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Live blog of Feb. 6, 2012 MDUSD Board Meeting

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, February 6th, 2012 at 7:49 pm in Education.

Board President Sherry Whitmarsh reported that trustees discussed litigation, negotiations and the readmission of one student during closes session.  She said the board did not discuss the general counsel’s evaluation or the superintendent’s evaluation, but they hope to go back into closed session at end of tonight’s meeting.

Consent calendar

District resident John Parker objected to the contract amount of item 9.,11, saying it was excessive. Trustee Gary Eberhart pulled this from the consent calendar and Trustee Cheryl Hansen pulled item 9.2, the minutes of the Jan. 23 meeting.

Trustees approved other consent items.

9.11 Mitchell Stark talked about the scope of the Ygnacio Valley High gym project. Said additional info could be brought back. Superintendent Steven Lawrence suggested not to exceed contract. Motion for contract with Hamm and Associates not to exceed $20,522 if it goes to DSA and commensurate reduction in fees if it doesn’t. Carries 5-0.
Video clips of meeting are streaming live at

9.2 Hansen asked that minutes be more comprehensive. Eberhart said it would need to be brought back as an agenda item.

Public comment:

1. John Parker: moment of silence for former teacher Johnny Applegate, who passed away.

Several students, teachers and a parent addressed vote of no confidence in MDHS Principal Kate McClatchy.

District Organizations: A classified union rep asked district to restore the hours that were cut, in light of the district’s reserve of $38 million above what is required.

Superintendent’s Report:
Superintendent Steven Lawrence reported that another bond refunding will come at the next meeting and that more 2010 Measure C bonds may be sold. He also reported that the board would likely hold a special meeting Feb. 21 or Feb. 22 to act on a waiver for the Clayton Valley HS charter’s financial impact. Whitmarsh reminded Lawrence the board plans a Strategic Planning session Feb. 22 and he suggested that both meetings could be held on the same evening.
Lawrence also pointed out that MDEA President Mike Langley will retire at the end of the school year and commended him for his service.

14.1 Walnut Creek Sister Cities International Program: unanimously approved

14.2 New board policy – Transitional Kindergarten: unanimously approved

14.3 Revision to Administrative Rule 5111 – Admission: unanimously approved

14.4 Resolution determining district needs for 2012-13 and adopting criteria for determining order of seniority for those certificated employees with the same date of first paid probationary services. Unanimously approved.

14.5 Williams QAuarterly Summary Report.
No complaints filed.
Unanimously passed.

14.6 Clayton Valley HS attendance area
Unanimously approved as presented.

14.7 Public Input and Informational Meetings for Board and Superintendent
Board unanimously agreed to hold one meeting at each of the district high schools and in Bay Point by May 15.

14.8 School calendar
Unanimously passed.

14.9 Gifts and Bequests – Trustees agreed with policy change. It will be brought back for a vote.

14.10 Progress Report: Trustees agreed with idea. It will be brought back for a vote.

14.l1 Graduation requirements: Trustees had a lengthy conversation about this item, which was raised by Hansen. Lawrence said district saved $1.1 million with lower grad requirements and elimination of summer school. Hansen said she is hearing horror stories about the impacts and wants more discussion in the future. Trustees agreed to discuss again in March, after staff gathers more information.

Trustees reported on their recent activities, then meeting was adjourned in memory of Applegate.

FEB. 7 UPDATE: Here is a link to the audio recording of the meeting:

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129 Responses to “Live blog of Feb. 6, 2012 MDUSD Board Meeting”

  1. former teacher Says:

    Theresa, I am amazed that you are blaming McClatchy for bathroom closures instituted 3 principals ago. You claim that SHE decided. Surely the seniors who are complaining know this problem existed when they were freshmen: This is only McClatchey’s second year! No, I don’t agree with locking bathrooms; I used to keep open and monitor the bathroom nearest my classroom. But the bathrooms not being monitored were being absolutely trashed. Everybody knows why the bathrooms are closed, so your claim that McClatchey “refused” to tell you, added to your accusation that she instituted this policy raises suspicions of bias. I am no longer there to know what is going on, but I believe you need check your facts in order to preserve your credibility.

  2. Doctor J Says:

    Lawrence is going to be the laughing stock over Toiletgate at the Supt’s Asilomar meeting the week following next.

  3. Doctor J Says:

    “Toiletgate” [ur welcome] has gone viral — picked up by Sac Bee and now all over the country. Can’t wait until Leno or Conan use it ! AC360 might pick it up too ! Nice job Theresa !

  4. Flippin' Tired Says:

    Many schools have a Community School Coordinator, who translates flyers and newsletters for their site. They are employees who are fingerprinted by the district. So, in essence, we can have in-house interpreters at each school site. They work on an as-needed basis, not a minimum number of hours per job. Much more cost-efficient; many are parents at the site, so they are helpful making phone calls and interacting with the Spanish-language parents. A win-win for all, yes?

    As for the “relationship” between the AIS owner and the General Counsel, it’s the worst-kept secret in the district. Duh.

  5. Doctor J Says:

    @FT#103 Why are you and everyone else afraid to say what the “relationship” is ?

  6. g Says:

    Theresa, I’m trying to figure out the secret combination, so we can garner a lot more out-of-area attention.

    Is it the term “toilet-gate”, (thanks DrJ) or is it that, if you combine that with words like “pissing” and/or “Amnesty International” in a story, then that story will spread like dandelion seed in the wind…

  7. Doctor J Says:

    Google: diablo toilet McClatchy
    From San Francisco to Boston, this story is viral. One of the comments here on the main story says he has forwarded to the Drudge Report. I still think State Supt. Torlakson’s connection as a “teacher on leave” from Mount would make it more like “norovirus” !!

  8. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Former Teacher: The students I spoke to said there were more restrooms open when they were freshmen and that by the middle of last year, McClatchy had closed all but one — in the shop building. On Monday, a second set was opened in the Home Economics building. Restrooms in the English, Academic and Science buildings are locked. How many restrooms were open when you taught there? When I called McClatchy to ask about the locked restrooms, she responded: “I’m not going to comment on that, thank you.” So, this obviously makes it difficult to get her side of the story. I also left a message for the district’s director of secondary education, but did not hear back from her. In addition, teachers listed the locked restrooms in their vote of No Confidence regarding McClatchy. Did previous principals require students to get tardy passes and pick up trash if they were late because they were waiting for a chance to go to the restroom? I also spoke to MDEA President Mike Langley, who said he has never heard of a school having all but one restroom locked to students before McClatchy assumed leadership of the school. Likewise, Trustee Gary Eberhart did not appear to be aware of locked restrooms on campus under former principals. He said, “It’s one thing to lock one bathroom. But, having only one open is a whole different thing,”
    MDHS Teacher: How many restrooms were open under previous principals?

  9. Anon Says:

    Are there any adults in charge here? Between Eberhart and Lawrence who are demonstrating a stunning lack of leadership; Eberhart getting involved in an issue that is not his role and Lawrence who is missing in action again. Add to that a so-called teacher leader who encourages ” Pissing is a Human Right”and you have the makings of a Saturday Night Live skit, which is where it will probably end up. Any parent in MDUSD looking at this idiocy should start seeking private,charter.or home schooling. This is why the community needs to clean house in November with new board members who will then get a new superintendent.

  10. Doctor J Says:

    Why isn’t Lynne Dennler or Linda Mayo standing up for the Ed Code compliance ? Where are they ?

  11. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Also, later in the meeting, Hansen praised district officials for no Williams violations, apparently unaware that the conditions described by the MDHS students constituted Williams violations.
    So far, I have received two emails from community members who want to file formal complaints regarding the restrooms.

  12. Wait a Minute Says:

    Dr J @102,
    Stevie Lawrence is already the laughingstock in the CA education community as the first Superintendent in NorCal to have a HS succeed from his district under a teacher-trigger conversion charter. I understand at the Dpt of Ed he is being referred to as a dip.

    Now get this, when the West Sac people read about the MDHS’s “Toilet Gate”, they called me to tell me that this locking of most restrooms was common at both the comprehensive and continuation HS there on Stevie Lawrence and Sue Brothers’ watch when they were there.

    This was done for the same reasons, a total lack of control by site administrators (including the one year wonder friend of Sue Brothers who got spanked by the grand jury for falsifying the SSC and SPSA at the cont. HS) over the criminal element at the schools.

    They were plagued by smoking, drug use, fights, sex, and even arson in the bathrooms at those schools to the point where they took the easy way out there and violated those students’ rights by locking the restrooms too!

  13. MDHS Teacher Says:

    I have taught at MDHS for seven years and I have NEVER seen this many bathrooms locked. Many years and principals ago we had just about every bathroom open on campus. We also had a lot more smoking, drinking and sex going on there. The kids are still smoking and drinking at least; maybe not in the bathroom, but somewhere else, and they are probably peeing on a tree while they are doing it. Disgraceful.

    As for Ms McClatchy and her keys: Even hallways in the main office are locked at times to “reduce congestion.” Staff have keys of course, but come on! They even changed the lock on the staff bathroom near my classroom and now I am forced to use the student one (if it’s open) or walk to the main office and unlock two doors to get to a toilet. My bladder hurts just thinking about it.

  14. MDHS Teacher Says:

    Not to mention that MDHS is a sprawling 40 acre campus! With only one or two bathrooms open and only five minutes between classes, there are many students late to class (and made to pick up trash…at least 10 pieces, now!) because they cannot find an open bathroom in time. McClatchy has been hearing the complaints from the teachers and students for MONTHS. Now it sounds like Dr. Lawrence will be hearing from Sacramento when these Williams Case complaints or worse go out. (gulp) Good luck with KateGate.

  15. MDHS Teacher Says:

    Here is where Kate and Steve slipped up: See 3b

  16. Wait for it Says:

    …and 3c…

    KateGate is in full swing now, I just mailed my Williams complaint to the the MDUSD. I’ve done my part to stand up for MDHS students and teachers today.

  17. Theresa Harrington Says:

    MDHS Teacher: Do you mean 2c? 3 only has a and b, which I have posted below:

    “3. Facilities
    a. A condition poses an emergency or urgent threat to the health or safety of students or staff. Emergency or urgent threat means structures or systems that are in a condition that poses a threat to the health and safety of students or staff while at school, including, but not limited to, gas leaks; nonfunctioning heating, ventilation, fire sprinklers, or air-conditioning systems; electrical power failure; major sewer stoppage; major pest or vermin infestation; broken windows or exterior doors or gates that will not lock and that pose a security risk; abatement of hazardous materials previously undiscovered that pose an immediate threat to students or staff; or structural damage creating a hazardous or uninhabitable condition. (Education Code 17592.72)
    b. A school restroom has not been cleaned, maintained, or kept open in accordance with Education Code 35292.5.
    Clean or maintained school restroom means a school restroom has been cleaned or maintained regularly, is fully operational, or has been stocked at all times with toilet paper, soap, and paper towels or functional hand dryers. (Education Code 35292.5)
    Open restroom means, except as necessary for student safety or to make repairs, the school has kept all restrooms open during school hours when students are not in classes and has kept a sufficient number of restrooms open during school hours when students are in classes. (Education Code 35292.5) ”

    I received three photos emailed to me by a student yesterday, which show close-ups of what he says are urine stains underneath the stairwell in the Academic Building, as well as a photo of the boys’ restroom wall in the shop building, which shows that soap and towel dispensers are missing. It must be hard to keep them stocked, if there are no dispensers. I will try to post those photos in a separate blog later today.

    When I spoke to Trustee Gary Eberhart, he said the district administration appeared to believe the graffiti issue was a safety concern. However, based on the guidelines above, it seems clear that graffiti does not rise to the level of a safety concern.

    If the district rectifies the problem, then Sacramento doesn’t need to get involved. According to the CDE rep with whom I spoke, the district has 30 days from receipt of the complaint to remedy the problem and 45 days to respond. If the person who filed the complaint is not satisfied with the district’s response, an appeal can be filed with the state.

    Can the district use QEIA funds to pay for extra campus supervision during breaks? Perhaps that could be another urgent argument for approving the QEIA waiver. Although the SBE may not look favorably on the idea that the state is spending millions of dollars to keep class sizes at MDHS small, but students are missing valuable instructional time waiting for restrooms and picking up trash.

    MDHS Teacher: Can you get a new key for the restroom near your classroom? Do you think the locked hallways present a safety concern in the event of a fire or other emergency?

  18. Doctor J Says:

    School bus money restored — or will Lawrence make kids walk and spend it on raises for administration ?
    No need to readjust elementary boundaries now, but will Lawrence do it anyways to make it more difficult for children to get to school, but obligate the district less on bussing ?

  19. student Says:

    The type of journalism that Theresa Harrington promotes resemblance a TV drama. How come Ms. Harrinton doesn’t get fired from this newspaper?. She insults people, she is biased, writing what it is only covenient for her articles, in other words, unobjective. She is harming the education system, she is not part of those who wants solutions to help students, Ms. harrington creates a bad enviroment for the educational system. she needs to be reassigned to the TV department of Mercury news, if so.

  20. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dear student, I do not believe that I have insulted anyone. However, I do sometimes quote people who are critical of the district. The newspaper encourages its staff to be “watchdog” reporters, who follow government agencies and bring to light issues that government officials may not want the public to know about. I and other reporters at this newspaper push public officials to be transparent and accountable to the public. I believe that school districts and other public agencies should operate with transparency, which should create a good environment for the educational system and enable those who want to work toward solutions to do so together in an open and honest way, with everyone having equal access to information and everyone being given an equal opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns.

  21. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    I can just about guarantee that “student” is Gary E. or Sherry W.

  22. **anon Says:

    the “student” is Sherry W’s

  23. **anon Says:

    @ #121: the “student” is Sherry W’s; guaranteed

  24. MoMx3 Says:

    Theresa, “the student” is proof you’re doing a great job! 🙂 Keep it up!

  25. MDHS Staff Says:

    The ” student” could also be any number of staff members at MDHS who have bad mouthed newspaper coverage of MDUSD and MDHS issues and who would just like to sweep things under the rug.

  26. Anon Says:

    Good journalism is finding a second source-Diablo Magazine confirms MDUSD is overwhelmed

  27. MoMx3 Says:

    I am confident that at one time it was with good intention these board members decided to jump on the leadership bandwagon. Hansen has nothing to be ashamed of so far, I admire her willingness to swim against the tide. However, if I were Sherry, Gary, or Linda, I’d be embarrassed at the mess this district has become under their “leadership.” They are a mess. They’ve let the wrong people run rogue for too long. They wanted tighter control over McHenry, but look what has happened? We’ve gone full circle. We need a monumental shift on our school board. Not Brian Lawrence, who unfortunately for him, made the decision at last election to allow Gary to sing his praises and align himself with the then board majority.

    We need strong personalities, people not afraid to stand up for what is right. People not afraid of new ideas. People not afraid to make the huge changes that are needed.

    Who else is rumored to be running? I hope some from Walnut Creek or Pleasant Hill where they’ve both long pushed for change in their own schools and their own desires to leave the district… since that isn’t likely to happen in the next 4 years (if ever) why not jump in and try to make change here?

  28. Wait a minute Says:

    So “Student/Chevron Sherry” @121,
    did you know that a Free Press is necessary to having a Democratic Society?

    The only “Drama” here is that which you and your buddy Eberhart have wrought onto this district with you many unethical and unwise hires and decisions.

    Your lame attempt to steer the solar contract to your employeer is all that we need to know about why you ran for the board to begin with.

  29. Doctor J Says:

    Frequency of Supt & Gen Counsel evaluations this fiscal year: Since July 1, 2011, appearing on the Agendas as follows: July 26: Supt & Gen C.; Nov 28: Supt; Jan 9: Supt & Gen C; Jan 23: Gen C; Feb 2: Gen C; Feb 6: Supt & Gen C; Feb 27: Supt & Gen C; Mar 6: Supt. The trend is clear — they have gone from infrequent to frequent on the agendas. There is some claim that some of these were on the agenda but may not have occurred — and some of that is because there wasn’t enough time to get “both” evaluations in during the same meeting — wonder why ?

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