News

Satisfied by district's review of past claims, board approves hiring of new student services director

San Ramon Valley High School principal to join district office Sept. 21

The Palo Alto Board of Education unanimously approved the hiring of Jason Krolikowski as director of student services on Tuesday evening, stating that they were confident district staff had properly vetted allegations made against him in a 2017 student free-speech lawsuit.

The Palo Alto Board of Education approved the hiring of Jason Krolikowski as the school district's new student services director on Sept. 8. Courtesy San Ramon Valley Unified School District.

Nathaniel Yu, who was a 17-year-old San Ramon Valley High School junior at the time, alleged the school district violated his constitutional rights under the First Amendment when it disciplined him for his role in creating what his lawyers called "a James Bond-style parody video" in February 2017 during his campaign for student body president. Krolikowski was not principal of the school at that time and was not named as a defendant in the original lawsuit filed in 2017, but was added in an amended complaint filed in February 2018, according to court records.

The lawsuit alleged that Krolikowski, who became principal of San Ramon Valley High School in the fall of 2017, "failed to investigate, document, or to prepare an investigation report" when Yu reported incidents of vandalism and hate speech at the start of the 2017-18 school year. It also alleges Krolikowski and other administrators did not address Yu's reports of "threats of violence and death" made against his family on social media sites.

The San Ramon Valley Unified School District settled the lawsuit in April, awarding Yu $665,000 and later issuing a public apology.

Superintendent Don Austin, who requested that the item be pulled off the school board's consent calendar so it could be discussed, said during the virtual meeting that the incidents of vandalism and hate speech were in fact investigated, according to Krolikowski and confirmed by other district staff.

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"Mr. Krolikowski's involvement in this case was a tiny sliver of an amended claim and by all accounts for everyone that we spoke to in positions to know, (he) acted the way they would have hoped and expected," Austin said.

Board members said they talked at length with Austin about Krolikowski's background and agreed to support the superintendent's recommendation to hire him. Board President Todd Collins said he reached out to people in the San Ramon Valley district who "knew about the investigation and all its details and independently was able to verify the facts that Dr. Austin presented."

"I'm confident these issues are not material and shouldn't concern us about Mr. Krolikowski," said board member Ken Dauber.

"Our job is to let staff do their jobs and staff is recommending to us that this is the person," echoed board member Jennifer DiBrienza. "The explanations we've been given satisfy me. I'm ready to see this person come and do a good job in this district."

Krolikowski's appointment is effective Sept. 21. He will replace current Director of Student Services Miriam Stevenson, who is "going into the private sector," Austin said.

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How would the candidates vote?

As part of the Palo Alto Weekly's election coverage, we will be asking the non-incumbent candidates running for Palo Alto Board of Education how they would vote — and why — on significant issues that the board takes action on before November.

This week, the Weekly asked how the candidates would vote on the hiring of Jason Krolikowsi.

Katie Causey: I cannot say how I would have voted because I haven't reviewed the information that was privy only to the board. Board members expressed they felt Mr. Krolikowski had been properly vetted, but the community does not know what that looks like.

Jesse Ladomirak: As a non-incumbent, I am not privy to any of this confidential information, all of which would be critical to me in deciding whether or not to support the superintendent's decision to hire him, and it would not be responsible of me to decide one way or the other without it. However, as a community member and PAUSD parent, I very much hope that all candidates, not just white men like Mr. Krolikowski, are given the same chance to explain past incidents and receive the same understanding and forgiveness during the hiring process.

Matt Nagle: I would have voted "no" because administrators should have never let it reach the board level. Don Austin, as well as the human resources administrators, should have anticipated the negative optics of anti-Asian racism that this hire would bring. The board's "yes" votes showed a lack of respect and understanding of many in our Asian community.

Karna Nisewaner didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Satisfied by district's review of past claims, board approves hiring of new student services director

San Ramon Valley High School principal to join district office Sept. 21

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Sep 9, 2020, 9:07 am
Updated: Fri, Sep 11, 2020, 8:57 am

The Palo Alto Board of Education unanimously approved the hiring of Jason Krolikowski as director of student services on Tuesday evening, stating that they were confident district staff had properly vetted allegations made against him in a 2017 student free-speech lawsuit.

Nathaniel Yu, who was a 17-year-old San Ramon Valley High School junior at the time, alleged the school district violated his constitutional rights under the First Amendment when it disciplined him for his role in creating what his lawyers called "a James Bond-style parody video" in February 2017 during his campaign for student body president. Krolikowski was not principal of the school at that time and was not named as a defendant in the original lawsuit filed in 2017, but was added in an amended complaint filed in February 2018, according to court records.

The lawsuit alleged that Krolikowski, who became principal of San Ramon Valley High School in the fall of 2017, "failed to investigate, document, or to prepare an investigation report" when Yu reported incidents of vandalism and hate speech at the start of the 2017-18 school year. It also alleges Krolikowski and other administrators did not address Yu's reports of "threats of violence and death" made against his family on social media sites.

The San Ramon Valley Unified School District settled the lawsuit in April, awarding Yu $665,000 and later issuing a public apology.

Superintendent Don Austin, who requested that the item be pulled off the school board's consent calendar so it could be discussed, said during the virtual meeting that the incidents of vandalism and hate speech were in fact investigated, according to Krolikowski and confirmed by other district staff.

"Mr. Krolikowski's involvement in this case was a tiny sliver of an amended claim and by all accounts for everyone that we spoke to in positions to know, (he) acted the way they would have hoped and expected," Austin said.

Board members said they talked at length with Austin about Krolikowski's background and agreed to support the superintendent's recommendation to hire him. Board President Todd Collins said he reached out to people in the San Ramon Valley district who "knew about the investigation and all its details and independently was able to verify the facts that Dr. Austin presented."

"I'm confident these issues are not material and shouldn't concern us about Mr. Krolikowski," said board member Ken Dauber.

"Our job is to let staff do their jobs and staff is recommending to us that this is the person," echoed board member Jennifer DiBrienza. "The explanations we've been given satisfy me. I'm ready to see this person come and do a good job in this district."

Krolikowski's appointment is effective Sept. 21. He will replace current Director of Student Services Miriam Stevenson, who is "going into the private sector," Austin said.

---

How would the candidates vote?

As part of the Palo Alto Weekly's election coverage, we will be asking the non-incumbent candidates running for Palo Alto Board of Education how they would vote — and why — on significant issues that the board takes action on before November.

This week, the Weekly asked how the candidates would vote on the hiring of Jason Krolikowsi.

Katie Causey: I cannot say how I would have voted because I haven't reviewed the information that was privy only to the board. Board members expressed they felt Mr. Krolikowski had been properly vetted, but the community does not know what that looks like.

Jesse Ladomirak: As a non-incumbent, I am not privy to any of this confidential information, all of which would be critical to me in deciding whether or not to support the superintendent's decision to hire him, and it would not be responsible of me to decide one way or the other without it. However, as a community member and PAUSD parent, I very much hope that all candidates, not just white men like Mr. Krolikowski, are given the same chance to explain past incidents and receive the same understanding and forgiveness during the hiring process.

Matt Nagle: I would have voted "no" because administrators should have never let it reach the board level. Don Austin, as well as the human resources administrators, should have anticipated the negative optics of anti-Asian racism that this hire would bring. The board's "yes" votes showed a lack of respect and understanding of many in our Asian community.

Karna Nisewaner didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Comments

Kathy
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Sep 9, 2020 at 10:35 am
Kathy, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Sep 9, 2020 at 10:35 am
21 people like this

Anyone who actually cared about students would never hire Jason Krolikowski, given his record.
[Portion removed.]

No doubt there are many other conscientious education candidates out there without a record like this that PAUSD could have hired.


Gunn Papa
Registered user
Greater Miranda
on Sep 9, 2020 at 11:17 am
Gunn Papa, Greater Miranda
Registered user
on Sep 9, 2020 at 11:17 am
16 people like this

"Our job is to let staff do their jobs and staff is recommending to us that this is the person," echoed board member Jennifer DiBrienza. Nope! Your job is what you did last night, which is vote YES or NO to approve the man’s employment. You voted yes, but you ignored not only the Asian community, but also everyone in Palo Alto who is against racism. I predict you, Todd Collins, and Don Austin will all be overcompensating all September and October towards the Asian community. [Portion removed.]


Cindy Goral
Registered user
Barron Park
on Sep 9, 2020 at 12:03 pm
Cindy Goral, Barron Park
Registered user
on Sep 9, 2020 at 12:03 pm
12 people like this

I would like to know how the candidates running for school board who are not incumbents would have voted.


Kathy
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Sep 9, 2020 at 12:31 pm
Kathy, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Sep 9, 2020 at 12:31 pm
4 people like this

[Post removed.]


Paly Teacher
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Sep 9, 2020 at 12:50 pm
Paly Teacher, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Sep 9, 2020 at 12:50 pm
6 people like this

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


Gunn Papa
Registered user
Greater Miranda
on Sep 9, 2020 at 1:28 pm
Gunn Papa, Greater Miranda
Registered user
on Sep 9, 2020 at 1:28 pm
18 people like this

[Portion removed.] We all received Austin’s email update last week and in it he was bragging about his efforts for diversity, but this hire does not demonstrate that. Also, Austin should have known that hiring this man would upset many in Palo Alto because of the allegation that Jason Krolikowski did not handle the investigation of anti-Asian racism for one of his students. So Austin brings this recommendation to the board and every single board member shows no sensitivity to the Asian community and simply votes yes. If this is Austin’s third year, I really expect better of him, and the five board members. This was a moment to vote no and send a message to our community that our kids deserve the best personnel, and the board failed to meet it.


Samuel L
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 9, 2020 at 1:42 pm
Samuel L, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Sep 9, 2020 at 1:42 pm
27 people like this

Jennifer DiBrienza - If your job is to let staff do their job, then why do we need you?  What is your value add?  If all you do is agree with staff, then you are superfluous.  

Are you aware of how much research staff did?  Did anyone reach out to the Yu family to hear their side or are we only taking the side of those from the school?  Given that employers cannot give any information on an employee outside of the dates of service, how much information did they uncover?

As for Don Austin who said dismissively that "perfection is the expectation" as if the standards are too high.  No, perfection is not the expectation.  However, we also don't expect the district to hire someone who has shown neglect towards students in the past and put them in charge of Student Services.  [Portion removed.] Amazing that people are shocked that the PAUSD culture doesn't change.

Dharap who campaigned that he would be the voice of students, caved.
Di Brienza, the only member with a child in the district, caved.
Dauber, who campaigned against bullying, caved.
Collins, who makes big claims about how far they've come since the OCR investigations, caved.
Baten-Caswell, who already has a foot out the door, caved.

[Portion removed.]


Kathy
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Sep 9, 2020 at 1:45 pm
Kathy, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Sep 9, 2020 at 1:45 pm
9 people like this

@Paly Teacher, thanks for asking. Grateful to be able to stand up for students.

The two incidents of vandalism and harassment against Mr. Yu occurred during the first two weeks of the 2017-18 school year (which starts in the fall of 2017), which was when Mr. Krolikowski was the principal at San Ramon Valley High. Mr. Krolikowski started as principal at SRVHS in July 2017. That information about the vandalism and harassment and Mr. Krolikowski's role can be found in detail in the 5th amended petition, here: Web Link
(Page 45). [Portion removed.]


Samuel L
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 9, 2020 at 3:11 pm
Samuel L, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Sep 9, 2020 at 3:11 pm
12 people like this

[Post removed.]


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