Interim principal named at Walnut Grove

Superintendent: 'I am not legally permitted to discuss any personnel issues'

An interim principal has stepped in at Walnut Grove Elementary School, although district officials aren't saying why.

But Principal Jon Vranesh still, apparently, has a job.

"He has not been removed from his post," Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi told the Pleasanton Weekly Thursday morning. "We as a district want to be decisive but fair to everyone."

An email sent to parents late Tuesday doesn't mention Vranesh by name:

"Mr. Rich Puppione is serving as an interim administrator of Walnut Grove Elementary School. Mr. Puppione served the District for over thirty years as a teacher, principal and district administrator," the email says. "We are confident our programs at Walnut Grove are in very good hands. Mr. Muniz will continue as the vice principal at Walnut Grove."

People have been speculating about the reason behind Vranesh's departure, but a followup email Wednesday from Ahmadi said the district is limited in what information it can release.

"I respect your right to know whether the recent appointment of an interim administrator at Walnut Grove involves questions of student safety," Ahmadi's email said. "While I am not legally permitted to discuss any personnel issues, I can assure you that these changes are not related to the safety of any of our students."

"As a district," she continued, "we are committed to ensuring our children receive an excellent education in a safe environment, and I am confident this has been -- and will continue to be -- the case at Walnut Grove, As much as I would like to resolve all questions raised by these changes, the legal restrictions a district faces in personnel matters are quite real."

Ahmadi and other district officials and the teachers union did not respond to calls from the Pleasanton Weekly, and a call to Vranesh's home went unanswered.

A number of people who posted on the Pleasanton Weekly's online Town Square community forum as current or former parents of Walnut Grove students said they had details about Vranesh's departure. However, it should be noted that none of the information could be independently verified and the posts were made by anonymous contributors.

"He has been placed on leave because the teachers have filed a grievance with their union and the district is to scared to fight the union," one of the anonymous posts reads. "The problem lies with the district and their lack of standing behind their administrators and from running scared of the union."

Another poster writing under the name "Former WG parent" stated: "Teachers are angry at decisions that are being made by their principal so they cried to the union about it and what does Parvin and staff do, they place an amazing principal on leave rather then fighting the union. Those teachers have been so angry at all the changes that the district has made that the only person they can go after is their principal."

That was apparently confirmed by a poster writing under the name "Debra":

"I do know that we have many unhappy teachers at the school as I hear the constant complaining," that poster wrote.

"This teacher(s) made a complaint about a principal they or she knows is well loved. They or she did not do this to make an example of him, they or she did this because it was what was right," wrote a poster using the name "Doni."

One person, writing under the name "WG Dad" said that Vranesh left two weeks ago and that the district didn't release information about his abrupt departure until parents began asking questions.

Another poster on the Town Square forum asked why it took so long for parents to be notified.

"(M)any rumors are going around. What did they expect when they wait so long to let parents have information," the commenter posted.

Other Town Square commenters have accused the district of being deliberately vague about the circumstances surrounding Vranesh's removal and replacement.

"Superintendents don't usually go around placing administrators on leave just because they feel like it, and there is some sort of investigation going on," said one poster who claimed to have a child at the school. "I have no idea whether or not (Vranesh) did anything to warrant this, and it's not up to me to decide his fate as principal. But it is up to Parvin to communicate effectively and in a timely manner with us, while honoring (Vranesh's) right to privacy."

The district did not answer questions about whether Vranesh was placed on paid or unpaid administrative leave.


Like this comment
Posted by can't be about test scores
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2013 at 5:58 pm

According to the state website, Walnut Grove STAR scores all rose this year compared to last year so it can't be about declining test scores. The central office administration has in the past tried to intimidate principals that if the scores fell, the principal would be removed. Walnut Grove STAR scores all rose.

However, out of the blue, Ahmadi and Odie Douglas have been pushing the 'year round' school year calendar that parents, students and teachers are all against. It was even in the newspapers a couple of weeks ago. Maybe all the principals were hauled into the central office downtown and told to get on board with the program of all students will be in school all year with no summer vacation or else.

Everyone agrees that Ahmadi has handled this extremely poorly, the students at Walnut Grove who have gone through 4-5 recent principals have been traumatized by this and Vranesh should be reinstated immediately.

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

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