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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Early Release of Test Scores Reveals a Failing Emery School District

Prospects for African American Students 
Dim at Emery

Teachers Warning of Consequences of "Racist Practices"
Appear to be Vindicated

Black Students "Not Served"

News Analysis
Emery Unified School District released an early peek at last season’s yet to be officially released state sanctioned student test scores at Wednesday’s School Board meeting revealing a school wide drop in academic achievement and a district with vexatious problems educating African American students specifically. The disturbing figures come on the heels of a June 15th School Board meeting where nine teachers rose to give warning of such negative consequences as a result of “racist practices” implemented by School Superintendent John Rubio.
 At the Wednesday night meeting, high school principal Jessica Goode said the numbers she called “repugnant”, showed that African American students “are not being served” at the beleaguered school district despite an attempt by Mr Rubio to spin the data to show the opposite.

The presenter of the data at the meeting, Dr Kell, an Emery administrator, indicated the District has formulated a plan to deal with the plunging test scores involving "integrating horizontal and vertical coherence" and a call to "improve the organizational climate" among other ideas. The three Board members attending the meeting Wednesday night seemed to take the bad news in stride but member Cruz Vargas said he was happy the District had come up with a plan to turn the numbers around for next year.
School Board Member
Cruz Vargas

A self described "numbers man",
Cruz didn't say anything about the low
test score numbers but he's happy
there's a plan to turn test scores
 around for next year.

The taxpayer investment of $100 million in a new school campus last year had no affect on a persistent pattern of falling test scores at Emery since Superintendent Rubio was hired three years ago. Despite a decade of promises that the gleaming new facilities at the Emeryville Center of Community Life would help bring up scores on their own, the bad numbers revealed Wednesday were seen by the Superintendent as a chance to countervail the charges of racism from the teachers by using the data to show a rising African American student cohort as compared with others even as test scores within that cohort still showed a decline.

District Spins Racial Achievement Gap 
The achievement gap is measured as the difference between the highest achieving racial cohort, traditionally Asians at Emery and their inverse, African Americans.  Mr Rubio took pains to show a closing gap between academic school year 2015-16 and 2016-17 by using plunging test scores of Asian students, an 11% drop, contrasted by African American student’s drop of 4% netting a 8% drop in the achievement gap in English Language test scores.  The exorcise in abject legerdemain by Mr Rubio net a 9% drop in the math achievement gap using the same tactics, leveraging a 12% drop in Asian student test scores against a 3% drop for African Americans.  If the Superintendent was queasy massaging the numbers to show student success by highlighting one group of student's relative uptick by leveraging the failure of another group, he didn't show it.

Rubio Celebrates 'Student Success' 
While the Superintendent unveiled his brand after he was hired by the Board in the form of a new slogan for Emery, “Partners Power Student Success”, Emery Unified’s state testing results have deteriorated since the implementation of the new slogan, this year’s being the worst yet. The preliminary data given Wednesday proved 75% of students did not meet the state standards in English Language Arts.  Last year less than 1 in 3 students met the English Language Art Standards.   Only 30% of the students were proficient or above in ELA, tied with Oakland Schools.  Now down to 1 in 4, it’s possible Emery has dropped below Oakland.  In Math, the story is even worse.  About 1 in 5 students met the standard for mathematics.  Only 79% of the students failed to meet the standard. Last year, Emery was 1% higher than OUSD causing speculation about if that stays true, or given the trajectory, if Emery is now already at the bottom of Alameda County Schools.

A Brief Rise Before Rubio, Then Return To Failure 
The goal of building the Emeryville Center of Community Life was to build on the success that Emery achieved after coming out of receivership.  From 2007 to 2010, Emery improved its academic achievement each year.  Testing was suspended by the state as California transitioned to the Common Core and computer based ‘Smarter Balanced’ assessments.  Testing resumed in Mr Rubio’s first year with the district and that’s when the progress stalled, then reversed.  Each subsequent year as test scores are released, Emery struggles to paint a rosy picture and urges patience until a new plan takes effect for the next year.  Last year at a presentation by the new high school principal, Ms. Goode, she described her plan to improve math performance.  One Board member at the time, Christian Patz (currently a City Council Member) questioned how the new plan was different from the previous plan.  Ms. Goode did not have an answer.
The same could have been asked of the newest plan, rich in arcane academic jargon but lacking in detail, regardless of the excited exclamations from Board member Vargas who as a self described “numbers man” has said he understands that ‘rebranding’ matters and the use of words like ‘innovation’ are good tools to flash.

Black Students Not Served
There were some positives in this year's test scores, white students improved their math and language arts scores by 5%.  Interesting since Mr Rubio worked hard to change Emery’s previous mission statement which included the phrase, “To End Racist and Classist Practices.” Since that change, outgoing staff have told the school board about their concerns about how people of color are treated on campus.  Now the achievement gap, the difference between the how students of color do versus white has grown, despite the Superintendent’s attempt to obscure that fact.  White students attending Emery were twice as likely to have met the standards in math than African American students.  The gap was even larger in English Language Arts.  The achievement gap at Emery is significantly smaller than the gap in state test scores (based on prior year tests) because white students in Emery score well below the state average, as do African American students.  Asian students in Emery had the biggest decline, dropping double digits in both Language Arts and Math.  English Learners remained about the same, while Latinos, the fastest growing group at Emery and the state, matched the District’s 5% drop.

It should be noted that the scores reported come from the district’s presentation to the school board on September 13, 2017.  The state has not yet released scores to the public.  Comparisons to other districts or the state for this story were made using last year’s scores and the numbers just pre-released by Emery.








Sunday, September 3, 2017

City Staff Holds General Plan in Contempt

Contemptuous Staff and Weak City Council Means the People's Will is Ignored

Family Friendly Homes Keep Getting Torn Down Because That's What the Staff Wants

con·tempt
kənˈtem(p)t
noun
The feeling that (a person or) a thing is beneath consideration or worthless.

News Analysis

For the upcoming City Council September 5th meeting, Emeryville’s city staff, in seeking to grant a developer permission to tear down two houses on Doyle Street, has prepared a report for the Council that deprives them critical information that the two single family houses are in a General Plan protected ‘zone of stability’ and shouldn’t be torn down.  This comes after the staff also hid that fact from the Planning Commission in July.  
It’s not a mistake; the failure to inform the Council (and the Planning Commission) about such houses has been an ongoing issue for the staff ever since the General Plan was implemented in 2009.  It’s part of a pattern and practice that’s been firmly established by a recalcitrant Emeryville city staff that’s contemptuous of our General Plan.

Contemptuous is not too strong a word. Seven times in the last two years, homes in the zone of stability have been proposed by developers for demolition.  In seven out of seven cases, the staff has recommended the Council approve demolition.  That fact tells us the staff, specifically the Planning Department, doesn’t like the zone of stability provisions within the General Plan. Rather, they prefer to tear down homes in our town, zone or no zone.  But more tellingly and more contemptuously, for seven out of seven of those cases, the staff has seen fit to deny the City Council and Planning Commission the fact that the houses in question are in the zone of stability; the very information the decision makers need to make an informed decision.  In fact not once in eight years has the city staff informed the decision makers the information they need to know that a home in question is in the zone of stability.  It betrays their not-so-hidden contempt for democratic processes and contempt for our General Plan.
City Manager Carolyn Lehr
During her tenure at least four houses
in the zone of stability have been demolished
or approved for demolition in accordance

with her recommendations.
As an overseer of the Planning Director, she 

has made sure the City Council has
been unaware the homes were 
in the 
zone of stability as they 
approved destruction.

The ineradicable protections of the zone of stability language notwithstanding, the staff is free to recommend the Council approve a tear down for any home a developer wants to demolish, even those in the zone.  It’s their job to recommend whatever they feel is best, given their encircling directives.  However they are not free to withhold information, especially as derived from our General Plan, that could effect the elected official’s decisions.  Clearly, of all of the houses demolished since 2009, the fact that they were in the zone of stability if made known to the Council, would have affected their decisions about tearing them down.  There is a chance some might have been saved.

The Tattler has alerted the Council and the staff of this governmental breakdown for years but the staff persists in keeping the Council members in the dark regarding homes in the zone of stability.  There’s no conceivable rational argument to be made there’s anything going on here other than a rouge agency pressing its desires by means of deception... and that constitutes contempt.

It should be pointed out that the General Plan represents the will of the people of Emeryville.  The stuff in there is what we want.  We know that by virtue of the fact it’s in the democratically vetted Plan.  We know the staff doesn’t like the General Plan.  It probably feels constraining to them. We know the City Council up to now has not done the people’s bidding with regard to the zone of stability, otherwise at least some of these homes would have been saved over the years.  
We also know that the type of housing protected from demolition by the General Plan, detached single family homes, represent the most family friendly housing there is.  That’s been well documented.  The people of Emeryville had an innate sense of this when they crafted the General Plan.  The elite in Emeryville don’t care about any of that as judged by their record on this.  
Regardless they’re being kept in the dark by the staff, we shouldn’t be facile about this; the Council has been busy tearing down this family friendly housing stock, built before the term ‘family friendly’ was invented, and over the last two or three years, the Council has been trying to build new “family friendly housing” by use of developers.  The result has been disappointing by any metric.  Emeryville continues to be the worst city in the East Bay as far as families go.


The politics in Emeryville is locked.  The pro-developer former City Council majority hired the staff we have and the new ‘progressive’ Council majority so far hasn’t found the strength to impose its own vision for development in our town.  Perhaps it puts too much stock in the juris prudence artifice of stare decisis.  Appearently the people, as they say, will have to wait.
Earns Two Smiling Nora Davis'!
Nora Davis smiles down on her 
hand picked city staff.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Emeryville Police: Babies and Batons

Emeryville sent their police to help Berkeley PD keep the peace at an anti-Nazi rally at Berkeley City Hall today. The peaceful demonstration included many Bay Area social justice organizations, including labor groups such as SEIU and clergy from interfaith groups.  The protest was attended by many families including lots of babies.  Emeryville police were there, in muscular force (if not their awareness of the bad optics) with full riot gear and they donned their gas masks amid the grandmothers and baby carriages.
Notable among the police forces: virtually no other police (including Berkeley and Oakland) had the gas masks on.
UPDATE/CORRECTION: 8/28 10:35  An Emeryville police spokesperson reports that some Berkeley police had gas masks on (perhaps five or so) at the time.  Oakland police did not and neither did the vast majority of Berkeley police.  The babies there also did not have gas masks on.
 
Today at 1:30 PM in front of Berkeley City Hall, Emeryville sends its representatives:

Friday, August 18, 2017

Follow Up Friday: Pledge of Allegiance Quietly Dropped at School Board Meetings

Loyalty Oath Coercion Deemed Inappropriate at School District 

Follow Up Friday: we look back on previous stories; what's happened after our spotlight shined on it?  If there was a problem identified, has it been solved?  Has there been no change and the amount of elapsed time made the issue newsworthy again by virtue of that fact?  Look to Follow Up Friday to wrap it all up or to highlight for us all how lame our city can be.


First it was the Emeryville City Council meetings, and now it's the Emery School Board meetings: it seems a wave of godless communism has washed over our city.  Or non-divisive rational politics.
A spokesperson from the Emery Unified School District who wishes anonymity reports that Superintendent John Rubio and Board President Donn Merriam have decided the loyalty oath known as the Pledge of Allegiance has no place at School Board meetings and it's been quietly dropped.

Long Time Coming
After decades of dutifully administering the Pledge before meetings, suddenly the Board announced they would consider eliminating the controversial religious and robotic loyalty oath in 2011 after parents complained.  At the time, then Board President Josh Simon told the Tattler he expected they would eventually remove the Pledge agenda item from meetings but cautioned it would take "more than a month or two" of deliberations.

The Tattler long made hay of the mindless recital of the Pledge, noting it had the effect of cancelling out a self stated School District goal that students learn critical thinking skills.  It was an argument that parents took up, several making their views known to the Board.  In the end, the Board deliberations, if they even occurred, stretched on for six more years before they dropped the god and country 'right or wrong' trope and succumbed to rationality based non-divisive meetings earlier this month.

The City Council voted to remove the loyalty oath from public meetings in January after years of cajoling from the Tattler.  It's noteworthy and likely telling the Council finally took action on this fake patriotism right before President Trump took office, avoiding the unseemly spectacle of Emeryville City Council members effectively pledging their loyalty to Donald Trump.
Watching their lips closely over the last few years, it became more and more obvious that neither the City Council members nor the Board members themselves were actually verbalizing the Pledge after they had been asking the public to "stand and join" them each time.
Emeryville from 1896 to 2017

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Acquiescent City Council End Runs Around Noise Ordinance


All Developers Get Free Pass on 
Noise Ordinance 

New Interpretation Strips Ordinance of Meaning

"Public Benefit" Drives Waivers
Diminished Law Exists Only Now in Name


News Analysis/Opinion
The Emeryville City Council moved to greatly expand the conditions for noise ordinance waiver requests from developers on July 25th when the developer of the Public Marketplace was issued a permit to work on Saturdays in order to “finish the project more quickly”.  The new paradigm revealed itself when the Council majority (Patz, Medina dissenting) ceded to the pleading developer after they found that because the project has public benefit, ipso facto a waiver should therefore be granted.  The bold new idea is that any project that has public benefit should supersede and be allowed to bypass the public’s expectation for peace and quiet. To speed the benefit of the project to the public you understand.

How thoughtful of them.

In fact it was a remarkably egregious City Council assessment that turned a deaf ear to the original precepts for Emeryville’s beleaguered noise ordinance but perhaps more astonishing was not what was said, rather what was left unsaid: every development project approved by the City of Emeryville has public benefit.  They don’t get approved around here if they are found to not have public benefit.  And that means every development from now on gets a carte blanche noise ordinance waiver.  It’s taken as a tautology.  And that means there’s no need for the City of Emeryville to have a noise ordinance any more.
Mayor Scott Donahue &
Councilwoman Dianne Martinez

They swear to get developers their
noise ordinance waivers.

Frankly, we’ll miss watching developers squirm before the cameras.  For the new metrics of the noise ordinance finally puts to bed the endless procession of poor, woeful developers sheepishly appearing before the City Council asking for waivers for a host of reasons including the ever popular ‘rain delay’.  Because rain unexpectedly falling in the rainy season is not something that could be planned for so can you give us a break Emeryville City Council? (because who could have anticipated THAT?), made even more brazenly when it was invoked by Turner Construction as they built the ECCL during last year’s worse ever drought in California.  Sometimes developers will dispense with all that and report they should get a waiver just because they really, really want one (as Wareham Devlopment did recently). 
Each time since the ordinance was encoded, developers seeking waivers have publicly contorted or even debased themselves, the Council has felt their pain and granted a waiver, no matter the reason provided.  The groveling spectacle has brought much comic relief to the sometimes boring Council meetings; watching these greedy developers go through their stations of the cross before the Council (themselves also performing for the cameras, feigning resident fealty), on the road to delivering their maximized quarterly profits to their shareholders.
Vice Mayor John Bauters
It's best if we can speed
up these projects.
The noise ordinance only
slows them down.

The new interpretation of the ordinance; dispensing with the sideshow of developers carping about what constitutes a reasonable hardship and simply granting the waivers pell mell based on speeding up public benefit will certainly speed up the meetings and remove embarrassment for all concerned but we have an even better idea. Let’s stop the charade and finally get rid of this asinine noise ordinance of ours.  It’s never worked as it was intended to and has only served to give a sense of legitimacy for our town (see? Emeryville’s got a noise ordinance too, just like real cities).  

The removal of the Noise Ordinance, if the Council has the cajones to do it, will finally bring some kind of silence, if only poetic;  it’s abolishment will likely happen quietly in the night.  Residents will not notice any change whatsoever in the extra weekend traffic, dust and loud construction.  That goes on unabated in Emeryville, with or without a noise ordinance. 
Earns One Smiling Nora Davis!
Nora Davis Smiles Down on 

Scott Donahue, Dianne Martinez 
and John Bauters.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Follow Up Friday: EBI Pedestrian Path



EBI Path Traded Away, Nothing Gained

City Hall Promises Forsaken

Introducing a new Tattler feature: Follow Up Friday.  We look back on previous stories; what's happened after our spotlight shined on it?  If there was a problem identified, has it been solved?  Has there been no change and the amount of elapsed time made the issue newsworthy again by virtue of that fact?  Look to Follow Up Friday to wrap it all up or to highlight for us all how lame our city can be.

The City of Emeryville has reneged on its own requirement to spend $525,000 to build a replacement pedestrian amenity, money made in trade for removing a developer's requirement to build a bike path at a San Pablo Avenue construction project in 2016.  The EBI pedestrian path, a General Plan mandated pedestrian corridor would have connected 45th and 47th streets and helped pedestrians in the Triangle neighborhood make north/south connections in that notoriously disconnected neighborhood.
  
The EBI Path was "in the can", all the details worked out and ready for construction.  Residents in the Triangle neighborhood would now be using the path except the City Council in April of 2016 voted to amend our General Plan to remove the path at the insistence of the Escuela Bilingue Internacional, a private school on San Pablo Avenue.
At the time, the City Council told Triangle residents they needed more exercise and the removal of the short-cut path would force them to walk more, a good thing.  Providing other reasons to remove the pedestrian amenity, the Council also stated the path would be a safety risk and asserted gang rapists would be lurking there.
Nonetheless, after giving away the path, the Council told Emeryville residents they would use the in-leau fees paid by EBI to instead make a replacement path connecting the same streets but further east.  The Tattler reported that switch would cost an additional million dollars at least but the City officially continued to work towards that goal.
Until recently.
The mid-block replacement connection nixed, City Hall has now also ruled out using the EBI money to open the long lost "Pickle Works" path connecting Doyle and 53rd streets, long a source of frustration for bikers and walkers seeking convenience in our town and once talked about as an alternate thing to spend the EBI money on.  High costs associated with seizing the property from a private land holder is cited as the reason.

Any replacement path would cost more than the $525,000 the City got from EBI and the budget being in turmoil at City Hall such that it is, it appears pedestrian needs, once traded away, will not be addressed by Emeryville. City Hall has no plans whatsoever to replace the lost EBI pedestrian path, the money remains unspent and pedestrian needs unmet.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Alameda County District Attorney Brings Charges in Emery Sexual Assault Case

District Attorney's Charge Questions Emery Schools Superintendent's Aplomb

Rubio Twists in the Wind

News that the Alameda County District Attorney's office has brought charges against a 17 year old student for sexually assaulting a 15 year old at Emery Secondary School last May and not reported to police by the Superintendent brings fresh allegations in the ongoing story against the Superintendent who continues to claim he was correct to not call the police upon learning of the assault.  News of the charges brought by the County was reported by East Bay Times investigative reporter Matthias Gafni today who also alerted readers that Emeryville's Chief of Police has backtracked on initial reports that Mr Rubio had violated mandated reporter law by not calling the police after he learned about the alleged assault (along with another alleged assault the week before at Emery).
Mr Rubio's insistence he did nothing wrong by not calling the police is refuted by Bill Grimm, senior attorney for the National Center for Youth Law whom the East Bay Times story quotes, "School personnel mistakenly believe that they need to conduct some investigation of suspected abuse/neglect before they report [to police]...If in doubt, report!"

The mandated reporter law requires professionals who work with children, including teachers, school administrators, psychologists and others to notify police or child protective services when they receive a report of alleged abuse.  The law states that “No proof of abuse or neglect is needed, only ‘reasonable suspicion’ that child abuse or neglect may have occurred.” 
Emery Schools Superintendent
John Rubio

He says he knows the children lied
about the assaults.  The Alameda County
District Attorney believes the children.
The Superintendent has invoked a clause within the mandated reporter law that permits someone such as a school superintendent to not report if there is absolute certainty no crime happened.  For Mr Rubio, who was not witness to the alleged crimes, to not be guilty of the law's failure to report provisions, he would have to have no doubt whatsoever that the incidents did not take place and be in a position to provide reasonable evidence to support that claim.

However, Mr Rubio's claim is severely weakened by the fact that the guardians of the abused children thought the assaults had taken place and they themselves, without the District's help, filed police reports.  Further eroding Mr Rubio's claims of innocence is today's revelation from the East Bay Times that Alameda County puts enough stock in the belief that at least one assault took place that they directed prosecutors to bring charges in the case.

The East Bay Times story reveals another case of twisted logic needed to clear the Superintendent in our town.  In an interview with the Times and its 500,000+ circulation, Emeryville's Chief of Police, Jennifer Tejada appears to be protecting Superintendent Rubio.  Regarding what the newspaper calls a "backtrack" on Mr Rubio's culpability, Chief Tejada is now positing that Superintendent Rubio could not have known for certain that assaults did not take place and also simultaneously that it is acceptable that he did know that with certainty and that he is therefore innocent of violating the mandated reporter law.  For its part, the Alameda County District Attorney says there is not enough evidence against Mr Rubio to bring charges for violating the notoriously difficult to prosecute mandated reporter law.

Emeryville City Council members have expressed desire to further investigate the case involving Superintendent Rubio and the Emery Unified School District to whom they are contractually bound to with the city/schools campus at the Center of Community Life, the site of the alleged sexual assaults.

The Tattler broke the story HERE.

The East Bay Times story is HERE.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

We Need a New Schools Superintendent: Time For Rubio To Go

Three Board Members Hold Emery's Future in Their Hands

Opinion
It has become increasingly clear that it is time for the Emery School Board to fire Emery Schools Superintendent John Rubio.
Seemingly every week, fresh revelations centered on the Superintendent brings the drip, drip, drip of more scandal to a District that's already up to its neck in it.
This last week we are spectators to the ECCL warranty train wreak: the Superintendent hiding the fact that the District only has a few months left on the construction warranty for the new ECCL schools/community center campus, the remainders of just one year, after assuring us for months we would have two full years.  Taxpayers will likely be left holding the bag on a poorly built project, with no recompense because we'll have run out of time to effect repairs under warranty.
A thorough investigation of the construction defects at the ECCL, actively (albeit reluctantly) under discussion by the Board, becomes more imperative with the revelation of the new time constraint.  But in a one-two punch to the taxpayers, this is unlikely because of obstinacy from the Superintendent.  As such, Mr Rubio let his insubordination flag fly last month when he told the Board that he wouldn't be willing to do work towards initiating any audit of the ECCL project, neither construction, performance nor financial.

It was pretty unseemly hearing a superintendent tell his employers he won't do as he's told but three years into the Rubio administration at Emery, we weren't really surprised.  Before last week's scandals, Mr Rubio has been called out for racism by the teachers, accused of breaking the law by hindering transparency by community members, chastised by a City Council member for not paying taxes for the District, failed to provide required documents to the press, booed by parents at an after school celebration (!), charged with holding secret white staff only interviews, and yet another teacher has resigned from the district, despite the Superintendent's assertion that would not happen, bringing the total this school year (2016-2017) to fourteen, fifteen if you include the Elementary Principal.
That degradation only adds to another Rubio fiasco; the deplorable state of teacher retention at Emery, the worst of any school district in the entire Bay Area on his watch.  And of course we shouldn't leave out mention of the 'mandated reporter' scandal; Superintendent Rubio's failing to call police after two reported cases of student sexual assault on campus.  Parents believed their children's accounting and went to the police with the assault allegations on their own but the Superintendent said the students were lying and he never notified the police of the incidents as the law states he must (please use the search bar above for more information on all these scandals).

Indeed, Mr Rubio's entire term here at Emery has been one scandal after another, starting his first week on the job when, without even a cursory public records check,  he hired a well documented sexual predator to serve as principal of the elementary school, costing the District almost $100,000.  Mr Rubio's penchant for secrecy net Emery at least two disparaging newspaper articles by the East Bay Times after he orchestrated a major Brown Act violation.  He was caught holding a behind closed doors meeting in his office with a Board quorum before a regularly scheduled Board meeting.  Under discussion at the secret meeting were fiscal matters, as the District was preparing to sell another municipal bond. After at first lying about the meeting, he later apologized after the East Bay Times made hay of it.

As reported in the Tattler, on June 15th, nine individuals spoke to Rubio's racism and incompetence. Board members Donn Merriam, Cruz Vargas, and Bailey Langer sat in disinterested silence as the parade of disgruntled educators described the toxic environment Rubio has created at the ECCL.  Given the number of speakers and information covered, Mr Rubio took the video of the meeting home to "prepare the minutes." The result was a white wash of the Board minutes; all reference to his poor job performance scrubbed from the official record of the meeting.  
The Board's refusal to rewrite the minutes to accurately document the teacher's charges against Mr Rubio tells us this Board majority isn't interested in doing the work needed to provide a base level of stability or competency any education agency needs to properly function, let alone teach children.  
And that is at the root of Emery's existential problems; a deluded and compliant board majority in the thrall of a dysfunctional superintendent.  Outwardly, this is a seemingly intractable problem for Emery.  That's why we need to throw a monkey wrench into the gears of this thing; cause a change up.  We've been demoralized having now had two bad superintendents in a row.  But we don't believe in fate or the turpitude of original sin.  We're not paying now for some past horrific transgression; we can find a good superintendent for this beleaguered school district.  There are good people out there, we could find one.  Any change in leadership will almost certainly bring relief to the long suffering citizens, teachers, parents and children of Emery Unified.


For these reasons, we call on Board members Donn Merriam, Cruz Vargas, and Bailey Langner, so far inextricably standing by the Superintendent, to acquiesce to the ceaseless drip, drip, drip and fire Rubio now for cause (plenty of that) as opposed to waiting out the end of his contract.


Bailey Langner
Donn Merriam

Cruz Vargas

The three Board members above need to stop looking out after the interests of John Rubio and start looking out after our interests: citizens, parents and children.  We don't deserve all this chaos.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Oops! Construction Warranty on New $100 Million School Covers One Year, Not Two

Forced into a corner, Emeryville School Superintendent John Rubio reveals construction warranty ends in a 
matter of months.

By Lillian Schroth

Emeryville School Superintendent John Rubio notified the School Board and City Council Monday that the construction warranty on the city’s new $100 million school campus – plagued by ongoing construction problems since it opened last fall – expires in just a few short months.

This despite repeated public assurances from Rubio and the liaison for builder Turner Construction that any problems with the city-school project, known as the Emeryville Center of Community Life (ECCL), would be covered under warranty through 2018.
Superintendent John Rubio
Claims he "just found out."

Perhaps more surprising is Rubio’s failure to notify the School Board and City Council sooner. Despite the looming deadline, and a long list of needed repairs, Rubio sat on the information for weeks. In fact, he shared the news only after repeated questioning from this reporter, saying he "just found out."

Rubio disclosed the truth Monday night after a meeting of the Measure J Citizens Oversight Committee (COC), which is charged with monitoring school project expenditures. After the meeting, several COC members were questioned about significant, ongoing issues with the building. COC member Josh Simon, former Emeryville School Board President and director of a non-profit that builds affordable housing, said it was important that the district submit a “warranty list” within year one of the warranty to ensure repairs are made.

When asked when that first year of the two-year warranty was up, Rubio said he wasn't sure. When pressed, he said “I think” the entire warranty is actually only one year (not two) from the time construction was completed last fall. He also suggested that the warranty period might be different for different buildings. For example, the gym was the first building to be completed, he said, so the warranty for that would expire first.

When asked if he had told the School Board, he said “I think I told one or two members.”

Shortly after the Monday evening discussion, Rubio sent an email to the entire School Board and City Council notifying them of the update. He explained there had been a "miscommunication" around the length of the warranty.

“It’s Kind of a Big Mistake”

Rubio insisted that he had “just found out,” as did John Baker of Swinerton Construction, the high-priced middle man between the School District and Turner. Baker was tasked with monitoring, negotiating, and communicating construction details and costs. The School District recently closed out the Swinerton/Baker contract for more than $1 million.

“It’s kind of a big mistake,” Rubio said Monday of Baker’s failure to know and/or communicate the limited warranty period.

In a follow up email exchange today, Rubio explains:

I didn’t recall specifically how this came to light so I went back to search my email and discovered it was a conversation that you actually prompted in mid-May as an email question to John Baker.
This resulted in a conversation between him and Turner, where Turner told John Baker it was a 1 year warranty.
That later resulted in another response that Swinerton disagreed and had different documents that showed 2 years.
I asked an attorney who reviewed their email (and … was involved in the ECCL construction contract negotiations between the city, district and Turner in 2014), and he was able to identify and confirm that outside of items specifically calling for longer warranties (e.g. the roof), all other areas fall under a one year warranty. 

John Baker, the $1 Million Man
Despite his very expensive advice and
monitoring, the School District
suffered costly mistakes.
Perhaps he was one of them.
John Baker’s May 19th response to the email question cited by Rubio above: “The warranty started at Final Completion (12/5/16). The Lease-leaseback contract stipulates a 2-year warranty period.” He never followed up with the public, the School Board or the City Council, when he realized his mistake.

It is possible that Baker, and perhaps Rubio, knew much sooner. During a March 25 School Board meeting, Baker presented a slide that showed the warranty expiring at the end of this year. Rubio nor the School Board questioned it. When a local resident did, Baker said it was a “typo.”

In a series of progress reports to the Board prior to March, Baker said the project was covered under a two-year warranty.

In an email sent today, Rubio said “city staff and I have confirmed that the warranty period allows us to submit items up until 12/5/17.”

He added, “It’s my understanding that the standard for construction projects of this size only usually have a 1-year warranty.”

Two Year Warranty(?)
John Baker presentation slide to the School Board
August 24th, 2016
He said there are several items that have longer, manufacturer warranties including door hardware and “Package Terminal” air conditioners.

Two Year Warranty(?)
John Baker presentation slide to the School Board
January 25th, 2017
Following are Rubio’s email answers to questions about the warranty period, the warranty list, including rusting gates, and a possible audit of Measure J/ECCL funds. (The exchange has been edited down for readability.)

Q: When did you make the call on the metal to be used on the gates? … So, you got ungalvanized when it was supposed to be galvanized?

A: I am upset by this issue. The city and district had a long list of items we considered to save money. It was not, unfortunately, ever pointed out to me or the city staff that the original gates/gate design came back into the project (and I believe off of the budget savings list) in a different form that meant that they would not be galvanized – and more importantly, no one explained or communicated the implications or importance of this. In other words, I don’t believe I was ever specifically asked to make a decision about the gates as one particular item (i.e. they were part of a very long list of potential savings items), and certainly I wasn’t informed of the pro’s or con’s (or any information that I recall) regarding this. If you were told otherwise, I think that’s false. Turner is being responsive to this issue and they are returning in the next couple weeks to redo the gates.

Q. How much did we pay John Baker and what was his formal job title/role/responsibility?

A. I am not aware of his salary – or what other projects or jobs he managed besides ECCL during our project. The overall budget for everything going into this project seemed to me to be always set to be as low as possible to attempt to keep the project below a specific amount the council had in mind for several years – that seemed to be the mindset when I arrived - the problem (or reality) was that the economy and thus bay area construction costs were quickly going up when the project was finally approved in August of 2014 – so the amount paid to Swinerton, Turner, and all the subs I think created some limitations to the amount of time and staff (and design) of the project.

Q. One more thing - you said you were organizing some kind of meeting with all the people involved in the project - architects, turner, etc. What is the purpose and what school board meeting is it scheduled for? Are you thinking this is in place of an audit?


A. I haven’t made progress on this yet, but I was planning on having all of the entities present to the board and take questions so the board could determine if they believed an audit was needed. 

                                                                                                        

Lillian Schroth is a journalist, activist and founder/editor of The Secret News, a local blog (currently on hiatus).  She has lived in Emeryville for 14 years.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Wreaking Ball to Take Out More Single Family Homes in Emeryville's 'Zone of Stability'

Planning Director Charlie Bryant:
Mum's the Word on the Zones of Stability

He Thinks it's Best if Decision Makers are Kept in the Dark

News Analysis

Will someone get up and change the record? It keeps skipping, playing the same thing over and over.

Next up for the wreaking ball in Emeryville are two existing adjacent single family homes on Doyle Street, to be replaced with a six-plex condo scheme, divided into to two three-plexes siding a mews.  And the whole thing is aided by a City Staff that thinks it's best if the Planning Commission deciders don't know that the homes in question are in a planning zone meant to save this housing stock.  It's a story that keeps repeating in Emeryville: the decision makers are kept in the dark about dictates from the General Plan while developers keep tearing down single family homes despite a specific proclamation in the General Plan that this stock of homes in the 'zone of stability' area are to be saved.
The newest proposed development, called the Doyle Street Mews at 5876 and 5880 Doyle Street also increases density beyond what the General Plan allows for in the neighborhood but the developer is kicking into a fund to assist "locally serving" businesses, thereby netting him a 'bonus' that automatically permits the extra density.
Emeryville Planning Director
Charlie Bryant

'To help developers, it's best if we
don't mention anything about the
zones of stability.' 

Rapidly rising real estate prices are proving too tempting for developers shut out of the already developed 'areas of potential change' identified by the General Plan and the two homes slated for demolition by the Doyle Street Mews totals six single family homes slated for or already razed in the zone of stability over the last two years alone.  The City Staff, leftovers hired by the previous pro-developer City Council majority, is also tempted, too tempted to assist in redeveloping the neighborhoods of detached single family homes in town and they have purposely kept the Planning Commission and the City Council in the dark that all these homes are in the zones of stability.


The zones of stability were bones thrown to the residents of Emeryville in 2009 when the General Plan was being re-written.  Many residents were concerned that so much of the town was being so massively redeveloped and they expressed desires that the residential neighborhoods of North Emeryville and the Triangle neighborhood be retained.  Under pressure from developers, the City directed the General Plan to be prepared to dramatically increase building heights and increase density over the whole town but set aside these neighborhoods in trade.
Proposed Doyle Street Mews
Oceans of stucco.

By hoodwinking the Planning Commission
we get this.  Ever seen anything like this 
in Emeryville?
After years of development in the so called 'areas of potential change', developers are still not satisfied and the zone of stability designation has come under increasing pressure to be pushed aside.  The City Council so far has not had the temerity to amend the General Plan to get rid of the protection provided by the zones of stability designation, settling instead on these piecemeal approvals of projects.
The City Staff, by not even telling the decision makers that the proposed project is in the zone of stability helps the developers with demolitions even if in so doing they subvert their purpose to accurately provide unbiased information for Emeryville's decision makers.

The Tattler has reported on this problem that isn't called a problem by the City of Emeryville since 2011.
Seeking not to be puerile, it is to be assumed after the third or fourth time the City Staff failed to reveal the fact that a proposed demolition is in the zone of stability, the Planning Commission and the City Council are in on the scam.

Nonetheless, the Planning Commission will take up the issue, ostensibly without knowledge these homes are in the General Plan designated zone of stability, at their regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday.



Reprinted from Emeryville's General Plan:
Yellow area represents the 'Doyle Mews'.
The City Staff can't read their own legend?
...let's see, is the grey zone an area of potential change
or an area of stability?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Dr John Rubio's Record in Vacating Teacher's Testimony

Tattler Called to Serve as Repository for School District's Archive

Letter to the Tattler: Malcolm Waugh

The following letter to the Tattler was received from Emery Unified School District teacher Malcolm Waugh.  Mr Waugh, a long time kindergarten teacher at Anna Yates Elementary School, expressed concern that his fellow EUSD teacher's heart rending and condemnatory testimony given at a June 15th School Board meeting would be lost; no record having been provided for it by the School Board.  At the following meeting, June 28th, the Board majority, inexplicably voted to approve official minutes of the now epic June 15th meeting penned by Superintendent Rubio himself, that removed all criticism of the Superintendent the nine teachers/educators had poignantly offered.  Of particular concern to Mr Waugh is the fact that the comments and criticism against Mr Rubio made by most of the nine teachers, served as their final outgoing statements, most of them leaving Emery to seek employment elsewhere owing to a crisis at the District, brought on they said by Mr Rubio.  The nine represent part of an ongoing mass exodus of teachers at Emery, the worst teacher retention record of any district in the Bay Area a result of a failure of leadership by Mr Rubio chronicled by the teachers on June 15th.
Malcolm Waugh is so concerned the public record will not be faithfully documented because of the School Board's revisionary minutes they approved, he is looking to the Tattler to provide a safe archive of the testimony of the nine teachers.  Mr Waugh painstakingly provided to the Tattler the following letter, the verbatim text of the teachers culled from a video provided by the Emeryville Property Owners Association.  
We are pained this teacher has abandoned the District and is looking to the Tattler as a refuge for keeping an accurate record of the testimony, but we willingly take on this role, at least until a change in the politicized culture at Emery Unified allows for a return to their traditional charge to properly account.

Mr Waugh lists each teacher/educator with a number representing their speaking turn at the meeting followed by the verbatim text from each.  The Superintendent's secretary, Lisa Taymuree is documented as she interrupted the speakers to remind them their allowed three minutes of speaking time had elapsed.  Many were permitted to continue speaking after colleagues yielded their time to the speaker.  

START

1. MEGAN McLAUGHLIN  

Hi, everybody, I'm Megan McLaughlin.  I just have a few comments.  I'm retiring, and I wanted to have a chance to talk to you tonight.  

When I was hired here in 2006 I was really excited to be part of Emery.  My colleagues Evan Pippen, Malcolm Waugh, and Audrey Miles were amazing co-teachers - smart, kind, funny - could not ask for better partners.  I remember telling my sister, a superintendent in Delaware, about the school and the curriculum.  'Wow', she said, 'you have TERC Investigations for math, Lucy Calkins for writing?  You have a literacy coach, and a math coach?  You have paid time for collaboration?  You must have a really progressive school'.  We worked as a school to improve writing across the grades, and across curriculum.  We had thoughtful, well-planned professional development that I looked forward to.  We had time in August to get to know each other and have a few laughs.  

This year, I'm one of many teachers voting with my feet.  I'm leaving Emery to retire.  I've a lot of good, positive things in my future; I have a lot of concerns for the students, for the parents, for the staff, for the teachers.  Here are a few points.  No one asked me for an exit interview, so I'm trying to fill you in here.

Teachers need a voice.  They need to feel that it is safe to speak up when there is an issue, and not receive retribution.  

When I had a challenging class last year with a high number of students with significant behavior challenges - this is the same class that is now the first-grade cohort - I asked for help.  Ms. Lang helped me to turn around the behaviors that were making the class unsafe and were making it very challenging to teach.  On the last day of school, at 3 p.m. - this was Friday, the day when I was the only teacher, I believe, at school except for Ms. Wren - I was called to a surprise meeting.  What a surprise.  What Dr. Rubio said broke my heart - he was present via phone.  He asked if I'd like to be one of the on-call substitutes for the 2016-2017 academic year.

I've seen many examples of his leadership.  He seems to lack the ability to reflect upon what he's done, to 'stay in his lane' as the superintendent and let the principal do her job.  There is a surface politeness covering a man I've come to distrust.  Not responding to issues, but instead, attacking teachers.  This is difficult for me to say, Dr. Rubio, but I'm trying to speak my truth.  

Communication can be improved on all levels --

"Sorry, your three minutes is up." (Lisa Taymuree)

O.K. (Megan)

"Could we ask that she be allowed to continue?" (Board member Barbara Inch) 

"My name is Lauren LaPlante and I'd like to defer my three minutes to Ms. McLaughlin." (Lauren)

I just need one more minute.  
For the good of all the students, for everyone in the community, I believe that we need better systems - how the students move around the school safely.  We need routines in place.  We need better supervision of the children while they're at play.  We need a few items of safety, such as the planters, which I believe are a lawsuit waiting to happen - those planters right outside.  I believe that the behavior issues that present themselves today are such - they're so challenging, even to a veteran teacher such as I - that when I spoke to parents today, were my kindergarten students, they expressed to me that they were willing to stick it out for one more year, but if things didn't change they were going pull their children out of Emery because they were afraid for their safety in the classroom.  Besides the point, they were afraid that their children were not getting anywhere near the education they expected because of the discipline issues.

I believe the best days are ahead for Emery.  I believe this community is amazing.  I've never met a staff that is so resilient and works so well together in the face of adversity, and I believe that Emery deserves leadership that reflects the efforts of the teachers.

Thank you very much.

"Any additional public comment?" (Board President Donn Merriam)

***

 2. ANTHONY RODGERS

My name is Anthony Rodgers.  I've been a middle school teacher here for 11 years.  I mentioned to the staff yesterday that I never thought that I would leave here so early in my career.  I took those three guiding principles that we had years ago to heart, about ending classist and racist practices and creating a sense of family and using innovative practices in our classroom.  And this is my family. [Now I ask and plea] to the board is, make sure there's more horizontal and vertical communication and articulation in the district.  We are administrative-heavy in this district with two schools.  Anjali Kamat and myself, we have 22 years of your institutional memory for your middle school.  We're the dinosaurs of the middle school here.  We were the instructional coaches of the middle school this past year.  We both finished our administrative credentials, and yet there is someone else from the outside coming in with not as much experience as us to run our middle school.  And so, if - and this isn't personal to anyone, this is about business and this is about our students - so if we're in a position to end these racist and sexist principles and classist principles, we need to do it now.  I'm asking the board to please work as a united front, no matter what our differences are, let's come here and do the work for our students.  That's what we do every day when we pound the pavement in the school as teachers.  But I'm actually leaving - I'm leaving.  And with myself, Ms. McLaughlin, Ms. Coombs, Ms. Brunick and Ms. Kamat, and even Ms. Lang, you have about a hundred years of your service leaving your community.  A hundred years of service.  And I don't care what you and who you bring in, that's not bringing in that same institutional memory of families.  Our reputations with families, it precedes us.  Families want to come to us because we taught their families.  I just think that's something to really think about.  We really have to think about that, but again, we're administrative-heavy, and I would say with some of the new administrators coming in, they're not culturally sensitive.  They come in with a hierarchical approach to life and treat everyone as if we're roaches and dogs.  And that's not the way to treat anyone, even if you have a title, wherever you bought it from, even if you have that title, it's not acceptable.  In addition to that, when I - I had to reapply for my position on Ed-Join, had to submit my resume for the same position that I was teaching.  So I really want to ask you all, please look at the practices of how teachers are moved around here, because if it isn't equal, then that's discriminatory.  I had to reapply for my position in the classroom that I was in.  And that's not personal - that was personal to me.  I'm not a person who's vindictive in that way.  I kept moving, I kept pounding the pavement, but if we have other teachers that are moved in this district, please look at skin color, please look at gender, and please look at how people are being moved around in this school.  Thank you.

[Marcelline Krafchick speaks]

***

3. LESLIE THORNLEY

Good evening.  My name is Leslie Thornley.  I'm one of the teachers planning on returning in the Fall, and I have some concerns and worries, and feel like my esteemed colleagues that have been here for many years can address better than I, and it feels a little safer to have other people speak for me.  So on behalf of that I'd like to donate the rest of my time to Holly Coombs.

***

4. HOLLY COOMBS  

Hello, Board.  I'm Holly Coombs, and I have been teaching at Anna Yates for 15 years, and I'm going next year to teach in San Francisco.  Anyone who asks me I say I'm going to teach to be closer to my house, I have two little kids, the commute is killing me.  But people who push a little farther, they find out a little more about why I feel it's right for me to leave.  So, I'm here to just tell you why I, all the reasons why I'm leaving.  So, first of all, I came to work at Anna Yates because I really wanted to work with some colleagues - Gabrielle Thurmond and Anakarita Allen.  I really respected them and the equity work that we were doing here, and I felt like I was really part of something very special, something very important.  Our work with BAYCES and the connections that we were building through our retreats, and I felt like I was learning how to be a culturally relevant teacher, which is really important being a white educator with mostly kids of color.  It was really important for me to tackle my own racism, and this school district was teaching me how to do that, and I felt like we were really creating something here.  What I've noticed over the last 15 years is that I feel like our best years were when we were K-6, and Anakarita was our principal and we were really moving forward.  And then there was a few things that happened here that didn't really feel like they were the best for the students.  The middle school got put with K-6 and there was no real middle school program, and Anakarita got moved, and BAYCES, we didn't really work with them, and it just gave me pause because I wasn't sure that that was best for the students, and it felt like interference but it didn't really interrupt the core of this solid group of teachers.  The last few years have been so difficult, however, that I feel like I must leave.  I feel that it has become so difficult to be here and watch the institutional racism that I see around me, and that we're not really deeply doing the equity work that we need to be doing.  It's sort of on the surface.  There's a lot of dysfunctions at the school that I can't really go into here because this is a public, formal setting.  I haven't actually met any board members except for Brynnda.  She's the only one who's come up and talked to me, but had any board member come up --

"You're out of time." (Lisa Taymuree)

[time donated]

-- I would have been able to go into more detail.  So it just matters to me about where I work, and I was willing to do this commute for 15 years because I felt like I was part of something really important, and I'm not sure that the work San Francisco is doing is as focused on equity.  And so, what I've been thinking about is the implications of this.  The first is that I really feel that the town of Emeryville needs to recommit to public education - the people of Emeryville - and that the school board - I haven't worked with you, so I don't know your practices, I know you're new - but, in general, the school board needs to be culturally competent and really committed to the community.  So in the past the school board members, I had their numbers on my cell phone, they came, like [former board president] Josh [Simon] came and helped me set up my classroom - he brought me books.  They all knew my kids, you know, it was very familiar.  They either had children who went here or they went here themselves, and they were just very much part of the community.  So I just want the school board to be, to really reflect on their practices, and notice if they are actually being culturally competent themselves.  I really appreciated the board policy that I saw, but I was wondering, well, how would you do that?  How would the board and our current superintendent actually be the ones to help create this equitable environment?  I was thinking maybe you needed a how in that plan.  And I want to let the school board know that you set the tone, and so if you need to - I'm hoping that you will create some kind of reflective practice on your own work - but also on how you hear from teachers, because this, this is not really the way you're going to find out what's going on with teachers.  But it also needs to be fair.  So some sort of fair process where you really know what's going on, and if anyone interferes with that or tells you that you don't need to hear from teachers, that that person can tell you themself, then that should be a red flag for you.  And finally, I've seen a lot of superintendents at our district and I feel like it's difficult to be a superintendent of this district - it's difficult, it's small town, there's all these politics.  Please, in the future, please look carefully for a superintendent who's an experienced educator and also has all of their cultural competency in place, either because they are a proud person of color, they grew up in the community, or they just know our kids, and it will just help resolve, it'll help prevent a lot of the pain that a lot of people have felt, particularly the people of color.  I have not felt any pain, but the people of color, my colleagues, have felt a lot.  And also there's just a lot of things I see all the time, that I don't actually believe a deeply culturally competent person would allow --

"You're out of time." (Lisa Taymuree)

Thank you (Holly).

[time donated]

That's O.K.  That's O.K. (Holly)

"Another three minutes." (Donn Merriam)

I'm done.  Thanks.  (Holly)

"Thank you.  Additional public comment?" (Donn Merriam)

***

5. DIANE LANG

Hi.  Good evening to the Emery Board.  I'm Diane Lang.  I've been the principal of Anna Yates K-8 school for the past three years, and so some of the people you've been hearing from have been on my staff during that time.

I'm really happy to say that today I closed out my final year here in Emeryville.  I was on campus until our last student left for home, safely.  It's been three years.  

I wanted to come before you to talk about leadership.  And to lead means to go first.  But leadership for me is also about putting my name and myself before the community, because when there's a challenge in the school building, it's me that they want to see, it's me who they hold accountable, and so it's important to me that I express to you the difficulty that it creates when I as a leader, the face of the school, cannot with full confidence communicate things to community members, members of my staff, with the confidence that it will come to fruition without changes or without things being possibly even undermined.  It makes it hard.  It makes it difficult.  So I want to be really up front about that.  

As the principal who has been here for three years, we've done work, findings, about what works and what does not, best practices, and ultimately what works best for our kids.  It is unfortunate to ever have that work, those finding, dismissed as opinions, when my feet are on the ground every day, here with the teachers, in classrooms, in hallways, in the lunchroom, on the field.  How could my finding be just opinion?

I wanted to make sure that everyone is aware of the challenges of selective accountability.  And we talk about equity - it needs to be more than just a buzzword, but a real set of practices that we put in place.  And we are letting ourselves off the hook in terms of equity when we say things like 'Oh, I forgot to talk to you, the principal of the school, about this decision that's being made that's going to impact our students, and that parents and community members are going to hold me accountable for.  How could you forget to speak to me, or to remember that I'm the principal of the school?  How could anyone forget?  And if it happens once, we all make mistakes, and if it happens twice, I've certainly made two mistakes, three mistakes, but if it happens on a regular basis, perhaps there's something else that's the issue, in terms of remembering I'm the principal.  And when things are good, I get the credit, and when things are not so good, I get the blame.

"Your three minutes is up." (Lisa Taymuree)

[time donated]

"O.K., go ahead, please." (Donn Merriam)

We have a partnership with the city of Emeryville that has built this lovely facility here.  I want to remind everyone the importance of mutual respect, that considers the need of students first, always.  This facility is for our children, and our children need to be educated, and that is what we have been tasked with, providing them with an education.  Recreation is optional.  Their foundational skills of being life-long learners and scholars is not optional.  So I hope that everyone is fully aware and engaged in making sure that a partnership is truly a partnership that centers around the need of students.

I am not done leading schools.  I will be leaving - this is my final year.  I'm very excited that we've reached the last day of school.  I will continue my work with a very similar community.  This is the community I want to serve.  But just looking for the opportunity to be remembered and respected as a black, female principal who's been here every day doing the very best I could in spite of whatever the circumstances presented.  So again I just ask that equity be a real set of practices that lead our work, not just something that we write down or say, something we really live by and really do.  Thank you.

***

6. KEVIN BOYD

Good evening.  My name is Kevin Boyd.  I used to be a colleague - well, these are my colleagues.  I've been here in this district since 1999.  I've seen, I've seen a lot of superintendents come through here.  I've seen a lot of principals.  I've seen a lot of what was constructive for this school but also what is destructive, but also watched how many of these teachers - many of the faces that I see work their asses off, you know, to make things happen for these kids that we dealt with.  I was with the old school, and the hats we had to wear were, you know, many.  Ms. Taymuree, Ms. Collins were two women that I admire very highly as they worked with me.  A lot of people here know what I dealt with, this kids I dealt with, and how I dealt with, and was unorthodox, but I did get support, and I was always support for my friends and colleagues who worked here.  What I see the lack of here and have is just that.  There is no support.  I mean a serious lack of support for our teachers in their classrooms, for our kids, you know, and right now I sub at the high school in the office because I refuse to go into a classroom where teachers just don't seem to have it all together and that's all over the place because so many of them are just being, you know, just drowned by what's going on.  Now with that I just want to say I, like I said, I've been through quite a few superintendents.  I've never seen the lack of leadership as I've been seeing here right now, the lack of personal pride, because I could always talk to the superintendent.  I could go into that office at any time and speak to them.  I just didn't see that.  I haven't seen that in a few years here and it's very, you know, it's not cool, it's not cool at all, so I just wanted to say that because I'm here every once in a while, but I still see what I don't like seeing.  We need to see more support for our students, for our teachers, a lot more support for these students, and generally just we got to get this, get what we built here back on what it should be, back on track.

***

7. TAUHEEDAH WREN

Good evening, Board, and superintendent, and principal, fellow staff members, and friends.  Ramadan...This is a month of fasting for Muslims - I'm a Muslim - and this is a month of peace, so not to minimize anything that was said, because I agree with everything that was said from our teachers and our staff members.  The colors here are changing in this community from black, brown, yellow, to white, and that's not a good thing.  Our children are watching us.  They're looking at how we lead, not only them, but how we interact with each other.  Children know things that we don't even realize.  I know it because they come and tell me.  Ms. Wren, did you know that, you know, Ms. Lang is leaving, Mr. Rodgers is leaving.  You know, he's like a father to me.  She's one of the best principals I've ever seen.  We have parents crying to me in the hallway.  Ms. Wren, are you kidding me?  I'm having to leave my son, take my son out of this school, and the son is crying because he's leaving his friends.  She said, but I'm so afraid for their safety.  Things are changing - that is not cool, not O.K., and we have to stand up, we got to be, we are resilient staff members, we are, and we're going to make lemonade out of the lemons.  But we can't do it without you recognizing - we see, we see that you are not being equitable with our staff, with our children, with our parents, and we don't like it.  And we're going to stand up, we're going to fight, and we're going to protest in the ways that we know, and we got to ask God to help us in this fight, and we know we're going to win.  We know we're going to win, because we're here, it's about the children.  We're here for the children.  We love these children, as much as the hell as they put us through, and you know, I told one student, you know, this has been a difficult year, and he said, Ms. Wren, we've given you fifty gray hairs this year, and I said I know you've given me about a thousand gray hairs this year.  I've used the dye more often than I normally do.  But, you know, to make things more serious, our children are suffering, they're crying.  Their father is leaving - Mr. Rodgers is like their father.  And that's not to say that he's not going to be a father where he's going, and I'm real proud that he's moving on to another place.  They got, they got our gold.  They're going to enjoy him, they're going to learn from him, they're going to respect him, they're going to do their community meetings, they're going to love themselves, they're going to stand up with pride, and they're going to love each other, they're going to acknowledge each other, they're going to be on the hot seat and let each other know, we love you, and what I like about you is this, and I didn't realize it, you, you would come to me when I needed help.  These are the values that he has given not just one classroom but many, most of the classrooms.  Am I right?  We do community meetings.  So it's not about the teachers are leaving, it's about our children.

"You're out of time." (Lisa Taymuree)

Thank you. (Tauheedah)

"Thank you.  Further comment?" (Donn Merriam).

***

8. AUDREY MILES

Good afternoon.  Audrey Miles, TK teacher.  It's been a very difficult two months, but we continue on each and every day to give our kids the best that we can give every day.  We walk in and we find ways to find joy in each other every morning.  Many of you don't know my room is the coffee room, you know, and we find that opportunity to have community together, and hug each other and start our day off with a positive when often there are no positives, when you don't feel loved, when you don't feel supported.  We find ways to find opportunities for our children.  Today we took 77 TK and kindergarteners on a bus to San Jose to a farm.  We provided a community meal buffet of everything that they would want to eat - hotdogs, everything - and we paid for it ourselves.  We paid for it by fundraising, we paid for it by writing grants.  Every family that was there, there's an extended relationship with each one of those parents.  I have taught their siblings, I have taught their aunts, their cousins, their uncles, even.  I've been here for 14 years and I've never felt sadder than right now because, I heard Mr. Rodgers is leaving, it broke my heart.  And then I was walking down the hall and Ms. Kamat said 'Can I talk to you for a second?', and she came and she started talking to me and she told me that she was leaving and it broke my heart and I just stood in the hall and I just started crying, because it's just painful that - and everybody always thinks that Ms. Miles is a rock, you know, Ms. Miles has got a marshmallow heart, O.K.?  And I love each and every one of these people in here, from the high school up and I saw my class graduate yesterday, first class I taught here.  Those were my kids in K and 1.  I have his history here.  I need to be respected.  I need to have my voice heard.  It's important.  This is my community.  Not only do I work here, I live here, and I vote here.  So I want you to know that as you sit here on the board, many of your faces that I know.  That's one of my students right there.  She's graduating next year, O.K.?  I'm an important part of this community, and I'm an important part of this school and my voice needs to be heard.  And you need to respect me for the work that I do each and every day.  And I respect you, and respect is a two-way street.  You get what you give.  So if that's what you want from us, if you want that hard work to continue, you need to give us the same amount of respect, and listen, and understand who we are and not just pass us over and say, well maybe there's a new teacher who is better qualified, which is the things that we hear sometimes, O.K.?  So, hear our voice.  That's all we're asking you to do is to hear our voice.  And this right here is our future, O.K.?  The same amount of effort that I give to my TKs - this is my grandchild, O.K.?  And she can do everything that I give my kids in the classroom and more.  Thank you.

"Additional, further comment?" (Donn Merriam)

[Joshua Simon, former EUSD Board president, speaks]

***

9. LESLIE EPSTEIN

Hi, my name is Leslie Epstein.  I've been here 14 years, and I used to be so proud to work here - sorry - and I don't feel that way anymore.  And seeing so many people leave makes me - I thought about it - and the only reason I stay is because I have the most amazing group of students and families.  I stay with many of my students for years as special ed. teacher, and I always thought when, particularly years when Simon's daughter was here, Maya, all those years I thought when I have a kid my son or my daughter is going to go to this school, and I can say now I would never send my son here.  And to me that speaks volumes.

"Thank you.  Further comment?"  (Donn Merriam)

"Could we allow the people that donated their time to go ahead and speak?" (Member Barbara Inch)

"Yes, please, whoever did donate time, whatever's remaining on their allotted..." (Donn Merriam)

10. LESLIE THORNLEY

Thank you, Board.  Thank you, esteemed colleagues, I appreciate your voice today and you've inspired me.  I am coming back in the Fall.  I have every intention of returning, and on my plate I see a brand new reading series; I see a brand new math series I'm going to be piloting; I'm going to be working with a new colleague that I haven't worked with before.  There's equity and PBIS, which I think I mentioned fourth, which should have been mentioned first.  There's technology, and I'm excited and thrilled that students are going to be having computers in their classrooms.  I'm going to need a lot of training to leverage and use that program well.  I'm also going to be doing this without my family.  I'm going to be forming new relationships, and I hope time and space is given to do that, because to the work of equity requires a lot of trust, and it requires openness, and it requires safety, and that work has to be hallmark if we're going to serve the needs of our children.  I was watching a videotape that I put together for my class, you know, one of those slide-shows for open house, and I was looking at it and feeling pretty good about it myself, and then all of a sudden I paused and thought, now wait, I really need to look at this through some of the work that I've done in this district, and I looked at my slide-show again, and I had far more children in that slide-show of children with light-colored skin than dark-colored skin.  I figured that out myself.  I was appalled.  I'm feeling that it was really brave of me to even say that right here, but this is the work that needs to be done if teachers like me are going to help children of color, and this work needs to continue and it needs to be at the forefront, and I need help with the introspection.  I want the help with the introspection, because I don't think I can serve these kids well if I don't have it.  But, again, what I need for that to happen is I need a lot of trust.  I need to be in a place where I feel trust, and I'm going to need time to get to know my new colleagues, and my new administrators, and to do the work that we have to do.  It has to be here.  So, thank you for letting me speak.

"Thank you." (Donn Merriam)

Testimony finished.

EUSD- Emery School Board = Jun 15, 2017

Emeryville Property Owners Association.  Published on Jun 21, 2017.


Time stamps:
Megan McLaughlin 01:12-04:53
Anthony Rodgers 06:10-09:02
Leslie Thornley[1] 14:10-14:33
Holly Coombs 14:37-20:50
Diane Lang 21:04-24:40      
Kevin Boyd 24:58-27:38
Tauheedah Wren 27:52-31:14
Audrey Miles 31:26-34:32
Leslie Epstein 40:18-41:05

Leslie Thornley[2] 41:49-44:44