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Superintendent evaluation news needed

Original post made by Evaluate this! on Feb 8, 2014

We have no news from the evaluation of the superintendent by the board from the February 6 meeting. Can the Weekly ask a few questions and give us some news and updates on this matter? In the meantime, below is information from the Weekly on and from the Weekly Communication from Kevin Skelly to the board, found on . .

From Kevin Skelly and the Weekly Communication for February:
"Tuesday night was obviously, hard but particularly hard for parents whose children have had negative experiences in our schools. We are working hard to use all the feedback we are receiving to do better work. Once again, my apologies for not communicating with you fully about the OCR complaints. I look forward to our meeting on February 26 to discuss ways we can do our work better. . . We continue to work cooperatively with OCR to develop sound policies and practices to support all students."

That was February of 2013.

From Skelly's Weekly Communication of February 7, 2014:
"It was valuable to have some time to discuss our efforts to date and the ways in which we, as a governance team, can do even better. I appreciate your feedback on my work and will include it in my thinking about how I can continue to learn and grow. The next five months promise to be present their unique set of challenges, but I am confident in our ability to meet them. . . We will be back at it on Tuesday night. The first item of the night is the approval of the board policies related to our agreement with the Office for Civil Rights."

Well, one could swap the dates and they would state the same empty promises to "do better" and "learn." If you search the archives, you'll find plenty of Skelly apologies and promises to do better, but many in the community do not feel that Skelly has brought competent leadership in almost seven years of 5-0 rubber stamping by the board. Let's go back three years now, also in February:

"In response to parent questions, Skelly repeatedly insisted that the problem was "hard." . . . We would be making more progress if our district leadership were less impressed with the difficulty of the problem and more willing to make fundamental changes to solve it. . . The school board should do the job that we elected it to do and hire leadership that will address the root causes of the crisis of which the recent suicides are merely the most visible part. It is well past time to enforce accountability for our elected and appointed officials."

That was three years ago. Ken Dauber risked ostracizing himself by daring to question the "elected and appointed officials". Is this district better off than three years ago? What did the board evaluate?

Comments (58)

Posted by Korsikov, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Feb 9, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Yes, Pulleeeze! Publicize the facts of Kevin Skelly's evaluation. If it shows that he has been a good superintendent, I will know the cause is lost for our schools until Skelly and the current BOE are gone.

Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Community Center
on Feb 9, 2014 at 6:50 pm

I appreciate this post. I am a parent of three children who have been through the PA schools, including under Skelly's leadership. I admit to being initially surprised by Ken Dauber's editorial that is quoted above but after having had the past three years to reflect on it, I think he was right, and I regret that more people, including myself, didn't have the foresight that Dauber did to see that Skelly was not a good fit for the job. Particularly the accountability questions that he raised back then turned out to be correct and are still harming us today.

I want to raise a concern about Skelly that should have come up at his evaluation but probably didn't which is his decision to promote Katherine Baker to the head of all secondary education in the district. I believe that this decision alone should have been the basis for a negative evaluation and should have been rejected by the School Board. Katherine Baker was found by OCR to have been personally responsible at Terman for the failure to protect a disabled girl from bullying, including punching and kicking. Katherine Baker had to be held accountable for that failure and should have been terminated. Instead, Skelly promoted her.

From my perspective as a parent I feel that this was a gesture of contempt for both OCR and for the Latino and disabled parent communities. That promotion said "the heck with you feds, we disagree with your letter of finding." It also said "the heck with you latino parents and disabled students, Katherine Baker will not be held accountable for her failures because we don't regard them as failures. We don't care about you."

For that reason alone, Skelly should have been fired along with Baker. Instead he got a bonus, she got promoted, and what did the citizens of PAUSD do? They moaned on Town Square and said very critical things (contrast the comments now with Feb 2011 about Skelly). But they didn't DO anything. That's because IMHO people are so discouraged and feel so disenfranchised by this insular board that seems only to listen to its own select group of friends and neighbors that they feel nothing can be improved or changed.

I disagree. I think if Ken Dauber had been elected this OCR mess wouldn;t have happened, Baker wouldn't have been promoted, there would be more public information and participation, and so forth. I hope that voters are ready now to make a change. He was right in 2011, he was right in 2013 when the OCR reports came to light and we need to move Dauber from being Cassandra to being on the board. He has my vote if he runs.

Posted by Agree, a resident of Duveneck School
on Feb 10, 2014 at 11:36 am

I still have my Ken Dauber sign in my garage and I am ready to put it out now after the last board meeting and what happened to Angela. I agree about Baker she should be gone. I think it's is obvious. Obviously the board is listening to their friends rather than the broader community.

Posted by Evaluate this!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2014 at 9:10 pm

So what was the outcome of the evaluation of Kevin Skelly by the board? Can Tabitha Hurley write up a press release or is this more secret information?

Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 14, 2014 at 8:24 am

To the list of things that should have been evaluated but likely weren't add the way he threw the Paly english teachers under the bus. The teachers were asked by the district to address the fact that there was racial segregation in the english curriculum in 9th grade. The WASC noticed that there were no minority students in 9A and the only white students in 9 had IEPs. The department's teachers were asked to fix it. They fixed it by researching the issue and concluded that delaning 9th grade english was the way to go. They asked their superiors, they got the go-ahead. They had the full support and involvement of Skelly's number 2 Charles Young.

Then, Skelly did his usual no-preparation for the board, and then sat up there and acted like this was the first he'd heard of it. Shrug -- give it a shot. Really? He's awful. How many community crises have we had that were totally avoidable because of Skelly's laziness? Think about it: Everyday Math, the Calendar, a-g for all -- in each case he brought it to the board, threw it up there without giving them enough preparation. He then had to pull it back, do more work, and bring it back. In this case, not bringing it back just killing it.

Why didn't Skelly know that de-tracking in Palo Alto was going to be wildly controversial? Any toddler knows that. And why did he leave these teachers hanging like that?

I don't think it matters if you agree or disagree with him on the specific policy, he's a terrible manager and his terrible management his caused the town to repeatedly convulse over issues that should and could have been much better handled by a better leader. I happened to agree with the outcome on some of the above issues and I still think he mishandled them terribly.

Posted by Paly parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 14, 2014 at 10:03 am

"The WASC noticed that there were no minority students in 9A and the only white students in 9 had IEPs. " Source?

"delaning 9th grade english was the way to go." What did WASC say about that?

"In this case, not bringing it back just killing it." For forever? Who said that?

Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 15, 2014 at 11:10 am

Dr. Skelly said that. read the editorial. This proposal is dead. Parents with juice, [portion removed], killed it. Site based control is for people in the cheap seats down at Gunn. Not Paly.

Posted by Fool me once, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2014 at 7:44 pm

Site-based control has been a myth, Kevin Skelly uses the term to distance himself from as much responsibility as possible. He has only stepped in when his job may be in jeopardy. It has worked well for him, even getting him through the Dauber years.The only problem with this strategy is that now we find our school district in chaos and there is no leadership to take over. The English landing kerfuffle is merely the latest fiasco. Even when he leaves (rumors are swirling that he'll announce in a month) the damage of the past few years will be with us for a long time.

Posted by Realist, a resident of Southgate
on Feb 18, 2014 at 3:13 am

The Paly English debacle makes it clear that site based control is just a way to avoid responsibility. When the board or staff want something to happen, they make it happen. Even if it means denigrating the same teachers they usually praise to the heavens.

Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 18, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Based on this, my guess is it did not go super well. Notice that he does not yet have another job but plans a "gap year."

February 18, 2014

Dear Palo Alto Unified School District Community:

Last Tuesday I informed the board of my decision to step down as superintendent on June 30, 2014.

Nearly seven years ago I was blessed to be chosen to serve Palo Alto as superintendent. Since then I have so enjoyed working with students, parents, staff, and the school board to create the best possible environment for students to learn and grow. The sense of collaboration and the commitment to serving students better that I see in so many people has been a source of continuous inspiration. Each year, in my beginning of the year talk, I have said: "Hot dang, I get to be the superintendent of the Palo Alto Unified School District!" And while the work of a school superintendent is not always easy or enjoyable, I have fervently loved almost all aspects of this job.

I want to thank the school board for the confidence they showed in me when they named me superintendent and the support these eight extraordinary individuals have given me, individually and collectively, during my tenure. I am grateful to those in the district office who diligently work to support the efforts of our schools in educating our students. I believe there is no better faculty and staff than the dedicated people we have working in our schools. My wife and I are particularly grateful to the teachers and other staff members who have cared for our children. Like so many other students in our district, they have received a transformative educational experience; one that they simply could not have had in another educational setting.

Finally I want to thank the parents and community members who so strongly embrace all the children in our school district. I know of no other community where student well-being across multiple dimensions permeates every aspect of civic life. Our students are the better for it.

The reason I am making this decision now is twofold. First, the district community deserves a chance to have an inclusive, rich discussion about the characteristics they wish to see in their next superintendent. That process, combined with the recruiting and selection of someone worthy of the talents and promise of our students, will easily consume the next four months. The second reason is personal - I want the chance to spend some time dwelling in the possibilities for the next phase in my life. There are many people I love with whom I want to spend more time. Perhaps this next school year is the Gap Year I never had!

Thank you again for the chance to be superintendent and I look forward to good things during the rest of the school year.

Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.

Posted by A parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 1:23 pm

I'm very concerned about this. IMO, Skelly was a much more reasonable and intelligent person than some of his underlings in the district office like Charles Young. Given a choice, I'd keep Skelly and get rid of Young, Carrillo, Wade, and anyone on the board who's been there longer than one term.

Come to think of it, though, it's still really tough to handle the damage EDM has done to my child's love of math, not to mention facility with it. Anyone have any recs for things to do to help recover from that? No, we can't afford tutoring.

Posted by Breathing Easier, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 18, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Such a relief!

Now, just how do we repair the damage done to the IEP kids???? The school board hired Skelly, it is their responsibility to fix the damage he did. And not hire another turkey.
BOE: this time, do YOUR homework before being dazzled by Harvard,

Posted by Evaluate this!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 8:19 pm

And still nothing about the evaluation. There is more to this story, that is for sure. Ask yourself if you trust anything from Barb Mitchell's mouth these days? Or from Kevin Skelly's? Why is information so difficult to come by from this district? Where is the press release from Tabitha Hurley?

Posted by Breathing Easier, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 19, 2014 at 8:35 am

[Post removed]

Posted by Evaluate this!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2014 at 9:53 am

Well, a lot has come out since I write the first post 16 days ago, but it is not nearly enough information that we the public need in order to make an informed choice for the upcoming election. You did know there was an election just eight months away, didn't you? Barb Mitchell and Dana Tom know because their terms are up. Kevin Skelly knew there was an upcoming election.

Skelly's evaluation was February 6, which was one week after Mitchell's infamous CUT THE MIKE! command to Charles Young. On February 13, Marielena Gaona Mendoza shamed the board with silence, though Mitchell again commanded the public to not clap, then meekly kept quiet after Ken Dauber reminded the board of a basic constitutional thing our students would learn in elementary school. You know what I am talking about, the old pesky First Amendment, which allows me to post on this Town Square, using information culled from and I do not know what was said in closed session regarding Skelly's evaluation, but I still believe that our elected five owe the public a better explanation than the drivel Mitchell has emailed out and made public. That is great that she asserts that it was his decision. I'm sure that the continuing dysfunction of the school district that Skelly still heads had little to do with it. That is not sarcasm. I really believe that the five have not demonstrated any talent at performing the roles for which they were elected, and that they are more concerned with defending themselves and their lack of action than actually helping all kids.

Without the Weekly, we would have just a smidgen of the big picture of PAUSD, we only have a little more than that, and recognize that we need specific information on how the board is overseeing this district. The superintendent's evaluation is not only fair game, it is critical information that the public needs to cast an informed vote for the fall election. If the board thinks like Mitchell and feels that Skelly was doing exceedingly well as the superintendent, then the public needs to know that. Right now, it looks like the board has been throwing contract extensions at Skelly for the past six years, based on an article in another newspaper, in order to deflect blame from the board. It makes the omission of OCR complaint information in 2012 look suspect at the very least, and to many it looks much more sinister. Well, the board no longer has Skelly to blame,

Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2014 at 10:45 am

@ Evaluate this!,
Thank you for mentioning the "CUT THE MIKE" night and the First amendment.
That night, I tried to post, again, a comment mentioning the First Amendment on the thread that (back in July) brought us the info about PAUSD Board's secret meetings set to check the feasibility of challenging the jurisdiction of the OCR.
As far as I know, lawyers were involved (and presumably paid) for this "process".
I think that this was one of the most important articles posted by the PA online - Thank you!

Web Link

Back when the thread was posted, "Never been more disgusted" posted comments that had me think it was a teacher. I decided to try and follow up with that commenter. At that time, the thread was open to all, etc.

A lot has happened since.

Here is the comment mentioning the First Amendment which I tried to post, again, late on CUT THE MIKE night on the "Secret meetings" thread :

@Never been more disgusted,

Back in July you wrote:
"…Or maybe I will continue to teach my students that their democratic duty is to criticize their elected and paid leaders to ensure that they are representing us. My union president may be silent right now, but I will not be."

I wished you, then, that you voice will be heard. I decided, then, to try to follow up with you.
I want to think that you also teach the virtues of free speech, First Amendment etc.

"teachers too" ended her/his comment here (Web Link) saying: "… they are the people we pay to care for our kids, and they are all part of the problem. Until they recognize that and stop playing the game of silence, then only then will we be on the way to improvement."

All correlates nicely to your July's comment, above.

Wishing you that your voice will be heard and inspire your students. Many agree that teachers' personal modeling can go a long way.

Another commenter noted in a recent editorial that I am raising controversy, the thread was locked, completely,

I hope you see this before it all disappears, the "fate" of my posts...

That old pesky First Amendment, you know.
Thank you!

Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 22, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Why isn't some version of the Superintendent's evaluation public? It's ridiculous that the public never gets to hear how the board thinks Skelly is doing. Good for Barbara Klausner for dressing him down in public and questioning his integrity. But it's obvious why she had to go and they had to replace her [portion removed.]

Well, that and the fact that the OCR investigation was concealed is now water over the dam. Spilled milk. What will happen now?

Barbara Mitchell is a far right wing libertarian who has repeatedly challenged OCR and is resisting OCR behind closed doors. Those closed meetings need to be pried open and the documents need to be obtained to show the public what kind of cooperation or noncooperation this board is engaged in. And enough of Mitchell speaking for the board while saying she is not. When she uses the word "we" she is either speaking in the imperial we (possible) or she is speaking for the board.

When Barbara Mitchell directly challenges OCR's authority to regulate the district is she acting for the board?

Why is the rest of the board going along with her if she isn't?

Silent Skelly will be missed by Backroom Barb.

Posted by Evaluate this!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Last chance for comments, they are locking the other PAUSD threads. I take that to mean lawyers, new articles, or they need a rest on Sunday.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 23, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Folks, even public employees are given reasonable amounts of privacy in their jobs. Performance evaluations are considered private.

Just let it go.

You've got the result you wanted. Move forward and positively contribute to the next the next hire.

Posted by another community member, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 23, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Crescent Park Dad: Thank you! Agreed - time to move on!

Posted by Evaluate this!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2014 at 10:20 pm

I've been reading the posts from the move-on folks for the last three years, how is Kevin Skelly resigning what people want? Some people want that, others feel that Charles Young should be announcing his resignation in a month, and then Holly Wade. Serious mistakes were made that warranted a change in leadership at least two years ago. Barbara Klausner alluded to it and then threw away both her vote with a contract extension for Skelly, then threw in the towel, which didn't really serve the public. Was there a problem, like Klausner said, and then did that problem quickly disappear? We would like to know, but there was no transparency then, and there is little more now. Barb Mitchell writing an email to supporters is not transparency. Mitchell is brave enough to write a letter supporting Skelly, but look how much time she has put into fighting public opinion and how little time she put in managing the superintendent over the past three years. Way too many free passes and do-overs for such a special district full of enlightened, educated citizens. Either we celebrate a high standard for our leaders during cheerleading time at the Tuesday board meetings, or we simply admit that being superintendent, or being a board member, is not any more special that Skelly or Mitchell would like us to think. Do your research and you will discover that all school districts are challenging to lead. Only our arrogance makes us think we are extra special.

Posted by board watcher, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 24, 2014 at 8:15 am

>but look how much time she has put into fighting public opinion

>how little time she put in managing the superintendent over the past three years.
Full Time.

What was your point?

Posted by District parent, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2014 at 8:38 am

Board watcher is right about Mitchell in part. She had been actively managing the superintendent and the district behind the scenes. For example, the strategy of resisting OCR and dragging out the process for over a year is Mitchell, along with Tom. The refusal to settle the case before a finding of legal violation may well have been driven by Mitchell too, we just don't know all the facts. The alliance between Skelly and Mitchell has been close. No wonder she is unhappy with his departure.

Posted by Context, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 24, 2014 at 9:38 am

It is important that we begin transition to a focus on how to select a new superintendent who must provide strong leadership along with a vision of balanced values and innovative educational practices.
Healthy examination of how the board has treated Skelly's evaluations is relevant to understanding their ability to fulfill one of their most critical functions going forward; selecting, evaluating and managing the performance of the next superintendent.
Unfortunately, the public has had little clarity on how the board performs these responsibilities. One of the most interesting recent insights was pointed out by a poster on another thread, which were the comments that Barb Mitchell made in her personal letter about Skelly's resignation and her Op-Ed in the Daily Post. She claimed that the entire board had given Skelly their full support in performance reviews throughout the events of recent years. If true, that would mean that their support did not waver even when Skelly acknowledged that he had concealed from them adverse results of a federal civil rights investigation, a very serious breach of responsibility on any objective standard. It would also mean that Barbara Klaussner did not waver, even in the midst of the miss-givings that she expressed at board meetings and in her Op-Eds. Her disenchantment was so severe that she opted to not seek re-election. That is hard to imagine.
Are Mitchell's claims true? We may never know, but her claims bring into serious question the board abilities and/or Mitchell's.
In addition, my understanding is that closed session performance evaluations are strictly confidential. Did Mitchell's breach confidentiality as part of a personal effort to refuse to acknowledge any errors? Her public statements on the entire civil rights matters seem to support that position. If she did breach confidentiality obligations for political purposes, what consequences should result from such a violation? Importantly, did she find no fault in Skelly's performance in these areas because his actions were so aligned with her own outlook and direction?

Posted by board watcher, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 24, 2014 at 9:51 am

Wow, lots of conjecture, little fact.

It's interesting when asked to supply facts, you come back with "we don't know because the board isn't telling us". If you need inside information to back up your arguments, you're stating that all your arguments are hypothetical with no basis in fact.

You're simply making no valid argument relying on hypothetical suppositions.

Posted by District parent, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2014 at 10:47 am

@Board watcher, you're absolutely right that we don't have all of the facts. Mitchell and Tom moved almost all of the OCR and bullying policy discussions at the board level behind closed doors. The evidence we do have is leaked documents, including the Mitchell memo of June 2013, and closed meeting agendas that reference these discussions obliquely. That is enough to discern the policy direction.

It's a little disingenuous for public officials to move their discussions beyond closed doors, and then to demand that the public refrain from speculating, based on leaks, about what they are doing in there.

Posted by Move on, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2014 at 11:29 am

Evaluate this!

What do you want people to respond?

Whatever you want to accuse Mitchell or Skelly of, is public opinion relevant?.

I agree with CPD

"Folks, even public employees are given reasonable amounts of privacy in their jobs. Performance evaluations are considered private.

Just let it go.

You've got the result you wanted. Move forward and positively contribute to the next the next hire."

Posted by Runaway, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 24, 2014 at 11:43 am

Looks like Kevin Skelly had plenty to run away from, which is why he decided to resign when he did. That evaluation must not have gone too well. Why else would anyone resign after a contract extension and two raises plus a bonus!

Nice guy, but not a leader and much too deceitful,

Posted by District parent, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Skelly had to work with the board he had. The strongest member, Mitchell, has a clear policy direction that she is pushing internally. A stronger superintendent would have pushed back, but I wouldn't blame Skelly for everything that has gone wrong.

Posted by Boomerang Baby, a resident of Monroe Park
on Feb 26, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Apparently, the BOE and Skelly have something to hide...why else would they be so secretive

Posted by Evaluate this!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Is public opinion relevant. I sure think it is, can't believe that someone thinks it isn't.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2014 at 11:38 am

Public opinion is a good thing. But so are privacy laws.

Posted by Evaluate this!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Privacy rights are super, secrecy not so much. Publish the secret communications to the board. The public has a right to know how decisions are being made.

Posted by Cardianal, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 3, 2014 at 2:16 pm

I think we all know that some kinds of secrecy in the name of privacy has been made to cover a multitude of sins in the case of institutions like the Church. In that case, there were priests who had a dark side, who exploited those by misusing a position of trust. A principal could do that, or a teacher, in an environment of secrecy. There are some kinds of rationalizations for privacy that could lead people such as our board to make quiet decisions that they think are good but which could, like those of the Church, end up putting people at risk all in the name of "privacy." If priest was running a parish one day and then with no sign of trouble at all suddenly disappeared to another parish as an assistant, because he had a life changing illness or wanted to spend more time with family would that cause you to wonder what the priest had done or just to think that he was getting nearer my God to thee? Do the enabling officials look good or bad in the light of what we now know? Is privacy always good? Lots of things grow in the dark.

Posted by Move on, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Evaluate this,

My earlier point was that instead of trying to stoke the fires on these threads and getting the impression that you will get what you are looking for, take the means that are available to go after what you want.

What do you want?

You may not have the right to an employee evaluation, but why not find out for yourself if you do or not? Pretty lazy to ask on these threads about what you can do about your issues with Skelly.

Posted by He's outta here, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Mar 5, 2014 at 8:35 am

The fact is, we got what we wanted, and Skelly is as good as gone. Let's just hope that the board does a better job of interviewing and background-checking in the search for a replacement.

Posted by Evaluate this!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Now with the documents revealed by the Weekly public information request, we get a different look at Skelly's motivation to resign. This is site-based management Skelly-style: don't get hands dirty with filth at the school sites, let the principals deal with it and the mighty unions. These seven years of Skelly have been horrid. Skelly's legacy is lawsuits and payouts. If I would have posted this a year ago, the Skelly apologists would have attempted to drown out any criticism, but it seems every couple of weeks brings a bigger bombshell than before.

Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2014 at 6:59 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Where are Skelly Young? , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2014 at 10:50 am

Maybe I should ask, Where was Kevin Skelly and Charles Young when PAEA was complaining about Phil Winston at Paly? Certainly Triona Gogarty, then president of PAEA, was making noise about how supposedly bad Winston was. Wouldn't supervision by Skelly and Young prevented the big blowup last June or was this just another PAEA hit on another administrator? Perhaps Skelly thinks in his mind that it was Michael Milliken, former director of secondary education, who should have been responsible for Winston. Well,, now it makes sense why Milliken for out of Palo Alto when the teachers made their power play against Winston. When I evaluate the six years of Skelly, it's clear that so much of superficial drivel that he was peddling. Had he resigned in 2012, we would still believe that he was a capable rookie superintendent, but now all we see is someone who focused not on kids, but himself, resulting in seven years of employment at a very high salary. As we near the end, there is much to be accomplished as we confront the very real problems that distract us of the greatness in our district. Young needs to go, but it might be that publicity of his job performance has made him radioactive for other districts. The board needs to term out by their own choice. Camille Townsend had shown us what happens when a board member overstays her welcome, it isn't pretty. This board has easily been the poorest performing in the past 25 years. New blood is needed at the top, but the inordinate power of PAEA has to be stopped as well. They keep playing the fear card against principals, but its clear that it's PAEA that principals fear.

Posted by new, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Where are Skelly and Young?

After the endless reporting from the Weekly about transparency issues, what is the deal with PAEA?

Their website has a few names, but we have no idea how they really operate.


Would you consider enlightening us about the way PAEA works?

How do they interact with the district? the board? Are there rules about their interactions with district leadership, as there are for district interactions with the public?

Posted by Not in our Town! (only if the offenders are administrators) , a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 14, 2014 at 12:54 pm

I am just surprised that Winston was not promoted to higher position, as Katherine Baker did when she violated the disabled student's rights. Skelly could have giving him the superintendent position. This is crazy: They removed Katherine Baker the former Terman school principal and they sent Winston to work with the special needs student who cannot even express themselves. So if something happened or if he did inappropriate touches, they will not be able to know that it is wrong. Skelly once again you fail the special education students. I hope nothing else comes out from here to June. I am wondering if there is another skelleton in the closet about the reason why Principal Villalobos is leaving. I have a feeling that something might be cooking there too. There must be a real reason for leaving her well paid position, I figured that there was something else going on when Skelly announced that Winston was leaving and later heard that he was put in a special education class to work as a teacher. Still there were some reluctant parents who really believed that the reason for him to leave the principal position was because he was sick. These parents are the ones who blindly believe what Dr. Skelly says.

Posted by Evaluate this!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2014 at 7:27 am

PAEA works behind the scenes. That is why we heard no anti-Phil Winston news publicly until the Weekly filed for the secret documents. Teri Baldwin is the new president of PAEA and Triona Gogarty is the old president. I believe it's fair to ask them for their perspective on this matter. They have only made a presence at the board meetings to approve the set of pay raises. Before that, it was almost two years ago that they complained about the high cost of housing and gasoline. All of this is verifiable on the Weekly's website. It's amazing how all leaders are trying to hide right now. No one wants to take responsibility for these failures. Not even Skelly is apologizing because he is undoubtedly getting ready for his next move. I predict San Diego County, where there are an abundance of his Leadership Associate chums, or the Santa Clara County Office of Education superintendent opening, but I think the Phil Winston revelation (seems so long ago when we all we supposed to believe the health excuse) has damaged his local reputation. You know who we haven't heard from? Charles Young. I fear the board is thinking that he would bring stability to a district that cannot stop the freefall. If that is so, I don't think the board has paid attention to Young's effect on the district.

Posted by Master of Disaster, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 15, 2014 at 8:14 am

Kevin Skelly should be required to publicly defend his decision to place Winston in a classroom rather than suspend and terminate him.

Everyone associated with that choice owes an explanation better than "it's fine." to the parents of Jordan and PAUSD. Let me ask you this: what if it was your severely disabled 13 year old daughter in that classroom? How would that strike you? The cynicism implicit in that decision is so profound that I feel Skelly has really driven the bus into a ditch.

[Portion removed.]

Posted by Tidy Bowl Man, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 15, 2014 at 8:29 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 15, 2014 at 8:35 am

Sexual harassment is a bad thing, I agree. But I think this is being taken out of proportion. These types of comments have been around for eons and although they are not pleasant, it is nothing new in society. There was nothing physical going on and nobody was physically hurt. A generation ago this would not have been news.

Much more serious, in my opinion, is the culture of drugs, alcohol and sex that is being accepted by so many of our parents and school officials. Also what about the cheating culture in our schools?

Where is the outrage about kids smoking pot and doing other drugs? Where is the outrage about under age drinking? Where is the outrage about teens having sex? What about cheating - particularly when parents are seen to be condoning if not actively encouraging their kids to cheat? There seems to be an acceptance that these things will happen and it is wrong, wrong, wrong.

On top of that, there are bicycles being stolen regularly at all our schools and nothing appears to be done about that. Phones are also regularly stolen, but bicycles can't be carried around and kept in a backpack. Why aren't there security cameras at bike racks?

We have a lot of very disturbing things happening at school. We should be making our schools safe at every level.

Posted by Palo Verde Parent, a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 15, 2014 at 9:00 am

@Paly Parent
"Much more serious, in my opinion, is the culture of drugs, alcohol and sex that is being accepted by so many of our parents and school officials. Also what about the cheating culture in our schools?"

I couldn't agree more. Drugs, alcohol, and cheating are huge issues in our high schools and there doesn't seem to be a plan to address these issues.

Posted by Tidy Bowl Man, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 15, 2014 at 9:33 am

Paly Parent and Paly Parent:

[Portion removed.]

Every one agrees that these issues are huge not only in our district but everywhere in the country.

Let's not deflect attention away from the toilet bowl which has come to represent our district metaphorically. This behavior can only end if some individuals who insist on conscious decisions being made to benefit our students carried out in complete transparency come to the election process. We cannot limp along any longer with the crippled crew aboard this sinking ship. [Portion removed.]

I only hope that someone like Mr. Dauber will be willing to stand once again and speak truth to corrupted power. We need a change. We need a reformer. If I were Ken, in light of the way he was treated during the last election, I would have to do some real soul searching to discern whether I could withstand the character assassinations that came about during the last election. Michele, who is a very good woman and total child advocacy champion, was made the devil because of her direct way of letting her opinions be known, She has always been right in my opinion about things that need improving around this district but some people just didn't care for the way she delivered her opinions. Hey, I have heard strong language before (how many of you have never ever used or heard the F word before?). I would be most grateful if we could have someone like Ken (who has shown up at the school board meetings faithfully advocating for positions that everyone agrees at core value are right seek election again.

I shudder to think of that the next story is going to be about this Winston fiasco. He's on the front page of the Post today and the headline is about the feds looking at him........wasn't Skelly's involvement with the Office For Civil Rights (OCR) enough involvement with the feds for this district to last us a short while?
[Portion removed.]

Posted by new, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2014 at 9:59 am

Tidy Bowl,

"I only hope that someone like Mr. Dauber will be willing to stand once again and speak truth to corrupted power. We need a change. We need a reformer. "

I voted for Ken Dauber, and I would not vote for him again. I think he would not be able to stand against the establishment(teachers, admins, union power), and would engage in the endless congratulatory rounds that go on and on at the board meetings, with endless references to research and zero innovative fixes to problems.

If you look at these threads, there are a handful of people who are really angry and at the extremes of opinion about what you called the toilet bowl. Much about stirring, but it does not represent most people.

Take a look at JLS mom of 2 on the Winston thread. Her posts dominate that thread. In theory, she would not even be a Paly parent but has a lot to say about Winston.

The toilet bowl has a lot of stirrers, and it's unclear that what makes sense for some angry posters makes sense to others. The election will bring the issues forward, and this time Ken Dauber has a record with the focus and style he has chosen. Not sure it's of a reformer. Someone who clearly cares, but not necessarily a reformer.

Posted by Why, a resident of Professorville
on Apr 15, 2014 at 11:08 am

Why do you think Mr. Dauber would "would engage in the endless congratulatory rounds that go on and on at the board meetings, with endless references to research and zero innovative fixes to problems" ? I have not noticed that he is overly congratulatory on his public comments.
Please respond - I would not wish to vote for another ineffective board member.

Posted by Googler, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 15, 2014 at 12:04 pm

I know Ken Dauber and can't imagine a more false idea than that he would just be another board member who praised staff no matter what. Of course he knows how to praise when appropriate but also is a very independent and good thinker with sound judgment and business management experience. He would have been the independent and wise voice this board is now lacking. I am convinced that had he won none of this mess would be happening now.

Posted by easy whey you have no skin the game, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 15, 2014 at 12:09 pm

My experience with Ken is the opposite. I have found that he panders to his niche group and then lets everything else flow as "not interested in that". Elementary schools anyone?
He would be quite ineffective on the board.

Posted by new, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2014 at 3:07 pm


"would (Ken Dauber) engage in the endless congratulatory rounds that go on and on at the board meetings, with endless references to research and zero innovative fixes to problems"

Two positions Ken was outspoken about have raised questions about his areas of interest and style of approaching problems. One is taking Advisory to Gunn and de-laning Enlgish at Paly. You can view his congratulatory statements to the teachers about the research based English proposal on the recording of that board meeting. His wife supporting the research based proposal as well, commented that there was no research to support what another parent speaker brought up.

I'm not a fan of using research when it may ( I say may) not be applicable to certain situations, or when it can hide other underlying problems with specific situations. In the case of Advisory, I believe the research was student surveys.

He may be right about both positions, but I found his thinking not as deep or considerate of opposing views which could hold the key to appropriate solutions.

Confrontation is part of reform, but it's not all that is necessary. I dislike that confrontation and stirring of the pot has become the way to approach things.

Posted by Why, a resident of Professorville
on Apr 15, 2014 at 7:59 pm

I really appreciate your replying to my query. Thank you.
However, I am not sure I understand your response. It sounds as though you are saying research is good, but may not be applicable to certain situations? Are you saying that the student surveys that were coallated by Mr. Dauber, and revealed that Paly students were more satisfied with their counseling than Gunn students, were not the proper research to use?

I'm not sure how one could tell that he is not "considerate of opposing views" based on the 3 minute comments that he is allowed to make during the school board meetings. Since the Board does not engage in any discussion with the commenters it would be difficult to determine if any of the speakers are able to appreciate opposing views.

Since so few of our citizens seem interested in running for school board (at least that's what the last several elections suggest) and Mr. Dauber is a possible candidate in the next election, I wonder what he would need to do for you to support him again?
What are you looking for in a school board member?

Posted by Evaluate this!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 1, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Weekly, is it true that Kevn Skelly will be paid his salary during the 2014-2015 school year? Is it up to 18 months? And what is the public status of Charles Young? We are hearing so little from these two.

Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on May 1, 2014 at 10:40 pm

@Evaluate this! -
I am taking this opportunity to let you know that I took the liberty to use your "old pesky First Amendment" written on Feb. 22nd, above, in my post relating to the atmosphere, culture of silence, the closure of the thread that informed us about PAUSD Board Secret Meetings and few other unfortunate derivatives –

I wrote many times my belief that anything and everything is possible where there is no accountability, no transparency etc. Fear of retaliation is just one of the very reasonable outcomes of such culture.

Posted by Money for Skelly, Young, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 4, 2014 at 9:58 am

Skelly will be paid in 2014-15 and the board will keep Young around for stability.

Posted by Evaluate this!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 9, 2014 at 7:07 am

Closed session agenda item from May 6: Associate Superintendent. Weekly: Can you tell us what became of that? Did the Associate Superintendent gets his contract renewed? It's public information and is newsy. He is not out there in his Weekly Communication or board performances like he used to and I am speculating that means he is about to receive more money from PAUSD.

Posted by Money well spent, a resident of Barron Park
on May 9, 2014 at 10:45 pm

Yes, they probably will get more money, but as long as he leaves the district forever it is money well spent for the mistake that our board members make when they hired Skelly. This district never had so much problems in such little time. We are becoming famous for the wrong reasons, and our students are not being respected and treating as they deserve. Just take a look at Winston case. Our special ed. students have been affected by putting them at danger when they sent Winston to "work" with them. Do not forget the students rights violations. Of course the district only contacts the media when they are not found guilty, but there are other cases that where they had found PAUSd guilty of the allegations, but the district stays quiet.

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