Feds side with family in DNA lawsuit against Palo Alto district | News | Palo Alto Online |


Feds side with family in DNA lawsuit against Palo Alto district

Departments of Education, Justice file brief in support of family's appeal

The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice have filed an amicus brief in support of a former Palo Alto Unified School District family who allege the district violated their son's First Amendment rights to the privacy of his medical and other personal information and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when a teacher allegedly divulged that their son carries a genetic marker for cystic fibrosis.

The amicus brief, filed in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Jan. 21, urges reversal of a court decision that ruled against the parents' lawsuit. In their brief, the federal agencies argue that the parents alleged sufficient facts to claim the school district intentionally discriminated against their son, violating the Americans With Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Thus, the agencies assert, the lawsuit is worthy of consideration by the court.

Parents James and Jennifer Chadam filed action seeking damages in September 2013, after their son Colman, who carries the genetic marker for cystic fibrosis (CF) but does not have the disease, had been transferred out of his Palo Alto neighborhood school, according to court documents filed in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Jan. 14.

But because Colman carries the genetic marker, and that information was made public to the family of two other students who actively have the disease, the school district forced Colman to leave Jordan Middle School involuntarily after the parents of the other two students complained, according to court records.

The school district claimed it made the decision to send the Chadams' son to Terman Middle School allegedly based on a doctor's recommendation; but that doctor has never examined Colman nor spoken with his parents, according to an appeal the Chadams filed.

The school district removed Colman from Jordan when he was 11 years old in 2012, but he returned to the school after the Chadams sought an injunction in Santa Clara County Superior Court. The Chadams and the school district reached a settlement in that case whereby Colman could return to Jordan, provided that protocols to avoid cross-infection among cystic fibrosis patients were followed.

The Chadams filed a federal lawsuit in September 2013 to recoup their legal fees and for unspecified damages. The ordeal caused the family embarrassment and humiliation and created medical issues and financial costs, according to the lawsuit.

The district moved to dismiss this lawsuit, according to the amicus brief. The court sided with the district, concluding that the district had "alleged sufficient facts to support the inference that defendant 'regarded' C.C. as an 'individual with a disability' and acted on that mistaken belief," the brief reads.

The Chadams then filed an appeal in December 2014, which the amicus brief supports. There are "sufficient facts" to support their claim that by involuntarily transferring Colman from his neighborhood school, the district denied him certain rights to an educational program and discriminated him because of a "perceived disability," the brief reads. The amicus brief also supports the Chadams' claim that the district acted with "discriminatory intent," rendering it liable for monetary damages.

"That is enough to survive a motion to dismiss," the amicus brief states.

"The allegations in this case present a quintessential ADA claim — allegations that a child was denied access to his neighborhood school based on prejudice, stereotypes, and unfounded fear," according to the brief. "Here, that fear was that C.C. — because of a perceived, but not actual and, hence, misunderstood, medical condition — might put the health of two other students at risk.

"But a public entity cannot deny an otherwise qualified individual the benefit of a service, program, or activity based on the possibility that a child's disability might cause a direct threat to others without making an individualized 'direct threat' assessment 'based on reasonable judgment that relies on current medical knowledge or on the best available objective evidence.'"

The district and the defendant also bear the "heavy burden" of demonstrating that Colman posed a direct threat — a "significant risk to the healthy and safety of others," the brief states — rather than simply a "good faith belief that a risk exists."

This "direct threat" assessment should address the nature, duration and severity of the risk; the probability that any potential injury will actually occur; and whether reasonable modifications to policies, practices or procedures could mitigate the risk, according to the brief.

Palo Alto Unified "had plenty of time to make an informed decision" and took nearly a month to resolve the matter after the parents of the students with cystic fibrosis took them out of school, the brief states, challenging its claim that it had to make an immediate, one-time decision to address the risk.

The district alleges it relied on letters from Carlos Milla, director of the Pediatric Cystic Fibrosis Center at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, recommending that Colman be removed from school for the safety of other students with cystic fibrosis, but the Departments of Justice and Education writes that Milla's letters didn't address "the question at issue in this case — whether a child with a genetic marker for cystic fibrosis, but not the disease itself, may pose a direct threat to the health of children with cystic fibrosis."

The Chadams repeatedly told school officials their son had the marker but not the disease itself, the brief notes.

According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, there is a critical distinction between a person who is a carrier and has one copy of a defective cystic fibrosis gene and a person who has cystic fibrosis.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease in which a person must have inherited two defective CF genes — one from each parent — in order to have the disease. As a carrier, Colman does not have the disease and therefore does not pose any cross-infection threat to others with cystic fibrosis, according to the foundation.

The brief questions whether the district used "reasonable judgment" in reaching the conclusion that having the genetic marker for cystic fibrosis but not the disease itself constituted a health risk to other children, requiring Colman's transfer.

These are "fact questions that cannot be resolved in the context of a motion to dismiss," the brief reads, and the "district court's conclusion to the contrary continues legal error."

The Departments of Justice and Education write in the brief that although the Chadams admitted the district's "actions resulted from it belief that student safety was at risk," rather than a decision made in bad faith, a "discriminatory intent standard" does not require they prove any ill will. Simply by showing the district intentionally excluded their son from access to a benefit or service because of a disability qualifies them for damages, according to the brief.

The district said in a statement that it "cares about and is committed to the safety and well-being of its student population.

"That said, the case is on appeal because the Federal District Court found the claims insufficient to allege fault on the part of the District," the statement continues. "PAUSD continues to agree with the ruling of the Federal District Court."

Sue Dremann contributed reporting to this story.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


85 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 8, 2016 at 10:19 am

How is this decision by the District to disclose private DNA information even defensible? Let's talk about that. And, in this particular case, there was no evidence of CF, but rather just genetic markers for CF, which is way different.

The article says: According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, there is a critical distinction between a person who is a carrier and has one copy of a defective cystic fibrosis gene and a person who has cystic fibrosis.

84 people like this
Posted by So Right!
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Feb 8, 2016 at 10:33 am

BP Dad is completely right on this! Having a genetic marker, which may or may not be passed on to progeny, is by no means the same thing as having an active disease! Nor is CF particularly communicable on itself, although having a lot of mucus in the lungs and digestive system does make the CF patient more prone to communicable diseases.

I cared for two small children with CF on a regular basis when I was in my twenties, and while I did have to protect THEMfrom communicable illnesses, and could not care for them if I had a cold or fever, THEY never passed on any illnesses to ME in the six years I cared for them!!!!

What the district did to the Chadam's and their son was reprehensible and simply indefensible!

4 people like this
Posted by Managing-Public-Health
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2016 at 12:21 pm

There is another dimension to this story—which deals with other diseases which could be more infections than Cystic Fibrosis seems to be. Since our children are required to attend school—the schools have a certain custodial obligation to keep our children safe. This obligation would seem to be at odds in many cases with this notion that a person (a child in this case) has privacy rights which precludes making personal information about that child available to others who might be affected by that child—such as transmitting some sort of disease (or genetic material).

This discussion should also include the responsibilities of the schools when students become sick (or die) because the schools failed to use medical information (whether it involves genetic data or not) to avoid running afoul of ADA, or other Federal law/policy involving personal information. Do we all agree that ADA is more important than a well-managed public health program?

78 people like this
Posted by Ventura Mom
a resident of Ventura
on Feb 8, 2016 at 12:39 pm

This case has confused me since it was first reported several months ago. Being simply a carrier does not mean the child has CF. Further to what Barron Park Dad says above the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's website states that "About one in every 31 Americans are symptomless carriers of the defective CF gene". By those stats almost 400 PAUSD students would be symptomless CF carriers.

When I was pregnant with twins I learned that I am a carrier of the CF gene. We subsequently tested my husband and learned that he was not a carrier so their is 0% chance my children could have CF. The child must inherit the gene from both parents to "possibly" have CF (and then the chances are 1/4).

So my confusion about the story is whether it is being misreported somehow and whether the student did in fact actually have CF, but was symptomless. If, as reported, he was only a carrier, then PAUSD is guilty not only violating the child's ADA rights, but of an egregious misunderstanding of what it means to be a carrier. Gesh.

38 people like this
Posted by Baffled
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 8, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Fascinating story. Perhaps someday the Weekly will publish an article that explains what actually happened here.

14 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 8, 2016 at 12:45 pm

My children have long since left the PAUSD so I am not informed about what information parents are required to provide. I am curious about how the district even knew that a child carried a certain gene. Why would a student's DNA be known unless there was a reason to believe there was a problem? I don't think we have "evolved" to where DNA testing is required. Can someone who is informed on this please supply some background? Thank you.

7 people like this
Posted by Managing-Public-Health
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2016 at 1:42 pm

According to an article in today's Daily Post, the Justice Department and the Education Department's Amicus Brief claims that the Chadam youth should have been considered as "disabled" because he is a carrier of the CF gene. His parents claim he does not have CF, so who exactly would have the authority to make such a finding? The Post article also indicates that the parents voluntarily offered the PAUSD the information about their child's being a CF carrier.

If someone is considered to be "disabled" (per the Federal Government) because of his/her being a "CF carrier"--then should that belief be codified into law? And if it were--wouldn't every child entering the public school system ultimately need to be gentically tested and that data turned over to the public schools?

Would a designation of being "CF disabled" mean that this family would be able to apply for diability benefits, such as cash payouts and parking privileges?

And if 1 in every 31 Americans is a CF carrier--does that mean that all of these people should also be declared to be "disabled"? What about all of the children in the PAUSD who are likely carriers?

70 people like this
Posted by Nice actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2016 at 3:05 pm

@Managing The answers to your questions are contained in the law and even in the above article. The ADA applies to discrimination, it does not define someone as being disabled, and certainly doesn't have anything to do with handing out placards. If you are a caregiver of someone with AIDS, for example, and the hospital you work for fires you because of a perception that you have AIDS, that circumstance is also covered by the ADA. You don't have AIDS, nevertheless you experienced AIDS-based discrimination. That is a very close analogy to what happened here.

I'm actually concerned that the Justice brief said the Chaddam's belief is what determined whether the district was viewed as having acted in good faith. I don't think that's a good basis for judging the district personnel. They're very good at portraying themselves as acting in good faith but my own experience is that they mostly don't. What Chaddams experienced with someone going off and getting some kind of official determination that got the result the district people wanted without actually applying logically in that situation is very in keeping with my own experience. Often district personnel are motivated even by mistaken beliefs and then dig in because they simply have no controls. If someone annoys them, again, woe to the poor kid and family.

58 people like this
Posted by Nice actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2016 at 3:08 pm

I should probably clarify: the ADA does define who is disabled for the pirposes of the law, but not who has a mobility impairment requiring a placard, etc. @Managing's post came across as a way out there rhetorical rant trying to frame the ADA as bad, IMO.

15 people like this
Posted by CCW
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Feb 8, 2016 at 3:59 pm

Sounds like bad advice was given to the district from the director of the cystic fibrosis center. The district shouldn't have to bear the full blame for the wrongful transfer of the student.

67 people like this
Posted by Nice actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2016 at 4:26 pm

No, I disagree. The Cystic Fibrosis Center told them about a completely different circumstance, when another child has CF. The boy did not have CF. The district made no attempt to actually determine if he did or did not, and they refused to believe the medical input of the family's doctor, if I remember the previous news article correctly. The district clearly had ready access to experts, why didn't they try to assess the actual facts? Why was the district even calling? Probably to get information to support what they wanted to do, nevermind that it wasn't right. I have had that situation with those same district people more times than I care to count: they want to do something, so they make something up or even fish for some official information to misinform. If you give them facts to try to straighten things out, you get attacked. The boy did not have CF. The district had a duty to assess that if they wanted to act, yet they did not, another aspect of this that rings true to our experience. The unprofessional violation of the boy's privacy also rings true to our experience. IMO, they got caught doing the wrong thing and don't know how to apologize, precisely because they probably weren't acting in good faith.

65 people like this
Posted by Board Vote?
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Feb 8, 2016 at 6:10 pm

Removing a child from a District school requires prior Board of Education approval in a closed Board meeting. Students and families must be given the opportunity to present evidence the removal is unwarranted, ESPECIALLY when the reason for removal is due to a disability. Neither the child nor parents choose for the child to have a disability.
The District must prove it took adequate steps to evaluate the presence of a disability, AND that it took adequate measures to work with any problems related to the disability BEFORE removing the child from school. Here, it appears measures were only taken AFTER the District removed the child from school, at the point of agreeing to allow him to stay after implementing safety precautions.
Was this Board of Education removal meeting held? Did the Board vote on the removal?

1 person likes this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 8, 2016 at 9:01 pm

I can understand why PAUSD took the action. It is a very confusing issue involving understanding of cutting edge science and research. If PAUSD did nothing, and the other kids get severely sick, the other family will sue for significant financial damage. PAUSD might have expected lawsuit from Chadam family. However since no one would be hurt by the removal the financial liability to PAUSD is much smaller.

It is commendable for the Chadam family to courageously bring the issue forward. The court must decide once for all what a school district should do so that they can have a solid legal basis for future actions one way or another.

64 people like this
Posted by Nice actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2016 at 9:54 pm

I don't think what PAUSD did was reasonable at all. The precipitating event appears to have been that a PAUSD employee told another family something private that wasn't even being pursued by the district at that time. If the district had been concerned, they should have been pursuing an assessment, meaning, they actually have a duty under the law to make an assessment if they think there is a 504 issue like this. They have a duty under the childfind provision if the ADA. But they didn't do anything until they were having to cover up for someone's misdeeds, and they seem willing to go to any lengths to do that. They can take the family's doctor's assessment, but they rejected that, too. There is nothing confusing about this at all. The only confusion will be by people who will judge this case without knowing the depths to which those PAUSD employees regularly go with impunity. Secondly, the court isn't making a determination about the gene versus disease expression, they are only deciding whether it is an appropriate case under the law.

The district used the excuse in the Terman bullying case that the law was confusing, even though the process they should have been following was their own procedures for following the law, written by them. They always have an excuse for why they can't do their job. Why is this when so many of them are paid more than the Governor of California, for less than a full year's work? I can only imagine what the Chaddam's have gone through to pursue this. I hope they prevail for the sake of just the kids in the district who will be so screwed if district personnel get the message that they will never be held accountable for anything.

52 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 8, 2016 at 10:43 pm

So wrong ...

>> Nor is CF particularly communicable on itself

Saying "particularly communicable" implies that it is to some extent communicable ... it is not.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disease that causes the body to produce mucus that's extremely thick and sticky. The mucus is thicker than normal because CF affects cells in the epithelium, the layer of cells that lines the passages in the body's organs.

If part of the issue is revealing someone's private medical status, why did Palo Alto Online need to publish names? That is uncalled for as the people here need not have been named. This is a really badly written article, and even worse because it does not even seem to have a point EXCEPT to out the name of the boy with a genetic predisposition???? What the?

41 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 8, 2016 at 10:45 pm

So thrilled for parents! Great job taking school to court and so sorry PAUSD violated your rights. Thanks for staying the course and fighting for your rights and the privacy of your son!!

13 people like this
Posted by Nice actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2016 at 12:22 am

Not sure what to make of your post, so I liked it and am commenting: they didn't take the school to court, they took the district, aka, district admin, to court. District admin is at fault for this whole business going to court.

This is what we get when we retain a district nurse who has like two or three years of clinical experience tops from like twenty years ago [portion removed.]

42 people like this
Posted by Unsure
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 9, 2016 at 12:30 am

The threat is bacterial cross-infection. The lungs of CF patients are particularly vulnerable. Was the original question in this case the vulnerability of CF carriers, or the threat posed to a CF patient by a CF carrier?

I read that some carriers can have mild symptoms of CF -- Web Link -- is that true?

46 people like this
Posted by Nice actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2016 at 1:06 am

The article says CF carriers do not usually have symptoms. The child's doctor said the child was not sick. Geez, given how completely unconcerned the district is about following recommended practices for maintaining healthy air in schools, which reduces diseases going around from all the rest of the thousand kids, their actions make no logical sense. Can kids with AIDS be a danger to kids with CF? What about kids with pneumonia? Asthma? Lots of younger siblings carrying germs from daycare centers?

If the district is so concerned, what about all the other CF carriers? Statistically, they're out there. Did the district attempt to identify them among all the coughing kids that year? Did it attempt to act before its employees had committed serious errors in judgment? No.

This is what they do. They do what they want then construct a cover that enough people buy. They use district legal that is supposed to be serving the interests of kids like their own personal lawyers. Somehow, they frame the district as equivalent to them, rather than the kids and families of the district who are hurt by that. How much is this costing? More than hiring a new nurse with some actual experience within the last ten years who coukd have applied logic, the facts, and some compassion to the situation?

2 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 9, 2016 at 7:53 am

@Nice actually, unfortunately this country has become more and more paralyzed by legal disputes. If a person accidentally pours hot coffee on his lap can successfully sue McDonald's for hundreds of thousands of dollars it creates an environment in which seemingly reasonable judgements are often deferred to the court due to fear. PAUSD constantly faces all kinds of lawsuits, racial discrimination, student stress and mental health, sexual misconduct, etc. The potential of a huge lawsuit from the family of a gravely sick CF student cannot be lightly dismissed.

The family may even claim that the just emotional stress to guard against contact to a CF-gene carrying student is the reason that their kid becomes so sick. How can you prove beyond reasonably doubt that this is nonsense?

The court must settle it once for all. This is a sad situation. But I don't see any other alternative.

10 people like this
Posted by contradictions?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2016 at 11:30 am


The Chadams report that having a CF genetic marker does not mean that someone is ill. In their son's case, he is not. But they told the court that having that marker means that their son is disabled and that he was discriminated against because of this disability. Can both be true?

Privacy and Damages.

The Chadams have every right to be protective of their child's medical information and kudos to them for disclosing that information to PAUSD out of an abundance of caution.

Something seems to have changed though because parents who want private medical information about their minor child to stay private would not be filmed for a long spot about it by NBC TV's Today Show a few days after their son was sent home from school.

I have no doubt that it was a very confusing and difficult time for them, particularly the following two weeks, when they kept their son out of school instead of sending him to Terman, before both students could return to Jordan with safety protocols in place.

That is why they are suing for these damages:

"severe past, present and future emotional distress, the incurring of substantial attorney fees and litigation costs, unwanted public attention and scrutiny, humiliation, embarrassment, physical and medical problems, a profound disruption in their family life and family relationships, medical expenses and other damages." Web Link

But again why, if they say they were damaged by the disclosure of their son's private medical information and the "unwanted public attention" that caused, did they allow their son's situation to be broadcast - medical details and all - on national TV, ensuring that others would know about it too?
Web Link
Web Link

13 people like this
Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 9, 2016 at 11:45 am

My opinion will be unpopular but don't bother to flame because I won't read or respond again to this topic.

If the CF children are in such fragile health that they can't risk being around other, non-ill children who may or may not be "carriers" of anything, the CF children should be isolated in whatever way necessary to protect them & preserve the rights of healthy children. Parents can arrange home tutoring, or whatever they need to do to protect their CF kids, but no other kids should be impacted because their kids are sick. Many common illnesses are contagious before symptoms appear. Colds? My father & brother are silent strep carriers. What's next for these parents of the CF kids? Will they sue kids who go to school with colds? I have a friend with CF who was misdiagnosed as asthmatic until he was 40 and I am well aware of the disease.

[Portion removed.] Care for your children, love them, enjoy & cherish them, but don't expect everyone else not so afflicted to alter normal & usual habits & environments just so the rest of us can share a burden we didn't choose & didn't cause.

34 people like this
Posted by Nice actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2016 at 12:38 pm

Actually, this country is not more and more paralyzed by lawsuits. The number of many kinds of suits are way down. The fear of lawsuits when one is a physician is very real, but when Harvard did a major study, they found that when they studied tens of thousands of cases, isolated those that unequivically demonstrated malpractice where a patient died or was seriously injured because of it, only one fifth of one percent of those patients sued. They also found that of cases that are filed, the vast majority are indeed for legitimate reasons. Another Lancet study looking at what prevents malpractice lawsuits found that in a large percentage if cases, a real apology (meaning the patient can see things are going to be improved and their injury won't hapoen to another person) really works. Payouts in malpractice cases are down, too. In the Harvard study, they also found that the majority of actual malpractice was committed by the same people - so the efforts of those in the system to hold the bad players accountable is what best reduces liability for the organization. That's the opposite of what is happening in Palo Alto.

And actually, PAUSD does not face all kinds of lawsuits. Given the behavior, they face almost none. If they hadn't behaved so egregiously in a few cases, those wouldn't have ended in court. If everyone who could sue for egregious behavior did, the district wouldn't exist. We have real problems, and children are hurt as long as people with ideological axes to grind provide cover for egregious behavior by employees as you just tried to do.

And by the way, that suit if that elderly lady who got third-degree burns and was hospitalized, has been flogged to death. It only gets wings because who would expect to get third degree burns from coffee? So they think she was frivolous for precisely the problem. She didn't get rich, either, she tried to get her medical bills covered. The big judgments come in because kawyers have to be paid. The better course is being reasonable, no one gets sued.

No contradictions. The embarrassment etc came because of district actions, everything that followed the illegal disclosure, not just the initial disclosure. It's what the district did. The district violated laws by disclosing the private information, that started the whole ball rolling. Chaddam's going to the media was probably the only leverage they felt they had under the circumstances - and .i would note that it might have averted a lawsuit if district people hadn't dug in. You would feel the same way if you knew what some of the district players are like. Some can be downright vicious, vindictive, passive aggressive, and connivingly so. I think a lot of families who know are secretly rooting for the Chaddams to prevail bigtime. Maybe it will finally get some turnover so this kind of thing stops happening.

4 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 9, 2016 at 1:02 pm

@Nice actually,

Statistics is one thing. What is important is if there is already a settled case of similar situation or not. My guess is that there is none.

If a kid has flu and goes to school and spread the flu to other kids, the school is not worried that other parents will sue the school, because there are probably many settled legal precedence to indemnify the school from some lawsuits.

Do we have any settled case for this CF situation?

31 people like this
Posted by Nice acfually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2016 at 2:50 pm

Paying for expensive litigation in order to set legal precedent should not be the business of our school district, and this case never would have become a law suit if we had more professional staff in certain positions in the district office, period. We are running a school district, not a legal clinic.

Actually, I heard San Francisco got sued because some kids died of asthma, because it turns out schools can cause (and trigger) asthma. The same things about the facilities that can cause asthma - disease and attacks - also are proven to mean more colds and flus. Our district is highly vulnerable to the same kind of suit because the specifications in the facilities bond related to that issue didn't get done. Perhaps even if a kid died of the flu. Or if a staff member got serious pneumonia and had to retire.

Why do you assume there are only serious problems in need of addressing if there is a suit? Do you think that just because someone doesn't sue that they probably couldn't? (I can tell you firsthand that isn't true.)

7 people like this
Posted by contradictory?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2016 at 3:03 pm

Nice actually,

You said that the "Chaddam's going to the media was probably the only leverage they felt they had under the circumstances - and .i would note that it might have averted a lawsuit if district people hadn't dug in."

Let me start by saying that I have sympathy for everyone here. It must be a difficult situation for all touched by this.

The timeline doesn't support your theory that the Chadams went to the media because they had run out of ways to convince the district to allow their son to return to Jordan. The lawsuit they filed, which asked a judge to let their son return to Jordan, was going to be heard by the judge a few days after the Today Show showed. They could have waited to see how the judge ruled first.

The timeline also doesn't support your claims that the district dug in. IMHO the district did lots after it sent the Chadam's son home; the district researched, worked up, and presented protocols to the Chadams while responding to their lawsuit and the Today Show. That work ended with the Chadam's son returning to Jordan just TWO weeks after he left school.

30 people like this
Posted by Nice actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2016 at 7:01 pm

You are still ignoring the fact that district people had the boy's information and did nothing at all until they - oops - violated the boy's privacy and told other parents about it. That started a cascade of ills. It's not like the gene is so rare among the general population, and they certainly had the other kids in school long enough to have had a policy if accomodating them had to be so disruptive, instead of making something up on the fly when they did coincidentally something wrong.

The ADA has a childfind provision that requires districts to be proactive in identifying accommodations children will need. If this was such a big concern, why wasn't the district proactive? They had every opportunity to develop a policy when the other boys enrolled, and should have. They had every opportunity to bring it up when the Chaddam boy registered or the minute they knew the information. If it was such a concern, the minute they knew the information, the district should have done their own evaluation, medical since they admit to being ignorant about it themselves. The Chaddam's boy was new in the district, and had just made friends. What is minor to you is not minor to the new kid in middle school. And he would have no way of knowing a couple of weeks wasn't permanent. Do you know how devastating it is to the education of a child in this district to have one's whole schooling interrupted for weeks without knowing the outcome?

I have no sympathy for the district people who bungled it from start to finish. They failed their duties to the boy's private information, which resulted in that mess, they failed their basic duty under childfind, they failed at being minimally logical with the information they received (it appears to me that they twisted something that did not apply in order to justify the mistakes they'd just made). The case was not some mystery that needed to go to court if the district had gotten an actual medical evaluation of the boy - also their duty under the law if they wanted to take that action - or if they had simply not refused to believe the boy's own physician who presumably knows a thing or two about CF more than the district nurse who can't even ask a relevant question.

I have seen this exact pattern with the district - failing to do a real investigation of their own because they don't want the outcome they know will come from it and don't want to pay for it, refusing to accept the medical of the family's longtime physician, then harrassing people in all kinds of bureaucratic ways hoping the people will give up or leave. The district has a duty to do that investigation - they did not, the article says, they never did. This is their pattern. Chaddam's left, but they are not the only ones. Others you don't know about because most people don't sue.

As for your third paragraph, you have contradicted your own point. Why not wait for a court case? Because it's very time consuming, stressful, and expensive for everyone, and shouldn't have been necessary if certain district people didn't keep getting away with spending our district legal time like they had their own private CYA lawyers. The lawyers are laughing all the way to the bank. Had the district simply been willing to come to the table with the Chaddam's, this would never have happened because the case would have been settled out of court. But the other problem is that district people who think they have been wronged (even if they are mistaken about what happened) just do not let go, and are capable of taking it out on families and even kids basically without end. I have witnessed that, too.

If McGee had gone for some kind of truth and justice committee, certain employees would probably have left for the insurance industry where their, um, values, belong, and these conflicts would go away with the pernicious culture they created.

3 people like this
Posted by contradictory?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 9:11 am

Nice actually,

Actually, the lawsuit the Chadams filed was for an injunction which courts hear and decide in a matter of weeks. Going on national TV with their son's story was not the only way left to quickly resolve this in their favor.

Two big problems with their case:

The optics. They are ignoring that PAUSD did this to keep an ill/disabled student from harm.

Proving that they were harmed. Within weeks the Chadams got what they initially wanted: their son's return to Jordan. This new lawsuit is for financial damages. I suspect it will be hard for them to prove that the information PAUSD shared with 1 family caused them "unwanted public attention" and "embarrassment" when, at the same time, the Chadams were sharing the same information with reporters and the world on national TV.

Question from a mile up looking down:

Say that the district is on notice that your child is at risk of harm by the presence of another student/teacher/coach/administrator.

While the district sorts it out, would you prefer that the district 1. keep the status quo and hope for the best, or 2. be pro-active by getting advice immediately and acting on that advice?

21 people like this
Posted by Nice actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 8:00 pm

Yes, I know the first court case was for injunctive relief, not damages. The parents were clearly pushed to the limits to do that. No one files like that as a first recourse or even close. Going to court is nevertheless very expensive. Do you know what it costs just to have a special ed lawyer attend a hearing? $6,000-$10,000 minimum, just for a hearing. Preparing for a going to court is even more. You do realize that parties still have to pay court costs? The family was in an untenable position and trying to get sunshine and resolution short of that. The only party for whom that was no big deal was the district admin, for whom using our district legal for their own personal purposes has become all too common, and the legal costs eclipsing things like the supplemental summer school programs the district cut. All so they never have to ever apologize or overlook any petty personal agendas.

You keep repeating yourself even though I have pointed out the fatal flaw in your point. If the district was concerned about protecting the kids with CF, and the kids with CF had a 504, and if this was such a big issue, it would have been spelled out in their 504 plan. Long before the Chaddam boy enrolled. If it was such a danger, it would have been planned for before the Chaddam boy enrolled, and the family would have been alerted the minute the district learned of his status (giving the Chaddam family the chance to provide the medical information in advance or the district to do its due assessment before the boy started school). But the district did none of that,. District people did nothing and seemed completely unconcerned until someone unorofessionally leaked the boy's private information to the other family. Their incompetence, delay, and CYA had consequences to a child. Things only happened the way they did because the district failed their duty in many ways, then tried to justify themselves.

The boy was out of school for weeks, and more likely, he returned to a truly hostile admin situation, in which he could not get caught up. Kids in this district have to repeat whole grade levels when they lose weeks, even when district admin isn't then out to make your life miserable for crossing them. No, it makes perfect sense that Chaddam's went to the 4th estate to try to get help faster, and none of thus would gave happened if the district had just worked with them. Clearly they thought they could bully the family by twisting information that didn't really apply. Why else would they have failed to ever do their own meducal assessment while rejecting the Chaddam's doctor? Under the law - under the law ADA - the district is required to do their own assessment. Why didn't they, why did they instead get some opinion that didn't apply? Because that's the way they play that game, and usually get away with it.

I've heard that the district promised to make specific important improvements directly related to student health in the facilies bond, that weren't ever done, even though students and staff have suffered health problems. I just pointed out that SF had some students who died for that district failing to do the same thing (and they didn't have a bond with hundreds if millions telling them to), and they were sued. Our district faces the mother if all lawsuits if that happens, or if some teacher who gets pneumonia or asthma and has to retire realizes what happened and sues. If they feel so compelled when they know about a risk to student health, why did they go out of their way to weasel out if that responsibility, leaving the district and kids vulnerable? The opposite of proactive.

Because the concern in the Chaddam case was cover up for what they did wrong in that case. No coverup is too great when you have the limitless resources of PAUSD legal dollars flowing like water to CYA. I shudder to think of what the Chaddams have had to pay in legal fees to this point, but I hope the prevail fir everyone else who couldn't do anything about the injustice.

Before you repeat yourself again, I would just like to point out that both the US Department of Education and the US Department of Justice filed amicus briefs on behalf of the Chaddams. They would have studied the case in depth before doing that.

4 people like this
Posted by contradictory?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2016 at 8:51 am

Nice actually,

I didn't say the Chadams shouldn't have taken legal action against the district to get their son reinstated. I am sympathetic to their son's situation, as I am to the other family's child whom I read was out of school while this was sorting out too.

Again, I just think that it is odd, and contradicts the Chadam's claims, that they took their story to national TV a few days BEFORE the judge ruled. He or she could have ruled in their favor.

What you call a "fatal flaw" in my argument highlights logic faults in yours. Assume the Chadam's name had NOT been mentioned to another family. You still have a teacher who spotted the issue independently and alerted his or her supervisors.
PAUSD would have still consulted with a doctor and the families involved immediately (divulging the situation but not the names), could have gotten the same initial medical advice from a Stanford doctor that the two should not attend the same school, and would have moved one student to another school until getting the families' input on a win win that they were comfortable signing off on.

The privacy leak is unfortunate - and may be actionable on its own - but the outcome without it could have been exactly the same.

I can't speak to why the Departments of Education and Justice stepped into this.

The Department of Education doesn't much like PAUSD right now, think OCR, but I doubt pettiness had anything to do with this.

Maybe they saw this as an opportunity to ride on the national publicity the Chadams started and use this case to raise some very important and novel issues that they want to give national attention to, like the importance of student privacy protections and whether genetic markers in the age of $99 "23 and Me" DNA kits are covered by the disability laws. It isn't often that the government finds a family that is willing to have their minor child be the poster child for messages it wants to send.

But that does not mean that the Chadam's facts entitle them to damages.

BTW - you say "kids in this district have to repeat whole grade levels when they lose weeks." The Chadam's son lost 2 weeks. He could have gone to Terman and not have missed any school.

Like this comment
Posted by contradictory?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2016 at 10:41 am

Remove "the importance of student privacy protections" from the list of possible reasons why the US government may have gotten involved in this case.

It looks as if PAUSD could have been entitled to disclose the Chadam's son's medical information if the district thought, at the time it disclosed it, that the information could protect another child.
Web Link

19 people like this
Posted by Nice Actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2016 at 6:47 pm

What exactly if your connection with this case and the district again? You seem very sey on misstating the facts and portraying the district admin in a rosy light I know personally us inaccurate. When I refute what you said, you simply misstate it again.

No, Chaddams weren't better off waiting to go to court, the difference could be tens of thousands in legal costs to them (for the initial case). That is nothing to the district who thinks taxpayers are made of money, but not to a family. Also, transfer to another school is no better, it does not provide a continuous education, especially for a new kid who just made friends at the other school.

If you are being paid by the district in any way, you should disclose your connection. I am not connected to the case, just a parent who knows this district from the inside.

19 people like this
Posted by Nice actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2016 at 7:28 pm

Lots of trouble with your argument. If the district thought the Chaddam boy posed a threat to the other child, protecting the other child did not require disclosure to that family. It might have meant immediate assessment of the boy, at which time they would have realized he posed no threat. But the district made no move to do anything whatsoever, it appears they were trying to cover their illegal gossip. There is no circumstance you can make up here that excuses the incompetent and illegal way they handled the situation. That's even assuming you can cross your eyes and imagine it's ok for people making more than the governor of California to not know the difference between a healthy carrier and a sick child with CF. if the district really believed this, what did they do to immediately assess who else was a carrier at that school like the Chaddam boy? Nothing, nothing at all. This was an idiotic persecution of a new family by people who cannot apologize no matter what they do wrong and are used to manipulating situations to cover bad behavior. The district should look in the mirror instead of spending money crying poor little rich me, the government must just not like me so there must be a conspiracy against us.

19 people like this
Posted by Nice actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2016 at 7:33 pm

And actually, the conspiracy persecution complex thing doesn't hold up when you have BOTH the Department of Justice and the Department of Education weighing in in favor of the Chaddams. Among other things, they would understand the case far better than any of us before writing amicus briefs. (You say you can't understand why, then suggest it's some major interagency conspiracy against PAUSD. What was your connection again? Or maybe, you are just wrong.)

Like this comment
Posted by Nice actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2016 at 11:11 pm

When is this decision expected?

Like this comment
Posted by contradictory?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2016 at 9:32 am

Nice actually,

You say both the "Department of Justice and the Department of Education [are] weighing in in favor of the Chaddams. "

Not completely unless you think that the government's statements to the court - like more information is needed to determine if there was "some risk" that another student would be harmed if the Chadam's son had stayed at Jordan and acknowledging that PAUSD has a "possible affirmative defense" - are "in favor of the Chaddams."

The government is not saying who is right or wrong here. The government is just asking a new judge to reverse the last judge's dismissal of all the Chadam's claims and allow teh Chadam's case to be tried.

The Department of Education probably got involved because it doesn't like that a federal court is now on record saying that a good defense to a discrimination lawsuit is that you acted in "good faith," based on what you understood at the time. It probably fears that the Chadam's court's ruling will tempt schools to not do very much research before acting.

There are only two ways the government can reverse this court rule: either get Congress to enact a new law or convince the appeals judge to re-open the Chadam's case and, if successful, do your best to persuade the judge to agree with your position.

Web Link

18 people like this
Posted by Nice actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2016 at 11:17 am

You are in your own little world. An "amicus brief" means soneone is supporting your case and cause. What is at issue is whether they show "cause" (based on the limitations of appeal) to move the case forward right at this moment, they are not arguing the case to the 9th circuit, only trying to get the right to.. The filing would be geared narrowly to getting the case heard and to the legal issues involved. The Department of Justice AND the Department of Education are filing a specific brief because they support the Chaddams. I don't know on which planet you could get that to happen if there is only a lukewarm tenuous support for the actual case - try getting any agency or nonprofit involved in anything if they aren't really convinced of your cause (or even if they are).

[Portion removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by ODB
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 15, 2016 at 2:18 pm

I don't see where the First Amendment comes in. The student's freedom of speech wasn't encroached upon. Privacy is a civil tort, not a statutory offense, much less a Constitutional one. How about the teacher's first-amendment rights?

12 people like this
Posted by Nice actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2016 at 2:45 pm

No teacher has a first amendment right to give out a student's private medical information at will. Do a little reading, you could start with FERPA.

And your connection with the district is?...

Like this comment
Posted by contradictory?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2016 at 9:30 am


The Departments of Education and Justice did not take issue with private medical information having been shared, but this may be illuminating on that:

"...§ 99.36 What conditions apply to disclosure of information in health and safety emergencies?"

"If the educational agency or institution determines that there is an articulable and significant threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals, it may disclose information from education records to any person whose knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals...including parents of an eligible student, in connection with an emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals."

"If, based on the information available at the time of the determination, there is a rational basis for the determination, the Department [of Education] will not substitute its judgment for that of the educational agency or institution in evaluating the circumstances and making its determination..."

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by contradictory?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2016 at 10:27 am

Nice actually,

You say "an 'amicus brief' means someone is supporting your case and cause."

Here the support is for reasons that probably have little to do with the Chadams getting money and lots to do with governmental policy concerns.

The first court's take: "The Chadams have not alleged any facts to support the inference that PAUSD's brief exclusion of C.C. from the school closest to his home, in light of the risk involved, was not reasonable given the information PAUSD had...the Chadams admit that PAUSD believed the risk to other children was real and based on medical evidence." Web Link

What the Departments of Education and Justice DID NOT say:

They did not take issue with this fact that the Chadam's shared: PAUSD believed that the risk to another child was real based on medical evidence.

They also did not say that the transfer was unreasonable. They did not know because they did not have the medical consensus on this and the Chadams had not provided the court any information that allowed them to make this claim.

Here's what the government DID say:

They said that during the month PAUSD was working out what to do, PAUSD should have retained its own doctors and gotten a consensus of medical opinion: "the consensus of medical opinion [could have] turned out to be that a child with only the genetic marker poses some risk" or not.

They want the judge to re-open the Chadam's case to 1. see if there are other relevant facts and 2. get his or her take on whether PAUSD's transfer decision was reasonable.

This is not so that the Chadam's son can finally return to Jordan; he returned to Jordan two weeks later. It is because, I surmise, the government feels strongly that more than one medical opinion and a "belief" should be required before a school district can transfer a student to a non-neighborhood school.

8 people like this
Posted by Nice actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2016 at 2:11 am

[Portion removed.]

When someone is appealing a case, they are not arguing the case in the request to have the right to appeal, they are arguing that they have Grounds for an appeal. Grounds in the law. [Portion removed.] Filing an amicus brief at the level of the 9th circuit is a big commitment, and no one would get involved with something like that unless they supported it. I can't believe you have digressed into arguing that the amicus briefs in support of the Chaddams mean the opposite of support.

A case in California by some parents just won them the right to access private student records, which the CA Department of Education tried to block but wouldn't negotiate over. Why did they win? They allege (with support) that among other things, districts are screwing over kids with 504s and IEPs and failing in their responsibilities under the law, including those assessments.

PAUSD could have gotten the info in a day. They could have gotten the info when the boy registered. I could have. Most people could have. If this was such a big concern, why did the district do nothing before, in the 504s of the CF kids? Why did they do nothing at all about anyone else who might have been a carrier, since it's common? The only thing that fits the facts is that they were incompetent or trying to cover up for having unprofessionally gossipped about a student's private meducal information. Probably it's both. I happen to believe the latter because they've done it to us and others we know. They utterly failed in their responsibilities. It might help if the district found a nurse with some actual medical experience in the last 20 years, who was capable of using reason to assess facts, and to avoid being petty to the point of hurting kids.
[Portion removed.] A boy who had just moved here, in middle school, and just made friends, was uprooted from school and sent to another school away from a sibling - where the education would have been discontinuous - for irrational reasons, with a district hell bent on fighting his parents and not listening to the boy's doctor, so he had no way of knowing what was going on or how long it would take. Furthermore, if you think it's so easy, try understanding what is going on in this district that has four times the national suicide rate. Miss a few weeks of school, especially with the HORRIBLE "support" to catch up and many kids miss the whole semester. The stress can be unbelievable. The child would have gone back to school into a poisonous environment in which district people would have continued their passive aggressive damage.

Do you know how difficult it is to appeal a case like this? If the Chaddams win money, it will mostly pay lawyers, taxes, and money they already spent. They will likely never recover what they lost because of moving, and the trauma of being treated like that. I know enough people who moved away who can't even talk about it. I wish the best to the Chaddams and pray they take this district to the woodshed. Things will never get better unless people who are willing to stand up like that can prevail. I hope they do.

10 people like this
Posted by Nice actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2016 at 2:32 am

Oh, and if the district thought the Chaddam boy was really sick, why did they move him to another school in the middle of official complaints by another family about that school being unhealthy for respiratorry problems? In that case the Superintendent had signed a settlement agreement with the government OCR that staff almost certainly knew about but the board wouldn't for months. Then apparently they failed in that case to do a medical assessment, also ignoring the family's medical documentation. Sound familiar? If the district had legitimate concerns about the chaddam boy's status or health, they sure didn't act like it. If they can't be expected to draw a conclusion without all that documentation you think had to take so much time to get, why didn't they err on the side of safety in the other case, and in sending the Chaddam boy there?

Like this comment
Posted by contradictory?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2016 at 10:11 am

Nice actually,

If you read my posts you'll see that I am NOT "trying to minimize what that family went through." I acknowledge it, several times, and sympathize.

What I took issue with is your initial characterization that the government is "weighing in in favor of the Chaddams" and "supporting [the Chadam's] case and cause" without reservation. [Portion removed.]

The Department of Justice gets requests from people who want it to support their lawsuits and selects those that pose "important legal questions involving the interpretation or application of a statute that the Civil Rights Division enforces." Web Link

What does it see that is important about the Chadam's case?

I suppose the government could be claiming that the disability laws do not allow a school district to transfer a student to another school. BUT maybe not since the government has said that people do NOT have a right to a specific placement: "The Department of Justice’s consistent position has been that nothing in the ADA...supports the appellants’ charge that transferring individuals ...constitutes discrimination." Web Link

Instead, the government may only want to overturn the first court's rule, now precedent, that could lead schools to think that they just need an expert opinion and a belief.

BTW you say that PAUSD "unprofessionally gossipped about a student's private meducal information." Did you read my earlier post?

Anyway, it turns out that schools get to share someone's private information if there is an "articulable and significant threat to the health or safety of a student [if] knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student."

9 people like this
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 17, 2016 at 10:36 am

FERPA - Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) does NOT allow school to release information to other parents. Period. These are the parties that schools are allowed to share information with, unless they have written permission from parents (from the FERPA site Web Link

"School officials with legitimate educational interest;
Other schools to which a student is transferring;
Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
Accrediting organizations;
To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and
State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law."

No where does it say a teacher can share information about someone else's child.

11 people like this
Posted by Nice actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2016 at 11:10 am

[Portion removed.] No one in a situation like this is going to file an amicus brief if they do not support the case. Anyone who has ever tried to get an agency, nonprofit, pro bono help, etc, knows how hard it us to get any help even if people do support the case! That such official agencies as the Department of Justice and the Department of Education would get involved to file amicus briefs does mean they support the case. An amicus brief in a situation like this indicates strong support for the case. It is usually done in consult with the attorneys arguing the case. [Portion removed.]

Furthermore, those agencies are going to apply a FURTHER filter that the case must be meaningful to a lot of people, they have to pick and choose. Here again, you are going to great lengths to try to manipulate opinions. The Department of Justice and Department of education didn't file amicus briefs on behalf of the district, the other party in the suit, they filed amicus briefs IN SUPPORT of the Chaddams

You are constantly trying to minimize what the family went through. Your saying you "sympathize" is meaningless as you then go on to make repeated statements over and over again to try to minimize what the family went through. At the same time, you argue for the stance for the CYA faction in the district office. I'm not even going to equate that with "the district" anymore.

I know of instances of district people gossipping about private information to people outside the district when it had nothing to do with anything except retaliation against the subject of gossip. Apparently you didn't read what I wrote, either. If the district had concerns about the Chaddam boy's status, do you think they told the Chaddams about the other case going on at the school where they transferred him to, where their ignoring it could have posed significant risk to the boy if he really had CF as they claimed they thought? Even if he didn't have CF, the facts of the case at the new school could have had bearing on his health status and a lot of other students' health status. Teachers and students getting pneumonia that was probably unnecessary. Do you think they told the Chaddams about things like that? No, because they were not acting to protect the Chaddams, they were acting first and foremost for themselves.

If they thought being a carrier posed a threat in and of itself, why did they make no effort to find the many other carriers in those large schools in the years before the Chaddams arrived? If they thought this situation was so dangerous, why wasn't it spelled out in the other children's 504 with the district attempting to do something about all the carriers already? Why weren't the Chaddams given the heads up when they registered? No, nothing fits except that someone was gossipping unprofessionally then going for the usual CYA at the community's expense. There are laws like FERPA that protect privacy. They had many opportunities to both honor those restrictions and create all of the protections at issue in this case, but they didn't because they were just engaging in the usual CYA and willing to make a federal case out if it because they literally have no limits put on them.
[Portion removed.]

5 people like this
Posted by Nice actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2016 at 11:17 am

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by contradictory?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2016 at 1:21 pm

Nice actually,

[Portion removed.]

If you read my post carefully you'll see that we agree on several things. For example, you say that "no one in a situation like this is going to file an amicus brief if they do not support the case." The government does support the Chadam's case to some degree, like wanting the case to have a trial. But the government's court paper says that new facts that are presented in that trail may support the Chadams or they may not. The government doesn't know. How could it? But it is willing to put in some effort to find out, perhaps for the reason I suggested.

Palo Alto Mom,

The Department of Education has this posted on its website too:
Web Link

"When is it permissible to utilize FERPA’s health or safety emergency exception for disclosures? In some situations, school administrators may determine that it is necessary to disclose PII from a student’s education records to appropriate parties in order to address a health or safety emergency. FERPA’s health or safety emergency provision permits such disclosures when the disclosure is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals....if a school official believes that a student poses a significant threat, such as a threat of substantial bodily harm to any person, including to the student, then, under FERPA, the school official may disclose PII from the student’s education records without consent to any person whose knowledge of the information will assist in protecting a person from that threat. This is a flexible standard under which school administrators may bring appropriate resources to bear on the situation. If, based on the information available at the time of the determination, there is a rational basis for the educational agency’s or institution’s decisions about the nature of the emergency and the appropriate parties to whom the information should be disclosed, the Department will not substitute it’s judgment for that of the school in evaluating the circumstances and making its determination."

11 people like this
Posted by Nice actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2016 at 12:32 am

No, we do not agree. Every time you post, you make stuff up that is just wrong. It reminds me of dealing with the district office.

The article's title is: "Feds support family against PAUSD in DNA-privacy case" I am in agreement with the Weekly reporter, not you.

The Justice Department and the Department of Education filed in support of the Chaddams. If they supported the district, they would have supported the district and letting the lower court ruling stand.

Palo Alto Mom is right. You are ignoring the entire FERPA law in order to justify an action that is forbidden by the law. It was never necessary for the district to do what they did. The only way it would have been necessary would have been through extreme idiocy and dereliction of duty. We're not talking about someone showing up at school with ebola that no one knew about until that moment.

In the circumstances of this case, it was never necessary for the district to share private information of the student with another parent, period, especially not with that timing. How long was it after the info was disclosed by the Chaddams until the district person gossipped? Hmmm. If the district could do that, why did they not tell the Chaddams that there was an ongoing complaint by another family at the school they sent him to about problems that would have endangered his respiratory health? If the district thought he had CF, they owed him that information. The district hadn't done any investigation in that situation yet either. Do you think they told the Chaddams about it? The situation reeks of hypocrisy and double standards by the district people.

The worst thing here is that there is no one protecting the community against employees who are never assessed or fired no matter how egregious the behavior, and who are able to use the district legal time for their own purposes against the interests of our kids and families to justify anything they do. It's wrong, and I hope the Chaddams prevail well enough that that has to change.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


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

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Portland's Thai food darling Pok Pok will be popping up on the Peninsula this spring
By Elena Kadvany | 2 comments | 3,425 views

Flying: How to lower your impact
By Sherry Listgarten | 16 comments | 2,819 views

Premarital and Couples: Here Be Dragons!
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 2,270 views

Pseudo-Primary for CA Senate District 13: some thoughts
By Douglas Moran | 3 comments | 1,424 views

Overachieving in High School: Is It Worth It?
By Jessica Zang | 6 comments | 1,356 views


Short story writers wanted!

The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 27, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category. Sponsored by Kepler's Books, Linden Tree Books and Bell's Books.

Contest Details