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 I think it was pushing the limits whether a union president's daughter superseded my staff's working conditions at my school," Vranesh said.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.