School board to discuss Title IX; new school names

Tuesday's meeting will also cover superintendent search, resolution on gun control

Two hot-button issues in the community will come before the Palo Alto Board of Education for discussion on Tuesday night: the school district's handling of sexual misconduct and the renaming of two middle schools.

The board will hear an update on the district's work to comply with state and federal law and board policy in responding to incidents of sexual harassment and violence.

The district's new full-time Title IX coordinator, Megan Farrell, will present a report. Farrell was brought on this fall after several months of public upheaval over a report of student sexual assault at Palo Alto High School.

The district is also under federal monitoring for past Title IX violations and is obligated to make a series of policy and other changes under a resolution agreement with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, the result of a yearslong investigation into cases involving both students and staff at Paly and Gunn High School.

Among the agency's findings was the district's failure to follow its own policy requirement to record all reported cases of sexual harassment. A Uniform Complaint Procedure log is now posted on the district website and updated weekly. Farrell's report notes there have been 144 complaints since August, the majority at the elementary schools.

Her report also cites "upcoming initiatives" including a Title IX investigation training "bootcamp," "collaborating with sites to implement consistent and compliant investigation protocols" and the need for an administrator on special assignment or full-time investigator to handle complaints.

Renaming schools

A committee charged with coming up with new names for Terman and Jordan middle schools has recommended eight names for the board's consideration. The board voted last year to rename the two schools because of their namesakes' promotion of eugenics.

The committee has recommended the following individuals as possible names: Ellen Fletcher, Frank Greene, Jr., William Hewlett, Edith Johnson, Fred Yamamoto and Anna Zschokke. (Read more about the individuals here.)

"These inspiring people have demonstrated passion, vision, and a public legacy of significant contributions to our local community," the committee wrote in a report.

There's an "especially strong consensus" on the 13-member committee, however, for naming one of the schools after Yamamoto, a Palo Alto High School graduate who was in the Japanese internment camps during World War II. The report describes him as "a youth leader who inspired others with his devotion to equality and community" and a "decorated solider" who was "killed in action fighting for American ideals of democracy and justice."

The committee also came up with two geographic names "inspired by the natural settings near each campus": Adobe Creek for Terman and Redwood Grove for Jordan.

The committee is recommending that the board choose individuals' names over geographic locations.

"While accepting the fact that people are not perfect, members agreed that their inspirational stories would be beneficial," the report states. "While support for geographical names was mixed, the group worked to ensure that at least one geographical name for each middle school was included."

The committee solicited more than 1,600 name ideas from the public through an online and written survey. Committee members did not submit ideas to avoid conflict of interest. They reviewed the list and narrowed it down through "rigorous" discussion and voting.

In addition to policy requirements for naming district facilities and encouragement from the school board to include "innovation, inclusion and integrity" as criteria, the committee chose people who had a strong local connection and "inspirational" legacies. The committee refrained from recommending living people or names that would cause confusion with nearby schools or facilities.

More biographical information about each of the recommended individuals can be found in the committee's report.

In other business Tuesday, the board will discuss creating a community advisory committee to aid in the selection of the district's new superintendent; and a resolution calling for legislative action related to gun control in the wake of a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, among other items.

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the district office, 25 Churchill Ave. View the full agenda here.


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50 people like this
Posted by PAUSD family
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 12, 2018 at 3:00 pm

What a hot mess the School District is in right now and they make renaming schools a priority? Teachers have to return their 3% pay increases to the district so they can waste money and time on this drivel. Honestly, PAUSD shame on you!

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Barron Park

on Mar 12, 2018 at 4:39 pm

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

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of College Terrace

on Mar 12, 2018 at 4:50 pm

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

26 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2018 at 5:48 pm

If this renaming is going ahead for the sake of sanity it will have to be geographic and not after an individual.

Nobody wants to go through this again when something not thought about now becomes unPC.

Waste of time and money, but keep it geographic if it must go ahead. I still think the idea should be abandoned now that McGee has gone.

4 people like this
Posted by Jean
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 12, 2018 at 6:19 pm

I think that Jordan should be renamed Hugh Center, in memory of Hugh Center who was so important to students. He was after all, Mr. Jordan Dolphin!

7 people like this
Posted by Old Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 12, 2018 at 7:28 pm

Why not rename it Gordan? That way only one letter will need replacing.

6 people like this
Posted by Hawaiian Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2018 at 7:46 pm

At least General Yamamoto opposed the invasion of China. As a team name, the Yamamoto Zeroes has a nice ring to it.

20 people like this
Posted by Yuri
a resident of another community
on Mar 13, 2018 at 6:02 am

A well done display in the front office that summarizes David Starr Jordan's accomplishments and his defunct theories on the human species would be great. Could even include an electronic message board for stakeholders to post comments. All completed for well under the very low ball 50K figure the district is selling. Educate, don't erase. Jordan the building is falling apart in many places and the money is needed to fix the crumbling infrastructure.

12 people like this
Posted by TorreyaMan
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 13, 2018 at 11:00 am

TorreyaMan is a registered user.

Renaming: Palo Alto politically correct; totally unnecessary.

2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2018 at 11:21 am

Posted by TorreyaMan, a resident of Palo Verde

>> Renaming: Palo Alto politically correct; totally unnecessary.

Since you like to use Fox News favorite "politically correct", I assume that you are "virtue signalling". As for "totally unnecessary": you don't define what is "necessary" and what isn't. There was an interesting article about Terman in the Stanford Alumni magazine:

"During the 1930s, as the brutality of Nazi policies and the scientific errors of eugenic doctrines became clearer, the eugenics movement withered in the United States and Terman inched away from his harshest views. Later in life, he told friends he regretted some of his statements about "inferior races." But unlike several prominent intelligence-testers, such as psychologist Henry Goddard and sat creator Carl Brigham, Terman never publicly recanted."

It makes for interesting reading. Web Link

14 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 13, 2018 at 11:43 am

Crescent Park Mom is a registered user.

Geographic Names! Where do I vote on this over names?

3 people like this
Posted by A Parent
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 13, 2018 at 12:00 pm

@cp mom, email the school board to Board@pausd. Org. They are the only ones that vote.

19 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2018 at 12:38 pm

In the last 100 years or so exactly only one university has succeeded to reach the highest level of prestigious universities in the world, to stand tall, in every aspect, side-by-side with Harvard, and arguably to have surpassed the latter's 300-year old nemesis - Yale.

This is one of the most amazing achievement in the history of education, especially for an institution that started absolutely from scratch.

David Jordan set the foundation for this amazing achievement. He overcame many challenges, including the near bankruptcy of Stanford, the recruitment of quality faculty members, and the caring of students. Can you imagine how hard it is to recruit professors going west, to a no-name small institution called Stanford, where cows and horses are roaming around student classrooms?

Many other institutions started at or before Stanford, Santa Clara University, USC, Dominican University, etc. Even more have failed and you never heard of them anymore.

For Stanford to not only have survived, thrived, but also exceeded perhaps most ambitious prospects people at that time dreamed of, David Jordan's leadership is indisputably the most important factor.

Without Stanford there would have been no Silicon Valley, no Palo Alto as it is today.

It is very sad that Palo Altans collectively have chosen to abandon its heritage, to disown the pioneers represented by Jordan and Terman, who, while flawed, have set the foundation for this community, have made enormous contributions to this land, to our culture, and to the advancement of human civilization.

3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2018 at 2:12 pm

In re: Jane Lathrop Stanford and David Starr Jordan:

Article #1 in

Article #2 in

Interesting reading.

7 people like this
Posted by Concerned Observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2018 at 2:12 pm

Concerned Observer is a registered user.

It doesn't matter what anyone thinks about this. The board has already made up it's mind to grease the squeaky wheel that started this fiasco. Keeping the existing names is a pipe dream.

12 people like this
Posted by Nancy
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Mar 13, 2018 at 2:55 pm

Seize the moment. Use this moment as an educational opportunity instead of wasting money on window dressing. Put the money into computers or infrastructure for the schools. Changing the school names will not benefit the students going forward.

3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2018 at 5:11 pm

[Post removed.]

8 people like this
Posted by Jordan Parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 13, 2018 at 5:31 pm

If they are going to do this absolute money waste of time, please stick with names that are not people such as North Palo Alto Middle, etc. I can not believe they are recommending people. My kid spent two class periods trying to recommend names. Hope they made it a learning point but I think they talked about stupid names like Michael Jordan, etc.
Wise up Palo Alto - small special interest groups are running the town and threatening bias so we have to jump through hoops to please them. Their committee to recommend the change were the same people that lobbied for the change.

4 people like this
Posted by Waste of resources
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2018 at 5:36 pm

To save on money to replace signs every few decades, since eventually someone is going to be offended by something someone did regardless of any name anyone could possibly conceive to rename any school, why not just use the numbering method from New York City?

Public School 1
Public School 2
Public School 3
Public School 4

etc but skip 13 of course because it is 'unlucky'

Or assign some random number. The renaming exercise is ridiculous anyway.

1 person likes this
Posted by Yuri
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2018 at 6:24 am

Be careful "Waste of Resources". If you number the middle schools there will be a fight over which school gets to be #1. The implications are enormous, especially if you are selling or buying homes. Why would you buy a house near #3 when you could buy near #1? Maybe the district can use the Niche rankings that former sup McGee was so much in love with to number the middle schools. I think that would make Terman #1, JLS #2, and the stepchild Jordan a lowly #4. It would be a crime, would it not, to call Terman #3 when it is ranked #1, or Jordan #3 when it is actually ranked #4 statewide by the education experts at Niche? Could the board come up with a velcro system so the building numbers can be shifted with the Niche rankings? Let's form a committee!

Like this comment
Posted by Yuri
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2018 at 6:51 am

[Post removed.]

2 people like this
Posted by Yuri
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2018 at 3:05 pm

I guess you could name Jordan "California St. Middle School". But then again, California was "acquired" from Mexico in a war of conquest. When the Mexican government refused to sell California (plus Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and parts of Colorado) for 15 million, the United States invaded Mexico. The Mexican government was convinced to sell three years later because the U.S. military threatened to raze Mexico City if a sale was not closed. Congressman Abraham Lincoln (a bipartisan hero these days) condemned the war as an act of aggression intended to spur the spread of slavery into the southwest.

The point is this: even places are subject to political scrutiny. Maybe the solution is to call Jordan "A Building with Opportunities for Adolescents to Achieve Learning Targets". A bit lengthy, but no messy controversy, I think.

Like this comment
Posted by Res
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 19, 2018 at 4:02 pm

If you ought to name after a person, after one who is well-known, less controversial. If the one has been against from the beginning, what is the point to use it, getting another renaming process?

2 people like this
Posted by a parent from Jordan middle school
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 19, 2018 at 5:02 pm

Some facts here:
1. When people suggest that we could keep Terman to honor Fred Terman, who is "widely credited(together with William Shockley) as being father of Silicon Valley"(Wikipedia), there is objection says that the last name could be misleading.
2. Now the rename committee proposes Fred Yamamoto. I appreciate what Fred did for the country, and I understand that Yamamoto is a common Japanese last name. But go
google it, 3 out of 5 is aboubt "Isoroku Yamamoto" . Now there is no concern about misleading last name? Do we have double standard?

There is no perfect person. Why don't we use places, tree as the name. I don't think students in Palo Alto high is less inspired than students from Gunn high.
Let's not use our emergency fund to rename a school again!

2 people like this
Posted by a parent from Jordan middle school
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 19, 2018 at 5:08 pm

What a renaming mess!
Why don't we just use "Jordan Middle School" and "Terman Middle School" and let the kids decide which "Jordan" and "Terman" inspires them the most. Do they all need to have the same person to inspire them?

2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2018 at 5:28 pm

Here is a link to a petition to not rename the schools after a person. Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by kids
a resident of another community
on Mar 20, 2018 at 11:19 am

kids is a registered user.

They should just have it no name and just a symbol. Good luck with that too I guess. How about calling it after furniture. Furniture never did anything wrong. Table school and Chair school. Counter school or easy chair school won't work. How about ottoman. nope. darn. seems there is something wrong with every name. oh well. good to take minds off the actual thing they should be doing which is securing the physical safety of the schools with protocols just to tighten things up. maybe Floor school.... hi, where do you go to school? I go to school on the Floor. Just give each school a symbol with a contest for the kids that are there now and be careful they are not representative of anything and that will do.

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

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