News


Superintendent Max McGee resigns

Board to discuss interim supe appointment in closed session on Wednesday

After weeks of upheaval over senior school leadership's handling of two controversies -- a missed deadline that will cost the district up to $6 million in unbudgeted union pay increases and a student sexual-assault case at Palo Alto High School -- Superintendent Max McGee submitted his resignation Tuesday rather than retiring at the end of the school year as he had announced in June.

School board President Terry Godfrey announced McGee's resignation at the start of Tuesday's school board meeting after coming out of closed session. The board unanimously accepted his resignation, effective Friday, and approved his separation agreement, she said.

Sitting next to McGee at the dais, Godfrey read his letter of resignation to the board, on his behalf.

"For a host of personal reasons, I am offering my resignation effective at the close of business on Friday, Sept. 29," he wrote. "Blessed with a supportive community, a dedicated Board of Education, an extraordinarily capable and caring staff, and above all a student body that exemplifies excellence in character and achievement, I leave Palo Alto knowing the district will continue to thrive and I stand ready to provide whatever support the board, interim superintendent and/or next superintendent may need during this transition of leadership."

In his letter, McGee told the board that he's "confident" they will choose his successor "wisely and well knowing that our students, staff and community need and deserve the very best leader who will sustain all that is good, heal what is hurt and strengthen this outstanding school district."

Godfrey said the district will immediately work to appoint interim leadership. Two hours later, the district noticed a special closed-session meeting for Wednesday evening to discuss the appointment of an interim superintendent.

"We thank Dr. McGee for his years of hard work and for his many contributions to our district," Godfrey said. "His optimism, vision and vibrancy along with the innovative programs and practices he brought to our district will be a lasting legacy."

McGee did not speak himself until the very end of the meeting in the open "board operations" section. He lauded the teachers, staff and administrators in Palo Alto as "second to none," exemplified by principals he saw visiting classrooms and at community meetings this week and teachers in action at Palo Alto High School.

"We're going to have some problems here, but I have no doubt this staff, this board, this community can solve them," he said. "I'm really glad I chose this for my last superintendency and I mean that."

In spite of a Brown Act legal requirement that closed session actions be announced as soon as the meeting is reconvened in public, Godfrey said a copy of the separation agreement would not be available until Wednesday morning. She also did not state the terms of the agreement and whether McGee will receive any payment.

On Wednesday morning, she told the Weekly that the district had agreed to give McGee six month's pay (approximately $150,000) and health benefits through Dec. 31. McGee will also turn back to the district the title of a home he bought in August, 2015 with an interest-free $1.5 million loan the district provided, she said.

The district posted the agreement online later Wednesday morning.

After the announcement on Tuesday night, the board unanimously waived its two-meeting rule and authorized Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Karen Hendricks to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to find a consulting firm to lead the replacement search process.

Several parents and staff members thanked McGee for making tangible progress in the district over the last three years — particularly his support for minority and low-income students — and expressed regret for his sudden departure.

"I feel that in my years in the district here … parents who have a focus on equity and fairness for all children just have not had a better friend in the district than Dr. McGee," said parent Kim Bomar, co-chair for Parent Advocates for Student Success, which supports minority and low-income students and families. "We're losing a huge advocate and resource."

Parent Mary Vincent said in her many years of advocating for special-education families in Palo Alto, McGee was the first superintendent "who wanted to hear our families' stories" and instilled in his staff to do the same.

Vincent and others also credited McGee for overseeing changes such as a new block schedule at Gunn High School, improved counseling services, a renewed focus on mental health and high-quality new hires at the district.

Gunn senior Advait Arun, the school's student board representative, told McGee he "made a real impact on us and our schools" and said he hopes "the next superintendent will be as visionary and as qualified."

Meb Steiner, president of the classified employees' union, told the board that "to say that I am disappointed that Dr. McGee has had to tender his resignation would be an understatement."

She thanked him for his open, collaborative leadership style and for a "very gracious resignation letter, both in tone and word — a letter urging healing and the confidence of a bright future for our district."

She urged the same, describing the recent upheaval as feeling "as if I've fallen down the rabbit hole and landed in the Queen of Heart's garden.

"There are calls for 'off with this head' and 'off with that head' ... this is incredibly disheartening and demoralizing and the worst kind of role model for our kids," Steiner said. "This is not us. This is not the district I have known; this is not the district I want us to be. It does not help us to move forward or to address our problems together."

Teri Baldwin, president of the teachers union, told the board through tears that she hopes they "have a plan to move on in a positive way because it hasn't been positive here."

Parents also asked the board for a concrete transition plan.

"My request is to make sure (in) the next eight, nine months that we don't see a rudderless ship," Vincent said.

The school board will meet in closed session on Wednesday from 9-10 p.m. at the district office to discuss the appointment of an interim superintendent.

McGee's resignation comes after a rocky start to the new school year and a series of closed-session evaluations conducted by the Board of Education, most recently related to the district’s failure to reopen contract negotiations with its unions and missteps in responding to a female Paly freshman who said she was sexually assaulted in a campus bathroom last year.

In the midst of those closed-session meetings, two school board members -- Vice President Ken Dauber and Trustee Todd Collins -- publicly called for McGee's removal, with Dauber stating that "our students would be best served by a change in leadership as soon as possible."

Tuesday's announcement indicates that perhaps one or more other board members since decided to support McGee's early termination, leading to his decision to instead resign. None of the other three board members have yet to make public statements on their positions.

In recent weeks, some parents have also called for new leadership at the top while some administrators who belong to the Palo Alto Management Association, which represents 75 district administrators, principals and school psychologists, came to McGee's defense, indicating in a survey conducted by the group that his early departure would be "detrimental" to the district.

McGee announced earlier this year that he would retire when his contract ended in 2018, bringing an end to a 45-year career in education, the last three in Palo Alto. That announcement also came after a series of closed-session performance evaluations the board conducted in the wake of community uproar over the district's response to reports of sexual violence at Paly.

McGee's annual compensation is $315,918, including a $750 per-month car allowance. He opted not to take a 3 percent raise provided in his contract for this school year. Coincidentally, on Tuesday night the school board retroactively approved McGee’s raises from 2015 and 2016 because it had failed to take a public vote on them, as required by law.

McGee came to the district in 2014 as an outside hire with a long career in Illinois, described by many as an educator with penchant for entrepreneurship and high-level vision but scattered attention to detail. This description came to bear in his years in the Palo Alto school district, where his tenure has been marked by both accomplishments and missteps.

Parent-advocates have said McGee helped bring issues that affect minority and low-income students and special-education students and families to the forefront in a way that hasn’t been done before in this district, though much work remains to be done for both populations. One of his first actions as superintendent was to create the Minority Achievement and Talent Development committee, which tackled thorny, persistent issues of racial and socio-economic inequity and unconscious bias in the district. This initiative "is still bearing fruit" for students and families, Bomar said Tuesday night.

In an effort to deliver on an early pledge to be an accessible and transparent leader, McGee has provided community updates in monthly videos produced by students and started hosting live online webinars about pressing issues to increase access and transparency beyond in-person school board meetings. He’s a frequent presence on school campuses and after-hours school events. This year, he started hosting on-campus office hours at schools. He also launched a Twitter account and set a goal for himself of posting at least one photo each day of on-the-ground happenings.

One year in as superintendent, McGee launched a passion project -- a research program for high schoolers that has since grown in size and popularity. The Advanced Authentic Research program, or AAR, connects high school students with mentors to conduct in-depth research projects on everything from computational chemistry to psychological and sociological inquiries. (He served as a mentor himself for groups of students the last two years.)

He was at the helm for a series of major events over the last three years, including the district's first-ever multi-year teachers contract; a student suicide cluster that renewed conversations about academic pressure and youth mental health; and the resolution of a yearslong federal investigation into violations of anti-discrimination law Title IX in several cases at both high schools.

Several controversies have marred McGee’s time in Palo Alto. Most recently, he has been criticized for his lack of oversight in two issues: the recently discovered union-contract error and Paly sexual-assault case.

Just before the new school year started in August, the district realized that senior leadership had missed a critical deadline in its union contracts: to formally reopen negotiations by March 15 given that property-tax revenue had come in below a certain level. This will cost the district $6 million in unbudgeted raises and bonuses for its teaching and classified staff.

The contractual mistake -- first described by McGee as a "misunderstanding," then later an "error" -- followed last summer’s underestimation of property-tax projections, which resulted in an ongoing, multimillion dollar budget shortfall that has consumed much of the school board’s and staff’s attention for the last year.

And last week, two attorneys from a law firm brought in to investigate the district’s response to the 2016 sexual-assault report at Paly said McGee "failed to exercise sufficient oversight of the district's compliance responsibilities under Title IX, state law and Board policy."

The lawyers' report, presented publicly last week, detailed district and Paly administrators’ repeated failure to uphold policy and law -- a déjà-vu moment for many of the same Title IX issues that plagued McGee’s predecessor, Kevin Skelly.

Related content:

District to pay McGee about $150K in severance deal

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Comments

122 people like this
Posted by Finally...
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2017 at 7:15 pm

This is long overdue. What about the other administrators that were part of this cover-up?

PAUSD needs a housecleaning and a not a 'refresh' of the current culture that is CYA and secrecy centered, but a brand new culture that is student and parent centered.

The school board needs to contract with a different search firm and get one instead that is a professional firm that does placements for the C-level positions in the Silicon Valley and Fortune 500 firms such as Heidrick & Struggles.




210 people like this
Posted by Here we go again
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 26, 2017 at 7:43 pm

Our city once again has driven out yet another administrator. We are clearly going to fire our way to success. It's worked so well over the last two decades, why stop now?

God help Max's successor. And let's hope she/he chooses to stick around for more than three years. Because at the rate our community is moving, no administrator in their right mind would plan on spending more than 3 years here.

[Portion removed.]


37 people like this
Posted by PA
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 26, 2017 at 7:53 pm

Good riddance!


146 people like this
Posted by Gunn High School Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 26, 2017 at 7:59 pm

Dr McGee will be missed. He is a great visionary and an extremely kind human being. Despite his shortcomings, I respect him tremendously knowing he strives to do the right things for the student and the community.


18 people like this
Posted by For Healthier High Schools
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 26, 2017 at 7:59 pm

I'm always concerned that "personal reasons" (as Mr. McGee cited) might include ill health, family struggles, or other serious life problems--and such things I do not wish on him or indeed on anyone. I hope he is well.

As for the board, I hope they will take adequate time, and not feel rushed in their selection of Mr. McGee's replacement. Let's find someone wise, thoughtful, more focused on substance than style, a genuinely good listener, and above all else--now that we have lost a twelfth teen to self-inflicted death--sensitive to the lives and feelings of our high-schoolers.

Marc Vincenti
Save the 2,008--For Healthier High Schools
savethe2008.com


93 people like this
Posted by Stop the insanity
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 26, 2017 at 8:00 pm

This constant turn-over is maddening. Last Thursday someone said we had 7 principals in 15 or 20 years???

It's time to acknowledge that we aren't having an incredibly bad spate of hiring luck. This is a problem with us. Why do we have to keep chasing these people out?!?!

And who is this minority that is stirring the pot? I'm guessing the homeless looking guy in sweats is one of them? And the former tennis player? They are the two at every meeting. Are they parents or just muckrakers?

God help our children.


49 people like this
Posted by cvvhrn
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 26, 2017 at 8:01 pm

Top rated schools my butt. Seriously for all the accolades the PAUSD is a nightmare for parents and embarrassment for the community.

Federal investigations
Sexual harassment
Predatory teachers
Suicides (granted parents share the blame)

I'm praying our child survives the next 4 years.


17 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 26, 2017 at 8:08 pm

I hope the next person who steps in has a SOUL... This is such a disgrace to are city. They have let are kids and us Parents down. [Portion removed.]


60 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2017 at 8:14 pm

Max was out of his depth from the very beginning. He had not done his homework before coming here, even to the extent of not being prepared for the amount of money it would cost him to buy a home! I tend to think that he came here thinking this was going to be a high performing district which would be easy to lead as an easy ride to his ultimate retirement.

I strongly urge that the next superintendent will be chosen from Silicon Valley or at least the Bay Area.


12 people like this
Posted by Two more to go
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 26, 2017 at 8:20 pm

[Post removed.]


49 people like this
Posted by Student
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 26, 2017 at 8:22 pm

I too hope that hope all is well, and "personal issues" are just referring to the recent chaos. He has definitely messed up, but at heart Max McGee is a good person.

Dr. McGee has alluded to it, many of the previous commenters have mentioned it - we need to be thoughtful about our next selection of superintendent so that we don't have so much turnover.

In my opinion this means all of the people going after the district right now need to step back and think about what actions will actually produce the best long term outcome. I believe getting rid of even more people (McGee, Wade and Bowers are all gone) will just create further instability.

Let's instead focus the energy on finding a superintendent that is detail oriented, motivated to bring stability to PAUSD, willing to address the tough problems. The way I see it, community support is what is going to make or break this next superintendent selection.


11 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2017 at 8:24 pm

For those concerned about turnover in the District at the Superintendent level is between 3.2 and 4.5 years.

And as for high school principals--the average tenure is 4-5 years.

Lots of reasons for short tenures. Parents and kids are generally the reason to look for another job.


162 people like this
Posted by Gunn Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 26, 2017 at 8:27 pm

How did we come to such a huge landmark resignation? A perfectly good superintendent, leaving at the end of the year anyways, has resigned early due to all the finger pointing and toxic environment of Palo Alto. There is no denying that Palo Alto, and by extension Max McGee messed up. Yet all we seem to want is to pile more logs onto a fire. By the time we instate an interim Superintendent, start searching for a new one, and finally settle down with the new Superintendent, Max McGee's original resignation date will have come and gone. We all want change, change, and more change, but adding chaos to a chaotic situation is almost like a death wish. Max McGee was a great Superintendent, and the next person will have big shoes to fill into. Good luck to the person after Max McGee; when he fails to meet Palo Alto's standards of "perfection", will you all want him to step down to? Did we make a mistake again? Or maybe you can take some of the blame and realize that it is your fault, the community's fault, for the lack of stability in Palo Alto. Nothing can live up to our fickle standards right? And if Max McGee can't, nobody can.


31 people like this
Posted by Don't forget Callan!
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Sep 26, 2017 at 8:30 pm

Remember how "we" got rid of Mary Frances Callan, the last boogeyman superintendent? That was mostly the principals who were having a temper tantrum with being told what to do, just like the teachers had with various principals. What goes around! That and several of our parents here signed a petition urging the board to "listen" to the principals, code for fire Callan! McGee is long overdue to leave. It's not all his fault, Kevin Skelly is still to blame for seven of the most painfully ineffective years as superintendent, and look where he is now: in another district as superintendent. McGee is the original Skelly. He tried, but in the end, he focused on cheerleading instead of leading. There are so many good admninistrators out there who would jump at the chance for more money and prestige, but the board has to choose someone not based on the glare of an Ivy League degree or a bunch of fake awards. Pick a superintendent who is dedicated to student safety and achievement. It's pretty simple.


36 people like this
Posted by Carl
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 26, 2017 at 8:33 pm

I hope the separation agreement does not include rights to a pension for his time in Palo Alto. It's a sweet deal if you can resign and still retain all your benefits. When I read the article before he was hired that indicated 10 plus folks from Palo Alto were going to Illinois to interview him and talk to the folks he worked with I knew that process was hopeless (everyone assumes someone else was asking the serious questions) and so it has turned out to be. No surprise. Also, a complete waste of school funds.


72 people like this
Posted by The Board is Lazy
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 26, 2017 at 8:44 pm

To Mr Horowitz who just spoke... he hit the nail on the head.

The Board is lazy. This is a hobby for them. Some have quite demanding jobs. It's easier for them to hire consultants. Or fire people and then hire consultants to hire replacements. Rather than spend their time digging in and working on things.

So it's no surprise we wind up in these situations. Follow the path of least resistance.

I'm embarrassed for our city. Thank you Max.


55 people like this
Posted by JLS parent
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 26, 2017 at 8:46 pm

I doubt we will ever be able to keep a superintendent in this district long enough. Very disappointed.


37 people like this
Posted by More than one school
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 26, 2017 at 8:46 pm

@Student:

Although I agree with most of your various comments, I also think it's important to note keeping poor/low performing employees (or employees who violated a federal requirement) will not stabilize the current situation/ environment.

You mentioned McGee, Wade, and Bowers are gone. Keeping other employees who exercised poor judgment in this fiasco, doesn't stabilize anything. All it does is allow them to (potentially) exercise poor judgment with other kids.

I think in order to stabilize, you need to get rid of all the bad apples in a reasonable time frame (because you can't pull them ALL out at once).


28 people like this
Posted by Don't let the door hit you in your backside
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 26, 2017 at 8:49 pm

[Portion removed.] Now we have some sort of golden "separation agreement" which I am sure is part of his original contract that gives him some sort of..well...parachute.
I also hope the board doesn't think their work is done here. I expect a level of stepping it up for the principals and Assistant principals (who are now principals) in managing these people out of their jobs and out of the district.
As for the Super of the future, I do hope that we have the foresight to hire a non nonsense kind of administrator who has the capacity of putting students first in all ways. I put emphasis on "administrator" because that is what this district needs. An Administrator to level set expectations of us (the crazy parents of Palo Alto), and the teachers (to continue to have empathy and serve ALL our students in the best way possible).
We must use this opportunity to look at ourselves in the mirror, all of us, and embrace the warts and beauty marks and find an administrator who sees the best and worst in us and helps bring this community together, for our children.


119 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 26, 2017 at 8:49 pm

Let's remember what happened here:

--Financial mismanagement: He needlessly cost the school district $6 million in extra teacher pay increases. That's an extra $500 in costs this year for every student in the district. Imagine what schools could do with an extra $500 per student. Expanded enrichment programs. New books and equipment. Capital improvements. In the corporate world, that kind of idiocy gets you fired. I can't believe the board let the $6 million man survive this long.

--Mishandling sexual assault: The district with Max at the helm completely mishandled a clear case of sexual assault. Go read the details of what happened. What he did was borderline criminal. A young girl was sexually attacked in a Palo Alto High School bathroom. And he screwed up the investigation.

Either of these things are firing offenses.


104 people like this
Posted by OLIVER
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 26, 2017 at 8:53 pm

It’s time for the board members to resign too.


73 people like this
Posted by Another Gunn Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 26, 2017 at 9:10 pm

PAUSD needs superman or Jesus to be superintendent.


106 people like this
Posted by Former Paly, Jordan, etc. parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 26, 2017 at 9:15 pm

I don't know Dr. McGee personally but from watching school board meetings, etc. he seems like a highly competent, experienced, and very caring administrator. I agree with previous commenters who called out Palo Alto residents themselves--at least the incessant, destructive finger pointers--as PAUSD's root problem. I can think of no more thankless and ridiculously brutal job than a position within school administration in this town. Who could ever meet the expectations of all the perfect finger-pointing parents (and non-parents) who of course could do a much better job than all the professionals we've ousted over the past several years? Nobody could. [Portion removed.] In any organization, when manager after manager is fired or resigns from a given position in relatively quick succession it's time to start considering that the problem is the organizational context, not the individual employees. We have the dysfunction we deserve, Palo Alto. Best of luck to Dr. McGee (and Dr. Skelly, and... etc...) I feel sorry in advance for the poor person we hire next. But maybe we'll finally find someone who "cares about the students and their safety" and all will go fine. Yeah.


19 people like this
Posted by Don't forget Callan!
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Sep 26, 2017 at 9:15 pm

We do NOT need superman, we need an Everyman or Everywoman who is not in love with their own image, and is focused on our kids. Some posters sound like the Chicken Littles when many of us called for the end of the Kevin Skelly reign, and guess what, we found Glenn McGee and you were happy. Let's go out again, throw around the $1,000,000 contract, and I am sure they will come running.


64 people like this
Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 26, 2017 at 9:38 pm

@Paly Parent:
What happened at Paly is under the Principal's watch--Diorio is more culpable. Unfortunately, I don't think the Board has the courage to hold her accountable.


43 people like this
Posted by More than one school
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 26, 2017 at 9:47 pm

@Paly parent:

Agree re: culpability. McGee should hold Diorio accountable as his final act of contrition before Friday.


74 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 26, 2017 at 9:52 pm

Dr. McGee

Thank you for your service,

Best wishes to you and your loved ones.

Respectfully


32 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 26, 2017 at 10:01 pm

Take care Max. Enjoy your retirement.


67 people like this
Posted by WhyBlameParents
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2017 at 10:13 pm

While a lot of comments send Max their best wishes, they seem to go along with the tone of "blame the angry parents".

But keep in mind the angry parents are angry for a reason: $6M wasted, and our children mistreated.

Max was definitely responsible, and I am glad the board held him accountable. But he wasn't alone.

Let's not forget who else was responsible: his staff.

The teachers, principals, assistant principals, and district staff were the ones who screwed up in both the money problems and the mishandling of sexual assault. While Max is taking the fall, I don't feel it was entirely his fault.

There are more firings go happen before we reach the bottom of the cesspool of misbehavior in this district. The last thing we should do is bring in a new superintendent and place him on top of the rotten foundation of our broken schools.

Keep firing. You haven't reached the bottom of the rot yet...


94 people like this
Posted by WhyBlameParents
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2017 at 10:25 pm

"...Teri Baldwin, president of the teachers union, told the board through tears that she hopes they "have a plan to move on in a positive way because it hasn't been positive here."


Why was Teri crying? She could have easily offered Max a re-negotiate on the $6M. It's not like she was unaware the district was planning on that money. It's not like she was unaware that the community was against this underhanded money grab.


And regarding the mishandling of the sexual assault cases (for 4 years) Teri could have demanded better training for staff. She could have demanded clarity on policy (although it was actually written and clear). She could have demanded the district better support the teachers in understanding their responsibility under OCR.

In fact, it goes back to the Schoology incident, the zero period, any number of issues that the community wanted that Teri fought against Max.

Why crying? There were no lack of opportunities for Teri to help support Max and staff to do the right thing. I had always assumed she wanted to throw Max under the bus.


43 people like this
Posted by Calm down
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 26, 2017 at 10:37 pm

$6m “wasted”?

It did go to teachers. The ones who can’t afford to live in the area and have to commute in.

It is shocking how under funded our school system is in Palo Alto of all places. Prop 13 and all, what crap. We have to PIE to get classroom aides? And science etc?


24 people like this
Posted by Finally...
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2017 at 10:46 pm

There needs to be a massive cleaning house and change in culture.

Unfortunately, mistreating students and parents is like a blood sport for many at PAUSD, i.e. a category of sport or entertainment that involves the mistreatment of students and parents for the pleasure of the spectators on staff including the attorneys, administrators, and teachers.

This became more pronounced when Mary Frances Callan moved to PAUSD and brought Lozano Smith with her. Sometimes I wonder if they celebrate the students that parents remove from the District and declare victory each time it happens.

The sick and twisted culture needs to end.


29 people like this
Posted by Wish U Well Anyway
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2017 at 11:08 pm

"The last thing we should do is bring in a new superintendent and place him on top of the rotten foundation of our broken schools."

Agreed. The last board did that to Max, and while I don't absolve him, especially of the secrecy that contributed to the problems festering, I think he really stepped in it. The best thing he did for us was get rid of B Carrillo, Holly Wade, Charles Young -- too bad we still have Mak, Golton, and Sheridan. With so many of the old guard left and no effort to bring about change, they are likely to spoil the new bunch. I hope the board finds someone who is not afraid of truth.

Too bad McGee did not have his onsite office hours at the start of his tenure.

I too hope the resignation is not for health or personal tragedy. It's really too bad we did not clean up our house before hiring him, this could have been a good partnership. To those who keep blaming the families here, look in the mirror, you are the problem. As long as there is a contingent to entrench the CYA culture, we will continue to have problems. There will always be problems to solve in a district. Coverup makes things fester.


48 people like this
Posted by Just Checking
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 26, 2017 at 11:13 pm

Sooo... What we need from a new super is to be a highly competent CEO, wealthy enough to buy a house in the district, have relevant training and experience in education and/or related fields, to be an inspiring leader with a plan to address the specific needs of PAUSD. And this person should do all this for $350K a year and have the job held at the mercy of the first pissed off parent to show at a board meeting.

What accomplished millionaire would say no to such a sweet deal?! Grab the latest Forbes list and ring them up, I'm sure they'll all return the calls. *Guaranteed*!!


62 people like this
Posted by PAUSD Parent
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Sep 26, 2017 at 11:31 pm

Not only am I a Paly alum, but my children have an age span of 10 years so I've been in PAUSD for a long time, as I have one left in the district, graduating soon. To those who are complaining about the turnovers, there has been a good reason for each of them, and it's not simple incompetence, although some have been. Palo Altans are an intellectual crowd, therefore, more outspoken. The claims of parents driving them out, well, there was only one (Duveneck principal) who was actually driven out, and now, perhaps, McGee (and we all see his outrageous errors). While other districts may (or may not) have less turnover, it's because the parents don't complain.

When I heard Max speak (amongst mostly senior citizens) when he was new to town, I knew we were doomed when he said, "The stress is due to the parents. What's wrong with being blue collar workers? My son is a plumber with a family and is quite happy. It's all the parents who are pushing their children too hard." Those who agree it's the parents have not likely experienced middle and high school in PAUSD within the last decade. Sure, there are the Tiger Parents, but there is also everyone else. I knew he wasn't going to address school stress. Instead, he promoted the students who excelled (creating a research program, etc.), for bragging rights. We need someone who sincerely cares about our students.

We need a superintendent from a public school who is knowledgeable with public school administrative practices and guidelines, not someone from a college prep school, as was McGee. People seem to forget that PAUSD is indeed a public school, and there are different levels of student aptitudes and goals. More specifically, most students are NOT intending on attending Ivy League or elite colleges. Most likely, any class taken in PAUSD (especially AP) is more rigorous than any public school class outside of the Bay Area.

Check the Paly College Map of last year: Web Link Not everyone is listed, but it shows that there are 15 going to UCB, 10 to Stanford, 8 to UCLA, and only 1-2 at most Ivy's and elites. This is from a class of approximately 500 students. Not everyone is trying to get into these colleges. Although, it's still stressful to get into the second-tier universities because of the PAUSD rigor and competition of students.

Palo Alto stats: Web Link

Education
Over 96.4% of Palo Alto residents aged 25 or over have received a high school diploma. (2016)
Close to 79.9% have obtained a bachelor’s degree and nearly 51.8% have earned a post-graduate or professional degree. (2016)

Please, Palo Alto, quit thinking that Ivy League degrees equate to great administrators. Too many Palo Altans blindly vote for the School Board members with Ivy League degrees. We need our public schools back. Rules on grade distribution (some only give 2 "A"s per class), homework caps for AP classes, mandatory teachers staying after school, etc. My children have found that their professors are superior to the AP teachers because they actually teach. AP shouldn't mean "figure it out yourself, you are smart, I don't need to teach." One AP teacher had the whole class confused with the complicated material. "You'll thank me when you are in college," he said, while he doled out "C" grades. Another tells students to use the buddy system so he doesn't have to help. It's fine to teach complex material, but no need to ruin their GPAs due to egos. Those who have money for tutors have an edge over those who can't pay for them. Our students shouldn't need tutors for regular lane classes, but they do, particularly in math and science. And no, I don't expect dumbed-down courses, but I do expect reasonable classes without so much excess homework, as this is a public school. Our students also need to study for the SAT and have extracurriculars for college applications. Most students are sleep-deprived.

Menlo-Atherton offers 6 classes per year for their students and their first class is at 8:45 (MWF) and 9:25 (T,Th). Those who want to take Zero Period can show up earlier (this is different than Gunn's 0 Period, where the students were taking 8 classes total). Why can't we follow that bell schedule? Our students are so sleep-deprived.


56 people like this
Posted by Jason P
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 27, 2017 at 12:03 am

Sad day. A good man and administrator run out by a town that can't be satisfied. Heaven help his successor.


79 people like this
Posted by Who Really Forced McGee's Out
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 27, 2017 at 12:09 am

1. The teacher's union who refused to re-negotiate the salary increase, even though they knew very well there is no budget for it

2. The principal who violated the Title IX law more than 30 times, and put our students in danger by allowing sexual assault convicted student to roam the campus.

3. Other incompetent staffs who mis-calculated budgets, who forgot to open negotiation, who did not supervise the Title IX compliance, and a lousy law firm that told the district no need to open UCP when our student was sexually assaulted!


60 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2017 at 12:16 am

The problem starts with the previous Board, and what they decided was important in their search for a Superintendent: someone who would make PAUSD into some uber magnet district with fancy enrichment programs at the high school level. At least one of the board members has a self interest in creating this "PAUSD" image.

So they hired Max, who focused his time on the research program for high school kids, taking trips abroad. He delegated everything else to a problematic staff, and never followed up on all the stuff he delegated; at best Max should have been hired as an Assistant Superintendent to develop these fancy pants programs, because he had no interest in managing the entire school district. And without a majority of the board interested in performing their oversight role, we have the multi-million dollar deficits, the willful disobedience of the law involving Title IX among other things. You know why Max wanted a multi-year contract with the unions? He wasn't interested and didn't want to spend his time each year negotiating with the unions.

And what the subordinates who played a role in creating these messes? One retired with a pension of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. The other left before the issues were investigated. Between the salary fiasco, and the multi-million dollar legal costs for not following the law, I figure Max & the two highly paid subordinates have cost the district over $9 million so far.

Just remember, we voted for this additional parcel tax, which was suppose to be used to fund smaller class sizes, mental health, etc. Were we played or what?

The board doesn't have a majority of members who want to focus on oversight, and proper management of the district. Remember last year, one of the Board Members ran for a 3rd term, saying the district needed her "experience" - her so called "experience" has cost the district heavily. Another member, always brings up her finance background - but look at the the large budget deficits the district has had to deal with. And a third member practically acts like a union member how she analyzes issues.

It will be a big mistake to let those three board members define the job search for the next Superintendent. The district needs an operational manager first, and foremost. Once the district is properly managed, and back on a firm financial basis, then the district should look for an Assistant Superintendent to develop some of the high school "enrichment" programs that the majority of the current board wants.


48 people like this
Posted by BP
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 27, 2017 at 2:03 am

Strongly agree with Common Sense.

Dauber and Collins definitely need to drive the hiring process, not the other 3 board members.

They should look only at local, northern CA candidates, with Public School experience. Stop bringing out of state people who have too long a learning curve.


29 people like this
Posted by Thanks MM
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 27, 2017 at 6:19 am

Thanks, Max. Best wishes for a peaceful and healthy retirement.


4 people like this
Posted by Yes BP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 27, 2017 at 7:22 am

[Post removed.]


34 people like this
Posted by MikeCrescentPark
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2017 at 7:31 am

Part of the legacy is $6 million in unbudgeted raises for teachers salaries. Simply because of a lack of timely notification as specified in the union qcontract.

So why doesn’t the teachers’ union acknowledge this technical mistake on the part of the school administration and rescind acceptance of this windfall that will otherwise place a major new financial burden on the school system?

It’s within their ability to do exactly that.


20 people like this
Posted by green gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2017 at 7:32 am

Palo Alto parents have ALWAYS been a tough audience, and I've lived here 50 years.

By the way, what is wrong with looking within California for a Superintendent. Why is it necessary to look across the country?


44 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 27, 2017 at 7:42 am

This community is so toxic no qualified candidate will even consider applying. It’s a death wish .


57 people like this
Posted by Marcie
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 27, 2017 at 8:55 am

I think it odd that the two union heads are so upset. They are half the reason for his resignation. If they had the guts to speak up about the loss of $6 million dollars from the district that went into their pockets, McGee probably would not have resigned. Shame on you union presidents!


67 people like this
Posted by Finally...
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2017 at 9:00 am

I didn't see school leaders or the union shed any tears for the actual victim here in public meetings, the victim of the sexual assault in the high school bathroom How twisted is it for the school employees to say that the community is toxic when in fact it is the school employees who are the toxic ones.

What is "toxic" is having district leaders have a perpetrator remain in school on campus for months after a girl is sexually assaulted in a bathroom by the perpetrator and reports it to administrators, then for the administrators to somehow mislabel the event as consensual (this makes no sense - if it was consensual, why did the girl report it in the first place?), and then after the perpetrator is found guilty in a very similar incident, the perpetrator still remains on campus.

Meanwhile, the parents have had to withdraw their child from the school to protect her and move her 100 miles away.

Diorio has to be terminated. It is absolutely appalling what the administrators did to this girl and her family. They tried to sweep it under the rug. And they would have it not for the sexual assault victim in the other bathroom off campus at a church and KTVU.

I hope the victim and the family soon files civil lawsuits against these administrators so that the proceeds can hopefully pay for millions of dollars of counseling this victim will need to somehow get over the horrible treatment she received at the hands of the district who were supposed to protect her. And not only did they fail miserably, but they tried to cover it up.


47 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2017 at 9:07 am

I'm sure he did many good things publicly and behind the scenes. But a $6mil. mistake, the annual budget/revenue miscalculation and the continued mishandling of sexual harassment matters are three huge issues that will take years to recover from. "The Buck Stops Here" comes to mind. My personal opinion is that he should have stepped up to fix and solve the problems that came about on his watch. I appreciate that there were probably some out there pushing for his resignation. But the true character of person is shown brightly when that person stands up, takes responsibility for the mistakes and then takes the steps to make it right.


33 people like this
Posted by McGee needed to go
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 27, 2017 at 9:09 am

McGee needed to go. This is not about "turnover" and "high maintenance parents". This is about sexual violence and the safety of our kids.
Max McGee [portion removed] mishandled the complaints of both the church victim and the school victim, allowing a convicted sex offender to stay at school and jeopardizing the safety of all of our students.
Again, this is an issue of RAPE CULTURE at PAUSD.


5 people like this
Posted by What is in Charge?
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 27, 2017 at 9:15 am

Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Netflix - the World Wide Web stops here. People don't count data rules the day.


19 people like this
Posted by Kudos
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 27, 2017 at 9:59 am

Kudos for the balanced reporting and for getting this story out so quickly.


9 people like this
Posted by nmao
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 27, 2017 at 10:00 am

State test scores were released today. Palo Alto got a special mention in the SJMN article on California's flatlining scores:
"In Palo Alto, where high scores fuel a roaring housing market, both math and English scores fell 3 points."


29 people like this
Posted by Sarah
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 27, 2017 at 10:23 am

So tough to work in the top positions in PAUSD, Max is gone, Jordan has a new principal every year for last 3 years.....

I hope most parents relax their strong minds, support the staffs instead of pushing them to the corners.

$6m is not wasted, they go to the teachers who are underpaid, hard to keep up with the high living standards here. For the affluent parents, please donate your money to the teachers & staff instead of building nice gym, concert hall, building. We need good teachers!

School board, they just know to point fingers. Any supports from them? They should RESIGN too.

At the end, I wish Dr. McGee and your family well. Enjoy life.


50 people like this
Posted by And so it goes
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 27, 2017 at 10:44 am

It's too bad that McGee is taking the fall for his staff members that failed miserably in their jobs. Of course he is ultimately responsible, but at some point a top leader needs to be able to rely on his direct reports, especially those that have been around a long time. In my opinion, the major culprit in the $6M screw-up is Scott Bowers, whose responsibility it was to manage the negotiations. How he gets to walk away from this is beyond me. With a Paly teacher for a wife, he clearly had a huge conflict of interest in his role, so perhaps McGee is ultimately to blame for trusting him to do his job, instead of removing him immediately when he came to Palo Alto. Bowers should bear financial responsibility for his mishandling of the union negotiations that have cost this district $6M+, which directly hurt our kids. Already a great program at Gunn, Small Learning Community, which is similar to Paly's TEAM and was growing to accommodate as many kids as wanted to enroll, was suddenly reduced over the summer. Kids that were told they would get in no problem were surprised and disappointed when they got their class schedules in August. I blame Scott Bowers directly.

Regarding the Title IX violations, Holly Wade was hired to do nothing but deal with the district's compliance, and she also failed miserably. But again, with all of the OCR investigations over the past several years, McGee should have been micro-managing her too.

I think McGee truly cared about students and he did some really good things (including trying to grow SLC at Gunn), but ultimately, we need a superintendent that is first and foremost a boss that is not afraid to fire people that are incompetent and/or corrupt. Sadly, we will likely not get someone that is both a strict boss and a caring human being for our students.

Best wishes for a happy retirement, Dr. McGee.


17 people like this
Posted by So confused
a resident of Southgate
on Sep 27, 2017 at 10:56 am

I am very confused. This story reports (I assume incorrectly) that the civil rights community defended McGee and lauded his performance on civil rights. Yet one of the primary reasons for his departure was that fact that he failed to enforce federal and state civil rights laws to protect a young lady of color from bullying and harassment following a sexual harassment incident in a bathroom by an athlete. Surely these civil rights advocates are not defending the piss-poor performance of a white man and his white administration that failed to take seriously the alleged sexual assault and total ignoring of all the federal and state civil rights laws intended to protect a girl of color?

Surely these civil rights leaders were down there to defend this girl, whose rights were violated, not the white man who violated them? What am I missing?

I must be reading this wrong. Weekly can you clarify?


8 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2017 at 11:18 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

@ So confused - On Mondays and Wednesdays the civil rights community includes white females, but the rest of the time it is just for blacks and hispanics. On leap years they include asians.


37 people like this
Posted by Educator
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 27, 2017 at 11:26 am

Two things can be equally true:
--McGee was in charge for at least two episodes of egregious leadership and obfuscation, both fire-able offenses, despite any of his other talents and policy wins.
--The Palo Alto community has a toxic mix of arrogance, entitlement, perceived specialness, and misplaced values, making this superintendency very difficult.


22 people like this
Posted by What am I missing?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 27, 2017 at 11:30 am

What am I missing?

Why is the board's indignation directed at Dr. McGee and not the Paly principal?

The sexual assault that happened in the Paly bathroom is almost identical to the Brock Turner case.

Three of our school board members have endorsed Ken Dauber's wife’s campaign which is working hard to make sure that the judge loses his job because he handed out an exceptionally "lite" sentence in the Turner sexual assault case. Web Link. .

Where are Collins', DiBrienza's, and Dauber's calls to recall the "judge" in the Paly case too?

Stanford U in Palo Alto –-- Paly HS in Palo Alto, 50’ from Stanford U

Brock Turner, star male athlete --- Paly Junior, star male athlete

Jane Doe, white female victim from Palo Alto who said she didn’t consent –-- Paly Freshman, minority female victim from East Palo Alto who said she didn’t consent

Forced sex act -- Forced sex act

Title IX --- Title IX

California Penal Code – California Penal Code

Convicted of a felony – Convicted of a felony

Stanford expelled the student -- Paly didn't

"Lite" sentencing recommendation -- "Lite" discipline recommendation on another matter

Judge is white and a former athlete who grew up in a wealthy community and attended a selective private university ---– Paly Principal is white and a former athlete who grew up in a wealthy community and attended a selective private university

Is the difference that the Paly victim is a minority student who lived in East Palo Alto, unlike the Brock Turner victim who is white and from Palo Alto?


19 people like this
Posted by Steve Dabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2017 at 11:30 am

The search for a replacement might also include a look at retired senior officers from Naval or Marine Corps training commands. These are individuals with experience in strong administration and discipline. They often have real records in boosting both performance and morale. Traits seemingly in short supply in a system that appears to suffer from chronic dysfunction.


18 people like this
Posted by Gunn Father
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 27, 2017 at 11:37 am

There comes a point where a leader is no longer capable of leading regardless of why. For this reason it was time for Max to go. Having said that, the chances we will find a better replacement are slim. I wish him all the best.


22 people like this
Posted by Moving forward...
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Moving forward... is a registered user.

I wish Dr. McGee the best. He accomplished some good things on the equity front, and I sincerely believe that his heart was in the right place. Nonetheless, his operations management weaknesses were a real problem. Now a decision has been made. Let's move forward and stop publicly lambasting a person who has resigned.

Let's support the search for a replacement. We need to encourage the board to hire a strong administrator to fill this important role at the helm of our valued public schools. Lashing out online will not be helpful toward that goal. Future candidates for the job will find their way to this thread. Let's be more constructive, please.

I hope the Board will look for operational strength in future candidates. I hope they will look for someone who has a track record of hiring and developing excellent staff--that includes training on policy requirements and tying policy adherence to job performance reviews. Openness to innovation is important, but in most districts that originates underneath the superintendent (and generally works best when it starts close to the classroom) and is encouraged by the superintendent. We need a superintendent who can capably handle the complex tasks associated with building and managing a very large staff, union issues, budget, and other resources attentively, daily--who can keep his staff on track moving toward existing goals and improvements that keep student learning and wellness at the center of all they do.

In fact, that is what any district needs. We are not so special in that regard. Let's stop kvetching and start being more constructive toward supporting efforts to identify and hire a strong (albeit imperfect, because no one is perfect) replacement.


21 people like this
Posted by Ah, relationships!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 27, 2017 at 12:48 pm

Imagine: you are in multiple serial relationships with people, as this community has been with its superintendents/principals/teachers/etc., and things keep going badly. You keep finding fault, it seems that nothing your partner does can quite make the grade, nothing they do is right, the newspaper keeps telling you that you got screwed over again and again, no matter who it is, what they've done or been accused of, what the actual facts are or what it's actually about in detail.

When this happens it's time for you to look seriously at the common denominator in each of these relationships, which is you. Time to look in the mirror, Palo Alto. A serious and sober self-reflection (a sort of moral inventory, you might say), may be called for in order to help understand why, each time, it seems to turn toxic and people leave.

The really, really sad part about this is that the ones who really suffer in the end are the kids.


5 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2017 at 1:00 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@What am I missing? - Since you are fixated on racial politics, the obvious thing you are missing in your analysis is the race of the juvenile perpetrator. Or maybe you are ignoring it because it doesn't fit your narrative.


2 people like this
Posted by I doubt it
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 27, 2017 at 1:27 pm

JA,

Are you saying that our School Board should be OK with the Paly principal having discipline outcomes that are race-dependent?

So white-on-white sexual violence is very bad (Brock Turner, lite discipline --> recall the judge) but minority-on-minority sexual violence isn't (Paly, no discipline --> keep the principal)?

Is that in a board policy? California law? Federal law?

I doubt it.

Web Link


39 people like this
Posted by The truth
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 27, 2017 at 1:33 pm

The truth is that PAUSD has never been perfect but every since Dauber and now Collins have come along things that could have been handled quickly and without huge fan fare, problem then solution theory, are now handled like every thing is the end of PAUSD and huge changes need to be made. PAUSD has always had its issues but since Dauber showed up things have really, really been out of control because with him around employees at high levels walking around on egg shells.

Of course huge changes need to be made in Daubers eyes because he works for Google and is on their payroll and Google's whole goal is to destroy public education as we know it and have Google schools with Google Robots and Computers teaching the kids. Less money needed, less teachers needed and huge money for Google.

Dauber is changing Palo Alto Schools for the worse and is doing it in the wide open while working for Google.

Dauber = Google taking over education like they are taking over everything in U.S.


11 people like this
Posted by Wish U Well Anyway
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2017 at 1:34 pm

@Ah relationships,
[Portion removed.] We are not talking about a relationship, we are talking about a dysfunctional organization. With people [portion removed] who want to point fingers instead of fixing the problems with the organization, nothing will change, as predictably, it did not before.

When McGee came, he was plopped in the middle of an organization with people who engaged in full-throttle CYA and no accountability, and that really did not change. [Portion removed.]


23 people like this
Posted by Tinfoil hats in aisle 3
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2017 at 1:37 pm

Google robots teaching kids. Manchurian board member. Excellent entertainment for the middle of the work day, thank you!


14 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2017 at 1:40 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@I doubt it - Of course the Paly principal should be fired. She is the classic liberal with good intentions gone awry, protecting the criminal, and punishing the victim. Her decision wasn't informed by the facts or justice, but racial politics.


14 people like this
Posted by With U Well Anyway
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2017 at 2:05 pm

@Steve Dabrowski,
That is a really interesting suggestion. I would go one further, though.

I think Palo Alto has suffered all the negatives of its strictly hierarchical organizational structure, when a school district really is conceived as a structure to allow community control of schools. Not exactly a flat structural model, or a "starfish" organization, but it should be closer than to a strictly hierarchical structure, in which it's too easy for employees to make decisions for their own departments at the expense of the organization or those they should serve.

When the district over and over again demonstrates that employees not only don't follow the most basic protective procedures and laws, but that employees also deliberately engage in avoiding the discussion of or the extension of the most basic protections and laws to families, that they maintain an adversarial rather than collaborative relationship with families, it demonstrates that the organizational structure is wrong for the community's purpose. This is not about this individual or that individual employee or leader, although it is to the extent that existing employees holdover corrupt organizational practices when some leave if the organization is not changed. And if there is no attempt at truth and reconciliation from past wrongs, the incentives remain to repeat the corrupt behavior rather than change.

On another thread, a teacher wrote movingly about how they have the students' best interests at heart, and they mean well, but seemed not to understand the old maxim: The Road to Hell is Paved With Good Intentions. School districts as entities exist to enable local rather than state or other distant control of schools. That's why they exist at all. The reason there are rules and procedures are because the school district exists to serve students and families, and they have needs and rights that cannot always be well-served by completely hierarchical dictates -- or even a bunch of well-meaning teachers of their own accord. The procedures, rules and rights allow families to both correct a problem for an individual child, but also in so doing, help steer the organization on the right path. If the population is never allowed to course correct, the organization ultimately ending in the wrong direction and even crashing and burning because the people at the top become insular, which we had in abundance here.

People in the community don't want to complain, they want the organization to work well. That will not happen just from bringing in another superintendent, the organizational dysfunction as well as the cost to trust it has wrought, must be addressed, or the next superintendent is also doomed to a failed tenure. There are other, as yet unaddressed problems just like the Title IX, that we can let turn into further festering wounds from the past, or that we can finally address along with creating a better-functioning organization.

Maybe a military person would be a good choice -- I certainly have never seen the advantage of an advanced degree in education (not once, ever). But that person would need to be someone coming from the kind of military organization engaged in high-risk high-problem but very low-accident-or-negative-event activity, such as someone who understands the way organizations on aircraft carriers work, for example. These are closer to starfish organizations than strictly hierarchical ones. A well-functioning district is a service organization that incorporates the reality that families are entitled by law to certain rights that allow them to have some say and control when things go wrong for their children, and must have the ability to enforce those rights and help everyone do the right thing as needed when employees or the organization goes off the rails. If the organization is instead set up to relentlessly ignore or thwart those rights, and denigrate or even retaliate against families for exercising them, well, you get what we've just witnessed here.

It's really not fair to plop another superintendent into the middle of that again, unless we specifically charge the superintendent with changing the organization. The board and the community really have the right and responsibility to make that change first.


18 people like this
Posted by With U Well Anyway
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2017 at 2:22 pm

@WhyBlameParents,
"But keep in mind the angry parents are angry for a reason: $6M wasted, and our children mistreated."

In direct opposition to the usual mob mentality torching "the parents" like they are the bogeyman, I have really seen the opposite. Parents here have been some of the most giving, patient, intelligent people I have seen anywhere. Compared to where I went to school, they are saints.

In our own situation, we could have sued the district into oblivion, and I don't think the district people understood that we had/have rock solid paper evidence without needing the records requests they never ever filled (in fact, their scheming to avoid complying with records laws only created a bigger pile of evidence against them). We instead gave Max lots of leeway and forbearance. We never sued, never even threatened to sue, though I doubt that's what the retaliatory admins we dealt with told the teachers.

I can think of more than 10 families offhand who could have also sued, but instead took their children out of the district or even moved away. They could have justifiably made life hell for Max and ruined some employees who probably shouldn't be working in schools anyway, but they instead stepped away and gave Max breathing room, for all the good it did. You give 'em an inch and they take a mile, as they say (and step up the retaliation when it's clear you won't sue).

I think the turnovers are an opportunity and wish Max well. I think if we had cleaned our house, it could have been a great partnership with him. Instead, we expected him to clean up even though we weren't willing to support anything more than further sweeping under the rug.


18 people like this
Posted by YT common
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 27, 2017 at 2:22 pm

Thank you for Dr. McGee. You are a mentor for Gunn's high school research program. Some of them could travel to abroad in this summer and received the awards. Dr. McGee knows science subject to be able to become a mentor in such a program.


33 people like this
Posted by Triggered Dad
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 27, 2017 at 2:46 pm

Dr. Denise Herrmann for PAUSD Superintedent


2 people like this
Posted by Publius
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 27, 2017 at 3:35 pm

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by Yuck
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 27, 2017 at 3:57 pm

[Portion removed.]

If you were a potential candidate for superintendent, you would read this post. Dr. McGee is called all kinds of things here, as are his predecessors. No matter how talented you were, why would you take this job when there are all kinds of other options? [Portion removed.]


27 people like this
Posted by Management By Twitter (MBT) does not cut it...
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2017 at 4:24 pm

The culture at PAUSD is not going to be fixed by any management person such as a superintendent acting like a publicist going around doing smiling photo ops and posting them on Twitter ex: Web Link

Fixing the culture requires commitment, not photo ops.

In many private sector companies, the closest competitor is the 'enemy' the company rallies around to defeat. In some companies, there are wars between departments such as sales vs. R&D, sales vs consulting, etc.

However with PAUSD, with the corrosive culture at PAUSD where the parents and children are thought of as the adversary/enemy and attorneys are out to maximize their billable hours, the underlying problem is there is certainly not a focus on the customer (e.g., the students and parents), but an all out war against the customer (e.g., the students and parents).

The type of work that needs to be done by a superintendent is nuanced and detailed and the bottom line is that the superintendent needs to ensure that the staff is following the law, and not purposefully dropping the ball or in a constant state of pitched battles against students and parents.


2 people like this
Posted by The Federal Farmer
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Sep 27, 2017 at 5:41 pm

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by GraceBrown
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2017 at 6:08 pm

GraceBrown is a registered user.

@what am I missing

The Stanford student was an adult (over eighteen), and a student at a private school. The Palo Alto High School student was a minor in a public school. The law categorizes these individuals differently, and consequently treats them differently. The protections, responsibilities, and consequences each face differ as the result of their categories/classifications.

Public K-12 schools are required to educate ALL minor students; private post-secondary universities, well, not so much.

I wonder if your beef isn't actually with the juvenile justice system that placed the minor back in a public school setting - conflicting priorities, yes?


18 people like this
Posted by Management By Twitter (MBT) does not cut it...
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2017 at 6:45 pm

The PA Weekly needs to do more digging to determine the CYA culture that resulted in this situation occurring. Also, why was the student not moved to a different school setting in the continuum of placement options in PAUSD, or the continuation school, or other settings such as a non-public school placement (NPS).

First, Holly Wade was the previous Special Education director. For some reason, she was put it charge of Title IX. Given she is the one that I understand failed to initiate the UCP process, I wonder whether one of the underlying reasons is that the UCP investigation may have brought the Special Education department as a whole under investigation.

This is Holly Wade -
Web Link

Why PAUSD ever appointed a Special Ed Director, the head of a department that historically has been in constant litigation with parents and with a track record of failing to protect students from bullying, to be a Title IX officer is first of all, beyond my comprehension.

One possible theory is that a UCP process would have clearly shown flaws in the Special Ed function. Perhaps that is why no UCP process was started by staff.

Also, from what I know, if there is a major behavior issue and a proposed change of educational setting for a Special Education student, I had thought that Federal law required an IEP meeting to be held, yes? And this is true for an expulsion for a student with an IEP, yes?

So if for example, if the perpetrator had an IEP and the school system was aware of years of impulsiveness, lack of executive functioning skills, behavioral issues but did nothing about it, this would go right back to the failings of the Special Education department.

If the perpetrator had many of these issues and had never had a formal assessment by the Special Education department or had a formal assessment and was denied services, then again this then points back to the failings of the Special Education department.

The bottom line is that I would not be surprised if the issues go much deeper than "we didn't have Title IX training" or similar lame excuses.


7 people like this
Posted by Management By Twitter (MBT) does not cut it...
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2017 at 7:05 pm

Here is the FFF document (used to be the Special Ed law firm for PAUSD) for expulsion and suspension. Expulsion is mandatory for:

• Committing or attempting to commit a sexual assault or committing sexual battery

Web Link

That is why the re-casting of the offense as something else is very puzzling in this situation.


27 people like this
Posted by No clue
a resident of another community
on Sep 27, 2017 at 7:17 pm

Am sorry to say that parents are rhe problem in the PAUSD. Most parents are supportive, but some take it upon themselves to chastise anyone who they feel has done their child a disservice. Please remember that their are thousands of students in the district, and if you want a private education for your child, by all means go ahead and pay for it. You most likely have the means to do so


9 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Sep 27, 2017 at 7:54 pm

Why is there no campaign to recall the school board members who selected this clown?


18 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2017 at 7:56 pm

> It is shocking how under funded our school system is in Palo Alto of all places

The 2016-17 operating expense budget is about $230M which comes to about $19,000 per student. The District also has issued about 70% of the $390M Measure A bonds--with that money being spent on capital projects for the schools. These expenditures add hundreds of additional expenditure dollars when those capital projects are added to the operating budget.

How in the world can anyone in their right mind can claim that the school district is underfunded when the taxpayers are spending about $20,000 per student?



13 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2017 at 8:34 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@GraceBrown - "Public K-12 schools are required to educate ALL minor students"

Not only is expulsion legal, it is the recommended sanction for committing or attempting to commit sexual assault or sexual battery in California. The expelled student retains the right to an education, but not at the campus where the crime was committed.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 27, 2017 at 9:35 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by GraceBrown
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2017 at 9:45 pm

GraceBrown is a registered user.

@john_alderman

I don't disagree with your post - we likely share the same understanding of the proper and correct legal obligations that all K-12 public schools hold in educating minors. Under our laws, consideration and if warranted, special placement is provided all children according to their unique status.

My earlier point, directed @ what am I missing, spoke to the critical differences in how the law treats these two separate cases: one an adult attending a private post-secondary university and the other, a minor, attending a public high school.

The ONLY two characteristics that these two cases share - both offenders are male, and both victims are female.

It would be an error to call me an apologist.


22 people like this
Posted by Gunn teacher
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 27, 2017 at 10:17 pm

Bring back Hermann please! Admin Sycophant for teacher's union is not what we need! Replicants!


3 people like this
Posted by Wish U Well Anyway
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2017 at 10:49 pm

@Yuck
"No matter how talented you were, why would you take this job when there are all kinds of other options?"

Are you aware that
a) problems with Skelley went on for years before he left, and TS commentary was way more critical, including even far nastier and aggressive parent bogeyman conjuring, and
b) (this is very important) to the best of my knowledge, Dr. McGee is able to read

Yep, took the job anyway.


18 people like this
Posted by Yuri
a resident of another community
on Sep 28, 2017 at 5:57 am

Keep up the turmoil! I need home prices to come down so I can move out of my trailer on El Camino.


7 people like this
Posted by cvvhrn
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2017 at 12:45 pm

cvvhrn is a registered user.

There are so many things to be angry with regarding PAUSD and the situation with Paly's principal is just as maddening and needs to be dealt with NOW.

Also, I'm perplexed with all the hate directed at the teachers. PAUSD and the union negotiated a contract in good faith. PAUSD and Max screwed it up badly. Sheesh Icalendar reminder next time? Why would they EVER negotiate language like that in the first place? But to expect that the teachers will simply give the district a pass is laughable. How many of you would do so?

Also PAUSDparent's comments about where our kids are going to school is spot on. Lets be realistic, NOT every one of our kids are going to Stanford, Harvard, et al. Get over it. I went to San Jose State University, I am one of those 'blue collar" people that live among you, and things turned out okay.

And lastly lets address the whole 'Blue Collar" thing shall we. If your child become a plumber/electrician/auto mechanic/ nurse etc. and are happy then you have done your job. Plus seriously when is the last time you called a plumber and it was less than $400.


2 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 28, 2017 at 10:38 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

You could have had a proper candidate from Mountain View but the answer is still no. The PAUSD is still a toxic environment to work with.
Find a person who rose up from being a teacher to a Administer or a Assistant Administrator.

Who ever is chosen has multiple fires ongoing in the District that must be put out. Good luck in finding such a person.


2 people like this
Posted by Cari V.
a resident of another community
on Sep 29, 2017 at 12:20 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Maya
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 29, 2017 at 7:37 am

[Post removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by PA Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 29, 2017 at 8:24 am

To the person who suggested Dauber is an agent of Google's: Really, do you think Google wants to takeover K-12 education? Is there a place I can lend them my support? Because I'll take Google over the teachers and their union any day of the week. At least with Google I know where I stand and can plan accordingly (which is not a bad thing to me.)


1 person likes this
Posted by Severance
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Sep 29, 2017 at 1:03 pm

Severance is a registered user.

According to Palo Alto Online, McGee did not use any of his own funds for his home's purchase.

According to the Palo Alto Daily News, McGee purchased a home using a the District's $1.46 million dollar interest free loan, and he has made no monthly payments. Are these accurate?

Does this mean the Superintendent had free housing for the past 2 years?


2 people like this
Posted by Yes
a resident of Mayfield
on Sep 29, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Yes, free housing, though he probably had to pay the property taxes.


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Posted by Severance
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Sep 29, 2017 at 1:59 pm

Severance is a registered user.

How much did the free housing increase his salary?


1 person likes this
Posted by Yes
a resident of Mayfield
on Sep 29, 2017 at 2:09 pm

Well, an interest-only mortgage payment with a minimal down payment probably would have been $40-50K/year. 1.5M * 3% = 45K.


3 people like this
Posted by Yes, really.
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 29, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Don't forget about the $750 per month car allowance... All this and people are mad that the teachers got a raise?


3 people like this
Posted by Severance
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Sep 29, 2017 at 2:47 pm

Severance is a registered user.

Is this saying:
1) Downpayment - the Superintendant did not make any downpayment. He borrowed the downpayment from the District interest free, and made no payments on the loan from the District.
2) Remaining Balance - He used an interest free loan from the District for the remaining balance. He did not use a loan from an institution (such as a bank, lender). He made no payments to the District for the loan on the balance.
Is this correct?

Did he make
1) property tax payments
2) monthly home owners association ?

Where did the District money for the loan come from?
Did the District take out a loan, which it is repaying, or did the District just use it's own cash?


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Posted by Yes
a resident of Mayfield
on Sep 29, 2017 at 2:52 pm

I don't know the details, but only the loan was announced, so I'm guessing that's all there is. Since the loan amount covered the purchase price, I'd assume there was no down payment. I believe the district just loaned it out of its own reserves vs taking out a loan itself.


1 person likes this
Posted by And so it goes
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 29, 2017 at 3:26 pm

McGee borrowed the full amount of the purchase price from PAUSD and paid cash for the townhouse. And, as I posted on the other thread, it's likely he over-paid because the place is not worth much more now. Which means, if the district sells it now they (we) will likely incur a loss after paying real estate fees and commissions.

No idea where the money came from, I assume reserves. Not sure about property taxes and HOA, but I assume he paid those.


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Posted by Cari V.
a resident of another community
on Sep 29, 2017 at 9:30 pm

[Post removed; off topic]


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