Part of the Bay Area News Group

MDUSD 9-10-12

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, September 10th, 2012 at 6:48 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Strategic Planning input session got underway a bit late.
Board President Sherry Whitmarsh invited public and staff to vote to prioritize items on the draft strategic plan using red dots.
Participants include board candidate Debra Mason, John Parker, a member of the Pleasant Hill Education Commission, a parent, Felicia Stuckey-Smith, Carolyn Patton and Jonathan Roselin.
Whitmarsh said the CAC will have the opportunity to place dots on the draft at its Oct. 2 meeting.
Each person gets 15 dots to place three under each of the five areas of the strategic plan.

Regular meeting has begun

Board unanimously adopted consent agenda

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  • Wait a Minute

    Anon@98,
    Could you please post the Ca Dpt Ed phone number here that you reference regarding Spc Ed Safeguards that people should call when “Team Lawrence/Rolen” tries to drop the mandated transportation for their vulnerable Spc Ed qualified children?

    If “Team Lawrence/Rolen” ckeeps this up I could see a new Spc Ed Consent Decree happening!

  • SR

    @ Anon #98. Agreed! I will make my best effort to attend CAC meetings as I agree that until SPED parents begin to show up in force, the District will continue to do what it wants and the CAC will remain powerless without more support from it’s own community. The rub is that many SPED parents have a myriad of issues to deal with in order to attend a meeting (child care, other obligations, and sometimes just too tired!). Not to mention the number of parents I have run across who just don’t want to “rock the boat”. How do we get the word out and rally SPED parents? How do we get significant numbers of parents involved in the CAC and make it meaningful and a powerful influence with the District? I hope that once people get fired up, they will join in and the District will have to acknowledge the concerns of the Special Ed Community. As mentioned, I too fear retaliation by the district in terms of my children’s placements and services (They are both at NPS schools due to District’s inability to meet their educational needs). Beyond transportation, there are soooo many issues within the SPED department that need parent input(and could also save the District $$ if they would listen to the parents!)

  • Theresa Harrington

    Parents could also show up at the Monday Strategic Plan meeting and board meeting to weigh in on top district priorities and comment on the FCMAT report, which is item 13.2 on the agenda: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=5909&mtgId=349

  • SR

    @Wait A Minute #101:

    California Department of Education
    Special Education Division
    Procedural Safeguards Referral Service
    1430 N Street, Suite 2401
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Telephone: 800-926-0648
    Fax: 916-327-3704

    Or Alternately DREDF will take on a class action law suit if there are enough parents willing to file together:

    All questions and requests for information about DREDF can be directed to our main office in California:

    Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
    3075 Adeline Street, Suite 210
    Berkeley, CA 94703

    510.644.2555 v
    510-841-8645 fax/tty
    info@dredf.org

  • Wait a Minute

    Thanks SR!

    There you go Spc Ed parents. Please call both the Dpt of Ed and DREDF and lets Rock This Boat!

    I think this info should also be put on the VOTE NO ON WHITMARSH! website.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#103 Where is the FCMAT report on Special Education ? That is just the report on Transportation, and is just part of the contract.

  • Doctor J
  • Doctor J

    How close are Brian Lawrence, Gary Eberhart and Sherry Whitmarsh ? Just check out who are “facebook friends” ! Just saying. Start with Sherry — her page is less restricted.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Dr. J: Supt. Lawrence has not yet announced when he will release the special ed. report. Hopefully, he will reveal that during the transportation presentation.
    I’m a little unclear on what you mean by “just the report on transportation.” Since this is the first time this has ever been publicly presented, this is the public’s first opportunity to hear from Lawrence about the district’s transportation plans and to comment on them.

  • Anon

    Sherry did not have a good day on Thursday.

    First, she revealed she had no idea of Robert’s Rules of Order when she claimed she couldn’t make a motion to support Prop. 30. Robert’s Rules makes allowances for the chair to debate and make motions in boards of less than 12. Even if the board were larger the chair could relinquish the gavel and put forward a motion. She didn’t want to support Prop. 30 so she made up an excuse.

    Second. she tacitly admitted to violating the Brown Act when she talked about voting on Prop. 30 and 38. By saying she was surprised that Dennler and Hansen didn’t move to support it she didn’t admit to any surprise that Linda and Gary were not. She already knew that Linda and Gary were not going to support the Prop. 30 resolution. Oops, serial communication.

    Thirdly, she revealed she failed to appropriately report out a vote taken by the board in close session. That was compounded when she revealed the name of an employee and the employee’s issue discussed in that same close session in violation of that employee’s right to confidentiality.

  • Doctor J

    The Minutes of Sept 10 to be approved do NOT MATCH with the posted Sept 10 Agenda as to items 15.6 and 15.7. Impossible. “Pulling” an item from a posted agenda does not “erase” the item. It just means it was not discussed or acted upon.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#109 The alleged FCMAT report on Transportation was publicly posted by the district, but Lawrence instructed FCMAT not to post the report, in violation of their protocal. You previously reported that FCMAT would post the report on its website when the report was “final” — which it states, but it still is not posted. Why not ? Please ask FCMAT and the person that gave you that information.

  • Doctor J

    @Anon#110. Please ask District Attorney Peterson why he is not investigation that closed session leaks, as he did when he directed his minions to investigate Cheryl Hansen.

  • Anon

    I sent in a request to have DA Mark Peterson invetigate Sherry Whitmarsh for revelaing closed session information.

    I also sent a request to MDEA to file a grievance for having a board member reveal personnel information to the public.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Whitmarsh has shown in the past that she was willing to make a motion, even when no one else was willing to second it. She moved to extend the contracts for the superintendent and other administrators through June, 2015 on April 23: http://www.mdusd.org/boe/Documents/minutes/2012/04-23-12.pdf
    This motion died for lack of a second. So, she appears to have known all along that she was allowed to make a motion.

    Whitmarsh told me that — contrary to what some people think — she does not communicate with other board members in violation of the Brown Act. However, I did note that she did not mention any surprise about Eberhart not moving to endorse Prop. 30. She said she had not spoken to Mayo about Prop. 30, but understood why Mayo may have not wanted to endorse it. So, she did not tacitly admit to violating the Brown Act, since she did not know that Mayo wouldn’t vote for it and she didn’t say anything about Eberhart.

    Based on my conversation with Guy Moore last night, he said the board voted to approve the MOU on Sept. 10. So, I will follow up with Whitmarsh about why she did not report that out. In looking at my notes, she did not use Preciado’s name. She said: “The board had to vote about how to handle teachers on leave.” However, Brian Lawrence mentioned Preciado’s name during the forum.

  • Brian Lawrence

    Theresa- I was the one who mentioned Jessica Preciado by name, but I was not there when she spoke to the Board. I saw the video of her remarks and have spoken to several people to learn more about her situation. When the online video of the forum appears, I’ll check to make sure I did not state something incorrectly.

    I’m not aware of any Board action that has been taken to rectify Jessica Preciado’s situation. From everything I have seen and heard, the District has handled this situation ineptly. Treating employees with respect and dignity is paramount. Many of the teachers I have spoken to say they understand pay raises are hard to come by right now, but what matters even more to them is how they are treated.

    Dr. J, if you’d like to be Facebook friends, just send me a request!

  • Theresa Harrington

    Brian, I will amend my comment to reflect that you were not at the board meeting when she spoke. I don’t think you stated anything incorrectly. My notes had a few gaps in them, since I was trying to write quickly and I wasn’t using my laptop.

    Were you surprised when Whitmarsh mentioned the resolution?

  • Theresa Harrington

    CAC is urging parents to show up at FCMAT presentation: http://bit.ly/QIwRD6

    Also, I understand that MDEA is hosting a press conference tomorrow officially announcing its endorsement of Brian Lawrence and Barbara Oaks.

  • Theresa Harrington

    As an aside, MDHS is seeking a temporary French teacher until the permanent teacher returns: https://www.edjoin.org/viewPosting.aspx?postingID=450054&countyID=7&onlineApp=1

    I wonder if there will be adequate French materials, after the Williams Complaint that was filed.

  • anon

    @SR #103: there’s nothing that prohibits you from passing out flyers in front of any MDUSD school (as long as you’re on the sidewalk) that make parents aware of how Lawrence/Rolen are interfering with their Parental Rights in regards to transportation. While passing out these flyers, ask each parent to share with 5 other parents the ramifications if they do not call the state and report that their parental rights are being taken from them. Grass roots causes are VERY effective; parents at school sites talk, and if even one parent shares that they’ve contacted the state regarding forced dismissal of transportation and gets just one more parent to call, there will be at least 100 calls to the state in regards to this cause. You might even consider blowing off the CAC Meeting (where have these meetings been helpful?), and go straight to the state.

  • Theresa Harrington

    One value of the CAC meetings is that district administrators and board members are there to hear and respond to concerns raised by parents. It’s not like a board meeting, where no one responds to questions. The CAC is more of a round table and questions are actually answered.

  • anon

    @SR: #103-I agree with anon #102: the superintendent assumes that parents of Special Ed students are stupid. DON’T ATTEND THE CAC MEETING (as Dr. Phil says: “how’s that working for you?”), instead, CALL THE STATE.

  • Theresa Harrington

    FYI, the CBOC agenda and quarterly reports have been posted on the Measure C website: http://mdusdmeasurec.org/
    Also, FYI, I won’t be able to attend.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here’s my county Teacher of the Year awards story: http://bit.ly/ScEl4v

  • soooo frustrated

    Re: #118 MDEA also supported Eberhart/Whitmarsh

  • Anon

    So Frus,

    You’re right but Brian Lawrence can’t be any worse than Eberhart and Whitmarsh.

  • Doctor J

    @Theresa, so who was the big MDUSD contingent at the Teacher of the Year awards ? Was the Supt there ?

  • Anon

    Regarding the CAC…..Here is the Rub. People are afraid of retaliation for going against the grain. Who attends the CAC? District officials that report back to Lawrence if he himslf is not there.
    Also, Was it not the CAC members that stood up against the Charter and said something like all the IEP’s would be gone? Who in their right mind could sit in a room with the very people who don’t know how it works or were just going along with what Lawrence told them to say?

    As for me, I did attend a CAC meeting when my child was first diagnoised. My opinion was not good. I felt like I was in a room with people who were all insiders and I was an outsider. I did not feel welcome. It very well could have been just me but I think I have a pretty good radar when it comes to this.

    I have also filed a State complaint. Complaints do get handeled but it takes time. There are many many complaints with the state and I would suggest that people keep filing. I am not sure if anything will come of it but we should keep using what we have.

    One last thing. If anyone wants to organize a meeting of parents about SP. ED. and/or Bussing I would be there. I just cant organize it. If that person that does the organizing gives their information to Theresa to release to me I will put them in touch with a great attorney that is gearing up for Class Actions all over the state.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Anon: I don’t know how long ago you attended a CAC meeting, but my impression is that the group is currently very welcoming of parents. In fact, they have a committee that is actively going to schools and passing out fliers to let parents know about the group.
    Yes, some CAC members did express concerns about the charter. I have also heard from Pat Middendorf that the district sent two different sets of letters to parents regarding the charter. The one for regular ed students encouraged parents to enroll their children in other district schools, Middendorf said. The one for special ed parents, on the other hand, encouraged parents to enroll their students in the charter, she said. So, it appears that the district intentionally tried to steer special ed students to the charter while discouraging regular ed students from attending the charter.
    I was surprised that there was not more direct communication between the charter and the CAC.

    Dr. J: The MDUSD contingent was very spread out. MDUSD Teacher of the Year Mona Lisa Ricard had a table of supporters from Sequoia Elementary. I also saw a former MDUSD Teacher of the Year Mrs. Moore, who is a retired Sequoia MS science teacher.
    Next to Ricard’s table, Superintendent Steven Lawrence and assistant supts. Rose Lock and Julie Braun-Martin were sitting with some other people (I couldn’t see everyone). Trustee Cheryl Hansen was sitting at the adjacent table with Contra Costa County Office of Ed. people.
    Board President Sherry Whitmarsh was on the other side of the room sitting next to Sue Berg at a table with other people I didn’t recognize (or couldn’t see from where I was sitting).
    I was at a table with one of the WCCUSD teachers of the year. Although MDUSD also could have selected two teachers of the year (like WCCUSD and San Ramon), it only chose one this year.
    Lawrence parked across the street instead of utilizing the valet parking, saving district taxpayers $8. The dinner cost $45.
    One amusing moment came when County Supt. Joe Ovick asked all supts and administrators to stand, so the rest of the room could applaud. Afterwards, he joked: “Wasn’t that nice?” He said superintendents are not used to receiving applause. He then told about one of his own doctor’s visits where he was told that superintendents don’t have hearts.

  • Doctor J

    HOw interesting that Sue Berg and Sherry Whitmarsh were together ? Birds of a feather stay together.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I don’t know how the seating assignments were determined.

    Here is a blog post about upcoming election forums in MDUSD and WCCUSD: http://bit.ly/Vpz6hP

  • Hell Freezing Over

    TH @131:
    The Teacher of the Year Awards Dinner (a gala affair according to the cccoe site) states the Contra Costa Newspapers, Inc. sponsors the dinner, and the cost of the dinner for each of the TOY and three (3) of their guests.

    You stated Lawrence parking across the street ended up “saving district taxpayers $8″. Did we pay for his and other MDUSD attendees $45 meals? Did we pay their milage? How many MDUSD staff / board members other than Lawrence & Whitmarsh attended?

    Why are the taxpayers paying for valet parking (and possibly food, milage) for district staff/board members to attend this event?

  • Theresa Harrington

    I would guess that the taxpayers will foot the bill for the $45 meals for Lawrence and the other admins that attended. I believe Lawrence’s contract states that he is not reimbursed for mileage within a 75-mile radius of the district.
    I don’t know if Whitmarsh and Hansen will seek reimbursement. Former Trustee Dick Allen has told me in the past that he used his monthly stipend to pay for such events.
    This is an event that superintendents are expected to attend to represent their districts and show support for their district teachers of the year. It appeared that the teachers of the year used their guest dinners for family members.
    I don’t know who decides who else gets to attend at the taxpayers’ expense. In the past, Trustee Gary Eberhart suggested cutting down on these types of expenses to save money, but the board never followed through on the idea of limiting expenses for conferences, dinners, etc.
    Many district representatives also routinely attend annual Mayors’ luncheons at the district’s expense, I believe.
    If Prop. 30 fails, perhaps the board may reconsider limiting these expenses.
    Speaking of which, the fallout from MDUSD’s failure to endorse Prop. 30 is continuing. Guy Moore said he is hoping to get it back on the agenda because board members now appear to realize it was politically unwise not to endorse it. Plus, it hurts students and parents who will be scramling to find daycare, if they are faced with the loss of 11 days of instruction, he said.
    Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, who is hosting a Prop. 30 rally in Todos Santos Plaza with MDEA, said she wouldn’t comment on the board’s decision to endorse Prop. 38, but not Prop. 30.
    Moore said he could understand that since Dennler was in Hawaii, she may not have felt comfortable making the motion to endorse Prop. 30. But, he was stunned when no one else moved to support it.
    At the MDEA rally for Brian Lawrence and Barbara Oaks this morning, Mike Noce said Board President Sherry Whitmarsh’s failure to move to support Prop. 30 showed lack of leadership. Some members of the public do not appear to be persuaded by her rationale that she didn’t think it was appropriate for her to make the motion, since she was president, under Roberts Rules of Order.

  • Doctor J

    Lets see, Eberhart, Whitmarsh and Lawrence have taken the position that once on the agenda, it cannot be on the agenda again. That makes another Prop 30 vote impossbile. Will they violate their principles for votes ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Dr. J: That’s a good point. In fact, that’s the reason Whitmarsh and Lawrence have refused to bring back some of Hansen’s proposed agenda items, including revisiting board benefits. If they bring back Prop. 30, they should also bring back board benefits.

  • Hell Freezing Over

    Re: agenda items only being allowed to show up once.

    Incredibly asinine and petty policy on the part of a few bullies on the board and staff.

    An agenda item addresses real or perceived issues. Those issues don’t go away after one discussion (or lack of). Instead of addressing the issue at hand, and discussing it like knowledgable adults, these grown ups act like 5 year olds who dont like what another has to say at the expense of our students, teachers and community. Shameful.

  • g

    Theresa–#123: I am not able to check in much lately, as ‘life happens’ when we least expect it, but a couple of items need to be delved into by someone.

    Page 15 of the CBOC quarterly report:

    1. Addition of $116,342.67 in interest revenue allocated in Program 000, object code 8660, interest.
    Interest revenue includes all interest up to June 30, 2012.
    2. Deduction of $853,110.68 for the Bond Issuance cost from Program 000, object code 5871,
    Escalation & Estimating Contingency and added to Program 000, object code 5449, Bond
    Issuance.

    The questions: 1) Program Code 000 is for ‘What exactly?’

    2) Object Codes 8660, 5871 and 5449 are (now) for what exactly?’

    5871, for example, currently states it is “Contracted Parent Transportation.”

    MDUSD chart of accounts has not been updated in YEARS, and much of the money shifting is impossible to properly trace.

    NEXT question: Why does the Program Contingency and Escalation Report (pg24) STILL not give a running total for how much the MDUSD Program Staff cost is???? They want us to run our own totals from two or three separate project reports on 55 or so individual site reports???

    Don’t we pay that cabal enough to have them give us a summary total every 3-4 months???

  • Anon

    G,

    What you are missing is that John Ferrante and Pete Pedersen are as much willing participants in the cabal as are Eberhart and Whitmarsh.

    They care nothing of students only the lining of their own pockets.

  • Seriously…

    Speaking of school bonds, a huge story broke this morning about Poway Unified’s misuse of bond premium to pay cost of issuance and prior debt. Poway Unified failed to provide any evidence or documentation showing that their use of bond premium was legitimate. If Poway can’t produce such evidence, what exactly did our Board obtain that would justify MDUSD’s use of bond premium to pay cost of issuance? See this story at:

    http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/education/article_2dfa8c46-05cb-11e2-b3d5-001a4bcf887a.html

  • Theresa Harrington

    It appears that Poway felt justified because the attorney general didn’t sue the district. Maybe that’s what MDUSD is waiting for, as well.

  • Wait a Minute

    I say we don’t wait on the MDUSD board majority and “Team Lawrence/Rolen” to screw up this district anymore then they already have and THROW THE BUMS OUT!

    Please tell all your friends to VOTE NO ON WHITMARSH!

  • Seriously…

    @140 Theresa…I completely agree. As long as there are no consequences, MDUSD and other school districts like Poway will employ unethical and possibly illegal schemes to extract/extort cash at the expense of taxpayers. Schools must realize that although they may not have their day in court…they WILL have their day at election time suffering the consequences of a failed Prop. 30, a failed Prop. 38, and failed bond ballot measures.

  • Anon

    As far as I can tell the MDUSD board is suggesting we vote NO on Prop 30, given that they refused to endorse it.

  • Theresa Harrington

    That is certainly the way it appears, especially since they endorsed Prop. 38 and the one with the most votes wins.
    Does this hurt Whitmarsh’s credibility when she says she supports both propositions?
    I wonder if MDUSD board members have been invited to Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla’s “Yes on 30″ rally Oct. 10 in Todos Santos Plaza, featuring former MDUSD teacher-turned-state-Supt. Tom Torlakson: http://bit.ly/PBKcOy
    MDEA’s invitation to the event states: “All students and teachers will take 11 furlough days this school year if Prop 30 does not pass.”
    Curious that a board that purports to put “students first” would not take a position on a proposition that could prevent the loss of up to 11 school days.

  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    My read on the whole Prop 30 refusal was that Hansen outsmarted Ebermarsh and Mayo.

    I suspect the cabal of Eberhart, Whimarsh, and Mayo were going to refuse to vote yes on a Hansen motion to support Prop 30, as a way of publically humiliating her.

    When Hansen didn’t make a motion, the three dumbos of the board didn’t know what to do (hence the stammering lie by Whitmarsh, “well as board president I thought I couldn’t make a motion”).

    Point Hansen!

    VOTE NO ON WHITMARSH!

  • Theresa Harrington

    But why wouldn’t Hansen support it? Aren’t trustees supposed to be making decisions based on what’s best for students?

  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    TH #146,

    “Aren’t trustees supposed to be making decisions based on what’s best for students?”

    Theresa that is the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen on your blog. I suspect that you typed it with tonuge firmly in cheek.

    This board doesn’t give a moments care to what would be best for students.

  • Doctor J

    Here are the Standards establish by the CSBA for School District Board members to govern their districts by. How is MDUSD doing ? http://www.csba.org/~/media/51E3FBB839504700825CB16B7265F3C4.ashx