School Board Rejects VSA on Director for DJUSD AIM/ GATE Program

Trustee Madhavi Sunder complained opposed the decision of the district to not renew Deanne Quinn's VSA
Trustee Madhavi Sunder complained and opposed the decision of the district not to renew Deanne Quinn’s VSA

The DJUSD School Board voted 3-2 to reject the VSA (variable services agreement) of Deanne Quinn, who was the director of the DJUSD AIM/GATE program. A few years ago, Ms. Quinn had retired, and had been on a year-to-year contract. Board President Alan Fernandes and Vice President Madhavi Sunder voted in favor of keeping her in place.

Board Member Madhavi Sunder, calling in from North Carolina and participating via phone, told the board, “I would like to remind the public that Ms. Deanne Quinn has been running the GATE, now AIM, program for 2 decades in our district. During that time, the school district’s program has been recognized as ‘exemplary’ by the state. Indeed, Davis is one of only three districts in the state to obtain that prestigious commendation.”

“I am very concerned that School Board Trustees have rejected the personnel recommendation of the administration, stepping directly into firing individual district employees against the advice of the administration. This is likely to provoke concern in the community and among our staff about the direction the Board is charting,” she continued.

Ms. Sunder stated, “We had an election in November. The candidates all explained their positions on this issue in writing at None of the candidates indicated that they wanted to essentially create a new GATE/AIM program, wholly unlike the program that has existed over the past few decades in this district.”

“They did not explain that they were going to fire an employee,” she said. “As I understand, none of the other Trustees have reviewed Ms. Quinn’s personnel file, and yet they are willing to fire an employee.”

She stated, “With Ms. Quinn’s consent, I have reviewed Ms. Quinn’s 20-year personnel file carefully, as I believe the Superintendent who recommended we rehire her has also done. That file demonstrates that Ms. Quinn is a valuable employee to the district. All of us can be better. But there is no cause here to deny us the benefit of her expert guidance in meeting the needs of a certain group of children.”

“It is indeed difficult to square this action, deposing the head of a program, with the claim that the program is not being radically altered,” she concluded.

Alan Fernandes clarified that “it would not be a firing if the board chose not to support a VSA recommendation because it is a contract employee. The person in question was an employee and then retired from the district, and therefore the law applies differently to contract employees.”

Mr. Fernandes said, “From my perspective and indeed the motion from June 4 that’s often talked about and referenced, [and] is in written form available on our website, it clearly states we have not yet made any changes with regard to our AIM program such that I am not supportive of making changes until a recommendation comes back which is why I am supporting the VSA at this time.”

“Having said that, when the board comes back with recommendations about restructuring, then I think it’s appropriate to consider whether or not this particular contract is needed and, if it is, then whether or not the person who’s performing the duties under this contract matches the future needs of the district,” he added.

He reiterated that the motion on June 4 was for the Superintendent to come back with recommended changes to the AIM program and “that no changes to the AIM program have been made to date.”

He moved and Madhavi Sunder seconded the vote. Trustees Tom Adams, Susan Lovenburg and Barbara Archer voted to reject the VSA without comment.

Katherine Unger, speaking during public comment, noted that she has “seen conflicting information in the paper about how significant of a change (was made to the AIM program on June 4),” and she added “I’ve even heard conflicting information from board members.”

She wanted to wait and see what would happen, “And now I see there’s a move to remove the coordinator who’s probably the most experienced in Gifted Education in our district…”

“You’re going to be sending a pretty clear message to families in Davis about the AIM program and how you value it, and you how you value the students and families attached to it,” Ms. Unger stated. “I keep hearing references to segregation – are we going to apply that to Spanish Immersion? Do we apply it to Montessori?”

“There are kids in this town who walk around saying, why do people hate me because I’m in AIM? That’s a really hard question to answer,” she said. “But you guys are sending a very clear message – first you change the program at 11:30 at night without public input and then the next meeting you take out the coordinator – I hope you reconsider.”

On June 4, the Davis School Board voted 4-1 to pass a motion that one board member believes “effectively eliminates our GATE program as we know it.”

The motion, made by Board Member Susan Lovenburg, said, “To provide more equitable access to the AIM program, move to eliminate the use of private testing to qualify students, beginning with students who would first be admitted to the program in the 2016-17 school year.”

It continues, “Further, direct the Superintendent to have staff review and recommend assessment protocols to be implemented in screening students beginning in the 2015-16 school year. The focus of assessment will be to identify students whose needs cannot be met in classrooms which fully implement best practices of differentiated instruction.”

“Assessment will take into consideration multiple measures… Recommended changes will be reflected in the AIM Master Plan to be approved by the Board,” it continued. “Further direct the Superintendent to develop a plan for the district which fully implements differentiated instructional practices in all classrooms.”

Ms. Sunder told her colleagues. “This is a done deal.” “This is a radical change that is being implemented,” she said. “We’re not asking will you discuss this and have a committee to look at in the fall… We’re implementing this without any public notice about this type of a major change in the DJUSD. I’m very disappointed about the process by which this type of major change is being offered here.”

The Vanguard has now filed a Brown Act complaint with the district, believing that the second and third parts of Ms. Lovenburg’s motion were sufficiently different from the agendized item to warrant separate noticing.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts


  1. SODA

    I watched this part of the meeting last night and even on TV you could sense the tension. The 3 in the majority did not speak to the motion. What are their reasons? What is their Plan B? I saw a little of public comment and there appeared to be strong support for the 6/4 vote which is in question; changing testing/assessment and unclear what else.

      1. DavisAnon

        I wonder what Coach Julie Crawford would think of this. She wasn’t ‘fired’ either, just didn’t have her VSA renewed – same as this. I had hoped the Board would learn from those prior mistakes (including Ms. Lovenburg who was part of that Board), not use that experience as a way to get rid of other staff members who won’t just do their bidding. Now we have 3 Board members who have gotten rid of an employee in order to weaken an educational program that successfully serves many students in Davis. Susan Lovenburg has personally tried to get rid of this employee in prior years but was unsuccessful. Now that she got two of her friends elected to the Board, they have the 3-2 vote needed, so there’s no telling where it will end.

        We wonder why we can’t retain good teachers in Davis? It’s disheartening to see the list of young talented teachers who leave DJUSD, including this year. The message the Board sent last night is clear. If you strive for excellence and won’t just play ‘yes man’ to their whims, your job is at stake. It’s not a good time to be an employee in DJUSD (or a student, for that matter). A small salary increase for our teachers is not going to wipe away the message the Board gave last night.

        1. hpierce

          Wow!  Comparing Crawford/Peterson to this is spurious, at best.

          Same to comparing an action on an administrative position to how teachers are compensated/retained is laughable (at best).

        2. DavisAnon


          I do think there are some significant similarities with this and the Crawford situation, though obviously I’m not privy to all the details of either.


          The importance of a pleasant work environment where you feel safe to do your job to the best of your ability cannot be overlooked. It’s important to pay our teachers well, but just as important for them to feel supported as they do their best to educate their students.  Our district seems to becoming a revolving door of administrators, teachers and coaches. This concerns me greatly.

        3. Napoleon Pig IV

          “Comparing Crawford/Peterson to this is spurious, at best.”

          No, in fact this comparison is not spurious at all. I imagine Peterson is high-fiving it with Lovenberg somewhere now that the Lovenberg cabal is firmly in control of the school board.

          Small town politics always suck, but this determined undermining of the historical quality of Davis public education is inexcusably idiotic. This one’s not worth an oink. Maybe a barf into the pig trough.

        4. ryankelly

          DavisAnon – You are asking my opinion on this? OK

          I think there are differences – Quinn was a full-time employee and then voluntarily retired.  She then came back on a VSA on a part-time basis for what purpose is not clear.

          It would be similar to Crawford/Peterson if Crawford had said that she no longer wanted to coach, but then agreed to come back part time on a temporary basis, but the Board wanted a full time coach.  It would be similar to Peterson/Crawford if one of the Board members who had a child in the program was working to get Quinn fired, didn’t like Quinn and had a replacement in mind.  Neither of these fit, in my mind.  The only thing in common was that the Board voted to not approve the VSA.

        5. VoiceOfReasonInDavis

          Coach Crawford was fired from her job, despite being great at it, because of the politics of the School Board. Educator Qinn was fired from her jobb, despite being great at it, because of the politics of the School Board. The comparison is not spurious at all, hpierce, but rather plain for the world to see.

      1. DavisAnon

        But that is because you and your family members were actively working to get the Board to do exactly what they did (if my hunch is correct).  Am I wrong?

        1. MrsW

          But that is because you and your family members were actively working to get the Board to do exactly what they did (if my hunch is correct).  Am I wrong?

          You are wrong.

          I made my statement because the GATE community is diverse.  “Whole” is a big word. 

  2. hpierce

    “The Vanguard has now filed a Brown Act complaint with the district…”


    –  is noticing the District part of the ‘administrative’ procedure/redress required before filing the complaint with the FFPC who actually can act on Brown Act violations?

    – why now?  If the VG had an issue with the June 4 action, why not file earlier?  Because of Thursday’s vote?  Or is the allegation that yesterday’s action was in violation?  If so, why?

    – looks like the VG is acting as a surrogate for its favorite school board member.  Who would have status to file a complaint with her fellows or the FPPC on her own.

  3. ryankelly

    The employee retired….and then continued to work in the same position, doing the same duties for years.  Efforts to put a stop to this practice has been going on at the State level, including UCD.  Only in extraordinary situations should this employment practice happen and then only temporarily until a suitable replacement is found.  if she wanted security on her job, she shouldn’t have retired.  It is time for a change and to allow someone to be hired or promoted into this position that also has expertise in GATE education.

    i’m really dissapointed in the Vanguard right now.  There seems to be no effort to remain neutral.

    1. David Greenwald

      Ryan: I’m open to criticism, but I don’t think your comment is completely fair here. I didn’t offer an opinion in this article. I reported what happened. If one of the three members had spoken on why they were rejecting the staff recommendation for approval of the VSA, I would would have printed it. But they didn’t. That makes for a less than balanced story. I don’t know where I stand on the GATE policy issue – I have weighed in on the process issue previously and I will again. That’s my chief concern here.

      1. ryankelly

        Of course the Board’s recent direction to staff is designed to steer the program away from the status quo, which research has demonstrated has flaws.   Your article seemed to have Sunder as the loudest voice in the room, drowning out all other voices.   I understand why the rest of the Board remained quiet.  Sunder made it personal – that their actions were an attack on the performance and effectiveness of the employee.  This is not something that is done in public.   Your legal action just appears that you are a part of the effort to stop the Board’s actions.

        1. David Greenwald

          I quoted Sunder and Fernandes who talked on the issue. Susan Lovenburg, Tom Adams and Barbara Archer are declining comment claiming it a personnel matter. There are several non-personnel aspects to it, but I’ll flesh that out later.

          In terms of the legal action – it’s a process issue for me. I think taking a vote at 11:30 when two-thirds of the motion is not mentioned in the agenda is improper. BTW, I also let the Board President know last night that a Brown Act violation had inadvertently occurred when they took a normal vote on the agenda with Sunder participating remotely. Under those circumstances, a role call vote is required. They simply corrected it. All they would have to do on the Brown Act violation now is rescind the June 4 vote and bring it back in September, fully noticed.

      2. wdf1

        Greenwald:   If one of the three members had spoken on why they were rejecting the staff recommendation for approval of the VSA, I would would have printed it. But they didn’t. 

        At 1:25:00 in the video of the meeting, Adams said, for justification of his vote, that decisions about the program should be made by permanent staff and not temporary employees.

        1. DavisAnon

          Interesting, since so much of the district’s work/policy seems to be coming from outsiders – consultants, professors, attorneys. It seems silly to get rid of well-qualified employees in order to pay more to outsiders or to hire a less qualified but permanent employee. Even so, there is now no opportunity for a smooth transition. If this is the way the board felt, they should have hired someone earlier this year to allow for some overlap and training. Now we are two months from the beginning of the school year with no one at all.

        2. Napoleon Pig IV

          This is Adams’ conflict of interest coming to the surface, along with some deliberate misdirecting away from the key issue at hand. He should never have been elected to any school board, especially this one. Oink!

  4. Davis Progressive

    this goes right to the heart of the complaint and i think alan fernandes nailed it. they keep saying – no major change happened, it’s going back to staff.  well if that’s true why go against staff recommendation for renewal of the vsa before a decision has been made.  seems like this move signals that a major decision has been made, it’s fait accompli, and the board is trying to piecemeal and use the summer to ram it through with minimal resistance.

    1. ryankelly

      She retired.  She continued to work in the same position.  She is double dipping.  This is supposed to be temporary.  There are other people who have expertise in GATE programming that can be hired or promoted.  This is not an attack on the AIM program.  It is not a major decision.  The sky is not falling.

      1. Don Shor

        She is double dipping.

        Wow. So your unrelenting opposition to Sunder and GATE now has you tarnishing Deanne Quinn? Evidently you’ll stop at nothing.
        It is, in fact, an attack on the AIM program. And you’re one of the chief Vanguard cheerleaders for that attack. Your comments here are disingenuous.

        1. VoiceOfReasonInDavis

          The fact that “ryankelly” told someone to ___ off (before he later edited the remark) is pretty awful. He throws punches left and right at others, but when someone suggests that he is attacking others, he uses gutter language.

      2. Davis Progressive

        vsa’s don’t pay very well, so it seems like the district is getting an advantage.  in addition, reforms to pensions preclude true “double dipping” – there are strict guidelines as to how much additional work one can do.

        “This is not an attack on the AIM program.  It is not a major decision.  The sky is not falling.”

        the actions of the board last night suggest otherwise.

      3. iWitness

        It’s not double dipping.  She came back to fill a need.  She has been renewed every year till now for a good reason.  She is not merely the most experienced person in GATE in this district, she is the most qualified GATE professional in Northern CA if not the State.  None of our fine GATE teachers would argue with her exceptional ability to do this job or want it.  When a district gets this lucky, it’s rare, and personal animosity should not take precedence over children’s well-being.  She has taken a lot of  petty ill treatment to stay here because of the numbers of children who need her.

        Please stop slinging around terms like “research demonstrates.”  It’s available, read it.   Do your homework.  The research was done on difficult figures but makes really easy to understand basic errors that the researchers could have clarified had they asked.   They were apparently too busy.  Or above fact checking.

  5. Tia Will


     I understand why the rest of the Board remained quiet.”

    Why do you believe that the rest of the Board remained quiet? Genuine question as I do not have enough knowledge of either Gate/Aim or the personnel, personalities, and/or interests involved to have an opinion one way or the other.


  6. MrsW

    There is so much wrong about this article and the subsequent comments–where to start?  How to respond in a way to build community?  Listening is a gift, too.  So many of us have shared our stories and so few of you have listened.  Today is the first time in a decade that I feel like someone with power has listened and actually heard.


  7. MrsW

    Why do you believe that the rest of the Board remained quiet ? Genuine question as I do not have enough knowledge of either Gate/Aim or the personnel, personalities, and/or interests involved to have an opinion one way or the other.

    I believe the rest of the Board remained quiet because the personality and politics are such that when you do present your interpretation of information, experience, or reasoning, you need to be prepared to be shouted out, accused of all kinds of awful things, and generally bullied.  You need to be braced for the vitriol.   It will be interesting, when they do get a chance to speak, if they are allowed to finish a sentence and if any other perspectives in the room are acknowledged as valid.

    1. Davis Progressive

      david in one of the comments reported that the board declined comment citing personnel issues.  i see that as hiding behind personnel laws when i tend to doubt the reason was done from a personnel rather than policy standpoint.

      1. wdf1

        DP: david in one of the comments reported that the board declined comment citing personnel issues.  i see that as hiding behind personnel laws when i tend to doubt the reason was done from a personnel rather than policy standpoint.

        See this.

      2. MrsW

        I see that as hiding behind personnel issues, too.  But (1) I am also sympathetic– I personally would not have entered the chamber without having a plan to protect myself and (2) its very difficult and maybe impossible to talk about the AIM program without saying something personal about Ms. Quinn and how she interprets her job description.

    2. Tia Will

      when you do present your interpretation of information, experience, or reasoning, you need to be prepared to be shouted out, accused of all kinds of awful things, and generally bullied.  You need to be braced for the vitriol.”

      Hmmm….kind of like expressing your true views under your own name on the Vanguard. I understand your point based on personal experience

    3. iWitness

      Mrs W, you’re clearly not one of the people who are upset that the program you chose for your child and they chose for theirs is being axed for other people’s children who will need it in the future.  I didn’t hear shouting, accusations, or bullying.   I heard advocacy for those children coming up.  On the majority side I heard a mute refusal to do anything but vote a predetermined conclusion.  The silent majority doesn’t have to build community.  Stony silence will do.  The terms for considering a drastic change with time to build community are discussion — and advocacy.  


  8. ryankelly

    The Davis Enterprise article states that Dianne Quinn was part-time and temporary for years.  The District needs someone full time and permanent.  The District can still use her expertise as a consultant.

    I would hope that people here keep their comments focused on the issue and not attack me for my consistent views regarding the GATE program.  I am no more of a cheerleader than others that consistently support the status quo and look at any change as an attack, a slap, an insult.  I did not support Sunder specifically due to her views about the Davis GATE program that were in opposition to my own and her aggressive behavior during GATE advisory board meetings.  My concerns that she would continue to fight vigorously for the status quo regarding this program have proven to be valid.  That I am repeatedly attacked and ridiculed for my non-support for Sunder’s views and my support for better identification of students and service for true GATE students and better programming for students who have used the GATE program to solve what is believed to be a mediocre neighborhood program for high-achieving students astounds me.  Especially on a site which promotes itself as a platform that tries to encourage “an inclusive, civil tone that will encourage greater participation in the community dialogue” and  “seeks to ensure that all readers of the Vanguard are respected and comfortable sharing their views.”

    Frankly, it is really uncomfortable to share views on this site.  Each poster is expected to be responded to with some sort of ridicule or derision at some point, sometimes every time they post.

    1. wdf1

      Jeff Hudson, Davis Enterprise, 3/19/2015, School board hears more on AIM

      Quinn has served as director of the AIM/GATE program for more than two decades; she retired as a regular employee in June 2010, but returned under a one-year agreement for 2010-2011. That arrangement that has since been extended several times, with Quinn working part-time on temporary status, renewed year-by-year.


      1. wdf1

        Why would Quinn, as AIM/GATE director, be considered acceptable on 5+ successive one year temporary extensions?  It seems tentative for long term planning.

        If one wanted to see an ongoing strong program, wouldn’t it be better to have a longer term permanent employee?  Are there some DJUSD AIM/GATE teachers who might step into such a position, as coordinator/director?

        1. Don Shor

          Why would Quinn, as AIM/GATE director, be considered acceptable on 5+ successive one year temporary extensions? It seems tentative for long term planning.

          Probably because of her long experience and track record with the program. Evidently she was acceptable to the Superintendent. Just not to three board members who chose not to explain their reasoning. Perhaps you should ask them.

          Are there some DJUSD AIM/GATE teachers who might step into such a position, as coordinator/director?

          I guess we’ll find out.

  9. hpierce

    Sometimes, given the fact that GATE/AIM has some problems, that in my opinion needs fixing, there are those who would either have everything remain the same, or use a chainsaw to cut it apart. May I suggest other methods, whether that be scalpel, pruning shears…

  10. Tia Will

    Scalpel……did someone say scalpel ?

    This is really quite mystifying to me as someone who has had children come through the Davis schools, both of whom were high achievers but not involved in the Gate Program through elementary school, one who went on to be a high achiever through college, one who is taking a more halting route through college. Could someone explain to me where to find a 101 primer on the evolution of a program that seems to have created such hostility here when I am quite sure that all parents only want what they see as best for first their own, but then all students in our district ?

    Maybe if I could see a dissection of the problem, free of the emotion and vitriol, I would have some understanding of the issue.

    1. Don Shor

      I honestly do not know why so many people care so deeply about what other peoples’ children are doing. But they do. Some people seem to think it’s elitist. Some think all kids should be taught together, regardless of learning speed.

      The only reason, IMO, that it’s even under discussion or consideration for change was, originally, because of concerns about the ‘fairness’ or perhaps the outcomes of the testing. But some see this as an opening to dismantle the program. And that is the clear goal if you say that you think GATE should serve 3% or so of the student body, or that all GATE-identified students should be taught in the same classrooms as other students. All of the actions of this school board majority regarding GATE have led inexorably to the conclusion that they intend to significantly reduce or drastically change GATE. To say they intend to end GATE as it currently exists (“as we know it”) is not hyperbole. Why they wish to take away this program that serves and benefits huge numbers of other peoples’ kids? I don’t know.

      1. hpierce

        Trust me on this, Don… I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… I was “G&T” nearly 50 years ago… was a bit of a slacker in that I only reached 1580 on the old SAT tests.  National Merit scholar.  I have a child who was in the old ‘GATE’ program.  Another was identified as eligible, and we didn’t choose that.  A third was not “qualified”, but is the first in the family to earn a Master’s degree.  In a medical science field.

        The current program in Davis needs serious work, and our attitudes toward kids who are out in the 1st or 2nd deviations from the “bell curve” (either end) really needs to change.  The current philosophy seems to be the Garrison Keller thought that all our kids are above average.

        There are the “deniers” who believe that all kids are the same, and the “deniers” that all kids should not have the opportunity to serve their needs.  The pendulum, in my opinion [in Davis], has shifted too much towards the “my kid is smarter than yours” end.

        I believe we need ‘differentiated ‘ instruction, and serve each child the best we can.

        Too many GATE/AIM teachers over the years, got to teach those classes due to internal DJUSD politics.  I’d rather not name names. Some were /are very detrimental to our students.

        IMO, we need to take a serious look at our educational system in Davis, prune things (perhaps drastically) that are not bearing good fruit, excise ‘cancerous’ things with a scalpel, etc., because otherwise it will be an “all or nothing” game.  Anyone who doesn’t realize that the ‘gifted’/’accelerated learners’ don’t have “special needs” are ‘deniers’.  But 30%?  Not (IMO). And we need to do the best we can to meet the needs of that other 70%.  Our resources are what they are.  Let’s do our best.

        BTW, the truly gifted/advanced learners will do quite well… been there. Done that. And I was only in a ‘special program’ for two years.;

        1. Don Shor

          I was “G&T” nearly 50 years ago… was a bit of a slacker in that I only reached 1580 on the old SAT tests.

          Same here.

          I have a child who was in the old ‘GATE’ program.

          Same here. I am very familiar with GATE-type programs.

          But 30%? Not (IMO).

          It’s a long way from 30% to 3%.

        2. hpierce

          Yes, you are correct, Don, about the difference between 30 and 3%.  Yet, NMS is ~ 1%, the ‘true # ‘ is probably ~ 2%, and we’re spending a lot of time/effort/writing ignoring the 70+%.  Let’s just agree to disagree on this point.

          1. Don Shor

            I don’t think anybody is ignoring the 70%. I think it will cost more to change GATE than to keep it as is; I guess we’ll see when we get the superintendent’s report about implementing differentiated instruction in all classrooms (or whatever the exact directive was). I think that changing GATE significantly would not be of benefit to the 30%. It is unlikely that it would be of benefit to the 70%. So I’m not sure why it’s even under consideration. The one group of students and parents that have a legitimate concern are those who are missing the cut in testing and feel the current testing practices are not valid or are unfair. And that’s what the agenda item was all about! Also, I’d guess there’s a lawyer sitting in town somewhere ready to file a lawsuit about either the testing, or the demographic outcome, or some other aspect of all this.

        3. hpierce

          BTW, Don, appears you “cherry-picked’ my proposed credentials… fair enough.  Only knew 3-4 people with the 1580 on the SAt’s, now I know 5.

          I note, other than my ”credentials’, or a difference between 3-30%, you have chosen to ignore my other comments.  Fair enough, and actually much better than most posters.  Have a good evening, and have a good summer solstice and Fathers’ day on Sunday.

        4. Mark West

          Back in the day..

          I served as the Chair of the Site Council at Valley Oak, when it was the sole site for separate GATE classrooms in the District.  Ms. Quinn made a presentation to the Site Council showing that the Gate program was designed to meet the needs of approximately 2% of the population that ‘learned’ differently.  She also stated that the research clearly showed that ‘high achieving’ students, which were a distinct population from the ‘GATE’ students, were not well served by participating in the GATE curriculum. The take home message from her presentation was that the true ‘GATE’ qualified students benefited from differential teaching, while the ‘high achieving’ students did not benefit from the GATE curriculum, and actually performed better in the regular classroom.  Perhaps there has been more research since, but at the time there was nothing to support the growth of the program to encompass 30% of the population.



        5. Gunrocik


          100% accurate:  Too many GATE/AIM teachers over the years, got to teach those classes due to internal DJUSD politics.  I’d rather not name names. Some were /are very detrimental to our students.

          100% accurate:I believe we need ‘differentiated ‘ instruction, and serve each child the best we can.

          Totally spot on comments.  GATE is a special education program, not a high achiever program.  Most teachers and parents don’t get that.  When you are the parent of one the few children who actually needs a GATE program, I can’t tell you how miserable your life can become dealing with teachers who expect every student to be a compliant automaton–which is the antithesis of a GATE student.

          Maybe there was a time  when DJUSD had an effective GATE program – but I can categorically tell you that is no longer the case.

          And places like Pleasanton and Palo Alto prove that differentiated instruction is far more effective.  This destructive, elitist, poorly  executed program needs to go…yesterday!

      2. Mark West

        ” I was “G&T” nearly 50 years ago… was a bit of a slacker in that I only reached 1580 on the old SAT tests.  National Merit scholar. ”

        50 years ago the program here in town was MGM (Mentally Gifted Minors) and consisted of a single 5/6 combination class taught at North Davis by Eleanor Olsen. Participation in the class was determined by recommendation of the classroom teacher and confirmed by a 1 on 1 examination by a District supplied consultant.  While the kids included were certainly ‘smart,’ I doubt anyone would have describe them as ‘high achievers.’


        1. Don Shor

          The same basic setup was used for the program I was in at elementary school in La Jolla, which was heavily populated with kids of academics at UCSD. The more precocious learners were put as younger students in the split classrooms. By junior high some of us had been identified as high-testing underachievers (and disruptive) and were put into a special class with a very loose structure. Other parents found out about it and were disgruntled, thinking it was some sort of honors class — in spite of the fact that there were actually honors classes as well.

          There’s nothing new about these issues and attitudes.

        2. Matt Williams

          I play bridge with Eleanor Olsen on Mondays at the Senior Center. She is a wonderful woman. I can easily see her teaching the classes you describe as MGM with talent, grace and style.

  11. Tia Will

    I am puzzled about something else that came up in the discussion which I see more as a question about process than about any single individual. A number of years ago, the medical group for which I work stopped the practice of retirement with subsequent re hire to do essentially the same job that the doctor was doing previously minus only the hospital privileges. This was done because it amounted to collection of both salary and pension for the same work as others were doing for salary alone, or in more flip terms “double dipping”. I would have loved to have had this opportunity for the financial rewards, but agree that it is not the most beneficial plan for my partners, for patients nor for the company and is surely a best practice not to do this.  The state, in a number of areas, has also moved away from this practice for exactly the same reason. How many of you, especially those who deeply resent paying taxes, want an employee essentially being paid an accessory sum for doing the same work ?

    I realize that some of you seem to see this differently with regard to Ms. Quinn ( about whom I know nothing at all, and therefore am completely unbiased). I am wondering if someone could explain to me how this situation is different.


    1. hpierce

      Can tell you how I see it good in theory… not necessarily in this particular situation, as I have little info…

      If an agency has someone with say 25-30 years of experience, who retires, and their skill set is such that it has value is high, but the agency only needs a 25% (or on-call) need for those services moving forward, what better answer is there, on behalf of the public, to pay them their old hourly wage, without needing to contribute to PERS (or, SS, if the agency uses PARS), nor medical or dental.

      Not so good for succession planning, but still valuable for when the need for services is sporadic, and/or less than 50% time.

    2. zaqzaq

      This was a cost savings for the school district.  They do not pay any pension or medical costs.  Only the half time salary.  I do not see what the problem is in this instance.  They are getting a really good deal.  Did the board give any instruction to hire someone else, if not who will manage the program?

      1. ryankelly

        She retired when there were retirement incentives that the district would continue to cover health insurance until age 65. She then immediately was hired part time under a one year contract.  This might have made sense in 2011 when finances were grim, but the District should have someone full time and not on a year to year contract.

        I don’t understand how Sunder can defend this model and she is leading the charge to make it personal.

        1. VoiceOfReasonInDavis

          “RyanKelly”–have the board members who fired Quinn also decided to fire all other employees rehired by the district after retirement (even if like Quinn they are only 0.4 employees)? Or is this a policy just to be applied to a single individual?

  12. Tia Will


    Thanks for the thoughtful response. I can see this point if this is indeed what has happened. However, how is this advantageous over hiring her as a consultant as another poster suggested ? Would an independent consultant be more highly compensated ?

    1. hpierce

      I’m not the one to ask… I’ve thought a vsa = independent consultant.  With most agencies I’m familiar with, it’s TPT… no contract/agreement, no benefits.  Hourly pay for hourly work… might be 40 hours one week, and no assignment for 2-3 months or more.  Perhaps someone else can answer your question, as you stated it.

      1. hpierce

        Oh, and yes, independent consultants need to have payments (that they make) for both ’employer’ and ’employee’ SS & Medicare, a business license (did this VSA employee have one?), likely professional liability insurance (was this employee covered by their E & O, other liability insurance?).  Tried being an independent consultant once… that lasted a year.

  13. Sulla

    It is too bad the Madhavi Sunder was not actually physically present at the meeting of the School Board.  The force of her intelligence, education, and personality may well have caused others to pause and reconsider their vote.   A disembodied voice on a long distance telephone connection from North Carolina lacked  the impact necessary to carry the day.

    In other words:  If Susan Lovenburg had appeared by long distance telephone connection, it would be much more likely that we would not be having this conversation.




    1. hpierce

      Similar to her effectiveness on June 4?  And by the time between the most recent meeting, while across the country, she had the time and resources to get permission from the employee to view the personnel file, review it, and opine on it?  Something smells, and it isn’t roses.

      After all, given the Supe’s recommendation, there was no problem. Perhaps another Brown Act violation?

      1. Sulla

        Except that any one who has followed the Board meetings would know that Susan Lovenburg has been a consistent opponent to renewing the contract of the AIM administrator. Last year she pulled the contract from the consent agenda, but no other Board member supported her.  So nobody should have been surprised that she would do so this year.  Now, of the four new Board members, two of them agreed with her.

        The fundamental problem is this:  5 years ago the Board adopted a policy to give financial incentives for employees to retire, in order to save the jobs of other school employees. The AIM [GATE] administrator took those incentives and retired.  But then she was immediately rehired as a year to year contract employee to administer AIM.  So no jobs were saved by this retirement. Of course, since 2010 the
        Board and the Superintendent could have adopted a plan for an easy transition from one administrator to another, but they failed to do so.

        The bottom line is this:  If retention of the AIM  administrator was so important, Ms. Sunder should have been on the field of battle to make her case.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for