PUSD enlists law firm to investigate transcripts, grading practices | News | PleasantonWeekly.com |


PUSD enlists law firm to investigate transcripts, grading practices

District received complaints of inconsistencies at high schools

In order for all area residents to have important local information on the coronavirus health emergency, PleasantonWeekly.com has lifted its pay meter and is providing unlimited access to its website. We need your support to continue our important work. Please join your neighbors and become a subscribing member today.

A legal consultant is investigating allegations of inconsistent grading and transcript practices at Pleasanton Unified School District high schools.

District spokesman Patrick Gannon confirmed the ongoing "investigation/audit" this week, saying the move to bring in one of the district's contracted law firms to examine the situation is common practice when receiving complaints about policy implementation and student records.

"After we receive this type of information, we investigate to understand the issue better and determine any corrective actions," Gannon told the Weekly.

"In this case, we engaged a law firm regarding information received around potentially inconsistent high school grading and/or transcript practices," he said. "A law firm was consulted due to the fact that the concern raised was a legal one with regards to the Education Code and involved private student records. The investigation is still being conducted."

Gannon would not confirm the exact nature of the allegations, including whether, or to what extent, transcript integrity is in question.

The situation unfolded after the district received information in October about alleged transcript inconsistencies at the high schools -- complaints shared during Superintendent David Haglund's listening tour at school sites and in community engagement meetings, according to Gannon.

Speaking generally, Gannon said, "One area of feedback we received a good deal of feedback related to the implementation of district policies and procedures, and how some may be being applied differently across school sites. We have been doing a good deal of work in this arena, including adding the focus as one of our organizational goals for the year."

"Depending on the situation and need, we may vet and engage in these processes internally or reach out to a third-party for assistance," he added. "These outside sets of eyes often help to ensure our policies and procedures are clearly articulated and consistently applied across the district -- all of this is in an effort to provide the best services to schools, students and families."

The transcript investigation is spearheaded by one of the four law firms the district has under retainer this year. The consultants are working to complete the probe and present results as soon as possible, though an end date has not been identified, according to Gannon. There is no cost estimate at this point.

Grading and transcript oversight falls under multiple departments at the district level, as well as at individual school sites, Gannon said.

We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?


42 people like this
Posted by Student
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 30, 2019 at 4:50 pm

Maybe they should worry less about the assassin game, senior skip day, and how we decorate our caps at graduation and worry more about the cheating. I see it all the time.

26 people like this
Posted by Jonah Hex
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2019 at 6:04 pm

The issue is not consistency. The issue is administrators changing transcripts illegally to delete or hide grades teachers gave. Fraud in other words, and nepotism and we’ll see what else. Better investigate, reporter, and not take the press announcement as fact.

18 people like this
Posted by Odies Puppet
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jan 30, 2019 at 6:48 pm

To Many univercities looking at transcript analytics when they should b focusing on MANalytics. Who has more grit? That’s who I want on my team.

o The house of cards is crumbling

13 people like this
Posted by PUSDeepThroat
a resident of The Knolls
on Jan 30, 2019 at 7:01 pm

Psssttt...... check our the Summer School program practices to find more administrative overreac

The House of Cards is indeed falling.

6 people like this
Posted by PUSDparent
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jan 30, 2019 at 7:53 pm

What is the accusation? Does anyone know?

4 people like this
Posted by Bob Woodward
a resident of Avignon
on Jan 30, 2019 at 8:00 pm

According to my sources, the house of cards is about to fall. Hope this helps clears up any confusion.

8 people like this
Posted by Lemontree
a resident of Civic Square
on Jan 30, 2019 at 8:10 pm

The accusation is that administrators are some level (site and/or district administrator) removed grades or courses from transcripts at parent's request. It is likely this is for AP type classes, but could be others, where a student got a D or F and didn't want that on the their record.

3 people like this
Posted by Inquiring Mind
a resident of Canyon Creek
on Jan 30, 2019 at 8:29 pm

I thought we could not take AP classes in summer school. Are some students being aloud?

10 people like this
Posted by Jonah Hex
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2019 at 8:32 pm

Dear Lady Wondering About the Accusation:

The charge is a violation of the following part of the Education Code, the laws regulating education in California:

A. Under Education Code section 49066, parents (which includes legal
guardians or others with educational rights for the pupil) have a right to
request a change of a pupil’s grade only on the following grounds:
1. Mistake
2. Fraud
3. Bad Faith
4. Incompetency
B. When grades are earned for any course of instruction taught in public
schools, the grade earned by each pupil shall be the grade determined
by the teacher of the course. In the absence of any of the grounds
listed above, the grade shall be final.

Imagine if your child earned, say, a C in a class, but some other kid's parents, having shall we say connections, were to get their kid's grade changed.

Riding off into the sunset for now,


31 people like this
Posted by PUSDeepThroat
a resident of The Knolls
on Jan 30, 2019 at 8:39 pm


DO incompetence is a sight to be seen,
Has been the case since Parveen.

Principals come and go like the seasons,
Yet Odie Douglass stays for some reason?

Teachers get all the blame, always under so much pressure
Let the cards fall from the DO that brought you Drescher.

You may think this poem is awful, lazy, or subpar,
But I hear that effort gets you a ticket to head of HR!

21 people like this
Posted by Teacher too
a resident of Charter Oaks
on Jan 30, 2019 at 8:47 pm

There is some incompetence at the district level. And there are some terrible teachers. It not perfect at any level in the PUSD. There are more good people than bad and I hope this will clear up quickly.

21 people like this
Posted by TomFoolery
a resident of Castlewood
on Jan 31, 2019 at 6:11 am

There will always be teachers who have favorites and students who butter up better to get grades. This is human nature. What isn’t is that there have “consistently” been issues of teachers who teachbsame class with different syllabi, teachers who don’t adhere to a syllabi and wing it, and underwhelming teachers who think watching videos routinely is teaching, or worse, are in over their head on subject material. Then there are requests from universities for a high school transcript and high schools place non high school information and grades on an official high school transcript. When a parent raises a question or concern about fairness or rubric, the process is to drag it out until said parent relents and submits to non transparent delay and stall tactics. Ultimately, we are still in an environment where students have a higher level of accountability than teachers as well as administrators. Then there are the parents who foot the massive tutoring and extra help bills when certain teachers simply are not effective. So much for a free public education.....I guess one gets what is paid for to a degree, sadly. Throw on top of that a Homework Policy which has never been adhered to or coordinated as stated by PUSD at the site level, and it’s no wonder kids are stressed out.

9 people like this
Posted by Kacey
a resident of Ponderosa
on Jan 31, 2019 at 9:53 am

Kacey is a registered user.

This article is so vague and very confusing. Can we break this down into the following:

1. Are parents asking for their children’s grades to be changed for legitimate reasons or is it the squeaky wheel affluent influence?
2. Is there incompetence in the school administration and teachers?
3. Is the problem so pervasive that a law firm needs to be hired?

8 people like this
Posted by Rorschach
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2019 at 10:24 am

This is 100% to do with administration and giving out personal favors. Teachers understand the value of a grade and take that very seriously.

20 people like this
Posted by Grading "practices"
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2019 at 10:43 am

I doubt this is all about the administration and changing grades. Pleasanton has a tremendous problem with all math subjects and: 1) grade inflation 2) teachers not teaching the subject matter and 3) tutoring.

There are also copies of math tests from middle school and high school floating all around the District. Those that have those copies and questions/answers naturally score much higher and those students that pay their own teachers to "tutor" them and give them the answers in advance score much higher than those students and parents that refuse to pay their own teachers to tutor them.

In addition, with all of those A's being given out by teachers, why can't these students score perfect scores on the Math portion of the PSAT/SAT as well as the AP tests? If these "outstanding" grades actually reflected a student's knowledge of the subject matter, I'd expect perfect scores on the PSAT/SAT as well as 5s on the AP tests.

16 people like this
Posted by Doug
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 31, 2019 at 12:18 pm

@Grading: "...and those students that pay their own teachers to "tutor" them and give them the answers in advance score much higher than those students and parents that refuse to pay their own teachers to tutor them."

That's a pretty strong accusation. If you really have evidence that students are paying their own teachers to privately tutor them, then you should take that evidence directly to PUSD because that's obviously a clear ethical violation and should be illegal as well.

20 people like this
Posted by Former PUSD parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2019 at 1:14 pm

Removed because it contained incorrect information

12 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 31, 2019 at 1:19 pm

My favorite part of this article is the fact that PUSD has 4(FOUR) law firms on a retainer?? If 4 is good why not 2 or 3 more law firms added to this cash cow, lots of “milking” going on behind closed doors, no wonder they can’t afford to build a new school for our kids !!

20 people like this
Posted by Seven22
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jan 31, 2019 at 1:37 pm

@TomFoolery - There is free tutoring at the high schools after school. There are the "extra" help times now at the high schools. Teachers routinely come before school, stay after school to help students. Parents who are paying for extra help are too lazy to make their kids take advantage of the resources in front of them and just figure that paying more money will help. You are free to preach from your mountain top, but until you actually know what's going on, I suggest you keep it to yourself. By the way, talk to almost any student that goes on to college from our high school and they will tell you that they feel well-prepared and are better prepared then most of their classmates.

10 people like this
Posted by Seven22
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jan 31, 2019 at 1:44 pm

@Former PUSD parent "The teachers should help students during their PUSD office hours and not leave early to work their second job."

I'm not aware the PUSD teachers have paid office hours. If you mean the hours that the teachers voluntarily put in before and after school, then yes, students should get help then but they don't because mommy and daddy will pay for tutoring.

I assume that you have submitted names to the district of the teachers that are "leaving early" as they should not be doing this. Bu

4 people like this
Posted by Former PUSD parent 2
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 31, 2019 at 2:32 pm

I agree almost 100% with the comments here. As for Seven22 When my kids were at amador Steps was run by the head of the math depts spouse and the tutors are hs teachers from Pleasanton. I thought it was a complete conflict of Interest and could not believe this was allowed. I would not send my kids there because I couldn’t justify paying the teachers to tutor my kids. So my child went after school for tutoring. The problem was it’s not your teacher most of the time. The teachers each pick a day and tutor whoever comes in no matter what class. I thought that was very odd. I do know parents who purposely sent there kids to steps because the tutoring would be geared to what was going to be on the test. I think the only rule was you couldn’t have your actual teacher but another teacher who taught the class. Maybe it has changed now but that’s how it was for years.

3 people like this
Posted by Former PUSD parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2019 at 2:37 pm

The teachers by contract are required to be on campus set hours before and after school according to their teaching schedule. Many HS teachers request their prep period to be 1st period or last period, so they can leave or arrive at hours when students cannot meet with them. This also creates an issue with students ability to take core classes first or last periods. Of course, this relates to the old six periods per day and not the new odd block schedule. Since my kids are no longer in PUSD, I cannot say how the current block schedule works with teacher prep periods. (Yes, all of this was explained to me by a district employee.)

5 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 31, 2019 at 2:40 pm

Having a teacher perform as a paid tutor to a student in their own class sounds like a massive conflict of interest. I would hope that would not be allowable. If it is, it needs to stop.

4 people like this
Posted by TomFoolery
a resident of Castlewood
on Jan 31, 2019 at 2:48 pm

@Seven22 you are off base.

Our daughter graduated from AV and is at an Ivy League. Top 1% on SAT, without a prep class, just hard work. Not a lot of fun. Never received any outside tutoring, and did it on her own despite teachers who, when she showed up for office hours (now called Access period, which is a Joke and was supposed to be a distress period but it’s just a means for teachesrs to not stay after school), said teacher would usually say “we went over this in class”, with few exceptions. The problem may be Grade inflation or something more nefarious, but the point is if we can pay teachers on performance than PUSD, AV and FH better do a darn better process vetting process, especially for more complex subjects. We’ve seen multiple teachers dismissed at Semester and others at the end of the year. It starts with Department of said subject matter not managing and organizing material and an unwillingness or handcuffing by site administrators to enforce fair policy and competency expectations. Thank you CTA and APT.

27 people like this
Posted by Tiny Dancer
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jan 31, 2019 at 3:41 pm

How dare these teachers not want to work for free! They make so much money already! And how dare they teach these students the topics they are going to be tested on!! At least there isn’t a teacher shortage, so we can start replacing them with better qualified teachers.

10 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 31, 2019 at 4:54 pm

This is a great thread, illuminating multiple issues facing PUSD, at a time ironically when Foothill HS was just WASC-accredited (did they miss these?) and Amador is in the middle of re-accreditation.

1) Grade adjustment and deletion? And not just to keep athletes on the field, but to hide poor grades for fraudulent college applications?

2) Students being able to look at copies of prior tests and pre-learn the answers? This is almost as bad as what was exposed by the NY Times this week (tutoring companies in NYC sharing competitive exams with customers).

3) Teachers as tutors? Teaching is normally a full time professional job, at least during the school year. Most organizations do not allow full-time salaried professional employees to engage in paid outside employment; the conflicts of interest are too great. Taxpayers rightfully expect the district's teachers to be spending their time (before or after official hours) teaching their classes, grading, improving their teaching skills and maintaining their health - not receiving outside pay for tutoring other district students. The notion that it's okay for tutors to tutor other tutors' students is a joke. Good teachers may not realize it, but the conflict of interest is still there. Bad teachers will engage in back-scratching and quietly share information to give students an edge and improve their teaching metrics. Nearly all teachers we've known are good people but it only takes a few bad apples.

While most kids are good and want to do the right thing, they are vulnerable to parent and peer pressure, which is high at a competitive school. A few bad families could destroy PUSD's hard-won reputation for academic excellence. Better to get to the truth and deal with it now, rather than risking greater long-term damage.

18 people like this
Posted by Rider
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2019 at 1:58 pm

Rider is a registered user.

I would hope that PUSD has a system that is in place only allows an administrator to change a grade in the event of a mistake, fraud, bad faith or incompetency i.e. for reasons allowed under California education code. In addition, I would hope that the system would require the administrator to submit evidence that an allowed reason has occurred. Finally, I would hope that someone in the district office, like the superintendent, would be required to review the evidence and sign-off on the request before the grade change can happen. If a system like that is not in place, then it should be implemented ASAP because an administrator should not have unlimited power to make a grade changes at his/her sole discretion. That type of power is rife with the possibility of corruption. Also, if the system requires the administrator to submit evidence, that evidence can be retained for legal reason such as if the legality of the grade change is ever questioned.

Anyway, if solid evidence is found that an administrator or administrators gave out grade changes in violation of education code, those administrators should be fired for due cause.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


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

Stay up to date on local coronavirus coverage with our daily news digest email.

The takeout math just doesn't work for restaurants
By Tim Hunt | 7 comments | 2,414 views

The Impact of COVID-19 on Our High School Juniors and Seniors
By Elizabeth LaScala | 0 comments | 1,844 views

The first few seconds after awakening; before I remember the virus
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 693 views