News

Law firm to investigate how district handled sexual-assault reports

Youth, parents to Palo Alto school board: Students don't feel safe on campus

The Palo Alto Unified Board of Education, facing pressure from alarmed parents and reacting swiftly to media reports of repeated sexual assaults by a Palo Alto High School student, decided Tuesday afternoon to hire a law firm to investigate district administrators.

In an emergency closed session meeting just five days after a local TV station exposed the allegations, the school board agreed to hire national law firm Cozen O'Connor to investigate "how district staff handled the issues surrounding the events at Palo Alto High School," to assist the board in its evaluation of the superintendent and to "aid the district in addressing any Title IX or other issues," board President Terry Godfrey told reporters after the meeting. The district already contracted the firm, nationally renowned for its work investigating Title IX violations, this spring to conduct investigations into past sexual misconduct cases as required by a resolution agreement with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

The board had called the closed meeting to evaluate three top district officials over their involvement in the case: Superintendent Max McGee, Paly Principal Kim Diorio and Chief Student Services Officer Holly Wade, also the district's Title IX coordinator.

All appeared to dodge a bullet Tuesday: Godfrey announced that the board took no personnel action. The board will conduct McGee's annual evaluation in June and share the results of that publicly "to the extent we can," Godfrey said.

She later said the board hopes the firm will start its investigation "as soon as possible" and complete it in time for McGee's evaluation.

While the administrators will remain in their jobs for now, the attorney for the male Paly junior who was convicted of one felony and involved in at least one additional sexual incident on campus issued a statement while the school board was still meeting in closed session. The student has "elected not to complete the school year on campus," attorney Stephanie Rickard said.

The district attorney's office also declined to file any charges against him "other than consensual underage sexual activity" for the incident that occurred at Paly last October, Rickard said. It's unclear if he was convicted of this crime, a misdemeanor, since court records for that charge are sealed.

Students and parents filled a standing-room-only meeting at the district office on Tuesday afternoon to express their shock, outrage and concern at the district's handling of the multiple sexual assault allegations, calling on trustees to show leadership in addressing what one parent called an "epidemic."

"We don't expect just purely being reactive," Paly parent Chris Cummings told board members. "We don't expect passivity. We expect things of this nature and things of this consequence to be handled proactively, and that's just not what I feel has happened here."

Alarmingly, several speakers reported their own experiences with inappropriate behavior at the hands of other students, including stalking, at both Palo Alto and Gunn high schools.

Eleanor Lee Wang said her daughter, a Gunn student, was groped on campus and reported it to the school after seeing the student do the same to another girl.

"There's not a sense of safety," she said, urging more transparency around notifying parents about unsafe behavior on campus.

A Paly parent said her daughter was stalked by male students the past two years. Her daughter, whose name is being withheld to protect her privacy, told the board that she felt "fearful" at school, like "my world had been turned upside down." Despite reporting the stalking to administrators, she said she felt like "no one was there for me."

"I'm here to speak on behalf of the students who are silent," the teenager said.

McGee told reporters outside the meeting that he was unaware of these incidents and would follow up on them. At next week's board meeting, he said he plans to propose a new district-level position -- assistant superintendent for strategic initiatives and operations -- to oversee Title IX compliance and to make sure that "nothing like this will slip through the cracks."

He also said he is organizing a community panel with the Palo Alto Council of PTAs that would feature him, a police officer, juvenile justice department representative and education lawyer.

A Paly parent also said her own daughter had experienced inappropriate behavior by the male student in question, who was convicted in juvenile court in January for forcing oral sex on a Menlo-Atherton High School student in a church bathroom in 2015.

A Paly freshman also reported that the same student forced oral sex on her in a campus bathroom this October. A third victim from outside the district has reportedly notified Palo Alto Unified that the male student sexually assaulted her off campus, a claim the Weekly has been unable to substantiate.

In an anonymous piece posted on Medium Wednesday, the third victim described her response to and processing of the alleged assault. (The Weekly believes the author is the Redwood City victim, based on verification by a source with knowledge of the situation.)

"Please, don’t let this become a failed example that shows other students they can get away with acts like these," she wrote. "My life changed in one night, but rape culture won’t change overnight… we must be vigilant in educating all young people about the realities of sexual violence.

"We will not tolerate this," she wrote.

On Tuesday, multiple speakers called for the firing of McGee, Diorio and Wade.

Paly parent Michelle Higgins, however, said she does not believe that "the problems in the entrenched culture this case has highlighted will be fixed by simply removing staff.

"I would prefer to see an honest and thorough examination of what went wrong, an acknowledgment that this district has a problem that is not isolated to any one school or any one staff member when it comes to equity and justice issues, whether they be related to race, to class or to gender and what constructive steps we can take to prevent making the same mistakes again," she said.

She also urged the board to evaluate the role district law firms played in these cases and for the district to take steps to address "rampant sexual harassment" in its middle and high schools.

Students, parents react to reports

Student and parent reaction to last week's media reports was immediate, and took many forms. A Paly junior, Darrow Hornik, launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to buy teal wristbands, the color of National Sexual Assault Awareness month, to wear in solidarity with victims of sexual assault. She quickly made and surpassed her funding goal. She purchased 2,600 wristbands -- enough for every Paly student to wear one -- and gave them out to other students on the quad at lunch on Wednesday.

On Monday, multiple Paly students wore white to school to stand with the victims and send a message to their school.

Posters also appeared briefly at Paly and the district office identifying the male student and calling for the resignations of Superintendent Max McGee and Paly Principal Kim Diorio for "failing the students that you have promised to protect."

Paly freshman Emma Higgins said in an interview she was "outraged" that Paly allowed the student to stay in school. She wore white on Monday as a way to voice her concerns to the administration.

"Wearing white is a peaceful yet forceful way of showing the administration that we support the victims and urge them to expel the predator, as it would ensure the safety of both the victims and all girls attending Paly," she told the Weekly.

Anmol Nagar, Paly's student body president, said she's heard both concern and confusion among students in recent days. She's hoping to see more transparency from the district in the coming days and weeks.

"I don't think that it is helpful for the community to simply demonize this student in front of his fellow students, and I think efforts would be better placed in reassessing how we address the issue of sexual assault as a whole, getting justice for the victims and their families and supporting the victims personally," she told the Weekly.

For the Palo Alto mother who in 2014 filed one of the Office for Civil Rights complaints that launched a yearslong federal probe into how the Palo Alto school district responds to reports of sexual misconduct, the current reports are "deja vu," she told the Weekly Tuesday.

The mother, whose name is being withheld to protect her privacy, filed a complaint alleging the district violated Title IX in its handling of stalking and relationship violence her daughter experienced as a Gunn High School student. This spring, the Office for Civil Rights found the district violated Title IX in her case by failing to take immediate interim measures to protect the victim and to "assess and address the hostile environment" she faced at school as a result of the harassment, a letter of findings states.

In the current case involving the male Paly student, the district has emphasized that he was not convicted for the on-campus incident, but rather for the off-campus assault. A legal Q&A prepared by the district's new law firm, Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, on Palo Alto Unified's behalf in response to this specific case states that a school cannot expel a student for committing or attempting to commit a sexual assault "unless the acts took place at school or at a school activity.

However, if an off-campus incident, such as a sexual assault, affects the victim on campus -- such as being bullied or harassed -- the school is "obligated to investigate, stop the harassment, prevent its recurrence and remedy its effects on campus," the Q&A states. This could also warrant transferring a student to another school, "consistent with Title IX guidance," the firm wrote.

But it is "absolutely the school's responsibility," the mother said, to address any effects of harassment or sexual assault, whether it happens on or off campus.

The mother said involved administrators as well as board members, who have said they were largely in the dark about the specifics of this case until media reports last week, should be held accountable for their apparent failure to adhere to district policy -- and federal law -- in this case.

Last week's news has spurred difficult conversations about sexual assault, consent and safety in homes, on campus and on social media. Acknowledging that not all facts about the different incidents are publicly known — and might not be, given the students involved are minors and the school district is limited in what it can say by federal student privacy laws — students and parents have expressed concern about the district's handling of the case, particularly the fact that the male student remained at school and has been playing on a varsity sports team.

Two days after the story broke, 50 parents gathered for two hours midday at a Palo Alto parent's home to learn about the ins and outs of federal anti-discrimination Title IX from Stanford University law professor Michele Dauber. They planned to talk about "how the process is supposed to work when someone reports a sexual assault, how we can talk to our daughters about sexual assault, rape and rape culture, and how to empower our girls," parent Jill Asher wrote in a Facebook post inviting others to the event.

Some parents are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to trying to stem sexual violence and misconduct. Paly parent Laura Prentiss, a social worker, said she and another local mother, a marriage and family therapist, started teaching an informal workshop out of Prentiss' home to teach other mothers how to talk about sex, consent, body image and related issues with their daughters. They started it because of incidents in the district, she said, from the former Paly principal being disciplined for sexual harassment to student media reports about a "rape culture" at Paly. They just started a second group for mothers of boys.

Parents' desire for more information and guidance, she said, underscores the need for a comprehensive sex-education program that continues through high school and touches on these topics.

"To me, it's all related," she said in an interview with the Weekly. "I don't know that these assaults could have been prevented with (students) having had more information about consent, but I do think that the more and more kids are talking about it and knowing about it and know who to go to when things go sour and how to get the proper help, then at least some of the damage can be reduced when these kind of situations happen."

"My hope is that this is the straw that breaks the camel's back," she added about the Paly case, "and the district really stops and looks at how our district handles these kinds of issues, what kind of messaging our kids get about sexual relationships, about consent (and) about safety on campus."

Related content:

School board to meet on Paly sexual assault case

• View a timeline of events in this story here.

Paly student accused of on-campus sexual assault

Behind the Headlines: District investigates sexual assault; Saving Buena Vista

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

36 people like this
Posted by More victims
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2017 at 9:06 pm

There you go. Another forced oral sex case with the same student in October of 2016 and the victim was brace enough to shed light on it in person at this meeting. More are out there.

It sounds like this law firm was already hired.

I'm not feeling like much was accomplished tonight. I'm hoping I'm wrong.


71 people like this
Posted by Kathy Jordan
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 16, 2017 at 9:13 pm

This is just an attempt by the Superintendent and Principal Diorio to postpone a reckoning for their handling of various events. For them, hopefully things will die down so they can be swept under the rug again. Why would the Board assist them in this? Just as it's hard to expect a predator to reform, so might it be hard to expect those with no commitment to combating sexual harassment to reform. The District has shown repeatedly that they have no true commitment to this cause, the OCR report faulted PAUSD for repeatedly failing to properly address these incidents, and specifically called out Ms. Diorio for, among other things, her failure to report 25 sexual misconduct reports, withholding them for three years. It's time for new blood and a new commitment to change. Help us school board to protect our children.


40 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on May 16, 2017 at 9:31 pm

I would expect the Board to have set a timeline to have the law firm report back. Until the law firm delivers their report, I would expect the Board to set up a regular and periodic monitoring process for the three administrators who have a performance issue: McGee, Diorio and Wade- like bi-weekly reports on any possible new Title IX issues, and a bi-weekly update on existing TItle IX issues - what they've done to address them, the amount of time they spent working each issue etc.

I see none of that coming out of this meeting.

The only adult with any sense of moral decency is the football coach, who threw the sexual predator off the team in October.


38 people like this
Posted by Missed the mark
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2017 at 9:58 pm

Retaining yet another 'law firm' to produce yet another batch of paperwork is not what is needed here. Just how many investigations of their flawed processes and personnel are needed before real changes are made?

All it sounds like is them preparing to get hammered by another well-deserved lawsuit for PAUSD's massive failure to protect one of its students.

KTVU has issued another televised report and the Chronicle is now following this story. Here is their link-Web Link

Probably the next step is an Associated Press story out to all the major newspapers.




16 people like this
Posted by next
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 16, 2017 at 9:59 pm

[Post removed.]


19 people like this
Posted by Missed the mark
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2017 at 10:10 pm

In this video clip, I don't think McGee exactly inspires confidence when the reporter questions him about his "hands being tied" Web Link

And his solution? Hire yet another Associate Superintendent bureaucrat?

What is their role exactly supposed to be?


52 people like this
Posted by Do not renew their contracts
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 16, 2017 at 10:19 pm

Definitely not about student safety, all about buying time and counting on you to head to Europe and Asia for vacation and forget about all this. Any other respectable district board would have handled this with Glenn McGee's firing or forced resignation, reassignment of Kim Diorio, and removal of Holly Wade as Title IX Coordinator, and simply replacing her with a county administrator, anyone who knows the basics of the Uniform Complaint Procedure, for example. Amazingly free from any scrutiny is Scott Bowers. He is the one constant in the last 10 years worth of sex scandals and suicides. He was a leader durIng all this time, and it would be nice to see him step up. Probably not going to happen.


23 people like this
Posted by Gunn
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 16, 2017 at 11:02 pm

Start from scratch. Take our "leader" too.


15 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 17, 2017 at 1:43 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

From the Paly Voice:

--
In one instance, at the entrance to the room where the forum took place, Supt. Max McGee shook hands with an attendee, who ignored McGee and eventually said, “Let go of my hand.”
--

What was that about??


59 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 17, 2017 at 5:57 am

If the board was really serious about addressing this travesty instead of just sweeping it under the rug and hoping to avoid a multi million lawsuit, they would have suspended the Principal and Superintendent with pay pending the completion of the investigation.


47 people like this
Posted by Kathy Jordan
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 17, 2017 at 6:32 am

If this is not to just be swept under the rug, the Paly and greater PAUSD parent community needs to demand to the Board what it expects to be investigated and how it expects to receive communicated about this investigation.

My view is that this law firm would be free to liaison with the OCR required investigator about the past incidents to better establish a pattern of behavior on the part of Ms. Diorio, Dr. McGee and others. According to the OCR we have not been served well by District officials in the past incidents. If their actions then and now were all great, great, great, they have nothing to worry about by having them examined.

Also, we would expect some communications to be sent to the community about the progress of the investigation, and when a report would be issued, etc.

In the meantime, why is it appropriate for senior officials whose actions were already condemned by the OCR to continue in their positions as though nothing happened? Will the Board hold people accountable or not? Is it just up to all of us?


66 people like this
Posted by Disgusted
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 17, 2017 at 7:56 am

Longtime devoted supporter of paused. Totally disgusted that max McGee's response is to hire someone at the district office level. Huge budget deficit, students hurt by budget cutting. He just wants to throw taxpayer's money at every problem. We don't need more "padding" with mcgees cronies and lackeys at the district level. We simply need employees like diorio and McGee to do the job THEY are being paid for! Very disappointed in the board. Wow, is Ken dauber suddenly " radio silent" or what?? The most vocal, media- seeking candidate is suddenly mute as an elected official. Where is all the change he promised? We've got a huge budget deficit and a huge disservice to paly students.


43 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 17, 2017 at 8:09 am

Clean out all the personnel in the D.O. Get people who stand for kids!


43 people like this
Posted by Kathy Jordan
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 17, 2017 at 8:19 am

To the Board:

While investigating the actions of District officials, with respect to the recent and not so recent incidents of sexual misconduct, I would also ask and expect that Cozen O'Connor should also be investigating the actions of officials with respect to communications, suppressing the dissemination of information not controlled by the District in Paly associated communication channels, actions encouraging teachers to disseminate favorable information about the District's handling of the incidents during class time, and using Paly communication channels to do the same.

As well, gathering and collecting information about the climate and culture at Paly, the culture of silence on both students and parents and other community members, bullying related to speaking out about these recent and not so recent incidents would be essential.

Thank you,
Kathy Jordan


60 people like this
Posted by Hate to say it
a resident of Midtown
on May 17, 2017 at 8:42 am

I am not a Trump supporter and I hate to say it but I feel it is appropriate here, it is time to "drain the swamp" at PAUSD. The decision to hire/fund yet another high level administrative position to help with this mess is a joke. We need culture change at PAUSD! Learning, academic achievement, social and emotional growth for our students all cannot take place if they are concerned for their basic safety and fearful of culture of sexual harassment / assault.

It is inconceivable to me how Dioro can maintain her position after this given all the other mistakes she made that surfaced as part of the title IX investigation. No employer should be so tolerant of an employee who cannot handle the responsibilities of their position. Especially when student safety is at risk.


12 people like this
Posted by al munday
a resident of another community
on May 17, 2017 at 8:58 am

having raised two great daughters, as a parent once you are informed about this by your child, you need to press hard on the schools principal, then go on up the ladder including contacting the PD.


27 people like this
Posted by graduating
a resident of Midtown
on May 17, 2017 at 9:20 am


The entire community owes Kathy Jordan and Keith Ferrell a big THANK YOU. Thank you for vocalizing the issue in this past months. Most community members would not have been aware of it, and the hidden victims who are still out there would have been suffering alone in the dark.

The board should be putting the involved people on leave while investigation is ongoing. There are more coverups not known yet.

The board simply can not let these people go around, do damage control and more coverups at this point. McGee, Diorio and the PTA should all be on leave to keep communications open.


22 people like this
Posted by Do the right thing, always
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 17, 2017 at 9:22 am

"Paly parent Michelle Higgins, however, said she does not believe that "the problems in the entrenched culture this case has highlighted will be fixed by simply removing staff."

Yes, an investigation is also needed. But it should go beyond this incident if we want to understand the coverup culture among administrators. Many families have been silenced and essentially forced out. What happened here is no more and no less sinister than the result of the accepted practices of favoritism and the ongoing perniciousness of the coverup culture. I do, however, think some employees are more responsible for that culture than others, even from back to the Skelly years, and not all seem to be mentioned here. If McGee survives this, he will do so be remembering that what sunk Skelly was the secrecy and thinking he could get away with coverups. Well, things fester. It does not work. Post haste get rid of any employees whose inclinations at all run toward coverup or dishonesty in community relationships. (Think: have you ever judged a situation with a family based primarily or only on what the employees told you, and without considering the possibility of employee misbehavior or conducting a proper investigation equally weighting the involvement and input of families?)

We left. Experiencing the inevitable retaliation if we spoke up again would not be worth it, we would have to be asked, and asked in a way that demonstrated that we would not only be protected from future retaliation, but that we would really be listened to. Although this situation is different, the underlying systemic inclinations and behaviors - that remain because of a lack of will to do the right thing in every circumstance and a strong impetus to cover up - are the same. Had our situation been properly handled, personnel would have changed, and I believe this would have been different.


32 people like this
Posted by Fact checker
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 17, 2017 at 9:27 am

The District's response totally ignores the fact that sexual assault is vastly under reported. Due to shame and fear of consequences from peers and family, sexual assault victims do not speak up. No investigation by a DEFENSE law firm hired by the District will uncover the truth about the many victims who were silenced by this culture. Hiring more female administrators is not the solution (an idea proposed by the school). In fact, educating young men by men (see Web Link) can work.

Demand a school environment where 1) it is safe to report; 2) the victim and her friends are more safe after reporting; 3) the focus is not only reporting, but also on training the young men and women that consent can be withdrawn at any point in a sexual relationship and 4) finally, withdrawal of consent must be respected and will be protected by the law.

As a very sad aside, this District finds so many reasons for suicide, but did you know that "among female high school students who have experienced sexual and physical abuse by a dating partner, nearly half have seriously contemplated suicide, and more than 1 in 4 have attempted suicide."


9 people like this
Posted by Confused
a resident of College Terrace
on May 17, 2017 at 10:20 am

My heart hurts for the young girls affected by this whole incident, as well as the many boys and girls who deal with harassment and other abuses that go unreported. I hope the girl who left our district has found a district that has a strong mental health team that can support her.

What I am confused about is how the school district and principal coul have legally done anything different? [Portion removed due to incorrect statement; a court decision is not necessary to expel a student, the Ed Code governs expulsions.] I agree that proper attention, investigation, resources, and community involvement needs to be put towards addressing the rape culture at Paly- and let's be honest the whole country needs it right now. But, why focus on a few individuals when we don't have all the information and are not legally allowed to ever get it. Better to make systematic improvements and hold leadership accountable if thy don't happen.


25 people like this
Posted by Not surprised
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 17, 2017 at 10:20 am

There are more victims from the same student? I am not surprised in the slightest. As someone who knows the student and also several of his victims, I had been suspecting this for quite some time.

On that note, I am very inspired but to see the community mobilizing itself, starting groups, etc.

I'm glad that this sparked a long overdue conversation on sexual violence in our communities.


12 people like this
Posted by outsider
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 17, 2017 at 10:52 am

well. my kids have learned never to contact a school admin. or counseling at any school or the security hired by a school and will know to have their own representation. great lesson to see firsthand and close up. Could having to put up with this during their daily school life please, please count for life skills credit? Kids would be free to take more humanity classes which would serve them all better.


16 people like this
Posted by Confused Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 17, 2017 at 10:57 am

Holy Cow! The perpetrators attorney said he 'the Junior' will not be completing this school year at Paly. So he misses a few weeks of school and takes the finals after the fact.

Will he be allowed to come back to Paly next year as a Senior?? Will any of this be on his permanent record? I sue would hate to run into him at my college in two years.


36 people like this
Posted by Cover up
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 17, 2017 at 11:19 am

This is reminding me of the San Jose State water polo athlete who was accused of sexually assaulting two girls. One texted "help me" repeatedly on her phone while this was happening. The Merc at the time reported that out of 900 rape cases, they declined to prosecute 400 at the DA's office. They never did prosecute the athlete BUT San Jose State banned the guy from campus after it was reported.

PAUSD failed to ban the student from the high school campus in Oct 2016 after the bathroom assault.

How could San Jose ban the athlete from campus when PAUSD says their hands were "tied" ? This makes no sense whatsoever. Both situations involve FERPA so if San Jose State can ban a student who has been accused of assault from campus, why couldn't PAUSD. Why did the girl's family have to move 100 miles or so away?

I think PAUSD's hands were not tied at all, but they simply tried to cover up the situation.


30 people like this
Posted by ChangeNeeded
a resident of College Terrace
on May 17, 2017 at 11:46 am

Beyond being devastated for these victims and furious at the perp, Why are girls gong in the boys bathroom? I thought you could get kicked out of school for that. Security cameras should be placed outside all bathrooms. When I spoke to my two daughters who go to Paly about this they said, "everyone goes into that bathroom to get high or have sex. It happens all day long."

Stopping that from happening today should be first on the list. Then let's look at the administration that has been ignoring that for years. Any intimate sexual activity, even consensual, on campus is reason for expulsion. This is not the only boy hooking up with whomever he can and everyone is fooling themselves if they think so.


12 people like this
Posted by Not Again
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 17, 2017 at 12:27 pm

@Cover Up

The Clery Act is a federal law in place for college campuses only, unfortunately. It does not cover high schools.
Web Link

This issue is not unique to Palo Alto.It is great that so many of you are riding herd on the local school administration and board. It will also take a fight at levels beyond the school district to put the necessary protections in place for K-12. I don't know if anything can be done at the county or state level, but that would be great if it could... With the grid lock in congress and the senate, I don't have high hopes among those bodies of lawmakers, even though our own representatives would no doubt be supporters.


21 people like this
Posted by Jerrod
a resident of Midtown
on May 17, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Someday, someone will write a story about this entire affair, particularly as it applies to a very liberal city like Palo Alto. There are several sensibilities that are in conflict, but they cannot be discussed in a public forum in PA...simply not allowed.


33 people like this
Posted by Letdown
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on May 17, 2017 at 12:54 pm

The Board appears to stand by and do nothing as McGee and Diorio flub their way thoughtlessly through this mire!

I agree with Mauricio: the School Board had the power to suspend McGee and Diorio-- possibly even Holly Wade ( useless as a Title IX liaison). They should have done it months ago. As the complications increase, the Board members need to cowboy up and suspend them without pay, until an investigation is completed. Should the outcome implicate them, they should be summarily fired!

If McGee, Wade, and Diorio had any pride, ethics or decency, they would have resigned. [Portion removed.]


20 people like this
Posted by Missed the mark
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 17, 2017 at 1:13 pm

To Not Again"

As I am reading it, Title IX applies to not only to colleges like San Jose State but high schools and middle schools and elementary schools.

Palo Alto Unified had an obligation under Title IX to ensure that the victim from October 2016 at Paly had no contact or communication with the athlete she accused of sexual assault and was not subject to retaliation.

Palo Alto Unified needed to ensure this my restricting the ability of the accused to actually be present on the Paly campus. It did not.

What it sounds like is that Palo Alto Unified failed to protect the victim.

Instead, it protected the accused.

And in my reading of Title IX, it failed.


13 people like this
Posted by Stew Pid
a resident of Community Center
on May 17, 2017 at 1:28 pm

I am honored to be on the hook for the retirement paychecks and lifelong family medical benefits of these wonderful administrators.

So very honored indeed.


44 people like this
Posted by Different Opinion
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 17, 2017 at 1:56 pm

@ Jerrod, I agree.

[Portion removed.]

I am a mother. I have a daughter at Paly. Not everyone in Palo Alto agrees with the incensed parent mob. I find it abhorrent the way adults have responded, assumed they know all the facts (which they are legally not entitled to know), verbally attacked the student accused of sexual assault (when it was deemed consensual by the District Attorney - see above), posted his photo/name/address in SJ Mercury online news (shocking and dangerous considering he's a minor), jumped on Michele Dauber's Title IX parent meeting bandwagon (ie. inappropriate in this case considering her husband is on the BOE), insisted the student should have to leave campus (instead of rallying around reform as suggested previously by other wise and mature Paly students including the Paly Student Body President above). Education and compassion is what's needed, not vilification.


31 people like this
Posted by Facts
a resident of another community
on May 17, 2017 at 2:47 pm



All of this information I have written, can be confirmed by Elena K., the author of this article.

Fact:

The student was convicted of a felony conviction for an off campus assault Dec. 2016

Fact:

The PAUSD was made aware of this conviction. February 2017

Fact:

The PAUSD was contacted by the family of victim in March 2017 and at that time no title IX investigation had taken place.

Fact:

AFTER being called out, by the victim from the felony conviction, on the failure to begin an investigation, the district opened an investigation.

Fact:

The district opened an investigation in response the to victim's request.

Questions:

Would they have opened a Title IX investigation if the victim of the felony had not contacted them?

Would any of us be here today if it were not for a brave young girl?

Why didn't the district open an investigation WHEN THEY WERE FIRST INFORMED instead of AFTER THE VICTIM CONTACTED THEM?

All of these facts and exact dates can be confirmed by the author of this article.


47 people like this
Posted by PA Grandma
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 17, 2017 at 2:48 pm

The one thing I do not see in any of these comments is a statement of parental responsibility. These children are minors. They are under parental care and guidance. It should be clear to parents that they have a part to play in this as well. This kind of behavior and activity is NOT ACCEPTABLE!! It should not be tolerated and parents should be held responsible as part of the solution.

Did the parents get help for this boy? It doesn't sound like it. Should he have been suspended from school after the first incident? Absolutely. Sexual aggression is not about sex. It's about violence, aggression and control. Any one who does it needs help. It should be clear that it will not be tolerated.


25 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 17, 2017 at 2:59 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Different Opinion -Frankly, if you aren't upset about sexually assaulting a 14 year old girl in a bathroom or the fact that the victim was run out of school while the assaulter got to stay and play varsity sports, then I do feel morally superior to you. Like a lot.

As for compassion, it is the problem, not the solution. Less compassion for the assaulter after his first sexual assault, and maybe there wouldn't have been a second or third. If PAUSD had thought about the victim first, instead of compassion for the assaulter and expelled him, then people wouldn't be upset now, there would be no Mercury News article to comment on, and no Title IX meeting to go to. So this is pretty much a classic case of failed over compassion, and compassion for the wrong person.


10 people like this
Posted by Compassion for ALL!
a resident of Midtown
on May 17, 2017 at 3:02 pm

@ Different Opinion,
Both students were let down here by the district.
Consent needs to be at every stage, the minute a person says No, it is sexual assault.
Clearly the victim felt unsafe. She left the district because she felt unsafe.
Clearly someone made this incident known to other students, there was graffiti and bullying of the victim.
The school had an obligation to protect both the victim and the perpetrator's rights. It seems that his rights trumped hers. That is unconscionable to me.
His behavior (whether you believe he said or she said)made her feel unsafe and needed to be addressed. There are consequences to actions. If not learned now, the consequences will be greater when he is an adult.


14 people like this
Posted by A Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 17, 2017 at 3:05 pm

@Different, I agree that a lynch mob mentality is inappropriate. I don't know the answers about the student in question, either legally or morally. But I don't think we need to in order to judge whether the administrators were effective.

The boy was definitely convicted of felony sexual assault in an off-campus incident - the records are not sealed, the papers have reviewed them, he has been convicted and sentenced. We know what the boy's lawyer is saying, but I haven't heard anything from the District Attorney or police, and the other records are apparently sealed. So we don't know any other facts.

The school definitely did not conduct a timely Title IX investigation, which is critical to understanding what happened, including the post-incident environment (bullying), as whether there might be other victims (certainly a concern).

There's no way to know whether the school recognized they had a sex offender on their hands after the boy's conviction and whether they took appropriate steps to ensure student safety. It is hard to trust them, given the long history of sexual assault and related process missteps at Paly and the District (see the OCR Findings letter for a highlight reel).

BTW, I'm not sure why Michele Dauber educating people on Title IX (on which she is an expert) is inappropriate because her spouse is on the school board. There's no conflict of interest, and Title IX is simply the law, so understanding it better is in everybody's interests. I don't get that one.

For me, the boy and girl - all the kids - deserve their rights including due process. But we and the board are the only ones who judge the administrators, and while we don't know everything, I think we know enough.


21 people like this
Posted by A victim
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 17, 2017 at 4:07 pm

Here is a letter I wrote in response to this recent media coverage on my sexual assault. I hope you can take the time to read this and share your thoughts: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 17, 2017 at 4:45 pm

Alphonso is a registered user.

A Victim -
How was the case resolved? Also, I assume your case was handled in San Mateo County rather than Santa Clara County. I realize you may not want to talk about the outcome, but it would be helpful to know what happened.


10 people like this
Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on May 17, 2017 at 4:47 pm

There are some things I don't understand. Based on this excerpt from the San Jose Mercury,

"The victim said she reported the incident to police about a month later and they worked with her to arrange a phone call in which she asked him why he forced her head down. He apologized and admitted fault during the call, she said.

She said police should have alerted Palo Alto High.

Palo Alto police Capt. Zach Perron declined to say whether the department did so but noted it does not typically notify schools of investigations involving juveniles that occur off campus, partly because there are so many of them. Another reason is because juvenile suspects have a right to privacy, Perron said."

The victim did not report the incident to school officials & waited a month to report it to the PAPD, who say they don't usually report these events to schools. My questions:
1) How can schools respond to incidents they aren't aware of?
2) What are the specific requirements of school administrators to act against an alleged perpetrator if there is not yet proof? This is a question, not an argument against the strong opinions of other posts.
3) Is a school administrator responsible for initiating "punishment" before allegations are proven?
4)If the San Jose Mercury, as stated be another poster, can publish the name of the offender, why can't Palo Alto online? Shouldn't it let others know that this convict might pose a danger to others in the community? There are plenty of girls in town who don't go to Paly, but maybe Castilleja, Mid-Pen,Peninsula, Menlo, & Sacred Heart? Protect everyone.

Don't think Scott Bower would have been any better-his time at Paly was disastrous. [Portion removed.]
Is there a legal conflct between schools' responsibility to protect student privacy vs. ascertain accuracy of accused misbehavior before taking action? It sounds as if this is the case & PAPD needs to notify schools before schools can take action.

PAHS- no more unisex bathrooms, please. Single gender only.

Parents need to start educating their children very early about consensual behaviors & monitor TV shows which glorify male sexual prowess. Dads, don't brag to your sons about your youthful experiences. Everyone, teach your daughters to differentiate between active consent & passive acquiecence. Many of us know girls & women who, after-the-fact, have decided their experiences were date-rape, which further confuses the issues.





4 people like this
Posted by Jerrod
a resident of Midtown
on May 17, 2017 at 5:16 pm

There was a now near-legendary event that went on in Palo Alto (at Cubberley HS), in the 60s, called "The Third Wave". I am not sure it was justly or fully reported, or not, but it was interesting to see how various people responded to it. It was, at least, fully open to public discussion, including a TV movie made about it. A full public discussion about this current sexual assault issue at Paly is just not allowed, at this point. Maybe there will be a TV movie made about it in about 5 years or so.


7 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 17, 2017 at 6:29 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@A Parent - "There's no way to know whether the school recognized they had a sex offender on their hands after the boy's conviction and whether they took appropriate steps to ensure student safety."

According to the Palo Alto Online timeline, and they seem to be going above and beyond about only publishing verified information, PAUSD was notified by the court of the felony sexual assault conviction on Jan 31. So we know they were aware they had a sex offender in school. As for whether they took appropriate steps to ensure student safety, I haven't seen anyone point to any steps taken.


Web Link

"Jan. 31, 2017: A letter from the Juvenile Justice Department with this date is sent to PAUSD notifying the district that the male Paly student was convicted in juvenile court."


4 people like this
Posted by Another Event
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 17, 2017 at 6:31 pm

There was a murder at Milpitas High in the Seventies.

The killer dumped the girl's body in a local river, THEN took other students to see the corpse.

A movie called , The River was made 20 yrs later. Keanu Reeves was one of the stars


2 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 17, 2017 at 6:48 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Another Event - The movie was River's Edge. The killer sexually assaulted several girls before he raped and murdered Marcy Conrad.


3 people like this
Posted by esther warkov
a resident of another community
on May 17, 2017 at 8:24 pm

We invite the district, parents, students, and others to share Sexual Harassment: Not in Our School! a free streaming video with national experts and action guide. The video also includes the Verde issue on rape culture. SSAIS.org, a national nonprofit, would like to work with the school community. You can find all of this free online at ssais.org/video. Please contact us to collaborate info@stopsexualassaultinschools.org.


9 people like this
Posted by Facts
a resident of another community
on May 17, 2017 at 8:44 pm

To Chip-

" How can schools respond to incidents they aren't aware of? "

Verify with the author of this article if you want confirmation of the facts. We are not talking about the failure of PAUSD to respond to an off campus allegation of which they were not aware. We are talking about the fact that the school didn't respond to a CONVICTION, of which they were made aware.

1. They were made aware of a conviction in Feb. 2017
2. When Victim #1' contacted them in March, they had not conducted an investigation but rather filed to do so, AFTER they were put on notice by the victim that the media was getting involved.

Why not before? What if the media had not been contacted by the victims? Where would the REQUIRED investigation be?


3 people like this
Posted by Education
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2017 at 11:58 am

[Post removed.]


32 people like this
Posted by Educator
a resident of Downtown North
on May 18, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Today at Paly is Senior "No Pants" Day- a "tradition" whereby male students come to school in boxer briefs and girls wear long button down shirts. When our school community discusses environments that allow sexual assault and a culture of sexual harassment and violence to persist, versus combatting it, I hope we can look broadly at how "traditions" communicate values. Principal Diorio took a bold stand and ended the long tradition of "streaking" for seniors. I am shocked that No Pants Day was allowed this year. Parents- if you let your kid leave the house in his or her underwear, you are part of the problem.


23 people like this
Posted by PTA Member
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 18, 2017 at 12:49 pm

Looks to me like the board is building a case to fire McGee for cause. They are explicitly saying they will use the law firm findings as an input to his performance review. They didn't have to make that connection, they could have just ordered a review to improve district processes blah blah.


24 people like this
Posted by shocked
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 18, 2017 at 1:58 pm

Sexual violence is not caused by boxer shorts or long shirts.

Sexual violence is caused by perpetrators who feel entitled to other people's bodies.

Those students are not part of the problem, @Educator.


13 people like this
Posted by How Smartphones on Campus Enable Sex
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 18, 2017 at 1:59 pm

I agree with the wise comments in this thread about the school environment.

Sadly, "consensual underage sexual activity" (as law enforcement has described this incident) is bound to be fueled in places where teenagers have all-day use of their smartphones.

Such use is "banned" in classrooms but nevertheless takes place there (kids are good at hiding it), and also occurs at brunch, lunch, during passing periods and study halls.

Thus, kids have access to the means of setting up assignations during the school-day, and also to sexualized photographs on Snapchat and throughout the Internet. They can Instagram and text throughout the school day about the latest sexual gossip. Boys can send requests for nude photographs; girls must reckon with this as they wrestle with their natural desires for popularity.

Photos can be snapped, even in class, of "revealing" clothing and postures. Kids check their phones so frequently in class that the Gunn social studies department, this year, instituted its own, separate policy requiring kids to check their phones at the door.

Among the six stress-reducing proposals of the 560-member community alliance Save the 2,008 is a measure to require our high-schoolers to keep their phones put away and turned off, first bell to the last. Consistent enforcement and strong repercussions for violators can easily turn this tide of youthful preoccupation that quite naturally includes something of great power in teen life: sexual feelings.

I invite your support, with just the keystrokes of your name, at savethe2008.com

Sincerely,
Marc Vincenti
Gunn English Dept. (1995-2010)
Chairman, Save the 2,008


10 people like this
Posted by Zsa Zsa
a resident of Green Acres
on May 18, 2017 at 3:46 pm

What does it take to get rid of Wade? She oversees Title 9. She has failed time and time again, whatever position she has been in. No doubt they'll promote her once again. Pathetic.


25 people like this
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 18, 2017 at 3:50 pm

Alphonso is a registered user.

PTA Member - You might ask yourself why would McGee want to stay in PA or for that matter why would anyone want that thankless job? Administrators forced out of PA are flourishing elsewhere where they do not have to put up with the entitled nature of PA parents.
The latest Paly case was way over blown - badly researched/written news stories stirred up the mob and from that point forward we ended up with a thoughtless process. Anyone reading the initial news stories came away thinking the kid was convicted for a felony that happened at Paly. In addition we were given the impression there were still open allegations against the kid when in fact all of the cases were closed. The act at Paly was determined to be consensual sex and was resolved that way, but then at some later date the female and her mother decided to suggest something else. My question is did they change their mind on their own or did somebody else pressure them to do so? Three Administrators were on the firing line for the way they handled the Paly case and the conviction notice information. Apparently there was a delayed action in dealing with the conviction notice but the person most responsible for that delay has already been asked to leave - it would appear that corrective action had already happened.
I am bothered by the way this story was presented to the press - was it part of larger agenda? Included in that concern was how twisted the story was - as if there was an effort to confuse the media so they would present an altered view of reality. The concept of eliminating sexual assault is noble, but when you make that point by trying to destroy administrators, teachers, students, judges etc (many innocent people) the process is JUST WRONG!
I don't know if the kid at Paly deserved to be demeaned or not, but the problem is that the people responsible for demeaning him do not know any more than I do. In the eye of the Law the kid had been punished and apparently was meeting the demands of the Court.


26 people like this
Posted by Cover Up
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2017 at 4:12 pm

The convicted felon was convicted in an off campus assault and within weeks of that trial acted in a similar manner in a high school background but this time it was a girl who barely turned 14. The on campus assault was not consensual according to the victim. Neither was the assault the felon was convicted for. And apparently there is also a third victim. The Attorney tried to argue that the act that resulted in a conviction was consensual too if you read the victim's published statement. This even happened on a church. The bottom line is all three administrators who attempted to cover up this situation need to be fired because they all failed at their jobs. They failed to protect the victim at Paly. As far as them getting jobs anywhere else where they are responsible for children's safety I have no idea who would hire these people.


30 people like this
Posted by Time to go
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2017 at 8:14 pm

Put Glenn McGee and Kim Diorio on leave immediately. There are plenty of retired and current administrators who can come in and babysit for a month. Then put a letter of reprimand in the personnel files of Holly Wade and Scott Bowers, it's called accountability. Where are you Ken Dauber? I can't hear you but I should. I'm not calling on Melissa Caswell, that ship should have sailed years ago. Leadership is addressing the administrative shortcomings of these highly paid administrators. Don't worry, the teachers don't get off clean on this one. From Escondido to Paly, they failed to prevent this, and they should have.


5 people like this
Posted by roger
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 18, 2017 at 9:25 pm

Last Superintendent was faulted for not telling anyone about an investigation into what turned out to be nothing.
This one want to hire someone else to take the heat.
I prefer someone who may be forgetful but is honest over someone who only listens to a few vociferous individuals who have the money to make a stink.


17 people like this
Posted by SUPPORT OUR DAUGHTERS
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 18, 2017 at 10:47 pm

Thank you, Elena K for vigorous reporting.


3 people like this
Posted by confession
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2017 at 1:08 am

[Post removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by Normal Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 19, 2017 at 5:46 pm

Okay - now I have to rant....

The parents who have whipped this into a frenzy asking for the dismissal of the administration and "draining the swamp" are completely ridiculous. I am not sure exactly what more the administration could have done in the case in point - it had already been dealt with by the legal system where it had been deemed a consensual act and the student punished. Obviously, having further episodes occur was bad, but how exactly did the school or administration lack in their duty? Should they have hired a personal body guard to make sure he didn't do anything bad again? Should they have excommunicated him from the PA community? Is there no path towards normalization for this young man or should we just toss him aside and label him a sex offender hence forth?

I also don't think anyone really knows what happened in any of these situations. Regardless of what either party says happened, it's he said/she said. While victims need to be supported, people should be mindful that these are very young men and women who are just starting to explore their sexuality. They have no idea what to do or how to act and unfortunately many probably learn from looking at porn on-line (you don't think your precious boys and girls are watching this - think again). Obviously we need to teach our kids how to set boundaries and how to respect others' boundaries, however any of those efforts by parents or schools is by no means a guarantee that those lessons will be remembered during the heat of passion. Who of us is to say that things didn't start out consensual (in each case), but then move quickly to something that was not comfortable for the victim? Who of us hasn't been in a situation like this in our lives? Should we all be considered felons and victims, or just normal people?

Obviously no one wants anyone to feel threatened or be legitimately threatened or hurt. The administration has a lot on their plate focusing on educating our children and cannot be taken to task to ensure that all children are healthy, well-adjusted sexual beings. A large portion of that falls to the parents and their upbringing and yet more to the students themselves. I personally want the administration focusing on providing the best academic education for my students and not overly focused on something they likely can't really impact anyway. We could drain the swamp and bring in a whole new crew (at great expense) - you're still going to have sexual assault. It doesn't change a thing because this is something that starts and ends with kids exploring their sexuality.

Last thing - we DON'T have a "rape culture". I don't know who started this phrase, but if you really think that we have a rape culture, then that means that the MAJORITY of the individuals in our community are pro-rape. Really??
How many bona fide rapists or sexual deviants do you think we have in our schools? Would you say it is >50%? 70%? NO!! It's a small fraction of individuals, as it always is in any human community. So, please stop demeaning the rest of us, particularly my kids, by labeling us or our teachers/administrators as being part of or supportive of a "rape culture". Rape is abhorrent and the continuation of phrases like this do nothing to stop it or raise awareness - just confusion and shame upon those of us who have done nothing wrong.



7 people like this
Posted by opinion
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2017 at 6:16 pm

Given the 1) repeated historical and current pattern violations of Title IX at PAUSD, the 2) repeated Federal Office of Civil Rights-cited PAUSD history with sweeping incidents under the rug, and the 3) PAUSD retaliation culture against those who complain complete with through retaliation forcing student/victims and families to exit the District who complain, this points to a massive failure on the part of the three individuals - the superintendent, principal and IX coordinator.

If the administration has "a lot on their plate" so that they ignore the OCR and safety of students and are too busy on other things like pressing (sarcasm) issues lie renaming middle schools for them make assault and student safety an area of absolute laser-like focus, then these 3 should not to be administrators and should really look for another line of work.

If this series of recent events had been out of the blue, the public would think one thing, but given the repeated pattern of similar events, it is really beginning to look like there is a rape and retaliation culture at play.

It is disturbing to think students are repeatedly groped on school campuses as some disclosed at the recent meeting.

The findings of the now hired law firm will hopefully ensure all 3 are terminated for cause.


13 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 19, 2017 at 6:26 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Normal Parent - "Last thing - we DON'T have a "rape culture". I don't know who started this phrase"

Educate yourself, it is Paly students themselves who have raised the rape culture problem in Palo Alto.

Web Link

BTW, "rape culture" in no way suggests a majority of the population are rapists, it suggests that there are many people who have really lousy attitudes, for example yours, like this: "Regardless of what either party says happened, it's he said/she said." <-- Off course, that's wrong, and that's part of rape culture.


5 people like this
Posted by Jerrod
a resident of Midtown
on May 19, 2017 at 7:34 pm

Once it is allowed to have a full discussion on this issue, it will include both rape culture and seduction culture (both males and females); sexual interest and excitement and risk taking among teenagers; adults with agendas and other subjects too taboo to discuss at this point. I think that will be about 4-5 years from now.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Charleston Meadows

on May 19, 2017 at 8:13 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


14 people like this
Posted by graduating
a resident of Midtown
on May 19, 2017 at 10:08 pm


It is naive that people are thinking investigation from the law firm will result in any consequence for anyone in the district. Think who is paying the law firm, and what a law firm does for its client. The last thing a law firm does is to bring its client to court, period.

It almost feels like the people eventually getting screwed will be the victim and her family. These are who the hired law firm is working against.

As the graduating class leaves campus in several weeks, parents will move on in life outside of high school. The current wave of community outcry will be over. Putting a pause by introducing this law firm investigation is what the district is doing. The sexual assault crisis is over for the district.

All these new staff positions created in the district office in response to the issue is also a good time to surround McGee with new blood of his own.

Wondering who these powerful backers of McGee's are, for someone who one came from the midwest in the past several years? Is there old money/tech money supporting him? Some news reporter should dig into this---this someone/some people who could silence our board. Must be super powerful.


8 people like this
Posted by opinion
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2017 at 11:34 pm

The Board stated that the report from the law firm would be used as input to the superintendent's evaluation this June.

That tells me the investigation is being used for removal of the superintendent potentially.

[Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Legal Fees Budget 1 Million
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on May 21, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Upcoming Board of Education Agenda for 5/25/2017 shows:

Increase of legal funds to one million
Web Link

Resignation of Brenda Carillo, Director of PAUSD Counseling
Web Link

Reorganization of District Offices Employee
Web Link

Link to Palo Alto Online announcement of meeting
Web Link


12 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 21, 2017 at 2:56 pm

There will be no end to the rape culture and resulting escalating legal costs until PAUSD fires both the superintendent and the Paly principal for cause. Do not give either of them any retirement benefits or allow a voluntary resignation such as awarded to the staffer who was the cause of a multi-year spreadsheet written (and buried for YEARS!) of student sexual abuse complaints about that staffer which went no where but to the federal OCR since the current Paly principal hadn't a clue how to deal with a serial sexual predator... and STILL hasn't a clue.

At Paly last week, the principal tried to assure students and staff all was OK since no student had been convicted (yet) of any sexual crime occuring on campus. As if Paly is an isolated island on a planet far, far away from the real world. That's just saying to student sex predators to go forth and rape off campus while no rights, privileges or status will be lost on campus. Meanwhile, rape survivors must leave the "perfect island" as if this is a harmless TV survivor game show where they are "slut-shamed" instead of the rapists and their supporters and enablers being shamed.

Rape culture in public schools will not end until the adult and student leaders make it stop. Rape suvivors and their friends alone can't make it stop. I won't vote for another PAUSD incumbent board member unless, for starters, they fire without benefits the superintendent.


6 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 21, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Thanks Legal Fees Budget for the links. [Portion removed.] Get a spine PAUSD board. Have the courage to fire for cause, or at least stop paying such employee's a salary immdiately or you'll all just continue to be co-dependant enablers of rapists.


2 people like this
Posted by A Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 21, 2017 at 3:57 pm

@Oldster, the staff member with the 3 year spreadsheet of Winston harassment incidents was Paly Principal Kim Diorio, who was Asst Principal at Paly at the time. I'm not aware of any accusations against Ms. Carillo.


Like this comment
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 21, 2017 at 4:36 pm

Many thanks for the correction, Parent! Sincere apologies to anyone accidently named by mistake. I see the Online moderator has already removed a name I mentioned from the school board's next agenda on resignations.


6 people like this
Posted by Circle
a resident of College Terrace
on May 21, 2017 at 10:29 pm

In the contract, the law firm to investigate wrongdoing is hired by McGee. Also in the contract, the law firm is to "refrain from releasing information that is harmful" to PAUSD.

Hypothetically, if the firm found any fault of district employees, is it to release the info or not? Wouldn't this hypothetical fault be basis for victim to sue the district if they found out?

Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by Integrity
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2017 at 8:21 am

@Circle,
Lots of things could be the basis for suing the district, but truth and sincere apologies, and measures to rectify things go a long way a probably would have prevented past (and potential future) suits. (At least if we believe the evidence regarding when people sue.)

That's a very thought provoking point you make. Is protecting PAUSD about protecting families and especially students with honesty and transparency, or is it about protecting the backsides and resumes of underperforming administrators? Usually large entities will spell out in their contracts whether they provide the latter, for example, if administratirs are accused of malfeasance in the course of their work will the employer cover their legal costs. Otherwise, employees pay their own legal fees. In PAUSD, the administrators have been using district legal for their own personal legal needs, to cover up,, with students a last priority. I wonder if the administrators declared all that free legal time courtesy PAUSD on their taxes? Because what they've done has made the district more vulnerable/ liable, not less. The board should soul search about how to ensure legal resources that put students and families first and can't be abused by administratirs who don't.


2 people like this
Posted by Far Far Away
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2017 at 12:44 pm

"In the contract, the law firm to investigate wrongdoing is hired by McGee. Also in the contract, the law firm is to "refrain from releasing information that is harmful" to PAUSD."

This is why the board hired the law firm rather than run the risk of a parents group hiring someone who wouldn't be bound by an agreement like this. Correct me if I'm wrong but wouldn't it be a violation of the cannons of legal ethics for the law firm to say anything damaging to their clients interests? I know there's a lawyer around here somewhere.


2 people like this
Posted by accountability
a resident of Downtown North
on May 23, 2017 at 1:55 pm

It is up to the Board to release any information. They have promised to do so. This is a board that includes members who have been very very committed to public transparency, especially Ken Dauber. Why don't you wait and see if they do it before you decide they won't? It's already a pretty bold step to announce that they have hired an investigator to look into the conduct of staff. That alone speaks volumes. They have hired an investigator known for her independence instead of some local hack. Investigator reports are not privileged, and the reports are subject to the CA public records act, something Dauber and the Weekly both know. Certain personnel info may be releasable subject to the law but procedures have to be followed (see Web Link).

Give the Board time to do their work. Do you just want to them to run out into the street screaming private info and then end up costing the taxpayer millions in damages? Trust your elected officials and if they don't end up deserving your trust (e.g., Heidi, Melissa) you can unelect them when the time comes.


5 people like this
Posted by Window dressing again?
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 23, 2017 at 2:48 pm

@accountability,
Good points. But have you ever tried to get this district to release information under records acts when they don't want to provide it? Who wnforces it if I don't have the funds to get a lawyer to get the records or if I don't want it taken out on my kid in school if I push? The latter there is not a hypothetical outcome. All the board does is tell McGee or Wade and then they go back to ignoring you unless you push in which case you have to watch your back. And you still won't get the records.


2 people like this
Posted by Window dressing again?
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 23, 2017 at 2:52 pm

I'm serious, who enforces records requests? Also, did anyone notice that McGee Changed board regs so he could dump records after a much shorter time? Does sweeping stuff under the rug on purpose and plotting to systematically destroy evidence coubt as worthy of this investigation?


2 people like this
Posted by fed up
a resident of Barron Park
on May 23, 2017 at 2:53 pm

@Accountability,

The board were told about the incident back in October (Web Link)
...and they did nothing

It was again brought up in March to the board, (Web Link)
... and they did nothing

Finally there's coverage in the media (Web Link)
... and the board is once again in reactionary mode

So, yeah, any trust in this board is shot. Or do think it was OK for Dauber and friends to do nothing for 9 months when informed of incidents of a sexual nature on campus?

The current board members have no excuse for letting down the female students on campus. Blame goes right to the top. The board knew about it and they did nothing.


4 people like this
Posted by Stanford An Inspiration
a resident of Community Center
on May 23, 2017 at 3:12 pm

Maybe PAUSD is taking lessons from Stanford University on how to hide evidence and protect student athletes and then do cover-ups? For what it's worth, there was another rape at Stanford reported in today's paper and the police say it make take them years to get the records.


1 person likes this
Posted by Thomas
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 24, 2017 at 1:23 pm

How long is the Board going to allow Principal Diorio to continue to put our children at risk ? I remember Ken Dauber promising to protect our children. Where is he now?


Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Coach
a resident of Barron Park
on May 26, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Concerned Coach is a registered user.

This IMHO did not help any Web Link


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