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Parents demand Menlo Park reinstate gym teacher

Original post made on Feb 26, 2013

City employees are often reminded that they work for the public -- usually when the public wants the employee terminated. But in the case of a fired gymnastics teacher, the public wants her back at work. ==B Related story:== [Web Link ==I Menlo Park deletes emails posted about gymnastics teacher==].

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 4:55 PM

Comments (17)

Posted by Alejandro, a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Please reinstate Michelle Sutton!

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2013 at 6:44 pm

What a nasty tempest in a teapot, resulting in real harm. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

FWIW, I've never heard anything but praise for Sutton, amongst my Menlo friends & family w/kids in gymanastics.

This sentence is laughably, pettily telling: The termination took place against a backdrop of conflict within the gymnastics program.
Puhlease! It's gymnastics for children. If the whiners & the management aren't careful, folks are going to start calling Menlo "the new Palo Alto" as some people I know already do.

I'm so glad to read that life has been happier recently for Ms. Sutton. Good luck, Ms. Sutton!


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 26, 2013 at 8:11 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Maybe the Helicopter Parents could move to another community.


Posted by ndnorth, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2013 at 10:52 pm

I donīt know what exactly happened or what exactly was said but the fact that Ms. Sutton is a beloved and I am assuming competent teacher does not mean she wasnīt unprofessional in the situation described. It happens sometimes to excellent professionals. But the nastiness has already begun.The Almanac publishes the names of the parents and part of their letter- wasnīt it a private letter to the city? The parents didnīt send it to the newspaper. Where is the concern for their privacy and that of their child? This attitude by the Almanac sounds to me as a vendetta against the parents who wrote the complain letter with consequences of ostracism not just of them, but also their child. Shame on the Almanac. Stick to the facts- describe exactly what was said- and stop taking sides.


Posted by Whatwasthat, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:28 pm

ndnorth - maybe you should understand more about *emails* to City Council members and the public's right to know. Maybe, too, the parents shouldn't have taken drastic action w/a letter that the public has a right to have access to. Maybe they shouldn't have demanded that the teacher *lose* her job, & asked that corrective action be taken. Maybe the helicopter mama shouldn't break the rules, then complain when she's told to follow the rules. Maybe instead they should've just contacted the teacher's supervisor & complained. Maybe they should've gotten a reality check when the teacher told the mom she was breaking the rules. Maybe they shouldn't have started a fight, realizing instead that they're a couple of putzes.


Posted by bigger picture, a resident of El Carmelo School
on Feb 27, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Conversation leads to awareness,
and awareness leads to rethinking.
Rethinking then leads to change.

Many thanks to Menlo Park parents for beginning the conversation...


Posted by Support, a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 27, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Employee *contemplates* filing a harassment charge and poof! is fired for enforcing the gym rules. Whistleblower protection, anyone?


Posted by member, a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 27, 2013 at 1:25 pm

"conflict within the gymnastics program" and "six days prior to being fired, she asked the city's human resources department how to file a complaint of harassment against her supervisor". If this termination is a result of Supervisor Karen Mihalek's actions, there very well may be grounds for a case against the City. This should be addressed quickly by the city council.


Posted by stretch, a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Re-hire Ms. Sutton and ask those parents to remove their child from the class, if they are unable to understand simple rules and abide by them. How ridiculous to pander to a couple of whiners who believe that rules only apply to others, and not to them! I'm sure they'd be the first to complain if something happened because of another parent's disregard for procedure. I am appalled by the action taken against the gym teacher, and all because of parents who seem to be teaching their child(dren) not to follow rules or take responsibility for their actions. Too much!


Posted by Non-helicopter Parent, a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 27, 2013 at 5:20 pm

This is really disappointing. Thousands of kids have taken classes for years from Sutton and also from her late daughter -- these teachers were wonderful and the classes were great. Erika Boda and David Maigret should be ashamed of themselves. Think about it: wealthy, entitled parents getting aggressive, vindictive, and legalistic toward a relatively powerless teacher. Demanding someone be fired for asking them to honor the basic rules? I am so sorry if this whole kerfuffle leaves them feeling alienated and isolated...kind of the way Sutton must feel right now.


Posted by Cheesy, a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 27, 2013 at 6:39 pm

What a crummy, cheesy way to treat a great and well-respected teacher. All this trouble caused by one parent! It is not as if several parents had complaints. Most parents and kids adored this teacher and had nothing but great things to say about her.

The powers that be have very poor judgment.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2013 at 11:30 am

Of all the poor judgment to do this kind of thing to a great teacher AND to the kids! We have not had classes with this teacher because we no longer have such young children, but I remember the deep sadness when Palo Alto's wonderful gym teacher, Russ Wright, suddenly passed away. Kids develop an attachment to these teachers, and no thought at all was given to how they would be affected by this. For shame.


Posted by Mom of two, a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 1, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Hopefully the City Counsil of Menlo Park will step in to investigate and rectify this situation, starting with re-hiring Michelle Sutton. It seems the firing of this beloved teacher has unveiled a situation of total mis-management in the Menlo Park Community Services Department, including the bullying and intimidation of the staff.


Posted by Burgess Gym Parent, a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 1, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Fyi - there is a public Facebook page for anyone interested in hearing more feedback from parents on this issue:
Search Facebook for "Bring Back Teacher Michelle"

The group is encouraging anyone who wants to show support to attend the City Counsil meeting this Tuesday at 7pm. More details are available on the Facebook page.


Posted by Former Gymnastics teacher, a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Mom of two nails it. There are numerous current City staff who have been harassed and bullied on the job. This is happening in other areas, not just gymnastics.


Posted by N.D., a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 3, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Michelle Sutton has had a positive impact on the lives of so many children and parents though her work at Menlo Park Gymnastics and is a integral part of the Menlo Park community.

Seeing the community come together in support of a beloved teacher, friend and neighbor has been so encouraging.

I have heard the City's motto: 'We Create Community Through People, Parks, and Programs', and the City Council has opportunity to actually give those words some meaning.

The Community that has been created though the Gymnastics program can be made whole again, the Council has the authority to intervene to make this right.

Now is the time for the Menlo Park City Council to demonstrate their ability to lead.


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