This is an excerpt of On Assignment, education writer Theresa Harrington's blog on Contra Costa County schools. Read more and post comments at IBABuzz.com/onassignment. Follow her at Twitter.com/tunedtotheresa.

Oct. 12

After widespread confusion related to Mt. Diablo Superintendent Steven Lawrence's decision to disband the Parent Advisory Council and instead hold high school "feeder pattern" meetings, which is the district's term for school boundary areas. I requested a list of meeting dates and times from him.

I also asked for a copy of the notification/request for topic suggestions that he sent to the Northgate community, since it appeared that very few parents were aware of the meeting that took place Oct. 10 in the Northgate High staff lounge.

In an e-mail, Lawrence wrote, in part:

"Requests for topics has gone through the principals. Also, the principals were asked to identify parent leaders to attend the meeting."

He advised parents interested in getting involved to contact their principals and get involved in School Site Council or PTA/PFC (Parent Faculty Club) groups.

For the Northgate meeting, he said his secretary collected the following topics before the meeting:

  • Teacher retention efforts.

  • Plans to expand classroom space at NHS.

  • Technology plan for NHS.

  • Furlough days.

  • Proposition 30 and 38.

  • Does money come back to sites for field use?

  • What can we do to get parent volunteers fingerprinted quicker?

  • Does PTA have to pay for teacher CPR training?

    In addition, he informed me that no official minutes are being taken at these meetings.

    Below is the list of meeting times and dates, along with target audiences. Lawrence said locations will be determined by principals who volunteer their sites.

    Concord High: Sept. 12, Oct. 24, Jan. 23, and April 10

    Includes: El Dorado Middle School, Westwood Elementary, Monte Gardens Elementary, El Monte Elementary, Mountain View Elementary, Wren Avenue Elementary, Sun Terrace Elementary

    College Park High: Sept. 19, Nov. 7, Jan. 30, April 17

    Includes: Valley View Middle School, Pleasant Hill Middle School, Sequoia Middle School, Hidden Valley Elementary, Valhalla Elementary, Gregory Gardens Elementary, Pleasant Hill Elementary, Sequoia Elementary

    Mt. Diablo High: Sept. 26, Nov. 14, Feb. 6, April 24

    Includes: Riverview Middle School, Rio Vista Elementary, Shore Acres Elementary, Bel Air Elementary, Delta View Elementary

    Diablo View/Pine Hollow middle schools: Oct. 3, Dec. 5, Feb. 13, May 1

    Includes: Ayers Elementary, Mt. Diablo Elementary, Highlands Elementary, Silverwood Elementary

    Northgate High: Oct. 10, Dec. 12, Feb. 20, May 8

    Includes: Foothill Middle School, Valle Verde Elementary, Walnut Acres Elementary, Bancroft Elementary

    Ygnacio Valley High: Oct. 17, Dec. 19, Feb. 27, May 15

    Includes: Oak Grove Middle School, Fair Oaks Elementary, Cambridge Elementary, Meadow Homes Elementary, Woodside Elementary, Ygnacio Valley Elementary

    Do you think all parents should be invited to these meetings?

    Reader Response (excerpted):

    G says: "The last I heard, the Mount (Diablo High) feeder pattern also included Sun Terrace, Meadow Homes, Valley View, and large sections of Wren Avenue (elementary schools), Oak Grove and El Dorado (middle schools) ... It would seem North Concord has been expatriated."

    Anon says: "Ayers announced the feeder pattern meeting in its weekly newsletter ..."

    Anon (2) says: "Interesting statement from the superintendent, since our feeder pattern meeting was held before any Site Council meeting this year. It smacks of 'cronyism' -- the same old same old that we expect from Dent (district office). PAC was open to all parents, both representatives and visitors. So the answer to your question is yes all parents should be invited, and meeting dates times and locations should be sent out and also on the district website. Go one better and notice the meetings so board members can attend."