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Pleasant Hill Education initiative hosts Wednesday Career Night at College Park High

The Pleasant Hill Education Initiative will present a Career Night for College Park High students Wednesday at the school.

The free event is from 6:30-8 p.m. in the multi-use room at 201 Viking Drive in Pleasant Hill.

Professionals in the engineering, manufacturing, construction and architecture industries will discuss the education and training needed to work in their fields.

More information is available at

Do you think this event should be open to students from other schools, including middle schools in Pleasant Hill?

Posted on Tuesday, November 19th, 2013
Under: Education, Martinez school district, Pleasant Hill | 3 Comments »

Pleasant Hill mayor wants more community involvement in MDUSD schools

Every week, Pleasant Hill City Manager June Catalano provides the Mayor and City Council with a “weekly update,” which is posted on the city’s website.

Last week, the first item in the update was related to Mayor Michael Harris’ new Education Initiative, announced at his Feb. 7 Mayor’s Breakfast.

Here’s what Catalano wrote:

“Pleasant Hill Education Initiative – The Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce hosted the ‘Mayor’s Breakfast’ event on Thursday, February 7th during which Mayor Michael Harris launched a new program: The Pleasant Hill Education Initiative. The intention of The Initiative is to establish a community-wide volunteer effort to enhance the quality of education for students in Pleasant Hill. The Initiative would include programs such as mentoring and tutoring students, volunteering in schools, career counseling, job shadowing, community teaching labs and afterschool enrichment programs. Mayor Harris is seeking to form a Steering Committee to plan and oversee The Initiative. This committee would be comprised of representatives from various organizations including City Commissions, the Pleasant Hill (PH) Recreation Park District, Mt. Diablo Unified School District, PH Library, Foundation for PH Education, PH Chamber of Commerce, Construction Trades, and the PH Community Foundation.

Those interested in being on the Steering Committee or wishing to be a volunteer in the program can sign up online at For more information on The Initiative, contact Martin Nelis at”

Here is a news story by Pleasant Hill reporter Lisa P. White about the breakfast and education initiative:

It says that the district superintendent and principals of Pleasant Hill schools support the initiative. However, to my knowledge, this hasn’t been publicly discussed at a school board meeting.

How do you think Harris’ initiative could affect K-12 district schools?

Posted on Monday, February 11th, 2013
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Pleasant Hill | 80 Comments »

MDUSD reassures parents about school safety in wake of the Connecticut shootings and anonymous phone threat at Sequoia Middle School

Northgate High students remembered victims the week after horrible shooting in Connecticut.

The horrific shooting that left 27 dead in Newton, Conn. last Friday has prompted many school and state leaders to reassure parents and the public about safety procedures in local schools.

Mt. Diablo school Superintendent Steven Lawrence sent an automated message to parents Friday informing them that district schools would review their safety plans and ensure that classroom doors are locked during the day:

Three days later, the district’s safety plans were put to the test, when Sequoia Middle School in Pleasant Hill received an anonymous call at 10 a.m. Monday from someone who said: “You’re next.”

Both Sequoia Middle School and Sequoia Elementary, which is next door on Boyd Road, immediately went into lockdown, along with the elementary campus day care center. Pleasant Hill police responded and the superintendent came to the site, where no threat was found. The lockdown was lifted around 10:30 a.m.

Here is the message sent to Sequoia Elementary parents by Principal David Franklin:

Early this evening, Lawrence sent out the following automated message to all parents in the district about the incident:

Karen Booth, president of Sequoia Middle School’s Parent Faculty Club, said she felt anxious after hearing about the threat and kept looking at the clock every half-hour because she wanted to pick up her kids, who are in the sixth and eighth grades. But, she said the superintendent’s message Friday was reassuring, especially since many parents don’t know their schools have safety plans.

“I like to think that cooler heads prevail when people are feeling anxious and upset,” she said. “I want to be one of those cooler heads and I feel like I need to model that for my kids.”

Today at Northgate High in Walnut Creek, the school community honored the memory of students killed in Connecticut with this message: “Remember Sandy Hook Elementary.”

Here is a link to guidance for teachers and parents to help children cope with national tragedies from the National Association of School Psychologists:

Do you believe your students are safe at local schools?

Posted on Monday, December 17th, 2012
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Pleasant Hill | 18 Comments »

Pleasant Hill Middle School student approached by suspicious man

Pleasant Hill Middle School Principal Terry McCormick sent the following message to families Monday, regarding an incident involving a man approaching a female student:

“Dear Families of Pleasant Hill Middle School,

This is Ms. McCormick, principal. This morning around 7:35 in the location of Patterson and Oak Park, by the Safeway, an 8th grade female student was approached by an older male adult on foot. The adult first asked directions and then proceeded to ask more personal questions of the student including age, name, school, address, and whether she had a boyfriend. The student felt uncomfortable and immediately proceeded to school. The male did not attempt to touch or pursue her.

The suspect is described as a Latino male, possibly 40, with a strong accent. He is approximately 5’6”, average built, brown eyes, a mustache, and kinky short black hair. He was wearing a black hooded zip up sweat shirt, blue jeans, and black shoes.

The police have been notified and are pursuing all leads. Students will be notified through a school wide announcement before dismissal.

Please use this as an opportunity to talk to your child about being safe to and from school. Encourage them to walk in groups and always report any suspicious activity to the nearest adult.”

Are you concerned about such incidents?

Posted on Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Pleasant Hill | No Comments »

Pleasant Hill Education/Schools Advisory Commission to discuss CVHS charter and Northgate High on Wednesday

The Pleasant Hill Education/Schools Advisory Commission plans to discuss the Clayton Valley Charter High School in Concord, as well as Northgate High School in Walnut Creek, on Wednesday. Most students who live in Pleasant Hill, however, attend either College Park High in Pleasant Hill or Ygnacio Valley High in Concord.

Here is the agenda for the Wednesday meeting, which is open to the public:

To improve the quality of K-12 education in the city of Pleasant Hill by:
Acting as an advocate for issues and concerns of Pleasant Hill public schools with regard to the Mt. Diablo Unified School District.
Facilitating communication, cooperation, and partnership among Pleasant Hill schools, including providing a forum for discussing common issues, concerns, and activities.
Involving and informing the general Pleasant Hill community & the City Council about the activities and needs of Pleasant Hill’s schools, including acting as a clearinghouse for information and when appropriate, acting as a liaison with businesses, groups, and youth activities.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012
7:00 p.m.
Large Community Room, 100 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

Chair: Jenny Reik Vice Chair: Kelly St. Germain
Members: Barbara Anderson, Vivian Boyd, Tracy Ervin-Lowery, Mary Gray, Ian Greensides, Joann Jacobs, Jennifer Ortega, Carol Sprecher, Lesley Stiles, Linda Waters, Peter Wilson




The public is welcome to address the Commission on any item that is not on the agenda. Speakers have three (3) minutes to address the Commission.







 MDUSD Board Meetings
 Measure C Oversight Committee

11. COMMISSIONER SCHOOL ASSIGNMENTS AND SCHOOL REPORTS by Principals/Commissioners: (3 minutes per report)
 Gregory Gardens Elementary –
 Fair Oaks – Vivian Boyd
 Hidden Valley Elementary – Linda Waters
 Pleasant Hill Elementary – Mary Gray
 Sequoia Elementary – Carol Sprecher
 Strandwood Elementary – Barbara Anderson
 Valhalla Elementary – Peter Wilson
 Pleasant Hill Middle School –
 Sequoia Middle School – Tracy Ervin-Lowery
 Valley View Middle School – Jennifer Ortega
 College Park High School – Kelly St. Germain & Joann Jacobs




The Commission adjourns to a regular meeting of the Education/Schools Advisory Commission on February 22, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. in the Large Community Room, 100 Gregory Lane. For information, call Martin Nelis at 671-5229 or email”

Do you think other cities should form education/schools advisory commissions?

JAN. 24 UPDATE: I just received a call from Martin Nelis, the city of Pleasant Hill’s public information officer. He clarified that the commission has been following the charter issue routinely during its meetings and said the Northgate item has nothing to do with the charter.

He pointed out that the commission released a statement about the charter in December:

The commission has invited a Northgate rep to speak about quarterly feeder pattern meetings, he said.

Posted on Monday, January 23rd, 2012
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Pleasant Hill | No Comments »

Sequoia MS principal explains offensive newsletter graphic

On Friday, parents of Sequoia Middle School students received the school’s “TGIF” newsletter via email. The newsletter inadvertently included a very offensive graphic image that appeared to be an African-American character from the Peanuts comic strip with a noose around his neck.

Shortly after the newsletter was disseminated, parents received the following message from Principal Connie Cirimeli:

“Good evening. This is Connie Cirimeli, principal of Sequoia Middle School. I am reaching out to apologize to our school community for the inclusion of a graphic on our weekly TGIF newsletter that went out via email today. This graphic was attached in error and without my knowledge or consent. Please accept our sincere apology for any offense this has caused. I assure you that this graphic does not represent our school’s values. Thank you for your understanding.”

Cirimeli followed up with an explanation of what happened, in this message sent to parents about an hour ago:

“Dear Sequoia Community,

I hope that you all received my message on Friday regarding the graphic that was included in the TGIF newsletter.

Since sending out my apology, I have investigated further and was able to determine the source of the image as well as the series of errors which led to its distribution.

The image was taken back in 2008 when one of our school murals was vandalized. It was stored on a secretary’s computer and used as evidence during the police investigation of the crime. Friday, a substitute secretary was working on the newsletter during a busy afternoon and embedded the image without examining it closely enough to recognize its content. It is office protocol that any public distribution of information be proofread by a second employee and given to the Office Manager for final approval before publishing. Unfortunately, the substitute did not follow office protocol for proofing prior to publication and sent out the newsletter without any staff member’s knowledge. Appropriate personnel action will be taken for this infraction.

In response, we will be making procedural and security changes to prevent such travesties from happening again. Those changes will include the following:

1) Any digital evidence of a crime will be stored on a secured computer with administrator access only.

2) Substitute staff will not have access to SchoolMessenger, which will require all messages to be sent by an office staff member.

3) All publications will require the approval of an administrator prior to distribution.

I sincerely apologize for this grave error. I too am deeply disturbed and offended by this image.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Connie Cirimeli”

Are you satisfied with the actions taken to address the incident?

Posted on Sunday, December 18th, 2011
Under: Education, Pleasant Hill | 10 Comments »

Pleasant Hill police warn of strangers approaching students

By Theresa Harrington

The Pleasant Hill police are warning children to beware of strangers, after two incidents involving adults offering rides in their cars to students.

Principals of Pleasant Hill schools in the Mt. Diablo district also alerted parents today, said Connie Connie Cirimeli, principal of Sequoia Middle School.

The police released the following statement:

“CRIME/INCIDENT: Annoying a Minor 647.6 PC

DATE/TIME REPORTED: 09/15/10 0852 hours

LOCATION: Cleaveland Rd. near Mozden Ln.

CASE NUMBER: 10-3906

CONTACT: Investigations Division, 925 288-4630

SUSPECT(S): A white male adult, unknown age, tan skin, grey crew cut hair, speaks English with a heavy accent (unknown language).

SUSPECT VEHICLE: Blue or Turquoise Toyota Prius (unknown license plate), possibly with a white Taxi sign on top.

On 09-15-10 at around 0730 hours, an 11 yr. old boy was waiting for his school bus. At that time, he was approached by a car occupied by a male driver. The man asked the boy for his name repeatedly and asked if he wanted a ride. The boy refused and ran home. The suspect left the area in an unknown direction.”

A separate press release said the vehicle was “a blue or turquoise Toyota Prius occupied by a white male driver, unknown age, tan shirt, grey crew cut hair, speaks English with a heavy unknown type of accent.” It also said the man asked the boy if he would like to go to Paris.

Police also warned of “an unrelated incident, on 09-13-10 at around 1530 hours, two 13 yr. old boys were approached near the Pleasant Hill Middle School by four strangers in a vehicle. The back seat passenger of the vehicle asked the boys twice if they wanted a ride. The boys declined and the vehicle left the area. The involved subjects during that incident were four white males, all mid-40s and all with beards, driving in a green Jeep Cherokee (unknown license plate).

During both incidents, the suspects remained inside the vehicles.

There is no indication at this time that either incident involved attempted kidnapping.

This information is provided to raise public awareness and if anyone has information related to either incident they are encouraged to contact the Pleasant Hill Police Department Investigations Division 925-288-4630.”

Posted on Wednesday, September 15th, 2010
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Pleasant Hill | 2 Comments »

More Mt. Diablo principal interviews are underway

By Theresa Harrington
Two Mt. Diablo district administrators met with parents at Sequoia Middle School in Pleasant Hill yesterday to find out what kind of principal would suit the campus.
About 11 parents showed up, after teachers met with Rose Lock, assistant superintendent for Student Achievement and Support, and Julie Braun-Martin, assistant superintendent for personnel.
Parents said they want a principal who will continue the excellence at the school and support the teachers and staff the way former Principal Hellena Postrk did. Postrk has been promoted to a position in the district office, where she will coach other principals about how to improve their schools, Lock said.
One parent said she wasn’t aware Postrk had been promoted until she received a district message informing her about the parent meeting.
Braun-Martin explained that the district developed a spring eligibility pool of candidates for high school and middle school openings. The board appointed Bill Morones as principal of Ygnacio Valley High June 15, replacing Carolyn Plath, who retired.
The district first paper screens candidates and then forwards those they’re interested in to first round interviews, Braun-Martin said. These interviews include a parent representative, classified staff rep and teacher rep.
For Sequoia, parent club president Nancy Morgan is the rep who sat in on interviews Monday. Morgan said she is not allowed to discuss the interviews.
After the first round, some candidates are fowarded to a second round interview with Superintendent Steven Lawrence and other district office administrators, including Lock and Braun-Martin. Lawrence will be given the list of qualities Sequoia parents are looking for, Braun-Martin said.
If he believes he has a good match, he will forward a recommendation to the board in July. If not, the district could pursue another round of applicants and might seek an interim principal, who would most likely be a recently retired principal, Braun-Martin said.
Lock cautioned that the district is not looking for an exact replica of Sequoia’s most recent principals, including Postrk, Vivian Boyd and Jim Durflinger. Instead, the district will try to find someone who meets the “hopes and dreams” of parents and staff, she said.
One parent said she’d like a candidate who’s familiar with the district and community, as well as the special “Academics Plus” status of the magnet school, which attracts students from throughout the district. Another parent said she wants a principal who will advocate for Sequoia within the district, is transparent and able to make tough decisions.
The parent of an incoming seventh-grader said she’d like the new principal to be visible on campus and to maintain student safety as a high priority.
Morgan said she wants a principal with an “open door” policy, who is approachable and communicates well with students, parents, staff and the community. She also noted that the school is expected to accept more than 900 students in the fall, including some who request transfers from the district’s lowest-achieving schools (Glenbrook and Oak Grove middle schools in Concord), under the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Lock said both she and Braun-Martin have been in the district more than 20 years and that they understand Sequoia and will communicate its unique qualities to Lawrence and principal candidates.
Lock said she started her career in the district as vice principal of Sequoia Middle School. Braun-Martin said she was formerly principal of Monte Gardens Elementary, which feeds into Sequoia.
Braun-Martin assured parents that the district conducts background checks on all applicants who are seriously considered. She said the district invited internal candidates to apply for the openings at Glenbrook and Sequoia after the Glenbrook principal left and Postrk was promoted.
“We’re looking for the best person,” Lock said.
Principals must have an administrative credential, as well as administrative experience, Braun-Martin said. She does not give out information about the size of the candidate pool, she added.
If candidates are interested in both the Glenbrook and Sequoia openings, the interviews could be combined, she said.
The district is also conducting elementary principal interviews for openings at Mt. Diablo Elementary in Clayton, and Monte Gardens and Silverwood elementary schools in Concord. The board may hold a special meeting next week, if Lawrence decides to recommend one of the candidates recently interviewed.
Lock said Shore Acres Principal Kari Rees will stay at that school after all, because the state clarified its reform requirements, saying principals could remain if they have been at underperforming schools three years or less, instead of two years.
All administrators in the district were given their tentative fall assignments June 30, Lock said. Both Sequoia’s vice principal and student services coordinator are tentatively scheduled to return to the school, she said.
Lock told me after the meeting that she often conducts reference checks, but isn’t involved in background checks. She said the district always calls the candidate’s most recent supervisor during reference checks.
Lock confirmed that written applications ask candidates if they have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony and ask them to explain, if they have.
“Usually, when they indicate, ‘yes,’, we research that and investigate that,” Lock said.
She said she didn’t know if Christopher Nugent, who was unanimously appointed by the school board as principal of Mt. Diablo Elementary in Clayton last month, revealed his DUI conviction on his application. Nugent later withdrew his name from consideration, after reports surfaced about his DUI arrest, charges of resisting arrest, and his previous resignation from a Tennessee school district after he inadvertently posted student Social Security numbers online.
Nugent wasn’t convicted of resisting arrest and wasn’t prosecuted for the online student security breach.
Lock said she didn’t think Lawrence knew Nugent, since Nugent was from Elk Grove, which is outside Contra Costa County and quite distant from Lawrence’s previous district in West Sacramento.
“It’s not something you usually hide,” she said. “I’ve known several of the candidates.”
Lawrence wouldn’t need to recuse himself from the selection if he knew a candidate, she said.
“Actually,” Lock said, “if you know someone, that gives you more information about a person…that’s first-hand information that I may know and I use that.”
Braun-Martin said she couldn’t discuss Nugent’s application. She said candidates are fingerprinted after they are approved to be hired, but that additional paperwork must be completed before the hire is completed.
Nugent chose to withdraw his name after the board appointed him, she said.
A DUI wouldn’t necessarily exclude a candidate from being appointed as a district administrator, Braun-Martin said. Instead, a DUI would be something that would be investigated further, she said, through interviews, vetting and reference checks, to make an informed decision about the candidate.
In response to questions from parents about the status of pink-slipped teachers, Braun-Martin said the district has begun calling them back.
Today, Jessica Beerbaum informed me she has been hired to teach fifth-grade at Meadow Homes Elementary in Concord, after being laid-off from her job at Silverwood Elementary in June. She was number 24 on the layoff list, she said.
“Things change everyday,” Lock said. “We don’t want to lose good teachers.”
Lock confirmed, however, that popular College Park High School instrumental music teacher Johnnie Johnson moved to Texas after being laid-off in June. Similarly, former Sequoia Middle School instrumental music teacher Marcus Goodlow moved back to Texas last year, after being laid-off.
This year’s Sequoia instrumental music teacher Eric Thompson has also been laid-off. And star Sequoia music student Larry Wang, who was featured in the Times as a “Hometown Hero” on Monday, has transferred to the Acalanes district to attend high school, in part because of its more stable music program. He would have attended College Park, had he remained in the Mt. Diablo district.
Lock acknowledged that some good teachers are moving out of state, tired of going through the anxiety associated with pink slips each year, as the result of state budget cuts.
“What we’re doing in California is a tragedy,” she said.
Would you be comfortable with a principal who has been convicted of DUI? Do you think candidates’ convictions should be disclosed to the board before the superintendent recommends them?

Posted on Thursday, July 15th, 2010
Under: Clayton, Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Music, Pleasant Hill, Theresa Harrington | 19 Comments »

MDUSD administrator responds to questions about principal moves

By Theresa Harrington
The substantial number of moves by principals and other Mt. Diablo school district administrators during the past few months has prompted one big question in the community: “Why!?!”
Superintendent Steven Lawrence and Julie Braun-Martin, assistant superintendent for personnel, have said they were trying to find good matches for schools where principals have retired or have been promoted to new positions.
Today, I spoke with Rose Lock, assistant superintendent for Student Achievement and Support, to get more clarification on this process.
She said Lawrence made a Connect Ed phone call message to Mt. Diablo Elementary parents a couple of days ago updating them on the status of their principal search. The message informed parents that interviews were being conducted and explained that the district’s candidate screening procedure now includes Internet searches, she said.
When I asked about the multiple administrative moves, Lock said: “There hasn’t been that many people moving around.”
She said the main reason for the moves is that four elementary principals resigned (Bel Air, Silverwood, Valle Verde and Wren Avenue) and five principals were promoted to positions in her department (Delta View Elem., Hidden Valley Elem., Monte Gardens Elem., Riverview MS, and Sequoia MS).
“We did move a couple of principals who are interested in looking at different assignments,” she added. “It’s not like we’ve been playing musical chairs. Nothing like that at all.”
Lawrence has said the swap of principals between Mt. Diablo High and Olympic continuation high was based on those administrators’ preferences. (Cheryl LeBoef is moving to Olympic and Kate McClatchy is moving to Mt. Diablo High.)
To fill the Bel Air and Delta View positions, Lock said the district needed principals who were experienced. Both Nancy Klinkner (at Highlands Elementary) and Nancy Baum (at Ayers Elementary) had expressed interest in new assignments, Lock said.
Klinker was placed at Bel Air (which has a large English learner population) because she is bilingual. The Bay Point school is one of the district’s lowest achieving campuses and Lock said Klinker was also a good fit because her background had been entirely in Title 1 (low-income) schools (with the exception of last year at Highlands).
The district placed Baum at Delta View to keep the campus moving in the right direction, Lock said.
New principals are also expected at Mt. Diablo Elementary in Clayton, Shore Acres Elementary in Bay Point and Glenbrook Middle School in Concord.
Lock said Mt. Diablo Elementary’s previous Principal Bob Dodson has not yet been reassigned. Shore Acres Principal Kari Rees told me she expects to be replaced as part of that low-achieving school’s reform plan. Glenbrook Principal Jonathan Eagan found another position closer to his home, Braun-Martin told me last week.
Lock said Lawrence won’t attend the upcoming meeting with Sequoia Middle School parents in Pleasant Hill. Instead, she and Braun-Martin will likely ask staff and parents what kind of new principal they would like.
Lawrence normally doesn’t attend parent meetings, Lock said. He attended the Mt. Diablo Elementary meeting because she was off on furlough leave, Lock added.
However, Lawrence attended the Bancroft Elementary meeting with both Braun-Martin and Lock, to respond to parent concerns about his decision to transfer their principal to Valle Verde. He later reversed that decision, based on parents’ concerns.
Lawrence decides who to recommend for specific positions, with input from her, Lock said. She has been more involved in elementary hires than those at middle and high schools, she added. (Lock was previously the assistant superintendent for elementary education and principal of Walnut Acres Elementary in Walnut Creek).
Lock said Curriculum and Instruction division was eliminated — and replaced with her Student Achievment and Support division — to focus more on the demands placed on the principals districtwide, including high expectaitons for student achievement.
“We have to do a better job of supporting all of the schools,” she said. “In the past, the Curriculum and Instruction department supported all of our Program Improvement (low-performing) and Title 1 schools. Others didn’t get same level of support. But, others are also going to be expected to improve.”
Lock also emphasized that principals are hired for the entire district, not necessarily for specific schools.
“We want to make sure they are equally proficient and competent,” she said. “We want to develop them (through coaching and professional development), because we could be moving them around as needed.”
She acknowledged that the district does, however, try to match principals to schools where they would best fit.
“We certainly are sensitive to the needs of each school,” she said. “We do ask for (community) input, to make sure we have the right person.”
No principal should expect to remain at the same school for his or her entire career, she added.
“Principals don’t stay at schools for 20 years,” she said.
Does this explanation ease your mind about moves taking place before school starts?

Posted on Friday, July 9th, 2010
Under: Bay Point, California, Clayton, Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Pleasant Hill, Theresa Harrington, Walnut Creek | 10 Comments »

Plentiful principal replacements in Mt. Diablo district

By Theresa Harrington
All administrators in the Mt. Diablo school district were given pink slips this year, which means they could be replaced or reassigned at will.
Even though the school year has already ended and many principals have made plans with their staffs for the fall, some are being promoted or reassigned. It’s possible some could lose their jobs, although that won’t be clear until all the decisions for replacements have been finalized.
A few resigned, leaving holes the district had to fill. The board expects to vote on the appointment of 25 administrators Tuesday, including the promotion of five principals to district office administrators, the appointment of eight principals and a continuation high school administrator, and the appointment of four vice principals.
Last Tuesday, the board approved a district office restructuring that includes the principal promotions. Here’s a rundown of those:
Delta View Principal Susan Petersen will become Director of Elementary Support.
Riverview Middle School Principal Denise Rugani will become Director of Secondary Support.
Monte Gardens Elementary Principal Patt Hoellwarth, Hidden Valley Elementary Principal Lorie O’Brien and Sequoia Middle School Principal Hellena Postrk are being promoted to administrative positions as coaches who will support local principals.
In addition, the board appointed Bill Morones as principal of Ygnacio Valley High, replacing retiring Carolyn Plath. Morones is a Danville resident with three children who has worked as principal of Florin High in Sacramento for seven months.
But many other principal moves are in the works.
During the June 15 board meeting, Superintendent Steven Lawrence reported that Highlands Elementary Principal Nancy Klinkner has agreed to move to Bel Air, replacing Tom Carman, who retired. He also said Ayers Elementary Principal Nancy Baum has agreed to take Petersen’s former position at Delta View Elementary in Bay Point. Finally, Lawrence said Cynthia Goin, former principal at Strandwood Elementary, is coming back from a leave to become principal at Wren Avenue Elementary, replacing a retiring administrator.
The board will vote on these and other assignments Tuesday, including the appointment of some other district office administrators. Lawrence has already announced that he plans to move Julie Braun Martin, the current director of personnel, to the assistant superintendent position, replacing Gail Isserman, who is retiring. Lawrence has said he plans to move Melinda Hall, the current director of Curriculum and Instruction, into the personnel director position.
The restructuring also calls for Rose Lock, the current assistant superintendent for elementary education, to become the assistant superintendent of a new Student Achievement and School Support Division. Jennifer Sachs, the current assistant director of Curriculum and Instruction, will become assistant director of the new division, since the Curriculum and Instruction division is being eliminated. Carmen Garces, who is currently an administrator who serves socio-economically disadvantaged students and English language learners in the Curriculum and Instruction department will assume a similar position in the new division.
Here’s the list of appointments to be made, with names filled in, if they’ve already been announced:
Ayers Elementary, Concord:
Bel Air Elementary, Bay Point: Nancy Klinkner
Delta View Elementary, Bay Point: Nancy Baum
Hidden Valley Elementary, Martinez:
Mt. Diablo High School, Concord:
Riverview Middle School, Bay Point:
Valle Verde Elementary, Walnut Creek:
Wren Avenue Elementary, Concord: Cynthia Goin
Meadow Homes Elementary program specialist, Concord:
Mt. Diablo High School vice principal, Concord:
Northgate High School vice principal, Walnut Creek:
Olympic Continuation High School administrator, Concord:
Olympic/Alliance high school vice principal, Concord:
Riverview Middle School vice principal, Concord:
Assistant superintendent of personnel services: Julie Braun Martin
Director of Personnel: Melinda Hall
Assistant Superintendent, Student Achievement, Support: Rose Lock
Director, Elementary Support: Susan Petersen
Director, Seconday Support: Denise Rugani
Assistant Director of Categoricals and School Support: Jennifer Sachs
Principal Coach and school support: Patt Hoellwarth
Principal Coach and school support: Lorie O’Brien
Principal Coach and school support: Hellena Postrk
Principal Coach and school support: Susan Hukkanen
Administrator, English learners, Student Support: Carmen Graces
The district office reorganization eliminated the position of director of alternative education, currently held by Katie Gaines. It also eliminated five other administrative positions and replaced them with the new Student Achievement positions detailed above.
But there are more vacant principal positions that have not yet been filled. Shore Acres Elementary Principal Kari Rees told me she will be replaced as part of that school’s reform efforts, based on its status as one of the district’s six lowest-achieving schools. The principals who are being promoted to positions as district administrators are also leaving behind vacancies.
In addition, I’ve heard that some other principals may not be returning to their campuses next year.
“In an attempt to find the best match for each school, district staff has gathered input from site staff members and parents,” the district’s staff report for administrative assignments states. “For those positions that we feel we have a match, we will announce the person filling the position; otherwise, we will continue to search for qualified candidates.”
Lawrence told parents at Bancroft Elementary in Walnut Creek last week that he had conducted extensive interviews with staff and parents at Valle Verde Elementary regarding the kind of principal they would like, after Principal Carolyn Kreuscher announced she planned to retire. But Bancroft parents did not understand why he did not ask them if they were willing to give up their principal before he decided to transfer Linda Schuler to Valle Verde.
Lawrence pointed out that the principal would leave sometime, most likely by retiring or transferring to another school. In reconsidering his decision, he said he would evaluate whether the time was right for Schuler to leave now.
In the end, Lawrence reversed his decision, based on the meetings with Bancroft staff and parents. But he said Valle Verde was a larger school with a significant population of special education students and that his goal with all transfers was to create a “win-win” situation for the principal and the school, offering a new opportunity to the administrator.
Lawrence explained that the district had a pool of about nine to 12 candidates that he looked at for Bancroft. One parent suggested that Lawrence place the person he had in mind for Bancroft at Valle Verde instead.
“You considered the needs of Valle Verde,” the parent said. “It’s inexcusable that we were not involved in this process from the beginning. There’s no reason to take this principal to another high-performing school in this district. If (the candidate) is good enough for us, she should be good enough for Valle Verde.”
Parents also wanted to know if Schuler wanted to move or if Lawrence told her to move.
“I more asked her to go, based on my request, than asked her (if she wanted to),” Lawrence said. “We had a talk. If you want to define that as being told, then, yes, (she was told).”
Here are the other vacancies I know about, based on moves or announcements that have already been made:
Highlands Elementary Principal, Concord:
Monte Gardens Elementary Principal, Concord:
Sequioa Middle School, Pleasant Hill:
Shore Acres Elementary Principal, Bay Point:
If your child attends one of these schools, have you been asked what kind of principal you and your children would like? How do you feel about getting a new principal in the fall?

Posted on Monday, June 21st, 2010
Under: Bay Point, Concord, Education, Martinez, Mt. Diablo school district, Pleasant Hill, Theresa Harrington, Walnut Creek | 19 Comments »