Town Square

Post a New Topic

Terman principal named to district job

Original post made on Jun 20, 2013

Terman Middle School is searching for a new principal following an announcement Thursday that the school's current head has been nominated to become the Palo Alto school district's director of secondary education.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, June 20, 2013, 12:56 PM

Comments (47)

Posted by Is this a joke?, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 20, 2013 at 1:17 pm



"Terman's handling of a bullying case involving a special-education student in 2010-11, Baker's first year on the job, later became the subject of a federal investigation. It resulted in a December 2012 finding by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights that the school district had violated the student's civil rights."

Skelly is promoting an admin involved in the mishandling of the OCR case? Who does not otherwise appear to have stellar qualifications?

Also noticed the interim Paly Principal Marilyn Cook 's Linked in says she is an "independent" adviser for the Mandarin immersion program, and a provider of educational coaching. Hardly encouraging to know she has such strong financial ties to PAUSD, does anyone know what her record was when she was a Principal at Paly?




Posted by is this a joke?, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm


correction, Marilyn Cook's profile is "self-employed" providing educational services to the district -ether way sounds confusing.


Posted by Think This, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 20, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Her experience with the OCR will probably serve her well as secondary education director.

Marilyn Cook is just the interim principal so no need to throw up arms now. I frankly believe that high schools need a male principal because the human race still respects males more than females. Argue and site exceptions all you want, but we still think of males as our leaders.


Posted by Not exactly, a resident of another community
on Jun 20, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Dr. Cook previously served as the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and as the Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services in PAUSD. She is a caring and thoughtful person.


Posted by is this a joke?, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 20, 2013 at 1:44 pm


Think this

You're probably right that her OCR experience will serve her well, but she will never be trusted. The controversy will continue.

We really could not attract anyone else? And people really buy that this has nothing to do with our D level leadership? Great people would be attracted by great leadership and not afraid of the work involved in actually leading a district.

As for the "human race still respects males more than females" where have you been lately (unless that was a real joke)? Nobody respects anyone anymore courtesy of corrupt and ineffective leaders. Maybe human males respect males more, and white males respect white males more, but you could not win an election without the women.

I happen to hear the other day that men are the new women, person was referring to fashion, but it can probably be extended to anything.


Posted by isez, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 20, 2013 at 2:00 pm

isez is a registered user.

Wow, some people love to argue. Be happy for once.


Posted by Palo Verde Parent, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 20, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Dr. Cook is a fabulous administrator and Paly is lucky to have her. Many will tell you that she was one of the best principals that Paly ever had.


Posted by Former Paly parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 20, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Marilyn cook was actually a good strong principal during her term at Paly. A lot of parents did not like her, though, because she came off as ( not my words) "bitchy". But her skills as an administrator could not be denied. She was rather an existentialist, and very quick to cut through BS.

I speak from personal experience, and admire her handling of many difficult situations.


Posted by Terman parent, a resident of Terman Middle School
on Jun 20, 2013 at 5:33 pm

The Terman community has lost a caring, dedicated professional in the promotion of Katherine Baker, who, in leading a superb staff, has created a place of inclusiveness, creativity and joy during what can be a difficult developmental period for some children. She has remained gracious and focused on the success and well being of her students throughout her three years at Terman. Those of us who have been privileged to have our children attend Terman under her leadership wish her well and are grateful that she remains in the district to continue to serve our kids.


Posted by Reality, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 20, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Hold that thought, Terman Parent.


Posted by Wow, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 20, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Baker screwed up the OCR case so thoroughly and over such a long period it would have made more sense to fire her.
But for Skelly I'm sure this seems like a perfect bank shot. He gives OCR and reformers the finger, gets a woman in a senior role, gets Baker somewhere where she can't do any more damage, and gets someone who owes him one.
I have a feeling this may be one that ends up seeming less of a good idea in retrospect, though. Time will tell.


Posted by Oops he did it again!, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 20, 2013 at 8:06 pm

I do not know if I should be angry at Skelly for promoting this [portion removed] woman or maybe I should be thankful that she will not be supervising our kids and pretending that all is well and that her staff does not need training on disability harassment because they are "sophisticated" At least she is no longer closer to our kids. [Portion removed.] I think a protest outside the school district will be sending her and skelly a message. She does not deserve to make more money. Yes, Skelly is doing it again. So sad that he came from Harvard and he does not know how to choose school officials who have earn the promotion. [Portion removed.]


Posted by What else can Skelly do Wrong?, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 20, 2013 at 8:56 pm

By Skelly promoting Katherine Baker, he is really telling us that he does not think that violating the rights of a disable child and not proving her with the appropriate protection to stop the harassment, he is telling us that he really does not care, that they will continue to do what they always do "protect each other" and the kids, who cares, as long as they receive their big paychecks. I think from all the mistakes that Kevin has done this one really shows his lack of dedication to the social and emotional health of PAUSD. For him this is a joke, and he is showing this by promoting the worst principal. What is next? Promote the principal at Duveneck or Holly wade? Come on people there is something very wrong here. Shame on both of them.


Posted by Yep, this is bad, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Yes, it is a bad move, it is an undeserved promotion and a slap in the face to many. But what other move can he make? He cannot lose the support of the principals and if he were to actually demote a principal, that piece of the web he has spun to keep his job would unravel. Right now, he has the full support of the board, tacit approval of the teachers, and I'm certain a majority of Palo Alto parents, especially the few who rabidly lump any critic of Skelly in with the demonized WCDBPA. You cannot expect him to make any move that would upset teachers or principals. This has nothing to do with kids, this has everything to do about getting paid.

Here's a scary question: how much worse can this get?


Posted by Reality, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 20, 2013 at 10:10 pm

There you go, Terman Parent. Posters with no knowledge wishing the worst. Hang on to what you know.


Posted by Yep, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2013 at 10:16 pm

Reality, I don't know who you are referring to, but my knowledge is solid, and I have to post anonymously because of it. I challenge you to post your knowledge of this situation, not just week one-liners.


Posted by Reality Check, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jun 20, 2013 at 10:16 pm

I can't believe the true horribleness of this board to approve this.


Posted by Yep, this is bad, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Editor, sorry about skipping the last part of my Name in the previous post. I'm only using one Name and I know you guys have been locking down the threads quicker than normal. Thanks for letting us post a few opinions on this thread.


Posted by Reality Check, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jun 20, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Heidi Emberling, shame on you the most. All that pandering garbage to the CAC about caring about special ed and bullying and you have been the most useless of all of them. Unbelievable. Yes, we know, you're new here. Sucks.


Posted by Yep, this is bad, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2013 at 10:27 pm

Heidi has demonstrated zero ability as a board member. In a way, because of the low expectations we have for her, she is the least culpable.


Posted by Wow, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 20, 2013 at 11:15 pm

"Right now, he has the full support of the board, tacit approval of the teachers, and I'm certain a majority of Palo Alto parents, especially the few who rabidly lump any critic of Skelly in with the demonized WCDBPA. You cannot expect him to make any move that would upset teachers or principals. This has nothing to do with kids, this has everything to do about getting paid."

What a bizarre comment. Yes, I'm sure Dr. Skelly is just in it for the money - that's the reason most people go into public education. And, umm, if he has everything tied up so neatly, why exactly does he need the support of Ms. Baker, who came to the district all of three years ago?

Luckily no one reads this fantasy board anyway...


Posted by Yep, this is bad, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Wow, you read this board and I wouldn't call you nobody, though if you actually live in Barron Park, that would make you a neighbor. Educators actually work for a paycheck, they are not volunteers and they are not passing up tech CEO jobs. Skelly gets $300k annually, which may not be much to you, but it significant to the majority of us. As for your question, read more carefully next time, the answer is there. Let us know if you have any other, plausible information to add.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2013 at 6:04 am

Skelly had to move Baker after her handling of the bullying and harassment case became public and well documented. My guess is he'll move the Duveneck principal into this job just to stick it to his critics.


Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2013 at 6:47 am

@Yep, this is bad - thank you for joining the discussion!


Posted by Paly parent, , a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 21, 2013 at 7:11 am

Katherine Baker may be a fine person and principal who happened to make a series of colossal mistakes that seriously impacted one of her more vulnerable students and families. We all make mistakes, and hopefully she learned from the whole experience and is a better principal for it. However, there is a greater principle involved here in Skelly's decision to promote her, and that is accountability. We teach our kids this; you are responsible for your mistakes. Not just to apologize but to make amends and to accept the natural consequences. Make it right. Skelly's move to promote Baker is a very public poke in the eye to that principle. It sends a terrible and divisive message to that part of the community concerned about this issue and the need for reform and more district-wide responsibility for what happens at school sites. The message is I don't care much about you or your concerns, and I don't have to because I have the board on my side. It is rending, not healing. It is a real shame.


Posted by Reality Check, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 21, 2013 at 7:42 am

At least he's not sending her to Paly. Thank God for that.


Posted by And into the fire..., a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jun 21, 2013 at 8:56 am

I was happy to see Milliken go, he was unresponsive as a principal, and did nothing as Director. However, filling this role with someone so closely associated with OCR violations may be worse. I am surprised the role could have actually gotten worse.

Now it appears that the position of Director of Secondary Education is a cursed job which doesn't attract our "Best and Brightest"...


Posted by What Else Can Skelly do Wrong?, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 21, 2013 at 9:07 am

What a nice way to give the parents and students the middle finger. The more days pass by the more Skelly shows us his inability to make good decisions. He is too tired or busy to post find us a more responsible and educated person to take the position the assistant superintendent. This is exaclty what is wrong with our district. They keep bringing incompetent to take very important positions.


Posted by And into the fire..., a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jun 21, 2013 at 10:26 am

Or perhaps another way to think of this is that the "very important position" of Director of Secondary Education has it's importance as a place for people like Milliken and Baker to go.

If the position is the place to cool your heels a while before checking out to another district, then it serves a useful purpose.


Posted by Guilty until proven innocent?, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 21, 2013 at 10:36 am

I am really ashamed to be part of the parent body in this town these days. I am sure that Phil Winston resigned because of the climate enabled and empowered by this forum. No one is giving anyone the finger except the posters herein. I really wish that instead of trashing our district staff people could be more constructive and focused on positive outcomes. Katherine Baker and Phil Winston were both well-liked and respected. At what point will we stop trashing the schools and take a look at the parents' choices and responsibilities? My kids have had an outstanding education in PAUSD and my eldest has been very successful in college. Let's not lose sight of how many families can say the same.


Posted by One More, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2013 at 10:38 am

Yay! Great news for Terman!


Posted by One More, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2013 at 10:41 am

@Guilty until proven innocent?
You write: "I am sure that Phil Winston resigned because of the climate enabled and empowered by this forum."

You can't be. You just believe that.

The community and forum are also innocent of your accusation until you can prove that that's why Phil Winston resigned. His statement that he had a very serious life and death health issue is compelling.
Yours is rank speculation.

Your pseudonym belies your actions.


Posted by Hmm, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2013 at 10:41 am

Good heavens. Most of the parents who complain about the Palo Alto school system, the school board and the administrators, have completely lost touch with correct spelling, English grammar, and any semblance of writing skills. Their assessments may or may not be correct, but where on earth were they were educated?


Posted by Hmm, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2013 at 10:43 am

Whoops. "...were they educated."


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2013 at 10:51 am

Hmmm

Whoops. Where were they educated?


Posted by isez, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 21, 2013 at 10:56 am

isez is a registered user.

Agree with "Guilty until" that there are too many overly critical parents who will find fault in even the "perfect" administrator. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

We were very happy with Grierson, Milliken, Barnes, and Winston. Sure, none of them were perfect (except, perhaps, Winston) but overall, they were very professional, responsive, productive in helping our family.

As far as complaints of anyone being "unresponsive", who wants to help any parent who is dogmatic, demanding, and critical of everything and everyone? It's a complete waste of time and energy, because in the end, the person will still find fault.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]




Posted by And into the fire..., a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jun 21, 2013 at 11:07 am

@isez - I cannot disagree with you more.

We have experienced directly with Grierson, Milliken, Barnes and Winston.

Only Winston was responsive and seemed to care about our kids. Milliken would appear to listen sincerely, while doing nothing. Barnes avoids the pretense of listening to you, and is simply unresponsive. He definitely does not put kids first. Grierson was an unorganized mess. He meant well, but lacks the skills to do anything.

Winston will be sorely missed by many. Because he is noticeably different than the rest.


Posted by isez, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 21, 2013 at 12:02 pm

isez is a registered user.

@And into the fire: All four of them do care about children. A few of my emails have been ignored by Milliken and Barnes and my feelings aren't hurt. These principals pick/choose (although a simple, one-line acknowledgement should be easy). If it's an important issue like bullying, student stress, etc. they will respond. Winston was the only one who acknowledged all emails promptly, and perhaps that was why he was so overworked and no longer had time for health or family.

Grierson is a bit immature but he does care and tries but some negotiation might be needed.

I'm going into "unresponsive" mode now because this isn't worth my time.


Posted by Crescent Park Mom, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 21, 2013 at 1:17 pm

I'm so sorry to see Mr Milliken leave our school district. He was one of our top Principals in the city when he was at Jordan. He did so much to make it a special school. When he left, we were all sad to see him go but he deserved to move to a position that would be more impactful across our school district. I'm so sad he won't be here to provide his leadership anymore.

Looking forward to having Katherine Baker in her new role. Given all the crazy stuff going on this year, Skelly wouldn't have gone out on a limb to consider her if he didn't think she was the right person for the task. Building a strong team has been one of his best traits. I trust he's got this one right, too.


Posted by What a Mess, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm

More proof that Kevin Skelly is an over-educated, but under-caring administrator. More proof that he's under-qualified, regardless of his education, for a job that requires people-skills. More proof that he under-thinks most situations. More proof that he has no respect for his students and their parents, and thus no one has respect in turn for him or his ill-made decisions.

How much proof is needed that he should be let go? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by w, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 21, 2013 at 7:23 pm

she did NOTHING at Terman. useless


Posted by We deserve this, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2013 at 9:39 pm

This seems like the dance of the lemons. This is the type of move Kevin Skelly makes when the heat is on. He already moved the assistant principal from Terman last year. He may simply promote the current assistant principal. I would be surprised if Baker gets a handsome spike in salary that will pay off in retirement in the next two or three years.


Posted by Janay, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2013 at 11:43 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

So Kevin Skelly, a man of questionable background, questionable skills, and notable poor judgment, promotes another administrator of questionable background, questionable skills, and notable poor judgment. Ditto.

And then the BOE, a group of people with questionable motives, poor judgment, and strange behavior, defends both of them...more ditto.

Next election, vote the BOE out. It would be a single step in the right direction.


Posted by Itchy and scratchy, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 22, 2013 at 1:31 pm

You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.


Posted by Obvious, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 22, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Why don't you complainers move to a different school district? This thread is such a downer.


Posted by Love it or leave it!, a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jun 22, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Which complainers are you taking about? The complainers who filed the complaints with the Office For Civil Rights? The complainers who are complaining about the leadership that was responsible for not handling this mess? Or you, the last complainer to complain to this online forum?


Posted by new, a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2013 at 11:18 am

several here have a axe to grind, PAUSD is great overall and the prices of the homes prove that. Why such caustic remarks? Other school districts have their problem too but this forum seems way too negative.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

The dress code
By Jessica T | 21 comments | 1,855 views

Two Days to Save This Dog?
By Cathy Kirkman | 15 comments | 1,227 views

September food and drink goings on
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,214 views

. . . People will never forget how you made them feel.
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,212 views

It Depends... Disguising Real Characters in Fiction
By Nick Taylor | 0 comments | 394 views