Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Judge rules against Antioch school district in Dozier-Libbey case

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

By John Crowder

Judge Laurel Brady issued her decision, on Thursday, May 1, 2014, following a hearing last Monday in a case filed by the petitioner teachers of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School (DLMHS) against the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD). In it, she affirms her tentative decision issued last Friday, granting the injunction requested by teachers at the school to prevent AUSD, et. al, “from converting anything related to Dozier-Libbey Medical School to the Dozier-Libbey Medical School, a dependent charter school, during the pendency of the action.”

In her decision, Judge Brady acknowledges both the novelty and complexity of the case, saying, “This is a unique situation and series of events with little case law or legislative history that is helpful. It is also not only an analysis of the statutory and case law that applies, but requires a careful review and analysis of the actions taken by the parties.”

As previously reported, the issue of whether or not the action taken by AUSD involved the conversion of a school to a charter, or if it was a start-up, as AUSD contended, was critical to the analysis conducted by Judge Brady. She said, “…if Respondants [AUSD], although labeling it a start up charter school, in fact created a conversion charter school, they did not fulfill the requirements of the statute and the Petitioners [DLMHS teachers] (are) likely to prevail.”

Judge Brady went on to note five actions taken by AUSD that she used to determine that AUSD had, “although labeling it as a start up charter school, really created a conversion charter school.” Her opinion reads, “The court noted the following:

  1. Respondants selected the same or very similar name for the new charter school as the existing school

  2. The new charter school was to be located in the same location/campus as the existing school.

  3. Respondants assigned the same school district code numbers for the school. (Logically, these codes would be different for a new start up school)

  4. Respondants assigned the same API scores as the existing school (these API scores would not apply to a start up school)

  5. The notice indicated that existing students would get preference at the new charter school (which is a requirement of a conversion school not a start up).”

Even with today’s ruling, however, the final dispensation of DLMHS is not yet settled. The teachers who filed the petition to convert DLMHS to an independent charter must still obtain approval for their proposal. It was rejected by the AUSD School Board on March 19th, and appealed to the Contra Costa County Board of Education following that action. The County Board will conduct a public hearing on the matter on May 7th, beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the Pleasant Hill Middle School multipurpose room, 1 Santa Barbara Road, Pleasant Hill.

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Tentative ruling in Dozier-Libbey case favors teachers

Monday, April 28th, 2014

By John Crowder

Judge Laurel Brady has issued a tentative ruling in a case filed by the petitioner teachers of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School (DLMHS) against the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD). In it, she grants the injunction requested by teachers at the school to prevent AUSD, et. al, “from converting anything related to Dozier-Libbey Medical School to the Dozier-Libbey Medical School, a dependent charter school, during the pendency of the action.” A final ruling on the matter is expected this Friday.

AUSD personnel, in response to a majority of the teachers at DLMHS (88% of the certificated teaching staff) filing a petition to convert the school to a charter school, filed a petition with the AUSD School Board (Board) of their own. In it, they proposed what they referred to as a “dependent charter school” that would remain under the control of the district. Subsequently, the Board denied the teacher’s petition for a conversion charter school, and approved the district proposed dependent charter school at a packed meeting on March 19th.

One of the key issues in the case is whether or not the AUSD’s proposal was a start-up charter school, as district personnel claimed, or if it was in actuality a conversion of an existing school. This is an important issue to be decided, as the legal requirements differ when converting a school to a charter as opposed to starting a charter school. For example, the signature requirements differ between the two scenarios. In a conversion of an existing school to a charter school, a petition is required to have signatures of 50% of the existing teaching staff. As noted earlier, the conversion petition submitted by the teachers had signatures from 88% of the current teaching staff, while the petition submitted by the district does not have signatures of any current DLMHS teachers.

In her tentative ruling, Judge Brady stated, “Plaintiffs [DLMHS teachers] have shown that the Defendants [AUSD personnel] have performed a de facto conversion of DLMHS.”

In the analysis provided with her decision, Judge Brady notes that one of the factors that must be evaluated by the court with respect to whether a preliminary injunction should issue is the likelihood the plaintiff will prevail on the merits at trial. Judge Brady concludes that, “Because Plaintiffs’ underlying action is likely to succeed…Plaintiffs’ Application for an Injunction is granted.”

The complete text of the tentative ruling issued by Judge Brady can be found online at the Contra Costa Superior Court website. The case number is MSN14-0453, Dozier-Libbey vs. AUSD.

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Antioch School Board votes to close RAAMP, Carmen Dragon teachers voice concerns

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

By John Crowder

The Trustees of the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) voted 4-1 at their April 9th meeting to close the RAAMP Charter Academy of Math and Science (RAAMP) at the end of this school year. According to RAAMP Board Chair Cheryl Cooper, there are no plans to appeal the decision.

The mood at the meeting was more somber than on previous occasions, where teaching staff, supporters, and parents of students at RAAMP had made impassioned pleas to keep the school open.

Karla Branch, one of the founders and the Executive Director of the school, spoke briefly prior to the vote being taken. Seemingly resigned to their fate, she nonetheless extolled the virtues of the program that she had worked to develop.

The disenfranchised student population needs something different,” she said. “That is what RAAMP has always been about. I am for disenfranchised students. I know what they need, and I know RAAMP gave it to them.”

Branch, expressed her appreciation for the AUSD Board, the administration and, in particular, Assistant Superintendent Stephanie Anello, for their support and the opportunity they had given her to begin the school five years ago.

I will walk away knowing RAAMP did amazing things…for a lot of people,” she concluded.

Following public comments, each member of the board spoke briefly about the decision they were about to make. While most expressed appreciation for the work Branch had done and for her passionate advocacy of the RAAMP program, nonetheless had determined that the data, specifically low academic performance scores, supported its closure. Trustee Gary Hack, who ended up casting the lone vote not to close the school, expressed how conflicted he was over the issue.

Dr. Don Gill, AUSD Superintendent, promised to work to assist those students displaced by the move, and emphasized the district’s African American Male Initiative as an avenue to help in the transition.

In another matter, teachers continued to voice their concerns with the level of violence in the Antioch schools. The situation at Dallas Ranch Middle School was brought up, as it has been for the past few months. Specific incidents were referenced, including a student having her hair caught on fire and a student being kicked in the face during another incident at the school.

Adding to the complaints regarding Antioch middle schools, for the first time in recent months, teachers from an elementary school, Carmen Dragon, came forward as a group to voice similar concerns regarding unruly students.

Patti Baggett, a fourth grade teacher at the school, read a statement outlining the problems while backed up by several teachers standing at the podium with her, and about a half-dozen more in the audience.

I am speaking on behalf of my colleagues at Carmen Dragon Elementary and throughout the entire district,” she stated. “We have become increasingly fearful for our students’ safety and our own ability to successfully provide for a positive learning environment…We are extremely concerned for our own personal safety…”

She went on to characterize a “lack of clearly defined district policies” as a major factor that “has led to many students becoming empowered with a rebellious attitude which endangers everyone in our district community.”

Baggett then referred to a specific incident in which she claimed that a student had “pushed a well-respected, experienced substitute teacher, then went straight to the office and reported that she had pushed him.”

These bullies, whose actions remain unchecked by your ineffective behavior policy, are stealing the rights of the majority of our Antioch youth to learn and be safe in our classrooms,” she added.

In other education news, teachers and supporters of the Dozier-Libbey Medical High School independent charter petition attended the Contra Costa County Board of Education meeting where several spoke in support of the teachers’ petition. That board is expected to take up the matter in early May.

Future meetings of the AUSD Board are scheduled for May 14th and May 28th and are held at the AUSD office at 510 G Street.

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Scott Bergerhouse named principal of Dozier-Libbey Dependent Charter School

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
Scott Bergerhouse Scott Bergerhouse named principal of Dozier Libbey Dependent Charter School

Scott Bergerhouse, courtesy of the Carmen Dragon Elementary School webpage.

At its regularly scheduled Board of Education Meeting held on April 9, 2014, the Antioch Unified School District appointed Scott Bergerhouse principal of the new Dozier-Libbey Medical High School Dependent Charter School (DLMHS-DCS) scheduled to open in August of 2014.*

In his new role, Mr. Bergerhouse will form a newly established Community Advisory Committee to determine what supports and enhancements will best serve the needs of the students scheduled to attend DLMHS-DCS in the fall. He will also be meeting with student and parent focus groups to begin planning for the opening of the school.

Mr. Bergerhouse is a well-known and well-respected administrator who began his career in the Antioch Unified School District as an English teacher in 1984 at what was then Park Junior High School. Mr. Bergerhouse has since been an administrator at Antioch High School, Antioch Junior High School, Park Middle School, Deer Valley High School and, most recently, Carmen Dragon Elementary. In 2010, Mr. Bergerhouse was named High School Principal of the year by the Association of California School Administrators. For the past seven years, Mr. Bergerhouse has also been selected by administrators in the District to serve as president of Antioch’s Management Association (AMA). Mr. Bergerhouse has a gift for bringing people together around a shared vision and motivating and inspiring staff and students to perform at the highest levels. He is also recognized in the community as an administrator who values the ideas and input of the people and families he serves.

Mr. Bergerhouse is active in the community and serves as president of the Delta Advocacy Foundation alongside distinguished community members such as Nancy Libbey, Nancy Green and Jack Roddy. Delta Advocacy is a charitable foundation that seeks to provide resources and help to families in Antioch and surrounding areas.

Mr. Bergerhouse will be on the Dozier-Libbey Medical High School campus to meet and greet students, staff and parents beginning Thursday, April 10th.

*DLMHS-DCS was approved by the Board of Education on March 19, 2014 to support and enhance the programs currently offered at DLMHS. The status of DLMHS in the 2014-15 school year is currently uncertain due to a petition to convert DLMHS to an independent charter school operated outside of the Antioch Unified School District. The petition is currently before the Contra Costa County Board of Education.

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County’s school districts announce their 2014-2015 Teachers of the Year – Antioch High’s Kevin Jones is AUSD’s choice

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Pleasant Hill, CA, April 9, 2014 – Currently there are more than 8,126 teachers educating approximately 171,418 students in Contra Costa County’s public schools. To recognize their efforts and bring much-deserved honor to the teaching profession, the participating school districts in the county recently named their Teachers of the Year (TOY) representatives. (See list below). The upcoming school year’s 22 TOYs represent 17 Contra Costa County school districts, the Contra Costa Community College District and the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE). Twenty of the 22 representatives, those who teach K through 12, are eligible to compete in the Contra Costa County TOY competition. The top two teachers in the county TOY program will represent Contra Costa County in the California State TOY Program this coming fall.

“Once again, we have a tremendous group of teachers who have earned their school districts’ highest accolades, due to their talents, work ethic, and dedication. These honored educators not only represent their individual schools and school districts, but also embody all of the exceptional teachers we are so fortunate to have in our county,” reports Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph A. Ovick.

The county’s TOY program is directed by the CCCOE. With such a high caliber of teaching professionals to draw from, the CCCOE’s TOY program uses a three-stage selection process, with a point and percentage system to determine the final candidates as follows:

I Application Screening:
On April 4, a committee of 14 judges, representing the county’s education, business, and public-sector partners carefully reviewed the applications submitted by the school districts. This committee independently rates each application. After the application screening and scoring are completed, four teachers will be selected to advance to the next two phases as finalists.

II Classroom Observation and Interview:
During the weeks of late April and mid May, a small committee of education specialists and business partners will observe the finalists interacting with their students. Immediately following, the committee interviews the candidates discussing topics such as their teaching philosophy and techniques.

III Speech Presentation:
On August 11, the four TOY finalists will each give a three- to five-minute speech to another panel of a dozen educators, business, and public-sector representatives who will judge the finalists on their speech and presentation skills.

On the evening of September 11, 2014, all 22 TOYs, accompanied by their families, friends, and co-workers (an audience of more than 400) will be honored at the annual Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Dinner Celebration, held at the Hilton Concord. Dr. Ovick, who serves as master of ceremonies, introduces the TOYs by sharing a special story that reflects his classroom visits of each teacher during the current spring and summer months. This will be followed by the four finalists giving their three- to five-minute speeches (same speeches given in August) to the filled banquet room.  Finally, the night will come to a dramatic close with the announcement of the two 2014-2015 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year.

2013-2014 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Representatives:

Kevin Jones, Antioch Unified School District, Antioch High

CiCi Migay, Brentwood Union School District, Brentwood Elementary

Dorinda Mas, Byron Union School District, Discovery Bay Elementary

Jason Davis, Knightsen Elementary School District, Knightsen Elementary

Michael Kleiman, Liberty Union High School District, Freedom High

Nikki Alford, Oakley Union Elementary School District, Gehringer Elementary

Elizabeth Lanfranki, Pittsburg Unified School District, Martin Luther King, Jr. Junior High

Keith Johnson, West Contra Costa USD, El Cerrito High

Jane Kelson, Acalanes Union High School District, Campolindo High

Patrick Leong, Contra Costa County College District, Diablo Valley College

Bruce McCormick, West Contra Costa Unified School District, Portola Middle

Tricia Newhart, Orinda Union School District, Del Ray Elementary

Catherine Patterson, John Swett Unified School District, Rodeo Hills Elementary

Ann Ralph, Moraga School District, Donald Rheem Elementary

Gail Robles, Walnut Creek School District, Parkmead Elementary

Joann Rossi, Contra Costa County Office of Education, Early Start Program @ Marchus School

Stephen Slater, Mt. Diablo Unified School District, Wren Avenue Elementary

Kara Teach, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, Charlotte Wood Middle

Olivia Vann, Lafayette School District, Springhill Elementary

Brian Wheeler, Martinez Unified School District, Alhambra High

Karen Young, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, Coyote Creek Elementary

Kathleen Young, Mt. Diablo Unified School District, Highlands Elementary

Note regarding eligible participants:

  • Seventeen of the eighteen Contra Costa County school districts represented, plus the CCCOE are participating in this year’s TOY program. (Because this year’s CCCOE candidate teaches pre-K, she is not eligible in the California State TOY competition.)
  • Each year, one instructor from Contra Costa Community College District is submitted to the TOY program for his/her outstanding body of work with their designated college. The colleges rotate each year between Diablo Valley, Los Medanos, and Contra Costa. (These instructors do not compete in the State Teacher of the Year competition.)
  • Due to the larger number of students in their districts, West Contra Costa USD, Mt. Diablo USD, and San Ramon Valley USD are allowed to submit two TOY candidates

 

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Antioch School District responds to Dozier-Libbey teachers’ recent press release

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

From the Office of Associate Superintendent, Stephanie Anello in collaboration with Louie Rocha, Principal Antioch High School and Kenneth Gardner, Principal Deer Valley High School

The Antioch Unified School District is once again forced to respond to misinformation from the petitioners attempting to convert Dozier-Libbey Medical High School (DLMHS) to an Independent Charter School. On Friday, April 4, after the Superior Court denied the petitioner’s request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), inaccurate information was sent to parents and media through a press release. The District wishes to respond to this misinformation:

Misinformation #1:

The petitioners’ press release states that the Dozier Independent Charter Petitioners, “won a small victory in the Superior Court of Contra Costa County when the Honorable Judge Laurel Brady agreed that demands being made by the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD), with the regard to a questionable counter charter proposal, were unreasonable.”

Fact:

On Thursday April 03, 2014, the conversion petitioners’ lawyers with barely 24-hours’ notice to the District filed for a TRO against the District and Associate Superintendent Stephanie Anello and Superintendent Dr. Donald Gill.

The petitioners sought to restrain the Dozier–Libbey Medical High School-Dependent Charter School (DLMHS-DCS) from using the name Dozier-Libbey, and from enrolling students and hiring staff to work at the lawfully approved dependent charter school.

The application for the TRO was heard on Friday, April 04, 2014 at the Superior Court of Contra Costa County in Martinez. The Honorable Judge Laurel Brady refused to grant the TRO, due to her need for more time to review the “complexity” of the case, and instead postponed the matter to a full hearing on April 28, 2014

Until the hearing, the Judge requested the District extend the deadline for students and staff to express interest in attending and working at the new dependent charter school until April 28, 2014.

The District agreed to do so. At no time did the judge say that the Dependent Charter was “unreasonable” in its effort to launch this new start-up charter. The Judge also confirmed DLMHS-DCS is not restrained from continuing with its activities.

Misinformation #2:

The petitioners’ press release states, “The process to convert the Dozier Libbey into a public charter school was greatly confused last month, apparently deliberately so, when the district filed and approved its own petition to convert the high-performing medical pathway school into a district-dependent charter school, immediately after denying the original independent charter petition submitted by the faculty of Dozier Libbey Medical High School.”

Fact:

The District has not and will not deliberately confuse our parents and staff! The fact that the petitioners met in secret without involving students, parents, and the community in their plans is what caused confusion. Continued misleading information such as the press release sent out on Friday April 4th continues to confuse students, their parents, and the community.

Misinformation #3:

The petitioners’ press release states, “The legality of the district’s petition is highly suspect as the district was unable to obtain a single signature from Dozier Libbey faculty (California Ed Code requires concurrence of 50% of the current teachers plus one). A preliminary injunction request has been filed with the court against AUSD on behalf of the students, parents, and faculty of Dozier Libbey Medical High School, the hearing for which is set on April 28th.”

Fact:

The DLMHS-DCS petitioners did not file a ‘conversion’ charter petition, they filed a “start-up charter petition” to form a charter school that supports and enhances the current DLMHS. The teacher signature requirements for a “start-up” petition are different in that they may be signed by any teacher “meaningfully interested” in working at the school. It is interesting to note that the dependent charter petition contained 127 teacher signatures “meaningfully interested” in working at the school–nearly six times the number of signatures in support of the independent, conversion charter petition.

Misinformation #4:

The petitioners’ press release states, “Pending this hearing, the judge has ordered the district to withdraw its demand that parents enroll their children in the district’s dependent charter by April 7. The district has repeatedly admonished parents that in failing to do so parents will risk losing their spot at the school next year. The judge further ordered that the district withdraw its demand that Dozier Libbey teachers commit to employment at the district dependent charter by the close of business today, or risk termination.”

Fact:

Judge Brady did not order the District to withdraw any “demand.” Rather, Judge Brady extended the time frame for students to express interest in enrolling in the new DLMHS-DCS. She never used the words “rescind” or “withdraw”. She asked the District to extend the deadline and the District agreed.

Following the approval of the new DLMHS-DCS, parents and community members currently enrolled at DLMHS continued to ask for assurances that their children could attend the new DLMHS-DCS. The District sent out a letter to these parents first granting them a spot if they so choose. Starting a new school takes a lot of planning and hiring so knowing how many students would enroll in the new school was a crucial and necessary first step.

Additionally, the District sent out a letter to current DLMHS staff asking if they would be interested in working at the new start-up DLMHS-DCS prior to opening the positions for transfer according to the Antioch Education Association (AEA) bargaining contract. At no time were staff told they would be terminated. Proponents of the independent charter appear to have misinformed students and parents.

Misinformation #5:

The petitioners’ press release states, “Although the district’s charter was initially described in public hearing as a new start–up charter, AUSD has since announced via social media that its charter will replace the current Dozier Libbey Medical High School. The district has not yet provided legal justification for how it would accomplish what would appear to be a clear violation of both California Education Code and the Charter School Act of 1992.”

Fact:

The District has not announced via social media that the DLMHS-DCS would replace DLMHS. DLMHS-DCS will enhance and support the current curriculum and supports provided by DLMHS. Once the community advisory committee comprised of parents, community, and staff is established, enhancements such as a dual immersion medical courses, an opportunity for students to receive a seal of bi-literacy, or a middle college opportunity will be discussed.

Misinformation #6:

The petitioners’ press release states, “Supporters of the Dozier-Libbey believe that the court, like much of the Antioch community, will take a dim view of the school district’s attempt, with great expenditure of public funds, to confuse the issue of the school’s legal conversion to a public charter school.”

Fact:

The community has voiced little to no support for the independent, conversion charter petition submitted by the 23 Dozier Libbey Medical High School teachers. In fact, at the public hearing before the Board of Education on March 19, 2014, parents and community members expressed their overwhelming disapproval of the petition to convert DLMHS into an independent charter school.

The petitioners’ press release did get one thing right —the District has been forced to use money and resources that should be going to 18,000 students in order to respond to the unsupported and unnecessary actions of 23 petitioners.

 ———–

Following is the complete press release from the teachers organizing the Dozier-Libbey independent charter conversion:

Antioch Unified School District Ordered to Rescind Dependent Charter Deadlines

Martinez, CA – April 4, 2014 – This morning the students, parents, and teachers of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School, fighting to convert their school to an independent public charter school, won a small victory in the Superior Court of Contra Costa County when the Honorable Judge Laurel Brady agreed that demands being made by the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD), with regard to a questionable counter charter proposal, were unreasonable. 

The process to convert Dozier-Libbey into a public charter school was greatly confused last month, apparently deliberately so, when the district filed and approved its own petition to convert the high-performing medical pathway school into a district-dependent charter school, immediately after denying the original independent charter petition submitted by the faculty of Dozier-Libbey.  The legality of the district’s petition is highly suspect, as the district was unable to obtain a single signature from Dozier-Libbey faculty (California Ed Code requires concurrence of 50% of the current teachers plus one).  A preliminary injunction request has been filed with the court against AUSD on behalf of the students, parents, and faculty of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School , the hearing for which is set on April 28th. 

Pending this hearing, the judge has ordered the district to withdraw its demand that parents enroll their children in the district’s dependent charter by April 7.  The district has repeatedly admonished parents that in failing to do so parents will risk losing their spot at the school next year.  The judge further ordered that the district withdraw its demand that Dozier-Libbey teachers commit to employment at the district dependent charter by the close of business today, or risk termination.

The teachers of Dozier-Libbey filed a petition last February, in accordance with the charter schools section of the California Education Code, to convert their school to a public charter governed by a school board that would be independent of AUSD’s board of trustees.  The teachers’ 121-page petition presents a strong case for significantly improving academic programs and fiscal management at this respected pathway school, however AUSD denied the petition last month, prompting teachers to file an appeal with the Contra Costa County Board of Education.  The school district took the additional step of approving its own charter petition for Dozier-Libbey that would leave the school under the governing authority of the AUSD board.  Although the district’s charter was initially described in public hearing as a new start-up charter, AUSD has since announced via social media that its charter will replace the current Dozier-Libbey Medical High School .  The district has not yet provided legal justification for how it would accomplish what would appear to be a clear violation of both California Education Code and the Charter School Act of 1992. 

Supporters of Dozier-Libbey believe that the court, like much of the Antioch community, will take a dim view of the school district’s attempt, with great expenditure of public funds, to confuse the issue of the school’s legal conversion to a public charter school. 

The case pending before the Contra Costa Superior Court is Dozier-Libbey Medical High School et al. v. Antioch Unified School District, et al. (Case No. CIVMSN14-0453).  A ruling is scheduled for 9:00am on April 28th.  Updated information can be found online at DozierLibbeyCharter.com.

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Antioch School District ordered to postpone dependent charter deadlines for Dozier-Libbey, but permitted to move forward

Saturday, April 5th, 2014
Dozier Libbey dependent signups 04 01 14 Antioch School District ordered to postpone dependent charter deadlines for Dozier Libbey, but permitted to move forward

District personnel set up a table to register students for the dependent charter school at Dozier-Libbey Medical High School for 2014-15 on Tuesday, April 1, 2014. In the photo are Tim Forrester, Associate Superintendent for Business & Operations, third from right and Dr. Don Gill, Superintendent, far right. photo by Stacey Wickware

By Allen Payton

On Friday morning, April 4, 2014, Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Laurel Brady asked the Antioch Unified School District to postpone deadlines for the 2014-15 school year, under the district’s dependent charter.

Although the teachers in favor of the independent charter are claiming a minor victory, the judge’s decisions merely asked the district to postpone until April 28, the requirement that Dozier-Libbey teachers commit to employment at the district dependent charter by the close of business Friday. In addition, the deadline for parents to sign-up their students for the Fall was also postponed from Monday, April 7 to Monday, April 28.

A complete hearing of arguments from both sides and a ruling is scheduled for 9:00 A.M. on April 28.

The decisions were in response to a temporary restraining order filed by the attorneys for the organizers of the independent charter conversion to stop the district from moving forward with its dependent charter conversion.

However, the judge refused to hear that and the district was not prevented from moving forward and allowed to proceed with the dependent charter, as planned.

The case pending before the Contra Costa Superior Court is Dozier-Libbey Medical High School et al. v. Antioch Unified School District, et al. (Case No. CIVMSN14-0453).

This article was revised at 3:27 p.m., Saturday, April 5, 2014

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Dozier-Libbey teachers provide Q&A on charter conversion

Friday, April 4th, 2014

A press briefing was held on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 by the Dozier-Libbey Medical High School teachers working to convert to an independent charter school. Following are their notes.

Provided by Stacey Wickware, Lead Petitioner & Steering Committee Member

As expected, the Antioch School Board of Trustees voted to deny Dozier-Libbey’s petition to convert to a public charter school. This petition will now be forwarded to the Contra Costa County Board of Education on appeal. The board also voted to approve the district’s petition to create a “start-up” charter on Dozier-Libbey’s current campus. Legally, the district’s charter is in question and therefore, our staff has deferred to our legal council, the California Charter Schools Association, and the California Teachers Association for advice on how to proceed on that front. In the meantime, the Dozier-Libbey teachers are moving forward with their independent charter through the appeals process at the county level.

As the dedicated staff at Dozier-Libbey wants the best opportunities for our students and vehemently believes the independent charter conversion is the only option to guarantee the future of DLMHS, the programs we seek to create by converting to an independent charter will provide us the site-based authority to do even better for all students, particularly those who might not be well served in the traditional system. 

The district has attempted to paint our conversion charter effort as one without precedent. On the contrary, there are plenty of schools statewide that were considered ‘high performing’ before converting as well. We at Dozier-Libbey believe as these schools did, that converting to an independent charter allows the school to do much better by the students. Although it has been repeatedly stated that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” we submit that the school under district governance has not been able to do enough to help Latino, African American, English Learners and special education pupils succeed in a rigorous college preparatory high school. We know we can do better with local governance and we owe it to our students to do everything we can for them. Over the past month, even in the face of opposition, our resolve has only been strengthened. We believe there is no place for mediocrity in public education.

It is important to note that the Dozier-Libbey independent conversion charter will be very much a part of the public school system, and one that the community of Antioch will be proud of. Our desire is not to isolate Dozier-Libbey but to raise the bar and close the achievement gap for all public school students by working collaboratively and sharing best practices with public school educators of charter schools and district schools alike. As part of the public school system, we believe it is in the community’s best interest, and that of the school district, to work with Dozier-Libbey students to allow participation in district sports and activities. These students are Antioch public school students. In fact, the intent of Proposition 39 is to ensure “that public school facilities should be shared fairly among all public school pupils, including those in charter schools.” (Ed Code 47614). This includes access to not only the Dozier-Libbey campus but public school athletic facilities. Dozier-Libbey is committed to working together professionally with AUSD to create a workable agreement on behalf of the students of Antioch. We are willing and able to support our students in this process. The ball is in the school district’s court to make the decision to allow student athletes the opportunity to participate in district athletic programs just as they do currently.  

The issue of our student body and the lottery system has been raised frequently since the teachers filed the conversion petition. Unfortunately, there has been some misinterpretation of how the legally required public lottery will work. We would like to clarify as follows:

  1. All students currently enrolled in the Charter School – these are our current students, all of whom are part of the Antioch Unified School District’s attendance area. This includes, for the first year of the charter, the incoming freshmen already selected through the public lottery.

  2. Siblings of enrolled students – these students are siblings of currently enrolled students and therefore should also be part of the Antioch Unified School District’s attendance area.

  3. Children of Charter School teachers and staff – since the staff is small, this represents very few possibilities for enrollment (as many as 3 over the next four years).

  4. Students who reside in the former attendance area – these are all Antioch students as the former attendance area of DLMHS prior to charter conversion was only open to Antioch students.

  5. Residents of the District – this is exactly the same as #4 above since DLMHS enrolled students from the entirety of Antioch and did not have a separate attendance area.

  6. All other applicants – if, and only if there is still space available after all Antioch applicants have been placed, students wishing to attend from outside the AUSD may apply. Since the waiting list for DLMHS has been historically long, it is highly unlikely that space will be available for students residing outside the city of Antioch.

We would also like to clarify the confusion surrounding the school’s previous “No D” grading policy. The charter petition mentions the removal of this policy by the school district as an example of how proven, signature practices of the school that were originally supported by district leadership, have been eliminated. It is important to note that the charter petition does NOT indicate a return to this policy, contrary to what you may have heard. Rather, Dozier-Libbey is committed to exploring the best, standards-based grading practices for its students with an emphasis on accurately preparing those students for college, career, and for life. This means that students will be encouraged through best teaching practices and meaningful summative assessments in meeting the “a through g” requirements set forth by UC/CSU. As an independent charter, Dozier-Libbey will have the necessary supports in place to assist ALL students in meeting these requirements. To reduce the main motivation for charter conversion to that of the “No D” policy is an unfair assessment of the charter petition.

Perhaps the most compelling reason propelling the Dozier-Libbey staff forward in pursuing the charter conversion is the ability to fully implement several innovative programs that are only possible with local governance of the school. We like to refer to these programs as our “Sweet 16,” which represents our desire to serve ALL students as they have been designed around producing and developing well rounded, capable young adults. Several of these programs were specifically designed to benefit our disadvantaged students, something that we have not been able to accomplish effectively in the past. These innovative programs are as follows:

  1. Aggressive Intervention Programs for All Students Who Are Behind

    • Saturday Bridge to Success to close the achievement gap, focusing on low-performing 
students and those below proficiency on state tests.

    • Winter Session for elective credit and credit recovery during Winter break.

    • Summer Science Camp for 1-2 weeks partnering with Livermore Berkeley National Lab, 
JGI, California Academy of Sciences, and Exploratorium.

    • After School: Sophomore English support, Explore medical robotics, mini-series on 
health topics.

    • Summer Enrichment program with 4-week intensive study to close achievement gap in 
reading, writing and math using Achieve 3000, Destination Math, and Khan Academy.

    • Continue mid-day Advisory period where students seek teacher assistance with 
assignments.

  2. Medical America


  • Implement this new U.S. History course, developed two years ago, that explores diseases, medical discoveries, and innovations in a historical context incorporating ethnic and racial minority inclusiveness with school advocacy projects.

  • Submit course to University of California to obtain approval for this class meeting UC and CSU entrance requirements.

  1. Forensic Pathology – The Medical Science of Crime Scene Investigations

    • In partnership with UCSF Forensic pathologist Dr. Sanchez, develop and implement a forensic pathology course including hands-on medical activities with biotechnology, 
entomology, toxicology, DNA analysis, blood typing and fingerprint analysis.

    • Students will take trips to the county morgue and a pathology lab. Guest speakers will include a coroner. Submit to University of California to obtain approval for this class 
meeting UC and CSU entrance requirements.

  2. Good Eats

    • Plant vegetable gardens with organic and genetically modified seeds on campus and 
analyze and compare outcomes.

    • Outcomes applicable to health science, science and math classes.

    • Give organic vegetables to school food services for student lunch.

  3. Dramatic Expansion of Art Courses and Extracurricular Activities


  • Expand student expression in the arts by offering classes in jazz band, music appreciation around the world, chorus, music composition, drama, ceramics, and cartooning.

  1. Get Connected!

    • Implement a student computer server. Students could bring their own computer to 
school, and DLMHCS will purchase computers for students who cannot afford them.

    • Server will provide a place to store students’ electronic portfolios and assignments.

    • Students will access this server via the Internet from home and the school network.

  2. Books, Books, Books


  • Hire a full-time librarian, which will allow development and implementation of electronic textbooks and reading materials, researching primary source and other databases for student research, and an after-school book club for our voracious readers.

  1. It Takes a Village

    • Upperclassmen lead Bridge program (Link Crew) for incoming 9th graders to orient 
students to high school focusing on study skills.

    • Upperclassmen and Los Medanos College students lead 10th and 11th grade in one-week 
summer program to prepare for success in chemistry, physics, and higher level math.

    • Assign upperclassman to serve as a mentor to each incoming freshman to meet with and provide tutoring and encouragement during the freshman year.

    • Recruit community members with appropriate expertise in medical fields to mentor 
students.

  2. We Are One

    • Continue with mainstreaming of Special Education and English Learner students in all 
classes whenever possible.

    • Monthly teacher collaboration time to creatively design and improve individual Special 
Education and English Learner student accommodations and assignments to ensure 
success.

    • Two year Spanish class for English Learner students that combines grammar and 
academic vocabulary to help re-designate students.

    • Design credit recovery classes tailored to Special Education and English Learners.

10. Sibling Care

    • Many of our students miss school because they need to stay home and care for a well or 
sick sibling so their parents can work. We will negotiate a contract for drop-in care with a licensed child care provider preventing our students from missing school and falling behind in their studies. Depending on parent income, this could be free child care or care at a sliding scale rate.

    • This program will also be offered to teachers with young children. 


11. The Counselor is In


  • Full-time counselor, and John F Kennedy University psychology interns to run grief, anger management, and stress relief groups during lunch and after school.

12. Happy and Healthy Carnival

  • Partner with elementary schools so that students can conduct a health-themed carnival during the school day. We will focus on students teaching healthy habits to children and parents to encourage physical and mental well-being.

  • Examples of games include a bean bag toss, throwing bean bags shaped like healthy food, into a giant, open mouth; a huge model of teeth and giant tooth brushes with students showing children how to brush properly; and a long, flexible tunnel children crawl through showing the digestive system from beginning to end.

13. Everyone Plays

  • Intramural sports program for all students to promote healthy life-long exercise and teamwork. Possible initial sports: volleyball, tennis, badminton, and basketball.

  • Implement a contract with local In Shape to allow 11th and 12th grade students to continue their goal of physical fitness for life. 


14. Health Careers, Here We Come!

    • Using innovative technology that currently exists with our Health Care Partners, watch 
surgeries and non-invasive procedures adhering to HIPAA guidelines.

    • Invite nationally recognized medical professionals in the classroom as guest speakers and project judges. Technology will allow us to tap into medical expertise at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Contra Costa County Public and Mental Health, and National health organizations such as Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and HHS (Health 
and Human Services) under the Office of the Surgeon General.

    • Continue field trips to Kaiser Permanent Operating Room and Nutrition Services (9th grade), John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek (10th grade), e-mentoring by health professional (10th grade), and practice interviews with Human Resources professionals from our health care partners (11th grade).

    • Continue to plan one college field trip per month to a 4-year college, with students attending a minimum of one college trip per year. 


15. Beyond the California Coast

  • Through innovative technology, establish virtual relationships with health care providers 
around the globe. Implement virtual job shadows where students follow a health care 
professional during a normal day.

  • Through technology bring international health care providers and the World Health 
Organization (WHO) into the classroom as guest speakers and project judges.

  • Collaborative project work with students from other countries using free CISCO platform.

16. Above and Beyond: Middle College

      • Implement a collaborative agreement with Los Medanos College to have students earn 
an AA or AS and a high school diploma in 4-5 years and then transfer to a 4-year college 
or university.

      • Counseling and teacher support for all students to succeed.

In closing, it is important to note that our charter petition is a proposal that nearly every teacher on campus participated in drafting, and every teacher on campus supports. We fully understand the value of working together with our community and our parents, which is why the petition states “parents may hold position on the board or in various school committees. Additionally, parents will be strongly encouraged to be involved in and contribute to DLMHS.” The teachers work with students on campus every day and, together with parents, are best situated to these student’s needs. We know these children. We know these parents. We have their best interests at heart and want to ensure that the school operates in a manner that will best prepare these students for success. We want a school that reflects the highest standards of excellence, a culture that empowers teachers, and demonstrates a fervent commitment to the success of every student entrusted to our care regardless of their race, socioeconomic status or learning needs. We must not pass up this opportunity for a great school simply because we have a good one. We ask our students, as does society, to try their best to be their best. It is our responsibility as teachers to model the same high standards to our students. It would be an injustice to ask our students to expect any less. Settling for mediocrity when it comes to education is not an option.

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