Search is on for new Paly principal | January 29, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 29, 2010

Search is on for new Paly principal

Jacqueline McEvoy's departure, and others, will reshape Palo Alto school district's leadership team

by Chris Kenrick

Senior teachers and assistant principals at Palo Alto High School huddled with school Superintendent Kevin Skelly this week to discuss the replacement of Paly Principal Jacqueline McEvoy, who last Friday announced her resignation effective June 30.

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Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be e-mailed at


Posted by Paly Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 29, 2010 at 11:37 am

It is really sad that a principal who dares to enforce the rules is driven out.
What is wrong with a parent who thinks their student has a right to vandalize property?

Posted by Downtowner, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 29, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Ms. McEvoy's departure is very sad. Her predecessor enforced no rules & was spinelessly lax. Even repeat exam cheaters were undisciplined.
Many students & parents apparently think that no misbehavior should have consequences. Hello, real world.
Big BOOs to Mr. Ross. The offer to expunge a 1 day suspension in return for good behavior was completely fair & would not have damaged any student's college entry opportunity.
Palo Alto High School has had serious problems with class cutting, misuse of cell phones (texting during exams), and other episodes of blatant cheating. (Unlike most other high schools, PAHS does not ban cell phones in class.)
I hope that the Board will bring in a principal who will continue to address misbehavior by the tiny percentage of budding sociopaths who disrupt the well-being & learning experiences of all the other students who show respect for teachers, each other, & themselves.

Posted by former Paly parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 29, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Sorry to see Dr. McEvoy depart, but I am not surprised. I am disheartened she was (apparently) not strongly supported by the district. She seemed direct in manner and an active principal with a lot of face time around campus, which impressed me. I agree with administrators like her who are fair and treat all students alike, whether wealthy BMW-driving or not.
The "egg wars" is complete and total nonsense, don't you know...
in the end, this does not help the reputation of Palo Alto High. So you got your egg wars...but what did you get...

Posted by Palo Alto Parent, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 29, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Congratulations William D. Ross, you self-serving blow hard. You have successfully weakened a school. The Board should have taken him on---he had no case.

Typical affluent above-the-law mentality. I am sickened.

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of Professorville
on Jan 30, 2010 at 8:44 am

Maybe the "law" that we should ALL be above is to allow the prison model to be the basis for how our public education system is run.

It's too bad this only happens when affluent parents with legal clout are more able to stand up for their kids against the kind of over the top "investigation", agenda, vendetta, etc.

I would love to know what the entire PAPD thought about them having to form a phalanx in front of last year's graduation in order to protect the public from the streaker danger? Did they feel akin to the last Roman Centurions protecting against the Barbarian Hordes?

Posted by Been There Done That, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 30, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Perhaps Mike McGovern can come home now.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 30, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Frankly, I'm relieved she's gone. Terrible fit for Paly. The students and faculty were treated with mistrust and a lack of respect from the get-go. The egg wars may have been the last straw, but McEvoy has made numerous missteps during her time at Paly. Didn't get the school culture, didn't take the time to understand it. Really classic management blunders.

Some schools need an authoritarian approach--best of luck to her in finding a place where her style is better suited.

Posted by Paly Mom, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 31, 2010 at 1:32 am

I agree with OhlonePar. Ms. McEvoy might have been right about certain things, like trying to ensure that drunk students are not able to get into dances, but her punitive, authoritarian approach to practically everything didn't work at Paly. She also pulled back and conveniently refused to deal with some situations that needed her involvement. Paly does need strong leadership; let's hope the administration is careful about whom they bring in this time.

Posted by Downtowner, a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 5, 2010 at 1:06 pm

OhlonePar expressed exactly the elitist attitude which is so objectionable to most teachers and school administrations in the comment "Didn't get the school culture, didn't take time to understand it." What's to "get"? Campus misbehavior is any act or action by student(s) which disrupts/interrupts teachers & other students from attending to the business of education. That's what our taxes pay for. It's part of a principal's job to see that daily teaching activities are not disrupted & to respond with some level of discipline that deters such future actions.
Believe me, PAHS teachers are sick of hearing, "but we live in Palo Alto. We're special." It's bad enough when the kids say that but when parents think it, it is a tragedy. Who will "help" their little darlings after they leave PAHS? Will it always be the current authority figure's fault if a (perhaps perpetual) child is ever limited in his expression?

Posted by A Palo Alto parent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 11, 2010 at 9:18 am

I think there was a mismatch between the community and the principal. From my point of view, she was heavy handed and omnipresent, even in my life, because of her constant fiddling with the daily schedule, which is already chaotic, and her "mommy-reminder" robot calls that come in from the school almost weekly.

A month wouldn't go by that at least a day's schedule would be changed by say, 5 to 10 minutes, or by changing a Wednesday schedule to a Monday schedule, and just to accommodate a small number of students who might be taking a special test or competition. One day she tried to alter the schedule so that classes were off by something like 2 to 8 minutes, depending on the period! Even the teachers protested, and it was returned to "normal" at the last minute, late the night before.

Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2010 at 10:12 am

Palo Parent

I am with you on this one, we had a difficult time these past 2 weeks as schedules were completely altered with no apologies and no consideration for those of us with outside school appointments which had to be altered as a result of their switching days and later starts and ends.

Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 11, 2010 at 11:31 am

Downtowner - the mismatch didn't just consist of discipline issues, one of Dr. McEvoy's first acts as principal was to halt a much loved history tradition, Mr. McGovern's reenactments, for "safety" issues. That was the first thing I remember about her "act first, find out the facts later" style. This resulted in a lot of disappointed students, but even worse, the loss of a beloved history teacher.

The Paly community, both parents and students, had been used to having input and information about changes. While the principal should certainly have the final decision, the lack of respect for and interest in the opinions of staff, students and parents was a real issue.

The constant schedule changes (such as starting school 2 hours later for some math test that) is another sign of her disrespect for the community she serves. Somehow the rest of our schools manage to start at the same time every day...

Posted by Midtown mom, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 11, 2010 at 11:48 am

"The constant schedule changes (such as starting school 2 hours later for some math test that) is another sign of her disrespect for the community she serves."

While a couple of parents disliked the schedule change to accommondate some tests, I appreciated it very much in this case when a good numbers of students are taking the tests.
And please speak with fact instead of just blanket statement such as "Somehow the rest of our schools manage to start at the same time every day...". I know this is false.

What bothers me is that the voice of complainers is usually much louder than the rest of the community. If enough parents who supported Dr. McEvoy speaked out instead of just kept silent, the outcome might be different.

Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 11, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Gunn had a later start on Tuesday also, but did not change their schedule for the Wednesday and Friday the previous week or Wednesday of this week. Otherwise, they start school at 7:55 every day, with assemblies scheduled at the end of the day on Tuesday.

You are right that complainers are always louder than supporters - for anything. But the only positive comments I have heard from parents about Dr. McEvoy were regarding reducing drinking at dances (of course, no one attends the dances anymore because everyone got breathalyzed, not just the students acting drunk) and being really firm about Freshman Friday pranks, which was terrific.

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