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November 1, 2019 - Friday Letter Volume 1, No 11. - Superintendent Robert A. Martinez
Posted 11/1/19

Friday Letter



#TogetherWeGrow. . . #JuntosAprendemos…#TogetherWeLead. . .




Responses to Emergency Events:

Some individuals have indicated that they believe our decision to remain open during the recent fires, poor air quality days, and power outages are specifically related to money that the District receives on a daily basis. To be clear, the decision to keep a facility open in times of crisis or events directly out of our control, are made with the safety and security for all of our children in mind. While some might believe that we should never operate a school on any day with adverse air conditions, high winds, fires in parts of California, or power, our process will be to attempt to keep schools open for children as long as we can do so in a safe, orderly fashion that provides the intended safe and secure environment for them.


Unfortunately, the best conceived plans can sometimes not be enough to maintain a safe and secure environment for everyone involved: students, employees, and even the public; and if that circumstance outweighs our intent to provide a safe and secure campus, we may need to close a facility, or keep a facility closed, until we can safely re-open.


Over this last month we have had several schools remain open without power. We worked to maintain those schools in a safe and secure manner, worked through logistics of providing food to students at those campuses, which was approved by the County Health Inspector, and maintained security at these campuses for our children. In contrast, we had two situations where we worked to keep schools open, when we should have changed direction sooner and facilitated either the cancelling of school, or made a better decision that would not have placed students in situations that were not the best.


During this last month we had a water main burst at Oak Grove Middle School, and while we anticipated that support services would be on the way, including porta-potties and hand washing stations, they did not arrive at the campus for far too long, creating a difficult set of circumstances for everyone involved. This week, rather than closing Northgate High School we attempted to start school in the morning only to more fully realize as the morning proceeded the difficulties with maintaining this particular campus during an extended power outage. While I cannot change the past, I am sorry for the events that unfolded at both of these schools and will work to improve our decisions, actions, processes and protocols with respect to responding to these types of events that are thrust upon us in the future.


Governing Board Meeting, October 28, 2019:

At the Governing Board meeting held on October 28, 2019, the Governing Board approved a resolution calling for a transition to Trustee Areas for the November 2020 election cycle. The Board members selected the “Purple-A” map and indicated that new Trustee Areas, Numbers 3 and 5, would be the first areas to be elected in 2020. To be clear, all elected members of the Governing Board, whether they continue to be from “At-Large” elected areas or by “Trustee Areas” will continue to hold the responsibility of governance for the entire District. More information about this process can be found on the District’s website.


State Mediation Between Mt. Diablo Unified School District and Mt. Diablo Education Association:

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) and the Mt. Diablo Education Association (MDEA) continued their work with the state appointed mediator on Tuesday, October 29, 2019. This is the third time that the parties have met in mediation. Out of respect to the process, and based upon a request of the state mediator, neither of the parties are at liberty to share the specifics of their work; however I can tell you that I was in communication with the District late into the evening on Tuesday, and I understand that the teams are continuing to actively engage in the process. The teams are expected to meet again mid-November to continue their work.


Visit to Riverview Middle School:

On Wednesday, October 30, 2019, I enjoyed an exceptional visit to Riverview Middle School. I was able to spend a considerable amount of time with Principal Eric Wood as we toured this facility, and met and discussed issues with employees. This school has so much to offer the community of students, their families, and the broader community in the form of engagement, academic rigor, support services, and a dedicated staff. It was not uncommon for Principal Wood to tell me of another staff member who has been at the site for over 20 to 25 years. What a great testament to the commitment to a community! I know that the school has undergone many transitions over the years, and as we work toward enhancing supports to the children of the community, we must work together to build sustainable changes that everyone can support. I will continue to connect with Principal Wood and work with our Cabinet team members and educators of the site to further support this school.


Riverview VisitRiverview VisitRiverview Visit


Chatting with Community Liaisons at Oak Grove Middle School:

Also on Wednesday, October 30, 2019, I was fortunate to meet with a number of our MDUSD Community Liaisons from across the District. After sharing a little of my personal history as a student, I expressed my sincere appreciation for the work that they do on a daily basis on behalf of students and their families. I also shared with them that my mom was one of the first “Bilingual Home Liaison Aides” in the Baldwin Park Unified School District. I could remember my mom driving around our little town, knocking on doors, and helping families to become more comfortable coming to the elementary schools to participate. I greatly appreciate the work that they do on a daily basis to connect our students and their families to our schools.

OGMS VisitOGMS VisitOGMS Visit




Adults Like a Little Halloween Fun Too:

On Thursday, October 31, 2019, “Halloween:”  While many of our school sites were engaged in festivities on their campuses, a few folks were a little worried when I “disappeared” for a brief period and a guy who looked eerily like “Elvis” showed up in my office, but apparently adults like a little Halloween fun too!  Many of the Dent Center employees engaged in what I’m told is a bit of a tradition on this day during their lunch hour and enjoyed the company of each other, some great potluck food, and a few musical selections by “Elvis!”


Halloween at DentHalloween at DentHalloween at DentHalloween at DentHalloween at Dent


Wonderful Visit to Sequoia Middle School:

This morning, Friday, November 1, 2019, I was able to visit Sequoia Middle School to participate in “Tea with Honey.” This is an opportunity for Principal Kevin Honey to meet and discuss updates, information, and ideas with parents of the school. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet these parents, share with them a little about myself, my philosophy on education, the work we are doing in MDUSD, and my “Educator’s Challenge” for the 2019-2020 school year. I am sharing this with you all as well:

Sequoia MS VisitSequoia MS VisitSequoia MS VisitSequoia MS Visit
Sequoia MS Visit


Recipe for Resilience: The 6th Ingredient!

Responsibility + Relationships + Respect + resolve + Relevance + Rigor for life + Resourcefulness = Resilience


Rigor for Life:   When we plan activities for students, employees, and our community to be engaged in that are intellectually stimulating, creative, open-ended, where depth of knowledge and learning of new skills is of paramount importance, and where everyone is provided support to engage and demonstrate their personal effort toward achievable goals, there is rigor in the system!




Several Activities in My Calendar This Week



October 28

Visited Northgate High School

Held Emergency Meeting with Cabinet Members

Joined a Phone Conference with Contra Costa County Superintendent Lynn Mackey and other County Superintendents regarding the PG&E “Public Safety Power Shutdown” (PSPS)

Attended the MDUSD Governing Board Meeting


October 29

Met with the District Negotiation Team at the California Teachers Association Offices

Held a scheduled Cabinet Members Meeting

Held an Executive Cabinet Meeting

Met with District Legal Counsel Larry Schoenke

Met with Michael Jimenez, Assistant Superintendent, High Schools


October 30

Met with Governing Board Member Debra Mason

Visited Riverview Middle School and met with Principal Eric Wood

Attended the Community Liaisons’ Monthly Meeting – Oak Grove Middle School

Held a Bi-Weekly MDEA Meeting with Dan Reynolds, CTA Labor Representative

Met with Lisa Murphy-Oates, Executive Director of Human Resources


October 31

Meeting with John Yeh, District Legal Counsel, via Phone Conference

Attended the Dent Center Halloween Lunch Extravaganza at the Dent Center (as Elvis, just in case you didn’t know that was me in the pictures)

Attended the Shadelands Halloween Parade

Met with Jose Espinoza, Assistant Superintendent, Elementary Schools


November 1

Attended “Tea with Honey” – Sequoia Middle School

Met with two Parents from College Park High School

Met with J.G. Larochette, Mindful Life Project, and Lillian Roselin, John Muir Community Health Fund