News

Paly robotics students clash with new coach

Safety rules, changes spark conflict for student-led club

Update: Kathleen Krier, head coach of Palo Alto High School's robotics team, has been placed on paid administrative leave for school administration to investigate complaints from students and parents over her behavior. Read the full story here.

---

Students on Palo Alto High School's competitive robotics team are clashing with a new head coach whose communication around changes to the student-driven program has created what some students describe as a hostile educational environment.

At Tuesday's school board meeting, several robotics students described feeling "intimidated, bullied and scared" by the coach, Kathleen Krier, who was hired after coach Christopher Kuzmaul left at the end of the previous school year. Twenty-two students on the 72-member team signed a statement that says Krier "has enforced a number of rules before taking time to understand the nature and goals of the robotics team," with students' attempts to discuss the changes with her "ignored or taken as personal attacks."

"We have felt intimidation, fear, and discomfort from being around the head coach, and we feel this has not been addressed or even acknowledged by the administration," they wrote in the statement, which calls for Krier's immediate removal.

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On behalf of the team, co-captain Jennifer Xu filed last month a formal complaint about Krier's conduct through the district's Uniform Complaint Procedure (UCP).

Krier did not respond to questions for this story. She was previously a computer science teacher at Monta Vista High School in Danville for four years, according to her LinkedIn page. She is also teaching computer science at Paly.

Robotics students and parents have voiced frustration that their attempts to resolve their concerns with the Paly administration, including Principal Adam Paulson and Assistant Principal Tom Keating, have not resulted in any action.

In an email to the Weekly, Paulson said that his administrative team has been supporting and listening to the students but that required safety changes are "being met with resistance."

"This is Ms. Krier's first year at Paly and I believe should be given an opportunity to lead the robotics team," Paulson wrote. "We have, and will continue to make sure our students feel safe and supported. All allegations and statements are receiving our full attention."

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Robotics has been an entirely student-run organization, with the previous coach taking a hands-off, facilitator role. Many team members describe the campus lab as a place of refuge and friendship during their high school years.

Students said the Paly administration raised concerns about lab safety and supervision policies with the robotics team in May and June. Students and parents "repeatedly emphasized to administrators we wanted to understand the expectations and work with them to address concerns," Xu told the Weekly.

When Krier started this fall, "new rules began springing up without any communication," she said. "Often, these rules were unclear, and many have changed multiple times since."

Xu said the students were informed that a certificated teacher must be present during all lab hours and parent volunteers were not needed, then were told a career technical education (CTE) credentialed teacher must be present for the lab to be open. Krier has not been responsive to students' efforts to clarify and understand these and other new rules, Xu said.

Other students voiced concern about Krier's conduct that has made them feel uncomfortable at school, including using swear words (not directed at students), becoming emotional to the point of tears in front of a student and raising her voice at the two co-captains in a locked room at the lab.

At Tuesday's school board meeting, Superintendent Don Austin said that new employees often have to "calibrate" in a different school district.

"This is not a rationalization. It's not a defense. It's none of those things … when you're new, like I am too right now, you come from a place where you were successful or you would not be employed here," Austin said. "Some things that you are successful in you know apply perfectly to your new setting. Some things do not."

He said he had faith in the Paly administration and students to find a resolution.

"Students are problem-solvers and at the end of the day, kids make sense and they will figure a way to work through issues if given some space," Austin said.

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Paly robotics students clash with new coach

Safety rules, changes spark conflict for student-led club

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 12:07 pm
Updated: Sat, Oct 13, 2018, 11:37 am

Update: Kathleen Krier, head coach of Palo Alto High School's robotics team, has been placed on paid administrative leave for school administration to investigate complaints from students and parents over her behavior. Read the full story here.

---

Students on Palo Alto High School's competitive robotics team are clashing with a new head coach whose communication around changes to the student-driven program has created what some students describe as a hostile educational environment.

At Tuesday's school board meeting, several robotics students described feeling "intimidated, bullied and scared" by the coach, Kathleen Krier, who was hired after coach Christopher Kuzmaul left at the end of the previous school year. Twenty-two students on the 72-member team signed a statement that says Krier "has enforced a number of rules before taking time to understand the nature and goals of the robotics team," with students' attempts to discuss the changes with her "ignored or taken as personal attacks."

"We have felt intimidation, fear, and discomfort from being around the head coach, and we feel this has not been addressed or even acknowledged by the administration," they wrote in the statement, which calls for Krier's immediate removal.

On behalf of the team, co-captain Jennifer Xu filed last month a formal complaint about Krier's conduct through the district's Uniform Complaint Procedure (UCP).

Krier did not respond to questions for this story. She was previously a computer science teacher at Monta Vista High School in Danville for four years, according to her LinkedIn page. She is also teaching computer science at Paly.

Robotics students and parents have voiced frustration that their attempts to resolve their concerns with the Paly administration, including Principal Adam Paulson and Assistant Principal Tom Keating, have not resulted in any action.

In an email to the Weekly, Paulson said that his administrative team has been supporting and listening to the students but that required safety changes are "being met with resistance."

"This is Ms. Krier's first year at Paly and I believe should be given an opportunity to lead the robotics team," Paulson wrote. "We have, and will continue to make sure our students feel safe and supported. All allegations and statements are receiving our full attention."

Robotics has been an entirely student-run organization, with the previous coach taking a hands-off, facilitator role. Many team members describe the campus lab as a place of refuge and friendship during their high school years.

Students said the Paly administration raised concerns about lab safety and supervision policies with the robotics team in May and June. Students and parents "repeatedly emphasized to administrators we wanted to understand the expectations and work with them to address concerns," Xu told the Weekly.

When Krier started this fall, "new rules began springing up without any communication," she said. "Often, these rules were unclear, and many have changed multiple times since."

Xu said the students were informed that a certificated teacher must be present during all lab hours and parent volunteers were not needed, then were told a career technical education (CTE) credentialed teacher must be present for the lab to be open. Krier has not been responsive to students' efforts to clarify and understand these and other new rules, Xu said.

Other students voiced concern about Krier's conduct that has made them feel uncomfortable at school, including using swear words (not directed at students), becoming emotional to the point of tears in front of a student and raising her voice at the two co-captains in a locked room at the lab.

At Tuesday's school board meeting, Superintendent Don Austin said that new employees often have to "calibrate" in a different school district.

"This is not a rationalization. It's not a defense. It's none of those things … when you're new, like I am too right now, you come from a place where you were successful or you would not be employed here," Austin said. "Some things that you are successful in you know apply perfectly to your new setting. Some things do not."

He said he had faith in the Paly administration and students to find a resolution.

"Students are problem-solvers and at the end of the day, kids make sense and they will figure a way to work through issues if given some space," Austin said.

Comments

Frustrated Friend
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 1:25 pm
Frustrated Friend, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 1:25 pm
43 people like this

Paulson seems to miss the point.

In an email to the Weekly, Paulson said that his administrative team has been supporting and listening to the students but that required safety changes are "being met with resistance."

The point of the student concerns is not that they are having problems with the new teacher's changes (which the might have). Their problem is with her behavior, her intimidation, and how she bullies students.


Alum
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 1:28 pm
Alum, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 1:28 pm
44 people like this

From what I’ve heard from some of the current students, this is not a good situation. [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language] Several kids (some of whom are my friends) have said they don’t look forward to attending robotics any longer and wonder if quitting the team is a better option.

Come on... we can do better. This coach has proved she’s unsuitable for the job. There are so many people in the community willing to support this program and help it (and other engineering related programs) grow. Paly should be take advantage of that.


Paly Mom
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 1:45 pm
Paly Mom, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 1:45 pm
36 people like this

Get rid of her before tenure kicks-in! Geez, did someone fail to talk to Monta Vista students and references when they hired her?

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

Why is it so difficult to get a good CS teacher/Robotics coach? Would think this would be easy in Silicon Valley.


john_alderman
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 12, 2018 at 1:46 pm
john_alderman, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2018 at 1:46 pm
43 people like this

Do admins look at Rate my Teacher before hiring? I know you can't take information there at face value, but it can raise legit questions that can be answered during the hiring process. In this case, the complaints raised at her previous position at Monte Vista exactly match the complaints coming up now.


Frustrated Friend
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 1:52 pm
Frustrated Friend, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 1:52 pm
29 people like this

@Paly Mom

To correct your statement about Kuszmaul (I know several people that were on the team in the past), Kuszmaul was liked because of his inaction -- not because of his action. Just in the past few years, I have started hearing rumors about how he took over a quarter of robotics space for one of his personal activities, so he is not unilaterally liked.

But again, the people on the team (as it sounds like they are saying) are concerned with her behavior -- not with her rules.


john_alderman
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 12, 2018 at 2:06 pm
john_alderman, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2018 at 2:06 pm
18 people like this

@ Frustrated Friend - Not just behavior, but lack of domain knowledge.


Alum
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 2:10 pm
Alum, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 2:10 pm
15 people like this

I know Kusz pretty well—sure sometimes not everyone agreed with his decisions as coach. Such as to allocate half of the space room 904 for an Aikido adult school class. But he was always there if you wanted to talk, and he cared deeply about the well-being of the students.

The success of a coach isn’t whether they have all the credentials on paper. It’s whether they can be there to provide advice to the kids when it’s needed, have a good working relationship, and build a sense of trust. (IMO, it’s a very different set of requirements compared to that of say... a teacher. One can do well in one situation, but not the other.)


Gunn Parent
Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 12, 2018 at 2:27 pm
Gunn Parent, Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 12, 2018 at 2:27 pm
13 people like this

Head Coach? Robotics Coordinator or Faculty Adviser might be a more appropriate term for this kind of activity.

Do they also give block letters for being a member of the robotics team at Paly?


Alum
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 2:34 pm
Alum, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 2:34 pm
4 people like this

@Gunn Parent — I agree, the head coach is more of an advisor/coordinator/mentor. Like Len Ely said at the board meeting, their job is not to put in the play as a sports coach would.

What do you mean by block letters? I'm going to guess no, since I never heard about it in four years on the team :P


Tough Dad
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 2:42 pm
Tough Dad, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 2:42 pm
16 people like this

These kids need to toughen up and start showing some respect. She’s the coach, you listen to the coach, even if you disagree. Props to Adam and company for focusing on the real issues at hand like safety around machines.


Frustrated Friend
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 2:55 pm
Frustrated Friend, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 2:55 pm
32 people like this

@Tough Dad

You seem to not understand. That is not how robotics works. Before you think that she is just supposed to be another football coach, go look into how the FRC mentor program is supposed to work. Robotics is a student-run group, and once again I mention that my friends on the team are not unhappy with her decisions. They are unhappy with how she is behaving toward them.

Do you think her just "being the coach" is an excuse for discrimination? Do you think it is an excuse for cornering kids against tables and screaming at them? Do you think it is an excuse for locking the door behind kids to be with them and not get caught?

I don't think so. Do you?


Parent
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 3:22 pm
Parent, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 3:22 pm
16 people like this

There is blame all over. No one is innocent. Particularly NOT the new coach, the old coach or the administration.
The following is my guess.

It started with a lack of funding and support from the administration. For years there has only been part of a head count to support a very big program of almost 100 kids working non-stop throughout the year (and summer). The programs needs at least 2 teachers working on it. If there needs to be licensed professionals at all times in the lab, the district needs to pay for that.

Secondly, the past coaches were NOT universally loved. The kids had to adapt to an inactive coach over the past years by being totally student run. No other robotics team is student run like Paly, without much supervision at all (particularly the actual robotic-related teams such as the drive, build and programming teams). If you might notice, while the team has a lot of girls, the team has been fairly segregated with boys in the robotic-related teams and the girls in the business/outreach side. Not sure how/why that happened, but does.

So the kids came into this year running themselves. It probably was an issue when a teacher without much skills tried to "fix it". Very few teachers would be able manage it politically, and this one has failed. If there had been an assistant coach to help the transition, it would have been better. The administration should have done something sooner. My understanding is there has been "No Parents, just certified teachers" to "Please parents, why don't you help me?" and flipping back again, and so many other issues.

There must be something in the kids and parents complaints (and there are a lot of them). I have also heard crazy comments through other channels about the kids and parents that I would assume are being started by the teacher (and/or administrators). It is an obvious attempt to deflect responsibility away from the administrators and the teacher. I don't think the administrators understand how big robotics is in these kids lives. The program isn't well supported, and it should be. It has always been a shame that the school has done so little for it, and the kids try to build it up themselves. If the power families of Palo Alto were involved in this program (and we all know they exist), this would NOT have happened over the past years (but those parents know to nudge their kids in other directions because of the bad management of the program that has been notorious over the years).


Alum
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 3:39 pm
Alum, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 3:39 pm
12 people like this

"If there had been an assistant coach to help the transition, it would have been better."

@Parent — There was a mentor who had been filling in as "interim coach" over the summer, and there were a number parents supporting this "interim coach". The group worked hard to make improvements on lab safety over the summer. I can confidently say the "interim coach" was universally loved among team members.

However, the new coach has made it clear she is not interested in working with anyone "from the past". She hasn't taken the time to learn about the program but is set on "fixing it". An assistant coach would have just been pushed out IMO.


Parent
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 3:43 pm
Parent, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 3:43 pm
3 people like this

Alum,

Sorry, I meant a teacher assistant coach that had been there for the past couple of years. Then the new teacher would have been forced to listen to him/her.


Alum
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 3:50 pm
Alum, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 3:50 pm
9 people like this

@Parent—I agree with your overall, thanks for voicing your support. The program definitely does not receive enough attention from higher up which is a large factor in some of these issues we are seeing.


Another Parent
University South
on Oct 12, 2018 at 4:18 pm
Another Parent, University South
on Oct 12, 2018 at 4:18 pm
13 people like this

AP Computer Science has been a joke for YEARS at Paly. Everyone passes the test without help from the teachers. Not that this is an excuse with this teacher. It is the administration which has dropped the ball, as well.


Alum
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 4:20 pm
Alum, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 4:20 pm
2 people like this

Isn’t it taught in python this year? The test is in Java...

Students helping their peers isn’t a bad thing. Not having a teacher teach... can’t say I’m a fan of that.


Also a Student in CS
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 4:23 pm
Also a Student in CS, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 4:23 pm
12 people like this

@Alum

I agree that students helping each other is a good thing, but Krier relys on that for her 'teaching' only. All she really does is stamp; we need to teach ourselves and others.


Nerd Revolt!
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 12, 2018 at 4:25 pm
Nerd Revolt!, Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 12, 2018 at 4:25 pm
8 people like this

Its a dramatic high school uprising! LOL.


Alum
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 4:31 pm
Alum, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 4:31 pm
11 people like this

I was mistaken about the language being used in the AP CS class. Perhaps a moderator can fix that for me.

The huge concern here is the staff misconduct and how it’s being brushed off. Students report being harassed and intimidated and admin just closes the robotics lab until a safety inspection can be completed next week. Safety is hugely important, but I fail to see how brushing off the student concerns is ok.


Paly Alum
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 4:33 pm
Paly Alum, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 4:33 pm
30 people like this

Paulson really doesn't seem to understand the situation.

To restate what many have already said: THE STUDENTS FULLY SUPPORT SAFETY CHANGES! The complaints stem from the way she is trying to mold the team. [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

I believe much of this has to do with her expectations of a robotics team. Paly Robotics, Gunn Robotics, and other competitive teams in the Bay Area all spend many hours each day of the competition season. The new coach comes from a school where robotics was a lunchtime club.

It should be fully possible for her to make changes she wants while maintaining the seriousness of the team. This clearly isn't happening, and the district should make changes soon before the new coach drags the robotics team down with her.


resident
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 4:59 pm
resident, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 4:59 pm
7 people like this

"The point of the student concerns is not that they are having problems with the new teacher's changes (which the might have). Their problem is with her behavior, her intimidation, and how she bullies students."


Private Parent
Fairmeadow
on Oct 12, 2018 at 5:05 pm
Private Parent, Fairmeadow
on Oct 12, 2018 at 5:05 pm
9 people like this

Paly Mom: "Why is it so difficult to get a good CS teacher/Robotics coach? Would think this would be easy in Silicon Valley."

The pay for any kind of extra-curricular mentoring like this is terrible, whether sports, art, or whatever. The kids and parents can be great, but they can also be rather difficult.

Anyone who does this is either doing it as a labor of love, or because they don't have better options. If as a labor of love, then it usually comes after family, day-job, and whatever else, and at some point, you don't feel like putting up with all the junk. So these people are indeed very hard to find.

If you don't have better options, well, then it is likely you won't do well in the position. So yes, finding high-quality Robotics coaches--or any other kind of coach--in Silicon Valley is very hard.

And that should surprise no one. If you do find a good coach (and there are several both at Paly and Gunn, and a couple at the middle schools too), then you should be extremely appreciative.


Concerned Robotics Student
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 6:13 pm
Concerned Robotics Student, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 6:13 pm
12 people like this

@Get a New Coach

Hello, as much as I agree that the current head coach must absolutely be replaced and and is currently contributing to a hostile student environment. [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


Student
Midtown
on Oct 12, 2018 at 6:19 pm
Student, Midtown
on Oct 12, 2018 at 6:19 pm
39 people like this

I came in wanting to learn, but quickly found that this was not the place for me.
Every day, you sit down at your seat and start doing the tasks on the stamp sheet. After a while, Ms. Krier gets up from her desk and randomly decides where in the circle to begin stamping for the day. She goes around, one by one, to stamp the tasks you have completed. Once she gets back to where she started, she goes around again and again until the bell rings. This is how EVERY 90 minute period goes.
She never stops to show us how to code, or advise us on the best way to complete tasks... because it’s apparent she literally has NO coding knowledge. When I asked her for help, she would tell me that her job is not to teach us, because it's better if we learn from each other.
Often, I could not complete all the stamp tasks for the week, and my grade would be greatly affected. Keep in mind, the stamp sheets are EVERYTHING. There are no tests, quizzes, or homework. Only stamp sheets. She gives out extra stamps to students who help others, which is unfair. Now the people whose grades are thriving get extra credit, while the kids who are struggling are unable to get extra stamps that they so desperately need, because they have less coding knowledge to help others. She also gives extra stamps to students whose names she messes up during roll call, so there lies another disadvantage for me. Since my name is hard to mess up I became ineligible for extra points.
I switched out of her class because it was unfair and made me miserable. I and MANY fellow students contacted administration politely expressing concerns, but were ignored.
Paly really wants to actually like they didn't see this coming? What a joke.


momoftwo
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 12, 2018 at 6:40 pm
momoftwo, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2018 at 6:40 pm
29 people like this

To Mr. Paulson, and Dr. Austin - the PAUSD strategic plan page starts like this:
"We are a student-oriented district where children come first and where students always remain at the heart of our commitment."

Where is your commitment to students here? They are being bullied and harassed and you do nothing but leave this coach in place. They and parents have reached out to you both many times and it is so bad, students go to a PAUSD board meeting to try to get someone to listen. Dr. Austin - students have been trying to figure it out for months with no help from your employees at Paly. The coach's behavior is over the line and it is time for you and Paulson to do your jobs and protect students first.

And what about all the PAUSD board members that sat and listened to these poor kids tell you how bad things are for them? Anything from any of you?

And has anyone but the coach and Dr. Keating said they were difficult? Any other academic teachers or guidance counselors saying how difficult they are? Any issues with these students on the team before this year? These students aren't involved in vaping, drugs or alcohol incidents. They go to the robotics lab and work on homework and robotics projects. I am sure many of us parents wish we had such terrible kids. There are plenty of discipline problems for you all to solve at Paly, please stop inventing more to cover yourselves.

I think where the problem lies in this case is pretty clear. The question is does anyone working in PAUSD administration or the PAUSD Board really care about its students or are these just nice words on a Strategic Plan?


Paly Mom
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 6:48 pm
Paly Mom, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 6:48 pm
21 people like this

We've been at Paly since 2010, and at that time, we were told to stay away from CS classes because there is no teaching. Unsure who was the teacher then, but it was before Kuzmaul. So Paly has never had any good CS teachers.

As far as finding a coach for little pay, there are plenty of retired tech people who don't need the money but would love to help; PAUSD just needs to find them.

Rate My Teachers is an accurate source, actually. I wish more students would post ratings, as they are anonymous. As long as there is no cursing posted, they are not deleted. Here is Krier's ratings at Monta Vista: Web Link And here is for Paly: Web Link


[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


Student of Ms.Krier
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 7:02 pm
Student of Ms.Krier, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 7:02 pm
27 people like this

@Paly Mom I'd be more than glad to videotape what ACTUALLY goes on in her class. But I sincerely doubt that Paly administration would even care to think about actually reforming the teaching system that's in play currently. I've already expressed my discontent to Paly about the new "methodology" that Krier swears by and Paly simply said to have a 1 on 1 meeting with Krier to work things out... It should be Paly's job to deal with unsatisfactory teaching methods, NOT ME! I've come to the conclusion that Paly doesn't care at all about the actual teaching that's going in classrooms and so I'm, therefore, moving onto the school board to see if they're able to actually change the root of the problem. So far, the school board seems promising as they actually reply to my emails, unlike Paly.


Paly Mom
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 7:13 pm
Paly Mom, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 7:13 pm
16 people like this

@Student of Ms.Krier: Paly doesn't want film of a bad teacher going viral. This is the perfect solution. Hello national news, goodbye Paulson.


Joe
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2018 at 8:06 pm
Joe, Old Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2018 at 8:06 pm
18 people like this

Geez, this situation sounds like a disaster. There are so many recurrent and significant issues occurring at your school all the time. Isn't there a background check that occurs before hiring a key position? Who runs your HR? Come on Paly and PAUSD leadership, you guys need to step up! The community is tired of hearing excuses.


Also a Student in CS
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 8:14 pm
Also a Student in CS, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 8:14 pm
12 people like this

As much as I would love to video tape what goes on in Kriers class, under california recording laws, you cannot legally record someone without their consent. If this is done, we might not get too far due to the law. Krier needs to be removed as head coach as soon as possible, and her 'teaching' needs to be fixed.


An Alum Parent
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2018 at 8:20 pm
An Alum Parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2018 at 8:20 pm
18 people like this

momoftwo is correct. These are fabulous kids who don't cause any problem any where else (and I have never, ever, seen them be anything but well behaved in the lab). The school should improve safety, but that means they actually need to hire certified people and invest in the building. The stark comparison between the robotics lab and the gym is night and day.


A Concerted Paly Student
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 8:36 pm
A Concerted Paly Student, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 8:36 pm
13 people like this

I have multiple friends on the robotics team and I can tell you that there have been many issues regarding these kids over the last couple of years. I know people who have experienced harassment including people telling them that they only got onto the team because they are a girl, that they don't deserve to be treated equally and are only mistreated because they underperform, and even that they would be happy if they were dead. When the victims have tried to come forward their team members pressured them to keep quiet and accused them of making it up and it being all in their head. The problems with the robotics team started long before this year but in the past at least the parties had the decorum to work to resolve problems through established channels and proper methods instead of going public with accusations and hoping that the enraged parent base of Palo Alto would take care of their problems for them.


suggestion
Barron Park
on Oct 12, 2018 at 8:48 pm
suggestion, Barron Park
on Oct 12, 2018 at 8:48 pm
9 people like this

Hey,

Put Colombo in there, he will iron things out in a heartbeat and have those kids busting out Robots that make Tranfsormers
Movie Robots look like little legos.

Time to go BEAST MODE!!!!


Concerned Here
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2018 at 10:29 pm
Concerned Here, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2018 at 10:29 pm
1 person likes this

>These students aren't involved in vaping, drugs or alcohol incidents.

This statement felt unnecessary and is insulting to students who are not in robotics, as it implies that only the non robotics students are involved in such incidents.

@A Concerted Paly Student: Have heard from quite a few folks about what you have described. Have also heard that this is a recurring behavior.

Very sad that it is such a stressful situation for the team, students and the coach. I hope it gets resolved and it becomes a positive atmosphere for all of them.


a parent
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 10:42 pm
a parent, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 10:42 pm
Like this comment

@A Concerted Paly Student

For student-to-student verbal conflicts, if both are equal members in the team, your friend needs to defend herself against bad but free speech. The team of course needs to promote inclusive and respectful culture and stop false information. But ultimately the team is not a speech police and cannot spend all it effort on resolving speech disputes. Individuals must stand up for themselves and earn respect from their fellow team members.

However, if one side is a senior student, or a student leader or one side is a teacher, as in this case, then, as an organization, the team must stop that. Because one side using social hierarchy to his/her advantage. That's not acceptable. If not, it only teachers junior member to because a worse leader once themselves become a leader.


a parent
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 10:45 pm
a parent, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 10:45 pm
Like this comment

last sentence of my comment should read:

If not, it only teaches a junior member to become a worse leader once herself becomes a leader.


Paly Mom
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 11:07 pm
Paly Mom, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 11:07 pm
6 people like this

@Student of Ms.Krier: You cannot legally record if it seems to be a private conversation. In a public classroom, it's okay. Outdoors in public, it's okay. We are videotaped all the time. There is a 2007 movie named "Look" which is a film shot entirely from the perspective of security cameras, which claims people are filmed 200 times per day: Web Link


Alum
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 11:08 pm
Alum, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 11:08 pm
1 person likes this

To comment on what @A Concerned Paly Student brought up:

There have been girls on the team in the past 2-3 years that have had some pretty negative experiences and interactions. Part of it is related to being in an environment with a lot of boys with dominating personalities. But there have been a few male students who have said rude and harmful things towards female members. And I don't know if the situations were dealt with particularly well in many cases.

I would like to believe a good majority of the male students in question have graduated in the past two years, and to my knowledge the current team is a pretty good group of kids. While there is the larger issue of "girls in STEM" that definitely affects the robotics team, I have heard little about specific incidents as of recent.


Alum
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 11:15 pm
Alum, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 11:15 pm
1 person likes this

To comment on the issue of "why is it so hard to find a CS teacher / coach".

I would like to propose Paly find a separate CS teacher and robotics head coach—debate has it structured that way. I think the district limits themselves by trying to look for someone who is a jack-of-all-trades / master-of-none.

You can have a fantastic CS teacher who can't deal with the administrative / advisor aspect of robotics. And you can have a great robotics head coach without a CS teaching background (I would be surprised if there weren't community members who'd be willing to take on that role).


PAUSD mom
Downtown North
on Oct 12, 2018 at 11:22 pm
PAUSD mom, Downtown North
on Oct 12, 2018 at 11:22 pm
21 people like this

This is not the first time PAUSD principal has refused to listen to parents or students unhappy with a teacher. And when the principal is new, they tend to defend the new teacher (no matter how atrocious the teaching abilities) with a biased point of view. This allows poor teachers to go beyond the 2 year tenure period and then the teacher is forever part of the PAUSD system. Never to be fired or let go. Always a problem teacher for future decades to come.

The board needs to get involved and something needs to be done. What is going on PAUSD board? Why are bad teachers allowed to remain beyond their 2 years probationary period? The first 2 years of their teaching... PAUSD board should send out anonymous surveys to all the parents of the children taught by said teacher and get feedback (honest and sincere feedback).

There is no form of communication with the parents for the 1st 2 years the teacher is teaching.. and just like that... the teacher is hired unless fired by the principal.

Seriously something flawed in the system at PAUSD


Alum
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 11:40 pm
Alum, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 11:40 pm
8 people like this

For those that are interested, a petition has been sent out to raise awareness / gather support on resolving this. It's against Town Square terms of use to post it here, but any parent of a robotics student should have received it. I encourage everyone who is dissatisfied with the situation and the way it's been handled to sign. Hopefully this shows the administrators the community cares about our students, and they should too.


Concerned parent
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2018 at 12:10 am
Concerned parent, Old Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2018 at 12:10 am
22 people like this

Reading Ms. Krier’s Rate My Teacher universally bad reviews (1 star of 5),I wonder how PAUSD ended up hiring a teacher this bad. It is scary. I know how it is to be student in classes of teachers like this. My son had teachers like this before at Jordan. His English and Math teachers were just like this. Every students knew they didn’t teach. They just give easy As. They had pretty bad Rate My Teacher reviews too, though not as bad as Ms Krier’s. My son ended up learning absolutely nothing for a year in their classes. Please please don’t hire any more teachers like this into our school district! Please look into our teacher hiring process to find out what went wrong.

I have absolutely nothing against Ms Krier. When I heard the complaints about Ms Krier. At first I too thought she was misunderstood. She cares about students’ safety. That is a good thing. She cries and swears in front of student. That is a bit concerning but maybe she had a bad day. But I can’t find any way to defend her when every single former student reviewer says she does not teach because she simply does not know CS.

Dear Paly and PAUSD administration, please, do not waste our students time. Please, replace the teacher who can’t teach.


Parent86
Registered user
Community Center
on Oct 13, 2018 at 8:02 am
Parent86, Community Center
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2018 at 8:02 am
18 people like this

A Robotics dad here with more info -

When the request to remove the coach from the lab due to her bullying and harassment of students was first made, parents volunteered to supervise the lab themselves - at no additional cost to the school. The parents include a certified teacher. All other parent mentors are background checked already. The parents made this offer because they were concerned about the mental well-being of the students. They asked for the coach to be removed at least during the UCP investigations.

The article above does not state it, but the Post article a couple of days ago said that more students than 22 would have signed the student petition to have the coach removed but they also have this coach as their CS teacher and were very concerned about retaliation on their grades.

Finally, while Paly Admin continues to talk of supervision and safety as being the main issues, they fail to mention all the efforts on both of those undertaken by the students and the parent mentors. They do not acknowledge that both students and parents have offered to work with them on these issues and have asked for written rules from them so that the coach can not ask for one thing one day and another thing another day. Paly Admin has not given these clear, written rules to the students or parents.

Paly administration, for the hundredth time - the issue is not rules changes, it is bully and threatening behavior towards the students. That should your first priority to address.


Policy 4119.21
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2018 at 8:10 am
Policy 4119.21, Old Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2018 at 8:10 am
9 people like this

Palo Alto School Board policy forbids her behavior:

Web Link

Board Policy 4119.21 professional standards.

Specifically:
“Engaging in harassing, discriminatory, intimidating, or bullying behavior towards students, parents/guardians, staff, or community members, or failing to intervene when such action against a student is observed”

And Paulson is also in violation for failing to intervene as he was put on notice by the students.

There should be disciplinary action against both the teacher for behavior and the Principal for failure to report and failure to intervene.

There is absolutely no room in our district for staff to bully students. It is long past time to end backward teaching methods.

Make an example of these two.

(Oh, and if you’re thinking about retaliation against these students for speaking out, that is also forbidden in the same policy.)


III
Midtown
on Oct 13, 2018 at 9:02 am
III, Midtown
on Oct 13, 2018 at 9:02 am
5 people like this

I suspect she is a poor coach.
BUT PA ONLINE AND THE DAILY POST need to make this FRONT PAGE NEWS?
1) I suspect the students and the parents are spoiled, feel privileged
and entitled, to interfere with coaching process.
2) In my day, in your face was then and even now part of a motivational
process.
3) Robotics, I suspect it is 8 students and the fans that attend the matches are the parents.
[Portion removed.]
It might well be the coach and her process. [Portion removed.]
OH AND DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH TIME, ENERGY, PERSONAL EFFORT IT IS TO COACH?
Not to mention, how much do you think the coach gets paid? $2000 a season at best, and probably gives 50hours per week plus her real job.
I DID for Paly 10yrs. [Portion removed.]


Alum
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 9:10 am
Alum, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 9:10 am
6 people like this

A few facts:

The robotics team consists of 72 people. 22 people signed the letter to have her removed, and more would have but they and their parents were worried about grade retaliation in her CS classes.

The robotics team had its strongest season in 2017, advancing to division semifinals at the world championships. In 2018, the team captained an alliance at one regional and made it to semifinals at another.

At the beginning of the year, the coach publicly quoted at 40% salary increase to coach robotics, but also recently claimed her contract allows for 4-6 hours during the fall and 10 hours during the spring.


EM
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 9:20 am
EM, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 9:20 am
7 people like this

Way to go kids. You do have a VOICE. Ms. Krier’s behavior is not acceptable, is not professional. She may be OK as a CS Teacher, but not as the ROBOTICS Mentor, Coach,Facilitator.
Rate your Teacher.com=A BIG EYE OPENER.
Thanks for the insight on that.


EM
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 9:36 am
EM, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 9:36 am
9 people like this

III
OBVIOUSLY you are an athletic,or a coach, or athletic supporter!
ROBOTICS is as important as any other “team” at PALY.
2 years ago, at the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS in Houston, there were 90 PALY ROBOTICS MEMBERS / SUPPORTERS.
All there on there own $....including sponsorships for any team member not able to cover it.
We live in an area of INNOVATION, which creates INTRIGUE, and INSPIRATION to all these kids who want to design, build and possibly improve life in the FUTURE.


Anonymous
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2018 at 11:59 am
Anonymous, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2018 at 11:59 am
12 people like this

Krier's teaching ratings are really terrible. It's surprising Paly hired her.


Another Parent
Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 13, 2018 at 12:18 pm
Another Parent, Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 13, 2018 at 12:18 pm
10 people like this

III is a perfect example of traditional Paly position. Real sports like water polo, baseball and soccer rule, Robotics sucks. Invest in real teams. Robotics builds team work and tech skills, among other things. But Paly has failed these kids and failed to invest in it.


iii
Midtown
on Oct 13, 2018 at 12:21 pm
iii, Midtown
on Oct 13, 2018 at 12:21 pm
4 people like this

EM.... 90 at a world championship. Small potatoes.
Lets look at your linked in, lets find a job you
did not in the beginning of your career that you
essentially volunteer for, give up hundreds of hours,
then post how badly you did on the front page of the
local news paper because spoiled parents and children
are upset with your technique and effort!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
[Portion removed.]
The kids are spoiled, entitled and have no real concept of others
efforts. Albeit probably not a good coach. Don't gloss over
what you have done.
Paly RObotics team was terrible this season not because of coaching.
III


Upset
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2018 at 2:13 pm
Upset, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2018 at 2:13 pm
15 people like this

First of all, Krier is unqualified as a teacher. She has no knowledge of CS class she 'teaches' and emotionally abuses robotics team members. Harassment and intimidation to students should result in severe disciplinary action against the teacher.

On Oct 11 Krier herself disobeyed safety rules in allowing a non-robotics member into the lab and allowed him to operate a drill press. The student then broke the drill press, and injured another robotics student. All while this happens, she complains about the safety protocols, closes down rooms, and stops robotics members from doing work.

Paly should create safe environment for students both physically and emotionally.


Bill Smith
Community Center
on Oct 13, 2018 at 3:22 pm
Bill Smith , Community Center
on Oct 13, 2018 at 3:22 pm
7 people like this

Before we crucify the coach, maybe we should allow the investigation to proceeed to find out the whole story. I know there is more to the story than a bunch of innocent kids being bullied by an overbearing, incompetent ogre. Things are never this black and white. I am sure there is more than enough blame to go around for the situation that exists now.

Citing 22 out of 72 members signing a petition and then claiming that many more would have signed it but for fear of reprisal is a bogus rationalization. Perhaps I can claim that many would have signed a petition in support of the coach but they feared reprisal from the current captains who support the coaches ouster?

There was definitely a transition this year from a coach who ran things like the wild west, to one who is overly cautious. But in defense of the new coach, she is in a new position and the patents in this place can be overly demanding... and that attitude can extend to their progeny.


Alum
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 3:51 pm
Alum, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 3:51 pm
8 people like this

@Bill Smith

One of the big issues is that an proper investigation has not proceeded until this has blown up into a huge issue. As explained by the team captain in her statement, the students shared their concerns to several administrators only to be told later by the principal that he had no idea. They were told they couldn't have their parents at a meeting with school administration.

I personally see no negatives in a well organized investigation, and hope that is what we see going forward. It would probably be easier on all parties involved—the kids, the parents, the coach.


Christine C
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 15, 2018 at 11:08 am
Christine C, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2018 at 11:08 am
4 people like this

@Bill Smith


The former coach set up this team for great success these past several years. His hours and dedication to this team were unparraled. It wasn't the "wild west", but rather a very modern and forward thinking team with collaboration, caring and problem solving going on.

If there are changes to be made, talk about them as a whole team (admin, coaches/mentors and team members) and figure out common sense implementation.





12 years experience?
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2018 at 3:33 pm
12 years experience?, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2018 at 3:33 pm
8 people like this

How come Districts all over the U.S. are able to hire qualified persons to teach AP Computer Science A and AP Computer Science Principals, but PAUSD can't? How many qualified applicants were rejected from the applicant pool of this position?

On May 22nd, the Board approved the hiring of the teacher, but the Board packet says the teacher had 12 years experience---the item is Krier, Kathleen 8/8/18 Teacher—Palo Alto 100% 12 MA 90 N .

This does not at all agree with the Monte Vista Stampede article Web Link where it states Krier was still working on getting her teaching credential and was a TSA (Teacher on Special Assignment) in something that is described in the article as some sort of tech support role that is usually a Classified position.

From the 2/26/16 article: "Unfortunately, the prepaid expenses that Ms. Krier came with will run out in June this year. But, Krier has been going to classes to complete a teacher’s credential, and plans on becoming a technology principal in the district, if not at Monte Vista."

Why did the Superintendent approve the Board packet that stated her experience was 12 years? Did the principal put this in the packet? Also who was responsible for failing to inform the Board about the numerous (11) Monte Vista Rate My Teachers ratings where she was rated a 1 and students said she did not know how to code? Web Link

Doesn't the Board look at these teacher's ratings themselves before they approve new hires?


not on the robotics team
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 15, 2018 at 10:14 pm
not on the robotics team, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2018 at 10:14 pm
13 people like this

@Tough Dad
Did you see her reviews on rate my teacher? She knows absolutely nothing about coding or robotics. Don't know about you, a lot of kids here actually want to learn without being harassed. And if a bad teacher/coach stands in their way of a good, safe, education then they must be removed.


Paly Student
Barron Park
on Oct 17, 2018 at 7:15 am
Paly Student, Barron Park
on Oct 17, 2018 at 7:15 am
14 people like this

The most objectionable part of all this is the judge and jury responses in the comments above--a virtual on-line lynching. Palo Altans can do better. Who's next?


Hello from Danville
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 17, 2018 at 7:44 pm
Hello from Danville, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 17, 2018 at 7:44 pm
6 people like this

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment.]

The lack of interpersonal skills is worse than the lack of computer skills.

By the way she quit the summer school job she was supposed to do in Danville, at the very last minute.

Very unstable and Paly should unload her quickly before she gets tenure.


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