News


Editorial: From troubled to trainwreck for Pleasanton school district

 

The Pleasanton school board had an opportunity to build back the trust of the public and prove to voters they made a good choice retaining two incumbents in the recent election.

Instead, the way trustees handled a "personnel matter" involving Rick Rubino, the superintendent of less than six months, and the subsequent termination of his employment without explanation beyond his not being "a good fit" has further deteriorated the trust of the public.

Three weeks ago, Rubino was placed on paid administrative leave while an unspecified "personnel matter" was investigated. For reasons unknown, the investigation came to an abrupt end and, during a Friday night closed-session meeting, Rubino was fired "without cause."

A Pleasanton Weekly profile on the then-new superintendent on Aug. 12, 2016 led with this declaration: "Pleasanton Unified School District officials believe they have found their superintendent for the long haul in Rick Rubino."

This belief, or rather hope, might have stemmed from district stakeholders -- students, parents, teachers, taxpayers -- being fed up with the way the district had been managed for the previous five years. Or mismanaged, as the case may be.

In August 2014, we published a story, "Troubled Schools," that outlined concerns with an exorbitant amount of major changes in site administrative staffing -- specifically principals and assistant principals -- between 2011 and 2014, as well as a series of nasty allegations by and against teachers and administrators during the superintendent tenure of Parvin Ahmadi.

It's difficult to believe, but the instability and uncertainty has become considerably worse within the past 18 months or so. There have been new principals at eight of the district's 15 schools, including three at Harvest Park Middle School alone. And now that Rubino has been fired, the district is on its fourth leader since June 2015.

Another troubling aspect of this is the district's lack of transparency.

Rubino was placed on paid leave pending the completion of an investigation. Instead of completing the investigation, it appears the board, basically, paid Rubino to go away -- a full year's salary plus some -- stating he "wasn't a good fit." Obviously there was some incident or a complaint was filed against Rubino, but we don't know who or what was involved. This is an important piece of information for the public to know about the person who was running the school district.

Why was Rubino fired? Why did the board decide to spend tens of thousands of dollars to recruit someone who ultimately "wasn't a good fit" and then agree to pay him hundreds of thousands of dollars to go away?

We have filed requests for records. This is our school district, our children and our tax dollars. We deserve answers.

Pleasanton Weekly editorial board.

Comments

46 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jan 13, 2017 at 12:43 pm

Amen! Someone should print this, attach it to a petition, and hold a recall vote on the entire Board. Then, the new Board should make its mission to root out entrenched administrators and bring PUSD into the current generation. This generation has had its time. Lets move on. The amount of money wasted is on this one Superintendent mistake is equivalent to approximately half of all of the money raised in the most recent PPIE fundraising cycle. I know that PPIE money is dedicated to enhancing education, but the PPIE funds have no impact when they are merely back-filling the budget hole created by tax dollars spent on failed administrators and bureaucracy. Its really disheartening.


37 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 13, 2017 at 2:03 pm

The question needs to be asked: Exactly why is there a revolving door for administrators in the district? A lack of communication top down? A lack of respect for the administrators in our district both at site level and at the community level? An overwhelming lack of support for those administrators given the rapidly changing laws, curricula and core standards they are charged with implementing on a site level? Are some district-level administrators out of touch and old school? Are the parents in this district so overwhelmingly demanding and unforgiving that burnout is a major issue? Think about it. Something pervasive is damaging our stellar school district's reputation. Why?


31 people like this
Posted by Titanic=PUSD
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2017 at 3:04 pm

The problem is that the Board should be hiring superintendents, principals and curriculum people from the top STEM high schools in the nation and top high schools such as the Thomas Jefferson high school located near Fairfax Virginia (ranked in top 5) which is part of Fairfax County Public Schools.

Instead they hire newbies with tentative administrative credentials that are barely finalized or people out of districts with much lower standards that Pleasanton.
It started with the departure of Jim Negri, the previous Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum. The principals reported to him and Negri was extremely well educated and hired principals with proven track records that were respected in the community. He was not threatened by hiring principals who had decades of experience.

Previous administrations strived for excellence it its students. Now the administration does not want to hire experienced people because if they did, they would be far more experienced than people currently there.

Odie Douglas, hired from Lodi, is a disaster. The principals report to him. Curriculum reports to him. Instead of getting top-ranked curriculum people from the top-ranked STEM high schools in the nation, Douglas and the Board chooses the previous HPMS principal with no STEM background, who did not work out at HPMS after Hansen left.

Also, no male administrator or principal or assistant principal would apply because with the SEED program in place, this has created a complete atmosphere where "white males" are seen as the perpetrator of all evil in the world. Females are seen as needing to exert their power over the evil males. Since Trump defeated Hillary Clinton the push has been to replace all males in leadership positions with females. Go to any of the SEED workshops to see what is happening.

Any male administrator or principal or assistant principal (or even teacher) risks being accused of sexual harassment or some sort of inappropriate physical contact charge with the current Board. The entire PUSD situation is sort of like the Duke Lacrosse team that was accused of sexual assault (unfounded accusations). Meanwhile the Board members such as Laursen tweet things like Love Love Love from her Twitter account. Very strange place, PUSD.

The Board is over their head. They should all resign. Do us all a favor.


16 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 13, 2017 at 4:24 pm

They should all resign immediately and at the very least Atkin and Lauren should resign at once.


6 people like this
Posted by factless
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2017 at 5:34 pm

@ Titanic=PUSD. You don't know what you are talking about.
"Any male administrator or principal or assistant principal (or even teacher) risks being accused of sexual harassment or some sort of inappropriate physical contact charge with the current Board. The entire PUSD situation is sort of like the Duke Lacrosse team that was accused of sexual assault (unfounded accusations)."


35 people like this
Posted by Hilo Hattie
a resident of Pheasant Ridge
on Jan 13, 2017 at 6:11 pm

Having been inside the district for a couple of decades, I can confirm a lot of what Titanic=PUSD is saying. Many upper-level district hires seem to have been hired with a "diversity means quality" mind set. While diversity is important and necessary, our district has overlooked many candidates' past employment problems and insufficient skills in order to create the public appearance of being diverse.

I agree with Titanic that Odie is a disaster and that the SEED program seems to promote an almost fanatical hostility towards white males. These are the problem areas infecting the District Office, and with Odie receiving a two year extension on his contract, there's little hope that these problems are going away any time soon.


31 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Jan 13, 2017 at 7:34 pm

Would really like to know why Rick Rubino was fired so that we can determine how much responsibility the Pleasanton school board bears for this debacle. Was Rubino's firing due to something that was completely unforeseeable by anyone? Or did the Pleasanton school board simply not give this person a thorough background vetting which would have revealed some potential problems before hiring him?


22 people like this
Posted by JT
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 13, 2017 at 8:34 pm

Jeb,

Touting your one article on "troubled schools" while you supported board members who let Ahmadi do as she pleased? Where was your concern on transparency and administrator turnover three years ago when the ugliness at WG brought all that is wrong with PUSD to the surface? Glass houses.


14 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 13, 2017 at 8:55 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Some inherent problems when vetting a finalist: if people in the former district loved him/her, they will sing his/her praises and congratulate the success; if they hate him/her, they will sing his/her praises to get 'em out the door. A thorough vetting should include meetings with parents and staff at the current district or some other way for people to speak freely prior to hiring. I do not see an agenda where the board visited Rubino's district. However, if only two board members went, they were not required to post it. Hopefully, the Weekly staff will ask that question.


18 people like this
Posted by Ptown Mom
a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on Jan 13, 2017 at 10:31 pm

I am shocked by the things that Titanic and Hilo are suggesting. As a PTA member I have participated in SEED and it is nothing like you say. The people involved in SEED, most are white women from what I have seen, are working to create a school community that is equitable toward all students and, I guess, employees. The conversations are difficult but there is nothing anti-white male. It is obvious these individuals care about all of the students and just want to address some topics that are pretty hard. I think they are brave and our children are getting a better experience for it. I can't speak to the Trump thing but I highly doubt that is happening. Most educators are not conservative so I would not expect many teachers to be supportive of him no matter what.


28 people like this
Posted by Train Wreck is right
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2017 at 11:21 pm

I suspect Rubino's many references from his places he worked were and are exemplary, including the many districts he worked for as well as the women and men and parents and children of color he works with in his role for eleven years at the series of Fortune charter schools run by a female president. In fact I suspect that his references and comments from colleagues are about as exemplary as Jon Vranesh's were.

Hopefully the Pleasanton Weekly has requested the full set of references from the District and all HR supporting material concerning Rubino's supposed problems of "good fit" and "collegiality." They could not have been major issues otherwise he would have been terminated with cause.

Unfortunately, I suspect that again a male in a leadership position over the age of 40 has been railroaded out of the place just like Jon Vranesh. Now instead of Parvin Ahmadi issuing press comments referring to hostile work environment we have Joan Laursen making comments that could be construed as nearly identical to Vranesh's case. Even looking at the two pictures of Vranesh and Rubino on the internet, they even resemble each other in a way.

I also just googled Joan Laursen and find in quite amazing that she works for Parvin Ahmadi in Castro Valley and was hired as an Accounts Payable Technicial, with a recent promotion to Budget Analyst.

I think the Board should submit their resignations and that the City Council should temporarily take over until there is a new elecion to find a new School Board.


12 people like this
Posted by Joe H
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 14, 2017 at 12:21 am

I can only hope those that post on this site are the minority...(more on this at the bottom) the ability to post, without stating your name and location make these comments comical...Trolling..I believe it is called (except local news doesn't call it that).

I'm guessing The Board that was just re-affirmed or elected in November made an incredibly difficult decision to disengage from the issues of the past supertendient, and reset.

My opinion is, the administrators, teachers, students and staff that made PUSD what it "iwas" recognized for are long gone...retired or priced out a decade ago. Those that want a "fantastic school district" aren't willing to put In the work (yes volunteering) they paid for. This "work", parents did in the last generation without a second thought. The work that was done before social media, when the only way to get something done was to march down and speak to someone.

Ironically those that make up this district can afford to live here because technology (perhaps even social media companies) allows for words without action...Social media like all technology has made complaining easy. This generation bought out the past generation...But when the prior owners left the soul of the district left too...what many thought they were paying for.

Pricing out the families that made PUSD great in the 70's-90's has a side-effect. Those that moved here don't recognize the hard work that makes a district great (all districts). Time, volunteering, and being involved are attributes that made Pleasanton great. Unfortunately the ideas that created these property values are the same philosophies that fail the district.

Posting complaints online isn't reading to the kids, Working long hours to provide for the family fails the teacher, who, 20 years ago had 5 parents a day volunteering. And the harassment claims....without being there, Im guessing the lack of parent volunteering in the classroom has allowed for the he-said-she-said problems. If there were 4 parents volunteering I'm guessing...with all the potential witnesses, either the claim would never be made (if false) or the aggressor would never have an opportunity. I know all these corporations have "volunteer days". Let's start there.


31 people like this
Posted by Priced Out?
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 14, 2017 at 6:13 am

Joe, are you implying that teachers cannot afford to live in Pleasanton? Visit Transparent California website and look up any teachers salary. Even though PUSD current data is missing you can see other years, prior to latest pay raises. The average full time teacher in Pleasanton earns just under $100,000. A two teacher family would earn far more than the $123,000 average for a household in Pleasanton. Plus summers off, plus union protection of life long employment, plus never having to worry about being terminated for poor performance.

Please, don't ask us to cry tears for the poor, poor teachers. They are not civil servants, they are highly compensated employees who get nearly four months paid vacation.

We have many great teachers who deserve $200,000 a year. Unfortunately our unions don't allow pay for performance, so the great teachers and the horrible teachers earn the same. It's a broken system that is hurting our kids!



1 person likes this
Posted by Factless
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2017 at 7:01 am

@joe h: a teacher/swim coach who was placed on leave in 2013, had MANY volunteers. Her case was swept under the rug. How many other inappropriate conduct cases are swept under the rug?


13 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 14, 2017 at 7:36 am

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

In general I agree with Joe.

The belief that parents need to be involved in the classroom (volunteers) and that investing (donations) in our schools has been diluted with shifts in demographics over time.

Top schools have attracted people that value education, but not necessarily what is required to sustain and grow that education.

It's definitely prevalent in my kids classrooms and until we are ready to publish it and have difficult discussions around it, it will continue


9 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton parent
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jan 14, 2017 at 8:43 am

Pleasanton has changed a lot since we moved here in 1994. My kids had great experiences in the schools and some that were not great. School has always been like that. A large part of what makes ir grear here is the community. I agree with the post above and hope that all this negativity is a small group of people. There are many great teachers and administrators who are good at what they do. Tearing down the PUSD online does nothing but make things worse. Run for school board or go to a meeting or make an appointment to meet and talk to the people that you attack on this forum. What you are doing is not fair. They are public employees but that does not mean you have the right to post horrible things about them online.


10 people like this
Posted by Quality District
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2017 at 9:09 am

SEED and other initiatives to educate persons on equity, are not to blame for the lack of male (or anyone) from becoming an adminstrator in PUSD, or anywhere.

In California alone, our K-12 educators are 80% White females. Of the 20% who are male, 83% are in high schools. Start working out the math and you will realize in education alone, the percentages of male adminstrators decreases signifcantly.

Pleasanton is, and will continue to be, a highly sought after school diatrict, with highly qualified personnel. One man's mistakes do NOT reflect thousands of people's efforts.


6 people like this
Posted by tim
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jan 14, 2017 at 9:25 am

hillary is available


5 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 14, 2017 at 11:35 am

It's obvious that because of our growing Asian population and their laser focus on education our schools will continue to flourish in spite of our board, administration and some teachers. Just think how high our scores would be with an intelligent board, administration, and better teachers. As our population shifts to 70%+ Asian our scores will skyrocket.


8 people like this
Posted by Bison
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 14, 2017 at 11:38 am

The continuing leadership meltdown in the admin office and at school sites is alienating our community. And with the SEED men-are-the-devil training classes, we are going to need to accept that only a woman will be able to hold onto the Superintendent's position with any degree of safety. No sane man should now apply for work in PUSD because they will have their careers trashed before they get through their first year on the job. And we will get steadily fewer experienced people interested in taking the risk of working here because dedicated staff are getting demoted or run out of the district thanks to the union's resistance to job performance, misconduct innuendos, and fake news. Please, someone send us a Betsy DeVos and some Trump associates to clean out the Board and drain the swamp.


10 people like this
Posted by Joe H.
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 14, 2017 at 12:46 pm

@Priced Out...I agree with your data and figures. I also agree that a two teacher family could live in Pleasanton. My post above was an attempt for those courageous enough to self-reflect. The school district and test scores from the past two decades made Pleasanton a destination for wealthy educated families. Pleasanton's location solidified it a place to call home. The test scores are going to remain fine, the affluence of the city, ='s a high value on education within the home.

Humor me for a second, what if we were to compare "test scores" of the parents/community between today and decades past. Are today's parents comfortable letting teachers do the job they were educated for? Are the parents of today as involved with guidance as they were in the past. Is the current parent/district relationship as healthy as it was in the past? Are todays parents working for solutions and improvements? Imagine these as test scores.

Affluence often leads to entitlement. Is there more entitlement today then there was in the past? Is there more personal criticism and attacks (from the shadows) on admin and teachers then there were in the past?
We should all imagine a job where our every word and step was judged and critiqued? That doesn't happen in a public forum down at Oracle, Google or FB. Every minor error is no longer a learning experience, it is a call for your job. The community, or many that post here, are blaming the PUSD yet it is the community that IS the PUSD?

My original post was challenging today's parents to be involved and proactive in a positive constructive fashion. My original post was to shed light on what makes a great district and my opinion reflects that those people are gone. I'm guessing the teacher quality is more or less the same, it is the discourse that has changed. The desire to work toward solutions has changed.


19 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

What a remarkable hit piece the PW has done on the PUSD. This was even worse that the 2014 article, sent out right at the beginning of the school year. Thanks for fueling the fire that the district is ill.

So much to go over here. First off, the board will not resign. Those that think the board should resign, not gonna happen. You should have voted for Kathleen R., she only missed beating an incumbent by 52 (I believe was the number) votes.

Speaking of Kathleen, one of the few people here who post under their own name (including myself), she is absolutely right about the reference process, check out the eighth post on this thread.

As much as we all would like to know what happened to Rubino, much of the private aspects of this are set by law, we may never learn what happened.

The administrators who have left are gone mostly for good reasons: numerous retired (Hanson, Whitney, for example), some got promoted here or elsewhere (Rocha here, Bolar elsewhere), and some simply moved out of town. There is no conspiracy by the district or union. But say this for site administration: it is hard. I cannot blame anyone for looking for greener pastures by retirement or promotion. Also, many - if not most - of the teachers who become site administrators are high achievers, and either they are looking for district level jobs even before they become a site administrator, or often a job that is just perfect for them or their interests comes along, and they move on. But again, being a site administrator is very difficult, very stressful.

"The belief that parents need to be involved in the classroom (volunteers) and that investing (donations) in our schools has been diluted with shifts in demographics over time."
This is VERY true. Not sure how it relates to this thread, however.

"Pleasanton is, and will continue to be, a highly sought after school diatrict, with highly qualified personnel. One man's mistakes do NOT reflect thousands of people's efforts."
Also very true.

People, our district is NOT broken. We have good teachers and smart leaders. You do not have to agree with everything that happens in a district, but look to your own kids: are they having a good year? Have they had all good, or mostly good, teachers over the years? I know there are bad fits and unfortunate circumstances from time to time, but I bet almost everyone here can say that their kids' education here is Pleasanton has been great. The loss of the superintendent will NOT affect the students. The loss of a principal might have a bit of an effect for some students, especially the discipline problems who see the principal more regularly, but most of the time a change in principal has almost no effect on the students, especially if it happens in the summertime.

I would like to ask the PW to stop with the glass-half-empty, stirring-the-pot kind of journalism and editorials like this one. PUSD has had an unfortunate situation with Walnut Grove and the recently departed superintendent, but THINGS happen, and you move on. The board does not need to apologize or resign.


24 people like this
Posted by Editorial is 100% correct
a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Jan 14, 2017 at 2:33 pm

Problems are not the parents or volunteers. Schools kicked us out long ago.

My neighbor moved out to Greensboro NC during the Ahmadi reign and says the schools are better in Guilford County NC than Pleasanton. The top ranked Early College at Guilford is one of the best in the nation.

The trigger was a 1st grader that drew floating balloons with strings on a birthday cake picture. The union teacher then turned the picture upside down and accused the student of drawing nooses and threatened the parents to go to the police to report what they termed a hate crime.

The PUSD is caught in some sort of time warp. Even on Tuesday, the District is proposing course outlines mandating continued sewing classes for 6th graders. See the agenda with the course outlines!!! What insane out of touch school administrators (Odie Douglas and Ken Rocha - read the agenda) would recommend sewing as a required 21st century skill? I guess PUSD does a great job preparing seamstresses and garment industry workers for the booming local textile industry, doesn't it (sarcasm)?

I can see why Rubino in an effort to modernize the curriculum ran into buzz saws with the district staff that seems to have ideas on curriculum based on the 1940s.

The PUSD website with slogans of "Committed to Love" should read "Committed to Education!" Instead it sounds like some Haight-Ashbury free love rally sign.

Parvin Ahmadi made the community uncomfortable with all of her touching and hugging of parents and teachers. Why is Joan Laursen putting her arm around the new Deputy Superintendent also in the tweeted photos from the CSBA conference? There needs to be a Board committed to education, not "love" and we need to move into the 21st century.

Hope the Board resigns.


12 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 14, 2017 at 3:14 pm

I had hoped the Board by picking Charter School advocate Rick Rubino would bring the schools up to date and figure out a way to get the non-teaching union protected teachers out of the district.

I Googled the CSBA picture. How many conferences are these Board members attending at taxpayer expense? And why did two of the Board members (J. Hinkske, V. Arkin) with someone named Kroetch and a law firm just give a seminar to the state at the CSBA conference on how to hire a superintendent?

Juanita Haugen told me that John Casey, the one school chief prior to the Parvin Ahmadi disaster, wanted to open up PUSD into a number of Charter Schools. Keith Larick or Keith Larrick (not sure of the spelling), former superintendent of Tracy Unified School District who started multiple Charter Schools was brought in as a consultant while Juanita Haugen, Kris Weaver, Cindy McGovern and others (can't remember who) to run the future Strategic Plan for Pleasanton Unified. It was called Discovery Charter or Tracy Learning Center (can't remember what).

I was hoping that Rubino would bring this sort of forward thinking action to the Pleasanton Unified School District. I do not think that the entrenched staff or Board can think outside the box.

Why else does one of the Board members (one has a huge picture of a tornado on their Facebook page talking about Trump's pick for the Department of Education slot) have a huge tornado talking about the new Dept of Education chief, a proponent of Charter Schools, destroying public education.

Charter Schools are public education. Doesn't the Board know that?

I hope Rubino is re-hired and the Board resigns this week.


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 14, 2017 at 3:36 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

GtF, thanks for your post; it’s on target.

I am not unhappy that the PW is digging into the district office. There is a need for light on the governance team, particularly because five of them are elected, and the cabinet is making the recommendations for decisions that drive what happens in our schools. And there *is* a lack of sufficient communication and transparency.

My concern in this case is why the investigation was stopped, a decision that will cost this community—and most definitely schools—$300,000 (estimated). And while the PW is not going to get much information, the board can say more about why this happened. And eventually, the rumor mill will burp out something that will be close enough to the truth for some conclusions to be drawn. I already heard one story that is feasible, but not necessarily enough to dismiss someone.

PW refers to “the previous five years.” I believe we have disagreed on this in the past, but it’s the 11 or 12 years prior to Jim Hansen that destroyed public trust, well, at least my trust. The PW also points to the “last 18 months.” I think you responded to that correctly.

The same excellence we expect of our children must be modeled with the decisions being made in the board room. Board reports are not presenting all the information needed for those decisions. PowerPoints are supplanting actual in-depth narratives. There’s been a bit of a “trust us” attitude of staff and not enough probing questions by board members. The weekly memos (non-confidential) to the board should be posted online. It is another tool for the community and staff to understand current work and planning long before the board drops a gavel.

parent, charter schools drain funds and facilities from the “host.” I would rather see magnet schools than charter schools. Rubino will not be rehired.


Like this comment
Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jan 14, 2017 at 4:47 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.

Shorter Joe H from above - The reason why the superintendent was fired was because of parent participation and social media.

Yes Joe, lets blame the parents and social media. /sarc

Honestly, you lost me when you couldn't define a internet "troll" coupled with not putting in your full name.
For your edification, Joe H: Web Link

Dan


29 people like this
Posted by Pleasantonian
a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 14, 2017 at 5:50 pm

Joe H. - The reason test scores are high is not because of Pleasanton teachers or affluence but because most parents have to send their kids to one or multiple tutoring centers now located in shopping centers all around Pleasanton. There used to be 2 fifteen years ago. There was Longshore Tutoring and Sylvan. Then now Union president Janice Clark started her own tutoring center called STEPS Prep Academy. Now there are around 35 to 40 along with hundreds of private tutors in Pleasanton. These aren't students getting extra enrichment help. The tutoring centers and tutors are teaching basic skills.

The second reason test scores are high is despite the failure of Pleasanton schools to actually teach children, many parents have to spend hours each week essentially home schooling their children.

Without the armies of tutors and dozens of tutoring centers doing a brisk business, scores would plummet.

We need to have new leadership in place so that teachers actually teach was is required and are dismissed if they don't. Period.


7 people like this
Posted by Winston
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2017 at 6:54 pm

Pleasantonian is totally correct, and it's a total disgrace. There are definitely some great teachers in PUSD but the union seems to shun them. Let mediocrity rule. Parents know this and so do the students. The reason for stellar grades from PUSD students is the after school academies, online lessons, and parents and students working their butts off to cover up for nothing much happening in many of the classrooms. Can we expect any help from the Board? Not a chance while they take their orders from the Democratic party central committee. This is why we urgently need Republicans in Pleasanton to stand up and run candidates for school board in 2018 and 2020 to boot out dithering ineffective board members. As others have said, there's a swamp in PUSD and it obviously now needs a Republican pump to drain it.


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Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2017 at 8:21 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Test scores and student achievement are not high because of tutoring centers, though that can help. They are high because of demographics. I do not mean nationalities, so this post has nothing to do with race. What I mean is more of a socioeconomics and parental achievement demographic. People move to Pleasanton, in large part, because they want their kids to do well. To move to Pleasanton, you must have money, because we all know it ain't cheap to live here. People who have enough money to live here, generally speaking, are high achievers themselves. It's in the bloodlines, so to speak. That doesn't mean tutoring centers don't help, but that's only one part of it. I know many high achieving kids and I don't know of even one that goes to a center. Heck, they're too busy playing sports.

Please do not believe the charter school lie. If you do, please watch this informative, and entertaining clip: Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 14, 2017 at 8:54 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Gotta love John Oliver.


14 people like this
Posted by Parent/Tutor
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 14, 2017 at 9:28 pm

I spend 10 hours a week tutoring my own children. I also have to send them to a tutoring center 3 times a week because I work for a living, but luckily I can drive them in the afternoon and pick them up. The waiting rooms and parking lots are so packed there is no room to sit and sometimes no room to park.

I also know people who are employed by the district and for the last few years the language they use is one of perpetual victimhood against so called 'entitled' parents and members of the male gender. Have you heard of the term "microaggression"? They use this word a lot. I do not know whether this word is from SEED, but the word microaggression is used over and over again.

The district has been in decline for years. There are good teachers, but they are few and far between. I refuse to give up on my kids, but I gave up on the actual district a long time ago. Reform is needed badly.


2 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Jan 14, 2017 at 10:30 pm

@"Editorial is 100% Correct" :"My neighbor moved out to Greensboro NC during the Ahmadi reign and says the schools are better in Guilford County NC than Pleasanton."

Uhhh, no. Not even close. The overall GreatSchools rating for the Guildford County School District is 6 out of 10.


Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2017 at 11:45 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

"I also have to send them to a tutoring center 3 times a week..."
No, you don't, you don't "have" to send them to a tutoring center. Your kids do not have to have straight "A"s, or even have very good grades. You have the choice to let them have less than great grades, to let them just be who they are.

"There are good teachers, but they are few and far between."
Wow, that is such a slap in the face. And, false. If the teachers are that bad, then move to whatever shangri-la is the panacea you need.


23 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2017 at 6:54 am

"Ochoa, who is now deputy superintendent of the Pleasanton Unified School District, did not respond by press time to requests for comment. She is seeking to regain her job with the county office of education and unspecified monetary damages.

As chief business officer, Ochoa was enmeshed in several controversies at the office of education. In 2013 during the administration of then-Superintendent Xavier De La Torre, she carried out the downsizing of the payroll department, resulting in the office issuing hundreds of error-filled paychecks. The legal and accounting costs of untangling the mess have exceeded $1 million.

Ochoa also oversaw the office of education’s response to the Internal Revenue Service after submitting late payroll taxes, which triggered millions of dollars in penalties. Although her own office was responsible for the mistakes, she initially blamed the Santa Clara County Treasurer for the errors and also inaccurately claimed the late payment was a one-time error.

In 2014, when this newspaper submitted a Public Records Act request for Ochoa’s calendar — when she was out of the office as much as twice a week while working toward a graduate degree — she and legal adviser Maribel Medina refused to produce the document, arguing that releasing the calendar would undermine the office’s ability to perform its functions.

Last year, Gundry terminated both Ochoa and Medina without cause, effective Aug. 1, but placed them on leave July 2. The county office bought out the remainder of their contracts. Both of them filed claims, which were turned down, against the office of education."

By Sharon Noguchi | snoguchi@bayareanewsgroup.com |
PUBLISHED: June 22, 2016 at 11:32 am | UPDATED: August 11, 2016 at 10:58 pm


Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 15, 2017 at 8:00 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Concerned, Ms. Ochoa has been a breath of fresh air at the district office, is more than competent, and, having worked with her to get information, is very cooperative. What is your purpose in posting the article other than to sow seeds of doubt without any relationship to her time in our district?

GtF, I understand your frustration in having your profession under constant scruitiny, but i think your response is not typical for you. Of course parents want the best for their children, including a complete education that occurs in our schools. To blame the parents (you don't have to) and the child (let them be who they are) ignores the role of teachers. Their education in K-12 schools opens the doors for college and the rest of their lives. From PUSD's strategic plan, "Curriculum: All students, regardless of race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, or gender will be proficient/advanced and college/career ready upon graduation." An ambitious goal, but if the education isn't delivered in the classroom, do parents just acquiesce?

Suggesting that teachers are not to be held accountable (just move to whatever shangri-la) is union rhetoric. Of course there are great teachers, and best teachers, and better teachers, and a few or more clunkers who are impossible to move on to another career. Don't let posters get your goat. While we don't always agree, I find your posts are better reasoned than most.


3 people like this
Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jan 15, 2017 at 9:08 am

DKHSK is a registered user.

Kathleen,

"What is your purpose in posting the article..."

Really?

The article is very insightful for showing past performance. As someone who hires and fires, I can tell you unequivocally that if I'm aware of someones past - bad - performance then that person WILL NOT be hired.

Why is it that the citizen taxpayers be accepting of poor performers in Government?

Times are changing.


5 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 15, 2017 at 9:36 am

Jack is a registered user.

I say the glass is half full...
With the track record of PUSD the past five years, and the way Casey and Ahmadi had turned the Board into a rubber stamping advisory committee, I believe it took courage and showed leadership to fire Rubino and move on...
Our teachers are excellent and our schools seem to be doing their jobs, preparing kids to move to the next level. Our campuses could use some love...


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Posted by SHale
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 15, 2017 at 9:43 am

SHale is a registered user.

... People move to Pleasanton, in large part, because they want their kids to do well....

Really? That must represent the past and not currently. Before we moved here we looked at Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon and Danville (yikes!). Not a whole lot of new housing available in Pleasanton and although the schools mostly rank pretty nicely, they are (mostly) overcrowded with no plan in place for new school construction, mostly because no developer dollars available to pay for new schools. Dublin, well that was a short search due to their schools. That left San Ramon and Danville (same school district) SR Dougherty Valley tons of new developments is a 'master' (gag) planned area. SRVUSD schools rank higher and are mostly not over crowed, but at capacity. We also had a new superintendent nearly at the same time as PUSD. Ours is the still here and by all accounts performing well. Makes you wonder how 2 districts separated by a few miles could be so different?
And the crack about students tests being higher due to tutoring services? Really? the first step in good grades IS the student. Tied for second is the teacher(s) and parent(s). Perhaps in the mix are those that get after school tutoring for this or that reason.
too bad school unions mostly block charter schools. If one were to open nearly guaranteed waiting list immediately.


2 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Jan 15, 2017 at 10:14 am

@SHale :"Not a whole lot of new housing available in Pleasanton and although the schools mostly rank pretty nicely, they are (mostly) overcrowded..."

That's news to me. Never heard of school overcrowding being a general problem being a problem within PUSD.


4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 15, 2017 at 10:37 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

DKSHK, Yes, really. Have you done anything other than read this one article? Have you met or talked to Ms. Ochoa? If you are so HR savvy, save the judgement until you go in and talk to her personally. The court case is pending.

Sam, The schools are overcrowded--over 100 portables on school sites trying to accommodate--elementary schools well over 700; high schools at 2,600; students unable to get the course they want. None of the sites were built for those numbers.

We did, however, SHale, pass a bond that includes one new elementary. And the current city plans to build on every space they can find or make available will pour developer fees into the district.


4 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 15, 2017 at 11:37 am

Kathleen,

Nothing wrong with portables. I went to Hopkins in Fremont mostly portables and then to Mission SAN Jose and again mostly portables. Graduated with highest honors and then on the Stanford.


5 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 15, 2017 at 12:06 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Well, a sincere good for you--truly. Many people make it through greater adversity and succeed. We can, however, and should do better.


1 person likes this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 15, 2017 at 12:13 pm

Kathleen,

My point is that being taught in a portable is not a hardship nor something which needs to be overcome. It's just a room. I do believe we will see significant increases in Charter schools as a potential countermeasure. This will be the direction of the new education secretary.


1 person likes this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 15, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

You realize you aren't making sense. Charter schools are given facilities by the district--what do you propose, more portables? Portables are separate, leased, and less than ideal for all inside them. Do you see any administrators in portables?


6 people like this
Posted by Raven57
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jan 15, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Raven57 is a registered user.

Great Sunday to all!
First to Kathleen, monster thank you all around for all your years of caring so deeply for the kids in PTown.
Sorry the Pvoters didn't turn out as usual, to have a stellar individual on the board. Experience counts for nothing sorry to say.
You all know that the PUSD SB is the final say in hiring the superintendent? So if the blame game is how you all are going to roll, then why was the vote to keep the love guru, Laursen, it's all about me, Hinske.

Rubino, if he wanted PTO to rally for school repair or replace, he was out of his mind! Charter of the parent organizations is to find children's needs at the school levels. Maybe he wasn't a "good fit" if this was his agenda!

Or has the PTOs sold their souls to this school district to be a political rah rah group?!


If you don't learn from history, then you repeat the same mistakes.

This "controversy" isn't anything new BTW. As parent in the district for 20+years, we had our share of supers that had their own agendas.
Before Mr. Casey, we had a super, Mary Frances Callen, al she wanted to do was impress her friends, pad her resume, and move to Palo Alto. We DID let the door hit her on the way out!

John Casey, with only 6 years under his belt, he managed to contract a great salary 2002, and the board bought him a house.
The Ruby Hills Gang, ringleader Julie Testa continually pushed their own agenda for 326 kids at the time, frustrated he became a "hands off" manager, this opened the door to principals at the highs schools to run amok. Foothill principal, having sex with teacher in Foothills locker room. He never got fired. Moved downtown to help the troubled continuation school kids. Amador, stocking piling SSC funds and trying to use it without authorization from SD. Reports of drug use, theft in locker rooms, apparent try of sexual assault on campus.
Allowing teachers to bully students through emails. Inappropriate dress of teachers, flip flops and short skirts.

Mr. Casey's response always "it's a site issue".
Good riddance to him.

Point is, this is nothing new. Bad management, hands off management, will destroy the soul of school district.
It's not rocket science to run a productive and healthy school community with a population 14,786.


Parent volunteers- parents were out, along with fruitful fundraising 10+ years ago. All we ever heard was the constant whining from teachers about "their precious time" being wasted with silly school site fundraisers. Refusals to even attend functions became the norm.
Give them your check, and move on. Really sad.
Trying to push out experienced principals like Barbara Heisser.
The teachers union in Ptown once very active and devoted to parents, became "it's all me". Sad. Good bad or indifferent teachers can be removed. Be ready for the good fight though.

Are your children worth the fight? You don't get a do over in their educational, emotional, needs especially at the elementary levels.

Yes, it's still America, 1st admendments rights, don't hide behind technology, physically stand up and be counted.
Go to the SB meeting, in 5 min you could be your kids hero.

Kathleen, I challenge you to organize a SB Town Hall Meeting. If the disgust and distain for this SD and SB is so visceral then lead the charge to have hands on change!

The interim super has a lot of bad baggage, but that's the hand you've been dealt. Remind her, as interim she WILL be held to a higher standard.
Hold her to the flame, cut down on drugs, thefts, bullying and cyber bullying! Get the graduation rate to 99%.

As far as this op-ed, if you are reading or posting on this site, then you should already know how Jeb butters his bread. Not a bad thing, but transparency is important.



If the PUSD IS the community, then the community has failed the children. Remain hopeful, diligent and never wavier from the real purpose, a educationally, safe and sound environment for children's minds to flourish and become great Americans.

My kids educational journey was very good, because we stayed involved at all levels.


1 person likes this
Posted by Raven57
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jan 15, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Raven57 is a registered user.

And to the portables issue, my kids went thru their entire education in schools under construction.
They did great. Portables are just fine. They don't define good education. Teachers do.

And to the scale of what goes first?
Students first, PARENTS second, teachers third.
Don't shirk your responsibility.


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Posted by SHale
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 15, 2017 at 1:41 pm

SHale is a registered user.

Sam: Portables installed at the elementary schools, no? Isn't that the definition of 'over capacity'? AND the other schools at capacity and/or clearly over? With no new schools planned, where on earth would 'new' residents go to school? Seems a recurring complaint, here in these forums, is the over crowded schools. Shouldn't be too hard to find them.....


1 person likes this
Posted by SHale
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 15, 2017 at 1:43 pm

SHale is a registered user.

Raven: I thot about putting parents before teachers...seemed a compromise to put them together/tied..... As a parent I know I'm certainly not a teacher. I can teach 'world and living' things, but don't ask me to teach the new fangle common core math. Yikes..... Hurts my head how they teach CC math...


1 person likes this
Posted by SHale
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 15, 2017 at 1:53 pm

SHale is a registered user.

Kathleen: yes, I'm aware a bond was =just= passed with a very very long laundry list. The problem is timing. A person looking to move to Pleasanton with a young family (now) would not consider a possible new school (years away) a pro. I'm also aware of all the new housing in Pleasanton, mostly due to the complaints in this very forum for each and every new development. The district management continues to tank, there will be a trickle down. And if overall quality goes down, so do property values. Now that could make the folks who have lived there for a while quite happy, not so much anybody else.


5 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2017 at 3:39 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Kathleen, thanks for the compliment at the end of your 4th post. My frustration is not because my profession is always under scrutiny, but because of the post that preceded mine that was SO unbalanced. I mean, good teachers are "few and far between" is just such a crazy statement. It's these kind of statements that have lead us to where we are with such a divided country, news outlets like FOX stating things like "Obama is the worst president in history", just absolutely ridiculous one-sided statements. I don't think it's okay to talk in this kind of drivel, so I will call the writer out on it.

"Our teachers are excellent and our schools seem to be doing their jobs, preparing kids ..."
Yes, they do a good job, it's too bad so many posters here don't see that. Thanks, Jack, for the nice words.

"People move to Pleasanton, in large part, because they want their kids to do well....Really? That must represent the past and not currently."
Nope, it is the current state of the city, housing costs are high in Pleasanton (and in San Ramon and Danville too) largely on the strength of the schools.

Maybe the bigger question is why someone from San Ramon posting on the 'Pleasanton' Weekly? I don't go to the San Ramon Weekly or the Danville Weekly and stick my nose in their business. I really suggest we stick to our own towns instead of bashing on another.

Classrooms are not overcrowded, we have class size limits at all levels. Schools, it can be argued, could be overcrowded, but I think all schools are doing a good job balancing the need to be flexible with ever-changing school sizes. I think portables are a good solution (Kathleen, you and I have disagreed about this in the past), though permanent portables are not a good solution. Portables are not "adversity".

Pete, I agree that DeVos is a charter proponent, but please want the link I provided above before you jump on the charter school bandwagon.

Raven 57, lots of statements said in your post that can't be backed up. That's a Trump move, let's stay away from strange accusations.

"The teachers union in Ptown once very active and devoted to parents, became "it's all me". Sad."
The goal is to be "devoted" to students, not parents. We should definitely not be catering to the parents, though absolutely they are partners in their kids' educations.

"Kathleen, I challenge you to ... lead the charge to have hands on change! "
She did. While the rest of us whined on this blog, she ran for office, and almost won a spot.

"As far as this op-ed, if you are reading or posting on this site, then you should already know how Jeb butters his bread."
Ironically, he has a daughter teaching in the district (or at least he used to). That's like putting ketchup on your bread, as far as I'm concerned.

"The district management continues to tank, there will be a trickle down."
I disagree, teachers are professionals, what happens in the district office barely affects us. Teachers keep plugging along.

"And if overall quality goes down, so do property values."
Obviously, overall quality has not gone down, because property values have not gone down. Please stick to San Ramon news and stop bashing Pleasanton.








23 people like this
Posted by Train Wreck is right
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2017 at 3:58 pm

In add to this complete disaster, according to a San Jose Inside in an article "County Schools Chief Fires 2 Employees Without Cause, Taxpayers on Hook for $560,216" the woman - Micaela Ochoa, the PUSD board has put in charge to replace Rubino when he was also just fired without cause and given a payout, Micaela Ochoa was handed on a silver platter an appalling sum of $271,242.76 as her contract buyout.

But being handed a gold-plated "go away check" for over $270K was apparently not enough for Ms. Ochoa. Now she is suing for even more damages.

So let me see if I can get this straight.

1. The PUSD board fires a man who has only been on the job for 6 months for "not a good fit."
2. And replaces him with a woman who was previously fired, with the San Jose Merc reporting she would not turn over her calendar but was absent often due to her taking graduate level classes and leaving work often, and was given over a quarter of million dollars to leave.
3. Micaela Ochoa, whose department recently approved Bill Faraghan to come back as a consultant, now is suing her district for even more damages. The $270K payout was not enough apparently.

I would say that this situation is so absurd, you could not even dream this up.


1 person likes this
Posted by Raven57
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jan 15, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Raven57 is a registered user.

I can back up every statement made My family lived through it all. I wishes send most of this so take your trump accusation and show it.
This is not political!!!!!


1 person likes this
Posted by Raven57
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jan 15, 2017 at 4:08 pm

Raven57 is a registered user.

Deal with the truth. Not strange the Truth!!! Sorry if it shocked your upper class sensibilities!

I know Kathleen ran for a seat on the board. But I guess YOU didn't campaign hard enough for her to win.


1 person likes this
Posted by Raven57
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jan 15, 2017 at 4:19 pm

Raven57 is a registered user.

"The teachers union in Ptown once very active and devoted to parents, became "it's all me". Sad."
The goal is to be "devoted" to students, not parents. We should definitely not be catering to the parents, though absolutely they are partners in their kids' educations.

Wow really, you just validated my statement!!
Wow again!
You think that the teachers have to "cater to parents".
That's disgusting!
Parents are your allies not the enemy!
If your a teacher, shame on you to have a mindset like that.
Shame on you!


1 person likes this
Posted by Raven57
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jan 15, 2017 at 4:47 pm

Raven57 is a registered user.

"The teachers union in Ptown once very active and devoted to parents, became "it's all me". Sad."

The goal is to be "devoted" to students, not parents. We should definitely not be catering to the parents, though absolutely they are partners in their kids' educations.

So let me get this straight so the teachers won't "cater to parents" but you expect parent to hand them money for the classroom then shut the door in their face!

The goal is to be "devoted" to students, not parents. We should definitely not be catering to the parents, though absolutely they are partners in their kids' educations.


The whiny factor is on the teachers not parents!
And if teachers look at parent as "spoiled" and are considered more "witnesses" than volunteers, this district has deeper issues than what is going on at the SB offices

Teachers can't think " catering" to parents, then want to have a strong partnership. That's talking out of both sides of their mouths. UNACCEPTABLE!


2 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 15, 2017 at 4:49 pm

GTF

I will read the link but can't find where you posted it. I am just willing to try something which might work. The board and our district are just flushing OUR hard earned money over and over. I do not know who is making and or oking these hiring decisions but they are either stupid, incompetent, lacking in experience or all of the above but it's not working. If this were a company based on Amadi, Vranish, oldie, Ochoa er al the board would be replaced. I know I spelled names wrong but my point is clear. The board should come clean and now. After that they should resign. My opinion.


1 person likes this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2017 at 5:19 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Pete, the link is in the 29th post here.

Raven, four straight posts and they are very confusing and contradictory. For example:
"Wow really, you just validated my statement!! Wow again! You think that the teachers have to "cater to parents". That's disgusting! "
No, I don't, I was clear about that. But in the next post you contradict yourself:
"So let me get this straight so the teachers won't "cater to parents" but you expect parent to hand them money for the classroom then shut the door in their face!"
Actually, it's a public school so I don't expect a dime (I am a teacher, by the way, you asked about that). When parents give their time and/or money, I greatly appreciate it, but I never expect it and don't begrudge anyone who chooses not to give.

"I know Kathleen ran for a seat on the board. But I guess YOU didn't campaign hard enough for her to win."
I have never seen or met Kathleen, and I did not support her or any candidate. APT also did not support any candidate(s) in the November election.


27 people like this
Posted by Broken system
a resident of California Reflections
on Jan 15, 2017 at 6:20 pm

The board, rather than seeking out the most experienced applicants for top management positions, seems to base their decisions on finding top management people based on various ethnic persuasions and gender persuasions even if they have been dismissed in previous districts or had their positions eliminated in previous districts.

Even though it was reported in the press that Ochoa was fired in 2015, they hired her anyway and have promoted her.

Ochoa would not release her calendar to area newspapers after it was reported that she was absent often (apparently working on a second graduate degree, this time an Equity in Education degree at UC Berkeley).

Many parents who can afford it know how bad the Pleasanton Unified teaching is, how often the teachers are routinely absent, and work in the Silicon Valley and know what other kids in the same grades are learning. The Pleasanton parents backfill the gap with professional tutors or at home teaching.

The bottom line is many teachers are gaming the system with not teaching, opening side tutoring services, and receiving large lump sum payouts based on supposed sexist/racist "animus" since Ahmadi was superintendent. The PUSD has just fired a man without cause with a large severance package and placed in the top leadership position a previously fired business services asst superintendent who received a $271,000+ severance package and is now suing for even more monetary damages.

Settlements and lawsuits are a perpetual drain on resources. The board seems to seek out people and programs that promote this so-called "microaggression" theory which many people think is completely ludicrous. Staff members and students are taught that racism and sexism "animus" is rampant. Web Link is an article that describes how damaging this is. A professor's reputation was ruined when he touched a student's arm and was accused of racism, then charged with an actual crime --- Battery.

It is time to purge the district of the bad teachers, the bad leadership positions, the board and those milking the districts and taxpayers for settlements based on hostile work environment claims. The board has created the toxic environment that now permeates the schools.



24 people like this
Posted by Broken system
a resident of California Reflections
on Jan 15, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Reporters from the San Jose Mercury News in 2014 wanted to know why Micaela Ochoa was absent for what some say was two days a week while at the same time collecting the astronomical salary of $235,900. (Wow!)

They were stonewalled. In a complete disregard for existing laws, Ochoa refused to release her calendar.

This is the article from the San Jose Mercury News if you would like to read it in full Web Link

Did the board call reporter Sharon Noguchi before they hired Ochoa? Probably not. Ochoa in a baffling turn of events after being fired from her previous position is now in charge of the Pleasanton Unified School District.

The board does not believe in any sort of transparency. They need to go.


2 people like this
Posted by Raven57
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jan 15, 2017 at 7:28 pm

Raven57 is a registered user.

Get The Facts
Thank you for your transparency ATP.
In kind: parent, PTA PTSA President all schools. SSC member all years all schools. Retired PUSD classified employee. In the office, in the yard.

My family's experience with the majority of the teachers we encountered. Very few teachers had your expectations
You are a minority.

"Don't begrudge"- there were many times when the cute pink flyer would be placed in the backpacks with the Wish List.
It was impossible to say not to give because if my kids went back to school without the $20.00 bill attached to the pink paper, there was disappoint from the teachers. And some instances I was called to see if I forgot.

If this is your truth, outstanding.

Kathleen- you brought up Kathleen. I was responding to your post. Kathleen right now has an excellent platform to expand her desire to unite parents to help change the chaos.
Since you didn't support either candidate, this discussion is moot.


12 people like this
Posted by Liz
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 15, 2017 at 11:22 pm

Private sector companies and higher education institutions hiring senior executives typically follow the path of the search committee getting a recruiting firm to identify the initial resumes. The search committee then hires a senior executive background check firm to do a full court record check, press/media check, fines, penalties, financial/bankruptcy check, criminal check, hire/fire history and social media check of the top ranked candidates.

Based upon the press/media check findings alone, I can't understand how Douglas (too many to describe without the blog posting becoming "War and Peace" [mainly War]) and Ochoa (payroll fiasco, IRS fines, chronic absenteeism, fights with local reporters, failure to disclose public records, etc.) even made the initial screening of anyone's "hire list" at PUSD in the first place. I agree with DKHSK.

Either the board members have no senior executive hiring experience and don't know the process or background check firms used in industry.

Or either on purpose they have assembled cast-offs cut loose from other districts because they either don't want great people or feel sorry for them or perhaps are buddies with them. I have no idea.

Anyway, it infuriates me that Ochoa has received a $271,000 contract buyout after her firing and that she is suing in Federal court to soak the taxpayers even more.


11 people like this
Posted by Liz
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 16, 2017 at 12:05 am

A quick google search of Micaela Ochoa reveals info about the Payroll scandal on the Santa Clara Weekly (see below). I do not know whether the board cannot use google or can use google, saw many things like this and then chose to ignore it.

EXCERPT

"County Education Office Finance Chief and RDA Dissolution Board Member Micaela Ochoa "Steps Down" in Wake of Payroll Mess

In the latest chapter of the Santa Clara County Office of Education's payroll scandal, last week the COE announced that Chief Business Officer Michaela Ochoa "was stepping down" from her $235,000 a year job "to pursue other professional opportunities," according to a July 2 press release.
Ochoa was in charge of a payroll operation that issued paychecks filled with errors and was delinquent in tax payments, earning the COE about $200,000 in IRS fines in 2014. Ochoa was quick to blame the County Controller, but later County Finance Director Emily Harrison admitted that Ochoa's office was responsible for the late payments. The IRS eventually forgave the fines. The COE is still correcting paychecks and pension records, San Jose Mercury's Sharon Noguchi reported last week.
Joining Ochoa in pursuing new ways to deploy her talents is COE attorney Maribel Medina. Last year Medina refused to comply with a Mercury News public records request for Ochoa's calendar, telling the Mercury's Internal Affairs blog that making the records public would keep Ochoa's office from "being able to fulfill the functions of her position." Last summer, Ochoa took off most Mondays and Wednesdays reportedly to work on her Ph.D. in education, according to the Mercury."

................


11 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 16, 2017 at 11:59 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I'm a bit dismayed by some of the comments. No one posting here seems to know Ms. Ochoa or talked to her or even asked her about the articles. None of us have all sides of the story, but let's pass judgement anyway. We are asking someone to not further their education in a business that is about education? I have received responses from Ms. Ochoa at 10 p.m. and on weekends and holidays. We have no idea what hours she worked while going for a degree. And do you really think she was absent without permission? Put your nooses away until you do more to know the person. I like Ms. Ochoa, and while I can easily be proven wrong, she has been good for our district so far.


3 people like this
Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jan 16, 2017 at 1:36 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.

[Removed because it more of a conversation between posters than comment on the story.]


12 people like this
Posted by Liz
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 16, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Ochoa upon being fired from her last position received one heavy bag of cash ($271,242.76 !!!) to go away, refused to participate in an investigation concerning criminality/misconduct in Santa Clara, and was responsible for payroll mistakes that have cost $1.1 million to fix so far.

The public sector education bureaucracy who do not have business experience thus they judge people on how 'nice' they are have no idea what they are doing, I'm afraid.

And this "noose" language spouted off by Kathleen Ruegsegger confirms exactly what I have been hearing about what has been happening in staff training and student training related to SEED in Pleasanton. Thanks for making that perfectly clear Kathleen.


2 people like this
Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jan 16, 2017 at 2:50 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.

[Removed because it more of a conversation between posters than comment on the story.]


3 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 16, 2017 at 3:06 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Ok; I'll restate. People are just ready to get rid of someone while doing nothing to get the complete picture. Ms. Ochoa has responded to every public information request I've made. This isn't about her being nice to me. She has always been professional. And I'll say this again, I spent many years on the corporate side. I'll take back the noose; you can take back the unfounded bureaucracy comment.

I have not experienced SEED. I do know the ability to work well with and for others, regardless of who they may be, begins with oneself.


8 people like this
Posted by Liz
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 16, 2017 at 8:12 pm

Kathleen, Ochoa failed to be responsive to a public records act request regarding her own calendar which would have proven she was an absent figure in Santa Clara. The attorney and Ochoa who failed to respond to the Mercury News request were both fired. Kathleen, please file a public records act request to the Pleasanton Unified School District asking for Ochoa's calendar, Douglas's calendar, Ahmadi's calendar, Faraghan's calendar, Howell's calendar and so on for their entire time of employment with the district, and let us all know what kind of response you get. Please post whether you are given the information or are stonewalled with some sort of lame excuse.

If John Casey or Bill James or <insert name of any male> had come to the district in July of this year, given the toxic culture of the district, he would have been let go as well in the last two weeks.

The retaliatory nature, mismanagement, and hiring of senior staff with troubled pasts coupled with rather dubious claims of hostile work environment due to males saying and doing inappropriate actions --- followed by six figure settlements ---has created an entirely corrosive culture of the rapidly deteriorating school district.

Douglas has not implemented a future ready curriculum for students. The implementation of common core math was and is a disaster. What he has proposed to the board is recycled course outlines from the 1960s teaching kids cross-stitch and pillow making and the back-stitch. He would be laughed out of town in the Silicon Valley.

Douglas and Ochoa should have never been hired in the first place. The board that hired them and continues to employ them are completely inept.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 16, 2017 at 10:16 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Liz, why can't you ask? I doubt most of the people's calendars you want me to request actually exist since the exits of their owners. And if a person has few or no appointments on any given day, does that mean they weren't there or that they were busy at their desks? How would you like to account for the countless early, late, weekend, and holiday hours worked--including through the winter break? I have requested demographers reports back to 2000, raises back to 1988, agenda changes, contracts, and much more important data than a calendar. I've have always gotten what I asked for, but only since the departure of Cazares and Ahmadi.

I imagine there is some drama in the district, and a good superintendent will put most of it to rest in a relatively short time.


11 people like this
Posted by Liz
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 16, 2017 at 11:18 pm

Kathleen, only by getting the calendars can we see what is going on at the district office. Are there meeting and meeting involving labor disputes with the various unions? Are these principals that are leaving meeting with these individuals then resigning or being forced to resign? Who did Cheever meet with prior to his exit?

I refuse to believe the massive turnover of lateral moves of administrators to other districts is caused just by commute times, family situations, better work hours and other ridiculous excuses.

A superintendent will not fix things until we know who is really running the district. Those calendars will give anyone a good idea of who is actually calling all the shots.

Given Ochoa would not release hers to the San Jose Mercury News, this would indicate that she is hiding something. The calendar and meeting schedule for public employees is a public record per state law thus she and the former attorney for Santa Clara violated the law in not turning it over to the press.

No transparency is not good. I doubt you would have been provided district information as a regular person. You are given more access because you were a former board member running for a board seat.


6 people like this
Posted by KMH
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jan 17, 2017 at 9:29 am

Can we get to the root of the toxicity in the district? Opining doesn't do us any good. We need to dig in and figure out the WHYs. Why all the lateral moves? Why all the turnover? Why the seemingly un-vetted new hires? Why the unrest?

I didn't have a student in the district when John Casey was here, but all I have heard from varied sources is how student-centered he was, how the district thrived, and how parents and students felt secure under his tenure. What happened? What's different? How do we get back to that place?


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 17, 2017 at 9:59 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

KMH, that place? He padded salaries and ran deficits, illegally refinanced bonds, retired with his top 3 year salary at our expense, and some 5 years later is still getting $2,000 a month from PUSD. He also left the office to golf or play racquetball and took principals and others with him. No thank you.

Liz, you can request the calendars. I don't think they will say "fire so and so today." The Harvest Park principal departure was under Rubino.

Two people left SCCOE. We're the calendars then released with no one to block it? Possibly, but I doubt it, because maybe that superintendent doesn't want to set a precedence either. I worked with Sharon Noguchi; you could easily contact her.


16 people like this
Posted by Toxic Brew
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2017 at 1:39 pm

A few reasons for the toxic environment:

1) Internal process broken. Issues cannot be fixed. New principals can't get site issues addressed. District office does not do anything. When staff approaches board members, nothing is done. Board doesn't want to make waves with District office. Completely ineffective board more interested in party politics than kids.
2) District office goes after employees that complain. All afraid to go to district office persons or even principals. District office people follow staff around sometimes, make their lives miserable, then they are forced to retire even though they didn't want to.
3) Board destroyed programs that were in place during Casey era like reading specialists and Barton reading. Teachers have kids come into grade unprepared for reading at that grade level, and must try to teach to grade level and one to two levels behind.
4) No support in class. Special ed office staff not a lot of use.
5) Board in past interested in kids. No longer. Juanita, Cindy, Kris, Steve (two of them Pulido and Brozasky), Pat, were more approachable and cared. New crop does not. New crowd not the same caliber as prior elected officials.
6) Instructional coaches a waste of time and resources.
7) People hired on who they know not what they know.
8) War between unions.


How's that for a list.


9 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 17, 2017 at 2:19 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

TB and others posting, I hope you will be at the board meeting this evening. If we don't show up and speak, then we are issue #9.


5 people like this
Posted by Toxic Brew
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2017 at 3:18 pm

KMH asked why the seemingly un-vetted new hires. Don't know the answer. Could differ depending each board member.

Possibilities

1) Don't know how to vet them
2) Pretend they vet them but really don't
3) Don't invest the time in actually vetting them
4) Think someone else is going to vet them for them
5) Move temp position to substitute to permanent without vetting them in the first place (Ochoa)
6) Vet them, know multiple issues abound, but don't have the actual courage to vote No
7) Vet them, think they are lousy hires, but hire them anyway because the truth of the matter is that they really don't care
8) Vet them, think they are lousy hires, but don't speak up because they are intimidated by either staff or the management
9) Vet them, think they are lousy hires, but vote Yes anyway because they really want all of those 5-0 solidarity votes
10) Don't have any children in the district who would be effected by the new lousy hires so they don't really care
11) Rely on a sorry band of consultants who tell them who to hire
12) Not accountable to the public
13) Don't want the district to be great or very good. Mediocre is fine with them.
14) Actually enjoy the press coverage and attention they receive from blunders and screw-ups. Negative attention is better than no attention at all.
15) Secretly bask in controversy and seek it out through whatever the means, whatever the costs


3 people like this
Posted by Toxic Brew
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2017 at 6:23 pm

Rick Schmitt became leader of SRVUSD in July 2016. He is a very accomplished individual who began with teaching a number of AP courses. I recognize his name from when he was principal in Livermore.

Obviously he did not want to work in PUSD, but chose SRVUSD. Obviously, he has closer past connections to Pleasanton because it is right next to Livermore.

In fact, I doubt he even applied to PUSD. The Pleasanton Weekly can probably confirm that he did not apply because with their public request, they can find out who the finalists were in the PUSD.

Schmitt probably in San Diego knows full well about Ochoa's past and Douglas's past and the Vranesh situation. He probably even personally knows Mr. Vranesh. I will bet that Schmitt did not even apply for the PUSD superintendent position because he knows how screwed up this District is.

Here is his bio below from the SRVUSD website. If he had been hired here by some miracle, the board would have probably dismissed him too!!!!

Superintendent
Rick Schmitt became Superintendent of the San Ramon Valley Unified School District in July 2016. He arrived at SRVUSD after three successful years as Superintendent of the top-performing San Dieguito Union High School District, which covers multiple cities in north-coastal San Diego County.

Mr. Schmitt joined SRVUSD with a proven track record that reflects his dedication to educational excellence and visionary leadership. He has a passion for creating an educational environment where each student and staff member can achieve their greatest potential. He is committed to working with staff, parents and the community to build upon the excellence that has made the San Ramon Valley Unified School District one of the best school districts in California.

Mr. Schmitt began his career teaching History, Economics, Government, AP Economics, AP Government and AP U.S. History at a variety of Bay Area schools. Upon earning his master’s degree and administrative credential from St. Mary’s College, he became a Vice Principal at Granada High School in Livermore, and was subsequently appointed Principal at East Avenue Middle School in Livermore.

Wanting to be closer to his aging parents, in 1999, he moved to San Diego to become the Principal of Coronado High School. In 2003, he joined the San Dieguito Union High School District as Principal of Torrey Pines High School. He served as Associate Superintendent of Educational Services for six years, providing district-wide leadership in curriculum, instruction, and assessment for the highest performing district in San Diego County. He also supervised Pupil Services, Athletics, Special Education and Technology. In 2012, Mr. Schmitt was promoted to Deputy Superintendent, when his responsibilities expanded to include district budget, general obligation bond planning and certificated and classified staffing. He became Superintendent in 2013.


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Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2017 at 9:12 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Regarding the 8-points make by Toxic Brew in his/her first of three posts:

1. Many points made in number one, but regarding "Completely ineffective board more interested in party politics than kids."
Party politics? Huh? A school board is a non-partisan entity.

2. False, I have never seen or heard of this happening.

3. True. Many teachers are still upset about reading specialists being gone, this absence is NOT good for the students.

4. True. The special ed department is viewed as a joke, not helpful to staff or students. And they don't seem to care about their own poor reputation.

5. Not interested in kids? That is a very subjective statement. It may be true or false, but it's so subjective there is no way to say.

6. There is a big divide in the district about coaches. They came in about the same time as the reading specialists left, and many blame the coaches for the reading specialists' absence.

7. Again, a very subjective statement, but I would say this is false. The recently departed superintendent, for example, came from out of the area, I don't believe anyone inside the district knew him.

8. War between unions? Nope. The APT and CSEA get along quite well. And the district office and the unions get along well, especially compared to other districts where communication and negotiations are often quite contentious.

Toxic Brew, are you on the inside looking at these problems, or are you an outside observer?


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 17, 2017 at 11:15 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

TB, the PW will not learn who the applicants were. That is a confidential personnel matter that could compromise those who applied and did not land a superintendency outside their home district.


4 people like this
Posted by Toxic Brew
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2017 at 12:02 am

Kathleen, you have a good point. I find it very troubling that for a so-called nationwide search, Parvin Ahmadi lived 15 miles down the 680 freeway and the just dismissed superintendent lived 15 miles or so up the 680 freeway. I recall Casey was in Pajaro Valley Unified but came originally from the central valley. I don't remember Callan's background or where she originated from. Same for Bill James.

Is PUSD's rep so damaged there were hardly any applicants? Did the board have some sort of community member interviews with the candidates? If so, who were the community members?

Perhaps the press can instead ask for counts of applicants instead in the following categories:

1) Superintendents applying from the Bay Area
2) Superintendents applying from outside the Bay Area in Northern California
3) Superintendents applying from Southern California
4) Superintendents applying from outside of CA but in the West
5) Superintendents applying from outside of CA but in the East
6) Superintendents applying from outside of CA but in the Midwest
7) Superintendents applying from outside the US
8) Persons without full Superintendent positions but with TK-12 background who applied
9) Internal candidates who applied
10) Persons with no TK-12 background who applied

And Get the Facts, not interested in an interrogation or a Shana Alexander/Jack Kilpatrick style "Point/Counterpoint" show. Needless to say, since Trevor left the leadership position, APT has been in a downward spiral and been in disarray with- to put it politely-underperforming leadership.


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Posted by Raven57
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jan 18, 2017 at 1:03 am

Raven57 is a registered user.

Get The Facts
answers 3, 4, 6.
3.3 True. Many teachers are still upset about reading specialists being gone, this absence is NOT good for the students.
So ATP has been unwilling to put pressure on the board to change this decision. All your power in California this still is going on?! Shame!

K-3 graders learn to read, 4th graders read to learn

If they reach 4th grade w/o these skills then it all because an uphill battle.

4. True. The special ed department is viewed as a joke, not helpful to staff or students. And they don't seem to care about their own poor reputation.

Again with all the power that the ATP lauds over parents and the district office, there is no pressure to change this.
Sounds like the continued whiny I hear from ATP
And where is the ATP to work with parents to change the dialogue with this department.
Thanks for exposing this problem to parents.

6. . There is a big divide in the district about coaches. They came in about the same time as the reading specialists left, and many blame the coaches for the reading specialists' absence.

Was there when this vote was cast. Supt. Casey had no backbone.
The ATP DID NOT rally and protect this from happening. One statement from the ATP Prez was not enough.
Don't know what back door deal was made with the coaches but it worked.
Sports is important but if these students can't read, write, then the ATP failed.
That was 10+ years ago. Has the ATP become all talk and no walk? Every year there is a chance to change this.

Maybe it's time to work for breaking the ATP union. If you can't enhance the quality of learning for a community of less the 15,000 then it is sad state of affairs for ATP.

Always believed teaching was a vocation!

Note: I was classified for over 20+ years until retirement.




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Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2017 at 5:14 am

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Toxic Brew states:
"And Get the Facts, not interested in an interrogation or a ... "Point/Counterpoint" show."
TB, you have now made three lists, of 8, 15, and 10 points, yet you are not interested in someone suggesting the truths and falsehoods (at least from my viewpoint) of your thoughts? I find that odd.

Raven, first off, it's APT not ATP. That's the Association of Tennis Professionals.

"Was there when this vote was cast. Supt. Casey had no backbone."
I believe this decision (removal of reading specialists) happened on Ahmadi's watch, not Casey's. I believe the RS's were reduced during Casey's time in an unexpected budget crunch, but the true dismantling happened more recently, just a few years ago, under Ahmadi. If this is incorrect, someone please straighten me out on this.

"The ATP DID NOT rally and protect this from happening."
The APT is in a tricky position when it comes to specific positions in the district. The APT does not want to be in the position of picking what positions exist and don't exist in the district, that is the job of the board. The APT will protect the rights and working conditions of the current members of the union, but is not in the position to protect any one position, the board makes these tough decisions.

"Don't know what back door deal was made with the coaches but it worked."
There was no back door deal.

"Sports is important but if these students can't read, write, then the ATP failed."
What do sports have to do with this?

"That was 10+ years ago. Has the ATP become all talk and no walk?"
No, the coaches have been around less than ten years.


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Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jan 18, 2017 at 7:45 am

DKHSK is a registered user.

Only a government entity can screw up a process this badly.

I've read this thread everyday for the last few days, and I have to say it really comes down to those who have faith in an obviously flawed process, and those who want change.

That this divide is perfectly mirrored in our national politic is uncanny.

Dan


3 people like this
Posted by Buyout bonanza
a resident of Old Towne
on Jan 18, 2017 at 8:45 am

Santa Clara CBO Ochoa is fired and receives a $271000 buyout. Hired by PUSD within a month. Rubino is fired and receives $256000 buyout. Now Ochoa previously fired from Santa Clara is hired as PUSD's Interim. No wonder California's schools are constantly broke. With this buyout bonanza and lawsuits no wonder kids aren't receiving educations. 12 year olds could run the district better than the current board.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 18, 2017 at 9:48 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

TB, Callan came from Milpitas; Bill James from Paso Robles. (My personal opinion is Bill was the best superintendent--we were unified, passed two bonds, upgraded schools, established the Sycamore Fund, and were fiscally stable. Callan, while not popular with staff, was smart enough to maintain what Bill established. Many people do not share my opinions, but I worked and am still friends with them both.)

The questions you list could be answered, but I don't think by the district. The applications are controlled by the search firm, reviewable by the board, and then they are gone. In other words, they aren't on file at the DO. It would probably have to be from the search firm, and I don't know that they are compelled to answer.

Regarding special education, I was stuck in the hall for the first part of last night's meeting, but I did hear one special ed case was settled for $95,000 . . . for one school year. Did I hear that right? There were several other cases settled, and I don't know what the costs were.

GtF, that budget crunch was *not* unexpected. Casey sold the district down the river in exchange for large unsustainable raises. In truth, he was padding his own salary through the "me too" clause more than he was giving raises to staff.

We have to separate what happened to Ochoa in SCCOE from how she has performed for us for 18 months. Her case is not settled and she has worked diligently for PUSD. Get to know her.


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Posted by OhBoy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2017 at 10:02 am

OhBoy is a registered user.

"Regarding special education, I was stuck in the hall for the first part of last night's meeting, but I did hear one special ed case was settled for $95,000 . . . for one school year. Did I hear that right? There were several other cases settled, and I don't know what the costs were."

What bothers me most with these lawsuits is without a superintendent who is directing the lawyers how to handle them? Or is it just the lawyers in charge of their own billable hours? A pay out of 95 thousand isn't that much from what I have seen looking at the warrants from past years.. I believe it was last year we were doing payouts of 75,000 to 100,000 per month on several different cases. I noticed in the warrants now they redact the name of the person who is getting paid out, a few months ago that was public info.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 18, 2017 at 10:06 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I believe they can redact student names to protect them, I'm not certain they can redact who the check is made out to. One could argue that knowing the parent is knowing the child, and I would want to protect that child.


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Posted by Toxic Brew
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2017 at 10:26 am

I just went through six months of warrants. Sometimes hundreds of thousands of legal settlements per month. Payees are whited-out or removed in some other way. No way to know if these are employees, ex-employees, Board members, contractors, family members of district employees, or outside district people.

PUSD is hiding who the payments are going to. Another reason the Board needs to be removed.


2 people like this
Posted by OhBoy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2017 at 10:41 am

OhBoy is a registered user.

I agree with you Kathleen in protecting the kids for sure. Especially in this quick to judge age where guilt or innocence is declared by social media mob.

While I understand there are many layers, it saddens me to think that special education students are continuing to be so undeserved that they have to resort to legal action.

Toxic Brew - when looking at the warrants it's important to discern between payouts and legal fees - although both are equally troublesome.


9 people like this
Posted by The Unknown Pleasantonian
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2017 at 11:30 am

This is actually beyond a train wreck. I, for one do not trust the board's ability to effectively lead as far as I can throw them. For those who give the PUSD the benefit of the doubt, just stop it. We are basically looking at what will be FIVE superintendents in two years. Yes that includes interims, but FIVE. That isn't leadership. That isn't competence. That is unacceptable. If you think everything is fine and dandy then you are part of the problem. Don't look at test scores as a measure of a district's success because our students would have the same scores if you put them in any other district. It is our students and our families that make the PUSD look good...not the other way around. Our only failure is to elect incompetents who in turn hire incompetents. I am at the point where I don't even trust that Rubino needed to be fired. Maybe he did but do you really know? We can no longer blindly accept these decisions. I want to know exactly what happened. It's our tax money that is being squandered. I could care less what the protocol for transparency is in this situation. I, and I would guess that most of you want to know what happened. An "incomplete" investigation? Fired "without cause"? Is this really good enough? I know nothing about Rubino beyond what was reported in his resume. I do know a pattern of missteps the PUSD Board has made over the past few years. Everyone does. This pattern isn't the least bit sustainable and everyone knows it.


2 people like this
Posted by Gina Channell
president of the Pleasanton Weekly
on Jan 18, 2017 at 11:41 am

Gina Channell is a registered user.

@Toxic Brew: The elimination of names from the warrants came several months ago, just after we asked for the settlements and other public records pertaining to people named in the warrants under "settlement." One was indeed a special education case - which we will not report on; the other we are still investigating.

It sounds like you have done a lot of research. If you would share with me, I would appreciate it. gchannell@pleasantonweekly.com


7 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 18, 2017 at 12:15 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

TUP, I don't disagree with what you have said. The biggest problem is the board not believing in itself. They seem to trust staff too much; they don't appear to understand they should press harder and demand more than PowerPoint presentations; they are friendly, but possibly not firm enough, with union leadership. They also don't seem to believe they have power to wield with the city.

How do we change that? WE show up and ask questions. WE support them when they are negotiating with the city or unions. WE ask questions and hold them accountable. Our jobs don't end at the voter's booth (and that's true for all elected officials). Yes, our families are the district, but without our vocal support, there is a serious imbalance to who has their ears.


10 people like this
Posted by Jason
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Jan 18, 2017 at 2:22 pm

My goodness there are a lot of complainers in Pleasanton. Yes, there's been some turnover for various reasons, but my two kids are getting a great education at their respective schools in Pleasanton. Our school district is one of the best in the Bay Area when it comes to educating our children soooooooo let's remember that before calling it a "troubled "train wreck". You want to see a train wreck, go to Hayward, san leandro, san Lorenzo....I could go on.

Not saying we all shouldn't strive to do better, but it's not as bad as some of you make it out to be.


5 people like this
Posted by Mystery payments abound
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2017 at 6:27 pm

I think that the Pleasanton Weekly should call Sharon Noguchi from the San Jose Mercury News and find that grand jury report they mention in this article below.

It is interesting that payroll scandals seem to follow the new Interim Superintendent place to place. When Ochoa was assistant superintendent of the Alum Rock school district, the Mercury News is reporting that teachers and administrators were paid MORE than required. Here is the fascinating article - Web Link

This quote says they were paid $1 million more over 10 years: "Even in tight budget years, the Alum Rock Union School District paid many of its teachers and administrators more than required by its contracts and rules, a practice that in 10 years has cost more than $1 million."

and

"In May 2004, the school board tried to clarify the practice for management and issued a policy designating the raises for those who had been employed with the district for 15, then 20 and 25, consecutive years would receive an annual salary bump of $2,130.

That policy, then-assistant superintendent Micaela Ochoa wrote, “will provide longevity increments that reward staff for the commitment” to the district."

But that is not what happened, instead the Grand Jury reports that something called longevity increments sometimes happened even when a person was first hired.

Sometimes people received multiple "longevity increments" which are essentially bonus payouts in one year. The wife of the Superintendent received three in one year, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Then it seemed that out-of-district time somehow started be counted for teachers as longevity, even when they were not employed at the Alum Rock district.

Very troubling that the PUSD now has warrants with blank or empty "PAY-TO" fields and even more troubling that the new Superintendent Rubino was just removed. Did he find irregularities in what was going on at PUSD and was he ganged up on and pushed out of the organization if he started asking questions? Seems to be the trend these days at PUSD.


2 people like this
Posted by Mystery payments abound
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2017 at 6:51 pm

And there's more...from the San Jose Mercury News. Web Link

This involves Ochoa's previous employer (the one that dismissed her and gave her a $271,000 buyout --- Ochoa is now suing them) and late IRS tax payments.

"Did Ochoa believe Johal’s claims, and not know that her office transferred tax payments to the IRS electronically? Or was she trying to deceive the IRS? And did Ochoa believe the claim that the education office had always paid taxes on time, even though the IRS had dinged it repeatedly for missing tax deadlines?"

So two questions are as follows:

-Does the PUSD board actually screen anyone they hire or not?
-Does anyone on the PUSD board know how to use the Google search engine?

Another question is how often Ochoa has missed work since she was hired right after she was fired from Santa Clara. Apparently she was absent at Santa Clara routinely, also reported by the San Jose Mercury News. Can the Pleasanton Weekly find out?


5 people like this
Posted by Mystery payments abound
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2017 at 7:00 pm

The San Jose Mercury News reported that Ochoa, our new Interim Superintendent, ignored Open Meeting Laws.

Interesting.

The Pleasanton Weekly needs to find out what all of these secret closed sessions are about in Pleasanton. The San Jose Mercury News reports that Closed Sessions were used as a way to hide the fact that Santa Clara, due to Ochoa's mistakes, owed a lot of penalties to the IRS for failing to pay taxes. Then they put some bogus Closed Session agenda item regarding legal action as the heading of the agenda to in reality to discuss the IRS payments.

Here is one of the main articles from The San Jose Mercury News which reports that Ochoa hid the fact that they were faced with $200,000 in IRS penalties for not paying taxes. See the article here Web Link

"Then De La Torre and Chief Business Officer Micaela Ochoa took the largest fine — $174,090.80 – to the Santa Clara County Board of Education in closed session.

The rationale for skirting California’s open-meeting law? (No, avoiding embarrassing questions and an angry public don’t count.)"

OK, done for now. Three postings are enough for now....


19 people like this
Posted by JT
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 18, 2017 at 7:10 pm

Agree with TB that APT went downhill when Trevor left. As a PUSD teacher and parent he had a vested interest in the success of teachers, students, parents and the District. Current APT leadership is singularly focused on preventing site administrators from holding poor performers accountable and squeezing as much as they can out of PUSD regardless of the financial situation. No concern for students and contempt for parents.

I wish Trevor would challenge current APT leadership and restore some class and common sense. I can't blame him though for wanting to teach.


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Posted by Politically motivated removal of Rubino
a resident of Parkside
on Jan 19, 2017 at 8:26 am

I've come to the conclusion that Rubino was a post-November election casualty of "politics gone wild" and was more than likely a Republican who was targeted and removed from his position. This was pretty much confirmed by the nonsense I saw posted on the Town Square forum last evening regarding classifying the presidential inauguration as "controversial" with the district office composed letter to staff Web Link referring to "Some employees, students, and their families in PUSD tell us they are feeling disproportionately disenfranchised, unsupported, and in some cases, threatened." Then it refers to some sort of meetings that were held that I can't recall ever being announced or even happening.

I searched the internet regarding the hiring practices and it appears from a very brief search that Democratic Party politics are running the show when hiring is happening. When white people are hired in many senior level district office positions, from what I've seen, the management is accused of running a "Jim Crow" operation with hyperbole concerning signs regarding segregated water fountains (???!!). Web Link shows a quite hostile exchange when what appears to be a white female was hired instead of someone African American or Latino. Then a few years later, Ochoa replaced the person.

It is a pity that the school board in its purge of Republican leaders is not acting in the best interests of the community. The school board composition is made of up Democratic Party endorsed candidates and it appears as if common sense has been thrown out the window in favor of partisan politics.


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Posted by Politically motivated removal of Rubino
a resident of Parkside
on Jan 19, 2017 at 8:56 am

Web Link

The above article from the San Jose Merc provides more details.

If PUSD politics are in any way similar to Santa Clara (and by recent events including the district wide communication on disenfranchisement, I think they are the exact same), PUSD seems to be on a path of hiring not based on stellar qualifications but based on ethnic background.

After the white female was hired, in the article above it states that the furor for not hiring a Latino or African American from a board member was so destructive, that the white female hired decided to back out of the job she was hired for.

I think it is pathetic that the students have to put up with this nonsense. The best qualified candidate should be picked for the job, regardless of gender or ethnic background.


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Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2017 at 3:49 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

JT: Thanks, but Carpenter and Clark have done a good job since Trevor left. It is not an easy job, and they are doing the best they can.

I see you are in Birdland, meaning your kids probably go to Walnut Grove. I certainly understand of displeasure you may have following that mess, but there were no winner there, no one is happy. And Carpenter did not create that situation, please keep in mind.

Also, are you a teacher? You seem to know about the APT more than the average blogger here. If not, I'm not sure why you would be commenting about the job of the APT presidents that followed Trevor.


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Posted by Bison
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 20, 2017 at 1:30 am

The East Bay Times has a front, yes I say front page article on its web page about the absurd lengthy political rhetoric sent by the Educational Services department (aka Odie Douglas) advising teachers that students are not allowed to watch the inauguration as it is happening tomorrow in classes.

The communication sent out by Big Brother, I mean, Odie Douglas is so ridiculous that it is quoted in detail. Oh, the disenfranchisement, oh the woe. OH.THE.WOE.

Here it is ---
Web Link

Janice Clark, APT president, says teachers will ignore the autocratic commands from Mission Control at the District office (yes, Odie Douglas) and teachers will use their judgement in whether to show the inauguration or not. For once, I agree with Janice Clark.

In addition, the web site for PUSD has ridiculous guidelines for families to practice at home. In one nanny state paragraph, it describes how parents should refrain from discussing political parties at home and merely confine the discussions at HOME to values the parents think are important.

Thanks for proving to us that the District is more than a train wreck. It is in complete nuclear meltdown mode.


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Posted by Read much?
a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on Jan 20, 2017 at 8:03 am

I just read the letter. Nothing is prohibited. Looks like teachers can still do what they want.
If Janice Clark and her teachers can't handle some recommendations from their bosses what are they going to do when the federal demands come down from Trump? This letter is nothing. PUSD has a large enrollment and as noted in the letter some kids have experienced bullying since the election. I am glad PUSD put something out (I am sure they knew they'd be criticized either way), it keeps staff alert. Thank you PUSD for putting my kids first. Too bad I can't count on your teachers to do the same.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2017 at 1:39 pm

The PUSD is an out of control politically motivated bureaucracy that did not send out letters prohibiting students from viewing the last two inaugurations with Obama. It should not be in the education business. The good news is that I kept my kids out of school today so that they could watch broadcast TV and see history in action. And better news Is that I have enrolled them this coming fall in a different school system and will not have to put up with this complete broken education system in public education in Pleasanton anymore.


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

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