Heads up: Special Ed Community Committee meeting tonight

I was planning to attend the Programs for Exceptional Children Community Advisory Committee meeting tonight after writing about the departure of OUSD’s special education director Karen Mates. I can’t make it but there is a lot to talk about from what I hear:

The Special Education Teacher Caucus will be presenting, there will be
discussion about plans for next year’s Special Education program, and there
will be legal advocates on-hand to help staff the break-out consultation
groups (below). The meeting is from 6-9pm
tonight, potluck at 6. Location is United for Success Academy, 2101 35th Ave., and there will be
childcare and Spanish language translation.

1: Setting Strong Goals and Ensuring Academic Progress in the General
Education Classroom
Estableciendo metas fuertes y asegurando el progreso académico de los
estudiantes en los salones de educacion general

2: Setting Strong Goals and Ensuring Academic Progress in the Special Day
Estableciendo metas fuertes y asegurando el progreso académico de los
estudiantes en los salones de día especial

3: Behavior Plans & Behavior Support
Planes para el apoyar el comportamiento y apoyo al comportamiento en general

4: School-Site Concerns—Beyond Special Education Staff
Preocupaciones relacionadas a la escuela—Mas allá de los empleados para la
educación especial

5: Ensuring the Effective Use of Accommodations & Modifications
Asegurando el uso eficaz de los acomodos y las modificaciones

6: Making the Transition to Middle School
Haciendo la transición a la secundaria

7: Making the Transition to High School and to Adulthood
Haciendo la transición a la preparatoria y a la adultez

8: Supporting Special Education Staff (*Intended as a support session for
staff who need their own consultation)
Apoyando a los empleados de educación especial

9: When Everything Goes Wrong: Hitting Up Against the Wall
Cuando todo no funciona y chocamos contra la pared

Many thanks to Stacey Smith for the reminder.


  • http://hotmail Mark

    Dear Kind Reporter,

    OK, so when the Special Education director and the Superintendent of the entire district leave together at the same time, I can expect you might get a “no comment,” from them. However, can you please attempt to interview both people and ask them about the current state of Special Education.

    I think there is information there a reporter can explore to give to the community.

    Maybe both have opinions and comments to give to the community before leaving.

    Can you ask for an interview with both as a reporter?

  • awoodall

    Did you read the story about Mates — the interview with her? There is a link above…

  • In and out

    From her couple of lines in the article, a lot can be inferred. If she expressed a minimum of decency in their admin meetings, they showed her the door for not being “in alignment” with the strategic plan bs.
    Where is the big daddy? Where is Smith, who has continued to receive a salary for being a mute lame duck the last couple of months?
    I will award one symbolic dollar to the first one to post what his new position is going to be, the one that is being kept quiet until he is out and his image a little laundered, or faded. Unemployed, are you for real Mr. Kakishiba?

  • awoodall

    Think of it this way: 1. the strategic plan did not include special ed; and 2. the interviews for the new director did not include a staff member of the special ed dept. from what I understand. The story was about Karen Mates, not Tony Smith.

  • In and out

    That is understood, and the details that you provide are most appreciated. I just want to “emphatically” second Mark’s request for an interview with Smith who, given the recent audit on finances (his big feat was the elimination of structural deficit) highlighting that they basically add (and subtract!)dollars in the dark without even a decent calculator, and also the ongoing situation with SpEd. Otherwise, he is on his way through the back door, low key as he has tried to be since around December/January, preparing for departure and image cleansing.

  • Peach

    There’s a positive piece on Smith and the continuation of his legacy of community schools that can be read at Philadelphia Notebook and EdSource. It reminds me of the assurances that the great work of Michelle Rhee would be continued in Washington DC schools by her former deputy Kayla Henderson, the present Chancellor.

    Like Oakland, the Special Ed departments of DC, NYC and Chicago remain seriously deficient after all the so-called reformers have marched through these districts.

    Nonetheless.the reform PR machine is working at full throttle blithely ignoring the data.

  • J.R.

    All these districts you mentioned have something in common, they were seriously deficient in producing mostly well educated, literate children for decades BEFORE there were any reformers. Why is that? Is that the fault of reformers too?

  • J.R.
  • Jim Mordecai

    The American Indian Model charters was given permission by a court action to continue with their summer school. However, the FCMAT audit found problems with the summer program called SAIL. SAIL was a private summer school offered by Dr. Chavis’ company and a conflict of interest according to the audit report. For new students it was mandatory and thus violation of the California Constitution. Instructors were not paid a salary but paid with scholarships.

    Will the SAIL program be part of the summer school? Is there a new summer school or has there been both public and private summer school in the past?

    Jim Mordecai

  • awoodall

    @Jim – good question. I am waiting to hear from AIMS. I don’t go back far enough to know off hand.

  • Observer


    Because the contining cycles of unstable family structures, the decimation of mid level job opportunities, increases in drug trades and the crime that goes with them and many other social factors that the reformers ignore and insist educators–with less and less resources available to them—should be able to overcome.

    That the reformers were also not able (we’re using past tense now) overcome is answered by hands over ears, “lalalalalal, I can’t hear you!” . All the way to the bank on the tax payers dime.

    The has been a colossally expensive “experiment”.

  • J.R.

    Nothing comes near the cost of multi-generational failed(and failing)public school districts. Worse yet, Jerry Brown wants to use a massively flawed abuse ridden indicator of poverty(free reduced lunch program)to determine which failing school districts(LAUSD is a great example of fraud and waste that comes to mind) will get even more tax money(siphoned from prop 30). This district had at one time nearly a half billion dollar budget, 400K give or take now. That is expensive, especially when the results are so poor. charters have only been around since the 1990’s and not a significant number until sometime after 2000.

  • J.R.
  • Jim Mordecai


    Multi-generational failure and failing public school districts are costly. I believe that is true.

    But, are charter schools the answer? I say no!

    The cost of holding the administration of the American Indian Model charter schools accountable was $30,000 for FICMAT audit, $30,000 for OUSD Consultant and unidentified amount for staff time for the County appeal. An appeal to the State Board of Education will just add to the cost of holding the American Indian Model charters accountable.

    The charter school system is hugely expensive to manage by just attending to the cost of evaluating applications for charters. As far as I know charter application processing by local staff is an unfunded State mandated cost for school districts. The appeal process for applications is an additional unfunded liability for district and counties. When holding charter administrations accountable for conflict of interest and possible fraud, the cost multiplies.

    Unless you want deregulated-oversight light charter school accountability system; the charter school regulations of today, the price of today’s charter school system, is expensive and weak in accountability for the public’s money. To improve accountability will require much more oversight funding of charter schools.

    While cost of ineffective districts is high, I see the cost of the charter school system also high. Unfortunately, the charter school experiment has neither solved the problem of ineffective school districts, nor the high price of uneducated students to society because overall there is little difference between public schools and charter schools in outcomes.

    And, if there was overall an advantage to charter schools, I would still oppose the privatization of management but I believe public schools should be publicly managed and not privatized.

    Jim Mordecai

  • oaklandedlandscape

    @Jim Mordecai – Couldn’t agree with you more. Districts have a vested conflict of interest when authorizing charters. Let’s open it up to non-district entities like the DC Public Charter School Board. We need to support with adequate funding too.

  • J.R.

    Charters are an expensive proposition(I was not defending them,only pointing out time tested hypocrisy), I never said otherwise that however does not change the fact that regular public schools have spent orders of magnitude more money than charters do.

    Lets shine some light on this(some people wont like the bright light of truth):




    education has always been a money making opportunity(venture if you will)we have just given it different names. The citizens who work in the private sector(the ones that actually create wealth through ideas, products,services and so forth) pay dearly whether you call it public or charter.

  • Jim Mordecai


    I looked at your first reference in regard to OPEC countries and the comparison was not public education but public and private expenditures. Country like Finland public education is highly unionized but I would guess a country like Poland would have traditional Catholic education with much lower paid religious educators. Lumping public and private makes the comparison open to distortion.

    As you know the defenders of public education have continually pointed out it is the poverty of America that distorts comparisons with OPEC nations.

    The following makes the point that disparity in wealth is growing U.S. problem that is off the chart:


    Jim Mordecai

  • Jim Mordecai


    My bad alphabet reference should have been Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OPEC) and not oil cartel OPEC.

    Jim Mordecai

  • J.R.


    I am afraid you are using the old argument similar to “California has lowest per child spending”, and yet forget to acknowledge that many districts are far above the mean(LAUSD for one, and we know their results).


    In short some districts are under financed, some over, and others are just dumping grounds for money(taxpayer funded employment centers). Until we get honest truth in both directions, progress will never be made.

  • http://hotmail Mark

    Refering to comment in 2 box, I want to thank you Awoodall for doing a good job as a reporter. I was very shocked to read the comments by the Special Ed. Director who is leaving. I am thankful that she expressed herself. Just think of all the people who were and are currently caught in “quicksand,” for we need to really speak on this.

    I ask you Awoodall, if you can please attempt to get an interview with Tony Smith and ask him about the Special Education issues. I believe you can ask for an interview. That would be very good to get.

    Thank you again Awoodall for all of your fine work as a reporter. You help people, and we try in turn to help others too.

  • In and out

    @ Mark
    I admire your constructive energy and your politeness in asking for the interview. I second it. But, again, I would love to be proved wrong, but the plan is for him to fade away, no stirrups, so we can have a year of just doing nothing (a.k.a. interim) and Tony can transition into his new jo… I mean, unemployment.

  • In and out

    Ah, on a second thought, perhaps it would be great to have an interview with the two deputies, who remain as public employees in (well) paid positions and nobody has seen them taking responsibility for any snafu. Particularly Hal, the cool guy with a smile, a just renewed contract and a BMW 7.

  • John

    @ In and Out:
    Thanks for informing us that the the cool guy CFO (or whatever made up position they will give him this year) Vernon Hal just renewed his contract to screw up the budget for the 4th(? not sure because way too many to count)year in a row? So how did a guy that got asked to resign from the district previous for screwing up the budget get rehired several years later? Here is a little known fact about Vernon Hal, between his employment with OUSD the first time and this “recent” re-hire he worked for a company named GATX in SF and was let go for incompetence.

    Hopefully someone can figure out why we pay him a salary to screw up the budget. I’m sure at least 50% of the people reading can do the budget without being off by $7 million. Heck I’ll try with my working solar calculator for half his salary and guarantee I will be off by only $6 million.

  • J.R.

    Public announcement,
    The fix is in, and Oakland slick cronyism politics is at it again:

    Quan’s aide appointed to Oakland school board


  • J.R.

    We remember you Jean,
    Lets refresh memories shall we?


    Things never change when you have a city full of community activists and political opportunists.

  • gee yu

    hey guys alot more people are leaving special ed and the principal at tech high school is taking the over the sinking ship

  • Jim Mordecai

    Gee Yu:

    The tentative agreement on a contract between the District and the OEA was ratified by the membership on Friday.

    Part of the agreement pertained to Special Education in a memo of understanding between both parties. The language includes maximum class size “goals” for special education classes and provides a method of appeal when those maximum goals are exceeded.

    Here is the language from the ratified contract:

    “During the 2013-14 fiscal year the following caseloads/class sizes shall inform and guide the District in its deliberative process of determining allocation of staff:

    *Non-Severely Handicapped – 13-15
    *Severely Handicapped – 10-12
    *Autism – 8-10
    *ED (Counseling Enriched/Day Treatment – 10-12″

    Jim Mordecai

  • In and out

    Well, it is public domain how good this administration is meeting “goals” and, most important, how good they are in accounting for them.
    Surprised that there is no extensive coverage for district 4, consequences of the calamitous fiscal audit, the renewal for Hal and Montes de Oca, the ratified contract…
    I appreciate what has been done by Awoodall and contributions from the rest. Obviously the editor wants to bypass a goldmine of news about crookedness at OUSD. There will be reasons…

  • Nontcair

    SJMN values Anne Washington’s 2011 total compensation (as a *government* employee) at ~$150K/B>, including some non-specific role in the .. Fire Dept.

    Why does an Oakland mayor even need a Chief-of-Staff? Can’t Quan open her own junk-mail?

    SFGate also reports that Ms Washington has two kids in Montclair Elementary School. I’m sorry, but as a material beneficiary of BIG govermment, A-CW should be *prohibited* from voting in CA civil elections, much less actually *serving* in elected office.

    Hey, Anne! Why don’t you move to a less expensive part of town and use the money you would otherwise spend on mortgage payments to pay for your kids’ tuition at *private* school?

  • J.R.

    I am afraid you are wasting your breath, the taxpayer-funded new elite pay no notice. We taxpayers(suckers)can all eat cake as far as they are concerned. I often wonder what these people would do if there were no public sector(well the feeble minded need jobs too, I guess), and I think they would probably be on public assistance because they would never survive the real world.

  • Nontcair

    SFGate wrote: Washington said that she will remain as Quan’s chief of staff while she is on the board

    A waste yeah, but it still burns me up to see, again, socialists jumping from one branch/agency of government to the next, their flight paths diverted only by occasional stopovers at BIG Government types of NGOs.

    Once again I get to watch someone associated with the executive branch moving into a legislative (policy-making/oversight) role — in clear violation of Article 3 §3 (Separation of Powers).

    As if that weren’t bad enough, in this instance that someone will be keeping her direct, executive branch “employment”; typically an office-holder will attempt to give some appearance of separation (at least symbolically) by resigning from their previous position. For example, Yee leaving the (draft) Board to become Superintendent.

    It just goes to show how the politicians have become so arrogant that they don’t much care how bad it looks.

  • J.R.

    Why does an Oakland mayor even need a Chief-of-Staff? Can’t Quan open her own junk-mail?

    Politicians, especially the “IQ challenged, and or lazy” tend to delegate everything, and do almost nothing. If they could delegate “potty time”, they probably would. Ranked choice AKA Political Communism, lets all join hands equally at the bottom of the pile(feel the irony).

  • Nontcair

    According to Oakland.net’s bio of Ms Washington, her spouse is associated with NPR.

    Now I’m no fan of NPR, though I do listen to it from time to time. I *oppose* government sponsored dissemination of news/entertainment for many reasons, not the least of which is that it’s pure propaganda.

    However, as it relates to this thread, we don’t want someone serving in public office (ie the school board) who is inseparably connected to someone who works for a taxpayer supported media organization.

    For example, NPR regularly produces “features” that, while sometimes critical of certain (and often trivial) education policies, will *never* challenge the fundamental, progressive notion of a free and compulsory public education for every child.

    The last thing we need is the local NPR station broadcasting a story about the great things going on in OUSD.

    When will NPR provide equal time to those who express the objectively true assertion that public education is a DISASTER and needs to be abolished.

  • Nontcair

    Just so you don’t think that I’m bashing NPR, I’m also leery of business reporters and analysts.

    I actually know someone who works on Wall $t. S/he tells me that “professionals” who write about business are commonly sleeping with their sources and/or the senior executives whose firms they are paid to write about.

  • OUSDslave

    This is all absolutely true. The district lies to parents, staff, and
    teachers. Paraprofessionals are hit especially hard. We work in the
    classroom with Special ed students often assisting general ed students
    as well. Our hours have been cut from 7 hours a day to 6 hours a day so
    we are not there for the entire school day.
    The pay schedule on
    OUSD’s website and the listing on Edjoin are misleading and FALSE!c They
    show pay that is THOUSANDS of dollars more than our actual pay. Many of
    us are REQUIRED to have a college degree and specialized training (ABA,
    SIT, etc) yet we get paid POVERTY wages. It is no wonder that there is a
    high turnover of staff as we do not get pay raises or COLA.
    times if staff is absent, no subs take the jobs leaving us short
    staffed. Most of us have to work one or two other jobs just to pay for
    BASIC living expenses. It is stressful to worry if we will have enough
    money for food every month.