Education in Oakland

Cops, Charter Schools, and Stings: Tuesday News

Posted by novometro on July 17, 2007

The Oakland Tribune has a good, but depressing, story about a city plan to use redevelopment money to pay for the cops reassigned from the airport to Oakland streets. The proposal, and the apparent lack of planning on the part of OPD and Mayor Ron Dellums, is sure to pit North Oakland against East and West Oakland in a struggle for scarce police services. I wouldn’t be surprised if secession talk picks up again.

The Oakland Tribune confirmed Monday that Liane Zimny will become the new interim director of Uprep charter school in East Oakland. The San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday that people in the know think Ms. Zimny is a good choice. Why the OUSD official charged with overseeing Uprep when the school’s director was orchestrating massive cheating is such a great find remains unclear to me.

Dubbed “Operation Strikeout,” federal and local law enforcement nabbed 140 prostitutes and pimps in a sting aimed at cracking down the traveling sex trade in the area for the All Star game. The Oakland Tribune story tells us that Mayor Ron Dellums is on the job. He is creating a “task force” to come up with an “action Plan” to combat the sexual exploitation of minors. From the Trib:  A model city, [Dellums said], can’t be one where young people are exploited. “We have to think to the size of the problem to think to the size of the solution,” Dellums said at the news conference.


6 Responses to “Cops, Charter Schools, and Stings: Tuesday News”

  1. Michael said

    What’s really remarkable about the Tribune article isn’t that Zimny was appointed (a good thing), but that Pendergrass speaks as if he just heard about these problems yesterday. Consider this nonsense:

    “In the future, Pendergrass said, the board will try to schedule its regular meetings further in advance and at times when more families will be able to attend. They will also post notices online — not just at the school.”

    Pendergrass knows that there were no regularly scheduled meetings. He was quoted himself in another article as saying that he guessed there had been “at least two” meetings in the past year. Were there really even two? And were they regularly scheduled, or were they responses to emergencies? Also, it’s not true that families didn’t show up because the meetings were at inconvenient times, or only posted at the school site. Rather, families didn’t show up because there were no meetings scheduled to show up to. And when meetings were scheduled for Saturday mornings, they were posted only late Friday afternoon, usually after school. And then the meetings were cancelled without notice. If Pendergrass doesn’t know what’s going on at the school, that may be just neglect. But surely he knows more about the board meetings than this quote suggests.

    Further, one of the administrative problems that Zimny and her staff identified (when they recommended that the school’s charter be revoked) was that the board virtually never met, and seemed to exercise no oversight. While Haqq was hustling to answer the recommendation to revoke, he made sure that the board met a couple of times within a few months, but as soon as the recommendation was rescinded, it was back to status quo ante. They didn’t even wait till the school’s charter was renewed, months after the decision to revoke was rescinded, to revert.

    Incidentally, at the school board meeting at which the charter was renewed, Haqq defended the lack of meetings by explaining that the neighborhood in which the school is located was too dangerous for him to bring his board to. This drew an immediate indignant response from current BoE Vice-President Alice Spearman. Hours later, at the conclusion of the meeting, then-Director Dan Seigel wryly remarked that he hoped that he would make it home safely in the dark, since he lives very near Eastmont, but that he was optimistic, having braved the trip home for twenty-odd years.

    Or consider this, still from the Trib:

    “The board has yet to investigate the allegations in much depth, however. Pendergrass said UPrep’s initial response to the district’s inquiry — which concluded the allegations were essentially baseless — was primarily based on information provided by Haqq, himself.”

    I’d bet that the board changed virtually nothing in the response. I’d love to see a comparison of Haqq’s draft to the board, and the board’s letter to OUSD. They certainly can’t have done much in the way of proof-reading. It rife with spelling errors and somewhat uncoventional in its approach to grammar. It’s on file at OUSD.

    “Pendergrass said Zimny will dig deeper and examine more original documents in the coming weeks.
    ‘Now, my goal is to make sure that our rushed response can be reviewed,’ Pendergrass said before adding, ‘We’re confident that the transcripts are legitimate. I probably will look at every one myself.'”

    Why was the response rushed? Hasn’t it been well over three months since that group of teachers notified the board of their concerns?

  2. V Smoothe said

    Oakland residents concerned with child prostitution and human trafficking who don’t want to wait for the task force’s “action plan” might be interested in following the work of OPD’s Child Exploitation Unit. Every six months, the Council’s Public Safety Committee hears a heartbreaking report about the current state of our child prostitution problems which details how the unit is progressing, what strategies they’re finding successful, and how they’re adjusting their methods to make them more effective. In a city where so much of our government is hopelessly disfunctional, it is heartening to see at least one division willing to look at results and constantly re-evaluate their methods. I highly recommend attending one, or at least watching on KTOP.

    I’ve been very encouraged by the large scale revision of the CEU’s strategies in the last year and a half. Hopefully the re-opening of the department’s juvenille intake desk will aid their progress. For anyone who is interested, the Council is hearing a report on the CEU’s efforts tonight (item S-35).

  3. novometro said

    OUSD didn’t send a letter to Uprep until June 11.

  4. Michael said

    I just checked, and it’s been only two months, not three, since the UPrep teachers contacted the UPrep board.

    Still, if you were on that board, would you start investigating as soon as you received the letter from the teachers, or would you wait till OUSD sent you a letter?

  5. Caroline said

    The Chronicle article said there’s a meeting on Friday, Aug. 4. I’m interested enough in this whole fiasco that I fleetingly considered going — and when I looked at my calendar I discovered that Aug. 4 is a Saturday. Did the Chron get it wrong on its own, or is this what Uprep released in an effort to confuse people into not coming to the meeting?

  6. Michael said

    I noticed that too. There is a meeting of the Oakland Board of Education, not the UPrep Board, at 4 P.M. August 8, a Wednesday, and perhaps UPrep will be discussed there.

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