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School board on sex assaults: 'A change in culture' is 'needed'

Original post made on Jul 14, 2017

Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education President Terry Godfrey wrote a message Thursday updating parents on the district's response to numerous reports of student sexual violence on and off its campuses over the last several months.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 14, 2017, 9:56 AM

Comments (22)

4 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 14, 2017 at 3:34 pm

[Post removed.]

17 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2017 at 6:33 pm

KTVU is on this again.

I wish they would look into other school districts and make some investigation there. I can't believe that Paly is the only school where this is going on.

20 people like this
Posted by for Healthier High Schools
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 14, 2017 at 8:35 pm

I applaud the board for being concerned about "caring and respect, about how to stand together." Surely, there's no arguing with such values!

But it will be impossible to move the climate of our schools in this direction as long as we continue turning a blind eye to certain basic, corrosive schoolday conditions at Gunn and Paly.

Only 18% of our high-schoolers have never engaged in cheating (according to the Challenge Success surveys of 2015 and 2016). Only 18%! Talk about a disrespected minority that we have never moved to protect!

In our failure to create a climate of academic honesty we are demoralizing our kids every day and every night, on every type of assignment. (The surveys showed cheating on homework, tests, papers, at rates as high as 70%.)

Second, because we lack the rules and the enforcement, kids are accessing their smartphones all day long.

Yes, kids do so for the emotional support they necessarily crave because of the loneliness, the distrust in our school culture; but the phones are used also for gossip, harassment, insults, intrusive or racy photos, and on-campus sexual assignations.

"Caring," "respecting," "standing together"--these are admirable ideals. But turning them into realities will call for courage from our school leaders.

Marc Vincenti
Chairman, Save the 2,008--for Healthier High Schools

P.S. Join our 572-member alliance--at support six practical proposals for school change.

22 people like this
Posted by jimmyh
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 14, 2017 at 9:26 pm

@resident - It's that attitude that got the school where they are today. "Let's look the other way, this is making us look bad. Let's talk about test scores and Merit Scholars."

I'm sure this is going on at other schools. But, why ignore what's going on in front of your nose. There are administrators at Paly, including Principal Diorio, that looked the other way to sexual assaults. That's a fact that cannot be ignored and must be dealt with. Ideally, Diorio will be gone by the end of summer.

8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2017 at 8:05 am


That is not my attitude or what I am saying.

My point is that I am tired of hearing our dirty laundry being washed in public. I would be pleased if KTVU found some other districts with a similar problem as a comparison. We need to clean up PAUSD, I agree. We don't need to hear it continually talked about on local tv for all and sundry in the Bay Area to hear their version of the scandal, sensationalizing it for entertainment value - as their investigative reports often are.

21 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 15, 2017 at 8:40 am

I agree that it would be preferable to not have a TV spotlight on our problems. Unfortunately, prior to the KTVU reporting these problems were hidden from public view and not being corrected as a result to the harm of students. This is a good example of why a strong, free press is so valuable.

12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2017 at 9:23 am

I agree that the press did a good job bringing it out into the forefront and I don't mind that. It just seems to me that their continual follow ups are now entertainment or patting themselves on the back rather than newsworthy. If they were really investigating as good journalists should, they would look to see if the problem were more widespread. My suspicion is that there are other school districts pleased that the spotlight is on PAUSD while they are trying to cover their own problems. Why should we get the media coverage while others are remaining hidden while they tidy up shop?

26 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 15, 2017 at 11:06 am

DTN Paul is a registered user.

I'm not sure why I understand why it requires a full time officer to ensure people (administrators, teachers, students) follow the rules. Isn't this the job of the administration? If they can't handle it, and need to hire a special officer to do it, what exactly are they spending all their time doing?

11 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 15, 2017 at 12:10 pm

If we concentrate on solving our problems rather than hiding or denying them, our press coverage will improve. We get enough today out of D.C. of blaming the press. In our case we should be thanking them. Fortunately, we finally have a school board majority that appears to be facing and addressing the issues. This KTVU report may have even been the final and long overdue tipping point for them.

27 people like this
Posted by Keith Ferrell
a resident of Southgate
on Jul 15, 2017 at 3:52 pm

@DTN Paul - Exactly!! If the administration were doing their job, and following the law, PAUSD would not need to hire anyone to be an additional layer of payroll. A full-time compliance officer is not going to help if Diorio et al continue to bury the facts and treat sexual assaults as disciplinary problems.

It is the Palo Alto High School administration's negligence that is costing the district at least $1,000,000 in lawyer fees and additional payroll/benefit/pension outlays.

The bond money that was voted on last election to be used for additional teachers has now been allotted to lawyer fees.

@Resident - your criticism should be directed to the PAHS administrators who decided it was a better idea to bury the truth than to deal with the situation as spelled out by the law. It's quite possible that other districts actually follow the law and, therefore, this is not an issue. I'm sure if MVLA school district handled their sexual assault cases in the same manner [portion removed] PAUSD, it'd be in the papers.

24 people like this
Posted by PAUSD Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2017 at 7:01 am

Please get rid of Kim Diario. [Portion removed.] Her actions fall short in many ways to provide quality educational environment to all students.

6 people like this
Posted by Oh Keith
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2017 at 7:27 pm

Keith, let's drop the pretense.

[Portion removed.]

This community faces life and death issues on a quarterly basis. So I'm tired of seeing people exploit this situation for their own gain when we have progress to make.

The board has clearly taken steps to move forward. So stop anchoring us in the past. We need to move forward. So make your move now to get what you can, otherwise get out of our way.

Your neighbor

13 people like this
Posted by Keith Ferrell
a resident of Southgate
on Jul 18, 2017 at 9:02 pm

@Oh Keith
Please let me know what I have to gain. Feel free to explain your post. What is being exploited? If you are "my neighbor" please come and talk face to face and explain what you mean. I'm more than happy to discuss.

I don't have "a move". What I want is for administrators to be held accountable. Have you seen that? Is ignoring the past actually moving forward?

2 people like this
Posted by Oh Keith
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2017 at 9:29 pm

[Portion removed.] This community has a lot of healing to do from the last few years. And a lot of stress with a coming school year. So please consider the consequences of your continually picking at our societal scabs. [Portion removed.]

So please let us move on. The more you continue to hype past events and share your moral outrage with us, the more you hold us back. We need to start this new year on a high note. Not a sour one.

13 people like this
Posted by Keith Ferrell
a resident of Southgate
on Jul 18, 2017 at 9:38 pm

Sounds like the attitude the district is hoping for. Let's all put on a happy face and pretend everything is wonderful.

Again. Please feel free to stop on by and we can discuss in person. I wouldn't call this "hyping". It's simply calling attention to the negligence of the administration. An administration that will still be there when school starts up again.

The students deserve better.

Don't feel like going back and forth online. So, please contact me if you'd like to have a conversation.

16 people like this
Posted by A Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2017 at 1:04 am

Keith Farrell
How do I get in touch with you? I have read your posts and would like to share some things, and I speak for several families.

Sorry to see you getting attacked by the coverup crowd who think problems magically solve themselves when they get swept under the carpet. I appreciate the intelligent way you stand up to that.

Per the poster above, ktvu recently posted data on complaints, and there have been way more here thana the comparison districts including larger ones. The problem here is that denial and coverup create a backlog of problems. And more of them as problems don't get solved. We have already tried ignore the past and hope it will go away. Time to learn from mistakes, and the only way to do that is face them honestly.

16 people like this
Posted by Way to go Keith
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 19, 2017 at 1:44 am

I agree with you. Pretending everything is great when it's not creates problems. And then we say the students have mental health issues. I wonder why? I admire you for standing up for our youth. Clearly you are annoying some people who like to play pretend. Good for you!

16 people like this
Posted by Paly Dad
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 19, 2017 at 8:09 am

"The more you ... share your moral outrage with us, the more you hold us back."

I've never understood this type of thinking, which seems common among some folks in Palo Alto. Maybe it is a defense mechanism to deal with problems they don't feel comfortable facing (or doing anything about). Maybe it is just confusion.

There's a lot of culture change that needs to happen in our schools, esp. among the staff. They are under-trained and have been misled by their own managers and past boards. They care deeply about students, but don't know how to follow the rules and laws (in many cases, they literally don't know what the rules are). And they are worried, rightfully, about messing up; the scandals create a bunker mentality at the school, which can lead to move cover-ups.

Change won't come without persistent focus from the top - looking at you, Board and Superintendent - and that won't happen without "moral outrage" persistently applied by the community. Keep in mind - the most recent scandal happened AT THE SAME TIME WE WERE SETTLING THE LAST BATCH WITH THE OCR. If we couldn't follow the rules then (and we didn't) we are a long ways from being able to "move ahead" with dealing with sexual assault.

5 people like this
Posted by @Keith Ferrell
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jul 19, 2017 at 10:20 am

@Keith Ferrell

Your above censored comments can be found (before being censored) on the page I dedicated on my blog to the ongoing censoring. I copy and then post comments before and after they are censored here (only a tiny sampling) here:
Web Link (or search for: village fool palo alto before and after).

BTW - I posted the following questions on 5/18/2014:
"... The following is a partial list of questions I asked myself, particularly in light of the recently published allegations around the prior principal’s actions and his subsequent demotion. I do hope that these questions were properly considered:
1. Was Ms. Diorio aware of the sexual harassment allegations that were investigated by PAUSD officials before those became a cause for PAUSD official’s investigation?
1.1 – If Ms. Diorio was aware of the allegations:
1.1.1 Where did she take the info?
1.1.2 – If she was aware, and did not forward the info, why didn’t she? (Was it because she was afraid of retaliation?)
1.2 If Ms. Diorio was not aware of the allegations –
1.2.1 Was she approachable to the woman who felt harassed?
1.2.2 How come she was not aware?

2. Streaking, campus culture etc. sampling –
2.1 Did Ms. Diorio think that a clothes-optional school is a blessing to this community?
2.2 If she did not approve of the streaking occurrences, where did she take her concerns before she was promoted? What did she do about her concerns?
Basically, if any of the allegations published about the prior principal are correct, did Ms. Diorio roam around campus with her eyes/ears/mouth closed? And if so, why?..."

Above copied from my blog link: Web Link (or search for: village fool palo alto cleanup Hercules)

I hope you will see this comment, it will vanish soon.

\/ill/\ge foool

8 people like this
Posted by Keith Ferrell
a resident of Southgate
on Jul 19, 2017 at 11:28 am

@a parent - Feel free to email me at

I don't see it as anyone attacking me. Some people don't want to think that these things are happening at their school and being ignored by people they thought were looking out for the students instead of themselves.

16 people like this
Posted by BP
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 21, 2017 at 12:27 am

Change in culture???? When you talk about changing culture, you are talking about changing the leadership at the highest levels.

So Board President, Why is McGee still here next year? Why is Diorio still here next year? You have the power to make culture changes immediately. Stop talking, let's see real action, and not some 5 year re-training program for school employees.

3 people like this
Posted by PAUSD parent 1
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 22, 2017 at 7:54 am

The community cannot move on with this. Damage was made, it is not acceptable to move on with the lack of accountability. Accountability is missing from board members all the way to staffs.

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

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