Pleasanton school district hires county's education office spokesman as new PR office chief here

School board also OKs search firm to start recruiting for new superintendent

Pleasanton's school board has coordinated a game plan to start the process of looking for superintendent candidates while also hiring its new coordinator of communications.

The board appointed Patrick Gannon as coordinator of communications and community engagement. Currently spokesman for the Alameda County Office of Education, Gannon will report for work in Pleasanton Jan. 11.

In its search for a new superintendent to succeed Parvin Ahmadi, who resigned last May to become Castro Valley's superintendent, the board hired Omaha-based McPherson & Jacobson to conduct the nationwide search.

In the meantime, former Amador Valley High principal Jim Hansen is filling in as interim superintendent. A new superintendent is expected to be named in April.

At its meeting last Tuesday, the school board decided to go ahead with the recommendation of McPherson & Jacobson to begin recruiting and to post advertising for the position on education associations' websites and job websites, such as The search firm will be paid $28,000 for its effort.

Board members shared their opinions on the best way to move forward when recruiting individuals for specialized candidate meetings with community groups.

Tom Jacobson of the search firm said the plan is to select 8-10 individuals from various stakeholder groups to represent teachers, administrative staff, classified staff and other internal employees, as well as community members.

Three open forums also will to be held with finalist candidates for any community members who want to ask questions of the candidates. The dates of those forums have not been set but are expected to be held in April.

Jacobson said he recommends making the final two or three candidates public, and candidates will remain private up until that point. However, he said he's willing to keep candidates private throughout the process if the board chooses.

He said making the finalists public in other searches he's completed did not appear to have an effect on candidates dropping out of the process.

"We think there's a time when the candidates should say, 'Yes, I'm a finalist for this district and am proud to be a candidate for this district,'" he said.

The board mulled over the idea of providing translation services for community group meetings and community forums and asked district staff to look into what resources the district has for those services.

The board also decided on core qualities to focus on when selecting the next superintendent, including a commitment to equity, soft skills including honesty and integrity, the ability to create high-functioning teams and prior superintendent experience.

The board also scheduled a special meeting on Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. to meet with the search firm to discuss candidate interview questions, interview procedures, a compensation package and to identify individuals who will act as chairs for community meetings of various stakeholder groups.

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9 people like this
Posted by Why
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2015 at 9:54 am

"The board appointed Patrick Gannon as coordinator of communications and community engagement."

What? Is that really necessary? Aren't there already enough well paid administrators capable of communicating and engaging?

11 people like this
Posted by Because
a resident of Pheasant Ridge
on Dec 22, 2015 at 9:29 am

Yes, of course it's necessary! A single point of contact for communications between school and the public is a critical part of engaging families. I do hope that this is not a PUSD cheerleader type who only talks about PUSD/students accomplishments, but is able to meaningfully engage families as stakeholders in solving real problems (using real data, not whiney loudmouths) facing our school district.

7 people like this
Posted by Not necessary
a resident of another community
on Dec 23, 2015 at 11:54 am

Waste of money. The PR person is there to spin favorably the superintendent and the board. He or she is not there to serve kids.

5 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Dec 23, 2015 at 8:36 pm

What's this new PR chief costing, why do we need one, how many teachers could have been hired instead, and what in the world does the school board do??? Guess we didn't have to hire a consultant to appoint a temporary superintendent, and once again what does the school board do??!

Like this comment
Posted by PleasantonParent
a resident of Del Prado
on Dec 27, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Heck yes, it's necessary! After the utter failure to accurately and appropriately communicate with the community about the parcel tax and calendar changes, they are in desperate need of professional marketing communications help to turn around their image and actually let people know when they're doing something right! The district is in major need of PR help. The students have been suffering while the district and community bicker. This is a smart, business-wise move.

4 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Dec 27, 2015 at 10:23 pm

This is a stockholder relations position more appropriate to a corporation that has a public image to maintain, and deep pockets paid by those stockholders. The problem here is the stockholders are actually taxpayers and the corporation is the school district creating a buffer BETWEEN the taxpayers and the school board. And the taxpayers will pay the bill. Seems like a bad idea, maybe needing of some sort of oversight

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