Jordan ahead in school-board campaign fundraising | News | Palo Alto Online |


Jordan ahead in school-board campaign fundraising

Ashlund, Dauber are neck and neck in contributions for school board race

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Newcomer school board candidate Kathy Jordan has a sizable lead in campaign contributions, having raised more than double each of the other five candidates, according to campaign finance documents released Thursday. She is followed by incumbent Ken Dauber and newcomer Stacey Ashlund.

The new documents, which include contributions made between July 1 and Sept. 22, show Jordan, a parent and staunch district critic, has received $36,970 in total contributions this year.

She received several sizable contributions, from $500 to $1,000, from parents who have been vocal on recent hot-button issues including Title IX reform, the reporting of weighted grade point averages and the district's sex-education curriculum. She also appears to have strong support from donors with Chinese surnames.

Melissa Chiwa Anderson, Jordan's campaign manager, contributed $1,000, her campaign finance report shows. Former school board member Camille Townsend gave Jordan's campaign $200.

Jordan has this year received more than $3,000 in non-monetary contributions -- food, ice, bottled water, pencils and the like -- from Carol Chan, whose occupation is listed as homemaker; Danny Epstein, a parent and software engineer; and Debra Wittenbrink, also listed as a homemaker, according to her campaign finance report. Chan has also donated about $1,500 to Jordan's campaign to date this year.

Jordan also loaned her campaign $250.

Jordan has spent just under $10,000 on advertising, campaign flyers, yard signs and other campaign literature. She has about $26,900 remaining in her campaign coffers.

View the candidates' 460 forms: Stacey Ashlund | Ken Dauber | Shounak Dharap | Kathy Jordan | Alex Scharf

Dauber, the current board president and only incumbent in the race, and special-education parent advocate Ashlund are neck and neck in fundraising. Ashlund has raised $15,312 to date this year and Dauber, $15,272.

Ashlund's are mostly smaller donations, several of which came from current and past Palo Alto elected officials. School board member Terry Godfrey, whose term expires in November, contributed $100, as did former school board member Heidi Emberling, City Councilman Tom Dubois and former mayor Nancy Shepherd. Mayor Liz Kniss gave Ashlund $250 and Gary Kremen, chair of the the Santa Clara Valley Water District board of directors, $125.

Julie Lythcott Haims, a Palo Alto parent and Stanford University's former dean of freshman and undergraduate advising, also gave $100 to Ashlund's campaign. Elaine Hahn, the former president of district fundraising organization Partners in Education (PiE), contributed $250.

Both Ashlund and candidate Shounak Dharap, who were endorsed by the Palo Alto teachers union, were bolstered by individual $1,250 donations from the California Teachers Association's Association for Better Citizenship, which provides funding to local and state candidates recommended by the teachers association.

A $1,000 in-kind monetary contribution came from Marcie McCue, who oversees marketing and communications for Palo Alto news aggregation company Flipboard. McCue hosted a kickoff party with food and drink for Ashlund, according to the finance report.

Ashlund also loaned her campaign $100. She has spent about $7,000, mostly on fees associated with her campaign website, local newspaper advertisements, lawn signs and other campaign literature.

Ashlund has a ending cash balance of about $8,300, the documents show.

Dauber raised about $10,600 during this reporting period. He received support from three of his current school board colleagues: Vice President Jennifer DiBrienza ($500), board member Todd Collins ($500) and Godfrey ($100). Former school board member Barbara Klausner, now the executive director of tutoring nonprofit DreamCatchers, also gave $500, as did Amado Padilla, a former board member and Stanford University Graduate School of Education professor. He also received $205 from Gary Kremen.

Dauber also saw $100 contributions from community leaders including Allan Seid, the founder of Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI), and Jill Asher, the executive director of the Magical Bridge Foundation, which builds all-inclusive playgrounds.

Thomas Culbertson, a teacher at Juana Briones Elementary School, also gave Dauber $100.

Dauber has given his own campaign about $5,500 to date this year. He has spent about $7,000 in total this year on advertising, yard signs and other campaign paraphernalia, with an ending cash balance of about $5,300.

Dharap, an attorney, has raised $10,274 in total contributions this year and about $7,600 during this reporting period, his campaign finance document shows. Larger contributions came from the San Francisco firm he works for, The Arns Law Firm ($1,000), and his mother Chanda Dharap ($1,000).

Former school board member Dana Tom gave $100 to Dharap's campaign.

He received $555 in non-monetary contributions from SoulCycle Palo Alto, a bicycle spinning studio that gave a five-class package ($155), and Tracy Trimble, an attorney who provided wine for hosted events ($400).

Dharap spent about $6,200 in this time period, including on lawn signs, canvassing software and campaign events, with about $4,000 remaining in his coffers.

Candidate Alex Scharf, a recent graduate of the district, is far behind the other candidates with contributions totaling $774. His mother, Cindy Goral, contributed $500 and Ruth Gordon, a retiree, gave $100, his campaign finance report shows. His only expenditures are on law signs and stakes. His campaign finance report shows an ending cash balance of $378.

Candidate Christopher Boyd did not file a campaign finance statement for this time period.

Related content:

VIDEO: School board debate


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Editor's note: To clarify the identity of Jordan's campaign manager, who shares a first and last name with another Melissa Anderson in Palo Alto who is involved with Paly Sports Boosters, we have included the woman's middle name.

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36 people like this
Posted by Jordan Supporter
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 28, 2018 at 10:47 am

[Post removed.]

28 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 28, 2018 at 1:34 pm

Kathy Jordan wanted to meet with Paly's Campanile student staff and changed her mind when their advisors insisted on sitting in the meeting. She wanted to meet with students without other adults present. Is that the kind of board member we want?

57 people like this
Posted by Get your facts straight
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 28, 2018 at 2:17 pm

Dear teacher [portion removed.]:
Why should Kathy want to meet students in your presence when you have shown yourself to be entirely biased towards Ms. Diorio and responsible for feeding the students mis-information? You could easily have suggested a neutral third party.

61 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 28, 2018 at 2:30 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

It appears that it is the adults that have been giving the students bad advice which is the problem in the first place. Wojcicki allowed the paper to run multiple articles stating that Oct 2016 assault was consensual. However, the only basis for that assertion is the word of the boy's attorney. The records are sealed. On the other hand, the victim has made statement that make it blatantly clear that it was not consensual. Here's an example:

"he grabbed me at my waist and he locked the door. He started kissing me. I said, I don’t know if I can do this. I can’t do this. No, it hurts. I don’t want to do this.”

Yet, these statements were not included in any article. The only side that was given was the side to defend that the incident was consensual. So, what message does that send to the victim?

What seems to becoming clear is that the students were given bad information and advice by Wojcicki. Students wrote the article as if "consensual" was an official ruling. They stated they got the information from the boy's lawyer and Diorio, but those claims can not be verified. So, why would Wojcicki allow that to be published? The students have become pawns in the school's effort to squash the voice of the victim.

Kathy Jordan's efforts regarding the Campanile have been to clear the name of the victim and stop the student paper from trying to make it sound like she was a willing participant. I see that as an outstanding character trait for a board member. And, given her support, it looks like many others agree with that.

50 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 28, 2018 at 2:43 pm

@Teacher, give it a rest! Let’s stop pointing fingers!

As adults, let’s examine the CDC data which shows that 25% of kids in high school have experienced sexual assault. PAUSD does NOT have a culture to support victims, and hence few dare to even report. PAUSD’s toxic culture is no different than the White House.

Let’s instead spend our energy on solving this critical issue, change the culture, support our children, let them be safe. Stop feeding student writers with untruthful statements by calling the alleged rape “consensual” and stop using student publication as a CYA propaganda for administration!

3 people like this
Posted by last names matter
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 28, 2018 at 2:58 pm

Didn't we rename "Jordan" to "Greene"?

39 people like this
Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 28, 2018 at 5:02 pm

I don't have a dog in the fights between Kathy Jordan and the Campanile, the journalism teachers, the former principal, the current principal, the current Gunn principal, the school board, a former Paly assistant principal, etc.
What I do know is that there is no way I want all that on the school board. Running for office should be a way to get things done, not settle scores. "In league with." Really?

34 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 28, 2018 at 5:05 pm

Great point, Paly Parent. The school board is finally dialing down the drama a bit. Why elect more drama like this?

38 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 28, 2018 at 5:52 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

@Gunn Parent,
I like how you categorize sexual assaults and other PAUSD missteps as "drama". Sadly, they have long-lasting impacts on students and their education. I think that's what the board is supposed to deal with, aren't they? It has been shown that the district and school made efforts to conceal communications between staff and from students to staff about a variety of topics, including the 2016 bathroom assault at Paly. Yes, it's too bad that PAUSD has a black eye due to those events. However, just because the "drama" has been "dialed down" does not mean that there is still a lot of improvement to be made. One of the main areas is in the area of transparency. You'll hear the board mention the word often, but is that what they're really working towards? Eliminating the two-meeting rule, limiting the time for public comments, limiting the scope of public records requests, confidentiality clauses in lawsuits, etc...

Listen to what Alex Scharf has described as his experience going through Paly and the Special Ed department.

Dialing down the drama is a lot different than solving problems.

6 people like this
Posted by Curious
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 28, 2018 at 6:30 pm

Just how critical are campaign contributions to PAUSD elections?

Does it go towards more of those paper signs you see on front lawns and street corners?

41 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 28, 2018 at 7:45 pm

Dialing down drama is exactly what Catholic churches have been doing - hush the allegations, don’t make a big deal, ship the priests to other locations, so they can continue to molest many more children.

Oh, when the district had its $6M blunder, the board did dial down the drama. They didn’t take action when someone mis-calculated and when the error wasn’t caught after many levels of review. It was the taxpayer’s $6M. How many more blunders should we tolerate before taking action?

2 people like this
Posted by CMG
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 28, 2018 at 9:50 pm

CMG is a registered user.

Campaign contributions go to signs, newspaper ads (print and online), facebook ads, kickoff events, websites, pamphlets, mailings, voter lists...

14 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2018 at 11:20 pm

After watching the first debate, I am pleased to see such promising candidates.

@Alex Scharf - the odds are stacked against you, but I just want you to know that win or lose,I hope you will continue to be active in improving our schools. I don’t have much to give but would contribute to your campaign because I think you elevate the discussion. I have been so impressed by your comments.

This has been the best discussion I’ve seen by school board candidates in years.

23 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 28, 2018 at 11:25 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

Yes, I agree Alex. Keep it up. Gives a real look at how PAUSD treats some of it's students. Dauber should be ashamed when he tries to take credit for progress in the district.

20 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 28, 2018 at 11:44 pm

@Samuel L, I wonder if you are paying attention. Did you notice that the Superintendent, CBO, head of HR, head of special ed, Title IX officer, and the Paly principal were all replaced? Did you notice the settlement of the 5 year OCR ordeal, the Cozen investigations, and the creation of the Title IX office that the OCR called a model for K-12 school systems? Did you notice the 2 year plan for special ed improvement with $1.5M in extra money into the first year? I haven't seen results yet, but that's a good start.

If you really think that trying to make their meetings end earlier by reducing public comment to a mere 30 minutes per item and trying to pass more items in one meeting instead of two (not to mention just talking less themselves) is the worst thing they are doing, then they have come a long, long way. This was a group that 2 years ago couldn't produce meeting minutes, and 5 years ago was having illegal closed sessions and running its meetings till midnight or later.

So yes, I think the last thing they need is drama like Kathy Jordan [portion removed.]

17 people like this
Posted by Oscar Wild
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 28, 2018 at 11:47 pm

"They didn’t take action when someone mis-calculated and when the error wasn’t caught after many levels of review. It was the taxpayer’s $6M. How many more blunders should we tolerate before taking action?"

The Superintendent, Chief Financial Officer, and Asst Superintendent of HR were all pushed out and replaced. Is that the kind of action you were looking for?

14 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 28, 2018 at 11:57 pm

"Yes, I agree Alex. Keep it up. Gives a real look at how PAUSD treats some of it's students. Dauber should be ashamed when he tries to take credit for progress in the district."

Dauber took office in Dec 2014. Alex Scharf graduated from Paly in 2015. So yes, any progress on Dauber's watch has been since Scharf left school.

23 people like this
Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 29, 2018 at 7:14 am

Just read the comments on the thread comparing our school district to the Catholic Church. And then imagine Kathy Jordan at school board meetings railing about firing principals because they are in cahoots with teachers she doesn't like. We have a new principal that she has also targetted. The part of this story that worries me is that Jordan might have enough money to buy her way onto the school board.

18 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 29, 2018 at 9:01 am

@Oscar Wild Before the $6 blunder, there was the $5M blunder - that’s $11M of tax payer’s $$! How many years of parent donations would it take to make up these gaps? My child’s elementary school couldn’t even let PTA make photocopies that year due to the shortfall of money. We all worked very hard to chip in to make the ends meet.

I don’t think it serves community well when we have multiple levels of supervision but no one is detailed enough to catch these big mistakes. The board’s responsibility is to provide oversight - but they failed, time after time. They didn’t catch the mis-calculation of property tax income, they missed a contract negotiation deadline. I believe we need a board member who has the depth and super attention to detail, that the current board lacks. Based on the debates, I do think that Ms. Jordan is the most thorough and detailed candidate among the six.

23 people like this
Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 29, 2018 at 9:31 am

@Parent, this is an election for the school board not for district auditor. The idea that Jordan or any board member is going to check up on the work of every staff member is silly. The right response to employee incompetence is to get new employees. Based on this thread it looks like the board did that starting at the top.

What's apparent is that Jordan has an ax to grind and is trying to get on the board to take revenge on a long list of perceived enemies. [Portion removed.]

38 people like this
Posted by Kathy Jordan
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 29, 2018 at 9:35 am

Kathy Jordan is a registered user.

@Teacher -
[Portion removed.] A Paly Campanile staffer approached me at a school board meeting in Oct. 2017 and invited me to meet with her and other Campanile student staffers after I requested the Campanile retract its assertion that the Oct. 2016 incident was "subsequently determined to be consensual." I agreed to meet, but to meet with students only, because I knew from public records that their teacher advisor was communicating and coordinating with the Paly principal, whom the Cozen report said did not follow the laws in response to the Oct. 2016 incident.

I emailed the Campanile editors directly for the same reason [portion removed.]

In my opinion, the students were not presented with all the accurate information at the time ---- prior to writing these articles in the Campanile.

According to news articles, the victim was 14 years old at the time of the incident. The legal age of consent in California is 18. She could not legally consent. And she said that she did not consent, alleging sexual assault to KTVU, the Mercury News, and, according to the Cozen report, to Paly counselors, Paly administrators, and to the police.

13 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2018 at 9:45 am

The issues that are important to me are the financing mess and the renaming of schools which was a waste of time and money.

30 people like this
Posted by Green Acres parent
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 29, 2018 at 9:45 am

Green Acres parent is a registered user.

@Gunn Parent
The board can't take much credit for replacing all the administrators you mentioned. They only took action because Kathy Jordan kept pushing for it, filed public records requests, and notified the press of the issues she found. She was the one who raised the alarm in the first place when she noticed that the Paly principal had sat on sexual harassment reports for three years. Having attended many board meetings, it’s quite clear to me that the board would have done much less if it weren’t for Kathy.

The blame for the recent drama falls squarely on those who haven’t followed the law, not on Kathy for exposing them. These "imagined forces of evil" seem very real to me, and no doubt seem even more real to the victims.

9 people like this
Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 29, 2018 at 9:47 am

[Post removed.]

31 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2018 at 10:01 am

@Gunn parent,
Do you realize that exactly that kind of recitation after the OCR civil rights violations cases was given a few years ago BEFORE the Title IX stuff, to try to aggressively claim everything was fixed and hunky dory. The district has in no way turned over all the bad apples that could spoil the whole bunch again, even in leadership positions, and more importantly, the CULTURE is little different among staff and leadership.

Kim Diorio learned the hard way that trusting leadership when she should have been trying harder to do the right thing in the situation in front of her can backfire. But appreciating it enough to finally understand where to cast blame is a long way from actually putting students’ interests first.

We have other stuff under the rug that is festering, people in leadership positions going back to the Skelly years who were fully complicit in the since-rebuked behavior but have never changed, and the district shows no signs of having changed or being able to deal with the stuff under the rug still in an honest, trustworthy, conciliatory, and constructive manner than they did the litany of past problems, and are as poised as ever to make the next blunders. A lot of people tried to dismiss the Title IX complaints in the same way that you are doing - trying to handwave about turnover, time passed, settlements, but with absolutely no sense of taking responsibility for and righting ongoing wrongs and bad culture/behavior. It’s like a sick signal to people still suffering: we will now make it even harder for you to get help because we have “solved” that last pesky problem and are back to digging in on our perfectness and protecting our “brand” where we don’t solve problems, we blame and come down hard on parents/students for having them.

Not a single thing you bring up addresses the factors that caused our district’s persistent violations of student rights and bad behavior. And the fact that you are being so assertive but avoiding the cultural, legal, and other factors more directly at issue, is so strikingly similar to what happened BEFORE Title IX but AFTER other OCR violations, if such an attitude is prevalent, it virtually ensures that we are condemned to repeat the past.

Our students need people like Jordan who are not afraid to face the truth and solve problems. We don’t need more window dressing and whitewashing. I haven’t made up my mind about my vote, but I know enough about our district to see that the attitude that problems are to be hidden, suppressed, whitewashed, and swept under the rug or brushed away, serves no one except lawyers who see our district as an easy target (and that includes if we get in-house Counsel without rules to keep them from being in-house CYA ala the past).

27 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 29, 2018 at 10:16 am

Samuel L. is a registered user.

@paly parent. Those two phrases are synonymous. Not sure of the issue. Jordan also could have used "in cahoots" or "worked hand in glove" or could even have said "schemed"

Whatever words are used, Jordan has shown that she'll ensure that the board is transparent, follows the law, looks out for the students and keeps an eye on the budget. It'll be refreshing to have someone be honest with the public.

20 people like this
Posted by FYI
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2018 at 3:34 pm

FYI is a registered user.

@paly parent,

FYI, registered users, which Kathy Jordan is above, can edit their posts for a period of time after they submit/post them.

You are the one who seems like you have an axe to grind. Someone who as worked as selflessly as Kathy Jordan has -- willing to take care of the most vulnerable [portion removed] -- would be a good person to have on the board.

13 people like this
Posted by Wow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 29, 2018 at 5:17 pm

Wow is a registered user.

A couple points:

1 - Jordan didn't edit her comment. You have 5 minutes as a registered user to edit; hers was deleted and then replaced the next day. Draw your own conclusions.

2 - Jordan had zero impact on the board's actions. The fact is that sometimes she was right and often wrong in her statements and proposals. But always scathing and dramatic. And that's exactly what we don't need.

Jordan deserves credit for being an independent voice, willing to speak up. But her tactics and stridency ultimately caused trouble, much more than fixing it. Since stridency is her brand now, you have to decide if that's what you want on your school board.

Editor's Note: Ms. Jordan's earlier post was deleted by the moderator because there were portions that didn't not conform to our terms of use. Like many posters whose comments are so deleted, and not at our request, she made some changes and posted a new comment. The moderator felt that took care of the problem except for one item, which was deleted.

36 people like this
Posted by Get Your Facts Straight
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 29, 2018 at 9:40 pm

Get Your Facts Straight is a registered user.

@Wow Kathy has always been calm, focused on facts, and extremely logical. You may find her strident because she is pointing out the many many mistakes the board and administration have made over the past years, and it makes you defensive. She has shown in many many arenas on the world stage, that she is well able to work in teams and get large things accomplished.
Everything she has talked about in front of the board has shown that she cares deeply for all students and our community. Her attention to detail, her work ethic, and her stamina prove that she has the courage to tackle the problems in PAUSD.
We need someone like her, who will create a culture of respect and logic, instead of a culture of personal attack, which is what is currently prevalent.

40 people like this
Posted by Green Acres parent
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 29, 2018 at 9:53 pm

Green Acres parent is a registered user.

What tactics are you referring to? She speaks at board meetings, emails the board and the media, files UCP complaints on behalf of victims, files public records requests, etc. Which of these “tactics” bothers you? Frankly, she has been very restrained considering how the victims were mistreated.

You claim Kathy had zero impact on the board. How many board meetings have you attended? You claim Kathy was more often wrong than right. Would you care to provide examples? You described her as scathing and dramatic. Can you give examples of where she exaggerated? All of her claims are backed up with evidence. The same can’t be said of yours.

Kathy speaks for many of us. You may not like her tone, but she speaks the truth.

42 people like this
Posted by Calsildia
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 29, 2018 at 10:03 pm

Calsildia is a registered user.

Many of us know that Ms. Jordan has made significant impact on board actions and decisions. She has done a stellar job advocating for students and families whose voices have been ignored by PAUSD. [Portion removed.]

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