Joanna Paun, a Petaluma student counselor whose “non-relection” from the Petaluma City Schools District resulted in a whirlwind of controversy, has not only found peace, but a good position at St. Vincent de Paul High School.
Paun has been named director of counselors at St. Vincent. She said her main responsibility will be working with juniors and seniors helping them with college applications and financial aid.
Paun was told last February that she would not be asked to return to her job as a student counselor at Kenilworth Junior High School. Since she was a school-year shy of tenure and still on probationary status, the district was not required to provide a reason for what amounted to a dismissal.
Paun said at the time the only reason she was given for her dismissal was that she was “not a good fit.”
Citing confidentiality rules, school district officials have never commented on reasons she was not retained.
Paun’s dismissal resulted in a strong protest from several parents and children who cited her positive impact on student lives. She was the only black staff member at Kenilworth, and several of her supporters stressed her importance as a role model for young students.
While disappointed at not being offered a position in the Petaluma City Schools District, Paun is delighted with her new job.
“It is very different from the public schools,” she said. “No. 1 is they are actually training me. They are sending me to a conference to learn how to use new software designed to help students apply for college scholarships.
“I really like Principal Pat Daly. He has a great vision for the school.”
Paun said she has no ill will against the Petaluma Schools District.
“I’m not bitter,” she said. “I was really upset for a few days, but the people who supported me got me through it. God has given me peace about it. If it had not happened, I wouldn’t have gotten this great opportunity at St. Vincent.”
However, the experience has also gotten her to consider changes she would like to see in the Petaluma district.
“I’ve been thinking about running for the school board,” she said. “I couldn’t do that as an employee, but now I’m considering running. There are things I would like to see implemented in the district.”