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MDUSD board to appoint principals, discuss graduation requirements tonight

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, May 21st, 2012 at 6:29 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

The Mt. Diablo school board expects to appoint up to four principals, discuss high school graduation requirements and review the accomplishments of the Student Achievement and School Support (SASS) Department tonight.

Here is the link to the complete agenda for the meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. in the district office:

Here are some highlights from the consent calendar, which will not be discussed unless a board member requests that they be pulled and acted on separately:

Item 9.10: Award of Design Services Contract For Refurbishment/Modification of Existing Auto/Metal Shop at Northgate High School-‘Project Lead The Way’ Engineering Pathway — a fully inclusive ‘not to exceed’ contract for $18,900.00 be awarded to PHd Architects:

Item 9.11: Award of Professional Services Contract for Consulting Services Related to the the School Facility Program (SFP) in the amount of $24,500.00 (billed at the rate of $145.00 per hour) be awarded to Jack Schreder and Associates:

Item 9.12: Approve Independent Services Contracts with Clark Consulting and Training for services at Rio Vista Elementary — The school is continuing with the implementation of High Intensity Language Training for staff. Total $44,200.00 Funding is provided by the School Improvement Grant:

Item 9.13: Award of Design Services Contract for Supplemental Housing Installation at Meadow Homes Elementary — To support the implementation of the School Improvement Grant there exists a need to install four (4) supplemental/interim classrooms for the start of the 2012-2013 school year:

Item 9.14: Resolution Rendering Local Ordinances Inapplicable: Concord High School Marquee Project. The resolution states in part: “…the District has balanced the interests of the public, including those of the District and those of the City of Concord, and has determined that the interests of the public are best served by rendering the City’s zoning ordinances inapplicable to the Project…the City of Concord’s zoning ordinances would potentially unduly hamper, interfere with, or prohibit the Project…”:

Item 9.17: Approve Job Description for S3 Safety Grant Liaison:
This person would assist in implementing school safety policies and procedures.

Item 9.18: Memorandum of Understanding between the College Board and Mt. Diablo Unified School District to implement the California AP® Expansion (CAPE) program to increase Advanced Placement (AP) courses at Mt. Diablo and Ygancio Valley High Schools:

Item 9.20: It is recommended that the Board approve Phase I of the Implementation Plan for the 2012/2013 school year:

9.21: Award of Bid for Bid #1603 to provide Utility Infrastructure Extension at College Park High School. The lowest responsible, responsive bidder is Carone & Company, Inc., for the base bid and alternate #1 amount of $601,000.00. (Base bid $589,000.00 plus alternate #1 $12,000.00) with Measure C funds:

Item 9.22: Applications to Chevron for new and continued funding to implement Project Lead the Way (PLTW): Chevron has supported the implementation of Project Lead the Way Engineering at Mt. Diablo High School, Clayton Valley High School, and Riverview Middle School. Mt. Diablo High School would like to request $27,350, Concord High School would like to request $21,400, and Riverview Middle School would like to request $25,640 to support their respective PLTW Engineering programs. Funds will be used for additional PLTW modules, instructional materials and teacher training. Funding will be provided by Chevron.

9.23: Staff requests permission to submit an AT&T Aspire High School Innovation grant for Mt. Diablo High School to increase the number of participating students in an academy and expand inclusion of freshman. Proposed added components will include development of an Internship Program, Freshman Summer Bridge Program, Saturday School, and high quality professional development for teachers. The proposed “Scale Up” program goals are to 1) Personalize the learning environment and instructional process, and 2) Provide rigorous and relevant instruction and provide the skills needed to graduate/serve them after they leave school. These two goals are researched based recommendations from “What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) Dropout Prevention Practice Guide” and have framed the proposed components of MDHS’ “Scale Up” program. Three academies have chosen to participate in the AT&T Aspire grant. They include Architecture Manufacturing and Engineering Academy (ACME, Digital Safari Academy (DSA) and Medical Biotechnology Academy (MBTA):

9.24: Memorandum of Understanding between the California State University East Bay, East Bay Foundation and Mt. Diablo CARES After School Program to plan and develop a STEM program in the after school program:

9.25: Increase Contract for translating services between Advanced Interpreting Services and Mt. Diablo Unified School District – The current contract is in the amount of $83,990.00. Based on current projections, it is estimated that we will need an additional $16,000 to cover services for the remainder of the school year:

9.27: Approve submission of the Action for Healthy Kids grant for Mt. Diablo and Ygnacio Valley High Schools:

9.28 Northgate HS Measure C project list:

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend tonight’s meeting due to a family commitment (although it’s possible I may go late). I encourage anyone who attends or listens online to comment below.

9:30 P.M. UPDATE/LIVE BLOG: I arrived during item 17.7, which passed along with 17.8, 17.9, and 17.10. All votes were 4-0-1, which Board President Sherry Whitmarsh absent.

17.11 Increase Independent Service Contract with Community Options for Families and Youth, Inc. (COFY) for 2011-12 school year.
Passed 4-0-1 (Whitmarsh absent)

17.12 passed 4-0-1 (Whitmarsh absent)

17.13 Grad requirements: Approved staff recommendation 4-0-1 (Whitmarsh absent)

17.14 Algebra readiness: Mayo said the board had already discussed this (Must have moved up on agenda before I arrived). Info only.

17.15 Adoption of the Human Rights Education course of study
Linda Hutcherson and MDHS teacher Dan Reynolds introduced the course. Info only.

17.16 Job description for Educational Transcriber: Info only.
Three high school students may pilot this idea. Advantage is notes will be made available to students.

17.17 Procedures to hire long term substitutes: Info only
Trustee Gary Eberhart said he asked for this item to be discussed.
Julie Braun-Martin discussed items included in agenda packet.
Eberhart said he wanted to be sure that what happened recently with 13 subs (at Sun Terrace Elementary) would not happen again.
Trustee Cheryl Hansen said it sounded like the district was doing everything it could and some people are just flakes (referring to subs who break promises to work long-term).
Trustee Lynne Dennler said being a long-term sub is a thankless job. She pointed out that teachers are expected to spend 45 minutes after school creating Board Math lesson plans. She said she many subs may not want to do that.
Eberhart asked if staff knew there was a problem with the recent (Sun Terrace) sub issue, before it was brought to the board’s attention. Braun-Martin said she counted 11 subs. She said she knew there had been a lot, but didn’t realize there had been that many. However, she said the district had a stack of emails from the school regarding the sub issue.

17.18 Board Action Progress Report:
Hansen criticized the current report, saying it wasn’t meaningful. Lawrence said he would meet with Eberhart to try to improve it. Hansen said she may bring back another agenda item to try to get an accountability report like she first envisioned.
Mayo reiterated what the board had originally approved, saying the board agreed to exclude hires, food service and facilities expenditures. However, she said anyone could add an item through a board action.

18.0 Board reports

Hansen said she attended a recent event honoring retirees.

Dennler read a strongly worded statement about the need to address problems at school sites, after saying she met with teachers at two schools that received negative climate ratings in MDEA’s most recent survey. She referenced CVHS and said staff turned a blind eye before that school decided to convert to a charter. She said a positive classroom climate is essential and detailed complaints such as teachers being yelled at in front of students and being called to the office on false pretenses, then confronted by parents. She said walking on eggs does not promote a positive climate. Yet, she pointed out that the teachers also gave credit where it was due in terms of positive comments. She said the district should not try to find fault with the climate survey or the teachers. Instead, it should address the problems raised. “To avoid these problems, I think is educational malpractice,” she said.

Eberhart again asked that an item be placed on the agenda requesting that meeting agendas and minutes for all district committees be readily accessible on the district’s website home page. “Or, conversely,” he said, “it could just happen and then we wouldn’t need to put it on the agenda.”

Eberhart also discussed the past weekend, which he and Mayo spent at a CSBA conference, where they talked about how districts are dealing with finances, school climate, bullying, and support for funding measures on the November ballot. The group decided to support both tax funding measures, he said, since they couldn’t decide which one was better than the other.

Mayo said CSBA also took positions on several bills. She said the group talked about pension reform. Also, she mentioned “Teen impact driving” and urged fellow board members to speak to teens they see driving with cell phones.

The meeting adjourned around 10:30 p.m.


Here are the people who spoke during public comment, according to the superintendent’s secretary:

CST rep Debbie Hickey regarding district positions, Jay Bedecarre regarding Kids’ Fest this weekend, Brian Lawrence regarding contract extensions for superintendent and other top administrators, bus driver Lynne Miller regarding budget cuts, a man who did not identify himself regarding window replacement at CPHS, Jean-Pierre Musac praising Sun Terrace Elementary in Concord, and Katherine Friedman expressing concerns about Sun Terrace.

Hickey spoke again under “District Organizations.”

Item 17.1: The board appointed Liane Cismowski and Kristan Martin-Meyer as elementary principals. The district is not naming the schools where they will work at this time because it is expecting more vacancies due to retirements or other moves.

Item 17.2: The board appointed Susan Massey-Clover as a special education program specialist.

Here is a link to Dennler’s complete statement, which she made during “Board Reports”:

MAY 23 UPDATE: Here is a link to audio of the meeting:

And here is the link to my story about the meeting:

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44 Responses to “MDUSD board to appoint principals, discuss graduation requirements tonight”

  1. g Says:

    KVHS not carrying it. Did they have to move the meeting at the last minute?

  2. Flippin Tired Says:

    The meeting started at 7:00pm in the board room. Channel 2 news was there to film the rally before the meeting.

  3. g Says:

    Thanks Flippin! Sun Terrace Rally? How many were at the rally? Keep us posted if you can.

  4. Flippin Tired Says:

    CST, M&O and MDEA were rallying. The board is looking to cut more out of our time & benefits. I was only there for the rally and some of the beginning of the board meeting.

  5. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I’m here. Whitmarsh is absent. Board approved more speech pathologists and Educational Interpreters for the Deaf (items 17.7 and 17.8) 4-0-1 (Whitmarsh absent).
    I videotaped those two discussions, which are being uploaded to

  6. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have posted an update, where I will continue live-blogging the rest of the meeting.

  7. Wendy Lack Says:

    Saw this report on the PH Patch:

  8. Doctor J Says:

    Appointment of Liane Cismowski as an elementary principal is most interesting. My sources are telling me that she was NOT in the elementary principal pool, but this was a weekend appointment. Are there other future promises attached ? For her to switch from secondary to elementary is highly unusual, especially with her credentials, and political pull. Appointment of just two elementary principals, disclosure of many more to come and Sunday’s posting of a second Elementary principal pool is really significant.

  9. Doctor J Says:

    Who are the SIX elementary principals being replaced ? There must be some nervousness this morning.

  10. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have received copies of two powerful statements made last night by board candidate Brian Lawrence and Trustee Lynne Dennler.
    Both could make people nervous, since they demand self-reflection by the board and district, along with accountability.
    I will post each statement separately.

  11. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Wow, look at The Gary’s new found love of transparency. Just in time for the election cycle. Remember Gary is a pro at this election stuff, but is an incredible amature at providing necessary educations to our children.


  12. The Observer Says:

    Last night Brian Lawrence showed he is definitely not a novice when it comes to triangulating issues. Two weeks ago I watched him sit silently while others were speaking against the outrageous Eberhart/Whitmarsh plan to give the contract extensions to upper level council particularly the superintendent. Last night, I watched candidate Lawrence come up to the podium and speak against the contract extensions with an eye to specifically criticizing Linda Mayo for her remarks about new board members not having the experience to properly evaluate the superintendent. He clearly avoided any criticism directed toward his political godfather, Gary Eberhart, who along with Paul Strange, had annointed Lawrence in the last election. So, Lawrence attacks Mayo while sidestepping Eberhart.

    Lawrence’s silence two weeks ago demonstrated his political courage. His speech last night was too little, too late. We, in the community will be more impressed when Lawrence moves to the podium and publicly denounces Eberhart’s ruinous 16 year tenure on the board. He had the opportunity to do so last night and chose the easy target, Linda Mayo.

    Lawrence might argue that Eberhart isn’t the issue. Yes, Brian, Eberhart is the issue, has been the issues, and will be the main issue when he announces his candidacy. As long as Eberhart sits on the board, MDUSD will be moving from mediocrity to failure. If Lawrence doesn’t see that, then he isn’t ready to serve on the board.

  13. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Lawrence also criticized the entire board for lack of transparency and hiding behind the Brown Act.

    I’ll post his comments shortly, along with information I received from Trustee Cheryl Hansen outlining her suggestions for more transparent superintendent evaluations.

  14. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is Dennler’s statement, which is based on conversations she had with teachers at two poorly rated campuses in MDEA’s recent school climate surveys:

  15. Doctor J Says:

    Interesting that no inhouse elementary were promoted to principal. Kristan Martin-Meyer from Hayward. apparently Katy Murphy has reported on her before.

  16. anon Says:

    I found it interesting that it was eberhart who was all over staff for developing a system that allowed for 11 substitutes in one classroom at sun terrace while hansen defended staff saying that they can’t control when substitutes are flakes. Tell that the the parents at sun terrace who had to deal with those 11 substitutes. I’m starting to see how hansen works. It’s not important to make good policy; whats important is opposing eberhart. As far as brian lawrence deciding to criticize the board for the contract extensions, very nicely done. Too bad you couldn’t figure out that the time to advocate was before the decision was made, not after. Pretty lame. I sure hope that we will have candidates for school board that can do better. All I have seen from brian lawrence is pandering.

  17. Doctor J Says:

    The total irony of Eberhart’s statement — he just gave contract extensions with built in raises to those who developed the “system” that allowed 11 substitutes in one class. Gary, fire them a month later, if you really are sincere. Uh, that would be Lawrence, Braun-Martin, and Lock, plus a few more in SASS like the “coaches” for the principals. Lets see some action instead just gum flapping.

  18. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have added a May 22 update to this blog post with information about who spoke during Public Comment and who was appointed in items 17.1 and 17.2.

    Regarding long-term subs, I videotaped most of the conversation. Here is a link to the first portion on Qik:
    I have uploaded the rest of the conversation onto my YouTube account at:

  19. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Districts can now compete for RTTT funds:
    Should MDUSD pursue this opportunity?

  20. Doctor J Says:

    More grant money ? MDUSD are pros at writing grants — BUT they don’t follow their plans [SIG, QEIA are some examples] and don’t know how to properly spend the money ! I posted this about ten days ago, and if I could link, I would. Sorry, here it is again !

    At SBE meeting, Chris Swenson, Director of Improvement and Accountability, reported that CDE is visiting all SIG sites, that a few are fully implemented but most are lagging in implementation [and its year 2 of 3 year grant]. Based on Spending Reports just filed by MDUSD, it would appear that MDUSD is sorely lacking in implementation since through the end of 3rd Quarter, 2 of 3 schools and the district are not spending the grant money as they promised [I know, so what else is new].

    Latest SIG, Cohort 1 Spending reports through 3/31/12 [3rd Quarter, Year 2] – filed by MDUSD with CDE on 4/27. Tried to put into spreadsheet but blog not accept it. Student Population numbers taken from CDE 2011/12 Enrollment numbers provided by MDUSD.

    I would hope Theresa and every parent and member of the public would ask Steven Lawrence and Rose Lock: Why isn’t MDUSD and the SIG Schools spending the Grant Money according to the SIG plans approved by the Board, CDE and the US Dept of Education ? When the API numbers come out, there may be some real disappointments.

    Here is summary with rounded numbers:

    Bel Air — Student Population 452
    Spent through 3/31/12 in Year 2, 2011/12 $804,000
    Total Available in Year 2, 2011/12 $1,701,000
    Amount Spent per Pupil through 3/31 $1,778
    Left to spend in Year 2, 2011/12 $897,000
    Left to spend in Year 2, 2011/12 per pupil $1,984
    API Gain in 1st SIG Year 2010/11 +25 671

    Rio Vista — Student Population 426
    Spent through 3/31/12 in Year 2, 2011/12 $340,000
    Total Available in Year 2, 2011/12 $450,000
    Amount Spent per Pupil through 3/31 $798
    Left to spend in Year 2, 2011/12 $110,000
    Left to spend in Year 2, 2011/12 per pupil $258
    API Gain in 1st SIG Year 2010/11 +66 735

    Shore Acres — Student Population 517
    Spent through 3/31/12 in Year 2, 2011/12 $887,000
    Total Available in Year 2, 2011/12 $1,965,000
    Amount Spent per Pupil through 3/31 $1,715
    Left to spend in Year 2, 2011/12 $1,078,000
    Left to spend in Year 2, 2011/12 per pupil $2,085
    API Gain in 1st SIG Year 2010/11 +13 672

    District — Student Population total 3 SIG Schools 1395
    Spent through 3/31/12 in Year 2, 2011/12 $407,000
    Total Available in Year 2, 2011/12 $1,377,000
    Amount Spent per Pupil through 3/31 $291
    Left to spend in Year 2, 2011/12 $970,000
    Left to spend in Year 2, 2011/12 per pupil $695
    District Wide API Gain in 1st SIG Year 2010/11 +2 786

  21. g Says:

    We do have people who seem to be talented in writing the grant applications. Why do we need to give Jack Schrader that $24K per year? Now there’s a question! Oh, because he is an expert in “government” grants. Lets hire an expert in allocation of grants!

  22. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Regarding the long-term subs, no one brought up the possibility that subs could be leaving because they do not like working with the site administration. However, I have heard that this could be part of the problem at schools with poor climate ratings.
    Julie Braun-Martin said schools are encouraged to welcome subs and support them.
    But, Eberhart pointed out that he saw a sub at a school who didn’t know where the classroom was and didn’t seem to be getting much support — or bringing much value to the students.

  23. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#22 I thought that was implied in JMB’s presentation where the original long term sub backed out.

  24. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It appeared to me that the district was portraying it more as an instance where the sub reneged on his or her word and flaked out. Also, Dennler’s comments suggested that classroom management could be an issue.
    Several people have told me that some of the children at Sun Terrace are boisterous and could be difficult for some teachers to handle. However, a lack of consistent rules at the school has added to the chaos, some have said.

  25. g Says:

    One instance of reneging, maybe. Twelve instances? Tell us another one. Boistrous 5-10 year olds acting up with the sub du jour? Say it isn’t so.

  26. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I just spoke to a CST member who said she has friends who are teachers at Sun Terrace.

    “They love the kids, but they really don’t feel like somebody’s got their back and that’s a shame,” she said. “They say they love what they’re doing. They’re invested in these children. But when you don’t feel that somebody’s watching your back, it’s not easy. You love your job, but it’s exhausting.”

  27. g Says:

    Meeting audio is now posted. While there is still minor noise of people shuffling around, the clicking and thumping of a keyboard is (so far) gone. Thank you very very much for that.

  28. Doctor J Says:

    The big issue is poor district and school management. 13 subs in 4 months and no fire alarm bells went off ? We know Gretchen ignored the problem. But where was Susan H, the SASS coach ? Why wasn’t she ringing the fire alarm ? JMB and Personnel knew of the problem — why weren’t they ringing the fire alarm ? These children are hardly prepared to be advanced to the next grade level. Watching Lawrence while Lynne Dennler read her statement was priceless. It was kind of like watching TV where the defendant is read the charges. All I was waiting for was someone to ask Lawrence, “Mr. Supt, how do you plead, Guilty or Not Guilty ?” Instead he chose to remain silent.

  29. g Says:

    I spoke to soon. The secretary clacking away on their keyboard with their mic open is still there!!!!

  30. Doctor J Says:

    The clack-clack of the keyboard is annoying and disruptive.

  31. Doctor J Says:

    Pencil and paper please.

  32. Doctor J Says:

    So funny. I just heard the “click-clacker” whisper to the person next to her: I didn’t hear the last motion while I was typing ! I hope you have to go back and listen to the audio so you can see how annoying it is to listen to your click-clack ! Enjoy your headache !

  33. Doctor J Says:

    That’s it ! The nose blowing and sucking on candy in between the key strokes – unacceptable. I hope a speaker at the next meeting plays it back during public comment.

  34. Sun Terrace Says:

    Lots of people are asking the same question: “has anyone asked all the substitutes why they left or were asked to leave?”
    As for the count, it does not include subs that were already at the school that were pulled in last minute/subs that filled in for a day or two. There were more than 11, but regardless there is no excuse for such a high turnover with the exception that something is “wrong” at Sun Terrace.

  35. District Teacher Says:

    Dr. J, I’ve worked with Liane Cismowski and I am sure she will make a superb principal at any type of school. She has several credentials: Multiple Subject (the one most elementary school teachers have), Single Subject (English), Clear Language Development Specialist Certificate, and a Preliminary Administrative credential. She also holds National Board Certification and teaches other teachers at St. Mary’s how to obtain it.

    Ms. Cismowski has also held leadership positions in MDEA, so she is familiar with at least the teachers’ union contract, and is on excellent terms with MDEA leadership. She is also ethical, honest, transparent, truly cares about students and employees, and is very good at everything she does.

    The probable reason behind Ms. Cismowski’s sudden promotion and transfer is related to her current administrator at Mt. Diablo High School, Kate McClatchy. Because Ms. Cismowski is so competent, and so well connected from the district to the state level, McClatchy became resentful and a bit intimidated. We’ve all seen how McClatchy treats anyone she sees as a threat, and it’s no secret that McClatchy has been increasingly hostile to Ms. Cismowski since they both arrived at MDHS together.

    This district needs more site and district administrators like Liane Cismowski. Her move will be a loss for the Mount community (and a relief to McClatchy, who has now successfully run off yet another administrator), but a definite gain for whatever school she ends up at.

  36. Doctor J Says:

    @District Teacher — LC is highly qualified, but a “demotion” to elementary when she has such talent at secondary . . . . she has so much to offer, and MDUSD doesn’t know how to use such talent.

  37. Wait a Minute Says:

    Sounds like LC should have instead been named Principal of Mount and since she could have competently and collaboratively fixed its many problems.

    Instead the districts namesake school will have to suffer more under McClatchy who will continue to be propped up by Stevie and company since she is their loyal ally.

  38. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a look at Pleasanton USD’s meeting webcast:
    Perhaps someone from MDUSD could ask them how they do it.

  39. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have added a May 23 update to this blog post with links to the meeting audio and my story.

  40. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Although the board didn’t discuss the district budget Monday, trustees may vote on cuts next month due to “qualified” budget:

  41. Fly on the Wall Says:

    Glad that Ms. Cismowski is leaving MDHS because she did not fit into the inner circle that the principal has created with the other admins.

  42. da truth Says:

    From an insider at MDHS LC gave many final evaluations that were NI or U to teachers who had had satisfactory ratings up until the end. Why you might ask? Probably because the McClatchy told her too. Is that the kind of elementary principal you want at your school Ayers or Valle Verde? One without integrity to stand up to what is write when your boss tells you do a wrong to someone’s livelihood and job?

  43. Doctor J Says:

    @Da Truth, Are you saying Lawrence rewarded LC’s blind obedience to KM by “getting her out of Dodge” ? Where is the MDEA on this ? How will this affect the vote for the secret agreement ?

  44. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here are the district’s latest CELDT results:

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