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MDUSD trustee says three items were left off Feb. 27 agenda

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 at 12:03 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

[NOTE: This blog post has been revised to include new information from Board President Sherry Whitmarsh.]

Mt. Diablo school board trustee Cheryl Hansen sent me a copy of a Feb. 13 memo she sent to Board President Sherry Whitmarsh and Superintendent Steven Lawrence regarding three items she wanted to add to the Feb. 27 board meeting agenda.

Hansen said the items did not appear, even though she gave the required two weeks’ notice. Although Hansen said neither Whitmarsh nor Lawrence informed her the items would not appear on the agenda, Board President Sherry Whitmarsh told me she called Hansen and left her a message asking her to call and discuss the reasons the items would be left off.

Here is the memo:

“February 13, 2012

TO: Sherry Whitmarsh and Steven Lawrence
FROM: Cheryl Hansen
RE: Agenda Items for February 27, 2012 Board Meeting

This is to notify you that I am placing on the February 27, 2012 Board meeting agenda the following items:

Type: Information
Subject: Board Bylaw 9324 – Minutes and Recordings

Summary: Board minutes and recordings are important communication and
documentation tools for the public record. Current Board Bylaw 9324 does not adequately and clearly provide direction for the composition of minutes and recordings. Therefore, Board Bylaw 9324 should be revised to read as follows:

Minutes and Recordings

The secretary of the Governing Board shall keep minutes and record all official Board actions.

The minutes of each regular or special meeting shall include an accurate account of individual Board member or staff comments made during discussion of information and/or action agenda items and motions.

The minutes shall also include an accurate summary of the public speakers’ comments made during the course of the Board meeting, including the speaker’s name, title, and key comments.

In the interest of accuracy and context, any Board member, staff, and/or member of the public may submit a written copy of their statements or discussion points which shall be included as an addendum to the Board minutes.

Video or Audio Recording

Recordings made during regular or special Board meetings are public records. They shall be kept for at least 365 days and upon request shall be made available for inspection by members of the public on a district recorder without charge.

Type: Action
Subject: Format of the Public Input and Informational Meetings

Summary: As was stated in my original summary for my agenda item entitled Public Input and Informational Meetings that was approved by the Board on February 6, 2012, the format of these meetings shall include:
1) What’s working
2) What could be improved
3) Input on decisions made
4) Questions and answers
5) Suggestions and ideas – where should we be heading and what should we be doing to provide better service, representation, responsiveness, and accountability to the MDUSD community.

Type: Action
Subject: Televised Board Meetings

Summary: The Board directs the superintendent to investigate and develop a plan of action to televise to the public all regular and special Board meetings, either through videostreaming or through Contra Costa Television (CCTV). This plan will include a working budget that itemizes both start up and ongoing costs. The superintendent will make his report of findings and recommendations to the Board at our March 26, 2012 meeting.”

Whitmarsh told me today that there were good reasons for leaving the items off.

“Either we’ve already talked about them on previous agenda items,” Whitmarsh said, “or they were already proposed to be on future agenda items.”

Whitmarsh said she did not know why Hansen didn’t call her to ask why the items were left off. She also said that items requested by other trustees have also sometimes not appeared on agendas for similar reasons.

Do you think the board should have considered these items at its Feb. 27 meeting, as requested by Hansen?

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62 Responses to “MDUSD trustee says three items were left off Feb. 27 agenda”

  1. School Teacher Says:

    Is the board allowed to pick and choose what items they put on the agenda? If these were submitted appropriately, I would like to know why they didn’t make it to the agenda.

  2. g Says:

    Yes! I also believe if any board member other than Cheryl Hansen had made the request to place these items on the Agenda, it would have been done! She needs to go higher up the chain about being stonewalled.

  3. Theresa Harrington Says:

    [NOTE: This comment has been revised based on new information from Board President Sherry Whitmarsh]

    ST: Although Hansen submitted the items according to board procedures, Board President Sherry Whitmarsh said there were good reasons for not adding them. I have revised the blog post to include Whitmarsh’s explanation.

  4. Anon Says:

    I would like to hear why Sherry Whitmarsh did not allow these items on to the agenda. Last year Ms. Hansen’s agenda items were left off becuase Mr. Eberhart all of a sudden decided to enforce a timing policy (a policy that had been ignored many times). Now Ms. Hansen submits her items within the appropriate time frame and her new items are rejected without reason or notice.
    If this continues our community would be justified in calling for a recall of the Board President and Vice President. Enough is enough this District will never improve until honesty and transparency are the norm not the enemy.

  5. Mt Diablo Jester Says:


    I guess our next video parody will need to star Sherry Whitmarsh as Hitler.

    I had Gary pegged for that role.

  6. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: Please note that I have updated the blog post to include Whitmarsh’s explanation.

    Whitmarsh said she left Hansen a voicemail message saying that there were good reasons the items would not be placed on the agenda. She said she invited Hansen to call her back and discuss the reasons, but she never heard from Hansen.

    The reasons were that some of the items had already been discussed or were proposed as future agenda items.

  7. Doctor J Says:

    Sherry Whitmarsh violated her duty to place these items on the agenda at the request of another Board member. Whitmarsh has no authority to censor Hansen’s request. The California Attorney General should immediately investigate this illegal action.

  8. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Did you read the explanation by Whitmarsh? She said that she offered to discuss the reasons for omitting the items from the agenda with Hansen, but did not get a return phone call. She also said that Hansen is not the only board member who has had an item left off, due to similar reasons.

  9. anon Says:

    Ms. Hansen continues to grandstand rather than work as a team to resolve the problems of the district. Alienating the entire board and probably most of the staff is not going to get anything done. I guess it’s fun for everyone to watch her antics, but there are serious problems that need to be fixed and her hubris continues to be an impediment.

  10. vindex Says:

    I appreciate your perspective on comment #8. However, for far too long the MDUSD board and district has operated in a “wink/wink, nod/nod” type of way. Ms. Whitmarsh needed to put the agenda items on the agenda to bring everything into the open. Ms. Hansen requested the agenda items to be placed within the proper time limit and instead of having an “off the record” phone conversation, they could have had that conversation at the board meeting on the public record. Ms. Whitmarsh could have said “I hear you Cheryl, we will put those as future agenda items.” I applaud Ms. Hansen’s attempts to bring transparency to a dark world. Greg Rolen, Sherry Whitmarch, Paul Strange, Linda Mayo, Gary Eberhardt, often work too much behind the scenes and thus they breed distrust. Time to swing open the doors.

  11. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Trustee Linda Mayo was the only board member who voted against the Action Progress Reports, saying they weren’t necessary.

  12. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#8 & Vindex#10 Yes, I read her weak explanation with no details on when the call was placed. It doesn’t matter, and I agree with Vindex — Sherry ran for the Board on “TRANSPARENCY” and has instead practiced “SECRECY”. Put it on the agenda, let the Board discuss it, and act on it or postpone it for further discussion.

  13. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Based on the audio of the beginning of the meeting, Hansen pulled the minutes for discussion (item 9.2). Whitmarsh said the board had already agreed that the minutes did not need to be detailed, since there are digital recordings of the meetings.

    Hansen said she had asked that an item dealing with the minutes be placed on the agenda, but it was left off.

    In response to Whitmarsh, Hansen said she didn’t recall a board vote approving minimal minutes and said she plans to bring the idea for more comprehensive minutes back on a future agenda.

  14. Wait a minute Says:

    Yes The Gary is desperately trying to maintain domination of “his board” but trying to keep his fingerprints off his many controversies and the more that Sherry helps him with this the better for him.

    His real problem is that he “OWNS IT” when it comes to these problems and controversies through his many manipulations and naked power-plays that he has run to keep control. Now Sherry will also “OWN IT” as she aids and continues The Gary’s method of operating here.

    I find this article particularly emblematic of The Gary’s reign of stupidity:

    He basically admits that he knew full well that CVHS was in freefall for YEARS since his own daughter went to school there yet as a MDUSD Board Member and President of the Board he did NOTHING EFFECTIVE in fixing CVHS, the MDUSD or any other school for that matter.

    Instead, he was busy getting the MDUSD to pay for him him to take a small-time solar class and then using that class and his status as th “President of the MDUSD BOE” to leverage a job as “VP of Solar” with Schreder Construction whose main clientle are school districts.

    Along with his push of Measure C and then using it primarily on solar The Gary was instrumental in hiring the unethical Stevie Lawrence as Superintendent (and long time friends with old man Jack Schreder) who proceeded to secretly meet with and accept gratuities from “Chevron Sherry”s employeer Chevron to discuss the solar contract until he was busted by the CC Times for this highly unethical transgression.

    Meanwhile while everybody mentioned is scratching each others backs and cashing in the district continues to suffer from incompetent and self-serving “leadership”.

    The MDUSD, “Where failed administrators and board members come firs.t”

  15. Anon Says:

    To Anon #9

    Hubris ( /ˈhjuːbrɪs/), means extreme haughtiness, pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power.

    Wow, it sounds more like Eberhart than Hansen.

    And speaking of Eberhart, didn’t he conduct community meetings throughout 2008 to specifically discuss the ineptness of the Superintendent and the Board majority? Didn’t he run a blog site with Board member Strange, a blog site that was used to fester a negative public opinion of everything the Superintendent and Board majority did? Didn’t he proclaim himself a solar expert?

    Would he have considered his actions an impediment? I think not. Maybe becuase of his hubris.

    What Cheryl Hansen is asking for is transparency and accountability. Only someone who is truly hubris would project that characteristic on to someone asking the questions asked by Hansen.

  16. Doctor J Says:

    Looks like Sherry Whitmarsh quickly forgot her recent $2000 Saturday lesson about “getting along”. The Board facilitator told everyone that the disucssions need to take place in public, not outside of the Board room between individual board members. I would love to see Sherry’s cell records to see who she talked to just before calling Cheryl Hansen. Remember the bumper sticker the facilitator suggested to remind Board members: “Board members do it in public”. Sherry, can you do it in public ?

  17. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The district still hasn’t posted the budget Powerpoint presented by Bryan Richards:

    Transparency also means posting such reports before the meeting so the public can follow along. If staff works right up to the meeting preparing the Powerpoint, it should be posted immediately after the meeting or by the following morning, at the latest.

  18. g Says:

    And in the future when something, anything, comes before them to be placed on an agenda, the purpose of which is similar to something that has been there before, I’m sure we can count on Sherry to decline to publish it—right?

    Board and Dent raises comes to mind.

    I would like Sherry to produce the detail of minutes where they voted in public to “minimize” the written minutes.

  19. Doctor J Says:

    @G#18 Sherry was just parroting what Gary had said at the February 6 meeting when Cheryl raised it during the discussion of the minutes — it was Gary that said it would have to be put on the agenda to be discussed for action. Again, I would love to see Sherry’s cell records to see who she talked to just before calling Cheryl Hansen. Actually, I do believe that some Board members did have this discussion — in an unnoticed meeting.

  20. The Observer Says:

    The last thing Gary, Sherry, and Steven want is any kind of discussion, transparency, or public forum.
    Sherry has learned at the feet of the master Eberhart who has raised deceit and secrecy to an art form. It’s no secret at Dent Center that there are constant discussions about how to block information and how to manipulate agendas with Lawrence pulling the strings. A question many of us are asking now is why we are seeing Eberhart around so much. He seems to have much free time judging from what we’ve noticed.

  21. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Speaking of public forums, Board President Sherry Whitmarsh told me that General Counsel Greg Rolen and the CSBA’s legal counsel both said the district might be violating the Brown Act if it holds informal meetings and fails to put discussion topics on the agenda.
    So, no dates were set Feb. 22 for the meetings discussed in item 4.1.

  22. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#21 Its called “Public Comment” and Board members and staff can respond to the public comment. The Brown Act allows that. Otherwise, put general discussion topics on the Agenda. What can be so hard about that ?

  23. Doctor J Says:

    @TO#20. Check his Form 700 that he files. Everyone got in a tizzy when I called his employer’s phone number and reported what I was told.

  24. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Whitmarsh said the board has directed the superintendent and Rolen to try to figure out how to word the agendas so they don’t violate the Brown Act.

    Speaking of meetings, the district has posted a notice regarding its Bay Point schools master planning meeting from 7-9 p.m. March 5:

  25. Mdusd Employee Says:

    [NOTE: This comment has been edited to delete an unfair allegation.]

    I looked over the past agendas and nowhere do any of Ms. Hansen’s agenda items appear…

  26. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Items 13.5 through 13.7 on Jan. 9 were items dealing with the agenda that were requested by Hansen:

    However, I believe they were not approved because no one seconded her motions to approve them.

  27. Jim Says:

    “Whitmarsh said the board has directed the superintendent and Rolen to try to figure out how to word the agendas so they don’t violate the Brown Act.”

    Good grief. Is it always Amateur Hour around there? Always?!?

    Devious? Or dumb?

  28. Theresa Harrington Says:

    She said the board could listen to public comment, but couldn’t really deliberate or discuss what the public says.
    Her question, she said, was: How would that be different from the public comment now included at board meetings?

  29. Doctor J Says:

    How different ? Right now the Board and staff sits like bumps on the log and doesn’t respond to public comments. They are free to give brief comments and answer questions which they choose not to do. Isn’t the whole purpose of these meetings to get public feedback ?

  30. Doctor J Says:

    If Sherry won’t allow Cheryl to add items to the agenda, MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC its time to stand up and add them to the agenda, and let Sherry turn you down, violating your rights. A friend sent me an interesting Ed Code which says: “35145.5. It is the intent of the Legislature that members of the public be able to place matters directly related to school district business on the agenda of school district governing board meetings.” Sherry you may think you can treat Cheryl like dirt, but try that with a member of the public and face the wrath of the Ed Code.

  31. g Says:

    How Different? Ah, yes. It’s called a forum. If the Board sets it up, they must Notice and Agendize the subjects they will be willing to discuss, and could base that on prearranged emailed questions.

    Or, by Brown Act rules, if we want an “open for discussion” arrangement, then the board cannot set up the meeting, it must be arranged by an outside entity, such as a feeder pattern/schools PTAs or a neighborhood association. Then, the public and board are “envited”, just like when Lawrence goes to the Bay Point MAC meetings. Questions asked can be answered by the board, but the board cannot offer their personal opinions of issues that may be coming up for a vote.

    It’s not all that hard Sherry. It just takes an honest willingness to actually “engage” with those who put you in office to start with–and knowledge of what your job entails.

    If you kept up with the pulse of the district and our issues, and if the board was willing to engage and treat the public with respect at regular board meetings we wouldn’t even need to ask for outside public forum meetings.

  32. Doctor J Says:

    Do you want to know more than Rolen about the Brown Act ? Read the CA Attorney General Guide to the Brown Act.

  33. Doctor J Says:

    Why would Pete Petersen answer questions on “Master Plan for Bay Point” when his duties are limited to Measure C ? The “Master Plan” should include more than just the limited Measure C issues. Unless of course, the Master Plan has already been drafted by Pete & Measure C Crew, and the public meeting is just a ruse to pretend to involve the public in its “development”. Pete should disclose exactly how far along the “Master Plan” is.

  34. g Says:

    Pedersen has been the Svengali planner since the 2002 Measure C to use that and the current Measure C to “add or renovate classrooms”, AKA (in his mind) build a school or two. When they were able to maneuver the Delta View build without using Measure C funds, he convinced folks to spend a million dollars per acre for a chunk of a hill of Bay Point land, using $5mil from 2002 measure C and borrowed Pittsburg funds for the remaining $5+million.

    Now, it is time to spring the surprise on the taxpayers with his personal plan to use 2010 measure C to build on that land. If he doesn’t build soon, the district will have to start paying a penalty fee for “unused” property.

    It is only 11 acres, and is tightly surrounded by houses already, so it is too small for anything but another elementary school. There is no room for sports fields, etc.

    And, at a million dollar$ an acre, we could never resell that patch of ground without taking a very great lo$$.

  35. g Says:

    “the community and district will need to collaborate to determine on how to fund the master plan recommendations”

    In other words, they need to hear a few people agree to use Measure C, thinking that will help to legitimize the slimy/subtle wording on the ballot.

  36. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have received an email from Cheryl Hansen, in which she said Whitmarsh did not call her until after the agenda was posted. She plans to resubmit the three items again, plus add two more, for the March 13 meeting.

  37. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#36 — See how deceptive Sherry Whitmarsh can be suggesting she called Cheryl Hansen to discuss why the items were being left off the agenda — WHEN THE TRUTH is that the Agenda was ALREADY PUBLISHED ! To quote Theresa’s post on what Sherry said: “Board President Sherry Whitmarsh told me she called Hansen and left her a message asking her to call and discuss the reasons the items would be left off.” Sherry Whitmarsh cannot be trusted now any more than she could be trusted for not admitting she was at the Buttercupgate meeting two years ago. You can’t change the stripes on a Zebra.

  38. Mt Diablo Jester Says:

    That seals the deal.

    Ms. Whitmarsh is indeed the new incarnation of Hitler in our parody video.

  39. Doctor J Says:

    Its going to take a derailment to stop the Pete Pedersen Express Spending Train which continues to accellerate at over 60 mph.

  40. Mdusd Employee Says:

    Why isn’t the DA investigating this mess? The students and community are held hostage by a small group of people who actively conspire to exclude the public from any input or information about the district they are paying taxes for. Heaven knows what might be discovered if someone actually started an investigation.

  41. Theresa Harrington Says:

    For those of you who want to comment on the Bay Point master plan, I have added a separate blog post with the agenda:

  42. g Says:

    MDUSD Employee: You haven’t studied our DA enough. Mark Peterson authored or helped author the “Pro” text for the ballot, and Mark Peterson NEVER admits to personal errors. Nor does he ever oppose the political actions of his golf buddies.

  43. Theresa Harrington Says:

    One of the items Hansen wants to revisit is the high school grad requirements.
    As that debate heats up, here’s an interesting book about college and career readiness that might interest some who favor more rigorous requirements, such as the San Jose district implemented:

  44. g Says:

    [NOTE: This comment was edited to delete an unsubstantiated allegation]

    Who paid for Gary’s trip to Pasadena in Dec 8-10…?

    He went to a Green Schools Summit. Here’s his pitch profile:

    “Saving Money through Energy Efficiencies
    This session will provide valuable information on how school districts can utilize dollars currently budgeted to pay for utilities and convert those dollars to discretionary general fund dollars. Mt. Diablo Unified School District will share their journey to initiate, what will be, one of the largest solar photovoltaic systems in a K-12 District on the planet. Our system is going to return $300 million to our unrestricted general fund to support students in our district.

    Gary Eberhart, Board Member, Mt. Diablo Unified School District

  45. The Observer Says:

    I see Eberhart is posting again at #9 Anon

  46. Doctor J Says:

    @TO#45 I don’t think its Eberhart because there is a three syllable word in the last sentence — even though used incorrectly. 🙂

  47. Anon Says:

    To G –

    $300 million. Really?

    Great, now lets go spread the misleading truth about solar to other school districts so they can do the same thing.

    Gary is espousing the same $300 million dollar number at a conference that he is afraid to have a conversation about with members of his own community. I guess if he goes elsewhere, he might find people who will actually believe his math.

    Dr J. – I do believe #9 is GE

  48. Doctor J Says:

    @G#44 Read Gary’s Form 700 and see if he was paid an honorarium for attending the conference. A PRA request for any payments of Gary’s expenses might be in order too. Interesting that Gary did not list his claimed affiliation with Seward L. Schreder Construction.

  49. Doctor J Says:

    Gary reactivated his contractor’s license by posting a bond in November. I wonder if he is still “employed” as a VP for Solar Development for Seward L. Schreder Construction ?

  50. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The board will hold a special meeting Monday for the superintendent’s evaluation:

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