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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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  • Doctor J

    @WAM#100 So perceptive you are. Spot on. The BIG5 has now become the Sinking6.

  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    Keep following the money people, you are all about to find the pot of gold.

    Any bets on any former board members and administrators having to do the perp walk?

  • anon

    I’ll bet on Eberhart, Rolen, Lawrence, and Bryan Richards-and in that order

  • A Realist

    #102 and #103,

    While you are both probably correct that illegal things have occurred and multiple people should spend some time in jail because of it, please remember that the DA and Eberhart are good buddies.

    Who do you think convinced the DA to try and intimidate Cheryl Hansen a couple of months ago?

  • vindex

    Clean the house. Sweep out the dysfunction and do our do diligence and find leaders with good moral character. It is apparent that Greg Rolen lacks moral character. If you dig even superficially, this is apparent. The Sup’t. was given the benefit of the doubt when he came in. Instead of opening up the process he has created a secretive and bunker mentality down there. Fire them all, and start over.

  • WAHMom

    Seriously? Kudos to Wendy Lack! What is the punishment for Brown Violations. Didn’t then the board potentially just open the district up for a lawsuit should one of those who’s contract “may not be renewed afterall” sees fit to go after them for some employment practices? They thought they had a job/contract, now they don’t because administrators may have failed to do it properly.

    What a legacy for Gary. So disappointing re: Linda. Thank goodness Cheryl H is ok with being so unpopular amongst her fellow board, but perhaps the new board will get along, buckle down, and turn this disaster around. So glad to be done with the district myself, but so sad for those left … all 30k plus of these students deserve better!

  • Theresa Harrington

    Please note that I have added a Dec. 17 update to this blog post, with links to video clips of the Dec. 10 board discussion regarding its response to the allegations, and links to the new and old contracts, minutes and audio from the April 23 meeting where the old board approved the contract extensions in a 4-1 vote, without seeing the new contracts.

    WAHMom: The “punishment” Lack is calling for is to “cure and correct” the alleged violation, as outlined in her letter. I believe the DA could also pursue a misdemeanor charge, but no one has yet filed a complaint with the DA over this issue.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here is a link to the contracts provided to me by the district on Dec. 6: http://www.contracostatimes.com/education/ci_22208605/document-mt-diablo-unified-school-district-contracts?source=pkg
    At this time, Dennler hadn’t yet signed the contracts.

  • Theresa Harrington

    On the issue of transparency, I just had a call from another public watchdog who is trying to persuade public agencies to allow public comment via telephone from home. What a concept!

  • Hell Freezing Over

    TH @ 109. What a concept indeed.

    If Board Members and staff are allowed to “attend” board meetings via phone call (i. e.: Mayo from Hawaii), the public should be able to do the same. Some rules would need to written around calling in, but it could be done. Same with posting questions / comments electronically.

    Sure would be great to get these board meetings televised (again). Which high schools have classes / academies that could set up televised / electronic “live” board meetings?

    Would be a great challenge / semester class for setting up cameras, microphones, lighting, YouTube or other easily accessible free sites for the public to view after-the-fact meetings. Then future students maintaining and improving on the set up as technology advances could get credits too. Every high school student should be able to attend a class / academy for this, regardless of the physical location (i. e.: class offered at Mount; students from Concord, YV, NG, etc. are able to sign up and attend that class for credit).

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here’s a new blog post about the teachers’ union’s push for medical benefits for all teachers: http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2012/12/18/mdusd-teachers-union-seeks-medical-benefits-for-all-teachers/

    As an aside, I also linked to a recent Grand Jury report about board benefits, noting that Greg Rolen didn’t bring this before the board in a public meeting either.

  • Theresa Harrington

    While MDUSD is busy trying to rationalize its new contracts for top administrators (which were never publicly reviewed), the new WCCUSD board is getting down to business, hammering out its priorities and identifying funding sources: http://www.wccusd.net/cms/lib03/CA01001466/Centricity/domain/16/agenda/2012-2013/20121219_BOE_Agenda%20SpMtg.pdf

  • Anon

    Theresa (or others), given this new mess now with the contract extensions, can you tell us what the status is of the AIS contract for Rolen’s wife?

  • Theresa Harrington

    When I spoke to Bryan Richards about this last month, he said he might bring the translation contracts to the board in December. Obviously, that didn’t happen.
    So, AIS is still working under the contract that was approved in August. The company can’t do work beyond what was approved at that time unless the new board approves a new contract.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Special board meeting is set for 4 p.m. Friday, but agenda hasn’t yet been posted: http://www.mdusd.org/Lists/UpcomingEvents/DispForm.aspx?ID=280&RootFolder=%2FLists%2FUpcomingEvents

  • Doctor J

    Posted. Great specifics: Anticipated litigation by Wendy Lack. Anticipated litigation by 5 management employees. Really ? Wonder if they are all getting together in a conspiracy ? Maybe Rolen had secret conversations with them ? That’s one way to clean house. http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_agendaview.aspx?mtgId=390

  • Doctor J

    In my haste, I overlooked there are TWO closed sessions — the second being the Supt’s performance evaluation and there will be a report following — sure hope my favorite reporter hangs around for that report. :-)

  • Doctor J

    My personal opinion on Taber Construction — put the $17 million out to competitive bid — these leaseback deals are way too cozy with “favorite” contractors and I just have the feeling Gary Eberhart is hiding in there someplace. The Board always has the option of rejecting the bids and go back to the leaseback at a later time. Pedersen’s delay song and dance just doesn’t ring true. Its time for public accountability.

  • g

    Those five are under current and active contracts through June 30, 2013. They can’t litigate those contracts. And maybe they should be careful of hand they try to bite.

    The April board vote to extend those ‘same’ contracts was invalid–partly because it was based on stale contracts–partly because it included an automatic wage increase without new board discussion of wage increases.

    Whomever was involved in rewriting and passing around of the “newly worded, date extended, un-explained, un-anotated changes, in a secreted serial and/or hub and spoke fashion, in essence, violated the most basic Brown Act, and by doing so, was admitting that the April vote was indeed Invalid!

    Dear Steven Lawrence: The superintendent at Santa Clara announced she will be resigning in June. That little district would be a perfect fit for you.

  • Hell Freezing Over

    Sometimes I wish we could “rate” posts – G, I’d give your #119 post 5 out of 5 :D

  • g

    Oh, and the in-house attorney(s) and superintendent who Failed Their Duties to make sure the contracts brought to the board in April were up-to-date, and who also Failed to Advise the Entire Board, in April, of the new requirements of AB1344, and who are now causing what will be unnecessary and exorbitant outside legal expense due to their failures—-need to be replaced at the board’s earliest convenience.

    Those were two large failures.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Also, as I have previously pointed out, there is no mention in the contracts that they were extended for one year beyond their original expiration dates. And, there were substantive changes made to the contracts of the superintendent and Bryan Richards without board discussion or approval.
    In the superintendent’s contract, an entire clause was removed (regarding a one-time housing stipend) and the rest of the clauses were renumbered and moved up to replace the missing clause.
    Richards’ original contract included a hand-written and initialed change allowing him to accrue 48 days of vacation instead of 40. If the board in April was truly merely extending his original contract, then that change to 48 days should have also been extended.
    It is also interesting to note that the contracts for Rolen and Lock have initial introductory paragraphs (carried over from their original contracts that started Dec. 1, 2009 and July 1, 2010 respectively), which state: “This agreement is intended to be in replacement of the existing employment agreement between District and (position), and upon due authorization by the Board of District and execution by District and (position) shall replace in all respects any and all current terms and conditions of employment as contained in the existing employment agreement between District and (position).”
    When the “new contracts” were drawn up, all FIVE of the contracts should have included this language, to make it clear that they were replacing previous contracts.
    When I received copies of the contracts Dec. 6, they had still not been fully executed, since Trustee Lynne Dennler and the administrators had not yet signed them. Even after the new board was sworn in, they were not fully executed, since none of the employees had signed them when they were sent to Trustee Brian Lawrence: http://briantlawrence.blogspot.com/
    In addition, contracts for all but the superintendent specifically state that “…duties and responsibilities, as amended from time to time, shall be attached to this Agreement as Exhibit A.”
    Yet, none of the contracts presented to the board in April or recently signed by four board members include these attachments.
    Also, as has previously been pointed out, there are no dates next to the signatures, so there is no way of knowing when the contracts were signed.
    The fact that AB1344 was not mentioned to the board by Superintendent Steven Lawrence, General Counsel Greg Rolen, CFO Bryan Richards or assistant superintendent for personnel Julie Braun-Martin calls into question whether they intentionally withheld material information from the board, since they all should have known about the law. It’s conceivable that Rose Lock may have not known about it, since her job is least directly involved in budgets and employment contracts. But still, it seems likely that she should have known about it as well.
    Former Board President Sherry Whitmarsh told me she was not aware of that law.
    Lack told me: “The whole thing has not been handled in a professional way. Generally speaking, this is an example of what I would characterize as sloppy staff work…Their being so cavalier about an issue such as an executive manager’s contract makes me wonder, ‘What else were they casual about?’ It speaks to a certain level of carelessness that’s very troubling to me.”

  • g

    “Former Board President Sherry Whitmarsh told me she was not aware of that law [AB1344].

    That was some months ago that she said that, wasn’t it?

    And yet, she went right ahead and signed the October contracts which left the wording of all salary increase information untouched. Whether they were intended to be “new” “extensions” or “revisions” is really anybody’s guess.

    It is hard to fathom that Eberhart and Mayo and Whitmarsh, with something like 35+ years of board governance, and who knows how many years of PTA governance between them thought it would be perfectly alright to sign contracts that had not been brought before the board.

  • Anon

    The anticipated litigation is funny. I suspect a number of the Gang of Five will be doing the perp walk shortly.

    I can’t wait to see Eberhart in cuffs.

  • Doctor J

    Wendy blows the whistle, the board majority shifts and the canary starts to sing — it only takes one to bring down a conspiracy of the BIG5. That’s why cops separate crime partners in different rooms — first one to sing, saves their skin. Everyone else goes down in flames. The Nuerenberg defense fails — just following orders doesn’t cut it.

  • Anon

    I assume the Times will print this story Friday morning

  • Doctor J

    Its a monster story with potential litigation by the BIG5 for poetential breach of contracts, potential rescissions of the illegal contract extensions,and potential prosecution for Brown Act violations. This story could go viral. Oh Linda Mayo, the State PTA will not be happy to hear about your involvement — I wonder if Linda will resign from the State PTA Board and Vice-Presidency in order to avoid embarassing them ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Yes, I am planning another story. Already, the first story has attracted a lot of attention. I have contacted all five employees asking for comment, as well as Trustees Linda Mayo and Lynne Dennler, but have not heard back from any of them.
    Trustee Brian Lawrence called me yesterday and I will print his comments in my story. Today, I plan to contact Board President Cheryl Hansen and Trustee Barbara Oaks to get their current takes on the situation.

    I also want to again remind everyone that tomorrow is the deadline to comment on the YVHS field lighting/PA plan: http://www.mdusd.org/Community/Documents/yvhs-field-lighting-project-notice-of-preparation-for-eir.pdf

    Initial study: http://www.mdusd.org/Community/Documents/yvhs-field-lighting-project-initial-study-november-2012.pdf

  • Doctor J

    [NOTE: This comment has been edited to delete a link]

    @TH#128 No comment is probably more damning than addressing the issue. Greg Rolen looks like he is already up to his ears in alligators in Superior Court.

  • g

    Ah, but which contract has been breached?
    1) The ones that are still in effect?
    Can’t be those.

    2) The (same) ones that were erroneously presented for board “extension” approval in April?
    The only right way to correct that error would be for the board to rescind that vote and start over–not allow those “editing their own contracts” to hide out for 6 months behind closed doors sniffing WhiteOut and looking for loopholes.

    3)The back room slight-of-hand ones from October that completely ‘deleted’, rather than edited, ‘added’, rather than revised — and then summoned three known acquiescent and even perhaps complicit board members into their back room for signatures — intending to pass essentially new contracts off to a new board as simple revisions of those approved in April?
    Well, that might get you at least one Brown Act violation. Maybe a State Ed censure. Maybe even a State Bar censure. Maybe even a Grand Jury probe.

    What will it likely not get you? Any kind of long-term extension of employment.

  • Theresa Harrington

    What good is a grand jury probe when Rolen gets to respond on behalf of the board without any public discussion?

  • g

    That was then….

  • Doctor J

    Did Exhibit A ever exist ? Once again, where is Exhibit A to the “so called” current contracts that expire on June 30, 2013?

    Clearly none of the signers of the contract “extensions” ever read them or they would have noticed there was no “Exhibit A” to the extensions.

    Current Board members Linda Mayo and Lynne Dennler, why did you sign a document that was incomplete ? Is that not a deriliction of your duty ?

    And I disagree — the MDUSD General Counsel’s battle over a “restraining order” in his divorce that impacts which school district his children attend, does impact his job performance and his veracity since it impacts parts of his job, like transportation of his children [his job responsibility] and his credibility before the courts. I do not support identifying his children publicly nor any specifics regarding their individuality.

  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    This is beginning to get good. Popping popcorn. Follow the money, I bet we aren’t at the bottom of this scandal yet.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I spoke to Board President Cheryl Hansen and she said she expects the board to publicly discuss its response to the Brown Act violation allegation Jan. 14.

    Also, since I have heard a few rumors alleging that she planned to run for County Supt. Joe Ovick’s seat, I asked her about that. She said she was flattered that people would think she could do that, but that she is not planning to run for County Supt. when he steps down.

    On another note, I have heard some people question whether it makes sense for the district to promote principals into the position of assistant superintendent for personnel. Many human resources administrators are trained to handle employee complaints in a way that protects the person who is raising questions about the actions of others. Is MDUSD’s human resources dept. responsive to employee complaints and are employees who raise questions protected from retaliation?

    If not, that could explain why employees were turning to Lack.

  • g

    RE: Theresa’s story in the Times today about the Taber Lease/Leaseback that is the only Action item on the Special Board Meeting. I wish it had gone into a lot more detail, since the paper may draw more public attention than this blog (?).

    For one thing, Pedersen says “We get value and predictability.” Defending his most recent (there have been many) Taber arrangement, at last week’s board meeting he also said something like, “With Leasebacks there are NO surprises. The contractor tells you exactly what the job will cost and he has to stick to that amount. Again, there are NO surprises, like this ‘change order’ that was in question tonight.”

    He and others ‘up there’ count on no one actually reading hundreds of pages of overlapping and/or incongruent lease documents posted haphazardly on the agenda

    He fails to mention that the prime contract itself allows for a 3% Contingency over the quoted amount.

    Lease/Leaseback is generally a great deal for districts strapped for cash. If that were the case here, and the district was being given years, or even many months to pay off the lease, I’d jump on the deal–but that is not what the contract is all about.

    Here is what the contract actually says:
    “3.1. Tenant Improvement Payments. Prior to the District’s taking delivery or occupancy of the Project, the District shall pay to Developer Seventeen Million, Ninety-nine Thousand, One Hundred Seventy-three and 78/100 Dollars ($17,099,173.

    Then, for 6 months the district ‘doles out’ $7,550./mo.– of the remainder based on 2% interest — $45,300.00. Admitting here that the $45,300.00 is more than we would probably have paid if we had just put up the $17.++ million to start with.

    We have the money, the bonds are sold, funds are in the bank earning interest — for the general fund–…. but measure C is going to pay out interest to the builder, AND interest on the SAME funds – for the bond payments.

    Those tidy low% bonds don’t look like such a good deal if we spend the money at a 2% premium to our “favored” builders.

    http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/1b2786b5-119e-4885-84e1-74d595a62047.pdf

  • Giorgio C.

    Running for Ovick’s seat? What is this branch of government really responsible for? They provide zero oversight of our school districts, although they rule on such matters as the renewal petitions of charter schools. I have never received any reply from our trustee, so why did I elect her? Why does she have email? She was out sick for months, but it seemed she could have responded to her emails as she has attended meetings via teleconference.

    They seem to be the middle man between state and local districts, performing redundant functions. They do not even respond to complaints regarding Ed Code violations of our school districts, so again, what purpose do they serve?

    I’m guessing there might be some cost-savings to be found in this branch of government. How complicated do we have to make public education?

  • Anon

    If the lease-leaseback is not approved, I do hope that the CC Times and all of the “watchdogs” on here will do a thorough analysis of the costs incurred subsequently, including any costs associated with interim housing.

  • g

    Are you suggesting that the students will not need some form of interim housing for any part of this building contract that may overlap school days? I believe the contracts are planned to be complete around Aug. 19th. Hopefully at least all of the demo and site clean-up work can be done during spring and summer breaks. If not, and regardless of payment methods, do you expect the kids to attend in, or anywhere near the same buildings that they are ripping out the asbestos floor tiles or scraping down the lead paint?

  • Doctor J

    @G#136 As you point out these leasebacks are not always great deals where you already have the bond money available — plus add in the lack of competitive bidding, a 3% overage contingency [free change orders], plus interest tacked onto the bond interest, and too cozy relationships with contractors. This new board needs to do business more transparently. No wonder Peder Pedersen didn’t want to publicly vent $17 million dollars of contracts hastily drafted. Sure seems lots of MDUSD contracts are hastily drafted — the whole board meeting on Dec 21 has that common theme.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Although it is not a huge amount of money, it is worth noting that Taber donated $4,500 to the Measure C campaign: http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2010/06/07/who-donated-to-measure-c-campaign/

  • Hell Freezing Over

    TH @ 141: Bret and Valerie Taber also gave $5000.00 – see just above the Taber Construction on your list.

  • Doctor J

    Today will be a big test of the new transparency of the Board — perhaps more significantly, it will be a big test of how Linda Mayo — and her tag-a-long Lynne Dennler — reacts to the “legal opinions” of a quality law firm not influenced by the MDUSD tag team of Greg and Deb. Hopefully L & L have got over Linda’s defeat as president of the Board. Stay tuned tonight. Twas the Friday before Christmas, and all through Dent, Every creature was buzzing, in every wing, especially in SASS. The contracts were all hung, the ink still wet, The BIG5 finally realized that Santa had a new sleigh and new reindeer to guide through the foggy night. Gone were Eberhart, Whitmarsh, Strange — no room for playtime for Rolen, Cooksey, and Steven. The elves of Measure C were learning there was a new Santa in town — no more favors. Suddenly there sprang from the Board room such a clatter, I rushed to see what was the matter. I flew like a flash, and threw up the sash. What to my wondering eyes should appear, the Board agenda was refreshed, open to all, and available to the public. Then in a twinkling, coming from closed session, was Cheryl, Brian and Barbara — exclaiming to all the public, the people’s business is open and no longer secret. Giving new direction to the elves of Meas C, the Board then retired to evaluate Steven. Sometime before dawn, a new direction was formed — a whistle was heard, the new MDUSD team wished everyone a good night — I now knew I had nothing to dread. A happy Christmas to all the public and the students in MDUSD.

  • Theresa Harrington

    FYI, Hansen has confirmed that none of the superintendent’s cabinet will be present during the closed session regarding the alleged Brown Act violation.
    Also, Alicia Minyen has submitted her own “cure and correct” letter to the board, alleging that the previous board violated the Brown Act when it voted April 23 to approve the contract extensions without publicly presenting them in writing, as required by the “amendment” clause in each of the contracts. Minyen has asked that her letter be read into the public record before the meeting, since she can’t attend. I will post it shortly.

  • Doctor J

    Brown Act webinar with audio and slides by FFF — who will be advising the Board this afternoon. http://www.fagenfriedman.com/seminar.php?id=7&s=46

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    @141, 142 — I’ll bet that’s $9,500 more than the Tabors spent on the parcel tax campaign. Alas, the problem with a parcel tax is that the money gets spent in the classroom, and there is so little opportunity for kick-backs! But a big bond issue — now THAT offers vendors, contractors and other hangers-on the potential for some significant dough.

  • anon

    @ Dr. J (143): it’s time for the Mt. Diablo Jester to make another appearance. The same video clip could be used because just the subtitles need to be changed. It could take place while the cabinet is waiting for the results of the closed session with FFF.

  • Wendy Lack

    @ Doctor J #143:

    Have you been working too hard, or perhaps got into the spiked eggnog early? Putting these issues into quasi-poetry suggests you could use some rest. ;)

    In all seriousness, I sincerely hope you and other readers of this blog have time over the holidays to relax, refresh and reflect on these issues, to put them in proper perspective. I agree with the sentiment expressed by your post — there’s good reason for optimism, given the recent election of new Board members.

    How the Board performs in responding to my complaint will offer data about what to expect from them in the future on other issues. It’s a test of sorts.

    As discussed, reform of large organizations takes much time and patience. I remain hopeful that we’re entering a new era, rebuilding the District slowly but steadily, one brick at a time. I assume the new Board has good motives and expect it will work diligently, wisely, in a positive direction — unless/until I have reason to believe otherwise.

    Now is the time to laugh and hug your kids and loved ones. Now is the time to renew our hope in our individual capacity to build a better future. We all can use the restorative benefits of rest, reflection and counting our blessings during this holiday season.

    And if you’re so inclined, saying a prayer or two for the MDUSD Board and staff couldn’t hurt, either. Lord knows, they can use it.

    Happy holidays.

    -WL

  • Sue Berg

    Theresa, #135:
    The district does not “promote principals into the position of assistant superintendent for personnel.” There have been two individuals in that position over the last ten years and each served as a director in the Personnel Office for several years before being appointed to the senior-level position. They’ve attended a variety of HR training before and during their tenure. They were long-time school principals before becoming district-level administrators, bringing hands-on experience in handling employee hiring, supervision, evaluation, and complaints and in working with employee unions and contracts.

    That said, employees are entitled to have a union rep join them when they meet with their supervisor and/or a district-level administrator for any reason, especially when they are registering a complaint.

    The professed fear of retaliation is stated so often, it’s hard to separate the real from the imagined. I heard it expressed many times during arguments for a leadership change four years ago. No one lost their job because they complained about the superintendent though some of us who supported him found our jobs on the budget reduction list. I expect Dr J voices her complaints about the district not only on your blog but also with her MDUSD co-workers during the workday. Yet her job seems secure.

    It’s not surprising that unhappy employees would talk to someone, in this case Wendy Lack, who’s criticizing the district. Ms. Lack rightfully let the Board know what she’d heard. The Board can direct staff to investigate and report back so action, if necessary, can be taken. If the public doesn’t like how the Board handles complaints, voters can do what they just did: elect new representatives.

  • Doctor J

    @Wendy#148 :-) I take the Fifth . . . er maybe I drank the Fifth ? Love your sense of humor. Sorry my parody on the Night before Christmas was a little disjointed — just trying for a little sense of humor on a very serious subject. I really encourage everyone to listen to the FFF Webinar on the Brown Act — so much to be corrected in MDUSD. Two weeks off to enjoy family and friends.