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Live blog of MDUSD 3-27-13 closed session regarding dismissal of two employees

By Theresa Harrington
Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 at 5:36 pm in Education.

The Mt. Diablo school board is currently holding a closed session meeting to consider possible discipline, dismissal or release of two contracted employees.

Here is the agenda for the meeting, which began at 2:30 p.m.:

“1.0 Call to Order
1.1 President will call the meeting to order Info

1.2 Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call Info

2.0 Public Comment
2.1 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

3.0 Adjourn to Closed Session

3.1 Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint Action

4.0 Reconvene Open Session

4.1 Report out on Closed Session Info

5.0 Adjournment
5.1 Adjourn meeting Info”

I shot video of the portion of the meeting before trustees went into closed session, but am unable to upload it right now because YouTube is blocked from the district’s WiFi. I will upload it later. Also, Joe Estrada is recording the proceedings.

Here is a recap of what has happened so far:

Pledge of allegiance and roll call, with all trustees present.

1. Trustee Linda Mayo asked how and when the trustees would sign the contracts approved Monday. She said she believed some trustees agreed with district resident Wendy Lack that contracts should be signed at public meetings. She suggested that the board sign the contracts when closed session is reported out.

Hansen said the board should probably discuss that. Mayo said she believed it should be done expediently, especially after criticism that contacts were not signed quickly after they were approved last year. She asked that the contacts be attached to the April 8 agenda for signature and Hansen agreed.

2. Rebecca Jensen: Spoke in support of the superintendent. “I see a good man accomplishing good things.” She said a question was raised at the last meeting: Is this a man we would want to hire for another year? She answered yes and said the decision to be made could have long-term implications for the district and the superintendent’s family.

3. Carmen Terrones: Referred to Mayo’s comments regarding signing the contracts. She said there should be no rush to sign the contracts and urged the board to take the time to make sure the right decision is being made. Said she is a union rep and she visits school sites often. “The morale in this dist is very sad. People are very frustrated.”

On the subject of adjournment: Mayo asked who would provide legal counsel to the board during the closed session. Hansen said Deb Cooksey would be on standby in her office. Mayo said she believed it was important to have legal advice and she did not support the use of advice from a third-party legal counsel that has not been approved by the board. Hansen said that would not be the case today.

4. District resident Kent Caldwell spoke in support of the superintendent. He said the superintendent has achieved many accomplishments. He said nothing the superintendent has done warrants early dismissal. He asked why anyone would want to work for a school board that makes negative comments about the superintendent publicly. “How many prospective candidates would be interested in serving in such a toxic environment?” He questioned whether it would be ethical to fire Dr. Lawrence. He said Dr. Lawrence has all the attributes that Hansen said in the CC Times that a superintendent should have. “If you fire Dr. Lawrence, are you building trust and morale within the district?” He said firing Dr. Lawrence would have consequences and that he would shift from a district advocate to an adversary and he would immediately withdraw from UMDAF. “An organization I helped create and served tirelessly for four years.” He said he and other Northgate HS parents would seriously question whether Northgate should remain in the school district if the board fires the superintendent. “As we know, there is another option out there for Northgate. I strongly urge you to not prematurely dismiss Dr. Lawrence as superintendent.”

Hansen announced that she expected to reconvene and report out at about 4:30 p.m.

During the closed session, Deb Cooksey walked back and forth between her office, Rolen’s office and the closed session.

At around 4:30 p.m., Hansen came out and said she expected the closed session might last until 5:30 p.m.

At around 5:25 p.m, Hansen came out and said she expected to report out in about 10 minutes. She asked Deb Cooksey to join trustees behind closed doors.

5:40 p.m. The superintendent’s wife is waiting to hear the report out, along with three union reps and me.

6:15 p.m. Still no sign of trustees.

6:30 p.m. Hansen announced the board took action on two employees, but she would not say what the action was. She told me afterwards that there were two separate votes and there will be another meeting April 2 and she will see if she can report anything else at that time.

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106 Responses to “Live blog of MDUSD 3-27-13 closed session regarding dismissal of two employees”

  1. Anon Says:

    G@92, the answer is #2. From what I have been told, the GC, with the approval of the Superintendent, was the force behind Browne being essentially “fired” and replaced by Mills. Since she had a year left in her contract, tracks had to be covered. We can only speculate as to why the GC had it out for Browne. This whole “scandal” seems to be just what Hansen spoke about at the 3/27 board meeting that she said she is tired of dealing with, and the reason she believed it is time for a new GC.

  2. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: Yes, it looks like it was not finalized until July, when Browne still had about a year left on her contract. The question is: why was Lawrence looking for a replacement for Browne when she still had a year left on her contract?

  3. g Says:

    Not finalized until July, but well underway prior to April when Lawrence ‘suggested’ to Browne that she should just ‘quit’ in June.

    Was it all Lawrence, or did the board majority prod him a bit? When Dennler and Hansen asked about the contracts—Mayo didn’t. There’s no question in my mind that at least three members had already come to a ‘consensus’ regarding Browne.

    A lot of stuff hit the fan in Fall/Winter of 2011 and early Spring 2012 that neither the board, Lawrence or Rolen liked taking the heat.

    Clayton Valley Charter—Did she not stand and fight shoulder to shoulder with Lawrence and 3 board members as they requested of staff?

    Busing hit an all-time low point, especially for displaced and special ed—Did she buck up against Rolen for his un-management of McDaniel and the whole dept?

    Even though we were not informed of it yet, the Equity team had been formulating how to deal with disproportionality for over a year already—Did he pass the buck to her for the Big Blow of the district being charged with slipping from Disproportionate to Significantly Disproportionate?

    And then, as I’ve speculated, perhaps she was in position to know the district was hoarding ‘reserve’ funds, so—Did she buck up against the idea of a FCMAT study that she knew was geared directly at cutting funds for ‘her’ program?

    Those are the major things that come to mind, but I’m sure there has been a lot of passing the buck—’cause It always rolls downhill.

  4. g Says:

    “Elected officials everywhere would do well to model themselves after [Jack] Weir: Tell the whole truth early and often. Shoulder all the blame but generously share the credit. Adopt a “give respect, get respect” approach both inside and outside the office.”

    Quote lifted from Lisa Vorderbrueggen, CCTimes 3/30—Thank you Lisa!

    I would add People on the Public Payroll to that noble idea.

  5. Doctor J Says:

    @G#104 I would second that. Also, although he is not one of me heroes, Willie Brown used to tell his fellow politicians: Get out in front of the story. He was not afraid to tell the public about his defects.

  6. Doctor J Says:

    A couple of new “action items” on tonights agenda in the open part of the meeting that I don’t remember seeing on Friday, but since its a special meeting, no Brown Act problem.

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