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Alamo school principal stepping down

Original post made on Feb 20, 2015

Stone Valley Middle School principal Shaun McElroy is resigning this month after 13-plus years leading the Alamo campus in order to become a full-time education leadership coach in the Bay Area.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 19, 2015, 4:07 PM

Comments (35)

Posted by Frank
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 20, 2015 at 10:33 am

I suspect there may be more to this story. The reality is that Stone Vally Middle School has not kept up with the other schools in the district. While other middle schools have progressed, Stone Valley has remained stagnant. I think this tends to happen when one principal stays at a school too long. I suspect the new principal will have his/her work cut out for them as the whole school staff needs to reinvigorated.

Posted by American
a resident of Danville
on Feb 20, 2015 at 11:08 am

Quits suddenly with 4 months left in school year to become a "leadership coach"? Sounds like a great "leader"...I guess those who can lead lead, those who can not become "leadership coaches".

Posted by Austin Lane Neighbor
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 23, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Our family did not have a good experience at that school with him 'in charge' at the helm. I imagine there were others in the same boat. To leave in the middle of the school year suddenly leaves lots of questions. We are not surprised!

Posted by USNVet
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 23, 2015 at 4:09 pm

USNVet is a registered user.

Our family never had a good experience with McElroy either. I believe this is a good move for our community. I wish it was sooner, but happy my other son will not have him as the principal. Another parent just commented to me that Stone Valley was most parents last choice of middle school. That was really sad to hear since Alamo Elementary is doing such a great job.

Posted by Dan Davis
a resident of Danville
on Feb 24, 2015 at 7:04 am

Tip of the ice berg????

Posted by KDancer
a resident of Danville
on Feb 24, 2015 at 4:04 pm

Our experience at Stone Valley was nothing short of a nightmare..a teacher who sat in a meeting with our son listening admitting that she "just didn't like him" discipline issues, no attitude in class, she just didn't like him. When it came to bullying McElroy's take on it was..."he probably deserved it, he should learn to keep his mouth shut". Kids say and do stupid things but should not come home with bruises and a ripped up backpack...issues my son had later were a direct result of things he endured at Stone Valley...

Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Feb 24, 2015 at 5:57 pm

Our wonderful Charlotte Wood principal has allowed a mentally unhinged 7th grade core teacher to remain in place untouched for years, so I wouldn't mind if he was also replaced. Maybe he can be a leadership coach too!

Paying a lot of lip service to anti-bullying campaigns, and then doing nothing about bullying when it really happens, seems to be the new standard at schools all over the country.

Posted by JRM
a resident of Danville
on Feb 24, 2015 at 7:09 pm

Derek, can you be more specific?

Posted by frankly
a resident of San Ramon
on Feb 25, 2015 at 6:56 am

All true!!!

When someone just been around for long time and keeps quiet, they get promoted to being a principal.

Nothing more; no educational skills; no educational insights nor courage; no people skills overall. Actually, some of the custodian staff may have better educational skills then what is in the principal's chair.

Posted by Danville mom
a resident of Danville
on Feb 25, 2015 at 7:58 am

I think I know who Derek is referring to at charlotte wood as my child had an unfortunate 7th grade core experience with a questionable ( and very tenured) teacher. I myself have been unimpressed overall with that middle school. The most sad is a new 8th grade science teacher, Something is serously off there and it is a general consensus with the kids and the parents. If that teacher is back next year, the school can't blame tenure, just incompetence. Of course there are wonderful teachers there too, but overall, June can't come soon enough.

Posted by Julie
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 25, 2015 at 9:31 am

What is sad that it has taken so long for the district to see that there were serious problems with the leadership at Stone Valley. We have a niece who attends Gale Ranch Middle School. She would share with us all the wonderful things she was doing, the use of technology, and the exciting science activities. We could not help but compare our son's experience at Stone Valley where none of this was happening. What we mainly heard from this school were requests for more money, which we have heard often went for "extra duties" for the principal's friends.

All the district really needed to do is to look at test scores and see that Stone Valley was the lowest of all the middle schools despite serving children from wealth and educated families.

Because of the culture that now exists at Stone Valley I believe the district is going to need to take the next step, which is to bring in new teachers. The teachers at Stone Valley would actually benefit from being at different schools where perhaps they might get energized once again. Again, it is sad that this situation was allowed to exist for so long. Perhaps we parents are to blame as we were silent also for far too long. This is an important lesson for all of us.

Posted by Parent-SV
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 25, 2015 at 10:01 am

My daughter went to Stone Valley and we had numerous meeting with Mr. McElroy. We kept saying she had a disability and he wouldn't do anything to help. She did homework till 10pm or later at night trying to keep up. He never showed any concern for any of the children. Myself and others have reached out to help volunteer at the school on their own time and he never even had the courtesy to return a calls. Funny thing I've had conversation with other principals and they wouldn't say anything directly, but I always got the feeling they were not impressed with him. The district needs to do a lot better job with bad teachers and not worry so much about their tenure. One final thought...What make a teacher with no business experience able to run an operation as a principal? The principals do not have a business background, but they are in charge of full operation of a business. Some are really good, but I would say a lot should not be in a position of business.

Posted by Parent SV
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 26, 2015 at 10:31 am

I think being a principal is not as easy as one might think. And I know for sure that hiring good teachers is a nightmare for middle schools. Teachers just don't get paid enough to deal with disrespectful kids. I have had 3 kids go through Stone valley and while some of the teachers were terrible, I felt that Shaun did a great job and was very supportive of my students and did his best to get the teachers to work hard - unfortunately you can't get rid of people unless you have someone better to replace them. I think Shaun did a respectable job dealing with entitled middle school children and handled unfortunate situations as well as anyone else could have. Unless you have been in his position I might hold off on the bashing.

Posted by Another SV Parent
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 26, 2015 at 1:24 pm

Parent SV I believe each person has a right to voice their experience and opinion about Shaun and SVMS. My daughter and son each have good teachers and not so good ones. Same as any school, but the difference was in the principals. Stan Hitomi from Alamo always gave the highest concerns and dedication to our children. Shaun always gave an excuse and then wouldn't do anything to help our children excel. We (and many other parents) had to hire tutors to help our children because certain teachers were not held accountable for doing their job. As for the teachers they get paid pretty well. Consider they work only 9 months with another 30 days vacation, plus every holiday off and full benefits. The teachers I'm talking about have an issue if they have to work 9-10 hour day and please forbid if they have to respond to emails. Sorry Parent SV I have to disagree. We are very happy to see Shaun leave.

Posted by Julie
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 26, 2015 at 3:13 pm

As I said yesterday just compare Stone Valley to the activities at the other middle schools in the district or explain how a school in this type of community could have the lowest test scores of all the middle schools. Leadership change has been needed for quite some time.

Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Feb 26, 2015 at 5:25 pm


Are you asking if I can be more specific about which teacher I am referring to? If that is what you meant, the answer is that yes, of course I can. And as soon as I do, Gina, our editor, will have little choice but to delete my post. Defamation and all, ya' know?
Here's the best I can do: Only two of the 7th grade core instructors have photos posted. The one with good eyesight is not the one I am talking about.

If you were asking about the bullying comment I made, all you have to do is read the paper. And keep in mind that only one in 2,313 bullying stories is deemed newsworthy....

Posted by Jane
a resident of Danville
on Feb 28, 2015 at 2:09 am

Our daughter attended Stone Valley Middle School also and we thought his leadership style was more a form of bullying. If excluding children from end of year fun activities because they didn't perform to a certain grade standard ( irregardless of the child's ability being taken into account) is meant to encourage and inspire a passion for lifelong learning then I think the educational system is wrong. We found his approach to education rigid and short sighted. I hope his ' leadership' style has evolved since.

Posted by Parent Concern
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 28, 2015 at 9:01 am

Is he saying he's going to become a "Education Leadership Coach"? Think he needs to consider a new career. Does anyone know if he resigned from SRVSD or just from Stone Valley Middle School? If he still working for the SRVSD as a Leadership Coach what can we do to get rid of him? I don't want him teaching his methods to others. McElroy was the biggest axxxxx and agree is was a bully.

Posted by 94507 parent
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 1, 2015 at 10:54 am

So glad that he is gone.. I agree that there has to be more to the story..Not saying a principal job is easy but you do need to have a back bone to stand up to students and teachers... Teachers not returning emails is not an option, he didn't care what the teachers or students did... Driving by there after school the kids are rude and flip you off. We asked him in regards to helping our child as we felt they had a learning disability.... without any testing or any further looking into the matter he said "NO" and we didn't qualify for testing and he wouldn't take any outside testing. It was later discovered in high school that our child did have a learning disability... Hopefully we will get someone to hold everyone accountable and be a leader... That is what this school needs... Thank god he is gone. Hope he is not going to be teaching the teachers.

a resident of Danville
on Mar 2, 2015 at 5:50 pm

As a middle school teacher in SRVUSD for 18 years (24 in total), I feel I am qualified to comment. I did not know Shaun, but met him a few times. The negative comments may be valid, but I suspect some are not, some are just disgruntled parents more disgusted with their own children, rather than a principal or the system.

I can say, SVMS is the one middle school that teachers often say is the one school they would never teach at. Not because of the staff, or the administration, but because of the parents. Yes, the parents. The sense of entitlement they have embedded in their childs' mindset is second to none. Los Cerros, Windemere, Diablo Vista and CW are all more appealing places to teach.

Maybe it is time for a new principal. It is a tough job, a job that I would not want.

I've often heard comments how the parents at SV are mean, yes mean. Not only to teachers, but to other parents. It's kind of sad in a way.

Money will only buy you happiness for a short time. When your SV grad is back at home at age 28 with no job and an alcoholic, etc., maybe it's time to look at your self righteousness and step back.

I have friends who are SV parents. Most are great, but a few fit the generalization I've just written about.

And regarding test scores, all teachers know SV will continue to have the lowest. Not because of teachers. It's because of the extended vacations, entitlement attitudes, and simply, the new East San Ramon culture just works harder and values education more.

Good luck at soccer, baseball, and volleyball, because we all know your kid is going pro!!!!!

Posted by Parent Concern
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 2, 2015 at 10:15 pm

To SRVUSDTEACHER There's only one thing to say to you since you're insulting our community and my neighbors. You need to retire cause I don't want you teaching my kids!!!!

Posted by I have a great kids
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 2, 2015 at 10:37 pm

Its sad to hear a teacher saying that parents are to blame for SV problems. The teacher saying these comments, its very disturbing to hear this coming from you. You are insulting us as parents. We have great parents of kids that go to SV. Yes, there are good always good and bad, but I most of the parents are very good. The comments you made make me wonder how many bad teachers we have in the SRVSD. Our teachers at Alamo Elementary are very good teachers and we have one of the best principals. We appreciate all what they do for our child. Thank you Alamo Elementary!!!

Posted by Daniel F.
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 3, 2015 at 6:13 am

PARENTCONCERN and IHAVE GREATKIDS, you have validated SRVUSDTEACHER's point. Maybe an insult is what the SV community needs. And when did Alamo Elementary come into the discussion?

Posted by Dan
a resident of Danville
on Mar 3, 2015 at 7:19 am

Sorry to say it but the SRVUSD TEACHER is right on the money. East S R kids work harder just a fact. Only need to look at the test scores and awards to verify that.

Posted by Alamo Member
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 3, 2015 at 11:58 am

On a personal level I cannot comment on Shaun McElroy much because most of the discipline issues we encountered were dealt exclusively by Karen Johnson, the previous vice principal at SV. On the couple occasions I tried to contact Shaun, he was always too busy and did not reply to my emails so Karen was my main point of contact. She was responsive and was trying her best to deal with bullying and drugs at school. I think she cared and did her very best to work collaboratively with us to resolve issues that we encountered in the past with bullying and poor choice behavior.

SV has some very good teachers and some very poor teachers. In my experience the poor teachers are not held to account. The student to teacher ratios seems way too high in my opinion and the number of classes that the teachers have to carry seems excessive. My child receives special ed classes and has an IEP, having the teachers comply with my childs IEP is almost impossible and requires regular monitoring. I have now hired an advocate.

I had a teacher admit that she doesn't know from class to class who her special ed kids are!! If they don't have systems to track and monitor special ed kids, who they are contractually bound to provide accommodations for, then how can they monitor and track the progress of general population kids. In my experience the Special Ed teachers at SV are under qualified and overwhelmed. A new head teacher for Special Ed is needed, someone organized, with knowledge of how to work with the gamut of learning disabilities and who can coordinate and create alliances with the gen ed teachers.

I'm sure there are 'entitled' parents at SV but to say that the majority of parents are entitled is to have a clear bias towards the families in Alamo and not addressing the real issues that include having more teachers and teacher aids and better training and technology at our school.

The other problem is tenure and teacher evaluation. I believe that parents should weigh in on the teachers evaluations. Teachers should also be accountable to the students and their families. But mostly, the evaluation process itself should be more transparent. It appears that only non tenured teachers receive an evaluation annually and tenured teachers every other year and that can even be pushed back. The evaluation process itself seems to be only a formality. More can be read here:
Web Link

We need new laws into place at a district level and state level but in the meantime I truly hope the new principal will address teacher performance and take our school to a higher level just like Mr. Hitomi did at Alamo Elementary.

Posted by Karen
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Mar 4, 2015 at 10:51 am

Our young adult kids went to SVMS and MVHS just before Mr. McElroy (I think Mr. McElroy was principal for my youngest's 8th grade year). One of our kids (now a Berkeley Engineering grad) would have thrived anywhere. Our youngest had learning disabilities that weren't fully diagnosed until a junior in high school. The youngest was treated very shabbily by the system, especially when a psychologist who'd never met me or the kid canceled the kid's ability to get special education accommodations the kid had been receiving since grade school - on the very last day of the 8th grade school year, after classes had ended. It took us two years and many hundreds of dollars in consultants' fees to get the kid back into the special ed system. Our experience with both schools was that the quality of the teachers (as in any large organization such as SRVUSD) was uneven. The kids had some very good teachers who really cared and some horrible teachers; the youngest got subject to treatment from teachers ranging from very good to well-intentioned but uninformed to nearly abusive.

I do have to say, though, that I agree with the teacher who thinks that parents are part of the problem at both schools. My guess is that teachers respond to parental expectations. If parents don't care if kids are performing well academically, that's got to rub off on students and teachers. Our oldest hung out with a **very small** crowd that placed learning near the top of their priority list. It was obvious to the oldest (even while in high school) that most kids did not show up at school with learning as a priority. In fact, when our oldest and friends tried to get out of taking pointless STAR tests, the MVHS vice principal called them in and dressed them down b/c she knew that if they removed themselves from STAR testing, the school's STAR scores would tank. I really think that the better performance of other district schools (particularly those at the southern end of the district) has a lot to do with parental expectations of their children. When our kids were in school, we found that we needed to demand that the kids meet **our** standards for excellence as opposed to the low bar set by the kids' peers and (not all, but many) teachers.

Posted by ParentAlumni
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 4, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Parents: if you have issues with ANY staff members, go to the SRVUSD district office where you will be heard. Very sad to read the above notes about Stone Valley. Middle school can be a difficult time for kids and for some reason, many teachers & principals are just not up to the important task of educating these middle schoolers. I repeat...exercise your rights as parents and taxpayers and let the District know what's happening.

Posted by Concerned Alamo oarent
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 5, 2015 at 9:07 pm

Wow, this all is so discouraging to read. We are just beginning our children's education in Alamo. I have always supported public school in this area as it's been excellent, but if this is the kind of garbage that my children are in store for at SV, then no thank you! We will find somewhere else to go regardless of driving further. That's disappointing to hear what little caring these role models have for our youngsters. Junior high is hard enough emotiional on kids if I remember correctly.
Please parents let your voice be heard to pave a better future for everyone. Thank you!

Posted by New Information-Good News
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 6, 2015 at 8:14 am

Some may not like what I've said in my comments before, but my wife and I did something about it. She has spoken to SRVSD and found out some interesting information. There's going to be a complete re-work of SV. Sound like the district and parents were not happy with what was happening at SV. The district is looking for input in the next principal and ideas on what parents want from SV. The kids are being held accountable and discipline is being enforced. McElroy is gone - Teachers are being reviewed - new building - and we have a great community with good parents too. Life is getting better. Thank you to the district for making these changes to help our children. I have one left and have positive hopes that the school will be a better experience this time around. Last thing to say is get involved to help our children. Even if your child no longer attends help the new parents and child. Your input on your past experience good or bad could help build the future. I know the kids coming out of Alamo are great kids and we don't want to lose those children in their next phase of schooling. I love Alamo and love my community!!!!

Posted by KDancer
a resident of Danville
on Mar 6, 2015 at 8:49 am

Thank you "New Information"...believe me that is very good news. Calls to the district and voicing concerns over and over a few years ago fell on deaf ears, hearing that they are finally taking action is a relief and hopefully means that future students will have a better outcome than our son and the sons and daughters of friends that had horrible experiences. For too many years bullying went completely unchecked and excused, teachers that clearly did not enjoy teaching were not held accountable, and if your child had any special needs they were considered a nuisance..I witnessed it over and over. There were a few very good teachers but unfortunately were overshadowed by those that just didn't care. Hopefully SV will get a thorough housecleaning and get back to the business of educating kids and creating an environment they can be proud of instead of simply survive.

Posted by Alumni
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 6, 2015 at 8:32 pm

I wish those of you posting could hear yourselves! The teacher didnt even have to say a thing, your posts say it all! I went to this school years ago, grew up in these neighborhoods and she is right on! Youre worried about the bullying? Have you thought about how you behave? From the tone of your posts, I dont need an answer to that. It is no surprise your kids are bullies- they learn from you! And to think you have a right to bash those at the school, yet you call for the teacher to retire? Because she spoke her opinion (truth) about what she sees everyday in your behavior as well as your children? This problem wont go away with teacher evaluations, a new principal etc because one key factor in the mix still wont even admit to being a part of the problem- you, and the way you choose to raise (hover) over your kids!

Posted by Alamo Common Sense
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 6, 2015 at 8:51 pm

Alumni, we've put up with people who don't take their job seriously. We have our feelings and have just as much right to voice them as you do. Our children were hurt by the school and no cared. Now we voice our feelings and you say we're bullying. As parents we should have taken the responsibility and voice our concerns along time ago. We should have stood up to the bully, passive principal, and held all the teachers responsible for their actions. Our family is all about teaching good values and we support all our children teachers. This can turn into something very positive and help all our children. The more people that know what happened, the more people won't wait in the future to ask for change. The person who said the teacher should retire, well I agree. Don't want to teach our children please retire so someone who wants to teach will come teach our children. The teachers who are good and want to teach please stay because we love you.

Posted by IncomingMiddleSchoolParent
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 6, 2015 at 11:47 pm

As the parent of an incoming middle school student next year at Stone Valley, I'm a bit nervous. I queried many respected parents who have been actively involved in the community and are nice people. I could not find a single parent happy with the middle school, which genuinely surprised me. Concerns ranged from academic opportunities in STEM classes being behind the times to some poor teachers (not all obviously) to lack of leadership, though all thought the principal was nice. I am not sure how much change the district can realistically implement since I do not know how much leeway they have to manage their staff. From what I see on the news, certain changes are nearly impossible to make. Combined with a culture that I hear is unhealthy, how can change really be affected? On top of it, they will be rebuilding the school and placing all of the children in even closer quarters. It does need to be rebuilt. I just wonder who will change the teaching, curriculum, facilities, culture, and leadership without it negatively affecting my child? The district will really have to be smart on how this is done. I just hope my child is not collateral damage; then again, children are more resilient than we give them credit for. As for the teacher's comments, assuming he/she really is a teacher, they seem to come from a place of deep-seated self-loathing. Get over it. As a parent, I am unapologetic for loving my child and wanting the best for him. I also worked my rear off to squeeze into a nice community with good schools. I hope that SV is a great environment that challenges him academically and personally in all the right ways.

Posted by Former parent
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Mar 8, 2015 at 7:30 am

I should be surprised at all the negativity, but I'm not, given the nature of anonymous comments. My son struggled at Alamo elementary as he was an extra-active child and didn't fit the mold of the obedient student that seemed to be what made a kid successful. But he turned around at Stone Valley, and I credit the culture Shaun created for that. Not every teacher was fantastic, but all took an interest in helping our kid be successful.

Posted by IncomingMiddleSchoolParent
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 8, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Thank you Former Parent. It actually is reassuring to hear that someone had a positive experience. Hopefully, they will try to keep the good and improve if needed. Thanks again.

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