New principals named for Paly, Escondido, Fairmeadow schools

Appointments subject to approval by Board of Education

Update: The school board unanimously approved these appointments on Tuesday, May 22, as part of consent-calendar items that are approved routinely without discussion.

The school district announced Friday new principals for Palo Alto High School and Escondido and Fairmeadow elementary schools.

Adam Paulson. Image courtesy Palo Alto High School.
Their appointments are subject to approval by the Board of Education.

Adam Paulson, currently the assistant principal of teaching and learning at Paly, has been named the school's permanent principal. He will replace Principal Kim Diorio, who recently announced she would resign at the end of the school year after taking a sudden medical leave in February.

Paulson was recently appointed acting principal after an interim principal brought in temporarily in Diorio's absence left due his grandchild's birth.

Paulson takes over Paly during turbulent times, with faculty who supported Diorio in upheaval over her departure and some parents still concerned about the administration's improper handling of two cases of student sexual assault in recent years. Some parents have urged the district against appointing Paulson as principal given he was involved in one of the cases.

Diorio said she planned to return to work this spring but has not yet. The school year ends in two weeks. Interim Superintendent Karen Hendricks said there will be an "update" this week on Diorio but did not provide further information.

Paulson has worked in the Paly administration since 2014, when he was hired as the school's dean of students. In his current role, he oversees student activities, attendance, academic integrity, blended learning, technology and other areas, according to the Paly website.

Paulson began his career as a paraprofessional in Colorado, working with students with special needs, and went on to work as a history teacher, elementary school principal and middle school assistant principal in California, according to a district announcement.

At Escondido Elementary School, the principal of a Mountain View dual-immersion school will take over for retiring Principal Chuck Merritt. Escondido houses the district's Spanish immersion program.

Marcela Simões de Carvalho is currently the principal of Gabriela Mistral Elementary School in the Mountain View/Whisman School District. Mistral opened in 2015, splitting off a dual immersion program from Castro Elementary School, where she had been assistant principal. She is Mistral's first principal.

Simões de Carvalho was one of four Mountain View principals suddenly removed by the school board in March.

She is fluent in Spanish and has worked in education for more than 20 years, including 12 years in administrative roles including program manager, director of categorical and English learner programs, assistant principal and principal, according to the district. She has also taught part time at San Jose State University, preparing teacher candidates in literacy, multicultural and bilingual education, and instructing graduate courses on early literacy and language acquisition.

Simões de Carvalho was born in Argentina but was raised in Palo Alto, where she attended Barron Park Elementary School, Terman Middle School and Gunn High School.

At Fairmeadow Elementary School, a JLS Middle School administrator will be taking over as principal. Iris Wong, who has been an assistant principal and dean of students at JLS for the last three years, will replace Principal Grant Althouse, who is moving out of the area.

Wong is currently the eighth-grade assistant principal at JLS.

Prior to Palo Alto, Wong spent nine years as an elementary teacher and administrative teacher on special assignment in the Cupertino Union School District.

At the schools, committees made of up teachers, staff, parents and at Paly, students, interviewed candidates, said Anne Brown, interim assistant superintendent of human resources. The committees then recommended their picks to Hendricks, who conducted a second round of interviews with three members of her cabinet, Brown said.

Other impending leadership vacancies have yet to be filled, including at Hoover Elementary School, where Principal Katy Bimpson is moving to lead Juana Briones Elementary School. The district's chief budget official, Cathy Mak, also plans to retire in the fall.

The school board will vote on the new appointments this Tuesday, May 22.


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77 people like this
Posted by Christina Owen
a resident of College Terrace
on May 18, 2018 at 1:51 pm

What a FANTASTIC and inspired choice for Paly. Way to go, PAUSD school board. So very happy and proud to see this courageous choice.

6 people like this
Posted by Old Timer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 18, 2018 at 1:58 pm

The superintendent appoints principals, not the school board. The board eventually "accepts" them, but it is a rubber stamp. Ms. Hendricks deserves the credit (or the blame) for these appointments.

24 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 18, 2018 at 2:29 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

How is this an "inspired" or courageous choice? This is an administrator implicated in not properly responding to a sexual assault case on the Paly campus.

why did they have Interim Superintendent Karen Hendricks announce this hiring and not have the new Superintendent involved, at least to some degree, in the process? Why not have the new Superintendent have ownership of this hiring? What happens when Paulson's handling of the sexual assault case come out?

Paly's Campanile article today stated that the new Superintendent would interview the two finalists and Paulson stated that they would be announcing the Paly principal in a couple of weeks.
Web Link

43 people like this
Posted by Paly
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 18, 2018 at 2:55 pm

Time for a stable administration at Paly.

38 people like this
Posted by Kathy Jordan
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 18, 2018 at 3:27 pm

Kathy Jordan is a registered user.

Adam Paulson has been implicated by the Nov. 2015 family as ignoring the pleas of the victim, their daughter, who did not feel safe on campus after being sexually assaulted on the quad, and whose schoolwork started going down the drain as a result. These are violations of Title IX and state law as well. Mr. Paulson admitted to the Nov. 2015 father that he and the rest of the PAHS team didn't follow PAUSD policies in place and didn't comply with Title IX by not informing the family of the UCP grievance procedures.

This Nov. 2015 incident was not disclosed by the PAHS team or PAUSD to OCR at the time, although OCR was investigating PAUSD for separate sexual harassment and sexual assault incidents, and PAUSD was obligated to do so. The incident was only disclosed to OCR after it came out in media reports in May 2017.

Cozen has apparently completed a Nov. 2015 report on the incident since mid-March, but PAUSD has so far refused to release it, not even responding to requests to release it, even though us taxpayers will have to pay for it.

According to the family, Mr. Paulson's misconduct and mishandling harmed their daughter, a PAUSD student. How does that record deserve promotion to principal?

If there wasn't any wrongdoing, then why not release Cozen's Nov. 2015 report?

I think PAHS can do better than Adam Paulson. PAUSD can do better also.

124 people like this
Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Community Center
on May 18, 2018 at 4:20 pm

The fact that PAUSD hasn't provided a report to Kathy Jordan doesn't mean they are hiding something. Many student records are private even though they are paid for by taxpayers. In fact, all of them are.

I know that Jordan is also running for the school board. So far I'm not impressed with what I'm seeing.

88 people like this
Posted by Congratulations!
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 18, 2018 at 4:35 pm

Congratulations to Paulson and best wishes!

74 people like this
Posted by Bravo
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 18, 2018 at 5:55 pm

Great choice. Congratulations and good luck, Mr. Paulson

4 people like this
Posted by New OCR Complaint?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2018 at 10:11 pm

Another complaint was recently filed alleging Disability Harassment with the OCR.

Please see Pending cases under investigation by the OCR at Web Link

CA PALO ALTO UNIFIED ESE Disability - Disability Harassment 12/20/2017

What persons on staff at PAUSD are allegedly staff who have contributed yet again to yet another Disability Harassment set of incidents at PAUSD? And does the newspaper have any more details as to what has happened?

90 people like this
Posted by Rmwoods
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2018 at 9:10 am

Kathy Jordan doesn't get it. This community ought to inspect her fascistic tendencies up close during her campaign and decide for themselves whether her brand of intolerance and repeated attacks serve students. [Portion removed.]

36 people like this
Posted by StanGrad
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 19, 2018 at 8:29 pm

Simões de Carvalho was not an effective administrator. As a principal she lacked empathy, good sense, and professionalism. It is a well known fact that she has recently made life hard for some of her teachers, many families, and many students at her former position in the MVWSD. Look at her heavy-handed record of suspending students, "counseling out" kids who weren't performing well, her vexing ideas about curricula, and the astronomical turnover of teachers under her leadership. A good principal needs to be able to work collaboratively with teachers and families and gain their respect. A good principal needs to be able to make decisions based on best practices rather than whims and ignorance. If one isn't willing to learn, they certainly are in no position to rule, or uh, "lead". In this heavily concentrated area of people with real PhD's, it takes a supreme degree of pretension to make teachers and students at your school refer to you as "la doctora"--this is not a joke, my child didn't realize that the "doctora" was actually just the school principal for over a year. Beware PAUSD, you should have done your homework. More importantly, good luck with your new school leader.

79 people like this
Posted by Victim advocate
a resident of Professorville
on May 19, 2018 at 8:46 pm

Kathy Jordan:

You ask "If there wasn't any wrongdoing, then why not release Cozen's Nov. 2015 report?"

Because it is a report that addresses allegations about the sexual assault of a minor that's why. Releasing it would violate numerous federal and state laws as well as all decency and common sense.

Kathy, I am sure you have good intentions but you have been remarkably impervious to information and have hammered away at points that you are just wrong about in terms of law and policy. It is extremely unhelpful to victims of sexual assault for you to be demanding that confidential reports detailing their abuse be publicly released. What that will mean is that victims will be less likely to report because they know that Kathy Jordan will demand a copy of documents that might allow them to be identified and which could subject them to even greater exposure and humiliation. You are not helping victims. If that is your intention, you should stop and be less arrogant. You simply don't know all the things you think you know in this area.

Kathy Jordan is not a person who should be on the school board.

1 person likes this
Posted by Uh huh
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2018 at 9:48 pm

[Post removed.]

29 people like this
Posted by Bad Apple
a resident of Monroe Park
on May 19, 2018 at 10:50 pm

StanGrad sounds pretty accurate about de Carvalho. Maybe that is one of the reasons why Mountain View got rid of her. I hope PAUSD asks some good questions from MVWSD before they confirm her as the new pick for Escondido. Web Link

23 people like this
Posted by Mother of Three
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 20, 2018 at 6:59 am

I"m deeply concerned about Iris Wong leading Fairmeadow Elementary. At JLS she does not appear to understand or have the depth of knowledge of the curriculum standards and content, particularly in math. Any teacher who attempted to clarify her poor showing would be reprimanded which shows poor leadership. I would expect any principal to have a mastery of math. Moving an administrator with such poor understanding of math to the lower schools will only exacerbate the problem as the children advance through the grades.

Her track record and ability to handle bullying at JLS is also very concerning in light of the PAUSD has faced bullying and harassment to date. She does not take parent concerns about it seriously and seems more concerned with covering for the district administration. What is PAUSD thinking? There is also a concern with her understanding of special day classes. She appears to cut people off when she realizes their knowledge on individualized special education plans for students exceeds hers. And these are our most vulnerable children! We need someone who understands our school community and is willing to listen and learn. Surely PAUSD could have done better and found a more qualified candidate. The board should also take a close look at this candidate.

21 people like this
Posted by Play parent
a resident of Midtown
on May 20, 2018 at 9:41 am

Why is Paulson a “good choice”? He was among the administrators who failed to follow federal law and participated in a culture of nontransparency and lack of concern for student victims? (Why force out Diorio just to keep more of the same?) He was also in charge of implementing schoolwide adoption of Chrome-books which was not communicated well (an FAQ sheet posted on the school website) nor did he address questions or concerns about rampant school thefts. (further lack of transparency and communication). As Samuel L. points out, the whole hiring process seems inconsistent.

9 people like this
Posted by Kathy Jordan
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 20, 2018 at 1:01 pm

The Cozen report of the Oct. 2016 did not reveal any sensitive student details. If you haven't read it, here is the link to it:

Web Link

Neither would the Cozen report on the Nov. 2015 incident reveal sensitive student information. PAUSD - release the Cozen Nov. 2015 report.

17 people like this
Posted by DrakeB
a resident of Community Center
on May 20, 2018 at 1:27 pm

Reading these posts, it's amazing that some people just blindly say "nice job" about Paulson's appointment.

Adam Paulson has been implicated in one of the darkest times within our schools --when students were assaulted and administrators looked the other way, and treated the victims as the perpetrators. Many parents warned the School Board to not allow him to be appointed. We need to turn the page on this time, especially during this ere of #metoo.

It's time for transparency in the school district -- and it's time for releasing the reports that we paid for as taxpayers, that will clear the air, one way of the other about Paulson.

We can't trust someone like Paulson until we know all the facts. As a parent who has watched this for years, I'm pleased that someone is standing up for what's right, and that someone is Kathy Jordan. Keep fighting for our children, Kathy. Let's have administrators who will fight for our children as well -- it's really not too much to ask.

What's the School Board hiding? It's time for transparency. Release the report.

2 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Barron Park
on May 20, 2018 at 3:18 pm

[Post removed.]

51 people like this
Posted by Hoover parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 20, 2018 at 5:29 pm

How would Kathy Jordan know if the 2015 report would include student information? Really irresponsible for a prospective school board member. Is this what we could expect from her? Politics over privacy?

24 people like this
Posted by Fond farewell
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 20, 2018 at 6:42 pm

Fond farewell is a registered user.

I just want to say a fond farewell to Grant Armstrong, who was a great principal at Fairmeadow. He related well with both kids and parents, cared a lot about quality teaching and strong curriculum, and worked very hard and held high standards. Thank you for all you did for Fairmeadow and our families!

10 people like this
Posted by Us Too
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2018 at 8:27 am

Sounds like you have an axe to grind. I do not know Kathy Jordan but have only ever witnessed her being a courageous advocate for our students and for what is right.

The district has no problem sharing redacted things, it does so all the time. In fact, it has no problem retaliating against families who complain by releasing poorly redacted information, making things up whole cloth to defame families and make life impossible for them (including the suffering children) in school, and illegally releasing private information verbally through vicious gossip with outsiders. I know, it has hapoened to us, too. The only reason not to release a report at all is kneejerk CYA. There is ZERO inclination to protect any child who has been hurt whose family has had the nerve to complain about mistreatment. There is lots of inclination to scheme to enlist teachers and site employees to further damage.

I do think it speaks well of Mr. Paulson that he admitted that the district failed the victim, so I am keeping an open mind about him. I do think we need to encourage an environment in which employees feel they can and should speak up when something is not right or the district is failing in its moral and legal duties to children. It’s the first step to creating a well-functioning system in which problems are addressed rather than compounded and covered up.

9 people like this
Posted by Curious
a resident of Professorville
on May 21, 2018 at 12:29 pm

Where is Greg Althouse going? He is a Rock Star and the kind of person PAUSD should go the extra mile to keep and promote.

3 people like this
Posted by Fond farewell
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 21, 2018 at 2:19 pm

Fond farewell is a registered user.

Sorry, I meant Grant Althouse :) Doing too many things at once...

He is going to be principal of a middle school in Kentfield (Marin).

11 people like this
Posted by Fact Check
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 21, 2018 at 10:02 pm

Fact Check is a registered user.

@Victim advocate, your facts are inaccurate. The Cozen reports (Ocober 2016) does NOT reveal any names or personal information of the minor children involved. It does, however, reveal the names of the PAUSD staff who handled/mishandled the incident.

So, the privacy/confidentiality of the minor children are protected in these reports. Kathy Jordan, on the other hand, is accurate in stating that "The Cozen report of the Oct. 2016 did not reveal any sensitive student details." and "Neither would the Cozen report on the Nov. 2015 incident reveal sensitive student information. PAUSD - release the Cozen Nov. 2015 report."

I think, as tax payers, we are entitled to learn the truth about how PAUSD violated state and federal laws. If the reports are not released, we will never find out. Since the children's privacy/confidentiality are protected in these reports, releasing the report is an opportunity for the district to learn from its mistakes. Without the truth, how does one improve?

12 people like this
Posted by Upright
a resident of Community Center
on May 21, 2018 at 10:45 pm

If you have a chance to meet Kathy Jordan in person, you’ll see for yourself that she’s the most righteous, selfless, and compassionate candidate. She truly cares about the kids, and she’s not afraid to stand up to the adults in the interest of the children. She gets attacked because some are worried that she will make the district staff do the right things, and the district will resist. Kathy Jordan is exactly what PAUSD needs - someone who is courageous enough to stand up for what is right!

24 people like this
Posted by Escondido
a resident of College Terrace
on May 23, 2018 at 12:42 pm

@StanGrad I disagree with your statement. I spoke with some families who believed some of the teachers put their 'rule the roost' antics on and didn't get their way. The district seemed to behave similarly, as we have seen in their conduct in general and the community outrage that followed. Just read the articles. As far as doctora title, well that is the industry norm, considering the retired former principal was also called Dr.______

31 people like this
Posted by Uh oh . . .
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 23, 2018 at 10:07 pm

Heard that de Carvalho was a poor administrator and did not help bridge the achievement gap especially with spanish speakers. Web Link

Also heard she would not honor scheduled parent meetings since these would be rescheduled and sometimes not happen at all. You would think a leader would not behave this way. Also heard the ELAC group did not even have officers elected until a month and a half ago, not even having a representative for DELAC. Where is the honor of all things sacred to public education? This is not the type of leadership we need. If she had problems closing the achievement gap with spanish speaking students in math and other areas, why do we think things will change in another school or school district?

I read the link about when she and other principals were let go and if she were popular and effective why were there less than a handful of parents speaking on her behalf? The other principals had a ton of support. Something doesn't seem right. I'm afraid of how this will affect the future of all our kids especially with this kind of track record.

[Portion removed.]

23 people like this
Posted by @Uh oh...
a resident of Mountain View
on May 24, 2018 at 10:03 am

You have heard a lot. Perhaps you are in the know as a Mountain View board member?
I know that one particular board member intimidated the Mistral campus and played the parents. That could be why the parents were too scared to come out in support. Why would the parents come out publically and say anything when the board and district are playing games with them and making them think there would be repercussions for their children?

And as far as Mountain View trustees go, there is no pretense that the community is livid with them and their low-level performance. Only less than a handful believe in them and most likely, they will be voted out.

God Bless

12 people like this
Posted by Uh oh . . .
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 24, 2018 at 1:56 pm

@Uh [portion removed] Just remember families move, leave one program for another and they talk.

Therefor, this shouldn't be surprising. Palo Alto is not Mtn. View.

12 people like this
Posted by Wait a Minute
a resident of another community
on May 24, 2018 at 2:46 pm

[Post removed.]

15 people like this
Posted by @Uh oh...
a resident of Mountain View
on May 24, 2018 at 5:30 pm

@Wait a minute
[Portion removed.]
I just know the community was played by a board member and the DO. Parents are trying to hang in there so their kids can get the choice education they started out with in Kindergarten.

The data dates back 10 years, back to when the current assistant superintendent was a rookie principal. Read the comments carefully, they are not complementary to the board or the district. They sabotaged some hard working people in all sorts of ways. It was so obvious.
The current principal greeted the incoming principal with so much grace and class, so much that parents were commenting on it for a whole week and commending the strength. Hillaryesque I might add.

[Portion removed.]

4 people like this
Posted by So Easy
a resident of another community
on May 25, 2018 at 11:19 am

@Uh [Portion removed.] Bottom line de carvalho was looking for a job because she couldn't be a principal anymore at that school. She got this one and good for her.

Life is just life. Some people deal with rejection, adversity differently. Seems this person has a second chance. Let's hope it goes well for the sake of the students.

If it doesn't then there's nothing anyone can say about placing blame on others when we all know the person always accountable for results at a school is The Principal. [Portion removed.]

33 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 25, 2018 at 12:08 pm

[Post removed.]

7 people like this
Posted by Mistral parent
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Mistral parents (both English and Spanish) are not scared to talk, that is a plane lie. Simoes de Carvalho simply didn't have the sympathy of the community at large. Parents are fed up with her inability to do her job, and are taking their children out of the program. Next Fall, 8 families we know are not coming back to Mistral. That should be a huge red flag for PAUSD! [Portion removed.]

3 people like this
Posted by Interested Observer
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2018 at 1:39 am

RE: Simoes de Carvalho - this is not the first time she was removed from a position for being ineffective. She was moved from a district office position a number of years ago and went back into the classroom in the Dual Immersion Program at Castro. Her ability to be an effective school leader is questionable at best.

Like this comment
Posted by Bravo
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 6, 2018 at 6:23 am

Aaaand another administrator announces their departure.

6 people like this
Posted by Not Gully
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2018 at 12:21 pm

@ Intwisted Observer: let me refresh your memory. Ghysels, the superintendent with the history of an affair with the principal ( she is now assistant to the current superintendent of MVWSD) shifted things around to make space for the, now, Mrs Ghysels to enter the district. A testament to Carvalho's dedication to the children of the district that none of these shenanigans would trip up her service.

@ Mistral Parent: I wonder why they would take out their children because of her once they know she is leaving? Maybe they are unsure of the replacement from the superintendents old district in North Carolina?

People and families of MVWSD are fed up with the District and the board in their inability to support the community and running the district like corporate cronyism.

3 people like this
Posted by @@Uh Oh
a resident of another community
on Jul 20, 2018 at 2:05 pm

"The current principal greeted the incoming principal with so much grace and class, so much that parents were commenting on it for a whole week and commending the strength."

Thanks for the good laugh! Such histrionic tall tales never fail to elicit a chuckle!

If she had such "grace and class"--why did much of the website for Gabriela Mistral Elementary School fall into a time warp and freeze sometime during March, after Simoes de Carvalho was fired? It looks like someone wasn't so classy and perhaps stopped doing their job and supporting their staff because they couldn't muster the professionalism. Web Link

If she was so "classy," why did parents have to create a secret Facebook page just to discuss the new hire? Oh wait! It was because of Simoes de Carvalho's sensitivities, lack of professionalism, and her cronies' efforts to shield her from any constructive talk about the school's future. So classy and graceful--LMAO!

I hope she grows from her failures instead of pushing blame on other people. She ended up with a raise and a better job after showing up on the scene with hat in hand. I hope she lives up to the upgrade.

To Escondido families--don't remain silent. Simoes de Carvalho was surprised when she was fired, not because she never did anything wrong or wasn't told, but because she had been getting away with it for so long.

1 person likes this
Posted by Can this get worse?
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 21, 2018 at 4:24 pm

Lay off the new principal at Escondido. It is always hard to find a Spanish-speaking principal. Besides, the staff is going to make things very hard for her, just like they did for the last two principals.

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

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