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PAUSD crisis: Bargaining Issues or Leadership?

Original post made by ABC, Old Palo Alto, on Oct 7, 2006

PAUSD is in a leadership crisis. Principals are on the front lines with students, teachers, parents, senior staff, psychologists, reading specialists, special education and more. They need a superintendent with vision and high standards whose actions and words support them. It seems to me that this is the key question facing our school board today: Does our superintendent possess the curiosity, the empathy, the passion for education and communications skills to effectively lead our district. If so, show us how her actions in the past few weeks have demonstrated it. If not, what are you going to do about it?

It might be easier to dismiss the current uproar as simply bargaining issues or personal conflicts. But it is about leadership. What kind of leadership do we expect in our school district? Do we expect our superintendent to respond immediately to an important memo from her principals about a breakdown of trust? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] No wonder our management staff is reluctant to speak up - they know that their superintendent does not support them. We should be glad our principals haven't all quit. If we don't have good leadership at the top of our school district, how can we EVER expect to resolve any bargaining issues.

Comments (58)

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Posted by Interested
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 8, 2006 at 4:00 am

Isn't being a principal in the Palo Alto schools a great job because our community cares so much about education? Sure, we are a demanding community, but isn't the nature of the principal's job to have to juggle many constituencies? What I really want to know about is this apparent trend of mid-level managers to form associations or unionize? Is it inevitable? Is it necessarily a bad thing?


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Posted by PAUSD Teacher Alum
a resident of another community
on Oct 8, 2006 at 3:34 pm

The issues administrators, teachers and classified staff have with Dr. Callan have little to due with compensation. While the PAUSD BOE may have hired her, in part, to get control of the unions, her leadership capabilities, specifically her approach in dealing with all employees (even those at the cabinet level), are the root cause of the current problems. These problems have been existant since nearly day one, but have only now reached the general public forum. It should be noted that these are the same problems that existed in the Milpitas district when Dr. Callan served there. The contrast between Dr. Callan's approach in this area as compared with Don Phillips and Jim Brown, her two immediate predecessors as PAUSD Superintendent, is startling and troubling.


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 9, 2006 at 9:51 am

The PA Weekly reported that the school board is asking principals and other managers to go back and identify their issues and develop their priorities – Didn't they already do that in the Sept 6 memo that has been publicized? The memo clearly states the top priorities: trust, inconsistency of practice, preferential treatment and no clear communication. Why is the school board stalling before asking the superintendent to address directly those concerns?


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Posted by Concerned Taxpayer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 9, 2006 at 10:09 pm

Should we consider school board politics (ie voting block) as a possible answer? Look at the recent postings on this issue, or lack thereof. This issue is going away...buy time...other issues will come forth.


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Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 9, 2006 at 10:23 pm

If voters keep the issue alive, it won't go away. If anyone cares about our schools, they should care about issues of trust, poor communications and preferential treatment concerning our school leadership.

I wonder why this topic has not been placed on Public Square's "Top Postings?" Few local issues are more important -


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Posted by Concerned Taxpayer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 9, 2006 at 11:18 pm

To the Gunn Parent: where are the voters?...you and I make two...the PAUSD BOE, and the BOE alumni know how things work here...


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 10, 2006 at 12:44 am

To Concerned Taxpayer, You'll get a chance to see where the voters are if this board can't muster the wisdom and courage to do what should have been done a few years ago - i.e. replace Callan, and shake up her senior cabinet.

This is what happens when policy making bodies bring in "hatchet" types to "get things under control", or "do the dirty work".

Callan's an old pro at this. She has remained silent for intervals, spiced with comments about how "this isn't good for the district" (shades of Mark Hurd, and Patricia Dunn). This begs the question "how did you let it get to this, if you're supposed to be leading the institution?".

Callan is a manager, period. She is not a leader. She was brought in by a board some years ago that was too weak to innovate and manage on its own. This is a harsh truth; in fact, it's a harsh truth about a lot of school boards in America - populated by well-meaning people who all too often have no essential idea about the way things work in the profession that they're supposed to be making policy for. And all the while, the professionals that come in and out the door every day have to deal with decisions like the one made by the board that hired Callan. Note that her strongest defenders to date have been John Barton, Cathy Kroynmann, and John Toumy - all members of the board that hired her. That says something.

I'll wager that almost every administrator and many, many teachers have heard about or seen some of the postings in this forum. Have we seen school personnel coming out in droves to defend Callan? How about letters to the editor? Nope.

Callan is her own person; she is who she is. She's not evil; nor is she someone who should be administering one of the highest quality school districts in America. Where's the academic leadership? Where's the vision? Where's the innovation? I - and many others - just don't see it.


If one takes the time to ask around, it's clear that she is not popular among school site personnel. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] She does not bring questioning voices into her cabinet - another sign of defensive management, and as far from leadership as one can get, especially as a school superintendent.

Teaching is a stressful, real-time activity engaged by professionals who are extraordinarily dedicated to their work. Students in a district like this face a lot of academic and achievement stress. A scenario like this requires a true leader; someone who _absolutely_ should have a background of resonating with a high quality school staff.

Our teachers, administrators, students, and parent volunteers carry a lot of weight in this district. They deserve better than they've been getting.

As this thing stretches out, Callan gets further and further from the hook. If Callan escapes a vote of no confidence by the board, and remains in place, parents (voters) are going to be reminded about, and helped to remember, what was allowed to continue (in terms of management style) in this district. This is not a time for playing "nice" and wishy-washy delay - hoping that the problem will just go away. The board needs to act.

The current problem is one of long standing. It's time for the board to do the necessary "dirty work", pick up the pieces (of shattered morale), and find a leader who resonates with staff, can innovate, and most importantly, communicate and LEAD.


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Posted by Another Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 10, 2006 at 9:43 am

RWE,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments on the issues. Also, I'm glad that you raised the issue of the recent letter to the editor in the Weekly be former Board members Barton, Kroyman and Tuomy. The letter made a lot of assertions and implied accusations that seemed to attribute the districts' problems to new members of the Board. This seemed pretty disingenuous since those members began serving after the management group raised their concerns last November and well after the issues had been developing in previous years.

I'm surprised that the accusations made in that letter to the editor have not received more comments from this online discussion. From what I've read and heard there are at least two camps on the present Board regarding Callan. The outlook of the present Board and whether they can achieve consensus is going to be a major factor in how all of this plays out.

Any thoughts from others on this issue?


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Posted by It's about time
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 10, 2006 at 9:53 am

Yes, let's not forget that it is up to our current school board to demand accountability of the superintendent. It is their primary job. Will this school board assert its authority and be bold enough to ask tough questions? The pressures from former school board members are intense - they think they know all the answers and assume that anyone who challenges the status quo must be devious. Note that they were more appalled at the leak of information than the core issues raised. I agree that our focus should be on good leadership - from the board, and from the superintendent.


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Posted by waiting for the light
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 10, 2006 at 11:40 am

I agree with those who have pointed out the need for change and the need for the Board to stand strong on this issue. The letter from John Barton et al was, in my opinion, an abuse of perceived status and weight of opinion in the community. Former members of the Board who hired Callan and subsequently ignored numerous examples of her poor leadership, vindictiveness and arrogance (to say nothing of her inability to lead) had no business coming out publicly in her favor, since it looks like they are defending their decision. On the other hand, virtually no one without such an agenda has spoken up for her. Consider the fact that very few people have stood up to support her. If the original document were truly the work of a few fringe individuals, as has been claimed, surely more administrators would speak up to defend her. The silence is deafening. I think the current Board should look closely at her record; listen to the many voices who have spoken up from all sections of the community; consider the paucity of voices in her support; and quietly go about the business of removing her from her current post. The woman has shown herself over time to be an expensive menace to the stability of PAUSD.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 10, 2006 at 12:50 pm

The question is - will anyone show up at the board meeting tonite, and voice their expectations that the board get off their perch's and take some action? Will they be called to account for what they're doing to resolve this? Will the board be allowed to fail to answer to the public? Or will they make their plans publicly known? the board could resolve alot of public speculation TONIGHT if they stood up and outlined exactly what steps they're taking to resolve the issues. Right now, they're hiding behind a cloak of secrecy - because they can - and they expect short term memory of the public to help this to go away quietly. Shall we let them off the hook for this?


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Posted by waiting for the light
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 10, 2006 at 1:33 pm

I'm just wondering if there aren't a lot of things the Board is doing that they would be better advised NOT to reveal, in the event they do remove MFC from her position. I don't know either way, but maybe it's a delicate issue. It couldn't hurt for people to go and express their need for a thoughtful resolution to the problem and for the Board to listen thoughtfully and respectfully to the points raised by the administrators (on top of the pile of other input they have gotten from every other group in the District).


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 10, 2006 at 2:40 pm

It's interesting to ponder the board meeting tonight. What person of substance directly or indirectly involved in this - e.g. visible PTA parent, teacher, administrator, program director, etc. etc. - is going to face the board in public, directly in front of Callan and her senior staff (they're at the meetings), and speak to this issue from their heart?

Given this current chilling atmosphere in this district, what person in her right mind would do that, unless they threw caution and current reality to the wind, and forgot about the potential for "payback" if the current executive(s) stay in place.

What the board doesn't realize (a few members do) is just how intimidating and calculating this adminstration has been, and can be, towards those who don't fall in line.

We've gotten ourselves into a very unhealthy situation that will take courage (by this board) to fix. Let's see if they're up to it.

I agree with "waiting for the light"; the wheels of dismissal may already be turning. For PAUSD's sake, I hope so. District personnel have suffered long enough from poor management; it's time to bring in _enabling_ leaders.








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Posted by Parent on the sidelines
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 10, 2006 at 2:53 pm

Well, does anyone know if they are going to televise tonight's Board Meeting on cable channel 28 or are they going to rerun an old one. I think that tonight's meeting (and tomorrow's?) are very important and since not everyone interested is able to be there, it is important to at least enable us to record it so that we do have a first hand idea of what is going on. Or, is this another case of the Board having more say than they let on?


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 10, 2006 at 9:38 pm

I missed the first part (45 minutes) of this evening's (Tuesday's) PAUSD meeting. I didn't hear anything of the Management Team issue discussed in the remainder of the open meeting. The board retired to closed session, apparently to address this issue.

Is the issue going to be discussed tomorrow evening in an open meeting?


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Posted by ABC
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 10, 2006 at 10:03 pm

Wednesday's "special meeting" is a closed session to discuss personnel issues -- see agenda on Web Link

You can address the board at 5pm prior to them going into closed session and you can wait for the announcement about what happened when it is finished.

Does anyone know anything about the attorney, Lou Lozano, who has joined some of these closed sessions according the PA Weekly's 10/6 article about the 'wait and see' approach? Who does he represent - the school board, the superintendent or the management staff?


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2006 at 12:02 am

Here's some information on Mr. Lozano; from his bio, I would assume he's working for the board, or the Management team, or both.
Web Link

and his law firm
Web Link

My hope is that they're working on employee dismissal procedings, at the senior executive level. Anything else would be a sham.

The teachers and administrators in this district were dealt a VERY bad hand by the board that hired Callan. Teachers ann administrators have had to endure disingenuous negotiations, extreme hardball tactics, poor communication, and everrything else that was placed in the Management Team's letter for _years_.

Callan, and some of her senior executives have had their chance; they have _failed_ to perform by almost every imaginal measure of district leadership that one would care to define.

they should not be treated any differently from dysfunctional teachers or administrators - most of whom wouldn't get the multiple chances that Callan and some of her staff have had over these past years.

Papering this over with a "nice-nice" negotiation that leaves this management team in place - with their dreadful past record of poor leadership - would be the worst thing for administrators and teachers, as the chill the current executive team has created would become even more complex, further inhibiting the development and future of PAUSD.

It's time for guts, wisdom, and new beginnings - with new people. Is the board up to it? We'll see.


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2006 at 12:32 am

Lou Lozano was handpicked by Dr. Callan and her cabinet to replace Bill Kay, the longtime labor negotiator for PAUSD. Kay was 'replaced' after being involved with two consecutive years of compensation increases (10.5% & 8.5%) that were afforded to all employeess of the district, union members, non-union, and administrators alike. While his main function is in all labor negotiations and personnel issues, he has been involved in many aspects of PAUSD legal affairs since Dr. Callan brought him on board toward the end of her first year at PAUSD. He reports, of course, to the PAUSD BOE, but he certainly has very close connections to the Superindentent, and has first hand knowledge of her current contract. His allegiance? Dr. Callan or the BOE? He is very well paid for his time by PAUSD. Might be tough for him!


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Posted by ABC
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2006 at 6:46 am

So if the Management Team of principals and other mid-level managers need legal advice, are they also supposed to consult with him?

The school board, superintendent and principals/managers may all need legal advice at this time - proceeding under the circumstances of high tension when there is hierachical structure with all parties are represented by the same attorney suggests that at least some in this food chain will not get fair representation, or even have access to legal advice.

Wouldn't this cause all kinds of conflicts of interest if one attorney is supposed to represent all?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow School
on Oct 11, 2006 at 10:55 am

It was pretty clear from the opening remarks in last weeks closed session that the attorney is advising the board (with Callan, Cook and Bowers present), in those closed meetings. That attorney doesn't represent labor - no way. The District's labor negotiator (Bowers) is being given instructions by the Board (with their attorney present), on how to interact with the Adminstrator Group (labor). The attorney is advising the board on what they can/can not say/do (ie: brown act compliance, labor negotiation strategy). If you were there at the opening remarks for last weeks closed session you would have seen there were no representive administrators (labor) in the closed session last week. This was all about a one sided strategy session from what we could tell as observers. In this context it was a like a worker bee (Bowers) reporting in to the queens(s).Maybe getting a reprimand? Maybe getting a pat on the back? Who knows... Being given detailed instructions on how to go out and collect more honey. There was no representation for the flowers in that meeting.

In terms of last night's meeting - it was a gigantic love fest between the Board and the Staff. There were about 5 total community members present. No one spoke on any topic. The meeting started with a weird music/art presentation. The topics from there were completely non-issues. There was a huge elephant in the room that no one mentioned- no one so much as said a peep about any relevent district issues. The only discussion of any interest at all was the calendard discussion, quite benign as district current events are concerned.

As an aside... Its funny to me in fact that the community is rallying around a big dramatic calendar discussion, over 800 emails have been sent in on the calendar "debate" - which really boils down to a 1 week difference in start date, no matter how you slice the middles. Yet the district is about to transform itself finally into a full fledged Alternative/Choice Program Acadamy-style school model with the pending approval of the Mandarin Immersion program, forsaking any last vestiges of a neighborhood school concept, yet people don't give a darn about that.. (With approval of MI, over 25% of our elementary students will be in 'choice' programs which means that another 25% are being involuntarily moved around the city out of otherwise neighborhood schools. 50% displacement. Why are we even BOTHERING with an Attendance Boundary Review committe at this point? Why draw boundaries at all?? Why don't we just say, all schools are choice programs (here's your menu of fancy acadamy style focus programs you can choose from)... Choose the one you want, take a chance in the lottery, and if you don't get in, or don't want to attend a choice program, then you'll get first come, first serve to the nearest available school. That's the REAL model we've got going anyway! Someone should fill in the neighborhood families, the real estate owners, the city of Palo Alto, who thinks they're trying to solve commute traffic issues for school age kids, and the realtors in this community that neighborhood schools are all a big sham. Its SO frustrating to me that the whole school district operating model is being hijacked and no one gives a hoot...

Anyway, no mention of the 'letter', breakdown in trust, management issues, etc., in last night's meeting.

In terms of tonight's meeting - its closed. You can sit around and wait if you want, but they'll tell you they are not going to come out and share anything - because closed meetings are confidential for everyone involved, by law. So, they'll just go about whatever business they please - we'll never have any idea if it had anything whatsoever to do with discipline for District Staff or Super, or what if anything they're talking about doing on this whole situation. Apparently, as far as they're concerned - that's for them to know, and for the public NOT to find out.

So, there you have it. One day, someone will say, "Hey, whatever happened to that big issue with Callan?" Everyone will look around and blink and say, "I don't know...Nothing?" (And someone about that time might also look around and say, why doesn't a single kid in this city attend a neighborhood school? Didn't we used to have those?)


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Posted by waiting for the light
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 11, 2006 at 11:10 am

I just need to add one observation to "Parent's", because I watched the Board meeting last night from home on TV. I waited and waited through the calendar discussion and Camille's report on her community relations activities, etc. But Gail Price did in fact mention for the record that she had gotten bazillions of e-mails on the subject of the Administration's letter, and that it was a matter of much concern. No one responded or commented, just accepted her comment. My guess is that they have a lot of food for thought for their closed meeting, and are saving it for then. I am not convinced that the Board is just sweeping it away without a thought. If I'm wrong, boy will I be disappointed in the new Board, but I'm just waiting for now . . .


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Posted by JLS Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 11, 2006 at 11:49 am

Having been a JLS parent for the past 4 years, I was just wondering if this is now an appropriate time and place to bring up the Joe di Salvo issue. I know that a lot of the very upset JLS parents are now Gunn parents, but at the time this was a very big issue and I think the school is still suffering.


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Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2006 at 11:59 am

Just FYI: some JLS kids went to Paly, so we lived through the Di Salvo fiasco too.

Here's a PA Weekly article about the Di Salvo departure:

Web Link


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2006 at 1:29 pm

PAUSD is a community-based institution, supported by taxpayer dollars, whose job it is to educate (with a large dose of socialize) our children. The people that do that - day in and day out - are the teachers, site admnistrators, program directors, and mid-level district staff who pull their weight every day.

One would think that there would be nearly pure transparency on this issue. The lack of same is shocking, and a disgrace to public process.

I watched some of last evening's meeting as well, on television. Having attended many PAUSD meetings recently, it certainly was, outwardly, a "love fest" by normal standards. I won't get into characterizations here, but it's tempting, believe me.

However, one could read tension on the facial expressions of many behind the conference table. There is a lot going on. I thought Gail Price's comments were absolutely appropriate, as restrained as they were. I admire her attempt to help those parents and others who are concerned, and have been kept out of this process by legal manipulations, and political chicanery.

As stated prior, Callan is a master at pulling out of things like this. She and some of her staff have managed to avoid criticism for gross administrative failures. They hide behind the wall of "nice-nice", and reassuring sound bites that is, frankly, not reflective of the undercurrent in this district, and that further misleads, and infects public and organizational process in this school district - with these very same senior executives using the protections that they often deny teaching and administrative staff to protect themselves. That's one of the major, and tragic, ironies here.

At this point, given what has transpired to date, morale among administrative staff and teachers is not good. What they see happening is the "same old, same old" developing. For their sake, and our kid's sake, I hope they're wrong.




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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2006 at 2:11 pm

Web Link

An outside consultant? They have GOT to be kidding!

What is an outside consultant going to do? Change the management style of a poor senior executive team? This is another tail-wagging-the-dog scenario, where a purely dysfunctional management group, and an elected political body that is mandated to oversee that group, are together moving like molasses so that _nothing_ has to be done, except for committments and promises to 'change'.

As predicted earlier, this thing will get delayed and spun in so many directions that it will die from lack of momentum, and sadly, courage. Callan and her dysfunctional senior team will live to wreak more havoc, and find new ways to chill the PAUSD environment.

Right now, we are _not_ happy citizens!


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2006 at 2:43 pm

Re: Lou Lozano There is no way he is representing any of the mid-level administrators. They had better have their own legal representation at this point as their administrative jobs (at least some of them) may depend on it, if Dr. Callan remains. CTA (teacher union) does not/will not represent them.

Re the PAUSD BOE: If you know any of the current BOE members, or perhaps supported them in their elections, you should call them and/or email them with your opinions on the Dr. Callan issue. If you don't know them, you should still contact them, but you may not have much impact. At this point, the decision is in their hands. Dr. Callan is very effective with her relations with the Board. While this 'new' BOE may not be as firmly in her control as the most recent one, she still maintains strong support behind closed doors. While I am sure that some of the BOE, at least, read some of these comments, others are certainly choosing to form their own opinions from data presented to them or personally gathered by them. This may very well lead to self-fulfilling conclusions. The BOE Alum letter of last week is a good example of this. They hired Dr. Callan, after a 'national' search, gave her a great contract (great salary, expense account, no interest/no payments home loan, lifetime health benefits, increased STRS lifetime benefits etc.) and then even renegotiated this contract a short time later, despite serious fiscal concerns that were then appearing on the district horizon. Would anyone expect that Dr. Callan would not receive anything other than complete support from them?


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Posted by gordon
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2006 at 3:07 pm

Is there a major communication problem here, or is it just another case of people becoming intoxicated by their own power?

HP. Hidden Villa. The Palo Alto Utilties Detpt. PAUSD.

Who will be next?


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Posted by Former Teacher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2006 at 3:33 pm

Speaking as a former PAUSD teacher...

re: Joe DiSalvo - There is a lot more to this issue that hasn't been discussed, both in support of and against Mr. DiSalvo's performance as principal at JLS. It is widely known that he was loved by -most- parents. Many teachers also enjoyed having him as their principal, myself included. These statements do not ignore the truth in the PA Weekly article regarding his management style. With the right staff, he could be a very effective and talented leader. Simply put, JLS was not the right staff for Mr. DiSalvo, and I am personally happy to hear that he is doing well at his new position.

I say the above for those parents that are "upset" that Mr. DiSalvo was removed as principal. I urge you to remember that such decisions are not made without haste and I have strong support and faith in the PAUSD district office as well as our PAUSD (especially JLS) certificated and classified staff.

Re: Dr. Callan - As I posted earlier, Dr. Callan has always been professional and kind throughout my interactions with her. She definitely has a strong style, but I think this is a positive for a district like Palo Alto. I cannot speak highly enough of his Assistant Supes and Directors. Every single one I've met has been professional, kind, exceptionally smart, and always puts the kids first.

Re: "Isn't being a principal in the Palo Alto schools a great job because our community cares so much about education? Sure, we are a demanding community, but isn't the nature of the principal's job to have to juggle many constituencies?"

Until you walk a mile in their shoes, you really don't understand the pressure, stress, and difficulty involved in being a principal, assistant principal, dean, TOSA, counselor, special education teacher, PE teacher, custodian, and so on. To say that Palo Alto is "a demanding community" might be the biggest understatement of the decade. Our admins wear so many hats that I'm not going to insult them by trying to list them here. I have yet to meet a principal, especially in PAUSD, that doesn't want the best for all children.

I just hope that we all remember that it's about the kids... yours, mine, ours.


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2006 at 3:55 pm

yes, it is about the kids, and Dr. Callan and her senior staff are congenial people, but what has happened to this district under their LACK of leadership?

Look at the letter; talk to teachers about past union negotiations, and classroom interference. Look at the pathetic nature of personnel management (if one can call it that) that has been permitted to exist first, under Cook, and now, under Bowers.

btw, there is a difference between "strong style" and "strong leader". Mr. DiSalvo did not resonate with his charges; Callan and her senior staff don't resonate with theirs.

Thus, if we're talking about district consistency, the conslusion to this management fiasco should be obvious - Callan needs to go, and some of her senior staff reassigned, or dismissed.

Where is the outpouring of support for senior executives? I just don't see it. This is not like reading tea leaves.


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Posted by A very concerned resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2006 at 9:18 pm

Callan must resign immediately if we are to return to some sense of normalcy and decency in the District. As a former school district employee, I have first hand knowledge of the inner workings of the so-called "Cabinet".


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Posted by SMP
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 11, 2006 at 9:30 pm

'IF PATRICIA DUNN AND MARK FOLLEY CAN, MARY FRANCIS CALLAN CAN!!"


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Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2006 at 9:38 pm

I think that the Weekly published the DiSalvo article to provide a concrete example of the abuses of senior management. Regardless of how parents, students and staff felt about him personally or his leadership style, he deserved due process before being forced out of his position and replaced by an interim principal, costing the district six figures worth of taxpayer money.

The contrast between teachers, who are tenured after two years and have a powerful union watching their backs, and administrators who work on year to year contracts with no assurance that their careers and reputations are secure, is startling.

I have heard some disgraceful rumors about why DiSalvo was forced out, and yet, when I read today's article, I thought, "Huh?" This was about some statements allegedly made in staff meetings and a sink in the Industrial Tech room? I asked a former JLS PTA board member about the sink issue, and learned that DiSalvo believed that, since Industrial Tech is applied science, that using grant money for a badly needed sink was appropriate. In the end, the money was given back. So why did this issue still haunt him two years later?

At the end of the article, DiSalvo says the district never asked for his side of the story. Is it any wonder that mid-level administrators feel that trust and communication are paramount among their concerns right now?

A district of PAUSD's caliber and reputation must do better than this.


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Posted by Staff
a resident of another community
on Oct 11, 2006 at 9:58 pm

Re: Kroyman, Toumy, Barton letter-shame on all three of you.
Re: Joe Di Salvo- Mr. Di Salvo intimidated a female Classified employee to tears. After reporting the incident to our Human Resources department no action was taken. No investigation, nothing. He had an abrasive swaggering style and believed he could do as he pleased "because I am the Principal"
Re: MFC- Extremely bright, talented and a gifted Politician who can be very vindictive and quite capable of holding a grudge. Doesn't like being challenged or questioned. Why was her previous Secretary at PAUSD transfered to another lesser job yet retained her salary?
Re: M Cook- This lady is gifted and intelligent. Made a great Principal and is a good Administrator. Lots of integrity. I hope someday to see her as Supe. Critical thinker, opened minded and willing to listen.
I hope the BOE does the right thing. Most employees just want to go to work and perform their duties to the best of their abilities without worrying about inflated egos, intimidation and vindictive "paybacks"


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2006 at 10:56 pm

To "staff":

Let's divert to Marilyn Cook for a moment. Remember, it was Ms. Cook who headed personnel for some years prior to her recent promotion to Assoc, Superintendent.

Ask teachers around the district about Ms. Cook; she earned some respect as a Principal at Paly, but did a 180-degree turn when she moved to the district office under Callan. She has been anything but inspirational, with many teachers very unhappy with her administrative chops. Again, ask around.

She's been succeeded By Scott Bowers, who has taken early lessons from Ms. Cook on how not to resonate with staff.

(All this is clearly indicated in the letter from the Management Team; it's not a fantasy).

Might Ms. Cook - as head of personnel, and now Assoc. Sup share some of the blame for the pathetic lack of personnel moral in this district, among teachers, administrators, and program directors? The answer to that is obvious: YES.

And, again, MFCallan is a bright, talented and gifted politician. So was Tom DeLay. So was Huey Long. So was Richard Nixon. So are lots of people. That doesn't make them fit to lead others, or give them the right to lead others into mayhem.

What about the current dysfunctional PAUSD leadership does the board not understand?

Now we have "consultants" getting into this; with PAUSD and local taxpayers having to foot the bill for someone to clean up this Superintendent's mess?

Where is the accountability? Is keeping the sacred patina of PAUSD perfection untarnished, and perpetuating the myth of "superbly run district" so important to the board that it will risk maintaining a management, and a management style that has been largely responsible for _years_ of PAUSD dissension?


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Posted by Curious
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 11, 2006 at 11:05 pm

Any news from the meeting?


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2006 at 11:14 pm

Well, the good news is that based on the article about the DiSalvo situation, it sounds like 'rubbing people the wrong way' is enough grounds for dismissal in PAUSD. So it sounds like they have all they need at this point to clean house...

Ironic, isn't it?


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Posted by Former Teacher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2006 at 7:19 am

To "RWE"

RE: YOUR COMMENT OF "Let's divert to Marilyn Cook for a moment. Remember, it was Ms. Cook who headed personnel for some years prior to her recent promotion to Assoc, Superintendent. Ask teachers around the district about Ms. Cook; she earned some respect as a Principal at Paly, but did a 180-degree turn when she moved to the district office under Callan. She has been anything but inspirational, with many teachers very unhappy with her administrative chops. Again, ask around. She's been succeeded By Scott Bowers, who has taken early lessons from Ms. Cook on how not to resonate with staff."

I'm informing you, as a former PAUSD teacher, that you're completely wrong. I have asked around. I still have many friends in PAUSD. Ms. Cook is extremely talented and ALWAYS was available to chat about any and everything. She was anything BUT judgmental. I would definitely classify her as inspirational. I have specific personal examples of such behavior on her part.

And as great as I believe Ms. Cook is, I would rate Scott Bowers even higher. Talk to his old staff at Fairmeadow. Talk to the parents and not just the angry, vocal mini-minority. More importantly, talk to the kids! He is one of the most talented, kind, understanding individuals I've met.

There is no "outpouring" of support from senior executives right now because they do not discuss such matters in public. They've all made this clear.

To me, this story has been beaten like a dead horse. Time to move on.


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Posted by waiting for the light
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 12, 2006 at 10:43 am

In response to "Former Teacher": Marilyn Cook's job at PAUSD, at least 2 years ago, was personnel. As I've already described on another thread, a group of very involved parents went to her for help in resolving very difficult issues involving the principal of a PAUSD school. Ms. Cook simply let the complaint fall through the cracks. It was not the first time -- she had been hearing about these problems and failing to respond for months. Her failure led to an escalation of the problem and a need to deal with Ms. Callan, who was also unspeakably rude and dismissive. When questioned, neither of these high level administrators could even tell us who was *in charge of evaluating principals.* The entire experience was so frustrating, and our entire family so damaged by the prolonged nastiness in what I understand would in another district have been a routine process, that our children are no longer in the PAUSD. So while I am thrilled for "Former Teacher" that s/he had a great experience with these people, I think we should consider that they might not be well-suited to the positions they currently occupy. Maybe Ms. Cook should go back to doing what she did well. Maybe Ms. Callan should go where she cannot alienate an entire community and move the focus from the best interest of the schools/kids to the search for Who Caused The Leak.


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Posted by ABC
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2006 at 11:31 am

On the subject of evaluations...shouldn't the timing and procedures for evaluating principals and superintendents be clear and public knowledge? When and how are principals evaluated? According to her contract, our superintendent is evaluated each year according to mutually agreed upon criteria and procedures, which are not specified. It seems that she can dictate the terms by which she is evaluated, she controls the information flow to the school board used to evaluate her, and thus she controls the outcome. When enough of her management team rises up to object to her preferential treatment practices, her fear tactics, etc., how can the school board assess the seriousness of the situation if they don't have an effect and thorough evaluation process that includes some independent sources of feedback?!

Some of the school board simply does not believe that there is a problem needing their active intervention. Is it because there is no problem (and the only problem is a leak of a memo?) or is the problem disquised by poor evaluation procedures and an unwillingness of the majority of the school board to insist on accountability. This is not a witch hunt - it is a search for accountability and mutual respect.


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Posted by waiting for the light
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 12, 2006 at 12:44 pm

I agree that the District does not provide clear guidelines for evaluating principals and administrators, and I have seen Ms. Callan capitalize on that vagueness to avoid responsibility.

At least one of the current School Board members who claim to believe there is no problem has heard about incidents with Ms. Callan's management firsthand at least from parents. Additionally, from what I understand of the JLS fiasco, IMHO it speaks for itself. So that member's current conviction that there is no problem puzzles me.


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 12, 2006 at 12:47 pm

a few things:

"ABC" is right on. When a publicly elected municipal body - in this case the school board - keeps evaluation criteria from the public, it is engaging in a pure conflict of self-protective interest. The rationale, or rather the "spin" about why this happens is usually stated as "not wanting to air dirty laundry in public".

To that I say, "why not?". Again, PAUSD is a PUBLIC institution, paid for by taxpayers, and managed by ELECTED policy makers. What gives?

School board members make very high level decisions - among those decisions is the hiring of the District Superintendent.

In keeping evaluation criteria, as well as the details of evaluation private, these two constituencies (the board, and the senior executive team) are able to keep a cap on transparency. As a result, problems fester - problems that, in the end, require actions that seem to the public to happen in a vacuum, because the public (in this case, PAUSD's constituency) have no idea what's going on. How is that process supposed to help the voting public understand how well, or not, school board members and executive staff are functioning, and how their _specifically_ good or dysfunctional actions are impacting the school district that oue citizens PAY FOR?

It is becoming more and more known that the _lack_ of transparency in government leads to inefficiency and waste. This is a perfect example. Instead of heading off problems as they appear, reinforcing constituencies protect each other.

I don't want to spin the problem away from MFC, but it appears to be a bigger problem than one might have thought at the outset. We have to get more transparency in this process.

The current tack is to go for mediation; we're all for that. Better to talk, than not. However, in the end, someone has to be held accountable for the _problems_ in this district. Just as credit is liberally doled out when things go right, the public has a right to see who and how various individuals have fallen down on the job.

I see no accountability in any of this; there is no communication to the public - none. This isn't surprising, because THAT'S the internal demeanor of this district - i.e. keep it all underwraps, and maybe the problem will just go away.

I submit that the above is condescending to an informed public; obstructive of good management; unhealthy as to the accumulation of unresolved inefficiencies; and, just plain poor governance.

Next, to "Former Teacher". Perhaps you have had good experiences with Marilyn Cook. I don't question that. It's even understandable that you make a global generalization about certain senior executives because of your good experiences with them. Fine.

That said, a scathing memo was written by the Management Team some weeks ago, condeming the lack of leadership and productive communication from this senior administration. MOST of the administrative corps in this district are in _essentail_ agreement with that document, allowing for slight variances of individual difference among members.

That memo was the result of LONG STANDING problems. Who is iresponsible for those problems? The administrators? Have they been as happy as you are with Ms. Cook? or Ms. Callan.

My travels through this district, as an active volunteer in the classroom, and raising kids here, along with many conversations with teachers and adminsitrators, have led me to an entirely different conclusion. Ms. Callan, and some of her senior administrators are de-motivational in personal style, and unfair and even incompetent in some of the admistration of their responsibilities. That's what I've been hearing, for _years_.

Why hasn't the _paying_ public known about this? Why haven't _parents_, who place the well-being of their children in the hands of teachers and administrators every day, been availed of information that might indicate that those teachers and adminsitrators - people that they trust with their children's well-being - have their work environment and very motivation comprromised by poor management policies, and a general lack of leadership?

Teachers and adminsitrators in this district are not whiners; they work hard, with dedication. They're professionals, serving and helping to make one of the best school districts in the country.

I used to hear the occasional grumble prior to Callan's arrival, but since her arrival, and appointment of certain senior executives, I have heard a consistent stream of dissatisfaction, and frustration with a non-communicative and condescending management.

So, here we are, with a mediator coming in. If current senior executives remain, no matter the mediation, the _people_ at 25 Churchill who have been responsible for the long standing management failure that we have in place will keep their jobs. The crisis will pass, but the people will remain.

That's my projection. With that as a possibility - and with the known demeanor and manipulations of this current management team - do you think that anyone valuing their job would come boldly forward?

The institutional silence surrounding this issue is stunning, and revealing in its depth.





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Posted by Mike
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 12, 2006 at 2:25 pm

The thing that I find the most outrageous in all of this is that Callan makes $250,000 a year, plus health and life insurance (which for a 62 year old woman is in the many thousands of dollars a month), plus a $750/month auto allowance. I have worked for top-tier consulting firms in the past, and people infinitely more qualified and harder working didn't earn that kind of money. I'm talking about top Ph.D.s from Stanford or Harvard, working 90 hours a week, 7 days a week, living and breathing their jobs.

That kind of compensation should be reserved for nothing short of a "rock star" that excels on all facets of management skills. Instead of wasting money the city should think about re-allocating capital where it makes a difference, such as the school facilities or teachers.

Clearly the management structure of the city is lacking. This is not a one-time error in judgement. Recall a few months ago it was revealed that the person in charge of negotiating power contracts for the city was earning about $300,000, and was suspected of some sort of foul play that was never proven (fraud?). Outrageously high salaries do not necessarily attract the best suited people for jobs, especially so in the public sector.


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Posted by PAUSD Staff
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 12, 2006 at 2:35 pm

RWE, please remember that this is about the students. Are your children being hurt by what is going on with MFC and her cabinet? So some coward leaks a complaint to the paper. Read the letter. It is all about money. A few employees did not get their way and have decided to play dirty. If you're unhappy with your pay, find another job. There are bigger issues here. We must get back to focusing on our students. What do you really know about MFC? What do you really know about personnel and all of the legalitites that prevent a governing body to take "immediate" action? MFC IS a good leader. She is strong, smart, she has a solid understanding of what is best for PA students. Who really cares about middle management--their desire for salary increases and freedom to schedule vacations during the school year???


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 12, 2006 at 2:51 pm

I just read the latest
Web Link

Just as we thought, and just as has been discussed in this forum, senior management and the board will continue as always, ignoring and papering over _essential_ problems of leadership in this district.

Mandy Lowell, as board Chair, is especially disappointing. She states that her personal priority as board president is "to establish healthy communication within the district."

What? Well, Ms. Lowell, where have you been? It's been some years since you, as one of the 5 who appointed Ms. Callan, have uttered even one word of criticism regarding this Superintendent's treatment of teachers and adminsitrators. Why now, all of a sudden, are yuo professing the establishment of healthy communication as your goal within the district?

So far, the only person with the courage to even suggest that there is "strong feeling" from many members of the community on this issue, is Gail Price. She's been the only person with the sense that there is a community of taxpayers whose right is is to know that they are being represented, and that something of substance will be done to see that ACCOUNTABILITY is brought to the district on this issue.

From the above link:
"Bowers reportedly said the district administration and school board are ready to meet and if desired bring in one or more outside consultants to clarify facts and perceptions and perhaps help repair any damaged communications and trust."

This is more obfuscation and spin, designed to make what has been a highly dysfunctional process seem like its on its way to repair. So, the lack of this superintendent's leadership, her lack of communication skills, her misplaced appointees (having contributed to problems) is just "business as usual", meant to be repaired - AT DISTRICT AND TAXPAYER COST - by consultants, mediators, and negotiators, and then everything will return to it's dysfunctional past, with the same players in place, taking credit for fixing a problem that they were responsible for in the first place? This is a sham!

We respect public process, but this is turning out to be anything but that. I hope the Weekly stays on this, and follows it not only all the way through, but after - and begins to look at the too ocozy realtionship that has begun to crop up between elected members of representative public bodies and the people they are supposed to be directing with policy.


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Posted by Obser
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2006 at 3:00 pm

Mike You would have gotten a big kick out of watching your tax payer dollars at work in some of the recent board meetings. One recent (amazing) topic - school site security. Callan and Matranga dropped the bombshell that we only have one security guard that makes the rounds at ~all~ 18 of our sites over night. They were worried that there have been a rash of vandalisms and attempted ~fires~, that only through luck either didn't 'catch' or weren't serious or were found in time. They came to the board asking for 90K to hire part time security agency. They didn't have any data with them, there is apparently no overall district security 'plan', they had verbal annecdotal evidence of these fires and close calls but no detailed information or plan for the board. The board rightly said - you have to give us some data before we write you a check for 90K that's only going to 'cover' us for four months, and then what? I thought it was amazingly loose and poorly presented, and poorly argued. A few of us in the audience sat around scratching our heads "did you just hear, what I just heard?" This was like amateur night at the Apollo - like Callan/Matranga had never made a proposal to the board before. Now, Mandy, bless her heart, is vigilant in protecting the district from financial risk - asked for some 'cost benefit analysis' - well that was sort of dumb - like lets see the cost would be - there's a 1% chance of Paly burning to the ground (1% of ?), vs 90K for security guards.. None the less, the whole episode was weird.

So, they don't have time to do their work (ie: decent security planning and presentations to the board), and yet, they're spending hundreds of hours on... Mandarin Immersion. Weirdness at best. Poor Management, High Risk for our kids and our community at worst.

I sure wish more people were attending board meetings. Its like keeping track of teenagers - you're not going to catch them in the act, you've got to listen and pay attention to everything - they give themselves away in the most subtle but tell tale ways...


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 12, 2006 at 3:01 pm

To "PAUSD staff": This isn't about money, and I know far more than you think I know about the way that PAUSD operates. So do the people I am communicating to on a daily basis about this charade.

Yes, this IS about the kids, and the hard-working people - teachers and administrators - whose motivation and sense of confidence in schooling is disrupted by those who make their jobs less than they should be through their poor communications, lack of motivational leadership, and subtle manipulations. Read the Management Letter! What part of that letter don't you understand. Perhaps you're one of the people that's under discussion here, and using this forum as the current Superintendent and some of the board have used the press to spin this thing into oblivion, until nobody cares, or notices any more. So that things can just get papered over - AGAIN!

I don't want to see that happen.

So, if you're "about the kids" and making sure that they get the best from the people who are teaching and administering them, why aren't you concerned about what the majority of teachers and administrators in this district think of their leadership.

Notice the silence on this issue. This district is so wound up in subtle manipulations around contract negotiations and other personnel issues, that no one who teaches or administers dare come out in public to say what I'm saying. The only things you'll see written in support are by those who want to gain favor.

Perhaps you should look at what has transpired - likek I said once before, it's pretty obvious, and it not as obtuse as a pile of tea leaves.

Yes, it's about the kids. Do you really care, or is this just more spin from 25 Churchill. Sounds like Mark Hurd and Patricia Dunn, to me.


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Posted by KEN
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 12, 2006 at 6:26 pm

You people are PATHETIC! You have no real idea of whats going on. Get a friggin life. I feel sorry for your families, or anyone the has to listen to what you spew.


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Posted by POM
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 12, 2006 at 6:34 pm

re RWE: Yes, it's about the kids. Do you really care, or is this just more spin from 25 Churchill. Sounds like Mark Hurd and Patricia Dunn, to me.

Yes your right it sounds like them to me too. And I think the government to responsible for 9/11, the moon landing was fake, and there WAS someone on the grassy knoll!!!
SINCERELY, santa


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Posted by Former Teacher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2006 at 8:43 pm

I know about the 2 expulsions and praise the board for their action.

As for the other comments, it's obvious that the people posting on this forum have already come to their own conclusions. There are more newsworthy events transpiring in our lives than whether or not our PAUSD Admin team receives a 3.5% raise this year.

I wish I could share more, but hopefully everyone will trust me when I say that these reportings and postings aren't major news. Everything is going to be ok.


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Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 13, 2006 at 10:26 am

Amazingly, Former Teacher thinks that we will all trust him or her, as an anonymous writer, that this is not a big deal. It is a big deal. 75 parent signatures were gathered in a few hours on a school holiday to urge the board to listen to the concerns of mid-level administrators. Since then, many more have asked to join the list. So far the board has chosen not to do this.

If this were just about salary, it would not have escalated into a community-wide debate. The teachers want a significant salary increase this year and that has not generated much attention.

This discussion has really degenerated into name calling and snide comments, which does not serve to illuminate the real concerns and problems that exist. It's time to start a new thread.


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Posted by waiting for the light
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 13, 2006 at 11:05 am

In response to Former Teacher, ditto to what Concerned Parent said. The fact that you have a great opinion of MFC et al. does NOT mean that those whose opinions differ from yours are troublemakers, stupid, uninformed or misinformed. Gail Price mentioned at Tuesday night's board meeting that she had received voluminous mail on the subject from concerned parents. That doesn't sound like "no big deal" to me. In any event, the fact that enough administrators felt the need to escalate into possibly creating a union seems like a "big deal" to me -- more of one than the calendar. I have hardly heard a peep about the raise issue; it's the trust and tone concerns that were listed first in the talking points and that resonate with enough people to create a community-wide debate.


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2006 at 1:52 pm

I'm struck by the thoughtfulness and insight brought by POM, Ken, and former teacher. NOT! :) If that's all the support that MFC can muster, it's pretty sad, AND telling.

We're watching the action, folks, and MFC will not spin out of this one, no matter the board's action. She will be watched like a hawk, along with her senior executives, from now on. The sunshine has been good for PAUSD.

If the board fails to do the courageous, and wise, thing - and bring a LEADER into our district that RESONATES with our superb teaching and administrative corps, then people who care will stay active around this issue.

THink about it - about $300K to buy Callan out, and reassign or get rid of people who are not trusted by a majority of their subordinates. That, versus keeping Callan and her team in place, among a group ofo professionals who have had their trust violated over and over again. What's the human, and DOLLAR cost to that option - including the end result cost in the classroom, and in administrative efficiencies.

The jury is still out, and we're waiting to see how much guts, widom, and vision this board really has.

No matter the arbitration, negotiation, etc. etc., the _years_ of dysfunction that have preceded this current crisis will not be washed away, with everyone left smiling.

As Mandy Lowell says, one of her jobs is to improve district communication; that's what Dana Tom ran on, specifically. One of the current, long-time board members (who will remain nameless) did a complete flipflop after her election. She's been a big disappointment. Will Dana stand up and act on his campaign promise.

Papering over a poor management style with an arbitration is not what this district needs. Does anyone think for a moment that MFC and her team will change their demeanor once an arbitration finishes. Of course not!

What will happen is that certain behaviors will be suppressed, with potential for further mayhem and subtle payback that has plagued teachers and administrators in this district - again - for _years_.

MFC has accomplished a few things, but she is not the kind of leader that our excellent teaching and administrative professionals deserve. I hope this board has learned that lesson, and acts on it, appropriately.


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Posted by A Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 14, 2006 at 11:39 am

Re: Joe DiSalvo. Many parents wrote respectful letters to Callan and the board in support of DiSalvo. As JLS parents we saw daily what an outstanding and effective principal he was. Although some of us received short email responses from members of the board, I do not personally know of any parent who received a reply from Callan. One of DiSalvo's strengths was in addressing bullying and helping JLS to become a safer campus for our students. How disappointing it is to learn that he himself became the target of intimidation by a teacher.


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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 14, 2006 at 12:46 pm

I share the sentiment of "A Parent" regarding Joe DiSalvo. I found Joe to be a highly effective principal, and I suspect this is what brought him down.

It is not the first time that I see the teaching staff liking "non-interfering" principals that in effect allow the staff to run the school, and resist effective principals that run the school the way the Board and the community want. Happened in late 90's at Palo Verde, when the staff loved the laid-back Roger Wilder that allowed the staff to run the school, and it took a community rebelion to bring in the effective Donna Foglia instead. Now we see it in the JLS case, except the situation is reversed; the effective principal was pushed out, and a laid-back one was brought in.

I don't see how this is directly connected to MFC though -- it seems to have more to do with Marilyn Cook, who was human resources at the time. Still, no question the top admin messed up by not supporting Joe and by letting the staff have their way.


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Posted by anon
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 14, 2006 at 9:22 pm

I too was impressed with Mr. DiSalvo though I had limited impressions - for examply, he held a worthwhile anti-bullying forum at JLS open for concerned parents in the district. My kids did not attend his school but we could see he was working hard! It has been semi-illuminating to finally learn recently about the story behind his departure. One really has to wonder. Besides being quite an outrageous story, it seems a costly way for this district to operate, giving payouts...Another concern regarding this district is the mumbo-jumbo in the local newspapers, the commentary from school officials is filled with generalities so I don't really know what is going on: trust, communication, let's hire a facilatator, but what really is going on, what exactly are the "problems?"


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 14, 2006 at 10:55 pm

anon: The problem is based in the way senior executive hiring and reporting is done - and the way problems in the district are perceived, and dealt with.

The Board hires the Superintendent, and the Superintendent works at the pleasure of the board. Thus, a built in conflict of interest - not an illegal conflict, but one of "association by hiring". From the very first, board members are compelled to spend more time with senior executive staff; it's necessary to the job, because, after all, the board is "managing" the superintendent and her senior staff.

It's very, very difficult to be able to extract oneself, as a board member, from identifying with senior executive staff, or voting on issues that fly directly in the face of the superintendent. It takes an extraordinarily strong board member to be able to maintain a balanced perspective re: teacher/administrator needs, and the senior staff goals (goals that the board, essentially, approves)

It's like a board of directors hiring a CEO. The board does a lot of diligence before making the hire; that makes it more difficult to "change things" should problems arise. Look at HP.

If the Superintendent messes up, it's a direct reflection on the board. The board, generally, doesn't want that to happen, so conflicts and problems tend to get "ironed out" through negotiation and deliberation. That's a good thing. Everyone slips now and then. Healthy organizations allow for failure, assuming those involved learn from their mistakes.

This isn't to say the school board members are only trying to cover their own tails - not at all. They are all very hard-working and dedicated. The board takes its responsibilities very seriously, and trys to do its best.

MFC was hired because she had a reputation for being politically astute, and "tough" with unions. Her reputation preceded her, and she has lived up to it.

Going back to the fact that the board hires the superintendent. What's been happening here for the last 2 years is one example of what happens when a board sees a "problem" looming (political, fiscal, perseonnel related, etc), and goes out to find the right "hired gun" to do the job. The board looks for specific qualities to meet the situation, expecting that the "hired gun" will get the job done.

From my perspective, this is the easy way out, because it takes the board away from more intense, direct contact with the people who do the real work of education - teachers, administrators, program directors, mid-level staff.

Now that the teacher's union contract issue has pretty much been resolved, and parents, PTA and others made a heroic effort to get the tax passed, Callan's "style" has become the leftover problem. She has been aloof and non-communicative - essentially dysfunctional in terms of personnel relations - from the very beginning. This dysfunctionality - in her personnel management, and senior staff assignments - has become toxic to competent administrative governance.

It's been a long standing problem that finally boiled over;; I'm surprised it took this long, based on what I've heard these last years from various teachers and adminstrators.

It's time for a change. Arbitration and negotiation is one way to begin healing this district's personnel. That's a natural, and built into this district's DNA. The hard part is making the personnel change that will jump start a new stage in PAUSD's development.

We need a PAUSD supervisor that knows how to manage the _entire_ spectrum of management responsibilities. It's time for a change.


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Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 15, 2006 at 9:56 am

Wolf: DiSalvo and MFC have a long history together, going back to Milpitas. They apparently didn't get along back then. They were both hired here on the same day, not knowing they would be working together again. Over the 3 1/2 years DiSalvo was at JLS, MFC never watched his back with respect to his staff. There is actually much more background to the story than what was told in the Weekly. I hope people will pressure the press to keep digging until it all comes out.

When the Weekly first broke the story last December that DiSalvo wasn't coming back after his "one year leave of absence,"
Web Link
the district hustled to get a letter out to parents just the day before. Since, according the last week's article, the agreement between DiSalvo and the district was reached in October, 2005, why did they wait until mid-December to tell JLS parents and students? Would they have even bothered to tell the community if the Weekly hadn't come out with a story?

The district gives such scant regard to the parents and students of a school community that it didn't even want to tell them that their principal has been paid off not to work there anymore. That's a clear indication that MFC and her senior cabinet and perhaps even the Board of Education have forgotten that this district exists to serve the children of this community.

RWE is right. It's time for a change. We need to restore trust, integrity, decency and ethical management practices to our district.


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Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 15, 2006 at 7:55 pm

The letter from Barton and the other former PAUSD members was about covering their political behinds retroactively, pure and simple.


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