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Palo Alto superintendent Kevin Skelly to resign June 30

Original post made on Feb 18, 2014

Palo Alto Unified School District Superintendent Kevin Skelly announced in an email Tuesday that he will step down at the end of this school year.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, February 18, 2014, 1:16 PM

Comments (111)

Posted by Kate D., a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Best of luck Dr. Kevin Skelly! You have enriched the lives of all the students in Palo Alto and you WILL be missed! Thank you!


Posted by future former Paly parent, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 18, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Dear Board,

For our next Supe, please look not at where he/she got her university degree(s). Instead, look at his/her hands on experience all around, and decide from that only. Better a CSU graduate with an outstanding professional track record than an Ivy League graduate [portion removed.]


Posted by 100 parents, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 1:32 pm

future former,

"Dear Board,

For our next Supe, please look not at where he/she got her university degree(s). Instead, look at his/her hands on experience all around, and decide from that only. Better a CSU graduate with an outstanding professional track record than an Ivy League graduate with a controversial past."

DITTO


Posted by transparency please, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 18, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Weekly please follow up on the fact that the board has known this for a week. That means they knew at the last board meeting one week ago. Sweet Jesus what would have to happen to have public transparency in this supposedly public agency?


Posted by Songbird, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 18, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Hurray! Many of us have wanted him out of his job for a long time.


Posted by Finnally , a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 18, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Great! These are the best news. I guess the board is very good at keeping things secret. We were all waiting for the results of his evaluation. Who should be next?


Posted by anne , a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 18, 2014 at 1:58 pm

I just want to remind everyone that no person is all good or all bad, and that Kevin Skelly is one person in an office of many people. Yes, he is the leader, but think about your own company whether the CEO is completely responsible for every success or failure, or every action of every person.

I have my own criticisms of the district - in context of an overall very high regard for this school district - but they do not leave with Dr. Skelly, in fact, I am sad to see him leave. I have seen how even many of the good things he has done have gone completely unsung and he does not toot his own horn. In fact, our district can be rightly criticized for lack of transparency, but they are just as bad about publicizing what they do right.

I wish Dr. Skelly all the best, I thank him for his service to our community, and genuinely hope the good and the bad from this phase of his life contribute to a really successful and happy next phase.


Posted by Anon, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 18, 2014 at 2:05 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Bill, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2014 at 2:19 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Unfortunately, our current school board will select his replacement.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 18, 2014 at 2:19 pm

I hope Dr Skelly gets to take his Gap Year and enjoy time with family and friends. Maybe he can write a book. More likely he will have an immediate flood of job offers to fend off.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 18, 2014 at 2:34 pm

[Portion removed.] Now here's the next challenge. Finding a replacement. Why would a job seeker come here, given the adversarial environment you've created? We're going to get lousy candidates --- people who are being forced out of their current jobs. Want to go back to the days of Mary Frances Callan? Why would a bright and up-and-coming educator want to go to a place where they're going to be under constant attack by a last-place school board candidate and his willing accomplices at the Weekly?


Posted by parent, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 18, 2014 at 2:52 pm


I'm sicken by the people of Palo Alto right now. YUCK!


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 2:55 pm

I agree with anonymous. Why can people freely give criticisms of pausd staff but can not criticize the weekly or the Daubers's? (Where's the transparency, a familiar rallying cry!)


Posted by Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 18, 2014 at 2:56 pm

As to a replacement, I have no idea if he has the right qualifications on paper or the right experience, but I would love to see Scott Bowers in charge. He strikes me as the type of person who listens, is innovative, and is well liked by everyone I have spoken with in the District.

Getting someone who has experience in working in Palo Alto would definitely be a plus.


Posted by Me too , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 3:06 pm

@Parent, a resident of Greenmeadow
I totally agree with you! I too am sickened by the community posts on here. Dr. Skelly is a person! You may not agree with him but how would you like a whole community of people looking at and judging your every move? So many judge without ever bothering to get the facts straight. I wish Dr. Skelly good luck and I hope he enjoys his life outside of the eyes of the overly critical Palo Alto community.


Posted by Gunn parent, a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 18, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Why are you complaining about not being able to criticize Dauber? You just did.

The continued desire to shoot the messenger and circle the wagons, even after Skelly leaves, is just another sign that we need a fresh start. I'm looking forward to a new superintendent and new board members in the fall.


Posted by Anon2, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 18, 2014 at 3:09 pm

@Parent
"I agree with anonymous. Why can people freely give criticisms of pausd staff but can not criticize the weekly or the Daubers's? (Where's the transparency, a familiar rallying cry!)"

It's the weekly's message board. Why do you feel they need to be transparent? If you don't like the weekly's political views, then find another message board.


Posted by reflection, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 18, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Dr Skelly Was My Spanish Teacher At A Private High School In The East Bay In The Late 80'S. Nothing But Positive Memories. Great Sense Of Humor And A Role Model. I Remember Him Playing Basketball With Us. I Wish Him Luck In His Future Endeavors.


Posted by determinant, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 18, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Best of luck, Kevin!


Posted by Sigh of Relief, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 18, 2014 at 3:17 pm

My family and many neighbors are rejoicing in this news! We will now look better in the eyes of other districts in the Bay Area who scoffed at us for not ridding our district of him long ago. Thank god he finally showed some dignity and did the right thing. {Portion removed.]


Posted by ForTheGood , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 3:23 pm

I would like to thank Kevin Skelly for his work on making the district unified. He is the one superintendent that came in and took a look at the district as a whole. He quickly moved to make the facilities more equal. No longer were certain schools considered more important than the others. Sometimes people like to focus on the negative things and overlook the quality things that were accomplished.

As far as the bullying issue, it is important for parents to understand that bullying in the schools has gone on since the beginning of time. Does that make it right, no, absolutely not! We dealt with bullying issues fifteen years ago in this district at three different schools. To believe that bullying will stop because we get a different superintendent would be very naive. The issue goes a lot deeper than most outsiders know. How do you protect the bullied and still disclose everything publicly.

My best to Kevin Skelly for all that he has done for our district.


Posted by anonymous post, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 3:28 pm

"Why would a bright and up-and-coming educator want to go to a place where they're going to be under constant attack by a last-place school board candidate and his willing accomplices at the Weekly?"

Because this district has a tremendous amount of prestige and with all the perks, pays about as much as the President of the United States makes in salary.

Education administrators know what they are getting into. I'm not sure you're accounting for some of the office politics that Kevin Skelly acted as a lightning rod for, too, and those people are still with us.

I think one thing that would help reduce the "attacks" is an administrator who can create a more collaborative and volunteerist environment, as is being welcomed just now in East Palo Alto. There are many leadership styles, and too hierarchical or, on the flip side, too egalitarian, isn't going to work here.

Administrators also have to walk a fine line between being too chummy with the teachers and being seen as distanced from the parents, and being too chummy with the parents and being seen as distanced from the faculty. Skelly tended toward being on the faculty side too much, which set him up for a lot of criticism in a district with very involved parents. That's an asset with the right match. I hope the school board will think not just about credentials, but will work to figure out what kind of traits make a good match with this district. It will reduce a lot of the tension and battles.


Posted by Another parent, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 18, 2014 at 3:33 pm

I am so sad that Dr. Skelly is leaving. [Portion removed.]

Good luck, Dr. Skelly. Most of us, the level headed constituents, are going to miss you. Too bad the vocal minority made your life so difficult. [Portion removed.]


Posted by palo alto native, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 18, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Best of luck Dr. Skelly! We have been so happy with the schools here in Palo Alto. I think the majority of people
are happy. I am sure you will do great.


Posted by ForTheGood , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 3:38 pm

"I am so sad that Dr. Skelly is leaving. [Portion removed.]"

Amen to "Another parents" sentiment.


Posted by GHS Student, a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 18, 2014 at 3:55 pm

As a high school senior, I've been somewhat sickened by the vitriol posted by parents on this website, mostly about how terrible a job Kevin Skelly has done in his 7 or so years as superintendent.

Having spent all my middle school and high school years under Kevin Skelly, I can honestly say he has, on balance, done an amazing job keeping this district at the top. Palo Alto is blessed with top ranking schools, teachers with degrees from Ivy league-caliber institutions, and consistently high performing students. As students, we live in a pressure-cooker environment where those who achieve, (the intellectual elite so to speak), are provided amazing opportunities and teachers, while those who aren't in the high lanes are many times ignored or even looked down upon. I say this as a student with a 4.0 GPA and an acceptance letter from a top 5 university.

Mr. Skelly is at the center of a crazy balancing act–where the rightfully high expectations of Palo Alto parents are combined with a school board that is painfully blind to the realities of student life. Having attended multiple school board meetings, I remember once an *elected* member of the board did not even know the basic mechanics of standardized testing at our high schools, and when a contention for keeping the old school schedule was how it would overlap with parent's overseas vacations.

Yes, the District could have been more transparent about the ACLU investigation, but again, all but one of the cases were dropped, and furthermore, the fact remains that he took full responsibility for a mistake for which the fault was not completely his.

Mr. Skelly suffers from a totally off-base caricature that the name on his degree is the only reason he was hired by the District in the first place. Anyone informed of Mr. Skelly's work with low-income students in the Washington DC inner city, and his work in the Poway Unified School District would know that asserting he has no professional track record is completely ignorant. I've seen him personally take the initiative to connect with students, with staff, and his unsung initiatives, including modernizing and expanding our schools, helping out marginalized low income and minority students, and his ability to keep PAUSD on top, deserve to be emphasized.

We in Palo Alto live in a bubble, and Mr. Skelly, I believe, left a toxic environment that cares more about the college on top of our cap than the well-being of our students, and he did the best he could to change that. I wish our district the best of luck in finding a capable successor.

Sincerely,
A Gunn High School Senior.


Posted by Alumni Parent, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 18, 2014 at 4:00 pm

It is with sadness I learn of Mr. Skelly's resignation. He was a champion of so much in this district and had the interest of our children. I fear a very vocal and small divisive group led to this decision. I wish Mr. Skelly the best going forward.


Posted by Sigh of Relief, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 18, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Gunn Senior: have you ever met this Kevin Skelly in person, or attended board meetings? [Portion removed.]


Posted by gunn grad, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 18, 2014 at 4:51 pm

I have never personally interacted with Skelly, but I was pleased with the work he did as our superintendent. I cannot speak to his transparency, but I don't really care about that. In fact, I don't want to know everything that the school board does.

However, he guided PAUSD through some of its most difficult years, and did so gracefully. He accepted blame from time to time, and was always modest in his successes. I always have thought highly of him, and hope that the district finds another qualified and excellent superintendent. Best of luck to Skelly and his family.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 18, 2014 at 5:36 pm

This is the correct action to take. As a community member, I have been troubled by actions of this Board as well as of the Superintendent.
As a taxpayer, I only fear if he will walk away with extra dollars. What is in his contract??
I could never understand Dr. Skelley. This man was a mystery to me. I suggest not getting a Harvard (Ed?) grad next time.
Not being a "Haavahd" grad myself, I am not privy to insider-info in this district. But I do have a sincere suggestion:
I do agree with a post above, that PAUSD's Dr. Bowers be considered for the post - HE, by contrast, has always appeared to have good communication skills and to be a very capable administrator. He appears very knowledgeable about the district. I have not heard one word against him. Certainly he is a pleasant man - his character shows.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 5:52 pm

The superintendent of PAUSD deals with multiple conflicting constituencies: parents, teachers, school board, Sacramento, and a variety of other special interests and advocacies. Most of these groups, other than perhaps the teachers' unions, are often inconsistent in what they want.

In PAUSD, you can make an extremely comfortable living, and an even more comfortable retirement at a relatively young age, simply by being a genial and sympathetic person and being careful not to disagree with anybody very strongly. And especially by not having much particular vision, but by responding tactically to every issue. This is what "inclusive" has come to mean in PAUSD.

Kevin Skelly has been another nice guy who tried hard not to antagonize anybody, while he was granted a very large salary and now can live well off his platinum-plated pension and free healthcare for the rest of his life.

To the extent he had a vision, it was a focus on the struggling students, not in itself a bad thing; but in Skelly's case it was largely to the exclusion of all other students; as the Paly English one-lane plan, for example, would have done. PAUSD will seek another pleasant, inclusive person for the seat. And the long-term slide of Palo Alto public schools into inoffensive mediocrity will continue.


Posted by Anonymous post, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 5:57 pm

@GHS student,
I appreciate your comments. Unfortunately, you have reminded me of my main reason for not liking Kevin Skelly, which is that he is behind our expanding Gunn rather than renovating both Gunn and Cubberly at the same time. And having made that decision, provided no leadership to keep Foothill at Cubberly and renovating their 8 acres with the 40 million they wanted to spend.


Posted by parent of two alums of the district, a resident of University South
on Feb 18, 2014 at 5:58 pm

I suggest they consider Scott Laurence, who was a wonderful administrator in the district and now is Superintendent in San Mateo. He knows the district and he is such a good, competent person. On many issues I found him to be the lone voice of compassion, reason and knowledge. I'd love to have him back here at the helm!


Posted by GHS Student, a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 18, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Dear "Sigh of Relief"

I have not, in fact, based my judgement of Mr. Skelly based off his conversational mannerisms with you or other members of the board. As I stated previously, I have both met him personally and attended board meetings, which contribute to my positive opinion of Mr. Skelly and the lesser one of our school board.

I would like to pose a similar question to you, with all due respect. Have you spent the past seven years of your life, through middle school and high school, under the tenure of Mr. Skelly, as a direct recipient, beneficiary, and observer (as the core mission of a school district is to help students) of his policies and actions?

I will make the assumption that you have not. I respect your perspective, but the voice of students, which at the end of the day is the most important when looking at Mr. Skelly's legacy, is the one least heard.

So to "Resident" I say, of all those interest groups you mentioned, where are students? I am not naive to think his job is one dimensional, but to be sure, they are the first priority. And the school board as I mentioned previously, is at times woefully ignorant of us.

As a human being, Mr. Skelly connected with his students, in a climate where us students feel forgotten under the leadership of elders who are unaware of our reality. As said previously, he accepted both praise and rightful criticism with grace, and he deserves respect.

Sincerely,
A Gunn High School Senior


Posted by Hallelujah, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Great news! And please anyone but Scott Laurence, a career political animal, status quo proponent and utterly empty suit. He'd be great for the teachers' union but a disaster for the students!


Posted by Finnally , a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 18, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Not Dr. Bowers, please he is a lot worst than skelly. He has done so many mistakes, but they never came out to light. Actually he is the one who should go out next along with Dr. Young, and Holly Wade. And please do not even think about giving the job to Katherine Baker. She really did not deserve to be the assitant principal, but they had to do it, because parents did not want her at Terman anymore. There was no other way to get rid of her. I agree that Scott Lawrence might be better. Actually I heard that so parents were not happy with him at San Mateo School District. I forgot what was the reason for the petition. But at least is better than Skelly. Our super should have left at the first sight of descrimination against Latinos and African American Students, back in 2009, when he did not chose his words and spoke against latinos and African American students. Here is the link. Web Link


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 6:54 pm

@GHS Student

Exactly the right question.


Posted by Business, not personal, a resident of Terman Middle School
on Feb 18, 2014 at 8:02 pm

[Portion removed.] He should have been phased out beginning in 2009 when he made borderline racist comments about Latino students and also parents with doctorates. Then with Everyday Math and the ineffective response to the suicides, a search should have begun for a new superintendent in early 2010 at the latest. The board was negligent to not do this then and they appear clueless now as Barb Mitchell states that his departure is all his decision. I hope that is not true because this town is thirsty for leadership, the kind where there is controversy for the right reason. Skelly will have received around $2,000,000 in pay, benefits, and other perks like an interest-free loan at the taxpayers' expense. He did pretty well for himself in almost seven years, he has benefitted from Palo Alto quite handsomely. Now with his leaving, the board has a pretty simple task of calling up Leadership Associates for a new superintendent, which has a good chance to be someone who is connected to Skelly. How well do you predict the board will perform its duty? Do you have faith in them anymore? Skelly is part of the problem and his damage is going to last in the form of lawsuits and legal fees. But now what? Charles Young? Probably not, because Skelly has propped him up for almost three years. Scott Bowers? Almost, but not quite. Scott Laurence. Not even close. Don't cheer Skelly's resignation if you want to be mean that won't help students, but continue to demand the best of your board or send the, on their way.


Posted by Curious, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 18, 2014 at 8:04 pm

[Portion removed.]

Good luck, Kevin - you will be missed.


Posted by kudos to Skelly, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 18, 2014 at 8:05 pm


Well we may still have bullying happening at our schools but now we will have less bullying at the board meetings.

Good luck to you Mr. Skelly. Job well done! Sorry the minority vocal group got to you.


Posted by Business, not personal, a resident of Terman Middle School
on Feb 18, 2014 at 8:10 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Hutch 7.62, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 18, 2014 at 8:30 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Business, not personal, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 8:35 pm

Thanks for deleting my previous post, I didn't really like it. The following is more important. From a post I made in the Town Square in August, 2013:

"I predict we'll have announcement of a resignation by February by Skelly."


Posted by transparency please, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 18, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Skelly is an utterly ineffectual leader. He has not displayed the leadership needed to handle the many difficulties and crises that occurred. It is obviously not his fault that there was a suicide cluster during his time here. But his response was his responsibility and it was lackluster to say the least. When the community most needed reassurance and clarity, judgment and leadership, he provided Amy Drolette to mumble through a list of things that the district was already doing. He was defensive, refused to consider whether the schools needed reform (that was blaming him) and to say that he lacked vision would be an understatement. He lacked.

Rahm Emmanual says never let a crises go to waste. That is one of Skelly's many repeated failings. These crises were horrible but they were also opportunities to face our problems squarely, contemplate what we can do better (yes, I said it) and work toward that with purpose, drive, and vision. That didn't happen in the suicides, that didn't happen on counseling, that didn't happen on civil rights and disability, nor bullying, nor sexual assault, nor any of the myriad of issues we confronted during his tenure. It's been lost chance after lost chance.

If that OCR situation could have been more mishandled I have no idea how it would have happened.

I have no issue with him as a person. He seems like a good father and family man, and I have no doubt that he has many redeeming traits. This is not eHarmony so I don't care about that. This is a business, not personal issue. Kevin Skelly would have been a competent caretaker Superintendent. But when the shit hit the fan, he was not up to snuff. That's it. This is the right move, and it is not personal.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 8:56 pm

> Have you spent the past seven years of your life, through middle
> school and high school, under the tenure of Mr. Skelly,

Schools in California, at least, are governed by the CA Education Code. Superintendents, like Kevin Skelly, have little latitude to provide much in the way of "leadership" that violates, or mitigates, the Ed Code.

It's very unlikely that this young person's experience in the Palo Alto schools would have been any different under another superintendent. Skelly is personable, and as pointed out in another posting--was a class room teacher who liked to play basketball (presumably with his students). So .. it's possible that he might have actually be a positive role model for some students that another individual--who might have been less personable--might not have been.

The Superintendent is supposed to be managing the organization, not cheering on the basketball team. If we are going to discuss Skelly--let's do so looking at his organizational skills, and how he affected the whole PAUSD organization during his tenure.


Posted by Summing up, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 18, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Nice guy, not a leader. Combined with a weak school board, pretty much stumbling from one bad call to another. Never seemed to understand that critics are potential allies in making change, not the enemy. Luckily, 95 percent of what goes on in the schools has nothing to do with district staff one way or the other. Will we do better next time? With this board doing the picking, that will be up to luck too.


Posted by Fairmeadow parent, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 18, 2014 at 9:06 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 9:09 pm

I wish Kevin Skelly good luck in his future endeavors. I sincerely hope that he doesn't have unhappy parents gunning for him in his new job. [Portion removed.] I hope the new superintendent understands his response to vocal parents should be, "How high?" when told to jump even though he, and most others, don't believe in what they are saying. Otherwise, there will be no peace.


Posted by Fairmeadow parent, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 18, 2014 at 9:24 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Lying By Omission Never a Good Idea, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 10:18 pm

Dr. Skelly made his own bed or drove the last nail into his own coffin when he did not reveal to the School Board immediately that the district was in serious trouble with the Federal Government's Office For Civil Rights (OCR).

He took his performance review where he got his contract extended without revealing that we were in danger of being cited by the OCR. Because of his failures, we went on to be cited by the OCR. The Board had to find out about it when the story broke in the Palo Alto Weekly and when confronted with a point blank question about why he did not reveal this he said that he was "too embarrassed". That would have been enough to get most people fired or at least be put on administrative leave until things were investigated but somehow Dr. Skelly got a free pass from the school board that was extremely remiss in just giving him a tiny slap on the hand and moving on.

I really feel that Dr. Skelly is trying to save face. I think his behavior has been a disgrace and I can't wait for a replace. I am amazed at all the accolades that are coming in here. The facts of his many missteps speak for themselves.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 10:26 pm

Here is the Paly Voice article on Dr. Skelly's resignation. Interesting that the only person quoted is Ken Dauber. Web Link
Here is a quote from Mr. Dauber: "I think it's safe to say that it has been a tumultuous four or five years," Dauber said. "I think Dr. Skelly has put forth a strong effort. He's made some strong contributions and in some areas. I wish him the best. I would highlight particularly in terms of accomplishments the A-G graduation requirements, which I think was a really strong, positive contribution he made." No kidding it's been a tumultuous four or five years. Most of which has been due to the Daubers" and the weekly's constant attacks on the district. [Portion removed.]


Posted by Parent of a Student, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2014 at 10:36 pm

To the Gunn student, Very well said. Your approach and way of conducting yourself here is a good example for others.

Bob, I'm so glad you have pointed out that we don't need a Superintendent at all, nor a School Board. Problem solved.

Best wishes to Dr. Skelly. I thank you for your efforts on behalf of our students.

I hope we get a better superintendent than we deserve, and that he or she refuses to be ordered around by bullies.


Posted by anonymous post, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 10:38 pm

" does anyone wonder why the district came under such close scrutiny by the OCR? "

Whoa Nellie. The district came under close scrutiny by the OCR because they didn't even follow the the minimum standards under the law when it came to disabled and special needs students, and administrators didn't fix it when they were made aware of the problem. This wasn't splitting hairs. This was like going to check up on hospital quality standards and finding a morgue.

The law requires districts to have procedures in place for extending protections to such students, and to provide them a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. Districts are even allowed to write the procedures for their own district themselves. But there are some minimum requirements, such as they are supposed to actively identify and extend those protections to students who need them, as well as have the procedures available in a public place, and to follow complaint procedures (and apprise parents of their rights). Our special ed department didn't even know what a 504 procedure was when asked prior to the OCR investigation. Our district didn't even publish the procedures, either.

Regardless of how we got here, I think Skelly was actually the only one trying to fix things, so I'm upset he's the one leaving instead of Young et al.


Posted by Gunn parent, a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 18, 2014 at 10:38 pm

@parent

Wow, what a conspiracy you have uncovered. The Paly Voice student newspaper is in on it, since "the only person quoted is Ken Dauber". Actually, half a dozen people are quoted.

Dauber says that he thinks Skelly did a good job on A-G requirements -- so we can see that he's responsible for Skelly's departure. Dauber says he thinks that the whole community should be involved in the selection process -- so he's really trying to exclude everyone but him! Great detective work!

Who knows why Skelly is really leaving? Fact is, he screwed up the OCR investigation all on his own, first by not supervising his staff, then by not settling the case before a finding, then by not telling anyone about a federal civil rights finding until the press found out about it. Special ed parents are angry, he did a half-hearted response to the suicides (remember St. Marks?), the calendar was a disaster, etc.

First cast out the mote in your own eye. Shooting the messenger just makes you look silly. Ken Dauber is giving a generous interpretation of Skelly's contribution, looking forward to the future, and putting in a pitch for transparency. Good for him.


Posted by Gunn parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Gunn parent - you're right, I apologize, other people were quoted. What I meant to say is that Ken Dauber was the only community member quoted and I think everyone reading this knows that he is the most outspoken critic of Skelly. Of course, he was magnanimous in his victory of getting Skelly to resign. Yes, he praised Skelly on the A-G requirement, but only because Skelly actually concurred with Dauber. Unfortunately, Skelly didn't agree with Mr. Dauber on everything and if he didn't agree, then Dauber criticized him in the press. Clearly Dauber has tremendous access to the "press" (and I use that term lightly when referring to the Weekly). I can tell you that if the Daubers are not included in the selection process, they will do the same thing they did with the homework committee. You do the research. St. Mark's was a set up. There was no way on earth that the parents at that meeting would have been satisfied with any work the district was doing. Talk to me a year after the honeymoon period of the new superintendent is over. There will still be very unhappy parents who are getting what "they" want, no matter what anyone else wants.


Posted by Gunn parent, a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 18, 2014 at 11:16 pm

Sorry, parent, but your post to me exemplifies a lot of the problem with the Skelly years -- the Nixonian enemies list. It includes the parents who attended the St. Mark's meeting on the district's suicide response, Ken Dauber, the press, "unhappy parents", I guess the members of the unanimous homework committee...?

Ken Dauber praised Skelly when he agreed with him, and he disagreed with him and the school board when he didn't. That's called being fairminded. What would you say if Dauber didn't praise Skelly? I wouldn't exactly say that Dauber got everything he wanted. Remember Gunn counseling reform?


Posted by Food for thought, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 18, 2014 at 11:48 pm

There is no doubt Mr. Skelly made mistakes-ones he took responsibility for. Lets look however, at the factors that lead to this point. A man's ability to lead is also contingent on the people he is surrounded with. Unfortunately, a large portion of Mr. Skelly's job is to deal and function with the School board, which, by all measures, lacks the capability to support Mr. Skelly in his undertakings. With such lackluster aides, its a miracle he was able to accomplish so much. The school board has been conspicuously exempt from the conversation, and their ineptitude moving forwards has to be addressed if any real progress must be made. It is pure conjecture, at the least, to assume that under another supervisor the same amount of progress would have been made. We need to examine the whole situation, and from all perspectives.

To address a previous comment, yes, Mr. Skelly had no power to affect change over the ED Code- but that is not even topical to the discussion. So if we're talking about the PAUSD organization, as the GHS student said, we should be emphasizing initiatives that Mr. Skelly was able to affect, including initiatives to help minority and low-performing students. If we're talking about his leadership style, then his interactions with students, and his affable nature, as many *critics* put it, are definitely relevant.

Food for thought.


Posted by It's the Board, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:07 am

@Food for Thought
I agree with you that this Board has many shortcomings and probably the least capable in memory. However, I need to clarify the proper role of the Board. They are not his "aides", although they often seem to act as if they think that is their role. They are our elected officials with responsibility for the district's policies and oversight of the administration. They are the Superintendent's bosses.


Posted by Parent of a Student, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:28 am

I read Dauber's comments in the Paly Voice article and found them to be disingenuous. As one person who at every opportunity has worked against Dr. Skelly rather than seek ways to find common ground, it rings false for him to praise his efforts at this time. Dauber has turned our school district into a side show. Rather than practice what he preaches, he has cranked up the stress on our students by fomenting discord at every possible turn. We see what you have done, and I, for one, will never vote for you. If you manage to get elected to the school board, you will be subjected to the same scorn you have dished out.


Posted by Both, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 19, 2014 at 6:52 am

Skelly did a very good job. I'm sad to see him leave. Palo Alto is filled of a very vocal yet small minority of egotistic parents who complain and complain until they get their way. Sad, really.

The superintendent is just a role to play. Do not expect the next one to be any different despite whatever honeymoon period exists.

To stay for seven years is impressive. I'm hoping Skelly can rebuild and rebound from the experience.


Posted by Business, not personal , a resident of Terman Middle School
on Feb 19, 2014 at 7:03 am

The few posters who are calling critics of Kevin Skelly a small vocal minority sound a lot like Richard Nixon and his silent majority.


Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 19, 2014 at 7:28 am

Skelly should have been dismissed years ago. Worst superintendent in memory. Sadly, since this particular board will pick his successor, it's very doubtful the next one will be any better.


Posted by Proud of Bullying Findings, a resident of Addison School
on Feb 19, 2014 at 7:55 am

My most recent "aha" moment about Skelly was when he wrote a brag letter to the community about having "won" the latest two cases with the OCR. The OCR found that there had definitely been bullying and the two young kids involved had definitely suffered a horrible experience. What the OCR did not find was any smoking guns that proved that the bullying and harassment was definitely related to the kids' disabilities. The OCR had no jurisdiction to do anything further in the cases. This is what Skelly considers a victory? Really?

The school district expended a hundred times as much effort in defending their actions and lack of actions versus putting in programs and procedures to protect vulnerable kids. His strategy relied on legal maneuverings and intimidation - not constructive leadership.

I also remember his letter to the community after the suicide cluster. The main theme I got was that it wasn't fair that the district had to deal with it given how hard they worked. The same week that they were bragging on NPR about how they were bringing in experts to guide the district they were instructing their principals to deny special ed services to emotionally disturbed students.

Good riddance!


Posted by Recall election?, a resident of Professorville
on Feb 19, 2014 at 7:56 am

Maybe this would be a good time to consider a recall election for the school board? Get a totally fresh start?


Posted by "L" on the forehead, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Feb 19, 2014 at 8:32 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by transparency please, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 19, 2014 at 8:33 am

I cannot believe people are blaming Ken Dauber somehow for this. Is he responsible for High Speed Rail, too? Maybell Avenue? The Snowden disclosures? What wouldn't you people blame him for?

Kevin Skelly was superintendent for 7 years (a full term), during which time he did some good things but also made some very serious mistakes, literally none of which had anything to do with Dauber. He failed to tell the board that OCR had made a finding against the district. That alone was grounds for dismissal.

He spent a year and thousands of public dollars developing a bullying plan and then threw it away for no reason. Mismanagement at the least. He brought forth a proposal to de-lane at Paly, threw his own teachers and principal under the bus, and then shrugged. Mismanagement.

Not one of these things had anything to do with Dauber, who has led parents who wanted less stress and more equity for the past few years. The truth is that Dauber has been pretty ineffective. His primary issue was transparency, and that makes me laugh. What a joke this board has made of the whole idea of transparency. Other issues generated a lot of good discussion but did not go his way -- counseling, Math Letter, etc.

I think that Skelly and the board have not entirely known what to make of someone like Dauber who isn't advocating for his own child. Dauber is white and doesn;t have minority children but advocates for their interests. This appears profoundly puzzling in a district where parents will stay up until 1:00am to advocate that their child should get the highest lane in 9th grade english and should get it without lower performing students in the room who might dilute the content. Dauber doesn't have a special ed student but advocates for their rights not to be bullied while Katherine Baker stands around and does nothing. Maybe that's the next superintendent. It would not surprise me to see her meteoric rise continue. Dauber doesn't have a VTP kid but he recognized the Math Letter for what it was and advocated against that mindset.

He put his money and time where his mouth was and ran for office. He lost but he brought a lot of substance to the race. He should be thanked for being a good citizen and being willing to subject himself to criticism through the process of election -- not easy. Instead the howling pack of dogs on this forum have turned that act of citizenship into an act of aggression.

The idea that he, and not federal investigators, is responsible for Skelly's departure (7 years is more than a full term, anyway) is a purposeful distraction from what really happened. Skelly was not very good but he had enablers (PTAC, PIE, School Board) who made it possible to continue with poor leadership for such a long time. Unlike the outsiders Dauber leads, they did fine under Skelly and got what they wanted for their own children, although his (halfhearted) support for delaning shook them to their cores. Half a heart was too much on that issue.

The reason these people are distracting from that is simple. What we really need is a thoughtful reflection on what went wrong. How did we get such a poor superintendent and keep him in his role for so long even when the signs were there that it was a bad fit, and even when the damages and costs really started to rack up? How can we make sure that doesn't happen again? That is the analysis that the elite parents who supported Skelly and run the district behind the scenes do not want to ask. Better we should talk about Dauber, who has nothing to do with it.


Posted by parent, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 19, 2014 at 9:18 am


@transparency please
I can't believe you can't see the impact that Dauber had on Skelly leaving. You've got to be kidding. Why do you think Skelly is leaving then? You don't think being constantly attacked by him has anything to do with it.

It's sad that WCDBPA and the Dauber's got to this man. It's a sad day for Palo Alto.


Posted by JA3+, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 19, 2014 at 9:41 am

Kevin was a great guy: very personable with my family. I'm sad to see him leave. I wish him the best in future endeavors.


Posted by Wow, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 19, 2014 at 9:47 am

Kevin Skelly is a good man who no matter how you want to put it said "I do not need this garbage" and decided to move on.

[Portion removed.] Kevin is a good guy with a great heart.

WCDBPA [portion removed] wants to say schools are responsible for kids feeling pressure when schools here in Palo Alto are driven by the parents and vast majority of parents want their kids challenged. Yes it does take a village to raise a child but make no mistake, most important role starts at home.

I know without a doubt the next superintendent will face same issues because people like the Daubers love to see their names in the paper, makes them feel good about themselves.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 19, 2014 at 9:56 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Maybe this would be a good time to consider a recall election for the school board? Get a totally fresh start?"

This would only be meaningful if there were a number of more talented and more capable citizens who were willing to stand for election to the board and to then, if elected, do the hard work of directing a very challenging organization in a community with divergent expectations. And to do this with constant anonymous attacks from those who neither have the courage to step into the ring of public service or the good sense to support those who have accepted that challenge.


Posted by parent, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 19, 2014 at 10:13 am



OMG Peter.....love your words.


Posted by Gunn parent, a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 19, 2014 at 10:17 am

It's a little ironic that 'parent, a resident of Greenmeadow' loves Peter's words about 'constant anonymous attacks' on those who have accepted the challenge of stepping into the ring of public service. A few minutes ago, 'parent' anonymously attacked Ken Dauber, who has publicly stated his views and ran for office. Whether you agree with Dauber or not, he has stated his views in public and taken responsibility for them, despite a drumbeat of criticism from anonymous bloggers like parent.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 19, 2014 at 10:32 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Gunn Parent and Greenmeadow Parent - I invite both of you to step out of the shadows and to engage in a real dialogue using your real names - the community would be better served by an honest and open discussion of the issues.


Posted by Mom , a resident of Southgate
on Feb 19, 2014 at 10:41 am

Skelly, while a nice person, was not a leader, but more of an ostrich who preferred to let the system ride on its own. I wrote to him about an issue regarding child safety and while I was happy to receive an acknowledgement, I was disappointed with his pat on the head, stating it's not an issue since nothing has happened in the past. With other issues, he has preferred to keep his head in the ground too. He was bullied at an Everyday Math meeting by the proponents of EDM - they wouldn't allow him to run the show. Sadly, I was on the PTA Board when he visited, carrying a bunch of free food and made some comment about the free staff food/lattes on campuses (which, BTW, is a waste of $$). It was clear that the PTA was laughing at him, not with him. And he didn't even stay for our meeting. We need a leader who can analyze issues and listen to the parents and students, not just the squeaky wheels. Skelly was just a cardboard stand-up. Clearly a tough job, with all the snipers in Palo Alto. I agree we need to look at practical skills and not Ivy League degrees in superintendt and School Board choices (I mistakenly blindly voted based upon Ivy League degrees and regret it). Phil Winston was a phenomenal principal and he had a Hayward State degree. Top-tier college degrees are not consistent with competence in the workplace, yet this community fails to acknowledge it.

And yes, high school stress does need to be addressed - it's not just the parents - some teachers are expecting way too much from our students - workloads need to aligned instead of being dependent upon the teacher.


Posted by 35 year resident, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 19, 2014 at 10:41 am

If we could only get the city manager to resign......


Posted by 100 parents, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2014 at 10:47 am

Transparency please,

"I think that Skelly and the board have not entirely known what to make of someone like Dauber who isn't advocating for his own child."

Before Skelly, nobody even knew what A-G was, and the guy can sleep at night because he has done more about URMs graduating college ready than anyone in PAUSD. This single piece of real reform, which Skelly stuck his neck out for, will impact not only URM, but all students.

Dauber caught on about this much later.

With the exception of the legitimate OCR issues (not all of them were legitimate), and legitimate advocacy about stress and schools, the Dauber-press combination are incendiary about everything which the Daubers decide to comment about at board meetings.

[Portion removed.]

That's what can be made of Dauber so far. I voted for him, much more qualified candidate than Eberling, but it seems they are not that different on issues, for example the recent English proposal.


Posted by Parent of a Student, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2014 at 10:50 am

Gunn Parent, Ironic is an interesting term to use there. Although I am not the poster you called out, I too use this forum to make anonymous comments. I have children in this district who I wish to protect from retaliation and bullying which result when anyone steps up in the current climate. As a volunteer in the district I have been attacked and treated with the same brand of disdainful judgement and willful misinterpretation so often meted out by the Daubers. If the tone of the public discussion were not outrageously personal and negative, we might have the chance of productive outcomes. Anyone who makes a statement in public is liable to being slapped with labels such as racist, bigot, and their views dismissed as claptrap. I have seen this time and time again - the person under attack is misinterpreted, cut off, and dismissed. An example is when the teacher said that some students are unwilling to do the work. I believe that this was a true statement. Something that is true might not support the views of their opponents, however, to attack the speaker and dismiss the content out of hand is a tactic suited to academia but not helpful within a community with real problems, and the successful education of real students at stake. Because this is the behavior we constantly encounter, no reasonable person would step forward. It is bullying, no matter what nice sounding window dressing you put on it.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 19, 2014 at 10:56 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Because this is the behavior we constantly encounter, no reasonable person would step forward."

Sounds like you are prepared, to use Erich Fromm's words. "Escape from Freedom" and let someone else rule your life. Thank goodness our Founding Fathers had more courage than that.

As someone who has been in the public arena for years I can assure you that the anonymous attacks soon become nothing more than a painful reminder of how weak minded are the anonymous critics. Change comes from people who are willing to take a stand and work for change not those who sit on the sidelines and hide in the shadows.


Posted by parent, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 19, 2014 at 10:57 am


OK OK Peter
I take it back. I don't love your words anymore. Is that better?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 19, 2014 at 11:01 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" I don't love your words anymore. Is that better?"

It actually doesn't make any difference to me if you love my words or not - what does make difference is to have an open and intelligent discussion focused on improving the quality of our public institutions.

I just checked - not one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence was named Anonymous.


Posted by parent, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 19, 2014 at 11:09 am


wait a minute....you had to check


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 19, 2014 at 11:11 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"wait a minute....you had to check"

Just exactly what value do you think you are you adding to this conversation?


Posted by parent, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 19, 2014 at 11:21 am


yes it was quite off topic. but it gave me such a chuckle. and since I came to this post saddened by the news of Skelly stepping down it was nice to end with a chuckle. Thanks Peter for making my day. I'll step out now graciously.


Posted by Glad my kids have graduated, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Feb 19, 2014 at 11:38 am

WOW! It amazes me how people crucify anyone with whom they disagree or, God forbid, who makes a mistake. No one is perfect, but that is the standard that most of the critics here use to assess one's performance in a job.

You will be lucky to get anyone reasonable applying for a job in this hornet's nest! And don't even suggest Scott Lawrence, he knows what he would be walking into and he is happy where he is--I just met with him last week.

So, now that you have driven Kevin out of his job (as well as Phil Winston from Paly, and numerous others), you will hopefully get what you deserve, a puppet.


Posted by Andrea Wolf, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2014 at 11:47 am

Peter, thank you for your comments.
I really appreciate your participation in the forums regarding the Palo Alto school issues.
I think you raise an excellent point about people posting anonymously.

Parent, 100 Parents, Boscoli, Transparency Please, etc....

Why are you posting anonymously? I am truly interested in why you are making this choice.


Posted by 100 parents, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Andrea Wolf,

This isn't a symposium for pete's sake, as glad points out It's a hornet's nest.

If you have something to post to a particular thread, your comments can be taken for what you say, not who you are. Usually, I stick to responding to the the article or a comment from a poster, It's easier if I don't know who they are actually.

If what I say is illegal or offensive, TS moderator helps me out, but I try to stick to the issues.

Which by the way, this topic is the resignation of Mr. Skelly, not Peter Carpenter's lectures.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Note:"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."


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:08 pm

On the issue of posting anonymously:
I think we know why some post anonymously on children's/school issues: such issues are typically contentious, passionate, and have the ability to divide neighbor from neighbor. If merely posting a sign on my lawn for a particular school board candidate can result in a hostile semi-inquiry, semi-confrontation from a near neighbor, why should I feel comfortable posting here? Also, some parents have the definite feeling that they are excluded from the system and in order to have a voice and be comfortable, they take the opportunity to comment here.
"Palo Alto is filled of a very vocal yet small minority of egotistic parents who complain and complain until they get their way. Sad, really." - poster above. - Actually, PA is filled with a VARIETY of parents: some don't engage with the school system, rather their kids study outside via tutoring/exclusive prep schools ahead of the curriculum/high stakes AP, SAT tests - and such parents don't really care at all about all the students in the community; then there are a wide range of opinions/beliefs reflected by involved and busy non or semi involved parents.


Posted by Maya, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Good luck Dr. Skelly. wishing you and your family all the best in the years to come. Thank you for putting up with PA parents as long as you did. Find some peace.


Posted by parent, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Dr. Skelly is constantly getting bullied.


Posted by He's baaaaaaack, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:14 pm

[Post removed]


Posted by Addison parent, a resident of Addison School
on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:29 pm

It's astonishing that a man who misled the board and the public about a federal civil rights investigation is halted as a great man in some quarters. Skelly the victim of bullying? What about the child the district he led failed to protect? If I had handled my job that way I would have been fired on the spot and rightly so. Sheesh.


Posted by Bruce B., a resident of Atherton
on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Kevin: Hope you can live somewhere where they still have bowling alleys! As a member of the notorious Chilly Willys I will always recall the fun and camaraderie at the district bowling "competitions" at Palo Alto Bowl (RIP).


Posted by cpresident, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:35 pm

The whole house needs to be cleaned, including school board and some teachers. Tenure protection needs to be addressed as well.


Posted by PAmom, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 19, 2014 at 1:09 pm

My personal issue is that I sent Kevin two letters addressing serious issues in a polite, pithy way, and he didn't respond to either of them as district policy required him to do. Nothing. I heard from others whose kids had similar issues that the same thing happened to them. A competent superintendent would have responded respectfully and in a timely manner. I'm sure that there are other things he did well and that he isn't all bad, but for me personally I felt let down, as anyone would have.


Posted by Anonymous post, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Seven years is a long time, whether he was a good supe or not. Let's say Thank You, Clean House as the above poster aptly suggests, since now is a good time, and find a more positive way forward. I hope we will start with someone smart and strong enough to engage and work with our parents and teachers, not see even the most constructive criticism as a threat. I'd also like to see us engage a lawfirm with a different and more constructive ethos. Doctors who make mistakes gets sued for far less when they apologize and just take responsibility, but the lawyers don't get as much work. There's a lesson to be learned there. It's no good getting the king out of his seat if we do nothing about Grima Wormtongue LLP.

I've volunteered for years in this district, and have a pretty good idea of the range of parents we have here, so I see some of the snarky whining and outright attacks about the parents above as saying more negative things about the posters than the parents. I am constantly impressed by the parents and teachers in this district - and I speak as someone who can criticize the group think in the PTA with the best of them. Tension is necessary in human groups sometimes to get the best result. Please no more GO ALONG GET ALONGS in the district office. I'd like to see us bring in someone not threatened by strong parents and willing to roll up sleeves and earn the excessive salary and benefits we provide. But the supe is not God, and we need to clean house for sure, starting with anyone who has been on the board way, way too long.


Posted by Anonymous post, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2014 at 1:30 pm

Well, that wasnt very clear...

When doctors make mistakes, they are less likely to be sued, and if they are sued, less likely to have to pay nearly as much overall, if they just take responsibility and apologize, and fix whatever led to the mistake if possible. But lawyers don't make nearly as much money. We would do well to learn that lesson. From personal experience, we have the kind of legal advice that would lead us into expensive and adversarial litigation. Not appropriate for a school district, and not a good fit if we want the best and cheapest path for our families. This should be a big part of our housecleaning.


Posted by David Pepperdine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2014 at 2:00 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Noel, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 19, 2014 at 2:15 pm

I can only imagine how horrible it eventually becomes serving as Superintendent for PAUSD. It is impossible to meet everyone's agenda and it is only a matter of time before groups coalesce to excoriate you and bring you down for some perceived failing or another. My own experiences with Kevin Skelly were always positive. If nothing else, he is a very decent person who does not deserve the vitriol of some of the postings here. We, as a community, need to treat our public servants with a bit more civility and respect.


Posted by Board Observer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Addison Parent:

I couldn't agree with you more, "It's astonishing that a man who misled the board and the public about a federal civil rights investigation is halted as a great man" in some quarters. Skelly the victim of bullying? What about the child the district he led failed to protect? If I had handled my job that way I would have been fired on the spot and rightly so."

When the coalition of parents groups hosted the OCR attorneys at Ohlone School the PAUSD backed out as a sponsor and then Kevin and Camille came and sat in the back row (coming in very late I might add) and effectively caused many parents who may have been fearful of retaliation to not ask their questions. That is a form of bullying I might add if one wants to stretch the definition like so many folks on this forum are doing.

I don't get all of these folks (who I think are a small of group of the same posters) who cry foul on the treatment of Kevin Skelly. His behavior and missteps do not warrant any kind of praise. Yes, he may have done a few good things during his tenure (as has been acknowledged by Ken Dauber and others who are aligned with his repeated requests to change certain key parts of the way the district and board operates. The Board is equally or more to blame for not holding Skelly accountable for his actions. "I was too embarrassed" is not a good enough reason for concealing a very HUGE fact from the board as well as the public that they were elected by to serve.

I am totally baffled about how the Board has just set there like a bunch of spineless jelly fish failing to hold Skelly accountable to carry out their mandates.

Skelly can use his "gap year" to figure out how his experience of not behaving properly can benefit others. I am sure that he will have lots of soul searching to do to figure out what motivated him to do so many things that caused his own demise. I have my ideas about that but then again, they are only my ideas.

I am happy that we have someone like Ken Dauber and his committee of concerned parents who are willing to do what needs to be done to change things for the better for ALL of the children in our district. I hope that Ken will be willing to step up to the plate and run for school board during the next election. I have appreciated his thoughtful comments at the school board meetings that I have tuned into.

On the other hand, the disgraceful performance a couple of weeks ago with the, "cut the mike" performance by Barb Mitchell must never be repeated again. It's time to be open and transparent and the sooner the better.

I do not feel the least bit sorry for Skelly. He made his own bed aided and abetted by the Board.

Let this beginning of the change we need to see for the sake of ALL the kids in our district. They deserve better.


Posted by transparency please, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 19, 2014 at 2:56 pm

"Marielena Gaona Mendoza, a former district parent who believes minority and low-income children have routinely faced stereotyping and discrimination by school personnel, called Skelly's resignation "news that we were longing for and it finally happened.

"Hopefully the next super is not afraid to talk to the principals and let them know when they are failing our kids and improve our counseling system and special education for Latino students," Mendoza said."

Can't CUT THE MIKE now! best. quote. ever.


Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of Professorville
on Feb 19, 2014 at 3:19 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of Professorville
on Feb 19, 2014 at 3:23 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 19, 2014 at 3:37 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by transparency please, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 19, 2014 at 4:44 pm

It's obvious where all this hating on Dauber is coming from -- just read today's Post where high stress advocate Mandy Lowell Munger, wife of the County Republican Chairman Charlie Munger, Jr., who strongly opposes any effort on social emotional health whatsoever says this ""Hiring a new superintendent based on the demands of on strong interest group would be a disaster in Palo Alto."

Let's take this apart. Munger spent a lot of her husband's [inherited] money going after Dauber and supporting Townsend in the last election, running a direct mail mill against him because she disagreed with his views on academic stress. What is she saying here? Is there any danger at all that the entire superintendent hiring process would be"based on the demands" of "one group" could even occur? Is there any sign that it could ever happen? Who hires the superintendent? The board. Maybe, and this is a giant maybe, the board will listen to the feedback of a broad cross section of the community, conduct a parent survey, have some focus groups, or whatever. Would there ever be a situation even possible in which somehow that would be dominated by "one group"?

And, is there any kind of "disaster" on the horizon for schools with the highest level of funding, a private education foundation, the highest teacher pay, and bond measures up the bazooka? Obviously not. But in Munger's broken, sad little world, one thin time for minorities or students who struggle or the disabled is a waste. If it isn't bumping test scores, winning prizes, or getting us in US News you might as well light it on fire.

Where has Munger been during the bullying and OCR controversy? She certainly comes out to comment on school issues on a frequent basis whenever someone needs to praise Cesar. Where has she been during the OCR mess, the lack of transparency, the "ooops I blew it," the rape culture at her own daughter's high school? She loves to comment on the schools. Just not on what is really happening. Whenever anyone anywhere needs a quote about how bad Ken Dauber's ideas are because he would be a "disaster" (the exactly word she used about him in 2012) she is Johnny on the Spot with her Republican values.

Obviously there is a concerted effort to spin Skelly's departure as Ken's fault. Dana Tom was careful to say his departure "might" be based on criticism. Or it might be based on the fact that he's incompetent and you gave him a bad eval. Now Munger flies in on her broomstick to say that we have to be careful not to even consider stress or equity in considering the next super, or that would be a "disaster."

And the howling dogs of hell on this forum seem very united in trying to message that somehow it's the fault of this random person who basically all he does is say what he thinks in no special capacity other than that of a citizen has run Skelly out of town. Would that it was that easy. Plenty of people think that Skelly was an actual "disaster," not a fake concocted Republican one.


Posted by Former PAUSD Principal, a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Some things never change in Palo Alto. I worked in Palo Alto Schools for a decade and know the extraordinary "heat" and constant scrutiny it's employees are under on a daily basis. I worked with Don Phillips, MF Callan and Kevin Skelley as my boss. Kevin is a good man who deserves more respect and appreciation than many of you entitled elitists are willing to give him. Being a successful superintendent in such a demanding community in next to impossible. Jesus Christ himself would not be good enough for some Palo Alto folks. Don Phillips was an inspiring and visionary leader but got the hell out after a rather short tenure. Mary Frances was a bright woman but manipulative, dangerous, narcisistic, and a bully. She was a politician without an election. She did her best, I suppose, but created such chaos and mistrust amongst the administrators and her cabinet that the heat eventually got to her and she left. Her tenure was a bit of a disaster. Does anyone else remember this? How short and selective the memories. Kevin came in and repaired many wounds and did some amazing work along the way. He is not perfect but give the guy a break. He has no doubt been looking for other options for quite some time. Imagine that. I know first hand what it is to be a school site leader in Palo Alto schools. Imagine being the Superintendent. It's not pretty. All the naysayers can now line up to take your shot at the next superintendent.


Posted by George Orwell, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 19, 2014 at 5:05 pm

George Orwell is a registered user.

Bravo! lock the thread, silence the discussion.


Posted by Anonymous22, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Anonymous22 is a registered user.

Wow, a lot of dumping on parents. As a long-time volunteer in this district, I have really been struck by how caring and involved the parents in this district are, which is usually a good thing.

I have usually only found such vitriol against parents among some personnel -- and the strength of the animosity is usually strongly and inversely proportional to the effectiveness and competence of said personnel.

Unfortunately, some of our board members hold such attitudes, which makes me wonder why they continue to "serve". Sometimes change is a good thing, regardless of whether it's been a good or bad tenure.

We pay our district super more than many university presidents. It's a plum job. If it were so bad, why hang around for 7 years?

I have my doubts that many of the above posters are who they portray themselves as, since I have never in all my years here seen such poisonous attitudes expressed among even arguing parents in PTAs. Such bad attitude towards parents is not a recipe for success.

An important trait in our new super, in addition to honest and integrity, would be an energy and interest in working with parents and teachers. And a better attitude toward people than expressed above.


Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on Feb 19, 2014 at 7:31 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

GHS Student,

You are clearly the most level-headed, fair-minded, compassionate, and articulate person in this conversation. I wish you well in your senior year, and the future.


Posted by JLS mom of 2, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Feb 20, 2014 at 3:49 pm

JLS mom of 2 is a registered user.

Kevin Skelly has no one but himself to blame for his departure from PAUSD. To try to blame this on anyone else is transparently ridiculous and just appears to be one more instance of his not taking responsibility for his own failings. If anyone ever seemed responsible for his own issues, it is Kevin Skelly and he will have to address that, perhaps in his taxpayer funded "gap year" from his taxpayer funded free million dollar mortgage. Only a total idiot could believe that this is the fault of anyone other than him and all this blaming of others just looks bad.

I'm not usually one for partisan politics but this certainly does look to be a spin being made by the Republican chairman's wife to head off a successful liberal candidacy to the board in the fall.


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