Feds: School district violated student's civil rights
Original post made
on Feb 8, 2013
The Palo Alto Unified School district's mishandling of a middle-school student's long struggle against bullying violated federal anti-discrimination laws and requires remedial actions, a government investigation has concluded. ==B Related material:==
• [Web Link
Editorial: Bullying case reveals systemic problems in school district]
• [Web Link
View the report] (PDF)
• [Web Link
View the agreement] (PDF)
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Friday, February 8, 2013, 8:18 AM
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Posted by PAmom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 8, 2013 at 12:21 pm
I know first hand that the PAUSD sometimes doesn't respond to bullying complaints, turns a blind eye, blames the victim, or protects their own. While my special-needs son endured a lot of bullying, some of those bullies finally got suspended in middle school when he became stronger and more assertive about speaking up. In those cases the educators supported him, and he had friends to back him up. It was handled well.
When my younger son was bullied by another child based in part on our religion, however, and he asked us parents, after repeatedly telling that child to stop, to intervene, the principal wouldn't even answer our email. His and the other child's teachers had said there was nothing they could do. Only when I emailed the superintendent did the principal respond, 20 days later. He wouldn't investigate anything, just talked with the kids and the other child's parents. He seemed taken in by the bully's charm, and that of the parents, who were also bullies toward me. He violated our confidentiality and told the parents everything we had said and to whom about the issues, which resulted in those parents blaming me, not my husband too, just me, of making everything up and suing me. I heard from another parent that the same principal violated another parent's confidentiality when they complained of their child being bullied, resulting in the parents of that bully also suing the mom. Our lawyer said that it was obvious that the principal sided with the bullies, as did that other mom.
The protocol for parents with grievances is for them to go first to the educator with whom they have the grievance and try to work it out, but I was forbidden by law to speak to the principal about the child who bullied my son! I was always polite in my dealings with all adults involved. We complained to the superintendent but never received an email acknowledging our complaint. I was told that going on to bringing our complaint to the school board would have been useless as they too would have refused to take us seriously and have just protected the educators involved.
We sold our home and moved, and transferred our son to another school. Our son, while not perfect, had never had any problems with being bullied at school before this child came to his school. It took him years to recover, and he's never been the same since. The child who bullied him, I heard from many kids, later had a reputation as a bully, and (we heard) was finally expelled for drug possession.
Two other parents, in addition to the other mom who was sued and myself, also told me that that principal refused to respond or intervene when their children were seriously bullied. One of those parents said he was rude to her and her husband in their dealings with him, and that she also knew of many other children, parents, and educators who were also that principal's victims. That principal was transferred to different schools within the district twice, and then resigned after, as stated in people's online posts, there were many more complaints against him.
The irony is that that principal had quite a fan club who defended him against anyone who had anything negative to say about him. He was polarizing and divisive, so that many, as with the bullies he protected, were either taken in by his good-guy demeanor o or disillusioned by his sudden about-face over having any grievance at all. At least he and the bully child are gone now.
So yes, there are many more of us out there who, in similar circumstances, never had fair treatment, advocacy, or fair treatment in PAUSD.