MDUSD Superintendent informs parents about arrests, budget and possible loss of Mt. Diablo HS funding
Mt. Diablo school district superintendent Steven Lawrence has just sent out the following message to the community, which addresses the recent arrests of a teacher and custodian, the state and district budget, and the potential loss of Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) funding at Mt. Diablo High.
However, he fails to mention that the district stands to lose $1.6 million a year for three years, or $4.8 million, if the state Board of Education does not approve the QEIA waiver. He also does not explain why the district did not comply with the QEIA requirements.
“Mt. Diablo USD News Update
Where Kids Come First
December 29, 2011
We hope that over the past two weeks our students, parents, and staff members have found time to relax and enjoy time with their families. As we continue to grapple with the difficult financial conditions of our state, I would like to thank our teachers, support staff members, and administrators who work tirelessly to create positive, welcoming learning environments for the children in our district. Also, we would like to thank all of our parent and community volunteers that support our schools in so many positive ways.
Unfortunately, over the last few weeks, we have had two employees arrested for allegedly having inappropriate contact with minors. As Superintendent and a parent, I am deeply saddened whenever a trusted adult takes advantage of a child. We want to ensure you that we take our children’s safety extremely seriously and have a rigorous pre-hiring screening process. We fingerprint each prospective employee and volunteer. Over the past several years, we have exceeded legal requirements by submitting fingerprints to both the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) databases. If a fingerprinted employee or volunteer is arrested, we receive an immediate notification from law enforcement agencies. Also, we conduct extensive reference checks for all prospective employees. Both employees in question were subject to these district procedures.
The most recent case of substitute custodian, John Astor, is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Walnut Creek Police Department. As a substitute custodian, Mr. Astor worked intermittently at sites throughout the district. To date, we have received no information that either district students or district campuses were involved in any manner. However, we are internally investigating to ensure none of our children were negatively impacted. We will also share materials with principals focusing on how parents can have conversations with their children around setting appropriate boundaries with adults and what to do when a child feels an adult has overstepped those boundaries. Finally, we are actively working with the Walnut Creek Police Department and strongly encourage members of our community to contact Sergeant Tom Cashion at (925) 943-5880if you have any information about this case.
These two incidents again remind us that we must remain ever vigilant to ensure the safety of our children.
Based on the ‘trigger’ cuts enacted by the governor, we will lose approximately $1.7 million in ongoing revenue. Fortunately, we planned for mid-year reductions and will not have to eliminate any positions to meet this loss of funding. However, several financial reports indicate the State is facing a $13 billion short fall heading into next year. Therefore, based on the Governor’s Budget Proposal due out by mid-January, and the potential approval of the Clayton Valley Charter by either the County Board of Education or State Board of Education, we may need to hold budget meetings to gather input around potential further reductions. We will work with principals to notify parents when and where these meetings will be held.
SB 1133 established the Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) of 2006 for the purpose of implementing the Prop 98 settlement agreement between CTA, et al. v. Schwarzenegger, et al. SB 1133 provides $3 billion over seven years to 488 low performing schools in California. These schools, ranked in the lowest two deciles by the state’s 2005 Academic Performance Index, have high percentages of low-income, minority and English learner students. QEIA funds assist schools in closing the achievement gap by reducing class size, improving teacher and principal training, and adding counselors to high schools.
Six MDUSD schools were chosen through a state-designed semi-random process to receive QEIA funds: Mt. Diablo High, Oak Grove Middle, Riverview Middle, Cambridge Elementary, Meadow Homes Elementary, and Ygnacio Valley Elementary.
In receiving QEIA funds, schools must meet several established targets. In the first years of QEIA, schools were allowed to make incremental growth. Beginning in 2010-2011 each target had to be met fully each year. These targets include:
· meeting or exceeding API goals,
· ensuring all teachers are highly qualified,
· meeting or exceeding district averages on teacher experience,
· meeting specific percentages of staff (certificated and classified) participating in professional development,
· having appropriate counselor/student ratios (secondary),
· reducing class sizes in core and non-core classes to appropriate levels, and
· meeting the Rule of 27 which states that no core classes will exceed 27 students
In the case of Mt. Diablo High School, the District was notified in November 2011 by the Superintendent of the Contra Costa County Office of Education that the school had not met all of its QEIA targets in 2010-2011, based on the end of the year report submitted in June 2011. Specifically, six of Mt. Diablo High School’s core classes did not meet the “Rule of 27″ because they exceeded the maximum class size of 27. Initially, we were informed that we could only submit a waiver based on technicalities; however, recently school districts began submitting waivers around other QEIA issues. The State Board of Education began hearing these waivers during their last meeting, and currently over 40 General Waivers for QEIA have been submitted by districts. Our Board will review the waiver request at the January 9th Board meeting. If approved by our Board, the waiver request will be reviewed by CDE staff and the State Board of Education will make a decision at their March meeting.
Happy New Year
We hope that everyone has a safe and enjoyable New Year’s weekend. Don’t forget, school resumes on Tuesday, January 3rd.”
Are you satisfied with the superintendent’s explanations regarding the recent arrests and the possible loss of QEIA funding for Mt. Diablo High?
JAN. 19 UPDATE REGARDING STUDENT SAFETY: Three more boys have been identified as victims of molestation by Astor: http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_19778214. But, this time, the DA’s office isn’t saying whether Astor met the boys at a school.
JAN. 19 UPDATE REGARDING QEIA AND VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE IN MDHS PRINCIPAL KATE MCCLATCHY: I have just received an email response from Superintendent Lawrence to questions about the MDHS QEIA waiver and vote of No Confidence.
Regarding the QEIA waiver, Lawrence wrote that the CDE has not yet confirmed whether the SBE will hear the appeal in March (as he stated in his message above). I have been told by CDE staff that the board might not consider it until May, since the district didn’t hold its public hearing before the Dec. 23 deadline.
Regarding McClatchy, Lawrence wrote: “Based on input received from the site the site administration team are working on draft responses to the concerns that will be shared on the 30th (of January).”