State

Hot-button topics off schools agenda

Modesto City Schools trustees have a light agenda Monday, including a discussion on employment agreements for child development staff, approval of a new principal at Wilson Elementary and hearing a report on efforts to increase enrollment at the district's 34 schools.

Missing from Monday's agenda are two hot-button issues -- Deputy Superintendent Debbe Bailey's employment contract and the final reading of a medical services policy. But community members might show up to speak about them during public comment.

Bailey was placed on paid leave at the end of April, and officials said trustees might schedule a special meeting in the coming weeks so Bailey can have a public hearing. It appears she could be fired or get the last year of her contract bought out.

Officials came across some of her e-mails with the teachers association, superintendent's secretary and trustee Cindy Marks, and are accusing Bailey of insubordination and disclosing internal information to the public.

Bailey maintains that only selected e-mails are being released to make her look bad, and that most of her e-mails are being misinterpreted.

The medical services policy has stirred some controversy, with opponents calling it anti-parent.

State law allows junior high and high school students to leave campus during the school day to get medical treatments or counseling without parent or guardian consent or knowledge. Medical services can include pregnancy testing, contraception, abortion, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, and counseling and treatment for rape, drug abuse and mental health.

In a 4-3 vote June 22, trustees approved the policy's first reading. Since then, trustees have decided to hold off on final adoption to research the issue. Trustee Steve Collins is surveying other school districts' medical services policies to add language directing students toward trusted adults or other alternatives before using the policy.

Trustees likely will hear an update on the research at their Aug. 3 meeting.

Exemptions to be weighed

At Monday's meeting, trustees will consider approving agreements for child development staff that exempt them from pay cuts and furloughs to which other employees have agreed for the 2009-10 school year. Some Head Start staff will get a 3 percent raise, according to a staff report.

Head Start employees are exempt from the cuts because the early education program is a separate program funded by the federal government, according to Aaron Castro, president of the classified employees union. After years of no raises, federal officials are funding the salary increases.

Also on the agenda:

A report about the district's effort to increase enrollment through the Web site EnrollModesto.com

A resolution allowing staff to borrow among the district's major funds temporarily during the 2009-10 school year. The loans would help the district cover monthly expenses if the state delays payments, which it did several times during the past school year.

Some of the money borrowed would have to be paid back with interest. The funds that can be tapped include property and liability reserves, workers compensation reserves, cafeteria fund, construction fund, developer fee funds and redevelopment funds.

The appointment of Ignacio Cantu Jr. as principal of Wilson Elementary School. He was vice principal at Fairview Elementary School for three years. Some parents and teachers spoke to trustees at prior meetings about the decision by administrators to remove Shirley Herrera as principal, while others supported the move.

Monday's meeting will start at 6 p.m. in the district boardroom, 425 Locust Ave. To see the agenda, go to http://mcs.monet.k12.ca.us.

Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at mhatfield@modbee.com or 578-2339.

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