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What are Ghysels and the MPCSD Board up to now?

Original post made by A parent who wants to know..., Atherton: Lindenwood, on Jul 15, 2013

Per the district website, the Board is holding yet another Special Meeting with a Closed Session. The meeting is scheduled for tomorrow morning (Tuesday, July 16) from 9:30-12:00 in the TERC conference room. Per the agenda, the sole topic for the 2½ hour meeting is a Closed Session item, "Public Employment: Assistant Superintendent (Discussion)." Per the Brown Act, this is an inadequate description of the agenda item, as the item should include a description (for the public) of the Assistant Superintendent position that the Board is going to discuss filling. In addition, this is a curious agenda item, because the position of Assistant Superintendent does not currently exist in the MPCSD.

Exactly what will the Board be discussing tomorrow, and why are they holding the discussion in a Closed Session? Why are they creating a new position? Will they be appointing someone to the new position in a follow-up Special Meeting Closed Session without public input? Will the position be filled by yet another member of Ghysels' entourage? (Oh, wait, we probably can guess the answer to that one…)

ALL of the district level administrators who led the District's educational programs and services when Ghysels arrived have now have "left the building," including the departures during the last 3 weeks of Director of Technology Jim Bowlby and one of Ghysels' only supporters, Chief Learning Officer Allison Liner, who abruptly provided one week's notice prior to jumping ship last week.

During the last school year, between July 2012 and June 2013, the Board held a total of 28 Special Meetings. Coincidently, the Board also held a total of 28 Special Meetings prior to Ghysels---but, they were held over TWO years (July 2009-June 2011). Special Meetings only require 24 hours notice to the public; thereby potentially limiting public attendance and input. Perhaps the Board thinks we should be satisfied that tomorrow's meeting is being held in a district facility and not in a private home…

Comments (40)

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 15, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the California League of Cities guidance:

"Without specific authority in the Brown Act for a closed session, a matter must be discussed in public."

"The Brown Act authorizes a closed session "to consider the appointment,
employment, evaluation of performance, discipline, or dismissal of a public
employee or to hear complaints or charges brought against the employee."

The law has held that this means the closed session must deal with a matter involving a specific individual and the agenda must so indicate.

"Action on individuals who are not "employees" must also be public"

"The personnel exception specifically prohibits discussion or action on proposed compensation in closed session, except for a disciplinary reduction in pay."

***********************
My additional comments:
The law has held that this means the closed session must deal with a matter involving a specific individual and the agenda must so indicate.

The law specifies that the agenda of a closed session considering appointment of an individual must include a "Specify description of position to be filled".

The closed session MUST be preceded by an opportunity for public comment.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 15, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The posted agenda for this closed session is defective because it does NOT permit public comment on the Closed Session topic - which it MUST. It also does NOT include a position description of the appointment being considered. And if they are not considering a specific individual for the appointment then a closed session would be illegal.


Don't these people even care about the law and transparency and accountability?????

From the League of Cities:
"The express purpose of the Brown Act is to assure that local government agencies conduct the public's business openly and publicly. Courts and the Attorney General usually broadly construe the Brown Act in favor of greater public access and narrowly construe exemptions to its general rules.
Generally, public officials should think of themselves as living in glass houses, and that they may only draw the curtains when it is in the public interest to preserve confidentiality. Closed sessions may be held only as specifically authorized by the provisions of the Brown Act itself".


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 15, 2013 at 7:11 pm

"Don't these people even care about the law and transparency and accountability?????"

From what I have observed, NO. They appointed a superintendent with a clearly checkered past. They have been pulling all kinds of shenanigans like holding meetings in private residences. They appear to be turning a blind eye to repeated complaints about the superintendent. They are ignoring the fact that top quality staff are bailing like rats off a sinking ship. So, no. It doesn't appear this board gives a rats patoot about transparency and accountability. They clearly know better than everyone else what is best for the district. Or so they think.

If they think I'm going to vote for their latest bond request they can think again. Next life. You want my vote you better earn it. So far all you've done is tick me and a lot of other people off. Time for the board to explain what the hell it thinks it's doing. "it's for the children" only goes so far.


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Posted by Educator
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Jul 16, 2013 at 9:16 am

Educator is a registered user.

Dear Menlo Voter,

The Board hired a Superintendent that they thought could best fulfill the District's strategic plan. Meeting in a private residence is not a shenanigan, it is a perfectly legal meeting venue. As to repeated complaints about the Superintendent, if you have concerns, make an appointment to meet with each board member separately and state your case and concerns and encourage others to do the same. You will be able to provide more detailed arguments and the Board will hear your concerns much more clearly.

Certain items, such as personnel items, are generally not 'public'. As for transparency, transparency in what, exactly? Again, meeting with individual Board members will provide the best and most appropriate venue for your concerns, and while I do not live in your school district, I do know several of the board members and know they would gladly meet with you and anyone else with concerns.

You may also speak at any special or regular meeting.


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Posted by Interested Community Member
a resident of Encinal School
on Jul 16, 2013 at 9:56 am

The comment about speaking to each member of the Board is a valid one. One very important thing, however, is wrong with this. Many have already spoken individually with a member or two members of the Board regarding issues and concerns. People were speaking with members of the Board prior to the latest happenings about their complaints. Then and now they are being ignored! The result is that the District will be the big loser in all of this. Who know what will happen to Ghysels... The Board is proving to be more and more unreliable and not doing what the public hired them to do...


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 16, 2013 at 9:59 am

Mr. Carpenter makes good points regarding the Brown Act and closed session items. One of the main tenants of this Act is to ensure government operates in public and not behind closed doors. There are only a limited number of topics which may be discussed in closed session.

As for Educator and his/her advice to Menlo Voter, while meeting with individual Board members may be useful and informative, it could also be perceived as a serial meeting which is not allowed under the Brown Act if the discussions include the same topic.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 16, 2013 at 10:12 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Certain items, such as personnel items, are generally not 'public'."

Wrong, the personnel exception allowing closed door sessions is very narrowly defined and does NOT include just any personnel items.

"meeting with individual Board members may be useful and informative, it could also be perceived as a serial meeting which is not allowed under the Brown Act if the discussions include the same topic." The key here is that citizen(s) can meet with as many board members as they wish but what is prohibited would be for those citizens to inform other board members of the position on any board issue which those citizens have been given by any other board member.


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Posted by Educator
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Jul 16, 2013 at 10:22 am

Educator is a registered user.

Peter,

I agree with your responses, but what I was trying to state is that *some* personnel items are not public. It was not my intent to say that all personnel items are private.

As for meeting with each board member, I also agree with your statement regarding serial meetings. It is also not considered a serial meeting if the information moves one direction only. It is perfectly legal for board members to listen and not comment. Actually it is appropriate for board members to listen and not comment as it provides the utmost opportunity to hear input but maintain appropriate adherence to the Brown Act.


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Posted by Educator
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Jul 16, 2013 at 10:31 am

Educator is a registered user.

Interested Community Member

"...not doing what the public hired them to do..."

I'm assuming that the Board members were elected to provide the highest quality education possible to the students of the district. Education is in the midst of significant global change. It is possible that the personnel changes being made are specifically to enhance the quality of teaching and learning in the district.

If I were to ask a Board member a question it would be "Are the personnel changes being made to enhance the quality of teaching and learning? If so, in what way do you see education in our district changing?"


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 16, 2013 at 11:04 am

Educator:

Given the checkered past of the superintendent that the board hired I have serious concerns as to whether or not they really do have the best interests of the district at heart. It's not like what happened in Mountain View was some kind of secret. With his past and the obvious toxic atmosphere he left behind as evidenced by many complaints from district employees and residents, I wouldn't have touched this guy with a ten foot pole. Yet the board did? Why? And why now, when talented staff are bailing from the district left and right, do they continue to support this superintendent. Is it because they don't want to admit they made a bad decision? Especially when they had plenty of reasons NOT to hire him?

As to meetings in private residences not being shenanigans, I disagree. The meetings were held during the day in a private residence. First of all that makes it very difficult for most residents to attend. From what I have witnessed in local politics over the years, when a board or council doesn't want public input, they schedule the meeting during the day.

Finally, it appears the board may well be violating the Brown act. I defer to Peter on these things as he is quite well versed in the Brown Act. If he says they are violating it, it's a pretty safe bet they are.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 16, 2013 at 11:50 am

There is simply no reason to hold an official meeting of the school board at a private residence. Private homes can be difficult to find, difficult to park and can be an uncomfortable setting for someone wishing to express a dissenting opinion. Having a meeting at an "insider" venue has a chilling effect on both participation and opinion. This isn't a private club.

There is certainly no shortage of schools or public buildings available to hold these official meetings. All are easy to find and have ample parking.

Use them. That's what they're for.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 16, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"There is simply no reason to hold an official meeting of the school board at a private residence."

I would say that there is simply no GOOD reason to hold an official meeting of the school board at a private residence.

I believe that these meetings were held in private homes both to discourage public participation and because the board feels that it IS a private club - no outsiders wanted.

Contrast the school board agendas lack of proper opportunity for public comment with what the fire district does:
"PUBLIC COMMENT #1 before EVERY closed session

A fundamental element of democracy is the right of citizens to address their elected representatives, therefore under Public Comment #1, the public may address the Board on any item on the Closed Session Agenda. Each speaker may address the Board once under Public Comment for a limit of three minutes. The filing of speaker cards is not mandatory, but is helpful in creating an accurate record.

PUBLIC COMMENT #2 for items not to the agenda

A fundamental element of democracy is the right of citizens to address their elected representatives. Therefore under Public Comment #2, the public may address the Board on any subject not listed on the Agenda. Each speaker may address the Board for a limit of three minutes. The filing of speaker cards is not mandatory, but is helpful in creating an accurate record. The Board can't act on items not on the agenda and therefore the Board can't respond to non-agenda issues brought up under Public Comment other than to provide general information.

REGULAR AGENDA

The public may address the Board on any subject listed on the Regular Agenda. Each speaker may address the Board once for a limit of three minutes. The filing of speaker cards is not mandatory, but is helpful in creating an accurate record. Each speaker will be called upon to speak by the President when the item is heard.


PUBLIC COMMENT #3 after the regular agenda items and new business

A fundamental element of democracy is the right of citizens to address their elected representatives. Therefore if unable to address the Board under Public Comment #1 and 2, the public may address the Board on any subject at this time. Each speaker may address the Board for a limit of three minutes. The filing of speaker cards is not mandatory, but is helpful in creating an accurate record. The Board can't act on items not on the agenda and therefore the Board can't respond to non-agenda issues brought up under Public Comment other than to provide general information."

In addition each Fire Board agenda states:" In compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, if you need special assistance to participate in MPFPD Board meeting or if you need a copy of the agenda and/or agenda packet materials in alternative format, please contact the Clerk of the Board during normal working business hours at 650-688-8400 at least 48 hours prior to the meeting so that request can be handled."

In contrast the school district requires SEVEN days notice (hard to do when they only announce their meetings 72 hours in advance) -"Board meetings are accessible to people with disabilities. Individuals who need special assistance or a disability-related modification or accommodation (including auxiliary aids or services) to participate in this meeting; or who have a disability and wish to request an alternative format for the agenda, meeting notice, agenda packet or other writings that may be distributed at the meeting, should contact the Superintendent at least seven working day before the meeting by telephone at 321-7140 or by fax at 321-7184. Notification in advance of the meeting will enable the District to make reasonable arrangements to ensure accessibility of this meeting and the materials related to it.


The Fire Board's approach is to stimulate rather than discourage public input.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 16, 2013 at 12:37 pm

If the school board and superintendent were earning high marks, there would not be so much controversy surrounding them.

As Menlo Voter pointed out the superintendent arrived with a checkered past. It has followed him as is present here. And as Mr. Carpenter wrote, "there is no GOOD reason" to hold a public meeting in a private residence. Barring extreme circumstances public meetings should be held in public places so that the public may attend.

Holding meetings in private homes is reminiscent of back room politics. The school board should be be doing all it can to be above reproach.


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Posted by Interested Community Member
a resident of Encinal School
on Jul 16, 2013 at 1:51 pm

For Educator, Woodside Heights Neighborhood -- I am also assuming that the Board was "elected to provide the highest quality education possible to the students of the district." As to whether or not the personnel changes being made are to enhance the quality of teaching and learning is questionable. The changes, unfortunately, seem to have been at the whim of the superintendent for various reasons of his own. It would be helpful for the public to be provided with specifically how education is seen as changing and how the quality of teaching and learning will benefit from the personnel changes in the District.

Considering the outcry of the community, it is hoped that the Board would do this in a public meeting. It is the duty of an effective elected public body to respond and answer questions from the public. Just how do/will the personnel changes enhance the quality of teaching and learning in the District? With the upcoming bond election in November, it would seem that the Board would respond to its community.

Also, as is pointed out in some of the other comments, the Brown Act has been egregiously violated by the Board -- this has been called to its attention -- and has been brushed off as not being important! A very dangerous reaction on its part. This is definitely not what the Board was elected to do.


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Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 16, 2013 at 2:37 pm

If the Board ignores comments about violating the Brown Act ad continues to do so, what are the consequences and how are those implemented or enforced?

The Board doesn't appear concerned about the allegations. Is it just local grumbling or is it actionable, with consequences for the individual members? Where is an official complaint filed? Who files?

Thank you in advance for elucidation & clarification.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 16, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"If the Board ignores comments about violating the Brown Act ad continues to do so, what are the consequences and how are those implemented or enforced?"

Unfortunately in San Mateo County the consequences are zero unless individual citizens file a petition as specified below. Ideally the District Attorney would take action but the San Mateo County District Attorney absolutely refuse to enforce the Brown Act - one elected offial protecting all other elected officials.

Her is what an individual citizen must do:
"(b) Prior to any action being commenced pursuant to subdivision
(a), the district attorney or interested person shall make a demand
of the legislative body to cure or correct the action alleged to have
been taken in violation of Section 54953, 54954.2, 54954.5, 54954.6,
54956, or 54956.5. The demand shall be in writing and clearly
describe the challenged action of the legislative body and nature of
the alleged violation.
(c) (1) The written demand shall be made within 90 days from the
date the action was taken unless the action was taken in an open
session but in violation of Section 54954.2, in which case the
written demand shall be made within 30 days from the date the action
was taken.
(2) Within 30 days of receipt of the demand, the legislative body
shall cure or correct the challenged action and inform the demanding
party in writing of its actions to cure or correct or inform the
demanding party in writing of its decision not to cure or correct the
challenged action.
(3) If the legislative body takes no action within the 30-day
period, the inaction shall be deemed a decision not to cure or
correct the challenged action, and the 15-day period to commence the
action described in subdivision (a) shall commence to run the day
after the 30-day period to cure or correct expires.
(4) Within 15 days of receipt of the written notice of the
legislative body's decision to cure or correct, or not to cure or
correct, or within 15 days of the expiration of the 30-day period to
cure or correct, whichever is earlier, the demanding party shall be
required to commence the action pursuant to subdivision (a) or
thereafter be barred from commencing the action."


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Posted by Interested Community Member
a resident of Encinal School
on Jul 16, 2013 at 2:58 pm

...and, how does an elected official (the San Mateo County District Attorney) get away with blatantly refusing to enforce the Brown Act? The things happening in the school district are not unlike a festering sore -- getting more and more infected! The community - and the voters - need to wake up and not let this sort of operation continue.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 16, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"and, how does an elected official (the San Mateo County District Attorney) get away with blatantly refusing to enforce the Brown Act?"

Because we the citizens keep electing him in spite of this failure.

In a democracy we get exactly the kind of government that we deserve.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 16, 2013 at 3:39 pm

As a note, Wagstaff's predecessor wasn't any more diligent about prosecuting Brown Act violations either. This has been going on a long, long time. Lack of action on Brown Act violations is the least of Wagstaff's failings. When one sits down and goes through the things he does and doesn't do and the things he will pursue and won't one gets a very clear picture of a corrupt politician. Yet the voters of San Mateo county keep reelecting these jerks. As Peter said, we get the government we deserve.


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Posted by Diane
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 16, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Regardless of who's in charge of Brown Act violations, is this really too much to ask of our board members and superintendent? The Brown Act is very clearly laid out and I assume these are educated people who can handle setting up meetings without breaking the law. It is so disturbing that they are continually called out by their constituents for these violations, yet the continue to do so. This arrogance is appalling.

I believe, the only personnel discussion that the board should be involved with is that of the superintendent. That is their sole "employee". Why is there a closed door "discussion" about the ass't sup? It is a personnel decision that needs to be made by district personnel and merely brought to the board for approval or denial.

I am appalled by the sheer number of articles that have been in the Almanac since the board appointed Ghysels as superintendent and I've lived in this town a long time. Why don't they figure out how to remove this toxin from the district instead of continuing to have these secretive meetings. Allison Liner was brought in without even an interview because it was thought that she was so perfect for the job. She quits after one year to go to a lower performing school district, taking a demotion back to principal and I can imagine a huge pay cut! What does that tell you about the state of the district leadership?



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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 16, 2013 at 7:09 pm

"This arrogance is appalling." - Diane

Exactly, Diane.

I hope you will go to a meeting and speak during the public session. It is not only your right, it is your obligation. It will take 30 minutes of your time and it will have an impact.


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Posted by sick of it
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 16, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Has the person who created this thread or any of the commenters who are speculating without any facts bothered to contact the District with their questions or concerns, or is this (yawn) this just round 567 of beating the "let's hate on Ghysels" drum?


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Posted by Get a Grip
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jul 16, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Allison Liner was probably the strongest advocate for child-centered education this district has ever had. Her loss is huge. But you can't pin it on Ghysels who promoted her and believed in her.

Blame Sheila Warren, one of the self-proclaimed Entitled Old Guard teachers who was passed over by Allison in favor of the stellar Joan Von der Linden and has been lying in wait for her opportunity to seek vengeance. Warren appeared at a Board Meeting and brutally attacked Allison and her efforts to improve the district writing curriculum which is widely regarded as woeful. Or blame the renegade teacher [portion removed] who fielded an unauthorized slanderous survey using a confidential teacher distribution list to trash Allison.

This district has a very vocal share of burned out, bitter teachers who don't want to let go of the past and are terrified of being marginalized or worse. Any effort to adopt best practices or progressive change is met with daggers by them. Allison is leaving for a better opportunity where she doesn't have to put up with teacher abuse. The sooner those personnel obstacles are removed, the more our kids will benefit. I'm just sorry it will be too late for Allison.


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Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 16, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Interesting that the superintendent's LinkedIn shows his currenthim at Mt View Whisman School District "Superintendent and CEO at Mountain View Whisman School District." Is he having difficulty keeping his employment information up-to-date?
Web Link

Also how many hours a month does he work as an executive coach at Brandon Partners of Mill Valley? He currently shows on their website.
Web Link
Web Link
And how much money does he earn in that position? Are there any MPSD policies as to outside employment for district administrators? Does his position with Brandon Partners interfere in any way with his District work, does it present any conflicts of interest?


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Posted by Educator
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Jul 16, 2013 at 9:17 pm

Educator is a registered user.

Thank you, Get A Grip.

You clearly have good information about the district, and sadly, your comments apply far beyond the Menlo Park School District. There are many schools and districts across the country experiencing exactly the same pains. It is quite probable that the Board is making extremely difficult decisions, decisions that, long term, will ensure their district students a far more meaningful education.


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Posted by Unlinked
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jul 16, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Linked In? Seriously??? If this is how you're judging the Superintendent then you are really grasping at straws. The only people who go on Linked In are job hunters. Sorry to disappoint you that he's not, which is probably why he never bothered to update his profile. Next conspiracy theory?


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Posted by Interested Community Member
a resident of Encinal School
on Jul 17, 2013 at 7:36 am

For Unlinked -
Actually, the superintendent is being judged (honestly and fairly so) by the District's loss of too many highly qualified experienced administrators, and for his lack of important leadership skills. It looks like the Board is being judged by its refusal to do something about the inept person they hired to fill this position. And, if it is true that the Board is making difficult decisions to ensure students a more meaningful education, where is the "good faith" effort by the Board to make sure that the community understands this. Oh, and don't forget all of those blatant infractions (and there have been many) of the Brown Act on both the part of the Board and the superintendent!


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 17, 2013 at 10:25 am

Aside from voicing your thoughts at a school board meeting, the next place would be at in the voting booth. Remember these issues and your positions at the next election.

This is democracy in action.


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Posted by Unlinked
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jul 17, 2013 at 11:19 am

Interested Community Member, the post I responded to was suggesting that the Superintendent was illegally moonlighting as a consultant based on reading an old Linked In profile. That is not exactly a fair or accurate way to judge his performance, is it? No -- it's completely ridiculous.

The departure of "qualified, experienced administrators" isn't the same thing as the departure of TALENTED administrators. You can be experienced but not talented. No one has proven that the people who have left the MPCSD did so because of any conspiracy.

As for the Open Meetings law, the District is not allowed to discuss specific personnel matters in public FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE EMPLOYEE'S PRIVACY. Would you want your personnel record discussed by the Board in an open meeting?


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Posted by A parent who wants to know...
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 17, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Unlinked---

If your premise about LinkedIn is true, then Ghysels has been preparing for his next job ever since he landed in Menlo Park (and rightfully so, given his work history). If you look at his LI account, he adds multiple new "connections" 24/7. He has added hundreds of connections in the past 2 years. [Portion removed. Please don't speculate about what people may be doing.]


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Posted by Unlinked
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jul 17, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Ha! Ha! I talk on my cell phone outside my office all the time, I pace when I talk, and I'm not plotting anything. It's just a way to get an outdoor break and still get work done. And I also get lots of invitations to join Linked In to other people's accounts although I don't send out many myself and haven't updated my page in over a year. So far no one in my office has accused me of illegal moonlighting or secret job hunting which would both be untrue.


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2013 at 2:27 pm

"for the protection of the employee's privacy"--@Unlinked, I am a strong proponent of keeping personnel issues private; I've said so many times, most recently with regard to the fired gym teacher in Menlo Park. However, it is my understanding from the article that started this thread that the closed session was to discuss matters related to the Assistant Superintendent position, of which there is not a person in such a position nor does the position even currently exist. So, whose privacy is being protected by the Board discussing whatever they are discussing in a closed meeting?


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Posted by Michael G Stogner
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jul 17, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Peter asks,

"and, how does an elected official (the San Mateo County District Attorney) get away with blatantly refusing to enforce the Brown Act?"

Because we the citizens keep electing him in spite of this failure.

In a democracy we get exactly the kind of government that we deserve.

It also helps Mr. Wagstaffe when he runs unopposed and the public doesn't know that he doesn't enforce the Brown Act.....get involved


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Posted by A parent who wants to know...
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 17, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Unlinked---A clarification

For some reason, Ghysels has 2 LinkedIn accounts. One with 3 connections and the one he has used 24/7 since arriving in MP.


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Posted by Unlnked
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jul 17, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Well then. Ghysels has two Linked In accounts. Anyone would deserve to be fired for that.

And to A Parent Who Wants to Know and WhoRUpeople -- a meeting where current district personnel will be discussed is BY LAW a closed session. The right to personal privacy trumps the Brown Act. I assume a discussion of the vacated position (now being called "Chief Learning Officer" but still on the books as "Assistant Superintendent") would involve potential replacements including current teachers and administrators. Therefore, no public discussion. Imagine an administrator getting an email from a parent or a reporter informing him of his consideration as a job candidate based on the board's discussion. Or worse, imagine getting an email saying his name had come up in a public meeting but the board decided against appointing him. All hell would break loose.




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Posted by Diane
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 17, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Unlinked--

I'm a bit confused. Why is the board deciding who to appoint? The ONLY personnel they can give an opinion on is the superintendent. If a replacement for the ass't sup/chief learning officer is being discussed, why is this happening in closed session with the board? Shouldn't Ghysels be having this conversation with district administration to determine the best candidate? Seems like the sooner the board stops meddling in personnel decisions, the better of the district will be.


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Posted by School District Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 18, 2013 at 9:48 am

These posts are like reading a comedy routine. First Diane complains that the superintendent should be removed because he's a toxin, and then she criticizes him in a follow-up because he's not making unilateral decisions before getting input from his Board. Why would she want a "toxin" to lead without collaboration? I don't know who Diane is but she's sure impossible to please.

The Brown Act, which everyone is so up in arms about, prohibits the superintendent to meet with the Board informally -- he can't just pick up the phone and ask them each what they think. That would definitely be a violation. They must meet in an announced formal session. And if it's about personnel it has to be a closed session. Does that mean they can only meet once or twice a year about personnel issues, union negotiations, etc. so these gripers won't accuse them of secrecy?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 18, 2013 at 10:36 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" And if it's about personnel it has to be a closed session."


Wrong - the closed meeting exception for personnel matters is very limited:

"Closed Session for Personnel Matters
§ 65 – Scope of Exception
A public board may meet in closed session to consider the appointment, employment, evaluation of performance, discipline or dismissal of a public employee. A board is also authorized to meet inclosed session to hear complaints or charges made by another person or employee. The term A employee" does not include any elected official or member of a public body. There is a clear distinction in the law between a public employee and a public official. The latter holds an office, is often elected to that office, and is considered a representative of the people. Public officials do not have the same privacy rights as government employees. The term "employee" also does not include an independent contractor, unless he or she functions as an officer or employee. Thus, the hiring and evaluation of contractors and consultants must be handled in public. Moreover, the process for interviewing and selecting candidates to fill a board vacancy must be held publicly.


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Posted by Attempting to clarify...
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Jul 18, 2013 at 5:57 pm

In answer to the comment from "School District Parent,..."

Perhaps some clarification would help as the important point is being missed. It isn''t that Diane wants a toxin (the superintendent) to lead without collaboration or that she is O.K. with him doing so, it is simply that the superintendent is a toxin! She has stated a given. Also, the information regarding the Brown Act hasn't been completely stated. The Brown Act has been violated in many other ways such as: failure to post board meeting agenda as required (no less than 72 hours prior to a regular board meeting), negligence in posting agenda in a prominent location with easy access for the public and the omission of required descriptive language regarding closed session items for the public. The Brown Act exists for the protection of the public and concerned citizens should be up in arms when it is being violated and then not enforced when violations are reported. And, yes, it is appalling that neither the Board nor the District Attorney is willing to enforce the law.


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Posted by A parent who wants to know...
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 18, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Thank you, Mr. Carpenter, for your steadfast efforts to educate the public about the Brown Act. After reading your information, I did some brief research. Several cases documented the DA's denial of Brown Act violations, and other authorities later determined that violations had occurred. One case involved an attorney from the County Counsel's office. This information provided insight into the MPCSD Board's lack of concern about adhering to the Brown Act (i.e., they are not afraid to violate the law, because the DA doesn't enforce the law). Additional interesting information found online is included below.

The Brown Act Legacy in San Mateo County

DA Jim Fox retired in December 2010 after serving as the San Mateo County DA for 28 years. He did not enforce the Brown Act. The current DA, Steve Wagstaffe was elected to the office in June 2010, and he took office in January 2011. In an interview after the election, Wagstaffe said he expected little change when he became district attorney. "We have a similar philosophy," Wagstaffe said of himself and Fox. (Source: San Francisco Examiner, June 2010)

An article about Fox prior to his retirement stated, "As for what Fox's future offers up, that is still unclear. The only certainty is that his desk and credenza are being shipped to his son in the county counsel's office." (Source: San Mateo Daily Journal, Dec. 2010)

Tim Fox is a Deputy County Counsel; I'm guessing that he is the son who received the desk. (Source: County Counsel website)

Tim Fox has served as counsel to the MPCSD since October 2007. (Source: MPCSD website)

Peter is right. The voters need to identify a candidate for DA who will enforce the Brown Act. District attorneys in other counties in California actively enforce the Brown Act; we should not accept less in San Mateo County.


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