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Mt. Diablo school district’s top administrative leadership is in question

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, March 29th, 2013 at 2:50 pm in Contra Costa County Board of Education, Mt. Diablo school district.


The Mt. Diablo school board on March 25 approved amended contract extensions through June, 2014 for Superintendent Steven Lawrence, General Counsel Greg Rolen and three other top administrators. But, there is public speculation that a Wednesday closed session meeting to consider discipline, dismissal or release for two unnamed contract employees may be related to Lawrence and Rolen.

This is because the contract extensions approved two days earlier in split 3-2 votes were considered by a majority of the board to be legally required, since they reaffirmed extensions that had been approved by the previous board in April.

Those extensions, however, do not prevent the board from dismissing or releasing Lawrence and Rolen before their contracts expire with or without cause.

If they were terminated for cause, all compensation and benefits would cease on the termination date. If their contracts were terminated without cause, both would receive payments equal to one-half the value of their remaining compensation, not to exceed nine months.

The general counsel’s contract does not provide any option to appeal or respond, if the board decides to terminate him. But the superintendent’s contract says that the board shall not terminate the employment agreement for cause until it has notified him in writing of its intention to do so, including its reasons.

If this occurs, the superintendent would have five business days after receiving the written notice to request a conference with the board. If such a conference were requested, the superintendent would be given reasonable opportunity to respond to the written concerns, with a representative of his choice.

“The conference with the board shall be the superintendent’s exclusive right to any hearing otherwise required by law,” according to his contract.

After Wednesday’s closed session, Board President Cheryl Hansen announced that trustees took action on two contracted employees, but she declined to name the employees, state that nature of the action or reveal how individual trustees voted. Attorney Deb Cooksey said the actions taken were incomplete and “in process.”

Hansen told me after the announcement that trustees would hold another closed session Tuesday and may have more to report after that. But Vice President Barbara Oaks told me this afternoon that the April 2 meeting has been canceled and trustees may set a new date April 3.

A reader who wondered why the board wasn’t required to report out more about the Wednesday vote sent me the following information, which he found online related to the Brown Act:

“Action taken to appoint, employ, dismiss, accept the resignation of, or otherwise affect the employment status of a public employee in closed session pursuant to Section 54957 shall be reported at the public meeting during which the closed session is held. Any report required by this paragraph shall identify the title of the position. The general requirement of this paragraph notwithstanding, the report of a dismissal or of the nonrenewable of an employment contract shall be deferred until the first public meeting following the exhaustion of administrative remedies, if any.”

So, it’s possible the board may be waiting for additional administrative remedies to be exhausted before it reports out its actions.

The public will be able to comment before trustees go behind closed doors at their newly scheduled closed session. The agenda will be posted at

At Wednesday’s meeting, a union rep urged the board to take its time considering contracts for the district’s top administrators and two residents spoke in support of the superintendent.

Northgate High parent Kent Caldwell threatened to withdraw support for the United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation if the board fires the superintendent. Caldwell said he and other Northgate parents might also consider “other options” for the high-performing Walnut Creek campus if Lawrence is let go, in an apparent reference to a possible charter conversion.

Do you think the Mt. Diablo school board should seek new administrative leaders?

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363 Responses to “Mt. Diablo school district’s top administrative leadership is in question”

  1. MDUSD Parent Says:

    April 2 board hearing is not listed on the agenda as you state in your article.

  2. Theresa Harrington Says:

    You appear to be correct. Earlier in the day, there was a date and time and location listed, as well as a link. Now, those have been removed. I will try to find out if the meeting has been canceled.

  3. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Trustee Barbara Oaks just confirmed that the April 2 closed session was canceled. She said the board will try to set another date at its April 3 closed session.

  4. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Please note that I updated the above blog post to reflect the fact that the April 2 closed session was canceled.

  5. Anon Says:

    District needs to reinstate budget for athletics and stop UMDAF from using athletics as political pawn. UMDAF needs to stop taking political position. They are there to support student athletes not support district politics.

  6. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Caldwell did not appear to be speaking on behalf of UMDAF. He appeared to be speaking on behalf of himself. But, since he said he was a founding member of UMDAF, he appeared to believe that his threat to withdraw support from the group was significant. Further, he appeared to be using Northgate HS as a political pawn by indicating that many other Northgate parents shared his support of the superintendent and would question district leadership if Lawrence is fired.

  7. c.s. Says:

    District’s responsibility to look out for the Superintendents family? It is the responsibility of Steven Lawrence to do his job fully, capably, fairly, build rapport and a safe environment conducive to employee excellence. This District gave him a wonderful, lucrative opportunity so if the environment is “toxic” he can’t or won’t identify and resolve problems. If he is a victim, not a leader, what about our families?

  8. Deb Donovan Says:

    Yes, past time for the Superintendent and Counsel to go. It may be like a no fault divorce- the marriage just did not work- while not wanting to punish anyone- they are also not entitled to be supported by the taxpayer passed a reasonable transition period. Civilized and business like behavior expected.

  9. Doctor J Says:

    Investigation and prosecution of crimes by public employees should be a deterrant to violation of the public trust. I am not accusing anyone in particular, but it seems to me that I have seen very little of either.

  10. Theresa Harrington Says:

    We have seen a little of this in Hercules, Richmond and Walnut Creek. But, it requires the police, District Attorney’s office and judges not to dismiss allegations before they are fully investigated. Does the civil grand jury have the authority to suggest to police or the DA that they investigate allegations?
    Sometimes, whistle-blowers can go to the state to bypass county officials who may not be inclined to pursue allegations against people whom they consider to be colleagues.
    The FBI, IRS and other federal agencies may also be willing to investigate certain types of crimes.

  11. C.s. Says:

    Stop the Tax-Payer Sponsored Mutual Welfare Society
    Managers think they work for each other, to preserve each other’s jobs. They do not. They are supposed to work on behalf of the district, not the individual. Protecting poor managers goes against the district’s well-being. The Supe and counsel should have been weeding out poor managers, working on behalf of the district, not protecting the “bad” and attacking whistle-blowers. Reporting possible malfeasance is an act FOR the district. It may be only a handful, but they are the overpaid, overindulged few at the top. There are many fantastic managers but they are under very negative, inept leadership and afraid to speak up. There have to be people who are not afraid to do the right thing but I have not seen any in the last few years.

  12. Anon Says:

    Do you think they moved the meeting to Wednesday because that would be 5 business days? That is the time frame for Lawrence’s contract right?

  13. Theresa Harrington Says:

    cs: A government ethics expert to whom I spoke said that every public employee needs to realize that he or she works for the public and that he or she is individually responsible for protecting the public’s money and the public’s trust in the agency. Allegiance should not be to managers. It is supposed to be to the public. But, managers have a vested interest in not communicating this message to their subordinates. Therefore, it is critical that the board stress it to the district’s top leaders and insist that it permeate throughout the district. One thing that Alicia Minyen has suggested would help would be to reinstate the internal auditor position. The district needs someone watching what people are doing INSIDE the district. An external auditor only looks at a small percentage of what is actually going on. As g points out, why was there a $56,000 tax penalty and why did a law firm have to save the district from paying a $1.3 million penalty for failing to properly file credentialing forms? An internal auditor could hopefully help the district keep from getting into this kind of trouble.

    Anon: No, the Wednesday closed session is unrelated to the contract discussions. It is related to Dan Borenstein’s PRA response.

  14. Wendy Lack Says:

    @ TH #13:

    Minyen is correct about the need for an MDUSD internal auditor function. It’s shocking that a public agency that size has none.

    It’s no wonder that fiscal problems, conflicts-of-interest and the like are chronic.

    My guess is the public doesn’t know the half of it and, like an iceberg, there are many more problems beneath the surface.

    A new management team — with a change-agent Superintendent at the helm, charged with rooting out the problems and cleaning things up — cannot come fast enough.

  15. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Board President Cheryl Hansen left me a voicemail message stating that the April 2 closed session was canceled because she is working on getting another outside legal counsel to consult regarding the personnel issue. She said she hopes to hold the follow-up closed session sometime this week.

  16. g Says:

    Before we spring for an in-house auditor, we need to bite the big bullet and hire a fully independent outside forensic auditor. And I do not mean Christy White or any other firm that says, give me a multi year contract and I will settle for:
    “Just give me what you want me to see, and I’ll report on that.”

    I mean someone who can, and will, crack the computers and cross-check backup on Open-Order purchases and per-hour Service invoices.

  17. Wait a Minute Says:

    I agree G.

    I think a comprehensive fiscal and performance forensic audits of the legal department is the place to start.

  18. Jim Says:

    Historically, DAs, police and grand juries have been extremely reluctant to go after school district malfeasance anywhere. Those who are charged with protecting the public interest seem to forget that school districts can be enormous multi-million dollar enterprises that are sometimes the largest employer in the region. There are huge opportunities for graft, patronage and feather-bedding (besides run-of-the-mill incompetence). It generally takes something egregiously bad to overcome that reluctance. Too often, pursuing wrong-doing is seen as “hurting the kids”, even though nobody does more damage to students than out-of-control educrats. (And lets not forget how many politicians started their careers in the school district machine.)

    Regrettably, what we are seeing in MDUSD is not unheard of in many large districts. It would be nice if voters could enforce some kind of accountability, but time after time, that fails to happen. Most households do not have children in the local public schools, so voter participation is low, giving disproportionate influence to unions, contractors and other insiders.

    People keep thinking we can fix these outmoded monopolies, but that rarely happens. The people who could actually enforce genuine accountability are families who can CHOOSE to send their children elsewhere. There is no other mechanism that has worked consistently in large districts. We can keep hoping for a way to save these dinosaurs, but without choice, there is no accountability.

  19. Wendy Lack Says:

    @ Jim #18:

    You are correct.

    A competitive environment improves performance of all — yielding better value for every consumer.

    Choice is the best solution. It makes the entire marketplace self-correcting when consumers are empowered to vote with their feet.

  20. g Says:

    Whether MDUSD has 33,000 students or 13,000 it will still be here. It will simply be left with the families and students that don’t know enough to care or lead for change.

    When has turning your back on your problems or running away from the challenge to do better ever been the best course of action? Why would education be different?

    I agree with the concept of magnet schools, academy schools, specific courses of study schools powered from within the system, and with the occasional, and rare total withdrawal from the system by charter schools.

    But if the belief that government of any system can be cleaned up or made better by simply withdrawing from the system with a “that’ll show them who’s boss” attitude, what does that leave us with.

    We all know that once you chop up the cow to feed the few, there ain’t nobody going to get any milk!

  21. C.s. Says:

    Scared of Lawsuits? Buying out contracts is paying tax-payer blood money to a group that might have more problems from what would come out in court, not less. We should be asking for a salary rebate! A laptop goes missing and now there are I.D. thefts and personal information floating who-knows-where. Fear of bad managers’ empty threats overrides empathy for the thousands of employees, and students who are victimized or a sense of duty to the taxpayer?

  22. C.s. Says:

    “Iceberg” is a great description. There is only one thing you can get in trouble for at the district: bringing suspected malfeasance or suspected theft to management. Reporting wrong-doing is ALWAYS punished. Expect retaliation. No “investigation” will conclude anything other than get rid of the whistle-blower. Give us the name and number of an auditor at the STATE or FEDERAL level who will actually follow up and not just hand it back to this core problem group to “investigate” and absolve each other. It has become a big dysfunctional secretive mess with young inexperienced auditors doing only cursory checking.

  23. Doctor J Says:

    No one has ever verified that Gary Eberhart and Sherry Whitmarsh returned their district laptops when their terms expired. That would be a good place to start with accountability.

  24. I.B. Says:

    It’s the management, stupid. 😉
    Jim is spot-on but this is not run-of-the-mill or simply incompetence! There is no outlet for the employees who DO NOT TRUST THE MANAGEMENT, PERSONNEL, OR COUNSEL. There were some excellent people in Fiscal but they left and you get attitude now. FIX THE PROBLEM. Personnel should be the first sweep because they hire these inept managers and refuse to correct their mistakes. You are correct, local law enforcement does not want to address this either, prompting employees to go elsewhere out of frustration and not wanting to be guilty of failing to report an inconsistency. No trust in our management, the district attorney, or local law enforcement, so where do we go? It is always the same question: why isn’t your management addressing this? Why, indeed

  25. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Perhaps the board should hire an impartial ombudsman to investigate both internal and external complaints against the district. I have also heard that employees who have complained to managers have gotten nowhere. Jessica Preciado was a good example. But, many are afraid to speak up. Four trustees have acknowledged that they are aware of this problem, which they discussed at the board retreat. However, I don’t believe that I have ever heard Trustee Linda Mayo say anything about possible morale problems in the district.

  26. Anon Says:

    Theresa at 15 & 25: on the same note of using external resources, any idea why Hansen is bringing in an outside attorney for the next board meeting to follow up on 3/27, whereas she used in-house counsel last time? Its all very curious.

  27. Theresa Harrington Says:

    That’s a good question. I haven’t spoken to her today, but will find out if she’s willing to tell me that.

  28. g Says:

    I’ll just speculate–no one in house can be trusted as being fully impartial.

  29. Doctor J Says:

    @#26 In house assistant counsel is not loyal to the Board — she reports to Rolen and to the Supt. I am speculating, but I am sure there is concern that the Board’s conversations may be shared with those who are on the hot seats — and she had a history in Oakland that was not pretty. And don’t forget about her fiasco with the Board by-laws and Roberts Rules of Order, claiming she was the Parlimentarian, when the By-laws provide otherwise. She was pretty unprepared. Oh, and lets add in the late submission of the AB 1575 policy. So I suspect that even if I was wrong about the above, the Board majority wants someone that is totally impartial. But I don’t see her with a long tenure in MDUSD.

  30. Theresa Harrington Says:

    There also appears to be a significant difference between what Cooksey told Mildred Browne in her emails about her board briefings regarding the district’s agreements with Browne and what Hansen says she was told about the agreements.

  31. Doctor J Says:

    @#23 Commenting on my own post, if Bryan Richards can’t verify when Gary and Sherry returned their computers [add Mildred to that too] then his compentence as a Department manager should be seriously questioned as to the policies and proceedures of managing the resources of technology and MDUSD property. Of course, his leaving his laptop out on a Friday night, is clearly indicative of his failure to follow simple protocols, costing the district over $100,000 with zero consequences to him. Where is the accountability ? That is money that is coming out of the classrooms. Why isn’t Lynne Dennler hammering on that, if she is so “teacher oriented” ?

  32. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#30 Remember that there were multiple issues in Oakland USD with who was telling the truth, which is why Deb Cooksey found her way to MDUSD. Just saying. Perhaps its time to link those Times articles.

  33. Theresa Harrington Says:

    As previously mentioned, Eberhart and Whitmarsh also were not asked to file “exit” Form 700s until I pointed out that they were missing from the 2012-13 file. Since Browne is technically still a district employee, she may still be using her laptop. Cooksey said the board hasn’t yet ratified the settlement agreement with Browne “because it hasn’t been fulfilled.”

  34. Doctor J Says:

    Why the fiscal dept under Bryan Richards manages the Form 700’s and not the Personnel Dept under Julie B-M is still a mystery to me. Maybe Steven Lawrence can explain why he has allowed that to happen, if he has an explanation.

  35. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, did I miss a copy of the posting of the Mildred Browne settlement agreement that apparently has been discussed by the board but not ratified ? I think the public has a right to know what the secret deal is.

  36. g Says:

    Typical. Fulfill Before Ratification! Staff has for far too long gotten by with bringing all sorts of privately negotiated contracts (legal, construction, hiring) for “ratification” months after those contractors were hired and already doing work (or maybe not).

    As I’ve said too many times before. What can they do–not ratify–not pay?

  37. Doctor J Says:

    Its just like the announcement the other afternoon “we have taken action ‘against’ two employees” but we don’t know who they are or what the action is, although some of Steven Lawrence’s friends stood up in his support during public comment “against his premature dismissal” so that was a pretty good clue what was going on, along with his wife fretting the announcment. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist. When will it be made public ?

  38. g Says:

    Last summer, teacher Craig Blyeth sued the district–and left. The case has been reported out as being under discussion at least on one closed session.

    Typical civil court processes; except I’ve been speculating that it must be pretty ugly, since it has been set for a jury trial in 2014 even though there has been some arbitration going on.

    What’s happening now? My speculation of ugly must have some merit. It is at least ugly enough to have been put under a fairly rare Court Protective Order –meaning a PRA would, at best, get you the name of the party and too much redaction to make sense of anything else.

    We may never hear what that one is all about or what it is costing!

  39. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: I have not had time to scan the agreements, because I’m working on other stories. Speaking of which, Cooksey’s involvement in the new AIS contract is also a bit questionable.
    As you probably recall, Rolen announced that he was putting up an “ethical wall” between “my office” and the contractor. Since Cooksey works in his office, I assumed she was behind the ethical wall.
    But, Bryan Richards informed me that Cooksey was part of the staff team working on the new contract, writing in an email: “The team working on finalizing contract documents at the new rates for AIS and CTI consists of myself, Ms. Duarte-Armas, and Ms. Cooksey.”
    When I questioned why Cooksey was involved in negotiating the new contract, she emailed this response:
    “Please note that I was not on the District team of individuals reviewed the public bids relative to the translation. I was present at the Board meeting in Mr. Rolen’s stead as counsel when the Board directed staff to ensure that if AIS was going to be included as a translation service provider, it must agree to meet the price that the other successful bidders were charging. The Superintendent asked that I follow up on the Board’s directive. In a brief meeting with Ms. Rolen the week after the Board meeting, I informed her that she would not be allowed to provide translation services unless she matched CTI’s price. Ms. Rolen informed me that she would match the price. My discussion with Ms. Rolen was not a negotiation but rather a definitive statement of what the Board required if she was going to provide translation services. I informed Dr. Lawrence of my conversation with Ms. Rolen and he directed me to pass the information along to Mr. Richards, which I did. My involvement was limited to issuing a directive to carry out a Board action, not negotiating with Ms. Rolen.”
    Yet, Richards wrote in his email:
    “…there has not been an amendment to the previously existing contract since the Board approved the new rate structure at the November 5, 2012, board meeting. Before any amendments to the existing contract are taken to the board, or any new contracts are awarded, the vendor must agree to the Board’s newly approved rate structure.”
    Based on Richards’ email, it sounds like the district is still negotiating the rate. But, based on Cooksey’s email, it sounds like Padilla-Rolen accepted the terms Cooksey laid out.

  40. Wendy Lack Says:

    @ DJ #31:

    Speaking of the laptop theft, is anyone besides me wondering whether the theft was a set-up, staged for the purpose of covering up an existing District identify theft problem caused by lax security practices?

    A “theft” would offer the District cover for a potential pre-existing internal security problems. Such identity theft rings have operated in school district offices elsewhere in California (including Oakland Unified).

    At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist (which I’m not), this notion only comes to mind following the many reports of fouled up operations and security in Finance, particularly payroll. A “theft” would provide an explanation for all of the incidence of identify theft reported by employees, without implicating day-to-day District operational lapses.

    Most likely, we’ll never know.

    However, if identify theft was widespread among District employees prior to the laptop theft, then it would offer evidence of possible data breach that pre-dated the “theft” which would be appropriate for investigation by law enforcement.

  41. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Left Hand (Cooksey): what are are doing?

    Right Hand (Richards): what are you doing?

  42. g Says:

    Wendy Lack; There certainly has been exactly such speculation. Doesn’t it seem strange that 1) the only thing reported as stolen was also the (supposedly) only computer left out and it just happened to hold the employee information. 2) the thief was happy to go to all the trouble of breaking in (coincidentally) at only that particular office??? 3) it was reported that bricks were used to break the window—a thief brought their own bricks??? 4) a thief carried their own bricks and quit after stealing only one computer???

    Surely there is a police report that would at the very least indicate if there were “other” bricks just lying around near the offices just begging to be used to break a window.

  43. Doctor J Says:

    @Wendy#40 Why hasn’t the video of the theft been made public ? I think the district knows who it is. Banks routinely make public the video to enlist the help of the public in identifying the perps.

  44. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#39 I quoted the “co-habiting” rules the other day — Greg Rolen refused to disclose his involvement prior to the marriage and so did Steven Lawrence. They all knew. Has Marisol Padilla any contracts for translation services with any other school district other than MDUSD ? The proof is in the pudding.

  45. g Says:

    Marisol Padilla worked at CTI right up until the district had “some mysterious problem” with CTI services after many years of outstanding service. At that same time Padilla formed her own Translation company, and miraculously got her business license at exactly the time the district needed to renew contracts or find a new Translation service. And all the above coincides exactly with Rolen divorce proceedings.

    I’m amazed CTI hasn’t sued her, him and the district.

  46. Doctor J Says:

    @G#45 Maybe there was a secret settlement. I still wonder if there wasn’t a secret settlement with Dr. Nugent.

  47. Wendy Lack Says:

    FYI: Here’s a link to today’s USA Today story on the long-term success of charter schools:


    “A rigorous new study of KIPP, the nation’s best known and most scrutinized charter network, blew away criticism that has fueled the charter fight. Critics have long contended that KIPP’s success with minority and low-income children is less about its methods than about skimming the best students with the most motivated parents. Not so, the five-year study of 43 KIPP middle schools concluded.”

  48. Doctor J Says:

    When we see the STAR scores for 2013 for CVCHS and compare with the other schools, it will be like Muitiny on the Bounty in MDUSD. Remember because of the “assessments” [testing] the district already has an idea of how they will come out — I am told its going to be ugly. Unfortunate for the students. I wonder when we are going to get a report on the $20,000 Whittier party.

  49. Doctor J Says:

    As I listened to Northgate High parent Kent Caldwell threaten to withdraw support for the United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation, I just thought how immature to take your marbles and go home, punishing the MDUSD children.

  50. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In looking at Mildred Browne’s first settlement agreement, I see that the claim settlement of $47,779 was to be paid around Jan. 31, 2014. So, that’s where I had seen the 2014 date.

  51. Anon Says:

    Dr. J #49: did you notice Caldwell said “its not like Dr. Lawrence had an affair at the District office or anything?” That was an odd comment; no one ever accused him of doing that. The other speaker said, I can’t speak as strongly for Mr. Rolen.” Was Lawrence trying to distance himself from Rolen?

  52. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#51 I noticed, and as far as I am aware there has never been any suggestion of infidelity by Steven Lawrence — she is a gem. However, Steven’s association with GR has been a poor choice.

  53. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#50 I hope you will find the time to post the Browne settlement agreeement. It needs to be publicly vetted.

  54. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: I am writing a story about it today for publication tomorrow.
    In a June 18 email to Cooksey, Browne wrote: “I continue to be truly baffled at finding myself in this predicament where the board is ‘pushing me’ from my position after 13 years of exemplary service to the district and it’s (sic) students.”

  55. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#54 Amazing that Mildred refers to “the board” ousting her when there was never an agenda item about it. She should have gone public much sooner. Who does an assistant superintendent owe her loyalty to ? The Board ? The Superintendent ? The children ? Who ?

  56. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The settlement agreement includes a nondisparagement clause.

  57. Doctor J Says:

    She must have been desperate for the $47,000.

  58. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It increased to $78,779 in December.

  59. Doctor J Says:

    Can’t wait for the full story.

  60. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#58 Did it increase because Sherry Whitmarsh was defeated and there was fear of the disclosure of the details of the termination ?

  61. g Says:

    Fascinated by Mildred Browne’s letter to Lawrence (posted on the other thread) where she indicated that bloggers had brought race into her issues, I have spent hours digging and reading, and have found absolutely none in Theresa’s coverage or our comments.

    However, in June ’11 when she was being awarded Admin of the Year (not by this district, but rather by ACSA) and it was coming on the same night as major cuts to the SEAs, I did find a couple such remarks on Claycord. They appear to come from some who would have not only insight, but perhaps inside information.

    The one I found most interesting from a person using the name MDUSD Teacher stated in part: “…Mildred Browne, who was to be fired by the Board a few years ago until she trotted the NAACP into a board meeting to scream racism, and who seems to hire only “her own” to admin positions, is being “honored.””

    That kind of inside information sounds like ‘pillow talk’ with a board member or legal counsel doesn’t it?

  62. Doctor J Says:

    @G#61, I agree with you — that is a bogus issue. Remember that Linda Mayo was the champion of Mildred’s ACSA statewide nomination and award. I don’t understand why Linda did not stand up for Mildred. I do agree that it was very ironic that Mildred was being named as statewide Special Ed Administrator of the year at the same time that MDUSD was being designated as disproportionate. She did take a lot of heat on the blogs but it has nothing to do with her heritage.

  63. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J, the claim appears to have increased because an original plan to give her $31,000 in consulting work did not work out, due to a change in STRS law. So, she increased her claim by roughly the same amount and the superintendent agreed to it, with no new closed session or new board direction.

  64. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#63 We don’t have any indication of what the “board direction” was since it was not noticed and discussed or announced in open session.

  65. g Says:

    Theresa, I’m hoping your story will answer the question of whether or not it was, in fact, Mildred who initially asked for a Leave—prior to 4/23/12. We don’t need to know what her personal need may have been (if she even had such a need), but I really suspect the “Mildred Browne requested a leave” is a ruse, invented after at least 3 board members agreed to not offer her a contract renewal.

    I could find nothing in Board Policy that would have allowed a full year of Paid Leave. Sabbatical doesn’t do it; Family Leave doesn’t do it. The only thing that ‘does it’ is buy-out/pay-off.

  66. g Says:

    Dr.J @62–But do we know what that comment referred to. Did the old board and/or Rolen actually threaten to fire her a few years ago–and did SHE bring race into the fight to save her job at that time? I don’t know. I assume that would have also been a closed session issue that never made it out to the public.

  67. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: No, it was discussed under “anticipated litigation” on June 25. Whitmarsh and Cooksey say the board gave the superintendent direction to enter into the written agreement, but Hansen said she doesn’t remember the board giving any such direction and had no knowledge of any written agreements until she learned about them from me. Whitmarsh said she didn’t report out any action because the board never reported out any action under “anticipated litigation” while she was on the board.
    g: No, as Browne wrote in her June 11 letter to the superintendent, he suggested in April that she leave at the end of the school year and she refused. Apparently, they met June 12 to discuss his “agenda,” according to a note at the end of her letter. By June 18, she had drafted a list of settlement demands that included a one-year paid leave of absence.
    Regarding race, I believe that came up when Browne’s position was on a cut list submitted by Whitmarsh and Eberhart, which included some employees who were African-American. After the NAACP complained, Browne’s position was removed from the potential cut list.
    Regarding the statement about her employment status, there were several emails between district administrators and Browne in response to my request for information, when I saw that the board intended to hire an interim to replace her.
    Cooksey wrote to the superintendent, Julie Braun-Martin, Greg Rolen, Bryan Richards and Rose Lock in an email:
    “All, below is the statement that I suggest Julie make to Teresa (sic) Harrington relative to inquiries about Mildred’s status. I have confirmed with Mildred that the statement is acceptable to her. I am copying all council members in the event you are approached by Theresa. However, I suggest that Julie be the only district employee providing information to Theresa on this:

    The district has granted Dr. Browne’s request for an extended leave of absence to address some personal concerns. Notwithstanding her need for a leave, Dr. Browne has continued to work in her role as Assistant Superintendent until the Interim Assistant Superintendent is approved and reports for duty. Dr. Browne will remain available to the district to ensure a smooth transition of the Interim Assistant Superintendent. As her leave is a personnel matter, the district will have no further comment on it.”

    In Browne’s June 18 email list of settlement demands, she wrote:
    “The message to the public is that I have decided to retire. I am excited about the opportunity to work at Holy Names University in the Graduate School for Education, consult with district’s (sic) and agencies on developing mental health programs and spend more time with my grandchildren.”

  68. g Says:

    But she had been teaching at Holy Names since at least Fall 2011. Did the board find out about the ‘moonlighting–or Weekly absence day’ and that is why they decided to not renew her? That still would not explain full pay + + .

  69. Star Says:

    I work in Fiscal feel I was dragged into something I am not comfortable with. This manager gets everybody worked up but keeps her hands clean. Also, there was another “inconsistancy” issued by Mr. Richards. Is there anyone who will question these employees? Even if caught red-handed, absoluteley nothing will happen.District managers how no behavior or performance standards and many times act like children. We have two payroll managers for 6 people and any other information is a lie. I am now hearing of another case, going on for years where an employee is considering a restraining order. If the courts are our personnel department, why keep the middle man? You can bet I will be looking for the district to pay my personal defense bills from their manager fighting with employees, other managers, and whole departments. I feel used. I am more than ready to speak to a trustworthy state or law enforcement representative. Give us a name and a number.

  70. Worried parent Says:

    I have child in special education and I have talked to Dr. Brown a few times. Last year I had a problem with my child’s IEP team and called her for help. I don’t remember her exact words, but she basically said she was being forced to quit and could not help me. I called the Cal. Dept. of Education and talked to a consultant, and that person asked if I had talked to Dr. Brown. I repeated Dr. Brown’s comment, and the consultant said yes, and that Dr. Brown had told the consultant she had been stripped of her role at Mt. Diablo. So, I think she was definitely fired or forced out or whatever, and the district just wanted to cover it up.

  71. Doctor J Says:

    Secrecy breeds corruption. Everyone of them ought to be fired.

  72. g Says:

    What this district has spent – what this current district administration has cost us – – in cover-ups, attempted cover-ups, improper, if not downright illegal, contracting procedures in both construction and educational outside services, faulty litigation, favoritism and pay for play in hiring and promoting, fiscal negligence, week-kneed negotiations, nearly non-existant legal handling of proper policy and oversight…not to mention getting caught stepping on their own lying tongues at every turn…!

    Mind boggling!

    The true, total cost–will last for a very very long time

  73. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Theresa’s last paragraph:
    Northgate High parent Kent Caldwell threatened to withdraw support for the United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation if the board fires the superintendent. Caldwell said he and other Northgate parents might also consider “other options” for the high-performing Walnut Creek campus if Lawrence is let go, in an apparent reference to a possible charter conversion.
    What a shame this one parent / community member would threaten to stop supporting student sports in the district if the supt is let go. Would he do the same if the supt found another district to work for and left the district before his contract was up? Incredibly nearsighted thought process of this parent.

    If this is a reference to possible charter conversion, where are all the outraged Northgate parents and MDUSD staff crying foul, and claiming how going charter would hurt all the other students and schools in the district like the Northgate Principal did so many times when CVHS pulled the trigger?

    This one Northgate parent might consider “other options” if Lawrence is fired – would they hire Lawrence to run a Northgate charter high school? Wouldn’t that be ironic.

  74. Doctor J Says:

    @HFO#71 Perfect — hire Steven Lawrence to run the Northgate Charter High School. That puts it in perspective.

  75. Theresa Harrington Says:

    G: None of the documents I received explain WHY the district made this decision. Even more concerning is the fact that some board members don’t even seem to know. Hansen and Oaks both told me they were unaware of the written settlement agreements until I told them about them, even though Cooksey supposedly “updated” the board about Browne’s status on Jan. 25. But Oaks said that even after this update, she really had no idea what had happened to Browne. Now, Oaks said she is starting to realize that she needs to ask more questions, because if she doesn’t, she will just be told something quickly before staff moves on to another topic. On a side note, Oaks said she met with Rolen for the first time last week and that she told him that she often finds out what’s going on in the district by reading the newspaper!
    I also spoke to former Board President Sherry Whitmarsh yesterday. She denied that Browne’s allegations that the decision was political or racially motivated on her part. She also mentioned that she had read the blog comments questioning whether she had returned the district’s laptop and said it never left the district. On a side note, Whitmarsh said she has been keeping busy since leaving office volunteering at both YVHS and Cambridge Elementary. Eberhart and Mayo did not return my calls.
    Dennler sent an email saying she couldn’t reveal details discussed in closed session, but that Browne’s departure didn’t necessarily mean her job performance did not meet expectations. She also wrote that if everyone in your office received a contract extension but you, you might feel the same way.

  76. Wendy Lack Says:

    As I mentioned on another thread, I remain puzzled why all of the District’s top administrators work on contract.

    When I worked in city government, the CEO (City Manager) and the City Attorney had contracts and reported directly to the governing board. But other key roles (i.e., all HR staff, all legal staff, all department heads) were “at will” and could be terminated at any time “for any reason or no reason” because we worked at the pleasure of the City Manager.

    From a management perspective, this is the only arrangement that provides a CEO the necessary degrees of freedom to do his/her job. If it’s good for city government, why isn’t it good for school districts?

    Use of employment contracts for these roles, as MDUSD does, baffles me: Why would you want to tie the hands of the CEO in this way? The chief executive should have the ability to replace any of his/her key department heads at any time.

    Once a new Superintendent is hired by the district, I’d recommend replacing all of the administrative heads (HR, Finance, IT) with managers from the private sector — they’re accustomed to working on an “at will” basis and would bring a fresh perspective. It’s plainly evident that the current administrators in the HR, Finance and IT roles are not suitable.

    MDUSD needs an organizational culture that fosters performance excellence, personal accountability and ethical conduct. A new CEO should have Board support to restructure, as described, to give him/her the flexibility necessary to make this cultural shift.

  77. Help the Good Guys Says:

    We have a Titanic / Deckchair Situation:
    Dr. J is 100% correct. All of these people have to go. They cannot be trained or rehabilitated or excused away. Only a small portion can be attributed to ignorance. The other actions show their true character and abuses of position. You will not have a different school district with the same people. PhD’s making $200m or more who don’t know what to do can find another district to bankrupt of money, morals, educational focus. Remember our ABK’s : Anything But the Kids. BIG ADMIN with a little school attached.

  78. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It is interesting to note that even Browne did not appear to trust the other members of the superintendent’s council with her secret agreement. In an email to Cooksey, she specifically asked that Rolen not be privy to it. And Cooksey wrote that she would discuss either the agreement or some consulting work (it was unclear) with the board outside of the hearing of the rest of the council.

  79. Anon Says:

    TH-Did your article get published? I can’t find it online.

  80. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No, sorry, it was held for tomorrow, but should be online later today. I will link to it and do a separate blog post about it to fill in details that may not fit into the story, after my editor has reviewed it.

  81. Theresa Harrington Says:

    As a reminder, the board is holding a closed session meeting today at 1 pm to discuss Dan Borenstein’s PRA related to the contract extensions. Also during the meeting, trustees expect to reschedule the closed session that was canceled yesterday, to continue the personnel-related discussions addressed March 27 regarding two contract employees. Hansen told me yesterday that she was trying to line up an outside attorney to consult with during the next closed session, but she hoped to be able to announce a new date for a closed session to be held within the next week.

  82. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In other news, MDUSD got a D+ on the latest Ed Trust-West report card related to how well it is educating students of color and low-income students:

    Regional map shows that MDUSD tied with Antioch overall, behind SRVUSD and Antioch:
    Only WCCUSD scored lower in Contra Costa County.

  83. g Says:

    Well! Maybe we need to thank EberLawrence for firing Mildred Browne! Who among us could have known that she was the whole reason the district had been sitting on “D” for so long–BUT that the performance of children of color would remain constant–with or without her influence or the millions being poured into outside advice on ‘Equity’.

    I’m reminded of Mary Montle Bacon’$ statement that she wanted to concentrate the efforts (spelled con$ulting fund$) on children of color, and not dilute their effort$ by considering DELAC’s requests for more attention.

    It looks like DELAC has been working hard and fine, but our $$ hasn’t.

  84. Theresa Harrington Says:

    One of the duties that Browne was supposed to continue working on during her leave was disproportionality. However, I didn’t see her at the two Equity Advisory Team meetings I attended. I also haven’t seen her at any CAC meetings in months.

  85. Doctor J Says:

    Are you going to live blog the closed session today ?

  86. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No, I’m not going to attend because I’m writing about the EdTrust report cards. Hopefully, Joe Estrada will record the open portions of the meeting. Dan B. does not plan to attend either, since he expects to get the docs soon afterward.

  87. g Says:

    Theresa; It’s pretty hard to read (not very coherent) but I refer you back to comments #69. That may be a story in its own right.

    AND #70. From Brown’s emails that you’ve quoted, it certainly sounds like even though there is a ‘non-disparagement’ clause in the settlement, Browne must have gone to more than one State level department on a Browne ‘publicity’ campaign. AND, there are a hell of a lot of loose lips at the State level of several departments.

  88. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#86 I am somewhat surprised Dan B will not be there. It will be interesting to hear what the Board action will be and if any privileges will be waived by the Board.

  89. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I agree about #69. If that person is willing to speak to me on the record, then I’m certainly willing to write about his or her concerns. But, as four trustees have noted, there is a fear of speaking up that exists in the district, due to worries about possible retaliation.

    Also, while some people at the state level may be considered to have “loose lips,” that often changes when you ask them to go “on the record.” Many of them prefer to stay under the radar.

  90. anon 4 Says:

    It exists even at school sites. To voice discontent or a contrary observation is an almost certain call to the office to talk with the principal and vice principal. To go on the record with a reporter would be like the kiss of death. Probationary teachers especially feel the heat if they get involved in MDEA activities.

  91. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon4: Yes, I can confirm that probationary teachers will not go on the record. However, I do appreciate their willingness to tell me about their concerns off the record.
    One of the saddest instances of this was at Woodside Elementary last year. After a student died in a tragic accident, teachers who said they would love to tell me about the little girl and the contributions her family made to the school said they feared their principal did not want them to talk to the press. Luckily, I was able to speak to a parent who knew the family and was able to speak about his daughter’s friendship with the little girl, before the principal told me to leave.

  92. g Says:

    Can “on the record” also be “anonymous”? While that person says they are ready to go law enforcement, that may have been said in haste and heat of the moment.

    We know in this district just how hard it is to get any legal help without standing 100% on your own and paying for legal help out of pocket for it–unless you’re management, and the mere ‘mention’ of racism doesn’t hurt!

    Very specific Measure C pleas to the Grand Jury merely got them to pull the district into a group hug. The DA has internal staff issues of his own–and will not expend efforts or funds to dig out the dirt at his own school district. The state? Well, they practically are the district!

  93. Theresa Harrington Says:

    If a person goes “on the record” anonymously, it might be possible for people who work in the district to discern who they are based on the facts they reveal. So, it’s tricky. In Richmond, a whistle-blower filed a written complaint with the DA and gave a copy of it to the press. This sparked an internal investigation.
    I don’t want to “out” someone who isn’t ready to be “outed.” But, I am always willing to listen to what they have to say and keep quiet until they’re ready to go public. Also, they would have to understand that I need to get both sides of the story. So, anyone who is accused of malfeasance would have the opportunity to respond to such allegations.

  94. Anon Says:

    Shouldn’t Greg Rolen have a wall up between him and Ms. Browne? He has 2 kids and a now step child in a non public placement for special Ed. So would that not be a conflict if Ms. Browne ran the department and if he didn’t agree with her he could make her life hell? I could be wrong here but it seems that he should not be involved at all and Ms. Browne should not have to ask for him to be out of it…….more murky waters I think.

  95. Doctor J Says:

    I would expect the Board is getting top quality legal advice on the PRA today: “Thomas M. Griffin has been the General Counsel to the State Department and State Board of Education, school districts and county offices of education since 1972.”

  96. g Says:

    😉 and he’s done it all without a single drop of publicity–ever!

  97. Anonymous Says:

    Anon at #94:that’s a good point, there should have been a removal of Rolen from the process of some kind, FWIW, I heard one of his kids is at another school district now…

  98. Doctor J Says:

    I would expect the Board to reach some decisions soon. I would imagine there would only be a handful of controversial documents.

  99. Anon Says:

    Most of them have already been shredded.

  100. g Says:

    Hope they checked the room for ‘bugs’.

  101. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Closed session is still in session.

  102. Jim Says:

    @94 Anon — Three children from one household in non-public placement? I did not know that. I suppose it’s possible, but statistically speaking, that is quite an anomaly.

  103. Doctor J Says:

    @Jim#102 The Rolens had two [children of two lawyers] and the new Mrs. Padilla-Rolen had one.

  104. Anon Says:

    Dr J at #103: Didn’t you post months ago that Rolen’s former wife filed a motion to change school districts? Any idea why she did that?

  105. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#101 I wonder what the delay is. 3 1/2 hours is a long time.

  106. Doctor J Says:

    @#104 Yes, you can go to the CoCo County Superior Court website and view the title of the documents — looks like it was a knock down drag out custody and support battle. I always thought it would be interesting to compare Rolen’s Form 700’s with not only his Financial declarations, but also with the responses from his ex wife.

  107. g Says:

    I suspect, in typical Rolen fashion, that while the board asked for copies of ‘the items being withheld as privileged’ so they could go through just those, they have instead received a boat-load of everything he could find to load them down and make the job as difficult as possible. He as much as said that was his plan at the last meeting.

    It’s kind of like Hansen asking for better back-up on staff reports or requests for approval, so Peder/Lawrence posts the 800 page versions.

    “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.” ― W.C. Fields

  108. Doctor J Says:

    Rolen said there were less than one hundred documents — I would have expected those to have been taken to the new lawyer and reviewed prior to the meeting. But maybe not. Great quote. Audio just posted.

  109. g Says:

    Audio is up–maybe we’ll get to the business of education during the 13-14 school year.

  110. Doctor J Says:

    Very short audio — No public speakers, but noted some public was present Reported out at 3:10. Said they reviewed document and make some unspecified decisions. Also Cheryl Hansen said that the attorney advised them to do one more “due diligence search” to make sure they had all the documents. [I read between the lines for that to mean there was some question about the thoroughness of the search as we have discussed on this blog — especially since we now know Sherry Whitmarsh’s district computer remained at the district.] No word whether they would reconvene at a later date to review any further documents.

  111. Anon Says:

    So what happens to the supposedly TBC 3/27 board meeting? The next meeting is 4/8. It looks like whatever the board did, its not going to be reported out, and its done.

  112. g Says:

    Wrong interpretation. 4/8 is in 5 days, and nothing on 3/27 indicated the issue would be settled before then–or even by then.

    A lot probably is dependent on resolution of Email-gate. If they noted some one-way conversations with responses not found, that would equal ‘needing more due diligence’.

  113. Anon Says:

    G @112: Theresa posted @3: Trustee Barbara Oaks just confirmed that the April 2 closed session was canceled. She said the board will try to set another date at its April 3 closed session.

    Theresa posteed again @ 15: Board President Cheryl Hansen left me a voicemail message stating that the April 2 closed session was canceled because she is working on getting another outside legal counsel to consult regarding the personnel issue. She said she hopes to hold the follow-up closed session sometime this week.

    So, even though Oaks said they would try to set another special board meeting today, it did not happen, and since the agenda has to go out 72 hours in advance, nothing is going to happen this week as Oaks and Hansen indicated.

  114. g Says:

    “…try to….” “…because….” “…hopes to….”

  115. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I spoke to Hansen after today’s closed session and she said the board plans to set a new date for the second closed session on Monday. Apparently, they first have to agree on retaining an outside counsel, which they hope to do Monday, she said.

    Regarding the due diligence, I have also been surprised by the haphazard way the district appears to collect documents in response to PRAs. As previously mentioned, Rolen said he asked district administrators and trustees for emails, but he didn’t mention anything about asking the superintendent’s secretary or his own secretaries. Since the superintendent’s secretary told me that she sent the drafts to Rolen and was waiting for direction back from him, it seems like it would be a really good idea to ask for her emails.

    Also, in response to my FCMAT/CCOE/CVCHS PRA, Hansen said she was never asked to provide anything. But, when I asked Neil McChesney if he ever received any response to the email he sent to the board with the COE analysis, he said the only trustee who responded was Hansen. That email should have been provided to me.

  116. Wendy Lack Says:

    My sense is this is a process that will take some time.

    I don’t think it’s fruitful to try to read too many things into responses of Trustees.

    Their mettle is being tested. In particular the new Trustees, Oaks and Lawrence, were still getting up to speed in their Board roles when they were thrust into this awkward and difficult situation. It’s a lot to take in.

    In this volatile setting, it’s likely best for Trustees to take their time and proceed cautiously.

    All will become known, in time.

  117. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s my story about the EdTrust-West Report Cards:

    The good news for MDUSD is that it went up from a D to a D+. WCCUSD, on the other hand, was the only Contra Costa County that scored lower in 2012 than in 2011, dropping from a D to a D-. San Ramon Valley was the shining star in the Bay Area, with an overall grade of B- and the highest graduation rate among students of color in all of the largest unified districts in the state.

  118. Anon Says:

    Wendy @ 116, I agree it is a process that will take time, and wonder whether Hansen can get agreement to bring in outside counsel after Mayo’s strong opposition to it at the beginning of the March 27th meeting.

  119. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Cooksey could be feeling a little heat now that Hansen and Oaks know that she and the superintendent never informed them about the two written agreements that the superintendent entered into with Mildred Browne. Also, it’s clear that the direction/authorization that Cooksey and Whitmarsh say the board gave the superintendent in June to enter into those agreements was never reported out. So now, it’s Hansens’ word against Cooksey and Whitmarsh’s, unless Dennler, Mayo or Eberhart decide to weigh in on whether they recall giving that direction to the superintendent.
    Since Whitmarsh claimed the board never reported out action related to “anticipated litigation” while she was president, this calls into question what other board actions or directions the superintendent may be assuming he has been given, with no public disclosure. Who told Whitmarsh that she didn’t need to report those actions or board directions out?

  120. g Says:

    Well Cooksey should certainly be getting some heat for concocting a false report to feed to the press to cover the whole conspiracy:

    “All, below is the [LIE] that I suggest Julie make to Teresa (sic) Harrington relative to inquiries about Mildred’s status. I have confirmed with Mildred that the statement is acceptable to her. I am copying all council members in the event you are approached by Theresa. However, I suggest that Julie be the only district employee providing information to Theresa on this:

    The district has granted Dr. Browne’s request for an extended leave of absence to address some personal concerns….”

    “Cooksey wrote [to Browne] that she would discuss EITHER the agreement OR SOME consulting work (it was unclear) with the board outside of the hearing of the rest of the council.”

    In other words, Cooksey feels free to spin the tale, and LIE to suit the occasion, as long as it meets with Browne’s approval.

    AND she thinks it’s perfectly OK to LIE to her employer, the “entire board”, and then spoon feed the fairy tale to the incoming board.

  121. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, since you have a copy of Mildred Browne’s original contract, I think you should take a look at Section 12 D [assuming its the same as Julie B-M which says it can only be amended in writing by approval of the majority of the Board. From what you say, that has never happened. So I don’t think that Steven Lawrence had the authority to do it himself. What a mess this whole situation is.

  122. g Says:

    If I’m correct, this does not stop at the approx $350,000.00 combined settlements. Browne will still be able to pad her retirement pay with any unused sick/vacation pay by adding that to her final year of employment salary—Right?

  123. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Before the email that you quote above, there was an email from Julie Braun-Martin to Cooksey, fowarding my question about Mildred Browne’s status, that asked: “Are we still saying Mildred is on a leave of absence? Are we telling people that she will continue to do some projects?”

    Cooksey forwarded that email to Superintendent Lawrence, asking: “Can we discuss how you would like Julie to respond to Teresa’s (sic) inquiry?”

    Lawrence responded to both Cooksey and Braun-Martin: “Yes. The two of you can drop by my office.”

    Later, after Cooksey sent the email to “all” that you quoted above, Lawrence replied to everyone on that email: “Should we share this with the Board President and Vice President. I assume that Mildred had a chance to provide input around the phrasing.”

    Cooksey replied: “Yes, you should share it with them. Yes, Mildred had the opportunity to review and comment.”

    I did receive a copy of an email from Cooksey to Browne with the same statement about her status, sent “High” priority, with the question: “What do you think?” However, I did not receive Browne’s response or any email from Lawrence to Whitmarsh and Mayo. So, maybe he verbally shared it with them. This begs the question, why didn’t he share it with the rest of the board?

  124. g Says:

    Dr. J: Do you really believe that EberMarshMayo didn’t sign the Severence Settlement Agreement? I can believe that Hansen and Dennler may have been left out—it wouldn’t be the first time, would it?

    Of course, that was 2012, too long ago to file Brown Act violations–again.

  125. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, it can only be amended by mutual consent of the district and the board. But, Browne’s settlement is not written as a contract amendment. It is written as a settlement agreement and release. Still, it is not binding until ratified by the board.
    Cooksey wrote in an email today:
    “…Staff intends to bring the contract to the Board at the last board meeting in June. They were not brought before in an attempt to maintain Dr. Browne’s privacy and so as not to inhibit her as she seeks other employment. We also wanted to wait closer to the time of her departure in June in order to avoid potential claims that the District revealed personnel actions where she is concerned.
    · The Board authorized staff to enter into an agreement with Dr. Browne pursuant to certain terms. The Superintendent is chief executive officer of the District and, as such, he must implement all Board decisions. Once the Board decided to enter into an agreement with Dr. Browne, the execution of the contract was within the responsibility of the Superintendent. Please note that in all settlement agreements with Personnel for at least the last three years, the Superintendent has been the signatory on behalf of the district. I have confirmed that the former Superintendent also signed settlement agreements with departing personnel that were approved in advance by the Board…”

    I replied asking her why there is no record of the board providing this authorization to the superintendent and she has not yet responded.

    g: Yes she receives benefits during her leave and is accruing sick leave, but is not accruing vacation. However, she will be allowed to receive a payout of her accrued vacation as of June 30, 2012 by June 30, 2013.

  126. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, we really need a timeline of the Mildred Browne documents — without dates, it gets very confusing.

  127. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Well, I don’t want to lay out my whole story before it’s published. But, rest assured, there will be a timeline.

  128. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#117 The EdTrust-West report card is hardly much progress for all of the money put into SASS. Here are the details and one can compare THREE YEARS, 10,11 AND 12.

  129. g Says:

    Cooksey, Lawrence, JB-M all believe the current board, the people and the press are beyond stupid!

    Regardless of the most recent chapter of the fairy tale, they decided to keep it hidden for only One major reason. By June 30 she will have received the whole year’s pay, cashed the checks, put it into a protected account and Poo On You Guys whether you want to ratify a release or not!

    Let’s get a PRA going for all DMA contracted employees who have had settlement agreements signed by this Supt. Signing off on teacher layoffs? So what! I don’t give squat about what happened during the turf wars of 2008-9. What has THIS administration gotten by with?

  130. Anon Says:

    It is all very confusing. This is a full time job trying to keep up with the mess this district is in.
    So does anyone know if Rolen has been back to his office since that loosed session?

  131. Anon Says:

    Oops. Closed Darn auto spell checker

  132. Wendy Lack Says:

    Astonishing developments, all.

    Reminiscent of the City of Bell and that ilk.

    Well, at least the publicity MDUSD is getting statewide may attract applicants for the forthcoming vacancies that enjoy the challenges of reclamation/clean up work!

  133. Anon Says:

    Wendy @132, why do you think there are “forthcoming vacancies?” Theresa reported the Superintendent was back in his office working on March 28th. That indicates he was not let go for cause. At most, there would have been a buyout, but discipline was also on the table. Has anyone considered here that the two administrators could have been disciplined but not dismissed? If Rolen has been back in his office, he was not put out on leave for cause either….

  134. Theresa Harrington Says:

    G: Yes, you make a good point. By the end of June, Browne will have received the paid leave from the written settlement agreement that the current board president and Vice President did not know about. Even more surprising, Cooksey’s emails to Browne appear to imply that she was informing them of the written agreements. In one, Browne says she is nervous about Cooksey’s presentation of the amended agreement. Later, Browne says she is hoping for a positive outcome with the board. Did she know that some board members had no clue about the written agreements?

  135. g Says:

    Just like two sisters chatting, huh? The only thing to be ‘ratified’ with any meaning is the extra $78K, or whatever in June. The rest is hers, done, gone.

    I wonder if she also got the 3% boost from the hoarded reserves when everyone else did last summer?

  136. Wendy Lack Says:

    @ Anon #133:

    It is my assessment that the District cannot go on this way. New management is inevitable — the Board has no option, politically-speaking.

    The incumbents are too tarnished to be credible. Maintaining the status quo is a non-starter. The Board must make changes, lest they take on the same stink of failure and corruption as has staff.

    This management transition story is far from over. The impetus for change is too broad-based and overwhelming to ignore. There is growing public awareness that new management is requisite to building public trust.

  137. Doctor J Says:

    @Wendy#76 Your idea of private sector replacements is a good idea. However, the problem is that many, but not all, of school district managment must be “certificated” [credential] teachers. An example is the WCCUSD job description for HR Director posted this morning, which requires a credential. I know that the Supt does NOT need to be credentialed. I believe it was Sacramento City USD that hired a non-credentialed Supt.

  138. Anon Says:

    Wendy @ #133: Thanks for your response. On the face of it, I agree that it would seem a board majority needs to take some action. However, from what I am sensing of Brian Lawrence, he wants to reach some middle ground where he tries to give something to everyone. I could be very wrong on this, but I get the sense he wants to make the upset public happy by taking some kind of action, but also doesn’t want to swing the other direction and take the strong action of dismissing the Sup and GC. Dennler and Mayo are going to be holdouts. This all comes down to how Brian Lawrence votes. Again, I really think he is going to reach a compromise that gives everybody something for the next year that doesn’t invole any real change. I see these two staying around for another year with a slap on the wrist, and then just having their contracts expire. I’m just being a realistic here. I think Lawrence wants his naysayers to believe he took some kind of reasonable action, while not being so extreme as to upset the S. Lawrence supporters.

  139. Wendy Lack Says:

    @ DJ #137:

    Hiring based upon merit is essential to creating a high-accountability, high performance organization.

    It appears the types of requirements you reference are designed to create obstacles to hiring “from the outside” in order to give teachers career options. However, offering teachers career options is NOT the function of a school district — performance excellence is!

    A genuine meritocracy hires the best qualified candidates rather than perpetuate a proven failed approach.

    The MDUSD status quo is not working. How much more evidence is needed to illustrate the point? The unsatisfactory performance of the District’s current HR Manager offers a compelling illustration of the point.

    IMO, an HR Manager needs a teaching credential “like a fish needs a bicycle.” Do high performance Silicon Valley high tech firms restrict HR jobs to only applicants with software engineering backgrounds? No. The notion is absurd.

    Further, in my experience public agencies are advantaged by hiring private sector talent whenever possible, particularly for core admin functions (e.g., HR, Finance, IT, Legal). Likewise, classified and certificated personnel should be hired based upon merit and, when possible, from outside the government sector.

    Innovation comes from creating the right workplace dynamics under enlightened leadership to try different approaches, nurture new ideas and challenge the status quo way of doing business.

    By broadening candidate search parameters an employer increases the odds of hiring true excellence, rather than merely the best of a small, hand-picked pool (or, worse, secretly manipulating the process to pre-select hires based upon favoritism or other non-job-related factors, as so often occurs in government).

    Cronyism and mediocrity have no place in our schools. We expect and deserve better.

    If the District’s labor contracts don’t provide management flexibility to reform its hiring practices, now would be a good time to change them — and negotiate back the management rights the District has given away, while you’re at it.

    These are the types of things organizations do when they’re serious about creating a high-performance, no excuses workplace.

    Don’t kids and taxpayers deserve the best?

  140. Wendy Lack Says:

    @ Anon #138:

    You could be right. Trustee Lawrence does have a reputation for pandering to whatever audience he’s speaking to — never a sign of character or principled leadership.

    Clearly Trustee Lawrence is being tested. I’m calculating that politics is fundamentally what drives his actions. Further, I’m betting that he’s smart enough to realize the reformer role is to his long-term political advantage. In essence, I’m betting on his good political instincts.

    If any Trustees believe that the grassroots public outrage is going away any time soon, they’re sadly mistaken. If anything, the calls for new leadership are growing louder from what I’ve heard in the central county area of the District.

    Mayo and Dennler should be recalled. Lawrence may join their ranks, if he doesn’t play his cards right.

    Time will tell.

  141. Wendy Lack Says:

    @ Anon #137:

    Fence-sitting and “compromise” solutions won’t do. Politically that approach is a non-starter in this case.

    The public is outraged, plain and simple. Justifiably so.

    Residents expect decisive leadership from the Board of Trustees in response to the outrageous incompetence, corruption and abuse on display in MDUSD. Just wait 5 minutes and there’ll be a new scandal brought to light.

    MDUSD’s history teaches us that Trustees who are unwilling to take corrective action are, in fact, the source of the problem.

  142. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Funny you should mention waiting five minutes for a new scandal. Just this morning, I received a hand-delivered copy of a complaint against the district by a long-time substitute teacher alleging bullying, harassment and discrimination in the way he was fired from working at five schools without due process. Obviously, this is a complaint against the HR practices in the district.

  143. Doctor J Says:

    @Wendy#139 I generally agree with your post. I tried to find the credentialling requirement on webite but couldn’t. I think there is a legal exception for Supt not having to be credentialed, but it is far and few between. I think the rule is generally that any administrator that supervises and evaluates credential teachers must be credentialed. Obviously a district lawyer would not have to be credentialed [but must be a lawyer] although we could return to the days when we had a “risk manager” and all legal work was done by outside lawyers. Same with fiscal. I would like to see the financial comparisons between those days, and today’s budgets. As far as HR manager, it appears there is a requirement to be credentialed because of some perception of supervision of credentialed teachers. But I think that could be overcome by a restructering and reducing the HR supervision function down to directors, instead of Asst. Supt., or place the evaluation and supervision of teachers directly on other credentialed management. But you are right — way too much promotion within and then protectionism of poor performance. SASS’s primary mission when it was formed was to have successful principals coach and mentor other principals to higher success. Disappointingly, very few of SASS qualified for that, and very little of their time was spent coaching. Just think Sun Terrace. I am still anxious to hear of the results of the $20,000 Whittier party. Will the Whittier model be implemented for next school year — if so, quick action must be taken.

  144. g Says:

    Wendy, you are so spot on. I might only add to your observations of “secretly manipulating the process to pre-select hires based upon favoritism” and “cronyism” one thing running rampant in our district offices.

    That is the practice of finding a way to give your good-buddy-yes-man a pay increase.

    Not by increasing the job requirements or the education requirements or the experience requirements, but rather by simply changing their job title.

    Does the CFO do more-or perform better because he is now the COO; or the HR Director do more-or perform better by becoming an Asst. Superintendent… ad nauseam.

  145. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#142 Please post the complaint. The trustees will not be able to comment on personnel matters. Morale is sinking like an anchor from a battleship. @Wendy#140 I agree with you that Brian Lawrence is at a cross-roads; so far he has tried to play both sides of the fence to satisfy his financial backers, but I do agree he has good political instincts, and he is going to have demonstrate his leadership with decisive action, instead of just rhetoric. Its in the best interests of the children.

  146. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Speaking of the need to hire well-qualified people, when I was speaking to the SRVUSD spokesman yesterday about their strong performance on the EdTrust-West Report Card, he said one of the reasons for that district’s success is that they pride themselves on hiring “the best and the brightest educators.” When I commented that I have heard they have hired some away from MDUSD, he replied: “I can neither confirm nor deny that.”

  147. g Says:

    I would recommend against trying to straddle a barbed-wire fence.

  148. Wendy Lack Says:

    @ G #147:

    Two words: “Man up.”

  149. Anon Says:

    Funny when it’s only the women who are manning up.

  150. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#142 It hasn’t made it to the court website yet.

  151. g Says:

    The current board needs to brush up on the difference between “Anticipated” Litigation, “Pending” Litigation (although those lines are blurred) and just plain good old “Litigation”.

    It is no longer “Anticipated” when you already have the court papers in hand– ie. Doe v.

    At the first sign of a status change of those categories Legal Counsel Must be Required to report progress or lack of progress to the board. And when counsel says “It’s in process”; that is not a report. That may merely mean “my friend, the counsel I assigned to this case just bought a new boat and needs the case to go for a few more court dates.”

    The board should not give Legal Counsel (at least not this one) any sort of ‘blanket approval’ to just fight to the finish, regardless of facts, perceived circumstances or potential cost.

    Based on published agenda, the case Theresa mentioned today would appear to be related to Release discussions the board held 1/28.

    But, is it? Litigation facts may be barred from public view–but the board should have its own up-to-date full-disclosure file.

    Based on published agenda, at least two members have heard not one word about Blyeth v., nor has the entire board been updated on the case in many months, although it has taken a very rare turn towards court sanctioned legal document cover-up.

  152. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The complaint is on a district complaint form. It is not a lawsuit.

  153. g Says:

    Then that may be the 3/11 agenda item. If it is, and the fired employee does not feel the HR/Legal response was fair–can expensive arbitration or litigation be far behind.

  154. Anon Says:

    I believe the employee would first have to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and get a right to sue letter before he could litigate.

  155. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#152 I hope you are authorized to share it. Since the Board minutes are a couple of meetings behind, I don’t recall what happened with that item.

  156. Wendy Lack Says:

    DFEH readily issues right to sue letters.

    That pit stop should not create significant delay.

  157. Help the Good Guys Says:

    Brian Lawrence. It’s like Déjà Vu All Over Again
    It might be too soon for us to go the same route and expect different results. It seems like there is no material difference between previous board members and their successors. During this very crucial time for our district, and when Cheryl Hansen et al, need total commitment and support, he has left for a business trip to Australia? He has four lovely children and a business. This might not be the time in his life where a total commitment is possible, even for the most well-intentioned person. Brian Lawrence is pleasing none of the people none of the time. MDUSD is not a stepping stone. It is an embattled schoold district reponsible for huge numbers of students and employees. No hedging.

  158. Doctor J Says:

    @Help#157 Maybe he will participate by telephone like Lynne Dennler does from Hawaii.

  159. Help the Good Guys Says:

    Maybe Skyping would be more personal but that requires a laptop. Too Soon?
    It is not the location, it is the commitment and vision for our future. Status quo will not help just now.

  160. Doctor J Says:

    He can watch by Livestream and talk by telephone. I don’t know if you can skype with more than one person ?

  161. Anon Says:

    So, only four board members at the April 8th meeting?

  162. C.s. Says:

    #72 OMG, you have no idea. We need someone completely detached from this group. I was stupidly pulled into a legal mess- supposedly some small stuff but now I see I did managements dirty work and because I was told to do it on my time, they were slippery because I may need an attorney at my own expense. They shut down the payroll department to hide behind me to go after one employee without disclosing there were years of problems Iknew nothing about. I think management used me. Everbody is hurting but the management. I would like to work under another manager in Fiscal and hope Bryan moves back to his office asap. I do not want any part of a lawsuit or purposely ignoring my coworkers or refusing to work withthem. Would I make things worse by reaching out to these people to try to explain what motivated me? If it was the right thing to do why didn’t managment do it?

  163. Brian Lawrence Says:

    Pretty sure I’m not in Australia. I won’t be in Australia next week- I’ll be at the Board meeting.

    My vote at the last meeting was based on the legality of the contract extensions that were voted on in April, 2012. It was consistent with my previous statements on this matter. For me, it was not (and legally could not be) a referendum on the employees.

    I absolutely agree that the status quo is not acceptable. I’m confident that the current Board is taking the necessary actions to move the District forward. I cannot and will not comment on personell matters beyond what Cheryl Hansen has reported out.

    We will report out personell issues in a timely and legal manner. When those actions have been reported, people will be able to judge if my actions have matched my words.

  164. Help the Good Guys Says:

    I voted for Brian Lawrence but did Brian Lawrence previously miss any MDUSD related events due to a business trip to Australia?
    P-E-R-S-O-N-N-E-L use you spillcheck. 😉
    Omissions can look like spin. We only want the best board members we have had in a long time supported.

  165. Anon Says:

    BL @ 163: Thank you for your comments. Maybe you will go to Australia another time :)

  166. Brian Lawrence Says:

    @ 165- I hope so- I love it there!

    @ 164 Sadly I used spell check and still screwed it up. That word just never looks right right to me when I spell it out. I may have to just start calling them “HR issues”.

    I was out of the country in December, but I didn’t miss any Board meetings (at least to my knowledge) because of it. I scheduled the trip around the meetings. I did inform President Hansen that I had to leave a recent Board meeting by 10 PM in order to catch a red-eye flight.

  167. Help the Good Guys Says:

    Employees have gone to law enforcement We need a Steve Cooley from Bell CA who will get in here and realize he or she works for the taxpayers. Their lack of follow-up may not be political but it looks like our white-collar units are not performing their function. If they need to excuse themselves due to political pressure or affiliation, do so, but nipping it in the bud and firing some of these managers would have been a lot cleaner than letting it get to this level where anyone wanting to operate differently is targeted.

  168. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is my AIS story:

  169. Anonymom Says:

    Eberhart had to have known too… He knows rolen personally and probably certainly knew of his “dating life.”

    Disgrace. Disgusting. Debacle.

  170. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Eberhart told me he knew of no conflict.

  171. anonymous Says:

    #142 on steroids. Personnel is so compromised it is not fixable. Julie Braun Martin and Lois Peterson have acted in an abominable way towards the employees. There are no rules for them. JBM has been given a job she may not have ever qualified for and needs an attorney for everything. Ask a basic Personnel question and they immediately attack. One promise we desperately need from the board: no more teachers or principals trying to reinvent themselves as Personnel managers. If things are not working at their sites, moving them to internal departments they have no training for seems ludicrous. There must be reasons the parents were critical or unsupportive. Even with hiring faux pas, like all district managers, there is no consequence. I have found JBM to be condescending, mean-spirited and completely unwilling to perform her job in a professional or fair manner. Fiscal, Fiscal, Fiscal but I think you need real, seasoned, Personnel professionals who can accurately pinpoint that (Gosh forbid!) the problem lay with the management. I, too, would welcome the opportunity to openly discuss my experiences with this department but only a third party with enough clout to actually investigate.

  172. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    TH #170 – of course he “knew of no conflict” … This is the same guy who steered district consulting and construction jobs to his good buddies, decided to take classes on solar at Berkley and had the district (the taxpayers) pay for it without disclosing it first, and then – got him self a nice vice president title with a solar company based on that class and probably got paid to speak / be interviewed about “the largest solar project at a school district”. No conflicts there …

  173. Doctor J Says:

    Blockbuster story ! I seem to recall that Steven Lawrence made a statement that Rolen did not have to disclose the conflict of interest until he was married — which he implies that he knew they were dating at the least and perhaps cohabiting. Theresa, you might check your notes. In the last week I cited the board policy of “cohabiting” — and it seems to me there is not much difference between being married, being engaged, cohabiting, having an intimate relationship — all of which create actual or potential conflicts of interest in the spirit of the law. I believe its unethical conduct.

  174. Doctor J Says:

    @Brian L #163 While I disagree with your conclusion about the April 23, 2012 vote, I appreciated your explanation of how you arrived at your opinion. I take you at your word that the status quo is unacceptable and the Board will take the actions to move the district forward. In light of the revelations in the article this afternoon, I would anticipate two resignations rather than have to make the Board take the action that will hit the statewide newspapers and ring throughout the educational community. I also wonder if there are rules of professional conduct about lawyers that impact on this situation.

  175. anon Says:

    Theresa: thank you so much for exposing the AIS-gate in your story, as employees are fearful to say anything lest they lose their job. Employees throughout the district are aware of this unethical arrangement and it is only one of many reasons why morale is so low.
    It is also interesting that the AIS contract with the district excludes AIS’ employees from being finger printed; the contract states that AIS employees must always be in the presence of a credentialed teacher/administrator. District policy states that even the presenters on stage at an assembly must be fingerprinted. This policy was put in place because presenters may use the restroom and walk down the hall unaccompanied while students are present. Does this mean that a credentialed teacher/administrator meets an AIS employee in the parking lot and walks them through the halls to meetings and to the restroom? Was AIS excused from this district policy because some of their employees are not U.S. citizens? Was Padilla a U.S. citizen prior to marrying Rolen?

  176. g Says:

    Theresa; Fantistic story! anon: I think there is nothing in Marisol’s past that would be a negative—that is right up until she fell under Rolen influence.

    This district used CTI for 30 years under the original ownership, and after it was sold. For 14 of those years Marisol worked there–not just as interpreter, but in the office. Her condo was owned by family of the new CTI owner–they all apparently had a good working relationship.

    Then, she meets Rolen-gets her own business license–CTI suddenly has a ‘problem’ and is dropped form the district’s contracts just as Marisol’s cocoon opens.

    That can’t be coincidence. And never believe that Eberhart had no idea what was going on back in 2010. He is likely (except for maybe Sue Berg) the only one around that might know what the CTI ‘problem’ supposedly was.

  177. Doctor J Says:

    I wonder if all those days Rolen spent in court in his divorce he took his salary ? What responsibility does his secretary bear for doing Rolen’s personal work and using district property — computers, fax machines, and probably postage ? It wouldn’t surprise me that someone came forward and called Cheryl Hansen to really disclose when Steven Lawrence knew that Greg Rolen was in a romantic relationship with Marisol Padilla and said nothing about the conflict of interest.

  178. Tagg Says:

    I hope that your article regarding the “translation service” for MDUSD is not just on the CCT’s electronic file, but goes to press tomorrow. I would love to see that on real newsprint and shared fully with the community.

    What boggles my mind is that with all this proof (tip of the iceberg?) some people would still question getting rid of Rolan for poor ethics (OK he is a lawyer so it’s a slippery sliding scale) and getting rid of Stevie Lawrence for his poor leadership in bringing a once functional school district down to a D rating. He just needs a little more time and he’ll achieve a F, and he’ll be off to “save” another district in need.
    Who is supporting these people? (aka clowns) Brian Lawrence better wake up… it’s too late for Linda and Lynn to wake up from their comatose stupor if they believe this is an OK way to run a district. Once again; Thank God for Cheryl Hansen’s insight and integrity.

    If this were the private sector, both of these losers, Rolan and Stevie would be fired on the spot and escorted to the door…. if not brought up on charges.
    In my business if I were somehow permitted to see the other competitor’s bid contract and then allowed to “renegotiate” my bid with a client to magically slip my bid just below theirs, I would be black balled from the industry and maybe loose my license…. not to mention how unethical it is for MDUSD to “share” competitive bids with the competition. Unless it really isn’t competitive. Unbelievable.

  179. Anon Says:

    g @ 176: follow the timeline. Padilla “lost” her job with CTI in 2009. They HAD a good working relationship until she “lost’ her job with them.
    Do a title search on her business/home/condo residence listed under Manta; it certainly is not owned by CTI now. Nobody even scratched the service on that one. CTI is not going to say why she “left’ out of fear of defamation-same reason employers don’t give recommendations for fired employees. Add in her “lost’ job in 2009, a year of struggling with her “own” business” and Rolen’s tendency to retaliate. Now, can you add 1 + 1?

  180. Doctor J Says:

    If Linda Mayo and Lynne Dennler continue to support Steven Lawrence and Greg Rolen, I believe it would be proof they have lost their moral compasses. I think this is the tip of the iceberg. No wonder Pete Pedersen left Dodge.

  181. anon 4 Says:

    #171 Could something be in the works for the MDHS principal who hasn’t been seen/heard from much in the last few months in comparison to last year?

  182. g Says:

    Don’t forget that Mayo had “some reason” for not wanting to renew Rolen’s contract last April 23. Did even she already know what was going on? The story started breaking on here months before he “constructed his wall”, but left his assistant counsel with a swinging door to both sides.

    anon: She didn’t ‘lose her job’. She created her own business, and then announced to her employer that she was leaving. She moved from the original condo to another rental in the same complex soon after that.

  183. Anon Says:

    #182: no G, you are wrong, you don’t know the facts. She was let go by CTI, they just won’t tell the press.

  184. Anon Says:

    BTW, her condo is owned by her sister. Do a title search. Don’t write with certainty things that you don’t know; you are sorely perpetuating false information that Padilla and Rolen and everyone else who knows about this lie wants you to believe.

  185. Wait a Minute Says:

    Anon 4 @181,
    Can you elaborate more o your statement that Kate McClatchy has not been seen much lately?

  186. Doctor J Says:

    It really doesn’t matter whether she was fired from CTI or quit, she formed her own company and suddenly got the “exclusive” contract approved by her boyfriend after CTI had it for decades. Lets not forget the timeline of the Rolen’s ex who wrote it in the book report published on Google. It all fits in.

  187. Anon Says:

    Dr. J @ 186: Let’s say, hypothetically, that CTI had a falling out with her in 2009; and then she was on unemployment, which Theresa could not verify; and then she got involved with Rolen and got her own business license; and Rolen decided to retaliate against CTI for hurting his girlfriend and causing her to be on unemployment; and the perfect way to avenge her was to get her their contract; now wouldn’t that act of retaliation be something even worse than failing to disclose a relationship?

  188. Doctor J Says:

    @#187 Being mean is not illegal; its just uncouth. CTI took no action.

  189. Anon Says:

    J @ 188: I think that is incorrect; CTI did file a complaint with the district, but that was not revealed to the press either by CTI. CIT has now gotten some of their work back, and it is in their best interest not to talk at this point.

  190. g Says:

    Anon–I don’t use frequently-out-of-date Manta. I do, and did in this case, use City and County records which are impeccably reliable, plus private research usually very reliable. I don’t know why you would ever believe that I would believe anything that Rolen/Padilla or everyone else “wants” me to believe.

    I did not say who owned the condo after she changed her address from the one owned by Mr. Van Gemeren. I merely stated that she moved to one that she did not own. Shall I go on about lost love, lost homes, personal desperation, etc etc?

    I have no fight with you, or Padilla. I wish her well–I think she deserves a lot of credit and some good fortune–Just not in this district with Rolen in tow.

  191. Anon Says:

    G at 190: unfortunately, “out of date” Manta is one of the few sources that accurately lists the current business/home address of Padilla-Rolen. I am not sure why you believe CTI must have had a good relationship with her. Being a relative of the family who now owns CTI, I can tell you that is not the case. CTI was devastated when they lost their contract with MDUSD, and did file a complaint with the District, likely now buried. I can’t say Ms. Padilla deserves much credit, and wonder what your basis is for saying that. Given my connection with the family and her, I know she worked Rolen to get her the contract with the District, and he used his position with Ebermarsh and the board to not renew CTI’s contact and get Padilla’s contract signed. These facts and more will hopefully come out in time. Harrington’s story was an opener, not the closer.

  192. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#191 I hope you can encourage those who have the facts to come forward either to the press or to the Board as soon as possible. Do you know when she first dated Greg Rolen ?

  193. Help The Good Guys Says:

    YES 171 & 142! Finally, isn’t Fiscal-Payroll just a symptom of Personnel? JBM acts with impunity and in general, management can overtly bully and mistreat. I believe she lacks self-confidence and wants endless “attorney” consults to help her credibility. They are now bringing yet another attorney from Sacramento (because there aren’t enough in the Bay area?) to bolster whatever GET THE EMPLOYEE plan is in motion. Personnel only speaks to employees for one reason: they want to twist the most benign bits of conversation against them. It might be some needed feeling of superiority but employees who do not have PhD’s or Masters’ can still be in the right. Some are not well-spoken or wily enough to navigate Personnel. Those who went to Personnel looking for honest guidance or resolution have learned the hard way. Reporting managers or employees for wrong-doing is NOT a complaint. It is notification to superiors. For right now, I would say only report outside of the district. Who ok’s this money she is spending?

  194. anonymous Says:

    Personnel: mean and relentless. We are a food source not a resource. Tricking people and twisting and “interpreting” may elicit confessions from kids writing on bathroom walls but they do not translate to adults or serious situations. Personnel is bringing in yet more attorneys. BTW, Theresa, is there another, earlier “friendship” Greg Rolen has had to explain? I am amazed the other situation is not being discussed. I, too, am happy to discuss this with a state or federal prosecutor.

  195. Anon Says:

    J 191: Padilla and Rolen are “close personal friends’ in August of 2009. Dating relationship is public by March 2010. By May 2010 two are seen together as couple by Bancroft parents at kids’ open house. He’d known her since 2009 when their daughters were friends at Bancroft.

  196. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#195 Actually Anon, I believe there had been an intimate relationship that had been going on since 2008 based on Diane Rolen’s Book Review published in Amazon in which Diane states she received a phone call detailing his infidelity, and also because I believe Rolen prepared her Ficticious Busines name statement she filed in 2008. The book was The Courage To Be a Single Mother: Becoming Whole Again After Divorce. Shortly after I exposed it on the blog, it came down, but was found on another site that copied the review. I guess you have to ask Diane. Be that as it may, how does Rolen explain using using his secretary and district resources for his divorce ?

  197. Doctor J Says:

    FCMAT lists the Rolen story on its Educational Headlines today. Every District in the state now knows about it.

  198. Doctor J Says:

    @Help#193 I think you are jumping to conclusions about who is hiring Ochoa & Moore on item 14.6 for representation on employment law. The staff report is not signed by Greg Rolen or Julie B-M, but only by the Supt and his secretary, which usually means it is a Board request. Since Linda Mayo requested the lawyer be approved before they meet again, I am guessing this is a Board request. Why go to Sacramento for lawyers ? Let me speculate. It takes the local politics out of it. I am told that Sacramento lawyers are inherently cheaper than Bay Area lawyers. But I think most importantly, just like Mr. Griffin, Ochoa & Moore have impecible credentials. Bottom line: the misconduct of Greg Rolen and Steven Lawrence are costing the district lots of money. I hope that Rolen and Lawrence do the right thing and resign immediately not only for the sake of the children of the district, but to save their butts.

  199. Theresa Harrington Says:

    As I have previously written, FCMAT tussled with Rolen over my PRA for the third party analysis that included the clustering recommendation. Gillaspie and a higher-up administrator both thought the document was a public record, since the district hadn’t asked FCMAT to keep it confidential in the first place. After the fact, however, Rolen pressured FCMAT not to release it. When I spoke to Anthony Bridges for my more recent FCMAT PRA and said it was for MDUSD, he said, “Oh, I think that’s the same district that tried to prevent us from releasing some documents to you.” I said, “Yes, and they were successful.” He said: “Yeah, our lawyers were arguing with their lawyers.” So, it appears that even FCMAT’s own attorneys disagreed with Rolen, but ended up acquiescing to him in the end.

  200. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#199 Maybe you should try again for the third party analysis. There may be no objection now from Rolen. BTW, has your story been picked up by other papers or media ?

  201. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Or, I could submit my request directly to the board, which could waive its privilege.

  202. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, on a related note, did you ever follow up on the districts December payment to Greg McCoy’s law firm and their invoice, the same one who wrote the letter in January repreenting the Big5 and arguing for the extensions ? It would be interesting to see who authorized that payment and what it was for.

  203. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#201 Or do both simultaneously.

  204. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FCMAT has already rejected the request and I have no reason to believe their attorney would suddenly reverse himself.

  205. g Says:

    Theresa, Speaking of “wait five minutes” and in-house attorneys causing stink, I noticed on the agenda that the complaint from Teamsters Union is on. Did you get a copy of the ‘revised’ complaint?

  206. Doctor J Says:

    And did you see 4 anticipated litigation cases ? Sudden increase in anticipated litigation.

  207. Doctor J Says:

    Can you imagine the “water cooler” [not that we have any but a figure of speech] discussions going on today at Dent and every school about this article on Rolen and Lawrence.

  208. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#194 Since its unlikely that CoCo County prosecutor will take this up — and we really don’t have state prosecutors, I hope you would call Theresa and share the information. Is she a district employee ?

  209. g Says:

    Dent implosion? Rampant, even if subtle, retaliation? Employees not being represented by their union? There’s something more here to be exposed, not just hinted. Employees frequently dislike or resent their boss even if they don’t admit it.

    But this seems to go beyond dislike, to strong hints of illegal activity.

    #69 Star: “I was dragged into something I am not comfortable with. This manager gets everybody worked up but keeps her hands clean. Also, there was another “inconsistancy” issued by Mr. Richards.”

    #162 C.S.: “I was stupidly pulled into a legal mess- supposedly some small stuff but now I see I did managements dirty work and because I was told to do it on my time, they were slippery because I may need an attorney at my own expense. They shut down the payroll department to hide behind me to go after one employee.”

    #171 Anonymous: “Personnel is so compromised it is not fixable. Julie Braun Martin and Lois Peterson have acted in an abominable way towards the employees.” “I, too, would welcome the opportunity to openly discuss my experiences with this department but only a third party with enough clout to actually investigate.”

    #193 Help TGG: “Those who went to Personnel looking for honest guidance or resolution have learned the hard way.”

    #194 Anonymous: “Personnel: mean and relentless. We are a food source not a resource.” “… is there another, earlier “friendship” Greg Rolen has had to explain? I am amazed the other situation is not being discussed. I, too, am happy to discuss this with a state or federal prosecutor.”

  210. Anonymous Says:

    Dr. J 196: What facts lead you to believe that Rolen filed Padilla’s Fictitious Business Statement? Was their something in the application that made it looked like her filed it. If Padilla was happily employed by CTI in 2008 as g is promoting, why was she getting a FBS to start her own business in 2008? Which raises the issue, did CTI find out she was starting her own business, potentially using CTI clients?If you look carefully at Theresa’s article, CTI did not set out a timeline. The owner of CTI gave a vague statement that Padilla worked worked for them, and then started her own business. CTI did not give a date for when Padilla left their employment.

  211. Doctor J Says:

    @G#209 Wow, you really put the depth of corruption in perspective — and this is just the tip of the iceberg. I wonder as more things come out, if more employees will come forward with other incidents of misconduct ? Those quotes suggest implication of 4 of the BIG5: S.Lawrence, Rolen, Richards and Braun-Martin. If it wasn’t a holiday week, perhaps more would be coming forward.

  212. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#210 I base my belief on Diane Rolen’s timeline in her book review, the date of the Ficticious Business Statement, the fact that a first time business owner probably does not know how to do it, especially an immigrant, and the fact that based on Rolen using his secretary and district resources for his divorce, he may have done this with Marisol too. However, I could change my mind if I saw the “original” FBS or saw other facts. I note on the FBS she used her home address — but by the time she got her first contract with MDUSD she switched to a PO Box in Walnut Creek. I suspect Rolen was behind that change since perhaps there was at least occassional co-habitation especially if they began dating in 2009 as one post says. If Rolen decides to sue the district, it will all come out in depositions of Rolen, Marisol, Diane Rolen and probably Rolen’s secretary, who is probably in hot water now too for having done his personal legal work and used district resources for his private affairs.

  213. Doctor J Says:

    There is an interesting provision in each of the contract extensions set to be signed on Monday night that MIGHT pertain to the possible payment of the BIG5 legal expenses to their private law firm by the district [unconfirmed as of now] AND to Rolen’s use of his secretary, district resources and property, for his personal divorce. I quote just the provision from the Supt’s contract but similar provisions are in each contract: “Notwithstanding any other provision of this Addendum or the Agreement, if the Board believes, and subsequently confirms through an independent audit, that the Superintendent has engaged in fraud, misappropriation of funds, or other illegal fiscal practices, then the Board may terminate the Superintendent and the Superintendent shall not be entitled to the cash, salary payments, health benefits
    or other non-cash settlement as set forth above. This provision is intended to implement the requirements of Government Code section 53260(b). Theprovisions of Government Code section 53260 are incorporated into this Agreement by this reference.”

  214. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Regarding HR, I see that Alameda City requires three years of successful teaching experience and/or related Human Resources experience for their Chief Human Resource Officer. They also want someone with leadership ability in working well with others, utilizing their talents in continually developing a more effective educational program. A Master’s degree or higher is required, with graduate work in education, organizational management, or psychology.

  215. Anon Says:

    I heard Rolen and Padilla were involved prior to 2008. I also heard that she may not have worked full time for CTI. This (from what I was told) left her to do other work that may have included house keeping or nanny services for the Rolens.

  216. Jim Says:

    @213 Dr. J — “Notwithstanding any other provision of this Addendum or the Agreement, if the Board believes, and subsequently confirms through an independent audit, that the Superintendent has engaged in fraud, misappropriation of funds, or other illegal fiscal practices, then the Board may terminate the Superintendent and the Superintendent shall not be entitled to the cash, salary payments, health benefits”

    That is quite sloppy legal drafting. Unless it is intentional. It is impossible to confirm what any Board “believes”. One only knows how they vote. And who is to say that an audit “confirms” any practices? Most audits are quite open to argument about what they actually “confirm” (as opposed to what they imply or reveal).

    The document you quote was written so that those payments to Lawrence won’t ever be at risk.

  217. g Says:

    “Violations of the laws prohibiting misuse of public funds may subject the violator to criminal and civil sanctions.”
    A really good read:

    No independent audit needed to know that Rolen mis-used district funds, equipment, personnel time and payroll for his personal legal skirmishes.


  218. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    g @ 217

    Does this apply to the “big5” submitting the “lawyer” letter as a group for reimbursement? If yes, then all 5 of them can say “bye bye”.

    An expenditure is made for a public purpose when its purpose is to benefit the public interest rather than private individuals or private purposes

  219. Doctor J Says:

    @G#217 Don’t forget the postage !

  220. Anon Says:

    Dr J#208. Unless there is a third friend of Greg’s out there, this person still works for the district and and has recieved “perks” supposedly not allowed in that department in the way of overtime. This situation was reported.

  221. g Says:

    As even the outside mini-audits have pointed out, it is not unusual for management (or anyone else) in the district to authorize payments/purchases first, and then write up their own invoices as back-up.

    This practice has been allowed to go on for far-far too long. When they do a thorough audit, hopefully they will require “original” invoice copies and time-sheets from the interpreters and outside legal firms–not some photocopy hiding the use of copious amounts of White-out.

  222. Doctor J Says:

    I still think someone should audit Rolen’s many personal court appearances against his “timesheets” or “timeoff”. Taking your pay while on personal court business would violate that clause.

  223. anon 4 Says:

    #185 She might also have been advised by her principal coach to lay low since she is not very popular at the site. Her right hand VP seems on the surface to run the show and is less disliked than her.

  224. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Rolen also used his district email account extensively to send and receive emails related to his divorce, which were included as exhibits.

  225. Anonymous Says:

    Dr. J: I do not believe he would unless he was missing all or part of a day. It would depend what MDUSD policy says about time off for management. Some policies only require requesting time off if the manager is missing a 1/2 or full day. Management does not have to abide by a particular schedule, as do non-exempt employees. As long as he works a 40 hour work week, he probably would not have to put in vacation time for taking off 2 or 3 hours for a court appearance, as would a non-exempt employee.

  226. Theresa Harrington Says:

    This section on 1090 is also interesting:

    It says a multi-member body cannot approve a contract in which one of the members has a financial interest, even if that member has recused himself. But, since Rolen is not a school board member, I’m not sure if that would preclude the district from continuing to contract with his wife.

  227. anon Says:

    @225: if site principals are considered management, they have to take a vacation day even if they’re gone for an hour to tend to personal business. And site principals put in at least 60 hours a week.

  228. anon Says:

    Theresa: excellent article regarding Rolen’s unethical practices – the timeline really spelled it out. It’s so important that the taxpayers are made aware of any misuse of funds. I’m hoping that more taxpayers show up at Board Meetings and encourage the Board to dismiss Rolen from all duties.

  229. g Says:

    Theresa #226: Your hit on 1090 is very important to both Padilla issue AND the big 5 contracts, but not just due to the actions of the board. Basically, ANY employee, but particularly any employee who falls into that catagory of those who must file Form 700; — may not participate at ANY step of any contract that might in any way benefit themselves.
    “It [1090] provides that an officer OR employee may not make a contract in which he or she is financially interested.”

    This includes written contracts, handshake deals, Grant applications…and so on.

    Neither Rolen nor Lawrence should have had ANY involvement in the writing or editing or approval of the wording of their own contracts.

    I believe all of that should have been conducted by the board and non-involved DMA officials (if there is such a body).

  230. Anonymous Says:

    #227: I think site principals are certificated staff and are be subject to different rules regarding time off than the Sup, Asst.Sups and General Counsel. But, they do work more than 40 hours a week, as do many teachers-part of the unfairness of those underpaid jobs.

  231. Anon Says:

    #230: except to decide if there was a legal conflict of interest under 1090, you also have to do the “remote financial interest” analysis under Section 1091, which provides an exception to a conflict under Section 1090. For Rolen to use this exception, Section 1091 requires that he disclose the fact of the interest to the board. He did not disclose until he was married, so he may be stuck there. He can still argue that he did not have a financial interest before the disclosure because he was not cohabitating with/married to Padilla, not comingling funds, etc etc. Not saying the argument wins, just sayin’

  232. g Says:

    Ah, but where 1090 stops Disclosure starts. This is where the meat of Conflict of Interest comes in.

    She got multiples contract, she made money from the contracts. Did she, at any time in those two years that he was pushing her contract use any of her earnings to buy him a nice gift? Did he disclose the gift? Did he, (during hard times at home for instance) stay at her place for any length of time- free of rent; did he let her treat to a really nice dinner out, where they even mentioned her contract….

    A pre-law student could argue him to dust in a courtroom.

  233. g Says:

    That is…assuming he would feel compelled to tell the truth ‘under oath’…. Questionable, from what I’ve seen.

  234. g Says:

    Oakland USD is looking for a new Supt.

  235. Doctor J Says:

    @G Deb Cooksey could give him a recommendation. She is well known in the district. :-)

  236. Doctor J Says:

    Besides the CCTimes, the Rolen/Lawrence article also hit the front page of the Oakland Tribune and the San Jose Mercury News. I ran down and bought a copy from a vending machine, and the article was “above the fold” and so you could read it through the display case.

  237. Doctor J Says:

    Besides the CCTimes, the Rolen/Lawrence article also hit the front page of the Oakland Tribune and the San Jose Mercury News. I ran down and bought a copy from a vending machine, and the article was “above the fold” and so you could read it through the display case. I imagine many other papers will pick it up in their Saturday papers. It was an exceptionally researched article and well written.

  238. g Says:

    I see both Kate McClatchy and Sue Brothers are looking for new school secretaries too.

  239. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, #236 was an error.

  240. Doctor J Says:

    I guess some elementary principals are leaving — a new pool is being advertised.

  241. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: Thanks.

  242. anonymous Says:

    Dr. J re 220, she was also given a supervisory position that was decided prior to them posting it – if they posted it, it came and went and I would be interested to see if other applicants were tested. I feel Greg should be forthcoming but also the board should be asking these questions because this was no secret at the district.

  243. C.s. Says:

    #224 Interesting. I was told by Personnel that I was misusing the email system to report workplace incidents. I was told to write them up, put them in a folder, and hand them to someone. If we cannot use email to report work-related,and sometimes scary incidents, how can we support using it for external or personal issues? Management good, workers bad. Always.

  244. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Rolen used his email to write dozens of emails related to his divorce. Certainly, there should not be a double-standard. If he is allowed to do that, I don’t understand why an employee would be prevented from documenting work-related complaints in an email — unless your supervisors don’t want anyone else to find out and don’t want to have to turn them over if someone submits a Public Records Act request. Perhaps someone should ask Personnel if employees are allowed to use district email to express their divorce case arguments.

  245. anon Says:

    Easy, no electronic evidence! I insist on doing everything by email with the district. Papers get easily ‘lost’, and phone calls, well, easily forgotten.
    BTW, I am a parent, not an employee!

  246. Anon Says:

    For those interested, there is Superintendent opening at Oakland Unified.

  247. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#246 Yes, G reported that in post 234. If Steven Lawrence is interested he could probably get a recommendation from Deb Cooksey — she is well known in that district, having served as the General Counsel. :-) But the Rolen/Lawrence story from yesterdays CCTimes, also appeared on the Oakland Tribune front page. :-)

  248. Doctor J Says:

    Has Rolen responded to the Times article ?

  249. g Says:

    I would imagine people a block away probably heard him responding. 😉

  250. g Says:

    The question for Monday has changed: It is no longer “Will the board sign those Contract Amendments.” It is now, “Will all of the employees sign the Amendments.”

  251. Anon Says:

    @250, Lawrence and Rolen will sign in a heartbeat. Their actions show they are shameless.

  252. Anon Says:

    @250, forgot arrogant and think they’re untouchable, ala Lance.

  253. g Says:

    Anon: I’m not so sure. Rolen could not survive the divorce/Padilla facts Theresa has given us, with the addition of Govt. Code sections 53243 through 53243.4 and, if pursued by this board, it could hit ALL of them right in tail end of their Browne deal.

  254. Anon Says:

    G 253: I don’t think the board even needs the addendum to let Rolen go for cause and not pay benefits or salary. His original contract allows for termination for cause for any ground that would allow dismissal of a permanent or certificated employee (that’s in Education Code section 449320. ) So, if there’s an immoral act, unprofessional conduct, evident unfitness for service, or incompetence, they could let him go for cause under the for cause clause. That’s a much lower standard than the conduct required in the addendum.

  255. Anon Says:

    253, meant 44932.

  256. g Says:

    I agree–but two clauses are always better than one.

    Can you elaborate a little bit on “Lance”

  257. Anon Says:

    256, yes. This scandal has similarity to the Lance Armstrong fall from greatness. What came out was that Armstrong was really sociopathic, would hurt anyone, destroy careers, cheat, etc., to foster his self-image as the greatest cyclist ever. My impression is that these two men think they are above everyone, can do what they want, conceal what they want, and not pay any consequences. Rolen had to be told to disclose he was married to a contractor? Clearly he has no boundaries. Lawrence lies for him and makes a crack about not keeping up with his co-workers lives? He’s just as defiant as Rolen. Remember Oprah asked Armstrong if he thought he cheated, and he said he looked up the definition of cheating, and didn’t think his actions met the definition? That is the mind set of these two.

  258. Annie V.P. CSEA Says:

    I can’t imagine why anybody would use District e-mail that work there for anything, but strictly business. It’s their e- mail system. I have told my members not to use District e-mail, unless it is work related. I know I got e-mails that were none of my business. People don’t always pay attention what names they punch in. So, who knows how many people read your e-mails.

  259. Anon Says:

    So wait, Is the Board expected to act on the termination of the employees from earlier closed session on Monday? Do you think they are going to say something on Rolen and Lawrence?

  260. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    It’s ironic Rolen uses the district email, postage, fax, copiers AND his staff for personal use, but can’t sent district PRA docs/responses to TH via email as scanned docs as requested, instead choosing to do so via u.s. mail costing the district postage, paper and envelopes (when he chooses to respond at all).

    I would like to know why his secretary did this for him. She had to know it’s against district policy and not in her job description. Did she do it willingly, or did she feel her job would be in jeoparty if she refused? Who else in Dent did he make do his personal bidding on the district’s dime?

    What other “managers” in the district have had their staff conduct personal business on their behalf? Time for the staff to start blowing their whistles …

  261. g Says:

    Thanks Anon–I hadn’t thought of him. You’re right.

  262. Anonymous Says:

    Anon at 259: it’s not on the board agenda for Monday, so no, they are not expected to do anything regarding dismissal. They voted to act on 3/27/13, but haven’t disclosed what the “action” was. Since Rolen and Lawrence are still working, it doesn’t appear they voted to dismiss. I guess they could have voted to do a buyout and haven’t reported it out yet.

  263. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No, Rolen has not responded. And regarding Cooksey, she sent me an email saying she did inform the board about the written agreements with Browne, but she didn’t believe she needed to actually show trustees the agreements at the time. She also said the superintendent’s secretary told her the board direction WAS reported out June 25. So, it’s unclear why the mins don’t reflect that.

  264. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#263 There is nothing unclear about why the minutes don’t reflect what was reported out — Steven Lawrence & Gang did not want the public to know about it. Remember that Lorene Joseph is one of the Gang of 5 that got a raise when others in the district were getting cuts.

  265. vindex Says:

    wow. Reading these posts I’m astonished that Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Rolen are still employed by the district. IT IS A WELL KNOWN FACT that Mr. Rolen has no conscience and should not be employed by the MDUSD. In fact, any organization that hires him, deserves what they get. I’ve never met Mr. Lawrence, but the employees that I have spoken to have all said that he is a “weird man, and politics are out of control in the DENT under his watch”. How in the world do people like this get hired by the MDUSD? Simply, they are symptoms of an incompetent board. You have a dysfunctional board, you get dysfunctional leadership. I am hopeful that under a new board we can do better than these two men. I’m not convinced yet.

  266. Anonymous Says:

    Vindex @ 265: Can you give more detail about how it is a well known fact that Rolen has no conscience? Do you have examples?

  267. g Says:

    I am in no doubt whatsoever that the current board agreed to perpetuate and cover-up the $300++K Mildred Browne hoax — believing that no one would even notice, much less question the Position Control Lists OR that Theresa would do a PRA request on the Mildred Browne issue.

    So there! I said it!

  268. Anonymous Says:

    G at 267: How does that affect your opinion of Hansen and Oaks, then? I agree it seems so odd that her contract did not come up for extension with the others, and nobody asked why? It smells bad.

  269. anonymous Says:

    Superintendent job in Oakland #246? What did Oakland ever do to you? 😉
    To quote the Billy Flynn character from the movie Chicago:
    “…God Save Illinois”

  270. g Says:

    My opinion today is ‘marginal’. Hansen, Mayo and Dennler had from, at least, April 23, 2012 to dig into or put a stop to what was obviously beginning to stir.

    Then they had from, at least June 2012 to deny giving “authority to negotiate a settlement agreement with” Brown.

    They also had a chance to question proper Reporting Out of the minutes of every meeting where her name (employee #) came up in closed session.

    We all know that Hansen stood as a lone warrior for two whole years; but regardless, either one of the three from the old board, IF they disagreed with giving away $300+K, especially if it was being given to cover the asses of Lawrence and/or Eberhart and/or Rolen–whomever—or for WHATEVER the circumstances, they could have taken their questions and legal concerns to the County or State.

    They did not do that. They apparently chose “cover-up.”

    By Jan 2013 when brought into the loop Oaks and S. Lawrence probably just sat there, mouths agape! So they too have acquiesced.

    When will the $$$ stop bleeding out of the coffers for this mess—not for a very long time.

    Could it have been stopped in 2012 by “unbiased” legal advice and corrective board action–You Betcha!

  271. g Says:

    Sorry Brian Lawrence, not S. Lawrence–.

  272. vindex Says:

    anon @266.. I have many examples, but if I were to put them out to you, I would endanger the confidence of those people who shared them with me. He would be able to figure out who said these things and retribution would be forthcoming. So, I will not be sharing any of the examples I have.

  273. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Hansen and members of the public did ask why Browne’s contract was not extended and there was no public answer. Oaks told me she is so new to the board that she is just learning that she needs to ask more questions. She said that even after the briefing by Cooksey, she still had no idea what happened to Browne.

  274. g Says:

    Cooksey works for the Board (the people), not for Browne. If Cooksey is to adequately serve the board, she should only be dealing with a negotiator for the complainant—not directly with the complainant.

    From the bible to current ethics to fiduciary law– “A man cannot serve two masters.”

  275. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Although Browne did hire an attorney, I did not receive any communications between the district and that attorney. Also, I did not receive any internal communications regarding the establishment of the “Assistant Superintendent on Special Assignment” position.

  276. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is a new blog post showing side-by-side comparisons of the five Contra Costa County unified districts highlighted in the recent Education Trust-West Report Cards, which graded and ranked them according to how well they are educating low-income and minority students compared to others statewide:

    As previously mentioned, MDUSD got a D+ overall, inching up from a D last year. Of note are the following dismal stats:

    African-American and white achievement gap: F (same, rank up)
    Latino and white achievement gap: F (same, rank dropped)
    College eligibility among students of color: F (rank 128 of 142)

    The rank for the district’s achievement gap between whites and Latinos DROPPED from 2011 to 2012. This should be of particular interest to DELAC and those who are implementing the English Learner Master Plan. It also shows that the Equity Advisory Team might be well-advised to pay more attention to Latinos. And finally, the Graduation Requirements Committee should be looking at how well the district is advising students of color in the courses they are taking.

  277. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#275 Are you following up to see why your PRA was not fully responded to ?

  278. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#276 Regarding the drop in the Latino achievement gap, with all the big money we spent on that in 2011-12, what is the explanation of Jeanne Duarte-Armas and Carmen Graces, AND their superior Asst. Supt Rose Lock, who is supposed to be supervising them ? I am surprised that DELAC isn’t raising hell about it. Obviously what is being done, isn’t working.

  279. Anonymous Says:

    Vindex 272: I understand their fear if retribution. But by not coming forward they are giving him power. I think they should at least go to the board. Otherwise he’ll make everyone’s life hell for another year. Strength in numbers. I don’t mean to undermine their concerns at all, but if their union employees, I’d think their would be support to stand up to bullying behavior. Thanks for your response. I always like your posts.

  280. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Since the English Learner Master Plan is just now being implemented, much of the money spent so far has been on planning.
    Regarding the PRA, Rolen said some documents were withheld because of various “privileges.” But, Cooksey said there was nothing that really explained WHY the district agreed to this settlement. In a recent email, she wrote that the board authorized the superintendent to pay Browne a total of 18 months compensation. Because of this, Cooksey said it wasn’t necessary for the superintendent to seek approval of the revised December settlement agreement, since the dollar amount remained essentially the same — even though about $31,000 was shifted from future consulting work to payment of Browne’s claim, requiring no additional work on her part. This makes me wonder who advised Browne to increase her claim by that amount. It was Cooksey who said the agreement needed to be changed to reflect a new law that went into effect in January, which would have made the consulting portion of the contract impossible to accomplish. So, instead of forfeiting that money, Browne just increased her claim. It’s unclear whether the board was specifically informed about this switch.
    g: You make a good point that the tone of the emails between Browne and Cooksey could suggest that Browne may have believed Cooksey was advocating on her behalf with the board. And the fact that Browne specifically asked Cooksey to exclude Rolen from the agreement could suggest that she may not have wanted him to be able to argue against it.
    Anonymous: Based on the board discussion about fear of retribution at the retreat, it is clear that some employees have already gone to trustees with their complaints. The question is: what will the board do about it?

  281. g Says:

    The point on Browne as I see it is: barring contract language to the contrary, if a permanent, tenured, contracted, certificated employee is to be dismissed, there must first be some form of disciplinary proceeding.

    It seems, from what we have been able to ascertain from limited released documents, and from pure speculation, that “more than one person” did something so egregious that “someone” needed to be fired.

    In this case, it appears that, at least, two parties did something considered that egregious, and the sitting 2012 board, on advice of board’s counsel, and without the benefit of a hearing commission or and ALJ decided to take it upon themselves to “flip a coin” or otherwise make a choice between which of the offenders could stay, and which offender had to go.

    Then, still based on counsel recommendation, allowed no public input nor did they give any revelation of the financial impact of nearly a half million dollars in duplicate pay costs to the entire district when they chose to accept and pay a BRIBE offered by the loser of the coin-toss “to go quietly, and to keep their mouth shut.”

    That act by the board AND counsel is beyond reprehensible, and totally lacking in fiduciary obligation—but what that board ALSO chose to do was—“Reward” the second offender(s).

    They did not pay for their offense(s) with either their job OR their money. The People, the Students, Education paid—and as long as any member of this sitting board feels some “moral obligation” to perpetuate rewarding of either of the offenders, in any manner, the people and the students will continue to pay the price.

  282. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#280 Do all board members have this same under understanding that Cooksey says she said ?

  283. Anonymous Says:

    Theresa @ 280: yes, I agree the board likely has a lot if information., We know what Hansen and Oaks will do. Mayo is a lost cause, probably Dennler too. It seems to come down to what B. Lawrence will do. He craftily said the status quo can’t remain, but didn’t see when it needed to change. He may well want to ride out the contracts until 6/14 and change the status quo then. That gives him time to recover from the discontent that will arise by his present inaction before running again.

  284. Doctor J Says:

    @#283 Actually, I believe that we will see Brian Lawrence take a major leadership role in the next two weeks in bringing change to both the Supt and Gen Counsel positions and support termination. I also believe we will see an about face by Linda Mayo on Rolen — she may not read the blogs, but she reads the newspaper, and the front page story from Friday cannot be ignored. Linda had reservations on Rolen back in April 2012. However, its unclear what she will do on Steven Lawrence. As for Lynne Dennler, she is a willow and bends with the wind. Wise trustees will begin thinking about who they want to replace Lawrence on an interim basis — I hope they think out of the district — we need a blood transfusion. Deb Cooksey continuation is unclear, but if this Mildred Browne thing is not as she has portrayed — and the trustees know whether or not it is, she may not ride out the storm, but don’t look for them to give her a promotion. I think the Board will continue to look to outside counsel on important matters. Deb Cooksey has not proved her competence.

  285. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, is there a reason you won’t post the entire Mildred Browne complaint on docstock ? The public has a right to know.

  286. g Says:

    When Cooksey took her Bar Exam they must have declared it “Open Book Week.”

    Running outside Dent to take sides in a Union promotion? That one comes up tomorrow.

    Needing a week to figure out who is Parliamentarian? Which motion comes first/last?

    Union negotiations that gave away many, many millions of dollars of Reserves to existing employees, instead of to reduced class size, students or needed equipment upgrades.

    Back and forth chatter bargaining with someone threatening suit against the district?

    That stumbling explanation of AB 1575–“you can ask for donations b-b-but… it could mean this or it could mean that.”


  287. Anonymous Says:

    I, too, was told directly by Lois Peterson, Dir of Personnel, it was a misuse of the email system to report workplace incidents. I was told the exact same thing, write it down and hand it to her. Why would Personnel deliberately steer me wrong? We need actual Personnel staff who are thinking, sentient, people. The good people who left Fiscal did not just take a beating and go away. Who knows if they may have gone to law enforcement? Could it have been unproductive to use local units or the D.A.’s office? There is a complete failure of management – assuming management is not setting an adolescent tone in the unit. It has been incredible that upper mgmt. were willing to give up their jobs as opposed to management corrections. #193 is correct. Reporting unacceptable behavior or suspicious transactions is just that: A REPORT. It is not a complaint. This group does not know what to do except protect the wrong-doers. Is this incompetence, unethical or possibly illegal? At what point do we start investigating where insubordination ends and collusion begins? We need some type of special prosecutor not connected with the D.A.’s office. I also agree that JBM is mean, manipulative, unfair, and should be investigated for abuse of her position.

  288. First Impressions Says:

    Dr. J – I hope you are correct about Brian Lawrence.He came to a union meeting in a wrinkled shirt, tail out, jeans, and athletic shoes. He should have come back in at least Dockers and a freshly pressed, tucked in, shirt. His speech was full of inaccurate and somewhat pandering speech; misquoting statistics, which I corrected him on, and trying to rile people about the superintendent having a reserved parking spot. He dressed and spoke for who he thought we were. This type of thinking: US or THEM is not helpful. We want our Superintendent treated with respect BUT we want them to respect the institution, the kids, and the employees. We affectionately called him Brian “Santa Ana” Lawrence due to his long winded odd speech. My superintendent, when we finally get one that appreciates us, can have my parking space if someone is rude enough to park in his! We want to be on the same team

  289. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I still don’t understand why an employee is not allowed report to wrongdoing in the district using district email, while the general counsel used his to wage his divorce battle.
    Regarding the Browne settlement agreements, I will post them when I publish my story. However, it was telling that Hansen asked me to send her copies after I told her about them. When I said I hadn’t scanned them yet, she said she would request them from Cooksey.

  290. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The Rolen story is starting to gather steam.
    It was posted on the website Topix:
    Also, a Twitter user called “Calif Gov’t Scumbags ‏@CaGuvScum” tweeted: “School district (#MDUSD) is client (Rule 3-600). Lawyer violated Rule 3-310 (Adverse Interests – Personal Relationship). @EvilEsq” (EvilEsq is “an involuntary bar association for attorneys and judges who have lost compassion for their subject matter– the law, and protecting the public.”) @CaGuvScum also tweeted this: “#CalBar must investigate.” This will get the attention of the CA Bar Association on Twitter.

  291. Vindex Says:

    @Theresa.. Well done. 1st amendment at its best.
    @Brian Lawrence. I can read between the lines of your post. Well-written. You gave away the information without giving away any information in violation of the closed session. Nice. I also look forward to a new start for this district and community. Please, research the CHARACTER of your new hires. Hard to do, but please take the time. MDUSD has had a character problem with its top leadership the past several years. Bad Character gathers bad character around them. Like pond scum collecting on still water. Do not be deceived by initials next to their names or an excellent sounding resume… Or even an interview where they tell you everything you want to hear.. Choose the person with the best Character. George Washington said “Good moral character is the first essential in a man” We’d be wise to put this at the front of our minds as we search for a new General counsel and Superintendent.

  292. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Grants available to encourage charters to collaborate with non-charters:

    Would MDUSD be willing to reach out to CVCHS to try to learn from them? CVCHS’s planned partnership with CSU East Bay seems like it could be a promising model to build on.

  293. Jim Says:

    @292 Theresa — I have seen instances where charter schools and local traditional public schools have collaborated, but the outcome, all too often, is the same. When it comes to making tough choices and operating in a more disciplined, manner, the public schools often cannot follow through. And I have NEVER seen an instance of meaningful accountability when the public schools tried, and failed, to follow a charter’s better model. There simply was no accountability for traditional public schools that often operate without transparency, under near-monopoly conditions.

    Let’s be honest — much of what happens in charter schools is not “innovation”. It is about diligent execution of principles that millions of educators have known, and tried to practice, for years. Not surprisingly, doing a great job, as opposed to a “passable” job, often takes more work, more flexibility, and more diligence. (Hey, isn’t that what we tell our kids? That the best results often require the most effort?) How many adults in the system will keep at it if the kids, the funding, and the paychecks keep coming, no matter what? The answer is too few. Too few.

  294. Doctor J Says:

    Not sure how that all works, but does the California Bar really work that fast ?

  295. Doctor J Says:

    I hope tonight they ask the employees to sign the agreements first — then the Board

  296. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I would guess that someone would have to file a complaint with the CA Br before they would investigate.

  297. g Says:

    Yes. The employees should have to agree to the amendments and sign before the board signs them ratifying the 4/23/12 amended motion by Eberhart stating that he had confidence that “staff understands what’s needed in the amendments without giving them any more detailed instructions”. After all, it is the same Staff.

  298. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Please note that I am on vacation today and tomorrow, so I will not be attending tonight’s MDUSD meeting. Hopefully, it will be live streamed.

  299. Doctor J Says:

    Is closed session going overtime ?

  300. Anon Says:

    Anyone knowledgeable: At what point does poor managerial performance cross over to workplace sabotage? Managers who refuse to do their jobs, refuse to speak to employees, have screaming fits at employees, perform below par and simply do not have the skills necessary to maintain their SUPER lucrative jobs? There are literally “negative” performance standards: get with the group and don’t worry about the work. Pick what you want to do and refuse to do the rest. No problem. The really knowledgeable people have left. Can anyone get a copy of the original job description for Bryan Richards’ job? Personnel refuses to give us one. He needs to move back to HIS office and do HIS job. It has become a patronage system. Where are the attorneys? Chasing employees around intimidating them with “secret files”, refusing to allow them counsel. Due to Deb Cooksey’s behavior, we took our concerns outside of the district.
    See the recurring theme? OUTSIDE the district. Bring in from OUTSIDE….etc. No trust in current staff.

  301. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#300 Do a public records act request.

  302. Anon Says:

    J 188: You wrote above that CTI took no action against the district when Padilla-Rolen got their contract. I learned from a very reliable source that they took action to sue but could not afford the retainer for the attorney. This may have even been disclosed to Harrington, but perhaps she could not put it in print. It seems like this isn’t just about not disclosing a relationship with a contractor, but misleading or even false information to get your girlfriend a no bid contract. I have no faith in this board that won’t take action despite public outcries for change. Last night was just a return to the status quo, despite Harrington’s solid research and the whole Browne secrecy. Most employees in this position would be put out on administrative leave, yet there is everybody, advising the board like nothing every happened. You can expect this group to be around until 6/14.

  303. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#302 No action ? The Board hired an independent employment attorney so they now can schedule the next Closed session. I call that action. Linda Mayo had demanded the attorney be hired first and then she voted against it — hypocrisy. Will she really stand up for Rolen ? She may not read the blogs, but she reads the newspaper.

  304. Doctor J Says:

    How about Steven Lawrence’s assinine idea to wait four years before raising the graduation requirements back to where they were ? Gary Eberhart’s charge to lower the graduation requirements to avoid Program Improvement failed miserably. Graduation percentages did not go up. I agree with a majority of the Board that they need to go back immediately. Cheryl Hansen, Barbara Oaks, and even Lynne Dennler agree that Rti — immediate intervention when a student isn’t learning is the solution to the problem. But Steven Lawrence has been slow to implement it. Like Abraham Lincoln said of Gen. George McClellan during the Civil War “He’s got the slows.” So Abe replaced him with Gen. Ulysses Grant — and the tide turned. We need a new General.

  305. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Trustee Linda Mayo voted against lowering the graduation requirements in the first place. But, increasing graduation requirements could force the district to bring back summer school, if Rti doesn’t work. Rose Lock has been pushing “first, best instruction.” So, hopefully, students would get the help they need to succeed.

  306. Anon Says:

    Dr. J: you’re an optimist. I like that.

  307. Doctor J Says:

    Can one of the Board members post what the report out from the second closed session was last night since it wasn’t recorded ?

  308. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#305 Even if Rti is only partially successful, it will reduce the need for summer school and dramatically reduce those costs. As Rti becomes more successful summer school will probably disappear.

  309. Doctor J Says:

    Last night the Board was not happy that Lawrence spent all that money on the demographic study and didn’t even include socio-economics or race. One more loop in his noose.

  310. Doctor J Says:

    I guess the most insulting thing about the Bay Point boundary change recommendation is that the committee didn’t even come up with the recommendation — it was foisted upon them by Rose Lock. The district hadn’t even gone in — even though they have had months to do it — to do an address verification check that in other schools have freed up over 100 spots, enough to solve the problem at Delta View for next year. Its an arrogant superiority complex by the top administration that “they know better” and all they want to do is eliminate transportation at Delta View. They use the committee just as windown dressing — its insulting.

  311. Star Says:

    Dirty Sanitary District Gets Cleaned Up. Brett Richards from Ross Valley Sanitary District caught embezzling $350,000 dollars in housing/relocation money HE HAD TO PAY BACK. Any housing assistance should be optional: accept it and immediate incremental withdrawals start deducting from the Superintendents’ check. If he quits or the house is sold, those funds should go back to the taxpayers. Marin was smart. They followed the trail and it paid off. WHY, WHY, WHY, can’t we get a Steve Cooley from Bell CA or this man: Chief Inspector Rob Guidi of Marin County District Attorney. Someone actually cared enough and the office was trustworthy enough to do the right thing. These are the people who should run for office. Why is there not one person in CCC who will answer to his/her conscience and the taxpayers? I, too welcome the opportunity to show someone my experiences with Payroll and have them ask Bryan Richards why he would continue this way. Can we have an investigation moved to another county?

  312. Anonymous Says:

    Dr. J 303, I’m confused about your post. When was a vote taken to bring in an employment attorney regarding the discipline/dismissal action item? I know at the 3/27/13 special meeting on discipline/dismissal, Mayo made comments against bringing in an outside attorney to advise the board, and Harrington posted that Hansen told her the board still had to agree to bring in outside counsel. When was the vote taken and reported out? I don’t see that vote on any board agenda. Where does your information on the vote come from? Perhaps I missed something.

  313. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anonymous: Hansen said she needed to bring the outside counsel to the board for a vote. The board voted 3-2 on Monday to approve the outside counsel:

    Since I wasn’t at the meeting, I don’t know if any announcement was made about a new closed session date.

    I am watching the video of the meeting now. I note that Vice President Barbara Oaks removed the translation services contract for Evangelina Villa, asking for an overview of the translation services contracts. The superintendent said he would give her a rundown the next day. Still, no one mentioned AIS.

    Also of interest, Trustee Brian Lawrence made a statement about his desire to also seek new leadership in the district after public comment, at about 21:00 into the meeting:

  314. C.s. Says:

    #304 Dr. J: Anything that represents work can wait. You see, they will get their paychecks anyway. Investigate possible wrong-doing or harass the whistle-blower? Harass. Much easier than an investigation and fits the current climate. There is probably no way to check out someone’s character. It would be nice. However, once it is obvious they have performance, emotional issues, departments need help or become fragmented and dysfunctional etc, a smart Superintendent does not continue to force that on his staff and those they serve. They have shown their character.

  315. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#312 See Agenda item 14.6 Hiring of Ochoa & Moore. They have speciality in public employment law.

  316. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#313 We don’ know what the second closed session announcement was, but otherwise there was no announcement about a date for the next closed session on the employee discipline/dismissal. Brian Lawrence’s announcement now signals 3 votes in favor of change of the top leadership. The top leadership has a choice — fight it and get fired, or resign and save face and career. There is more than enough evidence for termination for cause which would cut off any furher payments. I expect to see a closed session on this item in the next 10 days that will make a definitive decision. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to read the tea leaves.

  317. Anonymous Says:

    J and TH, thank you for your response. Didn’t realize they were being hired for that purpose and not layoffs given other agenda items. Based on some of these posts from apparent employees, I am wondering how they can do a reliable investigation, like looking into the #220 post, with Lawrence/Rolen still on the job and exerting influence over employees. It was refreshing to hear B. Lawrence make his public statement about seeking new leadership. I think he’s right that people need to be careful about mistatements of facts and abusive comments and make sure we stick to the facts, otherwise we are not better than those we criticize.

  318. Doctor J Says:

    MDUSD Graduation rates for 2012 DROPPED AGAIN, and Drop-out Rates INCREASED AGAIN, just the OPPOSITE of he statewide trend announced yesterday by Tom Torlakson. Brian Lawrence, Cheryl Hansen and Barbara Oaks are exactly right the district is headed in the wrong direction and needs new top leadership. Obviously SASS is failing under the leadership of Rose Lock. Here is Torlakson’s press release.

  319. Doctor J Says:

    How bad are the high school graduation rates and drop out rates ? BAD ! I compared the five standard high schools. College Park’s drop out rate nearly doubled ! Every high school except for Northgate had their dropout rate increase. Ygnacio Valley had had the highest dropout rate: a whopping 17.7% — and Bill Morones got the promotion to SASS Director of Secondary — go figure. Mount’s was 15.6% — ouch. Northgate cut their dropout rate by 1.8% to 2.5% — good job. Gradudation rates: College Park and Mt. Diablo’s graduation rates dropped, but Concord, Northgate, and Ygnacio Valley all had slight increases. Northgate’s graduation rate was 96.2% while the two lowest were Mount at 81.5% and Ygnacio Valley at 81.6%.
    I think you have to ask two questions: How long can we wait for a change in the top leadership ? Are the SASS principal coaches really doing the job ?

  320. Doctor J Says:

    Heads up ! There is an April 11 agenda posted but not yet approved for public viewing. Stayed tuned for breaking news. Also a new date on the Agenda list for April 22 — a Monday that wasn’t there before. Not sure what that is about.

  321. g Says:

    There is another closed session scheduled for Tomorrow–but agenda not posted yet. Hmmmm.

    Is it a follow-up on the “due dilligence” research into Borenstein’s PRA? (He’s being very patient)

    Is it a meeting with the Ochoa firm? If it is Ochoa, is it re Employment Contracts as we suspect, or what?

    Will the Open Session portion report out any resolution or action taken Monday regarding the Union fiasco? Have they agreed to spend education dollars to defend Cooksey’s wrong-doing?

  322. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The April 22 meeting is posted as a regular board meeting. The planned closed session tomorrow is at 6 p.m. I’ll try to find out what it’s about.

  323. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The closed session tomorrow is for action on employee discipline, dismissal, release or complaint:

    Also, the district’s home page lists two special board meetings April 15 and April 16:

    And the superintendent’s El Dorado MS feeder pattern meeting is tonight:

    I wonder if they will discuss the substitute issue there.

  324. Doctor J Says:

    Tomorrow’s agenda: Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint

  325. Doctor J Says:

    No word yet on what the report on the late night second closed session was last Monday ?

  326. Doctor J Says:

    I believe the Special Board meeting for April 15 is to finalize the Strategic Plan. Not sure what the 16th is for.

  327. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I think one of those is a joint meeting with the Pleasant Hill City Council.

  328. Anon Says:

    J @324 and TH, no employee number(s) listed as done on 3/27/13 agenda. Theresa, any info on that?

  329. Anon Says:

    @ 326, isn;t April 15 the joint meeting with the Pleasant Hill City Council?

  330. Anon 2 Says:

    Could be the Oak Grove teacher featured on Claycord…too soon perhaps for her day on the Board agenda.

  331. Anon Says:

    @ 326, see agenda at PH City Council site, it shows joint meeting with MDUSD for April 15 at 6 pm, so maybe 16th is Strategic Plan.

  332. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#328 I suspect there may be more than just two employees on that list now and the board did not want to tip their hand to the Supt [loose lips Lawrence] and will notify those employees directly.

  333. Anon Says:

    J @328,that’s a problem because under the Brown Act they are supposed to identify the employee by number or title; not just “public employee.” Notifying the employees doesn’t meet public notice requirements.

  334. g Says:

    But they don’t list the employee number until that employee has been served with their notice, and had their mandated time to respond, hire representation and request a meeting with the full board.

  335. Doctor J Says:

    Maybe its just a meeting with the new attorney so he/she can draft the notice to Steven Lawrence and then the actual “action” can happen next week. Rolen doesn’t need that letter, and both he and Lawrence have already had their employee numbers publicized. Maybe resignations have been submitted and will be accepted. We will just have to wait and see.

  336. Anon Says:

    333, Before and after the 3/27 meeting, I believe the “employee” has already been provided with the sufficient notice, has responded, and has had his full meeting with the board.

  337. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s my news brief about tomorrow’s meeting:
    I don’t know why no employee numbers are listed on the agenda.

  338. Anon Says:

    #311 Bell CA, Marin County: notice anything different from us? THEIR JAILBIRDS WERE CAUGHT AND ARE EITHER IN JAIL, TRYING TO STAY OUT OF JAIL, OR M.I.A. That is the difference. Our group openly operates. Today they took taxpayer money; tomorrow they will take taxpayer money. Refusing to leave, refusing to provide services they are grossly overpaid for, mistreating everybody in one way or another, and unconcerned with consequences. For as many people and as many times as employees, parents, decent managers, taxpayer watchdogs, etc have begged for help, these managers know none is on the way. Obviously the D.A. in Marin poses a threat. Bell California dislodged their problem people. Sickening: all of the people entrusted to prevent this or address this behavior have failed us.
    Newsflash: Rolen can only cast one vote at election time. We need to make sure our memories are long when these people want more public money. A few Fiscal issues need to be reviewed by the FBI, since nobody local is interested.

  339. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Hansen confirmed that tomorrow’s meeting is a continuation of the previous personnel matter. But, she said the newly hired law firm won’t be participating.
    She also continues to maintain that she never knew about the written agreements with Browne, despite Cooksey’s insistence that the board gave the superintendent to enter into them. Brian Lawrence has also told me that the briefing about Browne was very cursory and he has since followed up with Cooksey to get additional information.

  340. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is the agenda for Monday’s joint meeting with the Pleasant Hill City Council:

    The discussion of AB 1575 should be interesting. I know there are parents on the PH Ed Commission who are concerned about how this will impact their annual fifth-grade outdoor education camps.

    FYI, our Pleasant Hill reporter Lisa White will cover the meeting.

  341. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#340 I would imagine there are other schools whose outdoor education camp will be impacted. Have any schools had to cancel their camps for lack of funds ? When I broke this story on this blog, I said it was a “big deal” and indeed it is “coercing parents to pay” is a lot easier than getting them to “fundraise”.

  342. Really? Says:

    Yeah. El Monte cancelled their trip.

  343. Doctor J Says:

    Any details on why El Monte cancelled their trip ?

  344. Doctor J Says:

    I think Guy Moore and MDEA are in financial trouble on their Acadamey Awards event. They have changed he pricing structure. Here is the new pricing structure: $40 for General Public $30 for Elected Officials $20 for MDUSD Employees. So Guy, explain to me why you are only charging Steven Lawrence $20, who makes $260,000 a year, and you are charging a single mother who can’t afford to drive her child to school $40 ? And why are you giving elected officials a $10 break ? Are MDUSD Board Trustees “employees” or “elected officials” ? How many people have signed up so far ? How much of your teacher member’s dues do you expect to lose on this event ? Do you plan on having Spanish translators at the event for the Spanish speakers ? I don’t have any problem with the idea — but one month away and it sounds like its in disarray.

  345. Doctor J Says:

    Sorry, forgot the link.

  346. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a new blog post about tonight’s meeting, recapping how the board has come to this point and quoting Trustee Brian Lawrence’s Monday night comments about his desire to seek new district leadership:

  347. Doctor J Says:

    Guy Moore, I don’t want you to think I am attacking you without a plan. If your goal is to have a cross-section of the educational community at the awards ceremony, here is my plan. If you just want the elete and exclude the poor and minorities, follow your plan. Here is my plan.
    Any Parent whose child is on a free or reduced meal plan: $10
    All MDEA active members: $20 [they already pay dues]
    All active members of other unions affiliated with MDUSD: CSEA, Local One M&O, Local One CST, and MDSPA [does NOT include Diablo Managers Assoc — DMA since they are not a union] $35
    General Public, including all MDUSD adminisrators, $60.

  348. Doctor J Says:

    Did you see the questions that the Pleasant Hill City Council wants answered on Monday night ?
    o What criteria has been used to identify schools for the transfer of students under NCLB?
    o What financial support and staff support does MDUSD offer Pleasant Hill schools that are receiving NCLB transfers?
    o What programs are offered that benefit NCLB transfer students?
    • Parents have raised questions about the impact AB 1575 might have on their children’s programs and activities, including concerns about the loss of enrichment programs:
    o How will MDUSD address this legislation to assist schools and provide support for collection of donations? [Wait until they hear El Monte cancelled its outdoor camp !]
    concern raised for College Park High School:
    o Foreign Language course offerings, particularly Mandarin
    o Offering 9th grade students Social Studies classes
    o Offering A period electives
    o Access to Naviance software for College and Career Planning
    o Funding for additional College and Career advisors at the high school
    Update on Measure C facilities improvement projects and general maintenance of facilities for Pleasant Hill schools
    I don’t think Steven Lawrence will be able to BS his way around these questions by the City Council.

  349. g Says:

    Bay Point has a few strong and vocal parent/student/school advocates. Walnut Creek has a good share as well. But they appear to be amateurs compared to Pleasant Hill–a city far more united in its aspirations to benefit all of its citizens.

    What other city, not only in this district or even in this county puts “Education” on their Homepage, or frequently lists it as a priorty for information and updates at regular council meetings? None.

    Will Steven Lawrence be envited to join the board at the P.Hill meeting in case questions need to be answered on subjects where the board has not been brought up to speed? Hmmmm.

  350. Doctor J Says:

    G, I think the question is whether Steven Lawrence will show, or send his entire staff — there is no single staff member that should know all the answers. I don’t think the PH City Council wants to hear generalitites — and wait for their follow up questions. Too bad the broadcast won’t be live.

  351. Doctor J Says:

    Anyone get a copy of the El Monte camp cancellation letter ?

  352. Anon Says:

    Dr J,
    If Mr. Moore wants parents there, your proposal of $65 is way too much!

  353. Anon Says:

    Oops, $60

  354. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#352 I like the idea of an awards event. It really depends on whether Guy Moore wants it to be an “elitist event” or include a cross section of the district. MDUSD has about 39% of its children on Free & Reducded meals; and 21% English Learners. So if you price all parents at $40, you immediately economically disqualify 60% of the MDUSD families, yet give ALL employees of MDUSD, including all of the high earners over $90,000. Why should Steven Lawrence making $260,000 only pay $20 ? So I proposed a sliding scale. I don’t know what Guy Moore’s budget is for this event. I think reducing the price for MDEA members is appropriate since they pay mandatory dues. I think the real problem is that a good idea popped up, but hastily planned and discriminatory against low socio-economic families.

  355. IdeaMan Says:

    Dr. J./354
    I like the idea of a dunk tank.

  356. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: I have also heard that the board’s decision last October to designate the “gray area” for College Park HS instead of YVHS has not been well-communicated to students, parents and the community, so that may be a topic of conversation as well.
    Regarding Pleasant Hill’s commitment to education, it is also interesting to note that no other city in the district has an Education Advisory Commission.

  357. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Isn’t CPHS over capacity? How much? Is it safe – are there more students crammed into classrooms than there should be?

    Isn’t YVHS below capacity? How much?

    Why isn’t there any discussion about closing YVHS and OGMS to save $$$ since enrollment at these schools is so low, and since families are choosing to go to overcrowded schools instead?

  358. Theresa Harrington Says:

    HFO: I also thought CPHS was over capacity. But the district said it wasn’t, so it acquiesced to Pleasant Hill parents’ requests to designate the gray area for CPHS. However, the fact that this hasn’t been well-communicated – even to staff – could lead people to wonder if the district was hoping that people living in that area would continue going to YVHS. Once again, it appears that district “insiders” may be benefitting from this board decision, while those who haven’t been informed about it have been left in the dark.
    This is one more example where trust in the district could be compromised because very basic information appears to have been withheld from those affected.
    You also make a good point about YVHS and OGMS. The district backed off those discussions when the School Closure Committee rejected the idea because it didn’t come from them. But, it’s worth revisiting as enrollment continues to decline. Also, former OGMS Principal Terry McCormick’s presence on the School closure Committee could have swayed members against voting to close that campus at the time. But now that she is at Pleasant Hill MS, her allegiance to OGMS could be a moot point.

  359. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    The district should start looking into how it could retrofit OGMS to make it a trade and vocational training only campus. Make YVHS a shared campus – move the OGMS students over to the YV campus.

    District Students 16 thru 18 years of age could drive to the trade & vocational school campus regardless of their home school address and enjoy classes that will help them become responsible adults and get jobs (or at least a foot in the door) out of high school.

    Trade & vocational students would have classes in the morning, or classes in the afternoon, giving them flexibility to take the required classes needed to graduate (English, Math, Science, History, etc.), at their home schools either in the mornings or afternoons (or online, or homeschooled, etc.).

    If a student can get credit for PE by bowling at a bowling alley, what’s stopping the district from thinking of other ways for students to succeed?

  360. Theresa Harrington Says:

    This is an interesting idea. However, the district is in Year 1 of a 3-year School Improvement Grant for OGMS. However, that didn’t stop the board from closing Glenbrook. So, it will be interesting to see if OGMS is able to truly “turn around” with its grant.

  361. Really? Says:

    MDHS has the food services academy. We need a trades academy in this district too. Not every student is made for college. It’s not like plumbers, carpenters and electricians don’t use math or algebra, just in a different way. Make freshman do a regular year of high school, spend sophomore and junior year in vocational classes, and in their senior year they can be matched up with local companies that will train them for the real world of work. Schools on the east coast and in the south do this. Why are we being so stubborn about reality?

  362. Jim Says:

    @361 R — You make a valid point that is seldom expressed these days. There is too much pressure, at all levels, from the President on down, to “send every kid to college”. We already send too many HS graduates to college. It’s just not a good fit for many, many students. That’s why we see even higher dropout rates in college than we do in K-12. That’s also one reason we see higher and higher unemployment rates among those who do graduate from college.

    We don’t provide enough alternate paths to post secondary training for all sorts of careers that are valuable to society and rewarding to those who pursue them. The message students hear, whether we admit it or not, is that “anything but college is second rate”. Hey, we might even see more students staying in high school if they thought it would lead to something where they could actually experience success.

  363. g Says:

    Talk about a ‘bite me’ and ‘in your face’ attitude. Cody has posted FIVE (5) more Lease/Leaseback RFQs on the C cite. Does posting make them less phoney–no bid deals?

    How do you “lease” a remodel and repair? I thought PederEberMarsh were gone–but he’s obviously taking orders from someone in a back room somewhere.

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