News


Pleasanton school district superintendent placed on administrative leave

Personnel matter being investigated, board says

Less than six months into his tenure, Pleasanton school district Superintendent Rick Rubino has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into an unspecified personnel matter.

The school board, in a statement released Tuesday, said its decision a day earlier to place Rubino on leave "demonstrates that we place the highest priority on creating and maintaining a professional working environment for all employees."

The statement also indicated that deputy superintendent of business services Micaela Ochoa has agreed to serve as the district's leader during this time. She becomes the district's fourth leader since spring 2015.

"We are confident her familiarity with the district, our programs, people, and parent and community partners will help to ensure stability and a continued focus on student achievement," the board said in its statement, emailed by district spokesman Patrick Gannon to PUSD employees, families and the public on Tuesday.

Board president Joan Laursen declined to comment further on the matter. Rubino had not returned calls for comment as of Wednesday afternoon.

Gannon said he could not elaborate further since it is a personnel matter, adding that it's not known at this time how long the investigation will take.

"The board's intent is it will be as expeditious as possible," Gannon said. He added that the district is in the process of hiring an independent investigator to handle the investigation. That investigator will report to the school board.

Rubino was officially placed on leave Monday after a special school board meeting at 8 a.m. that day in which the board was scheduled to take action on disciplining an unnamed employee in closed session. The meeting was noticed on the district's website on Friday evening.

The board "reached consensus" on the decision during its closed session meeting, Gannon said.

Rubino started as Pleasanton superintendent on July 1 following four years as the superintendent of Gridley Unified School District in Butte County. A Walnut Creek resident, Rubino also worked as an administrator for school districts in Fremont, San Leandro, Concord and Martinez during his career.

The school board approved a three-year contract for Rubino in May with an initial annual base salary of $256,000.

Rubino was hired after a five-month search. He replaced former Amador Valley High School principal Jim Hansen, who stepped out of retirement to fill the superintendent seat for the 2015-16 school year while the district searched for a permanent successor to Parvin Ahmadi.

Now taking the reins in the short-term, Ochoa had worked as deputy superintendent of business services since she was promoted last December. She previously worked as the chief business officer for the Santa Clara County Office of Education.

Gannon said Ochoa will still be fulfilling her deputy superintendent duties as the district's interim leader.

"We're really grateful Micaela Ochoa agreed to serve as leader during this time," he said. "We're going to continue to focus on doing what's best for students."

Ochoa stepping in as interim leader serves as the latest change during a time of significant transition for the district and amid a period marked by leadership turnover.

Last month, Pleasanton residents resoundingly passed the $270 million school facilities bond Measure I1 and voted retired Hart Middle School principal Steve Maher onto the school board.

During his campaign, Maher emphasized that he wanted to join the school board to help "stop the revolving door of principals, staff and district office personnel." Since the start of last school year alone, there have been new principals at eight of the district's 15 schools, including three at Harvest Park Middle School.

The board had been slated to begin reviewing the district's hiring practices in January.

Comments

22 people like this
Posted by Beverly
a resident of Birdland
on Dec 20, 2016 at 1:03 pm

As a parent, its' hard to believe I had to find this out in the paper instead of from the District.

Perhaps it's time for the District to be put under administrative stewardship?


26 people like this
Posted by Dave Petterson
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 20, 2016 at 1:10 pm

I got an email from the district announcing this about 20 minutes before this story was posted. No details though, and I'd really like to know what's going on.


1 person likes this
Posted by MarkM
a resident of Birdland
on Dec 20, 2016 at 1:15 pm

This is the email I received at 12:11 pm today:

Hello PUSD families,

We wanted to share an important message from the Board of Education regarding closed session during a special board meeting held yesterday.

An Important Message From The Pleasanton Unified School District Board of Education

The Board of Education has placed the Superintendent on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation regarding a personnel matter.

The Board’s decision to conduct this investigation demonstrates that we place the highest priority on creating and maintaining a professional working environment for all employees.

We are pleased and grateful that Deputy Superintendent Micaela Ochoa has agreed to serve as the leader during this time, and we are confident her familiarity with the District, our programs, people, and parent and community partners, will help to ensure stability and a continued focus on student achievement.


13 people like this
Posted by The madness contiinues....
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Dec 20, 2016 at 1:17 pm

A blue sheeted Personnel Document released after last Tuesday's Board meeting indicates the Superintendent transferred yet another male custodian out of the Walnut Grove site to Alisal, similar to what they did recently with another male custodian who was transferred out of the Walnut Grove site to Alisal.

The blue sheeted Personnel Document was not posted prior to the Board meeting last Tuesday with this change.

This would make along with the excellent male principal who was also transferred out of the Walnut Grove site to do data entry under Odie Douglas's supervision, the second male custodian that this has happened to.

In addition, the last Board packet also announced dozens of ex-staffers were returning to the District including former HR Assistant Superintendent Bill Faraghan as consultants.

I'll bet Rubino did not tell the Board about any of this. He needs to go.


4 people like this
Posted by Dave Petterson
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 20, 2016 at 1:24 pm

Could you please elaborate on that? Is there a specific relevance to the custodians being 'male'? Would reassigning staffers be a fireable offense for somebody hired so recently?


4 people like this
Posted by The madness continues....
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Dec 20, 2016 at 1:43 pm

Given that there are numerous lawsuits going on about the District's mishandling of personnel matters, I would say that it would absolutely be grounds for termination.

It started with a teacher complaint about a female custodian in 2013 after the teacher called the female custodian her "trash fairy."

The latest custodian to be transferred out of Walnut Grove was just placed at Walnut Grove in September of 2015. Now they too have been placed at Alisal. See the previous Pleasanton Weekly story on the issue.
Web Link


21 people like this
Posted by Carolyn
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2016 at 1:54 pm

It is time for the State to come in and take over PUSD and put it under investigation. It should have been done a long time ago. How many times is the District going to be sued by people they keep doing this to. As taxpayers/citizens, these lawsuites are very costly.
Who cares about the students? Not this District!


5 people like this
Posted by WG Parent
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Dec 20, 2016 at 2:17 pm

I'm confused....so the transferring of a custodian from one school to another is a problem because???? WG only has one male custodian - Mario - is he now gone?


41 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Dec 20, 2016 at 2:22 pm

Current Alisal custodian retired, WG custodian, formerly from Alisal, wanted to go back to Alisal. No conspiracy, no "specific relevance to the custodians being 'male'?" A basic personnel move that would need union and board approval before it happened. Please people, get a grip.


3 people like this
Posted by Wotcher
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2016 at 2:24 pm

So who complained about the personnel move? The union / APT? Again?


73 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Teacher
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 20, 2016 at 2:26 pm

Carolyn,

The teachers care - and care deeply. We are frustrated by the turnover at the district as well as with administration. Please don't believe for a moment that because things aren't right at the top, that no one is working in behalf of your kids. There are a lot of dedicated teachers - frustrated, dedicated teachers - who want nothing more than administrative stability so we can go back to working our jobs (helping kids) full time.


2 people like this
Posted by In response to Joe
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Dec 20, 2016 at 2:38 pm

So is it possible Mr. Rubino did not get approval before the personnel transfer and this is why he was placed on leave?


19 people like this
Posted by Mom of 3
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 20, 2016 at 2:40 pm

Our district's administration, specifically HR, "personnel" IS the problem.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Dec 20, 2016 at 2:44 pm

Classified employees don't just move to a new location -too many seniority issues, etc. It would have to be approved by a number of different people.


12 people like this
Posted by This is why we moved from Pleasanton
a resident of Donlon Elementary School
on Dec 20, 2016 at 2:55 pm

This is why we moved from Pleasanton and from California. Pleasanton thinks they have the Best school ratings. This is far from the truth. Move out of state and you will see Pleasanton schools are horrible. My children had a different principle every year while they were at Donlon. Either the district or the tiger moms would push out good people from the school every year. Good luck!!


2 people like this
Posted by FHS2013
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Dec 20, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Pleasanton school have been a joke. Not surprised one bit. [Removed because it was inflammatory and unverified.]


27 people like this
Posted by Bill H.
a resident of Valley Trails
on Dec 20, 2016 at 3:17 pm

After a quick google search, I learned that Ochoa was fired from Santa Clara after being embroiled in scandal. Here is an article about the issues: Web Link

The article states that Ochoa was enmeshed in several controversies at the office of education. One of the incidents cost Santa Clara over $1 million to clean up the mess.


11 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Dec 20, 2016 at 3:24 pm

When a superintendent can't make personnel decisions on their own, there is something wrong with the system. There should be no need for board involvement outside of hiring/firing a superintendent. The mafia, er..unions, legally need to be in the loop, because our children always come last in personnel decisions where teacher/service employees are concerned.

And of course, it's personnel. So we'll never know. It will all be kept secret. A payment will be made. And we're back to square one.


3 people like this
Posted by The madness continues....
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Dec 20, 2016 at 3:48 pm

[Removed because it was inflammatory and unverified]

The Board approves all new hires, personnel transfers, resignations and so on. The recent Hayward superintendent was fired for multiple reasons including contracts he authorized without the Board's knowledge and blowing up in an angry manner at Board members.

It is time for the Governing Board to take action and bring in someone that cares more about educating kids, having a safe and stable environment, rather than administrator conferences and Twitter feeds.


82 people like this
Posted by Doc
a resident of Las Positas
on Dec 20, 2016 at 4:26 pm

Doc is a registered user.

In response to Pleasanton Teacher

I am thankful for the dedication of all the great teachers at my son's school (Fairlands). I could not care any less about whatever dysfunction is occurring at the district office with senior administration than I do now. There are enough passionate teachers and principals at the site level that will make sure all kids are cared for and that their leaning needs are met. My advice to other parents is not to worry over the hype that is being made over this and let the district and board deal with their own problems. I learned a long time ago not to make other people's problems my own.

Thanks to all the teachers and Merry Christmas.


3 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 20, 2016 at 6:45 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Is this a Walnut Grove issue or is it just unrelated/coincidental?

I understand the article doesn't link the two


10 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 20, 2016 at 6:57 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Here is what was posted for the meeting:
4. CLOSED SESSION
4.1. Personnel Actions (Government Code 54957)
4.1.1. Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release
4.2. Anticipated Litigation, Pursuant to Government Code 54956.9(b), Two potential cases

4.1.1 Is to consider discipline or dismissal of an employee. We don't know if anyone other than the superintendent was put on administrative leave. But given the press release, this could be the superintendendent.
4.2 Is for anticipated litigation--no one has filed against the district yet. This could be related to 4.1.1, but there's no way to be certain.

It seems the seriousness of this action is unlikely about the superintendent moving a custodian. Just a guess.


13 people like this
Posted by Hansen Curious
a resident of Del Prado
on Dec 20, 2016 at 7:39 pm

Hansen Curious is a registered user.

Remember though, Mr. Mike was moved from Walnut Grove to Alisal for his "safety" due to unspecified threats. Who or what were the threats was never revealed, but remember Mr. Mike was embroiled in the Vranesh mess.


12 people like this
Posted by SHale
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 20, 2016 at 8:07 pm

SHale is a registered user.

Plenty of housing available in San Ramon for those who want to move their children to a school district with far fewer problems and highly rated schools....


47 people like this
Posted by P-town Mama
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 20, 2016 at 9:43 pm

P-town Mama is a registered user.

In response to Doc-

"My advice to other parents is not to worry over the hype that is being made over this and let the district and board deal with their own problems."

Unfortunately it is our problem too. The gross amount of money the district spends on lawsuits and salaries of administrative employees (making hundreds of thousands) on forced leave or doing data entry, is money that could be...SHOULD BE going to district wide programs. Parents are constantly asked for donations and to participate in fundraisers. We work our tails off to better our schools. To watch massive amounts of district money being WASTED on these constant legal issues is infuriating.


7 people like this
Posted by Also Concerned
a resident of Del Prado
on Dec 21, 2016 at 10:19 am

Also Concerned is a registered user.

I can't believe all of the continuous problems. When hiring a complete investigation should be made for ALL.
There are many applicants that would pass with flying colors and we would not have to face all of these allegations.

It's almost like we should have a LOTTERY for when the next suit will come. When I talked to friends outside of Pleasanton they cannot believe the personnel problems. I do think State level personnel should come in and look at the administrative and school board.

I agree with Doc - Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Holidays to all of the teachers in this city and surrounding cities.

I also agree with P-town Mama - money should be going to student programs


16 people like this
Posted by Doc
a resident of Las Positas
on Dec 21, 2016 at 10:22 am

Doc is a registered user.

In response to P-Town Mama

I agree with you on the point that properly handling public funds is extremely important, and public employees who are in trusted positions to monitor spending must be held accountable. Indeed, wasteful spending leaves a sour aftertaste for many of us who actively and financially invest in our local schools. However, parental involvement in children’s education and investing in their schools is a well-known and well-documented hallmark of great schools, so I hope you do not discontinue your efforts or withhold your financial support from our schools.

As for the gross amounts of wasteful spending on wasteful lawsuits and such, please understand that schools (especially district offices) are required to hold insurance policies that cover such matters. Depending on the nature and type of each suit or action, some (if not most) of the money spent defending, enforcing an action, or payment rendered can be recoverable by submitting insurance claims, but without the details, I can only speculate and conjecture about PUSD. That said, perhaps it is time for a well-drafted, specific California Public Records Act request (CPRA) letter to be sent to the district in the name of transparency. With a few exceptions, Government code §6250-6270 permits that information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right for every person to know. For example, some things to request could be as follows:

(1) A list of all lawsuits in which PUSD was named as a party on or after January 1, 20XX
(2) All insurance claims that PUSD submitted for payment on or after January 1, 20XX
(3) All reports and other documents relating to the reasonableness of PUSD insurance claim submissions as related to lawsuits and/or personnel actions that resulted in insurance claim submissions
(4) A copy of all audits that were performed on the district on or after January 1, 20XX
(5) Monthly payroll reports, itemized by employee, limited to District Officer certificated personnel from January 1, 20XX to present

Still, I maintain that this is not my problem and that the school district trustees can be trusted (and given the opportunity) to get to the bottom of this and do the right thing. One thing I learned many years ago is that the purpose of school boards is to hire and fire Superintendents. A quick glimpse at the research literature (or even an even quicker Google search) will show that we can expect our board to hire and release a new superintendent every three years on average.

Stay strong and trust our officials, but more importantly, support the teachers at the school sites.


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 21, 2016 at 11:04 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Doc, just a point of clarification . . . isn't the district part of an insurance pool where several districts contribute? If I am recalling correctly, then we are spreading our pain to other districts and likely contributing a large amount. Where I'm not clear is whether this covered personnel matters.


3 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 21, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Even if shared, or covered by a reserve or insurance policy - premiums are determined by risk and usually require a min Balance sheet cash reserve maintained.

Point being, money is going to the wrong places and being spent on poor decisions instead of students.

Parents should pull donations as a result of continued problems


11 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2016 at 10:35 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

"Parents should pull donations as a result of continued problems"

Donations go straight to the classrooms for supplies, or to a band or to a sport, or directly to whatever you send it to (unless you are sending to something like PPIE, who takes a more macro view with donations). So pulling your donations will hurt the students and the teachers the most.

Let's please take a wait and see approach to this. It could end up being a much-ado-about-nothing situation here, though obviously it could be more. I hope it ends up being nothing, but let's stop the blame game ("Perhaps it's time for the District to be put under administrative stewardship?", "Given that there are numerous lawsuits going on about the District's mishandling of personnel matters", etc.), and go with the innocent until proven guilty approach.

And though I have no inside information, I seriously doubt that it has anything to do with a Walnut Grove custodian.


12 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 21, 2016 at 10:36 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Pleasanton Parent, yes these issues are a continuing waste and embarrassment. Pulling donations will only hurt students and their teachers. You can designate the use of any funds you give. I often give directly to a teacher or school.


4 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 22, 2016 at 7:32 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

The district squanders money that donations, additional taxes, etc, are being raised to compensate for as a result of there not being money due to issues like these.

Our kids education is being held for ransom and we continue to pay because we care.

Meanwhile unions can strike, steal more public funding for benefits, hide behind beuaracracy and tenure....administrators get paid to leave for poor behavior

Stop playing the blame game? I think it's time we start.



4 people like this
Posted by Raven57
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Dec 22, 2016 at 8:30 pm

Raven57 is a registered user.

Question to all or any of you posting. Do you have you ever appeared before the school board to air your distain for this district inability to run this district correctly?

I ask, because it does matter. Seeing and hearing angry parents is a lot more important and productive than just posting on this forum.
And yes, I go to every PUSD SBM and SSC meetings for the past ten years and I speak out.

To those who don't want to get involved, but take the time to research and send links.
Your child/children deserve more than just sitting on the fence about the ongoing debacle. Choose a side any side but choose one.

Holding back donations- depends on what the donations will be spent on. Ask for a class wish list, then make sure by going into the classroom to make sure it was used correctly.
BTW- this non transparency issue is nothing new. Been going on for years and years.

It is impossible for children's learning experience not to be tainted if the district cannot , some weird reason continually gets it wrong.
Maybe instead of the 6 figure salary that the superintendent is contracted for, they are offered a $1. For the first year. Incentive being stop making it about them, make it about the students, and the hard working parents.
Remember:TRUST IS EARNED NOT GIVEN!


15 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 22, 2016 at 9:02 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

"Meanwhile unions can strike..."
When was the last time Pleasanton teachers struck? Late 80's, I believe. This union, which I am a proud member of, does not believe in striking, and looks for other solutions.

"... steal more public funding for benefits"
Stealing funds for benefits? You must mean retirement benefits, but I just don't get what you mean, how are we "stealing" them? Keep in mind we do pay our own medical benefits, whether we buy the very expensive district offered group plan, or go outside and get them on our own.

"hide behind beuaracracy and tenure...."
Beaurocracy? We have one paid person, our president. That's it. I do get frustrations over tenure, but a good principal can get rid of a teacher with tenure, they just have to do their job.

"...administrators get paid to leave for poor behavior"
Administrators are not part of the union.


15 people like this
Posted by Raven57
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Dec 22, 2016 at 9:57 pm

Raven57 is a registered user.

To the person who is the "union hater".
When you drop your kid/kids to their school or when you attend any school activity, the CLEAN school that you walk through and the classroom that your kids sit in is the hard work of these classified union workers.
So hater, put your money where your hate is.
Come to school for one day, just one, to clean up dirty bathrooms, lunch trash cans and all the food that didn't make the trash cans. Jump into the big dumpsters full of trash, looking for the mouth retainer that was tossed away by accident by the crying student.
Work in the office for a day and deal with all the high maintenance parents!

I don't think you have the courage!! Stop throwing people under the bus!
I applaud the hard work of the classified union employees.


4 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 22, 2016 at 11:46 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

When your pension payout calculation is manipulated in your last year by your accrued vacation payout, yes, you are stealing money from the system.

I understand administrators are not union, the point was to highlight this is not a union only issue.

Teachers union voted on higher salary in trade for pay for benefits - you can't claim it as a penalty when you voted for it. Most teachers get benefits through a spouse in the private sector which is why the trade off for salary was beneficial for them. Also amplifies my earlier statement about increasing pension pay


3 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 22, 2016 at 11:49 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Raven57,
All the items you described can exist and be appreciated sans union. In fact they'd likely be better for both employee and consumer


Like this comment
Posted by SHale
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 23, 2016 at 8:00 am

SHale is a registered user.

Raven57: is it your opinion because an employee is protected by a union their quality they put into doing the duties they were hired for are better vs a non-union protected employee? Really, I must be getting that wrong. tell me. did you know perhaps 11% of the entire working force in the USA is part of a union? I'm going with you didn't.


1 person likes this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 23, 2016 at 8:56 am

Get the Facts is a registered user.

"All the items you described can exist and be appreciated sans union. In fact they'd likely be better for both employee and consumer"

This is, for all intents and purposes, the charter school way of doing business. Pay your employees less for the same or similar product, and make money as the owner. Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 23, 2016 at 9:11 am

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Get the Facts,
I don't believe educational institutions should be run as a single owner / for-profit business model. There are many other business models that can be applied to ensure employees are engaged, equitably compensated, sustainability/continuity, and the product is the focus - without having to run everything through a side organization.

Raven57,
I'm sorry, I can't just accept something because its shoved down my throat. Especially something as important as education.


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

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