News


Vranesh: Pleasanton School District retaliated after he filed complaint

3rd and final week of hearings on Walnut Grove Elementary principal's termination underway

Former Walnut Grove Elementary School principal Jon Vranesh alleged during his testimony April 29 he was put on administrative leave in October 2013 from the Pleasanton Unified School District in retaliation for raising health and safety concerns at the school site.

Vranesh testified in the hearing appealing his termination that the district failed to act on his complaints of health and safety issues he raised at the end of the previous school year and again in September and October 2013.

PUSD attorney Kim Kingsley Bogard asked Vranesh, "Do you believe the district's motive for your termination is due to their failure to investigate your complaints?"

"I think I'm a principal that asks a lot of questions. I think it was pushing the limits whether a union president's daughter superseded my staff's working conditions at my school," Vranesh said. "I think they wanted me to be silenced."

Vranesh's reference was to Valexis Sutton, daughter of classified employees union president Alex Sutton and a custodian at the time at Walnut Grove, whom Vranesh said was not performing adequately in her job and as a result created unsanitary conditions at the school.

Vranesh also recalled his interview with Sacramento-based private investigator Sue Ann Van Dermyden, who was hired by the district to look into the complaint. He said the entire interview lasted 15 to 20 minutes.

"She had very little to go on," he said. "The district was refusing her documents. She was forbidden to do anything about my concerns."

Pleasanton schools superintendent Parvin Ahmadi testified after Vranesh April 29 and said, "the district took action to address these complaints." She added she purposely stayed "completely clear" of the investigation because the complaints were against the school district.

Administrative Law Judge Diane Schneider has not allowed testimony or evidence during the hearing about Vranesh's concerns about the custodial issues at the school because she does not believe they are relevant to the district's allegations against Vranesh.

Vranesh was placed on administrative leave Oct. 24, 2013, for allegedly creating a "hostile work environment" at Walnut Grove through the use of vulgar/derogatory terms to describe female employees of the district and making statements to subordinates that were "threatening and intimidating in nature."

Vranesh filed a complaint Oct. 30, 2013, against PUSD alleging, among other things, that the district failed to conduct an investigation or act on his complaints to district administrators, including Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi, about unsanitary conditions at Walnut Grove and his concerns about the custodian's behavior.

Walnut Grove teacher Katherine Peters testified Wednesday, focusing on the chronology of events that led up to Vranesh's removal from his post in October 2013.

Peters, Walnut Grove's Association of Pleasanton Teachers (APT) union representative in the 2013-14 school year, testified she was made aware of Vranesh's use of "sexually inappropriate, violent language" during a meeting with teachers Oct. 24, 2013. It was at this meeting, Peters said, teachers disclosed Vranesh's use of "the 'C' and 'B' words" in reference to female employees.

Peters also testified Wednesday that she did not trust Vranesh and thought he was not truthful.

On Wednesday Vranesh addressed recent charges filed by the district alleging he removed all the data from his work laptop and had downloaded confidential documents from the district's server.

Vranesh testified he deleted data from his laptop because he had communication from his attorney, personal information, resumes and "things of that nature" on his laptop.

"I didn't want to leave that information on there," he said.

In addition, Vranesh testified that the emails he printed from his work laptop were not for personal use but a way for him "to keep a record" of what he did at the site.

He also denied allegations made in earlier testimonies from Walnut Grove employees including allegations that he mimicked an employee's scoliosis, told a female employee "I wanna (f***) you," and use of derogatory words in reference to female employees.

Katheryn Greth, a Walnut Grove first-grade teacher, testified Wednesday that she felt "uncomfortable" around Vranesh.

"He's very much a principal that met one on one," she said. "He wanted you in his room, wanted you alone. I always felt anxious, on-guard."

In addition to Greth, five other Walnut Grove employees testified April 23 that they felt uncomfortable or knew of colleagues who felt uncomfortable around Vranesh.

Greth said, "He actually called me out at staff meetings, told me I could not speak, locked me out, stopped meetings to tell me I could not put my hair up … publicly made it clear he didn't like me."

"I already said this earlier. I don't dislike any of my staff," Vranesh responded.

Greth also recalled a time Vranesh called her into his office where he said, "You're one of the most negative people I've seen in a staff meeting."

"At that point I was really scared," she said.

She later ­testified that when Vranesh called her to his office and asked her to sit down, she felt "somewhat threatened."

The third and final week of the hearing is scheduled this week with sessions from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today through Friday at the Office of Administrative Hearing in Oakland, 1515 Clay Street, Ste. 206.

Comments

93 people like this
Posted by WG parent
a resident of Birdland
on May 6, 2015 at 10:38 am

If these teachers felt so threatened and were afraid of JV, why didn't they have a union rep come with them when they met with him in his office. I am a union employee and I know for a fact that anytime you have a meeting with your boss, you can request union representation to attend a meeting with you. Kathy claims that she always felt anxious , on-guard. Lynn Cronin said she meet with JV more then 10 times in his office where he locked the door. Why wouldn't you request a union rep to be with you if this truly happened. These teachers are claiming that all of these situations occurred over many months, yet no one ever came forward to file a complaint? You have a union that backs you up, yet these accusations never came to be until 2013. Sorry, not buying it.


11 people like this
Posted by Erin
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 10:59 am

WG parent, I am an RN and have a union rep and the last thing I would think about if this was happening to me would be running to the union rep. It's just not on my radar. That is a weird assumption to make that they would have a union rep with them when they met with him. I could see how it eventually went that way but that is after people started figuring out what was going on. Obviously this happened slowly over time. This sounds like multiple people and witnesses, not just the ones who got the settlement. I've been keeping an open mind about this but this sounds like some serious testimony against him and not just 2 people.


31 people like this
Posted by WG Parent
a resident of Birdland
on May 6, 2015 at 11:13 am

@ Erin, have you ever worked in a hostile environment or been harassed by a manager? I have, and the first person that I contacted was my union rep. Especially anytime I was called into a meeting with management, I had a union rep with me. Having a union rep attend a meeting probably wouldn't have been on my radar had I not felt harassed or threatened. These teachers are claiming that they felt intimidated, threatened or harassed, so it should have been on their radar. They also meet with their union rep Peggy Carpenter in 2013 and this is the reason these allegations came to light. The fact that they did go to the union makes me question why they never had a union rep at any of these meetings given their accusations and the fact that they knew who to contact if there was a problem. These are well educated women, many of them have been employed at that school for many years, so you can't tell me they are unaware of their union rights and how to file a grievance.


30 people like this
Posted by Rob
a resident of another community
on May 6, 2015 at 11:22 am

Why do I have a feeling it's going to boil down to a he said, she said...wait it already is!

Both parties probably acted inappropriate and the teachers may just be out for revenge. If someone asks you sit down during a one-on-one meeting, it usually means you'll be in there for more than five minutes; so take a seat! At the same time, I do agree with WG Parent- why didn't these teachers ask a union rep to be present with them? Each school has one and teachers have that right to use. Claiming that it's not on your mind doesn't flow, as teachers use their unions in every way possible. As for the "don't put your hair up" during a meeting, both sides should get over. Asking someone to not do that during a meeting is a bit like asking someone to not scratch their ear lobe. And the teacher who was told this, should just take with as a grain of salt and let it go with the wind.


9 people like this
Posted by Erin
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 11:25 am

WG Parent, I have not personally been harrassed like this at work but am familiar with co-workers that have had issues. I know it took a long time for them to get to the point of contacting the union as some of these things are subtle and take time to define. Obviously if it's "I want to f*** you" that is not subtle so I am assuming that person would seek help. If it's feeling humiliated in staff meetings as described by the one teacher, I could easily see not contacting the union right away. I will wait for the outcome of this case and what new details emerge before I make judgements.


59 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 11:46 am

Is that's all they've got? Vranesh is in for a big settlement!


34 people like this
Posted by Transcript
a resident of Ironwood
on May 6, 2015 at 11:49 am

Dear PW,

Will there be a transcript of the entire 3 weeks of court? If so, could you please post the link when the transcript is available? I'd like to read all of the testimony rather than just bits and pieces.

Thank you!


69 people like this
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Birdland
on May 6, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Correct me if I am wrong but one of the teachers that is testifying is the same one that got busted and admitted stealing election signs during the last School Board election? I would think that persons words in this matter would be considered duplicitous at best.


11 people like this
Posted by Gina Channell-Allen
president of the Pleasanton Weekly
on May 6, 2015 at 12:57 pm

Gina Channell-Allen is a registered user.

@ Transcript,
We are looking into getting a transcript. There is going to be a cost involved and, when we asked for a ball park, the answer was "a lot."

We were also told it will take "a good amount of time" to get the transcripts together, so they will not be available immediately after the hearing ends.




17 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on May 6, 2015 at 1:22 pm

@Gina Channell-Allen

Don't understand why getting a copy of the transcript should cost "a lot". Isn't it a matter of public record? If the problem is paper copying charges for a document containing 3 weeks of testimony, I would have thought that in this day and age that the transcript has been recorded as a computer file so that copying charges should be nil. Can't help but to be suspicious that someone simply doesn't want to release the transcript.


11 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on May 6, 2015 at 1:29 pm

@resident: "Is that's all they've got? Vranesh is in for a big settlement!"

Don't know where you work at, but if someone at my workplace behaves in the alleged manner described in this article against female employees then they would promptly be fired. In fact, I don't think it would even be an option. I believe that there are Federal anti-discrimination laws against verbally hostile acts such as those alleged here, including the allegation that the accused made sexually aggressive comments to a female employee.

Don't know if the allegations are true or not, but if they are true then Vranesh is definitely not in for a big settlement.


35 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 2:02 pm

Damon, teachers testified that they felt uncomfortable in his presence but nothing is reported to say why. Another teacher testifies that she was really scared when he said 'You're one of the most negative people I've seen in a staff meeting." and felt threatened when asked to sit down in his office. I say again, is that all they've got?


42 people like this
Posted by Watching
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on May 6, 2015 at 3:00 pm

The teacher who claims to be scared and nervous over a standard meeting with the principal is the same teacher who claimed that the custodian tried to block her with a leafblower in the WG parking lot. C'mon! Seriously?


42 people like this
Posted by JustFacts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 3:16 pm

Concerned Parent

"Correct me if I am wrong but one of the teachers that is testifying is the same one that got busted and admitted stealing election signs during the last School Board election? I would think that persons words in this matter would be considered duplicitous at best."

This is true.


59 people like this
Posted by Norma
a resident of Birdland
on May 6, 2015 at 3:21 pm

Damon - Transcripts of these types of hearings aren't automatically done to paper they are usually audio. It's my understanding that the person who requests the transcripts has to pay for a transcriptionist (Court approved) to transcribe the audio to paper. It's expensive. I once paid for a 15 minute hearing to be transcribed it was 350 dollars.

What makes the statements unbelievable to me is this wasn't just a work place..it's a work place full of children. These women really felt that JV was violent and sexually inappropriate yet they were silent? They didn't want to protect our kids from a monster who scared them? It just doesn't ring true. Kat Peters is pretty approachable, yet no one said anything to her until a meeting was called October 24? Don't forget the former union president said her in statement that she went to the school to hold the meeting not because someone from the school called her, but because she heard rumors while at another school. Some of the incidents in the docs the PUSD released happened a couple of years earlier yet no one said a word? They as adults claim to feel unsafe around him yet no one did anything to protect children? Seems suspect to me. I have seen several of the complainants hug and seem extremely friendly with the Superintendent yet they didn't mention to her they had a dangerous principal at the school? Nothing was said until their union called a meeting? If that's true we have bigger problems at the school than these allegations, no one seemed to be protecting the kids.

Let's face it, they didn't like JV. Not liking him shouldn't have cost him everything. I am no expert but sure doesn't seem like any sort of due process was followed. It became a witch hunt after the "extremely emotional" (as described in the docs the PUSD released) Oct 24th meeting was called.


6 people like this
Posted by Norma
a resident of Birdland
on May 6, 2015 at 3:39 pm

Weekly:

Is there a typo in the story? It says "meetings to tell me I could not put my hair up "

Was that meant to read "hand up" or is she really alleging he said in meetings how she should wear her hair?


1 person likes this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on May 6, 2015 at 3:54 pm

@Norma

Thanks for the information about getting transcripts.

As for your not believing the women in this case because you feel that they would have immediately come out with their accusations of they had been true, then how do you reconcile your beliefs here with the Bill Cosby case where many women remained silent for many, many years? I presume that you do believe that Bill Cosby is probably guilty of the many accusations and don't disbelieve all of the accusations by women against him in that case even though they waited many years before going public?


36 people like this
Posted by Norma
a resident of Birdland
on May 6, 2015 at 4:04 pm

Well first of all I don't think you can compare "i felt uncomfortable around him" or "I wasn't allowed to up my hand up" or to what Bill Cosby did. That's apples and oranges. It's that kind of jumping to conclusion which has created this fiasco.

However since you made the comparison, I will point out a few of many many differences. It's my understand the cosby women did come forward over the years but since they had no memory of the incidents it was "he said, she said". Some claimed they made police reports. Also the Cosby women weren't part of an organised union, in most case they didn't even know each other. Also the Cosby women weren't in a job that compels them to protect children.

Again I think it's foolish and reckless to compare the two.


15 people like this
Posted by Carolyn
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 4:18 pm

Norma, did you read the article? It says that there was testimony that he mimicked a teacher, said "I want to f*** you", and used the B and C word in reference to staff. For some reason the PW is quickly glossing over this and instead focussing on some of the small stuff and testimony about how he made people feel.


54 people like this
Posted by Norma
a resident of Birdland
on May 6, 2015 at 4:37 pm

Carolyn,

99 percent of the docs released by the PUSD were full of "he was a small man" "I felt uncomfortable", "he had favorites" "he didn't host dynamic meetings" 2 people claim he used the C word As for the b word..I know several teachers are themselves guilty of saying it. Or is he just not allowed to say it because he is a man? I read the documents pretty closely and the report and there was NO mention of the "I wanna F u claim" was it added later? THe initial claims were not of sexual harassment but a hostel work place.
Seems to me that should have been front and center of the investigator's report if they weren't added later when the witch hunt was in full gear.

I am just saying that if someone said those things to me, especially if it was my job to protect children there is no way I would have waited for the union to hold a meeting to report it. That's why the claims just don't seem truthful to my ears.


23 people like this
Posted by KC
a resident of Country Fair
on May 6, 2015 at 5:01 pm

yeah yeah, union reps are not always there for you. I've had my own share of disappointment with union reps who were suppose to show up for a meeting and NEVER showed up and I never heard from them. My question is if he was so bad and you are so afraid, why not go straight to the district and talk to the appropriate person (Parvin?) and tell them??? Doesn't make sense.


35 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on May 6, 2015 at 5:02 pm

He is gonna be one rich man and those teachers are going to lose everything.


55 people like this
Posted by Tracy
a resident of Valley Trails
on May 6, 2015 at 5:18 pm

If the truth is on your side then you don't need to embellish your story or outright lie. You don't retaliate against those who express different points of view. You don't try to suppress public information and try to illegally ban the public from attending public hearings. You produce evidence (like proof of a text) and your story stays consistent over time.

We teach our children that they shouldn't lie because then nobody knows when you ar telling the truth. We teach our children not to bully others because it is wrong. A fine example these "teachers" set. I believe Vranesh because of the lies and bullying from the accusers.


7 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on May 6, 2015 at 5:31 pm

@Norma: "2 people claim he used the C word As for the b word..I know several teachers are themselves guilty of saying it. Or is he just not allowed to say it because he is a man?"

So two people claimed that Vranesh used the C-word and you think that's not enough? What is your threshold for convincing evidence? Three people accusing him of using the C-word? Six people? A dozen? As for the B-word, no it is not appropriate to use that word in most any workplace, and certainly not in an elementary school. If Vranesh is the type of person who habitually uses the C-word, the B-word, and (according to an earlier PW article) the A-word as well, how did he ever get to be Pleasanton elementary school principal? I can perhaps imagine someone with such a vocabulary as a principal of a tough, inner-city high school. But a Pleasanton elementary school?

As for arguing that the female teachers here did not exercise the best judgement and should have come out earlier with their accusations, perhaps so. But I don't think that you have much of a case if you want to point a finger and say that one of the two sides here exercised poor judgement while the other side exercised impeccable, state-of-the-art judgement. On the basis of what we know so far, it's apparent that Vranesh did not exercise the best of judgement either in his dealings with people at WG.


12 people like this
Posted by Gina Channell-Allen
president of the Pleasanton Weekly
on May 6, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Gina Channell-Allen is a registered user.

@Damon - The difference is this is a hearing at the Office of Administrative Hearings, not a court trial. We aren't sure who "owns" the documents or who to request access from. The information we do have about potential cost and how long it will take to prepare them is from the court reporter (who, by the way, has no stake in whether the documents are released or not) because there isn't a clerk.

As for cost, right now providers of documents can charge pretty much what they want. There are groups in many states, including California, lobbying to change this because it can get cost prohibitive - particularly to small media organizations. Yes, sometimes the cost is set really high on purpose to discourage access. However, there are resources involved in producing documents - time, paper, ink, whatever. In this case, with three weeks worth of testimony, there is going to a lot of work involved prepping documents. It's not fair to a third party like a court reporting firm to expect them to do it at no cost.

I'll keep you updated as I get more information.


51 people like this
Posted by Norma
a resident of Birdland
on May 6, 2015 at 5:55 pm

2 times is habitually? That's just overly dramatic. Which again I will say is the entire problem here.

It should be noted in regards to the b and c words each of the complainants said in the documents released by the PUSD he said it about others and not to them. Interesting the board's investigator never once asked the complainants what type of language they themselves used. 2 times? It's not outlandish to consider perhaps the 2 complainants misheard him, or two friends when gossiping about not liking the principal convinced themselves they heard him say it. One doesn't usually get damages award because they heard someone say something derogatory about someone else. They get damages because of things said directly to them...and boom the "F" story appears out of no where. You also seem to forget that several other staff members have said that the 2 complainants also made up lies about them. All of this goes to their credibility. And in my opinion they aren't believe able.

WHo says things like "my boss said foul things to me and he doesn't allow me to ask questions until the end of the meeting". They were throwing everything including the kitchen sink at him until they found something that would stick

I will say this from personal experience that a lot of the staff at WG loves to gossip. Gossip gets dangerous when it becomes toxic and directed at one person, which in my opinion is what happened in this case.


1 person likes this
Posted by Actual Sane WG Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 6:21 pm

Removed due to excessive and/ or repetitive posts by the same poster


1 person likes this
Posted by Actual Sane WG Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 6:33 pm

Removed due to excessive and/ or repetitive posts by the same poster


Like this comment
Posted by Actual Sane WG Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 6:38 pm

Removed due to excessive and/ or repetitive posts by the same poster


10 people like this
Posted by Norma
a resident of Birdland
on May 6, 2015 at 6:46 pm

Having a respectful exchange of opinion then an angry person shows up with all kinds of accusations and underhanded comments about someone's person life. Not cool but sadly par for the course in this situation.


7 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on May 6, 2015 at 6:51 pm

@Norma: "2 times is habitually? That's just overly dramatic. Which again I will say is the entire problem here."

Well, I didn't go to one of Pleasanton's fine elementary schools but I'm pretty sure that at least two uses of the C-word plus at least one use of the B-word plus at least one use of the A-word is a number greater than two.


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

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