Open address to Ms. Gaona-Mendoza, and a few related thoughts. Part 2

Dear Ms. Gaona Mendoza,
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First I want to congratulate you again, for being elected to the EPA school board! And to express my admiration for your brave voice and ongoing acts!
I hope that your child is doing better.
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I wrote to you more than three years ago. I am copying my first open letter below.
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A lot has happened since I first wrote to you.  I have addressed you quite a few times on this blog since then.  And you kindly responded to a few of my posts (the posts can be found using the search box on the right, above).
I wrote to you after the Oct 8, 2013 board meeting. Watching you (link #1, below) triggered my first open address. I was appalled. That 10/8/13  board meeting started with a celebration of unity, continued with reporting that Special Ed was 100% successful in implementing inclusion. .  As it turned out, not all was as rosy as presented in that meeting. The fact that PAUSD was under  California Department of Education (CDE)  investigation was not mentioned during that meeting, the recent Office of Civil Rights (OCR) resolution is the last of many occurrences proving that not all was perfect.
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I watched you recently acknowledging a change and I wondered –
Did anyone except for Mr. Dauber apologize to you?  (While I feel Mr. Dauber’s recent apology was a gentleman’s act, he caused no harm, since he was not on the board at the time).
I am asking about a genuine apology from those who should have learned given all that went wrong, given all the resolutions, I am asking also since I mentioned the Civil Liberty Act of 1988 where acknowledgment and apology were defined as the the first steps, prerequisites to real correction.
Did any of those who actually wronged your child and you apologize?
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Another question: The recent OCR resolution called for independent investigation. As it turns out, PAUSD will employ the investigator. Do you think that anyone paid by PAUSD can be independent?
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I will not be able list all of my questions and thoughts here. More to come.
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Yours, respectfully, with the greatest gratitude
Village Fool
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..
And a few related thoughts and questions:
1. Independent investigation: this issue was discussed many times. I raised the clear need in my open address to Mr. Dauber on March 2013, asking him to form a shadow board. There was an online discussion about an ombudsman. I still think that any investigation needs to be done by an outside entity. I cannot see how a conflict of interest can be avoided here.
2. How come PAUSD went from 100% success to committees, investigations etc.? Can any institution this large credibly claim 100% success?
3. Are there any safe places or platforms to raise concerns without risking retaliation?
***
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My first open address:

Open address to Ms. Mendoza, the Lady who addressed PAUSD board on 10/8/13, and few related thoughts —

Dear Ms. Mendoza,

I am writing to express my admiration, respect, gratitude and shame.

I will start with the shame – I was embarrassed to watch (link #1) the lack of empathy, lack of respect and the lack of gratitude – all these were totally due when you stood to speak up after the presentation about the “new vision” in special education.

The board and audience all should have applauded – you brought the change. None of the new declarations would have been offered without your courageous actions.

I truly hope your child is doing better. I think you know more than others why anyone who has high stakes in PAUSD will not come forward. Retaliation was mentioned so many times.

I hope the day will come when you will stand in front of PAUSD offices and the grateful, respectful, admiring people of Palo Alto, free from fear of retaliation, will stand in line to shake your hand – all in broad day light. I know I will be there.

Yours, respectfully,

village fool

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And few related thoughts/questions –
1. I do not know who actually came forward to the Weekly with the information about the OCR settlement.
In any case – I am very thankful to the family who came forward. I noted that many times before.

2. I called many times, as have many others, for an independent investigation. We are still waiting for this, and still believe it is needed…
I think that the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 (link #2) beautifully defines the logic behind attempting to correct wrongs. It seems to me this logic is especially compelling here, since it is about an education system. The preliminary steps, before any change is possible were defined as: 1. Acknowledge. 2. Apologize. 3. Educate. Unfortunately, it seems that PAUSD is in the pre-Acknowledge step. My address to Ms. Mendoza above was triggered by the board’s reaction to her on Tuesday evening, clearly showing their lack of acknowledgement.

3. Who do the board members represent? On 5/24/2013 (link #3) I wrote: ” …..The latest info as to the closed board sessions dealing with litigation had me wonder – Who are the board member serving? Info about the first OCR case revealed that the parents tried to contact the board members, seeking help. Seems that a closed session could be about a case where board members were contacted by community parents who ended addressing the OCR. I am wondering, simply – on what side are the board members? Closed session makes it clear that the board sides with the district officials – anyways, always. Should concerned parents try to contact the board members regarding concerns they have, knowing that the board always sides with the district officials? Conflict of interest?”

Link #1 –http://www.midpenmedia.org/watch/pausd_webcast/October/PAUSD_100813.html – Ms. Mendoza’: 1:46 hours
Link #2 – http://www.civics-online.org/library/formatted/texts/civilact1988.html
Link #3 – http://www.paloaltoonline.com/square/index.php?i=3&d=1&t=20391

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