Tag Archives: Contra Costa Times

CVCHS Administration and Board have no interest in collaborating with concerned students or community members.

https://www.suggestionox.com/r/cvchs

Contrary to their claims, the CV administration and Board really have no interest in collaborating with concerned students or community members. At the Board meeting ex-Board member Mike Fine set up, at his own expense, an anonymous suggestion website to help facilitate better communication between the school and the community. Less than 24 hours later, Mike Fine posted this:

Clayton Valley Charter High School Anonymous Suggestion Box

***** IMPORTANT NOTE: At 7:58am Thursday, September 15, 2016, after only five suggestions had been submitted via this site (four of which were serious, one of which was not), I received the following email from a support rep at Suggestion Ox: “We had a request from some folks at Clayton Valley Charter School not to receive emails via Suggestion Ox. To honor their request, we’ve removed those email addresses from the Additional Recipients section for your box.” Because of this, submissions will no longer go directly to the Executive Director, Principal, and Governing Board. Frankly, I find it appalling that someone at the school or on the Board actively decided to REJECT hearing from administrators, teachers, students and others. At this point, I personally will forward suggestions to these people and others as I see fit. *****

9/14/16 CVCHS Governing Board Meeting Narrative

Clayton Valley Charter High School
September 14, 2016
Governing Board Meeting Narrative

The CVCHS board meeting started shortly after 6:00pm. The audience appeared to be made up of 150+ unhappy students, teachers, parents, and community members. There also appeared to be several happy Executive Director Linzey supporters in the front row. The meeting began with Chairperson Ted Meriam giving the audience instructions on proper behavior at a board meeting. He then called on members of the audience who had filled out a speaking card to come up and speak for their exact allotted speaking time of either 2 or 3 minutes. There were over a dozen speakers with all but one expressing their concerns about the executive director, the school board, the flight of teachers and staff, and the unexplained budget.

While memorializing the teachers that had touched their lives so profoundly, teachers who had each in turn fled the charter, the emotionally charged students begged the board members to listen to them. It appeared as though the entire leadership class of the school was in attendance. One after another they went to the speaking podium and poured out their feelings of frustration at the disappearance of their teachers, their counselors, and the staff that supported and mentored them. Some of those students were not only saddened by loss, but were also angry that nothing was being done to stop the landslide of disappearing staff. Another teacher had resigned that week, following dozens before her. Each student was loudly cheered by the audience for their heartfelt speeches, and as the room became more on edge, one very brave student stood up and with an air of confidence and resolve called on the board to wake up and solve the problem. Over and over again she pointed out that the problems at the school lead back to the executive director. She then looked at Executive Director Dave Linzey and asked him to resign. Of course the room erupted in cheers. The audience was with her.

One notable speaker pointed out the strange shifting of money in the budget from last year and the 11 million dollar surplus that could be used for students, but it appeared that it was being stockpiled for some unknown future use. Another speaker also pointed to the lack of detail in the budget and stated that she has tried numerous times to request explanations from the administration. This person is a respected, hard working elected board member of the Athletic Booster Board and was recently asked to resign by the athletic director, noting her unwelcome inquiries and negative comments about the administration. He told her if she didn’t resign the athletic booster club would be effectively shut down and kept from operating on campus.

After the students finished their impassioned speeches, but before any agenda “business” began, the executive director showed how much he cared by condescendingly giving the students “permission” to leave the meeting to go do their homework. The students looked around incredulously and stayed in their seats.

The board chair then gave a lengthy speech about how the Board has no say in, and cannot address personnel issues. He left out, however, the fact the Board does in fact have one personnel responsibility—to oversee, hire, and fire the Executive Director.

The board continued and as usual there were no comments about anything, no questions to the executive director, no promise to look into the issues, no questioning of the budget that no one in the room appeared to have a copy of. The board gave the appearance of puppets on a string bobbing their heads yes to everything the executive director proposed. There was no discussion of any item and no board business conducted at any time. A seemingly endless list of new hires was announced, some very obviously causing a controversy afterwards. Not one of the new staff, not even the new administrators were at the meeting to be introduced. Mr. Linzey stated that he would be visiting the leadership class the next day. The meeting was adjourned by 7:30pm.

Many people milled around talking after the meeting was over. A board member came down and chastised the students for their behavior. Another staff member from the school did the same. The parents also seemed incredulous that not even a single word was uttered by board members that gave them any indication that they recognized the problem and they would look into it. Parents wondered what they could do next. What can they do? This is a charter run by one person with no apparent oversight by anyone. One group already tried and where are they now? Retaliation is an often repeated word. Speaking up can have life time consequences. Good luck to the amazing students who spoke at the meeting and to all the students and parents who came to support them. Hopefully they will find the answer.

 

Neil McChesney Bills CVCHS For Consulting Work

Neil McChesney Resignation Letter 3-2-15

FINAL CVCHS Closeout Report-Conflicts of Interest

According to a declaration made by Neil McChesney in a letter addressed to CVCHS, “I left (CVCHS) on or about March 2, 2015 to pursue other interests, notably creation of a performing arts charter school”.  Mr. McChesney continued to receive monthly payments, totaling $9,600.00 from Clayton Valley Charter High School between April 1, 2015 and August 1, 2015 for “consulting work.”

What exactly is Mr. McChesney doing for Clayton Valley Charter High School, besides receiving money that could be spent on the students’ education?  Stakeholders for Transparency has requested a contract describing his duties, but have been told that the school needs extra time to “search for and collect” the requested information.

We are especially concerned because McChesney has been working to open the School of Performing Arts (SPA), and in the Contra Cost County Board of Education’s final report, “CVCHS provided the requested written confirmation that no funds were provided to the SPA Charter” and “provided the requested copy of its annual budget, showing no funds have or will be transferred from CVCHS to the SPA Charter.”  (Final CCCBOE Report, page 4 –   presented at the Jan. 13, 2016 Board Meeting).

 

The lesson from a California’s charter school: Strict transparency needed

http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_29009787/thomas-peele-watchdog-column-lesson-from-californias-charter

By Thomas Peele, tpeele@bayareanewsgroup.com © Copyright 2015, Bay Area News Group

In 2011, Lassen County’s district attorney requested a still-unanswered opinion by the state attorney general on whether California’s Public Records, Brown and Fair Political Practices acts apply to public charter schools.

It came after former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation requiring charter schools to comply with those laws in 2010. Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown, who’s anti-transparency and pro-charter, killed another attempt.

Assembly member Mike Gipson, D-Los Angeles, has introduced a similar bill. But Brown remains governor.

Charter schools pull students and money from public school districts where these laws apply, spending tens of millions of dollars across California, sometimes with nebulous — or worse — results.

The state Charter School Association urges members to generally comply with the laws, but it’s also lobbied Attorney General Kamala Harris’ staff to opine that they don’t apply. Harris should finally and forcefully reject those arguments. While the opinions are nonbinding, they’re influential and cited often.

My children attended the Urban Montessori Charter School in East Oakland for a year, an Alameda County Board of Education charter. The kids, now schooling elsewhere, weren’t the only ones obtaining an education there. My year as a charter-school parent provided a vivid lesson in why they require sunlight’s constant disinfectant.

Urban struggled with the Brown and Public Records acts; its board’s inability to fully grasp transparent governance was appalling. This became apparent when it fired the head of the school by not renewing her contract.

The meeting agenda where that occurred was barren of facts, listing only a routine job review, not a critical decision on whether to retain her. I asked questions and two days later met with very nervous board members, former Oakland schools official Hae-Sin Thomas and then board co-chair Randy Weiner. They lacked good answers. They also said they knew who the new administrator would be, even though there’d been no meeting about that yet.

“We hope you were impressed with us,” Weiner said oddly as we parted. I wasn’t.

The replacement, David Castillo, had recently resigned from Urban’s board. Like Thomas, he was an active member of the charter-school movement. They considered no one else. His hiring stunk of cronyism.

Then the board tried to approve Castillo’s contract at a special meeting, an action banned under the Brown Act’s post Bell-scandal reforms. I objected; the vote was aborted.

I checked the board’s Statements of Economic Interest. Most absurdly claimed no income or assets. A few Googles and emails later, board co-chairs Weiner and Tony Emerson filed amended forms identifying jobs and holdings.

These forms aren’t hard. Read instructions. Be honest. Err toward disclosure. This doesn’t qualify one for NASA. Failing to do so raises this question: If they can’t get simple disclosure right, what else is amiss? Well …

A board member, Peter Laub, was vice president of a firm, Ed Tech, that provides financial services to charter schools, Urban included. The conflict of interest was obvious, festering for two years. Laub resigned his seat; the company remained.

The board took macro views of shaky finances. It didn’t vote on bills. Members didn’t know employee salaries, or where money went on a daily basis. Bills and credit card receipts showed fat balances, accruing interest and sometimes late charges.

I’ve spent what seems like a lifetime sifting through government financial records. I’ve never quite seen a mess like Urban’s. Fraternities with unlimited credit would keep better records.

Castillo spent generously on meals. Text messages he and Thomas exchanged didn’t focus as much on education as on paying for booze at a staff party. Thomas rejected using school money for alcohol. Urban barely paid bills, and parents bought basic supplies. Yet its chief argued for party cash. (Full disclosure, I still owe Urban a small amount of money for after-school care.)

But it was my kids’ school. I volunteered for a transparency committee. It accomplished little. In July, I found that the board held a special meeting at 7:30 a.m. at Thomas’ home to renew Castillo’s contract. I forced a public revote. Given the board’s try at the same shady move just months earlier, members clearly cared not to change. I resigned.

Urban released documents under the Public Records Act showing its faults. Texts. Emails. Bills. Receipts. But Harris’ opinion writers would be foolish to think disclosure’s the charter-school norm, and this issue has landed on the dimwit side of Brown’s brain.

The last thing Harris should do is enable public funds to pour into ratholes without accountability.

Thomas Peele is an investigative reporter for this newspaper and teaches classes on public records at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him atTwitter.com/Thomas_peele.

High drama as Oakland charter school cuts ties with unsavory past

OAKLAND — In the 2½ years since American Indian Model Schools leader Ben Chavis left after a state audit showed he directed at least $3.8 million from the school to companies he owned, the school has paid him an additional $8.6 million to use his buildings.

Now, new leaders at the high-performing charter school are attempting to get out from under Chavis’ shadow by moving out of two classroom buildings and an office he rents to the school on 35th Avenue for $46,000 a month and by orchestrating the removal of three board members.

But the impending changes have caused turmoil at the school, including student walkouts over school board politics, a restraining order against a former board member, police intervention at a school board meeting, and teacher and staff turnover.

CCT Oakland American Charter

Maya Woods-Cadiz, new superintendent of the American Indian Public Charter Schools, stands in a hallway of the Middle School building at the East Oakland campus in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, May 14, 2015. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

“We are trying to separate the school from Chavis,” school board President Steven Leung said. “The school district would like to see us not be associated with him. I think we’re in good hands.”

Founded in 1996 and currently serving about 1,000 students, the American Indian Model Schools have established a strong record of academic success with a strict, test-oriented approach but have struggled in recent years with allegations of mismanagement and fraud.

Last year, the school paid Chavis $7.5 million to buy a building that houses a K-8 campus on 12th Street in downtown Oakland. Leung said the school had no choice but to buy because it didn’t have anywhere else to go at the time.

An investigation and finding by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights that the 35th Avenue campus does not meet disability access requirements, coupled with a stalemate over who would make repairs, prompted plans to move from that facility.

SAVING MONEY

New Superintendent Maya Woods-Cadiz, a former Oakland school district principal and administrator, and Leung hope that by moving 300 high school students to the 12th Street building and by moving 150 middle school students to Oakland’s Bella Vista Elementary school for rent of just $38,000 a year, they can save money and fix their disability access problem without having to continue hounding Chavis to make repairs.

“Mr. Chavis has known about the conditions at that school for quite some time, but he doesn’t want to fix it,” Leung said. “The Office for Civil Rights has asked us to either fix it or move. We’ve sent multiple notices to Mr. Chavis.”

But Chavis, who is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation by the IRS and FBI relating to his financial dealings with the school, called Leung’s comments about his refusal to make repairs at the school a “damn lie” and referred to Woods-Cadiz as a “(expletive) loser.”

Chavis, who lives in North Carolina, said he never received any notice from the school’s lawyers asking him to make disability access repairs. He also acknowledged the rent at the 35th Avenue campus is high.

“I did charge them high rent, but when I was there I gave it all back so I could send the illegals to college,” Chavis said. “I did work the system, but then I took my salary and donated it back to the school. If I’m a crook, we need more crooks, it sounds like to me.”

The former AIMS leader said moving the 35th Avenue high school students to the school’s 12th Street building and putting the middle school students at Bella Vista is “a stupid idea” because they will lose a gymnasium in his building and there won’t be enough room for the high school students at the 12th Street building.

Leung and Woods said moving out of the campus will help the school move on from Chavis.

There is “no more Mr. Chavis, and we have a really strong board now,” Woods-Cadiz said.

POST-CHAVIS

The school originally was primarily oriented toward American Indians. Chavis was hired in 2001, and soon after the student demographic started to change to a broader community.

For the next 10 years, the school’s academic performance soared and it attracted more mostly low-income students of other ethnicities, but by 2012, things started to go wrong. An investigation by the state Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team reported finding evidence of fraud, misappropriation of funds and conflicts of interest. The investigation found that from 2007 to 2011, Chavis had directed $3.8 million from the school to companies he owned for contracts not approved by the school board.

In 2013, the Oakland Unified School District yanked the school’s charter and Chavis stepped down. After Chavis left, the school fought back in court and won reinstatement of its charter last year.

Under Woods-Cadiz, the charter school has seen many changes, including the planned move of the 35th Avenue campus, the removal of one school board member, the resignation of two others and the firing of a beloved physical education teacher — all of which has led to increased tensions at the school. Students have walked out of classes four times since March 24, when the school board ousted one of its members, Nedir Bey. Bey became a board member in 2012 after Chavis left the school, Chavis said.

Bey, who does not have any children at the school, came on campus April 20 and started yelling at staff, according to legal documents related to a restraining order against him. He returned on April 21 to a school board meeting and incited the crowd against Woods-Cadiz and board members in a way that “created the potential of physical harm and actual emotional harm,” an initial petition for the restraining order said.

“We had to call the police because the meeting got very disruptive and unsafe,” Woods-Cadiz said.

On advice of the school’s lawyer, she declined to talk about the events leading to the restraining order. The school’s attorney did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The restraining order protects Woods-Cadiz and 11 administrators and school board members from Bey. He is ordered not to harass, make violent threats, stalk, contact, come on campus or have any personal contact with those listed on the order.

“The reason we got the restraining order is for Ms. Woods-Cadiz’s safety and her family’s safety,” Leung said. “He also got involved with the operation of the school, meaning he was trying to go to the office and wanting to see files and not going through proper channels. There were other incidents where staff did not feel comfortable with him.”

The school also has hired a private security firm to make sure Bey does not come on campus.

Bey’s attorney, Chris Dobbins, a former Oakland Unified School Board member, said Bey denies the allegations in the restraining order. A hearing over the allegations to make the order permanent, throw it out or modify it could come in a couple of months, Dobbins said.

“There were no threats or harassment,” Dobbins said. “They also listed all the board members as being protected and there is no verification that Mr. Bey made any threats to them.”

Bey, a former associate of Your Black Muslim Bakery, was charged in 1994 with abducting and torturing a man who ran afoul of the bakery. He pleaded no contest to felony false imprisonment and served a home detention sentence. In 1996, Bey launched a failed health care company with more than $1.5 million of city money that he never repaid.

TURNOVER

Recent interviews with teachers and staff at the 35th Avenue campus reveal resentment and distrust over Woods-Cadiz’s changes and support for Bey. Woods-Cadiz blames Bey for the student walkouts.

Teacher Daniel Eng, who has worked at the school for nine years, is quitting at the end of the year. This year, he said, has been the worst, with the planned move of the campus, the changes on the board and the student walkouts.

“Leaving without a job to go to, this speaks volumes for me if I lasted through all the other stuff the last few years,” Eng said.

First-year teacher Cris Bautista, who teaches eighth-grade math, science, English and history at the school, replaced another teacher who quit in November, shortly after Woods-Cadiz arrived.

“It’s been hard to teach in this atmosphere, with the student walkouts and the administrative turnover,” Bautista said. “There are a lot of problems with the board and the administration, and it trickles down and it’s harmful to the students. Every day something crazy happens.”

By Doug Oakley doakley@bayareanewsgroup.com

http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_28181196/high-drama-oakland-charter-school-cuts-ties-unsavory

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.

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.”

 

Clayton Valley Charter High school leaders continue to struggle for unity

This is an excerpt from an article published by By Lou Fancher of the Contra Costa Times.  Here is a link to the full article.

http://www.contracostatimes.com/concord/ci_26650445/clayton-valley-charter-high-school-leaders-continue-struggle

In his article Mrs. Fancher reported on the continued conflict between the executive director, David Linzey, and the CVCHS faculty.

“Lineweaver said the interview on June 17 included discussion of complaints she had made about Linzey’s failure to respond to what she said were false, unsubstantiated complaints filed by a teacher against her. Lineweaver said the discussion was on her complaints about Linzey, but not about the complaints Linzey and the teacher made against her. A request to the school asking for clarification about the board’s decision to make portions — but not all — of the investigative report public, received the following response from Neil McChesney, director of Administrative Services.

‘Due to the nature of such matters, at this time we offer no public comment.'”