News

School lawyer: 'We are not rehashing this any more'

School district's attorney calls discussion of bullying case 'tiresome, distracting, unproductive'

Calling the controversy over a federal civil-rights investigation a "tiresome, distracting and an unproductive loop," the attorney for the Palo Alto school district has advised her clients to "send the message that we are moving forward."

Attorney Laurie Reynolds, a partner with the Oakland law firm of Fagen, Friedman and Fulfrost, made her suggestions in an email to Superintendent Kevin Skelly on Feb. 28 after repeated attempts by the Weekly to contact her for additional information after her Feb. 26 presentation were rebuffed.

Skelly forwarded her advice to each of the five school-board members. The Weekly obtained the email through a Public Records Act request.

"I've been rolling around in my head how we break free of this tiresome, distracting and unproductive loop," Reynolds emailed Skelly.

"I'd like to see the district send the message that we are moving forward. We are focused on the important work of developing policies, conducting training and providing necessary education. We are not rehashing this any more; we won't let it distract us from this important work," Reynolds wrote.

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School board President Dana Tom and Vice President Barbara Mitchell appeared to follow Reynolds' advice with the publication last Friday of a guest opinion piece in the Weekly.

Reynolds' email was sent to Skelly as the Weekly was attempting to obtain clarification from her on several assertions she made at the board meeting that were in conflict with documents related to the case of a middle school student who had been repeatedly bullied.

After four efforts to reach her after the meeting by phone and email, she replied to Weekly publisher Bill Johnson, "Thank you for your email. It is our firm's practice not to speak with reporters on behalf of clients or regarding client matters."

(At its meeting tonight, the school board will consider a proposal to immediately hire a district public relations person at an estimated salary of $150,000 a year as part of a package of new expenditures made possible by an improving financial picture. Read more about tonight's meeting.)

In the only public presentation on the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) inquiry into the school district's handling of the bullying case, Reynolds told the board Feb. 26 the district offered to do substantially more training and other actions than the Office for Civil Rights had initially requested.

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She said when the district received the first draft last April of the Office for Civil Rights' list of remedial actions it wanted taken, the district responded by saying they were "great" but wanted to do more than what was being asked. According to Reynolds, "It was kind of an amusing moment," she said. "They were stone silent. They said 'Wow! OK.'"

Reynolds explained to the board that the Office for Civil Rights only wanted training done at the one middle school where the victim of bullying had been enrolled, but that the district wanted to do it at all district schools.

But first draft of the agreement, obtained by the Weekly from the school district, the Office for Civil Rights' original language was "The District will provide annual mandatory training on disability-based harassment to all middle and high school site administrators and teaching staff. OCR is available to provide the first training."

The final agreement signed in December, reflecting the enhancements Reynolds described, stated "The District will provide mandatory training on disability-based harassment to all school site administrators in the District. OCR is available to provide the first training."

It continued: "District site administrators will then train the teachers at their school sites within the first three months of the school year."

It added elementary school principals to those being trained, but removed the requirement for annual training and for the immediate and formal training of teachers. Neither agreement was limited to the one middle school as Reynolds asserted twice in her comments to the board.

District administrators who were present at the meeting and familiar with the original draft offered no correction to Reynolds' comments.

The final agreement also reduced the requirements from mandating annual age-appropriate instruction on disability harassment to requiring it for only the next three years.

Reynolds also left the public with the impression that the district had no ability to settle the case with the Office for Civil Rights prior to the issuance of findings because the family of the bullied student wouldn't agree to a process called Early Complaint Resolution, which is available when a complaint is first received.

In fact, Office for Civil Rights rules clearly state that at any time during an investigation, the district can opt to enter into a resolution agreement and avoid formal and possible damaging legal findings.

The district's failure to seek such an outcome could be costly because it led to a set of legal findings of non-compliance with federal law that can now be used in litigation against the district.

Related material:

Feb. 8 Palo Alto Weekly article: Feds: School district violated student's civil rights

Feb. 8 Palo Alto Weekly editorial:

Bullying case reveals systemic problems in school district

Feb. 13 Palo Alto Weekly article:

Painful bullying stories told to school board

Feb. 21 Palo Alto Weekly article:

School district moves to correct civil-rights violations

Feb. 27 Palo Alto Weekly article:

School district critics, lawyer clash on federal probe

March 1 Palo Alto Weekly editorial:

As district lawyers step in, disappointing spin begins

March 8 Palo Alto Weekly editorial:

The path forward for Palo Alto school board

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School lawyer: 'We are not rehashing this any more'

School district's attorney calls discussion of bullying case 'tiresome, distracting, unproductive'

Uploaded: Tue, Mar 12, 2013, 9:29 am

Calling the controversy over a federal civil-rights investigation a "tiresome, distracting and an unproductive loop," the attorney for the Palo Alto school district has advised her clients to "send the message that we are moving forward."

Attorney Laurie Reynolds, a partner with the Oakland law firm of Fagen, Friedman and Fulfrost, made her suggestions in an email to Superintendent Kevin Skelly on Feb. 28 after repeated attempts by the Weekly to contact her for additional information after her Feb. 26 presentation were rebuffed.

Skelly forwarded her advice to each of the five school-board members. The Weekly obtained the email through a Public Records Act request.

"I've been rolling around in my head how we break free of this tiresome, distracting and unproductive loop," Reynolds emailed Skelly.

"I'd like to see the district send the message that we are moving forward. We are focused on the important work of developing policies, conducting training and providing necessary education. We are not rehashing this any more; we won't let it distract us from this important work," Reynolds wrote.

School board President Dana Tom and Vice President Barbara Mitchell appeared to follow Reynolds' advice with the publication last Friday of a guest opinion piece in the Weekly.

Reynolds' email was sent to Skelly as the Weekly was attempting to obtain clarification from her on several assertions she made at the board meeting that were in conflict with documents related to the case of a middle school student who had been repeatedly bullied.

After four efforts to reach her after the meeting by phone and email, she replied to Weekly publisher Bill Johnson, "Thank you for your email. It is our firm's practice not to speak with reporters on behalf of clients or regarding client matters."

(At its meeting tonight, the school board will consider a proposal to immediately hire a district public relations person at an estimated salary of $150,000 a year as part of a package of new expenditures made possible by an improving financial picture. Read more about tonight's meeting.)

In the only public presentation on the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) inquiry into the school district's handling of the bullying case, Reynolds told the board Feb. 26 the district offered to do substantially more training and other actions than the Office for Civil Rights had initially requested.

She said when the district received the first draft last April of the Office for Civil Rights' list of remedial actions it wanted taken, the district responded by saying they were "great" but wanted to do more than what was being asked. According to Reynolds, "It was kind of an amusing moment," she said. "They were stone silent. They said 'Wow! OK.'"

Reynolds explained to the board that the Office for Civil Rights only wanted training done at the one middle school where the victim of bullying had been enrolled, but that the district wanted to do it at all district schools.

But first draft of the agreement, obtained by the Weekly from the school district, the Office for Civil Rights' original language was "The District will provide annual mandatory training on disability-based harassment to all middle and high school site administrators and teaching staff. OCR is available to provide the first training."

The final agreement signed in December, reflecting the enhancements Reynolds described, stated "The District will provide mandatory training on disability-based harassment to all school site administrators in the District. OCR is available to provide the first training."

It continued: "District site administrators will then train the teachers at their school sites within the first three months of the school year."

It added elementary school principals to those being trained, but removed the requirement for annual training and for the immediate and formal training of teachers. Neither agreement was limited to the one middle school as Reynolds asserted twice in her comments to the board.

District administrators who were present at the meeting and familiar with the original draft offered no correction to Reynolds' comments.

The final agreement also reduced the requirements from mandating annual age-appropriate instruction on disability harassment to requiring it for only the next three years.

Reynolds also left the public with the impression that the district had no ability to settle the case with the Office for Civil Rights prior to the issuance of findings because the family of the bullied student wouldn't agree to a process called Early Complaint Resolution, which is available when a complaint is first received.

In fact, Office for Civil Rights rules clearly state that at any time during an investigation, the district can opt to enter into a resolution agreement and avoid formal and possible damaging legal findings.

The district's failure to seek such an outcome could be costly because it led to a set of legal findings of non-compliance with federal law that can now be used in litigation against the district.

Related material:

Feb. 8 Palo Alto Weekly article: Feds: School district violated student's civil rights

Feb. 8 Palo Alto Weekly editorial:

Bullying case reveals systemic problems in school district

Feb. 13 Palo Alto Weekly article:

Painful bullying stories told to school board

Feb. 21 Palo Alto Weekly article:

School district moves to correct civil-rights violations

Feb. 27 Palo Alto Weekly article:

School district critics, lawyer clash on federal probe

March 1 Palo Alto Weekly editorial:

As district lawyers step in, disappointing spin begins

March 8 Palo Alto Weekly editorial:

The path forward for Palo Alto school board

Comments

Bob
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2013 at 9:43 am
Bob, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2013 at 9:43 am

So the District's Attorney now seems to be telling the District what to do and say? So--why do we need a Board of Trustees?

Well .. someone has to be the "strong one" in any organization. Guess we know who that prerson is at the PAUSD, now.


palo alto parent
Palo Alto High School
on Mar 12, 2013 at 10:26 am
palo alto parent, Palo Alto High School
on Mar 12, 2013 at 10:26 am

I agree that it is time to stop dwelling on why this happened, fix the issue and make sure it does not happen again.

On another topic in the article - why does a public school district need a $150K PR person? Or any PR person?


neighbor
Greenmeadow
on Mar 12, 2013 at 10:27 am
neighbor, Greenmeadow
on Mar 12, 2013 at 10:27 am

$150,000 for a PR person???? That's how my parcel tax is being spent? Come on, school district, you need to show more fiscal responsibility.


Retired Teacher
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:00 am
Retired Teacher, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:00 am

Good for Laurie Reynolds, telling it like it is! Yes, this endless set of attacks on the District and its leaders is indeed a "tiresome, distracting, and unproductive loop." The guest editorial by board members Tom and Mitchell also made some good points, although not as strongly as they needed to be made. In particular, the Office of Civil Rights is not the Supreme Court of the United States, or any kind of court, and good people should be able to disagree with some of its interpretations without being vilified.

It would be a good and productive step if the Weekly and the people with what appears to be a never-ending vendetta against the District would offer to help be part of the solution, instead of using every problem as a way of getting what they couldn't get at the ballot box!


parent
Palo Alto High School
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:03 am
parent, Palo Alto High School
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:03 am

While I think clear and constant communication is essential for the success of any organization, it's really helps a lot if the organization is doing things right in the first place.... so that a PR person isn't necessary because there is no need to manage or do damage control of the image.


mom
Greene Middle School
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:10 am
mom, Greene Middle School
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:10 am

"At its meeting tonight, the school board will consider a proposal to immediately hire a district public relations person at an estimated salary of $150,000 a year as part of a package of new expenditures made possible by an improving financial picture."

Historical. THIS should be embarrassing for Skelly and the board. This is the first thing they can think of for an improving financial picture? Hiring a PR person for 150,000 is insane.

The only possible reason the district can justify this is because they will need to defend themselves from continued litigation (goodbye improving financial picture?), or worst they cannot handle their jobs.

It should NOT happen but whoever is being hired should consider it a temporary fix until we can hopefully get an honest Superintendent and a more capable board of education.








Crescent Park Mom
Crescent Park
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:16 am
Crescent Park Mom, Crescent Park
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:16 am

Don't spend money on PR (unless Fagen, Friedman and Fulfrost intend to pay)! What a waste.... Folks need to be held accountable and we need to move on to fix this thing. The attorney continues to cause the PR nightmare with this latest email. Didn't your mother ever tell you "don't put something in writing unless you intend for it to get published in the paper?! Seems like a bonehead move for a "partner". Maybe a seasoned attorney with their name on the door should take this one over before you cause anymore damage to PAUSDs public image?


Waiver waiver waiver
Greater Miranda
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:47 am
Waiver waiver waiver, Greater Miranda
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:47 am

This guy literally cannot do anything right. It would be funny if he wasn't in charge of our kids' education. As it is this is just pathetic. Who puts privileged communication on the web. Reynolds should fire the client they are trashing her reputation with their idiocy. She's not helping of course but seriously? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


parent
Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:57 am
parent, Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:57 am

In addition to district PR, if this PR person can help develop and implement a comprehensive district-wide communications plan, I'm all for it! Inconsistent PTA sponsored communications leads to all sorts of miscommunications.


GladToLiveInPA
Ohlone School
on Mar 12, 2013 at 12:47 pm
GladToLiveInPA, Ohlone School
on Mar 12, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Don't need $150k to have a PR person tell the district how to Do the Right Thing:

- communicate transparently and expediently;
- take ownership of mistakes;
- take decisive action on improvements.

(...as much as is possible within the confines of the law and Ed Code.)

It's not complicated. We teach our kids these ideas every day. Easy. And free!


David Pepperdine
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2013 at 1:09 pm
David Pepperdine, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Of course they want to move forward. So would any axe murderer.

In short, let's skip the accountability phase of this issue.


Roswitha
JLS Middle School
on Mar 12, 2013 at 1:29 pm
Roswitha, JLS Middle School
on Mar 12, 2013 at 1:29 pm

If they really want to make sure this does not happen again, they need to expel the children , permanently, who do these bullying things, and fire Kevin Skelly. It is as easy as that. Zero tolerance is not what we have been getting, despite claims to the contrary.


Jon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2013 at 1:35 pm
Jon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Given litigation and a settlement are being prominently highlighted above as a possible outcome, I'd love to know which school programs the above commentators would like to cut to accommodate that.


Waiver, waiver, waiver
Greater Miranda
on Mar 12, 2013 at 1:47 pm
Waiver, waiver, waiver, Greater Miranda
on Mar 12, 2013 at 1:47 pm

@david Pepperdine this is just wrong on so many levels. Her advice is from the playbook for corporate accidents. But PAUSD isn't BP or Union Carbide or Ford Pinto. PAUSD is a public agency under local democratic control. So while Reynolds might have decent advice for an axe murderer or a toxic spill she has horrible advice (stonewall the public) for a public school. Poor school board they are like a toddler play group trying to solve a particle physics problem. This is almost too painful to watch


Waiver waiver waiver
Greater Miranda
on Mar 12, 2013 at 1:55 pm
Waiver waiver waiver, Greater Miranda
on Mar 12, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Isn't it obvious Jon? Whichever ones your kids are in. Please fw the list to Laurie Reynolds so that your self-regard can be properly considered. Be sure to include a statement about how you care so deeply for the victim in this case. Somehow that was omitted from your post.


If, if, if
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 12, 2013 at 1:59 pm
If, if, if, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 12, 2013 at 1:59 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Alphonso
Los Altos Hills
on Mar 12, 2013 at 2:29 pm
Alphonso, Los Altos Hills
on Mar 12, 2013 at 2:29 pm

I agree with Retired Teacher. The Weekly does not appear interested in improving the situation at all - terrible journalism. The reason the district needs to waste money on a PR person is because the local paper seems to hate the school district and the teachers for some reason - I wish they had the guts to tell us why.


Retired Teacher
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 12, 2013 at 2:32 pm
Retired Teacher, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 12, 2013 at 2:32 pm

As a union rep in my former district (not PAUSD) I would have been opposed to hiring a PR person for a high salary. But given this district's poisonous atmosphere from a minority but a very vocal claque of scapegoaters, hiring a PR person seems like a wise choice.

To those who accuse the district of stonewalling the public--I'm part of the public, and I don't feel stonewalled. I voted for the current board members, along with a majority of voters, and not for Ken Dauber, and I feel well-represented.

Let's hear it for moving on, being positive, and above all, realizing that difficult problems like bullying and stress should not merely serve as an excuse to attack our hard-working school people. Instead, let's work together to improve the situation for everyone involved.


Blame Game
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 12, 2013 at 2:42 pm
Blame Game, Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 12, 2013 at 2:42 pm

"Historical. THIS should be embarrassing for Skelly and the board. This is the first thing they can think of for an improving financial picture? Hiring a PR person for 150,000 is insane."

Actually, no, the people you need to blame are those waging the vendetta. This action is required so the board can get it's message out. If the board is being continually attacked at every turn if they don't do what special interest groups want, the best option is to get their message out to counter those attacks.
This is purely a response to this special interest group who, as Retired Teacher stated "[are] using every problem as a way of getting what they couldn't get at the ballot box!".

So, if you're going to blame anyone for wasting the district's money...


Crescent Park Dad
Crescent Park
on Mar 12, 2013 at 2:43 pm
Crescent Park Dad, Crescent Park
on Mar 12, 2013 at 2:43 pm

@ neighbor/Greenmeadow: Parcel taxes cannot be spent on such items. Parcel taxes have specific uses that were outlined in the creation of the bond measure. We have two parcel taxes going - one for supplementing the costs to run programs such as art, music, etc. The other is for the construction programs across the various campuses.

I think the lawyer is the one that needs a PR professional - anyone could have written that memo without (whether intentional or not) coming off as a rat.

Be careful what you ask for...re: Zero Tolerance. Where do you draw the line and then who develops the endless list of interpretations and examples?

Not to offend anyone by this example --- A kid says, "You're fat!" Expulsion for that? Someone will consider this "hate speech". Someone else would say it was an ignorant remark that can be addressed with the student & parents.

I don't want to make light of anyone's concerns - but at some point, we need to be practical in developing appropriate responses to children doing dumb things (and I say it because most kids have no idea what they're doing without education to say otherwise).


Bob
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2013 at 2:48 pm
Bob, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2013 at 2:48 pm

A couple years ago the Board decided that they would not spend $200,000 to hold an election because there were no candidates for the Board. Elections are one of the mechanisms for people being able to learn directly what is going on at their local schools--from the point-of-view of their elected officials.

If this PR person is hired, the taxpayers will be now paying $300+K every two years--with little hope of ever being told the truth about what is going on in the District.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!


Jordan dad
Greene Middle School
on Mar 12, 2013 at 2:59 pm
Jordan dad, Greene Middle School
on Mar 12, 2013 at 2:59 pm

This is a classic case of circling the wagons, with a healthy dose of blame the messenger thrown in. Although in this case the messenger is the federal government with its pesky civil rights concerns. I was definitely entertained to learn that the US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is not the Supreme Court, and so we can safely ignore it. I left the Deep South thirty years ago, and I feel like I'm back.

Unfortunately Laurie Reynolds decided to lie in public for her client, and it turned out to be checkable. She would like to move on. School district staff decided first to hide the investigation and then also to lie about it, both actively and by sitting passively while the district's lawyer lied to the public. They would also like to move on. The board is scared of its own shadow. They would like to move on.

The point of figuring out what happened is not "heads will roll". Although maybe some people should be fired and if so we will be better off as a district without them. The point is to make sure it doesn't happen again. There is also the basic fact that this a public agency.

Once again the coverup is (probably) worse than the crime.


Martin L
Menlo Park
on Mar 12, 2013 at 3:00 pm
Martin L, Menlo Park
on Mar 12, 2013 at 3:00 pm

This issue, and many others where transparency has been non-existant, is why you guys needed an independent thinker on the Board. You had a chance to elect Ken Dauber, but you missed it.


Blame Game
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 12, 2013 at 3:24 pm
Blame Game, Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 12, 2013 at 3:24 pm

"This is a classic case of circling the wagons, with a healthy dose of blame the messenger thrown in."
That comment is a classic example of sour grapes. The board has as much right to get its message out as you have to attack it.


La verdad
Walter Hays School
on Mar 12, 2013 at 3:44 pm
La verdad, Walter Hays School
on Mar 12, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, the district’s lawyer advises the board to stonewall on public requests for transparency, so we can move forward. This is the same lawyer who misled the public at the last board meeting Web Link
and appears to be complicit with district staff in hiding the OCR settlement agreement from the board, in violation of Board Policy 2111: SUPERINTENDENT GOVERNANCE STANDARDS :

9. Understands that authority rests with the Board as a whole; provides guidance to the Board to assist in decision-making; and provides leadership based on the direction of the Board as a whole.
10. Communicates openly with trust and integrity, including providing all members of the Board with equal access to information and recognizing the importance of both responsive and anticipatory communications


I agree with @GladToLiveInPA. We don’t need an expensive PR person, we need people in positions of responsibility to take ownership of their mistakes. We need corrective action to ensure that this does not happen again. Then we can move on.


Concerned Taxpayer
Midtown
on Mar 12, 2013 at 4:32 pm
Concerned Taxpayer, Midtown
on Mar 12, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Hire a PR Consultant?! Seriously? There really is no money for this! If there is an excess, put it in the bank for the next time the district needs money! Yikes! It's coming down the road!


Engineer mom
Greenmeadow
on Mar 12, 2013 at 4:45 pm
Engineer mom, Greenmeadow
on Mar 12, 2013 at 4:45 pm

I am so disappointed to read the comments of those who are trying to excuse dishonesty from our school officials. I would not accept this behavior from my children for a minute. I certainly won't accept it from our public school leadership.


An observer
Charleston Meadows
on Mar 12, 2013 at 4:54 pm
An observer, Charleston Meadows
on Mar 12, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Excellent continuing work by veteran reporter Chris Kenrick and the Weekly! They are
shedding light on things a public agency wants hidden. That's local journalism at its best. The district should try transparency and honesty instead of spending $150,000 for PR spin.


Nice try
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2013 at 5:04 pm
Nice try, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Skelly is attempting to divert his incompetence to the lawyer by releasing her email. It's very slick but still insults the intelligence of any rational voter. Stay slick, Kevin, but you need to go. If you are still here July 1, then the board needs to go.


Spiro Agnew
another community
on Mar 12, 2013 at 5:04 pm
Spiro Agnew, another community
on Mar 12, 2013 at 5:04 pm

The press and the nattering nabobs of negativism are trying to destroy our leader.


mom
Greene Middle School
on Mar 12, 2013 at 5:28 pm
mom, Greene Middle School
on Mar 12, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Blame game,

"you need to blame are those waging the vendetta. This action is required so the board can get it's message out. If the board is being continually attacked at every turn if they don't do what special interest groups want

Someone is being hired for nearly as much as what a SCHOOL PRINCIPAL makes, please list all these scary special interests groups you are referring to. The usual group the board and Skelly get mad at is WCBPA. I will assume you are referring to them.

What is $150,000 annually going to buy?t Communications with WCBPA to stop them from asking for a better Advisory program at Gunn?

You have nailed it though - this is likely about handling parents the Skelly way, the Poway way

Is this what we are heading to?

SKELLY IN POWAY
Web Link

"A total of 25 kids with "learning differences" are involved in lawsuits with the district, 10News reported.

According to Skelly, that's not a lot. "To have 25 unhappy parents out of 3,000 -- that we have not been able to resolve with -- I think is very good," Skelly said.

Parents and students said more people are afraid to come forward because the district has a record of retaliation.

"In my opinion we are retaliated against," Smith said.

Retaliation like lawsuits, orders to gavel down parents at school board meetings to quiet them, and security personnel following parents on campus."



mom
Greene Middle School
on Mar 12, 2013 at 5:40 pm
mom, Greene Middle School
on Mar 12, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Blame game,

"This action is required so the board can get it's message out."

This action of hiring someone for $150,000 is not the requirement "for the board to get it's message out."

As I posted before, unless this is about continued litigation, you cannot possibly say that special interest groups are preventing the board form getting their message out.

The board talks plenty, and they are the only ones preventing themselves from getting their message out. I hate to think it's because they are this stupid and have nothing to say, and even scarier to think it's because they are in such big doo doo.

This PR 150,000 hire scares me because it spells Skelly has gotten us in a heap of trouble.

Messing like this with the community is terrible.


Old timer
Crescent Park
on Mar 12, 2013 at 5:44 pm
Old timer, Crescent Park
on Mar 12, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Frank Benest. I'm just saying.


Charlotte
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2013 at 6:44 pm
Charlotte, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2013 at 6:44 pm

If they really want to end this, the logical end to it all is to make sure the bullies have been permanently expelled for their heinous behavior. Then, as a true finale, show Dr Skelly the door.[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


PAHS Parent
Community Center
on Mar 12, 2013 at 8:41 pm
PAHS Parent, Community Center
on Mar 12, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Please stopped bullying Dr. Skelly.


sara
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2013 at 9:09 pm
sara, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2013 at 9:09 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]



Blame Game
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 12, 2013 at 9:41 pm
Blame Game, Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 12, 2013 at 9:41 pm

" please list all these scary special interests groups you are referring to. "
They know who they are and they know the system. There is nothing to stop them continuing doing as they have. But wasting time on them is simply that, a waste of time for the district. It's much more efficient to get an agent to deal with them and get back to the business of running the district.
They've failed twice at the ballot box and wasted enormous amount of resources for no discernible benefit.


waiver, waiver, waiver
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 12, 2013 at 9:59 pm
waiver, waiver, waiver, Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 12, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Holy cow, they are actually voting up the PR guy. This is an unfixable FUBAR trainwreck. Who puts their lawyers privileged communications on the internet, making public PR advice to stonewall the public and refuse to answer "tiresome" questions from the press, and then turns around and the same day hires a PR officer. It's not fixable. Whoa. I thought I was unshockable. Obviously the fact that the feds have intervened twice in the past year is not a coincidence. We deserve whatever happens now.


Paly parent
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 12, 2013 at 10:45 pm
Paly parent, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 12, 2013 at 10:45 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


See It Yourself
Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2013 at 10:56 pm
See It Yourself, Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Here is the right link for the Skelly scandal in PowWay School District, where our smart superintendent used to work: You can see that he did not do an excellent job there either. To Bad they got rid of him and sent him to our District.
Web Link


Johanna
Downtown North
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:02 pm
Johanna, Downtown North
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:02 pm

I think Skelly made this mess without help not because he needs a PR flack.


mom
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:12 pm
mom, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Hey Blame Game and waiver, waiver, waiver,

You guys may be neighbors, both Adobe-Meadows.

I watched the board meeting, and sounds like Blame Game has the inside scoop - they really are overwhelmed over there at Churchill.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]









support
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:26 pm
support, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:26 pm

i stand behind Skelly and the district. It's a shame that an obvious vendetta by the group who backed those who were not elected is now championed by the PA Weekly.

This is why I don't donate to the PA Weekly. Too biased. Too much of an agenda.


Lost at PAUSD: moral compass
Stanford
on Mar 13, 2013 at 1:42 am
Lost at PAUSD: moral compass, Stanford
on Mar 13, 2013 at 1:42 am

Is anyone in Sacramento following this mess? I thought if a school district couldn't manage its affairs well, state reps would step in. Are we there yet? And 150k to manage PR problems created by Skelly and the board? Outrageous insult to injury!! Massive vote of NO CONFIDENCE.


PAUSD supporter
College Terrace
on Mar 13, 2013 at 6:44 am
PAUSD supporter, College Terrace
on Mar 13, 2013 at 6:44 am

I support the district and the 12,000 students who attend school there. I am not so committed to specific employees as some of the people on this board. I definitely don't support the district's lawyer.

Thanks to the Weekly for reporting on this. When public officials aren't playing straight with the public, we need local journalism.


Blame Game
Crescent Park
on Mar 13, 2013 at 8:10 am
Blame Game, Crescent Park
on Mar 13, 2013 at 8:10 am

@mom,
"...they really are overwhelmed over there at Churchill."
Glad you agree. However, "overwhelmed" isn't the word I'd use. More like out of patience with groups abusing process simply to further their own agenda.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


parent
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2013 at 8:41 am
parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2013 at 8:41 am

Of course the district wanted to do the training itself rather than have the OCR do it -- they couldn't have teachers confused by training so antithetical to this administrations' policies and biases toward special needs parents.


neighbor
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2013 at 8:43 am
neighbor, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2013 at 8:43 am

I recommend watching the replay of the Board meeting.
I guess I missed the part of them voting for the costly PR person. I did see the open forum and there were some very compelling speakers from the public.
There should be an open investigation into this bullying mess.
If I am correct from what I read here and they DID hire the PR person, that is a mis-spending of taxpayer dollars and an outrage. Everyone should remember this, and also we need more people to run for school board, which is much easier for the incumbents to do, but we need new and varied viewpoints.


parent
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2013 at 8:45 am
parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2013 at 8:45 am

Wow, our own little "We've given all you people need to know"


parent
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2013 at 8:49 am
parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2013 at 8:49 am

So this hiring of a PR person brings up an interesting issue for me. What oversight do parents have to ensure the administration in this district doesn't become insular and top heavy? That includes the board, they don't seem to be functioning as our watch dogs. I mean, the governor's salary gets reviewed and re-set, even reduced by a citizen committee. It seems to me we have twice as many administrators as we need, and they're paid an awful lot. And now they are hiring a PR person at our expense to whitewash their performance misdeeds.

What recourse do we parents have to reorg the admin and cut the dead wood and serious liabilities?


parent
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2013 at 9:02 am
parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2013 at 9:02 am

@ "retired teacher"
"this endless set of attacks on the District and its leaders"

I support our district and our kids, just like the Weekly is doing, by holding incompetent leaders accountable and calling for better leadership with the higher ethical and professional standards our families deserve.


parent
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2013 at 9:09 am
parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2013 at 9:09 am

If the district hires a PR person to whitewash our administrations' professional misdeeds, isn't that "misappropriation of public funds"? Isn't it wrong for us to be paying for the district lawyer to be covering for the administrations' failings, rather than protecting the district (on behalf of families, for whom the district exists to serve)? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Blame Game
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 13, 2013 at 10:17 am
Blame Game, Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 13, 2013 at 10:17 am

@parent,
It's not to "whitewash our administrations' professional misdeeds". It is to deal with the waste of time and resources.
What would you prefer the board do: "Run the district" or "Spend all their time countering attacks"?
You can't make the SIGs stop, that's the point of having a public agency under local democratic control. They have as much rights to talk, email, make PPRs and waste district time as anyone else.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


PR is Election Funding
Greene Middle School
on Mar 13, 2013 at 10:18 am
PR is Election Funding, Greene Middle School
on Mar 13, 2013 at 10:18 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


village fool
Registered user
another community
on Mar 13, 2013 at 4:27 pm
village fool, another community
Registered user
on Mar 13, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Thank you! I can not recall who shared the link to list of public records - Web Link
Last request is listed from June/2012. Not too many requests. Or, does another public records requests needed in order to have the list of the requests submitted after June/2012 listed on this site?
I think that knowing of public records requests is a tiny, good step. I feel that the family who came forward to the weekly with the OCR agreement, triggering this whole "Lawyer" issue and many others, did that knowing that there may be interest in the OCR investigation. I doubt the family would have done that if the info about attempts to shed light were not out. I can never know, of course.
I think it is important to remember that all the latest "awareness" in the district approach happened ONLY because of the family who came forward.
Nobody - including PAUSD board - was on the "to know" list of this investigation/agreement. So it seemed.

@editor - would it make sense to have this thread listed also under school & kids in Town square?


the_punnisher
Registered user
Mountain View
on Mar 13, 2013 at 4:35 pm
the_punnisher, Mountain View
Registered user
on Mar 13, 2013 at 4:35 pm

When a person who has the credentials ( see my other comments on this issue ) shakes her head and said that she wouldn't touch this job, you KNOW the PAUSD has a BIG problem with the people at the top. The news has been so bad that the antics are on a par with the " Harper Valley PTA " song and are almost as entertaining if it wasn't reality.

" This is just a little Payton Place and you are all PAUSD Hypocrites "

( with apologies to Jeannie C. Riley and Tom T. Hall )

And Palo Alto is supposed to be the home of some of the most successful people in the world....I will not go into what the rest of the nation says about Palo Alto...South Park already did a good job on describing the SFBA.....and YES, there is a real South Park, CO.....


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