Town Square

Post a New Topic

PE teacher charged with sexually assaulting student

Original post made on Jun 15, 2022

A Palo Alto Unified School District physical education teacher has been charged with sexual assault on a female student, police said Wednesday afternoon.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 15, 2022, 6:04 PM

Comments (57)

Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 15, 2022 at 6:26 pm

Michele Dauber is a registered user.

Campanile Magazine: Web Link

"Colombo’s love for coaching comes from his love for working with kids. Because he was so passionate, for a few years at Paly as a head coach, Colombo even worked without pay.. . .“I didn’t care,” Colombo said. “You’re not doing it for the money, you’re doing it because you love kids.”


Posted by Samuel L
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 15, 2022 at 7:51 pm

Samuel L is a registered user.

Might want to look into why he took a "hiatus" from the district. Did it have anything to do with his "interactions" with students? Was the district aware of this and quietly let him walk away before bringing him back? I would not be surprised if this was the case.

6 years is more than a "brief hiatus".


Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2022 at 7:59 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Better late than never. I wonder how many other victims are out there. I don't believe this happens only "once."


Posted by Me
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 15, 2022 at 8:10 pm

Me is a registered user.

@Samuel L: The hiatus was a personal issue, had nothing to do with this subject.

My kids graduated from the PAUSD system, through Jordan and Paly. Columbo is an awesome coach and teacher, all the kids liked him. I am so saddened to read this, still processing it. I don't understand how a student could two decades later have a good case against him, there were no mobile phones in 2001. How do we know it's not a false accusation?


Posted by Palo Alto Raised
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 15, 2022 at 8:31 pm

Palo Alto Raised is a registered user.

Thank you to the woman who is brave enough to file her case even after a two decades. I hope she will inspire others to speak up on this very difficult topic.


Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 15, 2022 at 8:50 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

@me
Yes, a personal issue. If I remember correctly from when my kids were in school and had him as a teacher, it was some sort of nervous breakdown. They used to come home with odd stories about Columbia often.

There are not many examples of a child molesting tracker that was NOT liked by their students.

What do mobile phones have to do with anything? Only crimes that are recorded are believable now????


Posted by Relieved Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2022 at 9:08 pm

Relieved Parent is a registered user.

@Me, give the District Attorneys office and the others involved in the investigation some credit. They've been working since January and know what evidence they have. They did not arrest and jail Colombo over a mere accusation. Cell phones may not have been common but other types of corroborating evidence still existed.


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2022 at 9:32 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

I sincerely hope the evidence is strong. There have been too many cases lately where the
accusation was withdrawn after the damage had already been done. It seems the person gave himself in to police and we have to wait and see if this is because he is admitting guilt or feels that there is no real case against him.

If as we must suppose he is innocent until proven guilty it really doesn't matter. It seems the mud slinging has already started. If he is in fact innocent, is it really possible now for him to get his life back? After all, he will never teach again.


Posted by Palo Alto Res
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 16, 2022 at 6:30 am

Palo Alto Res is a registered user.

@Me: Just because one is an "awesome teacher and coach and all the kids liked him" is not mutually exclusive with being a sexual predator of children. Indeed sexual predators and pedophiles often figure out a career path or volunteer path where they get to work with children.

@Michele Dauber: Of course he has a "love for working with kids" most sexual predators an pedophiles "love" working with kids.

If people recall, there was an PAUSD Ohlone teacher (elementary school in PAUSD), Mike Airo, who was arrested and charged with sexual abuse a few years ago because he assaulted a girl and she came forward after a decade had passed. It sometimes takes a decade or longer for a child to grow up and have the ability and voice to speak up. Pedophiles assault children assuming they will never speak up but they don't realize children eventually grow up and become adults who can speak up and testify to what assault they underwent.
Web Link

If people remember, parents and coworkers testified and stood behind the PAUSD Ohlone teacher as well saying what an amazing teacher he was. How passionate he was and how he loved his students. Well didn't mean he wasn't a pedophile or sexual predator.

So @Michele Dauber & @Me: Your statements of him "love kids" and "loving teaching" and "loving coaching" are all consistent with a profile of a sexual predator who preys on children. That is what sexual predators do.


Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2022 at 7:26 am

Michele Dauber is a registered user.

I am not defending him. I am pointing out that he "loved kids" so much that he agreed to work "without pay", which might have been a red flag if anyone was paying attention.


Posted by Bg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 16, 2022 at 7:27 am

Bg is a registered user.

@me : your perspective is gross, damaging and comes from and extremely uninformed idea of what it feels like to be a young female student. It’s disturbing to me that you automatically side with the adult man instead of considering the pain and experience of an 11 year old girl. Please reflect on how devastating it is for survivors to come forward and how rhetoric like yours, “how do we know it’s not a false accusation” is precisely the reason why so many predators are never caught and why the suffering of survivors is prolonged. Colombo was also my teacher and I can tell you right now, this woman is not coming forward with a “false accusation.” Im willing to bet you have a son who played sports and you now have a soft spot for Colombo, but maybe try to value the protection of young students more than sports. Just a thought. And @michele D you’re right about one thing. He “loved” kids.


Posted by Palo Alto Res
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 16, 2022 at 8:47 am

Palo Alto Res is a registered user.

@Bystander, the court will determine whether he is guilty or not, but for now he is charged. Cleary the prosecutor has a case against him with evidence after a 6 month investigation. This is being made public so other victims can come forward.

Even back in the 1990's teachers were taught to NEVER close a door and be alone with a child. If one must be alone with a child, to always keep the doors open. For Columbo to be in the girls locker room at lunch time is predatory. He would have purposefully have had to entered the locker room.

I suspect the police was able to investigate and find evidence of the victim having told her girlfriends back then, and also perhaps even a witness or who in the girls locker room who were able to corroborate Mr. Columbo's presence in the Girl's locker room.

Let's not assume the victim is lying simply because she came forward more than 2 decades later.


Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 16, 2022 at 9:03 am

Samuel L. is a registered user.

Campanile article also shows that Colombo was the JV girls basketball coach.

@Michelle Dauber - you point out one of the biggest issues w the district when you said "if anyone was paying attention."

And even if someone did have a suspicion of any odd behavior, which is highly likely given how much chatter there is at schools, it's unlikely anyone would have spoken up. The district has never fostered a culture of speaking up, especially against its own staff.


Posted by North PA Mom
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 16, 2022 at 9:05 am

North PA Mom is a registered user.

Bill Giordano, also a former PE teacher at Jordan, was charged and convicted many years later for grooming and raping. In the investigation, it was found that many adults knew what was going on and looked the other way. Very sad, as these coaches are often a beneficial presence in many kids’ lives. The damage they do is forever lasting for their victims. I’m sorry this young woman did not feel supported back then in coming forward. It’s very hard for a child to report an authority figure. There are always more than one victim. And many parents do not want to put their kids through the investigation. I’d love to believe Mr. C is innocent, but as other writers have stated, there must be quite a case in order for this to be public now.


Posted by Wait for the Facts but...
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2022 at 9:28 am

Wait for the Facts but... is a registered user.

THERE IS NO WAY HE IS GUILTY....... no way, no how!!! Wait for the facts, but you will see there is not one other person who comes out!!!!


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2022 at 10:24 am

Bystander is a registered user.

I would like to add that since Mr G was convicted similarly and they worked at the school at the same time, it should have been possible to see if there were any other instances of similar behavior from other members of staff.

However, he is still innocent until proven guilty.

And the fact that someone who "loves working with kids" and would do it for free is a red flag, that would just about fit almost every volunteer youth workers, AYSO coach or referee, Little League, etc. from parent or other family member volunteers, community service volunteers, retired active senior, faith based volunteer, etc. etc. Once volunteering with youth is seen as a red flag, there will be no more volunteers and all our youth activities will suffer as a consequence.


Posted by Terrace Antelope
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 16, 2022 at 11:34 am

Terrace Antelope is a registered user.

@Me - Definitely not all the kids liked him. My kid most certainly did not like Mr Columbo, who verbally bullied him on a regular basis -- he constantly made fun of his apprearanace and lack of traditional athleticism. It was beyond unprofessional - it was mean. I came very close to reporting this to the school officials but we ultimately decided not to for fear of retribution.

In retrospect, Mr. Columbo seemed to be trying to build a strong rapport with the "cool kids" at the expense of the rest. There are many stories like this out there. Karma...


Posted by Forever Name
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2022 at 1:00 pm

Forever Name is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 16, 2022 at 3:12 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

Role of the public teachers’ union is being overlooked; perhaps some felt if they complained in real time, when he was a dues paying member here, the union would have defended him. He’s long gone now, I gather.
May have made it tough on the accuser going public back then?


Posted by Samuel L
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 16, 2022 at 4:44 pm

Samuel L is a registered user.

@Wait for the facts - OK, so, he just sexually assaulted one underage girl? Or are you just not believing a 30+-year-old woman who has nothing to gain by coming out at this time? I guess it's easier to side with a male PE teacher with known personal/mental problems and odd behavior around school-aged kids.
PAUSD has had way more than its share of teachers/staff that ended up admitting to/convicted of inappropriate contact with minors. Not even making the list was a former Hays Kids Club employee who Don Austin claims his employment information was inaccurate. The district says he only worked from 2017-18. He was there in the early 2000's for several years. I used to see him there every day back when my kids were there.
Web Link
Why are there so many pedos within PAUSD?


Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2022 at 7:15 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Bystander - There's a big difference between volunteering for free and working a paid position (Head coach - Paly). If you're willing to work a paid position for free, that IS a red flag.

Why are there so many pedophiles in PAUSD? Because there are children in PAUSD, and that's what they're attracted to. Anywhere children are, they're getting paid or volunteering. As parents we have to watch out for them.

She has nothing to gain for coming forward. She came forward for a reason, and I believe her.


Posted by Samuel L
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 16, 2022 at 7:39 pm

Samuel L is a registered user.

@ Jennifer - Yes, there are kids in PAUSD. There are also kids in every other school district. How about when the school does their WASC reports, or PiE sends out their comparison of PAUSD to other high achieving districts, they include a comparison of the number of staff members convicted of sexual assault?


Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2022 at 8:48 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Samuel L - I understand your point. Unfortunately, a lot of these men have never been arrested or convicted. They fly under the radar, and enablers make excuses for them. They're in denial. Our kids were attending school(s) in Palo Alto at the time, so I understand the frustration and anger.


Posted by Lemon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 16, 2022 at 9:12 pm

Lemon is a registered user.

I know this guy he was my teacher. he was a weirdo and allways yelled random things. ive always been scared of him and hated him. not suprised about this. its scary that this could of happened to me. [Portion removed.]


Posted by Byron
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2022 at 9:43 pm

Byron is a registered user.

He will get a plea offer for six months jail time and half time and be out in 3 months. That is a slap in the face of all “victims”.


Posted by Infuriating!
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 16, 2022 at 10:39 pm

Infuriating! is a registered user.

@terrace antelope. Agree. The kids knew what he was known for. My daughter and her friends referred to him as the molester. They knew off how he treated the girls in his class without having any direct abuses in their friend group. They are rising sophomores at Paly and not One was shocked. Not one. They knew which teacher it was before he was named. There is another [portion removed] teacher at Paly they say is exactly the same way and wonder constantly when their voices will be heard.


Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 17, 2022 at 8:55 am

Michele Dauber is a registered user.

Palo Alto parents have a long and shameful history of being on the wrong side when teachers and coaches are accused of sexual abuse, even if they are later criminally charged and even convicted. This occurred in both the Giordano and Airo cases, with parents linking arms with abusers against victims. Who can forget the disturbing spectacle of Ohlone parents defending Mike Airo. Will this community do better this time? Based on the past, probably not.






Posted by Concerned
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2022 at 12:50 pm

Concerned is a registered user.

Been waiting for this day. Absolutely NO surprise. He openly made repeated comments to specific targeted middle school female students, in front of another teacher.
And blatantly sexualized looks at girls in swim class. And more.
I tried to figure out what to do. But school administration culture was not receptive to any feedback, period, about anything at all, so just had no options.
And since at least one of his comments was made in the immediate presence of another Jordan teacher, there was just a feeling of helplessness because it seemed like teacher predatory behavior was accepted at Jordan.
No kidding---every time I heard about an arrest of a PAUSD teacher, I expected to see his name. His behavior was egregious and open and well-known---at least well-known among the 12 year-old and 13 year-old female students who were his targets.


Posted by Parent/Teacher
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Jun 17, 2022 at 3:00 pm

Parent/Teacher is a registered user.

My daughter had him during the shut down, and the stuff he said was not o.k. NO ONE is surprised. I would go into her room after and explain why it wasn't o.k. what he was saying. Kids don't say anything because it is their teacher, and they don't want to "get in trouble" for saying something. He may have been "cool" to the "cool" kids, but that doesn't give him the right to say sexist, sometimes, sexual things to kids. He said it even on Zoom. I heard it. What one of the posters said is true and taught in our trainings to all educators - that most sexual predators gain trust and admiration from a lot of their community. That is how they get away with it for so long.


Posted by Michelle
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 17, 2022 at 3:23 pm

Michelle is a registered user.

FYI - Here is a link on how to make a complaint to PAUSD in relation to sexual harassment whether recent or in the past, related to the current case, other incidents or a culture of teachers turning a blind eye to incidents of sexual harassment by staff or peers. The district cannot respond to anonymous complaints on here but they have to respond if you contact them directly (and you can do so anonymously). I hope people do so as well as obviously contacting the police directly if related to the criminal allegations against Mr. Colombo.

Web Link

Kelly Gallagher - Interim Title IX Coordinator
Palo Alto Unified School District
25 Churchill Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 833-4248
[email protected]

You can also contact reach out to the superintendent directly [email protected] or school board trustees [email protected]


Posted by Samuel L
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 17, 2022 at 9:02 pm

Samuel L is a registered user.

@Michelle Dauber - I agree with your points. However, to blame the parents for protecting the teachers is a bit short-sighted. Especially for someone whose husband is in his second term on the school board and is currently the board president.

What has PAUSD done to get rid of these types of teachers/staff members/administrators? Look at the comments on this thread. It is not a shock that Columbo has been accused and there are more teachers in the schools that are similarly unfit to be educating our students. What are Ken Dauber and his fellow board members doing to ensure the safety of our students?

Ken Dauber et al, are also responsible for hiring Don Austin who has done nothing but try to push bad press into the bushes where no one will be aware of what is really happening within PAUSD. Read the school papers and listen to the students and it is painfully obvious that the students do not feel comfortable reporting incidents because they know that the administration will either not take them seriously or bully them into dropping any complaint.

Your husband is the president of the board, a board that uses lawyers to intimidate victims and protect their staff at all costs. What has Ken Dauber done to improve the reporting process or the staff disciplinary process.

Next Tuesday, your husband and the board will once again be extending Don Austin's contract. If the board were truly concerned about students and their safety, why aren't they doing something about it?

Go to the PAUSD website and look at how well they have now hidden things such as how to file a complaint, the UCP log, etc...

Read Don Austin's comments when students complained last year or the year before when there were several students known to have raped/assaulted other students. He essentially said, "hey, most of those were just harassment"

This district has a horrendous record when it comes to sexual misconduct, both by staff and students. Your husband holds a large part of that blame.


Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 17, 2022 at 10:45 pm

Michele Dauber is a registered user.

The facts underlying these allegations predate the tenure of the people you are ranting about. You obviously have a different axe to grind with Austin and the board and are using this survivor's pain to do it. [Portion removed.]

Where this board or district has deserved criticism for its handling of sexual abuse, Ken and I have both stood up for the rights of survivors, publicly using our own names. I have no interest in whatever it is you are trying to do here.


Posted by Samuel L
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 18, 2022 at 8:19 am

Samuel L is a registered user.

@ Michelle Dauber: There have been many cases at PAUSD that have occurred while Ken Dauber has been at PAUSD. What has he (and the rest of the board) done to root out those people. Talk to a handful of students and you'll get a few names of teachers that make them feel uncomfortable with their inappropriate language, leering, touching, etc...

Ken stands up for survivors? Since when? What has he done during his tenure to improve the system for survivors? If he does, then why do students still say they don't trust the administration at the school or the district to be on their side or believe them when they or a friend are assaulted?

Seriously, what formative changes has he made to the PAUSD process to make things easier on the survivor? How many survivors who have reported sexual assault to the district has Ken personally contacted and listened to their story? How many has he apologized to for how the district has treated them? I would bet that he simply turns the report over to the Title IX office and lets the lawyers take over. The district and their lawyers will do everything they can to drag out the process which makes it harder on the survivors until the survivors eventually are forced to sue or simply give up. If they sue, the district will NEVER admit any wrongdoing.

Is that what you mean when you say that Ken stands up for survivors?

[Portion removed.]


Posted by TJ Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 18, 2022 at 11:17 am

TJ Martin is a registered user.

FWIW, Samuel L, you do come across as someone with an axe to grind.

Back to the subject at hand, we probably all can do better to help ensure that these type of incidents (or alleged incidents - it's still innocent until proven guilty in this country) do not occur within our school district. And it starts with creating the proper environment - for teacher conduct, for student comfort about raising issues/concerns, and for parent interaction/participation on same.

Anyway, this is an awful story.


Posted by Paly02
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 18, 2022 at 11:26 pm

Paly02 is a registered user.

If we could do this over again, what would you wish for the teachers, principals, and administrative assistants to do? I imagine they did whatever they needed to do to avoid lawsuits for the school, but.... as for the victims, what could they have done?


Posted by Anony Mouse
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 19, 2022 at 9:30 pm

Anony Mouse is a registered user.

I think some of you are dismissing @samuel a bit too readily. Although the tone of the post may have a bit too much personal attack to it, there is a relevant grain of truth. This is a terrible tragedy, and it does bear some introspection about the health of PAUSD as an institution. Does it have a culture that is willing to face difficult problems like harrassment and abuse in a healthy way? How do people below the top 3-4 admins understand their roles? In an environment that is relentlessly about the positive spin and career advancement of the top person, how does a middle manager approach the judgement calls around a case such as this? I would argue that most middle managers in PAUSD - when faced with cases similar to this, or even ones that are more ambigiuous - will feel a conflict that may cause unwanted outcomes. It's not clear from the outside that PAUSD is an institution that is ready to go to bat for victims because of this inherent conflict. What's a middle manager to do? Bring the boss the bad news? Or, more expediently, find ways to shade the situation and make it go away. I worry about this institution, and I'm concerned where it's headed.


Posted by Evergreen Park Observer
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 21, 2022 at 10:33 am

Evergreen Park Observer is a registered user.

My daughter was a student at Jordan Middle School during the early 2000s when Mr. Colombo was on the staff/worked at Jordan Middle School. Mr. Giordano, who was convicted of sexual assault, was there as well. I can tell you that complaining to the Jordan principal or the assistant principal would have done no good, and would have resulted in blaming the victim. When we had an issue with a teacher, the administration circled the wagon and defended the indefensible. One staff member suggested that my daughter suggested that my daughter was at fault for an incompetent and bullying teacher because she might be trying to gain attention of boys . . . I was flabbergasted. After our complaints, she was targeted by that and other teachers who were his friends. Thankfully, there were other teachers who did not buy into that and provided a safe harbor for her. There was a culture at Jordan that anything a teacher did was just fine and must be defended against "those" Palo Alto parents. I suspect they also would not have moved against an accused teacher who was so popular with the 'cool' boys. Jordan was the worst experience in the PA schools for us.


Posted by Terrace Antelope
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 21, 2022 at 1:02 pm

Terrace Antelope is a registered user.

@Samuel, You raise a really important point. Maybe a big lesson to be learned here is that simply SAYING you are on the survivor/victim's side and will put the students first if just not enough. The evidence shows this falls short. A big reason why these bad apples aren't found until it's too late is fear of retribution. I mentioned above this is why we didn't say anything. PAUSD need to find a way to proactively and anonymously (through broad outreach to help preserve the anonymity in #s) poll students for who makes them uncormfortable.

This will take time and effort, but this is what I as a parent think is required to truly show you CARE about finding the bad apples.


Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 21, 2022 at 5:10 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

@EPO and Terrance: Exactly the issue I'm talking about. Michelle Dauber wants to blame the parents. In her post she wrote, " Palo Alto parents have a long and shameful history of being on the wrong side when teachers and coaches are accused of sexual abuse, even if they are later criminally charged and even convicted."

Are you kidding me? How's the PAUSD administration's history? Again, what has Ken Dauber and the others done to make changes? Real changes? The students are not seeing any changes. The culture needs to change and that means the district needs to be on the side of the survivor and not continue to hide behind their lawyers and intimidate the survivor and their families.

Why are teachers known to be inappropriate with students still employed by PAUSD?


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 21, 2022 at 5:12 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

Why would this district be and different from any other one!?
All I can suggest is to have checks and balances, maybe team teaching in some circumstances like P.E.?
I do not see this as fault of PAUSD board members, obviously they don’t condone this and they cannot micro-manage all teacher/staff/student/parent interactions. Sheesh.
That said, back some decades ago, when I was a student doing “school service” (helping one period in middle and Gunn main offices, a good experience), I never heard of any hint of any sexual misconduct….and later when my kids attended other PAUSD schools I was aware of…. Mr. C and Mr. G and another two male teachers at Paly apparently were with these issues……(2001-2007 era), very concerning.


Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 21, 2022 at 8:06 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

@Anonymous- the board sets the culture. If you were aware of 4 teachers with "issues" did you mention it to anyone? If you were aware, then other teachers were certainly aware. Why was nothing done? Were teachers hesitant to report? What about site admin? Did they handle it "internally"?

Boarded d doesn't need to micro manage if the overarching message is that the behavior will not be tolerated and neither will not reporting it. Pretty simple. See something, say something.

PAUSD has a long history of sweeping things under the rug to protect their people and their reputation with little to no concern for students.

Your statements only solidify the proof of how the district operates.


Posted by S. Underwood
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 22, 2022 at 8:40 am

S. Underwood is a registered user.

Someone volunteering to work with kids is itself a "red flag" for an abuser?

That comment is shocking. Careless and snarky insinuation. Flippant and poor reasoning. So insulting to the thousands of Palo Alto adults who volunteer in capacities large and small working with kids to improve their lives and our community.

This issue is deadly serious and needs to be treated as such. With thoughtful and careful adults committed to high standards of justice, communication, care, sublety, and integrity. Or, we can say in a public comment forum that because he volunteered he's probably guilty. I think we can do better.


Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 27, 2022 at 8:21 am

Michele Dauber is a registered user.

A district employee who is suddenly willing to work a paid position (head coach) for free is in my view a red flag. Maybe he can be in the cell next to Mike Airo and they can talk about how much they both loved children.


Posted by Roger Dodger
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2022 at 9:21 pm

Roger Dodger is a registered user.

For all this talk of axes to grind, one can't help but wonder what would lead a Stanford Law School professor to so blatantly toss the presumption of innocence (a bedrock of the rule of law, or what's left of it anyway) out the window and willingly participate in a trial and consummate conviction, sans evidence and by media showcase, of a man accused of a serious crime, the details of which are completely opaque at this point .

Just sayin'...


Posted by Amy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 28, 2022 at 4:16 pm

Amy is a registered user.

Michelle Dauber [portion removed]: You are speaking like you have never heard of innocent until proven guilty. And on another note you are so out of it to not know that PAUSD has tons of volunteers to make things happen-some parents support the schools so much it’s like a full time job, the hourly for parents who get “hired” by the city to run the Green Track team is something like $14/hr! It’s bananas. It’s essentially a volunteer job. And not sure if most people know a top tier football coach for Paly makes around $5000 for a three moth SEASON total. For a teacher to “volunteer” is not far off from being paid for giving their time to improve sports or other after school enrichment activities. Instead of doubting someone’s character for volunteering I think people should applaud them. [Portion removed.]


Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jun 28, 2022 at 8:29 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Michele Dauber is spot on. If you're willing to work a PAID position for free, that IS a red flag. You have an ulterior motive - access to children. Nobody said volunteering with kids is a red flag even though pedophiles do it all the time. So do parents.

You're innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but you're only really innocent if you didn't do it. We're not sworn in jurors. Thankfully, some of us aren't naive. They get away with these crimes because some people are too trusting.


Posted by Amy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 28, 2022 at 9:14 pm

Amy is a registered user.

@Jennifer Again I am not commenting on whether Mr Columbo is innocent or guilty I have absolutely no idea. What I do know, is that simply because a small minority of people in our society are people that volunteer with kids for sinister reasons, this does not mean you immediately point to someone’s volunteering as a sign of being guilty. If the status quo is now that working for more hours than you are paid for, is immediately considered a sign of pedophelia, then all teachers are suspicious-most teachers and coaches give many more hours of their day to students than they are paid for. It’s a dangerous slippery slope. I am not naive to how pedophiles engage with kids in seemingly benign ways. I have personal experience with this issue. Believe me we need to protect our kids. But the answer is not to have a knee jerk reaction that because Mr Columbo worked for free, that by default he is guilty. Wow.


Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2022 at 7:15 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

Nobody said he's guilty because he worked for free. We're saying working a paid position for free is a RED FLAG. A red flag is a warning of danger, not a conviction. Commenters are allowed to disagree with you.


Posted by Amy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 29, 2022 at 7:29 am

Amy is a registered user.

@Jennifer You keep saying it’s a huge issue that he volunteered for a PAID position. I really don’t see how that’s relevant. I guess even that much more generous with his time, had exceeded the hours at the district for pay grade ? Who knows the specific circumstances. Again I don’t think you have a clear idea of what kind of volunteerism floats this school district both by teachers and parents. Volunteering is now a suspicious act. Yeah Jennifer people can disagree with me and they will. This is a serious case. Leave it at that.


Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 29, 2022 at 10:56 am

Samuel L. is a registered user.

The RED FLAG is that people knew he was off, made inappropriate comments and female students thought he was "creepy". He had to leave the district for a couple years due to "personal issues"

The school and district staff/administration chose to ignore those red flags.

Plenty of people volunteer when they could be getting paid. Maybe that at least raises a concern. His actual actions were red flags.

If men volunteering at schools is a red flag, then the district needs to cull through all of the volunteer coaches in the sports programs. After that, go through the women. Then go through all of the volunteer aides, the Dreamcatchers program, etc...

Maybe a better solution would be to change the culture of the district. But that would mean changes to the board, the administration at the district and encouraging staff to do the right thing. I doubt the leadership is capable of the heavy lifting. They're better at self congratulations and telling everyone how great they're doing.


Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2022 at 11:12 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

Once again, no one is saying volunteering is a red flag. Working for FREE in a PAID position is. If any of us told our boss we're willing to work for free -- keep my paycheck, it would raise suspicion. There are paid positions and volunteer positions. There were a lot of red flags that enablers ignored.

I'm familiar with PAUSD volunteerism. I was a volunteer when our kids were in school in Palo Alto. Our daughter was at Jordan when Colombo was there.

IMO, the reason red flags are ignored is denial.


Posted by Amy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 29, 2022 at 1:45 pm

Amy is a registered user.

Jennifer
I think we share the same concern for the safety of school children. I just take issue with the pronouncement of the volunteering being a blanket red flag. I am parent of PAUSD students who recently graduated from Green and still in the district.


Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 29, 2022 at 2:58 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

@Jennifer- Funding for school sports is dismal as @Amy pointed out. Every team could use additional coaches. It would not be odd for a coach to turn down their stipend so that an additional coach could get paid who needs the money. To some, especially in the "glamor" sports like football, being a coach is considered as a status symbol.

That doesn't change my perspective of Colombo, but I'm not going to paint all volunteers who turned down money as pedophiles.

If Michelle Dauber is so adamant of her belief then she should be pushing her husband to make a change to district policy.

Come to think of it, I think there were some board members who offered to give up their stipends to save the school money several years ago. Todd Collins was one of them. Is that a red flag? He definitely has access and influence over children.


Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2022 at 3:31 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Perhaps not every man that is willing to work a paid position for free is a pedophile, but I'm well aware that pedophiles/child molesters will do anything to have access to children, including working around children for free. They pretend to "love children."

IMO, it's odd for anyone to turn down money for a paid position. He's not turning down a stipend so another coach can get paid. He's doing it to have ACCESS TO CHILDREN.

And you wonder why so many kids are molested. Making excuses for these men is pathetic, and too many people don't recognize the red flags of a child molester.

Wise up.


Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 29, 2022 at 5:23 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

Excuses? Not making excuses. But there exists a world of people who like to give back without wanting to molest a child.

I encourage you to let your thoughts known to the school board so that they start paying more attention to whom they hire for these positions. Currently, the head coaches pretty much can hire whoever they want as long as that person passes a basic background check. Even then, I'm sure there are many that work w the students without a background check.


Posted by Wait for the Facts but...
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2022 at 10:58 am

Wait for the Facts but... is a registered user.

[Portion removed.] Do not assume without all the facts. We don't know why she is accusing, but the facts will come out, and I hope @ Samuel will be just as vocal when they do.

It's honestly scary to read what is on this thread. Happy to be living in a country who doesn't allow "mob rule" to be judge, jury. and executioner.


Posted by Sterling
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 12, 2022 at 10:35 pm

Sterling is a registered user.

Jennifer:

I signed up just to respond to your absurd allegation that folks who volunteer in positions that could be paid.

I have voluntarily coached girls middle school basketball for nearly 25 seasons now. The available salary is very small--minimum wage--but I'm happy to volunteer out of love of the game, and of a desire for new players--especially new girl players--to have a good experience. The schools almost never have enough coaches, and I'm happy for the budget to go elsewhere. I'm lucky enough that my day job both allows me to do this and makes it so that 1.5-hours a day at minimum wage twelve weeks a year doesn't make a material difference in my life.

Further, over the years I have known a half-dozen other coaches in similar situations. Volunteering to coach as a parent of a player, and then continuing a few additional seasons just to help out.

We go through all the usual background checks, every single year.

With all due respect, you have no idea what you are talking about. Without the folks who do this, the Middle School Athletics program would struggle mightily.

I guess, I _could_ take the money, if that would throw off your horribly misplaced suspicion.

What happened here was a tragedy, and I greatly hope the victim gets whatever help she needs, and the perp is brought to justice.

But volunteering had absolutely nothing to do with it, and is an insult to those of us who give our time so that our schools can be a better place.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Arya Steakhouse, a standby for steaks and Persian cuisine, moves to downtown Palo Alto
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 2,926 views

“To get the full value of joy . . .
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,179 views

We need an audit of city spending
By Diana Diamond | 0 comments | 969 views

 

Register today to support local nonprofits

The 38th annual Moonlight Run and Walk is Friday evening, September 9. Proceeds go to the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, benefiting local nonprofits that serve families and children in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Join us under the light of the full Harvest Moon on a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon. Complete your race in person or virtually to support local nonprofits.

Register Now!