The discovery of a fully redacted version of school board trustee Barb Mitchell's memo questioning federal civil rights authority in Palo Alto supports Mitchell's contention that she intended her memo to be secret from the public. A comparison of the blacked-out document on the PAUSD web site, which is the original version sent by Mitchell, to the inadvertently released version obtained by the Weekly shows a line-by-line match. When Mitchell was contacted by the Weekly to explain her view that the U.S. Department of Education was overreaching its authority in reaching a resolution agreement with PAUSD, she responded with no comment except to demand that the Weekly not publish or write about the memo (see Web Link).
The original version retains only the sender, the recipients (board president Dana Tom, Supt. Kevin Skelly, Assoc. Supt. Charles Young, and attorneys Chad Graff and Lenore Silverman), the date, and the subject line "Privileged and Confidential Attorney Client Correspondence".
See Web Link for a comparison of the redacted and unredacted versions. The redacted version is still available in a Dropbox account set up by the district for public records act requests (see Web Link, at page 84).
The blacked-out document is one of dozens of documents involving attorneys Chad Graff and Lenore Silverman that have been fully redacted by the school district prior to being produced in response to public records requests. Many of those documents were sent or received by Dana Tom, Barb Mitchell, and trustee Camille Townsend.
Graff and Silverman are lawyers from the law firm of Fagen Friedman and Fulfrost. Fagen Friedman and Fulfrost is also the law firm of Laurie Reynolds. Reynolds' presentation on the OCR matter in February was described by the Weekly at that time as "incorrect, misled the board and the public and engaged in pure obfuscation" (see Web Link). Reynolds does not appear in any of the recent correspondence released by the district.
The school board recently approved a $140,000 extension of PAUSD's contract for legal services with Fagen Friedman and Fulfrost. During the board's discussion, trustee Melissa Caswell asked why Mr. Graff was now working on the district's matters and Ms. Reynolds was no longer in evidence. Camille Townsend assured her that the switch was routine.