News


School board awaits data on principal's ouster

Decision could come at tomorrow's meeting

More than five weeks ago, Walnut Grove Principal Jon Vranesh was placed on paid administrative leave, but an anonymous source has confirmed to the Pleasanton Weekly that as of yet there are no written charges against him.

So far, no action has been taken against him, but that could change at the Pleasanton school board's meeting Tuesday, which will also include the board's annual reorganization.

The school board called a last-minute closed session on Nov. 26 during the district's Thanksgiving break in which it was to consider "Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release." The board took no action regarding ousted Walnut Grove Principal Jon Vranesh, despite a push for the board to say what led to his being placed on leave.

Thirty people, including colleagues, parents of current and former students and friends, attended the meeting. Ten spoke before the board went into closed session, but Board President Jeff Bowser left the session after less than five minutes to tell waiting audience members that the board would make no decision that night.

Bowser originally tried to limit comments, as was the case in the board's Nov. 12 meeting, when Vranesh supporters were first told they wouldn't be allowed to speak, but were then restricted to a minute apiece. At the Nov. 26 meeting, Bowser bumped the time limit to two minutes per speaker when questioned by board member Jamie Hintzke.

Many who spoke before the board went into its closed-door meeting raised the same questions and criticisms as they did in the last school board meeting: a poor job of letting parents know Vranesh had been placed on leave, no word on why the action was taken and requests for him to be reinstated.

"The lack of communication has not helped the parents," said Walnut Grove parent Jeremy McCarthy. He said he learned of Vranesh's being placed on administrative leave when his kids started asking where the principal was.

"All you guys have done has created mistrust in this community," said Bruce Henry, who questioned whether the issue was somehow related to Bowser's run for county school superintendent.

Three of Vranesh's colleagues from his time at Pleasanton Middle School read a letter signed by 30 of those he worked with, noting that Vranesh "always strived to create a safe school environment for all."

Two other colleagues also spoke, saying Vranesh "always had the kids' best interest in mind."

One parent questioned the board timing for its closed door session held during the school's Thanksgiving break.

"This issue has dragged on for five weeks," said Erin Lyions. "I do not believe the timing is a coincidence."

Vranesh attended the board meeting with his attorney, Paul Kondrick. Neither spoke.

It remains unknown what led to Vranesh's being placed on leave. However, Vranesh offered a prepared statement after it became known he had been replaced by an interim principal.

"I put the Pleasanton Unified School District on notice months ago regarding situations that negatively affect staff safety, working conditions and a conducive environment for instruction and student learning," Vranesh said. "Rather than taking effective action to eliminate those conditions, they put me on administrative leave."

Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi, however, said that's not the reason for Vranesh's being placed on leave.

"We have explained the reasons for this personnel action to both Mr. Vranesh and his attorney," Ahmadi said in a response to Vranesh's statement. "The rules covering employee privacy do not allow us to comment on them publicly at this time."

At the Nov. 26 meeting, parent Chris Jacob questioned whether Vranesh's safety concerns were ever addressed.

"We don't know what these issues were, whether they were ever looked into or not," Jacob told the board, adding if it's a safety issue, "you should all be held accountable legally."

Meanwhile, the school has its third principal in less than six weeks. Vranesh was originally replaced by interim principal Richard Puppione. He stepped down Nov. 21 due to health issues.

Steve Maher has come out of retirement as the school's interim principal, according to a message from Ahmadi posted on the Walnut Grove school website.

Maher, a 40-year veteran of the district, began his official duty at Walnut Grove on Dec. 2 and will work with Puppione to make the transition.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by PC
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Dec 5, 2013 at 9:06 am

So our principle has been put on leave without cause!?! Our school has been damaged without a reason!?! What is going on here!?!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2013 at 10:05 am

Something stinks! Is it someone in the run for county school superintendent!?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Give Them the Boot
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2013 at 10:54 am

With the way this is being handled, including the contempt that Mr. Bowser is showing for parents, and Ms. Ahmadi's history at a previous employer of terminating employees with little reason given, it's starting to look more like Mr. Bowser and Ms. Ahmadi should be given the boot. They both are exhibiting way to much of the "my way or the highway" approach to managing.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by FHS mom
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Dec 5, 2013 at 11:23 am

I can only speak to my experience with Mr. Vranesh during his time at PMS and FHS. He is by far the best vice principal/principal I have dealt with in our 17 years in the PUSD district. I don't mean to take anything away from the other great administrators, but this man took the time to know his students and their families and I think losing him to another district would be a mistake. I hope this gets worked out and that he will agree to stay. I do think it's time to revisit the Ahmadi hiring decision and bowser should step aside on this one because it feels vet political given his aspirations to move on from our board.


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Posted by Right
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2013 at 11:27 am

(Post deemed inappropriate by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)


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Posted by Seriously
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 5, 2013 at 11:39 am

(Post deemed inappropriate by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)


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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Dec 5, 2013 at 11:43 am

Perhaps the public does not have a legal right to know about confidential matters.


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Posted by Ruby Hills Homeowner
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Dec 5, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Five weeks and no formal charges brought?

Superintendent Ahmadi has very badly mishandled this situation.

Jon Vranesh has suffered a great degree of damage to his reputation during these past five weeks, and no matter the resolution of the situation, this time will hang like a dark cloud over his head for the rest of his life.

Normally, I'd agree that keeping this matter confidential would be for the best, but Ms. Ahmadi and the Board have strung this situation out for such a long time that now it might be to Mr. Vranesh's benefit to actually have the accusations against him, whatever they are, made public.

If it's been five weeks and still no formal charges of misconduct exist, then why is Mr. Vranesh suspended from his job?

This is not the first time Ms. Ahmadi has facilitated the bullying of one of her employees, by the way; it's just the one that everybody's heard about. What I've heard from Pleasanton teachers and administrators is that Ms. Ahmadi targets people she considers to be "dissidents" of some kind and then makes their lives a living hell.

Just as she's doing with Jon Vranesh.

We do have a right to know if there are charges of misconduct against a public employee, and what those charges entail. Otherwise, even if Vranesh survives this and continues in his job, there will be rumors and innuendo.


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Posted by Lessismore
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Dec 5, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Not sure what led to Vranesh's being placed on leave.

But there appears to be a trended.

A principal not willing to say yes to Ms. Ahmadi and you a done in PUSD.

Look at the number of principals we have lost scene she was hired.
I also find it fun, within our so call great school system we could not promote anyone to the High School roles or other positions.

I look at the backgrounds of some internal candidates who were not promote and what was hired and it would appear we have taken a step back.

So I ask you member of the board when do start standing you and asking the difficult questions.

When do you start ask why?

Or when do you say it is time for a change.

Or will take more member of the PSUD staff to leave?

Great companies and organisation are built on great talent. Our talent is walking out the door and the person running the show seems not to care.

In my personal opinion this is a very weak school board and you will do nothing.



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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Dec 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm

(Post deemed inappropriate by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)






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Posted by In Case you Missed It
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm

REDUX for the fools who rush in.

10 Things to celebrate this Holiday Season:

1. A School Board, thrown into uncharted waters, that recognizes a person, even one unwilling to accept the truth of his or her own words and suggestions, still deserves to have his or her privacy protected.

2. VIOLATED teachers who respect due process enough to stay quiet and not hang an individual out to dry publicly.

3. The vehemence of an uninformed, yet supportive public whose future apologies will undoubtedly be equally passionate.

4. The illiteracy and illogic of some supporters whose lack of command of the English language undermines their own baseless points.

5. Due process and decorum in the face of tabloid-inspired belief that we are entitled to know everything immediately. We're not, and sometimes mystery is better than the truth, even for the guilty.

6. That a man's utter lack of character, leadership, accountability and discretion in the face of his own actions can ultimately provide the best ongoing support for dismissal.

7. In general, a guilty man's ego and delusions will ultimately complete his fall. Resignation is generally a far better outcome than dismissal

8. That the new principal will serve as a far better role-model for our children. We're seeing this already.

9. That this great community and school of ours will heal.

10. Last, but certainly not least, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the unwavering belief in a power greater than ourselves, although most men and women are rather spectacular!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Unionman
a resident of Castlewood
on Dec 18, 2013 at 11:32 am

Unionman is a registered user.

I have never chimed in on blogs. Generally I find that the participants are too far left or right to be beleivable. I am, however, particularly fired up by the writers before and their total lack of information.I have had two kids go through our school district. I am very pleased with thier accomplishments. It had very little to do with any administrator, either at the district level or the sites.
If those of you that have lambasted our teachers would listen, please let me fill you in with some information. First, the teachers have not received even a COLA raise in over 9 years. Recently, when our district was struggling like many others, our teachers elected to take 4 non paid furlough days to help the district out. Voluntarily! This decision enraged the CTA and teacher groups around our area as well as state wide.If our community wants things like small class size, how about passing a bond measure. Since Pleasanton is the only Tri-Valley city not to pass an education bond measure, I humbly think the community losses the right to demand, criticize, and outwardly object to school staffs working more and getting paid less. Our teachers have families to raise just like you.
Finally, I have had direct contact with the principal in question in a variety of venues. All I can say is that he is not the horse I'm going to hitch my wagon to. I believe that cart is headed down and I await the comments after the dust settles. He is not the man you think he is. Be careful WG parents.
By the way cudos to you @In Case you Missed It.


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Posted by reality
a resident of Amador Estates
on Dec 18, 2013 at 1:49 pm

reality is a registered user.

I just want to address the people that are bashing the two union groups, especially the Classified union. First of all we need unions. They are what keep power hungry managers from abusing employees. Without a union management could decide they don't like the color of the shirt you are wearing and terminate you on the spot. Before any of you say no, that wouldn't happen you need a reality check. Just so you know as far as the classified bargaining agreement with the district goes, ninety percent of that agreement comes straight out of the California Education Code. Neither the teachers union or the classified union can keep the district from terminating a bad employee. It is the responsibility of the district management to follow the proper guidelines that lead to dismissal. If they do not follow these guidelines that is their mistake. Secondly, the classified union has nothing to do with the JV situation and we have all the confidence in the world in our union President Alex Sutton. Now let's talk about bashing the custodians. First off all of the schools have been cut custodial hours and not by the unions choice. It was the choice of district management and the wonderful school board that the intelligent people of Pleasanton elected. They were the ones that decided that the cleanliness of your child's classroom and schools were no longer a top priority. Most elementary schools had two 8 hour custodians at night to clean the inside of the entire school. For the past 5+ years there has been one 8 hour custodian to clean the inside of the entire school. So it is in no way due to the inadequate cleaning by the custodians it is due entirely to the fact that they are rushed to do what they can in 8 hours. Not to mention that many of them do not take a break or lunch because they know they will not finish. No one care about that or even takes it into consideration. The custodians in this district take pride in what they do and have the best interest of the students at heart. If they did not, they would not skip breaks and stay on their own time to take care of business. Throughout this bad economy and the drastic cuts to the custodial staff expectations were to be changed as to what would be able to be accomplished by one custodian. However, many custodians have come under fire by teachers as well as principals and district management for not being able to keep things as clean as they were when there were two 8 hour custodians. Some custodian have had to transfer to other school sites when they could because their principal was constantly harassing them about wanting more and more done. As for Walnut Grove Custodians they do the best they can with the time they are given. It sounds like JV has been an outspoken advocate for the students in wanting more custodial time to keep the rooms clean like they should be. That was probably one of his mistakes. The district office does not want anyone talking against them or thinking for themselves. Pleasanton Unified used to be the District all other districts wanted to be like. Our schools looked great and our reputation was one of the best out there. The sad fact is that now no other district wants to be like us. Our facilities are a mess, district management is out of control and we have a school board that rubber stamps whatever district management wants them to. I thought our Superintendent and the rest of them worked for the board not the other way around. I think it is time that the real intelligent people of Pleasanton get out there and call for the removal of the current school board and vote in people that really have our kids at heart and not just people that see the school board as the first step to a political career. People who can think for themselves and not rubber stamp everything the district management tells them to.


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