Former Hart Middle School principal Steve Maher launches campaign for school board seat

Joins 3 others in seeking one of three open seats on Nov. 8 election ballot

Former Hart Middle School principal Steve Maher launched his campaign Sunday for election to the Pleasanton school board on Nov. 8.

He joins three other candidates with a long history in the Pleasanton school system in vying for election to one of three open seats on the school board. The other candidates are incumbents Jamie Hintzke and Valerie Arkin, who are seeking re-election to four-year terms of office, and former Pleasanton school board member Kathleen Ruegsegger, at one time an executive assistant to superintendents in both the Pleasanton and Palo Alto school districts.

Maher's supporters were at the home of Bronco and Kathleen Hart-Hinek at a campaign rally to hear Maher discuss his vision for the school district.

"Let’s get back to what’s best for the kids," Maher said. "We also have to stop the revolving door of principals. Let’s get a procedure in place to direct the superintendent to get quality people, and then retain them so they’ll have the same feeling I have about Pleasanton. I love being here."

Maher said he also plans to focus on what he terms the "underserved" population of special education students in the district. A mere 26% of those students are passing or exceeding minimum standards, a rate he insisted must be improved.

He said current school board members Joan Laursen and Chris Grant and the late school board member Juanita Haugen as shining examples of board members who care, noting that they regularly visit or visited all schools in the district. It’s a practice Maher plans to emulate.

Kathleen Hart-Hinek, who hosted the event, is the daughter of Thomas S. Hart, a Pleasanton teacher, principal and assistant superintendent who is the namesake for Hart Middle School.

Maher was principal of Hart from its opening in August 2000 until his retirement in 2010.

“When I started my career, Tom Hart hired me,” Maher said. “And now when I start my career in

politics, I have another Hart who’s getting me going.”

Maher said he admired the late Tom Hart’s integrity, skill of listening without judgment and ability to bring people together.

“If we could get back to that, we’d be in a lot better shape,” Maher said. “I hope to bring some cohesion to the board and hope to get us all back focused on children.”

Maher has more than 40 years of experience as a teacher and school administrator. He taught at Fairlands, Valley View and Vintage Hills elementary schools. He was principal of Alisal, Donlon and Vintage Hills elementary schools and Pleasanton and Hart middle schools.

Since retiring, he has been interim school administrator at Fairlands, Lydiksen, Hearst, Valley View, Vintage Hills and Walnut Grove elementary schools, Harvest Park Middle School and Amador Valley High School.

Maher and his wife, Tina, have three adult daughters, two who teach in Pleasanton and one who is a principal here. Seven of their nine grandchildren currently attend Pleasanton schools.

For more information about Maher, sign on to his campaign website at or follow his campaign on his Facebook site at SteveMaher4PleasantonSchoolBoard/

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45 people like this
Posted by Maritess Simmons
a resident of Pheasant Ridge
on Sep 13, 2016 at 10:03 am

PUSD is already good at supporting high achieving students and that should continue. It is high time, however, to focus on helping not just kids who actually qualify for Special Education, but those in the "grey zone" who just. learn. differently. If anyone can effect change, my bet is on Steve Maher because he has a unique understanding of what kids need and how schools work.

28 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Hart-Hinek
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Sep 13, 2016 at 5:44 pm

Seems like my Dad made a great hire back in the 1970's when Steve came to interview in his office which is now the Blue Agave Restaurant on Main Street. Bronco and I were honored to help kick off of the Steve Maher for School Board campaign! Steve Maher is about what is right for the children of Pleasanton. His experience in our town coupled with his integrity and ability to bring people together make him a perfect choice to sit on our School Board!

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows

on Sep 13, 2016 at 7:22 pm

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

18 people like this
Posted by brad
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 14, 2016 at 10:10 am

Steve Maher is a Class Act. His values and priorities are great. We will be blessed to have his services on the school board.

5 people like this
Posted by Jason
a resident of Valley Trails
on Sep 14, 2016 at 1:57 pm

I was on the receiving end of decision that set me up for failure by Mr, Maher. The situation required work and compassion, In which he failed by not having one or both of those qualities. Good luck sir

16 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Sep 14, 2016 at 2:20 pm

Although I liked Maher as a principal, I am concerned that his press release in this article indicates he wants to emulate Joan Laursen and Chris Grant. IMHO, those two are responsible for the mess we are in today as they just accept the staff recommendation. They are just rubber stampers. In fact Joan was such a good friend of our failed superintendent Ahmadi, it was common to see them socializing together in downtown pleasanton, and she went to work for Ahmadi in Castro Valley after Ahmadi left our district.

7 people like this
Posted by Love Mr. M
a resident of Foothill High School
on Sep 14, 2016 at 3:56 pm

I always appreciated Mr. M's open door policy and focus on doing what is right for the student. I appreciate his new focus on the under served special ed student (and heartily agree about the need) while I also know he sees the full spectrum having sought his counsel repeatedly for both a high high achiever and a special needs student when he was principal. All the best to you, Mr. M!

11 people like this
Posted by Amy Paden
a resident of Del Prado
on Sep 14, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Mr.Maher would make a great addition to our school board. He is fair, kind and professional. He understands the unique dynamic that needs to happen for children to have a well-rounded and balanced education. He works well with students, parents, teachers and staff to accomplish goals to best to help children accomplish their true potential. I believe that he can make some changes that would really affect our children for the better. I believe he would listen to parents concerns and students concerns. Mr.Maher is a man of action, integrity and strength which our school community needs. I am proud to support Steve Maher for school board!

11 people like this
Posted by Inga & John Mannion
a resident of another community
on Sep 14, 2016 at 7:24 pm

My husband and I formerly worked with Mr. Maher, and we have the utmost respect for him! We have four children who attended Pleasanton schools. Moreover, we have both been working in education for 25+ years as teachers/ coach/ counselor. If we still lived in Pleasanton, we would certainly vote for Steve Maher for the PUSD School Board! Pleasanton is so lucky to have him!

8 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 14, 2016 at 7:33 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Chris grant never responded to a parent or a tax payer email questions.

Joan Laursen was a profound promoter of Ahamdi, supported Ahamdi, followed Ahamdi to Castro Valley and continues to work for Ahamdi and continues to support Ahamdi in Castro Valley.

Ahamdi is currently in the middle of a controversy in Castro Valley.

Like this comment
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2016 at 9:20 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Michael, is there a link to a story or article regarding the Ahmadi/CV controversy?

5 people like this
Posted by Bay Area Native
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Sep 14, 2016 at 9:39 pm

Bay Area Native is a registered user.

If you think that Jeff Bowser was a good trustee and that the Board with Bowser, Larson and Grant in the majority was better than what we have today then Maher is your guy.

8 people like this
Posted by Enough is enough
a resident of Beratlis Place
on Sep 15, 2016 at 9:16 am

Ahmadi along with Cazares should have been terminated for cause long ago. Laursen and Grant look like they failed to have any backbone. Bowser Laursen and Grant left this District in a mess that will take decades to recover.

Stan Dobbs was terminated last night by Hayward. Should have happened to Ahmadi and Cazares in 2011. I won't be voting for anyone that praises Grant or Laursen or Bowser.

Too bad CV ended up with a substandard and incompetent superintendent. Guess they failed to check with any resident of Pleasanton in their screening process.

Like this comment
Posted by res1
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 15, 2016 at 10:20 am

res1 is a registered user.

"Guess they failed to check with any resident of Pleasanton in their screening process." Actually if they checked with me I would have given her a good review so she would be hired by another district and leave our district. This saved us a lot of money vs. having to terminate her contract.

6 people like this
Posted by Egor Iakovlev
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 15, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Egor Iakovlev is a registered user.

I feel bad for anyone else who is running for this position, because it is in my mind nearly impossible to match what Mr.Maher brings to the table. He epitomizes gentle yet firm, and i have the greatest confidence that that he will successfully apply the same skills that made him an amazing principal to his new post. His ability to hear out and view issues with an unbiased and non-partial mind will be a superb addition to the Pleasanton School Board.

1 person likes this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2016 at 4:19 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Steve Maher is very well liked in this town, I predict he will win and possibly be top vote getter. I predict Valerie Arkin will win a spot as well. Jamie Hintzke is a bit more controversial, and most people don't know much about Kathleen R. I predict those two will duke it out for the last spot.

7 people like this
Posted by Bay Area Native
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Sep 15, 2016 at 7:49 pm

Bay Area Native is a registered user.

Jeff Bowser got the most votes in 2010 before he was unseated in 2014. Maher is endorsed by many of the same people and elected officials who endorsed Bowser in 2010.

Maher, like Bowser, touts his background in education as a qualification. Maher, however, like Bowser, has an unwavering bias to the teachers' union (APT) based on his past experience and family members.

Maher, like Bowser, can be polarizing and divisive. While serving as interim Principal at WG, Maher full supported the APT/Ahamdi narrative and did not tolerate opinions that conflicted with the narrative. He was either unaware or unconcerned with the strong emotions on both sides and exacerbated the divide by choosing sides and alienating dissenters.

Maher, like Bowser, is an aspiring politician. Bowser coveted the County Superintendent job and Maher's webpage proudly states that running for school board marks his foray into "politics." Politicians by nature are partisan.

The departures of Bowser, Ahamdi and Cazares had an extremely positive affect on PUSD. Maher will be a huge steps backwards.

I realize that many have had a positive experience with Maher. Those experiences and the similarities between Maher and Bowser are not mutually exclusive.

Caveat emptor.

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

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