Parents and guardians gathered into a Walnut Grove Elementary auditorium last week to hear about the school's future following an announcement earlier in the week that the school has another new principal.
About 40 people came to meet Chris Connor, the school's interim principal and previously a PUSD vice principal, and to ask district leaders about why the school has had three principals in about as many years.
Walnut Grove's former principal Jan Steed left the school this week after she was promoted to assistant director of adult and career education, a new position that was created since the district's adult education classes will come back this year after they were cut in 2012 due to funding issues. Steed had been principal at Walnut Grove since May 2014.
Some parents appeared cautiously excited about Connor, who told the crowd he had spent his first few days visiting every classroom and trying to learn each of his students' names.
Interim superintendent Jim Hansen said he hopes Connor's interim title will be temporary and that he will be the school's new principal.
Connor, who has been an educator for 11 years in the U.S. and Scotland, previously worked as a vice principal at Mohr and Fairlands. He told the group of parents that hopes to stay as the school's leader and has no ambitions of moving up to the district level.
"No offense, but that is not me," he said. "I'm committed to Walnut Grove with my heart and soul."
At the same time, some parents said they were uneasy about the leadership turnover at the school.
"As a parent, I want concrete direction," said Jen Fried, a Walnut Grove parent with a child in third grade.
Fried echoed several parents' concerns, stating the district as a whole has a perception of high principal turnover during the past few years.
At the start of the 2015-16 year, four new principals and one interim principal started at Pleasanton schools. In November, Pleasanton Middle's principal Aileen Parsons was promoted to a district-level job, and Harvest Park's interim principal Jill Butler was chosen as her replacement. Harvest Park now has two temporary principals.
Part of the turnover is the domino effect of promotions of principals to district-level jobs after some district leaders left to pursue other opportunities this summer.
Walnut Grove's turnover is unique in that it has endured instability due to controversy. The principal before Steen, Jon Vranesh, was removed by the district from the school in 2013 after accusations of improper conduct -- which led to a drawn-out administrative hearing that was resolved in the district's favor in August.
Hansen acknowledged parents' concerns about longevity about schools, saying it's his hope the newly selected principals will be longterm leaders.
He pointed to Donlon Elementary -- a school that has had about five principals in five years -- and its new principal, Sebastian Bull. Bull has children in the district, his wife is a Pleasanton public school teacher and he's stated he's committed to the school.
"(Donlon) is like Walnut Grove. They've been through a lot of principals," Hansen said. "He's there for the long haul."
"We want someone who's going to be here for the long-run," Hansen said. "So we're going to test-drive Mr. Connor."
One parent said her third-grade son had been coming home every day talking about the new principal's Scottish accent and how Connor has promised to bring in a rugby ball so he can teach the kids how to play the sport.
Connor asked the parent whether a specific child was her son. He was right.
"I can't even believe you knew my child's name," the parent said.
Connor will hold "Coffee with the Principal" meetings next Wednesday at 9:15 a.m. and 7 p.m. at Walnut Grove's campus on Harvest Road for parents, guardians and others to meet him and ask him questions.