News


Pleasanton schools' director of technology services resigns for post in Union City

Chris Hobbs is among several resignations, retirements and temporary leaves in district administration

Pleasanton Unified School District's director of technology services is planning to leave the district to return to the New Haven Unified School District in Union City.

Chris Hobbs will leave Pleasanton Unified as of Nov. 6. His resignation was accepted by the school board at Tuesday night's meeting.

Hobbs previously worked at the New Haven School District, interim superintendent Jim Hansen said.

Pleasanton Unified has seen a series of resignations, retirements and temporary leaves that have left its upper management with mostly interim positions.

The post of superintendent is being filled by interim superintendent Jim Hansen after former superintendent Parvin Ahmadi left in May to become Castro Valley's superintendent.

Assistant superintendent of human resources Dianne Howell is filling the position after Bill Faraghan retired from that job in June. Substitute assistant superintendent of business services Micaela Ochoa is working at that post while Luz Cazares is away on medical leave.

District director of human resources Mark McCoy has resigned and will leave his job Friday for a position as Dublin Unified's assistant superintendent of human resources. His resignation also was accepted Tuesday night.

In addition, the district is searching for a spokesperson after Nicole Steward resigned from her post as Coordinator of Communication & Community Engagement for a job as Milpitas Unified School District's Family & Community Engagement Manager. She was expected to leave the district Oct. 16, but an updated schedule of resignations stated she will leave her job Thursday.

Comments

11 people like this
Posted by Jerry
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 27, 2015 at 6:33 pm

Sounds a bit disfunctional to me.


6 people like this
Posted by clueless
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2015 at 8:14 pm

Ahmadi's idea that laptops and Youtube and Twitter and Moodle and Google Classroom would replace teaching in the schools has been an unmitigated disaster. The infrastructure to have every student with a device or laptop is not in place at any school site. Add to that the repetitive stress injuries that teachers have having to grade electronically submitted homework for several hours a day. Not sure what in the world the administration was thinking.


13 people like this
Posted by Anon-e-mouse
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 28, 2015 at 6:55 am

Ahmadi's idea that chicken nuggets and gyroscopes and XBoxes and fairy dust would replace teaching in the schools has been an unmitigated disaster.

Of course she never suggested any of those things would replace teaching, just as she never suggested that any of the tools that the aptly named commenter above listed would replace teaching. You've created a perfect example of a straw man argument. Well done.


7 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 28, 2015 at 7:42 am

My daughter joined the laptop program at Hart this year. She had a few bumps at first as she got used to it but now it's fine. The WiFi connection in her block classroom is a bit sketchy at times though.
Looks like PUSD will be on a hiring binge. Why does it take so long to start the process? Ahmadi and Faraghan have been gone for months. Maybe that's the way it is in Education, not like private business where replacements are found quickly.


2 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Oct 28, 2015 at 9:48 am

Thank you weekly for updating and providing local news. This, and other stories are not covered by any other news outlets.


10 people like this
Posted by Hobbs will be missed
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 28, 2015 at 10:10 am

So sad to see Chris go. He was energetic and did a lot in the 3 years he was here for technology in the district. New Haven knew they lost a good person and from the minute he left there originally, they probably were working on getting him back.

Best wishes, Chris! You will be missed!


35 people like this
Posted by Teacher and Parent
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 28, 2015 at 11:03 am

As a community, we need to take a serious look at how we can make PUSD an attractive employer again. In my opinion, what we are seeing now is the result of three main factors:

1) Poor leadership at the district level (Ahmadi and Douglas, in particular)
2) A school board that has become fractured by a divided community
3) Economic strains that resulted from the recession and the restructuring of funding in CA, unmitigated by a parcel tax in our community


12 people like this
Posted by Hpms parent
a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 28, 2015 at 11:17 am

Last year testing for common core took four times as long because network could not handle volume. It is no better. Agree that having students watch YouTube videos in class is absurd. Isn't there supposed to be an actual curriculum. Why did so many assignments get dropped in favor of YouTube viewing. Insanity at its worst.


3 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 28, 2015 at 11:29 am

Youtube is just a streaming site. Some videos on Youtube are educational and some aren't. I show PBS videos through Youtube because the streaming works better with my 1982 computer than PBS's does. Or, I show little clips like this while I'm taking roll:

Web Link

Quick, to the point, and the kids learn something while I'm doing administrative work. But we digress... :)


5 people like this
Posted by Ellen
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 28, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Ed - My first thought was why does it take so long to even start?! It must be more typical in this sector, but it's been 5 months and the fact they're just starting is surprising.

Some of this change is good and a long time coming. I look at it as some much needed house cleaning. I don't mean to say that all those who are leaving needed to go, some will be sorely missed, but overall and especially at the highest levels, change needed to happen and finally it is.

We are so fortunate to have Jim Hansen as the interim superintendent. He has our district and our students' best interests at heart so I'm cautiously confident (?) our next superintendent will be able to continue to right the ship after so much damage was done over the past few years.

In spite of claims of teachers showing videos in lieu of assignments, I've been mostly impressed with what our district and our teachers have done with the curriculum as we've transitioned to Common Core the last few years. I don't yet have high schoolers so I can't speak to that but considering a rather large shift in education, I feel like my kids are not only learning the basics but their way of viewing things particularly in math and writing has gotten so much deeper.

The year is young so I might be as cynical as some of the rest of you come Spring. I doubt it though. :)


7 people like this
Posted by Hpms parent
a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 28, 2015 at 12:33 pm

So with the YouTube teacher claiming to have a
1982 computer it must be some sort of miracle that a pcdos or msdos ibm pc is able to connect to the Internet. The teachers seem to use YouTube as a way to occupy the kids while the so called teachers surf the Internet and the various chat rooms. Or worse.


16 people like this
Posted by Mark Miller - PUSD Board Member
a resident of Mission Park
on Oct 28, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Just a quick comment on the Superintendent hiring process. Our search will include the recruiting of superintendents who are currently employed, and therefore typically don't change jobs until the end of the school year (June 30). So there's a "season" for hiring, and our published schedule is aligned to that. And here's a request to all - you'll be given the opportunity to provide input as to the qualities you want to see in our next superintendent, and we very much welcome that input!


7 people like this
Posted by teacher
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 28, 2015 at 1:41 pm

@hpms parent: I was using humor and hyperbole. Sounds like you could use a sense of humor yourself.

I'm sorry all your child's teachers sit on chat sites all day and show youtube videos. It's a wonder our SBAC scores, AP scores, and college acceptance rates are as good as they are in this district with all these terrible teachers who don't teach.


7 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Laguna Oaks
on Oct 28, 2015 at 1:42 pm

For goodness sakes, it's 2015 and we're a stone's throw from the silicon valley. Our kids need to be using technology to learn. Unfortunately it's not fully embraced in the district when they're still writing essays on paper. We've put 2 kids through Hart's laptop program as an investment in them. It wasn't perfect but my kids run circles around kids who didn't/couldn't participate when it comes to using technology. And they use it safely. Their biggest complaint has always been the IT infrastructure and bandwidth on campus. At FHS BTSN, several teachers could not present because the wifi crashed--again. So we welcome the investment and use of technology by teachers and students for learning in the classroom at PUSD. Bring it on. And please bring in someone from the tech sector who is tired of making the commute--for where we live, our campuses should be state of the art.


15 people like this
Posted by Stop it
a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Oct 28, 2015 at 2:57 pm

Sounds like the teachers have plenty of tech to be able to get onto the Internet and comment on this blog about the failings of their employer.
If technology is such a problem why are teachers at AVHS taking my cell phone away daily? They are requiring kids to turn phones during every class perio . The cell phone is more powerful than any computer the school has. Why not let the kids use them? If the kids are using the phones inappropriately it's probably because they are bored in the class.
All of this sounds like whining and complaining. It's no wonder people are leaving. Perhaps the teachers posting on this blog need to reflect on how they are contributing to making PUSD undesirable.


Like this comment
Posted by No money for state of the art
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 28, 2015 at 3:05 pm

To "Parent" in Laguna Oaks - there is no funding/budget money for "state of the art". It is fun to dream though.

If the school district is working toward being technologically sound, more money needs to be invested in the infastructure of the district wide network.

We should not be leaving it up to the PTA's and PFC's of the schools to provide the technology to the schools. There is a huge inequity between schools and technology that may or may not work with what is housed downtown.

But somehow the employees make it work - so it appears that all is well.


8 people like this
Posted by AV student
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 28, 2015 at 4:04 pm

@ Stop it. It didn't sound to me like that teacher was whining or complaining, just trying to explain to the other poster the merits of Youtube and making a joke about their old computer. Take it easy. We have good teachers and, actually, you were the one who sounded like a whiner with the phone complaints.


8 people like this
Posted by Hpms parent
a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 28, 2015 at 4:30 pm

I'll bet the millions of dollars for selling the third high school site in south pleasanton to developers and placed in the sycamore fund which was supposedly to fund state of the art technology for decades has been spent on paying legal firms. How many millions of dollars has Lozano Smith, Louis leone, Karen Samman, Kim Bogard and crew been paid? What happened to the supposed tech fund?


4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Oct 28, 2015 at 4:55 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

No money for state of the art, There is a technology fund. The intention was to use the interest generated by the fund to purchase technology for the students (this was set up many years ago and may well have generated enough funds for state of the art). Unfortunately, much of the interest and a good chunk of the principal were "borrowed" to cover other shortfalls in the budget (see #3 below). Although the borrowed funds may all have been returned by now, I wonder how much was lost while the fund was being raided.

Teacher and Parent,
"1) Poor leadership at the district level (Ahmadi and Douglas, in particular" The problems started with the superintendent prior to Ahmadi.
"2) A school board that has become fractured by a divided community" I think the community is very supportive of education, so where is the divide? I don't think you can blame the community if the board cannot work together. Their priority is (should be) what is best for the students.
"3) Economic strains that resulted from the recession and the restructuring of funding in CA, unmitigated by a parcel tax in our community" See number 1. There were many unsustainable expenditures during that administration. It is my opinion some of the actions taken were to pad the retirement of said superintendent. The restructuring of funding has been beneficial to revenue limit districts. The parcel tax needed specificity (to add counselors, assistant principals, fill in the blank); with it, it would have passed.

Generally: As to hiring practices in school districts, there is a potentially long process for reviewing the vacant position's job description for possible realignment, then the job gets posted in numerous ways depending on the position, often for many weeks, then there is review of applicants, selection of potential candidates, narrowing to one or more finalists, job offers, etc. While you can recruit all year, the typical pattern is for those looking to make a change to start after the first of the year in order to have a new position by July 1.


7 people like this
Posted by Dark Father
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Oct 28, 2015 at 6:43 pm

Kathleen,

I respect you for using your real name and for putting it out there, but you're writing revisionist history. It really started with the superintendent prior to the one you put all the blame one. I understand that you're biased, but there's no need to be deceptive. Unsustainable expenditures? Ever heard of the Sun Ray? That waste of hundreds of thousands of dollars was pushed through by one person. There were also some significant raises during that time.

Casey certainly had his issues, and they were legion, but he's not solely to blame for the situation we're in now. Other than that, I agree with everything you've said about him. Parvin, pretty much the same thing, but for different reasons. It's been a long time since we've had someone truly competent at the top.

You would have voted for the parcel tax if there had been specificity, but that doesn't mean it would have passed. You're the only one I've seen who's used that reason for voting against. Many voted against because they don't want to pay more taxes. I can sympathize with that, but I also think it's short-sighted.

HPMS parent, please, where does blind speculation get us? "I'll bet..." = I really have no idea what I'm talking about, but I'm going to say it anyway. The district's finances are public record. Instead of throwing stones, look it up.


4 people like this
Posted by Jen
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Oct 28, 2015 at 7:01 pm

I want to echo everything I just read from Dark Father and add a few additional thoughts:

Kathleen, the teacher said that the community was divided. He/She did not say the community doesn't support education. If you have not seen division in the community, you must have missed the entire Vranish debacle, TWO failed parcel tax campaigns, and the wedge issue in our most recent election: the modified calendar. Additionally, it's evident to me that Laursen and Hintzke are vastly different in their priorities and goals.

This community does support education in a lot of ways, but we have dropped the ball in a few areas compared to our neighbors. I agree with teacher's 3rd statement.


4 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 28, 2015 at 7:20 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Well said, Jen. The community is divided about the school district in many ways. One of the problems/conflicts is that more than half of Pleasanton homeowners do not have children of school age at home. This came up during the parcel tax, many residents had little concern for the schools. (This is not to say that homeowners who don't have kids at home don't support education. But they simply are not as invested in the schools as parents of school children are, making for an uphill battle when the parcel taxes were proposed.)

So though I agree that, in general, the community supports education, many in the community do not.


15 people like this
Posted by Deb
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Oct 28, 2015 at 8:11 pm

The constant speculation should stop and those of us who are invested in education in this town need to work together to improve our schools for our kids. I have students at three schools. On numerous occasions teachers have told me about how this or that problem is the fault of the central office, the superintendent, the assistant superintendent, the principal etc. I have to think that there is some truth to the thought above that indeed the feeling in this district is a negative attitude toward everything. As a parent I have seen my kids get a fairly decent (not perfect) education. A few teachers have been really terrible but that's expected in a large district. I think an attitude of how do we help instead of who do we blame could go a long way here. Some of the complaints just seem petty.


4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Oct 28, 2015 at 8:41 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

To Dark Father, Jen, and Get the Facts,
I certainly have a bias about the two prior superintendents, both who are still friends. While no one is perfect, one unified the district and got bond measures passed (later to be illegally refinanced), and the other managed to provide raises without raiding other funding sources and while maintaining a decent reserve. I certainly realize that both were unpopular for different reasons, but students did not suffer.

Both attempts at the parcel tax missed by relatively narrow margins. I think a difference in the language could have pushed it over the required two-thirds. For others I knew, it was entirely because of the hocus pocus nature of the budget, refinancing of the bonds, and robbing Peter to pay Paul. Ahmadi inherited that mess.

We also talk about the schools being a draw to a community (not just Pleasanton), because there is a direct connection to housing values. And many with grown children have grandchildren in the schools. Having children in the schools isn't the only key to a strong support of local schools.

Yes, there was a debacle with the Walnut Grove principal; there was miscommunication regarding the modified calendar and split reading start times. Certainly opinions are varied, but that doesn't make for a divided community when it comes to education of our youth.


6 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 28, 2015 at 10:55 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Kathleen, I respect your using your real name, and your deep knowledge of the district and education in general. You probably come to this forum with more knowledge about education than anyone.

But your belief that Pleasanton is not a divided community when it comes to education is, in my opinion, incorrect. For all the reasons you stated (WG principal, calendar), but others as well. For example, many liked the superintendent, many did not. But the primary indicator is the split board we have, and that a rookie candidate with very little education knowledge beat an incumbent for school board last year.

Though I believe that a very high percentage of Pleasanton residents believe strongly in our district, we still have many upset people living in the WG area, (what I believe is) a very vocal minority who opposed the calendar change, many who would never vote for a parcel tax, and I have many friends who have their kids in private schools, for whatever reasons.

We have a divided community, maybe not 50-50, but it is divided for many reasons.


21 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 29, 2015 at 8:42 am

The view from the cheap seats…
I don't think we have a divided community. I believe the Walnut Grove community is divided over their issue, but I believe Pleasanton, once provided with trustworthy leadership, is a community that values quality education.
Taxpayers and voters are not stupid. They might not have the time to trudge down to the district offices and attend Trustee Meetings, but they're not stupid. Parcel tax efforts have failed because the voters didn't trust the school district with more money, plain and simple. And why should we? They collected tens of millions of dollars in fees from Ruby Hill in the name of building the Neal School. Only after the final piece of property was sold by the developer, did they state they would not be building the school. I'll say it… They lied! And then they sued the developer! And lost… Twice! And then sued their attorneys… What the hell kind of leadership is that?
They got caught lying again in the entire calendar debacle. And the worst thing about catching somebody in lies, is that you then ask yourself, "What else have they been lying about?"
Personally I hope they take their time in finding a new superintendent. This will force the Trustees to take a more active role, and the community too. We vote in the Trustees, they provide leadership to the staff, and voters hold them accountable. When we swapped out Bowser for Miller, we got their attention!
If we were taking a snap-shot, you might see a community divided, but I think as the next months and years unfold, you'll see that we are a unified community going through a changing of the guard...


8 people like this
Posted by Informed Parent
a resident of Canyon Creek
on Oct 29, 2015 at 8:50 am

Parent and Teacher post saying "poor leadership at the district level (Ahmadi and Douglas in particular) could not be more wrong. These are two of the hardest working people I have ever seen. Pay attention to the positive changes they have initiated.


26 people like this
Posted by clueless
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2015 at 11:11 am

Ahmadi obviously was not screened. Neither was Douglas. If any community panel interviewed either of them, those people should not be chosen again. The headhunter firm that found those two should never be hired again either.

PUSD constantly says they need to build a school, but they only want money. They don't care about small class sizes and providing the children a quality education. Why do you think they didn't build Neal school? They never wanted to build it. They just wanted $13 million from Signature Properties to put in their piggy bank.

I believe most of the community believes that Vranesh was ousted with a bunch of made up lies. Also the former custodian and the custodian with a 20 year tenure recently ousted from WG was probably with a bunch of made up lies as well.

With the "hyperbole" from the teacher who claimed to have a 1982 computer issued by the District to the superintendent who held secret negotiations beforehand with the union to choose the calendar, then ran the community in circles to have a 'sham' survey for a decision already made in advance, the lying never ends.


11 people like this
Posted by Hank
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 29, 2015 at 6:38 pm

"Two of the hardest working people I have ever seen." Hard working is not synonymous with strong leadership or even competent leadership. Ahamdi was always in way over her head on community relations, HR and financial acumen(why she put up with Cazares). While professing her love of students she threw the District (and therefore best interest of students) under the bus when the spotlight started to shine brightly on her incompetence.

Douglas is a nice guy who is in the wrong job. His stumbles with the common core roll-out (and his constant delegation of questions from the board and the public to his subordinates)demonstrate his capability or lack thereof.

Some much needed and positive changes with Miller for Bowser, Hansen for Ahmadi and Howell for Faraghan. Hoping we continue to move forward and not backward with the next Superintendent and the next election. Bowser is already making his play for November and his return would be a disaster.


5 people like this
Posted by informed
a resident of Canyon Oaks
on Oct 30, 2015 at 8:32 am

"Hank", you are wrong about "his (sic) stumbles with the common core roll out .....

Other districts are following our lead on common core. But you are right about something. He IS a nice guy. And we are very, very lucky to have him in Pleasanton.


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

Couples: “True love is a decision between the head and the heart . . .
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 1,141 views

Some election thoughts
By Tim Hunt | 3 comments | 610 views

 

Nominations due by Sept. 17

Pleasanton Weekly and DanvilleSanRamon.com are once again putting out a call for nominations and sponsorships for the annual Tri-Valley Heroes awards - our salute to the community members dedicated to bettering the Tri-Valley and the lives of its residents.

Nomination form