Part of the Bay Area News Group

MDUSD board to meet tonight with Concord City Council

By Theresa Harrington
Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 at 1:08 pm in Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district

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?

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

By Theresa Harrington
Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 at 11:22 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Music

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:

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How much sugar does your family eat?

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, March 21st, 2014 at 3:39 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district

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?

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How much should your district spend on disadvantaged students next year?

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, March 14th, 2014 at 5:53 pm in Education

As the July 1 deadline for creating district spending plans is looming under the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula, school officials should be asking parents how they believe money should be spent to best serve their children.

The state is allocating extra money to districts with low-income students, English learners and foster youth to help them close the achievement gap by providing services and programs to help disadvantaged children overcome challenges.

Ideally, districts should be telling parents how much money they are receiving through base grants for all students and through supplemental grants for disadvantaged students. Districts with more than 55 percent of students who fall into the three disadvantaged categories also receive concentration grants intended to provide extra help for them.

But some districts are more transparent than others about sharing their budget numbers with their communities during this planning process. To help level the playing field, the Education Trust-West advocacy organization has created a website at that provides a searchable database of most districts in the state showing how much each district is supposed to spend on high-need students. The database does not include districts serving 100 students or less or those with very few disadvantaged students that are receiving Economic Recovery Target Grants to help them reach the goal of increasing funding to 2007-08 levels in eight years.

Here’s a comparison of the percentage of disadvantaged students in some Alameda and Contra Costa districts, followed by the amount of money designated to serve those students next year, according to the site:

Hayward: 76 percent; $16 million
Livermore: 30 percent; $2.4 million
Newark: 60 percent; $2.8 million
Oakland: 74 percent; $27 million
San Lorenzo: 68 percent; $6.3 million

Antioch: 65 percent; $8.4 million
John Swett: 69 percent; $905,441
Mt. Diablo: 49 percent; $9.5 million
Pittsburg: 86 percent; $8.9 million
West Contra Costa: 74 percent; $19 million

Each district must include this amount of money designated for disadvantaged students in its Local Control Accountability Plan, or LCAP. These plans must describe a district’s goals, actions, and expenditures across eight state priority areas. The plans must also explain how supplemental and concentration funding will be spent on high-need students and describe how the district’s expenditures will increase or improve services for those students.

Districts are required to include a parent advisory group in the creation of the plans, said Carrie Hahnel of EdTrust-West. Some districts are creating special groups for this purpose, while others are using existing parent advisory groups, she said.

A best practice is to create a special group that includes representatives for low-income students, English learners and foster youth, she said. In addition, Hahnel said students should be involved in the process.

“There’s a difference between just asking for their input and authentically engaging them,” she said. “What we hear from some students is that they will share lists of things that they care about, but they don’t feel that’s going to actually affect the district’s plan in any way.”

Some districts are holding community meetings to explain the state’s requirements and solicit feedback. But Hahnel said it’s really important to make the connection between the budget and the plan during these meetings, instead of merely creating wish lists of programs and services.

“For some reason, districts want to skip over the budget part and get to the plan part once they get people in the room,” she said. “If the district has a strategic plan — put it out there. Talk about the new funding and have a dialogue about trade-offs. If we do a lot of new things, we might have old things we have to cut, so let’s talk about what we value and how much room we have for new investments.”

What trade-offs are being discussed in your district?

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News group’s fight to obtain district documents heading to court this month

By Theresa Harrington
Sunday, March 9th, 2014 at 11:43 am in Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district

The jury trial for former Woodside Elementary teacher Joseph Martin — who has been charged with 150 counts of molestation involving 14 former students while he taught at the Concord campus in the Mt. Diablo school district — has been postponed until May.

But, the Bay Area News Group, or BANG, lawsuit seeking district records related to an internal report about suspicions of abuse raised in 2006, along with any other relevant documents, is set to be heard March 19 in Contra Costa County Superior Court.

Attorneys for both sides have been busily trading legal briefs and declarations bolstering their opinions during the past month.

The district is staunchly defending its decision to withhold the documents sought based on a variety of exemptions asserted under the California Public Records Act. The newspaper group disputes these asserted exceptions and is asking the court to require the district to list everything that is being withheld and to review the documents privately, then decide whether or not they should be released.

Here’s a rundown of the arguments by both sides:

The district asserts that every document being withheld is prohibited from public disclosure because it contains identifiable education information for a minor, education records, attorney-client information, and attorney work product information, as well as information protected by individual privacy laws. The district asserts that a 2006 internal report prepared by outside attorney Mark Williams related to alleged improper behavior by Martin is exempt from disclosure because it was provided to police in confidence and police compelled the district to provide it as part of the police investigation of Martin.

BANG attorney Duffy Carolan counters: “It is inconceivable under the strong body of law governing access to records of public employee wrongdoing that all responsive records pertaining to complaints known to Mt. Diablo Unified School District to at least suggest child abuse by Woodside Elementary School teacher Joseph Martin would be exempt from public disclosure in their entirety.”

The district’s “vague and unsupported privacy arguments are patently insufficient to establish that any record it is withholding is exempt,” Carolan says, in a court document filed Feb. 26. In addition, she says the district failed to explain why removing the names of students would not suffice to protect student privacy and she disputed the district’s claim of attorney-client privilege related to the 2006 report.

“In sum,” Carolan wrote, “the district has utterly failed to meet its heavy burden of proof in this case to overcome the strong public interest in access to records that will shed light on the district’s handling of serious allegations of wrongdoing that have already imperiled the well-being of its students and raise legitimate concerns about student safety throughout the district.”

Although the district has not named the documents it is withholding, Carolan asserts that a paper trail leading to the decision to call police in 2013 must exist. She suggests that documents being withheld could include: an April 24, 2013 complaint from the mother of a Woodside Elementary student to then-Principal Jenny Cronan, notification from Cronan to the assistant superintendent for personnel about the complaint, direction to call police, and notification to Martin that he was being placed on administrative leave.

Related to the 2006 incident, Carolan suggests documents being withheld could include: a report received by then-Principal Jennifer Sachs that Martin was “focusing” on some students over others, Sachs’ notification to the assistant superintendent for personnel about this complaint, the conclusion by the district that an investigation was necessary, records relating to an internal investigation into “alleged suspicious behavior” by Martin, writings detailing the suspicious behavior, records showing Sachs was “tasked with conducting the investigation,” and the 2006 letter provided by Williams.

Links to court documents filed by both sides are below:

BANG Request for In Camera Review of MDUSD documents:

Proposed Order for In Camera Review of MDUSD documents:

MDUSD opposition to BANG petition:

Declaration of MDUSD attorney Deb Cooksey:

Declaration of outside attorney Mark Williams:

BANG reply to MDUSD:

Do you think the court should review the documents being withheld to determine whether or not they should be released?


Here is the judge’s tentative ruling:

“29. TIME: 9:00 CASE#: MSN13-1551

Petitioner Bay Area News Group’s petition seeking further disclosure of records is granted. It is premature to rule on the exemptions and privileges asserted by Respondent until a complete list of the specific documents being withheld is produced and correlated with the exemption and/or privilege claimed by the District. By April 2, 2014, Respondent is ordered to create a list of each responsive document or portion thereof being withheld, describing it in detail and for each document being withheld, Respondent must discuss the consequences of disclosing the sought-after information. Conclusory or boilerplate assertions that merely recite the statutory standards are not sufficient. See American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California v. Superior Court (2011) 202 Cal.App.4th 55, 82-85; State Board of Equalization v. Superior Court (1992) 10 Cal.App.4th 1177, 1192-1193.

The court rules on Petitioner’s objections as follows:

Declaration of Deborah Cooksey

Cooksey Decl., paragraph 11: Sustained – hearsay

Declaration of Mark Williams

Williams Decl., paragraph 3, starting with “I” and ending with “appropriate”: Sustained – relevance
Williams Decl., paragraph 3, starting with “One” and ending with “conduct”: Overruled
Williams Decl., paragraph 4, starting with “That” and ending with “privileged”: Overruled
Williams Decl., paragraph 4, starting with “Further” and ending with “communication”: Overruled”

Here are the objections:

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MDUSD maintenance and operations workers join Teamsters Union

By Theresa Harrington
Saturday, March 8th, 2014 at 12:31 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district

I have received a news release announcing that 500 Mt. Diablo school district maintenance and operations workers — who had been members of the Local One union — voted Friday to switch to the Teamsters 856 Union. Although the news release characterized it as an “overwhelming” vote, it did not disclose the percentage of yes and no votes.

“The vote to become Teamsters comes after months of stalled contract negotiations as the District has refused to address the issue of skyrocketing healthcare costs,” according to the news release.

“’The District’s decision to freeze healthcare costs at 2010 levels has had an alarming impact on these workers – many have had to choose between buying groceries and having healthcare,’ said Peter Finn, Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Officer of Teamsters Local 856.

The maintenance and operations unit includes school bus drivers, custodians, food service workers, network technicians, as well as plumbers, electricians, painters, carpenters, groundskeepers, and other classifications working out of the maintenance department.

‘We drive children to school, prepare their meals, and make sure they have a clean, safe environment in which to learn,’ said Noven Feria, a custodian lead worker for the District. ‘We deserve to be able to take care of our families too and not have to choose between food and healthcare,’ he said.

‘It’s time for Mount Diablo to take care of the workers who take care of our children,’ Finn said. ‘We are committed and prepared to do whatever it takes to demand fairness at the bargaining table.’

Founded in 1949, Teamsters Local 856 represents 8,000 hardworking members in the San Francisco Bay Area, North Bay, Sacramento, and Central Valley communities.”

Do you agree with the maintenance and operations workers’ decision to switch unions?

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Sunday is the FAFSA and Cal Grant deadline!

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, February 28th, 2014 at 5:25 pm in Education

This is your final warning: Sunday is the deadline for high school seniors to apply for federal financial aid and California state grants. Don’t delay!

Students can apply by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and submitting Grade-point Average, or GPA, information to the California Student Aid Commission.

A report released earlier this week by The Education Trust-West — a statewide education policy, research and advocacy organization nonprofit advocacy organization — found that while the number of high school seniors who complete FAFSA and Cal Grant applications across the state last year, many students still did not apply for financial aid.

The number of high school seniors who completed FAFSA applications rose from 54 percent to 62 percent from 2012 to 2013, while the number who applied for Cal Grants rose from 50 percent to 56 percent during the same time period, according to the report.

However, 44 percent — or nearly 175,000 12th graders in the class of 2013 did not complete a Cal Grant application, according to the “Equity Alert” brief titled, “Doorways to College Aid,” which is a follow-up to the group’s report from last year called, “The Cost of Opportunity: Access to College Financial Aid in California.” To view the report, visit and click on “New Analysis Finds FAFSA & Cal Grant Applications Rising; Too Many Students Across California Still Not Applying for Financial Aid.”

“We are glad to see the increases in FAFSA completion and Cal Grant application rates, but there are still far too many students falling through the cracks,” said Dr. Orville Jackson, senior research analyst at The Education Trust—West, in a news release. “Our research gives us a good sense of what works to get more students to apply for aid and go to college. The challenge now is to get those practices spread to schools and districts across California.”

The research shows that schools and districts using an electronic GPA verification for their high school seniors outperformed other districts by 15 percent, with an average Cal Grant completion rate of 71 percent compared to 56 percent for others. The Education Trust—West supports AB 2160, introduced earlier this month by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, which would require all public high schools to electronically submit GPA verifications to the state Student Aid Commission.

“Education is the greatest gift we can give to our children,” Ting said, in a prepared statement. “California is providing more help than ever to help families pay for college but too many students leave aid on the table. Students who apply for aid are twice as likely to enroll in college and more likely to graduate. This simple solution will ensure more students get help getting ahead.”

The report includes a list of the Top 100 high schools in the state ranked according to FAFSA completions out of 1,100 schools studied. Here are the nine East Bay schools that made the list, with their FAFSA completion rates followed by their Cal Grant application completion rates.

MyClymonds High, Oakland Unified: 100 percent; 76 percent
Oakland School for the Arts, Oakland Unified: 88 percent; 83 percent
Aspire California College Preparatory Academy, Alameda County: 87 percent; 91 percent
Impact Academy of Arts and Technology, Hayward Unified: 87 percent; 87 percent
KIPP King Collegiate High, San Lorenzo Unified: 83 percent; 90 percent
American Indian Public High, Oakland Unified: 82 percent; 73 percent
Leadership Public Schools — Hayward, Hayward Unified: 79 percent; 92 percent

Deer Valley High, Antioch Unified: 100 percent; 28 percent
Middle College High, West Contra Costa Unified: 81 percent; 85 percent

To see the Education Trust-West California Financial Aid Tracker, which shows how well schools and districts are doing in college financial aid applications, visit

Do you support Ting’s bill?

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MDUSD board to discuss Common Core spending, layoffs and new contract for Northgate HS aquatics center tonight

By Theresa Harrington
Wednesday, February 26th, 2014 at 5:01 pm in Education

The Mt. Diablo school board will meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the district board room at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord. Here is the agenda:

“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 Closed Session Agenda
4.1 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
4.2 Jane Doe v. MDUSD Contra Costa County Superior Court Case No. C13-00342 Info/Action
4.3 Readmission of Student #E-13 into the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Action
4.4 Admission of Student # C-14 into the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Action
4.5 Anticipated Litigation – Significant exposure to litigation or claims made pursuant to Gov’t. Code Section 54956.9 (d)(2) Info
4.6 Anticipated Litigation – Significant exposure to litigation or claims made pursuant to Gov’t. Code Section 54956.9 (d)(2) Info
4.7 Anticipated Litigation – Significant exposure to litigation or claims made pursuant to Gov’t. Code Section 54956.9 (d)(2) Info
5.0 Adjourn to Closed Session at 6:00 p.m.

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 Info/Action
8.2 Jane Doe v. MDUSD Contra Costa County Superior Court Case No. C13-00342 Info/Action
8.3 Readmission of Student #E-13 into the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Action
8.4 Admission of Student # C-14 into the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Action
8.5 Anticipated Litigation – Significant exposure to litigation or claims made pursuant to Gov’t. Code Section 54956.9 (d)(2) Info
8.6 Anticipated Litigation – Significant exposure to litigation or claims made pursuant to Gov’t. Code Section 54956.9 (d)(2) Info
8.7 Anticipated Litigation – Significant exposure to litigation or claims made pursuant to Gov’t. Code Section 54956.9 (d)(2) Info

9.0 Recognitions and Resolutions
9.1 Resolution #13/14-33 determining district needs for 2014-15 and adopting criteria for determining order of seniority for those certificated employees with the same date of first paid probationary service. Action
9.2 Resolution No. 13/14 – 34 to decrease the number of certificated employees due to a reduction or elimination of particular kinds of services. Action
9.3 Resolution #13/14-35 proclaiming March 2-8, 2014, the Week of the School Administrator Action

10.0 Public Employee Appointment
10.1 Appointment of Principal, Elementary School – Hidden Valley Elementary Action

10.2 Appointment of Coordinator, Student/Community Services 9-12 – Concord High School Action

10.3 Appointment of Extended Year Summer Program Administrators Action

11.0 Board Member Reports
11.1 Board Member Reports Info

12.0 Superintendent’s Report
12.1 Superintendent’s Report 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) Request to Increase and Decrease Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2013-2014 School Year Action
13.4 (Item #4) Recommended Action for Classified Personnel Action
13.5 (Item #5) Classified Personnel: Request to Increase Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2013-14 School Year and Decrease Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2014-15 School Year Action
13.6 (Item #6) Contract with Dr. Adria Klein for professional development and coaching support at Meadow Homes Elementary. Action
13.7 (Item #7) Contracts with Staff Development for Educators (SDE) for services provided at Rio Vista Elementary and district wide for Singapore Math trainings. Action
13.8 (Item #8) Increase Independent Service contract for Deiredre Ryan-Booth, behavior intervention services provider. Action
13.9 (Item #9) Contract Extension for Eagle Software Aeries Student Information System for 2014-2015 Action
13.10 (Item #10) Kaspersky antivirus software contract Action
13.11 (Item #11) Award of Bid #1649: PE Building Renovation at MDHS Action
13.12 (Item #12) Approve Final Deductive Change Order #1652-001 (FCO) for Project #1652/C-917: Parking Improvements at Clayton Valley Charter High School Action
13.13 (Item #13) Notice of Completion for Bid #1652/Contract C-917 Action
13.14 (Item #14) Minutes for the Board of Education Meeting held on December 11, 2013 Action
13.15 (Item #15) Minutes for the Special Board of Education Meeting held on December 11, 2013 Action
14.0 Consent Items Pulled for Discussion

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

16.0 Community Input Meeting
16.1 Public Hearing Regarding the Common Core State Standards Spending Plan Action

17.0 Reports/Information
17.1 Representatives from the Student Services Department will provide an overview of the department to the Board of Education. Info

18.0 Public Comment
18.1 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

19.0 Business/Action Items
19.1 Concord High School’s Spring Break Hawaii Performance, Educational and Cultural Tour Info/Action

19.2 Mt. Diablo Adult Education/Surgical Technologist Training Students Attendance at Association of Surgical Technologist Association Conference in Denver, Colorado. Action

19.3 2014-2015 School Calendar Action

19.4 WSCA Procurement of Microsoft Software and HP Computers for Technology upgrades at various schools. Action

19.5 Contract Extension of CALNET II State Contract to June 30, 2015 Action

19.6 Burke, Williams & Sorensen, LLP – Legal Services Contract Action

19.7 Award of Lease-Leaseback Agreement to Taber Construction, Inc. for the Construction of New Aquatics Center at Northgate High School Action

19.8 Approve Intermediate Change Order 1645-001 to Taber Construction, Inc. on Bid 1645 – Sports Field Lighting at Ygnacio Valley High School Action

19.9 CMAS Procurement of Extron Pole Vault System for New Classrooms Action

19.10 Renewal of Charter for Eagle Peak Montessori School Info

19.11 Student Representative Info/Action

19.12 Minutes for the Board of Education Meeting held on February 12, 2014 Action

19.13 Meeting Extension Action

20.0 Future Agenda Items
20.1 Future Agenda Items Info

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

22.0 Adjournment
22.1 Adjourn Meeting Info”

How do you think the district should spend its Common Core funding?

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New statewide Common Core field tests coming in March

By Theresa Harrington
Saturday, February 22nd, 2014 at 9:56 am in California, Education

Many school districts are still adjusting their instruction to implement new Common Core standards that require more rigor, problem-solving and critical thinking skills. But, starting next month, 3 million students throughout the state will be tested on the new standards in pilot assessments that are being called “tests of the tests.”

No scores will be released for students, schools, district or counties. Instead, the Smarter Balanced test developers will use the results to work out the kinks before they are administered in earnest next year.

To help prepare the community for the radical testing changes ahead, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson outlined plans for the assessments slated to take place in every district from March 18 through June 6, in a recent news release.

“It’s an exciting time for our students and our schools as California prepares to usher in assessments that reflect more of the real world than a bubble test ever could,” Torlakson said in a prepared statement. “From individual classrooms to school district offices and certainly at the state level, the preparations that have gone into this have been immense, and I’m looking forward to incorporating what we learn from this year’s field test into next year’s inaugural assessments.”

Assembly Bill 484, authored by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, ended most of the state’s Standards Tests and other assessments that made up the California’s Standardized Testing and Reporting, or STAR program, over the last 15 years. The new tests are aligned with the Common Core standards in English-language arts and mathematics, adopted by the California Board of Education in 2010.

Administering the tests on computers will allowing for a broader range of questions than the previous multiple-choice STAR exams. New questions will emphasize critical thinking, reasoning and problem-solving, reflecting the kind of learning necessary to prepare students for college and 21st Century careers.

The California Department of Education has worked with the Educational Testing Service testing contractor, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and other in the education community to develop school and parent outreach and resources.

These include:

- A Smarter Balanced website with information on the pilot test, including practice tests, at

- A clearinghouse of testing information for local school and district testing and technology coordinators, with forms, instructions, videos, and a schedule of workshops about administering the tests at

- A Smarter Balanced Field Test Questions and Answers website, which is often updated with frequently asked questions and answers touching on issues such as whether a paper-and-pencil version will be available and what technology is required, at

n A technology readiness tool to help schools determine the status of their computers and bandwidth is at asp.

n Assessment workshops for schools and districts are at

n Information about the K–12 High Speed Network created for the test is at

For middle and high school students, two new videos provide information about the test, including the role they will play in helping to prepare for the real deal in the 2014-15 school year. The high school video is at

The middle school video is at

More information about Common Core standards is available by visiting:

Do you think your school and students are ready for the pilot tests?

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Bay Area News Group reporting prompts calls for mandatory training in identifying and reporting child abuse

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, February 17th, 2014 at 10:29 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district

Nearly a year after Bay Area News Group published a survey of 94 school districts that showed more than half didn’t train their employees in spotting and reporting child abuse, state and national leaders are calling for mandatory training.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, said last month that he asked the U.S. Government Accountability Office to survey school districts throughout the nation about their sex abuse reporting policies, in part based on reports he read in this newspaper about abuse of children by school teachers that was not reported to police or Child Protective Services as required by law. Miller stressed that Title IX also requires schools to keep children safe from sexual harassment or abuse.

He was particularly troubled by the fact that teachers in these cases often “groomed” students for abuse by befriending them first, then paying special attention to them outside of school hours. Miller said school employees should be trained to spot grooming behavior and report that to authorities, in order to prevent sexual abuse from occurring.

Last week, state Superintendent Tom Torlakson announced his support for AB 1432, authored by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, which would require formal training for all school employees on the identification and reporting of suspected child abuse.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our children at school,” Torlakson wrote, in a letter to Gatto. “California has had child abuse reporting laws on the books since 1963 — for more than five decades. And yet, even as changing state laws have expanded the number and nature of ‘mandatory reporters,’ never have they required any accompanying training in these duties. This does a disservice to both school employees and to the children these laws are meant to protect.

Our efforts to make our schools safer and help prevent crimes against children must also include giving educators and others who work with children the very best training and guidance available.

According to a recent media report, fewer than half of 94 school districts surveyed actually train employees on the identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect. School districts that do not provide training are required — under existing law — to notify the California Department of Education (CDE) of their reasons for doing so. Despite our best efforts to make districts aware of these responsibilities, we have received no such notifications. Clearly, current requirements fall short.

That is why I am pleased to see AB 1432 take a step forward by requiring that all school employees receive training at the beginning of every school year in their legal obligation to report child abuse and neglect. But it also ensures that the local educational agencies providing this training have assistance, by requiring the CDE, in consultation with the Office of Child Abuse Prevention in the California Department of Social Services, to provide information and guidelines on mandatory reporter training. Importantly, this training would also now be required to include the fact that failure to report constitutes a misdemeanor punishable with jail time and a fine.

Across California, educators and school communities feel a genuine responsibility toward the children they serve — for their education and their safety and well-being. They do not believe their job begins when the bell rings and ends at the schoolyard gate, and they know that we cannot expect a fearful child to learn …”

The failure of school districts to adequately train employees in identifying and reporting suspected abuse or grooming behavior can have tragic results. In the Mt. Diablo school district, former Woodside Elementary teacher Joseph Martin has been charged with 125 molestation counts involving 13 former students at the Concord school.

Two lawsuits filed last Tuesday on behalf of nine students allege the abuse could have been prevented if district officials had alerted police or Child Protective Services of suspicions that first came to light in 2005-06.

Here is a Guest Commentary by Carol Carrillo, executive director of the Child Abuse Prevention Council of Contra Costa, regarding the need for better training in schools:

She notes that her agency is now offering training in MDUSD. But, back when we did our survey, I e-mailed Julie Braun Martin about this training and she responded that the district’s legal department was pursuing different training. This was before the Martin case came to light. As Carillo states, MDUSD obviously needed a “wake up call” before it was willing to take this training seriously.

Interestingly, Carillo also talks about training for students. Perhaps if MDUSD offered the “Speak Up, Be Safe” program, Woodside students would have spoken up sooner about Martin’s behavior and would have realized that it was wrong.

Do you think the state should require districts to train employees in spotting and reporting abuse?

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