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A look back at 2008 MDUSD board Brown Act accusation

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, June 11th, 2012 at 12:09 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Now that the Mt. Diablo schools superintendent and some board members have asserted that they did not need to publicly present bond documents to the board at the April 23 meeting where trustees approved those documents, it is instructive to take a look back at another time the Brown Act was a hot topic of conversation on the board.

On Oct. 18, 2008, Trustees Gary Eberhart and Paul Strange (who is an attorney) accused the rest of the board of violating the Brown Act by failing to present backup documentation for a vote during the meeting.

Here’s my story about that meeting, from our archives:

“MT. DIABLO TRUSTEES CLAIM VIOLATION OF BROWN ACT

Published Friday, 10/24/2008
Section: News
Page Number: 4
Section Letter: A

By Theresa Harrington

CONCORD — Mt. Diablo school board members Gary Eberhart and Paul Strange accused fellow board members of violating the state’s open meeting law after a contentious Saturday morning vote about school air conditioning.

‘I abstain because I believe the board is committing a misdemeanor and violating the Brown Act, and I can’t be a part of that,’ Eberhart said. The board majority voted to spend $10.2 million to air condition four schools.

Strange also abstained, saying that the superintendent should have included an engineer’s report – which compared different air conditioning systems – in the meeting agenda packet, since trustees relied on that information for their deliberations. The Brown Act requires public agencies to provide materials distributed to board members to the public, unless the information is confidential.

Board members received the engineer’s four-page report and an attached table of estimated construction costs, along with a memo from the district’s director of maintenance and operations, in a packet of materials distributed to them by Superintendent Gary McHenry. But when the board discussed different air conditioning options Oct. 14, the agenda packet did not include the report.

At that time, Strange said that the board should delay voting until Oct. 18, so the report could be provided to the public. He and Eberhart were stunned to find that the report was not included in the Saturday packet.

Dick Nicoll, assistant superintendent for administrative services, said the report was provided to the Times and was available to anyone who requested it. However, Strange and Eberhart said the public should not have to call the district to ask if anything was left out of the packet.

Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, agrees.

‘There’s no excuse for not including it,’ he said.

To correct the mistake, Scheer said, the board should vote again, including the report in its agenda packet. If it does not, a contractor or anyone else could sue the district, alleging the vote was invalid, he said.”

Here is a link to the official minutes of that meeting: http://www.mdusd.k12.ca.us/mdusd/board_of_education/minutes/0809/10-18-08.pdf
The Brown Act discussion is under Item 4.1.

Similarly, Alicia Minyen says she thinks the board should vote over on the April 23 bond resolution. But, since it appears the bonds may have already been sold, it may be a moot point.

Eberhart’s insistence at the April 23 meeting that it wasn’t necessary to publicly present the bond documents is in stark contrast to his view of the Brown Act in 2008.

Do you believe the district has violated the Brown Act by failing to publicly present the bond documents at its April 23 meeting?

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  • Theresa Harrington

    MDUSD is seeking new Measure C Bond Oversight Committee members: http://bit.ly/KBUUkq

    Unfortunately, Alicia Minyen has resigned from the CBOC, saying she cannot trust the district to provide accurate, truthful documents. She said she doesn’t want her name on any of its reports because she can’t verify the information and the district makes her pay for backup materials such as invoices, or else refuses to provide them at all.

  • Theresa Harrington

    One major oversight in the “Good News” Letter is the complete omission of Clayton Valley High. It hasn’t even converted to a charter yet, but the district doesn’t seem to want to report any good news coming out of the district school or to acknowledge that Diablo View and Pine Hollow middle schools feed into it.

    Anyone who didn’t receive it can sign up for the email list at: http://visitor.r20.constantcontact.com/manage/optin/ea?v=001jm8CFGIzLJE17XbKnU4L3g%3D%3D

  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    Is it possible the DA is causing problems for Alicia at the behest of Lawrence?

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    Theresa #52 — Clayton Valley HS was included in another communication. It was called “Good Riddance”.

  • Anon

    the good news that i would like to hear is whether mt.d student savannah ridgely is graduating. that young woman who studied for first semester finals while waiting to address the board past midnight seems everything a student should aspire to be. here’s wishing savannah and all 2012 graduates the very best for their future . . .

  • brenda aaron

    MS.HARRINGTON,
    YOU GET IT! if the principal at Sun Terrace states that the students are shinning stars how then could she be refered to by staff and parents as less than a competent leader? Using “Talk Solutions” to demonstrate kindness,good citizenship when does she set the example for staff and parents.This is new, Only if TRUE, then parents and staff could use the TALK SOLUTION if it existed to resolve conflict issues. NOT TRUE it’s a makeup as we go approach.

  • Theresa Harrington

    MDBW: I don’t believe the DA had anything to do with Minyen’s decision to resign from the BOC. However, I believe Greg Rolen very definitely did.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Brenda: The principal can now be held accountable for her conflict resolution plan and the community can assess whether or not she demonstrates the behavior she is trying to elicit from others.

  • Doctor J

    Theresa, on the front page of “Good News” click under District News where it says “click to learn” [about whether grads are ready for the real world] and shizam, up pops Clayton Valley High School !

  • Theresa Harrington

    Yes, but that’s a link to the district’s Career Integrated Academics web page, not a report about school spirit from the principal, as promised on the front page. I wonder if they forgot to ask Sue Brothers for a report.

  • Doctor J

    I think Sue Brother’s comment got “edited out”. Here is “her comment” as based on my imagination: “Clayton Valley HS is poised to become one of the all time great high schools as it begins its inagural Charter year. Both the faculty and the students are estatic over the great things about to happen as it gains its independence from tyranny, debauchery, and overtaxation.” I wonder which part wasn’t “good news” for CVCHS ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Anon: I believe that Savannah is graduating. Another bit of good news for her was her recent second-place award for creative writing in the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center’s recent “Peace through Art and Writing Challenge”: http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_20780665/22-students-from-schools-throughout-contra-costa-county

  • Doctor J

    So what does Dan Reynolds say about what is happening at Mount ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    I haven’t spoke to him yet, but this is all very odd.
    First, the IHTA kitchen showed up as a priority that was being funded with Prop. 55, which surprised some people, who thought the district was mainly concentrating on Measure C projects at this time.
    Now, it’s off the table just as quickly. Perhaps someone has decided the Prop. 55 funds need to be spent elsewhere.

  • Doctor J

    All behind closed doors.

  • Wait a Minute

    MDUSDBW@53 and TH,

    I’m not so sure that the DA didn’t have anything to do with Alicia Minyen’s decision to resign from the BOC.

    I’m also sure that Greg Rolen, The Gary, and Stevie Lawrence had much to do with her decision.

    The problem with her leaving is that she was the only guard dog, if it were, watching that big money chicken coop and with her absence it puts the foxes back into unfettered and unmonitored power.

    It would be analogous to Cheryl Hansen leaving the current board, there would be no almost no real constraints on the lying, cheating, and double-dealing that goes on there.

    Dr J,
    Its funny that you should mention Sue Brothers. I was just thinking about how she was Stevie Lawrence’s right hand in both of his last two districts that he helped run into the ground.

    I’ll bet you anything that besides the fact that Mr. Bill Morones was “rewarded” with the Asst Superintendent job for his backing of upper management in the CVCHS battles what becomes of Sue now?

    Well you can bet your bottom dollar that she is now working full time on saving her benefactors’ butts as probably the architect of the info-war being fought here and elsewhere, all to maintain their positions and power at any cost.

    After all, if the Gary goes away after the next election and some competent and independent trustees take The Gary’s and Chevron Sherry’s places then it coould be all she wrote for their jobs and possibly careers.

    I highly doubt that the sudden release of the fluff-piece “Good News” with Stevie’s wife Julie Lawrence as a member of that team is coincidental to this latest scandal (not that regular communications aren’t needed, I just question the timing and content here).

    They are desperate to counter the mounting negative press stemming from their scandals and get The Gary re-elected!!!

  • Doctor J

    @TH#50 You really think that when the API scores are released, they are ALL going to appear in the “Good News” ?? ROTFLMAO A few might qualify as “good news”, most will not — especially after two years of SASS — and will be buried in the back 40. The inaugural “Good News” is such a failure, it might not make a second issue. Last year by this time nearly all of the administrative musical chairs was played out — a few weren’t. This year, everyone is up in the air. I am trying to figure out if there are 6 or 8 vacancies in Elementary principalships. I know their pool is not large enough.

  • Tagg

    The excitement of being free from the corrupt and inept district leadership is papable at CVCHS. A huge Thank you to our couragous teachers who took a stand for change and our committed community that rallied together to make the charter dream a reality. Thank you! GO EAGLES!

  • g

    What we need is a good first-person narrative from Alicia about what has really gone on in a full year of her attempts to bring sunshine to the BOC.

    As far as I can tell there hasn’t been a word from Linda Loza since the April 23 meeting where both her and Alicia’s cautionary words could not be heard over the din of fiddles playing.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Minyen said she will continue to attend BOC meetings as a member of the public.
    It will be interesting to see if anyone asks about the bond resolution, documents and premium payment for issuance costs at the meeting next Thursday.

  • Theresa Harrington
  • Just curious

    Dr J. and G… It must be nice to be so perfect that you can spend all of your extra time (assuming you actually do your jobs) criticizing everyone else.