New director of student services to lead student health, instruction, and other services

Ethan Chen and Jason Lin

The Palo Alto Board of Education unanimously voted to confirm Jason Krolikowski as the new director of student services at its Sept. 8 board meeting. “There’s a lot of great things here in Palo Alto,” Krolikowski said. “Great students, great community. That being said, I know that there’s work to be done.” Photo: Studio One

A new director of student services has been introduced this year, following the previous director Miriam Stevenson’s move into the private sector and the Palo Alto Board of Education’s unanimous vote to confirm him to the position.

Jason Krolikowski, former San Ramon Valley High School principal, has taken on the role and now oversees services such as student mental health, 504 plans, and bullying prevention, to name a few.

Krolikowski’s shift comes after his previous eight years as a high school principal at two different high schools. Since the shift, Krokilowski has noted PAUSD’s focus on student health.

“PAUSD is committed to student mental health and wellness,” Krolikowski said. “The resources throughout PAUSD are second to none that I am aware of. Dedicated and talented professionals who keep students as the primary focus.”


Krolikowski says that he is not deterred from keeping students as his favorite part of his work, even though he misses being able to walk out of his office and speak in-person to students.

“This job has the title of my favorite thing about schools, which is students, in it,” Krolikowski said.

More than just a favorite, Krolikowski also says that students are at the core of his policy, a sentiment that, according to Krolikowski, is in line with the district’s leadership team, and was a part of why he chose PAUSD — specifically, with Superintendent Don Austin’s leadership.

“A lot of times, school leaders have to really monitor what they say and kind of bite their opinion,” Krolikowski said. “But I know he [Austin] has been keeping students at the forefront of his decision making, and to me that’s what good leaders do.”

According to Krolikowski, keeping students in mind is also crucial to success in educational leadership.

“When you don’t do right by students, you don’t last,” Krolikowski said.


While at PAUSD, Krolikowski said he hopes to provide services that can help students move through their school careers, and is especially interested in topics such as bullying and social-emotional learning. 

“Obviously, mental health is a huge component of this work,” Krolikowski said. “They’re [mental health issues] very meaningful for me in a lot of different ways because of the experiences I’ve had working with students for so long.”

Ultimately, Krolikowski said, his goal is to make district decisions more data-driven. 

“I want to be able to use data [e.g. surveys] to drive what we do,” Krolikowski said. “Otherwise it’s [decisions] just an opinion, and it can come in different ways.”   

Right now, however, Krolikowski says he is new to the district and online learning, and doesn’t “presume to know more than anyone else” — but also that he certainly wants to learn.

“I want to learn how to do this job [online] really well and support our schools,” Krolikowski said. “This is definitely something I just want to invest myself in and learn.”


Krolikowski was hired despite controversy revolving around incidents at his previous school districts, including the tragic drowning of a student on-campus, a previous incident in 2001 as a football coach and, most recently, a lawsuit at his previous district involving a failure to investigate reports made by a student.

While the first two incidents were covered briefly by Austin at Krowlikowski’s confirmation, the lawsuit was discussed for longer during the confirmation and without specifics. While Krowlikowski also noted that he cannot comment on specifics due to the legal nature of the case, he said there is another side to the story.

“Because I can’t get into details, I will say: I did not make my career by shortcutting steps,” Krolikowski said. “I did not last this long as a principal by shortcutting forms and not doing right by students.” 

According to Austin, the main situation argued in the lawsuit occurred before Krowlikowski was hired, and Krolikowski was later added in an amendment in the case, along with 11 other administrators, in a claim for a lack of investigation into the report. Krolikowski, however, said that he acted in support of the student defendant in the case.

“I had every intention and, I believe, to some degree fulfilled the intention of supporting the student in this process,” Krolikowski said.

In lieu of the public release of the details of the case, Krolikowski said his only defense comes from himself.

“I have to rest myself on knowing who I am and what I do, what I believe in,” Krolikowski said. “The last thing I can do is ever, ever, skip a form or a report or anything like that.”