Since its inception, public education has held out a promise of serving the good of the whole, of providing our children with the intellectual, moral and civic ethos to prosper and contribute to the future of the American dream. Many of us in this community so soundly believe in that promise, and have gone through the public school system ourselves, that we have devoted time, energy, and money to our local public schools.

Though budget cuts have nearly decimated public schools throughout California, we have stood by our public system. In the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, there has been tumultuous change and conflict over the last decade. But, many of us stood by the district as former Superintendent Gary McHenry left and a new board tried to build a new culture. We supported this district in fighting for a parcel tax, in working to pass two bonds (both Measure C) and in rallying to save athletics.

However, the newly elected school board, headed by President Cheryl Hansen, has gone too far. Members have spent nearly the entire school year working to get rid of Superintendent Steve Lawrence, distracting all of us from the real work that needs to be done. Dr. Lawrence saw us through a horrible financial crisis; he worked tirelessly on passing a bond; empowered site principals to create change on their campuses. While there was certainly room for improvement in communication, it was not the superintendent causing low morale, it was the relentless attacks by board members, and the constant fighting that discouraged this community. There were no petitions from teachers, staff, administrators or parents regarding Dr.


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Lawrence -- this was entirely a board-created issue. This board has no vision, direction or philosophy of education, other than their continuous quotations in the Times that we need new leadership.

We do need new leadership -- we need a new school board, one that will not waste time on vendettas and political grudges, but that will work to ensure each school site is a rich 21st-century learning environment. This current board, and the three members who led the campaign to remove Dr. Lawrence -- Hansen, Brian Lawrence and Barbara Oakes -- must be held accountable. They have so violated the public trust that many of us have no faith in the district. They must articulate a clear, transparent, long-term plan for this district; otherwise, how will the community support a parcel tax or any future bonds?

Organize to create a community watch organization to hold this board accountable. They can no longer blame past board members or administrators.

Monica Fitzgerald is a Northgate High parent; 15 others also signed.