News Digest | January 13, 2023 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 13, 2023

News Digest

New Foothill College president named

After more than a year without a permanent president, Foothill College now has its next leader, who will start work at the end of March.

The Foothill-De Anza Community College District's board of trustees voted unanimously on Monday, Jan. 9, to select Kristina Whalen to lead Foothill. District Chancellor Judy Miner recommended Whalen to the board from a pool of three finalists.

Whalen will take over from interim President Bernadine Chuck Fong, who has been running the community college since the board removed former president Thuy Nguyen in October 2021.

Whalen will come to Foothill from Las Positas College in Livermore, where she currently serves as vice president of academic services. She is also the vice president of the California Community Colleges Chief Instructional Officers Association.

Prior to Las Positas, Whalen worked from 2005 to 2019 at City College of San Francisco, ultimately serving as associate vice chancellor of instruction, enrollment management and instructional support services.

In the last two years, Foothill College has experienced upheaval in its leadership. The district's board voted unanimously to not renew former president Nguyen's contract at an October 2021 meeting, following a no confidence vote by the academic senate. Nguyen was put on academic leave for the remainder of that school year.

The decision caused controversy with some saying Nguyen's ouster represented institutional bias in removing a leader of color who had focused on racial equity work, while others said that she ignored input from faculty members and lacked necessary leadership skills. Nguyen asked to be reinstated in April 2022, but the board declined to take action.

— Zoe Morgan

School bomb threat suspect identified

Palo Alto police have solved the mystery of who left a message in a girls' bathroom threatening to bomb Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School, the department said on Wednesday.

Investigators identified a student as the source of a bomb threat, which was written on a bathroom stall and found on Tuesday, following a joint investigation between law enforcement and the school. JLS school officials are now handling the case administratively, the police department said in a press release.

The incident began on Tuesday after a female student found writings scrawled on a stall inside the girls' bathroom indicating that the author intended to bomb the school. The alleged bombing was to take place on Wednesday during the school day. The student immediately reported the discovery to staff, who notified police.

Investigators collaborated with school officials to identify the person responsible for leaving the message. Police said they are confident they have identified the source of the threat as a student at the school. The joint investigation determined the threat was not credible.

Superintendent Don Austin told this news organization on Tuesday that the school day would feel relatively normal for students on Wednesday, but that there would be police on campus and that additional measures would be taken behind the scenes to protect students and staff.

After police announced the case was resolved, Austin shared the following statement in a text message: "We are all thankful that we were able to resolve this quickly and that it was a hoax."

— Sue Dremann and Zoe Morgan

Lawmakers concerned about Newsom's budget

Bay Area lawmakers raised concerns Tuesday about a proposal by Gov. Gavin Newsom to cut nearly $22.5 billion from the state budget, a move that they say could delay or imperil critical transportation and climate change programs.

In seeking to close a projected budget gap, Newsom presented a leaner budget that contrasts markedly with recent years of economic expansion and increased spending. The $297-billion budget proposes saving $7.4 billion by spreading out costs for projects set to receive funding in the coming years.

Funding for rail improvements also will be reduced in the 2023-2024 budget, with Newsom proposing to cut transportation spending in the general fund by $2.7 billion from 2022 levels.

The budget also proposes a two-year delay of $350 million in funding for grade separation..

The budget proposal elicited a mixed response from Bay Area lawmakers, with some lauding Newsom for maintaining most of the funding in areas such as drought resilience, flood control and fire prevention and others criticizing him for failing to make larger investments in areas like public transportation.

State Sen. Josh Becker, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee's Subcommittee on Resources, Environmental Protection and Energy, said the proposed cuts and delays are "concerning at a time when we should be accelerating our work, not tapping the brake pedal."

Assembly member Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park, lauded the proposed budget for maintaining funding for addressing homelessness.

Newsom's proposal to cut funding for transportation elicited a sharp rebuke from state Sen. Scott Wiener, who noted in a statement that public transportation systems are reeling from lower ridership as a result of the pandemic.

— Gennady Sheyner


Posted by Pat Landman
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 10, 2023 at 5:58 pm

Pat Landman is a registered user.

Might see if anyone is hoping to miss a Wednesday test?

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2023 at 9:30 am

Bystander is a registered user.

Whoever heard anyone with a real intention to bomb anything to warn by leaving a message scribbled on a bathroom wall?

Bored teenager in boring January. It has to be taken seriously of course, but a real warning would be done some other way.

Posted by Citizen
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 11, 2023 at 3:50 pm

Citizen is a registered user.

If you see something, say something.
Unless it's something an administrator or teacher is doing?

Posted by JLS Student
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 11, 2023 at 6:31 pm

JLS Student is a registered user.

Even if the police said the bomb threat was planned by a student and was a hoax, I believe the school should've been responsible enough to evacuate the students and staff out of the JLS building until the bomb squad and police find the evidence to identify the JLS student, or announce a day off of school (for student and staff safetey reasons). And if the bomb was NOT a hoax, anyone in the school campus building could've been injured or died because no one was told to leave or evacuate from the school building.

This is just my opinion as a JLS student, because when I attended school on Wednsday, January 11, I could easily tell many of the students and staff were worried about the bomb threat and their lives.

Posted by We Told You So!
a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2023 at 4:52 am

We Told You So! is a registered user.

Whats going on over there in Palo Alto?
It's like they never had any problems like this ever in its History of having Teenagers.
But the reality is. They've always had them, but never dealt with them properly.
Daddy/Mommy always bailing them out and the City allowing them, by them donating
to their favorite Charity.

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2023 at 9:27 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

Bomb threats should be taken seriously whether you think it's a hoax or not. A threat written on a bathroom wall in middle school may sound like a prank, but you never know what is going on in the troubled mind of someone who would even think of doing this. A bomb threat is not a normal prank. Typical pranks are silly, and this is very serious.

Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 12, 2023 at 12:00 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

This shows me that our issues for supportive services is so lacking, there is a deep trust in our teens. The deep fear and trauma is very much a distillery of negative behaviors from our youth. In an odd sense this child in pain, did "see something and said something" on a wall. A cry for help in dark times. Why public school bathrooms are not monitored by school personnel is beyond my scope of understanding. Easy before and after school, after brunch and lunch. A few years ago, as a parent on site, I was passing the girls bathroom just after the lunch bell rang. I heard a young girl sobbing in a stall. I spoke to the unseen student from the hallway "Is there anything I can do? Are you okay? Can I get you some help?" Too often school campus' bathrooms are a incubator for all types of unmonitored mis-behavior... I need not spell out what those behaviors are. The school justification for not monitoring the BR's. "We are not allowed by law to have cameras there." Our eyes and ears are the best way to intervene, mitigate, prevent, help.

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