News

School board discusses revised police contract

Memorandum of understanding updated in response to community concerns

The Palo Alto school board discussed Tuesday a revised memorandum of understanding with the police department that no longer includes four sections that community members worried could disproportionately affect students of color and students with disabilities and mental illness.

The memorandum no longer includes four previously added sections on protocols for involuntary psychiatric holds, use of handcuffs on students during a medical transport, on-campus student searches and confidentiality with regards to reports to Child Protective Services.

The proposed memorandum of understanding first came to the board in August with changes meant to improve the district and police department's response to reports of sexual violence, but drew concern from parents about these other new services.

"Anecdotally, HUR (historically underrepresented) students seem to be more vulnerable to profiling and mistreatment in their interactions with PAPD," Sara Woodham, co-chair of advocacy group Parent Advocates for Student Success, wrote in an email to the school board in August.

School board members had urged staff in August to engage more proactively with community groups including Parent Advocates for Student Success, which represents minority students and families, on any further revisions.

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Staff and the police department agreed to remove the four new sections entirely from the revised document, which the board will vote on at its next regular meeting in December.

Parent Advocates for Student Success has pressed the district to require the police department to regularly provide data on school resource officers' interactions with students, as is recommended by the American Civil Liberties Union. Some trustees agreed on Tuesday but said this falls outside the bounds of a contract, asking staff to instead look into collecting this data.

President Ken Dauber said he wants the district to be notified of and track every incident in which a school resource officer exercises his or her "police power" with a student. Because school resource officers are a constant, familiar presence at schools, this creates a comfort level that can lead to unintentional policy violations, Dauber said.

"The first step in that is to be notified whenever those powers are actually exercised on campus so we can understand whether procedures were followed in that particular case," he said. "That to me seems to be an area of particular vulnerability."

The memorandum of understanding's new section on sexual violence remains the same. It clarifies how the two bodies should communicate when sexual misconduct involving students, teachers and/or staff is reported.

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"It is important for the PAUSD to clarify its working relationship with the PAPD to ensure an effective, prompt, coordinated, and fair response to sexual misconduct," the agreement states. "The purpose of this MOU is to coordinate PAUSD and PAPD processes in response to reported sexual misconduct and to increase collaboration when such matters arise."

The proposed contract runs through June 30, 2020, with the option for a one-year extension.

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School board discusses revised police contract

Memorandum of understanding updated in response to community concerns

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 8:45 am
Updated: Wed, Nov 14, 2018, 8:49 am

The Palo Alto school board discussed Tuesday a revised memorandum of understanding with the police department that no longer includes four sections that community members worried could disproportionately affect students of color and students with disabilities and mental illness.

The memorandum no longer includes four previously added sections on protocols for involuntary psychiatric holds, use of handcuffs on students during a medical transport, on-campus student searches and confidentiality with regards to reports to Child Protective Services.

The proposed memorandum of understanding first came to the board in August with changes meant to improve the district and police department's response to reports of sexual violence, but drew concern from parents about these other new services.

"Anecdotally, HUR (historically underrepresented) students seem to be more vulnerable to profiling and mistreatment in their interactions with PAPD," Sara Woodham, co-chair of advocacy group Parent Advocates for Student Success, wrote in an email to the school board in August.

School board members had urged staff in August to engage more proactively with community groups including Parent Advocates for Student Success, which represents minority students and families, on any further revisions.

Staff and the police department agreed to remove the four new sections entirely from the revised document, which the board will vote on at its next regular meeting in December.

Parent Advocates for Student Success has pressed the district to require the police department to regularly provide data on school resource officers' interactions with students, as is recommended by the American Civil Liberties Union. Some trustees agreed on Tuesday but said this falls outside the bounds of a contract, asking staff to instead look into collecting this data.

President Ken Dauber said he wants the district to be notified of and track every incident in which a school resource officer exercises his or her "police power" with a student. Because school resource officers are a constant, familiar presence at schools, this creates a comfort level that can lead to unintentional policy violations, Dauber said.

"The first step in that is to be notified whenever those powers are actually exercised on campus so we can understand whether procedures were followed in that particular case," he said. "That to me seems to be an area of particular vulnerability."

The memorandum of understanding's new section on sexual violence remains the same. It clarifies how the two bodies should communicate when sexual misconduct involving students, teachers and/or staff is reported.

"It is important for the PAUSD to clarify its working relationship with the PAPD to ensure an effective, prompt, coordinated, and fair response to sexual misconduct," the agreement states. "The purpose of this MOU is to coordinate PAUSD and PAPD processes in response to reported sexual misconduct and to increase collaboration when such matters arise."

The proposed contract runs through June 30, 2020, with the option for a one-year extension.

Comments

Respect not Retaliation
Barron Park
on Nov 13, 2018 at 2:37 pm
Respect not Retaliation, Barron Park
on Nov 13, 2018 at 2:37 pm

"Anecdotally, HUR (historically underrepresented) students seem to be more vulnerable to profiling and mistreatment in their interactions with PAPD,"

One of the TV channels put together a database on rates in HUR populations versus others. I seem to recall the overall rate was pretty low in Palo Alto but was about twice higher for HUR students, which is unacceptable. Maybe someone can repost that.

I am also concerned that our district, despite its being forced to come to terms with some problems like Title IX, nevertheless has never been willing to examine itself for the retaliation culture among staff. When problems weren't handled well, retaliations were not only allowed to flourish, they seemed to become part and parcel of the district's legal strategy and relationships with anyone who had complained or had problems. District staff engaged in overt tactics intended to induce stress in families who had complained or who they wanted to "beat", and when said families responded out of stress, they were easy to then mistreat without anyone at the schools believing they had done anything wrong. I can think of instances in which the police were used that way.

There is a power dynamic that is too easy to go awry and abuse, and it will go awry more often when those in power (employees and administrators) don't want the powerless to enforce rights that may be inconvenient or "embarrassing" to the powerful. Again, I don't see any movement in the district to understand the retaliation culture, do right by those who have been hurt, or create a culture that obviates it. I especially don't see any mechanisms to prevent those who brought Title IX complaints or may have other unaddressed problems from being further retaliated against or damaged by the downstream ramifications when the OCR leaves (even when the original perpetrator is no longer here).

All of our children deserve to be in schools where the culture treats them and their families with respect, and honors processes that protect their rights, safety, and dignity, even if employees disagree or have their own negative perspectives. HUR students are just going to be more damaged by such situations. We thus really must fix this mistreatment for everyone in order to prevent HUR students from being mistreated even more. The answer isn't just to keep the HUR students from being mistreated disproportionately, it's to create a culture in which it is far less likely for anyone to be mistreated, and in which those who do have swift, reasonably attainable, trustworthy recourse.


Addressing the retaliation culture for everyone alone is really a hard sell, as I have experienced a phenomenon in this district that employees and administrators are very single-track, and tend not to trust doing anything that smacks of win-wins or killing two (or three or four) birds with one stone. They seem downright offended by and antagonistic to a holistic, big picture approach to almost anything. So, sadly, I expect a very narrowly-focused committee and isolated effort, and nothing really changing.


Bring the Mod Squad to PA
Greenmeadow
on Nov 13, 2018 at 3:15 pm
Bring the Mod Squad to PA, Greenmeadow
on Nov 13, 2018 at 3:15 pm

Youthful-looking cops should be hired and directed to go undercover at both Paly and Gunn to ensure that pertinent laws are being upheld.

Just like in the old TV show.


21 Jump Street
Community Center
on Nov 13, 2018 at 5:46 pm
21 Jump Street, Community Center
on Nov 13, 2018 at 5:46 pm

>>> Youthful-looking cops should be hired and directed to go undercover at both Paly and Gunn to ensure that pertinent laws are being upheld.

Just like in the old TV show.

Nah. The Mod Squad was too 60s fashion-oriented and the actors were lousy.

Let's go 21 Jump Street with a young Johnny Depp infiltrating the Paly student body and crossing the lines at times. You gotta have some 'edge' to make it real.


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