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New PAUSD Bullying Policy Still Not Approved by Federal Government

Original post made by Curious, Fairmeadow, on May 1, 2013

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has not approved the PAUSD's proposed bullying policy, per Superintendent Skelly's most recent weekly memorandum for board members. See Web Link.
Based on draft versions, the problem is probably that the district is refusing to comply with the settlement agreement's provisions (and California state law) regarding the use of the Uniform Complaint Procedure, because it conflicts with "site-based control."
The new bullying policy is scheduled to be discussed at the May 7 Board of Education meeting, but if it is not approved by OCR it will likely be pulled from the board agenda, for the second time.
Board members on the board policy review committee (Melissa Caswell and Camille Townsend) met on April 24 to discuss the issue and doubtless have more detailed information, but they are not sharing that with the public, and there has been no public discussion at school board meetings of the OCR review process. A closed session discussion of the OCR investigations by the school board that was scheduled for April 23 was cancelled "on advice of counsel," presumably because it would have violated the open meetings provisions of the Brown Act.
The Weekly has also complained to the Superintendent that public records requests regarding bullying have not been fully complied with, despite district assurances to the contrary (see Web Link).
In addition to the bullying item, the next board agenda will includes the new PAUSD Strategic Plan, which reaffirms the board's full commitment to transparency and public accountability.

Comments (22)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 1, 2013 at 8:22 am

Thanks Curious! Nice DIY journalism.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Observer
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 1, 2013 at 9:46 am

Skelly is managing the board rather than vice versa.


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Posted by No Skelly for PA
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on May 1, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Just more evidence that Kevin Skelly is unsuitable for the job of superintendent.

More proof that an applicant for a high position should not be hired without an in-person interview.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 1, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Thanks for the last paragraph - gave me my chuckle for the day!


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Posted by paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 1, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Whoa. I am just shocked that more than a year after the finding against PAUSD by OCR we still do not have an approved policy. Ed Burke could have written it in an afternoon I bet. The problem is they don't take it seriously. It's just a big joke to them. This is downright pathetic saying its almost done over and over and then standing around with egg on their faces. It's all getting silly. Get the job done. Obviously Camille will never be able to do any technical writing. Lets ask OCR for a draft and use that with minimal changes, take out medicine and move on. Sheesh.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Spectator at Large
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 1, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Might I be so bold to posit the question as to why Ken Dauber has not been asked for advice on how to write this policy? Or better yet, I am sure that he could do a beautiful job for the district. He has demonstrated time and time again that he has the knowledge, competence, skills and know how to get any job done. He did much work for the district analyzing data and presenting it to the public and well before the election and I would say that the parents of school aged children (including myself) are darned lucky to have a man with such talents who is so willing to jump in and get jobs done in a smart as well as heartful way. I just don't understand why we he lost to someone who is clearly not as competent as Ken would have been on the Board. It is a crying shame. Shame on Kevin for covering up so much as well. Come on Board......GET A SPINE for Pete's sake! Enough already.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Spectator at Large
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 1, 2013 at 6:51 pm

oops.......almost forgot! @paly parent, can you ask Ed if he would be willing to contribute a few pointers on this policy writing task since he seems to be extremely well versed on such matters? I thought maybe you know him as this is the first time I have heard Edmund called Ed.

I agree with you that we just need to get the job done but, alas, I don't think we can accomplish this with Skelly at the helm and the current sitting board. What can we do?


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Posted by VoxPop
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 1, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Edmund Burke: Web Link

I believe the Edmund Burke who posts here is using the name as a nom de
plume, or more likely given his tone, a nom de guerre. He seems to have quite an intimate knowledge of at least one of the cases and often assumes the emotional tone of a special pleader...perhaps an attorney involved in the case.


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Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Barron Park
on May 1, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Curious is probably right. It's going to take a lot longer to get a policy approved if PAUSD is trying to get by with something. I bet we are not the most trusted district around the OCR office these days.


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Posted by spectator at large
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 2, 2013 at 10:34 am

@Alphonso:

I do indeed think that PAUSD is trying to get by with something and that really bothers me as I am one who likes to feel that the people we elect are honest and open. I also do not like to think that our very own school board officials want to continue to ignore the needs of our students. It is very shameful and must not be allowed to continue. Enough is enough.

Edmund Burke: can you please chime in here about some of these issues when you get some time as we have been missing your voice. I for one am extremely grateful for your ever present willingness to put the facts out there. Carry on Edmund but please don't abandon our ship. We need you!!!!


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Posted by Insider
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 2, 2013 at 4:29 pm

The irony that no one is talking about? OCR didn't say that PAUSD needs a new bullying policy. They just want a statement that the district will follow their existing procedures. All of this is designed to distract from the fact that district staff simply ignored district rules and state and federal law.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Thank you WCDB
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 3, 2013 at 9:56 am

I just saw the ad for the session with OCR lawyers on May 16 at 6:30 pm at Ohlone. We Can Do Better and other patent groups are sponsoring it. Wow. Finally someone is going to tell the truth. Way to go We Can Do Better and Ken Dauber for caring. also CAC, SEAN, PASS, and the others. Why isn't the PTA bringing this? I guess they just support Skellly not parents. Thank goodness for other groups with courage.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 5, 2013 at 11:53 am

I just looked at the school board agenda for Tuesday's meeting, at Web Link. The bullying policy does not appear on the agenda, as Curious predicted. Evidently the feds have not approved the policy, so staff had to pull it again.
There is a "study session" in the morning about a "safe and welcoming schools action plan" that (if you open the agenda and read carefully) includes a report on the OCR compliance. I bet the news isn't good, otherwise it would not be buried out of public sight.


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Posted by John Dean
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Thanks Observer for letting the public know about this meeting that will cover the ongoing response to the OCR investigations.

I pulled this from the board packet:

"The Safe and Welcoming School Action Plan outlines strategies to include schools, students, parents and the larger community in collective work to assess, guide and implement effective safe schools actions. The District believes that a community response to issues of school safety will have the best outcomes for children, and invites a collaborative approach to this work."

The agenda includes an update from Brenda Carillo in regards to the OCR and a report from Dr. Young on lessons learned.

If the district believes community engagement will have the best outcomes then why wasn't this presentation scheduled during a regular public board meeting?

I hope that the Weekly will cover this meeting since it is doubtful that members of the public are aware of the meeting or could even attend given the time. Special meetings are typically not taped by the Media Center. Let's give Dana Tom a gold star for scheduling this outside of the public purview.


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Posted by Eileen 1
a resident of Midtown
on May 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Eileen 1 is a registered user.

Kind of ironic that I posted "School District Makes it Difficult for Community to Participate" Web Link on Thursday afternoon and sometime late Friday afternoon the school board decided to schedule the OCR agenda item in an open "Special Meeting" to be held on Tuesday morning at 10 am, when it will be unexpected since the morning meetings are usually closed, and it will be difficult for working members of the community to attend.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John Dean
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 5, 2013 at 1:47 pm

"I will work for collaboration, trust, and open discussion at all levels and greater transparency in decision making." from Dana Tom's campaign platform 2005 election see: Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on May 5, 2013 at 3:31 pm

@Eillen 1 - a bit off topic. Another possible example of - making things difficult: Few years ago it became well known that PAUSD's achievement gap was noted the Feds.
Web search of - achievement gap - did not produce much, then. A district doc subject from June 2010 is: "Disproportionality" (copied), STRATEGIC PLAN INITIATIVE.
"significant disproportionality" can be found dozens of times in this doc.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tran S. Parent
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 5, 2013 at 4:52 pm


@ John Dean
Don't blame Mr. Tom for scheduling this meeting outside of public view. He's just following the advice of district counsel. In an email to our superintendent that was forwarded to the board, distirct counsel said, " We are not rehashing this any more; we won't let it distract us from this important work."

That was on February 28th. No surpize that the next time a discussion of the OCR comes before the board it is buried in an agenda item that does mention OCR and in a special meeting scheduled at the last minute instead of during the normal board meeting.

In that same email district counsel said, "I've been rolling in my head how we break free of this tiresome, distracting, and unproductive loop". Guess they found a way.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tran S. Parent
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 5, 2013 at 5:06 pm


@ John Dean
Don't blame Mr. Tom for scheduling this meeting outside of public view. He's just following the advice of district counsel. In an email to our superintendent that was forwarded to the board, distirct counsel said, " We are not rehashing this any more; we won't let it distract us from this important work."

That was on February 28th. No surpize that the next time a discussion of the OCR comes before the board it is buried in an agenda item that does **NOT** mention OCR and in a special meeting scheduled at the last minute instead of during the normal board meeting.

In that same email district counsel said, "I've been rolling in my head how we break free of this tiresome, distracting, and unproductive loop". Guess they found a way.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on May 5, 2013 at 6:19 pm

There are more complaints that Dr. Skelly and the board have not disclosed. The district has a pattern and practice of discriminating against students with mental disabilities.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on May 5, 2013 at 6:38 pm

@Deep Throat - Seems to me that, unfortunately, the OCR became the latest venue for complaints, possibly replacing "regular" best practices that would be expected in a public school system.
May I ask if the complaints you are referring to were addressed by the OCR? or were those "just" other complaints, ignored?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on May 5, 2013 at 6:54 pm

There are more investigations, resolution agreements, and settlements. The board has not told the public the truth.


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