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Board hires next principal of Pleasanton Middle School

Original post made on May 8, 2019

The Pleasanton Unified School District welcomed Joe Nguyen as the next principal for Pleasanton Middle School at the start of the Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday night.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, May 8, 2019, 4:51 PM

Comments (37)

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Bridle Creek
on May 8, 2019 at 9:32 pm

Disappointing that PUSD would bypass the logical candidate as the next principal of PMS and hire from outside the district. Mike O’Brien has poured his heart and soul into PMS, and was the obvious choice to take over the reins from Dr. Butler. What a complete disservice to the school, the parents, and most of all, the PMS students!
Not sure what the thought process was here, and no disrespect intended towards Mr. Nguyen, but it’s incredibly disheartening to see someone like Mr. O’Brien bypassed for a position he absolutely deserved.
PUSD can’t seem to get it right yet again...

Posted by Discouraged staff
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 8, 2019 at 10:10 pm

I can’t agree with anonymous any more. This is also a disservice to the teachers. Most of them love mike O’Brien and wanted him to be the principal as well. PUSD you’ve failed to listen to the teachers as well. Shame on you David Haglund

Posted by Agree
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on May 8, 2019 at 10:43 pm

PUSD's board and the current staff at the district office do not put kids first nor did they listen to the needs or desires of the PMS community.

Posted by Frustrated parent
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on May 8, 2019 at 11:08 pm

Agree with the previous posts. I’m sure Mr. Nguyen is great, but hiring outside the district is the worst possible decision. Mr. Haglund et al, don’t play us for fools — we will make sure our displeasure with your decision is known. We are the taxpayers and for all intents and purposes you work for us.

Posted by Lessons Learned????
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on May 9, 2019 at 7:23 am

Hmmm, how many times has this district hired people from outside our district only to have the person resign after not working out because they did not understand or connect with the community? Here we go again. The current administration is wiping away all that is good about PUSD and bringing in new administration to bring in new programs. All of this runs counter to the push to support our children and help those students who suffer from anxiety, stress, and depression. Look at Amador, Vintage Hills, Harvest Park......Just maybe, the District administration and Board might care about the well being of our children. The children who have attended VH, PMS, and Amador have not had consistency throughout their experience in PUSD. But, frankly, this board and administration does not care as long as the Blue Ribbons and all the other awards keep rolling in and the photo opportunities are posted on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Children who are known and cared about by their principals have a better chance of staying out of trouble and exceeding, but now PMS might have an entirely new administrative staff next year. Mr. O'Brien is more than ready to run his own school; he is a catch for another position in our district or elsewhere. Clearly, the district does not have our children's best interests at heart. Stop taking pictures and posting and do the hard work of helping ALL the children in PUSD.

Posted by Dysfunctional DO
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on May 9, 2019 at 7:33 am

I cannot believe how incredibly dysfunctional the District Office is. Parents and teachers made it clear that Mr. O'Brien was their choice. But clearly, the higher ups do not care. The head of HR, Julio, and Dr. Haglund are an embarrassment to this district. They believe in making decisions and forcing our community to follow whatever they demand. Pleasanton Middle School had an amazing admin team who worked with parents, students, and teachers. It was a strong school with a positive reputation and in less than a year, the DO is trying to take it down like it did with Amador. And the best part is that the board gave Dr. Haglund an amazing salary and bonus. Community members - let your voice be heard. Send emails, post on Pleasanton Weekly, speak at the board meeting. These "higher ups" who were given the position to look out for us have forgotten that they work for the tax payers of this city. It is time to remind them.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 9, 2019 at 7:50 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Do we know O’Brien wanted this job? Might he be trying for Amador or something else?

I wish Nguyen well; our teachers and students deserve a smooth transition.

As for Blue Ribbon schools and other awards schools have to apply for, they’re a tremendous waste of staff time and mostly serve to sell banners. The only way to end it is for parents to stop valuing them. Check Ed Data and other sources for information about your schools.

Posted by Sign the petition
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on May 9, 2019 at 7:57 am

We are requesting that Mr. Haglund et al meet with concerned PMS parents about this recent appointment. To be clear, our issue is not with Mr. Nguyen (who looks to be a fine person) but strictly with Haglund and Haglund’s admin’s refusal to listen to and respect the needs and desires of the PMS community,
Here’s the link to sign:
Web Link

Posted by Disappointed
a resident of Val Vista
on May 9, 2019 at 8:47 am

Disappointed is a registered user.

Shame on you Dr. Haglund and Julio! Listen to your teachers and your principals - before they ALL leave. No one wants to work for a district that doesn't listen to them or who doesn't do what's best for the students. You have shown NOTHING but poor judgement and awful decisions. This just adds to the long list...

Posted by LindaP
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 9, 2019 at 9:40 am

The new interview process that Asst. Superintendent, Julio Hernandez introduced to PUSD is much more robust that what was ever used in the past. There is a team of about 20 people composed of teachers at the school in question, parents from the school in question, classified staff from the school in question and other administrators/managers/employees from the district at large. After going through an EXTENSIVE all day process, the whole group comes together to discuss every aspect of the day and the candidates. The WHOLE group makes a decision on which candidates to recommend for further consideration.

At no time are decisions made in a bubble. For Mr. Nguyen to be chosen, he was fully recommended by the group and vetted by a wide variety of people all connected to the school.

Sometimes armchair quarterbacking (ACQ) is not valid or helpful because usually ACQ's don't have all the information.

Posted by Hey Julio
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on May 9, 2019 at 10:04 am

Hey Julio, glad to see you are checking Pleasanton Weekly. Sorry you had to publish under the pseudonym “Linda P”. What a coincidence that it happens to match the name of a district employee. Glad you think your new process is robust. I don’t know Joe Nguyen but everyone close to this fiasco knows that Mike O’Brien was the best choice. How great that you used this robust process with Amador, yet you had to repost because it was inconclusive. Maybe you should stop “armchair quarterbacking” all of your new policies against employees. You created a fiasco in San Lorenzo and are now doing the same in Pleasanton. Can’t wait to find out how the employees and parents rate the district office in the school climate survey. Make sure you are at the board meeting for that one.

Posted by Agenda
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on May 9, 2019 at 10:59 am

This district has an agenda and is snowplowing everyone out the way! Ironically, they do not openly share the direction of the District wtih our parents. Most parents do not even know about the additional, unnecessary testing they are so desperate to implement even though children will lose nearly 15 hours of instructional time. They just spent millions of your tax dollars for reading programs with built in and relevant assessments, but let's waste taxpayer money and children's time, so the District can have more fancy charts to show our board. Parents, go to board meetings and ask questions. It is top down management which never works. Teachers, parents, and students need buy in and joint decision making to implement long range change which truly benefits our students.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on May 9, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Maybe Mike O'Brien didn't want the job or maybe it wasn't the right time for him personally. Dont assume he was overlooked.

Posted by PleasantonMom
a resident of Castlewood
on May 9, 2019 at 12:25 pm

PleasantonMom is a registered user.

I have heard some wonderful things about Mr. Obrien, but also so not so great things. Nobody is perfect. I hope that he was considered for the role, if he wanted it, and that the hiring board made the best decision with the knowledge they had. I

Posted by Agree
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on May 9, 2019 at 12:30 pm

Yes, Mr. O'Brien applied.
If you cannot hear the tone in these responses, the issue is much larger than a principal's position. The Distric Administration is not listening to the stake holders in this community on MANY issues. As pointed out in the past, they are not truthful or transparent with the community in regards to many issues.

Posted by Involved Parent
a resident of Pheasant Ridge
on May 9, 2019 at 1:05 pm

I do not understand why so many commentors on Pleasanton Weekly put so much effort into undermining public trust in our school district.

Althought it does appear that Mr. O'Brien sounds like the logical choice to ACQs (thanks for that LindaP!). Are you certain that he himself feels that way based on his personal priorities and in light of Mr. Nguyen's experience? Mr. O'Brien I believe would want what is best for the students and will continue to support both Mr. Nguyen and PMS students in whatever capacity he is in.

The accusations around the district's lack of transparency is quite frankly, old, tired and unfair. This school year alone, PUSD leaders (Haglund and cabinet plus board members) have invited EVERYONE in the community to attend any of 4 open meetings to share their direction and have opened up the floor to ANYONE who has concerns to share - Sep 13 at Fairlands, Nov 27 at Alisal, Feb 5 at Hart and Apr 30 at Foothill. If you have a valid concern and yet don't actually identify yourself and become part of the solution, then you are a BIG part of the problem. Teachers, parents, students are constantly invited to engage and there are countless solution-oriented people who have. At the last meeting, there were more PUSD people present than attendees. There's also a community wide stakeholder survey going on right now. So don't say the district is "top-down" and isn't doing anything to involve parents, teachers and students because that's a lie.

I am absolutely disgusted by the fearmongering and disparaging comments that kindle fires of distrust and hate and take time and energy away school district personnel who have to respond to the pitchfork carriers, egged on by Pleasanton Weekly comments.

As in any CA school district, things are not perfect (learn about school funding on, but things have improved over the last 15 years when my child first started Kindegarten. Good things are happening in our public school district, folks, whether you choose to acknowledge them or not. Our "tax dollars" are being put to good use, considering what little our school district has to work with. Many move here to receive a quality education and our students, with the help of both our (FREE) public schools and involved parents have many opportunites to thrive. And things will get even better with involved community members who seek to understand and be part of the solution instead of perpetuating mistruths and accusations.

The only reasons I can think of why so many people would make such a concerted effort to write so much smack is to destroy confidence in public education, create charter schools, discourage voters from supporting full and fair funding and further widen the gap between haves and have-nots. Despite the affluence in our community, donations help but do not come close to bringing us in line with other school districts. This means our facilities aren't as up-to-date, our teachers aren't as well compensated, our class sizes are larger, and ultimately our students have to make do with that.

So sad what some people write on these boards sometimes. Very sad. All you really accomplish is take time and energy away from ALL kids. If you really care so much about these issues, show your face and name, talk to the people involved, become truly informed. Be a truly productive member of our town instead of the bane of it.

Posted by teacher
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 9, 2019 at 1:08 pm

Pleasanton Unified is quickly losing it's reputation as a desirable place to work for teachers. Teacher candidates are looking to work elsewhere, in other districts. If the district admin really wanted to attract good teachers, they should stop disrespecting their teachers and start listening to them. They are gong to lose the good teachers they have to other better paying districts nearby.

Posted by MommaB
a resident of Avila
on May 9, 2019 at 1:29 pm

O'Brien said he was putting his hat in for the job. He deserves that position. Our kids need him in that position. PMS is dealing with a lot of issues whether you want to believe it or not and he has been very good about addressing those issues. And for those who think parents just always attack, we attack because we are not heard. I send emails asking for discussions, we ask to be heard and the Super just thinks he's above us all and does what he pleases. I stead of assuming so many parents are just bored and angry, listen to what we are saying or trying to get across.

Lydikson is losing all of their fourth grade teachers, VH is losing teachers and 4 out of 5 SDC teachers are leaving Lydikson. We lost our Amador principal. PUSD start doing your job.

Posted by Tiredofpusd
a resident of Birdland
on May 9, 2019 at 1:33 pm

It's time to strike. Parents need to strike Haglund. The teachers aren't fans...he is not about our kids....he's about himself.

And we all know O'Brien put his hat in for the job. Shame. Shame. Sha

Posted by Troubled schools
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 9, 2019 at 1:50 pm

The District superintendent Haglund apparently has a real attitude problem when it comes to parents and community members and he posts to social media to the community time and time again long diatribes such as this one Web Link from a couple of weeks ago. It is a long drawn out article from Queensland, Australia (Australia ? Yes Australia) that goes on for pages and pages about abusive parents that break in to school employees houses in Australia. Here is what he sent out to the community two weeks ago ===> Web Link

If any of you have students at the high schools, you know they basically look at these Tweets everyday and think that has got to be a parody account or the person behind these Tweets is nuts.

In the last 15 years, the PUSD has gone completely downhill. Facilities are in disrepair in spite of multiple bond measures. Superintendents are a revolving door and no one hired since Casey departed in 2010 has had previous experience as a superintendent.

Turnover of principals is sky high...sometimes 4-6 principals in the same school within a 2 year period. Absurd. There are so many that students can't even name them. One was at Harvest Park for about 3 or 4 weeks before they resigned. And in that situation, the teachers and parents wanted one of the existing vice principals to become principal so there would be stability, but the PUSD chose someone from some other school district just like what is happening at PMS right now.

Posted by Frustrated parent
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on May 9, 2019 at 2:28 pm

To “involved parent”, we are disgusted by the sheer incompetence of PUSD which is why we post here. Most of us have jobs which don’t allow us to attend school board meetings and we trust that PUSD members should do THEIR job which we pay them for - and they don’t- hence the outrage. I don’t expect others to babysit my work and if I am incompetent I should be fired - same goes for PUSD. The point is, students, parents and faculty made it very clear who was the obvious choice in this appointment and PUSD blatantly ignored their wishes and frankly what’s best for the school. I don’t care how many meetings and special councils are convened to chose a new principal - if you simply can’t get it right, the whole thing is essentially an expensive, wasteful dog and pony show —-but perhaps that was the point? Believe me, we’ll match your disgust and outrage and raise it ten fold.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 9, 2019 at 3:03 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Interesting tweet. Was that it? No suggestions how PUSD is better or how he plans to improve things if it isn’t better?

Involved parent, I would agree there are a lot of good things going on in our schools. I would further state that it is because of great teachers, involved parents and their children, dedicated administrators, and a supportive community. I would not say that about our district office or often our board members. I comment here; I use my real name; I am very supportive of public education; I contribute to the schools and teachers where my grandchildren attend. But I will call it as I see it (and with supporting data if I have it).

But for parents, if something is this egregious, you have to show up at a board meeting. You have to make sure board members—your representatives and the supposed leaders of PUSD—hear your concerns. It takes only a few people willing to speak, and a roomful if you can get people to show up and just raise their hands in support for the speakers. There is open comment at the beginning of the meeting—say your piece and you can leave. Emails help, but even though I know they read the comments out here, they will not respond, and they are not likely to take much of it to heart because the comments are anonymous.

If we don’t show up; if we don’t run for office; if we don’t vote carefully; if we don’t speak our minds and continue to let people run unopposed, very little will change.

Posted by To involved parent
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 9, 2019 at 3:59 pm

To involved parent: I highly suggest you meet with 20 members of your community before one of the meetings where the board asks for feedback. Come up with something you are passionate about and create an argument as to why you feel this way. Show up to the meeting together, voice your well-thought out concerns, and ask for the district to listen. Then watch as they ignore your wishes and do the exact opposite of what your group asked for.

Until you experience that disappointment, don't post on here about how the district will listen if people just show up for meetings. It is untrue and completely false. Just ask the teachers and parents who gave feedback for the various principal searches throughout the district.

Posted by Ruby
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on May 9, 2019 at 4:19 pm

If you haven’t put your 2 cents in yet, you still can. Stakeholder Survey EXTENDED! #PUSDedu families and community members: Take the 2nd Annual PUSD Stakeholder Survey! Now Available through May 17: Web Link

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 9, 2019 at 4:41 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

IMHO, the survey is a first attempt to get the pulse of the community regarding an additional bond without indicating it’s about the bond. Trust, transparency, and communication are necessary to sell the new bond.

So far, they are touting the bond as “not increasing current taxes”. Not wholly true, or at least it hides the bigger truth. Everyone is paying about $20/$100,000 of assessed valuation on the old bonds (1988/1997 I think). That is about to expire/be paid off. So yes, a new $120MM bond won’t add to the amount you currently pay (it will likely stay $20/$100,000), but it will EXTEND what you are paying for 30 (or more) years. Be clear: it is a new tax; it is an addition for many years to come. The only truth is it will likely stay at $20/$100,000. They don’t want to say that out loud. So no trust, transparency, or clear communication. Just spin.

Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 9, 2019 at 9:01 pm

....kind of like the survey on how to build the new school? Im positive the "4th and 5th " donlon option wasn't on that survey.

Posted by Unreal
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 9, 2019 at 9:36 pm

Unreal is a registered user.

Kathleen, we show up. We email, we call, we play the game and it's as though they just do not care. This is wrong. O'Brien should be in. We showed up and voiced our wants and they were ignored which is us being told we do not matter. Bravo. When is Dr. Haglunds contract up?

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 9, 2019 at 9:53 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Ask to meet Maher and/or Arkin for coffee or whatever. Host a coffee in someone’s home and invite them. They are good listeners and can be helpful. I don’t know O’Brien or Nguyen. It may be fair to ask why not O’Brien, but I think you’ll be told it’s a personnel matter. Or at least have them list there reasons for choosing Nguyen.

I hope Nguyen is great and is welcomed in the meantime. And I hope O’Brien reaches his goals.

As to Haglund’s contract, if his review is satisfactory, it renews for a year, making it a perpetual four year contract. Web Link

Posted by Edu-crats
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 9, 2019 at 9:53 pm

There is a big difference when you show up at the Public Forum / Meeting Open to the Public at the school district vs the city. The school district is made up of non-responsive bureaucrats on staff and non-responsive or barely responsive school board members.

The city:
1) If you speak at Meeting Open to the Public, either the assistant city manager or someone else comes to the podium and then meets one on one with you or arranges to meet one on one with you to get the issue resolved.
2) They email you back when you email them
3) City council members sometimes email you back, but if they don't someone from the city manager's office emails you back.
4) City council members say they'll look into the issue and get back to you.

The school district:
1) If you speak at the Community Comments session, they sit there looking at their notes, each other, or anyone but the speaker. No one contacts you and they barely acknowledge your presence. No one from staff approaches you. They call the next Speaker card. It as if you are speaking to inanimate objects.
2) They do not email you back
3) It as if you do not exist. Often times they have dated message on saying they are out of the office.
4) School board members make excuses that they do high level policy work only and don't get involved in the operations of the school district. Huh? Apparently if the sky is falling, they don't get involved.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 9, 2019 at 9:58 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Edu-crats—I’ve emailed council members and Fialho with little response. Some, never. Not a surprise; we elect them, and they’re done until next time. True all the way up the line for the majority of electeds.

Posted by Unreal
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 10, 2019 at 6:58 am

Unreal is a registered user.

Kathleen....sadly Maher is not seen as someone they should listen to. He's had many conversations with parents one on one and in groups. Same with Arkin. Haglund doesn't care what they say either.

Everyone who believes we just sit and are wrong.

Those community meetings they have held all year was never put out through PTAs consistently so yes...few showed. I chose to not attend the last one as the others were just filled with our questions being answered with, "I don't have the info with me. We will post your question and our answer on the website". Funny thing is they never do.

Board meetings. A lot of shaking the heads by board and district officials. Smirks and glances at one another is a fun game to watch as well.

We write emails and are guided back to the school site. If I'm emailing you Dr. Haglund, then I have tried going to the site leaders and obviously need your assistance.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 10, 2019 at 8:13 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

You need three board members to get action from staff. Miller? Hintzke?

This is the problem when elected officials are worried about being friends with staff and are not thinking about being the leaders who must hold the superintendent accountable for everything going on in the district. Again, it doesn’t have to be adversarial, but it requires being able to ask tough questions and to hold Haglund’s feet to the fire if necessary.

It also means Haglund’s review has to include every issue raised by the public, and it has to be a frank discussion. When people are coming to the board, there is a failure somewhere in the system and it must be addressed. Typically reviews are an assessment of goals from this year; here are goals for the coming year. I don’t think the reviews are very granular, but none of us are in the room.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Country Fair
on May 10, 2019 at 5:58 pm

Mike O’Brien will leave PUSD. for a school district where he will be valued and thrive. Period.

Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 10, 2019 at 7:57 pm

As a long time, property owner and tax payer in this school district, I have paid for my ticket, that permits my opinion.

It is my opinion, Hintzki is the deceiving primary force on the PUSD board driving the PUSD non-transparency.

Mark Miller came on board with an agenda to change school start days and or times, with an open mind to cause change.

Mark has since, been corrupted with the Hintzki influence that has narrowed his original open mind.

Posted by Response to Involved Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on May 11, 2019 at 11:48 am

Involved Parent sounds like a school board member. If so, it is interesting that you have time to post here, but you do not respond to parent emails. This is the worst board ever. Clearly, a few of you are pushing your own or your friends' agendas and, frankly, I do not care how many forums you hold because you do not listen. Your meetings give you the right to say, we involved the public, but you do not act for the unheard voices in this community. You are not transparent and everyone knows it. Hopefully more of us will show up at board meetings in person now to publically call you out. You should not be buddies with the supertindent; you are supposed to serve as an oversight committee for all of us who work full time and do not have time to attend board meetings.

Posted by SanRaMom
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on May 13, 2019 at 1:36 pm

Having worked in the Pleasanton community, I know the residents there to be very kind and welcoming people. Process and politics aside, I hope folks at PMS will welcome Mr. Nguyen with open arms and a positive, cooperative spirit. He was a wonderful principal for both of my "kiddos" (as Mr. Nguyen sometimes calls them) at Iron Horse Middle School. He brings with him administrative skill, smarts, compassion and kindness. Our loss is your gain. Not only has your Board chosen him, Mr. Nguyen has chosen you and your community. Rest assured he has what it takes to do the job well if you give him the chance.

Posted by Response to SaNRaMom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 13, 2019 at 5:16 pm

[Removed] sorry to call you out for the previous post. While you are correct in saying the PMS community can and will adjust to Mr. Nguyen, the point of these posts is NOT Mr. Nguyen. It is the districts lack of ability to listen to the community.
[removed] disappointed to hear you say “our” loss meaning San Ramon USD. Why don’t you teach in San Ramon instead?

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