Pleasanton schools superintendent Parvin Ahmadi is resigning from the school district after accepting an offer to become the new superintendent of the Castro Valley Unified School District starting July 1.
Ahmadi wrote in an email to PUSD teachers and staff Thursday night, "This by no means was an easy decision for me as I have absolutely loved serving our students and you in Pleasanton. I have thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful journey we have shared together the last five year and want to thank you for trusting me and sharing my passion to serve all students."
The CVUSD Board of Education appointed Ahmadi during its meeting Thursday. She will succeed Castro Valley's current superintendent, Jim Negri, who is retiring.
"I am very excited about starting a new journey in Castro Valley, a wonderfully diverse school district serving preschool to adults and following an amazing leader, Mr. Jim Negri," Ahmadi said. "I look forward to working with another stellar team of educators and a wonderful team of Trustees who have a deep commitment to educating all children."
Trustees were notified Thursday that Ahmadi accepted a new position, according to PUSD school board president Valerie Arkin.
"We are confident that our excellent school district will attract a large pool of well-qualified candidates for the position of superintendent," Arkin said "on behalf of the Board of Trustees" in an email interview Friday. "We look forward to working in tandem with the Pleasanton community to make this important selection in the coming months."
Castro Valley board members interviewed 20 "highly qualified" candidates of both current superintendents and assistant superintendents, according to a statement released by the district.
"Candidates were interviewed in depth as to their strengths, commitment to education, high student achievement for all students, an understanding of a kindergarten to adult education system, the ability to articulate a clear vision, and work effectively with well-educated and dedicated teachers, administrators, classified employees, parents, and community members," CVUSD board president John Barbieri said.
"We found a new superintendent who meets and surpasses the above said qualifications," he added.
Embroiled for the past year in a controversy over the removal of Jon Vranesh as principal of Walnut Grove Elementary School, Ahmadi was the frequent target of critics both at school board meetings and in the media.
An administrative hearing to determine if the district's actions against Vranesh were justified ended earlier this month. A hearing panel's decision in that case is pending.
During the five years Ahmadi has been Pleasanton schools superintendent, test scores and state commendations of schools in the district have increased. In recent national press reports, Pleasanton schools have been given excellent ratings and cited as a key reason people move here.
"I am forever indebted to Pleasanton Unified School District for allowing me to fulfill my dream of making a difference in children's lives and to take an amazing school district to new heights," Ahmadi stated in Thursday night's email.
Ahmadi was hired at a starting salary of $220,000 in May 2010 to succeed John Casey, who was superintendent of schools in the Pajaro Valley school district that serves Watsonville. Negri, whose job in Castro Valley Ahmadi will be taking, was assistant superintendent in Pleasanton, but was passed over when the board hired Casey. Negri was hired as superintendent in a Mountain View district before moving to the Castro Valley position.
When hired by the Pleasanton school board in May 2010, Ahmadi was assistant superintendent of instruction for the Fremont Unified School District. She has an extensive background in education and also served as Fremont schools' director of elementary education.
The Pleasanton board paid nearly $30,000 for a nationwide search by Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, Ltd, to replace Casey, drawing at least one applicant from Canada along with others from Texas and the Midwest -- although only California candidates were interviewed by the board. It turned out that the "right" candidate, Ahmadi, was found less than a half-hour away.
The recruitment for a new superintendent is scheduled to be discussed at the next school board meeting June 9.