Town Square

Post a New Topic

The kids in neighborhood surrounding Ohlone school area get the worst deal in the school boundary proposal

Original post made by concerned parent on Jan 11, 2007

Are you aware of the proposed school boundaries and how it affects the neighborhood surrounding Ohlone school area, which south of Oregon Expwy to the proximity of Loma Verde and the El Carmelo's boundary?

If the school board adopts the current proposed of the 13-elementary school, the neighborhood children near the Ohlone school with get the worst deal in the district. Under this plan, these neighborhood children will have to:
1. Cross Oregon Expwy to attend Garland with kids from the other side of Oregon Expwy, starting on 2011
2. Be separated from those kids as they will go to Jordan while the Ohlone neighborhood kids will go to JLS.
3. Then, again, be separated with the 'new' friends from JLS to go to Paly.

Under the 12-elementary options, the neighborhoold school for these kids will still be Palo Verde, which is already overcrowded so some of these kids will still have to go to another school further away from their neighborhood. Regardless of which elementary school they can get into, they will have to attend JLS, and then to Paly.

To view the complete information about the school boundary proposal, click here Web Link

These kids deserve the same peer streaming from elementary to middle to high school that the majority of the district kids already taking for granted. They are already being denied from attending their neighborhood school (Ohlone). Why are they and their neighborhood continued to be treated as second-class citizens?

The board is schedule to vote on the new school boundary on 2/6, with the last meeting about this subject is scheduled on 1/16. If you are living in this neighborhood, I urge you to contact the school board members to let them know your concerns and that our kids deserve the same considerations as the rest of the kids in the district Web Link and if possible, attend one or both of these 2 last meeting to make sure that these kids are not continued to be ignored.

Comments (72)

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 11, 2007 at 11:31 pm

A portion of kids from that area of Palo Verde have been streamed to JLS and Paly for years. Sounds like the only difference is getting pulled into Garland . . .

Posted by PV Parent, a resident of Palo Verde School
on Jan 12, 2007 at 8:38 am

Not years, just since Terman opened. Prior to that Palo Verde was split with north of Loma Verde going to Jordan Paly and South going JLS Gunn.

Posted by Tulley, a resident of El Carmelo School
on Jan 12, 2007 at 9:31 am

I can tell you from personal experience that, for some kids at the middle school and high school ages, peer streaming is an extremely important issue in terms of their emotional, social well being, which spills over to their academic well being. I support efforts to be extremely sensitive to peer streaming.

Posted by PV Parent, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 12, 2007 at 9:57 am

Growing up, I moved with my family quite a bit and changed school three times as a consequence. I didn't like it one bit. My husband, although he grew up in the same home, had to be bused to his school and was not with his neighborhood peers. Neither of us liked that and it is one of the reasons we chose to live in residential Palo Alto. What we hadn't realised until after our children had got into the school system is that peer streaming in this area was so haphazard. If we had been aware, we may have moved to a different area of Palo Alto. Anyway, as adults who were not able to follow our friends through school changes, we both know that although in the long term it doesn't really matter, while you are actually going through it, losing friends or even apparent loss of friends is very painful and affects many aspects of a child's life.

Posted by Positron, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 12, 2007 at 10:42 am

I don't think we know yet what the Superintendent is actually going to recommend, do we? Her recommendations won't appear until the board pack this afternoon sometime, I believe.

I agree with your concerns in general, cp. I am also extremely concerned that the AAAG spent very little time working on any implications or solutions for secondary schools, and our middle schools will reach overcapacity first.

Sounds like JLS and Jordan may just be allowed to grow bigger and bigger, since Terman is space-constrained and no other potential solution is at all fiscally feasible. Which sucks for our middle school kids.

Here's hoping MFC's recommendations prove all our worries wrong.

Posted by Pauline, a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jan 12, 2007 at 1:13 pm

It will be interesting. I only hope that the couple Board members who asked for information about non-facility solutions ( program changes, like all day kindergarten, year round school, addition of 0 periods..etc) for consideration also will get them so they can put these options into the mix.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 12, 2007 at 1:29 pm

If Jordan needs to grow there may be a real issue with re-opening Garland as an elementary . . . ugh, what a mess.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2007 at 1:30 pm

Wait a sec. Has the AAAG actually come out with their recommendations? The 12/11 meeting was a working session with some scenarios put on the table - I did not get the impression that those were the recommendations, just preliminary thinking - they said over and over again that more work was to be done.

The link above takes us to the 12/11 material. Have the recommendations actually come out since then?

Can we get those materials, must have been a meeting in January... Where are those materials?

I'll help you fight this - peer streaming isn't just a nice idea. Its critical to the emotional and academic well being of the kids. Only the strongest will survive without it. I was there, and I'm surprised I'm here, now.

Neighborhood schools and Peer Streaming should be mandatory parameters of the AAAG outcomes - the choice schools should be used to balance at the secondary level - they gave up any expecations of peer streaming when they signed up for choice programs - it should be part of the deal.

Posted by parent too, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2007 at 1:41 pm

It was my understanding from attending prior AAAG meetings that the PV kids who would come across Oregon to Garland would continue on to Jordan and Paly. As it is now, if you live just one house south of Oregon you go to JLS and then back to Paly, so I see the opening of Garland as a better solution than what currently is in place. The other suggestion was that Ohlone move to Garland and the Ohlone site be changed back into a neighborhood school. In that case you would need to move an established school to another site plus the children that live between Embarcadero and Oregon would need to cross Oregon to get to that new neighborhood school and the current "neighborhood" families at Ohlone would need to cross across Oregon to get to Ohlone. This second scenario seems much less logical and beneficial UNLESS it's dicovered that the majority of neighborhood families at Ohlone are there primarily because the school is close to home and not because they are truly invested in the Ohlone philosophy.

I think the district should take an anonymous poll to see, as I am inclined to think (given the large proportion of neighborhood families at Ohlone), that it is the proximity over the philosophy. A poll would give a better indication of how the district should plan because if more "neighborhood" families chose Ohlone because of proximity, then maybe Ohlone should be reduced and move, so that it can share a site with another program or at least shouldn't be allowed to expand, as is currently about to happen.

Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 12, 2007 at 2:34 pm

Dear 'parent too',
According to the posted minutes document (dated 12/11), page 32 option clearly showed that Ohlone neighborhood kids will go to JLS/Paly track, not Jordan/Paly as you thought. Perhaps you have more updated information? I know that a lot of options are being tossed around, but I can only consider what's on this document as the 'official' direction and options from the AAAG committee, everything else are just rumors or unofficial options at this point.
Does anyone know when the minutes document will be updated (if there's any)?

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 12, 2007 at 5:36 pm

Sorry Parent Too,

I have yet to meet an Ohlone parent who wasn't there for the school's approach. If anything, people choose to live nearby because they want to be close to Ohlone and it's easier to get in if you're in the area. Same way families move near Hoover with hopes their kids will get into Hoover.

Posted by teresag, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 12, 2007 at 5:38 pm

The Board package for next Tuesday's meeting has just been posted. You can find it at Web Link

Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 12, 2007 at 10:33 pm

Thanks teresag ...

Does anyone aware of any legal-binding agreements with Los Altos Hill district that their kids must be kept together AND must be Gunn?

If there's none, then I'm having a real problem with the Super's 5th recommendation " ... for the AAAG to reconvene ... bearing in mind peer streaming with a 40/60 split of JLS studends to Paly/Gunn... and NOT dividing Los Altos Hill residents ... ".

I can't find anything in the recommendation report that shows the breakdown number of kids from LA Hill. Does anyone know?

Does it make sense to give PAUSD kids priority over ALL non-PAUSD? Would it lessen/solved the equal size of Paly/Gunn if LA Hill kids all go to Paly instead of Gunn while letting all JLS kids go to Gunn?

Posted by Kat, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 13, 2007 at 8:28 am

There are about 430 Los Altos Hills students in Palo Alto schools. These are legitimate PAUSD students, fully within the PAUSD attendance area, which includes parts of Los Altos Hills and unincorporated Portola Valley. They pay PAUSD school property and parcel taxes, and vote for PAUSD Board of Education members.

Of the 430 students, about 165 are high school students. There is no agreement that these students must be kept together or kept at Gunn, just as no other neighborhood in PAUSD is guaranteed a particular school, but geographically these students are much closer to Gunn and sending them to Paly would seem punitive and arbitrary.

The LAH families already feel somewhat disenfranchised because they do not have a neighborhood elementary school. PAUSD closed its one LAH elementary school in 1976. I believe that Dr. Callan was probably trying to assure LAH families that PAUSD will treat them as a neighborhood and not alleviate any of our capacity problems by dividing them.

I fully support this recommendation.

Posted by Ohlone, JLS, Paly parent, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 13, 2007 at 10:26 am

A very big issue with the Garland is that Oregon Expressway is a very dangerous street! I can't imagine anyone crossing it on foot on a daily basis. My family has has only lived in Palo Alto for 3 years and both my husband and I have separately been in car accidents on Oregon. I was crossing at Louis and a car ran through a red light at 45 miles per hour, flipping over my van (after I had just dropped all 3 kids at 3 different schools on different ends of town). Luckily only my car was totalled. My husband was rear-ended at a red light by a speeding car. And I have watched two other accidents on Oregon. This is a much more dangerous street than people realize. I agree with everyone about the inattention given to the children of this area, and we too would not have moved to midtown if our realitor had given us a head's up on the school situation, but asking these kids to cross Oregon is seriously dangerous proposal.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 13, 2007 at 1:09 pm

Any idea how feasible an elevated walkway over Oregon at, say, Louis would be? I agree that the street is dangerous. We're in walking distance of Ohlone, but we're not going to do it because of Oregon--yikes.

Posted by Ohlone, JLS, Paly Parent, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 13, 2007 at 4:39 pm

I have two kids who attended Ohlone (because we valued the philosophy). We rented and then bought in the neighborhood while they were in elementary school. We would have entered the Ohlone lottery even if we lived elswhere in the City. My older child went to JLS ( though we live a block south of Oregon) and now is at Paly. My younger child is now a 7th grader at JLS.

When my kids were still in elementary school and we were anticipating the move to middle school and then high school my concerns were the same as those voiced here: That the kids wouldn't be with friends. That they would have to make new friends and start a new peer group numerous times through the years, but the reality has been the transitions have not been that tough. JLS to Paly was harder than Ohlone to JLS but the other reality is by the time kids are in high school it's rare that their peer group is the same group of kids they hung out with in elementary school. They get exposed to more kids, they find other friends and they move in larger circles. It's just a part of the process. When they move to the new schools, while they may not be with exactly the kids they were with in elementary or middle school they have many connections through sports, religious affiliations, and other classes and activiites in town.

So..just a point of view from a family that has been down the road you are describing. The experience has been much easier and less traumatic than we had expected.

Posted by PV Parent, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 13, 2007 at 6:38 pm

Just found out today from some new neighbors that at the 3rd grade level in Palo Verde, there is a waiting list of 22 students who are presently commuting to non-neighborhood schools. These new neighbors have to go to Escondido to get a place. If our school has what amounts to a complete classroom worth of the same grade level on a waiting list it just shows how impacted this area is and what is really going on in the schools. Just knowing that a school is full at a grade level is one thing. Finding out how long the wait list is a real eye opener.

Posted by curious, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 13, 2007 at 10:49 pm

Here's a write up in the San Jose Mercury

Web Link

Sounds like they will most likely add modular classrooms where ever there is space on the existing campuses, and only reopen Garland as a last resort.

Posted by Lou Parker, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 14, 2007 at 2:07 am

From of the 5 choices, only 12B is bad choice. Crossing Alma and the train rail is insane and than cross El Camino! For Escondido! I live by Melville and Alma in Old Palo Alto, and my property elementary school is Addison at the present moment, my neighbors kid 2 blocks away go to Walter Hays. I am in Old Palo Alto too and my 4 year old should son should go to Walter Hays as school for the Old Palo Alto so to keep kids to know each other from school if it is to move from Addison what the new boundaries should be. Now one out of 5 options is bringing 2 blocks from Alma inside Old Palo Alto to Escondido! That is crazy! I would rather stay with Addison! Crossing a traffic nightmare like Alma and the Train Tracks is 10 times more dangerous than crossing Oregon or El Camino or any other street in Palo Alto. But Alma, train tracks and El Camino together! Get the scenario 12B and draw again following the logical defined school boundaries! Here is a advise before an accident happen: Alma should be a boundary in all plans regardless of school name.

Posted by Ana, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 14, 2007 at 3:35 pm

Ohlone, JLS, Paly Parent,

I attended the other day a meeting at Ohlone. I really like the approach, and I am considering have Ohlone as my first option for the lottery. But I found the principal answers a bit vague. She spoke a lot about "yesterday, " in her examples to questions. She also interrupted some parents while they were still asking questions. And, since I believe that communication between parents and principal is very important, I have a couple of questions: Is Ohlone principal easy to talk to? Can she address parents/children concerns directly, or she is vague in most cases? Can you tell me a little bit about your experience with the principal? Anyone else can help me here? Did I just get the wrong impression? Thanks.

Posted by please, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2007 at 11:27 pm

The traffic would be much less of an issue if people would get out of their cars and walk. We walk across Oregon at least once or twice a day. Any road with cars on it is potentially dangerous and the more cars there are on the road, the worse it is going to be. At least my child has learned to be pedestrian wise unlike some of her friends who blindly step off of the curb without looking for oncoming cars. It's clear that they've never walked to school, or anywhere else as a matter of fact, in their lives. Reminds me of a friend from California who at 19 years old didn't know how to get a public bus to stop; she'd never been on one in her life. I was walking to school(by myself) across major thoroughfares and riding public buses by the time I was in fourth grade!

There are plenty of other families here in Palo Alto that cross across busy roads (especially El Camino), should we open schools in their neighborhoods, so that they don't have to cross those roads? How about a pedestrian bridge for all the major intersections on El Camino between Escondido and Juana Briones? At least the families near Escondido finally got a crossing guard to help them cross across El Camino at Stanford Ave.

Posted by wondering, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2007 at 11:34 pm

Is it true that if you live near Ohlone or Hoover, that you have a better shot at getting in? I thought enrollment was decided by a random lottery? Is this true for SI as well?

Posted by Ana, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 15, 2007 at 11:15 am

There is a separated lotery for the students who live in the area of the alternative education. And this is also true fro SI program at Escondido.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 15, 2007 at 4:05 pm

The Escondido lottery was strange last year, though. Because of the overcrowding of the morth Palo Alto schools, when Escondido opened up its second SI strand, the north Palo Alto kinders were given priority over the kinders in the Escondido area for that second class.

Posted by Andrea, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 15, 2007 at 5:32 pm

OhlonePar: Whoa! Can you elaborate on that last post? The MI supporters group put out post after post touting how EVERYONE has opportunity for choice programs, that it's a chance for all who enter the lottery process. Well, it seems now that it's open to some more than others depending on some special circumstances. Perhaps the district can be a little more transparent and let us in on how priority spots are doled out in choice programs. Is there some special process that's outside the policy when it's deemed necessary by (whom?)?

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 15, 2007 at 6:03 pm

Hmmm, yes, I guess I knew about it because of last year's kinder situation.

Last year, an incoming-kinder mom at Addison found out that Addison had only enough space for about half the incoming kinders. The situation was also bad at Walter Hays and Duveneck. The incoming Addison kinders were already meeting for playdates so word got around, but the school district was about the opposite of open about the problem.

After pressure from the north PA parents, PAUSD dealt with the problem by opening an extra kindegarten (though not full strand) at Addison, upping the numbers allowed at Walter Hays and adding a second SI strand at Escondido. Because the second SI strand was instituted as a way to get the North PA parents of the district's back, the kids from the north PA schools were given priority for that second class. A friend of mine in the Escondido area who was waitlisted for SI got a letter when the second strand opened that the north PA families would have priority over hers.

So, pretty much robbing Peter to pay Paul because Paul has more votes.

Posted by Surprised too, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 15, 2007 at 6:27 pm

I was, I guess, shocked would be the word, to hear a question posed to the AAAG group at one of their meetings, basically asking them to comment on the possibility of giving MI participants preferential admittance to the program based on whether or not they come from an impacted area. The group unanimously nixed that idea. Only then did I hear this had already taken place (SI, as mentioned above). I've got a real problem with a "lottery" program giving any kind of special treatment to anyone, based on some whim of the district. This lack of integrity in the process basically causes me to suspect any decision PAUSD makes. How can PAUSD to that with a strait face? Furthermore, if it's true that those in proximity to Ohlone, and Hoover for that matter, get priority that's just unbelievable to me, considering all these arguments about everyone having an equal chance to enter any PAUSD choice program.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 15, 2007 at 8:04 pm

Surprised too,

My understanding of the Palo Verde/Ohlone deal is that Ohlone is/was Palo Verde's overflow school. It's sort of an attempt to balance the needs of the neighborhood v. the district as a whole. Ohlone does affect its neighborhood and, frankly, anyone between Ohlone and Oregon is a long ways from Palo Verde.

I don't think it's a case of the Palo Verde kids having total priority over kids from other school areas. I know non-PV families who got in and PV families who didn't.

Posted by wondering, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2007 at 9:05 pm

OhlonePar, what is the source of your information regarding Ohlone and Hoover priority or is it just speculation?

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 15, 2007 at 9:35 pm


Not speculation, but nothing official. I'd heard it from parents who've been in the school system awhile. It then seemed to match up with the numbers from the Ohlone lottery, which showed a large percentage of the kids who got into Ohlone coming from the Palo Verde district.

Posted by Surprised too, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 16, 2007 at 8:57 am


Ohlone is a choice lottery school. The only applicants who should have priority are siblings. You make it sound like a rather haphazard enrollment process. However, if you have proof that this is the case, I'd love to hear it. But I'd be careful about stating that there is preferential treatment for some kids, simply based on conversations you've had with other parents.

Posted by Is this fair?, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 16, 2007 at 10:01 am

Let's be clear, Ohlone's is only a qualified lottery--just ask Ohlone principal Susan Charles. When you apply to the school you fill out an information sheet that asks you to state your reasons for applying and to say what other choice programs you have applied for.

At last year's Ohlone Kindergarten information night Principal Charles flat out said that after she's randomly drawn each sheet, she reads them and then accepts or rejects them based on how she likes what people have written. So your child's name may well be drawn early enough to get a place but be rejected by the principal in favor of others whose parents said the 'right' thing.

Charles' main concern, she said, was to throw out the names of people who were applying to both Hoover and Ohlone, on the principle that they could not therefore be serious about Ohlone's philosophy. Notwithstanding whether parent have justifiable reasons to apply for both, it's certainly the case that this is not a completely random selection process. At least in the case of Ohlone, the principal gets a veto.

Now you can choose to trust that Charles is only vetoing children in this one situation. But since the process is secret, who knows.

Do we perhaps need to have admissions for lottery programs controlled by a neutral 3rd party? Would the principals at Ohlone, Hoover, Young Fives and Escondido accept this? If not, why not?

Posted by Surprised too, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 16, 2007 at 10:41 am

fair? - Wow, I had no idea. I'm thinking about writing the BoE and asking them about this. I say, this is NOT a lottery system then, and if this is true, who knows what the process is for entrance into Ohlone. I would be interested in knowing whether or not this is what was intended when Ohlone was established, and whether or not PAUSD administrators and the BoE condones this practice by the principal.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 16, 2007 at 1:01 pm

There's fair and there's random. They're not the same thing. The Ohlone application essay is easy. As Susan Charles puts it, "We tell you what to say." And it's right there in the booklet. If you attend the meetings, read the book and still write an essay that has nothing to do with Ohlone, well, then, maybe, your family isn't the best fit.

The drawing process is, I was told, at the office of Preschool Family in front of observers. Not secret.

Since everyone gets the same chance to write an essay, how is it unfair? I mean, technically, it's not fair to give siblings a free pass, but I think it's reasonable and the right thing to do.

Posted by PV Parent, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 16, 2007 at 1:07 pm

This is all very interesting to me. I was under the impression that the reason so many Ohlone students were from the Palo Verde neighborhood was because that more people from this neighborhood applied for the lottery and by the law of averages that meant that more got in. If this is not the case and there are other factors that account for this, then this is important information that should get out. It seems that with all the new housing coming to this neighborhood and the increase in the numbers of families with young children moving into the neighborhood as older people are moving out, then this is something that the Palo Verde neighborhood should start making a noise about.

Posted by Surprised too, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 16, 2007 at 1:52 pm


If Ohlone is advertised as a choice school with a lottery process for entrance, then everyone entering the lottery should have an equal chance at getting in. If they don't, it's not a lottery system, its not random, AND it's not fair. It's not a lottery if the principal has final veto power. Does this exist at SI and Hoover too? Would this exist at MI? I would NEVER support a purported "lottery" school in a public school system that supports anything but a random entry process. Not SI, not MI, not Ohlone, not Hoover. Never. Once a kid gets into Ohlone, if the parents aren't happy with it's philosophy that just fine, they can leave and go to their neighborhood school or visa versa. We had a family leave our school and go to Ohlone.

Ohlone is starting to sound like a private school, where the principal can decide from those in the lottery who gets in and who doesn't. Who oversees her criteria? Where does the self-selection stop? I have a real problem with this in a public school system, sorry to say.

Posted by anon, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 16, 2007 at 1:56 pm

I was under the same impression as PV Parent, that the high number of neighborhood kids at Ohlone was the result of the high number applying from that area, and had always wondered if the lottery was completely random as people are led to believe. But even under the circumstances the OhlonePar described it's not difficult to bluff your way in as long as your skilled in writing to a target audience.

I guess it's too bad for those in town, who don't have the English skills or are intimidated by writing an essay and decide not to apply because of this.

Posted by PA resident, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 16, 2007 at 1:59 pm

Ohlone Parent -- If the drawing process is in public, is the resulting list made public there and then, do you know? Or does the principal take that list and then read the application 'essays' later and then decide whether or not they all pass? Is that part of the process done with observers? If not, isn't there a lot of room there for abuse of the process?

I guess we're back at the trust issue again. It's all fine if we trust our officials 100%. But do we? I've certainly heard rumblings about how people have been guaranteed places in SI ahead of the lottery (these are children with no siblings already in the program). It may all be malicious gossip, but it would be good if the selection processes for these highly sought after programs were as transparent as they can be.

Do they need to be made more transparent than they are?

Posted by palo altan, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 16, 2007 at 2:30 pm

This sounds like a serious rumor - is there any way of verifying it?
The principal of a neighborhood school does not have a veto over who enters based on an essay. The same should apply to choice schools. If you win the lottery then you get a place - end of story.
I find it really distasteful that Charles can apparently pick and choose who should enter the school. What next? Interview parents to see if they are the right fit for the school, how many hours parents can assist or amount of money they will donate?

Posted by PA resident, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 16, 2007 at 2:35 pm

Susan Charles has stated publicly that this is exactly what she does -- she vetos lottery applicants who do not fit her criteria. That, at least, is not a rumor.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 16, 2007 at 5:37 pm

You're making a bit more of the essay than it is. The quality of English doesn't matter--what matters is that you understand what Ohlone is well enough to parrot back a version of Ohlone's mission statement.

Susan Charles has a job to do, which is to run her school well. Since part of Ohlone's approach *does* involve parental participation, yes, the attitude of the parents matter.

Ohlone doesn't screen for income, learning disabilities, etc. Yes, it's a lottery system, but it's not just that. As for palo altan's concerns--that's slippery slope reasoning. There's no sign that Charles or *any* of those running choice programs are discriminating against particular children in an illicit way.

Posted by Surprised too, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 16, 2007 at 5:47 pm


What do you mean by parent participation? Do you mean volunteering during class time, taking kids on field trips, organizing class parties, etc? If not, could you please clarify what you mean when you say "Since part of Ohlone's approach *does* involve parental participation, the attitude of parents does matter." Thanks.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 16, 2007 at 6:14 pm

Surpised Too,

All that you mention and more. Besides any classroom participation, you sign up for at least three school-wide events/duties--site council, core values committee, literacy night, math night, two festivals, the weekly store and, of course, the farm--tending animals, mucking out the animal shed,tending the vegetable gardens.

I'm missing a lot of them, but does that give you an idea?

Posted by Surprised too, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 16, 2007 at 7:30 pm

OhlonePar, so my next question to you is, what about the parents who work full-time and the single moms or dads who can't help out. Are you saying you think it's acceptable to restrict entry in the program to those kids whose parents can't volunteer? Should they just not bother trying to get into Ohlone? Don't PUBLIC schools accept every child, regardless of their economic status?

You know, at our school we have a very strong community of parents who help out, at all the types of events you mention. But not all of them can or do. We don't select only those families who are able to help, and thankfully so.

I have a hard time believing this actually happens at Ohlone, but your attitude surprises me even more.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 16, 2007 at 11:52 pm

Lots of parents who work full-time and single parents have kids at Ohlone. But they volunteer. And at Ohlone, there's a lot of flexibility on time. It's not just during school hours. One's willingness to volunteer is not a matter of economic status. (We have Tinsley kids too.)

Lots of public schools screen applicants--the UC system, magnet schools like North Star in RWC and Lowell in SF. Ohlone isn't a good fit for every family. Why not do a preliminary screening to weed out obvious mismatches (i.e. parents who really want direct instruction)?
Isn't it better to see a child and his or her family in a school that will work better for them?

You seem to be trying very hard to turn Ohlone's admissions policy into something dark and twisted. It's actually pretty straightforward--particularly the essay part.

Just out of curiousity, have you ever tried to find out much about Ohlone directly?

Posted by get a grip, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 17, 2007 at 12:08 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by palo altan, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 17, 2007 at 8:18 am

Why not do a preliminary screening to weed out obvious mismatches (i.e. parents who really want direct instruction)?

Because the criteria for this screening is not publicly known and how it is enforced is not independently monitored.
The entry to choice programs is advertised as being based on a lottery. This is obviously not the case for Ohlone where, even if you win the lottery, your application will be screened and possibly rejected for unknown reasons with no right of appeal (another "trust" issue).

Every principal at all PA schools have a job to do, which is to run their school well. Should they be given the right to screen applications to their schools to weed out "problem" parents?

Posted by Surprised too, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 17, 2007 at 8:53 am

OhlonePar - You're comments remind me of a situation at another public school district where kids in Kindergarten were divided into classes by families who could volunteer and those who couldn't. Even though these particular parents had very high level jobs that required long hours and traveling and, as a result, they didn't volunteer, they had their nanny do the volunteering for them and thus they got the "good" class. I was just as shocked by this scenario as I am by the one you espouse at Ohlone. Sorry, but you shouldn't be able to pick only the parents who can volunteer for your school - NO other school in this district is allowed to do this.

In fact what takes place when placing kids in classes at our school, along with considering academics, personalities, etc., the teachers consider whose parents are able to volunteer, and the classes are evenly distributed accordingly. Seems mighty fair and inclusive to me.

No, it's not dark and twisted, just arrogant and exclusive

Posted by PAUSD Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2007 at 9:22 am

This discrimination is getting to sound ridiculous. What if all the elementary schools had the philosophy that if parents didn't volunteer, the child didn't get in? Of course, all elementary schools in Palo Alto want their parents to volunteer, contribute time and money, and be part of the community. The reality is that this doesn't happen. Why should Ohlone be allowed to be the only school where non-participating parents can be told to go elsewhere? And why should parents be expected to volunteer and contribute anyway? No, the right way to do it is what is at most schools. The parents who volunteer are the bonus not the norm. Any volunteering that a parent does is because they want to volunteer, not because they have signed an agreement stating that they will volunteer. What happens if circumstances change and they can't do what they expect to do? There is no sensible contract that any school can expect from parents in a public school system.

Anecdotally, I heard of a family trying to get into Castelleja. The daughter got in with flying colors. The parents failed to make the grade when interviewed. At that stage, the mother was dying of cancer and the father was involved in a start up. He explained at the interview that the family life was very difficult for the girl and he was willing to pay for an education that would mean that she was being looked after while he looked after his wife and his business. They did not get in and were told it was because the family were not the kind of family they wanted who would be able to volunteer at the school and take a keen interest in the way the school functioned. The daughter is now doing very well elsewhere and the mother has since died. But, the point is, was this fair? No, of course not, but a private school is able to pick and choose its students. Public schools can not and should not. Anything else is discrimination to the worse level. It is not a child's fault what their family values are in exactly the same way as it is not their fault for the color of their skin or the religion they believe in.

I feel strongly that if there is any form of discrimination at any of our "programs" then it should be made public immediately and something done to stop this happening. The Board, as an elected body, should actively be lobbyed to stop this or to lose their chance of re-election at both the school board level and city (or whatever) level. This is an important issue and we should not let it lie low or be buried under the carpet. And it is important to do it now, while the kindergarten registrations for next year are happening and before the next lottery takes place, which I imagine is quite soon!!

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2007 at 7:03 pm

Even more ridiculous is the way the Young 5's roll is chosen. The head of the school seems to run it as her own little private club. She says way in advance of the school year who gets in and who doesn't. There are zero spots left at the start of the school year for referrals from teachers across the district who deem students too immature at the start of the school year and need young fives.

I know of one local family who had to move to another school district to get into a young 5's program this year. The teacher here said he would almost certainly have to repeat if he stayed in the regular kindergarten. (This was a boy with a late but not super late birthday well within the cutoff, the kind of kid for which the Young 5's program was designed.)

There needs to be a serious re-evaluation of how to run the Young 5's program so that it's not just a separate little private school for overly protective parents. Perhaps if teachers consulted for projected referrals, and allowed to refer kids to the program, we'd have fewer "red-shirted" kids -- those kept back a year even though they have birthdays well within the cut-off. (A recent study showed no advantage to red-shirting, and some possible disadvantages.)

Posted by PAUSD Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2007 at 7:12 pm

The young 5s idea should be by teacher referral only. I have a child with a late birthday (Nov 22) and was almost told to go there rather than kindergarten. That was 14 years ago and she is now in college, and never had a problem keeping up. So, I was in the right against all the so called advice.

Now some of the reasons I have heard about children with late birthdays going to young 5s have parents saying it will mean that they will be the biggest in the class when it comes to High School sports and therefore have a better chance, and they will be the first to get their drivers' licence rather than the last. ???? what are the parents thinking and what is the school doing?

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 17, 2007 at 9:15 pm

Palo Altan,

The criteria *is* publicly known and in the essay booklet. The admissions process is made clear to anyone who applies.

Surprised Too, why is it you don't want to understand what I've written? The essay has nothing to do with "volunteering". It simply requires that you show you have an idea of what Ohlone's philosophy is. A *draw* for Ohlone is the adult participation. If you don't want to do that, there are excellent schools in Palo Alto that work better for that situation. (And, no, I've not seen any volunteer nannies, I do see lots of dads.) What you're describing at your school is a situation where a small group of parents pull extra weight.

PAUSD Parent, Where did I say that if parents don't volunteer the kids don't get in? Public schools tend to reflect the involvment of the community. Again, if you're a believer in Ohlone's educational philosophy you want to be involved. If you don't and think education should be left to the professionals (i.e. Hoover's direct instruction) why send your child to a place that doesn't give you the experience that you and your child want?

Ensuring that there's a fit between expectations and reality isn't discrimination, it's common sense.

Posted by palo altan, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 18, 2007 at 8:44 am

Web Link

Children are admitted to Ohlone via an equal access drawing (lottery)
which takes place the February prior to September entrance. Once siblings and children participating in the Voluntary Transfer Program have been accommodated, all available kindergarten spaces are filled from the equal access drawing.

So much for "equal access" or maybe it just needs an addendum noting that you will be excluded unless you write "..." in your essay and lie about having also entered the Hoover lottery.

Posted by ????, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2007 at 8:47 am

Wow. Lucky Ohlone, they have a September start to the school year too!!!

Posted by get a grip, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 18, 2007 at 3:25 pm


So much for freedom of speech! I guess if you whine enough, you can get anything that was written removed from this forum!

How Bogus!

Is this forum really sponsored by a newspaper? Do they know anything about the First Amendment?

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2007 at 4:00 pm

get a grip - what was removed?

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 18, 2007 at 4:33 pm

Get a Grip was flaming me. And, no, I didn't complain.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2007 at 5:01 pm

Hi OhlonePar - I for one appreciate you sharing your knowledge of Ohlone. I know more about Ohlone having read your posts.

Can I ask one thing? What exactly is the farm we hear so much about? How big is it, what does it include, how does the school incorporate it into the lessons for the kids? (Other schools might be able to learn from this, its just a honest question out of curiosity.)

Posted by Another Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2007 at 6:11 pm

And speaking about the farm, do other schools go there for field trips? I ask because I am tired of driving to visit a Farm in Fremont or whatever when there seems to be a perfectly good farm in Palo Alto for ks and 1st to visit.

Posted by get a grip, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 18, 2007 at 9:10 pm


I was merely pointing out to OhlonePar that the rhetorical question she posed to Surprised too was condescending. If calling someone condescending is "a flame" worth censoring then it seems to me that this forum places a higher value on personal feelings than it does freedom of speech.

Posted by Surprised too, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 18, 2007 at 9:29 pm

get a grip,

I was going to respond to OhlonePar, but thought better of it. I don't think further explanation of my position will make any difference to her and I think my previous comments state where I'm coming from pretty clearly. Besides, she has already gotten a bit of a thrashing from several others on another MI thread she has made comments on. This certainly is an interesting forum with some poetic justice built in. But then again, it wouldn't be very interesting if we all had the same opinions!

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 18, 2007 at 11:56 pm


Thanks for your comment. I've enjoyed the astuteness of your posts when I was getting up to speed on MI.

The Farm is technically one acre, but part of that's outdoor assembly space (i.e. dirt). There's a large garden with a plot for each classroom, a greenhouse, a couple of fruit trees, a pond area that's being turned into a native-plants area and a livestock area with two sheep, two miniature goats, a pile of chickens and a couple of ducks.

The teachers seem to have their unique ways of using the Farm. I know the upper grades use it to teach about the Ohlone Indians and the Pilgrims. In my child's class, the kids go there once a week. They've harvested vegetables and made soup from them. They've used it for biology (earthworms, spiders) and geology (rocks)and, I think, some practical math stuff. The Farm makes it possible to teach some topics in a very hands-on way. On a more general child-development level, it seems to give the kids a sense of competence. They get to do useful things and a lot of farm tasks are ones they can do--they seem to *love* collecting eggs. (I think of it as a bit of 60's counterculture that slipped in and somehow stayed.) There's something very concrete about what they learn at the Farm and I think a lot of kids can really connect to that.

Another Parent,

I don't know if other schools visit, but it seems like a natural thing to do, doesn't it? The Farm's open a lot and there's a part-time farm aide (ex-parent) who supervises.

Posted by xSIpar, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 19, 2007 at 8:52 am

As a parent of former SI student, it might be relevant to the original thread of this discussion to indicate the our child got in on a neighborhood preference. Does this still exist for SI? I assumed that it also exist(ed) for Ohlone--we tried twice, unsuccessfully, to get it in. If MI is housed at Ohlone, does that mean there will be a double neighborhood preference for the Ohlone site?? Has the district done away with neighborhood preference? (Sorry for not keeping up with this.) It might be worth noting in regard to the MI debate that Immersion does not guarantee conversational ability (much less fluency) coming out of middle school. Also in our experience, other subjects suffer at the expense of immersion. However, it does guarantee peer streaming through middle school (back to the original post). Given the down sides of immersion, particurly in the current over-crowded situation, there must be a better way to improve peer streaming.

Posted by get a grip, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 19, 2007 at 5:10 pm

Get a Grip was flaming me. And, no, I didn't complain.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jan 18, 2007 at 4:33 pm

Funny how you got other messages that also commented on your demeanor pulled from another post. The Weekly relies on complaints to screen the content of posts, they don't read through every post and say "oh that might hurt someone's feelings, we better remove it."

Now that it's comfirmed that you're not only a whiner but a liar also. Who would believe anything you have to say!

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 19, 2007 at 6:41 pm

Get a Grip,

One of my own posts was also pulled. I suggest you contact the moderators directly and ask them about *why* your post was pulled. You can get some clarification on the First Amendment as well.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 19, 2007 at 6:53 pm


Ohlone seems to have a neighborhood preference--I've been told that informally and the numbers seem to bear that out. With SI the number of open spots for English speakers has been so limited that I think the neighborhood preference thing may be a bit moot. Last year, though, preference for the second strand of SI was given to kids from the overcrowded north PA schools.

Did you keep your kids in SI throughout elementary? I've wondered what kind of effect the program had on learning other topics. I mean there are only so many hours in a day . . .

Posted by xSIpar, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 20, 2007 at 12:23 pm


Thanks for the updated information. Yes, our daughter was in SI through the 6th grade. Our experience was that other subjects did suffer (particularly composition in English), although of course the Spanish language instruction was very strong. I don't think deficiency in other subjects is reflected in the STAR results (haven't seen them lately) because the demographics of SI are much different than the district as a whole.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 20, 2007 at 3:29 pm

Thanks xSIpar, I've wondered about what happened to those first-language skills in an immersion situation. I found a second language helped me with English grammer, but only after I had a solid grounding in the latter. Mastering the written form of one's language doesn't just happen. It's one more reason that I really wish there were Summer immersion programs instead of full-time immersion v. no-language-whatsoever.

Posted by Tyler Hanley, online editor of Palo Alto Online
on Jan 20, 2007 at 8:14 pm

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

Get a Grip:

While we will review and sometimes delete posts in response to complaints, most deletions you see are a result of our staff's monitoring of the site and concluding that the post does not conform with our terms of use. Usually, this is because a post attacks or is not respectful of another person. In the case of the posts removed on this thread, none were done in response to complaints.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 21, 2007 at 12:24 am

Thank you for clarification.

Posted by AA, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2011 at 10:53 am

This is a lot late to make this comment but as someone who lives one house away from Ohlone and who didn't get in I can tell you neighbourhood bias does not exist.

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 | 1,854 views

Two Days to Save This Dog?
By Cathy Kirkman | 15 comments | 1,225 views

September food and drink goings on
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,212 views

. . . People will never forget how you made them feel.
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,211 views

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