Baten Caswell to run for county Board of Education

Daily Post Staff Writer

Melissa Baten Caswell won’t seek a fourth term on the Palo Alto school board this fall and is instead running for a seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Education.

Baten Caswell has been on the board since 2007 and is seeking fellow Palo Alto resident Grace Mah’s seat on the board of education. Baten Caswell filed papers in April that indicated she would run for the county post.

Mah has been on the board for over a decade and has voted on controversial issues such as letting Bullis open up a charter school in Los Altos.

Baten Caswell has seen her own share of controversy on the Palo Alto school board, including the renaming of what’s now Greene and Fletcher middle schools, replacing two superintendents, and the district’s widely criticized response to sex assaults on the Palo Alto High School campus, among other things.

On her website, Baten Caswell says she is running to “work collaboratively to bring about the change we need to make sure all Santa Clara County kids thrive.”

Baten Caswell also says on her website that she thinks the county board of education — which oversees things such as special education, charter school, childcare and public health in schools — ought to coordinate resources between districts.

She already has an endorsement from Santa Clara County Board of Education President Claudia Rossi, along with numerous local education officials and the California Teachers Association union.


  1. Melissa is a teacher’s union supporter, which is bad overall, and bad for someone who may have a role overseeing charter schools. It’s too bad Melissa has lost her way.

  2. Melissa’s opponent is Grace Mah, an unabashed supporter of charter schools, which devastate districts by robbing them of classroom space and dollars. Grace threatened to start a charter in Palo Alto if she didn’t get her Mandarin immersion program and she was one of the original signers of the Bullis Charter School (BCS) petition in Los Altos, even though she didn’t have kids there. In short, she’s a strong supporter of charters no matter how much damage they do their local district. Glad to see Melissa is running.

  3. Mah forced PAUSD to start a MI program because she didn’t want to pay for her own child to have these classes. Very manipulative. Will be happy to vote against her this fall.

  4. This is great news for PAUSD that Melissa is leaving! She has done nothing to improve PAUSD and allowed the disastrous remote school debacle last spring – and it’s not looking good for PAUSD students this fall either. She does not believe in accountability for the local public schools even when they fail our students, as was crystal clear this spring and with the persistent achievement gap in PAUSD. We need an upgrade to the PAUSD and to save Santa Clara County from Melissa, so that her incompetence won’t lead to the decline of SCC public schools, too.

  5. Why does the County Board of Education exist? Name one thing they’ve done to help kids in Palo Alto? Sounds like a do-nothing, tax-wasting San Jose-focused bureaucracy. Maybe it’s a home for retired politicians to hang out?

  6. I have a hard time ever electing anyone on the school board that allowed a sexual predator on the Palo Alto High campus. I realize the board members all shifted the blame to other people, but the buck stops with the school board. None of them will ever get my vote. Period.

  7. @Annie – charters are public schools, so they cannot rob public schools of anything. They are, however, mainly NON UNION, so the TEACHERS’s UNION opposes them. Charters represent choice for children who are stuck in failing schools, like EPA’s ravenswood, East San Jose and other areas, and choice for parents who don’t want to be trapped in traditional, unionized public schools, which seem to care more about teacher’s union wishes than educating students. Go Grace Mah, go charters. Bullis Charter’s enrollment in Los Altos was capped by the Los Altos School District at 1100 as the district/teacher’s union was/is afraid of losing all their students. Bullis Charter outperforms PAUSD academically, and outperforms PAUSD for Socio economically disadvanted and minority students by a wide margin. Many families wanted to switch to online charter schools this spring when school districts provided little instruction — but were blocked, by the teacher’s union and their political allies.

  8. Katie claims “charters are public schools, so they cannot rob public schools of anything.” Au contraire, they get buildings and operational funding from the home district. Don’t believe me? Go visit Blach or Egan schools and you’ll see the Bullis classrooms.

    Most charter schools open in places where students are getting a poor education from the traditional public school. That’s why charters started. But in Los Altos, the situation is upside down. LASD is a high-performing district. The promoters of Bullis, families of some of the wealthiest tech nouveau riche, had their application for a charter school rejected twice by the LASD board. Then they took it to the county Board of Education, which approved it and forced LASD to accept it as their charter school.

    I do agree with Katie about one thing, the power of the teachers unions. These unions run our local school districts, and they do see charters as a threat. But Bullis’ opponents aren’t really the teachers union, it’s the community at large that resented being forced by the County Board of Education to accept a charter that cost their district portions of two school campuses and large amounts of money every year.

    I could go on and on, but I’ll stop. I just don’t like to see comments that re-write history.

  9. @Michael W – charters are public schools, so again, they cannot rob anything from public schools. Of course they should get the use of public buildings and public funding; they are public schools educating your neighbors children. Both Bullis and LASD schools are public schools.

    There are over 1100 public school students being educated at Bullis. That’s potentially 1100 less LASD students — yes those students will need to use public facilities and buildings just like any other school district.

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