Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Antioch School Board denies Dozier-Libbey independent charter petition

Friday, March 21st, 2014

District’s Dependent Charter Plan Approved

By John Crowder

Hundreds of people packed the John Muir Elementary School multipurpose room Wednesday night, March 19 as the Antioch School Board heard public comments on, then voted unanimously to deny, a petition filed by teachers from Dozier-Libbey Medical High School to convert it to a charter school. Following that decision the board then voted, again unanimously, to approve an alternative proposal for a dependent charter put forward by district personnel, keeping the school under district control.

The meeting was held in response to a petition filed on February 24th by 23 of the 26 permanent teachers currently employed at Dozier-Libbey to convert the school to an independent public charter school.

The move to convert to a charter school would provide “a number of advantages for our students,” said Jeff Weber, one of the teachers who signed the petition. “Innovative academic programs, for which the school has come to be nationally respected, will be able to continue, without obstruction from a remote and cumbersome district bureaucracy.”

The move to convert to a charter, however, has strongly divided the community, and last night the school board faced both sides in the issue as those in support of the charter petition sat mostly to their right, and those opposed to their left in the packed room. Following the pledge of allegiance, the only point during the meeting at which all sides seemed to come together, board president Joy Motts called the public hearing on the matter to order. The petitioners spoke first, with virtually all the teachers who had signed the petition standing behind their spokesperson, science teacher Robert Young, as he presented their case. In a twenty minute presentation, he told the board that the conversion to a charter was necessary in order to provide equity with other schools in the district, and that achieving autonomy was vital to “funnel more money into the classroom.”

Following Mr. Young’s presentation, Associate Superintendent Tim Forrester introduced Scott Holbrook, an attorney representing the district, who provided the administration response. Holbrook raised several objections to the petitioner’s request, but focused repeatedly on the question of the proper use of public funds. “You are the stewards of public money,” he told the board. He also noted that, “There are a number of instances where a charter has opened their doors, and in a few weeks closed their doors, and all that money is gone.”

During public comments, which followed the two presentations, supporters and opponents of the charter proposal took turns voicing their opinions. So many wanted to speak that the time for public comments was extended by thirty minutes, resulting in an hour and a half of comments. Those supporting the charter included a number of students from the school, who took turns praising their teachers for their dedication and the care and concern they had been shown by them. A few of them noted that they were special needs students or English learners, as they sought to refute the contention made by opponents that the teachers were looking to establish an elitist school.

They have our best interest in mind,” said Rachel Vasquez, a student at Dozier-Libbey. “[They] challenge us to be better students.”

Those opposed included district employees and leaders in the community, including Mayor Wade Harper.

I represent all of the citizens of Antioch,” Harper said. “I cannot support the independent charter at this time. I feel it is divisive.”

The divisiveness of the issue was an idea that would be picked up by the board later in the evening as they debated the merits of this, and the district’s competing proposal.

After the close of the public comments, the board members made brief remarks before voting 5-0 to deny the petition.

Following a recess, the meeting then continued with three district employees, Antioch High School principal Louie Rocha, Deer Valley High School principal Kenneth Gardner, and Assistant Superintendent Stephanie Anello presenting a petition to form a dependent charter school. An issue they repeatedly raised was about fostering an academic environment inclusive of all students, something they contended was lacking in the Dozier-Libbey teacher-backed charter proposal. Following public comments, and after brief remarks, the board then voted, again unanimously, to approve the dependent charter petition.

Even though the AUSD board has now made their decision on the matter, the issue may still be far from settled. In a statement released today, teachers at Dozier-Libbey said they are “submitting their petition to convert to a public charter school to the Contra Costa County Board of Education as part of an anticipated appeal process following Wednesday night’s denial of their conversion charter petition by their own Antioch Unified School District.”

Share this:
email Antioch School Board denies Dozier Libbey independent charter petition su Antioch School Board denies Dozier Libbey independent charter petition digg Antioch School Board denies Dozier Libbey independent charter petition fb Antioch School Board denies Dozier Libbey independent charter petition twitter Antioch School Board denies Dozier Libbey independent charter petition

Counter charter petition for Dozier-Libbey filed by district officials

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

By John Crowder

A petition to form a “dependent charter school” was announced by Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) officials at a meeting held last night in the Dozier-Libbey Medical High School (DLMHS) multi-purpose room. The petition is a response to one that had been filed by current teachers at DLMHS last month. The petition was submitted jointly by Antioch High School principal Louie Rocha, Deer Valley High School Principal Kenneth Gardner, and Assistant Superintendent Stephanie Anello.

In a news release sent out today, Dr. Donald Gill, AUSD Superintendent, said, “The 23 teachers who signed the independent charter petition want to convert one of our highest performing public high schools into a completely independent school separated from AUSD. Dozier-Libbey was created through the ingenuity and close collaboration of the entire Antioch community. We see it as a community asset that should be accessible to every family and type of student in Antioch. The independent conversion charter reflects a policy of exclusion, while the dependent proposal is one of inclusion.”

According to the district’s press release, “The dependent charter petition was submitted to the District as a direct response to countless concerns voiced by parents and staff vehemently opposing the independent conversion charter petition. Since the surprise February 24 announcement that teachers at DLMHS had submitted the conversion charter petition parents have become increasingly anxious and confused about the possible negative impact of the move on students and the school district.”

The release also listed several reasons for putting forward a counter-petition. These included expanding opportunities for parental involvement, fostering an academic environment inclusive of all students, and the continuation of eligibility to participate in District sports teams.

Since the announcement of the charter petition signed by the DLMHS teachers, emotions have been running hot. Advocates on both sides of the issue spoke out passionately at the AUSD board meeting held last Wednesday.

The AUSD board is scheduled to meet in special session to consider both meetings on Wednesday, March 19th, at 6:00 p.m. in the John Muir Elementary School Multiurpose Room, 615 Greystone Drive in Antioch.

Share this:
email Counter charter petition for Dozier Libbey filed by district officials su Counter charter petition for Dozier Libbey filed by district officials digg Counter charter petition for Dozier Libbey filed by district officials fb Counter charter petition for Dozier Libbey filed by district officials twitter Counter charter petition for Dozier Libbey filed by district officials

Dozier-Libbey teachers, district battle over effort to convert to charter school

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Analysis

By John Crowder

It was quickly apparent to those attending the Antioch School board meeting on Wednesday that it was going to be a hot night…and not just because of the broken air conditioning. At issue was the petition filed by the teaching staff of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School (DLMHS) to convert to a public charter school, and, once the meeting started, it didn’t take long before Superintendent Dr. Don Gill began to attack the teachers responsible for the petition.

Gill read from a FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) sheet, published by the school district, written in the form of questions and answers. The document, along with another similar paper, both now posted on the district’s website www.antioch.k12.ca.us, seems to be an attempt to paint the teachers supporting the petition as a small group of elitist teachers seeking to enrich themselves while excluding African American and Special Education students from their campus. These contentions, however, are not supported, even by the research studies referenced by the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD).

An answer to one of the questions posted by AUSD states, “A small group of staff at DLMHS…submitted a petition to the District to convert DLMHS to a charter school to be operated by a non-profit corporation.”

In fact, as has been widely reported in the media, 88% of the teaching staff at the school signed the petition requesting conversion to a charter school. On another website (www.facebook.com/dozierlibbey), created by those in support of the charter petition, it states that, “all of Dozier-Libbey’s teachers are very much united in this decision.” With respect to DLMHS being operated by “a non-profit corporation,” teachers explained at a subsequent meeting with the public held on Thursday evening that “the ‘corporation’ will be the community members who make up the charter board of directors…including parents [of students].”

The AUSD document makes more than one reference to the idea that, if the charter goes forward, actions they take “may further exclude students interested in the medical curriculum offered at the school.” With reference to a study done by Stanford University, a statement from AUSD reads, “However, that study failed to consider that by implementing a No-D policy and the requirement that all students take advanced courses not required for graduation, the school discouraged the attendance of its highest need students, including African American, English learner, and Special Education students, and effectively self-selected a high achieving population to remain at the school through graduation.”

That contention, however, is both directly refuted in the referenced study, and statistics published in the study support the idea that the programs at DLMHS are particularly beneficial for these very groups they are purported to exclude. In a table from the study that was shown on a slide during the Thursday night meeting (Click here) on page 8, table 2, it indicates that graduation rates for African Americans attending DLMHS in 2012 were 95%, while for AUSD as a whole they were only 67%. For the economically disadvantaged, the rate was 97% at DLMHS, but only 60% for AUSD.

Even more telling was the statistic regarding the percent of graduates completing all courses required for UC/CSU admission. For the class of 2012, African Americans attending DLMHS were successful by this benchmark 94% of the time, while at AUSD the success rate was an abysmal 15%, even below the state norm of 29% for this demographic. The Stanford study further states, “The author believes that DLMHS would benefit from opportunities to have some autonomy in defining its own enrollment, grading, graduation, and staffing policies. Because of its students’ success, DLMHS also has to combat the constant misperception that they enroll higher achieving students.”

The battle was joined, on both sides, when it came time for public comments at the AUSD board meeting. Parents, teachers, students, and former students all spoke on the matter. One parent, Jason Todd, was particularly incensed at the charter proposal. Referencing a discussion that had been held on Tuesday as part of the DLMHS Parent-Teacher-Student Association.

I saw a staff that was disrespectful of parents, disrespectful of this board…They say they’re successful in spite of this board,” Todd said. “The charter sets up to make it an elitist school. This is a bad way to go.”

Todd was contradicted in his assessment by both current and former students of DLMHS, all of whom spoke in favor of the charter petition.

This school does not discriminate against students, it simply pushes them…particularly students of low income and color,” said Antonio Hernandez, a graduate of DLMHS and currently a sophomore at Stanford University. “Students don’t go there who are higher achieving, they go there to become higher achieving.”

One thing that is clear, is that the teacher petition to convert DLMHS to a charter school has generated a tremendous amount of emotion, with the fight perhaps only just beginning. Those interested in the issue can continue to follow the positions taken by those on both sides at the above-referenced websites.

The Antioch school board has scheduled a special board meeting on Wednesday, March 19, to be held in the multi-purpose room of John Muir Elementary School at 615 Greystone Drive in Antioch. In addition to a public hearing on the issue, the board is expected to reach a final decision on the charter petition.

Share this:
email Dozier Libbey teachers, district battle over effort to convert to charter school su Dozier Libbey teachers, district battle over effort to convert to charter school digg Dozier Libbey teachers, district battle over effort to convert to charter school fb Dozier Libbey teachers, district battle over effort to convert to charter school twitter Dozier Libbey teachers, district battle over effort to convert to charter school

Special Antioch School Board meeting to decide fate of Dozier-Libbey charter effort

Monday, March 10th, 2014

A special convening of the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) Board of Trustees will occur on Wednesday, March 19 according to a letter received on Friday by leaders of the charter conversion movement for Dozier-Libbey Medical High School. The letter was signed by Associate Superintendent Timothy Forrester, and acknowledged receipt of the teachers’ petition to convert to an independent public charter school. The school board meeting, scheduled for 6:00 p.m. in the multi-purpose room of John Muir Elementary School at 615 Greystone Drive in Antioch, will include both a public hearing and a final decision on the charter petition.

Since filing their petition on February 24, teachers have worked feverishly to get their message to the community as to why conversion to a public charter school would be in the best interest of the students at this nationally-recognized pathway high school.

While the conversion enjoys the unanimous support of the school’s tenured teachers, efforts to get parents more involved and informed have been hamstrung by legal action from the school district.

Teachers are hopeful that the majority of Dozier-Libbey parents will attend the upcoming Parent-Teacher-Student Association (PTSA) meeting on campus tomorrow night, March 11, at 7:00pm, where parents will have the opportunity to speak with teachers regarding the conversion. A second public forum for all concerned parents and community members has been scheduled for 6:00 p.m. at the Antioch Community Center, 4703 Lone Tree Way, on Thursday, March 13.

Although restricted from utilizing school resources, including parent communication networks, Dozier-Libbey staff have been communicating the ongoing conversion process to students and parents via social media. An informational page with daily updates has been established at Facebook.com/dozierlibbey.  It is here that questions from the community are being addressed publicly, and a copy of the 121-page petition for charter conversion, signed by the school’s faculty, is available for download.

For more information contact Jeff Weber, (925) 348-6618 or jeff_weber@hotmail.com

Share this:
email Special Antioch School Board meeting to decide fate of Dozier Libbey charter effort su Special Antioch School Board meeting to decide fate of Dozier Libbey charter effort digg Special Antioch School Board meeting to decide fate of Dozier Libbey charter effort fb Special Antioch School Board meeting to decide fate of Dozier Libbey charter effort twitter Special Antioch School Board meeting to decide fate of Dozier Libbey charter effort

Antioch School District investigation confirms problems at Black Diamond Middle School

Monday, March 10th, 2014

By John Crowder

Following numerous complaints about violence, profanity, disrespect, and threatening behavior instigated by a group of out-of-control students at Black Diamond Middle School (BDMS) over the past few months, Antioch Superintendent of Education Dr. Don Gill contacted Dr. John Bernard, a longtime educator and consultant, and asked him to conduct a thorough investigation of the troubled school. Bernard presented a report on his findings at the February 26thmeeting of the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) Board of Trustees.

During his wide-ranging presentation, Bernard essentially confirmed the complaints the Board has been hearing during the public comments section of their meetings over the last few months, complaints that had come from both parents of students at the school and school staff…and added a few additional problem areas that had not previously been identified during the public outcry. Bernard also provided recommendations to the Board regarding actions that could be taken to alleviate the problems.

Bernard prefaced his remarks by outlining the process he had undertaken to conduct his investigation. He noted that there may be other areas of concern, but the ones that he spoke to were those that he had been able to see firsthand, or had discussed with concerned parties at the school. He then went on to describe problems with the physical condition of the school, stating that it was in need of painting and a “thorough cleaning.” He also said that the procedures under which the custodial staff were operating were inadequate.

Student behavior was a particular area of concern, according to Bernard. He confirmed that there were “between fifteen and fifty students who continually challenge adult authority.” Bernard had several recommendations for dealing with this issue, which appeared to be the catalyst for the complaints the Board had been receiving. He called for the identification of these students, and their removal from the rest of the student body.

They should start school at a different time, have lunch at a different time,” he said.

He also called for the establishment of a school-wide discipline policy. “That means consistency across the board,” he stated.

Bernard also addressed the administration at the school.

Everything needs to change,” he said, “some classes have a disproportionate number of disruptive students.”

He noted that many policies were inconsistent, including those relating to dress, cell phones, disrespect, and threatening behavior. He recommended the continuing assignment of site support personnel and assistant vice-principals, but noted that additional developmental training should take place for administrative staff.

In addressing the situation with regard to the teaching staff, Bernard noted that there were fourteen teachers who were brand new to BDMS this year. He recommended that teachers be provided with training on classroom management and working with unmotivated students. Bernard also found that there was a greater than average level of absenteeism among the teaching staff at this site, which meant an increase in substitute teachers, who often “had no lesson plan available.”

Bernard also spoke about several other areas in which he found problems, including a lack of communication with parents, site safety, on-campus suspension, tardiness, uniforms, and cafeteria issues. He concluded by urging the Board to implement needed recommendations, monitor their effectiveness, and conduct another review within the next four to five months.

Following the presentation made by Bernard, the AUSD Superintendent, Gill, again addressed the board. “Some of these recommendations Bernard mentioned are already in place,” he said. He went on to inform the Board that up to two positions for “opportunity school” teachers had been posted and applicants were already available for interview.

In other news, two speakers addressed the recent petition by teachers from Dozier Libbey Medical High School to convert the school to a charter school. Both expressed concern about the move, which teachers at the school made because of what they characterized as philosophical differences with AUSD with respect to their original mission. Almost all (88%) of the teachers at the school signed the petition, and the Board must now respond with a hearing on the matter within a month.

Share this:
email Antioch School District investigation confirms problems at Black Diamond Middle School su Antioch School District investigation confirms problems at Black Diamond Middle School digg Antioch School District investigation confirms problems at Black Diamond Middle School fb Antioch School District investigation confirms problems at Black Diamond Middle School twitter Antioch School District investigation confirms problems at Black Diamond Middle School

Watchdog – Background on the charter school vote at Dozier-Libbey

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Watchdog Logo 300x95 Watchdog – Background on the charter school vote at Dozier LibbeyBy Barbara Zivica

On February 20th, 20 members of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School’s faculty met with a charter conversion consultant and a representative from Clayton Valley Charter High School. Following a lengthy discussion the group unanimously decided to file a petition with the Antioch Unified School District 30 days before the last March school board meeting requesting to convert to an independent public charter high school. (A charter school is a school which receives public funding but operates independently).

I suspect what led to this decision was that the AUSD had been diluting the curriculum at Dozier-Libbey with courses unrelated to its original mission, eliminated the school’s “No D Policy” and allowed students to opt out of some courses. The diverging philosophies between the AUSD and faculty were hindering teachers from carrying out the innovative programs and curricula they built and which made the school a nationally-recognized model.

The reason for the rush to file the petition without including parents, classified staff and the principal was due to concern that, if word got out, the school would have no protection from district-directed personnel changes prior to the petition being filed.

Several public information sessions will be scheduled in the very near future as well as an online forum where parents, students and community members can share input and post questions.

Share this:
email Watchdog – Background on the charter school vote at Dozier Libbey su Watchdog – Background on the charter school vote at Dozier Libbey digg Watchdog – Background on the charter school vote at Dozier Libbey fb Watchdog – Background on the charter school vote at Dozier Libbey twitter Watchdog – Background on the charter school vote at Dozier Libbey

Antioch’s Dozier-Libbey Medical High School teachers vote to convert to a charter school

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

On Monday, February 24, 2014, in an effort to remain true to the original mission of an innovative California pathway high school whose vision is “Every student valued, every student challenged, every student prepared to succeed in a changing world,” a petition to convert to an independent public charter high school was filed with the Antioch Unified School District on behalf of the students, faculty, and staff of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School.  This petition was signed by 88% of the tenured teachers at the site, well above the required 50% needed to file, and is expected to be reviewed by district leadership over the next 30 days.

Reasons cited for the conversion included, among others, diverging philosophies between the district and site staffs for program implementation at this dynamic health career–themed school. While faculty and staff at this close-knit school serving just over 600 students regret having to part ways with their school district, most are very optimistic about what the future holds for them and the students as a California conversion charter school. None of the teachers were opposed to the charter conversion. Teachers are looking forward to carrying out the original vision of the school that has been clouded by the district’s cumbersome management and decision-making process. The school will continue to offer a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, with a health care career emphasis, that exceeds traditional academic instructions with a focus on mastery learning and in-class supports for struggling students.

The school will remain a public school with the same admission and enrollment policies that existed under the district.  All students currently enrolled at DLMHS will be guaranteed admission to the charter once converted. As evidenced by the strong show of support for the petition by permanent certificated staff, almost all of the faculty is expected to stay on. Reasons for not electing to stay are largely due to personal and professional considerations. Without exception, DLMHS teachers are in support of the charter conversion.

Dozier-Libbey Medical High School opened its doors to 9th graders in 2008 and subsequently added a grade level each year until full enrollment in 2012.  Founded in response to overcrowding in Antioch Unified School District’s two comprehensive high schools, the Superintendent at that time saw an opportunity to open a different kind of school. He was interested in building a high school that had a career focus. He convened community leaders and business people to investigate the labor force needs and they discovered that health care would have the highest employment possibility and that the land adjacent to the space where the new school would be built was going to have a medical facility built on it at the same time. The district made the decision to open a new small school with a healthcare focus. An advisory committee comprised of teachers, district representatives, community members, school founders, and a CEO of the local hospital was formed to oversee the school’s development.

Share this:
email Antiochs Dozier Libbey Medical High School teachers vote to convert to a charter school su Antiochs Dozier Libbey Medical High School teachers vote to convert to a charter school digg Antiochs Dozier Libbey Medical High School teachers vote to convert to a charter school fb Antiochs Dozier Libbey Medical High School teachers vote to convert to a charter school twitter Antiochs Dozier Libbey Medical High School teachers vote to convert to a charter school

Antioch High baseball coaches on administrative leave following allegations of inappropriate conduct

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

By Luke Johnson

Antioch High principal Louie Rocha placed five baseball coaches, including seven-year varsity head coach Ben Juarez, on administrative leave last Wednesday, while the Antioch Unified School District investigates allegations of “inappropriate conduct.”

First-year Antioch High P.E. teacher and junior varsity head coach Carlos Gonzales has been appointed as interim varsity coach.

I received written statements by a number of people about some of the serious allegations that were being made,” Rocha said. “Based on that, we decided to place the coaches on administrative leave.”

The allegations are about a situation that happened during last baseball season, and AUSD’s Superintendant of Human Resources Keith Rogenski is investigating the matter.

JasonSparkyBray Tweet Antioch High baseball coaches on administrative leave following allegations of inappropriate conductOne returning Antioch High Senior varsity and All-BVAL baseball player posted a message on Twitter about the issue.

“Tbh [To be honest] those coaches have taught me everything I know for the last 6 years, and these ‘allegations’ being brought up are completely false,” said Jason “Sparky” Bray.

Juarez’s wife took to Facebook to express her thoughts on the matter.

These allegations are false and are all brought about by a crazy parent whose son was being threatened to be cut from the team because he was suspended for sexual harassment and threatening to blow up the school,” Kristen Hammer Juarez stated in a post.

Kristen Hammer Juarez FB comment Antioch High baseball coaches on administrative leave following allegations of inappropriate conduct

In the meantime, teachers at Antioch High with baseball experience along with alum and former World Series Champion Aaron Miles have stepped up as assistant coaches.

The Antioch community is just so supportive,” Gonzales said. “For an ex-Major Leaguer to come back to his alma mater and help out and give his time, just to have him on the field, is a joy and a blessing.”

Rocha and Gonzales would not elaborate on the details, only saying the matter is under investigation.

In Juarez’s seven-year tenure at Antioch High he has posted a 61-106 record, without any playoff appearances or a single season with a winning record.

Share this:
email Antioch High baseball coaches on administrative leave following allegations of inappropriate conduct su Antioch High baseball coaches on administrative leave following allegations of inappropriate conduct digg Antioch High baseball coaches on administrative leave following allegations of inappropriate conduct fb Antioch High baseball coaches on administrative leave following allegations of inappropriate conduct twitter Antioch High baseball coaches on administrative leave following allegations of inappropriate conduct