October 27, 2017

We support all PAUSD students as they prepare themselves to thrive as global citizens in a rapidly changing world. We develop our students’ knowledge, critical thinking, and problem solving skills, and nurture their curiosity, creativity, and resilience, empowering every child to reach his or her fullest intellectual, social, and creative potential.

Hello to the PAUSD Community,

Happy Friday to all! As another very busy week is winding down, I had the good fortune of judging Paly’s Homecoming competitions this afternoon. The energy and enthusiasm there will definitely carry me into the weekend with a big smile on my face! In this Superintendent’s Weekly you’ll find important updates on district work, as well as a sampling of great things currently happening , as well as updates on former PAUSD students:

Important Updates

Data Breach Investigation Update

Staff has continued to delve into the IC data breach that occurred earlier this month. Read an update on this investigation.

Title IX Compliance

As part of the Board’s commitment to transparency, the Board updated the Title IX page of our website on October 21. This includes an Executive Summary of the investigation into how district staff handled issues surrounding events at Palo Alto High School in the Fall of 2016, as well as the Final Cozen Report. The firm of Cozen O’Connor presented the results of their investigation in a televised Special Board Meeting on September 21, 2017.

In addition, I want to provide you with an update on our efforts to get all staff trained in the Title IX workshop to fulfill our Resolution Agreement with the Office for Civil Rights. As of October 27, 2017, we have trained 1774 employees.  Individuals remaining to be trained include recent hires, contractors, and people not yet paid in the current school year. Our next two Title IX workshops will be held on November 14, 2017 for make-ups, as well as for groups who are not site-based: substitutes, Corp Yard, Maintenance,Operations and Transportation, adult school, part-time hourly employees, etc.

Superintendent’s Task Force – RISE (Responsive Impactful Safe Environment)

An initial stakeholder group of this Task Force will meet on Monday, October 30, to begin focused work. RISE is charged with delivering recommendations to the Superintendent for a unified K-12 strategic plan that will include:

  • Assurance of compliance with OCR Resolutions, Title IX, state law, Board Policy and the District’s Administrative Regulations
  • Education of the community about rights and responsibilities
  • Promotion of a culture in which sexual assault, violence and harassment are not engaged in nor tolerated
  • Empowerment of all community members to interrupt and report incidents of sexual assault, violence, and harassment
  • Provision of methods for rectification and reporting that are clear and responsive

During this initial meeting, we will begin to share thinking on the components of a K-12 strategic plan that will complete our charge, and we will also compile an inventory of current known efforts to combat sexual assault, violence, and harassment at site and District levels. Prior to the next meeting, we’ll be working to define the scope of the work,  deliverables, process and timeline, as well as strategies to capture valued input and participation from all stakeholders, interested community members, and resource providers.  We want to hear from you from the start of this work!  You can send us your communication to: Suptaskforce@pausd.org.

Great Things Happening

Please take a moment to look at the beautiful Dia de los Muertos paintings from Ohlone’s K/1 (Vanessa Clark’s class) with Spectra Art teacher Alyssa Erickson, as shared with us by Art Coordinator Li Ezzell:

Dia de los Muertos art work being created by students

Greendell held a Parent Coffee on Tuesday, October 24 from 8:30-9:30 a.m. in the MP room. The coffee was sponsored by the Committee Advisory Committee for Special Education in Palo Alto (CAC) for families of children with special needs, learning challenges, and families that have questions about these topics.

Greendell’s Pre-School Family Fun Day is coming this weekend! Fun Day is being held Saturday, October 28 from 9:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. It is the biggest PSF event and it is always great fun! The campus will be transformed into a very festive venue and the children will show their families their art. There is also a PSF decorating team to transform the campus. We hope to see you at Fun Day!

Thursday, October 26, was a very busy day at Hoover Elementary. Katy Bimpson hosted a Principal’s coffee highlighting the new elementary curriculum, Bridges Mathematics. A special East Palo Alto VTP Family Literacy Night was held from 6:30-8:00 p.m. The Hoover community is looking forward to a spectacular event on Saturday November 4th Summer of Love auction! 6:30-11:00 p.m. at Mitchell Park!

On Friday, October 20, Fairmeadow students welcomed Google Expeditions to their Fairmeadow Design Studio to present an augmented reality learning experience for all 2nd – 5th grade students. Through a digital camera screen that students moved around the room, children viewed a variety of objects digitally ‘placed’ in different spaces. Students closely observed and discussed objects specific to their grade level areas of focus, including dinosaurs, the moon, landforms, and planets of the solar system. The augmented reality lessons provided an incredible glimpse into the future of technology integration in schooling. Fairmeadow technology lead teachers, Valerie Sabbag and Kristi Van, coordinated this unique learning experience for Fairmeadow staff and students.

Duveneck Elementary School hosted a Principal’s Coffee on Wednesday, October 25, which focused on two topics to engage parents: Bullying Prevention & Responsive Classroom Strategies. Students and staff celebrated Unity Day on the field with a special Project Connect activity of a school wide Paper Chain Connection and recitation of the Upstander Pledge.

El Carmelo Math Olympiad: The PTA is sponsoring a math enrichment program, Math Olympiad, for 4th and 5th grade students. They meet each Wednesday morning from 7:15-8:15 a.m! Over 40 students have registered and 31 attended on Wednesday.

Jordan hosted the Special Olympics soccer tournament on October 26. Attendees included general education and special education students from all over the district and outside districts as well. We had three fields of rotating soccer games for elementary through high school students, and Jordan students served as the welcome committee, coaches, and refs for our athletes. It was a great day!

The Gunn Theatre Fall Show, Servant of Two Masters, opens on November 2 and runs through November 12.

This week was PAUSD's first teacher “Tech Week," which offered 30 one-hour sessions after school and as a Saturday half-day conference for teachers to explore tech integration and EdTech apps for the classroom.

Also, in celebration of Tech Week, the documentary Screenagers was shown in the Paly Haymarket Theater to a large crowd. After the viewing, a group of six panelists stayed to discuss some essential elements of parenting in the digital age. Special thanks to these outstanding panelists: Paly senior Amaya Mitchell, Gunn senior Gautam Mittal, PAUSD parents Gabrielle Conway and Ramji Digumarthi, Paly Positive Psychology and blended learning teacher Christopher Farina, and Gloria Moskowitz-Sweet from My Digital TAT2.

Students seated watching a screening

Elementary students walking holding hands on Unity Day

The district celebrated national Unity Day on Wednesday, October 25, 2017. This year marked the fifth anniversary of PAUSD’s district-wide participation in Unity Day. While this event has typically been associated primarily with Bullying Prevention, it’s also promoted kindness, acceptance and inclusion. This focus is especially important as we work together as a district and a community to improve our climate and culture during these divisive times we are experiencing nationally.

While national Unity Day is celebrated October 25, due to scheduling a few schools elected a different day within the National Bullying Prevention Month of October to celebrate Unity. Students and many staff members across the district wore orange or shirts with messages in support of acceptance and inclusion.

School Highlights

Fairmeadow students learned literature-based lessons in each classroom with a different unity themed picture book read and discussed in each classroom. During lunchtime, students created a kindness generator out of paper with key unity day words and phrases, and quotes from the books.

Walter Hays encouraged everyone to write their hopes and aspirations on a paper "brick." The Wall of Bricks was wrapped around the school on Unity Day. Quotes from the Wall:

“I dream of a work where everyone is caring, kind, nice, and helping”

“Safe Hands; Safe Body; Kind words”

“I hope there will one day be a time when we all will be at peace with each other, that day may never come but I can do all in my power to make sure it does and you can too!

JLS Middle School students participated in a Unity Day march around the field with the school mascot. Banners with Anti-Bullying messages were displayed.

Social Emotional Journey Towards Unity

Over 100 parents and community members participated in the commUNITY event led by R. Keeth Matheny, a nationally recognized Social Emotional Leaning teacher, advocate and author. Mr. Matheny led participants through a selection of lessons from the School Connect program being piloted at Paly and Gunn. Participants actively engaged in activities focused on building the Social Emotional Leaning soft skills of active listening, disagreeing without being disagreeable, and building understanding and empathy for others. This event was sponsored by the Wellness & Support Services Department, CAC, and PTA Council. See our Unity Day 2017 Presentation here.

Alumni News

We’re proud to let you know about Nina Katchadourian, a Gunn Grad with a one woman show at the Cantor, described in the following manner: “This playful and perceptive exhibition explores several major bodies of work by celebrated Brooklyn- and Berlin-based artist Nina Katchadourian, including video, photography, sculpture and sound installations. Katchadourian’s practice is at once conceptually rigorous and alluringly accessible. Her work reveals the creative potential, to use the artist’s words, that “lurks within the mundane” and underscores the remarkable freedom and productivity that can come from working within limitations. Using ingenuity and humor, her practice encourages us to reinvigorate our own sense of curiosity, and to see our everyday surroundings as a site of discovery and possibility.”

Joc Pederson, Paly Class of 2010, started in left field and hit sixth against Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros in Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday, October 25 AND he hit a home run during that game! He’s also in the lineup for tonight’s game – GO Joc!

My best to you as the weekend begins!


Karen Hendricks