Jordan Middle School reprimands special-education aide

Family struggling with bullying also asked for help with aide

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.

Related content:

Palo Alto bullying case renews concerns over district's response

When students are discriminated against: What Palo Alto Unified is obligated to do

VIDEO: Bullying case tests district's policies

In-depth report: How a federal inquiry is changing the way schools respond to bullying

When teen dating violence hits: Are our schools ready when relationships turn violent?


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36 people like this
Posted by BP
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 4, 2016 at 11:06 am

What the ? Why is this aide still at our schools?

It takes Scott Bowers 2 months and 2 weeks to determine this behavior isn't "unacceptable and unprofessional" .

Why not investigate for a year, and hold opinion polls and form committees on what is or is not acceptable, before making any kind of decision?

Bower's response time and handling of this case is "unacceptable and unprofessional" as a supposedly HR expert.

27 people like this
Posted by The aide should go!
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 5, 2016 at 1:01 pm

The aide should go! is a registered user.

This woman has no business being in a teaching environment

17 people like this
Posted by PTSA
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 7, 2016 at 11:12 am

So typical for commenters to take a poke at schools and our education system.

Most of us who haven't worked or attended recently have no concept of the byzantine Special Ed requirements of a modern-day public education.

Finding good teachers is hard enough. Imagine finding part-time low-wage special ed aides, who get tasked with some of the most difficult "in the trenches" work there is.

7 people like this
Posted by observer
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2016 at 11:25 am

who is the aide?

14 people like this
Posted by Hoping
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Nov 7, 2016 at 11:46 am

I am hoping that this aide is on her FINAL warning, and that one more minor screw-up will end her career as an aide!

9 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 7, 2016 at 12:18 pm

As a retired Middle School / Junior High teacher I found this story very one sided. One sided? Sure. What did the student do that warranted the reaction on the part of the Aide? Middle school students can be very strong and sometimes it takes pretty aggressive action to prevent them from injuring themselves or others (or even the Aide).

Aides are underpaid (grievously so) and asked to work with the most difficult students in the school. I'll withhold judgement until I hear "the rest of the story" (to quote Paul Harvey)

14 people like this
Posted by observer
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2016 at 12:21 pm

There has been a middle school aide who for years has been a problem. If it is who I am thinking of, she should have been removed 10 years ago.

18 people like this
Posted by Egregious
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Nov 7, 2016 at 1:09 pm

If the aide in question is who I strongly suspect it is, she should have been dismissed several years ago. She is simply NOT good at her job, VERY impatient with learning disabilities, treats kids as if they are simply of low intelligence, etc.

PAUSD should have fired her several years ago. Now that she has brought more negative press to the district, she should be summarily dismissed!

4 people like this
Posted by David
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2016 at 10:09 am

Yes, special ed aides are underpaid. Yes, being an aide can be difficult. But if a person can't treat and communicate with students in a professional and respectful manner, then don't apply for the position. Difficulty is no excuse. This is similar to providing care and assistance to an elderly person. Is aggressive and inappropriate behavior, attitude and contact going to be tolerated? No. I have been a special ed aide and it is simply the responsibility of the aide to assist and protect students from harm. Any school employee is expected to treat all students with respect.

7 people like this
Posted by Unbelievable
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Nov 8, 2016 at 2:55 pm

This woman has been damaging children since 2006!

She doesn't need another reprimand..... she needs to be terminated!! ASAP, for the safety of the kids!

4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 8, 2016 at 7:39 pm

I went to drop off our ballots at Palo Verde today. Two weeks ago there were banners on the school fence as you are traveling southbound on Louis.These banners were in another language. So I asked the asian receptionist,her name is Jenny, "What did the signs say in Mandarin, Cantonese or Korean." Her snide reply was "If you dot not understand, it is none of your concern." Really!? Wow!! As a taxpayer it is part of my concern. I was just wondering whatb it was about, That is all! Looks like she needs to take some more ethics classes.

Our tax money at work.

2 people like this
Posted by Policy
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 10, 2016 at 10:41 pm

There is, of course, a policy to deal directly with such issues:

Web Link

It is, (as expected) largely ignored by staff, administration, and the district.

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

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