September 27, 2019

Office of the Superintendent


The following items are tentatively scheduled for our rescheduled (taking the place of October 22 meeting) agenda on October 15.

  • Developer Fees (Report)
  • Career Themed Pathways (Report)
  • Physical Safety and Start of Year Procedures (Report)
  • California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) – Test Scores (Report)
  • Staff Housing – Preliminary Discussion (Discussion)
  • Parcel Tax Oversight Committee Report (Information)


Stanford University recently stated to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors that they would not accept a General Use Permit without a Development Agreement. While the difference between the two paths is relatively complex, it is also irrelevant as it relates to the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD). In a recent letter from Stanford University to PAUSD, their commitment to our schools was affirmed. The letter clarified that if Stanford builds new housing as a result of obtaining any permit, they would honor our previously negotiated terms. If no permit is offered or accepted, there is nothing for Stanford to mitigate. 

Two excerpts from the letter make their commitment clear:

“We are writing to let you know the university remains unequivocally committed to the agreement we structured with the Palo Alto Unified School District earlier this year.”

“I want to assure you that there will not be a future scenario where Stanford accepts a permit to build new campus housing without providing the committed benefits to Palo Alto Unified School District, which will be made possible by the package of a permit and a development agreement.”

Moving our regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Education from October 22 to October 15 allows our Board members and staff to attend the Santa Clara County Supervisors’ meeting held on October 22 at the Palo Alto City Hall.  


At the request of the PTAC, we have distributed our first bi-monthly newsletter to all families and employees and have reached over 20,000 views. The newsletter closely aligns with our Friday Superintendent’s Board Update materials, but highlights topics predictably important for our stakeholders. 

Education Services


Applications are now being accepted for the 2019-20 City of Palo Alto Utilities Grant. The City of Palo Alto Utilities generously donates $50,000 annually to PAUSD to further student learning in the areas of water and/or energy efficiency, and renewable energy. The online grant application allows a teacher, staff member, grade level, department and/or site to apply to use a portion of the grant to fund projects, activities, speakers, presentations, clubs, field trips, tools, professional development, curriculum, and other activities or resources. In years past, grant money has been used for solar cars, Squishy Circuits, Marine Science Institute field trips, energy/water conservation-related books, solar oven kits, and Green Microcycle Bikes.


Members of the Middle School English Literature Selection Advisory Committee held their first meeting on Wednesday, September 25. A part of PAUSD’s ongoing curriculum evaluation and renewal cycle, the Advisory Committee will be reviewing current PAUSD literature in addition to examining new titles for possible inclusion in the middle school curriculum. The Committee anticipates recommending two California Department of Education (CDE)-approved core literature texts as required reading for each grade level (6-8) to the Board of Education in the spring of 2021. In addition, the Committee also plans to recommend a menu of CDE-approved supplemental literature for optional use. The expectation is that the core literature texts will be implemented in classrooms beginning in the 2021-22 school year. The meeting agenda included a review of some of the major shifts in English that the adoption of the Common Core in 2010 brought about. In addition, members divided into grade-level reading groups to begin the task of organizing their reading for the year.


The Innovation & Agility-Curriculum & Career Education (CCE) office has been working with the National Academy Foundation (NAF) to expand our students’ career preparation opportunities. The District hosted the first Career Technical Education (CTE) Advisory Board retreat for the year at Hewlett Foundation. The meeting was convened to revamp our existing Perkins Board. An executive summary of the meeting notes can be found on the CCE website. We were excited to host 21 active participants across nine industry sectors.

The purpose of the CTE Advisory Board is to work as a bridge between PAUSD and industry partners. Our next meeting, in November, will focus on developing an academic calendar for work-based learning opportunities. These opportunities range from guest speaking, worksite tours, and career fair participation to job-shadowing, informational interviews, mock interviews, and finally, paid internships. If you’d like to get involved, and might have some industry expertise and/or work-based learning opportunities to offer, please feel free to contact the CCE office.


The Special Education Department continues to work with the CDE’s Disproportionality Consultant on addressing the 2018-19 disproportionate representation finding. PAUSD is completing the required steps to address the findings, beginning with verification of student enrollment and exit status, which is referred to as the Special Education Division (SED) overall Quality Assurance Process (QAP). This process is designed to meet the requirements of a system of general supervision, as required by Title 34, Code of Federal Regulation, Section 300.600. This is the precursor to Significant Disproportionality. A District with three consecutive years of identification of disproportionate representation in any one indicator is considered Significantly Disproportionate. PAUSD has not yet been identified as Significantly Disproportionate, but is expecting this finding in at least one indicator.

What is disproportionality?

Disproportionality is the “overrepresentation” of a specific racial or ethnic group in four areas:

  1. Special Education in general (Overall Identification) - Indicator 9 - includes rate of racial and ethnic disproportionality. Ethnic groups include American Indian, Asian, African American, Hispanic, Multiple Ethnicities, Pacific Islander and White
  2. Special Education with a specific disability category (Identification by disability) - Indicator 10 - is defined as rate of racial and ethnic disproportionality by disability.  Disabilities that are considered for this indicator are Autism, Emotional Disturbance, Intellectual Disabilities, Other Health Impairments, Specific Learning Disabilities, Speech or Language Impairment.
  3. More restrictive educational environments (Placement - LRE) - Indicator 5B - consists of students with disabilities, by race and ethnicity, spending less than 40 percent in general education, and Indicator 5C, students with disabilities by race and ethnicity in separate schools and residential facilities
  4. Disciplinary action - Indicator 4B - looks at students with disabilities by race and ethnicity, who are suspended or expelled for greater than 10 days outside of school and/or in the school setting, less than 10 days outside and/or in the school setting, and any discipline.

Why is PAUSD disproportionate and how is disproportionality calculated?

The CDE Data Evaluation and Analysis Unit (DEA) extracts data from California Special Education Management Information System (CASEMIS) and California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) in order to calculate a risk ratio. Any LEA over the threshold of three is found to be disproportionate in that indicator.

What are the components of disproportionality self-study?

PAUSD is currently engaged in the self-study phase, which includes a review of policies and procedures related to disproportionate indicators, a review of student files, and corrective actions, as identified by the CDE. If the initial self-study results do not result in improvements, the LEA enters into a phase known as Prong II, which has an additional set of requirements.

What is the timeline?

The PAUSD self-study submission date is October 30, 2019. In November or December, the District will be notified of any findings and applicable corrective actions. In February, PAUSD must submit responses to any identified applicable corrective actions. As such, student-related corrective actions must be submitted 45 days from receipt of such corrective actions. Policy and Procedure-related corrective actions must be submitted within 60 days. If the CDE determines that PAUSD is subject to a Prong II review, we will be notified in May.

Department of Equity and Student Affairs


The Department of Academic Supports held a VTP Community Conversation on September 25 from 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. at the District Office with families who participate in the Tinsley Program. Approximately 40 families attended. A light dinner was served with childcare and translation provided. A data collection process was used to encourage all voices to have an opportunity to engage. The goal of the meeting was to learn from the VTP community what are the strengths, challenges, concerns and ideas for the program. The data collected will be sent to all VTP families and shared at the next community meeting set for mid-October in East Palo Alto. The same data collection process will be used and time will be given for families to review data already collected.


PAUSD Families and staff from Health Services will be participating in the Juvenile Diabetes Walk on Sunday, October 6, at Great America to support fellow students with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) and to raise awareness about the disease. Paly’s Cheer and Dance teams will be performing at the walk. The annual event is a great opportunity for people with T1D, their families and care providers to join a support community focused on research to improve treatments, diagnosis and creating a world without T1D. Participation is free and participants can enjoy a free breakfast, spend the day at great America as well as learn about T1D, see the latest in diabetes management products, and meet with others in the community. Free screenings will also be available by TrialNet. There will be a charge for parking for walkers who arrive after 8:45 a.m. Check-in begins at 8:00 a.m. with the walk beginning at 9:00 a.m. 

T1D is usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults, but it can develop at any age. It is caused by an autoimmune reaction (the body attacks itself by mistake) that destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Genetics can play a role in the development of T1D. Being exposed to a trigger in the environment, such as a virus, is also thought to play a part in developing T1D. Diet and lifestyle habits do not contribute to it.

For more information about this event or to register to walk with the Paly High School walk team, you can check the website. To learn more about T1D, you can visit the CDC website.


Wellness and Support Services is partnering with Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) to bring workshops educating families on preparing for their children's future with a culturally focused parenting workshop series, “Families Connecting Across Generations.” The workshop is designed to help navigate across generational and cultural differences. Topics include parenting skills to help promote the bicultural identity of immigrant children, manage stress, enhance parent-child understanding, and effectively utilize rules, reinforcement, and consequences in this country. The workshop series begins next Wednesday, October 2. It will run every Wednesday through December 11 with no class on November 27 from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. at Palo Alto High School, Room 301. For more information and to register please contact the facilitator, Yifan Wang, Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT) at 650-329-3999 ext. 6975, or by email. You can register at Eventbrite.


The Gunn High School Wellness Center hosted the last flex time activity of the month in recognition of Suicide Awareness Month. Students split up into eight teams and did an interactive true/false quiz around the myths and facts of suicide among young people. Students debunked various myths about suicide and discussed warning signs, risk factors, and protective factors. Students and staff came out to Gunn’s Wellness Fair Friday, September 27, at lunch to connect with resources available in the community that promote student emotional well-being.

The Palo Alto High School Wellness Center visited three Living Skills classrooms and AVID to do their Wellness Workshop, discussing what students wish parents knew about mental health, how to help students feel connected, and how to raise awareness about resources. Students also spent time discussing the obstacles students face, reaching out for help, including stigma, and ways to combat it. Our outreach worker also participated in the Equity Workshop offered at the District that discussed bias, racist systems, and ways to create safety in different spaces for students.


High School Counselors and Administrators from Paly, Gunn, and Wellness & Student Services participated in the California State University (CSU) High School Counselor Conference either in San Ramon or Sonoma this week to learn about the latest in admissions requirements, processes, program impaction, redirection and student supports. Topics of high interest included: the CSU commitment to providing education options to all eligible California Residents; the CSU Graduation Initiative 2025 which focuses on improving graduation rates in shorter time frames; and eliminating all equity gaps for underrepresented minorities and Pell Grant eligible students through academic preparation options, enrollment management, student engagement and well-being, financial support, data driven decision making and administrative barriers.

Representatives from all 23 CSU campuses presented highlights on their programs and engaged with questions from counselors specific to their schools.

  • Academic Preparation: Updates and The Future
  • Access for All Students: Overview of Requirements and Resources for Assembly Bill (AB) 540 Students Including Those Who May Be Undocumented
  • Cal State Apply Application Update
  • The Academic Planner & Articulation with Cal State Apply
  • Navigating CSU Impaction, Local Admission Area & Redirection
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Initial Eligibility 
  • Supporting Students through the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)


Members of our Wellness & Support Services Team attended the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s annual training for supporting Homeless, Foster Youth & Refugees where they learned about resources available in the county as well as the district liaison responsibilities for supporting students and families. Families experiencing homelessness or who have entered the United States as refugees or supporting foster youth are encouraged to reach out to the Wellness & Support Services for support at 650-833-4208.


The Student Wellness Council met on Monday, September 23. The Council reviewed the PAUSD Promise and discussed ways to align with the council’s purpose and mission as well as anti-vaping efforts, PTAC Health and Wellness collaboration and ways to increase student and site membership. The Student Wellness Council is made up of students, staff, families and community members who act collectively to provide support on aspects of school wellness services to promote the link between health, safety, and academics. They also work to assist schools as needed in the areas of student and staff physical, social, and emotional health. Furthermore, the council promotes practices in school settings in which students, staff, parents, and the community work collaboratively to ensure that all students and staff are emotionally and physically healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged. Student Wellness Council meets quarterly on Mondays from 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. at the District Office. The future dates are: November 18, 2019, February 24, 2020, and April 27, 2020. 


Research Evaluation & Assessment Team partnered with Wellness & Support Services to offer a variety of Naviance workshops to school counselors, administrators, and support program leaders on Thursday, September 26, at Gunn High School. Naviance is the College and Career Planning Tool for our district. The workshops were designed to build awareness of the recently enhanced features of Naviance, increase depth of understanding and fluency with the tool, and to develop scope and sequences that will help staff, students, and families know what to expect from the post high school planning process. Participants engaged with features of Naviance that help expand perspectives of college and career paths available to current students.

Expanded support of use of the platform is expected to especially benefit first-generation college students; tools include career cluster interest finder, free test prep for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and American College Testing (ACT) exams, tools for parents to look ahead to financial planning, a comprehensive scholarship database and by-school estimated aid packages based on family needs. All students will benefit from expanded resources for career and life planning discernment, including virtual “road trips” to campuses and a library of interviews of people talking about their career paths in fields that are matched with student interest.

Sessions Included: 

  • Naviance Overview Training 
  • College and Career Preparation Scope and Sequence Planning 
  • Going Deeper with Naviance 
  • eDocs for Teachers - Completing College Recommendations

Business Services


On August 14, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security amended federal regulations known as the “public charge rule.” The term “public charge” is used in immigration law to refer to a person who is primarily dependent on the government for support. The changes to the existing rule, effective October 15, 2019, will make it more difficult to apply for permanent residency or earn a visa, if an applicant is dependent on government aid such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), housing assistance, and Medicaid.

Public education is not a public benefit as defined by the rule. Attending school will not impact a child’s or family member’s immigration status. K-12 school nutrition programs are also not impacted by the public charge rule. Families need to continue to complete meal applications and alternative meal forms for free and reduced priced meals.


The Addison project is now focused on two buildings, the Admin/Library and the Multi-Purpose (MP) building. The Admin/Library building is about 80% complete. The MP building started later. 

Regarding the MP building, roof plywood has been installed and waterproofed in preparation for roof tiles work. The Arcade’s walkway between the parking lot and the MP is framed and MP roof rafters are being set. The food servery equipment has been delivered and installed. Second floor windows are being prepped. The MP building exterior is almost ready for stucco. The picture shows the exterior of the MP building.

Addison Project

Technology Department


As you may know, our District has partnered with Yubico to provide Yubikeys for staff and parents. This pilot program, part of a grant from National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST), is nearing completion, which means an evaluation process to determine its future. RTI International, a nonprofit research organization, has been asked by NIST to perform the evaluation as part of the grant. A survey will be sent out via email to all staff and parents on October 3. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey to help us evaluate the pilot.