A state appellate court ruled earlier this month that the Pleasanton Unified School District was within its legal rights to terminate a former Walnut Grove Elementary School principal in 2014 after he was accused of sexual harassment.
A three-judge panel in the 2nd Division Court, 1st California District Court of Appeals issued the unanimous ruling on March 11, upholding a previous decision by the Commission on Professional Competence that the firing of Jon Vranesh was valid.
"The district is pleased with the court's decision, and as directed, is taking the necessary steps to finalize the decision," PUSD spokesman Patrick Gannon told the Weekly.
Vranesh, who was promoted to Walnut Grove principal in August 2011, was placed on leave in November 2013 and removed as the school's principal the following month, after accusations of inappropriate behavior surfaced. A number of teachers claimed that Vranesh was hostile and used sexually derogatory language about female PUSD employees.
He finished out the 2013-14 school year as an itinerant principal doing data entry for the district, and his administrator contract was terminated after June 2014.
Vranesh denied the allegations against him and said at the time that he was targeted for filing a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing about alleged problems concerning safety and harassment.
PUSD conducted an investigation into all parties' claims and eventually dismissed Vranesh, citing charges of immoral conduct, dishonesty, and regular violation of school laws committed by him. Vranesh filed a claim against the district shortly before his termination, seeking monetary damages on grounds of defamation, invasion of privacy and making or publishing false statements.
The state Commission on Professional Competence concluded in August 2015 that Vranesh's dismissal was in line with state law. In addition to using threatening and inappropriate language, the commission also said Vranesh's destruction of district emails were grounds for being discharged.
Vranesh challenged the administrative hearing panel's ruling shortly after, asserting that the charges against him were hazy and the evidence presented was inadequate. He and his attorney also said important evidence had been excluded from the hearing.
After an Alameda County Superior Court judge upheld the commission's decision, Vranesh appealed his case to the California Court of Appeals.
In the 30-page ruling earlier this month, the state appellate court stated that "none of Vranesh's seven claims of error has merit, and that the dispositive findings of the trial court are supported by substantial evidence."
Paul Kondrick, Vranesh's, told the Weekly that his client is dismayed that the court "didn't allow or send the case back to have a full and complete hearing."
"He's disappointed that he's not going to have the opportunity to put on all the evidence that was improperly excluded," Kondrick said.
Kondrick said that his client is still moving forward with a separate lawsuit against the district "based on what happened when Jon was still principal at Walnut Grove Elementary."
"That's been held up and had not gone forward until the Court of Appeal made these rulings," Kondrick said. "Now that case will be allowed to go forward in August, as I understand it."