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Pleasanton parents voice concerns over student violence to City Council, Board of Trustees

Original post made on Feb 12, 2023

Some parents are calling for administrators at Pleasanton Middle School to step down and for the city to work with the school district to address what they say is a longstanding problem of fighting and bullying at the campus.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, February 12, 2023, 2:28 PM

Comments (23)

Posted by Mike
a resident of Val Vista
on Feb 12, 2023 at 10:11 pm

Mike is a registered user.

It is too late to stop a child from being harmed by bullying in Pleasanton schools.
Bullying is a contributing factor to adult anti-social behavior for both the bully and victim.
Victims can develop anxiety disorders as well as depression on top of the anti-social behaviors.
With the research done about bullying it amazes me that Pleasanton School District hasn't been sued by a former student because the school administration ignores bullying behaviors and sometimes even encourages bullies to "toughen up" their victims. With some teachers participating in and encouraging bullying.
Bullying has been ignored by Pleasanton Schools since the 1970s and most likely earlier.
Someone needs to sue the school district for the harm they have suffered because the school isn't responsive to support victims and bullies.

Posted by Willy
a resident of Old Towne
on Feb 13, 2023 at 9:40 am

Willy is a registered user.

This issue needs to be addressed NOW! Waiting for a March meeting does not work. Parents might need to get more directly involved. Get the trouble makers out of the schools or give them a good beating and a strong warning what will happen if they continue with the bull!

Posted by Soccer Dad
a resident of Mission Park
on Feb 13, 2023 at 2:15 pm

Soccer Dad is a registered user.

Former PUSD Board Trustee Mark Miller here to weigh in. First and foremost, there should be no tolerance for bullying, much less physical assault, in our schools. And, I can assure you, there IS no tolerance (@Mike, your assertions are groundless and un-constructive). School and district administration respond with well-defined, progressive disciplinary measures when incidents occur, and they try to get resources to help out on campuses (no one can be everywhere at once) to prevent incidents from occurring in the first place.

But is the root cause of these behaviors inadequate supervision in our schools (and library)? What happened in these children's lives to precipitate such bad behavior? Where are the parents of these children and what supervision and role model are they providing? It's too convenient to blame school and district administration and wash our hands. What can we all do to help?

PW, I'm disappointed at the lack of research you've demonstrated in gathering data and in presenting the District's position and actions around this subject. You're adding to the sensationalizing of this issue. I would venture to guess our schools are as safe as any with similar demographics.

Posted by Pleasanton Valley Rez
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Feb 13, 2023 at 2:28 pm

Pleasanton Valley Rez is a registered user.

The highly, overpaid superintendent needs to fix this yesterday. He gets paid enough and it would be nice to see him earn his pay for once.

Posted by keeknlinda
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Feb 13, 2023 at 4:27 pm

keeknlinda is a registered user.

Former Trustee Miller asks valid questions. Disappointment with PW might be a bit misplaced, though, as they have privacy constraints as do District officials.
There seems to be a communications disconnect here, complicated by the young age of the juveniles seen in the video. They're underage for the juvenile court system which precludes the district from divulging information.
By placing the onus on the principal of PMS, the administrative buck has been passed to him, when parents and community members already lack confidence in his ability to be effective. They need to know that officials are listening, processing, and taking prudent disciplinary actions. As Vice Mayor Balch said, smart, actionable, measurable steps need to be identified, acted upon, and shared publically.
I haven't heard anyone ask pertinent questions, like what do statistics say about PMS vs Hart and Harvest Park when it comes to incidents of fighting or violence? How does each campus rank in terms of suspensions or expulsions? What is the ratio of incidents to the campus population? Is it a systemic shortfall or is it a perception, perpetuated by the use (or misuse) of social media? What does"zero tolerance" mean? Is it banishment from the community forever? No phones at school? Standing in a corner until class is dismissed? Missing the school dance? It is time to get real about the issue of what happened, face it squarely, and respond proactively.
Parents cannot be absolved of responsibility, either. It takes time to arrange a productive meeting, and one is scheduled for April. We must all don our patient shoes, and think about positive ways to address this situation. By and large, we are a safe and caring community. We must work together to accomplish whatever correction may be needed. Outrage and panic are unproductive.
We don't know what's going on behind the scenes, but until proven otherwise, I must trust our officials to do it right and give them time to do it.

Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 15, 2023 at 7:53 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Agree with you on parental involvement and school scope stopping at school walls

Disagree with you on zero tolerance policy.

Posted by Frustrated Voter
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2023 at 3:56 pm

Frustrated Voter is a registered user.

It has been the practice - at least at the elementary school level - to not issue suspensions and instead to implement “restorative justice” practices. This is a method of reflection, with no loss of privileges. Why? There apparently is pressure from management for principals to not issue suspensions because these numbers are “data” that is collected and reflects badly on PUSD school rankings etc. Sometimes in-house suspensions are offered. I will tell you that what an 8-year-old remembers about that “punishment” is that they got to hang with the principal all day and carry their walkie talkie. There is no consequence learned here. and let’s all stop pretending it does.

Posted by Karl A
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2023 at 4:42 am

Karl A is a registered user.

Could the no suspension policy also be in place for financial reasons?

If the kid is not in school, no state money is received?

Posted by LanceM
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2023 at 6:18 pm

LanceM is a registered user.

Perhaps more staff on campuses as opposed to adding 30+ people in just 2 years to the district office. Number of teachers has gone down. Superintendent's base salary has increased over $100,000 (40%) in 5 years. The district is being run into the ground. Principals ask for more campus supervisors and are rejected. Our counselor to student ratio is ridiculous.

I will bet if you ask any teacher what improvements they've seen in the classroom buy all this additional staff at the DO and out of our senior leadership, all of them would say it has gotten worse, not better.

Posted by LanceM
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2023 at 6:24 pm

LanceM is a registered user.

@Pleasanton Parent - unfortunately, the law does not allow school scope to stop at the school walls. No principal wants to deal with offsite issue, but they are forced to because the courts have ruled on this all over the country because people have sued. It certainly isn't because principals really enjoy it.

Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 23, 2023 at 9:04 pm

Longtime Resident is a registered user.

Frustrated Voter,

What do you propose? What kind of privileges are not lost? A child having to follow around an administrator all days sounds like lost privileges. I'd agree that it's great for the kid that they don't have to be in school because they don't understand how it harms them, but to say that privileges are lost seems like hyperbole. Zero tolerance policies have been terrible. No one learns anything from punitive punishment. All they learn is that no matter what they do to try to correct a situation, it's never good enough so why bother doing better next time?

Posted by VickiC
a resident of Stoneridge
on Feb 24, 2023 at 10:07 am

VickiC is a registered user.

Perhaps an immediate talk with parents of involved children would be a place to start. What is going on at home? Get counseling for the child. Perhaps a short suspension to learn anger management. Some form of meaningful punishment should be implemented, such as community service. Having them pick up trash on streets around the school neighborhood may give them time to reflect on their behavior.

Bullying is learned. Either from home, TV or examples from "friends". The school probably needs more funding for on-site counseling for these bullies. It should not be up to the teachers to stop the bullying. They are there to educate the children. They can call it out and report it. Perhaps the old threat of being sent to the Principals' office and facing "the paddle" would suffice. It is old fashioned, but it did work.

Behavior and tolerance should be learned at home by example. Lawsuits will just drain funds needed for the education of all the students, not just those who are not behaving appropriately.

Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 24, 2023 at 6:34 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Anyone that believes the school is responsible for their children until they reach home, should not have custody of children, short a school sponsored bus/event post bell, this is wrong.

Posted by SHale99
a resident of Village High School
on Feb 25, 2023 at 10:57 am

SHale99 is a registered user.

>>Anyone that believes the school is responsible for their children until they reach home

Anyone who says the school is responsible all the way home is spreading misinformation as it is not true. A school has a reasonable expectation to have the children safe while on campus, but once they reach a public road or vehicle, the school is no longer responsible unless it is a clearly after school organized trip/event. Period. Quick look at the education code/law will confirm that.
Happiest part of my day is when the kiddos are gone........

Posted by keeknlinda
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Feb 25, 2023 at 1:09 pm

keeknlinda is a registered user.

SHale99, I took a look at the California Compilation of School Discipline Laws and Regulations, page 20, dated June 30, 2022 and found the following, copied and pasted:

A pupil may be suspended or expelled for acts that are enumerated in this section and related to a school activity or school attendance that occur at any time, including, but not limited to, any of the following:
(1) While on school grounds.
(2) While going to or coming from school.
(3) During the lunch period whether on or off the campus.
(4) During, or while going to or coming from, a school-sponsored activity

The incident that prompted these discussions took place after school, as students were coming from school. Thus, I'm afraid you overlooked #2 in your interpretation of misinformation.
I might add if, as you suggest, you are an educator and the "happiest part of your day is when the kiddos are gone", you need to resign from your position immediately and seek other employment. In an adult-only setting.

Posted by Carl
a resident of Stoneridge
on Feb 25, 2023 at 6:41 pm

Carl is a registered user.

Let me be sure I understand you correctly; if Joey and Frankie get into a pushing match during their PE class at 11 in the morning, then go about their business without issues for the rest of the school day. However, about 30 minutes after school is out they see each other at a local store on their way home and start back up with their tussle from PE which leads to them coming to blows. Frankie falls and hits his head causing injuries. Under you thought process, the school is at fault because the initial incident occurred 5 hours earlier during school hours and neither child had yet returned home from school. That seems a bit ludicrous to me. How about holding the kids and their families accountable for their actions. Anyone talking about restorative just is promoting a failed experiment.

Posted by SHale99
a resident of Village High School
on Feb 26, 2023 at 10:07 am

SHale99 is a registered user.

>>A pupil may be suspended or expelled for acts
Are you not confusing two different scenarios? Yes, a student can be punished for things they do off campus or even online; true.

BUT, unlike what is in this thread and others here the district/school staff etc are not responsible for a child once they leave the campus via public road or vehicle. Calif court cases have confirmed this to be true too.

Posted by keeknlinda
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Feb 26, 2023 at 11:28 am

keeknlinda is a registered user.

Carl and SHale99, please read again. This is not my thought process. I said nothing about assigning "fault".I did not post my opinion, I copied and pasted the words directly from the document prepared and published by the State of California regarding disciplinary actions by school authorities. Their words...not mine.

Web Link

Maybe you two have a different view, but the law states it pretty clearly, the way I read it. Under any of those 4 circumstances, a student may be suspended or expelled. Follow the link above, go to page 20 and read it for yourselves.

I don't believe for a moment that relieves the parents of responsibility for their children's actions. Of course, they're responsible, and legal action could be taken against them in the case of Joey and Frankie. It does, in my opinion, give the school the authority to suspend or expel Joey, and perhaps even Frankie, if he engaged in the tussle with Joey.

t is precisely what this thread is about. Circumstance # 2, an act that occurred off-campus when the participants had left school attendance but had not yet reached home, occurred outside the Pleasanton library.

Posted by Carl
a resident of Stoneridge
on Feb 27, 2023 at 10:18 am

Carl is a registered user.

I agree that the school district can take disciplinary action on a student for acts that they commit on their way home from school. My objection is in the misconception that the district is responsible for the safe passage for every student from school to their home. With Joey and Frankie, the district can implement some sort of discipline on both for their actions since neither had arrived home, however is was not the district’s responsibility to prevent the fight from occurring once they left school.

Posted by SHale99
a resident of Village High School
on Feb 27, 2023 at 3:58 pm

SHale99 is a registered user.

>>is precisely what this thread is about.
Please re-read. A few posters have stated school district/staff are fully responsible for a child all the way home. That is not true. It is not educational code or the law. Once the child is off the campus via vehicle or walking and reaches public property they are no longer under the aegis of the school. Period.

Please don't confuse that with a child CAN have consequences for doing something 'off campus' or 'online'.


Posted by LanceM
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2023 at 10:58 am

LanceM is a registered user.

@SHale99 - Absolutely not true. Now yes, there are gray areas, but the schools definitely have a responsibility for certain actions off of school property. There is not 100% school immunity once a student touches "public" property. However this situation has only come about in recent years to help limit the schools responsibilites.

Posted by LanceM
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2023 at 11:04 am

LanceM is a registered user.

@Pleasanton Parent - I never stated the schools was responsible "all the way home." I stated (or tried to state) that the schools responsibility for situations off campus does not always end at the school boundary. Like most things, this comes down to the very specific situation and is usually resolved by the courts and there have definitely been cases where the schools had responsibility off campus. It of course differs state to state and CA has fairly recently limited schools liability/responsibility but not in all cases. It is certainly not a black or white situation (i.e. no responsibility once leaving campus or entirely responsible until students is at home or with parent) but PUSD also has a strong fear of litigation and will side with the most conservative interpretation of and regulations/laws.

Posted by SHale99
a resident of Village High School
on Feb 28, 2023 at 3:37 pm

SHale99 is a registered user.

>but the schools definitely have a responsibility for certain actions off of school >property.
Actually no. The school, the district, staff are not responsible for what a student does 'after' leaving the campus. YES, the child can be disciplined for something they do off campus, that is true.
However, when one says the school is responsible for the child after they leave campus, is wrong as that is not the educational code or current law. And to qualify when they leave at end of day, not during, which is a different animal all together.

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