Town Square

Post a New Topic

Family says teacher breached son's privacy

Original post made on Oct 15, 2013

A family has sued the Palo Alto school district, saying they suffered embarrassment, humiliation, medical issues and financial cost after a teacher allegedly disclosed private medical information about the family's son.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, October 15, 2013, 9:03 AM

Comments (23)

Posted by Me, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 15, 2013 at 10:13 am

I would hate to be a teacher or administator in this place and age....being faced with lawsuits every time I take an action that disturbs a hypersensitive Palo Alto constituent. I'm guessing that some well-intentioned teacher was damned if they left the children exposed, and damned if they "humiliated" a family by separating children. To the plaintiff family: [Portion removed.] And how are you serving your precious "privacy" needs now that you've sued the issue onto the front page?

To our sue-happy Palo Alto families....where do you suppose the dollars come from to defend our district from your suits and pay your settlements? And what's not getting paid for with those dollars? And do you really want a public school system that has its teachers in perpetual fear of taking any action without first consulting an attorney?

Posted by David Pepperdine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2013 at 10:24 am

Based on its history of addressing special needs children and sensitivity to medical privacy, this district administration is clearly FUBAR.

Posted by member, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 15, 2013 at 10:26 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by wow, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 15, 2013 at 10:39 am

So nobody can make a mistake anymore in judgement, etc..... I'm sure that teacher had no intent to harm or injure. Lawyers are destroying this country, bottom line!!!! [Portion removed.]

Posted by Lawsuits for everything, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 15, 2013 at 10:41 am

Lawsuits for this??? PA school distrist allocate resources to take care of this..........

Please let go and everybody's life will be better.

Posted by member, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 15, 2013 at 10:45 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by iSez, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 15, 2013 at 11:01 am

iSez is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by Green Gables, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 15, 2013 at 11:16 am

Green Gables is a registered user.

Palo Alto parents have ALWAYS been very involved with the schools and everyone associated with them, and I've lived in this town for 45 years. So now there's a lawsuit; it goes along with the territory of over-priced houses and pompous, arrogant and over-bearing people.

Posted by Just Listening, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 15, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Just Listening is a registered user.

This is a waste of everyone's time and energy and funds. I have lived in this city since 1976 and have witnessed a turnover in attitudes. My observation is that generally people are so easily offended, feeling entitled and looking around for who can be blamed for each and every little thing. [Portion removed.]

Posted by just wondering, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 15, 2013 at 3:21 pm

just wondering is a registered user.

i'm confused. embarrassed? humiliating?
it would seem that 1 lawsuit should have provided lesson enough to prevent a misunderstanding of this nature from happening again.

Posted by Hazelvue, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 15, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Hazelvue is a registered user.

It is hard to be sympathetic to the plight of this family or child as having had their privacy violated when they put their young son on the Today show and attempted to capitalize on all the publicity they apparently wanted when they sued the school district. [Portion removed.]

Posted by Phil@PaloAlto, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 15, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Phil@PaloAlto is a registered user.

True Hazelvue, not to mention nine photos of the child in an article about this story in October 2012 in SFGate.

Web Link

[Portion removed.]

Posted by PA native, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 15, 2013 at 7:51 pm

PA native is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Oct 15, 2013 at 8:41 pm

village fool is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by Paly Alum, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Paly Alum is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by PA native, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 16, 2013 at 6:41 am

PA native is a registered user.

Hazelvue and & Phil are right. If I say anything else it will be deleted.

Posted by JLS mom of 2, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 17, 2013 at 12:59 pm

JLS mom of 2 is a registered user.

This was the predictable result of decisions made by Charles Young. PAUSD violated FERPA as well as other federal and stste privacy laws . The hash that Charles Young has made of various legal rules and mandates and his obvious lack of ability to understand and implement legal requirements has already cost the district hundreds of thousands in fees. This case is probably worth between 300k and 750K without fees.

The school board is simply abdicating its duty by refusing to insist that Skelly replace Young. This suit is the first of many. Hang on to your hats.

Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Oct 20, 2013 at 7:23 am

Alphonso is a registered user.

Nonsense, if a kid has a dangerous condition that might kill another student and doctor agrees then there has to be some discussion about it. Perhaps the first doctor overstated the risk, but there were clearly reasonable reasons for the actions taken.

Posted by JLS mom of 2, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 20, 2013 at 10:33 am

JLS mom of 2 is a registered user.

Alphonso no doctor ever said that the Chadam boy posed any risk to anyone or that he had CF. What he has is a gene for CF but no diagnosis. This was included in his confidential medical record which the district, in violation of federal and state law, released to another parent who was fearful and demanded that he be moved. This was probably a power mom/PTA leader. Then Charles Young brought his total ignorance of the law to the matter. Rather than saying "hey what the hell are you doing violating FERPA and the California Constitution, Jordan?" He said "Chadian kid has to go to Terman on the basis of the illegally released information," thus compounding both the injury and the damages. FERPA provided no private right of action but there are plenty of other ways to ski that cat and surely the attorney for the family has already filed (or will after reading this) a complaint with the appropriate office of DOE (the Family Policy Compliance Office) which will sanction the school district. Weekly that would make for some fascinating PRA reading.

So what shall we take away from this? The district needs a new compliance officer, probably in house counsel. Having in house counsel would have been a better investment than a PR officer whose job it is to explain away Young's errors. In house counsel would also be able to police the billings of FF and F, and prevent errors before they occur rather than clean up messes later. The district will continue to pay fees (our own and opposing counsel) and damages until we have a handle on the compliance situation. The district has not taken legal compliance seriously and treated it lightly which is astonishing when you consider the parent body here.

The total cost to the taxpayers of the Chadam and disability and sex harassment episodes will be in the millions.

Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Oct 20, 2013 at 11:31 am

Alphonso is a registered user.

And here is a more balanced story-

Web Link

The fact is the District acted on what they considered a threat.

Posted by JLS mom of 2, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 20, 2013 at 12:24 pm

JLS mom of 2 is a registered user.

Can you read? This story supports precisely what I said.the experts consulted by Today Show say that the district never should have transferred Coleman that he never had CF that there was no risk to anyone and that the family was correct. Charles sounds even more out of touch with reality than usual and makes no mention whatsoever of the Chadams rights and acts as if he is fighting bubonic plague or a zombie war.
Ka-ching. Your taxpayer dollars wasted by this dullard. Wake up PAUSD.

Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Oct 21, 2013 at 7:28 am

Alphonso is a registered user.

JLS mom of 2

You seem to be reading only what you want to read-

"An inherited condition, cystic fibrosis causes the body to create a thick mucus that clogs the lungs and can lead to life-threatening lung infections. About 30,000 American adults and children have the disease and patients have an average life expectancy in the late 30s.

While it is not contagious, doctors say people with cystic fibrosis can pose a danger to each other through bacterial cross-contamination if they are in close contact.

"In general, we would prefer that there not be more than one cystic fibrosis patient in a school," Dr. Thomas Keens, the head of the cystic fibrosis center at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, told TODAY.

The district's assistant superintendent, Charles Young, told NBC News that officials relied on medical authorities who said "a literal physical distance must be maintained" between patients and that the "zero risk option" was to transfer Colman.

They transferred him out of Jordan based on the information they had and then he was allowed to return after further tests indicated the threat was less than originally thought. Transferring a kid for a short period of time to what is probably a better school does not seem to be much of hardship. Clearly the school should err on overreacting in situations that might cause death to another student. As it turned out the District did overreact and now the parents are doing exactly what they are complaining about - overreacting.

Posted by MukhMan, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 15, 2014 at 4:14 pm

MukhMan is a registered user.

To "Me" of Crescent Park: regardless of what you feel about this lawsuit and the publicity, if you think that any teacher, well-intentioned or not, should get a pass for disclosing a student's medical conditions, special needs, or any other legally protected, private and sensitive information, I have choice words for you. However, I will refrain from using them out of civility. Obviously, you don't have a child in that situation, and know nothing about what such disclosure can do to a vulnerable adolescent. Every teacher undergoes training and has an obligation to protect the children. This teacher, if allegations are true, has breached multiple codes of ethics and the law, and deserves to be disciplined. Period. No one feels more strongly about this than other educators I know. It is a stain on their profession. You want to save taxpayer dollars? Send a message to Palo Alto teachers that they need to maintain professional standards and do their job. And tell PAUSD to care as much about students with special needs (and their families) as they do about kids they want to send to Ivy League schools and Stanford (and their families). I have kids who fall into both categories, and I can say that the district fails at least one of these groups. Guess which one.

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

To post your comment, please click here to Log in

Remember me?
Forgot Password?
or register. This topic is only for those who have signed up to participate by providing their email address and establishing a screen name.

September food and drink goings on
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,474 views

College Freshmen: Avoiding the Pitfalls
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 1 comment | 1,270 views

Camp Glamp
By Laura Stec | 8 comments | 1,146 views

It Depends... Disguising Real Characters in Fiction
By Nick Taylor | 0 comments | 423 views

Twenty-five years of wedded bliss
By Sally Torbey | 2 comments | 168 views