Administrator involved in civil suit hired by school district

Jason Krolikowski. San Ramon Valley High School photo.

BY SARA TABIN
Daily Post Staff Writer

Palo Alto’s school board agreed unanimously to hire an administrator who was named in a lawsuit against the San Ramon Valley School District that was settled for $665,000.

Jason Krolikowski was hired as the district’s new director of student services. He was previously principal of San Ramon Valley High School.

In 2017, Nathaniel Yu sued the San Ramon Valley district after he had his junior class president title removed because the district thought a parody video he made was offensive. The video featured two Muslim Afghan-American students as villains for a James-bond style film. Yu argued that the district violated his First Amendment rights by punishing him for the video.

Krolikowski was one of many individuals named in the suit. Krolikowski was not the principal of Yu’s school at the time.

Palo Alto Superintendent Don Austin told the Palo Alto school board on Tuesday night that he stands 100% behind hiring Krolikowski. Austin said Krolikowski has experience from eight years as a high school principal and comes with strong letters of recommendation.

A few residents went to the microphone at Tuesday’s meeting to say that they had understood that Krolikowski was sued because he harassed an Asian-American student, which was not the case, according to Yu’s complaint.

Eileen Kim said she is disturbed that the district was on the path to hiring someone who doesn’t have a clean history and was involved in a lawsuit. She said the lawsuit alleged that an Asian-American student had his rights taken away by the school district.

Board member Ken Dauber said he is confident that Krolikowski is a good candidate. He said it is not realistic to expect the district to find a candidate who has never done anything that someone didn’t like. He said the district rigorously investigated Krolikowski’s history.

Shounak Dharap said the board would never hire someone if there was evidence that they discriminated against Asian-Americans, but there isn’t evidence that Krolikowski has done that.

10 Comments

  1. San Ramon pays $665,000 to settle this case. That tells me that the Nathaniel Yu had a solid argument about his rights being violated because the amount is more than what somebody would pay to make a case “go away”. What role Krolikowski played in this case, since he was one of many administrators involved, is hard to discern.

    One would hope that Austin would have investigated this case and determined Krolikowski’s role in wronging this youth. PAUSD should have obtained more than just the complaint and the settlement, but examined the entire public file. My bet is that Austin called Krolikowski after the allegations broke, asked him if he did anything wrong, Krolikowski denied everything, and Austin was satisfied with that. What was Austin going to do? Admit he hadn’t done his due diligence and put the hiring on hold?

    And the school board, as evidenced by their comments last night, didn’t care either. All they knew is what Austin had told them during an illegal executive session before the regular meeting. I say illegal because there was no executive session noticed on the Krolikowski matter. The Brown Act requires a public notice of a closed session, and a public hearing prior to the closed meeting where the public can comment on the decision to go into a closed session.

    Blatantly violating the law signals to other PAUSD employees that they can pick and choose which laws they obey. They’ll say: If the superintendent and elected school board can hold an illegal meeting, we can cut corners when it comes to, oh I don’t know, Title IX.

    Anyway, it would be useful to know if Austin was aware of the suit. If he knew, why didn’t he tell the board earlier?

    Then again, the allegations in the suit might not trouble Austin and the board. They’re not big on protecting the rights of students or parents, so to them this might just be a case of “so what?”

  2. Jennifer DiBrienza said that the board’s job is to let staff do their job. If your job is to let staff do their job, then why do we need you?  What is your value add?  If all you do is agree with staff, then you are superfluous.  

    Are you aware of how much research staff did?  Did anyone reach out to the Yu family to hear their side or are we only taking the side of those from the school?  Given that employers cannot give any information on an employee outside of the dates of service, how much information did they uncover?

    As for Don Austin who said dismissively that “perfection is the expectation” as if the standards are too high.  No, perfection is not the expectation.  However, we also don’t expect the district to hire someone who has shown neglect towards students in the past and put them in charge of Student Services.  I know he’s a big football guy and that probably got Don all excited that they could reminisce about their old football days, but that shouldn’t qualify as a reason to hire someone.

    Austin also says that “Mr. Krolikowski’s involvement in this case was a tiny sliver of an amended claim.”  The claim was amended to include Krolikowski when Krolikowski became principal specifically because harassment occurred after Krolikowski became principal and he did not address  “threats of violence and death” against the student and his family.

    Yeah, that sounds like a stand up guy that we want at our school in charge of students.

    Amazing that people are shocked that the PAUSD culture doesn’t change.

    Dharap who campaigned that he would be the voice of students, caved.
    Di Brienza, the only member with a child in the district, caved.
    Dauber, who campaigned against bullying, caved.
    Collins, who makes big claims about how far they’ve come since the OCR investigations, caved.
    Baten-Caswell, who already has a foot out the door, caved.

    Donny Boy, you now have a buddy to hang out with and talk sports.  I’m sure we’ll you two arm in arm at the football games.

  3. Let me tell you one thing. Don Austin is one seedy [expletive]. Can’t stand that guy. I can guarantee you that parents are also livid with his poor administrative decisions. Not just teachers.

  4. Granted Palo Alto has its controversial superintendents and their dumb dumb decisions.

    I’m looking back, why was there backlash around Superintendent Kevin Skelly? I hadn’t moved here during that time, but I did see the mess behind Max McGee.

  5. It seems many school districts just continue to hired the same type of administrators people with mad egos who think they are untouchable. Has anyone seen the movie BAD EDUCATION…this could be a case of art imitating life now playing in California, up and down the peninsula, from San Mateo County County community college District to Sequoia unified and heading south coming to a District near you. FOR SHAME!

  6. As a mother of a student in San Ramon Valley High School, that Mr. Krolikowski was the principal, we and the majority of the parents of the San Ramon Valley High School would love to have him back and feel like our high school has lost a great principal to Palo Alto.
    I have followed the details of this case from the beginning and the majority of the comments online have completely distorted the details. The kid who’s parents sued the district, went against the school rules and lost his title of president because of that. This case is completely ironic, because the parents claimed racism against Asians while backing their kid to be racist towards other minorities. After the lawsuit, the kid got the title back but the parents continued the lawsuit and changed it to freedom of speech case with the help of an attorney from Texas and wouldn’t back down until they had extracted over $600,000 in the middle of the pandemic from our school district.
    I guess they’re teaching their kid to go against school and work place rules and just claim freedom of speech when someone is taking disciplinary l actions, I wonder where these freedom of speech cases eventually would result in.
    Should it include employers cursing at their bosses and claim freedom of speech when they don’t get the promotion? Should we let kids scream and call everyone names in the classroom while the teachers and principals are not allowed to take disciplinary actions?
    This whole lawsuit was unnecessary and should have been used as a teachable moment for the kid instead of doubling down and backing up
    and endorsing his bad choices.

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