Town Square

Despite assurances, PAUSD school board closes out school year with no public discussion of OCR complaints

Original post made by Curious on Jun 17, 2013

The Palo Alto school board will hold its final regular meeting of the school year on Tuesday without discussing the US Department of Education's finding that PAUSD violated the civil rights of a disabled child, or the five other complaints that have subsequently been filed or come to light. See Web Link. The Board has not discussed the Office for Civil Rights complaints at a regular meeting since February. At that meeting, Superintendent Skelly promised the Board regular updates on the district's compliance process.

At the regular Board meeting on May 7, board president Dana Tom responded to public criticism of lack of transparency on the OCR complaints by promising that he would place the issue on a future Board agenda. Mr. Tom was echoing Dr. Skelly, who made a similar statement at a study session held that morning on a bullying task force.

The Board did hold a closed meeting on May 24 to discuss two cases with a significant risk of litigation, but did not disclose details or identify the complaints being discussed. Mr. Tom claimed that the Board would be discussing matters not known to the potential plaintiffs in those cases and therefore was not required to inform the public of the facts being discussed.

At the February 26 meeting, the last regular session meeting at which the OCR complaints were discussed, the Board heard a presentation from the district's lawyer, Laurie Reynolds. The Weekly later described Reynold's presentation as one that was "incorrect, misled the board and the public and engaged in pure obfuscation." See Web Link. The school board authorized an additional $140,000 in legal fees for Reynolds' firm on May 28.

At Tuesday's meeting the school board will consider proposed "focused goals" for the 2012-13 school year. The goals, proposed by Associated Superintendent Charles Young, include an initiative aimed at "engender[ing] trust with the community through frequent, clear, transparent, and varied communication." The corresponding action item to meet that goal is "[i]mprove PAUSD website." See Web Link.

Dr. Skelly also told the board last week that he would soon share with them some "outstanding educators" joining the district, including the public relations officer the board authorized in March at an annual cost of $150,000.


Posted by nothing to see here, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 17, 2013 at 10:28 pm

They can't respond because of legal disputes. You're welcome to talk to their lawyer.
The Weekly did a full investigation and found the board and district had been completely open and honest. You have been told everything. What do you want them to do? Put out some fictional account to satisfy your view of events?

Posted by Huh?, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jun 17, 2013 at 10:36 pm

"The Weekly did a full investigation and found the board and district had been completely open and honest."

What? Please provide a link. What I have read:

- Skelly concealed two separate OCR investigations and settlement agreements until news broke in the press.
- The district's lawyer told a bunch of whoppers.
- Dana Tom and Barb Mitchell wrote an "editorial" that toed the lawyer's line, and was just as off base.
- Since then, no communication.

Without this fellow Curious and these latest articles in the Weekly, we wouldn't know anything. What world are you in?

Posted by I want to go there, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2013 at 10:39 pm

The district had been completely open and honest! The NSA could use this kind of thinking!

Posted by the public is not the problem, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 17, 2013 at 10:47 pm

I think "nothing to see here" is being satirical. I just got the joke. LOL. That's a relief to know that no one could be in such deep denial.

Posted by Yawn, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 17, 2013 at 10:51 pm

I support the district. It's obvious to me that these OCR "complaints" are just angry, typical palo alto parents out to get the district. You lost the election. Try again in two years.

Posted by the public is not the problem, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 17, 2013 at 11:08 pm

I think the clear loser in the election was disabled children.

Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2013 at 2:30 am

Thank you Curious! You picked heavy duty challenge - noting the promises, statements, deadlines (ethics/best practices/OoE procedures/transparency/accountability/common sense?) among others, which are NOT followed by the board and district officials.
May I offer to chip in some work? I'll gladly note, give credit to anything that is being done right - system wise. Since it seems to me that you have gained significant experience - I am wondering if you could estimate the amount of time it will take to note and report manifestations of Accountability, for example.

Having written the above - In no way I am underestimating the work, effort and devotion presented by so many individuals who go way beyond what is expected presenting belief in - education.

Posted by Same four people, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 18, 2013 at 6:31 am


Posted by Whistling past the cemetery, a resident of Professorville
on Jun 18, 2013 at 7:12 am


Posted by Not surprised, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 18, 2013 at 10:08 am

Not surprised, this is the way the district deals with important issues; they ignore them hoping that if they do not talk about them, they will go away, but they do not go away, they only get grosser, just like the first OCR complaining where the parents gave many opportunities to the district to fix the broken system, and they ignored them thinking that they will go away. Bad decision.

Posted by Reality check, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Yawn, I don't think "I support the district" means "I support the current district leadership", does it? Isn't "the district" the schools, teachers, and kids?
Just wondering???

Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2013 at 1:08 am

And the Board and district officials lived happily ever after... Never discussing publicity the OCR complaints, or following any inconvenient promise they made. They lived happily ever after knowing that only few "losers" care and follow, and who cares about those children (and adults) "losers" anyways?
Thank you Curious for caring!

Posted by Skelly's money, a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 24, 2013 at 11:46 am

Everyone gets to keep their jobs at the administrative level and that is what counts. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Did Kevin Skelly get another one-year extension to his contract like he did last year? Can a majority of citizens agree yet that he should have never received a one-year extension last year? If he did not receive one this year, does that mean his real peformance evaluation is less than satisfactory? Skelly is getting paid, that is what matters to him most. He will have no more children in PAUSD after next year and he will take another job. However, the board should have paid him off this year and reform how PAUSD does business. It would have been easier to not grant him the extension and phase him out that way, but apparently that "governance problem" that Klausner spoke about a year ago wasn't so serious because she and the gang unanimously gifted him an extra year. The next superintendent will have to clean up as much of the mess that he or she can, as much as a puppet board will allow him or her.

Posted by still going? , a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 24, 2013 at 11:53 am

"Can a majority of citizens agree yet that he should have never received a one-year extension last year?"
No. Only a very insignificant group are of this opinion [portion removed.]

Posted by Palo Verde Parent, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 24, 2013 at 12:46 pm

still going?

I totally agree with you. I don't have any problem with the extension of his contract, but am starting to have a problem with [portion removed] a small group of people in this town.