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MDUSD Board Accused of Violating Brown Act

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 at 1:13 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

At tonight’s board meeting, district resident Wendy Lack submitted the following letter to the board, accusing Trustee Linda Mayo, former Board President Sherry Whitmarsh and former Trustee Gary Eberhart of violating the Brown Act when the three of them signed contract extensions for Superintendent Steven Lawrence, General Counsel Greg Rolen, CFO Bryan Richards, assistant superintendent for personnel Julie Braun-Martin and assistant superintendent of Student Achievement and School Support.

Here is a copy of her letter:

“HAND DELIVERED
President of the Board
MDUSD Trustees
Mt. Diablo Unified School District Board of Trustees
Mt. Diablo Unified School District
1936 Carlotta Drive
Concord, CA 94519

Re: Brown Act Violation; Demand for Board of Trustees to Cure and Correct Illegal Action

Dear Madam President:

This letter is to call your attention to what I believe was a substantial violation of a central provision of the Ralph M. Brown Act, one which may jeopardize the finality of the action taken by the Mt. Diablo Unified School District Board of Trustees.

The nature of the violation is as follows: In a meeting at an undisclosed time and unannounced to the public, three MDUSD Trustees, Linda Mayo, Gary Eberhart, and Sherry Whitmarsh, took action to sign contracts extending employment of five district administrators for a period of one year.

The action taken was not in compliance with the Brown Act because it occurred as the result of a meeting which was not permitted under the provisions of the Brown Act. There was no adequate notice to the public on a posted agenda that the matter would be discussed, and there was no finding of fact made by the
MDUSD Board of Trustees that urgent action was necessary on a matter unforeseen at the time.

In the event that it appears to you that the conduct of the MDUSD Board of Trustees specified herein did not amount to the taking of action, I call your attention to California Government Code Section 54952.6 which defines ‘action taken’ for the purpose of the Act expansively, i.e., as ‘a collective decision made
by a majority of the members of the legislative body, a collective commitment or promise by a majority of the members of a legislative body to make a positive or negative decision, or an actual vote by a majority of the members of a legislative body when sitting as a body or entity, upon a motion, proposal, resolution, order, or ordinance.’

As you are aware, 1986 amendments to the Brown Act created specific agenda obligations for notifying the public with a ‘brief description” of each item to be discussed or acted upon and also created a legal remedy for illegally taken actions, namely the judicial invalidation of them upon proper findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Pursuant to that provision (Government Code Section 54960.1), I hereby demand that the MDUSD Board of Trustees cure and correct the illegally taken action, as follows:
1) In a properly noticed public session and placed on the agenda, the Board shall rescind approval all contract extensions;
2) In a properly noticed public session, the Board shall provide copies of the proposed language of each individual contract and provide for both public and Board discussion and questions;
3) Ensure that language for each contract is compliant with the requirements of AB1344;
4) In a properly noticed public session, the Board shall vote to approve or deny contracts as presented and with all changes in language; and
5) If approved, the Board shall sign the contracts during the next properly noticed, regularly-scheduled meeting of the MDUSD Board of Trustees.

As provided by Section 54960.1, you have 30 days from the receipt of this demand letter either to cure or correct the challenged action or inform me of your decision not to do so. If you fail to cure or correct as demanded, such inaction may leave me with no recourse but to seek a judicial invalidation of the
challenged action pursuant to Section 54960.1, in which case I would seek the award of court costs and reasonable attorney fees pursuant to Section 54960.5.

Respectfully yours,

Wendy Lack
Mt. Diablo Unified School District Resident”

The board agreed to meet at 7 p.m. next Monday to vote on sending letters to Superintendent Steven Lawrence, General Counsel Greg Rolen, CFO Bryan Richards, assistant superintendent for personnel Julie Braun-Martin and assistant superintendent for Student Achievement and School Support Rose Lock informing them that their contracts may not be renewed after all, since the validity of the signed contracts is in question.

The board expects to discuss the merits of Lack’s allegations and potential “cures” in January.

I will try to post copies of the contracts tomorrow. The copies I received were only signed by former Board President Sherry Whitmarsh, former Trustee Gary Eberhart and Trustee Linday Mayo.

After tonight’s meeting, newly elected Board President Cheryl Hansen told me that Mayo handed her a file folder after the meeting had ended and told her the contracts were inside. At that point, Hansen said she told Mayo she would not sign them, since they were in dispute.

But, Hansen was shocked that the superintendent never gave her the contracts before. She said she didn’t even know they existed until she read about them in my blog.

She also said that Grand Jury reports have typically been discussed during closed sessions, even though they should be discussed openly. I said that I have never seen them on a closed session agenda and have never heard any action on them reported out during open session. So, if they have been discussed and approved during closed sessions, there may have been more Brown Act violations.

Hansen said she hopes her election ushers in a new era of transparency.

Do you believe the superintendent should have presented the contract extensions at a public board meeting, after the contract language was updated?

DEC. 17 UPDATE:

Trustee Cheryl Hansen has informed me that the board will not meet tonight to discuss the contracts after all. Instead, she plans to invite an outside counsel to address the board about the cure and correct process during its special meeting at 4 p.m. Friday at the Dent Center.

The board had agreed to meet at this time to review and potentially approve Measure C construction contracts, after denying the superintendent or his designee the authority to enter into these contracts without board approval in a 3-2 vote (Dennler, Mayo against).

Unfortunately, I was unable to videotape Lack’s comments, due to technical difficulties. But, here are video clips of the board’s discussion about how to respond:

Board discussion part 1: http://youtu.be/nwvMasUENvQ (As noted above, the Dec. 17 meeting discussed in this clip has been canceled. Instead, the board expects to discuss the “cure and correct” process Friday.)

Board discussion part 2: http://youtu.be/sMb9L4hTcYY

Board discussion part 3: http://youtu.be/UWjcSZb03TI

Here is a link to the new contracts posted by Trustee Brian Lawrence after the Dec. 10 meeting: http://briantlawrence.blogspot.com/

Here is a link to the April 23 agenda report, which presented the old (existing) contracts to the board, but did not present the new contracts: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=5279&mtgId=341

Note that the board motions listed at the bottom of the agenda report do not accurately reflect all of the motions made. To get a better picture of the comments and motions, refer to the minutes: http://www.mdusd.org/boe/Documents/minutes/2012/04-23-12.pdf and to the meeting audio: http://www.mdusd.org/boe/Documents/audio/2012/April%2023%20Recording.mp3

The new contracts are nearly the same as the previous contracts, except the end dates have changed. But, since the start dates are the same, they appear to be original, even though they are actually extensions. Also, the original clause 13 in the superintendent’s contract has been completely removed in the new contract, even though the board did not discuss or approve this deletion. And, Bryan Richards’ original contract included a hand-written change to item 7 that amended the number of vacation days he was permitted to accrue from 40 to 48. The new contract changed that to 40, without board discussion or approval of that change.

There is also an unresolved question about whether these contracts meet the requirements of AB1344, which prohibit automatic salary increases above the California Consumer Price Index: http://www.fagenfriedman.com/newsflash.php?nf=318

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  • Theresa Harrington

    Here are the original contracts: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=5279&mtgId=341

    Also, FYI, I was unable to record Wendy Lack’s comments, but I have uploaded most of the board discussion about it to my YouTube/tunedtotheresa account.

  • g

    Other than deleting the housing clause, I found no substantial changes on the contracts.

    They merely amended the end date of the originals. The possibility of “Amendment” was part of the originals and I’m sure would have to be considered as legal in most regards.

    However, 1) They should be presented to the board as “Amended” Contracts.

    2) They left in the entire section providing for an annual increase (on July 1 of each year) equal to the lesser of the CPI PLUS 1%, or ANY increase provided to Certificated Managers….

    I do not believe the 1% over CPI is legal under AB1344. Nor, as I read AB1344 does it entitle Senior Management to the same increases that may be given to General Management Staff working under DMA guidelines.

    For this I again refer to one of our own contracted legal advisory teams excellent newsflashes. Per FFF:

    http://www.fagenfriedman.com/newsflash.php?nf=318

    (how to figure CPI wage increases to follow)

  • g

    Gee, how do they get the ‘legal’ COLA figures that are based on CPI?

    The Social Security Admin explains it quite well:

    http://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/latestCOLA.html

  • Wendy Lack

    @G #52:

    Thanks for sharing the FFF link. The firm also offers a timely suggestion to conduct post-election Brown Act training for newly-elected Board members:

    http://www.fagenfriedman.com/newsflash.php?nf=365

  • Theresa Harrington

    WL: Excellent suggestion. Many cities regularly provide Brown Act training to new council members, as well as to newly appointed commissioners.
    In contrast, I cannot recall MDUSD ever providing such training to board members (except for the general board retreats, which did not go into details regarding the Brown Act).

  • g

    I would even go so far as to suggest that it (possibly) was because of the opinions stated in a NewsFlash from FFF regarding the spending of Bond funds that Pedersen went to the board asking to hire another legal firm just for Measure C. FFF had been given a special $175K purchase order last year (separate from their regular contract) to oversee Measure C. OOPS–didn’t like their opinions much Mr P.?

  • Sue Berg

    Theresa, new Board members often attend a workshop specifically for them at the annual CSBA conference held the first weekend of every December. A Brown Act workshop is presented either as part of that training or separately for both new and continuing Board members. You might ask Barbara Oaks and Brian Lawrence (and Cheryl Hansen and Lynne Dennler when they first joined the Board) if they attended any of this training.

  • Anon

    How about this? Lawrence, Rolen, Richards, Braun, and Lock submit their resignations and see whose are accepted. Those whose resignations are not accepted get one year extensions; those whose resignations are accepted, can start planning to move on. Plus, it would tell the public who is secure and confident in the quality of their work and who is just trying to hang on.

    Simple, fast, and easy.

  • Flippin’ Tired

    To all those calling on the new Board to investigate this or that: I think they’ve made a magnificent start in calling the executives on the carpet and investigating the contract extensions. The problems we face were not created overnight, and they won’t be solved overnight. I do believe that, given time, Ms. Hansen and Company will undo the damage where possible, and move us in the right direction. Be patient and support the new Board where you can.

  • Anon

    Does anyone else think it odd, that the order of trustees listed on Steve Lawrence’s contract are different than the other four?

    It is almost like that one was done separately than the others. Check out the ones posted on Brian Lawrences site and you can see what I mean. That makes me think that maybe there was “another” Steve Lawrence contract and this one was put together in haste when it became clear that there was going to be some checking into what was going on with the contracts.

    Am I way off base here?

  • g

    I don’t see an issue with that, but Lawrence’s is the only one with a “counterpart” clause. That could be as simple as just saying it doesn’t matter who signs which copy (original or photo), but under the last board a clause like that would/should have been worth public scrutiny.

    Although the latest issue (inadvertently?) left that clause in, I don’t think there is a worry that this new board might actually issue two-halved contracts.

  • Doctor J

    These aren’t “extensions” of contracts, but are intentionally made to deceive the reader into believing they were origninally signed in 2009 and 2010 with the original end date of June 30, 2014 in order to avoid AB 1344. When it says, “This Employment Agreement . . .is agreed to [be]SIC effective on February 1, 2010. . . ” and then lists the term as if it were made in 2010 as ending on June 30, 2014. Its simply false and misleading.
    An “extenstion” is usually a one liner citing the date of the original contract and agreeing to extend its ending date to ….. Ask any real estate broker how they extend a real estate contract — its with a simple addendum.
    Of course, we all know why this wasn’t possible — since prior to the contract extensions, I had alerted everyone to AB1344 which made such an extension illegal.
    So it took Greg Rolen and Steven Lawrence almost 8 months to come up with a scheme, since Sherry got blasted in the election and they could not count on a majority. But after all the controversy, why would Lynne Dennler sign the contracts after Wendy Lack makes serious allegations of misconduct ? We know when Theresa got copies of the contracts and they weren’t signed by Dennler. Was Dennler really dumb enough to sign after Lack’s allegations ? Wasn’t Dennler paying attention ? If so, I wonder if Linda Mayo was just looking for a cellmate ? It does appear that Mayo was soliciting the signatures since she presented the new contracts to Cheryl Hansen. Obviously 8 months of conspiracy by Steven Lawrence and Greg Rolen wasn’t long enough to produce a “foolproof” plan.

  • Wendy Lack

    @ Flippin’ Tired #59:

    I wholeheartedly agree. Change takes time. There’s no saviour here who can swoop in and miraculously fix things.

    Moreover, the full scope of District problems is not yet known — and, I believe, won’t come to light until new executive leadership is in place and has had an opportunity to assess the situation.

    My sense is the community and staff will remain supportive as long as the new Board continues its good-faith efforts, making steady (and likely slow) progress in the right direction.

    One step at a time.

  • Doctor J

    Where is Exhibit A to Greg Rolen’s contracts ?

  • vindex

    One too many scandals. Time to fire Greg Rolen

  • Wait a Minute

    Vindex,

    Greg “Once a cheater…” Rolen should be the first to go as his fingerprints are on virtually every single of the many scandals that have plagued this district for far too long.

    His complete lack of ethics and competence is legendary as the Spc Ed transportation and AIS scandals have shown.

    It is time to hold him and the others accountable so the proper focus can be put back on what is right for the kids!

  • Theresa Harrington

    Dr. J: I have asked for Exhibit A in the past and got no response, but I’ll ask again.
    Regarding Dennler, it’s possible she signed before the board meeting. I received my copies at 11:14 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 6.
    This whole Brown Act violation allegation could have been avoided if the contracts included lines for the “date” next to the signature, like most legal contracts. In fact, some contracts even require the date and time they were signed.
    But, since it’s not apparent when any of the trustees signed the contracts, that leaves the public (and specifically Wendy Lack) wondering if the three trustees were in the same room at the same time when they signed.
    It would be a good idea for the board to require that all future employment contracts include the dates and times next to the signatures.
    Also, obviously, any attachments (such as Exhibit A) mentioned in the contracts should actually be attached.
    And, all contracts should be presented to the board BEFORE they are approved, so the board knows what it is voting on and the public doesn’t have to ask questions after the fact.

    Sue: Thanks for this information.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#67 You’re right about having the actual documents attached to the Agenda. It would have been so simple to have a one page, one liner “extension” of the ending date, if that’s what they intended, and it could have been signed right in the Board room after the vote. However, because of AB 1344 that would not have solved the underlying problem: these contracts could not simply be extended because of the AB 1344 new requirements. Whole new contracts meeting AB 1344 needed to be prepared which should have been attached to the agenda as properly noticed. My guess is that they knew AB 1344 would derail the extensions, and were purposefully postponing the signing of the agreements, betting that Sherry would be re-elected and with a majority they could come back and revisit the extensions with modified agreeements, perhaps for even longer extensions. This makes so much sense when you consider the failed job searches by Steven Lawrence. All of that came crashing to a halt with the sweeping victories of Brian Lawrence and Barbara Oaks.

  • Theresa Harrington

    On another topic related to contracts, the Census Bureau has updated its popular QuickFacts site with the new American Community Survey statistics, making it even easier for people to find information about a town, county or state.
    This information includes much of the same data that Schreder is providing to the district in enrollment estimates for Bay Point, as the result of continued contracts for thousands of dollars:
    http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06/0604415.html
    Board President Cheryl Hansen has previously suggested that this information was readily available and that the district didn’t need to continue contracting with Schreder to keep updating its previous estimates.

  • g

    Wendy Lack: It is important to note that another amendment to the Brown Act goes into effect on 1/1/13 — just a couple more weeks.

    SB 1003 will be in effect when the board makes a decision on the final wording of the questionable contracts.

    I could not find any indication that Cure and Correct is being supplanted-it is still part of the Brown Act. This Senate Bill letter to Cease and Desist is being added as a ‘required’ step.

    Where a Cure and Correct letter has been used in the past for Brown Act violations, there will now be a requirement to issue a Cease and Desist letter for any actions taken after 1/1/13

    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201120120SB1003

  • g

    Schreder’s name came up on the last Warrant report to the tune of over $15K. It seems he is “helping Measure C” to the tune of about $5K here and $5K there, and $5K to study the North East section of the district, (over and over and over) and some $ just for being around.

  • Wait a Minute

    Theresa@69

    I couldn’t agree more. This district has been bilked hundreds of thousands of dollars by the “Schreder Empire” FOR INFORMATION THAT IS READILY AVAILABLE!

    It would require someone at Dent to put in the work to harvest and collate the info, but we already pay for those salaries so why contract this out and take money away from the kids and classrooms?

    IMO, the “Shreder Empire” has been riding the MDUSD Gravy Train because of people like The Gary, Stevie Lawrence and Greg Rolen for far, far too long and it has to stop.

  • Wendy Lack

    @G #70:

    Thanks for the info and link.

  • g

    Sidestepping a bit over to Measure C meeting tonight.

    The Agendas are up for 2002 and 2010, along with quarterly report (for 2010 — but not 2002 although it is listed on the agenda).

    However, the 2002 and 2010 Annual Audits completed some months ago by Christy White are not listed for review.

    Also noticed we paid her a few thousand more that the base contract(s) rates—which was only to happen if WE changed the “scope” of the Audits.

    Is this another report that Dent doesn’t want to put out there?

  • Wait a Minute

    Hopefully the new board will force disclosure of these reports and everything else the Rolen/Stevie Lawerence mafia has supressed.

  • Theresa Harrington
  • Theresa Harrington

    Hansen has told me the Monday meeting will be canceled and instead an outside counsel will give the board a presentation about “cure and correct” at its special Nov. 21 meeting. She said the board does not need to issue letters to the employees now after all, since she had been mistaken about the notification deadlines.

  • Anon

    Nov. 21 meeting would be a few weeks ago?

  • g

    “Special Meeting” on what date? Notification deadline of intent to hire is Jan 31. I understood that the board and Lawrence knew that. But, this issue is not just about the “Cure and Correct.” Why pay more legal fees for advice on that? The easy cure is simply a shredder–nothing had officially come to the board/public yet, so in effect, those documents do not exist.

    The bigger issue began last April! It was about an Invalid board vote for invalid contracts.

    Under these conditions, with this system sooo screwed up right now (thanks to Whitmarsh/Eberhart), an outside K-12 contract lawyer should be consulted for writing the new contracts.

    Today, it is still about invalid contracts with invalid “start” dates to try to slip invalid raises past the 1/1/2012 issue date for AB1344 by not treating them as “extensions.” And it’s about the included 1% over CPI raises, and guaranteed raises for upper management that matches anything given to lower management.

    All of those items have to be addressed, and for those who will be given new contracts as their old ones expire, Totally New Contracts need to be prepared.

    The employees need to be advised by 1/31/13 of the districts “intent” to offer a new contract under the strict guidelines of AB1344. The employee who doesn’t like the terms; C’est la vie!

    New contracts should be written for: One (or more) year(s), Beginning July 1, 2013 and ending June 30, 2014 or later, and with a salary the same as the prior year, or, no more of an increase than the prior year’s CPI (2012=1.7%).

  • soooo frustrated

    Maybe Theresa, Dr. J. and G should run for school board!

  • Theresa Harrington

    Sorry, that was a typo. The special meeting is Dec. 21.
    Regarding the allegations, Eberhart has no comment and I couldn’t reach Mayo (but left a message). Whitmarsh said she hadn’t heard of the allegations, when I spoke to her. However, she said there was no secret meeting. She said she was called to come to the district office to sign the contracts in October and when she did, no other trustees were there. Hers was the third signature, she added. Hansen is wondering why no one called her to come and sign the contracts.
    Regarding AB1344, it’s unclear whether it applies to the contract extensions. I spoke to a few outside people today who said the law doesn’t prevent raises higher than the CPI — it just requires them to be publicly disclosed. Since the raises were included in the old contracts, the public was informed about them.
    Still, since there is so much confusion about whether the law does or doesn’t apply in this instance, it would be a good idea to bring in an expert to explain it to the board and the public.
    Regarding the fact that the district didn’t create a contract extension addendum and instead just altered the ending dates, one person I spoke to said that didn’t sound like a “best practice,” but she didn’t think it was illegal.
    Regarding the fact that one entire clause was deleted from the superintendent’s contract without any board discussion about removing it, Whitmarsh said it could have been crossed out, so that it would have been more apparent that it was removed.
    Hansen said all signatures should have dates next to them, so it is clear when contracts were signed. The creation of new contracts with different end dates implies that she was on the board when the contracts were first initiated, since her name shows up on the signature line, she said.

  • g

    Thank you Soooo for the suggestion. It took a lot of steel-wool and degreaser determination, but three years of hard work and unfailing diligence has hopefully scoured the board pretty clean. Didn’t you notice the new shine Monday?

    Still working on Dent!

  • anon

    That’s very nice Ms. Hansen. Destabilize the entire district by threatening to cancel the contracts of the superintendent and senior leadership and then recant three days later. The reason; I figured out I didn’t need to do that, I was wrong about the deadlines. I have an idea, Ms. Hansen, do a little homework and the act rather than the other way around. If you want to get rid of the superintendent, I’m sure there are previsions within his contract to do that. Why threaten to get rid of everyone? Who would run the district? What manager would want to come to the mt. diablo district and expose themselves to so much strife? Rumor has it that Ms. Hansen is running for County superintendent of schools. That’s great news for our district and our students and employees. 2014 can’t come fast enough. If her first meeting as president is any indication, she will do a lot of damage between now and then. It’s going to be a long couple years.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#81 The problem is not giving a raise after proper notice; the problem is the inclusion of an “automatic increase” that exceeds COLA. FFF says: “AB 1344 prohibits the governing board of a school district or community college district from executing or renewing a contract for a local agency executive that includes an automatic increase in compensation that exceeds a cost-of-living adjustment (“COLA”). (Gov. Code § 3511.2(a).) ” The problem is not giving a raise after proper notice; the problem is the inclusion of an “automatic increase” that exceeds COLA. http://www.fagenfriedman.com/newsflash.php?nf=318

  • Doctor J

    @TH#77 The “cure”, if required for a Brown Act violation, would likely be rescision of the Board action on April 23, and potentially a renotice of each contract, hopefully considered individually, with the appropriate new contracts attached — simple extensions are problematic under AB 1344. Should the new Board not approve the new contracts, then there are certain notices required under each contract that must be followed.

  • Doctor J

    @Anon#83 You ask who would run the district ? I proposed hiring an interim Supt Michele Lawrence from Berkeley, who cleaned up Steven Lawrence’s last mess in West Sacramento. You have it backwards — its not destablizing the district to think Steven Lawrence will be done on June 30, 2013 — the district masses are already celebrating knowing he will be gone sooner than later ! Even Steven’s own head-hunters are saying to him — don’t look for a larger district; just be satisified with any size district, and then you can move later.

  • Anon

    Anon#83
    When you see the Black Helicopters flying in, call us.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Dr. J: Yes, but in researching this further, I have found that many people interpret “automatic” increase to be “evergreen” language that allows a contract to be automatically renewed without coming to the board. The MDUSD contracts do not include such “evergreen” language, since they were brought to the board for votes on the contract extensions.
    This is spelled out more clearly in the CSBA Powerpoint on page 7 and pages 9-12: http://www.csba.org/LegislationAndLegal/Legal/CaliforniaCouncilOfSchoolAttorneys/~/media/E6F19A54B4A547379736F1DB6A7C35D9.ashx
    However, it’s unclear whether this would affect the longevity incentives in some of the contracts. Since this is so complicated, it makes sense to have an outside legal consultant explain all the ramifications to the board to determine whether or not the contracts meet these legal requirements.

    Regarding anon’s comment: It appears to me that this is asking who would run the district if all five of the contracts were revoked, leaving the district potentially with no superintendent, general counsel, CFO and two assistant superintendents. If that were to happen, Kerri Mills would suddenly become the top administrator with the most seniority.
    However, it’s possible that Lack should have alleged that the contracts were not valid instead of alleging that a secret meeting took place. It appears that it can be proved that no such meeting took place, so it’s unclear whether the rest of her demands must be addressed.
    Still, it is certainly within the board’s authority to scrutinize the contracts to ensure that they are legal and transparent, regardless of Lack’s action. Again, this could have been avoided if the district had presented the contract extensions to the board in April, instead of just attaching the existing contracts. Now, if the contracts need to be amended, could Eberhart and Whitmarsh still sign them?

  • anon

    Dr. J,

    If any of the current senior management are gone by June 2013, the district will have to buy out their contracts costing the district hundreds of thousands of dollars. Thats not what I elected this board to do. If the last board had initiated pay outs to senior management to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, you’d be pontificating about that. Sounds like your position as ms. hansens campaign chair for county superintendent is very likely.

  • Doctor J

    @Anon#89 If the extensions are invalid, all contracts will expire June 30, 2013 and no buyouts will be necessary. The new Supt will be able to pick and choose his/her senior manangement.

  • Wait a Minute

    Everyone,
    Lets look at the forest and not simply some trees here:

    #1 There has been persistent corruption, incompetence, and secrecy emanating from senior management and certain recently departed board members and taken all together many of these peccadillos were almost certainly at a conspiracy level.

    Meanwhile, the taxpayers and most sadly the children of this district have been the victims of these actions and people.

    #2 The FORMER board majority, while they still clung to their power, unwisely and potentially illegally rammed through contract extensions for the senior management despite near universal protests and pleas to not saddle the next board with these [losers (IMO)].

    #3 Wendly Lack does the best job of explaining the implications of the challenges faced by the district in her post#47 above and quoted here.

    “Current District management appears to be complicit in the former Board’s Brown Act violations. This is deeply disturbing.

    Troubled organizations such as MDUSD are like icebergs: The known problems are dwarfed by those that are below the surface.

    History proves that genuine commitment to legal and ethical conduct is a core job requirement for senior managers in organizations that actually achieve long-term success. Professional integrity is a prerequisite to personal and organizational success.

    Without governing board and executive-level integrity, an organization fails (see: Enron, City of Bell, City of Hercules, et. al.).

    If a governing board cannot reliably trust one’s senior managers — e.g, CEO, CFO, Legal Counsel and HR Director — then the organization essentially is a non-starter.

    It is imperative that the newly-elected Board focus on the strategic level, rather than getting lost in the weeds, distracted by what’s less important.

    The key decisions facing Board are clear. Executive performance reflects directly on the Board. It has been accurately said: “Personnel is policy.””

    #4 If it is legal to throw out these contracts and at least replace some of these key and crucial to mission success senior management in the near future then it is incumbemt on the new and vastly improved board to consider this as the best possible outcome for the district and especially its students.

    #5 It will be no problem getting vastly improved leadership to come in and replace what we already have and if Michelle Lawrence is available then she would be an excellent start!

  • Theresa Harrington

    While the contracts were certainly not crafted according to best practice, it’s unclear whether they are actually illegal. If the board tries to reverse the action taken by the board in a 4-1 vote, it could face lawsuits from the five employees whose contracts are now in question.
    Whitmarsh said she doesn’t believe it would be right to deny the employees the contract extensions now, since they have made job choices based on the assurance that they will be employed in the district through June 30, 2014.
    WAM: I am working on another blog post with more insights from Lack.

  • Wait a Minute

    Of course Whitmarsh believes in the contract extensions, she was the President of the failed board that rammed them through.

    She also came within TWO VOTES of a FOURTH PLACE FINISH as the SITTING PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD and is now thankfully gone.

    I don’t think anyone informed of these matters is going to pay any heed to what Sherry Whitmash says or wants.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#88 agreed there is no “evergreen” automatic renewal provisions in the senior management provisions and all are subject to AB 1344 on the issue of “extension”. As the powerpoint explains, its not that complicated. The MDUSD clauses are clearly violating SB 1344. Who is going to litigate it while they sit by without jobs ? Steven, Rose, Julie, Greg, or Bryan ? After two or three years of paying lawyers, what will they have except failed careers ? They will be better off finding new jobs. BTW, Kerri Mills contract also ends on June 30, 2013. Kerri may have bet on the wrong horse.

  • Doctor J

    How will 12 women and men of a jury view the self serving actions of Steven Lawrence, Greg Rolen, Julie B-M, Rose Lock and Bryan Richards in raping the public dole ? Councilmember Joe Medrano didn’t fare too well, did he ?

  • Doctor J

    Watch the deposition of a school supt explain how he received cash in a parking lot. Could it happen in MDUSD ? http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/dec/13/state-reviewing-school-chiefs-cash-handoff/

  • Doctor J

    Who paid for Sherry Whitmarsh’s campaign signs ?

  • Theresa Harrington
  • g

    What successful organization would actually manipulate every one of its top manager contracts to expire on the same date? How ignorant was the sitting 2010 board to have allowed that, or thought it was a good idea?

    Lawrence started in Feb. His contract should have ended in Feb. Instead, he was given a contract for 3yrs-5months.

    Rolen started in Dec. Rather than keep him on a Dec. schedule, his last contract was maneuvered to go 3yrs-7months.

    (Ah. That one may have answered my questions)

    The other three were written as straight 3yr contracts based on hire and/or promotion dates.

    Then Mills comes along and is maneuvered into a 9month interim contract, with an ‘automatic promotion’ clause based on performance, keeping her end date in
    lock-step with the other five.

    Outrageous. Really, whose brilliant idea was that?

  • Wait a Minute

    G,
    It’s obvious that the idea with Mill’s contract was to link her fate to theirs. This basically pressures her to fully support all their unethical decisions because their employment terms are all linked.