Top-level OUSD staffer leaves for the Island

Oakland’s search for a permanent superintendent is underway, but Kirsten Vital — an associate superintendent and the district’s Chief of Community Accountability — won’t stick around to see her fourth boss in three years.

Vital has been tapped to run the nearby 10,000-student Alameda school district, replacing retiring Superintendent Ardella Dailey.

Vital came to OUSD nearly three years ago and has since been a central figure in school reform efforts, including the “Portfolio Management” strategy, where schools are assigned various colors (red=bad; blue=good).

If you’ve attended any remotely high-profile meeting at a school in the past two-plus years, you’ve probably seen her, or even listened to one of her PowerPoint presentations.

Vital will likely stay in OUSD at least until the winter break. In early- to mid-December, decisions will be made about the future of Peralta Creek Middle School (Calvin Simmons) and BEST High School (McClymonds).

I’ve asked how the district plans to fill the vacancy, and by when, and I’ll keep you posted.

You may have seen this news release on the blog last night about Vital’s appointment. It was posted by Alameda school board trustee Mike McMahon.

I hear that Matt Hill, the Executive Officer for Strategic Projects under the no-longer-really-funded Expect Success initiative, has also taken a job in another school district.

Do you think the impending change in administration and/or the full return of local control will cause massive turnover at the top?

Katy Murphy

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

  • Public School Fan

    All I know is that Kirsten has been intelligent, reasonable, and thoughtful in what she has put forward during her tenure at OUSD. The district is much worse off without her. In a district that almost always opts for a short-term band-aid type of fix to problems and which OUSD staff always seem to seek, Kirsten seemed to want to provide a long-term plan and analysis for those problems even when she wasn’t encouraged to do so by her superiors (thanks so much, Superintendents for providing such great leadership!). She really tried to do the right thing and not just the most politically expedient thing.
    Alameda’s gain is OUSD’s very great loss!

  • Jim Mordecai

    Public School Fan:

    I am interested in your criticism of Ms. Vital’s superiors. It is confusing when you use the word Superintendents as Oakland has only had one Superintendent, Ms. Mayor in 5 years and she has only recently arrived.

    Did you mean State Administrators instead of Superintendent as the superiors that wanted short term solutions?

    Jim Mordecai

  • Jim Mordecai


    Last Board Meeting it was announced the name of the new Chief Financial Officer for OUSD replacing interim retiree CFO Leon Glaster. I didn’t get the name but it is a male that is suppose to be in place at the next School Board meeting.

    The OUSD strategy team is taking a dual hit and I expect more members of the strategy team are circulating their resumes. The fact is a new permanent OUSD superintendent will decide on whom they want on their team.

    My sense of the situation is that interim Superintendent Mayor’s power and responsibility is growing prior to the school board regaining its full power. She has impacted long term planning by her taking a stand on Wednesday regarding Results Based Budgeting (RBB) that put aside Professor Ouchi’s radical UCLA management school concept of school sites buying all serves from central administration but she endorsed providing to school sites maximum District dollars while maintaining minimum standards for all school sites. Example used was not letting school sites the ability to cut custodial services to the point they are dirty.

    The high level bureaucrats will either gain Ms. Mayor’s confidence or look for other employment.

    Meanwhile, Oakland, and all California school district, are facing the huge Governor’s mid-year cuts without the ability to lay off teachers to make the cuts. The decisions for getting through the year in Oakland will fall on the leadership of Ms. Mayor because the State Administrator Matthews has nothing to gain and everything to loose by taking on this huge problem.

    Jim Mordecai

  • another hills parent

    I wish her luck in her new position and hope that she is more responsive to parents who call her than she has been in Oakland. I only had negative experiences with her office the last two years.

  • concerned mom

    I just want to say how much I agree with Public School Fan– we’ll miss Kirsten, and her thoughtful approaches to the problems facing Oakland’s schools. Alameda is lucky to have her!

  • Public School Fan

    Mr. Moredcai,
    I used the term “superintendents” rather loosely to mean both the parade of state administrators and superintendent.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Public School Fan:

    Thanks for clarifying.

    And, can you provide an example of Kirsten Vital’s long term thinking verses her superiors short sightedness?

    Jim Mordecai

  • former hills parent

    I would also be interested to hear about her long-term thinking, since she did not appear to do much sharing of her thoughts during the kindergarten overcrowding crisis in 07-08.

  • Tracy

    She has been officially assigned.
    Email came from OUSD.

  • Joe Public

    Kirsten didn’t really do much for the district. She always came across as “bothered” as to how things were and acted as if it was a nuisance doing her job. Kind of came across as an elitist.

    I would also like to know what she did that was so great. Another example of someone that flew into Oakland, joined the rest of the executive bureaucrats, used our school district to be labeled as a reformer, and left us after collecting in the six figures annually with the same quagmire.

    Real reformer? Yeah right!

  • Jane Pub

    I too agree that Kirsten did very little for the district.

  • http://ousd cynthia

    She did NOTHING. Just smiled pretty.

  • Nextset

    Joe Public: You have really hit the nail on the head. While OUSD maintains it’s reputation as a Ghetto Gladiator School – which SF Unified doesn’t – we have a parade of highly paid and not-that-old administrators helicoptering in from wherever who stay awhile and then go, leaving OUSD the same or worse. And never a politically incorrect word is spoken.

    OUSD has a lot of students, staff and real estate and is capable of establishing an academic program such as Lowell High School. If OUSD had one academically selective campus it could change some of the atmosphere of decay. But they just don’t want to do so. I think that is an injustice to all the people within OUSD’s service area.

    Brave New World.

    I just got my copy of “The Bell Curve” off the shelf to give to a college student to use. I noticed the cover again – and was reminded of it’s premise that US Society is breaking down due to government policy into clans (closed societies) based on cognitive ability. I can see this happening and it is not the US people wanted US society to be. This is not a good thing.

  • Nextset

    typo, 2nd line from bottom,
    … it is not what the US people wanted US society to be. …

  • harlemmoon

    The list is endless regarding highly paid OUSD bureaucrats who pretended to give a damn – that is, until the next best job offer came along.
    I’ve repeatedly asked what if anything Vince Matthews, Kim Statham, Kirsten Vital, Javetta Robinson might have done in their time here to warrant the salivating employers who chase after them.
    When you figure it out, please let the rest of us know!

  • turner

    Javetta Robinson was fired. She did not leave voluntarily. Some people give a damn. She did. In fact, having worked at OUSD, I can tell you many of the workers there give a damn. But, like you and me, they are powerless to do anything. The question is…do their bosses give a damn as much as they do?


  • harlemmoon

    Ah, I see. Thanks for the clarification.
    How ironic; those who care are booted while the hustlers are continuously offered seats at the table.