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Bike Thefts, Drugs, Alcohol, cheating and Teen Sex on our high school campuses.

Original post made by Paly Parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 18, 2014

I think we should be outraged about the amount of bike thefts, pot smoking, alcohol, cheating and teen sex that seems to be considered acceptable at our high schools.

Phones are being stolen, but unlike a phone, bikes can't be kept in a pocket or backpack, but have to be left locked up in a bike rack. Even with sturdy locks, bikes are getting stolen and/or damaged. Why don't we have more security such as cameras around the bike racks?

Pot smoking as well as cigarette smoking occurs on campus and alcohol consumption does happen on campus. We also have kids taking medication designed to keep them awake to enable them to survive with little sleep due to homework issues.

Cheating seems to occur and although we only know of one instant where grades have been altered, there are other forms of cheating where parents are "doing" the homework and this happens at all 3 levels of schools.

As for sex, the kids are not being given the message that it is OK to say No - boys and girls - to sex until they are old enough for a sexual relationship. [Portion removed] the message is only about protection from STDs and pregnancy, nothing about the emotional aspects of what teen and preteen sex can bring.

Our kids are in a pressure cooker environment, there are high expectations. Adults in Palo Alto should be helping them deal with all these issues, academics included. I think we are failing to give them the message that a lot of them want to hear which is the same old message of accountability and how to become independent young adults, able to survive the next step of their lives, and to be valued for who they are while still at that very difficult adolescent stage of their lives.

Let's show them we care by example and by giving them some boundaries.

Comments (21)

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 18, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As long as students who break the law on things like streaking are given a free pass then they will simply assume that the campus is a sanctuary from all laws.


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Posted by Responsibility
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Isn't a lot of that the responsibility of parents?


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Posted by Paly Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 18, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Oh, turn off the fire alarm! I have two children at Paly and you make it seem like it's an inner city school. Drugs and sex involvement are only a small, small portion of students - the partiers. The rest of the students are nerds who have never been on a date and have their heads in the books. Most are good, responsible kids.

I do agree, however, on theft and pressure cooker environment, cheating parents, and these issues can be solved by the school. Some of the teachers expect too much from students and this runs from AP classes to regular lane classes. This results in parents "helping" their overburdened children. And it's not just to earn top grades - it's just to survive. There are teachers who easily disperse "C"s, "D"s and "F"s even if the student is working hard and turning in homework - the bar is way too high. There are ways to teach and grade which lessens academic stress, and I'm not suggesting dumbing down the curriculum, but being more reasonable. There are teachers who know how to get it right, but get a few of the jerks, and it's one helluva stressful year.

As for bikes being stolen, U-locks are the best protection, but the bike racks inside the cage are too far to the ground to be able to use U-locks. Plus, bikes being messed with seem to occur after school, as it does at Jordan too.

Phones are being stolen in the gyms so the P.E. teachers should lock the gym during class. But anyone interested in stealing can hide inside and then go to town when the doors are locked. There are cameras at entrances but they cannot film students changing clothes!

Parents should remember that just because their teenagers no longer need their butts wiped, doesn't mean they don't need the support and love from their parents. Children always want the love and respect of their parents, even when they become adults. Parents who continue to nurture their children have children who don't get into trouble, PERIOD.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 18, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Parents should remember that just because their teenagers no longer need their butts wiped, doesn't mean they don't need the support and love from their parents. "

Support and love also includes discipline and there seems to be a shortage of that when illegal activities on the campus are blatantly ignored by all concerned.


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Posted by Fail
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Teenagers imposing their private parts to other teenagers just doesn't have my support. Take it to Penn State.


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Posted by Paly Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 18, 2014 at 10:11 pm

@Peter Carpenter: "Support, love, and nurturing" isn't a metaphor for allowing children to run amok. There needs to be some boundaries. Children who feel love and respect from their parents don't rebel or get into trouble. Moderation is necessary: parenting that is too strict or too lenient results in children who get into trouble. Children can't talk to their parents if they are too strict, yet if they are too lenient, children feel like they don't care. Partying parents will have partying children.

Good parent: Child shares stories and everyday life with parents. Parent respects child's opinions. Child asks parent for advice. Child is a nice person.

Bad parent: Child doesn't talk to parents and is happy if parents don't talk with them about their day. Child feels parents won't understand. Child feels parent doesn't love or care about them. Child feels nagged by parent. Child has a bad attitude. Child is mean. Child acts out or takes drugs.

It's never too late to become a good parent. Start paying attention to your child - they really do want your love and won't feel peace in their heart if they don't feel your love. Your job isn't done just because they are out off diapers.


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Posted by whoa
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 18, 2014 at 11:43 pm

I think comparing bike thefts to sexual harassment by the principal is offensive. I saw your original post on the thread about Phil and I am kind of speechless that you would compare these in severity. The scope of Kevin Skelly's mismanagement is breathtaking, it's true, and it does include a host of issues. But honestly, there are problems and then there are PROBLEMS. Putting someone about whom there are substantiated allegations of sexual harassment back into the classroom is a bigger issue than bike theft.


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 19, 2014 at 8:49 am

I'm kind of shocked that some people think that bike theft is so unimportant.

I suppose this is Palo Alto and it is assumed that my kids have enough money to go out and buy a new bike if their bike is stolen.

Sorry about that. Have you seen the anguish when a kid who has saved birthday and Christmas money, plus hard earned money to buy a shiny new bike discovers it stolen. A kid who has to learn how to maintain the bike and pay for any refurbishments. A kid who then has to walk over a mile to school instead of ride a shiny bike?

Well I have. It is not nice.

I have heard the kids talking about witnessing sex in bathrooms and smoking on campus. I hear of spiked water bottles and pills to keep kids awake. They don't like it. They don't cheat but know that others do, others have parents or tutors doing their homework. These are the issues I have to listen to. These are the issues kids will remember when they look back on their Paly days.

I am talking about issues that kids at Paly face every day, talk about at home. This is the school culture. This is what concerns me.

Anything else is stuff I read about in the paper and I do not wish to comment on something I have not witnessed myself or heard the kids I know talking about it. They are not interested enough for it to affect them.

Anything else is being given limited discussion elsewhere. This thread is about what concerns the kids I know.


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Posted by whoa
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 19, 2014 at 9:30 am

I think that the performance enhancing drugs and cheating are a serious issue. Bike theft is not a serious issue. Most bikes are stolen because they are not locked. My kids had their bikes stolen because they didn't lock them. I didn't think it was sad that they had to walk -- that's how you learn to lock a bike. The bikes that get stolen are the unlocked bikes because that's the easiest for the thieves. Get a U lock. No problem.

There are other problems such as pot smoking, alcohol, and sexual activity that are bad but not unique to PA. This is teenage life in the early 21st century and there are things parents can do but not much.

Then there are the problems that are very PA in nature. Rampant cheating, or the use of addies and ritalin which is also epidemic. Both are the result of relentless pressure and stress, too much homework, and poor priorities and management by the district. But so long as the same board, same values, same priorities, same power-parents dominate this district, we will have the same results. Competitiveness is not the only way to live -- some schools focus on the whole child. We don't.

None of these are in the same league with putting a teacher about whom there was credible evidence of sexual harassment and who received a disciplinary warning letter about it in a special ed classroom. In my opinion that decision exhibits poor management to the point that you just really have to wonder whether the situation is fixable.


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Posted by Really?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 19, 2014 at 9:31 am

This is a parenting problem, and parents need to take responsibility for their kids ( and their crimes) and not blame everything that is wrong with their kids on everyone else.

If you do NOT time to be an effective patent, do NOT become one. Children are a priority, more than a career, a mansion, or a Tesla!


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 19, 2014 at 11:41 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Where is the parental discipline with regard to running around nude at school?
Where is the school leadership with regard to running around nude at school?
Where are the police with regard to running around nude at school?

In my high school years (well into the late century of course) anyone who ran around nude at school would be:
1 - permanently expelled by the school
2 - had their bottom not wiped by whipped by their parents
3 - been charged with a crime and prosecuted by the police and the DA

And guess what, no bikes were stolen, no drugs were used and there was no cheating - there IS a cause and effect between discipline and standards and behavior.


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Posted by Model the Behavior
a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Our administrators need to be models four our kids. Why should we expect more of them? So far, Winston, Skelly, Young, Wade, Huertas, and Kathering Baker etc have not been good models.


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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 19, 2014 at 3:20 pm

@Paly Mom - Kids act out even with good parenting. Kids turn out fine all the time even with what you call "bad" parenting. Your descriptions of good and bad parents were actually descriptions of the children not their parents. Many great kids don't "share stories and everyday life" with their parents, the desire for privacy is a pretty normal teenage behavior.

@paly parent (original poster), while I agree that these things are issues, "bike thefts, pot smoking, alcohol, cheating and teen sex" are certainly not considered acceptable in our high schools. Common place maybe, but not ok.






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Posted by Lather.Rinse. Repeat
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Apr 19, 2014 at 3:55 pm

The cheating problems are relatively recent, and seem to. E most common among foreign students having language difficulties because their parents FORBID them ( a few have told me when I was teaching) to ever speak the " white devil's tongue" at home.


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Posted by Spectator at Large
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2014 at 11:00 am

Paly Parent: I couldn't agree with you more about modeling good behavior to our kids to help put and end to the sex, drugs and cheating behavior.

How many of the parents out there keep their medicine cabinets well-stocked with prescription drugs and take these drugs liberally feeling that it is OK because it is prescribed?

How many of the parents out there imbibe heavily in chardonay after returning from a over-stressed out work day but think this is OK? Alcohol is a drug as well.

How many of the parents in this town feel that having a Tesla in the driveway is more important than having more quality time to spend with their children?

How many parents out there came from dysfunctional families and had no models of good parenting but feel that perhaps they "have arrived" because the live in Palo Alto for God's sake. Land of high test scores and high real estate prices.

How many parent out there are not even interested in learning about what their elected officials (in this case the school board) are doing or not doing to help their children?

How many parents out there without special ed students or bullied students care about the rights of others that are violated in our district?

How many parents are out there with a false sense of security about their child's high school years and don't even question the fact that there are parents out there that feel it is perfectly fine for people to run naked across the campus and not have to face any serious consequences?

How many parents don't care about the values systems of their children's friends parents?

I care deeply about all of their issues but often it feels like I am very much alone in my desires to try and improve the day to day realities of our students.

When are we going to have elected school board members who respect the rights of the students in this district and call the administrators on their disgraceful behaviors? Skelly should have been put on administrative leave the minute the OCR (Office for Civil Rights) came into the picture to investigate the violations of the middle school girl many moons ago. Instead he withheld this fact from the board and was given a free pass with hardly a slap on the hand. He said he was "too embarrassed" to tell the board that we were being investigated. Is this whole story stranger than fiction? Come on.........

How many parents are willing to wake up and demand the changes we need to insure the best for ALL of our students?


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Posted by David Pepperdine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2014 at 11:13 am

The problem is the parents.

It's the parents (largely) who elected the current disgrace of a school board.
It's the parents who did not recall the school board when the OCR and Winston cases came to light.
It's the parents who attacked Ms. McEvoy when she tried to discipline some students.

We have met the responsible party and... they are us.


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Posted by Spectator at Large
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2014 at 3:00 pm

@David Pepperdine:

AMEN!!

glad I am not the only voice in the wilderness that masquerades as a community of committed parents!

Thank you for your strong voice of advocacy for our kids!


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Posted by Spectator at Large
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2014 at 3:00 pm

@David Pepperdine:

AMEN!!

glad I am not the only voice in the wilderness that masquerades as a community of committed parents!

Thank you for your strong voice of advocacy for our kids!


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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2014 at 12:10 am

@Spectator at Large,
you wrote - "I care deeply about all of their issues but often it feels like I am very much alone in my desires to try and improve the day to day realities of our students."

You are not alone, but that does not make any difference. The following thread comes to mind, among many many others -Web Link , Web Link

And, Thank you!


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2014 at 9:47 am

@David Pepperdine,
The trouble is, it's not just the parents who elect the board, and thus there is a huge incumbent advantage. We need term limits and something akin to referendum and initiative at this level. School boards exist for the sake of local parent control, but it's not working so well.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 22, 2014 at 9:56 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"School boards exist for the sake of local parent control"

WRONG, school boards exist for LOCAL control by ALL of the citizens who pay the taxes that support the schools.

You are unwise to dismiss the taxpayers without children in school as they pay most of the school taxes and are likely to be more skeptical of new bond measures etc..


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