Pleasanton Weekly

News - March 14, 2014

Two Walnut Grove employees refute investigation details

'Lies' by teachers not checked, the two claim

by Glenn Wohltmann

Two Pleasanton school employees are asking for a public apology from the Pleasanton School District, alleging their reputations were damaged by unsubstantiated claims made against them during the investigation surrounding former school principal Jon Vranesh.

Employees Mary Snell and Linda Pipe made their appeal to the Pleasanton School Board on Tuesday night, saying that the claims against them were made by teachers interviewed by the district's independent investigator, Shon Davidsen, and included in his report as well.

Davidsen was hired to look into allegations that Vranesh was using derogatory language against female teachers and creating a hostile work environment. Vranesh was placed on administrative leave in October and has since been named itinerant principal, although his future with the district remains in limbo.

Snell, health services clerk at Walnut Grove, said she found out her name was included in the investigation by reading documents requested to be made public by the Pleasanton Weekly and ultimately posted on the district's website.

"Imagine my shock, confusion and anxiety to discover myself named as a participant in acts of retaliation toward teachers 'A' and 'B' as a result of Jon's removal," Snell told the board.

Snell said one teacher accused her of withholding information regarding a minor injury of that teacher's child.

"She clearly implied that I provided a different standard of treatment to a small child out of retaliation," Snell said.

Snell claimed a second teacher "insinuated my behavior as retaliatory while I tried to collect her daily classroom attendance. However, she failed to mention to your investigator that she habitually neglects to submit her attendance to the office as required."

Snell said both teachers also claimed knowledge of health services protocol that "simply doesn't exist."

"What else in this one-sided report has been fabricated? Plenty," she added.

Pipe, registrar at Amador Valley High School, said she also was blindsided by finding her name in the investigation, even though the independent investigator never contacted her.

Pipe said she was "shocked to read lies" about her in the witness statement of a teacher and in the investigator's report.

"My crime? Telling teacher 'A' in a friendly conversation while at Peet's with my husband how much I enjoyed working with Jon Vranesh in the past," Pipe said. "That short conversation was twisted by teacher 'A' to paint me as a person who would conspire to push a friend out of her job for personal gain."

Both Pipe and Snell have asked for a written public apology from the district, letters in their files that absolve them of any misconduct and corrections to be posted on the school district's site with the rest of the documents included in the Vranesh investigation.

In other business, roughly 45 teachers from across the district turned out Tuesday night over an unspecified safety issue at Hart Middle School.

The teachers wore hearts to show their support for their Hart colleagues and carried signs to show what school they represented.

"There are concerns in our district that are not getting addressed," teachers union President Peggy Carpenter told the board.

Later, the school board took the first step toward adopting non-discrimination legislation that allows people to use the bathroom or locker room of the sex with which they identify.

"We are going to be aligning ourselves with the law," Kevin Johnson, the district's senior director of pupil services, told the board.

Two Foothill students turned out to push for quick adoption of the new standards.

"We are grateful for the progress, but we want more," said Cori Hartwig, president of the school's Gay/Straight Alliance Club.

Ayllx Tafoya, a transgender male, said he's seen first hand how the law would affect him. Tafoya said during a rainy day at school last year, he went into the men's locker room at Foothill with the rest of the young males in gym class.

"A group of boys began to laugh and point at me. ... I just stood there ignoring them," Tafoya told the board. "What I'm asking is for the district to just take the time to make sure our students are safe."

The discussion surrounded the first reading of the new district policy to comply with the law, which took effect in January. The board will vote on the new policy at its next meeting.

"I look forward to our district implementing both the spirit and the letter of the law," board member Joan Laursen said.

The board also voted to approve 1% raises across the board for its two unions and its management team at a total cost of about $984,000.

In addition, the board approved spending up to $3,600 a year to send district employees or school board members through leadership classes co-sponsored by the city and the chamber of commerce.

Comments

Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Mary and Linda have not received an apology from the district and appeared at the 4/8/2014 meeting. They were joined by Paige Wright a sub at WG who was banned from the school because of pressure from a few employees at the school who felt her honest responses were non-supportive. Since she wouldn't lie about the situation and aspects she didn't know about she was retaliated against. A Big Thanks to these ladies for standing up for themselves! I know and have worked with two of the three and found them to be VERY professional and level headed. Makes me question the whole investigation if this was allowed to happen!

The board meeting is here at the community section. After, Valerie Arkin suggests a second legal opinion by someone unaffiliated with the case. VERY good suggestion!

Web Link


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

To post your comment, please click here to Log in

Remember me?
Forgot Password?
or register. This topic is only for those who have signed up to participate by providing their email address and establishing a screen name.