News

Following student complaints, Paly robotics coach placed on paid leave

Robotics club to be temporarily shut down during investigation

The school district has placed Kathleen Krier, Palo Alto High School computer science teacher and head robotics coach, on paid leave following concerns about her behavior, voiced by members of the robotics team.

She was placed on administrative leave on Friday "to provide the time and space needed to thoroughly investigate concerns expressed by students and parents," Superintendent Don Austin said. He declined to provide further detail, citing the confidentiality of personnel decisions.

In the meantime, the robotics club will be shut down temporarily, per a recommendation from Paly Principal Adam Paulson, Austin said.

Robotics students and parents came to last Tuesday's school board meeting to air grievances about Krier, who they described as clashing with students — sometimes inappropriately, from their perspective — over new rules for the largely student-run robotics lab.

Reached by email on Saturday morning, robotics co-captain Jennifer Xu said the team had not been informed about Krier being placed on administrative leave nor the program

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being temporarily shut down. Paly Assistant Principal Tom Keating informed the students that the lab would be closed this week for a safety review, she said.

Austin said that the administration is working to address "holdover" safety issues in the campus lab, including by bringing in an outside insurance firm to conduct a safety audit. A scheduled visit from Torrance-based Keenan and Associates has been moved up from the end of the month to this Wednesday, Austin said.

He was not aware whether Krier, who started at Paly this fall after teaching computer science at Monte Vista High School in Danville, had been disciplined in her previous teaching job. He could not confirm whether Paly or the district office has received complaints about her conduct other than from robotics students and parents.

Krier has not responded to questions from the Palo Alto Weekly. She told student news outlet The Paly Voice that robotics students had previously "casually" followed safety practices, including those related to eye, hair and bodily protection, and that supervision was lacking in the lab.

"From my background, we require always a teacher or somebody with a certificated credential to be in the room, and then add mentors and parents on top of that," Krier told The Paly Voice, "whereas the past practice allowed parents to come and supervise without a certificated person."

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"This isn't Starbucks. It's a machine shop," she said.

Robotics students have said they were willing to work with Krier on safety improvements but their attempts to do so were "ignored or taken as personal attacks," according to a statement signed by 22 of the 72 team members.

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

Devin Ardeshna, a 2018 Paly graduate and former robotics team captain, filed another UCP complaint on Thursday alleging Krier has violated policies on discrimination, harassment and staff conduct. Part of his complaint, which is based on third-hand information of incidents in the lab, details concerns about Krier's efforts to recruit a more diverse range of students, which he said "put students of other ethnicities at a disadvantage."

Ardeshna said he hopes his complaint prompts a dialogue between the district's Title IX compliance officer and current robotics students.

Xu echoed that in an email to the Weekly: "We really want to see the Paly administration open up to our concerns and would like to start a transparent and constructive dialogue to do what’s best for the robotics students."

Austin said pausing the robotics program is "very short term" and that Keating will be meeting with students and parents next week to discuss next steps.

"It's clearly a highly valued, complex, sophisticated program," Austin said. "We want to get this all right."

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Following student complaints, Paly robotics coach placed on paid leave

Robotics club to be temporarily shut down during investigation

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Sat, Oct 13, 2018, 11:30 am
Updated: Mon, Oct 15, 2018, 8:21 am

The school district has placed Kathleen Krier, Palo Alto High School computer science teacher and head robotics coach, on paid leave following concerns about her behavior, voiced by members of the robotics team.

She was placed on administrative leave on Friday "to provide the time and space needed to thoroughly investigate concerns expressed by students and parents," Superintendent Don Austin said. He declined to provide further detail, citing the confidentiality of personnel decisions.

In the meantime, the robotics club will be shut down temporarily, per a recommendation from Paly Principal Adam Paulson, Austin said.

Robotics students and parents came to last Tuesday's school board meeting to air grievances about Krier, who they described as clashing with students — sometimes inappropriately, from their perspective — over new rules for the largely student-run robotics lab.

Reached by email on Saturday morning, robotics co-captain Jennifer Xu said the team had not been informed about Krier being placed on administrative leave nor the program

being temporarily shut down. Paly Assistant Principal Tom Keating informed the students that the lab would be closed this week for a safety review, she said.

Austin said that the administration is working to address "holdover" safety issues in the campus lab, including by bringing in an outside insurance firm to conduct a safety audit. A scheduled visit from Torrance-based Keenan and Associates has been moved up from the end of the month to this Wednesday, Austin said.

He was not aware whether Krier, who started at Paly this fall after teaching computer science at Monte Vista High School in Danville, had been disciplined in her previous teaching job. He could not confirm whether Paly or the district office has received complaints about her conduct other than from robotics students and parents.

Krier has not responded to questions from the Palo Alto Weekly. She told student news outlet The Paly Voice that robotics students had previously "casually" followed safety practices, including those related to eye, hair and bodily protection, and that supervision was lacking in the lab.

"From my background, we require always a teacher or somebody with a certificated credential to be in the room, and then add mentors and parents on top of that," Krier told The Paly Voice, "whereas the past practice allowed parents to come and supervise without a certificated person."

"This isn't Starbucks. It's a machine shop," she said.

Robotics students have said they were willing to work with Krier on safety improvements but their attempts to do so were "ignored or taken as personal attacks," according to a statement signed by 22 of the 72 team members.

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

Devin Ardeshna, a 2018 Paly graduate and former robotics team captain, filed another UCP complaint on Thursday alleging Krier has violated policies on discrimination, harassment and staff conduct. Part of his complaint, which is based on third-hand information of incidents in the lab, details concerns about Krier's efforts to recruit a more diverse range of students, which he said "put students of other ethnicities at a disadvantage."

Ardeshna said he hopes his complaint prompts a dialogue between the district's Title IX compliance officer and current robotics students.

Xu echoed that in an email to the Weekly: "We really want to see the Paly administration open up to our concerns and would like to start a transparent and constructive dialogue to do what’s best for the robotics students."

Austin said pausing the robotics program is "very short term" and that Keating will be meeting with students and parents next week to discuss next steps.

"It's clearly a highly valued, complex, sophisticated program," Austin said. "We want to get this all right."

Comments

Alum
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 11:37 am
Alum, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 11:37 am
36 people like this

Hey... it’s a start. Sad the program had to be shut down temporarily. Let’s hope the kids’ concerns get addressed.


Name hidden
Duveneck/St. Francis

on Oct 13, 2018 at 12:06 pm
Name hidden, Duveneck/St. Francis

on Oct 13, 2018 at 12:06 pm

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


Another Parent
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2018 at 12:09 pm
Another Parent, Old Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2018 at 12:09 pm
22 people like this

So screw over the kids so they learn not to complain. Great. The principal should have stepped in to manage it if they cared.


She's Still Getting Paid
Community Center
on Oct 13, 2018 at 1:05 pm
She's Still Getting Paid, Community Center
on Oct 13, 2018 at 1:05 pm
25 people like this

Paid leave is a convenient reprimand as it leaves time for reflection and other outlets. A vacation of sorts.

I'm envious.


PA PARENT
Green Acres
on Oct 13, 2018 at 1:11 pm
PA PARENT, Green Acres
on Oct 13, 2018 at 1:11 pm
90 people like this

So... entitled PA kids have to follow safety rules and aren't allowed to do as they want and you all run the teacher out. Can you say ENTITLEMENT?! Typical.


Bob
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2018 at 1:30 pm
Bob, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2018 at 1:30 pm
51 people like this

Security and safety seem to pop up frequently at the PAUSD. A few years ago, laptops were being stolen, and it was not clear from media accounts that the rooms where these computers were located had been locked before the thefts occurred.

What’s not clear from the Weekly article is what kinds of equipment is available for use by the students. Given that the taxpayers ultimately are on the hook for injuries to students on the school premises, the Weekly seems to ignore this extremely important issue. Also missing from this article is what responsibilities for the safety of students using the lab the teacher in charge assumes when becoming the sponsor, or teacher-in-charge, of this activity.

Safety is not something that is inherently obvious to children. And make no mistake—there are no adults enrolled as students at the PAUSD. Safety should be the most important mindset in any school activity.

If there are any tools that kick out metal particles, or sparks—then goggles most definitely should be worn. Gloves also should be worn if there are sharp, or rough edges protruding from metal, or wood. And so on.

If the children in this lab don’t feel the need to take these precautions—then it’s time to shut the lab down in order to protect the District and the taxpayers.


Anonymous
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 1:45 pm
Anonymous, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 1:45 pm
34 people like this

@Bob @PA PARENT

From what I've heard from others and read from various sources, the robotics team does have safety protocols in place that have been working well in the past. The issue the students are having appears to be mistreatment from the coach rather than not following the safety regulations. The students are "willing to work with Krier on safety improvements". As much as safety concerns should and are being addressed, as the article states, the well-being of the students should be just as big of a priority for the district as well.


Bob
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2018 at 1:51 pm
Bob, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2018 at 1:51 pm
3 people like this

> The issue the students are having appears to be mistreatment
> from the coach rather than not following the safety regulations

“Mistreatment” is a term that usually implies some sort of physical contact. Are the students claim that this teacher has been hitting them?


Alum
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 1:57 pm
Alum, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 1:57 pm
42 people like this

@Bob

The specific incidents that have been reported to the administration include verbal harassment, locking students in a room with her, and getting uncomfortably close to students while lecturing them.

The robotics team does a lot to ensure the environment is safe. While there are always things that can be done to further improve safety, such as obtaining more dust masks or getting a new chemical storage cabinet, I would not call the culture around safety "casual". There's a strict set of shop rules including PPE related policies. There's also a certification process for each machine that includes lessons and an assessment.


Bob
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2018 at 2:45 pm
Bob, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2018 at 2:45 pm
9 people like this

Well .. we’ll have to wait and see what settles out from this situation.

Would like to remind folks that maybe twenty years ago a couple boys decided to put sugar and some sort of pyrotechnic device in a fountain—which was supposed to be a senior prank. Unfortunately, the prank went wrong and molten sugar foamed up and onto a girl sitting nearby who was badly burned.

The School District disavowed itself of any responsibility, leaving the girl with a lot of medical bills and no one responsible. A local lawyer got involved, and eventually was able to secure a settlement with the insurance company of one of the boys responsible for the prank. The school district proved useless in helping the girl.

It’s hard to believe that most people inquire about the District’s moral, and financial, obligations for injuries to students on the campus. It might not even be surprising to learn that few on the Board of Trustees have any idea how to answer such a question—although they might be required to make decisions about damage, or injury, settlements behind closed doors.

The general public has no reason to trust high school students where safety is concerned. It makes no sense to allow students to run such a lab without keen oversight by a responsible adult, or team of adults.


Frustrated Student
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 3:31 pm
Frustrated Student, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 3:31 pm
56 people like this

@bob

I really cannot stress this enough, but the point of contention is NOT the fact that students are resisting reasonable, well-informed lab policies. Rather, it is the issue that the head coach, who is supposed to be a responsible, kind adult, is threatrning and intimidating students (see above post by Alum). It is frustrating to see that people who are new to this situation seem to be diverting attention away from the issue of student well being towards a separate matter completely.


PAUSD mom
Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2018 at 3:58 pm
PAUSD mom, Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2018 at 3:58 pm
52 people like this

I'd like to know why PAUSD board with it's bad hirings of teachers and/principals... during the first 2 years of the probationary period of teachers and principals, are not asking for parental feed back. Why in this day and age with technology, can they not send out surveys to parents of the students for the 1st 2 years of probation before the teacher is tenured?

Why is it such an opaque process? There is a lack of transparency. Lack of asking for student or parent feedback.

PAUSD Board needs to get it's act in gear.
The fact that students and parents had to file title IX complaints and go to a school board meeting says it all.

Clearly this is not about entitlement. When a teacher swears, and has a nervous breakdown of tears in front of students, that is not someone who should be in charge of a classroom full of children.

If the teacher doesn't know how to code.. why are they being hired to teach CS?
That would be as ridiculous as hiring someone who doesn't have a teaching background or a teaching degree to be a principal to hire and fire teachers.


Frustrated Student
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 4:35 pm
Frustrated Student, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 4:35 pm
40 people like this

I would wager that one of the reasons for the bad hiring is the lack of technical evaluation of teachers. In large tech companies, engineers go through multiple interviews including a general interview and a technical interview. If the school adopted this technical evaluation practice, especially for teachers working in the STEM fields, they would easily be able to identify bad candidates from the very beginning and ensure that only qualified teachers are teaching these classes.

I suppose another part of it is the "relative" newness of the computer science programs - administration does not know what to look out for in these candidates, and instead judges by past accomplishments (which commonly are inaccurate measurements of skill), and personality (which can easily be faked in an interview). The current head coach and CS teacher is clearly an example of someone who managed to slip through this faulty interview process.


D
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2018 at 4:35 pm
D, Old Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2018 at 4:35 pm
34 people like this

@Bob

if you read closely, there is no contention about safety. The robotics students have said many times that they have an incredibly comprehensive safety plan that other teams in the area look up to. The real issue here is the component about the behavior of the adults involved.


Sara
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2018 at 4:39 pm
Sara, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2018 at 4:39 pm
25 people like this

We’ve been dealing with a lot of anxious, stressed out kids in our school and neighborhoods. Everything these Robotics kids have built up sounds like quite a step in the right direction to help with this problem. They work hard and accomplish a task together and learn resilience too (something really needed).
They have clearly stated there are strict safety protocols in place for their workshop. So, it sounds like their problems were not solved but created by the new coach.


Fraud on the student body
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2018 at 4:45 pm
Fraud on the student body, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2018 at 4:45 pm
34 people like this

Can't code in Java? This is ridiculous that right in the middle of Silicon Valley, the PAUSD circus show continues....can't find a teacher who can teach Java in a sea of Java programmers. I wonder if the principal hired someone with the wrong teaching credential for someone who is supposed to be qualified to teach AP Computer Science? She has a Career Technical Eeducation credential in ITEC. But in another District that has AP Computer Science, the teaching credential for those that teach AP Computer Science is a Single Subject Teaching credential that states:

"This credential authorizes the holder to teach the specific subject or subjects listed as supplementary authorizations in grades twelve and below, including preschool, and in classes organized primarily for adults, unless specific grade restrictions are indicated next to the subject.
CCA Computer Concepts and Applications"

Didn't they test the teacher to see if she could code in Java? Apparently not.

And given the principal canceled the student meeting once they wanted to bring in parents to observe, it seems as if the administration wanted to cover up their mistake.

The students need to file a Williams Act complaint for teacher misassignment.



Student
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2018 at 4:46 pm
Student, Old Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2018 at 4:46 pm
53 people like this

As a student in her AP Computer Science class, I'm ecstatic that she is finally out. She doesn't teach anything. I have literally never seen her write a single line of code herself, nor ever say anything that would indicate that she knows anything about code either. The class is a joke, everyone has 120% grade. I would prefer a class which I got a C but learned something. At least I would know that I earned that grade. To have hired her was a mistake. To keep her this long is an insult to us students.


APCS Sophomore
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 5:40 pm
APCS Sophomore, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 5:40 pm
41 people like this

Honestly, this couldn’t have come soon enough. Why can’t PAUSD find a good CS teacher and pay them a reasonable salary for a CS teacher. Now they have to bite the costs of an investigation because the teacher was incompetent. I essentially teach the APCS class because she can’t answer any questions. Her class is a joke and if she continued to run it, robotics would also become a joke.


Bob
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2018 at 5:41 pm
Bob, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2018 at 5:41 pm
16 people like this

> there is no contention about safety.

> The robotics students have said many times that they
> have an incredibly comprehensive safety plan that other
> teams in the area look up to

Would you hire any, or all, of these students as safety consultants in a manufacturing facility or an airport?

There are students, not experts. They have yet to even graduate from high school. None of them has ten years of industry experience in safety-related occupational roles.

Which leaves us with the problem of is this a bad hire, or is this teacher having push-back from children who are used to getting their way and don't like being told what to do by adults where safety is concerned?

With all of the other troubles at this district--Max McGee, Title IX violations, law suits, bullying, the need for an in-house Counsel and who knows what else not yet rearing its ugly head--one might be asking for a comprehensive investigation here.

Presumably this teacher is on probation. So, presumably this teacher can be released without the district being sued if it turns out that she is really the problem.

As to what is in the article--the Weekly simply writes what people tell them. The Weekly has no expertise in safety issues. So, believing everything in a Weekly article can lead one down the garden path.


Answers
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2018 at 5:48 pm
Answers, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2018 at 5:48 pm
21 people like this

@APCS Sophomore,
> Why can’t PAUSD find a good CS teacher and pay them a reasonable salary for a CS teacher.

This one has an easy answer...Teacher Union. But don't worry, <sarcasm> the main reason the teachers union exists is to look out for our children. </sarcasm>.


JR
Palo Verde
on Oct 13, 2018 at 6:02 pm
JR, Palo Verde
on Oct 13, 2018 at 6:02 pm
11 people like this

It's not necessary for an AP Computer Science teacher to be an expert in Java. A good software engineer already knows the concepts and algorithms and can pick up new languages quickly, especially at the basic level required for AP Computer Science. I would easily hire someone with 20 years experience in C, C++, Python, etc. knowing that it wouldn't take more than a day or two to come up to speed on Java.

But the major problem here is that it's hard to hire a teacher / engineer for < $100K when they can make several times that amount working across the street. Maybe the solution is to rely on volunteers more.


Unknown Student
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 13, 2018 at 6:15 pm
Unknown Student, Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 13, 2018 at 6:15 pm
23 people like this

@JR

I don't think you understand. She doesn't have meaningful experience in *any* programming language.


Frustrated Friend
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 6:20 pm
Frustrated Friend, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 6:20 pm
29 people like this

@Bob

Before you start assuming so much about the safety plan (which is created with the help of many of the team's industry mentors), why don't you look at the safety documents themselves. I'm sure if you send the team an email, they would be happy to provide them. It is really sad that you are repeatedly insulting the team without understanding how FRC works: it revolves around mentor-assisted exploration. The many industry mentors ensure the students are the safe, and the students are allowed to learn about engineering the hands-on way.


FRC Parent
Midtown
on Oct 13, 2018 at 6:28 pm
FRC Parent, Midtown
on Oct 13, 2018 at 6:28 pm
Like this comment

Should have joined Space Cookies. Local nationally ranked FRC team. Regular Chairman's Award winner at National Championship levels. That's a team that is run well and organized.


Parent
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 13, 2018 at 6:49 pm
Parent, Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 13, 2018 at 6:49 pm
8 people like this

@FRC Parent

I think it is really unnecessary for you to make this a one team vs. another team situation. This is about the students' well being. Team 8 has been a very strong team for several years at this point (I don't want to make this a team vs. team thing, but that does include being significantly stronger than the space cookies from a technical perspective).


Frustrated Student
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 6:53 pm
Frustrated Student, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 6:53 pm
22 people like this

To add on, one of the main values of the FIRST Robotics community is Gracious Professionalism®

With Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions. Gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. They avoid treating anyone like losers. No chest thumping tough talk, but no sticky-sweet platitudes either. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended.

We teams should stick out for one another, not try to assert dominance of one team over another.


Paly Parent
Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2018 at 7:00 pm
Paly Parent, Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2018 at 7:00 pm
20 people like this

The teacher has to have a teaching certificate and, likely for Paly to hire them, experience. For a capable person with CS training and experience, that's going to mean a steep, permanent pay cut. And the unionized workforce means the district has no flexibility - they have to pay based on the union contract scale.

A retired person might have a chance - but I imagine it is also hard to fine people who can make a smooth transition to high school teaching who have the skills.

I'm sure there are decent teachers out there, but I can understand why this is a hard position to fill.


No teaching experience?
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2018 at 7:08 pm
No teaching experience?, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2018 at 7:08 pm
12 people like this

She was making about $95,000 in SRVUSD in 2016. At least from an article in 2016, the way I am reading it, it sounds like she was in some sort of IT support role.

What does this mean?

"Krier has proved to be a favorite among the students, even though she teaches no class besides her advisory" in Web Link

This article states she went to the following schools: "From there, she went to University of Wisconsin for her teaching credentials, and since then has gone to a number of other schools to accumulate different credentials at places such as Harvard University, Babson College, Boston University, and Cal State East Bay."

Also the article does not say she was in a teaching role. It sounds like more of a IT assistant role according to:

"Now that she’s at Monte Vista, Krier spends her time helping both students and teachers.

“I usually work several projects in parallel,” Krier said. “[I show] teachers how to use or operate technology and [help] students troubleshooting technology problems.”


To @ Bob
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2018 at 9:12 pm
To @ Bob, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2018 at 9:12 pm
9 people like this

@ Bob,
Are you referring to the episode at Gunn 1980!?
- from a Gunn grad, 1979
Talk about a long memory!

I wish for the students to have a qualified teacher with solid skills, common sense, decent courtesy


Robotics
Barron Park
on Oct 13, 2018 at 9:28 pm
Robotics, Barron Park
on Oct 13, 2018 at 9:28 pm
15 people like this

Paly Robotics has always been fun with a lack of supervision from certificated staff. Does no one remember the incident from a decade ago when kids were unsupervised in the Paly Robotics lab on a Friday night and one student lost a couple of fingers in a machine?


Frustrated Student
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 9:35 pm
Frustrated Student, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 9:35 pm
21 people like this

@Robotics

Keyword: from a decade ago


Anonymous
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 11:07 pm
Anonymous, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 11:07 pm
25 people like this

@Robotics

The team has transitioned to a much more well managed era over the past decade, with increased safety awareness and regulations, certified adult coverage for lab hours, and a much more welcoming environment for students on the team as a community. Associating the current team with an incident that happened 10 years ago with zero correlation other than name and location (the head coach and students of that era are long since gone) is pretty questionable. Robotics hasn't been the way you describe for many years now, and it would be a good idea to consider researching a bit about the team and its present-day functionality rather than making these assumptions.


David Jines
Midtown
on Oct 14, 2018 at 12:48 am
David Jines, Midtown
on Oct 14, 2018 at 12:48 am
5 people like this

[Post removed.]


Mom
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 14, 2018 at 2:38 am
Mom, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 14, 2018 at 2:38 am
30 people like this

Some readers here did not read the following article and the reader feedback or they wouldn’t be posting that students are entitled or spoiled and don’t want safety measures. Read the postings here to understand the entire situation before posting something ignorant: Web Link

[Portion removed due to unsubstantiated comment] The students accept the new safety precautions, they are objecting to being yelled at all the time. [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language] I applaud the courageous students for calling her out even when they risk poor grades for doing so.


Meanwhile
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 14, 2018 at 9:34 am
Meanwhile, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 14, 2018 at 9:34 am
48 people like this

The teacher has been placed on leave and is being investigated. Piling on either the teacher OR the students in this forum is another example of the bullying that townsquare perpetuates and is a terrible example for our students about how to handle conflict. It made sense that folks approached the school board if they thought site admin wasn't responding. There has been a response now. Slinging insults (founded or otherwise) in this forum isn't productive and actually just generates more drama that our robotics students will have to carry...you can already see it in the above thread as they try to respond to anonymous adults. Adults: Help students navigate productive channels for settling conflict within an unweildy system rather than the cyber-bullying here. Students: Sorry we've let you down on this thread. I hope the investigation into your complaint is thorough and impartial.


Samuel L.
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 14, 2018 at 10:22 am
Samuel L., Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2018 at 10:22 am
37 people like this

Why did Paly administrators ignore the students so long that they were forced to address the board AND file a complaint?


Travis
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 14, 2018 at 11:08 am
Travis, Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 14, 2018 at 11:08 am
7 people like this

[Post removed.]


Staff Member2
Gunn High School
on Oct 14, 2018 at 12:27 pm
Staff Member2, Gunn High School
on Oct 14, 2018 at 12:27 pm
22 people like this

Teacher is still in probationary period: relieve her.
Hire a new CS teacher, which is difficult because you have to have a teaching credential, too. Lack of affordable housing and mediocre entry level step pay are put offs for qualified programmers who are also teachers.

Cancel Robotics this year. There’s no requirement that a CS teacher must take on a robotics team. For what? A tiny stipend? And now the advisor is going to have to be there all the time since it’ll be under a microscope, in addition to dealing with entitled students?


Wow
Los Altos
on Oct 14, 2018 at 1:59 pm
Wow, Los Altos
on Oct 14, 2018 at 1:59 pm
12 people like this

The safety issues and lab use skills don't have anything to do with programming. This is more of a class which should be supervised by a hardware engineer. It sounds to me like this teacher is in the wrong role, and so she is very nervous that something will happen. They'd be better off with one of the chemistry or physics teachers supervising the safety in the lab. They have experience with this concern.

Then there's this idea of saying that other mentors would no longer be required. That seems like a red flag. Experienced hardware AND software people should play a valuable role in such a club. Putting it all on the teacher would be a mistake. There again, I think it's likely a question of insecurity as to her own competence that would put a teacher into a situation where she's saying keep the parents out of the lab, regardless of valuable experience they might have. Her role should be more one of recruiting and supporting such mentors than it is one of being the sole mentor to the club members.

A lot is very wrong with this situation. You'd never know they have a successful and well run program over at their other high school. The students in that club have to take a technology class that teaches them about lab safety before they can join the club and use the lab. You can teach safe practices and these kids are old enough to learn them. The practices should not be changing on the fly as time goes on. Yet another red flag.


Mess
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2018 at 5:56 pm
Mess, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2018 at 5:56 pm
24 people like this

And the Board wanted to make CS a requirement and the high schools can't even hire teachers who can do basic programming?

The PAUSD has tried to pull the wool over the College Board who had to have approved the AP course content and syllabus for Computer Science. Do you think Paly submitted a syllabus to the College Board saying "in a correspondence school-like setting, students will self-teach themselves programming concepts while getting help with assignments from the other students in the class?" No way.

In addition, PAUSD has pulled the wool over the body that approves courses as UC/CSU approved a-g classes. There is no way that some sort of adhoc self-study independent study class with no actual teaching as opposed to a Classroom Based Instruction would be approved as a UC/CSU a-g class.

The Board needs to step in immediately and do a full audit to ensure that the AP classes are taught in accordance with the content and methods that the College Board originally approved. They need to immediately show up at Paly tomorrow and see what is going on in that class and compare it to the syllabus that the College Board originally approved for that class. They also need to interview the students in person.

If the principal has knowingly sat back and known that there was no actual teaching going on in the AP Computer Science class and the students were completely on their own, the principal needs to be removed, especially since the principal canceled the meeting when the students said they were going to bring their parents to the meeting.


Christine C
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 14, 2018 at 6:49 pm
Christine C, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2018 at 6:49 pm
19 people like this

Safety is so important! I applaud the team for being willing to look into their safety practices and listen to common sense improvements. Sounds like that new coach came in thinking things were in some sort of dire shape. Quite far from the reality as this team has a great safety record and they have been super successful as a student lead group. Go Paly kids! Keep up your hard work and dedication,! You are a credit to our town and the future looks bright with students like you heading out into the world in the coming years.


Frustrated with ignorance
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 14, 2018 at 7:30 pm
Frustrated with ignorance, Old Palo Alto
on Oct 14, 2018 at 7:30 pm
7 people like this

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


Alum
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 14, 2018 at 9:00 pm
Alum, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 14, 2018 at 9:00 pm
8 people like this

When I took Functional and Object Oriented Programming as a Paly freshman (this was in 2014-2015), they were taught by Scott Friedland. Some of the best classes in high school, hands down.

It didn't appear to be a terribly complex formula—he lectured for part of class, assigned programming exercises from a Java textbook that focused on specific skills, and had a few tests each semester.

If a similar model were adopted for AP CS I think the students would be pretty thrilled. Maybe someone should ask Mr. Friedland if he'd be willing to move from math to full time CS :P


south
Green Acres
on Oct 14, 2018 at 9:22 pm
south, Green Acres
on Oct 14, 2018 at 9:22 pm
5 people like this


Lack of qualified STEM teachers in not unique to Paly. It is shocking that in Silicon Valley the best that PAUSD can hire for an 8th grade science teacher is a teacher that doesn't understand basic physics. The students in my child's 8th grade science class know more than the teacher and are very frustrated. We went during parent visitation day to see for ourselves. The teacher did not understand conservation of mass and erroneously explained it to the class during a student's presentation. Students politely tried to point out the mistakes but the teacher was unyielding. [intentionally keeping the middle school name and gender of the teacher unspecified]


Anon
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 14, 2018 at 10:14 pm
Anon, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 14, 2018 at 10:14 pm
2 people like this

So who will coach robotics and teach AP CS now?


Mess
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2018 at 10:43 pm
Mess, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2018 at 10:43 pm
18 people like this

To teach AP CS and have a Java/Python knowledge, PAUSD should have hired someone with the Commission on Teacher Credentialing supplemental credential of Computer Science (the credential that replaces CCA). Why they didn't is anyone's guess.

The info is here: Web Link

Here is a cut and paste of what the link above says:

Computer Science
 Coursework completed must cover the following content areas:
 Computer Programming: includes expertise in at least one modern, high-level programming language (e.g., Python, Java, C/C++/C#).
 Data structures and algorithms: covers data representation, abstraction, searching and sorting in the context of solving problems using programming and computational tools.
 Digital devices, systems and networks: covers computer and communication devices and the systems they compose, including the concepts and abstractions that enable stand-alone, networked, and mobile digital devices to operate and communicate.
 Software design: covers the process of planning, engineering and implementing a software system to solve a problem, typically using both a design and a programming methodology, such as object-oriented and functional approaches.
 Impacts of computing: includes the social, ethical, and legal issues and impacts of computing, as well as the contributions of computer science to current and future innovations in the arts, business, humanities, medicine, and science. These topics may be included within courses that cover any of the other content areas.
 The balance of the units may be in any course that falls within the academic department for that subject category. Computer classes in the Education Department may be used including a pedagogy course in computer science from either department.
 Degrees in Educational Technology or Information Technology do not automatically meet the requirement without submission of official transcripts to verify all the required content areas have been fulfilled.


iii
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 15, 2018 at 11:17 am
iii, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2018 at 11:17 am
21 people like this

Just a bunch of spoiled, self indulgent parents and children.
[Portion removed.] Probably having a terrible year
as a team. And now whined and complained yourselves into NO COACH
and NO TEAM.
What did you really expect?
Good job, got a teacher and coach all but fired (not saying was
a good coach) and ruined what was left of your season.
Just immature, self indulgent thinking from A to Z.....
Been on sports team where we went from top 10 state to bottom of
leagues in one season!!! Coach tried his best, was not that great.
But tried 100%. Kept our mouths shut and fought through the season.
Coach was gone end of season. We did not have to whine, and fuss so much
it became front page fodder of jibber jabber by self entitled parents and
their self entitled children.
[Portion removed.]


iii
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 15, 2018 at 11:51 am
iii, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2018 at 11:51 am
30 people like this

But what really burns my chaps; This is
FRONT PAGE NEWS of PALO ALTO Daily and
this Internet Blog.
Complete public insult to the Teacher and Coach.
Why would anyone support this? Why have more posters not protested?
Thank God in my past 45yrs of jobs, coaching, sports,
and more, I was not front page news, getting harassed by
children of no true life experience and their self entitled parents
for my "poor" performance on a public forum. EVEN IF I GAVE had given
150% of my time and did my best.
I am sure the teacher/coach did. Not saying she did a good job.
But this is how you treat her? FRONT PAGE NEWS, CYBER BULLY BY
THE PARENTS/STUDENTS, chasing her via school admin, school board meetings and more!
Again, I suspect you had a lousy season not because of the coach,
because of yourselves and own skill set this year.
STOP the BULLY of the coach and teacher I say....
Daily and Online delete this entire embarrassing harassment of a teacher and coach.


Message to All
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 15, 2018 at 11:51 am
Message to All, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2018 at 11:51 am
38 people like this

@ all current and alumn Students posting: I'm sorry Paly has let you down so badly. You deserve a good teacher who has expertise in their subject, you deserve to learn, you deserve to be treated respectfully and to be heard by all adult parties involved. I'm impressed with all your mature postings (more mature than many of the adults on this thread).

@ adults: do you really think students with all they already have on their plates would risk coming forward about a bad teacher knowing that it will take time they don't have, add to their stress, and there could be repercussions in the classroom? I'm disgusted at some adults' posting on this thread. Of course students can continue to learn about safety, just as we adults can continue to learn about anything, but the issue is clearly the new CS teacher behavior and unprofessionalism.

@ Paly Admin: get it together. Relieve teacher immediately. Hire someone who knows their subject matter. @Mess clearly identified the skills above that are needed/required for CS/AP CS/Robotics Team. Enter this century please.

@ School Board: please get this one right! You have a teacher who students say doesn't know the subject she's assigned to teach berating pupils and locking them in a classroom in what's supposed to be one of the top high schools in the nation!

@ Superintendent: thank you for listening to the students when the Paly admin wouldn't. Now is your first opportunity to show the students who you really serve.

Yes I am a Paly Parent, and no I do not have a student on the Robotics Team or in any CS class (and if this teacher remains in the job I will tell my student not to take these classes). I'm hoping that the students speaking up will be heard and a qualified teacher will be hired.


cmarg
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 15, 2018 at 11:53 am
cmarg, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2018 at 11:53 am
23 people like this

I want to answer the question about why can't PAUSD hire great teachers. I don't know if you are aware that there is a shortage of teachers. Also, some teachers go into the profession with amazingly awesome intentions however their enthusiasm and commitment get squelched sometimes by parents and students who may not respectful. I would appreciate those who complain about teachers to go and teach a full week of with kids and then voice your opinions and ideas about teachers.

Our community needs to focus on coming together and looking for ways to encourage one another. It is a time for change - a time when we need to look at what is good and focus on peoples' strengths. Maybe we can all take some time to find out what can be done to help and support one another without knocking one another down.

If teachers/parents/administrators/students/employees/children are out of line, we all need to have the crucial conversations that are safe and are helpful. Let's become a community of positive change agents. Let's see what we can do as a community to build people up and provide input in a way that propels people to positively see how they can change.


rsmithjr
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 15, 2018 at 1:31 pm
rsmithjr, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2018 at 1:31 pm
6 people like this

It can be very difficult to get experienced computer scientists/software engineers as public-school teachers. Some of the reasons include:

1. Salaries: The PAUSD and most other districts cannot offer salaries to meet the market demand for the skills they require. This is because union contracts require that salaries be based on a combination of years of experience and course/professional development credits. "Merit pay" and differential pay for different skills is generally not possible. [I might note that research has consistently shown that seniority and extra credits are not correlated to quality of instruction at least after the first few years.]

2. "Certification" barriers to entry: Public-school teachers must have teaching certificates. This can take several years of effort and expense to obtain. Private schools generally are able to hire people who do not have certificates. This puts them at an advantage for obtaining people who have serious industry experience in fields like robotics, artificial intelligence, and software engineering. So we get people who have had a few courses and no real experience.


There are probably many excellent software engineers in Silicon Valley who would llke to teach but are discouraged by the lack of merit pay and the need for certification. I have met a number who found jobs at private schools that were able to appreciate their experience.

I have always been a strong supporter of labor unions but they have some downsides to be certain. Protectionist policies are among them.


not on the robotics team
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 15, 2018 at 10:24 pm
not on the robotics team, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2018 at 10:24 pm
7 people like this

@iii
so sorry that innovating technology for the future and STEM, in general, is more smiled upon here in palo alto then watching a ball being kicked over and over again :)
So unfortunate that this made the front page I bet its because of these darn millennials that are so spoiled and entitled and not because paly students were actively ignored and were forced to put up with an abusive teacher, therefore highlighting a fatal flaw in PALY's administration.


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