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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. Theresa Harrington Says:

    At a recent board meeting, one member of the public (who I believe is on the EL Master Plan task force) said the district should have an in-house interpreter. The mistakes pointed out by Dr. J may not reflect well on the district’s attempts to reach out to the Spanish-speaking community.
    Also, I was at Meadow Homes Elementary yesterday, which is not designated as a TK site. Staff members there worry that students eligible for TK may not be able to get to Fair Oaks Elementary, so may end up losing out on the program. Many parents who were there to hear about the EL Master Plan arrived with strollers, having walked from their nearby homes.

  2. Doctor J Says:

    English Learners probably need TK more than anyone else — what is the district thinking ? Or is it business as usual — not thinking and just bean counting ?

  3. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It appears that the district tried to find sites in each feeder pattern. There is no TK site in Walnut Creek, so those parents would be expected to drive their kids to Woodside Elementary, which is in Concord, near the Walnut Creek border.
    It’s unclear if equity was considered in terms of need and parents’ ability to get to TK. Those who can’t afford preschool will likely keep their kids home, which is unlikely to prepare them for kindergarten. I don’t know if the district’s new Equity Policy was considered when the sites were chosen.
    Also, I haven’t heard yet whether bilingual TK classes would be offered. Teachers of bilingual classes at Meadow Homes said they are very beneficial for English learners.

  4. 2busymom Says:

    Is TK going forward, even though Brown eliminated funding? If so, where is the funding coming from?

  5. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It’s still up in the air, since the Legislature hasn’t yet decided if it will back the governor’s plan. Opposition is mounting from TK supporters.
    Also, the district could opt to provide it using general fund money for the first few months of school. It would begin receiving funding for the students when they turn 5 in November.
    The governor is proposing the elimination of most “categorical” restricted funding, which gives districts greater flexibility for how they spend their money. Some districts, like Oakland, have decided that TK is a priority and they plan to offer it no matter what.
    Since MDUSD still hasn’t completed its strategic plan, it’s unclear what it’s top priorities are. Perhaps this will be raised during the strategic planning meeting Feb. 22.

  6. g Says:

    When the person spoke in favor of having an In-house Interpreter, he probably knew what he was talking about. I’ve only been tracking spending for year or so, but;

    Case in point: Marisol Padilla, owner of Advanced Interpreting Service, in June 2010 was given a contract for $20K. In Dec, 2010 Dent came to the Board saying: “We have a contract of $20,000.00 which we have almost exhausted. We need to increase the contract to $75,000 to cover services for the rest of the school year”.

    Typical of either Mildred Brown’s poor research and planning–or planned-under-funding in order to gain the first and then subsequent approvals? Marisol Padilla gets paid nearly every month for between 2 and 5 “services”, ranging from several hundred dollars to three to four thousand dollars each and it seems to me they are all for “Spanish” translation. While her company purports to have translators for many other languages, I would agree that in a District this size we should not be paying someone else up to $10K per month for Spanish Interpreters.

    Why are payments made out to the individual, Marisol Padilla, instead of the company name. That just doesn’t seem like ‘good business’. Then again, I see this happening on many “outside services”.

    When Dent does take a contract to the Board, why does Dent (over and over again) sign contracts or alter prior amounts and make them effective as of (in this 2011 case) July 1st, but not get them (rubber-stamp) approved by board until August 9th? Why did this year’s contract not mention last year’s contract, or the amounts (and changes) from last year?

    At $55.00 per hour for Spanish interpretation, how can one “case” cost well over $3,000.00 in just one month? There are more than one “case” costing this much.

    This is typical of one of those contracts that will not have to go up for Accountability Review since (by increments) it falls under the new $100K criteria.

    “”””It’s unclear if equity was considered in terms of need and parents’ ability to get to TK.”””” Well, it’s very clear equity is not considered in a lot of decisions until some other arthority points it out to them. Perhaps if we weren’t spending through the nose for outside Spanish interpreters, we could afford to spread the “equity” out.

  7. Doctor J Says:

    Marisol Padilla might qualify for nomination for the MDUSD Golden Fleece award.

  8. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Another interesting thing about the AIS contract is that it requires a minimum of two hours of payment, even if the translator works for 30 minutes:
    I’ve heard that many of the meetings for which an interpreter is required don’t last two hours. Yet, no one has so far questioned this apparent padding in the contracts.

  9. David "Shoe" Shuey, Councilperson, City of Clayton Says:

    Interestingly, there are similar problems with custodial contracts that require minimum payments if a custodian is brought out regardless of actual time. While taken seperately they may not add up to a lot but in the aggregate they may be a huge waste. I would hope that this does not continue

  10. g Says:

    Well, Marisol does have to travel all the way from Walnut Creek!

    Read a contract before applying the Rubber Stamp? Ask to actually see an invoice once in a while, at least? Please–these are busy people like Ditto Mayo who “rely on their staff’s judgement”!

  11. g Says:

    Another question. Do Special Ed laws require that the District pay for after school care AND Karate lessons? Can Karate lessons actually be part of an IEP?

  12. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Custodian overtime was one of the frustrations that UMDAF had. Here was their proposal, which I believe the board adopted:
    “1. During the holidays continue to have one custodian working the night shift, or at least night shift on nights with home basketball or wrestling events are scheduled.  This will save overtime custodial costs for these events.  It will be the principal or their designee responsibility to create the custodial schedule for Thanksgiving, winter and spring vacations at least 30 days prior to the vacation dates.  
    2. Schedule a night custodian at each high school campus to work Tuesday – Saturday.  Tuesday –Friday the custodian would work their current afternoon/evening schedule and on Saturdays they would work 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.  This would reduce the cost of custodial overtime needed on the weekends due to athletic practices and competitions.”

  13. Theresa Harrington Says:

    When has the district paid for karate lessons? I have been hearing that it is noncompliant in terms of special ed assistants, so it’s surprising it has enough money to pay for karate lessons.

  14. g Says:

    My apologies Theresa and all. My search brought up two same name local companies and I probably jumped on the wrong one. It looks like it may be $6,200. for SpEd summer camp, not karate.

  15. g Says:

    To continue: It seems that if we pay for IEP required activities, considering the amounts, we should be paying directly under some written contract with the facilities, rather than cash reimbursement to the parent.

    Perhaps another Spec Ed parent could weigh in. Does/would the District have to pay for your kid’s “after school care” and “eight weeks of Summer care”? If the regular NPS year is Aug to June, like most are, who is responsible for the rest of the time? The state requires special ed, which I absolutely agree with, but does it require the taxpayers to pay for what I would consider babysitting outside of regular school hours?

  16. Doctor J Says:

    @Shoe#59; Its not just school districts. Take a look at your police officers contracts; I will bet they have a minimum, maybe 4 hours if they are required to go to court for a speeding ticket that might bring $30 of revenue to the city, and cost the city $300 or $400 in police wages for a one hour court hearing. Might be better to go to a warning system except for repeat offenders or high speeds. Just saying.

  17. anon Says:

    @ Dr J #50: yes, Rolen has a relationship with AIS that has not been disclosed (to say the least)

  18. g Says:

    I seem to remember there were also some battles over questionable custodial costs last year when Clayton was trying to get that tiny little right-of-way at Mountain View?

  19. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: I believe the dispute between the city of Clayton and the district regarding the gym is related to custodial costs.

    Anon: Is it a relationship that should be disclosed by law?

  20. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#67, I think Rolen signed off on both the AIS contracts per the Board agenda entry. @TH, depends on the kind of relationship.

  21. g Says:

    Anon, when you gave your figures for AIS in your comment at #49 you misspoke the current amount. The contract on 7/1/2010 was $20K, then in Dec 2010, they raised it to $75K, and then on 5/24/2011 they came back to the board for an additional 17grand and raised it yet again to $92K. So $20K grew to $92K in 10 months, scribbled onto the same contract.

    So now this year, they went ahead and “started” Ms Padilla’s new contract in June, 2011 at $83,990.00. What we have to watch out for is more scribbling in the dollar column.

    I’d be looking for a bunch of “relationships” even if Rolen did not sign any of the requests.

    Was there a bid put out for a professional Interpreting Service last year–this year–ever? I can’t find one.

  22. anon Says:

    Theresa (regarding your question-#69): I don’t know if by law, it must be disclosed; maybe, Dr J can provide the legalities. But if cronyism/favoritism is the predominant reason a contract was approved (which to my knowlege-is indeed the case), then it seems highly appropriate that this relationship be disclosed. In addition, why wasn’t a contract of this cost put up for bids so that other companies could compete? As taxpayers, we have a right to know and trust that our tax dollars are being spent wisely.

  23. Just J. Says:

    G #65. Are you talking summer camp or summer school? You mentioned NPS. Most of the NPS programs have so many hours of intense instruction then there are some fun activities that would fall in the catagory of therapy Like swimming or music and maybe art When you have a child at NPS they are working extremely hard to stay caught up and therapy can be made fun. I have to say that the NPS programs have it down. They keep kids minds going in the right direction. Since most of the NPS programs are quite a distance from our area the kids should stay for the extra hour to do the fun stuff. This gives them the balance they need to drive an hour each way do the work and have some fun.

  24. anon Says:

    G: (71) Rolen can’t be the only signature on the AIS contract. I agree: there are “bunches of relationships” otherwise the AIS contract couldn’t have been processed. My question is: what control /relationships does Rolen have with the supt/board that supports his outside relationship?

  25. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#72 I can’t speak regarding the legalities, but the FPPC Form must disclose his financial relationships, and I believe there is a District Conflict of Interest policy too. There might be a State Bar disclosure requirement too. Just because he might “know” someone, isn’t enough. There must be more. Well, I guess it depends on your definition of “know” said Bill Clinton. 🙂

  26. g Says:

    Just J; I’m talking about over $6200.00 for 8 weeks of special ed billed as “Summer Camp” that’s about 5 minutes from the kid’s home.

    I don’t know your full circumstances, but if you wanted to, could you have MDUSD pay full costs for a full 12 month, all day, out of district, plus after school, plus daily private transportation for your child?

    I know we also have several special needs children flung to the far reaches of the country for months at a time, and the District pays the bill, even it seems, the cost of out of state transportation. I just don’t understand how that fits into the Ed Code requirements, nor do I fully understand what types of expenses are reimbursed by Fed and State.

    But I do know the spec ed program as it stands needs about $40 million from the Gen Ed account just to make spec ed ends meet.

    Even at that extra $40 million cost, the District “shorts” the LOCAL special education children’s needs.

  27. Just J. Says:

    You are right G. Special Ed needs to be seriously looked at. It is not rocket science to figure out its not working. There are many ways to meet the needs of all kids at lower costs. Of course there will always be that one exception. Mdusd refuses to use the right programs to teach the kids. I am not sure where the disconnect is but there is a disconnect.

    I am guessing if the district is paying for what they are it is cheaper than being sued. They fight most everyone for the basic services. So it’s either a settlement or a child of a VIP. I don’t know the case so I can only guess.

  28. g Says:

    Apparently the AIS contract is “strictly” for paper work, and there is NO student interaction, as Ms. Stuckey-Smith signed off on the contract that neither the owner of the company, Marisol Padilla, nor any of the subcontractors she hires for other languages need to be fingerprinted.

  29. Doctor J Says:

    @G#78 Paperwork only ? How can there be a two hour minimum for paperwork ? So if there is a 15 minute job that is faxed or emailed, Marisol Padilla charges a two hour minimum ? That doesn’t make sense.

  30. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The district’s draft EL Master Plan requires the district to provide written translations of all school information when 15 percent or more of the school’s students speak the same language.
    Reminder: tomorrow at 3 p.m. is the deadline to comment on the draft plan. Here’s a blog post with an excerpt of the chapter that deals with instruction:

  31. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No MDUSD high schools competed in the 2012 Contra Costa County Academic Decathlon, in which Lamorinda schools swept first through third place:

  32. g Says:

    Dr. J: Although the duties of the contract indicate interpreters WILL work with children who are being “assessed”, I have to just assume that must be by paper only. The contract indicates it has to get final sign off by the Budget Administrator, but based on last years contract, I guess a Student Administrator is allowed to assume that authority.

    Surely a past principal/student administrator of our MDUSD would not allow “on-call” strangers to work closely with our children to help with translation without having them fingerprinted and on file.

    The oft’ revised 2010 contract, presented to the board on 5/24/2011(scribbles and all) has all the signatures.

    The new 7/1/2011 contract that was presented to the board on Aug 9 without any signatures, but the “does not need to fingerprint” on bottom of page 3 is already checked off. Sad.

  33. g Says:

    Theresa @ 80. How does that 15% population base requirement jibe with ASI’s May bill for: Mongolian, Russian, Farsi, Korean, Serbo-Croatian, and Arabic? It doesn’t. They spend without regard for tomorrow, and leave other needy kids out altogether!

  34. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Maybe special ed is an exception. Another question is how long is an IEP? If it only lasts 30 minutes, the district is paying $110 for a job that should cost $27.50. Are these translating costs paid out of special ed funds?

  35. g Says:

    The payments are accounted to various programs and functions. Some to special ed, some to student services, some to “other” student services. Then all are spread again district-wide with the 000 site code.

  36. 925mom Says:

    Re vendor warrants and spending: I have noticed that sometimes a student’s name is referenced in the description column of the warrants. I am wondering if posting a child’s name on a district website (without parental consent), as well as associating the child with a vendor who provides a specific service, violates any privacy laws (FERPA or Children’s Internet Protection Act etc.) Depending on the vendor and the description, I can see who has an IEP, who is in litigation, who goes to a specialized camp, who sees a physical or occupational therapist, psychologist etc. Sometimes a student’s full name is used, sometimes no student name is referenced, and other times a first name and last initial is used. I know that the district has to make the warrants public, but I was surprised to see full names and services included.

    Theresa: I would say that very few IEP meetings last 30 minutes or less. And yes, if the team thinks that karate lessons are necessary for a student to reach a social/emotional/behavior/academic goal or access the curriculum, then karate lessons would be a service that is paid for by the district.

  37. anon Says:

    according to district policy, students are not even allowed to interact on stage with any school assembly presenters who have not been fingerprinted. And assemblies take place in front of at least 200 students and 10 certificated teachers. How AIS got exempt from fingerprinting is a cause for concern.

  38. Doctor J Says:

    @G#83 Where is the itemized billing that an auditor can determine to whom the service were provided ? This summary billing is a joke with “estimated” services.

  39. Theresa Harrington Says:

    MDHS Amnesty International students have launched a “Pissing is a Human Right” campaign to protest locked restrooms:

  40. Wait a Minute Says:


    Once again the MDUSD’s so-called “leaders” again show their incompetence at preventing or solving even very ” basic” problems.

  41. Doctor J Says:

    Toiletgate: Nice jingle TH, “Nowhere to go”. School Restroom Maintenance Complaint Form Can you just imagine these forms being passed out by students around campus ? What a hands on lesson in civics, eh ?
    Check out the address where the complaint forms are sent: West Sacramento. I wonder how close that is to Lawrence’s former WUSD office ? Probably within #issing distance. [sorry couldn’t resist]

  42. Doctor J Says:

    District administrators must be reading the blogs again. SHEZAM ! says Gomer Pyle. New Spanish translation up on Transitional Kindergarten. How much did the correct translation cost us ?

  43. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Too bad the district’s “Translate this page” tab doesn’t apply to the TK page:
    The district doesn’t even have to hire anyone to use that.

  44. anon Says:

    SHEZAM: the supt finds time to send out a letter regarding alternatives toCVCHS; but, NO letter to parents or teachers regarding alternatives to MDHS should they be in opposition to the McClatchey’s calculated decision to sabotage QEIA funds. Face it: CVCHS is a done deal; but the teachers, students, and parents at MDHS are still fuming.

  45. g Says:

    Dr.J.@88: Hopefully, all translators have to come in to our offices to do all of their work under very close supervision. This lady may or may not have friends in high places, but frankly I would not want my family’s private information to be allowed to just float around off campus with an unprofessional company that apparently does not have private mail or private offices or even reasonable invoicing systems in place.

    I suspect she is a one-woman employment agency. If you need something besides Mexican Spanish (and as you’ve seen, Filipino Spanish won’t do) you tell her what language you need translated, and for $130.00 minimum she’ll go grab someone from the nearest college campus, employment aid office or the “help wanted-translations” bulletin board at $15.00/hour.

    Even if we very carefully guard contact with the children, the thought of just giving stranger access to student/parent records and maybe even Dent computers makes me itch.

  46. Theresa Harrington Says:

    “Toiletgate” is putting MDUSD on the map — “The Republic” in Columbus, Indiana has picked up the story:
    It says: California students are “flush with anger.”

  47. g Says:

    COOL on Theresa! I also saw it on the Marin IJ. Glad you’re getting more attention/coverage from upstairs.

  48. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The Bellingham Herald in Washington also has the story:

  49. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s video of the man who said MDUSD should hire an in-house translator:

  50. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is a new blog post with links to video clips and excerpts of the comments about Mt. Diablo High from the Feb. 6 board meeting:

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