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Top administrator, middle school principal to resign

District looking to fill multiple positions before next school year

More leadership shakeups are on the way for the Palo Alto Unified School District, with its chief student services officer and a second middle school principal leaving their posts at the end of the school year.

Chief Student Services Officer Holly Wade will be exiting the district, Superintendent Max McGee confirmed Friday, and Terman Middle School Principal Pier Angeli La Place has requested to be reassigned elsewhere in the district, she announced in a message to parents and staff on Friday.

Wade has held the position since 2015, when she was promoted from director of special education. She was hired by the district in 2010 from the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District, where she held the same role.

Wade did not return a request for comment.

As part of proposed budget-saving measures the school board will discuss Tuesday, McGee is recommending that Wade's position be consolidated with the vacant associate superintendent role (most recently held by Markus Autrey, who left mid-year) into a new chief academic officer position for the high schools.

Consolidating the two positions would save the district about $118,000.

With the addition of a third chief academic officer, the current secondary schools chief academic officer, Sharon Ofek, would only oversee the three middle schools, McGee said. She would also manage the district's central attendance office.

The high school chief academic officer would report directly to McGee and be tasked with overseeing curriculum, instruction, assessment, professional development and other areas for Gunn and Palo Alto high schools. Student wellness and support services would also fall under his or her umbrella.

McGee said the new hire would also take over Wade's role as the district's Uniform Complaint Procedure (UCP) officer, charged with managing complaints of discrimination based on a protected class, such as race, gender or disability.

A to-be-hired replacement for the district's assistant superintendent for human resources, Scott Bowers, who is retiring at the end of the year, will oversee complaints related to federal anti-discrimination law Title IX, McGee said.

An online job description advertises a starting salary of $186,615 to $205,988 (plus a stipend if the person has a master's or doctorate degree) for the high school chief academic officer.

Terman principal requests reassignment

LaPlace, who has been a teacher and administrator in the school district for more than 20 years, wrote to her staff and to families on Friday that she has "requested a reassignment to embark on a new challenge with PAUSD."

LaPlace was named Terman's principal four years ago. Previously, she had served as an assistant principal and a teacher at JLS Middle School.

Her message notes specific work accomplished during her tenure, from the addition of co-teaching and various student-inclusion efforts to the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and an increase in students' access to educational technology.

"I am proud of all that we have achieved as a team, in part due to school leadership that reorganized and prioritized funding to provide continuous support for staff professional learning and collaboration and decision-making that consistently emphasizes equitable education for all of our students, as well as greater access and opportunity for our special-education students and students across the gender spectrum and within our LGBTQQ community," she wrote.

La Place did not immediately return a request for comment.

The principal of Jordan Middle School, Katie Kinnaman, also recently announced that she will be leaving the district at the end of the school year.

The district is also searching for a new special education director after Wade's successor, Chiara Perry, resigned mid-year to take the same job in the Campbell Union School District.

Under McGee's proposed organizational chart, the three chief academic officers, special-education administrator, chief budget officer, chief technology officer and assistant superintendent for human resources would report directly to him.


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32 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Apr 15, 2017 at 5:46 pm

Good news! Now perhaps the district can get someone willing to help rather than obstruct accommodations for sped.

Sad that Wades departure doesn't represent any accountability, but rather feels more like churn, not a drive to progress.

7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2017 at 6:31 pm

Probably due to the name change.

11 people like this
Posted by Former Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Apr 15, 2017 at 6:37 pm

[Post removed.]

13 people like this
Posted by let me be blunt
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 15, 2017 at 9:13 pm

She couldn't reconcile spending money on changing the school name versus money needed for other more important needs. Another casualty of the board's reckless approval of spending for frivolous projects.

3 people like this
Posted by Termanpareny
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 16, 2017 at 6:42 am

[Post removed.]

8 people like this
Posted by Change the Culture
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 16, 2017 at 8:02 am

[Portion removed.] Honesty and trustworthiness are essential, and bringing in new people who will just pick up on the old culture if the district doesn't get a fresh start will not fix things. It has made me think McGee should have just come in and fired everyone like that Cupertino elementary school did. Sometimes you can get a bad apple in an organization and it spoils the whole bunch, but they are usually the best at looking shiny and sweet on the outside. McGee is replacing everyone slowly and yet things will not get better. [Portion removed.]

27 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 16, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Well parents, pretty soon you are going to have to teach the classes and run the schools yourself!

4 people like this
Posted by Change the Culture
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 16, 2017 at 11:04 pm

If we get back our $250 million annual expenditure, I hardly think that would be necessary

Cleaning out the barn is never a bad thing, unless the farmer is very attached to a bad apple or two remaining in the bin. We shall see.

11 people like this
Posted by Call me cynical
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 17, 2017 at 8:27 am

A middle school principal is taking a step down to do "whatever the district needs"?
A senior admin who was responsible for special ed leaves without a follow on job?
All on the Friday before easter weekend? At a time when the district is already having to fill other open positions?

What are the odds that the various investigations have uncovered something untoward? Is this Scott Bauer 2.0?

If something did happen at Terman that was serious enough for two senior administrators to lose their jobs, shouldn't we know?

6 people like this
Posted by Tito DeAnza
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2017 at 9:17 am

Why do these public-school administrators want pseudo-corporate titles like Chief XXX Officer? The inappropriate attitudes such titles engender makes quality education more difficult to achieve.

15 people like this
Posted by terman parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 17, 2017 at 11:00 am

We are so glad Terman principal "requested to be reassigned" -- she will NOT be missed. This is cause for celebration for our kids and the Terman staff!

24 people like this
Posted by Private Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 17, 2017 at 11:01 am

Titles are free--it's an easy and cost-free way to sweeten a job-offer. I don't really care what they are called, and I don't think it really matters.

But I'm pretty glad LaPlace is out. She knows how to work a room, but she had a very mixed record among parents not on the inside. I was quite surprised she had been continually promoted, to be honest. Hopefully she is reassigned somewhere out of the classroom.

4 people like this
Posted by Skeptic
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2017 at 12:06 pm

Tito DeAnza writes: "Why do these public-school administrators want pseudo-corporate titles like Chief XXX Officer? The inappropriate attitudes such titles engender makes quality education more difficult to achieve."

A question: why do you say that a title makes "quality education difficult to achieve"? And how does that explain the standing of Palo Alto's schools vis-a-vis whatever district you wish to compare them to?

And Call Me Cynical, "Is this Scott Bauer 2.0?" At least get his name right.

A number of posts here exhibit the very thing they're complaining about - a corporate mentality & culture. Kinda like a certain billionaire that rails against elites, of which he is one. Pot, meet kettle.

7 people like this
Posted by PAEA strikes again!
a resident of Addison School
on Apr 18, 2017 at 5:38 pm

[Post removed.]

35 people like this
Posted by IEP Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 19, 2017 at 12:55 am

As a parent of a middle schooler with special needs, I often interacted with Holly always found her committed to mensnd my child. I am sorry to see her go, especially in this way. On both a personal and professional level, I never doubted her deep dedication to all our kids, and our families and to doing the right thing. It was Holly who introduced the Futures program and this will be her powerful and lasting legacy. We are not an easy group to please. Our discerning reputation proceeds us which will be why Palo Alto is such a challenging district to find great hires for. Let's practice a little more kindness and hope it helps soften the tensions that have gotten way out of hand. My family and I will miss having Holly working on our behalf and wish her well.

24 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 19, 2017 at 10:15 am

I am sorry to see Holly leave. She helped guide us when our son needed an IEP in elementary school. Without her I don't know where we would be but she was a success story from our perspective. I wish her well in her new endeavors.

17 people like this
Posted by It was PAEA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2017 at 6:20 pm

No way around it, Angeli leaving was partly due to the tried and true PAEA playbook of a few discontents ganging up through the union to Scott Bowers. When it reaches his desk, that's where he has washed his hands, not leading either the teachers or the administrators. PAUSD has needed far more and better than this, which is why these blowouts with principals have not stopped during his tenure as the asst super. Just look at the Gunn's principal's first few months. The teachers were quickly in resist mode and engaged in a meaningless power steuggle, revealed through emails made public. Talk to Teri Baldwin for a comment.

4 people like this
Posted by a parent
a resident of College Terrace
on May 19, 2017 at 8:06 pm

Thank goodness Holly Wade is leaving. I wonder what prompted this? Maybe finally she has been pushed out after how horribly she has treated so many special ed families, using what appeared to be her personal law firm to hit back at them? Our experience with Holly Wade has been terrible. I hope that someone who really understands and believes in special ed takes over for her supervisory role over the special ed director, but I certainly am not holding my breath, given the track record. What a shambles of a department.

4 people like this
Posted by a parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2017 at 8:14 pm

Exactly why is Holly Wade leaving? So quickly? and perhaps without another job lined up? It certainly appears she is being pushed out. And the only way she would accept that is if there was something really big being covered up about her performance. I think the public has a right to know what it is. The same with Chiara Perry. Leaving mid year. No real explanation as to why.

Like this comment
Posted by Change the Culture
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 21, 2017 at 8:16 am

[Post removed.]

2 people like this
Posted by Parent with a child with special need
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 2, 2017 at 12:05 am

Glad to see Holly Wade gone. It is long overdue.

It was my own interpretation back in 2015 that her "promotion" to her current role was to remove her from the role of the Director of Special Education. It is just like in companies where incompetent people are occasionally promoted in order to vacate the critical positions they occupy to competent people.

Indeed, her replacement, Director Chiara Perry, was much more competent than her and had the right approach to special education and to families with children with special needs. It is too bad that Chiara Perry decided to leave mid-year back in Feb 2017.

[Portion removed.]

13 people like this
Posted by Paly Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 2, 2017 at 11:50 pm

Well it's out now. She departed for cover up of sex crimes and failing to report Title IX violations. Good riddance. She was a horrible Special Ed director. Her job was not to help the children in need but to keep costs low and minimize use of resources. [Portion removed.]

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