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Editorial: Hard school lessons

Original post made on Apr 11, 2014

The revelation that former Palo Alto High School Principal Phil Winston engaged in "unprofessional conduct and unsatisfactory performance" in his dealings with both students and colleagues is profoundly sad and disappointing.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 11, 2014, 12:04 AM

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Posted by iSez
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 11, 2014 at 6:01 pm

iSez is a registered user.

This is such a shame because Principal Winston was an excellent principal from our perspective as parents and students. His genuine concern for the students was evident in his attention to emails and timely follow-up emails. He was visible and approachable on campus. I'm so sorry to read he couldn't stay PC.

Not only is there media on this, Skelly emailed a letter to all parents, and policemen and Principal Diorio spoke in classrooms today about appropriate behavior. PAUSD is dragging Winston through the mud as if seeking revenge. Is there a lawsuit coming down the pipeline? I have to wonder why Skelly would bring this up now, when he has resigned already and everything has moved on.

Teacher's fear of retaliation? There are many parents and students who fear grade retaliation from teachers if they complain about some of the bad teachers. Many parents don't return the teacher feedback forms due to fear of retaliation. There are many teachers who are adversely affecting their students' quality of life due to unreasonable expectations. Principal Diorio should have counselors distribute and collect anonymous teacher feedback forms from students. Yes, there are also fabulous teachers at Paly and they should be commended. Principal Diorio, check to find the real scoop on your teachers if you really care about your students.

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Posted by Edmund Burke
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Edmund Burke is a registered user.

While the reporting on this subject was outstanding and truly marvelous (particularly the tenacity behind the reporting) his editorial lacks moral clarity.

The Weekly claims that "Lesson Number One" is: In California, the law makes it so expensive and onerous to terminate a credentialed teacher that most districts decide not to even try.


Lesson Number One is that PAUSD failed when it placed Phil Winston, who the district's own investigation had substantiated and serious allegations of sexual harassment about, back into the classroom. And not just any classroom, a special education classroom, with our most vulnerable children.

Lesson Number One is that PAUSD should have placed Winston in a position not in contact with students and attempted to dismiss him, as do other districts when they have teachers who have committed serious offenses. It is absolutely appalling that PAUSD did not do this, and appalling that the Weekly thinks that lesson number one is some kind of lesson about California law reform.

Lesson Number One is our school board sat by mutely while Kevin Skelly actively misled the public about Winston. Lesson Number One is that we need a board and superintendent that put students first. [Portion removed.] Rather than insisting that we try to dismiss this teacher, even if it was expensive, even if it took a long time, because it was the right thing to do, they allowed the public to be told that Winston was "good with kids."

Lesson Number One is that a school board that would do that has no moral compass. They are at sea, and land is no longer in sight at all.

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Posted by Perspectives
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Perspectives is a registered user.

I'm not criticizing the article- I appreciate the effort to boldly state opinions- but "How nice it would be to see, as one outcome of this case, our district, including its teachers, advocating for reform of this system.".... that's depressing. No one should just accept that the District might have failed to do the right thing in this situation and just hope for future betterment through a crusade.

Oh, yes, absolutely it's a shame the system in this state makes it so hard and expensive to "do the right thing". Let's hear it for protecting rights to the point of social stagnation! But no, I shouldn't have to stage a demonstration and beat down doors to get our school district to have placed Mr. Winston in a job that no longer interacts in a position of authority in the classroom.

If it really is that burdensome and expensive to remove him entirely (or perhaps removing him entirely wasn't even necessary), then for Pete's sake give him a good job doing something purely administrative and let that be the end of it. But District, stay responsible to your children, not worried about your checkbook!

If there is an issue, just reassigning and putting the problem on someone else's children to avoid blow-back (financial or otherwise) sounds like an institutional problem that is setting off down a dangerous path.

In this case, the school district has merely demoted him and put the offender in a different school building with the special education students. No way I'm writing off our District as a victim of the "system". It certainly appears they had a choice to have done differently.

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