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MDUSD contract extensions, bylaws and Points of Order

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, April 23rd, 2012 at 7:03 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Mt. Diablo district resident Polly Bradbury forwarded me an email exchange between herself and Trustees Gary Eberhart and Linda Mayo regarding the proposed contract extensions on tonight’s agenda, which she has given me permission to post in my blog.

The first post is Bradbury’s email to the board, followed by responses from Eberhart and Mayo:

From: Polly Bradbury
Sent: Monday, April 23, 2012 2:36 PM
Subject: vote to extend contracts

“I urge to hold off on the vote to extend the contracts for the administrators whose contracts are not yet expiring. I see no reason for you to do this other than to avoid the possibility that a new board member may not vote the way you want them to. Furthermore, when the time is right to vote on contract extension I strongly feel that NO INCREASE IN SALARY IS APPROPRIATE. In this difficult financial time with teacher layoffs and budget disasters, the absolute worst move you could make is giving administrators who make 140k and more a raise. Consider the wrath that you will bear and remember you were elected by the people.
Sincerely,
Polly Bradbury”

Response from Trustee Gary Eberhart, which was forwarded to me by Bradbury:

“Greetings,

Thank you for the e-mail. There are no raises contained in the contract extensions which are on the Board agenda this evening. Superintendents and Assistant Superintendents typically look for new positions during the Summer months when they are uncertain of their standing with their district. If we do not extend these contracts, we will instead have to immediately begin work on conducting a Superintendent search and a search for the other Assistant Superintendent positions. So if the rationale for not extending the contracts is to save that decision for a future Board, wouldn’t it be even more drastic for this Board to have to search for and hire a new Superintendent and Assistant Superintendents this Summer? These are challenging times and will not be any easier if this Board begins to abdicate our responsibilities. That would certainly be a dereliction of duty.

Sincerely,
Gary Eberhart”

Response from Trustee Linda Mayo, which was forwarded to me by Bradbury:

“Dear Ms. Bradbury:

I’ve read your email regarding this item and understand your position as stated.

A newly elected board member will only have hearsay information regarding the performance of individuals, rather than working with these individuals and informing themselves personally about the entire district operations. Individuals who provide governance training indicate it takes a year even two for trustees to understand the complicated issues. Qualified applicants are not readily available and because of controversies, over the years not attributed to these individuals, few qualified applicants will apply to MDUSD. Based on previous applications we’ll have applicants about ready to retire or applicants who have little experience.

Increased compensation for four individuals is based on a longevity clause as a percentage payable in the fourth year. 2012 is an anniversary year for that clause, these contracts don’t conclude until June 30 so it would be a breach of contract to not fund the longevity. All our labor groups have longevity clauses in order to encourage staff to remain in the district including teachers which is known as step and column. The superintendent’s contract also has a an increase factor which is and has been zero because the administrators have received no increase.

That being said, I am still determining my position. Thank you for writing to me.

Sincerely,
Linda Mayo”

I also received an email from Trustee Cheryl Hansen, with a copy of an email she sent to Board President Sherry Whitmarsh regarding three items to be placed on the May 7 agenda, which have not been placed on previous agendas, as she requested.

The items are:
1) Her request to postpone extending contracts for the superintendent and other top administrators;
2) Her request that board appointments be made by the governing board, according to board bylaw 9140; and
3) Her request that the board continue its discussions regarding graduation requirements.

In a previous interview, Board President Sherry Whitmarsh told me she did not put Hansen’s agenda item regarding the contracts on an agenda because she was waiting for a “milestone” — which had been discussed during a closed session regarding the superintendent’s evaluation — to pass.

“When I brought that up (during closed session), she did not say anything,” Whitmarsh said of Hansen. “My undersgtanding was that Dr. Lawrence was talking to her about that. In the closed session — it was all board members in person — and we had talked about how contracts would be handled. It was not meant to go on the agenda until the milestone that I said would be hit.”

Whitmarsh also responded to Hansen’s concerns about the committee assignments, saying they had been done the same way every year (via email).

“Every year I’ve been on the board, they have always been done this way,” she said. “This has always been the way the board assignments have been made. She didn’t make any claim when I was asking for board assignments last year or this year.”

Whitmarsh said bylaws state that the creation of committees is by the board, but not committee assignments. She also said that Trustee Linda Mayo assured her that this was the way assignments had been previously made.

“It says the board creates committees,” Whitmarsh said. “It doesn’t say ‘committee assignments.”

But Hansen disagrees.

“Per Board Bylaw 9140, the Governing Board appoints members to serve as its representatives on district or advisory committees,” she wrote in an email. “Board Bylaw 9140 also states that, ‘when making such appointments, the Board shall clearly specify, on a case-bycase basis, what authority and responsibilities are involved. Board representatives shall not grant district support or endorsement for any activity without prior Board approval.’ The Governing Board has not appointed members to serve as committee representatives nor specified authority and responsibilities involved as required by Board Bylaws.”

Despite claims by Whitmarsh and Mayo that committee assignments have always been made by email, Hansen found several agendas and minutes from previous meetings that showed committee assignments were made at public meetings and were agendized.

Hansen also said she was surprised that Whitmarsh was claiming she couldn’t put the contracts on an agenda until a milestone had been reached, since that was never reported out of closed session.

Here are two video clips regarding Hansens’ Points of Order raised March 27:

First clip: http://youtu.be/zg99-QxcnUo

Here is the second clip, in which Whitmarsh refuses to rule on the Point of Order, saying it would be a Brown Act violation: http://youtu.be/T7JVTpDYO_E

Although Superintendent Steven Lawrence said he would meet with Hansen and General Counsel Greg Rolen regarding her Points of Order, Hansen’s email to me today indicates that she is still unclear about why her items have not been placed on the agenda.

Whitmarsh said the Point of Order was “out of order” and Eberhart said it would be a misdemeanor to discuss the items, since they weren’t on the agenda. Hansen, on the other hand, says a Point of Order is not an agendized item. She requested that the items be placed on the April 23rd agenda.

Despite her request, her items do not appear on tonight’s agenda.

Do you think Hansen’s items should have appeared on tonight’s agenda?

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

  • g

    How can we not be disgusted? Eberhart’s email=”Greetings (you no-name, unimportant person)”. Mayo’s email=Here is the (really lame) reason I’m voting FOR this item, but I haven’t made up my mind yet.

    Sherry should have to NAME the milestone!

  • Sue Berg

    A little research will find that the process for making and announcing Board committee assignments seems to have changed in 2010.

    When I worked with the Board from 2000 to 2009, each December the newly elected Board president would review and, if necessary, change Board committee assignments for the year ahead. He/She asked members to call or e-mail with preferences and then announced the proposed assignments for the year at a Board meeting in January. The topic was listed on the agenda as informational.

    The last reference to this process appears in the minutes of the January 27,2009, Board meeting (available on the MDUSD website):

    “10.7 Board Committee Assignments
    President Eberhart distributed the list of Board committee assignments for the period of January 1, 2009, through December 31, 2009. He invited Board members to let him know if they wanted him to make any
    changes to the assignments.”

    Sherry Whitmarsh was a new Board member at that meeting, so she had some experience with the process. However, the district’s leadership changed that month and many other things were changed as well. The committee assignment process seems to be among them. So Cheryl Hansen is correct that the assignments were once placed on the Board meeting agenda. Sherry is correct that they haven’t been listed there for the last couple of years.

  • Anon

    This is all so that Eberhart and Whitmarsh can keep the dirty laundry (i.e.. Chevron kickbacks) under wraps. Wow, Lawrence must have some good stuff on them.

    This is of course all my “opinion”.

  • Doctor J

    @Sueberg The By-laws haven’t changed. The Board is bound by the By-laws. Both Gary and Linda Mayo voted for them. Sherry, having been on the Board in her fourth year now should be fully familiar with the By-laws, and the Supt and General Counsel should be giving guidance to the Board when they attempt to step outside of the By-laws.

  • Doctor J

    Clearly, Sherry’s admission of the milestone discussion in closed session is outside the bounds of an evaluation as described in the By-laws and the Supt’s contract — no confidentiality is required even if it is during a “closed session”. The multiple evaluations in closed session have obviously been used as a cloak in secrecy and to avoid public discussion of matters that should be before the public. That is a violation of the Brown Act and they all know better. Its time they come clean. This is just a sophisticated Buttercupgate.

  • Hell Freezing Over

    Eberhart’s “logic” is flawed. It assumes the people in the current positions will start looking for other districts to work for if the carrot isn’t put out at the end of that short pole. What makes him or any one else think these people are not actively looking for work in other districts already?

    Additionally he poses the question of this current board having to start an immediate search for replacement(s) if they left this summer. IF … So the board would be doing one of things we elected them to do – and this is “drastic” to use his word his – the board would be performing their responsibility – yeah, it won’t be fun but it comes with job. Instead of storming ahead, ask the public for input, ask the public to vote, postpone the extension for a month to think of other options before making this decision.

    Instead of extending these contracts, the board should be making these “staff” declare their intent to stay (sound familiar?), reduce their salaries & benefits in these hard economic times while student enrollment is declining and start accepting applications for replacements now. There is always a pool of resources to start interviewing.

    Stop robbing Peter to pay Paul. It’s absolutely criminal that students are going without and failing while these staff continue to benefit highly for poor performance and dissatisfying the public repeatedly. And then Gary spews crap about “abdicating” – great choice of words King Gary.

  • Hell Freezing Over

    Linda Mayo’s statement that a new board will only have hearsay information regarding performance of individuals is an excuse.

    If the current board had conducted and documented performance reviews with these “individuals” with well thought out and measurable goals, including their strengths and developmental needs, action plans to reach those goals and regular checkpoints / feedback from peers and other staff & the public, then a new board wouldn’t have to depend on hearsay, would they.

    And both she and Gary assume incoming board members will be too green to do their jobs. How condescending.

  • Doctor J

    If we had a true Strategic Plan, it would not matter significantly, because all leadership would have a plan to follow. Lets not forget that Gary, Sherry, and Linda Mayo were on the Board when the current contract ending dates were put in place. Why weren’t they looking forward to anticipate their concerns ? Oh, Linda Mayo’s memory is failing her — she didn’t want to lock the new Supt into a staff he had not evaluated. The big event Sherry talked about must have been Lawrence getting the Sacramento job — he failed miserably.

  • Doctor J

    Linda Mayo calls Steven Lawrence an “inexperienced candidate”. Linda Mayo said about how Lawrence was hired: “few qualified applicants will apply to MDUSD. Based on previous applications we’ll have applicants about ready to retire or applicants who have little experience.” Hey Linda, did you see what just happened in Sacramento: lots of qualified experienced candidates, willing to work for $225,000. What was the difference ? I quoted it from their new Supt: a strong board committed to education, a quality Strategic Plan, and unions who are partners. Why doesn’t MDUSD have any of those three ? Spell it G A R Y and S H E R R Y . Really, what quality candidate wants to work for the king of micromanaging — Gary Eberhart ? No one.

  • Doctor J

    “Member (Linda Mayo) Moved, Member (Cheryl Hansen) seconded to approve the New motion ‘Contract to remove general counsel’. Upon a Roll-Call Vote being taken, the vote was: Aye: 2 Nay: 3.” Would love to hear what happened here and what the discussion was.

  • Doctor J

    Who told the TRUTH to Polly Bradbury — Gary or Linda Mayo ? Polly said: “strongly feel that NO INCREASE IN SALARY IS APPROPRIATE”. Gary replied: ” There are no raises contained in the contract extensions which are on the Board agenda this evening” Linda said: “Increased compensation for four individuals is based on a longevity clause as a percentage payable in the fourth year. 2012 is an anniversary year for that clause.” Unbelieveable the discussions in closed session “evaluations” that exceed what should have been discussed — where is the Grand Jury ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    There was very little discussion. Mayo unexpectedly made the motion and at first no one said anything. As Whitmarsh was beginning to say, “I have no second,” Hansen said she would second it. Neither Mayo nor Hansen said why they wanted to remove Rolen’s contract from consideration for extension. Eberhart said there had been a previous motion to consider the contracts individually (by Hansen), which had died for lack of a second. He said he didn’t think it was appropriate to single anyone out.
    Hansen asked why Mildred Browne’s contract was singled out and not included. There was no answer.

  • Wait a minute

    Well Theresa@12, there is obviously no consistency in their comments but rather some impressive verbal contortions to get what they want.

    One word: RECALL!!!!

  • Doctor J

    Lawrence sold classified and credentialed employees down the river last night — to get himself a measley one year extension on his contract, after he was humiliated in his Sacramento Supt attempt — apparently the so called “milestone event”. Since he cannot cut top management salaries, he is trying to limit raises to the workers — knowing all the time, that he is going to pretend to ignore the inevitable furlough days that hurt the lowest paid workers the most. Just wait until those API scores come out in August — taxpayers will feel like they just got ________________ [fill in your own blank].

  • Anon

    DoctorJ-Any news on the sweetheart union deal that you were predicting?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Anon: I spoke to Mike Langley about this. He said the union had its first meeting with the district yesterday, but there was no “sweetheart deal.”
    Regarding Sun Terrace, a parent called me about complaints regarding the principal a few weeks ago, but I said I would wait to see if parents were able to resolve their issues by working within the system, before writing about it.
    Clearly, the system isn’t working. Once again, an issue that could have been solved behind the scenes has been brought to the public, due to frustration on the part of those who don’t feel the school and district are being responsive.
    Last year, Sun Terrace failed to meet half of its AYP goals, yet it was not yet placed in Program Improvement. If things deteriorate at that campus this year, it could be eligible for a Parent Trigger.

  • MoMx3

    I am so grateful new people are stepping up to run. I hope to GOD that Sherry and Gary do not run. I hope new people in that can make a difference. This display of our board supposedly looking after our students is a disgusting abuse of power. How Cheryl H can keep hitting her head against a wall with them is beyond me, but she deserves some huge KUDOS. Keep plugging away Cheryl!

  • Sue Berg

    Dr J, did you ever provide Theresa with the source of your statement that Lawrence applied for the San Juan superintendent position, as she requested? You keep repeating it as fact, but I can’t find any information, at least on line, about San Juan’s superintendent search. I did learn that the man selected for the job has been the interim supt. there for nearly a year and was that district’s chief academic officer for the two previous years.

    Someone asked me, in a different thread on this blog, for my perspective on the campaign Gary Eberhart and Paul Strange waged against the district leadership 3 years ago. There’s no need to rehash any of that. But one thing I learned from it firsthand, which hasn’t seemed to change: inaccurate statements made on a blog take on a life of their own and become “fact” despite efforts to correct them. Having seen the damage inaccuracies taken as fact can cause, I simply urge everyone who posts comments to make sure of their information before posting it–and to provide a source when asked for one.

  • Doctor J

    @Anon#15–No sweetheart deal . . . . yet. The teachers won’t forget last night for a LONG time — full Board benefits AND Big5 Contract Extensions so they can get the 2012 salary increases admitted by Linda Mayo –when was the last time the teachers had a salary increase ? The teachers won’t get a sweetheart deal until their picket signs are in their trunks with fresh paint, and then get exposed to sunlight. Perhaps Lawrence thinks he can wait out Mike and then charm Mike’s successor. Eberhart’s re-election campaign cannot survive a teacher’s strike. So far, I haven’t seen enough strength in the teachers. A couple of days on the picket line by Teachers, and Lawrence and Eberhart will collapse like the Twin Towers.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Sue: I agree. And no, Dr. J. has not produced a source or any evidence for those comments. I try to correct information that I know is erroneous, but often comments are speculation, which cannot be confirmed.

  • Theresa Harrington

    FYI, we have established polls with the story in case you would like to vote on whether or not you agree with the tax rate increase and contract extensions: http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_20467440/mt-diablo-school-board-increases-property-tax-rate

  • Anon

    So was the FCMAT report done or is it being done? I just got off the phone with my friend who is having big problems with special Ed bussing. Bus arriving in a 40 mindow in the a.m. Not enough seats available child on the bus for over an hour to get from mid concord to pleasant hill. 1 1 /2 hours in the afternoon. Has anyone been hearing anymore on bussing?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Lawrence said the district is spending $5 million more than it takes in on busing, so the district is looking to cut costs. Rolen, as previously mentioned, was silent.
    The board agreed to have FCMAT do the report, but both Hansen and CAC President Lorrie Davis questioned its scope. Davis asked that the CAC be involved and Superintendent Lawrence promised that he would involve the committee.

  • Anon

    The cac has no clue! They were the ones at the CVCHS meetings that said IEP’s would all have to be redone. They don’t even know that IEP’s follow the student. This is just crazy.

  • Doctor J

    @SB#18&TH#20 Excuse me, but I did do a post or maybe two with some of my evidence — no I do not reveal my sources any more than Theresa reveals hers. The bottom line is that Lawrence has refused to deny that he was a candidate. You too are free to ask him or do any of your own research you want to disprove it. If he denies it with evidence — well, I just don’t think it would be in his personal interest to do that.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Dr. J: It’s true that you did cite inside sources and you are correct that I could ask him myself.
    Unfortunately, however, Lawrence tends to ask for questions in writing and sometimes does not answer them, but I suppose it’s worth a try.

  • Doctor J

    @TH #26. Here are two questions you might want to consider asking Supt Lawrence.
    At any time did you express an interest in or inquiry about the San Juan Unified School District superintendent job ?
    At any time did you submit information to anyone to establish your qualifications to be the Superintendent of the San Juan Unified School District ?
    Remember, that SJUSD [not to be confused with San Jose USD] used a national search firm.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#26 While you are researching, you might want to google the whole process as reported in the press, both Sac Bee and community papers, and read the extensive minutes of Board meetings on the subject of the lengthy search. Previously on their website, they had updates on the progress.

  • Anon

    Noticing San Juan has a superior web site http://www.sanjuan.edu. It’s ridiculously easy to look under “Superintendent” and find the PAC’s purpose, agendas and minutes, that show most of the school sites attend the PAC meetings. Home page front and center are district success stories: Tech engineering partners, NorCal Science Olympiad, Dell Scholars, collaborate with local gallery on unique project, Teacher of the Month . . . And a better idea? in 2009 school sites discontinued enrollment and the district centralized enrollment http://www.sanjuan.edu/departments.cfm?subpage=106308

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    Linda Mayo: “Individuals who provide governance training indicate it takes a year even two for trustees to understand the complicated issues.”

    Based on the incompetent display put on by 4 of the 5 trustees last night, it has taken far more than two years — and we are still waiting.

  • Doctor J

    @Anon#29 According to the media, San Juan is not the largest district in the Sacramento area — its third, behind Elk Grove [remember Chris Nugent] and Sacramento City. The community is heavily involved, and their Strategic Plan when you read it, and then understand it was created by community involvment, is very impressive.

  • g

    Maybe MDUSD needs to get the team that put together the ELL Master Plan to take over and do the Strategic Plan.

  • Anon

    DoctorJ#31-Still San Juan is larger than MDUSD.

  • Doctor J

    @Anon#33 Of course, but for those who say MDUSD is “too large” it doesn’t compute. It just depends on how well run it is — and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

  • Doctor J

    @G#32–Except Lawrence had the final edit and we still haven’t seen it yet !

  • Theresa Harrington

    The CC Times’ editorial board disagrees with the board’s decision to raise the tax rate without sending it to the voters: http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_20471486/contra-costa-times-editorial-school-trustees-must-go

  • Anon

    DoctorJ#34-It’s hard to compare MDUSD’s dysfunction to other districts size-wise. It may be that MDUSD covers too many cities and parts of cities and parts of county. The result is obvious that MDUSD is stretched too thin and is run like a factory producing widgets rather than children. MDUSD can’t develop the connections necessary to accomplish the basic minimal job of passing a strategic plan and student achievement. Instead the captains keep steering straight for the big iceberg . . .

  • Theresa Harrington

    Hansen contrasted the functionality of the EL Master Plan team with the often dysfunctional district.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#36 Sounds just like my post about sending it to the voters. And I didn’t even get quoted by your editor ! :-)

  • Flippin’ Tired

    “Doctor” J @19, you ask “when was the last time the teachers had a salary increase ?” The answer is that the teachers, who voted away their benefits for fatter paychecks, got an increase when they were given money to buy benefits. The groups who have gotten screwed twenty ways from Sunday are the CSEA and CST members, who have had their hours slashed and benefits taken away. The board, admins and teachers might want to think about what the other unions are up to.

    Theresa, to answer your question at the end of your article, yes, Ms. Hansen’s items should be on the agenda. What the Four Bullies are doing is shameful.

  • Seriously…

    @36 – Theresa, the district claims they obtained a legal opinion regarding raising the tax rate without getting voter approval. I’m wondering if the district did in fact get a real legal opinion. Did you ask?

  • Anon

    Homeowners do the math!!-instead of making a second attempt for a parcel tax that was flat rate $99, Lawrence sold us on a bond with exorbitant interest that for a modest $400,000 house for example is $240 and now increasing to $356 and soon $380. The increase alone is more than the parcel tax would have been! If we can’t make payments then we risk foreclosure and for what? We were promised technology and 21st century classrooms-where is the plan? We’ve had a textbook shortage, books falling apart, and teachers at impasse, to name a few of many problems. Someone should follow up with the mom-of-3 and the UMDAF president who spoke in favor of Lawrence’s contract extension to find out if they can do the math!!

  • Hell Freezing Over

    And while the students and teachers wait and wait and wait for technology & 21st century classrooms, district staff is enjoying brand spanking new iPads complete with cases.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Seriously: It was my impression that the district was relying on bond counsel Meredith Johnson’s opinion. I don’t know if it was an official opinion or just a verbal assurance. As our editorial pointed out, the new bond structure contradicts what voters were told in the ballot tax rate statement and impartial analysis. At the time, that appeared to be why the district claimed it was locked into that structure, even after opponents objected to it. I don’t know what changed to make them decide they could change it now. The Times has asked the district for the legal basis of the decision.

  • Mdusd Employee

    I was stunned to read of UMDAF’s support of Lawrence. Athletics were already defunded when Lawrence got here and they are still dependent on a shrinking number of people willing to raise money to keep athletics going. Lawrence has done nothing to help them. As for me, I’ve donated to, participated in, and supported UMDAF but if they wish to support Lawrence, not any more.

  • Doctor J

    @Employee#45 I have asked with no answer — why are ALL of the Boy’s Basketball coaches at Northgate “vacant” ?

  • Anon
  • Wait a minute

    If it hadn’t been for CVCHS’s Pat Middendorf’s tireless work to raise funds for athletics UMDAF wouldn’t even be relevant anymore since without money their can be no athletics.

    Nice to know they are now a political front for all the stupidity that is going on here.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Dr. Alan Young, the former associate superintendent whose position was eliminated after Eberhart and Whitmarsh were elected (and who was recruited by former Superintendent Gary McHenry) worked with UMDAF to keep sports alive in the district after the board eliminated funding for it.
    Former board candidate and UMDAF member Jeff Adams was a strong force in proposing that the board accept some financial responsibility for sports this year, which has helped the low-income students to whom the UMDAF rep referred in his Monday comments.
    Superintendent Steven Lawrence’s wife, who is a Northgate parent, helped drum up support for the UMDAF 5k run, but I’m not sure if the family participated. Lawrence’s daughter plays volleyball. Lawrence played water polo in high school, he told the PAC at its last meeting. Lawrence also attended the UMDAF auction fundraiser that was held at the Pyramid Brewery.
    Former interim superintendent Dick Nicoll prevously ran the 5k and posted a pretty good time, as I recall.

  • Anon

    Don’t forget Cheryl Hansen donated her stipend to UMDAF . . .

    But Lawrence hasn’t done more than most other parents . . .