CONCORD -- The Mt. Diablo school board approved contract extensions for five top administrators Monday, but the trustees' 3-2 votes for the superintendent and general counsel's contracts was a clear display of discontent.
Board President Cheryl Hansen said she did not think Superintendent Steven Lawrence and General Counsel Greg Rolen are serving the district's best interests.
"We need to get a superintendent with vision," Hansen said. "One who can inspire others, who builds trust, is a team-builder, builds morale and most importantly, is passionate about his job and the people he serves."
When considering Rolen's contract, she said scandals and negativity have increased during her tenure on the board. "I don't think our general counsel serves us in terms of transparency and being productive and effective," Hansen said.
Board Vice President Barbara Oaks also voted against the superintendent and general counsel contracts Monday night, but did not comment. Trustees Linda Mayo and Brian Lawrence, however, said they believed the board was legally obligated to approve the contracts, since the previous board had first voted in April 2012 to approve extensions through June 2014. Errors in procedure and accusations by the public that the board had violated state open meeting laws led the district to revote to approve the contracts.
"I want to express my concern that a ministerial action has been used to create a fire storm of controversy," Mayo said. "In the meantime, these employees have carried out their duties."
The board unanimously approved contract extensions for Chief Financial Officer Bryan Richards and assistant superintendents Julie Braun-Martin and Rose Lock.
Several district residents also spoke out about the contract extensions, with some vigorously defending the administrators, and others calling for the removal of the superintendent and general counsel. Resident John Parker warned the board against voting down the contracts, saying they appeared to be legally binding.
"I caution you that it seems to me that there's a movement here to replace two of these administrators -- at least I think that's where you're going," he said. "I promise you there will be legal action against this district and you'll probably lose. Please don't spend my money that way. I think there's another way to do it."
Trustees held a brief closed session at the end of the meeting, then Hansen announced the board would meet for about two hours Wednesday in another closed session to consider employee discipline, dismissal or release. According to the agenda, two unnamed employees will be discussed.
The Mt. Diablo school board has scheduled a closed session meeting at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday to consider and vote on the dismissal of two employees. The public can comment before the meeting at district headquarters, 1936 Carlotta Dr., Concord. More information is available by calling 925-682-8000 ext. 4000 or by visiting http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us. Click on March 27.
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