OUSD Board’s Gary Yee candidate for acting superintendent

The Oakland Board of Education will host a press conference on Monday April 22nd to announce Dr. Gary Yee as a candidate for the position of Acting Superintendent in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). The Board will formally consider the matter during its next Regular Board Meeting on Wednesday, April 24 when a vote will be taken on the replacement for current Superintendent Tony Smith…Read the full announcement here.


Update: Tony Smith and AIMS

At 6 p.m. tonight, the OUSD board is expected to speak publicly for the first time about the resignation of schools superintendent Tony Smith last week. There is nothing on the agenda but the board will say a few words and maybe we should expect some public comment.

In the meantime, at 5 p.m., AIPCS teachers will be “laying all details on the table” about efforts to oust AIMS board members Jean Martinez and Nedir Bey.  The teachers have invited parents and the public tonight (at the AIPCS II campus, 171 12th St.) to hear why the two should leave the board — as of tomorrow, Thursday. I can’t get to the rally tonight because of a breaking story and the OUSD board meeting at 6 p.m.

“Our goal is to inform the public, and put pressure on Dr. Jean Martinez and Nedir Bey to resign,” an AIMS teacher wrote in an email about their efforts.

Bey and Martinez are allies of former AIMS Director Ben Chavis, accused of fraud by state auditors. The OUSD board yanked the schools’ charter on March 20.

As long as Martinez and Bey are on the board, the thinking goes, Chavis is not far behind pulling the puppet strings. And as long as that’s the case, AIMS doesn’t stand a chance of keeping its charter. The teachers and other board members blame Bey and Martinez for standing in the way of hiring an outside consultant to get the AIMS finances in order. It was one of the key requirements of the OUSD board and may have cost them the charter.

“In order to bring Chavis down and hold him accountable for his actions we need to remove these two members from our school board,” the teacher wrote.

If the Alameda County Board of Education declines to overturn the OUSD revocation, AIMS can go to the state. That will be playing out in the coming months. But about a 1,000 pupils, their parents and teachers might not know the fate of the charter until summer break.

Bey is the “spiritually adopted” son of Your Black Muslim Baker founder Yusuf Bey. In 1994 Bey (Nedir) was charged with abducting and torturing a man who ran afoul of the bakery. He pleaded no contest to a felony charge of false imprisonment. He launched a failed health care company with more than $1 million in city money he never repaid. He also received public financing for a 2002 run for City Council. He was once a school site council leader at Fruitvale Elementary School. He used his birth name Victor Foster in documents filed to open a public charter school in West Oakland that he later withdrew. BART awarded him a contract for lighting work but had to reverse the decision because Bey had none of the required licensing and bonding.

But I am curious about business and other ties he and Martinez have to Chavis and I’m betting there are some of you who know a bit more.




Four more years for Tony Smith?

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The Oakland school board unanimously extended the superintendent’s contract through June 2015.

Oakland Superintendent Tony SmithThe Oakland school board votes Wednesday whether to extend the current, three-year contract for Superintendent Tony Smith (which expires in June 2012) for another three years. No changes in pay — $265,000 salary — or benefits.

You can see the full document for yourself, below.

How well do you think Smith has led the district?

Contract for Tony Smith


The other big salary in Oakland Unified

There was much debate the other week over the $265,000 salary (plus roughly $23,000 in benefits) that Oakland’s new superintendent, Tony Smith, negotiated for himself in the midst of a horrifying state budget crisis.

But Oakland’s state trustee, Vince Matthews — who will have veto power over the fiscal decisions of the newly re-empowered board — isn’t too far behind. Matthews’ former role as state administrator might have been scaled back this week, after the transition to local control, but his pay hasn’t changed: Continue Reading


Welcome to Oakland Unified, Dr. Smith

The “love fest” on the Oakland school board over its new hire — as described by Jumoke Hinton-Hodge on the night of Tony Smith’s unanimous selection — appears to be over.

Tonight, three of the seven members voted “no” on the future superintendent’s contract for various reasons — but mostly, because of the compensation. (It sounds like Smith was a formidable negotiator.)

“It’s just really difficult for me, as cheap as I am, to accept the terms of the contract as they were written,” said board member Gary Yee.

The juxtaposition of Smith’s lucrative contract with the previous agenda item — the grim budget outlook, and the prospect of closing schools, laying off staff and increasing class sizes in the next year to make ends meet — was hard to ignore. Continue Reading


The salary and benefits for Oakland’s new supe

The three-year contract for Oakland schools superintendent-to-be Tony Smith includes a base salary of $265,000 plus health coverage, a retirement contribution, and five weeks vacation. (On the agenda, the salary is listed at $275,000.)

The contract hadn’t been posted online as of a few minutes ago, apparently because of technical difficulties, but the board secretary sent me the attachment. You can read it here.

This is on tomorrow night’s agenda, along with the 2009-10 budget. (Although the agenda says that Vince Matthews will adopt the budget tomorrow night, spokesman Troy Flint checked and said that it won’t, in fact, be adopted until the June 24 meeting.)

What do you think about the contract?


And Oakland’s next schools chief is…

Tony Smith.

UPDATE: You can find the full story about his selection here.

Board member Jumoke Hinton Hodge said the board spent hours deliberating about the finalists and that, after 10:30 p.m., it finally took a unanimous vote to tap Smith for the post.

“We’re really proud that the superintendent search taught us how to be a team,” Hinton Hodge said, describing the end of the intense meeting as “a love fest.”

“I think he’s willing to take risks around some of our big issues,” she said, referring to the district’s achievement gap and other challenges. Continue Reading


So, who will it be?

I just returned from the town hall meeting featuring the final three superintendent candidates. I spoke with a number of people throughout the event and afterward, and asked their perceptions of each finalist: Barbara Adams (right), Tony Smith, and Edward Velasquez.

At least in terms of popular opinion, it seems as though the front-runners are Smith, a deputy superintendent in San Francisco, and Velasquez, superintendent of the 33,000-student Montebello school district in Los Angeles County.

Continue Reading