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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:

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?

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

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

  1. soooo frustrated Says:

    Why start trouble by asking if people are satisfied with the district response. Anything to fuel the fire against MDUSD. It seems the teacher was removed from his position and the district is working with CPD. This is a horrible event, but why encourage people to trash the district, yet again?

  2. Con Says:

    Respectfully, I have to agree with the first post here. While I generally like and appreciate the work you do, Ms. Harrington, this seems like an invitation to bring on the negativity.
    Right now, the only wrongdoing that’s been brought to light is that of the teacher in question. If it turns out that some other party is responsible in some way, or could have done something to prevent this teacher’s actions, then by all means point the finger and hold them responsible too. Right now, it seems as if the district is doing what they can to help in a tough situation.

  3. anon Says:

    @1, I agree with your sentiment about not using this unfortunate incident as reason to criticize MDUSD. These things are tragic but sadly, happen on occasion in all districts, especially large ones. Let’s hope the CCC DA acts swiftly to charge and prosecute this teacher.

  4. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I was not trying to invite criticism of the district. Obviously, many people are satisfied with the district’s response. It is a question that allows for a yes or no answer.

  5. Vindex Says:

    Please. Ms Harrington was simply asking a question. Give her a break. She is a reporter. Yes, I am satisfied with the Districts response. It was heartfelt, tactful, and offered help. Well done

  6. Flippin' Tired Says:

    Already this interim superintendent is communicating more than Dr. Lawrence. I am quite pleased with the actions and information.

  7. Fed Up and Then Somje Says:

    [NOTE: This comment has been edited to delete references to specific employees]

    Yes, he does seem to be of another mind-set but he is not staying and the worst of the worst managers … These people are just playing a waiting game until this Supe leaves so they can baffle the new one and we are back at square one unless he is savvy and willing to touch management. This one is better, yes, but still not addressing the management issues. They still have the “managers are a product of the workers” stance.

  8. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s our follow-up story on the charges:

  9. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Martin has pleaded not guilty:

    Interesting that the board vote to terminate Lawrence and Rolen’s contracts happened the same day as the police report, after the board received a report in closed session regarding a “personnel matter.”

  10. Concerned Parent Says:

    What a worthless response from the superintendent. When the teacher was arrested at Diablo View, the district had a meeting for parents the very next school day. They sent out a phone message to parents. They had crisis counselors for students. The old superintendent that got fired handled that situation much better than this guy. The new school board members are supposed to be all about bringing in a new era of transparency and communication. Where are they? Why aren’t they telling us what’s going on? Why hasn’t MDUSD communicated with Woodside parents????? I heard the interim superintendent’s daughter was a principal at Woodside. Is that true? Is there a conflict of interest?

  11. Annonagain Says:

    Yes did some hunting an it is true . Jennifer Sachs was principal at Woodside supposedly during first complaints being filed years ago and swept under. And yes she is daughter of this new supt! Theresa there is a huge story here. I hope you get the details!

  12. Anon Says:

    The meeting at DV was all lip service. And the counselors were available because he was arrested on campus during the school day.
    I still don’t understand if this guy was removed in April or if it was end of school year?

  13. Theresa Harrington Says:

    AnnoNagain: We’re working in it. I encourage anyone who would like to share information about this with me on or off the record to call me at 945-4764. Board President Cheryl Hansen declined to comment, since the criminal investigation is ongoing.

  14. Doctor J Says:

    The district has put a “lid” on this arrest. Why? Massive potential liability and prosecution of mandated reporters who did not report plus the district. It is ironic that the district just got around to its mandated reporting training. My heart goes out to the victims. “10.Liabilities for Failure to Make A Required Report.
    A person who fails to make a required report is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or up to a $1000 fine, or both. (P.C. 11166(b)). He or she may also be found civilly liable for
    damages, especially if the child-victim or another child is further victimized because of the failure to report. (Landeros vs. Flood (1976) 17C.3d 399).”

  15. Sue Berg Says:

    Dr J, #14: What? The Times has reported that the district placed the teacher on leave and contacted the police when the complaint was made in April. As soon as that happened, the police were in charge of the investigation and district staff would not have been allowed to talk about it publicly. Eight weeks later, on June 27, the police filed charges, making the arrest. Based on Theresa’s story, above, Dr. Bernard sent out an announcement about the arrest the next day. Seems that the district did, in fact, follow mandated reporting procedures in this case. Clearly, the training worked.

  16. Doctor J Says:

    @Sue#15 If post #11 is true, and I don’t know that it is, at least one report was made 6 years ago to school authorities, but not reported to the CPS or the police authorities. Theresa reported that the charges involve 11 different children, now ages from 11-17, involving 91 counts. The prior failure to report by a mandatory reporter might subject the district to massive liability and put the mandatory reporter at risk. I would imagine that district legal counsel is pursuing a parallel investigation to determine potential liability.

  17. Teacher Says:

    How does anyone here know whether or not a CPS report was filed or not? Also, even if a report is made, CPS may not do anything about it based on circumstances and the information being reported.

    If MDUSD truly believed there was a “child molester” at one of their schools they would not continue to employ this person.

  18. Con Says:

    Just because a report might have been made doesn’t mean the district should have fired the man, a report could have been made, an investigation completed, and nothing happened. Remember that these predators cover the,selves very well, and if he was in good standing and the claims weren’t horrific, if there was no clear evidence….etc. we really don’t have enough info to blame anyone else right now..

  19. Doctor J Says:

    @Con#18 A required reporter must report when she/he has “reasonable suspicion”. The investigation is done by CPS or the police, not the school or district. Here is a whole primer from the CA Dept of Social Services, Office of Child Abuse Prevention.

  20. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a story about a Union City elementary teacher accused of sexually molesting students who was put on paid administrative leave in April, then upaid leave about a month later by board vote:

    It’s unclear whether Martin has been paid during his leave.

  21. Theresa Harrington Says:

    A former Martin student and the family has sued the district, alleging officials ignored complaints against Martin made in 2009-10:

    According to the Contra Costa County schools directory, Michelle Batesole was principal at that time.

  22. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#21 “Katy bar the door”

  23. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have left messages for Dr. Bernard, Jayne Williams and Cheryl Hansen, but have not heard back from any of them yet regarding the lawsuit.

    Interestingly, after the shooting in Newtown, the district was encouraging teachers to lock their doors and Board Vice President Barbara Oaks even suggested that all classrooms should have window coverings to keep intruders from seeing inside classrooms. But, this lawsuit alleges that an isolated classroom with at least one door that was often locked and windows that were obstructed may have contributed to an environment where back rubs and other inappropriate activities may have occurred outside the view of the rest of the school.

  24. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I just heard back from Jayne Williams. She said she was unaware of the lawsuit, since the district has not yet been served. She said the district has not received any claims related to this lawsuit or the charges filed by the district attorney. She said the police and DA are handling the criminal investigation and she had no response yet to the lawsuit, since she hadn’t yet seen it.

  25. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s the updated story with the district’s initial response:

    As schools develop Professional Learning Communities, it’s my understanding that individual teachers are not supposed to work in isolation. Is there a working PLC at Woodside?

  26. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s the lawsuit:

  27. g Says:

    Unfortunately, in a sloppy rush to be ‘first in line at the trough’ the lawsuit repeatedly refers to him James Andrew Martin.

  28. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, the first name is incorrect in several instances.

  29. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I just spoke to Dr. Bernard, who confirmed that Jennifer Sachs is his daughter. However, he said that would not affect the district’s participation in the investigation. He declined to comment on the lawsuit specifically, saying that is part of the investigation.

  30. Just_My_Two_Cents Says:

    I’m tired of hearing garbage (regarding Fiscal Services and Personnel) from a disgruntled employee that can’t get along with anyone.

  31. Concerned Parent Says:

    Was Barbara Oakes suggesting that windows should routinely be kept covered? What stupid idea.

    Sounds like a weak lawsuit.

    Theresa, Was the School Board aware of the molestation accusations at the time John Bernard was hired? Did they hire him knowing there was a conflict of interest? Does his daughter still work for MDUSD? How could they possibly keep him on as interim superintendent if his daughter was principal while Martin was there? This is an obvious conflict of interest that could have huge legal and financial consequences for MDUSD.

  32. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No, I don’t think Oaks was suggesting that windows should be routinely covered. But she wanted to be sure teachers had the ability to cover them quickly.

    Hansen has declined to comment on the allegations. However, the school board voted to dismiss Steven Lawrence and Greg Rolen the same day that the report was made to police and Martin was removed from the classroom. The closed session agenda says the board also received information about a “personnel issue” during that closed session. If the issue was related to Martin, then trustees did know at least about the initial allegation that led to the police report. However, they may not have known when they hired Bernard that the allegations stretched back to the time when Sachs was principal. That information didn’t come to light publicly until he was arrested at the end of June. Bernard was hired in May.

    I believe Jennifer Sachs currently works in the Pittsburg district as director of categorical programs: I don’t know where Michelle Batesole went. It’s my understanding Jenny Cronan will return as principal in the fall.

  33. Doctor J Says:

    @G#27 I agree with you — especially when he says he expects others will be joining the lawsuit. Jayne Williams also said “no claims” were filed with the district prior to the lawsuit being filed, apparently a legal requirement when suing a government entity.

    @TH#32 I believe, if my memory serves me, that Jen Sachs was promoted out of Woodside to the old Curriculum & Instruction as an assistant director, and then she became part of SASS as Assistant Director of Categoricals. When she left for Pittsburg Lorie O’Brien took her place. I may not have it exactly right but along those lines.

  34. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, I think that’s about right. I know that Lori O’Brien replaced Jen Sachs in SASS as head of categoricals, after Sachs left to go to Pittsburg, right before MDHS teachers revealed that the school was in danger of losing its QEIA grant because it failed to meet the requirements.

  35. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#34 That’s when Lorie O’Brien “recalculated” MDHS QEIA requirements and shazam — then the district was able to apply for a waiver based on the recalculations. It was nothing short of miraculous. So Lorie has her first “miracle” — she only needs one more for sainthood. :-)

  36. anon Says:

    There are many ???s here. Did either Sachs or O’Brien know about the concerns? If so, they were legally required to contact CPS, and should have also contacted the superintendent. If they superintendent knew, he had a legal obligation to conduct an internal investigation. And a tort claim has to be filed before the lawsuit.

  37. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#36 Why did you include Lorie O’Brien in your question ?

  38. anon Says:

    @36, only because there is so much not known. The lawsuit is brought by a child who was not molested, but was allegedly inappropriately touched in 2009-2010. I recall, and may be incorrect, that Sachs had already been promoted to curriculum and instruction at that point. Whether she had or had not, we don’t know all the causes of action in the complaint, and what knowledge has been attributed to district staff and administration before 09/10, during 09/10, and after 09/10.

    BTW, just as an interesting side note, Daniel Horowitz is the defense attorney and plaintiff’s lawyer whose wife was killed in the multi-million dollar home they were having built several years ago by an [apparently] emotionally disturbed teenage male. Horowitz has had some quite successful plaintiff verdicts.

  39. anon Says:

    @37, meant to write Batesole, not O’Brien, as principal in 09/10. Here’s an overview of the attorney who filed the case against MDUSD:

  40. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, I received an email yesterday from Board President Cheryl Hansen reiterating her previous comment. Here is what she wrote: “I can’t comment on an active, ongoing criminal investigation, and I would refer you to Jayne Williams, our interim general counsel, for any information.”

  41. Doctor J Says:

    @#40 I am not surprised by the statement — it makes sense in the best interests of the district. Nor will they comment on the civil case(s) for the same reasons — I would expect the district’s insurance company has been notified. I am sure the district is trying to determine if any district mandated reporters had “reasonable suspicion” and failed to report.

  42. anon Says:

    I still think one or more of these managers is going to go out in handcuffs one day. The BIG question will be:
    WHY WERE THE UPPER MANAGEMENT NOT FOCUSING ON THEIR MANAGERS, COMPLETELY OVERLOOKING PRACTICES AND BEHAVIORS WHILE CONSTANTLY TARGETING THE LITTLE PEOPLE? I just do not believe not one alert person saw anything odd. If so, they should not be making comments about what they ‘think’ might be happening in homes while they cannot spot problems under their noses. Big BIG upper management failure, as always, to address their management. TH, I have been out of town but still want to repost something I think is relevent. GET YOUR MANAGEMENT IN LINE AND YOU WON’T HAVE TO MICRO-MANAGER ANY MORE!!!!

  43. anon Says:

    Sorry, I meant I do not believe all these people never suspected anything odd with this individual. Any parents dragged into CPS issues might wonder how the schools can’t notice issues under their own nose. It is a disservice to the children. Is the district trying to squelch any people who saw odd behavior? Just don’t believe all these trained prof’nls suspected nothing.

  44. anon Says:

    [NOTE: This comment has been edited to delete references to specific employees]

    … I will relate somehting that shows what the Dent has become. … The predious posters ref to Sigmund Freud is not so far off. This is called Transference and is most certainly a red flag. … NO manager should make medical decisions or deny critical medical care. … cardiac, embolism, shock, seizures, et are very, very serious and time sensitive. Oxygen deprivation to the brain has a very limited window. Patients can be in excruciating pain and not be able to communicate. Conditions can go from serious to death. Death. Knowing the cause of a seizure does not mean you can control it. I would not work in an environment where I could have permanenet brain damage or die because of a managers decision to play dysfunctional parent and hide something. What if one of these employees has some type of an attack and the decision is made to let it go? Thisis, by far, one of the worst examples of dangerous, incompetant, heartless, decision-making I have ever heard of. I was appalled to hear about this … My God. …I am past appalled at this district. …

  45. anon Says:

    Dear TH,
    this is the item I wanted to repost because we are hearing about a breakdown of any stability in Fiscal. Again, I think they need to have a serious conversation regarding an employment situation at Comcast. I can tell you if a lawyer starts spending money on an investigator, they think there is something to be found. Should we get the egg-towel ready for District management?

  46. OMG!! Says:

    [This comment has been edited to delete unsubstantiated allegations]

    Dear Ms. Harrington, I know this is about that teacher but I am sitting here sobbing because I did not get paid as I was supposed to. I am so mad and so sick and tired of Payroll …. I do not know how many times I have been paid incorrectly or not at all and I am trying not to swear on this site. csea had it the worst …. . I am just shaking because I had a problem in June. why cant we have the county do our stuff? So so so so so sick of payroll …. . why do we keep this department?

  47. OMG!! Says:

    sorry, i think i might have hit this twice but my friend had his workers comp so screwed up he is asking workers comp to come in and review it. what would happen to an assistant who took care of kids like they take care of money?

  48. Annie CSEA Says:

    @OMG I do not know what you are talking about. Or who you think my buddy is. Did you call me with your problem? If not call me. I have fixed many a payroll problems. Just ask around. This is a volunteer job which I take very serious and spend a lot of hours doing. I do this because I don’t like the way people are treated. So, I suggest you call me and we’ll see what can be done. I can’t guess who you are or help if you don’t call.

  49. Fog A sponn Says:

    Sorry Annie, I agree, I don’t know this particular situation but many, many people have gone to csea and we all know who the problem person in payroll is. Do you know what the sailor term lifer means? Look it up. That manager is useless to talk to and you, yes you Annie, should have insisted our paycheck processing was removed from the generous lady in payroll or we should have been keeping track of every error every month and going to the board. It may be csea who goes to the teamsters before local 1. This woman may be someone’s little fixer but you need to step up getting us over to the county or paychex or another school district. don’t get hurt feelings because you have covered for her for years.

  50. Annie CSEA Says:

    I do not know who you are talking about. I have gone to payroll many times to get problems fixed. If people don’t call me I don’t know about their issues. And I don’t know about many. Yes, there are problems and as for as I know the ones I did where taken care of. I’m not the only one that gets calls and the other ones have not brought anything up to me. It doesn’t hurt my feeling. You can call anytime. I would like to get this cleared up.

  51. soooo frustrated Says:

    Annie CSEA,

    I have a question for you totally not related to anything posted here…not a complaint, just a point of clarification needed. I was wondering if you would be willing to post an email where I could send you my question.

  52. Annie CSEA Says:

    If you are a member of CSEA it’s in every news letter and my number also. Call or Email

  53. soooo frustrated Says:


    Ok Thanks!

  54. Doctor J Says:

    Police investigating school district for failure to mandatory report — no its not MDUSD but in Redlands. Good analysis of the duty to report to law enforcement as opposed to no duty to investigate on behalf of the district. I wonder if the Concord Police will investigate MDUSD ?

  55. Theresa Harrington Says:

    And here’s an interesting story about an Ohio school board member who helped uncover embezzlement in a district that was secretive about its spending:

  56. g Says:

    And, here’s the follow-up on the embezzlement.

  57. fog a spoon Says:

    [NOTE: This comment has been edited to delete a name and unsubstantiated allegation.]

    The district has been reported to everybody known to mankind by employees or ex-employees. If I am to believe what I have heard or been told directly: FBI, CCC Office of Ed, Local police, State insurance investigators, ADL, NAACP, La Raza, you name it. This district is so degraded at this point, what will probably happen is nothing, nothing, nothing, then BAM, everything at once. It is too far gone.

  58. fog a spoon Says:

    By the way, feel free to call the white collar crime unit of the Concord Police, they know all the “players” names by now. They have been unwilling due to the fact that it is a school district to take what I consider to be appropriate action leaving a group of employees to go FED. I agree, somebody is going to be in a lot of trouble there at some point. Once the dept of ED gets their hands in it, forget it.

  59. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have received an email from someone who was concerned about comments that make unsubstantiated allegations about named employees, who are not public officials. In response to that concern, I am deleting or editing some previously posted comments. Please do not post comments that attack people by name, especially if they are unsubstantiated allegations. Thank you.

  60. Anon too Says:

    Annie – How many times will you go back to Payroll to fix one-off miscalculations before any real action is taken?

    I’m an outsider and find it hard to believe that you continually go to Payroll to have things fixed but never fix the true underlying issue – the incompentence.

    From what I’m reading, Houston we have a problem! Will someone please fix it?

  61. Cry me a river Says:

    Well, well, well, the bullies must be whining away. Just have to be dishing it out? Lets leave names out and just say we have a manager, lest call him hypothetically: Mr. Edsel. FYI Antioch Fiscal Manager (don’t even try for it, Mr. Edsel)starts at 7441 to 9525 per month and you must have good communication skills and adopt effective course of action and operate (I assume they don’t cuff it to them)computer equipment. I just found out someone 21 years old (NOT ME)tried to get a home loan with my social. Thanks sensitive Mr. Edsel.

  62. Cry me a river Says:

    Also want to say that if an employee does not have access or custody of a child, it would be prudent to find out, since the are working for a school and we seem to not catch things, if this is some sad personal decision or if there is something which would preclude them from working at the district.
    TH you can take names out but don’t let these people bully free speech. If they have a right to show up and act whacko, we should have the right to ask the hard questions!

  63. Doctor J Says:

    Big victory in CA Supreme Court for open access to public records.

  64. Doctor J Says:

    @CryMe Here is a link that as a victim of the theft, you should be able to get PRA access to the following information from Concord PD: Information that must be disclosed: Names and addresses of persons involved in incident; Names and addresses of witnesses (other that confidential informants) to the incident; The description of any property involved; The date, time and location of the incident; All diagrams of the incident; Statements of the parties involved in the incident; and The statements of all witnesses (other than confidential informants). – See more at:

  65. Doctor J Says:

    Another court victory yesterday for the PRA against a school district where the newspaper asked for all of the Supt’s emails for a whole year !

  66. anon Says:

    TH, Aware they are firing one employee and fake-firing another one? One has already been told she will not be fired but must show up for a phony hearing. Also one employee had to pursue a restraining order against another employee? Where is the G.D. management? If the employees are acting like kids, so be it, but where is the management? NOT in ANY way believing this laptop was stolen any more, not one bit. If they do fire this employee than it would be open up a firing discussion re lost equipment or not properly stored equipment or securitized equipment!!! Pave the way!! What is the difference between losing electronic data to stupidity or trying to use it, if incorrectly, for some good? Why is the outcome of one employee getting canned and the other going through the motions allowed? Why waste everybody’s time. I dont know about what names you can say or not say but I think a frank discussion about the CFO is long overdue. These are not the people to upgrade the district, these are the people who were in charge while it collapsed. Also, very, very disap in this board. No difference at all except this one does nothing with its heart in the right place. Anybody feel better?

  67. anon Says:

    BTW, thank you Dr. J, you are the best! I want to read this police report and may be speaking at a board meeting myself at some point.
    DRUM the BUMS!

  68. Doctor J Says:

    Aren’t the MDUSD GRAND JURY RESPONSES about due ? Where has been the public hearing on the responses ?

  69. Doctor J Says:

    Tomorrow’s school board special meeting agenda, more employee discipline, more lawsuits, labor negotiations, and preliminary consideration of Supt candidates.

  70. Flippin' Tired Says:

    Why is Loreen Joseph still “signing” as the Secretary to the Superintendent? She quit the day after Dr. Lawrence was removed. Isn’t there a substitute Secretary in place?

  71. Mad as Heck Says:

    Dear TH, I know we are not supposed to say anything about the little darling’s but can SOMEONE PLEASE TELL PAYROLL TO SEND THE INFORMATION TO WESTERN FEDERAL SO WE CAN GET PAID? I constantly have to call, every payday to get them to do their jobs. Western claims they have tried to get them in line with no luck. Without mentioning names, that department has gone downhill – further downhill. They fight with me on the phone and seem to fight with Western and anybody else. Nobody is trying to be mean we just want you to do your jobs. whatever happened TO LETTING US DIVERT OUR PAYROLL TO THE COUNTY???? We should have that choice but our unions are too weak to take any action. Let us go Teamsters if we want and let us take our finances to the county. Nothing personnel just cutting out the stress. WE CANNOT WITHDRAW MONEY OR PAY BILLS UNTIL YOU DO YOUR JOB! I am sick of this and don’t care about how busy anybody is because this is what you should be busy with, not fighting with everybody. Can’t have it all and cry on your own time!

  72. Doctor J Says:

    I wonder who does the audits of the MDUSD Student Body funds and then approves the audits ? When was the last time they were audited ?

  73. Doctor J Says:

    Answered my own question. 😉 They are included in the audit that Christy White does — approved by the Board at the end of last January, and shows there were a few discrepencies in the ASB funds, but no dollar details. Its interesting to compare White’s with the SDUSD audit — San Diego much more complete.

  74. Anon Says:

    Anyone heard anything from the board meeting this afternoon?

  75. Doctor J Says:

    Here is an excerpt from an article this afternoon — nothing else: “The claim names Martin, former Woodside principal Jennifer Sachs, former Woodside principal Michele Batesole, current Woodside principal Jenny Cronan, former superintendent Steven Lawrence and former general counsel Greg Rolen as district employees who failed to prevent the abuse, alleging officials received allegations against the teacher as early as 2007 but did nothing. State law requires school district employees to report child abuse allegations to police or Child Protective Services.”

  76. Doctor J Says:

    I just went back and read the Addendums approved for Rolen and Lawrence back in March — both have reimbursement clauses [Rolen #12 & Lawrence #15] if they are guilty of certain things — does any one know if that would include failure to report suspected child abuse by a mandatory reporter where they would have to refund to the district their buyouts ? I just don’t know if that would be true or not. Anyone know ?

  77. Anon Says:

    thanks Dr J….anything on the new superintendent?

  78. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#76 Hope Theresa is back tomorrow and can get the “report out”. I still think its important to know the total number of applicants just to judge the interest. They were due 30 days ago, and the Board just had their first meeting to discuss the applicants. As far as the tragedy at Woodside, we now know there are two attorneys involved and this claim discussed today named a cast of characters — once all the victims lawyer-up there could be ten or more lawsuits. Then the shark lawyers will start taking depositions and the cast of characters could easily expand or change. Who told who what and who did they share it with ? See my post #14 above indicates that “A person who fails to make a required report is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or up to a $1000 fine, or both. (P.C. 11166(b)). He or she may also be found civilly liable for
    damages, especially if the child-victim or another child is further victimized because of the failure to report. (Landeros vs. Flood (1976) 17C.3d 399).” Remember that since 2007 we have had 4 Supts and are about to hire another one. Also remember that Rose Lock was Asst Supt over Elementary, and was she told ? It could be like dominos knocking each other over. And don’t forget that it would not be out of the ordinary for the 2007 principal, if she had reasonable suspicion, called her Supt father ? Right now its just speculation, but who knows where the breadcrumbs will lead. Will the district have enough insurance ? Remember the laptop theft may have used up a lot of the insurance depending on how it is written. It all could become very complicated. And lest we forget the victims, it will be a lot for them to go through too.
    Does anyone remember what Greg Rolen said about insurance limits when discussing the laptop theft??

  79. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FT: Yes, good question. Joseph now works for the County Office of Ed.

  80. anontoo Says:

    Dr. J @76, I am aware that Rolen had no love for Jennifer Sachs, and I do believe that if he had known about the accusations against the teacher, he would have launched a full investigation. Ironically, even though had his own missteps, Rolen would have loathed the activity of the teacher. I do believe he did not know about it at the time.

  81. Doctor J Says:

    @Anontoo#80 I don’t want to speculate on who knew what and when did they know it — I hope that no mandated reporter failed to report and would have to carry that guilt of 11 children being molested because of a failure to report. On the other hand, the victims lawyers may be claiming, and I don’t know but it kind of sounded it in the article, that the district did not have the mandated training and other procedures for ensuring that all mandated reporters knew their duty. Who exactly was responsible for that from 2007 forward is pretty unclear in light of the confusion in the training earlier this year where the classified’s were not being trained. Lets also remember that Steven Lawrence was not even hired until February 1, 2010. I just think we are going to have to see how the new General Counsel and the victim’s lawyers sort this whole thing out and “where the bread crumbs lead to”. Its not going to be pretty.

  82. Doctor J Says:

    Audio has been posted for yesterday’s Board Meeting.

  83. Teacher Says:

    It is important also to note that it is possible to report something to the proper place and have them tell you they can not do anything because of lack of evidence and/or investigate and not be able to prove allegations.

  84. Doctor J Says:

    @Teacher#83 And there is nothing wrong with that, but there will be a written record of the required written follow up report. “Mandated reporters must report to a county child welfare department or to local law enforcement (police or sheriff’s department) immediately by phone. A written report must then be sent within 36 hours by fax, or it may be sent by electronic submission, if a secure system has been made available for that purpose in your county. Written reports must be submitted on the California Suspected Child Abuse Report Form 8572.” See this website:

  85. Doctor J Says:

    Speaking of mandatory reporting — is anyone following the Walnut Creek scandal when the investigation into who knew what and when did they know it, went up the chain to the top of city government. This exact kind of investigation might be going on right now in MDUSD.

  86. Parent Says:

    Teacher @83 It is my understanding that the 2007 report was made by teachers to the principle. Neither the teachers or the administration contacted CPS.

  87. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Parent, We are very interested in finding out more about the alleged 2007 report. Please call me at 945-4764 or email me at with any information you may be willing to share, on or off the record. You (or anyone else with information about this) can also contact investigative reporter Matthias Gafni at 952-5026 or or court reporter Malaika Fraley at 234-1684 or Thank you.

  88. Doctor J Says:

    The Board adopted in 2004 Board Policy and Administrative Regulation 5141.4 which places the responsibility for training the employees on Mandatory Reporting on the Supt. So I guess we add to the cast of characters, the teachers, principal and at least 3 Supt’s: Gary McHenry, Dick Nicoll and Steven Lawrence. The lawyers will have a field day asking them about what training they provided to the employees according to Board Policy and AR. BTW, I had forgot about the terrific article by Theresa and others on the Bay Area News Group survey about Mandatory Reporting.

  89. Theresa Harrington Says:

    As a reminder, Felicia Stuckey-Smith and Julie Braun-Martin responded in the survey that the district didn’t have a mandatory reporting policy.

  90. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#89 Tragic when you think that one is a J.D. that is Director of Student Services and the other is the Assistant Supt for Personnel. Ironically, the AR says: “Within 36 hours of receiving the information concerning the incident, the mandated reporter shall prepare and send to the appropriate agency a written report which includes a completed Department of Justice form. (Penal Code 11166, 11168) A copy of the form should be submitted to the Student Services Office and a copy kept at the school.” Add two more to the cast of characters. If you think the shark lawyers are getting ready for a feeding frenzy, don’t forget the deposition reporters. Maybe the Board should add to the list of questions to the prospective Superintendents: How often do you read the Board Policies, By-laws and Administrative Regulations?

  91. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Annie Nolen was sounding the alarm to Julie Braun-Martin and others, begging the district to provide training, but her concerns were not taken seriously until state Superintendent Tom Torlakson asked districts to report on how they were training their employees and the CCT sent out a survey asking what kind of training was being offered:

    In this video, Nolen says the district wouldn’t have to worry about these lawsuits if it offered proper training to employees.

  92. Theresa Harrington Says:

    As a reminder, here are the district’s responses to our mandated reporting survey, along with responses to my follow-up questions:

    Initial survey response:

    My emailed follow-up questions:

    “You responded ‘yes’ to the question: ‘Do you require all employees who come in contact with children, including teachers, administrators and staff, to receive mandated reporting training?’

    On the next question, which asked how often they are trained, you responded: ‘Mandated reporters should be trained once every school year.’

    On the next question, which asked ‘How many total mandated reporters work in your district?’, you responded: ‘All certificated employees.’

    On the next questions, which asked how many mandated reporters were trained this year and last year, you responded ‘Unknown at this time.’

    On the question asking what the training entails, you responded: ‘Reviewing the definition of child abuse, persons designated by law as mandated reports, how to report and the suspected child abuse report form.’

    Here are my questions:

    1. Do you also train all classified employees who are mandated reporters? If not, why not?

    2. Do you actually train all mandated reporters every year, or are you just aware that you SHOULD train them once a year?

    3. How is the training administered? Who reviews the information with the employees? Or, are they given written materials to review on their own?

    4. Annie Nolen has told me that she has repeatedly asked the district to use an online mandated reporter training, which she believes would be more comprehensive, but the district has refused. In light of the recent news reports where some school employees failed to report known or suspected abuse, do you believe it might be prudent to strengthen the district’s training?

    5. Some districts – such as those in Lamorinda – bring in representatives from the Child Abuse Prevention Council to provide free, comprehensive trainings, which include discussions of various possible scenarios employees might encounter, along with an opportunity to ask questions. Do you believe MDUSD employees might benefit from such a training?


  93. Sue Berg Says:

    I know that Mandated Reporting training was provided to K-Adult Principals on several occasions during McHenry’s tenure. I was a participant. Each presentation was given by an attorney; there were many questions and serious discussions. I’ve heard that the training has been provided to some extent at the annual New Teachers Orientation. Calls made to CPS and local police departments are not rare, but they are confidential. It is fitting and not surprising that the public hears about only those in which official charges are filed.

  94. Doctor J Says:

    @Sue#93 Since they were done by outside attorneys it should be easily ascertainable by checking the prior billings with dates of the trainings.

  95. Doctor J Says:

    @Theresa#92 The supplemental response by Julie B-M and Felicia S-S,JD was a laugher since Tom Torlakson recommended on February 14, 2013 in a letter to Steven Lawrence ” the California Department of Social Services Child Abuse Mandated Reporter Training Web page at

  96. Doctor J Says:

    “As educators, our most important duty is the protection of the children in our care.” Tom Torlakson

  97. Teacher Says:

    Pretty sure all teachers and administrators are aware they are mandated reporters. I’ve been in the district a long time and have heard it in one form or another every year.

  98. anon Says:

    @94, McHenry hired Rolen in 2005. (yes, he created the position for him; Sue Berg has never mentioned this in her posts, but she knows it is true.) Before Rolen was hired, Miller Brown and Dannis provided the training. After Rolen was hired, he presumably would have taken over that responsibility as general counsel, although he still could have contracted it out. You would be looking at pre-Rolen billings most likely, however,

  99. anon Says:

    @94, ok J, I know you never miss a beat, I should say the Board hired Rolen, but McHenry created the position for Rolen in 2005 and the Board approved his contract.

  100. Sue Berg Says:

    Anon, McHenry created the position of General Counsel, but he certainly did not create it for any particular person. Greg Rolen was one of several attorneys who applied. The final selection was made following a lengthy interview process by the Superintendent’s Council as a group.

  101. anon Says:

    @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 :)

  102. Doctor J Says:

    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.

  103. Teacher Says:

    Why not at District Office?

  104. Anon Says:

    confidentiality for the applicants – standard procedure for this process.

  105. Sue Berg Says:

    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.

  106. anon Says:

    @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.

  107. Parent Says:

    Why are the interviews taking place outside of the district?

    Embassy Suites is in Walnut Creek/Acalanes District.

  108. Doctor J Says:

    Another court victory for the Public Records Act to release teacher ratings.–20130801,0,165579.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lanowblog+%28L.A.+Now%29

  109. Doctor J Says:

    @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.

  110. Theresa Harrington Says:

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

  111. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.”

  112. Doctor J Says:

    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.

  113. Theresa Harrington Says:

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

  114. Doctor J Says:

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

  115. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.

  116. Doctor J Says:

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

  117. Theresa Harrington Says:

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

  118. Doctor J Says:

    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.

  119. Doctor J Says:

    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 ?

  120. teacher Says:

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

  121. Doctor J Says:

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

  122. Teacher Says:

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

  123. Doctor J Says:

    @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.

  124. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.

  125. Teacher Says:

    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

  126. Doctor J Says:

    @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” ?

  127. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.

  128. Doctor J Says:

    From the CDE: Notice the link to the “Reporting Tip Sheet” — never seen this handed out in MDUSD.

  129. Doctor J Says:

    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.

  130. Teacher Says:

    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

  131. Doctor J Says:

    A+ Sorry for being sarcastic towards you.

  132. Fog A Spoon Says:

    #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.

  133. Doctor J Says:

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

  134. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.

  135. Doctor J Says:

    @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.

  136. Doctor J Says:

    The on-line description of Dept of Student Services doesn’t say anything about overseeing certificated and classified staff in training for Mandatory Reporting.

  137. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.

  138. Doctor J Says:

    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.

  139. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.

  140. Theresa Harrington Says:

    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.”

  141. Doctor J Says:

    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.

  142. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a YouTube video on what it means to be a mandated reporter:

  143. Concerned Says:

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

  144. Concerned Says:

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

  145. Theresa Harrington Says:

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

  146. Doctor J Says:

    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.

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