Skyline teachers and parents to help choose their new principal

At a meeting this summer, a small group of parents, teachers and students from West Oakland was simply given the name of BEST High School’s new principal.

It’s a different story for the much larger and more organized high school in the redwoods. Chris Dobbins, the school board member who represents Skyline High School, said that the district was allowing people at the school to interview and rank the candidates, as schools throughout the city once did.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night, teachers, parents, students — and anyone else with a stake in the selection of Skyline High School’s new principal — meet in the high school library to elect the members of a 13-person hiring committee. Dobbins said the committee will include four parents (one from four different parent groups), three teachers, two students, two non-teaching staff members, one administrator who is not at Skyline, and one community member.

The goal is to hire someone by the end of July, Dobbins said. After the committee ranks the candidates, Superintendent Roberta Mayor — who started this week — makes the final decision.

Dobbins says he was told the district doesn’t have the money to do this everywhere. To be fair, OUSD’s other principal selection process (the one used at BEST and other schools) also involves Oakland parents and staff. But those people help select candidates for a general pool, not necessarily for their own schools.

Do you think Skyline’s size justifies special treatment, or that other schools should have the opportunity to undergo the same process?

In case you were wondering, I’ve been asking for a list of new principals and vacancies for the fall. I was supposed to have it today, but I’m told it will now be ready on Monday. I’ll post the information as soon as I get it.

Katy Murphy

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

  • OUSD Mom


    Did you know that Redwood Heights will be having the same type of meeting on Tuesday evening? The principal there is also leaving. According to Craig’s list and the HR Dept. of OUSD, there are vacancies at Redwood Heights, Lincoln, Tilden, Garfield, Piedmont, RISE as well as Skyline. Lazear just got a new principal. Maybe it is time for downtown to let the principals stay at their sites and work with staff and students instead of calling them downtown almost every week for meetings. I know at my daughter’s school the principal is gone on an average of 2.5 days a month for “mandatory” meetings. The demands on them from downtown with reports and meetings does not allow them to “do” education with their teachers.

    Another thing I would like to ask any of the OUSD board members is why are we pushing our students through in math. Why do they have to do Alegebra and Geometry in 7th and 8th grades and then not have that count toward the math required for high school graduation?

  • Katy Murphy

    Here’s the Craig’s list page that lists the principal vacancies:

    So Redwood Heights parents and teachers will be involved in interviewing candidates as well?

  • hills parent

    Let’s make sure that these new Principals are curriculum leaders and know the ed code. Parents should not have to train them. Let’s get qualified school leaders. There should be questions that demonstrate whether candidates are knowledgeable in curriculum, budget, ed code, and instructional strategies. Touchy-feely candidates are wonderful, but let’s not base decisions solely on whether a candidate is friendly. Let’s find true instructional leaders.

  • A Different Hills Parent

    Curriculum, budget, ed code, instructional strategies, and how to influence change and action in the bureaucratic dysfunctional behemoth that is OUSD. Experience ‘managing up’.

    Not that I’m cynical.

  • Realist

    re: “Do you think Skyline’s size justifies special treatment, or that other schools should have the opportunity to undergo the same process?”

    all schools should have this opportunity, it should be standard operating procedure. it is likely that OUSD, like the City of Oakland, has not been hiring the most qualified applicants, but defaulting to the “friends and family” mode of making hiring decisions. we cannot afford to have less than competitive individuals assigned to jobs based on who they know and not on what they know. the more transparent and objective the process, the better off we all will be.

  • John

    Hills Parent: Skyline’s new Principal should also know the penal code.

  • Skyline teacher

    Skyline faculty, especially a particular teacher, pressed hard for this level of involvement in the selection process. It was pointed out to Dobbins and the board by these teachers that the current hiring practices went against established board policy, and since the board is back in business, shouldn’t those policies apply.

    As for size mattering, I suppose it has to. Remember, about one in every five high school students goes to Skyline — the stakes are very high. Best has 85% fewer students than Skyline — the demands on a principal are accordingly much steeper.

    Couple more thoughts:

    — Skyline only has three Assistant Principals, which seems to few for a school with its population and problems. Department heads are given no clear responsibilities or significant compensation.

    — Clearly, I’m biased, but is making just 3 out of 13 stakeholders teachers seem kind of strange to anybody? Fewer than parents? Only one more than students? Five out of 15 would seem reasonable.

    — John, you’re sense of humor is mean and not funny.

  • OUSD Mom

    Redwood Heights meeting is Wednesday, July 9 at 6PM in the school auditorium! It will be interesting. Are we as parents really going to have a say or is this just a smoke screen leading us to believe we will have a say? My feeling is OUSD already knows who they want at these schools. Lazear has a new principal and I do not know if their community had anything to do with it.

  • John

    Skyline Teacher: The facts are mean and not funny. However, I agree my (above) comment was flip and requires a more thoughtful attitude.

    Here it is: One of the three principal positions you mention should be filled with a knowledgeable (non-teaching credentialed) person from law enforcement. A separate ‘cell block’ security area should be constructed for the detention of suspected penal code violators. Staff responsible for guarding detainees would report directly to the principal of law enforcement. Students interested in a career in law enforcement could get experience and academic credit for doing fingerprinting, detainee data base management, etc. Skyline graduates with such experience could be priority candidates, if they so elect, for the Oakland Police Academy, a kin to students in ROTC getting a leg up on their military careers.

    The potential and for training and future opportunities in law enforcement are limitless! It would also better afford motivated hard working students a more tranquil environment in which to academically excel without being distracted by or stabbed by the budding dregs of society.

    Sorry about being flip Skyline Teacher, I hope this clears up any misunderstanding you might have about my good intentions and affection for, and devotion to, my old alma mater and its harassed and inconvenienced hill area neighborhood. It’s important that people like me in case I decide to move back to Oakland and run for police commissioner. Can I count on your vote?

  • Another skyline teacher

    John, Thank god you left oakland. Please stay away. Your cynicism is a disease.

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  • Nextset

    Skyline Teachers: Whenever I deal with liberals they call plain talking or reality “cynicism”. You see, they think God is going to come down here and magically fix the mess they have created with their behavior and their values.

    John’s comments may sound flip to you. It would. You preside over failure factories. People like me often use gallows humor in dealing with crash landings with the clients we deal with.

    In point of fact the OUSD principals could use a working knowledge of the California Penal Code. They are grooming students, especially the black students, for prison. To this I might add that a working knowledge of communicable diseases wouldn’t hurt either for the same reasons.

    If only things were different.

  • Another Skyline Teacher


    Just good ol’ plain talking racism, that’s all it is.

  • Nextset

    Another: Do you think anybody is impressed by your complaining about “racism”? Do you really?? I don’t care. People don’t care. All I care about is results. Results for the Black Students and their families (whether they like it or not) and results for the new Hispanic super majority that is quickly coming. The white students have fled OUSD for the most part. And in fact are fleeing California.

    The economy that is unfolding is sweeping away underperforming blacks (and anybody that acts the same). In your failure factory black “graduates” are having trouble getting an honest job that supports a family – or didn’t you notice. And around half of the black students in Urban America that start 1st grade are gone before 12th and don’t even “graduate”. And it’s no secret why. Your failure factory school has failed them. Most of them could have been saved from what is happening had they been properly schooled instead of spoiled.

    And you say it’s “racism” to call out the emperor has no clothes. It falls on my deaf ears. I’m black – and my white co-workers sure don’t give a damn. Your Hispanic neighbors don’t seem to be crying “racism” as they take control of the labor unions and the civil service machines – not to mention the service jobs in California.

    Back to the thread – I want principals in place like the old school principals who look at these kids and see soon-to-be employees fitting into the economy of the bay area (and sees the MINORITY of school kids that can fit into higher education). I want Principals who will do that it takes to force these square kids to fit into the round holes of the workforce.

    That doesn’t mean making the students or their families happy or comfortable. That’s nice if that happens but it’s purely optional.

    And getting rid of loser liberal instructors and replacing them with teachers that fit into the program on not being a failure factory goes with the territory.

    And one of the cardinal issues with “liberal” is teaching and whining to the students that they are victims and that those who don’t cater to them are racists. Or that “racism” has anything to do with the failure of the student to rise economically. Racism doesn’t work that way. Except for loser liberals.

  • oakteach

    Stop feeding the trolls. Responding reinforces their belief that their unfounded opinions actually mean something.

  • Lincoln Teacher

    For Lincoln School, our community information meeting was last Friday, July 10, 6-7 pm. For Staff, we met on the same day from 4 pm. In both meetings, representatives were selected to be on Performance Base Interview panel on Tuesday the 15th , and Matching Interviews on Wednesday the 16 th. Then candidates selected will be recommended by the selection committee to the Superintendent.

  • http://contracostatimes.com Lincoln School Teacher

    Even though meetings were held for the teachers and parents, many teachers still feel skeptical about the openness and fairness of the hiring process.

  • May

    I am going in to my Junior year at Skyline, and I just happened to be doing some research for my AP English homework. I ran across this conversation. You people have good arguements and here are some things that I think you should considered. I assume this would help coming from a student.

    – Last year at the begining of the school year, me and some other sophmores were put into an AP Chemistry class. Sophmores are not allowed to take Ap chem. SO why was I put there if they knew that? I put in numerous class change request and ended up sitting in the back of Ms. Mchughs 6th period Ap Chem. class for 5 weeks.
    Thanks to Mr. Miller, (who is not even a counselor by the way) I was put into a regular Chemisty class.

    -At the begining of the year my schedule also had about
    3 teachers with the name vacancy. That could not just be a strange coincidence.

    – I also got put into Ms. Thompsons over occupied English class. It was so full that people we sitting on counters and the floor. She was also one of the most incompetent teachers I’ve ever had to deal with. I learned how to capitalize in 1st grade. No offense or anything. Just the truth. Then I got switched into Mr. Konigsbergs English class. He was worse than Ms. Thompson. I got to waste a WHOLE ENTIRE year just sitting and talking and eating. People walked out of his class 15 minutes early. The whole class would have a community test taking and tell one person to do one part of the test and then they will switch.
    He also liked to give the answers to the test sometimes. When students would complain to the counselors and staff. NOTHING was done to help the situation.

    -I also got a Geometry teacher that left for a month and then made us take a final. I didn’t recognize anything on the final, and yes I failed it.
    The class was filled with freshman and had two or three sophmores in it. We had to take CAHSEE last year and we didn’t recieve ANY preperation for it at all. I personaly struggle at math in general and I get to take the math portion of CAHSEE again next year.
    Fortunately I passed the English portion with a perfect score. No thanks to Mr. Konigsberg of course.

    -The people I would actually like to thank for being helpful is Mr. Miller, the (counselor?), and my AP World History teacher, Ms. Morici.

    I thought this might help you guys narrow down on the really important problems so you could have a more clear vision on what you want to happen at Skyline High School. Any school for that matter.
    Students come first. No matter what race or gender. If you look at the student body as seperated people it makes it harder to accomodate for everyone.

    But that’s just a student speaking.

  • Nextset

    May: It’s important to hear these stories about what like is like in OUSD “schools”. Any material you and your classmates can give us about like at the Alma Mater is helpful to our discussions about educational policy and OUSD in particular.

    One wuestion – have you compared your experiences with Skyline High to similar students going to Piedmont High, and High Schools in Contra Costa County? And have you discussed with your parents your experiences and whatever else you have learned about other schools in the Bay Area? have your parents discussed your experience with Skyline compared to their own at whatever high school they went to?

  • Nextset

    question – typos…