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Pleasanton board's action leaves principal's status unclear

Original post made on Feb 27, 2014

The employment status of former Walnut Grove Principal Jon Vranesh still isn't clear in spite of a 3-2 vote taken in closed session Tuesday night to apparently strip him of any administrative duties.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 27, 2014, 7:52 AM

Comments (33)

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Posted by ConcernedWatcher.
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 27, 2014 at 8:53 am

The board and administration has done an extremely poor job of handling this situation. It is shameful.

This statement is upsetting. What was the board trying to hide?
"Vranesh also said he requested that the board's discussion about this position be held in open session as opposed to closed session, which he said is allowed under California Education Code if requested 24 hours or more in advance. The board, however, chose to vote in closed session"


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Posted by Hmmmmmmm
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Feb 27, 2014 at 9:23 am

This is a totally weak news article written by the Weakly! Why can't I access video of the meeting? PUSD should be making this available for those of us who want to see it! I heard that much more was said than what this article reports! Can someone who was there help me out?


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Posted by meeting on demand
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2014 at 9:26 am

Web Link

The meetings can be found here, but this week's has not been added to the queue yet.


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Posted by Frank Lynn
a resident of Donlon Elementary School
on Feb 27, 2014 at 9:43 am

If what Vranesh and his attorney state are true - that there's been no formal charges against him - and that the board chose to vote in a closed session; it does seem like he's been set up in retribution for his health and safety complaints. Also, he seems to enjoy a lot of student, parent and teacher support - perhaps this is why the School Board chose to vote in closed session? Additionally, if there were formal charges - and Mr. Vranesh and his attorney knew who were accusing him of creating a hostile work environment - it would be relatively easily for his lawyer to prove their motivation for make something up - such as a poor performance review (assuming he is innocent).

Most people might think that retribution for a health and safety complaint sounds a little far-fetched, but in the private sector, retribution for raising workplace health and safety concerns is so common that the US Department of Labor has a Whistleblower Protection Program for just that reason: Web Link

If it's true that Mr. Vranesh's attorney has been asked how much it would cost for him to resign, then it seems to me that Ms. Ahmadi and three members of the board know that he can potentially file a libel or whistleblower lawsuit that will ultimately cost the district (and us Pleasanton taxpayers) even more money. He appears determined to stand up to defend his good name - so in the end I think he will prevail. From a fiduciary standpoint, the Board/Ahmadi have already handled this poorly, having to both pay Mr. Vranesh to do nothing and hire a new Superintendent.

Despite Pleasanton's brand of having great schools and great teachers, it's going to be more difficult for organizations like the school PFC's and PPIE to raise money when folks lack confidence in the administration, and our schools' reputation will gradually erode. The only good thing that comes out of this may be that some concerned parents will run for school board - I think all of the incumbents up for re-election ran unopposed in 2012.


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Posted by POed in PTown
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2014 at 10:19 am

This way this whole affair has been handled, and the number of principals that have defected, makes it very clear that the current Superintendent and Board Member Chris Grant have got to go. Quite possibly, Jeff Bowser and Joan Laursen need to go as well. Probably several other school board members as well. It's clear that Jon Vranesh did something (probably justified) to p*ss our incompetent Superintendent off, and it is also clear that she is creating an environment that is motivating a number of Principals to leave the district. At this point, I am sure that Jon Vranesh wished he had baled as well. Parents, its time to wake up.


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Posted by Public Awareness.
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2014 at 10:34 am

Would PW please encourage PUSD to put a link to Mr Vranesh's 5 minute presentation at the last board meeting. It is important for us to hear , at last, his reflections on all this.


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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Feb 27, 2014 at 10:52 am

Lets show some patience. After all Rome was not built in a day.

Mr. Vranesh will have his day.

In the meantime please exhibit some maturity.

i rest my case...


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Posted by Public Awareness
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2014 at 10:57 am

To all concerned...the PUSD Board Meeting on Feb 25 will be aired TONIGHT at 7PM Channel 28


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Posted by TriValleytv -link
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2014 at 11:41 am

To all concerned...Tri Valley TV has a page of links to past PUSD board meetings. Mr Vranesh's board appearance at the Feb 25 meeting will be posted this Friday. The link to this page (of links to past meetings) is...Web Link


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Posted by Curious
a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 27, 2014 at 11:47 am

Who is the other administrator they voted on moving on?


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Posted by huh?
a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Feb 27, 2014 at 1:56 pm

If I were Vranesh and felt confident of my case I would make it all public knowledge and let people decide what is really going on here. He cannot be sued either because he is releasing his own personal info. Name names and let move on here Mr. Vranesh unless you are just trying to negotiate a separation agreement. Let the facts out. PW are you trying to interview Mr. Vranesh?


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Posted by ConcernedWatcher.
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 27, 2014 at 2:21 pm

To Huh,

I could reverse your comment and say if I were the accusers and confident of my allegations I would come forward with my name and state my case. However if I sounded like a petty mean person and my case was "he said mean things about other people" I might want to spew out my accusations and stay hidden in the shadows.

Seems that if Vranesh wanted a separation agreement he would have just named his price when the boards attorney came calling? It also seems to me from what I heard at the board meeting Tuesday night, it's the board, more than Vranesh, that would benefit greatly from a confidentiality agreement that would likely come with a legal agreement. And once again us poor public that would be left in the dark as to the mishandling of this situation by the PUSD

The truth always outs. Might take some time, but the truth always outs.


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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Feb 27, 2014 at 5:24 pm

That is exactly my point. He has all the cards and should just come out with the truth. The district nor the teachers union wants that at all. There is some dirty dealing going on in this town and I think 3 members of the board are involved. Yes, you are right the truth will come out and sooner than we think.


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Posted by Lessismore
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 27, 2014 at 5:42 pm

It's clear that Jon Vranesh did something to p*ss our Superintendent and unions off.

This has been handle so poorly it is joke. If one of my Sr Director or VP's handle a termination this poorly they would joining the terminated them self.

I have had the opportunity to meet out new principals at Amador and let say I was not impressed.

So why should we trust the Board or Superintendent.

This is a public elected group and they should be forced the hold the hearing an vote in public.

They are destroying a great school system that will impact the whole city of Pleasanton.

When our home values drop and our kids pay the price for this incompetence they should all be so proud.

THEY ALL SHOULD BE REPLACED



This way this whole affair has been handled, and the number of principals that have defected, makes it very clear that the current Superintendent and Board Member Chris Grant have got to go. Quite possibly, Jeff Bowser and Joan Laursen need to go as well. Probably several other school board members as well. It's clear that Jon Vranesh did something (probably justified) to p*ss our incompetent Superintendent off, and it is also clear that she is creating an environment that is motivating a number of Principals to leave the district. At this point, I am sure that Jon Vranesh wished he had baled as well. Parents, its time to wake up.


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Posted by WG
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 27, 2014 at 6:19 pm

I have to say after reading some of the documents it became very clear to me that there is a lot more to this then what it looks like. I was shocked and saddened to read that in most of the teachers reports they do not directly hear him use certain bad words but they overheard him use these words. I was also surprised to read a teachers complaint in were it was said that he sent an inappropriate text but when asked to produce that text the teacher could not. It shocking that any person could lose their job on such hearsay. It also felt as though the person who first reported these claims pushed teachers to respond a certain way. There were also a lot of conflicting stories in these reports. It is extremely sad that a school can run the way it does with such infighting between teachers. There have been teacher clicks long before John Vranesh ever came to WG. Don't get me wrong there's some great wonderful teachers at WG but there are some teachers that feels so entitled.


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Posted by Superintendent and Cabinet all need to be fired
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2014 at 7:37 pm

The Walnut Grove Kindergarten teachers, since PM Kindergarten was cancelled, basically have nothing better to do after 2 PM than plot vendettas and complain. One Kindergarten teacher began having emotional outbursts and tantrums insisting that her child be placed in a specific First Grade teacher's classroom after this note was send out April 22, 2013 by Mr Vranesh to all parents and teachers. THe Pleasanton Weekly can obtain this email that was sent out April 22, 2013.

It stated:

"For the 2013-2014 school year, Walnut Grove Elementary will not be taking requests for particular teachers. If there is a certain teaching style or environment that is better suited for a student's learning or social needs, we will take that into consideration.

If you would like to submit a request, you can do so by submitting a hard copy letter to the main office." Please do not send emails. For practical reasons, email requests will not be saved. Walnut Grove will be accepting requests until Friday, May 3rd, 2013. Letters received after Friday May 3rd 2013 will not be considered.

I appreciate your interest in your child's education. I look forward to serving Walnut Grove's students in the coming year."

The specific teacher then began spreading vicious rumors throughout the entire parent community and school, even making up a outlandish accusations about a supposed Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding style plot on campus, hearing things that no one else in the entire school seemed to hear, making claims about supposed Public Address announcements that no one else in the entire school or surrounding neighborhood seemed to hear, etc. and making accusations about a text message that was supposedly sent to her when she was out an out of town conference that no one else seems to have or can find. This was all for a vendetta because this specific teacher wants to run the school and not have to follow the rules that any of us have to follow.


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Posted by Huh
a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Feb 27, 2014 at 8:31 pm

Who is the teacher? Name a name


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Feb 27, 2014 at 8:39 pm

I wonder how long it takes for an individual's conscience to devolve into a state of paranoia after destroying other people's careers. Do such people spend their retirement as prisoners of their past deeds, constantly looking over their shoulders and checking under their cars, or do they sleep with the soundness of people who feel they have fought the good fight?

That is to say, how many people do you have to make angry before the probability of one of them coming back to bite you in the toosh at some point becomes statistically significant to your subconscious?

Mike


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Posted by Move on
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Feb 27, 2014 at 8:46 pm

I read the reports and there were several, not just 1-2 teachers that very directly heard him call employees a b**ch. He is the boss and he's allowed to do this? In my job we would be immediately fired for that. Contrary to what you might read on these blogs, most parents support the teachers and are happy he is gone. What kind of work environment would that be to have to listen to that. He is known for flying off the handle and having a temper. I have no reason not to believe all of these teachers who have been fine with other principals until he came along. It is very naive of people who just believe him because he seems like a nice guy, so he couldn't possibly do these things. Very naive. People at the school haved moved on but for some reason a loud few like to go on these blogs and make noise.


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Posted by Can't wait
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 27, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Jon Vranesh will have his day in court. He obviously has a great lawyer who will demand the truth from the teachers and district personnel . I hope they are ready.....


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Posted by POed as well
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Feb 27, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Hey Move On. There hasn't been anyone that has been professing he is "known for flying off the handle or has a temper" until you came up with that just now. Sadly Walnut Grove is a mess right now. There ARE great teachers there that do deserve and receive our support. Unfortunately, a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch! Every time there is a board meeting he brings countless supporters and no detractors. Anyone who only has the nerve to sit at a keyboard and spew what they haven't dared to say in public is nothing but a coward.


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Posted by ConcernedWatcher.
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 27, 2014 at 10:05 pm

I read the reports too. There were many (that were buried at the bottom) that said they never heard him say anything like what was being alleged he said. Not one of the reports said he said that he said anything like the b word or the C word directly to a staff member but they thought he said it about someone else. Who knew that if you repeated gossip about your boss and claimed he swore at work you could get him removed from his job? I guess you can if there is a school district who is afraid of the teacher's union. Remember in the reports the union representative said she threaten the board remove him immediately or else.

The complaints read like a few silly vindictive people gone wild.


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Posted by Report Said
a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 27, 2014 at 11:12 pm

25 interviewed. 18 said never heard or had issue with JV. 5 said they heard rumors. Only 2 out of 25 had complaints. So 2 people out of 25. Brilliant.

And as pointed out above those 2 people have a mass of support backing up their claims... On the blogs... At board meetings... At the meeting to ask what WG wants in a principal...... Oh wait no. No... Actually no support what so ever. Especially board meetings. The only teachers that have come forward are the 25 from PMS and others who have worked with JV - all in support against their union.

Against the union who's leader quotes lots of folks who made a real difference is peoples lives.... The union may need to stop grand standing with quoting people to try and look good at board meetings. Ones own actions are supposed to show thier character. You don't have great character because you stand up and talk about people who did.

We have done JV wrong, PUSD wrong, and our community. Sad.


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Posted by Thomas Jefferson
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2014 at 11:20 pm

I think maybe the best thing for everybody involved is to have all the parents in the PUSD vote on whether to keep him or not. That would be the most democratic thing to do. We know all the posters here know a lot better then the union sock puppet teachers and the incontinent Board. So if we could all vote like the US Constitution says, we could put an end to all this charade. Trust the people in these matters. I'd much rather have lessismore and huh? and POed decide on a guy's career than these namby-pamby administrators who have no backbone. That's my 2 cents. More democracy, less so-called experts. Experts. What a laugh.


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Posted by Not moving on
a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 28, 2014 at 4:15 am

Move on. Glad you can say that people at the school have moved on. Doesn't look like jon Vranesh and his lawyer have. So a persons career gets destroyed And you get to move on?
Pretty sure thats not how it works- this thing just got real


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Posted by P-town Mom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2014 at 8:23 am

It is a sad time for Pleasanton. I agree that JV has an excellent legal team and is being thoughtful and intentional about his actions. In the past week a lot more details have come out about personal information being leaked, people lying, people being bullied by faculty (students included) and a lack of communication from our Superintendent and Board.

In my opinion, what comes next is critical for our town and our students. There will be a law suit that will cost us, possibly, millions. And we need new leadership. My hope is that there can be some positive change from all of this and I hope for some peace at WG for parents, staff and, most of all, the students.


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Posted by Mystery solved
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2014 at 8:44 am

After reading these comments, I finally understand how an itinerant (see google synonyms "vagrant, hobo, vagabond and tramp") spends his or her time.


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Posted by ConcernedWatcher.
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 28, 2014 at 8:56 am

Dear Mystery Solved,

You are kidding yourself if you think all these comments were left by one person. There are many of us who are outraged at the actions of a a few teachers with a vendetta after reading those reports. If you are one of the teachers involved you should be ashamed of your actions and petty words in the reports. I doubt if those reports would have been made public earlier there would have been any support at all for the whiny, petty, small minded "testimony" of a couple of cranky teachers.


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Posted by POed as well
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Feb 28, 2014 at 9:02 am

Mystery solved: I repeat. Anyone who has the nerve to sit at a keyboard and spew what they haven't dared to say in public is nothing more than a coward


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Posted by AnotherParent
a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 28, 2014 at 9:32 pm

AnotherParent is a registered user.

The 2/25 meeting is up. I agree with the community speakers on this subject, especially Bruce Henry and his comments about the inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the interviews conducted by the investigator.

WG obviously is still broken as is the District. The "moving on" a post above mentioned will not happen soon. As it stands now, a handful of teachers have the power and are using it to get their way, whether it is to intimidate the office staff or others who work with them at the school.

What Principal in this district is going to be motivated to make needed changes if those changes are unpopular with the teachers? While in my opinion the charges against Mr. Vranesh are suspicious in this case; What victim of harassment is going to want to come forward, knowing their privacy probably may not be protected? In this case it appears un redacted documents were leaked and poor redaction of identifying information of the documents that were published is a concern.

The financial implications of this case are unknown at this point. We will wait and see what lawsuits come from this. I can't imagine much support if this administration asks the community to support a school bond in the near future.


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Posted by Retired Teacher
a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on Mar 1, 2014 at 10:31 am

Retired Teacher is a registered user.

Hi, everybody.

I'm a former teacher with PUSD--I stress FORMER. I retired from the district a few years ago.

I don't have anything specific to add about Vranesh's case, but I want to speak to the atmosphere of PUSD under the Ahmadi administration. I want to preface my remarks by saying that although I met Jon Vranesh a few times, I never worked with him and don't know him personally. I have nothing for or against the man.

Here's the truth about PUSD:

Retaliation against people who speak up on their campuses is a fact of life under Superindent Ahmadi. I know, because in the final years of my career, I both witnessed this and experienced it.

The modus operandi in these cases is always the same: gather up a mob of willing teachers who will repeat gossip and rumors as fact until they start to believe it themselves, and then the district administration whips these up into firm accusations. Some times it's other teachers who are the accomplices, but many of the classified staff are also culpable.

When confronted with a demand for hard evidence, these cases always fall apart. But the administration keeps coming at its victims with new charges. You can't set foot on campus without being harassed. Ahmadi does this to teachers and principals alike who she decides for one reason or another are "problems" (meaning they don't agree 100% with her). There is no such thing as "respectful dissent" under Superintendent Ahmadi.

I tried to speak about this with a Board member I consider a friend, but she wasn't listening. It's too bad Juanita Hagen is not still with us and on the Board, because I know Juanita wouldn't allow this ongoing campaign of harassment.

In none of the examples I can think of were formal disciplinary charges ever brought against principals or teachers subjected to harassment by district administration. When you beat down one set of charges, they come back with another set so that your life becomes a constant battle. I fought like this for two years before becoming eligible for retirement from the district I loved and served for so many years.

The biggest help I got was from the CTA (California Teachers Association), who said that PUSD went from being the district in California with the lowest number of teacher complaints about harassment and unfair disciplinary action to being the #1 district with such problems. The difference? We changed superintendents from Dr. Casey to Ms. Ahmadi.

I see now that Ms. Ahmadi is getting bolder in her harassment. If the Superintendent gets away with destroying Jon Vranesh's career, this will not be the end of it. There will be Jon Vraneshes and things are going to get very ugly indeed in PUSD.

Morale in many of the schools was very low when I retired because of the way district administration persecutes people. It's sad to see one superintendent change our district from a relatively harmonious place to one riven with strife, acrimony, and suspicion, but that's how it is.

What can be done? Only the Board has the power to end this, and the Board answers to the voters of Pleasanton. Make up your mind what kind of district you want to have and then decide if Superintendent Ahmadi is the person to make that happen.

If you are happy with Ms. Ahmadi's regime, do nothing. If you're unhappy, you have to take action. The teachers and principals have been fighting her since she came into office and gotten nowhere. It's time for the voters and for parents to get involved.

By the way, I planned to return to substitute teach in PUSD after I retired, but the bad taste I had in my mouth after I was harassed for my last two years put me off that. I substitute in a neighboring district now, and the difference between it and PUSD is like night and day.

I hope things are set right in PUSD. I did what I could when I was there, but it was not enough.

Thanks for reading this--

RETIRED TEACHER


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Posted by eat
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2014 at 11:12 am

eat is a registered user.

Thank you Retired Teacher. I read the information on the district website in reference to the allegations against this principal. I have to say, the statements form the teachers are quite weak, conflicting with very little concrete evidence, and amount to hearsay (they aren't even sworn testimony) and they would never hold up in a court of law. What are these 3 board members thinking by not clearing him? I have no vested interest in this school district or this situation as I have chosen to send my kids elsewhere. Unfortunately this principal is going to take the school district to the cleaners over this whole debacle and that will affect everyone in this town. The Board really needs to stop this madness and reinstate him fully. Sad all around I hope the principal finds the strength to persevere and gets his day in court if the Board chooses to do otherwise.


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Posted by Retired Teacher
a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on Mar 1, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Retired Teacher is a registered user.

I also read the redacted documents of the district's investigator that PUSD posted. At first glance, the witnesses appear quite convincing. Once I read through them a second and third time, I was less sure with each re-reading. There are conflicts in some of the testimony and, to be frank, not a lot of substance.

If the allegations against Jon Vranesh are true and can be substantiated in a court of law, why doesn't the District just fire him? Certainly someone who did the things Vranesh is alleged to have done should be fired. But yet PUSD doesn't.

To refer back to my own case: I was accused of not being "deferential" enough to district administration in meetings. When I asked what that meant, I was not given an explanation. My CTA (California Teachers Association) representative asked if the district had some problem with my performance as a teacher (no, I received five star reviews throughout my career, including the last two years) or with my collegiality (no, I was considered well-liked by teachers, staff, parents, and students and was considered a "leader" among the faculty). I was "difficult" because I disagreed with some of the district's plans and said so in committee and other meetings. I considered this honest yet respectful dissent and noted that I had voiced such opinions under previous administrations. Other teachers who voiced dissenting opinions received similar treatment, and the older and more senior a teacher you were, the worse the harassment. I was told by one district administrator that "older teachers seem to be a problem" and that the district wanted to bring in younger teachers who would be more "receptive" to Ms. Ahmadi and her cabinet's plans. I considered this to be evidence of age discrimination, but I learned after consultation with the CTA lawyer how difficult it is to prove age discrimination and so did not pursue any legal action. Dealing with lawyers just so you can show up and do the job you love--in my case, teaching--is not fun and I never imagined I would find myself in that situation. If the district's plan was to get rid of me, it certainly worked, because I not only dropped out of my committee assignments my last two years but took retirement as early as possible.

Some people have wondered if Ms. Ahmadi is punishing Jon Vranesh for being "difficult" and voicing dissent. I am beginning to wonder, too, and find the entire situation to be very strange. At least Jon Vranesh knows what he is accused of doing and saying; many teachers and administrations never faced such specific charges.

Perhaps the district was hoping Vranesh would go quietly once they put these charges against him. If so, that plan quite obviously didn't work out. I don't understand why, if the District has clear proof of wrongdoing, they just don't fire their employee, which is their right under law. Something just doesn't add up.


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