News


Law firm issues final report on Paly sex-assault case

Attorneys recommended against using names of administrators

A law firm the school district asked to investigate a student sexual-assault case at Palo Alto High School has issued its final report, with some additions but without names identifying the administrators involved.

The school district posted the report on its website on Oct. 19, but did not announce its release. Board President Terry Godfrey said interim Superintendent Karen Hendricks plans to include it in a weekly message posted Friday afternoons.

The report from Cozen O'Connor, which is known nationally for its work on sexual violence on school campuses, illustrates how Paly and district administrators failed to comply with board policy, state law and federal anti-discrimination law Title IX in this particular case. A former male student who was found in juvenile court to have committed an off-campus sexual assault (not involving another Paly student) was reported for an on-campus incident last November.

Godfrey said that Cozen O'Connor lawyers recommended against adding administrators' names to the final report, though they used them in a public board meeting on the draft report in September. Godfrey said she and board Vice President Ken Dauber agreed with the attorneys' recommendation.

"This report outlines systemic failures that we are addressing," she said. "Adding the names of individual staff members doesn't advance the effort of solving the system issues."

In September, the Cozen O'Connor attorneys identified the unnamed administrators and staff in the report as follows: superintendent (Max McGee, who has since resigned), chief student services officer and Title IX coordinator (Holly Wade, who has since resigned), principal (Kim Diorio), assistant principal 1 (Vicki Kim), assistant principal 2 (Jerry Berkson), assistant principal 3 (Kathie Laurence, now principal of Gunn High School) and mental health and wellness coordinator (Jonathan Frecceri, who no longer works at Paly).

Additions to the final report largely clarify the roles and responsibilities of these main actors.

New language emphasizes that there was "immediate responsiveness" to a female freshman's initial report of sexual assault at Paly. A new section also defends Assistant Principal Vicki Kim's response. She "repeatedly took the initiative to inquire whether she should offer" the female student and her parent information about the district's Uniform Complaint Procedure (UCP), which is used to investigate allegations of discrimination and harassment.

Kim's efforts were met with resistance at the district level several times, the final report states. Wade told Kim within days of the report that an outside attorney had advised that no UCP or "Title IX launch" was necessary. At a legal training in early December, Kim again asked outside counsel about the case, who told her that it was unnecessary to pursue a UCP. Wade told her the same again in December when Kim learned the female student was considering withdrawing from Paly because of the impact of the incident.

A new footnote further underscores Wade's failure to fulfill her obligations as Title IX coordinator: "While it is appropriate to delegate aspects of the institutional response to the site level, particularly as it relates to the immediate response ... these efforts must be overseen, coordinated, guided and documented by the Title IX coordinator."

Unless designated by Wade, it would not have been Kim's responsibility to conduct a formal investigation, the report states.

New information in the final report also states that information the district received from "external authorities" about the male student in February — notification of his juvenile court conviction — was provided to both Diorio and Kim. Diorio also forwarded the information to a teacher and administrators directly connected to the male student.

The final report states that the male student was disciplined for "related conduct" with the same female student that "pre-dated" the fall 2016 incident.

As part of its broader work helping the district comply with a federal resolution agreement reached on past sexual misconduct cases, the Cozen O'Connor lawyers are set to make recommendations to the district at a later date.

The Palo Alto Weekly has created a Storify page to capture ongoing coverage of sexual misconduct in the Palo Alto school district. To view it, go to storify.com/paloaltoweekly.

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Comments

33 people like this
Posted by PAUSD Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 27, 2017 at 4:29 pm

This information further reinforces that Kim Diorio is not concerned about student's welfare compared to appearances and protecting herself.

Kim Diorio should not be at PAUSD and should be removed from her position. She is responsible at PALY for determining the right thing to do. She is clearly missing this moral compass and has demonstrated her reluctance to use good judgement.


8 people like this
Posted by Not the best
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2017 at 4:43 pm

Kim Diorio got hired to patch up Paly after [portion removed] Phil Winston, if Diorio is sent packing, who will patch up Paly? Not naming all of these public servants reeks of secrecy.


60 people like this
Posted by Sharon
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 27, 2017 at 8:22 pm

The elephant in the room is race, and stereotypes therein. The perp was black. If the perp was white, then the administrators would have been on top of the situation from the beginning, probably throwing the book at him (remember Brock Turner at Stanford?). A subtext was that the perp was an athlete...adding to the stereotype. Palo Alto, including our school district has a very difficult time dealing with competing liberal interests...in this case race and girls' protection from sexual assault.

We should be empathetic, but also open to the facts, without shying away from them, when they are in front of us. Unfortunately, this case was and is a coverup, especially by the local press (including the Weekly) as well as the PAUSD. When will we learn that transparency is better than avoidance?


29 people like this
Posted by Kathy Jordan
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 27, 2017 at 10:31 pm

Let's see:
So according to the Cozen final report the boy was disciplined for prior conduct with the complainant/victim. That means that Ms. Diorio and her crew knew of his behavior with regard to the girl/victim before the alleged sexual assault.

And according to the Cozen final report they, Ms. Diorio and Ms. Kim, did not complete the investigation into the alleged sexual assault, and they never actually determined what happened in the incident, although they were required to do so under EDC 48915(c).

And, according to the Cozen final report, the boy wasn't even disciplined for the Oct. 11, 2016 incident, in which sexual assault was alleged. And so he was permitted to continue to attend classes at Paly.

And, according to the Cozen final report, after Ms. Diorio received the information through the PAUSD communication chain re the Jan. 31, 2017 notification letter, which informed Dr. McGee, Ms Diorio, et al, of the boy's felony conviction for oral copulation under menace or fear in a separate assault in a bathroom, the same exact type of offense alleged in the alleged assault in the Paly bathroom, Ms. Diorio and Ms. Kim did ....nothing. Nothing. According to the Cozen final report, they did not complete the investigation at that time, or come to any determination then as to what happened in the Oct. 11, 2016 incident of alleged sexual assault, even after receiving that information about the boy's pattern of behavior and conviction for it in that separate assault, but instead, did nothing, and permitted the boy to attend classes at Paly and be exposed to the rest of the student body.

According to the Cozen final report, Ms. Diorio and Ms. Kim did not take the required steps that might have possibly led to expelling that boy (EDC 48915(c)(4)). All he had to do was attempt sexual assault in that Paly bathroom and, assuming the principal did come to the determination that it was more likely that that happened than not, that would have meant mandatory expulsion (EDC 48915(c(4)). Given that he had been disciplined for conduct related to the girl prior to the alleged sexual assault, and given she had alleged sexual assault in the Oct. 11, 2016 incident, and given they had received information (Jan. 31, 2017 letter) about his felony conviction for the same offense, how can Ms. Diorio and Ms. Kim remain in a position to put our children at risk again?

Reportedly, the Nov. 2015 perpetrator was never expelled either, although sexual battery was alleged in the incident, and that also means mandatory expulsion, if the principal determines that is what happened. Perhaps no determination took place in that incident either by Ms. Diorio.....


13 people like this
Posted by an improper call
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 28, 2017 at 7:49 am

The young woman's sexual assault claim is filled in by a detail the Weekly just uncovered that, before the October bathroom incident, Paly disciplined the junior boy for a related act with the freshman girl.

KTVU reported that the freshman told it that before the incident the junior had touched her without consent, stalked her, and snapchatted her nude pictures of himself. Web Link

Then the bathroom incident happened, it "was deemed to be welcomed" by someone, and so Holly Wade told Vicki Kim there was no need to offer her parents the UCP. Cozen @ minute 36: Web Link

The it-was-not-an-assault view continued into December when Vicki Kim asked about the UCP again, and was told it was not needed again, and up until this Summer when the Cozen attorneys called attention to the error.

Who "deemed" it NOT an assault - Assistant Principal 1/Kim who conducted the interviews and investigation? the Principal/Diorio her boss? the Title IX Coordinator/Wade? or the Superintendent her boss/McGee?

According to Cozen, whomever did did so improperly:

The "District did not conduct a thorough, informed or reliable investigation as required by Title IX, state law and Board policy...[Paly] administrators did not conduct a thorough interview of either the Complainant or Respondent that would allow the School to evaluate issues of consent, the potential impact of a power differential between the parties based on age, grade or status or the welcomeness of the conduct" at the time. Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by long-time Campy fan
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 28, 2017 at 8:31 am

The Campanile recently reported that "the incident was subsequently determined to be consensual" too.

Its source: the young man's attorney.

The reporters could not verify that claim.

Web Link


19 people like this
Posted by Kathy Jordan
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 28, 2017 at 9:08 am

According to the Cozen final report:

Assistant Principal 1 (Vicki Kim) immediately informed the Principal (Kim Diorio) of the report of a “possible sexual assault that occurred on campus;”

The Superintendent also informed the Board, within days of the incident, that a student disciplinary issue at the Palo Alto High School was being investigated and may result in a sexual harassment complaint through the UCP.

The School Resource Officer notified the Palo Alto Police Department, who responded and interviewed the Complainant on the same afternoon the report was shared with the Mental Health and Wellness Coordinator and Assistant Principal 1; and,

The Mental Health and Wellness Coordinator made a mandatory report of suspected child abuse to Santa Clara Child Protective Services on the same evening the report was shared with the Palo Alto Police Department.

According to news reports and the complainant's mother:

The complainant had an emergency temporary restraining order served on the boy at Paly a week after the Oct. 11, 2016 incident, through an Assistant Principal, reportedly Vicki Kim.

According to the Cozen final report, the complainant withdrew from Paly for the second semester.

Reportedly, the complainant moved over 100 miles away to attend school.

According to a Palo Alto Police Dept address search report on 50 Embarcadero:

A sex crime was reported to the Police on Oct. 14, 2017 at 50 Embarcadero.

According to news reports in the Mercury News and on KTVU:
The Oct. 11, 2017 complainant alleged sexual assault.
Web Link
Web Link

Reportedly, the complainant was 14 years old at the time of the incident.

In my view, none of these things are consistent with welcome conduct.

The Campanile is allegedly libeling the Oct. 11, 2016 complainant by publishing statements that cannot be verified and that may damage her reputation.


24 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 28, 2017 at 9:35 am

I wonder if Cozen O'Connor took a look at the broader district culture and context in which this happened -- this is pretty standard behavior, especially for Wade and her circle, related to special ed cases, for example. Very deep-rooted, kneejerk, untrustworthy CYA. In the midst of all that, we couldn't get a records request filled to save our lives, although we did get letters from the district claiming they had filled them. And then Max McGee changed district procedures to allow them to destroy records earlier if someone like the victim in this case leaves the district.

We were pathologically lied to (have plenty of evidence, don't need the records from the district), libeled (have evidence), and I'm not even going to go into what they did to our child, but it wasn't a Title IX issue -- is anyone who is supposedly monitoring the district for compliance interested in looking at the systemic problems that remain unaddressed, and are identical?

Thank you, Kathy Jordan, for defending the victim -- everyone should have an advocate as intelligent and faithful as you have been in this issue.


28 people like this
Posted by did anyone ask the OCR?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 28, 2017 at 11:11 am

The Cozen report says that the OCR was on our doorstep looking into Paly's handling of past peer sexual assaults right before this story broke.

At any point did anyone - McGee, Wade, Diorio, or Kim - ask the OCR, THE TITLE IX EXPERTS, to confirm that Paly conducted the investigation properly, etc?

It sounds like Paly was unsure that they did; Vicki Kim asked whether they did three times.

But even if Paly thought they did this by the book, you'd think they would have told the OCR how they handled it to show the OCR that Kim Diorio and staff are now taking all potential Title IX claims seriously, are responding real time, and know the rules inside and out.

Instead Paly and the district ended up:

+ staying mum about it until after KTVU broke the story,

+ hiring the Cozen law firm to investigate their investigation (bill: $250,000+),

and then

+ telling the OCR about it anyway (bill: free). Web Link


41 people like this
Posted by Victim 1
a resident of another community
on Oct 28, 2017 at 2:31 pm

Sharon:

I am one of the victims of this boy.

PAUSD didn't fail to act because he's black. They failed to act because he is wealthy, and he was an athlete, and he is male. People of color don't have racial privilege in our society, and if he were white, I think there would have been even less action taken.

I don't appreciate people using my trauma to perpetuate racism or blame "liberal interests" for rape culture. We definitely need to include race in our conversations about sexual violence, but blaming liberals and "PoC privilege", which is what you seem to be doing, is NOT the way to go.


33 people like this
Posted by narrowing it down to 3
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 28, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Improper call,

Max McGee said he wasn't involved in the decision so that leaves Wade, Diorio and/or Kim who decided that the "incident" was consensual.

Web Link


19 people like this
Posted by afraid
a resident of another community
on Oct 28, 2017 at 3:22 pm

To "did anyone ask the OCR",

The last thing Wade/Diorio/Kim would have wanted to do is talk to the OCR after hearing how hard it came down on Paly during the December meeting with Max McGee and Holly Wade, later released in writing.

OCR's findings fill 23 pages. Here is a taste of what's in it:

VIOLATED TITLE IX - Paly’s investigation of the peer-on-peer sexual assault that happened years ago. OCR -- “the District violated Title IX when it failed to take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate her reports of harassment after she reported the alleged sexual assault.”

Just like the October 2016 assault case, that Paly assault was followed by the young woman being bullied which was followed by her having to change high schools.

VIOLATED TITLE IX - Assistant Principal Kim Diorio’s up to 3 year delay sharing 25 alleged sexual harassment complaints. OCR -- “In her position, the former Assistant Principal was a high level District employee [who] did not discharge her responsibility to take immediate and appropriate steps to address them when they were reported to her. Accordingly, OCR found that the District did not respond promptly and equitably to the oral reports, in violation of Title IX.“

Web Link

Web Link


23 people like this
Posted by Force victims out
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 28, 2017 at 6:22 pm

If we search bullying and assault cases handled by PAUSD in the past decade, a clear pattern emerges - that victims and their families consistently didn’t get support from school and district administration, even after repeated complaints. This is a school district that supposingly promotes Unity and Inclusiveness, Then why victims, not attackers, ended up leaving the schools where bullying or assault took place?

Does this pattern, case after case, suggests that our district consistently choose to protect the attackers instead of the victims?

I agree with Parent that the systematic problems need to be investigated.


50 people like this
Posted by Sharon
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 28, 2017 at 9:43 pm

@Victim 1: Which victim case are you referring to? I have lived in Palo Alto for several decades, which means I am considerably older than you, and have much more experience in PA ways and customs and culture than you do. Liberal internal conflict is very much in play here, including especially protecting black men, even if it means that young women have to stay quiet, and school administrators need to do the same. I don't accept your argument. It perpetuates the denial that is palpable in this and other cases. We need to overcome this guilt complex.

[Portion removed.]


26 people like this
Posted by Victim 1
a resident of another community
on Oct 28, 2017 at 11:59 pm

Sharon:

I am the victim who wrote the victim impact statement. Web Link
If that is what you are referring to when you say that it sounds like an adult wrote my case, I would like to inform you that I spent two months writing that statement, and it is completely my own wording. It's deeply offensive to me that you would even suggest otherwise - it seems that you greatly underestimate youth, which is quite disappointing.

I would also like to inform you that I have lived in a town adjacent to Palo Alto my entire life, and am very much familiar with the customs of this area. I do a lot of work in civil rights and social/political activism, and as someone who has studied this topic more than most people ever will, I feel that it's fair to say that we have roughly the same (or I might even have more) knowledge on this subject than you do.

Fact: People of color do not have racial privilege in our society.

Fact: At least one of this boy's (alleged) victims was not white. What about that victim? Did she not benefit from this so-called "PoC privilege"?

There are other facts that I can't bring up here because the general public doesn't know them, but rest assured that "black privilege" is NOT what happened in this case.

Again, Sharon: I know the ins and outs of this case. I have spent the last two years working on it and considering the effect of race on this entire ordeal. You do not. You have not. Please take a step back and stop using my trauma and the trauma of the other victims (my friends) to perpetuate the racist notion of "black privilege".


5 people like this
Posted by timeline
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 29, 2017 at 7:08 am

From a Weekly story about 3 related days last December: Web Link

December 7. In a meeting in Palo Alto, OCR representatives revealed to Superintendent McGee its findings of "multiple reports of sexual harassment" at Paly and Paly staff's multiple Title IX violations.

December 8. At a training session for administrators about the UCP, Assistant Principal Kim got confirmation that the UCP was not needed for the October incident. As posted above, someone had determined it was consensual.

December 9. PAUSD's attorney told Superintendent McGee about staff's challenges with this, including their being "unsure about whether something rises to the level of discrimination, thus meriting a district investigation."

Administrators admitted that they are "'totally overwhelmed with the level of investigation and detail they have to go through in order to allow [an investigation] report to be generated.'"

The teacher's union added that the schools prefer to work this out on their own "with the families."


3 people like this
Posted by Go Sharon
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 29, 2017 at 9:48 am

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by allowed to know
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 29, 2017 at 10:36 am

It is likely that the criminal juvenile court secretary shared its ruling with McGee and Diorio but does anyone know if it was OK for Paly to:

Tell all of Paly what did not happen in court which implied what did - "[What] is really important for people to understand is there was never a conviction or charge for sexual assault on this campus" Web Link

and

apparently share what did happen in court with the district's Title IX investigators? Cozen reports that Paly "relied upon a determination by law enforcement as to the nature of the incident"? Web Link

Those who can know: Web Link A-30.
Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by the police too
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2017 at 11:26 am

The only those who "need to know" rules apply to information that the police department keeps too.

Web Link
Web Link.


7 people like this
Posted by A Parent of 2
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 29, 2017 at 11:38 am

@allowed to know wrote: "It is likely that the criminal juvenile court secretary shared its ruling with McGee and Diorio but does anyone know if it was OK for Paly to"

That's a good catch, but very unlikely. There is nothing in the Cozen report to indicate that they did look at the court records or talk to anyone at the court. Certainly not at the time it happened - McGee denied even knowing about the court notice until after the scandal broke.

Moreover, the report concludes its Findings with the below (p 27). That certainly makes it sounds like they made no inquiries and got no additional info from the "external authorities" (i.e., the juvenile court). Web Link

The District did not properly investigate to determine: whether the additional information provided by the external authorities involved on or off-campus conduct by the Respondent; whether the conduct was connected to a PAHS student; whether the conduct may have had continuing effects at PAHS; whether, as a result of the conduct, the Respondent may have represented a danger to persons; whether the additional information presented circumstances that would trigger a mandatory expulsion under Cal. Ed. Code § 48915(c);71 or whether the additional information presented a potential pattern of conduct that may warrant further action or triggered obligations under BP5144.1, Suspension and Expulsion/Due Process.


25 people like this
Posted by Kathy Jordan
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 29, 2017 at 12:40 pm

According to the victim and the victim's mother, it wasn't consensual. According to the Cozen final report, the School (Ms. Diorio as the principal is responsible under EDC 48915) never completed their investigation or came to any determination of what occurred during the incident. The juvenile records are sealed. A conviction only represents what charge can be sustained beyond a reasonable doubt in any case. The standard of proof for the principal, Kim Diorio, under EDC 48915, is the preponderance of the evidence, was it more likely than not to have happened. The School had already disciplined him for conduct related to the girl. In a similar, separate assault, he received a felony conviction for forced oral copulation under menace or fear. According to the victim and the victim's mother, it wasn't consensual.


36 people like this
Posted by Business
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 29, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Now that we have the final report can we get down to the business of firing everybody associated with this debacle?

Time to send a message that the community is fed up with incompetence, and misbehavior.

As long as ANY of these people keep their job, we are sayying it is okay to abuse our children going forward.

They all gotta go.


Like this comment
Posted by a perplexed parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 29, 2017 at 1:48 pm

A parent of 2,

I agree. The police and criminal courts know to keep this information confidential and wouldn't have shared it with unauthorized people.

But Paly said *something* to the Title IX investigators about law enforcement. Did Paly share with those investigators, or anyone else not on the list, how law enforcement handled this case?

How about the young man's attorney? The Campanile just reported that she told a local newspaper that the DA filed "consensual underage sexual activity" charges. Web Link

Even if the young man was OK with Paly and his attorney telling the world, two children's futures are impacted by what happened here.

From a link above: Those authorized to get this information are not permitted to share it and, for schools, "any information received by a teacher, counselor, or administrator under this subdivision shall be received in confidence for the limited purpose of rehabilitating the minor and protecting students and staff, and shall not be further disseminated by the teacher, counselor, or administrator..."



12 people like this
Posted by A Parent of 2
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 29, 2017 at 2:01 pm

There's no way to verify what the boy's lawyer claimed, and no reason to rely on her statement.

I don't think Paly admin or the district knows how law enforcement handled the case, aside from the notice received from the court in February. They didn't have the police report; they didn't see the sealed court records. They appear to have relied on preliminary conversations with individuals, which likely told them what they wanted to hear. They seem to have relied on preliminary impressions that were applying the wrong standard for what the schools needed to determine anyway. Nice going.


2 people like this
Posted by unclear
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 29, 2017 at 3:31 pm

APof2,

The Cozen report says Paly relied on "a determination" by law enforcement. Also, Kim Diorio told the Paly paper the charges that were NOT brought and what conviction did NOT get handed down. She got those from somewhere.

This means there was no determination so Paly misled the investigators (unlikely), Paly thought that unverified statements constituted a law enforcement determination (hard to believe), or Paly had access to an official record like a police report (maybe), the DA's charges (also maybe), or the court ruling (likely if the case ended with a conviction).

Interesting question raised above - who did she share the specifics with?


1 person likes this
Posted by A Parent of 2
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 29, 2017 at 3:45 pm

@unclear, Good question to ask the district. Cozen report language could equally mean an impression by one police officer, an official finding by a court, or anything in between. For the purposes of title IX it doesn't matter, since all would be irrelevant.

I don't put much reliance on anything Diorio said being thoughtful or even honest. Her mistakes and cover ups are too numerous. What you term "hard to believe" above, I think is most likely. It's sad, but the errors of this group are pretty egregious (note the financial errors the last two years, not to mention all this happening while wrapping up the OCR debacle).


6 people like this
Posted by A Parent of 2
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 29, 2017 at 3:54 pm

BTW, Paly did receive notice of a conviction; this was documented somewhere maybe in Cozen. Conviction of off campus sexual assault was left unsealed and widely reported. But failure to convict of on campus assault is not a determination of innocence, or consent, or anything else. It probably means the DA didn't charge, for reason known only to them.


17 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 29, 2017 at 4:54 pm

The first victim had to get the sexual predator into a conversation, which was recorded, and in which he incriminated himself.

The sexual predator learned from this first experience, and wouldn't make the same mistake with the 2nd victim. So it may have been more difficult to have a criminal prosecution because the standard of evidence is much higher than what is required by the school district rules.

What also is left out is the subsequent harassment of the 2nd victime - who, and how many other harassers were there? and were they suspended or expelled?


3 people like this
Posted by Privacy
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 29, 2017 at 9:36 pm

who exactly decided it was consensual first ? Do school newspapers have rights to use children's names without their consent? Both of these points do affect all students and are pretty unclear.


9 people like this
Posted by chosen words
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 30, 2017 at 8:37 am

I can see how the privacy rules prevented Kim Diorio and the rest from saying what happened. So instead, Kim Diorio told Paly that a sexual assault did "not" happen. Web Link

Looking back at Kim's statement now, her words - not "this year" and not "on this campus" - were carefully chosen and misleading.

There were two young Paly women, one last year (2015-16) and the other this year (2016-17), claiming they were assaulted "on campus." Kim knew about both. Its been reported that neither had been fully investigated and resolved so she shouldn't have said no assaults happened.

By then Kim Diorio also knew that the young man had been charged AND convicted of sexual assault "off campus." For future reference, parents' concerns were whether there was a convicted sexual assaulter on campus, not whether he assaulted someone there.

So her statement was an odd one to release unless she issued it to get out the slight of phrasing of what did NOT happen to signal what she wanted us to think but the privacy rules prevented her from saying which may or may not be true -- that the incident was consensual.


14 people like this
Posted by call it what it is
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2017 at 11:21 am

Paly Principal's May 11 statement:

“[What] is really important for people to understand is there was never a conviction or charge for sexual assault on this campus"

As shared above, at least 2 Paly students "charged" that they had been sexually assaulted on Paly's campus according to the post above. The principal knew about the first young woman from staff who did the intake and the media which shared her story before the principal gave this statement. Sounds like she completely forgot about the second young woman.

"There has not been a sexual assault on this campus this year that has been reported to us."

The first young woman reported the incident that school year which the Assistant Principal called a "possible sexual assault that occurred on campus" according to the post above. That qualifies as a sexual assault reported "to us" this year.

"The other incidences that we became aware of this spring happened to non-Paly students."

The principal was notified about one months earlier, in January I recall, which is in the winter.


28 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 30, 2017 at 1:32 pm

Hey Victim,
Get your facts right and know that the perp is not wealthy. I don't know where your info comes from but he is far from wealthy and you can't tell the people on this forum that this was handled wrong because of this.


16 people like this
Posted by Can't trust them
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 30, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Is the Police or DA required to report charges they make to the schools? How the heck would the district or principal know what charges had been filed against who? They just make up misleading stuff and put it out there without even knowing the truth. You can't trust them, it's terrible.


17 people like this
Posted by Time to cycle through
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2017 at 5:01 pm

The breakup with Max McGee was overdue, and it been a small step towards building a new culture. It's time for Kim Diorio to leave Paly.


6 people like this
Posted by Victim 1
a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2017 at 6:21 pm

@Neighbor:

When I said he's wealthy, I meant that he's from the "right part of town". The Paly victim was not from Palo Alto. His family had the power to sue; her family presumably did not.

Also, he was wealthy enough to hire a private defense attorney to try and escape responsibility for his actions...


6 people like this
Posted by UpstandersBystanders
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 30, 2017 at 8:51 pm

Twice now we have seen, in this thread, comments against the Victim; frankly it takes a lot of guts for someone to speak out, and I feel a little sad at the reception this persons comments have received.

Therein lies some of the problem - rather than believe that there are issues in our community which need to be addressed, I think there is a knee-jerk reaction to blame the victim, or discredit the victim, or fail to empathize with the victim. It is a form of institutional defense which is unwarranted: the institution of our schools only exist to serve the students. They need no defense when acting against our students.

@Victim 1: I am very sorry for what you had to endure, and I am glad that you are speaking out against a broken system. It is only through the courageous actions of a few that the system will finally get fixed.


9 people like this
Posted by juveniles & confidentiality
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 31, 2017 at 7:36 am

For Can't Trust Them,

A superintendent who wants to see the police and DA's charges involving a student alerts those involved in the case that he will be filing a petition with the court asking for that information and gives the judge his reasons for needing to see them:
Web Link
Web Link
The accused or victim may object if, for example, the minor believes its release will be detrimental to his or her safety or emotional well-being. The Superintendent cannot share the information he receives with anyone without getting a judge's OK.

If the case goes to trial and the student is guilty of a serious crime, the court will notify all parties and the Superintendent of the conviction, not the charges. The Superintendent must share the notice with the principal and certain teachers and staff. Typically, the notice is stamped "Unlawful Dissemination of This Information is a Misdemeanor." Those who receive it are not allowed to talk about it with those who haven't.

Web Link
Web Link


17 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2017 at 8:06 am

@juveniles,thanks for that info. I guarantee that McGee never did any of that, he couldn't be bothered from writing Max mails. There is nothing in the Cozen report that suggests any of that was done.


8 people like this
Posted by What happened to the guy?
a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2017 at 8:28 am

The CA Penal Code makes sex (penitration) with a minor over 13 a misdemeanor or a felony with over 3 years difference in age. A crime is a basis for a juvenile delinquency petition. So, apart from any uncertainty about what was or was not voluntary, the juvenile(s) involved are subject to arrest and prosecution and incarceration (using diffetent terms if kept in the juvenile system). I have not followed this story but here is my question: what happemed to the male student? Was he expelled, prosecuted, locked up? Even if he was not transferred to adult criminal court where what happens is generally public, lots of persons would know. Post it. Leave his name out. We should know if - beyond the school district - the police and. County District Attorney do their jobs.


12 people like this
Posted by 9 step plan
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 31, 2017 at 10:09 am

Staff said that they are "'totally overwhelmed with the level of investigation and detail they have to go through in order to allow [an investigation] report to be generated.'"-- post above.

That is telling.

Perhaps knowing that they couldn't undo the assault, Paly's staff thought that it was better not to do a ton of work on this so they'd have more time to help other students and so followed these steps:

1. Put the short-term accommodations for the victim in place.

2. Started the investigation but didn't finish it. Did not write much down so no one could tell how little time they spent on it.

3. Confirmed with a lawyer that if they called the incident "consensual" the parents would not have to be told that they can insist on a full investigation and get a detailed report.

4. Repeated #3 to make sure it really worked that way.

5. Didn't reach out to the OCR since it might have asked to see the investigation file.

6. Closed the investigation, called it “consensual,” and then, to be consistent, didn't come down hard on the bathroom students.

7. Prayed that the media wouldn't pick up the story.

8. When it did, reported what didn't happen to calm the community.

9. Brought in a FERPA speaker so those who were pressuring staff to say more would back off.

What the Paly staff couldn’t have anticipated was:

1. That the school board would hire one of the top law firms in the US to check Paly's work which exposed, in detail, the laws they violated by taking those short cuts and drawing that unsubstantiated conclusion.

2. That the Superintendent and Title IX Coordinator would leave right after the story broke and their departures would take the focus off of Paly's role and the heat off of Paly's staff.


16 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2017 at 11:05 am

@9 step plan - Yes, this is the PAUSD way, following the law is a lot of work, we have more important things to do! I'll never forget the old Terman principal, later promoted to head of secondary, telling OCR investigators that the staff was very "sophisticated" and "didn't need disability awareness" training. (Web Link)

That's the mindset - rules are for the other schools; we know what's best. Except when they get caught! Then it's, "No one ever told us about the rules, how could we possibly be expected to follow them" (literally what Diorio's secretary said at a board meeting a couple weeks ago). New leadership needed here.


4 people like this
Posted by key
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2017 at 8:21 am

Every person with a ca credential is a mandatory reporter and there is extensive training on this before a credential is issued. The protocol and process is drilled over and over and then again when the credential is issued in detail with all agencies. I am not sure how any teacher can say they do not know this. It is literally drilled and drilled at every college and is in the credential. Hospital staff, police, fire, social workers are also all mandatory reporters.


2 people like this
Posted by the facts are off
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 1, 2017 at 8:26 am

It cannot be that Diorio/Kim relied on a "law enforcement determination" for their decision despite the Cozen report saying that they did.

When Diorio/Kim investigated this incident last Fall, they had to make the "consenual" or "not consensual" call and write up a report within 60 days, before Christmas.

In situations like these, police are called in and they draw up a list of "charges" which are their somewhat informed guess of everything that could possibly have happened. 99+% certain that those charges would have included sexual assault. The police talked to Vicki Kim who had told Kim Diorio that a "possible sexual assault occurred on campus" and the police delivered an emergency protective order which happens when a judge is convinced that someone is genuinely afraid that the person arrested will return to hurt her. This is NOT a determination of what happened.

A DA looks over the police department's charges and narrows the list down to what he/she thinks can be proven in court. This is NOT a determination of what happened either. The hardest to prove charges are often dropped not because they didn't happen but because there isn't enough evidence to convince a judge or jury that they happened. Sexual assault cases require strong evidence because the consequences for those found guilty are so severe. These cases are tremendously difficult for women to go through so, even when a woman is assaulted, she may drop the charges or agree to lesser charges to get it over with and move on.

A "determination" is a "not guilty" or "guilty" verdict by a judge/jury after a trial on the charges that ended up being brought ends. It takes years to reach this stage. Take the case where the same young man was found guilty of sexual assault with a minor in a church bathroom. It took 2+ years to get the court's "determination" and there the boy had confessed.


2 people like this
Posted by Penal Code 261.5
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 1, 2017 at 9:22 am

Penal Code section 261.5 makes it a crime for anyone to have "intercourse" (defined as sexual penetration) with a minor (not one's spouse). Consent is not an element of the crime. A minor who has this sex with another minor is sibject to arrest and detention pending trial (called temporary custody), conviction and sentencing (called adjudication and disposition) in the juvenile justice system under California law. While both parties may violate the law, not both need to dealt with as juvenile delinquents. There would usually be mitigating circumstances as to one. Which one should be considered to cuprit is up to authorities at every level - starting with the police and schools officials as well. So, I wonder why the DISTRICT ATTORNEY of Santa Clara County does not (if he doesn't) inform schools and police that his office wants to receive reports of unlawful intercourse in certain circumstances where the girl (or boy) could well be the victim and not just when the sex is apparently non-consentual. For example, a 17-year-old boy might be targeting 14-year-old girls he is trying to infect with diseases or get pregnant. The DA might decide that the boy is the perpetrator and the girl is the victim and only pursue charges against the boy. That is called the proper exercise of prosecutorial discretion. And it may later turn out that the sex was non-consentual and that a harsher disposition is appropriate.


3 people like this
Posted by George Whitman
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 4, 2018 at 9:20 pm

In talking to other parents most of these incidents happened off-campus. Parents should teach their daughters and sons...don't go into bathrooms together. Don't sneak out of the house for "hook-ups". It just invites misunderstanding and miscommunication. Think about the sometimes mixed signals you're sending, and always respect 'no' for an answer. Teens aren't always clear, but they need to know the consequences. Also, parents need to lighten up: much of these cases with minors call for family therapy, not criminal action by a zealous D.A.


Like this comment
Posted by Steven Kotke
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 5, 2018 at 10:24 am

With respect to Title IX, don't parents also have some responsibility in all of this? When incidents happen off-campus, but are eventually reported to school--yes, the school has a responsibility. But it doesn't release parents from their failures to teach their kids properly. Unless parents talk to their sons and daughters about correct behavior (and don't automatically cry wolf at each instance), we might as well say goodbye to co-ed education.


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