Will OUSD fire one of its star principals?

star.jpgLast week, I went to Sobrante Park Elementary School to see how its teachers — including one of the district’s teachers of the year — do literacy. Oakland’s chief academic officer arranged the visit, and I wasn’t surprised that he chose that particular school.

Sobrante Park, in East Oakland, is one of the few Oakland schools that has dug its way out of NCLB’s Program Improvement watch list. Its success at raising the test scores of its mostly low-income, Latino and African-American students was documented in a case study by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Education Reform. The Christian Science Monitor wrote about it last year.

But I hear the school might lose its popular principal, Marco Franco, over a Feb. 19 confrontation with two parents who are said to have shoved him and threatened to harm him.

According to a letter signed by Franco’s supporters, police investigated the incident and “recommended that the family be moved to another school, which Mr. Franco and the staff supported as a sensible step to avoid future violence from the family.”

Instead, Franco learned that he might be fired, demoted or transferred to another school, said David Draheim, an attorney and the husband of Sobrante Park teacher Roberta Draheim. The Draheims and others formed an Ad Hoc Committee in Support of Marco Franco and Sobrante Park Elementary School and have written several letters, which they’ve sent to school and city officials.

Franco — who has led Sobrante Park for 11 years — is still at the school, but it’s unclear whether he’ll be allowed to stay.

“It doesn’t make sense that the person who’s been at the center of all these achievements would suddenly be removed without really any explanation to the community that depends on him,” said Michael Ray, a literacy coach at the school who said the entire teaching staff signed the letter. “It’s distressing, and I’m afraid it’s not going to have a good impact on the school community.”

I’ve called the Oakland school district for a response, but I haven’t yet heard back. I’ll let you know when I’ve heard anything.

image from dphershman’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons

Katy Murphy

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

  • Turner

    This is funny. Nothing has changed. Let the perpetrators off the hook but punish the star principal.

    My only question is why do good people continue to tolerate the beating and neglect that they get from OUSD administrators?

    Anyway, good luck Mr Franco. You have done good work.


  • Nextset

    You have to understand, OUSD has no intention of “educating” anybody. Those who are surprised about this action are surprised because it’s illogical to them. They assume that OUSD actually cares about education and would be happy at the increased scores. Well, guess what – they expect the black students to all fail. They have already programmed that into their operation. When some teacher or administrator produces better than expected results they treat that as the program failure.

    The real mission of OUSD as shown by their actions is the pacification of the families enrolled inthe school. OUSD will pat them on the head and tell them they are wonderful (they’re not) or that they are improving (they are not) or that the future looks rosy for their children (see the stats).

    It’s only some of the teachers and families that are fooled by this game. Actions speak louder than words. In their treatment of staff such as Franco we see the real agenda.

    Above all OUSD doesn’t want demonstrations, protests, complaints, or any of the black folk unhappy. They’d put them all on morphine if they had it on hand. OUSD will sacrifice any staffer to keep the lid on no matter what happens to the scores or the kids. OUSD can handle NCLB – they will milk it for every bit of $$ it’s worth as the schools “fail” and needs “remedial” funding.

    If the kids turn out unemployable, in jail and diseased, well, it was expected.

    The only chance for these kids is to replace the school board incumbents with the most right wing, retired military types on the market. That won’t happen because the electorate are as dumb as they come and the families involved in OUSD place a premium on kiddies being comfortable instead of being worked like synchronized swimmers.

    See, if you just ignore what happens to people like Franco, you can just be happy.

    If the school was a real school anybody who manhandled staff would be violently subdued and taken to jail in chains. Or does OUSD maintain school police & security staff?

  • cranky teacher

    Personnel issues in school systems in general are pretty iffy. Everything is very hush-hush, and non-tenured” at-will people are often “let go” without even knowing why. This happens in middle class districts, too, and in private schools, where students and parents have even more power.

    I know private school teachers who have been told point blank to raise the grades of kids with activist parents because “these are our clients.”

    You forget another reason districts are scared: Lawsuits. If this principal got angry and, perhaps understandably, hit back, he could put the district at risk. The onus is on employees to rise above the abuse in a confrontational situation. However, we are not robots, as some parents and students seem to believe.

  • Bill

    I believe that this is the norm not only at OUSD, but at most school districts with this push for parent involvemnt and rights.

    I recently spoke to an administrator who visited the California Departmenmt of Education. He showed up without an appointment and was not allowed past the lobby. He also had to give his ID, and they ran his name.

    Now, these bureaucrats are the same pushing for this parent involvment nonsense, only that many parents from the flatland schools could probably not even visit the decision makers. So push them to the schools where they can obstruct education. Such backward nonsense! And we wonder why American public education is in a crisis!

    I am appalled at the district supporting the parents over the children and the school. Mr. Franco has done what many others will never do, move a school forward. What is the message that will be sent to the kids?

    Mr. Franco, perhaps you should consider a charter school.

  • http://notapplicable Vernell Davis

    To loose Mr. Marco Franco as a principal or a teacher would be a absolute reverse situation for Mr. Franco and for the students. It would be TOTALLY INCORRECT to demote this dedicated educator. Why on why is it so hard to be fair. If the parents pushed him around why is his job in jeopardy?. Where is the fariness. The police saw the attitude of the parents and realized they were unreasonable and recommed the student be sent to another school for peace. Again where is the fairness in this incident for Mr. Marco Franco.

  • Mahlon Smith

    While I feel for Mr. Franco’s circumstances it goes without saying that what goes around comes around. As a public school administrator Mr. Franco has no doubt participated in many constructive discharges of employees who in their best effort to rally against unfair treatment were routed nonetheless. Karma has a way of catching up with people if not in this life the next, and Mr. Franco undoubtedly now has lamentations and has engaged in survival thinking as would any victim. He may be a star to some, but there is assuredly a group of victims in his midst who know him differently. That is not to say his current transgressors are a righteous bunch; they are just empowered at the moment as he has been in the past to do some damage to his career. So, why lament a fallen bully? Let him move on like so many of his predecessor victims have.

    For school administrators in the habit of following HR standards of routing employees at will, there will be a time when you fall administratively to your own games. Even with minimal proposed monetary sanctions district tactical policy will fail to immunize your jobs in a reversal of workplace ethics.

    Poor baby Mr. Franco. Live with it.

  • Mahlon Smith

    ^5 Nextset. Districts everywhere in California have populated the ranks with crony mentality staff. These folks are easy to spot in an interview, and those not willing to pony up their dignity to an abusive coworker or administrator are “constructively” terminated.

    In this sick scenario of politics, such lazy and inept staff milk the system for employment benefits all the while stagnating an otherwise potentially healthy educational environment, thereby preventing resources from being any use to anyone let alone a child’s education. Our education system is dysfunctional on this basis – no diversity.

    Bring back tenure protection for probationary teachers and legislate anti bullying laws in California and circumstances will change. At the present time teachers can be bullied into breaking the law which is the biggest game in HRs. While a tenured teacher could do damage to this system, most who reach that level of employment have been groomed to corruption, and those who have any fight in them have been routed out of the district. To make matters worse, teachers moving on to other districts in this mess are referred to as trash, and the state and NEA refers to this practice as passing the trash. What is actually taking place is quality people who could make a huge difference are lost in the shuffle. Educators know this. Districts know this. The legislature knows this. People need to know this to stop the mystification politics of really bad education in the hands of crony socialists.

    Want to make a difference in education? Advocate for anti bullying legislation and spread the word. Otherwise expect more of the same dilemma for your own children as they enter responsible lifestyles their own lives set aside at the whim of some self-aggrandizing Jabba the Hut that would fill his own belly at your expense.

    Here’s what district’s can currently get away with. A teacher in California can be terminated for: 1) not participating in head hunting schemes to place otherwise ordinary children into alternative federally funded programs without due process, 2) having knowledge that a district psychologist participated in sex abuse of several female children in order to avoid financial responsibility, 3) reporting Hughes Bill violations, 4) reporting when a male classified staff is stalking a female child or when a teacher dumps a desk full of books on the head of a handicapped child, 4) reporting institutional abuse where a child is dragged out of a classroom on the basis of a non-acute behavior and then placed in a time out room behind a closed door for three hours, 5) reporting when a child has been tied to his desk by a substitute teacher, etc. This is not even a scratch on the facet of our diamond of an education system in California.

    Ever wonder why the state is reluctant to legislate workplace bullying laws yet is demanding ever increasing performance through standards? Social regulation my friend. Tolerance of bullying makes one insensitive to the feelings of others, and the increase in demand for academic performance in this social milieu alienates human conscience. The outcome is an aggressive population loaded with nationalism that can be led anywhere by it’s nose, particularly into war. Your children are being recruited to walk blissfully into a future led by politicians who haven’t the slightest inclination to involve their own families in the destructive forces that they them selves have set in motion. You can stop this process.

    Remember, much as you would like things to change, this is an entrenched population that will only be displaced by legislation that stops workplace bullying, and this includes workplace bullying in every employment setting throughout the state.


  • Rhea

    Hi Mahlon…You are right on…

    I am a former OUSD educator and am currently working to put an end to workplace abuse (workplace incivility, workplace bullying, workplace mobbing, workplace violence, and workplace war)specifically in education workplaces.

    I also work with a citizen lobbying group (www.healthyworkplaceadvocates.org) in an effort to get Anti-Workplace Bullying legislation passed in California. I would like to talk more with you about this very real problem in education workplaces.

    I can be reached at rhea@theeducationworkplace.org

  • Rhea

    I apologize, the website stated for the California Healthy Workplace Advocates was incorrect. The website is http://www.bullyfreeworkplace.org.

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