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Public may comment today on new superintendent

Original post made on May 27, 2014

Members of the public today have the opportunity to comment on the appointment of Glenn "Max" McGee as the new superintendent of the Palo Alto Unified School District, prior to a closed session in which the Board of Education will discuss terms of McGee's contract.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, May 27, 2014, 9:29 AM

Comments (13)

Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 27, 2014 at 9:42 am

And just what is the public supposed to comment upon? The name of the candidate was announced officially on Friday, last. The District has not provided much in the way of his CV, or a trip report from that foray to Aurora. The public has no idea what this candidate knows about California's educational system, the somewhat convoluted finance system, or what he knows about the PAUSD, in general.

And then there are the details of his views about the next five years. Given his association with elitist schools, will he be trying to recreate the IMSA environment?

And what about his views on China? He seems to be very facinated with the education system of this brutal Communist country. Will he be looking to link up with the Communists in order to make the PAUSD more like the Chinese system?

The residents of the PAUSD need more time, and more information, about this man before anyone can meaningfully comment on him.

The Board of Education has really demonstrated a complete lack of respect for their constituency with the selection process they have put in place.

Why not release the information they have, and then delay this job offer for three-four weeks so that the public can absorb the data about the candidate?

What's the hurry to sign on the dotted line?

Posted by No Comprendo
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 27, 2014 at 9:56 am

Agree with Bob that nothing can be said by reading a resume. PAUSD is just trying to cover their butt so if McGee isn't successful, the BoE can claim they asked the public for feedback and no one said anything, which equates to approval.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 27, 2014 at 10:42 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The board held an out of state closed session that illegally included cherry picked members of the public, selected this candidate, made him an employment offer and he has accepted.

Just what is left for the public to comment on?

When are the citizens of Palo Alto going to demand that the board start complying with the Brown Act:

"“In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the public commissions, boards, and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.”

“The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”

The people reconfirmed that intent fifty years later at the November 2004 election by adopting Proposition 59, amending the California Constitution to include a public right of access to government information:

“The people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s
business, and, therefore, the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to public scrutiny.”

Posted by What's the problem?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 27, 2014 at 10:56 am

I don't know what the problem is with these community members having been participants in a closed session of the board in Aurora.
First, the leaders of the three unions were included. If I were them, I'd want to be included in selecting the person who I'll be negotiating with. I'd want to make sure the new superintendent is sympathetic to my union's positions and I'd want that person to feel beholden to me for his hiring.
Second, why shouldn't PIE be part of the closed session? They bought and paid for a place at the table. That's how our capitalist system works.
Finally, who cares if it's a closed session and who's participating. It was in Aurora after all. It's not like anyone else would have participated if it an open session. We're not going to pay to travel to Aurora for a school board meeting, duh.

Posted by Christine
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on May 27, 2014 at 12:53 pm

McGee already accepted the job, so what is the point of looking for public comments/input now?

Posted by Audrey
a resident of Midtown
on May 27, 2014 at 1:10 pm

We're relocating a 63 year old who is quitting a job he accepted in 2013 to be the head of a start-up, private boarding school in New Jersey? [Portion removed.] I wonder how long he'll keep this job? If the contract is really not yet signed, put in a clause that he must reimburse the relocation expense if he works for PAUSD for fewer than five years.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 27, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I don't know what the problem is with these community members having been participants in a closed session of the board in Aurora. "

Having members of the public in a closed session is AGAINST THE LAW.

Here is the California League of Cities guidance on closed session attendance:

"Meetings of a legislative body are either fully open or fully closed; there is nothing in between. Closed sessions may involve only the members of the legislative body and only agency counsel, management and support staff, and consultants necessary for consideration of the matter that is the subject of closed session. Individuals who do not have an official role in advising the legislative body on closed session subject matters must be excluded from closed session discussions."

And here is the Attorney General's ruling on the matter:
""In 46 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 34 (1965), this office also concluded that
meetings could not be semi-closed. Thus, certain interested members of the
public may not be admitted to a closed session while the remainder of the
public is excluded. Nor would it be proper for an investigative committee of
a grand jury performing its duties of investigating the county's business to be
admitted to a closed session. (I.L. 70-184.) As a general rule, closed sessions
may involve only the membership of the body in question plus any additional
support staff which may be required (e.g., attorney required to provide legal
advice; supervisor may be required in connection with disciplinary proceeding;
labor negotiator required for consultation). Persons without an official role in
the meeting should not be present."

What is not clear about those rules? Doesn't anybody care that the school board is breaking the law and actually goes so far as to list the prohibited individuals who will be attending the closed session?
Public Employee Appointment/Employment: Superintendent
The Board will travel out of the District during Closed Session pursuant to Government Code 54957. Attendees: Board members Melissa Baten Caswell, Heidi Emberling, Camille Townsend, and Barb Mitchell. In addition, Charles Young (Associate Superintendent); Sharon Ofek (President, Palo Alto Manager's Association and JLS Middle School principal); Teri Baldwin (President, Palo Alto Educator's Association and Addison Kindergarten teacher); Meb Steiner (President, California School Employees Association and Barron Park Elementary Special Education Instructional Aide); Susan Usman (incoming President, Palo Alto Parent-Teacher-Student Association); and Asha Guha (incoming President, Partners in Education Foundation)."

What actually happened in that closed session? You may never know because none of the participants in a closed session can reveal what was said.

Posted by fortune
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 27, 2014 at 1:30 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by buying with my money but not my voice
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 27, 2014 at 1:37 pm

What's the problem

" why shouldn't PIE be part of the closed session?"

PIE collects money on behalf of the community. It's a pass through account. I give, they pass they pass the money to the schools. Period.

Nobody is going to stop giving money because of one employee or another. If a donor is demanding something to give money, that would be so inappropriate.

PIE can't buy a place as a representative voice because PIE money is made up of community MONEY, not the community voice. They are appointed people by other appointed people. At least the union reps are elected, and the school staff is employed, and they serve the community.

I will expect a report from PIE explaining what questions they asked this potential new hire, and what message they took on behalf of parents, which they were not elected or asked to do.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 27, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I will expect a report from PIE explaining what questions they asked this potential new hire, and what message they took on behalf of parents, "

Won't happen unless someone breaks the law again:

"The Brown Act prohibits the disclosure of confidential information acquired in a closed session by any person present"

Posted by Ellie
a resident of College Terrace
on May 27, 2014 at 9:27 pm

Thank you Peter Carpenter. Complying with the Act is essential for transparent, open and honest governance by the School Board, City Council or our city Commissions.

Posted by just wondering
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 27, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Any feedback from this meeting?

Posted by Tim G
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 28, 2014 at 7:14 am

What's the word on the start- up school? Epic Fail? That's why he's jumping ship? Is that what he plans to do at PAUSD? Looks like he collects his check/pension from everywhere and moves on. What's the plan for our district money? Too many questions, behind those closed door lie answers that we don't seem to be able to reach.

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