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Parents hold vigil as district revises policy on bullying

Original post made on Feb 12, 2013

About two dozen parents and children from the Palo Alto school district stood in a candlelight vigil Monday night, calling for stronger policies to address bullying. School officials have been analyzing survey data on bullying, the results of which will be presented tonight, Tuesday, Feb. 12, to the Board of Education.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, February 12, 2013, 9:50 AM

Comments (23)

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Posted by Mary Vincent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2013 at 10:21 am

I attended the vigil last night and was glad to see Dr. Skelly there talking to parents and students.

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Posted by 3cpo
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Well... I went to the vigil too and I was wondering why he wouldn't approach the group of parents, at least he manage to talked to the people who approached him. He looked good for the camera though.

I rally hope this bullying issue gets the proper attention from people who have the power to do something.

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Posted by Sheesh
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 12, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Skelly was doing what he does best - talk, no action.

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Posted by Mohammed Jacob Israeli
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 12, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Skelly needs to be courageous enough and step down and lets someone else tackle the prevalent bullying in Palo Alto schools.

I am sick and tired of PAUSD policy of siding with the bully and blaming the victim.

I an not just bluffing, I am talking from experience where the principal blamed my daughter for defending herself against couple of bullies.

It was MY advice to her that if they bully her again, she should defend herself by any means necessary and she did and now the bullies are leaving her alone.

The result, the principal suspender her for one day and the bully was not. Don't you all love the PAUSD?

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Posted by Sheesh
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 12, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Mohammed: It is a shame that our students can't defend themselves. I just tell my kids to defend themselves if they must, even if they risk suspension. It's not good for a child's self-esteem to have to be a doormat. I don't advise this for high school students, however because the colleges can find out. When we lived out-of-state, the principal didn't help us (we are minorities amongst Caucasians) so I had to tell my elementary/preschool children to fight back. My son shoved a child against the lockers and the other child apologized for 4 days and the group never bothered him again. Sometimes, as in your situation, physical force is necessary as a last resort.

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Posted by Kim S.
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2013 at 1:25 pm

The schools should be turning to the parents of these bullies with escalating suspensions. Our schools can't be held completely responsible for this problem, it needs to start at home.

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Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 12, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Having your children resort to violent self-help to escape from bullying is a sign that our district has failed leadership, failed oversight, failed or nonexistent policies, and no accountability. If your child attends a school -- a wealthy, suburban, well-funded, high-achieving school with resources literally to spare [we currently have a budget surplus] and yet you are telling them that they have to fight to defend themselves like they are in a bad prison movie from the 1970s then it is past time to get new leadership.

While it may be a small proportion of students who are being bullied, the fact that they are disproportionately disabled is pitiful and immoral as well as illegal.

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Posted by Cheese is Rice
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 12, 2013 at 2:28 pm

I was there, too, and noticed that Skelly was stand-offish and not volunteering anything. The papers today mentioned only one child being bullied. We all no there are far more, and that many kids in a self-written survey will not admit to being bullied. Parents are often the last to know.

The subject of the child who committed suicide because of bullying should have been brought up, too.

Nor did anyone bring up the subject of Asian middle school boys harassing Caucasian middle school girls with fair coloring.

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Posted by anon
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 12, 2013 at 2:45 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Smarting
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2013 at 3:10 pm

I am sick of Skelly's hypocrisy. He withheld this information from the School Board and now wants to look like he's doing something about it.

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Posted by Interesting Note
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 12, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Skelly was greeted by kids who went up and told them about how they were bullied. He changed the subject and asked them about their favorite teacher.

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Posted by Let's do Something
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 12, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Dr. Skelly is treat at posing for pictures. I wish he was this good at dealing with student's emotional issues. He should be a model. Besides he is handsome.

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Posted by Let's do Something
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 12, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Sorry I mend to say he is "great". Just making it clear.

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Posted by Gunn alumni
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 12, 2013 at 5:20 pm

I was one of the attendees at the vigil last night and I noticed that Kevin smelly did not interact with the parents, only with the studies who were present.

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Posted by Gunn alumni
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 12, 2013 at 5:24 pm

I apologize, I made a mistake, my phone put smelly instead of Skelly. I never mean to do it, but my phone has auto correction.

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Posted by Cheese is Rice
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 12, 2013 at 6:19 pm

I have known kids who were suspended for three days even though they were physically bullied and did NOTHING to defend themselves! The current policy is so unfair and harmful to the victim!

I hope to heaven that Kevin Skelly and PAUSD are investigated by the US Dept of Education, and that Skelly loses his job as a result. He is basically useless.

Anyone there last night could see that he cannot relate to adults.

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2013 at 6:49 pm

I don't understand how the survey has anything to do with bullying. We feel safe here in Palo Alto, AND my child was bullied for years in elementary school by kids who were notorious bullies, despite numerous complaints to school officials. I taught my child to stand up but the bullying was mainly social and verbal.

Anyway, if someone asked me if I felt safe, generally, I'd say yes. But if you asked me specifically do I feel connected to our school this year (no), have I felt unsafe for my child because of bullying at times in previous years (yes), do I feel my sense of safety is due to district policies or responsiveness (no), it paints a different picture.

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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 12, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Years ago I knew a boy who was bullied when he entered high school. Nothing was done about it (it was just accepted then) so his dad advised him to punch the bully, hard. He did, and was never bothered by anyone again. Too bad it still must come to that today--just disgraceful.

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Posted by Silly
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 12, 2013 at 9:28 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Let's do Something
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 13, 2013 at 1:25 am

This an old posting that a mother put a while ago. In it she expresses her frustration with the bullying of her young son. She had few comments, no one pay much attention because no one could believe that this goes on in this excellent schools. We need to change our minds about that. Parents and children are experiencing it but their hands are tight, as they do not get listened. School officials do not see do not hear, and do not feel. For them victims of bullying are invincible, along with their parents. Here is a cut and paste that I got from Palo Alto On Line"
Fed up with bullying/taunting in school
Schools & Kids, posted by pa parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Nov 15, 2011 at 1:51 am

I am getting so fed up by the bullying and taunting in our elementary school, and it's mostly older boys forming cliques and picking on the younger ones (who wouldn't even be so alone in being younger if it weren't for this fad of holding kids back -- and please don't flame me because your child is the one or two who actually needed it, you know what I'm talking about).

It's gotten worse for my child as friends have been pulled out and moved away in part because of how bad the social environment is getting. School administration is reactive about it at best, and that's more generous an assessment than I hear from other moms. Everyone has been working on the kids getting bullied and doing nothing about the bullies and those creating the hurtful environment. No one is facing the fact that they've never had to deal with such an age/developmental skew before.

Can all of you moms who held back (redshirted) your boys to give them an advantage, and all of you moms whose boys were born at the start of the year and cliquing up with the redshirted ones and taunting, degrading, excluding, and picking on the younger ones, please take some responsibility for teaching your child empathy and a sense of responsibility for how they treat others? (And yes, YOUR little angel is one of them.) The age difference does make a difference, that's why you held your child back. But you weren't the only one; please take some responsibility for mitigating the damage to other children by the age-stilted classrooms you were responsible for creating.

The district won't let people send their kids a day early, and yet they'll let them regularly hold them out as long as they wish, so that the age distribution is so unnaturally skewed now -- and the natural developmental differences are then held against the younger ones in virtually every way. I don't know why the district doesn't set a policy on holding kids back, so that only the ones who need it are and the age distribution levels out again.

I'm so fed up, I don't feel like donating to PiE and working on fundraisers anymore. Why work so hard for these families whose kids who are making my kid's life hell? I could be using my money for a math tutor instead of trying to teach math outside of school, since the lousy new curriculum doesn't seem to actually be teaching math (and my child is unchallenged and bored, STILL).

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Posted by Radar
a resident of another community
on Feb 13, 2013 at 7:50 am

Funny that everyone blames PAUSD and no one blames bad parentingXV

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Posted by sara
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 13, 2013 at 11:49 am

1. Skelly hid all of this while his contract was up - in light of his cover up can his contract be immediately voided?

2. Skelly hid this during a school board election - if the public knew about this, the school board election might have come out very differently - and I believe it would have - and I believe more people might have stepped forward to run. Can the election be recalled?

3. I understand that because this is now part of the public record, real estate agents will have to disclose it to potential home buyers.... is this true.... and if it is... then WOW

4. Why hasn't the school board held an emergency meeting and placed Skelly on administrative leave?

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Posted by norahs
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2013 at 12:53 pm

norahs is a registered user.

Let's - Interesting rep-post about redshirting the boys. I don't think this trend is limited to our district, but when we were transferring our November-born son into PAUSD we were encouraged to hold him back a year and place him in 1st grade. However, at the urging of his teacher from the prior school, and after the school administrators saw his work, he was placed in 2nd grade as one of the youngest in his class. I have continued to question that decision ever since. The bullying began in fourth grade, from both boys and girls, and yes, teachers too. When reported, the fault was often assigned to the one being bullied for either not staying away from the bully, or for reacting to the bully - as others have reported here. And the bullies? They are often the good looking, the athletic, the popular, and ones who often behaves angelic toward adults but shows a different face to peers who have less clout.

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