The Pleasanton school board had an opportunity to build back the trust of the public and prove to voters they made a good choice retaining two incumbents in the recent election.
Instead, the way trustees handled a "personnel matter" involving Rick Rubino, the superintendent of less than six months, and the subsequent termination of his employment without explanation beyond his not being "a good fit" has further deteriorated the trust of the public.
Three weeks ago, Rubino was placed on paid administrative leave while an unspecified "personnel matter" was investigated. For reasons unknown, the investigation came to an abrupt end and, during a Friday night closed-session meeting, Rubino was fired "without cause."
A Pleasanton Weekly profile on the then-new superintendent on Aug. 12, 2016 led with this declaration: "Pleasanton Unified School District officials believe they have found their superintendent for the long haul in Rick Rubino."
This belief, or rather hope, might have stemmed from district stakeholders -- students, parents, teachers, taxpayers -- being fed up with the way the district had been managed for the previous five years. Or mismanaged, as the case may be.
In August 2014, we published a story, "Troubled Schools," that outlined concerns with an exorbitant amount of major changes in site administrative staffing -- specifically principals and assistant principals -- between 2011 and 2014, as well as a series of nasty allegations by and against teachers and administrators during the superintendent tenure of Parvin Ahmadi.
It's difficult to believe, but the instability and uncertainty has become considerably worse within the past 18 months or so. There have been new principals at eight of the district's 15 schools, including three at Harvest Park Middle School alone. And now that Rubino has been fired, the district is on its fourth leader since June 2015.
Another troubling aspect of this is the district's lack of transparency.
Rubino was placed on paid leave pending the completion of an investigation. Instead of completing the investigation, it appears the board, basically, paid Rubino to go away -- a full year's salary plus some -- stating he "wasn't a good fit." Obviously there was some incident or a complaint was filed against Rubino, but we don't know who or what was involved. This is an important piece of information for the public to know about the person who was running the school district.
Why was Rubino fired? Why did the board decide to spend tens of thousands of dollars to recruit someone who ultimately "wasn't a good fit" and then agree to pay him hundreds of thousands of dollars to go away?
We have filed requests for records. This is our school district, our children and our tax dollars. We deserve answers.