Students and parents exiting Gunn High School today were met with five placard-holding demonstrators protesting special education policies in the Palo Alto school district.
"No more discrimination against special education students and their parents," one of the signs read. "Treat all parents with dignity. We are all equal."
The protesters are supporting the family of a special education student currently in a dispute with the school district about the student's school placement.
A similar protest by supporters of the family Tuesday led Superintendent Kevin Skelly to email Gunn staff members that the school district is committed to ensuring "appropriate" education to special education students, even when parents do not agree with the services and placement.
The email was later forwarded to all Gunn families by Principal Katya Villalobos.
Protest organizer Marielena Gaona Mendoza said demonstrators hope to attract a lawyer to represent the special education student and family on a pro bono basis.
The case is scheduled for mediation behind closed doors on Thursday, Aug. 22.
The district is bringing a legal action against the family to compel the child to enroll in special education classes after the family disagreed and refused, according to documents obtained by the Weekly.
If the dispute is not resolved through mediation, then a full evidentiary hearing will be held by a state hearing officer at which time district lawyers and staff and the family will each present their case and call witnesses, and the outcome determined by the hearing officer.
The state general services department's Office of Administrative Hearing says it provides "a neutral forum for fair and independent resolution" of disputes between individuals and government agencies.
In his email to Gunn staff Tuesday, Skelly said: "Perhaps you noticed that there were some folks in front of the school with signs and messages. I just wanted you to know a little about the situation.
"District staff believe that the child involved deserves support, and we want to ensure that we provide the services that education professionals deem most appropriate for the student. Without compromising confidentiality, in special education cases when parents do not agree with the services and placement, we have both a legal and moral obligation to ensure that the students receive access to a public education. It is our goal to see this child return to school. We look forward to continuing to work with this family and every family to make sure they receive a quality education in our district."