May 10, 2019

Superintendent’s Office


As part of our alignment work through Orgametrics, Pedro Noguera worked with our leadership team this week. Per the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies:

Pedro Noguera is a Distinguished Professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. His research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions, as well as by demographic trends in local, regional, and global contexts. He is the author of 12 books (his most recent book is Race, Equity, and Education: Sixty Years from Brown. New York: Springer Press), and he has published over 200 articles and monographs. He serves on the boards of numerous national and local organizations, including the Economic Policy Institute, the Broader, Bolder Approach and The Nation Magazine.

Noguera appears as a regular commentator on educational issues on several national media outlets, and his editorials on educational issues have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Dallas Morning News, and Huffington Post. Prior to joining the faculty at UCLA, he served as a tenured professor and holder of endowed chairs at New York University (2003-2015), Harvard University (2000-2003), and the University of California, Berkeley (1990-2000). From 2009-2012, he served as a Trustee for the State University of New York (SUNY) as an appointee of the Governor. In 2014, he was elected to the National Academy of Education. Noguera recently received awards from the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, from the National Association of Secondary Principals, and from the McSilver Institute at NYU for his research and advocacy efforts aimed at fighting poverty.


The following items will appear on the May 14 Board agenda:

  • Dual enrollment MOU between PAUSD and Foothill College
  • History/Social Studies textbooks for high schools
  • PAUSD Promise – Wellness and Safety
  • Palo Alto Educators Association (PAEA) and Palo Alto Management Association (PAMA) agreements (Action)
  • California School Employees Association (CSEA) agreement (Discussion)
  • Homework update
  • Stanford School Funding and Mitigation

Education Services


Assembly Bill 1719, passed in September 2016, amended the Education Code to include Section 51225.6, which requires school districts that require a course in health education for graduation from high school to include instruction in performing compression-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). This amendment became effective with the 2018-19 school year, in accordance with national, evidence-based, emergency cardiovascular care guidelines, such as those developed by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross. While PAUSD’s high school Living Skills course is not a pure health education course, components of the course provide health education. Plans are underway to ensure that all seniors who have taken Living Skills this school year receive the newly required compression-only CPR instruction prior to graduation. 


The final Reading Specialist meeting for 2018-19 was held on May 8. The specialists continued their work around dyslexia screening protocols and highlighted the importance of early intervention. Finally, potential goals and objectives were set for the 2019-20 school year. In August, they will meet to continue their collaboration, training, and support of students.


After carefully considering feedback from textbook Pilots 1 and 2, the Middle School Science Advisory Committee voted to pilot Amplify Science and HMH Science Dimensions in the fall 2019 semester. They identified key strengths and unique approaches to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) from each publisher, and look forward to seeing how the materials are received by the students, the teachers, and the community. These materials will be on display at each middle school site and the District Office starting in August.


Biology, chemistry, and physics high school teachers are implementing substantial shifts to reflect the curricular and pedagogical changes outlined in the NGSS. The two high schools have worked together to identify which of the core classes will integrate each Earth and Space Science concept as they move into the Three Course Model for NGSS. The next phase of work translates science concepts, practices, and performance expectations into a coherent storyline approach to instructional units. New approaches to assessment and performance tasks are also utilized.

Five teachers attended a one-week institute in May led by nationally-known science educator Jody Bintz from Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS). This core group of teacher leaders will now work with the Science Steering Committee to lead their respective teams in the intensive process to design NGSS instruction for PAUSD. The Five Tools and Processes training is a professional learning experience for educators developed by the American Museum of Natural History, BSCS Science, and WestEd.


The California Department of Education’s (CDE) Board of Education adopted the California Computer Science Strategic Implementation Plan (CSSIP) on Wednesday, May 8, 2019. The development of the CSSIP was a multi-step process that involved educators, content experts, and other stakeholders over the course of more than a year. The implementation will require many years and a sustained investment of millions of dollars for educator professional learning, infrastructure, materials, and changes to credentialing and teacher preparation in order to develop state and local systems that support equitable access to high quality computer science education for all California students. At this time, no entity is required to implement any of the strategies or activities included in the CSSIP. However, PAUSD recognizes the importance of computer science knowledge and skills in the lives of our students, and has made significant progress in creating a cohesive and coherent plan for K-12 CS that is consistent with the California CS Standards.

PAUSD has made some amazing progress in our K-12 look at computer science since fall 2015. At the elementary level, we have surveyed our 4th and 5th graders about their experiences with programming. In fall 2019, we will complete a baseline study of our current practices in elementary computer science. Our best thinking for all elementary students is to have unplugged and intensely playful experiences in grades K-2, followed by block-based coding and beginning text-based programming in grades 3-5. Currently, all 6th grade students have an aligned, consistent three-week programming introduction and extension experience with Cue-bots, block programming, and text programming. Additionally, CS- and Math-aligned integrated data units in math courses for 6th-8th grades are being developed for implementation in 2019-20. The high schools continue to offer outstanding CS courses, including the introductory course, AP Computer Science Principles. Additionally, in order to bring CS ideas to all students, the high school math departments will integrate Bootstrap Algebra into the Algebra 1 and 1A courses.

The California implementation plan grapples with the myriad of challenges faced by all public schools. The table of contents in the plan highlight each of the areas of difficulty:

  • Vision, Mission, and Principles of CS in the 21st century;
  • The Importance of Computer Science
  • California’s K-12 Computer Science Standards
  • Equity and Access to CS
  • Supporting Educators to Teach Computer Science
  • Expanding Computer Science Course Offerings

With the CS Standards firmly in place since October 2018, and the CS Strategic Implementation Plan approved by the California Board of Education, California public schools now have the infrastructure to embrace and implement CS in its schools in a consistent and coherent manner.


As part of PAUSD’s ongoing curriculum review and renewal cycle, a Middle School English Literature Selection Advisory Committee is being established. The committee will commence its work by reviewing the CDE’s approved literature list for grades 6, 7 and 8 in the 2019-20 school year. Teachers and staff held an initial organizational meeting this week, during which the committee’s charge and time frame were clarified. Parent and student applications for the committee will be available in August. 


Secondary District Teachers On Special Assignment (TOSAs) facilitated a release day for a group of 8th grade English teachers, representing each of the three middle schools, to create a CWA. The day was spent deciding on a genre, constructing a prompt, choosing source materials, and designing a common rubric. The 8th grade CWA will be administered at each of the sites in February 2020. Similar release days are planned later this month for groups of 6th and 7th grade English teachers.

Strategic Initiatives and Operations


On May 6, the Special Education Division held the final meeting to wrap up the 2018-19 school year. Education specialists and related service providers completed a “Success Wall” to highlight some of the amazing accomplishments of our students with disabilities. The successes are testimony to the hard work of our parents and staff. Some highlights were:

  • A student learned to navigate grocery stores independently.
  • An 8th grader dressed for P.E. and ran a mile for the first time in three years.
  • A student in residential placement with significant learning and socio-emotional needs graduated high school and will be going to college.
  • A shy/anxious 5th grader attended his own transition Individualized Education Program (IEP).
  • Teacher worked with behavior team at Fletcher and reduced student behaviors dramatically.
  • Inclusion program successfully expanded across Greendell campus.
  • An 8th grader advocated for his state testing accommodations by asking to test with his general education class.
  • A Pre-K to Kinder worked on potty training this year and is now functioning independently without diapers.
  • A student started receiving home-based therapy for the first time, and the parent reports they are calmer and more regulated after session.


Wellness & Support Services partnered with Health Connected to offer our second “Family Talk Workshop” on May 8 at Greene Middle School. Members from 21 families participated in this week’s workshop, which focused on adolescence. Adults and their children discussed family values, brain development, strong emotions, sexuality, sexual behavior, healthy and unhealthy relationships, communication, consent, gender stereotypes, identity and expression, technology, sexting, and the effects of pornography. Many thanks to the Health Connected Parent Engagement Coordinator who integrated lots of talking, laughing, and learning into the experience for our families.


School nurses were honored on Wednesday, May 8, for National School Nurse Day. This year’s theme, “Making the Grade on School Health,” recognizes that school nurses play an integral role in the health of not just students, but the overall schools in which they work. Nurses ensure that our students have the care they need in order to attend school to learn. They also ensure that our staff is trained and supported to respond to students’ health needs. Our District is fortunate to have a team of part-time and full-time health care staff members that work to support our sites. Please take time to recognize and thank the Health Services team which works hard every day to optimize our students’ health and learning, and support staff and families.


A new group of student peer leaders and trusted adults participated in a training on campus on Tuesday, April 23, led by the Sources of Strength Lead Team. Students and staff members worked alongside each other to talk about their own stories of strength and hope, learn more about the Sources of Strength Wheel, and brainstorm ideas about mental health projects for the next school year. Newly trained peer leaders then joined current Sources of Strength peer leaders in a visit to Fletcher Middle School on Wednesday, May 1. Gunn students introduced Sources of Strength to Fletcher’s 8th grade students and facilitated activities that highlighted the importance of noticing changes of concern in a friend and/or peer. Sources of Strength will celebrate the ending to a busy year on Tuesday, May 21, in the new Wellness Center.


On Wednesday, May 8, the College Advisors and Counselors celebrated our First Generation Seniors in a lunch party. While not all students could attend, it was great to have the group together to honor their hard work and success. Paly is very proud of their accomplishments and wishes them the best in college!

Human Resources


The Human Resources department is in full swing during this important hiring season.  Our “You’re AMAZING! Come Work With Us” recruitment fair held in the Peery Center at Palo Alto High School on April 13 was a tremendous success. We are currently screening, interviewing, and hiring applicants who attended our event and the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) recruitment fair, as well as other amazing candidates who have learned about our openings on EdJoin and through other sources.  

This year we have an opportunity to fill openings at every level, including certificated staff, classified staff, assistant principals, principals, lead teachers, director level positions, and also a Chief Business Officer.

In addition to casting a wide external net for the most qualified candidates available for any opening, we also recognize the strengths and contributions of current PAUSD employees. Recognizing talent and building capacity for a strong leadership pipeline from within PAUSD is a strategic focus area. Last month, Ms. Lisa Hickey was approved by the Board of Education to transition from the position of principal of JLS Middle School to the Director of Certificated Human Resources starting July 1. Ms. Hickey was selected from a very strong field of candidates. Ms. Hickey has 21 years of experience in education and is in her third year as principal of JLS. Before coming to JLS, she served for four years as the principal of Juana Briones Elementary School. The Human Resources team is excited to welcome her. We know that her positive impact will be felt throughout the District in her new role.

With the newly created vacancy at JLS, we were fortunate to have a highly qualified internal candidate. Current Duveneck Principal Chris Grierson expressed interest in the JLS principalship. Deputy Superintendent Karen Hendricks met with JLS staff on May 1, and then facilitated a panel of staff members and parent representatives who met with Mr. Grierson on May 3. With the confirmation of that panel, Mr. Grierson has been recommended to serve as the next JLS Principal starting in the 2019-20 school year.  This recommendation will go to the Board of Education for approval on May 14, 2019.

Mr. Grierson has been an educator in PAUSD for 17 years, most recently as principal at Duveneck Elementary since 2011. Prior to being at Duveneck, he was the assistant principal and administrative TOSA at JLS from 2009-2011. He also served as an elementary teacher at Walter Hays, a 6th grade teacher at Jordan Middle School, and taught the 7th and 8th grade Broadcast class when he was at JLS. 

Mr. Grierson already has strong existing relationships with members of the JLS community, and he looks forward to being part of the Panther family again.

With principals Hillary Miller and Chris Grierson both moving into new roles in PAUSD, we have been meeting with parents, staff, and students of Palo Verde and Duveneck elementary schools to gather input on the knowledge, skills, and dispositions each group is looking for in the next principal for their school. Interviews are scheduled for May 15 for those two positions, and will include panels from both elementary school sites.

In addition, we are pleased to be announcing two new assistant principals for Palo Alto High School. Dr. Clarisse Haxton, who has served our Research, Evaluation, and Assessment Department, is excited about her move to the school site. In addition, we are recommending that Wendy Stratton join the administrative team at Paly. She’s coming to us from Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, where she has been an assistant principal since 2014.

Our middle schools will also be bringing in new expertise through our recent hiring of Deans: Ana Reyes (current District TOSA for Educational Services) will be joining the Greene Middle School staff, and Pieter Dolmans is bringing his professional background and skills from Oakland Unified School District to Fletcher Middle School.

Another key selection for our District is that of our incoming Director II Special Education: Secondary Education. Cynthia Perez, joining us from the Santa Clara County Office of Education, will be working in strong partnership with Chief Academic Officer of Secondary Education, Sharon Ofek, to provide oversight of both compliance issues and an exciting learning environment designed for the success of all students.

For our Chief Business Officer recruitment we have posted on multiple platforms, including EdJoin, California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO), LinkedIn, and Indeed. We also did outreach at the recent CASBO conference. The District anticipates conducting interviews for this position during the week of May 20.

We are also pleased to share that we have recruited ten new teachers into PAUSD, as well as a school psychologist. In addition, many excellent temporary employees from the current school year have been offered contracts to return for 2019-20.

The Human Resources-Classified Department, which is used to a year-round cycle of recruiting and hiring, is also finding itself with an increased level of activity with the closing of the current school year and preparations for the next.