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Editorial: Here we go again with PUSD

Continued administrator instability undermines trust of school board

The new year will bring challenges, uncertainty and opportunity.

Pleasanton will start the year with its school superintendent, Rick Rubino, on paid administrative leave while an unspecified "personnel matter" is investigated. He hasn't been in the role a full six months.

Administrative turnover and instability has been a concern for at least the past three years. It's difficult to believe, but it has become considerably worse within the past 18 months or so.

The Pleasanton school district is on its fourth leader since June 2015, with deputy superintendent of business services Micaela Ochoa taking the helm in the short-term with Rubino on leave. There have been new principals at eight of the district's 15 schools, including three at Harvest Park Middle School alone, in that time-frame.

The school board's newest member, Steve Maher, a retired district principal, acknowledged the turnover at the top during his campaign last fall. He told voters he wanted to join the board to help "stop the revolving door of principals, staff and district office personnel."

This churn directly affects everyone -- students, parents, district employees and residents.

Last month, Pleasanton residents resoundingly passed the $270 million school facilities bond measure, which we endorsed because it is sorely needed and it had been 20 years since Pleasanton voters passed a school bond measure. While none of the bond funds go to the expense of administrator turnover (legal fees, contract buyouts and the like), passing bond and parcel tax measures require trust of those in charge. In this case, it is the school board.

The board stated it wanted to begin reviewing the district's hiring practices in January. More than just the hiring practices need to be reviewed. Hiring quality administrators is one thing, but we need to retain them too.

We encourage the board to look for all the root causes of this churn and instability, put in place specific, measurable goals for change and keep the community informed. Action and transparency are key to earning trust.

This is an opportunity for the school board to build back the trust of the public and prove to voters they made a good choice retaining two incumbents and voting in Maher.

Pleasanton Weekly editorial board.

Comments

18 people like this
Posted by Beyond disappointed
a resident of Laguna Oaks
on Dec 31, 2016 at 6:17 pm

As a 15-year PUSD parent, I'm embarrassed and disappointed with this latest news. Regardless of the outcome, the mere fact an investigation is required is discouraging. So glad our family is close to putting PUSD is our rear view.


10 people like this
Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Del Prado
on Dec 31, 2016 at 7:20 pm

It's time to drain the swamp! Start at the top and work our way down. Eliminate the union and restructure the entire district. It's a joke we hire a football player to run our high school. What a joke!


19 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 1, 2017 at 10:12 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

"Eliminate the union..."
I love that the elimination of unions will solve the district's woes, that the union caused this (and all) problem(s). Here's a tip for you: none of us teachers have any idea what is happening with the superintendent. We are just as much in the dark as you are.

"... and restructure the entire district."
How exactly should a district look?

"...we hire a football player to run our high school."
Huh?


10 people like this
Posted by Nils Erickson
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 4, 2017 at 12:25 am

Nils Erickson is a registered user.

The problem with the unions is that they have so overplayed their hand, that anytime someone is fired for cause the immediate response is "A teacher had their feelings hurt, so an administrator will now be fired." It has created massive distrust between the residents and the teachers. We simply cannot trust the union to tell a true story. So our default position becomes one of hostility against the unions and their members. Chicken Little, if you will.

The residents can not trust the union, nor by extension the teachers. So when a REAL problem exists, no support follows.


19 people like this
Posted by Nils Erickson
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 4, 2017 at 12:30 am

Nils Erickson is a registered user.

The other problem is that when people are fired, personnel laws prohibit disclosing the reason for cause. And when the district settles with teachers without trial, details are removed. So residents never know why settlements are paid. Or why people are laid off. This is an issue with our own district attorneys, the board, administration, the teachers union, the teachers, and laws.

As a resident of this district, I have NO idea who to believe. I generally believe EVERYONE associated with the district stinks, and I hate them all. That is the result of the lack of transparency. You all stink. There really is no other option to believe, given what we are allowed to consume.


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