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MDUSD board identifies priority performance targets for superintendent

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, February 19th, 2013 at 11:59 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

At the Jan. 28 board meeting, Board President Cheryl Hansen reported out some of the performance targets for Superintendent Steven Lawrence, which were discussed during his Jan. 18 closed session performance evaluation.

Since many people on this blog have expressed an interest in seeing those performance targets in writing, Hansen sent them to me in an e-mail today.

Here is what she wrote:

“On January 18, 2013, here is what the Board determined were some of the priority areas for the remainder of this school year based on the Superintendent’s performance targets, all of which he is still responsible for accomplishing:

1. High Quality and Effective Staff – Target 3: Climate Survey

· General Counsel completes and reports out his evaluation of any legal implications of conducting a climate survey (February 25 meeting).

· Create and actually conduct a district and school climate survey this school year, piloting it with at least one elementary, one middle, and one high school.

2. Supportive Family and Community Involvement – Target 2: External Communications

· Improve and update district and school web sites to be informative and current. Archive information and documents prior to August 2011.

· Create a Superintendent’s page with current messages and links to up-to-date communications, events, and reports.

3. High Schools – Target 4: Other Critical Measures (High School Rigor)

· Complete an assessment and present a recommendation regarding increasing graduation requirements and credits.

· Increase high school students’ completion of A-G requirements so graduates have more post-secondary opportunities.

4. All K-12 Students – Target 1A and 1B: English Proficiency

· Implement and monitor the English Learner Master Plan.

5. Middle Schools (and High Schools) – Target 1: API and Target 2: Mathematics

· Create more effective math pathways and successful course completion, particularly at the middle and high school levels.

· Evaluate and improve effectiveness of programs and intervention at Year 5 Program Improvement schools.”

Do you agree that these performance goals should be priorities for Superintendent Steven Lawrence?

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

314 Responses to “MDUSD board identifies priority performance targets for superintendent”

  1. Doctor J Says:

    Ok its working. Popcorn ready. Drinks ready. 🙂

  2. Doctor J Says:

    Notice Greg Rolen’s chair is vacant. Why doesn’t the broadcast show Supt Lawrence ?

  3. Doctor J Says:

    @G#200 When you add in Greg Rolen’s salary, MDV, retirement, etc. Rolen costs the district almost $200 per hour.

  4. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, Rolen is absent and Deb Cooksey doesn’t appear to be here either. Glad to hear livestream is working! I’ll still videotape portions of the meeting, just to be on the safe side.

  5. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#204 No problem. LOL.

  6. Wait a Minute Says:

    Actually Dr J and G,

    We know that Greg Rolen has cost this district and us taxpayers far, far more then his bloated salary and benefits.

    He is and has been at the epicenter of all the corruption and various scandals/pecadillos perpetrated upon us the taxpaying public.

    Does Rolen steer MDUSD legal contracts to his buddies and expect them to “owe” him in return?

    All one has to do to answer that is see how he has managed to steer well over $100,000 in interpreting contracts to what started out as his lover and now “shotgun” wife Marisol Padilla of AIS.

    It doesn’t take alot of imagination to see that if Rolen is unethical enough to steer those contracts to PERSONALLY BENEFIT HIS “NEW FAMILY” that he is certainly steering legal contracts to buddies like Juhl-Darlington.

    IMO, Greg Rolen and his cohorts like Stevie Lawrence are leaches upon the taxpaying public and are giving all public servants a black eye through their machiviellian corruption and imcompetence.

    Hopefully Rolen and Cooksey’s abscence from the meeting tonight is a sign that they are on the way out.

    I hope this Board takes their oversight and fiduciary responsibilities seriously and orders a thorough fiscal and performance audit of the MDUSD Legal Dpt/Rolen Empire and do so by a firm that is experienced in these matters and has absolutely no connections to Rolen or Cooksey!

  7. Anon Says:

    Where is the live stream?

  8. Doctor J Says:

    Livestream :

  9. Anon Says:

    Someone explain to me again just what Rolen does. If he is district legal counsel he uses a lot of outside firms, not to mention having an associate counsel, Deb Cooksey. If he oversees maintenance and transportation, he does a lousy job of that. It only appears he works.Why does the board keep him? Waste of money in my book.

  10. Doctor J Says:

    On the issue of confidential information on portable devices, why not start with the policy of a major corporation, such as Chevron.

  11. Doctor J Says:

    Supt Lawrence admits they got FCMAT management letter in January — Lawrence concealed it.

  12. Doctor J Says:

    Steven Lawrence got reamed by the Board AND Willie Mims for not disclosing the FCMAT reports.

  13. g Says:

    I was really looking forward to them, but I am so happy Cheryl pulled Rolen’s items to make him speak for himself at the next meeting. And Brian asked for a five year legal expense report! Right on.

    Anon: He stands in the middle of the intersection with a whistle and directs traffic.

    WAM: Are you saying he’s going to be running around soon with little ‘urp’ stains on his lapel?

  14. Doctor J Says:

    @#213 Yup, Brian really is putting the screws to Rolen. I think Rolen is history and he knew it since the contracts were not on the agenda. We will see what happens on March 11. I bet Steven Lawrence tries to put the contracts on the agenda before he puts the 5 years of legal expenses on the agenda.

  15. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Brian Lawrence also showed that he didn’t agree with Mayo and Superintendent Steven Lawrence’s decision to keep the FCMAT financial report secret – and Dennler’s defense of that decision – when he said: We shouldn’t govern my being afraid of what people might say about us, but instead should just do what is right.

    The incredibly ironic thing is that the superintendent, Dennler and Mayo don’t seem to understand that people will say worse things about them when they continue to be secretive than they probably would if they were open and honest about what they were doing. I was very surprised that even Board President Cheryl Hansen hadn’t been told about the FCMAT report. She also said she didn’t know anything about the Pleasant Hill Education Initiative until she read about it in the paper and saw that the superintendent knew all about it.

    It is not wise for a superintendent to keep some board members in the dark. That’s what got Gary McHenry in trouble with Gary Eberhart and Paul Strange. But then, when Eberhart and Strange became part of the board majority, they were the ones keeping secrets. This also happened when I was covering the city of Walnut Creek and then-City Manager Mike Parness decided to take direction from some board members, while not sharing information with others. They decided to show him the door.

    As the Brown Act presentation stressed, the public’s business must be done in public. Continued secrecy will only continue to hurt the district’s image, which Dennler, Mayo and the superintendent said they were trying to protect by not mentioning the FCMAT report. Only when the board and superintendent are completely committed to open government and transparency will the district’s reputation begin to turn around. Yet, it appears that Mayo, Dennler and the superintendent still don’t get it.

    Mayo’s participation in the secrecy appears to call into question her speech about building trust on the board. Did she think she would engender the trust of her colleagues by secretly directing the superintendent to commission a report and then hiding its existence, without even telling the rest of the board, much less the public?

    It was unclear whether Dennler knew about the report previously. But, she seemed to think keeping it secret was the right thing to do. If she didn’t know about it, it was surprising that she didn’t appear miffed about the fact that no one told her about it.

    On a positive note, Rose Lock and co’s Common Core presentation was very thorough and Brian Lawrence gave them kudos for posting the PowerPoint ahead of time. The board is starting to use Positive Behavior strategies with district staff, publicly praising them when they are transparent and open. But, when they’re not, what kind of interventions should trustees use to correct their behavior?

  16. Doctor J Says:

    True Theresa that Mayo, Dennler and Steven Lawrence don’t get that openess and honesty creates more trust. Why don’t they believe it ? Because as long as there are secrets, it falsely appears that there is more trust. But once the truth is told or in this case “discovered”, there is less trust. I think
    FCMAT disclosed the “management report” before they knew it was coming. It will be interesting to see the Spec Ed FCMAT report tomorrow. Why not disclose it tonight ? They must be afraid of the contents. The original report 8 months ago might have to be obtained from FCMAT along with any emails or correspondence “correcting” it. FCMAT should be the source — not Steven Lawrence or Greg Rolen.

  17. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The last time, FCMAT claimed that emails about corrections didn’t have to be turned over. I got a copy of the report tonight, but I haven’t had a chance to look it over yet. The superintendent said it will be posted tomorrow. But, I agree, there was no logical reason given for why it wasn’t posted tonight.

    Tim Cody also appeared to be a little surprised by the hammering he took over the lease-leasebacks and the board’s decision to bring in legal counsel to discuss the prudence of that practice. At first, he appeared to believe that his assurance that it was perfectly fine was enough. But, he wasn’t smiling when he sat back down. John Parker’s comments further blasted the Measure C team for wasting taxpayer money by canceling contracts “for convenience.”

    And I’ll be curious to hear what John Ferrante’s reaction is to the security plans for portable devices. Brian Lawrence is pushing for something much stronger than what Joe Estrada originally proposed. Ferrante has blasted the district in the past for its lax policies and procedures related to laptop security.

  18. Sue Berg Says:

    Theresa, #215: Gary McHenry did not keep Gary Eberhart, Paul Strange, or any Board member in the dark. I know that’s what they claimed, but it’s simply not true. The superintendent communicated with Board members almost daily, always alerted them when something unexpected occurred, sent them voluminous reports every Friday of his 10-year tenure and more often as need arose, and welcomed them in his office whether for scheduled meetings or unplanned drop-bys. If one Board member asked for information, he made sure all members received it.

    I am surprised when I hear/read of any current Board member being “in the dark,” as you report. Board members with whom I worked were pretty proactive in getting information from the superintendent to respond to questions and concerns they received from parents, staff, community members, and reporters. For issues that garnered a lot of media attention, as the FCMAT report seems to be doing right now, Board members demanded frequent updates. Board members have the authority and responsibility not to remain in the dark, but to open the curtains and let the light in on any matter not protected by legal considerations.

  19. Doctor J Says:

    @SueBerg#218 So what got Gary McHenry into the dog house then that got him ousted ? I take you at your word on Gary’s communication with Board members.

  20. g Says:

    Well,,, there WAS that Miller, Brown & Dannis contract issue…. Rolen had worked for them/us for years, and had to know their contract was out of date. Then when he scaled the mooring line from their ship to ours, he waited the appropriate amount of time, and then brought up the contract issue, making McHenry look like the bad guy.

    Then there was the big (not so big after all) IRS issue. Eberhart had an ego that had to be top dog. Who do you suppose took a complaint about the McHenry v. Board complaint to the GJ? Who supplied the GJ with all of the back-up they relied on; backup that mirrored comments from Eberhart?

    I don’t know—I just guess a lot. Sue probably can only guess about that too.

  21. Doctor J Says:

    @G#220 But what is Sue Berg’s opinion ? Rolen became outspoken that “McHenry had to go” — is that the role of General Counsel ? BTW, after 18 years on the Board, why haven’t we heard what Eberhart is doing ? Its contrary to his character to remain silent.

  22. g Says:

    Rolen also wanted to get rid of the 30 years of Miller, Brown & Dannis, so he could Really take over. Of course, we’ll never know why he left their employment.

    As to the other; we’ve been having some good house painting weather.

  23. Doctor J Says:

    @#207 See post #188 on this thread.

  24. Theresa Harrington Says:

    For anyone who is interested in Dr. William Daggett’s presentation at MDHS addressing the question: “How do we really prepare all students for college and careers?” — I’m live-tweeting it at

  25. Anon Says:

    Thanks for tweeting th. he is right. Reading is the key! The district does not want to make the
    Changes that we need. They need to leave the 70’s and jump into 2013.
    By the way did anyone read the FCMAT report on special Ed. I am sure no one at the district did.

  26. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    If you scroll to the end of the FCMAT report on Special Ed. you will notice that Stevie did not date his signature on the “official” report.

    Now the $64 question: why in the world would he be concerned with dating when he became aware of the report?

  27. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a story about youth incarceration, which highlights efforts to reduce suspensions in Oakland, Richmond and San Jose:

    Although MDUSD has plans to try to implement these kinds of programs as part of its disproportionality plan, it isn’t as far along on these ideas as other districts. Felicia Stuckey-Smith mentioned the success of “restorative justice” programs at the EAT meeting, yet MDUSD has no plans to try that at this time.

  28. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Although I’m not sure if anyone from Oakland reads this blog, I’m just passing this along. The Oakland Tribune has established this email address for news tips or pitches related to Oakland education news:

    As I hope readers know, news tips or pitches about MDUSD and Contra Costa County education news can be sent to me at

  29. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Although the superintendent has shown consistent reluctance to keep the board and public informed about what’s going on behind the scenes in the district, he appears to be meeting his performance goals for distributing the Good Newsletter:

  30. Theresa Harrington Says:

    And although the superintendent has not responded to an email I sent him with questions about the FCMAT CVCHS analysis, he seems to be happy to talk to Sun Power’s PR people to help them promote their solar projects:

  31. Wait a Minute Says:

    Maybe he and Eberhart are hoping that SunPower will hire them?

  32. Doctor J Says:

    @#229 Typical last minute Steven Lawrence job — the Feb 2013 edition comes out on Feb 27; just like the Board powerpoints, working on them until the last minute. Has anyone thought of number of staff hours to produce the “Good News” ? And they can’t figure out how to fix the website ? The name of the Vacaville company that produced the website in 2009 is listed right at the bottom of the front page of the website with a link along with the copyright of 2009. So who was trained in 2009 to run the website ? Not Joe, the Director of Technology ?

  33. Doctor J Says:

    I think its extremely important to get the July 26 version of the FCMAT Special Ed report so we can see what changes took 7 months to release to the public.

  34. vindex Says:

    Thanks Theresa… Great job. Your work is why the founding fathers wrote the first amendment. Well done

  35. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Thanks, Vindex. Interestingly, no one from CVCHS has responded to my call to them for a comment on the FCMAT report.

  36. Doctor J Says:

    Interestingly, CVCHS is the one to forward the FCMAT report to Dr. Ovick.

  37. Jim Says:

    @236 Dr J — People may expect a charter school to bring all sorts of “innovation” to a hidebound district like MDUSD. But really, the innovations that charters bring often involve common sense thinking that no longer appeals to traditional education administrators. The taxpayers paid for a report. It’s time that citizens learned what was in the report. It’s an innovative concept for MDUSD, but not for anyone else.

  38. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Somewhat ironically, the district invited an education “futurist” to talk about all kinds of innovative education reform ideas Tuesday and Mt. Diablo High and Wednesday during an education/business summit. Unfortunately, however, he didn’t talk about nuts and bolts things like how to run a district efficiently and transparently.

  39. Jim Says:

    @238 — That is exactly the problem with so many traditional educators’ ideas about “innovation”. The real shortcomings stem from the failure of so many educators to do the basic blocking and tackling that any system for delivering quality service would require. I’ve worked with many schools that achieved remarkable results by attending to rigorous, time-tested, common-sense practices. Educators in those schools were called “innovators” only because everyone around them had simply lost their minds.

    BTW, for anyone who has worked long with schools, it is obvious that there is no shortage of valuable, innovative ideas in education. The problem is that good innovative practices do not get replicated often enough — because administrators in traditional education are not accountable, and therefore, are unwilling to do the hard work and make the uncomfortable choices that true innovation INEVITABLY requires. (Bill Gates, are you listening?) If an innovative practice were easy and obvious, it wouldn’t be an innovation anymore.

  40. vindex Says:

    I’ve sat through some meeting with these “futurists”. Some of the information the espouse is decent, but most is non-sensible. They are usually trained by Google or Apple and espouse the company speak. Administrators, fearful of being left behind, jump on the bandwagon and mandate that teachers do the same. These futurists in my mind are snake-oil salesmen at their lowest. Let’s start with the basics people. Effective Communication. Integrity. Respect. Kindness. Fairness. Character.
    If we increase in these measures, the rest will be more attainable. Instead we hire these “futurists” to tickle our ears with things that aren’t practical. It’s easier to dream than to deal with the reality of the situation.

  41. Wait a Minute Says:

    Lets not forget other basic principles necessary for success like honesty which unfortunately is sadly so lacking amongst so-called “leaders” like Rolen and Lawrence.

    For the life of me I don’t know how you can run a educational institution that is supposed to instill these values in the children when you are completly lacking in these same values.

  42. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The plot thickens on the FCMAT report. The FCMAT employee who sent me the agreement told me she has been instructed not to send me anything else without an official PRA and that I need to address my inquiries to FCMAT’s Deputy Executive Officer.

  43. g Says:

    Should have known that once they read or heard about comments on here Rolen/Lawrence would tighten the screws on FCMAT.

    If it weren’t for watch-dogs on here, we’d still be playing by the Ebermarsh rules.

  44. g Says:

    It’s past time for Torlakson to be asked to take a close look at FCMAT and Kern Co. Supt and their role as a taxpayer funded ‘independent’ schools’ resource.

  45. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Please note that I have finished uploading video clips from Monday’s meeting, including three regarding the FCMAT reports, to Unfortunately, the clip regarding the Baker & Hostetler Invoice wouldn’t upload due to technical difficulties, but it wasn’t controversial and passed unanimously.

  46. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s Dr. Joe Ovick’s response to MDUSD regarding the FCMAT report:

  47. Jim Says:

    Good job, Mr. Ovick!

    Earth to Steve Lawrence: when you do everything possible to alienate everyone…you end up alientating everyone.

  48. Anon Says:

    Dr. Ovick decisively cut through the BS by stating with the weight of his authority what was obvious all along. Dr. Lawrence should apologize for misleading the public.

  49. Doctor J Says:

    @TH Why don’t you send them a PRA for all communications from the district regarding the report — put the pressure on them to deny and then let your legal begals work on them.

  50. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, what is happening re the legal payments of the personal expenses of the BIG5 by the district ?

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