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New civil-rights complaints filed against Palo Alto district

Original post made on Apr 16, 2013

The Palo Alto Unified School District received notification last week that federal investigators are probing two new cases brought to them by district parents last month, according to the district and confirmed by the federal Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights in Washington, D.C.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 8:43 AM

Comments (141)

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Posted by Duveneck parents
a resident of Duveneck School
on Apr 16, 2013 at 9:25 am

We already know that at least one of these complaints concerns Duveneck because Chris Grierson sent an email to the entire Duveneck parent community denying that the school did anything wrong. To quote Mike Birbiglia, what he should have said was nothing. But instead what he said was that OCR is merely responding to ""...a national rally cry on the issue of bullying."

OCR does not investigate national rallying cries. It investigates individual complaints of discrimination. In this case, Grierson has called the family in question liars for filing a complaint that he says is spurious. That is an ill-advised thing to have done since (1) people know who the family is and that is further bullying and stigmatizing them. A more appropriate statement would have been "A complaint has been received. We take all complaints of this nature very seriously and we will work cooperatively with OCR and the family to see that it is resolved correctly. (2) He's probably wrong. PAUSD has no proper or effective policy in place. We have already been caught out several times on this. There is too much smoke for there to be no fire. Is Grierson that sure that he hasn't made any mistakes at all, not even procedural mistakes? Has the family complained in writing? If so, why wasn't the complaint logged as a UCP complaint. Ooops. Mistake number 1. I guess it's not just a "rallying cry." Maybe you should do the taxpayers of this district a favor and stop issuing statements so that we aren't sued.

The facts of this case aren't likely to paint Skelly/Young et al in any better light than the facts of the last two.

When will Kevin Skelly and his team be replaced? How many lawsuits and complaints are we doing to have to settle before this board does what it has to do?


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 9:36 am

I don't think we should judge the principal or the school district until more is known. But, there certainly seems to be a suggestion that all over the district, kids who are "below average" in some respect, whether it is academic achievement, sports, or just plain "competitiveness", are feeling bullied.

As we put more pressure on kids to be more competitive in every aspect of life, it seems that a byproduct is that some are getting the idea that it is OK to bully the less competitive. It is time to stop and consider what we can do to stop this ugly trend.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 9:53 am

Without details .. there is nothing to do but engage in idle speculation. At least the public was notified about the pending/on-goinng OCR action this time.

Best to wait until these matters are resolved, and then discuss the public details/resolutions that are publicly available at that time.


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Posted by PA Dad
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 16, 2013 at 10:32 am

PA Dad is a registered user.

Bob, the district didn't notify the public. This article and my post last night did. Also, it very much appears that Chris Grierson issued his denial to Duvy parents only AFTER the PA Weekly contacted the district for comment.

And with this request from the Feds, details will come out:

"In the new disability harassment case, the Office for Civil Rights has requested the district turn over a large number of documents, including notes from all conversations and meetings and emails with the family, all complaints made by other families at the school, student and staff rosters, attendance records, transcripts and a description of the process school administrators are supposed to use to investigate disability harassment complaints. The request asks the district to reply by April 25."

In particular, if the school and district comply, requesting "all complaints made by other families at the school" will yield some interesting information.

Perhaps the OCR thinks there are other impacted children because of the "national rally cry". Or perhaps they have sufficient information to cause them to broaden the investigation.

So the score is:
1 - Wrongful discrimination on the basis of perceived medical condition. (Guilty)
2 - Wrongful discrimination on the basis of race. (Pending)
3 - Wrongful discrimination on the basis of disability. (Pending)

Perhaps they should go for discrimination on the bases of gender and then income-level to get a straight-flush of unlawful civil rights violations.

I wonder what Sandra Pearson has to say about all of this? My guess is that she would not be in favor of further denials by district administrators, attorneys, or PR people.

Thanks to the PA Weekly/PA ONline staff for investigating and publishing on this topic.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 10:38 am

> The District didn't notify the public ..

The Board of Trustees is the oversight mechanism for the public.

As the article states --

Superintendent Kevin Skelly said the district received letters
from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) last Wednesday
and he immediately informed school board members.
---

Of course, exactly how the Superintendent notified the BoT is not in this article.

Until these matters are resolved by the OCR--all we are going to get is rumor, hearsay, and a lot of vitriol towards the District.


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Posted by Duveneck parents
a resident of Duveneck School
on Apr 16, 2013 at 10:57 am

PA Dad, didn't you see the Verde story of bullying of rape victims who came forward? That is sex discrimination. And we have these international field trips that cost thousands and vilate the pay-to-learn law all over the place. Believe me, PAUSD is going for the discrimination gold.

The question is what shall we do? Dauber's group keeps calling for an independent investigation and keeps getting ignored. Everyone over at 25 Churchill is in the bunker. If we don't have the independent investigation soon a federal district court will be holding it for us. Ironic that no one in our school admin seems capable of learning.


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Posted by It's Not Bullying!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 16, 2013 at 10:59 am

The District is being investigated for possible violations of CIVIL RIGHTS of two of its students. If proven true, then these students have been denied their civil right to a public education.

In the case already resolved, there was a pattern of inattention to complaints and concerns about a disabled student, which created a hostile environment for that child to learn.

People, this is NOT bullying. It's a civil rights violation by the District.


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Posted by Overdue for change
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 11:03 am

Folks,

It's time to change the top two leadership spots. Bring in the Santa Clara County Office of Education to provide interim support. The arrogance that Kevin Skelly has displayed and his incompetent handling of these and other matters makes the case for an experienced superintendent. Remember, he was a rookie, this is his first gig. Same with Charles Young. Check the weekly for his bio. Know that he was all that was available after two searches because the principals mistreated Ginni Davis. And now, I see Skelly's star, Christopher Grierson, who is barely in his second year, screw up this latest case and flippantly and arrogantly dismiss this serious OCR complaint as a whim of the OCR. These OCR complaints are now a pattern, the arrogance is a pattern, but even the apologists will have to admit that one fiasco after another has been too much in the last six years. The Skelly experiment is over. Pay him the $500,000 and be done with it.


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Posted by Duveneck parents
a resident of Duveneck School
on Apr 16, 2013 at 11:25 am

Sandra Pearson for interim superintedent. Leaadership. Trust. Experience.


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Posted by j99
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 16, 2013 at 11:33 am

People just have too much time on their hands when they complain about civil rights violations in a left wing city like Palo Alto. With the City Council's obsession with "affordable housingi" and equal rights [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] it has become a terrible place to live. Go walk around Saratoga and Los Gatos and see how normal people live. Recall all left wing City Council members.


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Posted by In a Hole
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 11:41 am

It's definitely time to change leadership. The Board has been totally spineless. It's time to end this crap. It's hard to find a more dysfunctional organization than PAUSD. We're in a hole and we continue to dig.

@Bob:
You are correct that the Board is the oversight mechanism for the public. However, not everything told to the Board is shared with the public (as is appropriate). Thus, the Board is not the same as the public.


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Posted by Unbelievable
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 16, 2013 at 12:07 pm

For a school district where people pay close to a million, or over a million dollars to purchase homes so that their children can be in a "great", and high achieving school district; and where supposedly the PA community at large are open-minded, so called supporters of equality, and liberal policies, these 3 OCR complaints certainly paint an opposite picture. Of course, 2 complaints are not investigated or resolved yet. But still, 3 such complaints for one school district in such a short span of time? Those parents who send their kids to private school are ahead of the curve.


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Posted by NG
a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2013 at 12:24 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by former Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 16, 2013 at 12:26 pm

As a former district parent, I am upset when I hear about alleged violations of civil rights OR bullying occurring in this district - these are things that should not happen - they should be resolved/corrected.
What is always more interesting when dealing with government/school bureaucracy, is the privacy shield they have -- someone like me, an interested member of the taxpaying public -- has no way to learn important details as they are hidden. I understand that victims may need to be kept private/identities hidden, I am concerned rather with the other side, the government bureaucratic side that goes merrily along with seemingly little light shed on operations/their behavior.
Mr. Skelley is a highly compensated administrator with all kinds of luxury benefits and he should step up and do his job more effectively.
The side chatter about "training sessions" on anti-bullying and whatnot make me sick - this district should be better operated in the first place, and wasting time and taxpayer money on bureaucratic "training" should not be necessary in what we are constantly lectured is a "top" district with top funding, too.


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Posted by Barron Park grandpa
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm

The school board is clearly NOT the representatives of the public. They act like Skelly's subordinates.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Just a point of order. The following is from the US DoEd 2012 Performance Report--
---
Web Link

In FY 2012, OCR received a total of 7,833 complaints alleging discrimination, comparable to FY 2011's all-time high of 7,841, and resolved 8,161 complaints, some of which were received the previous year. As shown in the chart below, close to half of the complaints received by the Department allege discrimination due to disability. In addition to the issues addressed through complaint processing, OCR resolved or negotiated the settlement of 32 proactive compliance reviews, which are among the most significant public statements that OCR makes concerning civil rights compliance. OCR also initiated 6 proactive compliance reviews, and conducted 42 proactive technical assistance activities.
----

Missing from this precis is how many of these complaints were closed with "no action". We would have to assume that at least 50% of the complaints are without merit--but it would be nice to get actual numbers from the DoEd.

There are about 65M youths in the US K-12 public education system. Eight thousand "complaints" out of 65M should give us a sense of just how infrequently this avenue is taken, at the national level.


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Posted by Grow a spine, and stop it all now
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 16, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Maybe the Board of the PAUSD, or better yet the city council should do an intervention, and simply show Skelly the exit door; put in a place an interim PAUSD director who is not currently on staff; and let's move forward now. Why wait for another filed complaint, and which one of these complaints if not satisfactorily resolved for the complainant will lead to a civil lawsuit? Stop this now.


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Posted by PA Mom
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 16, 2013 at 2:19 pm

To j99:

"Go walk around Saratoga and Los Gatos and see how normal people live."

Have you not heard about the rape and subsequent suicide at Saratoga HS? Instead of pointing fingers and ranting on an anonymous chat room, how about reaching across political lines and city limits to be a part of the solution. You are mired in fear.


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Posted by JerryL
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 16, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Will we ever hear the simple truth about what happened at Duveneck and why some family has filed a complaint? There are a lot of vague innuendos flying around and it is very difficult to judge whether there is a real problem or not.


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Posted by Floyd Norris
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 16, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Does anyone know what happened in the first OCR case mentioned in the story? Weren't there 2 cases before? Why did the school district wait for a judgement from OCR before making an agreement? Why didn't the superintendent tell the school board what happened? Is that situation fixed now or is the district still dealing with OCR about that? Did the school board take any decisions about the superintendent's job?
Sorry for all the questions but I'm pretty confused about all of this and am having trouble getting the full picture.


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Posted by Duv Parent
a resident of Duveneck School
on Apr 16, 2013 at 4:44 pm

As a Duveneck parent with special needs kids, I have worked with Chris Grierson and his predecessors to address issues with my children. Chris has been willing to engage, offer school resources and make practical changes in the classroom. Our school has had 4 principals in 8 years. Short of egregious behavior (which I haven't seen personally) we need to keep our principal. Stability is very important in the lives of children. If we had a change of principal, next year's 5th graders would have their 4th principal in 6 years.

The site counsel members and PTA leadership tend to be the worst possible choices. Nevertheless, they are elected by the parents. The bad apples stand prominently versus the many kind parents who happily avoid center stage.

My kids are happy there. They are very fond of Chris Grierson. They have their heart in the right place. I have seen them stand up for other kids. I have personally dealt with bullying. It is exceedingly difficult.

We need to rally around and support the family. A witch hunt will not help anyone. We need to choose to be part of the solution. As a member of the Duveneck family, I am willing to lend a hand to any parent who is struggling. There are many more like me.


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Posted by former Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 16, 2013 at 4:51 pm

"Citing privacy concerns," (from the article)Skelley refused to disclose any details/info. As I posted above, how convenient to have this cover.There needs to be a way to have more disclosure to the taxpaying public (of possible misdeeds of school/government officials), while of course protecting victims who desire privacy.
It's like, oh we settled something, and paid out a lot of $$$, but the public doesn't get to hear what happened and who was responsible. This way, the taxpayer pays as a result of lawsuits, rather than an individual teacher (for example), who hides behind privacy. Yes, I know union rules are part of it. Still, very different from the private workplace.


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Posted by when will the fat lady sing!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 5:28 pm



I will add to the rumor mill.

It appears that when a special needs student case is particularly difficult, and teachers (or site admins) cannot properly attend to the student and family needs, teachers in particular can refuse to handle the situation, which makes sense because it's hard for them to pay attention to one student, over the rest of the class.

The public OCR cases have demonstrated the district offers no real support systems for these students, except to leave the pressure on the specific sites. Pressure, no support, child gets hurt. Multiply this by all the various sites and grade levels. It seems chaotic. This likely has been happening all the time, we just never heard about the plight of these families.

About the only support Chris Grierson may get from the district is the newly hired district PR person, once the ....has hit the fan. But any chance the district could have better management?

New ways to support students with special needs, other than PR?







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Posted by when will the fat lady sing!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 5:35 pm



former Paly parent,

"It's like, oh we settled something, and paid out a lot of $$$, but the public doesn't get to hear what happened and who was responsible."

You hit the nail on the head, (due to privacy concerns) we actually have no idea the amount of money that is being spent on the private schools that special needs students end up being sent to, or other settlements.

Weekly, please follow the money.




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Posted by Edmund Burke
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Floyd: You ask a number of important questions. I will answer them one at a time.

The first OCR case mentioned in the story was the case of a disabled middle school girl who was severely bullied, including physically, socially, verbally and emotionally on the basis of her disability. She was taunted, teased, excluded, hazed, punched, kicked, and pushed. She was physically injured in one bullying episode so severe that that the police were called and a doctor visit was required. She was called "retarded" and stupid and other similar names. The family complained repeatedly for years, which only got them labeled and seen as troublemakers. They complained up the chain in the district and were repeatedly shooed back to the school to "work things out" and "trust" the school. The school board president Dana Tom, the Superintendent, and the District Compliance Officer Charles Young all failed to treat this as a discrimination complaint even though the family at one point warned the district that it was considering going to OCR prior to filing the complaint because they felt that they had no choice.

Once the complaint was filed, the district did not appear to take it very seriously. It appears that the district was overconfident that there was nothing to the claim. The Assistant Principal was not truthful with investigators. The Principal told the investigators that her staff did not need any disability discrimination training because they were "very sophisticated," and not much information was given to the board. The district did not engage in any form of early resolution, apparently due to the fact that it was confident that there would be a finding against the family. When the finding came, district leadership did not inform the board or the public and tried its best to get through compliance with the resolution agreement without having to admit what had happened.

Charles Young's email informing the board of the finding was quite revealing because he said that word had come of the finding and that the staff was sure to be disappointed. He expressed no remorse for the pain endured by the child or the family, nor any need to make things right with them or to reform the district's policies. A reasonable question can and should be raised about whether Charles Young has performed competently as the district Compliance Officer.

There were 2 cases before -- with these two the district now stands at 4 complaints in the past year. The second case involved disability discrimination as well, but in the provision of a 504 plan and in the procedures for considering 504 plans rather than in the disability harassment context.

Both cases are tied together by the failure to have proper complaint procedures. Both kinds of discrimination (hostile environment and denial of FAPE) are supposed to be handled under the Uniform Complaint Procedure, mandated by California law. Discrimination complaints, when they are in writing, cannot be handled merely at the site level and informally. They must be placed into a formal complaint procedure that has procedural protections for the victim and family. This procedure is not optional. The district treats it as optional at best.

In answer to your third question: The district waited for a judgment (called a finding of noncompliance) in the first case but not the second. As I said above, it appears that the district was overconfident that no one would believe the family of the bullied child. In PAUSD the pattern is to isolate and stigmatize those who complain. The Duveneck principal's email, which was obviously written by the district's lawyer, is an effort to do this to the Duveneck family, and not a very subtle one.

First, by revealing the school the family feels it will be revealed at least within the school community, further cutting the family off from support and friendship. Then, by revealing the type of discrimination (bullying) more information is revealed to threaten the complainat's sense of privacy and security. Then, by claiming that the school is doing all it can and that the OCR is motivated by something other than a fair and impartial investigation, the principal implies that the family is not to be believed. It is hard to understand what he plans to cover in his "coffee" about this topic. But the entire effect is to isolate, stigmatize, and delegtimate the family's complaint.

Your fourth question is whether this is fixed. No, the systemic issues identified by OCR have not been "fixed" . The district's effort to hold on to its "site based" policy has led it to construct a new series of conflicting and incomrehensible policies and regulations that do not satisfy the law. The district has committed itself to use the UCP, which is the law. The district is still not doing this and OCR will most likely not approve the district's effort to handle written complaints of discrimination at the site level on an informal basis. Moreover, the policies are an incoherent mess that even a lawyer cannot read or understand. The district is currently still engaged in digging the hole. It appears that it will be some time before they start to try to fill it in.

In part, the fact that the problems are not yet "fixed" is evidenced by the fact that complaints continue to roll in. If the district was behaving like a rational actor it would have ensured a district level review of every bullying situation in the hopper when the first claim came to light and would have worked night and day to ensure that none of those complaints was handled according to any procedure other than the UCP, and that each was resolved to the satisfaction of the family. Instead, they just carried on as normal with no UCP, no oversight, and no resolutions thus allowing more claims to be filed. And because the practices were not reformed, each of these claims is likely to be valid for the same reasons that the other claim was valid.

Your final question about Dr. Skelly is that the board praised his apology for the first and second cases and for not telling them about those cases. Many people might ask whether Dr. Skelly should have been dismissed for breach of his contract for not informing the board about the finding of noncompliance and the Resolution Agreement. Many people might ask whether that shows that he committed malfeasance and is in dereliction of his duty. The board did not think so.

Now there are more claims. As noted above, a very reasonable question is why when the first claims were lost and the district was informed that it had a serious systemic problem by the federal government it did not launch a full investigation into what happened, who made the errors, what the errors were, what cases were in the system but were not being handled correctly, and how to get those cases on track before they matured into more claims. Ken Dauber, Andrea Wolf, Patricia Davis, Kathy Sharp, Wynn Hausser, Amy Balsom, and many other citizens and parents called for just such and investigation at the time.

Had they been listened to, these complaints would likely not have been filed. Now matters are worse.

Now is the time for that investigation. Just from a litigation avoidance perspective the district is in a needless mess and headed for worse. If district's counsel is approving this course of events (and leaked documents suggests that they are) then a reasonable question has been raised about whether the district is being well-served by its current lawyer, Laurie Reynolds of Friedman, Fagan, and Fulfrost.


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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2013 at 6:44 pm

The letter from the Duveneck Principal gives me the impression that he is not taking the victims complaints seriously, when he write "As I see it, the OCR is addressing a national rally cry on the issue of bullying."

Perhaps Mr Grierson can recite to us what he did to investigate the complaint from the student(s)/parent(s), how many complaint(s) he's received; because the OCR is involved, the Parent(s) must not have felt that Grierson was taking them seriously, so they escalated the matter to the OCR.

I have no doubt that Mr Grierson is probably a fine principal to many of the students, but that does not in any way relieves him of his responsibilities to all of the students.


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Posted by John
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 16, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Thank you, Mr. Edmund Burke,for an informed and reasoned analysis.


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Posted by Le plus ca change
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 7:43 pm

The OCR isn't involved because of bullying, they're involved because the district isn't following civil rights laws.

The OCR is involved because the district has certain procedures for protecting vulnerable children, such as those who require special ed or disability protections to receive a free and appropriate public education like everyone else. Every district has those procedures - district personnel write those procedures - to comply with core educational/civil rights laws. The OCR is involved with this district because unlike most of the other districts in the country, this one is not following those procedures and hence those laws, in fact, has so blatantly disobeyed them as to pretend to parents whose children need those protections (and apparently to the government when they investigate) that they don't even know those processes and laws exist.

It goes beyond just not following their own procedures and acting like they don't exist when parents ask. Despite the earnest-sounding rhetoric, the new trainings, and modified handbooks, one special ed parent put it well in an earlier thread on this issue when she said, when you need special ed services, they treat you like the enemy. It's true, and it hasn't changed. And that gets them into a world of hurt, which will only get worse, because they haven't reformed, they've simply worked harder at making it appear to the government that they have.

I never would have believed it if my family hadn't experienced it. Underlying intent is really important here. The result of treating parents like the enemy leads to anything but "collaborative and positive student-focused discussions and solutions." District personnel involved in "protecting" special ed and disability rights would need a monumental shift in attitude to even approach "collaborative", from Charles Young, Linda Lenoir, Holly Wade, Brenda Carrillo, on down.

It has been my family's experience that district personnel, in being so adversarial, end up going off into their own little world, where they make up their own narrative about the situation, subject the process and school personnel to their biases, and pretty much ignore the facts and what families are actually going through - until the OCR came along, they pretty much got away with it. In fact, despite the OCR, they seem to still be trying to get away with it.

Think back to that case with the boy who had the cystic fibrosis gene. That family didn't complain to OCR, but they could have. They ended up taking the case to court -- and the judge sided with the family. What we don't hear is that the boy lost a lot of school because the district dug its heals in - treating the parents like the enemy - and went out and got experts who only heard the district's side of the story and thus rendered opinions reinforcing the district's biases. Instead of working with the family, they dismissed what the family and their doctor said, dug into their own insular world -- poisonous to families' relationship with the school and district -- and reinforced their biases, to the detriment of the child. Could there have been legitimate disagreements? Sure. But district personnel begin by taking an adversarial tack and don't seem to have any mechanism by which they hear and respect any side but their own, so they don't know how to work through those disagreements, they only try to "win", even to the point of being underhanded, even to the point of denying district children key civil rights protections.

The cystic fibrosis gene case ended up costing the district legal expenses that could have been avoided. More importantly, it caused a family to have to battle and feel alienated from their school community when it wasn't necessary. It wouldn't have happened if there had been anyone in the district who had the kind of respect for families that could lead to true collaboration. If district personnel had simply sincerely followed the letter AND spirit of the law. Many families don't have the money to hire a lawyer to enforce a child's rights - for every case you hear about, in how many more have children's right simply been violated?

I find it very interesting that there are more complaints, but not surprised. We are on the verge of filing a complaint ourselves, in fact have been thinking about it for months and have been preparing one but hoping district personnel would change (either in behavior or actual personnel). In our case, the attempts to make it appear as if they are following process while continuing to maintain the old antagonisms and prior mistakes and biases - the attempts to give the appearance of due process without actually adhering to it - have amounted to denying our child's rights. It's been a painful, hurtful year.


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Posted by Le plus ca change
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 8:14 pm

@Edmund Burke,
Instead of hiring a PR person, the district would have done well to listen to the Last Lecture of Professor Randy Pausch:

"Proper apologies have three parts:
1) What I did was wrong.
2) I'm sorry that I hurt you.
3) How do I make it better?
It's the third part that people tend to forgetů. Apologize when you screw up and focus on other people, not on yourself."

(Did our superintendent remember #1 or #2 either? I can't even remember, it didn't come across as sincere and about the families who had been wronged.)


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Posted by Jodie
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2013 at 8:36 pm

My child goes to a Palo Alto elementary school
My Child has a learning disability
My Child has been teased, picked on, made fun of because of his or her disability.
My Child some times cries because of the bullying
We have complained to both teachers and principle with vey few results.
The school has never done no more then ask the kids to please be nice.


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Posted by Edmund Burke
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 8:42 pm

@Le plus

I read your post with interest. I believe that if you file your claim you will receive the help you are seeking and I hope that you do what you believe is necessary to obtain necessary services. It should not be necessary however that is the course that has been elected by district leadership as you clearly have set forth. Many people are quite fearful of retaliation but in my experience retaliation is less likely once there are external authorities monitoring the situation rather than more likely. Filing a complaint should bring relief because the district should wish to avoid more negative publicity associated with more investigations, more findings, and more Resolution Agreements.

You are correct that Dr. Skelly and his senior leadership have not apologized for failing to have proper procedures or for harming the child and have not made amends in a sincere way. His apology was to the Board for not informing them about the Resolution Agreement.

That was the offense for which reasonable questions can be raised about whether it was misconduct and dereliction to fail to inform them. Many people might have the opinion that it was dereliction of his duty and a breach of his contract that would have allowed the district to dismiss him without financial penalty. That ship has now sailed as the board accepted his "apology."

There is much to be desired in every part of these situation(s). However, the most important thing to note is that all that has transpired since December 26, 2012 was optional. Any competent chief executive when told that his company has been found liable for, for example, selling a defective product, would immediately order a halt to all production and distribution of that product and an immediate investigation into how many pieces are on the market, where they are, what complaints have been received, what settlements are possible. Even the Catholic Church did as much.

PAUSD seems to have done nothing but just carried on in its decentralized business as usual, just waiting to be blindsided by complaint after complaint. It is very puzzling indeed.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 16, 2013 at 9:17 pm

I remember when my older brother & his friend were bullied by a creepy older kid, in high school. My dad threatened the bully to w/in an inch of his life. He never bullied them again. Sometimes the old days are missed. Perhaps the parents of the bullies need to be confronted, as a separate solution than current goings-on. Of course, I wouldn't be surprised if they then sued the parents of the bullied...


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Posted by Jamie
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 9:41 pm

@jodie

I am so sad for you and your child - this is my experience

My child goes to a Palo Alto elementary school

My Child does not have a learning disability

My Child has not been teased, picked on, made fun of

My Child tells me some of the kids with special needs are not treated well

My Child told his teacher about an incident on the playground where a special needs child was treated poorly

My Child was told he/she did not see what he/she said she saw. My child was told he/she must have misunderstood.

I spoke to the principal about the environment on the playground and I was treated as if I were 3 years old

The school has never done no more then ask the kids to please be nice. Some kids are very mean.

PAUSD is toxic on this issue


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Posted by Saratoga native
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Apr 16, 2013 at 9:46 pm

I was raised in Saratoga and graduated from Saratoga HS. I have been following the tragic suicide of Audrie Potts following her sex-based harassment bullying death. I noticed that Chris Grierson's statement denying responsibility reminds me of the principal of Saratoga High who according to the Merc also issued an odd statement denying any bullying:

"Days after investigators met with the Saratoga High administration, Principal Paul Robinson told a reporter for this newspaper that rumors of bullying leading to Pott's suicide were "as far from the truth as it can be." He went on to say, "What led to that point is a million different things that happened over a lifetime that led someone to a decision to take their own life."

"Since the boys were pulled out of class and arrested last week, school district administrators have had little to say. In a prepared statement, district Superintendent Bob Mistele said the district was cooperating with law enforcement and would "work diligently to maintain a positive climate at our high schools." But neither Robinson nor Mistele would explain why Robinson dismissed a connection between Audrie's suicide and bullying."

Web Link

I was intrigued by this so I looked it up and sure enough, Laurie Reynolds's firm, Friedman, Fagan, and Fulfrost also represents my old district, the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School district. I guess everyone gets the same "we didn't do anything wrong and there was no bullying" PR advice from this firm. What is the deal with these lawyers who give such bad advice? Who makes a statement like that about a suicide without having any facts? What a bozo.

What is the process for getting a new district lawyer?


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Posted by i wonder...
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 16, 2013 at 9:48 pm

i can't help wonder if the OCR is picking on PAUSD at this point. Parents, based on the past 6 months, are taking advantage of the situation.

Parents need to start being parents and stop blaming the schools.


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Posted by Saratoga native
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Apr 16, 2013 at 9:57 pm

@wonder

that's silly. The federal government does not "pick on" districts. People are filing complaints because they learned from reading the Weekly about OCR and that filing complaints can get protection and stop bullying. OCR is no more picking on Palo Alto than the Merc is picking on Saratoga or CNN is picking on Steubenville. There are problems that are being reported and acted on. Would you like a federal government that just ignored complaints of discrimination?


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Posted by Jamie
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 10:07 pm

@ I wonder....

...you're kidding, right? Or ..... I wonder.... are you the new PR Director?


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Posted by Duv Mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 16, 2013 at 10:16 pm

Kids can be cruel, kids can be nice. Some kids are academially blessed others are challenged. Parents are either under or over involved. School administrators are not allowed to do anything right. All in all I think Duveneck is a fabulous school with well meaning teachers and administrators. This is life.


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 16, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Totally agree with I Wonder.


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Posted by A parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 10:22 pm

@Saratoga native

The boys in the Saratoga case were arrested on charges of sexual assault, a crime for which they are being held individually responsible. This is a far more severe situation than bullying.

What does this have to do with the school or the principal? I fail to see any connection between the school and its principal and the crime(s) against Ms. Potts.


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Posted by Saratoga native
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Apr 16, 2013 at 10:29 pm

The link I posted to the Merc: Web Link

explains that the parents are filing a claim against the district because the incident and the photographs that the boys took constituted bullying. She left notes and information that she took her life because she was panicked about the photos and her feeling that "the whole school knew." One of the things the boys did was write degrading messages on her naked body and then photograph them (allegedly). This was sex-based bullying, in addition to sexual assault. It is both.

As in the PAUSD cases, the principal denied any responsibility prior to the investigation. Both district's have the same lawyer. Not a coincidence?


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Posted by A parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 10:33 pm

@Duv mom

Couldn't agree with you more. The principal and the teachers are doing their best under very trying circumstances. As "Duv Parent" pointed out, the school has had 4 principals in the last 8 years. If we are really interested in the best interests of the children (instead of taking an axe to Mr. Sculley, as most posters seem to want) let's focus on getting some continuity in our schools. Putting in processes that address the concerns of the parents requires consistent effort with monitoring and feedback, not faculty musical chairs.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 11:27 pm

"Le plus ca change" wrote:

"Instead of hiring a PR person, the district would have done well to listen to the Last Lecture of Professor Randy Pausch:

"Proper apologies have three parts:

"1) What I did was wrong.

"2) I'm sorry that I hurt you.

"3) How do I make it better?

"It's the third part that people tend to forgetů. Apologize when you screw up and focus on other people, not on yourself.""


Unfortunately today's legal system usually doesn't allow Management (school principals, superintendents, etc.) to sincerely apologize for anything, as suggested above, until after there is a legal settlement. A sincere apology could be interpreted as an admission of guilt and increase liability. It is too bad. I'm sure in some cases a sincere apology would avoid the need for a legal settlement.


I do see a possible pattern emerging from these recent incidents as well as other complaints I have heard, including those posted on these forums. It appears that the majority of situations involve students with some kind of special needs: learning disability or disorder, other disabilities, or otherwise on an IEP. It is curious that PAUSD was once known as a magnet district for students with disabilities, attracting students from other districts. Now, everything seems driven exclusively by SAT and AP scores. It is also curious that so many parents who presumably scored off the charts on their own SATs, don't accept that 50% of students are below average. They should realize that the student with a disability could be their own.


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Posted by Le plus ca change
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 11:49 pm

Anon,
You are exactly right that in many cases a sincere apology would avoid the need for a legal settlement. In the malpractice arena, it took years of study before it began to dawn on people that the vast majority of people don't sue when there is real malpractice (rates of suing even when there is clear malpractice causing harm or death is well less than 1% of those cases), and other research -- and real life experience -- has shown that if medical centers/doctors take real responsibility, apologize, and try to fix the reason a problem happened, not only are they less likely to be sued, where there is a settlement resulting in a payout, it's far less when they take responsibility than when they try to stonewall, deny, or cover up.

That's another piece of Dr. Pausch's advice I appreciate: Tell the Truth. Always.

So to your point -- it's not "today's legal system" but the lawyers the district has hired, whose advice is much more appropriate for a nasty insurance company or a shady collection service. But then, they stand to make a lot more money if the district ends up embroiled in litigation, don't they?


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Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 16, 2013 at 11:54 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

" Bring in the Santa Clara County Office of Education to provide interim support. "

BEST IDEA YET AND THE PROPER RESPONSE TO THIS ONGOING CHARLIE-FOX SITUATION! A County Counsel has always been available to make sure that the proper, LEGAL responses are made at the Administrative level.
IT APPEARS THAT SKELLY AND OTHERS PREFERRED TO BREAK THE LAW rather than get the professional advice available. ALL OTHER ADMINISTRATIONS IN THE COUNTY USE THAT SERVICE, WHY NOT SKELLY?

The advice I gave earlier from an assistant administrator in that much larger district to the South WHO PROFESSIONALLY DEALT WITH THE EXACT SAME ISSUES was to get the COUNTY involved to get this issue properly resolved, with getting rid of all people who have had deliberately broken laws a later issue ONCE THE PUBLIC IS INFORMED of people who continue to refuse to do their jobs and still break these laws.
Again, I had asked that administrator who retired ( and was offered $400/day to hold a juvenile court to deal with these kind of DISCIPLINE ISSUES ) if stepping into or advising on this issue is possible...." No Way " was the response. THE ORIGINAL TRAINING WAS WITH SPECIAL ED STUDENTS AND THEIR NEEDS AND ENVIRONMENTS!

You now have proof of malfeasance in office at several levels. So what will be done about it? The OSTRICH approach just leaves everyone's rear an inviting target for getting a criminal and civil action, which Palo Alto TAXPAYERS will be forced to foot the bill.

Yep, YOUR MONEY will have to fill that hole; I advise that Skelly & Co. quit digging it deeper....



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Posted by mom of 2
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 16, 2013 at 11:55 pm

Hmmm:

There are two parents I know of In the PAUSD who were sued for reporting a child for bullying their child; I am one of them. We got cyberbullied by those parents, and they repeatedly showed up at our door harassing me. As a mandated reporter I know that it is illegal to take legal action against someone you suspect of reporting you for child or elder abuse. The same should apply to parents who protect their kids from bullies by reporting them to the school. There oughta be a law . . .

Our child's school also did very little to address the bullying and then treated me with blatant disrespect. If I had known I had the recourse of filing a report with OCR for discrimination, I might have.

The bully went on to bully others, expose herself on campus, develop a reputation as a bully, and then get expelled for drug possession. Thank goodness the family moved out of town. What really upset me was that the school had a chance to try to help that child early on, but instead her disfunction only escalated.

Jamie:

It really upsets me when people post things assuming that all parents who take action to protect their children and seek justice for bullying and discrimination are shirking their parental responsibility and unfairly blaming the school (district). You have no way of knowing what really happened in any of those cases. Would you tell the 1960's civil rights activists such as Dr. Martin Luther King that they were just being irresponsible and that they should stop blaming the people who discriminated against them? How would you like it if someone/some group targeted your child? Please withhold judgment and have a little compassion.


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Posted by Le plus ca change
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2013 at 12:05 am

@ I wonder,

This is exactly why the district is in this mess. Certain persons in power start from a place, just as you have, of knowing NOTHING about the facts in a given situation, but charging forward in bad faith nevertheless, assuming disrespectful things about parents when they have no idea (just as you have).

For your information, when I say "district" I mean district level, not school level. In our situation, many of the school personnel (with a few exceptions) have been great and seemingly walking a fine line with district administrators. District administrators, not parents, hire and show principals and teachers the door after 2 years if they don't want them tenured. We lost some great people along the way who were well-loved and supported by the school community, but didn't fall in line well enough with district administrators.

Dr. Skelly and his assistants, with perks, make more than twice the California governor's salary each. Well more than twice. Complying with such laws is a pretty basic part of a superintendent's job. He's hired to serve the families of this district -- who pay his exorbitant salary through their taxes -- lucky for them that they pay for the privilege of spending their time in conflict with the dismissive administrators rather than just sending their kids to school. Or do you think we should never expect any level of performance from people at the top?


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Posted by mom of 2
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 17, 2013 at 12:39 am

I also don't agree with that "site-based" philosophy the strict level staff have; there's no accountability as a result at the school sites, and it gives principals absolute power when they know they can get away with anything.

If a principal is as rude and intimidating to parents who turn to him or her for help as the one we had was to me, it causes a break down in communication. I heard similar stories from several other parents about the same principal. The assnt. superintendent then told me to approach him and try to work it out, as if I hadn't tried to do that already. only to be treated with more disrespect. People tell me I'm "too nice". One parent who read my emails to him said I was too sweet and forgiving, or something like that. In other words, I don't bring on disrespect by treating others disrespectfully first. When patching up an impasse with a dismissive principal is futile and the district refuses to intervene because of their "site-based" philosophy, that is a problem that needs fixing so that more kids, and parents too, don't fall victim to ongoing bullying.


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Posted by Overdue for change
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2013 at 6:46 am

The fix is in. Kevin Skelly and Charles Young are not going anywhere because they don't have to. There is no accountability from the board because the message they receive from Skelly is that these postings are the only negative reviews. Didn't the recent survey show that almost all parents are satisfied with him?


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Posted by Observer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2013 at 6:51 am

The OCR report in the first case (failing to protect a child being harassed on the basis of her disability) makes it clear that in practice the "site-based" philosophy means that district staff members, including Assoc. Supt. Charles Young and Special Ed Director Holly Wade, simply turn back complaints to the site. They also make no effort to ensure that site staff are actually following the law or the district's procedures. That makes life easier for district staff, but it leaves parents and kids with no recourse if the site staff aren't doing the right thing (except seek and get help from the federal government, which I imagine has been an unpleasant shock to Young, Wade, and Skelly).
This is a tough situation too for site staff who get no support from the district. I wouldn't be too hard on the Duveneck principal until the facts come out, if they ever do.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 17, 2013 at 7:22 am

The site-based policy of Dr. Skelly should be ground enough for his dismissal, not that there aren't plenty of other reasons to get rid of him. It allows bad and ineffective school principles to screw up while the district turns its back on civil rights violations, supposedly for the sake of more school autonomy. It's analogous to the police department allowing residents of different neighborhoods to determine the driving rules in their neighborhoods for the sake of neighborhood autonomy. In Barron Park there' is no need to obey stop signs. etc.


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Posted by Saratoga native
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Apr 17, 2013 at 7:54 am

Just a correction to "Overdue for Change". The recent survey is that there are incredibly high levels of DISSATISFACTION with the district administration and the school board. People are satisfied with the academic education their kids are getting. There are high (and increasing) levels of dissatisfaction with district staff, transparency, the school board. The data is very rich and everyone should read the full report:

Web Link

In particular, only 53% of respondents (one of the lowest satisfaction rates for the entire survey) agreed with the statement that "PAUSD follows fair and transparent decision-making processes." See page 66.

Another low point is the district's response to bullying. Most people think that should be a district, not site, level response, and satisfaction with that response has dropped by an astounding TWENTY PERCENTAGE POINTS in the past four years.

This is about Charles Young. He is not competent as the district Compliance Officer. Kevin Skelly has done a poor job of hiring and managing senior staff, is a poor administrator, and both he and Charles Young should be dismissed. Skelly's performance evaluation is in the numbers on these survey results.


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Posted by Duv Parent
a resident of Duveneck School
on Apr 17, 2013 at 8:11 am

Out of the mouths of babes. My Duveneck kid asked, "Aren't some of those people online being bullies to Mr. Grierson?" Could we kindly bifurcate the discussion of the district versus our school. After reading Edmund Burke's enlightening comments, Dr. Skelly should be taken to task and perhaps shown the door.

I read Chris Grierson's email to parents. I was happy to get a heads up. I am glad this family is speaking out and I completely support them. I support our principal. I hope that everyone can get off the litigious band wagon and support these kids and our school. I have walked a mile in these shoes. I have a 2 special needs kids. Despite the best efforts of their kinder teacher, only one kid would play with my kid. Everyone else shunned her. When I asked a parent to have a play date with my child, she told me that her daughter had no interest in having a play date with mine.

I have one word. Parents. They can be a major part of the problem. They can be a major part of the solution. Choose people!


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Posted by Le plus ca change
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2013 at 8:15 am

I recall saying I was satisfied with teachers and the education. I do not recall being asked anywhere if I was satisfied with the management in the district office.


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Posted by Saratoga native
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Apr 17, 2013 at 8:16 am

Your elementary school child is reading Palo Alto Online? Do we really have to go there?

Agree that the problem is Dr. Skelly and that Chris, who used to teach at Hayes (where we live) and has a reputation for being supportive, might not be fully responsible.


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Posted by enlightenment happens
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 17, 2013 at 8:53 am

@Saratoga native,
You mean you don't discuss news and local issues with your elementary children? When do you think they are ready to talk about this?


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Posted by Saratoga native
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Apr 17, 2013 at 8:57 am

No I do not discuss paloaltoonline postings with my elementary school child. For one thing, I doubt they would care. Civil rights? OCR? But for another, the discussion is not age-appropriate. I might ask them if they think there is bullying at school and what do the teachers do, but that's not the same as showing them paloaltoonline and then having a discussion on whether or not the anonymous parents are being fair to Chris. I call BS on that.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by jake
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 17, 2013 at 8:58 am

Complaints is part of the American culture. And it's hurting the education system badly. Perhaps we have too many lawyers around?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by jewel
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 17, 2013 at 8:59 am

Sometimes it is so sad to read these boards because it makes me realize how out of touch Palo Alto parents are with the real world.


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Posted by One view
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2013 at 9:17 am

Parents are not the problem, and as much as I dislike lawyers, keep in mind that Kevin Skelly and the board have spent millions to protect their positions and jobs, instead of protecting children. These OCR complaints and the one finding are damning. I want to be part of the solution and the solution is to overhaul the board and the senior leadership. Fire Skelly and Young now.


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Posted by Reality check
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 17, 2013 at 9:45 am

@jewel At least in the 2 OCR cases we know about the complaints followed long unsuccessful efforts by parents to work with the district. What should they have done next? Give up? If anyone is to blame for these complaints it is district employees not doing their jobs properly.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2013 at 9:56 am

> The recent survey is that there are incredibly high levels of
> DISSATISFACTION with the district administration and
> the school board

It's a real shame that we don't have two standing questions on every ballot:

1) Are you satisfied with the PAUSD Administration and Board (Y/N)
2) Are you satisfied with the City of Palo Alto Administration and Council (Y/N).

After five years, or so--there would be a fairly significant amount of data to draw up in order to see just how satisfied the voters are, at least.


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Posted by Le plus ca change
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2013 at 10:29 am

When restaurants get health inspections, it's usually after a complaint from the public. One of two things then typically happens: 1) the restaurant is a good place to go because they've just been inspected and have cleaned up any problems, or 2) the restaurant is a bad place to go because they have just been inspected and they figure they can relax because the inspectors won't be back.

Unfortunately, district administration seems to have been doing the equivalent of the latter, at least in our situation. Don't expect the complaints to stop until the motivations of people in charge and their attitude toward families changes -- how do you do that without a change of personnel? I keep hoping it won't be necessary, but they just make things worse for everyone else and themselves.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2013 at 10:36 am

I have posted under another moniker, but I want to ask this question completely anonymously.

Because of a dispute with the district, it has become clear that certain administrative staff has been violating our child's privacy with friends, including in medical circles.

Is there any recourse when district personnel violate privacy in these situations? This whole situation has been bad enough.


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Posted by Edmund Burke
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2013 at 10:45 am

Upon receipt of the first OCR case report, the only reasonable response was to audit the current situation with respect to bullying and discrimination complaints at every site, and to immediately ensure that every case was handled by the book and in accordance with state and federal law.

From a practical perspective this means opening up not digging in. Dr. Skelly should have ordered a review of every case at the superintendent level, should have met with each family, should have offered them whatever it took from a resource perspective to settle their claims without a federal investigation, and should have ensured that every family felt that he was personally invested in ensuring that their child received the services necessary to succeed.

None of that happened. That is a failure by district counsel to conduct the audit. District counsel has a probable conflict of interest in conducting such an audit as district counsel seems to have been advising the district on these cases, and on its policies and therefore seems to have been in charge of digging the hole.

An independent, impartial investigation is required. It should have already happened. These new complaints should never have been filed and a competent team would have either headed them off or would have ensured that they were handled in such a way that they would be groundless. Unfortunately they are very likely to be found to be valid because the same flaws in the PAUSD site-based process that were present in the first 2 cases are also present still to this day.

Up to the present moment in time, PAUSD still does not have a handbook or policy prohibiting harassment based on disability. That has not yet been amended.

Up to the present moment in time, PAUSD still does not use the UCP for handling discrimination complaints, including those of bullying and harassment as required by both state law and the Resolution Agreement.

PAUSD is in violation of state law, in violation of federal law, and in violation of its own Resolution Agreement in OCR case #1.

We must stop digging the hole. In order to do that we need to have a speedy impartial public transparent and independent audit, and we need to make personnel adjustments as needed given the results of that audit.

This problem will not fix itself. OCR will not fix it for us. Only the school board can fix it and the school board seems to have abdicated its responsibility in this matter.


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Posted by enlightenment happens
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 17, 2013 at 10:53 am

@Saratoga native,
"For one thing, I doubt they would care. Civil rights? OCR? But for another, the discussion is not age-appropriate."
Seriously? You don't talk about civil rights, disability, and bullying in all forms with your children? This is very relevant to 4th/5th graders before they enter middle school. They need to understand and made aware of this and if you call BS on that, you are failing your children.


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Posted by Edmund Burke
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2013 at 10:54 am

In response to anonymous, this matter is governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Here is a link to some information about it: Web Link

There is a separate FERPA compliance office within DOE. If you feel your FERPA rights have been violated you can file a complaint. They have a helpline you can call for information or to ask questions as well: 1-800-USA-LEARN (1-800-872-5327)
Web Link

There may also be state privacy laws that are violated. However, without more information about your concern it is impossible to tell whether or not FERPA or another law may have been violated. It appears to me that the Superintendent in particular is quite loose in his observation of FERPA and often makes statements about individuals or divulges information that I consider to be close to a FERPA violation. For example a few years ago during the A-G debate he created a slide for the school board giving the SAT scores of black students in one graduating co-hort that I think could have rendered them individually identifiable with very little effort. There have been other such incidents as well.

FERPA appears to be implicated in the cystic fibrosis case, and in some of the district communications about bullying. It appears to be another area of weakness for PAUSD vis a vis federal law.




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Posted by determinant
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 17, 2013 at 12:13 pm

The school board members have the same problem as Laurie Reynolds, the district lawyer. They knew of these complaints and failed to inform parents of their process rights or to encourage staff to address them correctly. They are blocking an investigation because of their own culpability. Expecting them to investigate themselves is expecting too much.


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 17, 2013 at 12:30 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Highly responsible
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 17, 2013 at 12:39 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 17, 2013 at 2:05 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

PA Dad - there was no finding of violation of Federal Civil Rights law. If there was, there would be consequences from the Feds. These "Dear Colleague" letters are nothing but "dicta" - instructions/commentary that do not have the force of law.

BTW - did you happen to hear the NPR story about state government over-reach on this issue (states involved in that were NJ and IN). This is a widespread debate/morass/controversy.


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Posted by a-no-ny-mous
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 17, 2013 at 2:14 pm

We have a dire situation here. I fully understand that civil rights violations are very bad.

On the other hand, given all the complaining and pressuring it's been subjected to, the district is about to implement new attendance, homework, grading and cheating policies that amount to the dismantlement of what made this district excellent in the past. Basically, anything and everything will be allowed or tolerated. There won't be any more consequences, or next to none, for cutting classes, cheating and generally not doing school work. The excellence of Palo Alto schools will soon be a thing of the past.

It's a sad situation.


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Posted by Edmund Burke
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Paly Parent would like to turn the discussion to anything other than PAUSD's noncompliance with federal and state law. However, Paly Parent has a rough row to hoe, since OCR made a specific finding of noncompliance against the district. OCR found that the district violated federal law by failing to protect a disabled child from disability-based harassment. This harassment deprived that child of her right to an education. You can read the federal report here:

Web Link

In the Resolution Agreement, the district agreed to implement the Uniform Complaint Procedure. That procedure is mandated by state law to be used for cases of discrimination, including discriminatory bullying (Seth's law). The fact that the district does not use the UCP for written discrimination complaints does violate state law. And it violates the Resolution Agreement, paragraph III.A.4 See: Web Link

Paly Parent does not want to talk about those facts or the fact that now two additional complaints have been filed. Paly parent does not want to talk about the fact that the district has had every opportunity to amend its policies in the year since the district was notified that it was found noncompliant (April 2012) in the first OCR case, and in the four months since the report and resolution agreement were issued. Paly Parent does not want to talk about the fact that PAUSD's UCP still does not to this day apply to disability discrimination. See: Web Link

That would have been a one-word amendment to bring it into line with state law but that has not been done. Thus, the district still has no correct complaint procedure covering disability harassment or other disability discrimination. Now another OCR complaint has been filed and that family will be able to correctly contend that PAUSD has no complaint procedure for disability discrimination. Because it does not.

Paly Parent would prefer that no one explain the law to the community other than Laurie Reynolds, who is being paid by the district and who has not been truthful and who called the public's search for truth "tiresome."

I have in the past urged PAUSD residents to speak up against discrimination in all its forms -- whether it is bullying of female rape victims, or bullying of disabled children or other forms of discrimination. Palo Alto is facing a fork in the road. We can either continue on the road we are on and face lawsuits, complaints, PR spin, and endless litigation expense or we can choose to be a community that is open, honest, transparent, and takes responsibility for errors and also commits to fixing them. I advocate for the latter. Which kind of community does Paly Parent want?


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Posted by Determinant
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 17, 2013 at 2:31 pm

I agree three cheers for Edmund Burke!


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Posted by Eileen 1
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Eileen 1 is a registered user.

I am re-posting my comment from a previous article on this subject.
I posted it Monday, April 15th at 10:25 pm on the previous posting regarding the letter written by the principal of Duveneck.

Yes, an outside impartial review of our school district's management around these issues is essential. We now know that three schools have been investigated by the Office for Civil Rights. Are there more that we will hear about in the future? How can it be that a community with our resources, both financial and intellectual, is being run by a group of people that cannot even manage to comply with federal standards regarding the protection of a student's civil rights?

It is a travesty that this is happening in Palo Alto. Nothing that the district's soon to be employed "Communications Officer" can say will rectify this situation.

Perhaps now the School Board will do the right thing and put together a group of impartial community members to look into the district's problems with compliance. I believe that Sandra Pearson, former Principal of Paly, would be an excellent choice to be on this investigative body.


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 17, 2013 at 2:46 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Eileen 1
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Eileen 1 is a registered user.

I believe this community is faced with two central questions regarding our school district.
One, do we want a district that is "honest, transparent, and takes responsibility for errors and also commits to fixing them?"
Two, how much work are we (the many posters on this and other forums regarding the schools) willing to do to achieve this goal?

It is not enough to post your opinions on "Town Square." People must also be willing to come to the board meetings and speak out about their concerns. At each board meeting since this story broke in February there have only been a few people who have consistently come, spoken in open forum, and told the board that they want an investigation and change. Unless more community members invest the time to appear before the board it will be easy for the district leaders and the board to reassure themselves that there are only a hundred or so people that are distressed enough to spend their time writing on an anonymous posting site. Standing in front of them and asking for an investigation or a dismissal is much more powerful.

Please take the time to come to next week's board meeting, Tuesday, April 23rd at 6:30 pm and tell the school board what you are upset with and ask for change.


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Posted by show your support
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 17, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Eileen, if you want to push this, you need to get this onto the agenda. Get sufficient parents to come to the board meeting and request this specific item to be discussed and you may get somewhere. If you can't get a "quorum" of people to back you, the sock puppets on the forums aren't going to help.


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Posted by Too true
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Apr 17, 2013 at 4:11 pm

"show your support" is right. The school board trustees aren't interested in knowing what is going on here, otherwise they would already be asking questions. Probably there is some egg on those faces, as one poster earlier said. A bunch of angry parents might convince them. Since PA parents don't usually show up at board meetings though except for their own personal issues, Eileen and others will have to wait until the next election to get some change. If then, look at how reform did in the last election.


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Posted by Racial profiling
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Apr 17, 2013 at 5:56 pm

The Post is reporting that the 4th OCR complaint is a middle school racial profiling complaint involving a detention and search based on race by a substitute. As a parent of color I find that easy to believe. I heard that a girl was strip searched! could that even have happened in Palo Alto? Anytime anyone says anything is missing its always my son or another child who is African American who is asked. We all know this happens with some teachers. They need sensitivity training especially the substituted who could be anyone. Palo Alto has a lot to learn.

Edmund Burke what is the law of searches and racial profiling in schools? Thank you for helping us.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 17, 2013 at 6:39 pm

How does the Post know about the other complaint? Is the district announcing details? Seems like a privacy violation to me.


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Posted by Thankful Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2013 at 6:45 pm

I want to thank both parents who have done the last two complains with the OCR. This is a very hard thing to do. Especially when you have not been treated fairly. I really hope that you do not experience retaliation on part of the school staff or the rest of the parents. Doing these complains probably took a lot of courage, and by doing this, you are not just helping your children,but you are helping a lot more students who are going through the same situation, and who do not speak up. I know there are a lot more parents who have been treated badly in different schools, but they do not file the complains because it will become public and will be retaliated. Going to higher level, really shows that you care for your child and for the rest of the children or families that are in the same boat. Sorry you have to go through this. No child should be bullied, elementary level is such a young age to start with this problem. Again, Thanks.


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Posted by Thankful Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Yes, I am wondering too, why did they say the name of the schools in these cases, but not in the first complain? I believe that the district now does not want to keep any secrets, may be they have learned the lesson. But they should had kept the names of the school's private, but no, they clearly say Jordan, and Duveneck. With this information, it will be very easy to find out who the parents are, specially if your work in the school, or if you have children who attend those school.


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Posted by Racial profiling
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Apr 17, 2013 at 7:11 pm

I think they are trying to intimidate people from coming forward with complaints. If people know that when they make a complaint that the principal will send an email to the whole school that could really give some folks pause. In the south they got the NAACP membership lists and blackballed people on the lists back in the day. This is more subtle but it's still intimidation.


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Posted by Thankful Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2013 at 7:20 pm

You are right Racial Profiling,
In today's Daily Post, they even give more information about the cases. i am sure they got it from the district. There is no other way. They even say what the race case is about. Yes, you are right, they might be still discriminating. The principal's letter is so bad. She is bullying the family with it too, unbeliaveable. At least Palo Alto On line did not give all this information out to the public. I am wonder if they did not give it, because they did not have it or because they have better ethics. I hope is the last one. This is what makes Palo Alto Weekly the number one paper in Palo Alto


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2013 at 7:55 pm

I can absolutely 100% say that PA Weekly has treated this coverage with the highest ethical standards and concerns for privacy and getting the details right. (I do NOT work for the Weekly.)

That's why families trust them with the information.


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Posted by check your data
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 17, 2013 at 7:56 pm

""This is what makes Palo Alto Weekly the number one paper in Palo Alto"
Actually the Post is. The Weekly only survives with subsidies.


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Posted by OCR info is FOIAable
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2013 at 8:20 pm

The Post probably got its information about the specifics of these OCR cases the same way anyone else can. They just asked the OCR for it.

From the OCR website:

"OCR may be required to reveal information requested under FOIA, which gives the public the right of access to records of Federal agencies. ..

OCR does not reveal the name or other identifying information about an individual ... unless such information is required to be disclosed under the FOIA or the Privacy Act. ..

FOIA gives the public the right of access to records and files of Federal agencies ...

OCR must honor requests for records under FOIA, with some exceptions. ...a request for ... medical records, may be denied where disclosure would be a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy."


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Posted by Edmund Burke
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2013 at 8:24 pm

@Racial Profiling

This case raises two issues. The first is the question of racial profiling and there the key issue is whether the school officials had what is known as "reasonable suspicion" that the child in question may have contraband or evidence of wrongdoing. Although in the school context the requirements of probable cause are relaxed, the Supreme Court recently restated that some individualized information of wrongdoing is required. There must be some "reliable knowledge" that there is "a moderate chance of finding evidence of wrongdoing."

That knowledge has to be based on specific facts and information. It cannot be based on racial stereotyping because that is not "reliable knowledge" that would lead to any chance of finding anything. If the parents' allegations to OCR in this case are that the substitute selected the student for a search for contraband based on nothing more than his or her race, then that is an allegation that, if proved true, would be unlawful. As in other contexts of racial profiling, there must be some specific, articulable, individualized basis for suspicion. There must be information such as "Johnny saw Susie with the cigarette." It cannot merely be "someone had a cigarette and I figured it was probably the kids from East Palo Alto."

This is likely the sort of racial bias claim that OCR would investigate because if true it would constitute racial discrimination in an educational program.

Beyond the claim of racial bias in the selection of the search target there are questions of civil rights that are implicated by the search itself. The Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures obtains in the school context, albeit in a relaxed form. What is "unreasonable" in a school context may differ from that of a non-school context. Nevertheless, students do have some rights to personal privacy and freedom from intrusive searches. The standard, as recently articulated by the Court is that "a school search "will be permissible in its scope when the measures adopted are reasonably related to the objectives of the search and not excessively intrusive in light of the age and sex of the student and the
nature of the infraction." See Safford v. Redding (2009).

In Safford, the principal of a middle school had specific information that a student may have had some ibuprofen tablets, which were prohibited. In the course of searching a 13 year old female student for the tablets, the principal conducted a search of the student's backpack and outer clothing, found nothing, and then sent the student to the nurse's office where she removed her outer clothing and had to shake out her bra and underwear to show that there was no ibuprofen concealed in her clothing. This search, the Court held, violated the Fourth Amendment because it was overly intrusive in light of the nature of the infraction.

The court held that this constitued a "strip search" even though the child did not remove her undergarments, holding that this type of search of a 13 year old girl was so intrusive that the mere possibility of finding some ibuprofen tablets was simply not justified. This has been interpreted by most districts (as well it should be) as a straightforward ban on all searches beyond outer clothing. LAUnified, for example, has promulgated rules that are typical in this regard and permit searches on individualized suspicion only of pockets, purses, backpacks, and jackets. All searches that involve "removing or rearrange a student's clothing in order to permit a visual inspection of the student's underclothing, breasts, buttocks, or genitalia" are banned.

In sum, while the Constitution provides leeway to schools in order to preserve school safety, that leeway is not infinite. It is bounded by the protections in the Constitution. One of those protections is that of some quantum of reasonable, individualized suspicion that is based on some articulable facts rather than upon racial bias, stereotyping, or prejudice. The other protection is that even if a search is based on that kind of individual fact, the search itself must be conducted in a reasonable manner that is tied to the type of harm and calibrated to the age and sex of the child. Searches that involve the removal of outer clothing are always dubious and should be banned by policy where the search is not for weapons or dangerous instrumentalities.

Does PAUSD have appropriate search policies? Sort of. Web Link

The policy correctly requires individualized suspicion to conduct any search. However it does not give staff much guidance as to what may be searched once that individualized suspicion is present. "The types of student property that may be searched by school officials include, but are not limited to, lockers, desks, purses, backpacks, student vehicles parked on district property, cellular phones, or other electronic communication devices."

The policy does not state that searches of persons are limited to outer clothing and does not state, as does the LAUSD policy that removing or rearranging outer clothing is prohibited. Thus, the current PAUSD policy prohibits strip search (but does not define it in light of the 2009 Supreme Court case that includes removal of outer clothing as a strip search).

We will not know the facts of the case until the investigation is concluded, if then.

However, it takes little imagination to believe that some PAUSD teachers may act on the basis of stereotypes. The State of California found as much in its disproportionality finding. Ginny Davis and Debra Lindo stated to the board that PAUSD teachers have assigned minority children to special education based on no more than stereotypes and low expectations. These kinds of implicit biases do influence judgments such as those about who may have taken something or committed some infraction.

I hope this helps you "Racial Profiling."







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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2013 at 11:59 pm

@OCR info,
If the OCR is even half as slow as PAUSD when you make a "FOIA" request, good luck ever getting anything...

You do realize we are talking about a SCHOOL district here, where people are supposed to be serving CHILDREN and their FAMILIES. There is no corporate pot of gold at stake here, unless we're talking about the exorbitant salaries of district administrators. If the families are paying district administrators so much -- with perks, it's like what the President of the USA makes -- that it's buying deception and backside-covering rather than performance, they should throw the bums out and start with a new slate of people who know how to put the kids first and maybe only get paid more when they perform for the families whose taxes are paying their exorbitant salaries.

This is the problem with those administrators in miniature, and district legal -- they don't know how to care for children and their families. That attitude, those adversarial, ad hominem actions -- okay for corporate machinations, not okay for a school district.


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Posted by random attacks ftw
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 8:00 am

"they don't know how to care for children and their families."
Yeah, the board are really in it for themselves...what?
They care far more about the children and families than anonymous post(er)s on these forums.


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Posted by PalyDad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 8:01 am

It seems like instead of a PR Person we should have a Confidential Ombudsperson to interface between families and the district and ensure that there is a safety valve to prevent these kinds of complaints from reaching the point of federal investigations. At Stanford there is a confidential sexual harassment ombuds in the SHPO and that person is very well respected by all and seen as a valuable resource for the Stanford community. PAUSD clearly needs the same kind of officer and much much more than the PR person. The fact that they have elected to go with PR rather than the Ombuds (which was proposed by CAC) shows that they care about appearances not reality. As Ken Dauber said it so well, PAUSD doesn't have a PR problem, it has a reality problem. If it solves that problem it might find it doesn't need PR.


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Posted by historian
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 18, 2013 at 8:19 am

I'm a former Duvy now living in Los Altos and the idea of calling upon the Santa Clara County Board of Education for help with this situation is terribly naive and laughable. The county board is itself bumbling through its own dysfunction - being more the source of this kind of problem than any solution - bought and paid for by a "reform" movement started in Palo Alto by board president Grace Mah herself. Palo Alto schools and Santa Clara County public schools generally have long been exemplary, but the past ten years' experiments with of high stakes testing, API scores, charter schools and a for-profit "education reform" industry have drawn the attention of parents, administrators and lawmakers away from the core principles of equity, free access and diversity. No wonder the students draw vicious attention to anyone who doesn't fit the ideal. We won't see the end of division and predation among students and communities until education leaders stop drawing lines of preference and privilege between. This is what the latest wave of "reform" has brought us. Let's send it packing - and that includes the inciters like Grace Mah. Enough already.


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Posted by SJSU prof
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 18, 2013 at 9:12 am

Yes, what looks like lack of caring by school board members is really just lack of competence. Our school board is all part time or unemployed community volunteers who had time to spend a lot of time in PTA and PIE work. All valuable but not preparation for dealing with federal investigations.


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Posted by PalyDad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 10:25 am

Tomorrow is a national day of silence against bullying particularly of gay and lesbian youth. GLSEN is calling for students to take some form of silence in schools to protest school-based bullying which falls particularly hard on gay youth:

The National Day of Silence is a day of action in which students across the country vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.

Here is more information: Web Link

As the parent of an LGBT young adult who experienced constant bullying in PAUSD for being gender nonconforming I hope that our schools will observe some solidarity with LGBT kids. With all the bullying issues in PAUSD finally (finally) coming to a head, perhaps people will recognize the impact on gay kids of bullying, and the fact that gay kids have the highest rates of suicidal thinking of any group. Groups like the boy scouts that discriminate, coaches like the one at Rutgers who call their players homophobic slurs as insults, elevating Prop 8 funders to the status of community heros for giving money for a gym -- yes, we are watching that with sadness -- all those things combine to make some kids feel that it is open season on gay youth.

I hope PAUSD will endorse the Day of Silence against bullying.


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Posted by anon
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 18, 2013 at 10:42 am

Why anyone would want to work for PAUSD is beyond comprehension. There are plenty of eager and grateful students and parents in other parts of our country that would welcome the good intentions and kind hearts of well meaning PAUSD employees.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 10:55 am

Yes well some of them like Charles Young should probably go to those places then because they aren't competent in their current positions. This is a standard bullying tactic -- no one is criticizing all PAUSD staff. But being well meaning is not enough. Being well-doing is the issue. Not everyone is doing a great job and the sooner we drop that pretense the better. And some people would do a better job if they worked in a better system with better policies.


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Posted by anon
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 18, 2013 at 11:07 am

Sorry, but as an active parent in the community it seems that the staff of PAUSD is "damned if they do and damned if they don't". I have heard of, seen, and been involved in far too many conversations with parents in the district that treat other parents and teachers with rudeness and disrespect. It seems that many well meaning, perhaps hurting parents don't take the time to look at their personal issues from multiple perspectives. They know they are "right". Teachers and leaders on the other hand seem to generally be sensitive and careful in the way they speak to parents. I am sure there are a few who slip up - but from my experience Mr. Grierson is not one of them. If I recall correctly Mr. Grierson welcomed and encouraged the Inclusion Progam that was introduced to Duveneck this school year.


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Posted by former Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 18, 2013 at 11:37 am

wow, "anon," I have to disagree with you. Some of didn't have major issues (past parents, in my case) however were overlooked and on rare occasion of trying to contact a teacher or administrator, received weak response.(Incidentally, our students did not receive any special attention.) I do realize there are some bigtime parents who demand and somehow receive special attention or are overly-complaining, but don't place all parents in that category. I did have the feeling that people coming from a powerful position in society (name, money, position) may have a more favorable opinion of their experience. We are not "nobody"s" but had that feeling at times in this district. Sorry to be blunt. And no, we are not "low achieving" as some parents like to categorize those who are not fully satisfied. I like to go along and get along.
THe teachers in this district, like all school districts, vary along an big spectrum in abilities, work ethic, knowledge, politeness...I guess we all have individual experiences owing to many factors and so it IS difficult to make blanket statements. STILL, there is district leadership and they should be professional, accountable people and some of us are dismayed at the spending of over 100K for a PR person - I believe this is an incorrect use of taxpayer money.
As a past parent, I have continued to follow district activities with some interest - because it IS interesting and we hope that the way youth are education and experience school can continue to be improved! This recent revelation of OCR complaints and/or lawsuits and such IS distressing and one would hope to avoid that.
While not having ANY personal knowledge, I have been greatly concerned about these reports of bullying and/or harrassment and think real steps should be taken to minimize that (some say it can't be stopped entirely). The buck stops with district leadership.


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Posted by Duvy dad
a resident of Duveneck School
on Apr 18, 2013 at 12:31 pm

I agree with 'former Paly parent'. I like Chris Grierson and I think he has done a good job. Based on my observation and on the other OCR cases, I bet this is a another case of district "leadership" failing to provide support to school staff on policies, procedures, and resources. (But I could be wrong, and I'm not married to Chris either. If he screwed up, there should be accountability just like at the district level).
SJSU prof has a point. If you work a job in any kind of business or even public organization, you realize that sometimes people have to be let go because the fit is not good or they just can't do the job. That's not 'bullying' or mean, it's just reality. A school district with a budget north of $100 million is not a family.


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Posted by Hays Dad
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2013 at 1:30 pm

I think that Duvy dad is probably right. While we don't yet know the facts of this case, Chris Grierson has been well regarded as a teacher and principal.
The larger and systemic issue centers on a current missguideded credo of "site based autonomy". It is hard to imagine any rational defense for applying this approach to legal obligations, such as compliance with state and federal civil rights mandates. Policies, programs training and oversight are the responsibility of the district administration. Public communication about a federal investigation should not be left to the discretion of the site principal.
Where appropriate, "site discretion" should apply to policies and programs that foster innovation and allow flexibility in methods of implementing common objectives. Oddly, we have "site autonomy" without a culture of innovation. The common thread here is simply a lack of real district leadership and poor leadership to the degree any exists.


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Posted by when will the fat lady sing!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Hays dad,

"Policies, programs training and oversight are the responsibility of the district administration. Public communication about a federal investigation should not be left to the discretion of the site principal.

Where appropriate, "site discretion" should apply to policies and programs that foster innovation and allow flexibility in methods of implementing common objectives. Oddly, we have "site autonomy" without a culture of innovation. The common thread here is simply a lack of real district leadership and poor leadership to the degree any exists."

You have said it ALL in a nutshell.

I will add that likely, most things can be handled at the site level, provided there are "Policies, programs training and oversight" in place, and working.

However, there are some things you absolutely cannot leave to the site level. And that is an institutional culture of respect for treating students with disabilities, victims of bullying, stress, or a group of kids being left behind with MORE care and attention.

Vulnerable students require exceptional management to avoid the chaos PAUSD is creating for families and students.

The Board of Education is playing with kid's futures, testing families to no end, unnecessarily.


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Posted by Hays Dad
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm

The current PAUSD "site based autonomy" philosophy, along with a too narrow committment to academic achievement success at the expense of broader student well being, has been in place for several years now and we have been witnessing the steady deterioration of many aspects of our school system over that time. Fortunately, we have many very committed and capable teachers and school administrators along with greater financial resources than most school districts which have allowed us to maintain some exceptional aspects within our schools. In many ways, our staff and financial resources have often cloaked the missguided district vision and leadership shortcomings.
One revelation after another over the last few years has revealed what lies behind the curtain. These deficiencies have now become apparent to much of the community. Even those whose visceral respnse was to defend the district from negative exposure are steadily loosing faith.
Unfortunately, the school board has made it clear, publicly and privately, that they continue to support Skelly no matters how bad things have deteriorated. Unless they change that perspective, it may be too late to right the ship for years to come. This is a sad reality for our district that rightfully earned its exceptional reputation over many decades.


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Posted by Do You Care?
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Do you care about how students get treated at our school?
Do you care if students get bullied by other students and the school pretends not to see it?
Do you care if students of color are treated as if they all were thieves?
Do you care if the school and district officials retaliate against parents who raise their concurs at the school level, and they get treated as crazy people by the teachers, school staff, who later pass the label to the school district officials?
Do you care about those parents who have spent many nights without sleeping because of the terrible time their student is having at school by the bullying when they are only in the elementary?
Do you care about those parents who have to take their kids to out PAUSD schools knowing theta their kid is going to be bullied?
Do you care about the parents who have no choice by to keep their students at home against their will because the school staff has turned their back on the student and will not help them stop the bullying?
Do you care about the teacher's aide who kick on the hills of the special education student in order to keep him in place?
Do you care about the little child who has been placed in a regular classroom without being asked, only to find out that the teacher is giving him and their parents hell to make them take them out of the classroom, and instead of teaching hi/her the teacher just gives them the evil eye, and even asks the rest of the students to do the same?
Do you care about the humiliation that our parents and students suffer for not speaking the language?
If you do then come and support all this students who are struggling every day and who would rather die than put a step at the school. If you do, then came to the next board meeting and raise your voice, demand the district to take care of our kids in a professional ways. They might be Latino, disabled, gay, lesbian, have different religion or no religion, be female or male, mature or immature, but one thing for sure is that they have a heart and they do feel the pain inside even if many of them cannot verbalize it. Their parents too, have a heart and some of them even speak some English and can understand when the teacher says, there comes the crazy mother again.
To those who care show it by attending the school meeting. The district officials and teachers are not going to change, unless we the parents demand it. Let's do it in the name our all our kids. School should be a place for learning, making friends, make mistakes, and learn from them, and get better. it is that the chlidren's fault they bullied others, it is that the school officials do not do something appropriate to stoop it. They do not take it seriously, therefore our kids do not learn from their mistakes.


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Posted by Do You Care?
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 5:55 pm

I meant to say "It is not our children's fault they bullied others," it is that the school does not take it seriously and teach them right there at the spot. if they did our students and parents will learn, and the school environment will be a better place for "all"Kids' the normal, and the ones who do not look or sound so normal.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2013 at 6:04 pm

@random,
Speaking of random attacks, please at least read the posts before you make random attacks.

I wrote (among other things):
"This is the problem with those administrators in miniature, and district legal -- they don't know how to care for children and their families. That attitude, those adversarial, ad hominem actions -- okay for corporate machinations, not okay for a school district."

To which you wrote:
"Yeah, the board are really in it for themselves...what?"

If you read what I wrote prior to that, you would have realized I was speaking about our superintendent, assistant superintendent, and other highly paid administrators.

Superintendent Skelly started with a base salary of $248,000, already about 40% higher than the salary allowed the California governor. He got/gets an annual increase, full health dental, life and disability insurance, an automobile allowance of $9,000/year, an interest-free loan of $1,000,000 to purchase a house, "professional development", etc.

We have an Assistant Superintendent making on that order. And we have Associate Superintendents, another Assistant Superintendent, and maybe even more than one Deputy Superintendent.

So again, If the families are paying district administrators so much that it's buying deception and backside-covering rather than performance, they should throw the bums out and start with a new slate of people who know how to put the kids first and maybe only get paid more when they perform for the families whose taxes are paying their exorbitant salaries.

The adversarial, ad hominem attitude they have displayed - okay for corporate machinations, not okay for a school district.

Holding such a highly paid person to professional standards, like following core laws that protect vulnerable students and knowing how to work with families, is not the same as "attacking". Though your equating them does make me wonder about your stake in the controversy.


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Posted by Longtime Palo Altan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 6:24 pm

I wonder where our PTA leaders are on making sure our city's children have their rights protected. I have heard only about Sigrid Pensky (sp?) criticizing parents and excusing the district. The PTA leaders used to advocate for students and parents. Now that seems to be other parents. Getting the PTA involved again would be a great step!


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2013 at 6:24 pm

@SJSU prof, You wrote:
"Yes, what looks like lack of caring by school board members is really just lack of competence. Our school board is all part time or unemployed community volunteers who had time to spend a lot of time in PTA and PIE work. All valuable but not preparation for dealing with federal investigations."

You really need to go back and familiarize yourself with what is going on, as well as how a school district is run. Read the settlement in the bullying case.

The children's civil rights were violated because administrators like Assistant Superintendent Charles Young, the district's compliance officer, were not following core education civil rights laws, even to the point of pretending to parents that they didn't exist. The district writes the procedures by which they follow those laws, and Skelly was embroiled in some serious litigation in his previous district, so it's not credible (or professional) that they didn't know them. When OCR investigated, it's clear at least one Assistant Principal lied to them.

The OCR isn't the FBI, their job is to just get districts to comply with the law. They RARELY have to get to the stage they did with PAUSD, because usually districts decide to follow the law far short of it. It's really unheard of that they would come here in person like that. They can fine districts, though, but they don't like to do that. Their whole purpose is to get districts to follow the law.

The "lack of caring" comes from a whole ethos of treating parents whose kids need those legal protections like they are adversaries in a court case. Except that there's no court case and no judge to ultimately tell such an out-of-control party acting in bad faith that they are wrong, and the vast majority of the time, what's at stake is the child's education and wellbeing.

Their adversarial behavior is totally inappropriate. Districts are legally charged not only with following those laws, but also being proactive about extending those protections to children who might be eligible (the opposite of only extending them to those who can fight tooth and nail for them, as has been my family's experience, the experience of those who complained to the OCR, and of so many people I know in the school community). Many parents who come here from back East have asked WHAT is going on with Palo Alto and why are they like this.

As for the school board, they do come across as well-meaning but spineless. Try complaining to them sometime, you have 3 minutes to say something and if it's not on the agenda, you may as well save yourself the breath. If you contact them outside of meetings, expect them to go back to the staff your are complaining about to tell them what they should think about your complaint. They weren't responsible for the civil rights violations, though, which were the responsibility of administrators and they weren't even informed about. The board doesn't run the schools, they are only (supposed to be) watchdogs.


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Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Thank you anonymous and do you care. You said our frustrations better than I could. I know 2 school board holders and I agree, nice but not big enough to stand up for parents and our kids.


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Posted by Hays Dad
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2013 at 7:30 pm

@Longtime Palo Altan.
I share your concern over the absense of the PTA Council being an active advocacy group on behald of students. Unfortunately, in recent years their role appears to have morphed into being the most strident defenders of Skelly and the district administration. I do not believe that the site PTA's necessarily share that perspective today. Jay Thorwaldson recently had an op-ed on the bullying issue that featured Sigrid Pinsky's position. You can read the details, but it basically mirrored the board and Skelly's attempt to reframe the OCD consent agreement outcome. She attempted to redirect the issue toward bullying prevention efforts (which are essential) rather than how inadequately the district has responded when bullying has resulted in civil rights violations.
When the Weekly obtained Skelly's "condidential" memos to the board, I recall reading Skelly saying that he would "recruit" Pinsky to be the next PTAC president. The answer to your question is that Skelly seems to have made the PTAC leadership an arm of the administration and the PTAC leadership is very comfortable with that relationship. This condition has become more problematic in recent years as PTAC has become the almost the only channel for election of a school board candidate, with the exception of Barbara Klaussner. In the end Barbara made it clear how broken the board governance has become and how dominant Skelly has become over the board. So much so that she declined to run for a second term and we lost our most independent thinker on the board.


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Posted by Thankful Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Long time, I do wonder too about the PTA. They are awfully quiet. I have not seen them at the board demanding the school oficcials to do their job or else. All they do is come and give the big check that all our community gives, Skelly like always poses for the picture, pretend all is well, and off the go. I would love to know what PTA thinks about this issue. They are the ones who should be doing something about it right now, and not wait for later.


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Posted by a-no-ny-mous
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 18, 2013 at 8:27 pm

My experience of PTA leaders in this school district is that they are the biggest bullies as parents, and that their kids are among the students who tend to do the bullying at schools. Unfortunately.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 18, 2013 at 8:30 pm

And people wonder why it is hard to find a parent interested to serve as PTA president.


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Posted by PTAC rep
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2013 at 9:27 pm

@Anon, actually I think Sigrid accepted as soon as Skelly asked her to take the job. Do you know something different?


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Posted by Sara
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2013 at 9:34 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by also frustrated
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2013 at 9:37 pm


Do you care?


Maybe it's time to have a rally at the next PTAC board meeting?

We have heard clear and eloquent messages from people who show up at the board meetings, but nothing gives.

Heck, the recent survey has teachers and staff more dissatisfied with the district than parents, and still nobody cares.




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Posted by Not Again!
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 18, 2013 at 10:59 pm

This third, forth complain clearly tells that our schools and their administrators need to improve, and someone needs to make sure that our students are treated fairly. How much longer are we going to wait for the superintendent to really earn the money he get paid for. Are we too intimidated, like the school board, to let him go and try someone else. He was bad since the beginning when he said that Latinos, and African Americans, could not achieve like Asians or other white kids. He keeps making mistake, after mistake. Does any one have any idea how many cases has he set out of court and how much money has been spent to settle out of court since he came to our district? Can we get that information? I am sure there is more skeletons in the PAUSD closet, and it is time to get them out.


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Posted by I.B. Brocovich
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2013 at 11:03 pm

I am afraid that it is only a matter of time before we the voters and taxpayers of this community do what needs to be done......namely remove Skelly and his side kicks and demand that this spineless school board straighten up and fly right. We cannot afford to continue in this business as usual mode.

I am noticing disturbing parallels between Saratoga HS, it's admin. from the top down. Isn't it time that we nip this in the bud as before the Voodoo Lilly that this is reaches full bloom and wreaks of decaying meat? Indeed, we deserve better in Palo Alto.

Edmund Burke, I do appreciate your careful analysis of facts. Please continue to shine the high beam on PAUSD. If it were not for people like us everything would be swept under the rug.

By the way, when is Skelly's contract extension going to be retracted in light of the fact that he received that extension based on lies (by omission of facts such as the Letter of Finding by OCR)??? His claim that he didn't reveal the news of the OCR findings because he was "embarrassed" is beyond belief!

Can we have some kind of public event at which we examine the OCR findings? That would be a real service to our community.


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Posted by again....
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 19, 2013 at 8:49 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Addison PTA mom
a resident of Addison School
on Apr 19, 2013 at 9:58 am

The school PTAs are not the same as PTAC. We are really working on improvements and filling gaps at our school. PTAC is more about overall districtwide issues. It really
should have a service and education focus, which it does but some of the women on it treat it like a career and it can get a little out of hand when they think of themselves as "part" of the school district and get defensive.


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Posted by Jordan mom of 3
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Apr 19, 2013 at 10:21 am

PTAC is pointless. In a district where everything is site based what is the purpose of a PTA council that is district-wide? Here's my 2 cents: PAUSD is undergoing a crisis. We have a bunch of civil rights violations based on race and disability and sex. Yet our district-wide PTAC leaders haven't said one word to support parents and kids. Youth well-being should be at the top of the list. Bullying prevention is great. What do you do when prevention didn't work? Why is the PTAC leader defending the district? Why is she saying to Jay Thorwaldson that the district "has gone above and beyond"? How does she know that? Is she the new PR officer. I am disgusted. You can bet we won't be giving to PIE this year.


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Posted by unbelievable
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 19, 2013 at 1:16 pm

" You can bet we won't be giving to PIE this year."
Yeah, that's right, let's make the kids suffer for the districts failings. That'll show 'em.


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Posted by Jordan mom of 3
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Apr 19, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Sometimes you have to use your money to make a point. The PIE board is one of the most powerful organizations in PAUSD -- probably more than the school board. If the PIE board told the school board that it had lost confidence in Kevin Skelly and Charles Young they would be on the next bus out of town. So PIE board, step up and defend the rights of disabled children. Stop handing over 5 million dollar checks to incompetent leadership that squanders it on PR officers. Then we will be glad to give you money. I personally pledge $5K to PIE if the entire PIE board will sign a statement calling for an independent investigation into the OCR complaints and disability-based bullying and objecting publicly to the hiring of a $150K PR officer. $150K would pay for a lot of therapy for the victims of disability-based bullying.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 19, 2013 at 2:27 pm

It's too late for this year. Next year's PIE money is going to support school board candidates who are for real transparency and accountability in the 2014 election. A better school board would have a bigger impact on kids than a few extra dollars for PR or bloated salaries.


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Posted by crescent park dad
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 19, 2013 at 2:37 pm

I have to agree with Observer and Jordan mom. I can't support the PR officer or the legal fees.


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Posted by Forgot name
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2013 at 4:57 pm

(Forgot other anonymous name, but please don't delete)

I've posted on a few of the other Skelly-Young-OCR threads and I am hopeful to see a trend that Skelly and Young's competence is below standards. Frankly, this last year had cemented Skelly's six-year reign as the worst I've seen. With Young, there has never been a question that he brought nothing to the table in terms of talent. It's sad because he no doubt followed Skelly's direction, but Young is the Manon charge of complaints and OCR and he blew it again and again. Both these two should have been pinkslipped by March 15, but the board did not and does not know what to do. Heidi Emberling is the worst of all because I voted for her as a person of change, but I was desperate for change. Heidi is like Young in that she, too, is over her head and brings nothing to the table. If anyone on the board would resign, they would stand apart as a hero.

What needs to happen now is Skelly and Young being out on administrative leave. Bring in a retired superintendent from the Santa Clara County Office of Education or bring in "coaches" Marilyn Cook or Irv Rollins to be the Interim. People like these need to step up and get off the sidelines. Our community has been failed by our PTAC, the PAEA (who just got their money so why should they care?), PiE (who will tell you that they don't do politics yet that is exactly what they do), and PAMA (who are they, well, they are the principals who had a snit-fit over Callan but are beholden to their colleagues whose actions have generated these complaints.

PAUSD brings in millions of dollars yearly in donations and its educated parents produce educated students, but PAUSD is an utter failure at educating struggling students, especially Latino and African-American boys (look it up), and that the last 11 months have produced valid, compelling Brown Act and OCR complaints cements it as one of the worst districts around in terms of money spent and results earned.

This is the district we deserve.


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Posted by I.B. Brocovich
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2013 at 5:20 pm

@Jordan mom of 3 and Observer: Couldn't agree with both of you more!

Jordan mom: It is commendable that you would like to personally donate 5K of funds that would have gone to help our kids to try to get some answers.

"I personally pledge $5K to PiE if the entire PiE board will sign a statement calling for an independent investigation into the OCR complaints and disability-based bullying and objecting publicly to the hiring of a $150K PR officer. $150K would pay for a lot of therapy for the victims of disability-based bullying."

I will be giving my former PiE pledges to the candidates who will be stepping up to the plate in the next election. I would like to see the board and PTA demand an independent investigation; however, I don't think that is something that will become a reality anytime soon. I would hate to lose my big bucks trying to affect a change through an independent investigation. I have a feeling that the board as well as the PTA folks would just shrug their shoulders and say "oh well"if a bunch of awful revelations came up. That has been the business as usual with Skelly calling the shots. I am so disgusted with the whole ball of wax. Methinks the Voodoo Lilly that is PAUSD is already producing odors of rotting flesh.

The only way we are going to change things is with a whole new slate of candidates and new leadership at the top (Skelly etc.). I don't trust any of the current board or administrators to give our children what they deserve which is better (WAY BETTER!). I am beginning to think that those WCDBPA people have been on to the truth for some time now. I wish I had listened to them more carefully when they first started to bring up so many of the recent revelations. We would not be in the pickle we are in now had more people known that they were right all along.

We can make a choice to move forward with "truth, honesty, and the American Way" any time. There is no time like the present! Or, we can do nothing and risk more outrageous actions from Skelly on down. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Thankful Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 19, 2013 at 5:32 pm

I.B. Brocovich,@Jordan mom of 3 and Observer
I do not have that much money, but could make a small contribution and sign the statement too. Should we start a petition such us Change.Org. or how do we get the ball rolling? any other ideas? I think this is the time to do it. May be we should ask WCDB if they have any idea how to do it. They seem to know the law.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by I.B. Brocovich
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2013 at 6:11 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by aha
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 20, 2013 at 7:51 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Jordan mom of 3
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Apr 20, 2013 at 9:31 am

The election was close and I think we all know how it would come out if it was held after these revelations came out. Skelly and the board knew that. Do you think Camille Townsend, who was board president and running for re-election didn't know that if she publicly announced that PAUSD had been found to be violating student civil rights on her watch that she would have lost to Dauber? That's why they didn't come out until December. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by spectator at large
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 20, 2013 at 11:13 am

spectator at large is a registered user.

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by jls mom of 2
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Apr 20, 2013 at 1:54 pm

jls mom of 2 is a registered user.

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


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Posted by spectator at large
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 20, 2013 at 3:09 pm

spectator at large is a registered user.

@jls mom of 2

I guess the PA Online staff doesn't approve of my strong language but the truth is hard to sugar coat. I don't think I was disrespectful either but had a feeling that they would pull my post.

Do you know any of the WCDBPA people or better yet, Edmund Burke? I would like to get involved with those folks so that we can finally start moving this district in a better direction. It breaks my heart to see what was once a district that we could sit back and brag about be torn apart by a lack of transparency and honesty that is so deeply ingrained in the fabric that the stain can never be removed until the offending agents move on.

I agree with jls mom of 2 that Dana Tom shows inadequate regard for the students and is more concerned with saving the district's derriere than protecting our kids. Bottom line (no pun intended) we should all have the motivation to protect all of our students.

As I said before, we can and should be the change agents! I.B. Brocovich......would you help us? Edmund, will you help us? WCDBPA, can you help us?

I find it rather telling that the last time I looked there had been over 2,500 viewings of this thread. That must mean that there are many people in our community who are extremely invested in change here.

"Honesty is the best policy" would be a good slogan to post on one of the PAUSD board room walls. Perhaps in the on the back wall so that the board and supe have to look at it when they are conducting business on our behalf. Don't spend our money on a PR person...... you are inviting criticism with each mention of this. I have not met one friend, neighbor or fellow parent who approves of this outrageous waste of our money. Just get honest and then you won't have to hire anyone to spin your stories for you. Enough is more than enough!


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Posted by jls mom of 2
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Apr 20, 2013 at 4:04 pm

jls mom of 2 is a registered user.

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Apr 20, 2013 at 5:26 pm

village fool is a registered user.

@spectator at large - you noted that this thread had ~2,500 views. Could you kindly educate me as to how would I check the number of views?
Also - I find it very telling that a flood of comments stops once a thread becomes available only to those logged in. Happens every time, especially when it is about schools/kids. Seemed to me that the readers who seem to trust the editor as to the facts provided, lose trust when it comes to logging in.
I started a thread trying to have feedback as to this phenomena. I did that after the info about the what turned out to be the first OCR investigation became available, and the editor asked others who had similar concerns to come forward to the weekly. I think that some of the comments are very telling, and not disconnected from the lack of transparency, mentioned so many times lately. Web Link


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Posted by spectator at large
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 20, 2013 at 5:42 pm

spectator at large is a registered user.

@village fool:

Click on "Message Board View" and "schools and kids" section and it will give you the data.

Currently, this topic has 2,813 views; which, if you compare it to other topics and number of views, is extraordinarily high. The message board view will also inform you of who posted the topic and the name of the most recent commenter as well as when they posted it. You can also have the item you are interested in tracked so that you are informed when a new comment comes in pertaining to your topic of interest. I don't know if you can do this for more than one topic or only one. I have minimal skills in this area.


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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Apr 20, 2013 at 6:09 pm

village fool is a registered user.

@spectator at large - Thank you very much! Few weeks ago, a thread calling Ken Dauber to form a shadow board.
That thread had 2,941 views...
This # stands when checking that days, even compared to articles posted by the editor. I thought I had interesting responses, and actually wondered why it was not linked from the front page, as the number of responses was higher than others threads linked, then, from the front page. Obviously, the # of comments can not be compared to this thread, BUT - the number of views is higher, now. I think the number of views is very telling, especially given the fact that thread was "hidden". Link- Web Link


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Posted by Eileen 1
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 21, 2013 at 9:37 am

Eileen 1 is a registered user.

As "PA Dad" says below, he posted his comment on the previous thread on this subject. I responded to him on that thread, but I am also posting our comments here because I would like everyone who is following this thread to be able to easily find them:


Posted by PA Dad, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, 1 hour ago
PA Dad is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online

Posting here for a couple of reasons. The other thread has become too long and second, most of the comments there miss a key point.

This is not an issue of bullying, this is an issue of violations of State and Federal law. And the law is clear that two individuals are personally responsible for compliance. The Superintendent and the Principal. Kevin Skelly AND Chris Grierson.

So while bullying, mismanagement of funds, weak oversight, conflicts of interest, violations of privacy, and some truly awful other district employees are bad, the United States Department of Education has concluded that sufficient cause exists to investigate actions taken under our policy of site control by Principal Grierson and others.

Note that Skelly said he had no further information, but that Grierson took the time to issue essentially a press release to admit the Federal government was investigating HIS school and to deny blame.

So while many fish may be rotting in PAUSD, and while Chris Grierson may be a fine and upstanding young man, the fact remains that HIS SCHOOL is the target of a Federal investigation. Not of bullying, but of violating Federal laws, regulations and codes.

Site control and the California Education Code are clear about who is responsible for the safety of our children. Not Charles Young, but Kevin Skelly and Chris Grierson.



Posted by Eileen 1, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, 0 minutes ago
Eileen 1 is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online

@PA Dad

I agree with your comments. I think it is extremely important to focus on the fact that this is not about bullying it IS about a violation of state and federal law. It IS about a failure to protect the civil rights of our communities children.

The reason Charles Young is at fault in this mess is because he is the "Compliance Officer" for the school district. His job is to make sure that the schools comply with the state and federal law. He is the district officer who should have been involved with the individual schools - ensuring that they were following the law.

I urge you to come to the next school board meeting, this Tuesday, April 23rd at 6:30, and address the school board directly. Take your 3 minutes during the open forum section on the agenda and tell them that you want an investigation into this mess that will finally reveal to the community how the district got to the point that it failed to comply with the Office of Civil Rights. If more people would actually come to the school board meeting and speak their minds on this issue the school board would have to act. Or, look even worse than the do now.


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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Apr 21, 2013 at 10:39 am

village fool is a registered user.

@ Eileen 1 - Seems to me that the board lost any moral "authority". The board ignored many 3 minutes addresses, and others, calling for impartial investigation. Such investigation is just plane common sense, first response that comes to mind when info about startling systemic issues becomes available. Seems to me that the situation calls for action. Obviously, this type of action will not be initiated by the board. Time have passed. If it was not for the latest OCR investigation, news of last week - this issue would not have been "on the agenda". This thread is not even linked from the from page anymore. It was clear to me that the board was not about to put an investigating committee. So clear that I called Ken Dauber to form a Shadow Board. I did that exactly a month ago. Turns out that that address had many views. I thought I had very interesting responses. I thought that a Shadow Board was a way of keeping these issue on the agenda, and letting the board know that "the public have spoken". Shadow Board may seem to be only a symbolic act. Symbolic acts carry value. I think there is a good chance that citizens will actually come forward to the shadow board. I think it is about HIGH TIME to start to think of out of the board box. Shadow board was my solution - there may be others out there, until the slow legal procedures/processes will take place. Summer break is around the corner...
The following is a link to my open Address to Ken Dauber to form a PAUSD Shadow Board - Web Link
Having written the above - I am totally supporting your call to come to the board meeting this coming Tuesday and speak. Unfortunately - many parents have expressed their fear of retaliation.


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Posted by Eileen 1
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 21, 2013 at 10:56 am

Eileen 1 is a registered user.

One reason for coming to the School Board meeting this week is that it would give those of us who want change an opportunity to meet one another. I think many people in Palo Alto are disturbed by this situation, but they do not have a child in the district any more, and/or they do not belong to a group; for example, CAC, WECDBPA, etc... Coming to this school board meeting would give all of us a chance to meet outside this posting forum and put together an email list of people who would be interested in working together for change.

I would be happy to put together the email list as I will most certainly be at the board meeting.


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