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School board OKs new administrator position despite outcry

Original post made on Mar 14, 2019

After a bristly back-and-forth between the Las Lomitas Elementary School District school board and a group of parents and teachers, board members unanimously voted Wednesday night (March 13) to give a district administrator a new title and pay hike.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 14, 2019, 11:56 AM

Comments (35)

Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2019 at 12:17 pm

pearl is a registered user.

Board President John Earnhardt obviously doesn't get it. He needs to go! His narrow mindset is causing the District, teachers, students and their families immeasurable harm.

Posted by Ignored LLESD Educator
a resident of La Entrada School
on Mar 14, 2019 at 12:32 pm

Pearl- Right on! However John did not act alone, the Board voted unnanimously to approve this.
Is this case you truly cannot separate the position from the person, since they are creating a position for a particular person. I am not disappointed in our two new Baird members to seem to have gotten themselves brainwashed already.

Posted by Educator
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 14, 2019 at 12:41 pm

I’m confused by John’s comment about “retaining key talent” and then saying it isn’t a performance review. The word to look at is “key”. Maybe looking at results of survey would have helped, looking at past surveys would have helped but we know that none of the negative ones went anywhere but the trash can. The board was told what they wanted to hear, very closely guarded by the superintendent. Putting all that aside, I think people should get compensated for doing a good job, sadly this isn’t the case. This raise and position are not fiscally responsible! Thank you parents for supporting what is good for your children and for supporting the teachers! It is so much appreciated. We have seen retribution before and believe me, I’m sure it will happen again. I worry for Mark Jones and Alain Camou as well. They do try to support us!

Posted by Confused in Menlo Park
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 14, 2019 at 1:20 pm

It's difficult to understand why the board decided to vote contrary to the wishes of the community they serve. Is each board member willing to confirm there was no quid pro quo for their vote?

Posted by deflated teacher of LLESD children
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 14, 2019 at 1:57 pm

Thank you, Angela, for using the term OUTCRY in the title. I think what started out as an agenda item about a position reclassification, is seen as an opportunity to outcry for help. We've had no outlet, no article, no board meeting, no way to bring this attention to light. We are grateful for your coverage and hope that meetings will be taped for you so that you can more closely follow our district.

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.
There is no excuse for a new board member being brainwashed! Board members are thinking individuals and I would hope that they would do the research that they need to do to think for themselves and make decisions for themselves. That's what we teach our students to do every day through the Common Core reading and writing standards. I hope that board members can do this because third and fourth graders can read articles and listen to one another without being brainwashed.

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.

Posted by Part of the community
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Mar 14, 2019 at 2:02 pm

If Ms. Potts is being promoted and paid more because of the transition to a new superintendent, does that mean there won't be a necessity to hire Ms. Cesario and/or any other cronies as consultants to aid in the transition? It's imperative that the board assure us that the selection of Cesario's replacement has been totally transparent, without undue influence from Cesario. Perhaps the board should seek written confirmation of such from the consulting firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, which is managing the search for a new superintendent.

Posted by Las Lomitas District resident
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Mar 14, 2019 at 2:20 pm




Posted by Wondering
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Mar 15, 2019 at 1:23 am

Hmmmm....the school board is concerned that Potts is being asked to do more than is/was in her job description as Director of C & I therefore she needed this reclassification and financial compensation. Will they do the same for the teachers next time it time for a salary negotiation? I'm pretty sure the majority of our teachers do way more than what is their job description, and aren't our children lucky they do! Don't they deserve to be compensated for going above and beyond? I think so!

Posted by Night Owl
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 15, 2019 at 1:33 am

Aren't these the people hired by the school board to find Cesario's replacement?

School district hires executive search firm with a history of bad picks ...Web Link

Posted by Disgusted!
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Mar 15, 2019 at 9:42 am

I will never, EVER EVER EVER donate another penny to that district. The finacial waste is disgusting. That board is disgusting, too.

Posted by Just a parent
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Mar 15, 2019 at 9:45 am

After reading all the comments, I have to agree with Disgusted.

Posted by Fearful
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Mar 15, 2019 at 10:23 am

My fear is that if we get the 'smooth transition' that $30,000 supposedly buys, the best teachers in this district will leave and be replaced by mediocre but 'compliant' ones. This is our community not Lisa's or Shannon's. Our kids' educations and even our property values depend on keeping these schools as outstanding as they have been over the years.

Posted by La Entrada Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Mar 15, 2019 at 10:54 am

La Entrada Parent is a registered user.

The reason for giving Ms. Potts a new title and salary shifted from retaining key personnel during the transition - to the Board being legally required to re-classify her position because she is doing duties outside the posted duties of Director of Curriculum and Instruction. There was no discussion at the board meeting about which duties Ms. Potts is currently performing outside her current position or explanation why the current Superintendent is not performing those duties. In fact - when someone asked for more information about the new position's (Assistant Superintendent) duties - there was no clear answer and the Board did not appear to have the job description in front of them. If the Board's action were based on being legally required to classify Ms. Potts' job - why was this not part of a larger effort to review the entire staff's current duties compared with current positions - and reclassify all staff who are performing duties outside their current listed positions? Why was this done in such a rush? Why was this done for only one position?

Posted by Why?
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Mar 15, 2019 at 12:20 pm

If Ms. Potts needed her job title changed, because she was legally doing the job of an assistant sup in a school district the size of Las Lomitas, the question has to be asked, why was she required to perform those duties in the first place?
Why did the current Sup need to delegate those duties in the first place?

Posted by Questioner
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Mar 15, 2019 at 12:46 pm

Who oversees school boards? To whom are the board members accountable?

Web Link

Posted by one-time supporter
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 15, 2019 at 1:19 pm

I used to support the school district. But I have seen waste, un-earned raises, and flagrant use of new school bond financing in the Las Lomitas district. No more donations, and I even exercised my over 65 tax exemption to not have to pay for certain bonds. No more money goes voluntarily to them until they get their act together and their budgets and spending under control.

Posted by Appalled
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Mar 15, 2019 at 4:19 pm

Dear Fearful, It is already happening. My child's teacher and I had a very blunt conversation about the state of the LLESD. My child's teacher said that an alarming number of LE teachers have left and no one has questioned why. Also, many stellar educators have retired earlier than expected due to working conditions. My child's teacher stated that if it was not for family responsibilities, they (pronoun used for privacy purposes) would quit now and so would many other teachers including many veteran teachers. Our teachers' talents are being stiffled and squandered. It seems the LLESD claims to promote diversity, but does not value diversity of teaching talent. It seems they want, to use your well worded comment, only compliant teachers. Who will suffer? Our children (alongside their teachers). Something must be done to reverse this trend and restore the LLESD.

Posted by Upset Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 15, 2019 at 4:49 pm

I heard many teachers are looking for teaching jobs in surrounding school districts. We will be losing talented staff.

Posted by District Voter
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Mar 15, 2019 at 8:25 pm


The Board answer to the voters. That said, none of these Board members were elected, as the races were not contested. IMO, they act as if they are only beholden to the district, in particular the Superintendent.

We, as voters, need to stay informed, involved and outspoken. It is obvious that, at this point, they are not used to hearing our voices, muchless listening to our voices. Let's make that change.

Posted by teacher shortage
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:23 pm

Thank you to all who have posted here.

To Fearful: My child’s teacher talked to me offline. S/he told me that s/he would go to a neighboring district if there was an opening for which h/she was qualified. Everyone knows how much teachers thrive in environments where teachers are empowered, and you don’t have to go far to find that. We should be concerned. There is a teacher shortage and while LLESD pays relatively well, the pools are smaller and smaller. We have competitive neighbors who are creating exciting environments for teachers to thrive. When my child’s teacher told me this, I was crushed. Both my children had him/her and I never knew how bad it was. I am encouraging us all to speak with the teachers and find out what they need to thrive. (staying because they can’t move isn’t good enough either; I want to have happy teachers teaching my children).

To Why: What a great question? What on earth was Ms. Pott’s doing that required reclassification? I saw that one teacher posted that h/she hadn’t even seen Ms. Pott’s on campus the entire year! That is totally unacceptable! And to follow with WHY’s comment: Why on earth didn’t Ms. Cesario tell her board if she was delegating all this work to the point that we were practically legally responsible for reclassifying? Better yet the question is: where is the oversight? Why didn’t the board ask or notice? That’s why we elect them to provide oversight! Some of these board members have been here for years and didn’t notice that Ms. Cesario was delegating a large number of responsibilities.

To One Time Vote and to Disgusted: Thank you for writing. LLESD community members, this comment should worry all of us. We are a basic aid community funded school district. We desperately count on the voters for financial support. We can’t have voters disgusted with the actions of our board. We will lose the support of those who don’t have children in the schools (the majority of the community).

To Night Owl: I’m shocked to see the track record of the firm. Thank you for taking the time to look. FYI- the candidates who are considering our district will have read every single online blog that out there. Who on earth would want to come to this? The dirty laundry is being aired and superintendents who want challenges don’t want this kind of challenge, they want challenges to bring about innovation, close the achievement gap, improve the instructional program…… Likely the very best of the best, those candidates who can be picky, will go elsewhere. Keep in mind, our most recent superintendents came to our district to retire. That’s because we are a career ending place (Shannon and Lisa) as opposed to a stopping point for people who aspire to bigger and better things after gaining more experience. Where on earth would Shannon have gone? Seriously?

To Angela: Is there a possibility of setting up an LLESD community forum tab? Right now everyone is so outraged, that we are just venting. Eventually, when we “come to” and realize the implications of the board’s reclassification (aka promotion/cronyism) we will need to stop venting and take action. That action is going to be pressuring the board to direct the supt. to get a handle on Shannon’s toxic influence of doing all the things that the former LLESD educator cited in the original post.

“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”

To La Entrada Parent:
“The reason for giving Ms. Potts a new title and salary shifted from retaining key personnel during the transition - to the Board being legally required to re-classify her position because she is doing duties outside the posted duties of Director of Curriculum and Instruction.”

What an inciteful comment. What is the real reason?! Does she need to be reclassified for her work load or retained for consistency? I’m not clear at all.

How can we get the word out to more than the small handful of Almanac readers? Please send your friends and neighbors to this blog. How can we come together without fearing retaliation? I think the teachers will shield us and we need to shield them. I know my child’s teacher was afraid to tell me things going on behind the scenes.

Posted by hopeful
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 16, 2019 at 9:22 am

Hopefully Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates will bring forth Supervisor candidates that can reverse the current toxic environment obviously being perpetrated by the current heavy-handed, authoritarian regime. However, reclassifying one of the current perpetrators to an "heir-apparent" role doesn't bode well. I am very hopeful that the current board values the legacy they will leave behind and does the right thing, by bringing in new blood and not making the reclassification permanent. Or, if they really do believe that the effective ongoing administration of our district does require such a position, that the new Supervisor will have a say in who fills it on an ongoing basis. As the board has insisted, it is all about the need for an Assistant Supervisor position, not about the desire to retain any particular individual.

Posted by La Entrada Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Mar 16, 2019 at 9:42 am

La Entrada Parent is a registered user.

@ Hopeful
Board President John Earnhardt said the reclassification and raise would help the district retain Potts and ensure a smooth transition as the board searches for a new superintendent, who would start on July 1.

“This was my idea to retain key talent after Lisa Cesario informed the board of her retirement in January,” he said in an email. “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.”

Posted by hopeful
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 16, 2019 at 10:25 am

@La Entrada Parent
Good point, I was confusing what our Public Relations career professional (who as such should be fully cognizant of the import of his written words) Board President said via email, with what the brave attendees at the 3/13 Board meeting were careful to characterize it as, purportedly to avoid retribution. I still remain hopeful the board won't forget that their legacy is on the line...

Posted by La Entrada Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Mar 16, 2019 at 12:18 pm

La Entrada Parent is a registered user.

@hopeful - actually the Board changed the reason for the "re-classification" after the public comment period - so no one from the public was able to ask more questions about the details of the duties of the 2 different positions.

Posted by Perception
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 16, 2019 at 12:23 pm

Well, it seems the school board considers Shannon Potts key talent that needs to be retained, but the teachers do not. It seems the opinion of the teachers should carry great weight with the board, yet it seems that is not the case. It is my understanding, in speaking with several teachers who cannot speak for themselves out of fear of retaliation, that Lisa Cesario has said to the board that her best friend is not popular with teachers because she has had to take a hard line with them. I have been a parent in the district for over 10 years. Every teacher my children have had have been nothing but professional. Why do the teachers need a hard line? Lisa is going and good riddance. I read that Lisa brought Shannon with her when she came. Can she please take her with her when she leaves?

Posted by teacher shortage
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 16, 2019 at 2:31 pm

Thank you hopeful for giving us hope. I'd also like to see the firm bring us a candidate and for the board to hire a superintendent who can REVERSE THE TREND. Unfortunately, parents likely didn't put that in their survey because the news of the low morale, toxic environment, dictatorship didn't come out until the night of the board meeting after the parents had completed the survey. It's not likely in there. If I could redo the survey now, I would list as my top priority a candidate who will do just what the La Entrada parent posted so clearly, bringing in new blood and not making the reclassification permanent. Or, if they really do believe that the effective ongoing administration of our district does require such a position, that the new Supervisor will have a say in who fills it on an ongoing basis. As the board has insisted, it is all about the need for an Assistant Supervisor position, not about the desire to retain any particular individual."

The priority characteristic for the new person is to seek the truth and build an executive cabinet who supports his/her vision. The new superintendent should put the best person in the job, not maintain the status quo just for the sake of it. I'm hopeful that the right thing will prevail is the process is not rigged and if the board really picks a candidate based on what the community wants. We will all be watching....

To the new superintendent who is likely rereading this after your recent hire:
The only way to know the truth is to ask. Could you please meet with teachers one on one and have an open mind to the stories that you hear? Could you please move past a "he said/she said" mentality and see your teacher and parent interviews as a necessary step for building a system that many of us feel has corruption? Could you view it as time well spent to hear us? It needs to be one on one in person and maybe for months in order to get to the real business. Enough with the anonymous surveys.... Let's break that culture and allow staff and parents to speak their truth to you, Mr./Ms. Superintendent without experiencing any retaliation regardless of how you find their story. That would be a great first step and carry LLESD a lot further than completing another form for the California Dashboard showing our low expulsion rate and attendance trend. The board will direct the new superintendent to put his/her time into what is important. So it will have a chance to reinvent itself and gain the trust of the people. Start doing the right thing and the right thing will follow, the right people will back you, the lies or "justifications" will stop. We will be back to what Senator Cummings stated about leaving our children with a democracy that is intact.

Posted by Questioning
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Mar 16, 2019 at 3:07 pm

“Budget Workshops are working sessions during which the budget for the next fiscal year is developed”.

Did anyone else notice that the February 7, 2019 Budget Study Session (10 am) was canceled?
(These are public meetings).

For the meeting calendar, link to LLESD Governing Board website...Web Link

Posted by More Questions to Consider
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 16, 2019 at 3:17 pm

Questions to Consider:

1. The Board needs to recognize that they are a part of a representative democracy, not a tyranny. They need to represent the Las Lomitas community, not the outgoing superintendent.

2. Why did the Board cancel the February 2019 budget meeting? Are they (the Board) not a public entity; therefore, when did they gain the right to cancel a meeting about how public monies are spent?

3. Can the Board start recording their meetings? Where are they posting their minutes? Let's work on transparency...first things first, fix the website, so it is more accessible.

4. Can the public start investigating whether or not we can make this "outcry" more public? Perhaps the San Jose Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle needs to know how our local School Board does not like to practice transparency? Don't let this die down because it is what this School Board is hoping you all do!

5. Is this part of a ploy to make our school undesirable to a future superintendent candidate, so that Ms. Potts, the new Assistant Superintendent, can be reclassified again?

6. Has the community asked why the School Board felt that it was necessary to give the current CBO a 5% raise? The District had no problem hiring a CBO after Ms. Chow why this necessary move? Has anyone contacted Ms. Chow, and why she left?

7. Perhaps we need to ask the School Board why the current superintendent pulls every administrator (all three from La Entrada and both from Las Lomitas) for a weekly Tuesday meeting? Did the public know that this happens every Tuesday for 3.5 hours? Not one administrator is left on campus. What if an emergency happened? And what on earth is so important to discuss every Tuesday? Hmmm.....3.5 hours times 4 = 14 hours a month. Fourteen hours? Precious hours that could be better spent with children and teachers? Do the teachers know what is being discussed at these meetings? (Short answer: NO!)

8. La Entrada and Las Lomitas are public schools, not corporations. The School Board is not the CEO, but they are supposed to be a governing board elected to be the public's voice. They do NOT work for the superintendent, and they need to be held accountable for their actions last Wednesday evening. We need to investigate this fully as a community and not let these five people come unprepared and unwilling to listen to the public. It is an outrage! In the business world, they would all be fired. I hope they are seriously considering their actions this weekend.

9. Finally, the community needs to have the School Board share the results for their Thursday, March 14 meeting from 1 to 3 p.m. with HYA, the consulting firm. With 11 candidates now applying for the position, let's make sure these Board members are listening to the public!

To the new Superintendent, we hope you know what a stellar community this is and see past this debacle of dishonesty and lack of transparency, because we welcome change. And we will welcome you! Great kids. Great teachers! Great community! Great support!

Posted by Outside Looking In
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Mar 16, 2019 at 4:34 pm

As someone who has had strong connections to LLESD in the past I am greatly saddened by what has happened to the district. What was once an example of brilliant faculty team work, administrative leadership and outstanding educational success for the students has absolutely gone down the sewer. When the previous mass exodus of teachers left a few years ago in protest of the Lisa/Shannon regime the board did not listen then and it seems that the current board is not listening now. They should be looking for ways to get rid of Shannon Potts NOT promote her ! LLESD students, teachers and community deserve better!

Posted by Depressed educator
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 16, 2019 at 6:46 pm

I would first like to thank the parents and community for their support both at the school board meeting and online. I hope that the interest in what is happening in this district that I love continues because there are other upcoming decisions that I fear will be rammed through by the current school board due to them choosing to completely believe the rhetoric coming from the current superintendent and now assistant superintendent.

One decision that is currently under consideration is the adoption of the Language Arts curriculum. According to the ed code 60002 when considering a new curriculum adoption :“Each district board shall provide for substantial teacher involvement in the selection of instructional materials and shall promote the involvement of parents and other members of the community in the selection of instructional materials.” And according to board policy 6011 - “Teachers are encouraged to use a variety of instructional strategies to accommodate the needs of beginning readers and the varying abilities of more advanced readers.”

Neither of these policies have been followed. We have been given both a reading and writing curriculum that we have been mandated to follow with fidelity. We have been told that these are non negotiable. Finally, Shannon is trying to get this adoption voted on by the school board. The majority of teachers don’t think that this program is enough and want to look at other possibilities. It definitely does not give us the room to use a variety of instructional strategies in order to meet the needs of our diverse population of learners. Also parents have not been involved at all even those I believe the materials need to be available for review according to Ed code.

Please keep the pressure on the board to allow teachers voices to be heard because the current regime is not only demoralizing teachers, it may also significantly affect the academic achievement of your children.

Posted by concerned teacher
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Mar 16, 2019 at 8:20 pm

I could not agree more with my colleague who wrote this statement.

“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’m relieved to see that I am not alone in my sentiments and experiences because honestly, we don’t even really talk about it with each other because no one knows for sure who is on Shannon’s pet list, except for the obvious ones to whom she has given new job titles etc. Note:(( The new superintendent can look at the hiring practices and when/if s/he interviews teachers, note the specific position and background of those who speak favorably about Shannon Potts. There is most definitely a pattern, it’s not random.)

About the statement from my colleague, thank you for articulating this. I want to reiterate that it feels what we are celebrating is obvious. We haven’t done anything amazing. Amazing is what Portola Valley did when they collectively reinvented their teacher evaluation system and stimulated teacher innovation. Amazing is what Woodside Elementary did when they brought World Language down to kindergarten. Amazing is what Menlo Park did when they opened an Early Learning Center and brought in Project Based Learning and multi-aged classrooms. What we have done is anything but amazing. I feel like a cookie cutter teacher in a district that lacks vision and leadership. I see that we have as much or more money as the surrounding districts, but our board doesn’t value it and lacks vision which is why they hired a superintendent who lacks vision and who promotes staff who are compliance oriented not instructional leaders. It goes back to the board. Can our new board members do what they were seated to do? Dana, there is not time to spend a year learning the ropes. The time is now. You can do this but need to listen to these blogs, try to get your colleagues on board and go. It’s OK to have dissenting votes. Even is Shannon’s position had been “reclassified”, having it done to a 3-2 vote would have felt that some of the board listened to the comments. Even if the board would have voted 3-2 to wait and vote after reading the survey feedback, we would have felt heard. But 5-0 votes, going against the voices you hear, show either cowardice (if you knew it was wrong) or incompetence (if you didn’t). Please redeem yourself by the way you direct your new employee. We stand ready to deliver and program that is truly amazing but need to be supported (not micromanaged and dictated to).

In response to my colleague Depressed Educator:
Thank you for bringing this specific example to the attention of the public. It’s board policy, as you cite and I’ve been shocked to see Shannon trying to dictate what we adopt instead of making it available to the public. It should be well publicized when and where the community can view what’s being considered. AND, as you state, the district does not only have to adopt one curriculum but can supplement if they don’t think that it’s adequate to fully cover the standards. I spoke with a second-grade teacher in MPCSD recently and she told me that her district had chosen to create their own hybrid because no particular adoption met all of the needs that the grade levels had expressed. I know that we’ve expressed those same concerns at Las Lomitas (that what’s being offered falls short of what we know we need) but since Shannon isn’t really seeking to understand what we need and believes that she knows best, we are likely to have this shoved down our throats.

There are two issues brought up here. One is that teachers are disempowered, not valued and don’t have their input sought (leading to low morale). The other issue is a lack of transparency (public not being informed that this adoption is ongoing). While I’m most affected by this disempowering of teachers, I want to tell the public that the lack of transparency is equally concerning.

I read the comment posted by Questioning “ Budget Workshops are working sessions during which the budget for the next fiscal year is developed. Did anyone else notice that the February 7, 2019 Budget Study Session (10 am) was canceled? (These are public meetings).” If this meeting was canceled, then when did the board discuss the $30,000 that was to be given for the “reclassification”? Did they discuss it in private? (not legal). Did they not discuss it before deciding? (unethical). If you, the public ask the educators, what’s been going on, we will tell you. I hope our new superintendent knows that the teachers are not perfect but we are clean and we are honest; we don’t support lack of transparency because when decisions are made in a vacuum, the students lose out due to lack of teacher or community input.

Questions to consider: PLEASE don't let these go. We are hopeful that we can work through this and go back to the sparkling place we know LLESD can be where teachers have options for how to best support their students, educators are involved in shared decision making and parents are not kept in the dark as if "they don't know anything", a direct and disparaging quote that I've heard about some parents in our district. :(

Finally, I've also heard Cesarios' line about Potts being unpopular with the teachers because she had to take a hard line. To be clear, Shannon Potts is more than "unpopular". I think many colleagues would say that they despise Shannon's leadership style and have been waiting for the day when she'd be gone, hence the outcry because we are now faced with the antithesis of her departure, her rise. Secondly, Shannon has not just taken a hard line, as all bosses need to do at times. Shannon has used retaliation, she has made teachers cry, and she has made people afraid. Find and ask anyone who has left, both non-retirees and those who retired early. They are safe to speak and can enlighten the community about what has transpired since the arrival of these administrators.

I'm hopeful that it's all coming out and that citizens are taking the time to check the board agendas, notice canceled meetings, notice the reputation of the firm that we've hired, notice the sudden change of reason (raise to retain to reclassification to be fair) mid-board meeting.

Since this entire debacle started about retaining a certain person, it's totally appropriate that we are discussing a certain person. WE DON'T WANT TO RETAIN THAT PERSON!

Posted by Deflated Educator
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 17, 2019 at 11:34 am

Thank you to my colleague for posting about the false ELA adoption process. The specific materials in question arrived more than 5 years ago as a "pilot." The pilot morphed into an implementation. Then additional materials were added. They too became an implementation. Over the years, during this fake pilot, and now non negotiable implementation, there has been no opportunity for teacher input about the materials. There has been no opportunity to talk collaboratively as to whether they meet student needs. Now Shannon is attempting to force through an adoption without a real pilot, evaluation of the materials or consideration of other options (and not just bits and pieces to fill the gaps). Recently a "survey" about the materials appeared, but we are skeptical as to who will see the results and how the information will be interpreted. The survey honestly felt like a vote and that is not how materials are adopted. Some teachers are devoted to the materials, but others have raised valid concerns about them. In the past both these views would have been shared and most likely a hybrid-solution found. Now it is Shannon's way or the highway. She and the board are aligning us to fail your children. Foundation supporters are you aware that your Fund-a-Need dollars went towards this false pilot/implementation? The funds were intended to put books in classrooms (and that is always a good thing), but only the books Shannon and adminstration approved and only books to support this false pilot/implementation.

Adminstration calls everything a pilot, but the pilots automatically become implementations. Is Shannon's reclassification a pilot too? If so, we know what the outcome will be. She will have the title and funds until her, hopefully sooner rather than later, departure.

Posted by Former Staff
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Mar 18, 2019 at 5:00 pm

How many more teachers have to leave before anyone catches on to the reason: Ms. Potts. I know we lost a few excellent teachers last year! It is very important to point out that as Director of Curriculum and Instruction Ms. Potts unilaterally chose curriculum and made us adopt them - as other teachers pointed out. So much money was wasted on these dead end programs - especially in English Language Development program, for one. Also, important to note, especially to the parents, that teachers are sent to so many meetings off site to learn about the programs that never get implemented! So, who teaches your kids? Substitute teachers, Paraeducators, other teachers who are available during their prep times! I think we may see those stellar standardized test scores start to fall when the kids aren't receiving a solid and consistent education.

Also, people, this is a 2 school district! This isn't rocket science. All this angst, in-fighting and back biting isn't surprising at a huge district like Los Angeles or Oakland - but here? In our little bubble? Let's all wake up! Perhaps a strike? (Just saying).

Remember, people rise to their level of in point.

Posted by Captain Obvious
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Mar 19, 2019 at 1:51 pm

Ha, rich people too used to having others do their work now complain when winners of uncontested elections do what they want. Too funny. maybe you all can hire someone to run for you next time.

Posted by Supporter of Teachers
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Apr 11, 2019 at 7:46 pm

Captain Obvious is ignorant. It should be obvious to him that teachers are not rich people, but public servants who devote their lives to educating our children. Why don't you spend a day in a classroom and experience what teachers do each day. You should be embarrassed and ashamed of your response. You are out of touch and should not find humor in a school district and teachers who are suffering from poor leadership. We need to support our public schools and teachers.

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