Crocker principal quits before he gets started

I’ve heard of principals quitting weeks before the start of school, but the door to the front office at Crocker Highlands Elementary is revolving so fast it might come unhinged.

Benjamin Redmond — who was recently hired to replace outgoing principal Chelda Ruff — quit yesterday, less than three weeks before the start of school. He was previously the principal at Lafayette Elementary School in West Oakland.

Here’s how Redmond announced the news to Crocker staff:

Hello Staff

As of August 5, 2008 I have resigned from Oakland Unified School District.
I thank you for the enthusiasm and support, but I feel that it is in my best
interest to leave OUSD at this time. I apologize for the timing,
incovenience and the strain that this will cause, but I feel for all parties
that this the best solution. I have thought long and hard about this
decision and I make it with complete confidence. A representative from OUSD
will be contacting you regarding the replacement.

I left a message on Redmond’s phone; his voice mail greeting said he was out of the country until today (apparently doing some serious thinking).

Many parents aren’t yet aware of the development. One mom in the know, Melissa Luna, said everyone had been looking forward to working with Redmond — who, she said, “seemed like he really had a grip on what’s going on.”

“I think it’s absolutely disgraceful,” Luna said. “It’s a lousy thing to do. If he had any inkling of this, he should have stayed where he was.”

Katy Murphy

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

  • David

    Teachers are required to submit a letter of resignation by June 30 (OUSD); or they risk putting their -teaching credential- in limbo. Administrators should have the same requirement, to decide where they are going to be, just like classroom teachers.

    I agree that this guy, leaving at the last minute, is truly “disgraceful”.

    I hope OUSD and our school board does not allow this gentleman, another chance to serve our children.

  • John

    In 1999 the new Superintendent at that time threatened teachers that he would personally action against their credential if they left their OUSD assignment on the eve of a new school year. I guess what’s good for the goose isn’t good for those with executive privilege.

    Carolyn Getridge, a OUSD Superintendent during the 1990’s, left the district before the start of a school year, and the raising of her curtain on district reforms, to make twice her current salary representing the interests of a text book company.

    For too many OUSD top to bottom administrators it seems there’s NO shame without consequence.

    In fairness I’d like to know the rest of this guy’s story, which he seeming has no interest (or it’s not in his best interest) to share. Perhaps, as established by Precedence, OUSD “executive privilege” doesn’t require this Princ of Croc to give a reason?

  • Nextset

    I think we once had a thread about personnel issues – oh, it was when the student got Tasered perhaps when participating in an impromptu student demonstration because a school employee got let go. My opinion is that the schoolboy should have stayed out of the whole affair. It’s not his battle and it never will be.

    Same story new day. People leave jobs and jobs terminate people for a variety of reasons, some not forseeable by either side. When these things happen, both the employee and the employer can’t get in public discussions of their version of what happened and why. It’s just not legal/a good idea, for anyone.

    One thing you can take to the bank – people act in their own self interest. If the man says he has to leave now – I’m sure he has a good reason. If he could arrange his life with perfect timing he would. Life often doesn’t work that way.

    Wish him well and move on. Be grateful it’s not you. I had a jury trial set for next month, and a necesary witness just got a Cancer Diagnosis – is heading for urgent serious surgery and chemo and radiation. I’ve worked with this person for nearly 10 years. We have had to reschedule the trial and find a replacement witness, and this could cost us the case. There’s nothing to do but try to hold it together. I’m not going to bother my witness and demand they crawl in and work on my case – It’s just over. We’ll manage and so will the school. Life is like this some time.

  • John

    Yes, but if he’s leaving to accept a school district employment opportunity elsewhere, the hypocrisy standard exemplified by a number of past ‘high to low’ ranking departing administrators for GREENER ($$$) pastures applies.

    Had he even disclosed he was running out on his contractual responsibilities for personal or family reasons that would be one thing. The fact he doesn’t suggests another – giving cause, without further clarification, that credence be given to David’s well articulated position.

    It would be interesting to know if this gentleman has accepted a position elsewhere, and if so was any action taken by OPS to put his (Administrative Services) Credential in limbo (as ot would for a teacher)? Past related in-actions by the OPS administration suggest not.

  • hills parent

    It is not unusual for school administrators to leave their positions abruptly in the summer. This is common, since many district administrative positions are posted in the summer due to sudden retirements and resignations. Other school districts also experience this practice.

  • Jim Farwell

    I know and have enormous respect for Mr. Redmond. I worked with him while he was a principal at Lafayette Elementary School. I found him to be a sensitive, caring, concerned administrator who had the best interests of his children, staff and community formost in his mind. He is a tireless worker and if anything
    goes well beyond the call of duty. Unless we have walked in his shoes, I would suggest suspending all criticism of his leaving Crocker.

  • rocky

    But what is it about Crocker? (I say this as a parent with a child entering Crocker this Fall.) Are we just unlucky time and again in who we pick to serve as principal, or is there some reason the school is unable to hold on to people in this role?

    It seems like Crocker is the cute girl who for some unknown reason can never get a date?????? Any ideas on what is behind this rash of departures?

  • Momma Bear

    I have a child at Lafayette. Mr. Redmond is a wonderful individual who made great changes at Lafayette. When i learned he was leaving Lafayette for Crocker Highland i was crushed, but i understood and respected his wishes. I sugest john does the same. He could have just gone to central office and submit his resignation and leave them to deal with Crocker Highland staff. But he didn’t. He owes NO ONE a disclosure as to why he is leaving. Does he or will he get another job, of course. The man has to eat. But John, i have news for you, life happens!!!!. Things don’t aways go as plan, lets hope you don’t learn that the hard way. Besides, if Crocker is such a wonderful school, you guys should have no problem taking another principal from another school. I can assure you he didn’t plan on doing this.

  • Jim Farwell

    Hugs to Mamma Bear!!!!

  • John

    Great Jim, Momma, & Hills Parent,

    So if a teacher is loved and respected and a great person he/she should ALSO be excused from their
    contractual obligation – just like a loved, respected, great administrator.

    Hugs to Jimmy Bear!!!

    P.S. Crocker may be the “cute girl” who keeps losing her date, but it’s the cute children, parents, & teachers who are getting the shaft. By the way, has anyone learned if there’s a new lucky (school) girl in the attractive Mr. Redmond’s life!? Anyone here who reads the educrat gossip rags, be sure & post if ya find out. Redmond (according to his answering machine) just got back being “out of the country,” maybe he met a new school (girl) overseas?

  • hills parent


    If a teacher or administrator wants to leave, why should they be forced to remain. Is that what we want, someone who wants to leave?

  • John

    If teachers were allowed to break their contracts and leave as freely as administrators demonstrably do that would be one thing, but such is not the case. in addition to this Crocker administror leaving for possibly another school district you can now add Fred Brill, a down town OUSD administrator who is now jumping from the OUSD ship to take over Lafayette’s School District ship.

    Perhaps you should attend an OUSD board meeting and ask the board why district administrators are allowed to leave (after July 1st) without threat to their credentials while teachers are not.

    David (#1) says it best:

    “Teachers are required to submit a letter of resignation by June 30 (OUSD); or they risk putting their -teaching credential- in limbo. Administrators should have the same requirement, to decide where they are going to be, just like classroom teachers.”

  • Jim Farwell

    The notion that a teacher or administrator can know on June 30th what might present itself in their life is an artificial creation of someone who had to come up with an arbitrary date. Why not July 17th or July 25th. I know of an individual who lives in Marin County. This person applied for a position 10 minutes from her door. The job wasn’t posted until July 15th. This person was hired for the position with a significant increase in salary along with the elimination of a 40 minute commute, bridge tolls and having to put up with Oakland’s craziness. Because this person did not notify Oakland by June 30th they would not allow her to take the new, better for her, position. Then, the next year the director of special education, Phyllis Harris, left the district in November. Now John, what is wrong or right about this picture?

  • John

    Thank you Jim! You provide another excellent case study further proving that OUSD ‘Executive privilege’ means special privilege employment flexibility (freedom) for its administrators, the PRIVILEGED FEW!

  • Crocker mom

    Per Momma Bear: “if Crocker is such a wonderful school, you guys should have no problem taking another principal from another school”

    Why the animosity? He applied for the job. He left Lafayette. Now he left Crocker.

    I’m sure he’s a great guy and that he had a good reason. Crocker will do fine during the search, thanks to our former principal who is stepping in. It’s just inconvenient that he resigned at a time when potential candidates have made commitments they plan to keep for the coming school term. Just very bad timing. But like the lawyer who commented, you just adapt and work with what you have.

  • Nextset

    Workers of the World, Unite!

    As far as I’m concerned a teacher has a perfect right to walk out of a bad school at any time for a safe and sane position elsewhere – and no “credential” action can be possible where the loser school failed to provide a decent place to work.

    This is all rhetorical, there’s no fact pattern here involving staff being threatened and their car vandalized, etc at work.

    Of course the administrators walk whenever it makes sense to do so. It’s the teachers that have low status and low pay jobs so of course they are the most under the whip. I suppose that’s life. It’s up to the teachers to organize and fight for themselves. If they don’t get it as to where they stand in the food chain, I refer them to Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and what happened to that horse at the end of the story…

    Not that teachers aren’t low status and the administration more important people – hence the differences in the way they are treated. The teachers decided to become teachers so they should expect such treatment. But they can fight it more effectively if they have a strong union.

    Unions are important and the workers need to seriously involve themselves in their unions.

  • http://none Nancy

    We never know who is who, or do we? Nepotisim is another element of non-working wealth and privilege – executive or otherwise. Why doesn’t someone get the former State Administrator’s Inspector General’s friend from Philadelphia to research this?

  • John

    Ah yes! The unholy UNION. That’ll solve the problem.