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Complaints spur investigations into Clayton Valley Charter HS

Controversy at Clayton Valley Charter High has prompted dozens of complaints to the Contra Costa County Office of Education, as well as several complaints to the County District Attorney’s Office. In response, both the District Attorney and County Superintendent of Schools have sent letters to the school seeking further information.

In addition, a group calling itself Stakeholders for Transparency has posted a petition on Change.org seeking the termination of the school’s Executive Director David Linzey and several teachers have voted no confidence in his leadership.

Through a Public Records Act request, I have received copies of some of the complaints sent to the County Office of Education. Everyone who writes to a public agency should be aware that your emails and letters are public records, which must be turned over to anyone who asks for them, even if you request that they be kept confidential.

I have decided not to post most of the emails and letters I received in part because they contain allegations that I cannot substantiate, or because they have asked that their information not be shared publicly. There were also some emails in favor of the Clayton Valley Charter High School Governing Board and Executive Director David Linzey, which contained allegations about the Stakeholders for Transparency group or others that I cannot substantiate.

However, I will post an email from Crystal Larke (with her permission), followed by en email I received from parent Sharon Degener about the complaints (with her permission), and an email I received from Board Chairman Ted Meriam about outreach the school is making to the staff and community in an effort to improve communications.

Crystal Larke:

“County Board,

I am writing as a concerned present Clayton Valley Charter high school parent, community member, and taxpayer. I am requesting that in your oversight capacity pursuant to Education Code section 47607(d), you require the Clayton Valley Charter High School Board of Trustees to seat Bud Beemer as the retired teacher position, and prohibit the Clayton Valley Charter High School board from seeking any further candidate for that position.

Mr Beemer was vetted pursuant to Clayton Valley Charter High School Board bylaws and was interviewed at the board’s November meeting. Two weeks prior to the December board meeting, the other retired teacher candidate pulled out of the race, leaving Mr Beemer unopposed. Pursuant to the Clayton Valley Charter High School bylaws, the board should have seated Mr Beemer at the December board meeting.

However, on the day of the meeting, the board disseminated a letter from their attorney finding Mr. Beemer had a conflict of interest and disqualifying him from being seated on the board. Prior to the January meeting, Mr Beemer sent a letter to the board demonstrating that he, in fact, had no conflict of interest.

The failure to seat Mr. Beemer, despite his clear proof that he did not have a conflict of interest, is a material violation of the ‘standards and procedures set forth in the Charter.’ (Education Code section 47607(c)(1)(A).) It is patently obvious that the only reason Mr Beemer was disqualified from serving was because of his beliefs and statements regarding the Clayton Valley Charter High School administration. To exclude otherwise qualified candidates simply because of a dissenting viewpoint is not democracy, it is a dictatorship. And a dictatorship violates the charter’s mission ‘to unite our stakeholders, including students, teachers and staff, parents, and community members, in a common goal to diligently prepare all students for success the 21st Century.’(CVCHS Charter, p. 23)

Thank you for your time,
Crystal Larke”

Here is a link to the letter from the Law Offices of Young, Minney & Corr regarding Beemer’s candidacy, which I obtained from the County Office of Education, along with Beemer’s response: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6mS2O1_NKceNlNhQzkyWVJwUkU/view?usp=sharing

Here is Beemer’s response: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6mS2O1_NKceeXdrX2RYQ1I3Q00/view?usp=sharing

Sharon Degener:

“The petition to remove Linzey has been signed by over 500 people and there are over 700 people who have liked the (Stakeholders For Transparency) Facebook page. That is not a ‘few’ people. It may have been a few people back in May when Pat (Middendorf) was fired because many people were not aware of what was going on at the school. But as more and more people have experienced Linzey’s poor treatment, have seen the Board squash any dissenting voices, and watched as the Board completely ignored the vote of no confidence by the very teachers who started the charter, they have come to see that the leadership at Clayton Valley does not represent the interests of the stakeholders, nor does it represent the collaborative model of the original charter.

Also, the fact that the County and the DA are investigating shows that it is more than a PR problem. The county-wide agencies are not going to bother to investigate unsubstantiated complaints from a ‘few people.’

Best,
Sharon Degener”

Ted Meriam:

“A few references to items I mentioned today:

New Communication Channels to Share the Positive Impact of CVCHS:

o Charting the Future for Our Children – this is the Facebook group the school published in December, as a proactive channel to conduct Q&A with the public on educational issues facing our kids and the community.

o Coffee with Dave – a weekly podcast with Dave Linzey, featuring the likes of Congressman George Miller, Major David Shuey, CEO of CCSA Jed Wallace, etc.

o I Support CVCHS (Facebook Page) – while not operated by the school, a group of parents banded together to share positive news of CV in light of the negative PR.

o Increased volume of parent and community newsletters highlighting an exceptional student education.

o Dave conducting regular luncheons with teachers to discuss the issues in a more intimate setting.

Enrollment Stats for Next Year’s Freshman Class:

o Within the first four hours of opening enrollment, CVCHS received 159 applicants.

o That increased to almost 1,000 total applicants for the Freshman class.

o The school will admit about 500 freshmen, sadly turning away hundreds of other kids who desired a CVCHS education.

Executive Director Contract:

o The Board recently extended Dave’s contract to June 30, 2018 citing exceptional ED performance.

o Base comp is $204k with a 3 percent increase each year.

o Benefits include health insurance, vacation and sick leave, a $350/mo transportation allowance, and all other fringe benefits awarded to other CVCHS Administrators.

Hope this helps you.

Best,
Ted”

Here is the message that the County Office of Education is sending to those who have sent in messages regarding Clayton Valley Charter High:

“Thank you for your inquiry. The Contra Costa County Office of Education is aware of recent complaints and allegations from community members regarding matters related to recent governance practices at Clayton Valley Charter High School. As the chartering authority for the Clayton Valley Charter High School, the County Office takes these concerns seriously and has begun a formal investigation into recent governance practices and operating procedures at CVCHS. Results of the investigation will be available once the investigation is concluded.”

At it’s Wednesday meeting, the board plans to interview former Contra Costa County Trustee Richard Asadoorian for the position of retired teacher. His application is on pages 62-66 of the agenda packet: http://www.claytonvalley.org/ourpages/board/meetings/—2015/02_February/Board%20Packet%202_11_15.pdf

Asadoorian, who was defeated in his run for re-election to the County Board in November, spoke in favor of the countywide Performing Arts charter that was recently denied. In his application for the Clayton Valley Charter High governing board, which is partially cut off in the copy attached to the agenda, he states: “There are detractors who are trying to tear down this structure o… (portion cut off) … they must be deterred.”

How do you think Clayton Valley Charter High School should resolve complaints about its governance and operations?

Posted on Tuesday, February 10th, 2015
Under: Clayton Valley Charter High, Contra Costa County Board of Education | 26 Comments »

A look back at some significant state and local education stories in 2014

Here’s a sampling of some significant education stories that appeared in this newspaper in 2014.

1. New school funding, curriculum and testing

- The California Board of Education adopted regulations to help districts implement the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula, which changed the ways schools were funded and required districts to create plans showing how they would spend money, especially for English language learners, low-income students and foster youth.

- Districts implemented new Common Core standards for education, focusing less on memorization and more on critical thinking.

- Students piloted new computer-based tests aimed at gauging how well they were learning with the new standards.

2. School child abuse cases

- The Brentwood school district agreed to pay $8 million to settle a lawsuit with the families of eight special needs children over its handling of a special-education teacher who was convicted of child abuse, yet allowed to remain in the classroom.

- An Antioch district teacher charged with abusing special-education students pleaded guilty to one felony count of child abuse and two misdemeanor charges.

n The Moraga school district agreed to pay $14 million to two women who sued over sex abuse by a former teacher, in what was believed to be the nation’s largest molestation settlement per student.

n Former Woodside Elementary teacher Joseph Martin was charged with 150 counts of child molestation involving 14 students. The District Attorney later dismissed 34 charges, a jury acquitted Martin of 21 more and failed to reach consensus on 95 charges. The District Attorney is retrying the former Mt. Diablo school district teacher on 24 felony molestation counts involving nine students.

3. Charter schools

n The Contra Costa County Board of Education approved an agreement paving the way for the Summit K2 Charter School to open in El Cerrito in the fall, after the West Contra Costa school board rejected the charter petition.

n The Antioch school district reached an agreement with Dozier-Libbey High teachers to keep the site under its authority, after a months-long campaign to convert the school into an independent charter. The Antioch school board and Contra Costa County Board of Education denied the charter petition and teachers dropped their appeal to the state Board of Education.

n Although the Contra Costa County Board of Education renewed the charter for Clayton Valley Charter High for five years, tensions built throughout the year between some staff members and the school’s governing board. An original petitioner for the school was fired, the board president resigned and a teacher board member was asked to resign, but refused. Teachers voted no confidence in Executive Director Dave Linzey and the board dismissed the school’s coordinator of technology after he was accused of breaching Linzey’s confidence.

n The West Contra Costa school board approved three charter petitions in December, after initially proposing to seeking a waiver from its responsibility to vote on charters, saying the independent schools negatively impact the district.

n The Knightsen school board rejected a charter proposed by ChartHouse Public Schools, which also seeks to operate a countywide Performing Arts charter.

4. West Contra Costa bond program

n Voters rejected a $270 million bond measure in June.

n The Securities and Exchange Commission subpoenaed the district, board president, county, and district financial advisers and consultants in an inquiry into the district’s bond financing. The school board approved hundreds of thousands in contracts for legal representation related to the SEC inquiry, along with representation related to separate questions from the FBI.

What do you think were the most significant education stories in 2014?

Posted on Friday, January 2nd, 2015
Under: Antioch school district, Brentwood school district, California Department of Education, Clayton Valley Charter High, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa County Board of Education, Education, Knightsen school district, Moraga school district, Mt. Diablo school district, West Contra Costa school district | 7 Comments »

Closed session item related to employee discipline, dismissal or release at Wednesday’s Clayton Valley Charter HS meeting raises concerns

The Clayton Valley Charter High School governing board will meet Wednesday to vote on 6 percent raises for staff and a proposal to increase school capacity in the fall.

The board will also hold a public hearing regarding its state-required Local Control Accountability Plan, which is expected to show how the campus will spend its money to meet school goals.

But a closed session agenda item related to employee discipline, dismissal or release is also creating buzz in the community. Some, including Clayton Councilman David Shuey, believe the item could be related to complaints by teachers about the school’s Executive Director David Linzey and/or other employees.

Shuey, who is not on the school board, said he has no direct knowledge about the planned closed session.

“But I am very well aware of complaints made by the staff against the executive director and I’m also aware of discussion surrounding all of that and what to do,” he said.

The public may comment before the closed session at 5 p.m. in the school’s multiuse room, 1101 Alberta Way in Concord.

“It’s my understanding that there will be people from both sides ready to speak at that time if allowed by the board,” Shuey said. “And if not, people will speak during public comment at 6 o’clock.”

The regular meeting is at 6 p.m. in the same location. The board expects to report out any action taken during closed session, before accepting public comments on its regular agenda.

“Regrettably, I do believe that it will be a somewhat contentious meeting,” Shuey said. “But I am hopeful that the public is respectful and lets the board make its decision after careful consideration.”

Here is the complete agenda:

CLAYTON VALLEY CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL
GOVERNING BOARD MEETING
Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 5:00 PM CVCHS Multi-use Room
1101 Alberta Way, Concord, CA 94521

Meeting agendas and minutes available at:
claytonvalley.org

BOARD MEETINGS ARE SCHEDULED FOR THE 2ND WEDNESDAY OF THE MONTH

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and upon request, Clayton Valley Charter High School may furnish reasonable auxiliary aids and services to qualified individuals with disabilities. Individuals who require appropriate alternative modification of the agenda in order to participate in Board meetings are invited to contact the Executive Director’s office.

1.0 OPEN SESSION (5:00 PM)

1.1 Call to Order, Roll Call, Establishment of Quorum
1.2 Board Chair Announcement Regarding Closed Session Items
1.3 Board Member Recusals From Participation in Closed Session Items, If Any.
1.4 Public Comment, If Any, on Any Closed Session Items: See applicable rules for public comment below.

2.0 CLOSED SESSION (5:05 PM)

2.1 Conference with Labor Negotiators
Agency Designated Representatives: Dave Linzey, Executive Director
Jim Young, Legal Counsel
Employee Organizations: CVEA, CSEA

2.2 Public Employment
2.2.1 Certificated
2.2.2 Classified
2.3 Public Employee: Discipline/Dismissal/Release
2.4 Conference with Legal Counsel: Anticipated Litigation
Significant exposure to litigation pursuant to paragraph (2) or (3) of subdivision (d) of Section 54956.9: One Case

RECONVENE TO OPEN SESSION (6:00 PM)

2.5 Pledge of Allegiance
2.6 Report on action taken in Closed Session

3.0 ORAL COMMUNICATIONS
If you would like to participate in oral communication with the Governing Board, please complete a speaker card and submit it to the Vice President. Public comment for items of interest to the public and within the scope of the CVCHS Governing Board (non-agenda) shall be no longer than two (2) minutes. Speakers may not yield there time. In accordance with the Brown Act, no discussion or action may occur at this time but it is the Board’s prerogative to respond or give direction to staff.

NOTE: Public comment for agenda items shall be no longer than three (3) minutes and will be heard at that point in the meeting. Speakers may not yield their time.

4.0 CONSENT AGENDA
NOTE: Items listed under Consent Agenda are considered routine and will be approved/adopted by a single motion. There will be no separate discussion of these items; however, any item may be removed from the consent agenda upon the request of any member of the Board and acted upon separately.

4.1 Consider approval of meeting minutes from 4/9/2013 regular meeting and 5/1/14 special meeting.

5.0 ITEMS SCHEDULED FOR ACTION

5.1 Consider final Board approval/ratification of initial collective bargaining agreement between CVCHS and CVEA. This would enact a 6%
(retroactive to July 2013) salary increase for all CVCHS employee
contracts.
5.2 Consider adopting updated complaint procedures as recommended by
legal counsel.
5.3 Consider increasing school capacity beginning in the 2014-15 school year.

6.0 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR REPORT

7.0 CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER REPORT

7.1 CVCHS financial report for March 2014 (financial reports will be made at the regular board meetings one month in arrears in order to give ample time for the site fiscal manager and the accountants at CSMC to reconcile and prepare financial reports).

8.0 STANDING COMMITTEE REPORTS
8.1 Curriculum and Instruction
8.2 Operations
8.3 Student Services

9.0 ITEMS SHEDULED FOR INFORMATION

9.1 Public Hearing – Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) presentation to be made by the CVCHS administration.

10.0 BOARD ANNOUNCEMENTS
NOTE: From time to time, the board has topics of interest that they would like to share with the community. These are informational in nature and do not require action.

11.0 ADJOURNMENT

Next Board Meeting: Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 6:00PM, CVCHS Library”

Here is a link to the agenda packet: http://www.claytonvalley.org/ourpages/board/meetings/—2014/05_May/Board%20Packet%205_21_14.pdf

Do you believe the board should take any action related to Executive Director David Linzey?

Posted on Tuesday, May 20th, 2014
Under: Clayton, Clayton Valley Charter High, Concord, Education | 7 Comments »

Second time a charm for MDUSD charter waiver?

Once again, several representatives of the Mt. Diablo school district plan to trek up to Sacramento tomorrow, hoping to persuade the state Board of Education to approve their request to waive the financial impact of Clayton Valley Charter High on the district.

“I am going to the SBE meeting tomorrow and plan on addressing the SBE,” Superintendent Steven Lawrence wrote in an email. “It is important to the district because of the drastic cuts the state has made to our budget and the limited amount of funding provide(d) to educate the children of California. Any further loss of funds will negatively impact the educational opportunities for students in the district.”

District board President Sherry Whitmarsh said she doesn’t intend to go to the meeting because she believes the state board would be more likely to listen to parents than to district officials. Several district parents will attend, she said.

If the board denies the waiver, the district will have to shell out about $1.7 million more to the charter than it will receive from the state for the charter’s students. This is because the high school rate of funding is about $978 more per student than the unified school district rate.

The state Department of Education recommends denying the waiver because it would increase state costs and could set a precedent that would lead other districts to seek waivers. In addition, the board may not have the authority to grant the waiver, since school funding is granted by the Legislature.

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, has proposed AB 1811 to try to help remedy the financial impact of charter conversion high schools on unified school districts.

But in looking more closely at her amended bill, which is in the Senate, it appears it would not apply to Clayton Valley Charter High.

Subdivision B of her proposed bill states:

“This subdivision shall not apply to a charter school that is
established through the conversion of an existing public high school
within a unified school district on or after January 1, 2010, but on
or before December 31, 2012, which instead shall receive
general-purpose funding pursuant to Section 47633. This paragraph
does not preclude a charter school or unified school district from
agreeing to an alternative funding formula, including the formula
specified in Section 47633.”

Section 47633 is the existing law, which would require the district to pay the charter high school rate. So, it appears that the bill is intended to remedy any future disparities that could arise if more high schools convert to charters in unified districts.

Here is the link to the state Department of Education agenda: http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/ag/ag/yr12/agenda201207.asp

The district’s waiver request is Item W-25.

You can watch the action unfold online at: http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/

Do you think the state Board of Education should approve the district’s waiver request?

Posted on Tuesday, July 17th, 2012
Under: Clayton Valley Charter High, Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 100 Comments »