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School Board searching for ideas

Original post made by Parent on Jun 20, 2013

Since this topic was locked, I just wanted to start it again.

Why is it that we have to go down to the board meetings anyway? Why can't the Board handle meetings as webinars, where busy families can just log in and listen while they wash their dishes, and so forth, and electronically ask for the ability to call in with their question or comment/be scheduled to do so online? In fact, I think we should set up a way for people to register, and the Board can conduct instant polls if they wish, to find out how parents feel about an issue or decision in real time. At least, this will encourage more engagement while saving gas (at least of the petroleum variety).

This is Palo Alto. Can;t we use some of our technology to make it easier?

Comments (23)

Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2013 at 5:48 am

@Parent - Thank you for posting your thoughts. As far as I understand, you are suggesting a better way for community members to take part in the board meetings, hoping for better communication. While I agree that your suggestion is not out of reach, I am wondering if you see a way to have the board members and district officials actually LISTEN, and exercise accountability, for example. It seems to me that your suggestion will be a great option after independent investigation will hopefully take place. At this point I think that the real issues should be examined beyond the local jurisdiction.


Posted by Investigation over, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2013 at 10:00 pm

The board backs Skelly, Baker gets a promotion, the PR officer will inform us in the future. Game over.


Posted by the public is not the problem, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 21, 2013 at 10:50 pm

I agree. Game over. Well played, status quo.


Posted by Best of all ideas, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jun 21, 2013 at 11:35 pm

The best idea the school board could have would be to admit their mistake in hiring Kevin Skelly. Just come clean and admit he has been nothing but a troublesome mistake. Admit that he is not doing his job, that he is not worth his pay, that they failed to check out his background. Then lay him off.


Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Jun 22, 2013 at 9:45 pm

@Investigation over, the public is not the problem - I want to think that the well being of so many children is not a "game". I know you meant well. I hope that your take of the very important issues will prove to be wrong - it is had for fools (me) to accept the current phase of this "game". I am so sorry to see that the Board and high ups perspective is overlooking the losers in this "game". I have added the following to my open address to Ken Dauber, calling to form a Shadow Board (Web Link ) -
Dear Mr. Dauber - I addressed you three months ago calling on you to form a PAUSD Shadow Board. I could not foresee, then, any of the events that presented themselves. I just knew that independent investigation is a must. I compared in other threads the (first) OCR report to initial lab test performed on a patient. First warning sign. It is very clear to me that no illness can be treated prior to being properly identified. It seems to me that no steps have been taken by those in charge to better identify the issues. Meanwhile - the public attention seems to be shifting , fast, from one issue to the other. None being properly addressed - I'll just mention now the Gunn guidance issue that was on the agenda just very short time ago. I have mentioned, above, that I think that nothing can be counted on, anymore. The data collected may be contaminated etc. This week presented another issue - personnel. I doubt that PAUSD can attract top candidates to positions these. I doubt that any outside capable potential candidate will join a district that seems to be in the - cover up - phase.
"Villager" described, nicely, above, the dynamics of this, or any scandal. I have suggested the Shadow Board as way of looking into issues - until any other formal procedure may hopefully take place.


Posted by Really?, a resident of Professorville
on Jun 23, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Really? is a registered user.

The board does not need new ideas. They need to learn the law and start to follow it. Ditto the administration.


Posted by Uncle, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 23, 2013 at 11:04 pm

The promotion of Katherine Baker to the director of all secondary education coupled with the board's positive evaluation of Kevin Skelly's performance sends the clear message that we need a new school board and until we get one there is no point in anyone spending any further time on trying to educate the board or staff. It's over.


Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 23, 2013 at 11:11 pm

@Uncle - to start, you need to get some candidates. In the last two elections combined, there has been only one more candidate than available seats. Throwing the bums out ain't so good when there are no new bums ready to take their places.


Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2013 at 6:42 pm

@Wayne Martin - You asked some good questions about the process of evaluating the Superintendent here - (Web Link). Thank you for asking, I am curious to know the answers. It seems to me that asking questions is not acceptable by few, here -(Web Link) - and in many other threads. I am wondering how the education system will reflect to the students the perspective that have emerged from these threads, laud and clear - if the majority have "spoken", accepting some outcomes that others do not, the "others" should be quiet/silent. It seems to me now that being persistent can be viewed as - relentless, and asking questions can be viewed as "vicious". I do hope the children know that it is OK to ask a question, even if it is one student in a forum, and that it is OK not to identify with the majority, or at least SHOULD be OK (unless illegal) not to identify with the majority in the biggest democracy on earth.
Dear Student - it is by FAR better for your well being not to be the "other". You know that. I know that many times you do not have the choice. I am so sorry.
Also - I think many of us - majority and some "relentless" - do not understand some of the editor's actions (not to use the C word).
@editor - Although I know you do not need to explain anything, may I ask your thoughts about the - Watchdog of Democracy?


Posted by Not exactly, a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2013 at 7:05 pm

o) What criteria does the BoT use to review Superintendents?
Varies from board to board, supt to supt, even within the same district.

o) What are the possible results of a Review (ex—Superior, Satisfactory, Not Satisfactory)?
Actual reviews are fairly detailed with areas of commendation and improvement.

o) Is there a written framework that the BoT uses for these Reviews?
Again, it varies from board to board, supt to supt, even within the same district.

o) Can this framework be published?
What would be the purpose? It is a personnel matter. Input about process should be directed to your board. Goal setting, however, is public.

o) Does the PAUSD provide a history of these Reviews on its web-site?
No.

o) Can a Superintendent be terminated because of a poor Review?
The contract spells that out.

o) Is there any reason that a Superintendent can not voluntarily publish his/her Review?
Yes, it is a personnel matter. What would be your goal in receiving it? Would the line stop there (all administrators, principals)?


Posted by Uncle, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 24, 2013 at 8:36 pm

All these questions are good but they don't really matter. The facts that matter are: Katherine Baker (who told federal civil rights investigators that she and her school did not need any training on disability harassment as they were all "very sophisticated") -- was just placed in charge of all secondary education in the district; and Kevin Skelly was given a positive performance review by the board. A third fact is that reformers tried to win a seat on the board and did not.

I remain convinced that the right thing to do was to try to run for a seat on the board and I commend Ken Dauber for trying. There is no shame in trying and not winning, though posters to this forum may snipe anonymously. The shame would have been in not trying. Having tried, however, it does seem that the inertia for complacency in PAUSD runs very hard. In addition, the PTAC forms a solid wall of defense against any critique of the district -- even in the midst of a sucide epidemic, even in the midst of a scandal regarding bullying of disabled children, even in the midst of deceptions and coverups galore.

All those facts being heard, the verdict is: having made a great effort, it is time to fold the tent. PAUSD is evidently content with being the community that pays guards to sit by its tracks. Have at it.


Posted by Thank you!, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 24, 2013 at 8:51 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by huh?, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 24, 2013 at 9:03 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2013 at 11:30 pm

village fool is a registered user.

@Uncle - I found many of your observations to be correct, and your Grande Finale - observing the community - extremely compelling. Obviously and sadly, I second. It seems to me that the board reflects the community as you described. I am wondering if you can explain how a single reformer in the board, should have been elected, could make any difference?
I am aware that this thread has been locked - I'll try to follow you, should you start another thread. Thank you.


Posted by spectator at large, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 25, 2013 at 5:10 am

spectator at large is a registered user.

Dear Uncle, village fool and other people posting with less-than-stellar descriptions of Dr. Skellty's performance.

Obviously the Board does not want to make it any easier John and Jane Q Parent Public to watch the Board meetings otherwise this would have been an option years ago. In the heart of Silicon Valley and in the bosom of high tech genius surely this antiquated system of presenting "public" meetings could be changed in very short order. How about this summer letting one or some of our genius students use this project as a "public service project" to score brownie points for admission to a Ivy league Uni? Surely there are some high school or soon-to-be high school students in our district (Gunn students especially) who would be willing to do this for a better chance at getting into their desired university?

Another example of not using technology is Schoology which only some of the schools have taken advantage of if I am not mistaken. Why does this have to be a site-based decision? If something works really well for students (which I have heard Schoology does) why can't it be used across the board?

Obviously Kevin Skelly is part of the reason why these things are not used across the board. He is adamant about site-based control even in the midst of children who continue to try and harm themselves (we all know what this is code for). This is unconscionable and has to stop.

The School Board which was elected by the voters in Palo Alto is not doing it's job. Wake up and realize that it isn't just a handful of folks in PA that want change. It is a vast silent majority. I am hoping that all of those who have been silent in the past make their view known to the Board and administration by writing to them and expressing their feelings about Skelly. The surveys that were done on Dr. Skelly should be released to the public for viewing. If Dr. Skelly's performance is "satisfactory" as Dana Tom stated in a previous posting, the evidence will show this. Honestly though, is "satisfactory" good enough in a district like PAUSD where we constantly hear about all the "exceptional accomplishments of our students and staff" at the Board meetings? I would not say that even Dana Tom as Board president would be able to come up with a better adjective to describe Dr. Skelly's last year in his job (which clearly he should have been removed from when the OCR revelations came out). Dana would have been a total laughing stock if he called Skelly's performance this past year "stellar", "exceptional", "compassionate", "caring", "Parent-responsive", "student-responsive", "values-driven", "truthful", "hopelessly transparent", "awe-inspiring" (that's a great one eh? How about "Shock and Awe-Ispiring" which are the correct descriptors for his horrendous performance.

PARENTS: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE send your feedback to the board and Skelly. Tell them all about how the mediocrity that has come to characterize our former stellar staff is harming our students. It only takes a few minutes to go the PAUSD website to access the email contact info for all of the Board, Admin. and any other staff you may want to contact. It may not too one iota of good (as we have been stonewalled constantly by Skelly for over a year by the Skelly) but then again it might help and we can't sacrifice our students any longer to the PA Status Quo by settling for having this man of "satisfactory " merit attempting to lead our PAUSD into the future.

WE MUST GET INTO ACTION AND NOW IS THE TIME!! WE CANNOT AFFORD TO SACRIFICE THE WELL BEING OF OUR STUDENTS TO BOARD AND ADMIN THAT HAVE DEMONSTRATED TIME AND TIME AGAIN THAT THEY ARE NOT UP TO THE TASK OF PROTECTING ALL OF OUR CHILDREN FROM ALL HARMS (or at least attempting to protect them!).


Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Jun 25, 2013 at 8:22 am

village fool is a registered user.

@spectator at large - Thank you for caring, and taking the time. Fear of retaliation was mentioned a while ago by parents as a reason for not "complaining". While I am sorry to realize that the board members who stated more three months ago that they support independent investigation did not follow their statement, I am not surprised. At this point it seems to me that those who share your perspective have lost any hope that any change or correction can come from the board. I called Ken Dauber more than three months ago to form a Shadow Board - start to look into issues. I am well aware that this suggestion was very unusual - I could not think of any other way to start looking into issues ASAP - (Web Link).
Unfortunately, it seems to me that the gift given to the public by an anonymous family - the first OCR report - did not trigger the chain that you and others hoped for. While I am grateful to the Weekly for publishing the first OCR report, I am sorry to see the rest. Also - You mentioned Watergate previously - it seems to me that that was one situation where the public benefited from an outside "check" (checks and balances) - free press.
Having written the above - I totally support your call, above, to address the board.


Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 25, 2013 at 11:33 am

Fred is a registered user.

"Obviously the Board does not want to make it any easier John and Jane Q Parent Public to watch the Board meetings otherwise this would have been an option years ago."

Not sure exactly what the complaint here is, but the Board meetings are broadcast on public access cable, as well as through live and recorded webcast - and have been for as long as I can recall. Enjoy!

Link to meeting web archives: Web Link
Link to live web feed (ch 28 I think): Web Link


Posted by spectator at large, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 25, 2013 at 1:56 pm

spectator at large is a registered user.

@Fred: Sorry that I wasn't more specific about "participation" but I was referring to the possibilities mentioned in the story above,

"I think we should set up a way for people to register, and the Board can conduct instant polls if they wish, to find out how parents feel about an issue or decision in real time. At least, this will encourage more engagement while saving gas (at least of the petroleum variety)."

I have to admit that I got quite a chuckle from the gas comment.

There is a huge difference between something where people who cannot be present actually having the opportunity to register an opinion in real time or talk at the public comments time on SKYPE (as a for instance) as opposed to a family sitting passively watching the "show" (believe me, it is often a comedy or just plain sad ;-( )on their TV. Why couldn't some form of our technology hook us up in real time without our having to traipse down to Churchill?

Any suggestions from techies out there? Come on now, I know you are out there. How about a local high school or middle school student taking this on? It would be a huge community service!!


Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 25, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Fred is a registered user.

Perhaps people could submit written or even video statements (limited to an appropriate length) to a public message board that would be available to all (including to the board members). This would people who like to "say their piece" without making the meetings excessively long, as they have been in the past at times.

Instant polls seem off-base, since those being polled would not represent the whole - not to mention that the board is not there to serve the parents' wishes (like at a private school), but to see to the education of the community's children.


Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Jun 25, 2013 at 3:07 pm

village fool is a registered user.

@Spectator at large - thank you for your response. With all due respect to Hi-Tech, I doubt any application can guaranty actual listening, and a wish to start practicing - accountability - for example. I noted in my first response above that at this timing I see no point in investing this way. This thread seem to have gone a full circle, back to the original posting suggesting improvement to the way the community participates in the meetings.
Below - my tribute to parts of the discussion here and in other threads:
Dear Student - who is quoted, below? Extra Credit - why am I quoting today? (answers @bottom)
"All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome."
"In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
"Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words, it is war minus the shooting."
"Happiness can exist only in acceptance."
"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."
and - " If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."
George Orwell, Happy B-day! (6/25/1903 - 1/21/1950)



Posted by confused, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 25, 2013 at 3:57 pm

confused is a registered user.

@spectator at large,
I would suspect that your suggestion would quickly degrade correspondence with the district to the level of these forums. That is not a step in the right direction.
You can already email the board and district staff. Access has never been a problem. The complaints have been about response. Additional digital input isn't going to solve that.
Some suggestions, such as a guaranteed time-slot for public input during meetings would prove far more beneficial.
Some seem less so, such as the wiki-leaks model of making *all* emails to the district publicly accessible. That's the equivalent to locking the threads on these forums. You want greater participation, not less.


Posted by Not exactly, a resident of another community
on Jun 25, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Not exactly is a registered user.

It might help to know the Board Policy and Education Code that governs the meetings: Web Link

All the Bylaws for PAUSD are contained in the 9000 series.


Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Dec 30, 2013 at 4:20 pm

village fool is a registered user.

@Uncle - I asked you back in June (above) how one reformer in PAUSD board can make any difference.

None of us could have imagined only last June the "feasibility" of secret PAUSD Board meetings set to check the feasibility of challenging the OCR "jurisdiction" etc. Those meeting were unveiled. Coincidentally.

Now I know how one member could have made a difference. Thank you.
Wishing you a Happy New year, and better year for all.

(This thread was locked, already, then.)


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