Oct 26 2017

Parents Outraged Over History Teacher’s Continued Employment

School District found Cowherd “acted inappropriately and unprofessionally in his conduct as a certificated employee for the District.”

On Wednesday, October 25, 2017, at their meeting in City Hall, the Piedmont Board of Education was met by outraged parents demanding correction of what they considered to be inappropriate behavior by Piedmont High history teacher Mark Cowherd.

There were calls for Cowherd’s immediate firing based on a long term problem of sexual harassment, inappropriate jokes and actions. Attractive females were frequently found to be targets for Cowherd. One parent from the District Attorney’s Office stated the District should remove Cowherd and stand up to any lawsuit.

Emotions ran high as the packed Chamber’s attendees applauded long and loud after each speaker described the issues. The poor example set by Cowherd was felt to be totally unacceptable as well as a negative influence on the youth of Piedmont.

During a closed session of the Piedmont School Board on September 20 teacher Mark Cowherd’s evaluation by the Piedmont Unified School District was considered.  No action was taken during that meeting according to District Superintendent Randall Booker and as reflected in the public record of the meeting.

Channel 5 KPIX covered Cowherd concerns with an interview of Superintendent Booker.  View it HERE.

The East Bay Times reported on the Board meeting of October 25, 2017 when the organized effort by parents during the Communications and Announcements segment of the meeting informed the School Board of their serious concerns.   (See report HERE.)

Mark Cowherd has taught Advanced Placement United States and European history courses for many years at Piedmont High School, and he has long been a controversial teacher.   Revered by many students, some of whom went to the September 20 Special Meeting to defend Cowherd, and greatly disliked by others, who considered his behavior toward students and his remarks made in the classroom to be inappropriate.

In the past, parents and students have written letters to administrators, the School Board, and other parents, expressing concern over Cowherd’s behaviors: many thought their voices were not heard.  Some students and parents have indicated fear of retaliation with lower grades or no college recommendations for the high level advanced classes Cowherd teaches.

The administration, although informed of concerns, has consistently allowed Cowherd to continue teaching, and “welcomed him back” following a disciplinary three week leave of absence.

Parents and students have been aware for “at least five years” about Cowherd’s inappropriate behaviors, yet Cowherd has continued to teach within the District.

President of the School Board, Sarah Pearson, noted documentation of inappropriate behavior by District employees was needed by the School District.  She welcomed communications to the Board.

Some have questioned Cowherd’s exclusive European student trips that are unauthorized by the School District. 

For years, during Winter Break, Cowherd has led self-initiated and self-sponsored trips to Europe exclusively for his AP European History students.  Each student pays their own way, presumably their costs cover Cowherd’s travel costs as well.  Although his trips are not under the auspices of the School District, the facilities of the District and student information are used to develop the trips. For instance, the orientation and recruitment of student travelers has been conducted in the High School, yet the District provides no legal protections or oversight for the trips.

Update 10/27/17: Superintendent Randall Booker places Cowherd on a second leave of absence.  Read the report HERE.


Dispatcher 420 -3000

Police Chief Jeremy Bowers  jbowers@piedmontpd.or

420 – 3011



Sarah Pearson

Amal Smith
Vice President

Doug Ireland

Cory Smegal

Andrea Swenson

To view the COMMUNICATIONS AND ANNOUNCEMENT segment of the online video of the meeting go to http://piedmont.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=1680

To read and learn more about Mark Cowherd go to: > http://www.ratemyteachers.com/mark-cowherd/947515-t

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