Paly Principal Jacquie McEvoy to resign June 30

Palo Alto High School Principal Jacquie McEvoy will resign her position effective June 30, Superintendent Kevin Skelly said Friday.

McEvoy, who joined Paly in 2007 after seven years as principal of San Mateo High School, "has decided to resign for personal reasons," Skelly said.

In a message to the Paly community, McEvoy said she was announcing her plans to leave "with a bittersweet heart."

She noted her pride in the accomplishments of Paly's faculty, parents and students.

McEvoy recently had been criticized by some parents -- and the district threatened with a lawsuit -- over her "punitive" discipline style in issuing suspensions following an Oct. 27 egg fight between Paly juniors and seniors.

The egg fight occurred on the Gunn High School campus, causing damage to new sports facilities at Gunn and sparking a $3,200 professional cleanup. Students spontaneously held their annual fight at Gunn after being shooed away from a Stanford eucalyptus grove by Stanford police. McEvoy said after receiving complaints from Stanford after last year's egg fight that she had alerted Stanford when she heard that another one was about to occur.

McEvoy quickly reduced her initial five-day suspensions to one-day suspensions, and said she would expunge them entirely if students stay on good behavior for the rest of the year.

Palo Alto lawyer William D. Ross threatened the Board of Education with a lawsuit if it fails to expunge the suspensions immediately, saying the discipline record would unfairly interfere with students' ability to win athletic scholarships.

Skelly thanked McEvoy for her leadership at Paly.

"Under Dr. McEvoy's leadership, numerous measures of school success improved, including California Standards Test results, SAT scores, and Advanced Placement test participation," Skelly said.

"Dr. McEvoy also led the school through a successful accreditation process and the completion of the school's master plan for facility improvements.

"I want to thank Jacquie for all her efforts on behalf of PAUSD children, youth and families over the last two and a half years and wish her the best in her future endeavors," he said.

"We will immediately begin a search for her replacement, and will update staff, students, parents and the community as we progress," Skelly added.

McEvoy said she was announcing her June 30 departure now in order to leave time for the school to search for a new principal.

"Palo Alto High School has constantly pushed for excellence, whether that means aligning our program offerings, supporting every student, ensuring equity, or taking on whatever else must be done to help our students thrive," she said in her message to Paly families.

"We can all be proud of this work. I know I am."

McEvoy could not be reached for further comment.

Related material:

Palo Alto High principal reflects on 'egg wars' (Posted Nov. 16, 2009)

New Palo Alto High principal selected (Posted June 11, 2007)


Posted by parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 22, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Aren't principals tenure-reviewed after 3 years?

Posted by Anon., a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 22, 2010 at 4:56 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff].

Posted by parent, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 22, 2010 at 5:00 pm

who hired the lawyer? a paly parent? hey kids, here's the lesson: if you commit a crime---which is to vandalize school property, then don't worry your parents will hire a lawyer & bail you out.

y'know, if you were worried about a scholarship maybe you shouldn't be committing crimes?

i hope mcevoy is not leaving due to pressure over how she handled the egg fight...she seems to have been the only reasonable person on this issue.

Posted by No Tenure, a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Parent, Administrators don't have tenure.

Posted by A Palo Alto parent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 22, 2010 at 5:12 pm

It looks like she would have been up for tenure this year as a teacher. Administrators who aren't credentialed teachers are simply on continual probation.

Web Link

Posted by An ex Paly Parent, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 22, 2010 at 5:20 pm

The issue is not punishment or no punishment. It is, rather, what is the appropriate punishment. Some of these kids have never been in trouble before, are good students, etc. They simply showed bad judgment in one instance. Suspending them is like issuing the death penalty for jaywalking. Suspension,i.e., taking kids out of school and ruining their chances for college, should not be the first punishment in one's mind. Wouldn't having to pay for the damage, detention after school for some period of time, community service on several Saturdays be more appropriate punishment? Surely one of the great causes of stress for students these days is that they are never allowed to make even one mistake. How many of us made a few along the way and were given the chance to learn from them and are better for it?

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 22, 2010 at 5:22 pm

There is something really wrong here. I am just guessing but I imagine quitting right after a situation like this, and then saying it is for personal reasons is a stretch, like spending more time with family, or whatever.

Certainly it could be coincidental or true, but if I had to read something into it, I would have to say the principal, is controlled by powerful political interests beyond the ability of her to even discuss or complain about. Certainly the suspensions of kids doing wrong is within the parameters of her power as she sees fit to do her job. The idea that this should become a legal issue and who is behind that really makes me sick ... but of course I am just guessing.

Kind of ironic because, In high school, at Paly, I never thought I would ever be supportive of a principal. If we want people in authority that have integrity instead of what we seem to have all the way up the federal government level, then we should complain about people only when they abuse their authority. In my opinion authority was abused to bring pressure to bear on a principal, and the perpetrators behind that action are unknown.

Real hard hitting journalism might bring its readers more information about who and what went on behind the scenes to force a person in authority to not do her job?

Posted by Alum and Current Parent, a resident of Addison School
on Jan 22, 2010 at 5:22 pm

I have liked Dr Jacquie McEvoy from the first time I met her when she joined the staff at Paly, and to date have not been disappointed with the way she has handled things. I am VERY sorry to see her leave, and even sorrier about the way many parents and students have treated her.

Thank you Jacquie for all that you have done and tried to do. I for one will miss you, but do hope you will find a more appreciative community in your next job. :o)

Posted by EJ, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2010 at 5:25 pm

To "parent" and "Anon" - I'm with you. How far off the mark is this lawyer in threatening a lawsuit? What kind of messages are we trying to send our kids?! "might interfere with students' ability to win athletic scholarships?" Really? Gee, that's so too bad. Maybe it's time some kids learned a LESSON; HELLO??!! Anon, your right; why doesn't he offer to host future egg fights at HIS home? Sometimes you have to wonder what has become of good old plain common sense...

Posted by Disgusted, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 22, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Although unpopular before the Egg War fiasco, it's too bad this is what shoved her out of office. Heavy weight lawyer parents threaten lawsuits and the district backs down? There are already too many brats who shirk responsibility because their parents can get their behavior excused. I've had kids go through Paly and not participate in freshman hazing, egg wars, and other obnoxious behavior. Bring in someone reasonable like Sandra Pearson, and let's hope the district will back up the new principal even if the decisions they make are unpopular.

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of Professorville
on Jan 22, 2010 at 5:27 pm

What color is the parachute?

Web Link

Posted by Observer, a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2010 at 5:27 pm

It's too bad the community disrespected the principal's authority to the point that she apparently was forced to resign.

Posted by A Palo Alto parent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 22, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I don't understand why the kids involved weren't charged with vandalism and that saw the end of it. If a student commits a crime, is convicted, and pays the price, then a school suspension on top of that would be double jeopardy. At this point it sounds like McEvoy was the jury and the judge of these kids, and there's been no due process or even a way to find out who the guilty parties were. It's all very muddled.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 22, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Ex Paly Parent:
>Some of these kids have never been in trouble before, are good students, etc. They simply showed bad judgment in one instance. Suspending them is like issuing the death penalty for jaywalking

You are saying two things here to try to make a point that is illogical and wrong.

The easier one to attack is the distortion that there is any comparison to the death penalty. The death penalty irreversibly kills someone, and jaywalking is trivial. Over $3,000 in damage is not trivial, and the penalty did not kill anyone nor was it out of scale with the bad-judgement. All crimes are bad judgement in some way, so every word in your comment was deceitful and hyperbolic.

I can understand your feeling that the principal was too tough. Maybe she was, maybe she was not, but it is her decision, and it was demonstrably not out of the bounds that a person in that job would make. She just tread on the wrong toes in doing her job, toes that were strong enough poltically to harrasss her into quitting ... if I could put it the way it looks to me.

This kind of abuse of power and corruption surely did not work for me or anyone I know any time in my life when I or others had lapses in judgement. A while back I got a $200.+ ticket because the police officer said my front wheel went into the bike lane ... and she just wanted to give me a ticket I guess. I guess if I had the right strings to pull it should have fixed that too. I guess I don't travel in the right circles in Palo Alto.

When justice only applies to those who have to submit to it and not to others who can just laugh it off, we all lose, and the system breaks down, and over time we get to where we do not even see clearly what is happening.

Posted by paly parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 22, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Free at last...thank god almighty we're free at last!!

Posted by Midtown Parent, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2010 at 5:45 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Actually, it sounds as though the high-profile nature of the egg thing was what pushed the situation over the top. Does anybody remember all of the parent postings from when this happened? From nice parents, not millionaires. Parents who don't believe in buying their kid's way out of things?

This is what I remember: The parents said that this principal had come into the Palo Alto school district with a distinct edge to her management of the students. Very little dialogue. Students were treated as though they were bad kids an in a probationary situation, and the principal never tried to talk with them and lay down rules in that fashion. With regard to this egg thing, apparently the principal didn't talk with the children and try to work out a solution. She just called the Stanford police beforehand so they were waiting for the kids.

Every good principal out there -- and good police officers, also, work to establish a community. Egg-throwing is a pretty darn harmless thing to do in today's world, filled with cutters, drug-takers, and kids who jump in front of trains. Hasn't that "tradition" been going on for decades? Why just cut it off at the knees?

It is a tradition of western cultural upbringing (and many other cultures as well) that we try to teach our young people to want to fit into groups. Every educational institution that I know of has some sort of silly thing that the students do together. Most of the executives I know have likewise done silly things together at offsites, in the name of "team-building."

I believe that in this paper, during the last discussion of this situation that I read frustrated parents talking about a principal who came to an area where kids work themselves to the bone and jump hurdles like mad. Where being a high school kid is pretty much a career nowadays. And she treated the children like a bunch of delinquents.

Call it a cultural disconnect.

Posted by Relieved, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 22, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Look this wasn't even primarily about Egg Wars. This woman was a terrible example as a leader. She was brusque and abrupt with people for no useful reason. My way or the highway. I dealt with her directly on many matters, and found her overbearing [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] She didn't have to be that way - but she chose that path. Some can dive deep into her psyche, but for me I will just say that she failed at the most basic level - [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] doing what is right for the community. You don't need to bow down to anyone, but you need at a minimum to be respectful of both tradition and past experience. She cared more about power than people. More about rules than students. That is a bad recipe in a town that can be outspoken.

There are other places where her style will be more well suited.

Posted by Relieved Parent, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 22, 2010 at 5:50 pm

This is a very positive development for Paly. Ever since she arrived, she has taken steps that have tried to normalize a diverse and special learning environment. I recall her first "improvement" lead to the resignation of the enactments teacher. Her departure is fed by her tenure, and not just events in the last 6 months. I look forward to a fresh start at Paly, and hope for a principal where most of the students, teachers and parents embrace. ... I agree with the celebration of "Free at Last!"

Posted by former Paly parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 22, 2010 at 5:58 pm

We're finished with Paly, but someone ought to check the student handbook that has rules in it for violations of conduct and punishments. I think this is clearly shared with all students each year.
I doubt there is a distinct listing for "egg wars" nonsense, though some parents stated their kids should have been warned away in advance from participating in them (!), but I may faintly recall some discussion of behavior and consequences. I am quite sure things like plagiarism are distinctly forbidden, though some have gotten away with that (famously like Paly student speaker at graduation 2008). Still, without firsthand experience, I believe I have read suspensions and consequences for student misbehavior DO occur at Paly, so one should expect evenhandedness and consistency of application.

Oh, I forgot, that's for those without access to high powered lawyers. Sorry, regular folks.

Dr. McEvoy struck me in our brief acquaintance as an experienced professional administrator who cared about a wide range of interests at Paly. She listened to a wide array of input and opinions. She attended certain functions where the previous principal had never expressed interest or support. This is a loss for the Paly community.

Posted by Jack, a resident of Monroe Park
on Jan 22, 2010 at 6:00 pm

This is eerily reminiscent of the attack on the proposed baseball coach. Powerful parents get involved, and make demands. The really interesting question is: WHO are the parents?

Palo Alto politics are controlled by an oligarchy of inside players. They hide behind lawyers and control of the local press. Several degrees of separation, and plausible deniability keep the real power brokers from facing the public scutiny.

Posted by former Paly parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 22, 2010 at 6:00 pm

What I meant was, vandalism of school property is likely clearly forbidden in the student handbook. Common sense kept a lot of Paly students from participating in "Egg Wars" anyway and those who broke the rules should face the consequences. I could care less if they have to report it on their applications.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 22, 2010 at 6:01 pm

the other anon said:
> Egg-throwing is a pretty darn harmless thing to do in today's world, filled with cutters, drug-takers, and kids who jump in front of trains.

I am really getting tired of this kind of illogic. I suppose the killings on EPA streets are pretty petty compared to 911 too. Do you have to be reminded to compare apples and apples, and to remember why there are laws against egg-throwing. You make it sound like a benefit.

I wonder how many others here are piling on because their kids are the problem, not the principal? The broad statements of supposed "fact" about what she was that are unproven, but people who it is unknown what kind of vendetta they have against this person. It's not enough for her to leave, they have to say she has no "honesty or integrity", "my way or the highway" ... listen to this stuff. Is that fair? If it is not fair when she is leaving, how much worse was it during the disagreement ... and what at the kids who learn these lessons going to be like in Palo Alto or wherever?

Anyway ... I am glad I am out of school for a long time now ... from what I read about all these political games it makes me ill, and now we see another "Newspeak" phrase coming at us .... " race to the top".

Posted by anon, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 22, 2010 at 6:02 pm

She started from day one trying to treat paly like a cookie cutter inner city school. Breathalizing every student at the dances, forcing out one of the schools most beloved teachers, Mr. McGovern and finally the way she handled the egg war interogation of students was threatening and demeaning. She sucked the community life right out of the school and was never in touch with the student body seemingly of her own valition.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 22, 2010 at 6:04 pm

> Jack, a resident of the Monroe Park neighborhood

I think you may be right Jack. Do you think there is anyway to dig out what really happened? I think if the country does not find a way to dig into what is going on at all levels there is not hope anything is going to get better, it just gets more confusing and chaotic, letting authority run roughshod over everyone and everything.

Posted by Sonny, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 22, 2010 at 6:05 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Phil1, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 23, 2010 at 7:28 am

Phil1 is a registered user.

I'm not sure what this means with respect to the egg-wars students' disciplinary records:

Does this mean that the students' disciplinary records won't be 'cleaned up' before they apply for scholarships?

Does this mean that their records were 'cleaned up', and she won't be a party to it?

...something else?

Posted by The Writer, a resident of University South
on Jan 23, 2010 at 3:06 pm

The Writer is a registered user.

I'm trying to understand the principal caper at Paly.

Dr. McEvoy resigned, although it's obvious she was forced out by the spineless superintendent, who was pressured by a small group of special parents and their well-paid lawyers.

The complaint seems to be that McEvoy disciplined some of our egg-throwing little darlings to whom the law doesn't apply.

Now, didn't the superintendent of schools, Skelly, say he was going to have someone investigate whether McEvoy and her administrators followed the law or the policies of the Education Code?

Where are the results of that study? Will they be made public?

Do we all believe that there are no consequences for lawlessness?

McEvoy performed exceptionally well, had greatness in her and was an asset to this community. It's too bad that the School Board and the superintendent didn't have the guts to support her.

Posted by Sergeydgr8, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 23, 2010 at 10:17 pm

Sergeydgr8 is a registered user.

Dr. McEvoy was a good principal, and I highly think that she shouldn't resign just because some parents think she acted "too harsh" on the students after the Egg Wars.

In fact, the students who participated in the egg wars were told numerous times that the event won't be tolerated and that they would be punished severely. Yet they participated. Dr. McEvoy's punishments were, in my opinion, totally fair.

Posted by Paly 08 grad, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 24, 2010 at 2:30 am

Paly 08 grad is a registered user.

Many of you act like Paly's principal's only job is to punish. I take it as given that you are not and have never been a Paly student. You probably aren't a parent of a Paly student, and if you are, you have no idea what your kids get up to. It's sad that you treat the fate of 1900 students as an excuse to show the Internet you're tougher than some children you've never met. Fortunately Principal McEvoy's bosses have discovered that she's as misinformed about the nature of her job as you are.

Posted by xacked, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 24, 2010 at 10:12 am

xacked is a registered user.

"Under Dr. McEvoy's leadership, numerous measures of school success improved, including California Standards Test results, SAT scores, and Advanced Placement test participation," Skelly said.

Dr Skelly I must what cost?

This hardly comes as a surprise, a week after she started her tumultuous journey at Paly, I knew she wouldn't last and frankly I offer my congratulations for managing to hang on for a third year. Part of what probably contributed to the extra year was the fact that parents were quite slow to realize her for who she was - not a bad person, but a bad fit for the community, someone who's strong armed tactics may have had the right intentions but backfired due to poor communication.

Fundamental disagreements, the student body being childish, call it whatever you want from whatever side. Truth is, she's not Pearson, she wasn't respected, and she's not a good fit for our community.

Her time here felt like having a substitute teach a class. Not that I have anything against ALL substitutes but their tactic is simply to coerce students with punishments to do what they want as opposed to reaching a mutual agreement.

I believe this experience should remind the community that the hiring process must be much more comprehensive and for those on the committee not to make the same mistake again and take a candidate at face value.

Posted by Capbreton, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 24, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Capbreton is a registered user.

As she was never able to make the distinction between the inner city kids of her past schools and the -- relatively -- coddled environment of Palo Alto she was a broken tool from Day One. I'm surprised she lasted as long as she did and her departure is a win-win for both sides.

Posted by Salty, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 24, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Salty is a registered user.

Correction: PAUSD does give tenure to administrators. Judith Barranti, who was principal of Fairmeadow a few years back was given tenure during her second year. I don't know how she fulfilled all those requirements for classroom observation and so on, but she was indeed given tenure.

In a spring 2009 issue of the Campanile, Paly's student newspaper, Dr. McEvoy was interviewed and said she was seeking tenure in the PAUSD. I don't believe it was granted to her, but she clearly saw the writing on the wall at that time, even before the whole egg war debacle.

Truth be told, the teaching staff in general didn't like her much, and it has far more influence on whether or not a principal stays at a school than the parents. If the teachers loved her she would still have her job, regardless of what the parents wanted.

Posted by Gunn Class of '67, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 25, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Gunn Class of '67 is a registered user.

Resigning was wise and honorable decision.

Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on Jan 25, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by js2547, a resident of another community
on Jan 25, 2010 at 7:11 pm

js2547 is a registered user.

Why can't Paly hold onto principals. Marilyn Cook stuck around 6 years but then Fred Dreier only did 2 years before going back to Shasta County, then Sandra Pearson came back for a year or two and then Scott Laurence was around for a few years before going to the D.O. and now McEvoy after 3 years. Many high acheiving high schools hold on to their principals for a while (for example in the Acalanes districts, principals regulary serve 5 and up to 10 or more years). Paly has not had that kind of stability in more than a decade. Time to shape up and get the right person for the job.

Posted by Paly Student, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 26, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Paly Student is a registered user.

To all of the parents who think that McEvoy was a good principal whom we rich, spoiled Palo Alto kids bullied out of a job, there is a lot you don't understand. She did in fact handle the egg war punishments incorrectly- her assistants interrogated students individually, resorting to looking through students phones for incriminating evidence and making several students cry. The punishments, while harsh, aren't what the lawsuits are about- rather, they largely relate to the interrogation methods used against students.
Even if she had handled egg wars perfectly, there are a number of problems that she had at Paly, any of which could be contributing factors to her resignation. She does not and never did truly understand Palo Alto High School, and from what us students could see, never made an effort to. There are many positive things that she accomplished in her time at Paly, including a lower truancy rate and higher AP enrollment among others. However, all of her contributions were unfortunately overshadowed by the way in which she treated the students and the community- with a lack of respect or understanding. I wish the Paly community a better experience with the new principal, and hope that McEvoy is able to find a school better suited to her personality.

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