There's a simpler way to look at the story depicted in "New school district policies given 'green light' by feds and state" (Weekly, 11/8).
It's in everyone's interest to resolve allegations of school-based bullying as quickly as possible. While we are frustrated by delays in some policy revisions, our district has not waited to comply with new federal and state laws designed to make students safer.
Working with school leaders and parents, our new reporting and investigation forms will make it easier for students and parents to notify staff of incidents, and easier for staff to document and follow up on complaints. These strengthened response procedures support all students, whether or not they belong to legally protected groups.
While we have been cooperating with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to complete a resolution agreement, our school district is not pressing to develop a new model policy for the state. On the contrary, we asked the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California School Boards Association (CSBA) to work with OCR to develop guidelines for all school districts in our state.
Over the past year, OCR met with both CDE and CSBA to address federal compliance concerns with state procedures, and we believe they continue to work together to resolve different viewpoints. All California school districts will benefit once there is clear and consistent guidance on meeting both sets of requirements.
Students are in very good hands at our schools, with skilled and conscientious principals, teachers, staff members and parents who care deeply about their well-being. We want all students and parents to let them know if safety or inclusion is ever a concern.
I'm writing as an individual, and not on behalf of my school board colleagues.
N. California Avenue, Palo Alto
A matter of architectural taste
Twenty-three members of the Palo Alto architectural design community and I wish to voice concern about some residents' current efforts to resolve their discontent about what they call "ugly" modern architecture in Palo Alto.
The Weekly reported their solution promotes restriction of commercial projects to "traditional" architectural design styles matching existing historic buildings. They mistakenly think the code's goal of "compatible" design strives to have projects be identical with or imitate existing style. Design compatibility refers to materials and construction quality, overall building massing and site organization, a basic architectural premise for successful design of projects within a context of existing development.
We agree discussions with agencies responsible for design standards should be held and can be productive from all viewpoints. We believe, rather than dictating design style, the public would be better served by improved design review processes and regulations and city agency enforcement with the goal of good design above city benefit trade offs or quick result. Education of all concerned about basic architectural design principals improves the ability to communicate and should also be part of this process. The American Institute of Architects, Santa Clara Valley has experience in assisting in these activities.
We urge consideration of the fact that Palo Alto is a modern, creative community with changing demographics whose sense of place is NOT an imposed historic style. Palo Alto's architectural design style should reflect the here and now of this valley and not replicate the past.
Kent Mather, architect
Emerson Street, Palo Alto
Slow progress on freedoms
I just wrote a paper in my history class about same-sex marriage. I can't believe that we're still talking about people's right to marry whom they want. Less than 50 years ago it was illegal to marry anyone outside of your race. A mixed-race family like mine would not have existed. People fight same-sex marriage because it's against their religion or they claim that it's not in the Bible. In this country there is a separation of church and state so that argument should not be considered when talking about laws. It's unfortunate how slowly we are progressing as a society. I know we will get there eventually, but it should not be this hard or take this long to give people the freedoms that our country is supposed to be based on.
Van Auken Circle, Palo Alto
Excellent re-entry article
I thank Eric Van Susteren for the excellent article on the David Lewis Community Re-Entry Program. I had the pleasure of having known David, and the continuation of the program in his name and honor is commendable. I have also known Robert Hoover, executive director of the program for decades. Both individuals are tireless and selfless public servants. Bob referred to me a former participant in the program, who had gone into business, to contract for work at my home. I was very pleased.
I heartily support Bob's position that — while the re-entry program is urgently needed — early age, preventive measures are warranted to minimize the number of individuals who might become a part of this pipeline.
Euclid Avenue, Menlo Park
Too many cars
Palo Alto's downtown parking problems and solutions are simple. There are too many cars. If Palo Alto had a world-class transit system matching its world-class wealth, we would not have a problem. Good transit systems encourage biking and walking. Getting out of our cars and onto bikes will improve the quality of our lives and relieve the parking problem.
Ivy Lane, Palo Alto
Unclear on the concept
"All our schools are feeling enrollment pressure ... not enough space ... some families face the possibility of being overflowed to a school ... miles away from their homes ..." All this from Diane Reklis, former president of the Palo Alto Unified School District Board. So what does our City staff and City Council do? They fine Castilleja (a private, non-tax supported school) $256,000 for having too many students, so many students who want to go to Castilleja may go to overcrowded public schools. This is sometimes referred to as "being unclear on the concept."
John Paul Hanna
Crescent Drive, Palo Alto
A great anti-hunger alliance
Congratulations to the alliance of the Food Bank and Safeway (and possibly other markets) for the "$10 bags of groceries" donation drive. I imagine that a lot of people are participating. You don't need to know about the cutback in Food Stamps (SNAP) or the fact that it was stripped from the Agriculture Department budget, for your heart to be touched by hunger!
Oh! Would that we find something similar for people who have lost their homes!
Moreno Avenue, Palo Alto
No more density increase
The Palo Alto City Council can help the City move beyond the effects of the election. To effectively convince the residents that they are listening, the Council can calmly convince the owner and the developer that the City Council will never rezone the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park site for increased density. As a former employee of the Prometheus Group, Mayor Scharff is in a good position convey this message clearly to them that no density increase is politically possible. This is something almost everyone can agree on!
El Camino Way, Palo Alto