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Live blog of April 23, 2012 MDUSD board meeting

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, April 23rd, 2012 at 8:47 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Board President did not report any votes regarding the litigation out of closed session.

Public Comment:

1. Pete Torney: alt ed foundation art and wine fundraiser 2-5 p.m. May 6 at Lakeview room in Heather Farm Park. Info is at www.mdaef.org. Cost is $35 in advance or $45 at the door.

2. Debbie LaDue: Referred to CC Times story about Walnut Creek School District raises. “I hope this district takes guidance from its neighboring district and values the contributions of its non-management employees.”

3. Stephanie Perry, Mother of Horizon alternative education student: I heard the program is going to be moved to YVHS. It’s better for my daughter to be on a smaller campus where all the teachers are accessible to all the students. It’s a very calm atmosphere. The reason we left Clayton Valley was because she didn’t want to be on a big campus. Please reconsider and leave Horizon where it is.

4. Jo Ann Semas, Grandmother of Prospect alternative high student: I became aware that Prospect is going to be moving to YVHS. I request that the board do further study and reconsider and allow Prospect school to stay where it is. I’ve taken my grandson to YVHS for summer school and the congestion was horrendous. I can imagine that bringing Horzon and Prospect there is going to make it worse.

5. Carolyn Accatino, library media teacher at Meadow Homes Elem. I would like to publicly acknowledge the parents, teachers and students here tonight. We’re here of course to hear of the English learner plan, but also to give the community and board a vision of how much we care about our community. We are poised for success next year. Everything is ready and we have too many beloved students to do this. We ask you to consider boundary changes so we can best serve our students. We look forward to the Wednesday night meeting with the superintendent and Rose Lock. Please don’t shove us under the rug. Please remember us.

6. Odessa LaFrancois: NAACP: Thanks for coming to our banquet. Maybe next year, MDUSD students will be receiving scholarships, not just Brentwood students.

7. Corie Irving: daughter attends Sun Terrace Elem. I have a huge problem with the communication with our principal and what has happened with our first grade class. Since January, our teacher in first grade has been on maternity leave. We’ve had 13 substitute teachers with no communication to the parents. I’m a passionate parent when it comes to my daughter’s education. We’re going over STAR testing. My daughter is not at grade level where she needs to be. I feel this is a major concern. I don’t feel she is being taught appropriately. I got a call from Susan Peterson on April 14. After that, I got a call from the school about four days later to have a meeting. The primary teacher went out in Janaary. Why did it take three months for me to get communication from the principal? What’s the district’s policy on notifying parents when you’re going to have 13 different substitutes? Where’s the protocol? I’m concerned about security at the school. We’re on Port Chicago Highway…

8. Katherine Friedman: Parent at Sun Terrace Elementary. My son is in the same class as Corey’s. When the first substitute left, I expressed my concern to Mrs. Jacobs. I expressed my concern several times and was brushed off. It wasn’t until I submitted a letter to the district that I got a letter from Mrs. Jacobs. My son is no longer progressing. The school year is almost out (tearfully) and my son is struggling and my class is struggling. For me to hear that staff are afraid to speak up, it’s not okay. When I came in here, all these parents are greeting each other. That’s what our school needs, a fun environment back.

9. Yasmine, Pres. of DELAC and mother of kindergartner at Hidden Valley Elem. who is bilingual and also a preschooler. Thanks to the board at the fact we finally have a master plan for English language learners. I remember what it was like to not have an EL plan. I understand how traumatic it can be for a student to not have the support practices in place. By choice my children are bilingual. I want them to be able to function on multiple levels. I want to express how excited I am to have this EL master plan, which is decades overdue. I hope it will be implemented. I’ve been looking for a bilingual program for my children and if the Meadow Homes program is eliminated it would be devastating. I want my son to speak English and Spanish fluently, so I urge you to support the EL master plan.

10. Louis Acevedo: Father of six children, all who have attended Sun Terrace Elem. In this last year or so, since we’ve had the new principal, I feel she covers up a lot of issues. My son was injured and nobody notified me. A week later, he had a bloody nose and nobody notified me. My kids feel like they’re bullied by her. Nobody wants to speak up because they feel like they’re going to be terminated. My son looks like he’s in fear when he’s around her. It seems like there’s a communication problem and there’s a secuirity issue. It’s just a lot of issues. My neighbor who picks up my children has the same concerns as well. (applause from audience).

11. Karen Gamez, parent of Sun Terrace Elem. students. Three children, two are in sun terrace. When other people ask about ms. Jacobs, they feel they can’t speak to her. They are afraid. I have had numerous conversations with her, I have emailed ms. Lcok regarding safety, I have spoken with ms. Jacobs, brushing it off, goes into other subjects. Latin speaking parents feel inferior to her. Many others feel they will lose their jobs. That is ridiculous that we cannot communicate with our princpal. It has come to the point that I have to email the school board. I feel my children are no longer safe. I have a friend who is thinking of transferring their son. I’m feeling the same way, but I can’t transfer them. She told me she has hired five people (for security). I have yet to see these five people. Those are my main things, safety and communication, like every other parent.

(Note: I ran out of time and was unable to blog the entire meeting. I will post an update with more information as time permits.)

Board agreed to raise tax rate on 2002 and 2010 Measure C bonds and voted 4-1 to extend contracts for superintendent and four top administrators.

APRIL 25 UPDATE: Here are my notes from the rest of the public comments:

12. Dan Roll, student services, Sun Terrace: Listening to parent’s’ concerns tonigtht, I’’m hearing communication, security and wanting to have a feeling of support from Principal Gretchen Jacobs. I wanted to come here tonight to communicate to you guys, that based on conversations I’’ve had with Gretchn Jacobs, I believe she is listening to these concerns and is working on ways to resolve all these. Because of my nature, I spend more time than anyone else watching Gretchen at work and I have watched her working very, very hard at that school. I believe that she cares a great deal about what happens at that school.

13. Mary (didn’t catch last name): Please reconsider your decision to reocate CIS from PHMS to YVHS. This has literally been a lifesaver for him. If you really want to do what’’s best for the kids, keep the program as it is. It’’s working. If you really want to serve all kids, please keep this program as it is. At the very least, please make sure if it is moved that the programs receive the space they need.

14. Willie Mims, regarding concerns raised by parents at Sun Terrace: It would seem to me that there are some laws against harassment, intimidation, and bullying. There are state laws, so actually it’’s a crime for someone not to handle it. I would encourage the parents to file a civil rights complaint against the principal. I have also come to talk about something that maybe you’’ve not heard about: The California Judicial Report card and the UCLA Civil Rights project. In the California dist report card, they graded 500 of the largest districts in California. You got an overall grade for improvement — a D. For performance of students of color, you got a D. Performance of low-income studs, a D. Improvement grade of C. Improvement of low-income students, C. In terms of closing the achievement gap between African Americans and whites, F. Achievement gap between Latinos and whites, F. So, what this report card is saying is that you are failing to educate two specific subgroups. It is a crime, because you are bound by law to educate every student that you have in this district and you already know that yourself, that you have failed to do that. On the Civil Rights project report card, it’’s entitled: “Suspended Education.” There was a huge disproportionate number of African American students who were suspended across this state. Why? (Time buzzer rings.) I’’ll stop, but I’’ll come back and finish my report at the next meeting (wild applause).

15. John Ferrante: I got an email today about an event called “Turn on the Sun,” from the Mt. Diablo school district for an event Thursday, May 1st, 1 p.m. at Northgate High School. Members of CUES, who got Measure C on the ballot, a lot of them work. (Also mentioned the Measure C oversight committee.)– I found out about it Friday in the paper. Not at the bond oversight committee meeting the night before. We’ve have had communication problems in this district since Bob Baum. I have been complaining for year after year to get it fixed. It still isn’’t fixed.

16. Ashtyn Friday: I am a student, obviously, because my notes are on my smart phone. (Opposed Horizons alternative ed move to YVHS.) I’’ve been able to succeed so much more. The main reason that I’’ve heard of that we are going there is to get out of our high schools. We’’re at a middle school. The majority of us are not messing with little kids. (Said the location is convenient.) Our teachers can convene a meeting and fix things like that. You put us in six different rooms. We created a community through our food program, because I want to be a chef. We’’re going to a college. I’’ve made friends through that and if you separate it and get it where it’’s so discombobulated, maybe it (won’t) work. W’e’re like the gem of the district, not something you can throw away. Our building was built for Horizons. What are you going to do with it? We don’t want to be with a bunch of other high schoolers, who are like: ‘Why are you here?’ We want to do our work and get out of there. So I strongly suggest that you rethink this whole thing about moving us. It’’s not like you’’ve gotten a whole bunch of complaints, so please reconsider.

Trustee Gary Eberhart: In light of some of the comments this evening, request that the superintendent get back to the Board of Education with an update of what’’s going on at Sun Terrace.

Trustee Cheryl Hansen: I would like to speak to the alternative education issue that is happening at Pleasant Hill Middle School. I don’’t recall having any conversation about this, so I’’d like to have some conversation. I don’’t know the genesis. I would like us to give some consideration and have some conversation about the process to inform staff and students who’’ve seemed equally surprised when I talked to them. It sounds like it’’s at the end of the school year.
I think we have time to get the information and give it some time and planning.

Please note that the above notes are not an exact transcript of comments, but are taken from my notes as people were speaking. I was in the lobby during public comment and was unable to videotape the comments.

APRIL 26 UPDATE: Here is a link to the meeting audio: http://www.mdusd.org/boe/Documents/audio/2012/April%2023%20Recording.mp3

Do you think the board is responsive to community concerns?

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219 Responses to “Live blog of April 23, 2012 MDUSD board meeting”

  1. g Says:

    Darn–I hate it when KVHS stops broadcasting the meeting at 10:00—Just as Eberhart is about to speak about the Bonds.

  2. MoMx3 Says:

    Did they vote on the contract extensions? Is this really live blogging ? Are they really doing public comment at 10pm? Theresa are you only blogging the public comment? I know it must be tough to cover it all, so thanks for your efforts!

  3. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Sorry, they just voted 4-1 for bond option 3 and are now discussing hs projects. Hansen voted no.

  4. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Now streaming on http://www.qik.com/tharrington.

  5. Ms. J Says:

    By voting ahead of schedule to extend their own contracts, our wonderful school board has protected their top salaries, ensuring that if voters don’t support education in November that only teachers and students will be targeted for budget cuts. They’ve effectively taken themselves out of the line of fire. How very self-serving of them! We know what their top priorities truly are!

  6. Anon Says:

    So I am guessimg that the no vote for extending contrats was from Cheryl? What a bunch we have!!!
    This District is doomed.

  7. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, the “no” vote was from Trustee Cheryl Hansen, who wanted to wait until after the November election to vote on contracts. Here’s the story: http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_20467440/mt-diablo-school-board-increases-property-tax-rate

  8. Wait a minute Says:

    RECALL!!!

  9. Doctor J Says:

    Gov. Brown must be overjoyed with the Eberhart Political Machine beating him to the punch and raising taxes for education. MDUSD voters are going to be sooo very pleased when their property tax bills take another jump — and they didn’t even get to vote on it ! Voters might think twice now about supporting Gov. Brown’s education taxes if their property taxes can be raised without voting on it !

  10. Anon Says:

    Dr. J. I agree with you but Ca voters will not look at the big picture. They will vote yes because it is education not realizing that what they are doing is paying the top people more and nothing goes to the classroom. Many people just don’t pay attention to this. This is why we are in the mess we are in.

    I hope the union and teachers have learned a lesson here on who they are backing. They are the ones that got Eberhart and Whitmarsh elected (even know they were lied to) People better start opening their eyes and looking real hard at what is going on. California is a sinking ship and MDUSD will drown first.

    On another note, last night MDE sent home a form for parents to fill out on intent to enroll. I have never seen this before (but my memory could be failing) Obviously MDUSD is worried about how many family’s are jumping ship. The private schools are jammed packed!

  11. Doctor J Says:

    Was Rolen sleeping through the whole FCMAT Transportation Dept review discussion ? Never heard a peep from the Director of Transportation ? From Hansen’s questions to Lawrence, apparently Rolen was excluded from the discussion of FCMAT review of “his” department. I think its clear that Lawrence is targeting transportation as a $5 million dollar savings and put it on the families.

  12. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Rolen was very much awake and appeared to be a bit uncomfortable, but did not speak up. I shot video, although I don’t have a zoom lens.
    There did not seem to be a connection between all the complaints that were aired by speakers last night and accountability by the people whose contracts were being extended. (There were complaints about a principal, alternative ed moves that have never been brought to the board, lack of communication with the BOC regarding the Northgate solar event, problems with special ed, disproportionate suspensions and expulsions, the achievement gap between whites and African-Americans and Latinos, Lawrence’s change to the EL Plan, impasse with teachers, and the need for yet another special ed and transportation review.)

  13. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    #10 Anon:

    your last paragraph states:

    On another note, last night MDE sent home a form for parents to fill out on intent to enroll. I have never seen this before (but my memory could be failing) Obviously MDUSD is worried about how many family’s are jumping ship. The private schools are jammed packed!

    Remember, MDE is feeder elem school to the now CVCHS.

  14. Anon Says:

    I could understand the form going out to diablo view but not to 1st and 2 nd graders

  15. Doctor J Says:

    MDUSD has become like the police “Blue Code of Silence” — everyone seems to ignore the truth to save their own skins. Complaint after complaint last night about Principal Gretchen Jacobs of Sun Terrace — my first thought last night and still is: Who is her SASS Coach ? Why did it take four months for someone to ring the “fire bell” and the district finally respond ? If the SASS coach had been on the ball, this long term sub issue in 1st grade would have been made known and solved in early February at the latest ? It doesn’t sound like the SASS coach was doing her job — everyone today is silent about it. Its the MDUSD ‘Code of Silence’.

  16. Doctor J Says:

    @Theresa, what time did the Open session reconvene after the closed session ? I got the impression that the closed session was particularly long — does anyone know why ?

  17. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It was my impression that the open session started relatively on time (at least by the time I got there). Board President Sherry Whitmarsh said the board completed the superintendent’s evaluation, which was why she said she brought forward the contract extensions that night. Trustee Cheryl Hansen questioned why it took five months to complete the evaluation and then why the board was suddenly rushing to renew the contracts.
    Also, in response to questions about the FCMAT discussion, here is a link to the video: http://qik.com/video/50367155

  18. Jim Says:

    I hope that someone recorded Cheryl Hansen’s plea regarding the contract extensions, after the public comments concluded. She offered a concise and damning summary of the whole episode — trying for months to get some transparency on the superintendent’s evaluation; noting NOT ONE board-wide discussion about contract extensions during the ENTIRE period; questioning why there was no explanation, EVER, as to why some contracts were being extended while others were not; noting that there was no summary, ANYWERE, of the terms of the proposed extensions. And yet, now, suddenly, it was VERY IMPORTANT to hold this vote?!?

    To the last point, Gary, with his typical demeaning manner replied, in essence, that the existing contracts were a matter of public record, that each board member should be familiar with each contract already (in case there were a sudden vote to extend them all, 15 months early?!?), and that “anybody with any experience in education” would know that they have to be extended now, to avoid losing critical people.

    Fortunately, Cheryl kept her cool and simply asked, “Well, Supt. Lawrence’s initial contract had a $15,000 moving allowance. Should I assume that this new contract, which I haven’t seen, provides another $15,000 for him to move again?” Of course, no one had an answer for that, because they were planning to vote on extending a contract that none of them had seen yet. It was a simple, graphic way for Cheryl to show the stupidity and recklessness of Sherry’s resolution. No wonder Sherry’s resolution could not even get a second when the time came. Even Gary, Linda and Lynn were embarrassed by how foolish they all looked by that point. (One marvels that they could not anticipate EXACTLY that outcome!)

    Gary’s proposal to extend the contracts for only one year was a face-saving measure that minimized the damage for the rest of us. It wasn’t an ideal outcome, but these days, the most we can hope for is damage control — that this board will resist pulling the roof down on themselves, and all the kids in the district.

    The most important job that ANY board — public or private — must carry out is the hiring, ongoing evaluation, and replacement (if necessary) of the chief executive. By treating these contract extensions as a trivial, uninformed, undeliberated, last-minute decision, the MDUSD board showed us last night that they do not understand the importance of their job and have no clue how to do it.

  19. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Jim: I am still going through all my video clips, but here’s the introduction of the contract extensions: http://qik.com/video/50366185
    Regarding the moving allowance, it was $25,000 to go toward the purchase of Lawrence’s home. Hansen questioned whether the new contract would include another $25,000 if he moves to another home within the district.
    As you point out, the board approved contract extensions without seeing them, based on the old contracts.

  20. g Says:

    Most interesting to me was Linda Mayo’s assertion last night that went something like: “We need to assure that these contracts are renewed, because with this districts reputation – or – with what’s been going on in this district, we wouldn’t get any applicants for the jobs” That isn’t a good quote, but it’s close. Maybe KVHS keeps a recording?

    However she said it–way to go Linda! Good job doing a dis on your own team and its poor leadership.

  21. g Says:

    Sorry, the comment wasn’t last night, I found it in the letter quoted on the 23rd. I need to get some sleep!

  22. Doctor J Says:

    @Jim#18-What a great line by Cheryl. The motion as was presented was just to “extend” the old contracts for one year, not to write a new contract. In about 3 months, Theresa should ask for copies of the written “extensions”. The only other line that Cheryl could have used against Gary’s bombastic rhetoric, would have been that she would have requested copies of the contracts earlier, but Greg Rolen charges ten cents a page for board members to get public records. [Think Alicia M. on that line !]

  23. Frustrated Says:

    To #13 and 10

    The intent to return to MDE is simply to help with staffing projections. It was done last year as well. It’s most likely just a waste of paper since it is not binding in any way and many families don’t return it.

  24. Jim Says:

    #19 — Thanks, Theresa, for the corrected figure. (It’s always good to have a professional reporter around!) The clip of Cheryl’s public comment would be great to share for posterity, if you captured it.

  25. Jim Says:

    I left before the board voted on the by-law change to allow board members to be “censured”. Does the result of that vote appear anywhere?

  26. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I recorded most of the meeting, so I’m pretty sure I got that. I’m uploading clips to YouTube now at: http://www.youtube.com/tunedtotheresa.
    Due to limited storage space on my video devices, I have to switch between Qik on my cell phone and YouTube videos on my FlipVIdeo camera.

    Regarding the bylaw, that was presented for information only, but may be brought back for a vote. Hansen asked who drafted it and Rolen said he basically “stole” it from the Orange school district. He said several board members had approached him asking for censure language. Hansen seemed surprised and said it was an “amazing waste of time,” given the educational issues the board needs to address.

  27. Doctor J Says:

    @th#26 As I referenced yesterday, the Board is to request the Supt to draft, and not go directly to the General Counsel. Rolen obviously wasn’t familiar with the MDUSD By-laws that already contained much of the boilerplate language from the California ?School Board Association on the Board responsibilities, and had not read the MDUSD By-law about resolving differences. Obviously has taken sides between Board members which is a conflict of interest as the Board’s attorney. Trustee Hansen needs to lawyer up with an independent lawyer at District expense due to Rolen’s prejudice.

  28. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is part one of the board discussion regarding the contract extensions, which includes the initial motions and comments from Trustee Linda Mayo and other trustees: http://youtu.be/dtrOb64TfrA
    Here is part 2, in which Hansen questions Lawrence’s leadership: http://youtu.be/lIKGtkkq4no
    Here is part 3, in which Hansen raises questions about Lawrence’s contract and asks why all assistant superintendents were not selected for contract extensions, followed by Eberhart’s comments: http://youtu.be/oFQ57up5mZo
    Here is part 4, in which Eberhart defends the contract extensions: http://youtu.be/T5e3rsrW_l8

  29. Anon Says:

    Even more upsetting is watching the president of UMDAF speak in support of Lawrence’s contract extension, giving Lawrence all the credit for saving sports. I’d like to know how to request a refund of my UMDAF fees-they can take the refund out of Lawrence’s contract, thank you very much!

  30. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have updated my story, with more detail from the meeting: http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_20467440/mt-diablo-school-board-increases-property-tax-rate

  31. g Says:

    Theresa; do you think Lynn Dennler has any idea what she voted for without speaking up for revisions with Hansen?

    The Resolution on the Agenda says it is “Revised”. Which part of it is the revision? It still looks screwy to me. It is called 2012 Series B. I still do not see a 2012 Series A having been authorized. Had they already begun a sale that has not been published yet?

    Just a couple tidbits from the Resolution:

    Section 3. Purchase Agreement and Terms of Bonds. For the above purposes, this
    District Board hereby requests the County Board to issue the Bonds and to order such Bonds to be sold to the Representative, at a –negotiated sale– in accordance with the Purchase Agreement.
    The Bonds shall be dated their date of delivery (or such other date as may be designated in the Purchase Agreement), to bear or accrete interest at rates not to exceed the maximum rate permitted by law, payable with respect to any Bonds bearing–‘current interest’– on the dates as may
    be set forth in the Purchase Agreement, –AND– accreting with respect to any Bonds which are issued as –‘capital appreciation bonds’–, payable upon maturity, shall mature on August 1 of each of the years as set forth in the Purchase Agreement, through a date no later than August 1, 2036, –‘OR otherwise’– upon such other terms and conditions as shall be established for the Bonds by the
    Purchase Agreement.

    Section 4. Official Statement. The District Board hereby approves the form of
    –‘Preliminary Official Statement’– relating to the Bonds on file with the Clerk of the District Board and to be used and distributed, together with an –‘Official Statement’– in connection with the sale of
    the Bonds …

    Were the Preliminary Official Statement and Official Statement included in the Agenda packet?

    When Isom jumped back up for a second and clarified with Lawrence “you mean no purchase of land, but not real estate” when discussing a proposed “after the vote” change to the Resolution—and Lawrence agreed, I felt another surprise coming soon.

  32. Alicia Says:

    @G – I couldn’t tell what was revised in the bond resolution either, but I noticed there was a lot wrong with it. During public comment, I raised the issue, among others, regarding that the preliminary official bond statement and purchase agreement with the bond underwriter were not provided to the public (i.e., were not attached to the Agenda). These documents contain important information regarding the terms of the bond, and I told the Board that these items should have been voted on separately from the resolution. Also, the Board was not presented with the preliminary official bond statement or purchase agreement, as the resolution indicated. It amazes me that the Board, except Hansen, approved the resolution without studying critical documents like the purchase agreement and official bond statement, and without amending the resolution to be consistent with their decision for Option 3. It was like the Board signed a blank check or a blank loan application, and is trusting staff to fill in the information. Further, by failing to amend the resolution to be consistent with Option 3, as Hansen motioned, staff does not have clear instruction on how to proceed. My worst fear is that the bond resolution will be the governing document and CABs will be issued after all…probably in 2015. Eberhart/Mayo said that they believed the resolution didn’t have to be amended because staff would understand the “will of the Board”. Really? The will of the Board does not have to be adhered to unless it is in writing in a RESOLUTION. The RESOLUTION must be representative and consistent with action taken by the Board, and it will be provided to the County Controller and Treasurer, as required by the Ed Code 15140.

  33. g Says:

    Alicia: Surely they are all smart enough to know that the motion to Sell The Bonds, even with language saying they Intend to use Option 3 means virtually nothing legally!

    It’s the document with the Whereas and Wherefore and Be it Resolved that are binding, and that document has nothing in it that promises to either preserve funds or fix anything in particular or save on costs.

    It does say, very cleverly however, that they can use the money, or just invest it, however they wish.

  34. Wait a minute Says:

    Yes it is incredible how this 4 board majority “Wing It” in regards to their fiduciary (and other) duties.

    Approving contracts and other important financial commitments WITHOUT EVEN READING THEM!!!!

    This alone should be a Grand Jury Complaint.

    When EberMarsh/Mayo just trust staff to to follow their will puts the incompetent and unethical Stevie Lawrence in charge because he’s the one that directs the staff. Of course they just extended his contract!

    It all remains me of the village idiot Bush Jr. and his infatuation/admiration of Alexander Putin–who proceeded to unwind democracy in Russia and manipulated the system so he could assume dictatorial powers.

  35. outraged Says:

    As a retired person with limited income, how dare they
    do this! Hard to make my house payment as it is!! Breaking their promise sounds like a law suit to me. Definitely not re-electing these idiots.

  36. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g and Alicia: The way the minutes are now done, the will of the board is not likely to appear. Therefore, the public will have to hope the audio recording will be available in 2015. Unfortunately, I may have erased my recording of the bond discussion to make space for the contract extension discussion. I still haven’t finished reviewing all my clips yet.
    Outraged: It’s possible this move could end up hurting other school districts as well. Now, MDUSD is setting a precedent showing that no district can be trusted to adhere to its ballot tax rate statement. Some districts, however, put tax rate extension language into the actual ballot measure. Perhaps that is legally binding.

  37. g Says:

    Outraged: We have to go beyond “not voting for them”. We have to actively “campaign against them”. Talk to everyone you know. Start NOW speaking about this at Neighborhood Association meetings. Ask Senior Club members to speak at their meetings. Let your City, District, County councils and Assembly members know your support of them and their causes is dependent on their support of the voters and taxpayers in this endeavor.

    Gary and Sherry must GO. We must try again. Whether newly elected members will be more upstanding and honest and respectful to the desires of the people waits to be seen. But I don’t think anyone could be worse than what we have now.

  38. Doctor J Says:

    @G, as the CCT Editorial suggests, its going to take a lawsuit to stop them — they are arrogantly out of control. Waiting until the election will be too late.

  39. Doctor J Says:

    Linda Mayo is keeping a secret — why would she want to exclude Greg Rolen from a contract extension ?

  40. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: That is a good question. She noted in her comments that she had previously spoken about her reasons for not wanting to extend the administrator comments before Superintendent Lawrence arrived, but said they may not have shown up in the minutes. Alas, the video of that meeting is no longer available. I’ll try to find my notes.
    Do you think Mayo’s motion will hinder her relationship with Rolen going forward?

  41. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#40 – Rolen doesn’t view a relationship with Mayo as necessary or important — whereas Rolen has a symbiotic relationship with Eberhart and one with Lawrence and vece-versa. That’s why if law enforcement ever got them in separate rooms, one would crack and spill their guts over the other two in order to save his own skin.

  42. Anon Says:

    So now the question is who has what it takes to do a lawsuit? I don’t know what it would take to do this but am willing to step forward and help. If we want to get off the bottom we need to do something. Our kids deserve better!

  43. Doctor J Says:

    Any reports of the parents meeting last night at Sun Terrace ?

  44. Anon Says:

    Another question is has anyone read the contract extensions? I may have missed that part of the thread but I believe Cheryl Hansen pointed out that she had not seen them. Who drafted them? Rolen? How can the Board vote on something site un-seen?

  45. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, the board did vote on something sight-unseen. It’s unclear who drafted them or when they will be made available to the public.

  46. g Says:

    Dr. J @39. Perhaps, while not always quite up to our needs and expectations as a board member, she is a very moral person, and expects no less than the same from others in the district.

  47. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is a message from the PHMS principal to the community about a suspicious man who approached a female student Monday: http://bit.ly/JBmkKY

  48. Katherine Says:

    Public comment #8 – I, Katherine Friedman, just want to clarify some things.
    I first voiced my concern to Jacobs when the first substitute left in mid-January. The response, over three months later, from Jacobs was not a direct response to me, but a letter to all of the parents of students in my son’s class inviting us to a meeting which was held last night (4/25) to discuss her plans for the remainder of the year. My issue was that in all the times I went to Jacobs, as well as other parents, our concerns were not addressed, but when the district received complaints and therefore got involved, then our concerns were finally addressed. It should not take district involvement in order for parents to get a response.
    Secondly, I wanted to mention how disturbed I am that so many students, staff, and parents fear Jacobs. The fear separates us as a community and causes discord. I know it was hard to understand me crying, but I ended by pointing out the way students, staff, and parents greeted the former principal, Mrs. Smith, with love and excitement. I’m sure there will always be a handful of people that just won’t be happy but for the most part, employees should enjoy coming to work and students should enjoy learning; Sun Terrace should overall be a cheerful place.
    Happy students + happy staff = remarkable learning environment = higher test scores = students with greater confidence = children who become accomplished adults …. Happiness goes a long way!

  49. Katherine Says:

    #15 Doctor J – How do we find out more information about this SASS coach ???

  50. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Katherine, Whoever you met with last night should know about the SASS coach. Susan Petersen oversees elementary principals and coaches, I believe. Rose Lock is the head of the department. When she first took that job, she told me: “The buck stops here.”
    Ultimately, the buck stops with Superintendent Steven Lawrence and the board.

  51. Doctor J Says:

    @K#49&TH#50 I do not believe there is a published list of who the SASS coaches are, but the formational documents in May 2010 of SASS indicate all principals will have a SASS coach. I concur with Teresa that you should call Rose Lock’s office and ask for the name.

  52. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#50 — Theresa, if you will check out the “new” Org Chart of SSASS, the School Site Administrators [principal coaches] no longer report to the Directors of Secondary and Elementary, but report directly to Rose Lock as the Asst Supt of SASS.

  53. Doctor J Says:

    Steven Lawrence seems to have some experience with keeping people off the agenda under the Brown Act. http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?id=274 Even though the District won the lawsuit, its interesting to read the story of Lawrence’s tactics in keeping the issue from being discussed at various committee and board meetings.

  54. Katherine Says:

    #43 Doctor J – I attended. In a nut shell, it was very different from the board meeting. Jacobs presented us with her plans for the remainder of the year which includes a second teacher M-F and additional support M-Th. We basically had an open discussion. Sounds like this class will get learning material to take home over the summer as well. Jacobs was apologetic and told us that she most assuredly would have handled things differently….concerning the situation with all the substitutes in our student’s class. Susan Peterson was in attendance.
    #50 T. Harrington – I wish I would have known that last night as Peterson attended the meeting. I guess this is one more thing to look into.

  55. Theresa Harrington Says:

    As Hansen pointed out, the issue of relocating alternative education schools has never come before the board, yet it seemed like a done deal to those who spoke during public comment.
    What other decisions are being made with no public knowledge?

  56. Mdusd Employee Says:

    @G-
    If Linda Mayo knows something that could have significant impact on the district she is obligated to bring it forward. If she does not, she is complicit in the wrong that occurs.

  57. Katherine Says:

    @ T. Harrington – I don’t see the public comment of Willie Mims ???

  58. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Sorry, I ran out of time to do a comprehensive live blog. However, I do have notes and will update the blog with those.

  59. Katherine Says:

    #58 – wonderful. Thank you.

  60. g Says:

    MDUSDemployee: She is obligated to take her concerns to the Board. She is not obligated to air her “feelings” to the public. The decision to weigh her concerns and act on them, or not, is the obligation of the Board. Once in the hands of the board, those who ‘live in glass houses’ might have a hard time taking a public stand.

  61. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#55 Other decisions being made behind closed doors without public knowledge is the boundary changes being made by a secret committee. As you can see by the modus operandi of Lawrence as I referenced in #53, he prefers the darkness behind closed doors as opposed to the light of open government. Yes, ultimately all of these decisions will need “ratification” from the board, but in the meantime the public has no meaningful input into open meetings subject to the Brown Act. The public’s input will be limited to 3 minutes WITHOUT all of the background information so valuable in commenting upon proposed Board actions, and WITHOUT all of the factual information necessary to evaluate the recommendation being made to the Board by the Supt via the “secret committee” without notice to the public.

  62. Anon Says:

    Sorry all for the mis-spelling sight unseen. I am a dyslexic that has trouble remembering the rules of language. I hope that does not make anyone think that my comments are not worth anything or that I am stupid.
    Just wanted to explain so people don’t overlook a comment with errors. I also have a difficult time with punctuation.

  63. Doctor J Says:

    Its about time the the public exercises its rights to place items on the Board agenda. E.g. placing an item on the Agenda for appointment of a standing Boundary Committee to consider all changes to boundaries and make recommendations to the Board. Just follow this procedure outlined in Board By-law 9322: “Any member of the public or any Board member may request that a matter within the jurisdiction of the Board be placed on the agenda of a regular meeting. The request must be in writing and be submitted to the Superintendent or designee with supporting documents and information, if any, at least two weeks before the scheduled meeting date. Items submitted less than two weeks before the scheduled meeting date may be postponed to a later meeting in order to allow sufficient time for consideration and research of the issue. “

  64. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Please note that I have posted an update to this blog post with notes from the rest of the public comments during Monday’s meeting, which include comments by Willie Mim.

  65. Mdusd Employee Says:

    G. Linda moved to separate Rolen from the group. Then she sat without comment. Do you think she got cold feet or just a dirty look from Gary? There’s no issue with bringing something potentially problematic to the board before publicly dealing with it, but, the way she brought the motion forward and then backed off without comment was very odd.

  66. g Says:

    Anon @62: This is not “that other” popular blog in this area. While we don’t all hold doctorates, (or maybe even any college degree) we are generally more interested in what is “right and properly stated” by management of the school district, as opposed to what looks pretty on the blog. So, not to worry! It’s the idea that counts.

  67. g Says:

    However, Anon @62. Could I suggest that you devise a privacy identity other than just “Anon”, so that we will recognize you when you comment. So often two or three Anons will comment with very disparate ideas and it is hard to relate to them.

  68. Anon Says:

    Thank you G. I do feel very comfortable here.

  69. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: Thank you for that suggestion. We may change our blog rules in the future. I am looking at other blogs and noticed that one requires commenters to either use their real names or choose a pseudonym and stick with it. I agree that would be useful on this blog also.

  70. g Says:

    MDUSD Employee @65. It would have been improper to discuss something that may have been a “personnel issue” in closed session.

    We note that Sherry also did not express publicly a reason to exclude Mildred Browne in that same motion.

  71. g Says:

    Theresa, it’s funny but sad about privacy names on blogs. When I very first commented here, I used the same name I used elsewhere. Then someone started commenting using that fairly distinctive name over on “the other” blog with views very opposite to mine, so I changed my name on both blogs. Now, there is a “G” over on that other blog too. Very frustrating since I do not want to have anyone else’s comments attributed to me (even when I agree with the content).

  72. Doctor J Says:

    @G#70 – Cheryl gave us a glimpse of the six-month on-going Lawrence evaluation, clearly in violation of the contract and the by-laws. Never once has there been a vote to approve any kind of performance review. I suspect the same thing with Rolen. But Sherry also let the cat out of the bag about some of the discussions during the closed session perfomance review that clearly violated the closed session rule because they were matters unrelated to performance and should have been publicly discussed.

  73. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: However, Trustee Cheryl Hansen did highlight many areas in which she saw a lack of leadership in the superintendent. There have also been issues for which Rolen is responsible that have been publicly discussed, such as busing.
    MIke Langley also suggested that not all of the problems in the district are attributable to a lack of state funding. District leaders, he hinted, might be accountable for some.

  74. g Says:

    Theresa, yes; and she was very astute in making sure it was said as “her observation”, not anything that she might have gleaned from closed sessions. She lets some things slip by, but she is a very smart lady.

  75. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Obviously, any other board member could make similar observations about things that have been publicly discussed, such as six School Improvement Grant schools, the achievement gap and disproportionality issues cited by Willie Mims, the frustrations raised by Sun Terrace parents about their principal and by complaints about alternative education moves, along with poor district communications cited by John Ferrante. Even the Walnut Creek parent who spoke in favor of extending the superintendent’s contract acknowledged that the public comments showed more work needs to be done. Who is accountable for that work?

  76. Doctor J Says:

    Lawrence’s blunders are legendary, beginning with Buttercupgate, and seem to occur about once a month.

  77. Doctor J Says:

    Coincidence or a bigger issue ? Posted today job openings for ALL Boy’s Basketball Coach positions [Vars/JV/Fresh] at YVHS — just nine days after job openings posted for ALL Boy’s Basketball Coach positions at Northgate [Vars/JV/Fresh]. Also strange was the statement of support for Lawrence on Monday by the athletic foundation. Are any of these events linked ?

  78. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is Times’ columnist Tom Barnidge’s take on the contract extension discussion: http://bit.ly/IqPEkb

  79. Anon Says:

    Excellent – berries and cream!

  80. Jim Says:

    Another GREAT column from Tom!

  81. Doctor J Says:

    Classic “Brillance by Barnidge” — great quotes from Cheryl Hansen — Lawrence’s tenure not exactly “berries and cream”. But Tom got one thing wrong — Lawrence’s contract costs the taxpayers $300,000 a year, not the $250k, with nearly $20,000 of MedicalDentalVision, plus administrative increases set to hit this year, plus huge amounts of contributions to his retirement. And Tom, you only hit a few of the major scandals — next time please start with Buttercupgate, and “progresses” from there ! Thanks for including Chevrongate !

  82. Doctor J Says:

    Sorry Tom, forgot to commend you for mentioning QEIAgate and Toiletgate too. You were right — where were the kudos from the other Board members for Lawrence’s 27 month performance ? Nada.

  83. Doctor J Says:

    So what happened at last night’s Boundary Change meeting at Meadow Homes with Supt Lawrence and Rose Lock ? See the teacher’s comment to the Board [5] which essentially announced that meeting. Were the changes from the secret committee announced ? Are there meetings scheduled at other schools ? Why does this teacher feel that shipping hundreds of MH students off to other schools “will best serve” the remaining students at MH if they are poised for success ?? Why not keep the status quo ? Or is this really a disguised attempt by the Supt to eliminate bussing costs ?

  84. Theresa Harrington Says:

    As I have noted, the principal told me that Meadow Homes is overcrowded and the school needs more space for a science center that is planned as part of the SIG. So, some students will be moved according to new boundaries.
    Superintendent Steven Lawrence has also said the boundary change would save money on busing costs. I don’t think he has disguised this. He has been candid about it. It was part of the $1.5 million in savings the board approved along with the school closures, when trustees decided not to close a third school.
    If Meadow Homes students are sent to higher-performing schools, it’s possible that could benefit them. However, they would miss out on the SIG improvements. Also, Meadow Homes could be better able to serve EL students, since it has so many.
    Lawrence admitted on Monday that it would take a “critical mass” of students to fully implement the EL plan at schools. This means those with only a few EL students would not receive as many services. This did not sit well with one EL plan advocate, who said the district is required to provide services “as needed,” instead of “as available,” which Lawrence changed the plan to say.
    Lawrence has been less candid about the alternative high school moves. Also during the school closure process, Lawrence said the district would look at consolidating small necessary high schools.
    He originally promised to convene a task force, but later told me he had put that idea on hold, thinking the high school issue would be addressed as part of the strategic plan and equity advisory team.
    Now, it appears that decisions have been made about moving small necessary high schools without the promised task force and without any board discussion or approval.

  85. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Speaking of “secret meetings,” attempts by SunPower and the district to conduct what most would assume would be a public celebration for the largest K-12 solar project in the country as a semi-secret invitation-only event in the middle of a weekday appear to be backfiring.
    When John Ferrante — one of Measure C’s staunchest supporters — stood up and blasted the board for failing to consult or even invite the BOC to the event, it appeared that the district had failed to capitalize on an opportunity to shine and instead once again had a spotlight pointed on its apparent inability to communicate well with the community.
    Workers were painting the carports at Northgate this morning in anticipation of the semi-secret event, but there was no mention of it on the sign in front of the school.

  86. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, maybe you should ask Principal Dr. Newling for the “facts” on enrollment. Meadow Homes enrollment for next year is not likely to be less than this year. MDUSD reports current enrollment for this school year 2011-12 at 908 students. See link below. After the proposed student shuffle, Meadow Homes will still have a student resident population in excess of current enrollment. Because the current student resident population in MH boundaries is about 250 children more than the enrollment, the excess are being bussed at district expense to other schools, and a few are NCLB transfers, but not many, since MH is a very popular school within the community. The Lawrence/Lock resuffle plan is simply to shift the burden of cost of transportation for about 250 MH resident children from district bussing to the socio-disadvantaged families in the current MH boundary pattern. MH children being affected will be sent to Gregory Gardens, Wren, Cambridge, and YVE. Then you will have the domino effect of Fair Oaks, Westwood and Woodside receiving children from the schools that are receiving MH children. What the numbers don’t tell, is that many students who are now receiving the benefits of MH EL program [58? plus API points last year] will be shipped out while a “pilot” EL program is experimented with at other schools, and students being overflowed will be put back into MH.
    The bottom line is that the MH student enrollment will not be significantly different from this year as Dr. Newling explained to you. The only explanation for a monumental boundary shift like this by a “secret committee” not open to public participation and review, is simply to “cut bussing costs”.
    And lets not forget, the MH SIG application and budget submitted last November 2011 has zero money allocated for this mythical science center, despite verbal claims, not backed up with documents, to the contrary by Dr. Newling and Dr. Lawrence. If it does, please show us where. Those applications were approved by CDE and are public record. http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/Enrollment/GradeEnr.aspx?cChoice=DistEnrGr2&cYear=2010-11&cSelect=0761754–MT.+DIABLO+UNIFIED&TheCounty=&cLevel=District&cTopic=Enrollment&myTimeFrame=S&cType=ALL&cGender=B

  87. Anon Says:

    TH#85-The secret meeting was covered in Walnut Creek Journal, whoops
    http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_20478783/walnut-creek-school-notes-las-lomas-work-day?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com

    “Last week, this column included a note about Mt. Diablo district’s solar dedication event. But apparently this solar event is not open to the public but instead invitation only. The flier for the event is listed in news releases section of the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce.”

    That is MDUSD’s third bad press in two days, after the bond editorial and the Barnidge contract extension column. Can we invoke the three strikes law?

    These are PUBLIC schools paid with our PUBLIC taxes, and these private back room invitation only shenanigans must stop!

  88. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: When the SunPower PR rep called to tell me the event was invitiation-only, after seeing it in my blog, I pointed out to her that the Walnut Creek Journal had published a School Note about the event that gave the impression it was open to the public. She said she would call the Times’ Walnut Creek reporter to inform her that it was invitation-only. That is why the Journal printed a clarification this week, explaining that the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce had promoted the event to its members, giving the impression that it was open to the public.
    So, it appears that the Chamber of Commerce was invited and the BOC wasn’t.
    Yesterday, I noticed that the district had quietly added a link to the invitation on its home page: http://www.mdusd.org/Documents/MDUSD%20Dedication%20Ceremony%20Invitation.pdf
    However, the deadline to RSVP was also yesterday.

  89. Anon Says:

    That’s what Maxwell Smart would call “the old retract the public notice and then post it after the rsvp deadline trick.” I’m sure that won’t stop Max and 99 from crashing the party . . .

  90. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Some BOC members may have to crash the party!

  91. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Some BOC members may have to crash the party! However, the district’s failure to extend an invitation to them could dampen their party moods.

  92. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Some BOC members may have to crash the party! But, the district’s failure to extend an invitation to them could dampen their party moods.

  93. Doctor J Says:

    With all the media there, sounds like a ripe time for some MDEA and Local One pickets.

  94. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Now that the news that the board has broken its promise not to increase property tax rates is starting to sink in with the public, property owners might even protest.

  95. Anon Says:

    Would anyone be willing to show up with me at the Sunpower event and protest?

    I’m thinking big signs with all the various “Gates” that have led us to this point. You can be The Gary will be there maybe we could make him really uncomfortable in front of the press.

    How about it? Anyone game?

  96. Anon Says:

    Maybe that’s why it’s scheduled during the school day so teachers can’t picket. Why else schedule such an extravaganza during school hours? Do the Chamber of Commerce members really want to see our ragamuffins, and vice versa? Are students invited . . . to sample the catering?

  97. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Since the event will take place during lunchtime on campus, some students might be inclined to wander over to see what all the fuss is about.

  98. Doctor J Says:

    The Senior Citizens groups riding their scooters on the sidewalks with signs about DOUBLING the taxrate, MDUSD BREAKING the promise to the voters. Someone needs to do a sign that the District paid for Gary’s solar education at Berkeley and he parlayed it into a new job. Yes, I love the idea of signs with all the GATES, beginning with Buttercupgate ! Film at 11. I guarantee you this party is being charged to Meas C, in one form or another !

  99. Wait a minute Says:

    OCCUPY NORTHGATE!!!!

  100. Anon Says:

    Alright I’m in. I don’t want to get arrested though. Does anyone know the rules for a member of the public to protest on a school campus?

    Will I have to stay across the street? Can I be on the sidewalk closest to the school?

  101. Anon Says:

    Pretty sure you need the district or the principal’s permission to be on campus. You can be on the city sidewalk next to campus, and at Northgate there’s a city park next to the parking lot where the solar panels are. You can check with the district, school office or city to confirm your location.

  102. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, here’s the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce invitation/calendar event item: http://www.chamberorganizer.com/Calendar/moreinfo.php?eventid=77667

  103. Doctor J Says:

    Print off your invitation to attend “Please join us”. Looks to me like that gives you permission to be on school grounds. http://www.mdusd.org/Documents/MDUSD%20Dedication%20Ceremony%20Invitation.pdf

  104. Anon Says:

    Ok I will be there. Trying to decide what I will put on my sign.

    Strongly considering:

    “Hey Lawrence, what kickbacks did Sun Power give you that Chevron did not?”

    Underneath I will have the words. ButtercupGate! ChevronGate! and TolietGate!

  105. Doctor J Says:

    When will other parents be told about Elementary Boundary Changes ? Are Lawrence and Lock going to meet with parents at Gregory Gardens, Wren, Cambridge, YVE, Fair Oaks, Westwood or Woodside ?

  106. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Note: I have added a link to the April 23 meeting audio at the bottom of the blog post.

  107. Doctor J Says:

    This comment has been edited to delete an offensive characterization.

    Theresa, would you please email Supt Lawrence and ask him as a courtesy to the public to direct the … staff member sitting near a microphone to not type emails or other things on the computer and distract from the recording of the meeting. This is about the fourth meeting this has happened.

  108. Doctor J Says:

    Well Theresa, after this offensive conduct has been pointed out over a several month period, and not corrected, one might question the intelligence of this person “sitting around the table” with his or her microphone “on”, and wonder how this employee is “paying attention” to the meeting while typing incesently. With the lack of specificity in the minutes, it certainly is not the Supt’s secretary, and when various individuals are speaking, it is clear it is not anyone speaking while the clicking continues. Perhaps with one of your videos synched with the audio, we can see who it is, and can call him/her to public repentance ! I am sorry “idiot” was too strong for your preference.

  109. **anon Says:

    @ anon #99 and #100: I’m in, too. And i would like to suggest that you email all PTA/PFC presidents at each school (go onto “Our Schools” on the district website – then click on each school’s website)and encourage PFC/PTA presidents and their members to attend the May 1st meeting at 1:00 at Northgate. Your email to encourage attendance cannot be blocked as that would be an interference with our constitutional rights in regards to freedom of speech. Since I’m a stay-at-home mom, what also would be helpful is a list of all the “gates”; after reading this blog, what very much concerns me is the secret meetings that this superintendent, general counsel, and board members use to make decisions that should be made public. Being a stay-at-home mom, I believe I can speak for others in my position that anything you believe should be posted on a sign is something that we’re happy to do-but we need guidance. Of most concern is what is happening behind closed doors when the law requires that these decisions be made public. I feel guilty that I have not kept up with all of the immoral and illegal happenings as mentioned above; and I also believe that via the PFC/PTA members were made aware of these happenings that many would show up on May 1st. Because our first focus is our children, we’ve been snowballed by this superintendent, general counsel, and school board because we have trusted that every decision they make is in the best interest of our children; obviously, this is not the case. And the power of many mama bears is not something that should be taken lightly. Please reach out to all of the mama bears in this district and we’ll be there. I plan to inform the mom’s in my neighborhood, tomorrow.

  110. Anon Says:

    Mama Bears want to set a good example for our students, showing them the First Amendment in action.

  111. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In stark contrast to MDUSD, the WCCUSD superintendent abruptly changed his mind about closing an alternative high school after receiving many pleas from the public to keep it open: http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_20488850/west-contra-costa-school-district-rescinds-decision-close.
    The WCCUSD board president also said he and other trustees heard the concerns expressed by the alternative ed advocates loud and clear.
    The MDUSD board (except for Trustee Cheryl Hansen) and superintendent, on the other hand, failed to respond at all to the alternative education advocates who made similar pleas Monday night. Trustee Gary Eberhart asked the superintendent to follow up on concerns raised by Sun Terrace parents, but he did not even inquire about the alternative education issue. Hansen said she would like the board to discuss it, but no one else assured the public that her request would be honored.
    It remains to be seen whether the MDUSD superintendent will respond to the concerns raised. It’s unknown whether he and other MDUSD trustees heard the concerns loud and clear.

  112. Doctor J Says:

    And how many times do Board members request the Supt to “follow up” but NEVER does the Supt bring back a written report to the Board for public discussion. Trustees, if they are sincere, should request a “written report” and placed on the agenda within X number of days or weeks. Trustees, if they are not sincere, can continue to request “follow up” and the subject never is brought back or even makes the minutes !

  113. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Speaking of the minutes, Trustee Cheryl Hansen requested a change to the minutes from the previous board meeting because her Points of Order were not included. If something as important as a Point of Order is omitted, it does not appear likely that a verbal request by a board member for something to be followed up on would be included.

  114. Doctor J Says:

    It was difficult to hear all of Trustee Hansen’s comments due to the incessant clack-clack of keyboard strikes by some unnamed Ass.Supt. but apparently Cheryl submitted her changes in writing. Was it Gary that requested they be included and brought back for approval next meeting ?

  115. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, Eberhart requested that the revisions be brought back to the board for approval. Hansen’s revisions included her assertions that board bylaws had been violated and that Board President Sherry Whitmarsh refused to rule on the Points of Order raised.

  116. Theresa Harrington Says:

    By the way, workers were continuing to paint the carports at Northgate HS this morning. It’s unclear why carports that were installed less than a year ago already need to be repainted.
    If every carport in the district has to be repainted annually, that will add quite a bit in maintenance costs to the solar project.

  117. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    @TH 116 – Maybe the maintenance or solar project people could find the time and $$ to fix the solar panel/carport corner at the entrance of CHS where some large vehicle took out 2 panels and bent the I-beam … the caution tape has been blowing around in the wind and the large orange pylons have been out there for well over 2 weeks now.

    Amazing where this district’s priorities are … I am always completely frustrated at how this district does business of any kind.

  118. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Perhaps that’s part of the reason Concord HS was not chosen for the dedication event.
    Instead, neat rows of caution tape are blocking off parking spaces at Northgate HS so workers can get beneath the carport (which shows no visible signs of deterioration) to spruce it up for the event on Tuesday.
    Staff and parents from other schools have found that sometimes the only way to get the district’s attention is to bring a contingent of speakers to a board meeting. And even then, there’s no guarantee any action will be taken to address the issues raised.

  119. Wait a minute Says:

    Its nice to know that The Gary has again re-directed scarce district resources to benefit himself and SunPower!

  120. Theresa Harrington Says:

    At one of the bond acceleration meetings, Pete Pedersen said he was excited about the opportunity to install HVAC at all schools sooner, because equity was what floats his boat.
    It’s unclear whether equity in terms of repairs and maintenance (such as for solar carports, for example) is also a Measure C priority.

  121. Doctor J Says:

    I wonder why SunPower isn’t footing the bill for painting of the carports, since its their business promotional event ? Lets see all the emails between SunPower and MDUSD re this event.

  122. Doctor J Says:

    Did all the parent complaints Mon night at the Board Meeting about Sun Terrace principal make any difference or improvement ?

  123. SunPower Protester Says:

    I can’t wait for the media to see my signs about what SunPower and The Gary have done to our district.

    I plan on attracting lots of media attention with my 1st admendment protected comments on my signs. SunPower and The Gary are bound to be po’ed.

  124. Theresa Harrington Says:

    There was a meeting with the first grade parents whose children have had 13 substitutes, but I hear some are still not satisfied with the overall campus climate. Some plan to speak again at the May 7 board meeting and a petition is circulating.

  125. Doctor J Says:

    I am working on a list of “gates”, but there are a lot of them ! I will try to post by mid Sunday. Here are just a couple of teasers:
    ButtercupGATE
    NugentGATE
    ChevronGATE
    GolfGATE
    and more recently
    AgendaGATE
    GetCherylGATE

  126. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    So ironic this is happening at NorthGATE …

  127. Doctor J Says:

    Add “WaiverGATE” to Lawrence and Eberhart’s list of fiascos: CDE recommends DENIAL of Waiver Petition: “The California Department of Education (CDE) recommends that the State Board of Education (SBE) deny the waiver request per Education Code (EC) Section 33051(a)(6) because the request would substantially increase state costs. Further, pursuant to EC Section 33051(a)(8), the apportionment statutes that govern school district revenue limits are not waivable. Approval of this waiver would have the same affect.” Ironically, if Lawrence and Eberhart had met the needs of students, faculty, parents and administration at CVHS, there would have been no need for a charter. The success to date of the charter is an indication of the lack of leadership of Lawrence and Eberhart. Instead of celebrating students on May Day, they will worship the Northgate carports. Simple idol worship. http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/ag/ag/yr12/documents/may12w26.doc

  128. Doctor J Says:

    Lawrence, Eberhart and Whitmarsh must have had advance knowledge of the denial of the Waiver costing the district $1.8 million and needed to get Lawrence’s contract extended with the Big5 BEFORE it became public knowledge that Lawrence and Eberhart’s failure to meet the needs of the CVHS students, faculty and parents is the root cause of the charter petition. To the boys and girls at Dent: please learn to treat your students, teachers, administrators and parents better or you will be facing “teacher trigger” charter after charter. Your actions cost the district $1.8 million and you get a raise and contract extension. Way to go Gary, Sherry, Linda and Lynne. You call that “solid” leadership ?

  129. Doctor J Says:

    What kind of delay shennanigans will Lawrence, Eberhart, Whitmarsh and Rolen dream up to keep Cheryl’s agenda items off the May 7 agenda Board agenda ?

  130. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Speaking of CVCHS, I heard the governing board has appointed an executive director, who has already met with teachers.
    Regarding May 7, the superintendent said he wants to have a board study session regarding the budget. This was part of his reason for not wanting to bring back the bond resolution with more specific language.
    However, the board approved the CVCHS waiver during a meeting that also included a board study session. So it has already set a precedent for combining board action items with a study session.

  131. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#130 The May 7 Board Meeting was designated by the Board as a “regular meeting” — only the “Board” not any individual Board member, including the President, can change that designation. I read that in gamutonline under the Board By-laws, which gave a reference to the Ed Code. Did the “Board” consent to change the May 7 meeting to a “study session” after Cheryl Hansen requested her ignored agenda items be placed on the May 7 agenda ?

  132. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No, trustees did not vote to convert the regularly scheduled board meeting on May 7 to a budget study session.
    As you probably know, the district doesn’t audio record study sessions, because it can’t figure out how to put microphones around the table. When I covered the city of Walnut Creek, however, they simply placed microphones in front of council members when they held study sessions. It’s unclear why this seems too complicated for MDUSD. Isn’t that essentially what they do when they hold board meetings at Monte Gardens?
    On another note, I have heard that some of the community members who advocated for the accelerated bond sales are very upset that the board didn’t agree to amend the resolution and bring it back with accompanying bond documents. Not everyone trusts staff and the bond underwriters to follow the board’s verbal direction (which may not show up in the minutes).

  133. Doctor J Says:

    Ha Ha Theresa — the District DOES have portable microphones and sound equipment — don’t fall for the ruse they don’t. The District set up portable microphones for Assemblywoman Bonilla’s hearing on TK at the end of March — I believe you were there ! When Lawrence “ordered” the portable microphones for Ms. Bonilla, he got them ! And the district paid for all of the “extra” work to set up the room and meeting.

  134. Doctor J Says:

    When LL decided to play with the rattlesnakes, its not surprising she got bit. As a member of the public she can place on the Board Agenda an item to modify the resolution to state its correct terms. Ask Alicia, but I believe that would have to be disclosed in the bond sale process.

  135. Doctor J Says:

    By unanimous resolution on Dec 13, 2011, the Board adopted the regular meeting schedule of the Board in 2012. See Agenda item 8.4. As for having combined business with a study session, remember the last time was when Lawrence nearly missed the deadline for submitting the ADA waiver for CVCHS to the State Board of Education. Remember too, that he didn’t provide the required “ten day notice” of the public hearing. Also, the application claims he published in CCTimes but no one ever saw it. And of course, the waiver application said they notified CCTimes !
    The $64 question — will Lawrence show up and argue for it ? Or Eberhart ?

  136. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, so all the district needs to figure out is how to connect the portable microphones to its audio recording equipment. Sounds like something the MDHS Digital Safari could help them with.

    Alicia Minyen says the district is not being transparent regarding the bond sales and that these documents should be brought before the board for public review and discussion. At the board meeting, Trustee Gary Eberhart appeared to want to prove to Trustee Cheryl Hansen that the resolution didn’t need to be amended. So, he and General Counsel Greg Rolen persuaded the rest of the board that it was fine as it was, based on advice from the bond counsel that Rolen apparently received privately.
    Minyen wonders why the bond counsel didn’t show up to publicly reassure the board about that.

  137. Doctor J Says:

    Just the fact that a member of the public submits a matter for the agenda, even if not yet placed on the agenda, is probably something that would have to be disclosed in the bond sale process. So the sooner they do it, it could halt the current bond sales until resolved. Especially, if the public member made it public and it hit the press. So once Lawrence has “knowledge” of a proposed change he must immediately disclose it — if he doesn’t, its probably much more serious than a Brown Act violation.

  138. Mdusd Employee Says:

    When is the Grand Jury and/or DA get involved in this? They would have enough here to keep them busy for a year.

  139. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is the excerpt of this blog that will be published tomorrow in the Contra Costa Times: http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_20504451/mt-diablo-school-board-extends-contracts-top-administrators

  140. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s Dan Borenstein’s column about the property tax hike, which will appear in tomorrow’s Times: http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_20498237/daniel-borenstein-ballot-dishonesty-demonstrates-need-new-state

  141. Doctor J Says:

    Borenstein’s column is spot on. I recommended on this blog when the issue arose that voters must be allowed to approve the increase. When school officials are caught lying and concealing the TRUTH to get more money, there should be consequences.

  142. Anon Says:

    DoctorJ-those consequences are called contract extensions . . .

  143. Doctor J Says:

    Lawrence casually disclosed that he proposed to Sherry Whitmarsh that May 7 not be a “regular meeting” but a budget workshop — neither Lawrence nor Whitmarsh nor diety has the authority to change the Board Dec 13, 2011 resolution for a “regular meeting” — only the Board can do that ! This comment was briefly made during the Board discussion on the Bond resolution discussion.

  144. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#142 — the proper consequences should be incarceration not contract extensions. Remember the City of Bell.

  145. Doctor J Says:

    In all 5 hours of last Monday’s Board meeting, did Lynne Dennler ever say a word ? As far as I can tell, all she did was push a button consistent with every vote Gary made.

  146. Doctor J Says:

    Lawrence modified, without Board approval, the Waiver Application approved by the Board on Feb 22, 2012. As I reported earlier today, the CDE has recommended denial. I compared the two applications: the one approved by the Board on Feb 22 and the one signed by Lawrence on Feb 23. There is one significant difference that I noticed. On Attachment B, the very last summary sentence approved by the Board on how the financial impact could be neutralized, was DELETED by Supt. Lawrence the following day on Feb 23. For whatever reason the deletion was made, Lawrence’s haibitual procrastination left him no room to seek Board approval on the significant change.

  147. Flippin Tired Says:

    http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2012/04/11/mdusd-to-hold-forums-regarding-proposed-property-tax-increase/

    “Doctor” J, can you tell us where you got the data you quote in #99 and #101 in the above thread? I asked three times, but haven’t seemed to capture your attention for an answer.

  148. Seriously... Says:

    Monday’s meeting had so many important issues, yet Dennler remained quiet. It’s astonishing that she has nothing to say when very important and controversial action items were on the Agenda.

  149. g Says:

    Dumb-ass quote of the year: “It’s on the Agenda tonight because we completed his evaluation tonight”.

    Sherry should take a hint from Lynn, never let your tongue run out ahead of your brain.

    And Sherry, for pete’s sake—this is a very diversified school district. Sign up for a class in how to pronounce names. Try reading phonetically! Do you go through that apologizing routine at work every time you have to say someone’s name? How do you get through a day? Geeez!

    Whatever– Just stop apologizing after every damn time you call out a person’s name. It makes you look ignorant and it’s very insulting to the majority of this district to have their hired help not know how to pronounce even very common names!

    You’d probably wet your panties if one of our Punjabi parents got up to speak.

  150. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Seriously: Dennler did comment on the English Learner plan, since she sat on the committee.
    It was surprising, however, that she didn’t comment on the contract extensions or bond sale acceleration.

  151. MoMx3 Says:

    Unfortunately, doesn’t it seem that Dennler is still over her head? She’s not doing “us” any favors by staying. Or is her silence something more sinister, like she doesn’t care?

  152. Doctor J Says:

    @Flippin #147 & Other Posts. I thought my response #25 in MDUSD Contract Extensions subject was a sufficient response to your repeated questions. I do not reveal my sources, and infrequently they may be wrong. However, you have not countered the post with any facts and sources to the contrary. If you have better information, please post it — which you have not — and then we can challenge the accuracy of your post and its sources.

  153. Flippin Tired Says:

    “Doctor” J, I don’t have any sources…but apparently you do. That’s why I asked where you got your numbers. You don’t have to get defensive – unless you have something to be defensive about?

  154. Doctor J Says:

    @G#149 Did Sherry conduct the interview process according to the Supt’s contract ? Sec. 4 requires it to occur on Dec 15 or within 2 weeks. Its now the end of April. The evaluation “shall include” both objective and subjective items and “shall include” “a written evaluation and assessment of the performance of any specific goals and objectives which have been established by the Board.” That would be none other than the District Goals and Objectives suggested by Lawrence himself. Lets see, an API gain of “one point” got him a one year extension on his contract. What if he gets a 10 point gain, will he get a 10 year extension ? Here are the Board established, suggested by Lawrence, Goals and Objective. How do you rate him on these Goals and Objectives 27 months into the job ? I give him a D- . You be the judge. Here they are: http://www.mdusd.org/boe/Documents/district-goals10-11.pdf

  155. Wait a Minute Says:

    Hey Flippen,

    We are still waiting for you to tell us what Rolen’s relationship is with the highly paid district-contracted interpreter?

  156. Alicia Says:

    @140- Theresa…for some reason I could not post a comment to Borenstein’s article at this link. I had to post my Facebook comment at the Mercury News website.

  157. Doctor J Says:

    Trustee Linda Mayo said she promised her neighbors, friends, and everyone she talked to about Meas C 2010 that their tax rate would not exceed $60 per $100 valuation and that’s why she voted against the bond increase last Monday. It struck me last night as I listened to her explanation again — why had she promised that ? Linda has never been a dishonest person — she only promised that because because her fellow Trustees, Supt, and other Meas C organizers had also promised that — and assured her it was the truth. Now it seems that everyone who made those promises except Trustee Linda Mayo is backing off the “promises” of the $60 “cap”. And now the resolution will allow the purchase of “new land”. OMG, how did that slip in ?

  158. Doctor J Says:

    CUES members were told to promise voters the $60 cap. This was one of the PP slides shown to CUES members to teach them how to promote Meas C: “Description of the Measure: As you may know, a $250 million bond measure was approved by voters in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District in 2002 to continue school facility improvements. This new bond would allow the district to continue school upgrades and renovations while homeowners continue to pay the same tax rate they approved in 2002, with no increase. Approving this measure would renew the voter-approved annual homeowner tax rate of $59 per $100,000 of assessed value annually.”
    Theresa reported on July 27, 2010 that Eberhart was in favor of going back to the voters to see if they wanted to pay more for a shorter time: “Eberhart told me today that he would be willing to go back to the voters and ask them if they would prefer to pay a higher rate for a shorter amount of time to lower the overall cost. “Does the public approve of what we’ve done?” he said. “If the voters want us to go back and change it, if that’s possible legally, I’m willing to do that.” ‘ Eberhart now apparently had a change of heart about going back to the voters — flip, flop once again. Gary is the ultimate chameleon. Thanks Theresa for the great quotes so relevant two years later.

  159. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, two years ago, the district gave the impression that it couldn’t legally change the bond structure without going back to the voters.
    Now, it has determined that it can.
    Although the board has said in its draft strategic plan that it wants to build public trust, it doesn’t appear to have a clear strategy for doing that.

  160. Mdusd Employee Says:

    Sherry didn’t want “to build public trust” in the strategic plan….Now we know why

  161. Doctor J Says:

    Feel free to add “gates” to the list or suggest alternative names. Not in any order except for the first one.
    ButtercupGATE
    NugentGATE
    ChevronGATE
    GolfGATE
    BondGATE
    SolarGATE
    ToiletGATE
    QEIA-GATE
    BusGATE
    CharterGATE
    SIG-GATE
    TravelGATE
    MarriottGATE
    BrothersGATE
    TextbookGATE
    TreeGATE
    TextbookGATE
    FCMT-GATE
    McClatchyGATE
    SchoolClosureGATE
    BrownEntourageGATE
    NorthgateSolarPartyGATE
    AgendaGATE
    GetCherylGATE
    AudioTapeGATE
    EvaluationGATE
    ConsultantGATE
    AmazonBookReviewGATE
    ContractExtensionGATE
    TaxRateGATE
    StrategicPlanGATE
    AlvesRanchGATE
    CharterWaiverGATE
    PIDistrictGATE
    AuditGATE
    BoundaryChangeGATE
    SmallClaimCourtGATE
    SASS-GATE
    Gary’sBlogGATE
    BudgetSurplusGATE
    ClosureCostsGATE
    OnePointAPIGainGATE
    Goals/ObjectivesGATE

  162. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    RetributionGate – when Gary said on his very own blog that he would make the CVCHS feeder pattern “pay” if the charter were approved.

  163. Anon Says:

    SolarInvitationGATE

  164. Doctor J Says:

    No PAC Agenda posted 72 hours in advance – Brown Act violation once again. No consequences to MDUSD in CC County. Why ?

  165. Doctor J Says:

    Report Card Time: How’s Lawrence doing on his “Annual Cycle of Inquiry for Goals and Objectives” that he had the Board adopt ? Ouch. For Jan, Feb, and March, not a single item was done. Today is the last day in April, and I don’t think he can get anything done today. So why did he get a year extension on his contract ?http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/reference_library/attachments/0107ee84-be6d-4cb8-b939-58f7e85eec6c.pdf

  166. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Again this morning, there is a four-man crew from Taber Construction painting the solar carports at Northgate HS.
    Meanwhile, inside, students are attempting to “Conquer the STAR!”

  167. SunPower Protester Says:

    There isn’t enough paint in the world to cover up my signs for the event. SunPower PR is not going to be happy and Gary is really going to be ticked.

    Should be a fun afternoon for all.

  168. Theresa Harrington Says:

    According to Pete Pedersen, the carport painting at Northgate is not related to the solar event tomorrow.

    Here’s what he told me in an email regarding the painting and the carport repairs scheduled at Concord HS:

    “Multiple carports and multiple sites are getting follow-up painting as part of the work identified in the project punch lists. I am unaware of any painting being done for the May 1st event.

    We are still working with the vendor’s insurance company on the Concord High School damage. That should be resolved and the repairs completed within the next couple of weeks.”

  169. Wait a Minute Says:

    A coincidence, REALLY!!!

    Good old Pete, he knows where his bread is buttered.

  170. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Oh Pete,

    He thinks we all fell off the turnip truck.

  171. Doctor J Says:

    With the contract extension for the Big5, two categories of employees will leave the District: those who jump ship and those who are forced to walk the plank. Can’t wait to hear who is first.

  172. Theresa Harrington Says:

    There are many people wondering what will happen with Sun Terrace Principal Gretchen Jacobs.
    I’ve had calls from four more people wanting to talk to me about problems at that school, which one person says have been apparent since the day she got there.

  173. Doctor J Says:

    Again, I ask the unanswered question, Who in SASS was Gretchen Jacobs coach who should have known of these issues and been “coaching” her ? Why isn’t SASS performing the primary function that Lawrence formed it to accomplish: successful former principals coaching current principals.

  174. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have heard unofficially that her coach was Susan Hukkanen. However, I have not been able to confirm that yet.

  175. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is my story about the EL Master Plan: http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_20515448/mt-diablo-creates-literacy-plan-aid-english-language

  176. Doctor J Says:

    So where do we find the Lawrence “watered down” version ? Can you provide us the link ? At one time, there were versions on the District web-site but they seem to have disappeared.

  177. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a link to information regarding another Measure C project: lighting at YVHS: http://bit.ly/Imq8fd
    The district is accepting comments on the proposal through May 29th.

  178. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Only the draft as of January 23 is online: http://www.mdusd.org/Departments/sass/Documents/elp/master-plan-for-english-learners-draft.pdf
    Although Duarte-Armas promised that the final draft would be posted online, I don’t see it anywhere. I assumed it would be posted with the agenda item.

  179. Doctor J Says:

    We need the “current version” so we can do a comparison. I have downloaded the Jan 23 version. Why can’t they post the Lawrence tinkered version ? Is someone afraid of the TRUTH ?

  180. Doctor J Says:

    Gotta keep YVHS happy — remember the “teacher trigger” !

  181. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have a copy of the final version dated March 26, 2012 (after the task force was done with it, but before Lawrence changed it).
    Maria Panameno-Bailey said language was changed in table 2-8 (Middle and High School Newcomer Program Components) on page 37. The final task force version says immigrant students with less than two years in the US whose CELDT scores are Level 1 (Beginning) or Level 2 (Early Intermediate) would receive: “Primary language (L1) and primary language literacy support as needed.”
    She said that Lawrence’s version changed “as needed” to “when available.”
    She said a Feb. 25, 2000 opinion by then-Attorney General Bill Lockyear said a district cannot deny a parent a waiver from the requirement that all students be instructed in English on the grounds that the district has no alternative program.
    “Primary language and primary language literacy support is fundamental and crucial for English language learners and must be available as needed and not ‘when available,’ as Dr. Lawrence has stated,” she said.
    To request primary language instruction, a parent much fill out a waiver from English language instruction.

    Regarding YVHS: There are some neighbors who are very unhappy with this project and have vowed never to vote for another MDUSD construction bond measure because of it.

  182. g Says:

    It’s called a Measure C project, but so far money for the LSA study ($13,000) has come from Prop 55. Shuffle the funds enough, and we can’t figure true costs of projects.

  183. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Still, it can’t be built until the district responds to the comments.

  184. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Regarding Sun Terrace: the calls keep coming….

  185. g Says:

    That’s not to say that the District pays any attention at all to what the people have to say about anything.

    They’ve done the planning, the CEQA negative declaration, the engineering. Its paid for–it’s a done deal.

    Anyway, the neighbors should be glad the kids are on the fields instead of hanging around at the 7-11. The neighbors should be at the games supporting their local kids activities.

    Go to the games–be part of the noise–enjoy the lights–buy a hot dog–remember when you were 16!

  186. g Says:

    As for Sun Terrace, recent history would suggest that about 2 years is her max staying power. Maybe the parents just need to hold out for a couple more months.

    She came back north hoping for an Asst. Superintendent position and when that fell through at Mountain View Whisman in under two years, we got her. Her two years here are about up.

    And speaking of who might be her SASS coach, how does Hukkanen manage to do that job here and live all the way up in Paradise? That’s what I call a commute!

  187. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The Taber Construction crews have finished painting the carports at Northgate and were hauling heavy equipment away from campus this morning. A large swath of parking lot in front of the school is cordoned off with yellow tape, but there are no signs alerting the Northgate community about why.
    However, business news wires are announcing that SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ:SPWR) and the district are celebrating the completion of 40 SunPower solar projects today. I didn’t receive this press release, even though I called the Sun Power PR rep and requested to be added to her distribution list after I found out about the press invitation that wasn’t sent to me earlier. Yet, international news outlets have the wire alert, which says US solar company SunPower’s project will save California schools $220 million.

  188. Anon Says:

    TH#181 re:YVHS
    There are neighbors who are angry about the project at YVHS, there are neighbors angry about the lights and bleachers at NHS, there are neighbors angry about a proposed shopping center at YV and Oak Grove…
    That is just what happens any time someone tries to build anything… ironically all three projects are good for our community.

    G., I agree – go to the games, support your local school, celebrate those kids who are participating, and build a community.

  189. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: Yes, apparently Concord HS did a good job of building community support for its lighting project. I reported on a nice community outreach program by the school that involved athletes visiting elderly residents of a senior care facility next door. Those residents — some of whom played football in their younger days — have become some of the teams’ biggest fans and regularly attend games.
    Although there are some YVHS neighbors worried about noise and lights, others are concerned about rowdy teens parking on their streets and trashing their neighborhood. If everyone treats each other with respect, there are less likely to be long-lasting hard feelings.

  190. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I just received the SunPower news release.

  191. Doctor J Says:

    The banty rooster is beating his chest. http://us.sunpowercorp.com/about/newsroom/press-releases/

  192. Doctor J Says:

    Apparently the affected Sun Terrace students are so far behind they might have to be “held back” but that would be a very politically unpopular decision based on the failure of SASS to properly supervise the Principal and school. Ironically it comes just a week after the Big5 contract extensions. So what now ? Looks like Lawrence and Lock are sending in the calvary to the rescue, but here we are in May and no one even knows where these students are academically. Only Rose Lock can really be held accountable since she took over direct supervision of the SASS coaches and has direct supervision of the Elementary Principals. Lock evaluated Gretchen Jacobs in her first year as principal and obviously recommended Jacobs continue this year. Clearly whoever the SASS coach for Jacobs is, not enough time was being spent with her. @G#186, I believe that SH lives “locally” weekdays in the Benicia or Albany area and spends weekends with her superintendent husband in Butte County — either way, the SASS job is time demanding, and the weekly commutes must be quite taxing physically and emotionally. Plus, it wouldn’t surprise me if she has felt “passed over” a couple of times for a directorship in SASS.

  193. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Some people to whom I’ve spoken said they had expected that the principal would not be invited back this year.

  194. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#193 – The Sun Terrace situation should NOT have been a surprise to SASS, Rose Lock, or the SASS principal coach — and NO ACTION was taken until parents complained to the Board. SASS has had the data from the 3 Benchmark “testings” throughout the year. I am told that it shows that in some grade levels at Sun Terrace, several of the classes are 20 to 30 points behind the district average for those same grade levels in other schools — there is no way that can be made up in a month. SASS has had the data, and taken no action. As everyone is now learning the complaints about Sun Terrace have been going on all year, and communicated to the school and district, but NO ACTION was being taken. Once again, the only thing that seems to get the attention of Steven Lawrence is when parents stand up at the Board Meeting, one after another, and make specific complaints that were not heeded when made to district personnel. That shows a real lack of leadership, a failure of proper supervision all up and down the chain of command, and is so very consistent with the culture of MDUSD to sweep problems under the rug and then make lame excuses when the floor caves in. How is Rose Lock going to fire Gretchen Jacobs this year, when last year Lock gave her a very favorable evaluation after her first year ?
    What was the rush to approve the Big5 contract extensions — just this kind of failures of leadership up and down the heirarchy.
    Who is going to reform the cover-up culture of MDUSD leadership ?

  195. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have heard that some complaints arose last year.

  196. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Martinez school board has appointed MDUSD Sunrise special ed. school Principal Janelle Eyet as its new Director of Special Education, effective July 1 http://bit.ly/IT2irz

  197. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    @ 192 – Doctor J

    How many affected kids/families?

    An entire class of how many kids will be held back?

    That’s simply outrageous … this district can’t come up with another option to correct their incompentence?

    wow … i’m stunned… just when I think this district can’t shock me anymore.

  198. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    isnt Sun Terrace one of the schools the affected Holbrook kids/families had to move to after the school closure? wonder how many of these kids are from Holbrook.

  199. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I’ve heard that out of three first grade classes, two are being taught by substitutes and one teacher is trying to plan lessons and oversee testing for all three. Because of this, her classes are also often being taught by subs, I’m told.
    In addition, I’ve heard that a fourth-grade class is being taught by a long-term sub and that one longtime noontime supervisor was fired and another left due to anxiety attacks and depression caused by the stress of working at the school.

  200. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    So … is anyone getting pictures / reports from the NG SunPower shindig?

  201. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I’ll be there: http://bit.ly/JGIqYF

  202. Doctor J Says:

    Hey Rose, how are those new I-pads and custom cases helping out the Sun Terrace children that essentially missed Jan, Feb, March and April instruction ? SASS sure has their priorities straight.

  203. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The Parent Advisory Council meeting scheduled for tomorrow has been canceled.

  204. Doctor J Says:

    Sun Terrace children continue to languish while Lawrence holds his K-Adult Principals/District meeting this morning. Who is in charge at the sites where there is no Vice-Principal ? A “Teacher-in-charge” and who is minding his/her classroom ?

  205. Doctor J Says:

    Rumors abounding today of a potential RatGATE at Sun Terrace’s cafeteria/kitchen. Anyone know of any sightings of evidence ?

  206. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    We are hearing the rat rumor in our parents group also.

  207. Doctor J Says:

    Mice and rats in a school cafeteria/kitchen is a serious issue — I smell another Williams Complaint coming.

  208. Doctor J Says:

    Was the SASS “principal coach” doing her job in working with Sun Terrace ? You have to wonder with the depth of the problems being just now discovered. Here is the official Board approved “job description” of the SASS “Administrator, School Support”. http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/7233baf4-a610-411c-b237-8e0086face96.pdf
    Do you believe the SASS Administrator was “doing her job ?

  209. Sun Terrace Parent Says:

    Sun Terrace students, teachers & parents need continued support. I fear our issue’s are going to be swept under the rug! So many are in fear of speaking up.

  210. andrew Says:

    I don’t believe the SASS administrator was “doing her job” because as I understand, sun terrace’s principal is relatively new to MDUSD.

  211. Anon Says:

    The bullying goes on all over the place. Unfortunately I don’t know of any principal that handles it effectively. I know first hand what has been going on at sun terrace. I know a child that was tormented so badly by kids and teachers this child is forever traumatized.
    I know children in Clayton that nothing gets done. Then to put frosting on the cake the people who are supposed to set the example openly bully other adults. What a mess we have.

  212. Doctor J Says:

    “Major responsibilities”: 1. direct support to assigned school; 2. ongoing coaching and support of principal; 3. direct assistance and support of staff 4. Monitor curriculum and instruction and provide feedback to administrators and staff; 7. Professional development of assigned school; 8. Implement Single Plan for Student Achievement in assigned school; 22 Total. Note most of the first 8 are related directly to the “assigned school”. If any of these 8 had been happening at Sun Terrace, there would not be a large number of children behind grade level in Reading which now requires intervention the last three weeks of school. The question remains: What was the principal’s coach doing ?

  213. Doctor J Says:

    MDUSD & Cohort 1 SIG Schools get temporary extension from US Dept. of Ed to implement teacher and principal evaluations, in part on student performance. Item 16 of next weeks CDE Agenda includes approving all Cohort 1 California schools for the waiver granted back in January by USDE. http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/ag/ag/yr12/documents/may12item16a01.pdf

  214. g Says:

    Dr. J: This is a sad sort of dilemma. We all want every kid to get the benefit of every dollar we can get our hands on—but one of the first things you should learn as a parent is to make a rule, make sure your kid understands, and then stick to your rules.

    What has the District learned? They’ve learned that they can ignore the rules, and get a second, third, fourth chance. By the time they begin to follow the rules (if ever) entire classes of kids have been shuffled up and out without the benefit of the funds that were meant to specifically help them.

  215. Doctor J Says:

    @G The district had to send CDE a request with detail of their progress toward meeting the SIG requirement of Principal and Teacher evaluation using student performance as part of the evaluation. I hope Theresa follows up with CDE to get a copy of MDUSD’s application supporting the waiver. Interestingly it was never presented to the Board for approval.

  216. g Says:

    There was so much going on at the last board meeting one thing seemed to just slip on by…RDA, who by all appearances has not done a very good job of its last contract, part of which was to aid in keeping the district on track in its SIG turn around efforts, was given a new $10K contract to create a survey (at the end of a school year!) designed to ask parents what the district can do to help keep parents involved at SIG schools!

    True–parent involvement is poor to none.

    For less than a penny I could tell the district that the majority of those parents “feel” disenfranchised–and for good reason!

  217. Flippin Tired Says:

    “Who is in charge at the sites where there is no Vice-Principal ?”

    The office staff has to handle everything, unless the TIC has to come down to the office for an emergency, and then someone from the office has to cover the classroom.

    We don’t even get a sub principal until the second day the regular principal is out.

  218. Doctor J Says:

    Could this type of scandal happen in MDUSD ? http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_20550608/uc-berkeley-fires-leite-after-affair

  219. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is a blog post about Sun Terrace, which points out similarities between this situation and those that occurred at CVHS and MDHS during the past year: http://bit.ly/JnJrnO

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