News


School board to meet on Paly sexual assault case as new details emerge

Closed session to conduct evaluations of superintendent, Paly principal, Title IX coordinator

UPDATE: On Tuesday, Stephanie Rickard, the attorney representing the male Paly student in this case, said in a statement that he has "elected not to complete the school year on campus." The district attorney's office declined to file any charges against him "other than consensual underage sexual activity" stemming from the on-campus incident, Rickard said. Read more here.

The Palo Alto school board has called a special closed-session meeting to evaluate Superintendent Max McGee and two other district officials in the wake of public outcry over whether the district has appropriately responded to multiple sexual assault allegations made against a current Palo Alto High School student, publicized last week in media reports.

The board will meet on Tuesday from 4-6 p.m. for performance evaluations of McGee, Palo Alto High School Principal Kim Diorio and Chief Student Services Officer Holly Wade, who also serves as the district's Title IX coordinator. (Federal civil-rights law Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in schools and guarantees students the right to an education free of harassment.) The meeting agenda also includes "student discipline or other confidential student matters."

Anyone who wishes to address the trustees can do so at 4 p.m. before they go into closed session. The meeting will be held in the Aspen Room at the district office, 25 Churchill Ave.

The Palo Alto Unified School District community has been reeling since last Wednesday, when local television news station KTVU first reported the allegations, stemming from one on-campus incident at Paly and one at a local church. (The victim's mother declined to identify the church.)

The male student, a junior student-athlete, was convicted in juvenile court of a felony charge — oral copulation by force, violence, duress, menace or fear — in December for assaulting a female Menlo-Atherton High School student, then 15 years old, in October 2015, according to court documents reviewed by the Palo Alto Weekly. Although juvenile court proceedings are typically sealed, the records were made public due to the seriousness of the offense. (Forced oral copulation is on a list of several crimes that, if committed by a minor, are still public record in California.)

The judge who heard the case, Margaret Johnson, dismissed a second felony charge stemming from the same assault (oral copulation with a minor) and struck a requirement that the student register as a sex offender, according to court documents. She ordered the student to enroll in and complete a sexual offender counseling program, court documents show.

In January 2017, the judge also signed a three-year restraining order that prohibits "intentional contact of any kind" with the victim, states that the male student must submit to a search of himself or his property, both by a probation officer or by school officials on campus or at school events, and stipulates that he can't be outside his home between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. without adult supervision, unless given permission by his probation officer, among other requirements.

A temporary restraining order was in place as the case made its way through the court process, documents show.

The victim, whose name is being withheld to protect her privacy, said she never consented to the act, and that he ignored both verbal and non-verbal cues that indicated that.

"When you assaulted me, you might as well have taken my life, my sense of self, my security, and thrown it across the room," she wrote in a victim impact statement she read aloud in court at his sentencing, provided to the Weekly. "You shattered me into a million pieces, and I have spent the last fifteen months cleaning up the mess you made. In one night, you irreversibly changed me in countless ways."

She said she told her mother what happened that night, but it wasn't until a month later -- a month she spent on her bedroom floor, researching the definitions of sexual assault and consent on her laptop until 1 in the morning -- that she decided to file a police report.

The school district has said it was notified of the male student's conviction in January. It is unclear what, if anything, the district or school officials did in response, as McGee and Diorio have told the Weekly they will not disclose information about this case, citing student-privacy law Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the fact that the students involved are minors.

A district log, known as Uniform Compliant Procedure (UCP) log, indicates a Title IX investigation was opened on Jan. 30 at Paly, but it is unknown what sparked that probe, which was marked closed on March 13.

The school board was first notified of the student's conviction on March 31, according to Vice President Ken Dauber. He said he did not learn of "any details, including the nature of the offense, until the media reported them."

Paly mom: 'They failed my daughter'

Two months prior to the conviction, in October, a female Paly freshman, then 14 years old, had reported to school administrators that the same student had forced her to perform oral sex in a campus bathroom.

The freshman girl's mother, who asked that her and her daughter's names be withheld to protect their privacy, said in a phone interview Monday that she plans to file a lawsuit against the school district for its failure to protect her daughter and other students at Paly. About a month after the incident, becoming frustrated by what she described as a lack of action on behalf of the Paly administration, and her daughter's worsening emotional state after the incident, she decided to pull her daughter out of school. The family has relocated 160 miles away from Palo Alto, the mother said.

"I felt like they failed me as a parent, and as a student that attends Palo Alto, they failed my daughter," she said. "They're continuing to fail all the students that are attending that school now by not speaking out and informing them there's a person that has assaulted students."

Stephanie Rickard, a San Jose attorney representing the male student, did not return a request for comment.

The Paly incident happened in a campus bathroom in mid-October 2016, the day after her daughter's 14th birthday, according to her mother. Beforehand, the male student had been "taunting" her and sending her nude photos over Snapchat, her mother said. The day of the incident, the mother was called to the school — after police were notified and had started interviewing her daughter on campus, though, she said.

The Weekly has been thus far unable to confirm whether criminal charges were filed against the perpetrator in the Paly case.

Palo Alto Police Department spokesman Zach Perron declined to provide details about this and other cases, stating that "as a matter of department procedure and under the legal protections afforded by state law to victims of sex crimes, juvenile victims, juvenile suspects, and juvenile arrestees, we do not release information on such cases."

School board President Terry Godfrey told the Weekly previously that the report to school administrators was "handled as a discipline case ... because of how it was characterized," as a "sexual incident" rather than a "sexual assault." She declined to elaborate on the distinction.

Under board policy, when school employees become aware of any allegations of sexual misconduct, they are required to report them to their principal, who has one day to notify the district's Title IX coordinator. The superintendent must ensure any sexual-misconduct complaints are "immediately" investigated under the Uniform Complaint Procedure (UCP), a district-level process for investigation unlawful discrimination, bullying and other allegations. No such notification is shown on the district's UCP log for October 2016.

The school board is in the midst of revising its sexual harassment and discrimination policies as part of a federal agreement with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, whose yearslong investigation into Title IX violations at both Paly and Gunn high schools found a repeated failure to properly respond to and investigate reports of sexual harassment and assault on and off campus.

A restraining order, but he's still on campus

The mother of the girl who was assaulted in the church, whose name is being withheld to protect their privacy, told the Weekly that her daughter contacted Chief Student Services Officer Holly Wade on March 24. They met in person on March 28, and requested that the district open an investigation, the mother said. They also asked that the boy not be allowed to continue to play sports for Paly, "given the message that it sends to students when (an) athlete convicted of crimes continue to play school sports," she said, and that he not be allowed to attend prom, "an environment my daughter expressed to PAUSD would not be safe for other girls."

"These are simple acts that would show the community that they being a sex offender is serious and that privileges are lost for receiving such convictions," she said. "In no way did they need to expose the student's identity nor break any of the FERPA laws to do these things."

Suspension and a recommendation for expulsion is mandatory for Paly students who commit or attempt to commit a sexual assault or battery, according to the school's student handbook. School officials would not state what, if any actions, were taken, or what constrained the district from reassigning him to another campus.

The church victim said allowing him to continue to attend school at Paly and play sports felt like the school prioritizing him over the "safety of female students."

In October, the week after the Paly freshman reported the incident to the school, her mother obtained an emergency restraining order against the male student. She said it was served on him at school in front of an assistant principal, who called her afterwards to inform her. McGee confirmed that Paly received the restraining order, but said he "was not made aware of it at the time."

The administration changed the boy's class schedule as a result, the Paly victim's mother said, but her daughter continued to see him on campus. She didn't eat lunch to avoid him, her mother said. Graffiti referencing the incident appeared in a bathroom, which the mother said she immediately reported to administrators, including Diorio.

Her daughter felt she was being bullied and starting missing school, her grades slipping, her mother said. She told a school counselor she felt suicidal, according to the mother.

The mother also met with the coach of the football team, for which the student played. She said he apologized and said the student would be removed from the team — which she characterizes as the sole satisfactory response she found among staff and administrators at Paly. The student did not play the last three football games of the season in October. The coach, Daniel Sullivan, declined to comment for this story. The student has continued to play on the varsity baseball team this season.

A call to action

After the male student was sentenced in January for the church bathroom assault, the victim in that case discovered from comments made by the judge that the same student had been accused of a sexual assault at Paly. She contacted the Paly victim on Instagram, the Paly student's mother told the Weekly. The church victim asked the Paly student if she knew the male student, her mother said.

"My daughter said, 'yeah, he sexually assaulted me.' The other girl said, 'he sexually assaulted me as well,'" her mother recalled.

The mother said she notified Paly as soon as she learned about the other victim, and conveyed to school officials that the off-campus October 2015 assault had resulted in a conviction.

The Paly incident with her daughter was not consensual, her mother said. She's indignant that it took months for the district to launch an official Title IX investigation into the allegations, which it did in late March. She said school officials did not inform her of her right to file a complaint through the district's Uniform Complaint Procedure, which is required by policy.

Godfrey said the district opened the Title IX investigation after a person from outside the district notified Palo Alto Unified that he or she had been the victim of a sexual assault by the same male student, although the Weekly was unable to confirm any information on this third alleged incident.

The church victim said she shared her story publicly in the hopes not only to spur the Palo Alto school district to action, but to raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual violence in high schools. She said without her own separate, background knowledge of Title IX, she wouldn't have known to push the district to launch an investigation.

Sexual assault is "not some obscure issue that happens only in dark alleys and frat parties," she said. "It happens everywhere and it's something we all need to have in our sphere of discussion and consciousness."

Since last week, Paly has made additional counseling staff, as well as extra female administrators, available to students who need support, Diorio said. A message posted on the Paly website Monday, titled "Learning Environments Free from Sexual Harassment," urges anyone who has been the victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault to notify a school administrator or the school district's Title IX coordinator "to facilitate appropriate action."

This, however, the freshman's mother said, is where the district failed her daughter. She's now calling for the resignation of Diorio, McGee and "all the school officials ... that had knowledge of this incident and did not step up to do anything to make my daughter feel safe."

She said she is refusing to participate in the district's Title IX investigation, which is now being conducted on behalf of the district by the Law Offices of Amy Oppenheimer. The law firm reached out to the mother after last week's media reports, she said, and has said if she doesn't respond by Wednesday, the investigation will be closed.

The mother is also preparing to file the lawsuit, and writing a letter to Congress urging an exception to FERPA that would allow schools to notify parents when a student has been convicted of a sexual offense.

The mother, who grew up in East Palo Alto and attended the Ravenswood City School District, said she sought a spot for her daughter in Palo Alto Unified through the district's longtime Voluntary Transfer Program, or the Tinsley program, hoping for a better education for her daughter than she had received.

"We as parents fight so hard to get our kids to these schools," she said. "I put her into the Palo Alto Unified School District thinking that that's the safest place for my child."

Related content:

Firm to investigate how district handled sexual-assault reports

• View a timeline of events in this story here.

Paly student accused of on-campus sexual assault

For immediate in-person crisis assistance and counseling services, contact the YWCA of Silicon Valley's 24-hour Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Support Line at 800-572-2782. For more information, go to ywca-sv.org.

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Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Comments

82 people like this
Posted by JW
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 15, 2017 at 6:59 pm

Comments start at 4:00 and the meeting is supposed to end at 6:00? Me thinks we have enough comments to last past 6!

Seriously though this is far too little too late! And all too convenient to happen just because KTVU ran the story (thank heavens).

We will keep fighting for you, victims! This is so, so, so wrong.


66 people like this
Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Midtown
on May 15, 2017 at 7:09 pm

The school board members need to scrutinize their own responsibility and lack of action or inquiry as well. According to the previous report and Godfrey's response, the school board was notified shortly after Jan. 2016. Holding this meeting four months afterwards seems too long a delay (too little, too late). Saying the incident wasn't "characterized" as an assault is an excuse--they should be on alert since they're already under Title IX investigation for multiple failures and lapses in investigating.


28 people like this
Posted by Parent who wants to understand the facts
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 15, 2017 at 7:54 pm

On Channel 2 news this evening, one of the parties was interviewed and they said, that they agreed and said yes to the act, and then later changed their mind which is A much different story than what you all are describing!!! Your son or daughter could easily find themselves in this same situation. He said, she said... So you might want to think twice before jumping to conclusions here!!!!


69 people like this
Posted by Trouble
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 15, 2017 at 8:17 pm

Parent who wants to undestand the facts,

Facts are that there was a "NO" involved - most kids are not in this situation because most people do not make another do a sexual act by force.

This is not a he said she said. This is about assault.


14 people like this
Posted by legally confused
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 15, 2017 at 8:31 pm

[Portion removed; the Weekly has been unable to confirm whether charges were filed in the Paly case and, if so, the disposition of the case.]

So in this case, if the police/courts deemed that there was no crime committed on campus (nor against a student), can the school remove the accused from a team or classes? I'm confused by the expulsion code, because it sounds like any crime is grounds for expulsion. But I can see how you can't expel someone for a crime committed outside of school.

Has anyone deeply read the expulsion language?


42 people like this
Posted by Outraged
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 15, 2017 at 8:45 pm

This is outrageous and I can't believe it that some of the 13 Reasons Why stories are happening right under our noses in our communities! My Gunn student told me that everyone is talking about this at school and posting on Snapchat, including memes of the accused. The kids all know the accused and victims' names and it is not right that the students feel betrayed by the administration over their lack of action. It is disturbing to think that the administration may have allowed the accused to return to campus because the victim comes from an underserving community. Somehow I doubt it that the school would let the accused continue in school and in his team's if his victims were from wealthy Palo Altans.


11 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 15, 2017 at 8:45 pm

@trouble this does sound like a 'he said she said' case. If there wasn't a conviction around the incident at school, then it sounds like the police couldn't make the case (i.e. They found other/contradictory evidence). Given how mad the mother is, this doesn't sound like a case where things were neglected by the police.

So to @LegallyConfused point... I'm not sure you can expel someone for a crime that wasn't proven. Nor can you expel them for a crime they committed outside of school. I am not sure about sports though.

Does anyone know if the school is aupposed to disclose when they learn of juvenile convictions? For example, are they required to report quarterly on the number of restraining orders and student conviction notifications? And if not, why???



34 people like this
Posted by @ Outraged
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 15, 2017 at 8:55 pm

Nailed it! If the victim wasn't from EPA but instead a millionaire from PA this would've ended soooooooo differently.

Hopefully the lawsuit, whichever way the jury sees fit, goes the same way no matter how rich the victim.


9 people like this
Posted by Justice Jim
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on May 15, 2017 at 9:10 pm

One thing is certain...action must be taken. If not, there might be potentially bigger problems.


58 people like this
Posted by Hannah
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 15, 2017 at 9:13 pm

If the board doesn't fire McGee and Diorio tomorrow, we need to recall the board.


19 people like this
Posted by Trouble
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 15, 2017 at 9:18 pm

Member,

This could have been a he said she said except that there are two off-campus convictions. In one of the cases the boy apologized for forcing himself on the off-campus victim. [Editor's Note: Only one conviction and prosecution has been confirmed.]

I don't know the legal or police standards before something qualifies as sexual assault but in the meantime there should have been a warning to other teen girls at school. And if the on-campus victim was being bullied....that should have been addressed and deserved more investigation.

Kind of ridiculous that if a crime is committed off-campus, you can't protect people from the perpetrator of the act which is on campus every day and after school in sports.












7 people like this
Posted by Justice Jim
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on May 15, 2017 at 9:23 pm

With the Board Meeting tommorow, lots of us will have questions answered as to why there was minimal action done. [Editor's Note: Except for a public comment opportunity, the meeting tomorrow will be in closed session.]

With regard to @Outrage: [Portion removed.] It would be very wrong if the case were to be handled differently due to socio-economic status. I also think it is wrong that people are spreading memes. Nobody deserves to face humiliation, especially from their peers. That makes me sad. Overall, very well said and you addressed a valid problem.

With regards to expulsion: I am unfamiliar with expulsion code, but if a case did not occur within school boundaries, expulsion may not happen.


3 people like this
Posted by Justice Jim
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on May 15, 2017 at 9:28 pm

For those who may be able to answer this, what is the point of removing him from sports? Is it just to make a statement, or to prevent further assault? Who would he assault on the team? Finally, either motive might me rather ineffective because he can join a club team...just wondering

Thank you for helping me understand


12 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 15, 2017 at 9:46 pm

@outraged, why are you making this about socio-economics. Are you arguing he's a minority and they get better treatment than wealthy people like you? And if so, why?

@trouble, from all I've read, it sounds like just one conviction from the off campus case in 2015. Check the timeline link in the article below. [Editor's Note: We have been unable to confirm whether or not there was a prosecution or conviction in the Paly case.]

As for notifying all the girls, this seems really legally fraught. If I suggest that you sexually assaulted me, with no proof and no conviction, then the school should tell everyone that you are accused of sexual assault before the facts have been gathered and you have had a chance to defend yourself? Seems dubious at best.

You could argue that this is a different case because there's a prior related conviction to substantiate the threat, but then you'd violate the sealed court order. Again, seems legally untenable.

I think the unpalatable truth here has something to do with the accused having some rights. That's what makes this messy. At what point do we discard those rights for a greater sense of security?


9 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 15, 2017 at 9:51 pm

Hannah, i think these new documents have proven that there are some incorrect facts out there. I'm hoping the board will update us this week on what the accurate ones are. So I'd say let's wait and see what we learn first. I understand your frustration, but I'm not seeing a smoking gun (yet).


62 people like this
Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Midtown
on May 15, 2017 at 10:02 pm

Ugh, Diorio still doesn't get it. In the update in the school newspaper, she is defensive, trying to nitpick "inaccuracies", i.e. "not convicted...on school grounds". That's not the point! Neither is trying to portray yourself as caring and telling students to look out for each other. The point is owning up to your responsibility to look out for students as the school administrator and ensuring a safe learning environment for everyone (not just the privacy of the convicted)--nor just being reactive and pointing to a wellness center (room) after an uproar but to be responsive and even proactive. (What's the point of boring students with a required "living skills" class that doesn't address any of the very real problems?)

Web Link


15 people like this
Posted by Write-In Now
a resident of Downtown North
on May 15, 2017 at 10:22 pm

All -

It seems like the article suggest showing up at tomorrow's meeting in person. For those who can't make it, I am not sure if there are special procedures to present written material for the special meeting. Here is information that may / may not be applicable according to the school board's website:

"Should you wish to present a letter(s) for inclusion in the Board packet, it must be received at the Superintendent's Office, 25 Churchill, by noon the Tueday prior to a Board meeting. Please indicate that you would like it included in the packet. Correspondence attached to an email (board@pausd.org) and received as noted will be included in the packet; however, email correspondence itself is not included."

It shouldn't take almost a whole academic year to expose McGee and Diorio. Those who want to advocate against them and their willful blindness to student safety concerns should demand their termination. If you can't make the meeting, please at least submit a letter attached to an email to board@pausd.org. Let's make sure the Board proceeds with clear conscience.


21 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 15, 2017 at 10:23 pm

What I want to know is what is going on in our school bathrooms?

This case in particular is horrifying, but are our school bathrooms safe? Does consensual sexual acts happen in the bathrooms on a regular basis? Do girls go in boys bathrooms (or vv) without any kind of reprimand? Do these things happen at lunch times, before school, after school, passing period, or during class time? How can these things be happening in a busy school bathroom? Is it normal to have boys and girls in the same bathroom?

I want to know if it is safe for our girls (and boys) to use school bathrooms without the possibility of encountering a couple involved in some sexual act?


14 people like this
Posted by From "Girls and Sex," by Peggy Orenstein
a resident of Barron Park
on May 15, 2017 at 10:30 pm

Here is part of chapter two of Peggy Orenstein's 2016 NYT best-seller, "Girls and Sex."

The author's language is frank, and the truths she discusses may shock some parents. But these passages may provide some useful context to these current, troubling incidents, as well as guidance for our district discussion of what sex ed should be.

Ms. Orenstein writes:

"By the end of ninth grade, nearly one in five children has engaged in oral sex; by age eighteen about two thirds have.". . .

"I wondered, though: If teens didn't consider oral sex to be "sex, how did they perceive it? What did it mean to girls to give or receive oral sex? Did they enjoy it? Tolerate it? Expect it? One evening, shortly after her graduation from a suburban Chicago high school, a young woman named Ruby allowed me to join her and four of her friends for a chat. We met in Ruby's bedroom, one wall of which she'd painted midnight blue. Leggings, T-shirts, and skirts tumbled out of half-open dresser drawers. The girls sprawled on the floor, across the bed, on a beanbag chair.

"When I asked about oral sex, a girl name Devon school her head. 'That's not a thing anymore,' she said, waving a hand dismissively.

"'So what is it, then?' I asked.

"Devon shrugged. 'It's nothing.'

"'Well, it's not that it's NOTHING,' added Rachel.

"'It's not sex,' Devon countered.

"'It's like a step past making out with someone,' said Ruby. 'It's a way of hooking up. A way to have gone farther without it being seen as any big deal.'

"'And it doesn't have the repercussions that vaginal sex does,' Rachel added. 'You're not losing your virginity and you can't get pregnant, you can't get STDs. So its safer.'

"That, unfortunately is not entirely true—through again, because oral sex is ignored by parents and educators, there is a widespread belief among teens that it is risk free. . . . Avoiding STDs, though, isn't really why girls engage in oral sex. Th number one reason they do it, according to a study of high schoolers, is to improve their relationships. (Nearly a quarter of girls said this, compared to about 5 percent of boys.)

"What, though, did 'improving a relationship' mean exactly, especially since so many also told me that oral sex, at least where fellatio was concerned, was a way to emotionally distance themselves from their partners, protect against the over investment they feared would come with intercourse.

"For years. psychologists have warned that girls learn to suppress their own feelings in order to avoid conflict, to preserve the peace in friendships and romantic partnerships. Was performing fellatio another version of that? Whether they hoped to attract a boy's interest, sustain it or placate him, it seemed their partner's happiness was their main concern. Boys, incidentally, far and away, said that the number one reason they engaged in oral sex was for physical pleasure. . .

"For both sexes, but particularly for girls, giving oral sex was also seen as a path to popularity. Intercourse, would bring stigma, turn you into a 'slut'; fellatio, at least under certain circumstances, conferred the right sort of reputation. 'Oral sex is like money or some kind of currency,' Sam explained. 'It's how you make friends with the popular guys. And it's how you rack up points for hooking up with someone without actually having sex, so you can say, 'I hooked up with this person and that person,' and increase your social status. I guess it's more impersonal than sex, so people are like, 'It's not a big deal.'" . . .

"Discussions of sexual assault and consistent, enthusiastic consent are, thankfully, becoming more common on college and some high school campuses, yet if teens think of fellatio as not-sex (or not 'anything'), if it's thought of as an entitlement or considered an appeasement, then both girls' right to say no and boys' obligation to respect that are compromised, and the lines between consent an coercion and assault risk becoming blurred."

Again, the above is from chapter two of Peggy Orenstein's very useful book "Girls and Sex."


3 people like this
Posted by legally confused
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 15, 2017 at 10:32 pm

[Portion removed due to misstatements; a student can be expelled from school without being charged with a crime or convicted.]


22 people like this
Posted by whitepine
a resident of another community
on May 16, 2017 at 12:56 am

whitepine is a registered user.

@From "Girls and Sex," by Peggy Orenstein

Can't believe you are quoting a book to muddle the rapist-on-campus situation. A quick lookup reveals that this author is neither a medical doctor nor a law specialist. As popular a writer as she is, her book has no relevance to the situation that our community is furious about. Rape is rape, and he is still on campus, period.

@legally confused

A lot of people are confused too, but for different reasons. Law aside, the school handbook explicitly states grounds for expulsion, and this student fits right in. But the school chose to look the other way and did nothing.

Hiding behind a certain interpretation of law still would not justify school wrongdoing. It is simply a weak excuse.


42 people like this
Posted by member
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 16, 2017 at 4:56 am

Unbelievable that he's still participating on the baseball team. Really shows the school's priorities...


13 people like this
Posted by BH
a resident of Fairmeadow School
on May 16, 2017 at 6:47 am

@Member "Are you arguing he's a minority and they get better treatment than wealthy people like you? And if so, why?"

The Victims is from EPA. @outraged is saying that if the victim would have been a wealthy child, the District would have handled this differently.


20 people like this
Posted by Wut
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 16, 2017 at 8:54 am

@legally confused: Check out this handbook: Web Link. The assault must happen on school grounds or a school-sponsored event. Only the third assault fits that criteria.

My question is why was the perpetrator still in school 6 months after the third assault? Legally, Paly could have expelled him based on the complaint of the third victim.

More generally, the fact that sexual predators have the legal right to go to Paly as long as they do their assaulting off-campus is one of the reasons my daughter will never go there.


22 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 16, 2017 at 9:03 am

[Post removed.]


26 people like this
Posted by Trustworthy
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 16, 2017 at 10:38 am

"It is disturbing to think that the administration may have allowed the accused to return to campus because the victim comes from an underserving community. "

The board really should finally look at the deep roots of a district culture that gives preferential treatment to some (wealth being but one if the reasons) and puts others at arns length or even subjects them to regular indignities or retaliations (failure to provide essential legal protections being but one of many).

The family moving away was their only recourse, because once the student was viewed as deserving legal protection, the actions of administrators would have created a kind of pernicious shunning, if not outright retaliation. The board and McGee have heard about some of these in disability cases outside of Title IX but also outside the law, and themselves failed to act when the parents didn't push hard enough. I think looking only at three administrators is not enough. This will not stop until the culture is changed, including others responsible for the culture. The board should be more proactive, but they won't be because Caswell is one if the old guard who will push for kneejerk legalistic behavior and defensiveness. Look like you care but quietly make life hell for the family until they leave. Everyone on the board and administration is guilty of having heard complaints that deserved investigation and ignoring them. I hope they will say it stops now.

One thing this story demonstrates is how important it is never to let a cover up culture continue. The preferential treatment is a big part of that culture, because administrators can tell themselves that this person or that person somehow did or didn't deserve help or what is effectively shunning or retaliatory behavior by administrators may even further play into how a family reacts and is (badly) treated. I've even seen families essentially set up, like the parent who complained she tried to talk to the principal about her child's bullying at Jordan, only to hear the principal was too busy then finding that same principal at the district office discussing their case with the superintendant. The arm's-length attitude promulgated among staff and administrators toward the "undeserving" has consequences.

I hope the board will go beyond dealing with this issue but instead be willing to address the pernicious culture that made it so inevitable. Being willing to listen is a start, but being relentless about truth and trustworthiness is even more important.


20 people like this
Posted by Former Paly parent
a resident of Community Center
on May 16, 2017 at 1:11 pm

@Wut
From reading the accounts I believe that the reason the district did not expel him based on the third assault or accusation (the one at Paly) is that they initially judged it to have not been an assault. The problem is that they did not promptly initiate a Title IX invesigation and so the initial determination appears to have been inadequate. It appears that this is the area where the administration failed it's responsibilities the most.
It is important for us to recognize that we don't have all of the facts yet. We have enough information to be very concerned, but we need better facts and a better understanding of the laws before we can have clarity. At a minimum the district should issue a public statement about what the Ed Code allows them to do and how it constrains them. The Ed Code is binding state law on the district, even if the Code seems flawed.


28 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on May 16, 2017 at 1:12 pm

This statement from the first victim appeared today in the Mercury News:

Web Link

The sexual predator decided to attack his 3rd victim in October, 2016, just two months before he was to go on trial for attacking his first victim.

I would have expected the principal, superintendent to have taken action once the sexual predator was found guilty in December 2016, and notified of his conviction. Instead the Paly community got radio silence.

I hope the Board of Education takes all this into account in today's meeting.


15 people like this
Posted by Shocked
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 16, 2017 at 1:55 pm

In all honesty, I'm shocked about the willingness of female teens to give oral sex to boys. Sad. Regardeless of whether they view it as sex or not.
Consent is the vital concept to make crystal clear to yiuth.


22 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 16, 2017 at 2:09 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

Predator tells victim in Dec 2015 that he f***ed up, is facing a felony and is "totally broken". Yet, a month later, he assaulted another girl.

He also asked to "hook up" with first victim 3 months after initial assault.

The victim also states, "I have strong reason to believe, both from third parties and from actual things (redacted) told me in January 2016, that he will indeed continue to assault other girls.

I firmly believe that not only does (redacted) not understand why what he did was wrong, but that he has no interest in changing his ways (as seen by the fact that on January 31 he told me that he had learned absolutely nothing in the sexual assault class he had attended the day before). I also feel that (redacted) parents have not handled the situation in a way that has taught their son why sexual assault is wrong, and what the impact is on the victim. I believe he has no incentive to change unless that incentive comes in the form of severe punishment in a court of law."

So much for rehabilitation.


33 people like this
Posted by @ Shocked
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 16, 2017 at 2:17 pm

The point here is not that the girls gave oral sex to this boy.
It is that he forced them despite being told NO. This is what you should be shocked at.
When your last sentence says "Consent is the vital concept to make crystal clear to yiuth.: I cannot help but think may be you got this wrong: the girls did not force the boy to give him oral sex. He forced them. Why are you criticizing the girls?


24 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 16, 2017 at 2:59 pm

I don't know of any sexual predator who changed his ways after not being punished but getting counseling instead. I asked a friend, a highly respected clinical psychologist, if she knew of any, and she didn't either. If this perpetrator is being coddled even further, the future is very much etched in stone, and it is a nightmarish future.


2 people like this
Posted by Charade
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 16, 2017 at 3:16 pm

[Post removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by bill1940
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 16, 2017 at 3:19 pm

The young boy requires psychiatric treatment in an environment that isolates him from young girls as well as the high school. These problems are treatable, and certainly, any form of incarceration will only exacerbate his behavior.


20 people like this
Posted by outsider
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 16, 2017 at 3:26 pm

@shocked.

Are you time traveling from some other century. Women and girls have rights now and get to say No whenever they want to.


9 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 16, 2017 at 4:17 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Shocked - It frankly disgusts me that you call out the "willingness" of female teens. These are the quotations from the Mercury News:

“I was pulling away with enough force he could tell I wanted to stop,” the victim said, “but he kept pushing my head down to the point I could not breathe.

“I was choking and consistently tried to pull away but he kept saying, ‘Don’t stop,’ and kept my head there.”


2 people like this
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 16, 2017 at 4:30 pm

Alphonso is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


22 people like this
Posted by Do not renew their contracts
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 16, 2017 at 5:30 pm

Do not renew Glenn McGee's contract, let him serve one more year on it and push him out. Start the search for the new superintendent in January of 2018. Do not use Leadership Associates. Reassign Kim Diorio, not because of PAEA's pressure (when have they ever been satisfied?), but because she was never a very good high school principal. This is going to shock some but Phil Winston was better. [Portion removed.] It is good for PAUSD that Holly Wade and Scott Bowers are retiring because Wade and Charles Young have been in charge of Title IX and complaint procedures for six years, and I will leave it up to you, the readers to decide home competent they have been. This is especially true with Bowers. [Portion removed.] I will leave it up to you to decide how responsible Bowers has been for the constant parade of sex scandals during his 10'yesrs. [Portion removed.] Kids come first in a school district, but the administrators and PAEA have not demonstrated that during the past 10 years of sex scandals and suicides. We can do better, but we haven't done better yet.


5 people like this
Posted by Not Again
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 16, 2017 at 6:23 pm

Here is the full copy of the Victim's Impact Statement:
Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Not Again
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 16, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Assailant-in-Palo-Alto-Student-Sex-Assault-Controversy-to-Leave-School:

Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Keith Ferrell
a resident of Southgate
on May 16, 2017 at 7:10 pm

I'm sure Paly will let us know that he has left and take credit for making the campus safe.


Like this comment
Posted by Shocked
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 16, 2017 at 7:16 pm

@shocked/Crescent Park,
You misunderstood my post.


22 people like this
Posted by PAUSD Parent
a resident of Midtown
on May 16, 2017 at 7:18 pm

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Shocked
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 16, 2017 at 7:24 pm

@John Alderman,
You also misunderstood my post.
I was referencing the person who posted about the book - see above - indicating interviews with underage girls who give oral sex and some don't label this sex, and some do.
Don't attack me, I have nothing to do with this other than commenting, in my opinion, I am shocked if this is prevalent today in American society.
See the book "Girls and Sex" noted above by another poster. I haven't read it myself.
I said that all youth need to understand consent -- why are you angry with me? Part of consent is that it may be withdrawn. I did NOT criticize girls other than to express shock at what the above poster, "whitepine," I believe, posted from this book which was apparently widely read and publicized, thiugh I didn't know about that before.


10 people like this
Posted by Not Again
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 16, 2017 at 7:24 pm

So it appears Football Coach Daniel Sullivan was the only adult in the room...


13 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 16, 2017 at 8:14 pm

Fellow neighbors, we are having a good, constructive discussion about the facts and the law. Can we please refrain from the emotional "they should all be fired" posts? It doesn't add any value to the conversation and just distracts from the discussion as a whole.

Thank you


13 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 16, 2017 at 8:31 pm

@wut... that's a helpful link. Thank you. Assuming the bou's attorney isn't lying, the latest Merc article said that the DA decided that the third act -the one at Paly- was deemed to be consentual underage sex act. Therefore, it doesn't sound like they could expel just him on that.

If the police weren't involved, then I'd agree that a school investigation might have been enough to expel. But if the DA doesn't see a one-sided crime, I can't see how they can expel.

So with the other accusation occurring in another town. And without no obvious conviction there (yes the editor probably will tell us they cannot confirm or deny this), then this probably explains why the boy is still at Paly. Like it or not.


6 people like this
Posted by @bill1940
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2017 at 8:56 pm

Bill, so far as we can tell, there's only one conviction here. And it's for a felony. If the last poster's details are accurate, then one is ruled consensual. So it seems a bit extreme to suggest to hannibal lecter treatment for this kid, no?


20 people like this
Posted by Do not renew their contracts
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 16, 2017 at 9:00 pm

Let's refrain from the emotional "this is all about the law" talk, and instead continue to right the PAUSD ship, and that begins with leadership. It's why we pay so much to live in Palo Alto, especially in terms of taxes and bonds. Glenn McGee needs to be sent away, w and need not be afraid to search for a new superintendent. He is not worth that $1.5 million, interest-free loan. Purposeful turnover is a good thing. This latest sex scandal is a symptom of McGee's focus on superficial leadership, Kim Diorio's videotape message to the Paly student body is representative of her leadership. Watch it, evaluate it. Can you imagine if tonight's news is that McGee gets a contract extension and Diorio is still principal in August? That simply would not be the sign of a healthy, effective school district.


1 person likes this
Posted by Legally confused
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 16, 2017 at 9:10 pm

@DoNotRemew... if you don't have something new to add to the conversation then you are just adding noise.


16 people like this
Posted by Do not renew their contracts
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 16, 2017 at 9:51 pm

Folks that try to deflect and distract from the core issue of failure are part of the problem. The new PAW article about the board contracting with a law firm to substitute for real action signals that they will continue to play the law instead of focusing on the basic, common-sense mission of student safety. No need for the web link, you all know how to surf. Here's hoping you lose interest in this by June.


4 people like this
Posted by @PAFreePress
a resident of another community
on May 17, 2017 at 4:17 am

'The judge who heard the case, Margaret Johnson, dismissed a second felony charge stemming from the same assault (oral copulation with a minor) and struck a requirement that the student register as a sex offender, according to court documents. She ordered the student to enroll in and complete a sexual offender counseling program, court documents show."

1. Plea deals take place in Juvenile court has well. In Santa Clara County 90 % of court cases do not make it to trial Web Link
2. [Portion removed due to inaccurate information.]


10 people like this
Posted by Ann Kelly
a resident of Ventura
on May 17, 2017 at 9:15 am

The only remotely positive aspect of this whole sorry situation is that it has taken attention away from the silly renaming of schools controversy


19 people like this
Posted by fed up with excuses
a resident of Barron Park
on May 17, 2017 at 6:45 pm

This is a complete failure right up to the board. There was no support for the female student. The male student should never have been allowed to continue at Paly and should have been immediately transferred while any investigation was done. Given the results, he should never have been able to return while the female student remained at Paly.

The district's actions directly resulted in the female student leaving the school, which is exactly what Title IX is supposed to prevent.

The board's reaction to instigate another investigation to gather more information is them running to form. They've used this excuse for inaction over and over again for why they don't do anything. The board has repeatedly shirked its responsibility for what happens on its watch. ALL board members are culpable in this without exception. They need to take a serious look at what they are doing on the board.


18 people like this
Posted by EPAMom
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 17, 2017 at 9:41 pm

This is a horrible situation, not only for the immediate victims, but for all of the other students, and not just the girls. What a toxic environment. All of those children must understand that those in charge do not care about their safety, their happiness, and the difference between right and wrong. For all that Palo Alto has to offer in terms of opportunity and accomplishment, it is all outweighed by the lack of caring directed towards the trophy children.


11 people like this
Posted by insider
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 18, 2017 at 6:21 pm

"The school board was first notified of the student's conviction on March 31, according to Vice President Ken Dauber. He said he did not learn of "any details, including the nature of the offense, until the media reported them."

* Why didn't he ask? Funny how Ken Dauber,who has something to say about everything else under the sun is eliciting crickets now. [Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Far Far Away
a resident of another community
on May 19, 2017 at 10:23 am

The 800 lb gorilla in the room, the one nobody can see or hear is the social status of the alleged perp and that of the victims. If it's rich boy son of influence, poor girl, that would explain a lot about the behavior of the Paly administrators.


4 people like this
Posted by Concerned Coach
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2017 at 11:27 am

Concerned Coach is a registered user.

The students should have their feelings known also. Seems like they are very disappointed why 'he' is still in school after 'his' third offense.

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Far Far Away
a resident of another community
on May 19, 2017 at 12:44 pm

And the court. Been there, seen that.


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

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