The Mt. Diablo school board on Tuesday night rejected a trustee's effort to make it easier for Clayton Valley High to convert to a charter school.

The board voted down a motion by trustee Cheryl Hansen, who wanted fellow panelists to rescind their earlier vote that asked charter supporters to meet more than 50 specific conditions by Feb. 1 before the school could be converted.

The vote was 2-2; Hansen and Lynne Dennler voted in favor, and Linda Mayo and Sherry Whitmarsh voted against the motion. Trustee Gary Eberhart was absent.

Hansen spoke at length about why she changed her mind after the board voted unanimously Sept. 13 to approve the charter with conditions.

Charter supporters, a large percentage of the school's faculty among them, must meet 56 conditions before February, including providing a detailed grading system, a master schedule and exact staffing needs. Hansen characterized the requirements as too onerous.

"We're asking for things that are arbitrary and unrealistic that we don't hold other schools to," she said. "Have we shown them where the bar is?"

Hansen was backed by about 25 speakers who questioned whether other trustees were being open-minded about the charter petition.

Neil McChesney, one of the lead petitioners, urged the board to approve or deny the petition at its Oct. 25 meeting so that the school could meet funding deadlines in time to open next fall.


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"Do your job and approve our petition, or deny it so we can move on," he said.

Clayton Councilman Joe Medrano said the conditions are too stringent and urged the board to amend them.

Mayo cited the financial effect of allowing the charter to go ahead without an adequate review process, even though a loss of revenues cannot be used as a basis for denying a charter.

"We have a fiduciary responsibility to reduce the impact," she said.

Superintendent Steven Lawrence said Friday that the board would need to cut $2.4 million from its 2012-13 budget if the charter is approved, a statement that was widely criticized by speakers at the meeting.

Lawrence went on to say that teachers at Clayton Valley who did not want to be part of the charter could bump teachers with less seniority at other schools, causing more layoffs in the district.

After the vote, Hansen submitted an action item for the Oct. 25 meeting to amend the 56 conditions for approval.

Contact Rick Radin at 925-779-7166.