Tag Archives: Clayton Valley

Contra Costa County Board of Education to add Clayton Valley Charter HS to their agenda at their next meeting


The leadership at CVCHS has caused many highly qualified teachers to leave. The following chart* depicts the extent of teacher turnover since the school went charter, and was presented at the Contra Costa County Board of Education (CCCBOE) on Wednesday night (9/21/16).  In addition to this presentation, several students also expressed how they have been negatively impacted. The CCCBOE plans to add Clayton Valley to their agenda next month.

*This only includes teachers, not support staff and administrators who have also experienced high turnover.




San Diego charter school king hit with felony

By Maureen Magee

San Diego Union Tribune


A former San Diego County superintendent who approved charter schools that later hired his consulting firm was arraigned Friday in San Diego Superior Court on one felony count of conflict of interest, according to the San Diego district attorney’s office.

The allegation facing Steve Van Zant, who currently is superintendent of the Sausalito Marin City School District, dates to May 2010 while he was superintendent of the Mountain Empire Unified School District.

According to the criminal complaint, Van Zant “did willfully and unlawfully violate the provisions of such (conflict of interest) laws.”

Van Zant, who is not in custody, could not be reached for comment. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison.

The District Attorney’s Office declined to provide details of the case.

Van Zant, 53, has been a controversial figure among San Diego County educators. Long before he faced legal troubles, Van Zant stirred animosity among school districts for years as he brokered deals with charter schools to operate in their districts — often without providing the notice required by law.

Some of the charters that Van Zant ushered through soon hired his consulting firm for support services.

Van Zant worked in the tiny one-campus Dehesa School District, where the school board authorized several charters to operate in other districts, before he was hired to run Mountain Empire schools in 2008.

Under Van Zant’s direction, Mountain Empire authorized its first charter, San Diego Neighborhood Homeschool. Roughly a dozen more followed before he left in 2013.

None of the charters would locate in the district’s backcountry communities. Instead, they would operate in more populated reaches of the county — from Oceanside to San Diego to Chula Vista to National City.

Officials from small and cash-strapped districts approved charters to operate outside of their boundaries in part for financial reasons. The authorizing districts don’t stand to lose students — or the state attendance funds that accompany them — and they receive up to 3 percent of the charter’s revenue in exchange for varying degrees of oversight and often administrative services.

Although the trend didn’t start in Mountain Empire, under Van Zant the district played a key role in San Diego County’s spike in “out-of-district” charters — of which there are more than 80 currently in operation.

Van Zant didn’t just woo charters to earn revenue for Mountain Empire. The steady stream of charters helped bring money to his consulting firm.

A couple of years into his tenure at Mountain Empire, Van Zant and his wife, Ingrid, established EdHive, a consulting firm that offers administrative services and helps charters find districts to green-light their schools.

The company website claims, “We can find an authorizing district for your charter and cut a deal that provides the financial incentive for the district and still save your school money.”

According to profiles of company officials posted on the LinkedIn professional networking website, EdHive has represented at least 27 charters in California. Among them are several charters approved by Mountain Empire during Van Zant’s tenure as superintendent.

Charters that hired EdHive include Endeavour Academy, which was shut down last year after the San Diego Unified School District sued the charter and the Alpine Union School District, which authorized the campus to operate in a Clairemont church.

Most of San Diego County’s out-of-district charters are independent-study programs authorized by small districts in the eastern reaches of the region that have popped up in other districts only to serve their students and take the state attendance funds that accompany them.

The practice has sparked several lawsuits in San Diego County and elsewhere in California.

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation in 2014 that would have restricted where out-of-district charters can locate because of “retroactive language that could force existing charter schools to change locations.”

In September 2014, Brown said in his veto message he would assign a team to “examine the situation and come back with solutions.” That work is still under way, according to a spokesperson for the governor.

In San Diego County, out-of-district charters continue to pit districts against one another. In his veto message, Brown appeared to acknowledge the problem: “Unfortunately, it appears that some districts and charter schools have gone against the spirit of the law.”

He went on to say that “this has led to litigation and strained relationships among districts and charter schools.”

A Superior Court judge agreed with San Diego Unified last year that the Endeavour charter was a traditional school and not a independent-study hybrid as it was billed, and that organizers failed to notify the district as required under the law. Endeavour’s headquarters were based 150 miles away in Santa Clarita Valley.

Under the state education code, charters that cannot find facilities in their authorizing district may look for a campus in another district as long as they notify that district before the charter is approved.

San Diego Unified has also sent cease-and-desist letters to several out-of-district charters.

Since Kathy Granger was hired as Mountain Empire’s superintendent in December 2013, Mountain Empire has halted its trend of wooing and approving far-flung charters.

She would not discuss Van Zant but did confirm she had been contacted by the District Attorney’s Office about him.

“If anyone were to come to me to open a charter school outside our district boundaries, I would recommend they go to the district that represents the area they want to open a school,” she said.

“We are not opposed to offering education options for our students and we are not against charter schools. Our focus is to provide programs for our students.”

Since taking office in Mountain Empire, Granger has made a point to make personal visits to charter schools in the name of oversight.

Meanwhile, Granger is hopeful that Brown will address the ambiguity in the law when it comes to charters operating outside their authorizing districts.

“I have learned a lot about charter schools since coming here,” she said. “I definitely think there needs to be clarity in the law.”

Ricardo Soto, chief attorney for the California Charter School Association, told The San Diego Union-Tribune in November that school districts are threatened by non-classroom-based charters that he believes operate legally.

Still, he said the law could use some clarity.

Van Zant was arraigned one day after he requested a leave from his three-day-a-week job as superintendent in the two-campus (including a charter) Sausalito district.

Citing personal reasons, Van Zant was put on indefinite paid leave. His salary was $172,000 in 2014.

Another statement from a CVCHS Teacher

Why for the first time in a very long teaching career am I speaking out against administration

I’m speaking out against Dave Linzey and the Board because I have been teaching a long time and I have never seen anything close to the abuse of power and the heavy handed manner in which Dave Linzey treats employees. It started for me at a couple years ago at a staff meeting when he was overtly critical and controlling while one of the directors was giving a presentation to the staff. Mr. Linzey interrupted, corrected, and actively controlled what was being said throughout the presentation with a scowl on his face and absolutely no regard for how embarrassing it was for the person presenting. I have never seen anyone on an administrative team treated so disrespectfully in front of the staff without tact or diplomacy. The tension in the room could be felt by all and it was the topic of discussion afterwards by many of my colleagues. I thought to myself, maybe he’s having a bad day, maybe this subordinate had done something previously to deserve this embarrassment in front of his staff. I tried to dismiss it because I wanted to believe in the image I had of Mr. Linzey up to that point. The leader I thought he was would have taken this person aside privately and coached them toward improvement not publicly shame them. As difficult as it was to witness this treatment, I think I would have been able to let it go if it had happened only once, but it happened on a regular basis. Continue reading

Teacher Cate Sundling dispels “I Support CVCHS” Comment

Below you are going to see a comment I wrote on Tuesday, January 6th and asked someone to post for me on the “I Support CVCHS” Facebook page. I was unaware of the page until someone alerted me that I was being discussed on that site. I have recently left Clayton Valley and my decision to leave was being attributed to teachers pressuring me to oppose administration. That allegation was supported by Deanne Carlson, who implied she’d spoken directly with me about my decision to leave, a conversation that never occurred. That is when I wrote the response below. Please know that Deanne apologized on that thread almost immediately; however, while I appreciate the apology, I am concerned that, because there were so many posts (over 150) on the thread and because the thread was removed so soon after my comment – I believe within an hour – that there was not enough time for parents and other readers who may have seen the earlier comments to read my clarification. Hence the posting of yesterday’s response here. Continue reading

Please attend the CVCHS Board Meeting on Dec. 10th

Many of you have seen the flyer circulating around our community. We need your help to save Clayton Valley from internal corruption. It lists a small subset of the many grievances against David Linzey and his supporters on the CVCHS Board.  Please attend the board meeting on Wednesday evening, December 10th at 6:00 in the multi-use room at Clayton Valley. Continue reading

CVCHS Board proposes bylaw changes to further consolidate its power and to exclude stakeholder input

There is a new bylaw amendment proposed on Wednesday’s Board agenda.  It removes the provisions in the bylaws that require the elected Board members (teachers, staff, parents, administrative) to be recalled by their constituents before being removed from the Board.  The change will now allow the Board, by a 2/3 vote, to remove any Board member.

If this bylaw change passes, the teachers, staff, parents, administration can elect their representatives, but just 6 people on the Board can remove them.  Clearly, the Board has wanted Amber Lineweaver gone for months.  But they could not do it without a recall by the teachers who elected her.  This bylaw eliminates the constituents’ power and consolidates it in the Board. Why should 6 Board members be able to overrule a group of constituents–whether it be parents, teachers, or staff? Continue reading

Contra Costa Times Covered the Recent CVCHS Board Meeting

By Lou Fancher

Read the full article: Concord: Clayton Valley Charter High School dismisses IT director; divisions continue between leaders, staff, community

From the article:

“Roughly 70 people filled the school’s library for the meeting, called just 24 hours earlier while the school was on holiday break. Most came to protest the board’s proposed termination of Rosso, a classified staff employee who had been on paternity leave since Nov. 17, but who was present at the meeting.”

Tom Barnidge from the Contra Costa Times mentions Dave Linzey

Barnidge: These are the people who really need to give thanks

From the Article:

Who: David Linzey, executive director of Clayton Valley Charter High School

Why: His job security and $200,000 salary are not contingent on the approval of the school’s academic staff because 27 of the 40 full-time teachers recently evaluated his performance with a vote of “no confidence.”


CVCHS Board Meeting – A Vote of NO Confidence for David Linzey, the Executive Director.


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. Continue reading

CVCHS Board Meeting Synopsis from Holly Tillman

Stakeholders for Transparency supports Holly Tillman for the CVCHS School Board.  Here is her synopsis of Wednesday’s (11/12/14) board meeting:

Friends, here is why I am running for the CVCHS board and why I need your support. Last night I witnessed the most toxic meeting I’ve attended since May, and a friend asked me if I thought the meeting went well last night. Here is a brief synopsis of what transpired during those three painful hours and why my head is still throbbing today.

Do I think it went well? That depends on which part. Continue reading