Details emerge about investigation of East Palo Alto preschool director

Ravenswood Child Development Center flagged by state for safety violations

One month prior to her retirement last summer, the director of the Ravenswood City School District's preschool was formally disciplined for releasing the wrong child to an unauthorized adult, according to documents the district released in response to a Public Records Act request from the Palo Alto Weekly.

Glenda Savage, who was hired as director of the Child Development Center (CDC) in 2015, "showed a complete disregard for student welfare and safety" in her handling of the June 2017 incident, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services Ruth Woods wrote in a letter of reprimand.

Woods found that Savage had mistakenly released a girl to a man who had arrived to pick up a different student with the same first name. The correct child was enrolled at a different school altogether, has a different last name and is a different age than the child who was released, according to Woods' investigation.

The incident prompted a site visit from the California Department of Social Services' licensing division, which found safety violations at the Child Development Center.

Savage did not return several requests for comment. In a statement she wrote the day after the incident, Savage did not take responsibility for the mistake but instead suggested the child's teacher was at fault for releasing the student.

This is the first time details have been provided about the incident that led to Savage's departure from the Child Development Center, which is again experiencing turmoil as budget cuts have forced the district to close the preschool this summer. (San Mateo County is currently negotiating with the state to find a new provider to serve the more than 100 students enrolled there.)

Community members have also publicly questioned the district's hiring of Savage, who is Board of Education Vice President Sharifa Wilson's domestic partner, as part of growing criticism of Superintendent Gloria Hernandez-Goff's leadership — and in particular, as evidence for an alleged pattern of favoritism. During Hernandez-Goff's tenure, her husband, son and granddaughter have worked for the district in various capacities. Her son is still employed as a data quality support technician in the district office and her husband oversees volunteers for a food distribution program.

The district investigated the safety incident last summer, reviewing statements from Savage, incident reports from CDC staff members who were present and meeting with the parent of the child who was mistakenly released.

Last June, a man arrived at the Child Development Center at 951 O'Connor St. in East Palo Alto and gave Savage the last name of a sick child he was picking up early, according to a statement Savage provided to the district. He was on the phone with the child's parent, his co-worker, Savage said. She attempted to call the child's mother, who speaks Spanish and did not understand English. A staff member called the mother, who relayed the room number her child was in, according to Savage's statement.

Savage said she asked for and made a copy of the man's driver's license, complying with procedure spelled out in the CDC parent handbook. The man was not, however, an authorized adult to whom the student could be released.

Under board policy, students at the Child Development Center can only be released during the school day to their parents, guardians, adults authorized to pick them up on the students' emergency cards, authorized law enforcement officers or adults taking a child to emergency medical care. Staff are required to ask any such person, if unknown to the staff member, to present a photo identification before picking up a child.

Savage requested the child's first and last name and started looking for the student's file but "became distracted" by other parents in the preschool's office, Woods wrote. Savage wrote the student's name on an early-release slip and sent the man — who also had not signed in with Savage on a sheet at the front office — to the child's classroom.

"I instructed him to hand the form to (the teacher) and if that was not the right child or 'if you don't recognize (redacted name), to come back to the office,'" Savage said in her statement. "When he arrived back in the office he had the child with him and said 'I do not know this child.'"

Savage said the man never left the preschool campus with the girl, but the student's mother disputed that. She said someone told her the man took her child to his car before returning to the preschool's office, according to Woods' report. The mother said she learned this after Savage had told her "there was nothing to worry about," she told Woods. The mother said she then called the office to speak with Savage, but Savage had left for the day.

"I feel like she really didn't care about my child and my child's safety," the mother told Woods.

As a result of the incident, the California Department of Social Services's Community Care Licensing division visited the Child Development Center on June 19. The agency found two "Type A" deficiencies, which "if not corrected, represent an immediate risk to the health, safety or personal rights of children in care."

The agency determined a child was released to an unauthorized adult and that the preschool did not report the incident as required within 24 hours to the Department of Social Services.

The Child Development Center agreed to enter a one-year compliance plan with the state licensing division, committing the facility to a series of corrective actions. The district promised to provide ongoing training to "repeatedly emphasize the importance of personal rights and active supervision," a Community Care Licensing division document states.

The district also agreed to revise the Child Development Center's parent and staff handbooks by the end of October to include protocol for early releases and any special circumstances; to talk with students about "strangers" and notifying staff; and to provide notes for staff meetings that took place after the incident.

The CDC was also required to post a notice describing the violations for the next 30 days and inform all new enrolling parents about them for one year following the report.

This "potentially tarnishes the reputation of the program, placing the CDC at risk of being unable to attract new enrollees" and "subjects the district to unwanted scrutiny, potentially jeopardizing the licensure of the facility/program," Woods wrote in the discipline letter.

Woods directed Savage to comply with all district procedures and policies and licensing regulations as well as to find and complete a district-approved training on the safety and welfare of young children.

Though Woods also recommended to Hernandez-Goff that Savage be suspended without pay for five days, that discipline was never implemented, said Janae Novotny, a district attorney. She declined to state why, citing the confidentiality of personnel issues.

"There are things that happened between the investigation and (when) she eventually retired," Novotny said of Savage.

A copy of Savage's reprimand letter was placed in her file.

Savage signed a notice of retirement on Aug. 28, 2017.

Before her hiring, Savage had served as a consultant for the CDC, according to her resume. In that role, she developed a "long-term compliance plan" and helped staff develop special-education curriculum and materials. She is also the founder of the Children's Preservation Network, which provided infant and toddler care in East Palo Alto, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the East Palo Alto Sanitary District.


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43 people like this
Posted by Glenda is Lying
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 20, 2018 at 8:00 am

The child was taken all the way to the car. The man picking up the child did not know the student he was picking up. It was the student's teacher who got concerned because the student had a younger brother and he was no picking him up and usually they get picked up at the same time. The teacher is the one who should be thanked for because if it was not for her things could have gotten even worst. I cannot believe the district was paying this lady as a consultant before her hiring. this is one of the reasons our district got into a financial crisis. Glenda got hired because Board Member Sharifa Willson asked Ms. Hernandez if she could hire her. For this reason, Ms. Hernandez is always sure she is going to get a vote from Sharifa. Furthermore, Ana & Marcelino, are not leaders but followers and they always vote the way Wilson votes. This is why we need new people on the board. Most of the present board members are corrupted and are manipulated by Wilson and Hernandez. Wilson is no longer doing her job, but paying back to Hernandez for all the time Glenda got a paycheck from the district. Where can voters complaint about corrupted board members? There must be somebody who disciplines them. She shall be recalled. Time for a change.

41 people like this
Posted by Glenda is Lying
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 20, 2018 at 10:17 am

I forgot to say that Glenda is also lying when she said that the parent speaks Spanish, actually the parent is fluent in English. Good try Glenda it did not work. Ms. Wood is also guilty of not talking to everyone involved in the incident. She shall have talked to the student's teacher or take her side of the story. She could have told her that the person picking up the child and he took the female student all the way to the car, and even put the belt on her. Obviously, she believed everything because she did not want the district to look bad and because Glenda is a domestic partner of Ms. Wilson, and is protected by Ms. Hernandez. This is clear corruption. How much longer are we going to put up with Gloria Hernandez and board members corruption?

27 people like this
Posted by Community
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 20, 2018 at 11:24 am

That’s why we are protesting yesterday because we need to throw out this corrupt district it’s not fair they point the finger to others people and they don’t get they responsavility for they errors they are corrupts
We need the support of the community and parents to trow out this people please support the boycot on Wednesday April 25 all Ravenswood schools tu put out this people and support the protest on Thursday April 26 at 5 pm on San Francis church and march to the meeting on district we need support to trow this bad people
Boycot Ravenswood don’t sent kids school on Wednesday

26 people like this
Posted by Katie
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 20, 2018 at 2:40 pm

Just a couple of concerns.
1. This mother should have been more responsible in getting someone who was on the child’s emergency card to go pick up her child. Why was her coworker able to go and she wasn’t? This could have been very traumatizing to the sick child to have a stranger pick her up from school.
2. Mistakes do happen on the parts of school sometimes BUT this was absolutely inexcusable. The person was not on the authorized. The directors responsibility goes above the teachers so it was very wrong of Her to blame the teachers. How could she not have checked the child’s last name??
3. If the mother only spoke Spanish why didn’t the director find a staff who speaks Spanish to translate?
4. This is just another example of the deceitful ways that are plaguing the school district. Another reason for the leadership needing to change. It’s not about politics, it’s about being honest and transparent with the community and families of the schools in the district. It’s about our future generations’ education.

21 people like this
Posted by Sharifa Wilson is Corrupted
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 20, 2018 at 5:42 pm

Sharifa shall be recalled, it will cost the city some money, but it is better to do it now than wait for her to keep voting on behalf of Gloria Hernandez and not on the students because she owes Gloria too many favors. favor for hiring her domestic partner and for not firing her right away after she was found at fault, also for closing the CDC because the three of them were angry to the teacher and parents who called licensing and cooperated with the investigation. It was a good way to retaliate and they thaught no one will noticed, but parents and teachers are smart. If Sharifa goes the rest of the board members will get the message that it is not okay to ignore the community and get mad at them for coming to the board to explain their opinions. Things will get better without her the other board members act like puppets and have no mind of their own to do what is right. How come they were not the ones who ask to have the Bell Principal issue agendize? If it was not because trustee Gaona-Mendoza asked for it, they would not even consider it. We have seen how they treat Gaona-Mendoza when she speaks up, they make faces, rolled their eyes and ask her to stop talking even the attorney who is advising the superintendent right on the spot treats Ms. Gaona-Mendoza without respect. One example of this is how they have not answered Ms. Gaona's Request to put the issue int he agenda when she asked for it a while ago. I am wonder how long do they have to respond when a request like this is made.
Also, Ms. Hernandez is so scared she needs one attorney by her side and another one on the audience. What a way to spend our tax dollars.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of South of Midtown

on Apr 20, 2018 at 6:25 pm

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

18 people like this
Posted by CDC Employee
a resident of another community
on Apr 21, 2018 at 9:18 am

While Glenda worked here, she was disrespectful to teachers, employees, and parents. She was often absent or came late. We were left at our own, and then when she came she messed up, and this was not the only incident, but this was the was the worst. She shall have never been hired in the first place since she did not have the proper credentials. They told us she was the director, and now we came to know that she was not one and to help her get the job they called her something else, but she did get paid the salary of a director. Shame on the district administrators and board members who do not care about the students only on themselves. How can Gloria and Bonilla say that we are doing better, are they blind and deaf?. Glenda also force a great teacher to retire, when she did not wanted to.

18 people like this
Posted by Another member for community united for...
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 21, 2018 at 9:21 am

Another member for community united for... is a registered user.

Elena, you’re amazing. I can’t believe you got the facts of this incident out. Thank you for bringing us transparency since when the Gloria and the board members don’t do it.

15 people like this
Posted by Glenda is Lying
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 21, 2018 at 12:53 pm

It seems to me that one of the reasons Glenda was not suspended from work for putting the student in danger, was because she is Sharifa's domestic partner and this is why Hernandez gave her a break. This is corruption. Both Sharifa and Hernandez shall leave, but I know they won't because they are getting good part of the pie (money).

9 people like this
Posted by What's Next
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2018 at 9:42 am

Gloria's way of working surprises me every day. The news about her and Ravenswood School District are more and more disappointing. What will be next? And Bonilla says that the district is doing better and that the kids are more prepared for high school, but that is not what M-A, Sequoia, Woodside and Carlmont says.

5 people like this
Posted by Denise
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2018 at 3:57 pm

Wouldn’t it be nice if those people like Rubin Abrica, who lives in the pocket of Sobrato his Father in law, could just be truthful and admit he is behind all of this, as he attempts to take over the School District property. For those in the community that are aware that Sobrato’s daughter is married to Rubin’s Stepson. I would love to be a fly on the wall during your Thanksgiving Family dinners, as the two of you discuss how you are going to plot ways to divide up our school district property.

Thank you Director Wilson and our great Superintendent Hernandez for not giving into the Sobrato and Abrica scheme to take over our Ravenswood School District.

Regarding Glenda Savage, I heard Salinas the teacher in room 4 was responsible for releasing this child, Savage took the hit since she was the Site Supervisors. Prior to Savage, the State would have closed the program, I heard she help keep it open for three more years. Just the facts!

9 people like this
Posted by Staff member
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2018 at 8:49 pm

As a staff member of CDC I know for a fact that the protocol is that the person in the office is in charge of checking ID when a child is being picked up. If the person isn’t recognized, then it is the responsibility of the staff at the office to make sure the person is authorized to pick the child up. Let’s think through this situation logically.
1) The fellow that was picking up the girl was at the wrong school, so there is no way he should have been recognized.
2) He surely could not have asked what room the girl was in considering he had never been there.
3) He did not ask to pick up the girl’s brother who was also a student at the school.
4) He was not aware, nor was he told to sign the early/late pick up binder in the office, which is protocol!!!
5) Additionally, the kids were napping, so any parents must check in and be cleared in the office before they can pick up their child.
All of these are flags, somebody should be checked for ID, and yet Glenda never asked and let the man through. The teacher, trusting the authority of the coordinator was suspicious and asked the man if his documentation had been checked at the office. He told her he did. The person at fault is not the teacher, but Glenda, the coordinator. Earning 80k per year without credentials, Glenda had more to lose. I’m sure she tried to throw the teacher under the bus, but due to her failing to follow protocol and failing to report within 24 hours, it is clear she was at fault.

9 people like this
Posted by Shame on you
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Apr 24, 2018 at 9:19 pm

Yet still racking money from education funds. Savage still got away with it and her mayor accomplishment, to get retirement!!
It is such a covenant among Gloria’s administration to watch each other’s back. Shame in all of you board members who put their ambitions before the children’s education in our community.
The good thing about all this is that everything is coming up to light can steal but you can’t HIDE.

11 people like this
Posted by In response to "Denise" :
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 24, 2018 at 10:06 pm

Your accusations are very irrational and immature.

First, the "scheme" that you have put forth is an incomplete argument. The land still belongs to the district and so no scheme would be possible in the first place because Sobrato would not be able to purchase the land. It is unfair for anyone to attack the personal relations of someone as highly respected, or anyone for that matter, without any evidence. You lack any precision whatsoever in your accusation.

Secondly, Ms. Salinas had no other choice but to allow the child to leave with this man as Savage personally wrote a confirmation. It is very unfortunate that she failed to posses thoroughness in her duty of keeping the children at CDC safe. She did not just "take the hit" for this. She was directly involved in the incident and placed the child in dire danger. It is a miracle that the child was safely returned AFTER she was taken to the parking lot with a complete stranger, as reported by several witnesses. Again, your accusation–like Savage's responsiblity at the CDC– lacks any thorughness.

Unless your argument lacked several syllables and clauses, please refrain from wrongly accusing people who do their jobs and actually care for the children. The chldren should be at the center of this.

Like this comment
Posted by Say Nay To Gentrification
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2018 at 11:38 pm

No matter where people in power are always currupted taking advantage of the system and favoritism exist even in areas where you least expect it. It's a phucking joke how millions of dollars in taxes get spent in shitty teachers and the poor educational system still stinks. Charter Schools are not always the good option it's another excuse for the city not to pay for schools. Everything still remains the same city employees and government employees milking the system to get paid and do nothing.

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

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