I only had part of the story yesterday on the leadership changes at BEST High School, when I wrote that “This spring, families learned that Principal James Gray would be sent packing at the end of the school year.”
Apparently, for a period of time this spring, Gray and others thought he might be allowed to stay on the McClymonds campus, after all. But on June 13, after most of the students had scattered for summer vacation, Gray told his staff that he was being reassigned to another Oakland school. (Jumoke Hinton Hodge, school board member-elect and the wife of board member Greg Hodge, said Gray was being sent to be an assistant principal at Roosevelt Middle School in East Oakland).
Most families don’t yet know what has happened.
“I was wondering when people were going to find out that there was going to be a new principal,” Malcolm Gattis, 17, asked Alison McDonald, the district administrator who supervises BEST High School, during a meeting last night. “Everybody right now is thinking Mr. Gray is staying.”
A group of McClymonds students, parents and teachers aren’t ready to let Gray go. Tomorrow, they plan to urge the school board to delay the appointment of Karen Todd, who has been tapped to replace him. Todd is the director of Project SOAR and the former principal at Merritt Middle College, an alternative high school that closed in 2007, apparently because Merritt College wanted to expand into the area occupied by the high school.
Last night, in the West Oakland Library, I listened to the controlled anger and frustration from parents, students, teachers, an alumnus, and scholarship donors. Some said they felt the situation would have been handled differently in a more affluent, better organized community.
Mack has undergone sweeping changes in recent years, they said, and parents and teachers are too often left in the dark while big decisions are made.
It will be interesting to see if the Skyline principal search, and others, are/were handled in the same way. Who knows, maybe they’ll announce tomorrow night that Skyline already has a new principal.
How do you think parents and students should be involved in the principal hiring process (or in the highly confidential decision to fire a school’s leader)? How should the community wisdom and insight be brought to bear in such decisions, and at what point should it be left to the experts?
image from waɪ.tiː’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons