Pleasanton native Butterfield named principal of Amador Valley High

Also: Board receives latest update on Amador parking lot solar project

Amador Valley High School will start the new school year with a new principal, the Pleasanton school board announced at Tuesday night's meeting.

Foothill High School vice principal Josh Butterfield was unanimously appointed to the position five months after Amador's previous first-year principal suddenly stepped down, leaving students and parents frustrated and confused.

A self-described "product of Pleasanton Unified School District," Butterfield grew up and attended schools in Pleasanton. For the past 10 years, Butterfield has worked at PUSD in various classroom and administrative roles, including director of band at Foothill prior to becoming vice principal four years ago.

Four principals have come and gone at Amador over the past four years. The most recent vacancy came in the wake of then-principal Alberto Solorzano resigning after taking a leave of absence seven months into his tenure in February -- weeks after a district investigation found that unnamed administrators removed a grade from a high school student's transcript, in violation of state law.

Solorzano was hired at the start of the 2018-19 year, succeeding Mike Williams who was promoted to PUSD human resources director after two-plus years as Amador principal following Tom Drescher's tenure at the school. Nimarta Grewal served out the rest of this year as interim principal and is moving to the district office in the fall as coordinator of technology services.

Butterfield told the Weekly that he doesn't know why past leaders left but thinks that Amador needs "somebody who understands the dynamics of the community," which was partly what drew him to the position.

"For me, it's just an opportunity to serve," Butterfield said. "It's not about us as administrators; it's about us supporting teachers to help students."

The search for Butterfield's replacement at Foothill has already started, according to PUSD officials.

The board filled two other administrative positions Tuesday evening. Stephanie Pavlenko and Arley Hill are joining Pleasanton Middle School in the 2019-20 school year as co-vice principals, taking over the vacancy left by Mike O'Brien, who is transferring in August to become principal at Vintage Hills Elementary School.

Pavlenko and Hill are fresh faces in the PUSD community.

Pavlenko spent the past year at Hearst Elementary School as an intervention specialist and before then was special education director at Livermore Charter School. Pavlenko told the Weekly that she's looking forward to "getting to know staff and students" and helping the school be at its best.

"I'm just very excited. I think the middle school years are a great age to be growing into themselves," she said.

Hill is a newcomer from Iron Horse Middle School in San Ramon, where he's been assistant principal since 2013 and worked alongside Joe Nguyen, incoming principal at Pleasanton Middle.

Another principal position opened up in the past week, with Hart Middle School principal Leslie Heller announcing that she is transferring to Village High School in the new school year, where she was recently named new vice principal of the alternative education campus.

"I have cherished my time serving our students, families and staff as principal over the last three years," Heller said last Friday in an email to the Hart community. "I am grateful for the connections I have made with many of you, and for the progress that we have made together for our students."

Before stepping into her position at Hart in 2016, Heller was vice principal for four years at Foothill, and also taught English for more than a decade at Amador, where she served as the English department chairperson.

PUSD is currently searching for the next Hart principal, beginning with internal recruitment, with the goal of having the new leader in place for the start of the new school year. Heller's resignation also leaves Hart without any upper administration at the moment -- though the district is nearing the end of recruitment to fill two vacant vice principal positions.

Heller transfer to Village marked the fourth time since February that a PUSD principal stepped down, following the resignations of Solorzano and Ann Jayne (Vintage Hills) and the retirement of Jill Butler (Pleasanton Middle).

In other business

* The board shifted gears later in the meeting and approved a contract to add extra bus routes to temporarily help Amador students get to class in the fall while the parking lot facing Santa Rita Road is reoriented and a new solar panel structure is installed.

District officials have been working to find solutions for when students return in August to a campus with just 50 parking spaces for staff and faculty, and none for them.

The prospect of more than 400 parking spaces being unavailable for the first several months of school has prompted families and neighbors to demand PUSD and city leaders to find solutions.

In one such move, beginning Aug. 12, the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority will provide additional, earlier bus service for its 605 and 611 bus routes for the start of the 2019-20 school year.

LAVTA will provide "in addition to its main bell AVHS service, an additional, earlier inbound frequency in the morning for each of its routes 605 and 611, as well as a second outbound afternoon frequency for each of its routes 605 and 611," according to public documents. Two buses will be added to the morning and afternoon service.

The additional morning service would arrive at Amador at approximately 6:40 a.m., except on Wednesday mornings when no "A" period instruction is offered. Additional afternoon departure will happen at around 4:15 p.m. The overall route travel times are scheduled to take approximately 35-45 minutes.

Those bus routes will primarily serve the neighborhoods of Amaral Park, Fairlands, Ruby Hill and Vintage Hills starting Aug. 12 "until anticipated completion of the AVHS construction project on or around October 31, 2019," according to the district.

Student IDs will be honored in lieu of paying fare on all route 605 and 611 trips, including regular bell trips. The estimated $40,000 for the additional bus service will come from the district general fund.

District officials are also working with Bay Area Traffic Solutions (BATS) to add flaggers around Amador during drop-off and pick-up times for mitigation, and they have also been developing an agreement for students to use part of the Valley Community Church parking lot while building is underway.

Construction since school let out two weeks ago has been limited so far to behind-the-scenes work such as receiving approval from the state and ordering supplies, but PUSD facilities and construction director Nick Olson said "we are not behind" and that the public should expect to see heavy construction happening by July.

A list of drop-off and pick-up zones near the campus while construction is underway, plus a campus circulation map, can be viewed at the district's "Amador Solar Parking Structure Project" page under the Facilities and Construction section of the website.

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13 people like this
Posted by Love Pleasanton
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 12, 2019 at 8:19 am

Regarding the Amador Valley parking situation- students and staff, please consider bicycle riding and walking as pollution-free alternatives.

12 people like this
Posted by 4 principals in 4 years
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jun 12, 2019 at 10:44 am

I am surprised that the acting principal, Nimarta Grewal, was not chosen for this role. I have always been impressed with her professionalism and support of the students. It would have been nice to see a change like that for Amador.

6 people like this
Posted by Don of a new era
a resident of Old Towne
on Jun 12, 2019 at 11:23 am

I totally concur with previous comment, "I am surprised that the acting principal, Nimarta Grewal, was not chosen for this role".

3 people like this
Posted by A Blakeslee
a resident of Foothill High School
on Jun 12, 2019 at 12:31 pm

Congratulations to Josh Butterfield! He sat in on most of my daughters IEP’s while at Foothill, he was always professional and helpful to us. Amador is getting a great guy!

4 people like this
Posted by Jeremy Walsh, editor
associate editor
on Jun 12, 2019 at 12:38 pm

Jeremy Walsh, editor is a registered user.

To follow up on Nimarta Grewal, PUSD just confirmed for us that Grewal is moving to the district office in the fall, appointed by the board at a previous meeting to become coordinator of technology services.

Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2019 at 6:06 pm

So the construction project for the Amador parking lot did not start happening two Mondays ago as PUSD promised and instead PUSD has been for the last two weeks according to the article "ordering supplies?"

And now they say residents can expect construction will really begin in July?

Another promise broken.

2 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2019 at 6:58 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

I drove by AV today, there were two workers there, but basically nothing is happening.

14 people like this
Posted by Seamus Deane
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 12, 2019 at 10:45 pm

For the record, five total transcripts were changed between late June, 2018 and end October 2018. This was shared with teachers and among district officials, if you want to look around to find the evidence. The five may not be all.
There was no complete review of records because that would require all teachers to produce gradebooks to compare to the official transcript records . This was not done. It is unfortunate that the former, former Amador principal's name is tied to this as he has at most a peripheral player. The main player was still employed by the district as of this month.

On other business, this reference to another promise broken--most construction projects take longer than planned and cost more than planned, from a bathroom renovation to a stadium. A construction plan is not a "promise" as much as a forecast. Deal with it.

I like the cycling to work idea, but most new teachers in the district live in cheaper places, like Tracy, or share houses in other towns. Maybe the citizens can fund e-bikes for them.

And finally, why would Ms. Grewal want to stay at Amador and take the pounding? Imagine the number of calls on the parking lot alone. This community needs to take a collective look in the mirror when it comes to the problems around here. But making peace with imperfection does not mean accepting corrupted transcripts, or a coverup of that.

11 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2019 at 12:27 am

I'm confused as to why the main person who changed the transcripts is still employed. Was the main player for the transcript changes an administrator at the Assistant Superintendent level at the District Office or a vice principal level at the site? Or the registrar? Or a counselor? What title did they have that gave them the capacity to change transcripts?

Why were the transcripts changed?

Like this comment
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2019 at 1:56 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

"On other business, this reference to another promise broken--most construction projects take longer than planned and cost more than planned, from a bathroom renovation to a stadium. A construction plan is not a "promise" as much as a forecast. Deal with it."
Deal with it? Wow. Timelines can easily be built into a contract. For example, 20 years ago Hearst was promised to be done by the start of the 2000-2001 school year. It was not ready, and the construction firm had penalties built into the contract that they had to pay for numerous weeks, or even months. Possibly no timelines were built in, and timelines usually come with an extra cost.

"It is unfortunate that the former, former Amador principal's name is tied to this as he has at most a peripheral player. The main player was still employed by the district as of this month."
The former principal is no longer with the district, and Mr. Deane, are you in a position to say that "the main player" was someone other than the principal? If you are, can you back this up? It appears to me that the former principal is where the buck stopped, and he is gone. Otherwise, why would he not have started litigation against the district?

15 people like this
Posted by Rooster Cogburn
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jun 13, 2019 at 2:29 pm

The former principal balked at the request initially, but a person who is still employed at the district office sent him an email and told him to make the change. The evidence exists in writing. PleasantonWeekly staff, can you request that email through the Freedom of Information Act?

6 people like this
Posted by Seamus Deane
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 14, 2019 at 10:16 pm

Why the individual is still at the district: no new job found as of yet. Fallback if fired--litigation.

Why does the district not just fire this individual--

Litigation is expensive. so that is one reason. Of course, the district has multiple law firms on retainer so let us move to . . . .Reason two, it's been pretty successfully killed, as a story, as the comments here show. So it is expected that this person will move on eventually, but in the meantime, it is a law-dog standoff supported by the deep desire of the district and board that it just quietly disappear. And obviously this was nobody's secretary, btw.

As for the evidence, all involved directly have been told they will have to deal with lawyers if they put out any of the underlying evidence. If you have a half mil to offer to cover expenses and future job searches, put it up and no doubt somebody will step forward.

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