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Contra Costa Times editorial board endorses Lawrence and Mason in MDUSD race

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, October 29th, 2012 at 11:29 am in Education, Election, Mt. Diablo school district.

Since many blog readers appear to be interested in commenting on the Times’ endorsement of Brian Lawrence and Debra Mason, I am reposting the editorial below. Please note that I am not on the editorial board and did not write this editorial. As a reporter, I do not endorse candidates.

“Contra Costa Times editorial: Lawrence and Mason for school board in Mt. Diablo Unified

© Copyright 2012, Bay Area News Group

As voters select two Mt. Diablo school trustees on Nov. 6, they should reflect on recent years of district leadership plagued by arrogance, deception, secrecy and ethical lapses.

In 2010, trustees and Superintendent Steven Lawrence misled voters about the long-term costs associated with an ill-conceived $348 million bond issue. They also promised a cap on the resulting tax rate for property owners. After voters approved the bonds, trustees reneged and exceeded the cap by 50 percent.

Meanwhile, during the election, the superintendent held private meetings with Chevron at his home. The oil giant was vying for a $66 million solar installation to be paid from the bond proceeds. The company was also treating him to drinks and he was soliciting golf discounts from the firm.

After the election, the district was headed toward awarding the contract to Chevron without competitive bidding until this newspaper started asking questions. When Chevron actually had to compete with other companies, it didn’t bother.

Then, in 2011, disenchantment with administrators at Clayton Valley High sparked the largest teacher-led conversion to a charter school in Northern California. While district officials complained about the extra cost, they ignored that they brought it on themselves by being tone-deaf to the concerns of teachers and parents. District trustees rejected the charter, but the county Office of Education overturned that decision, allowing the school to open in July.

Meanwhile, parents seeking information, as well as this newspaper, have been repeatedly stonewalled by administrators, including school district attorney Greg Rolen, who deny or delay access to public information.

This circle-the-wagon mentality must end. And that must start at the top with the removal of one of the intransigent board members, Sherry Whitmarsh, who happens to work for Chevron, sees nothing wrong with Lawrence’s cozy relationship with the firm and spearheaded early contract renewals for Lawrence and Rolen. She also tries to perpetuate the fantasy that the district is open and responsive to the public.

Whitmarsh is the only incumbent seeking re-election in the Nov. 6 election for two board seats. We urge voters to instead support Brian Lawrence of Walnut Creek (no relation to the superintendent with the same last name) and Debra Mason of Bay Point.

The fourth candidate, former principal Barbara Oaks, didn’t understand the bond program nor realize most of the money was to go for school construction. It was a stunning admission.

Lawrence and Mason understand the program. Both regularly attend school board meetings. Lawrence brings financial expertise while Mason brings the experience of 22 years as a district instructional assistant and would add much-needed geographic diversity to the board.

(A fifth candidate on the ballot, Ernie Detrinidad, dropped out of the race.)

Lawrence and Mason argue for district transparency and question the cost of the bond program. The district was antagonistic to teachers and parents during the charter school review, Lawrence says. Mason says she was appalled by how they were treated.

It’s time for responsive leadership that’s open, honest and ethical. Elect Lawrence and Mason.”

It’s my understanding that the editorial board interview conducted by Dan Borenstein will eventually be posted online at http://www.contracostatimes.com/video.

Do you agree with the Times’ editorial board’s endorsements?

NOV. 1 UPDATE: Here is a link to video of the Times’ editorial board interview: http://youtu.be/ak9H7-AMpK0

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114 Responses to “Contra Costa Times editorial board endorses Lawrence and Mason in MDUSD race”

  1. g Says:

    50-50. Waiting for the video.

  2. Jim Says:

    Theresa — I know you’re not on the editorial board, and may not be at all privy to their discussions, but I was surprised by the following: “The fourth candidate, former principal Barbara Oaks, didn’t understand the bond program nor realize most of the money was to go for school construction. It was a stunning admission.”

    It seems almost impossible that a board candidate wouldn’t know this (although, admittedly, we’ve had serving board members whose ignorance in other matters was equally stunning…). Can you offer any more information on that statement from the endorsement? If true, it would seem to put Ms. Oaks completely out of consideration.

  3. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Jim, According to my notes, I believe the editorial is referring to Oaks’ initial impression of the bond program, when the district first informed her about it. At that time, she said she was asked if she would support a bond that would fund solar projects, which would, in turn, provide energy cost-savings that could fund benefits and salaries.

    “Beyond that,” she said, “it was really not made clear to me that there was going to be $200 million for other projects.”

    Borenstein asked her if she thought solar was the primary purpose of the bond. She replied: “That was my impression.”

    But, earlier in the discussion, Oaks said: “This was a way of getting funding into the district, not only for solar, but for widening the Internet band, air conditioning at school sites…”

    She also said it bothered her that the board broke its promise regarding the tax rate and she suggested that perhaps the board should re-evaluate whether it really needs to spend the entire $348 million.

    So, my impression was that Oaks now understands that the bond measure is paying for construction projects, but that she didn’t appear to understand that when the district initially informed her about it. For more info on her apparent role in coming up with the CPHS list of projects, please see my comment at http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2012/10/23/mdusd-10-22-12/#comment-32798

  4. anon Says:

    “Responsible leadership that is open, honest, ethical” – I agree with Mason but Lawrence’s long track record of political connections with Strange, Eberhart, and Whitmarsh, campaign contributions from Matt juhl-Darlington, and other trade unions that benefit from Measure C projects are suspect. His cynical use of “Educator” on his ballot designation for political gain raises doubts about his ethics and honesty. Remember this is a guy who was handpicked by Eberhart and Strange to take Strange’s spot on the board two years ago. I would bet that had Eberhart decided to run again Lawrence would not have.
    Sorry, CCT, Lawrence does not live up to your standard of being ” open,honest, and ethical”.

  5. g Says:

    I think Anon is right. Think about being asked a very generic question like: “Would you support a bond measure to install solar that would save save millions on energy and bring income to the General Fund?” Who wouldn’t answer yes.

    Now ask it this way: “Would you support a $350 million bond that will cost future generations over a $1 billion and take up to 40 years to repay, but in the meantime, we will build solar, add a swimming pool (or two) throw away dozens of nearly new air conditioner units and replace them, and we will save many millions of dollars on energy, which, unfortunately, will still not allow us to even come close to a dollar-for-dollar break even point?

  6. g Says:

    Theresa #3: “…Oaks now understands that the bond measure is paying for construction projects, but that she didn’t appear to understand that when the district initially informed her about it….”

    That alone fully explains her comments. Early on, she, and many-many others were only asked the more “generic” question I gave as an example in my above comment.

    I think the editorial board came up short in their analysis and misinterpreted Oaks’ statements–hopefully that misinterpretation was not intentional, or due to any outside pressures.

    I fail to see anything I would call a “stunning admission” if it were put in the proper context (which I believe YOU tried to do).

    Still waiting for the video to see if this was really the only “stunning” thing said that was worth mentioning in the paper.

  7. Doctor J Says:

    Its another, WHO knew WHAT and WHEN did they KNOW it ? Perhaps someone can start a timeline. Remember that Steven Lawrence was “hired” in Nov 2009 but did not actually report for work until Feb 1, 2010. So when was Barbara Oaks asked for the first time what she would support ? Who asked it ?

  8. Anon Says:

    So teachers were holding signs in front of Diablo View today for Lawrence and Oaks. This morning was no on 32

  9. Doctor J Says:

    And where are the campaign finance statements that were due Oct 25 ?

  10. Doctor J Says:

    Cocovote.com reports they are having scanning problems with candidate finance statements. Brian Lawrence filed his statement and can be viewed at the county offices or purchased ten cents a copy. Perhaps Theresa can post it.

  11. Anon Says:

    In my OPINION,

    These scanning problems are very favorable to the Whitmarsh campaign. Hmmmmm……

    Are there union workers doing the scanning?

  12. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: I don’t think there was anything else “stunning” in the interview.
    But, the teacher evaluation discussion was interesting.
    Oaks said she has worked with about three teachers who probably shouldn’t be in that profession. She said site administrators need to let them know what is and isn’t acceptable (such as foul language).
    Mason said some teachers are bullies and that they should be held accountable for the same anti-bullying rules that must be adhered to by students. She said often, problem teachers are just transferred to another school and that it can take years of documenting before such teachers are let go.
    Lawrence said site administrators who evaluate teachers should have teaching experience themselves. He said great teachers want to work with great teachers and mentioned the PAR (Peer Assistance Review) program, which can help mentor struggling teachers.
    Whitmarsh had already left when this question was asked.

  13. Doctor J Says:

    San Diego’s National School board president Pearl Quiñones, running for re-election, is one of two school board members charged by the District Attorney’s Office with accepting bribes and failing to report meals, theater tickets and other gifts received from contractors while awarding millions of dollars in bond money to those contractors. She has pleaded not guilty to felony charges. I have asked this numerous times: has anyone got copies of Steven Lawrence’s andthe Board’s FPPC Form 700’s for the last 5 years to see what they received from Measure C supporters and contractors ? I would hope Theresa would post those for all to see. Read what kind of “perks” the contractors were “wining and dining” the Board members with ! Could that have happened in MDUSD ? http://www.10news.com/news/bribery-charges-added-in-sweetwater-district-probe

  14. Jim Says:

    @13 Dr. J — I have to say, this sort of thing is so commonplace, it is surprising that anyone ever notices. I am not being cynical. It’s just a fact in large school districts. Outright bribes are (usually) not acceptable anymore, even in places like Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC, Detroit, Miami-Dade, and New Orleans etc. where they used to be commonplace. But this kind of entertainment is still very common, and often it’s an expected perk of being a high-level school administrator. If you see criminal charges, it is usually because the alleged perpetrator somehow got onto the wrong side of someone important. Otherwise, no one ever follows up on this sort of thing.

    In my years of working with districts across the country, I saw a lot more unprofessional and unethical behavior than I ever did during my prior career working in banking in New York. School administrators know that they control an important monopoly with lots of money to spend, and they know that they are, basically, accountable to no one. We are not going to improve the ethical climate in large school districts until we change that basic situation.

  15. Anon Says:

    Many of these school bond measures are really nothing more than a license to steal for some people.

  16. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It’s interesting to compare the way districts spend their bond money. Although WCCUSD’s schools are about the same age as many in MDUSD, that district has chosen to completely rebuild schools instead of doing upgrades or improvements, the way MDUSD does. This is what gives some people the impression that MDUSD is simply putting on band-aids instead of making wholesale improvements.

    El Cerrito HS has a performing arts center that far outshines anything in MDUSD. In fact, it rivals theaters at Monte Vista and San Ramon Valley high schools in SRVUSD and at Las Lomas HS in the Acalanes District. Also, I attended a WCCUSD candidates’ forum in an elementary school multiuse room in that had wooden floors and a permanent wooden stage, with stairs leading up to it. This is the kind of stage that Sequoia MS is so desperately seeking.

    I happened to see the new Sequoia MS principal at the Common Core summit and mentioned the Sequoia stage to her. She said it is on the updated Measure C list of projects, but there is some question about whether Measure C will be able to fully fund it. So, the PFC has made it a priority and is trying to come up with matching funds. Yet, the entire cost of the stage, according to the drama teacher, is $100,000. With all the millions being spent on solar and new air conditioners to replace air conditioning systems that were already purchased by parent groups, it’s surprising that it seems to be so difficult to get a stage built at Sequoia MS.

    Meanwhile, workers are putting the final touches on an Eagle insignia that is being embossed in the center of the quad at Kennedy HS in Richmond in WCCUSD, paid for with that district’s bond measure.

  17. g Says:

    Jim: Worth reading again, and again…:

    “School administrators know that they control an important monopoly with lots of money to spend, and they know that they are, basically, accountable to no one. We are not going to improve the ethical climate in large school districts until we change that basic situation.”

    When those administrators reach county state, and even Federal levels, they give little beyond lip service to accountability at the district level.

    “Elect me–I’ve gotten a Education Bill on the floor.”

    Carefully then, through fine print and loopholes, one by one they pull the teeth out of their own legislation–to protect their constituents.

    By the time a Bill gets to a vote, it is generally unrecognizable from the original intent. That buddy system perpetuates the problems they “say” they want to solve.

    Talk about having the fox guard the hen house!

  18. g Says:

    Theresa; Perhaps, if they play their politics right, Sequoia MS parents will get lucky like Northgate. Remember all those hundreds of thousands of dollars Northgate parents raised to build/refurbish their stadium and bleachers?

    Certain people played the “right side” of politics, and suddenly–the district said we would all pay for it with bonds and lease-backs–and Northgate parents were, apparently left with a hefty bank account to do “other” things.

  19. Jim Says:

    @16 Theresa — There is a fundamental issue of finance here that many school administrators apparently fail to grasp. Bond money is borrowed for a long time — often 30 years — so it should be used to pay for projects with that kind of useful life. Smaller repairs, and investments in things with a short-term life, like computers, white boards, new doors and so on, should be done out of a maintenance reserve that is added to yearly as money is drawn from it for those things. Continually borrowing long-term for such short-term operating expenses gradually shifts the burden of today’s operating costs onto a future generation that must repay the money. And what will THEY do? Perpetuate the cycle? For how long? It’s simply not “sustainable”, to borrow a word from the “green” solar vocabulary.

    Moreover, this kind of financial mismanagement misleads everyone about what the operating expenses of our schools truly are. I don’t believe that MDUSD administrators, and many others, have any idea what it actually costs to operate our schools according to the generally accepted accounting principles used elsewhere in our society — you know…where, if you don’t follow them, you can end up in jail. It just amazes me that we give so much power to school administrators who are so mediocre, and often, frankly, deceitful. But there they are, educating our children!

  20. Clayton Mamma Says:

    Theresa, CVCHS has finally posted Governing Board meeting minutes! Thank you for nudging them. Any chance you can get them to post their standing committee meeting minutes as well?

    Unfortunately, there was no discussion in the minutes about why they were terminating their contract with ExEd. I assume all discussions were held in closed sesssion. CVCHS had to pay ExEd $27,500 to get out of the contract. Did you have any luck finding out what happened or what the reputation is of the new company? I thought ExEd was a top-notch organization and was confident they could handle the back office functions. I am puzzled and concerned about this development.

  21. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Clayton Mamma at #20:

    have you tried asking CVCHS admin for the info?

  22. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No, with elections and Giants coverage, I haven’t had time to follow up and I didn’t really nudge them, aside from mentioning your blog comment to a parent.

    Jim: I have heard many people question the amount of money being spent on doors and door hardware, which some people said was not needed. The Measure C budget calls for an expenditure of $773,500 on exterior doors, at a unit cost of $3,250 each. In addition, it calls for an expenditure of $775,680 on door hardware, at a unit cost of $1,010 each.

    The schools that are spending the most on doors and hardware are: Oak Grove MS, which is getting 25 doors at a cost of $81,250; and Ygnacio Valley Elementary, which is getting 72 units of door hardware, at a cost of $72,720.

    g: My understanding was that Northgate was able to use some of the money it raised to leverage along with its fair share of Measure C money to build its projects. I don’t believe it’s getting more Measure C money than anyone else. But, you’re right that the Measure C helped offset the money the Northgate Pride Foundation thought it would have to raise by itself.

    What is more confusing to me is how the district allocates Prop. 55 money. MDHS decided it wanted an IHTA gourmet kitchen that is not being funded through Measure C, so the district decided to fund it with Prop. 55. Maybe Sequoia MS should ask for Prop. 55 money, if it comes up short for its stage.

  23. Jim Says:

    @23 Theresa — To be fair to MDUSD, commercial doors are expensive, and they get a lot of hard use in schools. They also often look like hell in the local schools that I visit. IMHO, that tends to foster a decrepit and chaotic first impression for students and visitors at a school. The “haunted house” entrance doors to one of my neighborhood schools — dented, chipped and clouded glass, smeared with four tones of paint patches, screeching like banshees when you pried them open — reminded me of the doors to a school I used to walk past in Harlem, when I lived in NY. (That school was plain scary, and I always stepped a bit faster when I had to walk by that place.) Those MDUSD doors were a constant reminder that even though we live in a great neighborhood, with great neighbors and kids, our schools are third-rate, by any national comparison.

    That said, they shouldn’t be using 30-year money to replace doors and door handles. Remember, if your kids are still living here in 2040 (and mine would like to, if it weren’t for the schools), they will still be paying for those doors.

  24. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Since I am also helping to cover tax measures in other districts, I was just reading through the voter pamphlet for Antioch’s bond measure. It states: “State law requires the district’s chief fiscal officer to annually file with the district Board of Trustees a report that states the amount of proceeds generated from the sale of bonds, the amount expended for improvements and the status of the improvements to be funded with bond proceeds.”

    I assume this law applies to MDUSD’s Measure C, as well. But, I don’t recall any reports by Bryan Richards to the board about this. I recall presentations by Pete Pedersen and the Bond Oversight Committee. Has Richards been complying with this state requirement?

  25. Doctor J Says:

    CoCo election scanner “still down” — someone will have to pay ten cents a copy in Martinez and post the financial statements of candidates. No plans to fix the scanner before the election — how convenient for the candidates and how inconvenient for the voters !

  26. g Says:

    Theresa #22: Theresa, as I recall, after a long hard try, Northgate Pride had managed to save enough for the new bleachers. The district came in and hired the Texas company on a full cost lease/leaseback arrangement at district expense.

    Now suddenly, even though just two years ago Pedersen assured neighbors there was NO swimming pool money, or any plans in the foreseeable future to build a pool, what are they doing? Pool!

    I have no problem with them getting anything they can. When students work hard they deserve the perks!

    As for Prop 55—that is ‘supposed to’ be used as ‘matching funds’ per project, but you will never be able to break it out under current accounting methods.

    Think of the many approvals the board has voted on that said the item would be charged specifically to one or the other Measure Cs –or Prop 55; then later, look at Warrants and see those items charged partially or entirely to a different budget.

    Pedersen runs the entire facilities budget; Richards plugs in the numbers he’s given. I suspect he isn’t even allowed to have an eraser in the room.

  27. Anon Says:

    Dr J #25,

    In my OPINION the Whtimarsh campaign or rather the high roller backing of the Whitmarsh campaign is what is leading to the “slow down” in getting the scanner back up and running.

  28. Anon Says:

    G: Au contraire, Northgate Pride was trying to raise the bleacher funds within a few years. In the meantime Northgate was paying to rent bleachers-a wasteful annual expense and not enough seats to accommodate all visitors. Fortuitously as Theresa explained the district provided funds, the same amount to each of the high schools, and Northgate voted to fast track the bleachers and then the pool. The only advantage is that Northgate had plans ready to go. Kindly do not speculate when you do not have correct information.

  29. Doctor J Says:

    Its not a pool; its an aquatic center at Northgate ! Is this article inaccurate ? Is that the same amount of Meas C money all other schools got ?http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_21594381/walnut-creeks-northgate-high-track-get-aquatics-center

  30. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: I defer to anon regarding Northgate.

    Regarding Prop. 55, the point I’m making is that the funds don’t appear to be “matching” anything. Why does MDHS get projects fully funded by Prop. 55, while Sequoia MS can’t even get a stage that was its Number 2 Measure C priority fully funded? (Even though the cost is $100,000 and the district set aside nearly $300,000 for unspecified improvements at the site.) If the district can’t follow through on the funding promised in the Measure C budget, why isn’t it offering Prop. 55 funding to help pay for the stage, instead of asking the Sequoia PFC to come up with matching funds?

  31. anon Says:

    As a member of one of the District’s Parent Groups, I am tired of being the District’s ATM. Enough already. We are paying salaries, buying supplies, and doing the work some employees just don’t want to do. Now they want us to match funds to upgrade facilities? I am not a SMS parent, just using the matching funds for the stage as an example.

    In the meantime, we are often treated like an inconvenient nuisance when we need a little help, or ask to use district facilities.

  32. Theresa Harrington Says:

    This is in sharp contrast to what I’m hearing is happening at CVCHS. There, parents are being welcomed with open arms and thanked profusely for their help. Although they may be pumping money and volunteer hours into the school, they feel like they are part of the school community, instead of an inconvenient nuisance.

    MDUSD is a little behind-the-times when it comes to viewing its facilities as community assets. Other districts, such as Oakland and WCCUSD, view their campuses as community centers integral to the neighborhoods they serve. In fact, they are adding services such as dental and health clinics to encourage families to come to the schools and view them as resources.

    As has been pointed out in the past, MDUSD leaders often talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk. They talk about wanting to build community partnerships, but seem to find it difficult to do this. The latest traffic accident outside Mt. Diablo Elementary is a good example. Although Linda Mayo has said the district should strengthen communications with city leaders to develop Safe Routes to Schools to improve pedestrian and bike access to campuses, district leaders spurned Clayton Councilmen David Shuey and Joe Medrano when they reached out an olive branch after the CVCHS approval. If the district had accepted that olive branch, it could have been discussing the traffic problems outside Mt. Diablo Elementary with the Clayton Police Chief, City Manager and Mayor — instead of reading in the newspaper about its students being hit.

    The WCCUSD board doesn’t just talk about reaching out to cities. It actually does it. Each board member is assigned as a liaison to one of its cities and regularly attends City Council meetings. But, the only time MDUSD board members attend City Council meetings is when they want something — such as school crossing guards.

    Ongoing communication between cities and district officials would help to build community trust in the district. CVCHS has put that into practice, but MDUSD doesn’t seem to have the will to follow through on this stated goal. Which reminds me, I wonder when the board will see any action items related to putting the recently adopted strategic plan into practice.

  33. Mka Says:

    I take offense to the derogatory comment about Ms. Oaks. Ms. Oaks may have been caught off guard about the bonds however, she was an excellent special ed teacher, VP and Principal @ College Park. I think she can bring so much more to the table than Mason. Barbara would be familiar with ed codes, laws, school and classroom procedures,regulations, management. Ms. Mason was an instructional aide. Can’t even compare. Vote for Barbara Oaks!

  34. Anon Says:

    TH#32-Hallelujah!

  35. Doctor J Says:

    @Mka — You can vote for both ! Please tell me why Barbara Oaks did not file her campaign finance statement due Oct 25 ?

  36. Doctor J Says:

    @TH “sharp contrast” — Nicely done. As far as “action items” to put the Strategic Plan into “practice” ? ROTFLMAO. Steven Lawrence will probably hire a consultant for that; its beyond his job skillset.

  37. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I was surprised when I attended the Common Core Standards workshop put on by the COE and heard that the Martinez district doesn’t hire outside consultants for staff development. Instead, it sends its curriculum specialist and principals to trainings, then expects them to provide staff development to teachers.
    Although this seemed to be MDUSD’s plan when it created the SASS coaching positions, it’s unclear whether MDUSD has actually put this into practice. Instead, it seems that MDUSD brings in lots of consultants to train teachers in things the SASS coaches and principals should already know how to do.

  38. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Please note that I have just added a Nov. 1 update to this blog post with a link to the video of the editorial board interview with the MDUSD candidates.

  39. Anon Says:

    TH #30,

    You are missing one important point that drives home why Northgate gets all the goodies and Sequioa gets screwed.

    McMorris did the dirty work on Lawrence’s anti-CVCHS campaign. He is simply being “Paid-Off”. In my opinion he should be fired.

  40. Question Says:

    Theresa: You note that you hear at CVCHS that “parents are being welcomed with open arms and thanked profusely for their help. Although they may be pumping money and volunteer hours into the school, they feel like they are part of the school community, instead of an inconvenient nuisance.” Are you saying CVCHS parents were treated poorly before — not being welcomed, not being thanked? I am trying to figure out what specific rules, regulations, etc. changed that may have facilitated this culture shift (if a shift really exists). I know MDUSD has a volunteer activity approval form, required by Local 1 (I think), which seems ridiculous. I am not sure of the history behind that. I am assume CVCHS has a more streamlined process for a project, campus clean-up, etc.

  41. Anon Says:

    Anon#39: Go back and study how to read English: all the high schools got the same amount. And if you study History: you would learn that it was Linda L, not McMorris, who fought the district to get any Measure C money for any of the high schools, including wherever students go after Sequoia. You’re wasting your time and energy attacking Northgate, instead you should study Economics: how does Pedersen plan to pay for a brand spanking new Bay Point school ?

  42. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Question: Yes, that’s my understanding regarding the culture shift. Also, you’re right that parents were prevented from doing certain sorts of volunteer work that was considered to be union work. Now, parents can paint walls and do other projects they previously weren’t able to do.
    However, I don’t think all parents felt unwelcome or that they were never thanked before. My impression is that the change is sort of like floodgates being opened — kind of like they felt stifled before and now there are less obstacles.
    Also, there was a change of leadership at the school during the last year before it converted. It was my understanding that Sue Brothers and her team attempted to address some of the issues that had been festering under the previous administration. I know there were parents who were pleased with Brothers’ “can do” attitude and said she was responsive to their concerns.

    Anons: To my knowledge, there is no evidence that Northgate is getting anything it doesn’t deserve. And you are right that it was Linda Mayo who asked the board to fast-track improvements at the high schools. She appeared to realize that taxpayers wanted to see upgrades to their children’s classrooms before they graduated, instead of waiting for years while the district sped ahead on its first priority — solar panels.

  43. Anon Says:

    Theresa,
    You got the wrong Linda…..it wasn’t Mayo.

  44. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Linda L. may have pushed for it behind the scenes, but I remember Linda Mayo speaking in support of the idea when it came before the board. Obviously, if it didn’t have board support, it wouldn’t have been approved. Thanks for explaining the origin. I don’t recall Linda L. publicly taking credit for that.

  45. Anon Says:

    Linda L. didn’t take credit for it because her ego isn’t an issue, it’s getting things done that interest her. I would trade Linda L for Linda M on the board in a minute. At least Linda L. stands for something. Mayo has just been a “me, too” with Eberhart and Whitmarsh the last two years. Right after this election you will start hearing more demands for her recall or resignation.

  46. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Rumor on the street is that the RECALL MAYO and DENNLER campaign is already lining up volunteers to gather signatures.

  47. Doctor J Says:

    Brian Lawrence has now removed from the public Facebook page his occupation of “politician” but still refuses to reveal his 721 Facebook friends. His Oct 25 campaign financial statement remains unkown since CoCoVote’s scanner continues to be “down”.

  48. Brian Lawrence Says:

    “Doctor” J,

    I have no clue what you are talking about. I have a Facebook page for my candidacy at: https://www.facebook.com/briantlawrence.

    It states: “Politician, Candidate for the Mt. Diablo School Board”. I’ve never removed that listing and it is appearing there now, when I look at the page.

    I hand-delivered my campaign financial statement to the Registrar’s office on the due date. I have no idea why their scanner is broken. Perhaps you can use a finger printing kit to figure it out.

    After that, perhaps you can tackle some other big mysteries such as:

    – Who is Debra Mason friends with on MySpace?
    – Why hasn’t Barbara Oakes revealed her Christmas card list?
    – When will Sherry Whitmarsh turn over every person listed in her phone book?
    – Why aren’t any of the candidates revealing who they have friended on Friendster?
    – Do we know, really know, that all of the candidates were not born in Kenya?

  49. Doctor J Says:

    Brian, now it shows again as “politician”. I am not blaming you for the scanner issue. Go ahead and post your financial statement for the public to view it. I like what you say, but show us your “facebook friends” ! Be open and transparent as you advocate. Walk the walk, just don’t talk the talk.

  50. g Says:

    Oh, yeah! Now THAT is the personality we want to have up there in the big swivel chair; making decisions about the children’s future! He’ll fit nicely into the impression left by Eberhart.

    Not!

  51. Doctor J Says:

    G permit me to correct your post: He’ll fit nicely into the depression left by Eberhart. LOL.

  52. Anon Says:

    @Brian #48
    Here’s one for you – How do you get off portraying yourself as an “Educator”? Explain that and be clear. Tell us about your political alliances with Gary,Sherry, and Paul, and your campaign money from Matt juhl-Darlington. C’mon, Brian, confession is good for the soul. Tell the public why we should trust a political opportunist like you. Frankly, the moment you wrote “Educator” as your ballot designation, you disqualified yourself as a credible candidate.

  53. Brian Lawrence Says:

    Most of my donations have been via PayPal. I downloaded the info and created a public spreadsheet in Google:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AmyMVeYmpyTidE5jTDRUZEpKV01hQXV6eDBUZmgxdVE

    I also received 3 or 4 checks prior to Oct. 25, I believe the total was for less than $500. They are listed in my financial filing, but I do not have a copy with me to verify at the moment.

  54. Anon Says:

    What credentials do you hold, Brian?

  55. Jim Says:

    This discussion of Brian Lawrence’s FB friends and financial filings provides a perfect window into why it is so difficult to manage a large school district monopoly via public elections (that most of the electorate doesn’t even care about). I would bet that many people do not care about his FB friends. (I probably have FB friends whom I would not even recognize on the street.) And while it would be nice to know who is funding the various campaigns, it appears that he has done what is expected, as far as disclosure.

    It would be nice if voters would reflect on some of the larger issues facing MDUSD: lack of coherent planning; inability to hold anyone, at any level, to any identifiable standard of accountability; obstinate opposition to almost any viable form of school choice; a reputation that is so sullied that we consistently have to dig to the bottom of the barrel to fill positions that are open from our above-average turnover; and the inability (or unwillingness) to employ the most basic tools of transparency and professional governance in running this almost-$300 million enterprise.

    There are plenty of additional substantive issues to consider. But let’s put down the trivia and at least start with those.

  56. Wait a Minute Says:

    Hi Brian,
    Jim@55 makes a good point so I will repeat my question to you that I made several weeks ago here on the blog.

    What do you intend to do to hold people accountable for the numerous mistakes, mis-steps, unethical decisions (some of which you have mentioned as being wrong in your opinion before) if you are elected?

  57. Brian Lawrence Says:

    @ Jim #55 and Wait A Minute # 56,

    Thanks for the thoughtful points.

    In my view, the Superintendent is the person that the Board should primarily hold accountable. It is why I have repeatedly asked the Board: “What are the goals and expectations for the Superintendent and how is the District performing against those?”
    This absolutely should have been part of the dialogue regarding the contract extensions for the Superintendent and top administrators.

    When issues like the loss of QEIA funding at Mt. Diablo come up, the Board should demand answers and accountability. It shouldn’t just be a witch hunt- it also means that as an organization the District should learn from these errors and have a game plan for improvement.

    As a Board Member, I’ll demand accountability. That means if the Board is told “We will look in to that for you”, then at the next meeting I expect a public report. Everyone makes mistakes, but the critical part is that we create a culture that combines feedback and accountability.

  58. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I remembered why I thought of Linda Mayo in relation to the Measure C high school funding — she was the trustee who insisted that Olympic High also get extra money for improvements.

    Regarding my earlier question about Bryan Richards’ Measure C reporting, here is his emailed response:

    “It appears the requirement mentioned by Antioch USD in their pamphlet is Government Code Section 53411. This section requires an annual report of funds collected and expended for any bond issued.

    The State has automated the financial reporting through the SACS reports that are approved by the board at each interim reporting period and the official annual expenditure report, a.k.a. the unaudited actuals, which were presented to the board on September 24th.

    General Obligation Bonds’ Construction funds are reported on Form 21.
    Mello Roos Construction funds are reported on Form 49.
    General Obligation Bonds’ Debt Service & Redemption are reported on Form 51.
    Mello Roos Bonds’ Debt Service & Redemption are reported on Form 52.

    The status of project reports in our District are presented by the Facilities Department. Pete presented the most recent one a couple of board meetings ago. I think his last report to the Board is on the Measure C website. If it isn’t there, it would be on the board agenda website.

    The Unaudited Actuals (the official report of revenues and expenditures for the year) are on the Budget & Fiscal Services website, and are attached to the September 24 board agenda.”

    Obviously, it would be a bit easier for the public to find this information if there was a comprehensive report submitted to the board that just covered the bond expenditures. But, at least now, we know where to look for the details.

  59. Anon Says:

    Brian Lawrence is full of it…..when did he ever stand up and ask the board about how the superintendent is measured against school district outcomes? He didn’t and he can’t produce any proof that he did. Merely because you say something doesn’t make it so. That’s an Eberhart tactic.

    First, he calls himself an “educator”, an outright insult to all teachers in the district. Apparently, in Lawrence’s mind, talking to barbers at barber school is equivalent to being a certificated teacher. But, it looks good on the ballot, doesn’t it?
    He also refuses to explain his ties to Eberhart, Strange, and Whitmarsh and others like Matt juhl-Darlington who is deeply involved in bond sales for Measure C.

    However, here is the seminal moment for Lawrence where he doesn’t quite qualify for the Profiles in Courage award. April 23, 2012, the Board majority is about to extend the superintendent’s contract despite the fact that 10 of the 12 speakers have opposed it. While this is going on, Brian Lawrence sits in the back row corner of the Board room and says nothing, not wishing to possibly provoke the ire of his handlers, Eberhart and Whitmarsh, by even speaking. Meanwhile, Eberhart and Whitmarsh the board majority pushes through a contract extension by a 4-1 vote.

    We are saddled with one Lawrence who is a disaster, we don’t need another one to make it catastrophic.

  60. Doctor J Says:

    Nice article about campaign spending in Pleasant Hill race. What is happening in the MDUSD race ? http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_21917927/campaign-cash-race-pleasant-hill-martinez-leads-loans

  61. Wait a Minute Says:

    Brian Lawrence@57

    Brian, while I agree that a board’s focus should be primarily on the superintendent, I also believe a board MUST hold ALL senior management accountable for their actions.

    IMO and I believe this is held by most others who follow the MDUSD, Greg Rolen is the “kingmaker” of the MDUSD and he has had undue influence and causation on virtually all of its scandals.

    This includes the SPC Ed transportation disasters under his watch as manager of transportation for which his compensation was upped some $20,00 and the scandal regarding the translation contract now in excess of $100,00 in total which as we all know his girlfriend (now wife) owns the business. Then there is the unseeming moves by Rolen to withhold from the public’s scrutiny documents like the FCAT reports and what he did to obfuscate taxpayer advocate Alicia Minyen on the Measure C committee.

    My question to you Brian is how would if elected as a board member go about holding Rolen and other senior management employees accountable for any mis-deeds they have wrought on the district and public?

  62. Theresa Harrington Says:

    WAM: Don’t forget the “thorough” and “definitive” Poway analysis referenced by Superintendent Lawrence and Trustee Gary Eberhart, which Board President Sherry Whitmarsh said was actually a closed session conversation with Rolen and which Mayo said was a document received by the entire board, but which Trustee Cheryl Hansen initially never recalled receiving. Later, when she was given the document again, she said it was neither “thorough” nor “definitive.” Yet, this is the document the board ostensibly relied on when it assured the public that it was acting within the law by paying cost of issuance with bond premium.

    It is also worth repeating that Trustee Linda Mayo made a motion not to include Rolen’s contract in the extensions and she didn’t sign his first contract. The second round of contracts — approved in April — still have not been finalized and signed by trustees. Time is running out for Eberhart to sign those contracts. Hansen voted against them. If Whitmarsh isn’t re-elected, Rolen may not have a majority of board members in favor of extending his contract after the election.

  63. Tagg Says:

    Election time…… And I have so little to vote on….. Except to cast my vote against Whitmarsh!
    How about we all write in “Cheryl Hansen” in the two blanks and give Cheryl another two seats on the board. She is the only one there with integrity to watch out for us all.
    Maybe she can energize the new board to “come clean” and work for the students instead of special interests.

  64. g Says:

    Tagg: Thanks for the comment. It brought me back to this thread. Theresa, the next questions for Bryan Richards would be: “Does Jeff McDaniel do anything?”

    He got his big title and raise a couple of years ago, (thanks to Pedersen/Rolen) but as far as I can tell, when it hits the fan—and it regularly does; busing, toilets, drinking water, poorly executed contract oversight, etc.— McDaniel is incommunicado.

    Did he have to agree to keep a low profile and continue to let Pedersen “run the show” in exchange for that raise?

    I looked at the most recent Organization Chart, and Pete Pedersen’s name is not there.

  65. Theresa Harrington Says:

    At tonight’s board meeting, Board President Sherry Whitmarsh and outgoing Trustee Gary Eberhart — along with Trustee Lynne Dennler — essentially gave what could be considered a “pardon” to Greg Rolen and his wife Marisol Padilla. Although the board agreed that Padilla has been charging too much for comparable services, there was a head-scratching turn of events when the board first voted 3-2 to exclude her from a translation contract (with Eberhart and Whitmarsh against), then voted 3-2 in favor of allowing Padilla to stay in the running if she renegotiates her contract and agrees to terms that are similar to those of her competitors (with Hansen and Mayo against). The swing vote was Dennler, who seconded Eberhart’s motion to reach out to Padilla.
    There was no mention of the fact that Padilla-Rolen is Rolen’s wife. Rolen, I am told, did not take his seat on the dais at the beginning of the meeting (I arrived late, but caught the entire discussion on video). Instead, Deb Cooksey sat in the general counsel’s seat and Rolen sat there after the vote was taken. So, Rolen never made any announcement about his conflict of interest related to the item. And when trustees asked why the previous contractor had had its contract curtailed, no one on staff seemed to know the circumstances related to that — saying they weren’t here when that happened. They referred vaguely to an “incident,” which no one had any details about.

  66. Doctor J Says:

    Its really too bad that CoCoVote never got its act together to publish the Campaign Finance Statements.

  67. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#65 There’s something rotten in Denmark and Dennler’s naivity is incredulous. Padilla-Rolen’s RFP strategy — bid high and then agree to lower bids when outbid — smacks of cronyism. FPPC rule or maybe the state law require Rolen, if there is a conflict, to be out of the room. Linda Mayo’s “Reversal of Fortune” is also significant. Tonight perhaps Sherry will dream of all of those buried coffins of MDUSD scandals she has participated in starting to rise to the surface like the New Orleans coffins during Hurricane Katrina. I just don’t know how Sherry will live wondering which coffin will be the next to pop up and open. Her “Silence of the Lambs” will not serve her well.

  68. Wait a Minute Says:

    Well Theresa @65,
    I certainly hope you do a story on this egregious conflict-of-interest regarding Greg Rolen and his girlfriend/wife and their over $100,000 of taxpayer’s money they have scammed IMO.

    This so-called “incident” sounds very fishy too. Possibly a lame excuse to get rid of the previous vendor so Rolen could get his girlfriend the job at inflated rates to boot.

    Maybe you should contact the last vendor to get their side of the story?

  69. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It sounds like the district plans to rehire the previous vendor, which lends credence to the suggestion that the “incident” was not so terrible that the district would refuse to work with them. Also, it turns out that both companies use many of the same translators and that the competing company offers more languages than Rolen’s company.
    I am posting the video clips of the discussion now to YouTube/tunedtotheresa and will post links in the MDUSD 11-5-12 blog after they are all uploaded.
    Regarding Dennler — even Deb Cooksey seemed surprised by the fact that she essentially reversed herself in two consecutive votes. Cooksey pointed out that the board was right back where it started after the second vote.

  70. Wait a Minute Says:

    This is another reason why Dennler needs to be recalled.

  71. g Says:

    Marisol Padilla-Rolen states that she worked for 14 years at “a previous company” prior to starting her own company. She (coincidentally?) showed up just in time for MDUSD to discontinue CTI after 32 years of satisfactory service, over apparently one negative experience.

    That one negative is now either ‘not remembered’, or it’s a ‘buried secret’. I’d like to know which.

    Also of note; the Rolen-vs-Rolen saga began just about that same (also coincidental?) time.

    One top question I would like an answer to: Was that “previous company” she worked for — CTI?”

  72. Doctor J Says:

    @G#71 Not coincidental. Maybe its time for a reprint of the infamous “book review” by the scorned, eh ? sounds like the puzzle is all coming together.

  73. g Says:

    Question: How does this scenario fit into Robert’s Rules?

    A motion is made and passed by 3-2. One of the losing 2 then makes a motion that, in effect, “rescinds or reconsiders” the motion where he voted on the “losing” side.

    Answer: It doesn’t fit!

    “The motion can be made by any member of the committee Who Did Not Vote With The Losing Side; or, in other words, the maker of the motion to Reconsider can be one who voted with the prevailing side, or one who did not vote at all, or even was absent.”

    You can read all of the Rules at RONR 10th ed, or do a quick look up at:

    http://parlipro.org/mindbenders/mindbender0804a.htm

    Note number 2.

  74. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I was also wondering how the board could re-vote on something it had just decided against. It’s surprising that Deb Cooksey didn’t point out that that should not have been allowed.
    It’s important to note that the vote last night did not guarantee Padilla-Rolen a contract. It merely gave her the opportunity to lower her bid (which I don’t think is standard procedure in MDUSD, so it already appears that an exception is being made for no apparent reason). If the contracts don’t come back until after the election, Eberhart will be gone and Hansen and Mayo could again argue against using Padilla-Rolen’s company — especially if it doesn’t completely agree to match its competitors’ bids.
    It remains to be seen if Whitmarsh will still be there to vote for Padilla-Rolen’s contract and if Dennler will reverse herself yet again.
    It’s also possible that someone could raise a Point of Order regarding the validity of last night’s vote. Then, Rolen would have to recuse himself and Cooksey would be the one on the hot seat. Also, if Whitmarsh is not re-elected, a new board president could rule on the Point of Order. Given Mayo’s reputation for attention to detail, I’m surprised she didn’t raise this herself.

  75. Doctor J Says:

    The meeting audio is now on-line. Long discussion.

  76. Theresa Harrington Says:

    All four of my videos are also posted to YouTube, so I’ll post the links in the meeting blog post.

  77. g Says:

    Not really so surprising that Cooksey didn’t point out the error. Rolen would not have hired her if she were too inclined to stick to even the Board Bylaws, much less something as mundane as RONR, or as historically unenforceable as the Brown Act.

  78. Doctor J Says:

    Hansen’s original motion was to approve the 3 most cost effective companies — did not include Padilla’s company [AIS], but Hansen said that Padilla could come back and propose lower rates for consideration. Only approval of the companies, not contracts. Discussion was that contracts would be negotiated at a later date and brought back to board. Motion carried 3-2. Eberhart took advantage that AIS was not mentioned in the original motion and moved to approve AIS and directed staff to negotiate contracts. Eberhart said he agreed that lowest pricing structure be used and should allow AIS who has a good reputation in the district to further negotiate in a side-by-side competitive basis. Also was discussion about using in house support, including training staff to conduct IEP’s and avoiding using translators during IEP’s based on Kerri Mills experience in Santa Barbara. Discussion about allocation of services between the companies be approximately equal. Eberhart’s motion carried 3-2. Lawrence said “he heard” they are now to negotiate contracts with the four companies. Is Rolen going to be locked out from the computer system while the negotiations go on ?

  79. Doctor J Says:

    I wonder if Eberhart was receiving text messages from conflict-of-interest Greg during the Board disussion ?

  80. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I heard from one member of the audience that Rolen could be seen peeking out the door behind the board before the meeting began. That person was wondering why Rolen wasn’t seated at the dais at the beginning of the meeting.

    Dr. J: Based on what you wrote, it appears that there was no violation of Robert’s Rules of Orders, since Hansen did not specifically exclude AIS in her motion. Is that the point you are making?

  81. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    VOTE NO ON WHITMARSH!

    As soon as that is done, the people that are getting the Recall Mayo and Dennler campaigns going will need help gathering signatures.

  82. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#80 That’s the way I heard it — there was a small opening and Eberhart jumped on it. Based on the discussion I would expect that the district will offer the same pricing to all four companies, including same policies regarding mileage and minimum charges.

  83. Doctor J Says:

    Does Padilla’s AIS have a contract with any other school district ?

  84. Wait a Minute Says:

    Here is the important point here everyone.

    Greg Rolen, using his influence as the MDUSD “Kingmaker” IMO, has a massive conflict of interest and has already violated multiple ethics by having steered the recent contracts (at an inflated cost) to his then girlfriend whom he has now married.

    In other words, Rolen further padded his household income by over $100,000 by steering the contract, at an inflated rate, to his household.

    this means that we the taxpayers were ripped off yet again by Greg Rolen.

    This is very close to being fraud IMO and is certainly highly unethical because Rolen did not excuse himself from the process at the time!!!

    IMO, Greg Rolen SHOULD BE FIRED (and a complaint made to the State Bar) and AIS should not be in the running for the next contract because of this corruption!

  85. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    WAM is correct. It is time for Greg Rolen to be fired.

    Hopefully the people with the guts to do so are the ones that get elected.

  86. Doctor J Says:

    Padilla’s AIS contract approved by the Board in late August, but back dated to July 1 and limited to $68,000 should be about depleted now ! Interesting that the RFP’s didn’t go out for a month after the August board meeting, and just were on the Agenda. The new Board will have to deal with it.

  87. No On Whitmarsh Says:

    Just remember vote NO ON WHITMARSH!

  88. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Please note that I have finished uploading video clips to You Tube and including links in my 11-5-12 meeting recap blog post at http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2012/11/05/mdusd-11-5-12/

  89. Doctor J Says:

    Watching the election results and it appears Brian Lawrence and Barbara Oaks have “comfortable” leads but not insurmountable. I went back to election results in 2008 — total votes about 151,000 with Sherry garnishing 52,500 and Gary about a thousand left. Still lots of ballots to count as only 66,000 counted so far. Debra Mason and Sherry in a neck and neck race for 3rd place.

  90. g Says:

    It would be a different story right now if those 5000+ votes were not wasted on DiTrinidad.

    Too many voters who say “I don’t know anything at all about what or who I’m voting for, but golly gee, I like the sound of this guy’s name.”

    If those ignorant voters had any idea of who he suggested ‘his’ votes should go for, this would be a whole different ball game.

  91. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Results at 11:15 p.m. show Oaks is gaining on Lawrence, while Whitmarsh and Mason are falling farther behind.
    With 113 of 192 precincts reporting: Lawrence has 29.36 percent, Oaks has 24.73 percent, Whitmarsh has 18.94 percent, Mason has 18.09 percent and DeTrinidad has 8.58 percent (he’s up to 6,833 votes now). So far, 79,595 votes have been cast.

  92. Doctor J Says:

    Prop 30 is making a comeback and is now ahead after being behind all evening but only 45% of precincts statewide are reporting.

  93. Doctor J Says:

    Doesn’t look like Sherry can catch Barbara — she is down 6000 votes with 152 precincts of 192 reporting. So Doctor J is projecting Brian Lawrence and Barbara Oaks as the new MDUSD trustees.

  94. Theresa Harrington Says:

    That’s 157 of 192 precincts reporting. And yes, Whitmarsh is falling farther behind with each new report. In fact, the gap between Whitmarsh and Mason is narrowing.

    Here’s how it stands with 157 of 192 precincts reporting: Lawrence has inched up to 29.58 percent and Oaks has also picked up steam with 24.74 percent. Whitmarsh has dropped to 18.62 percent, followed closely by Mason at 18.01 percent. Even DeTrinidad is gaining, with 8.73 percent and 8,327 votes. The total votes cast now are 95,415.

  95. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I just spoke to Brian Lawrence briefly on the phone about his strong lead. Although he didn’t have a victory speech prepared, he said quietly: “I’m excited and looking forward to diving in.”

  96. Theresa Harrington Says:

    And here’s the latest, with 178 of 192 precincts reported:

    Lawrence’s lead has grown to 29.67 percent, while Oaks is gaining with 24.88 percent. Whitmarsh has dropped to 18.51 percent and Mason has dipped to 17.91 percent. DeTrinidad is holding steady at about 8.7 percent and 9,015 votes. Total votes counted so far: 103,588.

  97. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s the final tally, with all 192 precincts reported:

    Lawrence wins with 29.63 percent, followed by Oaks, with 25.01 percent.
    Whitmarsh ended up with 18.42 percent (with more than 7,000 votes less than Oaks). Mason got 17.94 percent of votes and DeTrinidad got 8.68 percent or 9,453 votes. There were 108,852 votes cast.

  98. Wait a Minute Says:

    Ding-dong the witch is dead!

  99. David "Shoe" Shuey - Clayton City Council Says:

    Congratulations to Lawrence and Oaks! What rings loud and clear is the citizens of this District were not satisfied with the way things were going. I look forward to a new Board with a new mandate to change the way things our done. I am hopeful the new Board will be more open to working together with the cities to ensure the best for our children.

  100. Doctor J Says:

    We will see if Brian Lawrence will walk the walk or if he becomes cozy with the Supt. You can bet your socks that Steven Lawrence today will begin to build a cozy relationship with Linda Mayo [who will make a play to become Board President] Brian Lawrence and Barbara Oaks to try to freeze out Cheryl Hansen. I think Steven Lawrence will be willing to sacrifice Greg Rolen within 6 months to save his own bacon.

  101. Doctor J Says:

    Spot on Shoe ! I hope the cities of MDUSD test the new board’s sincerity quickly — there is much to fix.

  102. Doctor J Says:

    First test of the new Board: what will happen with the so-called “Strategic Plan” that Brian Lawrence, Barabar Oaks, Cheryl Hansen all recognize as not being a true strategic plan — will they rescind it, and make Supt Steven Lawrence do a real one ? Will there be a public discussion of the Supt’s job performance goals ? And what about Special Education ? Already some grumblings leaking out about Kerri Mills veiled “threats” to those who don’t play by Steven Lawrence’s “new rules” on Special Ed transportation.

  103. Anon Says:

    Congratulations to the newly elected board members. All we ask is that you fulfill the clear mandate for CHANGE of this election. Let’s add a shout out to Debra Mason, who was the caliber of candidate needed for this district and her CCT endorsement was well-deserved.

    Countdown 33 days to MDUSD’s new age of enlightenment, shining the light of transparency into the darkened hallways of Dent. MDEA called for a board that can work together and to that end, Oaks and Lawrence have the opportunity for a casual get acquainted meeting in the next month. Get ready to hit the ground running in December, and bring flashlights !
    :)

  104. Theresa Harrington Says:

    This makes Eberhart and Whitmarsh’s move to save the AIS contract for Rolen one of their last actions before leaving the board.
    By the way, the district plans to host a party to celebrate Eberhart’s accomplishments on Tuesday, Nov. 27. I wonder if that will turn into a joint party to include Whitmarsh.
    I personally hope the election results will lead to agendas and minutes being posted online for feeder pattern meetings, Bay Point master plan committee meetings, technology committee meetings, facilities subcommittee meetings, Equity Advisory Team meetings, and all the other semi-secret meetings that take place in this district.

  105. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#104 There is still time for a couple of “Special Meetings”. I guarantee you that Steven Lawrence did not sleep well last night. He did not survive a Board change in West Sac and will not survive this Board change either.

  106. Wait a Minute Says:

    It should be very telling on who shows up to The Gary’s “celebration”.

    The fact is, IMO there is nothing positive to celebrate about his and Sherry’s reign of corruption, incompetence, and overall dismal outcomes for the kids, staff and taxpayer/owners of this district.

    Hopefully the new board members will get to work immediately to make the wholesale changes necessary to put the focus back on the students and classrooms and away from the “whats-in-it-for-me” attitude of these misreable soon to be ex-board members and their cohorts/co-conspirators at Dent.

    I suggest they partner with Cheryl to get it done.

  107. Anon Says:

    Who’s paying for this party extravagance ?

  108. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Probably the same people who paid for his plaque. I wonder if Whitmarsh get a plaque for four years of service.
    When Paul Strange and Dick Allen stepped down from the board two years ago, the district held a similar event in the board room, which included cake and other light refreshments. There is a budget line item for board expenses, so maybe it comes out of that.

  109. Anon Says:

    Anon #107,

    The same people that paid for the Paul Strange debacle. I bet that Chevron gets involved also.

  110. Doctor J Says:

    “One term Sherry” — used and abused by Eberhart and Strange. Will she ever tell us the truth about ButtercupGATE ? It would go a long ways towards her redemption.

  111. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#108 Don’t kid yourself; the district paid for the plaque. The district pays for the refreshments too. Do a PRA on it.

  112. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, but it’s possible it comes out of the board budget line item, since it’s a board-related expense. Richards never digs down to that level when he does his budget presentations.
    Oaks has said she would like to see budget presentations that dig deeper, instead of glossing over expenses with broad categories. Lawrence has also touted his budget expertise as an MBA.
    Perhaps the board will start to question Richards about his numbers and request budget presentations that show how much is being spent throwing office parties.

  113. Doctor J Says:

    It doesn’t matter where its hid in the accounting — it comes out of the classroom. Every dollar spent on Steven Lawrence’s “cal-card” credit card is a dollar from the classroom. I would love to see the last 2 1/2 years of Lawrence’s “Cal-Card” statements to see what he has been spending District money on that should have gone to the classroom.

  114. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Shoe: I just spoke to newly elected Trustee Barbara Oaks and she said she heard loud and clear — especially in the CVCHS community — that people did not feel they were being listened to.
    She said she fully supports open dialogue between the district and cities for the benefit of students and their families.

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