Part of the Bay Area News Group

Should Mt. Diablo High convert to all academies?

By Theresa Harrington
Sunday, January 29th, 2012 at 8:14 pm in Education.

At the Jan. 23 Mt. Diablo school board meeting, Superintendent Steven Lawrence explained the district’s process for responding to a vote of No Confidence in Mt. Diablo High School Principal Kate McClatchy.

First, he said the district could not discuss the job performance of any specific employee. Unfortunately, I was unable to videotape that portion of his comments.

However, I did videotape his comments regarding the process for addressing the concerns raised by teachers who voted No Confidence in McClatchy last month, as well as the other public comments made at the meeting.

Below is a summary of those comments, along with links to the video clips.

Lawrence said that teachers will break into groups on Monday, Jan. 30 to hear plans for dealing with five major concerns that have been brought up. Teachers will be able to respond to the plans and district staff will follow-up in the spring to be sure the plans are being implemented, he said.

Following Lawrence’s remarks, teachers’ union president Mike Langely made the following statement:

“President Whitmarsh, Members of the Board, Superintendent Lawrence,Council, community members:

The layers of difficulties at Mt. Diablo High School must be addressed by the board and the district administration. We acknowledge that bringing this to a public forum is a positive step in meeting the needs of all stakeholders. We understand that this not be done in haste.

The difficulties have not suddenly occurred. The vote by the faculty of Mt Diablo High was not an isolated incident triggered by a single event. Solutions will be best found by a thoughtful review and a meaningful plan to remedy the underlying conflicts and dysfunctions.

We have been told that the board will not rush to judgment simply because the faculty went public with their frustration. We support your caution. However, if the board and administration circle wagons and say they can’t appear to bow to the vocal majority, even if action is warranted, we will withdraw support for the process. Staying the course because a change would admit to past errors is not only foolish but is destructive to the process of education at any school heading toward the shoal waters of conflict.

One last concern; as the discovery process moves forward with deliberation, current site policies and changes that may impair vital programs may continue. It is imperative that site administration be directed to postpone the massive restructuring until all consequences, intended and unintended, are identified and evaluated as to their effect on the most important stakeholders: the students.”

Video of Lawrence and Langley: http://youtu.be/EGrmLstwmLY

District resident Brian Lawrence, who ran for the school board and lost in the last election, calls the potential loss of Quality Education Investment Act funding at Mt. Diablo High an “unmitigated disaster” and a “colossal failure.” He asked several questions about the failure of the school administration to comply with class size requirements in order to keep its grant of about $1.5 million a year, including the responsibility of the board, superintendent and principal.

Video: http://youtu.be/pJfeemz-YaA

District resident Willie Mims also spoke about the possible loss of QEIA funds, as well as low morale at Mt. Diablo High. Video: http://youtu.be/uDLVG4J1bbg

English teacher Stephanie Sliwinski, who teaches in the ACME academy, talks about concerns teachers have regarding McClatchy’s plan to require every student to enroll in one of four academies. Video: http://youtu.be/CF5EFjxymFA

Mt. Diablo High senior Savannah Ridgley tells board that the all-academy model negatively impacted AP students and the FAME (performing arts) academy. She also complains about locked bathrooms, missing toilet paper and soap, and punishment of the entire student body for the actions of a few. Video: http://youtu.be/WFi6PcXwK4g

Staff member Wendy Spencer says employees who ask questions about the plan to become an all-academy model have been told they are “toxic” and shut down. Video: http://youtu.be/uswn6b0BmqY

AP Environmental science teacher Patrick Oliver says McClatchy refused to master schedule for the QEIA grant. Video: http://youtu.be/iY9gXw4MZuI

Science teacher Colin Jones says the loss of QEIA funding would be devastating to the school because it would mean about 22 teachers would be laid-off and class sizes would increase. Video: http://youtu.be/VSkydMgvXuM

Woodshop teacher Steve Seaman talks about safety concerns related to the scale-up of academies at MDHS. Video: http://youtu.be/427Jz9DXXfs

Trustee Gary Eberhart said he has high hopes for the process of responding to the vote of No Confidence. He said he did not believe the school’s conversion to an all-charter model had been brought before the board.

“Trying to make a wholesale change like this would be difficult to make if everyone were on the same page,” he said. “A change of this magnitude it would seem to me would be impossible to successfully implement unless you have a staff that is in unity.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t get video of Eberhart’s comments. Next, Board President Sherry Whitmarsh clarified that the plans would be drafts, subject to input from teachers. Video: http://youtu.be/Y5nEsR7lg8k

JAN. 30 UPDATE: I just spoke to Janet Haun, who oversees ROP classes for the Contra Costa County Office of Education, regarding the MDHS plan to become a wall-to-wall academy. She said she is working with the school to ensure that ROP classes will be integral to the plan.

“Our goal is to have them as the capstones in every academy,” she said. “A capstone is sort of the culminating class for a high school student.”

Haun said the county currently operates ROP classes in the
biotech, IHTA and biotech academies, but not in the Digital Safari academy.

She said she was not aware of any other neighborhood high school in the county that has converted to an all-academy model. Dozier Libby Medical HS in Antioch is a magnet academy high school, which requires students to apply to attend, she said. It was recently named a California Distinguished School.

Haun said the Antioch district and WCCUSD have multiple academies at each high school, but haven’t gone all-academy.

She said she personally hasn’t heard of any dissatisfaction with the MDHS plan to convert to an all-academy model, but she primarily works with ROP teachers, who are happy to be a part of an academy.

“I don’t know their opinion of wall-to-wall,” she said.

I also asked about ROP classes at the CVHS charter. She said the county would continue to offer those classes on the campus.

“It’s part of the document that the Board of Education approved that the students at Clayton Valley HS are entitled to the same types of services and educational programs as any students in public schools,” Haun said. “So, we plan to maintain the ROP programs that we have there.”

Do you think Mt. Diablo High school should convert to all academies in the fall?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

79 Responses to “Should Mt. Diablo High convert to all academies?”

  1. Doctor J Says:

    Supt Steven Lawrence calls himself an “outsider looking in” — OMG, he is the direct supervisor of Principal Kate McClatchy — is he really claiming he didn’t know about this comprehensive plan ? What kind of supervision has he been doing ?

  2. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I was also surprised that he called himself an outsider. When I initially contacted him to talk about the all academy model, he wrote in an email: “If you are looking for details of the plan or a rational (sic) for the move I recommend that you speak with Kate.”

    I followed up with questions to both Lawrence and McClatchy and didn’t get any responses from either of them. I questioned whether Lawrence directed or approved the plan, among other things.

    It’s unclear how Lawrence can effectively evaluate principals, if he considers himself to be an outsider on district campuses.

  3. Doctor J Says:

    There was a shift in District policy to put Lawrence as direct supervisor and evaluator over the High School prinicpals when the original SASS Org Chart and job descriptions had Asst. Supt Rose Lock supervising and evaluating all the principals. What is significant about this policy shift is that there were not any Public Meetings discussing this, and when the revised job descriptions of SASS were finally put forth recently, even though Lawrence had posted the revised Org Chart in April without Board approval [at least publicly], there was absolutely no Board disucssion about the change when it was adopted, which can only mean the Board is brain dead or already had the discussion in private. There is really only one conclusion that can be drawn from this — the Board continues to illegally use the frequent Supt secret evaluations to change district policy without voting on such a change, without announcing “action” on such a change, without seeking public input on such changes, and perhaps even having unnoticed meetings about the role of the Supt. Brown Act violations really need to be stopped.

  4. g Says:

    Unfortunately, we will probably never hear directly from Kate McClatchy. At least not until she sues for wrongful termination or something. Did she sit at her last school dreaming of what she would do if she were at Mount? I doubt it. Was she reassigned without ever having a discussion with either Lock or Lawrence, where either she or one of them suggested Academy program changes?

    Who decided that she was qualified to move from a school of 400 students, average class size 17, to a school nearly 5 times larger, and drop her in there on her head with little or no supervision from the District? That is reminiscent of the misguided hiring a Superintendent with no real experience in a District of even 1/4 this size.

    It’s obvious the long time teachers don’t like having new ideas thrust upon them, but I also can’t think of a single time in my life that I have initially liked the “new boss” or their “new ideas”.

    We need to get to the “real” bottom of where these ideas for change came from. Done right, wall to wall academy models can work when planned and implemented carefully. But there is a lot more to look at.

    What happens to Mount in a couple of years when the buses stop rolling over the hill and its population is cut by more than half by a new high school? What are Lawrence’s and Lock’s thoughts on that? Can they see the future?

  5. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Lawrence and Lock presented the superintendent’s council idea for combining Glenbrook MS and MDSH on one campus as part of the school closure process, but that idea was rejected by the committee.

    It’s possible that the district wants to move toward academies because it can receive grants for California Partnership Academies, which help fund the programs. All four academies that McClatchy wants to scale up are receiving such grants.

    I also received two emails this morning regarding this issue. One said there are many teachers who support the all-academy model and are rising to the challenge.

    Another said the FAME academy was not a full-fledged performing arts academy because it didn’t include any performing or visual arts teachers, and it only included about 20 students when it was disbanded. Also, it didn’t receive any outside funding.

    Dr. J: Sometimes, individual board members ask questions of staff and receive information about agenda items privately. Although this is not a Brown Act violation, it does circumvent the spirit of the Brown Act, since trustees could be basing their votes on information that is not shared with the public. As I have previously mentioned, many public officials in other agencies — such as the Walnut Creek City Council — ask questions of staff publicly that they already know the answers to, so that the public will have the same information that they received privately. This is how transparent agencies operate.

  6. g Says:

    Yes, and that committee had NO representation actually living or working in the Mount D/ Glenbrook/Holbrook neighborhoods. The president of Holbrook PTA had moved from the area and didn’t even have a kid at Holbrook any longer, and so, gave up the fight early. Others asked Lawrence and the board to look at making Holbrook a K-6 again or K-8, which would have worked and kept kids in their own neighborhood. They were flat-out ignored.

    Poor Lawrence thinks of himself as an “outsider” when he walks into a school—he should ask the 1100 or so students who no longer have a “home” school how they feel every day.

  7. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have just posted an update about how the County Office of Education is working with MDHS to plan for the all-academy model. No other neighborhood schools in the county are all-academy, said Janet Haun.
    Dozier-Libby Medical HS in the Antioch district is a magnet school, which attracts students who want to go there. Perhaps MDHS could convert to a magnet school, while allowing students not interested in the academies to go elsewhere.

  8. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s an interesting perspective on the unintended consequences of school closures: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/walt_gardners_reality_check/2012/01/aftermath_of_shuttering_schools.html

  9. g Says:

    Theresa, excellent points in that article. On the same page it led me to read another post, also with excellent comments: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/walt_gardners_reality_check/2012/01/when_principals_abuse_their_power.html

  10. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Does that sound like what’s going on at MDHS? I have heard that some teachers have already left because they didn’t like McClatchy’s management style.
    It will be interesting to find out which five major areas of concern are being addressed. McClatchy’s leadership skills could be one.
    MDEA President Mike Langley, who sat in on the “crumpled paper” sessions described by Lawrence, said he was sure the all-academy model was another.
    I would guess the QEIA grant would be a third.
    The other two could be teacher evaluations and discipline. (At least, those are major issues that have been raised by teachers who have spoken to me and at the school board meetings.)

  11. g Says:

    The questions remain; is McClatchy doing what she wants or what she’s been told. Is upper management looking at stirring things up today hoping to improve the school for tomorrow, or are they working toward a future that possibly would not include Mount at all.

  12. Doctor J Says:

    On Wednesday will be Steve Lawrence’s TWO YEAR anniversary and HE still doesn’t know what is going on at one of the high schools HE directly SUPERVISES. How can with a straight face LAWRENCE claim he feels like an OUTSIDER ? Lawrence, along with the Board, has approved the WRITTEN “Single Plan for Student Achievement” for the past two years. Haven’t they read them ? These plans were “approved” by the site councils before they were submitted to the district.

    G, like you, I wonder who really made the recommendation and decision, to allow McClatchy to move to Mount. I wonder if Rolen had any influence in that decision ?

  13. Doctor J Says:

    What has Lawrence been doing for two years in MDUSD ? He recommends Kate McClatchy to the Board on June 22, 2010 as Principal of MDHS. Lawrence is her DIRECT supervisor. Now in January 2012 Lawrence disavows knowledge of WHAT McClatchy is doing at Mount: “If you are looking for details of the plan or a rational (sic) for the move I recommend that you speak with Kate.”
    How can that be ?

  14. Theresa Harrington Says:

    This apparent lack of oversight could help explain the QEIA problem.
    Brian Lawrence asked tough questions. So far, answers do not seem to be forthcoming.

  15. Doctor J Says:

    Steven Lawrence feels no obligation to account to the public and none to the Board in public. He does not fear Eberhart nor Whitmarsh, as one word from his mouth about the truth about Buttercupgate and the both Gary and Sherry’s re-election campaigns go down in flames. And I am sure there are other issues equally as explosive that we don’t even have a clue about. Notice that the Board minutes have become less and less informative about what is discussed, and staff reports are less informative, and less common.

  16. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Also, staff reports that merit their own agenda items (bond refunding, SIG grants) have been hidden under the Superintendent’s Report.

    And of course, there’s the issue of the PowerPoint presentations that are not posted before the meeting, so the public has very little information. And, the link to the audio from the last meeting still hasn’t been reposted.

  17. MDHS Academy Teacher Says:

    As to the question about where the idea for an all academy school came from, you need look no farther than the MDHS WASC report for the 2009-2010 school year. It doesn’t specifically say how it should be done, but it does indicate the success of the existing academies and recommends that there be more. Academies are wonderful, if, and only if a student and their family choose to be a part of it. Forcing students into a pathway that they don’t want will only work to destroy what the existing academies have created. Small learning communities work because they are just that, small.

  18. MDHS Teacher Says:

    Theresa, did you mention that we teachers (and a student!) had to wait almost five hours before we were allowed to comment on our agenda item at last week’s board meeting? FIVE HOURS!!! By the time speakers were called it was 12:15 AM! “Good Morning Ladies and Gentleman of the board…” I can’t make this stuff up. What was that all about? Where is the audio?

  19. MDHS Teacher Says:

    Tip to anyone listening to the lost audio tapes of the board meeting: Fast forward almost five hours from the start of the meeting to hear the good stuff.

  20. Anon Staff Says:

    The biggest issue on campus in regards to the Academy Plan has been the almost total lack of input by the staff on developing the plan. Two Academies, IHTA and DSA have existed for over ten years, ACME for several years and a new Academy, MBTA, started this school year. Despite this wealth of experience with Academies, input from thse staff members have had little to no effect on McClatchy’s 4-Academy model. The only ‘choice’ offered at today’s presentations was for Academies to choose between next school year or two years from this year to incorporate freshman into their programs. Basically it was a choice between now or later but the message was clear, this is happening!

    There have been no opportunities for staff members to present alternatives to McClatchy’s plan which requires the 3 existing academies to double in size. The biotech group get to remain in the CPA model which can serve approximately 180 students grades 10 – 12. The other 3 academies are changing design to accompdate almost 400 students each. Some have suggested more, smaller academies with more career pathways. Very little transformative discussion has been allowed. The ‘get on board or get out’ attitude seems to be continuing.

    Oh wait, nevermind, we can ‘choose’ to wait to get on board for one more year.

  21. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Regarding the last meeting lasting over 5 hours – Instead of trying change the schedule of board meetings to once a month – they (the board trustees) should be scheduling the meetings each week until they and the district staff resolve the enormous backlog of issues. Right now they are simply wasting two weeks or more by cramming too much into one meeting, then letting those issues and problems fall through the cracks without any follow up or true resolution.

    Meeting items called out for followup ( transportation plan anyone?) need to be assigned to district personnel for research, action and / or resolution. Each item should be listed with the assignee’s name, short detail and expected resolution and targeted completion date as well as the date the item was assigned. Progress on each item should be reported each week until resolved to the satisfaction of the trustees.

    Staff not getting it done? reassign the task and write up the staffer originally assigned for not completing their work assigned.

    Once the backlog is cleared out, THEN reduce the meetings back down to twice a month.

    Somewhere there is a whiteboard filled with “gates” (issues) and the dates they started – are ANY of them resolved – or did they just fall into the MDUSD void?

  22. g Says:

    Well now HFO–that just makes too much sense! Remember, these are ‘elected’ officials, most of whom are in it for an extra buck or two, and the self aggrandizing title, and who are not actually there for the students or the fiduciary responsibility.

  23. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon staff: Superintendent Lawrence said the plans were drafts that could be revised with staff input. Were you asked for suggested revisions?

    MDHS Teacher: In my YouTube video clips, several teachers said: “Good morning.” Also, I noted in the video description that the video was shot Jan. 24, when the Jan. 23 meeting went past midnight.
    Although the district has removed the audio link from its website, it is still online at: http://www.mdusd.org/boe/Documents/January%2023%20Minutes%20-%20Merged.mp3
    You make a good point about the student waiting five hours. Earlier in the meeting, after the student reps from various high schools spoke, trustees told them they could leave so they could study for finals.
    Yet, the item might not have appeared on the agenda at all if Trustee Gary Eberhart hadn’t asked the superintendent to report on the process. He is taking a keen interest in this issue and said he wants regular reports.
    Of course, if it doesn’t appear on the Feb. 6 agenda, teachers and others interested in the issue are free to speak about it during public comment, which occurs much earlier in the meeting and would likely be heard by many more people.

  24. MDHS Teacher Says:

    Theresa,

    You are an EXCELLENT reporter and don’t miss a BEAT! I forgot all about Dr.Lawrence excusing the student reps from Northgate, College Park, Concord, Clayton Valley, Ygnacio Vallley, and Mount Diablo High Schools to go home and study for finals. But wait…there was a lone student left in the back of the room. Who was it? None other than valedictorian candidate Savannah Ridgely who had signed a comment card at 7:15 PM and was made to wait FIVE HOURS before she was allowed to speak. Savannah did “study for finals” too. In the Dent Center Board Room. In the back row. With her textbook. And the sounds of the board going on and on about the purchase of used busses rather than hear her, yet. These people are so obvious!!! Once again, the flagship school of the district gets the shaft. C’mon people, wake up! Support these MDHS teachers who know what they are talking about. Help!

  25. Theresa Harrington Says:

    MDHS Teacher: What were the other four major areas of concern that were addressed?

  26. Wait a minute Says:

    To all MDHS teachers,

    Your only chance to get the respect that you deserve from the district senior management and the board is to start the charter process.

    Going to 5 hour board meetings and being lied to by Stevie Lawrence and McClatchy is another sign of the blatant disrespect and disregard the these peoople have for you and your professional opinions.

    You have to fight back effectively and going charter is the only way to do that here. Follow the same template and process that CVCHS used and you too will be successful.

  27. Doctor J Says:

    367 days left . . . and counting.

  28. g Says:

    With the new Black Diamond High scheduled to open in Pittsburg this coming August, will Bay Point students have a choice between attending MDUSD or PUSD?

  29. Wait a minute Says:

    Dr J,
    you mean 367 days left on the contract of the “Outsider looking in” that Stevie Lawrence (with a full 2 years on the job) has conveniently claimed to sidestep his responsibilities and authority in the matter?

    So that makes Stevie a 2 year “Outsider looking in”?

  30. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Trustee Linda Mayo said that Pittsburg and Bay Point students were already starting to transfer out to Pittsburg schools. This is one of the reasons the district wants to build a high school out there. Although students can’t automatically attend Pittsburg schools, they can apply for interdistrict transfers.

    On another note, I spoke to Mike Langley, who attended a portion of yesterday’s MDHS sessions. He said Trustee Lynne Dennler was there and that she went to all five of the presentations. He didn’t see any other trustees there. Langley said he couldn’t remember specifically what all five “areas of concern” were. But, he said they included facilities, discipline and the all-academy model. He also agreed with Anon Staff’s comment, saying teachers were basically given a choice of converting to all academies next year or the year after. Langley observed that this did not appear to invite discussion of other options, so teachers were not given as much opportunity to give meaningful input for revising the “draft” plans as Lawrence said they would.

  31. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#30 Since district transfers have to be approved, MDUSD should be able to tell us the number of transfers by grade level both to Pittsburg and from Pittsburg.

  32. Wait a minute Says:

    Welcome to the world of Stevie Lawrence’s management methodolgy:

    basically top-down, centralized, one-size fits all, do as we say (not as we do), non-collaborative, shut up you peons….sounds alot like the way the former Soviet Union was fun into the ground!

    By far the best option for MDHS teachers is to start the charter process and I guarantee they will then be respected by these so-called leaders.

  33. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: I believe some of this information was included in the school closure charts compiled by Schreder.

  34. Doctor J Says:

    I am glad that Mike Langley confirms Lawrence’s misstatement about faculty being allowed “meaningful input” when that is simply untrue. McClatchy’s orders to the teachers are simply: either get on board or get off. Does anyone really believe that Kate McClatchy dreamed this up on her own ? I mean on Oct 25 she could barely read a prepared speech while Lawrence grinned in glory. We have now seen two McClatchy fables: The January “discussion” which was just another reading of a prepared speech and no input; now the January 30 “input session” without allowing input. The real test is whether Mike has enough collective strength in the Mount teachers for them to stand united. Its seems the time for talking is over, and the time for action by MDEA has arrived. Flu season is fast approaching.

  35. g Says:

    Dr. J @ 31, and Theresa; if MDUSD staff can’t give the numbers, Linda Rondeau might be far more forthcoming with PUSD statistics.

  36. Doctor J Says:

    @G#35 I guess we should compare the numbers for accuracy, eh ? Who is going to tell Linda Mayo about the discrepency in numbers ? Who will Linda Mayo believe: Steven Lawrence or Linda Rondeau ?

  37. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#33 I couldn’t find it, but did find that High School enrollment is on a significant decline across the Board — so why would they want to build a new high school when all other high schools are at less than full capacity and continuing to decline for the next five years ? See page 20, Schrader report. http://www.mdusd.org/Community/Documents/scacinfo0111.pdf

  38. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I know the Schreder consultants said the elementary population is growing in the Bay Point and Meadow Homes areas, but you’re right that the chart shows a decline from 1,522 students at MDHS in 2010-11 to 1,255 in 2015-16. Perhaps the district expects that to surge upward when this year’s kindergartners get to high school.
    I know there were other charts that showed transfers in and out by school and neighborhood school.

  39. g Says:

    Unfortunately Schreder studies are minimum 2 years out of date. It seems when being careful to not “double count” where older neighborhoods and new construction might scew the numbers, he did not allow that older in-town neighborhoods may be more of an incentive for first time buying and renting younger families than newer neighborhoods in Bay Point.

  40. Tagg Says:

    After reading all these posts and watching the video of MDHS teachers and a very bright and high achieving student speak their minds at the MDUSD school board meeting, am I thankful that CV is now CVCHS! If MDUSD were a private company, they’d be out of business. Consistently treating your own employees who are the backbone of the company like garbage would bankrupt them. I am greatful the teachers at CV said enough is enough and sought another option. It is obvious that trying to work with the district doesn’t produce results. The success of academies is the SMALL learning communities, taught by teachers who want to teach in a particular academy and because students want to be a part of that academy. They are very collabrative in nature. A small family if you will in the larger high school community. Hopefully MDHS, College Park, YV and Northgate will follow Clayton Valley’s lead and go charter. Thank you Theresa for your excellent reporting. You have opened the eyes of many citizens.

  41. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Speaking of CVCHS academies, there will be an informational meeting at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9 for anyone who’s interested: http://claytonvalley.org/blog/2012/01/18/information-regarding-cvchs-academies/.
    Also, I heard from CVCHS parent and board member Alison Bacigalupo today that the charter has received many “intent to enroll” forms from MDHS and YVHS students.

  42. g Says:

    Lawrence says “the district could not discuss the job performance of any specific employee”.

    Then how did Eberhart get by with openly calling for an overthrow of the last Superintendent,using poor job performance as criteria—and doing it quite publicly?

    Is this a “sometimes” privacy rule that is just brought up as a sort of armour when they are trying to dodge a bullit? I believe in privacy as much as anyone, but when we are the employer, the taxpayer, the parent, we the may have more legal rights than he is willing to admit.

  43. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I spoke to Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla today. She has sent a letter in support of the QEIA waiver application to the CDE.
    She said she does not want teachers and students to lose the funding, since they were not responsible for the school’s failure to meet the class size requirements.
    “The very people who need it shouldn’t end up being penalized for what is an administrative issue,” she said. “So, I definitely wrote it on their behalf.”
    She is also working on a bill addressing principal evaluations.

  44. Anon Staff Says:

    The sessions were 20 minutes long with approximately 20 teachers with an administrator acting as a fascilitator. We heard almost 10 minutes of a plan to address the specific topic and the remaining time was for feedback. The best admins allowed for more than 15 minutes of feedback while 2 I attended took up more than half the time ‘explaining’ their plan. We have been told the admin will react to our feedback but itis unclear how that will look.

    Most disturbing was the feedback summary from our sessions facilitated by Julie Bruan Martin from earlier in he month. MANY issues were left off the summary including legal questions regarding Principal McClatchy’s use of funds and her documented refusal to schedule for QEIA. No doubt those were left off intentionally. Also removed from the summary was the suggestion of removing McClatchy from her position as a possible remedy to the situation.

    I am fearful this whole process is all window dressing.

  45. Doctor J Says:

    Maybe Assembly Member Bonilla would support a CDE “condition” of the waiver that the school and district administrators that were responsible be “terminated immediately”. Ms. Bonilla, with all due respect, you need to read my timeline to see how egregious the conduct of the Principal and District Administrators were.

  46. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Patrick Oliver spoke about the timeline to the board.
    Bonilla told me she thinks there should be statewide standards for evaluating principals, in part because the federal government is pushing this, while the governor appears to be pushing for more local control.
    Although Bonilla agrees with more local control in concept, she said that pre-supposes that all local districts are well-run.
    “It would be great to assume that every school district was just doing a wonderful job,” she said.
    Her desire to put more uniform standards in place suggests that some districts may be doing a better job of hiring, training and evaluating principals than others.

  47. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon Staff: What was the response from teachers regarding the items that were deleted from the summary? Will they be added back on? As I have previously stated, the plans were supposed to be “drafts,” subject to revision through the feedback process.
    Superintendent Lawrence said all the “crumpled papers” were shredded. I also heard from Mike Langley that electronic devices (including recorders, I assume) were prohibited. What happened to the original lists from the first meetings?

  48. g Says:

    Anon Staff: Twenty or so teachers were given 10 minutes to “share” for their feedback? And legal questions were left out?

    That doesn’t sound like “window dressing”. That sounds like regurgitation served on a bed of cold rice with a pretty little sprig of parsley!

  49. g Says:

    Oops– Thought regurgitation! I didn’t mean it to sound quite so gross.

  50. Doctor J Says:

    @AnonStaff, I expect to see another large contingent at the next board meeting addressing these very issues. Why has the MDEA gone so silent on these issues ? You need to prepare your own list of issues to present to the Board members via email prior to the Board meeting. JBM is famous for putting lipstick on a Pig and conveniently leaving off the most volitile issues. Lawrence said he wants this delayed until the spring — get real Steven, your days are numbered, 366. Gary and Sherry, having input, if it is really considered and incorporated, is much different from Kate McC’s style of wink and nod.

  51. Theresa Harrington Says:

    If this appears on another board agenda, I will be very interested to hear Trustee Lynne Dennler’s comments, since she attended all five sessions.
    MIke Langley told me MDEA was an impartial observer. Also, he said he was only able to attend a few sessions because of negotiations. Likewise, Julie Braun-Martin was not able to stay for the entire time, due to negotiations, Langley said. However, he seemed pleased that she thought it was important enough to check in on the process.
    Langley didn’t mention whether Superintendent Lawrence was there.

  52. g Says:

    Maybe Lawrence wants to wait until Spring to see who might be coming available from CVCHS with bumping rights. Then he could avoid the appearance of retaliation against teachers who rock his boat.

  53. Doctor J Says:

    The Mount teachers are having the wool pulled over their eyes just like the CVHS teachers were when they agreed to the District’s request for a Charter response extension, only to be met with 56 onerous conditions and a battle the entire way. After that it was only with the strength of the CV community backing up the teachers that kept the relentless pressure and dirty tricks from Dent from destroying the Charter movement. Unless MDEA steps up, I am afraid that the Mount teachers lack the unifying force of the community to be able to fight tooth and nail for the truth and for a sound educational plan for Mount. It was no accident that the Jan 30 musical chairs left little time for real consolidated input from the teachers as a group, but instead divided them into small bunches so they could not collaborate.

  54. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#51, won’t Lynne Dennler return your phone calls to disucss this with you before the meeting ? Or is she under the wing of Linda Mayo ? Why has Dan gone so silent ?

  55. g Says:

    Dr. J You are correct that the musical chairs approach was a slick maneuver. You are also correct that Mount would not be able to pull a community together. Thanks to the District, the Mount of my youth no longer has a community. Unlike Clayton/south Concord, Mount has only miles and miles of spread out and very disparate family lifestyles and neighborhoods.

  56. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have been working on other stories and haven’t yet tried calling Trustee Lynne Dennler. I also haven’t tried calling teacher Dan Reynolds. He told me he reads the blogs, but does not comment on them.
    Superintendent Steven Lawrence said he would check back in with MDHS in the spring to see if the plans were being implemented. But, the first question is whether the plans will be revised based on the teacher input.

  57. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#56 That’s a laugher — Lawrence check back in the Spring over a school he is the direct supervisor of ? I guess he needs to take Management 101. As far as Gary’s intestinal pains, is there a written ageement with the City of Clayton about the gym ? What goes around, comes around.

  58. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Clayton Councilman David Shuey today disputed district General Counsel Greg Rolen’s claim that he had called the Clayton attorney on Jan. 23, as he told the board. According to Shuey, the city attorney had not heard from Rolen.
    I pointed out to Eberhart that I don’t recall any joint meetings between the district board and city councils since Gary McHenry was superintendent. Shuey said he doesn’t recall ever having such a joint meeting with the district.
    When I used to cover the city of Walnut Creek, I recall that City Council complaining that MDUSD was not as receptive to having joint meetings as district officials in Walnut Creek and Acalanes.
    Shuey said he heard that MDUSD held a meeting with city managers of every city in the district except Clayton, to discuss the proposed joint sales tax increases. It appears that Clayton is feeling snubbed yet again.
    I also recall that McHenry used to present “State of the District” reports to the Concord Chamber of Commerce. I don’t believe those are occurring anymore either.
    I attended the Pleasant Hill Education Advisory Committee meeting this month for the first time and was struck by the fact that there was no district representative on the committee. Instead, committee members reported to each other about district business without any corroboration by a district official, It would seem that if a committee is established for the express purpose of improving communication with the district, and advocating for Pleasant Hill, that a district official should at least be invited to attend the meetings to respond to questions and concerns that are raised.
    Also, there was no comprehensive report about the meeting between Pleasant Hill parents and Superintendent Lawrence regarding the charter. It was referenced in passing, without any information about the substance or outcome of the meeting.

  59. Doctor J Says:

    Regarding Rolen’s record of telling the truth — he has none. MDUSD is totally disfunctional in dealing with the various local cities within the district boundaries. Today marks the TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY of Steven Lawrence as Supt, and the district fails to communicate with parents, fails to communicate with local governments, and most significantly fails to communicate with teachers and administrators. The district is spinning out of control from a lack of leadership from the Supt and from the Board, three of whom are in a triparte majority but have accomplished nothing, while letting state grants be in default. Its a very sad state of affairs.

  60. Anon Says:

    Once more with feeling-review the 2008 Grand Jury Report No 0906. “Conclusion: The administrative and financial functions of the Mount Diablo School District have been in chaos.” It is no better today. The District squandered millions. Brian Lawrence called them out. David Shuey joins the chorus. The District is still chaos. http://www.cc-courts.org/_data/n_0038/resources/live/Report%200906.pdf

  61. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Perhaps Clayton and Mount Diablo HS parents could ask to have private meetings with the superintendent, like the Pleasant Hill parents did.

  62. Anon Says:

    the squeaky wheel gets the grease . . .

  63. Wait a minute Says:

    Don’t forget,

    The superintendent who replaced Stevie Lawrence in West Sac said that he found an appalling lack of communication and distrust between that district and the community and various constitutent groups.

    Houston, we have a problem–and a pattern here with Stevie Lawrence.

  64. Theresa Harrington Says:

    WAM: Many people praised Lawrence for his community partnerships during the MDUSD board interview in West Sacramento before he was hired.

  65. Wait a minute Says:

    From what I have been told many of the people who “praised” him, did so in the hopes of getting rid of him!

  66. Just J Says:

    This is the problem. People need to stop giving glowing reports in hopes of getting rid of the garbage.
    It is time to stop passing the trash around and out rite FIRE the bad ones. Change is happening in many states and the only way it will happen here is if we the people start demanding it!

    Mount should go Charter and take back their school! There is absolutly no reason why these kids should fail.

    Does anyone remember Lawrence going from school to school and promising response to questions from the public…..Well I am still waiting for responses to my questions (2 years and counting) It is time to clean house at the District office. We can start with Lawrence, Rolen and Brown!!!!

  67. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Since I have worked at the Times, I have seen the Walnut Creek City Council part ways with former City Manager Mike Parness, the Martinez schools superintendent leave for Monterey amid controversy, and MDUSD Superintendent Gary McHenry step down when he didn’t see eye to eye with trustees. In all these instances, the administrators didn’t do anything so egregious that it warranted firing. But they had differences of opinion with their elected leaders and divided support from employees and the public.
    Yet, all of these leaders were able to land new jobs easily. Parness went to Napa and McHenry is in Inglewood. In covering these turnovers and speaking to headhunters who help fill such positions, I have found that there are very few people qualified to do these jobs, so they tend to just bounce from one to another around the state.

  68. anon Says:

    TH#67. I’m shocked that you would make a statement that McHenry’s only issue was that he didn’t see eye to eye with the board. Perhaps you should go back and research some of the reporting that was done while McHenry was here. Perhaps you should take a look at the progress that’s being made in Inglewood since McHenry has joined that district. I’m certainly not on here in support of Steven Lawrence, but to in any way categorize McHenry’s departure as a difference of opinion with the board is absurd.

  69. Doctor J Says:

    OMG, I can hear Lawrence whinning now to the Board: you didn’t let me bring in my own “team” instead you saddled me with Gary McHenry’s team with 3 year extensions before I even got here. Funny how each Supt seems to bring with them, their trusted sidekick. McHenry had Alan Young follow him around, and Lawrence has Sue Brothers. Kind of a Cisco Kid/Pancho syndrome.

  70. Anon Says:

    Anon #68
    I wanted McHenry gone as much as anyone but in retrospect I have to ask myself, “What has changed?”
    Has this District gained the community’s trust and confidence that we believed was missing because of McHenry? Have we seen a rise in student acheivement? Has the District’s customer service improved? The lines of communication? The relationship with teachers? Transparency? Fiscal responsibility? Strategic planning?

    Nothing has changed. The school board made the mistake of hiring the wrong individual as Superintendent. It is 100% their fault and the BIGGEST mistake they have made to date. This mistake encompasses all. Lawrence possesses very few of the qualities that the School Board SAID they wanted in a Superintendent.

    So while it is easy to point out McHenry’s flaws I suspect many of the problems, past and present, lay at the feet of the three remaining Board members.

  71. Wait a minute Says:

    My take on McHenry is that he was simply incompetent.

    Lawrence is every bit as incompetent and is extremely manipulative, dishonest and narciccistic as well.

  72. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#70 Why did Lawrence’s former district have so many applicants as opposed to MDUSD for Supt ? Two different Board approaches. The MDUSD board kept on Dick Nichol for a year as the “interim” Supt and then gave 3 year extenstions to the Asst. Supts and Rolen. That way the Board under Eberhart and Strange, could control and micromanage Lawrence. The WUSD board took a different approach. They hired an experienced and highly respected retired Supt, Michele Lawrence from Berkeley, to come in and clean house before hiring the new Supt, who didn’t take long to send Sue Brothers to Siberia looking for a new job. Now WUSD has API scores that are rising dramatically, and MDUSD gained just “two points” last year on API after the first year of SASS — Lawrence’s brainchild. Since then, Lawrence has unilaterally managed to orchestrate CVCHSchartergate, QEIAgate, and now Mountgate. Everything Midas touched turned to gold. Everything Lawrence touches turns to $#&@.

  73. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I believe Lawrence would count passage of Measure C and the largest K-12 solar project in the country as achievements.
    Also, as Lisa Boje pointed out in her SIG presentation, many districts’ applications were not deemed to be fundable. MDUSD did what it needed to do to get those grants for Meadow Homes and Oak Grove. Now, it has to follow through on its promises. That’s where leadership, training and oversight come in.

    WAM: Did you ever meet McHenry? He was not incompetent. He could not have lasted as long as he did if he were. Being superintendent of MDUSD is not an easy job. Unfortunately, neither McHenry nor Lawrence embraced open, transparent, responsive government. I recently met Terry Koehne, the PIO for the San Ramon Valley school district, and was struck by the difference in their approach to their community. They actually survey the community to find out what the public thinks they are doing right and where they could improve. MDUSD, on the other hand, doesn’t ask and isn’t very responsive when people give unsolicited opinions.

    Anon: There are still people who staunchly support McHenry and feel he was treated unfairly. I hear both sides. I agree there was more to his departure than not seeing eye to eye with the board. He made mistakes and the IRS penalty is one of his legacies. I didn’t mean to minimize the problems that arose under his tenure and appreciate your perspective.

  74. Anon #70 Says:

    The fact that Lawrence may consider the passage of Measure C and the implementation of a $100 mil solar project his accomplishments (keeping in mind that in many ways they are one in the same) speaks directly to the point. These projects will not fare well for Lawrence over time.

    He is scrambling to keep his bonds from becoming another “gate”. How many advanced refundings will it take to be able to sell the remaining bonds? How many times will they get away with selling small lots of bonds to close the gap up to $60? At some point they will just give up and REALLY break that political promise of not raising the voter’s tax rate (of course they have already broken that promise but not enough to enrage the community). Quite frankly the alternative is worse – they could continue to sell capital appreciation bonds and really sock it to the taxpayer. Before Gary Eberhart goes off in another school board meeting about how much money they are saving the taxpayers he may want to take a class (on his dime) on how bonds work, time value of money, net present value, how to hire a Superintendent.

  75. g Says:

    We don’t want to forget that waaay back when, Eberhart was on the McHenry Rah-Rah Hiring Squad. Ten years later, in order to redirect the negative attention away from himself, the board, and their own gross lack of oversight and due diligence he formed a Firing Squad.

    It is interesting to go back and read all that went on around getting rid of McHenry The Online Petition:
    “We the undersigned, demand that the Board of Trustees of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District remove Mr. Gary McHenry, the current District Superintendent, from his position. Under his management the District continues to be impacted by, among other things, errors in budgeting, inability to settle employee contracts, lack of long range strategic planning, historically low employee morale, poor communications, poor customer service, and lack of community trust. Superintendent Gary McHenry cannot correct the problems of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District and cannot win back the employee spirit and community trust. Superintendent Gary McHenry must be replaced immediately”.

    Deja vu!

    Or in the 2/4/08 Clayton Pioneer, Mayo staunchly defending McHenry and his successes while Eberhart/Strange are calling on the people to finish him off.

    Read back on the Eberhart/Whitmarsh targets and campaign promises… and

    When you stop laughing, take that Petition and change the name to Steven Lawrence. You will not have to delete a single one of the complaints, but you can add pages of new ones. Don’t forget to add the several million dollars of our various grant dollars, down the drain.

    Once again, the students suffer under the same lack of Board oversight and due diligence that we had in 2008–but we can now add a gross lack of transparency and accountability.

  76. Anon #70 Says:

    G,
    Thank you for confirming exactly what I remember.

  77. Anon Says:

    G #75 – Well said.

  78. Theresa Harrington Says:

    G: One difference is that the MDEA teachers’ union voted No Confidence in McHenry. So far, no district union has taken that step regarding Lawrence. Although the classified employees appear to be getting more and more frustrated with more work, less hours and what appears to be a lack of responsiveness from the district regarding their demands to have hours reinstated before officials consider giving teachers a raise.

  79. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have just posted a new blog about the Monday meeting at MDHS, along with follow-up Wednesday: http://bit.ly/y7g24x
    Some teachers may speak during public comment next Monday.

Leave a Reply