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MDUSD Trustee Lynne Dennler comments on her votes to retain the superintendent and general counsel

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, May 10th, 2013 at 9:29 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

After the Mt. Diablo school board voted 3-2 to terminate Superintendent Steven Lawrence’s contract early and voted 4-1 to let General Counsel Greg Rolen go before his contract expired, I asked all five trustees to explain their votes. Board President Cheryl Hansen, Vice President Barbara Oaks and Trustee Brian Lawrence voted in the majority on both decisions, saying the district needs new leadership to overcome low morale and lack of community trust.

Trustee Linda Mayo voted against terminating the superintendent’s contract, but sided with the majority in the decision to oust Rolen. Trustee Lynne Dennler voted against terminating both contracts, which were set to expire in June, 2014.

Mayo told me Monday she did not want to comment on her votes because she had previously made comments during board meetings that would explain them. When I said I did not recall those comments, she did not elaborate on what they were or when she made them.

Dennler, on the other hand, sent me an e-mail explaining her votes, which she asked me to quote “with fidelity.” Here is her complete statement:

“I ran for the MDUSD Board of Education, because as a teacher in Mt. Diablo, I felt disrespected and undervalued. I didn’t trust ‘the administration.’ I ran to be a ‘voice’ the classroom and the teacher.

These two years have been eye opening. I gained an understanding of the incredible challenges facing our district by being observant, listening to many differing opinions, and asking questions. I’ve been careful to not be ‘managed,’ avoided blogs, as I appreciate and prefer direct input from the public.

The superintendent answers to and advises the Board of Education. The board has the final direction, which this superintendent has always followed. For the most part, I’ve experienced administrators who would listen. They didn’t necessarily ‘change their thinking.’ It did, however, give me hope, that with multiple like voices on the board, change was possible.

The superintendent’s character and trustworthiness is of greater value to me than policy agreement. I have discovered the reality of the District operation is vastly different than it is perceived through the outside lens. Half-truths and distorted views are often disseminated as fact. Had the present Board chosen to work with Dr. Lawrence, I believe MDUSD would have moved forward.

I met Greg Rolen after my election. He ‘seemed’ to be cocky and supremely confident. After months of working with and observing his work, I realized he was a competent, effective attorney. I grew to appreciate his legal skills, the fairness with which he negotiated settlements, and the money he saved MDUSD.

The facts and timelines of Mr. Rolen’s activities haven’t been presented accurately. A combination of an individual’s interpretation, perspective, and understanding of facts have been blended into actions deemed ‘illegal’ in print. In hindsight some of Mr. Rolen’s actions may have been ill advised but were well meaning, not illegal as have been reported. He has provided the district excellent legal direction.

Historically, newspapers have been bastions that disseminated truth. Today, blogs and newspaper have begun to intermingle in ways that give a perception of fact, to a combination of half-truth and opinion. This ‘blend’ then morphs into ‘fact’ that is shared, commented on, over and over again. Hence the reason I chose to avoid them.

I saw no reason to incur the costs for this change of leadership. Extensive legal expenses, and buyout costs for MDUSD seemed unnecessary. I think first working with these two men, then perhaps acting in a year would have been more prudent.

This superintendent would have changed policy, followed negotiation objectives, or made changes as directed by this board. MDUSD wouldn’t have been static. This board chose instead to make this move. That will appease a small, vocal minority with special interests. Our system allows for that.

I look forward to working together with my fellow board members to bring the important changes we feel are necessary to MDUSD. We will now move ahead to continue to work to provide a quality 21st century education to the students in MDUSD, staffed by employees who are respected and valued.”

Do think the board should have allowed the superintendent and general counsel to finish out their contracts?

MAY 11 UPDATE: When I sent this blog post to my editor to be published on Sunday, she pointed out that the Times never reported that Rolen’s activities were illegal. An editor’s note to that effect will accompany Dennler’s statement in print.

Also, I question how Dennler can make judgments about news reports and blogs that she claims she does not read.

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118 Responses to “MDUSD Trustee Lynne Dennler comments on her votes to retain the superintendent and general counsel”

  1. g Says:

    Anon; I have to edit your sentence. If that letter weren’t so utterly… — scratch that —

    That letter is so utterly laughable, it is pathetic.

  2. Really? Says:

    “There were no petitions from teachers, staff, administrators or parents regarding Dr. Lawrence — this was entirely a board created issue.”

    An entire school of teachers and students left the district. If that isn’t a “petition” I don’t know what is!

    Those signatories must be high.

  3. Doctor J Says:

    The most ironic thing of the letter is Sherry Whitmarsh didn’t even spell her name correctly. LMAO

  4. g Says:

    Really: Wish I had said that! Dr. J. What isn’t ironic is that 2 signers are from NG, 1 from CP and the other 13 are merely the last dregs of the Whitmarsh contengent.

  5. Doctor J Says:

    @Really#52 Clayton Valley High leaving the district — voting with your feet is the most powerful petition. Supported by the teachers [it was a teacher trigger charter], the parents, and the community, including the city council. Remember it was Sherry Whitmarsh who rushed through the contract extensions of the BIG5 in an attempt to tie the hands of the new Board. Sherry, when questioned directly, never denied her participation in ButtercupGATE. That letter should be filed in the fiction file.

  6. vindex Says:

    @44… I cannot list them to do outing the people who told me the information.

  7. They're Baaacckkk Says:

    #44 Gone? I hear Greg Rolen still goes in and out and who knows if they have taken his computer access away. Hopefully this is ok with the board. Deb rendered herself unusable to the district. The district must release or correct bad managers. If the employees can take correction, why can’t the managers? Certainly there are fantastic managers at the District. This group at the Dent needs to be cleaned out like decay. This must start with an actual Personnel Department. The treatment of rank and file employees shows how lowly Personnel sees them. I think this is where the terms “mom-agers” and “mommy posse” came from. Sadly, Deb Cooksey would have been that person who said “enough.” She could have either broken this group up or refused to involve herself in intimidating employees. Having her on site was a mistake. I think the suggestion to monitor any access to the attorney is essential. Even phone consults should be logged and presented to the board and should match the billed hours along with a written detail of the advice given. They also need a trustworthy hotline because bad situations go on way too long with the employees having nowhere to complain without retaliation.

  8. anon Says:

    Thanks for sharing the letter Theresa. They make great points that most of the community are starting to understand. This community is beginning to learn that you can’t elect people who you know nothing about and then let them rule without watching what it is they are doing. These board members who are visiting our district with such low intelligence will not serve for long periods of time, but they will do amazing amounts of damage. Thankfully there is an election of school board members every 2 years.

  9. g Says:

    Questions to the board and bond oversight committee: Why is exterior painting of schools not basic maintenance? How do we justify it as ‘construction and modernization’ payable with bond measure monies?

  10. Anon too Says:

    Ironic Sherry Whitmarsh signed the letter. It was under her watch as President that the mess continued, guided by Gary of course, and now exploded. This new board is cleaning it up and doing their job, finally.

    I believe many more taxpayers are happy with the new board than the few who are not. Yes, we are looking forward to the next election too, but with a different intent than Anon 57. Change is hard embrace. I could not continue to trust a Superintendent who believed he could not replace projector light bulbs so students could continue to learn, because it would mean taking from somewhere else, and yet found $5000 to give to an event for MDEA. Where did this money come from and what students lost out? The $5,000 had to come from somewhere else as he previously pointed out?

    Anon #57 – do you know? You seem to think this is okay to run our school district this way and to continue runnning it this way instead of changing it, so you must know more than me. Please enlighten me where he found $5000 that didn’t come from the expense of students? I would think the $5000 could have been used to replace the bulbs…

  11. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Guy Moore previously posted that the $5,000 came out of a budget fund earmarked for teacher recognition.

  12. Wendy Lack Says:

    @ TH #49:

    This commentary completely misses the mark and ignores the present reality in the District. The newly-elected Board majority has been relegated to clean-up duty, in the wake of the damage wrought by its predecessors, including former trustees Whitmarsh and Eberhart. The present Board majority hasn’t “gone too far” — they’re taking care of business because it’s impossible to do “the real work that needs to be done” with corrupt and incompetent leaders in place.

    It really is that simple.

    In organizational change as well as in mathematics, there is an order of operations that must be followed in solving problems. Replacing unsatisfactory performers is the first step in the sequence and must precede the next phase of the clean-up effort. Operational audits of Finance, HR, IT and other core support functions are needed in order to identify and correct the root causes of the District’s chronic underperformance in fundamental areas.

    (Any organization incapable of making suitable hiring decisions, providing a safe and productive workplace and reliably running correct payroll has problems that run deep.)

    Apologists for the old regime, including the authors of this piece, are obstacles to the District’s rebuilding of trust within the organization and with the general public.

    Trust must be earned. In recent months an overwhelming amount of evidence has come to light that reveals today’s reality: The District is a dysfunctional organization that requires effective, ethical leadership at the helm, to stop bad business practices, continue those that are working properly, and adopt new approaches that are responsive to current needs.

    Those who choose to ignore reality undermine positive reform efforts and, ultimately, are irrelevant.

  13. S Says:

    Come on Theresa….her comments were not out of line about blogs generally. And the current news rule is report it now, retract later. You know this. It was a cheap shot. Now, if you wanted to ask her about your own writing specifically, here or in the paper, that seems like fair game. Although, for a writer like you, it still seems beneath you.

    I think when you ask for an explanation and you get it, that should be that. Don’t like the explanation, don’t vote for her. And, I happen to believe she is correct about one thing:We need to move forward! Everyone is interested in casting stones. Someone here has even attacked the new position that will oversee equity! Not only is it one of the most vital elements to making our system fair and just, it hasn’t even been filled yet! People are so ready to attack and tear apart! This is societal…..look at our elections. When everything is adversarial, why would anyone want to do anything to draw attention? Some will approve, but so many are ready to attack first. This paradigm stifles everyone’s (in the district) ability to make a difference. I use S as a name here. Why? Because I don’t want your attacks. Debate? Sure. Cite your sources and let’s go.

    Finally, I do have to say that as a teacher, particularly here in MDUSD, I do feel the coverage is primarily negative of this district. Believe me when I say that I know the problems. But the negative pieces get better placement and rarely have a balanced approach. There are a billion good things happening in this district every day. The answers are never just black and white. We need to fix the issues as a community. Not just cast stones at the ones who do not.

  14. Theresa Harrington Says:

    After I tweeted the readers’ opinion piece to the attention of Trustee Brian Lawrence, he sent the following tweets in quick succession:

    “We’ve done more in 4 months to create #MDUSD strategic plan than had been done in prior 4 years.”

    “Did former Brd. Prez really say that this new Brd gave contract extensions to Supe and 4 top admins?”

    “She was the one who proposed extending contracts for 3 years and then settled for 1 year in april 2012. That takes brass.”

    “Barbara Oaks and I were both clear in #mdusd election that we needed change. Former Brd Prez said no. Voters spoke- loudly.”

    S: I was genuinely trying to find out the basis for Dennler’s accusations, specifically related to the story I wrote about Greg Rolen’s relationship with the owner of AIS. Dennler’s response indicates that she hasn’t actually read that story, which surprised me.

  15. Anon too Says:

    Couldn’t the bulbs dollars been taken from the teacher recognition budget so students could continue to be taught? Music and Athletics have been cut for students, why do the teachers need $ for recognition. Tough times call for tough choices for EVERYONE!

  16. g Says:

    Theresa, she ‘may’ have read it. She said: “The facts and timelines of Mr. Rolen’s activities haven’t been presented accurately. A combination of an individual’s interpretation, perspective, and understanding of facts have been blended into actions deemed ‘illegal’ in print. In hindsight some of Mr. Rolen’s actions may have been ill advised but were well meaning, not illegal as have been reported. He has provided the district excellent legal direction.”

    She completely stuck her foot in it with “Rolen’s actions may have been ill advised but were well meaning, not illegal…”

    “Ill advised?” He followed his own advice (and made the bed he now has to lie in). “Excellent legal direction?” “…the money he saved MDUSD?” Ask the Judge(s) and wait for the legal audit.

  17. S Says:

    Teachers did not ask for the recognition of Academy Awards. Though it is a nice gesture. We have sacrificed a lot. I have spent more money this year than any previous years for supplies and books because I can’t get that stuff otherwise. About $1000 of my own money and counting. And no, I only get a $200 dollar credit so please don’t tell me I can write it off. The teachers are not the enemy.

    G – It seems at first blush that there was a clear conflict of interest. But we don’t know all the facts. For anyone to say with certainty the it was illegal or not is simply conjecture. Even IF he is charged,he is still not guilty until proven guilty. I’m not saying he should not have been cut loose. I would have made the same decision based on the information I do have. I’m just saying that you shouldn’t say someone is dumb because of his/her opinion and then make an opinion based response. Unless you are the person charged with prosecuting or defending, you simply do not have all of the information. Further, even if this WAS illegal, he may have indeed saved the district a bunch of money and given excellent legal direction with the exception of this one area. The two arguments are NOT mutually exclusive. Again, not defending him, just saying one does not exclude the other from being true.

    Theresa – thank you for the clarification. That is certainly a fair question. Perhaps different than the question that was posed here.

  18. Doctor J Says:

    I doubt you will find $5000 in a teacher recognition fund in the budget approved in June. Are they using SIG funds for teacher recognitions ?

  19. g Says:

    S: I agree it is appalling that teachers should have to buy classroom supplies while the district cries wolf on its budget, displaces students from two schools to ‘save’ $1.5 million, but hoards $30million more than the state deemed necessary over a two year period.

    Let’s not forget that “every” legal decision; every court action, every bond action, every IEP action, every maintenance action, every transportation action made by our (count them) NINE outside legal firms and ‘contracted advisors’ fell directly under the influence and control of our inside Legal Department–AND our Superintendent, both or either of whom could have stepped in, intervened, influenced, overridden those decisions in a more positive way for the benefit of the entire district, the students, teachers and taxpayers.

    They both failed us miserably in that regard.

  20. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It’s also starting to look like the district may have been hoarding money in anticipation of having to spend 15 percent of special ed funds on the disproportionality plan. Richards told me the district couldn’t actually make 15 percent in cuts to special ed, because it needs to provide those services. So, he said it ended up using money that was “unencumbered.” Any additional money would have to come from general fund encroachment, he said. I have been meaning to follow up to find out exactly how much unencumbered money was used and what portion of the 15 percent it accounts for.

  21. g Says:

    Theresa, yes, and to S’s comment #63 about my complaint regarding hiring for disproportionality. That is part of it. They really did sit and spin from 2008 when first disproportionality reports came in and just ‘sort of’ looked at it till 2010, then sneaked through the back door to get at the cash stream called Measure C. They put a study team together to copy-paste advice from ‘others’ 20 years of published works, then not until they were ordered to take funds that they did not have from SpEd to fix the problem did their eyes light up over ‘even more’ money they could now use to boost salaries and maybe pay even more to the people they had copy-pasted from.

    All that couples nicely with the District screwing future taxpayers by jumping through every loophole in Prop 39 —

    “may not use bond funds for administration or operations”

    but may, thanks to SBX3 4 and ABX4 2, divert Tier III Deferred Maintenance and Overmatch funds into the General fund (for admins and operations) thus making those Prop 39 Bonds fully cover deferred maintenance. Then “per some lawyer’s opinion” divert energy savings from bond/solar expenditures into the General Fund (also for admins and operations and bonuses….

    That is only the tip of the iceberg.

  22. g Says:

    The agenda is out. We have resumes for two interim supts.

  23. Community Parent Says:

    I have not always been a fan of Lynne Dennler, but I am very impressed with her statement. She’s right. It’s a waste of District money to fire Lawrence and Rolen. The Board doesn’t have any reason to fire Lawrence other than an amorphous “people are unhappy” and they need a scapegoat. I appreciate her seeing that while she may not like Rolen personally and he may not be perfect, he has done a good job for the District.

    I’m also glad to see Dennler’s admission that things look very different when you are on the Board and working with District staff as opposed to standing on the outside throwing stones. That shows a great deal of strength of character on her part.

    Theresa, I’m glad to see you posted Dennler’s response in it’s entirety, but I am equally disappointed to see your follow-up emphasis is on whether or not she ever reads your blog and how can she criricize your blog if she doesn’t read your blog. It does not matter in the least to the parents and students of MDUSD if she never reads your blog and only learns second-hand what’s in it, or if she reads it once in a blue moon, or if she reads it all the time. It is not important to anyone except you and the small cabal of people who regularly post to it. Don’t let this story be about you and how you are are going to prove that she reads your blog even if she said she didn’t. Surely you have more important follow-up questions for her. For example: She said she’s discovered that the reality of District operations is vastly different than it appears to an outsider. How so? How has what she’s learned since she’s been on the Board changed her ideas on what should be done? What qualities will she be looking for in a new superintendent? What’s the timeframe? What will the cost be to the District? How does she think the Board can improve the public’s trust in MDUSD leadership? What does she think are the biggest misconceptions the public has about the management of MDUSD?

    I see Dr J. brought up CVCHS as proof of how unhappy parents and teachers are with Steve Lawrence. Perhaps we should use that same standard to see how parents and teachers feel about the Contra Costa Times and Theresa Harrington. The CVCHS Governing Board adopted an official policy of Board members NOT talking to the press whenever possible, which of course means Theresa. The Board members agreed that if the press approaches any of them for comment, they will be referred to the Board president whenever possible or the Executive Director. If neither is physically present, then the board member will decide for himself whether to talk to the reporter or not, or to tell her to contact the board president or executive director for comment. If he chooses to talk to the reporter, he will immediately send an e-mail to the rest of the board informing them of what he said to the reporter. It’s a policy of limited and managed contact with the press. Perhaps MDUSD should adopt a similar policy if it wants to restore trust with the public.

  24. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I am not specifically concerned about whether she reads my blog. I just wanted to know if she read what she was criticizing. If she wasn’t making accusations about blogs and news reports, I wouldn’t have asked the question. I agree that it would be interesting to get the answers to the other questions you ask.

    Regarding CVCHS, there are many other reporters/bloggers who cover CVCHS besides me, including the various Patch sites, Claycord, the Clayton Pioneer and the Concordian. I have established a good working relationship with the CVCHS board president. I have also had no problems getting comments from the executive director, Pat Middendorf or parent reps.

    I have heard of other boards adopting similar policies. In fact, it was my impression that Trustee Linda Mayo may also be inclined to let the president speak for the board. But, the entire board has not had any discussion about naming one spokesperson, to my knowledge.

    I personally believe trustees should be willing to speak about their individual votes or views, since they are elected individually by voters. If they email the rest of the board with their comments, that could violate the Brown Act as a form of serial communication.

  25. Frustrated community parent Says:

    It’s interesting to see the increase in Lawrence support from his friends on this blog and in the paper. The separation agreements are not signed. Rolen still uses his general counsel designation. The blogger above is right; they are not gone. They are only on paid leave. Officially they are still district employees. Is this a push to change public opinion and the outcome of the board’s action?

  26. Community Parent Says:

    Theresa, if it’s a Brown Act violation, perhaps you want to follow-up on it with CVCHS. Here’s the exact wording:

    b) If the Board President is not present and Trustees are asked for comments, they will use their best judgment in commenting, not commenting, or referring the matter to the Executive Director or Board President. If they do comment, an email to inform the Board of the comments made will be sent as soon as possible.

    Apparently the Governing Board members often e-mail each other. Here’s another paragraph from their agreement:

    b) Trustees agree that e-mail is an effective way to share information. Trustees will be respectful of others in the volume of e-mail sent to colleagues and they will endeavor to read information sent by colleagues. Trustees agree that discussion and debate are best in a face-to-face meeting and ideally, will avoid debate by e-mail.

    Here’s the link to the entire agreement:—2012/09_September/CVCHS%20Governing%20Board%20Protocols.pdf

    I personally have mixed emotions about the CVCHS policy. I think it doesn’t serve the students to have trustees publicly battling each other in the press or criticizing their own administrators as we have seen with MDUSD. It leads to mistrust by the public. I can understand Mayo’s attitude that she will let her board meeting comments and votes speak for themselves. I can also understand Dennler’s position of wanting to communicate through e-mail so that she can carefully consider her words.

    I can understand the CVCHS board’s position that everything they say in public should be a form of positive publicity for the school because their success is dependent on attracting students. Limiting comments to the press llimits the possibility of saying something untoward and getting bad publicity.

    On the other hand, both MDUSD and CVCHS are public schools funded by our tax dollars. Shouldn’t the trustees be willing to discuss issues with the press? Isn’t a free and open discussion important to a free society? Perhaps it is doubly important for charter schools to be open and transparent as the general public has no say in how they are run, even though we foot the bill. If you live in the CV attendance area, that’s YOUR neighborhood school, yet you can’t elect the people who run it and they have made it their policy to limit and manage contact with the press in order to influence the public’s impression. At least we can hold MDUSD trustees accountable at the ballot box for what they do with our tax dollars. Not so with CVCHS.

    Perhaps the difference is due to the fact that MDUSD trustees must battle for election by the public. CVCHS trustees do not. Some of the CV trustees are elected by their own small constituencies (classified employees, teachers , parents, admin), while the rest are selected by their fellow board members. I suppose they aren’t disposed to battle their fellow board members publicly (or perhaps at all?) if they serve on the board only at the pleasure of the other board members.

  27. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Is anyone else seeing the Twitter War between Brian Lawrence and Sherry Whitmarsh?

    Hilarious stuff. Pop the pop corn this is about to get good.

  28. Community Parent Says:

    So glad I don’t have a clue how to follow anyone on twitter. Tipping the scale in favor of CVCHS’s policy of limiting public comment. How inappropriate for a school board member to be in a twitter war with anyone. What a terrible example for the students.

  29. Community Parent Says:

    Theresa, if you do follow-up with CVCHS, here’s something else you might want to ask about. I saw something in the minutes for the curriculum committee that has me concerned.

    “Rethinking the STAR testers, perhaps it is better if those individuals who are far below not take the tests and receive a base two hundred since the ultimate score is calculated using a lower multiplier. Those students who are far below basic and take the test and still score far below basic will be calculated at a higher multiplier which could result in a 15 point difference in the API score.”

    The comment was from a teacher. Is he suggesting that low scoring student not be allowed to take the STAR test as a way of raising the API score for CVCHS? Did CVCHS adopt this policy? That seems so wrong to me. It’s from the meeting minutes for last May.—2012/05_May/Curriculum_and_Instruction_Committee_Minutes_5-2-12.pdf

  30. g Says:

    Does anyone believe for a minute that many MDUSD teachers do not pick and choose who is tested–for the same reason?

    Does anyone believe the State isn’t wise to that, but ignores it because ‘every’ district plays the same game?

  31. anon Says:


    You can’t substantiate that. You know why you can’t? Because it’s just not true.

  32. Out of Touch Says:

    My gosh, lady, get on your unicorn and slide down the rainbow. We are doing our jobs despite the Dent. Every time I go to Fiscal the ladies are yakking, yakking, yakking. No business, I hear clothesline gossip. Incorrect paychecks have to be explained to disinterested employees who won’t break up their yakking circles to acknowledge my presence – only there in person because calls are not returned and promises to fix things are forgotten. I asked to speak to a STRS person. The “STRS person” who finally came to the counter in a worn, thigh-high, denim skirt with flip-flops to tell me she couldn’t help me. She never really came all the way to the counter and was turning away while speaking to me. I asked if the woman in the office was the manager and received a sardonic smile with “she won’t know anything about it”. Another time, same thing, ladies gabbing in a circle but eating food this time. One finally said “Do you need help?” She explained that they were having a celebration and walked away! I have had to endure a raised voice and extreme impatience from an employee who was so insistent and so wrong. They openly blamed Julie Braun Martin for paying us at bad rates, explaining that JBM never informed them of our rate change until three months later, showing a memo from Julie BM. If true, I am sure Julie Braun Martin had some consequence for negatively affecting the workings of the Payroll Department and the teachers’ finances. Please Board, take a guess at why schools want to secede from the district. Now they want control over the Parents Club spending. I keep hearing about Bryan Richards. Who gave him all this responsibility? The board. The board, including Cheryl, passed all their nonsense. At least Cheryl seems like she is trying to get an accurate picture now. I invite her to come to the classrooms and see how we still wash our hands in ice cold water and beg for basics while the Dent uses us to bring in the funds that maintain their crazy paychecks and strangle-hold on access to basic instructional materials. If the district bought the overheads, they should maintain them, including bulbs, before voting each other more raises. They knew how much these bulbs were when these units were purchased. Why not put a management furlough in place and give a little to the kids?

  33. Community Parent Says:

    G, the teacher who appears to suggest that CVCHS could rise its API score by stopping the lower scoring students from taking the STAR test, judging from the minutes, had been tasked with finding ways to increase the API score. If it had already been standard operating procedure when Clayton Valley HS was part of MDUSD, I don’t think he would have suggested it. They would have just done it without comment and it wouldn’t have any effect on the API. But it was brought forward as a change in procedure that could increase the API.

    I’m not an expert in how API is calculated. That’s why I brought it up for Theresa to look into. Maybe I’m misinterpreting it. I do know from reading the minutes that the teacher involved was very concerned with raising the API. That’s how charter schools are evaluated when it comes time to renew a charter.

  34. Anon Says:

    Out of touch:
    Please elaborate on yor statement regarding Richards wanting control of parent club spending. I haven’t heard anything about that.

  35. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, Hansen has informed me that she does not expect to report out the name of the interim superintendent after tonight’s closed session because the contract will not have been finalized. She has also sent me the schedule for interviews with stakeholders. I will post a google docs link to that in a separate blog post.

  36. Theresa Harrington Says:

    LAUSD’s Board has voted to ban “willful defiance” suspensions:,0,5454548.story

    Would MDUSD consider this to avoid being designated significantly disproportionate in suspensions and expulsions?

  37. g Says:

    If I understand the retiree hire procedure and limitations on hours and pay, there shouldn’t be a great discrepancy in the basic contract provisions. Right?

  38. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, and since the closed session includes negotiations with the interim superintendent, I don’t understand why the decision can’t be reported out — just like the interim general counsel appointment was reported out after the closed session when she was selected.

  39. g Says:

    It makes sense to me, simply because you don’t want both to possibly be in attendance, or hanging around town, when you announce your choice. In the case of counsel there wasn’t a second candidate.

  40. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In a follow-up email, Hansen said the contract won’t be finalized until tomorrow, so she expects the interim superintendent’s name will be posted on the agenda for Monday’s meeting.

  41. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Board Vice President Barbara Oaks and Trustee Brian Lawrence will present a May 30 program at the YV Library titled “Changes and Challenges in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District”:

  42. anon Says:

    Brian and Barbara? They’ve only been here and few months and thus far have done zero to help students. I’ll bet that will be well attended. I hope Brian and Barbara have thick skin because so far we are not impressed.

  43. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a blog post about their planned presentation, in case anyone else wants to comment on it:

  44. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is a blog post with the agenda for today’s closed session meeting, along with a link to the scheduled conversations with stakeholders:

    The open portions of the meeting will be livecast.

  45. Guts and Morals Says:

    Thank you TH for your continued coverage. I, am a past employee who can see better from this vantage point being out of the insanity. Bryan Richards was not a poor manager, he was not a manager at all. He hired a payroll manager who immediately lost control of the department because she was such a bad pick. She went from paying 7 people at a small business to the public school system and has never successfully done the job. The two managers they speak of refer to another manager moved into Bryan’s office, supposedly to keep an eye and help her. Bryan only cared about going after anyone who spoke up. He always put the work behind his personal needs. He was known as the mean kid with the magnifying glass. Say whatever about previous superintendents, they would have spotted his confusion and dislike for employees and his refusal to do the right thing, especially when it came to one employee. I was asked to sub but I will not while this employee remains there. They thought Julie Braun Marting was a pushover and the bad behavior became a joke. You have to hate who they hate. I treated one employee badly and after getting to know her I saw she was better and that is what they hated. They feel threatened. Better person, better worker, better friend, better soul. These people get aggressive when they know someone can do their jobs better faster and more HONESTLY. Aslo, there is a woman truly on staff who hates Jewish people. They have done nothing to get rid of her and she did nothing but hate. They need an honest person with some authority. Sorry to go on but from what I hear Bryan is meaner than ever. Doesnt the board understand we worked hard for them and didn’t deserve the constand mistreatment. Again, sorry, I hate to hear it still goes on.

  46. Guts and Morals Says:

    By the way, I am willing to take a lie detector test regarding the racism they deny exists.

  47. Theresa Harrington Says:

    G&M: Are you willing to speak on the record about this? If so, please call me at 945-4764 or email me at

    On another note, I have added an update to my closed session blog post recapping the public comments:

  48. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, Hansen told me today that she expects Greg Rolen and Steven Lawrence to sign their settlement agreements today or tomorrow. She expects the agreements to appear on Monday’s agenda, she said.

  49. g Says:

    Theresa; We’re all very thankful for your Blog, where those of us in the shadows can toss the info out for all to see, hoping some honest person in power follows up on it.

    Just think how history might read today if Woodward and Bernstein had insisted everything be “on the record.”

  50. Theresa Harrington Says:

    And now for something completely different — Northgate HS alum Josh Shpak, Northgate student Jonah Moss and Liberty HS student Bruce Mitchener blasting out the National Anthem on their trumpets at the May 10 Giants game with their mentor, Mic Gillette, of Tower of Power:

    There is great talent in local schools and this is a testament to the hard work of students and teachers.

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