Music to my ears

This week for me was so enriched by MDUSD music, including Battle of the Bands and the Northgate Jazz concert. 

Mr. Lejano is such a joyful force of nature! He is the Concord High Band Director and visionary of this event, hosted by Concord High that invites and includes bands from our area. They even combined a few bands to ensure students could participate from smaller programs. Each band cheers on the others, there’s a drum circle midway through that even the audience can join, and it culminates with a joint rendition of the song Born this Way that I cannot watch without a few tears.  This is a shining example of how music is so powerful for social emotional learning and belonging.  


Watching our various bands play always makes me so proud of our district teachers and students, and yet mindful of the opportunities that are not as plentiful at some schools in our district.  That’s why I’m so hopeful about our work on the Strategic Districtwide VAPA plan, which is something I started advocating for back before I was elected to the school board. We have a unique opportunity with Prop 28 funds to create new, more equitable structures of the arts in our schools. There were exciting big ideas at the spring & summer District VAPA planning meetings, and I look forward to this topic coming to our board very soon.

Funding for Gun Violence Prevention

Big news! This week Governor Newsom signed AB28: The Gun Violence Prevention and School Safety Act!

Thank you to all who advocated for this, especially Moms Demand Action local parent volunteers: Alex Navarro, Shannon Reif, Lisa Dell’anno, Nichole Hsu, Diana Honig, and Michelle Sinnott.

This historic legislation provides urgently needed, reliable, annual funding for vital programs including $75 million to the California Violence Intervention & Prevention (CalVIP) grant program and $50 million to Dept of Ed to fund school mental health, behavioral services, and school safety measures.

County Teacher of the Year

Congratulations to the Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year: Mr Alvarico and Ms Gonzalez-Ortega, as well as to MDUSD Finalist Danya Townsend, and all who were recognized at that inspirational evening.


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Joint MDUSD Concord mtg

This week our school board held a special joint meeting with the Concord City Council. I appreciate this opportunity to collaborate and discuss issues that affect both of our constituencies.

You can watch the video of the meeting here.

The agenda included MDUSD updates as well as the following presented by the city:

  • Report on the Concord Community Reuse Project at the Former Concord Naval Weapons Station
    • Developer was selected last week. Term sheet to be presented in November, and Specific Plan in January. It is a long term plan for over the next 30-40 years, beginning first with building a Center for First Responders and a park. 
  • Presentation on City of Concord Facilitated Traffic Safety Improvements Around School Site
    • I’m so excited to see flashing stop signs and other improvements completed and planned for this year! See locations in the report.
  • Presentation on Tobacco Regulations in Concord
    • Our MDUSD school board in January 2020 passed a resolution asking all cities to pass strong tobacco ordinances to prevent targeting of youth via flavors, vapes and low cost. The city of Concord passed their ordinance this year, which goes into effect starting in October. Use the Concord Connect App to report any illegal sales or marketing to minors.
  • Presentations on School Resource Officers (SROs)
    • Concord police proposed creating 4 new SRO positions at a cost of $280,000 each, 1 per high school.
    • At public comment, parents requested a Safe Gun Storage City Ordinance, and supported evidence based gun safety measures such as secure gun storage notices, anonymous reporting systems, trauma informed crisis intervention programs, mental health and counseling.

The city council members did not respond to the idea of a Safe Gun Storage Ordinance. Three of the city council members expressed strong support for SROs (school resource officers), saying the city would consider fully funding them. One council member shared that she heard positive comments about the prior SROs from principals and families. 

For us as a school board, this was the first time a discussion of SROs has occurred since we removed them from our budget in 2020. I expressed that I do not support spending any school district funds on police, because I don't feel that is a school district's role, and because it would take away dollars from an already underfunded education system. 

I also believe that we need to follow evidence based strategies, which I’ve been advocating for for years by sharing this fact sheet on research based approaches to create safer schoolsOur district has made progress on these approaches during my tenure by:

  • notifying families regularly about secure firearms storage including Be SMART 
  • investing in the Sandy Hook Say Something Anonymous Reporting System (currently training staff and soon to be rolled out to students and families at every middle and high school)
  • Creating and supporting Wellness Centers at high schools and middle schools
  • Partnering with organizations that bring cultural relevance and a presence at our school sites to help build stronger relationships with students and families (e.g. Family Purpose, My Other Brother)
  • Helping students learn to regulate emotions (e.g. A Mindful Life Project)
  • Embedding social emotional learning strategies into classroom practices
  • Implementing facility security enhancements (e.g. door locks, fencing)
  • Training school staff on how to respond to an active shooter and clarifying site protocol for a variety of emergency scenarios

Approval of Concord High Mascot Change

At our August 16th board meeting, we voted 4-1 to approve the proposal to change the Concord High mascot to the Bears. With the amount of gun violence nationwide in schools and communities, the male minuteman soldier holding a rifle was a symbol that many expressed discomfort with. I am proud that we voted to support the student & staff goal of a more welcoming, inclusive mascot that all could rally around for years to come. 

Superintendent Report on School Opening

At last week's school board meeting, Dr. Clark gave a detailed report about the opening of school. His report begins at the 23 minute mark in the video clip here

It’s wonderful to see all the photos of how creative our teachers and staff are in creating welcoming, engaging spaces, and of student smiles that first week of school. The MDUSD human resources team worked tirelessly to fill as many vacancies as possible, recruiting teachers and staff with outreach far and wide.  I’m so thankful how people throughout our district really pulled together to ensure a smooth and positive start to the school year. 

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Welcome Back to School 2023

Welcome back to school. I hope you had a rejuvenating summer!  I was out of town for much of it, including an educational trip to Israel & Palestine (see my reflection & photos here) and volunteer staffing a girl scout camp in the mountains. It was an adjustment for me to get used to being away from my cell phone, and a needed respite. Our family also hosted students who were visiting here from Japan, which was a heartwarming cultural experience.

For those of you who don’t receive the ParentSquare messages within the district, here are highlights of the last school year: MDUSD Year in Review 

And remember you can always read the weekly Friday letters, see Superintendent Goals, and more at

If you’re on social media, please follow and share our school district news in your community: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Next School Board meeting Aug 16th

The next school board meeting is tomorrow night, Wednesday, August 16, 2023. We welcome your input via email or in person! See details at 

The agenda includes: 

  • Revisions to the LCAP (Local Control Accountability Plan)

  • Consideration of the change of mascot proposed by Concord High

  • Review/Approval of textbook for new Financial Algebra course

  • Review/Approval of Tentative Agreement for a 3 year contract with Teamsters Local 856

And more. See the full agenda and how to participate here.

First Day of School

On Thursday after dropping off my high schooler, I visited new Principals in my trustee area to wish them a happy first day of school. This beautiful art piece at Mt Diablo Elementary conveyed what I saw out at our schools, smiling students coming together in a warm and welcoming environment!

Here you can read bios of each of these new principals:

Ava Sudduth SummerBridge Academy

Another highlight of the summer was the Ava Sudduth Academy, where Dr. Lamont Francies brought incoming 6th grade focal scholars to Riverview Middle School for a 2 week summerbridge orientation, academic support, and enrichment to bolster their readiness for success.

Community partners such as Village Keepers and AKA Sorority contributed food, resources and volunteers. Young Audiences of Northern CA and the Mt Diablo Education Foundation provided an awesome body percussion class there, taught by the amazing Antwan Davis. Antwan has performed all over the world, including in the Broadway show STOMP!  I reveled in the chance to stop by and join in his class.  

It is by strategically investing in positive, culturally responsive pedagogy and building up tight knit communities like these, that we will begin to break down long standing inequities in our public schools. We are deeply grateful to all who lead this work with hope and determination.

Successful Districtwide Parent Conference

It was a joyful reunion to run into so many parents, students and staff at the Parent Conference last Saturday. I was impressed with the wide variety of workshops in English, Spanish and Dari; the room full of free backpacks, books and school supplies; and the gym full of community organizations sharing their information. Not to mention a tasty lunch for all.  Thank you to our Mt Diablo Adult school for organizing and hosting!



Happy First Week of School, from our family to yours!


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Happy Graduations

Congratulations to all graduates of MDUSD schools!  What a joyous time it’s been to see you walk across the stage, into the next phase of your lives. I was honored to represent our school board in accepting the graduating class at the Northgate High school ceremony. It was extra emotional for me since I've known many of those students since elementary school, and am so proud of how far they've come!

Thanks to the City of Concord for posting videos of commencement ceremonies here.

And to the City of Walnut Creek for posting the video of Northgate Commencement here

Plus many of our schools were included in this Concord Clayton Pioneer graduation article.

See (and please share) detailed news on graduations and many other celebrations and awards in the June 2nd district Friday letter here.

Next School Board meeting June 14th

The next school board meeting is tomorrow night, Wednesday, June 14, 2023. We welcome your input via email or in person! See details at 

The agenda includes public hearings on 

  • the LCAP (Local Control Accountability Plan),
  • the Proposed Budget for 2023-24,
  • The SELPA (Special Education Local Plan Area)

A final version of all of these will then be voted on at the June 28th school board meeting.

We will also be voting on appointments to many principal and vice principal positions, as well as hearing reports on the district plan for Foundational Literacy, what it takes to consider a Parcel Tax, and revisions to the 10 year Technology Plan.

I’m looking forward to hearing the Annual Report and Literacy Action Plan from the Bel Air Elementary School Early Literacy Support Block Grant as well. 

And many more. See the full agenda and how to participate here.

Give your input on LCAP

The draft LCAP (Local Control Accountability Plan) is available here for all to read, along with an online survey in English and Spanish where you can provide your ideas. There is also a public hearing during this week’s board meeting on June 14th, where any member of the public can come to speak in person. Please read and share! All input welcome. 

Budget Hearing 

Item 18.2 on our June 14th board agenda is a Public Hearing on our Proposed budget for 2023-24. Your input and questions are welcome, by emailing [email protected] or coming in person to speak! 

Free Summer Meals

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District's Food and Nutrition Services Department will provide free community meals including breakfast and lunch for children 18 years and younger at 19 District Sites in Bay Point, Concord, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill and at the Concord Library during portions of the summer. The list of times, dates and sites is HERE.

No identification is required and each child can receive one portion per meal per day, which must be consumed on-site. Breakfast will be served from 8:40-9:10 a.m. and lunch will be available from 12:10-12:40 p.m.

Coming up


The Concord Communities Alliance in partnership with several other community organizations is organizing a Juneteenth celebration to be held from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, June 25th at Todos Santos Plaza in Concord.

Called "Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future," the event will include music, speakers, vendors, food, and crafts. 

Save the date!

MDUSD parents are invited to attend a free Parent Conference from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, August 12th at the Loma Vista Adult Center, 1266 San Carlos Ave. in Concord.

The event will feature a keynote by Dr. Lettie Ramirez, author of "You Are Not Alone: Recipes to Obtain Success by Parents for Parents." 

It will also include workshops in English and Spanish, community resources, free lunches for registered adults and kids, free backpacks and school supplies, and childcare. 


And I'll end this blog with love:

Community PRIDE

What a joy it was to organize school board members from around our county to show our support for youth in the Clayton PRIDE parade together.

Thanks to the Clayton PRIDE committee for creating this growing family event for our region to express love & inclusion to all in the LGBTQIA+ community.  Thanks to each of our schools and each city that is flying the rainbow flag and organizing events during the month of June to share resources and support.




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