News

School board to discuss semi-finalists for Skelly replacement

In closed meeting Wednesday, members aim to select finalists to interview

Palo Alto school board members will meet behind closed doors Wednesday, April 30, to review applications of eight semi-finalists to replace Superintendent Kevin Skelly, who announced in February his resignation effective June 30.

The eight applicants – four from out of state – have been pre-screened by a trio of retired California school superintendents who are managing the school district's search through their consulting firm, Leadership Associates.

Applications were sought through word of mouth as well as by advertisement of a "position description" developed by the board after it solicited comment from Palo Alto community members.

The board's task Wednesday will be to decide which of the eight semi-finalists to invite for face-to-face interviews with the board, currently scheduled for May 15. Public comment is invited at the beginning of the 10:30 a.m. meeting at school district headquarters (25 Churchill Ave.) before the board goes into closed session Wednesday.

After the May 15 interviews, the board aims to home in on a finalist, visit his or her current school district for a "validation visit" sometime in May and take action to appoint a new superintendent in June, according to Board President Barb Mitchell.

Mitchell said she is "working on releasing the community inputs with some minor redactions to protect privacy. There are quite a few from several focus groups and open forums, plus survey responses."

In its last search for a superintendent in 2007, the board interviewed three finalists before settling on Skelly, then an associate superintendent in California's Poway Unified School District who had previously served as principal of Saratoga High School.

Chris Kenrick

Comments

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 29, 2014 at 8:40 am

It would be novel, even possibly trendsetting, if the Board would release the questions, and answers, of those interviewed. It would also be a great thing if they would tape the sessions, and then release the video of the candidate that is chosen.

Given how much is at stake in such an appointment—it would be more than nice if the Board were to make as much information available to the community about the person chosen for this job. It would be very helpful, for instance, to release the vetting process so that PAUSD parents and taxpayers can see just how much effort the officials are expending in this process. For instance—they could release the check list that they are using to review each candidates background. They could also make public any questionnaires that they might be expecting the candidates to complete, as a part of the interview process (meaning the blank forms).

Making this process a little more transparent would not violate anyone rights—and it might make the community, at large, a little more comfortable with the final section of the Board.


Posted by Pray for Us, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Apr 29, 2014 at 9:03 am

Let us pray the school board and the head hunters use a better set of criteria for hiring a superintendent!!!


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 29, 2014 at 11:35 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Once again this Board is willfully violating the Brown Act by having these closed sessions which do not involve an INDIVIDUAl but rather a POSITION.

What are they hiding under the guise of privacy?


Posted by Huh?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 29, 2014 at 11:53 am

The board is meeting to discuss the qualifications of eight individual PEOPLE, not a generic discussion of the position for which these people are applying. At this stage, these people, who have not even had an in-person interview yet, deserve privacy.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 29, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"At this stage, these people, who have not even had an in-person interview yet, deserve privacy."

I disagree; here is the Attorney General's advice:
"Under the Brown Act, closed sessions must be expressly authorized by explicit
statutory provisions. Prior to the enactment of section 54962, the courts and this office
had recognized impliedly authorized justifications for closed sessions. (Sutter Sensible
Planning, Inc. v. Board of Supervisors (1981) 122 Cal.App.3d 813; Sacramento
Newspaper Guild v. Sacramento County Bd. of Suprs. (1968) 263 Cal.App.2d 41.)
However, that legislation made it clear that closed sessions cannot be conducted unless
they are expressly authorized by statute."
"Since closed sessions are an exception to open meeting requirements, the authority for
such sessions has been narrowly construed. The law evinces a strong bias in favor of
open meetings, and court decisions and opinions of this office have buttressed that
legislative intent. ( 54950.) The fact that material may be sensitive, embarrassing or
controversial does not justify application of a closed session unless it is authorized by
some specific exception. (Rowen v. Santa Clara Unified School District (1981) 121
Cal.App.3d 231, 235.) Rather, in many circumstances these characteristics may be
further evidence of the need for public scrutiny and participation in discussing such
matters."

"The purpose of the personnel exception is to avoid undue publicity or embarrassment
for public employees and to allow full and candid discussion of such employees by the
body in question. (Fischer v. Los Angeles Unified School Dist. (1999) 70 Cal.App.4th
87, 96; San Diego Union v. City Council (1983) 146 Cal.App.3d 947, 955; 61
Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 283, 291 (1978).) Accordingly, the Act provides for closed sessions
regarding the appointment, employment, evaluation of performance, discipline or
dismissal of a public employee. ( 54957.)"

"Care must be exercised to analyze the status of the individual involved in a closed
session subject to the personnel exception. If the person is not an "employee," all
action must be taken in public session."

"The courts and this office have consistently maintained that the personnel exception
must be used in connection with the consideration of a particular employee"

What is not clear about the LAW???


Posted by Spectator at Large, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Thank you Peter for clarifying the "LAW" It is important to note that the current board has ignored the law on multiple occasions. Nobody is above the law and given all of the missteps from the presiding Supt. as well as the board I would think that all parties would be interested in setting a new course which includes transparency. We the tax payers who will be paying the salary of the new Supt. deserve to know everything about that individual from day one. It would appear that the research done on the presiding Supt. (Skelly) was either not done or was not taken into account before Skelly was hired. Looking at his background prior to his being selected by the board to run our district one shudders to think that there were certain things about his background and the background of the district he immigrated for that would render him deficient in the qualities that a district of the size and caliber of ours would demand. I have always wondered why Skelly was hired in the first place. I have heard that he is an affable chap (not unlike George Bush) and would be fun to have a beer with but these are hardly characteristics that one should put high on the list of qualifiers for stewardship of our district. I hope that the board scrutinizes the candidates a little more carefully this time around. Perhaps it would be good if they could find an individual who has actually served as the supe of a district rather than just a number two man. I think that PAUSD is worthy of a top notch administrator with solid experience at the helm of a similarly positioned district as ours.

Good luck board in finding the best and most qualified candidate and please follow the law in getting to that place.


Posted by Spectator at Large, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2014 at 1:16 pm

oops! I meant to say immigrated from


Posted by paly parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 29, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Potential candidate (for any non-elected job) deserve privacy. Regarding the Brown Act "the most common purpose for a closed session is to avoid revealing confidential information ... that may compromise the privacy interests of employees".


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 29, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" that may compromise the privacy interests of employees"

BUT these people are NOT employees!


"Care must be exercised to analyze the status of the individual involved in a closed
session subject to the personnel exception. If the person is not an "employee," all
action must be taken in public session."

"The courts and this office have consistently maintained that the personnel exception
must be used in connection with the consideration of a particular employee"

What is not clear about the law?


Posted by Not a lawyer, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Apr 29, 2014 at 4:57 pm

From pg 38: Web Link

The Brown Act authorizes a closed session "to consider the appointment, employment, evaluation of performance, discipline, or dismissal of a public employee or to hear complaints or charges brought against the employee."

The purpose of this exception — commonly referred to as the "personnel exception" — is to avoid undue publicity or embarrassment for an employee or applicant for employment and to allow full and candid discussion by the legislative body; thus, it is restricted to discussing individuals, not general personnel policies. The body must possess the power to appoint, evaluate, or dismiss the employee to hold a closed session under this exception. That authority may be delegated to a subsidiary appointed
body.


Posted by David Pepperdine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2014 at 6:38 pm

It's hard to imagine getting a worse superintendent than we have today but I find myself wondering if this board might actually pull it off?!


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 29, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

If the past in any guide the board, operating in secret, will select a final candidate and then "approve" that selection in a public meeting with three days notice of the agenda.

And you wonder why this results in bad choices???


Posted by paly parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 29, 2014 at 8:00 pm

@Peter Carpenter - do you have an alternative to confidential discussions regarding hiring? Should all prospective candidates be forced to meet with the public before they are hired, potentially losing their current jobs? And just curious why an Atherton resident is so concerned about the Palo Alto school district.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 29, 2014 at 8:06 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I believe that any elected board should require candidates for their CEO position to consent to their names being made public before they are placed into the final pool.

The interviews may well be done in closed session but the results of those interviews should be made public.

"And just curious why an Atherton resident is so concerned about the Palo Alto school district." Simply because it is the PA school board is notorious for violating the Brown Act and it is every citizen's responsibility to insist that the laws be obeyed. The question is not why am I speaking out but why are you silent?


Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 29, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Since this isn't the first, or the thousandth, time a CA school district has hired a superintendent, it seems sensible to ask what the precedents and norms are. Do districts do it Peter's way, or the way PAUSD is doing it? Or do they do something else altogether? I'm more curious about that, frankly, than any individual's view of what seems "right" or "legal" (including myself!).

Does anyone have any data to share?


Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 29, 2014 at 9:26 pm

In part answer to my own questions, here's a link to the blog on the Berkeley USD 2013 superintendent search. Their process looks similar to PAUSD, as far as I can tell. There's no mention here of the names of the six semi-finalists (all were interviewed), but they do name the finalist prior to the final decision. They then do a site visit to his current district, enter into contract negotiations, and then hire him.

Here's the link: Web Link

What do you think Peter - is this different from what PAUSD is doing? Does this violate the Brown Act in your view?


Posted by Huh?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 30, 2014 at 12:14 am

I would recommend that only lawyers quote, and interpret, "the LAW." And be prepared to answer malpractice charges if they provide misleading, incomplete, or erroneous information to the public while presenting it as "the LAW."

Must every topic be so vitriolic? The airing of different perspectives is healthy for a community, but the combative, agenda-driven posts simply poison and distract from an otherwise educated discussion.

I too wonder why non-Palo Alto residents want to polarize and dominate discussions that impact only those who reside in Palo Alto. Seems like some are just looking for a fight wherever they can start one.


Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 30, 2014 at 7:49 am

The eight applicants are entitled some privacy - presumably most of these people are working in other districts and would prefer not broadcasting the fact that they are "looking around". I am surprised there are eight candidates - why would anyone want to manage a school district where so many parents are only focused on self interests? The system is in turmoil because there there is no balance between parent Rights and Responsibilities - it is all about Rights to get "get whatever I want". This is a place where parents would prefer to sue teacher/district over a grade rather than demanding more from their child. Good luck to the new Superintendent - you are bound to "fail" in this community and will resign in disgust.


Posted by Right to Privacy, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 30, 2014 at 11:27 am

I agree with Alphonso. 7/8s or even 8/8s of these applicants won't get the position. They deserve to have their identities remain confidential while they're being considered. We won't attract the best candidates to pursue this Superintendency if doing so would jeopardize their current employment and sacrifice their right to some privacy.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 30, 2014 at 11:32 am

> They deserve to have their identities remain confidential while
> they're being considered.

What about giving each candidate an option to have his/her identify revealed during the selection exercise? If a candidate has resigned his/her position and is actively looking for a job--he/she might be open to having his/her identify revealed. At the least, it might help in his/her job search by helping to get his/her name some visibility.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 30, 2014 at 11:38 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The citizens of Palo Alto will get both the quality of Superintendent and of Board members that they deserve. I can point you to the laws and give advice but it is YOUR choice - and that choice almost always happens by inaction of the citizens.

"Since closed sessions are an exception to open meeting requirements, the authority for
such sessions has been narrowly construed. The law evinces a strong bias in favor of
open meetings, and court decisions and opinions of this office have buttressed that
legislative intent. ( 54950.) The fact that material may be sensitive, embarrassing or
controversial does not justify application of a closed session unless it is authorized by
some specific exception. (Rowen v. Santa Clara Unified School District (1981) 121
Cal.App.3d 231, 235.) Rather, in many circumstances these characteristics may be
further evidence of the need for public scrutiny and participation in discussing such
matters."

Again, it is YOUR choice if you want more citizen involvement in this selection; if not, then be prepared to accept the outcome.


Posted by Sacre Bleu, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Apr 30, 2014 at 12:00 pm

I for one do not hold out a lot of hope here. The eejits on the school board hired the same company to find a new supe that they used to find Skelly [portion removed.]

I would have had a lot more confidence in the school board [portion removed] if they had learned from experience and prior mistakes and hired a different headhunter entirely, and then interviewed the candidates themselves, in person [portion removed.]

Incidentally, having three Harvard degrees can sometimes be a warning in disguise. My best friend's older brother, who is autistic, has three Harvard degrees. He is very anti-social and nearly non-verbal. The high tech company that hired him has to keep him isolated in an office by himself, because he does inappropriate things when in the company of others. [Portion removed.]


Posted by paparazzi, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 30, 2014 at 12:06 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 30, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

And I think it is just stupid for a public entity to even considering hiring a CEO that has not stood the test of public scrutiny.

But again, that is your choice.


Posted by paparazzi, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 30, 2014 at 2:16 pm

That's because you're using a public scrutiny argument to provide your validation overriding a person's right to privacy. There is a reason that you have redacted reports.
You don't get to know intimate details simply because you cry "Brown Act Violation". The Brown Act isn't there to provide you with titillating details it's there to provide open governance.


Posted by paly parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 30, 2014 at 2:32 pm

@paparazzi - thanks!


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 30, 2014 at 3:00 pm

> The Brown Act isn't there to provide you with
> titillating details it's there to provide open governance.

What titillating details are you talking about (for the second time)?

Given that sooner-or-later, one, or more, names are going to emerge from this exercise—at that time the former candidates' privacy will be no more private than a Google inquiry away.

Which brings us to a key question—why shouldn't the public know who the candidate(s) in the top three slots are prior to a final candidate being selected? With so much information on-line, and their being no clear procedure (it would seem) that school boards are required to complete to qualify candidates—why should parents and taxpayers be able to dig into any/all candidate's history at their current/former places of employment?

For instance—it would be interesting to know how many times a district has been sued while Candidate X was the Superintendent. It would also be a good idea to see if there were any labor problems at each of the districts of the top three candidates. And of course, it would pay to dig out all of the available student performance, and district financial data—if available.

There are far too many important issues here to be tossing the terms like "titillating details" about with something hard to back up the comment.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 30, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Report at the Conclusion of Closed Sessions
Once a closed session has been completed, the legislative body must convene in open
session. ( 54957.7(b).) If the legislative body took final action in the closed session,
the body may be required to make a report of the action taken and the vote thereon to
the public at the open session. ( 54957.1(a).) The report may be made either orally
or in writing."

Was there a report after this closed session? Does any Palo Alto resident care?


Posted by paly parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 30, 2014 at 3:55 pm

@Wayne Martin and Peter Carpenter - the last time you looked for a new job, were you required to have your name published in public as part of the interview process? How would your then current employer have felt about finding out you were looking for a new job by reading it in the news? The superintendent is not an elected official, they are an employee of the District.

There is a reason that the hiring process is private, to protect the potential candidates. I don't think that can or should change. That said, I don't see any reason why there shouldn't be a reasonable period of time for public comment once a new superintendent has been chosen. Some of your questions, such as legal suits against the candidates current and former districts, should be part of the process. And if you talked to anyone involved in Dr. Skelly's interviews, I suspect they would not have done anything differently.

@Peter - I'm obviously "not silent" I just don't believe that there are any Brown Act violations occurring in this instance. Just the expected level of privacy for potential job candidates, which obviously bothers you.


Posted by paparazzi, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 30, 2014 at 4:01 pm

@Wayne,
"What titillating details are you talking about (for the second time)?"

Why are you so interested in them?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 30, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" the last time you looked for a new job, were you required to have your name published in public as part of the interview process? "

I did that every time that I ran for public office - 3 times and all successful in large part because the voters were well informed about my credentials and opinions.

The CEO of a local public agency should not be "chosen" by the board in private and then presented to the public as a fait accompli. Your experience in Palo Alto should prove to you the importance of a full public vetting before an individual is "chosen",


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 30, 2014 at 4:14 pm

> the last time you looked for a new job, were you required to
> have your name published in public as part of the interview process?

I have never applied for a job as a school district superintendent, so no--I have not been required to declare myself a candidate for a potential job in the private sector. If I were to apply, I would elect to allow my name to be made public. If I could not do that, I would not apply.

The argument that I have been making is that people applying for this very important job need to understand that there is a lot of public trust involved, and that historically there has not been much public scrutiny of candidates--prior to their selection. Schools in California are actually a political subdivision of the State—so the level of "local control" that people believe that they have is quite illusory--stacking the deck against parents and taxpayers, at times like these.

As I have tried to point out--it would be very useful if the selection process were more transparent. The link posted by @Fred, pointing to the Berkeley Schools: Web Link
seems to demonstrate that some school districts are far more open in their selection process than the PAUSD. How many districts (in CA and nationally) actually are as open as Berkeley is an open question. Given how education has become so wrapped up in state control, and unionism, it's doubtful that many actually offer the same openness as Berkeley.

We certainly would like to know that each candidate was subjected to a background check, and that each successful candidate passed that background check. We also might even want to do financial checks on candidates. I agree that this data should not be revealed to the public, but I do not believe that they should claim that their "right to privacy" should prohibit the District, as their prospective employee—has no "right to know".

And by-the-way, this same set of arguments should be applied to any City Manager candidates, too.

Given the massive fraud, and malfeasance, in government—we need far more scrutiny of people in whom we place so much trust than we have elected to do in the past.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 30, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The first result of a quick Google search:

Web Link

The Fayetteville School District has received eight applications for the superintendent job, as the School Board reviewed the applicants Thursday night.
The school district released a list Thursday of the applicants, which includes three superintendents from Arkansas school districts—Robert Ross from Mansfield, Denny Rozenberg from Bearden and William Thurman from Cabot.
"This is our first opportunity to review the applications submitted, and we will see if we want to bring each person in for an interview," said School Board President Tim Hudson.
"For a school board member like myself, this is the most important thing we do," said board member Justin Eichmann. "We hire and supervise the superintendent. That's our main role."

How enlightened!


Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 30, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Thanks for sharing, Peter. What did you think of the Berkeley example? That seems quite similar to PAUSD.

Curious if you find examples in California, supporting your position or otherwise, esp. since you are claiming not just that there is a better way, but that "the Board is willfully violating the Brown Act" with its hiring process.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 30, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Fred - I think that the Fayetteville and Berkeley examples show that there IS an alternative to doing a superintendent selection in secret. I suspect that PAUSD kind find a lawyer who will assert that they are in compliance with letter of the Brown Act but I wonder if such minimal compliance is in the public's interest.

What does the board gain by doing this in secret? Nothing - and I think that it costs them dearly in terms of the loss of public confidence.

What don't they understand about the preamble to the Brown Act:

""In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the public commissions, boards, and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly."
"The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created."


Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 30, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Thanks Peter. On the Berkeley example, that looked to me to be the same as PAUSD - they did not announce the names of the semi-finalists that they interviewed (which I believe is what you objected to above, i.e., reviewing candidates and interviewing in closed sessions), but they did announce the name of the final candidate before hiring him. Did you read it differently? Or am I misunderstanding your concerns?


Posted by Board watcher, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 30, 2014 at 7:23 pm

If you are looking for Brown Act violations by the school board, you should really be looking at the series of closed meetings over the last year and a half about OCR, bullying, and various related issues. And the very large number of fully redacted documents on these issues that violate the Public Records Act. The fact that Mitchell and Tom are not running for re-election is surely a very good thing, but it does mean that they will never have to answer questions in public about those meetings.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 30, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"If you are looking for Brown Act violations by the school board, you should really be looking at the series of closed meetings over the last year and a half about OCR, bullying, and various related issues."

Those were all carefully described as Brown Act violations on this Forum at that time - and yet not a single Palo Alto resident challenged those violations. So why would the board now change its ways??


Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 30, 2014 at 8:24 pm

While it isn't easy to find search process details, here's the link to the description of Oakland's Unified's recently completed search. They also did a "confidential" process until naming a finalist.

I did find some districts in other states that seemed to announce multiple finalists - one in North Carolina, another in Colorado. So there are folks who go down that road. But it does seem like at least some (possibly many, possibly all) districts in California use a confidential process, which implies that doing so does not violate the Brown Act. There is the possibility that they are all on the wrong side of the law (only a court can decide that), but their lawyers presumably are telling them they are not.

Here's OUSD:

Web Link

To ensure we could obtain the largest possible pool of high quality candidates, the Board elected to conduct a confidential interview process. We realize this disappoints some, but we feel the tradeoff is necessary in order to recruit the finest caliber options for Superintendent. This role is too vital to risk losing candidates because they are afraid of jeopardizing current employment when their pursuit of a new job becomes public knowledge. Protecting the identity of those seeking the Oakland Superintendent position only increases our chances of finding the person who is best positioned to improve outcomes for all OUSD students and help us develop a school district worthy of this city and its children.


Posted by Gertrude, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 30, 2014 at 8:32 pm

Peter,
Don't be sucked in by "Fred's" intimations of innocence in his questions and comments. In his postings "he's" always demonstrated a remarkable alignment with and sympathy for the reasoning of our current board (in particular Barb Mitchell) and great insights into their knowledge and thought processes. An imaginative reader could almost see her lips move when reading Fred's postings.
I expect Fred will protest his complete lack of inside relationship, but he "doth protest too much."


Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 30, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Gertrude - I'm in fact just a outsider/parent/volunteer, I'm afraid, though I do follow events in town like many others. I've spoken with Barb Mitchell maybe twice in the past 10 years, and I do like her though I don't know her very well (that is, not at all aside from following board activity). The same goes for the other board members (except one who's been on for quite a while but I've never met).

I do think the Board does more right than wrong, and certainly more right than some of the other posters here think. But I am open to facts - if it turns out that the District does things wrong, they ought to own up to it and fix it. In this case, for instance, if it turns out other districts do "non-confidential searches," or have a search process that is otherwise quite different from ours, that is certainly worth knowing and paying attention to.

I imagine most people feel the same way - if we're doing it the way most other districts do it, then we are probably doing it ok. Do you agree?


Posted by Huh?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 30, 2014 at 10:37 pm

This thread has gotten silly. At least Peter acknowledges that there is no Brown Act violation, so I wonder why there is still a debate. The superintendent job is not an elected official, so analogies to "running for office" are irrelevant. Wayne Martin avoided answering the question about the last time he looked for a job, I suspect because the answer still would have been, "No." (Feel free to disagree, Wayne.)

I am not the biggest fan of our school board, but like it or not it is their job to find a new superintendent and I do not believe first round applicants should be made public or subjected to public scrutiny simply because some people don't trust the school board. The finalist, yes, in case someone knows something that is not public/obvious. But frankly, the idea that the general public (including non-Palo Alto residents) should all be part of the hiring committee so they can google the potential candidates themselves is bizarre, at best.

In a public company the board of directors vets and hires a new CEO and THEN announces their decision. They don't announce every first round candidate to all of the employees and shareholders and wait for them to google/dig/pry before they make a decision.

If the bottom line is that the residents of Palo Alto feel they cannot trust the school board to make a hiring decision, then the solution is to vote out the school board, not make the superintendent candidates public before they have even interviewed! Or, someone could propose an independent hiring committee that works with the board to vet candidates privately.

If the public knows of the final candidate and has an opportunity to opine before the decision is final, I'd say they should be happy - that would never happen in the private sector.

Oh, and I am not interested in taking a cue from Arkansas, although I am impressed at Peter's ability to find that nugget - that must have taken some serious digging!


Posted by Lily3, a resident of another community
on May 1, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Lily3 is a registered user.

For years I directed a unit in student services at the University of California, Davis. Semi-finalists for administrative positions including the vice chancellor, assistant vice chancellor and unit director were interviewed by stakeholders (faculty, unit staff, and students) at public meetings. Written feedback was solicited by the interview committee which subsequently made recommendations to the hiring authority. Semi-finalist candidates were typically employed at major academic institutions; however, they were willing to make their names public. Palo Alto stakeholders surely would benefit from a similar process.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on May 1, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Oh, and I am not interested in taking a cue from Arkansas, "

Of course not, they are just ( I know very well this attitude from others because I was raised in the South) "Southern Hicks."

"I do not believe first round applicants should be made public or subjected to public scrutiny"

You are not paying attention - these 8 are already the semi-finalists, not all of the first round applicants.


Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on May 2, 2014 at 7:01 pm

Thinking of cues, the following is part of a comment I posted on June, 2013 - Web Link:

"...
I found the following in one of the documents that were released after the Weekly exercised the Brown Act. I am quoting the Superintendent here, again:

'As I often say, the community and staff take their cues from us in terms of how they relate to each other.' - 9/2010.

I have pasted this quote, along several others here - Web Link

It seems to me that the OCR have found pretty compelling samples of the cues given, and taken in terms of - how to relate to each other.
...
"


Posted by Huh?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 2, 2014 at 10:30 pm

Peter,

Please do not put (your overly defensive) words in my mouth. I did not say, "Southern Hicks," nor did I mean "Southern Hicks." If that is what I meant, that is what I would have said. All I said, and meant, was "I am not interested in taking a cue from Arkansas. If you want to somehow tie that to meaning "Southern Hicks" that is your issue, not mine.

Why is it that often when someone posts an intelligent, opposing view to yours you respond with, "You are not paying attention?" Maybe you really mean, "You are not agreeing with me?"

I don't believe the PAUSD (or Weekly) has posted a definition of the various terms the Weekly has chosen to use to describe the candidates for the superintendent job, I only know that these candidates were described as not yet having had an in-person interview. As a hiring manager, I would call these people "first round applicants" since they are being considered but have yet to have a single round of in-person interviews (applicants typically go through multiple "rounds" of interviews, with the potential pool of applicants being reduced/weeded out at each round). Those who applied but were not chosen to interview would be considered only "applicants." I'm not sure why the Weekly refers to these folks as "semi-finalists," since it is odd to consider someone a "semi-finalist" when they have not even under-gone an in-person interview, but perhaps PAUSD truly only has one round of interviews, thus making these people both "first round applicants" and "semi-finalists." If that is the case we have probably identified a major flaw in the process already.

In any case, I do not think any applicant's identity should be disclosed to the public until they are a finalist, or even "THE finalist." Applying for a Supe's job should not mean sacrificing a current job if there is not a very strong chance of getting the applied-for job.

If we take control of the hiring process away from the school district and the school board, and insist on all applicants being public, we will soon find the only applicants are those who are unemployed and/or have nothing to lose by the first-round public job application. While I do not think an unemployed person is necessarily less qualified than an employed one, it would certainly reduce the number of (possibly) qualified candidates. And frankly, I believe opening the hiring process to he public at-large would be a complete zoo and be a major disservice to the district and applicants alike.

Let the school board do their job, and hope they give the Palo Alto residents a preview of the finalist(s) to gather any concerns or feedback. Whatever the process, I don't see non-Palo Alto residents having any part in the discussion or decision.


Posted by Not going to happen, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 3, 2014 at 3:45 am

This board cannot possibly do a good job picking a superintendent. I wouldn't trust them to pick their teeth.


Posted by Skung?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2014 at 6:58 am

Let the school board do it's job? The school board should have done its job in 2012 and not renewed Kevin Skelly's contract. The school board should do its job and get rid of Skelly's interest-free $1,000,000 loan and not make the mistake of offering the new superintendent one. It doesn't matter if the superintendent lives in Palo Alto or not. Did it make Skelly an excellent administrator because he lives in Palo Alto and did it make Charles Young an unsatisfactory one because he doesn't live in Palo Alto?


Posted by SPED Review Results? , a resident of Crescent Park
on May 7, 2014 at 10:17 pm

Is there a report from the California Department of Education Verification Review, Special Education Division's review of PAUSD's Special Education? It could be helpful in the Superintendent search.
Web Link


Posted by villlage fool, a resident of another community
on May 7, 2014 at 11:27 pm

Thank you SPED Review Results? for providing the link. The document you provided is dates to Oct 1st.

Is it possible that PAUSD Special Ed professionals were not aware of the Verification Review when talking presenting at the PAUSD Board meeting on Oct 8TH?
Here is the link: Web Link

This thread was locked, completely, fast. I still cannot understand the reason.


Posted by parent, a resident of JLS Middle School
on May 8, 2014 at 6:54 pm

The biggest problem with (for?) Skelly was the inability to recognize and ferret out the incompetence and slick back-biting among those under him whose actions he would ultimately be called to task for.

We are still saddled with all of those people. Unless a new superintendent as the confidence, energy, and desire to go way beyond the norm in restructuring, bringing in new blood and cutting dead wood, we're in for more of the same.

However, should a miracle occur and we get someone with those skills and a vision for the 21st Century, plus a willingness to capitalize on parent volunteerism, it could be a really good time ahead. Stranger things have been known to happen ...


Posted by parent, a resident of JLS Middle School
on May 8, 2014 at 6:56 pm

@Skung?

"did it make Charles Young an unsatisfactory one because he doesn't live in Palo Alto"

You're not implying Charles Young was anything but grossly unsatisfactory are you? Doesn't matter where he lives. Though if he lived here, perhaps he might not have so much disdain for our parents?


Posted by parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 8, 2014 at 7:53 pm

"The biggest problem with (for?) Skelly was the inability to recognize and ferret out the incompetence and slick back-biting among those under him whose actions he would ultimately be called to task for." HUH? definition of backbiting: verb (used with object), backbit, backbitten or (Informal) backbit; backbiting. 1. to attack the character or reputation of (a person who is not present). Who was doing what backbiting and to whom?

"plus a willingness to capitalize on parent volunteerism, it could be a really good time ahead. "
Are you confusing parent volunteerism (PiE, PTAs) with parent interference in telling the district what they should do?


Posted by Concerned Citizen, a resident of Esther Clark Park
on May 11, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Fred:

"To ensure we could obtain the largest possible pool of high quality candidates, the Board elected to conduct a confidential interview process. We realize this disappoints some, but we feel the tradeoff is necessary in order to recruit the finest caliber options for Superintendent. This role is too vital to risk losing candidates because they are afraid of jeopardizing current employment when their pursuit of a new job becomes public knowledge. Protecting the identity of those seeking the Oakland Superintendent position only increases our chances of finding the person who is best positioned to improve outcomes for all OUSD students and help us develop a school district worthy of this city and its children."

The reason Oakland USD's process looks similar to the PAUSD process is because both districts used the same recruitment agency, Leadership Associates. LA used the same pitch when recruiting the superintendent in Menlo Park CSD. South San Francisco USD used LA, but the Board rejected LA's strong recommendation to keep parents and staff out of the interview process.

Many superintendent's contracts include a clause stating that the superintendent must notify the Board if he/she applies for a position in another district. It is not about keeping the names of the candidates confidential to protect the candidates, rather, it is about keeping the names confidential to limit public input during the selection process.


Posted by Concerned Citizen, a resident of Esther Clark Park
on May 11, 2014 at 5:37 pm

Edit: "superintendents' contracts..."


Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on May 11, 2014 at 5:55 pm

@Concerned Citizen - thanks for that info. I tried to find more about South SF Unified's process - was that the one in 2011? It looks like in 2011 they did NOT release the names of candidates per the below article from 3/2/2011. Maybe they have done another process more recently, but I couldn't find anything on their web site.

Web Link

Two pre-selected candidates will be interviewed Thursday for the South San Francisco Unified School District superintendent position. On Thursday, the Board of Trustees will interview two yet-to-be-identified candidates for the position vacated by Howard Cohen. While it's unclear if one of the two will be appointed that night, Board President Maurice Goodman intends to have at least one decision that night. "We'll either finalize or go back to the drawing board," he said.


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