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MDUSD board president asks superintendent to be more welcoming and transparent to press and public regarding meetings

By Theresa Harrington
Thursday, January 24th, 2013 at 12:54 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Covering the Mt. Diablo school district is never dull. But, this week, I had to stand up to Superintendent Steven Lawrence to insist on my right to attend an Equity Advisory Team meeting where a committee was discussing the district’s draft plan to address the fact that the state has found it significantly over-identifies African-American students for special education, labeling many “emotionally disturbed.”

This is an important issue that the district has been working on for more than a year. In addition, it over-identifies African-Americans and Hispanic students for suspensions and expulsions, according to the state.

I heard a report about this at a recent special education Community Advisory Committee meeting, where the presenter invited other members of the committee to attend the Tuesday Equity Advisory Team meeting.

But, when I started to walk into the Equity Advisory Team meeting, Lawrence quickly stood and said, “Ms. Harrington,” (while the meeting was in progress) and asked me to step outside.

He tried to prevent me from attending the meeting, saying that it wasn’t open to the public. I told him the CAC presentation had given me the impression that anyone could attend. He said he didn’t know who made that presentation, but that wasn’t his impression.

I also told him another district administrator has encouraged me to attend, saying it’s important for the community to know about the work the committee is doing. He said he didn’t know why that administrator would have invited me.

Lawrence said it wouldn’t be good for just any member of the public to drop in and start making suggestions, since they wouldn’t have been to all of the other meetings and wouldn’t have reviewed all of the materials. I pointed out it would be easier for the public to review the documents if they were posted online.

He said the district can’t possibly post agendas and minutes for all of the various committees online because there are so many. But, he said the public could see the finished report when it is presented to the board on Monday.

Further, the superintendent said it was a “working meeting” and it wouldn’t be good if I was there videotaping or blogging, since it might inhibit discussion.

When I saw how intent he was on turning me away, I decided to compromise. So, I asked him if I could attend the meeting if I agreed not to videotape or live blog, although I said I might blog later. He said if I just sat there and took notes, it would be all right for me to go in.

So, true to my word, I sat and took notes on my laptop. I didn’t videotape, live blog or tweet.

But, I was surprised when I looked at the agenda and saw that it was in fact a public meeting after all and that recording was allowed.

Under “introductions,” the agenda stated: “Please notify the audience during introductions if you are recording the meeting and let us know if this is your first time attending the Equity Advisory Team.” The agenda also allowed for “Public Comment” from people who were not on the Equity Advisory Team.

So, why was he trying to bar me from the meeting?

After the meeting, I happened to see Board President Cheryl Hansen and relayed my frustrations to her about the superintendent’s attempt to exclude me. She said she would ask him why he did that, since it is her hope to make meetings more transparent, not keep them secretive. She also said the district needs to change its mindset and allow the public to see how business is being conducted.

Hansen informed me today in an email that she spoke to the superintendent about his actions. Here is what she wrote:

“I followed up with the superintendent about the incident with you yesterday. I told him that we have to find ways to be more transparent and welcoming to the public and the press. It’s just better PR (Public Relations). I suggested that the district:

1. Post all meetings on the district’s online calendar and, when people click on the posting, they would be able to see agendas and other information showing the purpose of the committees and what they’re discussing. Relevant documents/reports could actually be linked there as well.

2. Take the initiative to inform and actually invite the press to our public meetings.

3. Make sure committee members are emailed information prior to the meetings so they can prepare ahead of time and make meetings more productive.

Thanks for letting me know what happened because it helps keep the focus on more transparency and accountability.”

Somewhat ironically, the need to communicate better with the public also came up during the committee meeting. The draft report stated that one of the root causes of the over-identification is that some parents don’t trust the district and may not feel comfortable discussing their children’s needs with school staff. The draft plan emphasizes the need to warmly welcome parents (and the public), so they don’t have a negative impression of the district.

Bill Morones, director of secondary education, said: “For some of our parents, visiting a school is not a positive experience. When they walk on a campus, we want them to feel welcomed and loved and part of the Mt. Diablo family. One bad experience can turn them off.”

After the meeting, I tweeted about the superintendent’s attempt to exclude me. Recently elected Trustee Brian Lawrence followed up with this tweet: “(Thomas) Jefferson: ‘Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.'”

Do you agree with Hansen’s suggestions for greater district transparency?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

174 Responses to “MDUSD board president asks superintendent to be more welcoming and transparent to press and public regarding meetings”

  1. Doctor J Says:

    Premium members never see ads. LOL.

  2. Concerned parent Says:

    Theresa thank you for your input especially about the statement about what Lawrence tried to do accomplish for the students and was overruled by the board. Sad and hence I question what value does the board bring for the students?

  3. Theresa Harrington Says:

    At that meeting, it appeared that politics outweighed concern for the students, as the board appeared to be making a point to MDEA that it should have agreed to furlough days sooner, then the special ed assistants could have been saved.

  4. Concerned parent Says:

    Dr. J – Why attack? Wow – I read several of your other comments and all you seem to do is attack. and quote links and performance of an assistant not the lead? You seem to be a well researched individual that has information on every topic including private sector. My statements were light and from personal experience in the district. I only asked how the position was measured. Sorry I did not read your previous comments. As mentioned I have had the opportunity to have two children through the system pre Lawrence and current Lawrence – and indicated that current Lawrence was a more positive experience. Do I know how to review trends, you ask sarcastically… how offensive and counter-productive is that question/statement!!? It speaks volumes though. I purely made a personal oberservation about differences and all you can do is attack. What’s in it for you? Is this for personal gain and have you no care in the world about student well being or student parent experience? FYI – Dr. J was a great basketball icon for all athletes – how did you select this title? Sorry everyone I had to say this as I do not appreciate juvenile attacks.

    Dr. J I have no time or interest in your personal attacks, they are toxic, counter productive and add no value. Use your smarts and knowledge for good outcomes, not wasted breath on non-stop critism that has ZERO benefit “to the kids”.

  5. Mom Jackie Says:

    Wendy Lack, aren’t you the one who filed the frivolous Brown Act accusation against the district? As I remember it, the Board had to pay outside counsel for his opinion on the matter. He found your complaint to be without merit. Have you repaid MDUSD for costs it incurred because of your actions?

  6. Wendy Lack Says:

    @ MJ #105:

    I have no authority to control how the Board of Trustees allocates resources, nor do I have any personal responsibility to pay District expenses (beyond my legal duty to pay taxes). Further, a “frivolous” complaint would not have required an extensive legal opinion. Thus, I fail to understand your point.

    The Board’s actions last spring were improper. My response was an effort to sunshine the problem with the newly-elected Board majority, in hopes that they would act promptly to correct the previous Board’s error. My complaint can hardly be characterized as “frivolous” given the Board’s commitment to bring the contracts, in proper form, back to the Board for consideration – and requisite advance public review.

    As the Times news report ( stated: “In a 4-1 vote, the board determined . . . the written documents supporting [the contract] extensions will be reviewed by an independent attorney and publicly presented to correct omissions and other possible errors that were made when new contracts were drawn up after the April vote. ‘As a board, we must continually try to earn the trust of our constituents,’ said trustee Brian Lawrence, who was elected in November. ‘In the case of the contract extensions, I believe the previous board failed and failed miserably. I believe their actions were reckless and irresponsible.’”

    Trustee Lawrence’s assessment hardly sounds chock full of frivolity. Further, I see no evidence that the Board of Trustees shares your opinion.

  7. Anon Says:

    @ MJ#105,

    Sherry is that you?

  8. g Says:

    Mom Jackie: I agree, it is a shame that we’re stuck having to pay for outside legal help — to clean up the mess left by the repeated bungling of our own legal counsel and the prior board majority.

    Theirs was inexcusable behavior in public office.

    Wendy Lack’s was commendable public service.

  9. Doctor J Says:

    Detailed legal bills to school districts are subject to Public Records disclosure. So why does Greg Rolen not release them ?

  10. Doctor J Says:

    Where is the long promised FCMAT Special Education report ?

  11. Wait a Minute Says:

    I wouldn’t just characterize it as “…repeated bungling of our own legal counsel..” although there is plenty of that going on.

    I think the entire rush to extend his and hid buddies’ contracts was nothing less then a conspiracy by Rolen, Lawrence, Eberhart and Whitmarsh and others to protect the key players who led the massive corruption regarding the Measure C, AIS, Gang of Five raises, repeated Brown Act violations, and the Schreder employment that The Gary enjoyed, etc.

    I also don’t think it is coincidental that all of a sudden there has been a small influx of posters here like “Mom Jackie”, “Concerned Parent”, “Tom” etc that all seem bent on casting aspersions on our attempts to continue to hold individuals and the district accountable for following the law.

    I feel that along with Stevie Lawrence’s attempt to keep Theresa from attending a public meeting that these people have reached the desperation phase of preserving the conspirators and their jobs and most if not all of these new posters are simply the individuals mentioned above.

  12. Doctor J Says:

    Well said WAM #111 — its not a coincidence. I think there is now a great fear on the part of some, that once one or two or three of the key players are gone, that there will be an unveiling of the truth — that might put some at risk, and many nervous.
    On the other hand I was encouraged that the message is getting through — Deb Cooksey’s presentation was much more thorough than the documents she posted with the agenda. She probably decided to watch the free on line webinar of FFF. All of this means just one thing: Dent is now reading this blog and paying more attention.

  13. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Cooksey also admitted during Monday’s meeting that she had made a mistake at the previous meeting, when it was implied that Cooksey was the board’s parliamentarian. Actually, Cooksey said, the board president is the parliamentarian.

    Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to watch the entire meeting Monday. Did the supt or anyone else mention the FCMAT special Ed review during the disproportionality report?

  14. Doctor J Says:

    Deb Cooksey appears to be distancing herself from Greg Rolen to save her own bacon — she obviously was not familiar with Board By-law 9121 which makes the Board President the parlimentarian. Was she shooting from the hip or acting on Greg Rolen’s instruction in attempting to usurp the responsibility of the Board President ? Lets not forget the Oakland Unified fiasco that Deb Cooksey was embroiled in. The whole department needs a clean sweep.

  15. g Says:

    Dr. J 109: Like I said in #3 on the Agenda thread this week…Rolen has his own budget and directs payments. Litigation cost must follow the same guidelines as all other Brown Act rules. We should not need a PRA request to get what should be part of reports given in open meetings.

    Litigation is already public record. We already know who sued whom and the results. We depend on our board to tell us “how much” money it cost. Not just the amount paid to the litigant, but how much to the attorney–case by case. Then, what about all of the “possible litigation” where they simply decide to settle right up front and give the person what they ask for to keep them from suing? That should also be reported out.

    Litigation costs need to be itemized and reported-at least quarterly-not swallowed up in “other” General Fund reporting on a budget that only a CPA could read. I’d bet if you asked Richards to pull the last budget report and give you just the total “legal” expense, it would take him hours of work to pull it from that report, and even then, he could not tell you which cases.

    How is the public supposed to find it or know where their money is going?

  16. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The transparency has begun!

    The district has posted the agenda for a Coordinated Health School Council meeting tomorrow:

    Now, the public can see what these committees they only occasionally hear about are doing.

  17. g Says:

    Theresa, the FCMAT report seems to have gone down that deep, dark well. Even they have not released it yet. Do they need Rolen’s permission – again?

  18. Doctor J Says:

    If you didn’t hear John Parker’s comments on the consent agenda items, he is “right on” and I appreciated his honesty. Listen to the audio. Its worth it.

  19. Doctor J Says:

    Wow, consider what Bill Gates has to say about grading teachers !

  20. g Says:

    Theresa: I know Mr Wogan and Mr. Roselin work to help the kids, but how is this going to be significantly (or any) different than what Student Services have had in place since 2002? What? Oh, now they’ve re-shuffled some PowerPoint and decided to actually “do” it now that they have a mandate to take 15% out of the SpEd budget for their own pay?,+Building+Effective+Schools+Together&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgGU08HL2KpY2fMo6Oz96T-tsZOpbwM-fonHqB9y_plun4lk_Cuc9HWtiyxWScFNw8EUwlrd6Gh8FY3AUqVcfR3A8okmTORy7VxZO7lpD2WhmWrrPk9pV5f7Wz6QyfMc4ueM8-y&sig=AHIEtbTTx0emAqbD9KdCBiwT7HHQgE8pZQ

  21. g Says:

    Dr. J: Great Bill Gates article. Thanks! Speaking of spending just 1.5 to 2% of the Teacher’s compensation budget to actually help the teachers he says: “But such an investment in great teaching would be small compared to what is being spent now on professional development that too often shows little results.

    Hiring all those outside “professional “talkers for so called Professional Development is a money pit.

    But then, we already have said that. Many times!

  22. Doctor J Says:

    Just look at all the outside speakers that are “brought in” and there is no change in how we operate — Monday was a good example. Tomorrow, Phil Marzanno will be “brought in” [big bucks] to talk to the principals — will there be any real change ? I heard a story once: an Eagle was brought in to teach turkeys how to fly, and after a great day of lessons, all the turkeys walked home. I thought of MDUSD.

  23. g Says:

    As to Mr. Parker’s comments. By his professional estimate Alisha Jensen is going to have to put in more than some 350 hours in the next 6 months to do her DSA work. Six months is about 130 working days. She’d have to put in 300 ten hour days to get to the number of hours we’re going to pay her for.

    Quick, run out to any active construction site—Is she there? Un-uh. How many certified Class 1 or Class 2 employees does she have to help her do those hours?

  24. Sue Berg Says:

    G, on another thread you encouraged someone who voiced a negative opinion about some of the posters on this blog to “please stay, join us, contribute, tell us when we’re wrong on facts and give us the straight scoop. But don’t chide us for our opinions.”

    Would that everyone posting on this blog agreed with your request. Anyone who says something positive about the district is routinely chided, as was done by #107, #111, and #112 above, and as I will be just for pointing this out. I respect your request; just wish I had more faith that it will be heeded.

  25. Doctor J Says:

    Ooops. I meant Mike Mattos.

  26. Doctor J Says:

    @Sue #124 — My post #112 “chided” something postive about the district ? Who did I chide ?

  27. Mom Jackie Says:

    Wendy Lack, There was no Brown Act violation. Because of your actions, money that should have been spent on the education of our children was spent instead on outside counsel dealing with your frivolous accusation. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    If you want to help the children of MDUSD, join the PTA at your child’s school. Volunteer in the classroom. Buy the overpriced wrapping paper from the fundraisers. Get elected to your school’s site council. Volunteer for a position on one of the district’s many committees that include parents. Speak your mind at a Board meeting. Let your legislators know how you feel about the state of education funding in California. Work to get NCLB rewritten. The next time a parcel tax or bond measure is proposed, volunteer with a group working to get it passed. If you don’t like what the Board members are doing, then work to get someone else elected or run yourself.

    Wendy, I was feeling sorry for you after you made a public fool of yourself by making unfounded accusations, but I see that you have fallen completely under the sway of the numbskulls that post here. Crying “Brown Act violation!” every time the Board does something you don’t like doesn’t make it true. The people who post hear clearly don’t understand the law and wouldn’t know a Brown Act violation if it jumped up and hit them in the face. There is no vast conspiracy as the cabal that post here seems to believe. How stupid do you have to believe that district lawyers, board members past and present, a rotating cast of district and site administrators, parent volunteers, a laptop thief, businesses large and small that work with the district, and anyone who posts here daring to disagree with the little group that regularly posts here must be part of some grand conspiracy to do heaven knows what? Don’t you ever read what’s posted here and say “These people are nuts!”?

    I don’t agree with everything the Board or the superintendent or other administrators and employees do, but that doesn’t mean they’re evil or have hidden motives or are a part of a criminal conspiracy. They’re just ordinary people doing their jobs with varying degrees of competence. In the case of the Board members, they’re citizens wo care enough about their school system to step up to the plate and try to make a difference.

    By making uninformed accusations you are part of the problem, Wendy, not part of the solution.

  28. g Says:

    Sue, I meant what I said. I want to be told if I give wrong information, and I want to be given the correct information.

    In comment 112, Dr. J’s agreement was directly related to two comments where we were taken to task for our comments—those speakers had no counter proposal or positive idea to suggest, nor any specific information to offer. But, certainly they were entitled to their opinions.

  29. Sue Berg Says:

    Dr J, you agreed with WAM #111, who did the chiding. “Well said WAM #111 — its not a coincidence.”

  30. Doctor J Says:

    I agreed with WAM that it was not a coincidence that there was a sudden influx of people who did not want to hold the district accountable for following the law.

  31. g Says:

    People who live in Glass Houses…. Mom Jackie. Even though the attorney spoke of “ceremonial” signing of things like contracts, she could only mean contracts that had been vetted and voted on by the board. The Brown Act violation Wendy Lack spoke of was the hub and spoke signing of contracts that no one had ever seen. As each person was called in to sign those un-vetted contracts, the next individual board member saw that a “consensus” of agreement was forming. Did you know it is also against the Brown Act for the Administration to “pick and choose” which board members are provided documents? You don’t get to just quit asking for signatures on contracts in October because you have gotten the three you wanted for consensus.

  32. Sue Berg Says:

    G, Let me clarify my statement. I said, “Anyone who says something positive about the district is routinely chided . . .” I should have said, “. . . is routinely accused of being either one of the individuals who’s been criticized or part of a grand conspiracy to protect those who’ve been criticized.” And regardless of how one feels about Dr. Lawrence, referring to him as “Stevie” is rude.

    Again, I’m with you on your request for civility by all who post, including #127, whose anger probably eclipsed the valid point she made in paragraphs two and four.

  33. Doctor J Says:

    MDUSD is so “blind” that it hasn’t even had a discussion yet of the MET findings. Not a single word of it at the Board meeting or the all day “in service” meeting on Monday. “Great teaching is the most important in-school factor in determining student achievement. It is critical that we provide our teachers with the feedback and coaching they need to master this very challenging profession and become great teachers,” said Tom Boasberg, Superintendent, Denver Public Schools. “We all need to look at multiple sources of information to understand better our teachers’ strengths and development areas so we can provide the most targeted and useful coaching. The MET project’s findings offer new insights that are of immediate use in our classrooms and form a roadmap that districts can follow today.”

  34. Doctor J Says:

    Read the nine principles for measuring successful teaching. Do you agree or disagree ?

  35. g Says:

    Sue, I agree. Belittling of a person by name calling is out of line. However, I contend that my coining of the phrase EberMarsh was spot on. But we have transcended that phase.

  36. Wendy Lack Says:

    @ MJ: #127

    Facts don’t lie. I will continue to expose government incompetence, waste, fraud and abuse as occasion arises to do so.

    As regards MDUSD, such efforts are the best way — in fact, the only way — to improve long-term academic performance. Any current successes occurring in our schools are in spite of District administration — certainly not because of it. One rarely sees such mismanaged, low-performing organizations — in the private sector, organizations like MDUSD mercifully go out of business.

    The residents of this District expect and deserve much, much better that what they’re currently getting.

    Don’t want to take my word for it — just ask the parents of CVCHS students.

  37. Doctor J Says:

    @Wendy#136 Actually Wendy I concur with you that there WAS a Brown Act violation or maybe more than one. I am concerned that it appears the Board will only revisit the contract language, not the actual “extentions” of the contracts. I believe that ALL aspects of the contract extensions should be revisited. Keep up the “watchdog” efforts — improving government efficiency will ultimately improve the health of the community. CVCHS is just one example. I can’t wait for the STAR scores this year to show vast improvements.

  38. Anon Says:

    Wendy Lack,

    Many are applauding your efforts and your comments.

  39. Davce Says:

    Good for you, Wendy, you keep on doing what you are doing.

  40. Mom Jackie Says:

    Wendy, you took what you thought was your best shot at proving the Board was violating the Brown Act. It was found not to be a violation. Neither wishing it were so nor pretending it were so will ever make it so. No Brown Act violation occurred. As far as your statement that “facts don’t lie”, you don’t have any facts. Just baseless accusations and sweeping generalizations.

    We’re all frustrated with the state of education in California and in MDUSD. But blaming it on individual Board members or Steve Lawrence or the district’s lawyer or the entire administration is ridiculous. We’re in trouble because of the recession that lead to massive state cuts in education funding. We’re in trouble because our communities are made up of older subdivisions with declining numbers of students. We’re in trouble because it costs a lot of money to educate Special Ed students. We’re in trouble because ELD students require a lot of extra support. We’re in trouble because we pay teachers too little to attract top talent and we can’t get rid of bad teachers. We’re in trouble because we don’t live in communities that are willing to pass parcel taxes or financially support educational foundations that can make up for lousy state funding.

    The crowd that hangs out here spends their time spinning the most far-fetched conspiracy theories, inventing insulting names for anyone they don’t like, and accusing anyone who dares to disagree with them of being an enemy in disguise. You guys remind me of those nuts who are positive the government is covering up the fact that aliens landed in Roswell. Anyone who seriously wants to discuss the possibility that life might exist elsewhere isn’t going to hang out with those guys. Anyone who seriously wants to discuss how to improve education in MDUSD isn’t going to post on this blog, at least not after they read what the regulars here post.

  41. Davce Says:

    MJ – who said there was no violation of the Brown Act? You have some adjudicated decision or is this simply your opinion?

  42. Anon Says:

    Mom Jackie,

    Your quote, “…not after they read what the regulars her post”. You mean the regulars like you?

    Are you part of the Sue Berg / Long-time board watcher / Mom Jackie family of posters?

  43. Doctor J Says:

    @#139 There was no “finding” — both C&C letters are still subject to litigation, although doubtful they will file with the reconsideration of the phoney extensions.

  44. Wendy Lack Says:

    @ MJ #139:

    I believe the Board acted in good faith, considered the information available and reached the best finding of which it was capable. And I’m pleased the Board committed to come back on February 25th to take a “do-over” regarding the form of the contracts in question.

    What’s most important to me is the future conduct of District officials. Regarding all matters I expect Trustees and staff to act responsibly, lawfully, with integrity and professionalism, in a manner responsive and respectful to one another and the public. I am pleased my complaint raised awareness about transparency issues and hopefully served to sensitize District officials to their importance.

    As regards my complaint about an apparent Brown Act violation, the Board’s decision is, well, just that. A decision. And as with court verdicts, decisions made by government sometimes don’t mirror one’s personal views.

    My ongoing suspicion that the Brown Act was violated in this instance is a moot point. Without complete information, we’ll never know the facts, if indeed they can be fully known. My ongoing suspicions about the prior Board’s handling of these contracts is little different from my belief that OJ got away with murder. It doesn’t change things and isn’t relevant.

    In civilized society we accept (or legally appeal) decisions with which we may not agree or even fully understand. In this case, because the Board did not make public the results of its investigation, the public will likely never know the basis on which the Board reached its finding. And that’s OK. The Trustees represent the public interest and have done their best in this matter.

    Fortunately, it appears you and I can continue to diligently work for the benefit of students and taxpayers. While we may do so in different ways, it’s good to know we both seek to achieve the same ultimate outcome.

    Oh, and just for the record: I think this CCT blog is great. Theresa Harrington is to be commended for her efforts in keeping the public informed about ongoing developments in MDUSD schools. Her conscientiousness and commitment are appreciated.

  45. Doctor J Says:

    The new Board, by rejecting the contracts drafted by Greg Rolen [according to Steven Lawrence] gets to reconsider them. I don’t know how the new Board, with advice of independent counsel, on AB 1344 will ever be able with a straight face to approve Greg Rolen’s contract, based on his sloppy and incompentent work ignoring AB 1344.Plus add in the whole issue of his paramour turned wife and her $100,000 plus contract and the issue of conflict of interest. Reading the tea leaves is why you saw Deb Cooksey on Monday distance herself from Rolen by admitting that the Board President is the Parlimentarian, not the General Counsel. Personally, with Cooksey’s history from Oakland Unified, I don’t think she will survive a contract extension either. A new broom sweeps clean.

  46. Wait a Minute Says:

    As was said above at post#140,

    It does look more and more like “Mom Jackie”‘s screeds are suspiciously similar to good old Sue Berg’s enthusiastic and apoligistic statements here.

    Specifically her many statements defending the district’s longstanding dysfuntions and conversly attacking myself and Dr J and others putting forth our interpretations of what ails this once-proud district.

    You know Sue, you don’t have alot of credibility here after you hilariously exposed yourself as posting under your alias Long Time Board Watcher.

    Since you already have a proven track record of subterfuge and dishonesty on this blog. it is no wonder that myself and others question your lame statements that because of EberMarsh ans Strange you had to leave but then you sit with her at the “Chevron Table” at the TOY event.

  47. Mom Jackie Says:

    Wait a Minute Says 146, You’re nuts.

  48. Jim Says:

    Too much attention is paid to “Brown Act violations” I think. Clearly, many CA school districts are quite cavalier about adhering to the letter or spirit of the law — MDUSD certainly more than most. But no one is particularly interested in enforcing the law, so let’s take the discussion out of that context and into the world of normal human affairs.

    Let’s suppose a board — any board, let alone one with oversight over a $300 million organization with thousands of employees — were asked to “extend” the contracts of the organization’s senior executives without having the new contracts available for prior review (or even available at the meeting for that matter) by the voting board members. And furthermore, let us assume that the request were being made prior to any substantive evaluation being done of the performance of the executives in question. Now, it doesn’t take an organization expert to conclude that it would be irresponsible, if not inconceivable, for any such board to go ahead with approvals of such “extensions” (which, of course, in this case, were not extensions, since the terms were being altered).

    Only in the bizzaro parallel universe of unaccountable school district monopolies does it have to be explained — again and again! — why this practice was so unprofessional and reckless. I suspect that in closed session Mayo and Dennler pleaded for mercy, and maybe even promised to start acting like responsible board members in the future, and that was enough to persuade at least one other board member not to vote for a smackdown under Brown Act auspices. But let’s not forget that Brown Act or not, the MDUSD board has been a clown car act for several years now, and all of us are likely to suffer the consequences for many years to come.

  49. Sue Berg Says:

    Thank you, WAM #146, for proving my point about the downside of blogs, not just about the name-calling but also that the information presented on them may not be as complete as it would be for a news article published after an editor’s review.

    I attended the Teacher of the Year dinner as a guest of my friend April Treece, who, as a communications consultant, has spent years initiating and coordinating ways to bring local business leaders and educators together to help make curriculum relevant to today’s students. Chevron is a major donor to “linked learning” programs. April works closely with Chevron. We sat at the Chevron table at TOY. As dinner was about to be served, Sherry Whitmarsh, a Chevron employee and MDUSD Board member, arrived. She took the last unfilled place at the table, which happened to be next to me.

    Theresa Harrington, whom I did not see nor talk to that evening, saw Sherry and me sitting together and reported that fact here on her blog. An assumption was made that Sherry and I had elected to sit together, which seemed to mean, according to some posters, that I am in her camp. I contacted Theresa after her report to say the seating arrangement was coincidental. Not long ago WAM brought up the TOY seating arrangement in one of his continual criticisms of me. Theresa posted the clarification about the seating immediately after WAM’s comment. Yet, here it comes again, that my sitting next to Sherry at a large event shows my allegiance to her and to Gary Eberhart and Paul Strange as well. And belies anything I might say about MDUSD.

    I apologize, everyone, for taking up your time with this matter. But the old journalism teacher in me needs to show how one incomplete report can lead to false assumptions. Fact: two people sitting together. Not known because no one was asked: what their sitting together might, or might not, portend.

    We really need to be careful in everything we read and hear, but particularly on blogs, which are popular because there is little editorial oversight, that we have sufficient information on which to make our judgments. It’s only fair.

  50. Wait a Minute Says:

    Just a coincidence Sue?

    Well it certainly wasn’t just a coincidence that you have repeatedly acted as an apologist for district mis-deeds here on this blog and it certainly wasn’t a coincidence that you were exposed as commenting here under multiple handles.

    I’d like to see your explanation for that one Sue, are you going to tell us you had multiple handles on here because you have multiple personalities?

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