News

Retired administrator named acting principal at Paly

Frank 'Pancho' Rodriguez to lead school in Kim Diorio's absence

A retired principal who the school district hired in the fall to provide temporary administrative support at Palo Alto High School will now return as acting principal while Principal Kim Diorio is on medical leave.

Interim Superintendent Karen Hendricks notified parents on Friday morning that Frank "Pancho" Rodriguez will serve as principal for an unspecified amount of time. Diorio informed staff on Feb. 23 that she was taking a leave of absence effectively immediately, citing health reasons.

Rodriguez, the founding principal of Pajaro Valley High School in Watsonville, has served in interim roles at several Bay Area schools in his retirement. The district hired him last fall to cover the responsibilities of Paly Assistant Principal Vicki Kim while she was out for about four to six weeks, Hendricks told the Weekly.

Rodriguez has previously worked as a short-term administrator at Aptos High School, E.A. Hall Middle School, Lakeview Middle School, Rolling Hills Middle School and Carmel High School, which is in Hendricks' former school district. Hendricks said she had a good experience with him there and described him as a "veteran retired administrator who's done a good job wherever he's been."

Hendricks said the district has not determined how long Rodriguez will serve as acting principal and that Diorio tentatively plans to return "sometime in the spring."

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

"Together with Paly administration and staff, Mr. Rodriguez will help support and shepherd the good work, focus on learning, and on providing continuity in this interim period," she wrote to parents Friday.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

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

Retired administrator named acting principal at Paly

Frank 'Pancho' Rodriguez to lead school in Kim Diorio's absence

by Elena Kadvany / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Mar 2, 2018, 11:44 am
Updated: Tue, Mar 6, 2018, 8:29 am

A retired principal who the school district hired in the fall to provide temporary administrative support at Palo Alto High School will now return as acting principal while Principal Kim Diorio is on medical leave.

Interim Superintendent Karen Hendricks notified parents on Friday morning that Frank "Pancho" Rodriguez will serve as principal for an unspecified amount of time. Diorio informed staff on Feb. 23 that she was taking a leave of absence effectively immediately, citing health reasons.

Rodriguez, the founding principal of Pajaro Valley High School in Watsonville, has served in interim roles at several Bay Area schools in his retirement. The district hired him last fall to cover the responsibilities of Paly Assistant Principal Vicki Kim while she was out for about four to six weeks, Hendricks told the Weekly.

Rodriguez has previously worked as a short-term administrator at Aptos High School, E.A. Hall Middle School, Lakeview Middle School, Rolling Hills Middle School and Carmel High School, which is in Hendricks' former school district. Hendricks said she had a good experience with him there and described him as a "veteran retired administrator who's done a good job wherever he's been."

Hendricks said the district has not determined how long Rodriguez will serve as acting principal and that Diorio tentatively plans to return "sometime in the spring."

"Together with Paly administration and staff, Mr. Rodriguez will help support and shepherd the good work, focus on learning, and on providing continuity in this interim period," she wrote to parents Friday.

Comments

GraceBrown
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 2, 2018 at 8:43 pm
GraceBrown, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Mar 2, 2018 at 8:43 pm

Can someone share the letter to parents? Staff hasn't seen that - staff received a message from the interim Superintendent earlier today, but it's not clear that the parent communication was forwarded as it the practice at both high schools.


Samuel L.
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 2, 2018 at 11:50 pm
Samuel L., Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Mar 2, 2018 at 11:50 pm

Probably the same as the letter going to staff:

Join Me in Welcoming Mr. Frank “Pancho” Rodriguez


After updating you earlier this week about Principal Diorio’s medical leave, I am pleased to announce that Frank “Pancho” Rodriquez will be serving as Acting Principal of Palo Alto High School (Paly) while Ms. Diorio is out.

Mr. Rodriquez is the retired founding principal of Pajaro Valley High School (PVHS) in Santa Cruz County, which opened its doors in the fall of 2004. Under Mr. Rodriguez’s leadership, PVHS focused on equity, access, and success for all learners, reflecting steady growth in both graduation rates and college enrollment. Upon his retirement in 2014, graduation rates accelerated, as had the number of graduates matriculating to four-year universities, community colleges, and institutes for professional training.

In his retirement, Mr. Rodriguez has served as a short-term administrator at Aptos High School, E.A. Hall Middle School, Lake View Middle School, Rolling Hills Middle School, and Carmel High School. In addition, this past fall, he provided Paly Administration with support in a variety of areas including student services and Special Education.

We welcome Mr. Rodriguez back to the Paly campus, knowing that he is joining an administrative team committed to ensuring that students continue to benefit from the best possible student experience. Together with Paly administration and staff, Mr. Rodriquez will help support and shepherd the good work, focus on learning, and on providing continuity in this interim period. Please say hello when you see him on campus. He looks forward to interacting with you during his time at Paly.


Sincerely,

Karen Hendricks
Interim Superintendent


Yuri
another community
on Mar 10, 2018 at 10:09 am
Yuri, another community
on Mar 10, 2018 at 10:09 am

Sorry to see Ms. Diorio go. By most accounts (parents, students, and teachers included) she was an able and caring leader. Hopefully Mr. Rodriguez is up to the task of dealing with a district office that has lost its way. Please sir, find the guts to stand up to the "strong" factions at 25 Churchill who place themselves far ahead of students. Soul searching needs to start at the top right now. Positive real news (not DO generated love fest propaganda) is paramount. The real estate agents are getting nervous about all of this bad press.


Truth and Reconciliation
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2018 at 10:52 am
Truth and Reconciliation, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2018 at 10:52 am

@Yuri,
I am sorry to see Ms. Diorio go, too, but I am far more sorry to see the most important aspect of her defense being dismissed. Her superiors in the district office were responsible for a host of ills over years, that they got away with and manipulated the staff to do. We as a family and our special needs child in school were gaslighted, libeled, deliberately isolated and held at arms' length, our child repeatedly hurt academically, emotionally, socially, and even directly singked out and bullied by school administrators until we finally left the district. We experienced serious retaliation, that we can prove, from administrators in the district office.

The worst part was that much of it happened through school administrators and teachers who should have considered that something was wrong, and tried to be upstanders. If they had examined their own hearts, they could have done something. A teacher who was not directly part of it told us recently that there was definitely something really weird going on.

Diorio's letter finally has an administrator waking up to the damage that specific admin in 25 Churchill have done, and the situation finally shows that the chickens will come home to roost for teachers, staff, and administrators who went along with 25 Churchill despite all the evidence that something was wrong.

I think the board should make some kind of effort at truth and reconciliation, and offer amnesty of sorts to teachers and school administrators who come forward and testify to the wrongs they have witnessed and were enlisted in committing. Diorio was not the only administrator (or family) who was lied to by Churchill admins. If she had found colleagues and gone beyond Churchill, she could have prevented a lot of damage to families like ours, and given many teachers the ability to sleep at night years into the future. To me, this is her main fault, that she did not complain about the unprofessional direction from above until she was called to the carpet.

Make no mistake, though, opmany others at the school site levels coukd say the same, and I can only hope this situation demonstrates to teachers and staff, finally, the downsides if silence and failing to do the right thing.

Because at the start of every one of these situations is a student and family who have cried "Help" and a failure of staff to honor that plea, work with people, treat them as they would want to be treated. From what I have observed, the responsibility goes back to certain persons in the district office who unfortunately have created a terrible culture that perpetuates itself as every teacher or school administrator who does what they are told then became culpable.

The opportunity here is to allow Diorio redemption by understanding her charge against the district office, and giving site staff the opportunity to share their own experiences, and the district to make amends. Because unless they do, the damage wrought by some of those administrators who themselves bailed without consequence, will continue long into the future. There is still a lot under the rug that will hit the fan unless the whole of the district is willing to face the truth and make amends. It can happen in this career-ending way that Diorio decries, or it can hapoen in a redemptive way, in which people take responsibility to stand up for what is right, speak up about wrongs, apologize and make amends. That would give everyone a fresh slate, and a chance to avoid past mistakes.

Diorio's blaming of things on her superiors is in my experience, completely on point. So is the disturbing fact that district personnel including Diorio, remained silent as they were badly used by their superiors. The best thing that can come out if this is sunlight on those superiors and what they have wrought in our district for years. I hope now the teaching and other staff see that the dark side of their silence.

Board: call for truth and reconciliation. Call for all staff and employees, families current and past, to share their concerns about things they were asked to do that didn't seem right. If you had done this at so many important times in the past, you would not now be scapegoating a decent administrator whose greatest mistakes flowed from following orders. (There's one for the next history lesson...) teachers, you should not wait for the Board to do this, you can support Diorio and whomever comes next - from plenty under the rug - from being made responsible for the ills of leadership.

Yuri, things woukd have been solved a long time ago if there had been sunlight on these Churchill administrators. Absent it, the problems continue. The real estate agents shoukd be for truth and reconciliation.


Skelly is laughing
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2018 at 1:41 pm
Skelly is laughing, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2018 at 1:41 pm

PAUSD has been bleeding principals in the last 10 years, and just following orders is no excuse, that will be a good lesson for Diorio, who was a 4-year rookie, and only put in after PAEA took out Winston. Look who was really responsible, and how they have continued to benefit: Kevin Skelly, perhaps the worst superintendent in PAUSD history, is in San Mateo collecting another $300K per year, Charles Young--is there any doubt about this man?--is the superintendent of Benicia, and Holly Wade has found a Skelly-like gig in Cabrillo. [Portion removed.] This doesn't yet look like we have turned a corner. I see from Hendricks that Chuck Merritt has been driven to retirement, Tom Jacoubowsky has been forced to return to his "love of teaching," and Barbara Harris in the district office is finally leaving the district after being in essentially a made-up district office position. Can this get any worse?


Mom
Walter Hays School
on Mar 10, 2018 at 2:40 pm
Mom, Walter Hays School
on Mar 10, 2018 at 2:40 pm

@Skelly is laughing . . . I am laughing at your humorous posting, thank you! All so true.

We're having issues with the new Jordan principal, Valerie Royaltey-Quandt. Wonder what her connection was. I don't think she enjoys children, as she is running it like a Catholic school.




A Parent
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 10, 2018 at 3:25 pm
A Parent, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 10, 2018 at 3:25 pm

"Can this get any worse?"

Not sure I see what the problem is. PAUSD had a thick layer of weak administrators; many good people left. As often handles, finally there were intolerable scandals, and things are cleaned up. There has been unprecedented senior turnover in the district office and secondary schools the last two years - only a handful of senior people remain. That's probably necessary, but not sufficient. Now the board needs to bring in a superintendent who can build a management team and change a culture.


Yuri
another community
on Mar 10, 2018 at 6:03 pm
Yuri, another community
on Mar 10, 2018 at 6:03 pm

If you are a student, parent, or teacher, you are not laughing. That is the problem. Your excellent schools are being dragged down by fly by night folks who are just playing hopscotch on your child's head.


StartFresh
Palo Alto High School
on Mar 10, 2018 at 9:35 pm
StartFresh, Palo Alto High School
on Mar 10, 2018 at 9:35 pm

If this is a general house cleaning of all the bad actors before a new Superintendent is hired, then I’m all for it.

No point passing problems onto the new guy. Let him/her focus on setting a new direction and building an organization that works.

Why waste a year finding and fixing problems we know of already. Start fresh.


Truth and Reconciliation
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2018 at 10:37 pm
Truth and Reconciliation, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2018 at 10:37 pm

Unfortunately, not all the bad apples are gone, or people who have motivation for CYA unless there is truth and reconciliation. You know what they saupy bout one bad apple. By my count, at least three remain.


Truth and Reconciliation
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 11, 2018 at 4:34 pm
Truth and Reconciliation, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 11, 2018 at 4:34 pm
Truth and Reconciliation
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 11, 2018 at 11:34 pm
Truth and Reconciliation, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 11, 2018 at 11:34 pm

[Portion removed.] The people who participated in the awful immoral, damaging behavior of the past will only perpeuate the CYA culture as long as they continue to be rewarded and never held to account at the highest levels. McGee did not clean house, he was dragged down by it. We still have too many of the old guard. What happened with Diorio should never have happened, just as what happened to other student and family victims of our top administrators should not. If you are a teacher or staff and want to protect Diorio, and you have something to say about unethical or illegal or even just concerning things that didn't feel right that the upper management asked you to go along with, tell the Weekly or the OCR now.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

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