Part of the Bay Area News Group

A memo, and more details, from Skyline principal

By Katy Murphy
Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 at 9:20 pm in high schools, investigations, leadership changes, people, students.

It’s been a long day, so I’ll let an old-fashioned newspaper story tell you what I learned about the allegations against Skyline High School Principal Al Sye — from Sye, himself.

Well, indirectly.

It’ll be in the paper tomorrow, but you can read it here.

photo courtesy of The Skyline Oracle

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  • Nextset

    An interesting story. And an old story. I have said over and over that it’s not appropriate for us as bloggers to get involved in personnel matters unless the subject publicly opens the door by asking for our comments or appeals for intervention – and even then, the school district cannot publicly comment on personnel matters.

    It’s too bad if Skyline has revolving door principals and it’s really too bad if OUSD’s possible obsession with minority hires gets them into this revolving door. But short of replacing the administration – there’s nothing we can do about it. When we elect school board members who appoint an administration (assuming they are running the place and not a state receiver) you have to let them do their jobs. Hiring and firing and assignments are the jobs of OUSD administration and they can’t do that job in public. Personnel matters are private – there’s too much sensitive info involved to have a full public discussion.

    If management & the board says this man must go, he is out. Send in his replacement. And if management cannot find somebody who is stable and qualified to fill a simple high school principal’s job (in this job market!) you need new management who can.

  • Sue

    Well, cr@p!

    He’s the third principal in my son’s three years at Skyline. And we liked him and believed he was doing a good job. The school seemed more stable and under control than in the past couple of years.

    Now we’re likely to have a forth new principal for my son’s senior year. HRUMPH!

    Free advise for the school board / adminstration:

    Younger son is in his first year of middle school, and in about two years, our family will choose his high school. We considered it an easy decision – one we’d already made when we bought our house (within Skyline’s boundaries) seven years ago – but we may be rethinking which high school he should attend. If Skyline can’t keep a principal for more than a year, they aren’t likely to be our first choice.

  • cranky teacher

    Uh-oh, Nextset said it’s not appropriate to comment on, better shut down the thread, Katy!

    Seriously, though, principal is a public leadership position like city manager, and it is perfectly legitimate for those with knowledge of the situation to comment.

    Not being at Skyline, I will only say this: When Al Davis keeps firing coaches every year, I blame the person who is hiring them in the first place.

  • nvt

    I have to object to the line: “simple high school principal’s job.” There is nothing simple about that job! School administrators are always pulled between the district and their school staff, and have to walk a tight-wire between the two. Of course then there are the students and parents who have a range of needs, demands, etc. It is a heck of a job, no matter the school, but especially at a large high school. It does not surprise me that the job at Skyline is is tough one, but I am disappointed that once again there are problems.

  • Skyline Student

    If one takes a closer look and analyzes this situation, it is quite obvious that this controversy and the subsequent investigation are nothing more than a reenactment of the Salem Witch Hunt, except set in a contemporary urban high school. Mr. Albert Sye is an upstanding and reputable leader in the Skyline community, and this campaign to tarnish his good name and oust him from the very position that he had earned based on merit is uncalled for.

    In many ways, the Oakland Unified School District’s administration resembles the management of Al Davis’ Oakland Raiders organization in terms of the way they handled the head coaching situation with Lane Kiffin last year. Team owner Al Davis kept strict control of the team and did not even allow the coach to bring in his own staff or develop his own game plans without input from upper management, later firing him without giving the man a fair chance to prove himself. A similar circumstance is taking place right now with Principal Sye, who has not been given enough authority over the management of his own school, and as of now, has to face all of these trivial allegations made up by those who want to see him gone, due to their personal vendettas against this outstanding individual.

    The man made an honest mistake regarding the incident that occurred at the hotel in New Mexico, and has fully reimbursed the student activity funds once he realized this minor blunder. A small issue like this should not cost Principal Sye his job, and in fact, this seems to be blown way out of proportions. These sexual harassment charges are absolutely absurd, as well. Though Sye may be a bit antiquated in his views concerning women, he certainly did not, and would not, conduct himself in an overtly sexist or misogynistic that warrants these outrageous charges. Furthermore, calling an individual who was acting unprofessional a mildly derogatory term is not at all that serious of a problem. Though Sye might have gone a bit far with his assertion, he was simply telling the truth, and apparently, this person could not take constructive criticism.

    These allegations were exaggerated and blown way out of proportions by Sye’s opponents in the district’s administration(who most likely antagonize this honest man due to petty and trivial reasons). Sye deserves to remain as the principal at Skyline High School, as well as a fair chance with a fair degree of autonomy to prove himself. If he turns out to be incompetent, which is doubtful, that might be a reason to release him from his position. However, taking an hardworking and dedicated person’s job away from them for personal reasons is unfair, and unprofessional in many ways for those who are taking charge in this witch hunt.

  • Pamela

    Whew. I am already tired of Skyline. Thankfully my son only has 2 more years and then we are out. I should have left him at the charter school.

  • A Titan

    Willing to bet that the 5th commenter is Mr.Sye.

    If it isn’t,
    Mr.Sye isn’t any good kind of leader because calling someone a derogative word of ANY degree is far from reputable, and not being able to keep track of “his” school’s money proves that he is not upstanding and can’t be trusted to act autonomously.

  • Skyline Student

    Mr. Sye has done nothing at Skyline, all he has ever done was sit in a chair and commanded orders from his office. This student activities fund sounds like the money should be going to school activities for the students and yet he claims there is no money to help fund for student activities, even worse Sye owes the student leadership class money. This also opens the questions where is the money if he returned it from his mistake in New Mexico, and what is it being spent on?

    He might seem he has everything under control but if you ever have one on one time with him, he is lost in his own world. He never follows though with anything he says his going to do, and created at atmosphere of distrust between the students and administration in the eyes of student leaders. This whole administration at Skyline has gone down hill ever since he has arrived on our Senior Lawn, first Ms. Shelton leaves and now we have a district acting principle, its no mystery why she left. Thank god this is my last year here at this school, I dread what’s going to happen next year.

    Even through all the hard times the students have worked hard and to go about their daily business as students. We students should only have to worry about our grades and graduating. All this OUSD politics should stay out of the grounds of school but yet the students hear all this talk and this causes distractions in the classroom. I just hope this this matter is solved before the Class of 13 arrives so they can have a school that they deserve.

  • Nextset

    Nvt: I had a relative who was a principal of a large urban high school. That job was the culmination of a career in education. It involves dealing with a lot of students, teachers, other staff and a big payroll and physical plant. Obviously it’s not a simple job in the vein of a parking lot attendant.

    But there are a lot of school principals, and urban school districts have a lot of educators on the payroll. So yes, it’s simple to bump up one of the many other principals to the larger school and promote a teacher to principal of one of the smaller schools.

    Think of it as staffing a bank branch in 1965. Back then the branch managers had real power and a large staff, being responsible for the integrity of the loan portfolio, the accuracy of the records, the behavior of the staff and the development of the branch and it’s relative market share. If the manager of the downtown branch has a nervous breakdown you deal with it and replace him with an internal promotion or reassignment – it’s not as if you’re staffing the Starship Enterprise.

    Skyline High is no different and a big district like OUSD should be able to staff that job without a lot of drama especially if they would abandon the racial gameplaying and just send in the best person on hand with no attempt to pacify whoever’s turn it is.

    Skyline Student: I tend to agree with your conclusions. I can call someone a lot worse than “ghetto”. If they can’t take it they can go cry in a corner. I am not running a school or a business in a kinder, gentler manner. You only have to be civil, not nice and not polite.

    However, and this is critical – The school district runs the school not the individual staff (and not me either). Principals serve at the employer’s pleasure, just like shop clerks and bank tellers. If it is the pleasure of the school board that this man no longer be a principal, he is out. No crying, no protesting, no appeal. It is his problem if he accepted a no-tenure position with a capricious employer. I hope the board is not capricious. I give them the benefit of the doubt. If the board says it’s over, then he is to leave with his head up and no apologies, it just didn’t work out. That is life in corporate America, welcome to adulthood. Now make the best of it.

  • Nextset

    And Cranky: We can discuss the issue of any principal being possibly removed as I am doing without trying to specifically attribute facts to this man who I sure don’t know. Whether this principal did or didn’t do anything the story says isn’t something I’d weigh in on. I blog on the policy issues of selection and removal of staff generally. And I’m not so much a censor. We need robust discussion. My point is not to use this blog to make public private facts if we have any to broadcast, or to debate what actually happened with the people here when the true facts cannot be publicly discussed by the people who know them. It’s not fair to the real people to do, so including the school administration.

    (As before in earlier blogs on personnel matters) I wish the people – the workers – well in their careers. Policy we can go off on all day and night though.

  • Skyline Student

    A Titan:

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but I am not Mr. Sye.

    You claim that Mr.Sye isn’t any good kind of leader because calling someone a derogative word of ANY degree is far from reputable, but seriously, can you think of anyone that has never utilized a derogatory term against anyone in any manner? This is clearly an isolated incident, and everyone makes mistakes at some point in their lives. It does not make them a bad person, though. These is a lot of pressure that a principal must deal with on the job, and dealing with incompetent supervisors makes doing his job even more difficult. Is calling someone who was rude and unprofessional really that big of a deal? The person had it coming, and although it may have been a bit unprofessional, Mr. Sye is a very patient and calm individual, if you have met him, for the most part. Seriously, many authority figures from all walks of life have done worse than merely calling an individual “ghetto.” It could have even been taken out of context by someone who deliberately provoked him due to personal problems with Sye. This is clearly just a case of political correctness to the extreme. Sye has built his reputation for years, and one minor slip of the tongue does not make him no longer reputable, nor should it cost him his job.

    The incident involving the funds was also rather trivial. It was only $162, and an honest mistake. We are all human, and mistakes are prone to occur. Besides, many people in positions of authority regularly misuse funds and get away with it. Mr. Sye, being the upstanding individual that he is, reimbursed the student activity funds in full after realizng this minor blunder. This should not cost him his job, either.

    If you do not approve of Sye acting autonomously, consider that the school is managed by the Oakland Unified School District, which I’m sure you realize have had financial problems that have been much worse than a simple mistake that has been corrected. Compared to the district’s ability to maintain financial responsibility, Mr. Sye would look like an individual who could do no wrong.

  • cranky teacher

    My point, Nextset, is that those in the know should comment freely. With local media in a spiraling decline and all bureaucracies terrified of lawsuits, local public matters are increasingly only discussed in anonymous forums like these. Not ideal, but hey.

    The students above, with opposite opinions are likely basing their statements on personal experience with the man.

    I’d agree the money thing sounds trivial, and I suppose he could be paying for “cleaning house.” But it seems he’s sure stepped in a lot of doo-doo for a guy who’s been in the district for less than six months.

  • Nextset

    Cranky: People who comment freely on other people’s personnel matters here are no different than those who post on a bathroom wall. We blog and debate on policy – the school employees are actors on a stage to some extent but I’t's not right to run to the internet and post inside knowledge on the personal failures of other people. Yes, people do as they want, and the bathroom wall is waiting.

    CA has the strongest privacy rights in the nation, having a Cause of action in Civil Court for Making public private facts.

    And there is such a thing as Karma.

    And the school personnel had better not be caught doing it. Young people may not be aware of it, but gossiping about your co-workers is grounds for firing – certainly at serve at the pleasure jobs. That the gossip is true is not the point. There are people decent people do not tolerate among us.

    I was at work today working on a case where someone, a mother I believe, is about to experience serious (prison?) problems (in a day or so) because she did what her boss told her to do. Then she shot her mouth off when interrogated, admitting what she has done with the comment – “I just did what I was told to do.” as if that will save her.

    She’s a product of the public schools. She can’t recognize the concept of evil. It’s all situational to her. In her case, evil is ok (for you) if someone else tells you to do it.

    I don’t even feel sorry for these people any more. They should have gone to better schools.

    Back to the thread – let’s not use this blog to post inside information about the lives of real people. It’s wrong and can be actionable.

  • aly

    nextset: as far as the replacement of a principal is concerned, i believe the shuffling method you described is why schools have such a difficult time retaining quality leadership. principals are rotated and replaced as if anyone can do their job when it isn’t that simple.

    i agree that until these matters are settled, it is best to keep the gossip and inside info to a minimum. if nothing else, it creates confusion and makes honest investigation difficult. when all is settled, that’s when i want to hear the full story.

  • Diamond Broussard

    I agree with you, Skyline Student, Mr. Sye is great. The only reason why he came across as a harsh administrator is because of the cultural difference between the private schools he has taught at and OUSD schools. Frankly, the Skyline community needs some tough love. He made a minor mistake and what we should be focused on is improving the school rather than childish differences of opinion. People, do not write Mr. Sye off as “another Skyline principal”.

    Titan, while he may not have used the right words and should have code switched, I agree with him that there are some “ghetto-type” individuals on our campus. I bet you could name five staff members who are. Especially because I can probably name ten. The term “ghetto” is highly insignificant. I believe that your personal differences with Mr. Sye are affecting your ability to provide him with constructive criticism, as noted by your condescending tone. I agree with Nextset; if you are letting someones words get to you, it’s time o face reality that people will always have something negative to say, and there’s nothing you can do about it. This is the real world.

    Pamela, Skyline is a great school. If you have any doubt take your child out now and do not wait. You should be searching for ways to improve the school rather than complaining. High school is what you make it, and if The issue of a principal is not affecting your child’s education, find something else to crticize our school about. And charter school? I don’t think that is a good idea.

    All in all, all of my interactions with Mr. Sye have been fine. I am nhot the only student who believes so. Some students and teachers may complain but then they obviously haven’t made the effort to get to know him. The excuse of “The school is very large” and “Teachers have a lot on their plate” are not adequate. I am a busy person as well, and I definitely found time to meet the person who runs the school that I attend and who has the power to make decisions that could dramatically affect my schooling.

  • A Titan

    Skyline Student :

    Of course people have used derogatory terms, but as a leader, its up to the principal to set the example. He knew how diverse the 2000 student campus would be, so why did he expect the teachers to be any different?

    On that note, yes, I do have something against Mr.Sye. I’ve actually never heard any of these things about him (the good or the bad) until yesterday when a friend sent me this article. What I did know, though, was that my English teacher, Mr.White, left after the 1st marking period, and the class has had a substitute for the past four or five months. You can quote me on that. As one of the other English teachers has told me, the sub we have at the moment doesn’t even have a degree in English, its in history.

    I have talked to Mr.Sye personally about this, I have gone with teachers, I have gone with friends who are in the same class, and every single time, he has blown me off. I have spoken with other English teachers in the English department, and as far as they know, we’ll have an English teacher by the very last days of school.

    Can you not see my frustration when I see someone speaking so highly of him, when all I’ve ever seen was someone that was not being helpful in any way?

    Why was he so interested in speaking ill of, and replacing a teacher that is doing fine as (s)he is?
    Why not take that interest and use it to fight for an English teacher for some 100 or so kids?

    You may say that this is the School District, English board, or whoever else’s responsibility to find a new teacher, but if he has enough of an opinion to call someone ghetto, he should have enough to pull some kind of string’s to get us the education we deserve.

    Also, I agree that the School District is very sloppy at the moment, which is why I believe that much more strongly that we can’t have any more mistakes happening.

    I understand that a lot of what I say has a lot of bias in it, but either way, from my point of view, I don’t like Mr.Sye as a person, or as a principal.

  • Nextset

    Aly: You don’t get to hear or know details of a personnel action. All you can get is gossip – which may be true or may not be true – from those who care to spread it. You just have to accept this. OUSD is not free to release details of personnel investigations and actions and I for one support that.

    Unless you handle investigations and actions involving human behavior you don’t realize how messy human interaction is. And how the innocent and the guilty can both sue the pants off you if you spread inconvenient truths or falsehoods about them. California has the highest national standard for privacy including privacy for wrongdoing. That’s how we live in this state. If you cross other people’s right to silence about their affairs – (literally) – you face significant punishment. While public figures have some dimunition of privacy you can’t be safe trying to guess where the line is without current legal training and research.

    If an employee has become more trouble than they are worth or has lost the confidence of their employer they must go. That’s the penalty for not being careful or prudent in your life. Employees do not have to suffer their employer or co-workers running their mouths about them (making public private facts, etc) as well. Not in CA anyway.

    I wish all the employees of OUSD well. If the non-tenured staff fall out of favor they’d best have a fallback plan for employment. We shouldn’t feast on individuals on this blog any more than is decent.

    There was a previous issue on this blog where foolish and unsupervised children tried to demonstrate in the streets about the firing of a school employee and wanted the district to debate with them publicly about what had happened and why the staffer was released. One of them got into an altercation with the police I seem to remember and got Tasered… All because they deluded themselves into thinking they had standing to publicly insert themselves into a personnel action. During a review of an employee’s retention begins, anything can come to light that leads to dismissal. OUSD can’t discuss these things publicly because the workers have a right to privacy. Since schools are full of emotional and hormonal adolescents they’d best be taught the way of the world and CA so the drama can be used where it isn’t wasted.

    If you ever want to get into wild personnel issues, try police hiring, firing and discipline and the secrecy thereof…. On the other hand we have the State Judicial Commission doing everything but attaching photos to 50 pages of info about any misbehaving judge. There is a range of public access to personnel actions by occupations but teachers and most of the common workers have a lot of protection from disclosures.

    Workers of the World Unite!!

  • cranky teacher

    You say you’re for free speech here on the “bathroom wall,” Nextset, but then you try to scare people talking about “actionable” consequences, etc.

    I admit, this is tricky terrain — nobody wants to be smeared in public, especially anonymously. But arguing about whether a principal is a good principal or not? Seems fair enough. That’s a public job and it comes with the turf and the 100K+ salary.

    You should check out all the websites that host anonymous reviews of teachers, K-Grad School. Community college professors are very bitter because students are using them to “shop” for easy graders AND/OR for better teachers. Then the schools layoff adjuncts based on popularity of classes.

    Since you want parents to have free choice in schools, don’t they need free access to relevent information?

    Remember, this is a moderated blog. If somebody makes libelous comments, MediaNews Group has responsibility to pull it down. But talking about the job a public figure is doing? First Amendment, baby.

  • Peter

    Oh! How overrated this job is! Just so we’re all real here, starting salary for a principal at an Oakland Public High School is $81,024.00, not $100k+. Perhaps this has something to do with the larger issue of administrator turn over.
    And now back to our regularly scheduled bathroom wall…

    (source for the salary scale: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=4&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwebportal.ousd.k12.ca.us%2Fdocs%2FUAOS%2520OUSD%2520CONTRACT%252006-09.pdf&ei=yJSnSYODC53gsAPBv6juDw&usg=AFQjCNE9O0stKrJJn6da8PaNWZw3tzo1hw&sig2=onvi8zvAXxoMsdc2Wlx3Aw)

  • Nextset

    Cranky: You are a teacher and I am a lawyer. You are not expected or required to understand your limits.

    Just stay in them.

    Free speech isn’t Free. You will find that out when you cross lines. The trick is being able to see one. Or to take a hint.

    I see no problem with people discussing their impressions of a teacher, their experiences with interactions with a teacher. Some of the students have done that here, good for them. The trouble would start when an insider such as a collegue starts talking out of school revealing their own detective work about the subject’s life or publicly discussing privileged information.

    Another thing, Cranky: When teachers start preaching their view of what the law (constitution, for example) means, look out. They are in no position by experience and training to give legal advice. They also don’t seem to ever be able to moderate their own fantasies and desires in the process. This is especially glaring when schoolteachers get into criminal procedure and criminal law.

    And you say I’m scaring people.. Fools rush in…

  • Oakland Teacher

    2 points:

    While everyone debates the merits of the principal, please remember these are real students at Skyline. The fact that this year’s juniors and seniors will have had 3 different administrators by graduation is a real shame. The fact that the very devoted faculty have had to endure so many leadership changes leads to demoralization and an inability to have developed meaningful relationships with leadership (theoretically preventing positive change). It is rarely beneficial to lose a principal and never to have it happen so frequently.

    This is unrelated, but I was shocked to see how low the entry salaries were for administrators. As an OUSD teacher, there is not enough money in the world to make that job adequately compensated. Being a principal in Oakland these days is like fighting lions in the Roman Coliseum. It was of interest to see that at least they are given a stipend of $1200 for Master’s Degrees, something that OUSD does not recognize as valuable in its teachers (but most districts do pay similar stipends for).

  • cranky teacher

    Peter: Starting principal salary is different if you are a teacher bumped up to run a school of 150 kids vs. being hired from out of state as an experienced principal to run a school of 2000.

    Plenty of teachers in Oakland make 40K and work from 7 to 7 like the big principals do. I’m sorry, i’m not feeling the pity. They chose the path.

    Nextset: I thought you were actually being less condescending lately. In fact, I am well-versed in the law — constitutional, employment and media-related. Whatever.

  • Peter

    Cranky: I know, it’s right there on the salary schedule. But that is the salary for a new principal at a large high school. Since salary is negotiated as part of a collective bargaining agreement (as you know from employment law), it is not negotiable for individuals. So yes, that’s what he gets paid (there are some variance for people who come from other bay area districts, strangely they get a 5% raise from their last salary if it were higher, but that would not apply in this case).
    I am also aware that there are frequently situations where employees work harder or longer than their supervisors, but that is not germane here: you stated that he made over $100,000, and that is not true. As far as paths being chosen, we all have chosen paths, I’m not sure that anyone deserves pity for it (teachers, principals, or Barry Bonds).

  • cranky teacher

    Peter, are you saying that unlike teachers, principals bring none of their seniority from other districts in with them onto the stepped salary scale?

    Also, there was a 2.2% raise from that scale, I believe, which adds on another 10K. That would put the low at 91K and the high at 105K. That’s before stipends, approved compensation for extra work, etc.

    In any case, my point was not that principals are OVERPAID, in Oakland or anywhere else, just that there are certain paremeters that come with the job: An upper-middle class salary, loads of work, politics, scrutiny, etc.

    To be a great principal, you need to be very strong in a variety of different areas. It is not enough just to be passionate, smart, charismatic, organized and adept at leadership — you must be all of the above. No wonder it’s hard to find great ones.

  • cranky teacher

    Oops, bad math.

    Raise only adds a thousand!

  • aly

    nextset: are you just looking for a fight? your dissertation about why the gossip isn’t good was not necessary; at least not directed towards me. review my comment- i agreed with you that this stuff is best kept quiet until its all sorted out.

  • Nextset

    Aly: It’s been an unusually long/rough week for me. Sorry if my posts were off kilter.

    That person I mentioned earlier did manage to turn state’s witness and just barely avoided prosecution.. That was real close for her, couple of million dollars taken. She has only a 10th grade education and a child to raise and is unemployed & unemployable due to her last employer blaming her for the loss. She’s really upset because somebody higher up told her to help commit the crime and she only got $15k under the table. She didn’t mean to get in trouble!!! She is not my client – but I still see so many products of the public schools in deep trouble because they are so oddly clueless about personal responsibility – and it makes me angry.

    Products of the public schools, all of them.

    Where were we, Oh, the Skyline principal. Katy: Do you have an update as to whether he will survive this little tempest in a teapot?

  • La Voz

    Why would anyone pay so much money for college degrees and end up an administrator in Oakland? Never in a million years! Life is too short.

    Mr. Sye leave and dont turn back!!! Oakland, we are doomed with these politics .

  • peter

    We pay that much (and continue to pay back loans) for college degrees and become administrators in Oakland because we love these kids, we believe in these kids, and to be the change we want to see in the world. This is my community and it always has been, and I’m not going to give up on it. Neither are most of the other administrators in Oakland.
    No, the economics of the job do not work, and frequently the stress doesn’t either, but I was not put on this earth to benefit myself alone, and I will put my rear end and my money where my philosophy is. Most educators will and do, especially in this city. So when someone says “leave and don’t come back” our general response is “I’m not going to quit on your children.”

  • Paperbackwriter

    I agree with Nextset’s post above that there seems to be an obsession with minority hires, at the expense of getting the best person. I’m reminded that Claremont Middle School about 5 years back turned itself around after hiring David Chambliss (who happened to be white) and this at a school that was about 95% minority. So that’s one point.

    Another is that I am greatly trouble by the Skyline student’s post regarding the missing English teacher. Is this not the job of the principal to advocate for staffing the school? Here is a drawback to hiring someone with no knowledge of the OUSD, the person does not have the connections to get things done. A teacher sent out a notice in the Skyliner (or the FRC?) a while back about his classroom being overheated in early September and the blinds being broken and unusable. I wrote to him that I sympathized and also called the Buildings and Grounds dept. to ask if they had some extra blinds somewhere but never heard back from them. But really, this should fail under the purview of the principal (who does not seem to be a “pal”, he comments to my son when he sees him hugging his girlfriend that “we don’t do that here.” He also made some comment about a hat my son was wearing. These are all superficial considering the real challenges that face the OUSD and Skyline. And I had no idea that Sye had taught had private schools as posted above. (?)

    As for the credit card “mix up”, I’m surprised that people are so ready to apologize for this. He didn’t pay it until there was an investigation, that kind of tells you everything. He was testing the system to see what he could get away with, that’s my impression. And it is totally unprofessional to call someone on the staff “ghetto”, though I’m not AA, it would seem to me to be an insult to the staff member.

  • Skyline senior

    This is all a joke. Its an upset teacher who dislikes Mr. Sye and is tring to get him out a.s.a.p (maybe the teacher who was called “ghetto”. I do not have any feelings for Mr. Sye because he hasn’t done the school any good and hasn’t done us any bad. So let bygones be bygones. Plus I seen Mr. Sye looking like all this is a nothing.

    Peace in the middle east

  • Nancy

    What is so wrong with the word “Ghetto” even if it was used among adults or others for that matter? It would be the context of the entire communication. Again, Oakland is the 5th most dangerous place in the USA, and it shouldn’t be any surprise to anyone that such violence has seemed into the schools. The word “Ghetto” was probably used to describe a broader idea. The people in this City are so quick to jump someone. The term Ghetto has its roots with Jews in Italy, and then with Irish and Poles who were pushed into certain areas based on questionable mores. What is wrong with getting someone to reflect on how others are affected as a result of their own mores? I think how this was all handled is comparable to some gang banger, street-thug scapegoat behavior.

  • Nextset

    Paperbackwriter: Very interesting post.

    Most important is your comment about a person “testing the system”. I find the stories of life on campus with the principal interesting, maybe less so than the detractors find it. But your apprasial of the credit card thing is right on the money. What children don’t understand and can’t grasp is that fidelity is demonstrated and tested by the “little things”. You either have it or your don’t. And if you don’t, no amount of lipstick on the pig can redress that issue. The minute there is a doubt about the fidelity of an employee they are out the door especially in a depression. You do not retain anyone you have a basic mistrust about on these levels, you are not paying good money to have to wonder what a servant will do when your back is turned.

    The issues about how a principal handles an urban high school campus are interesting but when the doors are closed to the personnel hearing the real issue is dismissal is required if there is a doubt about fidelity. Let that be the lesson for the children today.

    When teens do things in their personal life such as associate with thieves, drug users and promiscuous people (much less do it themselves) their own fidelity is now in question and they have taken that step to day laborer – being able to only find work in highly supervised, transient employment with no creativity, responsibility or benefits. I am seeing more and more people who not only are hot in CheckSystems and unable to get a bank account, but are also carried on black lists used for employment screening and are barred from whole industries (like retail sales and utility companies). Driver’s Licenses are also being lost long term because of one incident (caught with a can of beer at Taco Bell at age 20) that is in the computer and acts as a block. The principal and his credit card “mixup” is just one example of how an incident can affect employment and employability. Saying it was an accident doesn’t cut it with society. We are not paying that kind of money for accident-prone people.

    The usual line of baloney these “victims of circumstances” tell is that they were only “with someone” and “didn’t do anything”. It doesn’t matter.

    Life will not be very forgiving in a depression in the computer age.

    Brave New World.

  • A skyliner

    Mr. Sye is back. He admitted to teachers yesterday at a staff meeting he was suspended for two weeks and says he feels unfairly judged by his supervisor, who he believes was unhappy she was not involved in his hiring. Mr. Sye said he will fight to stay at Skyline, despite this year not going according to plan, that he loves Oakland and the school, and he has “unfinished business here.”

    Generally, the teachers seem pretty supportive of him — in particular, the veteran department chairs who work with him more directly. The staff politely applauded his speech, with some being particularly enthusiastic and others more simply acting polite. Some respected vets are organizing a show of support for his rehire at the next school board meeting.

    People need to remember the scale of this school — 2000 students, 200 employees, thousands of parents. The principal is like the mayor of a small town. To blame or credit him for everything that goes wrong or wrong on campus is a bit absurd, despite the power and importance of the job.

  • A skyliner

    ‘wrong or RIGHT on campus’

  • Nextset

    A Skyliner: Good luck to Mr. Sye.

    But your are dead wrong about “absurd”. It’s called accountability, as in you are accountable for what happens on your watch when you are in authority. This concept is no longer taught in our public schools but it tends to be true. Unless you are getting a federal bailout in which case anything goes.

  • A skyliner

    Buck stops here is a fine principle, and I agree. However, when posters are defending a guy who has been on the job for a few months based on the success of a performing arts program that has been built over decades, or attacking him based on the old campus plant not having proper air conditioning, I think you’re stretching the case.

    It’d be like blaming Obama for the state of the economy.

  • Nextset

    Good point. There is an issue of whose watch problems occurred on.

    As far as Obama and the economy… fasten your seatbelts, it is going to be historic!

  • A Skyline Student

    Though I have yet to experience a great conversation with Principal Sye, I find that he has done no trouble to our school and is someone to be respected.
    I am disgusted that his personal response to his leave was able to get to the Tribune-and that it was used against him.
    Not only does this not help parents or inform readers, but it causes harm to the administration and students of Skyline High School.
    All rumors are being looked at closely, and eventually a professional decision will be made, that is when the news should inform, if ever-not before anything has been thoroughly investigated.

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