Judge: School district wrongfully fired Katrina Scott-George

UPDATE: The ruling was upheld at today’s hearing. 

Judge Frank Roesch issued a tentative ruling today in favor of Katrina Scott-George, who led school reform efforts in Oakland under former schools chiefs Dennis Chaconas and Randolph Ward before she lost her job last fall (Access the case through Domain Web. Case #: RG07325360).

The judge agreed that the district illegally fired Scott-George, which could mean that she wins back her job, as well as back-pay and benefits. A hearing is scheduled for tomorrow morning.

If the personal and educational implications of this case weren’t so serious, the storyline might be fit for a soap-opera:

Scott-George, a breast cancer survivor on medical leave, fires off a passionate e-mail to some colleagues. She writes of her despair over the precarious state of the Oakland school district, which she felt was floundering after Ward’s sudden departure.

“Dear colleagues: I think the reason we cannot improve public education is because we lie,” one e-mail began. 

A month and a half later, Scott-George’s former colleague, Kimberly Statham, takes the reigns. She fires Scott-George, cutting off her salary and health care coverage. She delivers the news in an e-mail.

Scott-George takes the district to court. Lawyers for the district claim that Scott-George tried to undermine Statham because she “desperately” wanted the state administrator job for herself. (Scott-George said today that she had “zero” interest in the job, only concerns about the internal turmoil that followed Ward’s departure and a desire to choose a worthy replacement. )

Now, if the judge sticks with his tentative ruling, Scott-George could be allowed to return to work — under a boss who has accused her of sabotaging her authority.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Turner Dodge

    Good for her!
    If only the same would happen to Javetta too. Maybe it’s time to get rid of power-hungry Kim Statham. Her power trips are excessive. She keeps on firing good executives.

    Oakland deserves better. OUSD needs someone who can work with others, even those with differing opinions. Evedently, she can’t.

    Kim Statham is clueless in California! Maybe she should go back to the East Coast. In the Bay Area, we work together to get things done.

  • http://www.mindpowercollective.org Jayeesha

    Katrina is one of the most amazing women I have EVER had the pleasure to work with. She inspires me like very few ever have, that email she sent to a group of us literally made me cry.

    I don’t know what this ruling means, but it gives me a little hope that there is still some justice in our community. And to reiterate the record, Katrina clearly stated her lack of interest in the state administrator’s job to many of us. She, unlike many others in educational administration and leadership, truly has the best interest of our YOUTH in mind, not at all a personal quest for power.

  • Kevin Chu

    Hooray for justice!
    This case was a clear example of an unfit District Leader (Statham) demonstrating “irrational exuberance”. Likely driven by paranoia, she stretched beyond any professional norms, and took action which was so egregious that it must have made Judge Roesh’s ruling an easy one. The sadness of it all is that ultimately the children (and hence our collective futures) suffer as a result.

  • Jumoke Hinton Hodge

    Now the real Blessing would be if Katrina returned to the District! Probably not in the plan. I am so thrilled to know that ego can not rule us. I am so happy to know that Truth Tellers can rise above. Maybe leadership (everyone) will take note of this correction of injustice and begin to think before we act and move from a place that honors each of us – and yes even when we don’t agree!

    Many of us have kept the EXPECTATION of SUCCESS Alive. Her legacy continues!
    A Victory for Education.
    Now Katrina, take on the Medical Industry!!!

  • CallsUmAsISeesUm

    Who will pay for this? Oakland Unified School District gets sued by an act of the state appointed state administrator. Do the children of Oakland have to pay? The state should have to pay. I think they should be responsible for all of these lawsuits as they are in charge, not the Oakland community and, most importantly, not the children of Oakland.

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  • Small Town Kid

    Pepe – Nextset may have delivered his message harshly, but do you really disagree with his conclusion?

    Vanessa – I understand your viewpoint, but your writing, grammar, and spelling is not very good. I’m shocked to see writing this poor from a college student. You need to improve it or you will have problems getting more than an entry-level job.

    People will judge you on the way you look, the way you ‘carry’ yourself, and on the way you express yourself – asking “who are you to judge me” is useless because people will do it anyway.