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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.]

  • Doctor J

    @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.

  • Theresa Harrington

    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.

  • Theresa Harrington

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

  • Doctor J

    @#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.

  • Martin

    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.

  • Doctor J

    @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.

  • Doctor J

    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 ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    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: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/.

  • Theresa Harrington

    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.

  • Theresa Harrington
  • Theresa Harrington

    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 http://t.co/UQ67ZgPWN4

  • Anon

    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?

  • retired

    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.

  • retired
  • Theresa Harrington

    The board meeting has been changed to 10 am. Wednesday in San Diego: http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/

  • Doctor J

    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 ? http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/Aug/13/tp-crunchtime-for-the-common-core/?#article-copy

  • Doctor J

    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” ? http://www.mdusd.org/Departments/sass/commoncore/Documents/MDUSD-action-plan-for-common-core.pdf

  • Theresa Harrington

    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”

  • Theresa Harrington

    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”

  • Doctor J

    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.

  • retired

    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.

  • Doctor J

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

  • Theresa Harrington

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

  • Theresa Harrington

    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.

  • anon

    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.

  • Anon

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

  • Theresa Harrington

    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.

  • Sue Berg

    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.

  • Theresa Harrington

    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.

  • fran

    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.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Fran, Thanks for all the suggestions.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here’s a story about the San Diego grand jury response, with comments from Neufeld and Hopps-Tatum: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/aug/21/parents-call-SDunified-child-abuse-report-pathetic/

  • Theresa Harrington

    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.”

  • Theresa Harrington

    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.”

  • Doctor J

    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.

  • Theresa Harrington

    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.

  • Theresa Harrington

    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.”

  • Doctor J

    Adult to child bullying in San Diego USD — focus group formed by Supt. http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/aug/21/parents-call-SDunified-child-abuse-report-pathetic/

  • Theresa Harrington

    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: http://www.boarddocs.com/ca/sandi/Board.nsf/files/98P5UD11EAB9/$file/Re-Org%20-%20Superintendent%20of%20Public%20Education%206-18-13.pdf

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

  • Theresa Harrington

    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.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here is Meyer’s district bio: http://www.sandi.net/Page/767

  • Theresa Harrington

    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: http://youtu.be/ug7m7m_aUTc

    Does she seem like a good fit for MDUSD?

  • Doctor J

    Wow ! Go NELLIE !!

  • Theresa Harrington

    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: http://www.cbs8.com/story/23235202/sdusd-slammed-for-handling-of-adult-to-child-bullying

    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.

  • Theresa Harrington

    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
    Headline: MT. DIABLO HIRES NEW SCHOOLS CHIEF
    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?

  • Doctor J

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

  • g

    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 — just.like.last.time.

  • Theresa Harrington

    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.

  • g

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

  • Theresa Harrington

    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.