Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Newcomer Sawyer-White in top spot in Antioch School Board race, Gibson-Gray re-elected, Hack is back

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016
Sawyer-White from her campaign.

Sawyer-White from her campaign.

By Allen Payton

As the rest of the votes are still being counted by County Elections Division staff, as of Tuesday night’s results, in the Antioch School Board race challenger and newcomer Crystal Sawyer-White is barely in first place with 8,087 votes for 19.61% of the vote among the seven candidates seeking three seats. In second is incumbent Diane Gibson-Gray who appears to be re-elected for a third term with 7,511 votes for 18.22% of the vote and former school board member Gary Hack is in third place with 6,910 votes for 16.76%.

He’s ahead of fellow former school board member Joy Motts, who had 6,510 votes for 15.79% of the vote. Appointed incumbent Fernando Navarro came in a distant fifth place with 5,047 votes for 12.24%, followed by news site publisher Mike Burkholder in sixth with 4,109 votes and 9.19%, and the other appointed incumbent Alonzo Terry, placed last with 2,935 votes for 7.12% of the vote.

school-board-results-finalBoth Hack and Motts served on the board until each losing their re-election efforts in 2014. Both also applied for the appointments to fill board vacancies, last year and earlier this year, when Navarro and Terry were appointed, instead.

In a brief comment, Tuesday night, Sawyer-White wrote “Wow! I am so excited!”

“I would like to thank all my supporters, family and friends,” she stated on Wednesday. “I am humbled to be elected and looking forward to working with our Superintendent, Stephanie and all the board members. Let’s put our children first.”

Sawyer-White, Navarro and Terry were all backed by the California Charter Schools Association Advocates with independent expenditure financed mailers. Gibson-Gray, Hack and Motts were all supported by the Antioch Education Association, which is the local teachers’ union, which contributed directly to their campaigns, as well as paid for an independent expenditure mailer. The latter three also had the support of the California Schools Employees Association, which includes the district’s non-faculty staff, and the district’s management staff, which includes the principals. The management staff also supported Burkholder.

Neither Gibson-Gray nor Hack could be reached for comment prior to publication time.

According to County Clerk and Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla, the County Elections office still has approximately 180,000 votes to count in the county. They expect the next update to be provided Thursday afternoon and will be available on their website www.cocovote.us.

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Responding to anonymous criticism, community college board president says chancellor selection process was participatory, fair

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

By Allen Payton

An anonymous email on Tuesday morning, November 8th, with the signature line reading “Voiceless Employees of the Contra Costa Community College District,” took the Board of Governors to task for a “Lack of Transparency in Chancellor Selection Process,” as was written in the subject line of the email message. Board President Vicki Gordon disputes that.

The email message read as follows:

“To Whom it May Concern,

We write to you today sharing the voices of many within the Contra Costa Community College District whom believe the existing Contra Costa Community College District Board of Trustees has, with malicious intent, manipulated the recent search process that led to the selection of Dr. Fred Wood for Chancellor of the district.

The Board selected its own Board President, Vicki Gordon, to serve as chair of the search committee. Board policy (BP 2057) outlines that the Board is to appoint a chair of the committee, not to appoint itself as the chair of the committee. This unprecedented move to have a Board member, no less the sitting Board President, serve as the chair of the initial screening interview process and then as Chair of the final interview process eliminated the opportunity for district employees, through their representation on the search committee, to have a true voice in the process.

Board President Vicki Gordon then violated the intent and practice of the Brown Act, calling a special meeting of the Board to announce its decision, without providing the normal 72 hour public notification. While it is understood that Special Meetings are allowed with only one day’s notice, the rush to announce a selection was unnecessary, as a regular Board meeting is scheduled to take place on November 9th. Both Vicki Gorgon and Greg Enholm are up for re-election on November 8th.

The Board interviewed the final candidates and did not consult with the screening interview committee regarding the committee’s feedback on the finalists. These committee members all serve as representative voices of the various governance and labor groups within the district. Instead, the Board relied entirely on Board President Vicki Gordon’s account, whom again placed herself at both levels of the interview process, as Chair of the committees.

IF the Board had held a transparent evaluation of the final candidates, it would have become clear that there remained significant concerns about the qualifications of Dr. Wood:

- Dr. Wood has never worked within the California Community College system, except for a brief graduate teaching assignment over 30 years ago. Dr. Wood has never served in any post-graduate administration or faculty role within any community college.

- Dr. Wood has never served as a President of any community college.

- Dr. Wood currently serves as Chancellor, which is a President level position in California, at a rural four year institution in Minnesota that serves 1,800 students, 900 of which are online students. In comparison the Contra Costa Community College District serves over 50,000 students and has more employees than the institution Dr. Wood currently serves.

- Dr. Wood was forced out of his position as Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at UC Davis after the infamous pepper spray incident in 2011/12 and proceeding fall out, yet no reference or any background checks on this situation were conducted.

The Contra Costa Community College District, despite the incompetence of its current Board of Trustees, continues to be one of the most successful and well respected community college districts within California. It is appalling that the Board would manipulate the Chancellor selection process to hire an individual that should have never even been in consideration as a finalist. Dr. Wood may be a qualified leader in the world of four year higher education, but his experience is not a match for the needs and complexity of the Contra Costa Community College District.

Sincerely,
Voiceless Employees of the Contra Costa Community College District”

A message to the email address of origin from @guerrilamail.com, asking for the identity of the senders, did not receive a response. That’s because Guerrilla Mail is a “Disposal Temporary Email Address” as it describes itself. It offers the promotional message of, “Don’t want to give them your real email? Use a temporary email. No registration, lasts 60 mins. Protection from Spam.”

When reached for comment, Board President Vicki Gordon said, the college district has “participatory governance, which means everyone has the opportunity to participate, our students, our faculty and staff, the community and the process was really, really open.”

“The passage of AB1725 gives all constituent groups a role in the governance of higher education,” she explained. “I have been reaching out to all of the groups who are concerned and talking with them about the process. But reaching out has been taking longer than I thought.”

Asked if faculty and staff participated in the process, Gordon replied “They did.”

“We held public forums which were announced in local media,” she stated. “We had a search committee, following our policy, comprised of faculty and staff, and two college presidents, and community members. That got us to the three final candidates.”

“Each candidate participated in four forums. So we had 12 forums scheduled,” Gordon continued. “We also videotaped the forums at Contra Costa College and played those live and recorded them so people could go to the website and view them. And people did and made comments and we collected that input, as well.”

She said the Board did follow the state’s open meeting law, known as the Brown Act.

“As the Board President and Chair of the committee, I worked very hard to ensure inclusion, to ensure the process was true, ensure all voices were heard and that it was fair,” she stated. “I’m ecstatic with the results and happy with the Board. We had a difficult time making this decision. We talked about it extensively at the Board level. I’m very proud of our Board members for putting in the time and energy.”

“Dr. Fred Wood brings not only a new, fresh outside look, but a hometown view as well,” Gordon said of the new chancellor, who not only attended Diablo Valley College as a student, he graduated from College Park High School in Pleasant Hill. “He walked the path that many of our college students are following and working to accomplish. We look forward to having him on board, soon.”

Dr. Wood is expected to start his new position in January.

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Parents of Antioch students hear Rocketship charter school proposal, Thursday night

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016
(L to R) Delta Bay Church of Christ Pastor Lamont A. Francies, Rocketship Associate Director, Family Recruitment & Growth Nick Hunt, Rocketship Nashville Regional Director Shaka Mitchell, Rocketship Futuro Academy Principal Jason Colon, Rocketship Milwaukee Regional Director Brittany Kinser, Rocketship DC Regional Director Jacque Patterson, Rocketship Chief Growth and Community Engagement Officer Cheye Calvo, and Rocketship Bay Area Regional Director Marie Gil.

(L to R) Delta Bay Church of Christ Pastor Lamont A. Francies, Rocketship Associate Director, Family Recruitment & Growth Nick Hunt, Rocketship Nashville Regional Director Shaka Mitchell, Rocketship Futuro Academy Principal Jason Colon, Rocketship Milwaukee Regional Director Brittany Kinser, Rocketship DC Regional Director Jacque Patterson, Rocketship Chief Growth and Community Engagement Officer Cheye Calvo, and Rocketship Bay Area Regional Director Marie Gil.

Antioch School Board to hold required public hearing Wednesday night

On Thursday evening, November 3rd, eager parents and community supporters filled the seats of Delta Bay Church of Christ to hear from Rocketship Education about their application to open a new public charter school in Antioch. The event was organized by Antioch community members who are in pursuit of improving education in Antioch, and hosted by Dr. Lamont Francies, pastor of the church.  Regional directors from Rocketship schools in Milwaukee, Nashville and DC joined Marie Gil, Bay Area Regional Director to share perspectives on starting schools in new communities and serving a wider diversity of students.

Rocketship Education is a nonprofit organization that opened their first 10 schools in high-needs areas of San Jose and has since expanded to Concord, Redwood City, Nashville TN, Milwaukee WI, and Washington DC. Focusing exclusively on elementary education, Rocketship engages parents to become advocates for their children, inviting families into schools and making them active drivers of their children’s learning. Principal Jason Colon of the new school in Concord, Rocketship Futuro Academy, noted that he came to Rocketship five years ago to teach because he was “moved by the focus on parent engagement.” Mr. Colon says that he sees parent engagement at Rocketship “not as empowering parents, but it’s collaborating with them. Let them [parents] see that they have the fire and the ability to change the future for their kids.”

Parent engagement was a big focus of the questions from Antioch parents at the event. One community member, Arireanna Lombard, said that she’s heard a lot about engaging parents, but wants to know how Rocketship will actually do it as it can be hard to organize people.

Jacque Patterson, of Rocketship DC, said that the difference is that Rocketship shows up with and for parents, year-round, working with elected officials, instead of just every four years when candidates come to ask parents for votes.

“When kids are in classrooms, there’s not a whole lot of difference,” shared Shaka Mitchell, Regional Director for Rocketship Nashville. “We’re making sure all kids are getting exactly what they need at the right moment. We have to be sensitive to parents of different backgrounds having different relationships with the school. All of our faculty do home visits to meet our families where they’re at and where they are comfortable. We’re helping build the skills to be strong advocates in elementary school and beyond.”

Rocketship is also known for high achievement, with their Bay Area network of 10 schools ranking in the top 10% in both math and English Language Arts among all elementary school districts serving a similar student population across the state, on last year’s California assessment. These students also stay ahead, as once they graduate from Rocketship schools they are a year ahead of their classmates in math and reading, after the first and second years of middle school.

Pastor Francies welcomed Rocketship into his congregation, citing the need for quality schools in Antioch and his belief that, “there are some teachers who can’t teach, but there are no students who can’t learn.” According to Francies, Rocketship brings the opportunity for Antioch kids to experience high-quality, personalized learning that will prepare them for success later in life.

Gil began the meeting by introducing herself and sharing a bit of her story as a single mother in Antioch many years ago.

“To be able to come back to the families and children of Antioch is very meaningful,” she said, having eventually moved her family out of Antioch in search of better schools. Gil cited the power of parents as the driving force to demand better outcomes for their children as the reason for the interest in Rocketship in Antioch.

Parent questions and responses from the panel of school leaders covered Rocketship’s special education model and extended school day. Rocketship uses what’s called an inclusive model of special education, which means that children designated as having special needs spend 80 percent of their time in the classroom with their peers and the rest is personalized support by specialists. This specialized support level is decided upon in consultation with parents. Principal Colon promises that “we’ll collaborate and decide what’s best for your child.”

There was also a discussion of the many different language needs in Antioch, with Brittany Kinser, of Rocketship Milwaukee, noting that every meeting is translated into as many languages as parents need. Homework is also translated so that parents can work with their children.

Rocketship Education is proposing a free, public charter school in Antioch to offer elementary school beginning in the 2018-2019 school year.

“You shouldn’t have to dig deep into your pockets to get a good education,” said Shaka Mitchell.

The Public Hearing will be held on November 9, 2016 at Lone Tree Elementary School at 1931 Mokelumne Drive in Antioch, beginning at 7:00 PM in the Multi Use Room.

For more information about Rocketship Education, visit www.rsed.org.

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Subject of letter opposing Rocketship writes in response, claims it’s a defamatory smear

Saturday, November 5th, 2016

Dear Editor:

In an election year that has been notable more for wild hyperbole than substantive discussion, even our local races have not been immune from the kind of irresponsible and baseless rhetoric that has plagued those on the national stage.

One case in point. Last week an opinion article written under the byline Selina Button was posted by Mike Burkholder on his East County Today blog, and posted as a letter to the editor on the Antioch Herald news website. The article included false, defamatory, and possibly libelous statements about me, my wife, Argentina Davila-Luevano, and my friend, John Crowder.

The reason for her unwarranted attack? We were quoted in a press release by Rocketship Education as being in favor of their building a brand new, high-performing, elementary school in Antioch. Ms. Button characterized our positive comments as, “an effort to support their own personal financial gain.” She went on to ask, “Were they possibly promised a job by Rocketship?”

For the record, we have absolutely no gain, financial or otherwise, coming our way from Rocketship. Neither have we been offered jobs or anything else. In fact, the only thing we were promised was that people who want to maintain the failed status quo would likely try to smear anyone supporting their efforts…something I didn’t want to believe at the time.

Regardless, we stand by our support of Rocketship. As those who know us are aware, Argentina and I are long-time advocates for children, and particularly for children of color and/or those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. We see the addition of a Rocketship school as an important step in solving the problem of the horrifically underperforming schools in our city.

Unfortunately, It is clear that those who stand in the way of much-needed education reform in Antioch are willing to make false statements, to bully, and to try to mislead the public about a good organization, Rocketship, that truly has the best interests of our children at heart. They have shown that they are willing to use such unseemly tactics against Rocketship’s supporters, as well.

We’re not going to back down, though. We’ve fought for years for the rights of children. The right to a good education for all is too important for us to cave in. We urge everyone who realizes we need change to get the facts about Rocketship. Their model is working for students around the country. Let’s make sure they have the chance to bring this same success to Antioch’s students, as well.

Angel G. Luevano

Antioch

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Complaints filed, Friday against Antioch teachers union, Gibson-Gray, Motts over campaign finance reports; Motts responds with copy of on-time report

Friday, November 4th, 2016

By Allen Payton

Antioch School Board candidates Crystal Sawyer-White and Fernando Navarro, an appointed Board Trustee, filed complaints with the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), on Friday, against the Antioch Education Association (AEA) for not filing the required financial disclosure forms. Sawyer-White also filed a complaint for Board President Diane Gibson-Gray not filing her reports properly,

Complaints Against AEA

As a result of a Herald article about the campaign finances in the school board race for next Tuesday’s election, published on Thursday, in which it was revealed the AEA had not filed any financial forms for this election as required by state law, Sawyer-White complained to the agency, which oversees enforcement of the Political Reform Act.

Navarro filed a separate complaint with the FPPC about the AEA’s lack of financial disclosure.

The Antioch teachers union did not file required forms for either their contribution to former school board member Joy Motts’ campaign in the amount of $2,003, as reported in her 460 form, nor for the expenditure for a mailer supporting Motts, Gibson-Gray and former school board member Gary Hack.

Calls to Robert Strickler, President of the AEA asking him why the forms weren’t filed, or if they were, where were they filed and requesting a copy, as well as comments on the complaints, on Friday afternoon, were not returned by publication time.

Complaint Against Motts is Moot

Navarro also filed a complaint against Motts for not filing her required form 460 report for the period ending on October 22nd, which was due on October 27th. Attempts to reach both Motts and her campaign treasurer, former Antioch Mayor Don Freitas, on Thursday, asking if the report had been filed, if not why not and requesting a copy, if it had been, were unsuccessful.

When reached for comment, Navarro stated he filed the complaints “because she hasn’t reported and I’d be interested what her donations would look like.”

“It’s about transparency,” he added. “Hopefully they’re not dragging their feet and playing out the clock right before the election.”

Navarro said in his complaint against the teachers union he wrote “that they’re not reporting their donations and for the mailer.”

“I would be interested in seeing how much they spent and the amounts they contributed to the candidates they endorsed multiple, multiple times,” he continued. “The public has a right to know.”

“If a check for $125 to my campaign makes a scandal and is such an outrage, I would like to see what amounts the others received,” Navarro added. “It’s the epitome of hypocrisy. At least I was being honest reporting the contributions I received.”

Just before 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Motts’ campaign manager, Cliff Glickman called and said that her 460 form was filed on time and then provide a copy of it for the Herald to post. He also said they don’t know why it hasn’t been posted on the county’s website.

When reached for comment about this latest information, Navarro responded by asking “Is it online? I’d like to see it. I’d like to see her donations. It’s only fair.”

Asked if once he saw a copy of Motts’ report, would he rescind his complaint, Navarro said, “Of course. I’m just making sure we’re all being transparent.”

Please see a copy of her report, here: motts-460-102216

County Clerk Explains

When reached for comment about why Motts’ 460 form was not on the County Elections office website, and if they were having a problem with the website, County Clerk Joe Canciamilla responded, “No.”

“Number one there’s nothing that requires us to post the reports on our website,” he explained. “We do that as a matter of convenience. They are available to see in our office. We’re trying to get everyone to file electronically.”

“I was actually in the lobby when she (Motts) and Diane Gibson-Gray came in to file and they were filing by paper, because their treasurers were having trouble filing online,” Canciamilla stated. “We’re just behind in scanning in the reports, because everyone is on election duty, right now.”

“We’ve been transitioning over to all electronic, so when people submit by paper, we have to go through a whole process to get them uploaded to the website,” he added. “We’re hoping to have them all up on the website, this weekend.”

Motts’ latest report was still not on the County Elections office website as of 7:00 p.m. Friday. Search the campaign finance disclosure portion of their website by clicking, here.

Complaint Against Gibson-Gray

The complaint Sawyer-White filed against Gibson-Gray was a result of the same Herald article. In that article it was revealed the school board president had improperly reported her expenditures, by either paying her husband Ken Gray, which is illegal, or reimbursing him in amounts more than $500 without disclosing who was actually the recipient of the campaign funds, as required by state law.

Gibson-Gray refused to answer questions emailed to her on Thursday asking if the expenditures were payments to her husband or reimbursements, and who was the recipient of the two expenditures over $500. A call to her campaign treasurer, Bob Martin asking the same questions on Friday, was not returned before publication time. She also did not respond to attempts to reach her for a comment on this article on Friday afternoon.

11/05/16 7:30 AM UPDATE: In a comment on this article, last night at 9:52 PM, Martin wrote, “The financial information listed on Gibson-Gray’s reports are correct to the best of my knowledge. Expenditures to Ken Gray were for reimbursement for actual expenses and not payment for any services. The two expense in excess of $500.00. One in the amount of $1,105.05 is itemized as follows: $485.05 to Bellici Designs for yard signs, $600.00 for an internet ad to ETC and $20.00 for zip ties. The second one in the amount of $650.00 was for print ads in the Bay Area News Group. I neglected to include Bellici Designs and Bay Area News Group as a sub-vendor. An amended report has been submitted.”

Attempts to reach Sawyer-White for comment were also unsuccessful.

According to Navarro, all four complaints were filed on the FPPC’s website. An email was sent to the FPPC after 5:00 p.m. on Friday asking for any information they can provide about the complaints. Calls will be made to the FPPC on Monday when they’re offices are open, again.

Check back later for updates to this report.

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Community College Board hires DVC alum, Dr. Fred Wood as new Chancellor for District, Friday morning

Friday, November 4th, 2016
Dr. Fred Wood

Dr. Fred Wood

The Contra Costa Community College District (District) Governing Board held a special public meeting on Friday, November 4, 2016, to announce they reached a unanimous decision to select Dr. Fred E. Wood as the next chancellor.

“All three finalists demonstrated strong leadership skills,” said Governing Board President Vicki Gordon.  “In the end, Dr. Wood was chosen because of his focus on student success, building programs and services to help community college students successfully transfer to a four-year institution, experience working collaboratively with business on career technical education, and successful fundraising abilities.”

The announcement was made following a nationwide search, that began in May 2016.  Potential candidates were reviewed and three finalists were selected to participate in public forums and final interviews this week.

Governing Board President Vicki Gordon recognized the dedication and work conducted by the Search Committee.

“In addition, we were also very pleased and want to thank the faculty, staff, managers, and community leaders who attended the public forums and provided input on the candidates.  Their feedback was important in making our decision.”

The District will begin negotiating the contract with Dr. Wood with the goal of placing the item on the December 14, 2016, Governing Board meeting agenda for review and approval.

“As a Diablo Valley College (DVC) alumni, I am humbled and extremely honored to be selected to serve as the next chancellor of the Contra Costa Community College District,” says Dr. Wood.  “My DVC experience changed my life, and I am living proof of the power and impact community colleges can make.  I am excited to work with my colleagues throughout the District to transform the lives of all our students who strive to achieve their higher educational goals with us.”

Wood presently serves as Chancellor at the University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC). UMC, which was a two-year technical college beginning in 1966 and transitioned to a baccalaureate granting institution in 1993, is a work-force focused campus of the U of M system of which half of the degree seeking students are on-campus students and the other half are on-line. UMC offers an experiential learning based curriculum where on-campus students are required to complete an internship and currently offers 14 degrees fully on-line.

Chancellor Wood joined UMC after a 26-year career at the University of California, Davis, where he served as vice chancellor of student affairs from 2007 to 2012, leading one of the largest student affairs portfolios in the nation. His career at UC Davis included other leadership positions, as well, such as interim vice provost for undergraduate studies and associate dean of the College of Letters and Science, while concurrently serving as a faculty member in chemistry.

He began both his college education and professional career at the community college. Prior to UC Davis, Dr. Wood was a faculty member at North Idaho College and his first teaching assignment during graduate school was at Diablo Valley College.

A first-generation college graduate, Chancellor Wood earned an A.A from Diablo Valley College, and B.S. and Ph.D. in chemistry from UC Davis. He is married and has three grown children. He enjoys hiking, biking and skiing with his family.

Wood will oversee the Contra Costa Community College District (CCCCD), which is one of the largest multi-college community college districts in California. The CCCCD serves a population of 1,019,640 people, and its boundaries encompass all but 48 of the 734-square-mile land area of Contra Costa County. The District is home to Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, as well as educational centers in Brentwood and San Ramon. The District headquarters is located in downtown Martinez.

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County Board of Education recognizes November as National Homeless Youth Awareness Month

Friday, November 4th, 2016

At the October 19th Board Meeting, the board approved a resolution to recognize and raise awareness of the issue of youth homelessness.  The goal of the resolution is to highlight the issue of youth homelessness within the county and our schools. Currently, Contra Costa County has over 3,000 children and youth living in homeless situations, as reported by the county school districts, charter schools and the Contra Costa Council on Homelessness. This includes children ages 0-5 and students in grades Kindergarten through 12.

In California, more than 298,000 youth up to the age of 18 experience homelessness each year. During November all students, schools and community members are encouraged to engage in discussions on this topic to raise awareness.

Below are some suggested activities for school sites:

  • Send a flyer home with students or create a display to inform students and families of homeless education rights and resources available at your school and in Contra Costa County.
  • Make a presentation to school teachers, staff and board members to raise awareness of homelessness in your community or school district.
  • Organize a food drive and donate to the local food bank or pantry.
  • Make a donation or volunteer at a local shelter.
  • Participate in Contra Costa Community Donation Day on November 19th.

The Contra Costa County Office of Education (Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program) coordinates the following:

  • Provides technical assistance regarding the proper identification, enrollment, and service needs of homeless students and their families.
  • Conducts professional development trainings for school personnel and community agencies regarding the rights and responsibilities of homeless students.
  • Educates students, parents and guardians on their educational rights, and promotes their participation in school-related activities.
  • Facilitates the school enrollment process to ensure equal access to educational services, free-or-reduced price meals, tutoring or other programs.
  • Assists unaccompanied youth with enrollment procedures, school placement options, and retrieval of records.
  • Provides assistance with transportation, backpacks, school supplies and clothing.
  • Provides medical, dental, and mental health referrals, in addition to other school/community services.
  • Provides assistance to specialized populations of homeless students, including pre-schoolers, homeless teen parents, children with special needs, and unaccompanied youth.

For more information, contact CCCOE’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth program at (925) 942-3300.

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Charter schools, teachers union, Motts are largest spenders in Antioch School Board race

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

Total union spending unknown; controversy over two $125 contributions by Rocketship board member; Motts continues lead in finances, 460 form turned in on-time; county website backlog

By Allen Payton

In the Antioch School Board race, in which only four candidates have raised and spent more than $2,000 on their campaigns, it’s been the California Charter Schools Association Advocates (CCSAA) and the local teachers’ union that have spent the most money.

Each side is supporting a slate of three candidates. The Charter Schools are supporting appointed Trustees Fernando Navarro and Alonzo Terry, and challenger Crystal Sawyer-White. The Antioch Education Association (AEA), the local teachers’ union is supporting Board President Diane Gibson-Gray and former school board members Joy Motts and Gary Hack.

Required campaign finance reports show the CCSAA has paid for mailers supporting their slate of candidates, spending $750 paid to a Chris Rylee on October 17th, $5,565.48 for printing also on the 17th, and $5,565.48 also for printing on October 21st. That brings their total reported expenditures to $11,880.96 for the race.

The total amount spent by the AEA’s Political Action Committee (ID# 1248555), has spent to support their slate of candidates is unknown at this time. The organization is identified as the one that paid for a mailer supporting Hack, Motts and Gibson-Gray, which arrived in mailboxes, this week. However, the California Secretary of State’s website shows no financial information for the AEA PAC for this year.

“This committee has not electronically filed a Form 460/461/450 for this election cycle,” is what is stated on the website.

All committees and campaigns are required to report contributions received or expenditures made of $1,000 or more within 24 hours of occurrence.

Candidate Finance Reports

Of the seven candidates in the race, only five have raised enough money to require they file a form 460 campaign finance report. Hack and Sawyer-White have not yet reached that threshold.

Motts

The AEA did contribute $2,003 directly to Joy Motts’ campaign according to a form 497 large contribution report she submitted. She also received a contribution of $1,000 from the Sheet Metals’ International Association Local No. 104.

11/04/16 8:30 PM UPDATE: There is no report on the County Elections office website for either the latest reporting period or the second half of last year. Attempts to reach both Motts and her campaign treasurer, former Antioch Mayor Don Freitas, on Thursday, asking if the report had been filed, if not why not and requesting a copy, if it had been, were unsuccessful.

However, just before 6:30 p.m. on Friday, October 4th, Motts’ campaign manager, Cliff Glickman called and said that her 460 form was filed on time and then provided a copy of it for the Herald to post. He said they don’t know why it hasn’t been posted on the county’s website.

Motts’ latest report shows she received $4,004 during the period, bringing her total to $10,597 for the year. Since she started the year with $1,522.30 in the bank that gave her a total of $12,119.30 to spend on her campaign.

Her largest contributions during the period were $1,500 from the AEA, which was included in the $2,003 amount reported on her 497 form; and $500 each from the Plumbing Industry Consumer Protection Fund United Assocation Local No. 159 and the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council.

Motts spent $4,216.90 during the period bringing her total expenditures to $11,131.47 for the campaign. Her largest expense was $2,500 for Cliff Glickman Communications in Walnut Creek and $844.75 for literature to Baseline Resources also in Walnut Creek. She had an ending cash balance of $987.83 at the end of the reporting period.

When reached for comment about Motts’ 460 form and why it isn’t on the county’s website, County Clerk Joe Canciamilla explained.

“I was actually in the lobby when she (Motts) and Diane Gibson-Gray came in to file and they were filing by paper, because their treasurers were having trouble filing online,” he stated. “We’re just behind in scanning in the reports, because everyone is on election duty, right now.”

“We’ve been transitioning over to all electronic, so when people submit by paper, we have to go through a whole process to get them uploaded to the website,” Canciamilla added. “We’re hoping to have them all up on the website, this weekend.”

Motts’ latest report was still not on the County Elections office website as of 7:00 p.m. Friday.

Gibson-Gray

The AEA also contributed $500 directly to Gibson-Gray’s campaign, which matched her largest contributions from Antioch resident Gloria Martin and former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan of Alamo.

She is in second for total funds raised as of the end of the latest reporting period on Saturday, October 22 with $6,844 raised including a $4,000 loan from herself. She has spent $2,430.82 on her campaign. For the reporting period she shows $1,609.76 paid to her husband, Ken Gray, for campaign paraphernalia, literature and a fundraiser.

Her report also shows $821.07 in unpaid bills, all to her husband for campaign literature and printing, and an ending cash balance of $5,234.24.

11/03/16 8:15 P.M. UPDATE: However, what Gibson-Gray did with her campaign’s payments to her husband might be illegal and at least one of the payments is in violation of campaign finance law.

In response to questions about Gibson-Gray reimbursing or paying her husband for campaign expenses, Jay Weirenga, the Communications Director for the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), wrote, “A committee is allowed to reimburse others for certain campaign expenditures. When reporting the reimbursements, the payee is listed (the spouse would be deemed the payee here) and the subvendor would also be reported if the payment was $500 or more.  There is more information on this on page 5.2 of Manual 2 and reporting rules in Chapter 8. (under the ‘learn’ tab on our website, then campaign manuals)

The above is related to reimbursing others for campaign expenses they made directly. However, Government Code Section 84307.5 prohibits paying a spouse for these services.”

Gibson-Gray was emailed questions about the payments to her husband for all her reportable expenses and who the funds actually went to at 3:09 P.M. on Thursday. But as of this update, she has not responded.

11/05/16 7:35 AM UPDATE: In a comment on another Herald article, last night at 9:52 PM, Martin wrote the following: “The financial information listed on Gibson-Gray’s reports are correct to the best of my knowledge. Expenditures to Ken Gray were for reimbursement for actual expenses and not payment for any services.

The two expense in excess of $500.00. One in the amount of $1,105.05 is itemized as follows: $485.05 to Bellici Designs for yard signs, $600.00 for an internet ad to ETC and $20.00 for zip ties. The second one in the amount of $650.00 was for print ads in the Bay Area News Group. I neglected to include Bellici Designs and Bay Area News Group as a sub-vendor. An amended report has been submitted.”

The financial information from her previous report were not included in the article about campaign finances of the Antioch School Board candidates for the reporting period which ended on September 24th, because it was submitted after the September 29th due date.

Burkholder

Mike Burkholder is in third place in fundraising for the campaign. His required form 460 financial disclosure report shows $3,785 in total contributions received by his campaign. Of that amount Burkholder loaned himself $2,035. His largest contribution was $700 from Strategic Threat Management. His campaign has spent a total of $3,687.57. His largest expenditure was $1,612.11 to Belleci Designs in Pittsburg for signs and $1,492 on three slate mailers with companies in Folsom and southern California.

Navarro

Navarro’s campaign report shows he’s in a close fourth place, having raised a total of $3,450 so far, of which $3,000 was from his own pocket. He has spent $3,420.76 on his campaign. His largest expenditures for this reporting period were $700 for advertising in the Herald, $517.76 for Fast Signs in Antioch and $400 to The Print Club, also in Antioch.

Terry

Terry’s latest report shows a zero balance in every column for contributions and expenditures. However, his previous 460 report showed he had received a total of $3,286 in contributions and and spent $3,046.07 on his campaign.

Contribution Controversy

On their previous finance reports for September 24th, both Navarro and Terry reported receiving a contribution of $125 each from Greg and Lisa Stanger, whose address on the checks is in Atherton, in San Mateo County. A controversy erupted on social media and in an article in another publication over the contributions, because it was discovered that Greg Stanger is a member of the Board of Directors for Rocketship Education, which has submitted a petition to locate a public charter school in Antioch.

A public hearing on the petition has been set for next Wednesday, November 9th and a final vote for Wednesday, December 7th. That means both Navarro and Terry will still be on the Board and be able to vote on the matter, regardless of the outcome of the elections, next Tuesday.

Terry Didn’t Know, Returned Money

“I didn’t know it was from Rocketship until Robert Strickland the teachers’ union president told me,” Terry said. “So, what I did was write a cashier’s check to the contributor and handed it to Robert and asked him to mail it back to him.”

That was done last Friday, October 28th.

“I was so upset,” Terry continued. “I was never accused of anything like this before, questioning my integrity. It was a personal check. It wasn’t a corporate check or anything.”

“I did it for the principle of it, not because it was illegal,” Terry added about refunding the contribution.

“I was just glad to get anything. I wasn’t getting too much financial support,” he said with a chuckle. “If it was $1,000 or $10,000 I would have questioned who is sending me this much. But it was $125.”

On Terry’s 460 form he reported Stanger as Self Employed. Asked how he knew Stanger was self-employed, Terry said he can’t remember how he obtained that information for the report he submitted in September.

Navarro Didn’t Know Either, Won’t Refund Money

Fernando Navarro said he didn’t know who the contributor was, either.

“This check came from an area where I do business,” he explained. “So, I really thought it was an individual contribution from my customers or friends of customers, who I’ve been telling I’m running for school board. They gave me a lot of encouragement, saying ‘go for it. I can’t vote for you but I support you.’ They’ve known me for years.”

Navarro said he first heard of it, two weeks ago, “but I thought they were talking about the independent mailings and I said I hadn’t received a dime from them.”

On his 460 report, Navarro disclosed he requested Stanger provide the information state law requires of contributors for political campaigns of $100 or more. That includes the contributor’s name and street address, as well as their “occupation and the name of his or her employer. If the contributor is self-employed, provide the name of his or her business. If the contributor is not employed, enter ‘none,’” according to the Form 460 financial disclosure report.

However, since Stanger is only a board member for Rocketship, if he had provided the required information, it wouldn’t show any affiliation with the private, non-profit charter school network. Furthermore, there’s no list of members on the page showing photos of the Board of Directors for Rocketship. It requires touching the cursor on each photo to reveal the name of the director.. http://www.rsed.org/meet-us.cfm Running an internet search on the Stangers produces the name of their charitable foundation. It’s only when a search for his name on LinkedIn does it show Greg Stanger’s position with Rocketship.

Asked if, now that he knows who Stanger is, he too would be refunding the contribution, Navarro responded with the following statement:

“Although I was not aware of any affiliations that my donors had, I do not think that this is an issue.

My campaign is about a very different vision for Antioch schools that focuses on the needs of families and students. I am standing up to the well-funded and entrenched establishment that is failing our students and is extremely resistant to change. My message is that parents know what is best for their children, and that all children deserve high quality educational options.  I’m proud of that idea, and I’m glad to hear that people who think the same way, without having even met me, are joining this cause and supporting this effort.

I consider joining the democratic process a very noble cause and encourage more people to get involved – by voting, putting up yard signs, and talking to their neighbors. Of course, running for office takes money, and it is great that people are willing to contribute financially. It is no secret that I’m running against a slate of candidates that is heavily supported by union employees, who have an interest in electing candidates that will view them favorably as we enter a multi-million-dollar contract negotiation with them.  That doesn’t work to my benefit, but I certainly don’t begrudge individuals on the other side their right as Americans to participate in the political process in this way.  That would be hypocritical.

Ultimately, the voters benefit by being able to hear all sides of the arguments.  Hopefully, the ideas I’m expressing will resonate with those going to the polls, and we’ll be able to bring the change necessary to provide much better educational opportunities for our children.”

Sawyer-White Falsely Accused

According to Sawyer-White, she was falsely accused on another website, of receiving a check from Stanger, as well.

When asked if she had received any contributions from the San Jose area or peninsula or anyone affiliated with Rocketship, Sawyer-White said, “No. I’ve been using my own personal money, and some small contributions from friends and family. It was less than $1,000.”

Please see below the reports received for the latest reporting period. The election is Tuesday, November 8th.

motts-460-102216

motts-497-092816

motts-497-aea-101216

gibson-gray-460-092416

gibson-gray-460-102216

burkholder-460-102216

navarro-460-102216

terry-460-102216

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