When Robin Munsell announced in May she was resigning her position as principal of Harvest Park Middle School after just under two years, the obvious question was why. And Munsell wasn't saying.
Human nature abhors a vacuum. When no clear reason is given, speculation begins. Especially since Munsell was Harvest Park's sixth principal since the 2014-15 school year. Ironically, at the time of her appointment in September 2016, she told the school board and audience, "I'm not going anywhere -- I'm here to stay."
Munsell came to Pleasanton from the nearby San Ramon Valley school district, where she had served as assistant principal of Gale Ranch Middle School in San Ramon for four years. Before that she spent seven years teaching in Castro Valley.
So a two-year stint at Harvest Park with apparently no new job lined up didn't sit right.
Pleasanton school officials directed us to Munsell, who we made several attempts to contact. She did not respond, or even acknowledge our requests, which only served to make us even more curious.
We filed a public records request with the Pleasanton Unified School District, and welcomed the cooperation and commitment to transparency offered by Superintendent David Haglund and his staff, both of which were lacking in previous administrations. Our request, answered by PUSD on July 6, produced 10 pages total, mainly copies of emails and Munsell's official resignation form.
We also did our due diligence searching databases for possible complaints filed against Munsell or the district related to Harvest Park, as well as any indication of where she'd be working next. Those efforts came up as empty as the "reason" section on Munsell's resignation form -- which she left totally blank.
The only real insights from Munsell on her departure -- albeit ambiguous -- appeared in a short email to a PUSD "Leadership Team" email group on May 7, four days after she informed district administrators of her decision.
"It is with a heavy heart that I inform you I will be resigning from my position as principal of HPMS at the end of the school year. This was not an easy or light decision to make. As for my next steps, I am looking forward to exploring new career paths and opportunities," Munsell wrote.
Making that public, or even an "I prefer not to answer" or "it's personal" response from Munsell to our initial requests, would have helped quell speculation about why she left Harvest Park, a school that could use a little less drama.
It's been a tough couple months for Harvest Park families. Their sixth principal in three years resigns for, apparently, no reason, and then a fire causes significant damage to the school's library before the ink was dry on the new principal's contract.
Terry Brenner, most recently an associate principal at Acalanes High School in Lafayette, assumed the Harvest Park post earlier this month.
School starts Aug. 13 with a(nother) new principal and, we hope, a fully repaired and functional library.
It's time to rebuild and restore stability and a healthy environment for staff and students at Harvest Park -- literally and figuratively.
Editor's note: The documents obtained by the Pleasanton Weekly are available here.