who wrote the QEIA legislation, was inaugurated at MDHS. He considers the law that provides money to low-income schools one of his proudest accomplishments.

  33. Doctor J Says:

    The financial fantasy shell game used by Eberhart and Lawrence to distort the true financial picture of the district and show “balanced budgets” to avoid the Scarlet Letter of “Qualified Budget” came back to bite them in the posterior. Now that its to their disadvantage to show “highly inflated reserves”, they must try and convince everyone they are “now finally” telling the “truth”. How do you know when habitual liars are telling the truth ? Where is the audit for the year ended June 30 ?

  34. NitWit Says:

    WAM: honestly they are much smarter than I am.

  35. Doctor J Says:

    Has it been made public why MDHS is losing the QEIA funds ? In 18 months Kate McClatchy seems to have done a lot of damage. I thought each school had an assigned SASS administrator to “coach” the principals to be successful — supposedly the purpose of SASS when Lawrence announced its formation. Who has been her coach ? I thought the SASS personnel were to be evaluated annually based on how successful they were coaching. Telling last night that job descriptions for SASS personnel were passed 18 months after the department was formed. What happened to the annual department evaluation that Lawrence promised ?

  36. ANON Says:


    Outstanding suggestion for Jim and Linda L. Please be aware that we will be kicking off the “Defeat Eberhart and Whitmarsh in 2012” campaign early next year.

    Our goal is to become such an overwhelming movement that Gary and Sherry choose to not even submit their papers to run.

    –The Committee to Defeat Eberhart and Whitmarsh

  37. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, was Kate M. present ? What was the reaction of staff and the Board when the “No Confidence” vote was presented ? Interesting they would use one of Gary and Sherry’s tactics — but apparently this is not the first “no confidence vote” against Kate McClatchy. More interesting is your report made on July 9, 2010. Let me quote a few sections that are enlightening: “Superintendent Steven Lawrence and Julie Braun-Martin, assistant superintendent for personnel, have said they were trying to find good matches for schools where principals have retired or have been promoted to new positions.” “Lawrence has said the swap of principals between Mt. Diablo High and Olympic continuation high was based on those administrators’ preferences. (Cheryl LeBoef is moving to Olympic and Kate McClatchy is moving to Mt. Diablo High.)” “Lawrence decides who to recommend for specific positions, with input from her, Lock said.” Rose Lock said: ““We want to make sure they are equally proficient and competent,” she said. “We want to develop them (through coaching and professional development), because we could be moving them around as needed.” She acknowledged that the district does, however, try to match principals to schools where they would best fit. “We certainly are sensitive to the needs of each school,” she said. “We do ask for (community) input, to make sure we have the right person.” ” Even more telling is Realia’s post in response: “Kate McClatchy was “promoted” from Olympic because she continually forced VPs to resign, had multiple complaints made against her by teachers (Gail Isserman and Mildred Browne conducted one-on-one interviews with the Alliance program staff so they could air their concerns), and the teachers conducted a no-confidence vote in which only two teachers voted that they had confidence in McClatchy’s leadership of the school (the vote results had not been forwarded to the district, but surely McClatchy or someone got wind of it). MDUSD will do anything to protect incompetent administrators – because if they fire any of them it gives credence to complaints made and offers affected parties evidence on which to sue the district.”
    So if Realia has reliable information, history is just repeating itself and Lawrence’s appointment of Kate McClatchy was flawed to begin with. One last point: she was appointed in the same meeting as Mr. Nugent. How ironic.

  38. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Since I was sitting in the back (and trying to videotape and take notes at the same time), I couldn’t really see the board’s reaction. I don’t believe McClatchy was there. I also had heard about the Olympic No Confidence vote, but didn’t report it at the time because I was unable to find anyone who would speak on the record. They were fearful of retaliation.
    MDHS employees are also fearful of retaliation, said teacher Dan Reynolds. But, they feel so strongly that they are wiling to take this step to try to get the district to respond to their concerns. The union is supportive of the MDHS teachers.
    Teachers said they will lose the QEIA funding because McClatchy refused to create a master schedule that complied with QEIA requirements.
    Linda: SunPower won the bid because the committee evaluating the RFPs felt it met most of the criteria they were looking for, including long-term stability and a proven track record.
    Nitwit: No mention was made of schools behind schedule. In fact, Pedersen said many schools were ahead of schedule.

  39. Anon Says:

    NitWit and ANON-
    smart isn’t required for a board member . . . obviously . . . just get two candidates who will vote with cheryl hansen . . .

  40. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Things got a bit tense toward the end of the meeting, when the board discussed the facilitated governance workshop and Hansen’s ideas for changes. Eberhart and Whitmarsh strongly favored the workshop, while Hansen said professional adults should be able to have a discussion about board policies and procedures without a facilitator and save the district $2,000.

  41. Doctor J Says:

    I thought SASS has someone assigned to monitor QEIA compliance ? Again, who is assigned from SASS as the “coach” ? Sounds like another ball that got dropped.

    Wonder what the mood is around Dent and MDHS today ? With Lawrence’s temperment reputation, I wonder if he was blindsided by the vote, or knew it was coming ? The $64 question is what does he do about it ?

    Wait until this hits the press wires. I think Torlakson used to teach and coach at MDHS. Now the author of QEIA loses its funding because the principal refused to implement a compliant schedule ? Gary, time to press speed dial and warn him.

  42. Jim Says:

    NitWit — thank you for the vote of confidence, but I would not serve on the MDUSD board. I don’t believe in school “districts”, fundamentally — especially the large ones that attempt to enforce a one-size-fits-all monopoly on a diverse student population with distinctly different needs. (There are entire countries that operate just fine without school “districts”.) I worked in education for 13 years, with teachers, schools and districts all over the country, and I can tell you that much (though not all) of what is wrong with education in this country may be found in district offices. Many of them exhibit the problems that we see at MDUSD. The only puzzle is that MDUSD seems to be as dysfunctional as even some of our poorest-performing large urban districts, even though the problems facing MDUSD really aren’t at the same level.

    I understand that certain small suburban and rural districts do a good job running their schools. The scale is small enough that parents and voters can keep close tabs on things, and the student populations in those districts tend to be pretty homogenous, with similar needs. But the vast majority of students in the U.S. attend schools in big districts that are not like that, and almost to a one, those districts are not doing a very good job.

  43. Theresa Harrington Says:

    While I was looking at the MDHS website, I came across this very nice post from students thanking Miramonte HS for donations of supplies:
    Here is a Q&A posted today about the loss of QEIA funding:

  44. School Teacher Says:

    I wish people didn’t have to be so PC about their wording. From the way it sounds, MDHS is not “exiting” QEIA, it is being terminated because of conditions not being met. And it sounds like it is due to the class size issue. Does that “just happen”, or there someone who should have be watching out for that?

  45. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Teacher Dan Reynolds said staff asked McClatchy to create a QEIA-compliant master schedule, but she failed to do so. This is a big part of their complaint against her.

  46. Jim Says:

    Hmmm…one of the district complaints against the CVHS charter was that they did not yet have a master schedule — for the 2012-13 school year. Now we learn that one of the district high schools didn’t have an acceptable master schedule even for THIS year! How DO the MDUSD staff make those criticisms with a straight face?!?

  47. Wait a minute Says:

    Yes, Dent is a walking and talking hypocrisy.

    They tried to put 56 “Condition” on the charter that they (the MDUSD) themselves cannot even pass!

  48. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Perhaps the fact that SASS administrators have been working without job descriptions for more than a year has contributed to a lack of oversight.
    According to the newly created job description for the Director of Secondary Support (which the board has not yet adopted), that person should have been helping to resolve complaints, supervise state and federal applications, provide technical support and guidance regarding compliance, monitor the resolution of operational problems, disseminate information on state and federal mandates, monitor the master schedule and take “leadership in creating healthful human relationships which will provide a suitable climate for learning and teaching:” This position is currently vacant.
    Wasn’t the charter also required to provide job descriptions?

  49. Doctor J Says:

    When Kate McClatchy took over in July 2010 it sounds like the warning letter had already been sent in Feb 2010 and everyone was aware, except the public. Another closely guarded secret of the district. Plenty of opportunity to fix it, but once again no action from the district. I don’t recall this issue ever being discussed at a Board meeting. Did Lawrence keep this a secret from the Board members ? Once again, who knew what and when did they know it. Its now called QEIAgate.

  50. Theresa Harrington Says:

    According to my blog notes, McClatchy was appointed to the position June 22, 2010. However, there are no minutes posted on the district’s website for that meeting and the agenda report does not specify who was appointed to which positions:

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