Editor's note: Throughout this article, the Weekly relied on documents provided by the student's family for some details, which the district could not comment on due to students' privacy. The Weekly is using the pseudonym the Garcias to protect the family's privacy. Read the full story on this case here.
Compounding one Palo Alto family's difficulties with bullying at Jordan Middle School last semester, they repeatedly reported concerns about a staff member's treatment of their son.
The Garcias, whose name has been changed to protect their privacy, said a special-education aide behaved inappropriately with their son over about three months, including physically grabbing his hands in an aggressive manner, they stated in a separate Uniform Complaint Procedure form submitted to the district on May 19.
They also filed a report about the aide's behavior with Palo Alto police last week.
The aide grabbed their son's hands, yelled at him, tried to "intimidate" him and was generally "very aggressive with him," the Garcias stated in the Uniform Complaint Procedure form. "Has been warned several times about her conduct and still no change."
Before filing the complaint form, the Garcias spoke to Vice Principal Jim Cox, two special-education instructors and other staff about the aide's behavior, they said. They first reported the aide to Cox in February, according to a letter the parents wrote to Jordan and the district on May 5. The day before, they had spoken to then interim-principal Tom Jacoubowsky, but on both May 4 and 5 the aide "appeared to be the same even though we were notified that they personally talked to her.
"We are extremely upset that our son is going through this situation with a person who is supposed to help him. And we need actions and change toward these situations ASAP," they wrote.
Three months later, the district determined that the aide's behavior was "unacceptable and unprofessional" but not discriminatory on the basis of race, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Scott Bowers wrote in a letter summarizing his investigation.
Bowers' letter is dated Aug. 2, two weeks after the 60-day investigation deadline required by district policy.
The aide was not discriminating against the Garcia's son, Bowers wrote, because the aide had acted similarly toward other students who do not belong to a protected class, according to other teachers interviewed during the investigation.
Bowers found that her "approach(es) dealing with a variety of student situations were sometimes harsh and not supportive and understanding of the students" -- including using physical contact to redirect students.
Bowers met with the aide and directed her to interact with all students in a "more respectful manner," without physical contact, he wrote. He planned to request at the start of the new school year for the Jordan administration and teachers in classes with the aide to monitor the aide closely.
This aide remains at Jordan today, according to the district.