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Castilleja requests restraining order against alleged sign vandal

Original post made on Feb 9, 2019

Some supporters and opponents of Castilleja School's proposed expansion have said lawns signs from both sides of the debate have been vandalized and stolen from properties neighboring the campus.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, February 9, 2019, 9:11 AM

Comments (22)

4 people like this
Posted by zap
a resident of another community
on Feb 9, 2019 at 2:56 pm

[Post removed.]

39 people like this
Posted by Long time Palo Altan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2019 at 10:06 am

I am appalled to read about the extensive theft and vandalism occurring on the Castilleja campus. For Mr. Poppy to suggest that Castilleja “is using him to make students believe that opposition to the school's expansion boils down to one person” is absurd. Castilleja is a SCHOOL, and when an opponent of the school with self-admitted “bad judgment” repeatedly trespasses school property to vandalize or steal - let alone steal banners or deface signs off-campus - it is only COMMON SENSE that the administrators would seek to legally stop him for the sake of school safety. Please Mr. Poppy, do not present yourself as a victim here.

34 people like this
Posted by Chuck
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 10, 2019 at 10:17 am

As I read this article, I’m left with the sense that Mr. Poppy thinks that the school’s application to increase enrollment somehow justifies his behavior? That the school’s application to enroll more students somehow justifies his many acts of vandalism and theft? Every day, schools across the country apply to modify their use permits - whether it’s to modernize their campus or increase enrollment or something else entirely - and it is a fair and legal process. As Mr. Ng said in the article, signs are a form of freedom of speech, and there is zero justification for Mr. Poppy’s illegal behavior.

27 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2019 at 10:38 am

This sustained theft and damage taking place on school property is obviously something that school officials must respond to. Honestly, they are leading a school, and cannot look the other way when illegal activity is taking place again and again around school grounds. It would seem that some action needed to be taken to contain and restrict vandalism and damage.

34 people like this
Posted by Castilleja teacher and parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 10, 2019 at 10:50 am

I can assure you, both as a teacher at the school and a parent, that we have not been telling students that the opposition to the CUP application boils down to one man. Last year, some of the girls even took it upon themselves to go and meet the neighbors. All of us -students,parents and employees want to come to a positive resolution.

54 people like this
Posted by Former Casti Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2019 at 11:24 am

The only thing that Mr. Poppy has clearly done is removing the yard signs on March 31. Everything else are allegations, almost all with little to no evidence that Mr. Poppy was indeed the culprit. Is the groundskeeper absolutely certain that the man he saw is Mr. Poppy? Feelings are running high in the neighborhood, and many people oppose Casti's plans. There are many potential culprits, and it's possible that the some of these incidents are unrelated to Casti. (Teenagers on a Friday night). Perhaps the community should avoid a rush to judgment? And, perhaps Casti should avoid the appearance of trying to silence one of its most vocal critics.

70 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 10, 2019 at 12:59 pm

Many people oppose Casti's expansion when they're already over their permitted enrollment cap. Casti has repeatedly claimed that people who oppose this expansion are against education but that's like saying people who oppose sticking a McDonald's in a residential neighborhood are against food.

Remember that Embarcadero is one of the most heavily used streets and one that will become even more clogged if Stanford gets its expansion plans approved.

Maybe Mr. Poppy and Mr. Ng should hire also hire lawyers since they too have had so many signs stolen. To accuse someone based on "similar body type" is hyperbole that borders on slander.

41 people like this
Posted by Melville Ave Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2019 at 4:54 pm

As another neighbor of the school, I still don't understand the claims that Castilleja has any negative impact on our block , and certainly not to our community. The traffic is incredibly well managed, the students are polite, and a lengthy list of concessions to appease the neighbors has been in practice for years. To put stickers around town (including the head of school's front yard!!??) that change the signs to say "White Privilege" is beyond any trace of civility. And can hardly be written off as "bad judgement". The students - whether caucasian or of color - must feel so bullied. Hopefully relief will come when the EIR is out, and adults can gather in the room to discuss the situation like decent human beings.

22 people like this
Posted by Fairmeadow
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 10, 2019 at 5:06 pm

Mr. Ng’s ridiculous monitoring of his signs shows the profound misplacement of priorities on petty issues rather than amplifying Casti’s Excellence with another generation.

33 people like this
Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 10, 2019 at 7:20 pm

YP is a registered user.

As a sideline observer with no skin in the game, seriously how long has this soap opera gone on? can't we make a decision after all these years about Casti expansion, it's really getting old....

18 people like this
Posted by Casti parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 11, 2019 at 10:56 am

It is really sad and depressing to hear that a grown man is acting like this especially considering that this a school for girls and women. Mr. poppy also posts aggressive and negative comments on Next Door. I hope he can change and learn to fight for his causes in a mature and productive way.

32 people like this
Posted by Enough Already
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 11, 2019 at 11:13 am

I am so disturbed by all of this. Mr Poppy was clearly in the wrong as everyone is entitled to free speech, even if it is something that will most likely destroy his neighborhood quality of life and decrease the value of his home. But enough already with the most SHAMELESS signs ever created- who doesn't support women's education? Castilleja appears impudent for using that slogan. My two daughters are proud Casti graduates from 2005. Casti's mission seems to have changed in the last ten years, acting like it is the best school around and therefore has the right to educate more girls than they have space for. There is something special about being a boutique girls school in the middle of a neighborhood. Keep Casti charming with a high teacher to student ratio. If Castilleja grows, where will the increased staff live? And for goodness sake- pull all those offensive signs as they are making me apologetic to my neighbors who know I have always been a strong supporter of Castilleja.

53 people like this
Posted by I support women's ed, but not Casti's proposal.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 11, 2019 at 11:32 am

I support women's ed, but not Casti's proposal. is a registered user.

I agree with "Enough Already." As a woman who graduated from a women's college, I definitely support women's education, but Casti's signs irk me. The project is simply too big for the location. Let it go.

30 people like this
Posted by get the 2 sides together
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2019 at 11:35 am

Apparently both sides are defacing signs (not acceptable behavior), but most of the accusations against a named person appear to be innuendo. You can sue anyone for anything, and in this case, you can write whatever you want in a restraining order; words like "stalking, assaulting, threatening and intimidating" are unfounded fear-mongering. This is not about signs. It does feel like the school, with deep pockets for PR and legal experts, is pulling out all the stops. It is all a distraction from the real issues. The school has a reputation of playing fast and loose with the facts.

52 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 11, 2019 at 12:15 pm

Annette is a registered user.

I also agree with Enough Already. City Hall, specifically Keane, should have held Castilleja to the terms of its use permit YEARS AGO. Was that a wink and nod agreement? Instead of requiring compliance the school was allowed to function with apparent disregard for the agreed-upon enrollment cap. And now they want more?

The Castilleja problem is a micro-version of the City's overall problem: fit. Think Cinderella. Push and shove as they might, neither of the stepsisters could fit their too-big foot into the offered slipper. Castilleja cannot fit its expansion plans into the neighborhood.

The school offers a great academic program. I sent my daughter there for middle school but might think twice about that now as I watch how the school is conducting itself. Castilleja isn't doing too well in the citizenship category these days. Taking this to the point of getting a restraining order is absurd. That said, all signs should be left alone, including the ridiculous and condescending original "We Support Women's Education" signs. Seriously, who around here doesn't?

27 people like this
Posted by Casti tearing at our community fiber
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 11, 2019 at 1:49 pm

Their selfish insistance at expanding beyond the area's cababilities to handle the increase is obvious and flipping the finger at long time residents who until now, have gotten along just fine with Casti.

They need to SEE waht they are doing. This does not happen without them trying to get around or change the rules and the community is in a uproar.

Casti needs to step back if they want to be seen as a good neighbor. The rules were made for this exact reason but Casti does not want to hear it. They do not care about why the rules were created and they don;t care about it if you want them upheld. They want what Casti wants and that's it.

11 people like this
Posted by Seriously
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2019 at 4:35 pm

Hilarious that everyone is beating up on this small school, while the City Council just eliminated the downtown office development cap and rammed through a new hotel.

Good job, people. [Portion removed.]

Posted by Charlie
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland

on Feb 14, 2019 at 4:38 pm

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9 people like this
Posted by Connie Cavanaugh
a resident of Triple El
on Feb 25, 2019 at 5:15 pm

I have been following the conflicts between Castilleja and the Neighborhood as a Palo Alto resident interested in our future. I am also a long time friend of Jim Poppy. The idea that Jim could be a danger to anyone on the Castilleja campus is beyond ludicrous. It seems his ONLY mistake is moving 5 signs in a moment of frustration. He has apologized and completed community service. This has been blown far far out of proportion. It’s seems Jim’s is the only name Castilleja has. It is also apparent that there is no believable reason to think Jim is accountable for anything else.

1 person likes this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 26, 2019 at 6:54 am

Annette is a registered user.

I do not know Connie Cavanaugh but based on what I have read I agree that there is no reason to think that Mr. Poppy (another person I do not know) is responsible for anything other than what he admitted to doing. It is improbable that a person who admitted to removing 5 signs nearly a year ago AND was cited for petty theft for doing that AND is thus known to the police AND is aware that cameras are being used to surveil the school and at least some homes in the area would turn around and do the same thing and worse. That makes no sense whatsoever.

This community, and the Castilleja neighborhood in particular, is mighty riled up over the school’s expansion plans but I am wondering if the school doth protest too much. What is really going on here? Petty theft is a very far cry from stalking and assault and the other bad conduct listed in the TRO. The school is advancing big claims that demand substantiation, especially since there's no indication that Mr. Poppy has engaged in any such conduct.

Our standards are supposed to be higher than “guilt by accusation or assumption” but more and more it seems we are becoming a society that presumes guilt. This is not good.

6 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2019 at 10:23 am

Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace

>> The school offers a great academic program. I sent my daughter there for middle school but might think twice about that now as I watch how the school is conducting itself.

Once upon a time, I thought that Castilleja seemed to be a good alternative for some girls and their families. That was long before the school embarked on its current "growth at all costs" direction. The fact is, sometimes growth is bad. Many people, such as yourself, attest to the value that the old Castilleja provided. Once upon a time.

>> That said, all signs should be left alone, including the ridiculous and condescending original "We Support Women's Education" signs. Seriously, who around here doesn't?

I agree. Those patronizing signs do a wonderful job of educating people about what Castilleja has become. Leave them up. Let them plant more. When Castilleja finally moves somewhere else so that it can fulfill someone's dreams of ever-increasing grandiosity, no one will miss it.

3 people like this
Posted by Money interests rule
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2019 at 10:31 pm

It looks as though Castilleja, like Stanford. is now in the hands of the money + growth + bigger-at-all-costs developers.
They fight dirty, withhold information, and hire insiders so as to bias negotiations in their favor.

Why else would they have hired Steve Emslie, former Deputy City Manager and former Manager of the city Planning Dept? He is a city insider who knows where to put pressure and where to grease the wheels.

He may no longer be consulting for Casti but it reflects the slipperyness of the school's behavior.
Full speed ahead! There's money to be made here!

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