Interim vice principals chosen to fill vacancies at Pleasanton Middle School

O'Brien, Smith will join the school staff for a year

Two interim vice principals have been chosen to fill vacant positions for the coming 2015-16 school year at Pleasanton Middle School.

Former Hearst Elementary School teacher Mike O'Brien joins as a full-time interim vice principal, and district literacy coach Suzanne Smith joins as a part-time interim vice principal.

Both positions are funded for one year with the hope they'll be extended or added permanently, Pleasanton Middle School principal Aileen Parsons said.

O'Brien will replace former vice principal Jill Butler, who started as the interim principal at Harvest Park Middle School July 1. Butler replaced Ken Rocha, who has been named the district's director of education for the district's middle and high schools.

Smith will fill a newly created position at PMS and she will split her time between that school and serving the district at large, Parsons said.

O'Brien has been with Pleasanton Unified School District since 1998. He taught at Donlon Elementary School and most recently taught fourth grade at Hearst Elementary.

Since Pleasanton Middle often receives students from Hearst Elementary, Parsons said she's heard parents give O'Brien glowing reviews.

"I've heard great things of him for years," she said.

Smith started with the district in 1995, worked in Colorado for a few years and returned in 2007. She's worked as a literacy coach for students from sixth to 12th grade and taught at Hart Middle School as an English teacher and an Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) instructor.

AVID is a college readiness program. The program is used in all of the district's middle schools.

Parsons said Smith uses a variety of strategies to keep students interested in the day's lesson.

"I think she's phenomenal," she said.

O'Brien will be paid using money from the district's general fund, and Smith will be paid through a separate fund received for mental health programs.

Determinations about who will fill the O'Brien's vice principal slot permanently will be made over the course of the coming school year.

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4 people like this
Posted by eat
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2015 at 11:52 am

eat is a registered user.

Does anyone know what were the results of the hearings for Jon Vranesh?

11 people like this
Posted by Janna
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 14, 2015 at 2:01 pm

Suzanne Smith is excellent but how does district justify using funds for mental health programs to fund that position?

1 person likes this
Posted by Gina Channell-Allen
president of the Pleasanton Weekly
on Jul 14, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Gina Channell-Allen is a registered user.

@ Eat, Re: Vranesh hearing -- According to the Office of Administrative Hearings regarding the Vranesh v. PUSD case, as of yesterday a decision has not yet been issued on the case.

6 people like this
Posted by Mental Health Funds?????
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2015 at 4:35 pm

I had the same exact reaction as Janna. We need to understand why this additional vice principal is being paid for with mental health funds. I'm sure she's an amazing administrator, but mental health funds should be heavily guarded and only used for programs involving the mental health of our students. Forgive me, but from what this article says, I feel like funds are being stolen from those students that could use the support.

PW, can you please clarify this with the school district?

PUSD: Please see to it that funds are used properly and for the intended purpose. Where are these funds coming from and what's the rationale behind using them for more administrative personnel rather than on mental health related programs. Very troubling.

4 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Jul 14, 2015 at 6:26 pm

Isn't it "Hearst Elementary School"? ("Former Hearst Middle School teacher Mike O'Brien...")

3 people like this
Posted by Joyce
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Just a guess(if someone can verify that would be great) if I remember correctly, the Principal and/or the Vice Principals spend a tremendous amount of time in IEP meetings. It follows that some of those IEP meetings would be around students with mental health issues, maybe PMS has a significant number of these students?

Like this comment
Posted by SportsMom
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Jul 16, 2015 at 4:28 pm

What's the status on replacing the part time VP at Hart since the current one, Jessica Brooks, will only be working at Alisal? The school definitely needs more than 1 FT VP. I'm speaking as a parent & Hart (PUSD) employee.

2 people like this
Posted by Too bad
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Jul 17, 2015 at 12:05 am

Jill Butler was the last good English teacher my student had in 7th grade at PMS. Too bad she went the admin route, but I wish her much success. He's a senior. How sad is that?

5 people like this
Posted by SportsMom
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jul 18, 2015 at 11:00 am

TOO BAD.: unfortunately this is becoming a theme in our district. The really good teachers / admin who are awesome witv our kids are moving up to district. I commend them for their promotions, but the individual schools are losing good people & not replacing them with the same level staff. Many of my son's greatest teachers now work directly at the district. They are missed in the classroom & on campus.

2 people like this
Posted by Jac
a resident of Birdland
on Jul 19, 2015 at 3:39 pm

It really concerns me how many administrators, teachers, and even substitute teachers have been moving around or have left the district. As a community, we need to take a critical look at why. If we want the best education for our kids, then we need to make Pleasanton the most desirable place to work.

5 people like this
Posted by Disaster
a resident of Del Prado
on Jul 19, 2015 at 3:47 pm

After what the union did with the false allegations against Vranesh, would you want to work here for the district? No wonder the replacement principals and vice principals include some that have no admin credentials and instead have county issued emergency permits. The vintage hills principal resigned as well.

6 people like this
Posted by yeesh
a resident of Birdland
on Jul 19, 2015 at 6:19 pm

The union did not attack Vranesh, individual teachers did. Whether allegations are true or not, we know they came from individuals, not an entire group. Stop throwing trash at an entire group of teachers - most employees of PUSD have certainly heard of Vranesh, but I doubt most would know who he is.

21 people like this
Posted by Actually
a resident of Birdland
on Jul 20, 2015 at 6:26 pm

Actually the union leadership played a big part in what became the Vranish debacle. It was all in the public record released by the PUSD. Former union leader Peggy Carpenter went over to Walnut Grove after she was at a meeting at Fairlands and the gossip at Fairlands said something was going wrong at WG. After Peggy Carpenter gathered a group of the WG teachers to discuss their complaints (pretty much a big no no as it can be considered collusion, but a great idea if you want to get a mob mentality going) she ran down to the district offices and threatened to "go to the media" (a direct quote from PC in the FOIA documents) if Vranesh wasn't removed from the school immediately. It's rather sad that the teachers had hot headed leadership who flipped out and created even more of an issue that allegedly existed. Instead of handling the alleged issues in a professional manner, they wanted the principals head on a stick for what amounted to accusations of using bad words at work.

Now our district is into the mess for 100's of thousand of dollars with no end in sight. Just think of what could have been accomplished with that money if it was actually spent on the education of children.

If you think for a moment the new leadership of the APT is more professional, just have a look at Janice Clark's rant at the last school board meeting of the year. Web Link Keep in mind at this same meeting the board gave the teachers a raise. The union leader certainly didn't come across as grateful or appreciative.

It's also worth mentioning at that same meeting there were speakers from the parent's group that supports the band program at Amador. It seems that parents of kids in the band program at Amador are asked for a donation of 1100 bucks per kid to keep the program going as there are no other funds to support the program since the huge budget cut backs. A HUGE thank you should go out to parents for keeping that program (as well as many others) alive during the budget cutbacks our district faced.

22 people like this
Posted by Disaster
a resident of Del Prado
on Jul 20, 2015 at 6:38 pm

Good summary of the situation. However the lawyers' fees now run in the millions. Faraghan is gone. When are Douglas and cazares being booted out the door ?

Like this comment
Posted by Really?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2015 at 10:35 am

[removed] Good summary? Seriously? When gossip becomes a good summary- maybe it's time to look at yourselves when wondering what is happening to our schools and why people are leaving. Or you can just continue to speculate, gossip and create your own reality. Problem is, your so far entrenched in believing the 'summaries' found here, you wouldn't recognize the truth when it hits you upside the head!

12 people like this
Posted by Not Gossip
a resident of Castlewood Heights
on Jul 21, 2015 at 11:32 am

It's not gossip it was all in the documents released by the PUSD. I can email you a copy if you like.

3 people like this
Posted by Annabelle
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2015 at 12:04 pm

I'd still like to understand how this new VP is being hired using funds that are specifically meant for mental health related resources. The additional funds should not be being used to add additional administration and instead should be used for the benefit of those students needing assistance and support. This measure and the funding were approved because the funds were specifically for mental health services.

This needs to be reported to the proper oversight group to see if funds are being misused. We have lost far too many students to suicide in recent years that it would be a travesty if these funds weren't appropriately used.

Like this comment
Posted by Pleasanton Parents
a resident of Laguna Vista
on Jul 23, 2015 at 2:53 pm

Annabelle I can't speak with certainty, but it's probably because PMS has special day classes as well as a class of students with behavioral problems. You should be able to email someone on the board, like Valerie Arkin and get an answer. She seems to be good about answering emails. 5JfZo

2 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton was nice forty years ago
a resident of Castlewood
on Jul 23, 2015 at 9:01 pm

Well forget finding out about the finances government employees will never honestly answer those questions. They just want as much money as they can get and they don't really care what you or your kids think. They will lead you on and bs you and if you persist you will be labeled a trouble makeg parent or just a nut. Government covers their behinds to line their pockets with your tax dollars. Try to fire an incompetent teacher and see how that works. Try to fire any government employees and see how that goes. If you support our current government the you are a sucker

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