Part of the Bay Area News Group

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

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 at 2:50 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

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?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

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

  1. Doctor J Says:

    Last time I checked, Dent was located in Concord. :-)

  2. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Oops. I was obviously thinking about last night’s meeting. I have corrected the error. Thanks.

  3. Doctor J Says:

    Pension spiking in California school districts.

  4. Anon Says:

    They’re expecting lengthy Public Comment and there are rumors about an email campaign to support the superintendent. Too bad the majority who voted for Hansen and Oaks and who want the two kingpins terminated will stay silent because of the pervasive fear of retaliation. We’re trusting the board will do the right thing.

  5. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s reporter Lisa White’s story on the joint MDUSD meeting with the Pleasant Hill City Council:

  6. Wendy Lack Says:

    @ Anon #4:

    If the Board retains the Superintendent and General Counsel, they’ll have lots of ‘splaining to do — and much to answer for.

    A vote to support the status quo is a vote to support mediocrity and corruption. Surely a majority of the Trustees grasp this.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    I think the Board realizes that those who do not support the two employees and have valid complaints are unwilling to come forward in public out of fear of retaliation. Theresa Harrington referenced a discussion along these lines at the Board retreat. While there may be public comment in favor of Lawrence (no mention made re Rolen), no one knows what information has been submitted to the Board against these employees. Don’t be surprised to see administrative leave and an investigation to support a dismissal for one or both.

  8. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It’s my understanding that Dan Borenstein may have received letters for and against the contract extensions as a result of his PRA. I haven’t seen them, yet, however. I believe some names may have been redacted. Also, I received a copy of an email sent to the board in favor of dismissing the superintendent, but that person did not want me to post it with the name.

  9. Anon Says:

    I truly hope that this board gets rid of these jokers so we can start cleaning up the mess they have made! Our children deserve better than this.

  10. Teacher Says:

    The majority of “our children” are not suffering due to the personality conflicts and egos of the few people who write on these blogs! The majority of students are being taught by highly qualified, loving, caring teachers who go to work every day with the best of intentions, trying to make their classrooms a supportive environment for students to learn. Of course there
    will always be exceptions. Students are learning despite the rantings of a few adults. Could things be better at District Office? Could staff make better decisions? The answer is yes. I challenge anyone who participates on these blogs to prove to the public that they never make a mistake, a wrong decision, or statements/actions they wish they could take back.

    We are all suppose to be in this together doing what is right for kids. That is what the majority of staff in MDUSD does everyday. I’d love to see the day when the energy put in here focusing on the negative turns into focusing on the positives in ths district and there are many!

  11. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The board is discussing how to accomplish that right now, as it is going over the strategic plan. But, there are only two people in the audience besides me and one of them is a district administrator.
    Superintendent Steven Lawrence and General Counsel Greg Rolen are not present, but the rest of the cabinet is here.

    Hansen said they expect to discuss the strategic plan until about 7:30 pm.

  12. Wait a Minute Says:

    I wonder who that other (non-administrator) is?

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Teacher @ 10, I agree there is ranting on this board that is over the top at times. However, there are also significant concerns voiced about misuse of power, abuse of public funds, back door deals, and violation of conflict of interest and fiduciary trust, in a word, ethics. You fail to even mention the significant ethical concerns raised on this board. Three reasoned board members are not concerned about personality conflicts; they are concerned about serious issues. Misconduct and violation of conflict of interest laws is not the same as making a mistake. Would you want a teacher retained who consistently violated the bargaining agreement, lied about sick leave and other issues, stole from her students, and had her student assistant do her taxes in class? Probably not.

  14. Anon Says:

    Teacher 10. You are right that there are many teachers doing the best they can with what they have. I personally want the top admins to quit stealing from the classrooms so that we can get the right materials for the teachers to do a better job.
    I do not believe the students are getting what they need regardless if they have a great teacher. If the teachers don’t have what they need all of our students are suffering.

  15. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Trustees unanimously agreed to adopt staff’s version of strategic plan, with minor revisions. The board is now in closed session. There was no public comment. Hansen estimates the board may report out around 9 pm.
    I believe the other non-administrator is a dist employee. The admin was Felicia Stuckey-Smith.
    Surprisingly, Lois Peterson just poked her head into the board room and said: “There was a meeting tonight?”

  16. g Says:

    Lisa white’s story melded two concerns I have not heard discussed as ‘one’ issue. The two items, NCLB & 1575 are very directly related.

    While a school populated by only neighborhood students might easily be able to raise funds and afford many extracurricular activities–camp, field trips, etc. for their children, a heavy influx of students from an entirely different demographic–both financial and social–could weigh very negatively on the ability of a school to provide for “all or none.”

  17. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, and David Durant said that could stigmatize the entire school. The suggestion was made to fundraise broadly instead of specifically. This reminds me of the idea that CHS science teacher Ernie Liu and former YVHS parent Teresa Torbett brought up years ago — the “give and save” campaign. After the parcel tax failed, they asked people to give the $94 they would have paid for the parcel tax to the district to help save jobs. But, the idea fell flat when trustees failed to tell the public how they would spend the money raised through this campaign. Instead, individual schools raised money to save jobs at their own sites. Many in Pleasant Hill were very successful at this. I’m not sure if those in Concord or Bay Point, however, had any luck doing this. The basic issue back then was that the public didn’t trust the district to spend their money wisely. Would such a campaign have any more success now?
    Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek have education foundations. But, many districts have districtwide foundations. In MDUSD, the music foundation and UMDAF are districtwide, but for the rest — individual schools are communities are on their own.

  18. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It turns out that Joe Estrada was livestreaming the strategic plan portion of the meeting and he plans to livestream the report out of closed session. He has already posted the first portion of the meeting at:

  19. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    What is the live stream address TH?

  20. Theresa Harrington Says:

  21. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Thank you :)

  22. Teacher Says:

    The truth is the students who would benefit the most from extracurricular activities, field trips, or camp are the students who can least afford it. We need to come up with a way to support all students and give those who need it the most the same opportunities as the rest of the students. We would all be better off by helping our children experience things in the best way possible. This is suppose to be a unified school district. Let’s do what is right for ALL students!

  23. g Says:

    Teacher, not meaning to be personal since we don’t know if you work in this district or not, but look at it this way. In Feb, 2011 the district closed two schools to save what they ‘estimated’ would be $1.5 million–while losing more than that in SIG funds. Teachers, parents and staff fought for “their” school to be spared and the others be damned.

    Less than a year later when those same teachers and staff found that the District had been hoarding funds, they were the first in line with their hand out.

    MDEA and CSEA and DMA could have taken an altruistic “kids first” attitude–they could have demanded funds be set aside specifically for a few more teachers, TAs or smaller classes, or yes, to a districtwide SBA to supplement extracurricular for all.

    Did they? No. Me First! Many, Many Million$.

    Just as they demanded that the District “pay up”, they could have said that since this was all ‘public education’ money, it should be more broadly spent for public education benefit.

  24. Anon Says:

    Is there any indication that they will report out soon?

  25. Doctor J Says:

    I guess the final insult to the children was the willingness of Steven Lawrence to donate $5000 unbudgeted money to the MDEA Academy Awards when he claims there isn’t money to pay for projector bulbs for the classrooms.

  26. g Says:

    If he did use General Fund money, and any portion of that money goes toward “gifts or prizes” he may well have violated Article 16, Section 6, of the California Constitution – (gift of public funds to an individual or corporation.)

  27. Theresa Harrington Says:

    They’re back, looking for Joe Estrada.

  28. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Report was that board continued discussion of first closed session item as listed on the agenda and on negotiations, the board finalized its goals, expectations and core values that it will act from for negotiations.
    After the announcement, Board President Cheryl Hansen said she expects to hold another closed session regarding the personnel matter sometime next week.

  29. Anon Says:

    So nothing still. We have no idea what is happening

  30. Doctor J Says:

    what happened ?

  31. Anon Says:

    How many meetings does it take. Make a decision and get on with it.

  32. Anon Says:

    Dr. J. Apparently another meeting and more time for unethical behavior.

  33. Theresa Harrington Says:

    At least they finally have a strategic plan that they’re ready to start implementing.

  34. g Says:

    I think I hear the fat lady singing.

  35. Anon Says:

    Theresa 33, who was at the Pleasant Hill meeting last night? Were Lawrence, Cooksey and Rolen all at the meeting?

  36. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon, I wasn’t at the PH meeting, but reporter Lisa White told me Supt Lawrence and Deb Cooksey were there. She doesn’t know what Greg Rolen looks like, but she said if he was there, he didn’t speak.
    I asked Hansen why the supt and Rolen weren’t at tonight’s strategic plan meeting and she said she didn’t know, but thought perhaps it had been handed off to staff. She said Rolen wasn’t involved in the earlier strategic plan meetings. However, the superintendent was.

  37. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s my recap of tonight’s meeting:

    Please note that I called in the information to an editor and he accidentally referred to the strategic plan as a “general plan.” I’ll correct that tomorrow.

  38. Star Says:

    “Teacher” #10. Please read the blog comments under both “Live Blog of 4-11-13 MDUSD Closed Session…” and “Mt. Diablo Top Admin Leadership”. These are NOT personality or ego conflicts at their core. There are serious problems. I guarantee if you knew all the things NOT posted regarding the Dent and your personal information, you would not be happy. I am not referring to the “lost” laptop. Certainly there are fabulous teachers. This is so much more than dirty, abusive, lying, or just plain detached management. It will get to you, personally, if it hasn’t already. Employees need state or federal help. It would be better if the board facilitated this by bringing in an investigator – not hired by the very people they would like to report! Lois Peterson has a credibility issue and surely knew about the meeting. Mgmt, by not responding to the board, making little quips, trying to “restructure” as a way of deflecting from the real issues, losing information, punishing those who have spoken to law enforcement/board/media……all signs of worry. If the board does not start cleaning up, they may be seen as ineffective or complicit. You see Dr. Lawrence still has not sent the CFO back to his office to do his job. He has not removed questionable managers. He has made no attempt to interface, that I have heard of, with employees directly. He has not brought in a clean investigative team to learn what is happening. He has not stopped abusive managers. He has not weeded out the few employees who need to go, either. He has known what is happening for some time and chose not to do a turnaround.

  39. Anon Says:

    g @34, I don’t hear the fat lady singing; I hear silence. Is there something you know beyond the report outs from board meetings? Or are you making a judgment call from the little we know?

  40. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s the link to video of the joint Pleasant Hill City Council/MDUSD meeting Monday:

  41. Anon Says:

    Does anyone know if Lawrence and Rolen are at work today?

  42. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I don’t know. But, in looking at the Pleasant Hill meeting video, it appears that Deb Cooksey was seated at the dais in place of Greg Rolen.

  43. Anon Says:

    This group of Bryan Richards minions obviously does not fear the board. Let’s face facts. Nothing done. Now what? Now we have these overpaid, abusive, and completely inept in some cases, managers and no resistance from the board. Now what? I read the plan and “Yes!” but we all already knew what was SUPPOSED to be happening. Same people, same district. Why pay an employee hundreds of thousands of dollars and then babysit them, essentially paying two employees (PAYROLL!) to do one job. Reinventing titles and performing questionable work – all to keep $$$ going to the group. Maybe we need to do a “plan” for the board, so they too have a goal and direction. Theresa, do you know if anyone at the state, federal, representative level reads the blogs? I am sitting on something but do not want to put the person at risk. It warrants investigation as does the duo Payroll managers, hiding behind never-before-needed positions doing work supposedly at a clerical level. This means the district is paying almost $200,000 to supervise 6 people? No more lies, we need an independent investigation. I am trying to get a little more information from my friend at Oakland but why do these things pass the smell test here and nowhere else? Really, really was looking forward to Brian Lawrence leading things but now I don’t know what to think.

  44. Wendy Lack Says:

    @ TH #42:

    I did not see Greg Rolen at the Pleasant Hill meeting Monday evening.

  45. Doctor J Says:

    Very professional joint PH/MDUSD meeting. But the one elephant in the room that was not bought up: Why does MDUSD have the largest number of Program Improvement schools in the bay area, and WHY have none of the PI schools ever advanced out of PI ? Under Steven Lawrence’s leadership, even the district became PI. It was very clear that Pleasant Hill was NOT happy that such a large percentage of NCLB children were being sent to Pleasant Hill schools which means the teachers have to spend more time catching those students up instead of paying more attention to the high achievers. And it was very clear that Pleasant Hill residents felt it was unfair that Northgate got a higher percentage of high school counselors because it could raise more money easier. It was pretty obvious that the public felt that schools in more affluent areas should share their fundraising on a district basis, not not a neighborhood basis. Tough but fair questions from the PH City Counsel. Mostly bull sh$t answers from MDUSD staff and the city council knew it.

  46. g Says:

    The issues raised were on point and the questions merited equally thoughtful responses. What they got was fine if you don’t mind getting your answers from an automaton.

    Drop a quarter in and push play.

  47. g Says:

    Rose Lock gave her portion a good go considering the limitations she has to work within.

  48. Doctor J Says:

    I really thought the Pleasant Hill community commission members were extremely well preprared, presentened the issues straightforward, and the City Council members asked very direct questions but got the standard BS answers from staff. Rose Lock, in front of her vindictive boss, gave as much information as she could.

  49. Anon Says:

    Does anyone else here think this constantly continued board discussion about dismissal is going nowhere? It seems to me its being done to placate those who want new leadership, but nothing is really going to happen. J, G, anyone, what are your thoughts?

  50. anonymous Says:

    Memphis IRS workers are being prosecuted for stealing benefits. A prosecutor reacted to complaints and ended up stopping a taxpayer rip off. If Concord PD doesn’t want to touch a school district and the D.A., right or wrong, is seen as “Rolen” territory, where do employees who see real wrong-doing go? The management has become callous regarding the ID thefts and no longer wants to be bothered. Every day the board keeps them employed is another bad day for the taxpayers and the district. Right now, they have done many things to be fired for – perhaps even prosecuted. Personnel Department? Don’t count on them, either. These managers and employees are now being kept in place by a board obsessed with possible frivolous lawsuits.

  51. Brian Lawrence Says:

    I recognize that it appears the Board is having lots of closed session meetings without results. However, when it comes to personnel matters, it is important that we take the necessary time to do things correctly. We certainly have ample recent evidence of what happens when you rush through these matters.

    If inappropriate things are happening in the District and need to be reported, if you feel that you are not getting a response through normal administrative channels, I’m always available. My email address is and my phone number is 925-526-5354. Board President Hansen’s email is

  52. Doctor J Says:

    Brian, please let me point out some “little things” — and yes the public is very frustrated because this is prime season for recruiting a new Superintendent.

    Why wouldn’t the Supt and General Counsel be present the other night for the discussion on the “Strategic Plan” ?

    Let me quote a small portion of Board By-law 9324 on “Minutes” “The secretary of the Governing Board shall keep minutes and record all official Board actions. (Education Code 35145, 35163) Copies of the minutes of each regular or special meeting shall be distributed to all Board members with the agenda for the next regular meeting. Any minutes or recordings kept for Board meetings held in closed session shall be kept separate from the minutes or recordings of regular and special meetings.”

    Who is responsible for making sure the Minutes are taken ? Steven Lawrence. And the originals are supposed to be locked up in a fireproof safe. Are they ?

    Brian, please tell me when the last time minutes of “Special Board Meetings” were kept and approved ? These By-laws are not “special” to MDUSD — they are all taken from “boilerplate” by-laws drafted by the California Association of School Boards — ironically headquartered in West Sacramento [Steven Lawrence’s last district]. Steven, Greg and Deborah have proved over and over again they are unfamiliar with them or just choose to ignore them. They are supposed to be reviewed every two years. CSBA puts our revisions every year, but tell me the last time the Board was asked to adopt a CSBA revision [other than AB1575 which was two weeks after the legal deadline.

    Minutes are to be presented and approved at the NEXT regular board meeting. Last minute Steven is more than a month behind on Board minutes. On April 8 no minutes appeared on the agenda. The last minutes to appear on an agenda were the minutes of February 25 which showed up on March 25, two meetings late. On March 11 the minutes of January 28 were presented. On Febriary 25 the minutes of January 14 were presented.


    I realize in the grand scheme of things that “minutes” might not seem like the most important thing in education, but Steven Lawrence’s habitual disdain for detail and legal requirements is really getting old. I know he delegates this to his “Gang of Five” secretary, Ms. Joseph, who is one of the persons who got a raise [albeit the smallest] but this is just another example of Steven Lawrence not knowing how to supervise and delegate — he abdicates.

  53. Brian Lawrence Says:

    Small things matter- it is like the broken windows philosophy when it comes to crime prevention. I’ll follow up on the minutes and provide a response. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  54. Doctor J Says:

    Thank you Brian. For a mere $750 CSBA will do an audit on MDUSD By-laws to see which are up to date and which are not. I guarantee you that is much cheaper than having Greg or Deb do it ! Here is the link.

  55. Sue Berg Says:

    Yes, Dr. J, the Superintendent’s secretary was compensated three years ago with a whopping raise of $1,700 a year for having her workload nearly doubled after the Board cut the senior support position in that office. In a critical office where two of us often worked more than 40 hours a week, there is now just one.

    As the employee once responsible for attending Board meetings and producing the minutes, I know how hard it was to keep the records up-to-date when the Board met only twice a month. The current Board seems to meet weekly, if not more. The secretary is responsible for producing the agendas and minutes for each of these meetings while also responding to all the other demands of an office for the head of a multi-million dollar public organization and its board of trustees.

    Re: your comment #45:
    1) The City of Walnut Creek has long provided funding to support counselors at the Walnut Creek schools. Theresa can confirm if this continues to be the case.
    2) I take issue with the assumption you and some who attended the Pleasant Hill-MDUSD meeting state: that students transferring from PI schools need “catching up” when they get to non-PI schools. There certainly are good teachers, avid students, and involved parents at PI schools. Two of my grandchildren attend one in another district. They are at or above grade level in every subject area. Their teachers are excellent and parents actively raise funds for school supplies and programs. You, Dr J, who seem to know a lot about government grants, know that a school’s designation of PI is typically based on a subgroup’s performance, not on the majority of students. Painting all students from a PI school as being in need of “catching up” is impressionism, not realism.

    By the way, MDUSD has a great success story in a school’s subgroup performance: Bel Air Elementary closed its achievement gap last year. I’m still waiting for that good news story to get some press.

  56. Sue Berg Says:

    Dr J, #54: Sorry, can’t let that stand. A CSBA audit may identify needs for new and/or revised policies and by-laws, but the actual project to make the changes costs upwards of $10,000. MDUSD undertook such a project with CSBA’s assistance early in Gary McHenry’s tenure. The policies/by-laws fill two 4-inch binders. Staff from every department–personnel, business, curriculum, student services, special ed, maintenance, superintendent/Board–went through every page. With federal and state legislators continually passing new laws, keeping those documents up-to-date is a constant challenge. And each new and revised document has to go to the Board at least twice in order to be adopted. This task is staff- and time-intensive. In some districts, a retired administrator or board member has volunteered to manage the “policy project.” But assistance from CSBA, which has a whole department dedicated to policy maintenance, is necessary and costly.

  57. Doctor J Says:

    @SB#55 Wait until you see the STAR results this year. If they are like the “testing” you will need to see your doctor. Don’t be so cocky. I am sorry you were a victim of Gary Eberhart. You were a valuable MDUSD employee. If I was a parent of a child in a PI school, I would definitely transfer them to a quality school. I am still waiting for an explanation of why Steven Lawrence can dontate $5,000 to Academy Awards but can’t pay for classroom projector bulbs ? WTH ?

  58. Doctor J Says:

    @SueBerg#56 Its been over ten years now. Its time to get up to date. Also, its time that the Board Counsel do their job instead of spending most of their time in court on their own divorce as a result of infidelity.

  59. g Says:

    So you see Dr. J, if it costs a lot of time and/or money to enforce basic ethical standards and legal compliance maybe we should just forget it and accept the status quo.

    Likewise, I suppose no one on our sitting board should ask the County to contract with FCMAT to do a complete forensic audit to look at legal department expenditures OR personnel bribery and fraud against the taxpayers. An audit like that would cost in the neighborhood of $200K and only result in “recommendations” of collecting reimbursement of the ill-gotten taxpayer funds.

    Then again, that amount is still far less than the amount of the bribe.

    If such a Bribery case ended in either state or federal court based on Theft of Honest Services, in addition to possible criminal charges, the amount of the fraud would likely be ordered repaid either by the employee who first proposed the bribe, and the person who then accepted it, or maybe even personally by ALL persons who conspired to use taxpayer funds to pay the bribe as a means to cover-up even more egregeous claims.

    Certainly, in the case at hand, it would be much more advisable for the board to throw open the book of Ethical Conduct, come clean with the taxpayers, immediately Cease and Desist on any further bribery payments, and allow all parties involved to just call it a day.

  60. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: What are you referring to?

  61. g Says:

    The “settlement” with Browne.

  62. Jim Says:

    @59,61 G — I think “bribe” is extreme. She was a logical candidate to sue for discrimination, so she opted for a financial settlement instead. Given MDUSD’s sloppy personnel practices, she might well have won much more through litigation than the sum in question. I’d consider it just another cost of doing business the “MDUSD Way”.

  63. g Says:

    No. First you bring suit, then you settle. Then the Board immeadiately Reports in Public Session on the Who, What, How Much of the Settlement.

    Agreeing to be “bought” before even filing suit is a “bribe.” Whether initiating or subsequently agreeing to the “bribe” to protect your own ass against possible termination for cause or being the sued party in a discrimination claim–or any other ligitimate claim–is collusion.

    Aiding in the creating a ‘cover story’, creating a ‘New job classification’, and a new ‘accounting classification’ to cover up spending $300K of public taxpayer money for an “empty chair” is Criminal Malfeasance.

  64. vindex Says:

    @brian lawrence. Thank you. Please take the time you need. Also, thank you for your openness.

  65. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: It is interesting that Cheryl Hansen, Brian Lawrence and Barbara Oaks appear to know very little about what happened with Browne, despite Cooksey’s insistence that the board has been fully briefed about the settlement and that the previous board (including Hansen) “directed” the superintendent to enter into that generous agreement before any lawsuit was filed.
    If a lawsuit were filed, many more details would need to be publicly disclosed. Perhaps the previous board wanted to avoid that.
    And, as mentioned previously, Browne was able to tack an additional $31,000 onto her settlement claim without the superintendent even bothering to ask or inform the board about it before he signed the agreement.

  66. g Says:

    I don’t doubt that “some” of the previous board met outside the legal confines of a full board, to aid in the deception and cover-up. I think it was clear on 4/23/12 that both Hansen and Dennler had been illegally excluded from that “party” of Staff and selected Board Members.

    Later, after settlements were in negotiation, they may have been given a briefing, and did not even realise they had been illegally excluded from the initial dealings.

    Cooksey perpetuated the cover-up if she failed to provide this new board AND Hansen and Dennler with actual copies of those settlements which include “ongoing” payments.

    If this current board just sits back and takes an “oh well, what’s done is done” attitude and let’s that fraud continue unabated, then they become complicit.

    This entire issue goes far beyond the dollar amount.

    More than a couple people need to lose their jobs, and several people, both paid and elected, need to have their actions exposed.

  67. Doctor J Says:

    Has anyone checked the federal lawsuits instead of just the state lawsuits ?

  68. g Says:

    Shall I name a dozen or so?

  69. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: But “what’s done” is not done until the board ratifies the agreement. But, you’re right, she’s being paid under the assumption that it’s a done deal and a majority of current trustees don’t seem to have any control over (or even complete knowledge about) the situation.

  70. g Says:

    Theresa, one would assume that a full board must ratify any such financial agreement. We know from experience in more than one circumstance during just the past year (deny it or not) that at least two, and probably three of the last board agreed, outside legal channels, and on more than one occasion, to take matters into their own hands.

  71. soooo frustrated Says:

    So why don’t the experts on this blog with all the answers, run for school board during the next election?

  72. Doctor J Says:

    So “frustrated” I will expect to see your name on the ballot.

  73. Watch Says:

    Soooo frustrated: watchdogs are necessary evils (or saints depending upon your perspective) to ensure checks and balances are in force in the system. You need informed and educated persons in and running the system, but you also need them outside the system to raise the red flags, challenge the decisions and the process, and keep those who are operating the system “honest”. You don’t want the G’s and Dr. J’s of the world becoming part of the system, you need them to raise awareness, and bring up issues, that others are too complacent or afraid to raise. And they have to be able to operate in a first amendment environment. Sure, it’s easier to sit on the outside and throw darts at those operating inside, but any administrator of any integrity will take the slings and arrows in stride and in balance with other information they have, and seek truth and make informed decisions in support of their constituents. You may not agree with what they have to say, but you need them on the outside nonetheless. I am thankful that they are there, doing their part to protect our interests. Time will only tell whether or not those in decision making positions have made the right choices in the interests of those they serve. And you always have the referendum process to voice your discontent if they don’t.

  74. C.s. Says:

    Dear Brian re 51. Get us a state or federal level INDEPENDENT investigator with a high level of knowledge for public funds, programs funds, etc. These same two employees are getting the most criticism and attention, somebody better start working their way through Personnel and Fiscal. Some of these people in managerial positions are mean, dishonest, and harming their departments. They have titles and matching paychecks for someone you would think has a CPA and at least a Masters. Employees will never trust the current Personnel structure. There are some people doing bad things in a bad climate but also some “must go” people. Julie Braun Martin and Lois Peterson should have been the wall that stopped some of this. Fiscal/Payroll, PLEASE don’t disrupt further or take any more attention or resources. Stop spinning and reinventing and renaming things. Get the basics down, first. Get some of the many who have left to come back and help. NEW MANAGEMENT. It has been unbelievable to watch upper management defend these people and forfeit their own jobs. It is not the sole job of Personnel help these managers save face and employment. Everybody knows the who, what and where: Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome.

  75. Doctor J Says:

    FCMAT news item today: Interesting investigation of a Supt from Monterey county for alleged use of district creditcards for his personal expenses.

  76. Doctor J Says:

    Holy Cow ! Wait until you read what is hidden under Agenda Item “14.5 Proposed Membership Reconstitution of Budget Advisory Committee” Talk about misleading the public ! “Remove Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) and Gifted & Talented Advisory Committee representatives as the committees no longer exist. Keep one representative from each labor/association unit (6), one parent/community member selected by each board member (5) and the other remaining district committees: Measure A, Measure C, Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for Special Education, District English Language Advisory Committee (DELAC). The new committee participant number would be reduced from 24 to 15.” DOES THE BOARD REALLY WANT THE PAC TO DISAPPEAR ? WHAT WILL THE NEW SUPT WANT TO DO ?

  77. g Says:

    The fewer committees, the fewer people managers have to answer to, and the easier to pack in support for managers’ decisions.

    Also interesting on Every agenda, I wonder how they justify packing in hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Consent Agenda. “These Items are routine in nature…” Really???

    Then someone needs to explain how one ‘no bid now–no bid ever’ inspector can test things like the concrete pour on one campus and the electrical pull across town and the siesmic tie down on 2 modulars in two other towns all at the same time. Who’s comparing the actual construction contractors’ times against the $85/hr IOR time-cards? Yeah, she’s easy to look at and easy to work with–but someone needs to check her true Wonder Woman capabilities.

    Most of the 17 licensed inspectors in this county work with multiple and varied entities. But our ‘exclusive’ Ms. Jensen is and has been for years, Tim Cody’s “full time employee” (actually making more $$ than ANY other FTE in the district. Why? Because as Peder/Cody said: “She understands how we like to do things.”

  78. anon Says:

    I have a question about the fiscal report. There are multiple entries for Food/Meals for Empl (non conf).
    Please tell me we as taxpayers aren’t buying lunch for employees.

  79. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Piggy backing on Anon 78. – what the hell is “suicide & self mutilation” pn page 2 of the fiscal report?

  80. Clayton Squirrel Says:

    Yes, it was a sad day when the Gifted and Talented programs were gutted at MDUSD. The MDUSD GATE advisory committee school representatives had started sharing what they were doing at their individual school sites and volunteers at other schools were beginning to try to put together those same programs at their own schools. Of course, in the classroom GATE programs could have worked the best but some some of them consisted of the GATE kids being asked to raise their hands so they could be passed an extra homework packet. One of the last meetings consisted of us being asked to modify and critique a 5 year plan for GATE at MDUSD but it was full of meaningless district speak. I think GATE started nose-diving around that time and we stopped meeting. My daughter never got a chance at Mock Legislature in 8th grade but her brother had LOVED it years before. Middle School MUN had been cut before either of them got to middle school because they couldn’t find someone to run it. Ever. For years. Our middle school started a lunchtime book club but then the librarians were cut and that died too. Scrabble Club and Chess clubs held in school libraries also suffered. Diablo View PFC started holding the college workshop for parents of middle school students that MDUSD GATE used to hold. MDUSD said it was a money loser. At DVMS it was a parent service and a fundraiser. The first year we advertised it at every MDUSD middle school and had a good turn out. The next year went well also with a new speaker. I am out of the loop now but I think DVMS still held it this year as well as their Astronomy Night (open to all). Astronomy Night is done in partnership with the Mt. Diablo Astronomical Society volunteers and is a GATE-type program that would cost the district nothing.

  81. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Who in the district is using all the iPads and iPad Mini’s? $4178.43 for iPad Mini’s – pg 8.

  82. Clayton Squirrel Says:

    Middle School MUN had been a district wide program years ago. My college-going son was very excited to hear that Clayton Valley Charter High School will be offering MUN. I hope he heard right. That would be awesome. My son’s college has a very competitive MUN team that my son has not joined due to never being exposed to MUN before. I was just at a family gathering where 40 something’s were reminiscing about their high school MUN experiences and traveling to their local university’s law library. Wow.

  83. g Says:

    HFO–glad to see more people (finally) taking interest! Keep the Chart of Accounts up on a separate window. It will allow you to see who/what departement/school is doing the buying.

  84. PAC Member Says:

    As someone who was on PAC for many years, I want to point out that this was something that Gary McHenry instituted. While it was great to get together once a month and have access to the Superintendent, nothing of real value ever got done.

    Items that were brought up were generally site specific (i.e. Whatever the Northgate Reps wanted) and took forever to implement–if they ever were.

    Once Lawrence came in, the meetings became a way for him to talk about the budgets and other topics he thought were relevant. It devolved from a meeting where you could complain about things that would never change to one in which you listened to whatever the Superintendent wanted. I never got the feeling that Lawrence was into the whole PAC thing, but isn’t that his choice as a Superintendent? Just as it was McHenry’s to start one?

    Also, once Theresa started showing up with her video recorder and live blogging of the meetings, it made a lot of the attendees uncomfortable. We were all parent volunteers. We didn’t want to have what we said in the moment live blogged as if we were experts and in the know.

  85. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Why is Marisol Padilla being paid $160.00 for spanish interpret 03/20/13 out if Measure C on page 57.

  86. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Why is Marisol Padilla being paid $160.00 for spanish interpret 03/20/13 out if Measure C on page 57.

    Thanks G for the link – The acctg code is on Mairsol’s $160.00 under Measure C Bond Const:

    Site – program – function – description of item purchased

    000 – 7606 – 58 – 5890

    District wide – (# not listed) – facilities acquisition & construction – other operating expenses

  87. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Who in the district is using all the iPads and iPad Mini’s? $4178.43 for iPad Mini’s – pg 8.

    Thanks again G – these are listed as being used by an elementary school, under the tier 3 school & library instr. grant. Program.

  88. Doctor J Says:

    This spending spree is like a horse race. Marisol gets a March 21 check for $7745 [doesn’t that exceed her contract ?] and here comes Mary Bacon heading down the stretch — $5400 check and consent item 9.11 for an additional $12,000 — remember the night Mary spent 5 or 6 hours at the Board meeting wasn’t even asked by staff to speak on her agenda item ? The only time she spoke up that night was to straighten out Steven Lawrence who tried to say the the Disproportionality committees were not subject to the Brown Act and just “local” committees — she made sure the Board knew those committees are mandated by the State Education Dept and totally subject to the Brown Act. I recall Steven being quite embarassed by it all and also can’t recall if it was Rolen or Cooksey too.

  89. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    I still want to know why Marisol is being paid anything from the Measure C Bond Construction program – why did she get paid $160.00 from this fund? What is she interpreting?

    I could not find the program number 7606 in the linked doc G provided, and the are several items paid listing that program number. I looked several times thru the doc, and just can’t find it – can anyone else?

  90. Doctor J Says:

    Administrative Regulation 6020 says one of the duties of the Supt is to: “g. Regularly meet as part of a districtwide parent advisory council to foster the participation of parents/guardians from Title I schools”. The regulation was adopted March 23, 2010 and has not been revoked by the Board, nor was it objected to by Steven Lawrence who signed off on it. Notice is says to meet “districtwide” not feeder patterns. All Title 1 schools are to be treated equally in all feeder patterns.

  91. Anonymous Says:

    Can you give us some background information on Steve Lawrence’s selection as superintendent of MDUSD? his track record? was there any opposition? were there other candidates?

  92. Sue Berg Says:

    PAC Member #84: The PAC was a well established group before Gary McHenry came to the district in 1999. He simply continued the practice of the Superintendent and senior staff meeting with parents once a month during the school year.

    My recollections are different from yours. Parents determined the agenda topics; the budget was reviewed almost every meeting. The group helped bring about several changes, including shortening the elementary parent conference period from 3 weeks to 2 and returning from PCM to a traditional math curriculum. Parents from Pleasant Hill schools, including Ygnacio Valley High, were long-time regulars. Walnut Creek and Concord had good representation, too. It was a lively, interactive group whose members asked a lot of hard questions. I took fairly comprehensive minutes, which no longer seem to be available on the District website. Copies should be on file in the Superintendent’s Office.

    The press did not attend meetings during McHenry’s tenure, and parents (and staff) spoke fairly openly.

  93. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anonymous: Former Board President Sherry Whitmarsh told me there were not a lot of qualified applicants. I attended board’s interview of West Sacramento district administrators and community members, who all spoke very highly of Superintendent Steven Lawrence. After the appointment, rumors started to appear in comments on this blog that everything was not as rosy in West Sacramento as those interviews may have suggested. Sue Brothers has been a strong supporter of Lawrence’s, following him from his previous district to West Sacramento and then coming to MDUSD as a principal. There was no opposition to the unanimous appointment. The only trustee who appointed him left on the board is Linda Mayo.

  94. Anon Says:

    They are not letting the super go. Writing is in the wall. Too hard to replace and no good choices for interim. Too bad we can’t bet on this blog ’cause the smart $ says he’s staying. Rolen may be another story ’cause he’s easy to replace and there’s more bad conduct there.

  95. Doctor J Says:

    @anon#94 I guess you didn’t read about the 70 candidates for the Berkeley USD Superintendent ? Yeah, SEVENTY !!

  96. Anon Says:

    That’s great J but it doesn’t mean they will let him go now. Easier and cheaper to keep him through 6/14, then go for your great candidates. It’s like a football game, Board is just run in’ out the clock till summer and you all forget for awhile.

  97. Anon Says:

    J, forgot to say, let’s be real. You have 2 clear votes to let these two guys go. The hold up is CLEARLY Lawrence. He’s draggin’ his feet and stretching this out meeting after meeting. STILZl no new meeting to discuss further. He is playing all of us for fools. Like you I’d love to see change but it doesn’t take this long to decide if you want to make the decision. Lawrence has shown he doesn’t want to do it. Forget his blogs; actions speak.

  98. Doctor J Says:

    I think Steven Lawrence has been playing the Board like a fiddle — saying he is a candidate for this job and that job and if they let him go, it will take him out of the running. Do you really think he could be a finalist for the Hayward job ? The new state stats that came out today on suspensions, expulsions and truancies costing the district tons of money in ADA. Steven seems to do irrational things like tell Trustee Lynne Dennler there is no money to buy $350 projector bulbs for classrooms — and then he takes $5,000 out of the classrooms so he can give discounts to all of his employees for the Academy Awards dinner, including all of his top staff who make over $80,000 a year, but the struggling mom who can’t even afford to drive her daughter to school, would be required to pay twice as much as Steven Lawrence who makes $260,000 a year. What is wrong with this picture ? And we haven’t brought up the big ticket items like Mildred Browne and Kerri Mills — both getting paid to do the same job but only one showing up at work. Do you like that picture any better ? Its just cheaper to replace him that fight the constant battles when he stirs the pot. I guess we should mention SASS too — remember how he was going to save $50,000 a year — I would venture to say that Department has cost the district over a million additional dollars by itself, and except for the 3 SIG elementary schools last year, has been a dismal failure . Just think of the enormity of the substitute costs that G uncovered for the repeated testing assessments and data evaluations. Its one failure after another.

  99. g Says:

    Did you dig into the agenda for 4/22? THREE EEOC litigations–wow! Brooktree HOA (back again??) their last suit against the district and Northgate ended a few years ago –so what’s this one all about — the pool?

    Then I suspect that one ‘Anticipated Litigation’ is for the same person as the ‘One Certificated Employee’ but there’s no employee #–so who knows?

    And if all that legal co$t is boring–just look at that List on Item 9.3—I hope there’s no one being bought out or being over-paid for leave on that list.

  100. Theresa Harrington Says:

    There’s also a supt job opening in Byron. And I believe there were more than two dozen applicants for the Brentwood job. Jeanne Duarte-Aramas’ husband is a Hayward school board member, so I would venture to guess he is well aware of what is going on in MDUSD.
    When I was at the San Ramon PTA Legislative Dsy yesterday, I was struck by the camaraderie among the Acalanes, SRVUSD and Moraga supts. You can see video of them answering PTA questions thoughtfully and with grace, humility and a touch of humor at
    This is contrasted by the obvious tension between Steven Lawrence and County Supt. Joe Ovick, which is especially evident in their correspondence over the CVCHS costs and FCMAT report from which Ovick was excluded.
    Regarding Lawrence’s budgeting, don’t forget that he promised to save the cost of closing one school by creating a small high schools task force to look at consolidating high schools and to save additional money by redrawing the Meadow Homes’ boundaries to reduce busing. Neither of these has been done and he has never shown that the school closures and his other ideas really saved $1.5 million.

  101. Anon Says:

    J /g, I agree with all your arguments on why Lawrence should go. But, you both don’t have an answer for the delay. Lawrence telling board don’t let me go, because I’ll be getting another job soon? I’m sorry but when there are grounds to dismiss ANY employee you move forward. And what is the excuse for keeping the general counsel? In any other district he would be gone akready. You have a fractured board here and B. Lawrence is at the center of the dysfunction., its great your keeping the issues alive I applaud that, but lack of any real board action is telling.

  102. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    This is all absolutely dispicable and crazy. It is time for lawrence and rolen to be shown the door.

    If the current board is unwilling to act, it may be time to recall some of them. I recommend starting with Dennler (for gross incompetence), Mayo (for shady possibly illegal dealings), and maybe B. Lawrence (for unwillingness to step up to the plate and do the right thing).

  103. g Says:

    That’s a start. Based on multiple current legal issues and listening to those on the inside–who are afraid to go public– Personnel (Braun-Martin) and Fiscal (Richards) are Major Problem areas as well.

  104. ABC's Says:

    ABC, we all know it: Anything But the Children.
    Dr. Lawrence seems to feel that only the country club set matters. He has hidden behind Bryan Richards and allowed Richards to act as some pseudo-superintendent. Bryan Richards claims it was Steven Lawrence’s idea to move into the assistant superintendent’s office space. I do not feel Bryan Richards should be managing, period. He doesn’t respect teachers or students. The unions have ignored too much. They look the other way while Northgate uses non-union “volunteers” and “hires” extra staff at the parent’s club expense. One school should not have access to basic “rights”, such as library programs, while others languish. How does he think such favoritism feels to the children who most need the reading help and an introduction to computer skills? Dr. Lawrence is ensuring that children who enter our schools with disadvantages stay behind. Maybe we can get Northgate’s cast-offs. Cutting librarians was the death knell. It showed the focus on management salaries at the cost of the children. Certainly there were many points where the schools came last. The schools are just the vehicle to keep the high salaries flowing for the core group that now must go. They must go. I would start with Bryan Richards just based on my payroll errors. If the board members think they will go on to other political posts, that the district is some stepping stone, or the public has a short memory, let me say this: Eberhart.

  105. g Says:

    Working on another project I came across an expense from last May 31. $2,200. to law offices of Gagen McCoy for “Matter 08-51462 Evaluation Issue” and couldn’t help but think how nicely this fits into the Mildred Browne timeline.

    All the while, still ringing in my ears–Rolen, sitting bolt upright and challanging Hansen –‘you want to go outside for a lawyer to look at PRA? A lawyer that isn’t under contract?’

    This coming just a month or so after he had McCoy (still without contract) write a denial of the Cure & Correct.


  106. Doctor J Says:

    @G#104Maybe the District paid for the employee’s lawyer ? We still don’t have an answer that the Dec 2012 Gagen McCoy invoice was for.

  107. Anon Says:

    TH 100, those districts belong to the Las Trampas Council of PTAs. It’s strange that MDUSD re-elected Linda Mayo who’s active in the State PTA, but she’s never united MDUSD with the Las Trampas Council. MDUSD would bring thousands of families and more diversity to Las Trampas’ legislative advocacy efforts.

  108. g Says:

    Dr. J: I suspect the Dec payment was “in advance” for the Jan 17 letter on the Cure & Correct. But, who knows?

    Rolen also paid Gagen McCoy back in mid 2009 for another similar personnel/evaluation/who knows what issue–(obviously another one Rolen didn’t want to have his fingerprints on)—that’s just about the time they forced McHenry out wasn’t it.

  109. g Says:

    I take it back. That Dec payment to Gagen McCoy was made before the Wendy Lack Cure & Correct was given to the board. So, with 7 legal firms on tap (9 now), Rolen uses a non-contracted firm to do his “contract” jobs. Interesting.

  110. Jim Says:

    @106 Anon — I’m not sure how many schools in MDUSD have a PTA, if any. If they don’t exist within MDUSD, that would explain why there is no affiliation with the Las Trampas Council. The MDUSD schools my children attended instead had PFCs (Parent Faculty Clubs), which were not affiliated with the PTA — something I always appreciated, since they focused on school site and district issues, rather than being distracted by the political agendas of the state and national PTA organizations.

  111. Theresa Harrington Says:

    ABC’s: I would add: Strange. He told me once that he envisioned himself in a state-level elected position. Yet, he seems to have gone quietly into political obscurity. As you point out, same with Eberhart. Although Joan Buchanan has effectively used a position on the school board as a stepping stone, it’s unclear how many politicians view a school board slot that way.

    Jim: You are right that many MDUSD schools have PFCs instead of PTA’s. I understand it costs more money to join the PTA. But, it was impressive to see that the Las Trampas and SRVUSD PTAs were able to bring in Reps. George Miller and Eric Swalwell, along with Assemblywomen Susan Bonilla and Joan Buchanan and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier. Miller and Bonilla also represent MDUSD, yet there were no MDUSD voices asking questions at the PTA legislative advocacy day I attended. Miller mentioned the diverse area he serves, which includes MDUSD and WCCUSD, where students are actually being killed. Diversity was definitely missing at that event. There is a Mt. Diablo council of PTAs that has been headed up by Mona Ricard, who was a district teacher of the year from Sequoia Elementary last year. Perhaps the Mt. Diablo council of PTAs could ask to be included in the SRVUSD/Las Trampas event.

    As I mentioned, I noticed that the Moraga and Acalanes superintendents actually talked about how they collaborate with each other. This seems to be missing in MDUSD. Also, when I attended a Contra Costa SELPA talk for the Brentwood CAC, I was struck by the fact that the County SELPA is guided by many superintendents. It seems that MDUSD is so big that it doesn’t really appear to feel the need to work collaboratively with other districts or other SELPAs. This appears to give it a monopoly mentality.

    Local control is hyped as being good when leadership puts the students’ interests first. But, if a monopolistic leadership doesn’t put the students’ interests first, there doesn’t seem to be the same level of checks and balances in large districts that smaller districts have, since smaller districts must partner more with other districts or the county.

    However, MDUSD is collaborating with the Antioch and Pittsburg districts in the new Linked Learning pilot program. And Superintendent Lawrence has talked about partnering with community colleges to bolster high school instruction. These efforts to get out of “silos” and work together are encouraging.

  112. Star Says:

    I do not blame Northgate for wanting the best for their children but those advantages should have been made available to all the schools. It is not Northgate’s job to ensure equality within the school district. We need a caring superintendent. It really angers me that library science, classroom help, supplies are seen as extras. Notice who stood up for Dr. Lawrence. Not the parents of children at higher risk for dropping out or failing. How do you feed one child (educationally) and starve the others? Basically, if the site’s “resources” are insufficient to hire their own “help”, they go without. Do these parents have to band together and sue? Dr. Lawrence and Bryan Richards presume this is their money. Our districts funds are not some entitlement or trust fund. It is for the children, not the ever-burgeoning management. Is this a precursor to court-ordered busing?

  113. Jim Says:

    @112 Star — The issue of equitable funding plagues every state in the country and most large school districts. In CA, the per child funds are set by the state (according to a mind-numbingly complex formula that the Governor is proposing to change). In addition, the feds, state and district all offer extra categorical funds for specific purposes, which they spend on exactly the neediest students whom you are concerned about.

    So what would you have the district do? They can’t just take more money from the per child allotments in the affluent schools. Those are mandated and not that high to begin with. They can’t take the money that parents in more affluent schools give to their schools (as Sherry Whitmarsh once absent-mindingly proposed), because that money is given to legally independent 501c3 organizations set up to help those schools. About the only thing they can do, is divert high school per child spending to elementary schools, to try to get younger students up to speed, which MDUSD does, as we saw in the CVCHS controversy. And how is that working out? Did robbing our high schools produce big gains among younger disadvantaged students?

    All over the country, education bureaucrats are trying to figure out how to make everything “equal”. They’d like to do it by spending endless amounts on disadvantaged students, but after 30 years of that approach, with almost nothing to show for it, taxpayers have grown weary of that approach. So attention has turned to keeping more affluent parents from trying to provide the best that they can for their own children. We can try to “close the gap” by pulling the top downwards, but it is a futile approach.

    The schools that have actually “closed the gap” have done so by getting kids out from under the thumb of dysfunctional district bureaucracies. Success Academies in NYC did it by employing tried-and-true methods that educators have used successfully for years. Their students, on average, are MORE disadvantaged than average in NYC, and yet they are OUTPERFORMING some of the city’s most selective district-run “magnet” schools.

    It can be done. But not with the approaches used today in big districts like MDUSD. And not by scheming to keep affluent parents from trying to patch up the holes in this miserable system.

  114. Doctor J Says:

    When is Dan B. going to release what other documents he got on the PRA request ?

  115. Doctor J Says:

    Steven lost out on another Supt job according to the Modesto Bee — Stanislaus Union — but I don’t think it was big enough to feed his ego. :-) And Steven keeps playing the fiddle.

  116. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I don’t know. I believe he has some concerns about the scope of the response he has received so far.

  117. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#116 We would like to hear from him and “weigh in” on the response. Please let him know.

  118. Star Says:

    Jim, good points, all, and I am aware of some of those programs. Not picking on Northgate, they are doing positive things for their children, and not suggesting a redistribution program: they never work. There are varied levels of parental involvement, age of parents, economic and many other factors. However, this district has a severe imbalance ratio Dent Center to Sites. The imbalance is too great. It’s great when students get extra’s but they should all have basics. There are limitless funds for more managerial “padding”, managerial “mistakes”, special friends of managers, etc. There is always another person, another layer, another call etc involved in everything now. It seems so out of balance. I do not believe these people are indispensable or that the district would suffer from their removal. I am most concerned that the board will not act or will not observe due diligence in checking out new hires. The laptop was the last straw for me. I cannot remember who said they would take a little money from here and there to cover the deductible for the “lost” laptop. That should have been covered by management cuts and furloughs. It is not only about money. Mr. Richards should have been terminated for cause.

  119. g Says:

    I would think more than one person is wondering if selling their soul to get a ‘solar’ bond passed was worth it. That first step you take can really trip you up something awful.

    Supporters say “but look at the new bleachers, the fields, the lights, the pools, the turf, the snack bars, new portables replacing old portables, all that ‘good’ stuff.”

    Just don’t look too closely at the ‘education’ stuff.

  120. Wendy Lack Says:

    Re: 4/22/2013 Board Agenda Item 14.5 (

    Are District Budget Advisory Committee meetings open to the public?

    Do we know when/where the Committee meets or any other details?

  121. g Says:

    Open to the public—yes. Finally thanks to this board hearing our complaints–they are showing up on the district home page calendar. Next one is 4/24/Dent-5pm.

    How do they recruit for members? Questionable-at best. Richards says he asked all the Chambers of Commerce and “none were interested.”

    Doesn’t it seem like if Lawrence/Richards wanted (desparately) to kill off the Parent’s Advisory. they would feel “obligated” to ask some of them if they wanted to join the Budget Advisory?

    Minutes of past meetings—None Of Our Business.

    Of course, that could change with the replacement of the CBO and his secretary.

  122. Laptop or Not? Says:

    I am starting to have problems with small, unexplained, charges in my checking account. I closed my account and bought my own credit protection because this credit watch account belongs to the district. I need some assurance the district management does not have access to my personal credit report. I am starting to wonder exactly what was on the laptop, too. I think something bigger happened because nobody tried to open a new account with my information – they hacked my existing account. The only place that has my checking account number is payroll, for my check deposits. Dr. Lawrence never told us account numbers were hacked. I do not think we are getting the truth. Theresa, we need a status on the investigation DIRECTLY FROM THE INVESTIGATORS, not Richards et al. When criticized over their decision not to inform anyone for twenty days, Richards skirted the issue but came close to blaming the police for not informing us. What investigation would include telling the district management to hide this from us? Can we get a copy of the police report, an investigation status, and specific names of those who instructed Bryan Richards to keep it under wraps? Grainy or not, I want to see the security footage. Many times perpetrators are recognized by clothing, a specific gait, some other identifier. I have a bad feeling that this is a decoy issue and something larger happened. I am starting to wonder if it had anything to do with a laptop. Please tell me I am imagining things.

  123. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Last BAC agenda – no minutes to be found ….

  124. g Says:

    Laptop or Not: Have you worked for the district AND had the same account number since BEFORE 2005?

  125. Laptop or Not? Says:

    I currently work for the district but the account number would be relatively recent, within the last 3 years. I do not think this has anything to do with a laptop at this point. Why can’t we hear directly from the police and why, with all the money being spent, can’t we get a good forensic investigator? I think they gave us the lesser of the two evils.

  126. g Says:

    If the district told the truth, and “only one computer” was stolen, AND that was the “only” computer that had (un-encrypted) employee information on it, AND it would appear that whomever had used the computer in the past had carried it back and forth between MDUSD and Berkeley prior to 2005, AND considering that just about 4 years ago the district was plagued by at least two computer viruses, which caused them to have to take every computer and wipe it, swipe it, clean it up, and reload data—-

    You get my drift. Richards’ “stolen” computer somehow managed to miss either the clean-up, or the clean-up folks managed to miss that there were un-encryped personnel files lurking on it.

    You are right. Even if your info was not compromised by computer theft—the whole think stinks of foul play from within the walls, not outside the window.

  127. g Says:

    Even if there is no security video, Concord CSI would have at least taken photos of inside AND outside the broken window–and I think those would be subject to PRA requests. I also find it very hard to imagine that someone at Dent wouldn’t have also taken photos–but I doubt if you could get a copy of those as long as Rolen is around.

  128. Jim Says:

    @118 Star — “I do not believe these people are indispensable or that the district would suffer from their removal.”

    I’ll go one further: I don’t think our children would suffer from the entire elimination of the district. Most countries do not have anything like “school districts”, and they get along fine. By operating without that layer of overhead and micromanagement, they often have higher student achievement while spending less than we do.

    In fact, we’re experimenting with going “districtless” right now, with CVCHS. We’ll soon see how much they suffer from the absence of all the dysfunction and management hijinks that MDUSD calls “oversight”.

  129. Wendy Lack Says:

    Laptop or Not:

    Have you made inquiries directly with the Concord PD regarding the status of the investigation?

  130. star Says:

    I firmly believe they need to privatize Fiscal Services. The MDUSD management SELF-PRIVATIZES all the time. Huge salaries for people who do nothing more than sublet their jobs. Julie Braun Martin, Deb Cooksey, Greg Rolen, Steven Lawrence, Lois Peterson, Bryan Richards, the board – all hire outside help to address simple common sense issues. They use taxpayer dollars to absolve them of the responsibility and decision-making of their paid positions. They SELF-PRIVATIZE. Decisions are made based on their contracted stand-ins. I am now on my third month straight of payroll issues and I am just wondering why we can’t privatize Fiscal Services. I had a senior payroll person tell me Bryan had paid a consultant $900 dollars a day to straighten out accounts. This person also told us about the obscene amounts of overtime given to a friend of Rolen’s while these poor employees, at the same level, were denied overtime. They are at the same work level as this employee and thought the work should have been split up fairly. These are long term employees complaining. Is there any way of pulling overtime records for Fiscal Services?

  131. Jim Says:

    @130 Star — I like that phrase “Self-Privatizing”. Quite descriptive of the sort of cronyism that has gone on too long.

    Makes me wonder if you know where other chestnuts are buried.

  132. Anonymous Says:

    Star @ 130: can you provide more detail on this issue of overtime given to a friend of Rolen’s in personnel? When did this happen, and what do you know about it? Was this person just a friend, or rumored to be more than a friend? I am curious if the Board is aware of it.

  133. Parent Says:


    At the end of the day, given what you expect to happen, how much will this entire episode cost the Taxpayers of the MSUSD?

  134. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Parent, I’m not sure which “entire episode” you are referencing. Are you talking about the possible dismissal of the superintendent and general counsel? I don’t have any particular expectation about what will happen. I am merely reporting on it as it unfolds. I do intend to ask for the legal costs related to the closed sessions. Whether there is a buyout or a settlement or lawsuits remains to be seen. So, really, we won’t know the total costs until the “entire episode” is over.

  135. Parent Says:


    Thank you. I will look forward to your report on the total costs. I think the costs may be staggering to an already cash-strapped district.

  136. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Parent, You’re welcome. But, it’s possible that trustees may also be considering costs that go beyond monetary costs, such as costs to employee morale, public trust in the district, etc., both with the current administrative team and without it.

  137. Parent Says:


    I agree there are always other considerations to take into account. But too many times we see elected officials are spending money with out regard to the taxpayers who are footing the bills. If we all ran our personal finances this way……….. we would probably be in the same shape as MDUSD.

  138. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Speaking of costs, the city of Walnut Creek is holding a community budget meeting Saturday to discuss its future financial commitment to schools, libraries and nonprofits:

    Although the MDUSD board doesn’t appear to have scheduled a joint meeting with the Walnut Creek City Council yet, it would behoove a couple of trustees to attend this meeting, if they want to hold onto funding for crossing guards and crisis counselors. It’s my understanding that Walnut Creek no longer provides a School Resource Officer.

  139. Anon Says:

    Dr. J 115, are you suggesting, or stating, that Lawrence applied for the job at Stanislaus Union? The Modesto Bee article makes no reference to the competitors for the position. I’d be surprised if Lawrence would even apply for this position given the considerably lower salary, despite whatever is going on the with board at this point.

  140. Anonymous 4 Says:

    Would Lawrence be willing to take Brothers and McClatchy with him?

  141. Doctor J Says:

    I have no idea. He ought to take any job he can get.

  142. watch Says:

    Parent 133: I think the pertinent question to ask is what are the root causes which triggered these costs in the first place, and what are the consequences (both financial and intangible costs) of not carrying this forward to some honorable resolution. From what I’ve gleaned from the discussions to date, these costs caused by the GC and superintendent and the abject embarassment to the district are far greater than any costs necessary to put this house back in order, not to mention the future “costs” of not doing anything.

  143. Parent Says:

    I can only how many good teachers could be retained with these funds?How many student supplies could have been purchased with these funds? How many after school programs to help students at risk? Remember, not one student has been helped by this long ordeal. At some point the adults will think about all the students that are getting left behind in the process.

  144. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a new blog post with the agenda for tonight’s meeting, in case anyone wants to comment on that:

  145. Star Says:

    Dear 126, These were 8 year old laptops? Bryan was using a loner , the loner was stolen, and has since gotten a new one but where is the original broken computer? What lists would he have with this information on it. You need to ask specifics. Exactly what was the name of the file, EXACTLY what was he doing with it? Nobody asks the follow up detail questions and that is how they get away with the fogging. Wouldn’t the contents of the original, broken computer tell more about what EXACTLY went missing? Also, when you say hacked into, there was also another case where they were demanding employees send unencrypted information to home emails. We really, really need a federal investigator. Re the “friend”. Supposedly the Payroll Manager knew of the “friendship”. When the workers at equals with this woman asked why she was getting huge amounts of overtime while Bryan Richards had said they were not allowed any overtime or comp time, they were told to leave it alone. This person was later given a managers job almost immediately when a manager retired as opposed to jobs being held up for months in that department. It was rumored that she was to get a huge salary increase but it might have been seen as age discrimination. YOU need to get us a federal investigator or FBI person to speak with and start asking details. How many laptops are currently out there. Why do all these people need laptops? Why arent they on a sign-out, necessity basis? If employees ask, they are retaliated against and I do not see these people leaving.

  146. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Star, Last night, Trustee Linda Mayo suggested that the board hold a fiscal study session, where the board and public could meet all the hard workers in the fiscal dept. Perhaps at such a study session, some of these issues could be raised.
    Also last night, a Delta View teacher criticized people who post anonymously on blogs, saying she is not afraid of retaliation. She also criticized Trustee Lynne Dennler (without specifically naming her) by referencing the comment Dennler made to Julie Braun-Martin when she called her cold and heartless.
    Regarding Richard’s laptop, although he initially told me it was a loaner, he said he later found out that it was a replacement for his original laptop, but he hadn’t realized that at first.
    Some of the files were left over from a previous fiscal director, who had also worked in the Berkeley district, he said.

  147. g Says:

    Star asks very good questions. Why are any employees allowed to ever take a computer off premises, or send files to their personal computer–especially if they have access to sensitive data?

    Richards has problems keeping his stories straight. Where is, what happened to Richards’ “Original” computer –who was its original user-what files were on IT, and were they transferred to his replacement? Who first used the “replacement” computer –why were there both mdusd and Berkeley un-encrypted personnel files on it– how did Richards use it and never even notice the un-encrypted files–even through transitions to new databases?

    Cover-ups go back years.

    To the Teacher that kissed up to staff so elloquently last night– and the others that complain about both annonymous blog watchdogs and the costs of the board at least “trying” to clean up the district:

    I suggest you try working at Dent before you defend their actions against those who DO work at Dent and see it in action every day. I suggest you climb down off your towers into the swill the watchdogs wade through every day to try to SAVE money so that it can actually go toward “education” in the district.

    AND, I suggest you ask for yourself how much $,$$$,$$$. the Browne bribe and the computer theft, Dent cronyism, pillow talk and other cover-ups have taken from your classrooms –and just TRY to get your answers without using any ‘watchdog’ information.

  148. Doctor J Says:

    Is the two employee saga last heard in closed session 4/16 over or will there be further meetings and eventually “action” ?

  149. anonymous is good Says:

    Sorry, don’t email me, I don’t care. I cannot sit on my hands any more. How can this teacher tell staff how to proceed when she knows nothing about hostile environment they are in? See the hard-working people? They are not a side-show attraction nor does a meet-n-greet in any way address the horrific management in Fiscal. They are professionals – or supposed to be – not show horses. They do not need to be seen as people to be de-vilified. They have been manipulated and encouraged to stay splintered. We are blaming the MANAGEMENT. Mayo is doing what they all do – skip right over the issue of the MANAGEMENT. Within that group you have people being forced out, a huge turnover since this Payroll manager has been here, an ineffective uncaring Personnel department, retaliation, ostracism, lack of basic personal safety, a payroll manager who has so horribly manipulated the staff into doing her dirty work that they are embroiled in legal actions against each other while she sits back, hands clean. Just bad workers, right? These workers are so twisted around. She sees some of these people have been here too long with no advancement and are frustrated so she SUBLETS her management to them. They are not supposed to be overseeing people. She had Deb Cooksey grilling employees over her “right” to have her boyfriend sit unattended in her office with access to files and our computer system. Even a manager complained – ANONYMOUSLY. That was not the only issue regarding that case but I will wait for now. These employees are fighting to keep a clean department and a safe records against some questionable MANAGEMENT directives. Not every worker has been anonymous and I can tell you those are either gone or targeted. Some have left and written letters or called authorities. Perhaps employees have exhausted everything they could think of and have now taken numerous examples of questionable transactions to law enforcement. They put up with infantile behavior and it is true, there are two managers for Payroll and YOU are paying well over $220,000 for supervising 6 people. There is an anti-Bryan sentiment because of this and the general idea that Bryan does not treat Mary Meadows well. She is emailing some SIXTY – 6-0 DIFFERENET DISTRICTS TO ASK one question she should have known on day 2. Even her senior staff did not understand why she did not come to them. Taking 60 people from various districts away from their jobs instead of asking your boss, Bryan Richards, for help? That is one HUGE disconnect. Employees are encouraged to call other districts for supervision and answers. Once they know “who” that is the only thing they target. If you have never worked under this type of pressure, bless your heart. Remaining anonymous keeps the focus on the issue and is absolutely necessary in Fiscal. These ladies need to wise up and band together. Stop trying to play manager unless you have the title and the money. They are falling for the old Tom Sawyer/Paint the fence trick. What makes you think they have not spent endless time with managers trying to resolve issues? We currently have an issue where vile anti-Semitic slurs get thrown around and even with hiring yet another attorney; they still will not fire this person. Just found out this and other slurs were reported to Personnel several times. These slurs have been witnessed by people in the lunchroom and others I WILL NOT NAME. I would defend these people to the sky because of what they have gone through and how they have come to blame each other and not the MANAGEMENT but this is a deal breaker. I am going to take what I have found outside of the district because the witnesses are adamant and are willing to take lie detector tests for this agency. There was another information incident last summer but I am sure, my being anonymous, you would not be interested. You have no idea what the decent people put up with. There is SO MUCH MORE I CANNOT comment on. Thanks for coming and have a cookie on your way out.

  150. anon (sorry) Says:

    Dear Jim, If I can jump in with an example. If a parent is late picking a child up at some sites – no problem, the assistant or office staff may wait with them and be paid or the parents have paid for after school care. They may be taken home by an assistant who will be reimbursed for mileage. At other sites, the staff is so brow-beaten that they cannot have one minute of overtime or comp time they have two choices. Work for free or call the authorities. There can sometimes be an office full of children. Obviously the teachers would not be asked to stay but our union does nothing and the site administrators do not want to take any actions involving the Dent Center. The staff cannot get their work done or even use the restroom, and spend all of their time calling wrong, disconnected, numbers or getting screamed at because you won’t release their child to some unknown neighbor. All of this to avoid about $8.00. I don’t feel the office staff should take over the care of a group of children. The principals are trained and certificated and should be doing this. This union has done very little and now they want to become involved because the Teamsters are involved. We have several different bargaining units already, anyone wanting to try the Teamsters should be encouraged to do so. I would like to see Teamsters reps at Local 1 meetings to answer how they would have handled some of these situations. Let them speak. I went to a meeting and they brought up a couple of solutions.

Leave a Reply