News

Ravenswood schools' superintendent blasts Menlo Park mayor

Calls any attempt to secede Menlo Park schools from Ravenswood district a 'power grab'

The superintendent of the Ravenswood City School District sent a strongly worded letter Tuesday, Sept. 12, to Menlo Park Mayor Kirsten Keith, telling her in no unclear terms that any attempt to "secede Belle Haven from the Ravenswood City School District" will be "met with resistance at every step."

Ms. Keith has not made any attempt to withdraw Menlo Park schools from the Ravenswood City School District – and wouldn't have the power to do so anyway, since the matter falls under the school districts' jurisdiction. She has scheduled a community meeting on Monday to discuss potential options to improve educational quality in the city of Menlo Park.

Ms. Keith says she has not done any of the things alleged in Superintendent Gloria Hernandez-Goff's letter.

In an interview, Ms. Keith noted that, for years, residents have come to the City Council during its public comment portion and asked for something to be done to increase educational equality across the city. The council can't respond to public comments, Ms. Keith noted, and said she hoped Monday's community meeting would help start an "open dialogue."

"I don't know what people are going to say. I know what they've said at council meetings and that's it," she said. "Dr. Hernandez and I and the rest of the council all care about quality of education for our students."

The community meeting will be held Monday, Sept. 18, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Menlo Park Senior Center at 100 Terminal Ave.

Two elementary schools in Menlo Park are in the Ravenswood City School District: Belle Haven and Willow Oaks. According to standardized state test results, a higher proportion of students in the Ravenswood district do not meet state learning standards in comparison with students in other districts where Menlo Park children attend school: Las Lomitas and Menlo Park City.

Ms. Hernandez-Goff, the Ravenswood district's superintendent, slams Ms. Keith in the letter, saying any attempt to remove Menlo Park schools from the Ravenswood district amounts to a "power grab" with the "sole purpose of increasing Menlo Park property values." Ms. Keith has not advocated removing the schools from the district, she emphasized in an interview.

"We are a blue-collar community working each and everyday to provide our students with a strong education that will allow them the opportunity to one day achieve their dreams," Ms. Hernandez-Goff says in the letter. "What the test scores you irresponsibly throw around to make your point do not capture is that, unlike students in Menlo Park, half of our students are homeless because they cannot afford to live in the Silicon Valley."

Ms. Hernandez-Goff says the secession of schools within Menlo Park city boundaries from the Ravenswood district would cause the "complete economic destruction of our community ... where the only winners will be those who already have, at the expense of those who do not have affluence or power." She also says the move would "create an environment that segregates our district based on race and socio economic status" and "segregate our community."

Her letter includes a defense of the progress of her district. Noting the significant economic obstacles students in the district face, she wrote, "our district has implemented major reforms that are beginning the process of completely transforming the educational experience of students in our district. . . . The days of the Ravenswood City School District being at the bottom are over. We are determined to persist and succeed despite any detractors."

Ms. Hernandez-Goff could not be reached for comment by the Almanac's deadline.

Editor's Note: This story has been modified for clarity and accuracy from its original posting.

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Comments

26 people like this
Posted by What happened?
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Sep 13, 2017 at 12:54 pm

I'm confused-- what did Mayor Keith do to deserve this attack by Superintendent Hernandez-Goff? It is not at all clear based on my read of this article.


17 people like this
Posted by bewildered
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Sep 13, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Seems to me that the Ravenswood sup has enough challenges already without picking fights.


13 people like this
Posted by cartesian
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Sep 13, 2017 at 1:38 pm

I am also confused by this article. It sounds as if Superintendent Hernandez-Goff is livid, but I'm not sure why her anger is specifically directed at Mayor Keith. That is not clear in this article. What is clear is that Mayor Keith is being attacked and accused of a lot of things that I don't imagine she has control over.
What I do know is that people pay dearly to send their kids to the Menlo Park Schools because they are excellent schools. So, if that's unequal then what is Superintendent Hernandez-Goff's solution to make it ALL EQUAL for everyone?? I'm not sure what she is suggesting --


21 people like this
Posted by Shameless
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2017 at 1:54 pm

Mayor Keith gets what she wants: Name recognition and press. She announced the meeting at least three times in the last City Council meeting. This is a "look at me stunt". She is holding a meeting about a school district outside of her jurisdictional power, with a staff member from an entirely different County. She has made comments insulting the Ravenswood District repeatedly in the press and in Council meetings for years but has never offered any real plan. This has all become a spectacle. It might help Keith politically in the short term but doesn't help the kids at all. Not surprised the school district has had enough of it.


23 people like this
Posted by Belle Haven Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 13, 2017 at 2:16 pm

Superintendent Hernandez-Goff's letter and anger is unbelievable. Obviously she has not paid a lick of attention in the past 20+ years to Belle Haven residents and other City of Menlo Park residents who have indeed showed up to City Council meetings asking and at times demanding that these schools be taken out of the Ravenswood School District. The fact that she has unleashed her anger on the Mayor is quite juvenile. Superintendent Hernandez-Goff truly should have done her homework before writing this letter.

It is also quite amazing that she would sound off on the release of these two schools, that are in Menlo Park, as the district does have its hands completely full with all of its other schools. Seems the only power grab here is on the behalf of the superintendent.


2 people like this
Posted by Janet
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Sep 13, 2017 at 2:19 pm

Kirsten does deserve this lambasting. If lots of the kids are homeless, then it would benefit them to have the better education that MP could provide that is missing in Ravenswood.


13 people like this
Posted by kbehroozi
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Sep 13, 2017 at 2:34 pm

kbehroozi is a registered user.

Wow, I didn't see folks directing this level of anger at Councilmember Mueller last year when he brought up the same issues.

Web Link

Mayor Keith is going to Belle Haven to have a conversation about educational equity. Regardless of any political benefit that she may derive from this leadership, the fact remains that as a community we have uneven access to educational opportunity and our educational outcomes reflect that fact. It is appropriate to wrestle with this challenge and take community input and I'm glad the mayor and other councilmembers are paying attention.

Superintendent Hernandez-Goff's reaction seems overblown and premature.


22 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 13, 2017 at 2:41 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It is time for a unified school district that includes Sequoia Union High School District and ALL of the elementary schools that feed into SUHSD.

There is enough political influence in all of the included school districts to get the State legislators to solve any funding issues that result from such a consolidation of elementary school districts.

Every child deserves the same quality of education and the quality of that education should not be determined by property values.


9 people like this
Posted by not aware
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 13, 2017 at 2:44 pm

@Shameless writes, "Mayor Keith... has made comments insulting the Ravenswood District repeatedly in the press and in Council meetings for years..."

We are not aware of any comments by Keith, insulting or otherwise, in regards to the Ravenswood District.


7 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 13, 2017 at 4:25 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Shameless: Please get your facts correct [part removed]. What meetings and what date did the mayor make her comments? Easy to make false statements. Also, Ravenswood Schools are still in San Mateo County.

Sounds like Sup. Hernandez-Goff needs some anger management help.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Sep 13, 2017 at 4:46 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Hernandez -Goff should be looking at the $3,000,000 plus which Sequoia Healthcare District(SHD) grants to the school districts within it's boundaries,(excluding Ravenswood) and seek annexation to the SHD.

Another thing ALL government school districts should do to increase their per pupil funding is to support property tax exemptions for taxpayers who would support the education of children whose families could find alternatives at a cost to the taxpayer half that spent now.


3 people like this
Posted by Belle Haven Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 13, 2017 at 8:56 pm

Belle Haven Resident is a registered user.

Um, Ms. Hernandez-Goff, Belle Haven IS Menlo Park. Belle Haven, Menlo Park, California is a traditionally blue-collar community. Homeless Belle Haven students are homeless Menlo Park students. You CANNOT accurately draw a distinction between Ravenswood CSD students and Menlo Park students unless you want to eliminate the Belle Haven schools from the Ravenswood CSD.

To quote from the article above: "We are a blue-collar community ... unlike students in Menlo Park, half of our students are homeless because they cannot afford to live in the Silicon Valley."


10 people like this
Posted by Works in Belle Haven
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Sep 14, 2017 at 9:05 am

Works in Belle Haven is a registered user.

I think the fact that she even forgets that Belle Haven is part of Menlo Park illustrates the extreme disconnect between the neighborhood and the rest of the city. It's not just a freeway that separates it.

I would love to see Willow Oaks and Belle Haven Elementary improve. If they can do that by being taken out of the Ravenswood district, then I don't see why this is a bad thing. How can we expect the "cycle" of poverty and poor education to end if we don't give the youngest the same chances as people on the other side of the freeway? It's an important area to start.


2 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Sep 14, 2017 at 10:22 am

Train Fan is a registered user.

"the quality of that education should not be determined by property values."

I totally agree, though in fairness it should be pointed out that in this case (MPCSD and Ravenswood) property values are not really germane to the issue of educational equality: despite the difference in property values within their respective districts, Ravenswood has more revenue per-student than MPCSD.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 14, 2017 at 11:03 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

In fact, the quality of the education, by all objective measures, correlates with property values and not revenue per student.

To create equality of outcome all of the students should be in the same system and all of them should share ALL of the same resources.


Like this comment
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Sep 14, 2017 at 11:09 am

Train Fan is a registered user.

"the quality of the education, by all objective measures, correlates with property values"

This is a logical fallacy: Correlation is not causation.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 14, 2017 at 11:18 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Train Fan - I did NOT claim causation but speciFically stated correlation.


2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Sep 15, 2017 at 11:54 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

"To create equality of outcome all of the students should be in the same system and all of them should share ALL of the same resources."

And, all the children should reside in the same "kibbutz".


8 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 16, 2017 at 6:11 pm

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

In one generation, a quality education can transform a family's situation. I know of nothing else, in one generation, that has that kind of impact. So, it's no wonder that Belle Haven parents want the kind of education that will bring opportunity to their children. I see nothing wrong with Mayor Keith's actions in organizing a meeting on the topic of educational quality. However, setting up and attending meetings is an easy matter compared with the hard work of actually doing something about the problem. So, I hope that participants will not leave the Sep 18 meeting without a road map of sorts towards fixing the problem. I would also love to read a follow on story that gave specific details on the reforms that the Superintendent referred to when she stated, "our district has implemented major reforms that are beginning the process of completely transforming the educational experience of students in our district." Many would d like to know more about the reforms, their impact, and how we can help via supporting these efforts as volunteers.


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