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BoE Investigator Search

Original post made by natasha, Charleston Meadows, on Nov 16, 2006

Did anyone watch the BoE meeting on Tuesday night? If so, did anyone else notice that Dana and Gail seemed to be working well together, but Mandy Lowell seemed almost hostile and confrontational about their progress? I thought her resistance to setting updates on their investigation progress for earlier in the evening in the future was really odd.

On the other hand, I was pleased to hear about how far they have already come -- talking with 12-14 candidates already and soliciting more suggestions from the Management Team -- and how hard they are working to press ahead, albeit thoughtfully and thoroughly, on this important issue. I give Gail a lot of credit for her calm and professional tone and approach throughout.

I have been looking for feedback on Town Square and been surprised at the silence on this topic.

Comments (19)

Posted by Board Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2006 at 10:29 am

I took Mandy's scrutiny to be a strong desire to make sure the management team and Scott Bowers as representave of the Staff, are fully engaged at every step of the process for purposes of protecting the integrity of the final answer. The last thing we want is a way for ~either~ side to complain (or sue) over the final results because there was some percieved lack of integrity in the process.

So what I thought was most puzzling was the fact that the management team now seems to be the ones dragging feet. Why don't they have representatives named and read to go. Why are Gail and Dana needing to wait for week(s) for first meeting?

Posted by Tulley
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2006 at 12:38 pm

Board Observer, I was also surprised that the Management Team was not prepared to hit the ground running. What's the delay on their part?
I also had the same reaction to Mandy's questions; I took them as an effort to be certain that the Management does not feel excluded.

Posted by natasha
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 16, 2006 at 1:13 pm

I definitely understood and agreed with Mandy's interest in keeping everyone in the loop. I can see that I might have misread her tone. What I still don't understand was her reaction to putting a short update on each calendar toward the beginning of the meeting.

I too am puzzled by the Management Team's relaxed attitude about moving forward, considering that they wanted this taken care of quickly -- 2 months ago.

Posted by Board Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2006 at 1:19 pm

Tulley, Did you notice anything else fishy in that meeting?

I thought it was perhaps a live demonstration of the Trust and Respect problem, when Marilyn Cook told the Board (with a straight face!) that the FLAP grant for MI that they had applied for was for $300,000. When it was actually applied for at $756,000. What was that about? That's a pretty darn big swag.

(Lack of integrity? Lack of genuine interest in the project? Cover up/gloss over? Distraction? Honestly didn't know (rubber stamped the Grant application for someone else?), Lack of interest in the truth? Disdain for the Board/Community who asked the question? Overworked? Short term memory loss? Ulterior motive?

By the way, I thought Scott Bower's work and integrity on the Calendar process was impeccable. We might not all like the outcome, but talk about a very clean and unbiased process, well prepared, thorough, and very considerate of issues on both sides - it was exemplary. And I think it really tells the story about seeking the truth, in a trustworthy fashion, when the ultimate recommendation turns out to be a second right answer - not an original, preordained answer that a committee works backward into supporting.

Unfortunatley, it looks like we won't be so lucky with the MI process and the AARG process, which are both NOT being run by Dr. Bowers sadly.

I think the trust and respect issue better get resolved BEFORE this board takes any more decisions based on the work of the T&R investigation targets.

Posted by CP
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Nov 16, 2006 at 1:25 pm

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that, since the Management Team has made it clear that it doesn't trust the senior cabinet or most board members with the exception of Gail and Barb, serving on the Organization Development Committee with Scott Bowers and Dana Tom might not be a particularly safe thing to do. The team wants the trust issue to be resolved, at the same time no one wants to be holding a pink slip come March.

Mind you, I have no actual knowledge of the reasons for the delay, it is just supposition on my part.

In any case, I've said it before on other posts and I'll continue to say it: Dr. Callan should be placed on paid administrative leave while this process unfolds. For her to be running the district on a day to day basis and managing the individuals who have accused her of being untrustworthy is not appropriate under the circumstances. It will stifle the communication that is necessary to allow for integrity in this process.

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2006 at 3:19 am

CP, you hit the nail on the head. Very few outsiders have a visceral understanding of just how chilling an organizational demeanor that Callan nhas created. Think about the sheer weight of pent-up frustration and anger, over YEARS, that it must have taken an ordinarily measured group of professional site administrators and program managers to muster enough courage to make the claims that they did.

This is not something that is easily pulled off, and once pulled off, requires momentum to continue. From what I hear it took a LOT to get a complaint lodged. the fear is there, and it's palpable. "Payback" from 25 Churchill is the monkey riding on the back of every MT member who publicly gets into this process.

Those who actively participate in the MT diligence are going to have to be very courageous individuals, indeed. What happens if Callan is maintained, or Cook? Can you imagine being one of the MT members who has just voiced serious, valid complaints, only to see the person you complained about - the person whoh can remove you from your position - maintained in office?

What concerns me is that the fire and frustration taht got this thing going is dissipating, for lack of momentum, and due to the initial unconscionable delay.

What irks me is that teh BOE didn't act sooner, and that they were compelled by three of their members to string this thing out.

Meanwhile, NOTHING changes at 25 Churchill, ,except that Mary Frances Callan and Marilyn Cook are playing "nice", and laying low.

When one thinks of the disruption, and loss of employee capital caused by the dysfunction visited on PAUSD by Callan and Cook, it's an injustice that they're not already gone, or at least on administrative leave.

Posted by Lynch 'em
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 17, 2006 at 1:26 pm

When all is said and one, your statement below suggests we skip the investigative process and simply arrive at your pre-determined conclusion. Why not just lynch Callan? Save us a lot of $$$, don't you think?

When one thinks of the disruption, and loss of employee capital caused by the dysfunction visited on PAUSD by Callan and Cook, it's an injustice that they're not already gone, or at least on administrative leave.

Posted by natasha
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 17, 2006 at 2:15 pm

Administrative leave is pretty common when someone is under investigation for serious failure to perform her job to the extreme degree alleged by the Management Team, isn't it?

It IS shocking that the process has dawdled on, and that she continues to make decisions that materially affect the educational experience of the District children when she is under such a large cloud.

It is also understandable that Management Team members would be reluctant to participate, if the atmosphere has been anything like rumors would have it. Maybe the Management Team might decide that it's just too risky to step up, and vote for a clean process in which only the Board and Scott Bowers interface with the invetigator -- aside from anonymous interviews.

I haven't heard anyone come out with concrete evidence that the Management Team is lying or exaggerating and that Ms. Callan is right? I also haven't heard anyone come out and say that taking 2 months to decide to meet to discuss the hiring of an investigator is timely and responsive.

Posted by Another Voice
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 17, 2006 at 2:56 pm

While I've appreciated many of the comments by RWE and others over the past two months on this subject and I share the frustration of many at the pace of the BOE's actions. However, this notion of administrative leave at this time seems to be drifting into the hyperbolic.

Many of us may have our own suppositions and even insights as to the severity of the problem and its root cause. We may also share frustration that the process hasn't moved forward more rapidly. However, I think that we need to show more humility and respect for the process.

The BOE members are our elected representatives, whether we agree with all of their decisions or not. Whatever is determined to be the proper outcome of this issue, we need to allow the process to go forward in a thorough, fair and hopefully rapid manner. If the BOE were to act in a way that would be perceived to be unduly abrupt or capricious, it would harm the longterm reputation of the district and our ability to attract top people at all levels in the future as well as undermine broad based community support. I also believe that the BOE risks further harm to the district's reputation if they don't get to the bottom of it and respond promptly.

We certainly have the right as parents to have our opinions heard and to try to influence the process through proper means, but I hope that we concerned parents will maintain our own credibility by avoiding the temptation to assume the role of judge, jury and enforcer.

Posted by Staff
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2006 at 9:30 pm

Carefully compare the letter presented to MFC dated 9-6-06 concerning Trust, Professional Environment and Practices and Salary and Benefits to the BOE Action item 5 dated 11-2-06.
You will find that the MT received at least partial consideration on seven of seventeen bullets from the infamous letter in the recently completed negotiations.
1) Step and Column movement
2) Vacation day practices
3) Lack of opportunities for meaningful professional development
4) Per Diem
5) Bonus
6) Longevity increases
7) Mileage

In my humble opinion these may have been the easier items to address and acted upon to help smooth things over. It's a brilliant move by PAUSD administration to appease those in the middle of the road among the MT.
As far as preferential treatment goes it is rampant within PAUSD. Selective enforcement of rules, special consideration and preferential treatment are the norm.
So if the original breakdown within the MT ranks is 3/4 standing behind the 9-6-06 letter and the other 1/4 non committed or members of the preferential treatment club... and now the breakdown for support of the letter and positions may be closer to 50/50 after the close of negotiations.
How difficult will it be for the MT group to select it's representatives to accurately reflect their current position without career harming side effects. Many of them have already felt the sting of payback and vindictiveness that ruled the day.
I cant believe there has been no action taken immediately by the BOE on Mr. Matranga and any other cabinet member who used intimidating language (verbal or body) at the meeting with MT members after the "leak" of the 9-6-06 letter.
I hope the current process gives the MT personnel a safe environment to be interviewed with no repercussions down the road if all or some of the current cabinet remain.

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 18, 2006 at 1:44 am

Staff, you are right on! Yours is the letter that should

Another Voice, when talking about "top talent", does it ever occur to you that teachers and administrators are "talent", too. How do you think *that* 'top talent' will view PAUSD as this crisis drags on as it has? It's practically a joke. If it wasn't for Gail Price and Barb Mitchell, this thing would have been swept under the rug, as usual. Sad.

Have you ANY idea what has gotten out about this district to neighboring districts and beyond, about PAUSD? If not, you might make a few inquiries and discover for yourself.

Top site administrative, program coordinator and teaching talent in this region - and elsewhere - hear what their working peers in PAUSD have to say - word travels fast in the education community.

Frankly, it's about time that the majority of this BOE - and future BOE's - start taking stock of the too-long reigning myth that the "talent" in this district lives at 25 Churchill. That's the mistakjen notion that has gotten this district, and many, many others in the mess they're currently in.

I said earlier in this crisis that it would get manipulated, delayed, and spun like a top until it dissipated. It's a disgrace that we're not at the core of this problem already, and the fact that we're not is due to unconscionable delays brought by a majority of the BOE. Those who are a part of that majority will not be forgotten come election time, next time, no matter what race they're running in.

I have to laugh at "Lynch 'em", above.... "Lynch 'em" must have a sense of humor to be calling what we're witnessing "process". A better word might be "fiasco".

In the end, if Callan and Cook remain after all this, PAUSD will be HIGHLY compromised, with some of the 50-60% of a very talented administrative corps will leaving, and others afraid to be bold or innovative in their management actions, and MANY good outside candidates for teaching/administering passing on the "opportunity" to teach at PAUSD because they have heard the "working" truth abobut this district, and want to have a career that's not stuck in a 1950's management model, with people at the top acting according to the way things were done way back when.

What this crisis is about is whether PAUSD will maintain excellence, or start to gut itself from the inside because a three BOE members are unable to sense reality in the classroom, and site management.

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 18, 2006 at 1:47 am

Staff, I meant to sat that yours is the letter that should be brought to the attention of voters in the next BOE election, with the sad results that delay, manipulation, and reluctance to act on the part of a majority of BOE members will have brought to this great school district.

Posted by licensed private investigator
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 18, 2006 at 4:00 pm

I was an applicant for the Investigator position and was notified on 11/15/06 by phone that I was not being considered for the position.

Posted by BP res
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 19, 2006 at 12:37 am

LPI: I'm guessing that Dana and Gail are making sure that this process stays squeaky squeaky clean, transparent and downright perfect. Hiring a local, however impeccable their credentials might be, could lead to questions down the road should somebody feel slighted by the process and choose to sue, as stated by BO above. On the other hand, the word is out there in the education community about our fading lighthouse, so finding an unbiased, perfect investigator may be impossible. Let's put our trust in Gail and the management team members and hope for the best.

Posted by Fair parent
a resident of Fairmeadow School
on Nov 19, 2006 at 2:32 pm

Callan and Cook have had their run and should be phased out. They've done much good for the district, the parents, the staff, and the students--and they should be honored as they are shown the door.

Posted by Another Voice
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 24, 2006 at 10:53 am

On 11/18 RWE responded to my prior day's posting in which I disagreed with the notion that it would be in the best interests of the district to immediately terminate or place on leave Callan and Cook.

RWE asked "does it ever occur to you that teachers and administrators are top talent" and then asked I have "ANY idea what has gotten out about this district"? I don't understand how my prior statements could have been so misinterpreted when I wrote about the need to be able to "attract top people at all levels in the future". In fact, my greater concern is for our ability to continue to attract top teachers and management personnel. This is based not only on my own experiences with our schools, but it's also influenced by the lifelong influence on me of my parents and two sisters having been prominent public school educators.

I had hoped that we might be able to agree on the problem and disagree on tactics without resorting to denigrating the alternative speaker. My hope may be naive and too much to expect within the blog environment. If so, then I'll bow out of further participation on this thread.

Posted by natasha
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 28, 2006 at 5:45 am

Just saw tonight's BoE agenda and noticed that the Board reports are the very, very last thing after public comment. I know at the last meeting Gail asked for the report on the Trust issue investigation to be placed earlier in the calendar for the people who have to wait all night every meeting to get to it, but yet it is still at the end. In fact, the public can't even respond or comment because the report comes after public comments. This is frustrating and I think sends the wrong message about this very important issue.

Posted by Board Observer
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 28, 2006 at 7:01 am

You are able to speak to the board on an agenda topic during the discussion of that agenda topic. Open Forum is for the public to talk about non-agendized topics.

So, go ahead and put in a card during the trust issue investigation and you'll get to address the board about it.

Posted by natasha
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 28, 2006 at 9:19 am

Good to know. Previously I put in a card and had to address during open forum, not during discussion of this issue, and I didn't see any spot on the current agenda for comment on this if anyone wanted to comment.

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