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PA teacher faces misdemeanor charges for party

Original post made by A Parent, Meadow Park, on Dec 16, 2006

If convicted, Swagerty should be fired from PAUSD.

Comments (57)

Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 16, 2006 at 2:49 pm

Leave her alone. Haven't you ever made a mistake or done something for the right reasons without thinking it through. She's paid the price whatever the outcome. Now let her do her job properly, that is continue being the wonderful 3rd grade teacher she is.

Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 16, 2006 at 3:05 pm

She served alcohol to minors---she is not fit to teach in a classroom. This is not just a little mistake--like forgetting to pay a bill on time or balancing your checkbook incorrectly.
What price has she paid? If she is allowed to return to the classroom what message does that send? It is bad enough the PA teachers know about their colleagues sex abuse issues and do not report it, now we have teachers plying our youth with liquor.
If found guilty she must pay the price--be fired from her teaching job. Period end of story.

Posted by Anon
a resident of another community
on Dec 16, 2006 at 3:24 pm

Here we go again... Sure, put a scarlet A on her, fire her, evict her from her home since it is too close to school,... hey, why not burn her on a stake while at it?

The Merc says the penalty is $250, plus assessments and possible community service. What do THEY know?

In Palo Alto we know better! We don't believe in three strikes! Not here! Who cares how many generations of kids she educated! For us, ONE is too much! We will make sure that she's fired, that she will not be able to find any other job, and that she suffers for life!

Isn't this what the genteel Palo Alto is really all about?

Posted by high school parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 16, 2006 at 4:53 pm

I agree, if convicted she should be fired, as this directly concerns youth in the local community and she has been a poor role model.

Posted by Chris
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 16, 2006 at 5:27 pm

Role Model? You're kidding, right? If she did what's alleged, this woman not (only) failed to serve as a role model. That was the least of it. She was directly responsible for endangering the health and morals of minors. If there isn't a clause in this woman's contract allowing her to be fired for such a breach of conscience and responsibility, the teacher's unions are even more powerful than they appear to be.

Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 16, 2006 at 6:10 pm

Where were the parents of the little darlings when the party was held? Why didn't they teach them the proper Palo Alto values?

Innocent or guilty, the poor woman will pay be paying a price that will be harder than a fine, community service or firing for a long time. Some of you won’t rest until she’s either put in the public square stocks or stoned.

Posted by high school parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 16, 2006 at 9:37 pm

It's illegal to serve alcohol to minors. If you don't like the law, I have no problem with you working to change it. I am surprised at those who do not feel teachers should be good role models when it comes to obeying our laws.

Posted by Craig
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 16, 2006 at 9:56 pm

My 2 cents is this:
1. She was charged, not convicted. Legally, she's still innocent until she is found guilty in court, or admits guilt in open court.
2. It seems like the people on here who claim to know Swagarty from her work as a teacher are totally supportive of her. I think that counts for something.
3. I think that best course of action would be an official reprimand, perhaps require an offical apology and a probationary period. Assuming that gets done, then we should put it behind us.
4. From what's been reported - a party they hosted got out of hand, and kids were drunk. She didn't serve alcohol to her class, so I think we all need to keep some perspective here!

Posted by Chris
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 16, 2006 at 10:29 pm

Ms. Swagerty teaches third and fourth grade, I believe. It's hardly ameliorative that she apparently managed to restrain herself from serving alcohol to her third graders. If the reports are right, she didn't let the kids at her party take a sip of wine. She served them enough alcohol so some were passed out and falling down drunk. No one wants to burn her at the stake, but she's obviously too irresponsible to be left in charge of our children. Whatever became of the notion that actions have consequences?

Posted by A
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 16, 2006 at 11:09 pm

She didn't "serve" anyone alcohol...she teaches third grade and it's preposterous to even joke that she'd serve alcohol to her students. I think her YEARS of experience as a respected, responsible educator in this school district should count for something.
and she hasn't been convicted of anything- so I agree with Craig that some perspective should be kept and let her do her job.

Posted by Anna
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 16, 2006 at 11:52 pm

This should be seen as an opportunity for Ms. Swagerty and our community to learn, rather than an opportunity to dose out huge amounts of retribution.

However, from here on we should make it very clear that this sort of thing (enabling minors to drink illegal beverages) is off limits, and will be pursued vigorously.

For one thing, she hasn't even been convicted. Another thing, what about parents who knowingly let their kids drive a vehicle, knowing that they were heading out to party with alchohol? What about the kids themselves?

Again, this should be an opportunity to learn from a big mistake that has become a habit among some small segment of our community - i.e. condoning the consumption of alcohol for those under 18 "under certain conditions". This may be well-meaning, but it is misguided.

Last, ms. Swagerty shuold keep her job, and use her excellent skills to keep helping our children become the best they can be.

Posted by Grace
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 17, 2006 at 12:53 am

Sadly, Ms Swagerty and her husband were unaware of the lengths highschool kids will go to to get drunk and have a good time. They learned their lesson the hard way and should be used to educate parents about the mindset of Paly (and Gunn) students. Yes, they shoud've been more attentive and, yes, they should've realized the party had gotten out of hand; imagine how they feel now. Chalk it up to experience, consider it a lesson-learned for parents, and hope Scott Bowers doesn't do anything rash.

Posted by Chris
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 17, 2006 at 7:44 am

Anna, If what's reported is true, Ms Swagerty broke a law specifically intended to protect minors. Her job involves the care and guidance of minors. It's not retribution to say she is a risky bet to continue in her position. It's common sense. What else might this "well-meaning but misguided" person do to our children?

That being said, you're all right that so far, she hasn't been convicted. Let her have her say, and if the facts are other than reported in the paper, maybe she has an argument that she should keep her job. So far, however, she's been pretty silent on the matter. And the papers haven't retracted a thing.

Posted by holier than thou
a resident of Meadow Park
on Dec 17, 2006 at 10:02 am

Wow. The woman made the mistake of trusting her child or whatever it was. I can't believe we are going through this again. Strange that the people whose children she teaches and taught and not the oes calling for her removal. And strange that everyone is not holding the parents off those teenagers responsible, or, it seems, the teenagers themselves.

On the other hand, this revitalized conversation is certainly a palate cleanser from the MI threads.

Posted by Anna
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 17, 2006 at 12:50 pm

Chris, You are mixing apples and oranges. Does a pediatric physician or nurse who is convicted of DUI risk losing his license to practice medicine? How about someone who is a counselor. Does she lose her license to practice? I wonder what the real stats are on that?

We need some perspective here; there is no _pattern_ of behavior that would merit the kind of radical action that some people here are asking for.

How about if that same physician is accused and convicted of breaking the same law that we're discussing in this forum? Does she lose her license?

Heck, we have had Presidents of the United States who have engaged far worse behavior, and kept their jobs.

We need to take this incident for the serious problem that it is, and for the lesson that it can provide our community, and _use_ it - not to destroy lives and reputations - but as a means to better monitoring and prevention of situations like this, and as a trigger for more punitive laws in the future.

The _fact_ is that these parties have become a kind of de facto community norm. A LOT of parents are involved in giving alcohol to teens, or drugs. It's not a good idea, under any circumstance. The word needs to go out that this kind of behavior - if in fact the behavior in question is substantiated in a court of law - is not acceptable. From there, our policy makers need to craft local legislation that drives the point home. From there, our entire school system can use this and other examples as a lesson, and move forward.

Posted by Chris
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 17, 2006 at 1:09 pm


You're the one mixing apples and oranges. If the person violates a law specifically related to that person's job, this violation is relevant to whether that person is qualified to retain the job. Thus a DUI would be relevant to the job retention of a bus or truck driver it seems. But since a nurse's job doesn't ordinarily involve driving, it doesn't seem directly relevant. The law Swagert is accused of violating directly relates to the supervision and care of minors. Swagert's job involves substantially the supervision and care of minors. Seems to me like she has called into question whether she can do her job competently by her actions if what's reported is true.

Moving forward is one thing. Leaving a person who's demonstrated she's a potential danger to children in a responsible position is quite another. "Everybody's doing it", hardly is a defense in my opinion. There have been a spate of teachers engaging in sex with underage students recently too. That doesn't mean the next one who comes up should get a pass because it's somehow a norm..or because we had a president do something analogous and get off scott free. That really is apples and oranges.

Where are your standards?!

Posted by A
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 17, 2006 at 3:45 pm

There's a huge difference between high school and third grade - not saying what she did was right, but being responsible for what a third grader is capable of and being responsible for a teenager is very different. And Ms. Swagerty has no 'pattern' of making irresponsible judgement calls. I agree, let's learn from this and MOVE ON. If she's convicted...then we've got something new to talk about! ....and clearly, parents of students in her class seem quite confident that their kids are in good hands.

Posted by Anna
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 17, 2006 at 4:29 pm

Chris, So the care and supervision of a minor doesn't fall on a nurse, or child periatrician?

Why aren't you out there railing against people who hire attorneys after their 4th DUI, so that they can keep driving?

And now that you've gone on about the "sex" thing, I can plainly see where you're coming from - i.e. using a single or small number of incidents, to condemn an entire population of professionals. IN other words, hasty generalization. you want this teacher's job, even though many others who have contact with children, who make mistakes, continue to keep their jobs. How many kids' lives has this particular teacher changed for the better

btw, "everybody is doing it" is not a defense; rather it's to make a point about how it has becone accepted practice in this and other communities.

Chris, there's a thing called "justice", that no one person can define. In my mind, justice will be served by taking actions other than firing a superlative teacher who has helped thousands ofo kids, for one mistake. I see lessons already having been learned here; there is no consistent pattern of bad behavior on the part of the persons charged; the community consciousness has been raised by the incident; the person(s) accused, whether found guilty, or not, will change their behavior, etc. etc.

If you want severe retribution for one mistake; if you want severe punichment for someone who has otherwise led an admirable professional existence - that's your right. We'll have to agree to disagree.

Posted by Puzzled
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 17, 2006 at 6:41 pm

I am puzzled - I though she didn't "serve" alcohol...the kids got it one way or the other. In a nutshell, she is charged as not-being-attentive ( and nosey, if you will .. peering into every cup and smelling what the kids were drinking ).

I think she was very much aware of the drinking problem amongst highschoolers and hence decided to host a party at her house where she could keep an eye on the children and prevent this. Unfortunately she was outsmarted by the highschool kids ..

If no one has 'seen' her 'serve' alcohol to the kids - why assume she did ? She is a great teacher and has learnt her lesson ...

Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 17, 2006 at 7:32 pm

Once again, I say leave her alone. What happens in the home of a 3rd grade teacher with her own family and their friends is completely different to what goes on in her school classroom or when she is in charge of her 3rd graders on a field trip. Are teachers ever given a break? Does she wear a uniform that says "teacher" when she is parenting her daughter, driving her car, or shopping at the Mall? She is a responsible teacher, full stop. How she parents her children or acts with their friends does not take away from how she teaches her third graders. If any of her third graders have any idea of all of this, then it is from us, the community, that they have heard.

Should we take away her parenting privileges, would be a much more realistic question to ask? If she indeed taught high school and had some of her students to her home and this happened, then indeed she should be censured. But this is not the case. When in school she is a teacher. In her own home and with her own child and this child's friends is her own business. The two should not interact. There is no evidence as far as I know that she either provided the alcohol or was even aware of it until later on at the party. If she is to blame, then so are the parents of all the kids at the party who were allowed to drive to a party where they would be expected to drive home after 11.00 p.m. which is also against the law. It is also against the law for a newly licensed driver to give rides to anyone under 21. These two laws are for the safety of everyone and yet no one has mentioned them in relation to this incident. As parents, all the parents involved are equally to blame, if there is blame involved.

Now, once again, leave her alone. The retribution and condemnation has to stop. We are not a mob, the courts will decide any punishment from a legal perspective. The rest of us should just learn from this. And the next time any of us does something foolish, then I hope we understand. Remember the old adage, let he who has never sinned be the first to throw the stone.

Posted by AG
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 17, 2006 at 8:07 pm

Thank you, "Parent, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood". If this would be the last thing said on the issue it would be fantastic.

You really got to the heart of the issue, and said it with grace. Thank you. Well done. The end.

Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 18, 2006 at 6:07 am

Boy does Parent have it all wrong--this so called teacher and pillar of Parent's fantasy worls is a criminal. When she is convicted she should be sent to jail and her teaching license revoked.
i would not want someone like her teaching my children.

Posted by holier than thou
a resident of Meadow Park
on Dec 18, 2006 at 9:01 am

Concerned parent, I hope you never make a mistake that you have to live with. I hope your children never go outand get drunk without informing you. And I hope you never have to have an intolerant, judgmental mob publicly declaiming about how your mistake makes you a criminal who should be tarred and feathered and ridden out on a rail.

Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 18, 2006 at 10:09 am

Do not worry, holier than thou, none of those things will happen to me.
The issue is not children going out an getting drunk--that will happen with th ebest of parents sometimes. The issue is a teacher, who should no better and lie it or not should be held to a higher standard, who is having alcoholparties at her house involving minors.
It was her house--she is the adult, parent. She is responsible for making sure alcohol is not available. nad yes, kids will try to get around the adults and drink--but the host is still responsible.
I feel, that if convicted, she should not be allowed to teach in our schools. i am sure many parents feel the same way.
I think it is little more than a minor mistake and like it or not, minor mistakes can be costly.

Posted by Chris
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2006 at 10:31 am

Concerned Parent states the case well. Assuming the facts are as reported, this was not merely a "mistake". This was a either a knowing or a grossly negligent violation of a law that was passed to protect children under supervision or care of adults. (When you violate the law, Concerned Parent, you are by definition a criminal.) Ms. Swagerty's job involves the protection of children under her care and supervision. If she's this unaware, careless or clueless about children in her home, what reason is there to believe she won't make some other "mistake" with regard to the children in her classroom?

You people focus too much on 'retribution' and 'punishment'. These are secondary matters. What's important is the protection of the third-graders in her care.

Posted by Pete
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 18, 2006 at 12:40 pm

Chris, and 'Concerned': "Judge not, that Ye be judged" - how about that?

I don't see anything like a measured response in either of your comments. All I can say is I'm deligghted to have Ms. Swagerty teaching my kids, rather than someone like those who are calling for her downfall.

Posted by Chris
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2006 at 1:00 pm

Hey Pete - Great idea you have about "Judge not" there - even before you repeated it four times. I guess logically you'd have to apply the same reasoning to those school employees caught having sex with the children under their supervision recently. In fact why have rules, or laws or any process that implicitly "judges" the behavior of others? Do your own thing, man.

Posted by Lynn Magill
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 18, 2006 at 1:15 pm

My son had Lisa Swagerty as a teacher five years ago, and she is one of the most talented and effective teachers any of my four children have had in 8 years in this district. She is kind and patient, and differentiates her curriculum for children with special needs. She is so attached to her students and so sensitive that she is frequently moved to tears during parent-teacher conferences. She puts in hours above and beyond the call of duty, and volunteers her time for school fundraisers and social events. When I run into her out in the community she always takes the time to ask how my son is doing.

Let's remember that we have not even heard Lisa and her husband's side of the story yet. Let the justice system work through its process, and leave it to Lisa's current and former students and their parents to comment on her fitness as a teacher.

We need more teachers in the district like her, not fewer.

Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 18, 2006 at 1:30 pm

Thanks Pete, i think you got your point across.
We shall see what happens--as I stated if she is found guilty, she should not be allowed to return to the classroom in PA. That is my opinion. the fact that she has a wonderful testimonials on this blog is not the issue--the issue is hosting a party at her home, where alcohol was served.
Let's also remember that the teacher from PA who recently plead guilty to having sex with his underage students was also praised in print as a wonderful teacher.
The bottom line,as far as I am concerned, is that her actions tell us if she is a fit teacher. if found guilty, I consider her unfit. To tell you the truth, regardless of the outcome of the trial, the fact that a party where alcohol was served, whether by her or the young people at the party, shows a lack of responsibilty that I expect in a teacher.

Posted by Palo Verde Alum
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 18, 2006 at 7:40 pm

How many of you that want Mrs. Swagerty fired know her? How many of you that wish her to be fired have examined her teaching record and credentials? It seems that the people that know her, who are clearly the most fit to judge, support her.

Also: isn't this better then a death? I suspect if someone had been killed, driving home or similar, that everyone would be mourning a death. This has happened before, it is not unheard of. Yes, there was drinking. Maybe one of the drunk students would have gone and killed someone or died if it was not for Mrs. Swagerty. Then everyone would go, 'If only there could have been prevented'. And now there was prevention and we accuse? Seems slightly hypocritical.

Posted by Chris
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2006 at 8:04 pm

PA Verde Alum says, "Maybe one of the drunk students would have gone and killed someone or died if it was not for Mrs. Swagerty." Actually, if Swagerty had been obeying the law, there would have been no drunk students to begin with.

And once more, we have the 'she's a good teacher' trope. Honestly, how far will some of you supporters of this apparent law violator go to make excuses for her behavior?

Posted by Jung
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2006 at 10:46 pm

It's pretty clear on this thread that some people really have it out for teachers, in general. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online.]

From a social psychological standpoint, this entire incident is pregnant with scapegoating, and an implied transfer of responsibility for the socialization of our children from parents, to teachers in particular, and the public schools in general. For those "projecters" out there, teachers are the new whipping boy for what's wrong with education, culture, etc. etc.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online.]

Projection wants to find that certain 'thing' that one can hook into; that certain thing that someone can use to relieve oneself and one's fellow humans from responsibility. Note nary a word about parent responsibility coming from Chris and Concerned Parent. Chris gets into extreme projection when he starts "wondering" how far some of us will go to make "excuses" for this "law violater's behavior". [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online.]

Frankly, I don't think this teacher will lose her position. It's pretty clear that those who are angling for retribution here want _just_ that; they're blinded by their misguided preconceptions of teachers. They're willful in resisting anything that anyone says about those accused; they want _their_version of self-satisfied, and small-minded 'justice'. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online.]

We support good teaching here. We also support the right for individuals to learn from personal errors, and punish only those who _consistently_ show _patterns_ of irresponsible behavior. After all, isn't that how we all learn? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online.]

To be clear, I'm absolutely opposed to the enabling of access to mind altering substances by teenagers. Our community can learn from this incident, no matter who - parents, host, students, rapidly shifting codes of teenage behavior, or some combination of those four elements are to blame. Let's get to work.

Posted by Chris
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2006 at 11:01 pm

Hey Jung - No need to mock what already is the best piece of self-parody I've ever seen. Wow.

Posted by Anon
a resident of another community
on Dec 18, 2006 at 11:54 pm

Having fears of the world in general, coupled with absolutist approach to law and its administration, have nothing to do with teacher bashing or teacher hatred. For all we know, both Chris and Concerned Parent may be wonderful PTA cheerleaders.

Unfortunately this combination is not so rare in genteel Palo Alto.

Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 19, 2006 at 7:12 am

With bases loaded, Jung steps into the batter's box and positions himself. The pitcher winds up and throws, Jung swings and... HOME RUN!! A grand slam to win in the bottom of the ninth!

Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 19, 2006 at 7:17 am

Quite the analysis by Jung. No point in responding since Jung has all the answers and clearly knows who and what we are based on some pots on a blog.
Had a couple of questions about one of your lines:
" We also support the right for individuals to learn from personal errors, and punish only those who _consistently_ show _patterns_ of irresponsible behavior. "
Who is this "we" that you are referring to? and are you saying that people that commit a crime only once should be let off since they are not consistnetly committing crimes.
I think the police and many people would have a problem with that.
BTW, I also support good teaching.

Posted by Chris
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 19, 2006 at 8:14 am

Jung, Concerned Parent and I certainly appreciate your amazing ability to analyze us so thoroughly based only on a couple of comments on this board. To tell the truth, I couldn't tell if your first post was tongue-in-cheek. Since apparently you were serious I don't really have much of a response, other than to suggest that the next time you feel this way, you might start a separate thread titled something like, "Everybody who disagrees with me is crazy."

Ad hominem attack is a typical response by someone who feels he's losing the argument on its merits. I've never seen it taken quite to this extreme however.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, this thread is about whether a public school teacher who (if what's been reported is true) violated the law, should retain her job. Some people think she should. Some people think she should not. It's a reasonable subject for public debate, and people feel strongly on both sides.

But please, knock off the personal attacks and stick to the topic.

Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 19, 2006 at 9:31 am

Well according to today's PA Daily News Ms Swagerty has pleaded no contest to the charges.
Web Link

Some of you may say--well this is not a guilty verdict. That is true, but as far as I am concerned, it is an admission of wrongdoing.
An interesting line from the above story is:
"When interviewed by Lee, Swagerty said she was aware that students were drinking in her house. "
This says a lot to me about her as an adult--regardless of whether she served the alcohol (which I am now willing to say apparently did not happen) or the alcohol was brought in by the underaged minors (which appears to be the case)--she showed a shocking lack of responsibilty as the adult homeowner.

I have made up my mind and feel that she should not be allowed to return to the classroom. Others I ams ure will disagree with me.
It is now up the PA School Board to decide her fate.

Posted by Elem Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 19, 2006 at 9:48 am

Firstly, I am amazed by the fact that we have to read this information from PA Daily, rather than PA Online. Why this has not been updated I have no idea, but would still like to read the story from this perspective.

Secondly, it has all been said before. Mrs. Swagerty is in her own home supervising her teenage daughter and her friends, not a 3rd grade classroom. Again, I ask, what about the parents of the party attendees? I can certainly lay some of the blame with them. Why do they apparently have no idea what their children are doing? Why haven't they instilled some semblance of moral and legal behaviour in their children? What did they do to ensure that their children didn't drink (illegal), drive after 11.00 pm (illegal) and give or get rides from other teen drivers (illegal)? Yes, it does look like some safeguards were in place to make sure that no one went driving home drunk and that everyone would have been safe after the party if the police hadn't been called, but it doesn't answer the question of what are the parents in Palo Alto doing to ensure that their teenagers obey the law?

Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 19, 2006 at 9:57 am

i certainly agree with the many of the points that Elem Parent has raised. I am sure many of the parents of the partygoers would love Ms Swagerty to be the scapegoat for the whole thing.
I think the city is now taking steps to pass some new laws regarding the issues raised.
However, Ms Swagerty, was the on-site adult, and was the so-called last line of defence to prevent underaged drinking. This does not absolve the parents of the partygoers from some responsibilty either.

Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 19, 2006 at 11:36 am

"Scott Bowers, the Palo Alto school district's assistant superintendent, said the district is not going to take any action regarding Swagerty's position as a third-grade teacher."

End of story. Sanity and restraint prevails.

Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 19, 2006 at 11:47 am

That is interesting, because in the PA Daily story there is this quote:

"The Palo Alto school district said the trial had no implications for its own evaluation of Swagerty's actions, which will depend on advice from their legal counsel."

Hopefully it is not the end of the story--Ms Swagerty should at the least be suspended from her teaching position for a short period of time for a total lack of good judgement involving minors.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 19, 2006 at 12:13 pm

How did the minors get the alcohol? Did they bring it themselves?
If the minors brought it themselves - where did they get the alcohol from? From their parents? From a store that sold to underage minors?
If not from the teacher, then from whom?

Posted by Elem Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 19, 2006 at 1:25 pm

The Mercury News also gives a fair account. There the prosecutor states that he is satisfied with the outcome and that the hosts were not the horrible people that have been portrayed or were they the kindly souls providing supervision for teen drinking.

Posted by AG
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2006 at 2:23 pm

It seems to me that this story has now come to an end. Perhaps it is time for all of us to let this go. If there is a teacher you don't want teaching your child, take it up with your school. And, the same if there is a teacher you really want for your child. Otherwise, maybe you should stay out of it.

Posted by Chris
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Dec 19, 2006 at 2:54 pm

AG, The Palo Alto public schools are inherently community enterprises. We all pay for the schools through our taxes, have the right to have our say in School Board elections and at their meetings and otherwise try to have our values incorporated into the way the system is run through PTA's and otherwise participating in the public discussion. This isn't some private system that's just between each of us as parents and the school.

There has been a lot of discussion in this thread about what kind of people we want teaching at our schools. This is entirely appropriate. The idea that we should stay out of it and try to make our private and separate peace as individuals with individual schools about teachers is contrary to the whole idea of public schools.

If you want that kind of system, there are plenty of private schools in the area that work just like that. But otherwise, a vigorous public discourse (even if it doesn't come out your way), as we've had here, about how the schools should be run will benefit the schools and us all in the long run.

Maybe instead of us staying out of it, you should join in the verbal fray and have your say too.

Posted by AG
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2006 at 3:24 pm

Chris, you are right, you have every right to say what you will. I certainly have. I grew up in Palo Alto, and have always thought the school system was great. There have been times when I didn't agree, especially when my children went through. I have never been afraid to speak my mind.

However in this case, if I read the papers right, the decisions have been made. So I, at least, am willing to let it go.

Posted by holier than thou
a resident of Meadow Park
on Dec 19, 2006 at 5:51 pm

I too grew up in Palo Alto. I too advocate for my children, strongly and vocally. I think of the schools as a community enterprise, but I think of the parent community of each school as being able to advocate because they are informed. Why take up a cause against a teacher when the parents at that very school do not support the cause? Sounds as though the district has come to its own conclusion, as has the prosecutor. If those people think jusice has been served, why are we still debating it?

And to accuse this woman of being in the same category as a pedophile is reprehensible. She did not PREY upon those teenagers. Frankly, they took advantage and she made the wron judgment call. Talk to inmates at any prison. They *definitely* see a difference.

Posted by Sarah
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 19, 2006 at 7:21 pm

I think AG and htt are being unfair. The decisions about Ms. Swagerty were reported only this morning. I haven't seen Chris or anyone who appears to agree with her indicating they don't accept the decision, trying to reargue it, or even commenting negatively on it, except for Concerned Parent who apparently did not see the part about the District already having made a decision. Htt, on the other hand, wants to go back and argue about what people said when the decision was still open.

Additionally, these past few comments seem to be accusing people of not letting go - for which there is no evidence, and then implying further that people who were in favor of Swagerty receiving some sort of disciplinary action from the District didn't have a right to speak. Htt: it's not only the parents of students in a school who have a right (and a duty) to be concerned about what goes on in that school. It's everybody in the community. That's why Chris and Concerned Parent have a right to take up their cause.

AG, I'm glad you clarified your similar comment. We won't have the support of the community we need for schools if we start telling people without children in them just to shut up and pay their taxes. Let's all get together and work for good schools, and stop questioning one-another's motives when we disagree.

Posted by Jung
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 19, 2006 at 8:11 pm

Sanity and justice have prevaiiled. Common sense wins!

Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 20, 2006 at 1:01 am

Concerned Parent writes: "Ms Swagerty has pleaded no contest to the charges. Some of you may say--well this is not a guilty verdict."

No contest (nolo contendre) is essentially the same as pleading guilty. See definition at:

"I will not contest it." Plea which has same effect as pleading guilty, except that nolo contendre plea in a criminal case may not be used against the same person in a civil suit based on the same facts.

Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 20, 2006 at 7:05 am

Well, I am still abit confused over what the school district will do--one newspaper report (PA Weekly) has a quote from Scott Bowers that the school district will not do anything, while another paper (PA Daily) has an quote (no name given) that school district will wait from advice form their legal counsel.
Either way, as far as I am concerned, it is over. I still have my opinions about Ms Swagerty, however the courts and school distric have spoken.

By the way, not sure if anyone noticed, but the editors cut the heck out Jung's psychoanalysis and Chris and I. Not a streling recommendation for his practice!!!

Posted by PV parent
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 23, 2006 at 12:14 pm

Ms. Swaggerty is a responsible mother, a caring individual and (sadly) a victim of Palo Alto's PC venom. Palo Altans are not perfect, PAUSD teachers are human and loosing Swaggerty would be a detriment to the students.

Posted by Anon3
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 27, 2006 at 11:34 am

Yes, PV parent and as of last week Ms Swagerty is a convicted criminal.

Posted by Bystander again
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 27, 2006 at 12:12 pm

I just wonder how much more of this venomous anonymous comments we can handle. If this story had been about two parents who were in some other industry, or with the wife being a stay at home mother, would we still be discussing it? We as parents must handle our own children's upbringing and be responsible for what they do in their free time. We can't put the blame on anyone else.

Posted by Anon3
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 27, 2006 at 12:22 pm

Yes isn;t free speech and the internet terrible.
I agree with you , bystander, that we as parents must be responsible for our children. However, I really get annoyed when people,like PV parent, continue to sing the praises of someone who is a criminal--btw, it would not matter to me what industry the person was in, but I can see why some people are upset about this since the miscreant is a taecher.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Gunn High School

on Jun 5, 2017 at 1:34 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

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