Clayton Valley Charter High School

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The History of CVCHS

     The idea for a charter conversion began with a discussion at a CVHS Staff Senate meeting in October 2010. While the discussion was intense and filled with great possibilities, the idea was lost in the shuffle of everyday job duties, with more students than ever to teach, meetings to attend, and extra work to take on. While this may have sounded like a typical school year, it was apparent that lowered standards of student behavior, lack of administrative and district support, the future outlook of lost jobs, more crowded classrooms, and less pay had taken its toll on many teachers and staff.
 
     Add one more disturbing phenomena to this scenario and it's no wonder people were discouraged: Clayton Valley High School is experiencing a brain drain. The top middle school students and their families are more and more choosing to go to private high schools rather than get what they perceive to be a subpar education at an unclean, unsafe neighborhood campus.
 
     Following the staff senate meeting, a small group of teachers began exploring in earnest the possibilities of a charter conversion. In April, 2011, a series of informal meetings were held at CVHS with teachers, staff and the community to present the results of their research. Preliminary ideas for a charter conversion were discussed, surveys of interest were also taken to solicit input and to gauge support for the charter. From there, things proceeded rapidly.
 
April 18, 2011: A jammed-pack community meeting is held at the City of Clayton library where the charter proponents make a PowerPoint presentation and answer questions from the audience.
 
May 9: A draft of the charter petition is released for input.
 
May 16: Representatives of the California Charter Schools Association, ExED, and the charter attorneys meet with teachers and staff to discuss the draft petition.
 
June 2: The final petition is posted for teachers to review and sign. While the signatures of only 50 percent of the permanent teachers plus one is needed for the petition to be submitted to the school district, more than 80 percent sign on.
 
June 9: The petition is submitted to the district.
 
June 22: The MDUSD announces it will hold a public hearing on the charter on August 9 and then render a final decision on September 13.
 
July 21: The charter organizers hold another community meeting at the Clayton Library, make a second PowerPoint presentation and answer questions from the community.
 
August 9: The MDUSD board of trustees holds its first public hearing on the charter petition.
 
August 11: The charter effort is endorsed by Congressman George Miller.
 
September 1: In accordance with the charter bylaws, and after receiving candidate applications, an election for the initial governing board is held. Teachers Pat Middendorf and Neil McChesney, parents Alison Bacigalupo and Megan Kommer, and classified staff member Diane Bailey are elected to the governing board. Retired teacher Dick Ellis, and community members Ted Meriam and Kevin King are then later appointed by the elected governing board members in accordance with the charter provisions.
 
September 13: The MDUSD board of trustees vote unanimously to approve the charter with conditions. The approval will be rescinded if the conditions are not met by February 2, 2012.
 
September 22: Charter supporters hold a rally at Clayton Valley High School and announce their intention to submit the conditions to the board in time to be considered at the board’s October 25 meeting.
 
October 7: The MDUSD releases a “news update” focusing on what the superintendent believes will be the financial impact to the district if Clayton Valley High School is converted to a charter. The charter steering committee responds the following day.
 
October 11: The MDUSD board votes 2-2 with trustee Eberhart absent to rescind its September 13 decision and approve the charter without conditions. Without a majority vote in favor, the motion fails. Trustee Hansen requests that another vote to approve the charter petition without conditions be placed on the October 25 agenda. The matter is not placed on the October 25 agenda, however.
 
November 8: The MDUSD trustees vote 2-3 to deny the charter petition without conditions. The trustees then vote 4-1 to deny the petition on the basis that the original conditions imposed on the charter approval were not met.
 
November 15: An 894-page appeal was filed with the Contra Costa County Board of Education. By law, the county has thirty days to hold a public hearing and sixty days to make a final decision.
 
December 7: The initial public hearing on the appeal to the county board of education was held at Pleasant Hill Elementary School. Approximately forty speakers testified both for and against the petition. The minutes of that meeting can be found here.
 
January 11, 2012: The Contra Costa County Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the charter with several conditions to be incorporated into a Memorandum of Understanding and completed by March 1. The minutes of that meeting can be found here. Two additional conditions were incorporated into the MOU on February 15.
 
March 7, 2012: The Contra Costa County Board of Education certified that the conditions imposed on January 11 and in the subsequent Memorandum of Understanding were met by the March 1 deadline.