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MDUSD board to discuss budget, school safety, bullying and other issues tonight

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, June 25th, 2012 at 7:01 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

The Mt. Diablo school board meeting tonight is likely to last much longer than the last meeting, which was over in about half-an-hour.

Here are highlights from the first part of the agenda (which is normally not discussed):


Item 4.5: Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint related to six certificated employees (info only):


Item 9.3 Certificated personnel actions: Includes some teachers having workloads reduced, along with temporary teachers being rehired, including two at Oak Grove MS:

Item 9.12 North Coast reps for MDUSD schools does not include CVCHS (since it will be a charter) and lists Steven Brady as the Northgate vp rep:

Brady was appointed as a vp of YVHS, where he worked this year:

It looks like he may be another superintendent “reassignment,” but it’s unclear who he’s replacing:

Item 9.31 authorizes the superintendent to enter into contracts over the summer without board approval:
Interestingly, one attachment has been clearly updated since the agenda was posted, with the original attachment still available for comparison. It looks like the district may be implementing a new policy to make revisions transparent! 🙂

Item 9.33 Disposal of library books from closed schools:

9.36 New board policy and administrative regulation prohibiting use of cell phones:
(The BOC may be interested in this, since it was specifically discussing at its meeting, wondering if such a policy existed.)

9.38 Measure C high school projects lists for MDHS and alternative schools:

9.39 Cost of issuance for Measure C bonds:

Do you think the board should authorize the superintendent to approve contracts without its approval over the summer?


I arrived a bit late, during discussion of items pulled from consent calendar for discussion. They were:

10.1 (item #16): Food and nutrition

10.2 (item #30): Approval of contract with Lincoln Pools

10.3 (item #31): Authorization to award summer contracts
(I arrived during this discussion): passed 5-0

10.4 (item #38): Measure C High School Project Plan: MDHS and alt. ed.
Passed 5-0.

10.5 (item 39): Confirming costs of sale respecting issuance of MDUSD GO bonds, 2010 election, 2012 Series E
Hansen asked about use of bond premium to pay costs of issuance.
Superintendent Lawrence said staff had given the board a thorough analysis of the Poway letter (sent by Attorney General’s office to Poway Dist.) He said it’s a common practice.
Hansen said she pulled this from consent because there continues to be that question.
Eberhart said the board received “extremely definitive assessments of the process we’re using.” He said it’s an important issue and it’s important for the public to know that the district is operating appropriately.
Passed 4-1; Hansen against.

After the meeting, I asked Greg Rolen for a copy of the letter referenced by Lawrence and Eberhart. He said he wasn’t sure he needed to give it to me because it could be attorney-client privilege. I pointed out to him that the district is assuring the public that it’s perfectly fine to use bond premium to pay issuance costs, without actually telling the public the basis for that decision. Furthermore, the board specifically relied on this legal analysis in making its decision to approve the expenditure. I’ll be speaking to our company attorney about this. When the bond counsel spoke to the BOC, she said she and other attorneys didn’t know what the Poway letter meant. If they now have a better understanding of it, the public deserves to know what it is.

10.6 (item #41): Joint use lease agreement between MDUSD and Anova Center for Ed:
Hansen questioned the plan and pointed out that the revenues were minimal.
Lawrence said the district would receive about $84,000-$94,000 in rent, plus would reap solar benefits and Pawar Transportation savings.
Rolen said Anova pays 95-cents a square foot now and the district got them up to $1.50.
Lawrence said Anova approached the district. He said Measure C staff will be on the Holbrook site for 5-6 years, but after that, the district could see if anyone wants to rent the whole site. He also said the district is holding onto the property for when Concord develops the Naval Weapons Station property.
Eberhart said the deal is better for district students and makes better use of the facilities.
“To say that there has been no planning is void of reality,” he said, “so I would encourage people to look at the planning that has been done.”
Hansen asked: “Where is that plan?”
Passed 5-0.

JUNE 26 UPDATE: Here is the link to video of the bond cost of issuance discussion:

Here is my story about the meeting:

Since I didn’t finish the live blog, here is a synopsis of the rest of the meeting (please note that video clips are posted at and will be posted later at


Three people spoke about a composting program at Sequoia Elementary in Pleasant Hill, which they would like to serve as a model for other schools. One said Pleasant Hill Middle School’s Earth Club is “disenfranchised” because the school has resisted composting and sustainability efforts there. It spends more money on waste disposal than any other Pleasant Hill school. Superintendent Steven Lawrence promised to bring this back as an agenda item.

No district communications.

CAC Annual Report: Dorothy Weissenberger delivered the annual report, including references to disproportionality and the FCMAT reports. She said the CAC is very concerned about cuts to special ed and reminded the board of its legal obligation to provide a free and appropriate education. She said the group would hold a planning meeting in August.

Superintendent’s Report: Lawrence invited Jeff Adams of UMDAF to speak. Adams presented the district with a check for $250,000 as a contribution toward athletics.

Lawrence also praised SASS for offering several courses to teachers and said more will be offered in August.

Board unanimously appointed Lisa Caswell as program specialist, categorical programs, to work at Oak Grove MS.

Board unanimously apppointed Ann Tirrell as program specialist, ed tech.

Board unanimously agreed to reinstate database admin. position.

Board unanimously adopted 2012-13 budget, but Mayo said she regretted the reductions to Delta View bus service.

Board unanimously adopted resolution regarding maintenance of fiscal solvency.

Board voted 4-1 to approve school site safety plans. Eberhart opposed, saying there didn’t seem to be any consistency from school to school.

Board unanimously approved items 15.8 through 15.11.

Board voted 3-2 to approve 21012-13 nonpublic school and agency master contract. Mayo and Hansen voted against. Mayo was concerned about abandoning collaborative in contract language. She also mentioned school class size discrepancy.

Board unanimously approved items 15.13 through 15.20.

Board voted 3-2 to authorize superintendent to enter into new administrator contracts over summer without board approval. Eberhart and Hansen voted against, saying they didn’t want to relinquish the board’s authority to approve appointments.

The remaining items were presented for information only. There were no board reports, due to lack of time.

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132 Responses to “MDUSD board to discuss budget, school safety, bullying and other issues tonight”

  1. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Eberhart left pretty quickly after the meeting, so I managed to stop Greg Rolen before he got out the door. That’s when I asked him to provide the document, since — as you point out — the board received it and considered it in its deliberations before voting. So, the public has a right to see it.

    I have since consulted with our attorney and have been advised that the document is not protected by attorney-client privilege since it was distributed to a majority of the board for an open session item and it is not related to litigation. Based on this legal advice, I submitted a PRA to Rolen yesterday and have not heard back.

    It appears that Lawrence and Eberhart want to the public to trust them instead of trusting that the public would come to the same conclusion they have, if the public reads the analysis on which they are basing their assurances.

  2. Doctor J Says:

    Has Eberhart ever “manned up” yet to his deceptions of his employment termination in October 2011 and his failure to disclose until this month ? Sounds like a character issue that carries over to his Board conduct.

  3. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Eberhart has declined to speak on the record about his employment.

  4. Doctor J Says:

    Of course, what is there to speak of ? 🙂

  5. Anon Says:

    Theresa #49
    I love hearing the good news but just curious… did the graduation rate increase, and dropout rate decrease, because we have found better ways to engage students and make school relevant or did we simply lower the graduation requirements. 🙁

  6. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: I have left messages for Superintendent Lawrence and Rose Lock to get their reactions to the numbers. I will ask that question, if one of them returns my call or email.

  7. Doctor J Says:

    With Eberhart involved in the construction business, and being entrusted as a Board member with approving the allocation of hundreds of millions of dollars in MDUSD money from the taxpayers, his sources of income are extremely relevant — yet he refuses to be honest about “who, what, where, how” as to his income. Its just as relevant as Rolen’s alleged personal involvement with a $100,000 MDUSD vendor. One would think they both would want to clear up any concerns of the public.

  8. g Says:

    Perhaps questions to would be answered.

  9. Anon Says:

    Anon #55 and Theresa, I do believe the standards have been lowered. We only require 200 credits to graduate. I believe this has been the case for the last 2 years. I really wish I could believe the news is good but, I have very little faith in the district.
    This is going to sound like a crazy accuseation but they also cheat on testing. I know for a fact that they cheated on my son’s star testing. If they cheated on his I can only imagine how many others they have done the same. Our graduates are less prepared to enter college or the job market then any other surrounding district. Very sad 🙁

  10. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, here is a link to the CAC’s annual report, which includes notes from a meeting with the FCMAT rep at the end:

  11. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#59 If there is cheating on the STAR test and you have knowledge, you should report it to the California Dept of Education. That is a very serious situation.

  12. Doctor J Says:

    Who approved the dumbed down “FCMAT Scope of Study” from the Board approved scope ? Once again, the Board agrees to pay taxpayer money for a “comprehensive operations analysis” and instead someone dumbs it down to “address the necessary balance”. Who agreed to that ? I hope the board refuses to pay just like they shouldn’t have paid when the vendor exceeded his contract without advance approval.

  13. Doctor J Says:

    Read the notes from the FCMAT rep meeting, then ask yourself: If Spec Ed is this dysfunctional in MDUSD, why would Asst Supt Rose Lock nominate Asst Supt Mildred Browne for California Spec Ed Administrator of the Year ? And why would it be awarded to Mildred ?

  14. anon Says:

    Have either Gary or Sherry formally announced their plans to run again? It’s obvious Gary is but Sherry doesn’t seem interested. She runs board meetings in an inpatient and strident manner and seemingly wants to get them over with as soon as possible

    For MDUSD to have any hope of improving its rapidly diminishing reputation, lack of public trust, and dismal academic record, specifically at the high school level, it is imperative that a new majority be elected to the board.

  15. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Neither has formally announced, to my knowledge.

  16. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Anon #64,

    Neither has announced, but a committee stands by to run an anti-Gary/Sherry campaign if either one does stand up. We have a pretty impressive budget also. I think our posters may “outshine” the candidates if we are needed. Hopefully both of them will save the community having to go through a very negative election season though.

  17. Anon Says:

    Dr. J. I did report to the state. Nothing came of it.
    Dealing with the state is not easy if you don’t know your way around.

    The Q & A the cac put up is not helpful at all. Most answers say refer to your IEP team or program specialist. How is this an answer? This is more of the same BS they have already put out.
    I now have that sinking swirling feeling….oh wait that is the District going down the toilet.

    @64 you are right….I just hope the average person has learned their lesson and does not vote for the people the teachers and union have backed. We need people who are not in the districts pocket. Look what happened when everyone got behind the Union and teachers we got EberMarsh.

  18. Anon Says:

    Dr. J. Rolen does not have an “alleged” relationship with a $100k MDUSD vendor. The two are engaged. Do we need a marriage license to show the conflict of interest? I don’t understand why no one out there cares about such unethical behavior.

  19. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It looks like MDUSD has missed out on the latest round of funding for “shovel-ready projects”:

  20. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: Regarding the FCMAT study, the CAC minutes clearly state the scopes were requested by the superintendent. However, the seven items are not clearly identified in the minutes and it’s a bit difficult to try to figure out what they are, since the conversation appears pretty free-flowing.

    Also, there were some positive things said about some programs and Mildred Browne:

    “Programs and sites that are working, and a good example of how to support students with IEPs are: Gregory Gardens, Pleasant Hill Middle, Woodside Elementary, Foothill Middle.

    Parent- Dr. Browne is appreciated, but seems to not get the support she needs to do her job. Other parents agreed with this statement. Specifically mentioned was Dr. Browne’s work to support the mental health collaborative when AB 3632 was destroyed.”

  21. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s my story about grad and dropout rates:

    But, it looks like some of you may have been right to be skeptical of MDUSD’s dramatic gains. I didn’t include them in the story because Rose Lock told me the data may not be accurate. She said the state will let the district make corrections in July, but she hopes it’s a true reflection of what is happening in district schools.

  22. Doctor J Says:

    @#70 If Lawrence dumbed down the FCMAT Scope of study, he either did it rogue or if he got Board approval, it was in violation of the Brown Act as the April 23 scope was very specifically defined in the approval of the agreement. Yes Theresa, some nice things about Mildred were said, but the way she functioned as the “Asst Supt” over such a dysfunctional department shows a lack of leadership and hardly deserving of a “California Administrator of the Year” accolade.

  23. lc Says:

    #46 MDEA STRONGLY supported Eberhart/Whitmarsh the last time.

  24. g Says:

    Yes, Lc. Perhaps that is the answer to #46’s question. MDEA has, it seems, come to regret their decision to back EberMarsh in 2008.

    What better message could they send than a very early announcement of who they will back this time around.

  25. Theresa Harrington Says:

    lc: You are correct that MDEA was a driving force — with lots of money — behind the election of Eberhart and Whitmarsh and the defeat of April Treece. At that time, Linda Mayo was part of the “board majority” that Eberhart was railing against. Now, he and Mayo seem to be working amicably together.
    Although MDEA reached out to Eberhart and Whitmarsh to see if they wanted to participate in their endorsement interviews, Langley said there was no response.

  26. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Please note that I have uploaded several video clips from the June 25 meeting to my YouTube/tunedtotheresa account, including one about transportation changes labeled “Pawar Transportation Increase.”

  27. lc Says:

    Anyone go to Meet and Greets for new principals?

  28. g Says:

    Theresa @53. Isn’t it strange that Gary doesn’t wish to “speak on the record” about his employment?

    His most recent DBA, filed with the County on 11/15/11 shows him off so well.

    Of course just about everything he says on his new website is just about as true as his picture—what is that…about 20 years old?

  29. Doctor J Says:

    @G#53 Gary’s “employment” is “on the record” by his own doing. Missing from that link are several pages that were there last week, notably the “team” of his wife, brother, and father-in-law. They sure jumped ship quickly after G outed them. Did he remove reference to his employment that abruptly ended in October 2011 ?

  30. Jim Says:

    My favorite part of Gary’s website is the “Core Values” page, listing “Honesty, Respect, Diligence, and Preparedness”.

    What a hoot! Could anyone possibly be less self-aware?

  31. g Says:

    I wonder if Cadence McShane Construction would object to Eberhart using a picture of Patterson Elementary School in Houston (which they built) apparently trying to make it look like he had some connection with building it.

    Lets face it. That’s a beautiful school; built to last for generations. Under Gary’s and Pedersen’s guidance, MDUSD spends many millions every few years or so to put up what can, at best, be described as “trailers with desks” on concrete pads; designed to be replaced every 20 years or so.

  32. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: I have not spoken to Eberhart about his employment recently. However, if he intends to seek re-election, he would be expected to be open and honest about what he does for a living. I note in the site that you linked to, he lists the solar training he received at UC Berkeley at Mt. Diablo taxpayers’ expense quite high in his introductory remarks.

  33. Anonymous Says:

    g: How did you make the connection to Patterson Elementary School? I had to google image Patterson Elem. to see that yes, that is the Texas school, and does make me curious – why *is* it on G.E.’s business page? Perhaps he was a consultant in some fashion on it.

  34. g Says:

    Yes, Theresa, it seems that his main message is to help sell solar, and lead school districts in maneuvering taxpayers into paying for systems that will be useless/redundant before they ever pay for themselves in energy savings. Just like the ‘pig in a poke’ he sold this district!

    I tried to find a link to the excellent story that Matt Kuprick and you did in August of 2010 about that solar class reimbursement, but it didn’t come up in archives. I thought this was a good time of year to revisit that issue.

    I wonder if he has given the books to the district yet?

  35. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: I’m not in the office today, but I can look that up in our archives. Eberhart had posted his email exchange with Krupnick on his blog, but he has since taken that down. In it, he said the class was a legitimate district expense, since he was developing expertise for oversight of the district’s solar project.

  36. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Wow, the Oakland school board reversed cuts to special ed after members of the public complained they had not been involved in the decision:

    That’s responsive government.

  37. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#86 Responsive government or legitimate threat of recall ?

  38. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The interesting thing is that the district is accepting accountability for failing to adequately inform and involve the special education community and staff:

    The district spokesman admitted that communication about this important decision was lacking — both internally and with the public.
    “In a real-world context,” he said, “I think we failed here.”

    It’s refreshing to see the district accept accountability, instead of trying to defend its actions or blame someone else.

  39. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#88 Which “districts” are you referring to ?

  40. g Says:

    Dr J: I’m pretty sure from ‘It’s-to the comma’ is Oakland, and from ‘instead-to the period’ is MDUSD! Sad isn’t it?

  41. g Says:

    Anonymous @83: Sorry, I almost missed your post. Google has an “image identifier”. It doesn’t always give what you’re looking for, but is pretty good.

    Look under Google “more” and then “even more”.

    You right click the image you want to check, copy the “image URL”, then on Google image, (click on the camera icon) it brings up address bar with another camera to click on, which gives the place to enter the URL for the image–voila! It gives you close, similar or exact image-if it has been published on the net previously!

    Love my Google!

  42. District Teacher Says:

    Just out of curiosity, it seems no probationary or temporary teachers remain at MDSH next year. Were they all replaced? Or are they all fired or will they work elsewhere? And what responsibility does the principal of MDHS have for any of this or for any other debacle at her school? Is anyone overseeing any of this? Who is McClatchy’s supervisor? If that person is the superintendent, all the better – or worse.

  43. Doctor J Says:

    @#92 McClatchy’s supervisor is Steven Lawrence, the Supt. Neither Rose Lock nor her underlings have much to say about secondary principals.

  44. District Teacher Says:

    I should add that my previous post was based on the June 25th minutes. Many temporary teachers were rehired from several other schools, but none were listed for MDHS. Considering the high teacher (and administrator) turnover at that school, I found the absence of temporary teacher renewals rather odd.

    Given McClatchy’s history of sacking anyone who dares to disagree with or challenge her in any way (note the parade of VPs at both district schools she’s “led”), and the no-confidence vote held this year, I have to wonder if the temporary teachers were used as scapegoats. Perhaps someone else can explain what happened.

  45. anonymous 5 Says:

    Apparently some teachers (permanent, probationary, temporary) were/are better at kowtowing to the MDHS principal. They got/get what they want while others who have more integrity and question her decisions are targets.

  46. Theresa Harrington Says:

    WCCUSD is considering putting a parcel tax or another bond measure on the November ballot:

  47. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a blog post that shows what MDUSD projected for property tax growth versus what is actually happening:

  48. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a look at how the Oakland USD Supt. is doing after three years:
    His board has extended his contract to 2015.

  49. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a column by Tom Barnidge about County Superintendent Joe Ovick’s “civility” initiative, which the MDUSD board adopted on its consent calendar with no discussion:

  50. Doctor J Says:

    State again recommends denial of MDUSD waiver petition to reduce costs of CVCHS: “Application of current law results in a gain or loss of funding for any unified school district, which is the sponsor of a conversion charter school (whether it be a county office approving a charter school is the authorizer or a; the district that initially denied the charter school is the sponsor). The loss (or gain) in school district apportionment as a result of this law is not an unintended consequence.

    “A petition for a charter school cannot be denied due to the fiscal impact on a school district.

    “Mt. Diablo is one of 14 districts that lose have lost funds due to the approval of a conversion charter school; the statewide adverse fiscal impact for these districts is $8.4 million. (Thirteen districts actually gained state funds as a result of the conversion charter school.)

    Accordingly, CDE is recommending denial of this waiver request because legislation is the appropriate remedy, whether retroactive or prospective, for the following reasons: 1) current law contemplated a negative fiscal consequence;, 2) to approve the request is tantamount to the SBE making an appropriation of Proposition 98 funds, which would either increase the Proposition 98 guarantee in the current and future years, or more likely to result in less funding for other local educational agencies,; 3) approval would also create a precedent, wherein 13 other districts would likely immediately be requesting a similar waiver at a statewide cost of about $6.7 million;, 4) all future adversely impacted unified school districts, due to conversion charter schools, would apply for a waiver;, 5) it is conceivable that other apportionment matters may be brought before the SBE unless specifically exempted from the waiver process;, and 6) under the constitution, only the Legislature may make an apportionment, thus the approval of this waiver, or future similar waivers, may subject the SBE to litigation.”

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