By Tim Hunt
Hayward NAACP officials threaten blog postersUploaded: Nov 20, 2014
The lame-duck Pleasanton school board took action on two key actions and heard disturbing comments from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (the NAACP).
Two representatives from the Hayward NAACP office showed up to speak out in support of Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi and to threaten that blog posts on the Pleasanton Weekly website could be considered "hate crimes."
It was the second meeting the Hayward office representatives had spoken during the public comment section. It prompts the question about what criteria the organization had used to declare it fully supported the superintendent and why it was seeking to be involved in Pleasanton in the first place.
The comments were important?particularly the attempt to intimidate free speech in a public forum that is provided on the blogs by the Pleasanton Weekly. (Personally, I would prefer that people posting used their real names so they are responsible for their comments?but I strongly resent the attempt to throttle speech by threatening a type of crime that is by definition an over-reach by politicians and other public agencies. That's a subject for other blogs.
Despite its excellent test scores, the district has management challenges. The leadership was roundly criticized for the new calendar that was formally adopted for the next two years after agreements were reached with the teacher's union. School will start Aug. 11, 2015 with teachers reporting on Aug.7 so the first semester will be completed before the Christmas break.
I think the district leadership did well with outreach on this change, but it had some parents fuming.
What's been much more troubling is the way the management left former Walnut Creek Principal Jon Vranesh twisting in the wind after the board removed him from his principal post last December. He was on leave for almost all of the 2013-14 school year before being reassigned to Village High School as a teacher. He was immediately placed on paid administrative leave?as he has said publicly at school board meetings.
This week, in closed session, the board voted 3-2 (Valerie Arkin and Jamie Hintkze opposed) to place an un-named employee on unpaid leave and prepare a notice of dismissal. Vranesh said earlier this fall that district leaders told him that they were preparing to fire him. It is not a risky bet to believe the action concerned Vranesh given the political situation.
With the school board due to change in December when Mark Miller takes the seat he won over Jeff Bowser (tough year for Jeff, losing both his bid for county superintendent and then his re-election effort). Whether Miller would see the issue as the majority did is mere speculation, but it was clearly easier to deal with termination now than it likely will be once Miller is seated in December.
Speaking of elections, I was struck by the report that the superintendent attended the election night gathering for trustees Bowser and Joan Laursen who was re-elected. It was held at the Pleasanton Democratic Headquarters. Given that the superintendent works for the school board, it was unseemly, at best, to attend a party for the incumbents unless she also made an appearance at other parties. The better choice was to simply stay home and let the election process play out.