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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: http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_21661051

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  • Theresa Harrington

    Anon, It is not my intent to put “a negative spin on everything.”
    In fact, today I interviewed several Olympic HS students for our next Hometown Hero story about longtime teacher Skip Weinstock. This will be a very positive story that will focus on his work with students at the school, as well as other outside work he does that helps the community.
    I am also hoping to post more information about the candidates from my interviews. However, I still have to complete my interview with Brian Lawrence.
    Board President Sherry Whitmarsh specifically thanked me for my blog post about the Ygnacio Valley HS’s visit by a B-Girl who helped the school get ready for a rally.
    Also, I met with Rep. George Miller on Wednesday and he said he reads my blog excerpts in the Sunday CC Times and appreciates my coverage of education issues.

  • David “Shoe” Shuey – Clayton City Council

    Anon #50 – As someone who fought long and hard for the Clayton Valley Charter on behalf of our kids, I have to disagree. While it certainly got vitriolic, this blog was a valuable and necessary resource to oppose the lack of transparency and one sided dissemination of information that came from the District. While there may be some bad postings, without this and othe similar outlets, the public would have no other resource to present counter arguments to one side dissemination of information. Theresa and this blog provide a valuable resource to make sure all sides of the argument are heard.

  • Doctor J

    @Anon#50. I am only interested in one thing: THE TRUTH. Unfortunately, that is hard to find with the MDUSD sleight of hand. If you want the TRUTH, read the API scores next week and realize that without the 3 SIG schools fantastic accomplishments, that the district would have dropped 25 points. You think Steven Lawrence is going to tell you that or cover it up ? it matches his track record — and remember the only reason the SIG schools made such huge gains in the API is because of the lengthened school day REQUIRED by the Feds and State when they audited MDUSD and discovered that MDUSD was NOT KEEPING its grant promises. Only because the Feds/State caught Lawrence and Lock in non-compliance and withheld money until a “Corrective Action Plan” was submitted and approved, did we such such massive gains in the SIG schools — unfortunately, the rest of the schools suffer under the lack of leadership of Lawrence’s brainchild — SASS. Call that negative if you want, but the fact is that it is the TRUTH. Until the TRUTH is revealed, improvements cannot be made.

  • anon

    I stand by my statement. This blog is nothing more than an outlet for those who wish to anonymously bash the school district, with or without facts. Sources go unchecked, facts go unchecked and comments are often completely false. Fortunately, most people do not see the comments here, so most people are blissfully unaware that such misinformation exists. There was a time when the newspaper could be counted on to ensure that news and comments were supported by fact, or at least that news and comments could be accurately attributed to a real person so we would at least know the source and understood the bias. Without that information, comments here are meaningless, including mine.

  • Anon

    Anon #54 ,

    Hi Gary – good to see you posting again. Why the sour grapes if you aren’t running?

  • anonymous 5

    Anon: distinguish yourself from the other Anon’s

  • Doctor J

    Anon#54 describes Eberhart’s M.O. — Modus Operandi — perfectly: “Sources go unchecked, facts go unchecked and comments are often completely false.” When Gary is asked to produce his sources, he declines. When Gary is asked to produce his alleged Diploma from St. Mary’s, he declines. When Gary claims he relied on certain documents to base his votes, he declines to produce them. Gary declined to run for reelection, because the TRUTH would have defeated him. But those facts won’t go away — they just wait for his next election.

  • Doctor J

    API scores delayed by CDE until Oct 11 — guess the bad news is going to impact the election. Prop 30 is already dropping and barely above 50% on Field Poll — Prop 38 well below 50%. Maybe Steven Lawrence is hoping Prop 30 doesn’t pass so he will have an excuse to wipe out his massive failure of SASS and blame it on “budget cuts” instead of his bad idea and horrible leadership. Meanwhile the children of MDUSD suffer at his hands. Remember MDUSD will “spin” its few points gain, but if you take out the MASSIVE gains of the the 3 SIG schools, MDUSD would have dropped more than 25 points !! And Sherry thinks all is well at MDUSD — unbelievable.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here is the link to the CCTV candidate forums: http://www.contracostatimes.com/twitter/ci_21655276/televised-election-preview-2012-features-contra-costa-city

    Also, Board President Sherry Whitmarsh does say in her ballot statement that more work needs to be done and she lists several issues she wants to focus on.

    Regarding blaming budget cuts, I attended a workshop about Common Core Standards on Friday that featured superintendents from Santa Ana, Long Beach and Sacramento, along with an assistant supt. from Oakland. They all said that while they could use more money, they are not using that as an excuse to shortchange students. Instead, they are working creatively with what they have to provide the best education possible. The Long Beach supt said his board meetings usually last 45 minutes because everyone is on the same page — focused on what’s best for students. He also said the board has a two-day retreat each year to delve into important issues in the district.

    This reminded me of the MDUSD board retreat, when the facilitator scolded Trustee Cheryl Hansen after Hansen said she didn’t want the board to continually blame Sacramento for its woes.

  • Anon

    Schools are already reporting their API’s and increases.
    Does everyone know about this meeting on the 3rd?

    The MDUSD Superintendent is holding a feeder pattern meeting for parents from MDES, Ayers, Highlands, Silverwood, Diablo View and Pine Hollow on October 3, 7PM at the Pine Hollow Middle School library. There will be 4 meetings throughout the year for our feeder pattern parents. The Superintendent is interested in receiving agenda items generated by parents on district issues about which they would like more information. You can send agenda items to the principal of your child’s school to forward to the Superintendent’s office prior to the meeting.

  • Monte Garden Parent

    Monte Gardens API = 932

    Yes folks the school Sherry Whitmarsh wanted shut down.

  • Theresa Harrington

    During my candidate interview with Board President Sherry Whitmarsh, she told she was working with the superintendent to go out to each feeder pattern three times a year to meet with parent leaders.
    But, it’s surprising there has been no public board discussion about this and no districtwide newsletter announcing this, to my knowledge.

    Here is the direct link to the MDUSD candidate forum: http://bcove.me/a8oydwmq

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here’s advice from AASA about what superintendents should seek in their contracts: http://www.aasa.org/content.aspx?id=24598

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here is a reminder about the CAC candidate forum tomorrow at 6 p.m., followed by the CAC meeting: http://mtdiablosped.blogspot.com/2012/09/upcoming-meetings.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MountDiabloUnifiedCommunityAdvisoryCommitteeOnSpecialEducation+%28Mount+Diablo+Unified+Community+Advisory+Committee+on+Special+Education%29

    Although the announcement says it includes attachments regarding Lorrie Davis’ Sept. 24 comments to the board and an email exchange with Trustee Linda Mayo, I don’t see those attachments.

  • Doctor J

    @Anon#60 These are API estimates based on STAR scores and the district’s private consultant estimates from their computer program — usually a few points off. Make no mistake about it, MG’s 932 is tremendous, but as I recall only a 1 point gain from last year. At that level, its hard to improve ! But again, when you take out the stupendous gains by the SIG schools due to the increased learning day imposed by the FEDS and the STATE as part of the SIG requirements, which MDUSD ignored the first year of the grant, and got caught by audit and had their money cut off, were required to do a “Corrective Action Plan” to lengthen the school day, the longer instructional periods made a huge difference, and thus you see the massive gains. ASK the candidates if they will support further extensions of the school days after the grant ends next year ? Steven Lawrence is saying NO.

  • Anon

    [This comment has been edited to delete an unsubstantiated allegation]

    Thanks for placing the link to the Candidate Forum online. After watching it the only question I have is how much longer can Sherry’s nose get. …

  • Doctor J

    [This comment has been edited to delete an unsubstantiated allegation.]

    @Anon#66 You are too kind. Sherry … (appears to be) in denial about the horrible state of affairs of the district. The other three candidates are pretty united that “it happens” in the classroom, not in the Supt’s office, and way too few dollars are hitting classroom — most of the dollars being swept by Dent, and in particular, by Steven Lawrence the Supt. Remember that Barbara Oaks worked as a Principal under Steven Lawrence,…. I have not heard a single good word about him from anyone from Mt. Diablo [except Sherry and Gary] , West Sacramento or Roseville, his two prior employers — except for the person who rode his coattails — Sue Brothers, the major monetary benefactor of him.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Dr. J: In my interview with Oaks, she did say that Lawrence seems to be good with numbers. But, she said she never really got to know him. She said she felt that former Supt. Gary McHenry took more time getting to know her and asking her opinions about things. Oaks told me that Supt. Lawrence is meeting with all the candidates. She said she appreciated that.
    Debra Mason said she also appreciated the opportunity to sit down with the superintendent. But, she said he did most of the talking and didn’t really ask her any questions.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#68 Of course, Steven Lawrence is up Sh$t creek, without a paddle after he didn’t get the Sacramento job — after his fiasco, the Supt headhunters are avoiding him like the plague. He can spin numbers like no other, and then refuse to divulge the details !! As you know, his numbers change by the minute and by issue –one day we are deficit spending by 7 million and the next day by 10 million. He manipulates the FCMAT reports and FCMAT is so inept they cannot even make all the changes to make the report consistent from paragraph to paragraph. But don’t forget the biggest fauxpau exposed by the Times: TOILETGATE. A national embarrassment that Lawrence sanctioned and condoned. If he is lucky, he might have a lifetime teaching credential and can return to the classroom — but not in MDUSD.

  • Doctor J

    Ask Barbara Oaks about one of Lawrence’s “first” principal meetings when he pressured all principals and administrators to “be a team player” and support the furlough days . . . “or else”. The intimidation was intense and the implication was that if you didn’t support “furlough days” then you were not part of “his team”. Barbara retired at the end of the year.

  • Anon

    Ask Steven Lawrence how many of those administrators chose the “…or else” and left the district either by retirement or moving to a different district.

  • Doctor J

    MDUSD is next !!! The “legacy” of Steven Lawrence and Mildred Browne’s “neglect” ! sorry the link is not copying — google San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland USD Federal Monitoring for disproportional suspensions.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here is the CCT link the the Oakland Tribune story: http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_21655377/oakland-schools-enter-agreement-reduce-suspensions-black-students?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com

    And here are student testimonials about Weinstock, which show that he is able to connect with them and show that he genuinely cares about them: http://www.contracostatimes.com/twitter/ci_21674582/students-at-concords-olympic-high-appreciate-longtime-teacher?source=pkg

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here is my Hometown Hero story about Olympic HS teacher Skip Weinstock, which looks at the positive difference he is making in students’ lives: http://www.contracostatimes.com/twitter/ci_21673703/olympic-high-school-teacher-skip-weinstock-makes-difference

  • Anon

    [This comment has been edited to delete an unsubstantiated allegation.]

    Sherry, we have to ask you to wrap it up.

  • Anon

    Who is Anon #60 announcing the feeder pattern meeting at Pine Hollow on Wednesday night? My site administrator told us that the feeder meeting was at Riverview on Wednesday. Where is it?

  • Doctor J

    I wonder why Steven Lawrence keeps these feeder pattern meetings “secret” and doesn’t post them on the District Calendar on the website ? Perhaps the candidates can email the Supt and ask him ? Is his self proclaimed “better communication” really improved ? or just more lip flapping ? Did “Good News” even announce these meetings ? Or are these meetings just more “shoot from the hip” last minute concoctions that no one else “knew about” ?

  • Anon

    #76. I am a parent who got this info sent to me in a school news letter. I cut and pasted it right out of the news letter.
    I don’t know what to tell you except call the District office. They have not put dates, times and places on the District site so perhaps Mr. Lawrence can answer your question.

  • Doctor J

    [This comment has been edited to delete unsubstantiated allegations.]

    Just finished a cursory review of the Sept 2012 “Good News” — erroneously labeled as “Spring 2012″ — another rush job by staff who thinks “proofreading” means “spellcheck”. Anyways, not a single mention of Feeder Pattern meetings — and “Good News” is all about feeder pattern “news”.

  • Doctor J

    I can’t wait for Oct 5 — Sherry has to file her campaign contributors through Sept 30. Next one is Oct 21 — she can’t hide her contributors for long. This time, she doesn’t have Eberhart and Strange to fund her campaign through contributions they received. It will be interesting to see how many MDUSD “vendors” want their names on the front page of the Times for donations to Sherry.

  • The Observer

    Speaking of donors, did you know that Matt Juhl-Darlington donated to Brian Lawrence’s campaign in 2010 and that former MDEA presidentMike Langley had a candidate sign for Brian Lawrence in his front yard in 2010. Looked like an endorsement to many who saw it.

  • Doctor J

    Until Brian Lawrence reveals who his 717 (?) Facebook friends are, we won’t know ALL of the details.

  • Anon

    MDEA seems to be downplaying Brian Lawrence’s claim he is an “educator” Their website endorsement for him says, ” Mr. Lawrence is a father of four young children, two of whom attend elementary school within the District”.

    Contrast that statement with the one about Barbara Oaks,” Barbara Oaks is a recently retired Mt. Diablo teacher and administrator. Barbara spent many years teaching special education students and she completed hr career as a vice principal and principal at College Park High School.”

    Appears that MDEA might be suffering from buyer’s remorse.

  • Wait a Minute

    [This comment has been edited to delete unsubstantiated allegations]

    Wow!

    If Matt Juhl-Darlington gave money to Brian Lawrence’s campaign then that means ….

    I can’t help but notice that Brian Lawrence has yet to respond to my prior request for him to spell out his views on accountability and what steps he would take to hold people accountable for the many MDUSD decisions he says he “disagrees” with?

    Also, if Stevie Lawrence has become Sherry Whitmarsh’s de-facto campaign manager by scheduling meetings with parents all over the district for Sherry to speak at and capitalize on then I would hope another candidate would complain to the FPPC and perhaps even complaints to the Grand Jury/DA and Credentialing Commission would be appropriate.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Please note that I have edited and/or deleted several comments to delete name-calling and/or unsubstantiated allegations.

    I will remind readers and commenters that opinions should not be stated as facts. Unsubstantiated allegations stated as facts will be deleted. Name-calling will also be deleted.

  • Anon

    [Note: This comment has been edited to delete an unsubstantiated allegation.]

    If Brian Lawrence steps up and complains to the Grand Jury or FPPC about Whitmarsh using the feeder pattern meetings to campaign, I would take that as a subtle sign he is denouncing the Whitmarsh run.

    As such I would then vote for him as he seems to be the most itelligent one of the bunch.

    NO ON WHITMARSH! …

  • anon

    @#76, Riverview’s feeder pattern meeting would not be the same as Pine Hollow’s. I would go with what your admin said.

  • Anon

    I suppose that if everyone thinks Sherry is using the meetings for her own benefit, then we should attend and find out what it is about before we start that rumor. If in fact she is there speaking and it is not what it was said to be then we have more problems that I thought.

  • Anon

    [This comment has been edited to delete an unsubstantiated allegation]

    Can someone post a complete schedule of the feeder pattern meetings?

    I will gladly attend everyone and tape Sherry Whitmarsh for posting on youtube ….

  • Theresa Harrington

    I interviewed Brian Lawrence yesterday for my election coverage. He said he found out about the feeder pattern meetings when he met with the superintendent (the superintendent met with all candidates). Brian Lawrence said he asked the superintendent why there haven’t been any Parent Advisory Committee meetings this fall, since Brian Lawrence had previously attended them. Brian Lawrence said the superintendent told him that the feeder pattern meetings are intended to replace the Parent Advisory Committee meetings, since attendance was low at the Parent Advisory Committee meetings. Based on this, it does not sound like these meetings are intended as vehicles for trustees to talk to the public. Instead, they appear to be vehicles for the superintendent to talk to parents.
    But, as has been previously noted, it’s surprising that the board has not publicly discussed the idea of disbanding the Parent Advisory Committee and holding feeder pattern meetings instead. Also, if the board supports feeder pattern meetings, it is surprising that the board failed to support Trustee Cheryl Hansen’s motion to hold meetings in the community: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=5904&mtgId=349
    In fact, no one even mentioned the fact that the superintendent planned to hold community meetings himself during this agenda item discussion.
    If the district is truly committed to transparency, it should post all of the feeder pattern meeting times, dates and locations on the district website. The superintendent should also let the community know how and why the decision was made to hold these meetings.
    This would have been a very appropriate item for the superintendent to have announced during his Superintendent’s Report at the last board meeting. But, he made no mention of it.

  • http://yahoo Annie

    Skip is a great teacher and role model for students. His Service Learning Program has helped many students over the years to make better decisions in their lives. You could not have picked a better person. His dedication to Olympic High and students is in his heart and soul.Annie (Love you Skip)

  • Theresa Harrington

    Thanks for your comment, Annie. I plan to do a blog post later today with more quotes from Skip that didn’t fit into my story.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Please note that I have posted a separate blog item with the Diablo View MS feeder pattern letter: http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2012/10/02/mdusd-superintendent-to-hold-feeder-pattern-meetings/

    Somewhat ironically, the letter states that one of the purposes of the meeting is to improve communication. Yet, the apparently new idea for feeder pattern meetings has been communicated to the community in a very piecemeal fashion.

  • Doctor J

    Censorship: I have asked TH for an explanation via email of what comments by me were censored and for what reason so that either I can substantiate the facts, or restate them as my opinion, which of course they obviously were in the first place. I encourage each of you to do the same. One comment that was censored, I believe, was after watching the Times broadcast of the interview with S. Whitmarsh where I voiced my opinion of the lack of truthfulness of S. Whitmarsh in her unsubstantiated statements. Since when is my opinion “censorable” ? The Times clearly has stated that our opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editorial board. Otherwise, censoring another’s opinion in fact becomes the opinion of the censor. Hardly, a free speech society.

  • Theresa Harrington

    If you believe there was a lack of truthfulness, then I suggest that you point out specifically what you think was untrue. If you call a person a liar and leave it at that, your comment will be deleted or edited.

  • Doctor J

    Ok, lets have a debate about my opinion about her whole performance — it was not based on any single fact. I responded to a prior post. I stated an opinion about the powder puff questions by the Times — and the statements by S. Whitmarsh unsupported by a single fact — censor that under your “guidelines” you are judging our posts by. If you will repost the part of my opinion you censored, you will see that I responded generally to the broadcast and my opinion of it. But apparently you censored more than I thought that Sherry was untruthful in her comments. Further, there was another comment of mine you censored, even after you responded to it, [censored it hours after you had responded to it]. Interesting that you ignored my email but are willing to have the public discourse about it.

  • Anon

    Is this a sign that the board has begun to pressure to CC Times Editor to censor the paper?

    Is Gary Eberhart really that powerful?

    Theresa did he have the DA threathen you like he ALLEGEDLEY has with other board members?

  • Theresa Harrington

    No. No one contacted me about the posts. However, it is not fair to call people names or to make unfounded accusations about them. Opinions should be clearly stated as opinions and allegations should be backed up with facts.

  • Doctor J

    TH did, after I posted the last comment, respond to me privately, which I appreciate. She said I was censored about my opinion of Mike Langley being a “fencesitter” since she opined that I called him a name — and she opined that I was questioning his manhood. She also said she also censored my opinion about Steven Lawrence acting as Sherry Whitmarsh’s campaign manager [actually that may have been someone else's stated opinion] and I thought I had phrased it differently, but frankly, with a similar theme that he was acting outside of his legally authorized role as Supt.

    Please permit me to restate my opinions: Often, but not always, Mike Langley, is in my opinion a fencesitter [a descriptive term not as a derogatory "name"], as is defined in the dictionary [can't figure out which side of the issue to be on]. I have no reason to question his “manhood” — frankly gender is irrelevant in all of these discussions. I wish he would be more definitive in his opinions as he has lots of knowledge and experience, and personally I think a lot of him when he expresses his private opinions. As for Supt Lawrence’s alleged actions to support S. Whitmarsh in her re-election, I believe they cross the line of legality and appropriateness based upon what is visible to the public. The Supt should not be taking actions, publicly or privately, that support or build up one candidate over another. I believe the record supports such actions.

  • Anon

    I am also of the OPINION that what Steve Lawrence is doing for Sherry Whitmarsh is indeed illegal.

    It would be nice for the Times to do an expose on this POSSIBLY illegal activity.