News

School board approves superintendent's contract

Don Austin to start position July 1

With little discussion, the Palo Alto school board voted 4-1 Tuesday to approve a three-year contract with Don Austin, the district's new superintendent.

Board President Ken Dauber cast the sole dissenting vote, stating only that his decision was "based on my participation in the process" and that he "would have preferred a different outcome."

Austin is currently the superintendent of the K-12 Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District in Los Angeles County, where he was hired in 2014. He previously worked as an assistant superintendent, high school and middle school principal, high school activities director and middle school teacher in Southern California.

Under the contract, Austin will be paid $300,000 and live in a district-owned property with a monthly rent of $1,800.

Austin was selected after the board launched a national search to find a replacement for former Superintendent Max McGee, who resigned in September.

Austin has been described by supporters as a leader and team builder who has made strides in Palos Verdes on student mental health, facilities and the budget. Critics, however, have voiced concerns about a lack of transparency and his management style.

Board member Melissa Baten Caswell said Austin has a "history of effectively bringing teams together and mentoring people.

"I think that bringing the team together is something we're looking forward to," she said.

Austin will start his position in Palo Alto Unified on July 1.

---

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

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

5 people like this
Posted by Paul Vincent
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 22, 2018 at 11:43 pm

Good Luck Palo Alto...... I think you'll be needing it.


9 people like this
Posted by Happy PV!
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2018 at 5:12 am

I thought the people of Palo Alto were smart. Apparently not. So happy to see this guy go! He’s awful in every way possible. People can finally speak up now that it’s official!!! Happy day in PV!


4 people like this
Posted by Wohoo
a resident of Green Acres
on May 23, 2018 at 6:10 am

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by RELIEF!
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2018 at 6:39 am

Hired in PV (top schools in the country, check it out prior to Austin), largely to force Common Core upon the district that didn’t want or need it.

Be careful parents, students, and teachers of Palo Alto! I thought your district opted out of CC in the past. Now Don Austin? Somebody it up to something. Do your research. Demand transparency because this guy has his own agenda.

Relieved Parent of Palos Verdes


7 people like this
Posted by Honest
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2018 at 7:18 am

Don't listen to these folks and make up your own mind about Austin. Some people like to twist facts to fit their agenda. The fact that they feel compelled to post on this story to criticize Austin is telling. Not saying Austin is perfect but when you have a group that will tell you he has never done anything right it's obvious that its personal. Waiting for one of them to call be an apologist for Austin and the school board.


2 people like this
Posted by Disappointed
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 23, 2018 at 10:27 am

Oh well, I guess sometimes facts don't matter when hiring a well paid superintendent. I just hope that parents can show how they feel by not providing donations to help with funding.

My understanding is that Mr. Austin was wonderful for the wealthy parents so that they would donate. I suppose it was a way for the wealthy to get what they wanted to paying versus having their students learn how to be an adult.

Time will tell.

I suppose if they accept Mr. Austin with his challenges, then there should be no reason why they don't accept others with major faults. The losers of course are out children!


24 people like this
Posted by Downtown Parent
a resident of Professorville
on May 23, 2018 at 11:44 am

Somebody said above,"I thought the people of Palo Alto were smart". Well, regretfully it's not us, the PAUSD parents, who make decisions relevant to our kids' education. The Boards simply does not listen to us. The same happened with the school renaming.

Also, apparently they approved his contract just because they don't want to challenge themselves with a new search.
Summer is coming, they want their hands to be washed of ...


4 people like this
Posted by Palos Verdes Parent
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2018 at 11:47 am

Don Austin is not perfect. He did the job he was hired to do in Palos Verdes. His road map was followed & he delivered on time.

Dr. Austin has some bumps, those bumps did not effect the class room. Sometimes you need to piss of a few for the greater good. I for one did not agree with all his actions, that does not mean he is not good, it means i disagreed.

As an administrator he got the job done. He is also a creative problem solver. Palo Alto does not have some of the problems that Palos Verdes has because of the size of your budget. Palos Verdes teachers are at the mid lower end of pay whem compared to surrounding districts. That made teacher/union conversations difficult since Palos Verdes is poorly funded.

Lastly, not one member of the Palo Alto community showed up to comment to the BOE about Dr. Austin. Your paper had negative & positive coverage. In my opinion the community has lost it's right to complain do to apathy if Dr. Austin does not work out.


18 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on May 23, 2018 at 12:38 pm

To the poster "Palos Verdes parent" immediately above:

You wrote: "Lastly, not one member of the Palo Alto community showed up to comment to the BOE about Dr. Austin. Your paper had negative & positive coverage. In my opinion the community has lost it's right to complain do to apathy if Dr. Austin does not work out."

How is the community of Palo Alto supposed to comment on Dr. Austin at the BoE meeting when all we know about him is from the newspapers? We don't have first-hand knowledge from the interview process and reference check process.

I would be VERY VERY interested to know more about Ken Dauber's decision not to vote for the new superintendent. His comment was very cryptic but there must be something more there.


12 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on May 23, 2018 at 12:40 pm

What is this about I wonder?

The article says: Board President Ken Dauber cast the sole dissenting vote, stating only that his decision was "based on my participation in the process" and that he "would have preferred a different outcome."


Like this comment
Posted by Palos Verdes Parent
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2018 at 2:47 pm

To Barron Park Dad,

By attending the BOE meeting community members could have asked board members about some of the concerns they have read. Earlier on the community could have asked about the vetting process. I do not know you, I am not passing judgement. It is much easier to look for te reason to do nothing than to do something.


Like this comment
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on May 23, 2018 at 3:20 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Just make sure he puts out the raging fire in the Special Ed issues. That will take care of any OCR problems. Demand full transparency as part of his operating rules of conduct. It is YOUR money he is spending. Give him a 90 day probation before dropping an axe on him, just like any other employer does. He deserves to be treated like YOUR employee, right?


8 people like this
Posted by Public Enemy
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2018 at 4:06 pm

Don Austin has a new public enemy #1, the one dissenting vote on BOE!! Don has zero tolerance for dissent and will go after the Board Menber that didn’t vote for him. Don will divide and conquer until Ken is beaten into submission! This is the beginning of the end since Austin’s cannot tolerate the public humiliation of a no vote. Just ask Barbara Lucky and Suzanne Seymour of PVPUSD! They will tell you what it’s like to be a women that disagrees with Austin and it’s not good! Don ignores and speaks down to people as if he is better (which he is not).

Don Aunstin is incapable of compromise. He has an agenda and will stop at nothing to achieve it! And trust me, the agenda is not to benefit the children. He will bring in his team and demand undivided loyalty. He will bring in his lawyers and run up legal fees to defend his ego. This is no joke.

[Portion removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by PTA Mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 23, 2018 at 4:29 pm

Beating down Dauber doesn't seem likely to me.


7 people like this
Posted by Public Enemy
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2018 at 4:39 pm

PTA Mom, you have no idea what Don Austin is capable of doing. He is boiling mad over the dissent vote and will go after Dauber big time. Just wait and see . . .
He will build a voting block of 3 on the Board and everyone else is dog meat.

[Portion removed.]

Families, avoid Austin at all costs. Speak with your money, don't donate. BOE, watch the District' money and spending. He was out of control with PVPUSD limited budget. I can only imagine what he would do with Palo Alto's budget. It is very scary.


10 people like this
Posted by Yea No More Austin
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2018 at 6:37 pm

I'm a Palos Verdes parent who has endured four years of Supt. Don Austin's incompetence. After three months you will be recalling your school board for hiring him.


6 people like this
Posted by Happy PV Mommy!
a resident of another community
on May 24, 2018 at 7:12 am

Good luck PA, we couldn’t be happier to see this one bite the dust. Keep an eye on his expense reports and don’t give him a hotel room for functions, it could cost you.

And that poor dude who voted against him,......


8 people like this
Posted by Silly
a resident of Midtown
on May 24, 2018 at 12:19 pm

Let the betting begin on a Dauber/Austin match-up!

(Cause the PV people don't know what he is like...)


9 people like this
Posted by A Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 24, 2018 at 3:15 pm

I think if Austin is an honest, transparent person, willing to take on problems and be a creative problem solving, keeping service and families first, able to do the right thing by students as his priority as seems to have been the case in the teacher strike, Dauber will come around.

We all have practice now in dealing with administrators who tend to be secretive, CYA, retaliatory. It will not go well if that's what we're getting. It doesn't seem so, though.

Dauber is a formidible foe if we get another CYA stinker.


Like this comment
Posted by member
a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2018 at 4:02 pm

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 6, 2018 at 5:09 pm

[Post removed.]


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

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Gluten-free bakery Misfits Bakehouse is reborn in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 4 comments | 3,185 views

Premarital and Couples: The "Right" Way to Eat an Artichoke
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 2,058 views

What did you learn last week?
By Sherry Listgarten | 8 comments | 1,453 views

The holiday season
By Cheryl Bac | 2 comments | 482 views

 

Race Results Are In

Thank you for joining us at the 35th annual Moonlight Run & Walk! All proceeds benefit the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday fund, supporting local nonprofits serving children and families.

Click for Race Results