May 26, 2017

I have never had a boring day as a superintendent.  This week was no exception, and I must admit that at this point, I wouldn’t mind a bit of boredom.

Protecting Learning Environments from Sexual Harassment and Assault

In all seriousness, while we were sad to hear of our Gunn High School Principal Dr. Denise Herrmann’s departure, and have had much to do regarding past, present, and future Title IX investigations, it has been a good week to learn and to grow. The Chief Academic Officers, Paly administrative team, and I spent four hours in Title IX training on Thursday and continued to increase our knowledge about both response and prevention. Our entire administrative team will have a full day training session on August 1, and our high school faculty will be trained on August 10 and 11. We will have additional required training sessions for all certified and classified staff, as well as students, beginning early in the next school year. Real change in school cultures will not happen through trainings alone, however, and we will need sincere efforts and support from students and parents to assure that everyone understands, observes, respects, and honors appropriate boundaries, conduct, and consent. To this end, we are launching a Title IX Compliance webpage that we will unveil at our Board meeting on June 6. It will provide the community with pertinent information, status reports on investigations, and both training materials and resources for parents, students, and educators.   

Celebrating Graduations and Promotions

It has also been a good week to celebrate! Our high schools had their awards evenings and several special performances, our middle schools had some remarkable concerts, and our elementary schools and classrooms have enjoyed field days and special end-of-the-year plays, concerts, and events. Next week will be even better though, as we are proud to graduate approximately 900 high school seniors and to promote 1,000 eighth graders! Their accomplishments are noteworthy, but in reality, they have just begun to tap their enormous potential. I am excited to be able to attend ceremonies at Gunn and Terman next week. Our Board members and district leaders will also be attending high school graduations and middle school promotions.

Plan for Renaming Schools

As you know, we actively seek feedback from students, staff, and parents on a host of topics. Our most current opportunity concerns the renaming of David Starr Jordan and Terman Middle Schools. We are seeking applicants for a Citizen Advisory Committee to research, review, and recommend new names for these schools by December 31, 2017. Recommended names need to fall within the parameters of Board Policy 7310 - Naming of Facility, which currently reads:

“The Board of Education may name district schools and other district-owned or leased buildings, grounds, and facilities in recognition of: 

  1. Individuals, living or deceased, and entities that have made outstanding contributions, including financial contributions, to the school community

  2. Individuals, living or deceased, who have made contributions of statewide, national, or worldwide significance 

  3. The geographic area in which the school or building is located 

Any name adopted for any new school shall not be so similar to the name of any existing district school as to result in confusion to members of the community. [In other words, the new names cannot contain either Jordan or Terman.]

We will also be asking the Board Policy Review Committee (BPRC), to make some revisions to the policy to allow for the characteristics of innovation, inclusion, and integrity, as well as to consider names that are not necessarily people or places.

We encourage anyone who is interested and has the time to commit to this important work to apply. Committee membership will be representative of the larger community and reflect its cultural diversity and range of perspectives. Members must commit to attending biweekly meetings that will last between two or three hours during the school year. Additional work between meetings is likely and may require two to four hours per week. 

Application forms are available online at the Recommending School Names Committee page  or by contacting Linda Dillon, or 650-329-3709.

All completed applications must be sent to:

Dr. Glenn “Max” McGee, Superintendent
Palo Alto Unified School District
25 Churchill Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94306

Application deadline: received by Friday, June 16, 2017, 5:00 pm.  
The Committee will be selected on or before June 21, 2017.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Tonight Jan and I are off to the Greek Theater in Berkeley to see “Jean-Michel Jarre: Electronica Tour - First North American Tour Ever!” I’m not sure what we are in for musically, but we are not ones to pass up an event in this wonderful venue when we have a long weekend. On Sunday, we will see some remarkable local talent at Paly’s Baccalaureate, as our student performers are featured. Monday is Memorial Day, and as with Veteran’s Day and the Fourth of July, this was an important observance in my childhood home. My father flew a Corsair in the Pacific Theater in WW II (the picture is on my office wall) and after he passed away in 1980, my mother married Ed, who survived and fought at Normandy. Neither Dad nor Ed recounted many of their experiences, but these three days mattered deeply to them and still do to us.  We are so fortunate to live in this great country.