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Webcast: School district's response to allegations of an improper relationship between teacher, former student

On this week's half-hour webcast, "Behind the Headlines," Weekly Editor in Chief Jocelyn Dong, Publisher Bill Johnson and reporters Elena Kadvany and Gennady Sheyner discuss a three-month investigation by the Weekly into how the Palo Alto school district responded to allegations that a Paly English teacher had an improper relationship with an 18-year-old former student.

Watch this week's webcast here.

Webcasts will be posted every Friday afternoon on PaloAltoOnline.com, as well as on Palo Alto Online's YouTube channel, youtube.com/paweekly.

Check out previous weeks' episodes:

Behind the Headlines: Stanford Students' Activism Against Sexual Assault

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Webcast: School district's response to allegations of an improper relationship between teacher, former student

Uploaded: Fri, Oct 9, 2015, 4:20 pm
Updated: Mon, Oct 12, 2015, 7:40 am

On this week's half-hour webcast, "Behind the Headlines," Weekly Editor in Chief Jocelyn Dong, Publisher Bill Johnson and reporters Elena Kadvany and Gennady Sheyner discuss a three-month investigation by the Weekly into how the Palo Alto school district responded to allegations that a Paly English teacher had an improper relationship with an 18-year-old former student.

Watch this week's webcast here.

Webcasts will be posted every Friday afternoon on PaloAltoOnline.com, as well as on Palo Alto Online's YouTube channel, youtube.com/paweekly.

Check out previous weeks' episodes:

Behind the Headlines: Stanford Students' Activism Against Sexual Assault

Behind the Headlines: Preserving retail, capping office development

Behind the Headlines: Transportation tax, Fiber to the Premise

Behind the Headlines: Fall Arts Preview

Behind the Headlines: Police conduct on campuses, new parkland

Behind the Headlines: Minimum wage, airplane noise

— Palo Alto Weekly staff

Comments

parent
Midtown
on Oct 11, 2015 at 7:35 pm
parent, Midtown
on Oct 11, 2015 at 7:35 pm
9 people like this

Thanks for discussing more about the investigation and surrounding questions that remain.

It's interesting to note that FFF & Lozano are actually intertwined and were the subject of controversy (FFF lost its contract to Carlsbad Unified School District with conflict of interest issues; Lozano Smith had intentionally dragged out a case and overran legal costs from $8000 to $500,000 and, as a result, were ordered to take ethics training; and lawyers from both firms had been sanctioned for lying). In light of their past and track records, I suppose some of the mysteries and misdirection surrounding the legal parties is not surprising. So, why would PAUSD continue to deal with these legal firms when their ethics have been questioned and they've even been sanctioned?

References:
Web Link
Web Link


Penny Wise. Pound Foolish
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2015 at 8:48 am
Penny Wise. Pound Foolish, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2015 at 8:48 am
17 people like this

This district should fire BOTH law firms, do some research, and hire ONE reputable firm to represent it.

Two law firms are a BIG waste of money, which, each firm trying to outdo the other, only escalates exponentially.

How can PAUSD consistently claim poverty with outrageous spending like this?

PAUSD needs to be audited ASAP!


Hanging Chad
Charleston Gardens
on Oct 12, 2015 at 9:17 am
Hanging Chad, Charleston Gardens
on Oct 12, 2015 at 9:17 am
8 people like this

It's illuminating to see Chad Graff's screwups and the whole Fagan Friedman team, usually hidden behind the screen of privilege.


Ed B.
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2015 at 10:29 am
Ed B., Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2015 at 10:29 am
13 people like this

The most important facts that are contained in the several articles are as follows:

(1) the parents of Lauren complained in August 2014 about a possible sexual liason between a teacher and their daughter.

(2) the principal, Kim Diorio, asked repeatedly to place the teacher on a paid leave and remove him from the classroom during an investigation.

(3) The district denied Diorio's request to place the teacher on leave and remove him from the classroom.

(4) As a result, that teacher, who was nearly a year later, following a complaint by a former student, issued a "Notice of Unprofessional Conduct," stating that it was more likely than not that Sharp engaged in "grooming" activities with the student that "facilitated the consummation of a sexual relationship soon after graduation."

"The evidence leads us to conclude," the two-page notice said, "that the allegations have greater credibility than your denial."

"You have failed to meet your obligations to provide students with a safe educational environment and have exploited your position of power to establish the basis for a sexual/romantic relationship with a former student. Moreover, your behavior may have created a hostile environment for this and other students, negatively impacting students and may constitute a violation of the District's prohibition of sexual harassment."

In summary, parents complained about possible teacher-student sex. Principal Diorio on more than one occasion asked to have this teacher placed on leave and removed from student contact. The district did not take that step and denied that request. Instead, Sharp remained in the classroom and in contact with students for an entire year despite the fact that there had been prior complaints about him in 2007 and despite the fact that the new complaint involved a very serious allegation, and despite the fact that the Principal wanted him on leave.

Later, it turned out that the district issued a notice substantiating at least some of the allegations.

That to me is the issue. The rest of this about the law firms and the investigations is in the weeds and doesn't matter to anyone but the most close students of FFF, Chad Graff and the legal follies of this district.

A teacher was accused of grooming a student for sex, allegations that a year later were "found to have more credibility than his denials," i.e., be substantiated. He was not removed from the classroom and has not to this day been removed from the classroom. If he decided to come off leave and go back to work tomorrow there would be nothing to stop him. The district has to this day taken no action to remove him from the classroom.

That is a problem.

Will there be any accountability for that? Candidates for accountability include:

Max McGee
Scott Bowers
Melissa Baten Caswell
Lou Lozano


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