First the furor, then the silence

Tim White, left, showed Interim Superintendent Roberta Mayor around the district in July, when she first arrived in Oakland. About three months later, Mayor apparently asked White to resign, before changing her mind. TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO by Alison Yin

Not long ago, Oakland Unified’s assistant superintendent and facilities director Tim White thought he was out of a job.

According to White, an internal investigation into legal, construction-related contracts with the Bryant & Brown law firm initially concluded that he had entered into those agreements without the approval of the board or the state administrator, and he was asked to resign.

But White said that as soon as he showed Interim Superintendent Roberta Mayor the board minutes (which are posted online, for public access) that showed otherwise, the pressure suddenly lifted.

About two weeks ago, White said, he got a letter from the district saying that he failed to catch $20,000 in duplicate billing by the law firm, but that was it.

Now, he said, it’s almost like nothing ever happened. Except that it did.

“I would like for them to at least approach me and say, `Hey, I made a mistake,'” he told me today.

White — a seven-year employee — described the investigation, led by OUSD’s General Counsel Deb Cooksey, as “bizarre” and “a self-inflicted black eye” for the district’s public image. (Bob Gammon wrote about the investigation in detail about a month ago in the East Bay Express.)

I have yet to hear further developments on the aspect of the investigation involving the law firm’s work, though I’ve been asking. The school board had referred the case to the district attorney for an impartial, third-party review, but as of late last month, the DA had yet to accept it.

Cooksey’s job was posted on EDJOIN about three weeks ago, but maybe that’s just a coincidence.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Turner

    What else is new? It’s the good people who are made to suffer in Oakland. I’m surprised he has taken it for so long.


  • Irene

    Katy –

    thanks for continuing to inquire about this situation. I believe that Mr. White has been mistreated. The least the administration could do is acknowledge their error. I have written letters to ask if people are monitoring the situation to a few people on the school board and to Sheila Jordan, but no one has responded.

  • Nextset

    And no one from OUSD is likely to ever respond. For the umteenth time – personnel matters cannot be discussed publicly. We may never know what really happens in these instances. And that’s the way it goes.

  • district employee

    I think Deb’s job was posted because she was initially appointed as “interim” when her predecessor left at the end of the 2006-07 school year. The posting is indicative of a permanent hiring process because she’s probably still technically interim though it’s been over a year, not necessarily her performance.

  • maat

    Excellent General Counsel is needed at this time in the district. We are regaining local governance and we must negotiate with a new Superintendent.

    The time is now for stable on board counsel!

    Demand it!