PUSD trustees appoint new Hart principal among flurry of admin moves

Also: Fairlands principal promoted; district says goodbye to Douglas, Ochoa in superintendent's cabinet

The latest round of administrative musical chairs at the Pleasanton Unified School District ended Tuesday night with the Board of Trustees naming half a dozen appointments in upper management, including a new principal and vice principal for Hart Middle School.

PUSD leaders also announced principal Shay Galletti will be departing Fairlands Elementary School after being promoted to the district office, meaning one third of the district's 15 schools will have a new principal next school year.

Before Tuesday's open meeting, the school board voted in closed session to name local administrator Caroline Fields as the new principal at Hart and teacher Mary Geasa as a vice principal there.

Several weeks ago, then-principal Leslie Heller announced she was transferring from Hart to Village High School in the new school year to become a vice principal at the alternative education campus. Heller's departure, coupled with earlier Hart vice principal transitions, temporarily left the middle school without any top administration -- until Fields' and Geasa's arrival.

Fields, who has been vice principal at Harvest Park Middle School for five years and spent a decade before teaching at Foothill High School, said she was "honored and so grateful for this opportunity" and looks "forward to being a Husky."

Meanwhile Geasa, who has taught at Hart "on and off" for most of her tenure with PUSD, said she was “very excited to serve my colleagues” and gave a “shout out” to Trustee Steve Maher for first hiring her 17 years ago.

In other moves Tuesday, deputy superintendent of business services Micaela Ochoa bid farewell to the district after nearly four years of service. Ochoa, who accepted a position earlier this month at the College of San Mateo, is resigning at the end of this week.

Trustees recognized Ochoa for her service at PUSD with a placard and flower bouquet near the beginning of the meeting. "I'm very humbled and I feel very privileged to have served the district," Ochoa said, also thanking the community for their support.

Ochoa was promoted to her current position in 2015 after initially filling in for former deputy superintendent Luz Cazares, who took an extended leave of absence before stepping down permanently. Ochoa also worked as PUSD's interim superintendent for nearly six months in the second half of the 2016-17 school year after the board fired then-superintendent Rick Rubino. She returned to her deputy position in July 2017 after the trustees hired Superintendent David Haglund.

With Ochoa's exit, PUSD is reorganizing Haglund's executive cabinet to remove the deputy superintendent designation from the business services position.

The board approved the proposed job description for Ochoa's future replacement, an assistant superintendent of business services position. Salary and benefits are not listed in the job description.

After seven years as assistant superintendent of educational services, Odie Douglas is also leaving the district at the end of the month.

Douglas, who announced his retirement plans back in January, shared his gratitude after being honored with a commemorative plaque from the trustees. "I have learned so much through my journey here," Douglas said.

He will be succeeded by Janelle Woodward, a newcomer who has spent the last three years as a senior leadership associate with the Leadership Institute of Riverside County. Woodward will hold the newly renamed position of assistant superintendent of teaching and learning.

Multiple administrative staff members have left or rotated throughout PUSD schools over the past school year, including some new vice principals at all three district high schools, and new principals at Amador Valley High, Vintage Hills Elementary and Hart and Pleasanton middle schools. And now Fairlands is added to the list.

Galletti is stepping down as Fairlands' principal after four years to become the district's new director of elementary education in the new school year. Maher, who is Galletti’s father, recused himself from the board’s vote on her new assignment. An internal recruitment process is underway to find the new Fairlands leader.

Fairlands will be the fifth PUSD school with a new principal when the 2019-20 school year starts in August.

Three new elementary school vice principals were also appointed at the meeting: Dwight Pratt (from San Ramon Valley Unified School District) for Walnut Grove, Patricia Leonard (Modesto City School District) for Mohr and Gerardo Guzman Rico (San Juan Unified School District in Sacramento) for Valley View.

Meanwhile, Haglund is staying on another four years after the trustees approved a contract extension Tuesday evening. Haglund will serve a four-year term through June 2023 with a base salary of $298,225 for the 2019-20 school year.

Additionally, three assistant superintendents' contracts were signed off for three-year extensions through June 2022 with a base salary of $208,992 next year.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify that Maher recused himself on the board vote regarding his daughter, Shay Galletti, being reassigned to the district office.

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26 people like this
Posted by wishtomove
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2019 at 9:22 am

Looks like its time to replace the voted in board members. Haglund has done nothing but collect paychecks and post on social media about being at band events and football games. He should be ashamed and so should our board members. This district is the worst its been...thank you Haglund. Thank you board members.

7 people like this
Posted by Livermore Parents
a resident of Livermore
on Jun 26, 2019 at 10:22 am

I certainly hope that Pleasanton isn't planning on dumping their trash administrators and teachers onto Livermore. We are already having enough troubles with Michael Biondi (from San Ramon) - our parents are speaking out against his bullying.

We know that lousy teachers and administrators in the Tri-Valley have migrated to Livermore - even taking a pay cut - because they think they will fly under the radar.

This is no longer the case.

10 people like this
Posted by William
a resident of Canyon Oaks
on Jun 26, 2019 at 11:37 am

It's great to see that nepotism is still alive and well at PUSD. A grand jury just noted that that is one of the major problems with Oakland Unified. Changes need to start now, before we get to far down this road.

12 people like this
Posted by Livermore citizen
a resident of Livermore
on Jun 26, 2019 at 1:41 pm

In response to Livermore Parents’ comment:
Mike Biondi came from San Mateo, not San Ramon.
Having interacted with him in numerous situations, “bully” is not a word I’d ever use to describe him. He’s principled and thoughtful and respected by the teachers in the district who are grateful to have someone with his depth of experience and who gives measured and wise responses to questions. He’s been responsive to teacher’s requests about creating more differentiated and rigorous PD opportunities, and he is clearly a teacher at heart and a servant-leader.
Also, labeling a group of people as “trash” is a move a bully would make. It’s mean spirited, hurtful and unhelpful.
Being a site leader is a truly tough job, often one caught between unreasonable clients (parents) and changing administrators above. They switch to new schools and districts for all kinds of reasons, and to lump them all together and label them negatively is to miss the complexities of each individual’s situation.

23 people like this
Posted by Disappointed
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jun 26, 2019 at 2:52 pm

Haglund and his new cabinet are the reason for all the people leaving. He has created a toxic work environment and can only recruit through nepotism and from outside the district.

He needs to go.

10 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jun 26, 2019 at 3:06 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

This is difficult. On one hand, Dr. Haglund had people already in place, and in the case of administrators, with contracts as long as three years. On the other hand, Pleasanton is not a starter district for those who want to be superintendents. One could say Dr. Haglund had both hands tied behind his back. That won’t explain away everything that is happening—Amador’s principal, for one, was a hire and departure under his watch with little or no transparency that may or may not involve others who are still employed (no way to get to the bottom of the rumors to find the truth).

We will know more with the choice of replacement for Dr. Micaela Ochoa. I found her to be open and responsive and easy to work with. When it comes to anything related to money, we need someone who will be very responsive to Public Records Act requests and with thoroughness. This has not the case in the past.

7 people like this
Posted by Livermore Parent
a resident of Livermore
on Jun 27, 2019 at 11:00 am

Livermore Citizen:

Michael Biondi came from San Ramon - he did make a stop at San Mateo (very briefly).

Michael Biondi may seem on first appearance to Livermore teachers as "principled and thoughtful" and "gives measured and wise responses", but what are you comparing him to, Superintendent Kelly Bowers and the other Assistant Superintendents? Mommy Dearest and her crew set a pretty low bar.

It is fair to say to anyone who joins LVJUSD from other districts in the Tri-Valley will be under strict scrutiny.

2 people like this
Posted by Lives in a Rep town in a Dem state
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2019 at 9:05 pm

Lives in a Rep town in a Dem state is a registered user.

Haguland has proved that the Trump Administration and Obama Administration have done nothing about Education. Our city is low on teachers as Trump and his crew sit back and relax on Twitter! Republican Jerry Thorne has done nothing to our district, Haguland showed that the district could do much worse. We need a mayor and superintendent who care!

Like this comment
Posted by Lives in a Rep town in a Dem state
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2019 at 9:14 pm

Lives in a Rep town in a Dem state is a registered user.

I also want to mention that we seem to have less school employees, since 1 school gives up something for another school!

1 person likes this
Posted by skynet
a resident of Mission Park
on Jun 30, 2019 at 10:46 am

skynet is a registered user.

Lives in a Rep town in a Dem state. A couple of random observations, Pleasanton has a majority Democrat electorate and the mayor has no administrative or regulatory authority over our schools. At best he has a bully pulpit (which he has used to support our schools).

1 person likes this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jun 30, 2019 at 12:37 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Here is the registration breakdown stats for Pleasanton: Web Link

In case the link defaults back to the county, there is a filter—top left—that allows you to search on any community in Alameda. Pleasanton is 39.3/25.4 split, democrats to republicans.

Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 30, 2019 at 1:10 pm

My family are all registered democrats.
My family all vote straight republican conservative candidates.

It was the Hayashi grand theft shoplifting, Leland Yee gun running, and four other elected democrats arrested for fraud and other crimes.

6 people like this
Posted by Baloney
a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Jun 30, 2019 at 1:30 pm

Sure, Michael. Sure.

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

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