When Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) Superintendent Kevin Skelly took the helm of one of the nation’s most prolific and successful public education systems seven years ago, he surely could not have known of the many obstacles that would lay in his path.
On Feb. 18, Skelly announced that he would retire at the end of the 2013-14 school year, effective June 30.
The Campanile would like to express its gratitude toward Skelly for his efforts during his term. Skelly was a well known adminstrator throughout the district. He frequently visited schools and was a common sight on the Palo Alto High School campus. His devotion to interacting with teachers and students on campus did not go unnoticed and provided a reassuring sentiment that the district office was devoted to its youngest constituents.
During the recent financial recession, Skelly did his best to minimize the effect that state and district budget cuts had on students. And, at the same time, he ushered in a new wave of massive construction projects, including Paly’s soon-to-be-completed revolutionary Media Arts Center and soon-to-be-constructed Athletic Complex.
Marred by several lawsuits and “politically incorrect” moments, Skelly’s tenure was not always an easy one. His efforts to close the achievement gap were lackluster and his faith in taking action to do so wavered at times.
Bullying at schools seemed to be an afterthought and protected against until a lawsuit and federal investigation commenced following bullying a bullying incident at Terman Middle School. Skelly’s view on how to handle bullying cases was unprofessional, according to many. In addition, the Department of Education opened an investigation into PAUSD during Skelly’s tenure.
There was considerable controversy over his handling of the bullying case. Such blemishes brought unrest to the community and its effects could have been lessened if there had been more transparency between the PAUSD Board of Education and local families.
Effective communication in the future will be crucial, but Skelly did make strides to amend problems created by his predecessor, Mary Frances Callan. The Campanile believes that PAUSD and our community is ready to bring in new leadership in the hopes of fostering a more diverse and open community in Palo Alto, one which Skelly certainly tried to promote, but was ultimately unsuccessful in achieving.
Our staff thanks and commends Skelly for his service to the school district and to the community for the past seven years and wishes him future success following his resignation, including more personal and family time.