October 18, 2019

Office of the Superintendent


The following items are still tentative and may shift between this update and final publication:

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

  • Districtwide Systems for Student Success Using Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) Framework (Report)
  • District Alignment to Goals Update (Information)
  • Rail Committee Update (Discussion)
  • District Finance Committee (Information)
  • Presentation by Foothill College President, Thuy Thi Nguyen (Report)
  • CASSY Counselors (Action)
  • Board Bond Advisory Committee (BBAC) (Action)
  • Disciplinary Practices and Student Outcomes (Discussion)
  • Science Instructional Materials Recommendation Update (Discussion)
  • Bell Schedules/Later Start Time/Common Schedules (Information)
  • Preliminary Information - First Quarter D/F Report (Information)

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 

  • First Interim Report (Report)
  • Work-Force Analysis (Report)
  • Blended Learning (Report)
  • Local Assessments – Elementary Literacy (Report)
  • Individualized Education Program (IEP) Goal Writing Tool (Report)
  • Title IX Student Presentations (Report)
  • Elementary and Secondary Dyslexia Update (Report)
  • Parcel Tax Polling Results (Report)
  • Measure Z Construction Update (Discussion)
  • Authorization to Bid Network Refresh (Discussion)


From October 17 – January 9, PAUSD educators and staff will have an opportunity to engage in critical and courageous conversations about the role that race plays in our schools. This series is an exploration of the book, White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo. According to DiAngelo, our belief system can significantly impact how we approach teaching and learning. Therefore, in a school system in which the teaching population remains primarily White and the student population continues to become more racially diverse, it is necessary for educators and staff to develop the skills to engage in conversations about racial bias and its underpinnings.

The Equity by Design Professional Learning Series centers PAUSD educators and staff in the conversation about the underlying causes of disparate outcomes for students of color and to a certain extent, students of low socioeconomic status. This learning series is not designed to discuss racism as we have come to know the term. In fact, it is to develop a whole new understanding of the concept of "modern racism" and identify strategies and opportunities to remove barriers that continue to perpetuate disparate outcomes for students of color. The focus of our work will be a culminating project in which participants are asked to address a problem of practice at their sites, in their classrooms, or on a District level.

This series is one of two professional learning opportunities developed to stretch our thinking and challenge our belief systems. Expect to engage in reading and conversation that may be uncomfortable. We are asking educators and staff to embrace the discomfort and use the book to reflect on the reasons for the discomfort. 


PAUSD is pleased to announce Tiyahri Wilson as the new Title IX Investigator and Anne Le as the new Director of Classified Human Resources. Both started their positions this month.

Tiyahri C. Wilson

Tiyahri C. Wilson, Title IX Investigator

Dr. Tiyahri Wilson is new to PAUSD as the Civil Rights & Title IX Investigations Supervisor. She formerly operated campus wide as the Title IX Coordinator in higher education and served the collegiate community through education, prevention, policy, and procedures for the Office of Title IX.

Dr. Wilson provides experience as a mental health professional implementing trauma informed processes and a holistic approach in Title IX protocols and investigative processes. She holds undergraduate degrees in Human Services, A.A., Child and Family Studies, B.S., and graduate degrees in Psychology: Diversity Studies, M.S. and Clinical Psychology: Mental Health Policy & Practice, Ph.d.

Dr. Wilson is Atixa trained and certified as both a Title IX Coordinator/Administrator and Investigator. She will bring an abundance of training, education, experience, and expertise to implement the use of best practices and implementation of regulations and guidance as prescribed by the Department of Education and the Office for Civil Rights for investigations.

Anne Le

Anne Le, Director of Classified Human Resources

Anne Le will serve PAUSD as the Classified Human Resources Director. Anne joined the District in 2014 as a Payroll/Benefits Technician and transitioned up to the Human Resources Secretary/Recruiting Analyst. Prior to PAUSD, Anne worked in retail management for over eighteen years.  

Anne has a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development from the University of California Davis. As a native of Palo Alto, Anne has strong ties to the community and attended Ohlone Elementary School, JLS Middle School, and Palo Alto High School. Anne’s family is also deeply connected to the District as her mother is a retired teacher from Ohlone and her daughter attends Palo Alto High School.  

Anne’s strong experience, passion, and relationships with District staff give her a solid foundation to be successful in this new role.

Education Services


During the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting this week, a question was raised regarding our research-based current literacy program, Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP). A misconception was shared that the program was not research-based, which is clearly not accurate.  For detailed information about the specific research, please visit the Reading and Writing Project website.

Research supports using this curriculum with ALL learners. TCRWP states:

The Reading and Writing Project supports teachers, administrators, and school change agents with professional development, curriculum, and instructional methods. The work of the Reading and Writing Project is informed by research in all of these areas, as well as the more specialized categories of literacy.

For the latest information from TCRWP, please visit their website


The California Department of Education (CDE) has opened a public comment period, through December 1, for the new World Language Framework. All stakeholders (teachers, administrators, parents, and community members) are encouraged to read a portion or chapter and submit feedback. All comments will be considered. To participate in this Public Comment process, please visit the CDE website for World Languages.


The NGSS is based on the National Research Council’s 2011 Framework for K-12 Science Education, and reflects current research on how students best learn science. The NGSS were written for all students, and facilitate students to think of science learning with a broad understanding of integrated and interrelated concepts, called Disciplinary Core Ideas. One shift is illustrated by repeating components used at each grade level. In classrooms, K-12 students use the same eight Science and Engineering Practices, such as, analyzing and interpreting data, or planning and carrying out investigations. Coherence from year to year is further emphasized by the seven Crosscutting Concepts that serve as lenses to view concepts in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth and Space Science, and Engineering. For example, students will focus on flows of energy and matter in ecosystems, and then revisit the same idea with respect to a chemical reaction.

One of the significant shifts for the NGSS is that learning focuses on a holistic understanding of concepts that spiral from year to year, in contrast to previous standards, which emphasized memorization of disconnected facts. Finally, the California NGSS incorporates Environmental Principles and Concepts, which highlights the deep relationship between humans and the natural world.

California was a lead state in this work and adopted the NGSS in 2013. In 2016, after considerable public comment and input, the CDE released the new Science Framework. This Executive Summary of the California Framework offers a concise, yet thorough, review of how the California Framework guides educators and stakeholders on these important changes to science education.


All high school science teachers attended a two-day workshop facilitated by Jody Bintz, Associate Director of Biological Science Curriculum Study (BSCS) Science Learning. The Krause Center for Innovation provided the perfect setting for this deep dive into how to plan for coherent and creative NGSS science units. Ms. Bintz led Day 1 and 2 of the Five Tools and Process for Translating the NGSS into Instruction and Classroom Assessment, co-developed by BSCS, WestEd, and the American Museum of Natural History.

Gunn and Paly teachers worked in cross-school teams to develop an instructional unit blueprint addressing NGSS by integrating performance expectations, disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and connections to the nature of science and Common Core. After the blueprint came together, team conversations shifted to how to plan for three-dimensional assessment and student evidence of learning. Teachers reflected on how NGSS offers powerful tools to address both the achievement gap and culturally responsive teaching. They also saw the importance of teaching with a narrative storyline that is coherent and connected to learning in other grade levels.

On a more personal level, teachers commented on the caliber of their colleagues, and the value of focused time in the Gunn/Paly groups. Ms. Bintz will return in November to guide the group through Tools 3 and 4, in which they apply the 5E Instructional Model to their blueprints.


The Special Education Department continues to work collaboratively with the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to provide training to staff and parents. CAC presented the Dyslexia simulation to the secondary paraeducators group last Friday, with a great turnout and a positive reception. The group is also planning on presenting to the psychologists in November and will participate in the Family Leadership Summit in January.

The department met with the Assistant Director of the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) Education Preparation for Inclusive Classrooms (EPIC) program. EPIC is an accredited Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) Program in Special Education that focuses on inclusion in Moderate/Severe and Early Childhood Education. EPIC is currently offering a grant to assist in tuition fees. If selected to receive a grant, candidates are obligated to work for the respective districts for a total of 4 years after completion of the program. On October 11, during the professional development day, EPIC was invited to present to the secondary paraeducators. There were 20 staff who attended the informational session. This program and partnership are an avenue to recruit special education teachers to fill any current or future open positions.


Members of the Middle School English Literature Selection Advisory Committee held their second meeting of the year on Wednesday, October 16. The Committee reviewed the results of a student literature survey that was given to middle school students across the District in September. The survey garnered 1,833 responses, which means that roughly 68% of all middle schoolers participated. Students were asked for their opinions on current core literature, as well as their wishes for future titles. After discussing the survey results, committee members listened to a presentation by Deborah Ford-Salyer, an Implementation and Training Specialist for TeachingBooks, a digital platform that can be used to make and share book lists. TeachingBooks will be used as an organizational tool and resource this year. Additionally, during the second half of the meeting, committee members continued vetting titles in grade-level reading groups.


The October 11 professional development day was undeniably a great success! The elementary education theme was Powerful Practices 5.0. Over 500 elementary staff members attended 57 choice sessions. The majority of the sessions were taught by our own talented employees.

Neuro-diverse author, activist, entrepreneur, father, and author, Jonathan Mooney, was the overwhelming highlight of the day. Despite not learning to read until he was 12 years-old, he beat the odds of low expectations and graduated with honors in English Literature from Brown University. In fact, he published his first book while he was still in college.

Mr. Mooney shared that education has long held the belief that if you are good at school you are smart. The reading brain is elevated as a sign of intelligence. He stressed that this is far too narrow of a skill set. We must stop seeing learning differences as deficiencies. Instead, we must empower our students by first redefining the problem. Jonathan didn’t need someone to fix him, rather he needed someone to fight for his right to learn differently, including his mother and a few special teachers. He believes that schools need to use Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to allow all children to thrive. Additionally, education needs to flip the deficit orientation of people struggling in school, and instead, teach toward their strengths and talents.

He concluded by reminding elementary staff that educators should never forget the power of their expectations. Although he had many adults who told him he would end up in jail or flipping burgers, thankfully he also had teachers who believed in him. In fact, it was his 3rd grade teacher who helped him see his gift as a storyteller at a time he thought he had no value or talent. 

Many teachers commented that Mooney’s keynote was the best they ever heard, and shared that they were excited to return to school with a revived sense of purpose and strategies to teach ALL students.


On Friday, October 11, all secondary teachers and administrators gathered at Palo Alto High School for a day of professional learning. The day’s sessions were designed to support the work educators have engaged in with common learning targets, assessments, course guides, and grading practices. Two sessions, led by Schoology facilitators, were intended to help educators maximize the power of Schoology to foster student learning, build and collaborate on assessments, and continue to grow their knowledge base of Schoology tools. Teachers also had time in departments to apply their learning and collaborate with colleagues from across the District. Teachers have the opportunity to continue to build their knowledge and skills through upcoming professional learning opportunities offered during “Tech Week,” October 28 – November 2, where they will be able to select from a variety of sessions focused on Schoology, Google Apps for Education, and other PAUSD tech tools.


The Innovation and Agility - Curriculum & Career Education (CCE) Department continues to provide support for our varied career-themed pathways and work-based learning. Fall Advanced Authentic Research (AAR) mentor/student forum events were held at Gunn and Palo Alto High Schools. These events provide students with the opportunity to receive feedback on general research questions from multiple mentors.

In collaboration with the National Academy Foundation (NAF) the following meetings are planned:

  • Career Technical Education (CTE) Advisory Committee Planning Meeting (November 13)  
  • Year of Planning (YOP) meeting for Paly’s Engineering Pathway (November 19)
  • Year of Planning (YOP) meeting for Gunn’s Business Pathway (November 19)

The minutes from the September informational meeting are posted on the Curriculum and Career Education website. By working with multiple stakeholders and leveraging relationships with our community, we can continue to provide students with opportunities to gain real-world experiences, pursue passions, and foster connections that go beyond the classroom experience, preparing them for successful careers.

Fall Career and Job Fairs are planned at Paly and Gunn on October 18 and 25, respectively.


Building on the success of the fall class, PAAS will offer another eight-week session of Engaging In Your Child’s Education, beginning January 13, 2020. Parents and grandparents who are enrolled will attend class twice a week for eight weeks to learn about PAUSD K-12 policies and practices.

The class focuses on preparing for a parent-teacher conference, reporting a child’s absence, completing registration forms, and navigating the PAUSD website. Parents of secondary school children are also introduced to Schoology and Infinite Campus.

The class is free and students must have an intermediate level of English to participate. Participants who complete all of the competencies and a final parent-teacher role play assignment receive a certificate of achievement. The District provides on-site childcare for children while their parents/grandparents attend class. For more information on how to enroll in the class, please call the PAAS English as a Second Language (ESL) Program office at (650) 494-2326. 


On Thursday, October 10, 17 student ensembles from JLS Middle School, Fletcher Middle School, and Gunn High School, performed in a “Kaleidoscope” concert. The title of this concert is chosen because of the way these 17 student ensembles performed “in a succession of changing actions.” To view a video of the concert,click here.

PAUSD’s Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator hosted 43 arts administrators from around the state in two days of professional development at Stanford’s Bing Concert Hall. Agenda topics included: 6.2 million students who do not have access to Arts Education, and how to work with stakeholders to reduce this number; Mariachi ensembles; Creating Games while teaching music theory; LGBTQ; Equity and Music Education; and the release of the new Arts Framework.

PAUSD Spectra Art Teachers participated in their third professional development session where they practiced “checking for understanding” as they work on improving instructional strategies.

Department of Equity and Student Affairs


The Department of Academic Supports will hold a VTP Community Conversation with families who participate in the Tinsley Program on October 22, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the YMCA on 550 Bell Street, East Palo Alto, CA 94303. This is PAUSD’s 2nd VTP Community Conversation for the 2019-20 school year. Data from the first meeting on September 25 will be available at the meeting and on the PAUSD website on the VTP page. Families will have the opportunity to review data from the first meeting. The same data collection process will be used to encourage all voices to have an opportunity to engage. The goal of the meeting is to learn from the VTP community what are the strengths, challenges, concerns, and ideas for the program. Translation, childcare and a light dinner will be provided.


The District’s celebration of National Unity Day is Wednesday, October 23. This year marks the 7th anniversary of PAUSD’s Districtwide participation in Unity Day. While this event has typically been associated primarily with Bullying Prevention, its broader goal is to promote kindness, acceptance, and inclusion. Unity Day is a communitywide event in which the City of Palo Alto, Palo Alto Council of PTAs (PTAC), school PTSAs, Community Advisory Committee for Special Education in Palo Alto (CAC), and PAUSD partner to make this day’s message impactful for our students.  

While national Unity Day is October 23, schools often extend the focus on inclusion for a week or the month of October. Families are encouraged to check with their school(s) for events they can support or participate in. Community members are also invited to attend. The City of Palo Alto is having a free showing of the movie Wonder in honor of National Bullying Prevention Month on Saturday, October 19, at 6:30 p.m. at Mitchell Park Bowl. In case of rain, the screening will take place at the Mitchell Park Community Center Adobe Room.  


The first 5th Grade Puberty Talk Parent Night was held on Tuesday, October 15, with about 50 parents in attendance. Parents learned what the California Healthy Youth Act entails and the topics of each classroom session. Puberty Talk is a five-session course, designed as an open forum for pre-teens to ask questions and get medically accurate, unbiased information about puberty developed by Health Connected. The dates of future Puberty Talk Parent Nights are listed below. Parents and guardians from all sites are welcome. Puberty Talk materials are available for viewing at your school’s front office and at the District Office in Educational Services during regular office hours. Parent Night information, lesson dates, and frequently asked questions can be found on the PAUSD website

  • Parent Night # 2: January 13, 2020 at 6:30 p.m., Walter Hays Multi-Purpose Room (MPR)
  • Parent Night # 3: February 27, 2020 at 6:30 p.m., Nixon Multi-Purpose Room (MPR)

If you have any questions or inquiries, please contact the PAUSD District Nurses.


Students from Deanna Messinger’s honors art class created several potential designs for the glass panel walls in the wellness center. The Gunn Wellness Team selected the “Sun of the Pacific” which is a celebration of the natural beauty and culture around California. The project is underway and should be completed within the next month. Board Members are invited to come check out the progress. 

The Wellness Center hosted art and movie activities during this week’s double flex time. Students made an art project for the upcoming Unity Day on October 23 using advice, anecdotes, and lessons they learned while watching Zootopia related to experiences with bullying support and conversations around diversity and inclusion. 


Paly’s “Wellness State of Mind” Resource Fair on October 15 was a popular event for students, parents, and staff alike. Seventeen local agencies and eight student clubs participated during students’ tutorial period, hosting interactive and informative booths. Over 200 students attended and engaged with representatives from the various wellness booths. It was truly a community event. Local businesses donated gift cards for our raffle prizes, which were a hit. Parent volunteers were essential throughout the fair, and many staff members came out to show their support and participate in the festivities. 


Paly hosted 130 private and out-of-state public universities in the Peery Center on October 14 for the annual Palo Alto College Fair; over 1,000 attendees visited from PAUSD and neighboring high schools.

College Representatives, families, and staff were impressed with the organization of the program. They were especially impressed by the inviting nature of the space, the Wellness Center table, and the hospitality center for college reps as well as the friendly and attentive volunteers. Over 75 parents attended the financial aid presentation at the fair, hosted by Carl Gottbrecht, Assistant Director of Student Awards, at Stanford University.

The College Fair could not happen without the support of PAUSD parents. Their dedication, professionalism, and many hours of service ensured there was a team of incredible parent volunteers and that the event ran smoothly. Many who volunteered worked longer than their committed time and pitched in to help with whatever was needed. The commitment of parent volunteers to the planning and executing of this event enabled College Advisors to focus on working with students and families confident in the team and that the College Fair was running smoothly. 


Last week, on October 9, Paly hosted a financial aid workshop in the Media Arts Center (MAC). Our guest speaker was Karen Cooper, Director of Financial Aid, at Stanford University. Over 125 parents attended. Ms. Cooper described what falls under the umbrella of financial aid, the difference between need and merit aid, governmental vs. institutional aid award practices, as well as the strategies to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile. The consummate professional, Ms. Cooper explained topics in a calm way that helped reduce anxiety around the process.


On Tuesday, October 15, Paly hosted a workshop for seniors to help them better understand the University of California application’s Personal Insight Questions (PIQ) to better understand which questions to answer and how to do so. The 50 students who participated enjoyed reviewing a sample student application, noting various transcript patterns and other facts that were highlighted, as well as how to anticipate questions reviewers might have. In addition to discussing writing strategies and tips, the UC’s evaluations of former applicants PIQ responses were also shared.

Business Services


PAUSD A–Z Salad Bars will be making their return starting next week!

The Student Nutrition Services A-Z Salad Bar features fruits and vegetables representing every letter of the alphabet. Students that purchase lunch on their A-Z Salad Bar day will be able to select from 26 different fresh, seasonal, and locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Our first A-Z Salad Bar will be held at El Carmelo Elementary on Tuesday, October 22. The A-Z will then move to Barron Park Elementary on Tuesday, October 29, and then to Addison Elementary on Wednesday, October 30.

All elementary sites will have the opportunity to enjoy the salad bar this year! 

Fresh Salad A to Z Salad Bar

Technology Department


Fall Tech Week for PAUSD teachers will be from Monday, October 28, though Saturday, November 2. Sessions are available at a variety of times to meet the needs of teachers. Teachers can choose from multiple EdTech sessions to learn, practice tools with support, then implement in the classroom. Teachers are especially encouraged to attend Schoology sessions to build digital course materials that support student learning.


A small display is placed outside of the library with many ideas students can use to become a good digital citizen.

Digital Citizenship Month


  1. “Technology in PAUSD” ­– Join us to learn about Infinite Campus, Schoology, and more on Monday, October 21, from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Paly Haymarket Theater, 50 Embarcadero Road. 
  2. Rescheduled Meeting: “10 Tech Tips for Parents: Healthy, Safe, and Responsible Technology Use for the Whole Family.” ­– Due to other Palo Alto events, the session planned for Tuesday, October 22, will be moved to Wednesday, November 6, from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the District Office Board Room, 25 Churchill Ave.

Please contact Emily Garrison, PAUSD Coordinator of Education Technology and Libraries, for more information.


Stanford Panel Seminar: Re-envisioning the “Seat-Time” Algorithm in Education. This event will explore some interesting and important topics in modern education and will feature PAUSD’s own journalism teacher, Esther Wojcicki. The event is open to the public and will take place on October 22, from 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. in CERAS 101 at Stanford.