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MDUSD board to hold special meeting Tuesday morning to discuss superintendent search

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, May 24th, 2013 at 7:16 pm in Mt. Diablo school district.

The Mt. Diablo school board will hold a special meeting Tuesday morning to discuss its search for a new superintendent. However, the agenda for the meeting is not posted on the district’s website because the former superintendent’s secretary has left the district and the only other person who knows how to post the agenda online is on vacation, said Board President Cheryl Hansen.

Instead, the interim superintendent’s substitute secretary emailed the agenda to me so that I could inform the community about the meeting. Also, the agenda has been posted in the required locations according to the Brown Act, Hansen said.

Here is the agenda:

1936 Carlotta Drive
Concord, California
(925) 682-8000

TYPE: Special Board Meeting
DATE: 5/28/2013 TIME: 9:00 AM
LOCATION: School District Board Room – 1936 Carlotta Drive, Concord

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

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

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

4.0 Adjourn to Closed Session
4.1 Discussion of Search for Superintendent Discussion
Pursuant to Gov’t Code §54957
Identification of potential candidates

4.2 Student Issues

4.3 Public Employee Discipline / Dismissal / Release / Complaint

4.4 Anticipated Litigation

5.0 Reconvene Open Session
5.1 Reconvene Open Session Info

5.2 Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call Info

6.0 Report Out Action Taken in Closed Session

6.1 Discussion of Search for Superintendent Info

7.0 Public Comment
7.1 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 presentations are limited to three minutes each, or a total of thirty minutes for all speakers, or the here 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

8.1 Discussion of Search for Superintendent Discussion
Meet with search firm advisors, Leadership Associates, to discuss:
1) Overview of Search Process
2) Finalize Timeline
3) Desired Qualities and Characteristics of a Superintendent
4) Identification of Groups and Individuals for Community/Staff input

9.0 Closed Session
9.1 Items not completed during the first Closed Session will be carried over to this Closed Session. Action

10.0 Adjournment
10.1 Adjourn Meeting Info”

Hansen told me that the board will first discuss the superintendent search with Leadership Associates in closed session for about 30 minutes, then meet in open session, then return to closed session to discuss the other closed session items. The agenda will be posted online Tuesday morning, she said.

Are you satisfied with the public notice the board is providing regarding this meeting?

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79 Responses to “MDUSD board to hold special meeting Tuesday morning to discuss superintendent search”

  1. Teacher Says:

    Sounds like they are trying to get the public notice out. Why even start up something and invite more negativity by asking if people are satisfied?

  2. Doctor J Says:

    What about AB 1344 ?

  3. Doctor J Says:

  4. anon Says:

    Thanks for scheduling this meeting while most people are at work. Allowing the community an opportunity to participate just slows the process.

  5. Flippin' Tired Says:

    I finally get the chance to attend a meeting. Thank you, Board.

  6. Doctor J Says:

    I went to the CDE website and compared the 2011 with the new 2012 Statewide school ranks — Elementary only. We had 9 Elem schools improve their statewide rank by one point each. We had six Elem schools lose a total of 10 rank points; with three Elem schools losing two ranks each: Gregory Gardens,Silverwood, and Westwood. Regarding the 2012 Similar School ranks, only 12/29 ranked equal or better to their Statewide rank score. With all the millions spent in SASS and consultants, why aren’t we doing better ?

  7. Anon Says:

    That’s an excellent question to ask John Bernard, and any and all superintendent candidates. Is John Bernard answering Theresa’s phone calls?

  8. Doctor J Says:

    Mike Langley slammed Steven Lawrence’s leadership style in public comment. I hope Theresa will quote it.

  9. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Bernard answered my phone call when he was selected and provided me with his cell phone number. However, Steven Lawrence did the same thing when he was selected, then stopped picking up the phone or returning calls.
    I was very surprised that the agenda still wasn’t posted this morning and the board reversed the order of the closed session from what Hansen told me it would do. Also, trustees received and discussed a handout that was not given to the public or released with the agenda.
    Luckily, Joe Estrada was recording the proceedings. Since the backs of most trustees were facing the audience and they weren’t using microphones, it was very difficult to hear some of them.
    There were only three people in the audience, including Mike Langley and me. Langley spoke briefly during public comment and then the board talked about its timeline, desired superintendent qualifications and strengths and challenges in the district. The district also hopes to solicit input from stakeholders and the community during meetings and via a survey monkey.

  10. Doctor J Says:

    A list of qualities of a Supt was developed in 2009. Based on today’s discussion, it would be an interesting comparison. Anyone have it ?

  11. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Based on my recollection, many of the qualities were the same, ie. leadership ability, consensus-building, team-building, communications skills, etc.
    But today there was a strong emphasis on cultural responsiveness, special education and classroom experience – which I don’t remember being at the forefront last time. There was also discussion this time that a doctorate degree is not necessary or even preferable.
    Trustee Linda Mayo is the only hold-over from the board that developed the previous list of qualifications. Since her back was to the audience and she spoke quietly, I had trouble hearing what she said this time around.

  12. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It looks like the archived video started after Mike Langley’s public comment. Luckily, I recorded his comments and will upload the clip to

    In looking closer at the online video, it looks like it didn’t start until more than 15 minutes into the meeting, when the board was discussing an online survey. I also recorded the first part of the discussion and uploaded it to my YouTube account, as Superintendent Search, parts 1, 2 and 3, so you can see what is missing from the district’s video.

  13. Jim Says:

    @10 DJ — Many districts seem to use the same type of “wish list” qualifications in Supe searches. Which isn’t surprising, since many of the same issues face almost any large diverse district like MDUSD. So no, I don’t think we’ll find answers by comparing the various definitions of qualifications.

    The problem is that so many people in the ed world (including the search firms) don’t command much useful experience in organization management, so they have no way of recognizing if someone actually has any of those awesome leadership qualities that we all seek. The proof comes with the pudding, and then it is often too late. Also, unfortunately, many school board members have no experience in managing large organizations, planning large budgets, leading turnarounds or in any of the other kinds of leadership experience that are so necessary. So when they know what to look for, they often have a hard time recognizing it. Yet we cling to this government-run model for our large school districts, in the absence of almost any evidence of success, hoping that the next supe will bring a miracle. Clearly, MDUSD deserves better than Lawrence and Rolen, but will we get anyone better? Statistically speaking, yeah, probably, but I guess we’ll just have to see.

  14. Doctor J Says:

    Citizen Langley remarks are now posted under “recovered” at about 5:45. Worth listening to. Yes, the audio is difficult.

  15. Doctor J Says:

    Words that stick out to me used today are: Team Builder, Consensus builder, communicator, collaboration. The gentleman from the recruiter made a great point: He asked the Board what the first question a candidate wants to know about the job — is it how much will I make ? NO ! He or she wants to know how well the board “gets along in governance”.

  16. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is my video of Langley’s comments:

    The audio on my video of Langley is pretty clear. But, as I mentioned, the audio of Trustees Barbara Oaks and Linda Mayo is very difficult to hear.

  17. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The board admitted it has been split in the past, but said it wants to work together going forward. The man, whose name was Michael Escalante, said that was very important.

  18. Doctor J Says:

    The one subject I didn’t hear today was “organizational management”. Perhaps I just missed it. The district’s “recovered” section has excellent video and audio of Mike Langley’s public comment. Hope this link works. Or you can go to the district website and get it.

  19. anon Says:

    Dr. j #15, you hit the nail on the head. Which is exactly why ms. Hansen’s style of bombastic petulant leadership is not helping this district. Will mdusd be able to attract good candidates? Probably a few. Will they stay? They will not. They will view mdusd as a stepping stone and they will move on in 2-3 years unless Hansen isn’t on the board after the 2014 elections. I know many of you love to see the tumult which as been the standard since Hansen has arrived and you will all attack my words as being somehow aligned with the last board. So have at it. Why not use that energy to try to help.

  20. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Trustee Linda Mayo said she would like to find someone who would be willing to commit to staying for at least five years, since that’s how long it could take to turn things around. She said that was “code” for someone who’s not near retirement.
    Board President Cheryl Hansen said she wants a superintendent who understands governance and knows how to draw boundaries so trustees don’t micromanage.

  21. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#20 Others said that a Supt coming from a small district that was not diverse would have a hard time getting their arms around the problems at MDUSD. There are very few Supts who have large district experience that are not near retirement age. Mr. Escalante even brought up the recent San Diego situation where the Board hired a Principal to be the new Supt. I think everyone was in agreement that they needed a Supt with a “track record” of success.

  22. Doctor J Says:

    @#19 Your description of Cheryl Hansen’s leadership is not factually correct; insistence on following the law and the District By-laws is important. If you listened to yesterdays recording of Mike Langley you would have heard his indictment of Steven Lawrence’s refusal to communicate, failure to be inclusive of the stakeholders, and last minute disclosures with no input from stakeholders, including the public. You are right that the average tenure of Supts in California has fallen to two to three years, on the average. The fact is that a district can do little to prevent a great Supt from moving on to a better job — read the contract. One way to keep them around longer is to give them financial incentives based on various factors, including significant increases in API and getting schools out of Program Improvement — I think they call that increased learning.

  23. Wait a Minute Says:

    Anon#19 is so obviously one of the Rolen, Stevie Lawrence, EberMarsh, Pederson groupies.

    Keep on whining about Ms Hansen by all means since she is the person most reponsible for successful resistance to your departed buddies who left under a huge cloud of scandal and suspicion and that you so obviously had personal loyalty to instead of the kids and taxpayers as the real owners of this district.

    Now at last the conditions have been set for a much needed fumigation of the stench of these leaches and their replacement by competent and ethical people and a turnaround of this trainwreck left by your buddies!

  24. Doctor J Says:

    There are two basic types of monetary incentives that can induce Supts to “stick around”; (1) performance or merit based incentives based on measurable accomplishment of goals; (2) longevity incentives that do not accrue until the end of the contract — if the Supt quits before the end he doesn’t get the incentive. Here is an interesting article from Oregon which I don’t necessarily endorse.

    Here is a quote from an article in Indianapolis posted on May 1, 2013. “”We define it as a performance incentive,” said Katrina Hockemeyer, vice president of the Hamilton Southeastern school board. “There’s an expectation from the public to maintain that high performance.”
    According to documents obtained by Kenney, Smith earned $50,000 in performance-based pay each year for 2010, 2011 and 2012, for a total of $150,000.
    Per his contract, Smith can only receive the $150,000 if he continues to be employed as superintendent through June 30, 2013.
    “It ensured a four-year window of stability for our district,” Hockemeyer said. “You have to remain the entire four years to earn any of the performance incentive for any of those years, so until we’re done with the fourth year, that money would not be available to him.”
    Smith joined HSE in 2009 at a base salary of $160,000 after serving 11 years at the Metropolitan School District of Southwest Allen County Schools in Fort Wayne.”
    I wonder if Linda Mayo or other trustees would be willing to give these types of incentives to keep a Supt in place for many years.

  25. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Leadership Associates has a form for the candidates to fill out that includes contract parameters and must-haves. So far, it’s boilerplate. But, the board could consider adding longevity incentives that go beyond the incentives received by Lawrence.

    Regarding a track record, Trustee Brian Lawrence seemed the most willing to think out of the box in terms of looking at candidates who may not have previous superintendent experience, but might still have potential, based on other experiences.

    It sounded like the board did not want to immediately rule anyone out based on somewhat arbitrary requirements, such as doctorate degrees, being bilingual, having been a superintendent, etc. Trustees appeared to want to encourage anyone who is interested to apply.

  26. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#25 Perhaps when the district advertises the position, it might include that the district is willing to negotiate longevity and performance based financial incentives.

  27. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The job announcement has to be finalized by Monday to be posted June 10, so anyone who thinks that should be done should speak up at Monday’s board meeting – or sooner.

  28. Doctor J Says:

    Interesting article on school district / construction corruption.

  29. Doctor J Says:

    How to get schools out of Program Improvement ? So far MDUSD has only done it by closing the school. Here is how one district got two schools off of PI.

  30. Wait a Minute Says:

    Dr J@28,
    Its to bad that the people of CCC don’t have a DA worth a crap or we would see some of the same types of inquiries/prosecutions regarding Measure C insider fraud.

  31. Jim Says:

    I wonder if the MDUSD board has had any contacts with the Broad Center Academy. Not all of their graduates have worked out, but they seem to be one of the few institutions that tackles superintendent training in a structured, creative manner. They seem to “get” the challenges that supes face, and they aren’t afraid to question Edworld orthodoxy when necessary.

    Of course, it was founded by one of those wicked “billionaires”, which taints it in many eyes.

  32. Doctor J Says:

    It took a little sleuthing, but on May 20, 2009 that Board of Education selected Leadership Associates. At a Special Meeting called to meet the same night as a regular Board Meeting for June 16, 2009 the Board, similar to the other morning, gave input on qualities it would like to see in a Supt. Here is a summary of the 2009 input: the board was asked to list the qualities they would like to see in a Superintendent candidate. Here are their responses. Please note that they all may have supported certain attributes but were asked not to repeat what another board member had suggested.

    Sherry Whitmarsh
    Open and honest communicator
    Works with bargaining units
    Able to work with diverse cultures
    Ability to analyze data
    Understands schools
    Experience moving schools out of program improvement
    Technology competent

    Linda Mayo
    Understands instructional leadership, policies and practices
    Has a financial background
    Ability to achieve acceptance of all parents
    Values each employee
    Promote parent engagement
    Able to analyze assessment data
    Understands curriculum development and training
    Inclusion – awareness of outreach to improve student performance
    Meet with students, listen to student input
    Experience with facilities and maintenance
    Experience with collective bargaining and negotiations

    Gary Eberhart
    Visionary leader
    Has a great presence
    Track record and success in strategic planning
    Understands business systems
    Proven track record for fiscal
    Open and Honest – full explanations / transparency
    Understands customer service skills
    Proven track record in important areas
    Consistent and high quality evaluation of staff
    Bridge builder
    No status quo excuses – “that is how it has always been done”
    Lives in the community

    Paul Strange
    Would consider non-traditional Administrator who possess leadership skills
    Work with the board as a team
    Analyze organizational structure and make recommendations
    Active and engaged with the sites, has the disposition to be visible
    Truly cares about students and the district
    Bilingual good but should not be required
    Values technology as a learning tool

    Dick Allen
    Ability to facilitate consensus building amongst the staff
    Possesses the ability to foster strong community relations in a diverse community
    Strength and character when relating to the board
    Experience with Parcel Tax elections
    Develop relationships with community service organizations
    Strong oral and written skills

    Although the comments on Tuesday morning were not as long as these lists, they have great similarity, but yet you heard Mike Langley’s criticism. The million dollar [literally] question is, what needs to be done differently to find a competent and successful Supt that can turn around the district to success ?

  33. Theresa Harrington Says:

    One interesting thing brought up on Tuesday by Trustee Linda Mayo was the question about the general counsel being involved in the interviews. That can be eliminated this time around. Also, the search team said the board could bring its administrative team to meet the administrative team of the top candidate. To my knowledge, that didn’t happen last time. Still, Steven Lawrence’s top administrators in West Sac told the board they were very happy with him.

  34. Theresa Harrington Says:

    On another note: Congrats to the four County Teacher of the Year finalists, including one from MDUSD, two from SRVUSD and one from WCCUSD:

  35. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#33 It would be worth it to have an employment private investigator interview some of the rank and file. Also, MDEA ought to be contacting its counterparts of the finalists to get the low down on the candidates relationships with the union.

  36. anon Says:

    I hope the board is going to follow through with their promise of transparency and allow the public to be involved with the entire process. We should see the names of the finalists so that we can vet each and every candidate who is considered for the position. We as a whole can provide much better investigative work than the board can alone. I’d like to see each board member commit to that.

  37. Start a Dialogue! Says:

    This interim superintendent needs to 1)leave the office and speak to the workers and 2) take a sharp look at the management. The difference between MDUSD and other districts is very apparent. Speak with the subs working in various districts. Ask the subs about the differences between San Ramon and MDUSD. Top down leadership and recognized contributions from the staff: top to bottom. I don’t mean Ms. Congeniality recognition, they hold their management to much higher performance standards. There is just a pall over MDUSD right now, hard to explain. I, too, have had my issues with Payroll and had the counter person get defensive with me. If you deal with the Julie B.Martin counterparts, there is no comparison between what I consider to be someone of low knowledge mixed with a genuine dislike of those she serves. Petty treatment and blacklisting don’t produce enough fog to fool anybody. If I want answers, I call another district. Talk to the subs and get a 360. The issues with Julie Braun Martin go way back with several differently populated boards looking the other way. I do not depend on them for my medical or I would be stuck, too.

  38. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#36 If you watch the meeting with the recruiters, they were very emphatic that the process must be confidential because many of the candidates will return to work in their districts and it would be uncomfortable for them to have their boards and staffs know they are looking to make a move. I wish it could be more transparent too.

  39. Doctor J Says:

    More specifics on the NCLB waiver by the Calif coalition of 9 districts — never even considered by Steven Lawrence.

  40. Doctor J Says:

    Agenda for Monday still not available.

  41. brenda aaron Says:

    I do think that having someone investigate the staff and those of rank and file.
    May 2nd a student at Sun Terrace Elem. climbed on top of the roof at school and wanted to kill herself. She was taken by police to the psych. ward and held for 5 days. This is what BULLYING looks like. Nothing has changed since removal of principal and now Lawrence. She is the only girl in her class with 8 boys in the counseling enrich program. The administration has failed the child and her family and you want her to return to school. WHY!!!

  42. brenda aaron Says:

    How transparent do you have to be? even a blind dog can smell a rat. Too many blind dogs. or is it blind eye DEAF EARS!

  43. fog a spoon Says:

    Dear Brenda,
    Several employees have been to various law enforcement agencies after reporting possible cases of employee malfeasance or outright theft. The management, because they do not know the processed themselves, cannot run the departments and so they are permanently under “investigation”. We would love to see a federal prosecutor walk through the door! I do believe before this is over we will see some of these managers in trouble. They must get over the idea that not one person but Bryan Richards can do the accounting. Very sad that they let Julie BM sit there and ply them for yet more money for the little tontine. Where do employees go from here?

  44. brenda aaron Says:

    Let’s talk education, lessons to be learned from all of this vs. what do we do now moving forward, when a child is out of school due to a suicide attempt on campus at the same school that she attends, how much $$$$ does the district receive for that empty seat?
    Failure to provide a safe, nurturing eviroment, healthy learning atmosphere and API scores higher than a failing school, cost the parent and child how much in $$$ & cents (sense)
    on who’s WATCH did this take place?

  45. Doctor J Says:

    SELPA Public Hearing Notice. Not sure if it needed 10 day notice. The California State Department of Education has recently informed all of the SELPAs in the state that they need to conduct a public hearing on their Annual Budget Plan, Certification of the Annual Service Plan, California Special Education Management Information System (CASEMIS) Service
    Descriptions, and Service Plan Forms, adopt them, and submit them to the Department of Education. This public hearing enables the Mt. Diablo Unified School District to comply with that instruction. I could not find on line the Special Education Local Plan Area
    (SELPA) Annual Service Plan and Annual Budget Plan. Doesn’t look like its on the CAC Blog.

  46. Doctor J Says:

    Agenda is posted. Selpa documents posted. Lots of new Measure C projects — unsure how they pass the requirements of that new court decision but I guess that’s why the Board gets to make the decision after getting legal advice from their new attorney.

  47. anon Says:

    Have they officially released Rolen yet? If not why not?

  48. Vindex Says:

    Dr. J…. You are correct. How to make sure you are getting someone with the qualities you want. The answer in my opinion is incredible, non-traditional research. I recently applied for a job and the company went WAY beyond my references. They were incredibly interested in who I was, not just who my résumé or references said I was. The interview was amazingly hard. It took hours. I could have sworn that they were asking me provocative questions to see how I react under different circumstances. I was exhausted. I got the job…. Thankfully. After all that, I really wanted to work for them. I was impressed with their non-traditional and through way to find the right fit. That’s what this board needs to do. Really go off the grid and go beyond the traditional way to find someone. Character, the key ingredient in a superintendent. The rest can be learned

  49. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, I am on vacation and will not attend Monday’s meeting. Also, it may take me longer than usual to monitor comments.

  50. Jim Says:

    @48 Vindex — Warren Buffett once said that the job qualification that matters more than anything else is integrity. “Without that,” he said, “all other talents are actually detrimental.”

    I think we’ve seen that in MDUSD.

    Congrats on your new job.

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