BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer
The principal of Palo Alto High School is seeking to prevent the Palo Alto school district from complying with a Public Records Act request for her disciplinary record, according to the district.
Kim Diorio, who allowed a 17-year-old boy convicted of sexual assault to remain on campus last year in apparent violation of school policy, went on medical leave last week and said she would return in the spring.
Kelley Nelson, a Public Records Act compliance assistant for the district, said yesterday that Diorio had raised concerns about district disclosure of her disciplinary record.
On Feb. 28, the Post requested records of disciplinary action taken against Diorio in the last year.
“We have located a record for this request and Ms. Diorio has raised invasion of privacy concerns regarding district disclosure,” Nelson told the Post in an email.
The district has given Diorio until Monday to obtain a court order to prevent disclosure, if she chooses. Otherwise, the district will hand over the record to the Post.
The California Public Records Act of 1968 includes 76 exemptions, about half of which are intended to protect individuals’ privacy. The exemptions include “personnel, medical or similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
In these cases, the public interest in personnel records is weighed against public employees’ privacy interest.
A balancing test
“The invasion of an individual’s privacy must be balanced against the public’s need for the information,” reads a 2004 summary of the act published by the California Attorney General’s Office. “Only where the invasion of privacy is unwarranted as compared to the public interest in the information does the exemption permit the agency to withhold the record from disclosure.”
The district hasn’t said when, how or why Diorio was disciplined.
Her predecessor, Phil Winston, cited a life-threatening illness as the reason for his transfer to a special education teaching job at Jordan Middle School in 2013.
As it turned out, Winston had been accused of making dozens of sexually inappropriate comments to students and teachers while he was principal. The district paid him $150,000 to resign in 2015.
Diorio, who was Winston’s assistant principal, tracked dozens of complaints of misbehavior about him for three years. She didn’t report the complaints until 2013, telling Office for Civil Rights investigators that she was “uncertain about her obligation to do so and also had concerns about becoming the target of retaliation,” according to the federal agency.
Sex offender returns to campus
Last year, Diorio was one of the administrators who violated school district policy in allowing a student back on campus who was convicted of sexually assaulting a girl in the bathroom of a Palo Alto church in October 2015.
The boy was accused of a second sexual assault in October 2016 in a bathroom at Paly. But he didn’t leave the school until May, when Channel 2 revealed the conviction and his father enrolled him in a home-study program.
The school board discussed five cases of com- plaints against employees, including possible discipline or dismissal, in closed session at the last two board meetings, on Feb. 13 and Feb. 27.
Four such cases came up in closed session on Jan. 30. Seven were discussed on Jan. 16 and three on Dec. 19.
Diorio earned $218,360.69 in pay and benefits in 2016. She didn’t return a request for comment yesterday.
After suicide clusters, sex assaults, multi-million-dollar financial mistakes, OCR investigations — the only consequences is a letter in somebody’s file? Two seats on the school board are up for grabs in November. Time to throw the incumbents out.
We have some bright kids, and they come from families with bright parents. So why do they have to endure a school system that is run by idiots? I’d like to start seeing some accountability for when the district overspends its budget or fails to convene labor talks on the appropriate date. When principals allow convicted sex offenders to roam their campus — putting every girl at risk of assault — I’d like to know who made that decision. I have a right as a taxpayer and a citizen. I don’t want to see the people who are running the district hide their mistakes when they should be accountable to the public. If the board can’t provide this kind of “transparency,” then it’s time for them to go.
Unless there’s some improvements, it will be hard to support the next parcel tax or bond measure. We’ve already stopped giving to PIE because of the renaming issue. The district should have reached out to the community by putting the renaming on the ballot. It’s an example of the dysfunction that has been taking place in the past few years.
of course she’s fighting to keep her disciplinary record secret … she doesn’t want the community to know about it. I hope the Post pushes hard to get these files. The PAUSD isn’t very transparent and will fight tooth and nail to keep important information from the community. Don’t let this drop!!!
The school board is more concerned about virtue signalling (the school name changes) than protecting the safety of young girls (covering up for those who decided the sex offender should return to Paly). We need a school board that puts kids first.
It will be interesting to see what she’s trying to hide. Might explain what she’s trying to hide.
I wouldn’t want my personnel file given to the media either. I think employees should expect that should be kept confidential. There seems to be a lynch mob mentality in Palo Alto where everyone is out for blood. That has to stop or we’ll never get good people to run our schools.
It’s not a “Lynch mob mentality” to expect accountability from our PUBLIC school district. It’s been a year and we still don’t know who decided to ignore the district’s rules and allow this sex offender back at Paly.
It is apparent from the comments above that nobody on her knows the whole story. It is likely because what is published excludes or glosses over important details that present a more balanced story.
PAUSD Parent etc., do tell…what are the important details that justify a sex offender to return to school.
The school district may be run incompetently, but it delivers what it’s customers (wealthy, threatening parents) demand; a long list of acceptances to colleges and universities. The suicides are the result of the culture of test metric and acceptance letter measured achievement, which is, let’s face it, the main reason parents choose Palo Alto schools over actual learning and helping students become well rounded humans rather than AP producing robots.
We received a bulk email in 2015 making it clear that students would not be issued family attendance graduation tickets if they did not disclose what colleges that accepted them to the counseling office. That, in a nutshell, summarized the most important prioritization problem of this district, a prioritization which is what draws parents into the district in the first place and what the parents demand.