News

School board to vote on harassment policy

Officials: Procedures up for Tuesday vote would satisfy civil rights agency

The Palo Alto Board of Education is set to vote Tuesday, Feb. 11, on new policies governing the harassment of disabled and other minority students.

If approved, Superintendent Kevin Skelly said the policies should satisfy a December 2012 agreement signed with the U.S. Office for Civil Rights in which the district agreed to revamp its procedures for handling complaints of discrimination based on "protected classes," including disability, gender, race, and sexual preference.

That agreement followed a December 2012 federal finding that the district's mishandling of a bullying case had violated the civil rights of a disabled student.

In discussing the proposed new policies -- more than a year in the making and applying only to "protected classes," not to all students -- board members indicated during their Jan. 28 meeting that they would support them when the final vote comes Tuesday.

But they said they expect to act further on a general bullying policy, which Skelly has promised to deliver by March.

Even though the discussion of policies for "protected students" occurred late in the Jan. 28 meeting – after 1 a.m. Jan. 29 – five community members waited around to contest the proposal, arguing there should be a single process for handling all bullying complaints, not two processes that separate "protected classes" from other students.

After a year of working to rewrite policies, Skelly briefly backed a version that would have treated all students similarly. But last month he said he'd been persuaded by teachers and principals that a single complaint procedure would be impractical and run the risk of escalating minor playground disputes.

Community members at the late-night meeting disagreed.

"I believed we were going to protect all students -- not just protected classes -- and now I stand before you and ask, 'What happened?'" parent Christina Schmidt said.

But board members said they agreed with Skelly's worry that a system-wide policy could unduly formalize minor incidents and create records for playground scuffles.

"Every case isn't a federal case," board member Camille Townsend said.

Board President Barb Mitchell agreed. "While it's very technical and often doesn't seem as sensible to the everyman standard, I think that (the proposed policy) makes a lot of sense. I'm also convinced that the policy framework allows us to honor and fulfill all our goals and commitments we've made while, yes, it's take us longer to pull this together."

The bullying policy he's aiming to bring to the board in March, Skelly said, will "capture board and community values" of "simplicity, clear direction and processes for administrators, staff, and students and parents...., a flowchart/timeline for responsiveness, protection for those accused of bullying as well as consistency in practices between and among schools."

The fact that the bullying discussion came past midnight in the Jan. 28 meeting sparked hand wringing among board members the following week, when they met Feb. 6 for their mid-year "retreat."

Members fretted about the length and effectiveness of board meetings in general.

"We spend too much time talking about things that don't really move the needle," board member Dana Tom said, suggesting that agendas be managed to keep discussion "at the highest leverage points" to keep members from micromanaging.

Board Vice-President Melissa Baten Caswell said board discussion too often strays "into the weeds" before clarification of "big picture" goals.

"If we go to the higher level first, we may all agree on a lot of things," Caswell said. "Staff should give that to us as well."

Referring to the Jan. 28 meeting, Townsend said: "While I don't want to use one board meeting as a reflection of all of them ... when we slip, we slip big and our last meeting we slipped so badly."

But several referred with frustration to a Jan. 28 discussion of proposed changes to freshman English at Palo Alto High School, which stretched far beyond its allotted 10 minutes on the agenda.

Teachers had proposed dismantling the current two-lane structure in freshman English to offer an accelerated class to all ninth graders. The proposal prompted a flood of emails to board members and comments from seven community members at the Jan. 28 meeting.

That item, board members agreed, deserved lengthier -- and earlier -- scrutiny, not 10 minutes.

Board members were cool to the English proposal Jan. 28. Skelly said he would work on it and bring it back to the board at a later time. But it is not on the Feb. 11 agenda, and English Department chair Shirley Tokheim said it will not be in the board's Feb. 25 agenda.

The vote on policy revisions on bullying of "protected students," is near the start of the agenda for Tuesday's meeting – estimated to come up at 6:45 p.m. -- instead of being at the end of the agenda as it was Jan. 28.

An "Open Forum" period, during which members of the public may address the board about subjects not on the agenda, is scheduled to come up at 6:45 p.m.

Tuesday's public session begins at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom of school district headquarters, 25 Churchill Ave.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Do Not Cut the Mike Again!
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Feb 10, 2014 at 6:14 pm

I just hope they do not CUT THE MIKE AGAIN!


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Posted by How to keep your job
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Feb 10, 2014 at 6:26 pm

December 2012? Most districts wrapped this up six months earlier in 2012, when revisions to bullying laws came up. Kevin Skelly may present this in March, or 15 months after the OCR agreement to address the violation of a girl's civil rights. Mediocrity!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Edmund Burke
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2014 at 6:59 pm

The story states that: "After a year of crafting procedures that would have treated all students similarly, that proposal was pulled in January after Skelly said he'd been persuaded by teachers and principals that a single complaint procedure would be impractical and run the risk of escalating minor playground disputes."

This is not accurate. The district did not spend a year crafting a unified system of procedures. The district spent over a year crafting a two-tier system that would have had one procedure for protected status bullying, and another, less protective tier for other, ordinary bullying. What the district did was jettison that proposal in favor of a plan that retains the legally mandated process for protected status and has zero procedure for non protected status bullying.

What the board will approve on Tuesday is a requirement of zero process for bullying based on non-protected status. When the board cut the mike on Angela, she was attempting to tell them that she was bullied for being short. Short is not a protected status (outside of a disability such as dwarfism). As a result,. she would have been entitled under the new plan to literally nothing. No process, no procedure, no protection, nothing. If the bullying that she experienced was severe enough to merit suspension and expulsion, then the student accused of it could be entitled to some process protections but she would be entitled to nothing.

After tomorrow, the only protect that nonprotected status bullying will receive is whatever each principal decides to accord it at each individual site. There will be 17 different processes. If a child experiences some form of bullying and harassment based on a reason other than discrimination they have no process that they can expect to receive. They are in the land of "good luck."

I am not sure what Dr. Skelly plans to bring to the board in March. Based on what Brenda Carillo is circulating to selected members of the community it appears to be only a "values" statement (bullying is bad) but no administrative regulation and no procedure.


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Posted by Management please
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 10, 2014 at 7:09 pm

The bullying policy being adopted is essentially just an affirmation that the state complaint procedure should be used for bullying for minority and disabled students. That's exactly what OCR asked for over a year ago. Why did the board and Skelly take a year pulling the community into endless discussions and developing a comprehensive policy only to abandon it?

You can have lots of conspiracy theories, but I think it's simple incompetence. Neither Skelly nor the board can manage an organization of this size and complexity. Flailing around, pointless secrecy, outbursts like Mitchell made last week, are all just symptoms.

The idea that somehow a policy that applies to everyone will escalate every playground tiff into a federal case is silly. Teachers can figure out whether something rises to the level of bullying. But I think the board members actually believe it, so there you go.

The saddest part is calls from board members like Dana Tom for staff members to help them see the big picture. That's what board members are supposed to be able to do. Without that, you can't expect Skelly to spin that straw into gold.


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Posted by Resign you are a joke
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 10, 2014 at 7:27 pm

You have got to be kidding. This board is so screwed up that now they hold a retreat to complain confusedly about their own confusion. Dana Tom and Melissa Caswell complains that the staff isn't helping the board not to ramble and stumble around in the weeds? Here's an idea: Stop rambling and stumbling! Take responsibility for your own meetings. Wow. It's not staffs job to make sure you don't look like an ad for dementia medication which is exactly what you so look like by the way. You have no semblance of professionalism. You do not stay on topic. You waste the time of staff with pointless rambling . You do not vote. You do not follow rules of order or procedure. You repeat your selves talk in circles fail to keep time and don't care that it's the idle of the night. You ask questions that have no point and no answer . You do not operate like a government body. You do not have any accountability. You are a horrible embarrassment. Whatever the issue and whatever position one holds you have screwed it up. No one takes you seriously. You are worse than a joke. Skelly pwns you and he is terrible most of the time meaning we have no one. [Portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by parent2
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 10, 2014 at 8:05 pm

I think it has taken too long.

I'll be glad to see a policy for protected classes, and the district accountable for doing a better job with bullying of the protected groups.

Having seen the argument circus surrounding the one or two tier policy, I'm not sure who is right or wrong, or if there is a right or wrong.

I trust the sites and teachers for the shorty type bullying, so if a policy for non-protected classes is missing, we should all work with it.


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Posted by Resign you are a joke
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 10, 2014 at 8:06 pm

And it is hilarious that you cut the mike on a 12 year old who was maybe slightly off topic for 45 seconds . You are wildly off topic for hours. Can we cut the mike on you?


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Posted by Do Not Cut the Mike Again!
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Feb 10, 2014 at 8:32 pm

Resign and you are a joke,
I agree with you, I have been to meetings where board members and Skelly go so much around the bush that I wish we could cut the mike on them. At least it was the first time this girl this girl was at the open forum trying to make you aware of bullying issues at our schools, and she is only 12 years alod, but you (the board and Skelly know exactly what you are doing, stonewalling) keep talking and by the time you finish people got tired and left, so they have no time to participate on the real issues that deserve people's input. This new scheedule Now Open Forum at 6:30 pm, the time when people are having dinner? Is this so people cannot participate? It feels like it. Before it was at 8:30 pm, and you always went on and on, so people were not able to speak up, because sometimes open forum came after 12:00 am.


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Posted by The Scarecrow
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 10, 2014 at 9:44 pm

"What the board will approve on Tuesday is a requirement of zero process for bullying based on non-protected status."

Unfortunately for Edmund, what the board will approve on Tuesday is a required by law. Subsequent changes to deal with cases of non-protected classes will be dealt with by March as noted in this article. Edmund, it really is time to move on from your straw man arguments and deal with the facts.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peggy Duncan
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 10, 2014 at 9:50 pm

Peggy Duncan is a registered user.

I must admit that I am also confused by what has happened here. Had the objective simply been to comply minimally with the law, that could have been done a year ago (and I gather should have been done before that). Why did the district spend so much time developing procedures to cover children in non-protected classes and in protected classes, and then abandon it? If Mr. Burke's description is correct, what is coming next month is not a procedure, but a statement of values.

Much of the difficulty in the district seems to be a result of a lack of transparency, so that these changes seem like bolts out of the blue rather than considered policy decisions.


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Posted by How to keep your job
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Feb 10, 2014 at 9:56 pm

[Portion removed.] For the record, I don't want to throw anyone out. Skelly needs to resign. The board cannot suddenly rise to the level of competence, then reveal that they have no one to run the district. Charles Young could not perform the simplest of duties as the compliance officer, how on earth could he step in? It's time to figure out which local retired superintendent can come in and clean up. We have a lot of great students and staff, we've got some lemons, but PAUSD is still known for the suicides and now the OCR mess. We won't be able to talk about brand or lighthouse or our fancy gyms for at least a few years, regardless of when Skelly announces his departure, so don't bother cheering. The damage has been done and blame needs to placed squarely on the shoulders of this board. Thank you Leadership Associates for choosing Skelly in 2007 and thank you for facilitating last week's retreat. Your work soaks for itself and I vote to have you folks back to search for the new superintendent. Oh yeah, before we can do that, we still need to play along with the charade that we need to spend months if not years to send out copies of a new bullying policy because we couldn't simply copy the CSBA special and move on. Tabitha Hurley, why isn't the latest drivel about summer school making me feel better. Even the award for the Gunn library isn't doing the trick, even though it's worth $60,000, but then again the award is from Follett and we give them much more than that for outdated technology.


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Posted by Edmund Burke
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2014 at 9:56 pm

@Scarecrow

I do not know what you mean by "straw man" and I think you are using this term incorrectly. Regardless, I have some questions for you:

1. Why did Dr. Skelly and the board abandon the perfectly good 2-tier bullying policy that was approved by OCR and contained in the December 3 BPRC packet. That policy provided the legally required protection for protected status bullying as well as a site level process for non-protected status.

On December 3 this procedure was proposed. On December 20 it was abandoned without explanation. The community has been given no explanation as to why that proposed policy was summarily abandoned. Why was it abandoned?

2. How will what is purportedly to be proposed to the board in March differ from what was abandoned? How will it be better than what was abandoned?

The problem is that what the community has been given so far is disinformation. Both Dr. Skelly (and Chris Kenrick) have incorrectly misinformed the public that the reason the December 3 proposal was abandoned is that it was a single-tier plan that sent all complaints to the district level. This is false. It had a site-level process for nonprotected status. Yet it was thrown away without explanation. What will be better or different about what is going to be proposed in March?

Why it matters: Many tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars were wasted in the development of the December 3 bullying policy. Why was it thrown out, only to be recreated once again. What was wrong with it? What is being created now that will be better or different? The whole process has been wasteful and nontransparent.

That's not what "straw man" means.


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Posted by The Scarecrow
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 10, 2014 at 10:09 pm

Here you go: Web Link "You misrepresented someone's argument to make it easier to attack."
You are continuing with your straw man in the response. The article is about the board approving a bullying policy required by the OCR. That is what is being discussed. You don't like that you can't attack the boards effort in approving support for protected classes so attempt to change the argument. It' s also not dealing with acne or lice checks.
Give credit where it is due. You can come back in March if you don't like the proposal for non-protected classes.


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Posted by Peggy Duncan
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 10, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Peggy Duncan is a registered user.

I think Mr. Burke has the better of this argument. The question he is raising is why the board is not approving the policy that the district developed over the course of the last year that was already approved by OCR, and that covers all children. If I understand correctly, the board could have approved the present policy a year ago, or more. If community members worked on this policy, and taxpayers funded lawyer and staff time to develop it and to vet it with OCR (and other agencies, if I remember), why is it not being adopted? "The Scarecrow" seems to want to rule that question out of order, but for no good reason.


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Posted by Edmund Burke
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2014 at 10:22 pm

I didn't misrepresent anything. In fact, I am reporting what actually occurred and asking important questions about why the staff and board are discarding the policy that it drafted and paid good taxpayer money for that drafting process.

[Portion removed.]

I note that you are not answering the questions that I asked.


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Posted by parent2
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 10, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Edmund Burke,

The abandonment of the work done over the course of one year, around Dec 20, was due to teacher objection.

If you cannot confirm that in fact that is not the case, that's the reason.

To answer your second question, look to the answer of your first question.

But really, now that it has taken one year, let's move on.

Do you not trust the teachers and sites to deal with bullying of non-protected students?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Edmund Burke
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2014 at 11:31 pm

I support a district wide consistent procedure for addressing bullying complaints. Such a procedure would apply across sites and would ensure a consistent response for every child regardless of school attended. It would also guide the conduct and expectations of staff, parents and students.

My preference would have been to apply the UCP in all cases of bullying. I believe that there should have been a public, transparent, and community-wide inclusive discussion on the decision not to use the UCP for bullying complaints since that is the CSBA strong recommendation.

That transparent, community wide discussion did not happen. Rather, following private undisclosed communcation between unnamed teachers and "others" with Dr. Skelly the decision was made not to use the UCP for all bullying complaints and to offer lesser protection to "unprotected" children. In that case, I still support having a district-wide, clear, consistent procedure for complaints that will govern conduct at the sites.

Parent2 your comment does nothing to explain why we have decided not to use the 2-tier process that was already developed in favor of one that will be very similar but is being re-invented and re-drafted right now by district staff. What was wrong with the 2-tier policy that we drafted in December that was approved by CSBA, CDE, and OCR, and what will be the difference between what we had (and threw away) and what you are currently drafting? Having reviewed the Climate Committee draft, it seems substantially worse than what was discarded - -it is far rougher and less polished, has more room for error, and seems less professional. How is this better than what the district had, and why did we start over?


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Posted by PAUSD Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 11, 2014 at 12:20 am

On December 3, Skelly recommended to the Board Policy Review Committee (BPRC) a draft bullying policy (BP/AR 5131.2) that contained a site-level procedure for "nonprotected" bullying complaints. This draft BP/AR 5131.2 was in development for more than a year and had been vetted by district staff, multiple lawyers, principals, community members, the California Department of Education, the California School Boards Association, and the Office for Civil Rights. This draft BP/AR 5131.2 did not set out a "unified" system that treated all bullying complaints similarly. Instead, it referred all "protected" complaints to a district-level procedure (known as the UCP), as required by state and federal law, and left the rest of the "nonprotected" complaints to a site-based procedure. Because of the two different procedures – one at the district office and one for the sites -- this became known as the "two-tiered" approach. Which "tier" applied depended on whether a student was considered under the law as "protected" or not.

When the BPRC met on December 3, Skelly announced a change in his recommendation from what was being proposed (the "two-tiered" set of procedures) to a different type of "unified" complaint system (which was NOT part of any draft policy in front of the committee). The theoretical "unified" system would have used the UCP for all bullying complaints in accordance with what the CSBA had strongly recommended to its members to ensure consistency in implementation. At the December 3 meeting Caswell joined Skelly in that new recommendation of a "unified" system. But that approach never made it into any written form of draft policy language because the idea ran into resistance immediately after the meeting.

Skelly and the BPRC board members reportedly heard opposition to the idea of the "unified" system from some principals, teachers and the teachers' union. As a result, instead of simply backing off from that latest recommendation (for the "unified" system) and reverting once again to the two-tiered policy already drafted, Skelly decided to recommend instead throwing out the whole draft BP/AR 5131.2, along with its site-based procedure for nonprotected complaints, and go back to the drawing board.

Why that decision was made to abandon the entire already-drafted and vetted site-level procedure for nonprotected bullying complaints, as contained in the draft BP/AR 5131.2 presented to the BPRC in December, is still unexplained. Reasons have been given for opposing the idea of a "unified" system of district level procedures for all students. But why the whole site-level procedure was jettisoned, only to begin again on developing another site-level procedure, is unclear. What will be gained by a new draft is an unanswered question at this point.

In the meantime, there is no board policy or procedure in place for "nonprotected" bullying complaints. What will now be developed, and when it will be ready for adoption, are still open questions. For the time being, school sites remain without board guidance regarding complaint procedures for nonprotected bullying.

It is an understatement to say that this whole process has been confusing and difficult to navigate, as well as inefficient and wasteful.

For those interested in tracing the history of the past year of PAUSD's bullying policy development, see these past Weekly articles and editorials on the topic:

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by How to keep your job
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Feb 11, 2014 at 7:22 am

It's never been about bullying, but always about the leadership's ability to address bullying or any other issue. Despite repeated failures, voters narrowly reelected Camille Townsend in 2012 and the board continued 5-0 votes to support Kevin Skelly and Charles Young. You don't have a chance at changing the actions of these folks, unless you are a lawyer or the teachers union.


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Posted by info
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2014 at 8:58 am

Web Link "In the semi-final tally, Caswell led with 12,827, or 27.57 percent of the vote; Townsend was second, with 12,249, or 26.33 percent; Emberling followed with 11,182 or 24.03 percent and Dauber came in 916 votes behind with 10,266 or 22.07 percent."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by parent2
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2014 at 9:31 am

How to keep your job,

"You don't have a chance at changing the actions of these folks, unless you are a lawyer or the teachers union."

That's probably 100% correct. Scary too. It's Groundhog day on all major issues.

Not sure what point @info wanted to make, but the elections only matter to an extent.

The last elections were influenced by the absence of transparency on the OCR case. Dauber would have won if the broader community knew what we know now. And the campaign against Dauber would have had a harder time.

Not sure anyone has noticed, but to the extent that a board is weak, it is less able to serve parents. It will default on the wishes of the union or live by fear of lawyers.

Right about now, Skelly probably keeps his job because the union and staff still support him. We can moan and groan all we want, the elections is all we have, and then there is still very little power to influence the board, compared to unions and lawyers.

Edmund Burke should be appealing to the union.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by weekly reader
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2014 at 11:07 am

If people are objecting to the protected class category because it requires identification of mentally ill students, they should say so. But maybe this is not an issue.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2014 at 11:27 am

Is this why they took unlaning 9th grade English at Paly off the agenda? I thought they were voting on that tonight, no?


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Posted by weekly reader
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2014 at 11:33 am

How will the confidentiality issue be dealt with when LD students are bullied academically within the classroom? Anyone understand that angle and care to comment?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by More History on Bullying Policy
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 11, 2014 at 3:23 pm

More history on the topic of the bullying policy:

At the December 3 meeting of the Board Policy Review Committee (BPRC), Skelly presented a three-page memo that outlined the "history of where we're going," including a summary of input from the CDE, the CSBA and the OCR. The memo had been prepared by attorney Chad Graff with input from attorney Dora Dome.

The memo's section about the proposed draft bullying policy (BP/AR 5131.2) states:

"The District's proposed BP 5131.2 has been reviewed by OCR. It provides additional specificity in a few areas beyond what is provided in the CSBA sample BP 5131.2. Most notably, the District's BP 5131.2 provides a separate site-level grievance procedure (detailed in AR 5131.2) for complaints of harassment, intimidation and/or bullying that are not based on a status such as disability or gender that is protected by the federal laws that OCR enforces and/or protected in state law. Federal and state law do not require specific procedures for investigation of complaints based on non-protected categories. The District's proposed site-level grievance procedure for these complaints provides completion and a determination in an investigation within 15 school days and a right to appeal to the District Student Services Coordinator.

"Although OCR reviewed the District's proposed BP and AR 5131.2, OCR has acknowledged that it does not have jurisdiction over complaints of harassment, intimidation and/or bullying that are not based on a status protected under the laws OCR enforces. Accordingly, OCR has stated that is does not have jurisdiction over any investigation procedures for those complaints.

"CSBA's sample BP 5131.2 states that 'though some bullying incidents may not fall within the provisions of Education Code 234.1, CSBA strongly recommends that districts use their uniform complaint procedures when investigating all bullying incidents to ensure consistent implementation by district staff.' CSBA does not provide a separate AR 5131.2. OCR has not separately approved the CSBA sample BP 5131.2.

"Accordingly, a consideration for the District is whether to approve and implement a separate site-level grievance procedure for complaints based on non-protected categories as reflected in BP and AR 5131.2 or to follow CSBA's recommendation to use the UCP for those complaints also. Either option provides more than is legally-required for investigation of those complaints and takes steps to protect all students. The separate site-level grievance procedure provides basic provisions of due process for investigations and a determination in 15 school days. It would require a staff determination of whether discrimination, harassment or bullying allegations are based on categories protected under federal and state law. The UCP would allow up to 60 days for a determination, but the District's proposed AR on the UCP does allow for informal resolution at the site level within 10 days and interim measures to address the discrimination, harassment or bullying.

"If the District chooses to use the UCP for investigation of all complaints, it would require conforming changes in each of the BPs and ARs addressing these issues. As OCR has stated that it does not have jurisdiction over the District's investigation procedures for complaints based on non-protected categories, the District does not believe these changes would require additional review of the previously approved policies by OCR other than for the District to inform OCR of the process the District has chosen to pursue. This may, however, result in OCR reviewing the revised BP 5131.2, as OCR has exercised jurisdiction over the revised Bullying policy."

The above district memo made it clear that the two options being presented at the December 3 meeting were: 1) recommend the existing draft of the bullying policy BP/AR 5131.2 with its site-based grievance procedure for non-protected students; or 2) recommend revising the drafts to instead require use of the district-level UCP for all complaints (protected and non-protected), as counseled by CSBA.

Instead, shortly after that meeting, Skelly introduced a completely new third option: he advised taking both previously-discussed options off the table, and decide instead to begin anew the process of drafting a site-level bullying policy and complaint procedure for non-protected students.

Why Skelly eliminated both options under consideration on December 3 is not clear. If the district is deciding not to use the UCP for all bullying complaints (due to concerns about too much district involvement), then why not proceed with the December draft of the bullying policy BP/AR 5131.2 with the site-based complaint procedure for the non-protected students? What was wrong with the site-based procedure that everyone had worked so hard on, including multiple lawyers? Why not use it? The community deserves an answer on this before it is asked to begin again with other different versions now apparently in the making.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2014 at 7:18 pm

For all the conversations on these threads about taking action, exactly four people have shown up to speak at the board meeting at the Open Forum and about the harassment policy. It's easy to complain, but boy is it hard to actually do any work. Pretty sure that's why no one takes these forums seriously, thank goodness.


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Posted by How to keep your job
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Feb 11, 2014 at 7:43 pm

More than four have spoken tonight about various issues and all have been critical of the district. The Weekly was wrong, tonight appears to be the nadir. Among the low points:

Barbara Mitchell started the meeting by grabbing the spotlight by apologizing for leading the meeting past the 1am mark two weeks ago, but no apology for Angela.
Marielena spoke and chastised Mitchell and the board for their behavior last week and she asked the crowd and the board to stand at some point, the crowd did,the board did not, Marielena ended, and the small crowd clapped.
Others spoke and the crowd clapped.
Mitchell came back with her control issue and admonished the crowd to not clap because it wasn't safe.
The next speaker spoke and there was no clapping.
Ken Dauber spoke and reminded Mitchell and the board that clapping was reviewed last year and it was determined to be appropriate free speech.
After the next two speakers, the crowd clapped, Mitchell controlled herself.
Angela spoke and said she didn't care about an apology, but Mitchell gave her one of those fake apologies that begins with "If I offended you."
Marielena channeled her Bob Dylan or today's YouTube activists by saying nothing,then showing a series of cards in which she asked the board to end bullying, and mentioned Will.
Marielena told the board that she would use the rest of her three minutes to stand in silence. It was very powerful.
Skelly said they learned from the OCR complaints and praised the district for two complaints that went their way.

That's how bad this board meeting has gone. I end this as Heidi has literally caused the board and crowd to cringe with a story about her daughter, while Skelly continues to ramble on and make excuses about the lack of a coherent bullying policy.


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Posted by Pay attention
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2014 at 8:05 pm

Kevin Skelly has been on his cell phone during the meeting and has been caught on camera. I assume he is sending text messages, secret ones, not for us regular folks in the public. The faces of the board members are off. They know things are not right.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2014 at 8:11 pm

Dr. Skelly is receiving texts from me when the speaker cannot be heard. There also was an Amber Alert that several received, interrupting the meeting.


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Posted by Pay attention
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2014 at 8:39 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 11, 2014 at 9:04 pm

This school board, and Sup Skelly are a complete joke. 'Do what we say, not what we do' just about sums them up.


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Posted by How to keep your job
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Feb 11, 2014 at 9:06 pm

I'd actually like to see those texts, in the name of transparency.


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Posted by Nadir Schmadir
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 11, 2014 at 9:41 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Nadir Schmadir
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 11, 2014 at 9:47 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


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Posted by Yes He was Texting
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 11, 2014 at 10:20 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2014 at 10:40 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by How to keep your job
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Feb 12, 2014 at 6:54 pm

Some other lowlights:

Skelly was indeed texting while Marielena was speaking, it was disrespectful, which is why she and so many families seek legal action to issues.
Heidi's story about her daughter was cringe-worthy, but worse was her rant during the Board Policy Updates about her School Site Council experience. It looks like Dana Tom and Melissa Caswell were trying to steer her away from this trivial, almost unimportant portion of the board policies. They kept telling her it was optional.
Camille Townsend praised Heidi for her School Site Council experience, earlier she actually praised the board for its transparency, so basically her praise is empty at best, but more likely dishonest. Either way, Heidi has brought School Site Council experience to the board. That's all.
Charles Young was leading this part of the trainwreck and he was repeatedly saying "I agree with you" to the board members who were asking for minute changes. It seemd weirdly subservient, but then again, public speakers had called him out on flip-flopping on the support of the de-laning.
And Kathleen Ruegsegger has apparently broken her silence and posted to the Town Square. It is a fact that she was a board member in Pleasanton and it is a fact that Charles Young was an administrator in Pleasanton. Ruegsegger is back on the Skelly team and comments on the Town Square about her and her post seem to be fair game and worthy of comment, especially in light of her posting in which she makes an assertion that we cannot confirm.


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Posted by stasis
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 12, 2014 at 8:22 pm

"Dauber would have won if the broader community knew what we know now. "


Seriously? Dauber was 2000 votes behind Townsend. There was no chance of Dauber de-throning her even with the strong negative campaign against her.


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Posted by Disappointed parent
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 12, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Hmmm -- referring to "de-throning" is pretty telling. It reflects Townsend's sense of permanent entitlement to her seat for sure. She is now working on 13 years on a board when no one else had ever exceeded 2 terms. She clearly believes that she is entitled to remain in that "throne" in perpetuity. Dauber was only 1000 votes, or less than 2%, behind Emberling who has been totally worthless.

Last night in her only comments on the bullying fiasco -- and let's recall that she ran on bullying as her "signature" issue, Emberling finally broke her sphinx-like silence and told a completely irrelevant story that wasn't even about bullying. It was about cyber-safety from online predators. It had literally nothing to do with bullying at all.

[Portion removed.]


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Posted by stasis
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 12, 2014 at 10:22 pm

Emberling was not an incumbent. If the broader community had known about the OCR cases it would only have reflected on the incumbents. Emberling handily beat Dauber and there is every reason to believe if the OCR case had been announced before the elections, she still would have beaten Dauber.
In the end the best candidates one. Ken could never have overturned a 25% deficit to Townsend even if the OCR cases were known. His group's strong negative campaign against Townsend didn't affect her broader appeal then and it wouldn't now.
In fact the behavior since then have probably reduced Dauber's broader appeal. He has his niche, it certainly hasn't increased from there.


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Posted by Reality check
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 12, 2014 at 10:39 pm

There was no strong negative campaign against Townsend from the Dauber side, at least not one I noticed. There was, though, a strong negative campaign against Danger from the Townsend campaign. Mandie Lowell, wife of the Santa Clara County Republican party leader and billionaire Charles Munger, sent thousands of negative emails targeting Dauber just before the election. Lowell was Townsend cochair.


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Posted by George Orwell
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2014 at 11:43 pm

George Orwell is a registered user.

Bravo! lock the thread, silence the discussion.


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