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MDUSD 8-20-12 meeting

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, August 20th, 2012 at 8:45 pm in Education.

President Sherry Whitmarsh announced the board agreed in closed session to enter into negotiated agreements with four employees related to discipline, dismissal, release, complaint.

Trustee Cheryl Hansen removed items 8.2, 8.19 and 8.23 from consent calendar.
Trustee Lynne Dennler pulled items 8.35-8.38.

I apologize for not keeping up on this tonight. I’ll update later. Please visit my Qik and YouTube websites for video clips.

11:50 p.m. UPDATE:
Board unanimously passed all items on consent calendar that were not pulled for discussion.

8.2 Hansen requested revisons to 6-25-12 mins. Board voted 5-0 to approve 6-4-12 minutes and await revisions for 6-25 mins.

8.19 Hansen requested more information about how district is trying to bring back students from outside programs. Brian Cassin said the district spends $100,000-$125,000 or more per student in out-of-state residential programs, but the district is trying to bring more back.
Passed 5-0

8.23 Salas O’Brien: YVHS field lighting
Hansen asked about status of a public hearing regarding an environmental report. Pete Pedersen said the original plan did not require a public hearing, since there was a negative mitigated declaration. It only needed board approval. However, now that the scope is being increased, a new environmental study is being conducted.
Hansen asked Pedersen to make agenda items more specific so the public knows what the contract pertains to.
Board unanimously approved contract.

I’ll add more updates later.

AUG. 21 UPDATE: Here is a recap of the rest of the meeting. Please note that I have uploaded several videos to my Qik account and am in the process of uploading the rest to YouTube. Unfortunately, I ran out of space on my flip cam and had to erase some of the earlier videos to catch the lively discussion at the end of the meeting regarding future agenda items.

8.35-8.38: Trustee Lynne Dennler removed these items to discuss concerns about how they will be implemented (see Qik videos). Board unanimously approved policies.

CVCHS teacher Neil McChesney, a Concord High student and a CVCHS student urged the board to allow CVCHS to offer a radio class using KVHS. McChesney said he understands this will be on next Monday’s agenda. (See YouTube video)


MDEA President Guy Moore talked about rebuilding trust between teachers and district leaders.

Mona Ricard, a Sequoia Elementary teacher and Mt. Diablo Council of PTAs rep — and a district Teacher of the Year — talked about Prop. 38 and an upcoming meeting regarding PTA at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 in Dent Center.

Superintendent’s Report: Superintendent Steven Lawrence talked about recent Response to Intervention training for administrators.

13.1 Board unanimously appointed Thom Kwiatkoski as principal of Riverview MIddle School.

13.2 Board unanimously appointed the following elementary principals:

Beverly Tom — Valle Verde
Angela Hotchkiss — Pleasant Hill
Jenny Cronan — Woodside

13.3 Board unanimously appointed Sandra Bradley as Vice Principal of the Alliance special education program at Olympic HS.
(NOTE: This appointment is on YouTube/tunedtotheresa. Unfortunately, I erased videos of the previous appointments due to lack of space on my FlipCam. However, this video shows some of the other principals leaving.)

13.4 Board unanimously appointed Melissa Brennan as a Student Services Coordinator at MDHS.

13.5: Board unanimously appointed Maurice Burman as a Student Services Coordinator at MDHS.

13.6: Board unanimously appointed Mika Arbelbide as an accounting supervisor.

13.7: Board unanimously appointed Janelle Commins as a supervisor in Food and Nutrition Services.

13.8: Board unanimously appointed Terri Porter as Coordinator of After-school programs.

13.9: Board unanimously appointed John Willford as Assistant Project/Program Manager for Measure C

13.10: Board unanimously agreed to create new Measure C construction management positions.

13.11: Reclassification of some classified positions:
Julie Braun-Martin said there was a typo and salary for one position is lower than stated in staff report.
Board unanimously approved reclassifications.

13.12: Board unanimously approved renewal of CAC members.

13.13: Board unanimously approved Measure A tax levies.

13.14: Pawar Transportation contract
There was considerable discussion of this item (see videos on Qik and YouTube).
Trustee Linda Mayo noted that the numbers on the staff report did not add up to the total amount listed. At first, Angie Goakey said there was another $100,000 because it included some summer school services in the 11-12 fiscal year. But after Lawrence asked whether it was a typo, she said it was a typo. So, Trustee Gary Eberhart amended the motion to reduce the total by $100,000.
Carolyn Patton referenced the FCMAT report, without saying when it will be publicly presented.
“We’ve had the FCMAT review,” she said. “We’ve had an outside agency that’s reviewed our transportation.”
At Greg Rolen’s request, she also elaborated on the “clustering” plan.
Mayo mentioned other transportation reports previously presented to the board (but not referenced in the current staff report).
Patton talked about the letter sent to parents informing them of transportation changes, adding that IEPs will be necessary to address students’ needs. She said there was a special education parent meeting before the summer and there will be three more. She said 191 students who were being transported to their home schools will no longer receive that service, effective the first day of school.
Patton said the parent letter did not include many details about clustering. IEP teams will determine who is eligible, she said.
Patton added that Goakey has found other districts that use clustering and said the district is compiling information about what they are doing.
Eberhart said he has met with Goakey and the general counsel and he is very comfortable with what the district is doing.
“It sounds like we’re doing a good job,” he said. “And it sounds like we’re doing a good job of communicating that to the families.”
When Hansen asked about bus drivers, Goakey asked if she was referring to the FCMAT report. Hansen said she didn’t have the FCMAT report. Hansen said it was important to communicate well with the community regarding transportation changes.
Board approved contract as amended 4-1, with Hansen voting no, due to lack of information about the students being served and the lack of a clearly stated long-term plan for reducing outside transportation contracts and cutting costs.

13.15: Board unanimously approved AA Med Trans contract

13.16: Board unanimously approved Maxim contract

13.17: Board unanimously approved Consolidated Application

13.18: French Honors Course: Info only. Board was advised to direct questions to Rose Lock.

13.19: Creation of Administrative Regulation 5131.2 regarding bullying: Info only, to be approved at next meeting.

13.20: Elimination of overflow busing for students who live less than 5 miles from overflow school (Revision to board policy 5116 – School Attendance Boundaries):

In response to questions from Mayo about students who would be affected by this proposed policy amendment, Lawrence said he would have updated information Wednesday. He said last year, the district had 79 routes and attempted to pick up overflow students on special ed routes or overflow routes. He said the district is looking at establishing a 5-mile rule, which would reduce the number of students served. He said the board received a presentation about this in March. (However, this was not referenced in his staff report for this item.) He did not mention the FCMAT findings and recommendations related to overflow busing.
For the next meeting, Hansen said she wants a list of overflow schools, the number of overflow buses per school and the number of overflow students per school. She said she has heard concerns that this policy might affect socio-economically disadvantaged students and schools hardest.

13.21: Future board action agenda items:

Board candidate Brian Lawrence said he hoped the district would measure the success of principals by how many are still principals rather than by how many have become district administrators. He mentioned district PowerPoints, then said some have suggested the public doesn’t ask enough questions. He asked the board: “Are we providing enough information and are we informing the public?”

Whitmarsh said the board president and superintendent set the agenda. However, this agenda item was being presented to get an idea of whether other board members would be interested in seeing items presented this way for consideration on future board agendas. She said there would be no discussion of the individual items listed.

At this, Hansen raised a point of parliamentary order.

Rolen said the item was being presented to achieve some sort of transparency to agenda-setting.

But, Hansen said this should not be a casual, informal proceeding. Instead, she said it should be written up as a bylaw amendment.

Eberhart said it’s perfectly appropriate for the board president and superintendent to set the agenda. He noted, for example, that board benefits had already been discussed at a previous board meeting.

Rolen interjected that Whitmarsh had admonished the board not to discuss individual items.

Hansen questioned Rolen about the need to amend a board bylaw or policy, if trustees are going to change the way they identify future agenda items.

Rolen said his previous comments stood on their own and he declined to elaborate on his position.

Hansen said it appeared that the board was being asked to vote on future agenda items, therefore this new procedure needed to be formalized in writing.

Eberhart said it was an attempt to try to appease the board member who was trying to bring the item to the agenda. However, he said he thought the attempt to honor other board members in this way had failed.

“My recommendation is to move the agenda,” he said.

Mayo asked if his recommendation was to not discuss this item at all.

Eberhart repeated that he wanted to move the agenda.

Mayo said this agenda item was her idea.

“I was the one that suggested that we place the items on the agenda in this manner because a board member has felt that their agenda items were being thwarted,” she said. “I felt we needed to treat all items equally.”

She said the idea was intended to be a pilot.

“It was an attempt to honor your request,” Mayo told Hansen. “You obviously disagree with that process. So if we don’t have your agreement to try it out, that leaves it up to the president and superintendent.”

Hansen said she was not saying the agenda procedure should not change.

“Yes, my items have been blocked,” she said. “And no, I haven’t repeatedly tried to put the same item forward.”

She criticized the current procedure because agenda items are omitted. She reiterated that the proposed procedural change should be a written amendment to the current bylaw. In the absence of of a formal change, she said it appeared the board was being asked to be an advisory body to the president and superintendent.

Mayo said she recalled that Hansen had previously suggested adding “future agenda items” to agendas.

Hansen said she had suggested that, citing CSBA, but the rest of the board had rejected the idea. Although she said Rolen disagreed with her, Hansen repeated that the new procedure should be brought forward as a bylaw change.


Hansen mentioned attending an administrator training. She also said she has had continued discussions with CCTV regarding televising meetings and has suggested that MDHS Digital Safari students might be able to operate the cameras.

Eberhart said: “I can’t imagine who would want to see our meetings on TV.”
He praised the air conditioning installation. He also praised district administrators.
“Our staff continues to be accessible and informative when we have questions for them,” he said. “I get answers.”

Mayo said she attended the district’s “Leadership Institute.” She also mentioned that Comcast is offering cut rates for families of students who qualify for free and reduced lunches. Lawrence said he has sent information about this to some sites, but will get it out to all campuses.

Whitmarsh thanked staff for work to get schools ready for students, who will return next week.

Dennler did not make a report.

Here is a link to the meeting audio:

Here’s a link to my story about the meeting:

Do you think the district should pursue televising its meetings?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

142 Responses to “MDUSD 8-20-12 meeting”

  1. Doctor J Says:

    Lame-Duck Egohart is bound and determined, at whatever the cost, to punish the voters in the next three months. Monday night we will see which candidates step up to call on the Board to withhold action to tie their hands.

  2. Doctor J Says:

    Can you believe they are still sending emails about Monday’s potluck. Here is the attitude: “Always a SASSy party to be had!” If SASS spent that much time coaching the principals . . . instead hire a consultant.

  3. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: This is true. The public is still awaiting notice of Browne’s employment status.
    I have sent an email to Julie Braun-Martin asking whether Browne’s leave of absence has been finalized.

  4. g Says:

    Perhaps this would be a good time to revisit the story and comments from this site on 3/12/12.

    Note in the description of what they will do at Meadow Homes is “3. Working with a leadership data coach.”

    Note comments #6 and #11 from **Anon. Who did the translations? Was in Marisol Padilla (AIS) or Evalina Villa–both very highly paid and on two-hour minimum contracts.

    And then of course, I complained about spending a heap of money (to supplement the many highly paid doctorate degrees already in the district) by bringing in talking heads from outside the district to “feed the machine” which is, I fear, the true reason for SIG grants in the first place–Feed the machine–and if kids happen to improve their education somewhere along the way; well, that’s good too.

  5. g Says:

    How will Mildred Browne be spending her “Leave of Absence?” Well, unless there is a change of plans, in November she will be in Tennessee (as will her recently promoted side-kick Linda Hutcherson), speaking at the National Alliance of Black School Educators:

    “Response to Intervention:
    Connecting the Triangle
    Dr. Mildred D. Browne,
    Linda Hutcherson, Lavinia Henlon,
    Adria Angelo”

    In the mean time, we’ll hire from outside the district someone who can teach the folks at Meadow Homes how to use “Response to Intervention.”


  6. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I believe that Angelo is a former district employee and Henlon is a school psychologist.
    Hopefully, Hutcherson is sharing her insights with district schools when she’s not taking time off to talk about the district’s successes with RTI at national conferences.
    Perhaps this team could do a board presentation about RTi during a future superintendent’s report to enlighten the public about how well this is working in MDUSD.

  7. Doctor J Says:

    Looks like Mildred and Linda will get to appear before the California Fair Political Practices Commission and explain the receipt of their “honorariums” [and don’t forget the airplane fare, meals and hotels, unless MDUSD is paying for those — I wonder how much the fine will be ? 🙂 “No member of a state board or commission and no designated employee of a state or local government agency shall accept an honorarium from any source if the member or employee would be required to report the receipt of income or gifts from that source on his or her statement of economic interests.”
    Government Code Section 89502(c)
    Don’t worry Greg might show up with you to explain why you haven’t taken the Ethics Course mandated by AB 1234.

  8. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Would this also apply to Catania’s contract? Obviously, she’s getting paid way more than an honorarium.

  9. Doctor J Says:

    Good idea TH, its been so successful these ladies have led MDUSD to be designated two years in a row as a “Disproportionate District” and now sanctioned by the state. Maybe that’s what “closing the triangle” means, eh ?

  10. Doctor J Says:

    @#108. Yup. She hides her income in Nevada.

  11. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I don’t recall any board presentation about this sanction. Isn’t this something the public should be informed about?

  12. Doctor J Says:

    TH, you might ask Julie B-M if attendence at this Nashville conference qualifies at Personal Necessity Days under the MDUSD definition ?

  13. Doctor J Says:

    I suggest a PRA request to BOTH the CDE and MDUSD on all communications to MDUSD about being designated “disproportionate”.

  14. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The board is also going to discuss the creation of a public information officer. Do you think that person would inform the public about such important developments in the district?

  15. Doctor J Says:

    G gave us the link to March 12, 2012 blog in Post 104. See my post at #38 at 8:12 am: “Here is a quote from Mildred’s email as quoted by Billy Bob nearly a year ago in the blog: “Sue Peterson, James Wogan and Felicia Stuckey Smith and I attended this meeting. Dr. Mary Bacon also attended. The meeting and presentations provided training to districts to assist districts in developing strategies so the districts will not be cited as being ” significantly disproportionate”. If we are found to be ” significantly disproportionate” then we will be subject to the loss of 15 percent of our special education funding. . . . Our presentation was well received. We all left the training better prepared to continue our work in this area.
    Thanks Mildred
    Mildred Browne, Ed.D.
    Assistant Superintendent”
    What were the results ? MDUSD again this year was named as “Significantly disproportionate”. MDUSD scored worse in the EdTrustWest report card than last year, worse than any district in CoCo County and third from the very worst.”

    Mildred, does this qualify you to speak at Nashville about “Connecting the Triangle” ???

  16. g Says:

    Theresa, I was hoping you would pick up on the other two going to TN. Adria retired, but then picked up a cool $67K as a “substitute principal” at Mount last year. Good job of the principals’ work being done at Mount–NOT MUCH!

  17. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Why did Mount need a “substitute principal” when it had McClatchy there full-time?

  18. Billy Bob Says:

    I have other interesting emails back and forth with an associate of mine and the BOE regarding the infamous trip to Sacramento (3 days and nights at the MARRIOTT) for a 1.5 day conference.

    Mayo and Whitmarsh were particularly supportive of the “need” for these individuals to have some R&R because they have worked so hard and done so much for the distirct.

  19. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Breaking away from this thread, we have an update regarding the tragic killing of a Woodside Elementary student and her father by an Olympic HS student in a traffic accident last spring:

  20. g Says:

    In her April 2012 report in Special Edition, Browne says: “The State Department of Education Review is finally complete. Last year, Mt. Diablo was non-compliant in
    642 areas. The good news is that we are compliant, and we have successfully updated all student records and amended system regulations to meet state requirements.
    As discussed in the January Special EDition issue, we continue to work on the high-priority issues of equity and disproportionality with the help of a grant. A survey was distributed throughout the district, and responses are being reported to the Equity Task Force.”

    Ah, but are responses being shared with the public? Is this just another Another Grant going, going, gone outside the district?

  21. g Says:

    Theresa #117; sorry, the Times salary report actually says “Substitute Administrator,” not substitute principal—minor difference?

  22. Doctor J Says:

    @#118, Please Billy Bob, forget the tease and just share the whole emails. Let the public be the judge of the rationale.

  23. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: It could be for a variety of administrators — hard to know.
    Regarding the Equity Advisory Team, this information needs to be made public. When consultants generate reports, then only share them privately with select groups, the public is not getting its money’s worth.

  24. Jim Says:

    @108 — It would seem to apply to Catania’s contract, but that would be a matter for the Fresno County OoE to determine. My suspicion is that these gigs-on-the-side are actually pretty common. (One thing that always surprised me, working with public school districts, was how “ethically challenged” many of the employees could be. They literally couldn’t imagine that there was anything wrong with behavior that, in most companies, would get you fired in a NY minute.)
    @110 — I don’t believe that Catania is necessarily “hiding” her income from the MDUSD contract in Nevada. She probably just doesn’t want to pay state taxes on the income, and as we know, NV doesn’t levy a state income tax. Just because one’s income comes entirely from CA state taxpayers doesn’t mean that one must pay such state taxes oneself 😉
    @115 — We are going to be hearing a LOT more about Significant Disproportion in the coming years, particularly if Pres. Obama is re-elected. From what one hears from Arne Duncan and others in the Dept of Ed, they intend to place much greater scrutiny on disproportionate representation of minorities in many areas of public education — special ed classification, discipline actions, and even participation in advanced offerings such as “accelerated”, honors, and AP courses. Districts such as MDUSD do NOT want to be standing in front of that freight train waving a flag that says, “We are already WAY over the line here!” At least, not if they can possibly avoid it.

  25. Doctor J Says:

    Mildred says in Special Edition, Jan 2012: “district Equity Advisory Team, which is being co-chaired by Felicia Stuckey-Smith, Director of Student Services, and Susan Petersen, Director of Elementary Support.
    The team includes representatives of the Board of Education,district and school staff, and community representatives and parents, including the Special Education Community Advisory Committee (CAC).”
    Seems like that is a Board created committee, subject ot the Brown Act, and once a Board member gets the report — already happened — its a Public Record. Another PRA request for your list Theresa.

  26. Doctor J Says:

    Well Jim, if she does the job in California, but owns a company in Nevada, it still should be charged to her California Income Tax. Maybe the California Taxing authorities should audit her.

  27. Doctor J Says:

    @Jim #124 — The flag MDUSD will waive is “we need another grant” to get us out of this problem we created. What color do you think that flag ought to be ?

  28. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Perhaps this could be addressed as part of the superintendent’s evaluation, which includes this target:

    “Provide the Board with the legal implications of creating a feedback mechanism for school staff (classified, certificated, administrators), students, parents/guardians, and district staff to provide feedback around school and district climate. The goal of the feedback tool is to identify areas we are doing well and areas of growth. It is not meant to be an evaluative tool.”

    What legal implications could there be? Other districts such as San Ramon survey the public. Why should it be a problem in MDUSD?

  29. Doctor J Says:

    Has anyone compared the Supt’s 12-13 self proclaimed “board agreed” evaluation targets with what he set as his own goals previously ?

  30. g Says:

    This all goes back to two (current) things.

    1) The latest contract approved last week with Mary Bacon, who holds her speaking business in Hillsborough, but her Art Gallery, (Images of Culture) in San Mateo, (but who, coincidentally, also maintains an address in Las Vegas–for income tax purposes maybe)?

    2) When Hansen asked to have Board Accountability on all contracts, the “majority” chose to consider it for items of $100K and above only. They may be slippery, but not really stupid.

  31. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Carolyn Patton has released a transportation update on the CAC blog:

  32. anonawhat Says:

    @Dr. J #127: i think the color of the flag should be white: “we surrender”; because they’ll be surrendering soon once the Lawrence posse is exposed.
    In regards to RTI, it sickened me that Lawrence spoke to this training for site administrators at the last Board Meeting; as if, “everything is now okay in meeting student needs”. My son is in need of RTI, but just because administrators have had the training does not mean that the union-driven teachers will implement what was advised at the inservice the administrators attended. Too bad that teachers won’t implement what is in the best interest of the students rather than what is in their best interest or their union’s best interest. what I’m looking into and what the rest of the public should also be looking into is: “why the grand exodus of administrators and teachers?” an additional 8 new elementary principals this year? I’ve tried to speak personally to the principal at my son’s school and my daughter’s school, but both principals avoid the conversation and look fearful when i ask this question…

  33. Jim Says:

    @126 — Dr. J, small point, but I don’t believe that Catania — or rather Doctor Catania (keep forgetting that!!) — is the actual vendor. The vendor is Strategies of Success, which is domiciled in NV, where it books its revenue from contracts like the one with MDUSD and where it pays taxes. If that company decides to pay procedes out to Dr. Catania, then she’ll have to pay CA taxes on whatever is paid out to her. But my guess is that she leaves the money in the company to the extent possible. (People love to speculate about Mitt Romney’s taxes, but in my experience during 10 years in corporate finance, working with lots of high net worth individuals, it is usually the smaller business owners who play games on their taxes. They operate well below the radar, compared to all the household name multi-millionaires, who need to be pretty careful.)

  34. Doctor J Says:

    Lawrence’s District Goals were approved Sept 28, 2010, and never updated.
    Lawrence’s proposal sor “Superintendent’s Evaluation Targets 2012-2013” to be considered by the Board on August 27, 2012 differ as follows:
    Eliminated Elementary Target 4 for schools under 800 API to “implement benchmark assessments in language arts and math and develop intervention plans based on the quarterly common assessment results.

    Eliminated Middle School Target 3 for schools under 800 API to “implement benchmark assessments in in each core subject area and develop intervention plans based on the common assessment results. Hmmm. Doing assessment testing in middle schools ??

    Lawrence left Target 3 “blank” for High School Graduation Rates — another great proof reading job Steve and others who “signed off” on this agenda item.

    Prior High School Target 4 for schools under 800 API to “implement district benchmark assessments in each core subject area and develop intervention plans based on the common assessment results.” Hmmmm. Since you were in a High School District in Roseville, I am not sure why you put that in.

    New Target 4 [formerly Target 5] for High Schools: Added new B to list — others remained the same.

    So Steve, how did you do for your first two years on your performance targets ?

    Other targets:

    Dumbed down internal communications from School Support and Personnel from weekly updates to monthly to board members.

    Dumbed down external communications from “twice monthly” to parents and staff to “during school year monthly newsletters”

    Eliminated creation of Board calendar with all events posted.

    For all of those many hours of “Superintendent’s Evaluation” in Closed sessions, I wonder what took so long ?

  35. Doctor J Says:

    @Jim#133 Nice pick-up Jim. The W-9 says its an “S Corp” with a California address but apparently incorporated in Nevada. I will rely on your analysis.

  36. Anon Says:

    I don’t think Ms. Patton understands what “Stakeholders” really are. She will continue to work with Rolen and the CAC but she has not reached out to the parents (with exception to the ill planned letters)

  37. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a blog post that shows how MDUSD compared to other districts in the county on the CAHSEE results (as well as how it improved from 2011 to 2012):

  38. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here are two blog posts about Monday’s meeting:

    – one about the KVHS vote:

    – and one about virtually everything else:

  39. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Regarding the Susan Hukkanen rumor, a search of the Butte County Office of Ed. website turns up her name, with no job specified:

  40. Theresa Harrington Says:

    This is unrelated to this thread, but WCPD has arrested a man on suspicion of lewd activities at WC Elem. School:
    Video surveillance assisted in the arrest. Do all MDUSD schools have video cameras?

  41. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a blog post about the special education update, which includes more information from Lorrie Davis and another document I got from FCMAT:

  42. Doctor J Says:

    @139 I guess Roger got her another job. She was pretty outspoken about being passed over several times in SASS while other people were selected for the Director positions.

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