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Live blog of 5-6-13 MDUSD Board meeting

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, May 6th, 2013 at 7:51 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

MDHS JROTC color guard presents flags for pledge of allegiance.

MDHS JROTC color guard presents flags for pledge of allegiance.

Tonight’s May 6, 2013 Mt. Diablo school board meeting has begun. Here is the agenda:

“1.0 Call to Order
1.1 President will call the meeting to order Info
1.2 Board Member Lynne Dennler will participate from: Paseo de la Marina Norte 585, Marina Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta, JAL, Mexico 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 Conference with Labor Negotiators Action
4.3 Admission Action
4.4 Readmission Action
4.5 Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint Action
4.6 Anticipated Litigation Info
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 Conference with Labor Negotiators Info
7.3 Admission Info
7.4 Readmission Info
7.5 Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint Info
7.6 Anticipated Litigation Info
8.0 Consent Agenda
8.1 (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
8.2 (Item #2) Recommended Action for Certificated Personnel Action
8.3 (Item #3) Approval of Provisional Internship Permit (PIP) request Action
8.4 (Item #4) Request to increase Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2013-2014 school year Action
8.5 (Item #5) Recommended Action for Classified Personnel Action
8.6 (Item #6) Classified Personnel: Request to Increase and Decrease Positions Action
8.7 (Item #7) Creation of a New Job Description for Administrator of Equity and Disproportionality Action
8.8 (Item #8) Award of Request for Quotations for RFQ #1646: Schlage Lock Hardware Action
8.9 (Item #9) RFQ/RFP 1641 Approval of Preliminary Services Agreement for the Management, Coordination, Constructability Review, Value Engineering and Recommendations related to Remodel of the Science Center at Ygnacio Valley High School Action
8.10 (Item #13) Final Change Order: Hazardous Materials Testing and Field Observation Services Related to HVAC installation at Various Sites: Enviro-Safety, Training And Resources, Inc. Action
8.11 (Item #14) Notice of Completion for LLB #1604 Action
8.12 (Item #15) Approval of contract with and Mt. Diablo Unified School District for services provided for College Park High School band trip. Action
8.13 (Item #16) Professional Services Contract for Provision of Comprehensive Architectural/Engineering Services associated with Sports Medicine and Air Conditioning Modifications at Mt. Diablo High School Action
8.14 (Item #17) Increase total for Independent Services Contract for The Event Group Action
8.15 (Item #18) Approval of additional contract with Resource Development Associates, Inc. (RDA) to revise and administer the Title I Parent/Family Involvement Survey for the 13 Title I schools. Action
8.16 (Item #19) Resolution 12/13-43 Classified Employees’ Week Action
9.0 Consent Items Pulled for Discussion
9.1 (Item #10) RFQ/RFP 1632 Award of Lease-Leaseback Agreement to Taber Construction, Inc. for HVAC Modernization at Bancroft, Mountain View, Silverwood and Valle Verde Elementary Schools. Action
9.2 (Item #11) RFQ/RFP 1634 Award of Lease-Leaseback Agreement to Bell Products, Inc. for HVAC Modernization at Monte Gardens ES, El Monte ES, Shadelands, Sunrise and Westwood ES. Action
9.3 (Item #12) RFQ/RFP 1633 Award of Lease-Leaseback Agreement to Taber Construction, Inc. for HVAC Modernization at Gregory Gardens, Hidden Valley and Strandwood Elementary Schools. Action
10.0 Public Comment
10.1 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
11.0 Communications
11.1 District Organizations – At regular Board meetings, a single spokesperson of each recognized district organization may make a brief presentation following the Consent Agenda. Items are limited to those which are informational. Info
12.0 Business/Action Items
12.1 Appointment of Administrator, School Support Action
12.2 Opportunity for public response to the Initial Successor Agreement Proposals for Public Employees Union Local #1 Clerical, Secretarial and Technical Units (CST) and Mt. Diablo Unified School District Action
12.3 Opportunity for public response to the Initial Successor Agreement Proposals 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 Action
12.4 Opportunity for public response to the District’s Initial Successor Agreement Proposal for California School Employees Association (CSEA) Action
12.5 Request to approve the proposed decision of the Administrative Law Judge and implement the certificated layoff. Action
12.6 Boundary Modification for Bay Point Elementary Schools Action
12.7 Approve Separation Agreement of Superintendent Action
12.8 Approve Separation Agreement of General Counsel Action
12.9 Ratify the appointment of Jayne Williams, of Meyers Nave, as Interim General Counsel from May 7, 2013- September 9, 2013 Action
12.10 Approve the Legal Services Contract of Jayne Williams, of Meyers Nave, as Interim General Counsel Action
12.11 Approve the Legal Services Contract of Latisha McCray, Contract Attorney Action
12.12 Meeting Extension Action
13.0 Future Agenda Items
13.1 Graduation Requirements Info
13.2 Board Goals 2013-2014 Info
13.3 Mt. Diablo High School Academies Info
14.0 Board Member Reports
14.1 Board reports Info
15.0 Closed Session
15.1 Items not completed during the first Closed Session will be carried over to this closed session. Action
16.0 Adjournment
16.1 Adjourn Meeting Info”

MDHS JROTC color guard presented the flags for pledge of allegiance.

Hansen reported out closed session.

Tim Cody pulled items 8.10-8.12 from consent calendar. Board unanimously approved rest of consent calendar.

He presented slides that have not yet been posted and said project is over budget.
John Ferrante and John Parker both questioned why bids were so high and Parker said more bids should be solicited.

8.10 passed in a 3-2 vote, with Hansen and Lawrence voting against.

8.11 John Ferrante and John Parker again spoke against.
Passed in a 4-1 vote, with Lawrence against.

8.12 John Ferrante and John Parker again spoke against.
Passed in a 4-1 vote, with Lawrence against.

Public Comments:

1. Mike Langley urged the board to keep academies small.

2. Willie Mims urged teachers to file Williams complaints if there are problems at their schools. He also questioned where the last three special board meetings were adequately noticed and said the board’s decision to pay people to terminate their contracts and to pay other people to do their jobs gives the appearance that the district has a lot of money. He also spoke against lease-leasebacks.

12.1 Board unanimously appointed Ygnacio Valley Elem. Principal Christine Richardson as a SASS administrator to replace Susan Hukkanen, who left last year.

MAY 7 UPDATE: Since I did not finish summarizing the board actions last night, I am pasting the district’s “Board Action Summary” for the meeting below:

“Mt. Diablo Unified School District
Board Action Summary
Meeting of May 6, 2013
Mildred Browne
Judith Cubillo
Barbara Donovan
Elaine Green
Nancy Hanebury
Valerie Lyles
Nancy Martini
Hellena Postrk
Calla Van Buskirk
Shirley Weiner

Carolina Gow
Sandra Michels
Cecelia Swanson

1. Approved all consent agenda items.

2. Approved the appointment of Christine Richardson as School Support Administrator effective 2013-2014 school year.

3. Provided opportunity for public response to the successor agreement proposals for CST and Mt. Diablo Unified School District and formally adopted the proposals for formal negotiations.

4. Provided opportunity for public response to the successor agreement proposals for M&O and Mt. Diablo Unified School District and formally adopted the proposals for formal negotiations.

5. Provided opportunity for public response to the District’s successor agreement proposals to CSEA and formally adopted the proposals for formal negotiations.

6. Approved the decision of the Administrative Law Judge to eliminate 87.22203 FTE from MDEA membership, 2.10 FTE from School Psychologists, and 5.60 FTE from DMA membership and authorize the Superintendent/Designee to give appropriate notice on or before May 14, 2013 to the individuals named in or affected by the decision.

7. Approved boundary modification for Bay Point elementary schools.

8. Ratified the appointment of Jayne Williams, of Meyers Nave, as
Interim General Counsel from May 7, 2013- September 9, 2013.

9. Approved the legal services contract of Jayne Williams, of Meyers Nave, as Interim General Counsel.

10. Approved the legal services contract of Latisha McCray, contract attorney.”

MAY 13 UPDATE: In response to an informal Public Records Act request, I received a copy of the superintendent’s departure email to management staff and the district’s engagement letter with Meyers Nave, which spells out the following hourly rates the district has agreed to pay: $270 for principal attorneys, $240 for associate attorneys and $135 for paralegals.

Here is a google docs link to the documents:

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113 Responses to “Live blog of 5-6-13 MDUSD Board meeting”

  1. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: Thanks for pointing that out. Yes, I have requested it. And, in the interest of transparency, it should have been attached to Monday’s agenda.

  2. g Says:

    Let’s not lose sight of the fact that in-house counsel was asked for a 5-yr summary of legal expenses. His reply as I recall it was something to the effect of “I suppose I could do that.” The reply was NOT, “Yes, I will do that.”

    Had that information been forthcoming – preferably as part of Interim Reports, or even annually – or at the very least when specifically asked for it, we wouldn’t be paying outside counsel to do it now.

  3. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Bryan Richards can do that quite easily, at least in summary form. The district doesn’t need to pay an outside attorney to pull up invoices and payments and total them. Richards should also be able to sort them by law firm and types of services rendered. And, he should be able to report how much of those payments were for actual work versus for travel.

  4. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, I just spoke to Board President Cheryl Hansen and she said she does not expect the board to finalize the settlement agreements with Steven Lawrence and Greg Rolen today after all. She said she put those items on the agenda as placeholders, “just in case.” She said she expects to report out of closed session around 6 pm.
    I will not attend the meeting, but Joe Estrada told me he plans to post the audio right away.
    Hansen said she hopes to report a date for another closed session meeting, if the agreements aren’t finalized today. She wants to get this done before May 20, she said.

  5. g Says:

    Theresa, I agree. Richards ‘could’ do that. We have to keep in mind though that even the friendly Christy White spoke negatively about the ‘routine, last minute creation of invoices’ to match checks being written. She did not specify which department did that.

    Regardless of who puts a report together, invoiced hours should be double checked with ‘other parties’ on the case. For instance, does our attorney routinely and in actuallity spend over 30-50 hours working on ONE SpEd student issue?

  6. Anon Says:

    I’d like to give some “neutral” input on the issue of hiring in-house legal counsel. I am not in anyone’s “camp.” When you have one firm providing legal services, you pay that firm the rate they charge per contract agreement, like the agreement now with Meyers Nave. The rate is generally in the area of $200. per hour or more, depending on the type of service being delivered, and whether it is done by a partner or associate. The individual attorney is not making the contracted amount-the firm is making that amount. The cost goes to pay the attorney’s salary (generally receiving about 1/3 of the hourly amount in the contract if you break down their salary to a per hour calculation), the legal firm’s overhead, malpractice insurance, etc. So Jayne Williams is getting paid her regular Meyers Nave partner salary, however it is calculated, and Meyers Nave is getting the $200. per hour paid by MDUSD, or whatever the hourly rate is for Ms. Williams’ services. Having in-house counsel is cheaper in that you can have the general counsel do a lot of the work you send out at $200. or more per hour, for a hourly rate under $100. Good firms do not waive travel costs in their contracts, unless they would not like to make any money off their contract. Please realize these details when you start arguing about in-house vs. outside counsel. LA Unified, SF Unified, and many other large districts have gone to the in-house counsel model because it is more cost efficient.

  7. g Says:

    Yes, a law ‘firm’ is like an employment ‘agency’. They take on all costs for the employee beyond ‘hourly wage’.

    At your $100/hr in-house guesstimate, Rolen worked 2,530 hours last year. Frankly, I doubt he was even awake, much less at work that many hours.

  8. Wait a Minute Says:

    Are you suggesting that “Once a Cheater, Always a CHEATER” Rolen was spending alot of time in bed?

  9. Annie V.P. CSEA Says:

    There is no they when the District hands out money. I don’t know anything about the Academy Awards Party except what I saw in the paper. I do know that CSEA has our on party twice a year to thank our members for their hard work and it’s a salad pot luck in the spring. We supply the drinks and table ware. Two of our members make quilts and another lady brings wonderful baskets to raffle off. At Christmas we do the same thing and Mt. Diablo Foster Youth receive the money the last two years. The spring get together and raffle always goes to the Armed Services,like Blue Star Moms
    or last year and this year it will go to Wounded Warriors. Our members pick who we give to. We give out door prizes also. So, if any one would like to donate something for the raffle or door prizes we would appreciate it. Last year we had a speaker from Wounded Warriors and one of the wounded that the money helps. It was very heart warming and makes you want to do more.

  10. Stinkin' Badges Says:

    Annie: LOL on the Fargo comment. True Coat. Yes, smarmy man-children… Difference is the “true coat”, for better term, isn’t selling too well here. I, personally, refuse to be shellacked again. I am going to say the Fargo guy had more panache than Fauntleroy. It is always better to stay with the honest people and despite the bottom feeders willing to do “favors”, it is unfair to other employees without those connections. Your head is screwed on right and that is a good thing. We do owe the taxpayers to keep things honest. I believe the board is trying their best to make that happen. Given the fact that several employees have skipped over the army of “we don’t need no stinkin’ badges” district management in favor of law enforcement, it is always better to distance yourself from the bottom feeders, tweaks, dirtbags, of this crazy world of ours and not take favors, even if offered. I believe you do fight for your team and I thank you for the laugh. Guts. I like it.

  11. g Says:

    Audio Part 2 = Failure

  12. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I was able to open it on my ipad but not on my desktop computer. Here’s what Hansen said:
    The board discussed one case of public complaint and received advice from counsel.
    Trustees discussed consideration of the process for hiring the interim supt. That process will be forthcoming to the public. There will be invitations going out regarding the process to consider and approve the interim supt.
    We did not have the separation agreements with the general counsel or supt, so those were postponed to another meeting. (She did not say when.)
    We did discuss Craig Blyeth v. MDUSD and we did receive counsel regarding that existing litigation. We did also give direction to counsel regarding that existing litigation.

    Although Hansen said she would call me after the meeting concluded, I haven’t heard from her yet, so I’ll give her a call to get more clarification on these items.

  13. g Says:

    Thanks Theresa. Although they did not expect to finalize the separation agreements, it’s unfortunate they didn’t even have copies of them discussion. That was short sighted.

    In my opinion, if either person is refusing to ‘deal’ within the confines of the board’s offer, the board should just rescind the offer, and change it to a Terminated for Cause action. Let three years worth of everybody’s dirty laundry fly.

  14. Theresa Harrington Says:

    We still don’t know if the board believed it could successfully terminate either the superintendent or the general counsel for cause. But, of course, the board could certainly change its mind if the superintendent and general counsel aren’t willing to accept the early termination without cause terms.
    I also agree that the draft agreements should be made public, so we can see what the holdup is.
    And, as anon previously pointed out, the district should attach the interim general counsel engagement letter to Monday’s agenda docket. There is a high public expectation for transparency and it’s not being met.

  15. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I just spoke to Hansen and she said the board has narrowed down the list of candidates to two and hopes to have a closed session next Wednesday to meet with them, along with a stakeholder “conversation” that would likely be public, but she needs to speak to the interim general counsel about this. She also hopes the board will be able to approve the settlement agreements with Lawrence and Rolen in closed session next Wednesday. She said there’s no working draft because it keeps changing. She also said she would ask to have the engagement letter attached to Monday’s agenda. I also pointed out that Tim Cody’s Powerpoint doesn’t appear to be posted and she said she’d check into that as well.

    Also, Estrada said the audio for part 2 is an mp3 file just like the audio for part 1, so he’s not sure why it wasn’t working on my PC.

  16. g Says:

    Considering that this ‘current’ board, in office only a few months, has just recently been (at least partially) apprised of the Browne issue, Padilla matters, back door FCMAT work and now Blyeth issues as well as some other valid personnel and legal expense claims that have been shuttered from not only public view–but even board view, they can probably build a good case of For Cause.

    If I understand it correctly, even if the board ended up losing (which is doubtful) they would not have to pay out a cent of salary settlement until a ‘For Cause’ case was decided.

  17. g Says:

    Theresa, maybe you could send this to Estrada for us: (works fine)

    part two properties URL is:

    and it comes up as a .aup instead of .mp3

    It’s important we have this available, since there are no printed minutes of Closed sessions.

  18. g Says:

    Never mind–he has fixed it.

  19. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Will do. Thanks! But, there should also be minutes of the report out.

  20. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Oh, too late, I already sent him your note!

  21. g Says:

    🙂 But those minutes may take months…too.

  22. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s my story about today’s meeting:

  23. anon Says:

    This board is in violation of the brown act relative to their discussions and decisions about how the hiring of the interim superintendent process will work. They can discuss who the candidates are and what the terms of the employment contracts will be, but they can deliberate the process in closed session. These repeated brown act violations should be corrected if this board wants support from its community. It also appears that they are poised to make a decision on who the interim superintendent will be without input from the public.

  24. No In-House Says:

    #25 Jim. So true. It is actually a cost saving to get rid of them. It is the only “eviction” notice they will respond to. These people are incapable of any type of introspection. I am very fiscally conservative but I would have signed the checks. We must weigh types of costs. What price on getting the focus back on education? What price, or better yet, what cost is low morale? Trust. Leadership. Management. Open interaction with the community. Solid partnership with the community. We are servants in the truest sense. These are our clients. We are here for THEM. This group that swirls around Bryan Richards ushered in a dark, oppressive, era. They don’t like good guys and depend on their “bouncers” to give them what little back-bone they have. From here forward though, I would not pay any of these pikers a penny. Let people like Richards sue. That will give district employees a place to tell their stories!
    #56 Good points, all, and normally I would agree. The problem at the district is this exclusive little gang. Somewhere it crossed to corporate incest. This group must incorporate you or attack you. We have become a bad employee factory, keeping the bad employees safe and attacking or forcing out anyone who complains. This attorney needs to represent the District, not the cronies, and there would be so much pressure for this person to “get in line” that we will have another Cooksey. She will become a protector and public relations person, defending people she should be recommending for dismissal. This attorney needs to stay focused on the district and not used for phony interrogations to intimidate employees on behalf of the IMPERSONNEL department. District managers never needed daily access to an attorney and hiring the in-house was a bad idea. There was not really enough work for one, let alone two, and they start these ersatz managerial positions with other departments out of boredom. People like Julie Braun Martin should have to request an attorney consult via the board so we keep our costs down and see who needs all the help.

  25. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: I don’t recall the previous board asking for input from the public when it appointed Dick Nicoll as interim superintendent.

  26. g Says:

    We can list the public’s preference on qualifications (for any job) on one hand. They do not change. Anyone asking for any job knows exactly what to say, what accomplishments to brag about, what opinions or negatives to avoid or hide.

    Headhunters, like applicants, know exactly what to leave out of their reports and recommendations. No one they can recommend will have ‘recovery’ experience in a district of this particular size or demographic.

    The only thing that would improve the hiring in any management position would be to list the prospects early and let the public to the veting.

    That will never happen. So just hire someone already!

    And please–any multi year “first” contract (or employment agreement) must have a firm “probation” and “did not fit” escape clause. All contracts must have a maximum 6 month “without-cause” buyout clause.

    My opinion on any position below Superintendent: Nearly all are “promotions” for either internal or external applicants. This is NOT a “for profit, frofit sharing corporation” and having a title does not mean you have to have a multi-year contract. You either want the job and pay — for as long as you do well on the job — or you don’t. Period.

  27. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I agree that the without cause terms should be diminished. When the previous board hired Supt. Lawrence, Gary Eberhart said the new contract was substantially better than the previous superintendent’s contract in terms of allowing the district to dismiss the superintendent without cause early. But, it still seems like a lot of money for doing nothing.

  28. anon Says:

    I would say if they hiring someone already known to the community, like a Dick Nicoll, that would be one thing and I would have expected the board to have already made that decision, actually prior to placing the current superintendent on leave with pay. If the interim superintendent is someone new to the district or someone who hasn’t been here for a while, I would expect that they be named so that, as was pointed out by “G”, the community could vet them. There is no way to defend what this current board has done. Placed two administrators on leave with pay with no separation agreements in place and no interim superintendent in place. If this had been done by the last board and if it had been led by the last board president, Theresa and this blog would have been going nuts.

  29. Anon Says:

    #74, I understand your arguments about pressure on in house counsel from management. However, the same pressures exist for outside counsel, perhaps even greater, because outside counsel is obtaining work from the sup. and assistant sups, and has a strong incentive to keep these major players happy in order to keep getting the legal work. There is always pressure and bias, whether its contract legal counsel or in-house counsel. An argument can be made that in-house counsel has more independence and less inherent pressure because s/he receive a salary, and doesn’t have the same pressure of doing what the “client” wants in order to maintain their contract with the district. Just something to consider. I think the issue has more to do with the quality of person hired as in-house counsel, than whether you use in-house or outside counsel.

  30. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In the absence of General Counsel Greg Rolen and Superintendent Steven Lawrence, callers about today’s bomb threat at MDHS are being referred to Julie Braun-Martin. Students have been evacuated and will be released for the rest of the day, according to their emergency cards, Braun-Martin told me.

  31. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s my short story on the bomb scare:

  32. Jim Says:

    @78 Anon — You don’t appear to understand how these things are done. Once you begin discussing a separation agreement with any employee, that person knows his/her time is up and s/he can begin all sorts of mischief. You put such people on leave FIRST, to isolate them from all of their responsibilities and organizational involvements. I suspect some board members had specific ideas of candidates for interim superintendent, but again, there is no way to discuss those in public, or even with other board members, before there is a vote to terminate the predecessor. A single manager in a company can look for a replacement before terminating an employee, but it doesn’t usually work that way with a public board (unless they, or a majority of them, operate off-the-record as a private little cabal — which of course we have experienced with prior MDUSD boards).

    I know certain of the “Anons” on this blog would like to continue to rationalize, and apologize for, the prior regime, but really, these kinds of criticisms just show how little credibility those supporters have.

  33. Anon Says:


    Sometimes you come off as credible and as someone who cares about the system. This is not one of those cases. There is no justification for leaving this district without a leader. I have never said that the superintendent or general counsel should have been kept on. I said that there should have been a plan in place to ensure that a leader was in place as soon as the superintendent was placed on paid leave. There is no corporation whose board would fire the CEO without a solid succession plan in place. Your support for bad business practices undermines every argument that you’ve ever made.

  34. Jim Says:

    @83 — “There is no corporation whose board would fire the CEO without a solid succession plan in place.” Sorry, Anon, but plenty of corporations have fired their CEO without a firm succession plan. Sometimes a surprised subordinate, or even a board member, has to step up suddenly to fill in, but that doesn’t mean there was a “plan”. Regardless, if the CEO needs to go, s/he goes! However, you’re missing the larger point here. Publicly elected boards are NOT like private corporate boards in that respect, and school districts often do NOT have a deep bench of talented people to “step in” — absolutely not in the case of MDUSD. It’s great to armchair quarterback and say “there should’ve been a plan”. Have you been paying attention during the last 10 years? Now, suddenly, from THIS district, you want a PLAN?!?

    Great, you explain how a publicly elected board LEGALLY agrees to terminate a current superintendent and search for a new one while keeping the whole affair under wraps. And let’s not forget the people (more “Anons”) who want “public input” to the process. You want to get all those ducks in a row before firing these incompetent administrators? Please. You know it can’t work that way.

    Predictably, the people who liked Lawrence, Rolen and some of those sad excuses for board members we had are going to pick apart this board’s decision. It’s called sour grapes. But make no mistake: most people understand that Hansen, Brian Lawrence and Oaks did the right thing. And not a moment too soon. For years and years, this district’s leadership has been incompetent and even toxic. Let’s not make perfect become the enemy of good when progress is finally being made.

  35. Fog a Spoon Says:

    #84 Resp to Jim. These people had over-stayed and were harming the district in every sense. We are not without “leadership”: we are without incompetent, detached leadership. This is also the person who over puffed Richards’ job and cared not that Richards abandoned his and moved across the hall to play superintendent. He was doing Julie’s job and I guess that saved us at least one attorney fee. No matter how bad Payroll is, Richards stayed across the hall, playing superintendent. Richards wanted that power more than he wanted a clean running department. Power hunger is a real problem at the district. Unrestricted pursuit of power is another. That is a lack of leadership, present or not. These employees feel free to move people into made-up, high paying “managerial” position, move people from department to department, place the attorneys over district departments in a clear miss-use of their function. The sad thing is they start believing that because they were given this power, they actually know anything about running the Foods department. Private sectors would have surgically removed these people and the attorneys who missed recommending release. Private sector will fire not only the CEO’s but the guy who invented the whatchamacallit and built the company! Maybe we need to go reality show and get Trump in here. How many times do you think endless Payroll errors or Bryan’s refusal to respond to questions would keep happening? After a CEO is fired, private sector people come in and do their jobs like there is leadership. Their Personnel departments don’t stop, either, and they don’t have an attorney in the closet. Employees are clear on what is expected of them and know the new guy will not tolerate opportunism and chaos.

  36. g Says:

    Someone really does need to do an audit of payroll for the last 3 years. Some favored people at Dent and especially M&O/Measure-C got really hefty base-pay raises between 2010 and 2011. Raises well beyond anything that might have been on their contracts as Cola “plus %” or even “plus longevity” etc. Job titles didn’t change. Raises in the 8-10% range, and maybe more.

    All this while TAs were being cut to the bone and teachers and Local 1 folks were being threatened with furlough and while schools were closed and busing was being pared.

    When the $quawking started–Management agreed to distribute a 3% booty from hoarded reserves to the rank & file to buy their $ilence for another year–But of course–Management was first in line for their piece.

    When the 2012 payroll is published I expect comparing 2010 to 2012 for some of those same folks will be a major shock to every taxpayer’s system.

  37. Jim Says:

    @86 G — Perhaps you are thinking of something like the CA legislature’s “proposal to ‘zero-out’ the PUC’s $1.4 billion budget for the state’s 2014-15 budget — a process in which every expenditure would be reviewed and justified through audits by the Department of Finance and the state auditor, allowing legislators to go over staffing, program and other decisions.” Evidently, that San Bruno fireball was big enough to singe even the hineys in Sac’to.

    I know they’d never consider this for our untouchable school district monopolies, but really, doesn’t it give ya the itch?

  38. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is a new blog post with Dennler’s explanation of her votes against terminating the contracts of the superintendent and general counsel:

  39. Doctor J Says:

    Nine women complaining about mistreatment by a Sacramento Supt. Mostly administrators it says.

  40. g Says:

    Where is Cody’s promised public posting of his “tonnage” powerpoint? Yes, board–he is smirking again. It looks like he plans to lather-up his personal “C” attorney by having him present it AGAIN at $200+expenses/hr at next week’s CBOC meeting. WTH, it’s only money, and someone else’s at that. Of course, if it’s shown at the CBOC, the public gets to wait 4-6 months longer to see it. Cool!

    When honest, straight faced justification of proceedures gets tough, Cody grabs his mouthpiece.

    Did I mention he’s added another handful of L/LBs to the “invitation only” RFQs?

  41. g Says:

    Jim 87: At the time I read it, I didn’t equate that idea to the district but that certainly has merit.

    Some words should never be used alone. Furlough, Qualified Budget, Teacher Layoff, should have “Management Pay Freeze and layoff” in the same sentence

    Cutting costs by Shortened School Year, Lowered Graduation Requirement, Walk an extra couple miles, should be “Forbidden” until matching projected savings is first weed-whacked from the budget–from the Top-Down and right through the core of the ‘all-talk no-proof consultants’. Only then, should we look at cutting into “education.” And then, before cutting into education–they should take a second whack at management.

    Nearly everyone bemoans being in the 48-50% of districts’ pay scales statewide. Where are their voices about their students’ success rates being in the bottom 20%?

  42. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: Here is Cody’s promised PowerPoint:

    Also, I attended the CalBOC annual meeting in Sacramento yesterday, where Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan talked about her proposed bill to limit CABs, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer talked about his opposition to CABs and an attorney who has questioned the legality of lease-leasebacks gave an extensive presentation. Portions of all three of these presentations are posted at Unfortunately, I ran out of storage space on my ipad, so was unable to record the entire presentations.

    Interestingly, the attorney said that school boards are supposed to adopt resolutions declaring their intent to enter into lease-leaseback contracts BEFORE soliciting bids or RFQs. MDUSD has never done this, to my knowledge.

    Also, John Parker told the board last Monday that he heard Measure C staff tell contractors that lease-leasebacks are the new way of doing business in MDUSD. Yet, Parker pointed out that the board has never declared this as its new way of doing business. Who is in charge?

  43. g Says:

    Wellll, although the board would like to deny it– for a very-very long time, Pedersen was solely in charge of about a billion dollars in bond funds. Apparently before he left he “ordained” Cody.

    I also never saw ratification by the board of that knighthood being bestowed on Cody. Pedersen simply said “It shall be” and it was….

  44. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: The board did publicly appoint Cody to take over for Pedersen after he left.

    I will be interested to see whether he brings someone in to explain lease-leasebacks to the CBOC as he promised he would. At the last meeting, one new member questioned how a general contractor was able to present a lower bid than an HVAC specialist.

    During the attorney’s CalBOC presentation yesterday, it was noted that a correlation has been found in other districts between contributions to bond campaigns and construction contracts. Taber Construction did contribute to MDUSD’s bond campaign, although it wasn’t a huge amount, as I recall.

  45. g Says:

    Theresa, I only remember the announcement that Cody would take over, and the board said “welcome.” Did they actually vote on it?

    Also, the Agenda for the CBOC meeting indicates that Cody is going to pay the attorney to come in to give the same L/LB push he gave to the board a few weeks ago. Expensive waste of money for redundant information. Surely the CBOC watches the board meeting recordings!

  46. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: I thought they voted, but I’ll have to double-check.

    Regarding the presentation, it is only a waste if no one asks any questions. Hopefully, the CBOC does watch board meetings, but many members may not. This will give them a chance to ask questions directly to a person who should be able to answer them. In preparation, I hope they also watch the lease-leaseback CalBOC presentation (parts 1 and 2) at

    Since John Ferrante and John Parker are both on the committee, I wouldn’t be surprised if they also question the discrepancies between the engineer’s estimates and the bids. Also, since Cody told the board the over-budget projects may mean cutbacks in planned modernization, someone should ask what won’t be done to accommodate the higher-than-anticipated HVAC costs.

  47. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    TH @ 94 – here is the link to your post that included who contributed what for Measure C 2010:

    Taber contributed $9500.00 (two separate entries – $5000.00 + $4500.00)

  48. g Says:

    Theresa, here is your youtube video:

    Lawrence announced Pete’s time had run out and Cody would “take over” in setting the agenda items, etc.

  49. g Says:

    Maybe it’s about time for the board to look for a new Measure C, A, C, Prop 55 Project Director who believes in honesty and fairness in bidding Public Projects.

  50. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: Thanks for that link. I recalled that the announcement was made at the same time the board was voting on something related to Measure C, but I didn’t recall that the board didn’t actually approve his appointment. It is surprising that the board and district would allow Cody to simply slide into that position without any interview and appointment process. As you point out, he is in charge of millions of dollars in construction. And as Parker pointed out, he has apparently been making claims on behalf of the board and district, which the board and district have never actually officially declared — namely that the new way of doing business in MDUSD is lease-leasebacks. Hopefully, the CBOC will ask Cody when the board decided that was the new way of doing things. And if he can’t point to a board decision, he should recant his previous statements to anyone who believed he had the authority to make that declaration.

    On another note, I have added a May 13 update to this blog post with links to the superintendent’s departure email and the Meyers Nave engagement letter.

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