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MDUSD superintendent to hold feeder pattern meetings

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 at 11:53 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Mt. Diablo district Superintendent Steven Lawrence has decided to hold meetings with parents in various feeder patterns of the district. Although trustees have not publicly discussed this idea, board candidate Brian Lawrence told me the superintendent informed him the meetings would replace former Parent Advisory Council meetings, which were not well-attended.

Board President Sherry Whitmarsh told me that she has been working with the superintendent on this idea. However, neither the superintendent nor Whitmarsh made any announcement about it during the last board meeting and there has been no districtwide communication from the district about the meetings.

Since questions are arising in comments on this blog about the purpose of the meetings, I am posting a letter I received from a Diablo View Middle School parent about the meeting in the that school’s feeder pattern:

“Oct. 2, 2012

Good Morning

Our superintendent, Dr. Steven Lawrence, will be holding four feeder pattern meetings throughout the year. The purpose of the meetings are:

To increase the opportunities that he has to speak with a broader group of parents.

To address concerns that parents on our leadership teams (PTA, PFC, School Site Council, ELAC) have around district issues.

To provide a more comfortable setting to have parents and the superintendent to have a conversation in.

Improve overall district communication.

The first of these meetings will be on Wednesday, October 3rd at the Pine Hollow Library at 7:00 p.m. Subsequent dates are December 5th, February 13th and May 1st. Besides Diablo View and Pine Hollow, additional schools in our feeder pattern are Ayers El, Mt. Diablo El, Highlands El and Siverwood El.

Patti Bannister”

Do you think the district should let the entire community know the times, dates and locations for all feeder pattern meetings?

7:10 P.M. UPDATE: Board President Sherry Whitmarsh has clarified that the feeder pattern meetings were the superintendent’s idea, which she supported. They are not board meetings and she does not expect to attend most of them, although she said she would likely attend the Ygnacio Valley HS meeting, since she lives in that feeder pattern.

OCT. 11 UPDATE: After calling Northgate High, I have found out that the Northgate feeder pattern meeting is at 7 p.m. tonight in the Northgate staff lounge at 425 Castle Rock Road in Walnut Creek. Unfortunately for some parents, this conflicts with a concurrent meeting at 7 p.m. in the Little Theater for juniors and their parents.

Here is a link to video of Superintendent Steven Lawrence telling the school board about his decision to hold feeder pattern meetings: http://qik.com/video/54936052

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  • Anon

    I will be at this meeting taping every last word the superintendent says.

    Why all the secrets?

    VOTE NO ON WHITMARSH!

  • Anon

    Yes they should. It should be posted on the District web site.

  • Michael Langley

    I’ll miss the first one. There is the Obama/Romney debate in conflict.

  • Doctor J

    Where is the official announcement from the Supt ? Also, the Board resolution establishing the PAC remains in effect — does the Supt just think he can ignore Board resolutions ?

    The above stated is my opinion.

  • Doctor J

    What happened to the ONLY Board approved plan for input to the Strategic Plan ? Ask Sherry Whitmarsh. http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/reference_library/attachments/aa7a6568-62df-457a-a243-0a17d0a63d1f.pdf

  • Theresa Harrington

    Please note that I have added an update to this blog post clarifying Board President Sherry Whitmarsh’s role in the feeder pattern meetings.

  • Doctor J

    Here’s some “good questions” for Steven Lawrence for the “feeder pattern” meetings thanks to Gov. Brown ! The Gov signed three bills affecting English learners and how MDUSD will need to do business. First, is SB 754 which requires POSTING ON LINE how the district spends the money they get to meet the needs of English learners and low income students so the public gets transparent information. Q: Steven, when are you going to start EL postings on line so we can know how you are spending our tax money ? Two other bills SB 1108 and AB 2193 are trying to correct the languishing of Enlish learners without becoming proficient in English — a problem in MDUSD. Despite MDUSD’s “new plan” this year, no significant progress is being made. The state now is going to track children who aren’t achieving fluency — and air the dirty laundry of districts hoping that public knowledge will require local accountability. Back to the drawing board for the EL plan.

  • Doctor J
  • Doctor J

    Can’t wait until we see the “administrative costs” both by district and by “each school” with a comparison of the current and prior fiscal year. About time. This fiscal transparency should spread to every “categorical” and “general fund”.

    54029.
    As a condition of the receipt of economic impact aid funds, a school district shall post in an easily accessible location on its Internet Web site data related to economic impact aid funding, for purposes of budget transparency, including all of the following:
    (a) The amount of economic impact aid allocated to the school district in that fiscal year.

    (b) The amount of economic impact aid used by the school district for administrative costs in that fiscal year.

    (c) The amount of economic impact aid expended for limited-English-proficient pupils in that fiscal year and the prior fiscal year by the school district and by each school within the district.

    (d) The amount of economic impact aid expended for state compensatory education in that fiscal year and the prior fiscal year by the school district and by each school within the district.

    (e) The amount of unexpended economic impact aid and an explanation of why these funds have not been expended.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Interesting that Supt. Lawrence has done a robocall about the UMDAF 5k, but not about the feeder pattern meetings, which few people were told about in Pleasant Hill.

  • Anon

    TH @10,

    Just part of the game. Notice he also continues to hold the FCMAT “official” report under wraps, while ALLEGEDLY gloating about it in Dent.

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    Let’s remember that much of this down-from-the-top, micro-management legislation from Sacramento never goes anywhere. Here is the typical sequence:
    1) some educational problem festers for years
    2) a legislator tries to gain points with a specific constituency by writing a law to “address the problem”
    3) a law passes and school districts waste no time in starting to ignoring it
    4) (optional) some member of the targeted constituency complains about lack of enforcement
    5) years pass
    6) (optional) issue again gets attention
    7) districts undertake superficial actions to feign compliance
    8) life goes on…

    I don’t mean to sound overly cynical, but really, this is what happens over and over again. And why should we be surprised? Big districts like MDUSD aren’t really accountable to anyone, and no government official — let alone a prosecutor — wants to come across as being “too hard on them”. Even when districts are awarded extra funding for specific programs, they are seldom punished for ignoring the program requirements and spending the money elsewhere. (Instead, they are usually given multiple chances to “reform” themselves and get the money anyway.) I suspect that, in this case, Mr. Padilla will have a long wait for results (but a nice issue to brag about in his next re-election campaign!).

  • Theresa Harrington

    Lorrie Davis and some other CAC parents repeated their request for backup information about other districts in the state that “cluster” special education students and data regarding comparison districts related to transportation expenses. In addition, Davis repeated her request to see the “third party analysis.” And, she disputed Carolyn Patton’s assertion that the Vacaville district clusters special education students but calls it something else, saying she was very clear when she asked staff in Vacaville about this and was told they didn’t do it.
    Although Patton said it was her belief that FCMAT was looking at other districts in the state that cluster special ed students, I told the group that when I interviewed Bill Gillaspie and asked him specifically if he knew of any other districts that cluster special ed students, he said he did not. Instead, he said he knew of districts that cluster general education students.
    In addition, Patton tried to assert that FCMAT developed the clustering recommendation. But, Davis pointed out that FCMAT got the idea from the third party analysis provided by the district.
    There was no mention of when the special ed FCMAT report will be released.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Speaking of transparency and accountability, the district does not post agendas or minutes from its Equity Advisory Team meetings. When one member of the CAC suggested that the district do this, Felicia Stuckey-Smith said: “Thank you for the suggestion,” but did not say she would heed it. Instead, she advised the parent to contact Chris Wilburn to get the agendas and minutes.
    The district has been identified as significantly disproportionate in terms of suspensions and expulsions related to special ed students and African-American and Latino students. So, it has to develop a corrective action plan. The district has established a “leadership team” to address this, which is comprised of district administrators.
    In addition, the Equity Advisory Team is a required stakeholder group, Stuckey-Smith said.
    These meetings should be publicly noticed and minutes should be posted online.
    One CAC parent also said the superintendent’s feeder pattern meeting dates, times and locations should be posted online so parents can plan ahead.

  • Doctor J

    @Jim#12 We share the same frustration — but the SIG audit gave me new hope when the funds were cut off. SB 754 REQUIRES “As a condition of the receipt of economic impact aid funds, a school district shall post in an easily accessible location on its Internet Web site data. . . ” If they don’t post, maybe we can get the State Auditor to . . ..

  • Doctor J

    How many lies does Carolyn Patton have to be caught in before she loses all credibility ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Patton said she believes Angie Goakey, who was not there, is looking at other districts that are using the cluster model. She said she would try to bring Goakey to the next meeting.
    One CAC member also said she told the superintendent that it would be nice if he would come to at least one CAC meeting a year.
    A parent said that interim supt. Dick Nicoll told Lawrence if there was one thing he should continue doing, it was meeting with the PAC. But, soon afterward, it seemed Lawrence’s enthusiasm for the PAC waned considerably.
    Whitmarsh said some PAC members told her they didn’t like the press attending and videotaping portions of the meeting and they didn’t like the meetings to be commented on in blogs. So, perhaps that’s why the district is keeping the dates and times secret.

  • Anon

    TH #17, I hope you don’t really believe that.

  • Anon

    Yes the old Whitmarsh refrain,

    Everything would be better if the public’s business wasn’t actually conducted in public.

    And yes folks we elected her.

    NO ON WHITMARSH!

  • Doctor J

    OMG, now its Carolyn Patton blaming it on Angie Goakey. The only one who doesn’t like the “press” [read that Theresa] videotaping is none other than Steven Lawrence, because he is “held” to his statements. I heard a story recently from a very credible source about a statement made in an “interview” — no names used, but it was soooooo Steven Lawrence. And the source was hooting and howling about how “incredibly stupid” the person making the statement was and unknowledgable about how a real strategic plan is made.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Anon: Whitmarsh told me that the feeder pattern meetings didn’t have to be publicly noticed, since board members don’t attend. The PAC meeting was publicly noticed in case more than two board members attended, she said. So, she said at feeder pattern meetings, parents could request no videotaping.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#21 Read the Brown Act. Sherry is so ignorant on the Brown Act.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Whitmarsh said the superintendent got the idea after his successful meeting with Pleasant Hill parents last year (which was not publicly noticed). That was a meeting that included parents who were against the Clayton Valley HS charter. I think it was held at College Park HS.
    Although Whitmarsh told me these meetings are intended to help improve communication, the reaction of CAC parents showed that this could be backfiring — since many parents were upset that they were never notified the PAC was disbanding, they didn’t agree there was consensus about disbanding the PAC, many weren’t notified about their own feeder pattern meetings (or were notified very late), they missed having the opportunity to hear from parents across the district, and some didn’t feel they were part of their neighborhood feeder patterns, since their children attend programs across the district.
    Whitmarsh’s response to all of this feedback was that it was a work in progress and she would take these comments back to the superintendent.

  • Anon

    Ask about site councils too. I was elected to a school site council but I haven’t been notified about a meeting date. I thought we’d be reviewing the STAR data by now. I wonder if Law-marsh terminated site councils like they did PAC.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I believe that schools are required to have site councils to approve some funding expenditures and school level reports. I see that Pleasant Hill Elementary has a handy online calendar that lists all of its important meetings and events, such as the site council meeting planned at 2:45 p.m. Monday: http://pleasanthillelementary.tandemcal.com/index.php?type=view&action=month&cur_month=10&cur_year=2012&print=1
    However, I don’t see a feeder pattern meeting with the superintendent listed.

  • Anon

    TH @21,

    Theresa I beleive these meetings are conducted “in the public” as far as a court of law is concerned (not claiming they have to be agenized and noticed).

    Rather I am claiming it is completely within my rights to videotape and post on youtube anything that happens. I will be doing so. Stevie can try to have me arrested but then I will be suing his @$$ off.

  • Doctor J

    The School Board has NOT disbanded the PAC’s despite the refusal of the Supt to hold the meetings. Steven does not like the PAC’s [or similar meetings] because they are subject to the Brown Act.

  • John Q

    In other words our public servants are openly evading the law. The Brown Act is intended to be followed and not evaded. Honestly it’s not that hard! All these invitation-only secret meetings make the public wonder what’s to hide?

    Good thing building public trust is not a worry.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Speaking of trust, some parents in the CAC said the district should hold some sort of forum to present the FCMAT report and answer questions. If the district did that, parents wouldn’t feel like they don’t trust the process, one parent said.
    Carolyn Patton nodded, but did not offer to hold such a forum.
    Whitmarsh acknowledged that the board does have some policies related to transportation, but she said the board and superintendent still need to decide whether the superintendent has the authority to make the planned changes or whether they require board approval.
    When I interviewed Bill Gillaspie, he also said parent meetings — including the opportunity to give input and have questions answered — were critical to communicate why changes are necessary and involve the community in the process.
    Although the FCMAT contract includes community presentations, the district has opted not to invite FCMAT.

  • Anon

    TH @29,

    Inviting FCMAT would bring up the possibility of an “accidental” release of the “official” report. Steve would never do such a thing as he ALLEGEDELY considers keeping it under wraps as one of the great outcomes he has orchestrated in the district.

  • Doctor J

    Another PRA to FCMAT is in order. They are a public entity created by the legislature and required to disclose the “final” report along with emails directing FCMAT not to post the report on the internet. I thought Gillaspe said it was FCMAT policy to post the final version on its website. We cannot rely on the District to produce the “final” version. BTW, has the District produced the signed copy of Mills’ contract ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    The district hasn’t even produced the signed copies of the contracts for the superintendent, Rolen, Braun-Martin, Lock and Richards (showing the approved one-year extensions to 2014).
    After they get around to signing those, they should have time to sign Mills’ contract.
    At the CAC meeting, I didn’t hear any mention of when Mills will arrive (although I didn’t stay til the end of the meeting). Stuckey-Smith was sitting in for the Assistant Supt.

  • Doctor J

    Steven Lawrence avoids any meeting requiring Brown Act Compliance even though he swore an OATH to uphold the law. Board Regulation 1220 says in part: “Committees Subject to Brown Act Requirements
    The following citizen advisory committees shall comply with open meeting, notice and public participation requirements of law (the Brown Act):
    (cf. 9320 – Meetings and Notices)
    (cf. 9321 – Closed Session Purposes and Agendas)
    (cf. 9321.1 – Closed Session Actions and Reports)
    (cf. 9323 – Meeting Conduct)
    1. Advisory committees established pursuant to Education Code 56190-56194 related to special education
    (cf. 0430 – Comprehensive Local Plan for Special Education)
    2. Advisory committees established pursuant to Education Code 8070 related to career technical education
    (cf. 6178 – Vocational Education)
    3. Other committees created by formal Board action
    (cf. 9130 – Board Committees)”

  • Doctor J

    Kerri Mills resignation effective Oct 7 was accepted by the SBUSD Board on Sept 24. Mills contract should be available now. However, the BIG5 contracts have some legal problems since they don’t comply with AB 1344.

  • Doctor J

    Where is our up-to-date Education news reporting ? What is Supt Lawrence’s reaction to Gov Brown’s veto of AB 1811 pushed by Susan Bonilla to rectify charter high school funding ? Its been over a week since he vetoed it, and no reporting on one of the most hotly contested issues in MDUSD history concerning the funding gap between a unified district and a charter high school conversion. Gov. Brown said: “I agree that the funding gap created when a high school within a unified school district converts to a charter needs to be addressed. Shifting the inequity of the current funding system, however, fromthe school district to the charter school, as this bill does, is not right.” Gov Brown will be pushing his new financing model — as I pointed out some months ago, MDUSD will suffer by that model — Is the Supt in favor of Gov Brown’s proposed revision of funding ? How do the Board members feel about it ? Why aren’t the tough relevant questions being asked, especially when there is a study that shows how each district would fare under the Governor’s proposal.

  • Doctor J
  • Doctor J
  • John Q

    Doc J, or Theresa

    What is the status of Gov Brown’s proposed revision of funding–will it pass and when would the revenue change take effect ?

  • Doctor J

    @JQ: The Gov only proposed it in the budget, but not in a legislative bill — so no revision for the current year. Its expected with his multiple explanations in vetoes of bills, that he will come back with a legistlative revision next year. Some of the good legislative commentators have spoken of if in the last week. When it passes, it will probably phase in over a 4 or 5 year period. As I pointed out months ago, and most everyone ignored it, West CC will benefit by it — San Ramon will be devastated by it — and MDUSD will be significantly hurt by it. A “middle class” district like MDUSD cannot continue to have “loaded” District administration costs and still take care of the children.

  • Doctor J

    No report on the Feeder Pattern meeting last night ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    I did not attend the feeder pattern meeting and have not heard anything about it.
    Regarding weighted pupil funding, SBE President Michael Kirst is pushing the idea, but districts are worried because there will be “winners” and “losers.”
    The idea is to give more money to students that really need it for specialized programs. But, it would take money away from students who are not considered disadvantaged.
    Regarding AB1811, I was not following it, so thanks for the update. As I have stated before, we are short-staffed and I am now covering WCCUSD as well as regional education. Today, I am doing a Fleet Week story. So, I do not have time to follow up on every issue that affects MDUSD.

  • Doctor J

    And where does the Times stand as far as the documents it previously requested, but not received, that it said “No” was not an acceptable answer ?

  • g

    Dr. J: Some really good points, and many questions we would all like to have answered. But, if you shoot the messenger too many times….

    Hearkening back to the discussions about Brian Lawrence the other day– research only shows me an ambitious party politician who is following the footsteps of others, trying to use the school board as a first rung on the political hand-in-your-pocket ladder.

    That he has small kids that may (or may not) attend district schools for 13 years is a moot point.

  • Anon

    I think Brian Lawrence is probably the most intelligent candidate we’ve had in a long time.

    Unfortunately his unwillingess to denounce the Sherry Whitmarsh campaign probably indicates where his allegiance lies.

    NO ON WHITMARSH!

  • Theresa Harrington

    g: Where are the allegations about Brian Lawrence trying to use the school board as a political stepping stone coming from?
    When I asked him about this, he said he does not have any plans to seek higher office right now and he does not know why people are making that assumption.
    Anon: Brian Lawrence said he does not consider himself to be running “against” anyone else. However, he has been critical of some past board actions.

  • g

    Theresa, there were no quotation marks on any of my comment–thus, no quoted “allegations.” I generally do my own research and make my own extrapolations from the two+two I come up with.

    I started with:

    http://www.smartvoter.org/2008/06/03/ca/cc/vote/lawrence_b/

    I happen to be a registered Dem—but that doesn’t blind me to the party faults, or the good I see in those with other party affiliations. I vote my conscience and the issues.

    Lawrence, it seems may not be of that same persuasion.

    Let me ask you. Do you believe his goal is limited to what Should Be an Apolitical local school board?

  • g

    As for any candidate stating that they are not running “against” anyone, while “opposing” them in the contest, is slicing the politically-correct bread pretty thinly.

  • Anon

    @G46 – Oops, there is that pesky Paul Strange endorsement in 2006 again….just like the Whitmarsh, Eberhart, Strange endorsement in 2010. Not to mention his still unexplained and unjustified claim to be an “Educator” and his ties to some people like Matt juhl-Darlington. He has also been snuggling up to some Walnut Creek political types like Kish Rajan who has been acting as a political mentor.

    G. is right.

  • Doctor J

    @#48 Lets not forget his refusal to identify his 717 Facebook friends, which we already know include Whitmarsh, Eberhart and Strange.

  • Anon

    Stop the presses!

    This guy was endorsed by Paul Strange. That in and of itself speaks volumes. No wonder he won’t denounce the Whitmarsh campaign.