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MDUSD appears to misrepresent some information in letter to parents about special education transportation changes

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 at 6:31 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Although a June 20 letter to some Mt. Diablo district parents appears to attribute details about upcoming transportation changes to an outside agency, I have found that the district actually generated some of the information itself.

The letter includes drastic changes in special education busing procedures, including one that is being implemented “immediately,” one that will go into effect Aug. 26 and one set to begin Jan. 7.

According to the letter, the changes were based on a “Financial Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) study to assist with identifying more effective and efficient means to provide special education transportation.”

Yet, the district didn’t receive FCMAT’s draft transportation report until July 18 — nearly one month after the letter was written. The district had, however, received a June 5 letter from FCMAT outlining some of its preliminary findings and recommendations, which it had not publicly disclosed.

The June 20 letter to parents states: “The study revealed that we are significantly overidentifying transportation as a related service for special education students. For example, the district currently provides transportation to 26 percent of our students with an IEP (Individualized Education Programs); however, in most districts reviewed by FCMAT the average was approximately 10 percent. The FCMAT team found that the district has an inordinately high number of parents who receive reimbursement in lieu of transportation services. 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.”

First, the letter states that parents will only be reimbursed for transporting students if the district is unable to transport them.

Second, it states that special education students who attend their neighborhood schools will no longer receive transportation unless they have unique needs.

Third, it says some students will be picked up and dropped off at nearby schools, instead of at their homes, beginning Jan. 7. According to this “cluster model,” students would then be transported to and from schools that are farther away, the letter states.

But when I read FCMAT’s June 5 letter and July 18 draft report, I didn’t see any mention of the “similar sized district” referenced in the Mt. Diablo letter. So, I sent an email to Bill Gillaspie, chief administrative officer for FCMAT, pointing out that the information did not appear in its letter or draft report and asking which district it was using as a comparison, how many special education students it served and what percentage of them were transported to and from school.

“In response to your question, we did not give the district the ‘similarly’ sized district,” he wrote in an e-mail.

We don’t know what district they are referring to, so I can’t tell you how many students with IEPs there are or how many are being transported.

You are correct. We make no reference about this in the draft report.

The district must have that information that they are referring to in their letter to parents.”

I also noticed that the draft report attributed the “cluster” idea to an analysis the district received “from a third party expert in special education law, compliance with IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), and best practices.”

“As a result,” the draft report states, “Mt. Diablo Unified is working towards clustering special education students at group stops where appropriate and training special education staff members in the IEP process and in determining whether transportation should be a related service. 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 “cluster stops for students who can reasonably get to their local school or a nearby bus stop.” It adds: “These changes should be clearly communicated to parents well in advance.”

Just to double-check, I asked Gillaspie if the cluster idea came from FCMAT or from the district. Here is his emailed response:

“The ‘clustering’ is a MDUSD word that appears to have legal grounds to do so, according to the MSUSD legal counsel. You may clarify that with them, if necessary.

We continued to use it so there would be some consistency in how the district communicates the concept to their parents.

What MDUSD is hoping to do is create group bus stops most likely at the elementary school of residence in their neighborhood, or at a common, public location, like a park, rather than picking up each child at their doorstep.

We agree that having group bus stops for the less severe students who can safely get to those stops is a positive for the children and district.

This can be a cost reducing method of providing transportation, provides for the least restrictive environment and promotes student independence with parent support.

Any change of placement or services will involve an IEP meeting, which consists of a meeting between parent and district.”

I asked for a copy of the independent legal analysis on which the clustering idea was based. Gillaspie said it was FCMAT’s belief that it was a public document, since the district had provided it to FCMAT.

However, as a courtesy, Gillaspie said he called Greg Rolen, the district’s general counsel, on Monday to let him know that FCMAT intended to release the document to me and to see if Rolen had any objection. So far, Gillaspie has not heard back from Rolen.

I also asked Gillaspie to name the districts FCMAT reviewed, when it determined that “most school districts” transport about 10 percent of special education students.

“The figure that we use has no basis in any statistical report or data that is available from the state,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Over the years we observe that most districts that control their transportation placements seem to transport about 10 percent of the total special education population.

(The state wide average of serving children in special education is between 10 percent and 11 percent of the general education population).”

Yet, FCMAT’s report and the district’s letter to parents both appear to represent the transportation percentage as a fact that has been “reviewed” by FCMAT. To further clarify whether FCMAT compared districts, I followed up with a phone call.

Gillaspie said FCMAT had not actually analyzed its data to confirm its conclusion.

“What I told you is an honest opinion what we observe,” he said. “We’re looking at the number of kids that are being transported and the number of kids in special education in the district and we’re drawing a conclusion from that.”

Again, I asked him to name the districts to which he was referring. After hesitating for a few moments, he said the Poway Unified School District transports about 10 percent of its special education students.

“That would be my estimate,” he said. “I would say that you could look at Poway and probably draw that conclusion.”

However, he did not provide the data to back up this conclusion. Instead, he said I could look at the transportation reports on FCMAT’s website.

Gillaspie also said that he was not sure whether other districts “cluster” special education students or whether FCMAT had ever recommended that any other districts do that. He said he would try to find out and get back to me.

I also noticed that the district’s announcement in the parent letter that it will stop transporting students to their neighborhood schools (in most cases), is not specifically stated as one of FCMAT’s recommendations.

Instead, FCMAT recommends improving transportation forms and checklists, which would require parents and district staff to identify whether students attend their neighborhood schools. As previously noted, the recommended checklist in FCMAT’s report was provided by the district’s third-party legal expert.

So, the letter sent to parents includes:

- a change regarding reimbursements, which is partially based on information that FCMAT didn’t even have;

- the elimination of busing to neighborhood schools, which was not expressly recommended by FCMAT; and

- a recommendation regarding clustering, based on a legal analysis provided by the district to FCMAT, which has not been shared with the public.

Parents should be given the opportunity to question the true basis of these decisions, instead of being led to believe they are the direct result of FCMAT’s study.

Gillaspie said it is important for districts to involve those who are affected by changes in discussions before they are implemented.

“As we discussed, to implement program or transportation service changes, open dialogue, meetings, correspondence between the district and parents will be required to be ongoing, to assure transparency and a spirit of working together for the best welfare of each child,” he wrote in an e-mail. “I believe the district is committed to do this as a result of our studies.”

Do you believe the district is committed to open, transparent dialogue with parents in a spirit of working together for the best welfare of each child?

AUG. 2 UPDATE: FCMAT has denied my request for the third party analysis, reversing its previous opinion that it was a public document by now claiming that it is protected under the district’s attorney-client privilege.

Here is FCMAT’s response to my request for the analysis and emails between the district and FCMAT, which I received in an email today:

“Hello Theresa:

In regard to your request for document in connection with our nonpublic draft MDUSD Transportation Report, you asked in reference to page 22 who is the legal expert and requesting for a copy of that legal analysis. The special education legal opinion referred to in the nonpublic draft FCMAT report was provided to us by the district in our capacity as an agent for the district in studying and reporting on transportation issues. The district asserts its attorney/client privilege and we are not in a position to release that document under a public records request. If you intend to pursue this further, you need to deal directly with the district.

The same position applies to any attorney/client communication between the district’s attorneys and FCMAT with regard to the study and report. Accordingly, in providing you with copies of correspondence, including emails, we do not include any such communication as to which the district asserts an attorney/client privilege.

I will be forwarding to you in the near future the copies of email correspondence between FCMAT and MDUSD, as you requested, from April 2012 to present, except for any attorney/client protected material.

It is the practice of FCMAT that we do not comment on draft reports, they are subject to review, edit and comment by the district, prior to finalization and publication.

The MDUSD draft FCMAT transportation report was not released publicly by FCMAT and is not a public record. Mistakenly made public, which should have not been, due to the need for district staff to review for accuracy of data, findings and recommendations. This report remains a draft, no final conclusions have been made, and presently continues to be under review by the district, with there is no required timeline for completion.

When a final report is published on our website, it will speak for itself and FCMAT will have no comment. Any questions about the released report should be directed to the district that commissioned it.

Thank you

Bill
William P. Gillaspie, Ed.D.”

AUG. 8 UPDATE: According to the CAC blog, Superintendent Steven Lawrence says the FCMAT reports will not be on the Aug. 13 agenda: http://bit.ly/MQeISj

AUG. 9 UPDATE: I have received the following email from FCMAT’s attorney, explaining why FCMAT is denying my Public Records Act request:

“Ms. Harrington:

I am the attorney for the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT). I am responding on behalf of FCMAT to your continuing request for a copy of a memorandum sent to the Mount Diablo Unified School District by an attorney engaged by the District for a legal opinion. This memorandum was made available to FCMAT by the District in order that FCMAT could provide the management assistance which the District engaged FCMAT to perform. In our relationship with the District with regard to this engagement, we have been serving as an agent of the District.

The District maintains that the memorandum in question is a confidential communication protected by the attorney client privilege. After careful consideration, I have concluded that the District’s position is correct and, further, that only the District can waive the privilege and it has not waived it by making it available to FCMAT for the accomplishment of the purpose for which the attorney was consulted by the District. Accordingly, FCMAT will not produce this memorandum in response to your public records request. It is my understanding that, except for this memorandum and any communications between FCMAT and the District’s attorneys in the preparation of the transportation report FCMAT has been working on, you have already been provided by Bill Gillaspie of FCMAT all of the communications, including email, that you have asked for.

By separate email immediately following this one, I will be forwarding to you a letter addressed “To Whom It May Concern” at FCMAT, from the District’s General Counsel, Greg Rolen, dated August 1, 2012. This letter states the District’s legal basis for its position and it is in reliance on that position that FCMAT declines to produce the memorandum. If this is a matter that your publication intends to pursue further, you should consider the District to be the real party in interest and an indispensable party.

Frank J. Fekete
Legal Counsel
FCMAT”

Here is the letter Rolen sent to FCMAT: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/document-preview.aspx?doc_id=126421163

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  • Doctor J

    If Gary or Sherry wasn’t at the Buttercup on March 1, 2010, all either one of them had to say was “No, I wasn’t there.” Both of them refuse to say that.

  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    It is clear to me through both their dodging of the questions that they were both at the meeting.

  • g

    Eberhart does, however, say “other board members” (plural). Were these gatherings for “all” board members to just get together and socialize? Or were some board members “excluded” so that only a like-minded majority of them might meet?

    Do they still occasionally do that?

  • Theresa Harrington

    In the live chat, Eberhart defends a meeting at the superintendent’s house with Chevron. But, Dr. J. is correct that he never answers the question about meeting at the Buttercup Restaurant.

  • Wiat a Minute

    Theresa,
    Everyone knows where there is smoke there is fire.

    Under Eberhart, Whitmarsh, Strange, Lawrence, and good old Rolen the woods have been on fire for some time know.

    It is unfortunate that the witness teacher and Noce did not file a Grand jury complaint or really even speak up at the time or the inferno that the MDUSD has become under the before-mentioned so called “leaders” night not have ever came to the point that it has.

  • g

    In his 9/3/2010 Superintendent’s newletter Lawrence stated: “I know there have been numerous articles in the local paper about discussions between me and solar vendors. I apologize to this community for any misunderstanding or misperception my actions may have caused. I am committed to keep every step of this solar project transparent and accessible to the public.
    In order to ensure transparency, we will post all meetings and decisions on the District’s website. Additionally, I have personally extended an invitation to our local news media, including the Contra Costa Times, to observe and cover the solar interview process and its roll out.”

    —–

    It was not too late in 9/10 to come clean about who, when, where on those meetings.

    It is STILL

  • g

    Oops–STILL not too late for Lawrence to instruct Greg Rolen to stop hiding documents regarding costs of issuance of bonds, and documents related to special education that the public has paid for.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Yes, unfortunately, the superintendent’s commitment to transparency appears to have been short-lived.
    However, he did keep his word and invited me to the solar interviews, in which Chevron declined to participate.

  • g

    Any idea what he paid Chevron to sign off on CREB Grant application? Or did Chevron do that as a pre-favor?

  • Theresa Harrington

    I believe that Chevron did not charge the district for that service.
    Of course, those applications were never brought before the board, so the public didn’t find out that Chevron signed the applications until Alicia Minyen requested copies of them, while serving on the BOC.

  • g

    I also recall a promise to the IRS on those applications stating that “the operating budget” would pay the debt service on the CREB bonds.

    There’s a laugh.

    While it could have, I guess, been set up that utility savings could be designated directly to make those payments, we are instead stuck for, basically, paying them off + interest well beyond their lifespan.

    Then there was the false promise of $20million or so from QSCBs, but then “Oh, we only got $3million because we weren’t ‘shovel ready’ enough for QSCBs.

    And don’t get me started on bonds paying off COPS…and then lying about it on subsequent Bond Official Statements!

    On the other hand—did we actually get any or all of that $59million CREB money from Uncle Sam?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Originally the solar project at Northgate was also supposed to be paid for with the energy savings. But, instead Measure C was used to pay that off, I believe.
    Yes, the district did get the CREBS, which may be part of the reason Pete Pedersen pushed to install solar on the closed schools — since that’s what they told the IRS they would do. If they didn’t, the district might have had to refund that money to the federal government.
    Now, of course, those schools are being used by nonpublic special ed. programs, which could further justify the solar installations.

  • g

    I understand that was Pedersen’s stated reason to go ahead at Holbrook and Glenbrook, but does the receipt of CREBs money show up anyplace on Measure C books/audits? I don’t recall seeing it.

  • g

    If the CREBs money went straight into the Sinking Fund, is there a place in the annual budget where we can see the before and after balances for proof? The district said several times that the CREBS were not guaranteed, so it would be good to confirm their receipt–since we weren’t really “shovel ready” as stated.

  • Doctor J

    My sources are telling me that while Elementary enrollment continues to plumment downward another 3% +/- this year [a greater percentage than in the last few years], SASS has grown about 25% and so large that part of the staff has left Dent and moved to Willow Creek. Take a look at the overall trends. http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/DQ/EnrTimeRpt.aspx?Level=District&cYear=2011-12&cname=Mt.%20Diablo%20Unified&cCode=0761754

  • Doctor J

    TWO YEARS LATER: What happened to the former Administrators in “Curriculum & Instruction” that was eliminated in July 2010 and replaced by SASS ? [Excerpts from TH post of 6/30/10 of a Board Meeting appointments on 6/22/10]
    Ayers Elementary Principal, Concord: Spoogmai Habibi (former curriculum specialist) quietly reassigned to El Dorado MS as Student Services Coordinator
    Hidden Valley Elementary Principal, Martinez: Sandy Bruketta (former curriculum specialist) REMAINS
    Valle Verde Elementary Principal, Walnut Creek: Rhys Miller (former program specialist in curriculum and instruction) LEFT DISTRICT
    Meadow Homes Elementary program specialist, Concord: Diane Sargent (former curriculum specialist) REMAINS
    The board also didn’t vote June 22 on the administrative positions listed below, even though they were in the agenda attachment. The board approved these appointments May 11 and June 15:
    Director of Personnel: Melinda Hall (former director of Curriculum and Instruction) LEFT DISTRICT
    Assistant Director of Categoricals and School Support: Jennifer Sachs (former assist. dir. of Curriculum & Instruction) LEFT DISTRICT
    Principal Coach and school support: Susan Hukkanen (former Curriculum and Instruction administrator) REMAINS
    Administrator, English learners, Student Support: Carmen Graces (former Curriculum and Instruction administrator) REMAINS

  • SR

    @Anon- If you have any information on a class action lawsuit, would you direct me and other special education parents to this information please? Perhaps the CAC would be so kind as to place this information on its blog as well.

    @Theresa #74- Gillespie said the district could not make changes without IEP’s, but the district did this anyway via the Transportation letter and the letters that SPED parents all received notifying us of our children’s “assignment” to particular district programs/classrooms. I did not consent to my child’s proposed placement, but still received a letter stating he would be at XXXX Campus in XXXX class. That is ILLEGAL. Why isn’t the district addressing this and stating its position as to why they believe they are within the law? I asked this at the MAY special ed meeting and got no real response from Carolyn Patton.

  • Anon

    SR,

    That is terrible, I’m sorry this is happening to you. However, until some special ed parents are willing to stand up and file a lawsuit it will not change.

  • Theresa Harrington

    As a reminder, here is what Gillaspie told me in an email:

    “Any change of placement or services will involve an IEP meeting, which consists of a meeting between parent and district.
    As we discussed, to implement program or transportation service changes, open dialogue, meetings, correspondence between the district and parents will be required to be ongoing, to assure transparency and a spirit of working together for the best welfare of each child. I believe the district is committed to do this as a result of our studies.”

    It’s unclear why MDUSD is changing placements without an IEP.

    Also unclear is what happened regarding the scheduled CAC summer planning meeting that was supposed to have taken place yesterday: https://www.google.com/calendar/render?eid=MmQxM3ZwdXM4a3Z2aWZ2M2oyaW81bjV0NjQgbW91bnRkaWFibG9jYWNAbQ&ctz=America/Los_Angeles&pli=1&sf=true&output=xml

    That meeting was never noticed on the district’s website and Mildred Browne’s secretary tells me it didn’t take place. The next scheduled CAC meeting is Sept. 4, she said.

    However, it was my understanding that the CAC wanted to review the FCMAT report before it goes to the board. I’m not sure how that’s going to happen.

  • Doctor J

    Last 5 years of STAR testing:
    Year Supt API Increase/Decrease
    2012 Lawrence ???
    2011 Lawrence 2
    2010 Nichol 11
    2009 McHenry 21
    2008 McHenry 8

  • Theresa Harrington

    Browne’s secretary just told me the CAC meeting originally scheduled for yesterday is taking place today instead. However, she said it’s not a public meeting.
    Although this means I can’t go, I’m not sure whether other special education parents can attend. If you are a special ed. parent who wants to attend the special CAC meeting today, you can call Browne’s office at 682-8000 ext. 4047 for more information.

  • Anon

    Why would the CAC meeting not be a public meeting? That doesn’t make any sense at all.

  • g

    If your personal circumstances mean you can’t be part of a committee(s) “in crowd” you are just SOL in every one of Lawrence’s books.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I have left a message for CAC Chairwoman Lorrie Davis, asking why the meeting is not open to the public. As previously stated, I’m not sure if it’s open to all special education parents or if most special education parents were aware of it.

    I have posted a new blog with questions that I emailed to Greg Rolen, Mildred Browne and Carolyn Patton on July 31 regarding the June 20 letter to parents: http://bit.ly/R0JxHT
    So far, I have received no response from any of them.

  • Doctor J

    What is the status of getting the secret document from FCMAT ? The CAC is subject to the Brown Act — it was created by Court Order.

  • Theresa Harrington

    As previously reported, FCMAT is standing by Rolen and refusing to produce it. I sent an Aug. 9 PRA to Rolen asking for all writings that reflect the district’s request that FCMAT not refer to or disclose the Confidential Memo in its final report, as referenced in the district’s Aug. 1 letter to FCMAT. So far, I have received no response.

    Regarding the CAC, I have left a message with Browne’s secretary asking what legal basis the CAC is relying on to bar the public from today’s meeting.

  • Doctor J

    I think you should just show up and if they try to bar you, then you have a basis for the Times to take action against them and settle this bull manure once and for all. Until you actually try and gain access to the meeting, you have not been denied.

  • Anon

    I wonder what would happen if a bunch of us just showed up in mass. Would they cancel the meeting yet again?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Since no agenda was posted, I cannot be sure when or where the meeting is taking place or what the possible Brown Act exclusion may be.
    I know that the Executive Committee has held private meetings in the past. Unfortunately, however, the executive committee does not always share what transpires at its meetings on the CAC blog.
    Although the executive committee received a copy of the June 5 letter from FCMAT to the district, it did not share it with the larger special education community.
    I have also received a June 19 letter from FCMAT to the district, which outlines preliminary findings and recommendations regarding the special education review. It’s unclear whether the CAC executive committee also has that document, but hasn’t posted it on its blog.
    I will post it along with the other documents I received from my PRA to FCMAT.

  • Anon

    I thought at the bottom of EVERY agenda they have the words, “Don’t forget bring a friend”? Am I crazy? I’m sure I’ve seen that many times.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Yes, that’s true.
    Maybe that’s why there was no agenda posted for this meeting. In a departure from the CAC’s usual open-door policy, all friends and outsiders were banned from today’s meeting.

  • g

    Last month, Lorrie was sooo publicly appreciative of the district coming to CAC with advanced information–so now it would seem, they don’t want the little folks to muddy up their waters. “It’s all about US, and getting what WE want for OUR kids, and the rest of you and YOUR kids can just settle for what WE decide is best for YOU. Who knows. Maybe what we get for us will also work out for some of the rest of you.”

    Why not play the special-ed high hand? Rolen has played it that way for years!

  • Theresa Harrington

    g: Having attended many CAC meetings and talked to many parents on the committee, I believe they are very interested in doing what’s best for ALL special education students.
    However, everyone knows the money is dwindling, so each parent on the CAC is also there to advocate for his or her child — as well as for his or her children’s schools.
    But, the CAC always welcomes new members and usually welcomes visitors. So, I would disagree with your characterization.
    Actually, it’s my impression that some people are fearful of speaking up due to possible retaliation against them or their children.
    Special education in MDUSD appears to be more political than some people might think.

  • g

    My characterization may be strongly worded. We do agree that SpecEd is very politically inclined. Unfortunately, I don’t know many people who don’t put “me and mine” first, if given just half a chance.

    As you mentioned earlier, regarding the FCMAT report not being ready yet, on 8/8, Lorrie blogged that “When (Lawrence) has a better understanding of when the reports will be finalized and distributed, he will give me a call and I will forward the information.”

    If it isn’t too secret, perhaps Gillaspie would be willing to give you an indication of when they received the final request for revisions, and when (if not yet) the revised documents will likely be sent.

  • anonadad

    when do 2012 star scores come out?

  • Doctor J

    @235: I posted this today under another topic from last month, and it got “lost”: With just days left before the release of the 2012 STAR test results, Supt Lawrence will being the “spin” on another year of poor peformance in MDUSD — consistent with his track record in West Sac and last year’s measley 2 point API gain in the district. Lawrence in the next week will receive the results and plug them into a “private program” [purchased by the district] to predict API scores so he doesn’t have to wait — so he will likely know BEFORE the Aug 20 Board meeting and certainly before the Aug 27 Board Meeting what he needs to spin — if you think the US Presidential election will have spin, you ain’t seen nothing yet compared to what Lawrence will twist and turn, while declaring “hocus pocus”.

    The question remains: After two years of SASS “reforms” that haven’t worked, what will be the future of “one size fits all” and “test, test, test and more testing” ? Unless we see a substantial gain in the API district score of at least 50 plus points [that's only a two year average of 25 points] who will tell Lawrence he has failed again ? Will the newly elected School Board have the guts to tell Lawrence to “pack his bags” and eat the buy-out under his contract ?

    Here is what the CDE announced on July 17 about the release of the STAR test results: “Consequently, your district will receive STAR Student Reports no later than August 22, 2012. The public release of the 2012 statewide STAR Results will be August 31, 2012.”

  • Theresa Harrington

    g: On July 30, Gillaspie emailed me the following regarding the transportation draft report:

    “District has reviewed final draft report, presented comments, and we will finalize this report Monday or Tuesday July 30 or July 31 and send final to Supt. to the district soon thereafter.”
    He said the draft final special education program review was “sent to the district for review July 26.”

    This is corroborated by a July 27 email I received through my PRA, which was sent from FCMAT to Lawrence along with the corrected draft report. It says: “This draft document takes into consideration the changes conveyed to FCMAT by the district on July 26, 2012. Please briefly review those changes and provide any additional comments by Monday, July 30, 2012, so we can proceed to finalize the report.”

    The PRA packet also includes a May 5 email from Bryan Richards to FCMAT saying the superintendent wants the special education review done this fiscal year.

    But now, the timeline seems to have slowed down considerably.

    Here’s what Gillaspie wrote to me in an Aug. 2 email regarding the draft transportation report, which was copied to Rolen and Lawrence:

    “…This report remains a draft, no final conclusions have been made, and presently continues to be under review by the district, with there is (sic) no required timeline for completion.
    When a final report is published on our website, it will speak for itself and FCMAT will have no comment. Any questions about the released report should be directed to the district that commissioned it.”

    So, even though “no final conclusions have been made” as of Aug. 2, the district sent a letter to parents June 20 implementing changes that were ostensibly based on those conclusions. It remains to be seen if the district will publicly release the document or if the public will have to watch for it to appear quietly on FCMAT’s website.

  • Theresa Harrington

    On another note, I have just received notification that Claycord is now following me on Twitter.

  • Doctor J

    I said a couple of weeks ago that Lawrence’s ruse is NEVER to have the FCMAT report completed so that it is NEVER published on the FCMAT website. FCMAT’s credibility is in shambles as it plays hostage for the district.

  • Theresa Harrington

    On Aug. 8, Gillaspie wrote this to me in an email about the special education review:

    “Report is in draft format, being reviewed for accuracy, not available for public review at this time, will be once finalized and accepted by the district.”

    The first email in the packet, however, is dated July 26 from FCMAT to Lawrence. It states:

    “Attached is the special education draft report produced 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 modifications. Upon receiving this information, we can finalize the report.”

    It has been more than two weeks since FCMAT sent that email. It is unclear why it is taking the district so long to review it and send back comments.

  • Flippin’ Tired

    “Doctor” J, @236, you say:

    “Lawrence in the next week will receive the results and plug them into a “private program” [purchased by the district] to predict API scores so he doesn’t have to wait”

    What is the name of this program, when was it purchased, and how much did it cost?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here is a response I received from CAC Chairwoman Lorrie Davis, regarding questions about today’s meeting, the June 19 FCMAT letter and CAC’s FCMAT interview:

    “(1) CAC members did meet today for a ‘summer planning meeting’. It is NOT an official CAC meeting open to the public. Basically we talk about our goals as a group and sub committee work.
    (2) I did not receive a copy of the June 19 letter from FCMAT to the district regarding the special education review preliminary findings and recommendations. If you have a copy, I’d be very interested in seeing it.
    (3) In regards to any revised scope of study, the only revised one I received is for the Special Education Scope of Study Amended 5/17/12. It was sent to me in a packet when the district was setting up our parents group meeting with FCMAT. We had parents, not just CAC members.”

  • Anon

    I am hearing the rumor from credible sources that Lawrence is looking for a way to avoid releasing the FCMAT report. I don’t see how he can do this, at least not legally. This is even more surprising given the fact that he himself essentially released it – at least a draft of it. This whole thing doesn’t seem to make any sense.

  • g

    Would that be “Summer planning meeting” as in planning for next Summer? I don’t know Lorrie much beyond nodding hello and have nothing against anybody who works hard for a good and fair cause.

    But, general goals for 12-13 should be hard-set by now. The unexpected new ‘needs and issues’ (busing changes popping up over summer), (transfers to home schools popping up over summer), (border changes looming not far off) and plans for dealing with these things should include all parents who might be interested and who might be able to contribute.

    You never know when a really good resource might be sitting there waiting for the door to be unlocked.

  • Anon

    G. You are very funny……LOL! The district does not want input from parents or any outside resource. I think Lawrence made that perfectly clear when he changed the scope of work. He did not want parents surveyed.

  • Doctor J

    Flippin, the key is 9215, Nuff said.

  • Doctor J

    @242, the Brown Act requires that kind of a meeting to be noticed and open to the public. Lorrie knows better than that.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#242 Lorrie Davis violated the Brown Act and CAC By-laws by holding a non-public meeting — Theresa you should request copies of any document they reviewed in that meeting — its now public record ! These by-laws were revised in Sept 2010 and approved by the Board of Education on Oct 12, 2010 upon recommendation by none other than Steven Lawrence ! Agenda Item 8.17. Specifically Davis violated By-laws 6.2 and 6.7: “6.7 Open Meetings: Meetings of the committee and of standing or special committees shall be open to the public.” “6.2 Meeting Notices: Pursuant to the Brown Act, a calendar will be established annually with
    the business meeting dates and times. Notice of all regular and special meetings shall be in writing. Notices will state the date, time, and location, and shall be emailed to each member not less than five (5) days before said meeting. The notice shall include an agenda of the upcoming meeting and minutes of the past meeting. Notices must be posted and communicated in compliance with the Brown Act. Items to be included on the agenda must be submitted to the Chairperson or the Secretary ten (10) days prior to the upcoming business meeting. The Chairperson will develop the agenda in collaboration with the district’s administrative liaison.” http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/1e943397-9d87-4a85-b7f6-a29015cf3b3d.pdf

  • g

    Were any staff or board members at the CAC meeting?

  • Doctor J

    Is Mildred Browne still the “CAC Administrative Liaison” appointed by the Board of Education ? When was she appointed ?
    CAC By law: “4.1.3 The District Board of Education will appoint an administrative liaison, preferably
    the Assistant Superintendent Pupil Services and Special Education, to the CAC. The administrative liaison cannot serve as a voting member. The administrative liaison is responsible for facilitating the clerical support for the CAC.”