Kakishiba to resign from Oakland school board

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. Continue Reading


Top-level OUSD staffer leaves for the Island

Oakland’s search for a permanent superintendent is underway, but Kirsten Vital — an associate superintendent and the district’s Chief of Community Accountability — won’t stick around to see her fourth boss in three years.

Vital has been tapped to run the nearby 10,000-student Alameda school district, replacing retiring Superintendent Ardella Dailey.

Continue Reading


Oakland administrator named Lafayette supe

Oakland Unified proved an solid stepping stone for Fred Brill, a network executive officer who supervised half the district’s middle schools for the last two years and helped design the Alternative Learning Community.

The Lafayette school board is expected to announce tonight that Brill — former principal of Lafayette’s Stanley Middle School — will be the district’s new superintendent. Lafayette has about 3,000 students, and five schools.

I always enjoyed my interviews with Brill. He struck me as a high energy, enthusiastic and straightforward guy who could serve up a good quote. The hiring committee at the Lafayette School District probably thought so too (except, maybe, for the quotability part).

Here’s a blurb that’s running tomorrow in our sister paper, the Contra Costa Times: Continue Reading


Why he quit OUSD, after 17 years

Jim Farwell, a school psychologist, wrote this essay about his decision to leave the Oakland school district.

In the 17 years that I served as a school psychologist in Oakland’s special education program, I’ve encountered a number of disturbing themes.

I will never forget a staff meeting in which it was announced that children in the middle and high schools who are mandated to receive speech and language services would no longer receive services through the school district. Instead, the parents, many of whom were living under the poverty level, would be given a list of local agencies. The parents would have to pay the $100 fee per visit up front and would be reimbursed at a later time.

How can many parents afford to pay $100 to $200 a week for their child to receive speech and language services?

Then there is the way that Oakland mistreats its teachers. New staff is hired fresh out of college. They are given a six-week “orientation” the summer before the school year begins. These sincere, motivated young people are then placed in special education classes as teachers. They know nothing about class room management, curriculum, Continue Reading


Finding teachers for all of the substitutes

chalkboard.jpgAt two recent school board meetings, the father of a Howard Elementary School fourth-grader demanded to know why the district hadn’t managed to find a teacher for his daughter’s class.

The teacher left in August, soon after school began, and the void has been filled with subs — and chaos — ever since, he said.

How are these kids supposed to learn without a teacher? he asked.

This week, the fourth-graders at Howard might have bid farewell to their last sub. A permanent teacher officially started yesterday, school district officials reported. To put this chronic problem in context, here are some numbers from a Human Resources report:

From Aug. 1 through the end of November, 68 classroom teachers headed for the hills. About half Continue Reading


Next week, special ed director follows her old boss’s trail to D.C.

Phyllis Harris, who has overseen Oakland’s special education programs since July 2003, leaves her job next week — a fact that many have speculated about or known for over a month. She’s moving East to be the deputy chancellor for special education in D.C. Public Schools.

Curiously, the head of the Oakland school district also just took a job in D.C. Last month, Kim Statham accepted a position in the Washington’s new state department of education.

Harris says she has trained Lisa Ryan Cole, a 25-year district employee and an “outstanding (special education) coordinator,” to replace her, at least on an interim basis. Ryan Cole was a teacher and, most recently, the middle schools coordinator for the department. Continue Reading


A few hours later, a new boss for OUSD: Vince Matthews

vmatthews4.jpgChief of Staff Vince Matthews, 45, will replace Kim Statham as state administrator — at least, for the short term. He’s been with the district since May.

He’s a 2006 Broad Academy Fellow, a former regional supe for the San Diego schools, and a former principal at Edison Charter Academy in San Francisco and John Muir Middle School in San Leandro.

He’s got a five-page resume that lists about 10 jobs. Anyone remember his brief stint as principal at Dewey? That’s not on there.


Leadership changes at Montera, Joaquin Miller and Oakland High

principal2resize.jpgLast week, I was allowed to sit in on the auditions — I mean, interviews — for new principal at Joaquin Miller Elementary School and at Montera Middle School.

I wrote one story about the new process being used by the Oakland school district to choose school leaders, and another about the challenges and the potential at Montera. (One candidate, pictured here, goes through a role play during the interview.)

This week, the state administrator approved the committee’s selections of Russom Mesfun for principal at Montera, and Ifeoma Obodozie for Joaquin Miller. It’s not official yet — apparently there are still the fingerprints, TB testing and other loose ends to deal with — but it’s close. 

Now, Oakland High School is trying to fill its leadership void. Continue Reading


And the new principals are…

After hearing about the retirements of the Fruitvale, Joaquin Miller and Montera principals, I asked the district for a list of all of the existing schools that will have new principals in the fall. It just came in.

Here is the list of 12 14 schools, with the old principals (as of the beginning of 2006-07) and the new ones:

SCHOOL                             FORMER PRINCIPAL      NEW PRINCIPAL


Fruitvale                                Cherie Ivey                    Terry Edwards

International Community   Guillermina Gutierrez          L. Karen Monroe

Joaquin Miller                        Linda Lu                       TBD

La Escuelita                            Kristal Chin                  Tammy Rose

Maxwell Park                         Ruben Aurelio              Mary Louise-Newling

PLACE                                     Jan Hamilton                Enomowyi Booker

Rise                                          Sara Stone                     Carrie Betti


Cole                                         Toby Hopstone              Ivory Brooks

Explore                                  Asali Waters                   Michael Scott

Madison                                 Quiauna Whitfield          Lucinda Taylor

Montera                                Cheryl Rodby                   TBD

Peralta Creek                      David Kumamoto                 Gregory McNamara     


Far West                              Linda McCluskey                  Beverly Jarrett

Oakland High                      Clement Mok                         TBD                    

Then there are the new principals at the district’s new schools:

Community United Elementary School (Lockwood site) — Pati Ceja

Learning Without Limits (Jefferson site) — Leo Fuchs

International High School — Carmelita Reyes

Alternative Learning Community (Toler Heights site) — Dennis Guikema

West Oakland Middle School (Cole site) — Seyana Mawusi