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Uniform Complaint Against CHS for allegedly charging illegal fees

Sally Smith, a lawyer and a San Diego Unifed School District resident, has filed three Uniform Complaints in MDUSD – against Concord, College Park and Ygnacio Valley high schools – alleging that students are being asked to pay fees illegally. She has given me permission to post each of her complaints.

Here is her complaint against Concord HS:

“From: Smith Family
To: “”
Cc: “” ; “” ; “” ; “”
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 3:17 PM
Subject: Uniform Complaint: Concord High School caps and gowns, bowling class, field trip

Mt Diablo Unified School District
Concord High School 4200 Concord Blvd., Concord, CA 94521
(925) 687-2030 Phone
Dear Principal Dr. Gary McAdam :

My uniform complaint is 4 illegal student fees which students had to pay at Concord High School:

1. caps and gowns – which the court declared is an integral part of the educational experience for public school students
Cap & Gown and Announcement orders!!!

Orders for caps & gowns and graduation announcements will be on Thursday, January 16th & Friday, January 17th during brunch & lunch in the Quad. These are the only order days so all Seniors must place their graduation order at this time.


DATE: October 4, 2013
TO: County and District Superintendents Charter School Administrators
FROM: Jeannie Oropeza, Deputy Superintendent
Services for Administration, Finance, Technology, and Infrastructure
SUBJECT: Pupil Fees, Deposits, and Other Charges: Cap and Gown for High School Graduation Ceremony
Questions have arisen recently as to whether a district can require students to purchase or pay for a cap and gown if wearing a cap and gown is a condition of participation in a graduation ceremony. This memo is intended to augment Fiscal Management Advisory 12-02, dated April 24, 2013, Pupil Fees, Deposits, and Other Charges, Section III, “Fees Not Allowed.”
In Sands v. Morongo Unified Sch. Dist., 53 Cal. 3d 863, 873-874 (1991), cert. denied, 505 U.S. 1218 (1992), the California Supreme Court found that the high school graduation ceremony is “an integral part of the educational process” because it recognizes cumulative academic achievement. Therefore, the graduation ceremony is an “educational activity,” pursuant to EC Section 49010(a), as to which a pupil fee cannot be charged.
In the CDE’s view, EC Section 38119 only authorizes districts to rent caps and gowns from a supplier and provide them free of charge to students. Therefore, a cap and gown fee is not “otherwise allowed by law.” EC Section 49011(e).
For these reasons, a district may not require students to purchase a cap and gown as a condition of participating in the graduation ceremony. The CDE recommends that a district that requires students to wear a cap and gown at the ceremony inform students that: (1) the district will provide caps and gowns for graduating seniors for use during the ceremony, and (2) students also have the option to purchase an appropriate cap and gown from a vendor. No student should be required to self-identify as indigent in order to receive a cap and gown from the district.
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California Department of Education
1430 N Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Contact Us | FAQ | Web Policy
Last Reviewed: Friday, October 04, 2013

2. bowling class

The teacher is blatantly violating the law. He has a college education and he is obligated to follow the law but he clearly chooses not to do so by taking money he is not entitled to take from students. He tries to hide the illegal fee by having students pay the bowling alley directly. He has violated

Education Code 44805. Every teacher in the public schools shall enforce the course
of study, the use of legally authorized textbooks, and the rules and
regulations prescribed for schools.
He has made students pay for the course so indigent children are excluded. An impoverished student whose family does not have the money to pay the fee
will not enroll in the course no matter how much he or she wants to participate. The teacher doesn’t care. He wants his class and demands students fees so he can teacher the class.

Course Description:
Bowling is two 18-weeks course open to all Junior and Senior students. This class meets Monday’s &Thursday’s at Clayton Valley Bowl.
The schedule will be as follows: 3rd period will start at 10:20 A.M. Class will be released at 12:05 P.M. Wednesday students will meet at Concord High during regular school hours. Please see Mr. Kilcoyne for a make-up slip. Missed work must be completed within two weeks of excused absents. Please have rides taken care of and pay attention to times and dates. To enroll, students will need parental permission to provide their own transportation and donate $90.00 at the first class session. The donation must be paid within the first week of class. The donation for this class will be refunded if we do not have 100% participation. Enrollment in this class requires total commitment. All sessions must be attended. Work, sports conditioning, practice, or games cannot interfere with class, without prior arrangements and teacher approval. The hours must be obtained to receive the PE credit.

It was not a donation. It was a fee for a service in return. A donation must be voluntary, for any amount or none at all and no student should be identified for the amount he or she contributed in anyway to include no contribution. That is making children feel like deadbeats who did not contribute
their fairshare. Here is the IRS definition of donation:

Although the term “contribution” is not defined either in the Code or in the
Income Tax Regulations, it is well established judicially that in order to be
deductible under section 170 of the Code, a contribution must qualify as a gift in
the common law sense of being a voluntary transfer of property without
consideration. To the extent a transferor receives or can expect to receive, for the
money or property he or she transfers, a financial or economic benefit, as
distinguished from the incidental benefit that inures to a donor as a member of the
general public, then no deduction under section 170 is allowable. Singer v. United
States, 449 F. 2d 413 (Ct., Cl. 1971); Rev. Rul. 67-246, 1967-2 C.B. 104 Rev. Rul.
76-185, 1976-1 C.B. 60

Here is FCMAT information.$1372

Can a teacher tell students that they must raise funds for their classroom?

Question: If there is a teacher that is teaching an AP class and he wants his students to do a fundraiser to raise money for that class with the money going towards buying materials, such as a projector or even to help pay for the AP tests?
Response: Although Education Code section 48932 allows the governing board to authorize student body organizations to conduct fund raising activities, students should participate and make contributions to fund raising events voluntarily. In addition to the fact that students cannot be required to participate in fund raising events (by teachers or any other party), they also cannot be excluded from an activity because they did not participate in raising the funds (i.e. not participate in a class or activity). In this situation, it can be perceived that the students are being asked to fundraise so that the teacher can have class supplies. It can also be perceived that if the student did not fundraise, the AP class would not exist or the student could not be in the AP class. This is not the intent of ASB fundraisers.
Students can use the proceeds from fundraising to purchase goods and services that promote the general welfare, morale and educational experiences of the students. AP tests, although optional, are normally considered a district responsibility. That is especially true in this case as the question relates to an AP class, which means that AP tests are a direct result of the class and not an “extra” over and beyond what the district should supply. Projectors for a class can be allowable in some cases, but if the projector is only used in that specific class as a means of teaching curriculum, and is not used outside of the classroom at all in other extra curricular events, it might also be viewed as a district requirement. There is often a fine line between what the district should provide and what an “extra” is that the district would not normally provide in order to teach the curriculum of that class. Sometimes that can vary from district to district based on what is normally supplied to classrooms regardless of the subject.
As you can tell, there are a lot of things to consider when both fundraising and spending ASB funds. After looking at these guidelines, hopefully such questions in the future will be easier for you to answer.
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KCSOSEd-DataAudit AppealsEd-JoinCDECCSESAC

3. Grad Night Field Trip for seniors.

These people are collecting money from students of which they are not a charity which I checked the California Attorney General website and found this:

CONCORD HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC BOOSTERS 130220 Charity Delinquent CONCORD CA Charity Registration Charity
CONCORD HIGH SCHOOL CHOIR BOOSTERS, INC. CT0204335 Charity Current CONCORD CA Charity Registration Charity

However, it is a school fundraising group under the control of the administrators and the seniors are an identifiable group but only those who pay can go. That’s real easy for the adults just to collect the money but shifting the collection of fees to the parents is still not legal. Students have been excluded
from this wonderful school experience. They cannot claim it is separate from the school because it is clearly only for Concord seniros and the aprents are given full access to the students by the school. It is a school field trip and fees have been charged blatantly. A record was kept of each students and how much money was collected.
Grad Night
Grad Night is a parent-sponsored fun, safe and sober activity that occurs immediately following graduation. Tickets are available now for $75 until October 31st (payments made after October will increase by $25 each month with a maximum cap amount of $150). Permission slips are available in the CHS main office at Student Services.
Permission slips and checks may be made payable to CHS Grad Night and can be returned in a sealed envelope with Grad Night written on the front to the Grad Night Box in the school office or mailed to:
Kim Kruse
4621 Wilson Lane
Concord, CA 94521
The next Grad Night meeting will be November 5th at 7:00 pm at 1779 Thornwood Drive. Parents of all grades are welcome to attend. For more information, please contact Kim Kruse at

Fiscal Report
Copyright © 2010 School Services of California, Inc.
Volume 30 For Publication Date: March 26, 2010 No. 6
Ask SSC . . . What About the Students Who Didn’t Help with the Fundraising Efforts for the Field Trip?
Q. Every year near the end of the school year, our school’s 8thgrade class takes a trip to a theme park. The trip is optional for the students, and all fees are absorbed by the money generated through fundraising by the interested students. If a student wants to attend, but did not participate in the fundraising, can the district stop that student from attending the trip?
A. Education Code Section 35330(b)(1) is the provision of law that states the following:
No pupil shall be prevented from making the field trip or excursion because of lack of sufficient funds. To this end, the governing board shall coordinate efforts of community service groups to supply funds for pupils in need.
(2) No group shall be authorized to take a field trip or excursion authorized by this section if a pupil who is a member of an identifiable group will be excluded from participation in the field trip or excursion because of lack of sufficient funds.
The Code views the students who did not take part in the fundraising efforts, regardless of the circumstances, to be a member of the identifiable group.
The 2009 edition of the Associated Student Body Accounting Manual & Desk Reference by the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) comments further on the provision of law by adding “. . . nor may a student be left behind for failing or refusing to participate in fund-raisers.” FCMAT’s manual is considered by the school finance community to be a solid source of good business practices and sound, practical advice for the complex environment of student body operations.
This implies that districts should not stop the student from participating in the trip to the theme park. Furthermore, the school has an obligation to find alternative sources to support the student in order for him or her to go on the field trip.
Can we ask parents to contribute to field trip costs and tell them it is non-refundable if their child doesn’t attend?

Question: My question concerns refunding parents for field trips their children do not end up going on. We ask parents to help by contributing toward the cost of field trips (play tickets, ferry tickets, etc.) and many of these are non-refundable expenses since we have to purchase tickets, etc. ahead of time. Is it correct/legal for us to state when asking parents to contribute that the field trip cost is non-refundable. In the past, we have refunded the cost to parents of students not attending but it ends up being very costly when you have 5 out of 20 students sick on the day of the field trip and cannot use the pre-paid tickets.
Response: As you know, there are few allowable fees that can be charged to students and their families. The State Board of Education has made it clear that fees are not to be charged except where specifically authorized by law. This understanding, or regulation, is based on the authority in Article IX, Section 5 of the California Constitution. Fees for field trips and excursions may be charged in connection with courses of instruction or school related social, educational, cultural, athletic, or school band activities based on Education Code section 35330. But, no pupil shall be prevented from making the field trip or excursion because of lack of sufficient funds or because they refused to participate in fund-raisers dedicated to the field trip.
Stating to parents that they cannot be refunded if their student does not attend is something you will have to ask your legal counsel about, as we believe you may have issues if you begin doing this. Because you cannot tell a student they cannot attend if they don’t have funds, the reverse may apply (if their student ends up not going why they should not get their money back that they didn’t have to pay in the first place?). Be careful if you begin doing this and ask your attorney!!

If a student raises more money than the individual student goal, can he benefit from the extra money?

Question: Our Junior students sent out letters for parents/friends to sponsor them on the Junior College tour trip, with a goal of $200.00. One student collected $85.00 more. The question is: Do those dollars stay in the Junior trip account, or can they be transferred to that specific student’s expenses on an upcoming golf trip? Can it be refunded in cash to that student?

Response: When fundraising occurs for a field trip or any school sponsored activity, there are a couple of basic rules in place. One is that the fundraising must be voluntary. A student cannot be forced to fundraise, and must not be disallowed from attending the activity just because they did not fundraise. Another basic rule is that the fundraising that occurs is to benefit the entire trip/class/group of students, not individual students. So the student who collected $85 more than the goal, does not directly benefit from the amount he collected, even the initial goal of $200. All of the money raised from each student goes into the same account, and all of the juniors attending the trip will benefit from the total amount collected, regardless of whether they fundraised or not.


SECTION 35330-35332

35330. (a) The governing board of a school district or the county
superintendent of schools of a county may:
(1) Conduct field trips or excursions in connection with courses
of instruction or school-related social, educational, cultural,
athletic, or school band activities to and from places in the state,
any other state, the District of Columbia, or a foreign country for
pupils enrolled in elementary or secondary schools. A field trip or
excursion to and from a foreign country may be permitted to
familiarize students with the language, history, geography, natural
sciences, and other studies relative to the district’s course of
study for pupils.
(2) Engage instructors, supervisors, and other personnel to
contribute their services over and above the normal period for which
they are employed by the district, if necessary, and provide
equipment and supplies for the field trip or excursion.
(3) Transport by use of district equipment, contract to provide
transportation, or arrange transportation by the use of other
equipment, of pupils, instructors, supervisors or other personnel to
and from places in the state, another state, the District of
Columbia, or a foreign country where those excursions and field trips
are being conducted, provided that, when district equipment is used,
the governing board shall secure liability insurance, and if travel
is to and from a foreign country, liability insurance shall be
secured from a carrier licensed to transact insurance business in the
foreign country.
(4) Provide supervision of pupils involved in field trips or
excursions by certificated employees of the district.
(b) (1) No pupil shall be prevented from making the field trip or
excursion because of lack of sufficient funds. To this end, the
governing board shall coordinate efforts of community service groups
to supply funds for pupils in need.
(2) No group shall be authorized to take a field trip or excursion
authorized by this section if a pupil who is a member of an
identifiable group will be excluded from participation in the field
trip or excursion because of lack of sufficient funds.
(3) No expenses of pupils participating in a field trip or
excursion to other state, the District of Columbia, or a foreign
country authorized by this section shall be paid with school district
funds. Expenses of instructors, chaperones, and other personnel
participating in a field trip or excursion authorized by this section
may be paid from school district funds, and the school district may
pay from school district funds all incidental expenses for the use of
school district equipment during a field trip or excursion
authorized by this section.
(c) (1) The attendance or participation of a pupil in a field trip
or excursion authorized by this section shall be considered
attendance for the purpose of crediting attendance for apportionments
from the State School Fund in the fiscal year. Credited attendance
resulting from a field trip or excursion shall be limited to the
amount of attendance that would have accrued had the pupils not been
engaged in the field trip or excursion.
(2) Credited attendance shall not exceed 10 schooldays except in
the case of pupils participating in a field trip or excursion in
connection with courses of instruction, or school-related educational
activities, and which are not social, cultural, athletic, or school
band activities.
(d) All persons making the field trip or excursion shall be deemed
to have waived all claims against the district, a charter school, or
the State of California for injury, accident, illness, or death
occurring during or by reason of the field trip or excursion. All
adults taking out-of-state field trips or excursions and all parents
or guardians of pupils taking out-of-state field trips or excursions
shall sign a statement waiving all claims.
No transportation allowances shall be made by the Superintendent
for expenses incurred with respect to field trips or excursions that
have an out-of-state destination. A school district that transports
pupils, teachers, or other employees of the district in schoolbuses
within the state and to destinations within the state, pursuant to
the provisions of this section, shall report to the Superintendent on
forms prescribed by him or her the total mileage of schoolbuses used
in connection with educational excursions. In computing the
allowance to a school district for regular transportation there shall
be deducted from that allowance an amount equal to the depreciation
of schoolbuses used for the transportation in accordance with rules
and regulations adopted by the Superintendent.

4. fees charged for lost or damaged educational materials – school failed to inform students that they may volunteer in lieu of paying money
The school extorts money from students because they cannot graduate if they do not pay the fines and they are not told of their legal right to work volunteer time instead The students want very much to participate and get their diploma which they earned with their hard work in courses so they have paid.

48904. (a) (1) Notwithstanding Section 1714.1 of the
Civil Code,
the parent or guardian of any minor whose willful misconduct results
in injury or death to any pupil or any person employed by, or
volunteer services for, a school district or private
school or who willfully cuts, defaces, or otherwise injures in any
way any property, real or personal, belonging to a school district or
private school, or personal property of any school employee, shall

be liable for all damages so caused by the minor. The liability of
the parent or guardian shall not exceed ten thousand dollars
($10,000). The parent or guardian shall also be liable for the
amount of any reward not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000)

pursuant to Section 53069.5 of the Government Code. The parent
or guardian of a minor shall be liable to a school district or
private school for all property belonging to the school district or
private school loaned to the minor and not returned upon demand of an

employee of the district or private school authorized to make the
(2) The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall compute an
adjustment of the liability limits prescribed by this subdivision at

a rate equivalent to the percentage change in the Implicit Price

Deflator for State and Local Government Purchases of Goods and
Services for the United States, as published by the United States
Department of Commerce for the 12-month period ending in the third
quarter of the prior fiscal year.

(b) (1) Any school district or private school whose real or
personal property has been willfully cut, defaced, or otherwise
or whose property is loaned to a pupil and willfully not
returned upon demand of an employee of the district or private school
authorized to make the demand may, after affording the pupil his or
her due process rights, withhold the grades, diploma, and transcripts

of the pupil responsible for the damage until the pupil or the pupil’
s parent or guardian has paid for the damages thereto, as provided in
subdivision (a).
(2) The school district or private school shall notify the parent

or guardian of the pupil in writing of the pupil’s alleged misconduct
before withholding the pupil’s grades, diploma, or transcripts
pursuant to this subdivision. When the minor and parent are unable
to pay for the damages, or to return the property, the school

district or private school shall provide a program of voluntary work
for the minor in lieu of the payment of monetary damages. Upon
completion of the voluntary work, the
grades, diploma, and
transcripts of the pupil shall be released.

I request that the money is returned to the students from whom adults took the money in violation
of the free public education right. Thank you. Sally Smith”

Do you agree with Smith’s allegations?

Posted on Monday, May 5th, 2014
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 4 Comments »

Congrats to 46 East Bay California Distinguished Elementary Schools!

California Distinguished School Certificate received by Hanna Ranch Elementary in 2012

California Distinguished School Certificate received by Hanna Ranch Elementary in 2012

Congratulations to the nearly 50 elementary campuses in the East Bay that have been named 2014 California Distinguished Schools!

State Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson announced this week that 22 Alameda County schools and two dozen Contra Costa County schools are among 424 elementary campuses statewide designated as distinguished, based on innovative strategies for narrowing the achievement gap.

“I applaud these strong, thriving schools that are making such impressive strides in preparing their students for continued success,” Torlakson said in a prepared statement. “This award is well-deserved by these school communities for their enduring dedication to high standards, hard work, and unwavering support.”
Here is a list of East Bay 2014 California Distinguished Schools by county and district.


Alameda Unified: Edison Elementary

Dublin Unified: Harold William Kolb Elementary (also award for Exemplary Physical Activity and Nutrition Program)

Fremont Unified: Ardenwood, Fred E. Weibel, James Leitch, John Gomes, Joshua Chadbourne, Mission San Jose, Mission Valley and Niles elementary schools

New Haven Unified: Pioneer Elementary

Newark Unified: James L. Bunker and John F. Kennedy elementary schools

Oakland Unified: Achieve Academy, Montclair Elementary and Think College Now

Pleasanton Unified: Donlon, Henry P. Mohr, Phoebe Apperson Hearst, Vintage Hills and Walnut Grove elementary schools

Sunol Glen Unified: Sunol Glen Elementary


Lafayette Elementary: Lafayette Elementary

Mt. Diablo Unified: Mt. Diablo, Sequoia, Silverwood, Strandwood, Valle Verde and Walnut Acres elementary schools

Orinda Union: Del Rey, Glorietta, Sleepy Hollow and Wagner Ranch elementary schools

San Ramon Valley Unified: Bollinger Canyon, Coyote Creek, Golden View, Greenbrook, Hidden Hills, John Baldwin, Live Oak, Neil A. Armstrong, Rancho Romero, Sycamore Valley, Tassajara Hills and Vista Grande elementary schools

Walnut Creek School District: Walnut Heights Elementary

The “signature practices” that helped earn these schools their recognition will be posted online later this year. Signature practices of past campuses named as California Distinguished Schools are at

Each school is visited by a team of local educators to see how the signature practice have been implemented. In Contra Costa County, a team of 19 educators from the Contra Costa County Office of Education, along with 18 school district administrators and four retired district administrators visited the sites, according to a news release.

Greg Santiago, principal of Hanna Ranch Elementary in Hercules, was one of the district administrators on the site visits. Hanna Ranch was one of two West Contra Costa district elementary sites named as California Distinguished Schools in 2012.

Its signature practices were analyzing test data to provide extra support to low-performing students and trying to close the achievement gap between high-achieving Asian and Filipino students and lower-achieving African-American and Latino students by using culturally relevant teaching methods.

One such teaching methods is “call and response,” which allows students to chant responses to teachers’ prompts instead of raising their hands to be acknowledged. In reading the signature practices, it is clear that the principal keeps the staff, students and parents focused on them.

The school’s description of signature practices states: “The principal’s message about academics is simple, ‘You may not get it the first time, but you never give up!” Santiago heads up a school equity team, which walks through classrooms with a checklist that includes these questions: “Are students engaged? Are they participating? Is there bell-to-bell instruction?”

I met Santiago last month during a ride-along with Hercules School Resource Officer Greg Sanchez, who told me when we arrived: “This principal has got it down.”

What are the signature practices at your school?

Posted on Friday, May 2nd, 2014
Under: Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Education, Mt. Diablo school district, West Contra Costa school district | 2 Comments »

MDUSD board to hear proposal to create a Northgate district

Here is the agenda for tonight’s MDUSD board meeting now in progress at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord. You can watch it live at

“1.0 Call to Order
1.1 President will call the meeting to order Info
2.0 Announcements
2.1 In closed session, the Board will consider the items listed on the closed session agenda. Info
3.0 Public Comment
3.1 The public may address the Board concerning items that are scheduled for discussion during closed session only. 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
4.0 Adjourn to Closed Session at 6:00 p.m.
5.0 Closed Session Agenda
5.1 Negotiations – The Board may discuss negotiations or provide direction to its representatives regarding represented employees, pursuant to EERA (Govt. Code Section 3549.1) Agency negotiators: Julie Braun Martin and Deborah Cooksey, Agencies: MDEA, CSEA, Local One M&O, Local One CST, MDSPA, and Supervisory. Info/Action
5.2 Discipline, Dismissal or Release of Public Employee Action
5.3 Conference with Legal Counsel – Anticipated Litigation (Gov. Code Sec. 54956.9(b) Significant Exposure to Litigation: 2 cases Info/Action
5.4 Conference with Negotiators – Unrepresented Employees – Diablo Managers Association. Negotiators: Dr. Nellie Meyer and Larry Schoenke, Interim General Counsel Info/Action
6.0 Reconvene Open Session
6.1 Reconvene Open Session at 7:30 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 Negotiations – The Board may discuss negotiations or provide direction to its representatives regarding represented employees, pursuant to EERA (Govt. Code Section 3549.1) Agency negotiators: Julie Braun Martin and Deborah Cooksey, Agencies: MDEA, CSEA, Local One M&O, Local One CST, MDSPA, and Supervisory. Info/Action
8.2 Discipline, Dismissal or Release of Public Employee Action
8.3 Conference with Legal Counsel – Anticipated Litigation (Gov. Code Sec. 54956.9(b) Significant Exposure to Litigation: 2 cases Info/Action
8.4 Conference with Negotiators – Unrepresented Employees – Diablo Managers Association. Negotiators: Dr. Nellie Meyer and Larry Schoenke, Interim General Counsel Info/Action
9.0 Recognitions and Resolutions
9.1 Appreciation for Service to Board Presidency Info
10.0 Board Member Reports
10.1 Board Reports Info
11.0 Superintendent’s Report
11.1 Superintendent’s Report Info
12.0 Reports/Information
12.1 Mt. Diablo High School Seniors “Sugar Smart” 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) Recommended Action for Certificated Personnel Action
13.3 (Item #3) 17.11 Approval of Provisional Internship Permit (PIP) Request. Action
13.4 (Item #4) Recommended Action for Classified Employees Action
13.5 (Item #5) Classified Personnel: Request to Increase and Decrease Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 School Year Action
13.6 (Item #6) Approve contract with Sunbelt Staffing to provide a Teacher of the Visually Impaired for the 2013-2014 school year. Action
13.7 (Item #7) Approve contract with Exploring New Horizons (ENH) for El Monte Elementary School Outdoor Ed Program Action
13.8 (Item #8) Approval to increase Silver Spur Outdoor Ed Contracts with Highlands Elementary and Wren Ave Elementary Schools Action
13.9 (Item #9) Approve 2013-2014 Interagency Agreement #29-513-15 between Mt. Diablo USD and Contra Costa County Mental Health Services Division Action
13.10 (Item #10) Approve 2013-2014 Interagency Agreement #28-325-4 between Mt. Diablo USD and Contra Costa County Mental Health Services Division Action
13.11 (Item #11) Approve 2013-2014 Interagency Agreement #74-371-5 between Mt. Diablo USD and Contra Costa County Mental Health Services Division Action
13.12 (Item #12) Approve submission of the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Grant. Action
13.13 (Item #13) Approve submission of the Farm to School grant. Action
13.14 (Item #14) Williams Quarterly Summary Report Action
13.15 (Item #15) Approve Contract Amendment Number Ten to Capital Engineering Consultants, Inc. Action
13.16 (Item #16) Award Design Services Contract to PHd Architects, Inc. for Building E Window Replacement at College Park High School Action
13.17 (Item #17) Award of Independent Services Contract to Enviro-S.T.A.R. for the Oversight of Hazardous Materials Abatement/Removal related to Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning Renovations at Various Sites. Action
13.18 (Item #18) Award Project Inspector Contract to MWC & Associates to support Clayton Valley Charter High School Athletic Facility Improvements project. Action
13.19 (Item #19) Award Professional Services Contract to Capital Engineering Consultants, Inc. for auditing, planning and engineering services required by California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39). Action
13.20 (Item #20) Minutes for the Special Board of Education Meeting held on October 7, 2013 Action
13.21 (Item #21) Minutes for the Board of Education Meeting held on September 25, 2013 Action
14.0 Consent Items Pulled for Discussion
15.0 Public Comment
15.1 The public may address the Board regarding any item within the jurisdiction of the Board of Education of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District that is not on this agenda. These presentation are limited to three minutes each, or a total of thirty minutes for all speakers, or the three minute limit may be shortened. If there are multiple speakers on any one subject, the public comment period may be moved to the end of the meeting. Speakers are not allowed to yield their time. Info
16.0 Communications
16.1 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
17.0 Business/Action Items
17.1 Opportunity for public response to the Sunshine Reopener from Local One, Clerical, Secretarial & Technical (CST) Unit. Info
17.2 Create Job Description for Technology Customer Help Desk Technician II Action
17.3 Revise Job Description for Attendance/Student Records Coordinator Action
17.4 Reclassification of Classified Positions in the California School Employees Association (CSEA) Unit Action
17.5 Reclassification of Classified Positions in the Local One, Clerical, Secretarial, Technical (CST) Unit Action
17.6 Reclassification of Classified Positions in the Teamsters, Maintenance, Operations, and Facilities/Transportation/Landscape/Warehouse/Food and Nutrition Services/Technology and Information Services/Substitute Custodian and School Bus Driver Unit (M&O) Action
17.7 Implement Staff’s Recommendation to Decrease the Number of Certificated Employees Due to a Reduction or Elimination of Particular Kinds of Service Action
17.8 Request authorization to submit the 2014-2017 Technology Plan to the California Department of Education Info
17.9 Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act Funds for 2014-2015. Action
17.10 Meeting Extension Action
17.11 3D Modeling Course of Study Info
17.12 Adoption of “Pre-Calculus” Course of Study Info
17.13 Request to Approve Equipment Grant Application for Nutrition Services Action
17.14 Minutes for the Board of Education Meeting held on April 9, 2014 Action
17.15 Minutes for the Special Board of Education Meeting held on March 5, 2014 Action
17.16 Draft Report to the Board of Education concerning Bay Point Master Planning Info
17.17 Proposal from Parent Organization Info/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 Info
21.0 Adjournment
21.1 Adjourn Meeting Info”

Do you agree with the proposal to divide the district?

Posted on Wednesday, April 30th, 2014
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 66 Comments »

Schools mark the 75th anniversary of The Grapes of Wrath

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Northgate students were encouraged to post this photo to Instagram to mark the 75th anniversary of Grapes of Wrath

Northgate students were encouraged to post this photo to Instagram to mark the 75th anniversary of Grapes of Wrath

To mark the 75h anniversary of the publication of The Grapes of Wrath today, schools throughout the state are participating in a variety of activities as part of the California Teachers Association’s “California Reads” program of teacher-recommended books for students of all ages.

The epic struggles of the Joad family in John Steinbeck’s novel are being rediscovered and honored in classrooms, theaters and lecture halls today, this month and throughout the year, according to a CTA news release.

Northgate High English teacher Daniel Reynolds has taught the book for nine years to his high school juniors in the Mt. Diablo school district.

“The ‘Grapes of Wrath’ is relevant to students today because the struggles of the Joad family, and of all the families dispossessed by the Depression, are the struggles of millions of people today,” Reynolds said in a prepared statement. “Steinbeck reminds us that people want to work, they want to provide for their families, they want a little piece of land they can call their own, an education for their kids, they want to be healthy, and ultimately they want all these same things for everyone else too. Students feel a lot of this already, but struggle to put their feelings into words. The ‘Grapes of Wrath’ helps them do that.”

Reynolds’ students at Northgate High in Walnut Creek will participate in a variety of activities during lunch today. Projects include a 75-foot multimedia timeline based on events in the book, an interactive social media experience designed by Reynolds, an Instagram scavenger hunt related to the novel, a student’s website documenting what other classmates are doing to honor the book, square-dancing instruction in the gym, birthday cake, outfits created by students similar to what the characters wore, and an art show with music.

The book tells the story of the Joad family’s migration from their farm in Oklahoma to California, where they were exploited and forced to work for starvation wages by unscrupulous growers. Reynolds said the book shows the power of working together against great and menacing odds.

“The ‘Grapes of Wrath’ evokes the American themes and progressive ideals of collective action and reasoned dissent,” Reynolds said, “and reminds us that we all do better when we all do better.”

In Fremont, American High School English teacher Deborah Thorsen recently finished teaching the book for a fifth time to her junior students.

“I tell my students that this is the kind of book that can change the way you look at the world,” she said. “It tells them that they have a chance to change the world. It shows them that society isn’t nice. They come away from the book with a sense of injustices, but wanting to do something about it.”

The book, which won a Pulitzer Prize, is on the California Department of Education’s recommended literature list. It has sparked numerous teacher lesson plans, both in high schools and colleges.

The Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies at San Jose State University houses extensive archives — including “Grapes of Wrath” manuscripts and first editions –- on the fifth floor of the Martin Luther King Jr. main library downtown, next to SJSU. The campus plans a Wednesday stage production of the novel, immediately followed by a discussion with Steinbeck scholar Susan Shillinglaw, who teaches English at the university and will speak about her new book, “On Reading the Grapes of Wrath.” An opera based on the novel will be performed May 9 and 11.

APRIL 1 UPDATE: I visited the Northgate campus after school Monday and saw some of the signs Reynolds had posted to get students thinking about themes in the book.

One sign asked: “When someone warns you about the negative consequences of an action, do you stay away (and learn from their warning), or do you do it anyway (and learn from doing things for yourself — even if that means taking negative consequences?”

Reynolds said afterward that he considered the day a success.

“The idea was to have a celebratory nature, encouraging the students to think about the quotes,” he said. “All over campus during lunch and most of the day it was everywhere for people to see.”

Do you think “The Grapes of Wrath” is relevant today?

Posted on Monday, April 14th, 2014
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Walnut Creek | 2 Comments »

Concord police chief and MDUSD teacher express support for mandated reporting bill

Earlier this week, Concord Police Chief Guy Swanger and Mt. Diablo school district teacher Anita Johnson spoke in support of AB 2560, which is related to mandated child abuse reporting, at an Assembly Education Committee hearing.

The bill, proposed by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, would require all teachers to read a statement and attest that they understand their responsibilities to report suspected child abuse to Child Protective Services or law enforcement when they apply for and renew their credentials.

“In my district and cities throughout California, there have been cases of unreported student physical and sexual abuse,” Bonilla told the committee, which is headed up by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo. “There’s been a growing trend where mandated reporters have reported suspected child abuse only to school administration and not to law enforcement or Child Protective Services.”

Johnson discussed three instances in which children might have been better protected if teachers had reported their suspicions to police. In one, Johnson said a teacher noticed that her student came to school with bruises the day after calling a parent to discuss missing homework.

When the principal found out, he reprimanded the teacher for calling the parent, saying he knew that would happen, Johnson said. When asked if he would report the incident to Child Protective Services, the principal said that was not the appropriate thing to do because the agency might remove the child from the home and put her in the “system,” which would be far worse than where she was.

In another incident, when a middle school teacher told a student she was going to call his father because he hadn’t turned in an assignment, the boy said, “Don’t tell me Dad. He’ll beat the crap out of me.”

The boy seemed truly frightened, Johnson said. Yet, the principal told the teacher it wouldn’t be right to report this to authorities, because parents have the right to reprimand their children.

“My final example is the situation from my own district, Mt. Diablo Unified, in which many teachers at a particular school reported to their administrator that they felt there were odd things happening in a certain classroom and that the teacher had made some weird comments about young boys,” Johnson said. “The administrator assured these teachers that she would investigate.”

Yet, it wasn’t until the boys themselves accused that teacher of molestation that the teacher was removed from the classroom, Johnson said.

“The bottom line,”Johnson said, “is to make sure teachers know they are responsible for reporting to an outside agency and not their administrator.”

She said teachers want to do the right thing and reminders are always good.

Swanger, who worked in the San Diego police department before coming to Concord about three years ago, expressed strong support for the bill.

“It’s a time-tested formula that some form of in-service training and/or ongoing communication is the key to compliance,” he said. “And I believe that there is no more important law that we should require 100 percent compliance (with) than following the mandatory reporting law.”

He said these laws are violated when a person working in the school system who suspects abuse does not completely understand or know their legal requirements.

“They believe notifying a supervisor, a principal or a peer meets their requirement,” he said. “And worse, that supervisor or peer does not understand their legal requirements.”

Although the mandating reporting law has been on the books for 29 years, Swanger said it’s evident by the large number of cases involving failure to report, particularly in districts where he has served, that the law is not sufficient. He said some teachers have received little or no training regarding the law, while others are told they must report suspected abuse to an administrator.

“The most troubling scenario that some of them have shared with me,” he said, “is that the worst failures occur when the offender works in the system.”

Here is a link to the committee testimony, along with more information about the bills on the agenda that day:

Do you support AB2560?

Posted on Saturday, April 12th, 2014
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 3 Comments »

YVHS presents “Legally Blonde” this weekend and next weekend!

Members of YVHS Legally Blonde cast join De La Salle and Carondelet Legally Blonde cast members on YVHS stage after show.

Members of YVHS Legally Blonde cast join De La Salle and Carondelet Legally Blonde cast members on YVHS stage after show.

Ygnacio Valley High invites the community to come to its production of “Legally Blonde” this weekend and next weekend. Kelly Cooper, the school’s Performing Arts Chairwoman and Dance Director, is trying to get the word out about a show she says shouldn’t be missed!

“This is our most ambitious musical to date, with a ton of music, a huge 38 person cast, 8 person backstage crew, and literally 116 costume changes,” she wrote in an e-mail. “Parents and students have worked over the weekends to build outstanding sets (our wings are exploding!!) and we have put together a cast and a musical we are proud to present to you and to the community.”

The show opens today at 7:30 p.m. and continues at 2 p.m. Saturday at Ygnacio Valley High, 755 Oak Grove Road in Concord. It will continue at 7:30 p.m. Friday April 11 and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

“Legally Blonde is based on the movie of the same name, but a ton of hilarious scenes and great songs that will get stuck in your head for days (trust me on that one),” Cooper wrote. “A musical without an audience is a tragedy (pun intended) and WE NEED YOU!!”

Tickets for evening shows are $8 for students and $12 for adults, while tickets for matinee shows are $5 and $8.

“Come support this completely self funded program and (see) these VERY talented and supremely dedicated students shine,” Cooper says.

Here’s a list of some of the key roles played student stars, along with their grade levels:

Elle Woods- McKenna Duncan (11)
Warner Huntington III- Matt Boer (12)
Emmett Forrest- Devin Rader (12)
Vivienne Kensington- Rory Tank (12)
Brooke Wyndham-Danielle Tortolani (12)
Serena- Kayla Samuels
Pilar-Rhyndyl Sardina
Margot- Maddie King
Paulette- Aaliyah Minor

Here’s a link to a flyer for the show:

Let us know what you think of the show!

April 8 update: Please note that I have added a photo to this blog post of the Legally Blonde cast members from DeLaSalle and Carondolet’s production who came to see YVHS’s Legally Blonde show last Saturday night posing together on stage!

Posted on Friday, April 4th, 2014
Under: Mt. Diablo school district | No Comments »

MDUSD logs documents related to teacher molestation arrest withheld from Bay Area News Group’s Public Records Act request

The Mt. Diablo school district’s attorney has responded to a court order to produce logs of documents being withheld from Bay Area News Group’s Public Records Act request seeking “Any and all writings pertaining to Mt. Diablo Unified School District teacher Joseph Andrew Martin, 45, relating to allegations of wrongdoing (including inappropriate behavior with students), complaints, investigations, findings, discipline meted out or other action taken against Mr. Martin during his tenure at the district…”

Martin was placed on administrative leave in April and was subsequently arrested and charged with 150 counts of molestation involving 14 former students while he taught at the Concord campus. His trial has been postponed until May.

The district provided Bay Area News Group, or BANG, with two notices related to the court order.

The first is a Notice of filing, which includes a short list of two documents the district is withholding from Bay Area News Group that are not protected by attorney-client privilege:

It lists two e-mails from the district’s associate general counsel Deborah Cooksey to Concord Police Detective Tamara Roberts, which discussed criminal charges against Martin. The district claims several privileges that it argues entitle it to withhold the documents from the public, including official information, pending investigation, confidential information, attorney work product privilege and deliberative process privilege.

In its discussion of the documents, the district states that the e-mails contain information regarding an “unfinal personnel decision by the district’s legal counsel.”

“If the district is required to disclose this information, it will commit the district to premature personnel decision and expose the district’s legal counsel investigatory process,” the district argues.

“Said communication also evidences the legal counsel’s work product and impressions. Further, said document may potentially be excluded from the definition of a public record,” according to the district.

It concludes by arguing that the e-mails reveal the district and legal counsel’s “investigatory efforts both as to allegations of wrongdoing and on confidential personnel decisions,” which it argues are expressly excluded from disclosure.

The second item provided to BANG is a Notice of Lodging Privilege Log, which states that a confidential privilege log of documents protected from disclosure due to attorney-client or attorney-work product privilege has been lodged with the court: It does not include Exhibit A, which is the list of documents being withheld.

Interestingly, the district did not list the letter that was sent home to Woodside Elementary parents when Martin was placed on his leave of absence. It is difficult to imagine how that letter could be construed to be subject to attorney-client privilege or attorney-client work product.

Do you agree with the district’s decision to list only two e-mails as potentially responsive to BANG’s Public Records Act request and to keep the list of “confidential privilege” documents provided to the court secret?

Posted on Friday, April 4th, 2014
Under: Mt. Diablo school district | 77 Comments »

MDUSD board to meet tonight with Concord City Council

The Mt. Diablo school board will hold a joint meeting tonight with the Concord City Council to discuss issues of mutual interest.

The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. in the district office board room at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord. The public is invited to comment on items on the agenda, which include:

A Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) presentation by MDUSD Superintendent Dr. Nellie Meyer.

An oral presentation regarding the Family Justice Center by Concord Police Chief Guy Swanger.

An information exchange between the school board and city council including updates on items of mutual interest and a discussion of partnerships and other areas of cooperation. Discussion items may include: district enrollment, student achievement, Common Core State Standards, development and educational opportunities for high school students, school/community safety, shared fields, updates on current and planned improvement projects, MDEA Second Annual Academy Awards and the communication between the district and city council. No formal action will be taken.

Here is a link to the agenda, which didn’t show up on the district’s web site home page until today:

Because the media was not notified in advance of this meeting, I was unaware of it until this morning, so was unable to inform the public about it in today’s Contra Costa Times.

Other items of interest that could be discussed include Clayton Valley High’s expansion plans and De La Salle’s planned middle school academy in Concord.

Do you believe the district adequately informed the community about this meeting?

Posted on Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014
Under: Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 12 Comments »

Northgate HS music student seeks support for Eagle Scout project refurbishing music stands for Foothill Middle School

A Northgate HS senior is seeking donations for his Eagle Scout project to refurbish instrumental music stands at Foothill MS in Walnut Creek. Here is his statement asking for community support:

“I’m Matthew Assily, a senior at Northgate High School. I have been involved in instrumental music in the Mount Diablo Unified School District since fourth grade, and am heavily involved in the music program at Northgate.

I am also a Life Scout in Boy Scout Troop 494. For my Eagle Scout project, I am refurbishing the music stands at Foothill Middle School, which includes painting them and stenciling ‘FMS’ onto them for ease of use in the future. In order to carry out this refurbishment, I need to raise funds for tools and supplies.

If you are so inclined, I am looking for voluntary donations of between $5 and $10 to go towards the paint and the safety equipment required for the project. Donations can be sent to Matthew Assily, c/o John Assily, 3240 Stone Valley Road West, Alamo, CA 94507 and checks can be made out to Matthew Assily. I will send you a receipt for your donation. Any funds raised beyond the required money for the project will be given to the Foothill Middle School Instrumental Music program.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at Thank you so much for your contribution and for supporting instrumental music in the Mount Diablo Unified School District!”

Here is a video clip of Assily (second from left) playing “Almost Tango” by Gianfranco Gioia with his classmates Eric Nakanishi, Massimius Watson and Ben Lugten:

Posted on Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Music | No Comments »

How much sugar does your family eat?

The nation’s reliance on fast foods and prepackaged items loaded with added sugar causes tooth decay, obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, says Dr. Robert Lustig, a childhood obesity expert at UC San Francisco.

One great way to overcome this problem is to teach America’s children how to cook healthy meals from scratch. In addition, Lustig wants to build public pressure on the food industry and government leaders to cut down on unhealthy food additives to improve everyone’s well-being.

He has teamed up with the American Heart Association and Walnut Creek chef Cindy Gershen, who also teaches at Mt. Diablo High in Concord, to get the message out to parents and the general public that major changes are needed in Americans’ diets. The World Health Organization and American Heart Association agree that added sugar should only make up 5 percent of a person’s total calories each day, which amounts to 4 teaspoons of added sugar for kids, 6 teaspoons for women or 9 teaspoons for men, he said.

“In America today, we’re at 17 percent,” Lustig said, as he watched Gershen’s students cooking healthy meals with salmon, pork loin, tofu and chicken earlier this week during a Bay Bridge Cook with Heart Challenge alongside students from Galileo High in San Francisco. “So, this is a reduction by two-thirds.”

Cutting back so drastically will be a huge challenge in this country, where 77 percent of all foods sold in grocery stores include added sugar, Lustig said. Even more alarming, he said, is the amount of sugar added to foods given to schoolchildren through breakfast and lunch programs.

About one-quarter of American kids eat school breakfasts, he said. For some, a typical breakfast could include a bowl of sugary cereal and a glass of orange juice — totaling 11 teaspoons of sugar — or 7 teaspoons more than the recommended amount for the entire day.

The reason Americans are consuming too much sugar is simple, Lustig says.

“The food industry makes money by selling crappy food,” he said. “The federal government lets them, but then the federal government has to pay for the downstream negative effects of that.”

For example, the government spends $245 billion a year on diabetes, he said. And it spends $200 billion a year fighting dementia, which he said has been associated with high-sugar diets.

Instead, Lustig says the government could make money by fixing the food so that it wouldn’t have to pay later for health problems caused by sugar. The reason this isn’t happening, Lustig alleges, is that 338 of 535 members of Congress take money from the food industry.

Until there is enough public outcry, Lustig says, nothing will change, even though the economic arguments alone justify the reductions he recommends. But more importantly, he says, children and their communities would benefit from healthier diets.

“When kids eat real food, they’re thinner, smarter and their behavior problems are better,” he said. “One-third of Americans don’t know how to cook. We can’t fix this until they do.”

Lustig and Gershen advocate bringing back home economics programs to high schools so that students can learn the nutritional guidelines and skills necessary to be healthier. Gershen’s students said they have changed their own diets and the foods eaten in their homes as a result of the education and hands-on cooking experiences they have received.

“It’s important to know what to put in your body,” said Maria Aguirre, 17, a junior at Mt. Diablo High. “At home, when you see what your mom makes, you say, ‘Mom, how much did you put in it?’ We have sugar at school. But, we also use honey.”

After the San Francisco competition ended, 16-year-old Shelby Cooper snacked on a plate of peas.

“It’s a healthier snack than a bag of chips and I’m more full,” she said. “I feel guilty if I eat chips.”

Carissa Urbina, a 17-year-old junior at Mt. Diablo High, said she enjoyed the salmon and vegetables they cooked.

“It gives me a lot of energy throughout my day as I’ve been eating this food,” she said. “And I don’t feel guilty.”

Here are some video clips from the Cook with a Heart event:

Students talk about meals they cooked:


Comments from Lustig and others:

Do you think schools should teach students how to cook healthy meals?

Posted on Friday, March 21st, 2014
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 1 Comment »