Part of the Bay Area News Group

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:

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

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

  1. Doctor J Says:

  2. g Says:

    No one on the Board read, or questioned the wrong dates on the 9.4 PIP item.

    Item 9.2 (10.2) Require an Action vote to ‘include dialogue’ on the Minutes???

    When did we have an Action vote to ‘eliminate dialogue’ on minutes???

    That is ridiculous Mr. Brick-Wall Eberhart!!!

  3. Doctor J Says:

    @G I move to correct your comment. It should be “Brick-Head”. Is there a second ?

  4. Doctor J Says:

    If the Board holds the CVCHS waiver meeting the same night as Strategic Planning, it will again derail Strategic Planning.

  5. Doctor J Says:

    Why was Lawrence so emphatic about when the CVCHS waiver be held ? Procrastination again — he’s up against another CDE deadline of Feb 27 or he gets pushed from the May meeting to the July meeting ! Ten days published notice !! Watch the ad section !!

  6. Doctor J Says:

    Last night continued great dissatisfaction at Kate McClatchy and MDUSD for failure to sincerely address issues at MDHS. Watch the comments at What is status of the districts efforts to solve the issues ? What is the status of the QEIA waiver ? What is MDEA doing about it ?

  7. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The teachers reported on the status, but the district did not. Trustee Gary Eberhart asked staff to let the board know how many restroom facilities the school has and how many are available, but it was unclear if this information would come back in a formal report to the board.
    District resident Brian Lawrence commented later that the board meeting structure is flawed because trustees don’t respond to public comments. But, he did commend Eberhart for asking a question of staff about the restrooms.
    Actually, trustees can respond, they just can’t deliberate or take action. Many elected officials in other agencies, such as City Councils, do respond to public comments. At the County Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Joe Ovick responded to Joe Partansky’s comments about the agenda. It’s unclear why MDUSD board members are so reluctant to acknowledge public comments. Now that they are no longer meeting on Tuesdays, perhaps they can watch the Concord and Walnut Creek City Council meetings and see how other elected officials give the public the perception that they are listening and care about what the public has to say.

  8. Doctor J Says:

    The Board should be more proactive in response to the public comments and request more followup from staff. MDUSD Board Bylaw 9323 allows Board trustees to respond to the public. It says in part: “3. Without taking action, Board members or district staff members may briefly respond to statements made or questions posed by the public about items not appearing on the agenda. Additionally, on their own initiative or in response to questions posed by the public, a Board or staff member may ask a question for clarification, make a brief announcement, or make a brief report on his/her own activities. (Government Code 54954.2)
    Furthermore, the Board or a Board member may provide a reference to staff or other resources for factual information, ask staff to report back to the Board at a subsequent meeting concerning any matter, or take action directing staff to place a matter of business on a future agenda. (Government Code 54954.2)”

  9. Theresa Harrington Says:

    NOTE: This comment has been edited to clarify Brian Lawrence’s comment.

    Dr. J: The options described in the board policy outline the way other elected officials commonly respond to public comments.
    I videotaped Brian Lawrence’s comments, but am not sure if they were on Qik or Flip video. Essentially, he said the board often appears similar to the Soviet Politburo- stone-faced and non-responsive. He appeared to attribute this lack of responsiveness to the board meeting structure. Trustees have the ability to respond. In most cases, however, they choose not to.

  10. Doctor J Says:

    NOTE: This comment has been edited at the request of Dr. J to accurately reflect Brian Lawrence’s quote.

    I hope Brian reads my blog post — his opinion that board members are “stone-faced and non-responsive” will be fortified knowing that the board meeting structure is not flawed. Maybe those Board members who secretly read this blog will come out of their caccoon next meeting during Public Comment ! Steven Lawrence get your pencil and pad ready — you might get some homework !

  11. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: Please note that I was paraphrasing Brian Lawrence’s comments from memory, so I wouldn’t put them in quotes. I will have to review the video and my notes to get a verbatim quote.

  12. Doctor J Says:

    I believe this was the second meeting in a row where the Mount bathroom policy and conditions were critcized — and Kate McClatchy was at the first meeting and heard it, yet it continued. It was appropriate for Gary to ask the question, but he should have gone one step further and asked for a written report to be place on the next agenda.

  13. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Or, Lawrence could report on it during his Superintendent’s Report.

  14. 2busymom Says:

    I took a class at Mt. Diablo 14 years ago, through Mt. Diablo Adult Ed. The bathrooms were beyond atrocious then, so sad to hear they are still bad.

  15. Doctor J Says:

    You would think that Supt Lawrence, as McClatchy’s direct supervisior, would have asked for an immediate resolution to the bathroom issue two weeks ago. Yet, it comes up again. All he had to do two weeks ago was pick up the phone and dial Kate. Apparently Kate was not bright enough to pick up on it two weeks ago on Jan 23.

  16. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It’s unclear whether this is McClatchy’s idea or whether this is a district-directed response to vandalism and teens smoking in restrooms. Pat Middendorf told me that at least one restroom on the Clayton Valley HS campus is also locked because it is in a remote location and administrators fear students might not use the restroom appropriately. Of course, this response penalizes students who need to use the restrooms. Middendorf said the charter would not lock students out of their restrooms.
    At Northgate HS, on the other hand, some parents have advocated using Measure C funds to build more restrooms. Apparently, three out of four student restrooms are located in or near the gym, while only one set of restrooms is available to students in the main part of the campus.

  17. Doctor J Says:

    Either way, shouldn’t Lawrence know what is going on ? Neither vanadalisim nor smoking in high school restrooms is a new issue — its been going on for a century !

  18. Brian Lawrence Says:

    Theresa- thanks for the mention.

    I do want to clarify that I did not call the board an “unfeeling group of Stalinists” (I appreciate you noting that was not a direct quote). I stated that in the current format, the board often appears similar to the Soviet Politburo- stone-faced and non-responsive.

    There is no code or requirement that the Board and staff refrain from responding to the public. I spoke in support of having additional board meetings in different locations throughout the district. Hopefully getting the board out of the Dent Center on occasion would allow for more of a dialogue.

    In the past few months alone, there have been some really important questions raised by the public during open comments, but there has been almost no public response from the Board or staff. Just a few of those questions include:

    – Are Measure C funds being spent appropriately and legally?
    – How did the district fail to comply with the QEIA requirements that would secure $1.5 million annually for Mt. Diablo High? Who is accountable?
    – Is the Board interested in working with the Clayton City Council and moving past the divisiveness of the charter process?
    – Are the concerns regarding pay and hours for school support staff being addressed?
    – What is being done to address the overwhelming vote of no-confidence in Principal McClatch by the teachers of Mt. Diablo.
    – What is being done to ensure that students at Mt. Diablo High have adequate access to bathrooms?

    There might be really great answers to these questions, but much too frequently there is silence emanating from the Board and staff. There are instances, such as with Mr. Eberhart last night, where there is a response from the board members or staff. In general, public comment at MDUSD board meetings is where good ideas and questions go to die- we can do better than that.

  19. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Brian, I’ll edit my previous comment. Thanks for the correct quote.
    The public makes comments to bring issues to the board’s attention. If the board fails to respond or to ask staff to follow up, what message does that send to the public?

  20. Doctor J Says:

    School toilet requirements aren’t too complicated — right on CDE website:
    CDE even has a sample High School Uniform Complaint form which interesting covers a couple of issues mentioned by students and staff: [1] “A school restroom has not been maintained or cleaned regularly, is not fully operational and has not been stocked at all times with toilet paper, soap, and paper towels or functional hand dryers.”
    [2] “The school has not kept all restrooms open during school hours when pupils are not in classes, and has not kept a sufficient number of restrooms open during school hours when pupils are in classes.”

  21. Doctor J Says:

    And then there are the Williams complaints about restrooms:

  22. Theresa Harrington Says:

    According to the CDE site, schools must provide for boys: 1 urinal per 30 students and
    1 toilet per 100; and for girls: 1 toilet per 45 students. I wonder how many toilets and urinals are in the one restroom per sex that is unlocked.

  23. Doctor J Says:

    In the Williams Complaint form above, the Ed Code sections don’t say a word about being able to close restrooms because of smoking or vandalism, just pupil safety or repairs. EC 35292.5

  24. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a free webinar that might be useful for some MDUSD principals and SASS members to check out — “Great Principals Talk about Getting It Done”:

  25. Doctor J Says:

    The last two weeks of comments by students was wonderful — they are giving the Board and Supt [and the General Counsel] the Ed Code sections to back their points.

  26. Theresa Harrington Says:

    At the end of the meeting, under Board Reports, Trustee Gary Eberhart said that he met with Concord Mayor Ron Leone regarding the idea of establishing a subcommittee of board members, the mayor and vice mayor to talk about items of mutual interest and serve their constituents. He did not say anything about establishing similar committees with officials in Clayton or other district cities.
    Earlier in the meeting, district resident John Parker urged trustees to establish some sort of public information officer position or communications internship program to help the district be more responsive.

  27. Doctor J Says:

    Toiletgate: School Restroom Maintenance Complaint Form — annonymous complaints accepted. 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 ?

  28. g Says:

    Brian Lawrence says it best. “In general, public comment at MDUSD board meetings is where good ideas and questions go to die- we can do better than that”.

    Ms Hansen seems (generally) to be the only board member who sees that.

    I would suggest that it is incumbent upon the Board President to — at the very least — say “Thank You Mr/Ms so-and-so”, acknowledging them by name, after Every speaker, not just those who are complimentary. They should understand and acknowledge that it is not always easy for a speaker to get up and put themselves on the line. If Ms. Whitmarsh is so poor at pronouncing names, if she wants to at least appear to be professional, and needs to practice more.

    When possible and appropriate, “Thank you, we will look into that”, and then, make a point to do exactly that and at least mention it at the very next meeting. If Ms. Whitmarsh does not do that, then another board member should speak up immediately, and at least say “Thank you”. Eventually, Ms. Whitmarsh will get the message.

  29. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Note that the district has posted the board-approved 2012-13 school calendar on its website:

  30. g Says:

    I was waiting for the Audio to be posted to be sure of this: Item 7.1 was NOT done. While we know they would not have elaborated on either item, we are entitled to know if they held those meetings, and did they do what they said the meetings were for–Union Negotiations on 1/25, and Rolen’s umpteenth review on 2/2.

  31. Theresa Harrington Says:

    You are correct, Board President Sherry Whitmarsh did not report out regarding those closed session meetings.

  32. Doctor J Says:

    Audio is posted.

  33. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I posted the link to the audio in an update to this blog.

  34. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, here is the link to video of Brian Lawrence’s comments. He was speaking on the agenda item about community board meetings:

  35. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I heard that MDHS opened two restrooms today instead of one — and they even made an announcement about it — which is very unusual.

  36. Doctor J Says:

    Someone is reading the blogs.

  37. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Or, paying attention to the public comments.

  38. Doctor J Says:

    They didn’t pay attention on Jan 23 with Kate McClatchy present, so why think they paid attention last night ? Today they read some of the complaint forms, and I will be some of the students downloaded them ! Can you imagine the students passing around complaint forms — what a civics lesson !

  39. anon Says:

    @ Brian Lawrence # 18: although the restroom facilities at MDHS are disgusting, my fear is that because the board has made
    2 restrooms available, it will keep them from addressing even more pressing issues as listed by Brian Lawrence: are the legalities of measure C being followed, what is the status of the loss of qeia funding for mdhs, what efforts are being made to build a relationship with Clayton valley city council, what efforts of “no confidence” in mcclatchey are being addressed? Does the supt understand that since he is mcclatchey’s direct supervisor that he has also been found to hold the title of “no confidence”?Again, although this supt and school board (with the exception of Hansen) may think that parents and staff members are naive and ignorant, not so…..providing toilets is only the tip of the iceberg. And this iceberg is melting at a rapid pace

  40. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Wouldn’t it be great to hear from “our” district supervisor? You know – every couple of weeks or so, just a quick email to all the districts families letting us all know how well the district is doing and what issues he and his staff are working through – oh, and maybe even a post the email on the district website too …

    Wouldn’t that be great?

    I know, I know – I’m such a dreamer …

  41. anon Says:

    @ hell freezing over #41-it would be great to hear from our district supervisor who guaranteed that he would provide the communities in MDUSD a monthly newsletter. However, since he and his cronies have chosen to make decisions in secrecy, he’s not able to share what the district is doing to enhance the education of our students. It’s time for all of us as parents to agree upon a board meeting date that all of us show up in unison and question what this superintendent agreed to when he came into out district. As parents, we deserve explanations as to why things have become worse since his arrival; and to not allow him to use the excuse of “budget cuts”. Is it time for PFC’s and PTA’s across this district to meet and plan which board meeting we will share our dissatisfaction with the way this superintendent is running this district?

  42. g Says:

    Theresa, did the Board stay around and go back into Closed Session for the Supt and Counsel reviews?

    They also suggested that they were going to discuss a calendar for the 7 High School forums, but nothing’s posted yet.

  43. Doctor J Says:

    How much are we paying our Spanish translator ? I just happened to click onto the Transitional Kindergarten information page on the district website, and accidentally clicked on Spanish instead of English. Immediately my eyes were drawn to “Setiembre”. Its been a few years since college Spanish, but I grabbed my Spanish/English Dictionary and verified “septiembre”. Then I noticed that all months in Spanish were capitalized. Not correct. In Spanish months are not proper nouns. “Otoño; Febrero” are incorrectly capitalized. Then I looked a little closer and discovered “Governador” also incorrectly spelled and should be “Gobernador”.
    Heck, English Learners ? Our district translators at a very high cost can’t even spell in Spanish ! :-) How embarassing.

  44. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: Yes, the board went into closed session for the evaluations.
    And you’re right that they talked about calendaring the seven meetings at the end of the meeting, but then didn’t end up doing it. So far, no dates have been selected.
    And regarding the MDHS restrooms, I reached Kate McClatchy by phone to ask about the situation. Her response was: “I’m not going to comment on that, thank you.”
    Also, Pat Middendorf said she does not recall talking to me about a CVHS restroom being locked in the past, so I will retract that.

  45. Doctor J Says:

    In 1 1/2 years at Mount, Kate McClatchy is record achieving: QEIAgate, NoConfidenceGate, DisappearingDotsGate, and not to be outdone by any other principal in the district, Toiletgate. Go Girl !

  46. Anon Says:

    Is there any kind of preliminary count of students who have signed up to remain at CVCHS and those from other schools who have applied to attend? It would seem that there will be far more students wanting to come to CVCHS than those who want to leave.It wouldn’t be too surprising to see a large number of Sequoia Middle seeking entrance.

  47. Doctor J Says:

    MDUSD would do well to emulate the State Board of Education in conduct of a Board meeting, civility, and in minutes preparation, and posting well before the Agenda of the next meeting.

    Preliminary Report of Action / Draft Minutes for the January 11-12, 2012 SBE Meeting, which may be accessed at the following link In addition, the live Webcast of this meeting may be viewed at

  48. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: One CVCHS board member said the charter received about 1,100 “intent to enroll” forms. However, I’m not sure if this includes current 8th-graders.

  49. anon Says:

    @Dr J (#43): the district is paying $83,000 this year to an outside contractor (AIS) for interpretating services.This is $63,000 over last year’s contract with AIS. Mr. Rolen can fill you in in on the reasoning regarding the $63,000 increase in the contract with AIS

  50. Doctor J Says:

    @#49 Does Greg Rolen have a relationship with AIS that has not been disclosed ?

  51. 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.

  52. 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 ?

  53. 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.

  54. 2busymom Says:

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

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. Doctor J Says:

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

  58. 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.

  59. 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

  60. 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”!

  61. 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?

  62. 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.”

  63. 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.

  64. 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.

  65. 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?

  66. 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.

  67. anon Says:

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

  68. 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?

  69. 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?

  70. 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.

  71. 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.

  72. 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.

  73. 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.

  74. 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?

  75. 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. :-)

  76. 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.

  77. 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.

  78. 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.

  79. 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.

  80. 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:

  81. 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:

  82. 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.

  83. 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!

  84. 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?

  85. 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.

  86. 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.

  87. 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.

  88. 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.

  89. Theresa Harrington Says:

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

  90. Wait a Minute Says:


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

  91. 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]

  92. 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 ?

  93. 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.

  94. 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.

  95. 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.

  96. 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.”

  97. g Says:

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

  98. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The Bellingham Herald in Washington also has the story:

  99. Theresa Harrington Says:

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

  100. 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:

  101. 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.

  102. Doctor J Says:

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

  103. 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 !

  104. 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.

  105. Doctor J Says:

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

  106. 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…

  107. 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” !!

  108. 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?

  109. 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.

  110. Doctor J Says:

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

  111. 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.

  112. 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!

  113. 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.

  114. 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.

  115. MDHS Teacher Says:

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

  116. 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.

  117. 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?

  118. 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 ?

  119. 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.

  120. 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.

  121. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

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

  122. **anon Says:

    the “student” is Sherry W’s

  123. **anon Says:

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

  124. MoMx3 Says:

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

  125. 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.

  126. Anon Says:

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

  127. 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?

  128. 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.

  129. 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 ?

Leave a Reply