August 16, 2019

Office of the Superintendent 


Initial feedback from the PAUSD Promise has been exceedingly positive. People are able to follow the “plain speak” format and appreciate the tie to metrics and finances. The plan was shared and deconstructed at each site on the first day back with principals. We should expect better alignment between the sites and the central office this year.


I had the opportunity to sit with staff from the Palo Alto Weekly earlier today to discuss PAUSD.  We covered several topics including the PAUSD Promise, Cubberley development, Cubberley lease agreement, Special Education, and the process used to create our direction. It was an enjoyable experience and will post on their website sometime this afternoon.

Education Services


Between 100 and 120 secondary teachers and administrators attended each day of PA-YOU!-SD, an annual professional learning event held in early June. This conference focused primarily on two aspects of the PAUSD Promise: High-Quality Teaching & Learning and Equity & Excellence. PAUSD welcomed international leaders in grading and assessment practices to inspire and set the stage for reflection and dialogue. On the conference’s first day, Tom Schimmer addressed grading, student accountability, and developing rubrics and scales. Cassandra Erkens’ presentations centered on assessment design, collaborative common assessments, and feedback. Nicole Dimich-Vagle shared her work on assessment design, analyzing student work, and student investment. Ms. Erkens returned on the conference’s second day to delve into engineering engaging conversations, making homework count, and assessment design. Myron Dueck centered the final day’s work around the cohesion between grading, assessment, and reporting, modernization of assessment techniques, as well as the mixed messages given between current instruction and assessment practices. Surveys indicated that educators overwhelmingly appreciated the opportunity to join these forward-thinking and thoughtful authors/speakers in reflection and analysis of assessment practices.


New secondary teachers started off the year with two days of orientation at the District Office on August 1 and 2. The first day’s sessions included, “Relationships for Success,” a workshop facilitated by PAUSD Secondary Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs) that focused on integrating teachers into their new departments, schools, and the larger Palo Alto community. The Assistant Superintendent, Secondary Education, presented, “Learning Targets and Common Assessments,” a course that emphasized how to create, implement, and assess learning targets in the secondary classroom. The second day was devoted to technology, and included a session titled, “Tech in PAUSD,” and another session titled, “Tech Integration of Alignment Goal with Schoology,” led by the Coordinator of Educational Technology & Libraries.

The week of August 29, the Elementary TOSAs worked with the 23 newly hired elementary school teachers. Two full days were dedicated to the introduction of PAUSD’s Literacy, Mathematics, Science and Social Science curriculum. Teachers were given the opportunity to explore additional resources located on BOB, PAUSD’s staff intranet. In addition to the curriculum and assessment overviews, the teachers participated in Responsive Classroom protocols that help build and foster a classroom community from Day 1. The Elementary TOSAs will continue to support these new teachers in the coming weeks.


Secondary Instructional Leaders, Department Leads, and administrative teams met for an all-day retreat on August 6. The theme for the day, Being the ‘L’ in ‘IL’, provided an opportunity for leaders to discuss leadership goals related to the PAUSD Promise. School-based and subject area groups spent time unpacking the components of these important documents. Members also used design-thinking to analyze Orgametric’s survey data to inform leadership work. Attendees took inspiration from Dr. Anthony Muhammad’s work on nuanced and essential communication skills for transformational school and District leaders.


The Department of Academic Supports ran an early childhood family reading program at Barron Park Elementary School for 10 families from Buena Vista Mobile Home Park from June 4 - July 23. Each day from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., children between ages of 2 and 4 years participated in the program. This program supports families in exploring stories from around the world building a strong foundation in literacy and creating a family book. Another workshop will take place in the fall.


Summer Programs for First-Generation students were very successful. Junior RISE UP supported 22 rising seniors in getting started on their college applications. The students will receive coaching support from a PAUSD English teacher throughout the year for their various college essays. Additionally, RISE UP served 15 students in their transition to a four-year university. We are very thankful for a generous donation of new laptops from nexTier in North Carolina, which enabled students to start college better prepared. 


Dr. Mary Ehrenworth, Senior Deputy Director of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP), met with elementary principals on July 24, to study PAUSD’s reading data. Dr. Ehrenworth began by expressing that, overall, our California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) reading data is impressive.

Ehrenworth also stressed the importance of reading volume, habits, and stamina in determining student success. In order to ensure all students are successful, she encourages a greater awareness of increasing our students’ reading volume. Therefore, reading outside of the classroom is vital! Researchers Beers & Probst found that reading just ten extra minutes outside of the classroom makes a huge difference in every subject.  

In order to read at this high volume, Ehrenworth expressed the need for robust classroom libraries, where all children need to have titles of interest at their reading level. Therefore, schools need to ensure books in classroom libraries remain current, housing selections that foster student reading engagement. 


We are excited to introduce the new Secondary Special Education team. Each member is either new to the District or to the role they are serving this year. The new Director of Secondary Special Education is Cynthia Loleng-Perez. Ms. Perez comes to PAUSD with 31 years of experience as a special education teacher, principal, compliance officer, and director. Her varied background provides her with extensive knowledge about special education programs, compliance, and laws. She has developed and implemented programs regarding co-teaching, therapeutic services, community-based instruction, and job development for adult students. We are excited to have her bring her expertise to PAUSD.

Also joining the team, in the role of Coordinator, is Robert Whalen. Mr. Whalen brings 17 years of experience as a school psychologist and an additional seven years of administrative experience to his new role in PAUSD. He was also a Marriage and Family Therapist for many years. Mr. Whalen has extensive knowledge about supporting students with mental health needs and various disabilities, as well as special education laws, policies, and procedures. 

Jacqueline Selfridge, Program Specialist, rounds out the secondary team. Ms. Selfridge has been with PAUSD for five years and is very familiar with the District. As an Education Specialist at the high school, she embraced the co-teaching initiative, practicing and implementing it with fidelity. 


The California Department of Education (CDE) annually reviews and identifies school districts having disproportionate representation of student subgroups in special education. There are a number of indicators reviewed and evaluated using a calculation methodology outlined in the state’s Annual Performance Review document. During the CDE’s 2017-18 Disproportionality Review, PAUSD was found to be non-compliant in the following areas: African-American students under Specific Learning Disability, Hispanic students under Specific Learning Disability, African-American students under Any Discipline, and African-American students with less than 10 Days Out of School. 

The interventions and strategies submitted, and accepted, include training staff regarding eligibility procedures – especially for students who are identified as English Learners (ELs) – review discipline procedures with site administration and staff, and work collaboratively with the English Language Learner Department to determine appropriate supports for students who are identified as ELs prior to a special education evaluation being conducted. Federal law requires districts to demonstrate continued compliance through follow-up review until 100% compliance is attained.

The 2018-19 review is currently being conducted and will likely result in a disproportionality finding, resulting in PAUSD being deemed significantly disproportionate as a result of three consecutive disproportionate years. With this finding, the CDE mandates that the District use 15% of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds to develop early intervening services to specifically help support Hispanic and African-American students.


The SPED Department reviewed and renewed their commitment to the PAUSD Promise at the Special Education Retreat, held July 29, at the Foster City Community Center. The day-long event provided a forum for team building, and focused sessions to align SPED initiatives with the PAUSD Promise.

The Special Education Summer Institute, held on August 5 and 6, marked a strong start toward promoting equity, with collaboration at the forefront. The event was well attended by both general education and special education staff, certificated and classified personnel, and school site administrators. Various perspectives were unveiled as participants engaged in meaningful, student-centered professional learning experiences and productive conversations to fuel their school year.

Participants shared that they are “excited about the continued collaboration with special education” and “look forward to their school site administrators accessing the special education staff as a valuable resource.”

The first day of school was also an exciting time as we welcomed our students and new team members in style. Each elementary site was visited by a ‘superhero’ elementary SPED District team member. Students were eager to be in class and teachers look forward to a productive and exciting year. With collaboration as a keyword for the year, the SPED team is excited to grow alongside general educators in building students’ capacity by empowering the school sites.

On August 10, the Visually Impaired Program (VIP) once again hosted the annual Ice Cream Social at Barron Park Elementary School. The goal of the event was for students and families to meet and welcome new staff members, David Weller, Orientation and Mobility Specialist, and Paul Lazazzera, Specialist for the Visually impaired. The VIP team facilitated networking opportunities for parents. We look forward to more avenues to promote parent engagement for all students.

Department of Equity and Student Affairs


The Office of Equity and Student Affairs was formed to place intentional focus on the work needed to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to succeed in school and beyond. We are excited to continue our efforts to raise achievement for all students, especially for our historically underrepresented  groups. The 2019-20 activities outlined in the PAUSD Promise focus on identifying and providing systematic help to students who fall behind, address disparate outcomes, increase connection and engagement of both students and families, strengthen links between school and home, and help parents help their children in school. We are excited to introduce the leadership team and the strategic design for equitable access, opportunity, and outcomes.

Dept. of Equity and Student Affairs

Business Services


Student Nutrition Services hosted the Annual Tasting Day on Wednesday, August 6, in the JLS Cafetorium for all students, staff, parents, and interested community members. Our goal was to give students and parents the opportunity to have a voice and input into the new entrées and à la carte items we would be serving this school year. We also solicited feedback and any additional suggestions via a short survey conducted at the event. The BBQ Teriyaki Chicken was voted the favorite and most flavorful item at the event. Thank you to all who attended and participated in the event.

Food tasting at JLSFood Services Team


The Paly Science Building Expansion project started this summer funded by both Measure A and Measure Z money. There has been selective demolition of the existing building and the roof and openings were sealed to make sure the classrooms were functional during the fall semester. There has also been some demolition of concrete sidewalks and asphalt paving. The contractor has started excavating the soil to build the building pad; the excavation for footings will follow. Left to right in photo are Jun Zhao and Rishi Tupe with fs3Hodges, Philip Edholm with Beals Martin, and Brandon Kosai with Cornerstone Earth Group.

Construction Team for Paly Science Bldg

Technology Department


A special thanks to the 6,600+ parents that claimed their parent account when completing the Annual Data Update process. While Infinite Campus is currently the first and only application available to parents through the single sign on portal, Schoology and others will be added soon.


Great question! The parent account can also be used with the PAUSD wireless network, which will remove the need to register as a guest when using WiFi at any of our schools or locations.


In response to an increase in spam and phishing attacks over the past years, our team migrated to a new email filter in early June. As with any content filtering change, there will be an adjustment period when some messages might be incorrectly quarantined. Each staff member will receive a daily quarantine notification message if any items have been quarantined with a single click to deliver a message or whitelist a particular sender.

The new filter provides greater visibility and control into the legitimacy of email messages sent to addresses. We encourage all individuals and companies who do business with us to ensure their email systems follow industry standard practices such as SPFDKIM, and DMARC to ensure emails are properly delivered. For outside senders that are getting messages blocked by our filter, please contact us via Let’s Talk!.