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Transfer of Walnut Creek principal causes outrage

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 at 3:56 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington, Walnut Creek.

By Theresa Harrington
The decision to transfer Bancroft Elementary Principal Linda Schuler to Valle Verde Elementary in the fall has some staff members and parents at Bancroft outraged.
Parent Kim Friedman told me teachers were planning to meet with Mt. Diablo district Superintendent Steven Lawrence at 3 p.m. today, followed by a parent meeting with Lawrence at 4 p.m.
Many plan to protest the move to the school board tonight at 7:30 p.m.
“Because of the way it was handled, that’s most of the reason why we are very upset,” Friedman told me today. “We have very little trust in this district as it is.”
I couldn’t reach Schuler, Lawrence or Rose Lock, assistant superintendent of elementary instruction, this afternoon. But I spoke to Valle Verde Principal Carolyn Kreuscher, who confirmed that Schuler will be taking the over leadership of the school in the fall.
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” Kreuscher said. “She’s going to be an incredible person to take over the helm. I’ve known her as a colleague for years and years. And I’ve known her as a friend. So, I feel like my community is blessed to have her coming aboard.”
Kreuscher said she notified her staff about their new leader Monday after school ended. She also sent an email to parents letting them know who would greet them in September.
Lock called Kreuscher over the weekend to tell her Schuler would be her replacement. Kreuscher’s last day is June 29.
She said she had no say in deciding who would replace her. And although some in the community are calling Schuler’s new assignment an “involuntary transfer,” Kreuscher said there is no such thing for principals.
“I don’t think that is true, because I don’t think that kind of language applies to us as principals,” Kreuscher said. “We’re hired as part of our district. What I know and what I’ve understood is that we go where we’re going to best service our communities.”
Kreuscher said she was transferred to Valle Verde 13 years ago, after working as principal at Holbrook Elementary in Concord. Schuler was transferred to Bancroft after working as principal of Mt. Diablo Elementary in Clayton.
Some Bancroft parents said they found out about Schuler’s departure from friends who received Kreuscher’s email. Kreuscher said Lock didn’t ask her to keep the news under wraps and told her she could inform her staff.
“I know that once I inform my staff, my community knows within five seconds of that,” Kreuscher said. “I know that Linda Schuler told her staff prior to me telling my staff.”
Still, Kreuscher said she could sympathize with concerns of the Bancroft community.
“That’s to be understood,” she said. “It’s very difficult, I think, for people to let go of good leadership.”
Kreuscher also said she would have expected the district to inform her school ahead of time, if she were being transferred (instead of retiring).
“Absolutely,” she said. “That’s the difficult piece.”
When asked if the Bancroft community uproar could have been prevented, Kreuscher said she couldn’t speak to that.
“To be honest,” she said, “I feel like my boss (Lock) and superintendent are working as hard as they can to do things that are right for kids and I dont think this is easy times. I think they’re trying to be responsive with so much to be responsive to.”
Do you think the district handled the transfer appropriately?

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  • Sequoia Parent

    We heard that Sequoia Middle School will have a new principal too?

  • ajsmom

    I am the parent of a Bancroft student. Of course, Mrs. Kreuscher is thrilled for her community. They are getting a proactive principal who has the necessary skills to lead their school. However, what happens to the teachers and students at our school? When we were asked to donate $365 per family to Bancroft that was done with the idea that we would keep some stability for the students. Moving their principal and bringing in a new one is not stability and now I wonder how is this new principal going to spend my donation to the school? One member of the school board wasn’t even aware of this transfer so is what is the superintendent thinking? You want kids to attend public schools, you tout how successful we can be as community, and then you pull something like this. Not cool.

  • Rick

    As a father of four grown children, when parents reach to a point of an “uproar”, then you know their childrens education is at risk. Yes, I do believe that the district mishandled the unexpected transfer. This smells of bad management, and the children and parents are now the ones left to deal with the uncertainty. Once again, the management of the District did not have the guts, nor the character to uphold what’s best for the children. Involuntary…I don’t think the children at Bancroft have an involuntary desire to see their principle go.

  • tharrington

    Superintendent Steven Lawrence just told parents outside the MDUSD board meeting that he has decided to allow Schuler to remain as principal at Bancroft, assistant superintendent Rose Lock told me. She doesn’t know who will become principal at Valle Verde.
    At the meeting, Lawrence said he had a candidate in mind for Bancroft.
    Now, standing-room only crowd at meeting is getting restless, because meeting is late getting started. I also met Bill Morones, who said he will be appointed as principal of Ygnacio Valley High School in Concord, replacing Carolyn Plath, who is retiring. Morones has been principal of Florin High in Sacramento for the past seven months. He said he lives in Danville and is married, with three children.
    At the Bancroft meeting, Lawrence said several other schools have also just found out that they’ll be getting new principals. The principal of Highlands Elementary has agreed to move to Bel Air, which is one of the district’s six lowest-achieving schools, to replace retiring Principal Tom Carman.
    Delta View and Wren Avenue elementary schools will also be getting new principals, Lock told me.
    Susan Peterson, principal at Delta View, has been picked to become Director of Elementary Education under a district administration restructuring plan to be approved tonight. Denise Rugani is slated to become Director of Secondary Education, with Jennifer Sachs as assistant director.
    Patt Hoellwarth, Lori O’Brien, Susan Hukkanen and Hellena Postrk are in line to take positions providing principal coaching and school support. If the board approves these appointments, then yes, Sequoia MS would get a new principal, along with Hidden Valley Elementary. Postrk is currently principal of Sequoia MS and O’Brien is principal of Hidden Valley.
    Here is the plan: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=2701&mtgId=269.
    Here are links to video of the Bancroft meeting: http://qik.com/video/7785584, http://qik.com/video/7787470 and http://qik.com/video/7788805.
    Some parents said the way the superintendent handled this principal transfer led them not to trust the district. Do you trust the district?

  • Bobcat Bob

    Thanks to our vocal parents – the Superintendent has reversed the decision to transfer Mrs. Schuler. She is staying at Bancroft! Great job Bancroft Community!

  • Doctor J

    And we are paying this guy $250,000 to shoot from the hip ??? Sounds like he shot himself in the foot. The Supt. obviously wasn’t getting input from his staff and underestimated the power of the parents. Depends which Board member didn’t know — perhaps some of the transfers were based on “demands” from other board members. Hmmmmmmm. Is this just a distraction away from Diablogate ?

  • ajsmom

    I want to commend the Superintendent for listening to the parents and students of Bancroft and reversing the decision to transfer Mrs. Schuler. There are no easy roads to take here and I know these situations will come up again. My hope is that the experience of how this was handled will be remembered when an unpopular decision needs to be made in the future so all persons affected are given the chance to process the changes.

  • Doctor J

    Emergency school closures need to be made NOW ! Millions can be saved NOW ! How can anyone in these dire economic circumstances justify staffing multiple schools of 300 children compared to a school of 700 children with the same amount of administrators, same amount of clerical staff, same amount of support staff ?

  • Teacher

    Did anyone consider that the Bancroft principal wanted to go to Valle Verde? Of course, the principal is not going to say publicly that she wanted to go there. Principals when they see openings let it be known to those who can make it happen. Now she’s stuck there. Good job Bancroft parents.

  • Doctor J

    Theresa, what is the status of the public records requests to MDUSD ?

  • tharrington

    I sent a June 4 e-mail asking the district to reconsider the original request, based on the fact that board members relied on polling results when they voted to put Measure C on the June 8 ballot. I also pointed out that Pete Pedersen has already told me he is perfectly willing to show me the correspondence from principals regarding the 2010 Measure C Facilities plan.
    Since I haven’t heard back from the district, I’ve sent another e-mail asking for a response.

  • Doctor J

    Diablogate is just like Watergate: its the coverup that will sink them. Destroying public recore emails is illegal. Don’t give up — the free press will prevail but I think you will have to take them to court.

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  • bancroft staff

    All I can say to Teacher says, is THANK YOU! You should be smarter than to make statements that you have absolutely no information on which to base them. If Linda Schuler had wanted to stay at Bancroft all she had to say was no when Supt. Lawrence called her Tuesday night prior to the meeting and asked her if she wanted to stay at Bancroft. Instead she said a resounding YES! And yes, I am proud of my Bancroft community!

  • Doctor J

    There has to be more to the story for the Supt to reverse himself so fast !!! Who was behind the move ? And for Lawrence to do it just before the Board meeting — wow, that is suspicious. Someone had to threaten to blow the lid off the truth ! Who is going to tell us the truth ?