The merger would allow Abilities United and the larger, nearly 100-year-old Gatepath to reduce their administrative and payroll costs, cover two counties and position the organization to become a top-tier nonprofit capable of attracting additional grants and funding, leaders from both organizations said.
The new organization would not cut services, both agencies confirmed. They share a mission of providing services to children and adults with disabilities, including early intervention and training, inclusive education, physical and occupational therapy and community integration through jobs and housing, the officials said.
Gatepath has 11 program sites spanning from Daly City to Sunnyvale and Abilities United has two locations in Palo Alto. The Abilities United locations at 3864 Middlefield Road and 525 E. Charleston Road, including its preschool, would remain and services would be expanded, Gatepath CEO Bryan Neider, who will head the merged organization, said during a phone interview on Friday, Feb. 22.
Gatepath has two preschools in Mountain View and Burlingame, and with Abilities United's existing Milestones Preschool, Neider anticipates serving more children.
Neider said under preliminary calculations only about six positions might be cut. Abilities United is working to find other positions outside of administration for employees who face layoffs. Although the full merger won't take place until the end of the current fiscal year ending June 30, the agencies expect to begin the transition in April, he said.
School district defends decision on accused harasser
The Palo Alto school district is asking a judge overseeing a thorny student sexual-harassment case to uphold a district decision to allow the accused student to participate in robotics, a move defended in court filings as a "good faith exercise of discretion" that protected both students' rights.
An attorney filed in court on Monday the district's response to a legal motion from a female Gunn High School student, whose parents turned to the courts last month to keep the male Gunn student — who was found to have sexually harassed her — from participating in the school's robotics team, to which they both belong. Both students are 16 years old and had dated briefly.
After determining last fall that text messages and verbal comments from the boy constituted sexual harassment, the district took numerous steps to keep the students separate at school, including banning him from robotics. But then the district reversed that decision in January as part of a settlement negotiated with his family, court documents show. The boy receives special-education services for a speech disability and is now alleging that the district violated his rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in its attempt to protect the girl's under gender-equity law Title IX.
Monday's court filings illustrate how the district, which has been working to improve after years of criticism and legal findings related to Title IX, grappled with its legal obligations in this case.
The district's response details measures they put in place to protect the girl's safety at school last fall. The school is actively working to keep the two students separate, including providing additional supervision if both want to attend a school dance this Friday, court documents state.
The girl's attorneys are set to file their own response brief this Friday. Judge Helen Williams is scheduled to hear the case on March 8.
Downtown to see more roof-decks
For employees in downtown Palo Alto who wish their workplaces had roof-decks, things are suddenly looking up.
In a broad expansion of its original plan, the City Council passed on Monday night an ordinance that would allow downtown buildings that are too tall or too dense to meet the city's zoning code to add roof-decks. In doing so, the council agreed to go well beyond the initial staff proposal, which would have limited the new law to seven buildings that exceed the city's 50-foot height limit.
Instead, by a 5-2 vote, the council voted to broaden the law so that it applies not only to buildings that are too tall to comply with the current development standards but also to those that are too dense. The revision expands the number of downtown buildings that can apply for roof-decks from seven to more than 110, according to city planner Graham Owen.
Council members Tom DuBois and Lydia Kou both dissented, citing the potential noise that would be created at the dozens of new gathering places.
In passing the law, the council generally agreed that roof-decks are a desirable amenity, particularly in the downtown area. That view is shared by Houzz, the interior-design company that asked the city in 2017 for a permit to construct a roof-deck at 285 Hamilton Ave., directly across the street from City Hall. The request, which was vetted by the council in November 2017 and which won the Planning and Transportation Commission's support last October, received the council's long-awaited blessing on Monday night.
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