Tag Archives: Contra Costa County District Attorney

Lavish Spending by CVCHS Administration

Due to complications with ticket prices last year as well as the rising cost of venues in San Francisco, the CV senior class is much lower in funds than previous senior classes have been, and are asking for GoFundMe donations for their Senior Ball. All the while, CV administrators are dining out on nearly $100 per person dinners (see attached $488 receipt for five people).

Why are taxpayer funds being diverted from the students to fund expensive meals for administrators?  Could these funds be better spent on IPads, Textbooks or student field trip transportation?

http://www.contracostatimes.com/politics-government/ci_22017896/san-jose-supervisor-george-shirakawa-racks-up-lavish

http://www.kctv5.com/story/26072404/kcps-superintendent-defends-lavish-high-end-dining

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American Indian Model Schools file response to allegations of financial, organizational misconduct

Oakland North Logo

Oakland North Article Picture

AIMS board chairperson Jean Martinez looks on as attorney Paul Minney addresses the OUSD board at the Sept. 27 board meeting. Photo by Lauren Kawana.

Administrators at the American Indian Model Schools—a set of three Oakland charter schools, two middle schools and one high school—responded late Monday night to a 1,080-page notice of violations given to them by the Oakland Unified School District, OUSD spokesperson Troy Flint said Wednesday.

School officials had been given until November 28 to respond to the district’s allegations regarding improper business contracts, inappropriate credit card usage and lack of school board meeting documentation, but filed their response two days early. If the response does not appropriately answer the questions posed by OUSD school board members about the schools’ finances and organization, the district could decide to revoke the schools’ charters.

The response will be summarized and released to the public after the Oakland school board members read it and remove confidential information, such as student or employee names, Flint said. “It was a long response. It filled up many binders,” Flint said. “The board will have some guidance from our legal team, but they will ultimately decide the fate of AIMS, whether the schools will remain open and in what capacity.”

AIMS operates three charter schools in Oakland: American Indian Public Charter School, American Indian Public High School and American Indian Public Charter School II. The schools reported a total enrollment of almost 500 students during the 2010-2011 school year; in that year, reports to the California Department of Education indicated that almost 70 percent of the students were Asian, 18 percent were Hispanic and 1 percent were American Indian. For the past few years, the schools have had consistently high Academic Performance Index scores, which measure a school’s yearly progress and determine federal funding. During the 2009-2010 school year, American Indian Public Charter School had an API of 988, the highest of all the schools in the state.

The district’s review of the school’s operations began in 2011, when it was given information from a confidential source regarding “improper financial dealings” at the AIMS schools, Flint said. Early this year, the Alameda County Office of Education requested that the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) audit the AIMS schools. The audit was released this June. According to the audit, the study team found evidence of problems, including conflicts of interest in awarding school contracts, inappropriate credit card charges made by school officials, and a lack of documentation for decisions made by the schools’ board members in their meetings. 

This September, the district issued a “notice of violations” to the schools based on that audit, as well as public records and previous correspondence between OUSD and AIMS board members. The AIMS administration was given 60 days to provide documentation that the FCMAT auditors said had been missing when they compiled their June report. AIMS administration members were also required to provide a written response to the OUSD, including an explanation or defense against the notice’s accusations, and a plan for remedial measures.  This is the written response the district has just received.

At a heavily-attended September 27 school board meeting, when OUSD formally gave AIMS the notice of violations, board members emphasized that the notice did not mean they would close the schools, something that concerned AIMS schools parents in attendance.    But if this new AIMS response proves unsatisfactory, officials made clear, OUSD could begin the process of revoking the schools’ charters.

Some of the central allegations in the district’s notice focus on financial transactions involving Ben Chavis, the founder of two of the AIMS schools and the former director of all three.  The notice asserts that Chavis and his wife, Marsha Amador, collected almost $4 million from contracts made between the AIMS schools and Chavis’ businesses, including lease agreements, storage agreements and construction contracts—upgrading restroom facilities in 2006 and 2007—for the schools.

According to the notice, though the AIMS school board approved the contracts, there is no indication that they were aware of the money Chavis and his spouse would make from their businesses, including Lumbee Holdings and American Delivery Systems. Since state laws prohibit public officials, officers and employees from engaging in a contract in which they have a financial interest, Chavis’ membership on the AIMS board and the AIMS contracts that financially benefited him appear to be conflicts of interest, according to the FCMAT audit report.

The report also concluded that school funds had been used for personal reasons by Chavis. The study team requested documentation for credit card charges totaling over $72,602.28. According to the report, among the purchases without proper documentation were charges for almost $6,000 on Amazon, over $750 at Home Depot and almost $300 for San Francisco Giants tickets.

The notice of violations and the FCMAT audit report also included complaints about the recording of the school’s board minutes and the lack of details in board meeting reports. For example, the audit report states that “the board approved a maximum of $500,000 to be spent on construction, but there was no discussion of the projects to be completed, timeliness, funding sources or the selection of contractors. Bidding, quotations and requests for proposals were never discussed or considered.”

Board meetings were not held in accordance to schedules, and board minutes and agendas were not available for the FCMAT study team, the OUSD report stated. The district’s report also said Chavis had reported that all board minutes and agendas were stolen from the schools’ business office.

Perhaps more troubling was the OUSD report’s recap of previous notices of concern given to the AIMS board. The first, issued in November 2011, addressed concerns about an apparent lack of teacher credentials and the rapid expansion of the AIMS middle school, American Indian Public Charter School II, beyond 200 students, as first planned in its charter. The second, in January 2012, addressed complaints that OUSD said it had received from anonymous sources about “serious allegations of sexual harassment and verbal or physical abuse of students,” according to the OUSD report. These include a complaint about a staff member kissing a 14-year-old female student, and a sexual harassment complaint filed against Chavis in 2011.

In its January 2012 notice of concern, the OUSD asked the AIMS board to provide all reports of complaints over the past three years. Flint also said the district’s entire report had been sent to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, as required by FCMAT guidelines.

Flint was not able to speak about the content of the AIMS board’s Monday response yet; he said a summary of the response will be available to the public after OUSD members have been able to read it. Ben Chavis, current AIMS director Jason Chu, and the schools’ attorney did not respond to repeated requests for comments.

One of the teachers at an AIMS school said the staff had been working hard to prepare the school’s response. Ryan Young, an eighth grade teacher at AIPCS II, said a few teachers were asked to help create the response. “A lot of the stuff they said we don’t have, we do actually have,” he said.  “We’ve been spending several hours every night for the past month and a half basically compiling spreadsheets of documentation.”

Parents of AIMS students have been worried about the schools closing since they were given notices of concern by the OUSD in late 2011, said parent Aster Zeriezghi. “This is one of the few schools where kids in eighth or ninth grade are already thinking about college,” she said. “We don’t want to send our kids to any other school in Oakland.”

Flint said the AIMS response will be discussed at the next school board meeting, which will be held on December 12.

By Nausheen Husain

Posted November 29, 2012 11:00 am

Additional reporting for this story was done by Lauren Kawana.

Read the entire OUSD notice of violations report here. (Click on “12-2557 Notice of Violation – Named Schools.”)  The FCMAT audit report is included, on pages 946 to 1,001

https://oaklandnorth.net/2012/11/29/american-indian-model-schools-file-response-to-allegations-of-financial-organizational-misconduct/

MDUSD Board President asks CCCBOE to return Clayton Valley Charter HS to the MDUSD.

Mt. Diablo Unified School District Governing Board President, Cheryl Hansen asks the Contra Costa County Board of Education to return Clayton Valley Charter High School to the MDUSD due to the “corrupt and dysfunctional CVCHS Governing Board and Administration”.

Letter From Cheryl Hanson to MDUSD Page 1 2-25-15 Letter From Cheryl Hanson to MDUSD Page 2 2-25-15

A letter from CV’s most recent staff resignation

Jennifer Ferrari Letter

“A letter from CV’s most recent staff resignation”

I worked for the MDUSD for 20+years. 4 years ago, I started working at Clayton Valley knowing the school was trying to go Charter. It was a very exciting time. It was also scary leaving a place I’ve known for so long but I took a leap of faith and went with the Charter.

Things changed for me once the office staff was reorganized. We were being micro managed and a once happy staff working together was now divided and unhappy. I’m not going to speak about Mr. Linzey, although I could. Working outside his office I have seen and heard a lot. I work in a TOXIC work environment. I felt I was harassed and bullied out of that school. My co-work/member of our Board posted on Facebook, “if you don’t like it then leave”. I can tell you it was very hard for me to make this decision to leave CVCHS. I kept hoping things would get better. Unfortunately, for me it only got worse. Working in the front office where it was known I was on the side of the teachers, the students and wasn’t going to give in, was painful to go to work. I felt I was being harassed. I didn’t know when the next time I would get written up or accused of doing something wrong. There were a lot of anonymous things being reported about me. A he said/ she said with no names. I felt I had to watch what I did all day long. I had to keep a log of what and when I was doing things. I had anxiety of what I was going to get accused of next. To keep my sanity and health I had to leave.

It angers me and saddens me that people on the “I support Clayton valley charter” page and other community members don’t believe us… The staff that work there. (I was even blocked from their page.) We know what kind of environment it is. WE ARE LEAVING. It shouldn’t be if you don’t like it leave. It shouldn’t be teachers are a dime a dozen. It shouldn’t be a handful of disgruntled employees or this is all because of Pat Middendorf. People commenting on these sites don’t even attend the board meetings. Although at this point, I don’t know if it matters. The 15 members from the I support Clayton Valley Charter page come to the last 2 board meetings and they don’t listen or see what’s going on. They are blinded by Mr. Linzey. They are not listening to the teachers who signed the no vote in confidence against Mr. Linzey. They are not listening to the almost 600 people who signed the petition asking Mr. Linzey to resign.

It’s unbelievable to me what goes on at the board meetings. I don’t understand why they won’t do the right thing. How do they fire Matthew Rosso before Thanksgiving in a special election in which was put together so quietly over break most couldn’t attend, how are the elections mishandled, how the F was Bud Beemer not seated on the board. And now it’s all the Board Members against Amber Lineweaver. WE THE STAFF SHOULD HAVE A VOICE. WE THE COMMUNITY AS PARENTS SHOULD HAVE A VOICE.

I welcome the CCCOE and DA. It’s too late for me and the ones that have already left. Not sure how long others can hold out in this unhealthy work environment. I feel bad for the kids who lose their teacher mid-year but as a parent, could you imagine your child growing up and working in this environment? Surely you can listen to the teachers and staff who are imploring everyone to do the right thing. I can tell you working in the education field for 24 years, it is NOT normal for this many teachers and staff to leave mid-year…

The next Board meeting is March 11. I hope to see you there.

# savecvchs .

Jennifer Ferrari
February 15, 2015

COMMENTS:
Allison Wintery: I’m so sorry Jenn. CVCHS’ loss is MDUSD’s gain. #SaveCVCHS indeed.
15 February at 13:25 · Like · 3

Maria Bekakis: Thank you Jenn for stating correct facts. I am truly sorry you are leaving.
15 February at 13:31 · Like · 3

Kristi Ramey Buchholz: So thankful for your words here Jenn, we will miss you so much!!!!!
15 February at 13:44 · Like · 2

Shannon Brandt: Thanks for posting Jenn. The “I support” page blocking employees of the school like yourself says all you need to know about that page.
15 February at 13:59 · Like · 5

Karley Bohner: I’m so sorry.
15 February at 14:04 · Like · 1

Sharon Garcia Degener: Jenn, thank you. I hope that your honesty and perspective will help open up our community’s eyes. You will be missed.
15 February at 14:36 · Like · 4

Jaime Jimno-Lynch: Such a bummer! I will miss knowing you are working where my kiddos go to school. Good luck on your new adventure!
15 February at 14:40 · Like · 1

Becky Feeney Heindel: Sorry you had to leave a job that you once loved and hoped to stay at for a long time. Welcome back to MDUSD where you won’t get bullied and written up every day!
15 February at 15:09 · Like · 5

Amber Lineweaver: Love you Jenn.
15 February at 15:43 · Like · 4

Lisa Hamilton: Sorry you’ve had to go through all this Jenn. 
15 February at 17:11 · Like · 1

Pat Middendorf: So sorry Jenn. I really hate this!
15 February at 18:43 · Like · 3

Michele Neys Hill: Thank you Jenn for stating the facts. I can’t understand why some people don’t believe what’s going on. Good luck at your new job, I know you will be loved and appreciated there.
15 February at 19:21 · Like · 5

Maggie Wise: Wow, wow, wow!
15 February at 19:23 · Like

Jeanne Klenow Costello: I admire your courage to speak about your experience. No one should have to go through that. We’ll miss you!!!
15 February at 19:34 · Like · 3

Cheryl Schaefer: BRAVO, brave friend!
15 February at 22:36 · Like

Debra Elizabeth Gonsalves: Spoken like a true soldier!! You did the right thing. Best of luck. We DO believe you.
22 hrs · Like · 1

Susan Oksenendler: Jenn, you will be missed! I always enjoyed working with you.
2 hrs · Like

CVCHS Will Not Provide Detailed Breakdowns of Legal Expenses

A public record request was sent to CVCHS Governing Board President Ted Meriam asking for detailed breakdowns of legal expenses paid to Young, Minney & Corr LLP and the response was that there were “no public records responsive to the request.”

T Meriam re response to PRA request 020615

T Meriam re response to PRA request 020615_Page_1T Meriam re response to PRA request 020615_Page_2

Clayton Valley Charter High Under Investigation

Clayton Valley Charter High Under Investigation

Clayton Valley Charter High under investigation

By Theresa Harrington tharrington@bayareanewsgroup

POSTED:   02/09/2015 05:10:28 PM PST0 COMMENTS| UPDATED:   ABOUT 17 HOURS AGO

CONCORD — The Contra Costa County district attorney and the County Office of Education are investigating allegations that the Clayton Valley Charter High school board violated the state’s open meeting law.

In a December 22 letter to the chairman of the charter school’s governing board, District Attorney Mark Peterson revealed that he was investigating complaints related to potential violations of the Brown Act, or open meeting law, by the board of trustees.

The district attorney asked how the board disclosed to the public what it planned to discuss at meetings; and how particular discussions were handled by the board, including an investigation of two board members that allegedly led one to resign, a meeting regarding the extension of the executive director’s contract, and a closed session regarding an employee’s termination.

Steve Moawad, senior deputy district attorney, confirmed in an email that his office sent the Brown Act inquiry.

“The school has provided a response which my office is evaluating,” he said. “I cannot discuss the inquiry in further detail.”

Also, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata sent a letter last week to David Linzey, executive director of Clayton Valley High, seeking public records related to 13 areas of the school and board’s operations. These included board agendas and minutes, complaint procedures, investigative reports, settlement agreements, employment agreements, vendor contracts, board member documents, government agency filings, and conflict of interest statements from the school staff and board. Sakata said Monday that her office, which authorizes the school’s charter, has asked legal counsel from Dannis Woliver Kelly to investigate more than two dozen complaints received over the past few months.

“We’re waiting to see the results of the investigation and we’ll act upon it depending on what the recommendation is,” she said. “There might be suggestions for corrections so they can improve their process. But at this point, it’s too early to know.”

Linzey said Monday that the school’s “attorneys assure us that we haven’t done anything inappropriate.”

Ted Meriam, chairman of Clayton Valley’s governing board, said the school was cooperating with both agencies and that it complied with the Brown Act.

The letters come on the heels of a Change.org petition posted by a group calling itself Stakeholders for Transparency, which has gathered more than 500 supporters seeking Linzey’s ouster. In addition, some members of the school’s faculty have voted no confidence in Linzey.

“I believe what is happening at Clayton Valley has escalated into an investigation-worthy situation because the governing board and Dave Linzey refuse to listen to teachers, parents, students and community members,” teacher board representative Amber Lineweaver said in an e-mail. “Our charter was created and written in such a way as to avoid unilateral decision-making and top-down management. The investigation gives me hope that a resolution is in sight.”

But Meriam said the board stands behind Linzey’s leadership and has extended his contract for three years. He alleged that the stakeholder’s group has exaggerated issues at the school.

“I see this more as a public relations concern than a governance concern,” he said. “There are wonderful things we’re doing on a daily basis for our students.”

To improve communications, Meriam said Linzey and his administrators have begun meeting with teachers during “lunch and learn” discussions. The school has also created a Charting the Future for our Children Facebook page providing opportunities for questions and answers, he said.

MORE INFORMATION: Copies of the letters from the district attorney and county superintendent are available at www.contracostatimes.com/education.
Information regarding the “Stakeholders for Transparency” group is available atwww.facebook.com/CVCHSStakeholders.
The Clayton Valley Charter High governing board will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the school’s multiuse room at 1101 Alberta Way, Concord. More information is at www.claytonvalley.org. Click on Governance, then select Agendas and Minutes, then 2015, then Feb. 11.

Office Of The District Attorney – Contra Costa County Investigates Possible Brown Act Violations at CVCHS

Clayton Valley Charter High School is IMPLODING!

  • The Contra Costa County District Attorney is Investigating Executive Director David Linzey and the CVCHS Executive Governing Board.
  • Teachers and staff are leaving with students being taught by substitutes and un-credentialed teachers.
  • And to make matters WORSE the Contra Costa County Board of Education has become so ALARMED they are conducting their own investigation.

Letter From CCC District Attorney to CVCHS Jan 2015 Continue reading