Palo Alto Unified Board of Education President Jennifer DiBrienza announced the terms of the settlement agreement after it was approved in closed session.
They also agreed that district staff would meet with the young woman, who the Weekly is not identifying to protect her privacy, to discuss the handling of her case and "steps taken to improve similar processes going forward," DiBrienza said. This meeting took place in December, she said. Title IX Compliance Officer Megan Farrell and Trustee Todd Collins attended the meeting, according to the settlement agreement.
The family declined to comment. They previously alleged that Paly and district administrators failed to properly handle the young woman's report that a male student sexually assaulted her on the school quad in November 2015, when she was a junior. They started the process of pursuing legal action against the district more than a year ago.
Cozen O'Connor, a national law firm the district brought in to investigate its handling of this and a 2016 report of student sexual assault at Paly, found that district responded promptly but failed to take the legally required steps to investigate and assess the impact of the incident on the young woman.
The investigation was not documented — there was no written investigation report — and the school failed to determine whether the female student was experiencing a hostile environment at school as a result of the alleged assault, which is required under federal civil rights law Title IX, the lawyers said.
Restraining order filed against school supe's husband
Marielena Gaona-Mendoza, a trustee on the Ravenswood City School District Board of Education, has filed a restraining order against the superintendent's husband, Duane Goff, alleging he verbally harassed her on multiple occasions at a district food bank.
The restraining order — which San Mateo County Superior Court granted temporarily — illustrates escalating tensions between Gaona-Mendoza and Superintendent Gloria Hernandez-Goff, of whom the trustee has been openly critical of since she was elected in 2016.
Gaona-Mendoza filed the request for a civil harassment restraining order on Dec. 27 after an incident at the semimonthly food bank at Costaño to attend a holiday toy drive distribution for students and had to walk past the food bank, where Goff was present.
The two had had at least two altercations at the food bank in the past, so Gaona-Mendoza said she tried to avoid Goff but that he approached her, said she was disrupting the program and asked her to leave.
A video recorded by Julian Garcia, a former Ravenswood school board candidate who told police he was with Gaona-Mendoza, shows Goff following Gaona-Mendoza closely as she walks through a parking lot toward the school gym. Goff tells police that she's "trespassing."
Gaona-Mendoza said that on two previous occasions when she first went to visit and then volunteer at the food bank last spring, Goff asked her to leave and called the police.
In a statement to police, Goff said that he had called police on those occasions because she was "harassing" parents at the food bank.
School board backs teacher housing proposal
A proposal to build affordable housing for local teachers and staff in Palo Alto took another step forward on Tuesday with the Palo Alto Unified school board directing staff to identify a funding source to contribute to the project.
The board took no formal action but all expressed support for the project, which has been spearheaded by Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian since early last year. He is hoping to build from 60 to 120 housing units on county-owned land at 231 Grant Ave., across from the Palo Alto Courthouse, for teachers and staff from districts who agree to support the project financially.
In order to fully fund the project <0x2014> now estimated at $48 million <0x2014> Simitian is banking on five regional school districts to pay $600,000 for their share of the units. The Foothill-De Anza Community College District, Mountain View Whisman School District and Los Altos School District have taken action to find funding and the Mountain View Los Altos District is in process of doing so, Simitian said.
The Palo Alto City Council has also set aside $3 million in developer fees for the project and the Board of Supervisors, $6 million from a fund generated by Stanford University under the university's 2000 general use permit with the county. The county is also contributing to the 1.5-acre site, valued at $12 million.
To construct a 60-unit building, it would cost about $600,000 per unit, Simitian said.
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