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PAUSD still in administrative turmoil

Original post made by Parent on Mar 14, 2007

Paly principal Scotty Laurence has been promoted to assistant superintendent to prevent him leaving to another district. This means that once again Paly needs a new principal and once again the Board is possibly making a rush decision while there is no permanent superintendent in place. Now I have nothing against Scotty and congratulate him on his promotion, but somehow I feel that this decision is reckless and rushed.

To me this all shows that our district is swimming against a strong tide. On the one hand we want to keep our good people, but on the other hand it shows that there may be a "panic" mentality which may show in the decision making process. This decision is a big one and cannot be ignored, but what is going on when they make smaller less noticeable decisions. The apparent "hold on at all costs" attitude in this matter shows that there is a strong under-current that only some may be well aware of and the rest of us may be getting around to realising it.

Comments (23)

Posted by Resident, a resident of Stanford
on Mar 14, 2007 at 11:27 am

I, too, am puzzled. When did we decide that it was time to start adding back administrators? How did we decide which positions to add back? Where was the "public meeting" which, at least, informed us that this was now a priority to spend our money on, and let us at least comment on what, from the other side of the dias, seemed to be high priority for making a comeback?

What was this really all about?

How will this affect everything else in our District? What new Super is going to want to come in and not be able to choose his/her own staff, or have input on which positions are most important to him/her?

What does putting in another "old-timer", presumably approved by, if not chosen by, Dr. Callan, above all the rest do to the whole "trust" process that has been quietly chuggin along? Will everybody shut up now? Did this effectively put a complete halt to any hope for reform at the highest levels in our District?

Posted by another parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 14, 2007 at 11:50 am

Is there any way they could bring back Sandra Pearson, who appeared to be a wonderful principal for Paly? I am concerned it will be difficult to find a suitable principal - isn't it late for them to start on a search process if this major job is to start in the summer (or at least August)?

Posted by Amazed and not amused, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2007 at 12:30 pm

I wonder if the BOE has lost it's collective courage. They seem to be making their decisions these days in reaction to threats. Make that pricicpal an assistant superintendent bacause we hear he's leaving. Revisit past decisions because those who didn't prevail are now making threats to bring a charter school petition. Where's the backbone on this board?

Posted by I'm not Gail, just a fan, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2007 at 1:16 pm

Where's the backbone? Where is the clear thinking?

Look at the board's voting record - it's in Gail Price.

Posted by Andrew L. Freedman, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 14, 2007 at 1:26 pm

Hmmmm. Dr. Harold T. Santee would be a nice replacement. I wonder if he's still around.

During the times of student protests, Viet Nam war, kids at school - even junior high - beginning to smoke the "devil's weed," Dr. Santee was able to navigate very nicely as PAUSD Superintendent.

Andy Freedman

Posted by Observer of the Board, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2007 at 1:28 pm

On the other hand, maybe Scottee is a contender for new Superintendent which is why they wanted to all of a suddent keep him around.

We probably should save all the superintendent search finders fees and just hire him already. If nothing else, we could get on with business, and get MFC the heck out of PAUSD. The sooner the better.

Posted by David Cohen, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 14, 2007 at 6:57 pm

I applaud the board's decision. I don't understand the post that asks, "I, too, am puzzled. When did we decide that it was time to start adding back administrators? How did we decide which positions to add back? " "We" don't make those decisions - the board made that decision, as they make countless others. If you don't like the decision, give the board your feedback and vote as you see fit, but some of us don't want to see the "Palo Alto process" given every opportunity to slow down or impede normal procedures. I doubt Mr. Laurence "threatened" to leave as one post suggests, and I commend the board for recognizing the value of keeping an administrator with a lengthy and impressive record in PAUSD.

Nor do I see much reason to worry about the incoming superintendent being denied the opportunity to influence this hire. The incoming superintendent will not get to choose anyone who had a job here prior to their arrival - it should be expected that the incoming supe will have the professional skills to balance independent leadership with the ability to adapt to a new situation and work effectively with the experienced staff already here. Considering the recent concerns about the atmosphere at the district office, and the potential for an adjustment period under a new superintendent, Mr. Laurence is an excellent choice to provide professional leadership and cohesion, and now the entire district will benefit from the leadership he has demonstrated in our high schools.

Posted by Parent too, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2007 at 7:08 pm

Is the newly appointed assistant superintendent a replacement for an existing vacated, or soon to be vacated position? (One can hope.)

Or is this a new position all together? Is this incremental new cost to the district?

Posted by Read the article, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 15, 2007 at 12:38 am

"Laurence, who will begin his new post July 1, is filling a position that was left vacant in 2002 due to the retirement of former Associate Superintendent Irv Rollins."

Posted by Parent too, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2007 at 10:09 am

Hmmm.. Well, that's what I'm not quite clear on... Was the vacancy of Irv Rollins position an intentional vacancy as part of the Measure A cuts?

And does this mean Irv Rollins the consultant is no longer going to be paid for by PAUSD? (ie: Irv Rollins is co-running the AAAG, and Irv Rollins participated on the Mandarin Immersion project.)

So does Scotty take over all the activity that Irv Rollins has continued to do, and we save those consulting fees?

Posted by another parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2007 at 3:30 pm

So, the position was vacated in 2002, which means it's been "open" for 5 years? Really? Was the position advertised as vacant since then? Was there a search team to look for a qualified replacement for Dr. Rollins? (no offense intended to Mr Laurence) Who's been doing that job for 5 years? Have all of his responsibilities been left undone since then? Why fill it now? With what funds? What if all of our principals announced that they were being recruited by other districts, would they all get new jobs at 25C? Boy, this seems fishy...

Posted by Gorton, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2007 at 9:50 pm

So wasn't isn't fishy at 25C? What the heck???

Posted by Community member, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 17, 2007 at 5:09 pm

The BOE meant well, but this appointment will derail the progress made with the Management Team who have participated in good faith with the consultants hired by the BOE to address a number of concerns. Two of these issues are: inconsistent practices and preferential treatment. In addition, this appointment leap-frogged the appointee over other Management Team members who may have wanted a shot at the job, and who are equally, if not more, qualifed. It's hard to believe that the BOE didn't see that great damage could come of this, but apparently not.

Posted by Paly parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 17, 2007 at 5:45 pm

thanks, community member, for your insights.

Posted by Voice Reporter, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 28, 2007 at 8:35 pm

Here's an article written on the Paly Voice, at Here's the link: Web Link

Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 29, 2007 at 10:08 am

I'm disappointed in the Board on this one. Nothing against Mr. Lawrence, but if what I read was true they hired him without posting the position to get a robust list of qualified candidates, some of whom may have been in a stronger positiong than he to repair trust between 25 Chirchill and the Management Team. They also hired him without actually deciding what the heck he was supposed to be doing -- no job description! Isn't it illegal for them to hire someone without a job description? Also, with the district crying poor all the time, what's up with suddenly finding at least $100K to fill this previously unfunded position? As someone who walked door to door for *miles* dropping off fliers in the early days of PiE, I have to say, that amount of money represents quite a lot of donations. I am so disappointed on this one. He was not the only great person in the district for this position, but we will never know who might have stepped up to apply because no one else was given the opportunity. And do we know, even now, what he will be doing? This just seems wrong.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 12:42 pm

Natasha - 100K?

The fully loaded cost of that position, probably in the top five most expensive salaries in this district is probably closer to 200K with benefits package and everything.

Fully loaded cost for an IS is probably about $120K. HS Principal, probably $175K, and he just got a promotion - I'm thinking we're approaching $200-250K range fully loaded. Just estimating here, does anyone know for sure?

Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 29, 2007 at 12:46 pm

Parent, I totally agree with you. I used "at least $100K" as a number I was sure no one could quibble with, because if you say $200K then someone might say that's not really the salary if you don't include benefits which don't go in your pocket, etc etc. etc. I would guess you are much closer to the real number. But we haven't seen the real number, nor have we seen the job description. So as far as I can tell, based on what I've read, the Board basically said "here, stay in the district and we will raise your salary and benefits substantially, and don't wory, we'll figure out later exactly what your job will be." Huh? Dang, wish MY company would do that for me.

Posted by another parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 1:59 pm

I think its very instructive that the Board conveniently uses money woes when it suits their arguments, but figures out how to print money "money is no object" when they have another agenda..

What I'd like to know - what's the REAL agenda.

Business 101 - no one is indespensible. Are they really asking us to believe that Scotty Lawrence is so wonderful and magnificent that he was indispensible? And why is that Callan who was hired for her tough 'hardball' negotiating skills with the teachers unions, is now playing a freindly game of tiddlywinks with SL? I bet if we look a little deeper we'd find something else.

So Board - whos side are you on anyway?

Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 29, 2007 at 2:03 pm

Another parent --

your questions bring to mind another question: depending on information we don't have access to about why he was hired in this way, will he have the trust of the Managment Team?

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 29, 2007 at 3:42 pm

It's really about time that the Weekly or its competitor did some digging around--with FOIA stuff. It's pretty clear that the board got outmaneuvered by Callahan on MI, with, as usual, the exception of Gail Price who wanted to avoid going down an unwanted path.

Posted by Par, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 4:35 pm

Its about time the board put Callan on administrative leave immediately, and put a moratorium on any new R&D projects until the new Superintendent is on board.

They need to prevent her from wreaking any more havoc on PAUSD. She's wasting oxygen at 25 Churchill.

Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 29, 2007 at 4:52 pm

I'm curious what ever happened to the FOIA request for the names of the donors to the Feasibility Study. Apparently it is illegal not to divulge them but the district won't reveal the whos and how muches, just refuses without a legal basis. I last heard about this at the January 30 meeting. Anyone heard anything more?

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