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Live blog of 3-25-13 MDUSD meeting

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, March 25th, 2013 at 7:57 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

7:51 p.m. Meeting is underway, with board voting on expulsions.

Here’s the agenda:

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 Readmission Action

4.3 Expulsions 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 Negotiations Info
7.2 Readmission Info
8.0 Expulsion Recommendations
8.1 Expulsion Recommendation – Student #13-13 Action
8.2 Expulsion Recommendation – Student #14-13 Action
8.3 Expulsion Recommendation – Student #15-13 Action
8.4 Expulsion Recommendation – Student #16-13 Action
8.5 Expulsion Recommendation – Student #18-13 Action
8.6 Stipulated Expulsion Agreement & Waiver of Student Expulsion Hearing and Agreement to Complete Readmission Plan for Student #17-13 Action

9.0 Student Representatives
9.1 Student representatives will report on activities at their schools. Info

10.0 Consent Agenda
10.1 (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
10.2 (Item #2) Minutes of the meeting of February 25, 2013 Action
10.3 (Item #3) Recommended Action for Certificated Personnel Action
10.4 (Item #4) Request to decrease Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2012-2013 school year Action
10.5 (Item #5) Student/Intern Teaching and Administrative Intern Agreement between Notre Dame De Namur University and Mt. Diablo Unified School District Action
10.6 (Item #6) Recommended Action for Classified Personnel Action
10.7 (Item #7) Classified Personnel: Request to Increase/Decrease Positions Action
10.8 (Item #8) Classified Personnel: Resolution of Reduction or Discontinuance of Classified Employees (Classified Layoff) Resolution No. 12/13-36 Action
10.9 (Item #9) Student Success Team Management System License Agreement between San Joaquin County Office of Education and Mt. Diablo Unified School District Action
10.10 (Item #10) Approve contract with Resource Development & Associates (RDA) for evaluation services for Tobacco Use Prevention Education (TUPE) grant evaluation for the 2012-2013 school year Action
10.11 (Item #11) Procurement and Installation of New Synthetic Track Surface for the Outdoor Athletic facility at Clayton Valley Charter High School Action
10.12 (Item #12) Authorize submission for the Contra Costa County Family and Children’s Trust (FACT) grant to support the Crossroads Program Action
10.13 (Item #13) Contract Amendment: PHd Architects: Site Addaptive and Design Modifications Required to facilitate new classrooms and use of District Pre-Checked (PC) 1440 square foot design to meet Eagle Peak site needs. Action
10.14 (Item #14) Award of Lease-Leaseback Agreement to Taber Construction, Inc. for Chemistry Classrooms 2013 at Concord/Nueva Vista and College Park High School Action
10.15 (Item #15) Final Change Order – for LLB #1594 for New Chemistry Classroom Construction at Mt. Diablo and Clayton Valley Charter High School Action
10.16 (Item #16) Notice of Completion for LLB #1594 Action
10.17 (Item #17) Request Approval to Purchase (5) 2013 Ford F-150 Pickup Trucks Action
10.18 (Item #18) Request Approval to Purchase a 2013 Ford F350 One ton Flatbed truck Action
10.19 (Item #19) Adoption of the German Honors course of study Action

11.0 Consent Items Pulled for Discussion

12.0 Recognitions

12.1 The Board of Education will recognize Teacher of the Year Nominees Info

13.0 Public Comment
13.1 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

14.0 Communications
14.1 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

15.0 Superintendent’s Report
15.1 Northgate High School – United Nations Team Info
15.2 Concord High School Boys Soccer Team – Coach Alfonzo Munoz Info
15.3 Bond Refinance Update Info
15.4 School Safety Report Info
15.5 Bay Point Attendance Boundary Process Info

16.0 Business/Action Items

16.1 Amended Contract for Assistant Superintendent, Student Achievement and School Support, for Board Action Action

16.2 Amended Contract for Assistant Superintendent, Personnel, for Board Action Action

16.3 Amended Contract for Chief Financial Officer for Board Action Action

16.4 Amended Contract for General Counsel for Board Action Action

16.5 Amended Contract for Superintendent for Board Action Action

16.6 Appointment of Construction Manager II for Measure C Action

16.7 Update on Mandated Reporting Policy and Protocol (carried over from March 11, 2013 meeting) Info

16.8 Strategic Plan – Follow-Up and Next Steps Action

16.9 Technology Advisory Committee Info

16.10 Explore the potential multi-year lease of KVHS non-commercial FM Radio license: would not interfere with District’s right to provide KVHS programming via an internet-only-stream. Action

16.11 Public presentation of District’s Initial Proposal for a Succesors Agreement with Mt. Diablo Education Association (MDEA) 2013-2016 Info

16.12 Public presentation of the Successor Agreement Proposal for California State Employees Association (CSEA)to the District Info

16.13 Procurement and Installation of Surveillance License Upgrades with Three Year Maintenance Agreement for 950 Cameras Action

16.14 Update on the Board’s Response to the Public Records Act Request of the Contra Costa Times/Dan Borenstein Info

16.15 Graduation Requirements Update Info

16.16 Title I Policy MDUSD Proposed BP/AR 6171 Info

16.17 Meeting Extension Action
17.0 Future Agenda Items
17.1 Future Agenda Items Info

18.0 Board Member Reports
18.1 Board reports Info

19.0 Closed Session
19.1 Public Employees Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint Action

20.0 Reconvene Open Session
20.1 Report Out Action Taken In Closed Session Info
21.0 Adjournment
21.1 Adjourn Meeting Info”

Live blog:

Board just recognized seven teachers who were in the running for district teacher of the year, including two district teachers of the year from Monte Gardens and El Monte elementary schools.

UPDATE: Here are the names of the seven teachers recognized:

District Teachers of the Year: Carissa Sugden, El Monte; and Shannon Prichard, Monte Gardens Elementary

Additional candidates:

Elisa Peters, Oak Grove Middle School
Janet Gowers, Ygnacio Valley High
Nicholas Sanchez, Shore Acres Elementary
Nina Pate, Woodside Elementary
Virginia Hewgley, Valhalla Elementary

8: 08 p.m. Student reps are now giving their reports.

8:17 p.m. Superintendent wants to move up recognitions for high school students.
The board recognized Northgate High’s United Nations Team and Concord High’s Boys Soccer Team.

8:25 p.m. John Parker just asked board to scrutinize lease-leaseback contracts.
Hansen pulled item 10.14 and Oaks pulled 10.9.

10.9 Student Success Team Management System License Agreement between San Joaquin County Office of Education and MDUSD:
Oaks: This is a $44,000 item that I’ve not heard about. I’d just like some information about who’s in charge of documenting this. I know it used to be done by hand. Is there a reason we’re now going to an online management system?
Lock: Yes, it used to be done by hand by principals. We found data very inconsistent. Last year, there was a committee of staff who explored this new product. Every SST is documented. This process is going to really assist us in significant disproportionality monitoring because we are required to monitor all referrals. This product was originally approved by the board last year. Sold to Accelify, then back to San Joaquin County Office of Education. This contract reduces our cost by $10,000. Three year cost. Typically there could be 20-25 per school. There could be two or three for one student over the years. Administrator can be monitoring to see if staff is staying on top of the actions. We did a trainer of trainer model back in August. Those trained went back and trained their staff.

8:32 p.m. License agreement unanimously approved.

Supt announced 11.2 was pulled by staff to be brought back later (I didn’t catch which original item that was.)

Extensive discussion of lease-leaseback with outside counsel talking about it.
Approved lease-leaseback contract in 4-1 vote (Hansen no)

Annie Nolen spoke about mandated reporting requirement and ID theft porgram.

Two district residents complained about their grandson being bullied.

Willie Mims spoke (I didn’t catch all his comments because I was talking to the grandparents in the lobby).

9:38 p.m. Back to rest of Superintendent’s Report:
15.3 Jon Isom is giving a bond refinance update with a PowerPoint.

9:40 pm. Superintendent is reporting on safety. Locks will be replaced along with several older doors, for a total cost of about $2.5 million. Current RFQ going out for locks. Hopefully will bring back firm responses in May and expect to bring doors back in near future.
Brian Lawrence asked about Ayers crossing guards.
Superintendent said he would have to ask principal, but the district is trying to re-evaluate the opening of the parking lot.
Brian Lawrence asked for an update from the superintendent and general counsel on the liability issues around crossing guards.

9:43 p.m. Superintendent is giving a Bay Point Master Plan update.
He said the growth projections don’t bear out a new high school, but Delta View is overflowing 100-200 students. So, a committee recommended having a public forum and asking for parent input. He said anybody can join the committee (I wonder how they’re promoting that?) The committee is meeting Wednesday.
Hansen: This surprised a couple board members because we didn’t know about the meeting. We didn’t know there were three scenarios. This has to be a team effort, where the board is informed and the board is participating.

Willie Mims: I was at Bay Point and we learned a lot and we heard a lot. One of my concerns is when you’re discussing boundaries, you have some new sections and some old sections. Concerned about possible Gerrymandering effect. I did not get a copy of the boundary proposal and would like to get one.
carries 3-2 (hansen and oaks against)

16.1 Amended contract for Assisant Superintendent, SASS (Rose Lock):

Rebecca Jensen comment:
Chastised the press. Said the FCMAT report about CVCHS costs seems to have been the match (to ignite this situation). The superintendent is very transparent. It feels as if this whole debacle is being used to do some housecleaning. Mistakes have been made, but I don’t believe them to be egregious enough to warrant this. If administrators can be so easily dismissed, what message does this send? Why would any qualified person ever want to work for our district?

Unanimously approved.

16.2 Amended contract for Assistant Superintendent, Personnel (Julie Braun-Martin):
Dennler moved approval and Oaks seconded. Then Dennler told Braun-Martin that one of her responsibilities is to interact with teachers who may lose their jobs. “This is a time of disappointment. I ask you to go above and beyond. Listen with patience and compassion. Four years ago, when I faced this position, I found you to be heartless and rude.”
Unanimously approved.

16.3 Amended contract for Chief Financial Officer (Bryan Richards):
Hansen said she is looking for a CFO who can answer questions about the budget. “I get concerns that requests for information are made and there’s not responsiveness. We have to have a CFO who can anwser questions quickly in language and terms that really answer those questions so people aren’t wondering what the heck’s going on. We need a CFO who really can be among his staff in fiscal. I think movement across the hall has not been helpful. I think people may not be managed as effectively as they could be. Payroll and fiscal is not a department where you want any unhappy campers.

Mayo: I want to express my concern that a ministerial action has been used to create firestorm of controversy. In them meantime, these employees have carried out their duties. Since December 2012, at least six attorneys have given input about these contracts. Despite this, the board still seeks other opinions. Attorneys have indicated that the action on April 23 is legally binding. I want to caution that comments made about employee performance may expose the district to a complaint. Although tonight’s action is legally unnecessary, I will support the extension as legally prepared by Roy Combs, attorney at law.

Hansen: Legal opinions are legal opinions and the only way something becomes legally binding is in a court of law with a judge making a decision. I am personally concerned that I was on this board last April 23 when these contracts came forward. I asked last April, ‘Where the heck are these contracts and why aren’t they posted for public viewing?’ I asked in the summer, ‘Where are these contracts?’ And I was ignored. The fact that we have spent money on outside attorneys is appalling to me, but I couldn’t get a second. Here we sit with a new board having to spend the first three months of their tenure having to fix the last mistakes. I am very concerned and offended. I am very unhappy that people on this board chose not to follow through. I’m also unhappy that the district administrators failed to follow through and advise the board. I resent the outside attorney fees.

Unanimously passed.

16.4 Amended contract for General Counsel (Greg Rolen):
Jack Weir: I expect the general counsel to be the district’s watchdog. The very manner in which these contracts were handled is all the evidence I need to know that there has been complete mismanagement in this regard. The public is very unhappy. Here we are trying to clean up a mess and we ought to be trying to make things better. We need new leadership at the top so we can move forward.

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128 Responses to “Live blog of 3-25-13 MDUSD meeting”

  1. Anon Says:

    @38 Teacher – You ask the Board to focus on what is best for students. Do you believe the top Administrators are best for students? If so, why? As a parent who is considering placing their child in MDUSD, the tone at the top keeps me away. I don’t see how teachers and other staff can thrive when the administration of a district appears chaotic. I appreciatiate Trustee Hansen for trying to improve this area.

  2. Jack Weir Says:

    Wendy’s right, as usual. The defenders of the old regime know the community has reached critical mass in terms of recognizing the need for new leadership, so they’re attacking the citizen watchdogs, and Hansen and Theresa. One speaker asked who would want to work in a top leadership role if the superintendent and counsel are fired? Having just participated in a leadership recruitment task at the community college district, I can affirm that there will be many fully qualified applicants. With 38 years in public education, Hansen probably knows a dozen people who would do a great job as interim or permanent superintendent.

  3. Anon Says:

    Teacher 38 and Anon 42,
    Wake up, students are failing because this district is failing the students. Even Northgate has a large percent of students receive Ds and Fs. Most Northgate parents hire tutors. You might ask this superintendent if he has personal experience with hiring tutors.

    Hiring tutors creates inequality between students and between schools. Where is the superintendent’s initiative to improve classroom teaching for all the students at all the schools.

  4. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Wendy: Hansen reported that an outside attorney from the Thomas Griffin law firm in Sacramento has been going through the documents provided by Rolen, but she didn’t give a timeframe for the final response. It was getting late in the meeting and she wanted to be sure to sunshine the union proposals. Although she initially said she would come back to that item, she didn’t end up having time. I videotaped it and will post that clip later.
    Also, thanks for your comments about attacks on the press. I would like to point out that editorials are written by our editorial department, not by news reporters or news editors. I also agree that there are lots of great things going on in the district and I do write about them, when I have a chance. In fact, I am doing a Hometown Hero story about an MDUSD teacher that will run next week. And at a recent Hometown Heroes event, three of the featured guests had been profiled by me, including MDUSD’s HOPE administrator James Wogan and Olympic HS teacher Skip Weinstock.
    However, it would be remiss for me to spend all my time writing about good things, while ignoring the very real conflicts that exist in MDUSD. Former Trustee April Treece was ousted largely because she was a great cheerleader for all the great things going on in the district, but many felt that she failed to admit or address problems. Former Board President Sherry Whitmarsh, who was soundly defeated in November, also often claimed that there were really only a handful of people who were disgruntled and that the press was blowing conflict out of proportion. If that were true, she probably would have been re-elected.
    It is also very telling that Lynne Dennler and Barbara Oaks are both former MDUSD employees who have experienced first-hand some of the dysfunction in the district. As I previously mentioned, Bill Morones optimistically said during the board retreat that the strategic plan aims to create a warm and welcoming district, where students, employees and parents feel like people care about them. Yet, even Dennler said Braun-Martin failed to do that for her. Jessica Preciado also had a similar story of being treated poorly when she went to administrators for help.
    There are many “positive” stories I have on my list of things to do. But, right now, this contract issue is not over. The closed session on Wednesday could be round two.
    Alicia: I didn’t catch the name of the attorney, but I videotaped that and will post it also.

  5. g Says:

    Alicia, The attorney that spoke about Leases was Philip Henderson, from Orbach Huff & Suarez. That is the attorney Pedersen hired last summer to handle Lease contracting, and Cody just got the board to increase his contract.

  6. g Says:

    Theresa, I’m confused about a couple things. In #46 you say they voted to keep benefits, but I don’t recall that.

    I’m hoping you got a recording of the little banter between Hansen and Rolen over the PRA issue. She said he had turned over all items that he called privileged for the Sac. attorney, and he said; no, that he had been told to turn over ALL documents, and it sounded like maybe there was something holding up that review. There was just too much movement, noise, and I didn’t get the whole thing.

  7. anon Says:

    @ Wendy Lack #48: you are correct; the administrators that were there last night were protecting their continued employment. Check out how many great administrators and teachers have left since Lawrence came on.

  8. Doctor J Says:

    Is Thomas Griffin law firm one name or multiple last names ? I can’t find it.

  9. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s what I found:

    g: It’s possible there was not vote, but I do remember it being on the agenda. I think Hansen may have made a motion to do away with board benefits and it didn’t get a second.

    Regarding the PRA, I was videotaping, but the quality of my recordings is not great, so I’m not sure if it will be any better than the livestream. One interesting tidbit was that Trustee Linda Mayo referenced a document that the board had received after Dan Borenstein submitted his PRA and she was wondering if that was passed along to the outside attorney. Rolen said there were two PRAs and that he had handed over everything.

    Alicia: Please not that I have uploaded all of the videos from the CBOC meeting to, including the discussion of lease-leasebacks and John Parker’s criticism of the Bay Point spending.

  10. ret3ver Says:

    Its funny how MDUSD can lose hundreds of legal documents, yet they use their so called lawyers to try and prosecute employees for mistakes they dont even make…tell me where is the justice in that. They all need to GO!!

  11. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Video from the meeting has been posted:

  12. Anon Says:

    g@55-Phil Henderson and Rolen are friends and worked at the same law firm

  13. g Says:

    Anon: Yes, there are enough ex-Miller, Brown & Dannis employees now on MDUSD payroll to fill a small theater.

    Last night’s holdover presentation by Henderson was at a mere $200/hr!

    Is Measure C financing (for 25 years) attendance at board meetings?

  14. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, CAC chairwoman has announced that the district will not begin clustering in the fall:

    However, there appears to be no guarantee that it won’t be implemented later in the year.

  15. Theresa Harrington Says:

    MDEA has extended deadline for “Academy Awards” nominations to April 10:

  16. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Agenda for Wednesday meeting is up on Electronic School Board:

    Board expects to act on: “Consideration of the dismissal of employees #22936 and #28941.”

  17. Wait a Minute Says:

    OK then,

    Maybe Brian Lawrence was telling the truth that he voted to reaffirm the contracts of Rolen and S Lawrence last night and would consider dismissal for cause at the special board meeting Wednesday.

    Hopefully for the sake of the vast majority Brian puts their interests and his duty above that of the corrupt few (2).

  18. Doctor J Says:

    What does this Thursday meeting mean” “Provide staff further direction on the Board’s goals and guidelines for collective bargaining including identifying and clarifying any portions of the District’s proposals that hinder efforts to meet the Board’s objectives.” ?????

  19. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It sounds like the board may not agree with portions of the district’s proposals:

    However, it’s unclear which “Board Goals” are being referenced.

  20. Doctor J Says:

    I think its pretty clear that Steven Lawrence is history in MDUSD. I don’t know what else the message could mean.

  21. Doctor J Says:

    Empty box donations are now being accepted at Dent for “employees #22936 and #28941.” Priceless. The Wizard of OZ song “DING DONG! THE WITCH IS DEAD” is being sung by staff, albeit, a little prematurely. I sure hope Cheryl has a temporary replacement in mind. In West Sac, they used Michele Lawrence [former Berkeley USCD Supt] to clean up after Steven Lawrence [no relation] and that might be a good idea here too. Steven, have a few wiskey sours tonight. Adios.

  22. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s my updated story on last night’s meeting, including the mysterious closed session Wednesday:

    Hansen said in a voicemail message it’s for two “contract employees.”

  23. anon Says:

    Please define “contract” employees.

  24. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I believe it means employees who work under contract, which includes most administrators, I think.

  25. vindex Says:

    Let’s hope. Let’s hope that this means Rolen and Lawerence are gone. This gives us an opportunity to hire GOOD people to replace them. WHO CARES about the initials next to their name? HIRE GOOD people. People of STRONG CHARACTER. The rest they will be able to learn.

  26. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s an interesting piece about the influence of teachers:

  27. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#74 I think only the top administrators have written contracts — I have never seen any other contracts come before the Board of Education. The rest of administrators are covered, I believe, under the secret agreement with MDEA.

  28. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, are you camping out at the closed session today to give us a live report on the announced “action” ?

  29. Doctor J Says:

    Mt. Diablo left holding an empty bag. Why didn’t they join with the other districts for a NCLB waiver ? No leadership at the Supt level. One more strike against Steven Lawrence.

  30. Doctor J Says:

    Ooops, forgot the link.

  31. g Says:

    Dr. J: There may be two answers to why MDUSD was not a participant in the formation of the CORE band of districts.

    1) Lawrence/MDEA simply were not invited.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out if they were, in fact, invited to join?

    2) In the link you provided it states: “Like other states, the districts must commit to high standards based on career and college readiness goals, improvement plans for low-performing schools, [AND] teacher and administrator evaluations that use measurements of student growth.”

    I didn’t see even a hint at that in either the MDEA or District proposals—and we’re not likely to anytime in the near future.

  32. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, I will camp out. Also, I just spoke to Board President Cheryl Hansen. She said “contract employees” are “somebody who’s under a contract.”
    I asked if the superintendent and general counsel would be included in the closed session and she said, no, it will just be the trustees.

  33. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#82 I hope your Editor saves you a place on the front page. 🙂

  34. Theresa Harrington Says:

    We’ll see how soon they announce their action, if any. We have earlier deadlines now than we used to.

  35. NCLB Waiver Says:

    I contacted the Superintendent in early February about the CORE (CA Office to Reform Education) districts applying for the waiver and sent him back-up information from the Ed Source website.

    His initial response to me was that the unions wouldn’t like assessement data as part of the evaluation process.

    I support the teachers, and generally the unions, but not on everything. To be relieved of the onerous provisions of NCLB would be a big help for our districts and ultimately the teachers. The waiver does not require union approval and while I understand working together with the union, I can’t abide by not trying to pursue this option out of…fear?

    I wrote to the Superintendent again to give him additional information about how CORE was going to work with the unions to soften the requirements and how they were going to try to develop their own district evauations systems that included other measures besides test scores.

    He wrote right back and said that he would share the information with the district’s negotiations team so they are aware of what the CORE districts are doing.

    While I appreciate the Superintendents quick responses to my inquiries, I was disappointed that as a lay person, I knew more about what CORE was doing than the district. This is a problem.

    A subsequent article that I read mentioned that even after approval, CORE might allow other districts to join in on the waiver. Now that Torlakson’s office has written a letter in support of the waiver, I think the MDUSD should definitely join in.

    In fact, my next email was going to ask the board to look into doing just that.

  36. Doctor J Says:

    What happened to “STOP THE PRESSES!” 🙂 And “EXTRA !, EXTRA!” Oh, I miss the old days.

  37. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Ha! Our Walnut Creek presses have been shut down for over a year. I’m not even sure where the papers are printed anymore. And of course, we’ve never had an afternoon edition, as far as I know. So, it’s highly unlikely the morning paper delivery people will shout anything as they toss the papers into driveways.
    But, we’ll try to post the story in a prominent spot on our website! And of course, I’ll tweet the news as soon as it’s out. Follow me at

  38. Doctor J Says:

    @#85 What you have described is a classic lack of leadership by Supt Steven Lawrennce. Nine distircts will benefit — but not MDUSD. In a few hours we will know if his office is vacant.

  39. NCLB Waiver Says:

    There’s just a lot of dysfunction. I have been around for a long time and leadership has been lacking for many years. I really do believe that despite what people say, there aren’t enough people at the district to handle everything that comes up.

    It’s a district of 33K kids and there’s no publicity person. There were deep cuts made at the district recently–not to say there isn’t more dead weight to cut–but education is a labor intensive business, and unfortunately, there are only a few very top notch folks who are doing the work there.

  40. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s CC Times columnist Tom Barnidge’s take on what happened Monday:

  41. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The board has gone into closed session, after hearing public comments. I videotaped and will post clips soon, along with new blog post.

  42. Anon Says:

    Didn’t Lawrence have to vote yes to even hold this closed session today?

  43. Theresa Harrington Says:

    There was no report out of a vote to hold the closed sessions, so it’s unclear if Hansen was able to unilaterally schedule them or if the entire board had to agree to hold them. In the past, Board President Sherry Whitmarsh called special closed session board meetings without allowing for a board vote.
    A video clip of Hansen’s Monday announcement about the upcoming closed sessions has been posted at

  44. Concerned MDUSD parent Says:

    This message goes to the Executive Editor Dave Butler all I can do is express why I do not purchase the CC Times – the reporting on the MDUSD leadership by Theresa Harrington is tainted and one sided just like the junk magazines and other National media giants that sensationalize false news stories. She is no different than the witch hunters from Salem… and appears to be in collusion with Cheryl Hansen. How come there is no reporting on what goes on behind their closed doors? I am a parent that moved to Walnut Creek in 2002 from the Fairfield area – One reason to get to a public school system that our daughters could excel in, the second reason to be close to our offices and airports that reduce our travel time. The third reason to live in a community that we could become more involved in as a result of number two. Our oldest who has since graduated from high school in MDUSD and University did not have the high school experience academically and socially that she expected. Nor did we feel that we made the best choice at the time. However she made it through but not without sacrifice. However, our other daughter currently in the system under the leadership of Dr. Lawrence has done well with her high school experience as well middle school. The common denominator is Dr. Lawrence he came in with a passion for students and improving where they go to school, his mantra is about the students and not the political views of Harrington and Hansen. With regard to the community our family as many others has witnessed the Lawrence family in action there is not a major event that goes by without the involvement of that family – I question the validity of the malicious statements made. How can pillars of the community become so malicious – is it Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the works I doubt that. I am a tax payer and my desire is that the tax wasting efforts called upon by Cheryl Hansen and her team of witch hunters along with the CC Times Theresa Harrington are removed and allow the saved money to be better used for the good of the students. Speaking of which has anyone from the CC Times ever conducted background research on Cheryl Hansen and why she is no longer a Principal in Fairfield? Has anyone looked at her bio and to confirm her credentials? Has she actually done what she says she has, or even empowered to do so? One would think that in her position it would have been top of mind as it has with Harrington on Lawrence. Hmmmmmm great investigative reporting there Dave… If Dr. Lawrence is removed I can share with you that many parents within MDUSD will withdraw from the CC Times in one form or another. I also ask that Theresa be removed from this posting immediately and have someone that reports objectively without collusion. Perhaps the National Enquire or Fox news can use her where her one sided collusion for sensationalism has been accepted in the past.

  45. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, since I am inside the district office, YouTube is blocked, so I am unable to upload the videos the from the closed session. However, I will upload them after I leave.
    In the meantime, I’ll do a blog post about what has happened so far.

  46. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I can only respond that I am not in collusion with anyone and I am only reporting what is going on in the district. There were a few people who spoke in favor of retaining the superintendent at the beginning of today’s closed session and I will post a summary of their comments shortly.
    I have never heard anyone question whether Cheryl Hansen was fabricating her credentials and I have no reason to believe that she is. I assume that the Contra Costa County office of Education did a background check on her before they hired her.

    FYI, Hansen has just come out of the closed session to announce that she estimates it could last another hour. Deb Cooksey has been providing legal counsel to the board. She has also been popping into Greg Rolen’s office behind closed doors.

  47. Doctor J Says:

    Deb Coooksey has cooked her own goose by aligning herself with Greg Rolen — birds of a feather flock together.

  48. Doctor J Says:

    If Deb Cooksey is telling Greg Rolen what is going on in closed session, she is violating state law and should go to jail.

  49. Anon Says:

    Concerned MDUSD Parent-

    You are so wrong on so many levels. Congratulations that your younger child is doing better but there are many possible reasons for that, and Dr. Lawrence is not the savior that you make out. Theresa Harrington is an excellent reporter. Enough said.

  50. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Hansen has just emerged and said she expects to report out in about 10 minutes. She asked Deb Cooksey to join trustees behind closed doors.

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