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Mt. Diablo HS teachers lay out reasons for ‘No Confidence’ vote in principal

By Theresa Harrington
Thursday, December 15th, 2011 at 11:16 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

In an unprecedented move in recent Mt. Diablo school district history, the teaching staff of Mt. Diablo High School in Concord has presented a “No Confidence” vote regarding Principal Kate McClatchy to the board.

Five teachers spoke — while many more stood in solidarity holding handmade “No Confidence” signs — during the Tuesday board meeting. Several members of the audience looked on in surprise, as teachers walked to the podium one after the other to detail their concerns about McClatchy’s leadership.

The board and district administrators did not respond to the teachers’ comments. I tried calling McClatchy for a response, but have not heard back from her.

English teacher Dan Reynolds, who is the lead union representative at the site, told me after the meeting that he and other teachers hope to receive some type of response from the district in the near future.

Reynolds said teachers voted Monday, after numerous attempts to work things out with McClatchy and district officials failed. Teachers enlisted the Mt. Diablo Education Association teachers union to facilitate the vote to assure that all teachers would feel comfortable casting ballots, said Mike Langley, teachers’ union president.

“It was as neutral as possible,” he said of the voting process. “They could vote any way they wished. The integrity is the best that can be expected in such a situation fraught with emotion.”

Fifty-five teachers voted “No Confidence,” 11 voted “Confidence” and 13 abstained, Reynolds said.

“We, as the teachers, don’t have authority to do anything,” Reynolds said. “My next step is to wait to see if the board responds, to see if this works as a political tool. A vote of No Confidence invites a response.”

Since McClatchy was appointed principal of the school in June 2010, Reynolds said she has not worked collaboratively with teachers.

“Her response is to attack people,” Reynolds said.

Langley said he has been aware of teachers’ concerns at the school for a while.

“I would say the staff at Mt. Diablo High School was quite patient,” he said.

Both Reynolds and Langley said district administrators and trustees were told of the concerns, but did not seem to be taking action to remedy them.

“It does not seem to have worked,” Langley said. “It has been getting worse for the (union) members and I encouraged them to bring it to a vote.”

Some teachers, they said, were afraid of retaliation by McClatchy.

Reynolds, who was named one of the district’s Teachers of the Year in 2010, said he proceeded in the same way he teaches his Human Rights students about how to effect change.

“You don’t have a strike on the first day or angrily attack,” Reynolds said. “You use a process that respects the people.”

Langley said he wants the district to address the issues raised by teachers during their comments to the board.

Here are their comments (or excerpts), along with links to video clips of their remarks:

Reynolds: “Last year, you placed a new principal at Mt. Diablo High School — Kate McClatchy — and things began to deteriorate. This deterioration has caused teachers to have numerous concerns about Kate McClatchy’s abilities.

We feel that the climate of our site does not promote fairness or respect, that decisions that affect teachers are not made fairly, that decisions that affect students are not made fairly. Teachers don’t feel supported by the administration. Teachers feel that their suggestions or recommendations are not used when making decisions at the site. Teachers don’t feel that they are treated with respect by the administration. Teachers feel that meetings are excessive and that time at these meetings is not spent wisely. We feel unsupported by the administration when it comes to enforcing student discipline policies. Teachers feel that students are not receiving appropriate consequences for breaking rules.

We feel that parent concerns are not handled effectively and that testing and test-preparation unduly infringe on teacher time. We feel that instructional time is not given the priority it deserves from the administration and we feel that the administration does not demonstrate integrity that they are not honest and that they do not follow through. Teachers feel that their autonomy and ability to implement what works well in their classrooms is not valued.

And that deterioration crested last Wednesday, when we found out that due to Kate McClatchy’s refusal to create a Master Schedule compliant with the mandates of QEIA, we had been terminated from the program. This termination will cost the students at Mt. Diablo High School $3.2 million over the next two school years.

The teachers could stand no more and yesterday we held a vote of No Confidence in Principal Kate McClatchy. Seventy-nine ballots were cast — 55 no confidence, 11 confidence and 13 abstentions. Only 11 teachers at Mt. Diablo High School expressed confidence. Overwhelmingly, the teachers at Mt. Diablo High School have no confidence in Kate McClatchy.

To explain our concerns about QEIA, at the February 2011 site council meeting, the council was presented with a report from Jen Sachs and Bryan Richards that discussed QEIA budgeting and class size reduction. That night, the council said to Ms. McClatchy the same thing we’d been saying for months: ‘You must create a QEIA-compliant master schedule.’ A council member said (and I quote): ‘If we don’t master schedule for QEIA mandates, we are putting a nail in the QEIA coffin.’ At this same meeting, Ms. McClatchy said (and I quote): ‘We did not master schedule for QEIA mandates.’

At the end of the 2010-11 school year, the Mt. Diablo High School QEIA account had hundreds of thousands of dollars of carryover. As long as there was one penny left in that account, we should have been using it to serve our students and meet the QEIA mandates.

Ms. McClatchy is not valuing student input. Students are ignored completely or told that their input is not valid. They are told that decisions do not affect them, when they do. They are lied to. The entire student body suffers for the disciplinary and behavioral faults of the few.

Last spring, when a parent raised concerns about her daughter’s access to AP classes, she was told: ‘If you don’t like it, send her to another school.’ Students are not being allowed legal access to bathrooms.

Kate McClatchy deprofessionalizes teachers — especially if they attempt to raise a voice of concern — saying things like, ‘Oh, people don’t want to read the minutes, so why should we distribute them?’ She is using compartmentalization as a tactic to pursue her own agenda, while making it seem like teachers’ voice is being considered. An example being the Smaller Learning Communities committee, which she references in other meetings, even though very few people at the SLC meeting support the decision she is making. And please understand, she is making these decisions and not listening to the teachers, who have repeatedly told her that we think her academy scale up model is bad for our students.” (Stopped when told time was up.)


Science teacher Linda Flower: “We’re extremely concerned about student discipline and school safety. The administration has created a support call program that replaces student discipline referrals. This program is ineffective. Teachers are left unsupported in their classrooms. The administration is not responding to the support calls and when they do, they are not thoroughly dealing with the issue. They are sending students right back into the classroom and won’t remove them from the classroom and we have to deal with it. Administration are chastising teachers that they’re making too many support calls and then are just leaving disruptive students in classrooms because they do not want to deal with them in the office. Often, they are not reported. The support calls are not even recorded in the ABI system, attempting to make it look like there’s less of a discipline problem. Students found drunk — and this personally happened to me — was found drunk in the classroom, was given one period of suspension. That day, I had him fifth period. He was suspended for sixth period and allowed to come back the next day.

Students are using diminuitive…and flirtatious talk toward teachers and admin is not supporting teachers in their attempts to get it to stop. We had one teacher verbally assaulted in her classroom and she asked the administration to remove the student, but they did not. The student then touched the teacher’s bottom and the teacher had to angrily demand that the student be suspended because admin was not going to do it on their own. Upon returning, the student physically assaulted the teacher and the teacher filed a police report.”

She said the administration blames teachers when they complain.


Science teacher Askin Topal: Said McClatchy’s leadership is causing low morale, due to a top-down, micromanaging leadership style, which hinders open and transparent communications. He said she is destroying the arts on campus and is pushing a 7-period day schedule. He also said that McClatchy had repeatedly attempted to spend funds without site council approval. Finally, he said McClatchy knowingly allowed the school to be terminated from the QEIA program, which will cause the campus to lose $1.6 million a year in funding.


Science teacher Patrick Oliver: “I’m very sad to be here….

As you heard earlier, only 11 teachers expressed confidence in her leadership…

Her disrespect to teachers has been continuous. Personally, what brought me to address you was that the administration has failed to create a QEIA-compliant schedule and as a result of losing this $3.2 million, we are going to lose 22-24 fulltime staff positions, 2 school SSC student support counselors, one security person and 60 percent of a campus supervisor.

My classroom is likely to go from 20 students to 37 in my sections. We’ve increased our test scores for the lowest socio-economic indicators in the district and I’m proud of all the work that we’ve done to comply with the mandates and to make a difference in the lives of our students. And, for the past two years on the site council, we’ve been reminding Ms. McClatchy of the responsibilities to fulfill the QEIA mandates by providing a schedule that accommodates continuation of the grant. We’ve been blown off, to say the least. I daresay there’s been some deception involved. I’m not sure, but that’s the way it seems to me.

There’s a number of other situations that have been brought to her attention. As you have already heard about, campus security has been really a problematic. As a union representative, I hear about these things all the time. I asked teachers to put their concerns in writing and I’ve received a number of them.

There is a lack of safety on campus and consequences for students. There is obviously the dictatorial management style you’ve heard about. Teachers, parents and students are not valued and their input in the decision-making process….

My father is a retired captain in the US Navy and I was raised under the belief that the person at the top is fully accountable for the entire system.

She has failed Mt. Diablo High School by not supporting the students, not valuing and listening to the teachers and especially offering our students the best opportunities for learning that they can. I sincerely believe its going to be extremely difficult to increase STAR test scores or attendance rate our graduation rate with classes of 37 students with the loss of QEIA funding.

As I said, I am really sad to be here and I hope you take what we say into consideration and realize that it comes from a place wanting to improve the educational facilities there, as we have.”


Alison van der Heide, science dept. chairwoman: “Ms. McClatchy is replacing learning with testing, data sets and a push, push, push for the test, test, test and following the EDI, EDI, EDI, but not really showing a dedication to actual learning from our students. We will even have to spend time in our class before WASC to study for ESLERS and even give our students a test on the ESLERS.

We are also concerned about how the evaluation process is being applied. The entire process is being made to feel punitive, though it’s supposed to be made to support teachers…”

She said teachers feel they are being targeted and that McClatchy gives “lip service” to collaboration, but doesn’t practice it. She also expressed concerns about choices students are foced to make regarding AP classes.


When the Mt. Diablo school board voted to deny the Clayton Valley charter petition, Trustee Lynne Dennler said that many other schools have concerns, but that Clayton Valley was the first to do something about it. She suggested that the district establish a committee to facilitate discussions about concerns on campuses.

Although then-Board President Gary Eberhart told me he thought that was a good idea, it has not been done. I also asked Superintendent Steven Lawrence about the idea, specifically related to remedying issues raised at Clayton Valley.

Here is his response, from 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.”

How do you think the district should respond to the concerns raised by MDHS teachers?

5:38 PM UPDATE: Earlier today, I received a phone call from Gary Peterson at MDHS. Without initially identifying himself, he told me the teachers who spoke at the board meeting had mischaracterized why the school is losing its QEIA funding. He also said, “It’s only for two years, so it’s not like it’s ongoing.”

Peterson told me the teachers who spoke at the meeting skewed the facts because they have a personal grudge against McClatchy. He said the real reason the school lost its funding is because the district would have needed to hire more teachers and it couldn’t afford to do that. He urged me to contact district officials to confirm what he was telling me. When I asked who he was, he told me his name, but didn’t reveal that he was a vice principal (which I learned when I searched his name on the school webiste). Peterson also told me the district prepared the “QEIA Scale-Down Q&A” that is on the school’s website.

In response to Peterson’s phone call, I left phone and email messages for Superintendent Steven Lawrence, Rose Lock, interim director of secondary education Doris Avalos, Lorie O’Brien and Julie Braun-Martin. I also tried to reach Bryan Richards, but was told he was out of the office until Monday. I also sent an email to McClatchy, after not getting a response from the voicemail message I left her yesterday. I did not hear back from McClatchy or any of the district officials I contacted.

The Q&A states that the district filed regular reports with a County Technical Advisor and that the district has also worked with the Northern California QEIA Center. So, I called Peggy Marshburn, who is the QEIA monitor, to find out if she could shed any light on what happened at MDHS.

Marshburn told me that QEIA schools had three years to achieve the goals set out in the QEIA contract, incrementally working toward achieving one third the first year, two-thirds the second year and 100 percent by June 2011, Marshburn said.

“They had until the end of the (2010-11) school year to complete the process, to make sure they met their class size reduction targets — to make sure they didn’t have more than 27 students in the classroom,” Marshburn said. “All these are things which they knew as part of their contract with QEIA. Why they weren’t able to do that — I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t know if it was a master scheduling problem. I know that when they turned their paperwork in, their paperwork didn’t meet the required goals.”

Because the school failed to come into compliance by June 2011, it entered a “soft landing” phase this year (2011-12), she said, in preparation for no funding in 2012-13 or 2013-14.

Marshburn said a number of schools across the state in the QEIA progam have also been unable to meet all the goals.

“When you set goals three years in advance,” she said, “a lot of things change, including all kinds of funding.”

Although the district’s Q&A states that the district cannot appeal its disqualification, Marshburn said she was informed today that the district intends to try.

“I understand from Lorie O’Brien that Mt. Diablo is going to appeal to the state for a waiver,” Marshburn said, citing an e-mail O’Brien sent today to the Northern California QEIA Technical Assistance Center.

Marshburn said she hadn’t seen the Q&A, which states:

“Q: Can we appeal any of this with CDE?

A: CDE has indicated that districts may only appeal on incorrect data. MDUSD worked with the Northern California QEIA Center and the Contra Costa County QEIA Monitor to rerun Mt. Diablo High’s numbers during the month of October. This resulted in no change of status for Mt. Diablo High.”

When I mentioned this to Marshburn, she responded:

“As far as I understand, they are planning to appeal. I don’t know the requirements the state would require for them to get a waiver.”

Marshburn said she was not present at the February 2011 MDHS site council meeting cited by Reynolds and could not comment on what occurred there. She encouraged me to contact the Northern California QEIA Technical Assistance Center for further information about that.

I expect to hear back from a state QEIA representative tomorrow and will update this blog (or create a new blog post) when I get more information.

DEC. 16 UPDATE: I just spoke to Lorie O’Brien, who oversees QEIA grant funding for the district (she assumed this position over the summer). She said she did not believe the district couldn’t afford to hire more teachers. She is canceling her vacation next week so that she can scrutinize the master schedule and pull students’ schedules to see if the district can apply for a waiver. She said she does not know why the QEIA mandates were not met, but she is trying to find out. It would be illegal to agree to accept grant money, but knowingly fail to abide by the grant requirements, she said.

O’Brien said she wrote the “QEIA Scale-Down Q&A” and that she had made a couple of typos related to dates. In the third paragraph, the notification date should be February 2011 instead of February 2010, she said. In the second-to-last paragraph, the answer to the question about funding carryovers should say: “All participating districts were notified recently that any funds not used by the end of the 2011-12 [instead of 2010-2011] school year (June, 2012) [instead of June, 2011] will be ‘billed back’ to CDE.”

I also spoke this morning with Mark Calonico, who provides technical assistance to districts regarding QEIA in northern California. He told me the QEIA funding had been extended to 2014-15. This means the school could actually lose $4.8 million over three years.

2:21 pm. UPDATE: I just spoke with Denise Rugani, the previous director of secondary support (for the 2010-11 school year). She said she did not supervise McClatchy — that was the responsibility of Rose Lock and Superintendent Steven Lawrence. Rugani said it was her belief that by the end of the school year, MDHS had created a master schedule that met QEIA requirements. She now works in the Liberty school district and is not aware of the county’s findings, she said.

3:35 pm. UPDATE: I just spoke to Marshburn again and she said the district should have known when it turned in its paperwork to the county, which was due July 15, that it hadn’t met the QEIA requirements. That paperwork was prepared by the school, Marshburn said. It clearly showed that the requirements were not met, she said. It was signed by McClatchy and Rose Lock. Marshburn also said she knew that Sachs had been working closely with MDHS administrators on the requirements.

DEC. 19 UPDATE: I just received an email from Jennifer Sachs, who now oversees QEIA funding in the Pittsburg district (which is appealing its loss of QEIA funding for Pittsburg Jr. High). Unfortunately, Sachs did not directly answer my question, which was: “Were you aware
that MDHS was not compliant by the end of the school year?”

Here is Sach’s reply: “The regular monitoring of the Mt. Diablo High School QEIA program did reveal challenges. The county reports provided to the Mt. Diablo Unified School District each fall documented the areas where the site did not meet the QEIA targets.”

I then received a follow-up email from her stating that she is out of the office until Jan. 3. So, it is still unclear whether Sachs knew the school would lose its QEIA funding when the school year ended.

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118 Responses to “Mt. Diablo HS teachers lay out reasons for ‘No Confidence’ vote in principal”

  1. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, can you get a copy of the QEIA termination letter ? It should be public record.

  2. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Actually, O’Brien said the date in the Q&A was a typo and that the notification was in February 2011 (as Dan Reynolds stated). What is unclear is whether district administrators knew MDHS was not compliant by the end of the year.

    According to the Q&A: “…central office staff met regularly with Mt. Diablo High staff to review progress and provide guidance. Mt. Diablo High staff monitored all targets closely.”

    That central office staff included Rose Lock, Jennnifer Sachs, Denise Rugani and Bryan Richards. Lock signed the paperwork turned in by July 15 that showed the school wasn’t compliant. Yet, no one at the district office appears to have been concerned about it until the district received “official” notification (which verified what the school had reported).

    O’Brien said in an email today: “The paperwork was submitted as you stated but it had to be reviewed by CCCOE and verified by the monitor before it was official. We received official notice from them just recently as you know. ”

    O’Brien also said the academy programs at MDHS complicated the master scheduling, since they restricted which classes students could take. This is somewhat ironic, since Reynolds said many teachers at the school don’t agree with McClatchy’s plan to “scale up” the academies.

  3. Anon Says:

    did superintendent lawrence ever reply to your messages ?

  4. Doctor J Says:

    So let me get this straight about QEIAgate — Rose Lock signs the paperwork on July 15 that MDHS was non-compliant. Yet Denise Rugani, SASS Director of Secondary until Sept 2011, said she thought they were compliant. Both of these people were part of the “central office” who “met regularly” with MDHS staff to review progress and provide guidance. So if Rose Lock and SASS knew by July 15 that they were non-compliant, why the sudden surprise now ? How long did they think they could keep the loss of funding secret ? And why did Bryan Richards keep including the QEIA funding in the budget ? I imagine that Lawrence, MClatchy and SASS hope that people will have a short memory over winter break and forget about the whole thing. Once again, I ask this question, now I direct it to our new Board President Sherry Whitmarsh: Would this incompetence be tolerated at Chevron ?

  5. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No, he has not responded. Neither has Rose Lock or Jennifer Sachs (who is now working as the director of categoricals for the Pittsburg district, which also has a non-QEIA compliant school slated to lose its funding for failing to meet the “Rule of 27.”) Marshburn said Pittsburg is appealing.

    I am also wondering about the “sudden rush” to figure out what happened and apply for a waiver. When I asked O’Brien in an email why someone didn’t look into it sooner, she responded: “Who said we weren’t looking into it?”

    Yet, she is now canceling vacation in a last-minute attempt to explore the idea of filing a waiver, which is due by the end of next week for the State Board of Education’s March meeting.

    “The deadline has already passed for the January meeting,” she said.

  6. g Says:

    The MDUSD site indicates that there are 22 FTEs funded by QEIA. 1) Were those 22 NEW hires, added to address the QEIA requirements, or were some merely reassignments pulled from other schools, with QEIA temporarily covering their salaries?

    One speaker says there were hundreds of thousands of dollars “left over” last year, and the web site says those have to be paid back to the system. 2) Was there any mention of that payback possibility in Richards “bleeding money” budget report?

    The site also indicates that the progress was being closely monitored by one person at County, plus Lawrence, plus Central Staff—obviously, those people need another raise!

  7. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, that is the exact question I am asking: with all the “close monitoring” and “guidance,” how could this have happened?

    The assertion that the school may have intentionally ignored the mandate because the district couldn’t afford to hire more teachers is also perplexing. O’Brien said she couldn’t believe that anyone at the district office would direct McClatchy to ignore the mandate — or that the principal would intentionally ignore it.

    “It sounds like it’s something’s missing from the equation,” O’Brien said. “I could never imagine something like that happening from the district. First of all that would be blatantly illegal – to administer the grant and then turn around and tell somebody not to follow it.”

    She added: “I am very doubtful that they couldn’t find the money to hire teachers. When you look at the numbers, they are so close. I cannot imagine somebody at the district office giving that direction. I hate to say that somebody isn’t saying the truth about something. I have to wonder if there was a misunderstanding in the conversation.”

    Regarding the district’s integrity, she said: “I’ve been in the district for 16 years. I’ve been in the community for 20. I think people — 99 percent of the time — try to behave in a very ethical way.”

  8. g Says:

    But when 1% is rotten to the core…!

  9. g Says:

    “…First of all that would be blatantly illegal – to administer the grant and then turn around and tell somebody not to follow it.”

    Makes me think about Fed funds for Solar based on fraudulent Chevron applications, and considering hiding the Glenbrook SIG funds by “maybe we could just “rename” another school Glenbrook.”


  10. Doctor J Says:

    Two people are happy about QEIAgate: Jeff McDaniel and Greg Rolen. QEIAgate has taken Busgate right off the front page ! But wait until Jan 3 — Busgate will be back on the front burner.

  11. Doctor J Says:

    @g#59 QEIAgate is the SECOND time in the last year MDUSD has been CAUGHT non-compliant on grants: the first being the SIG Grants in not complying with the requirements, including increased instructional time, and a variety of other requirements and promises by the district that resulted in a temporary suspending of funding and requiring a “Corrective Action Plan” to restore the funding. How many times has it been able to “get away” with a “wink and a nod” or the attitude that “no one is looking” ? Great lessons in citizenship we are teaching the children.

  12. Doctor J Says:

    The timeline is getting more interesting. Jennifer Sachs was appointed by the PUSD Board on June 8, 2011 which means she likely applied sometime in May or perhaps before. Her resignation from MDUSD was not effective until June 30. Her last day is unknown. So at least from sometime in May when she was likely advised of her pending appointment, she had divided loyalties and distractions. Lorie O’Brien was not appointed to be Lorie O’Brien Assistant Director of Categoricals and School Support with responsibility over
    Categorical Programs, QEIA, Textbooks, Librarians until August 23, 2011 even though it was announced on June 24 that Supt Lawrence would be filling the position during his free reign in appointments during the summer. Presumably Lawrence, Lock, and others had known of Sach’s pending appointment sometime before June 8 and knew of the need at that time. All the while, the MDHS QEIA issue was pending.

  13. g Says:

    This is just further proof that the board is asleep at the helm. What do they discuss at quarterly Superintendent reviews? When they vote to rubber-stamp a staff request for bids, bonds, millions in grants, do they even try to keep track of what’s happening. Do they ever say “What will happen to this if we do that”. Do they ever ask “how is such and such working out”. NO. They wait for the dam to break and flood the whole system. They sit on high ground and pack the students in row boats with a bucket.

  14. NitWit Says:

    Does the CCBOE watch these developments? I wonder if it would help solidify the arguments that this district is broken. This district is a failure. In fact, who the hell is watching the hen house? Does the MDUSD board and Admin live in a vacuum? With no oversight and they can continue to screw over the kids of this district with no consequence? Seriously. The loss of the grants and it seems, failure to save any money on the Glenbrook closure. This loss of this grant, and we could all name a dozen other failures in the last couple of years that all impacted kids, programs and learning! When does it end!?!? When are people going to get mad enough to do something other than appealing to the same board that oversaw the reason we’re in all these messes? That board should be ASHAMED of themselves for being at the helm of this disgusting excuse for a district where who comes first? Certainly not students!

  15. Patrick Oliver Says:

    Theresa, I want to thank you for your excellent work on the “QEIA-gate” issue. You have been articulate, persistent and resourceful and have shone a light into how MDUSD functions, or rather, is dysfunctional. Nationally and at the state level I see a steady stream of news stories focusing on alleged teacher poor performance and opposition to change — essentially blaming our kids’ problems on teachers and teachers’ unions. Yet here at Mount Diablo High School teachers have risen to the challenge over and over again to raise the attendance rates, graduation rates and test scores of the lowest-income, lowest achieving, and hardest to teach kids in the district. And yet I find it incredible to learn that our efforts may be stymied by an administration that cannot abide by state law nor be held accountable to parents, taxpayers and voters… Thank you for pointing out to the district that it is possible to apply for a waiver to the expulsion from the QEIA program. I find it incredible to learn that district staff did not know of this and would have been on vacation next week were it not for your investigative efforts into connecting the dots. If were at some future point granted a waiver and have funding restored that will be, in no small measure, to your efforts. Regardless, I urge you to keep up the great and not let this story die quietly as the district would no doubt prefer. There are still many questions left unanswered and I am sure you have a few of these in mind already yourself!

  16. Anon Says:

    Not to long ago I called the county and state to find out who is responsible for making sure there was accountability. I was shocked to hear that there really isn’t any over site and accountability lies with the local board. So basically they get to do what they want. This is not right.

  17. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon — The Civil Grand Jury can investigate and expose the truth to the public. The basic question you have to ask yourself, is would Warren Buffet invest in a $350,000,000 annual budget business that has a Board of Directors run by Eberhart, Whitmarsh, Mayo, Dennler and Hansen, with CEO Lawrence, and CFO Richards ? Again, I ask Board President Whitmarsh, what would be the employee consequences at Chevron to lose $4.2 million for not complying with the grant ? If the Board takes no action, QEIAgate will be a huge campaign issue this fall.

  18. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Patrick, Have you received any sort of response from your principal or the district regarding the vote of No Confidence or any of the issues you and the other teachers raised?
    Thanks for your feedback regarding my coverage, but I was not the one who pointed out that the district could apply for a waiver. According to Lorie O’Brien, she realized it after reading about Pittsburg’s plans to seek a waiver:
    “The letter (notifying the district that it would lose QEIA funding) didn’t stimulate looking into the waiver; hearing that other districts did last month and more are in the future did,” O’Brien wrote in an email. “Something changed at CDE that we don’t understand but we are hoping to join the apparently changed landscape if we can. We are still researching.”
    She is trying to see if the district can claim that some students’ schedules could not be changed to accommodate the required class sizes. For example, she said one student would have been denied the opportunity to take an AP class if his schedule had been juggled to accommodate the class size.
    Of course, if the school intentionally ignored the mandate, then I’m not sure if the CDE would be willing to grant a waiver.
    Calonico said he doesn’t know what criteria the CDE and state Board of Education might use to grant waivers. The person in charge of that is on vacation, he said.

    Anon: Yes, accountability lies with the local board. If voters don’t believe trustees are providing accountability, they can elect new trustees.
    The county’s monitoring of the grant showed that the district failed to live up to its accountability requirements. Therefore, the county informed the district that it could no longer receive funding. That’s the penalty. It’s up to the district to explain to the public — and specifically to the Mt. Diablo HS community — how and why this happened. So far, no answers have come from either McClatchy or the district.
    In contrast, the Pittsburg school board held a public hearing about the loss of QEIA funding for Pittsburg Junior High.

    Dr. J: The amount lost is $1.6 million per year for three years, or $4.8 million. However, it could have been slightly less, if the school is experiencing declining enrollment, Calonico said.
    Regarding the timeframe for Sach’s departure, I wonder if she informed MDUSD that it could apply for a waiver. She is presumably the Pittsburg staffer responsible for that district’s waiver.

    g: Speaking of solar, at the BOC meeting, Alicia Minyen mentioned that the CREBs applications filed with the IRS described Holbrook Elementary and Glenbrook Middle School as fully operational schools. After the board decided to close those schools, it did not amend its CREBs applications. She questioned whether it was legal to use the CREBs to install solar on those schools, since the projects no longer reflect what the district wrote in its applications. The other committee members asked Minyen to send them copies of the CREBs applications for those two schools (which the district required Minyen to pay for, after she submitted her Public Records Act request). Some committee members joked that they could each give her $1. However, it was unclear whether anyone actually intended to reimburse her.

  19. g Says:

    They have already spent over $100,000.00 just in “planning” for solar at Glenbrook and another $52,000 at Holbrook before shovel hits dirt. Plus doing some Technical Upgrades. One good reason? In-House-Payroll! Pedersen, Inc.! The more they spend, the more they make—and they want to make it up front and NOW. They can always scale back later, in 5 years or so, as the well runs dry.

    So far, for these two “closed” campuses, In-House-Payroll is over $27,500.00!

  20. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Now that the board has approved the third solar change order, Pedersen said the vendor has begun ordering supplies, etc. for the solar on Holbrook and Glenbrook. So, if a decision was made to stop those projects, the district would likely incur some liability for that.

  21. g Says:

    I really don’t think they should try to hide the ball from the IRS. I would think there is liability anyway if they don’t reopen Holbrook really soon. With Seneca at Glenbrook, they might be able to squirm out of the lie there.

  22. Doctor J Says:

    Did you see the story Claycord broke on the racist cartoon sent out by Sequoia Middle School newsletter ?

  23. Anon Says:

    the district is in “whoops” mode . . . making a long list, checking it twice, of failures this year . . . closing the school with sig grant, el program audit, cutting the wrong trees, program improvement district, losing $4.8mil qeia, installing solar at a closed school, inaction on promise to change school boundaries, underfunding high schools, no strategic plan, the list goes on . . .

    new years resolution idea: accountability . . . and focus on student achievement . . .

  24. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon #73 — expand your list to two years, and it will be a book ! I think its time we hired a Supt from outside education and from a major corporation — the Supt does NOT need to be credentialed. Someone who will hold “managers” [we call them Asst. Supts, Directors, Principals, etc] RESPONSIBLE for leadership and management. The question I keep asking is would Chevron or Safeway or any other major corporation “tolerate” the kind of incompetence in management that we see in MDUSD ? Frankly, I have been pondering Lorie O’Brien’s cancelling of her vacation to try and fix something her bosses did or failed to do. Its laudable. So unlike what Linda Mayo and Rose Lock did when DVMS was in crisis on that Monday. I have learned that the dynamic duo of Linda and Rose were on one of Linda’s “site tours” and she needed, after 15 years, to have Rose “hold her hand” while she toured the campus. How many hours of an assistant Supt. have been wasted in just one year by holding Linda’s hand while she “tours” a campus. If those hours had been spent in supervising the QEIA grant at MDHS, it probably could have been saved. What are we paying Lawrence nearly $300,000 for ? And Rose about $170,000 for ? Would Chevron and Safeway tolerate this ?

  25. Anon Says:

    how about a super who will man up and answer reporter’s phone calls . . .

  26. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon #75 Lawrence . . . man up ? Are you kidding me ? He’s the guy who tried in West Sac to hire his mother as a consultant, and I think tried the same thing here, but it had already hit the blogs. He did hire Sue Brothers as was predicted on the blogs — you’re welcome. Lawrence doesn’t know how to be a leader. He just rules by intimidation, threat, and insult. He’s not the kind of guy you would follow to the top of Mt. Suribachi.

  27. Patrick Oliver Says:

    Hi Teresa – There has been no response from the site regarding these issues except for this memo from McClatchey to staff 12/16/11: “QEIA and Vote of No Confidence — I will be addressing the entire faculty on January 4 regarding QEIA and issues raised in the recent vote of no confidence. I am working closely with the district to support the gains that we have made and to provide available resources to our school. I am confident that we will move forward as a community committed to the academic achievement and well being of our students.” Perhaps you can follow up at that time and what the official word is to staff and parents.
    … as for the idea that we may earn a waiver if we can demonstrate that classes could not be changed to accommodate the required class size, sadly, I am dubious that this is the case. At the February 2011 site council meeting, the council was presented with a report from Jen Sachs and Bryan Richards that discussed QEIA budgeting and class size reduction. That night, the council said to Ms. McClatchy the same thing we’d been saying for months: ‘You must create a QEIA-compliant master schedule.’ A council member said: “If we don’t master schedule for QEIA mandates, we are putting a nail in the QEIA coffin.” At this same meeting, Ms. McClatchy said: “We did not master schedule for QEIA mandates.”
    We (teachers and MDEA) will certainly be investigating the waiver possibility and looking into the prospect of organizing around the presentation of the waiver to the BOE. Perhaps parents, students, teachers and taxpayers can bring some positive political pressure to bear here that can create the political climate in which the waiver could be achieved.

  28. Doctor J Says:

    @Patrick Oliver, a waiver could only be granted if the truth were not told — I know that has never stopped MDUSD in the past. The truth is that McClatchy had the opportunity to correct the schedule, and meet the terms of the QEIA but REFUSED. It was with the knowledge of the Asst. Director of SASS over QEIA and the CFO. Presumably they reported the meeting “up the chain” but if they didn’t it is the fault of the higher ups for not following up.

  29. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Although O’Brien initially said she was trying to find out how this happened, it appears that she does not plan to question Principal Kate McClatchy, Vice Principal Gary Peterson or other district officials about whether the failure to comply was intentional or whether they believed the district couldn’t afford to hire more teachers.

    “Pursuing those exceeds my scope,” O’Brien said in an email. “Their (MDHS) schedule was good last year – except for the handful over 27 (students) so I don’t get that alleged statement.”

    By “alleged statement,” she is referring to Reynolds’ assertion that McClatchy told the site council that she did not schedule for QEIA.

    O’Brien also said she is not sure whether officials at Dent knew the school had failed to meet the QEIA requirements by the end of the school year.

    “I don’t think anyone at Dent knew at that time but am not sure,” she wrote in an email. “Not sure I’d have any way to know. I discovered it as I was getting familiar with all the QEIA schools.”

    In a previous email, she wrote:
    “I know Denise (Rugani) and Jen (Sachs) were monitoring all things QEIA. The strong focus was on the core class average since that is the focus of the letter from CDE in February. I don’t see in the notes left for me any concern about anything else – all seemed well.
    I really don’t think this was deliberate. QEIA is very complex and easy to make mistakes. It’s very complexity to fully implement is behind 20% of the schools in it falling out. Maybe I am naive but why would anyone do something like this deliberately? I am not sure we will be able to get clarity on it but I am trying. At least next week I can give it my undivided attention.”

    If O’Brien doesn’t have the authority to question McClatchy and her staff — or Rose Lock and Bryan Richards — about how this happened, that responsibility falls to Doris Avalos, Rose Lock, Superintendent Steven Lawrence and the board. It appears that O’Brien will be focusing her energies on pursuing a waiver.

  30. Doctor J Says:

    With all of the teacher statements and that of Vice-Principal Gary Petersen, how could a waiver HONESTLY be pursued, unless the truth was not told. It is undisputed that ss of Feb 2011 meeting in which Asst. SASS director Jen Sachs and CFO Bryan Richards were present it was known that a schedule change needed to be made to make MDHS QEIA compliant. Principal McClatchy refused to comply. That sounds pretty intentional to me. And lets be sure that we all understand that SASS also got caught INTENTIONALLY not complying with the SIG grants too. So their track record is not clean.

  31. Theresa Harrington Says:

    O’Brien just clarified in an email that she “doesn’t get” the “alleged statement” by Kate McClatchy that she didn’t master schedule for QEIA (which Dan Reynolds quoted in his comments to the board).

    Patrick: Do you have minutes from the Feb. 2011 site council meeting that show McClatchy said that? Do you recall her saying that? Are there others who attended that meeting who could confirm that she said that?

  32. Wait a Minute Says:

    HUGE SCANDAL here folks.

    I guarantee that McClatchy didn’t sabotage the QEIA requirements on her own.

    This horrendous decision obviously goes all the way up the chain of command to Stevie Lawrence and the Eberhart board majority mafia. There is some serious lying going on here by multiple people.

    Remember the MDUSD’s so-called “leaders” have a pattern of lying to State/Feds about their non-compliance on grants and other special funding and don’t forget that McClatchy spoke against the charter for Stevie Lawrence’s benefit.

    Keep in mind that the potential loss of QEIA funds is only part of the issue here, just as critical is McClatchy’s inability to run a safe school both at MDHS and at Olympic.

    It doesn’t matter how much money you have, if you don’t have safety you can’t maximize learning. McClatchy should be fired on this incompetency alone.

    Once again I urge everyone who cares about kids in the MDUSD to fill out separate CCC Grand Jury Investigation requests on the crucial issues of school safety and the QEIA debacle and anything else related to McClatchy and the MDUSD’s incompetence and dishonesty.

    It is going to take compelled testimony under oath to get the truth here so lets get the CCC Grand Jury rolling on this.

  33. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It shouldn’t take a grand jury to get the truth. The board should demand public transparency and district accountability.
    That is the job of “trustees” — to ensure that the public can trust district officials to carry out their duties accordiing to the law.

  34. Doctor J Says:

    @TH #83 As Dr. Phil would ask, “How’s it working for you ?” “Public transparency and district accountability” being demanded by Eberhart or Whitmarsh ? ROTFLOL And Linda Mayo just saying she wants to “hear the other side” but never tells the public what the other side is — if she even followed up on it. Poor Lynne Dennler . . . just thought she was going to be a champion of elementary education — way out of her league. Cheryl Hansen has a list longer than Santa’s of things that need to be fixed, and the list keeps getting longer, but she is sabotaged at every step by Eberhart, Whitmarsh and Lawrence to keep the truth from coming out.

  35. Wait a Minute Says:

    Here is the link to the CCC Grand Jury to download a Request for Investigation:

  36. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: The public can also demand accountability by speaking during public comment and asking Superintendent Lawrence about the issue during the Parent Advisory Council meeting.

    Although Lawrence has sent out several “News Updates” regarding the CVHS charter petition, he has never informed the public about the loss of QEIA funding.

    Newly elected Board President Sherry Whitmarsh has been a strong advocate of QEIA funding and has questioned district staff about it in the past, to ensure that budget cuts wouldn’t jeopardize it.

    As a former high school principal, Trustee Cheryl Hansen knows exactly how master scheduling works. She is also likely aware of legal requirements to adhere to grant funding contracts.

    The strategic plan — championed by Whitmarsh and Hansen — is supposed to improve the district’s transparency and accountability. Perhaps the board will discuss this during its Feb. 4 governance workshop.

  37. Doctor J Says:

    Unbelieveable: SASS just approved the SPSA for MDHS on December 5, 2011 ! 78 References to how significant QEIA funding is. Take a look at the budget for the school and QEIA funding at page 74. SPSA — Single Plan for Student Achievement. I guess the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. Read all 110 pages:

  38. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: In response to an earlier question you posted, here is the explanation of the Sequoia MS newsletter graphic:

    Regarding the Single Plan for Student Achievement, the board discussed these as an “information” item at its last meeting:

    I believe the board expects to adopt them at its Jan. 9 meeting.

    Note, the agenda report states: “The plan identifies the schools’ means of evaluating progress toward accomplishing the goals.”

    Any member of the public seeking accountability regarding the MDHS loss of QEIA funding could address it when the board approves the Single Plan for Student Achievement.

  39. Doctor J Says:

    Dec 13 Board Agenda #16.2 All SPSA were submitted to the Board for review ! Will seek approval in January !
    Here is what Rose Lock and Steven Lawrence put on the Board agenda about the SPSA:
    “Senate Bill 374 requires that as a condition of receiving funding for specified categorical programs, the school district will ensure that each school in the district operating those categorical programs consolidates any plans that are required by those programs into a single plan to be known as the Single Plan for Student Achievement. The plans include grade level or department action plans integrated with the overall school-wide plans.

    The following are requirements of Senate Bill 374 as it relates to the Single Plan for Student Achievement:
    • The plan is aligned with school goals for improving pupil achievement.
    • School goals are based upon an analysis of verifiable state data, including the Academic Performance Index developed pursuant to Section 52052, the California English Language Development Test, and may include any data voluntarily developed by districts to measure pupil achievement.
    • The plan addresses how funds provided to the school will be used to improve the academic performance of all pupils to the level of the performance goals as established by the API.
    • The plan identifies the schools’ means of evaluating progress toward accomplishing the goals.
    • The plan addresses how state and federal law governing these programs will be implemented.
    • The plan is developed with the review, certification and advice of any applicable school advisory committees.
    • The plan is written, reviewed annually and updated by the school site council, including proposed expenditure of funds allocated to the school through the consolidated application.
    • The plan is reviewed and a request for approval is submitted to the governing board of the local education agency at a regularly scheduled meeting.

    To be compliant with state and federal regulations, all 2011-12 Single Plans for Student Achievement and the Academic Program Surveys are approved by School Site Councils. A request for approval of the plans and surveys will be submitted to the Board at the first meeting in January. Copies of all site plans and surveys are available online at”

    So how could the Site Council at MDHS possibly pass their SPSA for 2011/12 as it reads ????????

  40. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The school still has QEIA funding this year.

    However, the county sent the letter in November informing the district that MDHS would not receive QEIA funding next year.

    Yet, Dan Reynolds said teachers just found out Dec. 7. It’s unclear why the district waited so long to inform the teachers and site council.

  41. Doctor J Says:

    Its pretty ironic that Rose Lock signed off on the MDHS’ SPSA relying on QEIA funding in December 2011 when she had certified in July that MDHS was not in compliance with with QEIA and notice had been given in February that funding would be lost for non-compliance, and that in November the district was informed. What was she thinking ? What a waste of time of school staff, district staff, and everyone in preparing a SPSA for year 2011/12 all based on QEIA funding when LAWRENCE had KNOWLEDGE and presumably MCCLATCHY had knowledge. The Site Council approval had to be in the first week in December. Then for this SPSA to be submitted to the Board on December 13 — what an out and out fraud on the Board. Is there anyone left in the MDUSD heirarchy with integrity ? Or is it all just about trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes until retirement ?

  42. Doctor J Says:

    I agree with Wait a Minute #85 — Get everyone of these employees before the Grand Jury and ask each of them why they tried to defraud the public ! If they lie, give them the Barry Bonds treatment.

    QEIAgate is growing larger by the hour ! Telling lies to qualify for federal and state grants and funds — my oh my.

  43. Doctor J Says:

    Additions to timeline: Schoolsite Council adopts SPSA 11-29-11. Signed by Dan Reynolds on 11-30-11; Kate McClatchy signs on 12-3-11
    From SPSA for 2011-12: page 81

  44. NitWit Says:

    Just asking, as I’m not sure. But wouldn’t the SPSA be for THIS year? Didn’t funding get lost for beginning next year? Like I said,I could be wrong.

  45. Doctor J Says:

    Yes, NitWit, you are correct. Page 74 Budget will give you an idea of the impact for loss of funding next school year for 2012-13. It has always seemed so counterintuitive for “Plans for Student Achievement ” to be developed and approved halfway through the school year. The important part is you will see how much of MDHS’s plan for Student Achievement is based on QEIA — its no wonder the staff is upset.

  46. Anon Staff Says:

    Anecdotally, I can add to the conversation about QEIA at MDHS that the administration regularly complained last year about scheduling and the grant’s mandates. They had every motivation to see it end, although obviously shortsighted. Additionally, Principal McClatchy’s ultimate goal of creating an all-academy school directly contradicted the scheduling mandates. She was warned about this continuously last year. She regularly ignored warnings and scorned teachers and administrators who raised objections against her master plan.

    I know this all sounds insane but that’s the atmosphere at MDHS under McClatchy’s leadership, CRAZY

  47. g Says:

    Does anyone have an idea how much the District will earn off of the 70 foot T-Mobile tower lease? They got the city ok, and are planning to install one at Dent. Considering there is a lot of controversy about exposure to Cell Tower radiation, it looks like it’s going to be awfully close to school play areas. Some 27 neighbors objected to the City, but they were ignored.

    When they leased to OmniPoint a few years ago at PHEC: “One-time signing bonus to the District of $15,000 plus monthly rent of $2,500 with a 3 percent annual increase. Funds will be designated for school security equipment.”

    I just can’t find further reference to a “security equipment fund”….

  48. Doctor J Says:

    @G I cannot open any of the links from the agenda items for warrant reports to search them. Are you having the same trouble ?

  49. NitWit Says:

    Thank you for updating the story, unlike other sites that never post follow ups or explanations. I appreciate the follow through you provide to all your stories and the willingness to post follow ups as warranted. I wish you blogged about more than just the schools for what it’s worth 🙂

  50. Anon Says:

    Has anyone checked the other high schools? As far as I know , and heard from a friend on SSC, they haven’t even adopted a SPSA for CVHS this year. is there QEIA at stake at CVHS or other schools we should be looking at?

    Was there a deadline for SPSA’s? What if a school doesn’t meet the deadline?

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