Interim principal named at Walnut Grove

Superintendent: 'I am not legally permitted to discuss any personnel issues'

An interim principal has stepped in at Walnut Grove Elementary School, although district officials aren't saying why.

But Principal Jon Vranesh still, apparently, has a job.

"He has not been removed from his post," Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi told the Pleasanton Weekly Thursday morning. "We as a district want to be decisive but fair to everyone."

An email sent to parents late Tuesday doesn't mention Vranesh by name:

"Mr. Rich Puppione is serving as an interim administrator of Walnut Grove Elementary School. Mr. Puppione served the District for over thirty years as a teacher, principal and district administrator," the email says. "We are confident our programs at Walnut Grove are in very good hands. Mr. Muniz will continue as the vice principal at Walnut Grove."

People have been speculating about the reason behind Vranesh's departure, but a followup email Wednesday from Ahmadi said the district is limited in what information it can release.

"I respect your right to know whether the recent appointment of an interim administrator at Walnut Grove involves questions of student safety," Ahmadi's email said. "While I am not legally permitted to discuss any personnel issues, I can assure you that these changes are not related to the safety of any of our students."

"As a district," she continued, "we are committed to ensuring our children receive an excellent education in a safe environment, and I am confident this has been -- and will continue to be -- the case at Walnut Grove, As much as I would like to resolve all questions raised by these changes, the legal restrictions a district faces in personnel matters are quite real."

Ahmadi and other district officials and the teachers union did not respond to calls from the Pleasanton Weekly, and a call to Vranesh's home went unanswered.

A number of people who posted on the Pleasanton Weekly's online Town Square community forum as current or former parents of Walnut Grove students said they had details about Vranesh's departure. However, it should be noted that none of the information could be independently verified and the posts were made by anonymous contributors.

"He has been placed on leave because the teachers have filed a grievance with their union and the district is to scared to fight the union," one of the anonymous posts reads. "The problem lies with the district and their lack of standing behind their administrators and from running scared of the union."

Another poster writing under the name "Former WG parent" stated: "Teachers are angry at decisions that are being made by their principal so they cried to the union about it and what does Parvin and staff do, they place an amazing principal on leave rather then fighting the union. Those teachers have been so angry at all the changes that the district has made that the only person they can go after is their principal."

That was apparently confirmed by a poster writing under the name "Debra":

"I do know that we have many unhappy teachers at the school as I hear the constant complaining," that poster wrote.

"This teacher(s) made a complaint about a principal they or she knows is well loved. They or she did not do this to make an example of him, they or she did this because it was what was right," wrote a poster using the name "Doni."

One person, writing under the name "WG Dad" said that Vranesh left two weeks ago and that the district didn't release information about his abrupt departure until parents began asking questions.

Another poster on the Town Square forum asked why it took so long for parents to be notified.

"(M)any rumors are going around. What did they expect when they wait so long to let parents have information," the commenter posted.

Other Town Square commenters have accused the district of being deliberately vague about the circumstances surrounding Vranesh's removal and replacement.

"Superintendents don't usually go around placing administrators on leave just because they feel like it, and there is some sort of investigation going on," said one poster who claimed to have a child at the school. "I have no idea whether or not (Vranesh) did anything to warrant this, and it's not up to me to decide his fate as principal. But it is up to Parvin to communicate effectively and in a timely manner with us, while honoring (Vranesh's) right to privacy."

The district did not answer questions about whether Vranesh was placed on paid or unpaid administrative leave.


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Posted by Cris
a resident of Birdland
on Nov 7, 2013 at 8:37 am

I hope that the teachers at Walnut Grove know they are Appreciated. I hope that Mr.Vranash also knows that he is appreciated.. I hope the district understands they are NOT appreciated!

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Posted by Irresponsible Newspaper
a resident of Castlewood
on Nov 7, 2013 at 1:52 pm

So the P-Weekly not only permits a bunch of unsubstantiated rumors about Jon Vranesh's reputation to be posted by anonymous people but then REPEATS those rumors in a SECOND story?

I'm going to clip this story and paste it into my dictionary next to the word "irresponsible" (and maybe the word "contemptible").

It's really disgusting to see what Gina Channell-Allen and Jeb Bing will do to get a little attention to their sorry excuse for a newspaper, up to and including slinging mud at Jon Vranesh.

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Posted by I've said it before
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 7, 2013 at 2:42 pm

I said it on the previous post, but want to make it clear. I am a teacher and had Jon Vranesh as my vice-principal. He is an amazing man and I learned so much from him. During his time at my school he worked hard and appreciated myself and the other teachers.

Mr. Vranesh - YOU ARE SUPPORTED!!!! There are a lot of teachers who are going to stand up for you!

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Posted by member
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2013 at 6:14 pm

principal vranesh is a great principal. it is very sad what is happening at this wonderful school.

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Posted by Another Mom that's supports Mr. Vranesh
a resident of Foothill High School
on Nov 7, 2013 at 6:20 pm

My children are a bit older so had Mr. Vranesh at PMS and Foothill. We have some great talent in the district, but he's the best of the best. He made my daughter want to make right choices. He knew his students and he knew the parents. He was hands on never taking the path of least resistance. He wanted to make a difference in the lives of his students including my oldest who was sent to his office a few too many times. He never gave up on her and made her want more. I'm not saying she's a criminal or ever even received a referral, but I believe his hands on nature and being among his students helped keep many of them from getting referrals or worse.

I have one left at FHS and was so sorry to see him go. I haven't gotten to know the new FHS principal, but if that new principal were Mr. Vranesh, he would know most of us by now. I mean no disrespect to the new FHS principal, but it's too bad Mr. Vranesh wasn't moved into the principal's slot at FHS if the teachers at Walnut Grove can't handle his amazing leadership skills. It makes me sick that the children at WG are being cheated out of having him there. This is a huge mistake, something I say after years of interacting with him in his roles related to my own children that were his students.

If you are a WG parent, demand answers and get this man back assuming he would agree to doing so. I promise you that as an administrator they don't come any finer.

Thank you Mr. Vranesh for always trying to point my daughter in the right direction. Maybe you're just too good for this city who can't seem to keep talent here. I wish you nothing but the best.

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Posted by District witchhunt
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2013 at 3:05 am

Can anyone explain why Walnut Grove now has an interim principal that was once the principal of Village High continuation school while Bill James was the superintendent and has a credential for teaching grades 7 though 12 only? The out of touch district administrators bring a former principal of Village High continuation school who has never taught at the elementary level to an elementary school? What are they thinking?

I agree that Mr. Vranesh is probably one of the best principals in the PUSD. He is well respected by the teachers and the parents of this community. Unfortunately, the out of touch district administrators seem to be on some sort of witchhunt.

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