News

Former district principal, parent Matt Nagle is running for school board

In bid, former principal aims to prioritize minority students

Matt Nagle, a former Juana Briones Elementary School principal, is running for a seat on the school board in November. Courtesy Matt Nagle.

Matt Nagle, a former Juana Briones Elementary School principal, longtime educator and district parent, has announced he's making a bid for a seat on the Palo Alto school board in the November election.

Nagle, who was Juana Briones' principal from 2009 to 2012, said he was motivated to run by his son, a rising Gunn High School freshman and Mexican American student, and other minority students who he feels are poorly served by the district.

"I'm really seeking to improve the academic outcomes of Latino, Black and low-income students," he said in an interview. "After all these decades, every Latino, Black and low-income student should share in the same school success that the majority of students are experiencing in Palo Alto."

He said the school board needs "diverse, experienced educational leaders" now more than ever, with unprecedented disruption and uncertainty due to the coronavirus.

Nagle started his career as a teacher in the 1990s, following in the footsteps of his mother, a lifelong kindergarten teacher. Nagle's wife, Claudia Peñaloza, is also a teacher in Escondido Elementary School's Spanish immersion program. He worked as an elementary school principal in Saratoga and San Jose before arriving at Juana Briones, where he said he was proud of increasing enrollment and bringing a "resurgence and a rejuvenation in energy" to the school.

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He left Juana Briones in 2012 because he wanted to move to Marin County, he said. This news organization reported in 2012 that the announcement of his departure followed tensions at the school, "apparently precipitated by Nagle's controversial recommendation not to renew the contract of a popular school librarian," which led to other staff members coming forward with complaints.

Nagle and his daughter moved to Marin County, where he served as principal at West Marin Elementary in the Shoreline Unified School District for six years. He credited the Shoreline school district with helping his daughter thrive more than she had in Palo Alto Unified.

He described the state of the Palo Alto school district at the time as "the hinges were coming off," pointing to a student suicide cluster, federal Office for Civil Rights investigations into sexual misconduct and concerns about management and transparency. He said the district has improved since that time but thinks "the board has just begun changing its culture," which also motivated him to run.

"It seems the current board has stopped most of the bleeding but they still have a ways to go," Nagle said.

Nagle's departure from West Marin Elementary was controversial. He sued the district, alleging he was demoted in retaliation for running against the county's superintendent of schools. He had been reassigned to a teaching position after losing his bid to unseat Superintendent of Schools Mary Jane Burke. During the campaign, he was critical of her and her response to closing the achievement gap, according to news articles.

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Nagle told the Weekly he "upset the status quo of Marin County" and allegedly the school board had colluded with Burke against him.

The district settled with him earlier this year for $700,000, according to a Point Reyes Light article.

In 2015, Nagle also ran for a seat on the Tamalpais Union High School District board of trustees and lost narrowly in a recount.

The through-line in Nagle's educational career and political aspirations, he said, is closing the achievement gap. He criticized the current Palo Alto board's approach to this issue, stating that the members "ignore" minority and low-income students and "treat them in a deficit model, as damaged, when that's not the case."

If elected, he said he would focus on personal, direct engagement with minority and low-income students and their families. He said he wants to use a Google form to solicit feedback and better understand their experiences.

"We need to get their stories and their narratives," Nagle said. "Too many of our board members talk about data. They only mean quantitative data, which is numbers. My son is not a number."

As a parent and the spouse of a teacher, Nagle feels firsthand both the pressures and risks of reopening schools.

"I have both forces pushing on me: one force of, I don't want my wife, a teacher, to get ill or get me ill, and the other force is I don't want my son to languish and wither away at home when he should be in school," Nagle said. "But the question is and my goal is: Can we make it safe enough to bring small groups of students back initially and then larger groups later by June 2021?"

He said the school board should direct the superintendent and staff to come up with "viable" options for bringing small groups of students back to school when safe. He thinks teachers, staff and parents need to have an "honest conversation" about the likelihood that schools could be physically closed for the entire school year.

"I'm certainly not in favor of that, even with the risk to my health and the risk to my wife's health. I'm not in favor of keeping kids out of school until June 2021," he said.

Nagle is not filing an official candidate statement, nor is he accepting campaign donations. He's instead asking people to donate to nonprofits he is passionate about or has connections to.

Nagle is also currently enrolled in the Doctorate for Educational Leadership for Social Justice program at California State University, East Bay.

Nagle is among six candidates running for three open seats on the school board: incumbents Todd Collins and Jennifer DiBrienza and newcomers Karna Nisewaner, Jesse Ladomirak and Katie Causey.

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Former district principal, parent Matt Nagle is running for school board

In bid, former principal aims to prioritize minority students

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Aug 14, 2020, 1:53 pm

Matt Nagle, a former Juana Briones Elementary School principal, longtime educator and district parent, has announced he's making a bid for a seat on the Palo Alto school board in the November election.

Nagle, who was Juana Briones' principal from 2009 to 2012, said he was motivated to run by his son, a rising Gunn High School freshman and Mexican American student, and other minority students who he feels are poorly served by the district.

"I'm really seeking to improve the academic outcomes of Latino, Black and low-income students," he said in an interview. "After all these decades, every Latino, Black and low-income student should share in the same school success that the majority of students are experiencing in Palo Alto."

He said the school board needs "diverse, experienced educational leaders" now more than ever, with unprecedented disruption and uncertainty due to the coronavirus.

Nagle started his career as a teacher in the 1990s, following in the footsteps of his mother, a lifelong kindergarten teacher. Nagle's wife, Claudia Peñaloza, is also a teacher in Escondido Elementary School's Spanish immersion program. He worked as an elementary school principal in Saratoga and San Jose before arriving at Juana Briones, where he said he was proud of increasing enrollment and bringing a "resurgence and a rejuvenation in energy" to the school.

He left Juana Briones in 2012 because he wanted to move to Marin County, he said. This news organization reported in 2012 that the announcement of his departure followed tensions at the school, "apparently precipitated by Nagle's controversial recommendation not to renew the contract of a popular school librarian," which led to other staff members coming forward with complaints.

Nagle and his daughter moved to Marin County, where he served as principal at West Marin Elementary in the Shoreline Unified School District for six years. He credited the Shoreline school district with helping his daughter thrive more than she had in Palo Alto Unified.

He described the state of the Palo Alto school district at the time as "the hinges were coming off," pointing to a student suicide cluster, federal Office for Civil Rights investigations into sexual misconduct and concerns about management and transparency. He said the district has improved since that time but thinks "the board has just begun changing its culture," which also motivated him to run.

"It seems the current board has stopped most of the bleeding but they still have a ways to go," Nagle said.

Nagle's departure from West Marin Elementary was controversial. He sued the district, alleging he was demoted in retaliation for running against the county's superintendent of schools. He had been reassigned to a teaching position after losing his bid to unseat Superintendent of Schools Mary Jane Burke. During the campaign, he was critical of her and her response to closing the achievement gap, according to news articles.

Nagle told the Weekly he "upset the status quo of Marin County" and allegedly the school board had colluded with Burke against him.

The district settled with him earlier this year for $700,000, according to a Point Reyes Light article.

In 2015, Nagle also ran for a seat on the Tamalpais Union High School District board of trustees and lost narrowly in a recount.

The through-line in Nagle's educational career and political aspirations, he said, is closing the achievement gap. He criticized the current Palo Alto board's approach to this issue, stating that the members "ignore" minority and low-income students and "treat them in a deficit model, as damaged, when that's not the case."

If elected, he said he would focus on personal, direct engagement with minority and low-income students and their families. He said he wants to use a Google form to solicit feedback and better understand their experiences.

"We need to get their stories and their narratives," Nagle said. "Too many of our board members talk about data. They only mean quantitative data, which is numbers. My son is not a number."

As a parent and the spouse of a teacher, Nagle feels firsthand both the pressures and risks of reopening schools.

"I have both forces pushing on me: one force of, I don't want my wife, a teacher, to get ill or get me ill, and the other force is I don't want my son to languish and wither away at home when he should be in school," Nagle said. "But the question is and my goal is: Can we make it safe enough to bring small groups of students back initially and then larger groups later by June 2021?"

He said the school board should direct the superintendent and staff to come up with "viable" options for bringing small groups of students back to school when safe. He thinks teachers, staff and parents need to have an "honest conversation" about the likelihood that schools could be physically closed for the entire school year.

"I'm certainly not in favor of that, even with the risk to my health and the risk to my wife's health. I'm not in favor of keeping kids out of school until June 2021," he said.

Nagle is not filing an official candidate statement, nor is he accepting campaign donations. He's instead asking people to donate to nonprofits he is passionate about or has connections to.

Nagle is also currently enrolled in the Doctorate for Educational Leadership for Social Justice program at California State University, East Bay.

Nagle is among six candidates running for three open seats on the school board: incumbents Todd Collins and Jennifer DiBrienza and newcomers Karna Nisewaner, Jesse Ladomirak and Katie Causey.

Comments

Samuel L.
Registered user
Charleston Gardens
on Aug 14, 2020 at 4:50 pm
Samuel L., Charleston Gardens
Registered user
on Aug 14, 2020 at 4:50 pm

If Nagle is elected, wouldn't his wife, a teacher at Escondido, need to leave the district? If I'm not mistaken, spouses of board members are unable to work for the district. I believe Dharap's wife was going to get a job with the district, but in the board meeting, the board said that it was not allowed.


Josie S.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2020 at 5:21 am
Josie S., Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2020 at 5:21 am

Matt Nagle for school board.....are you kidding me!! As a Special Education teacher who worked under him at Briones, he didn't seem to be very passionate about any students, especially not my students...what has happened to Palo Alto Unified...it's a sad state of affairs for sure...


Facts and Figures
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 15, 2020 at 8:57 am
Facts and Figures, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2020 at 8:57 am

We need a candidate who has been committed to PAUSD by putting 100% of their kids in our K-12 programs.

With all due respect, Mr. Nagle seems to have run for office in two other communities and now he has come back here.

Let's get parents on the Board who have shown their 100% commitment to this District by making it work for ALL their kids and are in the District now.

We have ZERO sitting Board members who fit this description.


Resident
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 15, 2020 at 9:46 am
Resident, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2020 at 9:46 am

On Nagle, you can read his departure from Briones here in the Weekly Web Link . He was a Skelly principal hire, and like several others (Winston, McEvoy, Diorio, I can't even remember all the ones from Jordan), did not do well or stay long.

On Facts & Figures point - having experience with the schools is helpful for school board, no doubt. I believe that all five current board members either sent multiple kids to PAUSD or attended it themselves (I count about 12 between them, plus or minus a couple). By contrast, at Ravenswood, none of the five board members have either attended or sent any students to their schools - that might be more of a problem.


Roy M
Registered user
Downtown North
on Aug 15, 2020 at 10:09 am
Roy M, Downtown North
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2020 at 10:09 am

It is much better to have current or recent experience in the district. I am ok with school board members who may have one kid in the district and one out of the district as it only takes one kid in the district to be aware of the parent perspective. In fact, I would hope that having a kid at a private school might expose the person to other methods that may or may not be applicable to the district. If you are really concerned about a candidate sending a kid to a private school, ask the candidate why and what should be different about the district that would change that decision.


Facts and Figures
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 15, 2020 at 1:51 pm
Facts and Figures, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2020 at 1:51 pm

@Resident,

Sorry, but that's a stretch.

Anyone who has been out of the district 5 years or more is out of date.

And, now anyone who has not had all theirs kid attend in the Pandemic should not run. Not even a sitting board member.


Barron Park dad
Registered user
Barron Park
on Aug 15, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Barron Park dad, Barron Park
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2020 at 4:00 pm

I would like to see a candidate for the Board who is committed to improving the PAUSD academic outcomes for -all- students in the district, not only minority and low-income students. It is "both/and". It is not "only" as this candidate seems to be saying will be his sole focus.

He said "I'm really seeking to improve the academic outcomes of Latino, Black and low-income students."


Palo Alto retired teacher
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 15, 2020 at 6:26 pm
Palo Alto retired teacher, Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2020 at 6:26 pm
former Briones parent
Registered user
Barron Park
on Aug 15, 2020 at 10:37 pm
former Briones parent, Barron Park
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2020 at 10:37 pm

My son and daughter went to Briones during Nagle's tenure at Briones. Three comments:
1) what kind of principal uses a bull horn to yell at the children to stop running around on the grass yard during recess? Aren't kids suppose to get exercise during recess? They always did before and after Nagle. Also, aren't bull horns reserved for the police to yell at criminals. That was my first observation of Matt Nagle, a principal acting like a cop yelling at criminals to stop what they were doing.
[Portion removed.]
3) Most parents and teachers did not like his approach to running the school. The two prior principals were decent and understanding people. Matt Nagle was neither. [Portion removed.]


former Biroines parent
Registered user
Barron Park
on Aug 16, 2020 at 7:53 pm
former Biroines parent, Barron Park
Registered user
on Aug 16, 2020 at 7:53 pm

Not surprising that Nagle got jobs after leaving PAUSD, when comments like mine posted above get deleted by authorities. When personal experiences and examples of interacting with him are not allowed to be told, people are not hearing the whole story when considering to vote for him for school board. A candidate's past track should be considered when running for office.

I would be glad to provide my name and phone number if Palo Alto Online would allow my full posts.


Facts and Figures
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 16, 2020 at 8:36 pm
Facts and Figures, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Aug 16, 2020 at 8:36 pm
Former teacher
Registered user
Barron Park
on Aug 16, 2020 at 9:45 pm
Former teacher, Barron Park
Registered user
on Aug 16, 2020 at 9:45 pm

I worked at Briones when Mr. Nagle was principal. I would not recommend him for the Board of Education.


Palo Alto retired teacher
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 16, 2020 at 11:32 pm
Palo Alto retired teacher, Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 16, 2020 at 11:32 pm

I see my post has been removed. I can only repeat, that I do not recommend Mr. Nagle for a post on the board of education.


Amy Brown
Registered user
Green Acres
on Aug 17, 2020 at 10:21 am
Amy Brown, Green Acres
Registered user
on Aug 17, 2020 at 10:21 am

He was the principle at Briones when my daughter was there. He was awful!! He didn’t care about the kids or any problems they may have had. I would not recommend him for school board [portion removed.]


Mark Weiss
Downtown North

Registered user
on Aug 17, 2020 at 11:29 am
Name hidden, Downtown North

Registered user
on Aug 17, 2020 at 11:29 am

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