Palo Alto Unified School District Sexual Misconduct History

From Sexual Abuse to Sexual Harassment

Throughout the years, the Palo Alto Unified School District has dealt with a number of sexual misconduct issues. It has also been the target of a formal letter of adverse findings by the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights unit.

In 2013, an explosive report by the student journalists described an alleged “rape culture” at Palo Alto High School.

In 2015, former Palo Alto teacher, Mike Airo, was charged and then later convicted of four felony counts of sexual abuse of a minor. The abuse reportedly went back a decade, and concerned a victim known in court as “Anne Doe.” She claimed she was 11 when Airo allegedly began abusing her.

The Palo Alto school board voted unanimously to dismiss Airo shortly after his arrest—Airo taught 4th and 5th graders at Ohlone, in the Palo Alto Unified School District, beginning in 2009.

Another former Palo Alto teacher pleads “no contest” to sexual abuse of a student

Another former Palo Alto teacher, Ronnie Farrell, was arrested in 2017 for committing sex crimes against a student. Farrell pled no contest, and was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison with no probation.

Farrell taught chemistry and biology. He resigned from his teaching position on the same day he pled no contest to the charges.

Formal letter of findings sent to Palo Alto Unified School District

In light of the above incidents, as well as other claims of sexual harassment and sexual abuse in the Palo Alto Unified School District, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights sent a formal letter of findings to the district, following an investigation. The letter stated the district repeatedly failed to respond to and investigate sexual harassment and sexual assault reports in a prompt and equitable manner.  According to the letter, this failure to respond and investigate resulted in violations of the federal anti-discrimination law Title IX.

After receiving the letter, the Palo Alto school board unanimously approved a resolution which would commit the district to addressing the violations employing a range of efforts. The letter’s findings detailed the school districts dismal failure even in following its own policies and procedures in eight separate sexual harassment, misconduct and assault cases which involved teachers, staff, an administrator and students, beginning in 2013. The report clearly illustrated a culture in which the staff either delayed, or entirely resisted keeping records of Title IX incidents in the Palo Alto Unified School District.   Further, the Office for Civil Rights expressed concern regarding the fact that while the districts did investigate the allegations against Farrell and Airo, those investigations were unreasonably delayed.

Getting the help you need from experienced sexual misconduct attorneys

If your child has been traumatized by sexual abuse by a trusted educator, or if you are an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, the Cerri, Boskovich & Allard team of sexual misconduct attorneys will seek justice on your behalf. We fully understand the lifelong impact of child sexual abuse and are sensitive to the best interests of the child. At the same time, we hold predators and enablers accountable for the harm they cause.

The compassionate, experienced attorneys at Cerri, Boskovich & Allard have represented hundreds of sexually abused children, adults who were sexually abused as children and the loved ones of these victims of sexual abuse.  We represent sexual misconduct victims in San Jose, Santa Clara County, the Bay Area, and Northern California. Call 408-289-1417 for a confidential evaluation with a knowledgeable child molestation attorney.


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