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.
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.