News

Board majority paves new path forward with Office for Civil Rights

Majority supports repeal of controversial 2014 resolution criticizing the federal agency

Representing a marked change in stance from the 2014 Palo Alto school board, this year’s board appears determined to work more collaboratively with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, with a majority of members Tuesday night stating support for a resolution agreement in two open investigations as well as a repeal of a past resolution criticizing the agency.

While a board majority — Vice President Ken Dauber and the board's two newly elected trustees, Todd Collins and Jennifer DiBrienza — sought to distance the district from a more combative past with the federal agency, member Melissa Baten Caswell continued to defend that past, seeking assurances about protecting the district from liability in the future. President Terry Godfrey was absent for this portion of the meeting on Tuesday.

Dauber, Collins and DiBrienza said Tuesday they will vote to repeal the 2014 resolution challenging the Office for Civil Rights, which then-board members, including Baten Caswell, unanimously adopted, calling the agency "purposefully confrontational."

The resolution also committed the district to lobbying local and national elected officials for support in their grievances about the civil-rights agency's investigative practices in Palo Alto. The three current board members said they were eager to leave the resolution in the past.

"This repeal of a resolution is not, for me, a rebuke to the people who supported it ... but the board has changed, times have changed and we are definitely changing our approach," Collins said. "I hope we can put that to bed and move on."

Dauber said he didn't believe any of the criticisms leveled against the Office for Civil Rights were based in fact and were instead the "product of a defensive posture and a program of resistance that was not in the best interest of our students."

The resolution also accused one of the complainants against the school district of "document tampering," an allegation that was determined to be false by Office for Civil Rights attorneys.

Said Dauber: "The point of the motion to repeal is ... to put the district on record as not standing behind the content of that 2014 resolution."

Baten Caswell did not explicitly say whether she would support or oppose the repeal, but instead proposed a new resolution that calls the Office for Civil Rights' guidance "invaluable" and commits the district to a collaborative relationship with the agency moving forward. Dauber said he would support this resolution.

Baten Caswell said she preferred to avoid "pointing fingers at each other" by revisiting the past and to "look forward rather than look backwards."

"I believe that we thought we were doing the right thing," she said. "You could argue whether it was good or whether it was bad but the intent was not nasty. ... The intent was to protect our kids."

Several parents and community members also spoke to the repeal.

Former Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt called the resolution a "stain" from the former administration and board's "failed adversarial approach" with the civil-rights agency.

"When this resolution was passed, the City Council was appalled and ashamed by what many believed was worst single act by the district in decades, which was fundamentally contrary to our community values," he said.

Parent Stephen Schmidt called the resolution "an historical artifact that this more enlightened board should state no longer represents, if it ever did, the will of the greater Palo Alto community."

Others worried about the potential wider ramifications the critical resolution could have in today's political climate, saying agencies like the Office for Civil Rights are coming under increased attack.

"We are a high profile community. ... With that comes the burden to act responsibly, appropriately and on behalf of all members in our community," said Christina Schmidt, a parent and special-education advocate. "I fear that the 2014 resolution could be used as a footnote at the end of the wrong argument."

One community member, however, said he was proud of the school district the day the board passed the resolution.

"In 2014, Palo Alto stood up and bravely stated the facts," Ze'ev Wurman said, to an agency he described as "high-handed and arrogant."

"Do not, please, change the facts and the past and the history," he said, suggesting the board instead adopt its own resolution.

Superintendent Max McGee supported either rescinding the resolution or drafting a new one.

"I hope if we do pass a resolution that others around the country would take note of that -- because they certainly took note of the old one -- and to say, 'It is a new time here.' We're really setting a new, a better standard for others in respecting the civil rights of all," McGee said.

Resolution agreement

Collins, Dauber and DiBrienza also indicated they were ready to support a resolution agreement with the Office for Civil Rights that lays out corrective actions the district will be obligated to take to address legal violations the agency found in two sexual harassment and sexual violence investigations at the district's high schools.

McGee and two attorneys from the the district's law firm also recommended the board adopt at its next meeting this version of the resolution agreement, which they have been revising and clarifying with Office for Civil Rights staff since December.

In contrast, Baten Caswell requested to make a series of changes to the agreement to clarify what she described as ambiguous, open-ended language that could leave the district open to future liability. Her motion to direct staff to ask the Office for Civil Rights to add those clarifications failed in a 1-3 vote.

She raised concerns, for example, about a section on inappropriate relationships between employees and students, probing the two attorneys on whether the district would be obligated to, as a hypothetical example, investigate a report that a former student had married a current teacher years after the student had graduated.

She also worried about the district's obligation to investigate "third parties" accused of sexual harassment or violence against students and whether agreeing to compensate the Gunn High School complainant for private counseling expenses stemming from sexual harassment and dating violence (which was the basis for the Office for Civil Rights case) will set a "precedent" for future remedial actions expected from the district.

Her apprehension stems from a difficult past with the federal agency, Baten Caswell said, including "incredibly onerous" terms of a previous resolution agreement that the district decided not to enter into and a "surprising" letter of findings in another case.

"Our experience has shown we need to be aware of what terms we're signing up for," she said.

The two attorneys, Elizabeth Estes and Eve P. Fichtner of law firm Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, said they had already made all revisions they believed were necessary to protect the district. Any further, specific concerns, they suggested, could be worked out during the revision of board policies, which will be required under the resolution agreement.

In response to a question from Collins, the lawyers said that in their experience, the challenges with resolution agreements have come not from specific language but from school districts' implementation.

Throughout the conversation, Estes and Fichtner reminded the board of its obligations to investigate allegations of sexual harassment and sexual violence under federal anti-discrimination law Title IX.

"In doing so," Estes said in response to a question from Baten Caswell, "to the extent there is a finding that that occurred and there is remedial action that should be taken, then the district ... would determine what that remedial action is."

The presidents of the district's teachers and classified unions also told the board they supported the intent of the agreement — to protect and support students under Title IX — but wanted to ensure protections are also in place for employees' due-process rights. Teri Baldwin, president of the Palo Alto Educators Association (PAEA), said she is meeting with a California Teachers Association attorney to "to make sure no civil liberties or anything are being infringed upon" in the proposed agreement.

The board is set to vote on the repeal of the 2014 resolution, Baten Caswell's proposed new resolution and the draft resolution agreement at its next meeting on Feb. 28.

In other business Tuesday, the board also narrowly gave the green light for elementary teachers to pilot this year a third mathematics curriculum, Investigations, along with two previously approved textbooks. While teachers have supported the curriculum, some board members have expressed concern that it only partially meets academic standards in certain grades, as a third-party organization determined. Dauber, DiBrienza and Godfrey voted in support of the pilot, while Baten Caswell and Collins opposed it.

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Comments

28 people like this
Posted by Stew Pid
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 15, 2017 at 9:56 am

Melissa,

Confrontation with the OCR was a disastrous policy.

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment.]


23 people like this
Posted by Great news
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 15, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Thank you Dauber, Dibrienza and Collins for finally making the school board responsive to the community. The OCR resolution and all of the secret meetings and false statements from district lawyers were a terrible time for the district. Barb Mitchell and Kevin Skelly made one "disastrous" (borrowing from above post) decision after another.

I always though Caswell and Emberling were not in the inner circle on this with Mitchell, Tom, and Townsend. It's sad to see that Caswell hasn't managed to see her error and move on.


1 person likes this
Posted by Jane
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 15, 2017 at 4:20 pm

[Post removed due to factual inaccuracies.]


Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Southgate
on Feb 15, 2017 at 4:41 pm

Why did the school board cave? With the new Trump administration, the OCR is likely to be eliminated. As it is now, the board seems to have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. And watch how much this defeat will cost the district, while it claims that it is out of money.


1 person likes this
Posted by qed
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 15, 2017 at 6:03 pm

@John,

From the other thread:

"McGee said the federal agency has been "promptly responsive" to district requests since December, when it released a draft resolution agreement on its investigation into sexual harassment and sexual violence at Palo Alto and Gunn high schools. "

And:
"new Office for Civil Rights staff working on the cases, "

The resolution has done it's job. The OCR high-handedness has dropped away. Don't believe it wouldn't have happened otherwise. Time to move on.


32 people like this
Posted by A Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 15, 2017 at 11:56 pm

Caswell's performance on the OCR was embarrassing, to say the least. She spent 30-40 minutes asking ridiculous questions - does "third party" include the gas station worker down the street, doesn't paying for one person's counseling force us to pay for everyone's, why won't OCR do this, why won't they do that? The lawyers, on the other hand, knew their stuff cold and gave me a lot of confidence. In the end, Caswell's "suggestions" were quashed by the others [portion removed.]

It would be have so much better if Caswell had not run again. The "institutional knowledge" she brags about is mostly of how to do things badly. Living with her for a third term is going to be extremely tiresome unless she backs off or turns around.


16 people like this
Posted by Kevin Sharp is not Romeo and my daughter is not Juliet OK Melissa
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 16, 2017 at 8:58 am

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by suspicious
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 16, 2017 at 3:52 pm

[Post removed.]


20 people like this
Posted by Reconciliation
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2017 at 9:14 pm

"then-board members, including Baten Caswell, unanimously adopted, calling the agency "purposefully confrontational.""

Just once, I would like to see the board acknowledge that district employees and practices were and still in many ways are "purposely confrontational" with families.

Dissect the letter and look in the mirror, PAUSD. Anything you thought worth complaining about the OCR for, you have been worse.

I would like to see the new board walk back on THAT culture!


6 people like this
Posted by caroline V
a resident of Portola Valley
on Feb 17, 2017 at 10:29 am

Thank you for this wonderful reporting. I would like to thank Mr. Dauber and all community members who truly advocate for the safety of our students and who speak the truth.
Change will not come by putting nice words in policies and advertise wonderful promises…..change will come by actions and accountability.

As an American citizen, parent, community member, and former student and healthcare provider who has been retaliated for fulfilling my responsibilities and for disclosing the truth, I need to warn our community again that unfortunately we live in a very dishonest society.
I encourage everyone to explore the following;

1) what is the vocabulary in the policies? who does it protect? students, teachers, or the district and its stakeholders?

2) who are the compliance officers? what will they tell you and how do they act in reality behind closed doors?

3) who will enforce the law? All previous cases disclosed that law enforcement collaborates with our school settings and ignores our allegations. We, responsible constituents, cannot afford the high litigation costs against our deep pocket public entities who have been using our tax payers dollars to empower their legal defense.

4) what is the political agenda behind this all ? Who are the “experts” who are the “stakeholders” How can PAUSD and other education experts push all day kindergarten programs when we already have a shortage of qualified teachers, overcrowded classrooms, and lack of resources to help students and teachers achieve student success?


Governor Brown, Attorney General Harris, Lt Governor Newsom, Superintendent Torlaksen, Congresswoman Eshoo, Congressman Honda have known the violations of civil rights and lack of compliance by school administration since 2012. By 2014 Congresswoman Lofgren, Senator Hill, Assembly member Gordon, and the Oversight Committee knew about the civil rights violations, lack of compliance and cover up with the help of law enforcement, and Supervisor Tissier, Supervisor Slocum, Supervisor Horsley, and Supervisor Simitian, and Senator Beal, Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer and Congresswoman Speier have known about the issues since 2015; but all continue to ignore citizens complaints and continue to ignore citizens requests for help.

Kathleen Caroll, former CTC attorney and Daryl Whitman, former OSHA attorney are among our group of professionals who are retaliated against for disclosing the truth and for fulfilling our responsibilities.

Web Link

California has the laws that protect victims against civil rights violations. California has the laws that prohibit civil rights violations and has the funding requirements and that includes compliance with civil rights laws. Unfortunately California gives government agencies immunity and that is the real problem.
There is no path forward as long as “stakeholders”, “experts”, elected and appointed officials continue to use false advertisement and continue the cover up abusive, illegal and criminal conduct.
The laws are there, they just need to be enforced and government employees should not be exempt.
Web Link
Web Link
Web Link

[Portion removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by Ze'ev's Folly
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 17, 2017 at 11:55 am

The most peculiar part of the repeal discussion was watching Ze'ev Wurman praise the Trump Administration in its war against civil rights enforcement. Wurman was a functionary in the George W. Bush Administration and a fervent supporter of Barb Mitchell and Camille Townsend in their resistance to OCR. [Portion removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by Reconciliation
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2017 at 11:31 am

Dear Board,
Having sane people running the show finally is refreshing, especially these days.

Now can you please see to it that our district office comes into compliance with state and federal records laws?! There needs to be someone on the board the community can go to when the district fails to honor records laws. The district is supposed to, by law, have processes in place to honor records requests. It is beyond outrageous that a district with our stature does not, and even actively avoids filling common records requests.

Putting those processes in place will help balance the budget, because some of the hiring has been ostensibly to handle records requests, but they never do any better complying when those people get hired. Put in place processes, and you can fill your duty without so much effort or unnecessary, fake wailing.

Melissa should be worried less about hypotheticals and more about what happens when a family eventually becomes fed up with the abuse and sues because the district actively flaunts laws out of stupid imaginings about what could happen (to someone's carefully constructed CYA). (BC: Families are sending their kids to school for an education, not to be embroiled in legal fights with underhanded, backbiting, drama-seeking employees. Speaking from personal experience and observation, the dearth of suits is spite of your behavior, not because of it. Records laws are LAWS for a reason. Do the right thing!)


19 people like this
Posted by Please resign Melissa
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Feb 18, 2017 at 6:27 pm

It's time. Melissa is a link to that awful past, lowlighted by the spending $50,000 to essentially write a temper tantrum of a letter to the OCR. Melissa, your incessant questions do nothing for our kids. With all due respect, please resign and let the four other board members choose a new trustee from a good dozen who would apply.


9 people like this
Posted by A Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 18, 2017 at 7:13 pm

Could that happen? That would be so awesome.


4 people like this
Posted by Marielena
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 20, 2017 at 10:06 pm

I was so happy to see new members at the dias and now it is not just Mr. Dauber advocating for our student. It is also Ms. Collins and Ms. DiBrienza. What a difference? This is the way it should had been when I was bringing up the issue of the bullying at Terman. Things would had been better for our girl, and OCR would had never come to our town. Thanks new members. Yes, Melissa shall resign, she is the only one there who reminds me of all the nastiness she and the rest of the board members, along with Skelly did to our family. Perhaps, a power higher than ourselves put her there so she could see that what she and the other members did to OCR was not right. Otherwise there would be no one to defend their wrong actions: "You could argue whether it was good or whether it was bad but the intent was not nasty. ... The intent was to protect our kids."
Thanks Ms. Dauber for sticking around, I know that the firs year was really difficult for you, because other members were not happy that you won. I admire your professionalism.
Really? were they protecting their kids? They were spending student's funds to fight OCR and they were making false accusations. They were really trying to intimidate parents so they would not go to OCR, but at the end good will prevailed.

Thanks new members for fixing out school district. It was long overdue!


Like this comment
Posted by Who will pay?
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 21, 2017 at 9:45 am

Dear Community,
This reporting and these comments are disheartening. Even if you disagree with the 2014 resolution, why should the Board agree to be legally accountable on a micro-level with an OCR agreement that is so over-reaching? The District is budget constrained. The District absolutely needs to do a better job. But, does the District have the funding to invest to the investigations and correction methodologies set forth in the proposes agreement? That is the reporting I want to see and we should all want to see. What programs will be cut to fund these investigations? Shouldn't we agree on a plan that helps current and future students instead of past investigations?
If community members in support of this resolution want to fund this work, good for them, but I prefer the funds to be invested in the current and future culture and education of the schools. And, before the Board agrees to this resolution, don't you want to see the funding requirements and what will be cut to fund the agreement implementation?
Sincerely,
Who will pay?


12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 21, 2017 at 12:35 pm

@Who - yes, it is unfortunate that due to the mistakes of the prior board, which spent time and money fighting the OCR and district families, the current board will have to spend money correcting those mistakes. It will cost current and future students something, you are right.

But the alternative is much worse - simply telling those who were denied their rights "too bad." Why should anyone expect the District will do a better job going forward if the lesson learned is that if they ignore the problem, they can eventually just wash their hands of it?

I hope the lesson learned will be to do things right the first time, since that will be much cheaper and better for all.


19 people like this
Posted by Pound foolish
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 21, 2017 at 4:19 pm

As Marielena's comment says, it would have been much cheaper for the previous board including Caswell to actually pay attention to following the law. Oh, and that would have been better for students too!

It would also have been cheaper for them to comply with the law 4 years ago, rather than handing law firms $100s of thousands of dollars to fight back.

The cost of noncompliance that the district is paying and will pay is always higher than the cost of compliance. The board can refuse now, continue down the road, and have a bigger pile of noncompliance to pay for. Or they can pay for some investigations (pretty narrow, based on what I heard from two board meetings ago), learn something, fix the problem and move on.


6 people like this
Posted by Reconciliation
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2017 at 9:16 am

@Pay,
That is the ridiculous argument that allowed Caswell et al to run amok as Pound Foolish described. Sweeping things under the rug never works in the long run, especially where children are concerned. Cover up creates a far greater liability in the long run. Doing the right thing is the *job* of the district, and it is the law. I can't believe you are arguing against both. Regardless, it's not the more cost effective avenue. The complaints so far did not have significant costs associated, just fears by overpaid admins of being called to the carpet. You are overlooking the benefits of doing the right thing, too.


4 people like this
Posted by Reconciliation
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2017 at 9:18 am

Correction from above:
Doing the right thing is the *job* of the district, and it is the law. I can't believe you are arguing against both. Regardless, it's not the more cost effective avenue TO COVER UP AND AVOID RESPONSIBILITY TO THE KIDS.


Like this comment
Posted by Who will pay?
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 22, 2017 at 2:03 pm

@Reconciliation and @Pound Foolish,


Please re-read what I wrote. I am asking whether the District must agree to invest in the investigations and correction methodologies set forth in the proposes agreement.

The District can follow the law without this agreement. The District can agree to follow the law without entering into the very detailed requirements in this agreement, which I believe go beyond what the law requires. We have to be fiscally responsible. This agreement has the right spirit, but we should push for an agreement which follows the law and is fiscally responsible. This one is not.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 22, 2017 at 3:57 pm

@Who - it looks like the Board is likely to accept the agreement as is, pending final feedback and Dr. McGee's ballpark estimate of the costs. Whether they "must" or not will be moot; it seems like they think it is the right thing to do.


2 people like this
Posted by follow the money
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 22, 2017 at 7:29 pm

@Resident,

That's the wold of "who will pay"'s point. We've gone from a board sticking to doing what is legally required to an open check book board who will do whatever is asked, whether it is legally required or not.


10 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 22, 2017 at 7:51 pm

@follow - Per the OCR, in the past, the district did NOT do what was legally required, and rather than admit it and improve, they contested the whole process and did NOT improve. What they are trying to do now is what obeying the law looks like, including doing the investigations that should have been done in the past. Obeying the law costs some money; fortunately, it does well by the kids.


Like this comment
Posted by Who will pay?
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 22, 2017 at 9:07 pm

@Resident,
This agreement goes well beyond the requirements of the law. If you read the agreement, it has many implementation requirements that are not written in the law and no lawyer for the District has opined they are required. The District staff should provide a spreadsheet that shows point by point for the agreement, the one time and annual costs, as well as whether the action is explicitly required by the law, as well as the reference to the code section that says it is required and an explanation written in plain english of why it is required.

Unfortunately, the District does not have unlimited administrative funds. The Board cannot sign an agreement that overburdens the district staff time and prevents staff from serving current students. As far as I can tell, this staff is already overburdened. Let's set the District up for success not failure. The population of students has risen about 50% in the last 20 years, the regulatory environment has become more difficult and we have students to teach.

At a minimum, the Board should understand line by line the fiscal impact of the agreement.


Like this comment
Posted by Really?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 23, 2017 at 6:09 am

Resident, your argument makes no sense. You state that because the previous board didn't follow what was legally required, the new board should do more than is legally required regardless of cost. There is no critical thinking in the leap between those two positions.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 23, 2017 at 7:24 am

Yes, that is correct. The district is on a remedial program because of of a history of noncompliance and resistance to compliance. So the Ocr is insisting on additional training and reporting as well as going back to fix as much as possible what was done incorrectly before. All good for kids, since as last year's Jordan incident shows, they are still nowhere near in compliance.

Is there some part you particularly object to? Because just saying it is more than other historically compliant districts have to do misses the point.


6 people like this
Posted by Who will pay?
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 23, 2017 at 9:52 am

@Resident,

Have you reviewed the agreement line by line and do you know which items are required by law and which are not? Do you know what each item costs as a one time cost, as an annual cost or as a daily cost?

This is not a remedial program. Remedial means "given for a cure" or "for students with learning disabilities". This agreement forces the District to re-hash the past. The steps outlined by this agreement for reviewing the past issues are time consuming and expensive. Moreover, the required steps for the future are more onerous than the law requires. This is not remedial. This is a punitive agreement, and until the Board proves otherwise, it seems fiscally irresponsible.

The community should be demanding a line by line accounting of the cost of each item (as discussed above) together with a clear understanding of what is required and what is not required.

Our District dollars are limited. We need to use them so we get the most impact from the investment, whether for civil rights, education or social emotional learning. Todd Collins ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility. Why isn't he asking for this level of detail?


8 people like this
Posted by Jordan parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 23, 2017 at 1:01 pm

"The steps outlined by this agreement for reviewing the past issues are time consuming and expensive. Moreover, the required steps for the future are more onerous than the law requires."

I don't see any evidence for either of these statements. Reviewing past issues is how the district will get better. Anyways, I watched the board meeting a month ago and the district's lawyers clarified with OCR that the past investigations are not burdensome, basically providing a way for the school community to provide input.

About Kevin Sharp, I do want to know what went wrong here. Did the district and staff members do what they should have done? What needs to be fixed? There is plenty of evidence that there are issues at Paly with preventing teachers from taking a sexual interest in their students.

What is your evidence that steps for the future are "more onerous than the law requires"? Frankly, it's strange to call complying with the law "onerous". That's the failed attitude that got us to this point.


4 people like this
Posted by clarification
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 23, 2017 at 2:24 pm

"Frankly, it's strange to call complying with the law "onerous".

You seem to be under the same misunderstanding as resident. The issue isn't the cost of doing what IS required with the law, it's the cost of doing what is NOT required by the law.


Like this comment
Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 23, 2017 at 3:52 pm

"About Kevin Sharp, I do want to know what went wrong here. Did the district and staff members do what they should have done? What needs to be fixed? There is plenty of evidence that there are issues at Paly with preventing teachers from taking a sexual interest in their students."

If you haven't followed up on it already, "Lauren" released a letter from her perspective that's an interesting read. Below are links to a Paly Voice article elaborating more about why she chose the release of the letter, and then a link to the letter itself. I link the official report as well.

I think it's worth nothing that this case significantly differs from that of the Terman middle schoolers. "Lauren" does not feel like a victim and was ignored throughout the process (according to her post, the investigator did not respond to her attempt to be interviewed by phone) while "Student" does feel like a victim and was listened to throughout the process (she was actually interviewed, among other things).

Web Link
Web Link
Web Link

I'll grant that there are other issues at Paly though. The issue with the bio teacher was creepy.


2 people like this
Posted by name withheld
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2017 at 9:14 am

I have a question. We had trouble with a 504 and were aggressively retaliated against. We stopped even asking for help because when we did, that only ratcheted up their lies and retaliation. There definitely was a cultivated cover up culture, and none of the people involved has ever been held to account. I can't see that it has changed. Addtionally, there doesn't seem to be anything like whistleblower protection, so complaining about the illegal retaliation has seemed foolhardy and dangerous. But the evidence is still there, and the denial of educational needs continues to have an impact.

This isn't a Title IX issue, though. Does this mean only past Title IX problems are of interest, or will there finally be recourse to document and end ignoring the 504 and end the persistent retaliation? Since OCR pretty much only pays attention to retaliation after you prove it, it makes no sense to go to them while a child is still in school because going to them is what caused the retaliation in the first place. Our district is still messed up, as far as I can see.


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