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Jordan sixth-grader back after health case settled

Original post made on Nov 6, 2012

A Jordan Middle School student whose parents sued the Palo Alto school district to block his transfer over a health issue is back at the school this week under a legal settlement.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 6, 2012, 5:19 PM

Comments (18)

Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Wonder how much money they managed to take off of the PAUSD? They seemed to have no trouble talking to the media before this happened. Now--no comment.

Wonder what happens if the boy doesn't follow the protocols, and one, or both, of the two teens that were not identified become infected? Not hard to believe that the District will be sued again.

With all the secrecy--there is no public resolution to this case, so we don't know if the District acted responsibly, or over-reacted. We also don't know what role the School Board played in this scenario.

Posted by Not surprised
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Another way for PAUSD to waste student's money. This money should have been used in school supplies to extra help for students falling behind. They should think before they act. This is not the only settlement.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 6, 2012 at 8:45 pm

There wlmost certainly is no money involved, except that the family had to pay or lawyers and experts to help. They sued for injunctive relief, not money.

Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2012 at 8:47 pm

> They sued for injunctive relief, not money.

And you know for certain that no money changed hands?

So..why no comment to the media?

Posted by Parent
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 6, 2012 at 8:58 pm

The case was covered in the media in detail in advance of the settlement and there was no mention of any monetary settlement at issue. This is a civil rights case. If there were money at issue, it wouldn't have been settled so quickly, for one.

The family wasn't asking for money, but the district almost certainly had legal and medical expert costs they could have avoided if they had simply worked with the family. The family had legal and other costs as well, which they may be able to get reimbursed ultimately, but it's not a given.

This isn't the way anyone likes to do things, seems to me a more positive attitude towards district families and perhaps less combative (or self-serving) legal advice would have prevented the whole mess.

Posted by Another parent forced to advocate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 6, 2012 at 9:03 pm

PAUSD forces parents and students to do what they want unless the parents advocate for their children. Parents and their children are consistently bullied and harassed into following what administrators want until and unless parents have the means to hire and attorney or advocate to stand up for them. I applaud this family for providing stability for their child, because while this is one case reported in the media, this happens far more than it is reported upon, especially in children with medical situations.

Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2012 at 9:08 pm

> seems to me a more positive attitude towards district families

Seems that the District simply tried to do the right thing, from its point-of-view. They were not banning this child from school, they just wanted him to attend school about a mile away from where he was enrolled when this problem became known.

But the deeper issues of what the legal/medical basis for this decision might be have not been made public. There are no doubt hundreds of various diseases/conditions/maladies that students can bring to school every day--so, what preventative measures are in place to protect the students, an the community?

It was difficult to understand why this family objected to their soon being assigned to Terman. And then, in a year or two, these kids will be assigned to Gunn. So, does this problem re-emerge, or is it really much-ado-about nothing?

Since this story went national, with many versions of the story making the District out to denying this kid access to school, the parents really should not be in hiding. Presumably the District is bound by various privacy laws to not offer too much information about this case--but given the implications of the broader canvas of public health, they should be able to talk about this in non-specific terms.

Posted by PAMom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 6, 2012 at 9:23 pm

What about the other family?

Posted by Parent
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 7, 2012 at 7:46 am

Do you even live here? The two schools are on the opposite side of town, and the main arteries of Middlefield, Alma, El Camino, Embarcadero, and Arastradero have to be crossed to go from one to the other. At that time of day, it can take over an hour round trip to pick up or drop off the kid, and he had a sibling in the home area. It's not district policy to separate siblings for good reason.

You are right that there is a closer middle school, which for some reason they dd not send him to, even though it is larger and was the overflow school. It isn't that easy to reach either.

More to the point, the kid did not have cystic fibrosis, apparently the judge sided with the family, and you don't move a kid away from his school in the middle of the school year, especially one who is relatively new in town and has just made friends, and take him away from the kids in the neighborhood.

You're right the district probably tried to do the right thing from ts point of view, which is exactly the problem. Had they WORKED WITH the family rather than treating them like adversaries like they usually do with district families, they could have saved costs and reached a better outcome sooner.

The story does not say anyone declined to comment or is "hiding" only that no one could be reached before the story aired. Real people are at issue here, do you not have any sense of how hurtful your wild speculations and insinuations could be?

I agree with another-parent-forced-to-advocate, all too often the district acts in a combative or bullying manner towards parents, especially when there is a medical accommodation at issue. There are no advcates on the side of families in the district office.

Posted by Crescent Park Mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2012 at 8:31 am

I think in this case, we shouldn't rule out pointing our finger at the medical expert that advised PAUSD and/or the family....Not long ago, when our child was almost four, a CF expert told us she had CF. Upon testing, it proved to be incorrect. Then they did a lung scan and the expert told us she had lung damage that could never be reversed. She would have breathing problems her entire life and wouldn't be able to play like other kids. Over the next year, we had many blood draws, breathing treatments, tests and doctor visits. At one point, the expert told us our daughter was a candidate for eventually getting cancer. The earth stood still in that moment and we decided we had to do something else. We were advised by two different ENTs to get our daughter's tonsils and adenoids out. There was so much infection in her respiratory system, she almost died on the table in surgery that day. Within weeks, she started to seem perfectly healthy and normal to us. We went back and insisted on another lung scan and were told it was a waste of time but they would humor us. The scan was normal. They exclaimed "It's a miracle!" An entire year of getting told the worst scenarios possible. It was a very emotional ride.

When all the elementary schools merge into the three middle schools, the student populations change and the "mix" has to be reconsidered. PAUSD was operating under the advisement of the medical expert for the benefit of all the Jordan children. They have an obligation to protect all the children. If they were getting the same worst case scenarios from their expert, I can see why they were very concerned and trying to act fast.

Coincidently, this child is in my other daughter's class. This is a nice child with a family that just wants him to continue with his friends in his same neighborhood school system that he has been in since Kindergarten. No mom wants to uproot their child from their "comfort zone" if it can be avoided. Their expert may be telling them that there is no risk to the other kids so why should they turn their child's world upside down?

I think both the family and PAUSD were working from a good place and we shouldn't beat either of them up about it. There are 16 classes for 6th grade at Jordan. They'll figure out a way to make it work.

Posted by ItIsAboutAllTheKids
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2012 at 9:42 am

@CrescentParkMom, I think you nailed it. Parents want only the best for their children.

Our schools do care deeply for the success and health of all our children. At the same time they are extremely constrained to follow protocols, to obey advice of experts, and to work with only that information that parents are willing to disclose, given strict HIPAA confidentiality.

At the same time, managing the schools involves a huge amount of risk management and fear of being sued, both as a district and individually.

Does anyone know what the cost to the district will be of implementing the protocols the experts are requiring in order to prevent cross-infection among the 3 students?

I'll wager it isn't small.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 7, 2012 at 11:05 am

It seemed high-handed for the district to summarily order the family to keep the kid out of school - as I read it, this happened very suddenly! (and then)enroll him over at Terman, which IS far away. The correct approach is to include everyone in the discussion about "what to do" about a potential health risk, not just informing the other mommy about the potential threat and her raising a ruckus to get the new kid removed. Show respect for ALL the kids/families - this is a public school.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 7, 2012 at 11:12 am


If you care so much about ALL the kids, how about being a little more sensitive to the needs of the kids with CF and other health problems? They have the right to attend school and be accommodated in the least restrictive way, regardless of whether it costs money. The judge sided with the family -- said the family was right. That means the district, in acting the way it did, risked greater liability from that than what the family was asking for.

The costs of implementing the protocols may NOT be expensive, you don't even know that. Resisting change and just having to think about things is often reason enough for bureaucracies like PAUSD to dig in their heels, especially if they lack a culture of working collaboratively with families. Implementing those protocols could reduce infections across the board in the school, not just between the kids, so there are benefits to all as well.

Stop using the "fear of being sued' as a broad brush to justify poor behavior. When hospitals and doctors do that, and fail to apologize or work collaboratively when they make mistakes, they actually get sued more and lose far higher judgments.

I don't think PAUSD was working from a good place or the family would not have had to file a lawsuit to get them to do the right thing. How many families wouldn't have the resources to do that? How much money was spent on legal costs and experts that could have been avoided if PAUSD district personnel simply stopped treating parents like adversaries? It's very common old-fashioned attitude, and unbefitting of a top district.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 7, 2012 at 11:15 am

P.S. Excuse me, I should clarify my post. The child at issue did not have CF. Both he and the kids with CF have rights under the same civil rights laws, because it includes both those with a disability and those perceived as having a disability. All of them have a right to a free and appropriate public education in as least restrictive an environment as possible. In other words, whenever the district can accommodate the kids, even if it costs money, rather than the child being compromised or restricted, the district is legally obligated to do so. You may not like the law, but there's where they could incur liability if they don't do that.

Posted by Ducatigirl
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Ducatigirl is a registered user.

Nowhere has it been said that the Chadams received any money. It has been stated in the Daily Post that they settled out of court with PAUSD, but that does not mean money was involved. The Daily Post also stated that the Chadams were still very angry about the way the district treated their son, Colman, so apparently not enough has been done to assuage their anger.

Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 8, 2012 at 11:40 am

the_punnisher is a registered user.

" God first made the Idiot for practice, then He made the School Board. "

-Mark Twain

This advice should apply here. I see only a knee-jerk reaction about what COULD happen in the future. Instead of working with ALL the people involved, they just went with the OPINION of some doctor's judgement.

Drop the " us vs them " approach and get everyone involved. The parents of another ADA covered student might not be as forgiving..and now a " CULPABLE NEGLIGENCE " lawsuit would a factor..

Posted by PA mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm

PA mom is a registered user.

I know from personal experience that Parent is right. When our child attended a PAUSD school, our child had health issues. We documented the diagnoses (there were four of them) with Dr.’s letters, but the school district personnel refused to accept them, saying that they didn’t explain all our child’s symptoms. They insisted that our child was pretending to be sick (even after the school nurse verified our child’s high fevers on numerous occasions) and “resisting school”. They said our child was truant and they threatened us with legal action. They called our parenting into question. One of our child’s health practitioners came to one of the meetings, and she said that their behavior toward us was “rude and contentious”.

In all our dealings with the school personnel we were always polite, respectful and professional. They were adversarial, and acted like it was us against them. They insisted that our child should be forced to attend class with high fevers, vomiting, and other symptoms (spreading germs to other students). They seemed to insist that, since we couldn’t provide them with documentation that they’d accept, that therefore our child’s conditions didn’t exist. They stuck to their claim that our child was resisting school even after our child made the honor role. One staff member even said to me, “You’re just going to have to find a way to make [your child] stay well”, as if we hadn’t been trying to do that for years!

I know that they were doing their best and all that, but they never showed us any compassion. They never treated us like we were on the same team, on the same side, working together for the good of our child. I asked them to, but to no avail.

Someone who used to work for the Student Attendance Review Board told me that, of all the cases she reviewed there, there wasn’t a single student who missed school without a valid reason. That, had we been “SARBed” and showed up with Dr.’s letters and honor role certificate, that it would have been a waste of their time. The staff at our child’s Dr.’s office told me that the school staff were treating us that way because, when our child missed school, they lost money.

I kept thinking that, surely, there must be other PAUSD families going through similar ordeals to ours, with their school treating them in an adversarial, unsupportive manner. Now I know there are.

Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2012 at 3:46 pm

village fool is a registered user.

I want to applaud the family for challenging an unreasonable decision.
Unfortunately, not many can go this way.
Seems that community members felt more comfortable to share their concerns and observations when login was not required. Fear? why?
The initial thread reporting this ordeal - Web Link

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