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Live blog of MDUSD 12-10-12 meeting

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, December 10th, 2012 at 7:28 pm in Education.

Newly elected trustees Brian Lawrence and Barbara Oaks were sworn in.

Dennler nominated Mayo as president and Oaks nominated Hansen as president.
Trustees voted first on Hansen. Public couldn’t see votes, but Mayo said she got at least three so she won.

Hansen nominated Oaks as vice president and Brian Lawrence seconded it. There were no other nominations and Oaks was elected.

Board appointed Superintendent Steven Lawrence as secretary.

Mayo moved, Dennler seconded to accept meeting dates.
Hansen made motion to amend to changing to Thursday nights. There was no second.
Original motion unanimously passed.
Separate motion by Dennler, seconded by Mayo to establish above meeting dates.

Certificate of Signatures to be amended with correction of Hansen as president. Moved by Mayo, seconded by Lawrence.
Unanimously passed.

Consent calendar:

Alicia Minyen spoke about items 9.7, 9.14 and 9.18.

Brian Lawrence removed item 9.27 (lease-leaseback) from agenda.

Hansen removed items 9.2 mins, 9.7 fiscal, and 9.14 taber

Board unanimously approved rest of consent calendar.

Hansen moved to change mins to remove “amended” on motions regarding translation contracts, since they were original motions.
Unanimously passed.

9.7 Fiscal: question re Anna Koroni (spell?) overpayment and adjustment.
There seem to be a number of overpayments.
Richards: CalPERS adjustment.
Hansen asked about cash on hand and Wells Fargo Bank.
Richards: This is paying contract retention for Sun Power.
Unanimously passed.

9.14 Taber: Hansen asked about change order and Pete Pedersen explained it. He said contractor has not yet been paid. He said Measure C expenses are very transparent. He said he vhas given authority for work to be done.
Brian Lawrence asked what would happen if board didn’t approve and Pedersen said he thought the district would still be on the hook for payment.
Mayo pointed out some costs that seemed unforseen and Supt. Lawrence praised Pedersen’s team for low overall change orders.
(Please note that I am uploading some portions of meeting to and
Pedersen said anyone can come and look at books.

9.27 lease-leaseback:
Brian Lawrence asked for an explanation of lease-leaseback and Pedersen explained it. He said district enters into contractor with experience and contractor assumes certain liabilities. We get value and predictability, he said.
Brian Lawrence asked about lowest responsible bidders and Pedersen said no contractor wants to be called unresponsible.
Hansen said the Sweetwater Dist. has gotten into legal trouble with this and Pedersen offered to show board a bid summary. “It won’t address whether this is an end-around public contract law,” he said. But he said it would be more transparent.
Hansen said some deals are being cut in other districts.
Mayo asked if Hansen wanted trustees to disclose whether they had been approached for any deals. Hansen said she wasn’t asking for that.
Mayo asked what would happen if board denied the contract and go out to bid.
Pedersen said it would delay project, but wouldn’t cost district anything.
Dennler asked whether the board should be concerned that something shady was going on and Pedersen said, “no.” He said as long as the district employs the people in his shop, the board will never have to worry about that.
He said this was the best way to do this and get good quality in a good timeframe.

Public comment:

Dan Reynolds: Thanked board for supporting Prop. 30 and opposing Prop. 32, as well as voters.

Wendy Lack: Alleges that Linda Mayo, Sherry Whitmarsh and Gary Eberharted violated Brown Act by signing contracts.

Willie Mims asked for copy of letter submitted to board by Lack and asked for positive changes in 2013. He also said he believed there can be no discussion under Roberts’ Rules of Order if there is a motion and no second. He challenged Hansen to engage more with the public.

Alicia Minyen brought up Grand Jury report in May 2012 regarding Bond Oversight. She asked why this was not publicly discussed. She said the board owes the public this transparency. She said the district refused to implement some recommendations. She said she would provide her request in writing and wants the CBOC to discuss the Grand Jury report this Thursday because it directly pertains to the work that they perform.

Hansen reassured Lack that board would respond and call a special meeting Monday of next week to address the contracts under question. She said the board would take action to notify district administrators that their contracts may not be renewed.

Mayo expressed concerns that she stood as one of the accused and asked Rolen to provide a legal opinion. He said the deadlines are in the contracts.

Mayo said she found a contract that says 45 days prior to termination and asked if Hansen planned to terminate the employees. Hansen said it didn’t mean that.

Dennler clarified that the Monday meeting would not address whether the allegation is correct. Rolen said he thought it required a legal analysis and offered to look into it. Hansen said he would have to be careful about double role, since his contract is one of those in question. He offered to ask someone on the outside to look into it.

Hansen said the board would decide in January what to do.

Mayo said she is feeling very threatened by the word “cure.”

Brian Lawrence said he would be out of the country and would participate by phone.

The board agreed to meet at 7 p.m. Monday.

Superintendent’s Report:
Barb Moser of Foothill MS has been nominated as California League of Middle School Teacher of the Year:

Ernie DeTrinidad presented District English Learner Advisory Committee report.

Bill Morones presented AB 790 Linked Learning Pilot Grant.

Board appointed former Antioch employee as Database Administrator.

Board appointed Melanie Coslow as Construction Manager 1.

15.3 CFO Bryan Richards is presenting First Interim Report 2012-13:

Unfortunately, the PowerPoint has not been posted.

He said there will be no furlough days and employees who had money taken out of paychecks for possible furlough days have already received refunds.

Richards is predicting a decline of about 270.5 in ADA next year. Major drop from last year to this year was due to the Clayton Valley Charter. But, there was a large kindergarten bump that lessened the decline.

Next year will be sixth consecutive year without a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).

Solar CSI credits are about $3 million.

About 88 percent of budget is for salaries and benefits.

Projected ending balance is $30.7 million, including 2 percent reserve of $5.8 million.

Certified as Qualified, meaning may not be able to pay all bills in three years. Said multi-year projections were amended. Will have to cut $3.3 to about $7 million, cutting at least $3.3 million by second interim.

Mayo pointed out that district may not be able to spend about $2.9 million more if enrollment drops below 30,000 students and required reserve jumps from 2 percent to 3 percent in about 2014-15. But Brian Lawrence said the district has time to turn things around and start attracting more students to the district by then.

15.4 Delegating authority to Superintendent or his designee to approve agreements:
Superintendent said this would grant authority to Pete Pedersen.
Pedersen said this is necessary to ensure classrooms are ready by the beginning of the school year.
Brian Lawrence asked what the last day could be for board to approve. He said Dec. 24.
Supt. Lawrence said district could post agenda Dec. 19 and amend it Dec. 20 for a 4 p.m. Dec. 21 meeting.
Brian Lawrence said he’s not comfortable approving multi-million dollar contracts without seeing them.
Mayo asked if the district could be forced to delay construction a year if they don’t approve contracts. Pedersen said that would be the board’s discretion, but he would want to delay demolition if that were the case.

Motion to grant authority to superintendent failed 2-3, with Mayo and Dennler in favor.
Board agreed to meet at 4 p.m. Dec. 21.
Mayo said she hoped the board realized how much extra work M&O was going to have to do because of this vote.

Board agreed to extend meeting to 11:30 p.m.

15.5 Board unanimously approved easement at College Park HS.

15.6 Board unanimously approved easement at Sun Terrace Elementary.

15.7 Board unanimously approved Sungard Bi-Tech Upgrade 7.9.7

15.8 Board unanimously approved MDUSD/Solution Tree – Mike Mattos contract for Response to Intervention Development Day, Jan. 31

15.9 Board unanimously appointed Trustee Linda Mayo as CSBA rep.

15.10 Call for nominations for California School Board’s Association (CSBA) Delegate Assembly
There were no nominations. Hansen noted that delegates from other districts serve.

15.11 Crossroads job descriptions
Julie Braun-Martin explained that these were being revised to better reflect duties and better position Crossroads to receive grants.

Board Reports:

Trustee Lynne Dennler praised the WOW assembly at YVHS.

Trustee Brian Lawrence congratulated CVCHS on their football victory and said he attended the Ayers feeder pattern meeting, but only about five parents showed up. He said he received the notice for the Northgate meeting, but he asked that it be more inviting in the future. He said it didn’t appear to invite all parents to attend.

Trustee Barbara Oaks said she plans to attend the obesity awareness meeting at MDHS tomorrow.

Trustee Linda Mayo said she prepared a list of meetings for the other trustees.

Board President Cheryl Hansen welcomed new trustees.

DEC. 27 UPDATE: It has come to my attention that the district’s audio recording of the Dec. 10 meeting doesn’t include the report out of closed session. I recorded the first part of the report, which was from the Nov. 5 closed session. Mayo said the board provided the superintendent with direction regarding Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint (related to a certificated employee) number 23883. Here is the link:

Unfortunately, I did not get the portion of the report that included the Dec. 10 closed session and I didn’t write anything in my notes regarding that report out. We have now learned that the board discussed the theft of a laptop computer containing confidential employee information during the Dec. 10 closed session, ostensibly under “anticipated litigation:”

Here is the district’s “partial audio” recording of the Dec. 10 meeting:

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32 Responses to “Live blog of MDUSD 12-10-12 meeting”

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

    I am extremely heartened to hear that Cheryl Hansen was elected President. With Oaks and Lawrence behind her there appears to be hope for some meaningful change in the district. We need to restore the faith and the trust of the public in the district and the district needs to embrace openness and transparency. I am hopeful that Ms. Dennler and Ms. Mayo will be part of this process as they clearly care and are willing to put in all this time. Congrats to Cheryl on and also to Barbara and Brian for their election.

  2. Doctor J Says:

    Did Lynne Dennler’s Motion for Linda Mayo as Board President die for a lack of a second ?

  3. Doctor J Says:

    So Rolen is going to find an attorney for the Board to determine if HIS contract and the others he prepared are legal ? Classic case of the fox guarding the henhouse.
    I hope Theresa posts Wendy Lack’s letter.

  4. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    And why wasn’t Mayo concerned the past two years (and more)? And now she feels threatened?

  5. g Says:

    While I believe Lack is correct in asking that the board look at those contracts and make a determination of their validity, I certainly hope she didn’t make the same mistake Alicia Minyen made with her demand letter to the BOC last year.

    There is a procedure that MUST be followed if a person plans to pursue a “Cure” of a Brown Act violation.

    You can sweetly (or not) “ask” the board to look into something, and “ask” them to fix any errors in actions/procedures. As we found with Alicia’s direct complaint process, it was, after several months, finally published on the Measure C site and effectively Poo-Pooed by Pedersen in his VERY demeaning letter of response, and the issue was dropped.

    If Wendy Lack is serious, and I have no doubt that she is correct–even without seeing her letter–she needs to file a legal complaint through the court system, or convince Mark Peterson, DA to file the complaint.

    I would be happy to donate to her in support of this cause if she needs financial support to file a legal argument.

  6. Doctor J Says:

    Is there any question why Rolen and Lawrence concealed the “revised” contracts that were only approved as “extensions” ? Linda Mayo after getting defeated for Board President, then being accused of violating the Brown Act by signing a contract not considered by the Board, and then says she feels “threatened” by the word “cure” — oh please. I wonder how the State PTA is going to feel about a Board Member and Vice-President being accused of violating the Brown Act ?

  7. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Well what do you know…Mayo attached her cart to the wrong horse and now she feels “threatened”.

    How about all the years the public has felt “threatened” by illegal acts committed upon us by the MDUSD board Ms. Mayo?

  8. Doctor J Says:

    Mayo has it backwards — doesn’t she know how much work Pete Pedersen has caused the Board by not having the contracts ready for tonight’s meeting ? Lynne Dennler and Linda Mayo seem to be voting as a block — Dennler won’t keep that up for long — she likes to “all get along”. So far from what I have seen Brian Lawrence has performed as promised.

  9. Anon Says:

    Guess who is now holding the bag for the illegal contracts? Not Eberhart or Whitmarsh- they are gone. Mayo is left with the bag by herself and no one to shield her. Ouch!

  10. Doctor J Says:

    Linda Mayo’s embarassment or frustration not being elected Board President is reflected in her “side-bar” comments and her making the bulk of the motions tonight. I am glad the Board threw here a bone of remaining the delegate for CSBA.

  11. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#9 — No kidding. And I think she is feeling a little lonely — especially when Greg Rolen has a “conflict of interest” since his is one of the contracts — and Rolen won’t be able to protect her back. What will the State PTA say about that with Linda holding a position as a Vice-President and Board Member. I am starting to smell something rotten in Denmark.

  12. Anon Says:

    I’m very impressed by what I have seen from Brian Lawrence so far. He talked the talk and in my opinion fully walked the walk at tonights meeting.

  13. Anon Says:

    Linda should resign. She got caught and can’t claim ignorance. She’s been on the board long enough to know better.

  14. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#12 I agree — for the first meeting, Brian Lawrence really made his presence felt in a very positive way. I hope he keeps it up. As for Supt Steven Lawrence, I hope his wife has a whiskey sour waiting for him when he gets home. If his contract extension is void, his contract will end June 30,2013. And so far his job applications have not fared well.

  15. Doctor J Says:

    The April 23 contract extension votes, Lynne Dennler voted in favor but did not sign the contracts. Why ? Linda Mayo tried to have Greg Rolen’s contract heard separately, but failed, and she ultimately voted for all of the contract extensions as a block.

  16. g Says:

    So Right Dr. J! a) Pedersen got the district to let him hire a new outside legal council. That makes SEVEN outside legal firms. His firm — just for Measure C, who, as far as I can tell, has only worked on putting together Measure C contracts. b) Pedersen already knows who he’s going to hire; otherwise there would be open Requests for Bids floating around-and no need to rush. c) If that team of “all chiefs and no braves” he has built has to spend some “down time” it’s his own fault for being so confident that his “Trust me” will always win the arguement.

  17. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Regarding the presidential nominations, Mayo was conducting the meeting and she suggested that the board vote one at a time, in alphabetical order. She announced that if Hansen received three votes, she would win. The votes were not shown to the public, but Mayo announced that Hansen won. So, the board never voted on Mayo’s nomination. The reason for voting one at a time was because the Electronic School Board system would not allow trustees to vote on more than one candidate at a time, Mayo said. No seconds were required, she added.
    In the audience, some people were laughing, saying trustees could just vote the old-fashioned way, by raising their hands. The Electronic School Board ushered in under Trustees Paul Strange and Gary Eberhart was showing its age tonight. Sometimes, Hansen called for a voice vote because the ESB was so slow and clunky.
    Many City Councils use the Granicus system, which is wonderful. It links agendas electronically to video of meetings, so the public can see the agenda packet as well as the video with a simple click. I don’t ever recall it having the kinds of problems I saw tonight. The Walnut Creek City Council and other cities use it.

  18. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I will post Lack’s letter shortly. I spoke to Lack after she read the letter and she said she was shocked when Rolen offered to research the legality of it. She said she would strongly object to his involvement, since it is a direct conflict of interest, given that his contract is one of those being questioned.
    Even more surprisingly, Hansen told me after the meeting that she never received the contracts or was even informed that they existed until after the meeting, when Mayo handed her a file folder and said the contracts were inside. Hansen said she refused to sign them at that point, since they were in dispute. She was shocked that Superintendent Lawrence would have forwarded the contracts to me without even letting her know — or providing her with them.
    It was fairly evident tonight that many people expected Mayo to become president. Hansen’s election — and Oaks’ election as vice president with no experience at all — appears to have thrown the district for a loop.
    At one point, Dennler prefaced a question by saying, “I’m fairly new…”
    She won’t be able to use that excuse anymore. Oaks and Brian Lawrence have less experience than she does and Hansen has been on the board for the same amount of time.

  19. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Mayo was specifically referring to Lack’s use of the word “cure.” Mayo said that sounded threatening and seemed to imply guilt.

  20. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Lack said it is up to the board to “cure” the complaint. If it doesn’t, then she could take legal action. She told me after she read the letter that she didn’t believe that merely making a public comment would result in any action, based on past board response to public comments. She felt she had to do something the board couldn’t ignore.

  21. Theresa Harrington Says:

    That is precisely the issue in question. Why conceal the contracts? Why did Mayo not give them to Hansen until after tonight’s meeting? Why weren’t they distributed to Hansen and Dennler at the same time they were distributed to Eberhart, Whitmarsh and Mayo?

  22. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I was also surprised by Mayo’s comments about the Measure C team having to do a lot of work. Pedersen’s whole point was that there was so much work to be done that it couldn’t wait until January for approval. So, wouldn’t he be doing all this work anyway? His offer to provide the board with a summary of bids and the reason he chooses one contractor over another is a good step toward transparency. Clearly, no one wants to be the next Sweetwater (or Poway).

  23. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No one else wanted the CSBA assignment.

  24. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is a new blog post with Lack’s letter:

  25. g Says:

    “His offer to provide the board with a summary of bids and the reason he chooses one contractor over another is a good step toward transparency.”

    Hopefully she will take him up on that offer, but not for his convoluted “summary of bids” but rather a list of actual bids that can be confirmed.

    He cancelled the one known bid process before the bid opening date. Why? Did he find one bidder who, at an interview, was cajoled (by an extra $46K) to take the job on as a lease/leaseback arrangement–which is not what the bid asked for, but was what Pedersen’s bid process was really fishing for?

    And my question still stands–why does the contract say there is no known hazardous material “known” to exist, when there is an already paid for hazardous materials report stating otherwise. And who is going to remediate that hazard—yet another contractor and another oops– change order?

    But my favorite comment from Pedersen tonight–It seems if you keep a person grappling long enough to get out of the hole they dug for themselves they will say something telling like: “We’ve made commitments.” Un-huh, there it is in a nutshell!

  26. teacher Says:

    It’s interesting that in post after post there is no mention of student learning. I think we have lost focus on our purpose.

  27. Anon Says:

    Teacher, I don’t see much going on. This thread is not about student learning. It was about the business in the district. There was last night a foothill math teacher that seems to be doing an awesome job.
    We did get the tax measure done so you don’t have to have furlough days and our kids can go to school.
    What would you like to talk about? Perhaps you could e-mail Theresa with a story and I am sure she would write it so we can start that discussion. But for now this one is about the new board, the business of the district and how they are cheating our children out of the education they deserve.

  28. Doctor J Says:

    @Teacher#26 Did you read the blog subject ? Perhaps there was something at last nights board meeting that addressed student learning ? What was it and how does it affect student learning ? How is SASS meeting your needs as a teacher ? What about the consultants they hire to train you ? Is it worth the money and time ? What do you think about the speaker approved for your end of January training ? What do you think of his work ? Did you like the two days of training before school ? Anyone say anything that you put into practice in the classroom ? Who said it, what was it, and how has it increased learning ? Do you like the Benchmark Assessments and testing ? How did your classes STAR scores change between 2011 and 2012 ? We are ready for the discussion. Please lead the way.

  29. Doctor J Says:

    I sure hope new Board President Cheryl Hansen starts demanding that Supt Steven Lawrence get out in front of issues for Board consideration way before they are “due” and avoid this “last minute Lulu” like Peder Pedersen is pulling. One issue that will require some board debate is the policy to be adopted for AB 1575 on student “fees” that was supported by Linda Mayo as a State PTA Board member. Perhaps Linda can tell us: how will MDUSD find the money to pay for these “Student fees” like PE uniforms and class participation fees ? The law begins on January 1, 2013. District policy must be in place on March 1, 2013. Time is a ticking away. Here is just a hint of what must be paid for the district: “(1) A fee charged to a pupil as a condition for registering for school or classes, or as a condition for participation in a class or an extracurricular activity, regardless of whether the class or activity is elective or compulsory, or is for credit.
    (2) A security deposit, or other payment, that a pupil is required to make to obtain a lock, locker, book, class apparatus, musical instrument, uniform, or other materials or equipment.
    (3) A purchase that a pupil is required to make to obtain materials, supplies, equipment, or uniforms associated with an educational activity.”

  30. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is a story about the MDHS event that Trustee Barbara Oaks mentioned in her board report:

    By the way, I have finished uploading all of my YouTube videos from the meeting and have started labeling the meeting clips on Qik.

  31. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Please note that I have added a Dec. 27 update to this blog post, which includes a link to my video recording of the report out of closed session.

  32. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Please note that I have added a new blog post with Alicia Minyen’s cure and correct letter to the board alleging additional Brown Act violations in the way trustees approved contract extensions for the superintendent, general counsel and three other top administrators:

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