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Editorial: Amador Valley High School deserves stability

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It's no secret that children raised in stable environments, ones that provide security and support, are more likely to become socially, emotionally and intellectually mature, productive members of society.

This is so elementary that even the children know it, as was evidenced when Marina Abreckov, a student at Amador Valley High School, addressed the Pleasanton City Council during the non-agenda public comment period March 5. The young woman urged the city of Pleasanton, a separate governmental agency from the Pleasanton Unified School District, to intercede and help solve Amador's principal turnover problem.

"I know you're all probably thinking why am I coming to the City Council rather than the school board meeting, and that's because of the lack of transparency in this situation," Abreckov told the council members. "There are a lot of rumors going around about the school district's involvement with the situation and whether the right actions have been taken."

The high school senior's comments -- a rare sight in a City Council meeting -- resonated with us.

Alberto Solorzano, Amador's principal for all of seven months, left unexpectedly and under a cloud after a district investigation found that unnamed administrators violated state law by purposely removing a completed course from a high school student's transcript.

Shortly after the investigation concluded and days before a Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation visit was scheduled at Amador, Solorzano was granted a leave of absence for "personal reasons."

Last week, Amador vice principal Nimarta Grewal was appointed to serve as interim principal.

So that means this year's senior class has had four principals during their high school career (Tom Drescher, who took an unexplained leave months before his June resignation in the 2015-16 school year; Mike Williams from spring 2016 through June 2018 when he was promoted to PUSD human resources director; Solorzano and now Grewal).

PUSD leaders made a good decision appointing Grewal. She seems to be well-liked, well-respected and, more importantly, she is familiar with the school and the students, which will at least provide continuity in leadership, if not some stability, in the short-term.

Meanwhile, nobody knows what happened to her predecessor or if he is coming back. Solorzano's abrupt departure void of communication does not engender trust in the district, which is obviously waning in the Amador community.

"We are so shocked by the fact that overnight we just found out (Solorzano's) gone and no longer part of our community," Abreckov told the council. "And that's why I'm here today asking the city to get involved because it's really concerning and frustrating, and the students are the ones who lose the most from this."

As Abreckov said March 5, the rumor mill is in full force, and the situation is not being helped by nobody talking.

Since this is reported as a personal leave requested by Solorzano, the district can claim privacy as the reason for their silence. But Solorzano is not returning our requests for comment either, which just makes the cloud he left under a bit darker.

Solorzano made an impact on students and teachers during the short time he was at the school. Abreckov praised him -- "our principal who is no longer at Amador for a reason we don't know" -- for his guidance at Amador, especially around student mental health initiatives.

She summed up her two-minute appeal to council members by saying, "This isn't just an Amador issue. This is truly a community issue because it affects students and parents, not just the teachers and administrators at the school."

The council members were prohibited from discussing the issue that night because it wasn't on the posted agenda for that meeting. However, Councilwoman Julie Testa said to Abreckov, "With your being here, a lot of people have heard you."

We hope that PUSD Superintendent David Haglund, his executive cabinet and the Board of Trustees are included in the people who heard her voice. We encourage our school district leaders to have a frank, public discussion with Amador students, parents and community members how about stability and transparency will be addressed.

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


20 people like this
Posted by Rorsharch
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 15, 2019 at 10:41 am

Gee, how can Amador continue to turn out consistently quality students? Maybe there is a group that has consistently been there through the past 5+ years and who are weathering the storm? The fact that Amador does as well as it does says more about the TEACHERS than anything else. Now, before all the anti union people try to spin this to say teachers like getting rid of admin, let me just say that is patently untrue. We like having stable leadership. We just prefer that leadership to be ethical, realistic, and practical when addressing the problems in education.

17 people like this
Posted by Captain Obvious
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 12:26 pm

@Rorsharch - I think the proliferation of retail and home based tutoring in Pleasanton says more about the quality of the teachers than anything else. Additionally, the average child from a socioeconomically privileged city like Pleasanton will succeed regardless of the quality of the teachers.

10 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 15, 2019 at 12:52 pm

I'm equally disappointed in your claim that teachers stabalized education more than anything else (omitting parents contribution), as I am in Captain Obvious' omission of teacher's impact to that stabilization. You're both right and you're both wrong.

Your union is to blame though - no one is going to argue against an environment of stable leadership and the preference that leadership to be ethical, realistic, and practical. But our acceptance definition of what these things are is very different in the private sector than it is in a union environment.

When there is multiple change in one variable and zero in the other and the symptom still exists, the root of the problem tends to point to something in the constant variable more so than the variable one. Now within that constant variable there are multiple changing ones - but even in it, the constant is the impact the union has.

The teacher's union has no "skin in the game" regarding education or its content. Its only position is that of its interest; which I'd argue isn't even its teacher base, but instead its pure existence over all. For argument sake though lets assume it does have its delegation in primary interest - which again, may be fine if it wasn't able to directly impact education; which it constantly does.

I can confidently say the number of direct teaching hours has gone done when I compare my elementary and middle school experiences to that of my kids (I'm not so sure that is true at the high school level). That has a direct impact on education, and a secondary impact on my work schedule as the number of arrangements I have to make because of late start days, half days, teacher in service days, ....eh its the last week of school before a break so effit close enough days, has gone through the roof....not to mention teacher/parent in service days scheduled throughout the day.

So again, credit is due to teachers for keeping correct course and maintaining strong Pleasanton school rankings; thank you. Parents are due credit for instilling the importance of education in our community and supplementing where the union and other forces prevent progress. The teacher's union however will forever be viewed as a domestic terrorist organization or dual succubus parasite (if you prefer that description) taking from teacher's paychecks, taxpayers, and students for its own survival. In my opinion, it needs to be completed eliminated, but perhaps a restructuring of its influence and deliverable is a better starting point.

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