School board to discuss superintendent's performance | News | Palo Alto Online |


School board to discuss superintendent's performance

Closed-session evaluation on Wednesday to be followed by sex-assault report on Thursday

Days after two Palo Alto Unified School District board members called for Superintendent Max McGee's removal, the school board will meet in closed session on Wednesday afternoon to continue discussing his future.

The board will meet from 1-3 p.m. to discuss an evaluation of McGee's performance, as well as for high school principals and assistant principals, according to the agenda. The board will likely discuss how Palo Alto High School administrators, including Principal Kim Diorio, responded to a report of on-campus student sexual assault last year.

An item for "Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint" is also marked for Wednesday's closed-session agenda.

After a series of closed-session evaluations last week, board Vice President Ken Dauber and member Todd Collins issued separate statements expressing their support for removing McGee as soon as possible.

McGee has come under fire in recent months for his role in several controversies, including most recently the district's discovery that senior leadership failed to reopen negotiations with its employee unions, costing the district $6 million in unbudgeted raises and bonuses. This followed the district's realization last summer that staff had misestimated property tax revenue, causing an ongoing, multimillion-dollar budget shortfall.

McGee has also been criticized for the district's response to reports of student sexual violence at Paly that came to light this spring.

A national law firm the district asked to investigate senior leadership's handling of an alleged sexual assault at Paly is set to present a report on its findings to the public on Thursday from 4-6 p.m. at the district office. Board President Terry Godfrey said the report would be released publicly in advance of the meeting, but it is unclear when.

Two lawyers from the firm, Gina Smith and Leslie Gomez of Cozen O'Connor, presented their report to the school board in two separate closed-session meetings last Wednesday. The lawyers will also attend this week's public meeting. Smith and Gomez have conducted numerous high-profile sexual misconduct investigations at colleges and universities across the country, including at Baylor University, the University of Virginia and Occidental College, among others.

Thursday's meeting will broadcasted by the Midpeninsula Media Center, according to the district.

Anyone who wishes to address the trustees on Wednesday can do so at 1 p.m. before they go into closed session. The meeting will be held in the Aspen Room at the district office, 25 Churchill Ave.


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10 people like this
Posted by Firing your way to success
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2017 at 1:46 pm

The PAUSD district seems poised to continue a culture of trying to fire its way to success. [Portion removed.] It will be interesting to see if it works. So far, all is in tatters.

Will the district be better because of them? I think not.

30 people like this
Posted by Keep Trying
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 19, 2017 at 2:15 pm

I think you are right, the jury is still out on whether more accountability and transparency will improve results. But given how bad things had gotten in the last 10 years, with truly dreadful administrators and real harm to students, I'm glad somebody is willing to step up to try something different. What we had before sure wasn't working.

60 people like this
Posted by PTA Member
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 19, 2017 at 2:24 pm

Thanks to Dauber and Collins for being willing to create accountability for the district staff. Otherwise what's the point of a school board? If making multi million dollar mistakes and screwing up sexual harassment compliance isn't enough to get you fired what is?

41 people like this
Posted by Public Information Requests
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 19, 2017 at 3:49 pm

Although McGee promised Public Information Requests would be on the PAUSD web site, only a few are posted online.

Those that are posted are revealing. The former Assistant Superintendent Holly Wade was reprimanded for altering a memo related to an OCR investigation but telling the Superintendent it was the same. This involved work with the law firm and the attorney Wade said she needed to retain to do her job in her promotion to Assistant Superintendent. A Board member expressed concern about the attorney's work and supervision of other attorneys at the time.

It shows McGee's terrible choices to fill senior jobs managing legal and compliance, even when parents warned him this was the wrong person for the job. Recent reports show she was not even complying while under an OCR investigation.

Also interesting is Palo Alto High School principal complaining she was upset someone cc:d the Board on concerns, and pointing out to administrators the identity of a person at a meeting who had filed complaints.

There is a principal telling Administrators a Board member is behind parent concerns, and McGee asking if the Board member is man or a woman.

It's all creepy, showing Administrators who do not understand the Board is in charge, that parents and community members are paying their salaries through their taxes and have a right to contact their elected Board members about subordinates work at any time.

2 people like this
Posted by Interested Voter
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 19, 2017 at 9:05 pm

I'm curious about how the board can evaluate principals and assistant principals. I thought the only district employee that the board has jurisdiction over is the superintendent.

30 people like this
Posted by focus on the facts
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 19, 2017 at 10:24 pm

Correction to this story -- the story says "McGee has also been criticized for the district's response to reports of student sexual violence at Paly that came to light this spring."

But McGee is also rightfully criticized for his failure to correctly respond to the sexual assault of a student by teacher Ronnie Farrell. Where is the goddamned Title IX investigation into Ronnie Farrell. HE'S LITERALLY IN PRISON FOR ASSAULTING A GIRL IN THE SCHOOL. IN THE CLASSROOM. WHERE IS THE TITLE IX INVESTIGATION.

That is a way more serious issue. Everyone is focused on the peer harassment but in the last five years the male principal and two male teachers were found to have sexually harassed students. One is in prison for assaulting them.

That alone is enough reason to get rid of McGee.

4 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 19, 2017 at 10:43 pm

Sanctimonious City is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

21 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 19, 2017 at 10:49 pm

Sanctimonious City is a registered user.

Let's make a deal.

In the private sector it would take approximately $6.7M to fund a $200K per year retirement benefit.

Coincidentally, that is almost the exact amount Mr. McGee's alleged oversight cost the community. Maybe he could finish out his term, forgo his pension and we can call it even.

2 people like this
Posted by @Sanctimonious Poster
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 19, 2017 at 10:54 pm

[Post removed.]

12 people like this
Posted by Pigs eat from public troff
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 20, 2017 at 2:29 am

Too many administrators view their positions as opportunities to loaf and lie and eat like kings from the public troff. Watch the school board pay big bucks to get just one of them to leave with the promise of false praise that can be used to sucker another school board down the road.

22 people like this
Posted by Keith Ferrell
a resident of Southgate
on Sep 20, 2017 at 9:37 am

Why won't this meeting be broadcast by Midpeninsula Media Center? According to MMC, the district specifically requested that they not broadcast the meeting and only record it.

Seems a bit odd. Why would the district want to limit the output of the message?

Is this part of the transparency we were promised?


Moderator's Note: According to the district, it has now arranged with the Media Center for the live broadcast of tomorrow's meeting.

13 people like this
Posted by Comment
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2017 at 2:19 pm

Renaming schools and sanctuary district resolutions and other nonsense have been deliberate decoy activities designed to distract the public from the ongoing CYA controversies with OCR and fiscal management. McGee needs to be officially terminated.

2 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 20, 2017 at 3:40 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

@Pigs Eat. If you want to snark, please spell correctly. It's trough!

Like this comment
Posted by curious cat
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 20, 2017 at 7:58 pm

Anyone see the broadcast?
What are the key takeaways?

1 person likes this
Posted by Board Watcher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 20, 2017 at 8:10 pm

Broadcast is tomorrow.

Report can be found here: Web Link

1 person likes this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 20, 2017 at 9:15 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

I asked my former SJUSD parent if they would take the Administrator's job at PAUSD and I was told: " no, no, no, NO ". The situation now is VERY TOXIC to anyone that would be able to apply for such a job.

First, the MANY School Board issues, including TRANSPARENCY when having " closed door " meetings has to stop. If the Board does not like this, LEAVE!!
The PUBLIC must see the extent of the damage and how the Board is handling it. IT IS YOUR MONEY BEING SPENT HERE!! YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO SEE WHERE IT GOES!!

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