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OCR Evidently to Make Findings Against PAUSD in Sexual Harassment Cases

Original post made by Alert Reader, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2015

Today Superintendent McGee sent a Weekly Communication to the Board indicating that OCR would be making findings against PAUSD in the two sexual harassment cases at Paly and Gunn. Web Link

It is probably the case that having a teacher who was found responsible for grooming a student and having a principal who was found responsible for creating a sexually hostile environment DURING THE INVESTIGATION that were not fully disclosed to the OCR did not help.

What else did not help? Oh, let's see: Passing the OCR Resolution condemning OCR for its investigation methods, which painted a target on the district and served no purpose other than to antagonize the agency and intensify the focus on the many failures to follow the law. Of course these failures were so legion that it probably was overdetermined. Phil Winston was placed in a special ed classroom after being removed from Paly for his sexually inappropriate comments and conduct. Kevin Sharp was left in the classroom for an entire year with no adequate Title IX investigation after the district had received more than one complaint about questionable conduct. The investigation itself was on its face a whitewash, thanks to FFF.

The combination of a feckless irresponsible board, dissembling and massively inept leadership, and terrible legal advice really created a perfect storm here and one can only hope that sound sound of hoofbeats we hear in the distance means that the cavalry is finally on the way.

According to Dr. McGee, OCR will give the district a draft resolution agreement and the district will have 30-90 days to agree. Then there will what McGee referred to as a "resolution letter" which is actually called a "letter of findings" (see below) where OCR makes its findings about the noncompliance it found here. There will be 2-3 years of monitoring to ensure that PAUSD complies with the resolution agreement. This is exactly what happened in the Terman case.

Read more about OCR's process when a district has been found in noncompliance here: Web Link See section 303: "When OCR determines that the preponderance of the evidence supports a conclusion that the recipient failed to comply with applicable regulation(s), in addition to the Statement of the Case, OCR will prepare a letter of finding(s), and a proposed resolution agreement."

What appears to have occurred is that by the time Ken Dauber was able to get McGee to call OCR to ask to resolve the matters, it was too late, and OCR concluded its investigation and found concerns about compliance. Had McGee called OCR and engaged in resolution discussions in December 2014 when Dauber first proposed it, it probably would have been possible to resolve this without a negative findings, but now it is not.

Now the only question is whether the board has had enough and will say "uncle" and agree to OCR's proposal or whether they want to face enforcement and possible obstruction action. [Portion removed.]

Comments (38)

94 people like this
Posted by concerned Paly mom
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 12, 2015 at 9:31 pm

It seems that the chickens are finally going to come home to roost. I hope that OCR is able to help this district to improve and to stop the sexual harassment issues. It is horrible enough to be plagued by suicide but to be plagued by suicide and failing to address sexual harassment and assault -- major risk factors for suicide -- is unconscionable.

I hope that the long-awaited help from OCR is about to bring transparency and help and will create the sexual equality that our our students need and deserve.

45 people like this
Posted by Max Skelly
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 12, 2015 at 10:10 pm

I am relieved that OCR will make these findings and force PAUSD to stop sexual harassment. I am disappointed to see McGee failing to disclose the situation to the board and try to hide the facts from the public. He never says that there are findings, and implies that this is some kind of cooperative collaboration. This is ridiculous. It's very Skellyish.

77 people like this
Posted by Box Canyon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2015 at 7:42 am

I read over the information in the OCR Procedures Manual -- very interesting. It looks as if what will happen next is:

1. OCR sends PAUSD a proposed resolution agreement. PAUSD should not be surprised if the proposed resolution agreement is pretty onerous, given the extent and seriousness of the violations that involved nude students, dating violence that was unaddressed, refusal to obey a court order regarding dating violence and stalking, sexual assault, a leering principal, and a teacher who groomed a student for sex, policies that are years out of date, a principal who was ignored in her efforts to get rid of the grooming teacher, and an attempted cover-up by upper administration with the help of the district lawyers. These are all serious violations, and the draft resolution agreement is very likely to reflect that seriousness.

2. PAUSD has a maximum of 90 days to agree. If at any time during the 90 days, it is clear to OCR (in OCR's judgment) that PAUSD is not going to agree, then OCR can pull the plug and issue an impasse letter. At that point, PAUSD will have 10 days to agree. On the 11th day, OCR will send the case to enforcement, which means that PAUSD will face the loss of federal funds.

PAUSD should not use FFF or Lozano for this negotiation, given that both firms are potentially implicated in the findings (Lozano advised that Phil Winston should not be fired and could be placed in a special education classroom, and FFF massively bungled and attempted to cover up the Sharp matter, Lozano was also involved in the Sharp matter). Both firms have potential conflicts, and that is the whole firm itself, not just particular lawyers within the firm such as Chad Graff and Lou Lozano. Max isn't going to have that many degrees of freedom anyway, so he should just agree to what OCR sends over and get this over and done with.

The alternative is bad. The alternative of engaging in PAUSD's usual strategy of delay, deny, try to talk out "our good work" or pretend that there is no problem, or aggressively fight to "protect the staff" will swiftly result in an impasse and enforcement action. PAUSD has real reason to fear that enforcement action since many of the facts in this case strongly suggest obstruction of justice. PAUSD did not comply with government requests for information when it did not disclose to OCR that Phil Winston had been found responsible for sexual harassment, even though that case was clearly within the ambit of the document and information requests. PAUSD also seems to have engaged with FFF in a clear effort to hide from OCR that Kevin Sharp created a hostile environment at Paly by creating 2 different Title IX reports -- one for the public and one for internal use, and by simultaneously finding that Sharp sexually groomed (i.e., harassed) a student but also that that harassment did not happen and therefore all was well. PAUSD deserves to face obstruction charges for these acts, and if the Justice Department has to go to court, no reason to leave the gun in the holster. There is a lot of reason that PAUSD should settle this fast and quiet.

3. The real wild card now is the board, except for Dauber. [Portion removed.]

If Heidi does not lead the board and shut down Townsend, this is going to go to enforcement. If Townsend is allowed to maraud and demand that the district fight, if the three old board members try to stay the course of defiance and "defending our staff" at the urging of Holly Wade, then the federal government will simply blow them and the district to smithereens. This is not a game and it is not a drill. PAUSD has a teacher who had groomed a student for sex. PAUSD [portion removed] hid facts from the government about that and about other things. PAUSD ignored the fact that a student was beaten by her boyfriend and stalked and failed to take action to prevent a further hostile environment. In the middle of a suicide cluster. Then PAUSD passed a right-wing resolution condemning OCR, accusing its lawyers of malfeasance, and tried to gin up a lobbying campaign in support of far-right wing Republican efforts in Congress to restrict the agency's authority. Emberling, Caswell, and Townsend all voted for that. Now they all have to either walk it back or face the music (Actually it is our kids who will face the music, by losing needed funding.).

That's about as serious as it gets. PAUSD deserves that the full book should be thrown at it and that is what will happen if they so much as begin to argue or resist.

The cavalry has corralled the lawbreakers and chased them into a box canyon. We can either come out with our hands up or die in the shoot out. Godspeed, OCR.

13 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 13, 2015 at 7:58 am

A lot of speculation on this thread on what OCR cases will be presented for resolution.

Whipping up a frenzy over unknown findings seems Trump-like at best. Not defending PAUSD by any means. But perhaps you can hold off on the tar and feathers until an announcement of fact is made?

32 people like this
Posted by Virgil Earp
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2015 at 8:10 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

67 people like this
Posted by FedUpPalyParent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2015 at 9:14 am

I am completely fed up with this board and have lost confidence in McGee as the new guy to fix this mess.

My daughter went to Paly when Phil was Principal; she was in Sharps class when he was grooming students and has had to witness the mahem on campus during streaking years, and the sorrow during suicide clusters.

[Portion removed.]

Our children should not have to endure this gauntlet of assaults to earn a diploma.

The board is completely unwilling to manage their own staff on ANY issue, no matter how big or small. It doesn't require an indictment from the OCR to tell me we have broken leadership, uncaring staff, predatory behavior among other staff, homework overload, and an environment that creates anxiety and depression.

We needed tar and feathers long ago. Frankly the OCR penalties are a slap on the wrist compared to what is justly earned - I feel the board, admin, and considerable numbers of staff should be removed for gross negligence.

Thes people have treated our children awfully.

45 people like this
Posted by Truth and reconciliation timeneeds to begin
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2015 at 9:52 am

@ Box Canyon,
"That's about as serious as it gets. PAUSD deserves that the full book should be thrown at it "

Actually, it's not nearly the end. Employees have for years engaged in serious retaliation against families who complained about problems (either OCR complaints or even just complaints of things needing to be addressed). The more serious the problem in need of addressing, in my observation, the more serious the retaliation, as if the district was desperate to squash any potential litigation or even action that might bring to light any need to address problems, by strong arming families.

The retaliation takes in part the form of backbiting by district people through onsite personnel who don't question the veracity of what they are fed through the district, which ultimately creates a hostile environment for the child at school and perhaps even at home when parents are significantly stressed (as is done deliberately via district legal and backbiting). The school and district end up acting as one big retaliatory unit, with an expensive kegal team, against vulnerable families. Believe me, the end is not in sight, and employees who think it will blow over and not bite them if they just lay low (or worse, dig in on the persecutorial stance toward families - imagine trying to libel a child behind the scenes in order to create a record the state or other authorities won't pick up on) will end up being implicated with the administration.

That situation hasn't nearly played out as McGee doesn't understand (nor does he seem to wish to) what some of his employees have done and are doing, and I already know of one mulifamily complaint that may happen if McGee continues to avoid openness, truth and reconciliation where he's been informed of problems. This is just the tip if the iceberg, as the disinclination to work with families, be open and handle records according to the law (some of which McGee knows and is part of the secrecy reported on, most he doesn't) has implications to discrimination as well.

I hope McGee realizes in every situation that became a major complaint, no one nearly went straight to the OCR, but rather, parents spent months or years trying to get help within school channels. Imagine this coming to light: district fighting the OCR even while employees engaged in vicious retaliation against families who had sought help and complained about problems, even retaliation that directly hurt children. District personnel are almost comical in how they think they have covered up or suppressed things and don't realize the behavior only makes things worse. (This is why the district absolutely should not be allowed to let McGee impale himself on his own sword by giving him in house counsel, but rather should hire county counsel and be glad fir the reality checks!!)

The implications to this situation are legion, as the families who complained here are likely to face the same retaliation, and if the past serves, it could play out over years and/or in ways that damage families and children's emotional health, education and futures. OCR says anyone who complains has the right to be free of retaliation, regardless of finding, but in reality, there are no proactive protections, and district employees are already quite used to retaliating with impunity.

I am a parent with direct ongoing experience of this, and know and know of several families who have even taken children out of the district because of retaliation. No, this is not nearly the end unless McGee sucks it in and makes a break for truth, openness, honesty, and kindness to all equally.

15 people like this
Posted by ironic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2015 at 9:59 am

Let me see if I understand this correctly.

The board agrees to let Dr. McGee place 1 call to ask the OCR if an early resolution is available on the two open cases. The Board OKs that because he told the board that:

- If an early resolution is available, it would free up time for the district to do other very important work.

- If it is not available, there would be no harm since everything goes back to the status quo and the OCR continues working to determine if PAUSD has broken any laws.

Yet Dr. McGee then pursues a third path with the OCR that the board did NOT authorize: agreeing to enter into an agreement with the OCR ("we will reach a collaborative agreement") or face sanctions.

The OCR can require that PAUSD enter into an agreement on its own, but it needs to prove PAUSD broke the law - a high bar - first. Here Dr. McGee seems to have told the OCR don't bother finishing up your work, we'll admit we were at fault, or at least sign off regardless of fault, and we welcome the extra rules and scrutiny.

Reasonable people can differ on whether they like more or fewer rules, but what is clear here is that, because of going down this third path, the district did not accomplish either of the "either or" options that Dr. McGee told the board would happen. The district will NOT have more, or even the same amount of, time to do the other important work Dr. McGee said he needed to do, which, again, was the reason the board OKed the call in the first place.

What the community is going to get if the board lets Dr. McGee proceed:

- Administrative staff suspending work over a 30 to 90 day period (coming in over Xmas break to do it?) in order to negotiate two different resolution agreements simultaneously and, like last time, without access to the facts uncovered in the investigation making it hard to do.

- An on-going partnership with the OCR which will be onsite with the Paly and Gunn principals "monitoring" both high schools and seeking changes, under threat of more resolution agreements, if the OCR is not happy with what it sees, possibly for 2 or 3 years.

- If the poster above is right, another rare "Letter of Finding" or two from the OCR bringing with it another round of negative press and all that follows from that.

- Possibly losing federal funding if the board doesn't like OCR's terms and so won't agree to the resolution agreement, even if NO laws have been broken.

- Paying loads of legal fees that all of these will entail.

So - to help free up staff time and save legal fees - will the board require Dr. McGee to call the OCR and say that he over-committed, making the OCR finish its investigation and determine whether PAUSD broke federal laws or not? Clearly some posters above think PAUSD is at fault but I am not convinced that the long lists of terribles people post online are always true. The OCR can ferret that out.

So how about letting the OCR finish its work and make the determination? There is nothing to lose and lots to gain including the full truth, instead of rumor, that can be shared with the community.

If it turns out that PAUSD is not at fault and it wants to tighten up policies and have the OCR to monitor what is happening in our high schools, it can ask the OCR for technical assistance and get all the guidance it wants, anytime it wants; it doesn't need to get a resolution agreement for that.

Web Link

Web Link

68 people like this
Posted by Box Canyon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2015 at 10:37 am

@ironic. You wrote: "Let me see if I understand this correctly."

You don't.

That's not your fault as McGee's message is written in a fairly vague and somewhat obfuscatory manner. That's why you need to read the OCR manual to understand what is happening, as I suggested. If you read Section 303 of the Manual: Web Link (page 21) it is very clear what is happening.

OCR has passed the point in the investigation at which it could have allowed the district to have a voluntary resolution agreement prior to the conclusion of the investigation (Section 302). According to the manual, Section 303, once "OCR determines that the preponderance of the evidence supports a conclusion that the recipient
failed to comply with applicable regulation(s)" then that triggers the process PAUSD is evidently in right now. Under that process, OCR has notified the district that it is too late to enter into an agreement without having a Letter of Finding. There will be a Letter of Finding. PAUSD can have that Letter of Finding with a Resolution Agreement, or it can have it with an enforcement action.

OCR will prepare a draft Resolution Agreement and give PAUSD up to 90 days to negotiate it in good faith. If PAUSD enters into an agreement then it will receive the letter of finding plus the negotiated agreement. IF PAUSD does not enter into the agreement then it will receive the letter of finding plus enforcement (and God willing, obstruction) action. Those are the only two choices: finding with agreement; or finding with enforcement. The choice of having no letter of finding has now melted away. PAUSD could have had it a year ago, but not now. Now that's off the table.

You say that "The OCR can require that PAUSD enter into an agreement on its own, but it needs to prove PAUSD broke the law - a high bar - first." Yup, that's what just happened. OCR has concluded by a preponderance that PAUSD broke the law. That outcome was never in doubt after Phil Winston was found by the district to have stated that white girls liked a black male student because of his "black dong," and was found to have created a hostile educational environment at Paly, and then the district tried to get OCR to close its investigation without telling OCR about that whole incident, just moved Phil over to a special ed classroom and told OCR nothing to see here move along. [Portion removed.] Anyone who has followed this has been waiting for the other shoe, and now it's banged the board on the head. Shoes are falling everywhere.

You are sort of right about one thing which is that McGee just told the board that he would reach a collaborative agreement with OCR and the board did not authorize him to do that yet. So now the question (as I said above) is "will they"? A lot of what I wrote was inexplicably deleted about Townsend's running amok and the rest of the board accommodating her and not doing the sensible thing. It is almost impossible to even imagine this board settling this voluntarily and I believe that it will go to enforcement and all I have to say is "about time."

13 people like this
Posted by ironic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2015 at 12:37 pm

Box Canyon,

My focus was on what Dr. McGee asked the board for permission to do and what the board OKed. As I said, it appears that he went beyond what he had the authority to do and, if so, he should go back to the board, explain what happened, and ask for new instructions which might involve another call to the OCR withdrawing his agreement to enter into an agreement.

He shouldn't be able to commit to an expensive and time consuming path without the board's approval. And he shouldn't be able to tell federal authorities that his staff broke federal civil rights laws without first having all of the facts in front of him, getting a legal opinion from the district's own attorney who will apply those facts to the law, and, again, direction from his board.

Didn't the last superintendent get berated incessantly and ultimately leave the district for taking things into his own hands instead of getting direction from the board in an open OCR matter? This is different and arguably worse; Dr. McGee asked the board for direction, it gave it to him, and, again if I understand this right, he defied them by going beyond what they authorized him to do.

14 people like this
Posted by ironic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Box Canyon,

Thanks for the link to the OCR rules.

Dr. McGee did not say in his post that the OCR has determined "that the preponderance of the evidence" supports negative findings here. Perhaps you've read something I haven't, but I don't recall Dr. McGee's post even saying that, absent his seemingly early offer to rush to the judgment part, the OCR's investigation is over yet.

Lots of time may have passed but the OCR's investigation on these two cases so far is a fraction of the investigation it conducted in prior OCR cases even though the two high school cases are substantially bigger in scale and vastly more complicated. How can the OCR be close to where it needs to be to make a negative finding then?

When OCR finishes gathering its evidence, the OCR manual says that it will either find that the evidence DOES indicate that a law was broken OR that it DOES NOT. 303 Nothing changes just because Dr. McGee offered to enter into an early resolution. The OCR either accepts the offer or, as in this case, it says no and proceeds to either find that the evidence DOES indicate that a law was broken OR that it DOES NOT. 302.

The OCR's work is about correcting current problems in order to bring schools into compliance, not about punishing schools for prior and subsequently corrected misbehavior.

OCR Manual: "When OCR determines that there are no current allegations appropriate for further resolution, the complaint will be closed."

So what, if anything, will it find here? That is not clear yet.

You are upset about Phil Winston, but he doesn't work in the district any longer. He was replaced by Kim Diorio who is all over sexual misbehavior so it is quite possible that, however unfortunate that episode of Paly's history was, it has been fixed and will not be relevant to the OCR now. Others are upset about the Paly teacher who allegedly groomed a student; because of Kim Diorio, he doesn't work in the district any longer either. A year or so ago, didn't Gunn have a complete turnover in its administration? Presumably all of the folks who were involved in the claim there are gone too.

This all takes me back to my original point which is that there are still two possible outcomes here - a letter of finding that all is well now or a letter of finding that it isn't.

Even if the OCR tipped Dr. McGee off the other day that it has evidence that supports a negative finding, it is best to let the OCR finish its investigation so all the facts are known to everyone instead of suspend it mid-stream. The outcome best for district students will happen only if everyone is fully informed, the upside to waiting.

53 people like this
Posted by Box Canyon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2015 at 1:03 pm


As to your first post, I think you are expecting the phrase "we will reach a collaborative agreement" to do a lot of heavy lifting. He is simply stating the obvious, which is that PAUSD will reach an agreement with OCR because the alternative is being sued by the Justice Department, losing federal funds, and possibly even prosecutions of district officials and lawyers for obstruction of justice. That sounds like an agreement would be better to me. Plus, just a few sentences on, McGee says "assuming we do" reach an agreement, showing that he knows that the board may not allow him to reach that agreement.

He hasn't yet negotiated anything with OCR because OCR has not yet given PAUSD the terms of its surrender, i.e., the draft resolution agreement. As Jan Tomsky told the board in October, once OCR has reached the point at which it has evidence of compliance concerns (YOU ARE HERE) then it gets harder to negotiate, and OCR has all the cards, essentially. They will decide whether and to what extent there even is a negotiation and PAUSD will agree or it will be sued and potentially prosecuted. [Portion removed.]

Skelly left not because he negotiated the Terman agreement with OCR. He should have done that. He was in trouble because he hid it and didn't tell the board. McGee is doing the right thing, sort of, by telling the board, though he did the wrong thing, absolutely, by failing to try to negotiate soon enough. That decision will come to be regretted but it's spilled milk.

As for your second post, you don't understand what is happening. You keep saying that the district should allow OCR to "finish its investigation." The investigation is basically finished. McGee wrote that OCR is "finalizing the review process" and will be sharing "their preliminary conclusions and concerns" with the district. They will then send over the draft terms of the agreement.

As to your statements that maybe it is all fixed now so there won't be a finding, that is an absolute fantasy. They just informed the district that they have compliance concerns. They just told McGee that they will be wrapping up and sharing those concerns shortly. They didn't say "we haven't decided if you violated Title IX." They said "we have concerns, we will tell you what they are, and then we will tell you what you will be doing about it. You will have 30 days to agree, or we will rain hellfire and damnation on you."

You have a fantasy that you can somehow get out of this without a Letter of Finding. If that was ever possible, that opportinity is gone. It could be that the investigation itself was less intensive and did not involve as many steps because the violations are more open and flagrant in this case -- the policies are badly out of date (for example the Paly and Gunn handbooks still to this day say that step 1 in sexual harassment is "work it out with your harasser." The Winston thing was right out there. All the streaking students. The deceptions. The botched Title IX investigation in the Sharp matter. [Portion removed.] It would have been better to do it sooner and voluntarily and cooperatively rather than at gunpoint but whatever.

The Long Con of the greatness of PAUSD is coming to an end. Can't be soon enough for many of us.

51 people like this
Posted by Blonde and Sick of It
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Dec 13, 2015 at 3:17 pm

Sexual harassment at the middle school level needs to be investigated. For both of my daughters, it started happening in 6th grade.

Complaints were dismissed because the harassment was perpetrated by boys of another race... The school and the district were to afraid of accusations of racism.

Actually, some of the sexual harassment problems in this district ( not all, mind you!) have to do with a xenophobic misconception by some foreign nationalities that ALL Caucasian females with blonde/ blue-eyed coloring have loose morals.

There needs to be discussion and buck-stopping concerning this, because it seems apparent that many boys of other races get this groundless idea from their parents.

12 people like this
Posted by ironic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2015 at 4:02 pm

Box Canyon,

You say that "PAUSD will agree or it will be sued and potentially prosecuted [and it] will have 30 days [before the OCR] will rain hellfire and damnation" on it.

Those are pretty bold statements based on some big, unfounded assumptions:

- About how the OCR works because, according to the OCR, its "rules" aren't rules, they are recommendations. Web Link (Undersecretary of the Department of Education Ted Mitchell: OCR's "guidance does not hold the force of law and are recommendations and illustrations") OCR can't prosecute or attach PAUSD's funding based on a wish of what the laws should say.

- That OCR's work is finished and PAUSD is looking really bad right about now. I don't see it. To me that the OCR has "compliance concerns" is stating the obvious; why would the OCR open an investigation if it didn't? That it is "finalizing the review process" could mean that it is still reviewing and investigating and that it will be sharing its "preliminary conclusions and concerns" could mean that those will or it won't include a finding.

Remember, the OCR looks forward not backwards, none of the students and staff involved in the claims are still there, PAUSD has a new superintendent, and both high schools have completely new administrators with a new focus and new rules.

So nothing is dire or over UNLESS Dr. McGee signs something that says that PAUSD violated the "law," a silly thing to do IMHO since, again, the OCR rules are just recommendations. Especially concerning to PAUSD should be if following some of OCR's guidance, as Harvard law professors assert, end up with PAUSD violating students' US constitutional rights. Web Link ("Harvard Law Professors Slam Government Stance On Sexual Assault...May Violate Students' Rights")

Bottom line, PAUSD appears to be free to take the parts of OCR's advice that it finds helpful and to reject that which does not best serve its students. The immense value that OCR adds is that of a consultant; it is a second set of eyes and shares ideas about how to make schools better for students, for free.

42 people like this
Posted by Tojo
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 13, 2015 at 4:36 pm

PAUSD is "free" to reject OCRs "advice" is like saying that Japan was "free" to reject Truman's "advice" on the deck of the battleship Missouri. But these comments of "ironic" are definitely q good representation of what the old board thinks and a good example as to why the overwhelming force of the federal government will be necessary to resolve this matter in the end.

11 people like this
Posted by ironic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Maybe it would help to read what the OCR says its guidance letters and rulings mean verbatim:

Department of Education Deputy Assistant Secretary Amy McIntosh: "I tried to be very clear ... guidance that the Department issues does not have the force of law.”

Under Secretary Ted Mitchell's sworn testimony: "To reiterate what Amy said last week ... our guidance does not hold the force of law and are recommendations and illustrations."

-- From an October 2015 article entitled "Second Department of Education Official in Eight Days Tells Congress Guidance Is Not Binding"

The OCR I guess could bring a lawsuit against a school district for sanctions for its failure to follow the OCR's Dear Colleague Letters but it likely will get kicked out of court because judges work in the world of laws and, according to the OCR, it works in the world of "guidance" and "recommendations and illustrations."

27 people like this
Posted by Tojo
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 13, 2015 at 5:46 pm

Well we definitely know what the course of resistance costs -- $1million and counting. We can multiply that by some factor to try our luck in court. I can't wait to watch the DOJ cross examine Chad Graff about the title IX investigations in the Sharp matter. Also Phil!! DOJ lawyers can put on the evidence of Phil leering at teenage streakers and saying "black dong." Because no judge would conclude that's a hostile environment. Or that the district concealed the evidence of it. You know people can go to jail for witholdinv evidence from federal investigators. I personally would love to see most of these people in stripes so let's go for it.

Your republican theories about OCR have no relevance here PAUSD is not a victim of agency overreach. Pausd is a victim or bad and dishonest leadership and lawyers.

15 people like this
Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 13, 2015 at 6:05 pm

There are two sides to every story. May I recommend reading a statement from the "Lauren" of the Weekly's article? It can be found here:

Web Link

18 people like this
Posted by home to roost
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 13, 2015 at 6:22 pm

Wow! Powerful stuff. The Weekly should be ashamed.

11 people like this
Posted by ironic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2015 at 6:28 pm


I doubt an OCR claim for sanctions based on the district's failure to follow OCR recommendations would get very far before a judge summarily kicked it out.

Federal agencies can be counter-sued for bringing frivolous claims BTW. A few years ago a federal court awarded the company that the EEOC sued "$4.6 million because of the EEOC’s frivolous and burdensome lawsuit."

Looks like the district may be able to get reimbursed for costs and attorneys fees if it is sued for failure to follow OCR recommendations that are not laws. Found on Google - "U.S. Supreme Court Sets New Guidelines for Recovery of Legal Fees for Frivolous Civil Rights Claims"

7 people like this
Posted by Sherlock Holmes
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 13, 2015 at 7:16 pm

Crescent Park Dad is the most educated person on Palo Alto Online. #realtalk

57 people like this
Posted by Box Canyon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2015 at 7:27 pm

FIrst of all, "ironic" is so far off base about how OCR investigations work that a productive exchange is not possible. Essentially nothing that "ironic" says is accurate. I won't bother to correct it since it is clear that "ironic" is acting from a place of deep, anti-OCR ideology rather than a practical or pragmatic approach. Very worryingly, "ironic" sounds a great deal like the kinds of views expressed by past board president Barbara Mitchell, who led PAUSD into the situation it is in today and whose ideology still infects the current board majority.

I will say only that OCR would be seeking to withdraw federal money from PAUSD not due to failure to comply with a guidance document but due to a failure to comply with Title IX. And, since the district did not comply with Title IX, the district would be very likely to lose that action, which would be administrative (but which could land in federal court eventually after millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted on this.)

[Portion removed.]

22 people like this
Posted by home to roost
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 13, 2015 at 7:48 pm

[Post removed.]

61 people like this
Posted by Paly teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 13, 2015 at 8:00 pm

[Post removed.]

11 people like this
Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 13, 2015 at 8:35 pm

[Post removed.]

81 people like this
Posted by Box Canyon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2015 at 8:36 pm

[Post removed.]

10 people like this
Posted by paly teacher? really?
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Dec 13, 2015 at 8:36 pm

[Post removed.]

43 people like this
Posted by Terms of Use
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 13, 2015 at 9:14 pm

[Post removed.]

16 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 13, 2015 at 9:17 pm

The Paly Voice on their Facebook page are also posting this letter from Tumbler.

15 people like this
Posted by Student
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 13, 2015 at 9:33 pm

Tenure protects teachers but false rumors don't? I know some really bad male teachers who should be fired. So this is how it's done?

23 people like this
Posted by Disgusted
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2015 at 9:41 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

7 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 13, 2015 at 9:46 pm

Wow. Have the movie rights been optioned yet?

9 people like this
Posted by lesson learned
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 13, 2015 at 9:46 pm

That's how it's done, student. Just go to the Weekly, they'll print anything without talking to the people involved. Feeding on rumors and salaciousness without any facts.
[Portion removed.] Now the real story is out there, they can't take it back. Or the damage they've done.

10 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 13, 2015 at 9:55 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@lesson learned - What fact did the weekly get wrong, and who did they fail to talk to? They definitely talked to "Lauren."

Like this comment
Posted by Town Square Moderator
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2015 at 10:16 pm

Town Square Moderator is a registered user.

For those interested in reviewing the Weekly's story on the Kevin Sharp matter, here is the link Web Link

3 people like this
Posted by parent2
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 13, 2015 at 10:48 pm

parent2 is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

7 people like this
Posted by Ashamedof PaloAlto
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2015 at 9:02 am

Ashamedof PaloAlto is a registered user.

"Dr. Holly Wade and I spoke with Laura Faer and Zach Pelchat regarding our request for early resolution of our OCR cases. It does not appear that we will reach early resolution, but we will reach a collaborative agreement. Ms. Faer said they have made completion of our two unresolved cases a priority and will be finalizing the review process soon. They will be scheduling a time to come to the district to learn more about relevant policies, initiatives, and practices that we have instituted in the past two years and assess how they align with OCR guidelines. They added that they will share their preliminary conclusions and concerns with us and work collaboratively to develop a resolution agreement. We will have 30 to 90 days to respond to a draft of a final resolution agreement. Once we reach an accord (assuming we do), OCR will issue a resolution letter and likely have a follow-up monitoring period. We do not know how long a monitoring period might be, but they said the average is two to three years. As we learn more we will keep the Board and public informed."

Now where in there did it say as ALERT READER claims that OCR will be making findings against the 2 cases at Paly and Gunn ? What about the other cases? [Portion removed.]

11 people like this
Posted by parent2
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 14, 2015 at 9:24 am

parent2 is a registered user.

As written above, McGee did write this in a somewhat obfuscatory style and in order to understand what is happening you need to also read (thanks to the Alert Reader who posted it) the OCR manual. Here's the link again: Web Link

See Page 21, Section 303. That is the relevant portion of the manual.

Here is a decoded version of McGee's "hide the ball" email:

1. McGee asked whether he could have a Section 302 resolution prior to the conclusion of the investigation, as the board voted that he would do.
2. OCR said no. "It does not appear that we will reach early resolution."
3. Rather, OCR said that it was too late for that as it was already completing the investigation and would be making findings: "they will share their preliminary conclusions and concerns with us."
4. According to Section 303, once OCR has reached a determination, the case is no longer eligible for 302 resolution. Instead, OCR will prepare a draft resolution agreement and present it to the district and give it up to 90 days to accept it. " We will have 30 to 90 days to respond to a draft of a final resolution agreement."
5. The district has to accept the resolution agreement within 90 days or OCR will launch enforcement. Assuming the district acquiesces (as they all do), then there will be a Letter of Finding and there will be monitoring of the agreement: "OCR will issue a resolution letter and likely have a follow-up monitoring period."

It would have been far better had McGee not hidden the ball and just said "OCR has found compliance concerns and we will face findings. It is too late to engage in resolution talks without a finding. Now we wait for them to drop the hammer on us." But it's all in there if you read it one sentence at a time very carefully.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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