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MDUSD implements transportation changes without first allowing public to see report on which they are based

By Theresa Harrington
Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 at 11:48 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Quite by accident, I have obtained a draft report that includes much sought-after information about Mt. Diablo district plans to drastically change student transportation services in the next school year.

In April, the district asked the independent Fiscal Crisis and Management Team, called FCMAT, to evaluate its transportation programs and recommend cost-cutting measures or other changes that could improve operations. Many special education parents have been anxiously awaiting the results because they know their children could be affected.

District officials alluded to the report’s findings and recommendations in a June 20 letter to parents outlining upcoming changes. In addition, special education Administrator Carolyn Patton outlined them in a June 25 oral report to trustees.

But the written findings and recommendations were not presented to the board or released it to the public. So, I requested a copy of them, along with a copy of the letter to parents, which Patton referenced at the June 25 meeting.

In an e-mail to Superintendent Steven Lawrence, I wrote that it was my understanding the board had received both documents.

He sent me the following e-mail response on July 19: “That’s interesting because I have not received a draft or final report from FCMAT. I will have to check with board members to determine where the reports they have received came from because to my knowledge no one at the district has received copies of the draft or final reports.”

I learned Tuesday that this was not true, when Lawrence sent this email message, with an attachment: “I needed to check with Carolyn and I believe this is the letter you are referring to. It is a (sic) exit letter of the FCMAT audit.”

But the attachment was not a letter. It was the draft transportation report, which Lawrence previously claimed he didn’t have.

It was dated July 18 — the day before Lawrence sent the email saying he didn’t have the report and that no one else did either.


Lawrence had inadvertently let the cat out of the bag. He had also provided proof that his previous assertion about not having the report was false.

I posted a link to the document on my blog, along with a copy of the June 20 letter sent by the district to parents, which I received from a reader.

In another email today, Lawrence admitted he sent me the report in error.

“I made a mistake,” he wrote. “ That is our draft report and has not been shared with the board or any member of the public. Because people have been on vacation we are still vetting the draft to get corrections back to FCMAT. As part of the FCMAT process they always check findings with a school district before the report is finalized. Therefore, there could be errors in the current document. I know that I cannot mandate that you do or don’t do anything with the report, but our goal is to share the actual final report with the board at the Aug. 13 meeting. At that point, the final report would be a public document and you could share any parts of it that you felt appropriate. Attached is the letter that we received at the end of the (FCMAT) visit.”

Here is a link to the letter — dated June 5 — which outlines the transportation issues FCMAT planned to evaluate and includes preliminary findings and recommendations:

Recommendations include revamping staffing, curbing door-to-door service and cutting back on student transportation provided by private vendors.

It appears that the letter sent to parents was based on the preliminary findings in the June 5 FCMAT letter, which the public never got a chance to see. Likewise, the draft report — which Lawrence appears to have initially attempted to conceal — would not have been made public if he had not accidentally sent it to me.

The district’s lack of transparency is causing frustration among parents, who want to know why it is making changes to their children’s transportation plans. They deserved to have been given the opportunity to weigh in on the findings and recommendations BEFORE the district decided to implement them.

Instead, parents are being told now that the changes are a virtually a done deal and they’ll get to see why when the board reviews the final report Aug. 13.

Do you think the district should have invited public input on the recommendations before implementing them?

JULY 28 UPDATE: I sent Superintendent Steven Lawrence an email Wednesday, which included the following statement and question:

“…the report you mistakenly sent me was dated the day before you sent that email. Also Bill (Gillaspie) confirmed that FCMAT sent you the report in a July 18 email. Therefore, you had in fact received a draft report from FCMAT when you stated that you had not and when you stated that to your knowledge no one at the district had received it. Why did you make those false statements?”

Here is Lawrence’s response, which he sent in a Thursday email:

“I responded prior to receiving anything from FCMAT.”

In order to verify that FCMAT had sent Lawrence the document the day before he denied having it, I asked Gillaspie for a copy of the email sent by FCMAT.

Here is the copy Gillaspie sent:

“From: Leonel Martinez
Sent: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 1:44 PM
Cc: Bill Gillaspie
Subject: FCMAT draft report

Steven Lawrence, Ph.D., Superintendent

Mt. Diablo Unified School District
1936 Carlotta Drive
Concord, CA 94519

Dear Superintendent Lawrence:

Attached is a digital copy of the draft transportation report developed by the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) for the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Please review this draft document and contact us with any corrections or suggested changes. After we receive this information, we will proceed to finalize the report.


Leonel Martinez
FCMAT Technical Writer
(661) 636-4387

G: William P. Gillaspie, Ed.D., FCMAT Administrative Officer”

The above email shows that the draft report was sent to Lawrence at 1:44 p.m. July 18 — the day BEFORE he claimed he did not have it and said that no one else at the district did either.

The email included the same draft report attachment that Lawrence accidentally sent to me. Although some blog commenters have questioned the fact that the font with the July 18 date on the cover and cover letter is different from the rest of the document, the pdf from FCMAT includes the same dates. So, it appears that is the way the district received the report.

Now that Lawrence’s veracity has been called into question regarding the FCMAT report, I have requested copies of all emails and correspondence between the district and FCMAT from April to the present.

JULY 29 UPDATE: I have received an email from CAC Chairperson Lorrie Davis, who has informed me that the CAC executive board met with some district staff members to discuss the June 20 letter that would be sent to parents. Davis also said the district shared the June 5 FCMAT letter with the committee.

Here’s what Davis wrote today in an email:

“In regards to special ed. transportation, the CAC executive committee met with Mildred Browne, Greg Rolen and Carolyn Patton before the letter was sent out to parents explaining the new procedures. I appreciated them discussing the new procedures with us and listening to our concerns. In regards to ‘clustering’ our non-severe students, our biggest concerns are supervision and congestion at school sites. Parents I have spoken with have stated they are willing to cluster if it helps to save money and services provided for their children at school. We were amazed at how much money is being paid to parents for mileage reimbursement and agree that this practice needs to be controlled.”

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135 Responses to “MDUSD implements transportation changes without first allowing public to see report on which they are based”

  1. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Everyone should remember that Gary and Sherry are just as dishonest as Lawrence is ( it is laughable how much some have defended their “honesty” over the years. Strangely two nice women have been completely duped (Mayo and Dennler). Only one board member truly cares about doing what is right (Hansen). I’m sure there is more interesting news to come.

  2. Anon Says:

    Yes they should have. I do understand the need for some cut backs but the Board and parents should be made aware of this and given the opportunity to talk. It is not just transportation, they are changing where kids go to school. They (the district really did not outline the schools and the programs offered at each one. Noone has any idea what they are doing for sure.

    Just wait until the report on Special Ed comes out. Bet they cut at least 1/2 the department and the law suits will begin.

  3. g Says:

    Yes, they should have provided a letter explaining that they were looking into a total revamping of SpecEd placements and all transportation. Then they should have provided a show-and-tell presentation geared to all–not just SpecEd, outlining anticipated changes.

    They should have prepared parents that the district has been FAR too generous (and lazy) about placement and transportation.

    I wrote over a year ago about the outrageous amounts being paid to parents to drive their kids to school-of-choice; and the number of kids being driven or bused home to school, while many children who didn’t have good advocacy under NCLB had to walk farther than the district’s own regulations state, and to far lower achieving schools, at that.

    Many will buck up against the changes, but some changes are very necessary. Central pick-up and drop-off points is an excellent plan—it has worked across this country for a century.

    Special disability cases will still be taken care of, but the parents who misuse/abuse the system, in many cases simply to avoid their own inconvenience, are going to have to start taking more personal responsibility for their children.

  4. Anon Says:

    I agree 100% with you G.

  5. Doctor J Says:

    FCMAT-GATE. Who knew what and when did they know it ?
    Preliminary Timeline:
    4/19/12 FCMAT Study Agreement–outlines scope of work agreed to and cost to District.
    5/21,22,23/12 FCMAT Study Team Observes MDUSD
    5/23/12 FCMAT exit conference in Lawrence’s office. Lawrence, Rolen, and others present.
    5/29/12 Special Ed – Transportation Meeting — Patton spills beans on FCMAT report to public and parents: Lawrence & Rolen present: “stick to PowerPoint”
    6/5/12 FCMAT letter to Lawrence confirming exit meeting and “principal initial findings and preliminary recommendations” — 12 areas of comprehensive evaluation outlined. 4 page letter.
    6/19/12 Lawrence denies in email to Theresa receiving “I have not received a draft or final report from FCMAT.”
    6/20/12 Letter to Parents signed by Browne and Rolen re changes in Special Ed Transportation [may not have been sent on this date, but this date was on letter received by parents]
    6/25/12 Patton gives Board report and affirms that District received “preliminary findings”.
    6/26/12 Patton finally posts on CAC blog “answers” to questions from May 29 meeting.
    6/27/12 Patton sends email to all Principal and co-administrators and Lawrence and Rolen with copy of June 20 letter to be sent out in “two days” to all parents.
    7/18/12 Lawrence receives “FCMAT Draft Report”.
    7/24/12 Lawrence mistakenly sends Theresa July 18 Draft report instead of the June 5 exit letter. Theresa posts July 18 Draft report on Times Blog.
    7/25/12 Lawrence realizes “mistake” and sends June 5 exit letter with explanation that draft report could be modified.

    Once again, I URGE Theresa and the Times to get all of the emails back and forth from FCMAT — having been lied to multiple times, MDUSD cannot be trusted to tell the truth.

  6. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    I also URGE Theresa to get all the emails. The outcome will likely shock us all and may finally be the impetus for righting the sinking MDUSD ship.

  7. g Says:

    Cutting back on transportation? Transparency?
    Failure of oversight at every level?

    On 4/5/11 Goakey received the “quote per unit” for CNG buses from “A-Z BUS SALES.”

    On 4/27/11 She applied for the BAAQMD Grant asking for $2.2 Million-enough for 13 buses.

    On 5/10/11 The board approved that grant application to BAAQCD.

    On 7/29/11 Lawrence acknowledges “receiving” grant of $1.7 MILLION for 10 new CNG buses.

    On 12/13/11 Goakey/McDaniel goes to board for OK to buy the 10 CNG buses with money the District had received at least 5 months earlier.

    May 2012, FCMAT states: District “recently” applied for grants for new CNG buses–but they only count 14 CNG buses; the SAME as we had in 2004!

    It has been a year since the Grant money was received, but apparently as of the end of MAY the buses STILL had not been purchased.

    Dent is cutting back on student transportation services; BUT-

    Was that $1.7 million part of the Districts “miraculous” $40 Million in Reserves? Did it help pay bonuses and raises for the dirty dozen?

  8. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:


    You’re getting warm. Keep following the money.

  9. Doctor J Says:

    How long ago did Rolen promise an “inventory” of the buses ?

  10. g Says:

    Board Watcher: I’m still trying to figure out the true reason that Anova would want to open an annex in Concord. Estimates are for only 10-15 pupils (that they already have)–high rent/maintenance (that they don’t really need)–and they have to recruit for at least one new teacher for this location (added expense).

    I understand the District’s desire to earn some rent, save some limo fees for transportation, and prove something for Holbrook area families.

    But I’m sure there is sticky-goo of some sort running from Anova to Rolen somewhere in this deal. We’ll know if it’s sticky-money when we see the next tuition reports.

  11. Jim Says:

    Time for a shoutout for the First Amendment, and Theresa and the CC Times, specifically. Without this local paper, reporter, and blog, how much of this info would ever see the light of day?

    The Dent Center people act as if they received all of their training in Moscow or Beijing, circa 1972. Why do they default so quickly to misinformation, stonewalling, obfuscation, and downright lying in so much of their communication? Why such contempt for our community, our students, and the teachers and staff who are trying to help?

    I hope the citizenry takes notice. Education is too important to leave in the hands of this crowd.

  12. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:


    They default to lies, stonewalling, etc. because they are “probably” hiding something really big.

  13. vindex Says:

    Greg Rolen is in charge of transportation. This is yet another evidence of mismanagement. He should be fired.

  14. Anon Says:

    Vindex now that our lopsided board extended his contract another year (current contract
    Not up until next June) we are stuck with him for 2 more school years. I would assume that if he were fired we the people would have to pay him a ton of money .

  15. g Says:

    Not if he gets fired for criminal activity!

  16. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, have you ever received copies of the BIG5 “revised” contracts or formal “extensions” as you requested about a month ago ? Is this another PRA request being ignored ?

  17. Doctor J Says:

    @Vindex, Ask WHY Rolen was put in charge of Transportation and Maintenance in Nov 17 2009 Board Meeting ? A $27,000 raise ? Because he could control Special Ed transportation from which he personally benefits ? So when Pete retired, Gary could remain in “control” of construction issues in the district ? Hmmm. Time has uncovered lots of reasons. Are there more to come ? Follow the money.

  18. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    I predict this scandal is about to bust wide open.

  19. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Anyone hear from Paul Strange lately?

  20. g Says:

    I hear Christine Huajardo has been replaced at Riverview. Did I miss something?

  21. Doctor J Says:

    Lawrence & team are still searching for Elementary Principals with just a few weeks before school starts, and even less before the “mandatory training’ sessions start.

  22. g Says:

    Good Grief, they’ve already replaced seven or eight Elementary Principals. Plus another seven or eight HS and MS principals and vice principals. Why such a big shake-up again this year?

    We need those SARC reports.

  23. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Please note that I have added a July 28 update to this blog post, which includes a subsequent claim by Lawrence that he didn’t have the FCMAT report when he sent me the July 19 email, followed by a copy of the July 18 email sent to him by FCMAT.

  24. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: Yes, Huajardo has taken a job in the San Ramon school district. Here is an update on the SRVUSD website that lists new principal assignments:

    It continues to be unclear why MDUSD appears to be so reluctant to post similar messages letting people in this district know about administrative appointments.

  25. g Says:

    Thanks Theresa. Then there’s Lorie O’Brien. From Principal, to SASS, to Assistant Director, to Gone—What’s up with her? Was she bitten by the Scapegoat bug?

  26. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: I was unaware that she had left. She is still listed on the district’s website:

    Perhaps this is why the district isn’t posting any information about reassignments — they are still so much in flux. SRVUSD, on the other hand, posted its new assignments June 27.

  27. g Says:

    Theresa; ‘flux’ is a polite way of putting it. We all know the ramshackle methods the district uses to keep the website up-to-date. Why can’t “search” bring items up by date? What we needed was a new person to help Danny out with that–what did we need a new-hire TIS person for?

    What we seem to have gotten instead of loyalty to current staff, or much, if any, input from parents, is at least five or more Elementary Principals coming in from outside the District. Were Pleasant Hill Elementary parents asked for recommendations before they replaced Jenny Voris?

    Were all of those new positions put before the board? I only recall one or two–.

    Were some transfers and outside hires done before the person leaving knew what hit them? Very possibly. Certainly it doesn’t give the appearance that all the new faces are due to attrition.

    It’s hard to tell why some moves were done.

    Was it because of a Mount shake-up or Sun Terrace shake-up. They moved Jacobs away from kids (after well publicized complaints), but it appears that maybe they anticipated that she might be unqualified for such a promotion, so they created that new position of “coordinator” to help her (or just to spend the money on something besides the kids). They moved Terri Porter up and put her into that newly created position (to help Jacobs, or because they just wanted to give her a raise)? It seems to me that the “use it or lose it attitude” was a pretty poor excuse. Why didn’t they just give Lorie and A4A the funds to increase kid’s programming instead of creating an excuse for increasing her pay?

    It’s my understanding that Lorie is being replaced by Marie Schirmer, which opened up a position for Cismowski at Cambridge.

    Did Lorie and Leanne just jump ship at Mount– Was it just coincidental? Maybe….

  28. g Says:

    Theresa, I had a look back at records. I had forgotten that Lorie’s promotion (whenever that happened) left an open position at SASS. So maybe Lorie is still there-taking the heat for others.

  29. Doctor J Says:

    G, I believe O’Brien took her duties in Categoricals for SASS in August 2011. The real question is why her SASS position was left vacant all year — especially when SASS seemed to have numerous issues of lack of supervision and coaching of Principals resulting in a myriad of issues. I now count six new principals “hired” from outside of the district — this would seem to suggest that either the district is not promoting within, MDUSD candidates don’t want to apply, or there are large numbers of candidates from outside willing to work for less money, harsher conditions, or are desperate. I have heard names for Riverview, Pleasant Hill and Woodside but they are all from outside the district. Have the parents in these schools been notified yet ? These principals are scheduled to start in 9 days.

  30. Doctor J Says:

    How can we tolerate a Superintendent who lies ? Lawrence caught in a big FAT LIE — he received the FCMAT report on July 18 at 1:44 pm and on July 19 responded to Theresa: “I responded prior to receiving anything from FCMAT.” Anyone who knows him, knows how attached to his email he is with his handheld. He gets his emails 24/7. How can we tolerate a Superintendent who lies ? Why is Eberhart not demanding the resignation of Lawrence ? Or does Eberhart tolerate lying too ?

  31. g Says:

    Are you talking about the “don’t put anything in an email; it can be subpoenaed” Eberhart? Funny!

    I wasn’t so surprised to hear Mrs. Batesole was leaving Woodside, but was surprised she was replaced by an “outside hire” too. I would think there would be a line out the door of “local” requests for transfer to Woodside.

  32. anonadad Says:

    @Doctor J #30 and G says #27: why would principals be leaving in droves? As Dr J put it, this superintendent tells big fat lies and principals aren’t stupid; and remember, principals don’t belong to a union-their only recourse is to leave, and that’s why so many have left within the last two years. If the CEO of my company was a big fat liar, I’d leave too. With all the newcomers being assigned as principals, it will be curious to see how long they can work in a district whose superintendent is a big fat liar whose cronies (eberhart, whitmarsh, and rolen)run this district based on unethical decisions. I also have a suspicion that the huge exodus of principals is because they spoke up regarding their disapproval of these unethical decisions that led to dysfunction at their sites and were advised to not voice their opinions.

  33. anon Says:

    Has Gretchen Jacobs been placed anywhere yet? I have lost track of what is happening with her.

  34. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, Gretchen Jacobs is the new after-school program administrator. The board approved a new job description that boosted the salary for the position, then Lawrence reasssigned her. Lawrence has the authority to reassign administrators without board approval, if the new assignment is not a promotion.

    I will try to do a blog post later today that outlines new administrative assignments that have been announced or confirmed by the district. Unfortunately, the district did not publicly announce reassignments at its June 25 board meeting and it has not posted them on its website. Instead, it is announcing administrative assignments to the individual school communities affected. I have told Board President Sherry Whitmarsh that the entire community is interested in administrative assignments and have urged the district to let the entire community know, instead of just the individual school communities. She said the district will try to do this by Aug. 1.

  35. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Back to the subject of the FCMAT reports, I asked Trustee Cheryl Hansen in an email if she was aware of the draft FCMAT report.

    Here is her emailed response, which she sent today (Sunday):

    “The first I even knew that there was a draft FCMAT report for special education transportation was when I read it on your blog. As of this date, the superintendent still has not informed me that any FCMAT report has been sent to him or even exists. I can only conclude that the June 22 (actually June 20) letter to parents regarding transportation changes must have been based prematurely on the preliminary findings dated June 5.

    This brings to mind another gap in communication with another FCMAT report last October 25th during the charter school debate. At Board meeting that night, a public official urged that a FCMAT study be done. The superintendent never mentioned during or after that meeting that it was already in the works. On November 8, just a few hours before the Board meeting, the superintendent emailed me a final FCMAT report which revealed that he had ordered the report prior to the October 25th Board meeting.

    Here’s how I see it:

    Too often reports such as the FCMAT or Shreder school closure reports are frequently nothing more than props to justify or validate a predetermined action or outcome. Seldom or ever are these reports even discussed nor are they meaningfully disseminated to the public or even used to develop a coherent plan.

    There are other times when assertions are made, such as extremely definitive assessments’ or ‘thorough analysis’ (of the Poway letter to justify paying the cost of bond issuance with bond premium), that are never supported by any documentation. Just saying it doesn’t make it so.

    Neither strategy – using unstudied reports or making empty assertions – serves the public’s best interest and only creates public distrust.


    I would like to add that the superintendent similarly held a Bay Point Master Plan meeting without posting a public notice on the district’s website. Although the Powerpoint stated that the presentation included the superintendent’s “thoughts,” he has never responded to my request asking him what thoughts he shared at that meeting.

  36. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In looking more closely at the June 20 letter to parents, I see that it includes some information that is not included either in FCMAT’s June 5 letter or its draft report, yet it is attributed to the FCMAT study.

    For example, when referencing the district’s high number of parents reimbursed for transportation, the June 20 letter states:

    “One similarly sized district has only two parents who are paid in lieu while we reimburse 144 parents. In response to the FCMAT findings and recommendations, the district is modifying special education transportation services as follows…”

    Where did these statistics come from? Parents deserve to see all of the backup information cited in the June 20 letter.

    Also, although the June 20 letter attributes the “cluster” idea to the FCMAT report, the FCMAT report itself says “The district has received an analysis from a third party expert in special education law…..As a result, Mt. Diablo Unified is working towards clustering…”

    This appears to imply that it was not FCMAT’s idea to cluster, but that the clustering idea came from some unnamed third party expert. The public deserves to know who this expert is and where this recommendation came from.

    The FCMAT report also says: “Any changes in service level and practices should be clearly communicated to all parents in advance.”

    Instead, the June 20 letter to parents appears to spring changes on them. It says parent reimbursements will be changed “effective immediately” and home school transportation changes will be implemented “beginning Aug. 26.” Of the three major changes listed, the district is only giving parents significant advance notice of the clustering, which will start Jan. 7.

    Even more surprisingly, the June 20 letter states: “To help with the transition and answer your questions the district will be offering the following:
    – Parent informational meetings in September (dates and locations TBA)
    – Website with information regarding transportation changes and frequently asked questions
    – An email address available for sending specific questions regarding transportation.”

    Yet, there is no website or email address listed and the September meetings will be held after school starts. This does not appear to comply with FCMAT’s recommendation that changes be communicated clearly in advance.

    In contrast, parents are being told now that changes will take place nearly immediately and that more information will be available after school starts.

    The June 20 letter also does not inform parents that the board will review the FCMAT report Aug. 13. Parents should have been invited to attend the Aug. 13 meeting and invited to comment on the report.

    The letter appears to be worded in a way that suggests that the FCMAT report has already been completed, reviewed and approved by the board.

  37. Doctor J Says:

    Since it appears the “third party expert” analysis was shared with the FCMAT personnel, lets ask FCMAT for a copy of it. That way Theresa you won’t have to deal with Rolen’s bulls**t claiming some kind of attorney privilege.

  38. Doctor J Says:

    I believe the May CBE meeting video shows Lawrence checking his emails on his handheld. I wonder if the July did too ?

  39. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have already asked for all correspondence between FCMAT and the district, but I will specifically ask if FCMAT has that analysis.

    The FCMAT report also states: “That same expert has developed a checklist that can be used in IEP meetings to help appropriately direct the provision of service.”

    FCMAT then recommends that the district use the checklist.

  40. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In cleaning out some old files, I found the PowerPoint that Superintendent Steven Lawrence presented when he visited school communities after he was first hired.

    It began, “I believe in….
    – Providing our students with a quality education through a focus on academic excellence
    – Attracting and retaining quality faculty and staff
    – Ensuring safe and well-maintained school sites
    – Supporting our communities and united our district
    – Recognizing and acknowledging areas of strength
    – Recognizing and acknowledging areas for growth and focus
    – Taking action and working together, knowing that educating our children is our top priority and our common goal…”

    Do you think he has demonstrated his commitment to these beliefs during his tenure in this district?

  41. g Says:

    How deeply did this secret “third party” look into Special Education? What did they recomment?”

    Regarding the IEP “checklist”–this is an interesting article from CTA in which it states, “… a special education teacher, she warns CTA members to be extremely wary if their district calls in a consultant to evaluate special education services. :

    Maybe we need to ask Lawrence if he, or anyone in the district has had any more recent contracts with School Innovations and Advocacy than we know about.

    Take time to read the minutes from Martinez USD March 12 meeting.

  42. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Please note that I have added a July 29 update to this blog post, with information from CAC Chairwoman Lorrie Davis about a meeting the executive committee held with some district staff members before the June 20 letter to parents was finalized.

  43. g Says:

    Sorry. Here’s the MUSD link:

  44. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: Obviously, the public deserves to see the third party analysis, since the district is basing its decision to cluster students on it.

    The third party analysis is mentioned in the last paragraph of page 22 of the FCMAT draft report. It does not actually spell out what the analysis recommended. Instead, it merely states, “As a result, MDUSD is working towards clustering…” FCMAT’s failure to name the third party and to list its recommendations is a huge omission.

  45. anonadad Says:

    @Theresa #40: “providing our students…” Lawrence has dummied down graduation requirements and CVHS has become a charter due to its lack of trust under this superintendent….”attracting and retaining quality faculty and staff…”over a 25% of principals, vice principals, and student service administrators under this superintendent…”ensuring safe and well-maintained school sites”…take a look at your child’s campus-my children’s schools look trashy with overgrown weeds, trash up against the chain link fences, and graffiti….”supporting our communities….”the public is purposefully left out of the loop of decisions made by the board and this superintendent…..”recognizing and acknowledging areas of strength” hasn’t happened and that’s why employees from all positions are leaving….”recognizing …areas of growth and focus”…principal at Mt. Diablo High still employed despite teachers’ vote of ‘no confidence’, Jacobs reassigned to a higher paying position….:”taking action and working together”….school closure commitee’s recommendations ignored, public input ignored, teachers’ input ignored, principals’ input ignored, parents’ input ignored…No, Steven Lawrence HAS NOT demonstrated his commitment to these beliefs during his tenure in MDSUD; consequently, DON’T vote for Eberhart, Whitmarsh, or Lawrence (Lawrence is a crony of eberhart, rolen, and paul strange)this November; JUST VOTE FOR LANLEY and no one else

  46. anonadad Says:

    should read: “attracting and retaining quality faculty and staff” over 25% of principals….have left under this superintendent.

  47. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    TH #36

    Clipped this from you post above …

    Also, although the June 20 letter attributes the “cluster” idea to the FCMAT report, the FCMAT report itself says “The district has received an analysis from a third party expert in special education law…..As a result, Mt. Diablo Unified is working towards clustering…”

    A third part expert in special education LAW … Hmmm.

    Special Education, transportation and law – who has all that in common?

  48. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anonadad: Who is Lanley? As far as I know, no one named Lanley is running. Are you referring to the former MDEA President Mike Langley? He is not running, as far as I know.

    HFO: Are you referring to the district’s bond counsel? It would be ironic if this was the second “analysis” the district has received that it has not shared with the public (the first being the Poway analysis). I don’t recall seeing any contract approved by the board for an analysis of transportation, aside from the FCMAT study.

  49. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Please note that I have added a new blog post that outlines MDUSD administrative appointments so far:

  50. g Says:

    Theresa @ 36: I have a hard time believing Patton gets paid enough to lie on purpose. But I do believe she has learned to follow a “script” that she is told to read–true or not.

    Quoting from your CAC meeting report of May 30: “Patton talks about transportation and says she anticipates there will be “impacts” based on recommendations made after a FCMAT study on transportation and special education is completed”

    If there is a “third party expert in education law” advising the district–surely this is one that cannot be hidden behind Attorney/Client privilege!

    I’m hoping the district did not pay, again, for a new study!

    In August 2009 the District paid $100,000.00 to MGT of America to do a study of “Special Education and 504 Programs. The report was presented in Mar, 2010. On the surface, at a quick glance, it looks OK. But dig in. Over two years ago they recommended major cuts to the department and a close review of transportation issues and were not complimentary to district oversight of the department. Pages 2-13,14,15 are especially frank.

    Did the district take any of the advice given two years ago?

  51. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: I am not saying that Patton lied, I’m just pointing out that the information about the “similarly sized district” mentioned in the June 20 letter to parents does not appear in the June 5 FCMAT letter or the draft report. It’s possible Patton learned about that from a conversation with FCMAT reps, but it’s unclear why it wasn’t included in the letter or report.
    I have already heard from one parent who wants to know which districts FCMAT is comparing MDUSD to. The public deserves this information.

    Regarding MGT, the district rejected its recommendations because it was comparing MDUSD to districts outside of California. In hindsight, the district decided that MGT’s analysis was not valid, since MGT was also from outside California. That is partially why MDUSD decided to hire FCMAT for its most recent analysis — because it is familiar with California special education laws and practices.

    However, it seems like someone should have looked at MGT’s previous work and determined that it might not apply to MDUSD — before they spent $100,000 on a report they would end up ignoring.

  52. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dan Borenstein just tweeted this: “Seems Mt. Diablo Sup’t Steve Lawrence misled (lied to?) ed reporter @tunedtotheresa Harrington. He should explain why.”

    I have asked Lawrence to explain and am still waiting for a response.

  53. g Says:

    Did they ignore the MGT report–or just not like the criticism?

    The district can, and always does say what suits its CYA agenda, but the MGT report was presented by their Sacramento office, and states:

    “MGT and the district jointly selected several California school districts to compare with MDUSD. Peers were selected based on student enrollment, student achievement, and student‐to‐staff ratios. The California school districts selected for this proposal are:

    West Contra Costa Unified
    Clovis Unified
    Moreno Valley Unified
    Elk Grove Unified
    Folsom-Cordova Unified
    Stockton City Unified

  54. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, what time was your email from Lawrence on the morning of July 19 ?

  55. Theresa Harrington Says:

    8:19 AM

  56. Doctor J Says:

    @G They used “Elk Grove Unified”: the irony is huge — 2010 home of Bill Morones and Dr. Christopher Nugent.

  57. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: That is far more transparent than FCMAT, which cites unnamed districts in its comparisons.

    I don’t know why MDUSD decided the comparisons you cite did not apply to it.

  58. Doctor J Says:

    What would FCMAT’s reaction be to a competing report ? Were they ever given a copy of the prior report ? Is this just report shopping ? Expensive shopping by the Board in 2010.

  59. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have just spoken to Bill Gillaspie from FCMAT. He said the district’s third party analysis was done in April, prior to FCMAT beginning its study.

    He also told me that there was a conference call on Thursday in which district reps suggested minor changes to the FCMAT transportation report, which were implemented and returned to Lawrence on Friday the 27th, with a note asking Lawrence to let FCMAT know if the report is acceptable so it can be finalized it today.

    “We didn’t change anything significant,” he said.

    Gillaspie also said FCMAT sent Lawrence its draft special education report Thursday, asking Lawrence to review that for possible corrections. He expects that will be finalized within two weeks.

  60. Doctor J Says:

    Did the Board approve the Third party analysis ? How much did it cost ?

  61. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Gillaspie said the analysis was done by an attorney for the district. I don’t recall such an analysis being approved by the board in open session.

    Regarding the MGT report, it doesn’t look like the district gave that report to FCMAT (according to the specific areas to be reviewed for the transportation report).

    However, I have not yet seen the specific areas the district asked FCMAT to review for its special education report. I wonder if the district will send out another letter to parents with more changes to be made effective immediately, based on FCMAT’s special education report that no one has yet seen.

  62. Anon Says:

    Every Special Education parent should get ready to file a Stay Put for their child!

  63. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The district should review both FCMAT reports on Aug. 13 so there will be no surprises when school starts a little more than two weeks later.

  64. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Buckle your seat belts, get ready to be shocked. This thing is about to see the light of day.

  65. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#61 The scope of the Special Education report is listed in Appendix C of the FCMAT report you linked to previously on transportation, which begins in Section 6 of the Agreement.
    Rumors have it that Lawrence will NOT release the Special Education report — instead he intends to cherry pick from the report and gloss over the findings in one of his famous ever changing PowerPoint presentations. It may be his biggest dog and pony show ever.
    When was the “exit” interview in his office for the Special Ed report ? Is either Lawrence or FCMAT releasing a copy of the letter summarizing the “exit interview” or preliminary report for Special Ed ?
    Lets get those documents just like transportation so we can compare to see the changes.

  66. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s what Gillaspie told me about the special ed review in an email:

    “Special Education program review: field work done June 4-8 2012.

    Exit letter sent to district.

    A draft final report was sent to the district for review July 26, 2012. Our drafts are not public records, although I understand that you may have received a copy from the district.”

    I believe he was referring to the draft transportation report, when he mentioned the draft I received from the district.

    As previously mentioned, I have requested all correspondence between the district and FCMAT. Gillaspie has promised to send me everything except the draft reports. I assume this means the exit letter will be included.

    I don’t believe that Lawrence will be able to hide the final report. If he attempts to, the public should be able to get it from FCMAT.

  67. Lorie O'Brien Says:

    Just to be clear…I am still here! Same job, I just moved offices. Last year my former position was filled part time, temporarily, with a retired administrator.

  68. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Thanks, Lorie. I had been meaning to call you today to see if you were still there!

    Unfortunately, I am unable to access those comments to modify them.

  69. g Says:

    Taking civil rights lawsuits out of the County looks serious–and expensive–hmmm? “Anticipated” Litigation–hmmm?

    Plaintiffs: Ryan Petersen, Michael P. Petersen and Randi Petersen

    Defendants: Mildred Browne, Ken Ferro, Connie Cushing, Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD), MDUSD Employees and Paula Lorentzen

    On June 26, 2012, Plaintiffs, Ryan Petersen, Michael Petersen, and Randi Petersen (“Plaintiffs”) filed a complaint alleging several causes of action including inter alia , civil rights violations and numerous state law claims. (Doc. 1). Plaintiffs’ complaint involves allegations against defendants who reside in Concord, California in Contra Costa County. *fn1 Contra Costa County is located within the jurisdiction of the United States District Court, Northern District of California. Accordingly, this action will be transferred to the United States District Court, Northern District of California, because all of the named defendants reside in that district and a substantial part of the events giving rise to the claim have occurred there. See , 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). *fn2

  70. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: After reading through the lawsuit you cite, it’s unlikely the district would have “anticipated” this.

    Regarding the top administrator contracts, I have been told by the superintendent’s secretary that they still have not been finalized.

  71. g Says:

    You’re probably right Theresa. Just some old failed arbitration sneaking back to bite them.

  72. g Says:

    sorry Theresa, I missed your second note about “Top Administrators’ contracts.”

    Do you mean principal/vice principal–or do you mean those Dent Contracts for Lawrence, Rolen, etc?

  73. SR Says:

    @Anon#62. That is exactly what I have been advising every Special Ed Parent I know. This whole thing is a violation of IDEA.

  74. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: I mean the contracts for Lawrence, Rolen, Richards, Braun-Martin and Lock.

  75. Theresa Harrington Says:

    If any special ed parents would like to speak to me about your reactions to the district’s changes and the FCMAT report for a news story, please call me at 925-945-4764.

  76. g Says:

    That’s what I thought you meant. So, what does “renew” mean? How long could it take to change a 2013 to read 2014 on 5 contracts?

    If they change anything else it would not equate to “renew”–it would be NEW.

  77. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The secretary said she wanted clarification on the item that Trustee Cheryl Hansen brought up regarding housing stipend of $25,000 that was in Superintendent Steven Lawrence’s initial contract. Although the board did not vote to amend the contract, it would seem unnecessary to provide him with another housing stipend.

  78. Doctor J Says:

    If they just extend the termination date, why would anything else need to be changed ? The housing stipend would have already expired, wouldn’t it ? And besides, it was paid. But I did bring up that AB1344 effective January 1, 2012 may be problematic for the extensions hurried through by Lawrence and voted upon by the Board.

  79. g Says:

    Three months to “clarify” a sentence in a contract? They continue to soak your pant-leg and tell you it’s raining.

  80. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It appears that no one has been clamoring for the contracts since they were approved. But, since Lawrence’s includes an annual increase in pay, it will be interesting to find out if he got his raise before the contract was signed.

  81. g Says:

    Dr. J, you are right of course about that little clause in the contract extension regarding “automatic increase”. I’m sure the “phantom attorney” is working on a “Legal Assessment” of AB1344 as we speak!

  82. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, even School Services of CA warned against superintendent increases that exceeded the CPI, which Lawrence’s does.

    But, the board was so anxious to approve the contract extensions that no one brought up this important item. Surely, Lawrence and Richards were aware of it, but since the contracts were for themselves, they would have had a conflict of interest to raise the issue.

  83. Doctor J Says:

    @TH@82 Add Mr. Rolen to that list — he is supposed to advise the Board on legal issues — with all of the Brown Act violations from AB1344, it appears he didn’t even know about it OR just ignore it. He seems to have a habit of ignoring the law and moral issues.

  84. g Says:

    Actually, it was in conflict of their duty to safeguard the people’s interest for them to NOT raise the issue.

    Lawrence and Rolen have a duty to keep themselves informed, and advise the board of new legislation such as AB1344, rather than ignore that legislation and schedule items of personal financial gain near the end of a 6 1/2 hour board meeting.

  85. Doctor J Says:

    Lawrence remains silent — guilty — July has been a bad month for him, but worse months are ahead for him as the truth will destroy him. Soon he will have the STAR test results — and disaster strike once again. His contract extension is illegal — everyone knows it — and it will not stand.

  86. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Stay tuned for a new blog post. I have received some startling revelations from FCMAT.

  87. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    As I’ve been saying, “the best is yet to come”. Bring on the disinfecting sunlight.

  88. Doctor J Says:

    Last week it was “shocking” and now “startling”. AED is on standby, ready to defibulate the faint of heart. :-)

  89. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It’s becoming clearer why MDUSD was able to write its letter to parents about the FCMAT “findings and recommendations” before the report was even completed — some of them didn’t come from FCMAT.

  90. Doctor J Says:

    Lawrence caught lying again ? And that is “startling” ? No wonder Rolen told Patton to stick to the script ! Theresa, they are going to have to re-do the Aug 13 PowerPoint now that they have been caught again.

  91. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I would be surprised if the Aug. 13 Powerpoint is already completed, since the district has a habit of not finishing PowerPoints until just before meetings begin. I hope the district has the PowerPoint done in time to post it with the agenda. If not, the agenda should include a written staff report that outlines what will be presented in the PowerPoint. Too often, PowerPoints take the place of staff reports, giving the public little — if any — time to review the information in advance.

  92. Anon Says:

    Waiting to hear what is up Theresa. If it is as bad as I think I will call you to go on-record. I am hoping it is not as bad as I am expecting but I am getting prepared. I am willing to join other special ed parents and lead a “Class Action” if need be.

  93. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In a nutshell, the district appears to have misled parents in the June 20 letter, by attributing some information to FCMAT that was actually generated by the district.

  94. g Says:

    Sherry has no political future. It is time for her to stand up and spit out some truths.

    Doesn’t she get it yet? She was a political pawn, and she was the first to be sacrificed.

    She was lured in to a political position that was way over her head. Cheryl stepped on Gary’s toes. So now, like a good little hand maiden, doing as instructed, every move Sherry makes is geared not toward what’s best for the district, but rather toward putting Cheryl down. She acts like a spiteful little eight year old.

    Sherry–Cheryl is not your enemy! She stands up for the causes you “thought” you were being brought on board to work for. Turn your back on the Svengali. He is not your friend.

  95. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Both Eberhart and Whitmarsh promised greater openness and transparency.
    Hopefully, they will follow through on that by revealing the nature of the Poway analysis received by the board that Hansen appears to have no knowledge of and by explaining to the public how FCMAT ended up making some recommendations to the district that were provided by the general counsel.

  96. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    So, it appears the district general counsel was the “special Ed LAW” expert after all …

  97. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:


    Winner, winner, chicken dinner. I wonder how much he was paid to act as a Special Ed Law expert? I also wonder if there was any translation services needed for the letter.

    Things that make you go hmm……

  98. Doctor J Says:

    @G#94. Spot on. Sherry has been trapped and emotionally bound since Eberhart and Lawrence sucked her into ButtercupGATE — until Sherry admits the truth, she is a slave to E & L, afraid that the crime of a Brown Act violation will destroy her credibility — ironic isn’t it. Yet by refusing to publicly admit her wrong the truth haunts her like a ghost. On this very blog she refused to tell the truth about ButtercupGATE. Sherry will not run because she will have to answer publicly for her role in ButtercupGATE.

  99. Doctor J Says:

    I have wondered why Cheryl has not asked Lawrence for a copy of the Poway analysis. Or maybe she has ?

  100. Theresa Harrington Says:

    HFO, I don’t think Rolen was the expert, but he provided the expert analysis to FCMAT.

    Dr. J: As far as I know, the person who allegedly has first-hand knowledge of Buttercupgate, as you call it, has never come forward publicly on the record to state what happened. Unless that person does, Buttercupgate will remain an unsubstantiated allegation.

  101. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It’s my understanding that Hansen has asked for the Poway analysis, but has received no response.

  102. Anon Says:

    If Rolen is the special Ed law expert there is defiantly conflict of interest. His kids and girlfriends kid goes to nps with transportation. This is a fact. He had better suffer through this like the rest of us. By the way the June letter was also sent in Spanish so I am sure he profited from that. I really wish these people would open their eyes and realize how much they are hated. They need to tuck tail and whimper off.

  103. Doctor J Says:

    @TH, Did FCMAT provide to you the expert analysis they were given ?

  104. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FCMAT wants to release the analysis, but it has given Greg Rolen a courtesy call letting him know they intend to release it, unless he has a legal objection. They are waiting to hear back from him.

  105. Doctor J Says:

    Once Rolen gave it to FCMAT, any legal objection evaporated since it then became a public record — your legal beagles are probably delighted with Rolen’s analysis and would be willing to force FCMAT into releasing the report. Perhaps your lawyers should do a preemptive letter to avoid the wrangling if Rolen demands “all copies” be returned.

  106. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, Gillaspie said that FCMAT believes it is a public record, since the district gave it to the outside agency. It remains to be seen if Rolen will try to come up with a legal objection.

    Yesterday, Gillaspie said he expected Rolen to get back to him by the end of the day. So far, he has received no response.

  107. Doctor J Says:

    If you check the FCMAT/MDUSD contract, FCMAT required MDUSD to supply copies of all prior reports.

  108. Theresa Harrington Says:

    So, FCMAT must have received the MGT report after all. It’s somewhat surprising that it’s not mentioned in the transportation draft report.

  109. Anon Says:

    Is any of this illegal? Or just immoral?

  110. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: It’s unclear specifically what you are referring to. Certainly it is legal for the district to request an outside analysis and to provide it to an outside agency. But, the district should have realized that by doing so, that analysis became a public record. So, the district should now agree with FCMAT’s opinion and not obstruct its release.

    While it may technically be “legal” for the district to appear to attribute information to FCMAT that it actually produced itself, it is up to the board and public to decide whether that is acceptable behavior by district staff.

  111. Doctor J Says:

    Sad experience has taught us that FCMAT reports that just accept as true information given it by the district without independent verification and audit, are no more accurate than the misinformation supplied to FCMAT. I would not assume FCMAT received the MGT report from the district unless FCMAT acknowledges it.

  112. Doctor J Says:

    When might we expect this new blog post on the FCMAT information provided ?

  113. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It turns out that FCMAT is very short-staffed and may not always have time to do in-depth verification or analysis for its reports.

    The draft report states: “In most districts throughout the state, approximately 10 percent of the special education population receives transportation services on average.”

    But, when I asked for a list of districts that transport 10 percent of students, Gillaspie was initially unable to name any. He said this was an “impression” FCMAT had, but that it was not tied to any actual data that he could produce. Finally, he said he thought Poway was an example.

    I’m working on the blog post now, but have already revealed much of what it will say in these comments. I have also attempted to contact Greg Rolen, Mildred Browne and Carolyn Patton to get answers to some questions I have about the June 20 letter. Patton returned my call, but said she had not yet seen my email list of questions. She said she would read the email and call me back, but I have not heard from her again.

  114. Doctor J Says:

    For Gillaspie to admit that a FCMAT report statement which appears to be “factual” is in reality not based on any facts, but just impressions, really hurts FCMAT’s credibility. Every statement in a FCMAT report now is suspect unless it is backed up by a factual statement.

  115. Theresa Harrington Says:

    He said that I could look at all the transportation reports they have posted on their website.
    But, it was clear that no one at FCMAT had actually compared the numbers themselves to verify whether “most” districts do, in fact, transport 10 percent of special education students.

  116. Doctor J Says:

    Since there are approximately 1000 districts in the state of all sizes, including unified, secondary and elementary, to compile that kind of information would be a major study — and Gillaspie cannot point to a single study or factual comparison. Once you had the information, then a thorough mathmatical analysis would need to be undertaken, to determine averages, means and medians by district size, urban v rural, and all kinds of factors that could affect the conclusions. I am quickly losing respect for FCMAT. Their statement is without a basis in fact.

  117. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Gillaspie said FCMAT does not survey districts statewide. The statement is based on FCMAT’s observations of districts that it has worked with, he said.

  118. Doctor J Says:

    Well Gillaspie’s statement of “In most districts throughout the state . . ” is clearly unsupported by facts, overstates the experience of FCMAT, and destroys their credibility for factual accuracy. I perused their website, and it appears that they have done less than 50 — maybe even less than 25 — maybe even less than 10 — transportation reports on special education transportation. So I don’t see where an observation of 10/1000 districts, or even 50/1000 districts of varying sizes and locales, could equate to an accurate statement of “most districts”. Mr. Gillaspie, show me the facts please or get out of the business.

  119. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Gillaspie said FCMAT has prepared over 1,000 studies since 1992.

    “Just kind of based on our observations over the years in doing transportation studies,” he said, “we have found from our impressions that about 10 percent of special education kids are transported. It’s not statistical data. It’s our impression.”

  120. Doctor J Says:

    A lot has changed in Special Education transportation in the last 20 years. Not all those studies involved special education transportation. Very few did. It has only become an issue in the last few lean years of budget reductions.

  121. Anon Says:

    Wow. To be a fly on the wall for some of the conversations that must be happening between Lawrence and the evil henchman of the board.

  122. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is what Gillaspie initially wrote in an email response:

    “Over the years we observe that most districts that control their transportation placements seem to transport about 10% of the total special education population.”

    I asked if he was differentiating between districts “that control their transportation placements” and others. But, he said that statement was not meant to be a subset of districts. He did add, however, that districts that “control their transportation placements” are cost-conscious.

    So, this could suggest that districts that don’t control their transportation placements (and are not consciously trying to cut costs) might transport special education students at higher rates.

  123. Doctor J Says:

    No factual basis for Gillaspie’s claim. Some lawyer will slice and dice him on cross-examination and destroy his credibility. Besides his claim of cost controlling over the needs of students will not be well received.

  124. Theresa Harrington Says:

    He did not suggest cost-controlling over the needs of students. He was very clear that districts should provide needed services, but try to cut costs where it makes sense.

    However, I am surprised by how many times the percentage is mentioned in FCMAT’s report, without any statistical backup.

    The report also states: “Mt. Diablo Unified provides school transportation to a significantly higher percentage of special education students than most school districts in California.”

    One blog reader called me to ask which districts FCMAT was referring to, assuming there might be an addendum with a chart comparing several districts. It was thanks to that reader that I inquired further. Now, parents are left wondering about the reliability of the data presented by FCMAT and the district.

  125. g Says:

    Mr. Gillaspie, as well as many of his understaffed team may be quite good at their jobs (the recent board coach excepted) and may have started their jobs at FCMAT with good intentions.

    Understanding that the ‘draft’ is fairly well complete, I for one, was far more impressed by the two year old (and ignored) MGT Assessment.

    It showed thoroughness, impartiality, transparency, and a visible lack of what seems to me to be some attempt by FCMAT to be politically correct with some of their old friends and acquaintances.

  126. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is what Gillaspie said about FCMAT’s relationship with the district:

    “Our relatonship with the district is very neutral,” he said. “We’re independent. We’re external. We just say, ‘This is our best opinion.'”

    He said the district is under no obligation to implement any of FCMAT’s recommendations.

  127. Anon Says:

    Seems like just another part of the well oiled machine is still turning. An audit is an Audit. Everything should be factual.

  128. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It appears that the district may have done its own comparison, based on the information it inserted into the parents’ letter regarding the “similarly sized district.”

    In the interest of openness and transparency, the district should share its comparative data with the public — including the names of the districts.

  129. Doctor J Says:

    FCMAT’s own website only claims “dozens” not “thousands” in the Special Ed area: “FCMAT has provided special education management assistance for dozens of school districts and county offices of education across California to help them more efficiently and effectively provide the services that special education students need. FCMAT’s expertise in this area helps districts and county offices bring improved serves to students while maximizing available funding.”

  130. g Says:

    The district has shown quite well that they put little weight on the studies they have given lip service to.

    On the other hand. The contract with FCMAT was for two separate studies:

    $36,900 for both reviews.
    $14,700 for Transportation
    $22,200 for Special Education
    to be paid “…from a one-time carryover or a district donation account.”

    If there is a Special Education Review in the draft of what appears to me to be no more than a Transportation Report, it would fit on one of the periods!

    Look again at the contract; the “Scope of the Work” spelled out under Special Education Program Review.

    Is there another Report-draft-something else gathering dust to be sprung up on Aug 13?

  131. Doctor J Says:

    @TH, I would assume that Carolyn Patton conveniently did not get back to you today. Par for the course or dare I say . . .Standard Operating Procedure.

  132. g Says:

    When you read the “Scope of the Work” on that 4/13 contract, you will see that they pretty much used the MGT report as their “outline” of directions given to FCMAT. Shocking?

  133. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: You are correct that she did not get back to me. Now, I regret having mentioned the email. I should have just started asking her the questions when she called.

    g: Yes, Gillaspie said that FCMAT has sent its draft Special Education review to the district and is awaiting corrections. He said it would be done in about two weeks, which means it could be presented Aug. 13, if the district is committed to transparency.

    Regarding the scope, this again reminds me of what Gus Kramer told me about some people liking to surround themselves with people who tell them what they want to hear. Or, as appears to partially be the case with the transportation report, people who tell them the same thing as their third party legal expert.

  134. g Says:

    Well, if they thought their transportation report would be in Rolen’s favor, they were wrong. Being “politically correct” it did everything but come right out and say “Rolen is ‘bleeping’ up your Transportation Dept!”

    They were way overly generous in leaving his name under Lawrence’s in the organization chart.

    The district eliminated a Transportation Director, and a Shop Supervisor. They have clerks and Special Ed employees making routing decisions. They have no control at all over fuel or parts purchase/usage. They have three driver trainers sitting around waiting for someone to train instead of driving a route…….. All they didn’t say out loud is that much of the department from Rolen down may be a bunch of gold-brickers.

  135. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is the blog post that takes a closer look at the June 20 letter to parents, comparing it to the FCMAT report:

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