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Superintendent's Message

March 6, 2013

PAUSD's Work to Prevent Bullying

As you may know, the topic of bullying in public schools has, understandably, captured the attention of our school community.  In fact, bullying is the subject of movies, media, legislative debates and policy discussions. Indeed, it is an issue of national importance, and also a priority concern in our District.

Our District addresses bullying through all types of lessons and conversations, throughout the year. Sometimes these lessons center on acceptance, compassion, inclusion and the power of personal choice. Other times, lessons specifically address unkind, hurtful or harassing behaviors and words, and how students can respond.

Recently, allegations of bullying at one of our middle schools became the focus of an investigation by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The OCR found that there was more work we should have done to prevent discrimination related to a student-to-student bullying case.  As a result, we worked cooperatively with the OCR to establish a process to review our policies, provide more training to staff, build student engagement messages and reach out to you.

I believe that every staff member is committed to creating the safest and most inclusive environment for all students, and finding the most effective ways to do this work better. While our surveys of students consistently reveal high feelings of safety and low rates of bullying, we plan to build on our practices that reinforce social kindness and encourage "upstander" behavior.

A next step will be a comprehensive training and outreach program to be implemented throughout the District.  Over the coming weeks and months, we will be updating the community about these and other proactive efforts.  We are confident that through partnering with parents, students and the larger community, we will be able to enhance our efforts around this complex issue.

This is important work that we do best when we work together.  As we collectively challenge ourselves to address next steps, I invite your involvement at the Board level, the school level, and even over the kitchen table as you share with your child(ren) how you expect them to treat others.

Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.,



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The purpose of this publication is to provide information to our community about some of the ongoing issues facing the Palo Alto Unified School District. The trust and confidence of our community is vital to our success. To that end, we think it might be helpful to give you a regular report about our work and point out resources where you can learn more about specific topics. Although not everyone has time to attend Board of Education meetings, we recognize that many of you care deeply about the successes and challenges facing our administrators, educators and students. Our goal is to keep you informed about our ongoing efforts as we strive to achieve educational excellence for every student, every day.
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