Robotics team head coach goes on leave after bullying complaints

An image from the Paly Robotics Team website.

By the Daily Post staff

The new head coach of the Palo Alto High School robotics team — who was accused by parents and students at a school board meeting of intimidating, harassing and bullying students — has gone on a paid leave of absence, Superintendent Don Austin said today (Oct. 14).

“The leave is non-disciplinary and allows us time and space to investigate the concerns raised,” Austin told the Post in an email.

At a school board meeting Tuesday (Oct. 9), three team captains, two of their parents and a boosters volunteer complained about Head Coach Kathleen Krier.

Krier has declined to comment on the allegations.

“(Krier) has exhibited some really concerning behavior that has definitely affected my well-being and ability to concentrate in school,” said Paly junior Lawrence Chang, the robotics team’s build captain.

Chang, who has participated on the robotics team since his freshman year, said Krier had pulled him aside on Sept. 22 and “started breaking down in front of me.”

“There was a lot of emotionally charged speech. She was in tears and kind of telling me how hard her life was coming to this new city, being a new head coach and so forth,” Chang said.

Krier then spewed “a lot of direct insults toward me and the team in general about how we’re giving her such a hard time,” Chang said.

Co-captain Bryan Yang, a senior, said the team feels “intimidated, scared and bullied” by Krier and as a result has a feeling of anxiety when going to the robotics lab.
 Krier also threatened to call security on Yang, and threatened to kick him off the team three times, said Co-captain Jennifer Xu, a senior.

Students have met with several administrators, including Paly Principal Adam Paulson and assistant principals Jerry Berkson and Tom Keating, but said the meetings haven’t gotten them anywhere. Xu said that every time she met with an administrator, it felt like she was starting from “square one.”

Leonard Ely III, the treasurer of the Paly Robotics boosters club, said the students were told their parents were not allowed to attend their meetings with administrators and that they were told different things depending on which administrator they met with.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Krier last taught at Monte Vista High School in Danville, where she started in August 2014. She became the head coach of Paly’s robotics program in August.