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MDUSD board tonight to discuss crossing guards, disproportionate identification of black students for special education, budget and new law that prohibits districts from requiring fees for school supplies and field trips

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, January 28th, 2013 at 12:57 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Due to a special project I’m working on, along with a planned vacation, I will not be able to attend tonight’s board meeting. It’s possible that Trustee Brian Lawrence may livestream it at (I haven’t yet been able to reach him to confirm this.)

For those who want to comment on the topics to be discussed, I am posting the agenda below. The meeting is at 7:30 p.m. in the district board room at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord:

1.0 Call to Order

1.1 President will call the meeting to order Info

2.0 Announcements

2.1 In closed session, the Board will consider the items listed on the closed session agenda. Info

3.0 Public Comment

3.1 The public may address the Board concerning items that are scheduled for discussion during closed session only. These presentations are limited to three minutes each, or a total of thirty minutes for all speakers or the three minute limit may be shortened. Speakers are not allowed to yield their time. Info

4.0 Adjourn to Closed Session at 6:00 p.m.
4.1 Negotiations – The Board may discuss negotiations or provide direction to its representatives regarding represented employees, pursuant to EERA (Govt. Code Section 3549.1) Agency negotiators: Julie Braun Martin and Deborah Cooksey. Agencies: MDEA, CSEA, Local One M&O, Local One CST, MDSPA, and Supervisory. Action
4.2 Expulsion Info
4.3 Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint – Four Certificated Employees Action
4.4 Readmissions Action
4.5 Anticipated Litigation – Two Potential Cases Info

5.0 Reconvene Open Session

5.1 Reconvene Open Session at 7:30 p.m. Info

6.0 Preliminary Business

6.1 Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call Info

7.0 Report Out Action Taken in Closed Session

7.1 Report of Special Closed Session – January 18, 2013 Info

7.2 Report of Closed Session – January 28, 2013 Info
7.3 Negotiations Info
7.4 Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint Info
7.5 Readmissions Info
7.6 Anticipated Litigation Info
8.0 Expulsion Recommendations
8.1 Expulsion Recommendation – Student #07-13 Action

9.0 Consent Agenda: Action
9.1 (Item #1) Items listed under Consent Agenda are considered routine and will be approved/adopted by a single motion. There will be no separate discussion of these items; however, any item may be removed from the consent agenda upon the request of any member of the Board and acted upon separately. Action

9.2 (Item #2) Minutes of the meeting of December 21, 2012 Action

9.3 (Item #3) Recommended Action for Certificated Personnel Action

9.4 (Item #4) Request to decrease Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2012-2013 school year Action

9.5 (Item #5) Student Teaching Agreement between Cal Teach, Berkeley Science and Math Initiative and Mt. Diablo Unified School District Action

9.6 (Item #6) Recommended Action for Classified Personnel Action

9.7 (Item #7) Classified Personnel: Request to Increase and Decrease Positions Action

9.8 (Item #8) Fiscal Transactions for the month of December 2012 Action

9.9 (Item #9) Williams Quarterly Summary Report Action

9.10 (Item #10) Contract for Architectural services for Ball Wall replacement at Walnut Acres Elementary school Action

9.11 (Item #11) Increase purchase order with Independent Contractor Evelina Villa for Spanish language interpreting and document translations for the Special Education Dept. for School Year 2012-2013 Action

9.12 (Item #12) Award Inspector of Record (Project Inspector) Contract Action

9.13 (Item #13) Contract for Architectural/Engineering Services for New Modular Gym and Multi-Use Room Modifications at Concord High School Action

9.14 (Item #14) Approval of Interagency Agreement Between Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) and Contra Costa Health Services, Mental Health Division Action

9.15 (Item #15) Approve Adjustments to Non-Public School Contracts/Purchase Orders for Residential/Mental Health for 2012/13 School Year Action

9.16 (Item #16) Resolution #12/13-28 African American History Month Action

9.17 (Item #17) Committee Assignments Action

10.0 Consent Items Pulled for Discussion

11.0 Public Comment
11.1 The public may address the Board regarding any item within the jurisdiction of the Board of Education of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District that is not on this agenda. These presentation are limited to three minutes each, or a total of thirty minutes for all speakers, or the three minute limit may be shortened. If there are multiple speakers on any one subject, the public comment period may be moved to the end of the meeting. Speakers are not allowed to yield their time. Info

12.0 Communications
12.1 District Organizations – At regular Board meetings, a single spokesperson of each recognized district organization may make a brief presentation following the Consent Agenda. Items are limited to those which are informational. Info

13.0 Superintendent’s Report

13.1 Update on School Crossing Guards Issue Info

13.2 Tomorrow’s Chef’s Culinary Competition Info

14.0 Business/Action Items

14.1 Walnut Creek Sister Cities International Program Action

14.2 2011-2012 Audit Report Action

14.3 Resolution #12/13-29 of the Board of Education of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District Authorizing the Issuance and Sale of its General Obligation Refunding Bonds, 2002 Election, 2013 Series C in an Aggregate Principal Amount not to exceed $60,000,000. Action

14.4 Budget Development Calendar 2013-2014 Action

14.5 Document Tracking Services Independent Contract Action

14.6 Mt. Diablo Unified School District Significant Disproportionality Coordinating Early Intervening Services (SD-CEIS) Plan Info

14.7 Governor’s Budget Update Info

14.8 Review of 2012-2013 Single Plans for Student Achievement (SPSA) and the Academic Program Surveys (APS) Info

14.9 AB 1575 Requirements Info

14.10 Video System to Broadcast Board Meetings Info

14.11 Update on the Review Process for Administrators’ Contracts Info

14.12 Board Retreat 2013: February 23, 2013 Info

14.13 Public Input and Information Meetings Info

14.14 Meeting Extension Action

15.0 Future Agenda Items
15.1 Future Agenda Items Info

16.0 Board Member Reports
16.1 Board reports Info

17.0 Closed Session
17.1 Items not completed during the first Closed Session will be carried over to this closed session. Action

18.0 Adjournment
18.1 Adjourn Meeting Info”

On the consent calendar, the Christian Patz and Kerri Mills are asking the board to increase a translation services contract with Evelina Villa from $25,000 to $49,500. However, the board had previously asked staff to come back with contracts for four vendors: Villa, Victor Gomez, AIS and CTI. I have been told by Gomez that he subsequently received a contract for just under $25,000, which didn’t come before the board. General Counsel Greg Rolen announced that he has established an “ethical wall” between himself and AIS, due to a recent change in his marital status. Why has Gomez’ contract been extended without board review and why is Villa’s on the consent calendar, without the side-by-side comparison of all four vendors that the board requested?

Other hot topics include the crossing guard update, the district’s Significant Disproportionality Coordinating Early Intervening Services Plan, budget update, AB 1575, an upcoming Feb. 23 board retreat, and an update on the contract language for the superintendent, general counsel, CFO and two assistant superintendents.

For comparison purposes, here is the Pittsburg district’s PowerPoint on disproportionality:

And here is the Pittsburg district’s draft disproportionality plan:

What MDUSD topics interest you the most?

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101 Responses to “MDUSD board tonight to discuss crossing guards, disproportionate identification of black students for special education, budget and new law that prohibits districts from requiring fees for school supplies and field trips”

  1. Doctor J Says:

    Signif Disproportionality: my lengthy comment got deleted. It sounds like a xerox copy of SASS — that didn’t work. It is not sustainable financially. who are all these people they are going to hire on July 1 ? They are going to impliment this for the start of school in August ? Who is kidding who ? I thought they needed board approval by Jan 31 — its only on for “information”. I think the board should tell them they have some concerns and get consultant Dr. Mary Bacon opinion’s on it. I can’t believe she wants her name on it.

  2. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a separate blog post about the crossing guard issue, including emails between an Ayers Elementary parent, the district and the school’s office manager: #MDUSD appears wary of accepting liability for volunteer crossing guards:

  3. g Says:

    The old ambiguous Closed session is one of my favorites. Sometime, somewhere, whether it be a new agenda category, or an Easy to Find definitive item in interim budget reports, or whatever, we have a right to know, and they have an obligation to tell us what our actual legal costs are.

    Why does it seem that every single one of the 5,450 or so employees are accountable to someone right down to how much they spend on paperclips — Except Gregory J. Rolen? When the board ‘reviews’ his ‘performance’ does he give them this information?

    We want to know:

    Not just what Rolen’s ‘budget’ and expenditures were (although he should be required to openly report that out annually), nor just what the hourly rate is for the SEVEN outside legal firms, we see what that is ‘supposed’ to be at contract renewal every two years.

    But, REALLY! What did he SPEND?

    I know they can’t come right out of closed session and say we have agreed to offer Mr. “B” $10,000.00 to settle his law suit, and Rolen certainly would rather not say “and I spent $23,000.00 for attorney’s to litigate it, or (whatever) case, and the total cost for that case was $$$$.

    They hold all those closed sessions (thankfully not many on “active litigation”) but that seems to be where they fall down some mysterious deep, dark well.

    I would like to see this in a new category under Closed Session, reported at least quarterly, titled something like:

    “Cleared Litigation Items”

    Report: Prior Litigation of xxx case resulted in settlement/judgement FOR or (AGAINST) the district in the amount of $$$$, which was received (or paid out) on whatever date. Attorney fees totalled $$$$. After expenses we Netted $$$$ (or) total expenses were $$$$.

    It’s our money!

  4. g Says:

    Dr J: For what they paid Dr Bacon just this past month alone, she should brag about having her name on it!

    As I read that report I only see 3 new hires to carry out the plans, but 6-7 ‘others’ to garner the most in funds, and direct the parade.

  5. Theresa Harrington Says:

    And as I have pointed out, no money is being spent to bring back Resource Assistants that used to provide the type of Tier 2 support that is now lacking.

  6. Doctor J Says:

    As we learned with SIG and how Rose Lock got caught red handed not doing what she promised — the feds and state cut off the money until there was implemented a “Corrective Action Plan” that really required “additional instructional time”. What if the funds were only paid if there were “results” ?

  7. Doctor J Says:

    @G#4 The word on the street is that she is very unhappy about the proposal. She doesn’t think it will work nor is it sustainable.

  8. Theresa Harrington Says:

    As previously mentioned, when compared to Pittsburg’s plan, MDUSD’s appears heavy on behavior interventions, but seems to place less emphasis on mental health and academic help for students.

  9. Theresa Harrington Says:

    To refresh everyone’s memory about the board’s previous decision to cut the hours of special ed assistants who helped out resource teachers, here’s my blog post from that time:

    Unfortunately, the video clips that were embedded disappeared when I corrected a typo. However, the video clips can still be viewed at

    Do you think these predictions came true?

    As it turned out, the money saved from reducing the hours ended up being added to huge reserve funds that were eventually used to pay everyone a 3 percent bonus for three furlough days they took.

  10. Theresa Harrington Says:

    For comparison purposes, here is the draft plan that was presented to the Equity Advisory Team:

    I have marked items that were discussed. At a glance, it doesn’t look like very many revisions were made as a result of the Equity Advisory Team’s input.

    FYI, Trustee Brian Lawrence has tweeted that he does intend to broadcast the meeting tonight at

  11. g Says:

    Unfortunately, once again the sound on Brian’s video is great while they settle in and then goes out completely as the meeting is called to order. Pout.

  12. Doctor J Says:

    Wow, eight items pulled from the consent agenda. I can’t remember that many being pulled before.

  13. g Says:

    eight out of nine “routine” items–record! LOL

  14. Anon Says:

    I think Greg Rolen is somehow turning off the sound.

  15. Doctor J Says:

    Ohhhh. Brian votes NO on interpreting contract.

  16. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Dr J – you have sound on UStream?

  17. Doctor J Says:

    No, I am doing my best impersonation of Ronald Reagan play by play via box scores teletype — watching the video, have the agenda up and refreshing it when there is a vote.

  18. Theresa Harrington Says:

    KVHS Radio has sound at 90.5 FM

  19. Doctor J Says:

    the state certified building inspector looks too much like a sales exec. He is getting grilled for his $255,000

  20. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Lol Dr J – thanks.

    TH – thanks, completely forgot about KVHS as a way to follow :)

  21. Doctor J Says:

    Another Measure C contract — I think the Board is catching onto this racquet.

  22. Doctor J Says:

    wow, listening to the sound and watching the video is much more fun !

  23. g Says:

    Lawrence trying to defend HIS committees, saying HIS boundary study meetings…. Why isn’t that study an integral part of the Facilities Committee?

  24. Doctor J Says:

    Wow, this is like the Thrilla in Manilla — where is Howard Cosell when you need him to narrate this slugfest ?

  25. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Linda Mayo and Steve Lawrence are completely out of their minds regarding committees.

    Long live the constitutional right to freedom of the press.

  26. g Says:

    Mary Bacon may have just earned some of her pay. Lawrence says the Equity Team is not mandated–he just decided to create it. Bacon says the CDE required it. They should have discussed that point a bit more. Hmmm.

  27. Doctor J Says:

    As usual, as Dr. Bacon points out, MDUSD did not follow the instructions on the Significant Disproportionality designation and organize two separate committees. Congrats to transparency prevailing.

  28. Anon Says:

    Some crazy lady was just disparaging TH.

  29. Doctor J Says:

    Dr. Bacon really slam dunked Steven Lawrence — essentially pointed out either his incompetence or dishonesty. Its one or the other.

  30. Anon Says:

    I go with dishonesty where Steveo is concerned.

  31. Doctor J Says:

    wowsa, it took until 9:30 to get through the “consent agenda”.

  32. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    How does anyone know who the Press is? Interesting to me the speaker points out Theresa and her blog.

    But if I walked in and sat down with my iPad or iPhone and started typing away ro videoing, would anyone in the room know if I was a press member? Or a blogger? Or just someone who likes to take notes?

    How is a press member identified and do they have identify themselves as a member of the press or a blogger?

  33. g Says:

    Unfortunately, KVHS used to cut out around 10pm, and may do so again. We may have to wait for the audio to post to hear the Equity report.

  34. Doctor J Says:

    Its good news to see Dr. Mary Bacon present — I would be surprised to see her pull any punches. We may miss her tonight. I do wish the camera was rotated a little to the left so we can watch Steven Lawrence get figetty.

  35. anon Says:

    @TH – I’m out of range for radio and streaming isn’t good; what is going on? Any big moves?

  36. Doctor J Says:

    Is that Facebook page open on Julie B-M’s computer ?

  37. Doctor J Says:

    Dog n pony show in progress. Fluff — no substance. Just reading the PowerPoint.

  38. Tom Says:

    Dr. J I think you need to … go into the meetings they were talking about the equity advisory comitee not being board sanctioned so she was not bagging on Dr.Lawrence they were pointing out that the board cannot give press permission to attend a closed meeting that has problem specific events, press is not entitled to learn or print specific case material that is being presented.

    [This comment has been edited to delete an offensive remark.]

  39. Tom Says:

    #29 Anon that crazy woman was pointing out that the very person that called for transparency is try back door tactics, sure she has a few valid points but politics being what they are she has a ton of hidden agenda why else would she try to have all the contracts revoked after they were agreed on…. Oh yea the previous board extended them so they have to be bad huh. Speaking of transparency. Anon really….

    [This comment has been edited to delete an offensive remark.]

  40. Tom Says:

    NOTE: [This comment has been edited to delete offensive comments]

    Anon … see reply # 38 the press should Identify themselves so being sneaky into a meeting just to Try and dig up some dirt. They can’t people know who they are so no big deal. Again … go into a board meeting and speak your mind there.

  41. Doctor J Says:

    The CDE gives each district a roadmap on how to correct disproportionality — its not rocket science. Last night’s presentation demonstrated the district really hadn’t spent the time with the CDE resources on developing the plan “using the stakeholders”. Dr. Mary Bacon was very frustrated with the Supt’s lack of understanding of the process of inclusion of the stakeholders. Yet she said the other two districts she works with, follow the model. Read for yourself and compare what was presented.

  42. Doctor J Says:

    I know I was scoffed at when I said AB 1575 was a “big deal” and Deb Cooksey’s presentation last night showed it. Apparently now she has watched the FFF webinar on 1575 — she was much more definitive than in her attachements to the Board agenda. Watch it again — its a huge impact.

  43. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon, I was unable to attend the meeting so I’m sorry that I can’t report what happened.

  44. g Says:

    Not to worry Theresa, it was two hours of meeting folded gently into three hours of patronizing the little folks.

  45. Brian Lawrence Says:

    I’m a bit perplexed about the audio. It works initially and then konks out. I thought it might be related to the wireless connection but I hardwired the computer last night and still had the same issues. I’ll keep at it and will do some more testing prior to the next Board meeting. I’ll also look at alternatives such as if anyone has a suggestion, please let me know.

  46. Doctor J Says:

    Brian, we appreciate your efforts. Turn your camera to the left a little so we can get all the players and not the first row of the audience. Once I got clued into listening the the student radio station, it worked quite well. I think your simple set up you are going to purchase, just needs two stationary cameras, ceiling mounted: one pointed at the speaker and one pointed at the Board. The analog speaker system — that’s a problem. I would suggest that you contact a significant church group that has all of their churches wired and they might have excess equipment for donation. I heard that every few years they donate the excess carpet, etc. to charity. They are based two states to the east.

  47. Tom Says:

    So what your saying is because hey didn’t call it stakeholders committee instead opting for equity and disproportionality your saying they didn’t follow CDE guide, so the sups hiding something. Nice try to deflect but the real debate is if you actually know anything.The guidelines are followed the superintendent is trying to keep confidentiality for the students you remember them the end users that this all affects. You arm chair politicians shouting at your TV whenever it suits you even though you can’t throw a ball. Read the material over its the same different in title only. The original bark you spouted was for transparency. There is sensitive material being presented media should not be part of that. Figure it out, it like you going to your recent colonoscopy with a film crew to document, they document it and tell whatever ther see. The world only needed to know your constipated but they publish the ulcers,the polyps,the lack of tone and the constipation.see it is unnessary and your privacy is invaded,the committee discusses everything in a mutually discrete forum they don’t dish out names but it is very sensitive look at the list of invitees then try to pull transparency into it why don’t y ou ask the NAACP for their opinion.

  48. SR Says:

    And this is exactly why I stopped posting and visiting this blog for a while…. too toxic. Nothing solved. I’d rather put my energy into doing something constructive to fix things.

  49. g Says:

    SR: Maybe that’s because it is a personal opinion Blog with ideas born out of press reported activity by the district–we are not a standing Board Advisory Committee (although advising the board is frequently our motive.)

    Some bloggers do a ton of research. We can’t always stand before the board and present our work in 3 minutes, just to get a polite “Thank you.” At least with this new board there is at least a “Thank you.”

    Some information brought here, like Dr. J’s informing of AB 1344 that became law 1/1/12, but paid legal counsel for the district did not even mention it as criteria for renewing contracts, and AB 1575 that is greatly going to affect budgets and the kids. No sign or mention of it at board level until a board member read about it here and then asked to have it explained.

    Unlike those who just come here to slam Theresa and the contributing bloggers, with no contribution of their own, 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.

    Opinions, both good and bad, when put into action, is what makes this country what it is; mostly good.

  50. g Says:

    This is an excellent opinion article out of Chicago Law Review about IDEA. Well worth contemplating. I have on occasion complained about special ed getting all the bucks and attention while GATE gets so little. But then, having both special ed and very gifted kids in my immediate family, I feel guilty. After all, if I had to break it down to a 1 to 1, which kid would I choose to get extra money. And Why.

    But, if we didn’t have the wrong kids in SpEd to start with, my kids could EACH have more….

  51. g Says:

    I should have mentioned that it was an article by Seth Rosenblatt in “EdSource Today” that led me to the law review piece.

  52. g Says:

    So there I was, reading the Bee, and what should my wandering eyes actually see? It’s a remindeder of my comment #3.

    But, wait, what? They bring their legal bills to their board–at least for ratification–long after the checks have been cashed.

    I guess in a way Rolen brings his to the board too. Several can be found monthly, interspersed in 70+ pages of 7MB of data on the Consent Agenda. Cool! Now I’m happy.

  53. Wendy Lack Says:

    @G #50:

    Thanks for the link. Much to contemplate here.

    In my experience, as a parent, classrooms are the last place that I’d want to place a special ed or GATE student. It’s a rather heartbreaking undertaking everyone concerned.

    Through my experience as a parent, I have come to believe that classroom learning is, by definition, akin to trying to squeeze a square peg into a round hole. People are individuals. School institutions, by necessity, aim to regulate, manage and standardize human behavior as a means of lubricating those square pegs and wearing down the sharp edges, to ease institutionalization — for the ease and convenience of the institution. After all, in an institutionalized setting, you just can’t do everything — you must allocate resources to “satisfice” and spread everything thinly. The outliers at both ends of the continuum, who have the greatest needs — e.g., GATE and special ed students — benefit the least from a traditional classroom.

    Unsurprisingly, classroom learning yields inferior results to individualized learning for all students — just as a tailor-made suit fits better than something bought off the rack. But the gap between actual performance and student potential is greatest for the outliers with special needs. So it’s not surprising that I’ve read, in some states, GATE parents have sought to qualify their students as “special needs” as a means of gaining additional resources to enrich their gifted child’s learning in the otherwise-deficient, unstimulating classroom setting. If I can find some of the case cites, I’ll post them here.

    This is why individualized learning methods — as are possible within a homeschool environment or modified classroom learning supplemented with self-paced online learning, for example — yield superior results over classroom learning.

    Classroom environments reward behaviors necessary to facilitate institutionalization, not learning. This is one of the challenges — and defects — of traditional classroom teaching.

  54. g Says:

    Wendy I love to share stories. There are many kids in special ed that if they had been raised by my grandmother would be far on the other spectrum. A woman well known for a gentle stroke on your head as she passed by was just as likely to ‘thump ya up-side’ that same head and tell you to “sit up and sit still or take that plate to the barn.” Trust me, we learned self control. When we got off the bus she’d say “There’s some yellow cake for you when I see that arithmetic work-page all full.” I had no idea until I was in high school that she had not gone past 3rd grade. She could read, write, roll her eyes for a minute and tell you about what a bushel of sweet corn should ‘fetch’ at $0.035 a pound.

    Something went wrong somewhere in education.

  55. Wendy Lack Says:

    @G #54:

    Heartwarming. Thanx for sharing.

    Both of my parents were teachers, BTW . . . many, many stories.


  56. g Says:

    Ah, yes. Wasn’t it the Equity and Disproportionality highly paid expert Mary Bacon who indicated to DELAC and Mr. Di Trinidad they didn’t want to get bogged down, or some such term, in their studies by including hispanics.

  57. Doctor J Says:

    I wonder how much Dr. Bacon’s bill will be for sitting through that 4 hours in the Board meeting and then never being asked to speak on the Corrective Action Plan for which she was the consultant ? But she did add a few important sentences when there was the discussion about the Disproportionality committees — Steven Lawrence and Linda Mayo weren’t happy about that.

  58. g Says:

    Good luck in figuring it out. The quick answer is whatever Mildred can get for her. Quid pro quo? She got/gets $800/day for training at Alliance and we don’t even get a report on achievement.

    But anyway, here’s a hint for what she got before we even break into that 15% of SpEd funds:

    Trust me, that doesn’t begin to cover it. Google exactly this– mdusd, mary bacon contract

    Without even reading them, just this year there is the March contract, the June contract, the July contract, the August contract…….

    I suspect she makes more than most Assistant Supts. teaching the same thing over and over and the district is still up to its eyeballs in equity doo-doo.

  59. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: Bacon said it was best to look at solutions that helped ALL students, instead of focusing on specific subgroups. In addition, she said the district could try to work with African-American mentors. “It doesn’t necessarily need to be teachers and administrators,” she said. “It could be community mentors.”

    She noted that language barriers sometimes cause English learners to be identified for special education. But, she also said some could say African-Americans speak Ebonics, which could mean they also have a language barrier.

    “I hope this doesn’t become an adversarial situation where we’re talking about one group versus another group,” she said….”The most difficulty I’ve had is when we started talking about race.”

    She suggested that true transformation wouldn’t happen “until we not have the fear of talking about race and not how many days of suspensions.”

    Bacon said the district needs to come up with clear definitions for what “disrespect” and “disruption” mean from one classroom to another. “These are subjective,” she said. “We’ve got to figure out how to deal with that.”

    Another woman (who I didn’t know) also said she believed that a lack of black and Latino role models could be a cause for disproportionate identification of both groups.

    Roberts said one of the suggestions for dealing with the significant disproportionality was to work with HR to hire more African Americans, “not that it wouldn’t be a recommendation to hire more Hispanics.” She agreed that the district’s population is changing and that it would make sense to try to hire staff that reflects the student population. But, she said, that wasn’t specifically stated in the plan “because that’s not what got us identified” as significantly disproportionate.

    So, maybe if the district is identified as SIGNIFICANTLY disproportionate with regard to Hispanics as well as blacks (as Bacon indicated could happen next year), THEN staff will consider writing into the plan a strategy to try to hire more Hispanics.

  60. Jim Says:

    This proportionality issue is going to become a bigger and bigger issue for virtually all districts with a diverse student population. To be fair to MDUSD, it is not necessarily surprising that there are differences, even significant ones, in discipline measures and spec ed classifications among various sub-populations. If those populations were demographically very similar, we would expect these indicators to be similar, but the populations are not. Just because MDUSD has higher rates than some other comparable districts does not necessarily mean that those other districts are doing a better job with those categories of students. (And just because MDUSD has demonstrated a pattern of incompetence in MUCH of what it does, doesn’t mean that the district is incompetent in ALL that it does. In fact, I think special ed, at least in our family’s experience, has been one of the brighter spots on the district’s track record.)

    There are significant differences in the incidence of poverty, single-parent households, and English language proficiency among student sub-populations. Frankly, it would be surprising if there WEREN’T differences in all sorts of outcomes, including discipline and spec ed classification. There is undoubtedly work to be done in identifying and addressing the particular needs of these students, but I fear that the heavy hand of state and federal bureaucrats trying to bean-count the way to a solution will not be helpful. That approach has seldom worked in the past.

  61. g Says:

    Theresa, as I see it, there won’t be success in disproportionality withing this very diverse district until we do stand face to face with the elephant in the room and break it down to race and nationality by school.

    That is always beyond touchy, but it needs to be done.

    We need to look at this district school by school. The Feds and State may put us in one box–that’s how they see it. But we are very wide spread in neighborhood and demographics and there are several schools where the percentages of white students are so low that if just one got suspended or transferred to special ed for acting out (or whatever) that would be ‘disproportionate’ and no one is looking at that as a subgroup.

    The suspension percentages from MDHS and YVHS alone are probably enough to skew the results on CDE charts, but are they ‘disproportionate’ for the school?

    It seems they’ve been working on this same subject since 2002. We’ve put a fortune into the ‘training’ programs, but we’ve gone from bad to worse. Cookie cutter training is not working.

    Maybe we’ll get lucky and the SARC reports will get published on time. They’re due no later than today. It will be interesting to see where some schools stand in comparison to the last couple of years.

  62. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: You make an interesting point. Maybe we’ll also get lucky and the district will release the FCMAT special ed review. There’s no mention of it on the CAC agenda, but maybe someone will bring it up.

  63. Doctor J Says:

    @Th#62 Where is the FCMAT report ? Its now February.

  64. Theresa Harrington Says:

    On Oct. 30, Lorrie Davis sent out the following CAC Update:

    “FCMAT Special Ed. Report
    Dr. Lawrence has stated the FCMAT Special Ed. Report will probably be distributed in December or January.”

    Obviously, this deadline has come and gone, so I’ll try to find out what the hold-up is.

  65. g Says:

    Ask FCMAT. I suspect MDUSD is once again holding up a final report by requiring “corrections.”

  66. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have sent an email to the superintendent asking him.

  67. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Now that MDUSD has to divert 15 percent of its special ed budget to correcting its significant disproportionality, it should consider applying for this middle school grant to help special ed students:

  68. Wait a Minute Says:

    I highly suspect that the FCMAT report’s release is being artificially held up because it contains info that hurts the prospects of the Big 5’s contract extensions.

  69. g Says:

    The state may look at history to decide who gets those grants. Tell me if I’m wrong. Based on the agenda and minutes of the 3/12/12 district meeting:

    Item 14.9

    “During the 2010-2011 school year, Dr. Bacon was paid directly by the state for Technical Assistance (TA) Facilitator services(period) (And at the same time,) Mt. Diablo Unified received a grant for the 2011-12 school year (for that same program). Given that Mt. Diablo Unified has received this grant (and didn’t spend it as was required for) the State Performance Plan Technical Assistance Project (comma) (the) State Office has indicated districts (MDUSD) will (now have to) directly pay TA Facilitators for their work.

    The words in parenthesis – except on TA – are what I believe was left out–accidentally? Or intentionally to confuse the issue. But adding them makes the sentence make sense.

  70. Anon Says:

    I called FCMAT. They said it was still in draft state waiting for corrections from the district. They said some corrections will need to go to the board. This may or may not be the case for us. This tells me that it is the district holding it up

  71. g Says:

    SARC is up. I’ve only just started with the high schools and it ain’t too pretty. Equity training piled on equity training–see any results? And where are all those millions of facilities dollars going? Oh, that’s right, Taber and Meehleis (and inspector Jensen) don’t get hired to fix things–just tear down and rebuild portables.

  72. g Says:

    I forgot to say thanks to the county, 2011-12 SARC is up, but it isn’t easy to find.

  73. g Says:

    Or, you can FIRST go to the districts home page, THEN (if you had any clue that’s where to find SARC ) you go to Research and Evaluations dept., THEN you look on the left and find 2011-12, and THEN go to each school.

    If you just go to the home page and word-search SARC you can get some nice 2006-2010 reports for comparison.

  74. Doctor J Says:

    Ugly. Where is the leadership ?

  75. g Says:

    Which reminds me. I don’t think it’s too late to get your name and application on the CVCHS Freshman Lottery, but Monday Feb 4th is D-Day!

  76. Anon Says:

    Was there any news on the Governor’s Budget Update vis-a-vis MDUSD

  77. Theresa Harrington Says:

    There was a Powerpoint on that topic:

  78. Anon Says:

    Attempting to translate into plain English for the sake of discussion, is it correct the net result is adding $86 ADA, and will MDUSD have a positive budget?

  79. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to review the documents or listen to the audio, but that sounds promising. I know the governor’s budget includes “weighted” funding that would give more to districts like MDUSD that have a high percentage of low-income students and English language learners. It would also give the district flexibility to spend that money however it wants, with the implied understanding that the district would use it to help those students. It remains to be seen if that will happen.

  80. Anon Says:


    We all know the extra money will go into the pockets of the cabal of Stevie, Rolen, and Pedersen.

  81. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a lot of information about the budget from EdSource, which I understand is recommended by CSBA for new school board members:

    For more big-picture budget perspective, you can check out the CA Budget Project at

  82. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Reminder: Registration for k and TK in the fall begins tomorrow on a first-come, first-served basis:

  83. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Putting MDUSD’s Measure C in perspective, Pleasanton has approved a $516 million school construction “wish list,” including $37 million for a new elementary school:

    As far as I know, MDUSD has never released an estimated cost for a new Bay Point school.

  84. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, CC Times editorial endorses governor’s energy-efficiency proposal for schools:

  85. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a new blog post following up on my previous story about the “Weight of the Nation” program at Mt. Diablo High:

  86. Wendy Lack Says:

    Wow, just wow.

    Can MDUSD hire this guy away from San Diego Unified? We could use a CFO and this guy thrives on challenges. His candid, direct style is sure refreshing:


  87. Theresa Harrington Says:

    My favorite part of the Q&A with the San Diego CFO is this:

    Q: “How can you have transparency when the budget is so complicated?
    Nobody’s ever shown me a budget document I understand at this district. Is that doable?”

    A: “It’s totally doable.
    There was probably a strategic plan in the past to have a convoluted budget where you can’t follow the money because it’s part of your defensive strategy.
    In my old district, they had a mall, and I made a statement that if I had to put a kiosk in the mall, with a keyboard and a terminal, where you can walk up and pull up the special ed budget and expenses or whatever budget, for people to understand that we want transparency, that’s what I’m willing to do.
    If I’ve got to do that in [a local mall], then that’s what we’ve got to do, because it’s taxpayer money.
    It is public money. You have the right to know about every dime and where it’s spent.”

    Anon’s comment #78 points out that MDUSD’s budget presentations are not understandable to the layman. Yet, I’ve heard School Services of CA repeatedly tell districts that they NEED to make their budgets understandable to the public so everyone will understand it. This is what got the district in trouble with MDEA — when it was trying to explain why it had built up such large reserves.

    Although some people on this thread have complained about my blog, it is very telling that others in the public turn to my blog for answers to simple questions like: What is going on with the district’s budget? If the district did a better job of explaining that, the public wouldn’t need to ask me what Bryan Richards meant in his PowerPoint.

    g also makes good points about the fact that the district hides its legal fees and lawsuit payouts. When the board agrees in closed session to a settlement, that settlement should be reported out, along with the amount. The district has also not provided a simple breakdown of the “soft” costs for its Measure C bond program, showing exactly how much has been paid to Jon Isom, bond counsel and bond underwriters. Why is this a secret? We don’t need a kiosk in Sun Valley mall explaining the budget in simple language, but it would be nice to have it online in a straightforward way.

    As an aside, I wonder if the new San Diego CFO would condone the idea of leaving unencrypted social security numbers on an laptop on a desk on a Friday night.

    And speaking of people seeking answers on this blog, here’s what Superintendent Steven Lawrence wrote to me in an email today, in response to my question about when the FCMAT special education report will be released (since he originally told Lorrie Davis it would likely be released in December or January):

    “Our goal was to complete the review/editing process by December or January. However, with Dr. Mills being new coupled with the review/edit process that FCMAT goes through the process has taken a little longer than expected. We are working with FCMAT to make the study public in the near future.”

  88. Doctor J Says:

    What is the Board members reaction to that line of bull sh$t from Steven Lawrence ?

  89. Anon Says:

    Stevie is such a phony. What a crock.

    After his little email boo-boo to Theresa he is still trying to figure out how to pull the horse back into the barn.

    Give it up Stevie, its time to send out the resume.

  90. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Trustees can request the draft copy. Hopefully they will do that and see for themselves whether any corrections are needed.
    As a reminder, the district got the draft FCMAT special ed report July 26, according to Bill Gillaspie. The district has had more than six months to review it for factual errors and corrections. Per Gillaspie, FCMAT does not allow districts to rewrite its reports.

  91. g Says:

    Kerri Mills has served on a FCMAT team, so for Lawrence to try to lay it on her being ‘new’ is bull. She knows what she’s looking at and has had months to do it.

    What he’s stalling for is to try and align any negatives in it with ‘his’ million dollar Equity Team and tie the 15% cost of those boosted salaries to ‘his’ transportation plan.

  92. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Hopefully, Mills will address this at tonight’s CAC meeting.

  93. g Says:

    They need to start looking right now for the possible ramifications of losing some SpEd dollars due to DSM-5, although that may be a small number.

    Then, let’s face it–the more kids they (“disproportionately”) stuck in SpEd gave them more money. So if they clean up that problem, they lose that money. Maybe that’s why they just sat on the issue waiting to be called out for being ‘significantly’ disproportionate.

    Then, with the influx of Pre-K there will be more ADA, but also a lot more ESL. Also very likely, there will be a similar percentage of influence on numbers of special needs children, the costs of possible re-evaluations and new IEPs for dozens (if not hundreds) of those same kids.

    They have a ton of work to do to prepare for next fall. Stalling and wasting time playing around with FCMAT evaluations is not going to help with the numbers.

  94. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Reminder: Preregistration for kindergarten and TK begins today in MDUSD:

  95. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Trustee Lynne Dennler recapped the last few board meetings for the CAC. Here’s part 1 of her report:

  96. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I just noticed that MDUSD has quietly posted several Common Core resources on its website:

    As far as I know, however, the district hasn’t publicized the fact that it has done this.

  97. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s an interesting article about a plan by the Pleasant Hill Mayor to increase community volunteerism in MDUSD schools:

    Since it says he has the superintendent’s blessing, as well as the support of city principals, I hope the superintendent reports to the board about this.

  98. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a blog post about the Pleasant Hill Mayor’s Education initiative:

    Kudos to the Pleasant Hill City Manager for posting her weekly updates to the Mayor and City Council on the city’s website! Superintendent Steven Lawrence could likewise post his memos to the board on the district’s website to improve transparency. Has he let trustees know about the initiative?

  99. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Those who missed the district’s Disproportionality Plan presentation to the board can see a repeat of it at Tuesday’s Equity Advisory Team meeting, which is open to the public:

  100. g Says:

    In what appears to be a personal need to debate nearly every point with the ‘duly elected’ board president and regarding item 3 of the Equity agenda, lest Ms. Mayo think she can have Deborah Cooksey re-write Board Committee definitions, I present for early study:

    I offer this in great hopes that Ms Cooksey’s preparedness and performance will be better than the .02% proficiency she showed in trying to keep up with Robert’s Rules and Parliamentary Procedure her last time at the dais.

    While it speaks in reference to County Boards, laws are laws. Ms. Mayo, you don’t get to just rewrite them to further your grudges.

  101. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is a new blog post with a letter written by an attorney hired by the superintendent and other four top administrators to defend against the Brown Act violation allegations:

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