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OAH: Pleasanton Unified's decision to fire former principal Jon Vranesh was justified

Legal challenge between district, former principal ends on district's side

An administrative dispute judge has ruled that the Pleasanton Unified School District's decision to terminate former Walnut Grove Elementary principal Jon Vranesh was valid.

The ruling, which was announced Wednesday, comes after a May administrative hearing that served as Vranesh's legal challenge to the district's intention to fire him amid allegations of inappropriate conduct.

The Office of Administrative Hearings, which is a quasi-legal tribunal that resolves administrative disputes, decided the district's allegations were credible and its decision to terminate Vranesh was valid, PUSD spokeswoman Nicole Steward said in an email statement Wednesday evening.

"The District is hopeful that this decision brings an end to this matter. Our employees should be confident the District respects and supports their right to work in a safe and non-threatening and hostile free environment," she said. "The District appreciates the support of the community, including its support of those who had the courage to come forward."

Vranesh's attorney Paul Kondrick rebutted that the ruling was based on insufficient evidence.

"Based on the limited evidence that was allowed at the Commission on Professional Competence hearing, the Decision and its findings are not surprising to Mr. Vranesh," Kondrick said in a statement Wednesday evening. "We are confident that a more complete review of the testimony and exhibits, not cited in the Commission on Professional Competence Decision and additional material evidence excluded from the hearing, would and will ultimately lead to a different result."

The ruling by the Office of Administrative Hearings will become available to read by the public in 30 days. Steward said until that time the information is "confidential and embargoed."

Vranesh was removed as principal of Walnut Grove and placed on administrative leave in 2013. According to documents obtained by the Pleasanton Weekly in early 2014, Vranesh was accused of creating a "hostile work environment" by calling female employees derogatory gender-based slurs. He was also accused of invasion of privacy and causing emotional distress.

In July 2014, two Walnut Grove employees, Lynn Cronin and Marissa Swanson, received settlements of $245,000 each after filing claims alleging Vranesh sexually harassed them and created a hostile work environment. A third unidentified settlement was also paid in the case for an undisclosed amount.

Vranesh claimed the allegations were unfounded and the district was retaliating against him after he raised complaints regarding health and safety issues several times in 2013.

During the three-week administrative hearing, Vranesh was asking for "economic and non-economic damages according to proof, reinstatement to his position with back pay, and punitive damages against the individual defendants … according to proof."

The issue has upset some stakeholders in the district, particularly regarding to the perception of lack of transparency. Vranesh was placed on administrative leave in October 2013 and formally removed as principal in December 2013, and weeks later the reasons why Vranesh had been removed as principal and placed on leave came to light.

District officials stated at that time they couldn't legally discuss the matter because rules protecting employee privacy forbade it.

Vranesh finished out the school year with the title of "itinerant principal" doing data analysis, and he wasn't offered a contract for the 2015-16 year.

Vranesh has also filed a civil suit against the district, which has not been resolved as of yet.

Comments

57 people like this
Posted by Trump
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 19, 2015 at 8:58 pm

Bring on the civil suit. JV you can still win and hold the liers accountable that made up the allegations against you, Don't give up and let them get away with what they did. Good luck you can do this


54 people like this
Posted by Kits
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 9:14 pm

A judge didn't believe his stories neither should you
what he did was wrong and it's time we move on


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Amador Estates

on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:06 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


48 people like this
Posted by Does the Flock Dwindle?
a resident of Avila
on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:12 pm

Does the Flock Dwindle? Will they claim another conspiracy?
Interesting that Vranish still has supporters. Let’s review the facts

1) The school board, based on an independent investigation, upheld the complaint that the employees were subject to a hostile work environment in referring to employees with sexually derogatory language

2) The school district insurance carrier, without authorization of the school board, decided to pay out settlements to three employees in excess of $0.5M

3) An administrative panel made up of a judge and a representatives from each side declaredly upheld the complaint against Vranish for creating a hostle work environment, unprofessional conduct and several other charges. This hearing lasted 3 weeks and deposed over 37 witnesses. What possible evidence was not presented. Also in this hearing, another teacher, who was not part of the settlement, testified that Vranish locked the door to his office behind her and told her that he “wanted f$ck her.”

Where on this planet is this kind of behavior allowed?

The cry’s from the public should be about how a manager sexually harasses his employees, claims that he was framed, engages parents and the community to support him with unfounded statements and costs the district over a $1M in settlements and legal fees.

We have a corrupt process when it takes over $1M to fire an employee who is a sexual harasser. No wonder our public school system is so bad when it take over a million dollars to fire an unprofessional and incompetent employee. The district also lost a school board member, a superintendent, and an assistant superintendent of HR over this over-hyped issue.

Mr. Vranish I hope that your teaching credential is revoked for such behavior. I can’t imagine how anyone could put you in the same room with students.

Good riddance and get some therapy.




























29 people like this
Posted by Jon Vranesh is fired
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:38 pm

Stop the madness! How can any of you stand behind this man who has been delusional from the get-go, [removed] he's been found by our local district and the OAH to be guilty of sociopathic behavior and has nothing but hatred for women and children in the fore front of his thinking. Let's close the door on this and call today the day we all start anew focused on the wonderful city and district that attracted us here in the first place.


87 people like this
Posted by Get Real
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:48 pm

First of all the woman to testified that he locked her in his office 12- to 20 times (when evidenced showed that you couldn't lock someone in his office only out) was not the same woman who after giving a written statement, several statements to an investigator, was deposed, testified at the hearing, then only remembered the alleged "I want to (removed) you comment" the second time she testified at the hearing.
She remembered only at the last "hail Mary Moment?" That sort of stuff would be LAUGHED out of a real court.

Please get your story straight.

Second he was not ever accused of saying derogatory comments TO WOMEN, he allegedly said (removed) and the C word about some other person. Big deal.

Third none of these women came forward until the union went hunting for info at the school These are middle aged women who had no problem calling the district because they weren't getting enough PEE breaks but waited two years until mention JV was saying the word (removed) at work? Makes no sense.

In what kind of world does someone lose there job because a small group of FRIENDS decide he is the source of all their problems? I guess in Pleasanton.

This small group of women didn't only go after Vranesh but after other members of the staff at school. Several were forced to leave after being harassed by the complainants in the Vranesh case.

How did the group of victims react? They accused him of not having friends as a child, they accused him of being a small man. They accused him of things that they themselves were doing in their own written statement. To top it all off they they had their boyfriends harass and threaten anyone who dare say they didn't have a negative experience with Vranesh.

Vraneshed worked in several schools, was a rising star in the PUSD he was promoted several times. It seems odd no other people complained about him other then a small group of friends at one school.



It's my hope that this tribunal is only the first step and justice will finally be served.


71 people like this
Posted by Falcon
a resident of Foothill High School
on Aug 20, 2015 at 12:07 am

I agree with Get Real.

The PUSD's real scandal is what happened with (removed until it can be verified) and her settlement.

So what better way for the union and management to create another drama to distract everyone away from the Foothill scandal than to create some drama across town at Walnut Grove. Every time these women were supposedly interviewed, they fabricated more and more fantasies. Sheesh. First it is shade structures. Next it is being locked in offices that don't have locks. Give me a break. Some people who do and say anything for a cash payout.


15 people like this
Posted by Enough
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2015 at 12:47 am

"The school board, based on an independent investigation, upheld the complaint that the employees were subject to a hostile work environment in referring to employees with sexually derogatory language

An administrative panel made up of a judge and a representatives from each side declaredly upheld the complaint against Vranish for creating a hostle work environment, unprofessional conduct and several other charges. This hearing lasted 3 weeks and deposed over 37 witnesses."

We will keep reposting this so that the outcome of many wasted hours and dollars can be comprehended.

Keep blathering, grasping at excuses- this happened, it was reported, it was concluded as guilty. You are no longer believed.


48 people like this
Posted by Get Real
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 20, 2015 at 1:18 am

He was not found guilty of anything. This was not a court of law


Repeating lies does not make them true


24 people like this
Posted by Spectator
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2015 at 1:34 am

So who will be the next principal that the Pleasanton Teachers Union will be hunting for sport?

If I was an administrator I'd get the hell out of PUSD as soon as I could.


13 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Aug 20, 2015 at 2:17 am

We build our principals up so much they almost feel invincible
I hope the intern superintendent will take action and avoid another walnut grove lawsuit
And listen to what is going on there with Jon's replacement


6 people like this
Posted by Move on
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 20, 2015 at 2:48 am

When bad things happen at schools people are brought in to help everyone involved parents included
I hate that the parents were left out of this equation
I get privacy but were talking about our kids
This is a place and teacher/principals we are supposed to trust with the ones we love most
we weren't given facts or reassurance that they were ok
People took side and it got ugly
Can we try to move on for the sake of our kids


10 people like this
Posted by Trebek
a resident of another community
on Aug 20, 2015 at 7:04 am

"Where on this planet is this kind of behavior allowed?"

What is Trump Tower. Do I win?


11 people like this
Posted by Rock
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 20, 2015 at 7:49 am

I feel bad for everyone involved. Who is the third person who got money? I can imagine the conflict and the pain the teachers must've felt having to come forward. I know he was a very well loved principal and it's hard for people to believe he could do this just like what's happening with Bill Cosby it's hard when someone you admire does something wrong.


18 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Canyon Creek
on Aug 20, 2015 at 8:05 am

Will the decision be posted om PW web site? Even the panel member Jon selected voted to fire him? If so that tells me alot and perhaps we all need to rethink what happened at WG and distance ourselves from Vranesh.


28 people like this
Posted by Done
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 20, 2015 at 8:11 am

I suppose that the people who are still supporting JV believe Bill Cosby too. He was also a nice guy who did a lot of nice things, except for behind closed doors when he didn't.. The district has been found justified. Millions of dollars spent, teachers pulled from classes to testify, stress and energy used up dealing with a trial, harassment and declarations of how the district and supt. will most certainly lose and pay when the verdict is reached. Now here we are, the district is found JUSTIFIED. Yet, more excuses and it's not over, blah blah blah. We're done, this is completely absurd now. Move on people!


17 people like this
Posted by Not done
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 20, 2015 at 8:36 am

What's the rush to declare this issue "done and over" and to "move on"? It's not for us to decide. Isn't it up to Vranesh to decide when to stop pursuing this? Also, for the Vranesh supporters, it's not all bad news; remember, we got rid of our "controversial" superintendent.


52 people like this
Posted by Get Real
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 20, 2015 at 8:50 am

Comparing Vranesh to Bill Cosbey is ridiculous. Bill Cosby drugged and raped women (I guess I will say allegedly because he hasn't been convicted of anything although his own words in a deposition said he bought drugs to give to women). Vranesh allegedly used WORDS some women didn't like. Rape and WORDS are two different things. Give me a break!

If you want to be so ridiculous as to bring up Bill Cosby as a comparison it might be worth mentioning that the women who have come forward with Cosby are from all walks of life, were at different jobs and organizations throughout a span of many years. The women who complained about the WORDS were a small group of FRIENDS at one location Vranesh worked at. No other people from Vranesh's other job sites came forward and complained.


10 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Aug 20, 2015 at 9:00 am

@Get Real: "Vranesh allegedly used WORDS some women didn't like. Rape and WORDS are two different things. Give me a break!"

You need to get real if you're downplaying sexual harassment to be just using "words that some women didn't like". Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious matter and a fireable offense. You try using some "words that women don't like" at your workplace and see how fast it takes you to be escorted out the door.

Yeah, rape and sexual harassment in the workplace are much different things, but they are both serious offenses.


41 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2015 at 9:18 am

Get real and the other Vranesh supporters comments read with more common sense.

Those who are so sure Vranesh is guilty are pretty extreme, comparing him to Bill Cosby, stating he was proven to be guilty of sociopathic behavior in the OAH hearing.

This is so much like the PUSD's investigators report with diatribes comparing oneself to Gandhi, gogurt smeared whistles and conjecture of what he was like as a child. Doesn't make sense at all but distracting when you're crying wolf.

Those of us with first hand experience with the accusers as well as Jon Vranesh know what these people are like. Their behavior through this whole situation has not been that of victims. They've bullied others, acted atrociously at the hearing, and treated the whole venture as a girls day out. It's like a chapter written in collaboration between the authors of 'Queen bees and wannabes' and 'Tales from Swankville'.


39 people like this
Posted by Get Real
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 20, 2015 at 9:20 am

Damon, I don't think you ever read the foia documents that the district supplied. There was one complainant that said something like - I heard him use the B word in the staff room once about 2 years ago but I really don't remember. That is harassment? And you even try to compare it to rape?

And my understanding that to claim harassment you have to say it was done or said about YOU. Not one of the women said he call THEM names, they calmed he called others names.

Also all that was ever claimed in the beginning was HOSTILE work environment, any mention of sexual harassment came later when a couple of the complainants started "remembering" more things he allegedly did. Interestingly enough, it was when they were seeking cash payouts. Easier to get money for sexual harassment then hostile work environment.

Also if you ask, many employees at WG will tell you the complainants themselves were guilty of creating a hostile work environment. To use the ridiculous Cosby comparison it's like saying some of his victims were also drugging people for sex but only claimed it was bad when he did it.


6 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 20, 2015 at 9:22 am

Wow guy sounds like D Trump. Now all can focus on education of our children! Or we should.


4 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Aug 20, 2015 at 9:35 am

@Get Real : "And my understanding that to claim harassment you have to say it was done or said about YOU. Not one of the women said he call THEM names, they calmed he called others names. Also all that was ever claimed in the beginning was HOSTILE work environment..."

There are two types of sexual harassment. There is "direct" quid pro quo sexual harassment, which is what you appear to be thinking of and defining as sexual harassment. But there is also "hostile work environment sexual harassment", which is what you appear to be defining as just "hostile work environment" and not a form of sexual harassment. If so, then you're wrong about that. FYI, this is also considered a form of sexual harassment and, like the other type of sexual harassment, is also a fireable offense.


34 people like this
Posted by Get Real
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 20, 2015 at 9:51 am

Damon, so if women use the B word at work, than a man allegedly does it, it's hostile work environment sexual harassment for the women? Good luck with that in a real court of law.

I will say this was not called sexual harassment in any way shape or form in the beginning, that seemed to start here on these boards because it was a few women accusing a man it was assumed it was sexual

In the FIOA documents, the complainants called him names, made medical diagnoses (when then are teachers and not doctors) and referred to his stature and size (appearance) in a derogatory way. He was called Hitler (among other things) in the documents,which I guess means they were comparing him to a mass murderer. They were guilty in their own words that the PUSD published, of what they were accusing him of doing.


21 people like this
Posted by The Donald
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Aug 20, 2015 at 10:00 am

@Trump - You're fired!!
@Falcon - You're fired!
@Spectator - You're fired too!
@Trebek - You're fired as well!
@Get Real - You're definitely fired!!
@Parent - You're just pathetic. If you had a job, you'd be fired!

37 people testified for & against Mr. Vranesh. The OAH had the final word:
@JV - You're fired! Buh Bye


5 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Aug 20, 2015 at 10:03 am

@Get Real : "I will say this was not called sexual harassment in any way shape or form in the beginning, that seemed to start here on these boards because it was a few women accusing a man it was assumed it was sexual"

We'll see. The ruling and the logic behind the ruling will be publicly available in 30 days.


4 people like this
Posted by sam
a resident of Canyon Creek
on Aug 20, 2015 at 10:07 am

If Jon's lawyer has the decision, perhaps he will share it with the PW so we can all read it and stop speculating.


24 people like this
Posted by Get Real
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 20, 2015 at 10:08 am

OAH doesn't have the final word. It's more of a starting point in a dispute

Damon, I agree we will have to wait and see and not just for the tribunal ruling and "logic" but for what any higher courts and authorities have to say.


19 people like this
Posted by Scott Walsh
a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on Aug 20, 2015 at 10:10 am

I hope Mr. Hansen can get this school district straightened out. Too bad he is only temporary. This district should be sanitized from top to bottom.


19 people like this
Posted by Get Real
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 20, 2015 at 10:12 am

@The Donald - so you are saying anyone that disagrees with you should be fired, and made fun of because you surmise they don't have a job? Sounds par for the course in this mess.


22 people like this
Posted by Jane
a resident of Country Fair
on Aug 20, 2015 at 10:42 am

If that was your daughter, mother or wiife would you be so supportive?
His actions were inexcusable, he got caught and tried to smear the good images and reputation of these teachers
I feel some of his supporters have their own axe to grind with the teachers/District and will support him just to prove a point


17 people like this
Posted by The Donald
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Aug 20, 2015 at 10:51 am

@Get Real - I'm not making fun of people who don't agree with me. I'm merely trying to add some humor to a truly absurd situation. An employee of the PUSD broke district policy and California Labor Law. His dismissal was not only inevitable, it is required.

The fact that his fanboys think they can bring him back because he's a "nice guy" who was liked is ridiculous. You are costing the district money, don't you get it? Let the poor guy go try to put his life back together and stop encouraging him.


19 people like this
Posted by Sal
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 20, 2015 at 11:15 am

This whole Jon Varesh saga was a thinly veiled attempt to get more right-wing ideologues on the school board. It is that simple. Did the Cult of Varesh, in their blind loyalty to Saint Varesh, ever once consider that he might be responsible for his actions. Nope, the deity and martyr Varesh is beyond reproach according to these right-wing evangelists. Don't be fooled, right-wingers had it in for Ahmadi from the beginning because she wasn't some whitebred, Sarah Palin clone. Did it really take this community this long to catch on to this?


25 people like this
Posted by Done
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 20, 2015 at 11:17 am

So some people on here are hoping that he brings the district back to court and takes millions more away from our schools. It is ludicrous! He lost this case at the expense of our children and our donations, yet people want more?? He lost, it's time for all of us, including him and his followers to move on and stop wasting the schools time and district money on this nonsense.
@Get Real, the Bill Cosby analogy represents how the many people defended him and refused to believe he could do wrong since he appeared so trustworthy, it took at least 10 years for most people to believe the woman who made the first case. I am not saying that rape and harrassment are the same thing, but rather how YOU don't know what people are doing unless you were there. There were at least 7 school employees who testified of JV doing and saying very inappropriate things for an elementary school principal. I do not want the principal of my kids school saying those things and I don't want the teachers feeling that way. I was not there either, so I don't know if there was embellishment to some of this or not, but it certainly came from somewhere. The district was correct to remove him and the court has now ruled it VALID. Done.


50 people like this
Posted by Get Real
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 20, 2015 at 11:23 am

I am neither a fan or a boy. Why the name calling? Why is being a "boy" suddenly a bad thing anyway? Can't you be civil? But like I said it's par for the course in this mess.

But I guess in this district it's ok to engage in harassment, bullying, name calling and derogatory comments as long as you claim to be a victim first?

As for the "if it were your daughter comment", I hope that I am teaching my daughters to speak up if they feel someone is doing something wrong at the time the person is doing it, and not wait 2 years, then have a meeting with their friends to compare stories then engage in some of the same behavior they are accusing another person of doing.

Conditions at WG were and are not good (and they still have big issues) and it had little to do with Vranesh. Teachers were frustrated because of huge class sizes. Kindergarten went from 20 to 30 students in 5 years. Budgets were cut and many perks like free lunches like in the day of the days of Radulovich were gone. Common core was being implemented, the discovery program was cut. Everyone was extremely frustrated. Teachers were complaining about everything from not getting their classroom doors decorated by parents for teacher appreciation week to the disparity in christmas gifts from parents. Rooms weren't being cleaned properly and no one could seem to get anything done about it. If the teachers felt enormous pressure I am sure the principal did as well. There were many teachers and a union to band together. The principal stands alone save for a part-time vp who showed up a couple of times a week. It was convenient to blame Vranesh for all the ills at WG issues and bring out a laundry list of everything he did and didn't do over a long period of time. If he was using unsavory language at work, then yes it he should have been disciplined for it, but I will never agree with the "I want his head on a stick" attitude when there were a number of factors at play.

I don't know why people want to avoid the fact that Vranesh was not the only target of the complainants. They also made serious accusations about other staff members. No discipline measures were taken with anyone else that was complained about so I it would seem Vranesh was the sacrificial lamb.


53 people like this
Posted by Get Real
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 20, 2015 at 11:31 am

@done I don't want people teaching my children to be the type of people who call a person a "small man" or claim "he had no friends as a child" or made medical diagnoses that they had no authority to make and all of the other nasty things they said and did in the statements they made to the school "investigator". Does that mean I can have everyone who engaged in bad behavior, name calling and the rest in those statements fired? I don't want anyone teaching my children who accuses a custodian of threatening them with a leaf blower because he was blowing leaves. I don't want anyone teaching my children who claims that return of a whistle is a criminal act. hy complain to an investigator and not the police if you think is someone committing a criminal act. I know I would.

Saddest thing about the FOIA documents is they revealed very bad behavior on the part of the complainants who are in our classrooms with our kids every day.


21 people like this
Posted by Done
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 20, 2015 at 11:48 am

@Get real, I also read the reports and had a different interpretation. I am happy with those teachers being with my kids and I know they are great teachers. Obviously you feel very strongly about this, enough to spend your entire day attending to this blog making sure you have the final word. I am excited for the new year at WG and glad that our teachers can start on a positive not this year. I hope you can get away from your computer and enjoy your day.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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