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Mt. Diablo district seeks forgiveness from state for failure to comply with grant requirements

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 at 8:20 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

The Mt. Diablo school district is hoping the state Board of Education will forgive it for failing to keep core class sizes below 27 students at Mt. Diablo High, as required to continue receiving about $1.8 million a year in state funding through the Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA).

The district submitted a waiver application to the California Department of Education last month, asking to waive the maximum class size requirement retroactively to July 2010 through the end of this school year. Here is a link to the complete 20-page waiver application:

The Mt. Diablo school board plans to hold a public hearing regarding the application on Monday, before trustees vote on it. If the board approves the application, the state Board of Education may decide on the request in March or May.

As of today, the state Department of Education had not decided if it would consider the application complete, since the public hearing was not held before the Dec. 23 application deadline. If it is deemed incomplete, the state board wouldn’t vote on it until May — when the school is likely to be in the midst of master scheduling for next year (and after the March deadline for preliminary layoff notifications).

According to the application, the school stands to lose about $1.8 million a year if the waiver request is denied, starting in the fall. If the waiver is approved, the school could continue receiving the money for three more years, totaling about $5.4 million that pays for approximately 22 teaching positions, 3.5 administrators and clerical staff.

The reasons the district cited for the school’s failure to comply with the request included:

– Staff turnover including teaching staff, three different principals since 2008-09 and new administrators. The application states that the last two principals were spending their first year as principals at a large comprehensive high school with under-served populations. (NOTE: These were board-approved appointments, based on recommendations made by the superintendent.)

When Principal Kate McClatchy arrived, the previous principal and vice-principal had already completed the master schedule, “neither of whom had significant experience nor training preparing the master schedule for a school of comparable size,” according to the application. “In some cases, prior administrators left scheduling responsibilities to staff who had more experience at the site but who were either new administrators and/or lacked sufficient knowledge to do scheduling,” the application states.

– The application also points to turnover and restructuring at the district office among staff responsible for QEIA compliance. “Therefore current district-level staff is also new to QEIA mandates and calculations,” it says.

School and district staff made calculation errors and filled six core AP classes with more than 27 students due to scheduling constraints and a prior practice of “over loading” rigorous courses with the expectation that some students would end up dropping them, the application states.

The school and district promised to try to ensure that they would meet class size requirements in the future through closer compliance monitoring and making needed adjustments at the semester change, according to the application. The school also plans to hire a student services coordinator to fill a vacancy.

It notes that the school is compliant with all other requirements and that the loss of funding would “have a significant negative impact (on) the momentum for positive progress the school has made closing the achievement gap for all, but most specifically for their under-served student populations.”

I just got off the phone with Rose Lock, assistant superintendent for Student Achievement and School Support, who further clarified the district’s position regarding the QEIA waiver application.

When I asked about Vice Principal Gary Peterson’s assertion that the school didn’t comply because the district couldn’t afford to hire more teachers, Lock said Peterson is a new vice principal this year and that all staffing requests come through McClatchy.

“When it comes to staffing needs, Kate McClatchy makes a request if she needs additional FTEs (full-time equivalent positions),” Lock said. “I know we have given her additional FTEs this year.”

Lock said that Lorie O’Brien, assistant director of categoricals and school support, presented the waiver application to the site council. O’Brien worked with Julie Parks, the school’s recently appointed vice principal, to prepare the waiver, Lock said.

“So, they were both new,” Lock said, “yet they found mistakes.”

The district did not intentionally violate the grant requirements, she said.

“You try to follow the rules,” Lock said. “It’s not like you break rules and then try to get out of it. We certainly weren’t expecting to be forgiven. We do this in good faith. It’s not like we’re trying to hide anything.”

McClatchy and district administrators didn’t inform the school staff or publicly let the board know sooner about the possible loss of funding because they wanted to be absolutely sure, Lock said.

“This was new to many of us,” Lock said. “There are so many people working on these reports and trying to meet the requirements and there were some things that we didn’t understand.”

The school and district basically did the calculations themselves, she explained.

“We found out we made a mistake on the self-reporting of the data,” Lock said.

Lock also said she believed a new rule regarding the noncore class size requirement kicked in this year.

When I asked why the SASS Department didn’t do a better job of training and monitoring Mt. Diablo High staff, Lock said: “This is not exactly supporting principals as far as their leadership. This is about having technicial knowledge around QEIA.”

I also asked why district officials didn’t realize sooner that they could apply for a waiver. Many other districts submitted waiver applications in October — in time for the Jan. 11 state Board of Education meeting. But, Lock said she hadn’t received any information about waivers from the state’s QEIA office.

“It’s not a secret,” she said, “but there was no invitation.”

I pointed out that administrators could have informed the board at its Dec. 13 meeting about the possible QEIA funding loss, since Superintendent Steven Lawrence and CFO Bryan Richards discussed the budget and possible upcoming cuts.

District officials were silent about the possible loss of $1.8 million in QEIA funding, yet the public has been given many updates by the district about the possible loss of $1.8 million a year due to the conversion of Clayton Valley High to a charter, I said.

“I can’t explain to you on that,” Lock said.

When I asked if Mt. Diablo High’s QEIA funding is included in the district’s three-year budget, Lock said: “I can’t tell you that” and suggested that I speak to Richards. I left a message for him today, but did not get a response.

I also pointed out that the loss of 22 teachers if the QEIA funding is revoked would have a greater “bumping” impact than the teacher bumping anticipated due to the Clayton Valley High charter conversion. Lock replied: “That’s true.”

Do you think the state should approve the waiver?

JAN. 4 UPDATE (3:50 p.m.): Although Mt. Diablo High teachers were told by McClatchy that the Vote of No Confidence would be addressed during their faculty meeting today, teacher Dan Reynolds said McClatchy failed to allow teachers to discuss the issue during a meeting that is still going on.

I just spoke to him by cell phone (he stepped out of the meeting to talk to me).

“There was absolutely no discussion,” he said. “Kate would not hear it.”

Instead, Reynolds said McClatchy read a prepared statement and then Doris Avalos and and Lorie O’Brien began discussing the QEIA waiver.

“I attempted to ask for a conversation about the vote of no confidence and Lorie and Julie said, ‘We need to move forward on the agenda,'” Reynolds said. “So, I have still not heard one thing from the district.”

Apparently, Superintendent Steven Lawrence is not attending the faculty meeting.

Do you believe the district should give the MDHS teachers some sort of response to their Vote of No Confidence?

JAN. 4 UPDATE (5:20 p.m): Here is a link to audio of the Dec. 13 board meeting:

JAN. 4 UPDATE (11:50 p.m.): Teacher Dan Reynolds sent me a copy of the public meeting notice from the Dec. 31 Contra Costa Times. It was written exactly like the notice on the district’s website and did not invite public comment:

JAN. 5 UPDATE: Here is a link to a copy of the district’s public notice published Dec. 31 in the Contra Costa Times:

JAN. 6 UPDATE: I just returned from a meeting with Peggy Marshburn at the CCCOE. She gave me a copy of a letter sent to Lawrence on Oct. 27, 2010, which said MDHS was failing to meet QEIA requirements and needed to reduce its class sizes.

Although McClatchy told teachers on Wednesday that the district maintained a master schedule to meet QEIA targets, that is clearly not true. The Rule of 27, which kicked in this year, is very clear, Marshburn said. It works just like K-3 class size reduction, which requires no more than 20 students per class. If one class has 21 students under K-3 CSR, the school needs to hire another teacher and divide the classes to retain funding, Marshburn said.

Trustee Sherry Whitmarsh told me that with the Rule of 27, if one class has 28 students or more, the district would need to either hire another teacher and divide the classes or deny the overflow students the chance to take the class.

“From the district’s standpoint,” she told me, “we don’t fund 12 to 14 kids in a class.”

So, it looks like Vice Principal Gary Peterson may have been right all along. The school did not hire enough teachers to be able to accommodate students’ schedules and to also meet the maximum class size requirement of 27 students.

The only question that now remains is: Did McClatchy fail to request the teachers or did the district tell her she couldn’t have them? Either way, both McClatchy and the district have known for more than a year that the school was failing to meet QEIA requirements.

JAN. 6 UPDATE, 7:21 p.m.: I have just spoken to Lorie O’Brien, who said the school’s failure to meet the Rule of 27 class size requirement had nothing to do with an unwillingness to hire more teachers. It was because the school staff thought Advanced Placement courses didn’t count as “core classes,” she said. She said she did not know why staff was under that impression.

“People are trying to do this as honestly and above-board as possible,” she said.

In looking more closely at the waiver application and speaking to O’Brien about it, it appears that she and Julie Parks completely recreated the 2010-11 compliance report from scratch, instead of merely tweaking the previous one. O’Brien and Parks found that some classes originally considered “core” did not really fit into that category, while others that the school staff considered “non-core” actually were “core. Also, some classes had not been counted at all in the first report, O’Brien said.

The original report shows 309 core classes/sections and 101 noncore classes, for a total of 410 classes. The revised report shows 306 core classes/sections and 250 noncore classes for a total of 556 classes. It’s unclear why there is such a huge discrepancy in these totals.

In trying to retrace the work that McClatchy and her staff did last June, O’Brien said she and Parks were unable to figure out which 11 classes were designated as over 27. The original report showed six 10th-grade classes and five 11th grade classes over 27.

The new report shows the six AP classes O’Brien said weren’t originally counted as core, including four 11th grade classes and two 12th grade classes. It’s unknown why the 11 classes originally designated as “core” no longer show up on the report.

“We don’t know what those other classes were,” O’Brien said. “There’s no paper trail that helps us understand where those classes are.”

When I pointed out that the County Office of Education has a thick binder that shows every class in the master schedule as backup for the summary report, O’Brien said she didn’t think it would be cost-effective to pore over that data to try to find out what the originally listed classes were.

“If we recrunch last year’s paperwork, where is the benefit in that?” she said. “What are we trying to accomplish? Are we wanting to punish somebody for a mistake — and you’re taking limited man hours to do that? I think we’ve identified the big things that went wrong. There could have been a myriad of tiny other things that went wrong. We’ve got the big picture. The most important thing we know from this is we’ve got to do really, really robust training and really, really careful monitoring of all these pieces as we move forward.”

Whitmarsh told me the superintendent is looking at creating a “Lessons Learned” type of document so this doesn’t happen again. It is especially important, Whitmarsh said, to be sure that more than one person is trained in QEIA compliance.

I have also learned that the $1.8 million listed in MDUSD’s waiver application does not correspond to the amount awarded to the district this year. The school is anticipated to receive $1,529,000 this year, according to this chart:

When I asked O’Brien about this, she said the number in the waiver application was from the district’s fiscal department.

“It could have included carryover or a soft number,” she said.

JAN. 9 UPDATE: Mt. Diablo High is one of eight schools in Contra Costa County in danger of losing QEIA funding. As previously noted, the Pittsburg school board approved a waiver application in December for Rancho Medanos Junior High, on which the state Board of Education expects to rule in March.

Other campuses in danger of losing the funding are Antioch Middle School in the Antioch district and Kennedy High, Nystrom Elementary, Stege Elementary, Helms Middle School and Richmond alternative high school in the West Contra Costa district.

Nia Rashidchi, assistant superintendent of the West Contra Costa district, said the school board plans to hold a public hearing Jan. 18 regarding a waiver application for Helms Middle School, which didn’t meet its class size requirement for noncore classes. The district met all of its other goals and simply couldn’t afford to hire enough teachers to meet the noncore requirement, she said.

“State funding has not been what it had been when QEIA was first implemented,” she said. “Districts are working to make the targets, but a dollar goes so far. It comes down to money.”

Like Mt. Diablo, West Contra Costa expects that the loss of QEIA funding will prompt layoffs, but Rashidchi said the district hasn’t yet determined how many teachers or other staff members would be affected.

“We are working on that — the educational side of the house, H.R. (human resources) and fiscal — to really calculate to make sure that as many positions we can save, we will do so,” she said. “But without the funding, it will be difficult to do that.”

Rashidchi said she will be watching other waiver applications closely, to see if anyone seeks a waiver for not meeting API growth, which was the goal not met by Antioch Middle School, as well as Nystrom Elementary.

Rashidchi said she believed the state board should take into consideration the progress that Helms Middle School has made with the funding. She appeared to be suggesting that the West Contra Costa district deemed meeting noncore class size requirements as being less important than meeting core class size requirements, teacher experience, counselor ratios and academic progress requirements.

Do you think the state Board of Education should consider some requirements to be more important than others?

JAN. 10 UPDATE: Although O’Brien claimed there was “no paper trail” to show what 11 core classes were originally listed as over 27, the district actually submitted a thick binder of backup materials to the County Office of Education that contained that information.

Peggy Marshburn sent me the following information in an email this morning, based on those backup materials:

“Here are the core classes over 27 from the initial data sent by Mt. Diablo High School in June 2011:
English II 30.61
English II 29.26
English II 29.33
English III 27.95
English III 29.88
English III 27.36
English III H 27.35
English IV 27.07
World His (10th grade) 29.78
World His (10th grade) 27.22
US His (11th grade) 27.24

Here are the core classes (that) are (over) 27 from the revised data submitted December 23, 2011.
AP Calculus 27.99 (12th grade)
AP Env. Sci. 29.58 (11th grade)
Eng III Honors 27.51 (11th grade)
Pre-Calc Honors 34.15 (11th grade)
Pre-Calc Honors 34.74 (11th grade)
Pre-Calc Honors 27.3 (12th grade)

Again, what the core classes are over 27 is not the key point. The key point is that the requirement for 2010-2011 is that no core classes had more than 27 students.

Another point is that the original data for CSR (Class Size Reduction) was determined using Method A, which had data pulled through April 15. The new data used Method B which encompassed the entire school year. Either method is approved.”

So, it appears that it was not as hard to figure out what was included in the original data as O’Brien had suggested. Also, based on Marshburn’s information, it appears that approximately 22 students dropped out of the 11 courses orginally listed in the last two months of school.

JAN. 10 UPDATE, 2:30 p.m.: Peggy Marshburn has just sent me another email saying the county is unable to determine if the district included the QEIA funding for MDHS in its first interim budget multi-year projections.

“The interim reports do not include enough detail to determine the MDHS QEIA assumptions used in the multi-year projection,” she wrote. “You need to get the information directly from the district.”

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202 Responses to “Mt. Diablo district seeks forgiveness from state for failure to comply with grant requirements”

  1. g Says:

    I really want the school to have all the money it needs to properly educate our kids, but this District is a game of Blind Man’s Bluff and Pin the Tail on the Donkey all rolled into one. I’d be surprised if they know how to untie a bow without causing a knot.

    The State should give the school the money only if the District will make some very big heads roll.

  2. g Says:

    Theresa, would you please ask Lorie in which newspaper, and on what dates they published the Notice of Public Hearing.

    Or is there a small error on the Waiver app?

  3. Theresa Harrington Says:

    O’Brien said in an email that she thought the public notice was published over the weekend, but she wasn’t sure. She didn’t say which newspaper, so I’ll ask.

    Which heads do you think should roll? Given the level of ignorance the district is claiming regarding QEIA, are you surprised the other QEIA schools managed to meet their requirements to retain funding?

  4. g Says:

    Let’s start with some of the people at the top who would blame the baby Jesus himself before accepting fault for their own failures and shortcomings— currently, you can pick any name bottom lining over $200 Grand a year— please include the retired-rehired pickpockets.

    They are all guilty! That is your list!

    Jot a note on that pink slip: “Putting in a full day at the office is not how we measure whether you are doing the job you were hired to do”.

  5. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is the story I mentioned earlier, which details one family’s busing horror story and the district’s response:

  6. g Says:

    How much more buffoonery should we be able to put up with from Dent? $350 Million “taxpayer owned” company decides to fight a $1.1 Thousand small claims suit? Really? And hire outside attorneys to do it? Really?

    “Rolen told the judge the district changed its policy and would no longer drop off a student without an adult to meet him or her” Un-huh didn’t this already happen again this year? The judge should have fined Rolen for lying to the court.

  7. Doctor J Says:

    Tip of the iceberg; every parent, every principal, every school secretary, needs to contact Theresa, because only the Freedom of the Press can overcome the lies and tyranny of Rolen, the administration, and the Board. I also urge Child Protective Services to investigate the hundreds of instances in MDUSD that happened to other children in MDUSD — yes, the schools and principals know about them and are afraid to talk, but there are emails about them, and they need to be subpoened. Its about time the Gang of Five raises, with the largest to Rolen of $27,000 be reveresed. The Grand Jury needs to investigate the abuse of the district in not disclosing by name litigation and other issues in their closed sessions. How could Rolen even make a response to the prior Grand Jury report, when it was never identified in any Board Agenda or minutes, unless there was a violation of the Brown Act ???

  8. Doctor J Says:

    Asst. Supt Rose Lock signed the Waiver application not Lawrence. She admits incompetence and ignorance of her and her staff. I don’t believe the State Board of Education can grant a Waiver based on those reasons, because it would open the flood gates to every district to claim their own incompentence and ignorance as a basis for a waiver from every requirement and regulation. At the same time, my heart aches over the fact that such incompetence and ignorance will harm the children at Mount.
    The facts don’t jive with Rose Lock’s version. Jen Sachs had 21 years of experience with categoricals. The first notice was in the fall of 2009 when Mount did not meet the Rule of 27. In December the CCCOE asked for a meeting to discuss it and it wasn’t set until mid January 2010. At that meeting, Rose Lock, Asst Supt, Denise Rugani, SASS Director of Secondary, Jen Sachs, and every MDUSD QEIA principal was present and knew that Mount was in non-compliance. NO CORRECTIVE ACTION TAKEN. To skip to the end of the Waiver application, there is NO CORRECTIVE ACTION PLANNED FOR THIS YEAR AT ALL. That will be fatal to the waiver application. It is not a sign of good faith, but of intentional violation. If they were really serious, they could make corrections and have the rule of 27 in place by the end of this month, January 2012 for the second semester. After all, they were given the money to do it two years ago. What have they spent the money on ???

  9. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It appears that since the district assumed it wasn’t going to continue to receive QEIA funding next year, minimal effort was made to comply with the requirements this year.
    Also, Lock did not directly address Peterson’s assertion that the district couldn’t afford to hire more teachers. Instead, she said it was up to McClatchy to request more teachers. Although McClatchy initially returned my call while I was on vacation before Christmas, she has not responded to my call for comment since then.
    McClatchy has told her staff she will address their vote of No Confidence today.

  10. g Says:

    Teacher Trigger. The time is absolutely right.

  11. Doctor J Says:

    Lets not forget that Lawrence’s Org Chart of April 2011 has the High School Principals reporting directly to him and not through Rose Lock. The notices of non-compliance were sent directly to Lawrence — he KNEW about them all the time.
    As far as McClatchy’s meeting today, I don’t have too much confidence she will roll over on Lawrence or Lock or anyone else. There is just something suspicious about her first no-confidence vote at her prior high school, and then the sudden switch-er-oo putting her at MDHS and obviously unqualified to handle the job. Lawrence didn’t have any problem with letting a couple of elementary principals swing in the wind and get fired at that time, but he didn’t with Kate McClatchy when there was just cause. Someone knows why McClatchy wasn’t let go then or now, and they haven’t talked YET. Eventually the truth will come out.

  12. Wait a minute Says:

    I think its as simple as McClatchy went to bat for Stevie Lawrence by opposing the charter and Lawrence agrees to protect her in return.

    I also believe that this whole QEIA non-compliance scandal was deliberately repressed by Stevie Lawrence to keep it clear of his desperate fight against the charter!

    After all, the rank hypocrisy of Stevie Lawrence fighting the charter on the basis of monetary loss loses all its power if it was revealed that at the same time the MDUSD was going to lose an equivalent amount by refusing to follow the QEIA mandates!!

  13. Doctor J Says:

    Rose Lock certified the Waiver application that notice was published. To so certify, she had to know where and when. I don’t think they did it, I think its just made up.

  14. g Says:

    Notice has not been published in any paper in this District’s territory. I’ve been checking daily since 12/16. It’s just one more official signature to a false declaration.

  15. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Lorie O’Brien said the district still has time to publish it, since it is not required to adhere to the 10-day notification followed by the CDE. However, I will ask her to find out specifically when it was (or will be) published. Pittsburg submitted a copy of its published notice with its waiver application. That notice was published Dec. 1 – two weeks before the Pittsburg district’s Dec. 14 public hearing.

    Regarding McClatchy’s appointment, teacher Dan Reynolds pointed out at the time that the staff had not been involved in the selection process. Do you think the district should spend as much time reviewing candidates for promotions as it does reviewing them when they are hired from the outside? Principals hired from the outside go through a series of interviews with the school community and others, including a MDEA rep. I don’t believe that process was followed for McClatchy’s promotion.

  16. Doctor J Says:

    The Waiver application asked: ” How was the required public hearing advertised ?” Rose Lock certified: “Notice in newspaper”. The question was in the past tense “How was . . ” If it had not yet been advertised, she could just have easily checked the “Other” and explained it had not yet been advertised or held. This is a clear false representation.

  17. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, didn’t you report at the time that either Lawrence or Lock or perhaps Braun-Martin told you that McClatchy and LeBoef (?) wanted to “switch” schools which is why Lawrence agreed to it ? No one was told about the McClatchy “no confidence” vote as finally revealed on the blog by Regalia.

  18. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is what O’Brien wrote to me in an email yesterday: “I heard it went in this last weekend but don’t have that first hand –clerical staff were on vacation who normally do that. It doesn’t have to be in all that early. In talking with CDE, they want districts to follow their typical local practice – not the timeline they follow at CDE. So, it really doesn’t have to be in for a few days yet.”

  19. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, Lawrence said it was the preference of the two principals to “switch.” He has the authority to appoint lateral transfers. However, I believe the board had to approve McClatchy’s appointment because it was technically a promotion to a high school principal from a small necessary high school administrator.
    As has been mentioned before, the Olympic HS teachers did not go public with their vote of No Confidence as MDHS teachers have. Also, LeBoeuf ended up leaving Olympic mid-year, after problems with her abilities to handle her duties surfaced there.

  20. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#18 The MDUSD “local practice” for “Public Hearings” is ten days published notice. See the Resolution at:
    The CDE instructions for #4 are very specific: “4. Public Hearing Requirement – General waivers require the local board to conduct a public hearing on the waiver request before the SBE can consider it. A public hearing is not simply a board meeting, but a properly noticed public hearing held during a board meeting at which time the public may testify on the waiver proposal. Distribution of local board agenda does not constitute notice of a public hearing. The notice must specifically invite public testimony. Acceptable ways to advertise include: (1) print a notice that includes the time, date, location, and subject of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation; or (2) in small school districts, post a formal notice at each school and three public places in the district (modeled after EC Section 5362).”
    Pittsburg USD doesn’t seem to have a problem following the instructions, why does MDUSD ?????

  21. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The district has posted the public hearing notice on its website:

    Although it says “interested parties should attend,” it does not specifically invite them to comment.

  22. Doctor J Says:

    CDE requires: “The notice must specifically invite public testimony.” See comment 20 above. When will MDUSD learn to read and comprehend ?

  23. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The notice also minimizes the financial impact, rounding it down to “more than $1.5 million” instead of more than $1.8 million and specifying only the 2012-13 school year, instead of revealing that the funding could last through 2014-15, if the waiver is approved and the school starts complying with the requirements.

  24. Doctor J Says:

    It never says a “Public Hearing” will be held, just a Board Meeting. Theresa, obviously Dent is reading your blog today.

  25. g Says:

    Lock states that no one knew Waivers were permitted until December. I am appalled that beginning in January when “first warnings” were given that no one even considered just looking up and then search Waiver. Had they had the foresight to just look for it they would have then been able to follow the lines of those waiver requests that have been successful.

    Lorie worked hard and fast, but I would suggest that a proof reader might have cleaned up the minor errors a bit. Relying on spellcheck is not sufficient to present a formal, well written, non-rambling, and whiningly repetitive request.

    To use “staff turnover”, “unknowledgeable staff”, “we didn’t understand the written rules” and “we didn’t know we could appeal”, as excuses for not studying or searching for answers simply speaks volumes to the lazy, haphazard disorganization that runs rampant in this District.

  26. g Says:

    Yes, Dr. J: Sticking a note on the Newsroom to say something will be included at a Board meeting three business days from now is not a legal “NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING”. I would like to say ‘they just don’t get it’, but unfortunately, I think they do, but just don’t give a damn.

    Until someone gives the Grand Jury and the Brown Act some teeth, they will continue to cash their checks, payoff their buddies, ignore the taxpayer and give hand signals to the established Education laws.

  27. Doctor J Says:

    @G, Board “trustees” should be appalled at the Waiver. “Incompetence” and “ignorance” are not very compelling arguments and if approved by CDE would open the flood gates for every district to get a waiver for anything. The one glaring ommision from the waiver: NO CORRECTIVE ACTION WAS EVER TAKEN. More significantly, the Waiver is not factually accurate. The first warnings were not in Jan 2010, but Jen Sachs said the “fall” of 2009. The Mid Jan 2010 Meeting called at the request of CCC OE was actually arranged in mid December AFTER the fall notices of deficiencies had been sent out and everyone knew that MDHS not in compliance. Go back to Kate McClatchy’s appointment. The minutes of the Board meeting indicate that Dan Reynolds spoke up and was concerned not only there was no involvement of teachers or the public in the appointment, but he ASKED THE BOARD if it would affect the school’s reorganization — translate that QEIA. And he got typical Board silence and stares at the ceiling. Turnover at Mount is Lawrence and the Board’s responsibility. “Unknowledgable staff” is Lawrence’s responsibility. Jen Sachs did not leave until June 30, 2011. She has several times told Theresa, the issues “were known and discussed”. Again, NO CORRECTIVE ACTION TAKEN. As for Lock’s feigned lack of knowledge — she was in the January 2010 meeting, and knew already of Mount being out of compliance. Waivers have been a main component of the CDE agenda for years. On the CDE website, just search for “waiver”. Take a look at the waivers that have been denied and granted. Never seen one granted for incompetence or ignorance. Have seen a few granted for emergency situations. The best line in the whole waiver, and I think Deb Cooksey had part in this, was that MDHS exceeded the maximum class size because it had a declining school population. Who is going to believe that ?

  28. Theresa Harrington Says:

    G and Dr. J: It was surprising Lock said district officials didn’t know they could apply for a waiver because they hadn’t been “invited” to apply. Do you think the public expects administrators working at that level in a large district to take more initiative?

  29. Doctor J Says:

    @G#26 So they are trying to substitute this newsroom note that doesn’t meet legal requirements for “Rose Lock certified: “Notice in newspaper”” that was certified to already having been published by December 23, 2011 ? I can’t wait to hear her $170,000 a year claim of excuse that:“staffturnover”, “unknowledgeable staff”, “we didn’t understand the written rules” and “we didn’t know we could appeal”. CDE Staff is not stupid, and the California Board of Education is highly competent.

  30. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#28 — If they didn’t know, that’s why they have two experienced full time educational lawyers on staff: Rolen and Cooksey. But MDUSD already knew how to process a waiver with CDE. Here is one approved by the MDUSD Board on Sept 22, 2009:
    How many millions of dollars do we have to pay Dent administrators to be competent ?

  31. g Says:

    Theresa, I think that not only does the public expect school administrators of any-size district to take more initiative, the public expects them to care!

  32. Doctor J Says:

    @#30 Julie Braun-Martin’s multiple waiver applications for MDUSD were heard in May 2010 [Lawrence on board by then]. Apparently MDUSD hired a bunch of interpreters who didn’t meet Federal and State requirements because the Job Description did not reflect the Federal and State requirements. So waivers had to be processed — remember these were approved by the MDUSD board on Sept 22, 2009 so MDUSD knows exactly how long it takes to get on the State Board agenda. The SBE approved “with conditions” including that MDUSD had to rewrite its Job Description and get approved by CDE to include the Fed and State requirements; also certain interpreters that had scored low on the test, were given less time on their waivers, and more proficient given more time. I guess I wasn’t too surprised to learn that job descriptions did not meet legal requirements even with a full time General Counsel on board. Seems like that has been Rolen’s Standard Operating Procedure — go until you get caught. And he still got that Gang of Five raise by $27,000 — still shaking my head.

  33. Wait a minute Says:

    This latest comedy of errors out of Dent would almost be funny if it wasn’t for the tragic consequences to the education of OUR CHILDREN by these incompetent, lying people.

    Like you said at #23 Theresa, they deliberately mis-state by “rounding down to 1.5 million” so they don’t have the correct 1.8 million loss that exactly matches how much the CVHS charter might cost since they don’t want that comparison made!

    They further deliberately mis-state it to the 2012-2013 school year only to hide the full truth of 2 complete school years worth of losses!!

    Then they claim that they only “slightly exceeded tha maximum class size rule” to try and minimize the fact that they knew for over a year that they were out of compliance and purposely took no corrective action to come into compliance!!!

    This is what is wrong with the MDUSD. Incompetent, unethical lying people in charge wasting our money and causing long-term harm to OUR CHILDREN.

  34. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Do you think this falls under the category of “accurate” but not entirely “honest” communication to the public?

  35. Doctor J Says:

    @WAM #33 — The waiver request is for “through June 30. 2012 — which means they are asking the State Board of Education to grant a TWO YEAR waiver because they have been in non-compliance for all of two schoo years: 2010-11 and 2011-12. No corrective action taken in either year, and even now they still could take corrective action for the second semester — which means they might have to hire a new teacher or two.
    I don’t have the numbers to prove this, but I suspect this might be true. Because of the declining enrollment, the number of FTE teachers was actually decreasing since 2009, and because they were cutting the FTE’s paid out of the General Fund, and the QEIA teachers were remaining constant, it had the effect of actually increasing the the max class size in some of their core classes in excess of the Rule of 27 due to less FTE teachers. Dan Reynolds knew that, and he was screaming about it, but neither McClatchy nor Lawrence nor Lock nor Rugani, nor Sachs did a damn thing about it.

  36. g Says:

    No, Theresa. Because this isn’t even accurate. Accurate would be $1.8 million, and for two years.

    Honest would be notifying the public of those facts, plus– the possible loss of 22 teachers in one low income-high ESL school due to the administration’s known failure to adhere to well written guidelines which simply required planning and filling two or three of the 7 empty teacher positions over a three year period of conformity.

  37. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: It’s still unclear whether McClatchy requested additional teachers and was told the district couldn’t afford to hire more (as Gary Peterson has suggested), or whether McClatchy failed to request more teachers.

    Also, I’m still trying to find out who is right in the debate about whether the district can file a waiver regarding the financial impact of a CVHS charter conversion. I have spoken to the CDE manager of charter apportionments and district reorganization, who said she recalled speaking to someone in Paul Minney’s office, but does not recall ever speaking to a district administrator about this issue. She said she couldn’t be sure what the CDE legal department would say regarding this. In other words, she couldn’t definitively say yes or no. She suggested that the district could file a waiver application and then see whether the legal department would approve it. Superintendent Steven Lawrence has said the district was told it couldn’t file a waiver for the charter impact. But, he also said that about QEIA (which turned out to be false). I have sent him an email asking who told him this, but haven’t heard back yet.

  38. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#37 I suspect the problem that Lawrence had with Mount keeping its FTE in compliance with the Rule of 27 is that the Mount’s FTE would have been higher than the other high schools that he was cutting to the bone. In effect Lawrence was using the QEIA money to staff some of the FTE from the General Fund due to the declining enrollment. So Lawrence became pennywise and pound foolish.

  39. Doctor J Says:

    Hope we can get a report from McClatchy’s faculty meeting where she is going to “explain” what happened with the loss of QEIA. I wonder if Lorie O’Brien attended.

  40. Theresa Harrington Says:

    As I have previously noted, there is a huge disparity in the amount of funding each high school contributes to the general fund from its per student state revenues.
    MDHS contributes only 7 percent of its funding, or $390.37/ADA.
    In contrast, CVHS contributes $523.55/ADA (about 10 percent).
    College Park contributes $777.18/ADA (nearly 15 percent).
    Concord HS contributes a full 15-percent of its per student revenues, at $805.10/ADA.
    This means that these schools are already paying a far greater share of districtwide costs than MDHS. If the school loses its QEIA funding, other schools could end up contributing even more. This means that even though the district says the QEIA loss would only impact MDHS students, it could actually impact the entire district.

  41. The Observer Says:

    There has been little that has been “accurate” or “honest” during the Eberhart/Whitmarsh/Lawrence regime. There has been nothing except one debacle i.e school closure, Measure ‘C, Eberhat’s solar certificate, special education transportation, CV charter school, QEIA, after another. Unfortunately,three of the board members who hired Lawrence are still on the board and will not terminate him. It won’t be until Eberhart and Whitmarsh are no longer on the board after the next election in November will there will a majority who can rid the district of Lawrence and his cronies. In the meantime, how much more damage will the board majority and Lawrence do?

  42. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: McClatchy was also supposed to respond to the Vote of No Confidence, which included many more issues than the QEIA waiver.
    Based on Superintendent Steven Lawrence’s previous email to me (in which he stated that he’d be happy to attend a meeting at any school that wanted to discuss issues/problems such as CVHS), it would be prudent for Lawrence to attend. Also, since he is McClatchy’s direct supervisor, one would think he would want to see how she handles this.

  43. Doctor J Says:

    @Observer#41 More damage ? The Board could extend Lawrence’s contract between the election and the swearing in of the new board members. Lawrence could bring Sue Brothers into the District office. We would then have Stue.
    @TH#42 I would think Lawrence would want to be there to keep her in line and not reveal too much. Who wrote her Oct 25 script for the Board Meeting ?

  44. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have just posted on update to this blog regarding the MDHS faculty meeting, which is still going on.
    According to teacher Dan Reynolds, McClatchy read a prepared statement and then refused to allow any discussion.
    Lorie O’Brien and Doris Avalos are presenting the QEIA waiver application and told teachers they needed to move on with the agenda. It does not sound like Lawrence is at the meeting.

  45. Doctor J Says:

    OMG, now we have Lorie O’Brien and Doris Avalos taking control of the faculty meeting ?? Lawrence sent that dynamic duo to control McClatchy. It wouldn’t surprise me now that the faculty opposes the waiver as “factually inaccurate”. Actually, McClatchy’s refusal to allow discussion of her prepared statement has probably just triggered an outbreak of flu among the faculty. I wonder if O’Brien and Avalos are going to allow discussion of the “waiver” ? If they don’t, what will be the ramifications ? Another vote of no confidence, this time for Lawrence ? But G you might have been a prophet this morning: teacher trigger , , , and both barrels. It could get ugly.

  46. Wait a Minute Says:

    Refusing to allow any discussions, huh.

    Really? I think the Mount Diablo Jester could have fun with this one.

    So the MDUSD senior management has transcended itself into an undemocratic fascist regime like:
    the late Colonel Quadaffi of Libya
    the late “President” Saddam Hussein of Iraq”
    “Presidents” Mubarak of Egypt, Saleh of Yemen, Ben Ali of Tunisia and the many other dictators currently fallen from power around the world.

    I suggest that not only should Dan Reynolds and all the brave teachers at Mount make a request for a Grand Jury Investigation (see here):

    , they should immediately contact Pat Middendorf and Neil McChesney from CVHS and start the process of a trigger charter for MDHS to be free once and from all from this TYRANNY!

    So no Stevie Lawrence at this so called meeting, what a disingenuous coward.

    He’s probably puckered up somewhere with Rolen and EberMarsh awaiting the fallout from the KPIX and KTVU news tonight regarding the retaliation they authorized against the Fardella family that is now going to cost the MDUSD’s taxpayers a legal settlement:

  47. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have just posted a second update to this blog with a link to audio of the Dec. 14 meeting.

  48. Disillusioned Says:

    @ Theresa #42: your last sentence “he (Lawrence) is McClatchy’s direct supervisor”, clearly indicates where the responsibility falls. At least Ms. Lock responds to your questions even though McClatchey’s direct supervisor is Lawrence. And since Lock’s direct supervisor is also Lawrence, it seems highly possible that he has directed her to respond to questions regarding Mt. Diablo High. Instead of spending such an exhorbitant amount of time opposing and fighting the Clayton High charter, Lawrence should have been more attentive to directly supervising principals like McClatchy and directed Bryan Richards to oversee the QEIA timelines for Mt. Diablo High.

  49. Doctor J Says:

    I hope someone taped McClatchy and O’Brien/Avalos and provides it to Theresa. It will be like the Pentagon Papers.

  50. g Says:

    Lawrence would probably be at today’s all day (10a-4p)PAC meeting. These meetings, from what I can tell, the meetings are usually only a couple of hours in the evening. They must have planned a doozie agenda for today? They used to post minutes monthly through Dec 2009— but then… Lawrence took over on Feb 1, 2010 and not one posting of minutes on the Supt/PAC site since.

  51. Doctor J Says:

    @G, actually the notice on the website says it ends at 7 pm and started at 10 am . LOL

  52. MDHS Teacher Says:

    Let me tell you I was AT that faculty meeting and the “discussion” that Ms. McClatchy promised us was nothing but her reading off of a paper, telling teachers that we voted no confidence in her because of the QEIA issue (not true! there was sooooooo much more documented before we even knew about that) and then SHUT DOWN any type of question or comment from the staff. The mic was turned over to her buddies from the MDUSD and we “moved on” with the agenda. There were 50 minutes set aside in the agenda to discuss the vote of no confidence/QEIA loss and waiver. Let’s just say that we spent a lot of time hearing about QEIA when we REALLY wanted time to talk about the vote, but were silenced!

    I am saddened that Mt. Diablo High School, the flagship school of the district (est. 1901), is being hung out to dry by its own principal and the MDUSD.

  53. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have just added another update to this post noting that teacher Dan Reynolds sent me a copy of the official public notice published in the Dec. 31 Contra Costa Times.
    However, the notice does not state that it is for a public hearing and does not invite public comment (it is written exactly like the public meeting notice on the district’s website).

    MDHS Teacher: Are you satisfied with the way McClatchy and the district have responded to the teachers’ vote of No Confidence? Do you or any other teachers intend to raise this issue at Monday’s board meeting?

    FYI, Board President Sherry Whitmarsh said the agenda for Monday’s meeting should be posted Thursday.

  54. MDHS Teacher Says:


    First of all, thank you, thank you, thank you for covering this story and keeping it alive in the news. You asked: Are you satisfied with the way McClatchy and the district have responded to the teachers’ vote of No Confidence?

    Answer: Hell no. I expected and deserve MORE. My students and their families deserve MORE. We want answers and change. Teachers are tired of feeling intimidated and silenced by Ms. McCltachy and the MDUSD (Puppet-master).

    You also asked: Do you or any other teachers intend to raise this issue at Monday’s board meeting?

    Answer: Hell yes.

  55. MDHS Teacher Says:

    Please come support MDHS Teachers at the

    MDUSD Board Meeting
    Monday, Jan 9, 2012

    Mt. Diablo Unified School District Offices
    Dent Center
    1936 Carlotta Drive Concord, CA 94519

  56. MDHS Teacher Says:

    Correction, Board Meeting Time: 7:30 PM (not 7)


    MDHS Teacher

  57. Theresa Harrington Says:

    MDHS Teacher: Have you contacted the superintendent and/or board members directly regarding your concerns?

  58. Wait a minute Says:

    MDHS Teacher,

    I think you will find that going to this current board will be like pushing on a string.

    The current board majority is well aware of the problems and in fact are part of the problem and are not going to be a part of the solution.

    The most effective way to bring positive change to the MDUSD is for you and your colleagues to copy the CVHS charter petition and movement and this will bring the change you and the children you serve need and deserve.

    You saw last night how both McClatchy and Dent feel about this and how they will treat you and you colleagues and clients.

    Go charter and you can FIRE Mcclatchy, Stevie Lawrence, Greg Rolen, Eberhart, Whitmarsh, OBrien, Avalos and the other agents of TYRANNY.

  59. g Says:

    Theresa, are you able to find that Notice in the Times? I certainly can’t. I’ve searched using all catagories, meetings, etc, for Mt Diablo, MDUSD, School, every way I can think of under Public Notices. I have found nothing.

  60. g Says:

    Thinking more, I guess if Dan found it, it just wasn’t published online for some reason. I have no reason to distrust his word.

  61. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: Reynolds sent me a pdf copy of the page. It looks like it was published as a display ad, which is why it may not show up under public notices. Display ads don’t usually show up online.

    Regarding contacting the board: I spoke to Trustee Lynne Dennler last night and she told me she wants to talk to the teachers who presented the vote of No Confidence, but she didn’t remember their names.

  62. g Says:

    Thanks Theresa, Who would think to look for a box ad when looking for a legal notice.

    It’s time for Dennler to stop playing the ‘duh-I dunno’ game. She needs to wake up or stay home. She’s had a year to learn where to get information.

  63. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dennler does not appear to realize how much power she has. Any member of the public can call the superintedent’s secretary at 682-8000 ext. 4000 and request the names of speakers from the speaker cards. You can also request contact information, if it is listed. Certainly, Dennler could have asked for this information, but it appears that didn’t occur to her. However, she does respond to emails she receives. So, it would be prudent for the MDHS teachers to contact her via email, if they are hoping for a dialogue with her. She said she was frustrated during the holiday break because she didn’t think she could reach anyone to ask questions about these issues. Perhaps the issue of getting information could be raised at the Feb. 4 board retreat.

    I mentioned to Dennler that I have posted a lot of information about the vote of No Confidence and waiver on my blog. She said she was told not to read blogs. However, Trustee Cheryl Hansen has told me that she often learns more from my blog than she learns from district administrators. When I told Dennler this, she said she might look at my blog.

  64. g Says:

    Don’t read Blogs? Lynn, the taxpayers of the world would like to remind you–this is the 21st Century! So we can add Lynn “Mushroom” Dennler to my Favorite Names list along with Greg “Tangient” Rolen.

  65. Wait a minute Says:

    Gee I wonder who told her to “…not read blogs.”?

    Maybe it was someone trying to control her access to information?

  66. Jim Says:

    Lynn — Here’s the appropriate response when a reporter asks if you read blogs: “I just don’t have time.” You don’t say, “Somebody told me not to.” That way, you are more likely to look like a busy, competent administrator who rises above the day-to-day noise, rather than a hapless, clueless educrat who takes direction from the very people she is supposed to oversee, with no regard for her own responsibility and liability.

    I mean, Sheesh! Do we have to explain this? Posts on this blog often suggest that the district’s leadership is corrupt, venal, and scheming. But even those attacks suggest some base level of competence. You just have to wonder sometimes. Comments like Lynn’s (or Greg Rolen’s “I did NOT just admit to a judge, for the public record, that we did something wrong”) make me wonder if they need some serious coaching just to rise to the level of your basic, run-of-the-mill nincompoops. It is almost embarrassing to have to engage with these people at all.

  67. Jim Says:

    …and the idea that they purport to “manage” an organization dedicated to “learning” is, just, well, preposterous. Where do these people come from, and why are their profiles so consistent? Is there some apparatus at a Dent Center employee entrance that screens out anyone with an IQ over 85?!?

  68. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dennler appears to be learning on the job, but she isn’t getting much guidance. She asked Whitmarsh if she would be attending the CVHS charter appeal hearing and Whitmarsh said she would. I commented that I had seen Gary Eberhart and Cheryl Hansen at the previous hearing, along with Whitmarsh. Whitmarsh said Linda Mayo spoke at the previous meeting. Apparently, Dennler was the only trustee who didn’t attend that meeting because she was out of town. She appeared to be wondering if she should go to the Wednesday meeting.
    I have found Dennler to be very thoughtful and passionate about doing what’s best for children. She has strong opinions, based on her years of experience as a teacher. She is still learning, however, how to translate those opinions into actions.

  69. Disillusioned Says:

    @ MDHS Teacher: follow “Wait a Minute’s” advice from post #58. Go charter. I’m sure there are more than enough of your colleagues at CVHS who’ll be more than happy to assist you in getting started. “Wait a Minute” is correct. The disrespect you experienced last night will just be repeated at Monday’s Board Meeting regardless of how many MDHS teachers and community members come to back you up. Simply submit the initial request for a charter and present it. MDHS becoming a charter is the best way to make a positive change.

  70. g Says:

    Just tell Dennler it’s simple. Treat the paid employees like you would treat your students. Give them instruction, guidance and respect equal to what they give you. Treat the Public like you once had to treat your employer—they are your boss-period.

    We entrusted five of you to DIRECT:

    a $350,000,000.00 annual budget,

    a $358,000,000.00 Bond budget

    with 32,000 students, and 5000 employees,

    and $30,000,000,000.00 in assessed property holdings.

    So, if you can’t do some individual research, make a decision on your own or think on the run, please step down in time for us to add another candidate – this year.

  71. Doctor J Says:

    Lynne Dennler would benefit from lots of the classes from the California School Board Assocation. Here is one on the Brown Act on January 20 — she will learn how many violations our district is conducting. The district must reimburse her for the costs.

  72. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#61 The district paid for a display ad instead of a Legal Notice. ROFLOL. I wonder if that meets the legal requirements. BTW, Theresa, don’t you get a free subscription to home delivery of the paper ? 😉

  73. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I don’t get a free subscription, but I get a reduced rate.
    I believe the point of purchasing a display ad is that it’s more visible to the community than a tiny legal notice.
    It’s odd, however, that it wasn’t worded the way the waiver application required it to be — as a public hearing notice inviting public comment.

  74. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, I guess it wasn’t that visible, was it ? :-) “Odd” ??? I would guess it didn’t meet the legal requirements which are very clear on the application and the INSTRUCTIONS right off the CDE Website ! You know the old teacher adage, when all else fails, read the instructions. That is one thing people in the Dent Center don’t do very well — READ THE INSTRUCTIONS ! Glad to hear the times rewards its employees with a discount ! :-)

  75. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The ad was easy to miss, since it was sandwiched at the bottom of the page with other ads. Also, it ran on a Saturday, which was also New Year’s Eve — probably not a day for high readership. I believe our readership is lowest on Saturdays.

  76. Doctor J Says:

    I just don’t see the Mount teachers taking McClatchy and Lawrence’s insults yesterday lying down. So what are their options ? Just so there is no misunderstanding, the insults from McClatchy were here reading a prepared script while taking no questions nor allowing any discussion [prepared by whom ? Did she read it any better than she did the one on Oct 25 ?] and the insults from Lawrence were approving McClatchy’s script and failing to show even though he is her direct supervisor according to his own April 2011 Org Chart — plus sending two low level district employees [one temporary] to keep McClatchy “on script”. This kind of faculty insult by an administration already short on trust issues will permeate the entire district.

  77. Wait a Minute Says:

    Lets hope so Dr J,

    The only way that there is going to be positive change in the MDUSD is for the real stakeholders like parents and school staffs to take matters into their own hands against the tyranny of Dent.

  78. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa was near prophetic in her “Tale of Two Schools” blog by quoting Trustee Lynne Dennler: “All is not well in Mt. Diablo. So, we have a choice. We can either choose to ignore the problem and face more charter applications. Or we can honestly examine where we are today and make the changes that are necessary. And then we won’t repeat history.” Dennler urged the Board and Supt: “I think it’s really important to study the problems and issues that fester in this district among our parents and our teachers.” Dennler urged the district to establish a committee to facilitate discussions about concerns on campuses.

    Lawrence’s response in an email was simply pharisaical: “We did have a meeting last spring to learn of the concerns that the charter petitioners have.” But NOTHING about addressing OTHER problems in the district. Lawrence then said: “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.” Uh, Steven, the Mount faculty, since you are the direct supervisor of Kate McClatchy, was expecting you to be at yesterday’s meeting to address the no confidence vote. Instead you give McClatchy a prepared script and instruct her to take no questions and no discussion. Where were you ?

  79. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, it looks like the Contra Costa County Office of Education staff is recommending conditional approval of the CVHS charter:

    Here’s the recommendation:

  80. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Monday’s agenda includes a long-overdue job description for the Assistant Director, Categoricals and School Support :

    It also includes an equally long-overdue job description for the Director of Secondary Support, who is required to “Provide leadership in the resolution of complaints and issues of secondary schools” and to “Take leadership in creating healthful human relationships which will provide a suitable climate for learning and teaching.”

    Here is a link to the entire agenda:

    Required qualifications include:

    – Ability to work effectively with all segments of the educational community and general public.
    – Ability to analyze problems, make decisions or recommendations, and be responsible for those decisions.
    – Knowledge of the principles of staff training and development.

    Did Avalos fulfill these requirements and demonstrate these qualifications at the MDHS faculty meeting?

    NOTE: The SASS job descriptions are on the consent calendar and will not be discussed unless a trustee or member of the public asks to have them removed from the consent calendar for discussion.

  81. Sue Berg Says:

    As the person once responsible for posting public notices of upcoming public hearings in MDUSD, I can say that the district’s handling of and wording for the notice for the upcoming hearing are no different than they’ve ever been. Law requires a school district to post public notices for public hearings on several issues: when it is considering an easement, for textbook sufficiency review, for Williams Act compliance, to name a few.

    The notice of a public hearing must be posted in the local newspaper and at the District Office ten days beforehand. And, of course, it appears in the agenda of the meeting in which it will be held. As Theresa noted, the district chooses a display ad because it is more noticeable than one buried among the pages of the small-type “official public notices.” Where the display ad appears in the paper is at the discretion of the newspaper staff.

    The hearings are typically held within the context of a regular Board meeting. When the item comes up on the agenda, the Board president officially opens the hearing and invites public comment. Following the comments, the president closes the public hearing and then calls for a Board discussion and vote.

    Also, advance notice or not, the law requires public agencies to allow for public comment during every meeting of their board. Even in the case of Closed Sessions, the MDUSD Board begins the meeting in Open Session and invites public comment before adjourning to discuss confidential matters listed on the agenda.

    Critics of Paul Strange may be interested to know that he was vigilant about the Superintendent’s posting agendas of any meeting, including the PAC, where more than three Board members might be present and including Public Comment on those agendas.

  82. Anon Says:

    Thanks Sue. Now that we have your attention, what do you think of the more substantive issues of the QEIA waiver request, Mount’s vote of no confidence, and retaining the Oakland law firm for this busing law suit? Is the district management appropriate and in the best interest of the children?

  83. Doctor J Says:

    @Sue Berg #81 One slight problem Sue, the SBE requirements are different, and require be invited to testify. The Notice does NOT do that. I have previously cited the SBE requirements. You may find them on the CDE website by searching for waiver instructions. Its instruction #4.

  84. Sue Berg Says:

    Anon #82, my point in clarifying the public notice procedure was to put an end to the nattering on about it. You’re right. It’s hardly a substantive issue, yet some posters (Comment #83 being a case in point) want to make it one.

  85. Doctor J Says:

    @Sue Berg#84 Show me Sue, where does it say “Public Hearing” and where does it invite the public to “testify” as required by CDE ?

  86. g Says:

    You Know Sue, you really aren’t offering much to the discussion. You only write in when you want to defend Dent and today, yet again, point out ‘district procedure’. That’s fine. That’s your opinion and your goal in writing.

    Well, we want to point out ‘legally required procedure’. We already know what and how (carelessly) they are doing their jobs, and how long and how well they have been able to slide in under public radar. We just want them to finally realize we are the public– and we are watching both our kids and our cash now– and we want things done right for the sake of education– and we want it done right the first time out of the gate.

  87. g Says:

    Just re-read my last post and want to clarify to Sue. I did not really mean to disparage you personally, and would never call what you write “nattering”. I would like to hear some of your opinions, as a taxpayer, parent-grandparent-whatever (I don’t know you). I know you worked for McHenry, and I can’t believe you spent those years not forming opinion about what the District does as a body. Not just what they do right, but the wrong as well. We know there are a lot of good, hard working people at Dent, M&O, schools, etc, but the district is on such a slippery slope right now.

  88. Theresa Harrington Says:

    At the Parent Advisory Council meeting, Superintendent Steven Lawrence said the vote of No Confidence is being handled at the site level.

    After the PAC meeting, Board President Sherry Whitmarsh told me she is staying out of the No Confidence vote issue because she views it to be a “personnel issue.”

    However, during a discussion about school staffing earlier in the evening, Whitmarsh told me that she believes it’s very important to find the “right fit” for school administrators and teachers. Dennler agreed, saying every member of a school staff is important (including custodians).

    As I have previously mentioned, Dennler told me that she wants to talk to the teachers who spoke about their No Confidence vote at the board meeting. She could get her chance if she shows up at MDHS at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow, when teachers will be assembling with signs to inform students and parents about their concerns.

    I asked teacher Dan Reynolds in an email whether teachers were satisfied with McClatchy’s response — which was a prepared statement — to their vote of No Confidence during their Thursday faculty meeting. Here’s his reply.

    “Was I satisfied with Kate’s statement: No, it was hollow and empty and full of sentences that had no meaning, and she made promises that she has made before and broken before. And she refused to listen to the staff in any meaningful way.Teachers were never given an opportunity at the meeting to have their voices heard regarding the Vote of No Confidence.”

    Their voices will be heard in the morning.

    Do you agree with Lawrence’s decision to leave the response to the vote up to McClatchy? And do you agree with Whitmarsh’s decision to leave the response to the vote up to district administrators — even though the board approved McClatchy’s appointment?

  89. MDHS Teacher Says:

    I, and ALL of my teacher colleagues at MDHS agree with Dan Reynolds (Teacher Leader Extraordinaire). Ms. McClatchy left her 100 teacher staff completely out in the cold on Wednesday at our “Staff Meeting.” I am going to start calling those meetings “Administrative Meetings” where the 100 teachers sit like sheep in the library and are made to listen and follow her instructions. When we “baa” aloud, a muzzle is swiftly brought in by a VP or other administrative puppet of Mc Cltachy. ENOUGH! We are the 99%! Steven Lawrence dropped the ball (again) and left this “personnel issue” up to the accused herself to handle. I deserve more! My students deserve more! Their families and futures deserve more! Out with Mc Clatchy! NO MAS!

  90. Doctor J Says:

    Lawrence has created a Hydra by blindly supporting McCarthy who now has a failed record of non-leadership at two high schools in a row. Lawrence, McCarthy’s direct supervisor, is leaving her to hang in the wind, and refuses to engage the faculty about the complaints of lack of leadership despite his promise to do so. This morning’s protest is likely to just be a shot across the bow, with escalating actions coming from the faculty until their issues are heard and resolved. I believe that Lawrence was involved in McCarthy’s prepared statement and refusal to permit questions or discussion — its way too similar to her prepared and poorly delivered text of Oct 25 to the school board on CVCHS. Lawrence’s plate seems to be getting awful full with those dissatisfied with his leadership. I wonder why he claims he is too busy to do district business because he is putting out fires all the time.

  91. Doctor J Says:

    @SueBerg#81 Sorry Sue, Paul Strange forgot to notice the Buttercupgate Meeting and got caught red-handed, which he first denied to Mike Noce and then had to admit when he found out there was a credible witness.

  92. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#79, The County blasts Eberhart, Whitmarsh and Mayo plus Lawrence & Gang in a very detailed staff recommendation to the County Board of Education recommending approval of the CVCHS charter giving a detailed dissection of each of MDUSD’s flawed arguments. I am sure that the narccisist Gary is now trying to torpedo that report by political pressure on the County Board of Education. Sorry Gary, they have ethics. Give it up Gary, your time has past. You had better get over to MDHS and see another monster you have created by your failed policies.

  93. Doctor J Says:

    Why is Kate McCarthy being protected ? Lawrence had no problem firing Bob Dodson and Toby. Does Kate have a secret weapon ?

  94. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Trustee Gary Eberhart once said that he considered hiring school administrators one of the most important decisions a board makes.
    Have any of the MDHS teachers heard from him about the vote of No Confidence?
    He proudly told me that he quickly interceded when he learned about problems that were brewing at Northgate. He met with parents and pressured then-Superintendent Gary McHenry to respond to the concerns being presented by parents about the previous principal. Is he as responsive to the teachers at MDHS?

  95. Anon Says:

    Gary McHenry met with a group of Northgate parents, Dr. Young and other admins. Sue Berg was at that meeting. Based on her invaluable experience, Sue could share vis-a-vis whether the superintendent meeting with MDHS would be beneficial.

  96. Anon Says:

    I don’t remember Sue Berg being there.

  97. School Teacher Says:

    The more I hear of all the things Gary Eberhart considers to be the most important thing(s) the board/district does (social promotion, hiring administrators, etc), the more he just appears to be a political hack who will say anything to make it look like he/they are doing something. But, for those watching, nothing much seems to be getting done. I will also add that a good “fit” for an administrator at a high school is important, but from what I have seen, administators here in the district seem to come in with the intent of forcing their (or the district’s) issues/programs onto the site/teachers. So in that respect, I don’t feel the district really chooses administrators to try and support sites, but to propagate their own programs/policies. Take a look at how many long term principals there are in the district, and once hired, how long do they stay before moving on. Most end up just being “yes men/women” for the district. If anyone should have more say in how the site is run, it should be the teachers (and community) because most of them are in it for the long haul.

  98. g Says:

    The President of the MDUHS Board of Trustees said she didn’t want to get involved in this McClatchy issue because she thinks it is a personnel issue? Madam President, please look closely at the chain of command of the Orginazation Chart.

    Exiting Board President, Gary Eberhart is equally silent (with us) on the McClatchy issue? I’ll bet he wasn’t silent with Sherry! She doesn’t have a thought in her head unless Gary loans her one of his.

    CEO/Superintendent Lawrence is, well he’s just pathetically silent about a lot of things. He really came here–to a District three time the size of any he had worked at– thinking he could get others to do his job, and he could smile and report what they had done as if he had done all of the successful things. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a lot of “successful” coming from his camp.

    Also—where were all of our highly paid/re-paid, newly hired/re-hired SASS super-brains in ALL of this crap at Mount D? Aren’t they supposed to lead and guide the individual school’s Administration? Where are they?

  99. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I just posted an update regarding my meeting with Peggy Marshburn of the CCCOE this morning, which revealed that the district has known since Oct. 27, 2010 that MDHS was not meeting QEIA requirements.

  100. Wait a minute Says:

    Nice work Theresa, SMOKING GUN!

    Proves that Stevie Lawrence suppressed the OFFICIAL news (he already knew about it of course) of imminent loss of QEIA so as to not have that “out there” during the final debate over the charter.

    Like all sneaky beauracrats he also wanted to keep it secret until X-Mas vacation and hope it would go unnoticed.

  101. Doctor J Says:

    The SASS job descriptions are so far from Lawrence’s description to the Board to be laughable. See Agenda 8.14 and 8.17. Back on May 11, 2010 Lawrence said SASS would be for the purpose of “we need instructional leaders who have successfully moved schools forward to help support and coach other principals and school staffs”. For the SASS Elementary Director None of the 28 “Major Responsibilities” have to do with “principal coaching”. For the SASS Secondary Director None of the 30 “Major Responsibilities” have to do with “principal coaching”. For both the Elementary Director and Secondary Director None of the 14 “Knowledge and Skills” and none of the “Education, Training and Experience” have anything to do with “principal coaching”. Not a single “major responsbility” nor a single knowledge or experience have to do with prior experience in “successfully moved schools forward”. The creation of SASS was nothing but musical chairs.

  102. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I also went to MDHS this morning and saw the level of support teachers received from students, parents and other staff members (honking horns) as they came to school and saw teachers standing with a sign explaining their vote of No Confidence and passing out information about it.
    Teachers clearly were not pacified by McClatchy’s remarks Wednesday. And Superintendent Steven Lawrence’s assurance to the Parent Advisory Council that the issue is being handled at the site does not appear to be accurate.
    Instead of patiently waiting for McClatchy to involve them in a collaborative conversation about their concerns, teachers are inviting parents and students to attend their PTSA meeting at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 19 in the school library to learn more about what’s going on and have their voices heard.
    It appears the the district’s failure to address this vote of No Confidence head-on is causing it to escalate, shining a bright spotlight on issues that could have been handled behind the scenes if the school and district leadership had been more responsive.

  103. Doctor J Says:

    QEIAgate now has Lawrence’s fingerprints on it since October 27, 2010, which is consistent with Jen Sachs statements that Lawrence and McClatchy KNEW since the “Fall 2010” of the non-compliance. The “Waiver” application being considered tonight is simply misleading and inaccurate and needs to be amended to put forth ALL of the relevant facts. The only thing that could be done now to save QEIA is to take action against those responsible for supressing the truth and preventing CORRECTIVE ACTION. I would suggest two people to start with: Lawrence and McClatchy. If the State Board of Education saw their immediate exit, it might give MDHS a chance at retaining the QEIA grant. Good work Colombo, I mean Theresa.

  104. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have also learned that Julie Braun-Martin attended the Wednesday meeting and responded to concerns raised by teachers about McClatchy’s failure to allow conversation about the vote of No Confidence.
    According to notes I have received from one of the teachers, Braun-Martin admitted that the meeting agenda may have been “misleading” because it gave teachers the impression they would be able to discuss their concerns about McClatchy’s leadership.
    Braun-Martin told teachers that she and O’Brien were not prepared to be a part of that dialogue. However, she assured teachers that it would be important to have a productive dialogue and she suggested that Doris Avalos and McClatchy could discuss the best time and way to accomplish that so people’s voices could be heard. Braun-Martin also offered to work with McClatchy and Avalos on that.

  105. g Says:

    I know I talk a lot about Holbrook, but when I hear things like “From the district’s standpoint,” she (Whitmarsh) told me, “we don’t fund 12-14 kids in a class.”… my blood boils. Holbrook was sitting with 31-32 students in each of their Kindergarten classes—so I guess the District doesn’t fund high numbers either.

    The only reason schools show they have a high capacity, but low enrollment is because of tearing down and then replacing unneccesary Modular buildings in 2006-7 to several campuses with known declining enrollment, all the while, buying land to build schools that would cause further declining enrollment in North Concord.

    So typical of their thinking. That’s like eating the cake and then going out to buy frosting for it!

    Why did they do that? The Pedersen/Board conspiricy team needed to “spend-spend-spend the 2002 bond and Prop 55 money” ANY way they could think of-in order to keep construction and attorney friends employed!

    The beast is alive and well fed in the MDUSD.

  106. Doctor J Says:

    Sherry Whitmarsh’s statements are reflective of the fraud and deceit that is going on in MDUSD with federal and state grant funding we have seen with SIG and QEIA: the District agreed to the Rule of 27 requirement in order to get the money, but had no intention of honoring it, even when caught over a year ago and took NO CORRECTIVE ACTION. The pattern of conduct is clear in both SIG and QEIA. The QEIA money was specifically to keep core class sizes 27 or BELOW. Clearly the Board of Trustees isn’t going to stop this practice which they seem complicit in. Its time for the long arm of the law.

  107. Doctor J Says:

    QEIAgate: Was the Board advised of the October 27, 2010 letter ? Not in a public meeting. If they were, their fingerprints are on the letter too.

  108. g Says:

    In order to keep SIG monies flowing the District is required to do a lot of administrative housecleaning at those schools. QEIA funding, which is about equal in amount to SIG, should hold the same requirements.

    The Glenbrook students that did not get their full benefit of SIG money will be taking their neglected needs right back to be financially neglected again at Mount D over the next few years. Shameful!

  109. Doctor J Says:

    Disgraceful is the most polite word for Lawrence after his Dec 29 2011 “News Update” in which he claimed the District learned of the non-compliance in Nov 2011 and now the REVELATION uncovered by Theresa that Lawrence knew on Oct 27, 2010, more than a year before and took NO CORRECTIVE ACTION. President Sherry Whitmarsh’s statement implies she knew about all along and sanctioned the non-compliance. I call on her to tell the TRUTH, the WHOLE TRUTH, and nothing but the TRUTH about when she first learned of non-compliance and what was her position on it.

  110. Wait a minute Says:

    Dr J,

    The only chance that Whitmarsh or Lawrence or Eberhart will ever tell the trush is if they are sworn into testifying by the courts or law enforcement and even then I’m sure they would be highly evasive.

  111. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have just spoken with a CDE staffer who said the state still hasn’t decided yet whether the application will be considered complete for the March board meeting, since the public hearing was not held by the Dec. 23 application deadline.

    Also, after the Oct. 2010 letter was received, the district did recalculate its base class size, which changed some of the numbers. However, that doesn’t explain why it exceeded the maximum of 27. That does not require complicated calculations to figure out.
    It’s difficult to understand how McClatchy and Lock can claim that failure to comply with this rule was not “intentional.” Who put more than 27 students into the classes?

  112. Jim Says:

    As has been noted before, Sherry Whitmarsh is in way over her head. A disagreement between a principal and a single teacher may be a “personnel issue”, but a vote of no confidence with wide backing from a school’s teachers and parents is NOT just a “personnel issue”. It is an extraordinary sign of organizational dysfunction and administrative impotence. So long as Sherry and the board fail to appreciate the full import of the situation at MDHS, they will keep wearing that big sign around their necks that says, “We ARE the problem!”.

  113. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#111 The only rational reconciliation of the obvious non-compliance of both the SIG and QEIA grants is that the administration with Board under-the-table sanction has thought “no one was looking”, “no one was checking” and compliance is just a “wink and a nod”. If it had been unintentional, when the Oct 27, 2010 letter was received, IMMEDIATE corrective action for the second semester would have been taken to reduce all core class sizes to 27 or below and a mea culpa letter sent to the County apologizing for the mistake. The mid January 2011 meeting would have showed compliance. It didn’t.
    Right now as it stands, the current Waiver application is FALSE AND MISLEADING. Any credible corrective action at this point would require an immediate change in principal, an immediate change in the schedule, even if it requires hiring one or two additional teachers. And while the Board could probably get by without doing it, I believe the Board should fire Lawrence for cause — unless of course the Board was complicit with him and then they couldn’t do it because he would blow the whistle on him. Theresa, please post the letter so the faculty at MDHS can see the culpability of Lawrence and McClatchy.

  114. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I don’t have an electronic copy of the Oct. 27, 2010 letter.
    However, it states: “Mount Diablo High School was found to have not substantially met the requirements for 2009-10.”
    It refers to a chart that shows the school was exceeding class size requirements in grades 9, 11 and 12 and notes that the school received 0 out of 2 points possible, for “minimal or no progress.”
    “If the school does not meet or exceed all of the requirements at the end of the next school year, the SSPI will terminate funding for that school,” the letter states. “Mount Diablo High School will need to take significant action during the 2010-11 school year to ensure that all of the requirements are met to continue participating in the program.”

  115. Doctor J Says:

    Can’t you scan the letter and post it ? I believe the MDHS faculty, the Board, and the public need to see the hard evidence before the Board meeting tonight.

  116. Doctor J Says:

    Sorry, I mean Monday nights meeting. TGIF. LOL.

  117. Doctor J Says:

    UPDATED QEIAgate Timeline 01/06/12
    The QEIAgate timeline that will HAUNT Kate McClatchy, Rose Lock, and Steven Lawrence: Who knew what and when did they know it ?
    Oct 2010 Class sizes are audited for compliance with QEIA.
    October 27, 2010 letter sent to Supt. Lawrence from CC County Office of Education: “Mount Diablo High School was found to have not substantially met the requirements for 2009-10.”
    It refers to a chart that shows the school was exceeding class size requirements in grades 9, 11 and 12 and notes that the school received 0 out of 2 points possible, for “minimal or no progress.”
    “If the school does not meet or exceed all of the requirements at the end of the next school year, the SSPI will terminate funding for that school,” the letter states. “Mount Diablo High School will need to take significant action during the 2010-11 school year to ensure that all of the requirements are met to continue participating in the program.”
    Jen Sachs, Asst Director SASS, says MDUSD received QEIA non-compliance report in “fall” which is consistent with Oct 27, 2010 letter. Sachs said: ““The regular monitoring of the Mt. Diablo High School QEIA program did reveal challenges and these challenges were discussed.”
    Mid January 2011: In a mid January 2011 meeting called by CCC Office of Education, Asst. Supt. Rose Lock, Secondary Director Denise Rugani, SASS Asst. Director Jen Sachs and others from MDUSD including ALL principals of QEIA — that includes Kate McClatchy — were informed by CCCOE that MDHS was not meeting the requirements of QEIA and likely to lose the grant unless the requirements were met. No Corrective action is taken.
    February 16, 2011: “fair warning” letter was sent by Christine Swenson of CDE to “Select District Superentendents” (Lawrence) that if school was not in full QEIA compliance funding would be lost. No corrective action is taken.
    Mid February 2011: Asst SASS Director Jen Sachs and CFO Byran Richards meet with Principal Kate McClatchy and discuss QEIA grant ramifications. No corrective action is taken.
    June 7: Jen Sachs appointed Director of Categoricals in Pittsburg USD. Resignation effective at MDUSD June 30, 2011. On Dec 19 Jen Sachs wrote an email to Theresa Harrington of the CCT: ““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.””
    Before July 15, 2011: Both Asst. Supt Lock and Principal McClatchy sign certification showing that MDHS is in non-compliance.
    August 23 Board approves Lorie O’Brien as Asst. Director of SASS over Categoricals.
    Sept 7, 2011 SASS Director of Secondary Denise Rugani accepts job in Liberty Union School District.
    October 2011: CCC Office of Education runs class numbers again, and MDHS still out of compliance.
    Oct 25: Kate McClatchy told the Board on Oct 25: “The stability of our faculty at Mt. Diablo High School is central to our continued improvement in student achievement.”
    November 17: CCC Office of Education sends out Notice that funding will be cancelled due to non-compliance. No action is taken.
    Nov 21: Lawrence holds special budget impact meeting about CVCHS charter impact, and publishes that MDUSD has for the last two years had reserves exceeding $40 million dollars each year. No mention of QEIA loss at MDHS despite mention that MDHS has QEIA funding that provides additional teachers.
    Nov 27 MDHS Sitecouncil approves the SPSA. No mention of QEIA loss.
    Nov 28: Special Board meeting. No mention of QEIA loss.
    Nov 30 Chair Dan Reynolds signs the SPSA. No mention of QEIA loss.
    Dec 3 Ricardo Pinzon of the English Learner Advisory Committee signs the SPSA. No mention of QEIA loss.
    Dec 3: Kate McClatchy signs the SPSA. No mention of QEIA loss.
    Dec 7: MDHS teachers first learn of loss of QEIA funding.
    Dec. ? Asst. SASS Director Lorie O’Brien prepares a Q&A about loss of QEIA fudning: “…central office staff met regularly with Mt. Diablo High staff to review progress and provide guidance. Mt. Diablo High staff monitored all targets closely.”
    Dec 12: MDHS teachers, through MDEA secret ballot, vote “no confidence” in Kate McClatchy.
    Dec 13: Regular Board meeting. No mention of QEIA loss except during Public Comment by MDHS staff who voted “no confidence” in Kate McClatchy. Neither staff nor the Board addressed the issue, and neither staff nor the Board appeared surprised by either the “no confidence” vote or loss of QEIA funding.
    Dec 15: following Meas C meeting, Board Vice-President Linda Mayo has no comment on the MDHS situation telling Theresa she will have to get the other side of the story.
    Dec 16: SASS Asst. Director Lorie O’Brien cancels her vacation to work on applying for waiver but says she does not know why MDHS did not meet QEIA mandates.
    Dec 23: MDHS Sitecouncil approves waiver. School Board has not yet approved. No public hearing has been scheduled or published in newspaper inviting testimony. Agenda notice is insufficient for Waiver Public Hearing. Take a look at how Pittsburg handled it.
    Dec 23, 2011 Waiver signed by Rose Lock, Asst Supt SASS.
    Dec 29: Rose Lock says she doesn’t have a copy of the Waiver — Lock claims Waiver presented to Sitecouncil by O’Brien — the irony is that it is easier to get a mugshot of a custodian or Nugent than it is to get a copy of a Waiver submitted to the CDE.
    Dec 31: “Adverstisement” not legal notice, published in newspaper about Board meeting, but does not refer to a “Public Hearing” nor does it invite public testimony as required by CDE.
    Jan 9: Board agenda includes Public Hearing and approval of QEIA Waiver.

  118. Sue Berg Says:

    Dr J #91, I cannot speak to Board member actions or decisions after Gary McHenry–and then I–left MDUSD in 2009. Occasionally on this blog I post a comment if I am moved to correct or clarify something related to my 9 years in the district; hence my noting that the current public notice procedure is the same one I followed. My comment regarding Paul Strange’s vigilance applies only to the time I worked with him.

    Anon #95 and #96, I did sit in on several, but not all, of McHenry’s meetings with Northgate parents. I was included in other parent and employee meetings as well, including every monthly PAC meeting throughout my tenure. The invitation for parents to join the PAC was made through the site principals every fall, but parents were encouraged throughout the year to attend.

    Those points made, and given that I do not work for the district nor reside in it, I respectfully decline invitations to offer opinions via computer blogs about current issues facing the MDUSD leadership. I feel fortunate to have worked with the McHenry team, but accept that a majority of voters wanted something different three years ago. Thus, a new team is in place with its own set of challenges and strategies. I’ll leave the judgment of that team up to the people directly affected by it.

  119. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Sue, I have found out from the CDE that the public meeting notice published by MDUSD is perfectly acceptable. It is their opinion that members of the public understand that public comments can be made on every board agenda item.

  120. Doctor J Says:

    Lawrence’s old school district pays out over $300,000 in attorney fees in losing effort to keep emails and electronic records secret.
    As I read it, it sounds a lot like what Theresa has to go through to get Public Records from MDUSD

  121. Sue Berg Says:

    Thank you, Theresa. Hope this puts an end to, as Dr J would call it, PublicNoticeGate.

  122. g Says:

    Dr. J: Thanks for the article. Mr Harris said a mouthful: “It would never happen if they (school district) had to spend their own money but apparently they operate using different standards when they spend the taxpayer’s money.”

  123. Doctor J Says:

    @SueBerg, actually the last word usually goes to the courts, as Lawrence’s old district demonstrated, at an enormous cost of money simply taken away from the students. I simply pointed out that the CDE written instructions were not being followed. Since it is a “Public Hearing” as opposed to just a public meeting, it remains to be seen how President Whitmarsh handles it being advised by her trusty advisor attorney Greg Rolen. That should give everyone a lot of confidence the “right thing” is being done. Oh, one last thing, Roseville was also Sue Brothers former district.

  124. Anon Says:

    Thanks Sue for confirmation that administrators met with Northgate parents no doubt in good faith. I can’t claim personal knowledge but it surely seems to contrast with what has happened with other high schools in the last year.

  125. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: As far as I know, MDHS parents have not spoken out about the leadership. It appears that the teachers are trying to see if parents share their concerns.

  126. MDHS Teacher Says:

    Teacher confidence in MDHS Principal (McClatchy): 14%
    Teacher dedication to MDHS students: 100%

  127. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have just added another update to this blog, based on a closer look at the waiver application and a conversation about it with Lorie O’Brien.
    It turns out that she and Parks completely recreated the compliance report because they were unable to figure out how the school staff came up with the numbers reported in June.

  128. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#127 Is the back-up data at the county and the data Lorie O’Brien used the same data ? Just counted a different way ? The sticky wicket is that both calculations show, in different amounts, that Mount was in non-compliance with the Rule of 27. Any way you count it, when Lawrence learned on Oct 27, 2010, NO CORRECTIVE ACTION has ever been taken. That doesn’t show any good faith. If they had taken the time in Nov/Dec 2010 to fix the problem, they wouldn’t be in the mess they are. How many volumes will Lawrence’s “Lessons Learned” be ?

  129. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I don’t know if it’s the same data. I believe O’Brien said she pulled her data from the Aeries computer system.
    Also, to clarify, there was some sort of corrective action taken regarding the 2009-10 data, I believe. I think the base Class Size Reducation number was recalculated based on some sort of mistake, which lowered the numbers. After that, I’m not sure if the school was still out of compliance for 2009-10. The issue that year was not the Rule of 27, because that requirement didn’t kick in until the 2010-11 year.
    However, even with the new calculations for 2010-11, it is still unclear why the school allowed 11 classes to be over 27 students when it did its original calculations (although O’Brien has been unable to determine what those classes were and now contends they may not have actually been core classes).

  130. MDHS Teacher Says:

    This is a classic case of the administration of MDHS and MDUSD dropping the ball and now the students, families and teachers of MDHS will suffer for it. Shame on them.

  131. Doctor J Says:

    This next week is a classic case of the Supt, compensated at $300k per year, managing by chaos. Mon Board Meeting: MDHS teachers outraged by failure to address NO CONFIDENCE vote; Public Hearing on MDHS Waiver to SBE for non-compliance on QEIA KNOWN since Oct 2010 and NO, NADA, CORRECTIVE ACTION TAKEN. Wednesday has CCC OE recommendation to County BOE recommending CVCHS charter that Lawrence spent over $100,000 opposing. And SBE considering SIG grants that have been cut by over $180,000 by CDE. I am sure Lawrence will spin it as a win for MDUSD. At what cost ?

  132. Theresa Harrington Says:

    MDHS and MDUSD knew they could submit new numbers in the fall if they believed the report submitted in June wasn’t accurate.
    It’s interesting that the district waited until December to recalculate the data, given the lack of experience and understanding the staff at the school seems to have had. If O’Brien and Parks had recreated the report in September or October, the district could have submitted the waiver in time for Wednesday’s state Board of Education meeting.
    Also, Dr. J., please note there was corrective action taken during the 2010-11 year to correct data from the 2009-10 year. However, there doesn’t appear to have been action taken to correct noncompliance issues in 2010-11.

  133. Doctor J Says:

    Who is responsible for QEIAgate ? Compare the draft job descriptions drafted before Sep 1, 2010 for the SIG submission with the job descriptions to be approved at the Board meeting tomorrow. Very telling.
    Here is just a brief comparison of the SASS Director of Secondary Support. I am sorry I cannot do columns here it would be a stark comparison.
    In 2010, the secondary director supervised secondary principals, Assistant Director of Categoricals, Administrators of School Support, and others as assigned. In 2012, the first three have been eliminated and just others as assigned remains.
    In 2010 the Secondary Director “supervise and evaluate secondary principals”. In 2012, just “assist with”. In 2010, supervise the management of categorical programs. In 2012, its the same !
    Inconsistent in the job descriptions is the one for Assistant Director of Categoricals. A draft was not submitted with the 2010 SIG Grants as Jen Sachs was a holdover from the Curriculum & Instruction Dept and presumably operated under a job description that I do not have available. The 2012 Job Description NOW has that position reporting directly to Rose Lock, Asst. Supt. Yet both Secondary and Elementary Directors job descriptions continue to say they supervise the management of categorical programs. Reminds me of Abbott and Costellos famous Who’s on First routine ? The District hires consultant after consultant for educational programs, and when they need an educational management consultant to help with organizational management and job descriptions, they write their own. Go figure.

  134. Doctor J Says:

    Her’s the link to the 2010 SIG Grant applications with 2010 Job Descriptions to compare with 2012 Job Descriptions to be considered by the Board tomorrow.

  135. Theresa Harrington Says:

    This is interesting, since Denise Rugani, who held the position of secondary director when it was first created, told me that she was not responsible for supervising or evaluating Principal Kate McClatchy.

  136. Doctor J Says:

    The 2012 Secondary and Elementary Director’s job descriptions do NOT have them directly supervising anyone ! Why are they “Directors” [higher salary scale] then ? The should just be Asst Directors, like Categorical. The School Support Administrators [school principal coaches] all directly report to Rose Lock, Asst. Supt. and not to the Directors. Very odd.

  137. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The district’s website lists 20 “directors,” including the directors of elementary and secondary support:
    However, some of these positions have been eliminated, such as the director of Curriculum and Instruction.
    The director pay scales vary dramatically, from the range of 18 to 41, with both the SASS directors at range 34, which pays $94,213-$127,721, depending on years of experience and other factors.
    Other directors at this salary range are: Director of Curriculum and Instruction (which was eliminated when SASS was formed) and the Director of English Learner Services (which was newly created to address deficiencies in the district’s EL services).
    Positions just below this range, at level 32, are the Director of Personnel Services and the Director of Special Education, who earn $90,722-$122,975, depending on experience, etc.
    The next highest director range is 36, which pays $97,793-$132,575. The only director in this category is the Director of Maintenance and Operations.
    Do the directors above and below range 34 supervise others?

  138. Doctor J Says:

    I believe the only directors who do NOT supervise someone are SASS Secondary and Elementary. Interesting that Lorie OBrien as “Asst Director” is in salary range 28. Since Asst Supt Rose Lock has everyone reporting directly to her, there is no reason to continue with the “Director” and all could become Asst. Directors at a substantial savings to the District, especially since the SASS Director of Secondary is “open” with an interim position.

  139. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#135 More interesting are the internal changes WITHOUT Board approval. Go back to Org Chart approved by the Board on 5-11-10. The Asst Dir. Categoricals [then Jen Sachs now Lorie Obrien] reported to both Directors of Secondary and Elementary. Compare with Lawrence’s April 2011 Org Chart, same in this regard. In May 2010 each Director of Elementary and Secondary had two School Support Administrators [principal coaches] reporting to them, and NOW under the Job Descripitions tonight, EVERYONE reports directly to Rose Lock, Asst Supt. Very strange. Lets save some money and get rid of the monetary burdens of Directors who don’t supervise anyone !

  140. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Another alternative would be to let them retain the title of “director,” but lower the salary range to one that is more in line with their reduced responsibilities. There are many directors at level 29 or below.
    At level 28, O’Brien earns $85,406-$115,776, depending on experience, etc. If the directors’ salaries were reduced to this level, the district could save $8,807 per person or a total of $26,421 per year for the directors of Elementary, Secondary and English Learner Services.

  141. Doctor J Says:

    This is why there are so many “inflated” salaries in MDUSD. It is a “reward” your friend system, instead of a pay for performance system. The “title” should be commensurate with the “responsibilities” as well as the salary.

  142. Theresa Harrington Says:

    We’ll see if the board agrees with you.
    Clearly, the board is willing to increase salaries based on increased responsibilities (ie. Greg Rolen).
    So, it should also be willing to decrease salaries based on decreased responsibilities.
    Coincidentally, reducing the three directors to level 28 would save almost exactly the same amount as Rolen’s salary increase of approximately $27,000.
    As an aside, part of the rationale for raising Rolen’s salary so much was the fear that he might leave if his salary wasn’t competitive with similar positions elsewhere. Do you think the district would suffer greatly if Rolen left for another position elsewhere?

  143. Doctor J Says:

    @TH #142 Has the Board EVER decreased salaries based on decreased responsibilities ? ROFLMAO. All they have ever done is hire more consultants or more employees ! So far, the conversion of Curricilum & Instruction to SASS — one director to an Asst. Supt and two Directors — has been the biggest financial farce that Lawrence has pulled on the taxpayers and the Board was soooo very gullible to go along with it ! Well, acutally its not so gullible. There are some long standing “relationships” between the old board members and the SASS members that make this whole reorganization “make sense” for which the public would be outraged.

  144. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Part of the rationale for creating SASS was to create greater school support and accountability.
    In the case of the MDHS QEIA grant, however, there appears to have been a huge lack of support for things as basic as master schedule training and understanding what constitutes a “core” class under the grant guidelines.
    Who was responsible for this apparent lack of oversight and training?
    The SASS department is creating “essential standards” for student knowledge at each grade level. Perhaps it should similarly create “esssential standards” for basic knowledge school administrators should possess. It should ensure that if they don’t initially have this knowlege because they are being promoted — that they are quickly trained to get up to speed in their new positions.
    If the district is not prepared to adequately train administrators, then it shouldn’t be promoting people who don’t know how to do their new jobs.

  145. Doctor J Says:

    Internal promotion first, outside hiring second. Its a failed system.

  146. Theresa Harrington Says:

    There are many district administrators who have been successful after being promoted. They were given the support they needed to assume their new responsibilities.
    The question is: why didn’t that happen at MDHS?
    Just as teachers are expected to be accountable for what their students do and don’t know, the SASS Department and trustees should be held accountable for what superintendent-recommended, board-appointed site administrators do and don’t know after they’ve been on the job for a quarter.

  147. Doctor J Says:

    Lawrence had no idea of what C&I was doing or supposed to be doing. His vision of SASS was so mypoptic that “all the other things” that SASS had to assume from C&I and other departments were overwhelming to SASS to destroy their basic mission to “coach principals” by former “successful principals” who had turned around distressed schools. Several problems. First, there weren’t any “successful principals” that had turned around distressed schools except one or two. Second, except for one or two, most of the successful principals weren’t really successful — they just managed high API schools but didn’t improve the levels of scores amongst all levels of students.

    Lawrence never reassigned the textbook distribution or had a handle on any other function of the district, and so SASS had to assume almost all functions of the district including advising transportation. He came from two very small districts and had no clue what needed to be done.

  148. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Why do you think it took more than a year to develop the SASS job descriptions?

  149. Doctor J Says:

    The draft job descriptions were developed more than 17 months ago, and attached to the SIG applications. They don’t match with Lawrence’s description of SASS and so I think they were surpressed as they learned of all of the functions in the district that were not working beause of the Board’s slashing without thought of who was goind to take over that job. They had no problem in Nov 09 of giving the Gang of Five raises for “increased responsibilities” but had no clue as to who was going to do the work — increased responsibilities. Gary and Sherry have led the board with blindfolds on without knowing where they are going.

  150. Theresa Harrington Says:

    When SASS was created, I believe Trustee Linda Mayo asked for job descriptions.
    Also, when the board cut positions, then-Trustee Dick Allen stressed the importance of figuring out who would take on the work.

  151. g Says:

    Theresa; Teachers who come to Mount, and choose to stay, do it out of true dedication to their profession, and sheer determination to win for their students “despite” the district!

    “The question is: why didn’t that happen at MDHS”?

    Because, deny it as they might try, it has been obvious for years that anything north of Willow Pass Rd is considered “the wrong side of the tracks” in this district, and short of State/Fed mandated requirements, will get only minimal attention or assistance from this elitist board.

    Only Mount D. and Sun Terrace are left of the 6 schools we had on “that side” in 1985. Soon virtually every school north of WP will be Special, remedial, disciplinary, or basic vocational. Not a neighborhood school in sight.

  152. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: it is surprising that the district still offers parent-subsidized busing for students at Delta View Elementary who live about 1.5 miles away, but does not offer it to the former Holbrook elementary students who must now walk to Wren Avenue Elementary, as you described in another blog thread.
    Do you think MDUSD trustees should be elected based on their geographic regions, like Contra Costa County Board of Education trustees?

  153. g Says:

    Actually, Theresa this is two pronged.

    The Districts own written busing regulations, if followed, would provide proper minimal cost transportation for both Holbrook and Glenbrook to their ‘new’ schools. If a “rights” group like the ACLU were to get involved, the majority of the students would be transported for free.

    Developers (Seeno)in Pittsburg’s Bay Point area have been allowed to build what are essentially “stranded” enclaves, with little if any contribution to school (or public transportation) needs. To go to school, students (A.J.’s for instance) would have to climb mountains, forge streams, and dodge major, out of control traffic! Neither the City or District should have permitted it. If someone wanted to check old records, I think you would find that the 1950-60’s builders of Sun Terrace, Holbrook, Meadow Homes, Dana Estates areas, contributed very, very heavily to the building of the corresponding neighborhood schools.

    Now, a generation later, whether they take thought of it or not, the families of the entire District, from Clayton/Walnut Creek/Pleasant Hill/Concord, are paying the full financial burden of that inbred, incestuous Builder/Pittsburg/Bay Point relationship.

    The more of your tax dollars poured into building and expanding Pittsburg’s growth and Seeno’s pockets, the less there is for your town and your schools.

  154. g Says:

    So, Yes, a school board elected by something like zip code might cut down on their ability to pad certain committees and outcomes to benefit their own back yards.

  155. Anon Says:

    The County Board denied MDUSD trustee districts in 2003. Dan Borsuk who represented that area said: “Prior to the vote being taken, Mr. Borsuk stated that he wished to make a statement. He informed the Board and public that a number of months ago he had had an opportunity to attend one of the community meetings that the Mt. Diablo Unified School District had conducted in the Bay Point area. He stated that he was very impressed with the number of representatives from the Mt. Diablo Unified School District who had attended the meeting and with the amount of energy the district put into it. Additionally, he stated that there is no question in his mind that the Mt. Diablo Unified School District is putting the spotlight on Bay Point and that he could see no reason for changing how the school board members are elected because the district is making a valiant effort to meet the Bay Point community’s needs (e.g., maintaining schools well, putting plans in place for a new high school, etc.). He urged Bay Point to encourage more candidates to run for election from their community.”

    Fast forward 9 years and where are the Bay Point candidates?

  156. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, I have just posted an update regarding WCCUSD, which is seeking a waiver for Helms Middle School, which didn’t meet its noncore class size goal.

  157. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have just posted an update, which shows the 11 core classes originally listed as over 27 students by MDHS, compared to the six newly identified core courses over 27. According to Peggy Marshburn, the difference could be due to when the data was collected.

    Also, Marshburn told me in an email that the February notification that O’Brien told the board about “was from the CDE, Torlakson’s office referring to the notification from the CCCOE the previous October 27, 2010 that you have a copy of. We have to notify the CDE when a school does not meet its goals as well as the district superintendent. Then the CDE notifies the district of any action.”

    When O’Brien told the board that Jen Sachs and Denise Rugani “sprang into action” as soon as they got this notification, she failed to mention that they had known about this noncompliance since receiving the letter from the county the previous October.

  158. Doctor J Says:

    The Updated Timeline, #117, shows both the Oct 27, 2010 County letter and the Feb 16, 2011 CDE letter. Lets not forget that in between those letters, in early December the County began calling for a meeting with Rose Lock, Denise Rugani, Jen Sachs, Kate McClatchy and all the QEIA principals in MDUSD — that meeting occurred in Mid January 2011 and MDHS’s non-compliance was discussed. “Sprang into action” ??? Jen Sachs own words only reveals “discussions” not action: “The regular monitoring of the Mt. Diablo High School QEIA program did reveal challenges and these challenges were discussed.” NEVER WAS ANY CORRECTIVE ACTION TAKEN. There was plenty of time to “fix it” after the Oct 27 letter and before the start of the Second Semester in late Jan 2011.

  159. Doctor J Says:

    The O’Brien data “makeover” is simply comical. What LO didn’t count on was that the County had a copy of the whole data to back up the original count. Under the O’Brien Makeover, as Theresa points out 22 students in the last two months of school would have had to drop out of core classes. Simply amazing.

  160. Theresa Harrington Says:

    O’Brien told the board that Sachs and Rugani recalculated the class size reduction numbers. However, there was no mention of addressing the 11 core classes that were known to include more than 27 students as of April 15 — and were originally reported to have included more than 27 students at the end of the school year.

    It is unclear how O’Brien’s new calculations could have reduced the number of students in all those classes below 27. She told the board:

    “We felt that because we didn’t know how the original numbers were ran, that we needed to completely rerun the numbers…In talking with staff that ran the numbers last year, we came to understand that they misunderstood what courses were supposed to counted as core.”

    If she was able to talk to staff about their understanding of core classes, it’s unclear why she wasn’t also able to talk to them about how they ran the original numbers.

    O’Brien also told the board that county staff turned over, that there was little written QEIA guidance and that the district had been told in October that it couldn’t apply for a waiver. However, Marshburn, the QEIA technical advisors, CDE and CTA all have websites with comprehensive details about QEIA compliance. Also, Marshburn and the Northern California QEIA advisor told me that they don’t advise districts regarding waivers. The CDE QEIA staff person I spoke to said that it is well-known that all QEIA compliance items are waiverable. So far, no one at the district office has been able to tell me who specifically told them in October that they couldn’t apply for a waiver — when many other districts throughout the state began preparing QEIA waivers.

  161. g Says:

    Sudden 22 core class student difference? What are the chances the District is going to (again) be caught padding ADA?

  162. Theresa Harrington Says:

    One secretary said that the district may actually be losing out on ADA now that clerical staff has been cut, because many teachers don’t change absences to tardies when students are late.
    In the past, she said clerical staff corrected these errors. But now, they have less time to do that.
    She said she kept track of all the corrections she made in one year and they added up to more than $8,000. If these same errors are being made at each school in the district, a lot of money could be being lost, she said.
    Reinstating the hours of clerical staff could help catch these errors and recover money that would otherwise be lost, she said.

  163. g Says:

    Let’s see, I’ve already chosen accurate over honest, so would I rather; a) ignore the equivalent of one student a year/school with the “lost” ADA funds, or b) pay wages and benefits for more clerical staff at those same schools, or c) just take an easy-balance count and pad the attendance numbers enough to cover any possible clerical errors, and maybe boost the bottom line while I’m at it, and hope I’ve paid Christy White enough to make her blink? Hmmmmm.

  164. g Says:

    And by the way—did Christy White blink? she was paid for a completed audit a couple of months ago. Did I miss seeing that audit? How about the 2002 Measure C audit?

  165. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No word on the audit.

  166. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, I have just posted another update with more information from Peggy Marshburn. She said the county is unable to determine whether MDUSD included the QEIA funding for MDHS in its three-year first interim budget projections.

  167. Linda L Says:

    I would also like to see that audit. I am surprised it is not yet available.

  168. Wait a minute Says:

    So now (at least) Lori O’Brien is (somewhat) blaming CCCOE’s unclear guidance for the MDUSD’s QEIA mistakes?

    That’s good timing right before the CCCBOE votes on the CCVCHS petition!

  169. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s what she said: “It’s been a challenge because there’s been no nonregulatory guidance from the state. Counties used to have QEIA technical assistance staff, but that was eliminated at the end of the year last year. There are QEIA newsletters that go out, but there’s no listserve. There is a website, but it’s not readily broadcast, so you have to search a little bit. The Southern CA and Northern CA assistance centers have been wonderful, but they’re going away at the end of March.”

    It appears that she is saying district staff did not take the initiative to seek out guidance that was available. As I have pointed out, reps from the county, QEIA assistance centers and state all say there is ample information available, including webinars.

    Marshburn told me that when O’Brien asked if she could count TA classes, she was told that she could. Apparently, no one had ever asked that question before. In addition, no one seems to have asked if AP classes were considered “core” under QEIA.

  170. Doctor J Says:

    Even without Board Math: Way overdue audits on Measure C + Sneaking in Bond Repurchase report at Board Meeting + Putting above report on the Board Agenda the day after the meeting to give the appearance the attachment was on the agenda = Trouble with a capital T.

  171. Doctor J Says:

    Audio is posted under the agenda. Very timely.

  172. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, I hope the district posts audio this quickly every week!

  173. g Says:

    Yes, I also appreciate finally having clear audio—but the galloping keyboard drowning out the audience speaker could be “fixed” in the future if the transcriber will move the recording device away from the keyboard—please….

  174. Theresa Harrington Says:

    After initially appearing to hide the Measure C bond presentation under the Superintendent’s Report on the agenda, the district is now highlighting it on it’s home page:

    Regarding the audio, it sounds like the microphone is on at the secretary’s table. Perhaps she can turn it off in the future, after the roll call.

  175. Doctor J Says:

    But, the PP is still listed as an attachment to the Agenda item, giving the false impression that the Measure C presentation was properly noticed on the agenda so the public would be aware it was being disucssed 72 hours before the meeting. Its ok to attach it to the minutes, but not to the agenda.

  176. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The district routinely posts powerpoints after the meeting. However, usually they are attached to noticed agenda items.

  177. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, I have just posted a blog item about the CVHS charter appeal vote tomorrow:

  178. Doctor J Says:

    Why won’t Lorie O’Brien announce a “fix” to MDHS to be ‘in compliance’ by the start of the second semester with ALL QEIA requirements ? That at least would show some good faith. Otherwise, there are zero efforts being made to correct.

  179. Doctor J Says:

    At today’s SBE meeting, here is a common rationale used by SBE to DENY Class Size Reduction Waivers: “The California Department of Education recommends denial of this request based on three factors: (1) QEIA program requirements were known to the district prior to its decision to apply for program participation; (2) QEIA funding is expected to be used to hire teachers resulting in significantly reduced class sizes for students at QEIA schools; and (3) QEIA legislation requires an average classroom size of 25 students or lower for core subjects, with no more than 27 students per classroom regardless of the average classroom size.”
    I have yet to hear the District’s rationale as to why these QEIA principles don’t apply to Mount Diablo ?

  180. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The district isn’t saying those principles don’t apply to it. Instead, it is claiming ignorance based on staff turnover, poor training and an alleged lack of written guidance.

    It’s unclear whether the CDE or SBE would accept these arguments. Districts are supposed to train staff and to appoint people who are qualified to do their jobs. The written guidance was available, but district administrators apparently didn’t ask for it and were waiting for an invitation to apply for a waiver.

    Regarding a fix, the district admits it hasn’t been monitoring for compliance closely this year because it thought it was going to lose the funding anyway. The application appears to be asking the state not only to forgive the district’s past sloppiness, but continue allowing it through the end of the year.

  181. Doctor J Says:

    If Mount wants to stand a chance of the waiver being granted, it would go a long way to be in compliance for the second semester this school year in order to show its good faith. Afterall, it is still being paid to be in compliance ! What possible excuse can there be now to not be in compliance ? Adjust the schedule and if needs be, get more teachers.

  182. Anon Says:

    This is another MDUSD exercise in futility which is spelled CYA. The Times today reported that Las Lomas High in Walnut Creek is using a $200,000 technology grant to buy iPads for teaching “how to use new technology to find and analyze the material.” What a difference between the two grants and how they’re administered!

  183. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It’s true the district is still being paid to be in compliance and should be able to fix schedules to ensure compliance.
    However, it appears that O’Brien may not have even looked at this year’s data. Instead, she focused on what happened last year.
    Now that she knows the rules, she could look at this year’s schedule and make the necessary changes. But, administrators could claim that such mid-year changes would be too disruptive to students’ schedules and/or the academies.

  184. Doctor J Says:

    Lowering class sizes too disruptive ? Think what will happen next year with 22 less teachers and 3.5 less administrators — that will be disruptive ! I think its a fair question to Lawrence, Lock, McClatchy, O’Brien, and Reynolds — what steps are being taken to insure that Mount is QEIA compliant at the start of the second semester ?

  185. Theresa Harrington Says:

    O’Brien did mention that there would be more monitoring meetings, so perhaps steps will be taken.

  186. Wait a minute Says:

    Maybe they should hire another consultant to do their jobs for them like when Stevie Lawrence hired his mommy on a fat consulting contract like he did in West Sac?

  187. Doctor J Says:

    Was that “our” Sue Berg that got kudos from Supt. Torlakson in this mornings SBE meeting ?

  188. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I didn’t see that. The SBE is on a break until 11 a.m., when they will take up item 2:
    SIG grant approval is expected later.
    The board just unanimously approved the Rocketship charter application in San Francisco, but noted that the process for reviewing financial plans needs to be improved.

  189. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#188; Interestingly there was a huge conflict of opinion between the CDE Staff [opposing the Charter] and the Advisory Commission on Charter Schools [a CDE Commission] [supporting the charter]. CDE staff took a rigid opinion that additional information to clarify statements in the nearly 400 page Rocketship petition were “material revisions” whereas the ACCS said they were just clarifications. The Board voted unanimously to approve the charter with the clarifications as conditions of approval. Clearly the SBE is in favor of approving charters with sound educational programs and sound financial backing — and mostly saw the additional information as “clarification” rather than “material revisions”. Same issue they tackled two months ago with the Synergy Charter from Pittsburg. Rocketship has some impressive results from San Francisco to Santa Clara.

  190. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, I wonder if Rocketship will set its sights on the East Bay next….

  191. Doctor J Says:

    Yesterday, the State BOE showed zero tolerance for waivers in QEIA based on ignorance, staff turnover, or other non-emergency issues. Interestingly the CTA took a strong position against QEIA waivers not based on emergency situations. The McClatchy/O’Brien waiver seems doomed before it even gets sent to CDE.

  192. Doctor J Says:

    Claycord has posted pics of the meeting and victory party at Morisey’s. Nice. Although on a personal level, I thought it was such a Grand Slam, that the Mudville Grill might have been more appropriate ! :-)

  193. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Although I wasn’t able to watch the SBE meeting discussion of waivers, I would guess that CTA took a strong stand because the money was supposed to be spent meeting the requirements. Instead, MDHS apparently had a large amount of its grant unspent at the end of the school year — money that could have been spent hiring more teachers to comply with the grant. It remains unclear why school and district staff — who knew their class sizes were not compliant — failed to spend the money they had to hire more teachers.

    WCCUSD on the other hand, plans to file a waiver stating that it didn’t have enough money to meet all the requirements, so it was noncompliant in noncore class size reduction, which it appears to believe is less important than core class size, teacher experience, Williams compliance and meeting the counselor ratio. It will be interesting to see if the CDE approves their waiver. They are not pleading ignorance, staff turnover or lack of training.

  194. Doctor J Says:

    @Th#193 Giving it the old college try, and not making it due to underestimation, is way different that MDUSD’s failure to take corrective action with lots of money available. Lawrence, Lock, Rugani, Sachs, McClatchy all had knowledge and failed to take any corrective action. Please show me one iota of corrective action they took since Oct 27, 2010.

  195. Theresa Harrington Says:

    As O’Brien noted, Sachs and Rugani “sprang into action” when they got the letter from the CDE in February (confirming the COE letter from October 2010). Apparently, they made some sort of correction to the Class Size Reduction calculations for 2009-10.

    However, they and McClatchy do not appear to have addressed the school’s continued failure to comply in 2010-11. So, the action taken was not sufficient to remedy the problem.

  196. Theresa Harrington Says:

    On a completely separate note, the County BOE also reviewed its 2010-11 Single Audit Annual Financial Report for the County School Service Fund on Wednesday.
    It was prepared by the Christy White Accountancy firm (which is the same firm MDUSD hired). Perhaps this means MDUSD’s audit will be available soon.

  197. g Says:

    My (borrowed) thoughts about the Gang at Dent:

    “An important job had to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.”

  198. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Perhaps if the SASS job descriptions were approved by the board at the time the positions were created, everybody would have known what somebody was supposed to do and nobody would be to blame for anybody else’s failure to do their jobs.

  199. Doctor J Says:

    Its about time we as taxpayer just called Christy White directly and asked when our audit reports that we paid for months ago were delivered to MDUSD. I will be surprised at the answer. (619) 270-8222

  200. Doctor J Says:

    The audit reports were signed for on Dec 22, 2011 and shipped to Bryan Richards.

  201. Doctor J Says:

    SBE denies QEIA waivers based on ignorance and incompetence. MDHS waiver application basis is not much different except for portion of QEIA not met. Vallejo attempted corrective action, and Mount did not.

  202. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The board may hire another Student Services Coordinator Monday to comply with the grant:

    In addition, it will discuss the vote of No Confidence:

    It will also consider revising its policy for involuntary transfer to Olympic Continuation HS:

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