David Kakishiba took even his school board colleagues by surprise tonight with this news: He will step down at the end of the month because of a conflict-of-interest ruling by the district’s new general counsel, Jackie Minor.
Kakishiba is also executive director of the East Bay Asian Youth Center, a local youth development nonprofit that works in the school district. In the past, he abstained from votes involving EBAYC contracts, but apparently, that’s not enough.
“Yesterday I was informed by the general counsel that it was her opinion that my continuing to serve on this board and to work at my organization is a situation that is untenable,” Kakishiba said at tonight’s (well, last night’s) board meeting.
He added, “I believe the general counsel has done her due diligence. … I believe my resignation is in the best interest of the school district and my organization. … There is no need to get into any high drama and wasting everybody’s time, basically.”
Kakishiba has served on the Oakland school board since 2002, and he was board president when I started covering Oakland schools for the Tribune. I always found him to be open and thoughtful. He was well respected by his fellow board members, who reacted to his announcement with bewilderment and sadness.
Gary Yee became emotional as he spoke about Kakishiba’s leadership. “How to process in my mind, that Director Kakishiba’s leaving,” he began. “We came on the board at the same time, and he more or less made me a promise that we were going to stay on it together. … This is the only promise David Kakishiba has made in his seven years on the school board that he can’t fulfill.”
He looked down the table at Kakishiba. “So I’m really mad about that promise that you didn’t keep.”
This is the second major conflict-of-interest opinion Minor has issued since she came to the district this summer. In August, Kathleen Osta, the wife of Superintendent Tony Smith, quit her high-level job at another local nonprofit, the Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools, after Minor determined that her employment created a conflict of interest for Smith.
Ward Rountree, executive director of the Oakland teacher’s union, called Kakishiba’s announcement “a devastating one.”
“I have found you to be an honest broker,” he said. “I am honestly sorry that your presence won’t be felt on the school board level. … You have led, even in your quiet manner.”