The CVCHS governing board met on Wednesday, November 122014. It was a historic moment. We all knew it was going to be a very special evening as soon as we walked into the room. Dozens of teachers filled the chairs and almost all were dressed in black. Dozens of community members also attended and almost all were dressed in black. This signified solidarity. Two stakeholder groups came together that night and publicly supported each other once again.
No longer can anyone say this is a few disgruntled people. Kipp Penovich, the teacher union president handed the school board 27 sworn statements from 27 of the 40 permanent employed teachers. He testified that there would have been many more but the other teachers were too afraid of retaliation to make a public statement. They had already witnessed this too many times with their colleagues who spoke out.
These statements were all a vote of no confidence for David Linzey, the Executive Director. Nothing new for Mr. Linzey. By the time he left his last school district 96% of the teachers had submitted a vote of no confidence and the community had started a petition calling for his removal.
In case anyone does not know the story behind these teachers everyone should know that these 27 teachers are also the teachers that made history three years ago and under threat of losing their jobs signed the Clayton Valley Charter Petition so that all of the students and the entire community could have a school they could be proud of. They not only have the right to be heard but we all should be seeking them out and trying to help them. We are in their debt. They should never again be disrespected by calling them “disgruntled veteran teachers”. These are the teachers that set up the school beginning January 11, 2012. David Linzey started his tenure on July 1, 2012. He walked into a school that was already on the path from “Good to Great!” Is it ironic that almost all of the board minutes from that time period are missing off the CVCHS web site? Or is it purposeful? Those are the board minutes that shows the teachers setting up the charter school and launching it for success in one short year. This all took place months before Mr. Linzey came in and started getting his monstrous paycheck that just keeps getting bigger (he received almost a 20% raise at this meeting with no notice to the public and no comments from the 4 non-interested board members who approved it).
Mr. Linzey knows how to work with test scores – he wrote a dissertation on it! But the one factor that has the most impact on test scores is the teacher in the classroom. It is these teachers that know how to get rigor from their students while forming strong lifelong relationships with them. It is those qualities that make CV unique and able to accomplish so much in so little time.
After Mr. Penovich sat down the CTA regional rep announced that she had never seen so much disrespect shown toward teachers in her entire career. She informed Mr. Linzey and the board that the CTA and CVEA were filing charges of Unfair Labor Practices against them. Many may ask why teachers need a strong union. They need a strong union to make sure that everyone is playing by the same rules. It is that simple. It’s sad that teachers are in need of that type of protection but clearly in this case they do.
The rest of the meeting was also historic but this time – horrifying! The cries of dismay from the crowd resounded throughout the night. First April Winship, the board member who was running the election process announced that the incumbents Ted Meriam and Dick Ellis would be voting on their own board appointed board positions. Both board president Meriam and Mr. Linzey said there was precedence for this and this was how it was always done. This is completely untrue – just the opposite. When the first two community members were appointed by the board they were interviewed and then voted and appointed by the 6 elected members who had been elected previously. Never has a community rep or retired teacher ever voted on their own appointment! Not Ellis, not Meriam, not King and not Branich. Never! It is preposterous. It is clear from the by-laws that the elected board members go through an election process that ends in December. The appointed board members are then interviewed and seated at the annual meeting in January. The board elections have been found to be corrupt even before a single vote is cast!
The crowd cried out again when a parent interviewing for the community board member position was ignored when she stated she had expressed her intent to run for the parent position. It had already been announced that Megan Kommer was running for the parent position unopposed. Even a parent and another board member who were members of the election committee expressed their dissatisfaction with how Mrs. Winship had taken over the committee and was apparently ignoring input. Where is the oversight?
Two completely different historical incidents in the short history of CVCHS. Our most valuable asset, the students will ultimately be the ones who will be hurt by all of this. These valuable teachers have rights go back to MDUSD, what if they all exercise that right? Just because it looks good on the outside doesn’t mean it’s not imploding on the inside. The teachers took up the mantra and advice of author Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great when they began the charter movement. Look again to Jim Collins in his recent book, How the Mighty Fall. CVCHS has temporarily been derailed, but the teachers saved the school once – there is always hope they can do it again.