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Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 10, 2013

Feds rebuke district over email to parents

Palo Alto school administrators warned about communications with Duveneck parents on active bullying investigation

by Palo Alto Weekly staff

A letter sent to all Duveneck Elementary School parents on April 15 by the school's principal about a new investigation into bullying at the school brought a sharp and immediate rebuke by the federal Office for Civil Rights, according to documents obtained by the Palo Alto Weekly.

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Posted by More of the Same, Yawn Yawn
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2013 at 12:13 am

Given the fact that my child was bullied right out of Duveneck in second grade by a few other boys these allegations don't surprise me in the least. He moved on to another district school that values the feelings of their students and, in fact, spent time at the end of each school day reviewing the goings on of the day and taking care of addressing any difficult interpersonal relationships that came up.

I was horrified when I attended a PTA meeting at Duveneck that had class reps from each of the classes (one boy and one girl). The source of horror was the upper class girls statements that there were only 3 acceptable brands of clothing that a girl should wear at Duveneck (trust me that they weren't the "cheap" brands) without being subjected to ridicule. The really horrifying part of this was that the girls were perfectly OK with this. They thought they were just reporting some everyday facts and had no embarassment or shame about reporting this. I guess their parents went along with this or most likely were the ones who taught their children that it is OK to be status seekers. My children did not acquire their status or social standing through the clothing brands they wore. In point of fact, I often bought my children's clothing at Costco even though I could have well afforde those "designer labels". I am so grateful that my children acquired self worth and did not have to line the pockets of people such as Ralph Lauren or Abercrombie and Fitch. I won't by any A & F, Calvin Klein etc. because they sexualize children in their ads. The models look like they are underage and are provocatively posturing (check out the A and F huge window photos the next time you pass by one of their stores). Do you really want to support companies that sexualize children just because your children pressure you into buying them clothing from those establishments?

Sorry for getting a little off track there but I am very disappointed that the Principal at Duveneck has revealed evidence of a case a brewin'. This is very troublesome for the family and only injures the victim and their family even more. It is time for the PAUSD to stand up and provide direction to the administrators at their schools. Oh, my bad, that would require it coming from Kevin Skelly and he can't even follow the direction of the OCR and doesn't reveal things to the board because he is "embarrassed". Oops, I forgot about the fact that we can't expect a failed leader to provide leadership to his charges. And, we have a school board that fails to lead Kevin into implementing the wishes of their constituents. They are a bunch of ineffective seat warmers.

Time for some big time changes!

Posted by More of the S
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2013 at 12:19 am

OOPS! Upon rereading the above comment that I just drafted, I noticed that I forgot to mention that one of the biggest of the bullies who victimized my son was the son of a [portion removed by Palo Alto Onlines staff] future board member. I wondered about that when I went to the OCR meeting at Ohlone last week and heard the audible gasp when the OCR attorney recounted a story of the child of a school board member being a bully and not suffering the same conseuquences for his/her actions because of the parents status as a board member.

BTW, thanks to those volunteer parent organizations who put on that meeting at Ohlone next week. So much good information was disseminated to the large crowd. I was wondering why the PTA groups can't put on similar parent education events when they are clearly called for.

Posted by Lou
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 22, 2013 at 6:55 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by PTA mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 22, 2013 at 10:05 am

PTAC refused to cosponsor the parent education event because they didn't want to make Kevin Skelly unhappy with them. Skelly handpicked Sigrid Pinsky to be PTAC president last year.

Posted by fascinating!
a resident of Greene Middle School
on May 22, 2013 at 1:25 pm

We are former Duveneck/Jordan parents. This is sometime ago - I will not get too specific.
I am fascinated with the story above of the son of someone on/future/past Board of Education member being a bully.
I know for a fact a son of a Board member (at the time -NOT a current Board member) made statements about being able to get other kids in trouble/threats (though not physical - was a smaller boy) which were incredibly offensive -- all this happened at Jordan some years ago.
I wonder if it is the SAME boy being discussed?
In the case I know, the boy enjoyed his supposed power over individual students as well as groups (entire P.E. class, for example). I understand he is now a reasonable person (in college now)
My kids were not personally hassled, it was more of an annoyance/offensive thing in PE class, but the notion of power through parents is incredibly not ok. PE teacher helpless.

Posted by Fast and Furious
a resident of Greene Middle School
on May 22, 2013 at 2:21 pm

This happened about twelve years ago, but my son was bullied by a PE teacher as well as the son of a very wealthy family who just happened to be Jewish. The principal defended the PE teacher as "a little crazy because he has a steel plate in his head, but that's okay because it isn't his fault".

The rich Kid's father came to school and claimed his son was being picked on because he won the fight and was Jewish, so the rich kid only got three days suspension for beating my son ( two years younger) bloody. My son, who did not fight back but curled up in a ball to protect himself from the blows, was also given three days suspension.

BTW, the rich kid ended up in prison, where he "found Jesus" while in solitary confinement

Posted by rubbish
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 22, 2013 at 2:34 pm

"PTAC refused to cosponsor the parent education event because they didn't want to make Kevin Skelly unhappy with them."

What sort of joke is that statement? "You have to cosponsor otherwise you don't want to make Kevin Skelly unhappy with you"?!

Get real.

Posted by PTA mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 22, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Yes, exactly! I was very disappointed with our PTA leaders on this one. Some special ed and minority moms really begged for PTA support but it just wasn't going to happen.

Posted by Micaela Presti
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2013 at 3:55 pm

As a former co-president of PTAC (2011-2012), I'd like to address the statement made above and on other threads that "Kevin Skelly hand-picked Sigrid Pinsky. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sigrid was nominated by the nominating committee comprised of PTAC board members and one PTA member from each school. At the time, she was going to run as a co-president with me, as Louise Valente had already said she was stepping down. After my family's decision to move out of the area, Sigrid was on the fence about running for the position. Because I thought she was an excellent candidate, and there were no others at the time, I asked Kevin Skelly to write her a note encouraging her to take the position. His memo may sound like he was recruited her, but he did not. You can imagine that this is not an easy job to fill. Sigrid has served on many boards, and in many positions so she was an excellent candidate for the job. You would be hard pressed to find someone who has worked so tirelessly for this community.

Posted by rubbish
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 22, 2013 at 4:04 pm

@PTA mom, you're struggling here. Why did this event need PTA support and why were "special ed and minority moms" begging for it? (And what about dads?) Were they trying to add validity to an event designed specifically to inform attendees how to file OCR complaints?
Just because you asked PTAC for something doesn't mean they have to do it. Ascribing their refusal to some random influence is just plain ignorance.

Posted by Micaela Presti
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2013 at 4:08 pm

@PTA mom - From what I understand from a current board member (not Sigrid, btw), the board could not legally vote on the sponsorship as not enough notice was given to the members about the vote and not enough information was available about the meeting in time for a vote. This has happened at least twice during my time on the board. The parliamentary rules are very clear on this issue.

Posted by PTA mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 22, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Hi Micaela, I didn't know that you were still involved in Palo Alto! Actually, you're wrong about the timing of the requests. The first time the topic was raised someone raised the notice issue. The second time the cosponsorship was voted down because some people didn't want to make the district mad, like I said. And then at least one minority mom who couldn't be at the second meeting wanted to discuss it again, and Sigrid said no. (and Rubbish may think it's ok to be nasty but I'm just saying what happened.)
I don't know about any conversations between Micaela and Dr. Skelly. The memo doesn't say anything about that. It just says that Dr. Skelly offered her the job and she said yes. I like Sigrid so I'm not saying it was a mistake. In this situation though I think it was something the PTA should have supported.

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