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Pleasanton Preps: Cesario, Collins out as athletic directors; reorganization is latest blow to high school sports

Restructured 'coordinator' positions at Amador, Foothill could harm other programs too

As the last couple weeks brought an end to another school year, unbeknownst to most, it also brought more of the systematic dismantling of high school sports, at least in Pleasanton.

I have been a believer that high school sports have been on a target list for some since the school district stopped funding the athletic programs at local high schools. And while the financial aspects are something I will address next week, I will go to what I consider the wrong decision regarding the athletic directors at Amador Valley and Foothill.

The heart of any athletic program at a high school is the athletic director and the athletic secretary. They are the boots on the ground, tasked with arguably the most thankless jobs in the school.

There isn't a day that goes by where they are not dealing with parents complaining about something. It is always their fault if something goes wrong -- as no athlete or their parents have ever done anything wrong.

It's a brutally tough job, but one done at both high schools with a passion toward the student-athletes.

The athletic director is almost always seen at school sporting events working in some capacity. That makes for long days as they are at the school before the school day starts, and if it's a night game, it might be 10 p.m. before they leave.

Dusty Collins at Foothill and Lou Cesario at Amador were big cheerleaders for the respective schools, supporting the programs without fail. They bust their rear ends to make their respective programs successful.

And now both are former athletic directors.

Both received letters from the Pleasanton Unified School District telling them their services were no longer needed at the end of the school year.

In more questionable wisdom from the school district -- and trust me, the wisdom is questionable -- the position of athletic director has been reorganized.

For starters, the position is now called "coordinator 1, high school operations." In addition, the position requires the "coordinator" to have a clear valid California administrative credential or be currently enrolled or willing to enroll in a California administrative credentialing program.

Also, there are increased job responsibility. As you work your way through the performance responsibilities, there is mention of "supporting ASB program, including monitoring budget and documentation for all program activities." That relates to the student leadership programs at the schools.

The following responsibility is "Supports extra-curricular Visual and Performing Arts programs, including budget and documentation for all program activities." Think band and drama performances.

Now you are taking an already overworked athletic director and adding more work as they are tasked with such programs as leadership and band at their schools.

My first thought was, good luck finding a quality person to apply for this job. And that thought has stuck with me.

It's hard enough to find a person to handle the AD job and do it right and efficiently. Now you're seeing the responsibilities increased and spreading out further than just the successful operation of two highly respected and successful athletic departments.

It's not just unfair to the athletic departments, but also to the band and leadership departments. Both are strong organizations and deserve their own supervision from someone that understands the dynamics of their respective programs.

The odds now favor getting someone into the spot who is not able to commit to each program with the efficiency they need and deserve.

The dynamics of high school sports continue to change, and change for the worst. The task of dealing with the finances alone grows each year, so getting rid of experienced people who know the issues at hand is not a well thought-out plan and not realistic.

In the end, it's another nail in the high school sports coffin. We need to keep people who care in the positions, not chase them out.

I am the first one to hope I am wrong, but sadly I see the demise of high school sports as very real, and the school district is not helping.

Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact Miller or submit local high school sports scores, game highlights and photographs for his weekly Pleasanton Preps column, email him at acesmag@aol.com.

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Comments

18 people like this
Posted by FYI--Thanks
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jun 11, 2019 at 11:27 am

Thank you for bringing this issue to the community's attention. The District is making many decision without involving the parent or teaching community. This is a movement to wipe out PUSD as it was and "reform" it. PUSD used to be the gem of the East Bay and the TriValley; now PUSD can no longer attract top talent. These ADs were treated horribly just as many employees have been over the past two years. Look at the job postings; the administrative staffs at most of middle and Amador have been replaced or moved. Parents need to attend meetings. This is movement to recreate PUSD; one of the top districts in the state of California does not need reformation based upon the practices used in low performing school districts.


5 people like this
Posted by MamaX
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2019 at 12:19 pm

MamaX is a registered user.

Maybe we could clean up soccer as well. RAGE coaches for both schools and are told if you are on comp you play HS. Girls are even told the lineup weeks in advance and are told try outs are for show. It's not right. It's not based off skill, it's based off if you have paid Rage and are still playing for them.

Coaches at the schools are about winning only. Not building a team as a unit and making each player a valuable player. It's not right.


I like Lou...he holds accountability and parents don't like that.


4 people like this
Posted by Melissa
a resident of Happy Valley
on Jun 11, 2019 at 12:55 pm

Dusty is a great coach but I disagree with him being a great Athletic Director. I am hopeful that PUSD will find someone that cares about sports (as Dusty does) and activities but also has the time and ability to monitor them more closely. Two years ago, two coaches were hired that have a horrible reputation in the community and have many complaints against them in AAU, CYO, and with the city. If a player is playing at the high school level they likely have played in their community for years. Which means they and their families have experienced many coaches and trainers, the good and the bad. Did you think no one knew them, did you think no one would say anything? There is a current head coach that runs a toxic program and somehow gets away with it. I feel the Athletic Director needs to at the very least professionally investigate those annoying concerns from players and parents, not just let them go. The comments in the article about parent complaints and parent and athletes never doing anything wrong is immature and snarky. It’s the Athletic Directors job and if they can’t handle that they should not being doing that job. I do agree that PUSD does not seem to value athletics.


4 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 11, 2019 at 1:20 pm

Can the school district just eliminate a job and create or "reclassify" a job position willy nilly?

Doesn't it have to go through some sort of Union process and vote? Then approved by the Board?


11 people like this
Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jun 11, 2019 at 2:25 pm

Sandy Piderit is a registered user.

The reason I think this change in the positions is a good idea? All the work that the new coordinator will do, that wasn't done in the past by the athletic director, is work that was done by the principal. It's an indicator and acknowledgement of how important athletics, leadership, and music and band are to the student experience, to know that there will now be a direct report of the principal who can be held accountable for making sure hiring decisions are made well in those areas.

Acknowledging that doing the athletic director job well requires more administrative leadership and skills isn't a bad sign, in my mind -- it's an acknowledgement that the district needs to invest more in order to find people who have all the skills required to do the jobs.


12 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2019 at 2:36 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

There are many things to unpack here.

When I learned of this a few months ago, I was curious as to why, as I too have heard only good things about Dusty and Lou. But I have also heard that there were problems that went beyond the scope of someone in a teacher role, and that an administrator was needed to help deal with parent and staff issues. This is a model that I have heard many school districts have gone to. San Ramon did this at some point in time, and the AD at SRV is Peter Scarpelli, former teacher and assistant AD at Amador.

"My first thought was, good luck finding a quality person to apply for this job."
This is Pleasanton, with it's high salary base they will have no problem bring in applicants.

"I have been a believer that high school sports have been on a target list for some since the school district stopped funding the athletic programs at local high schools"
That was in 2009, when the economy was horrible. Hard choices had to be made. But I do wish that the funding model was changed back to the previous model.

"It's not just unfair to the athletic departments, but also to the band and leadership departments."
Maybe it is fair. Maybe having a full-time administrator overseeing all of these programs (the current AD's are only part-time AD's, they continue to teach) will help them all to run better. Maybe this is a person who can advocate for changing the funding.

"In the end, it's another nail in the high school sports coffin. We need to keep people who care in the positions, not chase them out."
Really? Who says the new AD's won't care about the programs? This certainly is not a "nail in the coffin", I think it might be an improvement to take things back to a better way.

To FYI--Thanks:
PUSD is being reformed, I agree, as we have a superintendent and some board members who are clearly reformers. This particular position may or may not be an effort to help realize this goal.

To MamaX:
Soccer is a mess around here, I have way too many stories, and my kids didn't even play soccer. Super happy they went other directions. But "Coaches at the schools are about winning only" is not really a fair statement. If you are a varsity coach, isn't the goal to win?

To Melissa:
I disagree that PUSD does not value athletics. It is not their top priority - it can't and shouldn't be - but PUSD will be spending over $250k on these positions, maybe this is a renewed commitment to sports.

To Concerned:
Neither position will be eliminated, their AD sections will be replaced with classroom sections, and the AD jobs were added. So no positions were eliminated "willy nilly".

Let's give this a chance. Maybe this will help, not just sports, but drama, band, and ASB. All of these programs deserve an advocate.


16 people like this
Posted by It's About Time
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 11, 2019 at 4:59 pm

My only first hand experience is with Cesario. I've heard nightmare stories about him prior to my kids going to Amador to only be proven when we arrived. As an alumni, I was disgusted by his behavior. I'm sure a lot of other folks can testify to his holier than thou attitude. You reap what you sow, Lou!

As for the hours...it's a part of the job. Just like the rest of us who have to work long hours or even on the weekends.
We are all adults made full aware of the expectations when we take on the job. And if we don't like it, we move on. I'm sure Amador can find another qualified candidate to manage the AD role.


Side note: I don't ever wish anyone to lose their job but I also expect people to act responsibly and morally...almost as if you worked in a "real" office, with "real" deliverables.


18 people like this
Posted by pleasantonpiper
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 12, 2019 at 11:14 am

pleasantonpiper is a registered user.

Not surprised by the move.The High School AD role has been diminished over time, needed to be re-defined and there is no way the current ADs could handle this change in the job description.

Anyone in the loop with AVHS knows there has been a conflict of interest for years when the AD is also coaching a varsity sport. Everyone also knows his priority and it had nothing to do with being an AD. The school needs someone that will provide equal attention and value to all sports, not play favorites and be focused on the responsibilities of the role vs. the plans for a particular team at the school.


4 people like this
Posted by Brad
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 12, 2019 at 11:27 am

Brad is a registered user.

High School sports teach real life lessons about discipline, teamwork, sacrifice, following instructions, conditioning AND
Dennis Miller raises several good points about the AD position.


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