By Sue Pascoe
After Palisades High School had gone on its winter break on December 15, a woman, who has a senior at that school, attacked the school’s college center on Nextdoor.
She stated, “I feel like its my responsibility to disclose exactly what PaliHi’s College Counseling center did to my son.”
The woman claimed that her son, who was applying early decision to Pitzer had lost a place because a counselor had not signed a document,“the school had not submitted his ED1 [Early Decision] commitment FROM Pali counselor until well AFTER the application date of November 15,” and then she targeted one college counselor in particular.
There are four counselors who work with generally more than 700 seniors. (Last year there were 723 graduating seniors and 92 percent were admitted to two- and four-year colleges.)
“Now it is holiday break, and NO ONE will contact me back, so I have spoken to KTLA and the Superintendent of Schools,” she wrote. “This is truly a terrible situation I wouldn’t wish on any of you. Please harass your counselor and DEMAND proof of any and all paperwork sent. We could have ED many other colleges but focused on this one. PaliHigh destroyed that from him.
“It’s disgusting. Just wanted you all to be aware of exactly what PaliHigh is NOT DOING to assist in admittance to college.”
Quickly, others chimed in on Nextdoor:
“This is inexcusable! I am so sorry for you and your son,” one person wrote.
Another commented, “This must have been a deeply disappointing experience for your son, and you as well.”
A few wrote in support of the school, with comments such as “In their defense, the staff at the PaliHi College Center do a fabulous job, working for all students at the school on a shoestring budget.”
What was missing in the Nextdoor post? Both sides of the story.
The News contacted Pitzer College, without using names, to learn about that school’s early decision process. Director of Admissions Santiago Ybarra said that a student that goes early decision must have the completed the application package, which includes the fee, FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and the CSS/Financial Aid Profile, by November 15.
Once Pitzer receives the package, it checks the application to see if anything is missing, which could include the supplemental statement, academic reports, transcript and the signed agreements (including signatures from the parent, college counselor and student).
According to Ybarra, if the file is incomplete, Pitzer calls or sends an email to the student, usually a few days later to allow the student to rectify the file. (Most schools were on Thanksgiving break from November 17 through November 27.)
“It is really the student’s responsibility,” Ybarra said. “When they [a student] receives a letter from the school [December 15] that they are not accepted early decision because something from the file is missing, it should not be the first they hear about it.”
Ybarra explained that a student who was incomplete for Early Decision I could still choose to be considered for the Early Decision II or Regular Decision.
The News checked with PaliHi and learned that as soon as the college center was notified a signature was missing, one was sent off on November 29, in plenty of time to rectify the file, according to Ybarra. That counselor’s signature was not a reason to deny Early Decision.
The News contacted a Nextdoor representative and asked why posts are not vetted.
Noura, from Nextdoor Support, responded in a January 16 email that Nextdoor has community guidelines, a private policy and a member agreement.
“The Community Guidelines covers a range of issues including our policies regarding disagreements between neighbors, public shaming, political discussion, self-promotion, discrimination, and more,” Noura wrote.
“Nextdoor allows any member to report specific messages that they believe violate the Guidelines. The reports are routed to Neighborhood Leads. A Lead is a member whose account has been granted some additional privileges, including the ability to remove messages that they believe violate the Guidelines,” Noura said.
She noted there are three ways to have a post removed: 1.) the person who posted it can remove it, 2.) report to a Lead [who can remove it], or 3.) report directly to Nextdoor.
“While I can definitely understand your concern regarding the accuracy of posts, we don’t have the ability to verify the validity of content posted to Nextdoor,” Noura noted. “Nextdoor staff doesn’t proactively monitor the messages posted on Nextdoor’s 135,000 neighborhoods, but we follow up messages, if they are brought to our attention.”
The News asked Noura in a November 17 email “How does a person defend him/herself if they are not a member of Nextdoor and only hear about the posts secondhand?”
Nextdoor’s Neighborhood Management Operations manager Garrett responded in a January 19 email that he could understand the post in question, but “While I don’t know the entire context or backstory, it seems like the neighbor was reviewing service she received from her son’s high school counseling center.
“Nextdoor members are encouraged to leave positive recommendations for business they think neighbors should use. However, members are allowed to describe negative experiences with business or service providers as long as they do so in a way that is consistent with Nextdoor’s Community Guidelines.
“If you read a negative comment about your business that you feel is untrue or unfair, you can reply to the member’s post correcting any misinformation. You can also reach out to the member directly via private message to resolve the issue.”
He said that if someone is not a member of Nextdoor and hear about a post, they can have a member contact someone to take it down.“We don’t have the ability to take sides or validate who is telling the truth or not.”
(The News asked for the last names of Noura and Garrett to include in this story, but there was no response by press time.)
Nextdoor selects Leads for neighborhoods, but the website does not list the leads. The News learned the Alphabet Street leads and asked if they received any training or were compensated for their monitoring, “No,” was the answer.
Ultimately, the post was taken down by the parent, but not before the counselor, the college center and the school had all come under public attack.
One of the people posting stated: “I feel it is unfair to call out this counselor in a public forum . . . I am concerned that this forum paints only the negative side of what the college center and the counselor do.”