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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 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:

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. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I’ll be there:

  2. 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.

  3. Theresa Harrington Says:

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

  4. 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 ?

  5. Doctor J Says:

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

  6. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

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

  7. Doctor J Says:

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

  8. 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”.
    Do you believe the SASS Administrator was “doing her job ?

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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 ?

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. Doctor J Says:

    Could this type of scandal happen in MDUSD ?

  19. 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:

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