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Proposed administrator pay bump, new position raise teacher concerns

Original post made on Mar 13, 2019

Some Las Lomitas Elementary School District teachers are concerned about a proposal on the school board’s March 13 agenda to give a district administrator a new title and a “more than substantial” pay bump.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, March 13, 2019, 9:09 AM

Comments (34)

66 people like this
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of La Entrada School
on Mar 13, 2019 at 11:13 am

The timing of this seems all wrong to me.
Why would you put someone into a new or revised position without first reading the input of the teachers on how things are currently going?
Why would this district ever need an assistant Superintendent?
This is public monies. Is this money well spent? I think not.

The Board’s comments that this is “the right move for our kids” seems off base to me. A person in this position has very litttle impact on students lives. Our highly professional teachers are where this money would be better spent.


68 people like this
Posted by Concerned District Parent and Supporter of our Teachers
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Mar 13, 2019 at 12:08 pm

I feel there is a conflict of interest with the school board and the superintendent and Shannon Potts. It is my understanding that Shannon Potts was removed as principal of La Entrada in May 2016, because parents and teachers were unhappy with her leadership. But the board gave her a promotion for Director of Curriculum and Instruction without using hiring best practices of interviewing other internal or external candidates. Now the school board is doing the same thing, promoting Shannon Potts again without posting the job or being transparent with the district. A teacher happened to read the details in the board meeting posting. If the school board was not trying to hide this, then they did a terrible job communicating it to the district before it was to be voted on.

I strongly feel an Assistant Superintendent position is not needed in our small school district. It is fiscally irresponsible.

Las Lomitas and La Entrada teachers are the most dedicated, professional, experienced, caring, thoughtful teachers. Their expertise matters. They have the most experience with the administration at the district office, and they have valid concerns.

That the board did not think this through during an important time to find a new superintendent is concerning. The school board is out of touch with the concerns and opinions of the teachers. The school board does a great job respresenting Shannon Potts and Lisa Cesario. They are failing terribly respresenting the teachers and ultimately what is best for students.


64 people like this
Posted by Very Concerned Community Resident
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 13, 2019 at 12:16 pm

This smells like old school politics at it’s finest. I’m wondering what the relationship is between the outgoing superintendent and this new assistant? Are they buddies? If so, then something is really wrong here with creating an unnecessary position and unnecessary huge raise for this new position that is said to only be for a transition, which will be temporary. Was this done in the past for other superintendent departures? If not, why is it important now? And won’t they find a replacement soon? How is this good for the kids or anyone else and what is the head of the board thinking? Why would you not look at the survey results before making such a quick and rushed decision? This makes zero sense. There is no room for such politics in a children’s school. Let the new superindendent make the decision if they really need an assistant.


61 people like this
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of La Entrada School
on Mar 13, 2019 at 12:39 pm

Dear Vwry Concerned,

No such a position has never been created in a past Superintendent transition, and there have been many over the years If the Board thinks this is needed inorder to create stability for the new Sup, that does not instill much confidence in candidates they might hire to me.

And, to address you question about the outgoing Sup and Shannon Potts, they are very good friends. They both came from Santa Clara School District. Lisa Cesario hired Shanon Potts to be LE Principal, a woman who had no administrative experience, to my knowledge. It showed.

I heard someone say that this is “Lisa’s parting gift to Shannon.” I think they are onto something there.


59 people like this
Posted by Confused community member
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Mar 13, 2019 at 12:44 pm

I’m also confused as to why a promotion/raise is the route chosen in order to retain this individual during the superintendent transition. Wouldn’t a one time bonus to be paid after a specified transition period (1year?) be more aligned to this goal without sinking so many district dollars into an unnecessary position into perpetuity? I respectfully urge the school board to think through this decision and consider alternatives to the promotion/raise which would have far reaching consequences.


60 people like this
Posted by District parent
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 13, 2019 at 1:36 pm

There is no reason to believe anyone will leave with Cesario’s retirement so there is no need to scramble to create this new position to “retain talent.”

Why the haste? Wouldn’t it be better to let the new superintendent have a clean slate to make their own appointments and decide if an assistant superintendent is even necessary?


51 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Mar 13, 2019 at 2:15 pm

pearl is a registered user.

This is a COMPLETE OUTRAGE!!! Parents and teachers: Attend the Board meeting and LOUDLY PROTEST!!!


59 people like this
Posted by Very concerned
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 13, 2019 at 2:52 pm


I want to watch the board meeting. Will it be video taped? How can we communicate with the board? I don't feel safe to go to the meeting and speak. Honestly, I don't really even want to be seen there, but I want to be informed. I don't feel safe emailing board members at their llesd addresses that I know can be monitored by the district administration.

Board members, we have to worry about retaliation if we go to you without going through Lisa first. That's why people don't speak at meetings.

Board members, can you create a way for parents /community members to communicate our concerns with you without fearing that our children will experience retaliation? Can you find a way for teachers to communicate with you without fearing retaliation? This is a real concern.


48 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 13, 2019 at 3:00 pm

It's stated by the board president that they want to ensure a smooth transition.

Does smooth mean "don't rock the status quo?" What's the matter with some bumps along the way if it's for the improvement of our system? John's argument that things need to be smooth is the same mindset that keeps our district in a status quo of Readin', Writin', and Rithmetic place. I

I highly doubt that Shannon would take a pay cut to go somewhere else and if she did, why is the board afraid that we would perish? Infiltration of new personnel is a good thing... This is Silicon Valley and the valley is full of entrepreneurs. Does the board want to re-invent the district? That's what I was hoping with the on boarding of our two new board members? More vision of what we can be not more of the same old same old....

I don't want more of the same.

Suspend the vote until all the input is in. Hear what folks say. Take the chance that Shannon might leave. If she does, see who else is out there and go for him/her or if you feel that she's the best, make the offer then. There is time, even with the hiring cycle of school systems. There is time.

The new board needs to show who they are and define themselves as new and improved. We've been OK but we could be better. Aspire for more....


59 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of La Entrada School
on Mar 13, 2019 at 3:05 pm

Wow! To hear someone state that they do not feel comfortable showing up at or speaking at a Board meeting and that they fear retriibution speaks volumes to me about the unhealthy environment currently in LLESD district.

This environment was created by Lisa Cesario and Shannon Potts. Why would the Board think it is vital to retain either one?


58 people like this
Posted by Las Lomitas Parent
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Mar 13, 2019 at 4:00 pm

It makes zero sense to rush this type of employment decision before hiring a new leader, especially when this position has never existed before. To have the President of the Board say, "The board's role is to make sure we have a smooth transition to our next superintendent and a well-run district overall. This is the right move for the district and the right move for our kids." I say you aren't doing your job if that is the only way you know how to ensure a smooth transition. We've hired new leaders before without creating a new position with a huge budget price tag and transitions are just that...temporary but this position will be permanent. There must be a lot more to the decision than a need for a "smooth transition." It is a simple matter to delay this idea until the school community has a chance to review more information and understand the cost and ramifications of such a move.


54 people like this
Posted by Concerned parents
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 13, 2019 at 4:53 pm

I am in agreement that the vote should be postponed or cancelled entirely. By making the decision to reclassify this position, instead of posting it as an opportunity to better our district, is just another example of the favoritism that goes on in this district. The same way Jeff Honda, husband to a board member, was hired to be the Director of Technology, and Shannon Pott's daughter was hired to be the interim Spanish teacher at La Entrada even though she has no credential to teach it (a fact that was withheld from parents) this is our District Office employees and board members making decisions based on what is best for them, not what is best for our kids.
What is the harm in waiting to hear what other parents and teachers have to say? I read the earlier post about parents fearing retribution, do teachers also fear retribution if they speak up?
This is ridiculous in a district of our caliber.


46 people like this
Posted by Mike C taxpayer, former Foundation board member
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Mar 13, 2019 at 5:47 pm

Thank you Mimi Sabo for standing up for all of us.
Very good comments and suggestions in this string.
I hope John considers these before taking action.


57 people like this
Posted by Teacher LLESD
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 13, 2019 at 5:49 pm

I am a teacher in LLESD. Someone asked about fear of retaliation. I personally have experienced retaliation from Shannon and from Lisa. However, the best way to know is to ask.

Suggestion for the Board:

Conduct a survey of all the teachers who have left (either retired or left since Shannon and Lisa came) and find out how much that contributed to their leaving. Perhaps the board wanted some of those teachers to leave, but there are others, I know who were loved by the community, who couldn't take it anymore. When people retire early or leave a well-paying district without relocating for cost of living, the board should wonder.....

I believe there is a culture in which teachers are not free to speak about what's best for the child. There are many examples that I can cite about times where I have been told not to say that to parents. I believe that things are better in our district since Shannon is more removed from teachers, parents, and students but since Lisa ALWAYS has her back, whether it's best for students or not, it's not safe to go against her.

The board doesn't have to give teachers everything they want, but they should be interested in knowing how the culture is within the district because it impacts the children to have teachers working in conditions where they don't feel safe. My request is for the board to create an anonymous way for teachers to communicate their concerns. I have a lot of positive things that I would say (bringing Mark Jones has made our lives a bit more positive) but could really enlighten the trustees with some stories that would really surprise them.

If I were to cite examples here of times when I have been silenced, they would make me identifiable and as much as I love my students, I cannot risk that. It's that bad. Please, community. Help us gain a voice so that our perspective is at least heard. We love the students.


50 people like this
Posted by Publius
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 13, 2019 at 6:43 pm

Can we say nepotism / cronyism.


54 people like this
Posted by Las Lomitas District resident
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Mar 13, 2019 at 6:47 pm

This was a stellar school district not that long ago. This administration seems to place a premium on ‘controlling the message’ and taking care of their own at the expense of the district’s students and teachers!! Time for a change!! Give the district back to educators!!!


59 people like this
Posted by Another LLESD teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 13, 2019 at 7:18 pm

First, I want to thank all of the parents and community members who have asked the same tough questions that the LLESD staff has asked of our Las Lomitas School Board. I am also grateful that many parents will take time out of their busy evenings in order to attend tonight’s board meeting.

Secondly, I want to thank my brave colleague, Mimi Sabo, who has eloquently and professionally asked the Board to examine and listen to the community and staff before making such a big decision in regards to creating an Assistant Superintendent position.

Next, many teachers will not be in attendance at tonight’s board meeting because if the vote goes through, we know Ms. Potts will seek retribution. The teachers, for many good reasons, fear Ms. Potts and Ms. Cesario. In order to preserve our programs for our students and maintain our current positions, we keep quiet. Both of these leaders deplore disagreement with their mandates. Like my colleague who wrote, I cannot give public examples because I will be identified.

For the past seven years, the tenure of both Ms. Cesario and Ms. Potts, has not produced inspiration or change, instead it has produced anxiety, stressful conditions, and low morale. When Ms. Cesario announced her retirement, many of my colleagues expressed relief. Finally, we could move forward with an experienced leader who can help guide us in doing what we love --- teaching! We hoped for a leader that would actually visit our classrooms. We hoped for a leader who would welcome the talent amongst the staff. We hoped to begin anew.

A teacher looked at the Board agenda when it was made public last Thursday, and immediately brought this news to our attention that Ms. Potts was up for a promotion. Most of us found out last Friday evening. Why we asked? What is the need for an Assistant Superintendent? What monies can possibly be available for our school district to spend almost a half of a million dollars for TWO District Office administrators?

Furthermore, I strong disagree with Mr. Earnhardt that Ms. Potts is the talent our school district needs to retain. Please look at Ms. Potts’ qualifications. Ask the teachers how many times they have seen Ms. Potts, or had Ms. Potts lead us in best curriculum practices. Listen to my other colleague who is asking the Board to survey the teachers. Trust me, I’d tell the Board; you’ll hear a pattern played over and over again when you ask the staff.

It is time to move forward. It is time to attract new leadership. No more status quo. No more favoritism. It is time to think of the kids, not pretend that it is about the kids because IT is about the kids.


53 people like this
Posted by LLESD educator
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 13, 2019 at 7:30 pm

I am also am employee of LLESD. When Lisa and Shannon came to LLESD they brought lots of their friends to work in the district. While they may have been strong teachers, they have been favored teachers, given even new positions since arriving, regardless of their talent. I even saw those employees get positions that other internal candidates did not. When a district has such internal workings and favorites, it's not good for anyone.

Lisa and Shannon have worked in exactly ONE other district. That's not the kind of experience we want in LLESD. As an employee, I want more than a manager who can follow through on tasks, delegate and the like. I want an instructional leader. Shannon hasn't been around the block enough to have gained that. She worked in one very large district for her entire career and that is not going to give LLESD the experienced instructional leader that we need.

As an educator in LLESD, I want someone who can help teachers reach new heights. I've been holding my breath for years, waiting for that amazing superintendent who will have a board report that consists of more than construction updates, someone who will help us excel, who will stretch us,

Please board of trustees, select a great superintendent and then trust that employee to pick who s/he needs/wants. Don't empower a lame duck supt. with a decision like this. John, you are the leader, so lead.


48 people like this
Posted by Sarah Eisner
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 13, 2019 at 7:59 pm

Listen to the teachers. They know what’s up. Way to speak truth Mimi!


53 people like this
Posted by LLESD Educator
a resident of La Entrada School
on Mar 13, 2019 at 8:10 pm

Thank you, LLESD parents, for speaking up and supporting the LLESD teachers in expressing our shared concerns. This means a lot to ALL of the teachers!


12 people like this
Posted by Tired of wasting money on tutoring
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 13, 2019 at 8:45 pm

LLESD Educator:
Are you a teacher tutoring students for cash after school in your classroom? Maybe YOU are "favored." Yes, this happens at LE.


52 people like this
Posted by Educator
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 13, 2019 at 8:55 pm

One of the saddest days for Las Lomitas was the year we hired this superintendent! After a few months I wrote a letter that I was going to give her after my retirement about how sad it was that someone, one person, could come and do so much damage. I gave her the one credit she deserved but day by day she destroyed the morale of the best teachers across the board I have ever worked with! She very quickly brought on her friend for a job she had no experience to do! Once the moral was destroyed at LE they promoted her to the DO. Once again she broke the morale of so many teachers by her bullying form of leadership. With no regard to the fantastic things in place at both schools she just barreled over us. Many people have left and I for one couldn’t handle the sadness that was happening to a district I loved and I left! I’ve never given up on anything in my life but decisions have and continue to be made that are not in the best interest of the children! With this new development that was buried in the board packet I’m sad I have now lost faith in the board. If you think something is a good thing you don’t hide it for months then bury it. You talk about it or at least discuss what the impact and implications might be. You are not listening to the voices and that saddens me. I can only hope that you will listen to the results the consultants will be bring tomorrow and sad you couldn’t hold your vote till after they presented. Why hire experts in their field if you don’t listen to them? The next time the district tells teachers that the spelling books are too expensive-think about this ridiculous decision! Thank you to the brave parents that came in support of teachers! You don’t know what that means to us! Thank you to the hard working teachers who support the children of the district!
Yet another sad day.


48 people like this
Posted by Teacher LLESD
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 13, 2019 at 10:08 pm

To the parent who read my letter at the meeting:

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for trying to get our voices into the room. I so wish that I could share with the board all that I want them to know. Perhaps you will send this to them, as I cannot.

For the LLESD board:

I want the board to know how much lavish district money I've watched Shannon spend on expensive dinners when we all go to Los Angeles for the Museum of Tolerance trip. I want the board to know how year after year she does nothing with the experience that the taxpayers pay for teachers to have (no follow up, no professional development, nothing)

I want the board to know that she checks the list: Tolerance Training and moves on.

I want the board to know that Shannon, in her role as C and I director, has never been into many teachers classrooms.

I want the board to know that some teachers cannot speak the truth about what we know is best for our students at IEP or 504 meetings because of pressure not to. (But not because of Ms. Spindler)

I want the board to know that I've talked to outstanding teachers who have left to go teach in a district five miles down the road for significantly less money because working conditions matter.

I want the board to know that I feel that compliance, not creativity, is the name of the game in LLESD. They should know that following the established program drives everything and that teachers "write the LCAP" for the C and I director but do it out of "compliance" not because it's driving our practice.

There are a dozen more examples that I could give, but they are too specific and would identify me. I cannot share them with the board unless they ask, ask in private, and ask to seek the truth.

The board should definitely know that the children are "performing" in large part in spite of the school system, not because of it. That's not to say that teachers are not teaching but that we're all getting by, and some of us are more in survival mode than others. Our children cannot thrive and we love them so much, it's frustrating to us, not to mention sad.

Thank you for trying to make my comments a part of the public record. I hope that you might follow up to see if it happens. More importantly please ask the board to find a way to meet with us, to create a safe mechanism to tell them what we want them to know. We will do anything for the students.

Thank you.


46 people like this
Posted by Another LLESD teacher
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 13, 2019 at 10:51 pm

Dear Parents,
Thank you for speaking out to try and prevent the reclassification of Shannon Potts. The events of the evening are just the tip of iceberg of what is wrong in the LLESD. You have no idea.

Sadly, now you know a little of what the LLESD teachers (all except the favorites and moles) know. Now you know something we have tried to fight for years only to be circumvented, silenced, and divided. Now you know that you/we have no voice. They, administration (and now the school board too) politely take you your feedback, survey you, respond in kind words and do what they want anyway. They report they have followed a process. They listen only to the voice that agrees with them, this evening that was Rich Ginn, even though the majority says something contrary to what they want.

Lisa and Shannon have poisoned the well that was once an amazing place. Lisa and Shannon have tainted the school board with their rhetoric. The LLESD was a joyful place to work. Together they have dismantled all that was special and unique about the LLESD. Never before had I worked in a place where everyone brought the best of their teaching talents and gave so much of themselves. The LLESD was a place where experience, innovation and creativity in the classroom was desired and valued. Now it is called resistance. Curriculum standards lead the , but teachers had the freedom to bring it to life for their students based on student needs. This happened across the grades and in both schools. The LLESD never rested on their laurels. But now the board celebrates everyone being brought into alignment. The board celebrates the staff being turned into cookie cutters.

I have brave colleagues who say the emperor has no clothes. I have brave colleagues who speak the truth when a process is not followed. I have brave colleagues who speak out when district mandates are not working for the students. I have brave colleagues who express on a regular basis that they feel like terrible and ineffective teachers because of the box they have been placed in by ridiculous administrative directives.

Please LLESD parent community don't let the events of the evening, the unanimous reclassification of Shannon Potts by the school board, silence your voices. Please let the events of the evening have the opposite result. Our school mascots are the Las Lomitas lion and the La Estrada leopard. Please let us hear you ROAR!!! Please do so because we can't because we are afraid. Please do so for your children.


49 people like this
Posted by Sleepless in Menlo Park
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Mar 14, 2019 at 5:33 am

I wish that I could write my name, but I also fear retribution as a parent in the district. After last nights board meeting, I cannot sleep. It reminded me of what is happening in our country right now. It reminded me of the Brett Kavanaugh hearing and all of the hearings occurring right now. There are two opposing sides, and one side seems to blatantly ignore facts and opinions of others and only wants to appease their base. It appears that the School Board's base is Lisa Cesario and Shannon Potts. I feel like we need a special counsel to research why our school board thinks it is appropriate to spend our school districts money on an Assistant Superintendent. Last night, parents and teachers were very clear that is not what they want.

As Congressman Elijah Cummings stated, "The greatest gift (we) can give to our children is making sure we give them a democracy that is intact. A democracy better than the one we came upon." That is what we need to do for our school district, too, making sure we have a quality school district that is intact. The school board doesn't seem to be running our school district like a democracy. They are not listening to research and facts from parents and teachers. It appears they are only listening to two people, Lisa Cersario and Shannon Potts, whose leadership has been referred to as a "dictatorship." I can't understand the reasoning of the school board. As Congressman Elijah Cummings says, "We are better than this." WE ARE BETTER THAN THIS!


30 people like this
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 14, 2019 at 6:23 am

Word has spread as to what happened at the school board meeting last night. Recall the school board! Fire ALL adminstration - Lisa, Shannon, school principals, vice principals. The teachers have clearly been trying to do what is best for all our children under great duress. I am saddened I didn't know of this sooner. I greatly admire how the teachers have proceeded as professionals under the circumstances. They are not at fault in this. They deserve a fresh start.


27 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2019 at 6:34 am

pearl is a registered user.

It appears any hope of change is going to require outside help. Is there a State of California department that parents and teachers can contact, and ask to take a look at this situation that is obviously negatively affecting the District?


39 people like this
Posted by Disgusted
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 14, 2019 at 6:43 am

Word has spread as to what happened at the school board meeting last night. Recall the school board! Fire ALL administrators at the district office, Las Lomitas and La Entrada. The teachers have clearly been working under duress for a long time. I am so sad that I did not realize or understand this sooner. I greatly admire how the teachers have carried on as professionals under the circumstances. How lucky are our children! The teachers are NOT at fault in this, though I glean from the from the comments that some teachers may be in league with administration. I have to wonder what else has been hidden from the parent community. the teachers and our children deserve a fresh start.


41 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 14, 2019 at 6:53 am

This board was elected to serve and protect the integrity of our dear and wonderful school district and community. I feel saddened over the decisions made so quickly. I agree, that if an assistant is needed then it should be determined later. Such fear over not being able to hire a superintendent is ridiculous. How about other solutions? The careful selection process for a superintendent is not being given for this position, who will hold the same power as the superintendent.


48 people like this
Posted by Sleepless in Menlo Park
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Mar 14, 2019 at 8:16 am

I want to respond to a post about firing the principals. The teachers would know more than me, but I feel Mark Jones and Alain Comou are being controlled by Lisa and Shannon, too, and they also have a fear of losing their jobs. The School Board is the true problem for not standing up to Shannon and Lisa and doing their job.

Look at the chaos that the school board has caused because of their lack of leadership, good judgment, compassion and integrity. One thing the school board is not lacking is arrogance. How can we as a community trust them to hire a new superintendent? They have lost my trust.

Teachers you are outstanding! Parents trust you! Parents believe in you! Thank you for giving our children one of the greatest gifts in their lives- an excellent education.


46 people like this
Posted by Former LLESD Teacher
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 14, 2019 at 11:14 am

I am one of the teachers who left LLESD sooner than I anticipated. Although my devotion to my students, my colleagues, the parents and school were strong, I could no longer in good conscience work for a district that challenged my personal morals so greatly. It was with a heavy heart that I made the decision to leave.

The erosion and gradual disappearance of the following were reasons for my departure:

• Trust
• Transparency
• Honesty
• Mutual respect
• Teacher input
• Shared decision making
• Fair leadership
• Common sense
• Collaboration between staff and administrators
• High morale
• Individualism
• Successful systems & practices
• Diversity with curriculum, methodology & pedagogy
• Professional development & teacher learning
• Peace and happiness


Thank you to the parents who speak on behalf of the teachers and staff. Thank you to my colleagues who hang in there each day and fight the good fight. Thank you to the students who inspire and motivate teachers each day.

Parents and community: continue to preserve, correct and protect your school district. You are the voice that can make a difference.


25 people like this
Posted by deflated teacher of LLESD children
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 14, 2019 at 2:01 pm


Dear Readers,

As an LLESD employee, I was so hopeful when Dana Nunn joined the board. I thought that she might be courageous enough to seek the truth about what's happened in our district, to ask and to listen, and to stand up to Lisa instead of being directed by her. It doesn't take the experience to do that but it takes courage.

I didn't see that last night when there was no consideration of even delaying the vote until the survey data is in.
I didn't see that when she failed to question why the rush?
I didn't see that when she assumed without question that continuity is what Lisa says we need and therefore continuity (over transparency and over the democratic process) is what we are going to seek.

I'm discouraged. There has been no outreach from the new board to understand and that's deflating to those of us who not only were excited about new district leadership but were excited for real change in our status quo mode of board operations (take Lisa's directive and support it).

Since I've had no forum for sharing internal concerns, I am going to use this blog and hope that parents can glean enough to know that they need to pressure the board to find a safe way to gather input from teachers, many of whom are afraid to speak.


Principals: I believe that principals are not free to do what they want to do. While no one gets 1005 autonomy, I believe that our principals are micromanaged. I have experienced, personally and also heard other teachers describe instances where they have had the support of the principal and after he "checked it out" with his boss, the idea was nixed. Of course, that could be expected to happen once in a while but what's not coming out here is that the nixing of the idea is often more related to if Lisa/Shannon like that employee than to the viability of the idea. All you need to do is ask and in a safe environment, we can provide examples.

On the note of principals, I've seen things that didn't seem natural. I've often wondered if Sue Sartor left quietly but before her anticipated retirement....? Lisa/Shannon came from their large unified district with protocols and compliance mandates and had us all checking our boxes at the expense of creativity seeking to improve our program. I can tell you that Sonya Dineen went through a complete transformation since she worked under Shannon's leadership. The true sparkle in her eye left and while she has bounced back and made due, she's never been the same. Her emphasis is less people-oriented and more compliance oriented. When good people don't keep doing great things, the board should wonder, at least wonder if it's what it appears to be on the surface.... It's only speculation but coupled with so many other things that point to low morale and unhappy culture....

With respect to Sonya, I believe that she couldn't simply agree to disagree with Shannon because that's not what our culture supports. That's not how it works with Lisa/Shannon. Having Shannon at the DO is just controlled from afar. An illustrative example would be that Shannon controls the technology mentors and teachers often cannot really get what they need/want because the tech mentors' hands are tied. She hasn't said so, but it's obvious. Shannon decides what we get for tech support and directs the tech mentor; she fails to empower her under the guise of using the "coaching cycle" because that's a plausible reason to tell the board about the role of the TOSA, that she's taking teachers through the coaching cycle. But is it working? How does the board know that what they are approving is working the way that Lisa describes it to work? We want to help your children but need you to know what obstacles we face.

We are rarely asked what we need because "Mother knows best" and we all need to "respect that accept it". So we have.

What this process is doing is giving teachers hope that maybe the layers will be peeled back and someone on the board will care enough to seek the truth about what's happening behind the smiling stores told in the Supt's board reports. (Which we don't even know about because Lisa is afraid to make the videotapes public, another totally antiquated practice).

I've heard that Lisa has told the board perhaps folks are just disgruntled at Shannon because Shannon has had to take a hard line at times. Folks don't move into survival mode over that. They might be down for a day or two after a decision was denied, but culture doesn't become negative from that type of short term action. A culture becomes this way from being ignored and micromanaged for years.

Teachers: What about teachers who think Shannon/Lisa are doing a great job? Is it because they are? It could be, but it might be related to the fact that certain employees were hand-picked from Santa Clara Unified (Lisa's former district) and brought to LLESD. Or might it be because certain teachers have been given leadership positions? Again, this is not to say that these are not great teachers, but it is to say that no one who has fallen into Shannon's favor, is going to speak out against her, even if they see bad things happening to their colleagues or for students. It's survival mode and each teacher needs to protect him/herself to get through the day. Did the board note that not one teacher spoke anything negative about Shannon, except through the parent who attempted to read the letter? Teachers were very careful to speak against the POSITION, not the person. That's not just because of the agendized item. Not one teacher spoke about the negative impact Shannon has had on our district culture (not even if the public comment about items not on the agenda) but instead choose to write about it here. IT IS NOT SAFE to express our opinions nor describe our actual experiences. Hence this OUTCRY online.

New Board Members: Please be courageous in your work. You direct the superintendent, not the other way around. Watch the videos of other school board meetings and you will see how its done when democracy is at its best. Please keep this story alive (yes it is about the person, not just the role), as we need this forum to communicate with one another.

Parents, the board works for you. You can make your expectations known and clear and we are asking you to do so, not just so that teachers are placated, but to leave a democracy intact. We want to see a system that doesn't wreak of the powerful ignoring the voices of the people (as the board did last night when they had an overwhelming majority speak against their decision and refused to suspend their vote until people had been heard through the survey). Please, have the courage to call your board member and urge him/her to seek input. Just because the board doesn't represent teachers doesn't mean that teachers' input can't inform board decisions.


20 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2019 at 2:25 pm

pearl is a registered user.

Board President John Earnhardt doesn't get it. He has to go. His narrow-minded view is causing immeasurable harm to the District, as well as to the teachers, students and their families.


20 people like this
Posted by LLESD teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 15, 2019 at 7:26 am

I have not seen Ms. Potts on my campus this year. She forwards an email from a listserv (we all have are members of anyways) once or twice a year. That's it. Audit her schedule and emails - there is no way she works a full day and there is no way she impacts students learning to the degree she is being compensated.

This is about the state of public education and the crisis of teacher retention/housing and then think about whether she is making $25,000 more of an impact on students after this vote or not. Shameful.

We all help with the superintendent search. We all help because we care about students. If she's going to leave if she doesn't get paid that's called an ultimatum and the opposite of teamwork.

Audit her schedule, audit her emails. Then audit a random teacher's. There's no way this action is just, smart, or helping students. Shameful.

The LCAP is not that difficult....

I don't get to vote in this district and I don't have enough money to donate to this district - but if I did - both those participations would be impacted by this


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