Sitting down with the superintendent

Haglund reflects on PUSD projects, priorities for new school year and beyond

Pleasanton Unified School District Superintendent David Haglund speaks with a table of first-graders during a classroom visit at Walnut Grove Elementary School last week. (Photo by Mike Sedlak)

Superintendent David Haglund has juggled a number of changes so far at Pleasanton Unified School District in 2019 but is keeping one goal in focus for the new school year: simplify and improve what's already there.

"It's not about doing new stuff; it's about doing the same stuff better," he said during a recent sit-down interview with the Weekly at the dawn of his third year leading PUSD.

That means working to close achievement gaps, increasing academic intervention and support, and clearly communicating the district's policies and procedures to the public.

"When we established those goals at the beginning of last year, we formed an organizational work plan, and we did that because the community was asking for transparency in our actions," Haglund said. "They wanted to know what we were doing to address all of these different things."

Those efforts have included a series of community meetings to facilitate open dialogue with families, students and neighbors, and sharing more informative materials on the district website -- the district's five organizational goals that were established a year ago among them.

With a large shift in key PUSD cabinet positions over the past year, Haglund said that keeping those objectives in mind are helping to stabilize transitional periods at the administrative level.

"When this year came around and we were going to have a new assistant superintendent of teaching and learning ... there was a whole lot of nervousness about what changes bring," Haglund said. "New people means new directions, right? I had to share with my leadership team at our symposium in August that, no, that's not what we're doing this year. We're staying focused on our five goals and we're pushing deeper. We're not going to start a bunch of new stuff just because there's new people. We're going to get better at what we're currently doing."

With the recent retirement of former superintendent of educational services Odie Douglas and the departure of former deputy superintendent Micaela Ochoa for the College of San Mateo, and new principals or vice principals at each of the three high schools, plus leadership changes at several elementary and middle schools, Haglund said some of the changes were expected.

"You want your folks to be able to take advantage of both those types of things -- retire when you're ready and go take new opportunities when those are available to you. You don't want to hold people hostage with regards to that," he added.

It also gave the district the chance to internally recruit for new principals and other administrative roles while simultaneously testing their systemic robustness. "The board communicated to me early on that they had an interest in really trying to develop our people and promote from within, and when you do that ... you also have to fill those positions of the people that are backfilling," he said.

"You haven't necessarily done a lot of turnover, you've grown as an organization so people who were teachers become assistant principals, people who were assistant principals become principals, people who were principals become directors," the superintendent added. "That's an indicator of health in an organization -- very, very different than when you're seeing people leave the organization to go take jobs elsewhere."

The reopening of Amador Valley High School several weeks ago while construction has been underway on new solar panel structures and reconfiguration of the Santa Rita Road parking lot tested the district's organizational strength in real world ways.

After rising early Aug. 12 to help with traffic control around the front of the school, Haglund said he has been "very pleased with the way things have gone and very appreciative of the partnership that we've had with the city" to stem congestion and parking problems.

That being said, "the project's not done yet so there's plenty of other opportunities for frustration -- football games, open house. Those are all going to be new things that the parents and the students are going to have to struggle through."

But until workers meet or beat the Oct. 15 completion date, plans are in place to open the field on the backside of Alisal Elementary so families can park and walk across the street to football games at Amador.

"The good news is that we're ahead of schedule," Haglund said, adding "our 90% date was Oct. 15 and we're confident we're going to beat that."

PUSD is also bumping up its effort to give Pleasanton's youth more chances to collaborate, and even spearhead, on certain issues. One new initiative that Haglund said would be handed over to students this year is a resolution that will call on the city of Pleasanton to take a harder stance on e-cigarette sales to minors.

"(City Manager Nelson Fialho) and I talked, and we talked also with the Liaison Committee about the idea of allowing that energy, the focus on e-cigarettes, to come out of the (city's) Youth Commission," he said. "We're getting the city's Youth Commission ... to develop the plan and propose it, so that it's a solution coming from students as opposed to a solution coming from adults."

It's an idea rooted in the district's mission to see students "make a better world," according to Haglund. PUSD's integrated waste management policy, which largely came from students last year, is one example of the type of drive that the district aims to instill.

"If we don't give them the responsibility and the opportunity to push on those things, then we're not really giving them the skill set they'll need to go out and do that," Haglund said. "It's really empowering our young people to push forward policy that's meaningful to them. You'll probably see a number of initiatives like that this year that are coming from the students to the board."

Just last week PUSD closed its second issuance for $90 million of Measure I1 bonds, which nearly sold out in three hours. Haglund attributed the swift sales and low interest rate to the district's credit rating, community stability and increased assessed values.

With two earlier bonds expiring within the next year or so, the district is set to gauge the community's receptiveness toward continuing the current tax rate a potential new $120 million facilities bond measure with a survey in the coming weeks. Some property owners may not like the idea, but Haglund insisted "there's two ways to look at this particular opportunity."

"One is that in two years, the tax rate related to the earlier measures, that $20 falls off the tax rolls in 2021 and '22," he said. "When you're going through the closing out of a bond, you have a pretty limited time to be able to decide are we going to ask the community to extend the taxing authority or not. The survey's going to tease out hopefully whether or not people are supportive, the community's voters, are supportive of the idea of continuing that tax rate with a new bond."

That support could depend on how some suggested projects are received by polling participants. More than $550 million in various items such as replacing the Amador gym or adding a new performing arts theater at Foothill High that didn't make the Measure I1 project list will be included in the new survey.

"They're going to ask a number of different questions in the poll and we'll be looking at a number of different metrics to determine whether or not this is the right time," Haglund said. "It's not a single question, if you know what I mean, so they'll be talking about whether it would be worth passing a new bond, if it meant replacing the Amador gym, as an example ... Those are all things the community has been asking us to do."

Ultimately passing a new bond measure to the voters is a decision that the Board of Trustees will have to make, "so all I can do is bring a ton of different information to them so they can make a decision, and it's got to be a decision that they each can support," according to Haglund.

The superintendent said that helping the community "understand how schools are funded and the difference between how we've chosen to fund them in Pleasanton and how districts like San Ramon (Valley) or Dublin have funded their schools" is also important, given the varying levels of investment in each community.

"We each get roughly the same amount of money from the state, which is reflective of the general property taxes that are paid, and when you look at the surrounding Bay Area districts and the taxing rates, we're third from the bottom -- and when that 2021 amount drops off, we will be the bottom," he said. "I believe that the community values their schools more than that, so what are the questions that the board's going to want to answer.

"They're going to want to know, does the community understand the need, that's No. 1," he continued.

"Question No. 2 is, does the community believe that we have the capacity to address the needs, given the funding. Are we going to do what we say we're going to do?

"And the third question is, is the community ready to invest in the schools in a way differently than they've invested in the past? I think those are the kinds of things that the board's going to be looking at in the results of the survey."

The survey results are still a ways off but Haglund already has an answer for the second query: "If I have a goal ... it's that we walk through this year with tighter alignment between what we say is our mission and vision and what we do every day when we walk across campuses or into classrooms."

PUSD's five organizational goals

1. To ensure ongoing implementation of research-based assessment strategies that focus on student academic growth and are leveraged to help close achievement and opportunity gaps, as evidenced by CAASPP, district assessments and other metrics.

2. To improve multi-tiered system of supports (RTI 2 and PBIS), including intervention and enrichment, as evidenced by California Dashboard and internal data sources.

3. To strengthen district board policies and administrative regulations which will ensure clarity of direction for staff, as evidenced by board actions and other data sources.

4. To build our professional learning community through strengthening employee recruitment, development, and retention strategies to ensure continuity of a high-quality workforce, as evidenced by hiring data, professional development participation, and exit surveys.

5. To improve overall customer service ratings and stakeholder perceptions of the district and of each school within, as evidenced by the ratings on the annual Benchmark Survey.

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2 people like this
Posted by appalling neglect
a resident of Lydiksen Elementary School
on Aug 30, 2019 at 1:17 pm

What has been happening at Lydiksen with Principal Jacob Berg not fixing the fence and with children leaving the school site while teachers are not paying attention to the children during recess is appalling.

There is extreme neglect with the open gate and the chain link fencing gate not only last year, last week and even yesterday. There is a chain long enough around the gate pole so that the gate can open wide enough leaving a large gap so that children can exit the gate. T

The K-5 children routinely go off-campus.

And the administration and front office has known about this for months.

And nothing has been done.

They let children go off campus and do not care.

Haglund needs to go.

4 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Aug 30, 2019 at 1:42 pm

.....and "new school" isn't on the list. Probably never was. Money grab

9 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 30, 2019 at 1:56 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

"We each get roughly the same amount of money from the state, which is reflective of the general property taxes that are paid, and when you look at the surrounding Bay Area districts and the taxing rates, we're third from the bottom -- and when that 2021 amount drops off, we will be the bottom," he said.

There are reasons for that, including having no capacity added for students, no new school at Lydiksen after three years, over 200 students unable to attend their neighborhood schools, lack of specificity in two attempts at parcel taxes, loss of administrators at sites . . . and so much more. Dr. Haglund mentions transparency in this interview. I don’t think that goal has been reached yet.

2 people like this
Posted by Sue
a resident of Foothill High School
on Aug 30, 2019 at 3:41 pm

Obviously student safety is not a high priority. It is a common occurrence that kids in Lydiksen end up missing. In this recent occurrence, a child was found in the next town over --- Dublin. Along the Iron Horse Trail in Dublin is miles away, for goodness sake!!Web Link

Rather than supervising students at recess, lunch and drop off, it is common to see teachers and yard duty personnel standing with a Starbucks coffee cup in their hands chit chatting.

It is sad that law enforcement in this town has to spend its time tracking down children missing from school sites when they should be patrolling neighborhoods and tracking down criminals.

6 people like this
Posted by $ spent
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Aug 31, 2019 at 10:35 am

Just remember that the very first outlay of Bond Funds was to purchase a new laptop for every much for the blah, blah of caring for the students.

Roofs are leaking in many schools, kids cannot attend their neighborhood school...and the first $ spent is a perquisite for the teachers. Outrageous!

Borrowing any amount, will just be a new tax.

No new taxes

7 people like this
Posted by appalling neglect
a resident of Lydiksen Elementary School
on Aug 31, 2019 at 11:16 am

It is disgraceful that it takes a TV news crew from KGO to get a chain in a fence fixed so that children cannot squeeze through and leave campus. Did everyone see this on the ABC7NEWS news? Web Link

Also last night at Concerts in the Park, I learned that the faculty are being approached by students from FHS and parents claiming that a quick internet search of the newly announced Vice Principal at Foothill shows that the Vice Principal was accused of misconduct by LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District) and then filed a lawsuit against the LAUSD. Who screens and vets these candidates at the District? Does the Board personally have to perform Google searches themselves?

Why did Julio Hernandez and David Haglund not disclose what is commonly available on a Google search to the PUSD faculty (this is from the lawyer hired by LAUSD on their web page) ? It comes up in 2 seconds....

"Norrington v. LAUSD and Los Angeles School Police Department (2010) - We won this writ alleging a violation of the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights. Petitioner argued that the District and Police Department violated the one-year statute of limitations under the POBR by not notifying him of the proposed
discipline within a year of discovery of the misconduct. The Court held that under Government Code section 3304(d)(2)(H), the one-year statute of limitations was tolled during the Department's investigation into allegations of workers' compensation fraud by Petitioner and on that basis, denied the Petition."

There are numerous court cases in the Los Angeles Superior Court website involving a person named Malcolm Norrington. Why did the administration not disclose the one involving LAUSD to the faculty? Web Link

Isn't this relevant that there was in the past a finding of misconduct by another School District to someone becoming a Vice Principal in Pleasanton? And these records are all public information on public websites. They are so easy to find that 14 to 17 year olds can find them.

8 people like this
Posted by Liz
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 31, 2019 at 3:46 pm

Why is this Board hiring personnel without basic teaching and administrative certificates required by law?

Simply put, they hired the Foothill VP without the prerequisite Administrative Services Credential that is required to be held by administrators in California. They passed over hundreds of local female staff who have this credential that have spotless records and have no past misconduct charges at previous districts.

And if you follow the paper work, that is quite an impressive promotion path from having an allegation of workplace misconduct at LAUSD to making $5,137 (see govsalaries website) at Cobb County Schools in Georgia in 2018, to a change from temporary to first year probationary status on Feb 6, 2018 in Dublin at a continuation school (see DUSD meetings), to a short term May 8 appointment for a SUMMER SCHOOL assignment teaching 6th GRADE MATH 6/7/2018 - 7/16/2018 assignment in Pleasanton (even though he holds no MATH teaching credential), to a 7th Grade ELA summer school session in Pleasanton on April 16, 2019 to a May 7, 2019 decision to hire him at Amador as a teacher effective 8/8/2019, a job he never took.

Then PUSD hired him in at the end of July 2019 to be VP without the required Administrative Services certificate, processing a waiver request to the Board two weeks later. And in that meeting Hernandez and Haglund made no mention of the LAUSD misconduct allegations or the lawsuit.

The Board, Hernandez and Haglund have some explaining to do to the APT as well as the community. I would hope the Board puts interims in place at these two DO positions as well as the Foothill site until this is investigated in full.

3 people like this
Posted by PUSDMa
a resident of Avila
on Aug 31, 2019 at 5:00 pm

"You haven't necessarily done a lot of turnover, you've grown as an organization so people who were teachers become assistant principals, people who were assistant principals become principals, people who were principals become directors," the superintendent added. "That's an indicator of health in an organization -- very, very different than when you're seeing people leave the organization to go take jobs elsewhere."

That's code for : we do not know what we are doing and we lose good ones.

21 people like this
Posted by Former Staff
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2019 at 5:12 pm

As a teacher who recently left, I have now clearly seen how dirty this district is. I had to fight with parents to even have children assessed. Why do we have to fight? Teachers in trouble for putting in writing and verbally stating students need intervention. Denying our students the necessary interventions is abusive. We are given these "tools" but are not able to put them into our class plans. We have check lists for interventions and that is all they are, checks.

I have attended the community meetings where questions are answered with "we don't have that information but look for it on our site".

Teachers deserve more. One who does more than take photographs at football games and classrooms.

5 people like this
Posted by appalling neglect
a resident of Lydiksen Elementary School
on Aug 31, 2019 at 10:25 pm

PUSDMa, I agree with your assessment. Regarding " people who were teachers become assistant principals..." but have you noticed recently they seem to be wiring particular job postings to specific pre-determined individuals rather than engaging in fair hiring practices?

For instance, even though all past postings for Vice Principals require a VALID ADMINISTRATIVE CREDENTIAL, this time the the Foothill VP posting just said the word CREDENTIALS. It would make it appear that they knew the applicant they would ultimately select had no valid administrative credential.

There are clear differences in the two different job qualifications stated on EDJOIN when you compare Amador and Foothill High. Clicking on the links sure shows the difference in wording.

1. for the latest Foothill VP hire Web Link lists just "credentials"

2. but for the Amador VP job posting Web Link , it clearly states a "valid administrative credential" is required

Like this comment
Posted by FiredUp
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2019 at 11:47 pm

Look at Coyote Creek in San Ramon. That school seems to care about their children who have disabilities. Pleasanton needs to step up to the plate and be a distinguished school again. [Portion removed for use of expletive]

Web Link

The Barton Reading Program has been at our school since 2006. This specialized one-on-one intervention program is specifically designed for students who struggle with spelling, reading, and writing due to dyslexia or a learning disability.

8 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 1, 2019 at 8:43 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

My request is that those with issues or complaints or concerns, **please contact board members**. They cannot act without the knowledge of what is happening or lacking or just people behaving poorly. They are elected to represent you. I can tell you they will hold your confidentiality, especially if you call. We say we expect more of them, certainly I do, but they cannot direct the superintendent without your additional input. I believe this is true for current and former staff as well. The board needs to hear from you or we will never build the district we expect. If they only hear from the superintendent—well, we will get whatever is driving that agenda (often for good, but not always). If one of the goals is transparency, we need to hold them to it or we are equally to blame.

3 people like this
Posted by
a resident of Stoneridge
on Sep 1, 2019 at 1:31 pm

David Hugland, should be asked to account for previous School Bonds and why is there a need for a new PUSD Bond? Why can't School district live within the State, City, Federal Government, Lottery allocation? Why is School Administration is top heavy? Why are schools shaming parents to donate to schools?

4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 1, 2019 at 2:21 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Naveed, There is a history for the 1988 and 1995 bonds for which Dr. Haglund was not responsible. The money was spent a long time ago; we are just coming to the end of paying for them. The fund from the most recent bond ($270MM) have only just begun to be spent, mostly in smaller amounts (computers for teachers, chrome books for students, phone and security systems, fencing, consultants, architects, paying of other debt—COPs). The cost of Lydiksen and the “additional” school at Donlon will take some $65MM. The rest is earmarked for a variety of maintenance issues and will eventually be spent.

The district identified more needs than the $270MM can cover, so they are attempting to see if there is support for another $120MM in new taxes. I do not support it at this time.

I don’t know that administration is top heavy compared to surrounding districts. It is possible, but we are a growing district still.

Funding is a very complicated thing—some of the taxes we pay leaves Pleasanton and does not come back to us from the state. You have to qualify for federal funding (certain programs). I don’t think the lottery money has been much help. The taxes collected by the city fund the city and are separate from those the district is responsible for.

I also don’t believe parents are shamed into donating. Schools and teachers will ask, of course. One can give to the schools/classrooms and have a better understanding of where those dollars will go, rather than donating to the district directly.

9 people like this
Posted by AVHS to FHS?
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Sep 2, 2019 at 1:14 pm

Norrington was offered a job at AV teaching English toward the end of last year while Mike Williams was there substituting for the former princ. that the District told the students was on personal leave, but in fact he had resigned months earlier.

Teachers and students at AV let Admin know that not only had they found the LAUSD info online regarding the court case involving misconduct and workers comp fraud as well as the lawsuits Chase Manhattan, Deutsche Bank, and other financial services firms/banks filed, and that he hadn't even cleared probationary status in Dublin.

This is the first I heard they promoted him and moved him to FHS. What in the world Haglund and HR were thinking when they decided to water down the vacated FHS Asst Princ position when they moved Butterfield to Amador and delete from the FHS position req for the valid admin cred...that is beyond absurd.

And to move him over to FHS where he is now in charge of the Engl department? Obviously PUSD must think AV and FHS students and faculty don't talk to one another.

6 people like this
Posted by Glass Houses
a resident of Avila
on Sep 2, 2019 at 4:48 pm

I don't know why anyone would want to work with you people. The publicly available information shows nothing other than the man was involved with some disputes. You don't know why or any other information. You don't even know if it's the same person. Did you ask him? Or just try to defame on the blogs? If he had not cleared probationary status in Dublin that's private information which someone with zero ethics felt free to share. There have been plenty of other administrators hired who were still getting the correct credentials. Why don't you all perform this level of investigation on all of your teacher friends. We the parent community know full well those among you who are not fit to be in the job. Better yet we the parents should investigate each of you when our kids are in your class. Try being a good person.

6 people like this
Posted by Dean
a resident of Dublin
on Sep 3, 2019 at 11:38 am

It appears that the job posting ENGLISH TEACHER @ AMADOR VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL, 2019 - 2020 SCHOOL YEAR, INTERNAL; C 20-37 for the Amador Valley English teacher position that resulted in a job offer was an Internal posting. It says INTERNAL prior to the Code C 20-37 - Web Link and was posted 3/28/2019.

It says from the Dublin board agenda Personnel section on 2/26/2009 that he had submitted his resignation from DUSD and it was effective in early June.

And why does this posting not have the same application requirements? An earlier posting a year earlier for the exact same Amador English teaching position requested Transcripts Web Link . But the 3/28/2019 posting requires no Transcripts.

Also, how was an external applicant given a job for an internal PUSD job posting that is labeled as INTERNAL? Or does INTERNAL mean something else? Could the HR department at PUSD have possibly gotten very confused and done no checks because they processed the application as an internal applicant that had already been screened?

Is Pleasanton no longer requiring Transcripts for any of its applicants? When did this happen?

4 people like this
Posted by Dean
a resident of Dublin
on Sep 3, 2019 at 11:40 am

"It says from the Dublin board agenda Personnel section on 2/26/2009 that he had submitted his resignation from DUSD and it was effective in early June" should read 2/26/2019.

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

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