Pleasanton Weekly

News - May 7, 2010

Pleasanton school board picks new superintendent

Fremont educator to succeed retiring John Casey

by Glenn Wohltmann

The Pleasanton school board has chosen Parvin Ahmadi as the new superintendent of the Pleasanton Unified School District pending final approval by the board at its next regularly scheduled public meeting.

Ahmadi, who has extensive background in education and for the last two years has been Assistant Superintendent of Instruction for the Fremont Unified School District, will succeed Superintendent John Casey, effective with his retirement June 30 after eight years at the helm of the city's schools.

In Fremont, Ahmadi supervised assessment, elementary and secondary education, special education, student services and the selection of instructional materials as well as federal- and state-related projects. She and her husband live in Fremont.

In an interview with the Pleasanton Weekly, Ahmadi said she worked with school principals and school directors throughout the district in all matters related to curriculum and instruction.

Before that, she was Fremont schools' director of elementary education.

"In that position I worked with all K-12 school plans, new teacher training, beginning teacher support and development, professional development for teachers and principals in K-12, and overseeing elementary schools and evaluating elementary school principals," Ahmadi said.

The Pleasanton school board is negotiating a final salary contract with Ahmadi.

School Board President Chris Grant said that given the economy and financial belt-tightening in the school district, Ahmadi's base salary and other benefits will be less than Casey's current base salary, which is $227,000.

Ahmadi began her career as a teacher, which she said has given her some insights.

"I've been fortunate to be in Fremont not only as an administrator, but as a teacher, because what really matters is in the classroom," she said. "It gives me a good lens to look through to meet the needs of students."

"It also really helps me as an administrator to appreciate the work that's done at the class level," she added. "Even at the district office, you want to make sure you're connected with schools so I made it a point to visit schools all the time, all through the year, so I can support students and teachers."

She said Fremont and Pleasanton have many of the same successes and challenges.

"I am looking forward to working with Pleasanton administrators, teachers and students to see where we want to go next," she said. "I think we always want to strive for better, to look at students improving not only academically, but also the social and emotional needs of the students. Student achievement is critical, but we also have to make sure that the social and emotional needs of the students are being met."

Ahmadi wants to ensure what she called wraparound services for all students.

"If a student has academic needs, we need to look at academic needs," she explained. "If the student has needs for other services, how do we provide that for the students? What are some of the things we can put in as safety nets for our students that are at risk? I think it is critical that the student is involved and also the parents."

Ahmadi isn't planning any big changes in the district, at least for now.

"I'm going to enjoy getting to know everybody," she said. "I'm going to visit all the school sites and meet with staff and principals. I think my first few months will be to wrap my arms around Pleasanton and go from there."

Grant said he's very pleased that the school board will be working with Ahmadi.

"She's an ideal choice for Pleasanton, given her background in K-12 curriculum, her experience working in a diverse community, her focus on academic excellence, her commitment to working on the whole child, their well being and character development. Her demeanor and her communication style are going to fit very well with the management team that we have."

Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, Ltd. (HYA) was hired at a base cost of $30,000 to conduct the PUSD's search. An initial pool of 30 candidates was narrowed to six, then four.

The final four were interviewed in a series of closed-door sessions April 16-18. Those candidates met with a community panel of administrators, parents, community leaders and teachers union representatives.

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