Part of the Bay Area News Group

Uprep board calls last-minute meeting, votes to close school

By Katy Murphy
Tuesday, July 31st, 2007 at 1:36 pm in charter schools, high schools, investigations, Uprep.

boardresize.jpgUprep is closed.

The University Preparatory Charter Academy board held a special meeting today, giving little notice to families who might have wanted to attend.

They voted 3-1 to shut the high school in Eastmont Mall immediately. A number of teachers came, but no parents or students. It’s not clear whether the previously scheduled Saturday meeting will still happen.

Harold Pendergrass (far left) was the only board member who wanted to keep the school open, despite the Oakland school district’s charter revocation notice. He said the school needed a more transparent governing board and a full investigation into the allegations of fraud that have surfaced this month.

“There is considerable interest in trying to preserve the school,” Pendergrass said. “People aren’t running away from the school — maybe everyone except the board.”

But soon the discussion — about a decision that would deeply affect some 400 teenagers — devolved into a back-and-forth between Pendergrass and board president Prentice Deadrick about blame, ego and responsibility.

It went something like this:

Deadrick: “You shoulder as much of the blame in the governance inadequacies as any of us sitting up here.”

(Then, seconds later…)

Pendergrass: “I’m probably the only objective person here on this board.”

Deadrick: “Yeah, right, and you’re probably greater than God, too.”

keilahresize2.jpgKeilah Benton (left), a 15-year-old independent study student, discovered the news this morning when she came to pick up a homework packet. She’s not sure what to do now.

 ”It hurts. It’s just crazy. I had no idea,” she said.

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • Norman Fred

    How can stuff like this happen? The kids get hurt the most. Like they don’t have enough to drag them down, they are exploited by people like this.

  • D Mascharney Smith-Franklin

    I so agree with Deadrick, Pendergrass should shoulder most of the blame being is he was one of the board members that is within the community. Pendergrass is the one I was faxing, calling when Isaac was being irresponsible. Once I threatened to go to the school board, (which I did) there was not any help there either. Zimny did not help de-escalate the situation in regards to two trumped up expulsions. There were not any referrals or suspension(s) in my child’s file. The letter (expulsion) the school sent to OUSD was very different from the one he sent to my home. Deadrick’s signature (possibly forged) was on the one that went to OUSD; the other sent to my house had a different context, and a different signature (possibly forged). This information I sent straight to Sacramento to Mr. G. Geeting, whom I had been in contact with since I never received any help from the “so called board member” Pendergrass, nor Zimny. The one time I did get the chance to speak to Pendergrass, he even acknowledged that Isaac was making the issue with my child a personal one, for whatever reason. Which Isaac’s behavior changed drastically against my child, maybe because she was one he couldn’t intimidate, by calling her out of her name, making threats to kick her out, telling her she is mentally deranged, etc., I believe he just met his match. Well I for one pray that Isaac is prosecuted severely for breaking the law, just as these students are being for the many infractions he has committed. This is a situation where one bad apple (Isaac) spoiled the whole barrel (UPREP). Food for thought: You cannot continue to mistreat or misrepresent people without self-inventory, and becoming perfect your self or it will come back and blow up “IN YOUR FACE” Old saying “God don’t like ugly, nor is he fond of pretty”

  • Supporter

    I THINK THEY NEED TO FIRE DEADRICK CAUSE OF HIS COMMENT ABOUT BEING BETTER THAN GOD HE IS A GROWN MAN HE IS ACTING WORST THAN THE STUDENTS THEY DONT NEED THAT TYPE OF REPRESENTATION WE NEED TO FIND SOME TYPE OF WAY TO KEEP THIS SCHOOL OPEN THE FIRST IS GETTING RIT OF HIM NO ONE REALLY KNEW ABOUT THE MEETING THIS MORNING BECAUSE HE KNEW THAT IF ALL THE PARENTS AND STUDENTS KNEW WE WOUILD NOT GO DOWN WITH OUT A FIGHT AND THATS WHY HE SCHEDULED IT SO EARLY HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING HE WNATS THE SCHOOL TO CLOSE ISSAC QUIT SO HE WANTS IT CLOSED THEIR BEST FREINDS

  • D Mascharney Smith-Franklin

    I personally feel Deadrick called it as he saw it, anyone who ever had to deal
    with Isaac and Pendergrass, to me somewhat resembles what happened to the
    “Titanic”, running a sinking ship into the ground (where did the Capitan of the ship run off to). Isn’t the Capitan supposed to go down with the ship, not bring the ship down? Deadrick did acknowledge his shortcomings. He stated that maybe he was not the best person to serve on a board that he could not readily support on short notice as Pendergrass was here but never once to my knowledge did he attend to UPREP business until it was too late. The remark he (Deadrick) made pertaining to God was directed at Pendergrass, since he (Pendergrass) did not own up to his lack of being a supportive board member until it was too late. Actually, its time, this farce could not continue at the rate it has been escalating, due to the lack of board participation. Isaac was probably making false reports to the board to make them possibly feel he had it all under control. Pendergrass sure shared this with me when dealing with my student being brought before the board unnecessarily. Another thing there should have been some fixing of things before it came to this. Duct tape cannot fix this problem, which has escalated to the ultimate of highs (cheating to make things look good) tsk tsk tsk. What do you do to a child who breaks the rules/law? Punish them according to the crime, is not this not only a state violation but a federal one also. This to me means, “PRISON TIME” should be administered. This still will not heal all the students who now have a tarnished record, all because instead of teaching cheaters never get anywhere, he should be used as an example.
    Therefore, Isaac should pay the price like the criminal he is. “If you can’t do the time don’t do the crime”

  • D Mascharney Smith-Franklin

    P. S I too was a supporter of the school, this is why I continued to refer students with the instruction that Isaac is just a lot of hot air, if your child can withstand Isaac, they could definetly make it to a top ranking college, mine did, along with my nephew and two of my younger cousins. Although it wasn’t easy, I just continued to coach her to do what she was supposed to do, then he (Isaac) would stay out of her face, but of course he didn’t. It just wasn’t as bad as it is now.

  • James Jones, Jr., Parent, etc.

    It’s always easier to designate a villain, but with all the politics and complex organizational relationships involved in Oakland’s educational scene, I find it hard to believe that Uprep failed because of ‘a bad man’ or ‘an apathetic board’. That might be good enough for the media but we can’t afford to accept such easy answers.

    What we should be asking is: What, specifically, did the allegedly ‘bad man’ do? and: What, specifically, did the allegedly ‘apathetic board do?’ Did the governing board have sufficient oversight powers? Did the principal have too much power? How can we better balance the powers between the Board, the principal and the Teachers? If we can answer these questions and really get to the bottom of why this happen, then Uprep and every other failed school will be a part of a larger learning process that will ultimately help Oakland children succeed.

    OUSD must pro-actively investigate every failed school (and every successfull school). Not to find a villain (or a hero), but to extract and document the lessons learned from a particular experience. Through careful and honest analysis we CAN begin to create some kind of organizational memory that will remain; and that won’t allow us to forget what we have learned even as new leaders come and go and when the interest of concerned Parents ages-out of OUSD (along with their children).

    How ever the District may feel about Charters, the fact is: we need them, they are here to stay and we should do everything we can to help other Charters avoid the pitfalls that Uprep fell into.

  • STUDENT

    UPREPS BOARD MEETING IS STILL ON FOR SATURDAY AT 10 AM AT UPREP AND THERE IS A POSSIBILITY THAT UPREP CAN REMAIN OPEN PLEASE SHOW YOUR SUPPORT BY SHOWING UP THERE IN RED AND BLACK AT 10AM

  • D Mascharney Smith-Franklin

    are you sure the meeting is still being held, after all they (board) voted to close;
    so what’s the purpose?

  • Katy Murphy

    There is a meeting — at 11:05, the receptionist told me. I’m still waiting on the agenda to see what will be discussed.

  • http://uprepcharter.blogspot.com Hanna

    Might not a meeting of parents be worthwhile regardless of what the Board intends to do? Due to the complete absence of any kind of PTA at Uprep the past year, a lot of parents know few or no other parents of Uprep students. There is no strong parent body that can make demands on behalf of the students. If the school is shut down it could still be helpful to have an organized group that can make sure that the OUSD and other actors do not forget the students’ needs. Any occasion that provides opportunity for parents to talk with each other seems a good thing.

  • D Mascharney Smith-Franklin

    are you sure there is a meeting or is this just another tactic to see who really cares about education @ UPREP I am only concerned because my child is from the first graduating class. This class has nothing to do with the cheating, but there are concerns that their record(s) are being looked at differently. Although the cheating occurred after the class of 2005 it still doesn’t look promising for them either.