Bullis vs. LASD — online Trolls and Bullies Retire

Written by lalahpolitico
Online bullies and trolls in Los Altos media

Online bullies and trolls in Los Altos media

UPDATE:  Oct. 9, 2014  JoanJStrong retires, Vlad Commends

I wanted to note that in June 2014 — after the school district and Bullis Charter School announced and approved a 5-year facilities agreement and stopped all litigation — the anonymous troll Joan J. Strong announced his/her retirement from comment posting.  Joan said “she” was turning it OFF because the litigation had stopped. This was the aspect of the struggle which apparently bother him/her the most.

Several people who use Facebook told me that Vladamir Ivanovich, a LASD board candidate for 2014, thanked and commended “her” on Facebook for her years of truth-telling and for energizing the complacent to rise against the threat of the charter  to our neighborhood public schools. Or words more or less to that effect.

Lalahpolitico: It’s one thing for Vlad to share Joan’s “perceptions,” but I certainly don’t see why he endorses her/his cowardly style – anonymous, disrespectul, vituperative. Thanking a troll is over the top!

Let me be clear. I do not mind anonymous posts if they are respectful and well-reasoned.  And are not so, so repetitive.

UPDATE  Sept. 13, 2013

The tide has turned on trolls and bullies.

Hurrah! I’m happy to report that in the last couple months the most virulent team of anonymous posters which has plagued us locally on Los Altos Town Crier online and – the Joan J. Strong cabal – seems to be under new management. The tone is not nearly so strident, the message not nearly so repetitive. Their old message: “Die Charters Die.  A School of  Rich Millionaires.  Impoverishing LASD. Robbing LASD. Excludes Minorities.  Excludes Special Needs.  Excludes the disadvantaged. Skims gifted students.  Serves only Los Altos Hills. Destroys our system of public education. Charters are only for poor people. Charters Hire union scabs, Charter boards are not elected, etc.”  is switched OFF.

At various times all these following “handles” were allegedly part of the Joan J. Strong cabal – David Cortright (a real person), Joan J. Strong, Harold Barton , ContextMan, Just Mom, Spawn of Smith, and many more… all ficticious. So if you encounter these handles when you visit older articles on the web, don’t be fooled that our school district had that many strident crazy people.  It’s just a handful of nutters.

Personally I am absolutely sure the Dave Cortright was never involved with any of this Joan J. Strong cabal stuff.  It’s just a smear. It is just a coincidence that some of his opinions align with those of the cabal.  There is no way the local teachers unions would ever have contributed so much money and so many votes to his 2012 campaign for Santa Clara County Board of Education campaign if Cortright were involved.

The new management for the Joan J Strong franchise seems more locally focused and does not care so much about the national rhetoric around charters, vouchers, special education, and school reform.  Thank goodness! The idea of all that outside money  from Unions and Koch pouring in to agitate us!  The new management of the  Joan J. Strong and cabal brand has a Point of View (POV), yet it is respectful, more rational…but with goals yet unknown…perhaps the same goals as before… lying dormant… time will reveal.


Original Jan. 19, 2012

The public commenting about Bullis vs. LASD on Town Crier Online and especially on AOL is a sad spectacle of “online trolls and bullies.”  When online forums get overrun by cliques and bullies, the nice normal people no longer want to be in that online neighborhood. And with the California Supreme Court upholding the Appeals Court finding FOR Bullis-Charter yesterday, get ready for more unsavory online flames.

Some of the behavior that appears to be going on

  1. same person registering under several different monikers to create posts advocating for their side.
  2. Lots of exaggeration, use of loaded language, hyperbole, omitted or misstated “facts”
  3. personal attacks

Sure these article have lots of comments, but that is not necessarily positive traffic for the “paper,” nor a public service, nor a viable community for resolving differences.

Of course Crier and Patch are businesses and creating community is not really their charter.  And of course, both those organizations do strive to comport themselves as good local citizens…and they both are fair-minded, professional journalism LALAH assets.

Editorial Comment:  Why is there no comment moderation?  (Obviously there is no swearing or porn.) It’s understood that many commenters are doing so under assumed names.  Why is their comment system not preventing multiple registrations from the same IP address? That is so basic. Perhaps both Patch and Crier can “see” from the “web statistics” that 80% of the comments are originating from a handful of IP addresses.  Perhaps that is why Patch recently ran an article where the Santa Clara County School Board called the anti-charter contingent a “micro community,” not reflective of broader LASD parental opinion.

Of course, no one will really ever “know” how opinion is running.  It’s likely, as one commenter said, the mass of parents really don’t mind that Bullis-Charter exists and that it gets money from the state and that billionaires’ kids go there, but they almost all certainly hope it doesn’t get awarded their local school campus.  (On Jan. 18, 2012 The California Supreme Court upheld the Appeal Court decision, which means Bullis-Charter will almost certainly get one of the 10-acre sites.) The mass of parents are not turning up on these hostile commenting areas.


As we said, it’s not the job of the “papers” to measure public opinion.  That’s something our local government might want to do … or not. After all our officials must just do their jobs and uphold the law. (Public opinion doesn’t necessarily matter.) That said the “papers” should upgrade their technology.

It’s not rocket-science to use a commenting system which includes a reputation system.

Reputation systems can help.  They could get staff do do real moderation.  Or just turn off the comments.

Both the Crier and the Patch have letters to the editor and guest column opportunities.  There people use their own name, and the “paper” can exercise its editorial judgment.



The County  School Board has agreed to meet jointly with LASD and Bullis-Charter to try to get the parties to an agreement. They need to hammer out the details of the “equivalent facilities” which the California Supreme Court has decided Bullis Charter does not now enjoy in its Egan trailer park. Here is’s coverage which indicates this is a closed meeting not open to the public.

With 136 emails received and anxious parents in the audience Wednesday night, the Santa Clara County Board of Education agreed to conduct a meeting in Los Altos to open up badly needed dialogue over charter schools and school districts …from L.A. Chung Jan. 12, 2012



Some links from the anti-charter “crowd” or micro-community

We quote, “Meanwhile, for a more humorous take on this situation…”

Someone went to at least a couple hours of trouble to write a scurrilous script and use one of those online animation sites to create this little ditty.  It’s an unflattering portrait of people who have ever applied to Bullis-Charter School.

The “mom” character keeps repeating how important it is to “attend school with billionaires’ kids.”

We note one of the most prolific posters is a persona called Joan Strong. She/he posts links to an “informational” web site which mimics the look of Bullis Charter Schools site and is supposedly a parody.  Not funny.

1. Is BCS about “school choice”? 
2. Are parents REALLY choosing BCS in droves? 
3. Is BCS a great example of the “free market” in action? 

Links from the pro-charter “crowd” or micro-community go to Bullis official site

We note the posts there are more temperate, but we have seen some posters get sucked in by the trolls and bullies now and then. But mostly the posters stay calm. The post links like …

The BCS Facilities Request first states “any existing 10 acre site”, and then it states the Gardner site, with explanation. 

“For more information on diversity at BCS and the greater community please see diversity: 

Learn more about online Troll and Bully behavior and what online media can do about it




About the author


Norma Schroder is an economics & market researcher by trade and ardent independent journalist, photographer and videographer by avocation. Enthralled by the growth of the tech industry over the decades, she became fascinated with the business of local politics only in the past several years.