Almanac

Schools - May 15, 2013

Portola Valley School District superintendent resigns

by Renee Batti

Carol Piraino, who picked up the reins at the Portola Valley School District last year in the wake of her predecessor's abrupt resignation while under investigation for financial irregularities, has announced she will resign as superintendent at the end of the school year.

Ms. Piraino will be leaving her post only one year into her two-year contract. She told the Almanac that she was under no pressure from the school board to resign. Instead, she said, she decided to explore other areas in the field of education.

"I have a number of irons in the fire," she said of her prospects for a new position. "I'm looking at a variety of opportunities."

In a written statement announcing the resignation, school board president Jocelyn Swisher said Ms. Piraino "has shared with the board that she believes the district is now well-positioned for a new leader to take the helm."

In a statement included in the district's weekly online post, Ms. Piraino said she is committed to completing several projects before she leaves the district. "These include working with the interview panel and board to select an outstanding new principal for Ormondale School; working with the Strategic Plan Steering Committee, community, and board to finalize a dynamic, forward-thinking strategic plan; and working with (finance officer) Sandra Lepley and the board to create a balanced, fiscally sound 2013-14 budget."

Ms. Piraino told the Almanac that she feels she's "leaving the district in a good place" and that she has "committed to play whatever role I can in making it a very smooth transition" for the new superintendent. She also praised the parents and others in the school community who are "committed to doing the best things for the kids."

The district is working with the Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates firm to manage the search for a new superintendent, and hopes to have someone in place by the end of June, Ms. Pirainio said.

A community forum on the superintendent search was held on May 13, after the Almanac's press time. The district is also seeking comments through an online survey available beginning May 10.

Ms. Piraino served as the district's assistant superintendent until early 2012, when she was appointed interim superintendent to take over from then-superintendent Tim Hanretty. Mr. Hanretty resigned from the post in January 2012 after an investigation was launched into financial irregularities uncovered in the Woodside School District from the time Mr. Hanretty served as that district's finance officer.

After the Woodside district and the county District Attorney's Office began that investigation, the Portola Valley district audited its books, and what unfolded led to Mr. Hanretty's admission that he had embezzled more than $100,000 from the district.

In June 2012, several months before Mr. Hanretty pleaded no contest to embezzlement and other charges, Ms. Piraino signed a two-year contract to take over the top post.

Prior to being named assistant superintendent in mid-2010, Ms. Piraino served for two years as Corte Madera School principal.

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