Top Palo Alto school administrator named superintendent in Benicia

Associate superintendent Charles Young to leave after four years

Palo Alto Unified School District Associate Superintendent Charles Young will be leaving next month to take the top position in the Benicia Unified School District in Solano County, the Benicia school board announced Wednesday.

Young, who has served as associate superintendent in Palo Alto for four years, will take over as superintendent in Benicia effective July 1. His contract in Palo Alto was not set to expire until June 2017.

Young said Thursday that he's "had the goal of being a superintendent for awhile," saw the opening in Benicia and decided to apply. It's also much closer to his home in Alamo.

At a special meeting on Wednesday, the Benicia Board of Education officially approved Young's three-year contract, which includes an annual salary of $195,000.

Benicia is an approximately 5,000-student K-12 district with four elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, one continuation high school and a pre-school program. Young will be taking over for Superintendent Janice Adams, who has served as the district's top official since 2007 and announced her retirement in January.

Young came to Palo Alto in 2011 from the Pleasanton Unified School District, where he had worked as a high school English teacher, middle and elementary school principal and director of secondary education.

Palo Alto superintendent Max McGee congratulated Young on the new opportunity and said it's also an opportunity for the district to rethink the position of associate superintendent.

He described the position as almost a "catch-all job" with responsibilities that range from evaluating all site principals to processing Uniform Complaint Procedures and serving as the district's compliance coordinator for federal gender equity law Title IX.

McGee is currently working on rewriting the job description so that it's better aligned with the district's current strategic goals, he said. He will be meeting with the district leadership team next week to get their input, he said. The goal is to post the job by the end of next week and have a new hire in place before the start of the 2015-16 school year.

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6 people like this
Posted by Wonderful!
a resident of College Terrace
on May 7, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Dr. Young will be a great superintendent for Benicia. He did a great job with my children. There are many tough issues in Palo Alto where he has been unfairly criticized. He will lead his new district with heart and passion. I wish him all the best!

2 people like this
Posted by Wonderful 2
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 7, 2015 at 4:55 pm

[Post removed.]

11 people like this
Posted by Wonderful 2
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 7, 2015 at 6:18 pm

Suggestion to McGee:

We're all still smarting, and you should make other changes, urgently. Why not instead hire a few Stanford interns and an ombudsman for the same money? We would get energy and commitment, and could quickly get rid of anyone not really doing their jobs. You really need an interim situation in which someone proactively works on the trust and communications issues. Get help from Stanford, I'll bet Challenge Success could suggest a few really high-quality people. It could be great for them and for us. Better still, they could get to work today on solving some of our problems for the next school year.

29 people like this
Posted by The Best News of the Year
a resident of Barron Park
on May 7, 2015 at 6:44 pm

Thanks Dr. McGee for starting to clean house. This are the second best news I heard since Skelly announced he was living. Hope the special education director is next. Our children deserve the best. They are our future.

2 people like this
Posted by Support our schools
a resident of Downtown North
on May 8, 2015 at 7:41 am

Support our schools is a registered user.

Congrats to Dr Young. He has been a supporter of students and staff for years and is highly respected in the district. From his leadership on the LCAP to the Strategic Plan, and all the intricacies of supporting principals and directors, he has led with integrity throughout, regardless of what some anonymous individuals here might write who have no clue as to his real work or impact in the district. His departure is a great loss and certainly Benicia's gain. I wish him well and hope Dr McGee can find someone close to the same level of intellect, competence and compassion.

7 people like this
Posted by Wo Nellie
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2015 at 8:11 am

Wo Nellie is a registered user.

Regardless of what a few anonymous district insiders may say, there is much joy and relief among parents in the district. And quite a few district insiders...

Wouldn't you be happier then by joining him?

4 people like this
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 8, 2015 at 1:36 pm

Alphonso is a registered user.

I have heard PA is getting a negative reputation based on the behavior of a vocal minority of parents - how they mistreat teachers and administrators. In the long run that will have a negative impact on attracting talented people. On the other hand surrounding communities seem to know what is going on and they snap up any teachers/administrators wanting to leave. I suppose the theory if person can work in PA they will flourish elsewhere.

9 people like this
Posted by Wo Nellie
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2015 at 3:52 pm

Wo Nellie is a registered user.

You are saying strong words about something you know nothing about, it's just ugly gossip. PAUSD chose not to promote Young to Superintendent when Skelly left, instead they went looking far afield, that says something. Skelly went to Mountain View as an interim, and they didn't choose to keep him, and that also says something.

You aren't even in this district and you are passing along ugly gossip about parents. In my experience, negative reputation of the administrators is deserved, and they are the ones undermining the parents for their own personal and professional reasons. The OCR settlement agreements are a case in point. The OCR only takes a small percentage of cases in a year, and of those, only a tiny fraction end up in settlement agreements. The OCR's job is not as cop, it's to get districts to follow their own procedures to comply with the law and not discriminate against children. Usually, a settlement agreement is not necessary, because districts take responsibility for fixing problems. Our district had 2 settlement agreements in one year (out of probably only 20 nationwide), because the administrators were so arrogant and "embarrassed" to follow the law, the government had to write out a path for them to comply with the law and have PAUSD sign it.

It has been my actual experience, in contrast to your speculation, that this district is full of really intelligent and caring parents who are very interested in being part of a dynamic and innovative program. They volunteer and give til it hurts, but our district has not had administrators capable of or interested in working with parents unless the administrators can keep a real lid on things. The so-called "vocal minority", like Ken Dauber, are the ones willing to stand up and even face criticism in order to solve problems.

What I have heard from a number of illustrious professionals who have worked with our district stands in stark contrast with your gossip (most have encouraged us to take our kids out -- and not because of the parents, but because of the administrators, especially this one).

1 person likes this
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 8, 2015 at 5:42 pm

Alphonso is a registered user.

Wo Nellie

I never speculate and the truth is not gossip.

To bring you up to speed, Skelly took a permanent job as Superintendent of the the San Mateo High School District.

[Portion removed due to factual inaccuracy.] I would love to see a scorecard of all of the cases - how many cases?, how many did they drop?, how much money and time was wasted on the cases that had no merit? and what was the impact on teachers and other students? Then I would like to hear a fair evaluation of the one or two settlements that did happen. I have no faith in processes that are contaminated by major conflicts of interest. OCR needs to be killed as an organization if it continues to be used the way it was in Palo Alto.

My earlier comment stands!

2 people like this
Posted by Wo Nellie
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2015 at 11:01 pm

Wo Nellie is a registered user.

You just began your post with "I have heard" "getting a reputation". I think you are getting confused with the reputation Palo Alto is getting for students committing suicide and not really working with families when their students are stressed or falling through the cracks.

Secondly, you really misunderstand the role of the OCR and the nature of complaints. The OCR does not take individual cases except in very extreme situations. The OCR makes sure districts have procedures in place. it's the difference between waging a case in court and having a court system or not. The OCR takes cases when there is no court system, they don't decide the cases unless the court system is really, really crooked. The OCR's website points all this out, that has been posted about before. If you read the articles, when the OCR didn't take a case, it was never because of the merit of the case, it was because there wasn't enough evidence to know whether there was due process extended or not.

One of the two settlement agreements simply found that the district did not make its own procedures available for students with disabilities to have accommodations (it's the law), procedures the district writes itself. So, for example, if a student has cancer and needs special accommodations to attend school, they would get what's called a 504 so they can have an education like everyone else. Our district was found to basically be acting like they didn't even know what 504 procedures were and illegally not extending those procedures. That's a really big deal.

School districts have absolutely no other mechanism of checks and balances when there is abuse than OCR. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and there are literally no mechanisms to root out bad people from school districts. Going to the OCR is difficult, and they take very few cases. Parents get nothing from it except to ensure the district is doing its job for children. Administrators on the other hand are the ones with the bad incentives to use district resources to cover up their incompetence or misdeeds rather than doing the right thing by kids. Thank God for the least among us that there is some recourse when employees in a district run amok and hurt vulnerable children and families. In this case, our district would have saved a LOT of money if it just had mechanisms to take and address complaints honestly and honorably, and if it had employees who cared about respecting the law to protect children. If the district had simply realized they were not above the law (to protect children, by procedures they wrote themselves), they could have just followed the law like everyone else and saved money.

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

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