News

District rebuts Duveneck Elementary bullying complaint

In a strongly worded defense of the actions they took in response to bullying complaints at Duveneck Elementary School, Palo Alto school district administrators have told the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights that allegations were "investigated fully and responded to in a timely and thorough manner."

The district's April 24 response to a "data request" from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), obtained by the Weekly through a Public Records Act request, rebuts claims by a Duveneck family that the district didn't respond to their repeated appeals for action to stop the bullying of their disabled child since last October. It also declines to acknowledge that any bullying even took place.

Just a week earlier, on April 15, Duveneck Principal Chris Grierson sent an email to all Duveneck families, approved by Superintendent Kevin Skelly, informing them of the complaint, urging them to "not be alarmed," and stating that "As I see it, the OCR is addressing a national rally cry about bullying behavior." (That comment brought a reprimand from the Office for Civil Rights on April 17.)

The seven-page letter, accompanied by documents that were withheld from the Weekly for privacy reasons, offers no apologies nor admits any mistakes. Signed by Holly Wade, the district's director of special education, and Brenda Carrillo, coordinator of student services, the letter said Grierson "worked with school personnel, district staff, student and parent to address issues in a timely manner, complete robust investigations and provide ongoing supervision and support to the student on a daily basis."

The Office for Civil Rights launched an investigation into the Duveneck complaint on April 4, and attorneys were reportedly on campus conducting interviews prior to the end of the school year. The federal agency does not comment on pending investigations, and it is unknown when the investigation will be completed.

In order to protect their child's privacy, the parents declined to provide the Weekly details of the child's bullying or their experiences with Duveneck or district administrators.

The district's response reveals that there was no "formal written documentation" prepared by the school about its investigation or findings in the case, as required by district policies. Without explaining why, it attributed this to the fact one bullying incident involving the child had been reported to the police and had not resulted in any report or action by them.

But the letter references emails to the family and notes of the principal, as well as chronologies of steps taken, contained in the withheld attachments, to demonstrate the school handled the complaints appropriately.

The response also said the school district uses the Uniform Complaint Procedure to address complaints of disability discrimination. The district's required log of all Uniform Complaint Procedure complaints, however, does not include the Duveneck case, nor any other discrimination complaints that have recently come to light. The log, obtained by the Weekly, lists only three complaints of any kind in the last seven years, and just one, relating to PE requirements, since 2007.

Comments

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Posted by Edmund Burke
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2013 at 6:55 am

@editor: "The response also said the school district uses the Uniform Complaint Procedure to address complaints of disability discrimination. The district's required log of all Uniform Complaint Procedure complaints, however, does not include the Duveneck case, nor any other discrimination complaints that have recently come to light. The log, obtained by the Weekly, lists only three complaints of any kind in the last seven years, and just one, relating to PE requirements, since 2007."

This implies that the problem is with the log -- perhaps the log is incomplete. However the problem is with more than the log. Rather the district has ignored the Uniform Complaint Procedure where written complaints of discrimination are made and does not apply it to written complaints of discrimination as required by California law.

Had the district correctly applied the UCP, it would have referred the complaint to Charles Young, the district compliance officer. Within 60 days after receiving the complaint Young would have (1) held a hearing at which the complainant would present evidence and information leading to evidence supporting the complaint; (2) investigated; and (3) issued a written decision that would include many legally required elements including the findings of fact and conclusions of law. The complainant would have been informed of his or her right to appeal that decision to the California Department of Education within 15 days.

Had any of that happened, there would be more than a log. There would be a record of the above compliance that could either be supplied to the Weekly under a PRA or would have been refused to the Weekly with reasons given that showed that the documents existed.

It is impossible that the district is applying the UCP but generating no paper trail of having done so, since the UCP requires a paper trail. Therefore the statement to the OCR is false and misleading. The district is probably trying to shade the issue and under questioning at a deposition, Holly Wade would probably state that the district hasn't received any UCP complaints during this period because the district narrowly considers only those complaints filed on particular forms in a particular way to be UCP complaints. However, that too violates the law which cannot require complainants to use particular forms.

As the Weekly requested the documentation for prior complaints and none was forthcoming the Weekly is entitled to conclude that the district does not use the UCP. In addition, your reporting with the families of complainants has surely yielded the information that none of the complainants received the required hearing nor did they get a notice of decision containing the required elements and appeal rights notice.

The district's failure to apply the UCP and follow the law in deference to site control of the discrimination issue has enabled principals to misstate the facts regarding the incidence of discriminatory bullying at the schools, which is one reason that the UCP exists. That reason and law is being thwarted by site control. The district has made so many misstatements of fact regarding this and other topics in recent months that it is very surprising that this story really just repeats district statements without using your most effective evidence that casts doubt upon it.

If the district follows the UCP, where are any of the required decisions? Though the story contains the admission by the district that there was no "formal written documentation" prepared by the school about its investigation or findings in the case," it then misstates why such omission matters. The story states that such documentation is "required by district policy." Such documentation is required by state law and CDE regulations implementing the UCP. Thus, the admission that there was no "formal written documentation" is an admission that the UCP was not followed.

That is not tied together in the next paragraph, so the reader is left with the ho-hum conclusion that the district failed to follow its own policy and might have kept sloppy logs but all is basically well. That is incorrect and a real disservice to readers.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Alert reader
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 14, 2013 at 7:33 am

Thank you EB. I take issue with another part of the story, the incorrect usage of the word "refute." The verb that should have been used for accuracy is "denies" not "refutes." Refute means "to prove a statement or theory wrong with evidence." That is not what happened. Even without EB's correction what we have is a denial not a refutation. Perhaps the omitted evidence refuted the allegations but as it was omitted the weekly is in no position to conclude that the allegations have been refuted. You have done a tremendous disservice to the victim by stating falsely and incorrectly that their charges have bee disproved. Please correct this and please apologize to the victim.


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Posted by Expectorator at large
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:01 am

Thanks Edmund!!!!


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Posted by J-school dropout
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:32 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


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Posted by Alert reader
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:56 am

Why haven't you fixed this yet? We are entitle to expect journalists to understand the meaning of words and to use to them properly. It's unconscionable to state falsely that the district has disproved allegations when it has not. The average reader won't go much beyond the headline and will think that the charges are disproved. Would you write in a story that the defense had refuted the prosecution merely by appearing at an arraignment to enter a not guilty plea? "Defendant pleads not guilty, refuting states case." No of course not. But that's what you have done. At least you should say that PAUSD claims to refute the complaint. More correct would be "denies." Make the correction. When you are wrong be man enough to admit it and apologize.


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Posted by Expect orator
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:56 am

Thank you for your expert analysis Edmund Burke! I wish you could come and speak at the school board meetings as we as being such a superior school district we should Expect to have an orator like you to speak on Behalf of all the children who are suffering.


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Posted by Read the definition
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 14, 2013 at 9:19 am

Alert reader,

You are really over the top. Even the sample uses of the word "refute" in the dictionary are exactly as they've been used in the story.

Web Link


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Posted by J school dropout
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 14, 2013 at 9:26 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


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Posted by Privacy
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 14, 2013 at 10:48 am

"In order to protect their child's privacy, the parents declined to provide the Weekly details of the child's bullying or their experiences with Duveneck or district administrators. "

It's hard to protect your child's privacy when Grierson told people who the child was, sent out an email to the entire school, held a meeting on the issue, and the district released a badly redacted version of their letter to the OCR with identifying information about the child to multiple media vendors. But kudos on trying to stay private.


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Posted by Alert reader
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 14, 2013 at 11:00 am

The district response is another instance of retaliation and renders the child individually identifiable. It is hard to believe that was accidental. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Duvy parent
a resident of Duveneck School
on Jun 14, 2013 at 12:39 pm

It's maddening that Skelly, Young, and Wade keep violating the law, and we are supposed to just keep shoveling money and praise at them. This time it's a violation of federal privacy law (FERPA). The obvious goal is to intimidate this family and others who have complaints. They are either incompetent, malevolent, or some toxic mix of both.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Another Duvy Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 14, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Dear Duvy Parent,

When the next School Board election comes up, I hope that you will be running. Then you will get a taste of the challenges of this job. Everyone wants to lob eggs at folks that have to make decisions, but are not willing to dedicate their own time and energy to actually solve the complex problems. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Duvy parent
a resident of Duveneck School
on Jun 14, 2013 at 2:03 pm

[Portion removed]

As to the challenges of being on the School Board: the job comes with real responsibilities. The board members have abrogated them. They deserve to be criticized. [Portion removed.] They are supposed to be acting as oversight for a $160 million a year organization that directly affects the lives of 12,000 kids. If they are not up to doing that -- and they are clearly not --they should quit. And if anybody thinks that Dana Tom is up to this job, they are not paying attention.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Alert reader
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 14, 2013 at 2:13 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Cardinal
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 14, 2013 at 2:33 pm

I was pleased to read the headline state that, at last, the district had "refuted" this complaint. To my great disappointment, I could not find evidence of refutation. Fortunately, at least PAUSD made the effort to "dispute" the claims. Perhaps the editor is the victim of large thumbs on a small keyboard, like me.


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Posted by Oh, Please
a resident of Duveneck School
on Jun 14, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Chris Grierson sent out an email but did not disclose the child's name, nor did he really state much in the email. Had he not mailed an email, parents would have complained of lack of transparency. It's a double-edged sword with the new Palo Altans! I grew up here and parents weren't so out-of-control, dogmatic back in the day. Intellectual, yes, mature and reasonable, yes.

News spreads when the parents file such a complaint; if they didn't want people to know, they'd stay quiet. Do people really think bullying exists in silence? There are always witnesses. In defense of Mr. Grierson, we had a bullying issue and were satisfied with the teacher and his attention to the matter.

"we should Expect to have an orator like you to speak on Behalf of all the children who are suffering." This is so blown out of proportion! "Children who are suffering"? It's the parents' duty to protect their children, even if it means going to school and volunteering during class and lunch or teaching their child socially acceptable behavior.

These bullying threads are filled with the same people posting repeatedly and are in no way indicative of the majority opinion. Fear-mongering tactics in attempt to convince people that PAUSD has out-of-control bullying issues which are ignored by administration are a result of residual scars of the outspoken.

When we temporarily lived out-of-state, our children attended "good" schools. But guess what? We had to teach them to push, shove and hit back because administration ignored bullying. My son shoved a child at the lockers because he was tired of being called names because he was the new student. And that boy apologized for days afterwards. They left my son alone, and one of them apologized a couple of years later. My daughter had to learn to hit in kindergarten because there was a child with ADD who would hit her and staff/admin. ignored our complaints. It's just the situation we were in. They are both normal, sociable students with great grades and teachers here who write glowing reviews about them. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Sure, there is bullying at every public school but from what I have heard from other parents, the admin are quick to respond. These bullying complaints don't tell the full picture. I have known children who have been bullied because of THEIR abnormal behavior, and provoking others. Not saying this is the case, but it happens. This call for "every child" to be safe? Quit blaming the school! Visit the school, contact the parents yourself! Quick complaining! Be pro-active! Or transfer your child to another school.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Edmund Burke (EB) writes:
----
Had the district correctly applied the UCP, it would have
referred the complaint to Charles Young, the district
compliance officer. ..Young would have:

(1) held a hearing at which the complainant would present
evidence and information leading to evidence supporting the
complaint;
(2) investigated; and
(3) issued a written decision that would include many legally
required elements including the findings of fact and
conclusions of law.
----

Ok .. assuming that (1), (2) and (3) are the only requirements for this sort of situation—then there should be paperwork for each of these segments of the complaint resolution.

So—is there any paperwork regarding these complaints—documenting the Districts actions?

EB also suggests that "the log" does not contain all of the actual complaints filed. This may, or may not, be much of an issue, unless "the log" is a PAUSD, or State/Federal, Requirement. It would pay to keep such a log up-to-date, but unless it is required—then it is not a critical item here.

So—is there any paperwork?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by palo Alto native
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 14, 2013 at 5:49 pm

I agree with Oh, Please. The parental complaints are outrageous in the "new" Palo Alto.
I can't believe my eyes or ears. The majority of people feel sorry for the administration.
What to do? These noisy parents take away from everyone. I hope more people
speak out against them.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by assuming too much
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Edmund Burke,

You say that not following the UCP "has enabled principals to misstate the facts regarding the incidence of discriminatory bullying at the schools." Or it hasn't. You have NO proof that district employees are lying.

What are the consequences if the district did not happen to follow its policies to the letter? It is hard to imagine that a procedural oversight would mean the case is over and the district would be barred from defending its employees' actions. More likely, the OCR will ask the district to do so if there is a next time.

You seem also to conclude that every act of bullying is a federal offense if the child is disabled. What if the bullying was because the disabled child was wearing red on St. Patrick's Day? It does not make it right, but it also does not make it disability discrimination.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2013 at 7:00 pm

By the way, our good friends in Sacramento are trying to gut the California Public Records Act, via SB71 (Sec. 4):

Web Link

Please take a moment to contact Gov. Jerry Brown to veto this section of SB71. Or, soon, we won't be able to obtain records from the PAUSD or the City--which will reveal this sort of problem, or mismanagement.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:56 pm

"I grew up here and parents weren't so out-of-control, dogmatic back in the day. Intellectual, yes, mature and reasonable, yes."

+1


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Posted by Expect Orator
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 14, 2013 at 11:58 pm

@oh please and palo alto native: You are discounting the lives of the children who indeed are still suffering. You should be ashamed of yourselves. So much of the suffering is driven by the competitiveness which is bred into our students.

You probably are the type of parents who think it is OK for children to brag about their college placement at the last gasp of high school. I think that Camille was the one who went on and on about how wonderful it was to see all of those painted mortar boards. By contrast, the shot of the Paly grads showed them exuberantly tossing their caps into the air. Refreshing performance Paly! Just another contrast between Gunn and Paly. Skelly and Townsend think that test scores and college placement is of prime importance putting those in front of the whole child's happiness. I am sick of this district's style. It is time for turn over in the administration as well as the Board. We have had enough.


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Posted by Oh, Please
a resident of Duveneck School
on Jun 15, 2013 at 1:03 am

@Expect Orator: There are hardly children suffering in PAUSD. My children rarely witness bullying in PAUSD. Sure, it occurs, but is not rampant as suggested. And if so, it's addressed immediately by administration and ended. Posting so many assumptions re my parenting and the BoE shows an extreme lack of maturity and analytical abilities. "We have had enough"? Speak for yourself. People are free to move from PAUSD if they are unhappy.

The REAL problem is parenting in general these days, nationwide. Too many parents disrespect their children and are too busy with themselves instead of nurturing their children with love. If you look at the bullies, look at the parents and you will see either parents who are too strict or too lenient or mean people, or ones who ignore their children. Deficient parenting is to blame, not the schools.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Arnold the Pig
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 15, 2013 at 8:37 am

I attended a school from out of the area, in which teachers did nothing to those who bullied others. I hope that teachers in Palo Alto will not turn their backs on those who are bullied. Being bullied leaves an emotional scar for life that one will never recover from if the bullies are allowed to continue their abuse. Even the bullies will grow into adult monsters who will most likely end up in prison. Their associates usually become police officers and firefighters.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by DuvMom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 15, 2013 at 10:21 am

Three cheers for Oh, Please and Palo Alto Native. You are the majority. WE are the majority. Unfortunately, the people people who comment here are the loudest minority. Mr.Grierson NEVER gave the name of the family.


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Posted by DuvDad
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 15, 2013 at 10:29 am

@DuvMom - Nobody ever said he did. But his email was a mistake. Imagine how you would feel if you had made a confidential complaint and the next thing you know the entire school has been told "a parent" has complained and come and talk to me if you'd like to discuss it.


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Posted by DuvMom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 15, 2013 at 10:48 am

I believe "Privacy" stated above that the name was given of the bullied child. I have read this misrepresentation several times on PA Online as well. I do question the legal issues of sending the letter however I know that if Mr. Grierson didn't send the letter a people would have complained. Likely, the same group that is currently Mr. Grierson's actions.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by DuvMom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 15, 2013 at 10:53 am

All parents living in Palo Alto should watch the new to DVD movie Parental Guidance. Great for kids, parents, and Grandparents alike. Many will see parts of themselves or people they know in many of the characters. Lots of good, clean laughs.


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Posted by It's the response
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2013 at 10:55 am

I'd have to agree that bullying is a feature at every school, but I don't want to lose sight of the bigger issue I have with Kevin Skelly and Charles Young, which is the quality of their response. They are paid to administer and manage the district and they have not done that to a level to remain in PAUSD for the next school year. If parents and other stakeholders feel that way, I need to read that in these postings. Demonizing one parent group and putting any citizen that criticizes Skelly, Young, or the board in that group does not address their performance. I've lived here for almost 30 years and I have never seen the level of competence so low in so many administrators, but to be fair, we have speedier communication online now.

Either way, do not expect teachers to do much about bullying. Their union should really be leading this effort, but too often they are fixated on more money. It sends a bad message. I would really suggest that they come out with position papers and establish themselves as a collective group of adults who will care for our students. Instead of recruiting teachers to show up to board meetings complaining about high gas prices and Palo Alto real estate, use your power to push the agenda of safe schools in a way that does not place the sole responsibility on your principal because we didn't give you a raise for that purpose. We gave you a raise to care for our kids. Please do it by not complaining to someone, but by demonstrating that you are the cream of the teacher ranks. I invite you teachers to come to the board meeting June 18 to speak in favor of our kids.

Let the public deal with the principals. This is not their finest hour. We like our principals, but if they had to look for a job right now, they would not get it. Let's look at the evidence: Chris Grierson, handpicked by Skelly, has had a miserable year. When I saw him speak at a meeting last year, I could not shake the discomfort of his arrogance, arrogance that many more would see in his infamous email. Grierson's youth is a good thing for many kids, but now his performance is a good argument for experience, especially outside experience. Katherine Baker. She is a nice person. She has botched her own OCR mess, to a point that she, too, should be cut free. Michael Milliken. He hid in the background as Director of Secondary for the past two years. It is amusing to see posters note his hair and his stance against bullying, but he had two years to actually demonstrate leadership, out-in-the-public leadership with innovative ideas and a firm grasp of the management of the OCR mess. He did none of that, but my hat is off to his timing, he got out just in time, but not before he publicly wrote of his admiration of Skelly. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Holly Wade, Director of Special Ed and connected to Skelly back in Saratoga. I'll say the first part again, because there is nothing more to say: Director of Special Ed.

How do you possibly fire, release, or demote these administrators? If Skelly throws one under the bus to take pressure off himself, he will incur the wrath of the administrators like his predecessor, Callan. He certainly cannot lead the teachers because they are untouchable by him, but apparently not the OCR. But if he were to do anything remotely consequential to a principal, he would lose the support of the other principals. Complicating the situation is that the principals are six years fresh from their temper tantrum with Callan. If one principal would speak out against the current dysfunction, he would be ostracized by not only his fellow principals, but also by most of the other stakeholders. It's a chilling environment in PAUSD right now. Not even that group of parents, who were so brave to write a letter against Callan, have uttered a word in public against Skelly. That means you support him and the rest, message received, and majority respected.

So where does that leave us? I've written to the board a while ago and the response was patronizing, if not ignored. I've met with district office administrators and it has always ended in the falsehood of site based management. That is really code for I don't want or can't lead or manage, per my job. The last 12 months of tumult and dysfunction have done nothing for our kids emotionally or for their academic competitiveness. The board must do what they should have done a year ago, release Skelly. That is merely the start. They must then begin the difficult task of housecleaning by releasing many, if not most, of the other named officials. That would be the start of regaining the trust of so many in the public. They will then have to direct the standardization of many policies, such as bullying, that are currently being driven by outsiders such as the OCR and its lawyers. If you really believe in local control, then you believe that our locally-elected politicians and salaried leaders should be leading and directing this district because right now this chap Curious seems to be having a bigger impact than any other PAUSD employee. Maybe he or she is an employee, but his post on summer school fees, hidden in the cellar of the Forum, led to an embarrassing about-face by Skelly and the board.

I'm not paying all the taxes, bonds, special fees, and donations to PiE so that Curious can act as our superintendent, and that is one of dozens of embarrassments why reform is needed, beginning with the release of Skelly. Board, you can do this today, there will be no negative impact more than the current level of dysfunction, but it will signal a new beginning. He clearly does not have the honor to do so himself, but this about the kids, now, not the adults.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by LD student parent
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 15, 2013 at 11:45 am

In agreeing with "it's the response" above, I'm reposting the following, as it is relevant here: It is likely no coincidence that Skelly's "hand-pick" for principal, Chris Grierson, is one of the focal points of the current district problem of mismanagement of procedures for special ed students. He was my LD daughter's math teacher at Jordan before becoming a principal at Duveneck. At her SST meeting, first he actually had to be hushed twice during the meeting because he was talking to his seatmate about the new computer he'd bought instead of contributing, or listening, to the proceedings. (My husband has run many professional meetings, and when both of the administrators present just ignored Grierson's side-chat, asked him to please be quiet, as my husband couldn't hear the proceedings. He'd never before, at any professional meeting, had to hush an adult twice.)

When it came to Grierson's turn to speak, his only answer to helping my daughter with her documented learning disorders (she'd been in a elementary school IEP) was that she wasn't trying hard enough and needed to put her nose to the grindstone. The contempt and arrogance in his voice, on this and other occasions, spoke for themselves about his sympathy and understanding of LD students. Thus, it was no surprise to my family to see him embroiled in the current problem.

Employees are a reflection of the people who and promote them. Grierson worked for Milliken, who was the principal at Jordan at the time, and was promoted by Skelly.


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Posted by Palo Alto native
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 15, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Expect Orator,
Just the statement "you should be ashamed of yourselves", expresses exactly what is wrong
with the "new" Palo Alto. [Portion removed.]


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Posted by We Are Legion
a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Dana Tom the school board president stated to the family in the first OCR complaint that they should try harder to work with the school and they would "get better results." That oily, condescending reply says it all about PAUSD, about insiders/outsiders and about getting nothing from our school board but a big fat FU. The parents wrote to him because their child was punched in the face, the school and principal were not helping, Skelly was not helping, their child was becoming depressed and hurting and he sent them that? He's lucky all he got was an OCR complaint. The only surprising thing about this whole mess is that no parent has yet gone postal. There are many people who if their child was bullied like that and punched in the face would not just send polite emails pleading for help. [Portion removed.] I am sure you would not be so dismissive if your child was being physically bullied.


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Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 15, 2013 at 10:39 pm

We Are Legion,

"I am sure you would not be so dismissive if your child was being physically bullied."
How do you know anything about my child? My child has been physically bullied in
middle school. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Oh, Please
a resident of Duveneck School
on Jun 15, 2013 at 11:50 pm

There is something amiss about the story of a child being punched in the face and PAUSD not helping. Whenever it's physical assault, the school always intervenes immediately. When the student and parents are likeable people, it's easy to work with PAUSD or any other school district. Does anyone want to help if parents are rude and student is unlikeable/provocative? This is simple observation, and I know no details of the case. But I do know that Palo Alto parents can be condescending, impolite, and demanding because I have witnessed it and heard stories from friends who work in PAUSD. There is no reason to treat PAUSD employees as servants.


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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2013 at 1:43 am

@It's the response - Thank you for taking the time to share your perspective. I agree with most. Your description of the various groups and district officials scratching backs, had me think of - Balance of Power (Web Link), all having interest in having the current situation untouched.


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Posted by QED
a resident of El Carmelo School
on Jun 16, 2013 at 6:21 am

Oh Please provides ample evidence that Palo Alto parents can be "rude", "unlikeable", "provocative" and "condescending." I would even add "ignorant" to the list. Thank you for being the status quo you want to see perpetuated in the world.


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Posted by Enough already
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 16, 2013 at 9:52 am

Dana Tom has suppressed any investigation of how and why the district mishandled these cases because he personally is implicated. So are the purge board members. They aren't just protecting staff members, they are protecting themselves. They ignored these families, they participated in the cover-up, they agreed to have the district's lawyer lie to the public, and they have jointly agreed to stonewalk now. Shameful.


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Posted by paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 16, 2013 at 10:43 am

Being on the PAUSD BOE is a time consuming, thankless job. Mistakes were made in handling these issues, but to all of you who say "purge the board members" who is going to take their place? The past election, we had one candidate that wasn't an incumbent, the election before that, we had no one, therefore no election.

Unless you are planning on doing the job yourself, figure out a way to help instead of merely criticize.


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Posted by Enough already
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 16, 2013 at 10:59 am

School board members aren't PTA functionaries even if they act like it. They are failing to do their job, breaking promises of transparency and honesty while they do it. I don't appreciate their "contribution". If they didn't want to do the job they shouldn't have run for it. Surely [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 16, 2013 at 11:35 am

Enough already - I look forward to seeing your name on the ballot for the next School Board election.


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Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 16, 2013 at 11:52 am

My family has had such a great experience in the PAUSD. There have been issues, but they
have always been resolved quickly and in a civilized fashion. In fact, I don't personally know
anyone that is unhappy w the district. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by I love PAUSD
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2013 at 11:59 am

I love PAUSD. My children have had good experiences for the most part, but in no way is Skelly, Young, and the board performing at a level to warrant another year. I feel no hate for them or PAUSD, but there must be accountability. I'd be happy to run for the board in 2014. So would others. The job is not that hard, the current board has only made it that way.


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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2013 at 12:02 pm

@Palo Alto Native - you use the word hatred. I am not sure that this word describers my perspective. Criticism? yes. Trying to look at issues as there are? yes. Knowing the kids are being heart? yes. Maybe what you define as hatred is derived from NOT being a Palo Alto native. I am suggesting the possibility that your perspective is different than mine (for example) because some are treated better than others. It seems to me that the perspective difference underlies all the issues mentioned. Possibly, the "natives" - not Palo Alto Natives, are starting to think and say that there is no reason to be treated differently.


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Posted by Dauber voter
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2013 at 12:38 pm

You people are hilariously inconsistent. You literally froth at the mouth at the mention of Ken Dauber's name. He is supremely well qualified, had great ideas, is undeniably brilliant, and has made a huge contribution to improving the schools. Even if you don't agree with his ideas you can't deny that he has contributed, volunteered his time, and made an impact. But to you Paly parent he is the devil a d you will prove it by posting back some totally insane rant against him. Then you attack people for not being willing to put themselves up for the kind of character assassination that probably you personally visited on him. Yes why don't more people run? Ill tell you what, if you post back a compliment of Ken for running and not anonymously but using your own name then I will run and get two friends to also. Be consistent or be quiet.


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Posted by sigh
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 16, 2013 at 12:51 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

"you can't deny that he has contributed, volunteered his time, and made an impact."
No he hasn't. That's the point. He couldn't point to any volunteering after a number of his children went through the district. The only "volunteering" he has done is work on a homework committee. Hardly a reason to get elected to the board.


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Posted by Dauber voter
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Super funny. Now you have your answer as to why people don't run. Because they will be falsely and unfairly maligned [portion removed.]


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Posted by Dauber voter
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Funny that the part you didn't delete is the demonstrably false part. Ken was a very active volunteer with scouting (and still is) and was on the Barron Park PTA. He founded a parent organization that a lot of people participate in and gay a lot out of. He has spent hundred of hours finding and analyzing data and also conceived and served in the district homework committee. Just because you don't like his ideas doesn't mean he didn't work hard on them. [Portion removed.] No sane successful person with a high powered career like Ken will ever want to do this again. Because of people like you.


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Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 16, 2013 at 1:34 pm

@Dauber voter

Actually I think it is groups like WCDBPA that make people not want to be involved. Often the group seems very vindictive and rude. Have you ever really listened to how they speak at the board meetings? The way Michelle Dauber addresses Dr Skelly as "Kevin" is very disrespectful. Ken Dauber is more respectful and seems less vindictive but the group as a whole turns many people off.


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Posted by I love PAUSD
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2013 at 1:41 pm

It seems when critique of PAUSD begins, many posters attack the messenger, Ken Dauber, or WCDBPA. Well, I did not vote for Dauber, I voted for Emberling, who has been an utter failure in just a few months. I hope to vote more effectively next time, but that's democracy. In the meantime, PAUSD is overdue for change and I'm doing my part to do that. Nope, not a member of WCDBPA and they have no effect on my involvement. To the critics of the critics of how PAUSD administrators are performing, your messages would be more effective if you actually listed the accomplishments of Kevin Skelly.


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Posted by Dauber voter
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2013 at 1:48 pm

I think you should be worried about something besides whether Kevin is called by his given name. I have heard him called much worse by a lot of people recently since the OCR issues came to light. Ken and Michelle might be the only people who haven't said he should just be fired, which he clearly should be. If calling Kevin Kevin is your reason you are filled with venom you are not worth answering further. How about lying to the board, having 4 federal investigations, little disabled girl punched in face and called retard etc? Upset about any of that?


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Posted by paly alum
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2013 at 5:07 pm

paly alum is a registered user.

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by jls mom of 2
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jun 16, 2013 at 5:46 pm

jls mom of 2 is a registered user.

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Jun 17, 2013 at 2:57 am

village fool is a registered user.

@jls mom of 2 - here is to another restricted thread where you were that last to comment, and your whole comment was removed - (Web Link). I am sorry I missed your comment, above.
Your second to last comment in the link I provided was cut. I think I can recall you expressing concern about a student who posted. I have expressed concerns as well, and asked about school support. I am well aware of the anonymity of this board. Having said that - better safe than sorry.


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Posted by Laura Hershey
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Laura Hershey is a registered user.

UCP wasn't followed, as we already knew. OCR is investigating.

The district cannot apologize or admit a mistake to the OCR, because that would be a legal disaster. It's a game a denial and submitting selected evidence.

So there was issue enough to report to the police, but there was no action. That is no surprise. If the child was under 12 there could be no arrest, and the officers could only have an influence regarding the safety of the child. They don't have jurisdiction at an elementary school. That doesn't excuse the need for internal reports at the school.

The question is, did the school respond to the situation appropriately so the child could continue learning and stop the harassment? EB can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that is the question. It appears the district already answered that they didn't document as they should have, and perhaps over spoke about the situation in public.

We know in the first case the child didn't get services until years after the bullying started and the hostile environment created a severely disastrous emotional situation. Let's hope that doesn't happen here.

No family or child should have to feel so helpless to go to this last resort of help.


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Posted by Metzler McVey
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 23, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Metzler McVey is a registered user.

I am writing under my own name. I have worked tirelessly this year as the PTA Council VP for Special Education and at the Community Advisory Committee for Special Ed. When I heard about the OCR complaint at Duveneck, I got involved. I don't want any child to suffer. If kids or parents need support, I wanted to be part of the solution. I helped develop a program about after school activities for children with IEPs. Children can get accommodations for disabilities even after school. I worked with Christina, Mary, Stacey and many other volunteers at the CAC who dedicated hundreds of hours this year. We could never get the Weekly to cover our work. It wasn't sensational. Unity Day was an opportunity to talk as a family and a community about bullying and being an Upstander. I have seen my kids stand up for themselves and others. We all need to be a part of the solution.

I attended many PAUSD School Board Meetings and committee meetings. I have witnessed meetings that I read about later in the press. I wondered if they were at the same meeting I attended. I drafted my own comments on the bullying policy. My concerns centered on the site based structure and lack of accountability. I wrote comments about the attributes we need in a new leader for our district. I heard the concerns of the search team about the candidates who would be unwilling to walk into this community with a forum such as this that stands ready to criticize and rebuke. Would you want the Superintendent's job in Palo Alto? We will lose some candidates from the pool of potential leaders for this district due to the lack of civility that exists here.

Chris Grierson has always been responsive to me. When my son had an issue at school, they handed him paper and had him write down what happened in his own words. I expect that is on file somewhere. Chris worked at solving the problem. It has not happened again. Chris is the son of someone with a serious disability. He has walked many miles in these shoes. I have never seen him be insensitive or unresponsive. In our 6 years at Duveneck, we have had 3 principals. Chris has been a very responsive principal. I cannot see him failing to help a child in need. My son was once missing after school. Chris immediately sent his picture to the PAPD so that they could look for him. My son was found a short time later. Those minutes he was missing seemed really long. Chris was very supportive and reassuring.

I talked Dr. Young about concerns with a teacher. It was not in the least pleasant, but I advocated for kids who were not being treated in a respectful manner by a teacher. It will take an act of God to unseat a tenured teacher. I did my best.

There are hundreds of parents who volunteer in their own way to make PAUSD a great place. Come out of the virtual world and get involved. You have received many invitations. Get up, get out, get involved.

I am hosting Duveneck parents with concerns about special ed at my house tomorrow. Come, be heard. You will find many ready and willing to help you.


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Posted by frustrated mom
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 23, 2014 at 5:15 pm

frustrated mom is a registered user.

Metzler McVey,
Would this meeting will be only for Duveneck Parents. I am not one of them, but I do have kids at PAUSD. And have many complains about special ed. This need to improve in this department, seriously.


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Posted by Metzler McVey
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 23, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Metzler McVey is a registered user.

Please come. You can email me at leigh.metzler@sbcglobal.net


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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2014 at 12:30 am

village fool is a registered user.

"J school dropout" posted the following comment the day this thread was published. The comment was removed. I tried to post it several times, quoting "J school dropout", knowing that i did not use multiple names. My comments disappeared instantaneously, without a trace.

I think that the censoring here, actually harms the chances of issues being exposed and addressed. Additional samples of editing/censoring can be found here: Web Link

"J school dropout" comment, posted here, and gone, on June 14th, 2013:

"I have to agree with "Alert reader" — a better headline would have been "District asserts it followed correct procedures in Duveneck bullying complaint, but lacks any documentation." I wonder whether your reporter understands enough about the law and district policy to write an informative story, since not following the UCP means that the district didn't follow either the law or its own policy.

I think censoring criticism of the Weekly's reporting is the wrong response, although since it's the Weekly's forum it's the editor's prerogative. It's a little odd, however, to criticize Skelly for being defensive rather than improving when the Weekly is exhibiting the same behavior.

Beyond the Weekly's reporting difficulties, this story is another example of the cost to the public and the school district of the school board's acquiescence in Skelly's stonewalling of any inquiry into what is going on here. We have a district administration that repeatedly flouts the law, seems not to understand or care what its obligations are, and hurts kids in the process."


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Posted by Roger Dodger
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2014 at 8:56 am

Roger Dodger is a registered user.

"I grew up here and parents weren't so out-of-control, dogmatic back in the day. Intellectual, yes, mature and reasonable, yes."

+1 from this reader too.

There is a very small contingent of very angry people on this forum who are making a very loud noise in a very small virtual space. It would be great if those people would move out of the virtual space and into the very real world and try to do some of the very hard and very messy work of actually trying to address these problems. But one thing is very clear: that's not gonna happen.

KUDOS to Metzler McVey for having the courage to take action and speak in defense of the hard-working people in this district who DO try to do the right thing and help our kids, and for taking action on her own to work toward a better school experience for our kids.


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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2014 at 11:56 pm

village fool is a registered user.

@Metzler McVey – (link #1)

Thank you for your caring post!

I think that there are several issues keeping the occurrences that concern you below the public's radar. Writing it all is way beyond of any online post.

You mentioned Civility. It seems to me the civility is in the "eye of the beholder". I think that being "civil" in this area goes many times hand in hand with being very articulate. Also, being able to obtain the services of private lawyer helps "maintain" the notion that those who are not very articulate, who speak up, may not be that civil.

I think it is important to keep in mind that your experiences may be totally different from those accumulated by an "uncivil" parent. Many times being "uncivil" implies economically weakness, or other "otherness".

Good Luck!


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Posted by George Orwell
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2014 at 12:01 am

George Orwell is a registered user.

Moderator - I forgot to thank you for restricting this thread on June 16Th, 2013.
My failure to thank you is inexcusable, especially since your considerate gesture was an early birthday present.
Thank you!


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