Town Square

Special education head reports to school board tonight

Original post made on Oct 8, 2013

The Board of Education tonight will hear a report on special education programs, which serve about 10 percent of Palo Alto's 12,500 K-12 students. The board also is scheduled to vote on schematic designs for a new athletic center at Palo Alto High School.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, October 8, 2013, 9:08 AM


Posted by About time, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm

About time for that lady to give a report of how is she and her people are helping "ALL" students get the education they deserve. It is not just about serving the rich. Hope this time she is taking bullying seriously. I am so tired of her and the other two special ed people who are working with them. They only serve the people they like or know that they have education and know their rights. The rest is "what ever, you do not even know how to get to the district office and complain, and if you do NO ONE will listen" Sad but true.

Posted by Who's rich? , a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 8, 2013 at 4:11 pm

"It is not just about serving the rich."
Why is being rich have anything to do with special ed? Special ed is allocated by need, not bank account!

Posted by Let's cheer!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Here's your report from the board meeting tonight, around the 8 o'clock hour:

Holly Wade, the special ed head who has overseen three years of repeated failures, has shown a presentation about how many PAUSD employees she has hired and other "successes," other principals and assistant principals have parroted back the same cheerleading, much to Dana Tom's delight, some parent shill has Googled a list of celebrities who have had special ed issues, and the only truth-teller in the crowd, Marielena Gaona, reminded the board that a student died from bullying at Terman and also that her "little angel" had to be repeatedly hit in order for the district to talk about bullying and special ed. None of the principals are smiling like they were before. Nor should they. Dana Tom cut her off and the rest of the board begins congratulating the special ed department and other drivel. This was all a public display. Not a mention of suicides, bullying, or civil rights violation.

Posted by Let's cheer!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2013 at 9:13 pm

It's 9pm, why did all the principals leave? Could their attendance for the special ed presentation have been a PR ploy? You decide.

Posted by educationforall, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2013 at 1:57 am

Privilege and special education services are connected. You have to be knowledgeable about a host of special education and civil rights laws to get the services your child needs. That takes money to hire lawyers and advisers or lots of time to guide you through the confusing and complicated process.

Posted by who's rich?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 9, 2013 at 9:17 am

What evidence do you have for your comment. There is no connection between privilege and special education services in our schools. They are applied on an "as needed" basis.

Posted by As needed?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2013 at 9:48 am

How about evidence for the claim that the reduction in special education students is due to the success of "early intervention" and not due to a huge push to exit students under existing IEPs?

When the strategic plan includes a goal to reduce the number of students who qualify for special education in the district, and that is the first major data point delivered during the update on "three years of progress," people should take notice. What has changed about the qualification and eligibility process? Has this been a positive and constructive process for parents and students? How have students benefited from these changes? Does the current process follow the guidelines under IDEA?

Poll parents of students with IEPs and those who have students who have been exited. Ask why the student no longer qualifies, how the communication has been between district staff and parents, whether services to address the students need have been delivered appropriately--and whether they have started on the "first day of school."

Nice to celebrate the good work that some students are benefitting from, but until and unless data is requested to back up the claims, the board should be prepared for more OCR complaints and additional lawsuits. The picture painted is not what many families are experiencing.

Posted by About time, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 10, 2013 at 6:43 pm

I am disappointed that Holy Wade did not mention what are they doing to avoid more student's civil rights violations. Yes it was a show to change the image of what Special Education is Really looking now days. Yes they like people to come and kiss them saying they are doing great things that is why they cut Marielena Gaona when she was reminding them or the truth. Dana Tom could not hide his anger. He almost lost control. And this is the person we are trusting to watch over our student's education. No wonder our kids bully others.

Posted by About time, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 10, 2013 at 6:47 pm

By the way I forgot to say that I am surprised the Palo Alto Weekly did not have an article on this report where school officials were trying to look good.

Posted by sm, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 10, 2013 at 6:51 pm

The Weekly only files negative reports about the school district. Since there was nothing negative in last night's board meeting, it didn't make the "news".

Posted by PaloAlto, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2013 at 9:26 pm

The speaker said Special Education is about to sign a contract hiring a consultant for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). If the consultant is paid by the school District, it will represent the District against families and students. Not a very balanced Alternative. It could add extra steps and process to slow students receiving services and families resolving problems. It's like an extra layer of governance. Will the Board of Education have to approve this contract? Will the public have an opportunity to see it before it is put in place?
Was the Board referring to additional slides that Board had that the public did not?

Posted by Let's cheer!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2013 at 8:23 am

Dana Tom did sound angry and shrill when the bell went off while Marielena was speaking. Tabitha Kappeler-Hurley, our $150,000 PR hack, is going to have to speak to him about the obvious. Tabitha, I know your reading this, so please know that the many press releases you've sent out this week won't justify your job. Keep us parents better informed about the issue of suicide in our middle and high schools. My kids are doing your job with the latest. I notice that Kevin Skelly applauded his principals for showing up to the board meeting this week, but it was far from impressive, the rote clapping and all. None of that does anything for our children. I respect the ones that didn't show up, and since I saw the meeting on TV, please tell me that both sides of the room were filled with principals and not just the side where the camera is. That would be quite a joke on the public. Has the district sunk so low as to use such crude techniques? Also, did I miss more speakers than the one who rambled on about celebrities with supposed special ed issues? One parent came out to support Holly Wade? As the leader of special ed, she should have been pinkslipped in March a long time ago. Why do we reward her every year with close to $200K for such a low level of performance?

Posted by About Time, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 13, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Yes, this show was to tell parents that PAUSD officials have enough $$ to overpower parents. They can hire firms, more firms, and PA, also, they can just ask the principals to come and show support to Holly Wade, and they will because their salary depends on it. Even the same Katherine Baker was there supporting Holy Wade, What a Joke!