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Third campus in MDUSD rises up, voicing concerns about school leadership and slow district response

By Theresa Harrington
Saturday, May 5th, 2012 at 4:30 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Unrest in the Sun Terrace Elementary community of north Concord marks third time in a year the Mt. Diablo school district appears to have failed to respond promptly to repeated complaints.

This latest uprising bears strong similarities to the frustration that swelled to epic proportions when Clayton Valley High teachers and parents pulled the plug from the district and converted to a charter that will open in the fall, with oversight by the Contra Costa County Office of Education.

The dissatisfaction and outrage being expressed by the Sun Terrace community also resembles the exasperation voiced by teachers at Mt. Diablo High in December when a majority voted no confidence in Principal Kate McClatchy. In response to that, the district sent administrators to meet with teachers to develop a plan to address concerns. Some teachers and staff members later praised McClatchy’s leadership at a board meeting, but many of those who first spoke out say several issues remain unresolved.

Like the teachers at Clayton Valley and Mt. Diablo high schools, some parents and staff members at Sun Terrace say they have individually spoken to the principal, district administrators and union leaders to try to get their issues resolved. When they felt that no action was being taken, they made the dramatic decision to publicly air their concerns at the April 23 school board meeting.

Although only four people spoke, parent Katherine Friedman told me that many more were prepared to speak, but backed down after seeing Principal Gretchen Jacobs in the room. Those who did speak said Jacobs has turned what was once a happy, warm and welcoming campus into a school where children and adults work in fear.

Some parents expressed concerns about a first grade class that has been taught by a string of 13 substititutes since the regular teacher went on maternity leave in January, as well as lack of communication from the principal about children’s injuries and other safety concerns. Friedman broke down in tears as she described her son’s classroom, where she said students weren’t getting the instruction they needed to progress at grade level.

But staff member Dan Roll, who oversees student services at the school, defended Jacobs, saying she appeared to be taking the criticisms to heart and was trying to make amends. Yet, many of the parents and former staff members to whom I’ve spoken since the board meeting say this is too little, too late.

Some said they miss the way things used to be before Jacobs arrived a few months after school started in 2010. She replaced former Principal Felicia Stuckey-Smith, who was promoted to Director of Student Services at the district office.

Friedman said she was touched when Sun Terrace parents and children hugged Stuckey-Smith, after seeing her at the board meeting. The entire mood on campus appears to have changed, she said.

Since the board meeting, district officials have met with parents regarding the first grade class and have agreed to provide extra staff to try to bring students up to grade level, Friedman said. In addition, she said Jacobs has reached out to parents to meet with them individually and try to reassure them about her desire to improve.

But Friedman said she and others worry that the district may not address concerns regarding Jacobs’ leadership style. About 60 parents and staff members have signed a petition regarding their issues, she said.

When Friedman met with Jacobs, she said she told the principal: “Your interaction with the kids is ‘No. Stop. Don’t. It’s always discipline. If everytime they see you, someone’s in trouble, then you’re not going to have a good relationship with them.’”

Former noontime supervisor and after-school program worker Christina Mares said she and many adults felt the same way. Mares said she left her job in February after experiencing anxiety attacks and depression because she feared she would be fired after Jacobs fired her mother, who was also a noontime supervisor.

Trustee Gary Eberhart asked Superintendent Steven Lawrence to report back to the board about the issues raised, but there is no report scheduled on Monday’s meeting agenda. In the absence of a plan to address all their concerns, some parents said they may again speak up.

Do you believe the superintendent should publicly report back to the board about Sun Terrace?

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

43 Responses to “Third campus in MDUSD rises up, voicing concerns about school leadership and slow district response”

  1. Fly on the Wall Says:

    yes, the toilets are open at MDHS, but the principal has still not figured out how to improve the morale and the climate. She can do something like unlock the toilets, but when it comes to improving staff relationships she is lacking and perhaps she chooses not to. Since she is only beholding to the superintendent, she continues to press forward with her agenda.

  2. Michael Langley Says:

    Annual climate surveys have come in to MDEA. Mt. Diablo High and Sun Terrace are not the only schools on one end of the poor climate spectrum. We also see schools with very positive climates. This is the third year we have produced these surveys. They are meant to give an accurate snapshot of site conditions to District leadership to facilitate improvement where warranted and to maintain what is working when we see success. In the past, we have not released the results to the general public, because we hoped for thoughtful and constructive action from District Administration. We did NOT want this to be just another competition to score publicity points, as elements that contribute to negative and positive climates are complex and may be better resolved with careful coaching and studied personnel decisions rather than a grandstanding. However, change seems to be glacial, if it is occurring at all. As Board Member Lynne Dennler stated when Clayton Valley was petioning to Charter, Clayton Valley High was likely an indication of systemic problems within the district and leadership had better begin to look at all sites more carefully. Unfortunately, when a few brave individuals stand up, they are accused of demagoguery. We have been told to not speak out, as that will force the district to RETAIN poor administrators for fear of appearing to bend to the will of the teachers. What weak and morally twisted concept can justify maintaining an oppressive and poisonous environment in our schools out of fear that leadership may appear to be influenced by some of the education stakeholders?
    We will continue to work for change at the dysfunctional sites, but our patience is waning. The academic year is coming to an end. We cannot let another summer of Rope-a-Dope tactics by our board succeed in slipping into summer and starting the next school year at square one. Our district will continue to lose good middle managers from Dent Center. Our district will continue to lose the dwindling number of competent site administrators to retirement or neighboring districts. Front line education providers: teachers, assistants, clerical personnel, and others, will tire of the crushing dysfunction and surly lack of basic human respect they are experiencing and look elsewhere to serve other students they so wish to support.
    We challenge the School Board members and the district administration to work with their employees, all of us, to spend as much energy addressing site problems as they do patching facades that hide the deteriorating conditions at some of our site. Let us concentrate on educating our charges completely. Parents deserve more. Students deserve more.

  3. g Says:

    “What weak and morally twisted concept can justify maintaining an oppressive and poisonous environment in our schools out of fear… (fill in the blank):____________________?”

    No one has said it better, Mr. Langley. There can be no reasonable answer to the question.

    The miasma isn’t just in the schools. It seeps from the very core of the current district leadership.

  4. Doctor J Says:

    @Mike Langley#2 Who told you “not to speak out” ? Not speaking out caused the Big5 to get contract extensions. Not speaking out has caused continued mismangement, dishonesty, corruption, and zero progress. Its time you sunshine the MDEA “climate surveys” so the public can hear the truth about how the teachers really feel and what is really happening. I am sorry your challenge comes at the end of your tenure — not that it wasn’t made to the administration privately and in your actions in quickly agreeing to secret MOU’s to aid the SIG schools. Its been another year — not summer — of “Rope-a-dope” tactics. Lets get the “school climate surveys” out in the open and start publicly addressing the problems and demanding change to benefit the children and all those who work so hard in educating our children. Otherwise, the icebergs of Mount and Sun Terrace will continue to sink the Titanics of MDUSD as there are a shortage of lifeboats for our children and grandchildren. Please have the surveys posted — perhaps for all three years so there is no question of the monumental problem.

  5. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Mike: I strongly urge you to make the climate surveys public. It is clear that Trustee Lynne Dennler was aware of rumblings of dissatisfaction at other sites, but it’s unclear if any district administrators are addressing them.
    In the case of Sun Terrace, no teachers have yet publicly come forward. Yet, I have heard that one retired suddenly mid-year and that the long-time sub who had previously agreed to take on the first-grade class left suddenly after about two weeks.
    Friedman told me that Jacobs appears to undermine teachers’ authority when she enters classrooms, because she starts telling students what to do. Is it a principal’s job to take over a class when he or she enters, or to observe and coach teachers privately afterwards?
    These complaints also remind me of what happened at Northgate HS several years ago when a freshman math class experienced similar problems. Parents who became frustrated with lack of responsiveness from the principal and superintendent eventually got the attention of Trustee Gary Eberhart. Eberhart told me he drove for hours one night to meet with the parents. The principal ended up leaving mid-year and the superintendent was ousted.
    Although Eberhart once again appears to be taking an interest in what is going on at Mt. Diablo HS and Sun Terrace Elementary, it’s unclear whether his involvement will bring about results that will quell the mounting dissatisfaction.
    It is unfortunate that egos sometimes appear to drive decisions in the district instead of what’s best for students. Friedman told me that Jacobs urged her to tell the district that everything was being resolved. Others told me they have been told not to speak out.
    When Pat Middendorf spoke to the County Board of Education about the CVHS charter petition, she said Superintendent Steven Lawrence told the group they couldn’t convert to a charter because it would make him look bad. This raises the question: What is really the top priority in MDUSD?

  6. Doctor J Says:

    Secrecy breeds corruption. The only way to avoid corruption is stop secrecy. Many talk about “transparency” but few practice it. As the Good Book says, The truth will make you free. I join in Theresa’s plea for openness. Only the TRUTH will make MDUSD a better learning enviorment for our children.

  7. g Says:

    “…Eberhart once again appears to be taking an interest in what is going on….”

    Yes, he appears to be taking interest, again, as usual, in the latter months of his election cycle year. I doubt endorsements will come as readily this time, based on his failure to produce positive results on a single one of his 2008 election “promises”.

  8. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: There is a difference between secrecy intended to thwart transparency and working behind the scenes to effect positive change without publicly airing dirty laundry.
    As I have previously stated, I was contacted by a Sun Terrace parent about these complaints a few weeks before they publicly went to the board. At that time, I declined to pursue the story because it appeared that the parents had not made every attempt to get their issues resolved by going through the appropriate school and district channels. But after they tried to resolve issues through the existing system and failed to get results, this became a story of interest to the greater public. It is especially important to point out the pattern that is developing as one school community after another complains that it is running into a brick wall at the principal and district level.
    Sun Terrace is not an isolated case. Yet, the parents and former staff members to whom I have spoken said they felt isolated and didn’t know what kind of action to take. Now, they are finding that by speaking up forcefully in unison, they are at least being noticed.
    It is still unclear to me why teachers at CVHS and MDHS felt safe enough to speak out publicly, while teachers at Sun Terrace apparently do not (according to what others have told me).
    It is also ironic that some students at Holbrook elementary were transferred to Sun Terrace after the board closed that highly-effective campus. Friedman said one Holbrook parent spoke glowingly about her former principal Sara Dieli, who resigned after telling me it was too emotionally painful for her to imagine going to another school to start over, trying to rebuild the kind of thriving campus she was privileged to oversee at Holbrook.

  9. Jim Says:

    And how much of this, if any, was considered during Supt Lawrence’s “evaluation” and contract extension? We don’t know, and no one is telling.

  10. Doctor J Says:

    If Sue Brothers comments are sincere, she realized what Lawrence could not comprehend because he was beholden to Eberhart’s agenda, instead of working with students and parents.

  11. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    If Sue Brothers comment are sincere (and I hope they are), she has seen the writing on the wall and decided to UNHITCH her cart from the Lawrence/Eberhart horse.

  12. Katherine Friedman Says:

    Thank you Theresa for your post. It is my hope that parents & teachers can find a safe place, such as your blog, to voice their concerns. I am still deeply troubled with the fact that so many people are afraid to speak up….

  13. Doctor J Says:

    @MD BW — if she departs MDUSD we will know she has learned her lesson — if she stays, it will have been a pure self serving statement.

  14. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#8 Agreed that positive change can occur without airing dirty laundry — but it requires two sincere parties and a willingness to clean and sanitize the dirt, and not to resort to the same tactics over and over again. However, concealment of dirty laundry will lead to untoward results if that laundry is not cleaned and sanitized. Example: MDEA sat on information about Buttercupgate to use in the bargaining process for their own purposes, rather than expose the TRUTH to stop Brown Act violations. We saw no postive change from that tactic, and instead it has generated further secrecy and concealments which we have seen in the last 27 months. At some point, the laundry has to be cleaned and sanitized — airing it to the public guarantees that, but hiding the dirty laundry doesn’t. And using knowledge of dirty laundry as “blackmail” never works in the long-run. Eventually the shorts will stink.

  15. Wait a Minute Says:

    Positive change will NEVER HAPPEN under Stevie Lawrence/Rolen or Eberhart/Whitmarsh. These people have a very well defined Method of Operating and we have seen plenty of evidence of this for their entire reign of stupidity.

    As for Brothers, she has rode the coattails of Stevie Lawrence now for over half her career and she herself has practiced many of the same tactics during her career so I would be surprised if she has really changed.

  16. Sue Berg Says:

    Theresa, #5,
    Interesting, but not surprising, to read that Gary Eberhart credits himself for “fixing” the staffing problems at Northgate High. As I was working in the Supt’s Office at the time, I can attest that addressing and solving the staffing issues at NHS was a collective effort of District staff, school staff, and parents. All Board members voiced concern and asked questions. The superintendent talked with many people before making recommendations (including the appointments of a well-regarded interim principal and then a successful permanent one) that restored the stability needed for NHS to strengthen its educational program and its community. This issue did not lead to the ousting of the superintendent. The desire for a couple of Board members to have more control over district operations and programs did.

  17. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Sue, Since I wasn’t covering the district at the time, I do not know all the details about how the issue was resolved. Also, since I was referring to a conversation I had with Eberhart a while ago, I don’t want to imply that he claimed to have single-handedly solved the problem. I just recall that he said he went out of his way to meet with parents and stressed to the superintendent the need for action. I also do not know all the reasons the superintendent was ousted. However, I do know that this incident contributed to the effort to remove Walnut Creek schools from the district.
    In Concord, there is no other district for Sun Terrace or other schools to turn to.

  18. Mike Langley Says:

    “Example: MDEA sat on information about Buttercupgate to use in the bargaining process for their own purposes, rather than expose the TRUTH to stop Brown Act violations. We saw no postive change from that tactic, and instead it has generated further secrecy and concealments which we have seen in the last 27 months.”

    The only thing MDEA knew about “Buttercupgate” is what we read in the blogs. At the bargaining table, we engage in bargaining, not blackmail. Sorry to disappoint, but we are far less Machiavellian than portrayed. We read predictions of how we will use inside information to forge sweetheart deals. We must shake our heads. When we talk quietly to district administration it is because we don’t have all the facts in a situation. Rather than pounding our shoe on the desk and making accusations that may or may not have merit, we investigate and attempt to work for positive change. Sometimes our members tell us of abuses, but ask that we not make them public for fear of retribution. We honor those requests.
    On these sites, be careful not to accept as truth all statements from observers. If anyone has a question about what we are doing as an organization, they are free to email us at
    Thank you for your consideration.

  19. Doctor J Says:

    @ML#18. I suggest you have a conversation with Mike Noce, your predecessor. It was one of your members moonlighting as a waitress at the Buttercup that observed the meeting and overheard the conversations. It was reported to MDEA. I learned that Noce had a conversation with the then Board President, and he at first denied that the meeting even took place, but when Noce gave him the facts, he came back and admitted the meeting. This was not reported in the blogs until much later. As far as I know the informer never asked for annonymity.
    As for your style of negotiating, I would never accuse you of being less than honorable. But it was no secret to the Board President, other Board members who were there and Supt that MDEA knew ALL of the facts of ButtercupGATE and yet did not disclose the facts publicly. As Kenny Rogers used to sing, “You got to know when to hold them, and when to fold them…” MDEA chose to “hold them”. The other players at the table already knew what your cards were.

  20. Sue Berg Says:

    Michael Langley, #2,
    The sentence in your post that caught my eye is: “We also see schools with very positive climates.” I encourage you to name at least a few of those schools (to balance the three recently named publicly as problematic) in order to be, well, fair. Also successful schools deserve to receive public kudos. And, perhaps by highlighting what’s working, you/MDEA can (without even involving district staff, if you believe there’s a barrier there) call attention to effective programs and strategies that the struggling schools and their communities might adopt.

    There’s no dearth of criticism on this blog. How about a little praise now and then, too?

  21. Doctor J Says:

    @SueBerg#16, Sue, you used so many words “The desire for a couple of Board members to have more control over district operations and programs did.” to describe “micromanage” !

  22. Doctor J Says:

    @SueBerg#20&MLangley#2 I urge MDEA to release ALL of the School Climate reports so that all schools are treated equally and fairly. No parent should be left to wonder what the teachers at their school feel about the school climate. The WHOLE TRUTH is extremely important.

  23. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Sue, I agree and I was planning to suggest the same thing. It’s good to give kudos where it’s deserved.
    For example, Tom Barnidge did a nice column today about teachers who have changed careers and in many cases taken pay cuts, because they love making a difference in students’ lives. The MDUSD educator featured is Concord HS biotechnology teacher Ernie Liu:
    I met Liu a few years ago, when he tried to coordinate a “Give and Share” campaign urging parents to donate $99 to the district after the parcel tax failed. He was trying to save the jobs of teachers who were laid-off at his school.
    Unfortunately, however, the campaign didn’t raise as much as he had hoped, in part because the school board didn’t tell the community how it would spend the money raised. At that time, many parents didn’t trust the district to spend the money wisely and instead donated extra funds to their local schools to pay for staff such as instructional aides.

  24. Jim Says:

    Mike Langley, I would like to see MDEA be more public about its positions. At almost every board meeting I attend, I hear public comments from teachers who often seem to be highlighting important issues of concern to parents, students, and other staff. But it is difficult to discern whether one teacher’s comments represent larger issues, or a problem that can, and should, be resolved at the site level. MDEA has an opportunity to provide perspective on the issues that its individual members bring to the public.

    Entirely too much goes on behind closed doors at MDUSD. I have seen examples where the union has worked behind the scenes to protect its members at the expense of students’ education, leaving parents and students appalled and perplexed that such indifference could exist. Teachers and staff have valid interests as stakeholders in MDUSD, and your many in your membership are certainly familiar with the elements that can create a successful classroom experience. I would like to see MDEA’sleadership take more public positions that provide greater transparency to the entire enterprise of public education. It’s not enough just to try to protect dues-paying members, although I understand that will always be a priority. You need to speak up more for a concrete vision of what is to be done.

  25. Sue Berg Says:

    Theresa, #17,
    Gary Eberhart often gives the impression that he is the only Board member to take an issue seriously and to hold the superintendent accountable. That’s why I wasn’t surprised at your description, however unintentional, that he had a major role in bringing about change at NHS. My hackles were raised because I know how attentive, conscientious, and demanding (on behalf of their constituencies) all MDUSD Board members were during Gary McHenry’s 10-year tenure. I know that senior administrators worked diligently to support, counsel, and train school principals and staff and that the superintendent often met with and listened to parents and students.

    Yes, the petition for Walnut Creek schools to secede from MDUSD arose from the NHS staffing issues. But that was not the first time Walnut Creek residents submitted such a petition, and I hear another attempt may be in the works. (Forgive me for sounding snippy, but why, if there is so much unhappiness with MDUSD in Walnut Creek, does no one from that community run for the school board?)

    The comment that Sun Terrace and other Concord schools are, to paraphrase, “stuck with MDUSD,” perpetuates the assumption that individual schools cannot be successful in a large school district. I simply don’t believe that. In fact, as Michael Langley said in his first post, “We also see schools with very positive climates” (in MDUSD). Sun Terrace was, as I hear, one of those schools until just recently. Holbrook was until it was closed last year, and many of its teachers are now at Sun Terrace. Energy should be put into nurturing the expertise and commitment that exists at the school site rather than on wishing the school could be in a different district.

  26. Doctor J Says:

    MDEA posted that Kate Mclatchy has unilaterally imposed “Term Limits” and other restrictions on “Department Chairs” under the ruse of a “district policy”. MDEA members are suggesting this is retaliation for her receiving the “no confidence” vote and supports her belief that she has the full support of the Board of Education and Supt. Lawrence.

  27. Jim Says:

    Sue, your question about why no one from Walnut Creek runs for the MDUSD school board did not sound snippy — just, well, clueless. Forgive me if that sounds harsh, but can you really not understand why an intelligent, thoughtful person might have second thoughts about running for a position on THIS board, in THIS district? Looking back over the almost non-stop, tragi-comic travails of MDUSD, how often would ONE vote from a Walnut Creek board member have made a difference? Presuming, that is, that the WC member were not driven by the same base political concerns that seem to motivate most of the existing members.

    Let’s be honest. This district has problems bigger than one or two board members. It is WAY too large, trying to meet the needs of too many different student populations, without racking up much success with any of them. More troubling, there is a long-established culture of mediocrity that would take a management revolution and a groundswell of grass roots activism to overturn.

    MDUSD is a dysfunctional, unresponsive monopoly that ought to be dramatically reduced in size, with the management of the constituent parts devolving down to the teachers, parents, and staff who have the most at stake in finally seeing some success. CVCHS represented a possible first step toward that goal. Have you noted how often the phrase “the next CVHS?” is coming up when people discuss specific schools on this and other blogs? Giving families a genuine CHOICE about their children’s education seems to be doing more to focus MDUSD attentions than all the “reforms” of the last 10 years.

    Even as a WC parent, I wouldn’t bother voting for anybody — even from WC — who thinks that changing a few board members is all that this district needs. It needs more focus and more accountability. Even though poor leadership helped get us into this mess, I wonder whether leadership alone — without fundamental restructuring — is going to get us out.

  28. Doctor J Says:

    @Jim, Perhaps the only viable solution for MDUSD is to divide the district into five voting areas for trustees so that each area must be represented.

  29. Anon Says:

    The reality is Walnut Creek parents in MDUSD have been attacked for years as elitist and a WC board member would be inviting the same abuse multiplied. Apparently it’s elitist to unite the Walnut Creek schools in a Walnut Creek school district-although Sue is correct the movement for Walnut Creek unification existed before Eberhart and will remain after Eberhart. In that vein, I’m informed Brian Lawrence has moved to Walnut Creek so the city may have a board member this year.

  30. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:


    I can confirm that the next school year will bring additional attempts at Charter Conversion.

    I suspect it may also bring wholesale muntiny of the WC schools.

  31. Anon Says:

    DrJ-That’s a brilliant idea that was presented to the county board of education and denied in 2003. Then-board member Borsuk stated “there is no question in his mind that the Mt. Diablo Unified School District is putting the spotlight on Bay Point and that he could see no reason for changing how the school board members are elected because the district is making a valiant effort to meet the Bay Point community’s needs (e.g. maintaining schools well, putting plans in place for a new high school, etc.).” Today is the 9-year anniversary of that statement and what has been done?

  32. Anon Staff Says:

    Posted Saturday on the OurMdea Facebook page:

    Why has the embattled Principal of Mt. Diablo High School proclaimed a new policy to limit teacher choice in the leadership positions at that school? We understand that she has dictated that there will be term limits on all Department Chairs. You know how well that worked in the California Legislature: forcing out the most experienced and churning leadership with a series of greenhorns. In fact, it is said that even current Chairs, who were elected by their peers, will have their terms truncated (trunKATEd?) so that she can personally select the replacements. Each current Chair has been ordered to put forth two names, excluding incumbents. The Principal will then select HER choice of who will represent each department.
    Additionally, her edict forbade any teacher from holding more than one position. With the current turnover of classroom personnel, this guarantees less experienced and more pliable teachers responsible for voicing the opinions of the faculty. Maybe she can place Temporary and Probationary teachers in these positions. That would go a long way in suppressing any opposition to her singular vision. We all know how difficult it is to recruit teachers to extra duty, non-compensated or under-compensated positions. At some sites in the past, we have seen Interns as Department Chairs and Site Council Representatives due to shortages of veteran teachers. That served no one well. Could her quest for new leaders have any connection to the overwhelming no confidence vote she sustained this year?
    When this member taught at El Dorado Middle School he served as Department Chair and Team leader for a Small Learning Community. At College Park, this member was Department Chair, PTSA Representative, WASC Coordinator and later on a Faculty Representative to the Site Council. Most of those positions were not supported by stipend, but required hours of time from somebody who could advise and represent the faculty with experience. Many leadership positions would go unfilled if it were not for those few who dedicated themselves to helping the facility function. What were the other teachers doing? They were sponsoring school clubs, coaching athletics, arranging plays and musical performances. They had homework clubs and tutoring sessions. Some had community support activities outside the school, scout troops and church organizations. Others were pursuing higher education or developing new courses of studies reflecting the changing needs of our students. We have a limited number of people who have time to dedicate to leadership positions. One wonders why they are being excluded.
    There is no contract language that specifies how Department Chairs are selected. At some sites, it is whoever volunteers, as no one else wants the positions. The best run sites have a secret ballot that allows each member of the department to vote without pressure or fear of retribution. If each member of the department is given a vote for every class they teach within the department, then there is proportional representation.  Has the Principal the right to veto a selection? Surely, if a member has shown an inability to carry out the duties there must be some recourse. However, refusal to keep silent if financial or professional abuse is occurring should never be the reason for this decapitation of position.
    Is this a new MDUSD policy, as the teachers at Mt. Diablo High have been told? We have not heard of a new Board Policy and Administrative Rule on teacher leadership. How are leadership positions selected at your Middle or High School? Add your school’s policy and your own reaction to the PROCLAMATION from Mt Diablo’s “Queen of Hearts” to this posting. Encourage others to read this or repost on your own site. Let’s use the social media power to find out if this is a new trend or a stunted anomaly.

  33. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#31 Note that Eberhart and Mayo spoke in opposition to the petition — and they are still in office and still only doing window dressing for Bay Point — and when the truth comes out about ALL BUSSING being eliminated from Bay Point as the new boundaries are being drawn, you will see that Bay Point will have received the Golden Screw !

  34. Anon Says:

    City of Concord may cut crossing guards, and then what ?

  35. Doctor J Says:

    When MDUSD changes the boundaries and eliminates all bussing, and there are no crossing guards for the busy streets, children’s attendance at school will drop dramatically, and MDUSD will lose ADA. What will MDUSD do ? What they have always done — raise administrator salaries, extend contracts, and blame Sacramento.

  36. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Dr J.,

    You forgot that they will blame all the “enemies of the kids of the MDUSD”. – a la Pauly Strange

  37. Jim Says:

    Dr. J #28 — I don’t think dividing the district into 5 voting areas would help at all. The fact is that MDUSD tries to serve student populations with very different needs at a +30,000-student scale, and there are precious few examples of success with that approach, ANYWHERE in the country, at ANY budget level (e.g. New Jersey, where some of the most miserable districts passed the $20k/student budget level years ago). There are just too many competing priorities in MDUSD, requiring too many different discrete skills, to see a high likelihood of success. Struggling students fail, gifted students lose interest (or move!), and the rest muddle through, remarkably unimpacted by classroom instruction. (I have learned firsthand how much a kid can learn about a subject with a library card and Wikipedia, even when the teacher thinks that 3-4 hours of Hollywood videos per week represents a valid pedagogical approach.)

    I spent 13 years working with schools and districts across the country, and I can count on the fingers of one hand the large districts where I willingly would have sent my own children to school. The small, more homogenous districts often do fine, because the public can keep an eye on everything, and the student needs are more focused. (And admittedly, many of those small districts serve more affluent suburbs with all sorts of socio-economic advantages.) But the overwhelming evidence suggests that our large school districts are not successful serving diverse student populations — anywhere.

    Big, publicly run monopolies are difficult to get right, and our school districts provide ample evidence of that, every year. That’s why most advanced industrialized countries do not even have anything like our “school districts” with their compulsory “feeder patterns”. When I tell people overseas that parents in the U.S. can be prosecuted for “sneaking” their children into another PUBLIC school system, they are as astonished as I’m sure the Abolitionists were after the Dred Scott decision in 1857, when they were informed that from then on, runaway slaves who’d reached the North would still have to be returned to the plantation they came from. That was an abomination, and someday our current system will strike average people as aberrant and unthinkable. But that will take some time.

  38. Uh huh Says:

    I am an employee at Sun Terrace and yes, We, as employees are affraid to speak up about Mrs Jacobs. I for one, have seen children getting injured only to see Mrs Jacobs scold the children as if (as she, Mrs Jacobs puts it) they are being “Bad”
    Sun Terrace is a mess.Mrs Jacobs lies and tries to put things off on others and even when she is called out on a lie she will still try and put it on someone that isnt present.
    The children run wild and when a staff member tries to correct the situation, Mrs Jacobs scolds the staff stating that she is specially trained for whatever that situation may be and that we, as teachers, support staff and so on, are not so it is none of our business. I am sorry, but if I see a child in a dangerous situation, I am sure as heck going to step in and take that child out of that situation. Mrs Jacobs makes it impossible for all of us to do our jobs to the best of our abilities. She is constantly speaking of how all of the “bad kids” came from Holbrook and how she has changed this and that only to expect a pat on the back as if she invented the wheel. Mrs Jacobs is also more concerned about the appearance of the school rather than kids performing at grade level and above. Why is it that she felt the need to purchase new (expensive & decorative) garbage cans for the whole school? Or how about moving where the children that get bussed to Sun Terrace getting dropped off down on the street as opposed to being dropped of in the bus lane on school grounds? That has become a safety issue as well but Mrs Jacobs again feels as if she has done the best thing for all involved. There are so many other things that I could bring up and honestly I have seen no action(other than Mrs Jacobs trying to do damage control) to rectify the situation at Sun Terrace. Our school used to be a fun place to be but no more and until Mrs Jacobs is gone, It is only going to get worse.

  39. Mdusd Employee Says:

    Let’s be clear…..Nothing is going to change in MDUSD until Eberhart, Whitmarsh, and Mayo no longer control the board majority and Lawrence is gone.
    Eberhart is universally disliked and distrusted by members of all the bargaining units and is considered to be a clown albeit a clown with a mean streak a mile wide. Whitmarsh is a useful idiot for Eberhart and Lawrence while Eberhart has bullied Mayo into submission over the years. At Dent Center there have been any number of people who have been subject of or witness to Eberhart’s frequent interference or bullying tactics. One senior administrator commented that it would be good if Gary had a real job and stayed out of district business. Lawrence has no leadership skills whatever and runs top down while continuously surprising staff with decisions no one had any input in. Add that one does not disagree with Lawrence lest you find yourself on his wrong side and you have a dysfunctional district office with no direction or vision. We see no relief, progress, or change at Dent and for the sites until Eberhart, Whitmarsh, and Lawrence are gone. Until the community and public realize who the real enemies are nothing will change. We can hope that the November elections bring us new leadership.

  40. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Uh huh: Tonight, two Sun Terrace parents spoke at the board meeting.
    One parent praised Jacobs for bringing grant money to the school.
    The other parent showed up with her son’s arm in a sling, saying he had fractured his wrist at the first recess, but Jacobs would not allow him to go to the office and would not allow his teacher to call his mother. She didn’t find out about her son’s injury until he went to the after-school program and they reported it to her. She rushed him to emergency, where he received the sliing and some pain medication. Previously, all he had received was an ice pack.
    After the mother spoke, I followed her out into the lobby to speak with her. Rose Lock followed, saying she wanted to speak to the mother after I had finished. Lock definitely appeared concerned and sympathetic toward the mother and the boy.
    The mother said she called Jacobs and Jacobs told her she would follow-up with the substitute tomorrow. But, it appeared that Jacobs was more concerned about figuring out how many ice packs the boy had received than answering the obvious question: Why wasn’t the mother called and why was the boy forced to suffer in pain the rest of the school day with a fractured wrist?
    The mother said she rushed to the school board meeting from the hospital because she wanted trustees to hear her story. Board president Sherry Whitmarsh asked Superintendent Steven Lawrence to follow up on this and he assured her he would.
    The mother told me she hadn’t seen my blog in the Sunday paper, but she told me everyone at school was talking about it.
    During closed session, the board unanimously agreed to release six certificated employees or come to negotiated agreements in lieu of dismissal, unless PAR coaches could attest to improvement. They did not name the employees.

  41. Theresa Harrington Says:

    For more info about tonight’s meeting, please see the update on this blog post:

  42. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#40 – Those are very serious accuasations. If true, and so far they are only accuasations, could result in criminal prosectuion and/or administrative credential discipline. More significantly, if there has been a pattern of this kind of conduct, MDUSD could be looking at consequences. I wonder what their “safety plan” says is the proper protocal ? As for Rose Lock, I understand she was at Sun Terrace yesterday, but the $64 question was she there during the first recess when this boy was injured and did she know about it herself and failed to act ? There could be major implications. It would be interesting to find out when Rose Lock was at the school — from when to when.

  43. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    If these accusations are true, I think the boy and mother have a very strong legal case in their hands.

    Is Rolen going to pull the same shenanigans with this one as he did with the last court case?

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