Still no decision on ousted principal | January 17, 2014 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - January 17, 2014

Still no decision on ousted principal

Union leader 'concerned about morale'

by Glenn Wohltmann

Supporters of former Walnut Grove Principal Jon Vranesh weren't in attendance at the Pleasanton School Board meeting Tuesday night, but he was still on the minds of some.

Representatives from both unions made veiled references to the circumstances that led to Vranesh being removed from office.

Peggy Carpenter, head of the Association of Pleasanton Teachers, quoted President Ronald Reagan, saying, "We have to to what's moral and what's right."

"A decision was made and it was hard," Carpenter told the board. "People helped to make it so that the rights of those involved were honored ... even if it came to the decision the board had to make in December."

In December, after a closed session that lasted more than seven hours, the board voted 4-1 to approve the hiring of a new principal at Walnut Grove, saying there was "merit to complaints" against Vranesh.

Those claims include allegations that Vranesh "created a hostile work environment at Walnut Grove through, among other things, the use of vulgar/derogatory terms to describe female employees of the district," according to a letter from the district's attorney, Kim Bogard of Kingsley Bogard LLC, to Vranesh's attorney, Paul Kondrick.

Alex Sutton, president of the local chapter of the California School Employees Association, told the board it had an opportunity "to fix our little dilemma."

"I'm a little bit concerned about morale in the district," Sutton said, alluding to problems the district has had with principals. "I'd really like to change the perception of this district to get back on track."

Vranesh's ouster marked the seventh of 16 principals to leave the district in the last year. Principals at all three high schools, at Donlon, Mohr and Walnut Grove elementary schools, and at Pleasanton Middle School have taken other posts or retired.

Vranesh remains on paid administrative leave, which began Oct. 25.

A request by the Pleasanton Weekly for documents surrounding his removal was answered with a reply requesting a 30-day extension. According to the letter from Bogard, "As a courtesy, our office notified Mr. Vranesh's attorney of its intent to respond and produce the documents requested in Pleasanton Weekly's request. Mr. Vranesh's attorney has notified our office of his: 1) client's objection to the production of the requested documentation; and 2) willingness to take legal action to prevent disclosure."

In an email to the Pleasanton Weekly on Monday afternoon, attorney Kondrick disputed the characterization of the response and stated there was not an objection to producing the documents.

In his email, Kondrick wrote, "Mr. Vranesh indeed did not take the position with the District that he would fight the release of information, but rather, he stated to the District's attorney that he 'expects the District to take all necessary legal and other action to preserve the confidence and privacy of those matters and documents,' as appropriate, and would be willing to 'join any legal proceeding' necessary to best assure the protection of the privacy rights of PUSD students, parents and staff/employees as pertain to these ongoing District matters."

The Pleasanton Weekly has been asking for, among other documents, an investigator's report on the allegations against Vranesh, something Kondrick has said neither he nor Vranesh has seen.


Posted by Another Pleasanton Resident, a resident of Las Positas
on Jan 18, 2014 at 11:35 am

I was looking to watch the PUSD Dec. 17, 2013 school Board meeting but is not loaded yet, I was wondering why this one is not, when now you can watch the one for Jan. 14', 2014 is ready to view?

Posted by WG, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2014 at 2:01 pm

I would like to know whether the OAH Valexis Sutton (custodian and daughter of union president for classified staff Alex Sutton) hearing on October 17 2013 has any minutes or video. I know that the next day Peggy Carpenter, the president of the teachers union, arrived at Walnut Grove Elementary then tried to rally the teachers in a meeting to get rid of Jon Vranesh.

I find this conspiracy between the two union heads, the superintendent and the four board members to contrive and fabricate a 'hostile working environment' at Walnut Grove one of the three disgusting things ever to have happened here in Pleasanton.

Posted by SA , a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jan 19, 2014 at 10:55 pm

I want my fellow Pleasantonians to recall this justification of using this one particular foul word by Get the Facts on Jan 17, 2014 at 11:48pm
"Dropping an F-bomb, whatever, we live in a free society"

Keep this in mind folks!

Posted by SA , a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jan 19, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Get the Facts also stated on Jan 17 @6:37 pm

"It's not like he was fired. Many people would call this a vacation"

I highly doubt Mr. Vranesh or his family views this as a vacation

Your callousness is duly noted

Posted by registered user, Get the Facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2014 at 9:36 am

My thanks to SA for reviving the wonderful practice of taking quotes out of context. Let's take a look at the whole quotes, shall we?

"Yes, Vranesh denies using the words he is accused of using. I hope we can agree that using those types of words is not okay in or out of the workplace. Dropping an F-bomb, fine, whatever, we live in a free country. But using the B and C words is simply name calling. This is the type of thing we want our students to stop doing, so why would it be okay, EVER, for an administrator (or any school district employee, for that matter) to do this?"
My point is simply that saying a swear word is one thing, but name-calling bring things down to a whole new level of poor ethics. And for the record, I think that any swearing is bad, ever, and especially in the workplace.

"I met Vranesh once, and he seemed like a really nice guy. But did you read my earlier entry about what he did? The punishment did fit the crime. He had to go. You cannot be a bully when you are a leader in a school. It's too bad he felt this was the best way to lead. (And keep in mind he is getting paid, it's not like he was fired. Many people would call this a vacation.)"
This was in a much larger response to someone who thought the punishment did not fit the crime. I was simply making the point that, in a sense, he hasn't been punished, as he is still getting paid. His lawyer basically agrees, since they have made no move of any kind since the board decision (his lawyer stated at the time that "we have no move"). Let me be clear I do not envy Vranesh's situation, it must be a nightmare. But there are many people in this world, for better or worse, who would love to get paid while not working. Or, as some people would call it, a vacation. But you are right, no doubt he would not call this a vacation, and no doubt he'd rather be working. But I stand by my comment, because many people WOULD call it a vacation.

So again, thank you SA for taking my quotes out of context. Feel free to do it again, as much as you want, I have no problem defending myself. I do have one request, however. Please take your shots in the same thread as when I write them, not in some new thread with the same title started days after the last thread has basically ended. I would like people to be able to scroll up to see what I wrote in it's entirety.

Posted by registered user, Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 20, 2014 at 10:31 am

My concern, GTF, is that you are either an insider or privy to information coming from someone on the inside. In either case, your "facts," if indeed they are the facts ("But did you read my earlier entry about what he did? The punishment did fit the crime."), have no business being posted given this is a personnel matter with legal protections. If you are on the inside, you already know that. Iit would be unfortunate and still illegal if someone on the inside is your conduit. More problematic is the governance team who has not clamped down on the leaks. Not a surprise though given the only communication coming from the district on any matter is late, short on actual information, or in this case, a lot of slip ups.

Posted by registered user, Get the Facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Kathleen, I am not an insider. I only know one employee at WG, and when I first heard Vranesh was placed on administrative leave, I called this person to find out what happened. This person claims to know nothing, and I haven't spoken to him/her since.

Most of the information I have has simply been gleaned from this blog. The best pieces came from JV Facts, and here is the post in its entirety, from another thread, posted on December 18th:

"Posted by JV Facts, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Dec 18, 2013 at 9:20 pm
Enough guessing, let's talk facts. The school board hired an investigator to interview more than 12 teachers at WG. These 12 teachers gave statements, not 2 teachers. The report, which will be made public, found "credible evidence" from these 12+ interviews that JV had "engaged in the following prolonged conduct":

- used vulgar and derogatory language in reference to women (specifically "b.tch" and "c.nt").
- made repeated comments of a sexual nature
- used threatening and intimidating language
- used bullying tactics to get what he wanted
- abused his position of authority

These findings, summarized in over 26 pages of this investigators report, confirmed dozens of offenses that created a hostile workplace at Walnut Grove Elementary. No teacher should have to put up with this, and the board has voted to remove a toxic individual from Walnut Grove.

Unless you have access to real facts, sit back and wait. The entire report will be made public soon, and you will all get a chance to see and read how you've been deceived."

Nothing I have heard from anyone who might know even just a little about this (whether it be WG parents, friends of WG staff, etc.) has suggested this is even a little bit false. And I had heard the rumblings of this before this person posted this, his or her posting confirmed much of what I had heard. I believe JV Facts is in the know, though I haven't the foggiest idea who JV Facts is.

So to sum up, I have no one on "the inside is (as) your conduit." I have spoken to no one at WG about this, or to anyone at the District Office or school board. I hear lots of things second, third, fourth hand and read this blog (there have been at least 15 Town Square postings on this topic). I take it all with a grain of salt, but at a certain point, when nothing is refuted, denied, or contradicted to anyone I have talked to or what has been said here on the blog . . .

Posted by registered user, Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 20, 2014 at 6:08 pm

GTF, Okay. Then we are taking any number of anonymous posters and reposting and repeating and believing we have the truth. And JV Facts, again if they are the facts, shouldn't be posting them either. And how does one come to these multitude of threads and refute or deny or contradict what is posted? There is a legal process. albeit an apparently very long one, and I can't imagine an innocent or guilty person risking posts to defend or explain him/herself on the Weekly forums. In most of the forum threads, anonymity isn't such a big deal. For a case involving a man's livelihood and, potentially, his career, anonymity is already an injustice. There is a point where our right to know is trumped by this man's right to due process, whether we wish to defend him or assert what we imply (none of it verifiable) are the facts of his guilt.

Posted by registered user, Get the Facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2014 at 10:13 pm

Kathleen, I do believe the truth is in what was posted. I believe this because everything I heard before and after this matches up with what JV Facts wrote.

Kathleen, I agree with most everything you wrote. I am no fan of anonymity, but I once posted under my own name and paid the price. I commend you for never posting under anything but your own name. But I think your beef is with Jeb and Gina. I have asked many times to allow posts only from people in their own name, but my requests have yielded no response. So for better or worse (mostly worse, in my opinion) this is what we have.

Posted by registered user, Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 21, 2014 at 6:29 am

GTF, My beef with anonymity is there doesn't appear to be enough staff to stop people posting under multiple names. Maybe if everyone had to pick a name and then use only that name, at least we could know what one person has to say overall. Not likely.

But my point for this thread is that without someone from the governance team or Vranesh himself telling us what the truth is (and I acknowledge there would be more than one side to a story), we don't know with absolute certainty what is fact. The posts are not credible with anonymity. And it is not something we should know and be posting as supporters or those in opposition.