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.