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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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