Last 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