Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Challenge We Face

Exerpt from The Green Schools Handbook:

Most environmental health experts agree that
schools across the United States have serious
environmental problems they are ill-equipped or
financially unable to deal with. Here’s what the
California Department of Health Services
says about environmental quality in California’s

“Children have little or no control over their
environment while at school. In California, no 
agency or group has central authority as a 
watchdog for children in their school 
environment. There are no right-to-know
provisions in the law for parents or students
pertaining to hazardous conditions which may
exist in schools. While there are laws that 
regulate health and safety of schools as 
workplaces for teachers and staff, these do not 
directly apply to the students in the same 
buildings. Nonetheless, worker standards are
not appropriate to children, as they are
generally more susceptible to environmental
hazards than adults.”
“Poor school indoor environmental quality (IEQ)
can cause both short-term (reversible) and
long-term (chronic) effects in students and staff.
Overcrowded, poorly ventilated classrooms
contribute substantially to the spread of
infections diseases, such as colds and
influenza. Poorly maintained carpets, dirty air
ducts, and water damaged materials are prime
breeding grounds for a plethora of substances
that can trigger asthma attacks, sensitize
allergy-prone children, and cause sinus and
respiratory infections.”

“Responses of local school officials to IEQ
problems tend to be unstructured and ad hoc.
They are generally struggling within budgetary 
shortfalls to maintain educational programs, 
and IEQ complaints are often not considered to 
be serious or important. School administrators

may not have on-site expertise to address IEQ
problems and maintenance staffs are often ill
equipped to manage these additional duties.
There are relatively few school districts that 
have the resources to provide appropriate 
training for their staff in technical skills 
necessary for them to properly identify, 
evaluate, monitor or remediate IEQ concerns.”

The Green Schools Handbook
How to Protect Children in the Classroom and
Create Toxic-Free Environments

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas from Sacred School Grounds

Sacred School Grounds
Established April 2012

Promoting Safe and Healthy Schools 
Through Parent Advocacy and 
Community Awareness
Sacred School Grounds

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Need for an Accurate Record

"Children are one third of our population and all of our future"

First Posted Jan. 2013

In an effort to better protect and serve the students, teachers, and support staff of CUSD, I am asking for assistance (information) from the Calaveras educational community. For many years it has been to the benefit of Calaveras Unified not to keep records or track information on critical health, maintenance, and management issues as they have occurred on school sites and campuses. By not keeping a record there is no history to refer to, no visible pattern or exposure of poor behavior or neglectful decisions. When there is no history to refer to, classrooms closed for mold (and repaired for mold) didn't actually happen; the classrooms were just randomly repaired and reopened for no apparent reason. Furthermore, there is no record (or evidence) of staff or students ever becoming ill while in the “randomly repaired” classrooms. Records matter. Records keep us from repeating poor decisions. When there is no history to refer to, complaints of neglectful administrative behavior go undocumented and unresolved; leaving no visible pattern (or history) of unprofessional behavior to correct or refer to. 

A record (as accurate as possible) needs to be generated in order to better serve and protect the current CUSD students and staff.


If you have questions, concerns, information, or documentation that you would like to share, discuss, or add to the written record, I can be contacted by email at:

--Allen Lujan

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Adding to The Written Record

Written Record - a written document preserving knowledge of facts or events

Paper Trail - the written evidence of someone's activities; "this paper trail consisted mainly of electronically stored information"

Casebook - a book in which detailed written records of a case are kept and which are a source of information for subsequent work

Chronology - a record of events in the order of their occurrence

Entry - an item inserted in a written record

Log - a written record of messages sent or received; "they kept a log of all transmission by the radio station"; "an email log"

Note - a brief written record; "he made a note of the appointment"

CopyTranscript - a reproduction of a written record (e.g. of a legal or school record)

Registry - an official written record of names or events or transactions

MinutesTransactionsProceedings - a written account of what transpired at a meeting

Minute Book - a book in which minutes have been written

Statute Book - a record of the whole body of legislation in a given jurisdiction

Worksheet - a piece of paper recording work planned or done on a project

If you have information or documentation that you would like to add 
to the written record, I can be contacted at:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Portable Classrooms and Health Risks: Identify & Prioritize


Indoor Air Quality Evaluation
School District
Southern California

Iris Environmental has been providing support to a major southern California School District to evaluate indoor air quality impacts surrounding the use of portable classrooms. The project has included designing a statistically based air-monitoring program to determine the levels of chemicals and molds that may be attributable to the portable classrooms. Working closely with members of a Technical Working Group, we developed indoor air health standards to identify and prioritize those portable classrooms that pose the greatest risk to the health of students and teachers. All targeted portable classrooms are currently the subject of additional evaluation

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dedication & Garden Beauty: Valley Springs Elementary

Evidence of dedication and hard work is easily seen at 
Valley Springs Elementary School's garden project.

Green, lush, and colorful, not even extreme Summer heat seems to discourage this garden's ability to flourish!
VSE: July 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

7 Steps to a Healthier School

                               Step 1 (Identify Health Risks)

                                   Step 2 (Begin Demolition)

                                      Step 3 (Remove Rubble)

                                                  Step 4 (Prepare Ground)

                                        Step 5 (Plant Seeds)

                                                Step 6 (Care and Cultivate)

                                Step 7 (Celebrate the Harvest)

Benefit to the School 
and to Your Child's Health?

                                                         Food for Thought

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Students Above All

Sacred School Grounds 

Service to Students
Service to Teachers
Service to Families
Service to Schools
Service to Community

Healthy and Engaged Students attending Healthy and Safe Schools = 
Academic Success

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Lights are on, but Nobody's . . . at School

Just a quick message (or alert) to let the Calaveras educational community know (or be aware) that on Thursday 7/18 and Friday 7/19 parking lot lights (and a large number of exterior facility lights) were on during daylight hours at 3 CUSD campuses. 

The odd thing is, except for a few dedicated teachers, CUSD school sites are primarily empty; the 2013-2014 school year is due to start up again July 29th.

I am not sure at what time during the day (or afternoon) these lights initially came on; I first noticed parking lot lights on (and shining bright) at 5:30pm. Currently, however, it doesn't get dark (or dusk) until 8:30pm or 8:45pm. This appears to be a major opportunity for energy conservation.

Calaveras High School:

Lower Student Parking Lot

Toyon Middle School:

Bus loop parking lot

Parking lot in front of office

Classroom exterior lights (new building)

Jenny Lind Elementary School:

Upper and lower parking lots

The hope (or idea) is to bring sufficient attention to this issue so adjustments can be made (by CUSD) to keep the cost of maintaining the district to a minimum. As these are economically difficult times (as discussed in the most recent board meeting) I'm sure the tax paying citizens of Calaveras County would greatly appreciate any adjustments and/or conservation efforts put forth in this area by the district.

In your everyday travels (as a parent, citizen, or student) if you happen to discover or find ways that CUSD might improve in their efforts or abilities to conserve energy ... please let us know:
Call--(209) 765-3613

We will make every effort to contact or notify the school district as soon as possible.

CUSD District Office
P.O. Box 788 - 3304 Highway 12
San Andreas CA 95249 209-754-2300

CUSD Maintenance and Operations: 209-754-2334

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Out of Order

There are some areas within Calaveras Unified 
(our local school district) 
that could (and should) be tagged--
Sometimes you just know
(or have a sense) that things 
are not right. 
TMS Basketball Court

TMS: Open Boxcar with Deteriorating Gym Mats

CHS: (FFA) Weeds, Deteriorating Green House

CHS: Tennis Courts

JLE: Floating Reed Island in Waste Water Pond

TMS: Aged Food Service Trailer

TMS: Food Service Trailer Window

TMS: Water Tank (Inoperable Water Gauge)

TMS Gym: Cliff Swallow Nest
TMS Gym--Cliff Swallow Excrement

Valley Springs Elementary: Boarded Window

JLE: 26 year-old Portable Classrooms (with original carpeting--except #51)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Does it have to be this way?

Does it have to be this way? Does a billboard advertising alcohol have to be at the gateway to our town and community? Do we (as citizens of the community) have to stand by and allow a beer sign to represent and define us?

This billboard sign is about 150 yards from the local elementary school--Valley Springs Elementary. Calaveras Unified school buses pass by Monday through Friday.

 Would it be possible for a group of citizens to purchase the contract for this billboard sign ... and thereby change the face (or the gateway) to our community?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Request for Dignity

First Posted May 2013
I recently saw this sign posted inside an elevator at a major medical center. It makes sense; common sense.

I immediately thought about the Special Education students that spend the bulk of their day in the "Learning Center" at Jenny Lind Elementary School. The portables that make up the “Learning Center" on the JLE campus are 25 years old with original carpeting (portable classrooms 61, 62, & 63). Special Education students have their own set of challenges--like compromised immune systems--and should not spend hours, days, and years in aged portable classrooms.

Perhaps this sign (requesting dignified behavior and common courtsey) should be posted on all the aged portables at JLE? 

Embracing the fullness of the posted message would be to remove all Special Education students from outdated portables.

Standing up for these students would be to NOT allow them (the compromised students) to occupy aged portables that have  inadequate HVAC systems and 25 year old carpeting--and no maintenance records.

On the JLE campus there are non-portable classrooms available.  Challenged students should not be put into environments that further compromise their ability to learn, grow, and thrive.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Where Did the Annuity Money Go?

Perhaps Calaveras Unified thought we'd forget about those annuities? 

Well, we didn't ...

Flashback 2010:

Board Chairwoman Evan Garamendi is calling for termination of the program, which buys annuities for qualifying district managers. Yet after an hour of discussion, only one other trustee had expressed lukewarm support for ending the practice.
Garamendi, who formerly worked as a teacher, said she opposes providing top district staff an extra benefit when other people are being laid off.
"With all the budget cuts we are talking, we have to take a look at this," Garamendi said.
Thirty district employees, generally school principals and central office administrators, are eligible for the annuity program. Those with at least 10 years in management or confidential positions get an annuity income equal to 2 percent of their final year of salary multiplied by their years of service up to 16 years.
That means those who qualify for the benefit could receive an income for life of up to 32 percent of their final year's salary.
The district purchases the annuity or allows the employee to cash out with a lump-sum payment at retirement. That means that rather than putting aside money for the program each year, the district simply dips into the general fund to pay the cost at the time of eligible retirements.
In the fiscal year that ended June 30, the district spent $68,000 to provide the annuities to three confidential or management employees who retired, Garamendi said.
Superintendent Mark Campbell said it is impossible to know when eligible employees will retire. But he estimated five or six might retire in the next five years, which might cost the district about $25,000 a year on average.
Trustee Hank Nagle also expressed support for eliminating the benefit. "Maybe we should at least put a suspension on it," Nagle said.
In addition to considering the dollar cost of the benefit, trustees indicated they are also weighing whether it is fair - both to staffers who don't get it and to the top administrators.
Trustee John Yerman seemed sympathetic to the idea that administrators merit the benefit because they have a higher level of responsibility, including being on call 24 hours a day in the event of emergencies.
"You're talking about responsibilities for a lot of kids and employees," Yerman said.
Meanwhile, district officials are seeking to negotiate concessions from employee unions, including furlough days. The perception that managers get something extra is already disrupting relations between the district and one union.
California School Employees Association Chapter 405 filed a grievance Tuesday against the district, calling on officials to provide the same annuity benefit to union members.
Terri Henderson, vice president of Chapter 405, noted that the annuity comes on top of the California Public Employees Retirement System pension available to all qualifying district employees.
"They already have that system," Henderson said of administrators.
Contact reporter Dana M. Nichols at (209) 607-1361 Visit his blog at


Record Staff Writer
September 09, 2010 12:00 AM

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Superintendent Governance Standards

CSBA Professional Governance Standards
Superintendent Governance Standards

As a corollary to the CSBA Professional Governance Standards, a team of California superintendents including the ACSA Superintendents Committee and the CSBA Superintendents Advisory Council has developed a set of Superintendent Governance Standards. We highly recommend that these be included as part of the Professional Governance Standards adoption.

The Superintendent:

Promotes the success of all students and supports the efforts of the Board of Trustees to keep the district focused on learning and achievement.
Values, advocates and supports public education and all stakeholders.
Recognizes and respects the differences of perspective and style on the Board
and among staff, students, parents and the community—and ensures that the
diverse range of  views inform board decisions.
Acts with dignity, treats everyone with civility and respect, and understands the
implications of  demeanor and behavior.
Serves as a model for the value of lifelong learning and supports the Board’s
continuous professional development.
Works with the Board as a “governance team” and assures collective
responsibility for building a unity of  purpose, communicating a common vision
and creating a positive organizational culture.
Recognizes that the board/superintendent governance relationship is supported
by the management team in each district.
Understands the distinctions between board and staff roles, and respects the role
of  the Board as the representative of  the community.
Understands that authority rests with the Board as a whole; provides guidance
to the Board to assist in decision-making; and provides leadership based on the
direction of  the Board as a whole.
Communicates openly with trust and integrity including providing all members
of the Board with equal access to information, and recognizing the importance
of  both responsive and anticipatory communications.
Accepts leadership responsibility and accountability for implementing the
vision, goals and policies of  the district.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Due March 1st--Comprehensive School Safety Plan

Comprehensive School Safety Plan 

The Comprehensive School Safety Plan (CSSP) is required by Education Code 32282-32289 to be reviewed and updated by March 1 annually and subsequently submitted for approval to the School Site County (or School Safety Planning Committee) as well as to the district’s governing board or county office of education. The contents of the CSSP should include at a minimum, information assessing the current status of school crime committed on school campus and at school-related functions, strategies and programs that provide or maintain a high level of school safety, and procedures for complying with existing laws related to school safety.

Question: Does Jenny Lind Elementary School have a Comprehensive School Safety Plan? If so, does the plan address the current single ingress/egress issue at the school site and the impact this issue has on student (and staff) safety?

32282.  (a) The comprehensive school safety plan shall include, but
not be limited to, both of the following:

(1) Assessing the current status of school crime committed on
school campuses and at school-related functions.
 (2) Identifying appropriate strategies and programs that will
provide or maintain a high level of school safety and address the
school's procedures for complying with existing laws related to
school safety, which shall include the development of all of the

(G) Procedures for safe ingress and egress of pupils, parents, and
school employees to and from school.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

In Case of Emergency

Stockton school for developmentally disabled practices for worst-case scenario

Saturday, February 9, 2013

School Board Meetings & Robert's Rules of Order

Tip #1
Learn the Basics of 
Robert's Rules of Order:

(YouTube video)
Mastering the 3 Most Important Motions 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Leadership Qualities

The Top 10 Leadership Qualities

Updated: May 26, 2009


Leadership can be defined as one's ability to get others to willingly follow. Every organization needs leaders at every level. Leaders can be found and nurtured if you look for the following character traits.
A leader with vision has a clear, vivid picture of where to go, as well as a firm grasp on what success looks like and how to achieve it. But it's not enough to have a vision; leaders must also share it and act upon it. Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric Co., said, "Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion."
A leader must be able to communicate his or her vision in terms that cause followers to buy into it. He or she must communicate clearly and passionately, as passion is contagious.
A good leader must have the discipline to work toward his or her vision single-mindedly, as well as to direct his or her actions and those of the team toward the goal. Action is the mark of a leader. A leader does not suffer "analysis paralysis" but is always doing something in pursuit of the vision, inspiring others to do the same.


Integrity is the integration of outward actions and inner values. A person of integrity is the same on the outside and on the inside. Such an individual can be trusted because he or she never veers from inner values, even when it might be expeditious to do so. A leader must have the trust of followers and therefore must display integrity.
Honest dealings, predictable reactions, well-controlled emotions, and an absence of tantrums and harsh outbursts are all signs of integrity. A leader who is centered in integrity will be more approachable by followers.
Dedication means spending whatever time or energy is necessary to accomplish the task at hand. A leader inspires dedication by example, doing whatever it takes to complete the next step toward the vision. By setting an excellent example, leaders can show followers that there are no nine-to-five jobs on the team, only opportunities to achieve something great.
Magnanimity means giving credit where it is due. A magnanimous leader ensures that credit for successes is spread as widely as possible throughout the company. Conversely, a good leader takes personal responsibility for failures. This sort of reverse magnanimity helps other people feel good about themselves and draws the team closer together. To spread the fame and take the blame is a hallmark of effective leadership.
Leaders with humility recognize that they are no better or worse than other members of the team. A humble leader is not self-effacing but rather tries to elevate everyone. Leaders with humility also understand that their status does not make them a god. Mahatma Gandhi is a role model for Indian leaders, and he pursued a "follower-centric" leadership role.
Openness means being able to listen to new ideas, even if they do not conform to the usual way of thinking. Good leaders are able to suspend judgment while listening to others' ideas, as well as accept new ways of doing things that someone else thought of. Openness builds mutual respect and trust between leaders and followers, and it also keeps the team well supplied with new ideas that can further its vision.
Creativity is the ability to think differently, to get outside of the box that constrains solutions. Creativity gives leaders the ability to see things that others have not seen and thus lead followers in new directions. The most important question that a leader can ask is, "What if … ?" Possibly the worst thing a leader can say is, "I know this is a dumb question ... "
Fairness means dealing with others consistently and justly. A leader must check all the facts and hear everyone out before passing judgment. He or she must avoid leaping to conclusions based on incomplete evidence. When people feel they that are being treated fairly, they reward a leader with loyalty and dedication.
Assertiveness is not the same as aggressiveness. Rather, it is the ability to clearly state what one expects so that there will be no misunderstandings. A leader must be assertive to get the desired results. Along with assertiveness comes the responsibility to clearly understand what followers expect from their leader.
Many leaders have difficulty striking the right amount of assertiveness, according to a study in the February 2007 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published by the APA (American Psychological Association). It seems that being underassertive or overassertive may be the most common weakness among aspiring leaders.
A sense of humor is vital to relieve tension and boredom, as well as to defuse hostility. Effective leaders know how to use humor to energize followers. Humor is a form of power that provides some control over the work environment. And simply put, humor fosters good camaraderie.
Intrinsic traits such as intelligence, good looks, height and so on are not necessary to become a leader. Anyone can cultivate the proper leadership traits.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Survey Says!

Question: Would it be beneficial for CUSD administrators to implement a Satisfaction Survey
Below you will find a survey prepared  and handed out by a highly respected School Principal. He puts out a similar survey every school year to receive feed back from his staff; he's not required to do the survey. However, if you ask him why he does it, his response is pretty simple: he wants to know the hard truth so that he can continue to grow and develop as a school administrator. He does a similar survey with the parents he serves.


Site Administration Satisfaction Survey 2012-2013 School Year

School Site: ________________

During this time of staff evaluations it is only fitting and fair that all staff have the ability to comment and give input on how the administration at __________ School is doing. You can write your name if you wish to do so, or your response can be made anonymously.

For the purpose of this satisfaction survey “Site Administrator(s)” refers to the Principal and/or the Vice Principal. If you would prefer to have the survey reflect only the Principal or Vice Principal please identify by circling your choice below:

Principal         Vice Principal            Both

Please circle the response that best applies to each question:

1. Site Administrator(s) are knowledgeable about the needs of our students and the programs that are provided at ________________ School.

strongly agree           agree             no opinion            disagree            strongly disagree


2. Site Administrator(s) are visible and accessible to staff, parents, outside agency representatives, and members of the community.

strongly agree           agree             no opinion            disagree            strongly disagree


3. Site Administrator(s) makes every effort to return phone calls, e-mails, or meet face to face to address staff issues, concerns or questions.

strongly agree           agree             no opinion            disagree            strongly disagree


4. Site Administrator(s) deals with problems and conflicts in a timely manner and in a way that is respectful to all involved.

strongly agree           agree             no opinion            disagree            strongly disagree


5. Site Administrator(s) works to ensure that the school campus is clean, safe and well maintained and that classroom supplies, materials and equipment needs are met.

strongly agree           agree             no opinion            disagree            strongly disagree


6. Site Administrator(s) works to ensure that the campus is a place where learning occurs and where students are treated with respect and dignity.

strongly agree           agree             no opinion            disagree            strongly disagree


7. Site Administrator(s) make every effort to keep all staff informed of upcoming events, special announcements or important information.

strongly agree           agree             no opinion            disagree            strongly disagree


8. Site Administrator(s) work to create staff development opportunities, as well as provide access to a knowledgeable and supportive team of DIS (Direct Instructional Services) personnel and support staff. (OT, PT, LSH, Psych, etc…)

strongly agree           agree             no opinion            disagree            strongly disagree


Please list any suggestions you may have for future staff development opportunities.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sample Letter: Request for Initial Assessment

Sample Letter
Request for an Initial Assessment
for Special Education Eligibility

Parent/Guardian’s name
City, State, Zip Code
Daytime Telephone

______________(Principal or Special Education Director)
Local School District
City, State, Zip Code

Dear _______________
I am the parent of__________ who is in the ___ grade at ____________(school). I am requesting a comprehensive assessment in all areas related to suspected disability to determine whether _______is eligible for special education and/or related services either under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (including the Other Health Impairment category) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
I am requesting this assessment because __________________(be specific). The following interventions and accommodations have already been tried. (list interventions such as seating assignments, quiet area to take tests, etc.) However, my student continues to struggle in school with___________. If applicable add: ____________ has been diagnosed with__________ by __________(professional).
It is my understanding that I will hear back from you in writing within 15 days of this request.
I look forward to hearing from you and working with you and your staff.

Your name

cc: include others who you think might need to know about your request

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Statement of Ethics for California School Administrators


Statement of Ethics

A management, supervisory or confidential school employee's behavior must conform to an ethical code. The code must be idealistic and at the same time practical, so that it can apply reasonable to all. The professional acknowledges that the schools belong to the public they serve for the purpose of providing educational opportunities to all and provides professional leadership in the school and community. This responsibility requires standards of exemplary professional conduct. It must be recognized that the professional's actions will be viewed and appraised by the community, associates, and students. To these ends, the professional subscribes to the following statements of standards.

The management, supervisory, confidential school employee:
  • Makes the well-being of students the fundamental element in all decision making and actions.
  • Fulfills professional responsibilities with honesty and integrity.
  • Supports the principle of due process and equal treatment under the law.
  • Obeys local, state, and national laws and does not knowingly join or support organizations that advocate, directly or indirectly, the overthrow of the government.
  • Implements the governing board of education's policies and administrative rules and regulations.
  • Pursues appropriate measures to correct those laws, policies, and regulations that are not consistent with sound educational goals.
  • Avoids using positions for personal gain through political, social, religious, economic, or other influence.
  • Accepts academic degrees or professional certification used in relationship with professional responsibilities only from duly accredited institutions.
  • Maintains the standards and seeks to improve the effectiveness of the profession through research and continuing professional development.
  • Honors all contracts until fulfillment or release.
  • Seeks to involve the public and keep them honestly informed.
  • Recommends the employment, development, promotion, and retention of the best possible personnel to assure a quality education program.