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Recap of MDUSD 12-21-12 special meeting

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, December 31st, 2012 at 4:50 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

The Mt. Diablo school board held a special meeting Dec. 21, including one public meeting to vote on a construction contract and two closed sessions — one before the public meeting and one afterwards.

During the first closed session, the board discussed the following, according to the agenda:

“Anticipated Litigation – The board will receive information and advice from outside counsel (Fagen, Friedman & Fulfrost) on the following matters:
• Anticipated litigation regarding Wendy Lack’s charge of alleged Brown Act violation.
• Anticipated litigation by five (5) District administrators (Superintendent, General Counsel, Chief Financial Officer, Assistant Superintendent-Personnel, Assistant Superintendent-Student Support) for potential breach of employment contract.”

I was unable to attend the open session before the board went into closed session, but here is a link to audio of the meeting:

I arrived in time for the open session and am posting links to video clips of that below:

Report out of first closed session:

Public comment from Greg Enholm, recently elected Community College District Board member:

District resident Wendy Lack reads letter from resident Alicia Minyen expressing concerns regarding the proposed lease-leaseback contract with Taber Construction:

Here is the text of the letter, which was provided to me by Minyen, who was unable to attend the meeting:

“Dear President Hansen and Board of Trustees, I’m unable to attend tonight’s meeting and ask that you read this letter as public comment regarding the $17 million Taber Construction Lease Leaseback contract. As you know, Measure C bond funds will be used to pay for this contract and such bond funds are restricted to only authorized uses stipulated under California’s Constitution under Section 1 of Article XIIIA. Lease leaseback arrangements are not explicitly authorized uses under the law. Bond proceeds should not be used to pay interest (debt service) and the district should be proactive in preserving bond proceeds and staying away from contracts that appear to be pay to play. By approving a contract that appears unlawful, you subject the district to litigation under the School Bond Waste Prevention Action under Education Code. The work Taber will perform is not unique and should accordingly be competitively bid. I hope that you will reject this unnecessarily costly contract that is essentially open ended allowing change orders (see clause for additions), and allowing for interest costs, which can be avoided . Sincerely, Alicia Minyen. Board member of the California League of Bond Oversight Committees”

Here is the staff report regarding the contract (it does not include the PowerPoint presentation, which has still not been posted):

Part 1 of Pedersen’s presentation:

Part 2 of the lease-leaseback presentation, with Tim Cody going over some of the details:

Part 3 of PowerPoint presentation, in which Supt. Steven Lawrence mentions need for middle school science labs:

Board unanimously votes to approve Taber Contract and adjourns to closed session in memory of a Rio Vista Elementary food services worker:

The board adjourned to its second closed session to discuss the superintendent’s evaluation. I did not stay to hear the report out, but understand that it was continued to Jan. 14.

Do you agree with the board’s decision to approve the Taber lease-leaseback construction contract?

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40 Responses to “Recap of MDUSD 12-21-12 special meeting”

  1. g Says:

    I have a better question than “Do you agree with the board’s decision to approve the Taber lease-leaseback construction contract?”

    Do you believe the board actually read the 1,750 pages of attachments to see what they were voting on?

  2. Doctor J Says:

    How many waking hours before the meeting was the 1,750 pages available. How many pages per hour does the average lay person spend reading technical material ? Did any board member ever take Evelyn Wood’s speed reading class ? Pete Pedersen wanted it done by Dec 21 — is he on vacation ? The anticipated delay may have been due to his vacation.

  3. g Says:

    I’m glad you asked! It doesn’t take long to jump to headings like TERMS or PAYMENT SCHEDULE to get the gist of a contract. It also shouldn’t take long to simply ask “Why are we ripping out and replacing millions of dollars worth of portables/modulars at schools that were just constructed in the last 5-10 years using 2002 measure C and Prop 55???”

    Just One Example: Bel Air. The OLDEST “portable/modular” was constructed in 2002-3. The NEWEST were put in around 2006-7–WHY would they needing to be completely replaced instead of just re-configured for today’s needs?

    Damn! Board Members. At least ASK!

  4. g Says:

    Oh, I forgot. When you ask why 7 year old buildings have to be replaced, also ask who were the contractors that tore down those six old portables and then built the “Permanent” replacement buildings plus a new music building at Bel Air in 2005?

    A: Taber!

  5. g Says:

    Brown Act Violations? Most recently we learned of the board’s decision on 12/10 to not report what they actually discussed in closed session.

    How about altering an already published Agenda after the fact. This board simply cannot allow that to continue to happen. At the very least that is falsification of records.

    If a power point (or staff report) is not already posted with the electronic agenda, no one should be allowed to go back and add it after the meeting, making it falsely appear as if it was there all along. Recently, that appears to have happened with the 12/10 1st interim report given by Richards. While the actual report that was posted and presented gave sufficient information to make the power point seem insignificant, that does not alter the fact that the power point was added later.

    Unless someone printed the agenda, and ALL attachments merely seconds prior to the start of a meeting, altering legal public documents is almost impossible to prove.

    On 10/21, Pedersen gave a verbose accounting of his immediate need for the Taber contract, knowing perhaps that, as is usually his wont, if you talk long enough they will vote your way just to “get it over with.”

    His power point was not posted on the agenda prior to the meeting. Now, a power point is posted. But is it really the same one shown at the meeting? Or is it only 3 pages of meat without the potatoes?

  6. g Says:

    As to my earlier post suggesting that Pedersen was intending to replace buildings that are only 7 years old. I correct myself. Further study of just the Bel Air blueprints indicate that they are tearing out the basketball courts and adding classrooms in that space.

    Yes, student population has increased in Bay Point while it declined in other areas, but is this the right time to add buildings?

    The overall student population has declined tremendously in the past 10 years. They have closed two schools (due to a slight decline in recent enrollment) where millions of dollars worth of buildings had been replaced or added just 4-5 years earlier in the midst of that declining enrollment. They are planning to build another school at Alves. Meanwhile, they have not (as far as we know) decided on the fate of the existing Bay Point schools. Will they convert one back to a high school? Will they make some K-8? Will they convert some to K-3? Will the buildings they add now be appropriate for the uses they decide on in the future?

    By my best count, using Pedersen’s own reports over the past 10 years, and coinciding with the loss of some 5000-6000 ADA, rather than just removing old portables that were no longer needed (declining enrollment), he has spent Hundreds of Millions of Dollars throughout the district replacing and adding Two Hundred and Sixty (260) Classrooms from 2002 to now, and now has many more about to be built PLUS build another school!

    Are his reports of needs and accomplishments true? Correct?

    From 36,000 students down to barely over 30,000 students and there is a need for maybe 300 new classrooms in that same time?


  7. Doctor J Says:

    @G You can compare Pete’s dog and pony show with actual statistics from the California Department of Education showing the actual enrollments at the various schools. Who is telling the truth ? Here is historical enrollments for Bel Air — all schools are available and it will even break it down by grade levels.

  8. Doctor J Says:

    More indictments in school district corruption case based in part of failures of district officials to report on their FPPC Form 700 “gifts” and money given to them. Did anyone ever check the 2009, 10, 11, Form 700’s for Steven Lawrence, Greg Rolen, Gary Eberhart, Sherry Whitmarsh, and Linda Mayo to see what they reported ? Why Linda Mayo you ask ? She obviously likely has had some trip expenses paid for by the State PTA — did she disclose those on her Form 700 as a MDUSD trustee ? Her votes on MDUSD matters are likely influenced by State PTA positions — remember Prop 30 v 38 ? And lets not forget AB 1575 effective yesterday — banning school fees by students.

  9. g Says:

    Thanks Dr. J: Richards recent report speaks to the loss of ADA due to CVCharter, but admits “Kindergarten increases offset ‘some’ loss. What a joke!

    I have discussed their mistakes on here before, but here are some actuals.


    Wren Ave —- 2009/2010 k-60 1-72 2-79
    wren ave —- 2011/2012 k-111 1-102 2-88

    sun terrace – 2009/2010 k-76 1-76 2-88
    sun terrace – 2011/2012 k-122 1-83 2-101

    A very great many of those little “ADA dollar savers” come from Holbrook!

    Many of us tried to tell them they were making a big mistake closing Holbrook. Unlike the vested interests who will do or say anything to save ‘their neighborhood school’, their job; WE LIVE every day in the midst of the demographic changes!

    Schreder’s very flawed “paper predictions” were and still are a joke.

    We tried to tell them it was we, not Schreder’s crystal ball who could see how many more babies and children had come into the neighborhood in the past 5 years.

  10. Alicia Says:

    In 2004, the Executive Officer to the State Allocation Board, issued an opinion regarding Lease Lease-back agreements. Specifically, legal counsel from the State Allocation Board said that districts are not exempt from obtaining competitive bids to hire contractors in a Lease Lease-back. The ability to avoid competitive bids only applies to the site lease (leasing the site to the developer for $1). See pages 6 and 7 of the attached report:

  11. g Says:

    “…At the time and place fixed in the resolution for the meeting of the governing body, all sealed proposals which have been received shall, in public session, be opened, examined, and declared by the board.”

    Hmmmm. 😉

    Thanks, Alicia!

  12. Doctor J Says:

    So what is the remedy ?

  13. g Says:

    That quote is from Ed Code 17417 which, in its entirety is an integral part of Pedersen’s oft flaunted Ed Code 17406 for his LLB deals. It’s just the part he chooses to ignore, and the part where the last board totally abrogated their responsibilities.

    If they don’t dig their heels in and take responsibility and do their own homework this new board will be on that same downward slope, thanks to incompetent (or perhaps intentional) in-house legal counsel.

  14. Anon Says:

    If you believe that the district is progressing illegally alicia and others, follow through with the DA and the courts and do something about it. Complaining on here offers no possible positive outcome. Or are you wrong and would your complaints fail to possess the merits to require the district to change? But you aren’t after a solution are you? Your only desire is to malign the district and attempt to stop them from spending tax dollars that you don’t believe should go to public schools? Either follow through or stop complaining.

  15. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Anon #14,

    Gary E. good to see you posting on here again. Is the legal heat getting a little too warm for you? Surprising you come back and try to throw cold water on the investigation.

  16. g Says:

    I don’t know whether to say “Yes Ma’am” or “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

  17. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Anon @14 makes some interesting statements … My thoughts regarding those statements are included behind each in parenthesis.

    “If you believe that the district is progressing illegally alicia and others, follow through with the DA and the courts and do something about it.” (my takeaway with this statement is Anon assumes no complaints have been filed with the DA and other authorities)

    Complaining on here offers no possible positive outcome. Or are you wrong and would your complaints fail to possess the merits to require the district to change? (my takeaway with this statement is Anon’s use of “Or” to start the 2nd sentence indicates they believe there could be possible positive outcome)

    But you aren’t after a solution are you? Your only desire is to malign the district and attempt to stop them from spending tax dollars that you don’t believe should go to public schools? ( my takaway from this statement is Anon hasnt been following along with the threads regarding tax dollars SHOULD be spent on the schools, in a well planned, fully documented and approved process with proper timelines and spending audits because maintenance is needed, not willy-nilly and just to spend money or line pockets)

    Either follow through or stop complaining. (my takeaway with this statement is Anon appears to believe they have some sort of power over others who choose contribute to the threads on this blog)

  18. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The board will hold a closed session meeting Monday to continue the superintendent’s evaluation:

    Regarding the sparse “local school community meeting” agenda from Dec. 14, 2009 that I referenced earlier, I remember what it was about: incoming Supt. Lawrence attended the meeting, where campaign consultants presented stats regarding the failed parcel tax and floated the idea for a construction bond measure. Neither of these items was listed on the agenda and there are no minutes:

    If Rolen didn’t think that agenda violated the Brown Act, then it’s surprising that he has voiced so many objections to the community meeting agendas that Hansen has suggested.

  19. Doctor J Says:

    the BIG NREWS on the Supt’s Evaluation is the DETAIL in the agenda: “On December 21, 2012, the Board met in Closed Session to conduct the Superintendent’s formal performance evaluation. In that Closed Session meeting, the Board and the Superintendent agreed that, given the fact that two new Trustees had joined the Board, a one-time adjustment to the Superintendent’s evaluation timeline would be made, and the interim evaluation process would be completed in a two-step process as follows:

    1. January 7, 2013 Special Meeting – The Superintendent presents and discusses evidence and data to demonstrate progress made in the accomplishment of his performance targets in a Closed Session with the Board (see attached targets from the August 27, 2012 Board meeting).

    2. January 14, 2013 – The Board meets in Closed Session to complete the Superintendent’s interim evaluation process.”

  20. Alicia Says:

    @12 – The remedy varies on facts and circumstances. As an example, you can view complaints answered against Sweetwater by attorney, Kevin Carlin. It is interesting to note that Sweetwater sought validation of its lease lease-back that is currently in dispute for the same reasons cited by the counsel of the State Allocation Board. See:

  21. g Says:

    Thanks for the eye opener Dr. J: Since we’ve never been given information, I didn’t even click on the entry. I can say for certain though that those “Targets” noted in red pen on the bottom as “posted on agenda 8/27/2012” are NOT posted on the agenda.
    Monday, August 27, 2012 – 6:30 PM
    Category: Superintendent’s Report
    Type: Info
    Subject: 13.1 Superintendent’s Report
    File Attachment:
    Fiscal Impact:
    Recommendation: Superintendent’s report.
    Recommended By:
    Signed By:
    Loreen Joseph – Secretary to the Superintendent
    Signed By:
    Steven Lawrence – Superintendent
    I can also say for certain that his evaluation less than half way through 2012/13 should be to measure his performance of the targets given over the last two years to gauge how he has done with those so far.

    These listed targets are for two years going forward. How can they “review a performance” of something that won’t be completed until 2014 or 2015? I appreciate finally seeing this, but – wrong!

  22. Doctor J Says:

    @G #21 I checked the agenda on August 27, 2012 and there is no listing for Supt Evaluation or these “targets” on that agenda — another lie. We need full public disclosure.

  23. g Says:

    I did a quick copy paste while in the middle of other research. It was late, I was working on other research. Sorry, it was his report not his eval.

  24. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: The supt evaluation targets were included in the Aug. 27 agenda under item 14.5:

    There was substantial discussion of this item, as noted in this 8-27-12 blog post under item 14.5:

  25. g Says:

    There were Supt Evaluations scheduled on July 16 and Aug 20, but that “Targets” page was not posted there either.

    Item 15.12 on Sept 10, 2012 is good. It was discussion only but suggested “Use Previous Year as Baseline!”

    BUT-wait! By the time the minutes were posted, the agenda numbers had changed and 15.12 is something else entirely, and discussion of changing how he is evaluated is now 15.14— WHY? They stuck in two items (15.6 15.7) as two PULLED ITEMS. How did they “pull” them–they weren’t there in the first place?

    This is one of the things I was speaking about earlier.

    Board: Follow the agenda, do not change the agenda, do not insert things that weren’t there or delete things that were.

    Go to the link for the Agenda for Sept 10. “There is more than one meeting on the chosen date. Please select a meeting to view its Agenda list.” Where did the second one go?

  26. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is a new blog post about the Monday closed session meeting to discuss the superintendent’s evaluation:

    g: You are correct that the posted agenda for the Sept. 10 meeting doesn’t match the minutes. It’s clear that two items previously labeled as 15.6 and 15.7 were “pulled,” then completely deleted from the agenda.

    These were noted in the minutes like this: “PULLED 15.6 Certification of the District’s 2011-2012 Unaudited Actual Financial Report
    PULLED 15.7 Resolution 12/13-05 Adopting the District’s 2011-12 GANN Appropriations Limit”

    However, the agenda lists these as items 15.6 and 15.7:

    “15.6 Approve 2012-2013 Interagency Agreement #74-371-3 between MDUSD and Contra Costa County Services, Mental Health Division Action
    15.7 Approve Interagency agreement between Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) and Contra Costa Health Services, Mental Health Division Action”

    Previously, Hansen has tried to update board policies to make such changes transparent, but the rest of the old board showed no interest in her ideas. Hopefully, the new board will demand that agendas remain intact and that anything pulled be properly identified.

    Such after-the-fact changes are likely to further erode public trust in the district and cloud any hope of transparency.

  27. soooo frustrated Says:

    What makes the few people who comment on this blog experts in MDUSD other than people with a serious grudge.

  28. g Says:

    Soooo, which is it? People with a grudge are not allowed to be experts; or experts are not allowed to hold grudges; or if you are an expert it is only because you hold a grudge; or …What?

    Theresa has not yet titled one of her threads “The Types of People Who Post on Blogs about changes needed in school governance.” When she does, go for it kiddo!

  29. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The question assumes that people who post on the blog are holding themselves out as experts on MDUSD. I don’t believe that anyone who posts on the blog believes that he or she is an “expert” on the district. Different people have different perspectives, areas of expertise and experiences with the district.
    The question also assumes that those with a serious grudge are presenting themselves as experts. Again, that’s not my impression.
    While some posters may appear to have had negative experiences with some district officials, they don’t appear to know everything there is to know about the district. They may have knowledge about certain things — or suspicions about things, which may not be true.
    The more transparent the district is, the less suspicious people will be about what they fear may be being kept secret.

  30. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#24 I don’t remember any substantial discussion reported during the Board meeting about the specific targets by which the Supt was to be judged — seems like there was discussion about Cheryl Hansen’s refusal to participate in discussions she considered a violation of the Brown Act and whether or not the Supt’s goals should be made public.

  31. Anon Says:

    Off topic, there is a confusing email about “The Parent Project.” It offers “Empowering Parents – Transforming Teens . . . Improve school attendance and performance! Find resources to help your family!” et cetera. What is confusing is the cost of $85 per person or $148 per couple. How can needy families afford this? What about AB 1575?

  32. anon Says:

    At Anon #31,
    I don’t believe Adult Ed. classes fall under the jurisdiction of AB 1575.

  33. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Also off topic (but related to the district’s budget), here is a CCT editorial about the governor’s expected plan to give more money to school districts with low-income students and English language learners, while taking away “categorical” pots of money:

  34. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Interesting article in the CCTimes about online schools – one Coast Guard family in Concord who chooses online rather than the “brick and mortar” schools. Remember the points made by many families of the targeted schools, about Coast Guard families when the school closure debacle was in full swing under the direction of Supt Lawrence?

    I wonder how many other Coast Guard families in MDUSD are going the online route and if there is a way to determine the count of students specific to the CG, as well as overall attendance of students from MDUSD in online schools.

  35. vindex Says:

    Theresa @29 Well said

  36. Doctor J Says:

    “Truth never damages a cause that is just.”
    ― Mohandas Gandhi

  37. Doctor J Says:

    EdSource on school finance reform. Its not looking pretty for MDUSD.

  38. Doctor J Says:

    State Board of Education sets the example of openness and transparency by encouraging written comments to agenda items via email: “Members of the public wishing to send written comments about an agenda item to the board are encouraged to send an electronic copy to, with the item number clearly marked in the subject line. In order to ensure that comments are received by board members in advance of the meeting, materials must be received by 12:00 p.m. on the Monday before the meeting.” See the Agenda at:

  39. Theresa Harrington Says:

    But, since MDUSD has a high percentage of low-income and English language learners, it won’t be hurt as much as some districts by this new formula. Many hope the “base” will be high enough that no one will be hurt. I interviewed Michael Kirst (SBE president) and Ron Bennett of School Services of CA. for my story on the funding overhaul earlier this week and hope to do a blog post soon with some of their comments that didn’t fit into my story, due to space constraints. The governor announces his budget Thursday. I’ll also be at the SSC budget workshop on Jan. 15, which many MDUSD administrators are also likely to attend.

  40. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#39 Your point is well taken — except many districts with lower percentages of low income and ELL’s have in place “parcel taxes” and well funded parent groups — MDUSD is in this “middle ground” lacking the parcel taxes and except in a few cases, lacking the well funded parent groups. Plus MDUSD has been on this long standing enrollment decline while at the same time experincing massive increases in upper management payroll expenses, causing decreases in funding to the classrooms. In addition, the disparity between the teacher costs being higher in elementary than secondary has substantially subtracted from the operations of the high schools. And we haven’t even talked about the looming storm about costs associated with AB 1575. I hope you had a chance to address AB 1575 with both Dr. Kirst and Ron Bennett.

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