News


Still no decision on ousted principal

Union leader 'concerned about morale'

Supporters of former Walnut Grove Principal Jon Vranesh weren't in attendance at the Pleasanton School Board meeting Tuesday night, but he was still on the minds of some.

Representatives from both unions made veiled references to the circumstances that led to Vranesh being removed from office.

Peggy Carpenter, head of the Association of Pleasanton Teachers, quoted President Ronald Reagan, saying, "We have to to what's moral and what's right."

"A decision was made and it was hard," Carpenter told the board. "People helped to make it so that the rights of those involved were honored ... even if it came to the decision the board had to make in December."

In December, after a closed session that lasted more than seven hours, the board voted 4-1 to approve the hiring of a new principal at Walnut Grove, saying there was "merit to complaints" against Vranesh.

Those claims include allegations that Vranesh "created a hostile work environment at Walnut Grove through, among other things, the use of vulgar/derogatory terms to describe female employees of the district," according to a letter from the district's attorney, Kim Bogard of Kingsley Bogard LLC, to Vranesh's attorney, Paul Kondrick.

Alex Sutton, president of the local chapter of the California School Employees Association, told the board it had an opportunity "to fix our little dilemma."

"I'm a little bit concerned about morale in the district," Sutton said, alluding to problems the district has had with principals. "I'd really like to change the perception of this district to get back on track."

Vranesh's ouster marked the seventh of 16 principals to leave the district in the last year. Principals at all three high schools, at Donlon and Mohr elementary schools, and at Pleasanton Middle School have taken other posts or retired.

Vranesh remains on paid administrative leave, which began Oct. 25.

A request by the Pleasanton Weekly for documents surrounding his removal was answered with a reply requesting a 30-day extension. According to the letter from Bogard, "As a courtesy, our office notified Mr. Vranesh's attorney of its intent to respond and produce the documents requested in Pleasanton Weekly's request. Mr. Vranesh's attorney has notified our office of his: 1) client's objection to the production of the requested documentation; and 2) willingness to take legal action to prevent disclosure."

In an email to the Pleasanton Weekly on Monday afternoon, attorney Kondrick disputed the characterization of the response and stated there was not an objection to producing the documents.

In his email, Kondrick wrote, "Mr. Vranesh indeed did not take the position with the District that he would fight the release of information, but rather, he stated to the District's attorney that he 'expects the District to take all necessary legal and other action to preserve the confidence and privacy of those matters and documents,' as appropriate, and would be willing to 'join any legal proceeding' necessary to best assure the protection of the privacy rights of PUSD students, parents and staff/employees as pertain to these ongoing District matters."

The Pleasanton Weekly has been asking for, among other documents, an investigator's report on the allegations against Vranesh, something Kondrick has said neither he nor Vranesh has seen.

Comments

Posted by SA, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jan 16, 2014 at 10:44 am

Almost half of the principals lost in the last year. This is a HUGE problem. Sounds like a hostile environment for principals to me!


Posted by WGDad, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jan 16, 2014 at 11:29 am

The Pleasanton School Board is obviously under the control of the teachers unions. The Board needs to grow a backbone and stand up to the unions. How can you expect principals to stay when all it takes to fire a great man is he/said she/said allegations?


Posted by SA, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jan 16, 2014 at 11:59 am

It is worth noting that he is not fired, but put on paid leave. I hope Mr. V. takes appropriate action and justice serves him well and restores the good name of a good man


Posted by justwondering, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2014 at 12:22 pm

I don't understand how you can generate an investigative report that's used to find merit to the allegations without allowing the principal in question to have access to it. (see last sentence in the article.) That just seems like another way the district is open to litigation.


Posted by AV 145, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 16, 2014 at 12:24 pm

After this debacle, how can the PUSD expect to find quality principals? Any candidate that does his (or her) homework is going to find that the job requires them to be subservient to the Association of Pleasanton Teachers. Any sign of disobedience and the union will file a grievance. Based on this example, the candidate can be sure that Parvin and the Board will not have their back.


Posted by Manfred, a resident of Foothill Farms
on Jan 16, 2014 at 1:22 pm

I have it on good authority that the Teacher's Union is behind the terrible ouster. (My cousin works at BART and he overheard two people talking on the train.) For this reason, we're pulling are kids out of PUSD and sending them to live with my second cousin and sister in law in Texas where everything is so much fairer and transparant. Why would anyone want to keep there kids in PUSD when schools are so much better in Texas? I rest my case.


Posted by Lessismore , a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 16, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Dear Parents,
It is time for action and a change.
1)We need to start thinking about who should run for School Board in this up coming election.
2) WG parents you must have a active roll in the selection process for your next principal. Do not let PUSD pick the WG interview team or you will end up what PUSD wants not what best. Case in point Amador.
3) Stop giving money to your PTA's, PPIE, Boosters clubs and so on.

I know this will be hard but PUSD depends on the money each year. This is how you will get the attention of the board.

Until they see that we are feed up they will not change

One last thing Jeff Bowser should not be allowed to vote on union issues. His wife is a member of the teachers union in Pleasanton.

Last we need to find a way to support the many great teachers we have but at the same time we need control of our schools back.


Posted by PMS teach, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Jan 16, 2014 at 2:10 pm

I worked with Jon for several years and found him to be a man of high integrity. I find it hard to believe the accusation that he "created a hostile work environment" but even if it is true, the punishment should fit the crime. Such an offense merits a written reprimand, mandatory counseling, or the appointment of a monitor. Removing him as principal is an extreme overreaction to a fixable problem.


Posted by Manfred, a resident of Foothill Farms
on Jan 16, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Like Lessismoron, I'm feed up too. Instead of with holding your money from PTA, Booster Clubs and other entirely corrupted with Union doctrination entitties, send your kids to live with relatives in Texas like we've done. This shows PUSD exactly what we think of them. Theirs more then one way to skin a cat!


Posted by Former PTO, a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 16, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Booster and PTO organizations are accountable to the parents who donate--not to PUSD. We did not cow-tow to teachers union or district; rather to parents and dedicated teachers who partnered with us to better the school for the kids.


Posted by Manfred, a resident of Foothill Farms
on Jan 16, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Yes, above all, no more cow-towing! Or horse-manurisms. Or chicken-chatting.

Union teachers? You've met your match. Just look at all the literate one's your up against!


Posted by Brian, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2014 at 4:24 pm

I have to commend Pleasanton Weekly reporter Glenn Wohltmann on trying to get to the bottom of this. Residents have a right to know if the school board is acting appropriately in removing Mr. Vranesh from his position or if they turned a little issue which could have been solved with a reprimand into an issue that's going to cost the school district millions in legal fees, not to mention the loss of a respected principle. The outcome of Glenn's investigation will certainly affect who I vote for in the next school board election. Keep the pressure on Glenn.


Posted by Ahmadi created hostile student and work environment , a resident of Downtown
on Jan 16, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Vranesh has not created a hostile environment.

Ahmadi is the one responsible. She is incompetent, has created a hostile environment for students, parents, and employees, and needs to be removed as soon as possible before she does even more damage to this community, its children, and its residents.


Posted by Former WG Parent, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jan 16, 2014 at 5:24 pm

The documentation in the post linked below and the fact Mr. Vranesh wasn't interviewed by the investigator points to conflict of interest and lack of objectivity in this decision.

The PUSD also poorly handled the communications to the WG Parent Community. They are bound legally on what they can comment on but that is no excuse for the lack of respect, callousness and late communication to the parents on the matter.

Web Link


Posted by Ahmadi created hostile student and work environment, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 16, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Interesting web link.

Regarding the union presidents and the web link, I am assuming that Valexis Sutton is related to the union president for the classified union, is that true?

Also regarding the teacher union president, is that the same Peggy Carpenter as the Peggy Carpenter that used to be a board member for the Sunol Glen school? And regarding this person Web Link, did this person in the web link get laid off from Walnut Grove, teach at Sunol Glen, then return to Walnut Grove shortly before Ahmadi dismantled the Discovery program?


Posted by FTreusch, a resident of Walnut Hills
on Jan 17, 2014 at 7:42 am

FTreusch is a registered user.

I agree with Alex Sutton's comment about the PUSD and especially Walnut Grove having a low morale problem. However, the low morale is due to the actions of the teacher unions. They did not let Jon Varnish do his job and now the school does not have a leader. Any organization without leadership is doomed to have low morale. The PUSD School Board has also shown a lack of leadership by being under the union's thumb and not doing what they know is right. Time for some major changes!


Posted by Get the Facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2014 at 8:21 am

Get the Facts is a registered user.

From a thread started on December 18th, here is what Vranesh is accused of (and from everything I heard about this before I read this, the below appears to be 100% accurate):

"- used vulgar and derogatory language in reference to women (specifically "b.tch" and "c.nt").
- made repeated comments of a sexual nature
- used threatening and intimidating language
- used bullying tactics to get what he wanted
- abused his position of authority"

So, FTreusch, you are telling me it's the teachers' fault that Vranesh chose to use bullying as his leadership style? Wow, those teachers are bad.


Posted by FTreusch, a resident of Walnut Hills
on Jan 17, 2014 at 11:42 am

FTreusch is a registered user.

Dear Get the Facts,
You appear to have the terms "facts" and "accused of" mixed up. You need to look at who has accused Mr V of these acts: a couple of WG employees who had been recently disciplined for poor job performance.

Ask anyone who has worked closely with Mr V. He is a man of high integrity who can get the job done without resorting to such vulgar acts. If there was any proof that he did these things, the closed Board meeting would have lasted 15 minutes instead of 7 hours.


Posted by Get the Facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

To SA:
Yes, seven principals left. But two retired (Hansen and Whitney) after very long careers. Dwyer went to Lynbrook High, often you see administrators make moves like this for various reasons. Fobert left Mohr to be principal of Mountain House High School, much closer to his home. I have heard the Donlon principal moved to Southern California, but I cannot confirm the accuracy of this. I have no idea what happened with the other two. This simply happened to be one of those years with a lot of transition. It is not a "HUGE problem," there simply was more change than usual. Most years have at least one vacancy.

To WGDad:
The school board is not under the control of the teacher's union. If it was, more administrators would be shown the door. As it is, it took the complaints of many, a long investigation, and numerous board meetings before Vranesh was relieved of his duties.

To AV 145:
"…how can the PUSD expect to find quality principals?" PUSD will always attract good talent. For one, they pay more than most. For two, if you want to stay for a long time in the PUSD as an administrator, you can. Hansen was here for fourteen years, Whitney for over thirteen. Dwyer was here for nine as a VP and principal. His predecessor, Kevin Johnson, was here for eleven years, and has worked for another six in the district office. They will have no problems finding people.

To Lessismore:
You say Jeff Bowser has a conflict of interest. This is true, he does. But all board members have conflicts of interest, it is inevitable. They all live in Pleasanton (a requirement). They all have (or had) kids in the district schools, and are friends with other Pleasanton parents. One is on the board of directors for the largest medical provider for district employees (Kaiser). One is or was a bigwig in the PTA. Conflicts of interest abound, they are inevitable.

To PMS teach:
I met Vranesh once, and he seemed like a really nice guy. But did you read my earlier entry about what he did? The punishment did fit the crime. He had to go. You cannot be a bully when you are a leader in a school. It's too bad he felt this was the best way to lead. (And keep in mind he is getting paid, it's not like he was fired. Many people would call this a vacation.)

To: Ahmadi created…:
"Ahmadi is the one responsible."? Really? She was the one using the B and C words? She was the one sexually harassing the staff? Vranesh is responsible for his own actions. He reaped what he sowed. Ahmadi had poor communication, but give her points for getting him away from the kids quickly when this whole thing started.
Also, Peggy Carpenter's last assignment was at Valley View.

To FTreusch:
The accusations against Vranesh came from far more than "a couple of WG employees…". The number of complainants I believe is twelve. It was a big number. And I'd like to know where you get your facts that the "couple of employees" had recently been disciplined.

Just because the closed session of the board meeting was long, does not mean there was no proof. But you are right, there probably was no "proof". But what do you want, a recording? A dozen harassed employees is a good start when it comes to disciplining an employee.

If you want to continue to think that he is a "man of high integrity," well, I commend you. But it looks like the board does not agree. They obviously do not think he "can get the job done without resorting to such vulgar acts."


Posted by Brian1, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2014 at 9:50 pm

Brian1 is a registered user.

Ok, so let me see if I got this straight. Valexis Sutton is promoted to custodian at Walnut Grove in late 2011. Web Link Mrs. Sutton is the daughter of Alex Sutton. Web Link Alex Sutton is the president of the California School Employee Association union. Mrs Sutton is reprimanded for poor performance (Hearsay). Mrs. Sutton files a complaint with the Office of Administrative Hearings. (See PW article 12-20-2013) Shortly after the OAH hearing, Mr Vranesh is placed on administrative leave. About a week after being placed on Administrative leave, Mr Vranesh sends an e-mail about a meeting that took place that day. Web Link He wants to know the details of the "serious allegations" and "concerns" about him, believes he is being treated unfairly, wonders why the administrator doesn't recall him emphatically denying used the "B" and "C" word and wants to get back to work. A month later, a letter from the district's attorney dated Nov 7th, 2013 spells out the details of the allegations in preparation for a meeting the following day. Allegations were made by "several women" he used the "B" and "C" word as well as made threatening statements to them. A month later, Mr Vranesh is removed as Principle of Walnut Grove. Web Link

Did I miss anything?


Posted by Brian1, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2014 at 11:28 pm

Brian1 is a registered user.

Get the facts,

You appear to have information not available to the general public. Where did you hear it was twelve people who complained about Mr Vranesh? Unless you have some proof, it's just hearsay.

On the opposite side of the argument, it should be noted that Mr Vranesh denies using the "B" and "C" word in the workplace. see Web Link He does not deny using the words outside the workplace. So he could have said it at an outside the workplace function and not be lying in his statement.

Anyway, I think the reason why conspiracy theories abound is because of the secrecy and "guilty until proven innocent" stance the district has taken against Mr Vranesh. If this were a criminal trial, Mr Vranesh would be innocent until proven guilty and the public would know what's going on.


Posted by Get the Facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2014 at 11:48 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Yes, the number twelve is, for lack of a better word, hearsay. I cannot tell you where I got that information, and alas, I cannot confirm it to be true. I have multiple sources telling me it is a long list of staffers, much more than two. Twelve is a number I have heard and believe to be true, but again, I cannot confirm this.

Yes, Vranesh denies using the words he is accused of using. I hope we can agree that using those types of words is not okay in or out of the workplace. Dropping an F-bomb, fine, whatever, we live in a free country. But using the B and C words is simply name calling. This is the type of thing we want our students to stop doing, so why would it be okay, EVER, for an administrator (or any school district employee, for that matter) to do this?

The district did not take a "guilty until proven innocent" stance. Putting a worker on paid leave, possibly for the protection of our students and/or staff, is not putting guilt on anyone. Like I said before, it's a vacation.

"If this were a criminal trial, Mr Vranesh would be innocent until proven guilty and the public would know what's going on." Not correct. Let's use a painfully obvious example, OJ Simpson. He was never found guilty (of the murders), but was incarcerated until the "not guilty" verdicts came in. Many criminals are incarcerated until they face trial. And no one is found "innocent", they are found "not guilty". Big difference. Vranesh was never considered guilty, he was simply put on paid leave. He is still on paid leave. His lawyer already said they have no move at this time, because he still is under contract, still getting paid.


Posted by TerryS, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jan 18, 2014 at 8:14 am

TerryS is a registered user.

I cannot believe that Alex Sutton called this fiasco a "little dilemma". Many lives have been severely effected:

- Walnut Grove currently has no permanent principal and this cannot create a good learning environment for the students
- Several employees (2 or 12?) have been sexually harassed (if the allegations are correct)
- Morale at WG is poor due the tension between this group and other employees & parents
- A well regarded administrator who worked his way up the ranks is now on paid leave and his career possibly ruined
- We (taxpayers) are paying this administrator a six figure salary to sit at home
- The superintendent has shown herself to be a terrible communicator with her lack of notice to WG parents
- The PUSD losing several million dollars due to the inevitable lawsuits

Alex: Can you please explain how this fits the definition of a "little dilemma"? I think you owe the Pleasanton educational community an apology.


Posted by Get the Facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2014 at 8:27 am

Get the Facts is a registered user.

I don't see why Alex Sutton owes anyone an apology. Vranesh could apologize for his actions, and/or Ahmadi could apologize for her poor communication. But Sutton didn't cause this. Maybe he mischaracterized it as "little", but that's hardly something he needs to apologize for.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 18, 2014 at 10:00 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

If it was a "little dilemma" then why did a man lose his position?


Posted by FTreusch, a resident of Walnut Hills
on Jan 18, 2014 at 12:19 pm

FTreusch is a registered user.

As someone who's life has been turned upside down by this, I also feel insulted by Alex Sutton's characterization of this SNAFU as a "little dilemma".

So Alex, did you misspeak in your speech to the Board (as suggested by Get the Facts)?

Or do you just have a low regard for all those involved?


Posted by Get the Facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

I think we can all agree that this is not a "little dilemma." But let's keep our eye on the ball here, Alex Sutton did not create this. I agree his choice of words was poor.

And your "life was turned upside down by this"? I think the only people who's lives were turned upside down were Vranesh and the staffers he spoke badly towards (allegedly). So FT, are you one of those staffers?


Posted by Brian1, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Brian1 is a registered user.

Get the fact

I agree the use of the "B" and "C" words is something that an administrator should not do, but whether it's an offense that should warrant being placed on administrative leave and removed from his position as principle is highly dependent upon the circumstances. If it was something he did regularly, was warned to stop, but continued to do it, then I would say sure. It's time for him to leave.

On the other hand, if it was a one time occurrence in which he said it out of frustration in dealing with a certain female night custodian who did not want to clean the bathrooms properly because her daddy was the union president and she would go cry to her daddy and tell him to make Mr Vranesh's life hell if Mr Vranesh tried to make her do her job, then I would say that's I can understand his slip of the tongue. It would, after all, be a fairly accurate characterization of the female night custodian. In such a circumstance, this should warrant a slap on the wrist and a warning not to do it again as well as the immediate launch of a racketeering investigation of the CESA.

I'm certainly am not trying to add to the conspiracy theories, but the public has the right to know exactly what's going on.


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