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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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169 Responses to “MDUSD Board Accused of Violating Brown Act”

  1. g Says:

    Due to Whitmarsh’s silly rush to play boss-lady over Hansen’s request to leave contracts for the new board, and the original vote to extend contracts was based (quite stupidly on Rolen/Lawrence’s part) on existing contract language that specifically violated AB1344 which immediatly rendered them Invalid—YES!

  2. Doctor J Says:

    Linda Mayo handed the ‘smoking guns’ [the illegal contracts] to Cheryl Hansen ? I hope Cheryl has them, makes copies, gives copies to Theresa, and seeks INDEPENDENT legal counsel. Greg Rolen’s fingerprints have to be all over the “smoking guns” or he never would have offered to research it. I feel a complaint to the State Bar is immenent.

  3. Anon Says:

    I will go one step further and guess that some firings are imminent.

  4. Doctor J Says:

    On the Signature cards, had someone “pre-meeting” filled in Linda Mayo’s name as President ? I wasn’t quite clear what the issue was.

  5. Anon Says:

    Last nights meeting was so entertaining. Mrs. Mayo was squirming and Rolen and S. Lawrence seemed shocked and surprised. I was so proud of Ms. Hansen for being bold and honest. She is one smart and classy lady!
    Mr. Pederson clarified for me that the Lease/Leaseback is just a way of getting their high Priced buddies to do work contracted. This is wrong. All jobs should go out to bid.

    I have a question. If Ms. Mayo steps down how is a new Board Member picked? Do we have a special election or is a new member appointed?

  6. Wait a Minute Says:

    What is most ironic here is that Mayo has appeared to not be to thrilled with Greg Rolen in the past and now by default she has apparently become his most ardent supporter?

    I would suggest that these many bizarre ethical conflicts are emblematic of the deep, deep dysfunction that has been destroying this district.

    It is time to throughly clean house and IMO, Rolen should be the first to go because he has always been at the epicenter of every scandal and ethical lapse.

    All one has to do is “follow the money” to see what I mean!

  7. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#5 Resignation is covered under Board By-law 9222 and a rather complicated timetable determines if a new election or appointment occurs is covered under Board By-law 9223. Hopefully this link will work: http://www.gamutonline.net/displayPolicy/374469/9

  8. Wendy Lack Says:

    I felt it necessary to invoke the formal process in order to bring the facts to light. I’ll give the new Board the benefit of the doubt — until I have reason to do otherwise. I remain optimistic that this new Board is genuinely committed to transparency, personal accountability, ethical conduct and following the law.

    Mayo’s defensive response spoke volumes.

    Rolen’s offer to do legal research was inappropriate, given that he has a conflict of interest in the matter. Surely the Board will not permit his involvement, given the circumstances.

  9. Doctor J Says:

    Wendy, thanks for the courage you displayed to speak up. Agree with you on Mayo and Rolen, and would add on Rolen, he today I am sure is in the cover up mode. Since I have long suspected that Rolen had to add and subtract clauses from the “original” contracts in order to comply with AB 1344, BUT the only proposal put forth to the MDUSD Board was to simply grant an extension of the end time of the contract [AB 1344 prohibited that too if the contract had certain clauses in it, which the MDUSD contracts did], please tell us what you found in the contracts to not have been according to the Brown Act procedure ? Your letter was terrific and obviously you already have legal counsel to pursue the matter.

  10. Anon Says:

    Hallelujah for the new board leadership! In the midst of reviewing these administrator contracts, may they follow the example of other school districts that link administrator salaries to declining enrollments. If enrollment goes down then salaries go down! This should motivate the admins to make MDUSD schools more attractive to families, finally.

  11. g Says:

    I believe it wasn’t so much ‘what was in the contracts’ that violated the Brown Act this time. It was that, at best, passing them quietly around for signatures, starting with two outgoing members whose consensus was assured, violated the “serial meeting” clause of the Brown Act.

    Rolen/Lawrence really thought they could get by with that, and the problems caused by the first (invalid) vote would just fade away in the hubbub of more pressing issues -they would just file the signed contracts away, and go on as if AB1344 was never an issue in the first place.

  12. Doctor J Says:

    Bryan Richards and Steven Lawrence are happy to eliminate the furlough days [and take the credit] and then announce the 3 to 7 million that must be cut from the budgets. And we are precipiticiously close to dropping below the 30,000 ADA which will cost an additional 3.0 million in extra reserves. Once the BIG5 raises and contract extensions are voided, each should be considered on a case by case basis. Perhaps even with input from a new Supt.

  13. Anon Says:

    Would that we had more in the community like Wendy Lack to step up and say what needs to be said, and do what needs to be done.
    Thank you, Wendy

    After reading about last night’s meeting, the new board leadership, and the opportunity for the new board to examine contract extensions, I’m feeling optimistic that MDUSD can begin to be rescued from the abyss it has been in since 2008.

  14. Wendy Lack Says:

    @G #11:
    Yes, the serial meeting clause is a chief concern.

    My complaint is about Brown Act compliance. The contracts themselves are a secondary consideration.

    As a former local government employee myself, transparency, accessibility and responsiveness are key characteristics things I look for in considering the performance quality of public agencies. Where one finds these, one generally also finds fiscal responsibility and competent leadership.

  15. Jack Weir Says:

    Congratulations to the new board members, and thanks to Wendy Lack for pointing out the problems with the secret contract extensions, and to Alicia Minyen for highlighting the weak response to the grand jury report on bond oversight.
    My sense is that Hansen’s new leadership will go a long way toward building trust and transparency in district matters. I expect the general atmosphere in the community will change quickly for the better.
    I’m encouraged also to see someone questioning the wisdom of the Pete Pedersen in-house project management approach. As a member of the 2010 bond oversight comittee, I challenged the decision to drop using an outside firm to oversee the bond program. We need more transparency in letting contracts, and we need independent and objective evaluation of contractor selection and performance.

  16. Anon Says:

    If independent legal counsel is utilized to examine the legality of the contract extensions, including how they were approved, it has to be legal counsel that is truly unbiased and does not have a relationship with Rolen or Lawrence. Otherwise, any opinion they render will probably be biased in favor of the extensions. I hope the new board considers this as they move forward on this issue.

  17. Michael Langley Says:

    @ Doctor J #7: If the link requires username and password they are “public” for user and “mdusd” for password.

  18. Jim Says:

    Bravo Wendy Lack! Is the long MDUSD Amateur Hour finally coming to an end? Imagine Linda Mayo just handing over the incriminating folder with the questionable contracts to Hansen — the very person who had been asking to see them, but was ignored when they were illegally signed! These antics would be comical if they weren’t so pathetic.

    I wonder if these “simple contract extensions”, as Gary dismissively referred to them in one of his bouts of condescension, included the same moving allowance for Steve Lawrence that was in his original contract? Hey, if it moved him someplace far away, it might be worth it!

  19. Doctor J Says:

    @JW#15 Its not too late to drop the Pedersen Express and go back to outside management. I agree with your analysis.

  20. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#16 Just as important, independent legal counsel should report directly to the Board president, and the office of General Counsel, along with the Superintendent, should be excluded, as these issues deal directly with them.

  21. Doctor J Says:

    @Jim#18 Spot on.

  22. Doctor J Says:

    A new era: Gary’s mug was taken down off the MDUSD Board. Oh, so was Sherry’s — I hardly noticed. I hope Barbara and Brian get some good pics to post. What’s with the “partial audio” of the meeting last night ?

  23. Mika Says:

    God bless ya, Wendy! As out of date the MDUSD website has been these past few years, no time was wasted updating the new noard webpage! Godspeed to the new board!

  24. Anon Says:

    Dr. J.
    Thank you for posting the link to but you need a password to log in.

  25. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Anon #24

    User ID= public
    Password = MDUSD

  26. Theresa Harrington Says:

    On Twitter, Brian Lawrence has announced he has established a blog and will post documents. I asked if he had received the contracts questioned by Lack.
    Here is his response: “No but I have requested them.”
    Wonder how long it will take staff to get them to him. Shouldn’t they have been provided to him last night, since they were given to Hansen?
    By the way, Hansen said she didn’t look at them. Instead, she gave the file to the superintendent’s secretary, since she didn’t intend to sign them.

  27. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    So do the new board members get the district laptops and cellphones that Eberhart and Whitmarsh used for board business?

  28. Sue Berg Says:

    I’m really trying to understand the issue regarding the contract extensions.

    Looking at the minutes for the April 23, 2012, MDUSD Board of Ed meeting at which contract extensions were requested and discussed, I see a number of motions made, yet just one approved: “Motion #3: Eberhart moved that the contract extensions be approved for one year. Dennler seconded. The Board voted 4-1-0 (Hansen – No). Motion carried.”

    So the request to extend the contracts was debated and the vote taken in a public session; public comment, pro and con, was heard. Subsequently, three of the Board members who approved the extension signed the contracts. It is not unusual for a Board member who votes against a contract to refuse to sign it.

    This is a process I witnessed numerous times during my tenure with the district. What is different about the process for the contract extensions?

  29. g Says:

    Someone has not been paying attention.

    The contracts presented for the first vote were illegal, therefore the vote was invalid, ergo-must start again from scratch: Totally new contracts; New agenda item; New “open” vote by current board….

  30. g Says:

    HFO #27: They should, shouldn’t they. It may take a while to erase the evidence though. :)

  31. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    G #30 – let’s hope someone in one of the cubbies in Dent has at least cancelled the cell service and stopped access to district info. :/

  32. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I know that some retired administrators still use district email.

    Regarding the legal advice, I agree that an outside attorney should report directly to the board regarding this complaint. The board should also independently hire the attorney, instead of allowing Rolen to do that. Perhaps Rolen and the superintendent could put up an “ethical wall” and the board could meet directly with Deb Cooksey to discuss the hiring of an independent, outside attorney.

    Sue: Did you routinely see the board wait eight months before signing the contracts? Also, the motion did not specify any changes to the original contracts. Therefore, any changes made would not be valid unless they were presented again for board approval. The only change the motion you cite allows is an extension of the expiration date.

    At the MDHS event today, an elected official told me that a new law was passed last year requiring that some public officials, including city managers, had to publicly “sunshine” their contracts for at least 10 days before a City Council could act on it. So, city councils first present the contract for information, then bring it back for approval, after the public has had a chance to review it. In the case of these five MDUSD contracts, no one — not even the board — saw the new contracts before approving them. The official to whom I spoke was not sure whether the law applied to school officials.

  33. Jack Weir Says:

    The main Brown Act issue regarding the executive contract “extensions” is the requirement that any such contracts be made available to the public prior to board spproval. This is usually a two-step process, where the proposed contracts are first introduced (in public) and then reviewed and approved at a subsquent public meeting, properly noticed in advance.
    To my knowledge, the contracts have yet to be furnished to the public.

  34. Doctor J Says:

    @SueBerg The contracts signed by the three Board members nearly 8 months later were never even prepared until after the Board vote of April 23 so none of the Board members nor the public could have reviewed them prior to the vote. I take it you didn’t look at the attachments to the agenda for April 23 because if you did, you would have seen signed versions of contracts set to expire. And I guess you didn’t read AB 1344 effective Jan 1, 2012. Both of those would be good suggestions on your further research over and above reading the agenda and minutes.

  35. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Sue,

    Great to see you still on here. What other names have you been posting on here lately? Have you heard from “Long time board watcher”?

    Anyway, I see you still are the district apologist, you continue to angle for some future PR position huh?

  36. Sue Berg Says:

    Thank you, those who’ve answered my question without taking me to task. MDUSD Board Watcher, give it a rest.

  37. g Says:

    We also have to be diligent and not let Alicia Minyen’s request for sunshine on the multiple Grand Jury reports get left in the dust.

    There have been responses sent on at least two of them that were not discussed with the public, and for all the public knows, were not discussed with the board either—although the responses, signed only by Greg Rolen, were issued as coming from, and with, the approval of the Board!

  38. Wendy Lack Says:

    @G #37:

    Q: How could the Board approve responses on a GJ report that was never placed on a public agenda, let alone discussed in a public meeting? The public deserves an answer to this question.

    Moreover, the public deserves to know the full facts about how the District’s response to the GJ report came to be prepared and submitted. I look forward to a public discussion of this point, in addition to a thorough, public Board of Trustees discussion of the GJ report findings and implications for the District. If this matter continues to be swept under the rug, the credibility of the new Board will be severely compromised.

  39. Doctor J Says:

    @WendyL#38–I agree with you that this is a 100% public discussion. Even if the Board could discuss it in closed session, the fact it was never noticed under the closed session agenda prohibited any public input on the responses. I would like to see the responses revoked, put on the public agenda, and have a public discussion.

  40. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I apologize for not posting this sooner. But, last Thursday, Rolen responded to the following questions about the Grand Jury response by email:

    “In response to your to questions:
    Question:Who authorized you to file this on the Board’s behalf? The Board
    Question: Did the Board review it and approve it? Yes”

    I have sent a follow-up email asking when the board reviewed and approved the Grand Jury response and why it was not publicly noticed for board discussion.

  41. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#40 If you can’t find it on a published Agenda, it didn’t happen.

  42. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Certainly there was no report out of closed session regarding this. Cheryl Hansen told me she thought she recalled discussing it in closed session, but she said she’d have to check her notes, since there has been more than one Grand Jury response (another regarding board benefits was also never publicly discussed).

    I agree with g that the if the board wants to “walk the walk” on transparency, these Grand Jury reports and the responses should be brought to the board in a public meeting, allowing for public input and discussion. But, since the responses have already been filed and the board has changed since they were sent, I’m not sure if the board can rescind the previous responses.

    Also, I was speaking with Concord Councilwoman Laura Hoffmeister yesterday about the board’s original plan to hold meetings in the community and she said she sees no reason why that can’t happen. She said she was surprised by Rolen’s assertion that it could violate the Brown Act. All the board needs to do is put some topics on the agenda and listen the the community, without taking action, she said. In addition, she said the board could direct staff to follow up and said staff could respond to factual questions from the public. Now that there appears to be a new board majority, perhaps the community meetings can finally happen. If Rolen insists the agendas violate the Brown Act, perhaps the board could get an independent outside legal opinion on that. But, it would be ironic for him to be concerned about violating the Brown Act in this regard, while not appearing to be concerned about failing to publicly present the contracts or the Grand Jury reports.

    Dr. J: I am also hearing that AB 1575 is causing a stir in schools. I agree the board should publicly discuss this, so everyone knows what is going on and how this will affect them.

  43. g Says:

    Several here have questioned the many Lawrence and Rolen “Evaluations” hidden in closed session over the past couple of years, and knew they had to be disguising other issues. Grand Jury reports probably only scratch the surface of what those meetings were used for.

    While it is a violation to disclose things from Closed Sessions that “must” be kept private, ie. student, personnel, certain litigation facts (unless it involves money–and then it must be reported out), it is not a violation if a member of the board states in public that they: “‘believe’ the closed sessions ‘may have’ been used incorrectly, and in violation of the Brown Act,” and it is incumbent upon that member to then state (without a lot of detail) just which items may have been discussed incorrectly in closed session.

    I call on this new-era board to clean up their whole act–not just what they want to show us in public.

  44. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I agree. When I covered the Martinez school district many years ago, there was one trustee who did just that — exposed items discussed in closed session that should not have been. He was in essence a “whistle-blower” trustee. Eventually, the superintendent at the time left, due to continuing public and board dissatisfaction with his controlling management style.

  45. g Says:

    It is also high time this board explains, in a clear and firm voice to Greg Rolen that just because his fingerprints are on a document that does not automatically make it an ‘attorney-client privileged document’ for CPRA request purposes.

  46. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, the board should understand the difference between being ABLE to invoke “attorney-client privilege” and being REQUIRED to withhold documents from the public. The board can override Rolen and release documents, in the interest of public transparency.
    The CAC should ask the new board for the third party analysis regarding clustering, which — as I have previously reported — Bill Gillaspie did not think was privileged information.

  47. Wendy Lack Says:

    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.”

  48. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The board should also ensure that its own policies are followed by personnel, especially management. I have heard that fear has permeated the district.
    Whistle-blowers should be praised for bringing problems to light and should not fear retaliation for speaking up. The new board should invite those who experience workplace harassment or witness unethical behavior to report it directly to them.
    The city of Richmond recently hired an independent investigator to look into allegations of misuse of public funds: http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_22145926/sacramento-based-law-firm-hired-investigate-richmond-employees?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com
    Similarly, when Wendy Lack headed up the HR Dept. in Walnut Creek, a forensic auditor investigated claims of unethical behavior made by whistle-blowers in the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts, which led to a misdemeanor charge against the center’s director.
    As Alicia Minyen said, MDUSD needs an internal auditor to keep track of what’s going on in the district. And if employees bring irregularities to light, district leaders should hire outside, independent investigators to look into them.

    Regarding the contracts emailed to me Dec. 6, none of them were signed by the employees. So, they were still not valid as of last week.

  49. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Brian Lawrence has posted the contracts, which have now also been signed by Dennler, but still not by Hansen or the employees themselves: http://briantlawrence.blogspot.com/

    Are they binding if the employees haven’t signed them?

  50. Doctor J Says:

    These are NOT “extentions” of the contract, but “new” contacts. What a farce. They appear to be origninal contacts, but on their face are “originals” to comply with AB1344.

  51. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.

  52. g Says:

    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)

  53. g Says:

    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

  54. Wendy Lack Says:

    @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

  55. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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).

  56. g Says:

    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.?

  57. Sue Berg Says:

    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.

  58. Anon Says:

    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.

  59. Flippin' Tired Says:

    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.

  60. Anon Says:

    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?

  61. g Says:

    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.

  62. Doctor J Says:

    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.

  63. Wendy Lack Says:

    @ 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.

  64. Doctor J Says:

    Where is Exhibit A to Greg Rolen’s contracts ?

  65. vindex Says:

    One too many scandals. Time to fire Greg Rolen

  66. Wait a Minute Says:

    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!

  67. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.

  68. Doctor J Says:

    @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.

  69. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.

  70. g Says:

    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

  71. g Says:

    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.

  72. Wait a Minute Says:

    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.

  73. Wendy Lack Says:

    @G #70:

    Thanks for the info and link.

  74. g Says:

    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?

  75. Wait a Minute Says:

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

  76. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a CSBA presentation about contract extensions: http://www.csba.org/LegislationAndLegal/Legal/CaliforniaCouncilOfSchoolAttorneys/~/media/E6F19A54B4A547379736F1DB6A7C35D9.ashx

  77. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.

  78. Anon Says:

    Nov. 21 meeting would be a few weeks ago?

  79. g Says:

    “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%).

  80. soooo frustrated Says:

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

  81. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.

  82. g Says:

    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!

  83. anon Says:

    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.

  84. Doctor J Says:

    @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

  85. Doctor J Says:

    @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.

  86. Doctor J Says:

    @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.

  87. Anon Says:

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

  88. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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?

  89. anon Says:

    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.

  90. Doctor J Says:

    @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.

  91. Wait a Minute Says:

    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!

  92. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.

  93. Wait a Minute Says:

    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.

  94. Doctor J Says:

    @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.

  95. Doctor J Says:

    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 ?

  96. Doctor J Says:

    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/

  97. Doctor J Says:

    Who paid for Sherry Whitmarsh’s campaign signs ?

  98. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is my blog post featuring Wendy Lack: http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2012/12/14/public-agency-watchdog-focuses-scrutiny-on-mdusd/

  99. g Says:

    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?

  100. Wait a Minute Says:

    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.

  101. Doctor J Says:

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

  102. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    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?

  103. anon Says:

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

  104. A Realist Says:

    #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?

  105. vindex Says:

    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.

  106. WAHMom Says:

    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!

  107. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.

  108. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.

  109. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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!

  110. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    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).

  111. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.

  112. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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

  113. Anon Says:

    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?

  114. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.

  115. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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

  116. Doctor J Says:

    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

  117. Doctor J Says:

    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. :-)

  118. Doctor J Says:

    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.

  119. g Says:

    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.

  120. Hell Freezing Over Says:

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

  121. g Says:

    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.

  122. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.”

  123. g Says:

    “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.

  124. Anon Says:

    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.

  125. Doctor J Says:

    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.

  126. Anon Says:

    I assume the Times will print this story Friday morning

  127. Doctor J Says:

    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 ?

  128. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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

  129. Doctor J Says:

    [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.

  130. g Says:

    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.

  131. Theresa Harrington Says:

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

  132. g Says:

    That was then….

  133. Doctor J Says:

    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.

  134. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

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

  135. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.

  136. g Says:

    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

  137. Giorgio C. Says:

    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?

  138. Anon Says:

    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.

  139. g Says:

    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?

  140. Doctor J Says:

    @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.

  141. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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/

  142. Hell Freezing Over Says:

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

  143. Doctor J Says:

    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.

  144. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.

  145. Doctor J Says:

    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

  146. Jim Says:

    @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.

  147. anon Says:

    @ 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.

  148. Wendy Lack Says:

    @ 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

  149. Sue Berg Says:

    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.

  150. Doctor J Says:

    @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.

  151. Doctor J Says:

    @Jim#146 Taber Construction, Inc. reported that it gave $15,000 to CUES on March 19, 2009 for Measure D. http://64.166.146.18/CFD_Web_Images/2009/577/00157720090608F22.pdf

  152. Doctor J Says:

    @SB#149 Specifics please. Lets examine your statement with some factual backup for both Julie B-M and Gail Isserman. Details of length of service as principals: schools and dates. Your statement: “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.”

  153. Doctor J Says:

    Bret Taber, President of Taber Construction, is reported to have donated $5,000 to CUES on March 19, 2009, in addition to the $15,000 of the corporation on the same date. http://64.166.146.18/CFD_Web_Images/2009/394/00139420090409F16.pdf

  154. Sue Berg Says:

    Dr J, I don’t have their resumes at my disposal. However, Julie Braun Martin was a principal in Fairfield for many years before coming to MDUSD as principal of, I believe, El Monte. When Diablo View was being built, she was appointed principal there because she had overseen the opening of a new school in Fairfield. Delta View was still under construction when the school year began. A modular “village” of classrooms was set up. Julie was credited with keeping everything running smoothly during the opening weeks and as the students and teachers later moved into the school building. She left Delta View after a couple of years when she was appointed Director of Certificated Personnel under Gail Isserman. Gail was a teacher and administrator in the Walnut Creek School District before coming to MDUSD. She was principal of, I believe, Woodside Elementary for several years, before being appointed Director of Certificated Personnel under Associate Superintendent Rick Rogers. The duties I described are ones every school principal carries out.

  155. Jim Says:

    @ 151, 153 — Well, I stand corrected. My thanks to Mr. Taber and Taber Construction for supporting Measure D and fiscal stability at MDUSD. And thank you to any one of the other $200,000 in donors to the bond campaign, if any, who also supported the parcel tax.

  156. Anon Says:

    Greg Rolen and FFF are closely connected. Rolen hired FFF to do legal work for the firm. He is good friends with one of the main partners in the firm. FFF is very reputable firm and I believe will provide accurate advice. However, do not believe they are truly independent; how could they be when Rolen has sent them hundreds of thousands of work in legal fees? Check the warrants from the last few years and you will see FFF and has profited well from its connection with Rolen.

  157. anon Says:

    Then who in the heck chose FFF to do the investigation?

  158. Wait a Minute Says:

    That’s disturbing news. It is true that Rolen’s tentacles run deep. Hopefully FFF will give the board advice that is unvarnished by the fact that Rolen has sent mucho money their way in the past.

  159. Anon Says:

    Well, that is what I am trying to point out. Everyone is wanting transparency. But there is no transparency when the firm selected several years ago by Rolen to do legal work for MDUSD is the neutral outside counsel. Has anyone checked FFF’s contract with MDUSD?
    Surely the board is aware of the contract, and the amount of legal fees paid to FFF. Surely the board knows FFF also does special education legal work for MDUSD. Someone needs to ask how long Rolen has known Roy Combs, one of the lead partners at FFF; how much legal work has he sent to FFF in the last five years? And if FFF has steady work from Rolen, are they going to be willing legal advice against him? They should issue the right legal advice, whatever the result. But I have to say nobody, nobody is getting to the truth of anything here.

  160. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Closed session is going seriously overtime. I was unable to get to the first closed session, but heard that Ernie DeTrinidad and Wendy Lack spoke. DeTrinidad reportedly asked for more information about the cure and correct process and Lack read a cure and correct letter from Alicia Minyen, which I will post shortly.

  161. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Board unanimously approved Taber contracts.

  162. Alicia Says:

    Theresa, was there any discussion regarding the Taber contract?

  163. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, I videotaped the comments. Also, there will be an audio recording posted. Sorry, I didn’t get a chance to do a live blog, but will try to post more tomorrow.

  164. Doctor J Says:

    @#154 I just don’t see those resumes as qualifying a person to be head of Human Resources for a 5,000 employee company.

  165. Doctor J Says:

    Any idea when we are going to get a report on the Friday night “cure and correct” information given to the Board [including reports out of closed session] and the discussions on the $17 million Taber construction ? Was hoping the videos would be posted soon, too.

  166. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Regarding Friday’s meeting, I hope to post the videos later today. I had hoped the district would have posted the audio from the meetings by now.
    In a nutshell, Hansen said the board will likely publicly discuss the cure and correct letters Jan. 14. And Pedersen gave a very detailed presentation about the lease-leaseback that persuaded the board that Taber was the best firm for the job.
    Please remember that the meeting took place on the Friday evening before Christmas. I do not get paid to work weekends and I am on vacation Monday and Wednesday, with a holiday on Christmas Day.

  167. g Says:

    Yes, Pedersen is a charmer, and a bit slick. It’s too soon to run a chronology for the Taber contracts, but let’s look at the CVCHS and MDHS Chem Buildings activities of 2012.

    June 25, 2012 Pedersen came to the board to request an OK to sign many-many “summer contracts – saying they couldn’t wait till the board’s next regular meeting Aug. 20.

    AUG 20, he came to the board, miraculously ‘ready’ for “ratification” of the Lease/Leasebacks with Meehleis Modular. Per usual, although these were “ratification” of agreed upon contracts, none of the documents presented at that time were signed, notarized OR dated. As I recall, not all of the attachments were posted for public view—although they are posted now.

    Back to the future: FEB 27, 2012 A Preliminary Service Agreement for $32,900. with Meehleis Modulars, the soon-to-be lease contractor to basically be his own “project manager.” But, Pedersen would have the board believe that knowing he had the job, and acting under time constraints to do as much work as possible during school downtime, even with already contracted architects, Meehleis simply could not be ready in four months, nor could Pedersen have any contracts ready for approval prior to July board downtime. Four months.

    How charming is he? “Working backwards”: OCT 8, 2012 Pedersen came to the board to approve a new outside legal firm exclusive to Measure C – Mr Henderson, from Orgach, Huff and Suarez. (this now makes SEVEN outside legal firms under contract at very high hourly rates, plus we were talked into letting Rolen hire a second “inside” counselor “because they thought they would save at least 50% over what personnel matters were costing by using outside council.” (think declining enrollment here)

    But wait! –Hendersen’s contract was backdated to begin JULY 1, 2012–Why? Never mind Rolen’s letter of engagement says 2011, and never mind that the board didn’t notice or mention the glaring date discrepancies.

    Hendersen was working (sans contract) for months before the board approved hiring him. Remember – I said Pedersen is a charmer. It is obvious that getting a contract for him and approval by the board was an Afterthought.

    His Engagement letter and Service Agreement are signed by Rolen and dated SEPT 25, 2012–two weeks before it was presented to the board on Oct 8… Fine.

    But Remember? … Henderson’s completed work product, very detailed Lease/Leaseback Meehleis contracts, were approved by the board WAY back on AUG 20! That is why you Backdate contracts! Slick, huh!

  168. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    TH – did Rolen ever reply to you follow up email ?

    Theresa Harrington Says:
    December 12th, 2012 at 9:12 am
    I apologize for not posting this sooner. But, last Thursday, Rolen responded to the following questions about the Grand Jury response by email:

    “In response to your to questions:
    Question:Who authorized you to file this on the Board’s behalf? The Board
    Question: Did the Board review it and approve it? Yes”

    I have sent a follow-up email asking when the board reviewed and approved the Grand Jury response and why it was not publicly noticed for board discussion.

  169. Theresa Harrington Says:

    HFO: No, Rolen never responded, so it’s still unclear when the board authorized him to submit his grand jury responses on their behalf.
    I saw Board President Cheryl Hansen tonight at the CBOC meeting and asked her to set aside some time tomorrow morning to talk to me about Rolen’s job performance.
    Regarding Cooksey, she told me that only PERB-certified union reps can leaflet on district property. Local One is PERB-certified and the Teamsters aren’t, she said.
    She also said she heard from PERB that the Teamsters have amended their complaint. I still need to verify that information.
    Also, Hansen told me that the Poway analysis she received from Trustee Linda Mayo was far from “thorough” or “definitive.” She said it was one sentence.
    Hopefully, the board will agree to release that “definitive” analysis, over-riding Rolen’s decision to withhold it, claiming attorney-client privilege.

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