Palo Alto parent Kathy Jordan, a staunch critic of the district's handling of student sexual violence, is the third candidate to announce a bid for two open seats on the Board of Education this fall.
Jordan is a district and PTA Council volunteer, former professional tennis player and graduate of Stanford University. She has become a watchdog of sorts since last spring, when media reports disclosed that a Palo Alto High School student who had been accused of sexual assault remained on campus.
Jordan speaks at nearly every school board meeting and has filed dozens of Public Records Act requests and complaints, including with the California Department of Education and U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, in what she describes as her "quest" to hold the school district accountable for its handling of this and other sexual-assault incidents. She sees this lack of accountability extending to other issues in Palo Alto Unified, including fiscal responsibility, transparency and students' civil rights.
"From what I'm learning and the experience we've all had in the last year -- my awakening -- it seems as though our students are not receiving the protections, benefits, services that they're entitled to under the law," she said in an interview Wednesday. "That's not right. If there's something I can do to help shift that, I would like to."
Jordan has two daughters, one a graduate of the district and the other attending a district middle school.
Jordan is an East Coast native who attended Stanford in the late 1970s. She went on to play tennis professionally, winning seven Grand Slam doubles titles. She also served as a player advocate for the Women's Tennis Association and on the organization's governing body, the Women's Tennis Association Tour.
In the early 1990s, she worked as a field representative and director on U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein's campaign.
In the school district, she was co-secretary for Palo Alto Council of PTAs for four years, served as a parent network co-chair and volunteered on a district committee that recommended a new school calendar.
Jordan sees herself as an "independent voice" needed on the school board. She has repeatedly called for the termination of any administrators who mishandled two Paly sexual-assault cases, one in 2015 and another in 2016. She is pushing for the district to release an external law firm's report on the 2015 incident and sees its absence as indicative of deeper issues with accountability. She's also criticized the district's failure to properly notify its employee unions of an intent to reopen contract negotiations last year, costing $4 million in unbudgeted pay increases.
If elected, Jordan hopes to represent others in the community who she said share her concerns and restore a sense of broken trust in the district.
"I don't think (the) community has felt like it's been heard," she said.
"If you look at it as putting students first and also being respectful of students and families, if you're respectful of the taxpayer ... these are our taxes and these are our children," she added. "They should come first, in my opinion."
Jordan joins current school board President Ken Dauber and newcomer Shounak Dharap in the race. Dauber and board member Terry Godfrey's first terms will end this November. Godfrey is not seeking re-election.