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Meeting tonight to discuss new principal at BEST

BEST, one of two small high schools on West Oakland’s McClymonds campus, has had two principals (at least) since it opened in 2005.

This spring, families learned that Principal James Gray would be sent packing at the end of the school year, and that the school would not have an incoming ninth-grade class this fall.

Those changes, combined with the low enrollment at the schools, seem to indicate the possibility of a merger of BEST and EXCEL. There are strong feelings on both sides of that debate. (Kizmet, a middle school once housed on Mack’s campus, closed in 2007, less than two years after it opened.)

I don’t know if the district has chosen a new leader, as some of the parent e-mails I’ve read suggest, but maybe we’ll all find out tonight, at a meeting to discuss BEST’s leadership. The meeting is at 6 p.m. tonight at the West Oakland Branch Library, 1801 Adeline St.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Marilyn

    Great meeting and looking forward to final outcome. It is important that the entire West Oakland Community becomes engaged in our schools. We need to become engaged starting at the Pre-School level through High School. I really do cherish all of my educational memories and it is important that we make sure our children will cherish these same memories as well..it is still fresh in my memory – bake sales, family nights, talent shows and the carnivals – sometimes we need to go back to the old ways!

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  • Malcolm

    That was a very informal meeting. I now know more about what’s going on with our school now and I hope that you guys keep me posted about upcoming meetings.

  • Ralston

    If OUSD is working to become a better school district then they should let the parents and the community know what is going on before decision’s are made. At the meeting OUSD didn’t think about how this would affect the community. See you all at future meeting’s.

  • Ernest Carroll

    After this meeting I came away very upset. I heard comments like he must have did something wrong why else would they do this to him which to me is a comment based in bigotry or just simply being totally naive to the mentallity of people and how it affects administration decision especially if someone over you has something against you, or they did to clean the books by having a fall guy. I felt that a man brought in from Katrina with no background as to the inner workings of the district right in the middle of the budget crisis and the state taking over the schools. He new no ome and really should have had his back, should have been looking out for him, instead they have him to fire people on his staff because there is a shortage of money and then when there is a problem behind it want to dump him.

    The meeting was extremely revealing, especially the part where Alison McDonald admitted that she was responsible for that decision. My question is why tell us this is a done deal when the board has not voted on it yet, that is confusing to me. This is why the process of hiring and firing was part of the agenda of discussion, but that was so much more confusing then the budget thatit is no wonder the schools are suffering. I truely believe that even the district does not understand their own policies. They seem to change every few much or act someones whim.

    I truely feel sorry that the man had to come across the country to recieve this type of hospitallity. Culinary class where they never fixed the kitchen for them to learn. Technology, carpentry etc all lacking money and we want to hold him responsible for our administration not funding him so he becomes the fall guy.

    I will close, but it is not the end of this topic, we are going to protest the closed session tomorrow at 3:30 2nd ave. This is a terrible injustice and should not be allowed. They tried to fire him only to find out that they made a mistake and had to rescind that decision because they were legally incorrect so now they make this move to move him out of the campus. Sounds like, smells like feels like a get back type of move something personal not professional because if he did something wrong fire him if it is not enough to fire him then they need to work with him. Bring him up through the processes of this new district she should have helped him to be successful. He saved my boy now he is going to University of Washington, my other son was getting suspended all the time, now he has settled down and is becoming more focus in his studies. Which the students that showed up spoke so highly of the man especially the young woman who was an Excel student and graduated with honors stated her mom was going to move her out of the district because her Principle who she stated tells her to make appointments to speak with her when she was in an emotional crisis, Mr James Gray put on hold a parent meeting to take time with her to encourage her and support her. She tried to transfer but they would not let her but she was still able to come to him if she needed guidence so her mother let her stay at the school. There were many more stories from the students that make you wonder how are they measuring this man, by what gauge are they using. Who did they talk to, were was the support from the people who hired him and put him here over two years ago. This man wants to stay when we teachers and principles quiting and leaving, this is a very strange situation. Hope that people and media come out to witness history. I believe we have to stand up for what is right and to fire or move him without due process and community, parents, teachers, and student imput. So far everyone says he stays.