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School board heads to Illinois to vet superintendent nominee

Original post made on May 21, 2014

Four Palo Alto school board members and a group of local education officials will be traveling to Aurora, Illinois, tomorrow to vet their selection of a new superintendent for the district, replacing Superintendent Kevin Skelly.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 9:35 AM

Comments (79)

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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 21, 2014 at 10:58 am

I am sure that our district must have plenty of surplus funds to fund this trip.

I will remember this next time we are asked for more money for supplementing our kids' education for playground supervisors, classroom aides and college counselors.


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Posted by Magda.grant@comcast.net
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 21, 2014 at 11:04 am

Isn't the vetting of any new hire usually done BEFORE HIRING, not after the contract is already a done deal?


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Posted by resident
a resident of Community Center
on May 21, 2014 at 11:12 am

Why are we sending a PiE rep? I do not think they should be wielding that kind of power.


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Posted by Garth
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 21, 2014 at 11:13 am

Party on Wayne!


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2014 at 11:17 am

> The school enrolls 650 students in grades 10 through 12,
> according to the school's website.

The PAUSD is a publicly-funded school district of about 12,000 students. It's a little difficult to see how this fellow's tenure at a private school with fewer than 1,000 students makes him a good fit, much less the best candidate, for the position of Superintendent.

Will be intesting to see if the School Board provides the public any information as to why this candidate is the best for the job.


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Posted by James
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 21, 2014 at 11:19 am

Anybody else wonders what sense it makes to send 10 folks off on this junket rather than simply fly the potential winner out here to meet them? Just the last minute airfare and hotel bookings must be .. oh, I forgot, the essential element here is "not my money" right?


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Posted by janet
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 21, 2014 at 11:26 am

How crazy is this? When people apply for a job THEY come HERE for the interview. What a waste of people's money. I hope everybody remembers this the next time the schools ask for money. I am sick of all the bonds and parcel taxes especially when the waste is so obvious.


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Posted by bottom of the barrel
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 21, 2014 at 11:36 am

"Will be intesting to see if the School Board provides the public any information as to why this candidate is the best for the job."

Probably the only one willing to take it.

Also, you'll note that the candidate doesn't work at the school mentioned.


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Posted by Carol Gilbert
a resident of University South
on May 21, 2014 at 11:45 am

Right on, James! I am almost perpetually flummoxed by decisions made by the people who represent us. Professional head hunters are hired to vet the names they submit and then fly just the individual out here to interview


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Posted by Garth
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 21, 2014 at 11:49 am

Read the article folks. The school where the meeting is being held is not where the candidate works. Also, the candidate was already interviewed here according to past articles. This trip is presumably to due final onsite interviews of references.
However, other posters raise some good points. According to Barb Mitchell, the selection already sounds definitive which undermines the purpose of this vagabond. Also, the inclusion of the PIE rep undermines PIE's claim to be just a funding organization. This smacks of pay to play. Finally, the inclusion of union reps and administrators is very odd for this kind of process. They could have met with the candidate here and they should not be involved in person reference interviews.
The board has stated correctly that this is their most important action. Why are they deferring much of the decision process to administrators, union reps and fund raisers?


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Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 21, 2014 at 12:15 pm

I'll be keeping my checkbook in the drawer this coming fall.

Please note that this is not one of Skelly's decisions, so all of those who believe that everything wrong comes from Skelly, this is proof that the stink starts in the PAUSD boardroom with the likes of Barb Mitchell. What exactly is the purpose of visiting a tiny magnet school if the applicant doesn't even work there? Also, if the decision has been made, what are they expecting to find during this visit?

What could they find out that would change anything. Maybe they'll find out that the finalist made sexually inappropriate comments to coworkers and students? Oh wait, that won't matter, PAUSD doesn't seem to care about that.

Have fun in Chicago. Would love to see the total bill for this. How can these people think this is a good use of district funds?


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Posted by taxpayer
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2014 at 12:17 pm

10 people for onsite reference checks? Aren't reference checks usually done by phone?


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Posted by Garth
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 21, 2014 at 12:41 pm

@Jim H, the article indicates that the meeting is being held at the small private school, but that there is no other relationship to the candidate.
However, I just read the agenda for the closed session and it is improperly vague, with no reference to actions that they may take such as interviewing or contract negotiations. Why can't PAUSD learn how to conduct proper public meetings


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Posted by Fair Questions
a resident of Downtown North
on May 21, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Many of the comments here are critical of this trip - but fair - as the public cares about the pending decision as well as District expenditures. The trip, attendees and expenses may make more sense if we had answers to the questions and concerns people have raised above.

Weekly - if you received a press release or an FAQ document from the District PR officer, perhaps many of these questions and concerns were addressed in that(and may not have been included in your article)? If so, could you please release any communication from the District?

I would expect that District leadership would anticipate that its community would have just such questions and that a communication of the reasoning behind the trip, costs and why certain attendees were included would have been released through various channels (including the press). Did we miss something?


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Posted by $$$
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Great way to waste money... sending several to interview one. Why not hire someone already living in our state?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 21, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Since the vetting meeting includes individual other than just the board members it CANNOT be a closed session and must be announced in advance and the public, including individuals in Palo Alto, MUST be allowed to make public comments.



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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 21, 2014 at 1:21 pm

I know a grad of IMSA - he said it was a challenging school without any grade inflation (handicapping students applying to university), much like what currently happens in Palo Alto high schools, whereby there are MANY students clustered as high performers at the very top and unless you are the very top 1%, by any and all manufactured means, the "next tier" is often overlooked by top universities as they can't take all from one school...
idk if this means this man is a good fit for PAUSD or means continuing the "same."


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 21, 2014 at 1:29 pm

The entire process is very perplexing. Why are we frequently observing things that are not standard and do not make sense? Also, out of curiosity, was it a private plane?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 21, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the California League of Cities guidance on closed session attendance:

"Meetings of a legislative body are either fully open or fully closed; there is nothing in between. Closed sessions may involve only the members of the legislative body and only agency counsel, management and support staff, and consultants necessary for consideration of the matter that is the subject of closed session. Individuals who do not have an official role in advising the legislative body on closed session subject matters must be excluded from closed session discussions."

And here is the Attorney General's ruling on the matter:
""In 46 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 34 (1965), this office also concluded that
meetings could not be semi-closed. Thus, certain interested members of the
public may not be admitted to a closed session while the remainder of the
public is excluded. Nor would it be proper for an investigative committee of
a grand jury performing its duties of investigating the county's business to be
admitted to a closed session. (I.L. 70-184.) As a general rule, closed sessions
may involve only the membership of the body in question plus any additional
support staff which may be required (e.g., attorney required to provide legal
advice; supervisor may be required in connection with disciplinary proceeding;
labor negotiator required for consultation). Persons without an official role in
the meeting should not be present."

What is not clear about those rules? Doesn't anybody care that the school board is breaking the law and actually goes so far as to list the prohibited individuals who will be attending the closed session?
"CLOSED SESSION
A.
Public Employee Appointment/Employment: Superintendent
Discussion
The Board will travel out of the District during Closed Session pursuant to Government Code 54957. Attendees: Board members Melissa Baten Caswell, Heidi Emberling, Camille Townsend, and Barb Mitchell. In addition, Charles Young (Associate Superintendent); Sharon Ofek (President, Palo Alto Manager's Association and JLS Middle School principal); Teri Baldwin (President, Palo Alto Educator's Association and Addison Kindergarten teacher); Meb Steiner (President, California School Employees Association and Barron Park Elementary Special Education Instructional Aide); Susan Usman (incoming President, Palo Alto Parent-Teacher-Student Association); and Asha Guha (incoming President, Partners in Education Foundation)."


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 21, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Youtube is always a great place to look for information, these days. The following links will offer some insight into who "Max" McGee is, and how he thinks---

IMSA President Dr. Max McGee:
Web Link

Dr. McGee Responds to Critical Article
Web Link

Glenn McGee says (in this video): "IMSA is a more of a laboratory than school."

And here is a link to the IMSA web-site:
Web Link


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Posted by joe
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 21, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Thanks Peter for the helpful information. Aware that there is legal expertise on the board but wonder if that representation is sought as part of standard district and board procedure. Past events suggest confusion in this area and the potential liability is too significant.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 21, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Here is a link to the IMSA FAQ:
Web Link


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Posted by Koch brothers in atherton
a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Atherton resident, peter carpenter, on two threads dealing with this subject has tried to stir the pot with regard to this hiring. Perhaps he should file some kind of legal action since he feels that the law has been broken. [Portion removed.]


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 21, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I have provided the legal references - frankly unless someone who lives in the PAUSD gives a damn then I suspect that the school board will simply continue to ignore the people whom it is sworn to serve. Your choice.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2014 at 2:35 pm

It seems like the Berkeley USD had a closed session with non-members (teachers and staff, administrators, and community members) to review results of their site visit in 2013:

Web Link

On Monday, April 29, the School Board held a special closed session meeting with the attendees to hear their perspective and get feedback from the site visit.

While Peter C. is an energetic watch dog, I'm not sure he always gets his legal requirements right. In an earlier thread, he claimed that the closed session to review semi-finalists was illegal, but it appears that several other California districts follow that practice. That doesn't guarantee that the practice is legal (only a court can do that) but it suggests it is.

I wish the Board and others good luck on their visit and hope they find a good candidate for the job.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 21, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Fred - what is not clear about the California Attorney General's ruling:

"""In 46 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 34 (1965), this office also concluded that
meetings could not be semi-closed. Thus, certain interested members of the
public may not be admitted to a closed session while the remainder of the
public is excluded. Nor would it be proper for an investigative committee of
a grand jury performing its duties of investigating the county's business to be
admitted to a closed session. (I.L. 70-184.) As a general rule, closed sessions
may involve only the membership of the body in question plus any additional
support staff which may be required (e.g., attorney required to provide legal
advice; supervisor may be required in connection with disciplinary proceeding;
labor negotiator required for consultation). Persons without an official role in
the meeting should not be present."

This is not my opinion, that is the AG's opinion.

And just because others break the law that does not change the law.

But feel free to let both your school board and your kids do what they want - it is your choice as citizens to ignore the law and to set the example on that for your kids.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2014 at 2:43 pm

I'm not a lawyer, much less an expert on relevant statutes and case law. So I don't really have much of a view on an out of context quote from an AG opinion, and if I did, well, you can surmise what it would be worth.

I do know that if most people do something, publicly and over a long period, it is likely that it is legal and ok to do. Not always, but usually. And that seems to be the case here.


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Posted by Koch brothers in atherton
a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2014 at 2:46 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 21, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


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Posted by VirtualConferencing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2014 at 2:50 pm

My question is why this trip is necessary when there are plenty of people who conduct virtual meetings via video conference calls. It seems that this meeting could be just as productive virtually. There is nothing that would keep the two groups from sharing information but it would save a bunch of money and could provide a tape of the meeting to enable the group to review in their due diligence.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 21, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 21, 2014 at 3:00 pm

> My question is why this trip is necessary when there are plenty
> of people who conduct virtual meetings via video conference calls.

I agree. Here we are in the middle of the Silicon Valley, and IMSA is clearly a seat of technology education .. and we're spending maybe $3K/person flying people up to Aurora to walk around the campus and talk to a few people.

Why? What is it going to take to get the PAUSD BoT to enter the 21st Century?


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2014 at 3:11 pm

"No, what is happening is illegal and you and others are simply being enablers."

But Peter, you said the same thing about the closed meeting to discuss the semi-finalists, and pasted a lot of regs on that thread too, but it seems like many CA districts follow that practice, so hard to believe it is illegal. Sometimes the lone voice in the wilderness is correct - and you might be right, I grant it - but usually not.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 21, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" but it seems like many CA districts follow that practice, so hard to believe it is illegal"

Sure, just like running around nude on the campuses of PAUSD is legal.

No wonder there is no respect for the law - if it feels good and other people do it then it must be OK.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2014 at 3:19 pm

I think somewhere on this forum people posted comments about last time they did not do the due diligence by visiting and digging up the past history of our current super. Am I wrong?


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2014 at 3:21 pm

@parent - you are right that someone posted that, but the poster was mistaken that it wasn't done. I believe I read at the time that a similar delegation met with 50 individuals in Poway where Dr. Skelly worked.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2014 at 3:23 pm

@Peter - yes, it is truly the age of anything goes ;-) Like I said, there's a chance that you are right. I just don't think so.


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Posted by Garth
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 21, 2014 at 3:31 pm

@Fred,
I don't always agree with Peter Carpenter's very stringent interpretation of the Brown Act. However, in this case the issues seem to be pretty clear.
They did not notice what potential actions they would discuss, such as "candidate interview" or "negotiation of employment agreement". Since Barb Mitchel said that they plan to announce the appointment on Friday and no other meetings are scheduled before then, it appears that some unnoticed action is intended to occur at the meeting.
Second, participants in the closed session are limited to the elected body and certain necessary support staff, as Peter's citation of the AG opinion makes clear. Whether or not Berkeley violated the law as well isn't a very strong counter argument. Is that the kind of conduct that you would have our leaders model to our children?
The most alarming element of this process is that, in addition to including fund raisers in a closed session, the board has included the union leadership of the three agencies that the board and the superintendent must negotiate with. Perhaps this has happened elsewhere, but I've never heard it and it seems like creates a serious conflict of interest and terrible public policy.
My concerns about this process are not a comment on the quality of whoever the candidate may be. I see that the Post today seems convinced that it is Max McGee. His record and values looks very impressive. Unfortunately, this board seems determined to foul up the process even when they make good decisions.


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Posted by welcome max
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 21, 2014 at 4:17 pm

"What Every Superintendent and Principal Needs to Know: School Leadership for the Real World" by Jim Rosborg (Author), Max McGee (Author), Jim Burgett (Author)

Web Link

Interesting topic on needing "mule skins". Sounds perfect for Palo Alto.


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Posted by Fair Questions
a resident of Downtown North
on May 21, 2014 at 4:50 pm

I agree with Garth - and appreciate his point that the questions many are raising are not about the new candidate, per se:

"The most alarming element of this process is that, in addition to including fund raisers in a closed session, the board has included the union leadership of the three agencies that the board and the superintendent must negotiate with. Perhaps this has happened elsewhere, but I've never heard it and it seems like creates a serious conflict of interest and terrible public policy.
My concerns about this process are not a comment on the quality of whoever the candidate may be."

This is not about taking sides or having an old axe to grind. These are reasonable, understandable questions. Good leadership would anticipate that the public would have these exact questions, would be proactive and head criticism/speculation "off at the pass" with some communication explaining why these particular people were invited to participate - (I assume on the District's dime?) These questions are fair.


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Posted by Concerned Retiree
a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2014 at 5:46 pm

If this trip of 10 people traveling to interview one, were done in the private sector, it would seem a foolish waste of money.

It is ludicrous that this JUNKET is undergone by PAUSD School Board and its entourage and publicly funded. I now question the board's decision making in all other matters, the financial as well as the educational ones.

Glad my kids are out of the Palo Alto Schools! In the future, I won't be voting for anyone on this board who does not pay his or her own way.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Relax!
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 21, 2014 at 6:12 pm

Folks, who are painting this picture of illegal PAUSD practices, especially Peter: Why don't you get outside and get some fresh air and then use the proper channels for your complaints? If they have merits, they will be heard. The Weekly is probably not the best place to get the process going - unless you only want to stir the pot as earlier suggested.

To all the others: Just assume the PAUSD board wouldn't carefully vet the candidate - you would probably be the first to point out how the board members are not doing their jobs.


Whomever the team is going to meet: Welcome to the bubble, where the 0.1% is trying to generate a scandal out of every move you are going to make...


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2014 at 6:23 pm

[Portion removed.]
Well, if the law has been broken, I suggest peter file a complaint with the police, though I find it amusing that a person who claims to,be so concerned about the law not being really concerned enough to report this supposed violation of the law. Or maybe it is more satisfying to lecture others on how they should be more like him!
And you are so correct, relax, about the 0.1%.


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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 21, 2014 at 7:21 pm

@Peter Carpenter -From the Brown Act "CLOSED MEETINGS MAY BE HELD FOR: Personnel
Only to discuss the appointment, employment, performance evaluation, discipline, complaints about or dismissal of a specific employee or potential employee ( 54957). The employee may request a public meeting on any charges or com- plaints."

It is perfectly legal for the Board to discuss the appointment of a potential employee in a closed session. It may piss you off, but its legal.


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Posted by Check it Out
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 21, 2014 at 7:24 pm

[Post removed due to incorrect statement of facts.]


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 21, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

'It is perfectly legal for the Board to discuss the appointment of a potential employee in a closed session. "

But it is NOT legal to include some members of the public in that closed session.

[Portion removed.]

"Well, if the law has been broken, I suggest peter file a complaint with the police, "

I have filed a complaint with the Santa Clara District Attorney - sadly no Palo Alto resident gives a damn.


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Posted by Jim H
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 21, 2014 at 7:33 pm

As always the discussion has gotten a bit off track.

All I want to know is 1) why does PAUSD feel it's necessary to have all these people go to Illinois, especially if it sounds like the decision has already been made

2) what is the total cost of this trip

Those can be answered w/o involving the lawyers. In the name of open communication, we deserve to know.


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2014 at 7:48 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2014 at 7:52 pm

@Jim H - my understanding is that this trip is a validation visit, where the people attending meet with those who have worked with a candidate in the past - essentially a large-scale reference check. Here's the description of the 2007 validation visit to Poway from the PAUSD press release:

The members of the Palo Alto Board of Education will travel to Poway for a validation visit on May 7, 2007, to meet with members of the Poway school community. Parent and staff representatives will join the Board on this trip.

I don't know if they meet with the candidate during the trip or not. A large-scale in-person reference check is a little unusual (in general, though I think it is not that unusual in superintendent recruiting), but I can see it making sense a part of building a consensus.

I have no idea the cost of the trip, but not sure that it matters within reason. One validation visit every five years or so when we hire a superintendent doesn't seem too extravagant.


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Posted by and you thought Skelly had it good
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 21, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Web Link
"Glenn "Max" McGee retired as superintendent of the Wilmette School District in 2007 and draws a $184,100 annual pension while earning $225,900 a year as president of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora."


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Posted by mattie
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 21, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Offensively wasteful. Spend money on teachers, supplies, activities....


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 21, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2014 at 8:03 pm

@Check it Out - the Board did make a similar "validation visit" in 2007 when hiring Dr. Skelly. The trip was to Poway (you said Pomona, but I assume meant Poway where Dr. Skelly worked). Here's a link to the press release from May 1, 2007 mentioning the visit: Web Link

I recall seeing an article at the time saying they had met with 50 people on the visit, but I can't find that article.



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Posted by Garth
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 21, 2014 at 8:11 pm

@Fred
You got it half right.
It is what you describe as a validation visit. However, it is also an official Closed Session of the PAUSD Board, in Aurora, Ill. What's highly unusual is that the Closed Session includes the representatives of the three PAUSD unions, administrators who are not essential to the board's hiring process, along with PTAC and PIE representatives. I'll be a bit bold here and say that for people familiar with local government, such as Closed Session is not only apparently illegal, it's weird.
But, as Wayne says, "party on Aurora!"
Hopefully, these ill advised actions will not undermine what may be a good hire.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2014 at 8:25 pm

@Garth, my interpretation, as just an armchair observer, is that the validation visit is being held in closed session to protect the identity of the candidate. I know far too little of the rules and conventions to know whether including those other individuals is permitted or not - I can certainly see an argument that they are advising the board and participate as consultants. I'm not sure how much I care, actually.


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Posted by and you thought Skelly had it good
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 21, 2014 at 8:35 pm

"Special ed fight goes straight to the top"

Web Link

"Bradley's question, for instance, was: "Where in the World is Max McGee on allowing parents to be involved in their children's education?"


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 21, 2014 at 9:12 pm

I hesitate to get in the middle of a good fight between several frequent posters who apparently don't like each other, but I would like to suggest a POSSIBLE reason for the closed session and the trip. If they are going to interview several references and others who have worked with the candidate, it might be a good idea to have a private meeting so the interviewees will be more inclined to speak honestly. Also, if they are going to interview more than a few people, it starts to make more sense to travel to them rather than pay for a group to come here. I confess that the inclusion of the PiE and union reps (with whose interests I am generally sympathetic) in a closed school board session is concerning.


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Posted by MoneyWellSpent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 21, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Let's be clear - nobody goes to Aurora Illinois for a boondoggle. I've been there. This can only be work.

And the cost is minor compared to the importance of this decision. Anyone unwilling to spend money on fact finding loses the right to complain about the decision later.

If this uncovers some mitigating factor, it is good to know now.

Money well spent.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MoneyWellSpent2
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Couldn't agree more with MoneyWellSpent. This trip is not to interview the candidate, it's to talk with others in his/her community. It's a small price to pay to get a more complete view of the candidate.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2014 at 10:40 pm

It seems like it is not good if the board does it, not good if they do not do it.


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Posted by geez
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2014 at 11:17 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Kevin
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on May 21, 2014 at 11:50 pm

Kevin is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


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Posted by geez
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2014 at 12:14 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on May 22, 2014 at 12:33 am

Cannot understand the logic and the justification for the trip expenses. As some of you have pointed out, candidates usually fly in for the interviews, instead of sending a whole army of people to the candidates' location.
Money is not free in Palo Alto; a lot of it comes from hard-working parents who contribute to different causes. I wonder if the board has this in mind when spending it.


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Posted by Michael Vilain
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 22, 2014 at 12:48 am

Ask her where the trans students are supposed to use the bathroom.
Ask her the review the bullying policy and comment on it.
Ask her to comment on the steps taken to prevent the "jumping in front of Caltrain" deaths.
Ask her to talk about budgets and doing without STAR testing funding.
Ask her about community outreach and where the Boyscouts should meet on campuses.

Note all these have a theme: What ha she done to further the support and growth of all students?
The last question is a a trick question. As part of the LGBTQ non-discrimination policies, I don't think BSA can meet on school property or use their facilities.


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Posted by MrRecycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 22, 2014 at 2:16 am

What is the cost of a trip to Illinois vs the cost of a bad hire? If they had gone down to San Diego and met with Skelley's cohorts maybe we wouldn't be in this mess now. Stop being so penny wise and pound foolish.


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Posted by Frugal Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 22, 2014 at 2:36 am

How in the heck will anyone from Illinois AFFORD to live here or WANT to live here?


With our complex cultural diversity, it is going to be like " A whole other country" - as they say in Texas.

What ever happened to teleconferencing?
What was the reason why we did not fly her out here, and why are so many people needed to go?


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Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 22, 2014 at 2:45 am

@Frugal Parent - Culturally complex? please. Palo Alto is a suburb of San Jose and Aurora is a Suburb of Chicago. They face roughly the same major issues - traffic driving to the city and stay at home parents with too much time on their hands. For culturally complex, see Oakland.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 22, 2014 at 6:53 am

I think someone mentioned about cost of the trip at taxpayer expense for a group and seemed to think of air tickets about 3K/person (if that's what they were including, not cost of the entire trip per person) and I can say that is WAY too high. Tickets to Chicago from SFO are reasonable.
I do question the need to send a group.
Chicagoland has wonderful nightlife, too. It is not a "burden" to visit as "Money..." feels.
Public servants are very well compensated there, too, with unsustainable pensions. California and Illinois have a lot in common.


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Posted by MoneyWellSpent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 22, 2014 at 7:10 am

@Frugal Parent opines: "With our complex cultural diversity, it is going to be like " A whole other country" - as they say in Texas."

This is a good example of fly-over bigotry. Similar comments were made about the new Gunn Principal coming from the midwest. it' not hard to move from there to here - heck 20 years ago most of silicon valley came from somewhere else. like the midwest. I'll assume for a second that you are NOT actually comparing Illinois to Texas, as that would be supremely misled.

I would recommend you take the simplest step to educate yourself by opening a wikipedia page on Aurora and PaloAlto [portion removed.] Palo Alto is not that diverse - basically white and asian makes up 90%. Aurora has a higher hispanic and higher black population. Palo Alto does not have "complex" cultural diversity, this is basically a two- race town. [Portion removed.]


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Posted by Dog pony
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2014 at 7:30 am

The visit is theater, there is no need to visit Aurora. PAUSD has already found out everything they need to know about this applicant from Leadership Associates. Very disturbing that PIE has a seat at the table, and ELAC doesn't, parents of students of color don't, and CAC doesn't, among others.


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Posted by Geez
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2014 at 8:45 am

Wow, all I said was that Charles Young is incompetent and should be fired, not given a chance to keep up using the slickness to keep his job in comany of people who decide.

Didnt the Weekly just win a bunch of awards for showing every which way til sunday just how incompetent the man is in one of his functions for the district?

My calling him incompetent was being nice. He doesnt like nor seem happy to serve parents in this district. I'm still being nice.


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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2014 at 9:20 am

Assuming we all can trust the good intentions behind this trip.

What are the chances of some transparency, the public being notified, should one or more members of this delegation have any doubts resulting from this visit?

What are the chances that this visit will result in announcement saying that the visit produced some questions, back to the boarding board?

It seems to me that watching any random ten minutes any board meeting will provide an answer to my questions, thus clearing that this is a total waste of the public $, and so it continues.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on May 22, 2014 at 9:28 am

@village fool - ever the encouraging word! While this could be a total waste, it probably isn't. There is a small chance that they will hear something negative that gives them pause. But that's a very small chance, and they certainly wouldn't be making this trip if they were still on the fence.

I believe that the bigger purpose of a trip like this is to generate buy-in by the key stakeholders - teachers, staff, the community - for the Board's selected candidate. Teachers want to hear positive things from other teachers; parents from parents; etc. That kind of buy-in seems very important, esp. for effectiveness and good feelings during the challenging first few months.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 22, 2014 at 9:55 am

> There is a small chance that they will hear something
> negative that gives them pause

Maybe .. but it's not likely.

While at some level I am happy that they are doing more than just interviewing the candidate (presumably "Max" McGee) here .. I would be far more sanguine if they demonstrated that they had some sort of organization to their "process" – rather than going on what seems to be a "fishing expedition".

Why can't they come up with an agenda for their trip, and post that on the PAUSD web-site? That agenda would provide a list of the names, and roles, of those they intend to speak with. And why can't the BoT invite the community to send in questions that they would like to see asked of those interviewed? Given the huge investment in the schools in this town (estimated at about $5B)—why shouldn't the whole community be offered a chance to ask questions also? One could even ask the question—shouldn't the community have a larger say in the selection of this sort of key education official they do presently.

And as a couple of us have asked: "why can't this investigation be done using videoconferencing, rather than expensive travel?"


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Posted by Shoulda, coulda
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on May 22, 2014 at 10:59 am

This is the procedure that should have been taken when considering Kevin Skelly, but the district was not as well-off financially then.

Sure woulda saved a lot of grief, lawsuits, etc.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 22, 2014 at 11:05 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The PAUSD Board has become accustomed to making decisions in secret hence the decision to make this trip, the choice of participants and the decision to hold of a closed session were all made without the benefit of public opinion.

The board should start every future meeting by reading aloud this preamble of the Brown Act:

""In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the public commissions, boards, and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly."
"The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created."



And with regard to today's closed session, illegal as it is, the participants are still bound by confidentiality - so they cannot report on the proceeding in which they participated:

"The Brown Act prohibits the disclosure of confidential information acquired in a closed
session by any person present and offers various remedies to address willful breaches of confidentiality. It is incumbent upon all those attending lawful closed sessions to protect the confidentiality of those discussions."

So how will the public ever know what transpired?


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Posted by Geez
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 25, 2014 at 8:45 pm

And as a couple of us have asked: "why can't this investigation be done using videoconferencing, rather than expensive travel?"

To answer that, note how many came home before the holiday. In my spouse's job, if people travel afterwards, they pay their own way, it's not even halvesies....


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Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on May 28, 2014 at 11:16 am

In what universe is this sort of spending considered prudent for a school board? I am hoping to read that the trip was "no host" and that district funds weren't used. If not, I guess we should be grateful that the candidate of choice didn't live overseas! Time to pay MUCH closer attention to School Board elections.


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