Mobile/Tablet Menu

Desktop Menu

Search Container

Superintendent's Update - October 15, 2021


The agenda calendar is tentative until posted the Friday before each meeting. The calendar can be found HERE.


Many parents are aware of a disturbing "challenge" on TikTok. For those unfamiliar, TikTok is a social media tool widely used by school-aged people recording short videos. Recently, students across the country have been encouraged to take part in "challenges" that are completely inappropriate called, "Devious Licks." A recent calendar of challenges has been published for users that includes activities clearly violating the rights of others. Some examples include degrees of sexual assault, vandalism of school facilities, graffiti of neighbors property, and other illegal activities. We would encourage families to actively discuss this topic with their children. PAUSD will treat these activities as the dangerous, illegal, and improper actions they are.


Over 700 new laws were approved recently. CSBA provided quick summaries of education laws that may be of interest. PAUSD is a CSBA member.

Assembly Bill 101 (Medina, D-Riverside): Will require local educational agencies serving grades 9-12 to offer at least a one-semester course in ethnic studies commencing with the 2024-25 school year and add a semester-long ethnic studies course to the statewide graduation requirement, commencing with the 2029-30 school year. Signed into law on Oct. 8.

AB 361 (Robert Rivas, D-Salinas): An urgency measure that continues the authority granted during the COVID-19 crisis and allow local agencies, including school boards, to meet remotely during a declared state of emergency. Signed into law on Sept. 16.

AB 438 (Reyes, D-San Bernardino): Eliminates the existing 60-day layoff notice requirements for classified staff and instead requires school districts to issue classified staff layoff notices by March 15, which is the same layoff notice date afforded to certificated employees. Also provides that any future layoff notice or hearing rights granted to certificated staff in future years would automatically extend to classified staff. Signed into law on Oct. 8.

AB 815 (Luz Rivas, D-San Fernando Valley): Authorizes the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) to approve a clear credential program offered by an LEA for school nursing; and requires the CTC to apply the standards for approval of a program of professional preparation offered by a postsecondary educational institution to a program of professional preparation offered by an LEA. Signed into law on Oct. 8.

AB 824 (Bennett, D-Santa Barbara): Establishes a process for county boards of education and charter schools to appoint one or more high school pupils as student members of their governing bodies in response to a student petition. Signed into law on Oct. 8.

Senate Bill 4 (Gonzalez, D-Long Beach)/AB 14 (Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters): Continues the ongoing collection of funds deposited into the California Advanced Services fund to provide communities with grants to expand broadband access. Signed into law on Oct. 8.

SB 14 (Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge): Requires mental or behavioral health-related absences to count as an excused absence for school attendance reporting and requires the California Department of Education to recommend best practices and identify evidence-based and evidence-informed training programs for schools to address youth behavioral health, including staff and student training, by Jan. 1, 2023. Signed into law on Oct. 8.

SB 270 (Durazo, D-Los Angeles): Beginning in July 1, 2022, will permit an exclusive labor representative to file an unfair labor practice with the Public Employment Relations Board if a public agency fails to provide employee contact information within 30-days of a request for that information, limit the public employer's ability to cure the alleged violation, and permit a penalty of up to $10,000 and provides a right to attorney's fees to the prevailing party.

SB 488 (Rubio, D-Baldwin Park): Effectively replaces the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment by July 1, 2025, by requiring the CTC to integrate updated reading assessments into the existing Teaching Performance Assessment. Signed into law on Oct. 8.


This year TK-5 teachers across the District will be piloting three elementary science curricula for final adoption in the spring of 2022. On September 23, the Science Pilot and Adoption Committee comprised of TK-5 teachers, specialists, parent representatives, and administrators met to prepare for the piloting process and plan implementation of the first curriculum. That curriculum is CA Inspire published by McGraw-Hill, and is now being piloted in grades TK-5 by committee teachers. The committee will then move on to pilot two other curricula, Next Generation Science by National Geographic and Twig Science by Twig Education.

The team will meet again on Nov 4, 2021, when National Geographic will present their program to the committee in the morning and teachers will be planning the pilot lessons for review in the afternoon.

Community members are welcome to come to the District Office to view the current curriculum being piloted by the committee. A QR code with a link to a feedback form will be available at the curriculum table in the hallway of the District Office for anyone wishing to provide feedback to the committee.


Professional Learning Day for elementary educators focused on implementing Phonemic Awareness and phonics using the Orton-Gillingham Methodology in our TK and Young Fives classrooms and refining the use of the Benchmark Assessment System (BAS) grades K-5. Similar to teaching our students, professional learning needs to be differentiated for adults. Early Childhood Principal, Shannon Coleman, led the teachers of our youngest learners, at Barron Park, Duveneck, Greendell, and Palo Verde schools, in training around teaching foundational skills that are essential to becoming literate. Fountas and Pinnell Staff Developers led grade-level sessions, allowing teachers from across the 12 elementary school sites. From TK to 5th grade, this model facilitated teacher collaboration, sharing their expertise, and learning together.

As educators, we continue to grow our practice and create lessons that match the needs of our students. Part of the training included using the BAS as a formative assessment. Thoughtful practitioners approached the experience as though it was novel, with curiosity. They pushed themselves beyond the current limits of their understanding. They found new ways to think differently during the workshop, similar to the joy one finds when rereading a familiar book. For teachers new to the BAS, the training was an opportunity to get acquainted with the reading assessment tool. The BAS provides teachers with lessons that address the varied skills students need to become proficient readers of fiction and non-fiction text.

This wordle is a visual summary of teacher reflections from Professional Learning Day.


On October 1, Governor Newsom announced changes to school vaccination requirements. The District has met with our partners to discuss and release a joint update. Please review this letter from the District, Palo Alto Management Association, Palo Alto Educators Association, California School Employees Association #301, and Palo Alto Council of PTAs.


The PAUSD Board of Education seeks applicants for appointment to a 10-member, independent, volunteer committee. The committee reviews and report to the public on the District's parcel tax expenditures. Applicants must reside within the Palo Alto Unified School District. An applicant may not be an employee, contractor, consultant, or vendor of the District. The successful applicants will serve a term from the date of appointment through December 31, 2027.

The purpose of the CPTOC is to advise the Board on the expenditures funded by Measure O in order to help ensure that said funds are spent for the purposes approved by the voters. The committee will monitor the expenditures of these funds by the District and will report on an annual basis to the Board and community on how these funds have been spent.

Application forms can be obtained and submitted by emailing Beti Loomis, or by writing to:

Carolyn Chow, Chief Business Officer
Palo Alto Unified School District
25 Churchill Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94306

You can also obtain more information by calling 650-329-3980. All applications must be received no later than 4:30 p.m. on Friday, November 19, 2021.