Vranesh, others testify at former Pleasanton principal's dismissal hearing

Another hearing today, then again May 6-8

Earlier testimonies were refuted and the character of one witness was questioned during testimony Monday at former Walnut Grove Elementary School principal Jon Vranesh's hearing to appeal his termination from the Pleasanton Unified School District.

Vranesh and other former and current district staff members testified Monday, the fifth day of the hearing.

Vranesh was placed on administrative leave in October 2013 for allegedly creating a "hostile work environment." In July, two Walnut Grove employees, Lynn Cronin and Marissa Swanson, received settlements of $245,000 each after filing claims alleging sexual harassment and a hostile work environment at the hands of Vranesh.

Cronin and Swanson testified as district witnesses last week. Cronin, a teacher at Walnut Grove, testified April 23 that Vranesh would lock her inside his office whenever he called her in, noting it was "more than 10 times but less than 20."

Ann O'Neal, Vranesh's former secretary and current Mohr Elementary School attendance clerk, said Monday in response to Cronin's statement, "You can lock someone out of your office but not in your office."

"She felt very comfortable walking in," said O'Neal of Cronin.

Vranesh noted during his testimony that he hardly ever called Cronin into his office.

On April 24, Swanson, a counselor at Walnut Grove, testified that Vranesh used violent language that "made you feel uncomfortable." She stated that Vranesh used the terms "perps and victims" to keep track of students being disciplined.

O'Neal testified these terms were used in Zangle, a database for students' information, which included attendance and behavior records.

She provided an example of students getting into an argument. Students were noted as the "perp" or "victim," depending on their role in the argument.

Greg Giglio, the former principal of Village High School, testified that these terms can also be used to communicate with law enforcement, if ever involved.

On April 23, Walnut Grove second-grade teacher Debbie Sweeney testified that she heard Vranesh use profanity in the workplace, specifically after a Discovery Program meeting in spring 2012, referring to a parent as "the 'A' word."

"I never heard a principal speak like that so I was surprised," Sweeney said.

During Vranesh's testimony, he admitted to using the word referring to a parent, adding that the man was "degrading her (Sweeney)."

"We were walking away and she was pretty fragile, a little bit shaken up," Vranesh said Monday. "She's just a kind person. I said 'Debbie, don't worry about it, that person is an (a******).'"

Also during Monday's hearing, Vranesh's attorney, Paul Kondrick, asked O'Neal and former Walnut Grove secretary Mary Snell, based on their knowledge, if they have formed an opinion about Cronin.

Snell said, "She is not truthful."

"I think she lies and I think she needs the attention," said O'Neal.

When asked about the characteristics of the Walnut Grove teachers as a whole, O'Neal said they "almost had a diva-attitude."

"There was a sense of entitlement, a sense that some of rules or policies didn't apply to them," Snell added.

The district's attorney, Kim Kingsley Bogard, could not be reached for comment.

Vranesh was the last witness called Monday and was not finished by the end of the hearing day. He is scheduled to resume his testimony at a later time.

This is the second of the three weeks of the hearing. It is scheduled to be held through today and then again May 6 to 8. The hearing starts each day at 9 a.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m. at the Office of Administrative Hearing in Oakland, 1515 Clay Street, Ste. 206.

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39 people like this
Posted by PW Bias Continues
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 28, 2015 at 8:09 am

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62 people like this
Posted by What???
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 28, 2015 at 8:24 am

Who believes that he said this? Just another example of these young Diva teachers thinking the world revolves around them. It gives all of our teachesrs a bad name. Too bad!. You say under oath these comments were made. How can they back off now? They would get sued for defamation. Give them all lie detector tests.

43 people like this
Posted by DCOT
a resident of Stoneridge
on Apr 28, 2015 at 9:30 am

And we would support a parcel tax because why? Our school district administration demonstrates great leadership and stewardship?

54 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Apr 28, 2015 at 9:56 am

Kind of disappointed in the summary of the evidence presented here in this article. All I see here is that:

(1) Vranesh would lock his office door when he met Cronin. The implication by Cronin seems to be that it was to lock her in so he could make advances on her or something like that, but was there any testimony that Vranesh acted inappropriately towards her when she was in his office? I would guess not if she, by her own admission, walked into his office 10 to 20 times under these conditions. Was it possible that he simply didn't want their conversation to be disturbed? What was the nature of their conversation that he didn't want them to be disturbed? Did other teachers report the same sort of behavior by Vranesh, or was this something he did just when he met with Cronin? Come on PW! Act like real investigative reporters and answer some of these basic questions which surely must have been covered in the testimony!

(2) Vranesh used "violent" language, describing students as "perps" or "victims". As mentioned in the article, a former Principal of Villiage High said that such terms can be used to communicate with law enforcement. OK, communicating with law enforcement would probably be much more likely in a high school than in an elementary school which Vranesh was principal of, but we're there any other examples of "violent" language by Vranesh?

(3) Vranesh used the word "a******" while attempting to soothe a teacher's feelings after a confrontation with an upset parent. OK, he probably shouldn't have said that, but really need a lot more examples of "violent" language than that to fire a principal.


So all I have been able to gather from this article is that two Walnut Grove employees walked away with $245K each because one of them went into an office with Vranesh in which he locked the office door (and apparently nothing physical or inappropriate happened), and because the other person, a counsellor, heard Vranesh use the words "perps" and "victims" to keep track of students being disciplined. That's it? Is that all the evidence presented, or did the PW just do a poor job of reporting on the evidence here?

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