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PAUSD expects to be sued with "significant exposure" in 4 OCR cases

Original post made by Curious on May 11, 2013

The school board is scheduled to meet Tuesday, May 14, in closed session to hear from its attorney, Laurie Reynolds, about expected lawsuits based on the four US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights complaints that have come to light over the last several months. See Web Link. Under the law, in order to have a closed session, there must be "significant exposure" to litigation in the four cases in the opinion of the board and the district's counsel.

An earlier attempt by Dana Tom, the school board president, to schedule a closed session meeting to discuss the OCR cases ran afoul of the open meetings provisions of the Brown Act. Tom was forced to cancel that meeting "on advice of counsel."

The new closed session announcement itself does not comply with the Brown Act, as it does not specify the specific subsection of the Act authorizing the closed meeting. The agenda item mentions the "existing litigation" exception to the open meetings requirement but the district has not yet been sued.

The board appears to be trying to hold a closed meeting pursuant to section 54956.9(b)(3)(B) of the Brown Act. This section authorizes agencies to meet in closed session, but only when there are facts that create a "significant exposure to litigation."

However, the law requires that the board publicly describe those facts, either on the agenda or orally before the closed session. The agenda does not contain those facts.

The complaints involve two cases of disability-based harassment, a claim of race-based discrimination, and another of the district's failure to follow proper procedure in handling claims for accommodations under Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act. By listing these complaint numbers the district is stating that its counsel believes that each and every one of these cases which will be discussed exposes the district to a "significant" monetary liability.

Reynolds is the attorney who handled the negotiations in 2011-2012 with OCR that resulted in a rare finding of noncompliance with federal civil rights law and an extensive Resolution Agreement, not yet complied with. See Web Link.

Reynolds is also the attorney whom the Weekly concluded had misled the public and the board in a public presentation to the Board of Education in February. See Web Link.

The school board is set to follow Superintendent Skelly's recommendation to authorize payments of $140,000 over the coming year to Reynolds' firm in its next open meeting.

Comments (30)

Posted by Time to account, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 11, 2013 at 10:10 am

Curious, you have too much time on your hands! But without this little nugget of information, and the reporting from the Weekly, the Public Records requests, and all the input from posters in the Forum, where would we be as a public? Probably a lot happier with our board, Skelly and Young! Ignorance is bliss!


Posted by Not Again, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 11, 2013 at 10:36 am

Probably students at every school in the nation could complain about bullying. It's just that Palo Altans are too dogmatic. This is water under the bridge but some people just can't let it go. There is no more bullying in PAUSD than there are at other schools in the nation.

If I had a child with disabilities subjecting him to possible bullying, I'd send him to a private school. And if I couldn't afford a private school, I'd leave Palo Alto for a less expensive mortgage or rent. Everyone thinks they can have it all! Guess what? Life is not fair!


Posted by Former teacher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 11, 2013 at 10:51 am

Very true that some people can't let go, some like the ones you described, some like you.

I do agree about bullying being common to our schools, but the response by Skelly, Young, Wade, the board, you know, the people who are paid to respond, has been incompetent and has made our community vulnerable to lawsuits.


Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on May 11, 2013 at 11:02 am

@curious - Thank you again! so my guess last week as to the reason of canceling the meeting was not too bad - settlements. I do hope that the systemic issues triggering potential quiet settlements will not be covered by those settlements.
I asked last week about ways to figuring out $ spent. I am wondering if there is a way to check previous years when all was quiet, figure out how much $ was spent on quiet settlements for those who could afford private lawyers. Seems to me that private lawyers can negotiate, quietly, and get fast results. Addressing OCR does not cost $, but - one needs to know about this option, and be willing to take the risk of privacy loss, unfortunately. Knowledge is power as one commenter noted in another thread. I am wondering if knowledge may have been used in prior quiet years by those who could afford to buy it - private legal counseling.
@not again - some believe that the OCR presented systemic issues. By standing in an education system seems to be a systemic issue, and is not water under the bridge. Not for those who were bullied, who believe that possibly systemic issues enabled that bullying, and that those systemic issues need to be exposed, discussed and changed, if needed.


Posted by Lawyer, a resident of Community Center
on May 11, 2013 at 11:12 am

The district is not financially liable for bullying. It is financially liable for failing to respond to bullying in a way that is consistent with state and federal law. That becomes particularly significant when the bullying involves children in a protected class (for example, disabled or in a racial minority). At that point failing to respond to complaints makes the school district liable to a valid claim of discrimination.
How we have an organization with a budget of nearly $200 million that doesn't understand these basic facts is beyond me, but our district staff is apparently about to get taken to school on the topic.


Posted by Legal Eagle, a resident of Gunn High School
on May 11, 2013 at 11:18 am

isn't this a very competitive market for lawyers? I keep reading in the New York Times about how bad it is and how the firms are all competing with each other and lowering their prices and increasing client services. Why would we re-hire this lawyer who said misleading statements? There must be other firms that would like to bid on this job and would do the work without misleading the board and the public. Also, this firm is very very very aggressive toward special ed families. The district just tells you what you are getting and if you don't like it and you don't sign, then they force you to file for due process. Laurie Reynolds comes to the IEP meetings. Families are intimidated. Due process is hard to win. The district is willing to spend thousands to Reynolds' firm beating down family requests for special ed aides to help their kids -- it would be cheaper just to pay for the aid. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Of course, all that money is being paid to Reynolds' firm on the advice of . . . Reynolds. Hmmmm. Now that helps to explain why our fees have gone up so much.

The district should be cooperating and problem solving not trying to screw people and make them sue.


Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 11, 2013 at 11:28 am

Having lived in multiple places - I find that Palo Alto parents and students are MUCH less tolerant of people they view as less intelligent than in other parts of the country. This is the basis for a lot of the bullying.


Posted by Wondering, a resident of College Terrace
on May 11, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Does the school board really think all 4 of these have a significant risk of a lawsuit? Now? Or is this another try by Dana Tom to let the school board meet in secret by getting around the Brown Act?


Posted by CC dad, a resident of Community Center
on May 11, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Good question


Posted by Ralph Brown, a resident of Downtown North
on May 11, 2013 at 5:10 pm

"A member of a covered body who attends a meeting where action is taken in violation of the Brown Act is guilty of a misdemeanor if the member intends to deprive the public of information to which the member knows or has reason to know the public is entitled." (Cal Gov Code Section 54959)
If the board is properly noticing this meeting they are saying that they anticipate significant financial exposure in all four cases listed on the agenda for the closed session.


Posted by Not curious, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 11, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Curious,

Slow down. There are no insidious underpinnings here.

(Curious says: "'existing litigation' exception to the open meetings requirement [only applies if the district has] been sued... [the agenda] does not specify the specific subsection of the Act authorizing the closed meeting... law requires that the board publicly describe those facts, either on the agenda or orally before the closed session... the district is stating that its counsel believes that each and every one of these cases which will be discussed exposes the district to a "significant" monetary liability")

Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.

First, ever considered that perhaps our school district has been sued. If so, nothing wrong with the closed session. (Agenda item says there is "Existing Litigation" so certainly seems like that is the case. It specifically refers to the matters in question: Cases 09-13-1195, 09-12-1428, 09-11-1337, and 09-13-1224)

Second, closed sessions are OK even if the district has not been sued if a point has been reached, based on existing facts and circumstances, where there is a significant exposure to litigation. CA Gov Code 54956.9(d)(2). The Brown Act says those facts can be as simple as "a statement threatening litigation" on a specific matter.

Significant exposure to litigation just means that you are likely to be sued; it has nothing to do with whether you are likely to win or lose or the amount of damages, if any.

The agenda notice specifies the Brown Act provision it relates to - Existing litigation ("Existing Litigation pursuant to Government Code
§54956.9")

Care to cite where the Brown Act states that the facts that are going to be discussed in the CLOSED session must be disclosed to the public? Not there when I looked.

Oh and there also happens to be NO section of the Brown Act numbered "54956.9(b)(3)(B)."

So why the inflammatory post if it isn't based on fact or law?


Posted by Look Again, a resident of Duveneck School
on May 11, 2013 at 6:46 pm

@Not curious
I'm not sure why you could not locate Cal. Gov. Code. Section 54956.9(b)(3)(B)
It states:
"(B)Facts and circumstances, including, but not limited to, an accident, disaster, incident, or transactional occurrence that might result in litigation against the agency and that are known to a potential plaintiff or plaintiffs, which facts or circumstances shall be publicly stated on the agenda or announced."

If the agency knows facts regarding the case that the plaintiff does not know that could result in litigation,the agency does not have to disclose these facts on the agenda or make a public announcement before the beginning of the closed session. The agency is not required to incriminate itself. Otherwise I think Curious is correct that the agenda description needs to provide the reasons for the litigation or potential litigation. Presumably the facts of the cases that might result in litigation have already been identified in the OCR complaints.

I have no knowledge of the particulars but would not presume that all of these cases will result in litigation. I assume they were filed as a last resort by parents trying to mitigate a bad situation for their child.


Posted by Not curious, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 11, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Look again,

Look again.

The section you mention is in (e)(2) NOT (b)(3)(B) (again there is NO (b)(3)(B)). Perhaps the version of the Brown Act you and Curious are referring to is out-of-date? Those are the perils of doing "legal research" via Google searches.

That "facts and circumstances" section says nothing about disclosing facts publicly. And nowhere in the Brown Act does it say that "the agenda description needs to provide the reasons for the litigation or potential litigation." Section (g), which I presume is the section you are referring to (it has the rules on what the agenda must contain) just says that the litigation be "specifically identif[ied]."

As for reasons for litigation, there are many. It may be the last resort as you say, or it may be an opening move to exert pressure for a settlement merited or otherwise, or it may be that a hungry attorney convinced his client to sue to generate fees to feed his family. There are lots and lots of reasons why people file lawsuits, many which have little-to-nothing to do with the merits of a case.


Posted by Edmund Burke, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 11, 2013 at 9:30 pm

"Not Curious" posts "Oh and there also happens to be NO section of the Brown Act numbered "54956.9(b)(3)(B)."

The section of the Brown Act cited by Curious was amended by AB1344 effective 2012. As to the section in question, only the numbering was changed. The text is the same. So while "Not Curious" is correct that the numbering of Curious reflects the old numbering, you are quite exercised about a distinction without a difference. One thing beginning lawyers need to learn is when to press a point and when not to. When you press a point that is tangential or unimportant like paragraph numbering you lose credibility.

Substantively, both before and after the renumbering, this section provides exactly what Curious says. An agency can meet in closed session to receive advice of counsel on "anticipated litigation" when in the opinion of the board based on the advice of its lawyer there is a "significant exposure" to litigation based on existing facts and circumstances. Those facts and circumstances must be stated either in the agenda or orally prior to the closed session.

Merely listing the OCR complaint numbers (what currently appears on the agenda) is insufficient to meet this requirement. OCR case numbers are not "facts and circumstances." A list of OCR complaint numbers for which the underlying facts are not public does not constitute disclosing to the public those facts.

Not Curious next writes:
"First, ever considered that perhaps our school district has been sued."

This question, while snarky, is revealing. The board appears to have attempted to use the "safe harbor" noticing provision of 54954.5, in which the legislature provides a method of labeling agenda items for closed meetings that if used correctly would satisfy the Brown Act. As clearly stated in the "safe harbor" provision, in order to use the "existing litigation" descriptor, there must be the formal filing of litigation to which the board is a party, pursuant to Section 54956.9(d)(1). An OCR complaint is not even a proceeding before an adjudicatory body, let alone an actual formal lawsuit. See: 54956.9(d)(1).

I think where Curious might be mistaken is where he/she states that he/she thinks that the board made an honest mistake in using the "existing litigation" exception rather than the "anticipated litigation" exception. I think that a careful look at what they have done shows that they believe that they are already in "existing litigation" with OCR. This view is bolstered by the posting of "Not Curious" who sounds very much in tone and knowledge like one of our board members, who styles herself a "legal expert." This use of the "existing litigation" exception is flatly incorrect under the statute.

The law provides that "For purposes of this section, "litigation" includes any adjudicatory proceeding, including eminent domain, before a court, administrative body exercising its adjudicatory authority, hearing officer, or arbitrator."

OCR is none of the above. OCR cannot even take the district to court under its legal mandate (one reason that many districts, apparently including PAUSD, have historically viewed its dictates and Resolution Agreements as irrelevant and not necessary to follow). OCR is not exercising "adjudicatory" authority when it investigates complaints. OCR conducts investigations and can initiate administrative proceedings to remove federal funding or refer a case to the DOJ for litigation.

Neither of those things has happened in any of the 4 OCR cases under investigation and they are not realistically anticipated to happen in these cases. Indeed, investigations have not even been completed in 2 of them. In the other 2 Resolution Agreements have been entered into voluntarily by PAUSD and no adjudication took place by anyone. The OCR Case Processing Manual, Article IV states that administrative processings (something adjudicatory) can only happen "if OCR is unable to negotiate a settlement with the Recipient." See: Web Link

Even Laurie Reynolds, the district's lawyer, admitted in her presentation to the board on February 26 that the process was not adjudicatory in nature. Indeed, she made much of this fact. She cannot now claim that it is "litigation." Thus, there is no "existing litigation" under the Brown Act. The notice by the board is deficient in nature and must be amended.

The correct way to notice the meeting is, as Curious suggests, to use the safe harbor for "anticipated litigation" under Section 54954.5, which is to be used when there is:

"Significant exposure to litigation pursuant to paragraph (2) or(3) of subdivision (d) of Section 54956.9: (Specify number of potential cases)"

"(In addition to the information noticed above, the agency may be required to provide additional information on the agenda or in an oral statement prior to the closed session pursuant to paragraphs (2) to (5), inclusive, of subdivision (e) of Section 54956.9.)"

The additional information referred to in this part of the statute is the "facts and circumstances" that must be disclosed to the public under 54956.9(e)(2).

"Not Curious," you state that the "facts and circumstances" requirement of 54956.9(e)(2) [formerly 54956.9(b)(3)(B)] "says nothing about disclosing facts publicly." You are also flatly wrong about that, a conclusion that will surprise no readers who have slogged along and made it to this point. The statute provides that the agency may hold a closed meeting under 54956.9(d)(2) when "a point has been reached where, in the opinion of the legislative body of the local agency on the advice of its legal counsel, based on existing facts and circumstances, there is a significant exposure to litigation against the local agency."

"Facts and circumstances" are in turn defined in 54956.9(e)(2) which provides that if the facts are known to the plaintiff (which in this case they obviously would be) then the facts and circumstances must be disclosed to the public either on the agenda or in a public announcement prior to the start of the closed meeting. See Cal. Gov. Code Section 54956.9(e)(2)(2012)("Facts and circumstances . . . that might result in litigation against the agency and that are known to a potential plaintiff or plaintiffs, ***which facts or circumstances shall be publicly stated on the agenda or announced."***)

"Not Curious" I have read your posts before. You write with great contempt for the public and also great confidence despite the fact that your posts are almost always entirely incorrect and filled with misinformation. Please educate yourself before you spread further misinformation and try to limit yourself to writing about matters within your scope of knowledge. It is damaging to the public to mislead it this way and it requires a great deal of my time to correct your work.

For more information see pages 21-24:
Web Link


Posted by Curious, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 11, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Wow, quite a discussion. Thank you Mr. Burke for clarifying.
As I reported in my story, "The new closed session announcement itself does not comply with the Brown Act, as it does not specify the specific subsection of the Act authorizing the closed meeting. The agenda item mentions the 'existing litigation' exception to the open meetings requirement but the district has not yet been sued."
I have to admit I didn't consider the possibility that Mr. Tom may be claiming that the district is actually in litigation, since it isn't yet. I think it most likely that the board is meeting to discuss the significant financial exposure the district is facing. But since the notice doesn't include the required information, it is really impossible to be definite about what Mr. Tom thinks he's doing.
In either case, the school board definitely believes that the district is in serious legal jeopardy, and that was the point of my story.


Posted by Not curious, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2013 at 6:31 am

Edmund Burke,

No need to lecture me.

Not only was Curious and Look Again looking at an old version of the Brown Act without caring whether it had been changed (a huge no-no in statutory interpretation and credibility building and casts doubts on their ability to give correct legal advice), their interpretation of the law was off.

As for substance, the board can meet in closed session even if it is not in litigation. So your complaint is that the word "anticipated" should be where "existing" is? I don't know the facts so not sure which one it is but neither change the substantive fact that a closed session is fine.

Despite Curious' inflammatory headline and post ("expects to be sued with 'significant exposure'" and "exposes the district to a "significant" monetary liability"), nothing in this agenda item imputes anything about the district's financial exposure either. You did not refer to this in your lengthy reply so you appear to agree with me and disagree with Curious, who is spared the lecture you misdirected at me about misleading others.

In fact, you somehow know that Curious is flat out wrong and that it is extremely unlikely that the OCR will refer this on, so there is no financial exposure or litigation there ("[acts to remove federal funding or refer a case to the DOJ for litigation] … are not realistically anticipated to happen in these cases").


Posted by Not curious, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2013 at 6:33 am

Edmund Burke and Curious,

Now you've got me curious.

How is it that you two know that the district is not being sued? Are you the attorneys representing the families? Do you work for the OCR? Are you assisting either or both of them?


Posted by Curious, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 12, 2013 at 7:26 am

Hi Not Curious,
I concluded that the district has not already been sued based on two facts. First, there has been no announcement that the district has been sued. Second, the notice for the closed meeting cites OCR complaint numbers, not cases. If the meeting were about actual lawsuits, the Brown Act requires that the cases be cited.
You seem to think that the district has been sued, though, and is keeping it secret. Do you have any evidence for that idea? Are you a Board of Education trustee or a district staff member? If so, I would love to interview you for a story.


Posted by Curious, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 12, 2013 at 7:38 am

Hi again Not Curious,
I missed your first post this morning, sorry. Neither you nor I is a lawyer obviously, but let me correct a couple of your misstatements. The Brown Act has specific and pretty narrow exceptions to the rule that meetings of public agencies be open. One of them is that there be "significant exposure" to litigation arising from facts known either to potential plaintiffs or to the public agency. That's the exception that the PAUSD school board is using, and it is using that for all four cases. It's not that closed sessions are just "fine". I don't quite understand your point, though?
Mr. Burke is saying that it is very unlikely that OCR will prosecute PAUSD or refer one of the complaints to the Department of Justice, because that would happen only if the district refuses to settle with OCR. The first two cases already settled, and (unless you have inside information?) the other two probably will as well.
I do have to agree with Mr. Burke that you seem to be missing the point by focusing on things like the numbering of sections, rather than the substance.


Posted by Not curious, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2013 at 8:04 am

Curious,

Nope. Nope. Nope.

As I said in my post, I don't know whether the district has been sued.

I don't imagine that the district would announce every time it is sued, though the closed session agenda item says that there is existing litigation so perhaps it has been. A threat of litigation suffices for a closed session (read my first post); if that is the case, there would be no lawsuit case number since the case has not been filed.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]



Posted by IB Brockovich, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2013 at 8:48 am

@Not curious: [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

@Edmund Burke: Thanks for your astute analysis and factual renderings once again. I wish you could join the folks who will be speaking at the upcoming meeting. You are a wealth of information. You must be very busy in your professional life; but, please think about joining forces with your physical presence at meetings with the concerned parents and student advocates.

To everyone reading this or intererested in the civil rights of our students, please attend the PAUSD meeting and come to the meeting at Ohlone School on Thursday night (click on banner button for details above). I think it will be a real eye opener. Even Not Curious should attend as he/she would be able to get information straight from a representative of the OCR.


Posted by Edmund Burke, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2013 at 9:03 am

This argument is not the point. Dana Tom failed to properly notice this meeting, which is required to include the subsection of the Brown Act under which the closed meeting exception is being claimed. Had Dana Tom properly noticed the meeting as proceeding under 54956.9(d)(1) or 54956.9(d)(2), we would know whether or not the district has already been sued or merely anticipates significant litigation exposure.

I think that Curious is clearly correct that the district has not yet been sued. Had the district been sued, it would have to list the case names on the agenda. OCR numbers are not case names and OCR complaints are not adjudicatory proceedings. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Let's return now to the reason that the district is in this situation. The civil rights of several children have been violated. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Although bullying occurs in many places, Palo Alto has staff that has been improperly trained to respond. Our complaint procedures are inadequate and violate the law. Palo Alto has a Compliance Officer, Charles Young, who appears to have failed to adequately carry out his job. Palo Alto still to this day has no disability discrimination complaint policy including within its Uniform Complaint Procedures. Despite the failings of the district as to the problems of discrimination against children with disabilities, PAUSD suffers from hubris and believes, against all the evidence, that it is doing things correctly. This hubris is reflected in the statement of the [portion removed] principal to OCR investigators that her teachers did not need any training on disability harassment because the staff was "very sophisticated."

Indeed.

The Duveneck principal who sent a letter to the community giving information about a similar OCR complaint recently filed was also "very sophisticated." That letter earned PAUSD a scorching reprimand from OCR for retaliation.

In these cases we have young disabled children being repeatedly physically, mentally, and socially bullied for their disabilities. This bullying is cruel and hurts the children very badly, interfering with their ability to receive an education. We have parents desperately complaining, in writing over and over to every official with an email address, trying to stop the abuse of their children. It does not stop.

Instead, parents are greeted by the district with nontransparency and hostility. Maybe it is all in their heads. Maybe they are the problem. Maybe they are overprotective. Maybe they have "issues" and are "problem families." They are treated like outsiders. Meanwhile their children cry and don't want to go to school. They get headaches and stomachaches. They feel worse about themselves. They are not learning, falling even further behind grade level. All they want is to have friends, be accepted, and fit in like everyone else. But no one is helping them. Mom is not helping. She says she will help but it never gets better, only worse. Now maybe the child is angry at Mom too, since she keeps promising to stop the bullying but she never does.

These families have filed complaints with the federal government in a last-ditch effort, despite their fears of retaliation, in order to try to help their wounded children, and recover their dignity.

The district has responded with covering and secrecy. The lack of transparency in this instance reminds one of Penn State and the Catholic Church, two cases in which the defendants did not, it should be remembered, do well ultimately. The right response when confronted with bad facts like PAUSD has is to conduct a proper investigation, announce the results of that investigation publicly, and then to make changes as may be appropriate given the facts that emerge in the investigation.

The lack of transparency, of which this improperly noticed closed meeting is just one part, has made this situation far worse. What could have been an opportunity to learn and grow has become a scandal being watched all over the state and country. PAUSD has also shown intransigence in its approach to OCR. PAUSD fought the investigation to the point that it received a Finding of Noncompliance, something that only happened in 1% of disability harassment cases in the US over the past 4 years. That elevated PAUSD's profile within the federal enforcement community. PAUSD still has not complied with its Resolution Agreement in case number 1, and now is on case number 4 with more in the pipeline (and evidently more complaints that preceded case number 1 that have not been disclosed as yet).

This lack of transparency, openness and cooperation extends to other things as well. The Duvenck parent letter criticized by OCR is one example. Another is that PAUSD and Dr. Skelly agreed to help concerned parents host a parent education event about OCR to the community, then reneged on that promise, then the Superintendent stated falsely that he had never agreed, then he said he didn't want to do it because it might generate additional complaints.

What seems to be generating additional complaints is that the conditions that led to the first complaints are still in place. PAUSD needs to have a full, fair, transparent public investigation into what went wrong and then make adjustments into how to fix it.

Until that happens, there is indeed "significant exposure" to litigation and the board is right to be concerned about that exposure. They should properly notice the meeting as anticipated litigation because they are correct to anticipate it.





Posted by Not curious, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2013 at 10:08 am

IBB,

Hard to argue with someone who doesn't take the time to read and at least try to understand my posts. (Read about what "significant exposure" in the Brown Act refers to. Hint: it has NOTHING to do with how much this will cost the district as Curious claims.)

This, for you and others, it seems is more about anger and rhetoric than facts.

Your choice, but please don't bring me into the problem by twisting and mischaracterizing my words (which I have backed with quotations and citations to the CURRENT law).

I'm not trying to intimidate anyone. Rather, I am trying to pull apart the various claims so I can figure out what is true and what is posturing and, while at it, perhaps help others do the same.

Like you, I care about the children in our district. I just think that rhetoric the likes of which is posted here serves no child well.


Posted by Not curious, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2013 at 10:14 am

EB,

Try to resist embellishing too much:

- There are 4 families who filed complaints with the OCR. There are 12,000 students in our schools.

- PAUSD is akin to "Penn State and the Catholic Church"? Wow. Now you are intimating that there have been decades of sexual abuse too.

Please, stay to the facts.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Edmund Burke, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2013 at 10:24 am

I am an advocate only for honesty, fairness and transparency. In that I am an advocate for all parents, children, and taxpayers.

The analogy to other organizations which have failed to be transparent or open during scandal is apt. The sex part of those scandals is not what caused the crisis. It was the lying and covering up that caused the crisis. Mistakes are made in many organizations. How leaders handle mistakes is what determines whether there will be a mistake or a scandal. We now have a scandal where we could have merely had a mistake. That is not Skelly's fault. That is the fault of the school board particularly former board president Camille Townsend who failed to handle the emerging facts competently or professionally.


Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on May 12, 2013 at 10:59 am

village fool is a registered user.

As it turned out, I tried to submit my question/posting, below, while this thread became available to those logged in. That always stopped the flood of comments. I am still intrigued by this phenomena. More log in to comment about crime in EPA than about PAUSD issues. Fear of retaliation was mentioned over and over. Seems that those who may be involved in PAUSD feel that it is "safer" to comment about EPA gang related crimes, then about school issues. I find this very telling as to PAUSD atmosphere, culture. .

Obviously, I am not not any type of legal entity. I'm adding to my question, above.
Seems to me that private lawyers can negotiate, quietly, and get fast results. Addressing OCR does not cost $, but - one needs to know about this option, and be willing to take the risk of privacy loss,
unfortunately. Knowledge is power as one commenter noted in another thread. I am wondering if knowledge may have been used in prior quiet years by those who could afford to buy it - private legal counseling.
Is there e way to know how many, if any, quiet settlements were agreed upon in prior quiet years? Figure out if, or how much $ was spent on quiet settlements for those who could afford private lawyers during past quiet years?


Posted by Jls mom of 2, a resident of JLS Middle School
on May 12, 2013 at 11:01 am

Jls mom of 2 is a registered user.

Actually there's another problem with Dana's notice for this meeting which is that it is noticed for Tuesday May 13 and Tuesday is May 14. The gang that can't shoot straight fires again. What day is your meeting school board? Is it for current or anticipated litigation? When will you tell the community the truth and stop hiding the facts to protect Dr. Skelly? What a mess -- when arrogance and ignorance combine it is not pretty.

Happy Mothers Day to the mothers in the OCR complaint cases. The community supports you and thanks you for bringing this situation out so that our children can all be better off.


Posted by Laura Hershey, a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Laura Hershey is a registered user.

* There seem to be 5 or 6 OCR cases that have been investigated or are under investigation
* Parents of special needs children want to partner with those that teach them, yet are intimidated to do so or overruled by school staff
* How can we know the facts of these cases, protect the families and children, and help the Board with a lessons learned presentation
* Why not stop lying and slinging mud, and just let sun shine on the festering wound so we can fix things and move forward?

From the statements above, it sounds as though we may have an embarrassing total of 5 OCR INVESTIGATIONS, three settled, and 2 in the process of investigation. Any more out investigations out there? Three of the five cases took place during elections and renewing Skelly's contract. The other two taking place while the district and the OCR were negotiating terms of the December resolution, and had signed the resolution.

An institution's past behaviors indicating future behaviors would tell us there are more OCR investigations that we don't know about.

We all look forward to seeing the reports of these cases, and one can only hope the families would be safe enough from continued retaliation to release information and facts about what tried to do alleviate their problems, the district response, and why they were left with no other option but to seek the help of the OCR.

OR, the Board and the district staff can protect the privacy of the families, and tell the public what went wrong, and present ACTUAL lessons learned. -Including what each Board member knew and withheld from the public during elections and renewing the contracts of Skelly and Young.

Parents of special education students desire to have a partnership with those that teach their children, like everyone else in the community. PAUSD special needs parents want a partnership with the schools and teachers that work with their children.

In an IEP or 504 situation, meetings are filled with a round table of district staff sitting across the table of special needs parents, and can be quite intimidating. Too many times the parents' input or requests for help are ignored, and they are left not knowing where to turn for help. When you don't have the money to supplement your child's physical, psychological AND educational needs, parents must find a way to help their children and protect them.

Perhaps the families themselves will have the courage to present their stories, and the district have the courage to make a change to work with these families. The community of Palo Alto would have to embrace them, after being made outcasts by district retaliation. We all want what is best for our children, including those families with special needs. No child left behind. Or is is NO WEATHLY CHILD left behind?


Posted by spectator at large, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 13, 2013 at 12:59 pm

spectator at large is a registered user.

@Not Curious: Your reply to IBB (Brockovich?) is very defensive and full of inaccurate counter attacks.

I will quote from your last counterattack and then give you my opinion about your musings:

From "Not Curious":

"IBB,

Hard to argue with someone who doesn't take the time to read and at least try to understand my posts. (Read about what "significant exposure" in the Brown Act refers to. Hint: it has NOTHING to do with how much this will cost the district as Curious claims.)"

I believe that everyone who has read your postings has had a very difficult time trying to understand them because I don't think you even understand them yourself. It feels like you are desperately grabbing at straws trying to put something together that may appear to hold water. You sound like someone who may have been a lawyer (or had some legal training at least) but that your skill set is woefully lacking credibility. So many of your references and inferences are just bogus.

You said,

"This, for you and others, it seems is more about anger and rhetoric than facts."

It appears to me that Curious as well as others like Edmund Burke are loaded with facts. It sounds as if the only anger is coming from a few individuals such as yourself who are trying to defend the indefensible. You could really use some fact checkers to help you. I think Ken Dauber and his group might be able to provide you with some factual information if you were even interested in knowing the truth. Unfortunately, the electorate didn't provide quite enough votes to get Ken elected because of dirty campaign tactics but that is another story. WCDBPA has been constantly asking the district to provide more transparency and the district seems be adding more layers to their protective armour. It would appear that PAUSD doesn't want the truths to come out. and the sooner we hear those truths the sooner we can start to heal and get the district better admins and board members. Perhaps it is time for the board to step down with the captain and co captain of their sinking ship. Re-arranging the deck furniture on the Titanic will not save it from sinking unfortunately ;-(

You said,

"our choice, but please don't bring me into the problem by twisting and mischaracterizing my words (which I have backed with quotations and citations to the CURRENT law)."

Your characterization that you are the only one in touch with CURRENT law is very pathetic as well as untrue.

"I'm not trying to intimidate anyone. Rather, I am trying to pull apart the various claims so I can figure out what is true and what is posturing and, while at it, perhaps help others do the same."

I think you are the only one who is posting on this thread who doesn't understand what truth telling is. I also think that you are the one that is doing all of the posturing. It is very hard to defend the indefensible! The truth will truly set you free "Not Curious". TRUTH, TRUTH, TRUTH!!! It would behoove you to come to Thursday's meeting brought to you by those wonderful parent groups, WCDBPA, PASS, SEAN and CAC. Perhaps you can learn something about CURRENT laws!

You said,

"Like you, I care about the children in our district. I just think that rhetoric the likes of which is posted here serves no child well."

If all of this "rhetoric the likes of which is posted here" were not to come out in this forum our children would be hurting even more than they are now. You are WRONG WRONG WRONG AND MORE WRONG!! It appears that you are lecturing in your postings so please don't tell others to not lecture you.

Nuff said.......I hope you enjoy the meeting on Thursday. Bring your questions!
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Posted by Peggy Duncan, a resident of Community Center
on May 14, 2013 at 9:43 am

Peggy Duncan is a registered user.

This closed meeting is showing up as "Cancelled" on the PAUSD board website.
It is always tempting for politicians, particularly long-time officeholders, to believe that the public is a distraction from their work. I hope that is a sign that Mr. Tom is thinking again about the wisdom of handling this issue only in closed sessions and at odd hours.


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