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Mt. Diablo school district interim superintendent responds to arrest of Woodside Elementary teacher on suspicion of child abuse

By Theresa Harrington
Saturday, June 29th, 2013 at 1:21 pm in Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

According to Concord police, Woodside Elementary teacher Joseph Andrew Martin, who taught fourth and fifth grades at the Concord school, has been arrested on suspicion of repeatedly sexually abusing a child. Here is our story about the arrest:
http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_23565623/concord-elementary-school-teacher-suspected-sexually-abusing-student.

This morning, the Times received the following statement from John Bernard, interim superintendent of the Mt. Diablo school district, about the arrest:

“The Mt. Diablo Unified School District is saddened and disturbed by the recent arrest of a teacher at Woodside Elementary School in Concord.

Our staff has been working with the Concord Police Department since this was brought to our attention in late April 2013.

The teacher in question was removed immediately and has not returned to the campus.

While we cannot comment on the on-going investigation, our prayers and supportive thoughts are with the victims and their families.

We strongly encourage anyone with information about this investigation to contact the Concord Police Department.”

A hotline has been established at 925-603-5836 for those who may have additional information or for any potential additional victims.

Are you satisfied with the district’s response?

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  • anon

    @100, that was only how is was made to appear to the public. The actual truth is otherwise. Rolen convinced McHenry to create the position, and McHenry made Rolen go through the paces of interviewing but made it clear to the board he wanted Rolen in the position. I know cause I was there :)

  • Doctor J

    Board sets special closed session to interview candidates for Supt for Monday Aug 5 at 7:30 am. NOTE: Location: Embassy Suites, 1345 Treat Blvd., Walnut Creek, CA.

  • Teacher

    Why not at District Office?

  • Anon

    confidentiality for the applicants – standard procedure for this process.

  • Sue Berg

    Anon, 101: As Gary McHenry’s admin assistant who literally was “there” for years before and after the General Counsel position was created and filled, I can only shake my head at your insistence that something happened in a way that it actually did not.

    That said, I think there are more important issues facing MDUSD and all school districts these days that deserve discussion and debate.

  • anon

    @105, as someone who, believe it or not, knows the facts more than you, I can only shake my head at your naivete and lack of knowledge on this issue. However, I agree there are more important issues facing the District at this time.

  • Parent

    Why are the interviews taking place outside of the district?

    Embassy Suites is in Walnut Creek/Acalanes District.

  • Doctor J
  • Doctor J

    @Parent#107 There is an exception to the requirement under the Brown Act that school district Board meetings be held within district boundaries: “Interview a potential employee from another district or interview the public from another district about the employment of a superintendent from that district. (§ 54954(c)(2) and (c)(3).)”
    Now, if one of those candidates happens to be from MDUSD, that would be a problem. Remember when the Board went to West Sacramento to “interview” Steven Lawrence’s handpicked supporters in Nov 2009.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I have just received word that the CDE will release the STAR results next Thursday, Aug. 8.

  • Theresa Harrington

    CAHSEE results will be released Aug. 22 and the API release will come in Sept.

    On another note, here is updated info regarding principal assignments, from an email from Julie Braun-Martin:

    “Kate McClatchy is currently assigned to Crossroads.
    The Director of Elementary Education is not being filled.
    There is no principal chosen for Cambridge at this time.”

  • Doctor J

    Great news on STAR tests. Parents will see what happened last year and how their students schools performed prior to the start of the year. The Supt and presumably the Board have now or soon will have received the results ahead of time. If there are bad results — will the district take immediate corrective action or just gloss over them as business as usual ? We will see if SASS has contributed to significant improved success or not ? Should be an interesting week.

  • Theresa Harrington

    We’ll also see how CVCHS did under new management.

  • Doctor J

    Is that another reassignment for Kate McClatchy or the same as previously announced ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    In looking through my emails with Braun-Martin, I realized that I hadn’t officially received confirmation of McClatchy’s assignment, although a few blog readers had already unofficially announced it in their comments.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#113 CVCHS must pacing the floor like an expectant father.

  • Theresa Harrington

    It will also be interesting to see how Meadow Homes Elementary and Oak Grove MS did with their School Improvement Grants.

  • Doctor J

    And if the original 3 SIG schools in Bay Point can maintain or improve their massive gains from last year: Bel Air, Rio Vista and Shore Acres. I take it since their SIG grants expired, that they are not continuing with their increased instructional time which seems to have made the difference last year.

  • Doctor J

    What I find strange is that the Director of Elem Ed is “not being filled.” When Steven Lawrence announced the formation of SASS back in about May 2010, before it was even approved he announced in a Board Meeting her appointment as the first person to be in SASS. So does that mean they don’t need Directors of Secondary and Elem Ed ?

  • teacher

    STAR results will be posted during the district “Leadership” training days, Aug. 8th and 9th. That will be interesting.

  • Doctor J

    I wonder how many minutes will be devoted to Mandatory Reporter training next week ?

  • Teacher

    It really doesn’t take that long to let people know they are mandated reporters

  • Doctor J

    @Teacher#122 That kind of simplistic approach may be part of the issue — remember that the district this year used site administrators to “teach” Mandatory Reporting to staff. Let me give you a follow up quiz: After you make a telephone report to the police or CPS of suspected child abuse, what do you specifically have to do within 36 hours ? When you answer, please don’t be general — be specific. I don’t believe that was taught in the district Powerpoint. The training module recommended by State Supt. Tom Torlaksen approved by the Dept of Social Services, takes a few hours to complete and requires an 80% passage rate on their quizzes. Yet you seem to believe that in 10 minutes or less, site administrators can be qualified to competently teach Mandatory Reporting to both Certificated staff and Classified staff. Maybe that’s part of the problem with teaching in MDUSD.

  • Theresa Harrington

    In reporting the mandated abuse story, we found that many teachers had been told they were “mandated reporters,” but were not actually trained in what that meant. Good training explains the steps that must be taken when a person suspects child abuse.

    It also explains signs of child abuse. It has been alleged that some teachers told the Woodside principal about suspicions related to Martin, but failed to report them themselves to CPC or the police. Teachers need to understand that THEY are personally responsible for reporting suspected abuse DIRECTLY to authorities. In fact, they are NOT required to tell school or district administrators. I actually had to explain this to a superintendent at another district, who objected when our newspaper pointed out that his training — which required employees to tell administrators — was against the law. He insisted that the district wanted to help employees make their reports. But, I told him that such a policy could discourage employees from making reports against their own colleagues. He said he would check with his lawyer and I never heard back from him. Since he was originally asking for a correction to our story, I can only assume that his lawyer set him straight.

    Today’s front page story about an 11-year-old Bay Point Bay who was repeatedly sexually abused could very well have involved an MDUSD student. Yet, that student’s teacher apparently didn’t notice that he was withdrawn and traumatized. Or, if the teacher did notice, he or she may not have taken the time to talk to the boy to find out what his home life was like. Perhaps, if that teacher had received the kind of training that some districts offer — with actual examples of the kinds of behavior exhibited by abused children — inquiries could have been made that could have ended his abuse sooner.

    This is where personal relationships come in. Jessica Preciado, who taught at MDHS and is now at Crossroads, told me that she would inquire with students when it seemed like something was bothering them. She told me that she had filed CPS reports after some of these discussions. But, not all teachers take the time to notice when students are upset, or to talk to them about it.

  • Teacher

    Dr J. Within 36 hours you need to complete a written report and be sure it gets to the proper people. I never meant to imply it should only take 10 mins. It is serious, needs to be taught and when suspicions arise, be acted upon by following proper protocols

  • Doctor J

    @Teacher #125 — only partially correct — good guess for someone who has been trained every year for many years. sorry for the sarcasm, I know you are sincere, but having had the training every year for many years, I would expect you to be well versed. Right now your grade is incomplete. :-) What kind of report ? And who are the “proper people” ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    When we did our mandated reporting survey, we received several examples of training offered in other districts. I will see if I can upload some of them to google docs so you can see how MDUSD compares to others.

  • Doctor J

    From the CDE: Notice the link to the “Reporting Tip Sheet” — never seen this handed out in MDUSD. http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/ap/

  • Doctor J

    While we are waiting for Teacher to respond, hint, hint, I will give Teacher “extra credit” if s/he identifies that the required DOJ form is actually in the “Forms Library” on the MDUSD site, although you have to print it out as opposed to following the link on the “tip sheet” which can be filled in on the computer. Its amazing to think that the “tip sheet” link could be sent to every teacher via email and never has. So many resources from CDE, and so few know about them.

  • Teacher

    Police, County welfare /probation office and district attorney. Dr J you already mentioned it is on MDUSD website -under forms library and then suspected child abuse

  • Doctor J

    A+ Sorry for being sarcastic towards you.

  • Fog A Spoon

    #124 TH – You hit on something that is a pervasive malady at the district: the RETROACTIVE training. The district does not know, so they do not train. When things hit the fan they want to do some REVISIONIST HISTORY and make the employees retroactively responsible for management shortcomings. This board has either been a disappointment or our expectations were too big. Don’t know which. I see a 100% changeover and I would LOVE for some of the bloggers to step up. TH, I know we need to leave names out but that Fiscal Department is long overdue for solid audit. Probably not going to happen but it has become probably the least trusted department.

  • Doctor J

    @FogAS#132 Whose job description in the district says they are in charge of ensuring all employees are instructed in Mandatory Reporters ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    According to most district policies, the buck stops with the superintendent. Many district superintendents delegate the responsibility to their attorneys, human resources directors or student services directors. As previously noted, MDUSD appears to rely on Felicia Stuckey-Smith to oversee mandated reporter training, although Julie Braun-Martin and Deb Cooksey were also in the loop when we surveyed the district.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#134 Agreed. All responsibility starts with the Supt and many are delegated out, but put in specific job descriptions of specific employees. Indeed the BP & AR put it squarely on the Supt. My question is simply — do any other employees in the district have Mandatory Reporter training specifically listed in their job descriptions ? I cannot find one that does.

  • Doctor J

    The on-line description of Dept of Student Services doesn’t say anything about overseeing certificated and classified staff in training for Mandatory Reporting. http://www.mdusd.org/Departments/studentservices/Pages/default.aspx

  • Theresa Harrington

    Technically, it should fall to Human Resources, since that’s the department that is supposed to get the signatures of people who verify that they know they are mandated reporters.

  • Doctor J

    The problem in MDUSD is THEY don’t know who it is and couldn’t even answer your survey correctly. Or should it be the responsibility of Risk Management ? Or SASS who are supposed to be training principals and teachers ? Its a three ring circus. But when you lack leadership in the Supt position like we did with Steven Lawrence, there is no organizational continuity. They only put together a hastily constructed abbreviated training module in February AFTER Theresa and the Times did an brief survey of districts. Theresa, I am still chuckling about that one Supt who asked for a “correction” to your March story and you, a reporter, had to teach him the law ! Priceless ! And when Asst Supt Julie B-M didn’t even know they were required to teach classified employees. I mean this should not have been her first rodeo. Tragic.

  • Theresa Harrington

    It is especially surprising since Annie Nolen had been sounding the alarm about this for a year — well BEFORE the Times survey and news story.

    In the survey, Stuckey-Smith said “mandated reporters should be trained once a year.” However, the district didn’t actually follow up to find if all employees were ACTUALLY being trained.

    Nolen took the time to survey her own union members and found that more than 90 percent who responded had not received any training.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here’s more info from another e-mail I received from Braun-Martin:

    “Felicia may have data on when training sessions were offered last year, but I do not have data on last year in our office. When principals do the site meeting, we want them to offer the opportunity to the classified staff.

    Annie mentioned the Torlakson recommendation had come out. We are considering that program and another option that our legal department was looking into.”

  • Doctor J

    Reminds me of “Three blind mice. See how they run…..Did you ever see such a sight in your life,” Hum that tune and you will realize how MDUSD operates.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here’s a YouTube video on what it means to be a mandated reporter: http://youtu.be/duxvnbI493w

  • Concerned

    Heard principal at Woodside has been reassigned to Oak Grove Middle School.

  • Concerned

    What happened in court yesterday with the Joseph Martin case? I do not see anything in CCT this am.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Concerned: The preliminary hearing was postponed, according to our investigative reporter.

  • Doctor J

    If this goes like any other mega case: 109 charges, 13 victims, and searching for more victims, plus facing life in prison, I wouldn’t hold my breath that this will be resolved until next year or later.