Palo Alto urges safety improvements along Caltrain corridor

Means restriction, as a form of suicide prevention, comes into urgent focus

As the Palo Alto school district continues to work on its campuses to respond to a teen suicide cluster, the city has proposed to Caltrain a series of potential safety improvements for the Palo Alto corridor in the hopes that additional measures will help prevent future suicide attempts.

The city is asking Caltrain to upgrade the fencing along the four miles of tracks that run through Palo Alto to minimize access; allow the city to install motion-detection cameras that would alert the city's Emergency Operations Center if it detects a person loitering in the area or a vehicle on the rail line's right of way; and continue its removal of trees and shrubs to increase visibility along the corridor, according to a letter summarizing a March 6 meeting between city staff, including City Manager James Keene, Police Chief Dennis Burns and Director of Emergency Operations Ken Dueker, and Caltrain officials, including CEO Jim Harnett and Deputy CEO of Safety and Security Gigi Harrington.

"While we recognize that Caltrain has responsibility for the entire rail corridor, the disproportionate number of teen suicides along the four-mile corridor in Palo Alto and suicides in general indicate a special crisis along the Palo Alto stretch and warrants further analysis, focus and resources," Keene wrote in the March 16 letter to Mark Simon, Caltrain's executive director for public affairs.

The strategy of means restriction has become an even more urgent focus for the city this year, backed by research that many suicide attempts occur with little advance planning during a sudden emotional crisis and that "intent isn't all that determines whether an attempter lives or dies; means also matter," according to Means Matter, a Harvard University School of Public Health suicide-prevention project working to promote activities that reduce people's access to lethal means of suicide.

City staff initiated meetings last month with Caltrain to explore what can be done more "aggressively" on this front, said Director of Community Services Rob de Geus, who is also one of the city's two leads on youth well-being coalition Project Safety Net. Project Safety Net also recently hired a temporary contractor to conduct research on means restriction in conjunction with the Office of Emergency Services.

At a meeting of the city/school liaison committee Thursday morning, Councilman Pat Burt expressed a sense of urgency in moving forward on safety improvements with Caltrain.

"We frankly are trying to convince Caltrain to move on these measures more aggressively and more comprehensively," Burt said, adding that Caltrain's budget for such measures is "inadequate in our minds."

He said the city has expressed to Caltrain a "willingness to devote capital resources to supplement their budget." Keene also wrote in his March 16 letter that the city is interested in jointly pursuing federal funds to support suicide prevention along rail corridors.

Keene's letter to Simon requested a cost estimate for making sure all fences on both sides of the Palo Alto corridor are 8 feet high. It also plans a meeting between the city and Caltrain to discuss piloting an "experimental camera system" along the rail line that offers "smart" analytics that can detect people and their behavior, such as someone lingering near the tracks, and send that information immediately to the city's Emergency Operations Center.

"When it comes to improving safety on our railroad tracks, we're listening and trying to be open to the community," Tasha Bartholomew, acting public information officer for Caltrain, told the Weekly Friday.

She said that Caltrain hopes to provide the cost estimates before June 30, the end of this fiscal year. Caltrain is also researching the impacts fencing and tree-removal might have on rail operations and neighbors who live adjacent to the tracks, Bartholomew said.

"We really just want to provide support and be there to help with this community issue," Bartholomew said. "We're trying to become part of the solution."

Key to moving forward on Palo Alto's proposals, Burt and Keene said Thursday, is a shift in Caltrain's focus, which is on their entire system rather than Palo Alto specifically.

"We've seen nothing to date publicly that Caltrain is recognizing this as a real existential risk to their transportation system," he said. "Part of the discussion is that we need to approach the Caltrain board, in parallel with efforts to address this with their executive leadership, for them to recognize that the status quo and the traditional means of doing this and prioritization that they placed on this historically is inadequate today."

"This is a triage situation," Keene said Thursday. "We're looking at the most critical location, which is undisputedly here in Palo Alto. We're offering potentials to be able to assist to ensure that triage."

Caltrain has also asked if the Palo Alto Police Department can assume oversight of the track guards who monitor several Palo Alto crossings. The guards, who are employed by Vallejo-based Val Security, are currently overseen by the Community Services Department, but management of their contract will soon be shifted to the police department, according to a city staff report.

City Council will also consider Monday contract and budget amendments to cover an additional $123,000 that was spent at Keene's discretion this year to increase the track guards' coverage and enough funds to cover the current level of services through June 30, according to a staff report. Funding for track security is drawn from the $2 million in funds earmarked for Project Safety Net from the Stanford Medical Center Development Agreement Fund.

Shortly after the city/school liaison meeting Thursday morning, the Caltrain board met in San Carlos to approve a resolution expressing concern about continuing deaths by suicide, reaffirming its commitment to "being an active partner in mental health and suicide prevention efforts."

The resolution also advocates for "responsible" media coverage of suicides and commits Caltrain to participating in "activities that educate the news media about the benefits of restraint in reporting on these incidents."

A presentation made at the board meeting also mentions a long-term goal regarding fencing: "ensure continuous fencing is in place on at least one side of the corridor with combination of railroad and private property fencing." Since 2005, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (JPB) has spent almost $9 million on fence installations under four capital projects, according to Caltrain, mostly funded through external grants.

"They want to be part of the prevention collaborative," de Geus said. "but we'll have to see. We want to see action."

Resources: How to help those in crisis

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6 people like this
Posted by reasonable
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 3, 2015 at 2:55 pm

These all sound like reasonable suggestions IMO. Although they likely won't solve the problem entirely, they're all worth implementing.

18 people like this
Posted by priorities
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 3, 2015 at 3:21 pm

I do agree with some amount of barriers to make trespassing on the tracks more difficult. But I question if spending millions on this project is a better use of tax money than spending that money on mental health care. Mental health care has to be our primary method of dealing with mental health issues like depression and suicide.

2 people like this
Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 3, 2015 at 6:17 pm

The staff report for the item on yesterday's CalTrain Board of Directors meeting agenda is here:
Web Link

I hope CalTrain, the City, the County and others can make substantive progress here soon.

11 people like this
Posted by Another Dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 3, 2015 at 6:21 pm

Great, except this is a bandaid at best. I'm afraid that once these safety measures are approved, the school will think they are "off the hook" again and will then fail to make the other changes that are more important.

19 people like this
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 3, 2015 at 7:49 pm

Alphonso is a registered user.

Another Dad
People need to to realize mental health is an issue all by itself although there are some things that might help. Of those other things most of the changes must be made within the homes. It is the parents who try to get off the hook by pretending the "school" is at fault. Too many clueless parents in PA.

11 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 3, 2015 at 10:24 pm

Come, come. Deaths on Caltrain are not just a Palo Alto issue. Caltrain have had 10 this year so far, only a couple were Palo Alto students, one was in Palo Alto but not a student, not even a Palo Alto resident.

Caltrain has to do something about access to their tracks all along the line, not just in Palo Alto. A higher fence, with barb wire on the top. CCTV cameras at every grade crossing with fines and penalties with anyone who hangs around beyond the green light. This is a minimum.

Long term we need grade separation at every crossing, but not just in Palo Alto but the whole length of the track. Whatever system is used it has to be done the same, we can't possibly have a roller coaster under and over system! We need to get some serious funding to get it done - isn't there some federal grant for public transportation safety or something that can be applied, and a vehicle tax increase to pay for it.

Caltrain has third world accessibility to its tracks. European commuter tracks are much better protected.

Deaths on Caltrain are much too frequent. Apart from the sad loss of life there is also the impact on all train operators and emergency personnel who have to clean up and the frequency of these acts takes a toll on all Caltrain passengers as they are delayed, making them late for important appointments, as well as family commitments means that there is great urgency to get something done.

7 people like this
Posted by Dad III
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 4, 2015 at 3:19 pm

Guards and separated grade crossing are money poorly spent. Better to reprint Kate Morrison's "Conscious Neglect", online here
Web Link,
and mail it to all middle school parents.

13 people like this
Posted by relentlesscactus
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2015 at 6:24 pm

relentlesscactus is a registered user.

Does everyone fail to remember that the City and Caltrain and God did everything they could last time there was a cluster? So now, the intent is to do even more of the same? What was done resulted in the greatest temporal concentration of deaths ever. The answer is do more of that?

All must accept a truth that they cannot accept: nothing can be done. This idea that the mental health community has that the means of access must be denied is false. Without sealing the corridor, impossible in a less than a couple of decades time, the means of access can be EASILY circumvented. The tracks were not fenced through Palo Alto until several years ago. Now they are fenced, the suicides continue. Why? People intent on killing themselves are mentally ill, not stupid.

The parent fault? Not enough time listening to their kids? The schools fault? A friend lost his child in one of the clusters. They did everything they could for him. He was in a locked facility the night he died. A guard was on duty. He escaped. He went where there was no guard. Simple.

Too much homework? Please. Not everyone responds to stress by killing themselves.

More of the same will yield more of the same.

As far as ever sealing the tracks, Palo Alto's elitist attitude will result forever in nothing. No federal grants are going to magically come along for billions of dollars for a four mile trench for a "special" city, because Palo Alto isn't special. The only funding for total grade separation will come when Palo Alto accepts that it is going to be elevated, not in a trench.


Everyone in the industry knows it. Palo Alto will forever be condemned to its dangerous grade crossings until it accepts that it must raise the roadbed. I'm talking here about traffic deaths from people who get confused or are over-agressive and stop on the tracks. Everyone who dies between now and when Palo Alto accepts this is on the blood of the elitists who will only accept a never-to-be-funded golden trench.

Until then, those of us in the industry on the outside laugh sadly at Palo Alto.

2 people like this
Posted by Question
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2015 at 9:06 pm

Has anyone considered the idea of moving the school to a different location?
A place far away from the haunting train horn (daily reminder that a friend and class mate died on the tracks).
This kind of change could give the teachers and teens a fresh new start and a hope of a better live.. I can do this attitude.
The current location is forming a bad memories for all students, teachers, parents and future students to come.
How can any of us succeed if all we see before us is sadness and fear.
A few more camera's just doesn't seem enough to give hope to those in pain.
Seriously think about it... are the lives lost not worth the effort to make thing better for our youth's future?

2 people like this
Posted by Patrick
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 6, 2015 at 8:42 am

I think Palo Alto and other Caltrain communities need to build grade separation at all intersections and sound walls along the length of the tracks.

2 people like this
Posted by VS
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 6, 2015 at 8:52 am

So glad to see the City Council taking proactive steps with Caltrain on this. All suggestions seem reasonable toward eliminating the "means," one key component in a multi-pronged approach.

11 people like this
Posted by Another dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 6, 2015 at 9:13 am

Gunn has a lot of suicides because Gunn dumps abusive and utterly destructive amounts of homework and stress on kids and refuses to back off or even talk to parents. This is the reality.

Sure some kids are fine, some kids might even prosper under that load, but many others kids, the vast majority, are relentless ground down till they are depressed, exhausted, sleep deprived, and desperate.

[Portion removed.] Read the letter from Palo Alto pediatricians, published here in this newspaper Web Link.

It is about school stress. It really is that simply, and we parents are no longer going to listen to the usual junk answers from the usual apologists for this abusive school system.

At this point, either the school system start making meaningful change, in the form of drastic homework pullbacks and monitoring of teacher abuse, either they make the changes that have ALREADY been suggested by a broad coalition of parents and physicians, or the school district will eventually be hit by massive lawsuits (lawsuits in which very large numbers of parents, hundreds at least, will support).

The school system can no longer claim ignorance. The publishing of the Pediatrician letter is a watershed moment. It puts them on notice of their own legal liability.

Like this comment
Posted by DZ
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Apr 6, 2015 at 9:59 am

Another dad,
Apparently Caltrain is not a problem for you since your kids don't have to walk/bike cross the track everyday. But others have to face the ugly, noisy monster almost everyday. The impact is real and it is very destructive. Glad to see our city is working on the right things.
Gunn is a great school! It offers great resources for kids who are seeking academical excellence. For sure it is very competitive because there are many many talented kids there. It is parent's job to make sure your kids have a positive view on life, and teach them to seeking balance in work and life. We also need to give all the kids a safe, relaxed environment for them to grow in. This is what people are trying to do here.
Gunn is just fine. Kids there are awesome!

2 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 6, 2015 at 10:50 am

The all or nothing blame game on these forums still astounds me. It's either the school or the parents. Nothing in between. No other factors. Alcohol, no. Drugs, no. Abusive relationships, no. Bullying, no. Mental health, issues, no. Body image issues, no. Online social media, no.
[Portion removed.]

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Posted by sandragifford
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 6, 2015 at 10:59 am

This article, which appeared in NYT emphasizes the importance of impulse in the teen age mind and the availability of method in suicide
Web Link

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Posted by Another Dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 6, 2015 at 12:03 pm


Maybe your kids love Gunn high and the fact that it's "highly competitive" (translation: high pressure, unrelenting, overloaded).

However the fact is that many, many children are being crushed by the pressure, and the school WILL BE held legally responsible for overloading them. You can try to shift the blame to Caltrain, the parents, etc etc all you want. It's not going to hold water any more. Too many parents are seeing behind the evasions now.

5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 6, 2015 at 12:30 pm

This is not an article about PA schools. It is an article about the deaths on Caltrain tracks.

From cars stuck on tracks as well as suicides, Caltrain has already had 10 deaths this year.

These deaths are not all due to PA schools.

Caltrain needs to improve safety for every single Peninsula town, resident, visitor, worker, driver, etc. etc. It needs to be all along the tracks not just Palo Alto. It needs to be done coroporately and not piecemeal. I would be happy to have a vehicle/license/gas tax to get funding for additional safety features all along the tracks and this would alternatively improve the system with less delays and additional service.

1 person likes this
Posted by John Galt
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 6, 2015 at 12:52 pm

I think all trains should be required to fully stop at all crossings and maintain a maximum speed of 25 mph through Palo Alto for the safety of her citizens..

Like this comment
Posted by wrong side of the tracks
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 6, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Cal train should shave joined forces with HighSpeed rail and started digging a trench. All the people who live anywhere near this train (which a a good chuck of PA and MP) should realize that a RAISED TRIAN = MORE NOISE. Yes to less horns, but when that monster rumbles by it will be louder and shake your windows. HSP was proposed to share the track with CalTRain so that would have been a good time for all levels of government to work together and make it better for EVERYONE.

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 6, 2015 at 1:06 pm

@ J Galt: You know as well as anyone else that will never happen. PA is not the only place where there is a problem of people on the tracks. Do what you suggest and people will stop riding the train. Further, 25mph does not stop anyone's demise.

@ Wrong side: Caltrain insists that it is the local community who is financially responsible for raising the funds for grade separation. Their logic is simple - their tracks pre-exist just about every cross-road on *their* right of way.

13 people like this
Posted by Sean W - Parent of two Palo Alto Teens
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 6, 2015 at 3:12 pm

Caltrain's tracks are just a convenient means to a terribly sad end. There is nothing dangerous or inadequate about our rail system. There is something dangerous and inadequate about our education system. Palo Alto teens are being driven to suicide. I believe the state owns a huge part of the blame.

Our statewide educational system actively sells a large percentage of our "public" University of California undergraduate placements to foreigners, as its only viable means to pay its bills. Our ever-frugal state, meanwhile, pinches pennies, even as property values soar, thanks to the seemingly unbreakable shortsightedness of Prop 13 "tax relief." From K-college, our schools our underfunded, and the state, and it's tightfisted taxpayers, are to blame for everything from the unavailability of university seats to its scattershot approach to mental health services.

Meanwhile, our over-achieving community pushes its kids to achieve 4.3 GPAs for a chance at one of the unsold college seats. Palo Alto kids, many of whom get practically-perfect grades in their practically-perfect schools, are ironically at a disadvantage in this juggernaut: colleges cap the number of kids accepted from each high school. Coming from Gunn or Paly means you're probably well educated, and well prepared for success - and also that you're competing with 100 other Paly and Gunn kids for the same handful of seats. What you're not prepared for, as a Palo Alto kid, is failure - of being denied access to the schools that you've worked so hard to earn your way into; of progressing toward the kind of career your parents are probably lucky enough to have. That creates a deep, disturbing, heartbreaking pressure on our hardworking kids. I see it in my own daughters and in their peers, all of whom have teen years filled with anxiety, and nothing like the relatively pressure-free high school days I remember.

Compound this with the effect of what might otherwise be mild mental illness, and the school district's fumbling efforts to address it, and you have the making of a long train of tragedy. From first hand experience, I can say, with certainty, that mental health is not the school district's area of strength. The District simply isn't capable of addressing the pressures that break our kids, or providing the individual attention required to help kids with very individual needs. Our schools have been forced to compete with each other, as have our students, and the pressure falls squarely onto our kids' shoulders. When it comes to kids with mental health problems, it attempts to address them with one-size-fits-all programs that invariably fail to fit all, and let some of our precious children slip through the cracks.

I have friend in Finland who drives passenger locomotives. She has had to deal with the memory of three different people killing themselves in front of her trains; most of her fellow drivers have been through it, too. Choosing to die by train is a fact of life around the world, not just in Palo Alto. It's no coincidence that it's the method of suicide chosen by Palo Alto high school kids, many of whom cross the tracks to get to school every day. But will we try to fix the problem of stressed-out, anxious teens, faced with high expectations and needlessly uncertain futures, by eliminating guns, razor blades, sleeping pills and tall bridges, too? Fixing the railroad fence is stuffing money into the wrong holes. Let's focus on why these kids choose to die and fix that problem, first.

11 people like this
Posted by Evan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 6, 2015 at 4:19 pm

The entire corridor should be grade separated. I don't want to see any more friends or fellow Paly grads tempt fate and step in front of a train. I want the entire thing either above or below ground. I'm sick and tired of selfish Palo Altans stomping their feet on the ground to oppose HSR or grade separation. This is a basic safety issue, and we should not have a 80mph train running at grade level.

Like this comment
Posted by DZ
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Apr 6, 2015 at 4:58 pm

Those who don't think the train is a problem (maybe not the only problem though) is just ignore the elephant in the room. There are many competitive schools in Bay area, in the country, but our death rate by train maybe higher than all the others, combined. Why, because the train is right there, so easy to access, you see it everyday, you hear it everyday, you scared of it everyday, yet, you pulled by it when you are most vulnerable... For people live in other places, by train may never comes to mind when people looking for way to go since they never see one.
So, we don't have money for grade separation, upgrade train is in, God knows when... at least we can raise the fence, just as people did with golden gate bridge. That is a sensible thing that our city can do.

5 people like this
Posted by Gunn Mom
a resident of Mayfield
on Apr 6, 2015 at 6:17 pm

I have spoke to dozens of fellow parents in the past few weeks, since the furor over the suicide. I have been shocked to hear how many of them have horror stories about Gunn teachers overloading their kids with stress.

Parents are's Gunn's policies are the problem. Talk to students...they will tell you that the stress is the problem. Some of them have come online and literally begged to be heard.

So it's frustrating to see people blaming the proximity of the train. It's just so wrong and so dishonest. Trains don't make kids depressed. Aggressive teachers, chronic sleep deprivation, and constant bullying by the school makes kids depressed. The train is merely the method, not the cause.

How many more dead kids will it take, to wake up this community.

9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 6, 2015 at 6:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The schools simply reflect what the customers/parents demand.

The ONLY way that the PAUSD is going to change is if it is faced with viable competition - home schooling and charter schools are the perfect means of educational competition.

I continue to wonder why so many Palo Alto parents demand change but refuse to be agents of change.

Like this comment
Posted by Stressed Out
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 6, 2015 at 8:39 pm

[Post removed.]

8 people like this
Posted by An avearage Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 6, 2015 at 9:45 pm

You can fence the train tracks. But if a kid wants to commit suicide or any one for that matter, they will find a way. We are missing the point. A 4.3 + gpa does not gurantee you anything in life. What we fail to recognize is getting our kids to their dreams, not ours. I was an average student and went on to have a successful carerr. I have dyxlexia and in my day, the nuns called me lazy. It was not until college that I was diagnosed with a learning disability. I overcame it. But my parents were smart enough to work with me and let me know that they were proud of me and knew I would find my place in the world. I let my sons get one C in high school every semenster. They did not go to Ivy colleges, but they are happy, well adjusted and finding their way. Both are dyslexic and they are not feeling bad that they were not 4.0 high school students. They are now both on the Dean's list at their respective colleges. Parents need to chill out...

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Posted by DZ
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Apr 6, 2015 at 10:31 pm

I don't understand why people has to argue against something that for sure will help and emphases on their views. Both will help and we should be doing both! But reducing stress is much bigger, harder, uncertain, so a long term task, while fixing the fence is short term executable! I don't see one conflicts another. And we should go ahead with it.

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Posted by Harlan Pinto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 7, 2015 at 4:10 am

In the many meetings on high speed rail the "tunneling option" was put forward by many residents. The effect on reducing access to the tracks was put forward in the context of the deaths of all types and the effect on eliminating suicides at the grade crossings is obvious. The city staff, city council and regional representitaves may have lost an opportunity to leverage state and federal funding to bury the train (not trench or elevate) with a result of no access, no noise, and the potential for a "bicycle highway" over the right of way. This may still be the best solution for many parts of the SF to San Jose corridor. Expensive - yes, but not prohibitively so, and the option with the most benefit to our community.

Helping our children and young adults will take efforts on all fronts. We are most challenged to turn this train corridor problem into something positive - like a bicycle highway.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 7, 2015 at 6:44 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"We are most challenged to turn this train corridor problem into something positive - like a bicycle highway."

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 25, 2015 at 2:36 pm
"One thought is the put the trains underground, use the surface rights above it for housing in the stretches between stations and use the surface above the stations for transit connections and parking. The surface area of the current right of way is very valuable land - particularly in Atherton - and could generate a lot of the needed capital.

Why not take this as an opportunity to design a multi-dimensional, multi-purpose system that uses the existing right-of-way that includes CalTrain, HSR, utility conduits for telephone and internet cables, surface housing with high density housing around each station. And add a pedestrian path and a separate bicycle path on the surface along the entire right of way. And include 3 or 4 12" conduits for the technology of the future.

We should think of this right of way as an integrated multi-modal communications spine for the peninsula."

Do it once and do it right.

2 people like this
Posted by Another dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 7, 2015 at 7:36 am

@Peter Carpenter --"The schools simply reflect what the customers/parents demand."

This is a fallacy. In fact the schools pick and choose which parents they listen to. If there are a hundred parents yelling for less pressure, the school will listen instead to the 1 parent who is pushing for more pressure.

The institutional culture of the school is the problem. They don't want to teach average students. They have forgotten they are a public school that needs to deal with average students. Instead they want to convert themselves into an elite rigorous school.

Also they want to slam kids with homework because the state is slamming them with higher and higher requirements all the time. Teachers are getting slammed, and they turn around and pass that down to kids. Since the kids DON'T have a union, and since the parents don't have any say in the workings of the school (and in fact are utterly shut out at Gunn) then ultimately it's the kids, and their families, who are getting crushed.

I'm here to say that that is fundamentally immoral and unethical, and will (and SHOULD) ultimately lead to lawsuits. I don't think anybody is going to read these comments and make changes...I think lawsuits are inevitable. I'm writing it here so that, when the lawsuits hit, we can point here to this public forum and say "you were warned, you chose to ignore it, this is an example of how reckless you have been."

We need lawyers to make an example of Palo Alto. There are schools going down this path all over the country and potentially thousands of kid suicides in other communities. We need to make an example of Palo Alto so those other schools get a wakeup call that yes, they will be held legally and financially liable for the deaths that they cause.

I suspect this message will be deleted by nervous editors, so I'm going to save it and re-post whenever possible.

2 people like this
Posted by margaret
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 7, 2015 at 9:24 am

when i was a child the village was not cut in half by the fences....the so called safety improvements...more fences more fences...wrecked our little village in ways people do not grasp because they never knew the freedom of simple crossing

4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 7, 2015 at 9:35 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"@Peter Carpenter --"The schools simply reflect what the customers/parents demand."

This is a fallacy. In fact the schools pick and choose which parents they listen to."

Wrong - the parents also get to pick which school that they send their children to; if the school does not listen to you then take your business elsewhere. Do home schooling or set up a charter school.

1 person likes this
Posted by Charter Schools?
a resident of another community
on Apr 7, 2015 at 11:54 am

"...if the school does not listen to you then take your business elsewhere. Do home schooling or set up a charter school."

Some years ago some parents threatened to set up a charter school if the school district didn't do what those parents wanted, so the school district did what those parents wanted and the parents left their children in Palo Alto schools, and then the suicides started happening.

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Posted by Get Real
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 7, 2015 at 2:40 pm

"The entire corridor should be grade separated."

Costs too much. Fencing off the grade crossings would be just as effective and would prevent car-train collisions as well.

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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Apr 7, 2015 at 3:15 pm

"Fencing off the grade crossings would be just as effective and would prevent car-train collisions as well."

Do you mean closing off roads across the tracks, or are you suggesting we fence everywhere except for the at grade crossings, i.e. except for the only places where those kinds of collisions actually occur?

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Posted by Another dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 7, 2015 at 3:58 pm

"parents also get to pick which school that they send their children to; if the school does not listen to you then take your business elsewhere."

Wrong. Setting up a charter school takes years and resources that parents don't have. The local school district can shoot them down, and they do routinely. Schools fight tooth and nail to maintain their monopoly on those tax dollars.

We do NOT have freedom to send our kids where-ever we want. That is nonsensical fantasy. We are mandated by the state and the system to go to the school in the city where we live. The average private school is $25K per year, well out of the range of most people.

If we pull out kids out, even for medical reasons, the state can and will send police to the door and literally force those kids back. Moving is a very tough process.

No matter how you fantasize about it, this is a system where parents are forced, and yes I mean send kids to a school which is destructive to many kids, and where suicides happen with frightening regularity. Families are trapped and that is exactly the problem.

If you want to fight for a voucher system, so that we really do have that freedom you speak of, fine, make it happen. That could take years. I and other parents don't have years to wait. Our kids are in danger RIGHT NOW.

[Portion removed.] Gunn high does NOT represent the desires of most local parents and does NOT listen to the majority of parents and IS toxic to the majority of kids. That is reality.

[Portion removed.]

If you want to argue, fine, it doesn't really matter. This issue is going to end up in a court of law, and maybe in the national headlines, and that's where it belongs.

It's time to strip away all this hand waving and denial, and get to the facts.

6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 7, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"It's time to strip away all this hand waving and denial, and get to the facts."

Hundreds of charter schools HAVE been established in California - it takes courage and determination.

Thousands of students are legally home schooled in California - it takes courage and determination.

Evidently it is much easier to blame others for the failures rather than taking control of your children's education.

4 people like this
Posted by just don't get it
a resident of Southgate
on Apr 9, 2015 at 6:39 pm

I don't understand putting up higher fences...especially with barbed wire. If determined they can just go to an intersection...even with the guards. Putting up the high, barbed fences just makes the area look like a prison camp. Short of under grounding the trains or intersections it won't stop the determined. One needs to attend to the underling issues that create this depression or desperation.

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 9, 2015 at 10:25 pm

Even BART hasn't stopped the determined. (No statistics available.)

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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