Sep 1 2017

Statement from Acting Mayor Robert McBain

September 1, 2017

The past days have been tumultuous, sad, and extremely difficult for Piedmont residents and for the city organization. The opinions and postings of former Mayor Jeff Wieler were in no way reflective of the values and sensibilities of this community. We, his colleagues on the City Council, took swift action to communicate our collective outrage and disappointment in his statements. At the same time we were clear and consistent in our requests that he should resign as Mayor and from his position on City Council. In the end, Jeff made a decision that was well-advised and in the best interests of all concerned.

I am proud of how the Piedmont community responded swiftly to the situation and affirmed our shared values. Our residents are intelligent, committed, and engaged in civic affairs. We have great schools, a history of sound leadership, and a City organization of talented people committed to providing excellent services. We are a resilient community and will be quick to get back to focusing our attention on all that makes this such an outstanding place to call home.

So, what is next? Our City Council will be meeting next Tuesday, [Sept. 5, 2017] with a full agenda. First up will be the election of Mayor and Vice Mayor. In accordance with the rules set out in our City Charter, the Councilmembers elected to these offices will serve through the general election of November 2018. In December 2018, the Council will again elect a Mayor and Vice Mayor from its members. As to the vacancy created by the resignation of Jeff Wieler from his seat on Council, the Charter directs the City Council to fill the vacancy within thirty days.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the Council will also consider a resolution reaffirming Piedmont’s commitment to inclusivity and opposing actions of hate groups, a contract for the development of a Master Plan for the Linda Beach Playfield, and bring renewed focus and discussion on the subject of a new aquatic facility for Piedmont. We look forward to taking care of the city’s business and working together to make this an even better community.

Acting Mayor Robert McBain

Aug 24 2017


Joe Welsh Chosen

August 23, 2017

On August 23, 2017, the Piedmont Unified School District announced the selection of Joe Welsh, who served until recently as the Head Coach for the District’s Girls’ Varsity Water Polo team, as the new Director of Athletics for Piedmont High School and Millennium High School. Mr. Welsh has extensive coaching experience, as well as an impressive background in both business and government service.

Mr. Welsh has coached water polo in San Diego and throughout the East Bay. In addition to coaching the Piedmont High School Girls’ Varsity team, he led a local 16- and-under club team to a top-ten Northern California finish and an appearance in the national Junior Olympics in Southern California. He also serves as a coach for USA Water Polo’s Olympic Development Program, running clinics and helping to evaluate and select young athletes for the Junior National water polo teams.

Most recently, Mr. Welsh served as a Foreign Service Officer for the US Department of State in Washington, DC, Oslo, Norway, and Lomé, Togo. In Togo, Mr. Welsh served as head of Embassy operations, managing over 100 employees and a $7 million budget. In this role, he received Meritorious Honors for exceptional integrity, and was a finalist for the US State Department Worldwide Operations Officer of the year. Mr.

Welsh also served as Acting Public Affairs Officer, working with local media and promoting democracy and economic development. In addition to his diplomatic service, he taught business classes at the local university.

In Norway, Mr. Welsh served as Deputy Consul, leading an office that processed visas and supported American citizens abroad. In that capacity, he worked with senior intelligence officials and represented the US government at cultural heritage and diplomatic events.

Prior to his diplomatic career, Mr. Welsh helped start a sports marketing agency for The Active Network, working with Fortune 500 companies to market amateur athletic events, teams, and leagues. Also, he served as a sales executive for IBM, where he earned President’s Club honors and graduated from IBM’s global sales school.

Mr. Welsh attended UC San Diego, where he was a four-year starter and All-American in water polo, and received an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. In high school, he was an All-American in water polo at the Menlo School on the peninsula.

PHS Principal Adam Littlefield and MHS Principal Shannon Fierro coordinated the recruitment and selection process. Administrators, members of the PHS Athletic Boosters, coaching staff, the City of Piedmont’s Recreation Director, and several student athletes participated in the interviews.

“Joe has a wonderful balance of passion for sports and the strong business and management skills necessary to effectively lead our athletics department,” said MHS Principal Shannon Fierro. “He impressed the interview panel with his multi-faceted background and commitment to high school athletics.”

PHS Principal Adam Littlefield also commented, “Joe has demonstrated success in all his previous endeavors. His attitude, skills, and knowledge will serve as the foundation for great work at Piedmont High School.”

The District’s Director of Athletics is responsible for: recruiting, hiring, supervising, and evaluating 175 coaches; developing and overseeing the Athletic Department budget; monitoring student eligibility; serving as the school representative of the Western Alameda County Conference; partnering with the PHS Athletic Boosters; coordinating team schedules, transportation, equipment, and supplies for 49 teams; and ensuring a safe and supportive program for over 500 student athletes. The Director of Athletics, which is a full-time administrative position funded jointly by the District and the Piedmont Education Foundation, requires a coaching certification. The position was broadly advertised, and there were 25 applicants.

“Mr. Welsh is an excellent leader for our student-athletes, coaches, and Piedmont Community,” Superintendent Randall Booker commented. “I’m thrilled to have him part

of the team, and look forward to working with him as participation and interest in athletics continues to grow across Piedmont.”

Mr. Welsh will start in this position on September 5, 2017, at an annual salary of $91,687. As part of the transition to his new responsibilities as the Athletic Director, he will shift from Head Coach to Assistant Coach for the Varsity Girls’ Water Polo Team. Genievieve Weed, who was team captain for the Cal women’s team last year and is one of the best players in the country, will become Head Coach.

“Athletics is a vital experience in the lives of our high school students, and I’m highly motivated to make a positive difference in our student athletes’ lives,” Mr. Welsh said. “I look forward to partnering and collaborating with the extended Piedmont community to support our students, continue our proud athletic tradition and instill positive life values in our student athletes.”


The Piedmont Unified School District is located in Piedmont, California, a city of approximately 11,000 residents in the San Francisco Bay Area. The outstanding staff provides a remarkable education and learning environment for all students. The residents of Piedmont demonstrate a strong sense of community and are committed to maintaining and enhancing educational programs, services and facilities.

Press Release Athletic Director 2017-18 Joe Welsh

Aug 19 2017
The School Board will consider the appointment of a Piedmont High School Athletic Director at 7:40 p.m. Wednesday, August 23 in the City Council Chamber at 120 Vista Avenue.  The meeting will be broadcast live on Channel 27 and from the City website.

Controversy has surrounded the position.  The previous Athletic Director recently resigned and a recruitment for a replacement drew over 20 applicants.

There is no staff report on the proposed appointee or the process.

The agenda for the August 23rd meeting states:

 VIII.A. Approve the Appointment of the Piedmont High School Director of Athletics 

Time Certain:  7:40 PM


Aug 19 2017

The following letter was sent to all Piedmont school families  from the School Board, the Superintendent, and key administrative personnel.

August 18, 2017

Dear PUSD Families,

The start of the school year is always an exciting time for educators as we rejoin our teams, set our goals and plans for the year, and welcome our students. This year is no exception. During the past few weeks, many of our staff conversations have focused on how we promote acceptance and kindness. We ended last year with a commitment to anti-bias training and education which we began this fall with a week-long training on the Social Justice Standards developed by Teaching Tolerance.

We were reminded last week of the importance of this work with the events in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Drawing from a letter sent jointly last year by the Board of Education and City Council, we will:

  • Stand united to promote acceptance and kindness.
  • Stand up to bigotry, hatred, intolerance, and violence.
  • Stand up for each individual in our diverse community.We know our students are able to engage in age-appropriate conversations about difficult issues, and staff are coming together to learn, share, and expand strategies to facilitate conversations about bias and social justice.When facilitating classroom conversations, teachers establish expectations for civil discourse; help students understand and respect different opinions; and thereby help prepare students of all ages for civic engagement in a diverse society.Teaching Tolerance suggests these strategies for all of us to speak up against bias and in support of social justice:Interrupt:Speak up against every biased remark—every time, in the moment, without exception. Think about what you’ll say ahead of time so you’re prepared to act instantly.
    Try saying, “I don’t like words like that,” or “That phrase is hurtful.”Question:Ask simple questions in response to hateful remarks to find out why the speaker made the offensive comment and how you can best address the situation.
    Try saying, “Why do you say that?” “What do you mean?” or “Tell me more.”Educate:Explain why a term or phrase is offensive. Encourage the person to choose a different expression. Hate isn’t behind all hateful speech. Sometimes ignorance is at work, or lack of exposure to a diverse population. Try saying, “Do you know the history of the word?”Echo:

    If someone else speaks up against hate, thank her or him and reiterate her or his anti-bias message. One person’s voice is a powerful start. Many voices together create change.  Try saying, “Thanks for speaking up, Allison. I agree that word is offensive and we shouldn’t use it.”

    Piedmont school leaders and staff will work together to use these tools and approaches to create an inclusive, safe and accepting educational environment for our children, educators, and staff. We ask for your partnership in this work. We will be communicating with you throughout the year as this work progresses and deepens.

    We welcome your questions and comments at any time.


    Sarah Pearson, Board President –  Amal Smith, Vice President – Cory Smegal, Member
    Doug Ireland, Member – Andrea Swenson, Member

    Randall Booker, Superintendent
    Song Chin-Bendib, Asst. Superintendent
    Stephanie Griffin, Director
    Julie Valdez, Director
    Pete Palmer, Director
    Michelle Nguyen, Director
    Michael Brady, Bond Program Coordinator Adam Littlefield, Principal
    Irma Muñoz, Assistant Principal
    Eric Mapes, Assistant Principal
    Shannon Fierro, Principal
    Ryan Fletcher, Principal
    Karyn Shipp, Assistant Principal
    Carol Cramer, Principal
    Michael Corritone, Principal
    Anne Dolid, Principal
    Kenneth Taylor, Assistant Principal

Aug 15 2017

Piedmont students went back to school on Tuesday, August 15, 2017.

To view the Piedmont Unified School District Instructional Calendar for the 2017 – 2018 school year, click > HERE.

Jul 23 2017

The Superintendent of the Piedmont Unified School District, Randall Booker, has announced that Victor Acuna will no longer be serving as Athletic Director.  For protection of both employer and employee, the reasons for the separation have not been publicly released.

Below, Acuna is highly praised in the School District “Press Release.” Acuna had been repeatedly, publicly criticized for various issues related to the athletic program and his initial selection.

The School District has announced the intention of filling the vacancy with a replacement athletic director through a widely publicized recruitment.

8/4/2017   11:55 PM Pacific

$74,068 – $103,048

Go to the end of the Press Release for further details.


Office of the Superintendent – 760 Magnolia Avenue – Piedmont, CA 94611 – 510.594.2614


July 22, 2017

On July 22, 2017, the Piedmont Unified School District announced the departure of Director of Athletics Victor Acuña, who has served with distinction since the Spring of 2016. Superintendent Randall Booker noted, “His dedication to our students and coaches has been exemplary and he improved every aspect of our athletics program, particularly in the areas of budgeting, coach development, and communications. Most importantly, he improved the overall student-athlete experience, and he will be sorely missed.” Mr. Acuña’s last day of service will be July 31, 2017.

Many high school athletes are already preparing for Fall sports, and the District is working to have a new Director of Athletics in place before the start of school. PHS Principal Adam Littlefield and MHS Principal Shannon Fierro, who have extensive experience with administration of student athletics, will coordinate the recruitment and selection process. Administrators, members of the PHS Athletic Boosters, Recreation Department, coaching staff, and several student athletes will participate in the interviews. Assistant Athletic Director Megan Hernandez will continue in her position for the next several weeks to help ensure a smooth transition.

The District’s Director of Athletics is responsible for: recruiting, hiring, supervising, and evaluating 175 coaches; developing and overseeing the Athletic Department budget; monitoring student eligibility; serving as the school representative of the Western Alameda County Conference; partnering with the PHS Athletic Boosters; coordinating team schedules, transportation, equipment, and supplies for 49 teams; and ensuring a safe and supportive program for over 500 student athletes. Over the past five years, the athletic program has grown to meet the increased interest of our high school students and community, adding three additional sports to serve over sixty students.

The Director of Athletics, which is a full-time administrative position funded jointly by the District and the Piedmont Education Foundation, requires a coaching certification and has a base salary of $74,068. The position will be broadly advertised, including posting on Ed-Join and the North Coast Section websites.

“We are looking for an exceptional candidate to continue the excellent work started by Mr. Acuña and Ms. Hernandez,” said Superintendent Booker. “The District will be searching for a new Director of Athletics with tremendous communication skills and who can support coaches to instill sportsmanship, teamwork, and self-discipline in our student athletes.”

*For a direct link to the Athletic Director application go to: 

For further information contact: Ms. Sylvia Eggert at 510.594.2614 or

*Updated July 25, 2017


The Piedmont Unified School District is located in Piedmont, California, a city of approximately 11,000 residents in the San Francisco Bay Area. The outstanding staff provides a remarkable education and learning environment for all students. The residents of Piedmont demonstrate a strong sense of community and are committed to maintaining and enhancing educational programs, services and facilities.

Jul 1 2017
In case you missed it, there was an interesting pair of front-page headlines in last week’s Piedmonter. City Council: “Budget OK’d; municipal sewer taxes rising in July.” Education: “District withholds teacher raises.” Let that sink in for a minute and then ask yourself – which would you choose, paying more for sewers or paying teachers what they are owed? To answer that, you need to know a little about Piedmont’s sewers and a little about the teacher retirement fund.
Like Piedmont overall, our sewers are the best in the East Bay. That was not true 20 years ago but after EPA made all East Bay cities replace their old lines, Piedmont increased the Sewer Tax and every few years replaces sections around town – this summer’s work will take the city to 80% completion, 8 years ahead of schedule. The Sewer Tax increase amounts to about $25 per parcel and raises an additional $60,000 to bring annual sewer revenue to $2.4M. Piedmonters rejected a 50% increase in the Sewer Tax a few years ago, and it’s a good thing they did – the need was not there.
The need is there for the School District. At a recent School Board meeting, the business official said that District teachers will not get their 2017-2018 salary increases in order to maintain educational programming. The reason – school districts must increase their annual contributions to the underfunded employee pension funds (CalPERS and CalSTRS). The state has mandated these annual increases from the districts going forward and they represent a real problem for maintaining the School District’s current programming – read Rick Rausenbush’s assessment at to see how bad it could get for the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD.)
So back to the question, sewers or schools? That seems like a no-brainer given the condition of our sewer system and the PUSD projected deficits but it’s not that simple. City revenues and School revenues are two different pots of money and they don’t share. That’s too bad because the mantra of any resident, new or old, is that they came to Piedmont for the schools and stayed for the community. With the robust housing market, the City’s revenues are at all time-highs, thanks to the home sale transfer tax and property reassessments. In addition, the City benefits from state revenue increases more than PUSD – the new gas tax will increase City funds for street paving (TBD) and permanent funding increases to state public safety funds will bring $100K to Piedmont. As a result, the City has added two positions and is giving out 2% raises. The picture is not so rosy for the School District – the school has cut positions and programming and, according to the Superintendent, more cuts may be needed. For more details, see city and school budgets at (City) and (School.)
Another way to understand this funding disconnect is to look at how the City and School District maintain required annual reserves. Each is required to maintain reserves as part of their budget – for the City, it is up to 25% of the General Fund, for the School District, minimum 3%. For the past several years, the City has met this cap by transferring over $1M in General Funds to special accounts – this year $800,000 to Facilities Maintenance, $400,000 to Equipment Replacement. For the School District it is just the opposite – the school budget had to be reduced by over $400,000 this year in order to meet their reserve requirements.
The Piedmont City Clerk recently proposed removing the 25% cap written into the City Charter so even more reserves could be held by the City. Instead, Council directed staff to undertake a review of the City Charter and address the 25% cap and other ambiguous Charter provisions. Perhaps there can be new Charter provisions so the City and School District can “share the wealth” so to speak. Such language won’t be forth coming from City Hall so residents should weigh in when this City Charter review comes to Council.
Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont Council Member
Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Jun 29 2017

On Wednesday, June 28th, the Board of Education of the Piedmont Unified School District voted unanimously to appoint Ms. Shannon Fierro as the new Principal for Millennium High School and the Piedmont Adult School effective July 1, 2017.

Ms. Fierro will succeed Sati Shah, who resigned his position as MHS Principal in June of this year to become the High School Principal & Associate Superintendent at Mt. Shasta High School in the Siskiyou Union High School District.

Ms. Fierro brings 20 years of experience as a teacher, administrator and coach across the US and overseas. Born and raised in the East Bay, Ms. Fierro went east for schooling, earning a Bachelor of Arts in French and Teaching Certification from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, a Master’s Degree in French Studies from New York University, NY, a Master’s Degree in International Education from Harvard University, Cambridge, MA and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Educational Administration from Pace University, NY.

“We are elated to have Ms. Fierro lead the Millennium High School community,” said Superintendent Randall Booker. “Her varied experiences with diverse populations, curriculum development, instructional coaching, and special education will all tremendously benefit our students,” commented Booker. “Her ties to the community, organizational skills, and attention to detail will also serve our strong Adult School Programs.”

Ms. Fierro began her career as a founding member of Tech Boston Academy, a technology-focused public high school supported through a Gates Foundation grant. In addition to teaching ESL, Spanish and French, she built a drama program and helped write city-wide language curriculum. She then moved to help grow a new public high school in New York City called the Bronx Academy of Letters. There she served as a teacher, mentor, special education coordinator and vice principal.

Her professional journey has also included over 7 years of district-level and teacher development work, including leading training for hundreds of new teachers with the New York City Teaching Fellows; building a formative assessment department for 5 years in San Francisco Unified and directing a team of instructional coaches with Aspire Public Schools in Oakland.

Most recently, Ms. Fierro has served as a Vice Principal of Berkeley High School, overseeing 900 students in the Berkeley International High School Program. As a Piedmont resident and mother of young PUSD students, Ms. Fierro is “humbled and excited to be able to bring [her] broad professional experience to serve my community and support the individual growth and success of the young people of Millennium High School”.


Millennium High School is located in Piedmont, California, a city of approximately 11,000 residents in the San Francisco Bay Area. MHS serves a broad cross-section of approximately 75 students with diverse learning styles, proficiency levels, and personal needs. Students at MHS complete the same graduation requirements as students at Piedmont High School.

The MHS curriculum is aligned with Content Standards for California Public Schools, and our courses satisfy UC “a-g” admission requirements. MHS prides itself on building an educational community, with an array of educational options and instructional strategies not readily available in traditional classrooms. Most MHS graduates pursue higher education at community colleges or four-year colleges and universities.


Jun 4 2017

Piedmont Post Claim about Measure H1 Plan is Inaccurate –

The May 31, 2017 Piedmont Post headline asserts: “School Board to spend $57 million on one building; Balance of $9 million from H1 bond not enough to pay for theater.”  Apparently, the Post reporter or editor failed to read the memo to the Board setting forth what was included in “Option 2B,” which the Board approved.

The memo is available online as the supporting material for the May 24, 2017 Meeting Agenda, Item VIII.A,>

Among other things, it clearly states: “OPTION 2B 3-Story Main High School Building on Magnolia + New Theater.”  And it includes: “Modernize the vacated 20s building, converting antiquated science labs to general classrooms.”  And further: “($526,500 in FFE for 27 new or modernized classrooms),” which are the classrooms in the new STEAM building, new AHT [Allan Harvey Theater] and modernized 20s building.

At this point, these are all estimated costs.  However, Piedmont residents should understand what is actually included in Option 2B.

Richard Raushenbush, Former Member, Piedmont Board of Education

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Jun 4 2017

May 24, 2017  – 5 reports  including opinions –

By Anna Schacker, Piedmont High School Senior –

On the evening of May 24, I attended a Piedmont Unified School District School Board meeting. The School Board meets every two weeks, with representatives from the Piedmont and Millennium High Schools’ ASB. The meeting begins with the representatives updating the School Board on recent events that have taken place at the high schools, such as sports games and ASB organized events. Then there is time for anyone who has submitted their name on a speaker card to speak in front of the Board on topics they want to draw attention to. In this specific meeting, the principal of Piedmont Middle School addressed all the teachers who were retiring at the end of this year. From Piedmont High School, both Ms. Simmons and Mr. Mahoney spoke about their retirement and were given gifts and a large round of applause.

Next, a middle school girl scout approached the stand to give her pitch on having shade over the bleachers at Witter Field. She felt that the bleachers get too hot during the day and cause fatigue and dehydration in athletes and their audiences. The Board happily heard her proposal, but also acknowledged that it may be unlikely due to the cost and time of the project.

Randall Booker, Superintendent of PUSD, spoke next on the school climate at Piedmont High School and Middle School. He brought up the concept of a ‘red line’, or a personal boundary, that some students fail to see or are passing without realizing it. Mr. Booker suggested that students need to both talk about their red lines and know how to protect them. He thought that starting a conversation in the classroom would encourage students to think more about theirs and others’ boundaries. In addition to students not always knowing how to discuss these topics, he noticed that teachers also feel uncomfortable discussing topics such as race in the classroom. So, over the summer, some of the teachers will take part in a training program that instructs them how to teach difficult topics in age-appropriate ways.

Once the floor was opened up to the speaker cards, a man named Samuel Daffner walked up to the stand. He had written a short speech addressing the recent acts of anti-semitism at Piedmont High School, where he has a daughter, who is a junior. Mr. Daffner was concerned about the degree of security at PHS, and people only treating the symptoms of the problem instead of looking for the root. Upon being interviewed by me, Daffner articulated that he was “concerned about how the School Board will handle the current situation of anti-semitism at PHS” and felt so strongly about it that he wanted to personally voice his concerns. He additionally stated that “there are certain decisions that the school has made over time which [he believes] have enabled an environment where anti-semitism is more likely.” While he felt that there are many “caring” and “concerned” people involved, and the School Board seemed “invested,” he also noted that he was surprised that “some of [the School Board] did not speak on the record at all.” Daffner is a big believer in having a community where he feels free to share his opinion alongside many others. However, to get his word out further, he plans to meet directly with School Board members, talk to his contact at ADL (Anti-Defamation League), and continue planning his move to Israel.

I personally feel that while the school has certainly taken huge steps in addressing the anti-semitism issue, there is still a lot more to be done. As a Jewish student at PHS, I have often felt like my experience is overlooked. I, along with several other Jewish students, have discussed an adjustment to the curriculum in regards to The Holocaust and other Jewish historical events. In my time in PHS history classes, I have felt like the curriculum was designed to make students feel distant from the events of The Holocaust, instead of feeling like America played an important role in harsh anti-semitism. It has become clear to me over the years that the history of Jewish Americans has not been taught sufficiently. Anti-semitism may seem to be less taboo because students are not aware of the horrid past of anti-semitism in America. With these slight alterations, we would hopefully be able to foster a more empathetic environment at PHS.


 By Sally Abel, Piedmont High School Senior – 

     On Wednesday, May 24th, the Board of Education gathered at the City Hall to discuss recent events and topics relating to the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD). The meeting is open to the community and is held in order to keep the public informed on what is going on around the different schools. The School Board holds these meetings one to two times a month and the meetings seem to be well attended with many different parents and members of the community flowing in and out throughout the meeting.

    The major topics that were addressed during the meeting on Wednesday, May 24, 2017,  were surrounding the recent issues that Piedmont High School has encountered regarding the topic of hate speech, discrimination, and general misconduct among students. Additionally, as a celebratory measure, teachers within the PUSD who were embarking on their final days of teaching within the School District were honored by the School Board. Both Alisha Lewis and Max Miller, who are high school students involved in ASB at Piedmont High School and Millennium High School, talked about what had been recently going on at each of the schools, what the student body was up to, as well as things that the schools were looking forward to as the end of the school year approached.

    The major topic of hate speech and discrimination at the high schools was addressed from a multitude of perspectives. Many government officials spoke regarding the topic, and it was touched upon by a significant amount of the audience who chose to take the floor and share their thoughts regarding the recent events that have taken place at the high school.

     Superintendent Booker started off the conversation by telling a story that really opened his eyes to one of the major underlying issues contributing to the hate speech and insensitive language that has been going on throughout the School District. When driving his son to school one day, his son spontaneously asked him who Michael J. Fox was. Mr. Booker answered the question, seemingly satisfying his son’s curiosity, and his son continued to scroll through his phone. When Mr. Booker inquired as to why his son was wondering, his son answered, saying that he saw someone comment on social media “you type like Michael J. Fox.”  Mr. Booker asked his son if he understood why that was an insult, and his son answered no. In order to clear up the situation, Mr. Booker translated the insult to something more personal to his son, asking him how he would feel if that same person was making fun of a family member’s’ disability. This made his son mad.  Ultimately, what Mr. Booker took away from this conversation was the fact that within our society today, kids, teens, young adults, and even adults struggle to establish a “red line” within their social atmosphere. He believes that if we somehow as a district can work to help children create a “red line” and learn how to stand up and defend that “red line,” we would solve a lot of issues within the community. Ultimately, student education regarding topics like the ones that have recently surfaced at the high school level would largely be beneficial to avoiding any sort of discrimination or hate speech within the community.

    Kirby, co-president of the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Club (PADC) brought forward the fact and idea that this hate speech that has recently been encountered is not just a problem that the school has to deal with, it is a community wide problem that everyone needs to be aware of and needs to address. Looking at the issue from the perspective of the diversity club, Kirby also believed that diversity education would help to solve many issues. Ideally, diversity education would: 1. Support the development of the whole child, 2. Provide students with the language and tools to discuss topics of diversity, and 3. Develop a K-12 curriculum focusing on race/ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexual orientation/identity.

    Many voices of the community were heard throughout the duration of the meeting, including Mr. Daffner as well as Mrs. Griffith. Mr. Daffner strongly believed that it was important to acknowledge the historic problems that Piedmont has encountered regarding race and religious issues, as well as how these issues are perpetuated within the community. Mrs. Griffith said she hoped to raise her kids with values that emphasized the importance of treating everyone equally, and fostering the idea that everyone within the community is worth fighting for and understanding.

    Personally, I agree with all four of the perspectives listed above. Kirby, co-president of the PADC and his thoughts on diversity education really made a lot of sense to me. In my personal opinion, I believe that if people are given the tools to discuss sensitive and unknown topics, such as those of race, religion, and gender related topics, then individuals will have the ability to speak about them with a sufficient knowledge base. This could ultimately avoid language that can be deemed hateful or discriminatory because hopefully, people will have the proper education to talk about things in an adult manner. Additionally, through education, I think that we could address Mr. Booker’s point of the importance of kids establishing a “red line” and learning how to stand up for that “red line.”

    Following the meeting, I talked to Hillary Cooper about her incentive for being at the meeting. Hillary is a representative of the Piedmont High School Parents Club.  She recently “attended to show support for the District and what they are doing to address the recent hate speech incidents at the high school.” Though Ms. Cooper did not talk during the meeting, she came and “listened so that [she] could be aware of their needs and their issues.” Additionally, Mrs. Cooper plans to continue attending School Board meetings in order to support “plans to improve the facilities at the high school.”


by Nick Price, Piedmont High School Senior –

On Wednesday May 24, 2017, I attended a Board of Education meeting in the City Hall Council Chambers. This panel of elected officials and Superintendent, Randy Booker, meets every other week to discuss all facets of the Piedmont Unified School District.

During this particular meeting, a number of important topics were discussed. To start the evening, Max Miller, the Vice President of ASB at Millennium highlighted a few of the activities going on at his school. A few notables: the annual Fun in the Sun service learning day, ASB elections, and upcoming graduation in the Veteran’s Hall. Alisha Lewis, a representative of Piedmont High School’s ASB, talked about the recent senior service learning trip to the Oakland Zoo, Day on the Green, and a successful prom.

Following the school reports, the School Board and fellow teachers honored the retiring staff members with words of praise before Superintendent Booker began speaking on the current climate at the High School. With the recent surfacing of discriminatory behavior, Mr. Booker stressed the importance of establishing a “redline”. He continued by saying that we not only need to establish a line that cannot be crossed, but also have to have the courage to stand up for it. He added that the school district needs to work to support students and equip them with tools to protect their redline. Before inviting up Dr. Wozniak, he ended by acknowledging that a transition to a more positive school climate will be a long term change and reiterated the importance of finding the District’s redline along with that of the students.

Dr. Cheryl Wozniak, Title IX Coordinator and Director of Curriculum, then outlined the actions the District is taking in order to combat the recent racism. The projects include: professional development to support the teachers, student engagement and education, and a more efficient online form to report issues. Wozniak then invited the Director of the Wellness Center, Michael Brady to speak.  He spoke about the Wellness Center’s role of providing emotional support for students. He said that the Wellness Center is devoted to revamping the Youth Educators program, as there have been reports of discrimination at the middle school.

The School Board then opened up the conversation to a well-attended audience of parents, students, community leaders, and officials. Three students involved with the club Voco at Piedmont High School reported on the success of a forum that they held. In addition, the co-president of Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Club focused on the importance of celebrating diversity. He added that an appreciation of diversity supports the development of the “whole” child and that the school district has an obligation to implement curriculum focusing on race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. The School Board received praise for their handling of the situation by numerous attendees, including those of whom gave the most criticism. Both the Police Chief and PRD Director offered their joint support for the school and the community.

I found the conversation to be very constructive, offering people more insight into different perspectives around the community. I think it is essential that children are taught elements of diversity at a young age. In 4th grade around MLK Jr. Day, my teacher had our class make a wreath of hands. All of the hands resembled a different skin tone. The fact that I still remember this activity today is a great indication that teaching diversity early is, in fact, effective.

Overall, I found it very impactful to see so many different people attend the meeting and offer their point of view. It was a great experience to be part of.


by Nicholas Lee, Piedmont High School Senior –

The beginning of the May 24, 2017 School Board Meeting was used for congratulating retiring teachers such as Ms. Simonds and Mr. Mahoney (38 years at Piedmont Schools). Many people gave speeches about these retiring teachers to honor them for their service and dedication.

Next, a Girl Scout wanted support for her project to provide shade at the Witter baseball and softball bleachers. However, the cost would be an estimated $50,000 and take 5 years. How can building shade for the bleachers take 5 years? I believe I could round up some friends and do it in 1/10th of that time and cost.

A former Piedmont Post employee said he received emails that a Piedmont Post manager made inappropriate actions and only hires female interns. This speaker stopped his comments as School Board President Sarah Pearson said the time limit was up.

Superintendent Randy Booker wants students to not be bystanders when they witness acts of discrimination. He wants students to find their red line or moral line and clearly define it. Booker suggested three steps to help combat discrimination: 1. Conversation about redline 2. Community engagement, not just the students 3. Student Education.

A security consultant is reviewing each Piedmont school to install more safety measures in case of an emergency.

KTVU [Channel 2] interviewees on discrimination at Piedmont High School have received backlash and threats. The police are investigating whether this is a hate crime.

Richard Raushenbush, former Member of the School Board, was there because he serves on a facilitating committee to upgrade the security of our schools. They are continuing to work on ways to provide a more secure learning environment.

The School Board meetings are for community members to stay informed about the schools and also participate and give suggestions.


by Olivia Creighton, Piedmont High School Senior –

On May 24, 2017, I attended a meeting of the Piedmont School Board, The main topics of the evening were the retiring teachers from the elementary schools, middle school, and high school as well as the recent acts of anti-semitism and racism at Piedmont High School.

The meeting began with Gabriel Kessler, the vice president of APT, speaking to honor this year’s teacher retirees.  Kessler made a touching speech about the teachers dedication to their profession and their students.  Following Kessler, Max Miller and Alisha Lewis, vice presidents of Millennium High School and Piedmont High School student government respectively, spoke about recent activities at the high schools.

Miller talked about the recent service learning at Millennium in which all Millennium students participated in putting together toiletry kits with positive notes for homeless teenagers.  Millennium students found the experience to be fun and rewarding, especially when they got to go to Fun in the Sun afterwards, an afternoon at the Piedmont pool with food and games.  Millennium also had teacher appreciation day recently when students signed cards for their teachers to show their gratitude for all the hard work they do.  Millennium held their elections and elected a new secretary, vice president, and two co presidents.

Next, Alisha Lewis, Piedmont High School’s vice president, explained how the school has been very busy as the year comes to an end.  Piedmont High School also had teacher appreciation day and teachers received flowers from their students.  Some of the seniors went on a service learning trip to the Oakland Zoo where they helped to clear invasive species from a hillside and then spent free time exploring the zoo.  ASB hopes to continue the tradition of service learning.  After the zoo, the school had Day on the Green where ASB provided food, music, and bouncy houses for the students to enjoy and celebrate the end of the year.  In anticipation of finals stress, ASB brought in a therapy dog for students to relax with, a method they hope to implement more widely in the future during more stressful times of the year.  Lewis also spoke about how several of the retiring teachers have had a significant impact on her high school career and thanked them for their work.

Following Lewis’s honoring of the retiring teachers, Superintendent Randall Booker presented each of the retiring teachers with gifts.  Speeches were made in honor of Leslie Estrada, a first grade teacher, and Ms.Beverley, an occupational therapist, both retiring from Beach Elementary School.  Next, Ryan Fletcher, the principal at the middle school, spoke in honor of Ms. Cartusciello.  Then, Eric Mapes spoke in honor of retiring calculus teacher Ed Mahoney and ceramics teacher Susan Simonds.  After all the teachers had been thanked for their service, the meeting moved on to different topics.

Sophie Eng, a Piedmont Girl Scout working towards her silver award, spoke about her proposed service project.  Eng hopes to build shade over the bleachers at the Witter softball field.  Eng is concerned with the possible consequences of softball fans spending too much time sitting in the sun and heat.  She hopes to remedy these issues with her project.

After Eng spoke, Scott Prosterman, an ex-reporter for The Piedmont Post, delivered some unsettling information about its management practices and issues involving teachers, coaches, athletic directors, interns, and student athletes.  School Board President Pearson cut Prosterman off because he had exceeded his three minutes of allotted speaking time.  Prosterman was the only person asked to stop speaking during the meeting.

Superintendent Booker pivoted the conversation to the topic of the recent acts of anti-semitism and racism at Piedmont High School by telling a story about how his son is not fully aware of what is offensive and what is not offensive, concluding that parents, teachers, and administrators need to play a greater role in teaching children what is okay and not okay to say.  Booker announced the creation of a “working group,” which will be comprised of members of the community and will meet four or five times a year to discuss issues of discrimination and possible solutions.

Carol Wozniak, the Title IX coordinator for the District, followed up to echo Booker’s statements.  She outlined professional development efforts being undertaken at the elementary schools to help teachers and administrators better cope with issues of race and gender.  She also talked about the implementation of restorative justice at the elementary schools, actions that can be taken after a discriminatory incident which are not punitive, but aim to bring justice fairly for both the victim and the perpetrator.

Remaining on the topic of positive responses to the issues, high school students Nina Adarkar, Kay Sibal, and Maya Guzdar spoke about the recent Share Your Voice event they had planned and executed, where high school students were provided with a safe space to share their thoughts and feelings on the issues of discrimination at Piedmont High School.  The club they run, Voice Cooperative, hopes to work more closely with the School Board in the future to bring in more diverse speakers for the students.

Kobi Ashani, Co-president of the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee, spoke on the importance of diversity training and acceptance.  He admonished Jewish students for forming factions at the school at a time when the student body needs to come together.

Following Ashani, Mr. Daffner spoke, stating that racism and anti-semitism were old problems in Piedmont, and, at the moment, it is unclear which issues need to be addressed.  Daffner believes that the District must identify the true problems, eliminate any actions they may be taking which contribute to or create discrimination in the community, such as the annual Christmas concert and the Community Church. He asked that the schools make stronger efforts to ensure the physical safety of students at school.

Sara Lillevand, the Director of the Piedmont Recreation Department, affirmed her support for efforts being made to combat discrimination and offered the assistance of the Recreation Department in any way possible.

Jeremy Bowers, the Police Chief, reaffirmed the Police Department’s support of efforts being made and stated that the police do not want to seek criminal action against the perpetrators of the anti-semitic or racist acts but instead want to find educational solutions to the issues.

Jen Cavanaugh, a member of Piedmont City Council, was in attendance at the meeting.  She said she was there “to show support for the community, administration, and School Board.”  She says she knows the incidents were not a one time thing and she hopes to be part of the ongoing effort to end discrimination in the Piedmont School District.

The issues of anti-semitism and racism at Piedmont High School certainly were not a one time thing.  Even after the assembly and awareness campaign, anti-semitism is still occurring on campus.  It is important that the administration makes it clear that there will be punishment for anti-semitic acts.  Awareness training should continue to make students aware that their actions cause harm to others and empathy should be at the heart of each decision made.

There are varying degrees of discrimination occurring at Piedmont.  There has always been unspoken discrimination and alienation of Jewish students and students of color by their peers and the community at large, but now it seems that the discrimination has escalated to something far more vicious than the District has seen.  When students are learning hate from home and the media, they are choosing to subscribe to the hate over the education received in school. It is imperative that clear punishment be outlined for these vicious acts so that at the very least, Jewish students and students of color do not have to endure this abuse.

The Piedmont Unified School District’s School Board is a government body focused on addressing issues in the Piedmont School District.  The School Board meets every two weeks. 

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.

To view and/or listen to recordings of the entire May 24, 2017 Board of Education meeting, readers are directed to the City website at: