Sunday, April 21, 2013

School Board President Gary Yee to be candidate for the position of Acting Superintendent in OUSD

Letter to OUSD Staff below:

Dear OUSD Staff,

I’d like to thank you for the hard work and dedication you’ve shown amidst the uncertainty surrounding the District these past two weeks. The resignation of Superintendent Tony Smith was unexpected and could have served as a distraction. Instead, you continued to focus on students over external events in a way that epitomizes your commitment to Oakland children.

Yet, given the impending leadership change, I’m sure many of you are wondering what comes next for OUSD. The Board of Education has given great thought to this topic, with particular attention paid to the need for continuity as we implement the community schools vision. We’ve also considered the logistics involved with selecting a Superintendent and whether it’s possible to conduct a search that is both thorough and allows the new leader sufficient time to prepare for the 2013-14 school year.

Given the demands of the Superintendency and its importance to the fate of the District, we don’t want to make a rushed decision. Our preference is that the next Superintendent be the product of a comprehensive search process and that he or she enters that role positioned for success. The four months remaining before the start of the 2013-14 school year will not allow us to reach this objective.

Fortunately, the Board has identified an excellent prospect for the position right here at home. At 8:30am on Monday, April 22nd, we will hold a press conference to announce Dr. Gary Yee as a candidate for the position of Acting Superintendent in the Oakland Unified School District. We will then formally consider the matter during our next Regular Board Meeting on Wednesday, April 24. At that time, a vote will be taken on Smith’s replacement.

Presently a Board Member for District 4, which includes the communities of Allendale, Brookdale, Crestmont, Dimond, Estates Drive, High Street, Laurel, Maxwell Park, Melrose, Montclair, Oakmore, Piedmont Pines, Redwood Heights, Shepherd Canyon and Thornhill, Yee has served on the School Board since 2003. Should he be appointed Acting Superintendent, the Board will have sixty calendar days to determine how to fill the vacant District 4 Trustee Seat.

An Oakland native who has been at various times, a student, parent, teacher, assistant principal and principal in OUSD, Yee boasts four decades of education experience and a lifetime of commitment to Oakland schools. This bond with the city and its school district yields a special knowledge of the challenges facing OUSD, as well as the assets we can use to overcome them.

Yee began his career in public education in 1973 when he accepted a position as a third grade teacher at OUSD’s Cleveland Elementary School. He then served as a science prep teacher at three elementary schools, a Teacher on Special Assignment for the Gifted and Talented Education Program (1983-85), an Assistant Principal at Franklin Year-Round School (1985-87), Principal at Hillcrest School (1987-90) and Assistant to the Superintendent (1992-1995). From 1995 until 2005, he served in full time faculty and administrative roles at Boston College, St. Mary's College of California and Holy Names University, preparing superintendents, principals and teachers. During that period, he also directed the Safe Passages Public Health Initiative and the Oakland Education Cabinet.

In 2005, Yee was named Dean of Instruction for Merritt College in Oakland. He retired from the Peralta Community Colleges as Vice Chancellor for Educational Services in September 2008, after stints as Director of Research and Associate Vice Chancellor of Planning. Currently, he strives to improve access to high quality instructional programs that lead to college and career success in his work with the Career Ladders Project.

Yee graduated from Castlemont High School, the University of California at Berkeley (B.A.), California State University at Hayward (Teaching Credential and Masters in Public Administration), and Stanford University (Ed.D.). First elected to the Board of Education in 2002, Yee has been re-elected twice, serving as President of the Board in 2005 and 2010, Vice President in 2005 and 2009, and Chair of the Teaching and Learning Committee in 2009. Yee has also served on the boards of Youth Alive!, Oakland Ready to Learn, California Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Faith Network of the East Bay and Fruitvale Presbyterian Church. Yee’s wife, Oakland Principal Caroline Yee (deceased), elder daughter, and son all graduated from Oakland Public Schools. His younger daughter is currently enrolled in OUSD.

Yee’s roots, relationships, academic background, and professional experience make him uniquely positioned to take the reins of the District. His understanding of the governance role can help us navigate this transitional period with the discipline required to meet the Board priorities, attain our Balanced Scorecard goals, provide a high-caliber education for all students, and produce better outcomes for Oakland’s children.

Regardless of leadership, we can only build the school district our students deserve with your support and continued dedication to this most important work. Thank you for your patience and steadfast commitment to Oakland’s children.


David Kakishiba

President, Oakland Board of Education