Town Square

Post a New Topic

Abusive management practices in PAUSD

Original post made by A Concerned Parent on Jan 15, 2008

I'm a Palo Alto parent with children in elementary school and high school, and I'm appalled at what I'm hearing from my children and other parents about recent events in schools this year. There have been allegations regarding the treatment (or mistreatment) of school district employees by principals and other PAUSD administrators. These stories include details of abusive, confrontational, intimidating, and demeaning meetings between supervisors, teachers and other staff, which have caused tears, resignations, and bad feelings. What's going on?

Can Palo Alto afford yet another school scandal? Teachers reduced to tears. Employees criticized by groups of their superiors. Threats. This sounds more like a prison than a school system.

If there are new policies being implemented by a new superintendent and new principals that are creating this turmoil, then the School Board should investigate and make certain that the students aren't paying a high a price for policy implementation. I've heard that the emphasis is to "look good on paper." I'm not certain what that means, but it doesn't sound good.

Readers of this posting who have children in the PAUSD….please add your comments to this entry with a description of what you've seen or heard regarding this trend towards confrontation in our schools. We can't afford to lose good teachers and qualified staff to bad management or poor policies. And it's our children, the students, who will eventually pay the price for turmoil in the PAUSD.

Comments (19)

Posted by CluelessParent, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 15, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Can you shed some light on what you have seen / heard? I have elementary school kids and I haven't seen or heard anything about the implementation of new policies .. your post is more on the lines of a riddle.


Posted by jill, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 15, 2008 at 3:07 pm



I have kids in high school and middle school and I have no idea what " a concerned parent" is talking about.

I have never heard such allegations about PAUSD.

"Concerned parents" allegations are so vague they lack any credibility.




Posted by no thanks, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 15, 2008 at 4:40 pm

"please add your comments to this entry with a description of what you've seen or heard regarding this trend towards confrontation in our schools."
Is this a plea for public mud-slinging?


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2008 at 5:00 pm

I have one in elementary, one in middle and one in high school. I can guarantee that they would be the last to learn about something like this. If there is something going on, then I suggest you look elsewhere for your information rather than relying on gossip from kids.

I know that there are times my kids get the wrong idea about certain things going on at school, so take anything with a pinch of salt unless you find out about it from ways other than the kids themselves.

This sounds as if someone got the wrong idea from the way I read it.


Posted by another parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 15, 2008 at 5:41 pm

The only curiosity I can think of is the resignation of the last Duveneck principal, a gentleman who appeared to be doing a great job.


Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 16, 2008 at 10:50 am

I encountered substantial problems with the PAUSD over the past ten years, but I can't say that things have gotten any worse under the new leadership. It seems to be about the same. Callan = Skelly and Laurence = McEvoy. The instructional supervisors for Math, English and Science at Palo Alto High School have always held unchecked power and answer to noone for as long as I have been in the district. It's wrong, but that's the way it is here in Palo Alto.

I don't think Kevin Skelly should be pandering to the East Palo Alto kids. ALL kids should have the same level of support. Let's all remember that the East Palo Alto kids are here, in our now CROWDED district, under a VOLUNTARY transfer program. A program that would not be forced upon Palo Alto given current case law. The problem is that we have administrators at PAUSD who continue to squeeze more out-of-district kids into the classrooms of Palo Alto schools where there is no more room. It is my opinion that all out-of-district kids should only be admitted if there is room in the current classrooms for them. I believe the agreement reached many years ago even spoke to the "space available" issue. I think Skelly should re-visit this issue and make Palo Alto kids the top priority. Until he does, I don't have any more funds to give the school and will work to defeat any school bonds that come up.


Posted by tired of the "haves", a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 18, 2008 at 3:48 pm

Fine, stop contributing if it means you will stop moaning.


Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 20, 2008 at 9:21 pm

"tired of the haves" - What a sad and cynical person you must be to label yourself in that manner and to post as you did.


Posted by SkepticAl, a resident of Ventura
on Jan 21, 2008 at 12:55 am

teachers with unchecked power, answering to no one... wow, that's amazing!


Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 21, 2008 at 10:20 am

SkepticAl - It should be disturbing to you, not amazing. You clearly do not have much interaction with the department heads at Palo Alto High School. My understanding is that the new principal is trying to fix that situation, but it is going to be an uphill battle for her. They each have their own territory and guard it with their lives.


Posted by RWE, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2008 at 1:06 pm

While there may be some staff within PAUSD who are abusive to their peers, it's not a systemic problem. Most teachers and staff will tell you that PAUSD is a very good place to work.

"Concerned Parent" should be more concerned about the harm that outsized assumptions about PAUSD's workplace cause.

One of the constant frustrations of public institutions is outside interference by those who don't seem to know the difference between a situational and a systemic problem. The latter was well-represented by problems that appeared last year, on the Management Team. That was something worth paying attention to (solutions are being worked out). This situation is a blip, compared to that.



Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 22, 2008 at 2:08 pm

RWE - My comments are not assumptions. They are based on first-hand experience over the course of many years. Perhaps you should be more concerned with your assumptions about me and my experience level with the PAUSD.


Posted by RWE, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2008 at 6:46 pm

"Perhaps you should be more concerned with your assumptions about me and my experience level with the PAUSD"

Another parent who want to be Superintendent. Like I said, there's a difference between a situational and a systemic problem. Y


Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 23, 2008 at 5:13 pm

RWE - I certainly know the difference and you are mistaken. By the way, I don't want to be Superintendent. Do you? I wonder if you are a concerned parent who focuses on what is best for the kids or are you part of the problem at Palo Alto High School? Noone can tell by your signature.


Posted by What Now?, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 23, 2008 at 8:25 pm

"The instructional supervisors for Math, English and Science at Palo Alto High School have always held unchecked power and answer to noone for as long as I have been in the district."

As a Paly student, I have to disagree. I don't think the Instructional Supervisors have "unchecked power." I happen to know that they report to Site Council, among others. I'd like to see some sort of substantiative evidence supporting this statement.

Web Link

This article is about the changing of math IS this last year. There doesn't seem to be anything about massive power being a perk for Toma, just a lot of duties. Maybe it's just me.


Posted by RWE, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 23, 2008 at 11:10 pm

Concerned Parent, Rest assured that I'm as concerned as you are, but not so concerned that I'm tempted to intrude in small problems, or insinuate big problems where they don't exist.



Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 24, 2008 at 12:44 am

Okay, this thread is over a week old and I haven't seen another poster support Concerned Parent's view of what's going on.

Concerned, if this is a systemic problem where are the other voices? It's not like people avoid complaining around here.

And, no, I've not seen this, but I'm down in elementary land.


Posted by DLA, a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2008 at 7:34 pm

What are the problems at PALY? I've heard that the Math and Science are outstanding (programs). Would love to hear feedback @ their experience from current students or parents of. Thanks --


Posted by RWE, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 29, 2008 at 7:37 pm

"What are the problems at PALY?"

No systemic problems to report. There may be an "everyday" problem, or two, but they're handled well by staff.



If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Touring the Southern California “Ivies:” Pomona and Cal Tech
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 5 comments | 2,722 views

Chai Brisket
By Laura Stec | 4 comments | 1,938 views

Couples: Parallel Play or Interactive Play?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,094 views

Sometimes "I'm Sorry" Doesn't Cut It
By Cheryl Bac | 5 comments | 1,089 views

SJSU Center for Steinbeck Studies to Honor Author Khaled Hosseini on Weds Sept 10
By Nick Taylor | 0 comments | 684 views