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Archive for April, 2013

MDUSD board to hold special meeting tonight

The Mt. Diablo school board will hold a special meeting tonight at 8 pm to discuss settlement agreements with the superintendent and general counsel in closed session and to review candidates for interim superintendent, also in closed session. In open session, the board plans to appoint an interim secretary to the board, designate CFO Bryan Richards to provide digital signatures on payroll warrants effective May 1 until an interim superintendent is in place, and to vote on a contract with a superintendent search firm.

Here is the agenda: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_agendaview.aspx?mtgId=407.

As I have previously mentioned, I will not be able to attend tonight’s meeting and I’m not sure if any other CC Times reporter will attend. However, the public portions of the meeting should be live streamed at http://www.livestream.com/mtdiablounifiedschooldistrict/ And later archived at  http://www.mdusd.org/boe/Pages/boe-sam.aspx.

Do you think the board should hire a superintendent search firm tonight?

Posted on Sunday, April 28th, 2013
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Uncategorized | 154 Comments »

New survey gives hope to supporters of governor’s school funding plan

Gov. Jerry Brown has thrown down a gauntlet to California legislators, challenging them to dramatically change the way schools are funded — by giving more new money to districts with a high percentage of low-income and English learners than to other districts.

He also wants to give more flexibility to all districts by allowing local school boards to make most decisions about how they spend state funding. This means money previously designated for specific students or programs could come with no strings attached.

A Public Policy Institute of California poll released earlier this week showed a majority of those surveyed back the governor’s proposal, which is called the Local Control Funding Formula. This has bolstered the hopes of supporters of the plan, who fear critics could sway legislators to back away from making bold changes to the education budget.

“There are some in the capitol that are saying we need to make all districts whole before we pursue a policy goal of making a more equitable finance system,” said Jonathan Kaplan, senior policy analyst for the California Budget Project. “The way I read the findings is that there’s some dissonance between these findings and that perspective.”

Some districts are arguing that before any extra money is doled out to those with needier students, funding for all of them should be raised back to the levels they received before the state started making deep cuts to the education budget several years ago. The poll showed that 59 percent of Californians think the state needs to spend more money on education overall and that 71 percent support the governor’s plan to direct more funding to low-income students and those who don’t speak English fluently.

Significantly, 66 percent said districts with low-income students should get additional funding, even if it means giving less to others. Fifty-four percent said districts with more English learners should get additional funds, even if others get less.

Arun Ramanathan, executive director of the children’s advocacy organization Education Trust-West, said he was surprised, but pleased by these findings.

“It gives me great faith in California and Californians that they’re focused on equity and also focused on the notion that it’s going to take making tough choices,” he said. “Looking at the Legislature’s approval ratings, it would be quite interesting if they went and opposed something that was so clearly popular with California voters.”

The Legislature’s approval rating, as well as its approval rating for how it is handling K-12 education, was 31 percent, according to the survey. Fifty-three percent disapproved of the Legislature overall and half of those surveyed disapproved of the Legislature’s handling of K-12 education.

But Kaplan cautioned that the poll presents state results, which might not reflect the views of voters in some areas.

“They’re reflecting statewide attitudes,” he said. “The elected officials who are debating this proposal are in very particular, distinct geographical areas of the state, so we don’t know what this polling data would look like if it were in a specific Legislative district. The question will be where specific representatives will stand.”

Still, the poll did release some data that narrowed down who supported giving new education funding mostly to districts with more English learners and low-income students. Here’s a rundown of those findings:
- 71 percent of all adults favor (21 percent oppose)
- 60 percent of likely voters favor (31 percent oppose)
- 72 percent of public school parents favor (23 percent oppose)
- 80 percent of Democrats favor (15 percent oppose)
- 45 percent of Republicans favor (42 percent oppose)
- 62 percent of Independents favor (30 percent oppose)
- 73 percent of Asians favor (17 percent oppose)
- 79 percent of Blacks favor (21 percent oppose)
- 88 percent of Latinos favor (8 percent oppose)
- 59 percent of Whites favor (32 percent oppose)
- 83 percent of those with incomes under $40,000 favor (11 percent oppose)
- 68 percent of those with incomes of $40,000-$80,000 favor (25 percent oppose)
- 58 percent of those with incomes of $80,000 or more favor (34 percent oppose)

It also showed what voters from different geographic thought about shifting control over spending to local districts. In the Bay Area, 34 percent of those surveyed said local schools should have the most control over spending, compared to 36 percent statewide. Forty-seven percent of Bay Area respondents said local districts should have more control, compared to 43 percent statewide. And 18 percent said the state should have the most control over spending, compared to 16 percent statewide.

Bay Area voters nearly mirrored statewide results related to giving more flexibility in spending to districts. Seventy-eight percent of Californians and Bay Area residents said districts should get more flexibility, while 17 percent of Californians and 15 percent of Bay Area residents opposed this idea.

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, who heads up the Assembly Education Budget Subcommittee, said she thinks the Legislature could find a way to provide more funding to all districts, while also giving more to those with the neediest students.

“I don’t feel that raising the base rate for all students and meeting the needs of those with huge disparities are mutually exclusive goals,” she said. “I think that we can find a compromise where we can increase the base rate for every student and also put extra money toward our neediest schools and neediest students. What we’re really looking at right now is: Can we build a compromise within the governor’s proposal that would not have undue negative consequences for any particular group of students?”

Here’s a breakdown of more of the survey results:

Do you support the governor’s proposal?

Posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2013
Under: Education, Gov. Jerry Brown, Local Control Funding Formula | 3 Comments »

Live blog of MDUSD 4-25-13 closed session

The Mt. Diablo school board is meeting in closed session tonight to discuss two separate personnel matters and continue discussions regarding a Public Records Act request submitted by Contra Costa Times columnist Dan Borenstein.

Here is the agenda for the meeting, which started at 7 p.m:

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

1.2 Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call Info

2.0 Public Comment
2.1 The public may address the Board concerning items that are scheduled for discussion during closed session only. These presentations are limited to three minutes each, or a total of thirty minutes for all speakers or the three minute limit may be shortened. Speakers are not allowed to yield their time. Info

3.0 Adjourn to Closed Session

3.1 Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint Info
The Board received information relative to a personnel matter.

3.2 Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint Action
Two Certificated Employees: #12428 and #13977
Two employees: #22936 and #28941

3.3 Board Response to the Public Records Act Request of the Contra Costa Times Action
In Closed Session, the Board will receive advice and counsel regarding documents submitted as responsive to the Public Records Act request of Dan Borenstein of the Contra Costa Times.

4.0 Reconvene Open Session
4.1 Report out on Closed Session Info

5.0 Adjournment
5.1 Adjourn meeting Info”

There was no public comment before trustees went into closed session. Here is the audio from the first portion of the meeting: http://www.mdusd.org/boe/Documents/audio/2013/04252013part1.mp3

First, Julie Braun-Martin, assistant superintendent for personnel, met with trustees, presumably to discuss the information received about a personnel matter under Item 3.1.

Next, a man whom Braun-Martin addressed as “Tom,” met with trustees. He brought a rolling cart of documents with him.

Since then, trustees have been behind closed doors. Although Board President Cheryl Hansen initially estimated she would report out around 9 p.m., there is no sign of trustees yet (at 9:10 p.m.)

10:45 p.m. The board voted 3-2 to release the superintendent from his contract by May 1 without cause and 4-1 to release the general counsel from his contract by May 1 without cause. Trustees Linda Mayo and Lynne Dennler voted against releasing the superintendent and Dennler voted against releasing the general counsel.

The board unanimously approved two separation agreements, which trustees plan to sign during a special meeting at 8 p.m. Sunday. Also at that meeting, the board expects to appoint an interim superintendent and to begin its search for a new superintendent.

Do you agree with the board’s decision?

Posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2013
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 118 Comments »

MDUSD board to meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight

The Mt. Diablo school board will hold a regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the board room at the district office, 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord.

Here is the agenda:

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

2.0 Announcements

2.1 In closed session, the Board will consider the items listed on the closed session agenda. Info

3.0 Public Comment
3.1 The public may address the Board concerning items that are scheduled for discussion during closed session only. These presentations are limited to three minutes each, or a total of thirty minutes for all speakers or the three minute limit may be shortened. Speakers are not allowed to yield their time. Info

4.0 Adjourn to Closed Session at 6:00 p.m.
4.1 Negotiations – The Board may discuss negotiations or provide direction to its representatives regarding represented employees, pursuant to EERA (Govt. Code Section 3549.1) Agency negotiators: Julie Braun Martin and Deborah Cooksey. Agencies: MDEA, CSEA, Local One M&O, Local One CST, MDSPA, and Supervisory. Action
4.2 Existing Litigation – Brooktree Homeowners Associatoin v. MDUSD and Northgate Community Pride Foundation Action
4.3 Existing Litigation – Marilyn Jamerson v. MDUSD (EEOC Cases) Three Matters #555-2010-02583, #555-2011-00290, #555-2012-00158 Info
4.4 Anticipated Litigation Info
4.5 Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint Action

5.0 Reconvene Open Session
5.1 Reconvene Open Session at 7:30 p.m. Info

6.0 Preliminary Business
6.1 Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call Info

7.0 Report Out Action Taken in Closed Session
7.1 Negotiations Info
7.2 Existing Litigation Info
7.3 Anticipated Litigation Info
7.4 Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint Info

8.0 Student Representatives
8.1 Student representatives will report on activities at their schools. Info

9.0 Consent Agenda
Action
9.1 (Item #1) Items listed under Consent Agenda are considered routine and will be approved/adopted by a single motion. There will be no separate discussion of these items; however, any item may be removed from the consent agenda upon the request of any member of the Board and acted upon separately. Action
9.2 (Item #2) Minutes of the meetings of March 11 and March 25, 2013 Action
9.3 (Item #3) Recommended Action for Certificated Personnel Action
9.4 (Item #4) Request to increase and decrease Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2013-2014 school year Action
9.5 (Item #5) Recommended Action for Classified Personnel Action
9.6 (Item #6) Classified Personnel: Request to Increase Positions Action
9.7 (Item #7) Fiscal Transactions for the Month of March 2013 Action
9.8 (Item #8) Award of Bid for RFP #1636 – Fire System Testing Action
9.9 (Item #9) Williams Quarterly Summary Report Action
9.10 (Item #10) Award Inspector of Record (Project Inspector) Contract Action
9.11 (Item #11) Agreement between Mt. Diablo Unified School District and Independent Contractor Dr. Mary Bacon Action
9.12 (Item #12) Award Inspector of Record (Project Inspector) Contract Action
9.13 (Item #13) Approval of Master Contract (PO#86799) with 1-on-1 Learning with Laptops, a State Approved Provider of Supplemental Educational Services (SES), to provide tutoring services to eligible students at the nine Title I schools, as follows: Bel Air, Cambridge, Fair Oaks, Meadow Homes, Rio Vista, Shore Acres, and Ygnacio Valley Elementary; and Oak Grove and Riverview View Middle Schools. Action
9.14 (Item #14) Approval of Master Contract (PO#86812) with Extreme Learning DBA Aavanza, a State Approved Provider of Supplemental Educational Services (SES), to the eligible students at the nine Title I schools, as follows: Bel Air, Cambridge, Fair Oaks, Meadow Homes, Rio Vista, Shore Acres, and Ygnacio Valley Elementary; and Oak Grove and Riverview Middle Schools. Action
9.15 (Item #15) Approval of Master Contract (PR#73278) with ! 1 A 1 ! TUTORIA !, a State Approved Provider of Supplemental Educational Services (SES), to provide tutoring services to the eligible students at the nine Title I schools, as follows: Bel Air, Cambridge, Fair Oaks, Meadow Homes, Rio Vista, Shore Acres and Ygnacio Valley Elementary; and Oak Grove and Riverview Middle Schools. Action
9.16 (Item #16) Authorization to submit a USDA Farm to School Planning Grant for Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Action
9.17 (Item #17) Authorization to submit a grant to Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Program for the CARES After School Program Action
9.18 (Item #18) Authorization to submit a grant to the Mt. Diablo Health Care District (MDHCD) for the CARES After School Program. Action
9.19 (Item #19) Workforce Investment Act, Title II: Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, Section 231 and the English Literacy and Civics Education (EL Civics) supplemental funding Action
9.20 (Item #20) First 5 Contra Costa School-Readiness Grant Action
9.21 (Item #21) Increase Contract between Mt. Diablo School District (MSUSD) and Maxim Services, Non Public Agency (NPA) for the 2012-2013 school year Action
9.22 (Item #22) Resolution 12/13-41 Day of the Teacher Action
9.23 (Item #23) Asian Pacific Heritage Month Action

10.0 Consent Items Pulled for Discussion

11.0 Public Comment
11.1 The public may address the Board regarding any item within the jurisdiction of the Board of Education of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District that is not on this agenda. These presentation are limited to three minutes each, or a total of thirty minutes for all speakers, or the three minute limit may be shortened. If there are multiple speakers on any one subject, the public comment period may be moved to the end of the meeting. Speakers are not allowed to yield their time. Info

12.0 Communications

12.1 Alternative Education Foundation – Carol Fidler Info

13.0 Superintendent’s Report
13.1 College Park Basketball Team Info
13.2 Distinguished Schools, College Park High, Diablo View Middle, Foothill Middle Info

14.0 Business/Action Items

14.1 Public presentation of the District’s Initial Successor Agreement Proposal to California School Employees Association (CSEA) Action

14.2 Public presentation of the Initial Successor Agreement Proposal for Public Employees Union Local #1 Clerical, Secretarial and Technical Units (CST) and Mt. Diablo Unified School District’s Initial Successor Agreement Proposal to CST Action

14.3 Public presentation of the Initial Successor Agreement Proposal for Public Employees Union Local #1 Maintenance, Operations, and Facilities/Transportation/Landscape/Warehouse/Food and Nutrition Services/Technology and Information Services/Substitute Custodian and School Bus Driver Units (M&O) and Mt. Diablo Unified School District’s Initial Successor Agreement Proposal to M&O. Action

14.4 Boundary Modification for Bay Point Elementary Schools Info

14.5 Proposed Membership Reconstitution of Budget Advisory Committee Action

14.6 New Members on Budget Advisory Committee Action

14.7 National Association of College Admission Counselors (NACAC) Action

14.8 Approval of Non-Public School Adjustments Action

14.9 Creation of a New Job Description for Administrator of Equity and Disproportionality Info

14.10 Healthy Schools Act Update – Pesticide Spraying Info

14.11 College Park High School Attendance Boundaries Update Info

14.12 Meeting Extension Action

15.0 Future Agenda Items
15.1 Graduation Requirements Info
15.2 Board Goals 2013-2014 Info
15.3 Mt. Diablo High School Academy Info

16.0 Board Member Reports
16.1 Board reports Info

17.0 Closed Session
17.1 Items not completed during the first Closed Session will be carried over to this closed session. Action

18.0 Adjournment
18.1 Adjourn Meeting Info”

What is the most interesting thing to you on tonight’s agenda?

11:57 pm UPDATE: Here’s a recap of what happened:

(I arrived after the report out of closed session and the student rep comments)

Posted on Monday, April 22nd, 2013
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 58 Comments »

MDUSD special board meeting tonight regarding strategic plan, closed session for action on dismissal of two employees and negotiations

The Mt. Diablo school board will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. tonight to discuss the strategic plan, before going into closed session to consider and act on the dismissal of two contract employees and to act on union negotiations. The public is invited to speak before the board acts on these items. The board is expected to report out its actions after the closed session.

Here is the agenda for the meeting, which will take place in the district office at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord:

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

1.2 Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call Info

2.0 Public Comment
2.1 The public may address the Board regarding any item within the jurisdiction of the Board of Education of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. These presentations are limited to three minutes each, or a total of thirty minutes for all speakers, or the three minute limit may be shortened. Speakers are not allowed to yield their time. Info

3.0 Business/Action Items

3.1 Strategic Plan Action

4.0 Public Comment
4.1 The public may address the Board concerning items that are scheduled for discussion during closed session only. These presentations are limited to three minutes each, or a total of thirty minutes for all speakers or the three minute limit may be shortened. Speakers are not allowed to yield their time. Info

5.0 Adjourn to Closed Session

5.1 Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release Action

5.2 Negotiations Action

6.0 Reconvene Open Session

6.1 Report Out Action Taken in Closed Session Info

7.0 Adjournment
7.1 Adjourn meeting. Info”

Do you agree with the board’s decision to discuss the strategic plan before this closed session?

Posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2013
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 150 Comments »

YVHS performing arts department presents ‘Guys and Dolls’ this weekend!

Gerardo Valencia as Skye Masterson rehearses with Lauren Hiller as Sarah Abernathy for Guys and Dolls at YVHS.

Ygnacio Valley High teacher Kelly Cooper sent me the following information in an email about the upcoming production of “Guys and Dolls” at the school. The show starts this weekend and continues next weekend.

“Would love to get the word out about the annual spring musical at Ygnacio Valley High School, ‘Guys and Dolls’! Show opens this Friday April 20th at 7:30, Saturday 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Friday April 26th 7:30 p.m., Saturday April 27th 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for students, ($8 and $5 for matinees).

Directed by Tracey Garber, Choreography by Kelly Cooper, Musical Direction by Geoff Carter.”

Coincidentally, I played flute and piccolo in the pit orchestra for this show at my high school when I was a freshman and I still have very fond memories of the classic Broadway musical. It’s high-energy, with lots of action, great music and an engaging plot.

“Luck be a lady” at YVHS!

Although there is a very strong emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (or STEM) in education today, many people realize that the arts are also important. This has resulted in a new acronym called STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).

Here’s a recent U.S. Department of Education blog post about the importance of arts education: http://www.ed.gov/blog/2013/04/arts-education-and-advocacy-an-investment-in-every-childs-future/

Do you think arts are as important as core high school subjects?

Posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2013
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 2 Comments »

A closer look at graduation and dropout rates in Contra Costa County

The state’s annual release of graduation and dropout rates earlier this week showed that graduation rates improved in four Contra Costa County districts, but dropped in five.

On the other side of the spectrum, dropout rates improved in six districts, grew worse in two and remained the same in one.

On both measures, overall countywide results were stronger than those statewide, with 83.5 percent of students graduating in four years in Contra Costa County, compared to 78.5 percent throughout California. Of the nine county districts that include high schools, three had graduation rates that fell below the state average, while six exceeded it.

Statewide, a higher percentage of students graduated in 2012 than in 2011, while fewer dropped out, said Tom Torlakson, state Superintendent of Public Instruction, when he released the results Tuesday.

“While I am glad to announce that we are moving in the right direction,” he said, “the fact remains that we must keep moving to ensure that every California student graduates ready to succeed in the world they will find outside our classrooms.”

Here’s how Contra Costa County districts stacked up in 2011 and 2012. Please note that the two percentages don’t add up to 100 because they don’t account for students who have left California or are still in school.

Acalanes: 97.3 percent graduation rate in 2012, up from 96.7 in 2011; 1.3 percent dropout rate in 2012, same as 2011 rate.

Antioch: 74.5 percent graduation rate in 2012, up from 73.8 in 2011; 14.6 percent dropout rate in 2012, down from 18.0 percent in 2011.

John Swett: 87.7 percent graduation rate in 2012, up from 87.6 percent in 2011; 8.5 percent dropout rate in 2012, down from 8.8 percent in 2011.

Liberty: 85.4 percent graduation rate in 2012, down from 85.6 percent in 2011; 4.0 dropout rate in 2012, down from 5.2 in 2011.

Martinez: 85.0 percent graduation rate in 2012, down from 89.9 in 2011; 8.8 dropout rate in 2012, up from 4.2 in 2011.

Mt. Diablo: 81.1 percent graduation rate in 2012, down from 81.9 in 2011; 14.2 percent dropout rate in 2012, up from 11.7 in 2011.

Pittsburg: 70.1 percent graduation rate in 2012, up from 66.0 in 2011; 21.3 percent dropout rate in 2012, down from 25.9 percent in 2011.

San Ramon Valley: 97.0 graduation rate in 2012, down from 97.1 in 2011; 1.6 percent dropout rate in 2012, up from 1.5 in 2011.

West Contra Costa: 75.2 percent graduation rate in 2012, down from 77.0 percent in 2011; 18.6 percent dropout rate in 2012, up from 18.1 percent in 2011.

Contra Costa County: 83.5 percent graduation rate in 2012, up from 83.1 percent in 2011; 10.1 percent dropout rate in 2012, down from 10.6 percent in 2011.

State: 78.5 percent graduation rate in 2012, up from 77.1 percent in 2011; 13.2 percent dropout rate in 2012, down from 14.7 in 2011.

Alameda County districts in the Tri-Valley area surpassed the statewide results as well as those countywide. Here’s how they compared:

Dublin: 92.3 percent graduation rate in 2012, down from 92.7 percent in 2011; 4.1 percent dropout rate in 2012, up from 2.1 percent in 2011.

Livermore Valley: 90.8 percent graduation rate in 2012, down from 91.1 percent in 2011; 7.5 percent dropout rate in 2012, up from 7.0 percent in 2011.

Pleasanton: 95.7 graduation rate in 2012, up from 95.6 in 2011; 2.1 percent dropout rate in 2012, same as 2011 rate.

Alameda County: 79.4 percent graduation rate in 2012, up from 78.0 percent in 2011; 13.4 percent dropout rate in 2012, down from 15.1 percent in 2011.

Complete statewide results are available by visiting http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest. Select “district” or “school” and “graduates.”

What do you think East Bay high schools could do to further improve graduation rates and prevent dropouts?

Posted on Friday, April 12th, 2013
Under: Education | 41 Comments »

Live blog of 4-11-13 MDUSD Closed Session

The Mt. Diablo school board heard four public comments before going into closed session to act on employee discipline, dismissal, release or complaint.

Here is a recap of the public comments:

1. Sherry Whitmarsh, YVHS parent and former MDUSD trustee:

“Board members, I’m here as an extremely concerned parent. Once again, this board spends time harassing employees instead of working on issues that help students succeed. It’s obvious that you don’t value parents’ input because of the lack of notice afforded parents about this meeting. As a matter of fact, the print version in the Times today was very different than the version that appeared on the Electronic School Board at this point in time.
It also appears that many of you are reading the nameless blogs that are out there. Well, I’m here to show you that there are parents who are concerned and are willing to state our names and talk to you in person. Dr. Lawrence worked with the CUES group, including Kish Rajan, to pass Measure C, which reduced the PG&E bill to our district, brought air conditioning to our schools, gave science labs to our high schools and provided various improvements. Very vocal against this was the taxpayer groups and the Contra Costa Times – two of the vocal groups against Dr. Lawrence. Dr. Lawrence also allows principals to run schools based upon the communities they serve. Parents appreciate this. He meets with feeder patterns, gives us honest feedback, and engages us in meaningful dialogue – unlike this board. He respects us and cares about our children.
Mr. Rolen is also being questioned by you. Think back to the money that you could have spent on outside fees. Mr. Rolen brought in Deb Cooksey and reduced millions of dollars for her ability in negotiations and investigations. As a matter of fact, the board violated the Brown Act by voting on an informational item at the March 11 meeting. Now, if you are being swayed by the article in the Times against Mr. Rolen and Ms. Padilla, I think that you should be aware of the facts. CTI lost three major clients in 2008 and laid off Ms. Padilla. She formed her own company, AIS, in 2009, and was provided the translation services to major law firms and an insurance company. AIS was hired by our special ed department in 2010. The contract was reviewed by the general counsel, but this contract was done by the special ed department. No concerns were voiced from Wing D at the time. In 2012, she and Mr. Rolen were married and he announced it at the first board meeting since the wedding took place.
Please note: your agenda tonight has one employee, not plural, it doesn’t say employees. It says employee. There is no employee number. You have no counsel here to assist you in legal issues for closed session for public employee dismissal complaint. I ask that you please stop this harassment of these two staff members and stop introducing legal risk into this district and focus on educating our students. Thank you.”

2. Ilana Samuels, YVHS parent:

“My name is Ilana Samuels. Hello, Mt. Diablo school board members. I am glad to have the opportunity to speak to you this evening. My understanding is that tonight you are going to consider tonight letting go of some key district staff, including our superintendent. How can you do that without hearing from as many of the stakeholders in this district as you possibly can? As elected officials, are you confident that this is what our community wants? I don’t believe it is. I find it ironic that for a board who claims to care so much about transparency, that you would make a decision like this with so little notice or information to the community. Today, I wrote you all an email. Within a few hours, I had the permission of 33 constituents to add their names….”

3. Mary Gray, CPHS and Sequoia MS and Sequoia Elem. parent: spoke in support of superintendent.

4. John Parker: MDHS area resident: Asked board to carefully consider decisions.

At about 10:30 p.m., Hansen reported that the board agreed to give direction to staff. After her announcement, she said the board would continue discussing the same two employees during another closed session Tuesday, April 16. She said she hopes to post that agenda Friday.

I will post the videos in about half an hour.

Do you agree with the public speaker comments?

Posted on Thursday, April 11th, 2013
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 77 Comments »

MDUSD closed session regarding employee discipline or release starts at 8:30 p.m.

Please note that the Mt. Diablo school board’s closed session meeting originally scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. tonight has been changed to 8:30 p.m. to accommodate the schedule of one trustee who couldn’t make it at the earlier time, according to Board President Cheryl Hansen.

In a voicemail message, Hansen said the meeting is an extension of the closed session held March 27 involving two contracted employees.

Here is the agenda for the meeting, which takes place at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord:

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

1.2 Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call Info

2.0 Public Comment
2.1 The public may address the Board concerning items that are scheduled for discussion during closed session only. These presentations are limited to three minutes each, or a total of thirty minutes for all speakers or the three minute limit may be shortened. Speakers are not allowed to yield their time. Info

3.0 Adjourn to Closed Session

3.1 Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint Action

4.0 Report of Closed Session
4.1 Report out on Closed Session Info

5.0 Adjournment

5.1 Adjourn meeting Info”

I received copies of two emails sent to the board today regarding this meeting, which is widely believed to be related to Superintendent Steven Lawrence and General Counsel Greg Rolen, whom three of the district’s five trustees have expressed an interest in replacing.

One email urged the board to retain Lawrence and Rolen, while the other asked the board to seek new administrative leadership.

The public is invited to comment before trustees go behind closed doors. The board expects to report out any action taken after the closed session.

I will attend and videotape the public portions of the meeting. I will also file an online story if it’s not too late, or blog and tweet the outcome.

At Monday’s board meeting, Trustee Brian Lawrence (who is no relation to the superintendent) publicly announced that he is interested in seeking new district administrative leaders. He said it was his idea to go into closed session after the March 25 meeting to discuss personnel issues. He also cautioned the board against making personal attacks.

Here’s what he said:

“Two weeks ago, I made a statement that I believed it was the job of this board to always be questioning the leadership of this district, that it was the most important job that a school board has. And, two of my colleagues have stated that they believe that it is in the best interests of the district to have a change in leadership. I’ve refrained from speaking about that publicly because, partly I felt that that should be taking place in closed session.
What I’ve heard over the last few weeks — there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding that. So, I do want to just state very briefly I too have great concern that the district is not heading in the right direction and needs a change in the top leadership. And because of that, I requested prior to our last meeting that we — the board – enter into closed session for consideration of personnel matters at the end of the last meeting. And that is not something that I did lightly. It has very large repercussions.
And, at the same time, I wanted to take a moment because — what I’ve seen in the last several weeks is there have been a lot of personal attacks. And I truly believe every single person in this room is here because they’re doing what they believe is in the best interests of children. And we might have different views of how we achieve that…”

He stressed that employees are human beings with families.

“So, I hope that even as we figure out what is the best direction to move forward in the district, that we can do it in a constructive and positive manner. Thank you.”

Do you believe it is appropriate for trustees to state the reasons behind their decisions to replace or retain district leaders?

Posted on Thursday, April 11th, 2013
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 20 Comments »

A closer look at how well unified districts in Contra Costa County are educating low-income and minority students

Last week, the student advocacy group Education Trust-West released its third annual report cards for the largest unified districts in the state, showing how well they educate low-income and minority students.

Here’s a look at the Contra Costa County districts included, showing whether or not they improved between 2011 and 2012. The organization assigned overall letter grades as well as numerical rankings for categories, based on standardized test scores, academic improvement over five years, the size of achievement gaps, and college readiness. Note: This was the first year the report included college readiness and high school graduation data.

ANTIOCH: Overall grade: D+ (up from D in 2011)
Performance among students of color: C (up from D in 2011)
Performance among low-income students: C (up from D in 2011)
Improvement among students of color: D (same, but rank of 128 up from 135)
Improvement among low-income students: D (same, but rank of 127 up from 129)
African-American and white achievement gap: D (up from F)
Latino and white achievement gap: B (up from C in 2011)
College eligibility among students of color: F (rank 135 of 142)
High school graduation among students of color: D (rank 129 of 143)

MT. DIABLO: Overall grade: D+ (up from D in 2011)
Performance among students of color: C (up from D in 2011)
Performance among low-income students: C (up from D in 2011)
Improvement among students of color: C (same, but rank of 44 up from 63)
Improvement among low-income students: B (up from C in 2011)
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)
High school graduation among students of color: C (rank 120 of 143)

PITTSBURG: Overall grade: C- (up from D+ in 2010) (No data from 2011)
Performance among students of color: C (up from D in 2010)
Performance among low-income students: C (same, rank of 107 up from 110)
Improvement among students of color: C (same, but rank dropped to 60 from 48)
Improvement among low-income students: C (but rank dropped to 61 from 48)
African-American and white achievement gap: C (up from D)
Latino and white achievement gap: B (up from C in 2010)
College eligibility among students of color: F (rank 134 of 142)
High school graduation among students of color: D (rank 137 of 143)

SAN RAMON VALLEY: Overall grade: B- (up from C+ in 2011)
Performance among students of color: A (same, but rank of 3 up from 4 in 2011)
Performance among low-income students: A (same, but rank of 5 up from 18)
Improvement among students of color: D (same, but rank of 136 up from 141)
Improvement among low-income students: C (but rank of 118 up from 119 in 2011)
African-American and white achievement gap: C (up from D)
Latino and white achievement gap: B (same, rank dropped)
College eligibility among students of color: B (rank 6 of 142)
High school graduation among students of color: A (rank 1 of 143)

WEST CONTRA COSTA: Overall grade: D- (down from D in 2011)
Performance among students of color: D (same, rank dropped to 148 from 145)
Performance among low-income students: D (same, rank dropped to 147 from 145)
Improvement among students of color: D (dropped from C in 2011)
Improvement among low-income students: D (down from C in 2011)
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: D (rank 69 of 142)
High school graduation among students of color: D (rank 130 of 143)

The complete report cards are at http://reportcards.edtrustwest.org.

How could districts improve instruction for low-income and minority students?

Posted on Sunday, April 7th, 2013
Under: Antioch school district, Contra Costa County, Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Pittsburg school district, San Ramon Valley school district, West Contra Costa school district | 44 Comments »