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Is it something in the air? Neighboring school principals retire unexpectedly

 Thursday update: The location of the meeting has been changed to the Montera cafeteria.

The longtime principals of Joaquin Miller Elementary School and its next-door neighbor, Montera Middle School, retired this month — much to the surprise of some parents.

Some learned about the departures of Linda Lu and Cheryl Rodby through letters mailed home. Others, such as Maria Ku, found out through a Yahoo! group for Montera families. (What would parents do without their online networks?)

Before new leaders are chosen, district staff say, they want to gather input from families. A meeting for parents at both schools is scheduled at 7 p.m. July 23 in the Montera cafeteria.

Eric Nelson, a central office administrator who oversees Joaquin Miller, says people will split into small groups, according to school, and discuss “the skills and characteristics they’re hoping to see in their principal.”

District staff will meet with teachers earlier in the day to ask the same questions.

Ku notes a potential problem with the setup: Continue Reading

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Charter school principal resigns amid cheating allegations

Isaac Haqq, the controversial principal of the University Preparatory Charter Academy in East Oakland, has quit.

The Oakland school district is investigating a slew of allegations made this spring by a group of teachers that Haqq fixed grades, kept lower-performing students from taking certain standardized tests and fostered an atmosphere of cheating at the school, among other things.

The school’s governing board responded with a binder full of policies, procedures and other evidence which, they said, cleared the school of those accusations.

Kirsten Vital, the district’s chief of community accountability, says district staff are determining where to go from here. She said they would likely know more by Monday or Tuesday.

Allison Sands, who has been filling in on charter oversight issues since Liane Zimny left earlier this year, said they will take Haqq’s departure into account. But, she said, questions remain, and the investigation will continue.

By the way, OUSD has hired a full-time charter schools director — David Montes — who is getting up to speed on his new duties. More on that later.

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Is anybody in there? The OUSD central office exodus

In the high-stress world of urban education, it’s not just teachers who leave their jobs en masse. A number of key Oakland school district leaders have — or will soon — bid farewell to the crumbling facility on Second Avenue.

Some of the managers lost their jobs in the central office redesign. Some found more rewarding work elsewhere. Some retired.

This list is evolving, but here are some of the names I have been able to gather:

  • Barak Ben-Gal, budget director (left this spring and took a job at Yahoo!)
  • Roqua Montez, communications director
  • Oswaldo Galarza, information and technology officer, and several other IT personnel
  • Liane Zimny, charter schools coordinator
  • Vince Meyer, director of buildings and grounds
  • Tanya Avila, after-school program coordinator Continue Reading