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Mt. Diablo school board names superintendent finalist from San Diego

By Theresa Harrington
Wednesday, August 7th, 2013 at 7:21 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

I received an e-mail from Mt. Diablo school board President Cheryl Hansen this afternoon that names Dr. Nellie Meyer, who is a Deputy Superintendent in San Diego, as the finalist for the superintendent position.

Hansen said she sent the following letter to district staff updating them on the appointment process and she wanted to make sure that I also received the information, which she said I could share with the public. Here is Hansen’s letter:

“August 7, 2013

TO: Mt. Diablo Unified School District Staff

FROM: Cheryl Hansen, Board President

RE: Update on Appointment of New Superintendent

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District Board of Education is pleased to announce that we have unanimously chosen Dr. Nellie Meyer as the finalist for the position of Superintendent. Currently, Dr. Meyer is Deputy Superintendent in San Diego Unified School District.

Final negotiations for a contract are in progress. As part of the final process, the board will conduct a validation visit within the next two weeks to Dr. Meyer’s district and hold teleconferences between MDUSD and SDUSD stakeholder groups. The Board expects that ratification of the appointment of Dr. Nellie Meyer as our district’s next superintendent will occur at our regular board meeting on August 28, 2013.

Based on the feedback received from our parents, staff, and community
members and, after a rigorous screening and interview process, Dr. Meyer was chosen from an outstanding field of candidates as the best match for our district needs.

Dr. Meyer’s experience and credentials are exactly what we need in our district.

She has developed strong connections among community, district, schools, and classrooms and worked to ensure that schools are positive learning environments that are supported and focused on improving student achievement and preparing students for college and careers. She has engendered trust, fostered collaboration and communication, built and maintained relationships while raising expectations and increasing student success.

Dr. Meyer, a native San Diegan, began as a teacher’s aide at Jackson
Elementary while she attended San Diego State University, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. She also received her Master’s Degree in Administration and her Doctoral Degree in Education from SDSU. Dr. Meyer holds teaching credentials in Social Science, English, and Language Development. She has taught everything from fifth grade literacy to eighth grade Algebra to twelfth grade Economics.

Dr. Meyer has presented at national conferences on topics including school turnaround, dropout prevention, and school system best practices. She has also led and served on numerous community task forces designed to further student achievement at all grade levels, partner with universities, and support at-risk youth.

Prior to her current position, Dr. Meyer served as a middle school teacher, high school teacher, dean of students, vice principal, principal, Assistant Superintendent of High Schools, Chief High School Improvement Officer, Executive Director of Dropout Prevention, Interim Chief Elementary School Improvement Officer, Interim Deputy Superintendent, and Deputy Superintendent of Academics.

The Board of Education made our decision with input gathered from key
stakeholder groups in Mt. Diablo USD regarding the qualities desired in the next superintendent. Dr. Michael Escalante and Dr. Sally Frazier, consultants from the firm of Leadership Associates, assisted us in our search.

Dr. Meyer is honored to have been chosen and excited about serving our community. She looks forward to the opportunity to share successes that she has implemented as well as to support programs that are successfully in place in our district.

The Board of Education is equally excited and optimistic about the positive leadership that Dr. Meyer will bring to our school community.”

Do you agree with the school board’s decision?

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

185 Responses to “Mt. Diablo school board names superintendent finalist from San Diego”

  1. Doctor J Says:

    WOWSA !!! Impressive leadership. Impressive results. Look at how the students are now soaring in their learning. check out her report to the board on how the district did. Looks like Cheryl Hansen and the Board found a real gem.$file/Cluster%20Governance%201-11-11%20BOE%20Presentation.pdf

    Steven who ?

  2. anon4 Says:

    Things are looking up with the new superintendent and the improved admin. at MDHS. With the principal and her two inner circle vp’s gone, MDHS has a chance.

  3. teacher Says:

    TH – Your dichotomous question does not really invite a productive conversation and I don’t think that we have enough information to determine if we agree or disagree with the board’s decision. At this point, our elected officials are much better informed and therefore better able to determine if this candidate is the best candidate for MDUSD. We don’t even have any information about other candidates for comparison. We might have an opinion about whether it appears that she is a fit for MDUSD based on the summary of her work that is presented in the letter (and any google search we have conducted), but we do not have enough information to determine if it is a good decision. How about considering a question such as: “What stated qualities or experiences does this candidate possess that will benefit MDUSD and why?” Or even, “What experiences or qualities are lacking and why?”

  4. Michael Langley Says:

    San Diego has 135,000 students and the Supt salary is $250,000. Any information on the offer from MDUSD?

  5. Doctor J Says:

    Dr. Meyer’s dissertation was on preventing high school dropouts.

  6. Retired Says:

    I am having such a problem to find this On Assignment on the new format of the Times. Any suggestions?

  7. teacher Says:

    Another question might be: “How does her experience match up with the district’s goals/Strategic Plan, etc,?”

  8. Theresa Harrington Says:

    You are certainly welcome to pose your own questions or to add comments that may not directly answer the question that I pose.

    As far as finding the blog on the CCT’s new website, there is a link if you click on ON Assignment on the education page at

    It sounds like MDUSD’s offer may still be in the negotiations stage.

  9. Doctor J Says:

    @Teacher, what are your concerns about Dr. Meyer ?

  10. teacher Says:

    @9 None at this time. In fact, from what I read, it sounds like she has many qualities that will benefit our students and the community as a whole.

    My concern is that when a “yes/no” question is asked, it does not invite healthy dialogue. And that particular question asks readers to give opinions with very little knowledge about the topic. I don’t think that opinions that are based on questionable or partial information support our work in MDUSD. When we are well-informed, we can develop fact or experience-based opinions and then engage in purposeful, outcome-based dialogue.

  11. Teacher Says:

    FYI There are two people posting as Teacher. The one wiring here is not the same one who posted about mandatory reporting. I will be changing my posting name

  12. Doctor J Says:

    @T#10 I understand your well taken point but in TH’s defense, I don’t think her question invites unhealthy dialog. A blog depends on all participants doing their own research or relying on that of others and expressing opinions.
    To add to your opinion, I think Dr. Meyer will also be good for district and site staff. She just spent 3 years under the tutelage of her former Supt., who was a retired Admiral. Hopefully she learned something from him about organizational behavior and structure and how to instill morale in the staff. It appears she did, because she comes to this district with something the last 3 Supts have not had: a record of success in closing the achievement gap. The powerpoint I referenced in #1 was accomplishments after only TWO years ! Quite impressive. Remember that several of the Asst Supt/CFO contracts expire next June. She will then have an opportunity after 10 months to keep or replace people with her own team. Frankly, I am surprised how well she matches up with what the Board and community thought a Supt should be.

  13. Doctor J Says:

    Meas C and especially the YVHS sports complex might be in for some rough sailing under the new Supt — remember that court case decided in April: Taxpayers v. San Diego Unified School District that said stadium lights were not covered by the generalized terms of the Bond. I think Dr. Meyer knows something about the specificity required in 55% bonds.

  14. Doctor J Says:

    Honored by Phi Delta Kappa.

  15. @ Retired Says:

    Once you are on the page, save it as a shortcut to your desktop.

    To do this, right click on the On Assignmnet web page, select Create Shortcut and Yes to the next Dialgue box to save shortcut to your desktop.

  16. Doctor J Says:

    STAR results released. MDUSD’s results are UGLY according to my sampling, which indicates the district will likely drop significantly in its API. Guess what ? CVCHS has massive gains — will see their API soar. Watch out Northgate, here comes Clayton Valley. The overall Elementary numbers appear to be down significantly. I took a look at one of the SIG schools, Rio Vista and its drop is significant. This district-wide drop is an indictment of the failure of leadership of Asst Supt Rose Lock and SASS, and of course Steven Lawrence who was Supt up until the STAR tests when he was relieved of his command. SASS has spent millions of taxpayer dollars on consultant and “substitute teacher” costs while teachers are taken out of the classroom, plus boondoggle trips to Whittier and other place with no reports or implementation of change –its just business as usual. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Its time for new leadership in MDUSD — our new Supt has a record of success; something our other leaders don’t.

  17. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s my STAR test story:

  18. Doctor J Says:

    This note in red on MDHS Star Test results: “A security breach involving social media exposure of 2013 STAR test material has been confirmed at this school site. Caution should be used when interpreting these results.”

  19. Theresa Harrington Says:

    That note also appears on two Antioch schools.

  20. Theresa Harrington Says:

    CDE says 16 schools had this.

  21. Doctor J Says:

    11,314 Public and Charter schools in California, and we have one of the 16 schools with a security breach. Where were the proctors ?

  22. Doctor J Says:

    Sounds like Mt Diablo HS is considered one of the 16 most serious cheaters and in danger of losing its API ranking for two years.

  23. Teacher Says:

    Dr. J as a SIG school educator I would like to know what data you are looking at. I did not see a significant drop at Rio Vista. Thanks

  24. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No, MDHS is not one of the 16. Those schools had an additional sentence on their flags warning that the breach may have an impact on the school’s accountability progress reporting. This is the type of flag received by Lowell HS in San Francisco, which is one of the 16 with “serious” breaches:

  25. Doctor J Says:

    Dr. Nellie Meyer was definitely the right choice. While most of the state STAR scores dropped, San Diego’s rose. “In San Diego Unified, 65 percent of students reached proficiency in English, a 3 point gain in the subject since last year. District spokesman Jack Brandais noted that San Diego Unified’s score in the subject was the best among the state’s big urban districts, breaking last year’s tie with San Francisco.
    In other district results, 52 percent of San Diego Unified students reached proficiency in math, matching last year’s result, 54 percent reached proficiency in history for a 1 point gain from last year and 67 percent reached proficiency in science for a 1.5 percent gain.” WOW !

  26. Doctor J Says:

    @T#23 Comparison of the 2012 and 2013 scores. Of course, the API and AYP calculations will clarify the interpretation, but I doubt that Rio Vista will maintain the massive gains seen last year let alone have two consecutive years of sustained growth. We will know in about a month. Its one thing to have massive gains in one year, but to have them in two consecutive years is a sign of sustained growth and improvement. Few schools have ever done that in MDUSD, Delta View being one of them.

  27. Doctor J Says:

    Sorry TH I misinterpreted your comment in post #20. I guess the notation I reference in my post #18 was on more than 16 schools.

  28. Doctor J Says:

    New job posting for Principal at Sequoia Middle School just 3 weeks before school. What happened to Connie Cirimeli ?

  29. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Of the 16 schools with serious breaches, four were in Bay Area disricts: East Side Union HS dist., Pittsburg, Pleasanton and SFUSD. Of the 226 non-serious breaches, three were in MDUSD: Horizons, CPHS and MDHS. WCCUSD also had three: De Anza HS, El Cerrito HS and Kennedy HS.

  30. Doctor J Says:

    District were warned in March to take precautions. Did MDUSD report any irregularities to CDE ? “In 2012, the CDE discovered that images of test questions, answer documents, and test booklets had been posted to social networking sites. The CDE takes these breaches in security seriously and will continue to actively monitor social networking sites to search for such images. The STAR DFAs require that test examiners make sure students clear their desks of and stow away all books, electronic devices, and other materials not needed for the test. It is imperative that test examiners actively monitor students while test materials are present (before testing begins, while students are completing the test, and when students complete testing early and are engaged in quiet activities) to ensure that students are not using any unauthorized materials (electronic devices included) in the presence of test materials.

    The 2013 “Security Affidavit for Test Examiners, Proctors, Translators, Scribes, and Any Other Persons Having Access to STAR Tests” has been modified to further stress school and district staff responsibilities for maintaining test security, including ensuring that students do not access any unauthorized electronic devices. You can find the updated STAR Test Security Affidavit and STAR Test Security Agreement forms on the ETS Forms Web page at

    In the event that an LEA identifies a security breach or testing irregularity, regulations (5 CCR Section 859) require that the LEA immediately notify the CDE. Compromises to valid and reliable test results will have a consequential impact on fair and accurate reporting of school and district academic accountability measures and can result in testing irregularity penalties (e.g., adjustments to the school’s adequate yearly progress [AYP] or academic performance index [API] accountability measures and/or ineligibility for CDE award programs [e.g., Distinguished Schools]).”

  31. Doctor J Says:

    New job posting this afternoon for Woodside Principal just 3 week before the start of school. Certainly they had filled this since it has been vacant for over a month — wonder if the person backed out or didn’t pass the muster.

  32. Doctor J Says:

    Sue Brothers resigned. Agenda posted.

  33. teacher Says:

    @ Dr. J #26 – Can you be more clear about which data you compared? Looking at the Dept of Ed data from 2012 and 2013 I am not seeing the significant decrease for Rio Vista that you are reporting. I know how hard the students and teachers are working to keep moving forward and I would hate for there to be any confusion when speaking about a specific school site. Thanks.

  34. Doctor J Says:

    @#33 When I compared the 2011 with 2012 STAR test results and knowing how the API and AYP scored, I then compared the STAR test scores between 2012 and 2013. I saw in my analysis a big difference. Lets hope that I misinterpreted, but we will know in a few weeks when we see the API. If I am wrong, I will stand corrected I am a big believer in the increased instructional time required by SIG, and the 2012 massive gains among the SIG schools were a testament to that — if there had been the increased instructional time during the first year of SIG as there was supposed to be [2011], we would have seen more progress. Its sad we wasted a whole year of SIG and now its over for the 3 Bay Point schools. Unfortunately I don’t think we will see the same massive gains in 2013. So what happens now for 2013/14 that the increased instructional time is not funded ?

  35. teacher Says:

    @ #34 Thanks for the clarification. Yes the increase in there scores is a smaller increase than last years in some areas but not a drop in their scores like I thought you meant. As far as losing the instructional time – I know that the goal has been to refine teaching practices so I am optimistic that the SIG schools will continue to see growth even without the additional hour. It should also be interesting to see how different schools in the district respond to the change from content standards to common core standards. I know this coming year is bringing a lot of hybrid programs to campuses across the district. I am really interested in seeing how that all plays out.

  36. teacher Says:

    #35 edit – there – their (It must be time for a weekend break!)

  37. Anon Says:

    Looks like the special Ed department at Dent was gutted and new program specialists are coming in.

  38. anon Says:

    @37 that is fantastic new! hope its true. There has been too much unethical conduct in that Dept.

  39. Doctor J Says:

    What happened to the 45 day Budget revise that was due today — nothing on the Board agenda for Wednesday. Apparently the district is NOT budgeting for Class Size Reduction as required by the LCFF. That would create a loss of $7.6 million dollars in state funding.

  40. Md Tech Says:

    Do you have any comment, or further info regarding post #39 by Doctor J?

    Is this accurate?

    I would also be interested in hearing about this new superintendent. We have seen a lot of ‘canned’ information about her, like what we might see on a resume. Have teachers in San Diego had a positive opinion of her? I’d be interested in knowing if she plans to send her own kids to our district schools too….

    Thanks for this forum, and the quality work.

  41. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Md tech: I will look into the budget further.

    Regarding Meyer, I have received several emails from a person who says she’s part of a group in San Diego that does not agree with everything Hansen says about Meyer. I also plan to look into this further.

  42. Doctor J Says:

    @MdTech#40 Take a look at this letter from Kirst and Torlakson of Aug 7 to all Superintendents.

    The MDUSD Board Grand Jury responses are overdue — nothing on the Agenda for Wednesday.

  43. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The West Contra Costa school board promptly adopted a 45-day budget revision, with a detailed presentation to the board. It’s unclear why that isn’t happening in MDUSD, but I’ll ask.

  44. anon Says:

    Anyone else notice that Sue Brothers has resigned? Listed on the agenda.

  45. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: Yes, that was mentioned by another commenter previously. I’ll do a new blog post shortly for comments about the Wednesday board meeting.

    On a positive note, photos for Trustees Barbara Oaks and Brian Lawrence are finally posted on the district’s website:

  46. Doctor J Says:

    The $712 per K-3 student “adjustment” for Class Size Reduction kicks in this school year 2013/14. Schools do not have to meet the 24 child per grade level average this year, but must make a minimum percentage reduction, which I think WCC said was about 12%. The independent Legislative Analyst said about the penalty for not making the reduction: “were a particular school site in a district to exceed an average class size of 24, the district would lose the K-3 adjustment for all its K-3 school sites.” I believe WCC in their 45 day revise budget about 25 extra K-3 teachers. MDUSD is playing Ostrich and has not even addressed the issue. See the Legislative Analyst report on the LCFF:

  47. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Regarding the Dir. of Elem, MDUSD is converting that position to a school support admin position, citing “reorganization”:

    No mention of who is taking on those duties, though, or who approved the reorg.

  48. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#47 Holy Cow ! $132,817 for a School Support Administrator ??? Are you kidding me ? On May 11, 2010 when Steven Lawrence proposed to the Board the formation of SASS, a School Support Administrator was listed at $101,475 and the Director of Elementary was listed at $114,517. How did this suddenly mushroom by $31,000 ? And what about all of the Board approved Job Descriptions — you are right Theresa, who is taking on ALL of the responsibilities of the Director of Elementary as listed in the Board approved Job Description ??

  49. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Another interesting tidbit is the elimination of the After school administrator and creation of a “fiscal analyst I” position for after-school programs. Was the administrator the job Gretchen Jacobs got after parents complained about her leadership as principal of Sun Terrace? However, I remember the district also created another after-school administrator position at the same time.

  50. Doctor J Says:

    All these significant changes BURIED in the Consent Calendar. I think Jimmy Hoffa must be buried in some consent calendar someplace, that’s why they can’t find him ! :-)

  51. Doctor J Says:

    And why do we have months and months of unapproved minutes ? There doesn’t even seem to be an effort to do minutes for the last few meetings. Why ?

  52. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Another significant change is the creation of two districtwide bilingual interpreter/translator positions:

    There has been no discussion of the AIS contract, although Bryan Richards and Deb Cooksey both told me they expected to bring it back for board approval, after Marisol Padilla apparently agreed to match the terms of other interpreter/translators in the district.

  53. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a particularly amusing section of the resolution to approve the YVHS EIR:

    “The documents and other materials that constitute the record of proceedings on which the Board’s findings are based are located with the custodian, the Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services at the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, 1936 Carlotta Drive, Concord, California, 94519-1397. This information is provided in compliance with Public Resources Code § 21081.6 and Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations § 15091.”

    What assistant superintendent for administrative services? There isn’t one! So, who is the REAL custodian of these important documents and materials that constitute the record of proceedings on which the board’s findings are based?

    Here’s the complete resolution:

  54. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#53 So typical of the habitual sloppy work by Mitchell Stark and Tim Cody, who both approved the resolution. I will give Dr. Bernard a pass on this one.

  55. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It’s very surprising that this YVHS EIR staff report was not approved by the district’s legal counsel, since the documents were created specifically to comply with CEQA laws:

    And this paragraph in the resolution appears to expect the public to accept things that aren’t presented clearly in writing as being part of the board’s findings:

    “In addition to the specific findings contained herein, the Board hereby incorporates by reference the applicable portions of the staff reports and studies, oral and written evidence submitted into the record, the Final EIR, items of common knowledge and the resolutions related to the Project as findings.”

    What are the “items of common knowledge” that the district doesn’t feel it is necessary to spell out? And why isn’t the actual EIR attached to the staff report? Not only does the district appear to have abandoned the creation of minutes, it is also failing to attach the very document under consideration to the official record. The public shouldn’t have to hunt all over the district’s website to find the final EIR. It should be attached to the staff report, where it can be easily referenced now and in the future. Also, if Cody and/or Stark plan to present a PowerPoint, it should be attached to the agenda BEFORE the meeting begins. If not, paper copies of the PowerPoint should be made available to the public BEFORE the meeting begins, so anyone who may want to speak about the issues raised can have a chance to look at it and comment on it BEFORE the board votes.

    The resolution states:

    “Through the Draft EIR process and the Final EIR process, a good faith effort has been made to seek out and incorporate al (sic) points of view in the preparation of the Draft EIR and the Final EIR.”

    Some YVHS neighbors who spoke at the community meeting disagree with this. But, even if the board finds this to be true, the “good faith effort” should not stop with the creation of the EIR. It should continue with the public hearing. Why make a good faith effort to seek out and incorporate all points of view before the public hearing, then fail to make the final EIR available to the public AT the hearing?

  56. Doctor J Says:

    I can’t even get the EIR to pull up from the Community Page on he MDUSD website, where it says it is located from the link on the face page of the website.

  57. Doctor J Says:

    Has anyone noticed the “new entry” on agenda items ? “Strategic Plan”. Every agenda item needs to be aligned with the Strategic Plan. So the YVHS Sports Complex lists Strategic Plan 5.3. Here is 5.3 and can someone tell me if a sports complex is really in line with 5.3 which talks about (1) enhance student learning and safety (2) Common Core State Standards (3) 21st Century learning modalities (4) technology (5) enrollment trend data

    This idea of “giving” schools a ton of money to use any way they want — violates the central principal of the 55% Bond requirements for specific projects at specific schools to be identified in the ballot measure. Taxpayers v. San Diego Unified School District. Dr. Nellie is most familiar with that case.

    “5.3 Ensure that our facilities and infrastructure support and enhance student learning and safety.
    1. Design and construct new or modernized facilities that support the Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning modalities and technology.
    2. Utilize enrollment trend data to facilitate evaluation of existing and prospective site usage as reflected in the District’s Facilities Plan.”

  58. Theresa Harrington Says:

    On the subject of the Grand Jury reports, it looks like the Contra Costa County Board of Ed. plans to discuss the solar report on Wednesday (item 7.2.4):

    And regarding Measure C and the San Diego case, I have been told by YVHS neighbors that they raised that in their EIR comments and the district’s response was that it was irrelevant to the EIR. Again, I question why this issue is being brought to the board WITHOUT anyone from the legal department approving the staff report. Yet, the legal dept. DID review the contract for Solution Tree Marzano Research. The legal dept. is not only responsible for contracts. It should also be reviewing important legal documents such as EIRs.

  59. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#58 Cody is probably using outside counsel so they can charge it to Meas C — using in house counsel would probably violate the no administrator expenses of the 55% Bond.

  60. Theresa Harrington Says:

    If that’s the case, then the outside counsel should be present at the board meeting to address this issue and other questions that may arise.

  61. Doctor J Says:

    Maybe its time that Meas C got a PRA request for all legal expenses from Meas C funds ? The public can then see all the legal bills they get to pay for the next 40 years.

  62. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#58 The EIR probably doesn’t have much to do with whether the bond funds are being spent legally, but think what would happen if the neighbors got a court order prior to August 28 preventing further action on the project — that would delay the whole EIR and they could not move forward until the lawsuit was resolved. The alternative, is that if the district moves forward and then the neighbors pursue it, it might have to be taken down or the money repaid from the General Fund to Meas. C. like happened in Taxpayers v. SDUSD. I just think the District is counting on the neighbors not taking any action except speaking at the Board meeting, which will unlikely sway the Board who already voted for the project.

  63. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anyone could sue the district, it wouldn’t necessarily have to be the neighbors.

  64. g Says:

    Theresa @47, I believe this is just one more (of many) cases of hire the person/friend, then create the new position/title to accomodate a huge increase in salary. June 17: Julianna Sikes was appointed as Administrator of School Support.

    Compare 6/17 agenda with 8/14. Susan Petersen’s job of Director of Elem Support gets eliminated, and then changed in title to Administrator of school support, and the new hire is budgeted at more than $11,000 higher salary than Petersen made last year.

    Also, 6/17 they asked for approval of new Administrator of Equity and Disproportionality, and that same position is on the agenda next week (again–but with funding from different account). What’s going on. Did the one from 6/17 not get approved, or did that person leave already, or are we getting two–and paying double?

    Again/still, no names of any new hires on the agenda as Brian has repeatedly asked– to allow both board and public a chance to vet who will have contact with their children. I would think hiring principals, admins, vp’s etc should not be any harder to name on an agenda 4 days before appointment than a new Supt!

  65. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is a San Diego grand jury report that was sent to me by one of the San Diego parents who is raising questions about Meyer’s leadership:

    Meyer is not named in the report and I am still reading through all the information that has been sent to me, so it’s unclear whether she played any role in the issues raised by the Grand Jury.

  66. Doctor J Says:

    Ironically, it seems that MDUSD Board Policy 5131.2 adopted in June 2012 is pretty student oriented as far as who the perpetrator might be and doesn’t seem to include adults as potential perpetrators. I note that San Diego USD doesn’t have a Board meeting until Sept 3.

  67. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, the issue of adult bullying came up with the Sun Terrace parent complaints, as well as the vote of No Confidence in Kate McClatchy at MDHS. Some people on blogs even accused former Trustees Gary Eberhart and Paul Strange of bullying. I also heard from a very reliable source that former Supt. Steven Lawrence was once overheard speaking in a very harsh manner to a department director. Also, Trustee Lynne Dennler publicly called Julie Braun-Martin cold.

    Now that there is new leadership coming, will anything change? Bill Morones has championed the mantra that disrespectful treatment of others will not be tolerated. But, who is policing this? What recourse do district employees have if they are bullied? El Dorado MS employee Debbie Hicks publicly spoke about being thrown under the bus by a school administrator at that site. Perhaps MDUSD should adopt a policy that addresses adult bullying.

    Here is a news article the San Diego woman who contacted me sent about LAUSD’s change of philosophy regarding disciplining teachers who act inappropriately:

    The San Diego group is pushing for a similar zero tolerance policy there.

    As has been alleged by some Woodside Elementary parents in the CC Times, the Woodside Elementary teacher accused of inappropriate conduct with students was allowed to stay there for years before he was finally let go. Could there be other teachers or administrators in MDUSD who believe they can get away with inappropriate or bullying behavior?

  68. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s an article about the complaints in San Diego, which also doesn’t name Meyer:

    However, the parent who contacted me says she is Judy Neufeld, who is named in this story.

  69. Anon Says:

    Theresa 67 . Unfortunately there are many more adults in mdusd that treat parents, co workers and children poorly because they can get away with it. There are plenty examples of adult bullies. These very small people take the attention away from the great ones. Once you have been bullied by a teacher or administrator it is hard to find the good.

  70. Michael Langley Says:

    The allegations in the San Diego elementary school can be addressed by the principal, even if they do not meet the requirement for criminal action by the police. In MDUSD, if a teacher was observed behaving in the way alledged, the principal could give that person an Unsatisfactory evaluation, the first step in termination. Administrators are not helpless, nor are they magically controlled by the Union. They do have to actually know that the behaviour is taking place, have to intercede with the teacher and offer effective student management options and then monitor to make sure the teacher does not continue or revert to bad behaviour.
    Do schools have competant, well trained principals? Are those principals given the time to monitor what is happening in the classrooms? Are they aware of the procedure to terminate staff who should not be in the classroom?
    Many principals don’t even know what is in the District contact with their teachers. So, they let problems slide until they get outside pressure. Then they claim they can’t do anything. IF a teacher is a bully, then action can be taken using due process. Due process protects the innocent from arbitrary punishment.
    Our administrators on site don’t need to be policemen, nor do they need to be firemen. (racing from one emergency to another) They need to be competant Principal Teachers who can maintain excellence by way of their experience and real leadership.

  71. Md Tech Says:

    @Michael Langley,
    Thank you for your reasonable and informative post. Too often unions are blamed for poor quality teachers, or in this case, dangerous teachers in the classroom. More often than not, principals DO have the ability to take action. Too many principals, especially in this district, are afraid of confrontation, and treat teacher evaluations as a formality and don’t offer true constructive criticism or spend the time to make the evaluation effective. The teacher evaluation process can be a positive one for teachers, one that can be productive and really improve the teachers skills. But it needs to be conducted by someone that is not afraid to be critical of teachers. On the other hand, these evaluations can also be used as a tool by some admins to nitpick and criticize effective teachers. I’ve been in the district for over 20 years with 5 principals, and I have yet to have an evaluation that was meaningful. Once, my principal even forgot to do it. When I brought it to her attention, she brought every teacher being evaluated into her office one by one, and signed off on their evaluations without any formal discussion or classroom visits.
    If principals are going to be effective in their jobs, they need to be strong leaders with experience in the classroom ( recent experience would be best ) and they need to be well trained and evaluated themselves.

  72. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, isn’t the YVHS EIR only on for “info” and not action ?

  73. Doctor J Says:

    @MikeL.#70 You make an excellent point about “training” principals — who has responsibility for that in MDUSD ? Isn’t it Rose Lock who after SASS first year took away the authority of the two Directors and transferred oversight of the principals directly to herself ? Mike, do you know of any specific trainings that Rose Lock has offered to new principals and principals who transfer to MDUSD ?

  74. Md Tech Says:

    @Doctor J,
    Regarding proncipal trainings: our principal is off campus a day or so a week for meetings at the district office. We hear about some of this information at our monthly staff meeting, but much of the information that they get is not communicated to us. I’ve never heard of any trainings offered to principals like that, and we don’t see anyone from SASS on our campus ever. The SASS department admins are strictly Dent Center employees who, to my knowledge, are not out on school campuses.

  75. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In March of 2011, SASS presented a survey of principals to the board to show that the dept. was effective. Here is my blog post from that time, highlighting the results:

    Since then, however, no future surveys have been presented. When SASS was created, Supt. Steven Lawrence said the department would be held accountable for schools’ academic achievement and that SASS employees would be evaluated based on that. Has that been happening?

    Back on the subject of keeping “bad” teachers, here’s a background article the San Diego parent sent me about tenure:

  76. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: You are correct, I misread the staff report. I’ll talk to my editor about running a correction, clarification or just re-printing the YVHS EIR “news brief” as an information item, with action expected Aug. 28.

  77. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is another article sent to me by San Diego parent Judy Neufeld about the failure of some mandated reporters in the San Diego district to report suspicions about a sexual relationship between a teacher and student to proper authorities:

    Although this doesn’t name Meyer, Neufeld alleges that Meyer “could have implemented child Abuse reporting procedures and training after this high profile case but did not.”

  78. Michael Langley Says:

    TH@75 the “background article” in your link is from an organization opposed to teacher unions and cherry picks data while quoting dubious experts and a movie. michelle Rhee is a failed teacher and a failed admininstrator which makes her a qualified education expert.
    Unbiased data shows that the presence of a unionized teaching force or non union teaching force are not factors in the success of students. The quotes from isolated union leaders are again misleading. I have defended more good teachers from arbitrary termination than I have seen poor teachers keep their jobs because of union representation. The few times I have represented poor teachers, it is only because the principal has not attempted any action as conditions began to deteriorate in the classroom. There has to be some evidence, not just a principal’s whim. Since the link compares teacher retention to lawyer disbarment, the removeal of due process for termination is akin to saying we should not let defendants have lawyers because then prosecutors could convict anyone they wish.
    It would be interesting to find the percentage of lawyers who quit practicing in the first five years compared to teachers. Many of the teachers opt out of the profession because they are unsuited. This self selection is not statistically reflected in the denial of so called tenure.

  79. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#75 The surveys have been “top secret” for 2012 and 2013 — which one can only assume means that they were negative or else Rose Lock would have been breaking her arm to pat herself on her back. Lets remember that after 2011 Rose Lock took away from the directors the supervisory responsibility over School Support Administrators and took that upon herself. She demoted one of the directors this summer, and we see on the agenda for tomorrow a “reorganization” but no indication of how the responsibilities will be divided up. Soon with the API scores we will see how effective a leader Bill Morones was with the High School Principals — based on his poor track record of success, I wonder if that will spill over to the high schools. Two high school principals were demoted, with one resulting in a resignation. We lost some elem principals, and still have an opening two weeks before school. Historically, principals hired from outside the district have not done well in MDUSD. Soon principals will be advised of their estimated API scores from the MDUSD vendor.

  80. Doctor J Says:

    Before the API scores are released, anyone care to speculate [we do that a lot here don’t we] on which high school had the biggest API gain and how much. Which high school had the biggest API loss and how much ? Just the 5 traditional high schools.

  81. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have just spoken to another San Diego parent named Susan Hopps-Tatum, who said she was one of the people who filed a Grand Jury complaint and named Meyer as one of the administrators who failed to report suspected abuse to authorities. Although Meyer wasn’t named in the response, Hopps-Tatum said Meyer was named in the complaint. She said she and other parents would like to speak with MDUSD school board members when they visit San Diego, as part of MDUSD’s outreach to “stakeholders.”

  82. Doctor J Says:

    Fensterwald on the LCFF input meeting in Sacramento: pay attention to some comments about parents not just ratifying a plan but being involved in formation of the plan.

  83. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have just received a copy of the Contra Costa County’s Grand Jury response staff report. The letter from the foreperson says the response is due no later than Sept. 3. So, MDUSD still has time. I wonder if this will come up during the solar report on Wednesday.
    Another interesting item is this: “Due to the high volume of interdistrict transfer appeals, it has been determined that a special board meeting needs to be scheduled to accommodate those requests.” The County Board is considering meeting Aug. 28. It will be interesting to see how many of these will be students requesting transfers out of MDUSD.

  84. Anonymous Says:

    Dr. J #80: My guess – the biggest API gain would have to go to CVCHS. Huge increases, maybe 50 points. Biggest API loss – perhaps Northgate, they had pretty much across the board decreases. The overall API scores might be close between Northgate and CVCHS this year.

  85. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s an interesting stat from the County Board agenda: The county has issued three temporary county certificates to MDUSD administrators who are still in the process of getting their administrative credentials and one who is still in the process of getting a Pupil Personnel credential, along with three emergency CLAD/BCLAD permits, one multiple subject preliminary/clear single subject temporary certificate, and two preliminary/clear single subject CLAD/BCLAD permits, for a total of 10 temporary county certificates processed for MDUSD in July. MDUSD is surpassed only by the County Office of Education, which had 12. Antioch and Pittsburg had nine, Oakley and West Contra Costa had six, San Ramon had four, Liberty had two, and Acalanes, Orinda and Walnut Creek each had one.

  86. Anonymous Says:

    Dr. J #80: My guess – biggest API score increase among the traditional high schools: MDHS. Small increase.
    Biggest decrease in API: Northgate.

    What’s your guess?

  87. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    TH @ 83

    It would be interesting indeed to see how many students transfer out / in of MDUSD (and where – which district to / from) each year to help better understand the steady decline of students in MDUSD.

    A lot of the decline can be based on large companies moving out of Concord (BofA, Chevron, etc.) and employees losing work / moving away with their families for work.

    But I have always wondered how many MDUSD students have transferred out to other schools each year within the district – we know YVHS is only at apprx 50% of capacity, maybe lower now – and also to other districts altogether as a choice (either to another school in the district, a private school, home schooling, online school, etc.).

    The 2010 MDUSD school closure docs had a lot of information on student counts by schools in MDUSD. I found it very interesting to see how many students at each school attended their ‘home’ school (in their neighborhood), and how many attended a school outside of their ‘home’ school (outside of their neighborhood).

    I wonder if stats like that are available every year?

  88. Sue Berg Says:

    Re: 70, 71, 78
    I keep waiting for Michael Langley to acknowledge that the teachers union has a strong, impactful role in our public school districts (and in shaping California’s education policies). In a few districts (and, I believe in most charter schools), the role is in collaboration with administrators and the other employees/unions–to great success in many areas. Such was the case in MDUSD in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Unfortunately, in most districts the roles are adversarial; in the two Bay Area districts in which I worked, the adversarial relationship has been the teachers union’s preferred model.

    In this model, the teachers union leader is rare who has anything good to say about administrators, site- or district-level. In both my districts I saw highly regarded teachers, some even active in their unions, move into administrative positions and quickly become personae non gratis in union leaders’ regard. It seemed as if, by putting on an administrator name tag, the teacher had crossed to the dark side and was no longer a valued educator.

    Langley says, “In MDUSD if a teacher was observed behaving in the way alledged (sic), the principal could give that person an Unsatisfactory evaluation, the first step in termination.” He should add that any teacher who receives a negative evaluation is entitled to have a union rep attend when meeting with the principal to discuss the matter. In fact, a teacher may ask for a union rep at any session with the principal, and many won’t attend such a meeting without one. Gotta hope that any union rep, hearing of a teacher’s alleged unacceptable behavior, would then work actively with the principal to investigate and resolve the matter ASAP and not just sit back and judge the principal’s handling of the case.

    In both my districts, I have seen the union support teachers who did not belong in the classroom, seen principals driven to distraction by the amount of evidence the union demands in discipline cases. In each, the union leadership is also actively involved in planning in-district teacher training and makes a point of visiting sites, both routinely and in response to specific issues.

    The union leadership is, by choice, on the field, not along the sidelines in MDUSD. That’s as it should be, providing it believes administrators and classified employees belong on the field, too. Each employee group needs to recognize and treat the others as essential, valued, and capable members of the same team. A good start would be by ending the employee bashing that keeps popping up on this blog’s comment threads.

  89. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I think the Student Services Dept. has that info, since they approve transfers in and out. Schrader and ?Associates did the detailed reports for the school closures and Bay Point attendance area studies, but Board President Cheryl Hansen said the district already had most of the information or could get it from publicly accessible sources.

  90. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s another San Diego report about teachers accused of inappropriate behavior who were allowed to continue teaching:

    Although this report also doesn’t mention Meyer, the parents who have contacted me said she was second in command and was in charge of a safe schools task force, so had the authority to act.

  91. Doctor J Says:

    @84&86 My guess is based on my cursory review of the STAR results but I am going to factor in also the two principal transfers, one of which resulted in a resignation. While I agree that CVCHS will have some massive gains, they are no longer part of the district, and we just have 5 traditional high schools. Although Northgate’s STAR scores looked pretty jumbled, I don’t think they are the lowest — no action against McMorris. I do think they took a significant hit though. CVCHS may have surpassed them on the API. I think YVHS scores looked worse, and we saw Sue Brothers get demoted and then resign. I will go with YVHS as the lowest. As for the highest, although Mount looked like it held its own on the STAR tests, the fact that the principal was demoted, is a sign she was not that successful. On the other hand she has a lot more issues with staff and students. If indeed Mount had the highest increase, it would be like Toby Montez at Meadow Homes gaining 57 API points and getting fired. Not out of the real of possibility, especially with Rose Lock doing the decision making. However, I am going to go with the odds of College Park having a single digit increase, but being the largest increase in the District. Those are my guesses.

  92. Michael Langley Says:

    @Sue Berg #88. As a retired teacher, I cannot speak for any current union/administrator relationship. A healthy relationship depends on cooperation from both sides. I agree that there were elements of that around 1999. In fact that is when I agreed to spend three years as a mentor teacher before returning to the classroom. I had very good relationships with many administrators. When I was elected President of MDEA, I sometimes came into conflict with administrators and sometimes administrators came to me for help. I tried to keep a positive and constructive relationship with administrators. However, I did protect the negotiated rights of the teachers I represented.

    I speak out in support of unions in this blog when I feel they are used as a scapegoat for a much greater problem in education.

    I do this because I no longer part of MDEA, so my opinions freely my own.

    My experience at the local level is that the union in an adversarial relationship becomes less relevant. Yet cooperation needs mutual respect and true input rather than rubber-stamped acquiescence. Some teachers felt I was too accommodating to various administrators while others took me to task for being too hard on administrators.

    My goal was to make MDUSD a better place for students. As a teacher, a mentor and as a union member, I used the ethical and legal means at my disposal to move towards that goal. As a private citizen, I continue, in my own small way, to work towards that goal.

  93. Remembering Says:

    Once upon a time, MDUSD had some of the best trainings around for teachers, administrators, and those who wanted to move up. Before there was a budget crisis and schools had vice principals at all levels, teachers could gain experience in the classroom, become a VP, and learn even more about being a principal by working with the site administrators. Also, the district did a lot of hiring from within. There was support fom the district to the administrators and a strong sense of unity between schools with principals calling and helping each other. This was easier to do with people familiar with our district. Now we are not training or grooming our own and many of the administrators are from outside the district. There was a time when teachers and administrators stayed in our district for a long time. In order to improve student learning, we need to hire, train, and continue to support our staff!

  94. Martin Says:

    Re: post 90
    What exactly would Meyer have to do with teacher misconduct at a Charter school? You do understand that Charters have their own administration? San Diego Unified closed that charter down at the first opportunity. It was a perfect example of Charters not being the solution to public school problems as they have been promoted.

  95. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The point of the video is that the teachers accused of misconduct were transferred to other San Diego schools, where they continued teaching.

  96. Doctor J Says:

    MDUSD still advertising for principals at Woodside Elem and Sequoia MS. Who is getting these schools “ready to open” ? The office manager ?

  97. Theresa Harrington Says:

    And don’t forget that the previous board cut back on the hours of office managers and secretaries, due to budget cuts, so I think they don’t come as early in the summer as they used to.

  98. Doctor J Says:

    @94&95 I am not taking sides, but lets remember that the investigating agency is NOT the school district nor the Charter, but either CPS or law enforcement. So if the teachers passed the CPS/law enforcement investigation, what would be the reason for denying them employment ? Unsubstantiated allegations ?

  99. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In this case, it looks like the allegations weren’t considered misconduct. But, there were witnesses who saw behavior they didn’t think was appropriate, so the allegations weren’t unsubstantiated. If the allegations were investigated and deemed to not be misconduct, perhaps the parents should have been told that. Instead, it appears the district quietly transferred the teachers to other schools, without informing parents.

  100. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#97 It might be these two openings are due to promotions to Dent to be approved tonight by the Board. Perhaps the Board should put its foot down and not approve any promotions from principal to Dent on the brink of school being opened until new Principals are in place. What is more important, the children or filling another administrator spot at Dent ? Can you imagine the anxiety now with parents and children at Woodside and Sequoia, two weeks before school not knowing who their principal is ? The “new” principals have already missed several trainings in the last two weeks, including training on Aeries and the new SPSA format. Any principal candidate with “quality” already has a job ! What the heck is Rose Lock thinking ? I think the STAR tests and the soon to be released API scores have her panicked. Come on Board, lets put the children FIRST for once.

  101. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#99 You are assuming the District was told by the investigating agency that there was no misconduct. The allegations were made while the teachers were employed by a different employer. The district may not have even known of the investigation. I am not sure that CPS or law enforcement actually report back on their investigations, especially if initiated by parents. Too many assumptions being made here. I don’t like trial by innuendo.

  102. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It’a an interesting philosophy to pluck successful principals away from schools that they are helping to make thrive, in order to allow them to ostensibly help more principals thrive. But, does this move end up hurting the thriving school?
    Did the previous promotions of Susan Petersen from Delta View, Helena Postrk from Sequoia, Linda Hutcherson from Foothill, Lorie O’Brien from Hidden Valley, or the others (I can’t remember them all) end up hurting the schools they left? Or, were their schools running so well that the campuses were able to absorb changes in leadership with little trouble?
    The departure of Bill Morones from YVHS, followed by the departure of Sue Brothers, is leaving that school with three new principals in three years. Based on its STAR scores, it is not weathering the changes well.
    MDHS is getting a new principal, along with several new administrators. How will that campus handle the transition?
    And of course, the entire district is still awaiting a new superintendent, who is also missing all of the district trainings.
    As former school employees, Board President Cheryl Hansen, Vice President Barbara Oaks and Trustee Lynne Dennler should understand the dynamics of this for school staff. And as parents, Trustees Brian Lawrence and Linda Mayo should be able to understand the parents’ points of view, when faced with uncertain school leadership.

  103. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It’s true there are many unknowns. But, these allegations were widely reported in the news (including television).

  104. Doctor J Says:

    @#102 Spot on. Many school districts in Northern California open this week or next week. So where are we going to find TWO quality principals at the last minute ? Frankly, many, but not all, of the principals hired from OUTSIDE the district have been disasters. Think Sun Terrace — the last two principals. Did you take a look at the Sun Terrace STAR scores this year ? OMG. Think Ayers. Think YVHS. Those are just a few examples. More significantly, Theresa, it appears that SASS has moved significantly away from its original mission of using successful principals to coach other principals. See post #74.

  105. Martin Says:

    The key here is that the teachers were “accused”. Anyone can be accused of anything. Also, where does it say they were “transferred”. It says parents found the guy “working” at a school. Charters are not run by district administrators. Most are not using union teachers. Since the guy was “not charged”, the district must act in accordance with the results of the police investigation or be sued. Another thing is that this happened in 2011, and I can find nothing more about it, You have to assume it has been resolved. If there was more of substance to report, wouldn’t the station in the original report have followed up? Everyday teachers have due process as negotiated by their union, and some people hate that just as they hate defense attorneys. Also, the district’s officials cannot legally communicate with the public personnel issues, including punishments, training, or increased scrutiny of the teachers. Our legal system often leads to parents getting angry about being “left in the dark”. Its a catch 22. Many teachers are fired for misconduct of this type at SDUSD (and every other district) all the time. As everyone knows, our legal system is not perfect, as lawyers and our laws make people unhappy at times.

  106. Doctor J Says:

    @Theresa, I find it very troubling that neither Dr. Bernard nor Rose Lock have commented to you on the STAR test results. I expect that sometime this week, if not already, they have the API estimates from their vendor, which are usually pretty accurate. What are they trying to hide ? The truth ? Maybe a PRA request for the API estimates from Key-Data is in order.

  107. Doctor J Says:

    Agenda 13.16 tonight: “With the exception of the solar installation at Meadow Homes, District has enjoyed a general cost avoidance and savings associated with installation of solar systems.” What went wrong at Meadow Homes ? Why isn’t the data attached to the agenda ?

  108. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I believe there was extra cost at Meadow Homes because they had to install the panels on the roof. I will post a separate blog for comments on tonight’s meeting soon.

    Regarding Meyer, it looks like the board plans to hold a special closed session at 9 a.m. Aug. 21 at Scripps HS, 10410 Treena St. in San Diego:

  109. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have sent a follow-up email to Lock, copied to Bernard, showing that she has not responded since my first email seeking a response Aug. 7. I have also asked for an explanation of the social media STAR breaches at MDHS, CPHS and Horizons.

  110. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is a blog post with tonight’s agenda, for those who wish to comment on it:

  111. Theresa Harrington Says:

    San Diego Unified has a Twitter account. While browsing it, I came across this news story, which suggests that the board there passed over Meyer (who was widely expected to get the job) to hire an elementary principal instead: @sdschools: What you can expect from Superintendent-designate Marten

  112. Anon Says:

    Dr. J, I think we have a politically savvy creature coming, hopefully the Navy influence rubbed off! Also just found out multiple employees contacted Christy White to request an audit for specific items and neither could get a call back. I, once again, did not get paid for my overtime, and I want to know why my payroll cannot be processed externally. Don’t want to hear about waiting and seeing, not impressed with the link with her agenda calling for meetingsssss. Really wanted to respond to #48. District: there is no amount too high for an administrator. There are never too many administrators. Cutting administrators is never an option. Its the district Buy-a-Buddy project. They are numerous and paid well over national standards including bay area upgrades. A little skeptical because we heard the interim supe was going to do some house-cleaning. I do not want my payroll done inter-district until the situation with Richards is resolved. The question is: how bad do you have to be at your job or is there just blanket exception for managers? Dr. J, I am also now hearing about Measure C people sitting around while parts were ordered from China. Is there some way of checking this out and seeing if people were on the clock when no work could be completed or if somebody did a work reduction to save the poor taxpayers?

  113. retired Says:

    Two names from San Diego. Judy Neufeld: Runs a business supplying home schooling material. See “Classical Conversations”

    Susan Tatum-Hopps is affiliated with UpforEd or Up4Ed..a group favoring school takeover or trigger, if you’re familiar with those terms.

  114. retired Says:

    A group favoring school takeover or “parent trigger”..

  115. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The board meeting has been changed to 10 am. Wednesday in San Diego:

  116. Doctor J Says:

    How prepared is MDUSD for Common Core ? Should MDUSD be spending more money on technology to be ready for Common Core or spend it on Stadium lights ? “Meanwhile, questions about the technology needed to administer Common Core exams have some districts scrambling to buy computers because iPads and other tablets recently purchased in bulk — often with the proceeds of bond measures — don’t work well with the new testing format. ” “For its [Chula Vista Elementary School District] nearly 28,000 students, the district has 10,000 desktop and laptop computers and 260 other devices, including iPads. Because the Common Core exams will require students to manipulate a split screen, iPads are not recommended as they offer only a shrunken screen.” Dr. Nellie Meyer was quoted on August 13: San Diego Unified and others have started shopping around for refurbished computers in preparation for Common Core assessments, said Deputy Superintendent Nellie Meyer.” Stadium lights or 21st Century education technology — which will promote more learning ?

  117. Doctor J Says:

    MSDUS’s “Action Plan” — we are now in Phase II and we still don’t know how many computers at the sites will “function” with the common core materials. A plan on paper is useless unless it is fully implemented. I think our new Supt, who is very familiar with Common Core, will be shocked at the lack of preparations. Here is the “action plan” — Where is the “action” ?

  118. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have been informed by San Diego parent Judy Neufeld that the doors to the building where the closed session meeting was being held this morning were locked, preventing her from getting inside to address the board during public comment before trustees adjourned to closed session. I have left a message with Board President Cheryl Hansen informing her of this. I also advised the parent to go to the front office, where I was told people were signing in to attend the meeting.

    I also sent a link to my blog to Neufeld and Susan Hopps-Tatum, so they could read the most recent comments about them. Here is what Hopps-Tatum wrote in an e-mailed response:

    “Oh please! Not sure who the comments came from. It is well known in SD that union leaders are trying to intimidate a local Parent Group called UpforEd… They don’t like the fact that parents are uniting to be heard! Recently, they put propaganda flyers in every teacher’s box making outrageous false claims about the group. Heaven forbid parents have a voice in their child’s education and protection of their civil rights. I am a parent member of the group, as are thousands of others. Hilarious!

    And Judy runs a home school product business? Again, hilarious!

    Most importantly, what in the world would either of these things have to do with comments about Nellie Meyer’s incompetence?

    As I mentioned to you on the phone, WE don’t want her, we are simply trying to protect ALL kids from adults who are incompetent and have failed to do their LEGAL duty as mandated reporters. She has had so many opportunities to protect kids in San Diego Unified and has failed. She is not to be trusted. She couldn’t even lead a task force for the district with competence. Embarrassing! So just what would our angle be to speak out about her incompetence and illegal behaviors?

    As an aside, people in San Diego didn’t want to believe anything negative about Bob Filner prior to his being elected mayor either, and now look where we are. I would say to those interviewing her, dig deeper.

    Here’s a thought, maybe those who are ‘defending her’ want her out of SDUSD too. They may realize how incompetent and unethical she is and know it would take years to document to get her out.

    There are many incompetent administrators who get passed from district to district and promoted along the way. We call it, ‘passing the bad lemons.’ Just because someone looks good on paper doesn’t mean they are competent. Why do you think she is headed to the other end of the state where no one knows her? Parents in about two to three years will figure it out and then that school district will be right back where they are now… sad.

    Just like Filner, people will look back and say, ‘Oh yeah, remember those people who spoke out and tried to warn us?’
    Susan Hopps-Tatum”

  119. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have just received the following press release from another San Diego parent, Sally Smith, who says SDUSD police barred her from attending the MDUSD meeting to speak about Meyer. However, she says Neufeld was able to speak. This news release was sent to multiple news agencies in San Diego.

    “To Media

    1. SDUSD assistant superintendent Nellie Meyer is finalist for Superintendent for Bay area school district Mt Diablo

    2. Mt Diablo convened a public school board meeting for public comment and closed session about Nellie Meyer today at Scripps Ranch High School

    3. SDUSD school police lieutenant and a school police officer walked over to me when I was standing beside my car (sign on car SCRIPPS RANCH UNFAIR) and told me I was banned from the campus today. The lieutenant said I was not to walk on the campus for any reason.

    4. School police violated law by prohibiting a member of the public who did nothing wrong to attend a public school board meeting.

    5. Another parent, Judy Fernandez did attend and speak in public comment about Nellie Meyer”

  120. Doctor J Says:

    While I think Dr. Nellie will be good for MDUSD, I can’t believe that ANY of the MDUSD Board members would sanction the public being kept from Public Comment. If the public was, even without involvement of MDUSD Board members, it is a Brown Act violation which if someone makes a cure and correct letter, the meeting might have to be redone. What a shame.

  121. retired Says:

    If you go back and read my very neutral comments, you will see that I meant no bias, in mentioning these very active parents, Neufeld and Hopps.

    I just gave the references to the parent trigger group (Hopps) and the salesman for religious publishing materials (Neufeld), as information to help measure statements made by these ladies.

    Both groups are for privatizing public education. It is up to the reader to decide whether this is good or bad.

    I am not surprised at the vitriolic response. It is from a lady who has a San Diego court record of public harassment against other individual citizens.

    I have no connection with labor unions. I live in the Walnut Creek area and just came across this information online.

  122. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, do you have a response from the SDUSD Police Department ?

  123. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I just got off the phone with Smith and will call the police.

  124. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I received the following forwarded email from Smith, which she also forwarded to several news agencies in San Diego:

    “Subject: Re: COMPLAINT: Banned from school board meeting this morning at Scripps Ranch

    Mrs. Smith,

    Thank you for taking my phone call this morning. Please allow me begin this email with an apology. You should have been granted access to the campus.

    Earlier this morning, Lieutenant Joe Florentino and Sergeant Troy Holliday were told the meeting was “private, not open to the public”. I have been advised that Lt. Florentino received updated information, after speaking with you, which indicated the meeting was “public”. LT. Florentino immediately returned to the front of the school to grant you access, but you were gone. He then attempted to make calls throughout the district to locate your phone number to advise you of the misinformation and to apologize.

    You emailed me before he could reach you. I told him I would call you instead. I have also notified my boss, Phil Stover, about the mix up. Mr. Stover and I will be following up on how and why the officers were given this inaccurate information at the outset. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me.

    Thank You,
    Rueben Littlejohn”

    Littlejohn is the San Diego school district’s chief of police.

  125. anon Says:

    So nice of them to apologize, but is the Board going to continue their meeting to allow for public comment?
    I really hope for the sake of our district that this is not another pass the garbage trick.

  126. Anon Says:

    So sorry coment #125 is not Dr. J. For some reason Dr. J’s info populated my computer.

  127. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have changed the User Name in your previous post to Anon.

    As a reminder: We have been informed that there is a problem with our blogs, where sometimes the email address and user name from the last commenter shows up in the “Leave a Comment” field. We are working to rectify this issue. Our web team advises commenters to “clear your cache” after you post a comment.

  128. Sue Berg Says:

    Theresa, I’m concerned that you are not in San Diego personally witnessing the events reported by two parents who clearly do not like Dr. Meyer and have used your blog to say so. As most people know, I’ve worked for administrators who are loved by some, scorned by others. SDUSD serves 132,000 students; I’d be surprised if opinions about staff did not run the gamut.

    The MDUSD Board visit to San Diego will include meetings with many people; the closed session with the SDUSD Board being just one. Also, if the concerned parents have written to you, I would assume they’ve shared their complaints with MDUSD Board members as well. Board contact info is public.

    I’m sorry you are not there to interview not just the two parents but others who have worked with Dr. Meyer. From what I’ve heard through my grapevine, she is a well respected administrator in that district. However, after the report of Dr. Meyer’s being the finalist for MDUSD superintendent, with a fairly lengthy and impressive resume attached, the only information the Times has provided are comments from two angry parents.

    As the self-described “watchdog” over public agencies, the Times is right to give critics a voice on any issue. But in the time-honored goal of objective reporting, it should at least look for other points of view. Dr.Meyer has worked in SDUSD for 30 years. I’m sure there are many people the Times could contact for comment and opinion.

  129. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Sue, I do intend to contact others for their opinions.

    When the previous board held a similar interview meeting in West Sacramento regarding former Superintendent Steven Lawrence, it was an open public meeting, not a closed session. This time around, MDUSD has chosen to hold a closed session with “stakeholders” who have not been identified. I will try to find out who these stakeholders are so that I can also speak to some of them.

    Also, I did not receive the lengthy resume you reference. I’ll ask for that, as well.

  130. fran Says:

    Sue Berg,
    You are right. Get a second and third opinion. You can ask all of Dr. Meyer’s bosses, going back to Superintendent Alan Bersin, Superintendent Carl Cohn,Superintendent Terry Grier, Admiral Bill Kowba, any and all at the district central office.
    I worked there, as an administrative assistant, and can’t recall anyone who had something bad to say about Nellie…smart, hardworking, knowledgeable
    The three mothers mentioned as excluded from the meeting today, were well known to many, as Charter, Home School, agitators, and are also well known to school police. Ask parents, ask teacher, ask principals…don’t just take the word of three right wing extremists.

  131. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Fran, Thanks for all the suggestions.

  132. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a story about the San Diego grand jury response, with comments from Neufeld and Hopps-Tatum:

  133. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I spoke to Neufeld and she said she was the only person to make an official public comment at this morning’s meeting. After finding all the doors to the building locked and no signs directing the public to the meeting, she said she saw a purse on a table in one room and was let in by a woman she thought was Trustee Lynne Dennler. She said she represents many parents, including several who are too scared of retaliation to speak out. She said she told the board about their frustrations regarding the San Diego district’s response to suspected abuse. She also sent me a statement regarding the San Diego district’s response to the Grand Jury report. Based on what she told me about her testimony to the MDUSD board, it appears to reflect her comments to MDUSD trustees, so I am posting it below. Meyer was named in the Grand Jury complaint, she said.

    “Predictably and pathetically the District has adopted Mayor Filner’s approach of ignoring or blaming victims, in this case the 9 families who brought up the matter, rather than addressing the massive gaps within the system that endanger children. It’s only a matter of time before another scandal breaks out such as the School of Performing Arts lawsuit of inappropriate sexual relations with a student, or placing a Jose Valencia back in the classroom after inappropriate physical contact with students. The apathy from the district continues to be shameful and irresponsible. The SDUSD Legal Department is on the payroll NOT to uphold the law or protect kids, rather to protect the district from litigation. They are well practiced in running concerned parents whose kids have suffered abuse in circles exhausting the statute of limitations and perpetuating the status quo.”

  134. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Regarding the meeting this morning, the San Diego school district’s Communications Dept. has confirmed that the email from the district’s police chief to Mrs. Smith is accurate.

    In addition, spokesman Jack Brandais said: “We don’t have too many other school boards having meetings on our campuses. (It was) a very unusual event and all of the people that should have known about this, didn’t. So we apologize to any members of the public that were not allowed access. It’s an incident that shouldn’t have happened.”

    He told me the school principal told the police the meeting was private. He said he did not know who was interviewed by the school board in closed session.

    “You would have to ask your own school board,” he said. “Our district is not involved in that process.”

  135. Doctor J Says:

    When two police officers, with guns, badges and handcuffs tell you not to step on school property for any reason and the meeting is private, not only is it a violation of the Brown Act, but I believe [from conversations with professionals] a violation of Federal Civil Rights laws. It doesn’t matter to me if others view this person as an extremist or activist, it is simply wrong and now jeopardizes the appointment of Dr. Nellie. But please don’t take my comments as any alignment with her views. I support Dr. Nellie.

  136. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I just spoke to Board President Cheryl Hansen, who said she was unaware of the incident and that she believes it was a legal meeting since it was publicly noticed and one member of the public spoke during the open session. She said the police action is a local matter.
    She also said it was a good meeting and that she didn’t recall Neufeld mentioning the Grand Jury report, which she said she didn’t know about.
    She said Neufeld mainly talked about an incident between her son and a teacher that happened about six years ago. Hansen said she didn’t know why Neufeld was still kind of brooding about it.
    Hansen said the district formed a school safety task force to address some of the issues. Hansen speculated that some of Neufeld’s frustrations may have stemmed from the fact that it was a personnel matter and the district couldn’t tell her anything about it.

  137. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Neufeld says she did mention the Grand Jury report to the board. Here’s what she wrote in an email:

    “I did mention the grand jury report and incidents of predatory behaviors in addition to our personal experience. I specifically mentioned Nellie Meyer is NAMED in the Grand Jury Report and that she failed to lead the task force in any meaningful change. People miss the point that our personal experience has been reflected multiple times again and again in inaction by the very administrators who are to uphold child protective laws. I also summed up by stating SD City Police and City Attorney are meeting with Superintendent and parents to close gap between child protective laws and kids’ experiences in schools. Currently no agencies will investigate allegations of child abuse and schools have no incentive to seriously deal with them as it is impossible to fire teachers.”

  138. Doctor J Says:

    Adult to child bullying in San Diego USD — focus group formed by Supt.

  139. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The district established the focus group in response to the Grand Jury complaint filed by Neufeld, Hopps-Tatum and seven other families. Nellie Meyer, Deputy Superintendent of School Support Services, is now directly responsible for handling child abuse complaints in the district, according to this story:$file/Re-Org%20-%20Superintendent%20of%20Public%20Education%206-18-13.pdf

    Previously, Neufeld said Meyer supervised the area superintendents who handled the complaints.

  140. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Trustee Barbara Oaks said she also doesn’t remember Neufeld mentioning the Grand Jury report. She said Neufeld was speaking very fast and said something about Meyer being “named,” but she wasn’t sure what it was about. She speculated that it may have been an instance similar to the current situation in MDUSD, where lawsuits name many administrators. Oaks said she was very impressed with Meyer and heard from seven or eight parents during the validation visit who also spoke highly of Meyer, including some special needs and ELD parents.

  141. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is Meyer’s district bio:

  142. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Trustee Barbara Oaks told me that Meyer’s husband uploaded of video of his wife during a TV news interview last year to YouTube so that people in Northern CA could get a look at her communication style. Here it is:

    Does she seem like a good fit for MDUSD?

  143. Doctor J Says:

    Wow ! Go NELLIE !!

  144. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s the latest from San Diego regarding coverage of the Grand Jury report’s findings about the lack of checks and balances in investigating alleged child abuse by adults in schools:

    Although Nellie Meyer is now in charge of handling these reports, it’s unclear if she was at the meeting.

    UPDATE: Neufeld e-mailed me saying Meyer was not at the meeting. She said it’s her belief that Meyer is not allowed in meetings with Neufeld and Hopps-Tatum.

  145. Theresa Harrington Says:

    As I previously pointed out, when MDUSD trustees went to West Sacramento to interview people who worked with former Superintendent Steven Lawrence, they held an open meeting, which I attended. At that meeting, Lawrence hand-picked those who were interviewed and they all gave glowing recommendations.

    The current board held a closed session meeting and also allowed Nellie Meyer to hand-pick those to whom they spoke. Based on what I’ve heard from Hansen and Oaks, the comments were similarly glowing.

    Here’s the story I wrote after listening in on the West Sacramento interviews:

    Contra Costa Times
    Subhead: District’s new leader to start Feb. 1 at salary of $249,500 a year

    Reporter: Theresa Harrington STAFF WRITER

    Print Run Date: 11/21/2009

    CONCORD – A 46-year-old family man touted as a visionary leader focused on improving student achievement has been named superintendent of the Mt. Diablo school district.
    Steven Lawrence, who has led the small Washington Unified School District in West Sacramento through many changes during the past three-and-a-half years, will take the helm in Mt. Diablo on Feb. 1 at an annual salary of $249,500. Trustees on Friday unanimously approved his contract through June 30, 2013, after interviewing more than 30 administrators, parents, trustees, union representatives and community members in the Washington district.

    “He really collaborates with the people around him, ” Mt. Diablo board President Gary Eberhart said. “Washington has a similar diversity situation and there’s a real emphasis on ensuring that all students have access to a quality education.”

    During the morning interviews in West Sacramento, everyone who spoke gave glowing recommendations for Lawrence and praised the changes he has brought to the Washington district, including closing its only middle school and creating K-8 schools, and opening a new high school.

    They said Lawrence was not afraid to stand up to the board or to employees regarding his convictions, but was also responsive and open to new ideas.

    Those interviewed said Lawrence has helped change the community’s perception about the district, which was considered dysfunctional when he arrived.

    He formed partnerships with Sacramento City College, UC Davis and local business leaders to bring outside resources into the district and trained administrators to help them improve instruction and make it more consistent districtwide.

    He was praised for his budget expertise, sense of equity and sense of urgency to make changes.

    Administrators said he inspired them to become better managers and used test scores and other data to measure success.

    Employees said they appreciated Lawrence’s open-door policy and his willingness to listen to their concerns, and agreed he has high expectations and holds them accountable for accomplishing district and school goals.

    “Some teachers are uncomfortable because the data shows their kids aren’t reading, ” said Sue Brothers, assistant superintendent for educational services. “Life is not comfortable in this district if you don’t perform or if you don’t believe that kids can learn to read.”

    Do you think the San Diego meeting should have been an open session instead of a closed session, like the one in West Sacramento?

  146. Doctor J Says:

    Speaking of Sue Brothers, any word on where she landed ?

  147. g Says:

    Yes, they should have held an open meeting, and the person asking for the job should not have been allowed to hand pick those to be interviewed!

    How’d that hand-picking work out for us last time?

    If the board wanted an open dialogue on positive/negative of Meyer’s performance THEY should have envited members of SD’s PAC/CAC/PTA, etc., without Meyer’s influence.

    Why didn’t they do that? Because they wanted/needed to reinforce the perception that they had already made the right choice —

  148. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Interestingly, Hansen said the point of the meeting wasn’t to interview people about whether they had made the right choice. She said it was to help facilitate a smooth transition. But Oaks said it was to validate that everything Meyer told them and said in her written documents was true. Both said they were impressed by what they heard. However, it is interesting to note that they only interviewed seven or eight parents. Yet, nine families filed the Grand Jury report in which Meyer was named.

  149. g Says:

    Bull. How will talking to anyone in SD, especially Meyer’s hand-picked people, in any way effect a “smooth transition” here?

  150. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Hansen said many of the same people they interviewed also participated in a Skype session with MDUSD “stakeholders” on Tuesday, talking about how they interact with Meyer and their roles and responsibilities. It appears the board is trying to pave the way for Meyer to slip into her new position as seamlessly as possible.

  151. Doctor J Says:

    I think the Times should offer a “prize” for the first Nellie & Martin Meyer “siting” in CoCoCounty. Rumor is they will be looking for housing beginning this weekend.

  152. Doctor J Says:

    FCMAT reports school district whistleblower settles for $400,000.

  153. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is more coverage of the recent developments in San Diego:

    Hopps-Tatum said in an email that Meyer was not asked to participate in the Focus Group, which formed about two months ago (long before she announced her plans to leave). This is somewhat surprising, since Meyer’s department is directly responsible for handling abuse complaints, according to the district’s response to the Grand Jury:–rCumNNuf9ANJg

    It says: “The District has undertaken a new organization, which includes (among other things) reassignment of its Parent Support Liaisons to the department of the Deputy Superintendent of Support Services, Complaints of aduit-to-student bullying, etc. will be handled by this department and not by the Area Superintendente or school administrators. The relevant Administrative Procedures will be revised to reflect the new structure.”

  154. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Although Board President Cheryl Hansen told me on Wednesday that she would try to get me the names of the people the board interviewed in San Diego, she is now declining to provide that information. Here’s what she said in an email I just received:

    “The stakeholder groups in both San Diego and Mt. Diablo were as follows: Cabinet, District Administrators/Directors/Managers, Site Administrators, Classified Staff, Certificated Staff, Community/Advisory Groups, Parents/Business/College Leaders.

    As our interviews with these groups were a Closed Session Personnel matter, I will not be releasing the names of the individuals who participated.”

    As previously noted, this is in stark contrast to the way the previous board handled its interviews related to former Superintendent Steven Lawrence in San Diego, during an open meeting which I attended. They were all identified by name and gave information about where they worked.

  155. Doctor J Says:

    I don’t find it surprising — it makes it a more independent and impartial review if those then responsible are not asked to review their own actions. Transfer of the adult to student bullying complaints away from the Area Supts makes sense since there will be less chance of coverup and improper influence. Who in MDUSD investigates complaints of Adult to Student bullying ? Rose Lock, the same person that evaluates the principals, hires the principals, and hires the staff. MDUSD is a classic case of the fox guarding the hen house.

  156. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s Dan Borenstein’s take on the closed session meeting in San Diego and the San Diego district police action barring one member of the public from attending and speaking:

    FYI, I have just spoken to Meyer. She appears to be open to speaking to the press, which is a good sign from my perspective. More to come…

  157. Doctor J Says:

    Dan Borenstein does a good job of pointing out not only the illegality of the whole fiasco, but the hypocrisy that has now tainted an otherwise positive step for MDUSD. I don’t think we can blame Dr. Nellie for the missteps of the Board.

  158. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have just spoken to two parents who were part of the closed session and had very positive things to say about Meyer. They said MDUSD is lucky to get her and they are “devastated” that she is leaving.

  159. Doctor J Says:

    Nellie Meyer’s Contract has just been posted.

  160. g Says:

    Strategic Initiative 1.1 Academic Excellence and Learning. I’m embarrassed for the half million dollars worth of employees who wrote, approved, signed off on item 9.12 with copyright misspelled no fewer than 5 times.

  161. Doctor J Says:

    @G#160 How embarrassing — does MDUSD give passing grades for spelling errors ? Looks like the author is “Assistant Director” Lori O., with rubber stamps by “Asst Supt” Rose and “Interim Supt” Bernard [I think he was out of town and someone had access to his approval which creates more questions but at least the ghost of Loreen Joseph did not approve this one].

  162. Doctor J Says:

    MDUSD gets “F” in spelling by administrators — “SuperintendAnt” on official document received stamp in Supt’s office, and now on the Board agenda submitted by SASS, with items required to be submitted a week or more ahead — “copy write” 5 times instead of “copyright”. Maybe its time for Asst Supt Personnel Julie B-M to include a spelling test with employee applications — but would be qualified to grade it ?

  163. Bella Nguyen-Garcia Says:

    The content of the email sent on August 7 from Mt. Diablo school board President Cheryl Hansen to Theresa Harrington is 100% accurate. It is unfortunate that Ms. Harrington’s objective reporting has taken a back seat to newsstand tabloid-style journalism when she fell prey to Sally Smith, Judy Neufeld-Fernandez, and Susan Hopps-Tatum.

    These three publicity-crazed women, operating under the pretense of being advocates for children, are themselves relentless bullies. What hypocrites! Sally Smith, the ringleader, has filed so many frivolous uniform complaints that she is infamous to California Department of Education staff that process them.

    It is also unfortunate that Ms. Harrington wasn’t at SDUSD’s back to school managers meeting on August 23. When the superintendent introduced her leadership and instructional cabinets,ONLY Dr. Meyer received a standing ovation from all the school and district administrators in attendance. The applause was heartfelt and thunderous! Dr. Meyer’s departure to MDUSD is an immeasurable loss for SDUSD, and yesterday’s standing ovation is testament that principals and central office managers and staff are mindful of this fact.

    Dr. Meyer, you’ll be much happier working in a school district and with a school board that appreciates and respects an experienced leader who puts the best interest of kids first, is down to earth, approachable, intelligent, has integrity, a long record of proven success, and a big heart.

  164. Sue Berg Says:

    Theresa, #156, I tried to post the following comment on the page with the editorial you cite, but it did not “take,” so here it is:

    I’m befuddled by the Times’ criticizing the MDUSD Board for lack of transparency re: the superintendent process. Back on August 7 President Hansen personally sent the Times (via you, the education reporter) her letter to district staff naming the finalist for the position. This date was fully three weeks before the Board is scheduled to vote on the candidate (August 28). During this time there has been plenty of opportunity for anyone, but especially the press, to research the candidate, talk to people of one’s own choosing in San Diego, and share findings and opinions with the MDUSD Board and the public.

    The meetings the MDUSD Board held in San Diego last week were but one part of a fairly inclusive process. If the Times thought those meetings were to be a public airing of the candidate’s qualifications, why did it not send a reporter to cover them? The complaint about access came from one parent who had already made her opinions quite public through the On Assignment blog and, I would assume, in messages directly to the MDUSD Board members.

    Rather than applaud Ms. Hansen for letting the public know the name and background of the finalist weeks before the actual vote, the Times criticizes the MDUSD Board for allowing people to state their opinion of the candidate in a confidential setting. While there may not have been public comment, it seems as if all stakeholder groups were included in those sessions.

    I agree that the MDUSD leadership has not always been forthcoming in communicating with the public or interacting with the press. In this case, however, the leadership did make information available to one and all in a most timely manner. Frankly the Times editors seemed more interested in printing negative comments from two San Diego parents and writing yet another negative editorial about MDUSD than in actually reporting on the important story of the county’s largest school district’s search for a new superintendent and the educator being recommended for the position.

  165. SD Parent Says:

    I am a San Diego Unified parent who took part in the meetings last week. While everyone says they were “closed door,” it did not appear that way. No one monitored who entered the room, and I did not see any school police or school personnel screening those who showed up to the meeting. I wasn’t even aware it was “closed door.” I believe the MDUSD is lucky to have Nellie, who always puts kids first. Also know that other parents who post negative comments on this or any other site and say “WE,” which appears to me to refer to all parents, do NOT speak for all, or even many, parents. Nellie is intelligent, caring, accessible, and most importantly, has integrity. Good choice, MDUSD. Big loss for San Diego Unified.

  166. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is my story about Meyer:

    SD Parent: Thanks for your perspective. It was my impression that the other parents you referenced who used the word “we” were referring to the group that filed the Grand Jury complaint, which includes nine families.

    Sue: I cannot speak for our editorial department. However, I agree with you that Hansen’s decision to release Meyer’s name early as the finalist was a step in the right direction in terms of transparency. Unfortunately, due to a tight budget, the Times did not send a reporter to San Diego. But, even if I or another reporter had tried to attend the meeting, I would not have been able to attend the closed sessions or to find out who was interviewed. Also, Hansen told me that she asked Meyer to put together the stakeholders, who were interviewed in groups. Similarly, the previous board asked former Superintendent Steven Lawrence to gather stakeholders from his community to for a board interview in West Sacramento, but that meeting was public. There have been three parents who have contacted me regarding frustrations with Meyer: Judy Fernandez-Neufeld, who spoke during public comment; Sally Smith, who was barred by San Diego school district police from attending and speaking; and Susan Hopps-Tatum, who was unable to attend the meeting, but has spoken to me over the phone and via e-mail about her concerns.

    I am certainly planning to continue covering this important story and I will do another blog post with more of the comments I received from Meyer, two parents who participated in the closed session and Bill Kowbata, the former superintendent in San Diego. Also, Meyer has promised to grant me an interview on Friday. I spoke with her by phone last Friday, but was not able to include all of her comments in today’s story.

  167. Doctor J Says:

    @Bella#163 & SD Parent#165: Thank you for your solid endorsements of Dr. Nellie. She has her work cut out for her — take a look on Thursday at the API & AYP scores for the individual schools in MDUSD. Along with you, I don’t believe Dr. Nellie will let those students languish another year with inept leadership.

  168. Anon Says:

    @Bella – Well said. I applaud the MDUSD board for the very thorough work they did in finding Dr. Meyer.

  169. Doctor J Says:

    I compared the current proposed contract for Dr. Nellie and apparently written by Jayne Williams, Interim General Counsel, with the “addendums” approved in March 2013, written by FFF. The Fagan agreements spelled out the details of the requirement for reimbursements under certain conditions [see March 11 agenda] and the Williams agreement just specifies the sections of the Government Code without detailing the reimbursements. Two very different styles. Of note is that the Board negotiated a lower base salary for Dr. Nellie [$245,000] than that approved in Nov 2009 for Steven Lawrence [$249,000]. This might be a good clue to watch in the coming months as to whether certain Asst Supts will have their contracts renewed and reduction of salaries. It would not surprise me one iota to see Dr. Nellie bring in as a temporary consultant Admiral Bill to unravel the Bryan Richards theory of bookkeeping, and to provide some advice on organizational restructuring to improve efficiencies, SASS being a major target. As for administrative reassignments, on Thursday, any school that had a 25 point API DROP might see a principal reassignment in the next 60 days. Under Dr. Nellie, I believe we will see student achievement with a higher priority than administrator friendships — she won’t wait until next year.

  170. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Back on the subject of transparency, kudos to Tim Cody for posting his solar credit PowerPoint well before the meeting on Wednesday:

  171. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting, where the board also expects to appoint three high school vice principals (most likely YVHS, NGHS and CPHS):

    Note that Gretchen Jacobs has resigned.

  172. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#70 Can you interpret ? Sounds just like estimates not actual results. And what does this little footnote mean ? “Not all district electric meters were included for solar hook up as PG and E does not typically allow multiple solar connected meters. Therefore this data only reflects solar connected meters.”

  173. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Hopefully a board member will ask about that.

  174. Sue Berg Says:

    Theresa, at 10:09 am,
    Sorry to belabor the point, but I’m just concerned about the Times’ objectivity in reporting on MDUSD.

    You don’t know how you or another reporter would have been received before, during, or after the meeting(s) in San Diego because no reporter tried to attend. Your blog report on the meeting and the Times editorial are based on the complaint from a disgruntled parent. Your story today, though still giving considerable space to Meyer’s three critics, is much more balanced.

    Budget constraints may have kept you from traveling to San Diego, but not from trying to contact a variety of people there. No one was or is restricted from calling anyone in San Diego Unified to solicit an opinion about Dr. Meyer. I’ve been called to give opinions about people who would not have listed me as a reference. One of my prospective employers called people not on my reference list.

    I know you make the effort to provide balanced reporting. Unfortunately, before other accounts of the meeting were reported (as some SDUSD parents have provided on your blog today), the editorial writer(s) felt compelled to rush to judgment on this matter. I hope the Times gives Dr. Meyer more than a little time in her new job before judging her, pro or con.

  175. Doctor J Says:

    @SueB#174 — You know I am very excited to have Dr. Nellie — its a very positive step forward — a very bright star in the sky — not a small step, but a giant leap for MDUSD. I viewed the CCT Editorial not as a criticism of Dr. Nellie, but rather pointing out the blemish on the process employed by the MDUSD Board. When the US Senate confirms presidential appointments, the hearings are not secret [except matters of National Security]. I think those interviews should have been “open” and I think the Brown Act requires it. I do not blame the Board for the SDUSD police tactics — I don’ think anyone imagined that as a potential roadblock. Rather than spend the money to interview Dr. Nellie’s hand picked supporters, I would rather have seen a professional executive investigative background check done confidentially like many companies do for their top management. This district has a $300,000,000 budget but it can’t afford more mistakes. I was very pleasantly surprised when I saw Dr. Nellie’s name there — as I had been following the San Diego USD Supt process as was evident on this blog when I posted about Cindy Marten, an elementary principal, being appointed new Supt of a 130,000 student district. Many thought Dr. Nellie should have been appointed. I am happy she brings the talent to our district. She has something no Supt in our district has had for a dozen years — A TRACK RECORD OF STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT ! Go Nellie !

  176. Sue Berg Says:

    Dr. J, #169
    Part of the rationale for a superintendent’s base salary is experience in the position. (Actually, that’s the case for any employee.) As this is Dr. Meyer’s first superintendency, it is not surprising that her base is lower than Dr. Lawrence’s was. He came to MDUSD with experience as a public school district superintendent. Similarly, the base salary for any employee (assistant supt., principal, teacher, classified staff, et al) considers experience in the position in the calculation.

  177. Theresa Harrington Says:

    When I googled Bella Nguyen-Garcia, I found this letter to the editor that she wrote after the SDUSD board passed over Meyer and other top administrators for the superintendent position there:

    She used her freedom of speech when she voiced concerns about SDUSD Superintendent-elect Cindy Marten, calling her a “politically-aligned marionette.” Smith, Neufeld and Hopps-Tatum are also entitled to freedom of speech. Just as San Diego news media reported on the controversy surrounding the appointment of Marten, the Times would be remiss to ignore those who have opposing views regarding the appointment of Meyer.

  178. Doctor J Says:

    @SB#176 True in the abstract — But you can hardly say that Steven Lawrence had “more experience” with just 3 years in a 7,000 student district [no record of student achievement], with his previous position as an Asst Supt in a 7,000 student high school district [no record of student achievement], then bungee jumping to MDUSD’s 34,000 students [down now to 32,000] compared with Nellie Meyer’s many years as an Asst Supt and prior positions in a 138,000 district and a LIFETIME record of STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT.

  179. Doctor J Says:

    With CAHSEE results published on Thursday, EVERY high school principal [Rose Lock & Bill Morones included] would be well advised to spend Labor Day Weekend reading and comprehending “Preventing High School Dropouts: What Do Students Believe Caused Them to Leave the Comprehensive High School?” Why ? Your CAHSEE results stink — and this was written just three years ago by Dr. Nellie Meyer. A word to the wise is sufficient.

  180. Theresa Harrington Says:

    As an aside, I see that she spelled “copyright” correctly.

  181. Sue Berg Says:

    Dr. J, #175
    You wrote, “I would rather have seen a professional executive investigative background check done confidentially like many companies do for their top management.” That’s what the search firm did as a first step in screening the applications. No need for “rather.” Many ways of gathering information were used.

    I did not see the editorial as a criticism of Dr. Meyer. (I don’t know her, so can’t call her Dr. Nellie.) It was yet another criticism of MDUSD, this time based on a complaint from one individual and without having anyone “on the ground” to verify it. And it ignored the fact that the MDUSD Board President publicly (and specifically to the Times) announced the name of the finalist THREE WEEKS BEFORE the Board vote. Can’t get more transparent than that.

    The Times had plenty of time to do its own investigation of the candidate and of the search process itself. To write a rather self-righteous editorial based on one comment in a story it did not choose to cover makes me, a long-time Times subscriber, wonder about the accuracy and objectivity of the news I read while sipping my Peet’s every morning.

  182. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Sue, Again, I am not speaking on behalf of the Editorial Board. But, I would like to point out that the editorial was not “based on one comment in a story.”
    The members of our Editorial Board sometimes do their own reporting, as they did in this instance. I did not call Jayne Williams to ask about the reason for the closed session. But, a member of our Editorial Board did. It’s my understanding that a member of our Editorial Board also spoke to Cheryl Hansen. That member of the editorial board also found out independently about the San Diego parent who was prevented from attending the meeting (perhaps because she sent out a press release about it).
    News stories and news editorials are produced independent of each other at the Times.

  183. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#180 ROTFLOL. I’m speechless.
    @SB#181 Actually Sue, the police wrongful intervention was confirmed by the Chief of Police. I agree with you about the transparency of the announcement 3 weeks ahead, but that was not the point of the editorial — it was about following the Brown Act law on open meetings — secret witnesses and secret testimony blemished “the legal process” of an otherwise outstanding and successful Superintendent search — which is no reflection on Dr. Nellie and therefore I continue to support her appointment and look forward to change to improve the educational opportunities. I have to admit that I was very skeptical of whether Leadership Associates could produce a top quality candidate so “late in the season” and with such a short application window. Nellie Meyer’s soon to be appointment is a giant leap forward for MDUSD.

  184. Doctor J Says:

    @SB#181 I went back to the LA contract attached to the Board agenda — you suggest that LA did a “professional executive investigative background check” as a “first step” in “screening the applications”. I don’t think we are talking the same. What LA did was less than what I described. They said they would: “Conduct in-depth reference checks on the applicants. We use our vast network of contacts and also use databases to make certain that reliable and in-depth information is gathered on each candidate.”
    I would hope the Board would have more from the investigators than just “reference checks and database information” but also run credit checks, speak to neighbors, business associates, and social contacts not selected by the candidate and run comprehensive civil and criminal background checks nationwide.
    Nevertheless, the Board has made their decision, and it appears to be head and shoulders over the 2009 selection. Time will tell.
    For Theresa, who missed the meeting and why ? Was it related to the “closed session” ?

  185. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Trustee Brian Lawrence missed the meeting because he was out of town. I’m not sure if he was offered the opportunity to call in, or whether he would have been able to.

    Regarding the screening, Trustee Barbara Oaks said that Meyer looked very good on paper, but that the board wanted to ensure that she measured up in person and in the validation interviews. Oaks said Meyer’s interview and validation interviews confirmed the board’s initial impressions of the paper presentation.

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