Oasis charter school to close

Oasis High School, a 5-year-old alternative charter school that serves about 180 teens who have dropped out, been kicked out, or otherwise been displaced from other schools, will close its doors this summer. State Administrator Vincent Matthews decided tonight to close Oasis by not renewing its charter.

“Staff agonized over this decision, as I did,” Matthews said, as teachers and supporters listened in silence.

Matthews pointed to the recommendation from the district’s charter schools office to close the school. He said the office found inconsistent curriculum, teaching methods that weren’t based on research, and other academic concerns. (In February, the charter office asked Oasis to withdraw its renewal request and turn in a new one.)

Darrell Willis, 17, stood stoically in the hallway after the decision as a stream of tearful adults left the board room. He said he didn’t know where he’d go to school. Phung Lai, the school’s social director, said the timing was a big concern.

“Who knows where these students are going to go?” Lai said. “It’s already June 24.”

The summertime closure reminds me of the scramble after another alternative charter school, UPrep, closed in 2007. Guess where many of those students went? I’ll give you a hint: Some of them will be looking for another school, yet again.

photo from Oasis Web site

Katy Murphy

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

  • Steven Faivus

    i’ve got so much things to say right now…
    why did we lose our caring, creative, intelligent, committed community? Many issues are involved. An ignorant, misguided Charter Board, a staff not willing to organize and unite, a school underfunded, a staff overwhelmed with an unrealistic Charter. Union versus charter, charter versus district. Many important issues swirl around this closure. let’s communicate and tease out this important story.
    -Steven Faivus, Science teacher, OASIS High school

  • Javier

    I helped start this school 5 years ago and worked at the school this year. A significant section of Oasis students would be characterized as “at risk” and I cant see them easily being integrated into any other Oakland school (Charter or District). Most Charters in Oakland “cherry pick” the academicly inclined students, while Oasis was the only charter that was its opposite, serving those youth who everyone else gave up on. Ive heard countless students tell me past horror stories of how they functioned at the previous schools they attended, cussing out teachers, popping E at school, and dropping out. Due to this depressing fact, the closure of this school, based off of “academic concerns,” will lead to more Oakland youth on the streets and not in school.

    Just as quality teachers need to differentiate their lesson plans, the educational system needs to differentiate in the type of schools offered. If academics is a concern, it should be something that is advanced through systems of support, as apposed to being seen as an inherint weakness that cannot be overcome.

    Those who will suffer the most are the youth of Oakland. Most Oakland educators have no idea what the experience is like of Oakland youth. In my opinion, there is very little pedagogy built on this actual experience. Only when parents, students, and the working class citizenry of Oakland begin to seriously organize for quality education will we see the necessary changes take place in schools that can develop both meaningful curriculum, and quality education. Until then, politicians, careerist, outside “specialist” and “consultents” will come into Oakland to “fix” educational problems but to only recycle them in different forms. The destruction of any school community is completly antithetical to the necessary educational progress that needs to take place to serve Oakland youth. And serving Oakland youth is not just teaching, but organizing against these historical and structural inequalities that lay at the heart of the problem.

  • Marsha


    You are great at blaming,however, how does that prepare these students with an education for the future?

    I visited Oasis school. Students would be walking the lake or sitting on the sidewalk without a teacher in sight. The students joked and said, “this is PE at Oasis!”

    Will you accept the fact that the Oasis staff did not prpare these students with the basic English-Language Arts, math, science, and social studies skills that they need to participate in our community? Do you recall these were some of the major requirments in your charter?

    The clouser of this school is the result of poor leadership from the Oasis administration.

    This is one of the few times I agree with the OUSD school board and state administrator.There are numerous other charter and district schools that should be closed because of weak administration that has no idea of how to lead teachers and students to academic and social success.

  • Chauncey

    Wait, did I read correctly? Oakland Unified School District staff in the charter office are the ones who judge proper teaching methods, and delivery? Damn!! Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

    Nevermind that OUSD is at the bottom of academic and financial performance among other districts in the country. Forget that the charters in the city blow them away for the most part academically.

    I bet the OUSD charter staff teach the typical OUSD crap of tolerance, diversity and group fun learning and if charters do not ascribe to that BS- then they have the power to recommend closure? The principal of that premise is wrong!

    If test scores are used as a reason to close charters, that is okay, as long as that is also considered when opening them . When will OUSD schools be held to the same standards as charters. Equity? Only when its on your side -right OUSD?

  • harlemmoon

    Why is Vincent Matthews still making the calls?
    Would it have been more appropriate for the incoming Supe to make such a huge decision?
    This action raises a broader question: What now IS Matthews’ role now that we have a permanent Supe?

  • Jim Mordecai


    Mr. Smith is the OUSD School Board hired permanent superintendent. He begins his job officially on July 1, 2009. He will administer management of all areas returned to the OUSD School Board by State Superintendent O’Connell. However, State Superintendent O’Connell has not yet returned financial management of the District to the OUSD School Board. Until he does return the management of District’s finance, Vincent Matthews as Oakland State Administrator will control financial decisions such as opening or closing of charter schools.

    It should be understood that once fully management of the District is returned to the School Board, the State will replace its State Administrator with a finance overseer with veto power over the OUSD budget until such time as the 80 million or so debt is repaid to the State.

    That State trustee will probably not be Vincent Matthews whom I sense wants to be a district superintendent and not a financial overseer. Although Mr. Matthews certainly could continue in that role if he wants and is wanted by Jack O’Connell.

    Of course the salary of the State Trustee will be paid out of the OUSD general fund as has the salary of the various State Administrators.

    Jim Mordecai

  • harlemmoon

    Thanks, Jim.
    So, Smith is a Supe with limited powers. Of course, this raises another question: How does one carry out an agenda for reform, improvement and growth with one hand tied behind his back?
    I know some here think Smith is Superman, but this looks an awful lot like a scenario that will bring only marginal change – something even the Man of Steel would find disconcerting.

  • Jim Mordecai


    Just read a press release from OUSD that says the last two management areas of pupil achievement and finance will be restored to the Oakland School Board on June 29th with MOU signing by OUSD Board President Noel Gallo and Jack O’Connell.

    Now the limit on the new Superintendent’s power will be the trustee that will have veto power over the board’s budget.

    However, school closure and renewal of charter schools will be up to a majority vote of the Oakland School Board. The Board hires the Superintendent and his power is administration but all his policies are subject to the School Board’s approval.

    What I am curious about is whether or not return of the last two management areas of the District was dependent on some behind close door agreement between Jack O’Connell and the School Board.

    Areas Jack O’Connell might want support from the Board as a condition of return of the last two management areas might be a commitment to keep the Board hires in place and/or perhaps support on financing charter schools with parcel tax language that the Board brings to the ballot.

    Jim Mordecai