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Skelly posts local official's letter re Duveneck OCR bullying case

Original post made by Curious, Fairmeadow, on May 18, 2013

Superintendent Kevin Skelly Friday posted a letter to the PAUSD website from a Palo Alto city official that describes the OCR bullying complaint at Duveneck Elementary School as "blown up out of proportion." See Web Link

Claude Ezran, a member of Palo Alto's Human Relations Commission, and his wife sent the letter to Skelly on May 12. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

The post follows OCR's warning to Skelly that an email from the Duveneck principal to parents threatened the victim's privacy rights. OCR admonished Skelly to ensure that PAUSD treat the Duveneck case with the seriousness appropriate to potential violations of federal civil rights law, and reminded  Skelly that retaliation against the complainant would itself violate federal law. See
Web Link
According to the Ezran email, the couple has no children at Duveneck school.

Ezran's email is one of several praising the Superintendent included in his weekly memo to the school board. The memo also looks forward to Skelly's day-long annual performance review by the board, scheduled for next month.

Comments (8)

Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on May 18, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Public communications on the case is exactly what OCR warned Skelly against. Why is he using our district website to cast aspersions on the complaint? Doesn't he understand that this just makes it harder to claim that the district is dealing fairly and objectively with these issues? And obviously giving people a lesson in what happens when you bring an OCR complaint?

Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on May 18, 2013 at 1:36 pm

So to clarify this misleading post - the poster refers to one sentence on page 7 of a 28 page weekly update to the board. The memo includes a number of emails and memos on various topics, including the email mentioned, which has a single, throw-away sentence that merely states the email writer's (Mr. Ezran's wife, not Mr. Ezran) opinion about the story she read in the paper.

And please note that this memo is "posted to the PAUSD website" only because last year others made an issue of the superintendent's weekly board update not being publicly available; so now they put it on the website every week.

The poster seems to be trying to make something out of [portion removed due to reference to previously removed item] -- the "post followed a warning ... that an email threatened victim's privacy rights" (a toss-away line from a parent who seems to have no direct info on the matter doesn't seem likely to compromise anyone's privacy). Really? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on May 18, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Actually, the letter says "my husband Claude Ezran and I" and expresses the opinion about Duveneck that "we believe" etc. Why are you trying to deny that the letter is from Ezran?
Skelly clearly knows that the memo is posted to the Web, since he does it once a week. The story does a good job of capturing what is actually going on.

Posted by Jls mom of 2
a resident of JLS Middle School
on May 18, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Jls mom of 2 is a registered user.

Fred, why is that line a "throwaway." Can you define " throwaway" I mean if I got a piece of such transparently calculated flattery I would probably throw the whole thing away not send it to my boss and put it on the web. But that line seems like the only non- throw away substantive sentence in an otherwise vapid missive.

I think Kevin Skelly was trying to use Ezran's status as an HRC member to try to erode the credibility of the OCR and the victim but only ended up eroding that of the Ezrans. Seems appropriate.

Editor I think Curious is turning out to be quite the cub reporter.

Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on May 18, 2013 at 5:03 pm

village fool is a registered user.

@Curious - Please, continue. I hope you will not be discouraged by the early lock of this thread. I am very curious to know what was removed from your initial post. I happened to read recently several posts prior to be removed, I must admit that I do not understand.
As to specific emails discussed above, mentioned in the link you provided - anyone has the right to email/write/stand in board meeting expressing personal opinion. I am assuming that publishing this email support was approved by the sender. You did mention in a previous thread that the $150K PR position was put on hold. Maybe, PR consultants, or just friends, are proving advice at no cost, and the recent publications are result of that advice? Nothing wrong with using no cost advice of course. PAUSD was able to use McKinsey's consulting at no cost prior, advising as to the strategic plan.
Unfortunately, it is pretty clear that not everyone feel comfortable to express their opinions, especially if those opinions are not popular with the school or district officials, and personal kids happen to attend PAUSD.

Posted by Peggy Duncan
a resident of Community Center
on May 18, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Peggy Duncan is a registered user.

I don't know what the editor removed, unfortunately. I am struck however by the poor judgment showed by Mr. Skelly in including this statement in a message sent to the school board and posted to the Internet.
More concerning to me is the overall picture of the relation between Mr. Skelly and the school board that is indicated by these communications and others in the series of weekly memos (I found them at Web Link
These memos are almost entirely devoid of substance. Mr. Skelly seems to assume that the school board is uninterested in details of policy, governance, or substance. Instead, these memos consist of chatty reports of visits with students and letters praising Mr. Skelly or Mr. Skelly praising others. In most of them the only substance seems to be pictures of construction projects.
Perhaps since these weekly memos are released to the public Mr. Skelly includes no actual content in them. But if they are an accurate picture, the school board is quite divorced from the substance of education. Rather, they are concerned with social trifles. That unfortunately makes some sense of what has seemed a very passive stance in reaction to the various issues confronting the school district.

Posted by PalyDad
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 19, 2013 at 11:23 am

PalyDad is a registered user.

The Ezran email has the subject line: "RE: Superintendent's Message: The Palo Alto Community At Its Best." That means it was responding to Skelly's May 10 Superintendent's Message entitled "The Palo Alto Community At Its Best," which I got in my email too, and which you can read at: Web Link

The email from Dr. Skelly said that he is having "days where I struggle to find much that is positive" so Skelly was kind of inviting this kind of email praising him. Ezran just took the opportunity to flatter and praise Skelly (partly by saying that the Duveneck school bullying case was overblown" in a sad effort to curry favor with Skelly for his PAUSD child:

"We still have a third daughter at Paly so we will stay in touch."

But maybe not by email next time.

Posted by jls mom of 2
a resident of JLS Middle School
on May 19, 2013 at 5:47 pm

jls mom of 2 is a registered user.

@palydad, it's more than mere flattery (which apparently can get you somewhere after all) because according to the Weekly at least one of Ezran's children did attend Duveneck, though several years ago. Ezran appears to be trying to sidle up to Skelly by retailing community gossip about the Duveneck OCR case.

Web Link

Skelly for his part was happy to publicize to the board and community that a public official on the HRC who is from the Duveneck community thinks that the disability-based bullying complaint is being "blown up out of proportion." I think that's just terrible.

I have a feeling that Ezran agreed to have that email sent to the board and posted tot the web ahead of time. What better way to have the Superintendent feel a bit indebted to you than to supply him with a public attack on the OCR complaint right before his performance evaluation.

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