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School Supe Max McGee to retire next year

Original post made on Jun 29, 2017

Max McGee came to the Palo Alto Unified School District in 2014 with high hopes of innovating education in the heart of Silicon Valley. But after a short tenure as superintendent, the 67-year-old now plans to retire at the end of the 2017-18 school year, he announced Thursday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, June 29, 2017, 12:26 PM

Comments (115)

Posted by Sam C.
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 29, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Need to clean out Paly administration sooner rather than later. Start with Diorio and start working your way down the list. Hire people who truly care about students and will follow the law.

Now that we have a lame-duck superintendent, what kind of leadership/action can we actually expect to happen?

Posted by Sexual Violence
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jun 29, 2017 at 1:26 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by MoreMoney
a resident of El Carmelo School
on Jun 29, 2017 at 1:31 pm

I shutter to think what package the school board will offer the next superintendent. My guess is $3M salary, $2k/mo car allowance and $5M interest free loan. Of course, there is the pension too...

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2017 at 1:34 pm

I just want to know how much this search for a replacement will cost?

I remember the all expenses fact finding trip taken by the board and various others to talk to people Max used to work with. I can't remember the figure, but plane tickets, hotels, etc. etc. cost a lot.

We had better stop renaming schools because with all the shortfalls (or bad expenses in the budget) the money will be spent elsewhere.

Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 29, 2017 at 1:57 pm

Overreaching expectations were placed upon him when he arrived. A case of over-empowerment.

Then, when we realize that he couldn't solve everything by himself, we want to get rid of him.

Posted by Sam C.
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 29, 2017 at 2:06 pm

For a School Board President, Terry Godfrey seems to have almost nothing to offer in terms of value to any conversation outside of the board room. How many "no comments" has she given over the past couple months when the sexual assaults became public?

She only gives cliched general statements. How can she not recall if the board approved extensions for the superintendent in 2015 and 2016? Isn't that the job of the board? Shouldn't she know if the board approved of extending the contract of the head of the school district?

Her term expires in 2018. Hopefully we can replace her with someone who pays attention during the meetings and takes the job more seriously.

Posted by Seriously?
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jun 29, 2017 at 2:09 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 29, 2017 at 2:33 pm

I agree with *SamC* in that we need more transparency from our School Board President. She simply doesn't ever offer any commentary or perspectives from a position of leadership. If an elected official doesn't want to lead, then is it too much to ask to NOT to take that job?!!

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 29, 2017 at 2:48 pm

How long was he here? Seems like a lot invested for a brief "return" - local media will hopefully follow up to see if he lands another gig, or plum consulting contract. He has the right to retire (or not), I know that, but we local taxpayers sure put a lot of $$$$ into the search and hire of the Supe. We shoukd have some rights, too! Search for Education executives should include the serious question about intent to stay and be invested in a community. We didn't use to have such turnover, in my experience.
- someone who worked as a student in the Gunn Admin office and who saw the adminstrators working....including a respected principal (ok, it was a long time ago though nowhere near the founding of Gunn HD).

Posted by Sooner, PLEASE!
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 29, 2017 at 2:51 pm

I was hoping Max McGee would resign over the summer.

[Portion removed.]

I hope the School Board has learned a lesson, albeit an expensive one: DO NOT use the same headhunters who gave us Kevin Skelly!

Posted by Seriously
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jun 29, 2017 at 3:07 pm

The moderator is exercising his will....
My previous message made it clear that I thought the district needs to find candidates for these roles that won't come to our district and in short order simply be a burden on our pension funds.
Why bring someone in for only 4 years just to see them bail?

Posted by Me
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 29, 2017 at 3:33 pm

Can't we just find someone who cares about school stress instead of the PAUSD reputation? The students will keep up the good reputation. I would prefer that our district doesn't participate in the school rankings. Why does it matter if the parents want more homework? If they have chosen our school district, they are free to take their kids to Fremont or Cupertino if they want more rigor (and they will make a profit off their house). Our secondary students should have more balanced lifestyles. With all their sleep deprivation and workloads, they don't have time to work on the social aspect. Office politics are alive and well and always will be! Our students need time to learn life skills too.

Posted by Me
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 29, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Godfrey initiated that waste-of-money, TrackWatch. Other than being a nice person, I don't see her as being a capable leader with good ideas.

Posted by Don't Need
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 29, 2017 at 3:38 pm

Instead of someone with "innovation" I prefer a hire with solid executive management skills, who can oversee his staff, identify when they are not doing their jobs, and has better financial management skills.

I prefer someone who understands they report to the Board, and follows their instructions without games, such as consistently failing to bring data Board requested or was promised by a Board meeting where they needed to make decisions, and not use lawyers to get around the Board.

I prefer someone who can shift the poor communication skills the District constantly displays at every level with the press, public and parents, guaranteeing a negative reaction.

We need someone who can re-build trust.

We don't need someone from a small elite private school who hires his own people from out of state. We don't run small elite private schools. We need a Superintendent for all students, not just Advanced Research students. We don't need someone hired because they were in a high level political job. That is not what we do. We don't need someone hired to try to start a small school like the one they came from. We need someone who can make up their mind, do we need another elementary school or not? You can't keep changing your mind.

We need a Superintendent from in State, who understands when we are under State of California compliance audits, and when negative audit results were kept from Board.

We need someone capable of managing studies and evaluations to produce the information the Board wants. We need an end to management saying they gave parents plenty of time to voice views, and the parents saying they did not.

We need some one who will listen to parent warnings about his hires, promotions, reorganizations. We need someone who listens when parents report an employee poses a huge risk based on previous behavior, and will not to be able to succeed in the new job.

We need someone who will not give complete power to any employee, and will listen when parents present evidence of employee and vendor problems.

We need enough honesty to open Nation wide searches when he says he will, and stop opening jobs only to insiders for a week, so only his cronies can get the job.

We need someone with better contract and vendor management skills, who will ensure all contracts go up for competitive bids, and those awarded meet due dates on budget.

We need someone not from yet another "high performing district" with great test scores. We have had that forever. We need to now hire for competence, not reputation of where they come from. Better to hire someone from a district with a high minority population, a large disabled population, many failing students, a District that actually helps disadvantaged students.

[Portion removed.] We need someone who understands not all disabilities are visible.

We do not need someone who had a good experience with special education in his or her school district. In fact if a candidate says in an interview they got through 12 years with a special education department that were all positive, they are lying. We need someone who understands when the District is using legal resources against disabled to achieve District teaching or management goals (such as lowering number of students in special education.) That is not a cost effective way to change a Special Education program, teaching is.

We need someone who understands when his District is actually filing legal cases against children. Let's get someone a school district sued, and who knows that "due process" does mean suing children. Let's get someone who tells or teaches his staff to solve things, stick with their word, and not pretend they solved it with mediation. Understand, mediation costs you a tremendous amount of money. If you forced a disabled child to that point, you failed. You did not eliminate legal action. Mediation is actually legal action, requiring two lawyers in a room. You can't get much more legal than that.

We need someone to stop making the children and their families the enemies. No more damaging children and families who follow your instructions. It is impossible to believe so many District parents are all emotional, illogical wrecks who just want to get something for free.

Time to stop "grooming" parents and children to feel guilty for having a disabled child or lower performing student, as if they were not supporting a teacher you who didn't support. Remember, if you didn't teach a child to read, that means you didn't teach a child to read. Take responsibility for your own failures.

We need someone to end, once and for all, the "Us vs. Them" culture of FEAR the Board created with disabled and bullied children who could not attend school due to the abuse. This, Board of Education, is where and how your current OCR problems started. All the errors, all the Administrator's mis-behaviors were present in the bullying cases. They started small, you did not act, you blamed parents, you did not ensure change happened. It was only a matter of time until they blew up to the point it could no longer be hidden, but only after they destroyed lives forever. Good management would have acted and stopped this early.

It will take a huge cultural shift, but that is what needs to happen.

Posted by Dan
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 29, 2017 at 3:44 pm

It's a no-win situation for PAUSD administrators. PA is egregiously demanding and petulant. Our administrators are constrained by various laws that do not allow them to satisfy the PA demands. What rational person would want to serve here?

Posted by helicopters
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 29, 2017 at 3:52 pm

I agree with Dan above. What person in their right mind would want to deal with Palo Alto parents. Raise good kids, teach them values, trust them and enjoy the fact you live in such great community. The angst directed at our school administrators is embarrassing and not productive.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 29, 2017 at 4:03 pm

^ wow, 40 likes in 5 minutes?

Posted by helicopters
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 29, 2017 at 4:07 pm


yes i was impressed as well, and only one is mine. Perhaps Russian hackers directed by Trump. The only other infatuation of PA parents greater than criticizing our schools.

Posted by Me
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 29, 2017 at 4:27 pm

Re the quick 40 Likes in 5 minutes, I think most of them are adults who have not sent a child through PAUSD high school in the last decade. I know a lot of people think in stereotypes and assumptions that all parents want their children to attend Ivy League and elite universities, when in reality, that's only the top 20% of each class. Everyone else is just trying to keep their heads above water. Even McGee believes that all Palo Alto parents are seeking elite schools. Many parents do think this way until their children experience high school, then their expectations are lowered.

Posted by Consideration
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Jun 29, 2017 at 5:25 pm

Considering the sexual abuse fiascos created by one studen-predator, who was not expelled according to the rules, back in October, McGee should have resigned far sooner.

Failing that, he should have been dismissed, along with Kim Diorio, before the end of this past school year,

Posted by It's a bot
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 29, 2017 at 5:26 pm

Is there someone that's not obvious to?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2017 at 5:35 pm

Totally agreed with helicopters. Too many helicopter parents.

[Portion removed.]

Posted by College Terrace Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 29, 2017 at 5:42 pm

so much turn over and churning. Superintendent. Principals. Vice principals. Teachers. What is going on at PAUSD???

Posted by Me
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Jun 29, 2017 at 5:46 pm

@Resident: There are 2000 Paly students, 2000 Gunn students, and only a handful of squeaky wheel parents. Use your basic math and common sense instead of assumptions.

Posted by For the win
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 29, 2017 at 5:48 pm

Trifecta please
Kinnenan, McGee, Dorio

Posted by helicopters
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 29, 2017 at 6:14 pm

as a relative newcomer to Palo Alto my observation in PAUSD parents have unrealistic expectations. Your kids and mine go to wonderful public institutions. I love the diversity of kids from different backgrounds, the sometimes oddball kids,troublemakers, the sometimes less than perfect teachers. But also the great kids, the great teachers the great community.

Guess what that's the real world! It's not perfect. If that doesn't work for you consider the cocoon of private schools to insulate you from that.

Yes, work to improve things but personal attacks and vitriol directed to PAUSD staff are not appropriate. What messages are you sending to your kids?? Blame everyone ? How about owning it.

Posted by Scott V
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 29, 2017 at 6:50 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

Posted by Concerned parents
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 29, 2017 at 7:14 pm

@helicopter It's more inappropriate for some parents to manipulate things in PAUSD under the cover of PTSA. At least parents helicopter their kids are not hurting anyone else. To attack the parents who stood up and voiced for our kids is even more inappropriate.

Posted by Gunn parents
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 29, 2017 at 7:28 pm

@helicopters You can hardly blame PAUSD parents for McGee or other admin’s unsatisfactory performance view. It’s not surprising that many are happy to see McGee leave and more are calling for Diorio to resign. It’s really what they have or have not done, so don’t blame the parents.

Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2017 at 7:40 pm

Blaming Palo Alto parents is a reasonable response.

[Portion removed.]

There is something terribly toxic about the PAUSD, the parents and the adults who run the district (including the BOD). There are plenty of other high-achieving school districts in the SF Bay Area and farther out that don't have the same degree of issues.

While I am not accusing every Palo Alto student's parent of being the problem, for sure, as a collective group, they should be the main focus of why the local (public) school kids are mentally unstable.

Sorry it has to be mentioned this way, but it would be worse if Palo Alto parents stuck their heads in the sand and denied they were a problem. Because they are (as a group, not individually).

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2017 at 7:54 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Palo Alto parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 29, 2017 at 8:09 pm

Helicopter admins, not parents.

Nothing is wrong with Parents care about their children's safety in the wake of sexual assults. Parents always have the best interest for their kids. Can't say the same for admins. They sometimes care about their political career more than students.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 29, 2017 at 8:18 pm

The teachers in the district are hard-working,and care about students. Are they perfect? Of course not - think about you own personal work place. However, the majority teach because they love their subject and they love working with kids.

Why can't PAUSD attract this kind of talent at the district level? Many at the D.O. use their positions as a stepping stone to other positions in other districts. When a new superintendent is hired, there should be input from the schools as well as the parents since they are most directly impacted by the superintendent's governance. If other administrators at the district level need to be fired, then so be it. The district needs a cohesive leadership.

Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2017 at 8:25 pm


Again, I see this as a problem with the Palo Alto parents. Even if the PAUSD teachers are good, the rest of the environment is LETHAL.

Meanwhile, local parochial schools are able to attract good teachers and administrators and the schoolkids are offing themselves on a regular basis.

I see this as a basic problem with the parents who send their kids to the PAUSD and the people whom they approve to run the PAUSD as well as the school board they elect. Their neighbors who send their kids to parochial schools aren't having the same issues.

The big problem here is the "Palo Alto Parent."

Posted by helicopters
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 29, 2017 at 8:35 pm

PAUSD parents look yourself in the mirror. If I was a candidate to be Superintendent of PAUSD one of the things i would do before accepting the job would be to talk to my predecessor about the community, the parent support, the upside of taking the job. What do you think will happen this time? What people will we attact?? You reap what you sow....

Posted by Shocked Lamb
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 29, 2017 at 8:36 pm

I admire and appreciate so much for those parents who are willing and brave enough to speak out and share our concerns for the best interest of our schools and our community. I truly do, because I admit I have no such courage. Also, I am too busy in my workplace to spare time and effort for this because I have an assumption (or even illusion) that everything should be all well taken care of by our professionals in the district. The sexual scandal is indeed a wake-up call for me. Now, I see those parents who are attacked or even called out and labeled as "helicopter parents" (I guess this term was used to negatively condemn them). I feel shocked and deeply sad for the intent behind such labeling. On the one hand, our schools have been always encouraging parents to stay engaged and care about our schools and community; on the other hand, I now see those engaged and caring parents who "dare" to speak out and share the views of many many silent or busy parents behind the scene could be so easily attacked and badly labeled as long as their views are not "liked" to be heard by the people in authority / power. Such a hypocrisy! I wonder if this kind of hypocrisy could stand and should be tolerated in PAUSD. If so, sooner or later, PAUSD would be "settled down" in peace with only one voice - because parents would no longer dare to say anything opposite to what the schools and district like to hear. Yes, peace will come one day if the general public accepts to hear only one voice - which is always the one from the district... That will be an innovative definition of democracy.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 29, 2017 at 8:39 pm

It is troubling that when McGee tenders his resignation a year in advance, he states his commitment to addressing the achievement gap. Actions speak louder than words. "McGee said Tuesday that he would actually move this proposal to the “A” list of recommended cuts. The equity coordinator’s responsibilities would go to either Judy Argumedo, the district’s current director of academic supports and of the Voluntary Transfer Program, or to a principal on special assignment tasked with full-time equity work, McGee said. This would save the district an estimated $174,500 (Palo Alto Online, April, 2017).

What's so cynical is the default to a commitment to the students of color in the district, when in actuality,nothing gets accomplished.

Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Jun 29, 2017 at 8:40 pm

It is time for the school board to be evaluated. They need to realize that Palo Alto burns through superintendents because they don't match the hiring process to the needs and that the board is completely dysfunctional.

The board needs a board "shrink" so they can work out their dysfunctionalities on themselves and not bring them to the school board.

Posted by Keith Ferrell
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 29, 2017 at 9:05 pm

If someone wants to label me a helicopter parent because I speak out against an administration led by Kim Diorio that has tried to quiet sexual assault victims and a superintendent/board that will not hold those people accountable, then I'm happy to wear the badge.

Any parent that wants to speak out but is afraid of retaliation, feel free to tell me your story and I'll pass it along to the board.

We don't need a superintendent who wants to hide behind lawyers and omissions. McGee said he'd be transparent, and that hasn't happened either with him, or the board. Where is the accountability? The Paly administration was breaking Title IX laws and district policies. Both Paly administrators and PAUSD board members have told me that to my face. Yet, those people are still employed.

PAUSD is making budget cuts that affect teachers and students, while at the same time increasing the budget for lawyers. Increases that would not be necessary had Paly administrators done their job and what the law requires. Anyone not in a government job would be fired. Why do we accept this behavior from public employees?

I'll continue to be a "helicopter parent" as long as the district and PAHS continues to try to bury sexual assault claims and the administrators worry more about their jobs than the welfare of the students.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 29, 2017 at 9:06 pm

All but one board member (Caswell) has turned over since McGee was hired and the tenor of the board has changed. Not saying they will do better, but it is a different board.

Posted by PAUSD parents.
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 29, 2017 at 9:24 pm

For the sake of our students, shouldn't he resign immediately? There is enough bad news and influence already.

Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2017 at 9:30 pm

@PAUSD parents.: (resident of Community Center)

McGee will probably draw a bigger pension if he holds out of a year.

He's likely milking the system.

Want to be upset? Blame the people who allowed him to take his position: the PAUSD board and the parents.

Posted by Dan
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 29, 2017 at 9:47 pm

Too much is asked of our schools. Demands come from all directions. Sexual predator on campus?... the administration needs to balance conflicting currents, including privacy laws, race, stereotypes. Title IX, grades gap (Whites and Asians vs. Latinos and Blacks), VTP academic and class disparities are an impossible demand. AP grading system. Maintaining property values. PA citizens and parents ask for too much. There will be no acceptable administrators that satisfy all the demands. Best to look in the mirror, if one wants to find the fundamental problem.

Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2017 at 10:19 pm

LOL, local private schools seem to have adjusted. My question is why PAUSD can't figure this out. Okay, we know the answer: it's the PAUSD parents that are the real problem.

Posted by Why not this year
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 29, 2017 at 10:46 pm

Why not this year?

Posted by Me
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 29, 2017 at 10:48 pm

@Reader from another community (who has no idea what PAUSD is about): Parents cannot be blamed for McGee's appointment. We had no vote in the matter. Maybe you ought to experience PAUSD before posting anonymously like a Monday morning quarterback. Working with someone who assumes so much much be challenging for the colleagues.

Posted by iSez
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 29, 2017 at 11:05 pm

iSez is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by iSez
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 29, 2017 at 11:31 pm

iSez is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by Kathy Jordan
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 29, 2017 at 11:34 pm

These administrators did not follow the law. It's not a new law. It was enacted in 1972. No parent asked them not to follow the law. They did not protect these students, the victims, as well as other students. It could have been your child who was victimized.

I think there are school administrators out there who could follow the law and attempt to keep all students safe. We could hire one of those people and ask them to commit to following all state and federal laws. I don't think that is too much to ask. I look forward to having those administrators on board, who are committed to combating sexual misconduct, combating all forms of discrimination, and keeping our students safe. We can expect and demand that.

These are our children after all.

Posted by white elephant
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 29, 2017 at 11:44 pm

Parents are responsible to protect their children and send them to a public school that does not allow sexual assault , sexual harassement , bullying, and discrimination (intended or not) get swept under the rug by the adults in charge of the school. You can't label these parents as helocopter parents and dismiss them. These are the good parents that take the time out of their busy life to stand up and speak out and yes, they will end up protecting your kid too in the end !! so the least you can do is be grateful to the parents that ask for accountability for outrageous, irresponsible behavior by school admin. A safe school environment for children is fundamental to a conducive learning environment. Diorio has dropped the same ball multiple times.I am Shocked that she is not gone, she should leave. Vicki Kim and Adam Paulson should also leave, they were directly involved with Diorio on these issues and did not take proper action. Max McGee is a politician, with a lot of half truths and twisted words. When he speaks, you should ask what is he not telling you that is important. He is someone who spent $80K of tax payer money to hire an outside consultant to teach him how to de-lane our classes! We do not need a politician, we do not need someone who works in the direction of De Vois policy.
If you expect a healthy, vibrant, and diverse community for our children, then stay invloved, it takes time and effort! If you hire politicians and you let the politicians do what they do best, then you get what you deserve: Sexual assault and battery, after Office of Civil Rights investigation of prior sexual assault incidents. This could have been your child. I rather stay engaged.

Posted by Change is Good
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2017 at 12:18 am

McGee stepped into a viper pit of the most backbiting coverup office culture of bad apple admins and did everything a sole person near retirement could be expected to do. He may have been unwilling to deal with anything tough, but on the other hand, he didn't seem to engage in the scheming of the previous administration. We needed someone much more willing to seek truth and remember that their job is to serve all families, but the previous board dis nothing to clean house before he got here.

Whether on purpose or not, he got rid of some of the admins most responsible for the coverup culture. He unfortunately refused to investigate when told of some pretty serious, even illegal behavior, and I don't even mean Title IX, I mean other scandals that have yet to hit the fan.

His worst failing was his penchant for actively avoiding providing information as required by law. Public agencies are required to provide information for a reason. Families have a right to expect resources in a public district to be fairly provided. When the superintendant gets upset and won't even provide public information about district policies in a given area, so that parents can see what the district policy is and whether their experience is consistent, the district is breaking the law to actively discriminate against a family.

Having witnessed vulnerable, really nice kids bullied by adults in school as a result of lies and retaliation coming from above, and McGee unwilling to even investigate, I have to say the libeling of parents is out of line. There is indeed something really wrong in PAUSD, and it's a rotten administrative culture and no will to fix it.

This exodus is a chance to fix things. All the bad players are not gone, but at least now there is a chance, because at least this board isn't as full of bad apples as before. I think we should hire people who demonstrate a willingness to stand up for right even when it's uncomfortable, people who are not afraid of working on problems, people who are able to be dynamic and creative. You don't get that from people who make more than the President (including their pensions from other places) and are more interested in their legacy and retirement, after making nice and making connections for said cushy retirement. I challenge the board to find someone willing to work hard, maybe someone who doesn't have a pedigree to polish instead of protecting our kids.

This time, advertise that we have problems and look for someone who wants a challenge, and who understands the nature of a public organization. If they are willing to come here to work with parents instead of holing up in 25 Churchill with Grima W. Admin whispering in their ear, they will find some of the most dynamic, interesting, giving parents they will ever have the privilege of knowing, and will change lives. (The suggestion of asking predecessors is what went wrong before - you don't usually solve problems by holing up in the echo chamber where they begin.)

Posted by Misplaced blame
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2017 at 5:09 am

Blaming the parents of the community for the toxic nature of the PAUSD management and employees is like blaming members of the public who have accounts at Wells Fargo for being at fault for Wells Fargo creating false accounts.

The bottom line is it all starts from the top, and the PAUSD management and the employees and contractors and attorneys are all responsible for the toxic environment, not the people who happen to reside in the district boundaries.

The fault is the PAUSD, not the parents, not the Federal Government, not the Office of Civil Rights, nor anyone else.

PAUSD shifts blame whenever it can and attempts to offload its dysfunction to everyone else, doesn't it?

It sounds to me that the superintendent did not receive a satisfactory evaluation otherwise it would have been reported out of closed session as satisfactory per the contract. Having him stick around for yet another year is a poor decision.

The board needs to put an interim in charge and have him leave immediately or put him in a consultant role.

What other CEO of any corporation gets a bad review and then gets to stick around for another year?

I supposed the PAUSD will attempt to shift the blame for this ridiculous situation to the children and parents of the community.....

Posted by PTA Member
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 30, 2017 at 6:21 am

"It sounds to me that the superintendent did not receive a satisfactory evaluation otherwise it would have been reported out of closed session as satisfactory per the contract."

Yes and note that Godfrey carefully said that the board was acting in "accordance" with the contract. This looks less like a voluntary retirement and more like a guy whose board has lost patience with him. Then went wasn't he just fired? Too late in the year to hire a permanent replacement?

Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2017 at 6:50 am

"Waaah, you're not a Palo Alto parent, you don't understand!"

Palo Alto isn't some unique little island on its own, despite your delusions of grandeur.

The PAUSD doesn't create itself. People like the superintendent are hired by the school board which in turn is selected by voters. This is the same elsewhere here in the United States, including towns like Redwood City and Mountain View.

PAUSD parents ***MUST*** take at least some ownership of the problems of the PAUSD because they are electing the school board members who make these hiring decisions. Again, the appalling suicide rate of PAUSD students is basically non-existent with Palo Alto parochial schools (and students of other nearby districts and private schools).

Yes, go stick your head in the sand. It's not going to change PAUSD.

Saying that out of towners don't understand Palo Alto is crazy. Everyone has a school district. Every registered voter can can elect local school board members.

And yes, PAUSD parents have options. You can collectively elect a school board who doesn't hire superintendents like Skelly or McGee. Are you confident that your current school board will hire someone who will last more than four years? Are you going to make the same complaints in 2020 that you made in 2013?

PAUSD parents have various options: 1.) live with the status quo and continue to watch your neighbors children take their lives at an astounding rate, 2.) collectively elect a better school board who in turn brings in better administration, 3.) take your kids out of PAUSD, send them to parochial schools or home school them, 4.) move to Mountain View (or Redwood City or Menlo Park, or ...).

Anyhow, see you guys back here in four years, whining about your current PAUSD administration. That's basically where you are headed if PAUSD parents won't take any responsibility for the district's shortcomings. I'll be back to place the blame on you and you will deny any responsibility. Will it all be the same? No, not really. There will be more dead schoolchildren in the interim.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Los Altos Hills

on Jun 30, 2017 at 7:36 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2017 at 8:53 am

KTVU are reporting on his resignation (not retirement) and indicating it is a result of the sexual allegations which they first reported on and their role in the matter. They seem to be taking credit for this as a good thing they have done.

Posted by nothing
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 30, 2017 at 9:31 am

According to Max, he told the board about his resignation weeks ago:

"Anyway, that weekend, we decided that when my Palo Alto contract ended on June 30, 2018, it would finally be time to retire retire (that’s not a typo), and the following week I told the Board of my intentions."

This was before the districts review on the June 15th. So either the writing was on the wall or the review made no difference. In fact, given that the board are letting him (want him?) to complete his contract there was probably less in it than people think.

It really is unfortunate how opaque this board has become. The board knew about this weeks ago and said nothing. The external investigation was supposed to be public and yet we've seen nothing. The says nothing of the review and just exudes the contempt this board has for the community it serves by providing this vacuum. Even Dauber, while complaining about the lack of transparency and promising during his election to transform it by making all his communications public via the web and yet we've seen nothing. He really has drunk the kool-aid now. We need a clean sweep of this board or nothing will change.

Posted by Interesting
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 30, 2017 at 9:43 am

Suddenly 100+, 200+ "like" on some comments. Although we had many many extremely controversial subjects in the past, comments to these two recent articles drew an immensive amount of "likes" within 10 minutes of posting.

Announcement of new Gunn principal -- many comments congratulating the new principal instantly gained 200+ likes for each congratulatory comment. Statistically never seen before. New principal is from Paly. Decision is made in record speed, Never seen such a speedy district decision before.

Resignation of Dr. McGee - I am guessing the board can approve a new superintendent in record time by following the exact same process. Create a committee and announce the new superintendent in 20 days. Just like in the case of Gunn, no national search, no town halls, no community reach out...

Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2017 at 10:14 am

I'm glad he's gone. IN the issues I followed, he had an amazing lack of scholarship/insight when discussing or presenting issues, sometimes misrepresenting his primary sources. I hope this means better things for learning disabled children in PAUSD schools, especially now that HOlly Wade is leaving as well. But we shall see. In any case, I won't trust my children's educational well being to this system until they demonstrate competence.

Posted by ParentC
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 30, 2017 at 10:21 am

From my experience with Mr. McGee, he is nice but is a typical politician. I would rather him to be an educator.

He listened but did not "hear". Sometimes he did things in the name of innovation, but tended to ignore common sense. It took him over 9 months to settle down wGPA report issue. During the process, he tended to throw out complicated ideas like using 1.5 as the weight.
I do not depend on him to finish more challenging work like education quality.

It's a big surprise to see a politician not sensitive to a big issue like the sex assaults on campus. It's a red flag.

Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2017 at 10:41 am

It was only a couple years ago that there was a "we can do better" movement that made all sorts of claims about the school district and got a favorite son elected to the school board.

So, are we doing better now? The swamp seems as deep now as it was then.

Posted by Anne
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 30, 2017 at 1:30 pm

I think McGee was an excellent school administrator who failed because he worked for a dysfunctional school board, worked in a district with corrupt administrators and had to constantly deal with parents who often saw themselves and their children as victims. The next superintendent will have the same fate if things don't change.

Posted by Change is Good
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2017 at 3:16 pm

If one is an excellent school administrator, there is no excuse that hinges on the parents not being perfect. You can rage on all day about imagined parent bogeymen, but when you take a job as head of a public school district, you accept that you are serving real, imperfect people, parents and children. That is the job, no excuses there. They could be a bunch of tattooed ex-gang members, parents and children, and still, it's not an excuse for violating state and federal laws that protect their kids from discrimination and assault. There isn't even an excuse in regards to corrupt administrators because he is the boss, dealing with those things is his job. He failed because he threw his towel in with the CYA crowd and culture, he just thought he could finesse it better than Skelly, and in truth, he did.

FWIW, I don't think any one the students who were assaulted and then not listened to, or the srudents who were bullied repeatedly and not listened to, or the families the district sued, or the families who could not get the district to simply honor the most basic processes or rules, or the families who dealt with very real retaliation, would agree that the problem was because they chose to see themselves as victims. However, that kind of degrading perspective among the corrupt administrators instead of honesty and a a can-do attitude definitely did have everything to do with McGee's failures. Also FWIW, I don't think the public even knows the biggest of McGee's failures. He's making the same mistake as Skelly, thinking that he can sweep things under a rug and all is well.

McGee did accomplish some things that his predecessor did not, I don't see it as all bad. But he would not or could not create accountability to solve the serious problems he inherited, and thus eventually owned them himself. The job for the next one will have to involve restoring trust and making an honest clean sweep, including what's only grown bigger under the rug the last three years. McGee certainly helped by making this mass exodus of "corrupt" admins. But it's confusing: if all those leaving are so great (per McGee's doing nothing to create accountability), then he needs to own being a leader who oversaw a mass exodus of employees. If those employees are instead corrupt (as I agree with you about), then McAgee owns the utter failure to deal with that corruption but instead to make nice and foist them on someone else. Either way, it's not excellence by a long shot.

Posted by A Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 30, 2017 at 3:38 pm

McGee didn't have what we needed. That's in part on him (he didn't do much to adjust), as well as on the board that hired him (who had their own ideas on the district's needs). He might be good in the right situation, but this wasn't it.

PAUSD needs an administrative culture change. Transparency and accountability; commitment to the success of every student (special ed, low-income, HUR, as well as kids in the middle to high general ed program); serious compliance with rules and laws, from Title IX to homework policy to you name it; focus on actually doing things, not just talking about them.

There's a lot of good in PAUSD, a lot to work with. The next super needs build a culture of doing the right things the right way. It's boring, ditch-digging work, but it's what we need.

Posted by Not Soon Enough
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 30, 2017 at 4:20 pm

McGee can't leave soon enough for most people at Paly!

Does the guy have no pride? Is he so greedy that he is willing to put up with so many people who want him GONE!

The Board should have dismissed McGee AND Diorio when the scandal about the sexual predator broke!

[Portion removed.]

Posted by Mom
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 30, 2017 at 10:33 pm

Dr m
You failed me. You said at one of ur initial talks that is is your last job and you want to be best, I have an email from you where you failed my child who desperately needed your help. You allowed h wade to bully her and make me spend hounds of dollars on attroney fees. I kept that email and will deliver it to you soon.
Thanks for teaching me about leadership from watching your failures
Special needs child mom

Posted by Rajiv Bhateja
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 30, 2017 at 11:56 pm


We are doing better. Far better than when Skelly cuckolded the board on Gunn Counseling and gave us Phil Winston.

Better for sure. But still a ways to go.

BTW, why do you refer to Dauber sarcastically as a favorite son? Was it because he was the top vote getter? Not allied with a sore loser, are you?

Posted by you've got no idea
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 1, 2017 at 8:23 am

You do know that Winston and Skelly left their positions before Dauber joined the board? Take a look at what's happened since he joined. It's not good reading. This thread alone shows that. A super that doesn't last 21 months!

Posted by Ghost of the Past
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 1, 2017 at 9:29 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by Change is Good
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2017 at 9:35 am

You are right that parents should take responsibility to change things, but your prescriptions are far too indirect. They are better off creating the checks and balances that will allow the right thing to happen and problems to be addressed every time one happens.

Search on school district ombudsmen. Many have them. In some districts, they have no power. In others, they do, and can help not only solve problems but also change policy and practices.

Parents should develop a Palo Alto City charter amendment that adds an ombudsman position to the district, but makes that position answerable to the City and parents (and performance evaluated by the City and feedback from those served), holding an office in the community, not the district office. If people have trouble getting records, for example, so much that the district is constantly violating the law and faces being outed again for violating laws and students rights, an ombudsman could both ensure that families get their records and that the superintendent and board ensure the district complies with their legal duty to have processes in place to provide records without a rigamarole for each family. The district keeps getting caught breaking the law because there is no one to make them do the right thing when they go off the rails.

The position could be paid for over time, if instead of giving supers interest free $1.5 million and growing loans, the district bought a house in the middle of town, not favoring any region, and let the super live there rent free - and then paid a lower salary closer to the governor's. The district would then also be the beneficiary of rising property values for its money, too.

Any parent who hasn't done so should look up the City Charter for where the school district powers are created. That has been changed by vote in recent memory, to essentially give some board members longer terms without an election. So, it's not that difficult. Many districts have ombudsmen, but in order for it to work here, the office would have to be independent and somewhat powerful. Just as the board and superintendent positions are created in the charter and their powers enumerated, so could an ombudsman be. Given the positive role to resolve problems, it seems a. Direct answer to solving problems before they get so bad.

The City Code describes how to make a charter amendment, which is kind of like a state ballot initiative. You have to collect signatures, but it's not hard and it's a chance to build support. You may have to present the amendment to the City Council - also good because it's free publicity for it. You may want to get statements in favor from illustrious community members (because only one can go in the official materials for the election, and there is a pecking order). And then the community votes. It's a local election only. This community is so supportive of schools, if you do your homework, it will pass. If you get right on it, this could be a reality before McGee leaves office, and we will have a chance to really solve problems before and while replacing alll the employees.

Maybe the office should be required to give administrators grades every few days so they understand what school is like for our kids....just joking. The office should have the ability to ask for the resignation of any employee who is the subject of frequent, justified complaints, though. Or perhaps the mayor should have that authority with advice from the ombudsmen. The office can be whatever you make it. I suggest looking at districts with strong ombudsman positions for guidance.

Posted by Old Timer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 1, 2017 at 10:30 am

"A super that doesn't last 21 months!"

@you've got no idea - that's due, in part at least, to Dauber doing his job. McGee let the district down badly on Title IX, special ed, etc., and was basically a politician, too slippery to rely on. The board has upped the standards, which is long overdue - they are doing their job. Dauber deserves a lot of credit for leading the charge on that.

Posted by Old Timer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 1, 2017 at 11:30 am

"Any parent who hasn't done so should look up the City Charter for where the school district powers are created. That has been changed by vote in recent memory, to essentially give some board members longer terms without an election."

@Change is Good - not quite right. PAUSD changed to even-year elections (extending the terms of some board members by one year) in 2011 by passing a resolution (Resolution 2010-11.11) setting the election date (you can read the legal memo explaining the process in this board packet Web Link

So they changed their election date without a change to the City Charter. The City Charter was changed in 2010 by Measure S to change City Council elections from odd to even year; that did requite a ballot measure to amend the charter. But it didn't impact the schools, which followed suit by passing the resolution.

Posted by Misplaced blame
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2017 at 12:40 pm

In terms of the Palo Alto district's playbook on how they retaliate against parents for asking a mere question (and retaliate against their children) and blame the parents and children for their own toxic environment that the staff has created, I often wonder whether this is due to the long time influence of the law firm Lozano Smith. Lozano Smith was sanctioned by Judge Wanger for ethics violations and the entire firm was sent to ethics training. They have also been sued by multiple districts including Pleasanton Unified (for malpractice/professional negligence).

The end result is that after the Wanger sanction, many of their lawyers ended up at other law firms including FFF and others.

Having talked with numerous parents that have dealt with Districts that employ or contract with these people, I believe they have a set of boilerplate tactics to: 1) retaliate against parents 2) parent-shame and child-shame via threatening letters whenever a question is asked 3) accuse parents of being either 'helicopter' parents or 'disengaged' parents depending upon the volume of emails they receive from the parents 4) blame parents for taking too much time of the staff so that the staff does not have time to follow the law.

Typically these letters that are nasty or emails that are nasty arrive from the District in odd timing --- before breaks, holidays, child's birthday --- and seem so similar, district to district, that is possible that these boilerplate letters full of accusations and fingerpointing are part of a written campaign strategy to silence parents.

I have also heard that the superintendents of many Districts use these exact same law firms to intimidate and silence board members who ask too many questions.

So my question is why do the boards continue to employ these law firms?

Do they really believe that silencing people through intimidation is a great way to educate children?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 1, 2017 at 1:05 pm

@Misplaced Blame, FFF was fired a couple years back. Lozano's work is being put up out for bid by RFP sometime in the fall. I doubt the district would bother to do that unless they expect to make a change. Not sure if new lawyers will be better or not, but chances are we'll find out.

Posted by Misplaced blame
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2017 at 1:25 pm

Many ex-Lozano Smith lawyers and FFF former lawyers are at Pleasanton-based Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo (AALRR); therefore, I would suspect that since zebras don't change their stripes, they carry their tactics from firm to firm.

Mary Frances Callan used Lozano Smith heavily in Pleasanton Unified (this triggered the malpractice lawsuit years later where Lozano Smith was accused of professional negligence). She then used them at Palo Alto Unified.

After the Wanger sanction in a Special Education case where Wanger fined the firm and accused them of misrepresenting law and facts and lying, many of the Lozano Smith attorneys left because Lozano Smith was slammed in the sanction.

Robert Moser v. Bret Harte Union High School District is the case resulting in the sanction.

Most of the Lozano Smith lawyers ended up at AALRR and FFF, but also other law firms as well.

AALRR is now the law firm that PAUSD uses.

If PAUSD had ever intended to change its ways, it should have never hired FFF or AALRR in the first place.

Posted by Change is Good
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2017 at 2:28 pm

@Old Timer,
"@Change is Good - not quite right. PAUSD changed to even-year elections (extending the terms of some board members by one year) in 2011 by passing a resolution (Resolution 2010-11.11) setting the election date (you can read the legal memo explaining the process in this board packet Web Link)."

Thanks for the correction, I had thought the City and district process were the same.

I did, however, realize the vote was for switching the election cycle. However, the stated reason for aligning the district election with even/odd year was a farce, given that the district chose to make its asks for money as hugely expensive special elections after losing one once when voters were unhappy with the district. I stand by my interpretation of what was really behind that. This kind of shuffling in cities and districts is always about backhanded power grabs, or they would make it impossible for existing members to benefit.

Regardless, my point is the same. Parents have the power to change this and create accountability systems via the City Charter. As I understand it, charter cities do not have to create the powers of the district in the charters but can and ours does. The residents and parents therefore have an opportunity to change the structure of our district leadership in order to end the repeated snafu (snafu as a state of being rather than an event) by changing the city charter. School districts exist for local control, the leadership are not supposed to be little dictators with so little accountability from above and below. Complaints do not create accountability unless there are levers, and school districts are uniquely insular. An election of a few board members every six years does not create enough accountability. We need some kind of ombudsman outside of district influence, at a minimum. Creating the equivalent power of referendum and intitiative for school districts, in.order to deal with important matters, would also help.

The City charter says the district follows state ed code, but we can make changes there, too. One job of an ombudsman would be to understand what policy we can improve and what we can't touch. Again, changing the City charter is no more difficult than a neighborhood referendum, and this town is supportive of education. Parents should put their energy into creating systems of accountability and improvement so that problems don't just get to the breaking point and never really solved.

Posted by Toxicity
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jul 2, 2017 at 12:35 pm

I would venture to guess that 40% of the PAUSD parents are toxic in the sense of being pushy, overbearing-- even downright mean. And that's with their own children. About three-fourths of those parents treat the teachers and principals the same way.

It's mostly the administrators, principals and most of the school board who are negligent and toxic, however.

It seems all these people are working against the district!

Posted by teacher
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 2, 2017 at 12:44 pm

I would respectfully disagree with you. As a secondary teacher for the most part you get civilized, well meaning parents who just have the audacity to expect an email back within a 36 hr time span or expect answers to well intentioned questions without being labeled as a pariah. There are teachers and admin at the DO who do not respect this behavior as they are arrogant enough to see themselves as the Palo Alto elite as their few bad parental apple counterparts.

Posted by anonymous post
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 2, 2017 at 6:31 pm

Agree with teacher. One of the reasons I like living here is that the parents are so nice, intelligent, generous, and engaged. The only parents I've known like you described are a few PTA crowd who get into those positions less to serve families than to get special treatment for their kids. Maybe you need to get into a different crowd - or are you just speculating based on the campaign to blame all the district problems on parents?

I found that admins were so toxic, if they didn't like you and thought you were developing too friendly of a relationship with teachers, they would set off toxic backbiting and as a parent you can't overcome that. If you aren't allowed to have casual conversations to solve problems, if the teachers think you have done things you haven't, but they won't tell you, it just leaks out in the way you are treated differently (like your friends are getting two emails a day from the math teacher about their kid but you aren't allowed to do that even once) and your child being treated differently (like being excluded from the class Schoology). One of the young men who took his life had said he was never allowed to forget he was special ed - there's a way they keep you at arm's length like you're some kind of disgusting lab specimen, it's pervasive, and it affects the attitude of the other kids who pick up on the attitude and amplify it. I know these things were going on at the district level, for example,because one teacher actual went on a binge of yelling at me, red faced, about stuff I had never done or said, and she was so off base, I almost couldn't even start. Which was okay because she wouldn't let me get in a word edgewise. How do you overcome stuff like that, especially when others won't be that honest to your face?

Don't believe the smear campaign of parents, it's just not true. It's a way for unaccountable admins to try to deflect blame or to get their jollies if they even imagine they've been dissed. Compare that to where I went to school - I had to look carefully when the news about a certain terrifying serial killer came out because he looked and sounded just like a former classmate, and no he wasn't one of the charming ones, and he wasn't a ship out of water either. Those teachers deserved combat pay (as did we students), but they mostly didn't have to deal with parents - I'm. not sure they even had conferences with parents.

This district is about as easy as it gets. People who don't like working with parents for above average six-figure pay and significant classroom support are in the wrong place.

Posted by garsha
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 3, 2017 at 2:05 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by anonymous post
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 3, 2017 at 3:32 am

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]

Posted by Excuses
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 3, 2017 at 8:51 am

The bottom line as I see it is that there is no accountability in the district; therefore, whenever a problem exists, the district staff and management go into attack mode.

This involves smearing the parents as troublemakers, when in fact, it is the district staff and management that are at fault entirely for their toxicity. The parents are also called "helicopter parents." In the case of the student victim of the Palo Alto sexual assault in the bathroom, the victim is ignored, the perpetrator is allowed to stay where he is, until all hell breaks loose at KTVU comes into expose the PAUSD dysfunction.

The district wants to "save face" and never admit their own mistakes. Instead they will finger point to anyone else to distract the public from who is to blame - the district.

Meanwhile, parents who happen to be in one of the most expensive real estate locations in Northern California and are therefore paying extremely high taxes send their kids to schools that should be world class, but instead are full of negligent administrators delivering substandard education to its students. This is in part to a union mentality where teachers do not want to be managed and fight any effort to protect the health and mental well-being of students, including protesting using the same software to enter daily homework assignments.

In a private company or corporation, if the VP said to a group that they would use the same software to transact financial transactions for the company or the same customer contact software to transact customer leads through the sale cycle, the employees would do this. If the employees protested, they would likely be fired.

But in Palo Alto, the teachers raise holy hell when they are given a simple instruction to use the same software to enter daily homework assignments. Why? To me, it seems that the underlying reasons are:

1. that they get some sort of power and control boost and satisfaction from using different software, thus ensuring that it will take at least 30 minutes of students' time to navigate various web sites a night
2. teachers enjoy the power and control and really don't want to ease student stress (but they say they do, when they really don't)
3. teachers do not want to be monitored by administrators
4. teachers enjoy filing grievances against management and enjoy exerting their power and control over management regardless of the impact it has on students

And that in a nutshell explains the nature of the toxicity at PAUSD.

Posted by Retired
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 3, 2017 at 9:32 am

@Anonymous Post

Thank you for being vocal about issues in our district.

May I ask how many hours you have volunteered for your school last year, or the year before, all the entire time when your kids are in school? From your comment about the PTA, apparently you do not know much about how it works.

It is a well known secret that the parents who wanted to gain school favors for their own kids are most of the time active with all sorts of boosters, not the PTA. These booster parents are the ones who work closely with the teachers.

The PTA volunteers spent A TON of their own time for the school community, a lot of the times after school, when their own families needed them most. I helped them occasionally, because they were always looking for volunteers to help out. I then got the opportunity to look closer how dedicated these moms were.

Most parents get this and appreciate the work of these volunteers. Our community has been generous with their support to the PTA as well.

Get involved.

Posted by Cryptomnesiac
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 3, 2017 at 10:19 am

", the victim is ignored, the perpetrator is allowed to stay where he is, until all hell breaks loose at KTVU comes into expose the PAUSD dysfunction."

According to "Old Timer", this was down to Dauber doing his job not KTVU investigative work. However, a quick google shows KTVU also taking credit for McGee's resignation and they don't mention anyone on the board.

These facts lead one to believe that "Old Timer" is trying to give credit to Dauber for KTVU's work. Not the way to enhance someones underperformance.

Posted by Old Timer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 3, 2017 at 10:29 am

Dauber did his job and the TV station did its job. They both deserve credit in my book. Lesser credit, but still important, goes to the Weekly, and to at least some of the other board members.

Posted by Anonymous post
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 3, 2017 at 10:54 am

I have put so much time into benefitting our schools, I have been given flowers and thank you notes by the teachers and principle instead of the other way around. I have stood up to administrators and helped to rally the majority of supportive parents when a staff member and teachers were getting the wrong end of the stick because if a rare unreasonable parent. I think one teacher kept her job because of it. I have raised money, put in countless hours of classroom volunteer time, given sacrificially. I have even done thankless jobs in the PTA. I have organized numerous class gifts and teacher recognitions. I have shillied for PiE at our school site. Not recently, it's not exactly easy to have a relationship under these conditions. The change came when my child had special needs.

@Toxicty mentioned 40% pushy overbearing mean parents, something I just have not witnessed in this district except among a few cliquey PTA parents, usually the ones in power - but not always. I didn't even say anything in general about all PTA. I was saying most parents in PAUSD are nice, intelligent, involved, unusually caring. Most are more likely to give the shirt off their backs to help the classroom than fit the accusations above. Most teachers are some of the best educators I have ever known. Rotten untrustworthy selfis, feckless administration can do a lot of damage, though.

Posted by Retired
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 3, 2017 at 12:31 pm

@Anonymous Post

Thank you for all your contribution to the community---glad that you got recognized too for your effort.

Talking about clique, a lot of people outside of the "in circle" noticed it too. It is hard to not take notice when you try to volunteer and could not. It is sad. This was also the reason I decided to not get further involved than occasional help.

The density of power and ego is too high in this town. Community leaders are not supposed to pick their volunteers; instead they should work with them and encourage more participation.

Posted by For the kids...
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 3, 2017 at 12:59 pm

The toxic tone of this thread is appalling. Please remember that local kids read this.

I have worked as a parent volunteer with Max McGee. He's a person who cares about kids. Like most people he has strengths and weaknesses as a manager. My observation is that he was not the best match for this position. He has administrators who require a fair amount of supervision, and that is not his forte. He is a big ideas guy. That's what the squeaky wheels with money in our community asked for. He is also retirement age. Next time, let's look for a sup who can build a strong organization of skilled, honest educational administrators who work well with others and have the best interests of children at heart.

We can do this. Let's work as a community to support our schools. Stop pushing for boutique programs favored by techies who jump on every educational fad of the month that pops up on the internet, and focus on educating ALL of our children in civics, math (Yes. tech, too). Let's build rock solid foundations in writing and reading, and foreign language (starting early) for EVERY child in the district. Let's make sure that our children feel cared for and supported at home and at school.

Give it a rest, people. Perfection is not possible in large organizations of humans. If we work to help each other succeed instead of making it our habit to tear each other down, maybe we can build something good together for our kids. Let's do that. Our kids deserve it.

Posted by Anonymous post
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 3, 2017 at 1:26 pm

I agree with your assessment of McGee.

Give what a rest? If you mean speaking the truth, wanting the district to obey laws and clean house of the behavior that is only minimally discussed above, I think it's inappropriate to suggest people be silent. That's one thing that happens in our district, blaming parents for speaking up, when being silent just makes things worse, and only the ones who take things to a point administrations cannot ignore get any justice, such as it is.

ALL children have rights. Spending more money and effort crushing and NOT accommodating the most vulnerable needs to be dealt with. The speaking out comes as a direct result of the coverup culture, and that will not be solved by parents clamming up an expecting things to be solved by the very people who made the culture.

I say, use this opportunity to speak up. If more had when we looked for this super, perhaps there would have been desperately needed accountability before he got here. But he took the job, and was capable of reading before he got here, and he chose to proceed playing politics instead of cleaning house. Now he owns the consequences. That belongs in a discussion same as the good. IMO, the best thing he did was preside over an exodus of some pretty bad apples in Churchill. Unfortunately a few good ones left too, but then, I don't trust my own judgment having seen how polished the bad apples I know about made themselves for the community.

And FYI, we could have sued the district into the dirt but chose to let McGee try to fix things (also because the retaliation against our child was a certainty and he ended up protecting those employees). Instead he chose only to deal with situations where he was forced. My child has been left feeling utterly unsafe in our hometown, and this is not some distant past for us. McGee could have done his job and helped us while solving this problem for all, making the district work lawfully as it is supposed to for the future and did not.

If you think that is toxic, try going through a fraction if what we did and you will know toxic. When we approached McGee he was lovely to start but quickly responded to the backbiting from the Skelly past and wouldn't investigate his biases from looking only at one CYA side. There was no way for us to volunteer the way you did, the toxic admins really bore down if they thought we were getting chummy with anyone powerful who might consider stepping back and looking at things impartially.

Posted by helicopters
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 3, 2017 at 8:31 pm

Reading all the comments after posting a few days ago confirms my opinion. PA parents are overbearing and aggressive to our school administrators whose hands are tied in many cases. I would love to see you in their shoes. Work to improve things and be positive, or send your kids to Casti or Menlo.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 3, 2017 at 8:49 pm

@helicopters, sorry if it isn't all sunshine and roses here. Some kids and families really struggle and some of our administrators have been horrid (you might have noticed all those OCR findings, TV news, scandals, etc.). You can blame the victim if you like, I prefer to listen, investigate, and work for accountability.

Posted by Anonymous Post
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 4, 2017 at 12:10 am

Thanks for the supportive words. People like helicopters don't get that if parents were anything like that, this district wouldn't exist because of the lawsuits. They also don't get that things are far worse than people post here. But make no mistake, that same attitude pervades the district office still and has left the district vulnerable, aside from just wasting money not serving its mission.

Posted by Funny
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 4, 2017 at 9:13 am

It's great to hear from all of the experts on these matters. Who needs administrators? Let's just put a dozen of these "expert" parents in charge! I'm sure it will work!

And meanwhile, let's have the former administrators step into the medical field and start performing operations, the law field and have them try cases, or perhaps the tech field and start coding.

I think these choices will go swimmingly well. After all, anyone can do these jobs and everyone posting here is a self-qualified expert.


Posted by Anonymous Post
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 4, 2017 at 9:58 am

People are relaying their experiences about bad administrators and the coverup culture in the district office, and the negative consequences of it. They are asking for ethical administrators who follow the laws and seek to support families and all students. You are deliberately conflating specific complaints about bad administrators and bad/unethical/retaliatory behavior with an idea that good administration is unnecessary or that parents can't tell the different between a good administrator and an abusive one. This is a deliberate attempt to defect accountability, which is the opposite of what we need.

In fact, it's just offensive because it's another attempt to silence or invalidate calls to bring bad behavior toward families and children to account. Do we tell crime victims that they cannot report their crimes to the police because they are not experts on crime, or that a victim who experiences graft cannot seek justice because they aren't an expert on policing? It doesn't take an expert to know something is wrong when families are treated to the above. People are complaining about administrators who won't follow the laws written specifically regarding the rights of students and parents (which parents not only do know about, but districts are supposed to follow and educate parents about if parents don't know), who engage in behavior that thwarts both the intent and letter of the laws protecting children in school, who engage in damaging and stress inducing retaliation and cover up behavior, and are not held to account or to performance standards.

It's ironic that you would mock them, saying " let's have the former administrators step into the medical field and start performing operations, the law field and have them try cases" since one of the ironies is that a persistent behavior has been for district employees with no medical training, or no expert experience, to make medical judgments that the district uses to override in-depth evaluation by local medical professionals who are experts. One of the biggest complaints is that school employees have been acting like lawyers from a predatory lawfirm replete with specific tactics employed, rather than as educators who have a legal duty to proactively do what is necessary to help and protect kids.

School districts exist for local control and to serve families. Anyone who doesn't like that shouldn't be trying to lob bombs at families to promulgate the CYA culture and protect oversized undeserved salaries.

But the focus here is McGee. As has been stated many times, McGee might have succeeded brilliantly here, had the underlying office culture been cleaned up before he got here. He was unorepared to do anything about it, and unfortunately, like his predecessor, has favored secrecy and coverup thinking things swept under the rug (regardless of the damage to students and families) will not come back to bite him. He did not hold his underlings to account for their behavior, which he may have inherited but has done nothing to illuminate and rectify, so it's his problem now. Which is really sad because the other side of him, the idea side, could have been a great fit. But what we really needed was someone to restore trust and fundamental governance performance, and McGee was not that guy, unfortunately. He still has a year to leave a better legacy, but it doesn't apoear from his statements that he gets it.

Posted by sick of it
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 4, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Tremendous self-righteousness is impeding the argument of the strident matter what criticism these writers are hearing,it is projected on everyone else as "silencing.


you haven't been silenced unless you forgot to read your 18 paragraph long posts.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Greene Middle School

on Jul 4, 2017 at 5:10 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Posted by Stop
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 4, 2017 at 6:28 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Anonymous Post
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 4, 2017 at 9:18 pm

Has Dr. McGee ever offered an explanation for why he dropped the Special Ed review?

It seems to me he has a choice to do something really heroic that will let him sleep well the rest of his life, or to continue hoping things will stay swept under the rug and not hit the fan his last year.

Posted by Funny
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 4, 2017 at 11:20 pm

Let me be very clear: it isn't the administrators in PAUSD; it's you.

It's the clueless, angry Palo Alto parent who didn't get the red carpet rolled out for them.

It's the delusional "the rules don't apply to me" Palo Alto parent who defends their son who hit a female student and dropped the C word.

It's the entitled, my-son-is-going-to-Stanford (spoiler: no he isn't) PAUSD parent who refused to accept the B+ their student has earned and battles the teacher, the administrator, and then the district office with the issue.

Yes, PAUSD has some cruddy administrators. My kids' principal is average at best. The issue isn't the administrators though. It is this community and how we run every single administrator out of town.

There is a reason Jordan will have four principals in four year.

There is a reason we will go through another superintendent cycle (as if that will solve anything).

There is a reason why so many administrators refuse to work in PAUSD.

Hint: it's not the kids. It's not the staff.

It's because this community is toxic. Truthfully. We, due to a very select vocal angry few, are incredibly rude to our educators. It's shameful.

[Portion removed.]

Posted by Anonymous Post
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 5, 2017 at 12:19 am

[Portion removed.]

Your beef has nothing to do with administrators who will not follow the most basic of laws such as providing records under records laws, or who harrass or threaten parents of kids with disabilities, or who engage in cover up and even retaliation, or ignore the behavior in underlings rather than investigate (as is their legal duty). .

None of the examples you used is excusable, but it's frankly pretty benign compared to where I went to school, e.g., knife fights, teachers who had to buy their own supplies, students who created daily pandemonium in classrooms. We did have administrators who did their jobs honestly and didn't try to blame parents for everything that wasn't shiny perfect about the real world.

What's not normal has been the district office CYA culture, it is one of the most poisonous organizational cultures I have ever seen. McGee's getting a lot if them to leave has been the best thing about his tenure, whether he intended it or not. In contrast to your claims, it seems like it's been almost impossible to get rid of some of the worst ones. If only we could get rid of Bob Golton, Cathy Mak, and Stephanie Sheridan. Even Skelly hung around for way too long.

My experience bears no resemblance to your descriptions. Parents of special ed students who have been dealt with abusively bear no resemblance to your descriptions. You are really out if line, and given what families here have endured from untrustworthy, unprofessional behavior, your accusations are the toxic influence here, starting with blaming the victims and bringing up whiny unrelated stuff that has nothing to do with the serious concerns of administrators here who fail to follow the most central education laws and actively cover up. McGee himself started a review of special ed and then just dropped it.

The district writes its own procedures for following the law. Administrators have no excuse for not following them, especially where the safety of students is concerned. Administrators here make salaries commensurate with high-stakes jobs in companies but somehow expect no accountability. When the CYA and lack of accountability stops, and the district works with and for families again, in a trustworthy culture, we will have a well-functioning district again. I can only hope that McGee will consider it important to work on the trust problem by doing his job as a leader. And if he won't, that the new board will ensure the next person focuses on restoring integrity and trust.

To the Board: you have heard anout the CYA culture, the lack of following laws, the retaliation, what are you doing about it except expect McGee to do everything?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 5, 2017 at 8:29 am

@funny, just to get the facts right on Jordan, the first principal was pushed out by the district office, the second was a one year interim, who was then moved to another school in the district, the third moved away from the area as a trailing spouse after a year, and we now have the fourth. It's not a great scenario, but has nothing to do with pushy parents driving away able administrators.

Posted by hmm
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 5, 2017 at 9:00 am


If you have an honest conversation with any of the past three Jordan principals about how challenging they found the parent community to be, you may be surprised with what you discover.

Jordan is well known for its challenging parent community, both within PAUSD and throughout the bay area. Nothing I've seen in person or on these boards disputes these truths.

And when the next Jordan principal leaves after 2-3 years... and we cycle through another superintendent again... Will we again have this same conversation?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 5, 2017 at 10:05 am

@hmm, the Jordan community can be challenging, I agree, but that doesn't change the facts about why the three principals left. After the first one was pushed out, we were bound to have at least 3 in four years, since Mr. J was explicitly interim. The current principal leaving I would put down to bad luck - she is literally moving out of town after being a long-time community member (btw, I doubt the Jordan community surprised her much since she lived in it).

On an historical note, the prior Jordan principals, including Barnes, served 6.5, 3 (then promoted), and 4 years each, so 3 in 13 years, which seems like pretty standard for middle school principals. So not a lot of data to support that Jordan chews up administrators more than other middle schools.

Posted by Just. Quit. Basing. Parents
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 5, 2017 at 12:40 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by hmm
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 5, 2017 at 1:50 pm


Barnes was 3 years. The principal before him was 3 years. Then Interim. Then the recent one. Now, new one.

That's five principals in nine years. That's a lot.

How many assistant principals have they had over that time? (Hint: Huge turnover here as well over the last nine years. HUGE.)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 5, 2017 at 2:56 pm

@hmm, well, as I said, the last one was one year by bad luck, the interim was one year by design - so while unfortunate, I'd not attach much to those data points. I apologize if the 3 before that were 12 years instead of 13 (my memory must be fading). I don't know about assistant principals, sorry, either at Jordan or elsewhere, though I'd expect to see turnover as principals change.

I agree, the Jordan community is not always the easiest, but I don't think this particular metric is a good illustration of it. It would be good to have a long-term administrator in there.

Posted by Not Funny
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 5, 2017 at 9:28 pm

@Funny blames parents:"It's because this community is toxic. "

Truthfully- Jordan had three teachers who abused our children - one used psychological intimidation daily, one waged a war of humiliation to try to drive our child out of her class, and a third resorted to daily calling our child to the front of class, calling him names and yelling at him.

In all cases the principals refused to protect the children.

And we are not alone. Friends and neighbors all have their own stories.

So our view of "toxic" is some of the staff's utter disrespect for the children.

And the administration who supported this misbehavior had to go. And should have gone sooner if accountability existed in this district.

You can mansplain "toxic" all day long, but still, some of the staff does not treat children well. If you work there, your post is a frightening tirade against the community which I pray students don't have to endure in person.

Posted by PAEA is another reason
a resident of Fletcher Middle School
on Jul 5, 2017 at 10:20 pm

Parents really don't have that much power, the teacher's union, however, does. PAEA works behind the scenes to ensure that they are untouchable by principals or parents. Though aggrieved parents are further frustrated by principals who do very little to correct an underperforming teacher, they do have to understand that those who do will last three years or less, just as the Gunn principal, Denise Herrmann, did. PAEA kept the pressure on her up until this year since filing the official grievance against her for her suggesting the use of Schoolology.

Posted by Curious
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2017 at 11:16 am

@Not Funny - "Truthfully- Jordan had three teachers who abused our children - one used psychological intimidation daily, one waged a war of humiliation to try to drive our child out of her class, and a third resorted to daily calling our child to the front of class, calling him names and yelling at him."

This behavior sounds awful, but without the right context it's difficult to really understand it. What are some examples of your kids behavior that would have caused the teachers to respond in the way they did? I am not implying that the teachers would be justified, but just trying to understand.

Posted by Not Funny
a resident of Old Palo Alto

on Jul 6, 2017 at 3:43 pm

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.

Posted by Exasperated
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 6, 2017 at 4:19 pm

McGee inherited a mess from Skelly.

He made it worse.

He should leave post-haste!

Posted by Me
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 12, 2017 at 3:14 am

PAUSD is the most stressful district to work for. Parents a way too demanding with out of this universe expectations. They are the lost difficult stakeholders to deal with in the education of the children. They will never be satisfied with anyone. I am a parent with three children in the District and a relentless parent volunteer. I see it first hand.

Good luck PAUSD! Your turnovers will continue like avalanches.

Posted by Anonymous Post
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2017 at 9:00 am

Yes, demanding that the district follow the law according to procedures they wrote themselves is so darned unreasonable.

Parents would seem a lot less demanding if the district developed an ethos of working with families.

As for turnover, I hadn't realized we have a teacher turnover problem, is that true? Of teacher retirees I know, most had issues with the administration, not families. I can't think of a single teacher who has had to deal with the stress of being threatened by gang member parents, constant feelings of being unsafe at school, having to buy the kids' supplies from their under $100,000/school year salary. But I have heard multiple teachers complain of being lied to and leaned on by the district office.

Except for Denise Herrrmann, the district office turnover is a blessing (if only we could get rid of Sheridan, Mak, and Golton, too). How did we manage to not turn over some of them faster is partly responsible for our woes. I don't recall Herrmann leaving because of demanding parents, I recall a lot of praise and support by parents. I do recall a complaint being filed against her by the teachers union because she asked them to use the same platform for assigning homework to try to reduce stress after suicides.

I am a relentless parent volunteer, too. I see parents mostly demanding honesty, transparency, courtesy, normal communication, fairness, trustworthiness, safety, yet as a group, they have been relentlessly maligned, mostly for that.

Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 12, 2017 at 9:59 am

Californians seem to accept one party rule and the party promoting its own to the next level (Harris, Newsome, etc.) rather than actual elections. Real contests would produce better results. The question of who gets to be city manager or head of school board always seems to be who in these state or national machines is next in line more than best option to lead.

Why can't the search select a great leader outside the field, someone even in another field, someone at least inside the state? I'm sure there are many really caring, acomplished, and capable people who would love to serve and probably at much lower costs to the community.

I hope not but if we are seeing way too much self-serving policy and much too little dedication to serve in these powerful public entities then perhaps a few administrators from outside the closed system would be beneficial. This 6 million 'mistake' is still troubling.

It's good that McGee is going. It would be better if the board understood the frustrations and fire him.

Posted by Just Go
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 12, 2017 at 2:53 pm

Like a previous poster, we were hoping McGee would have enough dignity to resign by June.

Failing that, he and Kim Diorio should be dismissed post-haste. It's really in the best interest of the students not to have administrators on staff who were very possibly involved in a cover-up, and who withheld important facts from the public ( and possibly PAPD).

Allowing these two people to stay another year sends a very bad message to PAUSD students and their families.

No wonder enrollment is declining-- looking at all the scandals of the past several years, we would hesitate to enroll a young child in this district!

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