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Mt. Diablo school board candidate Ernie DeTrinidad drops out of race

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, September 25th, 2012 at 2:31 pm in Education, Election, Mt. Diablo school district.

I have received the following statement from Mt. Diablo school board candidate Ernie DeTrinidad, announcing his decision to withdraw from the race. Please note that he will still be listed on the ballot.

“As residents of the Mt. Diablo school community continue to face really tough challenges, the need to change the makeup of the School Board is without doubt the most important and vital. It is critical for residents to elect new members, members with new ideas, solutions and, most important, new approaches. We must build a more positive, productive, collaborative, and inclusive environment for our students, teachers and district staff, to achieve their very best – because successful students are essential for a healthy and prosperous community.

It is my belief that two candidates offer the Board exactly what is necessary, a genuine passion for positive change. Barbara Oaks and Debra Mason bring educational, community and organizational experience to the table. They are independent, yet can collaborate on creative solutions for the benefit of our students and our community.

We don’t need someone who will use the Board as a stepping-stone in his political pursuits, and falsely labels himself as an educator. We don’t need someone who has had ample opportunity as a current Board member, and yet has failed to lift our School District out of low performance results, instead filling the Board with negativity and distancing the Board from the very communities it serves, alienating District employees and staff.

In order to bolster our opportunity to achieve positive change, I have decided to withdraw from candidacy for School Board. This is a most difficult decision, but one I make in the best interest of our students. Instead I stand ready and ask that our community join me in support of the two best candidates for MDUSD School Board; Barbara Oaks and Debra Mason.

Ernie DeTrinidad
Parent/Candidate for MDUSD School Board”

Do you agree with DeTrinidad’s decision to drop out of the race?

OCT. 15 UPDATE: Here is the link to the CCTV MDUSD candidate forum:

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

145 Responses to “Mt. Diablo school board candidate Ernie DeTrinidad drops out of race”

  1. Doctor J Says:

    Ernie showed a lot of courage and grace in reaching his decision.

  2. Theresa Harrington Says:

    There is more to the story. There is a small group forming that is working to support Mason and Oaks. It includes DeTrinidad, Trustee Cheryl Hansen and Pleasant Hill City Councilman Jack Weir (not acting in his capacity as a councilman), according to Weir. Weir said he also wants to defeat Board President Sherry Whitmarsh and Brian Lawrence.
    Oaks said she is not running on a slate with Lawrence, even though MDEA’s signs list both names. Oaks also said she does not feel like she is running “against” anyone.

  3. Anon Says:

    I hope Ernie runs for election in 2014. I will be one of the first to endorse him.A true gentleman; a man of honor. Ernie, you are a good and decent person.

  4. teacher Says:

    I fully supported Ernie’s candidacy for School Board and I will fully support the candidates he recommends. He truly listened, asked questions and learned. His goal is to provide our students the education that they need and deserve. He is an honorable man.

  5. Jack Weir Says:

    Mr. DeTrinidad’s selfless and courageous act deserves respect. His decision to throw his support behind Barbara Oaks and Debra Mason reinforces the need to provide fresh new independent leadership for a district board that is mired in negativity and secrecy.
    Incumbent Whitmarsh is responsible for much of the dysfunctionality on the current board, and candidate Lawrence has been deceptive in claiming that his primary occupation is “educator,” insulting the professional staff in the district.

  6. Anon Says:

    I would like to pose a question to candidate Brian Lawrence, he has claimed on many occasions that he is not a part of the cabal currently running the board (Eberhart and Whitmarsh).

    Would he be willing to publically denounce the Whitmarsh candidacy?

    If so, I would vote for him as he seems highly intelligent. If not, I suspect he is just the “chosen” replacement for the unelectable Eberhart and will be every bit the tyrant that Ebermarsh is.

  7. Anon Says:

    I would like for Brian Lawrence to explain how he is an “educator” and how he determined that is his primary occupation.

  8. Brian Lawrence Says:

    I wish Ernie the best of luck in his future efforts. I’ve only met him briefly, but have heard many good things about the work he is doing in the community.

    #7- I am a technology executive and I am a paid instructor at a vocational school. I’ve stated this in my ballot statement, on my campaign literature, to Theresa Harrington when she asked me and on this blog. Here is the line from the state worksheet that guided my designation:

    ” (3) No more than three words designating either the current principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate, or the
    principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate during the calendar year immediately preceding the filing of nomination
    documents. For purposes of this section, all California geographical names shall be considered to be one word. Hyphenated words that
    appear in any generally available standard reference dictionary, published in the United States at any time within the 10 calendar years
    immediately preceding the election for which the words are counted, shall be considered as one word. Each part of all other
    hyphenated words shall be counted as a separate word.”

    #6 I understand your anger and frustration with the current Board, but I won’t denounce Ms. Whitmarsh’s candidacy or anyone else’s. That’s not the kind of campaign I am going to run. I’m happy to speak about the areas of policy where I differ from the Board or other candidates, but I won’t be attacking anyone personally.

  9. #6 Here Says:

    Ok Brian,

    I see from your carefully worded statement that the politician in you is dominant.

    To go along with your willingness to speak of areas where you differ from the board:

    Exactly where would your policies differ from Ms. Whimarsh?

  10. anon Says:

    Mr. Lawrence,

    It certainly doesn’t appear that you could possibly justify describing the work that you say that you have done as an “educator” as your principal profession. Come on now, you are in your 40’s or something and how many classes have you actually taught? Are you teaching a class now? How many hours a week?

    At least be honest and just say that you put “educator” down as your profession because you saw that it got Lynne Dennler elected and you wanted to follow in her footsteps. The difference of course is that Ms. Dennler actually is an educator.

    So before you are even on the Board you are, at best, bending the truth. Frankly I’m surprised that the teacher’s union would endorse someone who would do such a thing. Just what we need.

  11. MD Educator Says:

    Perhaps Mr. Lawrence should also have read the “Guidelines for Basic Test for Acceptable Ballot Designations”.
    Those guidelines ask:
    1) Is it true?
    2) Is is accurate?
    3) Does it mislead?
    4) Is it generic? ( This means “IBM” is unacceptable, “Computer Company Manager” is acceptable.)
    5.Is it neutral?(This means not for or against.)
    6. Is this how this person makes a living?
    A cursory examination of these questions would suggest that Mr. Lawrence is pushing the envelope to address whether his designation is accurate or true. As to whether it misleads, yes, to the average layman, it is misleading. He manages to get through 4 and 5 but then # 6 pops up…Is this how Mr. Lawrence makes a living? How many hours a week does he teach at this vocational school? What percentage of his income comes from his work as an instructor? How long has he been an instructor? During the last election he identified himself as a technology executive.
    Thus, one can conclude his being an instructor has been a more recent undertaking.
    Frankly, I’m unconvinced by Mr. Lawrence’s somewhat tortured and superficial explanation. I also would like to know that when he appeared before my union, MDEA, did he present himself as an educator? Many of my colleagues share my doubts and concerns and while MDEA may endorse him, we, as individual teachers, will not vote for him
    Character counts and Mr. Lawrence, in this instance, failed the first test for being a public servant.
    One final thought…..Mr. Lawrence says he won’t be attacking anyone personally. Mr. Lawrence, when you present himself as an “educator” for political gain, you are personally attacking me as well as every “educator” who has ever committed themselves to the students. Your conceit is no different than that of the pretender who passes himself off as a war hero.

  12. anon Says:

    Brian Lawrence – The political spawn of Whitmarsh and Eberhart.

  13. Anon Says:


    Are you sure? I’m beginning to believe that is the case given his unwillingness to denounce Whitmarsh. But if he is truly anti-Whitmarsh I would vote for him in a second.

  14. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Lawrence did chastise the board for not endorsing Prop. 30 and urged trustees to bring it back. He quoted Dante, saying something like: The hottest place in hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of moral crisis. (I’m not sure if that’s an exact quote, but it’s close.)

  15. anon Says:

    Of course he did TH. He is probably doing everything he can to stay in the good graces of the teacher’s union. They are huge supporters of prop 30 and probably not too pleased with Mr. Lawrence’s ballot designation. It’s going to seem like a long way until the election gets here for Mr. Lawrence when he is going to have to back pedal the whole way there.

  16. Doctor J Says:

    Brian Lawrence has now hid his “friend list” on Facebook, but he has tacitly acknowledged what we know from Sherry & Gary’s friend lists: they are mutual friends. How that plays in politics is still to be seen.

  17. Jack Weir Says:

    Mr. Lawrence’s “lawyerly” response validates the concern many of us share. I discussed this credibility issue with him face-to-face, and he was warned of the offense taken by true educators – see above.
    Barbara Oaks and Debra Mason share four decades of actual in-the-trenches educational experience. Mr. Lawrence’s two-hours-per-week instruction of barbers may qualify him for the governing board of the barber college, but not our public school board.
    His lengthy defense smacks to me of the Eberhardt/Whitmarsh regime, one noted more for its counter-productive divisiveness than its focus on the district’s real challenges. The contrast between Oaks/Mason and Whitmarsh/Lawrence could not be clearer, which is exactly why Ernie DeTrinidad (who I met and greatly admire) bit the bullet and withdrew, throwing his support behind Oaks/Mason.
    I’m going to respect that honorable sacrifice, and shun what appears to be opportunism.

  18. Brian Lawrence Says:

    Dr J- I’ve made no recent change to my Facebook friends list or preferences. I have 717 friends on Facebook- if you want to be one, just send me the request.

    #9, I appreciate the Jedi phrasing. I’ve disagreed with the current Board on the following:

    – Handling of school closure
    – Handling of the Clayton Valley Charter
    – 3 year contract extension for the Superintendent and top administrators
    – Lack of community meetings
    – Top down implementation of strategic planning
    – Vote of no confidence in the principal at MDHS
    – Lack of bathroom accessibility for MDHS students
    – Loss of $1.5 million QEIA funding for MDHS
    – Failure to endorse Prop 30
    – Failure to share info with the public in a timely fashion

    I’ve stated my disagreements on most, if not all, of those matters in public over the last two years.

  19. anon Says:

    TWO HOURS! Brian Lawrence works two hours- TWO HOURS- a week at a barber college and calls himself an educator? When he is called on it, he goes through all sorts of mumbo jumbo to justify his misrepresentation. This guy is so much like Eberhart it’s scary. You can almost hear them having the conversation “Well, Brian, I have a certificate from going to some class on solar power so I’m a solar expert.” “Yeah, Gary, I talk to barbers in a barber school two hours a week so can I be an educator?” “Brian, sounds good to me, go with it Yuk, yuk, yuk.”

    Think about that again – TWO HOURS! All those educators-teachers and administrators, out there who went through those hundreds of hours in graduate school, student teaching, professional development courses to increase skills and move over on the step and column on the salary schedule, taking work home, going through parent conferences, night duties, duties as assigned, etc. are probably sorry they did all that after they learned that all they would have had to do every week is two hours of “talking to barbers” and they would have been “Educators”, at least in Brian Lawrence’s politically jaundiced eyes.

    TWO HOURS! And Lawrence hasn’t even revealed his work year at the barber college. Good grief, that may cover all of two months?

    MD Educator and Mr. Weir make very cogent points. If Lawrence is so disingenuous- read “lie”- about something as basic as what he does for his vocation, why would anyone have reason to trust him to sit on the board and make decisions that affect our children’s education?

    We have had enough of what one writer has called the cabal. I will honor Mr. DeTrinidad’s endorsement and vote for Oaks and Mason and encourage others to take two minutes and cancel out Lawrence’s two hour charade when they vote this November.

  20. Jack Weir Says:

    With the exception of the next to last bullet point In Mr. Lawrence’s most recent post, every single one of these issues has been raised by Trustee Cheryl Hansen, in her lonely struggle to persuade the current board lock-step majority to abandon petty aquabbles, and address actual critical issues confronting the district. Does the term “purloined” occur to other district watchers?
    Ms. Whitmarsh seems fixated on getting through public sessions in the shortest possible time, and Mr. Eberhardt seems motivated solely to squelch any public discussion of matters that may peel back the veil of secrecy that characterizes the Eberhardt/Whitmarsh modus operandi. For example, his petulant demands that discussion of the superintendent’s goals be instantly recessed to closed session, while the public in attendance is left cooling their heels, is telling.
    Candidate Lawrence’s carefully crafted statements peg my “Slick” meter, but avoid any of the questions inquiring minds pose:
    >Why does Dr. Lawrence say, “No report” during the Superintendent’s Report segment of the public board meeting? Are there no issues of importance deserving of comment? 20% drop-out rate? 200 NCLB children showing up at PH Elementary with one day’s notice?
    >Is the Superintendent’s practice of intimidating our principals likely to generate positive outcomes for our kids? Will it encourage quality applicants?
    >Does anyone other than Ms. Hansen care that parents in Pleasant Hill see district administration as an obstacle to the implementation of local school site improvement programs they are willing to finance themselves?
    >Does it make sense that a member of the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee should be forced to pay $250 of her own money for access to public records? Seriously?
    BTW, some have asked: why is a city councilman sticking his nose into another jurisdiction’s business? The answer is painfully simple: no issue is more important to the residents of Pleasant Hill than the quality of our schools. It’s really not about Mr. Eberhardt and Ms. Whitmarsh covering their tracks, or Mr. Lawrence enhancing his future political aspirations. It’s about giving all of our kids the best education we can, and getting the maximum bang for taxpayers dollars. That is the razor sharp focus of Ms. Oaks and Ms. Mason.
    Enough is enough; it’s time to get real.

  21. Doctor J Says:

    @Brian Lawrence. Brian since you are now running for public office, its time to unveil your list of Facebook friends like many people do instead of keeping them secret. The public is entitled to know “who” you consider to be a “friend” — all 717 of them. And BTW, Doctor J does not have, and does not intend to have, a Facebook page. We know of two — Sherry and Gary — and I suspect Paul Strange is there too. Who else ? You say that you are an open book — then open the book !
    PS Theresa, could you establish a protocol so we can differentiate between Steven and Brian when the phrase “Lawrence” is used in a post ?

  22. Doctor J Says:

    Yup, Brian Lawrence is Facebook friends with Paul Strange too — just verified it. Who else Brian ? Brian, you preach transparency, now its time to practice it ! Keeping your 717 friends secret is far from transparent.

  23. Michael Langley Says:

    NEWSFLASH! My FB Friends include Sherry Whitmarsh, Paul Strange and Lynn Dennler. Does that mean I’m in a secret cabal to support the current MDUSD board majority? Grasping at straws much folks? #20, Mr Weir, the list Brian posted is very close to mine and most of the regular attendees to the MDUSD board meetings. Are we all stealing from Ms. Hansen for stating the obvious? I have watched Brian grow in his understanding of the district from his first interest two and a half years ago to the present time. His concern is genuine. If he has political goals beyond the school board, then that is his concern. It is my observation that recently the MDUSD board is not exactly a stepping stone to political success.

  24. anon Says:

    And, Mr. Langley, did Brian Lawrence present himself to MDEA as an educator when you endorsed him while you were still president in June?

    And, what do you think of his calling himself an educator? Do you and/or MDEA support that?

    It is noteworthy that Mr. Langley quietly supported Brian Lawrence two years ago despite the fact MDEA did not.

  25. Wait a Minute Says:

    I think it is more noteworthy that Mr. Langley and MDEA supported Gary Eberhart AND Sherry Whitmarsh during their last election (and I assume it was based on the lies that EberMarsh told the MDEA).

    In other words, MDEA has a recent poor track record in picking who to support.

    A question for Brian Lawrence.

    Brian, based on your list of disagreements with the current board, WHOM SPECIFICALLY and HOW would you hold accountable for these mistakes? In other words, what SPECIFICALLY is your take on accountability?

  26. Doctor J Says:

    TRANSPARENCY — Mike Langley apparently that doesn’t mean the truth to you, does it ?

  27. MDUSDTeacher Says:

    As a teacher in the MDUSD I’m completely shocked that our union would endorse Brian Lawrence. I spent countless hours and money earning my credential, I am an educator. Teachers, we need to join together and demand that MDEA, the union that is supposed to represent us, that takes money each month from our paycheck withdraws their endorsement immediately! It is a complete and utter insult to all of us.

  28. Michael Langley Says:

    WaM, Mike Langley was not part of MDEA leadership during the Whitmarsh/Eberhart election. During the last election, MDEA chose not one to support.Also, MDEA represents the members of the union, who are not monolithic in views. MDEA represents the majority will of a population that is everchanging. To talk about what MDEA did 10, 8 or 6 years ago is assuming that there is no change in the organization and its members.

    Dr. J, I am confused by your quip. Transparancy does not mean truth, it means doing business in an open and clear manner.

  29. anon Says:

    Mr. Langley is not answering my question. I’m not talking about six years ago, I’m talking about 4 months ago when Mr. Langley was MDEA President.

    In the spirit of transparency, open and clear,, Mr. Langley, did Brian Lawrence present himself as an educator when MDEA endorsed him in June?

    And, open and clear, personally Mr. Langley, what do you think of Mr. Lawrence calling himself an educator? Do you and/or MDEA support his doing that.

    Open and clear, do you believe that a organization such as MDEA whichh purportedly represents professional educators should promote and endorse people for public office who misrepresent themselves as educators?

    One last trasnparent question,Mr. Langley, you did support Mr. Lawrence two years ago, did you not?

  30. Wait a Minute Says:

    Sorry Mr. Langley, I did not know that you were not a part of the MDEA leadership during the 2008 election cycle when the MDEA strongly backed the EberMarsh duo.

    See here:

  31. Michael Langley Says:

    No, I did not support Mr. Lawence two years ago. I did advise him to go to school board meetings and learn about the very complex job involved. Funny how a totally false statement concerning my support for a candidate can take on a life simply by the comments of an Anon. blogger. BTW, I gave the same advice to Ernie last Spring. In him I saw a passionate parent who wanted the best, but was inexperienced in the matters of the School District. As I am no longer part of MDEA, please address your questions to the current leadership, who participated in the interviews. Or speak to the community members who attended as observers. You see, we held open and tranparent interviews.

  32. Jack Weir Says:

    Mr. Langley, whose work on behalf of the district and its teachers I greatly appreciate, makes good points. None of the current board members or candidates are saints, nor need they be. None of the current board members or candidates are evil people, nor should they be so characterized.
    However, the real world critical issues in this election are candidate credibility, credentials and motivation. Ms. Oaks and Ms. Mason pass that test. Ms. Whitmarsh and Mr. Lawrence do not.
    I believe MDEA made one great choice, and that’s a good thing. I hope Local One and others will choose wisely as well.
    I’m doing everything I can to support the best qualified candidates for this election, and to start work toward the next. Even under the most optimistic scenario, it’s going to take several years to turn this district around, and that should be our focus.

  33. Anon Says:

    Mr. Jack Weir,

    You sir are a good upstanding citizen, but you are dreadfully wrong on one point. Eberhart and Whitmarsh are indeed evil people serving only to further their own personal interests.

    If Brian Lawrence fails to denounce Whitmarsh he must be considered part of the cabal.


  34. Wait a Minute Says:

    I would definetly categorize Eberhart, Whitmarsh, Rolen, and Stevie Lawrence as evil for what they have done to this district and will continue to do until replaced.

  35. The Observer Says:

    While Brian Lawrence exaggerates his work history, a cursory review of board minutes reveals his exaggerated statements about his participation in speaking on board issues.

    The most egregious claim is that he spoke out against contract extensions for the superintendent and cabinet. On April 23 the board considered contract extensions for the superintendent and his cabinet. During that debate 11people spoke to the issue – 2 supporting contract extensions , 9 not supporting- Mr. DeTrinidad and Mr. Langley were amongst the 9 who spoke against the contract extensions. Mr. Lawrence sat in thein the back corner of the room and watched, silently. The super-majority voted 4-1 to offer extensions.

    It wasn’t until four weeks in late May that Mr Lawrence brought himself to the front of the board and loudly declaimed the contract extensions. That took real political courage!

  36. Doctor J Says:

    #27 Langley admits that TRUTH is NOT a condisderation for MDEA — he basically says that as long as they lie in a transparent manner, it is ok. How can anyone believe what Mike Langley says ? How can anyone believe what any spokesperson for MDEA says ? Anyone who does not denounce what Langley says does not support the TRUTH !

  37. MDEA Says:

    I am a MDEA member and I DENOUNCE what Mike Langley says. MDEA leadership is about the most corrupt leadership there is on the planet and yes that includes the “retired” Mike Langley.

  38. mtz man Says:

    As one who refuses to make public their own identity, Dr. J is hardly in a position to be complaining about transparency.

  39. Michael Langley Says:

    Dr. J, re-read my statement and you will see your interpretation is erroneous.

  40. Doctor J Says:

    Mike, I have re-read your statement on transparency. You said in part: “Transparency does not mean truth . . .” I disagree — transparency does include the TRUTH or else it would not be transparent — the truth would be occluded. You then say that transparency “means doing business in an open and clear manner.” If you mean “doing business” would include suppressing the truth, hiding the truth, massaging the truth, or anything else that would prevent the truth from being known, then I have to say that is miles from transparency. So please tell me Mike if I am misinterpreting your statement and if I am, please explain how the “truth” is part of transparency or if you really believe that “doing business in an open and clear manner” does not always include telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I look forward to your response.

  41. Doctor J Says:

    And Mtz Man, you are ? What a hypocrite. I have been the same identity for years ! You pop up as multiple identities. What really scares them, is that I am already Facebook friends with them. 🙂

  42. 2busymom Says:

    Dr. J,
    Please clarify, at post 21, you state you do not now, nor will you ever have a facebook page, then in post 41 you claim to be facebook friends with “them”. Did I miss something in the translation?

  43. Doctor J Says:

    Doctor J is a psuedo name. Doctor J does not endorse candidates nor have a Facebook page. However, I am a real person and do those kinds of things.

  44. Jim Says:

    Mtz Man — It is not the responsibility of any private citizen on this blog to be “transparent” to you, or anyone else. That’s why we have the term “private citizen”. Public officials and employees, on the other hand, owe the public the duty to be completely transparent, in all of their public capacities, because the public funds their organizations, their salaries, and benefits and generally makes it possible for them to hold their positions and pursue their careers. You can’t possibly struggle to make such a simple distinction, can you? Except for a few MDUSD board members and administrators, I can’t think of anyone who could be so hopelessly confused.

  45. MDEA Member Says:

    Notice how quickly Mike “Retired” Langley and Sue “Retired” Berg disappear from the blogs after being called out with the truth?

  46. mtzman Says:

    Seems like I struck a nerve here! No one is saying someone can’t use a pseudonym on a blog post. Obviously, mtzman is one, but that wasn’t my point. I am not going around decrying the lack of transparency.

    BTW, I pop up as multiple identities? I’d be really curious as to who I supposedly am.

  47. Doctor J Says:

    @#45 Great Friday humor. Love the last line. Hope you figure it out !

  48. mtzman Says:

    #46, I was so hoping you would enlighten all of us, especially me …

  49. Sue Berg Says:

    MDEA Member,
    Not disappeared, just not moved to participate in the Brian Lawrence and Mike Langely bashing that’s taken over the comment section recently. Not sure what I’ve said that you think is untrue. I typically comment only when I read a statement that I know, from my experience in the district, to be inaccurate and that I believe should be corrected either to advance the discussion at hand or to stop the misinformation from becoming accepted as fact. Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do? Engage in productive discussions about issues important to our children’s education?

  50. anon Says:


    On here? Engage in productive discussions? Not for a long time. This is a place to light fires, pour gasoline on and watch it burn. There may be a productive comment here and there, but the likes of Dr. J and Ms. Harrington herself are only interested in one thing, disrupting and putting a negative spin on everything.

    Look, I’m as entertained as the next person with this blog, but let’s be honest, there is nothing happening on here that could be remotely consider positive for the students of the district.

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