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Gunn principal Villalobos to step down

Original post made on Mar 25, 2014

Gunn High School Principal Katya Villalobos announced Tuesday she will step down June 30 after four years of leading the school. She will become head of the Palo Alto Adult School.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 10:14 PM

Comments (55)

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Posted by Gunn Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 25, 2014 at 11:18 pm

Finally.


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Posted by Worse
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2014 at 11:20 pm

How many principals has Kevin Skelly cycled through since he arrived in July, 2007? Can this get any worse?


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Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 25, 2014 at 11:22 pm

Gunn needs a capable, strong leader who can stand up to the cadre of teachers who have been running the school since Likins left. Let's hope that Dr. Skelly appoints someone like Kim Diorio to run the school. Gunn deserves a good principal.


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Posted by Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 25, 2014 at 11:38 pm

Villalobos has done much to inhibit the academic growth of our student body. I heard she took Gunn's SAT scores and AP scores off the rankings because it caused "too much stress." In my opinion, this was completely unnecessary. Focusing on academic success isn't necessarily bad, as it is often assumed to be.


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Posted by Student
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 25, 2014 at 11:42 pm

Gunn needs Jesus


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Posted by Student
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 26, 2014 at 12:09 am

Kim Diorio? I want Phil Winston back - he made great changes while she has done nothing and doesn't answer emails. She gets overwhelmed easily and has young children to distract her. She is a nice person, however.

Mrs. Diorio, I suggest teacher evaluations so the super challenging teachers have to change their ways. Some of them have no idea of the pressure we face as teenagers in a college prep environment. And it's not just the students who take 10 APs (limiting quantity of APs taken would help lower stress). Some teachers are just TOO passionate about force-feeding information.

[Portion removed.]

And to Gunn parents who think so well of Advisory - it's a waste of time and the teachers are full of lack of information and misinformation. I don't trust anything they say about the college process because they are teachers, not specialists like the college counselors at our school. No one goes to their Advisor for help. More time instead of Advisory would be helpful. Depending on teachers, we have little time to recuperate.


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Posted by Gunn Alumna
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 26, 2014 at 5:04 am

Tom Jacoubowsky, a current assistant principal at Gunn, would be an amazing principal. He cares immensely about the Gunn community, and has already earned the respect of students, staff, and families. He is the clear choice in my mind, and should be considered seriously for the position.


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Posted by Worse
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2014 at 6:59 am

Tom has a chance this time. Kevin Skelly in no way considered him when Katya was hired, just as he wasn't considering Kim Diorio in any way for the Paly spot or any other position. What changed was that Skelly got desperate, but now that he has lost the public relations fight, he may not feel obligated to appoint Tom after going through the motions of the interview.


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Posted by The bullies win again
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 26, 2014 at 7:35 am

Wow, bullies do really get what they want. Anyone really does need to think what sort of people they want on the next board after this.


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Posted by Double Standard?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 26, 2014 at 7:38 am

@Student: Phil Winston had at least one young child. Why wouldn't he be equally distracted?


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Posted by student = parent?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 26, 2014 at 7:57 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 26, 2014 at 8:23 am

As the parent of a Senior at Gunn (and an incoming Freshman) I won't be sorry to see Katya go. I think she's a nice person and was probably a very good classroom teacher but she is not an administrator. The teachers at Gunn have no respect for her and do what they want no matter what she says. As it is now the school is run by individual instructional supervisors so there is very little consistency between classes. You need some one who is strong enough to say no if it is not in the best interest of a student and Gunn as a whole to both teacher AND parents and then have the guts to stand by the decision.


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Posted by VixenVena
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 26, 2014 at 8:27 am

Katya has a very lovely smile. :-) Brightened my day!


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Posted by DZ
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Mar 26, 2014 at 9:20 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 26, 2014 at 9:22 am

Two things happened yesterday at Gunn. I picked up my son from school yesterday and there were police cars there. I asked what happened and heard that a "maintenance person and student" had been arrested. No more details available. Then a couple hours later we all get Katya's message.

I like Katya and can't imagine these two events are related. Does anyone know anything more about the arrests?


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Posted by senior
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 26, 2014 at 9:33 am

After reading recent comments I wonder how any teacher or principal would want to teach in the Palo Alto School district.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2014 at 10:35 am

Katya has a good heart and truly cares about the well being of her students. She has been in a difficult situation of trying to broaden the outlook of a faculty that seems to be particularly powerful and resistant to change.
It will take an exceptional leader with support from the new superintendent for Gunn to move toward a less stressful and more effective learning environment. The faculty and parent community will need to be engaged in a discussion of best practices which demonstrate that, despite common assumptions, best learning occurs in less stressful environments. Youth well being and academic success are not competing choices, but rather complimentary to each other.


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Posted by Outside candidate please
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 26, 2014 at 10:40 am

[Portion removed.] The entire team needs to be purged. Mr. J is nice but ineffectual. Where is a competent and firm principal? Look outside this crew.


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Posted by just wondering
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 26, 2014 at 11:04 am



Ok so does losing the PAUSD Superintendent, and now four principals all in the same year tell us something? Do you think we are a little too strong and maybe too nasty with our comments? Maybe we just can't see the good in people. A little embarrassed to be a Palo Altan right now.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 26, 2014 at 11:08 am

Katya took the reins at Gunn during a VERY difficult time, with the string of suicides and multiple groups of protestors. She handled it all with grace and created a STRONG sense of COMMUNITY at Gunn. How would you have handled this job?? I wish more people (parents specifically) were more conscious in creating a supportive community here in Palo Alto, and not succumbing to the ridiculous amount of pressure that has built up in this city. Everyone just needs to breathe and relax.


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Posted by randy albin
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 26, 2014 at 11:09 am

the Gunn Alumni Association does very well. i am in the Class of 1975. by the way, can people afford to live here now? what is this all about? bring in all of the educators and try to figure all of this out


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mikey Palo Alto
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 26, 2014 at 11:42 am

@GunnParent. The two incidents were unrelated. The arrests were apparently related to the maintenance person sharing child pornography with the student. The students found it quite amusing that another cop was trying to "distract" the seniors with a lecture on the responsibility of turning 18, while the guys were being cuffed.


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Posted by Gunn Mom
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 26, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Palo Alto Online,

Please require posters to sign with their full name so they take responsibility for what they write here. Anonymity breeds a poisonous environment that has become very destructive. I think people would be less inclined to be careless with their facts and to make thoughtless personal attacks if they had to attach their names to what they wrote. Please change your policy. Or, at minimum, take responsibility for fact-checking before you give these anonymous posters a city-wide mouthpiece.

PA Online has become a very destructive force. Thank you for considering my opinion.

There is a lot of speculation and innuendo in this thread that I find inappropriate. It's gossip; and it's offensive.

It has always been my impression that Ms. Villalobos cares deeply for the students and does her best to create a warm and productive learning environment for them. You may disagree with her methods, but stick to the facts, please. As my grandmum used to say, 'Stick to the facts, keep a civil tongue and form your arguments on the issues. Gossip is destructive."

I wish Ms. Villalobos the very best in her next endeavors, and I thank her for her service. I'll start signing my name when this becomes a safer environment. PA Online editor, YOU have the power to make this happen.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Teacher
a resident of another community
on Mar 26, 2014 at 12:51 pm

I am leaving the district after this year, and I definitely will not miss the attitudes of some of those who post on here. Ms. Villalobos is moving into a new job; there is no reason to use that news story about her transition to try to tear her down. If you're going to miss her, write HER a private email saying so (and why!). If you're glad she's going, then you're getting what you want; there's no reason to gloat and denigrate somebody who has worked hard for the students in this district.

I know I'm shouting into the wind, but the fact that so many posters on this forum jump to a negative point of view on teachers and the schools is fairly ridiculous. Students and parents in most other districts wish that they had it as "bad" as it is here.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by former gunn parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 26, 2014 at 1:18 pm

All I know is that when Ms. V became principal Gunn became a friendlier, more welcoming and reassuring place. That was supremely important during the years surrounding the tragedies. Her bright smile and friendly ways let kids know there was someone in the office who wanted to see them and say hello to them every day. As wonderful as the previous principal was, the smiles were just not as forthcoming.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Paul
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 26, 2014 at 1:31 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by former PALY parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 26, 2014 at 1:43 pm

I had very little contact with teachers and administrators during our family's time at PALY, and in fact was unimpressed in general, but I remember speaking with Ms. Villalobos once and she was polite to me. She seemed to be a visible, reputable school administrator (prob. was a asst. principal there at the time?)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Marie
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 26, 2014 at 1:48 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 26, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Dear Ms. Villalobos,

Hoping that you have learned a valuable lesson during your time at Gunn. Try to be more tolerant, consensus seeking, and unafraid of differing opinions. Cultivate a staff that is diverse, well trained, and fearless. [Portion removed.] Surround yourself with talented people who speak their minds. Support your staff; be their mentor & protector. Tell the truth and stand up for your principles. [Portion removed.]

Good luck! Be strong.

Paul


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Marie
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Mar 26, 2014 at 2:24 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Real Name
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 26, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Dear "Gun Mom",

In response to your request "Please require posters to sign with their full name so they take responsibility for what they write here."

I notice you didn't sign your real full name. LOL


 +   Like this comment
Posted by aparent
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 26, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Coincidence? A related thread speaks to the issues of tenure, teacher evaluations, admin tenure.

There really is no professional process of evaluating admins or teachers right?

Turnover just happens and we are left with these threads to speculate.

Anyway, Weekly - time to lock down this thread?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gunn neighbor
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 26, 2014 at 3:32 pm

The parent body needs to own up as a spoke in the wheel of PAISD. The most unpleasant group of adults I've ever encountered in several school districts.
Tough gig in Palo Alto. Great town for successful adults, not so great for our youth. Teachers are the birdies in the badminton game of education.
Parent expectations can be unreasonable, irrational, out of touch and adult/self-centered for their bragging rights and own justification. The students are watching..


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Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 26, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Now maybe we can finally see some positive change at Gunn. We need best practices to inform BOTH of our high schools, not just Paly. That means block scheduling, which practically all of the public and private schools in the area have implemented. (Ask any Paly parent who had kids there before and after the new schedule and they will tell you that block scheduling makes a world of difference in terms of both HW load and stress for the kids) There is too much inequity between the two high schools in the same district. Hopefully the knee-jerk reaction to any suggestion of change at Gunn will disappear with Villalobos and Skelly. Good riddance.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by former gunn parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 26, 2014 at 4:55 pm

We never wanted the Paly Package and still don't.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 26, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Gunn HS seems to actively discourage parental involvement so it's very hard to determine Principal Villalobos's impact on Gunn's bureaucracy. Best of luck for her in her new job.


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Posted by dismayed
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 26, 2014 at 5:59 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Jacob
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 26, 2014 at 6:15 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


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Posted by Worse
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Yep, PAEA. They run the show. With their support, Kevin Skelly was able to stick around for seven years and collect around $2,000,000. Advice to the next principal: don't go against the union, they'll get you. Perhaps feedback should be given to Teri Baldwin, president of the union. If we have a system where principals can gang up on a superintendent like they did on Mary Frances Callan in 2006-07, where teachers can gang up on principals like Katya Villalobos, why is more weight not given to students and parents and their evaluations about teachers? This bullying thing is organizational with teachers at the top of the food chain because of so-called tenure.


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Posted by DZ
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Mar 26, 2014 at 6:42 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Barron parker
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 26, 2014 at 6:47 pm

PAEA vote of no confidence in the Gunn principal? Has that been reported?

I have observed that the teachers union at Gunn seems to run the show. I don't know how Katya managed to stand it as long as she did. IS's bent on exerting control, and a disconnected district staff at 25 Churchill. They just didn't see it as their job to back her up.


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Posted by aparent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Gunn neighbor,

For every doozie of a parent to complain about there is a teacher or admin.

Your comment
"Parent expectations can be unreasonable, irrational, out of touch and adult/self-centered for their bragging rights and own justification. The students are watching.."

can be replaced with
Teacher expectations can be unreasonable, irrational, out of touch and adult/self-centered for their bragging rights and own justification. The students are watching..

Since students spend more time in school or with teachers, it is of concern that there is this level of adult politics an anger in the schools.

It would be nice if Skelly wrote a tell all book.


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Posted by Kathy Q
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 26, 2014 at 9:46 pm

Dear Gunn Mom,
I agree with you. It is much easier for people to attack--anonymously. Congrats to you on speaking out. I have two young adult children who went to Gunn several years ago. I think the environment has changed over time and in today's challenging, competitive, academic world for students--teachers and administrators face these so many hurdles. Be kind. Kathy Quinn


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Posted by mom
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 26, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Block schedule is not that great. Students get a lot new topics on a subject in a day, not easy for slow learning students.


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Posted by Jane Doe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2014 at 7:21 am

@KathyQ,
Internet trolls always find a way onto lists whether anonymous or not. They use false identities, or just plain don't care. They will be there to attack regardless, and if you take away anonymity, they will attack people. The most important things I have had to say, I have only said because of anonymity. I quit usng Huffington Post because you had to link to a Facebook account to post. The other problem with getting rid of anonymity is that the Internet is indelible while people change. It completely thwarts any productiove discussion because people who make the best points are invariably slammed with "you said blah blah blah..." usually twisting around their words while they're at it. And people in certain professions like teaching would never get to weifgh in on things like politics for fear of it affecting their jobs and relationships.

The most important reason for anonimiy is safety. This s a big school town, and parents would fear their kids would be hurt if the said what needed to be said. Look at all the denigrating of parents in general abve.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by teacher
a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2014 at 7:43 pm

Katya had a vote of no confidence because she wasn't "teacher centric" enough. Gunn teachers have been patting themselves on the back for so long and told themselves how wonderful they are for eternity that it comes to any principal who doesn't kiss their behind enough has to go. They better be careful what they wish for.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Worse
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Why is Tabitha Hurley, our outstanding public relations czar, not putting out detailed press releases about Skelly's crumbling house of cards? I just read her drivel that Jocelyn Garcia-Thome is leaving "to explore other career possibilities." Really? And I am supposed to believe that Katya's dream is to hang out at the adult school? Do you know who teaches at Addison? Why, Teri Baldwin, president of PAEA. You know her from one or two board meetings in which she publicly asks for teacher raises because of the high cost of gasoline. It's archived. Talk to folks there, many union folks had been complaining about Jocelyn since she got there and now they have won. Go look it up. Katya, then Jocelyn, how many more principals have to go because of PAEA? How many bullying policies need the blessing of Teri Baldwin and PAEA (and ever-present former PAEA president Triona Gogarty). Please don't cut the mike, Weekly. This district has not reached its nadir yet. Two years ago, these criticisms would have been dismissed and unsupported, but they are all facts now. Inconvenient, ugly facts. Can this get any worse?


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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2014 at 9:06 pm

@worse - quite possibly it is worse. Bad news travel slowly. [Portion removed.]


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Posted by Experience did not matter
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 28, 2014 at 12:15 am

I agree with village fool. There is a lot going on that people don't know about. OCR investigations will continue for a long time after Skelly has exited stage right. His terrible management and lack of accountability will continue to be a millstone around the community's neck for a long time to come . Things at Paly are going to explode as the facts come out. Same with Gunn. Rape culture is only one example of a general culture of retaliation , noncompliance , secrecy. If you think about it, it really can't be any other way. Anyone who has watched a board meeting in the past 5 years has come away slack jawed and disgusted at how monumentally incompetent they are. With no functioning oversight, and an arrogant and secretive management at 25 Churchill what did you expect. There were plenty of people including Barbara Klausner, Becky Beacom, ken Dauber and others who were pointing out problems but all you people wanted was happy talk. [Portion removed.]


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Posted by good one!
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 28, 2014 at 8:23 am

"Experience did not matter" so now you want people with no experience!


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Posted by Experience does matter
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 28, 2014 at 10:41 am

It's a little odd to want credit for experience without accountability. If Mitchell and Tom run again, I bet that's what we'll be hearing though. "Give me credit for our great students. Don't blame me for the lack of compliance and management".


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Posted by Worse
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Why is the Jocelyn Garcia-Thome thread shut down but not this Katya thread? How about a little equitable treatment, Weekly?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Mar 28, 2014 at 9:10 pm

@Moderator - May I, respectfully, suggest to add the thread about the Addison Principal to the Schools & Kids Category? Currently it is under Palo Alto issues. I am posting my suggestion here, since the thread was restricted only to those who log in.

Thank you for your consideration.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Shut your PIE hole
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 29, 2014 at 4:35 am

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2014 at 8:28 am

[Post removed.]


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