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Chief Communications Officer

Communications Specialist/Teacher of the Year/Media Relations

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News and Press Releases

Education Headlines

February 8, 2016

Putting California first in driving education reform
In his State of the State speech last month, Gov. Jerry Brown laid down a marker on the decades-old but profoundly important question that is still dividing key constituencies in the education reform movement in California and nationally: Just how much say should Washington have over California's education policies in return for the federal education funds the state receives?

State to begin collecting data on students who are chronically absent
California will begin its first statewide collection of data on students who are chronically absent, a key indicator of academic trouble, the California Department of Education said Thursday.

LearnStorm is coming to the Bay Area for the Second Year in a Row
CEO of Khan Academy, Sal Khan, along with its lead funder,, and the San Francisco 49ers joined more than 400 Bay Area students, teachers and community leaders to celebrate the official launch of LearnStorm, a free and innovative online learning challenge for Bay Area students in grades 3-12.

January 27, 2016

$1.5 billion helping career pathways take off in California's high schools
Tenth-grader Ryan Streckfus glanced over the gauges on the control panel as he carefully lifted the steering wheel, hoping to keep his aircraft from stalling in the sky over the Long Beach harbor.

West Contra Costa teachers on track to get 12 percent salary increase
RICHMOND – After years of salaries that lag behind other Bay Area school districts, West Contra Costa County teachers ratified a new contract that will bring them closer in pay to their colleagues in the Bay Area.

Richmond Promise Scholarship program opens for applications
RICHMOND – Graduating high school seniors can now apply to the city's new scholarship program to help pay college tuition costs, city officials announced Tuesday.

January 25, 2016

State to reimburse costs related to Common Core tests
School districts in California may get a new influx of money to reimburse as much as $600 million in estimated costs related to the administration of mandated tests, based on a state commission’s decision Friday.

Richmond: Resident raises funds to bring back music to school
RICHMOND – When Cesar Zepeda was a child growing up in Richmond, he found solace in playing the piano.

Oakley students collecting used jeans for homeless teens
OAKLEY – Some middle school students here are collecting jeans for homeless kids their age around the country.

January 22, 2016

'High-impact' step for schools: Help students get health insurance, feds say
Lengthy, complicated and expensive programs are used in schools every day to improve student performance, but last week the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services kept it simple.

California teacher shortage could get worse, report warns
MONTEREY – The teacher shortage in the K-12 system has become so critical that a local school district is offering a $10,000 signing bonus for its next math and science teachers.

Richmond Promise scholarship program to be launched at event Tuesday
RICHMOND – The much-discussed and long-awaited Richmond Promise scholarship program will be officially launched at an event from 10 to 11 a.m. Tuesday in the Fab Lab at John F. Kennedy High School, 4300 Cutting Blvd.

January 20, 2016

Federal officials urged not to step on state's school reforms
Superintendents, teachers, advocates for students and business and community leaders sounded a strong, though not unanimous, call Monday for federal officials to give California wide berth to fashion a school improvement system without micromanagement from Washington.

More students vaccinated as enforcement efforts increase
Vaccination rates increased across the state for kindergartners in 2015-16 as schools reacted to the news that their daily attendance figures would be scrutinized if they had high numbers of students who were only partially vaccinated, according to a summary analysis by the California Department of Public Health, which released its school-by-school immunization data on Tuesday.

Assemblyman wants resources for needy students
RICHMOND — State Assemblyman Tony Thurmond said he is working hard to make more resources available for low-income students in West Contra Costa and statewide.

January 14, 2016

Education board moves to assert state's role in school accountability
Meeting for the first time since President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act last month, members of the State Board of Education expressed optimism Wednesday that they can create a single system that meshes federal, state and local approaches to school improvement.

Attorneys, law students sought for East Bay high school Mock Trial competitions
The Mock Trial competitions in Contra Costa and Alameda County high schools are looking for legal professionals – soon-to-be, practicing and retired attorneys and judges – to help with the hands-on academic competition centering on knowledge of the judicial system.

Eight apply to fill Martinez school board vacancy
MARTINEZ – The Martinez Unified School District board announced the names of eight candidates to fill the board seat to be vacated by Trustee Denise Elsken.

January 12, 2016

Brown says it's time to abandon API to judge schools' performance
Members of the State Board of Education who favor replacing the three-digit Academic Performance Index with a “dashboard” of measurements highlighting school performance can count on the backing of Gov. Jerry Brown.

Supreme Court signals it's ready to hand CTA, public unions big setback
Conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices were what news reports called hostile in their questioning of union lawyers Monday during arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case that could undercut the financial stability and the political clout of public employee unions in California and nearly two dozen states.

University of California applications climb 6.4 percent but more spots promised to in-state students
OAKLAND – The number of students vying for a place in the prestigious University of California system climbed another 6.4 percent this year, marking the 12th straight year of record-breaking undergraduate application numbers.

January 8, 2016

Governor offers a new approach – but no new funding – for early childhood education
The governor's budget proposal makes no new funding commitments for pre-kindergarten students, but does propose a new block grant that will give districts more flexibility in how they allocate existing early education funds – similar to the Local Control Funding Formula for K-12 schools.

Richmond: Assemblyman to discuss education issues at NAACP meeting
RICHMOND – District 15 Assemblyman Tony Thurmond will discuss education issues as the featured speaker at the meeting of the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP at 10 a.m. Jan. 16 at Easter Hill United Methodist Church, 3911 Cutting Blvd. in Richmond.

Contra Costa students speak language of code
WALNUT CREEK – The fourth-graders at Walnut Acres Elementary School work in pairs. One is the driver navigating the details, while the other is the navigator, charged with keeping an eye on the big picture.

January 7, 2016

Barnidge: Will local control translate to better California public schools?
It's difficult to know exactly how California public schools are performing these days. The Academic Performance Index, which assessed students' proficiency through standardized testing, was discontinued in 2014.

Report gives children's services in California more low grades than high ones
California earned poor marks for several services it provides for the well-being of children, including those dealing with trauma, abuse and other mental and behavioral challenges, according to a report issued Wednesday by the advocacy organization Children Now.

32 local students named Intel Science semifinalists
Thirty-two area students have been named semifinalists in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search.

January 4, 2016

Google is becoming U.S. K-12 schools' operating system
Step into any U.S. public school and chances are Google is everywhere. Students have their own Google accounts. They work on math problems on Google-branded Chromebooks, file their homework in Google Drive and keep up with their classes through Google Groups.

Contra Costa County's first truancy court goes after parents
“He's afraid – he doesn't want to go. I don't know what his issue with school is,” Mt. Diablo Unified parent Maria Martinez said through an interpreter when asked why her fifth-grader had missed 51 days of classes the previous academic year and was late for 23 more.

New California laws mandate vaccinations for schoolchildren, boost minimum wage to $10
SACRAMENTO – As California rings in the new year, new laws take effect that mandate vaccinations for most schoolchildren, force police officers to get a warrant before searching your cellphone and boost the minimum wage a dollar an hour.

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CCCOE Press Releases - 2016

February 2016

January 2016



In April 2012, two organizations, the Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association and the Concerned Parent Association, filed a lawsuit against the CDE alleging widespread, systemic non-compliance by local education agencies with special education laws. The suit also alleges the CDE fails to monitor, investigate and correct such non-compliance in accordance with the law. The CDE denies these allegations and is actively defending the litigation.

Districts in our county were not involved in the lawsuit and are not the subject of any of the suit’s allegations.

Nonetheless, as a part of this lawsuit, CDE has been ordered by the court to release all data it has collected on general and special education students since Jan. 1, 2008.

For more information regarding the release of this data and how you can file an objection with the court to consider not releasing your data, visit: You may also contact the California Department of Education at 916-319-0800.

2016 East Bay Regional Academic Decathlon concludes
with the always-thrilling SuperQuiz™

WHAT: This year's East Bay Regional (Contra Costa and Alameda Counties) High School Academic Decathlon will conclude this coming Saturday, with objective testing and SuperQuiz™. Directed by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) and with the assistance of community volunteers, the Academic Decathlon provides an opportunity for high school students to compete as individuals and teams in a series of ten academic tests and demonstrations. The subjects in the competition include art, economics, literature, mathematics, music, science, social science, essay, interview, and speech (prepared and impromptu)–plus the popular SuperQuiz™.

Approximately125 participating high school students have been studying and preparing for this event with their coaches since September. This year’s Academic Decathlon theme is India, and the Super Quiz™, a TV's Jeopardy style team competition, will bring the program to a close.

DATES / LOCATIONS: Saturday, February 6, 8:00 a.m.–3:50 p.m.; Los Medanos College (gymnasium), 2700 E. Leland Rd., Pittsburg
** SuperQuiz™ begins at 2:35 p.m., finishing around 3:50 p.m.

Best time for photo, video, and audio opportunities:
**Saturday, February 6, 2:35-3:50 p.m. at Los Medanos College (gymnasium)—The SuperQuiz™ Relay.

Wednesday, February 10, 6:00-7:30 p.m.; Contra Costa County Office of Education, 77 Santa Barbara Rd., Pleasant Hill—Academic Decathlon Awards Ceremony.

ACTION: Providing outstanding audio, video, and photo opportunities, the approximately 60-minute SuperQuiz™ portion of the Academic Decathlon (a team-relay event) always produces the excitement and electrifying mixture of the remaining minute of a tied basketball championship game and the final winning question on a TV game show. The gym’s bleachers are populated with families, friends, and teachers, cheering on their teams. The SuperQuiz™ will open up with the traditional procession of the teams into the gym, while brandishing their schools' banner.

WHO: This year's teams represent the following high schools: Acalanes (Lafayette), California (San Ramon), Campolindo (Moraga), Clayton Valley Charter (Concord), Dublin (Dublin), Freedom (Oakley), Irvington (Fremont), Las Lomas (Walnut Creek), Miramonte (Orinda), and Pittsburg (Pittsburg). Campolindo High School has been Contra Costa County’s champion for the past five years, and was last year’s national winner in the Medium School Category. Visit this Web page to see Contra Costa County winning schools over the years.

High school teams are made up of nine students, grades 9-12, with a maximum of three students in each of the following divisions: Honors (3.75-4.00 GPA), Scholastic (3.00-3.74 GPA) and Varsity (2.99 GPA and below). The winning team will represent Contra Costa County at the California State Academic Decathlon, to be held in Sacramento, March 17-20. This year's National Academic Decathlon will be held in Anchorage, Alaska, April 28-30.

(The winning Contra Costa and Alameda County teams will represent their county in the California State Academic Decathlon.)

HISTORY: The Academic Decathlon was first created by Dr. Robert Peterson, former Superintendent of Schools in Orange County, California. Firmly believing that everyone's learning potential can be maximized through competitive challenge, Dr. Peterson set in motion the contest that has since come to be recognized as the most prestigious high school academic team competition in the United States. The program spread rapidly throughout the states due to the success and excitement it engendered. USAD was founded in 1981.


Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial is looking for legal professionals to volunteer a few hours of their expertise

MARTINEZ, Calif., January 7, 2016—Bay Area soon-to-be, practicing, and retired law professionals are needed to provide assistance to their future brethren at the upcoming 35th Annual Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial Program, held in the early evenings throughout the month of February, at the Martinez Court Rooms. Last year, 150 Bay Area practicing and retired attorneys and sworn judges, as well as third-year law students volunteered their time with the Mock Trials.

winning Mock Trial artist drawingCoordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), Mock Trial is an academic event provided for high school students. The hands-on educational program was created to help students acquire a working knowledge of our judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of our society. This year’s trial: People v. Hayes – a murder case, and features a pretrial argument on the Fifth Amendment.

“I encourage all my fellow law professionals to join us in serving as volunteer Mock Trial judges and attorney scorers,” says Contra Costa County Presiding Judge Steve Austin. “Not only is it a wonderful service to our county's high school students, but you will really enjoy watching them in action. You will be impressed with the skill these young men and women demonstrate in our courtrooms. Every year I volunteer, I am continually amazed at the obvious time each student has invested to participate in this challenging academic event.”

Teams of high school students work with teachers and volunteer coaches to prepare their version of the criminal case, from both the prosecution and defense perspectives. Students assume the roles of trial attorneys, pre-trial motion attorneys, witnesses, clerks, bailiffs, artists, and court journalists. Mock Trial judges and attorneys score their performance and provide immediate feedback. Winning teams advance through seven rounds of competition. The county's champion advances to the State finals. This year, there will be 16 Contra Costa County high school Mock Trial teams competing.

Volunteers will score two competing schools that argue the cases in their assigned court. Each night, will begin with a 15-minute rules and regulations training, then the volunteers will go into their scheduled courtrooms to serve as Mock Trial judge and scorers. The Mock Trials’ scorers are made up of Bay Area deputy district attorneys and deputy public defenders, as well as public-sector, private-practice, and corporate lawyers. In addition, seasoned law students are also welcome to participate. A practicing or retired judge or commissioner will preside over each trial, and also serves as one of the trial’s scorers.

Teams from the following 16 Contra Costa County high schools will be competing:
Acalanes (Lafayette), Alhambra (Martinez), California (San Ramon), Campolindo (Moraga), Clayton Valley Charter (Concord), De Anza High (Richmond), Deer Valley Law Academy (Antioch), El Cerrito (El Cerrito), Hercules Middle/High (Hercules), Heritage (Brentwood), Kennedy (Richmond), Miramonte (Orinda), Monte Vista (Danville), Northgate (Walnut Creek), Pinole Valley (Pinole), and Richmond (Richmond).  

Schedule for 2016 Contra Costa County High School Mock Trials:

Preliminaries: February 2, 4, 9, 11, 5:00-7:30 p.m. (Eight competitions each night)
Quarterfinals: February 16, 5:00-7:30 p.m. (Four competitions)
Semifinals: February 18, 5:00-7:30 p.m. (Two competitions)
Final and Consolation: February 23, 5:00-7:30 p.m. (Two competitions)

Mock Trial will be headquartered at the A.F. Bray Courthouse, 1020 Ward Street, in Martinez.

Interested volunteers can learn more by visiting the CCCOE’s Mock Trial Web page, or contacting Jonathan Lance at (925) 942-3429.

The two highest-scoring teams will advance to the finals on Tuesday, February 24. The winning team will then represent Contra Costa County at the California State Mock Trial competition, held in Sacramento, Calif., March 18-20. The California state finalist team will then compete in the National Mock Trial Competition, held in Boise, Idaho, May 12-14.

In 1977, the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) introduced the concept of mock trials to the Los Angeles schools. In 1980, the program expanded to the state level. The California Mock Trial Program currently involves more than 36 counties and over 8,000 student participants from more than 400 teams. Approximately 1,500 attorney volunteers serve as team coaches and scorers, and 500 Municipal, Superior, and Appellate Court judges preside over the trials.

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January 2015

Measles Update From Contra Costa Health

The following is a letter to Parents, Students, School Employees, and Volunteers from Contra Costa Health Services.

Versión en Español (pdf)

We are writing to update you on the measles situation in California and Contra Costa County. At this time there are no measles cases reported in Contra Costa County, but other counties in the Bay Area have reported cases. It is possible that there will be more measles cases. As of January 27, 73 people in California have been confirmed with measles since late December 2014.

We want to reassure parents that although measles is very contagious, it is highly preventable through vaccinations. If your children have been fully vaccinated, they are well protected from catching measles. However, California's measles outbreak serves as an important reminder that everyone needs to be vaccinated if they have not had the disease in the past.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and pediatricians recommend that children get two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. The first dose is given at 12 to 15 months of age and the second dose usually at 4 to 6 years of age. Two doses of MMR vaccine are more than 99 percent effective in preventing measles.

Not only is the MMR a doctor-recommended vaccine, it is also required for school. School immunization requirements make schools and our community safer and healthier. Unless they have an exemption, most children who attend public and private schools in California have received MMR vaccine.

However, in settings where large numbers of unvaccinated people gather, such as international tourist attractions or schools with high exemption levels, vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles can spread quickly and sicken many, including babies too young to be vaccinated and those who cannot be vaccinated because of a health condition.

Adults also need to be up to date on vaccinations. We recommend that everyone, including parents, teachers and volunteers, review their vaccination records.

People born before 1957 are considered immune as they likely had measles as children and developed immunity from the disease. Ask your doctor if you have any questions about your vaccination status.

For more information about measles and measles vaccine, please visit:

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Page updated on: February 08, 2016

Rev: 0.4-010514-BETA4