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Should Mt. Diablo school district appeal $1,085 small claims judgment?

By Theresa Harrington
Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 at 1:10 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

After A.J. Fardella learned that the Mt. Diablo school district planned to appeal a small claims judgment for $1,085 based on a lawsuit alleging the district was negligent when a substitute bus driver dropped off his daughter at the wrong spot, Fardella sent the following email to the school board:

“Sent: Sat 12/31/2011 10:09 AM

Subject: Message to MDUSD School Board Regarding School Bussing Nuisance/Negligence Case

Esteemed Board Members,

I was appalled to see that the Mount Diablo School District has decided to appeal a judgment of $1,085, which was compensation for the Transportation Department’s losing my five year old daughter on October 5th of 2010. The District has decided to fight this battle using a partner of outside counsel, Crosby and Rowell, the firm is notably a contributor to the Measure C campaign. Strangely, this case never appeared on the District’s meeting agendas for closed session, as all pending litigation is required to be. Is this then a unilateral action on the part of General Counsel Rolen?

In order to conduct this appeal, the District will be paying legal fees that far exceed the negligible judgment amount. As this is a trial de novo, the District will be using school district resources and witnesses, as they already did in the last TWO hearings on this matter. The District’s General Counsel, Greg Rolen, was ALREADY in court on two days in excess of five hours. Isn’t he the District employee who is supposed to be running your transportation department, which is the essence of this suit? As court records submitted by Rolen on behalf of the District, point out Rolen himself conducted the investigation of the incident in question. This is an obvious conflict of interest, and against Administrative procedure concerning IG type investigations. Further, why was he in small claims court in the first place? The judge admonished him for appearing, reminding him of the clear case law prohibiting attorneys to appear on behalf of clients in small claims.

District General Counsel Greg Rolen, after testimony of our witnesses, admitted negligence on the record. Consequently, this appeal was only brought to harass our family, which we have every intention of proving in court. What makes this especially poignant is that the appeal was filed just three days before Christmas and in retaliation for our contacting the school board and the press on December 21st with regard to this matter.

Is this how the District and its General Counsel spend our money? I don’t think the Mount Diablo voters will respond well to (1) this lack of accountability in a potential Jaycee Dugard scenario and (2) waste in an era when our children don’t have enough desks or school supplies!


A. J. Fardella”

According to the board-approved contract with Crosby and Rowell, partners are paid $185 per hour.

Do you believe the district is spending its time and money wisely fighting this judgment?

JAN. 4 11:10 p.m. UPDATE: We have added video of Della Rocca to our online story:

Also, I spoke to Board President Sherry Whitmarsh and Trustee Lynne Dennler about this issue after tonight’s Parent Advisory Council meeting (no parents asked about it).

Dennler said she didn’t know about the lawsuit or the appeal before receiving Fardella and Della Rocca’s emails and reading about it in the newspaper, but she said she intends to ask district staff about it.

Whitmarsh said she agreed with Rolen’s decision to appeal. She pointed out that the law firm has agreed to cap its costs at $1,000 to “look at” the issue.

“It is a regrettable situation that a general education student was left off a few houses from where she lives,” Whitmarsh said.

Whitmarsh said she has asked Rolen to look at what could be done to improve the busing system. However, with the state transportation cuts, she predicted the district will transport fewer non-special education students in the future.

JAN. 5 UPDATE: After learning that the law firm of Crosby and Rowell had agreed to a $1,000 cap on its fees, I sent a Public Records Act request to Rolen, asking for a copy of the engagement letter and contract related to this case, since the district’s standing contract does not specify any caps.

Rolen responded that there is no separate engagement letter or contract and that the firm has agreed to bill the district at $185 per hour up to $1,000.

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137 Responses to “Should Mt. Diablo school district appeal $1,085 small claims judgment?”

  1. 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 ???

  2. Doctor J Says:

    The Fardella family can also have a lawyer now. Lets hope they get the ACLU and they subpoena all emails about the transportation problems, subpoena all elementary principals, all elementary office managers, every person that attended the weekly transportation problem meetings, and that would include Rose Lock and SASS personnel. And someone needs to read Rolen’s divorce file at the courthourse. Is this retribution on A. J. Fardella because he blew the whistle on Measure C and so the district is taking it out on his daughter ?? Shameful.

  3. Anon Says:

    the article was right-this is misuse of public funds . . .

  4. A. J. Fardella Says:

    Thanks Doctor J,

    I couldn’t agree more with all of your comments. Greg Rolen is in charge of transportation and yet has never driven a bus nor does he hold a class B license. It is against public policy for him to have conducted an investigation into the incident concerning a department he is the head of.
    Rolen and the District’s Law Firm doesn’t stand a chance of winning this appeal. Actually since it will be a “trial de novo” ‘new trial’ there has also been more damages since the last trial, so the judgement is likely to be increased by the court.
    Add to all this the fact that Rolen admitted liability on the record, his skills as an attorney, as manager of Transportation etc., hardly warrant the $27,000 raise or even a salary of $27.000 while teachers pay is cut and the number of school days in the year dwindle in the face of District cuts.

    He cited “budget cuts” on the record as justification for his violation of California small claims court law (i.e. appearing as counsel) and yet he receives a raise of this magnitude? Talk about a conflict of interest! This guy is putting on different “hats” to conduct investigations, give himself raises and swindle the school district and his ONLY oversight is the school board? Well, there IS the California State Bar…

  5. Theresa Harrington Says:

    A.J.: Do you think the district might be concerned that this case could set a precedent that might encourage other parents to file similar lawsuits regarding their children being dropped off at wrong locations or left without transportation?

  6. Doctor J Says:

    A.J. now that it is a “new trial” don’t settle for less than $7500 — and don’t make it confidential. Hold a press conference when you get the check ! The PAC tonight should give Lawrence an earful about how he wastes money — your case is a perfect example. Lawrence should have sent Jeff McDaniel over to handle the small claims case and then had Rolen write a personal check to pay it off. And think of the hundreds of thousands of dollars Lawrence spent fighting the CVCHS Charter !! Add up all of the outside lawyers, staff time, etc. And it will all come crashing down one week from tonight ! The IRONY is that while Lawrence, Rolen and Eberhart [aka the Three Stooges] were beating on their chests and yelling Tarzan chants against CVCHS and covering up the bus problems, the QEIA grant at MDHS was in non-compliance and there was NO CORRECTIVE ACTION for over a year , resulting now in Rose Lock admitting in the waiver the loss will be $5.4 MILLION DOLLARS ! And the Three Stooges think they are doing a great job. It wouldn’t surprise me that you could look up “narcisist” in the dictionary and find pictures of Eberhart, Lawrence and Rolen. GRAND JURY where are you ?

  7. Realia Says:

    Theresa, I believe you and others have exposed what may be massive liability for the district and the district’s attempt to stem it. Imagine what would happen if every parent of a Spec. Ed. child, whose mandated transportation to and from school was mishandled, filed a Small Claims suit. Mr. Rolen, Esq., would be very busy indeed as he represented the district at endless trials. Obviously, the district wants to avoid this and so it is putting the screws to the first parents with enough courage and wherewithal to seek damages for the district losing their child. Perhaps if the award is upheld upon appeal the district will learn its lesson – or, more likely, not.

  8. Wait a minute Says:

    I would think that some hot-shot litigator/attorney out there would try and get multiple victims together and attempt a class-action lawsuit?

    I certainly hope that the victim families and any MDUSD staff with knowledge of these many incidents would file a request for investigation with the CCC Grand Jury, here is the form to do this:

  9. Doctor J Says:

    @Realia, spot on, but not just the monetary liability. Think if every case [potentially hundreds] subpoened Asst Supt Mildred Brown, the school principal, the school office manager, the Special Ed Aides, the transportation supervisor and scheduler, and the bus driver, all as witnesses. Well, there would be one good result — we would know where Mildred was during the day — at court.

  10. vindex Says:

    I’m appalled that Greg Rolen is still employed by the MDUSD. His conduct on MANY matters have shown his complete incompetence. This story continues to point out that Greg Rolen is a vindicative man who should be removed from employment in the MDUSD. The Board and Sup’t. should be ashamed of themselves for keeping Mr. Rolen employed.

  11. The Observer Says:

    This decision could bring a long line of parents to small claims court with individual suits against the district. At $7500 per claim the district’s incompetence could become very expensive very quickly. The district is now trying to minimize the damage, and given its track record, it’s only going to get worse.

  12. Wait a minute Says:

    Bar complaints against Rolen on his many conflicts of interest and his unethical legal/supervisory behaviors is also called for here.

  13. A. J. Fardella Says:

    To Doctor J and others,

    I definitely think if I were in their desperate shoes (Rolen,Lawrence & Eberhardt), I would try to use the excuse of ‘not setting a precedent’ to justify what is obviously a personal vendetta against me, using my daughter as their target.

    The District has not learned it’s lesson. There is in MDUSD litigation history a case where a teacher was awarded 3 million in damages by a jury in an injury case. The District appealed and got a second trial. MDUSD as a result of the second trial the appeal won them got a 10 million dollar jury award against them in favor of the teacher. Add to that the 185.00/hr x hundreds of hours legal bill the District payed to try those two cases

    I definitely think both Rolen and Lawrence should be fired for just cause, with far too many examples of their ineptitude as Public Administrators to justify that termination. As for Eberhardt, as my Sicilian Grandfather Vince Fardella used to say “the lousy bum” should be handed his hat at the next election.

  14. Jim Says:

    The district may be trying to head off litigation from others by being hard-nosed with this case. Or there may be other factors at play. Has the Crosby & Rowell law firm supported any board campaigns (board member, Measure C, etc.) in the past? One can’t expect continued electoral support from that firm if MDUSD doesn’t steer a little business their way, can one? With this board, it is wise to follow the money. And if this case leads to a flood of cases from other plaintiffs? Maybe that is not such a bad outcome for the decision-makers involved. Certainly not for Crosby & Rowell.

  15. A. J. Fardella Says:

    The Measure C Campaign proved one thing to me in a political sense, a vary valuable lesson really. If you have the money for big mailers you can mislead the electorate into getting into a Montel Willaims style loan where we pay 1.8 billion for 350 million in Bond proceeds.
    And since the SEC has only “studied” making it illegal for a bond underwriting company to make political contributions to a Bond measure they will underwrite….the Bond company made sure these mailers went out inside of 10 days of the election.
    This craziness is going along with a just as crazy list of how these Bond proceeds were to be spent. No public input there…
    This was Lawrence first big act as new Superintendent with direct instructions from members of the Board.

  16. A. J. Fardella Says:

    The precedent argument actually holds no water whatsoever from a legal standpoint.

    Rolen admitted MDUSD was negligent on the record. No trial de novo which results from an appeal will take that away.

    Anyone can (and I welcome them to) request a transcript of the trial record which is an audio CD of the case #PSc 11-0754 from the CCC clerk near them. The cost is $25.00.

  17. Doctor J Says:

    Without minimizing the safety issues, thousands of instructional minutes are being lost by children who can least afford it because buses arrive habitually late, sometimes as long as 30-60 minutes. These include children who are supposed to be fed breakfast BEFORE school. Parents would never have a clue about when their children arrive at school.

  18. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Crosby and Rowell contributed $200 to the Measure C campaign:

    But, as Fardella points out, the bond underwriters made much more substantial contributions, along with the bond counsel.

  19. Jim Says:

    Payola from vendors and contractors used to be called “kickbacks”, but now we’re all a little too genteel for that term. These days, the “enforcers” sport suits rather than brass knuckles, and besides, the dough doesn’t go directly into the politician’s pockets. It just keeps them in office. All the difference in the world.

    If a few of our vaunted “education reformers” really wanted to have an impact, they would try to clean up school board elections. Unfortunately, many of those reformers are also “consultants” for — surprise! — our school district monopolies.

  20. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Speaking of this issue, the Measure C BOC still has not been given a detailed accounting of the “soft costs” paid to underwriters, the financial advisor and bond counsel.

  21. g Says:

    Let’s not forget that when Rolen was hired away from his previous Law Firm, he is the one who received and “filed away” their unsigned legal contracts, and allowed the District to continue to pay them inflated contract rates for YEARS—without a contract. Oops, someone just ASSUMED that they had an open ended contract. How much did that cost the District, who had, in the meantime, hired another firm?

    It has become more obvious, month after month, that NO ONE actually does a line-item audit of the Warrant Reports before they are signed off and a rubber stamp vote taken to accept them.

  22. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I believe there was also an issue raised regarding Rolen’s possible conflict of interest in approving payments related to work involving his then-wife at one law firm.

  23. g Says:

    AJ: Did you feel that the 2002 C funds were properly spent and thoroughly accounted for? Did you feel that the Committee ran the committee or did Pedersen run that committee just as he is the 2010 oversight?

  24. A. J. Fardella Says:

    It is appalling that MDUSD Is being run by these so called public servants, whom are so comfortable in their chairs, that they make dictatorial detrimental decisions, as if royalty. Even when the day comes when these piriah are gone, remediating all the damage is formidable.
    The word I am not afraid to use is cronyism. Some of this may even qualify under Rico laws which means a Federal Case can be made. Our District is faced with enough financial problems to have to endure this.
    Our kids end up their prey. That is why it must end.

  25. A. J. Fardella Says:

    Dear G-

    I was oversight committee chair during 3 years of that Bond oversight. THAT measure C had a great Bond finance structure. THAT measure C had a list of projects that were a product of over a year of Community Outreach conducted by Dick Nicoll and staff.
    As far as accounted for expenditures, we were told by District Staff that a certain type of audit which only sampled a few items per hundred was sufficient for the State requirements for our Bond. It has been pointed out by current Measure C BOC member Alicia Minyen that this auditing procedure does not meet requirements.

    Dick Nicoll then Assistant Superintendent was supervising the oversight committee for MDUSD. Pete Pedersen was acting as a Bond project oversight point-man as maintenance dept. supervisor at the time of my Measure C oversight. I felt he did a good job. His current role in the BOC I am not familiar with except that he took the time to fire me from the BOC formally after I spoke in support of Alicia. Which was funny because I’d already resigned. But Pete is put in the middle with his job held over his head, so he does what he’s directed to do, no matter how idiotic. I like Pete, I feel he’s hog-tied by Lawrence and the Board.

    I believe it (original Measure C Bond money was properly spent except for air conditioning which adds huge operational costs to MDUSD expenditures. Which wont even be offset by the so-called benefits of the solar-power projects KW/hr benefit.

  26. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Della Rocca has called to say that TV news vans from KPIX and KTVU are following up on my story today. I wonder if they’ll get anyone from the district to comment.

  27. g Says:

    I wonder if they’ll get anyone from the District to give an Honest comment.

  28. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It’s possible they will say they don’t want to comment on “pending litigation,” as Eberhart said. However, the public has a right to demand accountability for the decision to appeal.

  29. g Says:

    The public has a right to have “pending litigation” properly noticed on the closed agenda, and then reported out with specifics too, but that has never swayed MDUSD behavior.

    CDE has posted their agenda for 1/11-12. They notice their Closed Agenda Items properly.

  30. Disillusioned Says:

    @ Theresa: how do i get in touch with you outside of this blog?

  31. Theresa Harrington Says:

    D: You can call me at 945-4764 or email me at

  32. g Says:

    So, Greg Rolen gave a walking interview with Ann Notarangelo and said they did not admit guilt, and they did not “fix” the busing system, they just “improved” it. And he kept a straight face the whole time….

  33. Doctor J Says:

    Rolen called it a “nuisance claim”. Dropping off a 5 year old child alone at the wrong stop with no adult present a nuisance claim ? I hope AJ plays this tape for the Judge on the new trial. Rolen is such a hypocrite when his own children get cadillac transportation at taxpayer expense. Reverse the roles Greg, would it be a nuisance claim if your child was dropped off at the wrong stop without an adult present ? The only nuisance is Greg Rolen himself. When the district gets tagged for $7500 I hope the Board makes you pay it out of your Gang of Five raise.

  34. Doctor J Says:

  35. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I attended the Nov. 15 court hearing. During the hearing, Angie Goakey said the sub bus driver asked Isabelle if it was her stop.

    The judge said to Goakey: “This is something you were told?”

    Rolen responded: “Yes.”

    The judge said: “I’m sorry. I thought I was asking her.”

    The substitute bus driver told the judge that she dropped Isabelle off, despite the fact that no adult met her.

    “There was no one for Isabelle,” she said. “I crossed her over and watched her go down the street.”

    The driver said she later heard that Isabelle had been lost, so she drove back to try to find her. Then, she learned that Isabelle had been found.

    Rolen told the judge: “I oversaw transportation in a very tangential way.”

    Rolen stressed that no physical harm came to Isabelle. He also stated that he initially denied the Fardella’s tort claim to the district, since there were no damages.

    As A.J. Fardella has pointed out in his comments, however, the family can now prove damages because Isabelle has begun seeing a therapist.

    The daycare provider described waiting for Isabelle to arrive, but said the bus never came.

    “Nobody contests that she was dropped off at the wrong place,” the judge said.

    At the end of the hearing, the judge did not render his decision. Instead, he said he would send it in the mail.

    “It’s a bit complex,” he said.

    The suit alleges a public nuisance, but also contends the district was guilty of “gross negligence.” The judge said gross negligence can qualify, but malicious or intentional conduct may also be required.

    The district clearly admitted that it was guilty of dropping Isabelle off at the wrong stop. It was up to the judge to decide if that action constituted gross negligence. The judge decided it did.

  36. g Says:

    Greg “Trangential” Rolen. It fits–I like it.

  37. g Says:

    oops, Tangential 😉

  38. Wait a Minute Says:

    Rolen said that he …oversaw transportation in a very tangential way.”?

    So I guess when it comes to accountability he is …”only tangentially…” responsible but I’m sure he takes seriously the $27,000 dollar raise he was gifted for this supposedly very limited role?

    Not to mention the hypocrisy of the “Cadillac” treatment Rolen’s own kids get from transportation that Dr. J mentioned while hundreds of other special ed kids get bad transportation service under your watch.

    Mr. Rolen—you are a living example of the stereotype of the unethical lawyer. Lets hope he is eventually disbarred from the legal profession.

  39. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have added an update to this blog post with a link to video of Della Rocca and comments from Board President Sherry Whitmarsh and Trustee Lynne Dennler.

  40. Disillusioned Says:

    IT’S TIME. CONTACT THERESA HARRINGTON DIRECTLY as Dr. J suggested in the very first entry on this blog. Dr. J’s suggestion is spot on: Freedom of the Press. MDUSD is worth fighting for; we are home owners and the underhanded secrecy, cronyism, and the current tyranny made up of Greg Rolen, the Supt., and certain Board Members must stop. Dr. J is correct in stating that principals and schools are afraid to speak up because I spoke with my child’s teacher, yesterday. So it’s up to us who are stay-at-home mom’s to call Theresa with our concerns and frustration. Tyranny is a perfect description of how things are currently handled at the district level; but there are more of us than there are of them and standing up for MDUSD by contacting Theresa is the right thing to do for our children and our community. Tell her: how’s bussing working for you this year, how’s the secrecy of the Measure C spending working for you, what’s your opinion on Mt. Diablo High losing over a million dollars because nothing was done by the principal and her direct supervisor (Lawrence)…remember: even if Mt. Diablo High is not your neighborhood school, every school affects every home owner in this district-not to mention that it’s the right thing to do to stand up for the students at the school who were cheated out of academic support.

  41. Anon Says:

    go on monday and speak to the board . . .

    question whitmarsh saying law firm agreed to $1000 cap? are they appealing to superior court or not? to file documents in superior court and make even one court appearance will cost many thousands . . . the law firm should have a written fee agreement can theresa request a copy? . . .

  42. Anon Says:

    So how did Whitmarsh know about it but Denler did not?
    Is this just 2 Board members running the show with Lawrence and Rolen? I would think that all Board members whould have known. This is just terrible. who gives a rats but if it was a general ed student or special ed student. The student was left at a place that she was not supposed to be. To take the stance that this was no big deal is so wrong.

  43. A. J. Fardella Says:

    Last night on KPIX I heard Greg Rollen tell the TV cameras that the District did nothing wrong. How is Rollen going to rectify that with testimony he gave under oath on the record that “yes your honor the District was negligent” then after the judge asked him “are you sure you want to say that”? Rollen confirms it again.
    I guess it really shouldn’t surprise me, considering Greg Rolen’s complete lack of integrity so far.
    Both statements are recorded. This is the worst kind of malice. There is no escape or denying either statement. Proof positive that Greg is a liar when the camera is on, but at least under oath he didn’t lie.
    Again, unbelievable!

  44. A. J. Fardella Says:

    That’s exactly what I want to see, the fee agreement.

  45. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I will request it.
    The standing board-approved agreement with Crosby and Rowell is $185 per hour:

    It was a bit unclear to me whether Whitmarsh knew before Dennler about the case. It’s possible she was merely agreeing with Rolen’s decision to appeal after the fact. However, it did not appear that Dennler was aware of the legal agreement to cap the fee.

  46. A. J. Fardella Says:

    notice the so called agreement is “to look at” the case. No lawyer is going to waive fees to go to trial. It’s a lie cloaked in deciept, like the rest of Rolen’s antics. 5-6 hours at 185 is about 1,000 anyway.

    I still am reeling from his on-camera statements and the court record I just listened to.

    I am putting together a package to send to the Board so each one of them is aware of what their General Counsel said under oath, and on the court record.

    This charlatan needs to be handed his walking papers.
    And I intend on adding this to a large package I am preparing for the California State Bar. It’s called ethics Greg! The Bar has standards.

  47. g Says:

    How is it that Dennler didn’t know about the initial lawsuit. Did they not bring the Pending Litigation to a Closed Session? Was she absent? Or do they not bring any Small Claims actions to the Board for Closed Session?

  48. Wait a minute Says:

    So, Crosby and Rowell are an Oakland firm, isn’t that where Deb Cooksey came from?

    Gee i wonder what that connection is?

  49. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dennler said it could have been discussed at a meeting she missed. She has been absent from at least one board meeting due to travel, I believe.

    Previously, Trustee Gary Eberhart said Rolen and Lawrence generally have the authority to handle lawsuits involving amounts less than $25,000 without bringing them to the board. He declined to state whether this particular lawsuit fell into that category, however, saying he didn’t want to comment on pending litigation. He did state: “The board is aware of it,” but didn’t say how they knew about it.

  50. g Says:

    They did vote to allow Lawrence to sign contracts of less than $25,000.00. And it seems he has really taken advantage of that this past year or so, as there is a ton of money going out monthly to individual names with very generic Central Services coding that the public can only guess at who/what they are for.

    Bury the ‘perceived’ small Legal Cases? I don’t think I’ve seen that one being voted on. If it’s anything other than Small Claims, ($7,500) how would they even guess actual monetary outcomes or which cases to bury?

  51. A. J. Fardella Says:

    Let’s be fair.
    The rules state that Eberhardt, Lawrence and Rollenn can make these decisions at the dollar level of this case without approval or notification to the rest of the Board. I believe that’s exactly what happened.
    Then let them be held responsible for it.
    Let’s be fair.

  52. Anon Says:

    KTVU . . . Rolen claims child was dropped off close to a residence in the company of other children and other adults . . . really?

  53. Theresa Harrington Says:

    According to the district’s legal response to the lawsuit, Isabelle was dropped off “with other district students who had parents/guardians waiting.”

    “Her stop was just down the road, approximately 100 (sic) down Fieldgate Drive,” the district’s response states. “Isabella (sic) was not met by her day care provider. Instead, according to parents’ claims, Isabelle was left unattended in her neighborhood for 45 minutes until she was found with an ‘elderly woman’ by her mother and one of her day care providers.”

    Della Rocca told me that Isabelle may have initially thought she recognized the neighborhood (she lives in a tract sort of development where many homes look similar). However, after she got off the bus, she realized she was not near her home and she did not know where her house was. Although she may have been dropped off with other children and adults, no one was there to meet her or to help her find her way home.

    The bus driver told the judge that she watched Isabelle walk down the street by herself and later learned the girl was lost.

    Rolen says on the newscast that the district did nothing wrong. Yet, he told the judge the district had changed its policy as a result of this incident. The judge described this is “subsequent repairs.”Is it necessary to make subsequent repairs if you have done nothing wrong?

  54. Wait a minute Says:

    With Rolen so apt to put his foot in his mouth I don’t see why some hot shot private attorney/litigator doesn’t try and get several victims together and try and certify a class-action lawsuit.

  55. School Teacher Says:

    I like how Whitmarsh was sure to mention in her comment that it was a “general education” student that was left unattended. I guess that makes it not so bad. And, was the student really left “just a few houses from where she lives?”

  56. Doctor J Says:

    When the school board gets an earful about not paying a paltry $1,085 judgment that potentially could escalate to $7,500 plus a $1,000 for a frivilous appeal, they will probably decide to try and settle for the original judgment. I hope that both AJ and Lisa have the courage to tell the Board: “That train already left the station.” The irony of Rolen appealling is that the Fardellas could not appeal, but now that Rolen filed the appeal, the can of worms is open. I hope those Board members who disagree with Rolen’s abhorent behavior in this case will state that publicly at the Board Meeting on Monday. NO MORE SILENCE FOR WRONGFUL BEHAVIOR !

  57. School Teacher Says:

    Maybe she should have been sure to add it was a “5 year old general education student”. That really will make it OK.

  58. Theresa Harrington Says:

    School teacher: The district claims that Isabelle was left “about 100 feet from her normal bus stop location.”

    However, the day care provider who was waiting for her told the judge that she never saw the bus or Isabelle while she waited at her stop.

    The district’s response includes a drawing marked “Exhibit B,” which shows an intersection of two unlabeled streets, with a dotted arrow going around the corner. It is unclear from this hand-drawn diagram how far away Isabelle was dropped from her original stop or from her house, since her house is not labeled and the stop is not labeled.

    Dr. J: It’s unclear if the board will get an earful. No one at the PAC questioned the superintendent about this incident.

  59. g Says:

    So ‘Tangient’ Rolen is actually saying that since she was dropped off near ‘a’ residence, and there were some people around that everything was just fine!

    Which residence Greg? Who were the people that were ‘around’? There are 30 people in Bay Point alone on the Megan’s list. Are there any living close to ‘a’ residence?

  60. Doctor J Says:

    If anyone else other than a school bus driver dropped off a 5 year old unattended in a strange neighborhood, they would be arrested for Child Endangerment. Why isn’t CPS or the police investigating this ? I agree with Lisa, this little girl could very well have become the next Jaycee Dugard. Thank God and Heaven she didn’t.

  61. vindex Says:

    BTW Theresa.. Fine reporting. You do the 1st amendment proud.

  62. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Thank you. I have just sent Rolen a PRA asking for the district’s engagement letter and contract with Crosby and Rowell.

  63. School Teacher Says:

    I’m going to split hairs again with wording. One version is “a few houses from where she lives”, the other is “100 feet from her normal bus stop.” Does it look like both can be right? On the surface they don’t seem to be super compatible, I’m not implying necessarily that they can’t be. Maybe at some point in time Mr. Rolen can have one of his kids dropped off in a similar fashion and see how he would respond to that.

  64. g Says:

    It wasn’t even stated as 100ft. It may have been 100 yards. In a Seeno neighborhood, where all the houses look very alike, either one is very far away when you’re only about forty inches tall.

  65. Theresa Harrington Says:

    According to the legal declaration by Angie Goakey: “Her stop was located just down the road, approximately two houses away.”
    The declaration refers to “Exhibit B,” which does not include street names or a label showing Isabelle’s regular stop. The hand-drawn diagram shows a dotted line going across the street and around the corner, with houses drawn in as boxes along the street. The arrow does not point to a specific house.

  66. g Says:

    Went back through some files looking for a laugh. Unfortunately, when this picture was taken, AJ didn’t know who he was dealing with in the new Superintendent, or what was really on their minds for Measure C.

  67. Doctor J Says:

    G new caption: “AJ Accepts $7500 Settlement for Bus SNAFU” And I use the last word in its true WWII interpretation. :-) Nice pic.

  68. Theresa Harrington Says:

    That is not A.J., that is former MDEA President Mike Noce.

    FYI, I have just posted an update related to the $1,000 cap. Rolen says there is no engagement letter or contract related to this case. However, he reiterated that the Crosby and Rowell has agreed to a $1,000 cap.

  69. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In San Francisco today, an 8-year-old boy was dropped off at the wrong location by a school bus:

  70. g Says:

    My apologies to all—I thought that was A.J. in the picture, but just carrying a few extra pounds. I’m embarrassed! Can someone please photoshop-fix it for me?

  71. Theresa Harrington Says:

    This proposal by Trustee Cheryl Hansen would allow the public to give input into the superintendent’s evaluations:

  72. g Says:

    Poor Cheryl. Bringing this up right after Sherry suggests cutting Board meetings to once a month! The audience may make a whoop, but except for the sound of deep sighs and rolling eyes, I imagine you’ll be able to hear a pin drop on the dais.

  73. Wait a Minute Says:

    Great idea actually.

    This proposal if carried out would be an excellent systematic way of ensuring that our elected leaders did more then just pay lip service to the broader people whom they are supposed to serve and not just be beholden to boards who may not have the public good in mind.

    I think this should be required by law for all elected and reviewed by boards public leaders.

    I predict this will fail on a 3 to 2 vote. You can guess who will be part of the 3.

  74. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#68 A little photoshop and it will be AJ ! Certainly could end up being the next parody of MDUSD !

  75. Flippin' Tired Says:

    Board meetings once a month? Does that mean we get to cut their benefits and compensation in half as well?

  76. Realia Says:

    Silly Flippin’. Only the little people get their benefits and compensation cut.

  77. Curious Says:

    I am confused as to why kids are still being bused? I thought that was done away with, except for NCLB. And even in that case, i thought it was school to school transport.

  78. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Apparently, some students are still bused to and from Delta View Elementary because it is so far from their homes (but they have to help pay the costs).
    As Whitmarsh said, this service may end as transportation funding is cut more by the state. In most parts of the district, parent-supported busing has already been eliminated due to budget cuts.

  79. Alicia M. Says:

    A.J. – Thank you so much for speaking in support of me at the 2010 Measure C special meeting. It meant a lot to me, and I apologize for any resulting backlash.

    On a separate note, thank God your baby girl was safe. The judge was correct in awarding your family compensation, although I think it should have been for more. The district’s appeal appears to be a “slap suit”. It’s another example of why they shouldn’t have control of public funds.

  80. A. J. Fardella Says:

    From my investigation looking purely at the evidence;

    The bus never traveled down Fieldgate that day, there were 3 people with a constant eye on the street or at the bus stop that day. A school bus was never seen.

    When the Spanish speaking woman who Thank God, brought our daughter home that day rounded the corner it was the Northern corner of Havenwood. Everyone concerned was mobilized in the middle of the street at this point ready for police to arrive and start a search for Isabelle (I was still enroute). So several witnesses saw Isabelle and this woman round that corner.

    The other factor in the evidence we do know is the time-line. 45 minutes. That’s how long my daughter was missing, no-where near her stop or the entire street of Fieldgate. So how far can a 5 year old walk in 45 minutes, 3.1 MPH average human walking speed, which I will cut to 1 MPH here considering her 5 year old legs, so Isabelle could, at minimum, have been up to 3/4 of a mile away from the bus-stop.

    I believe Isabelle was dropped off on OakPoint Drive or Brooktrail, above Fieldgate, or further out in that direction. Over 1/4 mile from our house. This allows time for her to encounter the good Samaritans and walk home.

    Simple deduction. Regardless of the bus drivers testimony the evidence is irrefutable.

  81. A. J. Fardella Says:


    Thanks for your kind words.

    Remember how I closed my remarks that evening, anyone who acted in a corrupt manner will eventually be held up to the law. I cannot comment beyond that.

  82. A. J. Fardella Says:


    Absence of a signed written fee agreement is a direct violation of the California Bar Rules except under condition of emergency, which this situation does not meet the requirements of.

    So Rolen admitted this to you?

    More great lawyering. Another reason for his dismissal. It also speaks to his desperation not thinking this out before he opens his mouth.

    There’s another item for my Cal-Bar complaint, I guess now I will have to include the MDUSD attorney and law-firm in my complaint to them.

    Is this amateur hour or one of the biggest School Districts in the Bay Area?

  83. g Says:

    A.J.: Thank God your baby was found by a nice person!

    Think of the 400 babies in North Concord who were entirely stranded by the district when they closed Holbrook, and provided NO, NADA transportation for 5-6-7-8-9 year olds. Some of them walk 3/4 of a mile, across Port Chicago Highway to Sun Terrace Elem. AND many have to walk up to 1.72 miles, across Willow Pass Road to Wren Elem. Now that is what many of us call stranded!

  84. Doctor J Says:

    Anyone want volumes of complaints about bussing ? Contact or request the emails of Principals Gretchen Jacobs of Sun Terrace or Nancy Baum of Delta View about bus problems. I heard that Gretchen even showed up one morning and rode the bus to see what the problem was. The routes are overloaded and students are missing thousands of minutes of instruction every day and many miss their breakfast which is required by Federal law to be provided. Lets stop the coverups. Lets get the truth in the open.

  85. Doctor J Says:

    Hey Board, Action item 4.2 Fardella v. MDUSD, is now $7500 not $1085 because your genuis lawyer “appealed” a nominal small claims action and has it set for “new trial which cancelled the small claims judgment. Rolen is “brillant”. Board, you are getting your full $220,000 worth from that guy — he spent TWO days in court covering up his incompetency. Board, you made your own bed, now you have to sleep in it. Watch out for the bugs.

  86. g Says:

    Dr. J. Where do the children come from that are bused to Sun Terrace? I can only think of Clyde, and maybe a couple SpecEd. Are there other neighborhoods being bused? My Holbrook school neighbor walks 1.5 miles with her 2nd grader, pushing a baby in a stroller, with one in the oven, to get to Wren. When she knows she’s going to be late, or the weather is bad, she just calls the child in sick. These are good, caring, one income, one car, homeowners, with limited English. There must be dozens of cases like this in North Concord.

  87. A. J. Fardella Says:


    I know my 13 year old autistic son Nicolaus had NO transportation at all the first week of school, I had to drive him.

    The first day I was on my way down Leland and saw a brand new MDUSD short bus parked on the corner of Woodhill. I turned around to speak to the driver, she said she was looking for our house to pick up Nicky. I showed her the house and told her I brought him already (I was returning from driving him to Sequoia Middle).

    Never saw her or a District bus again.

    We are very happy now with the Independent Contractor who now provides Nicky’s Transportation.

    The Safety of our kids is alleged priority 1 by the District. From what you tell me here G, sounds like it’s not. It is time for the District to get a real person who knows what they are doing to run the department as it should be.

    It is a shame that the long tradition of Gasoline Alley and what has historically been a strong department of MDUSD, Transportation, has fallen so far under poor leadership and administration.

  88. A. J. Fardella Says:

    Doctor J-

    Again, couldn’t agree more!

  89. Doctor J Says:

    I think they are NCLB, Special Ed and some others. Ask Gretchen which route she rode !

  90. Anon Says:

    A law firm that would work on superior court litigation for a $1,000 cap must have another reason for that accommodation. Filing fees alone could be more than $1,000. In this economy law firms are going out of business right and left. Crosby & Rowell must make a fortune from MDUSD on other cases, or they have a severe intelligence deficit. In either case they shouldn’t be representing MDUSD on this. The district should pay the judgment which was decided by A JUDGE weighing the facts, take its medicine, and make sure this never happens again to another child. What is the district’s job anyway?!

    MDUSD = where kids are a nuisance

  91. Theresa Harrington Says:

    After my story ran, I heard from a special ed parent who said her son was once on a bus for two-and-a-half hours and she didn’t know where he was. When she called the transportation department, she was told: “Six other parents are whining about this too.”

  92. Flippin' Tired Says:

    Angie Goakey, transportation, can give you statistics on who gets bus service, how many students, etc. 925-825-7440. I believe it is Special Ed, NCLB, and overflow students who are entitled to free transportation per fed and state laws. I am unsure of any others entitled.

  93. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The report Greg Rolen gave to the CAC included some statistics, but does not appear to be a complete overview of the district’s bus service:
    In fact, Rolen has never presented a report to the board about transportation, as requested by then-Board President Gary Eberhart after one special education parent complained that his son was left stranded with no bus.
    Trustee Cheryl Hansen is proposing that the board adopt an “Accountability Progress Report” that would require the district to report on the progress of board actions:
    This would include reporting on how well the district achieved its money-saving goals that were presented by Rolen as justification for discontinuing the contract with Durham Transportation for bus services. Instead, Rolen presented this spreadsheet, which does not explain the full extent of the changes and current service:
    The public deserves a detailed accounting of the district’s bus services and costs, including a written report that explains the district’s charts.
    When you look at the County Office of Education’s agenda report regarding the CVHS charter petition, you can see how a comprehensive staff report should be written:
    There are no gaps in information. It is thorough, yet concise and well-presented, with back-up documentation from the California Department of Education and state Education Code. The public is not required to read between the lines or try to guess what other pertinent information may be missing.

  94. g Says:

    Board Action Accountability Progress Report.

    …can the public submit Report requests?

  95. Anon Says:

    For anyone else who attended the CCBOE meeting last month … I did. And WOW, I received in the mail a full packet of minutes, and agenda for the next meeting. So thorough, they recap all the public comment, note everyone who signed in, everyone who provided correspondence. Now that is how to run a board.

  96. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: According to Hansen’s proposal, the public wouldn’t have to request the reports because they would be posted online.
    This should also include an accountability report that shows whether the district met its goal of cutting $1.5 million from its budget through school closures, which has never been shown to the board or the public.

    Anon: Yes, the county is very thorough. Also, it posted the agenda materials early — as requested by the board — so that trustees and the public would have six days to review the materials (instead of the minimum 72 hours).
    Trustee Pam Mirabella forwarded emails that she received to the board clerk so that they could be included as part of the public record. MDUSD trustees never do this, although they should. The public has a right to know who is lobbying trustees behind the scenes, as well as what they are saying.
    In fact, one person asked if there was a way to submit comments without having them be part of the public record, saying some parents might not want others in the community to know their views. That is not the way public agencies are supposed to work.

  97. Wait a minute Says:

    Well, the CCCBOE is obviously a highly professionalized and well run organization and Cheryl Hansen’s positions and actions as an MDUSD Trustee reflect that inherent professionalism.

    The MDUSD would do well to emulate the CCC Office of Education/MDUSD’s BOE would be equally well served to emulate the CCCBOE’s integrity and transparency and professionalism.

    If they did, then their motto of “Where Children Come First” wouldn’t ring hollow as it does now under the tyranny of the Eberharts and Stevie Lawrences of the MDUSD.

  98. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Hansen wrote a letter to the CCCOE board saying that she chose not to speak at the first charter public hearing because she wanted county trustees to hear all the same public comment she has been hearing over the past few months.
    I believe Trustee Linda Mayo and Board President Sherry Whitmarsh spoke against the charter at the last public hearing.
    It will be interesting to see if the district tries to refute the county’s findings and continues to push trustees to uphold their denial.

  99. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, the special education Community Advisory Council will meet at 7 p.m. tomorrow, according to the CAC blog:

    Unfortuntately, the agenda is not posted on the blog. It is also not posted on the district’s website (or mentioned in the upcoming events calendar):

    However, I have been assured by Mildred Browne’s administrative assistant that it was posted outside the district office within the 72-hour notice time frame. Do you think the district should post CAC agendas online?

  100. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is the agenda for tomorrow’s CAC meeting:

  101. A. J. Fardella Says:

    of course they should be online. more people have online access than any other means.
    Shameful that all these meeting agendas etc aren’t available online. The law needs to be modified to keep up with the times.

  102. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yet, most of Trustee Cheryl Hansen’s reform proposals died tonight for lack of a second.

  103. A. J. Fardella Says:

    Theresa- That Says volumes, She’s the one to hold onto then. Other folks sitting on the other side of the podium want to make it as difficult as Possible for the public to keep them accountable.

    I have time. I plan to live long enough to see many happy changes in the future. I hope.

    Thanks to everyone for their vigilance.

  104. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Hansen agreed to postpone discussion of her proposal for public input into the superintendent’s evaluation until the next meeting. Also, there was quite a lengthy discussion about her accountability report proposal, on which I believe trustees will vote at the next meeting.

  105. Linda L Says:

    I could not attend the meeting last night. I am curious about the outcome of 13.5, 13.6, and 13.7. I am also interested in the outcome of 13.8 and 13.9 but it sounds as if both of those will be on the next agenda (or future agenda).
    Were all of these proposals submitted by Ms. Hansen? Did any receive seconds?
    Do you know if there will be an opportunity for public comment at the upcoming board retreat on collaboration?

  106. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Linda: Sorry I stopped blogging at that point because I had to file my short story to the Times about the QEIA waiver.
    13.5-13.7 all failed for lack of a second.
    13.8 and 13.9 will appear on the Jan. 23 agenda for action. There was no discussion of 13.8, but there was considerable discussion about 13.9, with Trustees Gary Eberhart, Linda Mayo and Board President Sherry Whitmarsh questioning whether it would be overly burdensome. Whitmarsh suggested a $250,000 minimum. Hansen appeared to be pleased that they were willing to at least discuss it. I don’t believe Dennler commented on it.
    Yes, all of these proposals were submitted by Hansen.
    I don’t know if there will be an opportunity for public comment at the board retreat, but I’ll ask.
    Most notable at the meeting was the solidarity among CST workers who believed the district built up its large reserves based on cuts from their hours and paychecks. Now that the district is no longer facing deep midyear cuts or furlough days, they want pay and hours reinstated. Several stood with “No Confidence” signs, although I don’t believe they have actually voted no confidence.
    I am beginning to hear rumblings from people who are hoping for changes on the board and in top district administration by the end of the year.
    I noticed that Brian Lawrence, who ran and lost in the last election, was in attendance at the meeting last night.

  107. g Says:

    Without a copy that was readable (and as required by law), Isom’s shyster schtick power point, punctuated with apologies for it being unreadable…was useless to us, while being invaluable to them. They can again tell the Grand Jury “Oh, but we did present it to the public in open forum”! Damn, what does it take to actually be able to follow along, or have things published online in advance?

  108. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: The district has posted Isom’s presentation online:

    However, I agree that it would have made more sense for this presentation to be a publicly noticed agenda item, instead of slipping it in under the Superintendent’s Report, with no advance notice to the public.

  109. Doctor J Says:

    Funny how it looks like it was part of the noticed Agenda. Vaudville in the 21st Century.

  110. g Says:

    Theresa, “slipping it in under the Supt’s Report” was a very polite way to put it.

    Funny, I had the Agenda Open at that item and the report was not there, then I refresh, and voila!

    And, at last the dreaded 2041 pops in. Let’s see; the CUES/board will be doddering old fools (as opposed to just fools), their kids in high school now will be pushing 50, their grandkids will live in cubical sized condos, and yet–all will still be paying for what we call schools now, but will be calling pothole filler by 2041! Good Job!

  111. g Says:

    Yes, Dr. J: and I still don’t have a working printer. Theresa, did you happen to capture a copy of the original Item for the 2012 Grand Jury Inquiry?

  112. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No, I don’t normally click on the Superintendent’s Report, since it usually doesn’t include any additional information.

  113. Doctor J Says:

    The hard copy of the posted agenda maintained by the Board Secretary [Lawrence] should be correct unless they have now substituted it for the revision the day after the meeting.

  114. g Says:

    Theresa, I agree. The public generally doesn’t look for important news or Measure C info to come from the Supt’s Item.

    Realizing this, no doubt that is why it was so carefully camouflaged there, with no copy for the Board, or presentation to the BOC first, or anything proper like that.

    However, I’m pretty sure I clicked on and read every Item this time, and I do not believe that info was under Supt. Report on Fri a.m. thru Sat p.m.. I did not look again after that–so was shocked when Lawrence introduced Isom last eve, after it was too late for those interested in Measure C matters to make it to the meeting.

  115. A. J. Fardella Says:

    (reposted from Theresa’s live blog from last Board Meeting 1-9-2012)

    As far as the Measure C ‘presentation’

    What is important for Taxpayers to see is that this refund of Bond proceeds in excess of projections, only puts more dollars long term into the Bond issuers pockets. That money properly used would pay down the principle to escape 50 years of the Montel Williams style Bond structure which has us paying 1.8 Billion dollars for borrowing 350 million.
    Since the Board and our Superintendent are in bed with Bond issuers, so goes the action of the District. Of course they sell propaganda to the public as a big boon for the taxpayers…. in the long run, not at all, it just means we’ll pay every penny of this ridiculously conceived bond so the Bond issuers get their money and in the long run Taxpayers are deprived of more of theirs.
    Fiducially irresponsible on the part of the Board and Staff, with our kids suffering the Bondage of this atrocity (every pun intended).

  116. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Just to clarify, the post by AJ is a reposting of his own comments at the end of the live blog.

  117. g Says:

    Ms Dennler has now had two weeks to borrow an opinion from “staff”. Did she get one yet?

    It really isn’t a hard question Ms Dennler.

    Should the District have simply (and quietly) apologized and paid the $1085. judgement? Or should the District have decided to drag the dead carcass through the streets and cause, yet another, stink at Dent by having to most likely pay the $1085. judgement PLUS another $1000. or so to their campaign donating law firm buddies?

  118. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Board President Sherry Whitmarsh reported that trustees did discuss this case during closed session at their last meeting.

    However, trustees often decline to comment on “pending litigation.” I haven’t had a chance to ask Dennler since then if she supports staff’s decision to appeal.

  119. g Says:

    However, it was on the Agenda as: Action Item under “Existing Litigation”. We are entitled to a Report of Action Taken.

  120. Doctor J Says:

    I think Lynne Dennler’s failure to appear at the County BOE appeal on the charter shows she is losing interest very quickly in being on the School Board which is divided, trying to manage crisis after crisis, and has fire after fire to extinguish. She clearly was not prepared emotionally for the task at hand. At the behest of Linda Mayo, Lynne chooses not to read the blogs to understand what the issues are, and has no interest in finding solutions to the many crisis situations. Yes, even the teachers in the district are losing faith that she would stand for their interests.

  121. g Says:

    Double checked, listened to the audio of the meeting. Whitmarsh breezed right over the Fardella case without reporting Action, but reported out the votes taken on the two personnel dismissals.

    An absolute violation of the Brown Act. Whitmarsh needs to be very careful to not fall into the bad habits of Eberhart style cover-up. The Grand Jury is watching.

  122. Doctor J Says:

    @G, perhaps we just need to flood the CC District Attorney’s office with Brown Act complaints until they get the hint ! Or perhaps under Robert’s Rules of Order, a citizen needs to stand up in the middle of the meeting and call “Point of Order !” and demand that President Whitmarsh address the issue before moving on.

  123. g Says:

    It isn’t just Brown Act. In circumstances where the Brown Act is not clear or sufficient, the County has its “Sunshine Law”.

    For instance:

    Contra Costa County Sunshine Ordinance 25-2.402 (b) (3) Closed sessions: pending litigation–

    (c) Legal advice as to the potential risk of litigation of actions not yet taken, if provided by counsel at a meeting of a policy body, is to be conveyed openly as a matter of public record.

    (d) A closed session may not be held under this section to consider the qualifications or engagement of an independent contract attorney or law firm, for litigation services or otherwise.”


    In other words, having a general contract with an outside attorney does not mean the district can use them on specific cases without public disclosure of the potential “risks” and “costs” of possible litigation.

    Any decision to pay the law firm of Crosby and Rowell any amount of money must be made in Open Session. They do not have to openly discuss the evidence—just the “risk” and “cost”.

    EVEN IF the Board has permitted the Superintendent to spend up to $25,000.00 for necessary “school related” expenditures. School related costs do not include “Litigation” or attorney engagement.

    Perhaps someone from the County with legal expertise would like to weigh in?

  124. frustrated Says:

    Dr. J. If you are so unhappy with MDUSD, why not leave the district office and move on?

  125. Anon Says:

    Dr. J should stay as our fox in the henhouse.

  126. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: According to the superintendent’s secretary, no board action was taken on the Fardella case.

  127. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The district has hired three new bus drivers:

    And, it plans to buy six used buses:

  128. A. J. Fardella Says:

    It’s official-

    The MDUSD has dropped the appeal of the judgement in this case. It is a good thing for the District that a REAL lawyer (not Greg Rollen) looked at this case and advised the Board…. Oh NO….
    Evidently according to a letter from MDUSD counsel which accompanied the request to drop the appeal, “the Board decided on January 9th” in closed session to end the appeal in this case.
    There was other palaver from the District’s legal firm’s General Counsel, trying to portray the District as being so compassionate as to not want to “Cross-examine” a 7 year old.
    They misspelled my daughter’s name in this letter, and really were clueless as to the claims and basis for them, even though there was considerable pontification on their part in said letter.

    In any event the case is closed, and our victory stands.

  129. Anon Says:

    This is great news for you AJ. I just wish the district would have done this sooner. They can not afford to waste a dime on more attorney fees. I predict after all the blunders that Rolan and Lawrence will be gone soon. Hopefully they take all the other crud with them.

  130. Theresa Harrington Says:

    A.J., I will want to do a follow-up story about this.
    FYI, I received a letter from a couple in San Ramon that was so outraged by the district’s actions that they offered to pay your family the $1,085 if you lost on appeal. And they don’t even live in the Mt. Diablo district.

  131. Wait a Minute Says:


    In your follow up I think you should also look at how did the MDUSD Board vote to settle this matter WITHOUT reporting this out at one of their board meetings!

    I believe this is a clear-cut violation of the Brown Act and while I’m very happy for A.J. and his family that they won this case I’m still very concerned at the routine violations of the Brown Act by this board.

  132. Theresa Harrington Says:

    WAM: This is a good point. Board President Sherry Whitmarsh merely reported that the board had discussed the case. Since the agenda item stated that action would be taken, I called the superintendent’s secretary after the meeting and asked if there was action taken. She said there was no action taken. Board votes are supposed to be reported out to the public and I will follow up to find out why it wasn’t.

  133. Doctor J Says:

    A. J. be sure to add daily interest calcuated at 10% per year but accrues daily until paid — don’t be cheated one cent. You deserve every cent. I hope you take the check and have it blown up to one of those mega checks.

  134. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Rolen said the district was right to appeal:

  135. Doctor J Says:

    Send the check back if they didn’t add daily interest until you received the check ! Rolen can’t accept responsibility for any of the transportation mess he is in charge of.

  136. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Another bus mixup happened this morning, when an MDUSD bus driver was apparently told by the district’s transportation department the wrong time to pick up Northgate Jazz Band students for a trip to the Amador Valley HS Jazz Festival in Pleasanton. Due to the lateness of the bus, students nearly missed their scheduled performance and had to forfeit most of their warm-up time. Parents said next time they use an MDUSD bus, they plan to ask the bus driver to call them an hour before the pickup time, so they can be assured a bus is on the way.

  137. personal injury lawyer kansas Says:

    OMG this is rediculous! We have had SO many problems with the Mt. Diablo Transpotation department! I hope this Mother does not back down and puts up a good fight! More power to ya Momma!

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