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Richard Ault wins Lifetime Achievement Award

Richard Ault wins Lifetime Achievement Award

Many teachers who would otherwise have been grading papers after work on Thursday instead got dressed up for the San Ramon Valley Education Association’s first Excellence in Education awards ceremony.

Held at the Blackhawk Automotive Museum, the event included 31 awards to educators, administrators and parents.

About 130 people were nominated for the awards, which culminated in Lifetime Achievement recognition for San Ramon Valley High English teacher Richard Ault, whose students shared touching reflections about his impact on their lives. The things that stood out in their minds reflected attributes that many people believe great teachers share.

Here are a few of their comments.

Senior Taylor Cunin said Ault inspired her not to work for the grade, but to make him proud. She also thanked him for pushing seniors “to go out with a bang, not a whimper.”

Student Regan Leach said Ault was by far one of the most passionate people she had met.

“He instills in his students a way of thinking and learning that will carry them very far into the future,” she said. “He truly cares about everybody’s success — not only in school — but in life. He is wise, happy and, best of all, kind.”

Their classmate Whitney Johnsonl said she appreciated the way Ault challenged students with difficult assignments, such as a 15-page paper.

“Great teachers don’t just teach you how to be a great student, but a great person,” she said. “Mr. Ault was able to do this because he is a great man.”

Senior Zachary Baker called Ault “a phenomenal teacher.”

“The reason why I and everyone else care so much about him is he’s also a friend,” he said. “He’s a mentor. He cares about things far beyond the walls of a classroom, such as respect and compassion. But the thing I appreciate most about Mr. Ault is his willingness to pour his heart out for us and to live life to the fullest.”

Jimmy Mitchell, a student from the class of 1999, said Ault gave him confidence in his academic abilities when the teacher praised a paper Mitchell wrote as a sophomore to the rest of the class. Mitchellalso recalled a time when Ault compared creating a good thesis to climbing a mountain.

To demonstrate his point, Mitchellt recalled Ault saying he could easily stand on a table to reach the ceiling. But, instead, he used a more difficult strategy by climbing the wall and then slamming his head into the ceiling, earning a place in historical lore at the school.

Kerri Pike, who previously taught at San Ramon Valley High, said she and the rest of Ault’s colleagues also appreciate his masterful teaching. Pike said she was mesmerized as a new teacher when she sat in on Ault’s class about the play “Waiting for Godot.”

“We all hung on your every word as you explained the decisions that we all have to make in life,” she said. “You taught us all that there’s a time and a place for everything, and it’s our jobs as citizens of the world to know when and how to make important judgment calls. As a teacher, these were words of wisdom that I’ve never forgotten.”

Here are the other awards and winners:

Dedicated Parent: Laurie Horn and Kevin Wiedeman

Outstanding Classified Educator: Kim Cummings, Catherine Grijalva and Andy Kallick

Incredible Community Involvement: Janet Willford

Amazing Committee-a-holic: DeeDee Judice

Sensational Substitute Teacher: Tom Dunlap, Erica Glaser and Elaine Johnson

Shining Golden Apple (new teacher): Analyse George, Christopher Madrid and Kimberley Tretten

Outstanding Administrator: Chris George, Daniel Hillman and Christine Huajardo

Outstanding Leadership: Jamie Brindley, Shirley Convirs, Jana Johnson and Teresa Marohn

Making a Change: Elizabeth Campos, Allison Gardiner and Shea Hunter

Outstanding Creativity: Penelope Davis, Pamela Jarvis and Maria Pan

Fantastic District Administrator: Carol Loflin

Truly Inspirational Teaching: Courtney Konopacky, Heather Russell and Kelsey Wengel

The complete list of nominees is at: http://www.srvea.org.

What do you think makes a great teacher?

Posted on Friday, April 17th, 2015
Under: Education, San Ramon Valley school district | No Comments »

Mt. Diablo school board to hold board governance workshop on Monday

The Mt. Diablo school board will hold a board governance workshop at 3:30 p.m. Monday in the district office at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord. Here is the agenda:

“1.0 Call to Order
1.1 President Will Call the Meeting to Order at 3:30 p.m. Info
1.2 Preliminary Business Info

2.0 Public Comment
2.1 Public Comment Info

3.0 Business/Action Items
3.1 Governance Workshop Info

4.0 Adjournment
4.1 Adjourn Meeting at 5:30 p.m. Action”

Here is the agenda report for item 3.1, the governance workshop:

“3.1 Governance Workshop

Summary: A Governance Workshop will be conducted in order for all governing Board members and the Superintendent to participate in ongoing updates and review of the Brown Act. Our goal will be to stay informed and current, as well as to reflect upon the specific role and responsibilities of School Board members to ensure effectiveness.

The Governance Meeting will be conducted in two parts:

Part 1: Marilyn Cleveland, attorney with the law firm of Dannis, Wolliver and Kelley, will present an update on the Brown Act. Time has been provided for questions and discussion.

Part 2: The Board, in collaboration with the Superintendent, will participate in discussion and review the following areas:

1. Preparation for meetings
2. Seeking information for agenda items
3. Seeking information from Staff for other issues
4. Responses to Public Comment
5. Speaking as an individual/Board
6. School visitation process

Recommendation: Information and discussion.”

How do you think the board could improve its governance practices?

Posted on Friday, April 17th, 2015
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 30 Comments »

Three Contra Costa County districts struggle to prioritize construction projects

Three school boards in Contra Costa County are deciding how to prioritize construction projects to complete with remaining money from their districts’ voter-approved bond measures.

The Martinez school board’s discussion of about $17.3 million left from its $45 million Measure K bond passed in 2010 made the news last week when an edited video of Trustee Denise Elsken’s comments about air conditioning proposed at two schools went viral. Elsken said she supported air conditioning at John Swett Elementary, but not at Las Juntas Elementary, in part because she believed Las Juntas students are more “acclimated” to heat than students at John Swett.

Elsken based her conclusion on the assumption that about 95 percent of John Swett students have air conditioning at home, while about 95 percent of Las Juntas students do not. However, the video did not include Elsken’s further comments explaining her position.

Unfortunately, the Martinez district’s audio recording of the meeting is of such poor quality that Elsken’s comments about air conditioning cannot be clearly heard. It appears the district placed microphones in front of some trustees and public speakers — but not all — resulting in a recording that is not an accurate record of what happened.

However, based on another recording obtained by a colleague, Elsken reminisced about attending Las Juntas herself and sitting under shady trees on the “eight to ten hot days a year.” She also pointed out that Las Juntas did not rank air conditioning as a high priority.

Elsken said staffers instead preferred other upgrades, including “teaching walls.” The Martinez agenda report listed field renovation at Las Juntas as the only staff priority for the school, with a note from the principal stating: “Field/track has holes that are major tripping hazards.”

Besides discussing specific projects, the Martinez board spent considerable time discussing values, including safety, integrity, education and communication. Trustees plan to continue discussing “equity” on Monday, along with the projects they informally agreed to support March 30, including air conditioning at John Swett Elementary, which was listed as a staff priority.

Equity has also been a hot topic in the Mt. Diablo and West Contra Costa school districts. The Mt. Diablo school board may vote April 20 on several different proposals for issuing $77 million in remaining Measure C bonds voters approved in 2010.

At two study sessions last month, several Mt. Diablo trustees who were not on the board in 2010 said they needed to see updated project lists before they would agree to spend the money. A consultant suggested the board might also want to consider issuing less than $77 million now and waiting until 2016 to ask voters to pass a new bond measure.

The Martinez and West Contra Costa school boards have also begun talking about asking voters to approve new bond measures to finish additional projects.

In an email to some community members after she was widely criticized for her comments, Elsken said that she believes Las Juntas should be torn down and rebuilt within the next 10 years, which would require a new bond measure.

Similarly, the West Contra Costa school district is planning to rebuild several schools, even though the remaining approximately $592 million from $1.6 billion approved by district voters in six bond measures will not be enough to complete them all. The school board recently agreed to update its Facilities Master Plan and to set up a committee to rank projects based on factors such as age, condition and enrollment.

Although the West Contra Costa district has told voters in the past that it wanted to pass new bond measures to provide equitable facilities for all students, it still has a long way to go to meet that goal after 16 years of construction. It has spent millions to provide top-notch facilities for some, while others are still waiting for their turns.

How do you think school boards should prioritize projects?

Posted on Friday, April 10th, 2015
Under: Education, Martinez school district, Mt. Diablo school district, West Contra Costa school district | 16 Comments »

WCCUSD contentious community engagement led to more open and constructive dialogue over district plan

TThe West Contra Costa school district’s attempt to create a plan showing how it would spend its state money got off to a rocky start last year, according to a study.

But the case study, released recently by the nonprofit Education Trust-West student advocacy group, found that contentious community engagement at the beginning of the process eventually led to more open and constructive dialogues between district officials and the community.

This spring, the district is again engaging the community in meetings as it prepares its second Local Control Accountability Plan, which determines in part how education dollars are spent to boost achievement. And a presentation to the board Wednesday surprised some board members.

The presentation showed only 27 percent of high school students were considered ready for college in English last year and 37 percent were prepared for college in math, and the district’s goal this year is to raise those levels by a mere 2 percentage points.

“We need to better than that,” said Trustee Liz Block.

But Nicole Joyner, director of accountability and chief data officer, said the Contra Costa County Office of Education advised the district to set goals that were achievable.

Ryan Smith, executive director of Ed Trust-West, said his organization is concerned about low-performing districts setting goals that are not high enough, especially those with large percentages of low-income students, English learners and foster youth.

“The resources that were given to districts like West Contra Costa were explicitly (intended) to improve their outcomes and it should not be over a century that we’ll see these students become proficient,” he said. “It should be within this lifetime. That’s sad if only 2 percent (improvement) is all we can do for these students.”

Only 36 percent of West Contra Costa third-graders and 45 percent of ninth-graders are proficient in English language arts, and about 75 percent graduate from high school, the report found.

The district received $23.2 million in supplemental and “concentration” funds through the state’s Local Control Funding Formula in 2014-15 because 75 percent of its students are low-income, English learners or foster youth. The district also received $189 million in “base grants” for every student, according to the report.

Ryan said low-performing districts “have a disincentive to empower parents to ask the critical questions and to hold them accountable.”

The report said tensions mounted last year when the district began meeting with parents about the plan because district officials didn’t explain that they wouldn’t have enough money to implement all the ideas people suggested. The district also initially failed to hold a town-hall meeting in the Iron Triangle area of Richmond, but later made up for it by opening its parent advisory and English learner advisory meetings to the public, the study said.

It also found that Superintendent Bruce Harter did not initially embrace community involvement by organizations such as CCISCO, which offered to help train parents about the plan. Although Harter eventually agreed to include the groups, the report said the district would not sponsor the meetings and required the groups to pay for janitorial services and a sound system.

As parents became more empowered, they asked why the district hadn’t translated information into Spanish as required by law. The district then began translating its meetings and materials, the report said.

“By the end of the community engagement process,” the study said, “community advocates felt that WCCUSD leaders seemed humbled by the experience and ready to build stronger ties to the community.”

Is your district reaching out to parents to create its plan?

Posted on Friday, April 3rd, 2015
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 7 Comments »

MDUSD board tonight to hold study session regarding issuance of remaining $77 million in Measure C bond funds

The Mt. Diablo school board will meet at 5:30 p.m. today in the district office at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord to vote on a Concord HS Choir trip to New Orleans and hold a study session regarding a proposal to issue the remaining $77 million remaining from the district’s 2010 Measure C.

Here is the agenda:

“1.0 Call to Order
1.1 President Will Call the Meeting to Order at 5:30 p.m. Info

1.2 Preliminary Business Info
2.0 Public Comment
2.1 Public Comment Info

3.0 Business / Action Item
3.1 Concord High School Choir Trip to New Orleans April 22-26, 2015 Action

4.0 Study Session
4.1 Study Session to Discuss Future Bond Sales Info

5.0 Adjournment
5.1 Adjourn Meeting Action”

Here is the agenda report for the study session:

“Subject: 4.1 Study Session to Discuss Future Bond Sales

Summary: Dale Scott and Mark Ferrell of DS&C, will make a presentation during this Study Session to consider a potential future resolution authorizing Issuance and Sale of General Obligation Bonds, 2010 Election, 2010 Series F. Aggregate Principal Amount not to Exceed Seventy-Seven Million Dollars as authorized by the June 8, 2010 bond election. The proceeds of the bonds would be used to fund capital improvements/modernization work as previously deemed by the Board of Education to be essential to the maintenance and improvement of educational programming. Work includes, but is not limited to: Classroom technology improvements, roof replacements, restroom renovations, and kitchen improvements (Priority 1 projects). Also, next steps to meet ongoing needs of the District through a Bond Program will be discussed.

Funding:
Fiscal Impact : No impact to the General Fund. All costs of a future bond sale would be paid from monies raised through the sale of the bonds.

Recommendation: Study Session”

Do you support the proposed bond issuance?

Posted on Monday, March 30th, 2015
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Uncategorized | 90 Comments »

MDUSD Board tonight to discuss Eagle Peak Charter MOU, CSEA contract and Immigrant Funds

The Mt. Diablo school board will meet at 7 p.m. tonight in the district office at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord. Items of interest on the agenda include a presentation about Ygnacio Valley High School’s IB application, the district’s MOU with the Eagle Peak Charter School, the CSEA contract and an application for Title III, Part A Immigrant Funds.

Here is the agenda:

“1.0 Call to Order
1.1 Board Member, Brian Lawrence, will participate via teleconference from the lobby at Hyatt Regency Bellevue on Seattle’s Eastside, 900 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, Washington 98004 Info
1.2 Board President Will Call The Meeting To Order Info

2.0 Public Comment
2.1 Public Comment Info

3.0 Announcements
3.1 In Closed Session, the Board will consider the items listed on the Closed Session Agenda. Info
4.0 Closed Session Agenda
4.1 (Item #1) Expulsion of Student # 10-15 from all regular schools of Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Action
4.2 (Item #2) Expulsion of Student # 11-15 from all regular schools of Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Action
4.3 (Item #3) Expulsion of Student # 12-15 from all regular schools of Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Action
4.4 (Item #4) Discipline, Dismissal or Release of Public Employee (Gov. Code Sec. 54957(b)(1) Info/Action
4.5 (Item #5) Discipline, Dismissal or Release of Public Employee (Gov. Code Sec. 54957(b)(1) Info/Action
4.6 (Item #6) Discipline, Dismissal or Release of Public Employee (Gov. Code Sec. 54957(b)(1) Info/Action
4.7 (Item #7) Discipline, Dismissal or Release of Public Employee (Gov. Code Sec. 54957(b)(1) Info/Action
4.8 (Item #8) Negotiations – The Board may discuss negotiations or provide direction to its representatives regarding represented employees, pursuant to EERA (Govt. Code Section 3549.1) Agency negotiator: Deborah Cooksey, Agencies: MDSPA and CSEA Info/Action
4.9 (Item #9) Anticipated Litigation – Conference with Legal Counsel pursuant to Gov’t. Code Sec. 54956.9(b), Significant Exposure to Litigation: 4 cases Info/Action

5.0 Adjourn to Closed Session at 6:00 p.m.
5.1 Adjourn to Closed Session at 6:00 p.m. Action

6.0 Reconvene Open Session
6.1 Reconvene to Open Session at 7:00 p.m. Info

7.0 Preliminary Business
7.1 Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call Info

8.0 Report Out Action Taken in Closed Session
8.1 (Item #1) Expulsion of Student # 10-15 from all regular schools of Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Action
8.2 (Item #2) Expulsion of Student # 11-15 from all regular schools of Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Action
8.3 (Item #3) Expulsion of Student # 12-15 from all regular schools of Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Action
8.4 (Item #4) Discipline, Dismissal or Release of Public Employee (Gov. Code Sec. 54957(b)(1) Info/Action
8.5 (Item #5) Discipline, Dismissal or Release of Public Employee (Gov. Code Sec. 54957(b)(1) Info/Action
8.6 (Item #6) Discipline, Dismissal or Release of Public Employee (Gov. Code Sec. 54957(b)(1) Info/Action
8.7 (Item #7) Discipline, Dismissal or Release of Public Employee (Gov. Code Sec. 54957(b)(1) Info/Action
8.8 (Item #8) Negotiations – The Board may discuss negotiations or provide direction to its representatives regarding represented employees, pursuant to EERA (Govt. Code Section 3549.1) Agency negotiator: Deborah Cooksey, Agencies: MDSPA and CSEA Info/Action
8.9 (Item #9) Anticipated Litigation – Conference with Legal Counsel pursuant to Gov’t. Code Sec. 54956.9(b), Significant Exposure to Litigation: 4 cases Info/Action

9.0 Recognitions and Resolutions

10.0 Student Representatives
10.1 Student Representative Reports Info

11.0 Board Member Reports
11.1 Board Member Reports Info

12.0 Superintendent’s Report
12.1 Superintendent’s Report Info

13.0 Reports/Information
13.1 School Spotlight: Ygnacio Valley High School Info

14.0 Public Employee Appointment
14.1 Appointment of Administrator-Assessment, Research and Evaluation Action
14.2 Classified Personnel: Appointment of Occupational Therapist Action

15.0 Consent Agenda Action
15.1 (Item #1) 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. Action
15.2 (Item #2) College Park High School and Ygnacio Valley High School Trip to California Association of Student Leaders Conference in San Jose, CA, March 28-30, 2015 Action
15.3 (Item #3) Concord High School’s Junior/Senior Ball, May 21, 2016 Action
15.4 (Item #4) Mt. Diablo High School’s trip change to St. Francis High School, La Canada, CA on 3/27/15 Action
15.5 (Item #5) Mt. Diablo High School JROTC trip to Camp San Luis Obispo, April 22-26, 2015 Action
15.6 (Item #6) Mt. Diablo High School’s International Hospitality Tourism Academy trip to New Brighton State Beach, May 11-13, 2015 Action
15.7 (Item #7) Northgate High School’s Trip to the Santa Cruz Jazz Festival, March 20-22, 2015 Action
15.8 (Item #8) Northgate High School’s trip to the Next Generation Jazz Festival, March 27 – 29, 2015 Action
15.9 (Item #9) Northgate High School’s Spring Instrumental Music Tour to California State University, Long Beach, April 22-26, 2015 Action
15.10 (Item #10) Northgate High School’s trip to Ashland, Oregon, May 22-25, 2015 Action
15.11 (Item #11) Amendment to the Contract Between University Corp/Camp Sea Lab and Highlands Elementary Outdoor Education Action
15.12 (Item #12) Overnight Camping Trip for Sunrise Elementary School 4th and 5th grade Students at Mt. Diablo State Park Action
15.13 (Item #13) MDUSD Youth Ambassador Exchange Program Action
15.14 (Item #14) Non-Public School Adjustments Action
15.15 (Item #15) Independent Services Contract between Mt. Diablo Unified School District and Nicole Padoan Action
15.16 (Item #16) Contract Increase with Speech Pathology Group Action
15.17 (Item #17) Annual Renewal of Follett Software Company Contract for Destiny Software Action
15.18 (Item #18) Contract Extension for Eagle Software Aeries Student Information System for 2015-2016 Action
15.19 (Item #19) Contra Costa County Office of Education Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)- Tobacco Use Prevention Education (TUPE) Consortium Collaborative Action
15.20 (Item #20) Fiscal Transactions for the month of February 2015 Action
15.21 (Item #21) Recommended Action for Certificated Personnel Action
15.22 (Item #22) Request to Increase and Decrease Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2014-2015 School Year Action
15.23 (Item #23) Request to Increase and Decrease Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2015-2016 School Year Action
15.24 (Item #24) Recommended Action for Classified Personnel Action
15.25 (Item #25) Classified Personnel: Request to Increase/Decrease Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2014/15 and 2015/16 School Year Action
15.26 (Item #26) Minutes for the Board of Education Meeting held on February 9, 2015 Action
15.27 (Item #27) Minutes for the Board of Education Meeting held on February 23, 2015 Action
15.28 (Item #28) Minutes for the Board of Education Meeting held on March 2, 2015 Action
16.0 Consent Items Pulled for Discussion

17.0 Communications
17.1 District Organizations Info

18.0 Public Comment
18.1 Public Comment Info

19.0 Business/Action Item
19.1 Financial and Operational Memorandum of Understanding and Supplemental Charter Agreement Between the Mt. Diablo Unified School District (“District”) and The Eagle Peak Montessori Charter School (“EPMS”) Action
19.2 Public presentation of the Initial Proposal for the Contract Reopener for California School Employees Association (CSEA) and Mt. Diablo Unified School District Info/Action
19.3 Approve Updated Application for Funding to Include Title III, Part A, Immigrant Funds Action
19.4 Reclassification of EL Students with Moderate/Severe Disabilities Info/Action
19.5 Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act Funds for 2015-2016. Action
19.6 Request ratification of submission by Mt. Diablo Adult Education of its annual application for Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA): Workforce Investment Act (WIA), Title II, Section 231 and the English Literacy and Civics Education (EL Civics) supplemental funding for 2015-2016. Action
19.7 Reclassification of Management Positions Action
19.8 Award of Service Contract to Skyline Engineering for Assessment and Design of 2010 Measure C, Modernization Group 1, Roofing Renovations at Various sites. Action
19.9 Final Change Order 1682-001 to Home Tech Remodeling, Inc. for Bid#1682 – Building E Window Replacement at College Park High School. Action
19.10 Notice of Completion for Bid #1682: Building E Window Replacement at College Park High School Action
19.11 Final Change Order 1627-001 (DEDUCTIVE) to Taber Construction, Inc. for Lease/Leaseback #1627 – Security System Replacement. Action
19.12 Notice of Completion for Lease Leaseback #1627: Security System Upgrades at Various Sites Action

19.13 Meeting Extension Action

19.14 Execution of Documents Action

20.0 Future Agenda Items
20.1 Future Agenda Items Info

21.0 Closed Session
21.1 Items not completed during the first Closed Session will be carried over to this Closed Session. Action

22.0 Reconvene Open Session
22.1 Reconvene Open Session and Report Out Info”

I am surprised the board is not voting on the proposal to issue the remaining $77 million in Measure C Bond Funds, which it discussed during a special March 9 study session.

Of note is the planned retirement of Assistant Superintendent for Middle Schools Rose Lock, Director of Adult Education Joanne Durkee and School Support Administrator Marie Schirmer, who is a former longtime principal.

How do you think the loss of Lock, Durkee and Schirmer will affect the district next year?

Posted on Monday, March 23rd, 2015
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 37 Comments »

Miramonte HS student reporter talks about her nude Dropox story

A Miramonte High student journalist’s tenacity recently led police to shut down a Dropbox website full of photos of nude and scantily clad Lamorinda girls and young women.

Sofia Ruiz, the 15-year-old sophomore who in January wrote an explosive opinion piece in The Mirador about boys uploading photos to the site, explained to me Friday why she wrote the story, called “Lamorinda Nudes Dropbox Must Come Down.”

“It was pretty common knowledge around school,” she said. “Everyone just kind of talked about it, but no one really addressed it as an issue.”

Sofia, on the other hand, wanted to address it head-on.

“I didn’t like the idea of it,” she said. “When I first heard about it, I thought it couldn’t be true. But everyone was talking about it, and it was (true).”

This realization unleashed a strong reaction in Sofia.

“It’s just not fair and not OK,” she said. “And it highlights a bigger problem in society — that girls are being treated like objects — and that’s not fair at all. Something has to change. And if I can do anything to help that, I’d like to.”

I pointed out that she already has done something to change that.

“I hope so,” she said. “From your article, I understand that Moraga police got it shut down. More than anything, I just hope that this issue sparks a conversation among adults and students and they really talk about this because it’s not just happening here; it’s happening all over.”

Ultimately, Sofia said teenagers need to change the way they feel about the “objectification of girls.”
“You need to treat women and girls with the respect they deserve, and that’s not what’s happening,” she said. “I think it’s more of a societal question.”

Sofia said she wasn’t sure whether the girls who provided nude photos of themselves to boys were thinking about the effect that could have on boys’ attitudes toward women.

“But I definitely think it’s an overarching theme in everyone’s life — that boys think it’s OK to do this to girls, and when it happens to girls no one really wants to go out of their way to change it,” she said. “It’s like that’s just the way it is.”

In her opinion piece, Sofia said boys who uploaded the photos were the “main problem.”

“Boys must respect girls that trust them enough to send intimate photos,” she wrote. “When a guy uploads a picture a girl has sent him, he is breaking the trust she placed in him and shows a lack of empathy and morals. If someone trusts you, respect that.”

Her story urged those who created the site to take it down but also suggested that law enforcement should intervene to remedy the problem.

Adults may have not known about the site, she said Friday, because of a “disconnect between students and adults.”

School and Acalanes district officials have started trying to have the kinds of conversations Sofia was hoping for, in part through “digital citizenship” training.

Acalanes district Superintendent John Nickerson said he wants students to understand what is appropriate and what is not so they don’t knowingly or unknowingly commit crimes.

“This is a horrible thing, and people shouldn’t be doing it,” he said. “Digital citizenship is the new frontier of how we interact with people using digital media responsibly.”

Journalism teacher Melissa Quiter said she has learned since Sofia’s story was published that many teens regard the sharing of nude photos as common practice.

“Unfortunately, this is a generally accepted behavior among teenagers,” she said. “And as adults, we need to address it and figure out how to help them.”

Orinda Police Chief Mark Nagel and Moraga Police Lt. Jon King said their departments are trying to work with schools and the community to create a greater awareness of cybersecurity and cyberbullying.

“In this day and age of smartphones,” Nagel said, “we don’t know — is there another Dropbox account going on? I have no idea. You just never know. And until we know, we can’t act.”

Do you think teens will change their behavior?

Posted on Monday, March 16th, 2015
Under: Education, Lamorinda | 3 Comments »

Student protest at De Anza High stirs debate over West Contra Costa school board’s decision not to retain law academy teacher

"Law Academy students at De Anza High protest "

A protest last week at De Anza High in the West Contra Costa school district over the board’s decision not to renew Law Academy teacher Tahitia Dean’s contract prompted the following response from the district:

“WCCUSD is committed to recruiting and retaining the best teachers for our students. California law provides that new teachers have a two-year probationary period. During that time, teachers are evaluated and must meet the California Standards for the Teaching Profession, which include six dimensions of professional service. Teachers may excel at some components of professional practices while needing to develop in others. Students and parents may observe many, but not all, aspects of these professional standards whereas principals must evaluate all of them. The probationary period is designed to reinforce teachers in their areas of strengths and support teachers in areas where they fall short of the standards. If, however, they are not meeting all of the standards by March 15 of the second year of probation, the District, at the recommendation of the principal, issues a notice of non-re-election for the following year.

While we value and respect the opinions of our students and parents, the ultimate responsibility for evaluating teachers lies with the principal and the District. The District does not and cannot legally review staff performance in public or share the specific reasons that particular teachers are not recommended for tenure, which is awarded at the end of the second year. The process is thorough, comprehensive and aligned with all of the California teaching standards. The District requires principals to non-re-elect teachers when, in the judgment of the principal, teachers do not meet all components of those six standards. Throughout the District, 16 teachers from various schools have received notice of non-re-election for the 2015-16 school year. While the timing, coming so early in the year, is unfortunate, it is essential that the District hold high standards for professional practice in all six areas before conferring tenured status to teachers.”

Here is a link to more information about the teaching standards: http://www.ctc.ca.gov/educator-prep/standards/CSTP-2009.pdf

But some students and parents question whether there may be other factors contributing to the principal’s decision not to recommend Dean for tenure.

Here is a letter to the school board from one De Anza HS parent outlining her concerns about the process for dismissing Dean, which I am posting below, with her permission

“Sent: Sunday, March 15, 2015 8:02 PM
Subject: Issues at DeAnza High School

Dear Board Members,

I am writing you based on the assumption that you have never been fully informed on events pertinent to the renewal of Miss Dean’s contract at De Anza High School. I have to believe this to be true as it is the only viable explanation as to why you did not at the very least review Miss Dean’s case before rubber stamping Principal Evan’s recommendation. I will keep this email as brief as possible. Please give me the benefit of the doubt as I am giving you the benefit of the doubt, read this entire email and trust that any details given are pertinent.

Also, please know that although I am writing to you as a singular person, my views are shared by many parents and students at De Anza, as witnessed by our protest last Monday. Also know that the events I am going to detail for you regarding Miss Dean have moved this from a plea to renew one exceptional teachers contract, to a movement to change what we have found as a system that allows for an abuse of power with no accountability for those who are making recommendations to the board regarding probationary teachers employment.

In order to paint the entire picture I need to go back to April of last year. Miss Dean and Miss Rivera accompanied 8 children on a trip to Washington DC and New York during spring break. My daughter Madelyn, a junior at the time, was the only child to participate who was not in the law academy. As such, I did not know anything about Miss Dean. When I picked up Madelyn and another child from the airport they informed me that two girls on the trip were rude and disrespectful most of the trip. Miss Dean and Miss Rivera disciplined these children who then called their parents to complain about it. Those parents in turn sent threatening texts to the two teachers. They then went to the district, fabricated stories about Miss Dean and began a campaign of lies with the express intent of getting her fired. I was informed by my daughter that Miss Dean was escorted off of campus the Monday after school resumed. Tuesday, I had a meeting with Mr. Evans. He told me that the matter was completely out of his hands and in those of the district. He assured me that he was interviewing all 8 children. When I asked if he would be giving my statement and theirs to the district he assured me he would. After a week or so of hearing nothing form Mr Evans or the district, I began soliciting the district for answers but getting none. I and a few others continued to put pressure on the district. A month or so after Miss Dean was escorted off the school grounds she returned to class. I assumed everyone had come to their senses, but learned she was back only until the end of the school year as her contract had not been renewed. I believed the district knew we would assume she was going to be back the following year and never imagined that we would find out otherwise.

Mr. Evans continued to assert he had no influence on the decision not to bring Miss Dean back. So we had a meeting with Adam Taylor. Mr. Evans chose not to attend. After about a half hour expressing our very strong opinions about the situation, Mr Taylor informed us that in fact, it was not the district, but the sight managers decision. Mr. Evans decision. He was brought in and asked why he lied to us for nearly two months about his role in Miss Deans employment. We were never answered. As disturbing as that was, it was equally disturbing that Mr. Taylor claimed that the allegations against Miss Dean by these two sets of parents were being investigated. However the district never reached out to any of the other parents or the students that were on the trip. Nor did they reach out to Miss Rivera. Mr. Taylor was suppose to get back to us on how that could be so, but never did so. Miss Dean was offered her job back about a half an hour after that meeting ended. Never imagining in my wildest dreams that less than a year later, I would once again be forced to fight for her job, which in essence is our children’s access to one of the best teachers at De Anza, I let both Mr. Evans and Mr. Taylor off the hook and went on with my life.

So less than a year later we find ourselves here. I am assuming you do know the details surrounding controversy of the children’s emails to Nancy Schiff the director of The Center for Youth Development. You do know that many parents and students believe Mr. Evans decision not to renew her contract is retaliation for those emails. I am not going to assume that you know about a meeting that parents, students and Miss Dean held Friday night February 27th which about 100 people attended including and unexpectedly Mr. Evans and Mr. Taylor. Parents spoke about Miss Deans positive effect on their children. The children spoke about the impact Miss Dean has had on their lives. Some crying and bringing parents to tears in the process.

It was after this meeting that Adam Taylor told us we needed to attend the school board meeting on 3/4. He also informed the parents that what we thought really did not matter and we should have the kids speak. Many of us are very curious as to whether or not it is a district policy that our voices do not matter, or just his policy. The children expressed fear of retaliation if they were to speak at this meeting. Mr. Taylor then turned to Mr. Evans and instructed him not to retaliate. A directive that certainly adds credibility to the belief that there was in fact retaliation to the letters written to Ms. Schiff.

Now here is what I believe based on the incidents that occurred last year in conjunction with those that occurred this year. In addition to some political power plays, I believe there is a personality conflict between Mr. Evans and Miss Dean. I believe that Mr. Evans has decided to put his own self interests ahead of the students of De Anza and get rid of what he perceives as a thorn in his side. I believe he never intended to bring her back. I believe that anyone in the district who knows or suspects this to be true is derelict in their obligations to the students and parents of De Anza and are complicit in letting this happen. I believe Adam Taylor is one of those persons, and if he is not giving you the entire story, his continued employment at the district should be questioned.

Furthermore, it seems the criteria for evaluating whether or not a teachers contract is renewed is subjective. So maybe that criteria should be reevaluated. Or better yet, how about reevaluating whether or not the person interpreting criteria is capable of putting aside his personal aspirations and feelings and is capable of doing what is best for the children. If any teacher present or future is able to increase their students grades from D’s and F’s to A’s and B’s and has community support but still do not have their contract renewed by the principal and the district, then I can only conclude that there is a systemic problem within the district.

Here is what I want to see happen. I believe I am speaking for many of us involved:

Revisit the renewal of Miss Deans contract.
Find out why the allegations against last year were never investigated.
Form a committee of parents and district representatives to come up with a procedure where parents and students voices will be heard before important decisions that effect their children’s education will be made, and where teachers can come without fear of retaliation.
Investigate whether or not there were other instances of the pushing out of good teachers at all WCCS high schools.

In closing I will tell you that as a tax payer and a parent, I expect to be taken seriously. When I went to bat for Miss Dean last year, I had no skin in this game. My daughter was not in the law academy and her eduction was not going to be effected personally. But I knew what was happening was wrong. Mr. Evans and Mr. Taylor can attest to the fact that I am tenacious when I perceive that there is a wrong to be righted. I will inform you now that I do have skin in this game. My son will be attending De Anza next year as a freshman. Before hearing those students speak at the meeting I was going to let him decide what academy he would be in. Now I have made the decision that it will be the law academy if Miss Dean is teaching. So I am not about to let this go. I am hopeful that now that you have the facts, you will attempt to regain our trust.

Thank you,
Pamela Fields”

It’s my understanding that Fields, other parents and some students may speak during public comment about this at Wednesday’s board meeting.

How do you think the school district should respond to the concerns being raised by students and parents?

Posted on Monday, March 16th, 2015
Under: Education, Richmond, West Contra Costa school district | 3 Comments »

MDUSD holds study session on $77 million bond issuance

The Mt. Diablo school board is meeting tonight to discuss issuing the remaining $77 million in 2010 Measure C funds. Here is the agenda:

“TYPE: Study Session
DATE: 3/9/2015 TIME: 6:30 PM CODE:
LOCATION: School District Board Room-1936 Carlotta Drive, Co

1.0 Call to Order
1.1 President Will Call the Meeting to Order Info

1.2 Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call Info

2.0 Public Comment
2.1 The public may address the Board regarding any item within the jurisdiction of the Board of Education of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. These presentations are limited to three minutes each, or a total of thirty minutes for all speakers, or the three minute limit may be shortened. Speakers are not allowed to yield their time. Info

3.0 Study Session
3.1 Study Session to Discuss Future Bond Sales Info

4.0 Adjournment
4.1 Adjourn Meeting Action”

Here is the agenda report:

“Study Session to consider potential future resolution authorizing Issuance and Sale of General Obligation Bonds, 2010 Election, 2010 Series F. Aggregate Principal Amount not to Exceed Seventy-Seven Million Dollars as authorized by the June 8, 2010 bond election. The proceeds of the bonds would be used to fund capital improvements/modernization work as previously deemed by the Board of Education to be essential to the maintenance and improvement of educational programming. Work includes, but is not limited to: Classroom technology improvements, roof replacements, restroom renovations, and kitchen improvements (Priority 1 projects).

Funding:
Fiscal Impact : No impact to the General Fund. All costs of a future bond sale would be paid from monies raised through the sale of the bonds.

Recommendation: Study Session”

Here is the PowerPoint: http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/d747325e-678f-428a-89a1-c7f4dc4829ee.pdf

Unfortunately, it does not appear that the study session will be videotaped or archived.

What do you think of the proposal to sell the remaining $77 million in bonds in time for the 2015-16 building season?

Posted on Monday, March 9th, 2015
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 112 Comments »

MDUSD board tonight to vote on summer school intervention, Eagle Peak charter MOU, review special ed transportation handbook

The Mt. Diablo school board will meet at 7 p.m. tonight in the district office at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord. Some items of interest include summer school intervention and high school credit recovery, an MOU with the Eagle Peak Montessori charter school and a review of a special ed transportation handbook.

Here is the agenda:

“1.0 Call to Order
1.1 Board President Will Call The Meeting To Order at 6:00pm Info
2.0 Public Comment
2.1 Public Comment Info
3.0 Announcements

3.1 In Closed Session, the Board will consider the items listed on the Closed Session Agenda Info
4.0 Closed Session Agenda
4.1 (Item #1) Admission of Student #B-15 into the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Action
4.2 (Item #2) Negotiations – The Board may discuss negotiations or provide direction to its representatives regarding represented employees, pursuant to EERA (Govt. Code Section 3549.1) Agency negotiator: Deborah Cooksey, Agency: MDSPA Info/Action
4.3 (Item #3) Anticipated Litigation – Conference with Legal Counsel pursuant to Gov’t. Code Sec. 54956.9(b), Significant Exposure to Litigation: 2 cases Info/Action
5.0 Adjourn to Closed Session at 6:00 p.m.
5.1 Adjourn to Closed Session at 6:00 p.m. Action

6.0 Reconvene Open Session
6.1 Reconvene to Open Session at 7:00 p.m. Info

7.0 Preliminary Business
7.1 Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call Info

8.0 Report Out Action Taken in Closed Session
8.1 (Item #1) Admission of Student #B-15 into the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Action
8.2 (Item #2) Negotiations – The Board may discuss negotia3ions or provide direction to its representatives regarding represented employees, pursuant to EERA (Govt. Code Section 3549.1) Agency negotiator: Deborah Cooksey, Agency: MDSPA Info/Action
8.3 (Item #3) Anticipated Litigation – Conference with Legal Counsel pursuant to Gov’t. Code Sec. 54956.9(b), Significant Exposure to Litigation: 3 cases Info/Action

9.0 Recognitions and Resolutions
9.1 Recognition of the MDUSD 2014-2015 Teacher of the Year Nominees and Finalists. Recognition of the MDUSD 2014-2015 Teachers of the Year for the Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year 2015-2016 Program. Info

9.2 California Adult Schools Week – March 22-28, 2015. Action

10.0 Board Member Reports
10.1 Board Member Reports Info

11.0 Superintendent’s Report
11.1 Superintendent’s Report Info

12.0 Reports/Information
12.1 School Spotlight: Adult Education Info

13.0 Consent Agenda Action
13.1 (Item #1) 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. Action
13.2 (Item #2) Contract between the YMCA at Camp Arroyo and Meadow Homes Elementary Action
13.3 (Item #3) Contract between University Corporation Camp SEA Lab and Westwood Elementary Action
13.4 (Item #4) Mt. Diablo High School’s FAME Academy trip to Los Angeles April 6 – April 9, 2015 Action
13.5 (Item #5) Increase to the Contract for Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) to Provide Temporary One-to-One Assistants for Students Served by the CCCOE Special Education Programs during the 2014-2015 School Year. Action
13.6 (Item #6) Increase to Master Contract with Non-Public Agency Progressus Therapy for the 2014-15 School Year Action
13.7 (Item #7) Independent Service Agreement between MDUSD and G. Wayne Oetken & Associates Action
13.8 (Item #8) Adjustments to Position Control for the 2015-16 School Year Action
13.9 (Item #9) Request to Increase and Decrease Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2014-2015 School Year Action
13.10 (Item #10) Recommended Action for Certificated Personnel Action

14.0 Consent Items Pulled for Discussion

15.0 Communications
15.1 District Organizations – At regular Board meetings, a single spokesperson of each recognized district organization may make a brief presentation following the Consent Agenda. Items are limited to those which are informational. Info

16.0 Public Comment
16.1 Public Comment Info

17.0 Business/Action Item
17.1 2015 Summer School Intervention for grades 1, 5, 8 and High School Credit Recovery: Extended School Year, Title I Summer Program and District Summer Program Info/Action

17.2 Appointment of Summer School Administrators Action

17.3 Contract Between Mt. Diablo Unified School District and AVID for Implementation at College Park High School, Mt. Diablo High School, El Dorado Middle School, Oak Grove Middle School and District Leadership Info/Action

17.4 2015-16 School Calendar Action

17.5 PULLED BY STAFF: Financial and Operational Memorandum of Understanding and Supplemental Charter Agreement Between the Mt. Diablo Unified School District (“District”) and The Eagle Peak Montessori Charter School (“EPMS”) Action

17.6 Chabot Las Positas Community College District Inter-Agency Agreement with Mt. Diablo Adult Education and related MOUs with Pittsburg, Liberty, and West Contra Costa Adult Education. Action

17.7 Second Interim Report Action

17.8 Create Job Description for Administrator-Assessment, Research and Evaluation Action

17.9 Request to Increase and Decrease Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2014-2015 School Year. Action

17.10 Updated Cellular Phone Allowance Action

17.11 Review of Special Education Transportation Parent Handbook Info

17.12 Revised Job Description for Transportation Services Coordinator Info/Action

17.13 Membership Recommendation of Mr. John Parker as mandated taxpayer organization representative for the 2010 Measure C Citizens Bond Oversight Committee Action

17.14 Membership Recommendation for Mr. Todd Silva to serve on the 2010 Measure C Citizens Bond Oversight Committee. Action

17.15 Award of Service Contract to PHd Architects for Design of 2010 Measure C, Group 1, Restroom Renovations at Various Sites Action

17.16 Lozano Smith Legal Services Contract Action

17.17 Meeting Extension Action

17.18 Execution of Documents Action

18.0 Future Agenda Items
18.1 Future Agenda Items Info

19.0 Closed Session
19.1 Items not completed during the first Closed Session will be carried over to this Closed Session. Action
20.0 Reconvene Open Session
20.1 Reconvene Open Session and Report Out Info

21.0 Adjournment
21.1 Adjourn Meeting Action”

What items most interest you?

Posted on Monday, March 2nd, 2015
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 44 Comments »