San Leandro School Board

Oct 302014

sroThe San Leandro Police Department applied for a $500,000 COPS grant to fund a total of four school resource officers (SRO’s). The SLPD, however, neglected to let the City Council and the School Board know that they would be on the hook for $1.69 million in matching funds. Any money spent on the SROs would have to be diverted from other uses. In the case of the school district, it might mean further cutting educational programs and not being able to restore counselors and nurses.

I contacted candidates for Mayor, City Council and School Board to ascertain how they would vote on this grant.


At-Large Seat

Candidates Jeanne Kinkella and Peter Oshinski are both in favor of accepting the COPS grant and having the school district pay the whole $1.69 million.

Candidate Evelyn Gonzalez believes that the the City should continue to pay for the two current SROs, and that the District should not spend money on the officers.

Candidate Monique Tate did not respond to my request for her position on this issue.

Area 4 Seat

Candidate Leo Sheridan said he did not support the District paying the full $1.69 million but he did not specify how it should be split. He does support keeping just two SROs at the district.

Candidates Chike Udemezue and Latrina Dumas did not respond to my request for their positions on this issue.


Diana Souza favors accepting the grant and splitting he $1.69 million costs between the City and the school district. She did not specify on what ratio. She is endorsed by the Police union.

Dan Dillman opposes the school district accepting the grant, but believes that if it does, it should pay the full amount.

Pauline Cutter supports maintaining the status quo, with the City funding two SROs.  If the School District wants more than two, Cutter believes the District should pay for the additional officers.

Gregg Daly opposes accepting the grant.


District 1

David Anderson favors accepting the grant and splitting the costs between the City Council and the School District.

Mike Katz-Lacabe opposes accepting the grant and notes that research has found SROs do not make schools safer

Deborah Cox and Ken Pon would not take a public stance on this issue. Cox is endorsed by the Police union.

District 3

Lee Thomas favors accepting the grant and splitting the costs between the City Council and the School District. He is endorsed by the Police union.

Allen Schoenfeld and Victor Aguilar favor maintaining the status quo, with the City continuing to pay for the two existing SROs.

District 5

Corina Lopez believes it’s the responsibility of the City, not the school district, to pay for law enforcement. She did not specify whether the City should continue paying for the two existing SROs or accept the grant and pay the whole $1.69 million to bring them up to four.

Mia Ousley opposes accepting the grant.

Leah Hall would not take a public stance on this issue.


Oct 222014

policeschoolThe following are tweets from last night’s San Leandro School Board meeting, made by parent Mia Ousley  (@Mia4Council), who is currently running for City Council District 5. The SLPD applied for a $500K COPS grant to put four resource officers in San Leandro schools. In return, the district would have to pay $1.7 million dollars, and cut programs accordingly. In addition to the people quoted below, several other parents and several teachers/counselors/nurses also spoke out against accepting the grant. The student trustee – who does not get a vote – did so as well. Only Board members Diana Prola and Ron Carey spoke in favor (but see comment below). 

Any parent who is concerned about using education money to fund police officers and/or has an opinion on what educational programs should be cut/not restored in order to pay for them, should speak out at the Nov. 18th School Board meeting and e-mail the Board.

For more information please e-mail School Board member Mike Katz-Lacabe:

Tweets from the School Board meeting

Evelyn Gonzalez approves of School Resource Officers, just asks for city to foot most of the bill.

Jessica Sievert – Mom of kindergardener, our work is to help change trajectory of at-risk youth so we don’t need police in schools.
Feels district is being forced to pay, district’s hand is being twisted. Feels politically inappropriate way to allocate money.
Any funding for students should not be pulled from other education resources to fund this.

Cynthia Chandler — Letter from district said Bancroft so deficient that parents have right to transfer out of district, so why spend money on police rather than on getting resources needed in classrooms and for teachers.

Liz Torres – 3 kids in 3rd, 6th, and 12th grade. We need safety and resources in schools, not more police.
$1.69 million should go to programs that uplift and inspire our children and prevent violence, not react to it.
Policing campuses is wrong direction and is misuse of our funds. After-school programs are what we need more of, what helps kids.

[School Board Trustee] Mike Katz-Lacabe – We have 1.8 nurses for 8800 students, this will prevent us from restoring cuts made in the past.
Doesn’t want to establish a precedent for the district funding SROs, outstanding Cathy Pickard notwithstanding.
Yet to see data showing SROs increase safety. Anecdotes are not evidence.
How many of our students get arrested instead of receiving school discipline  and what is their racial make-up? We (the school board) should NOT approve this grant.

[Mia Ousley‘s]  own statement — do not accept this grant because: (1) $$ needed for counselors, after-school programs, supplies, etc. – not police
(2) Hiring police to do job of counselors is harmful to students, and expensive to district.
(3) $1.7 million over 4 years is $106,250/year/officer . . . seems we’re paying MOST of their cost, not just some.
(4) Police shouldn’t help run student groups or after school programs, as the grant requires.
(5) Adding police to schools sends message that we expect kids to get into trouble.
(6) District should instead be teaching non-violent communication, implementing restorative justice, and hiring trained counselors.
And finally (7) It’s shameful this issue didn’t come before parents BEFORE SLPD applied for grant & BEFORE City Council voted on it.

Motion tabled ’til Nov. 18 meeting. Board President [Lance James] wants to give supporters a chance for public input to counter tonight’s public speakers.
Trustee Diana Prola only one to vote NO on tabling, saying “We need to have the cojones to vote the way we think.”
My opponent for City Council [Corina Lopez] was the only Trustee not to speak on the issue at all; perhaps she didn’t want to say anything controversial?

Oct 122014
Evelyn Gonzalez

Evelyn Gonzalez

The San Leandro School Board has two seats open this November.  The election is by plurality vote – whoever gets the most votes wins, even if they get under 50% of the total vote -, and all registered voters who live within the boundaries of the San Leandro School District can vote in both races.

The race for Area 4 is between three parents: Latrina Dumas, Chike Udemezue and Leo Sheridan.  Parents Evelyn Gonzalez and Monique Taste, retired New Haven teacher Jean Kinkella, and  Peter Oshinski, who runs Hayward Unified’s school lunch program, are contesting for the At-Large seat.

Among these candidates, Latrina Dumas and Evelyn Gonzalez are the clear choice: they have the most experience with our schools, a far better understanding of the challenges facing the School district and have demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to improve not just specific schools, but the district as a whole.

There are great similarities between Dumas and Gonzalez and, indeed, they have worked together over the years.  They both have children that have made their way through San Leandro public schools from elementary onwards (Duma’s youngest daughter is in 5th grade).  They both have been extremely involved in their kids’ schools as class parents, PTA presidents, Site Council members and more.  They’ve even helped other schools with fundraising and other issues – when McKinley Elementary needed to get a computer lab, it was Gonzalez who lined up the donors and made the lab a reality.

As parents of a special needs child, they’ve both experienced the disfunctions of the special education department at the school district.  They understand how it needs to be reformed to serve what is a growing population.  And as parents of children of color, they’ve seen the challenges that minority children face in schools that have a mostly white faculty.

Serving in the School Board requires more than just knowing how a school works. You need to understand budgets, funding sources, state policies and the competing interests of different stakeholders.  Dumas and Gonzalez, alone among the candidates, have been attending School Board meetings for a decade, reading the materials, engaging with Board members and administrators, helping craft policy and advocating on specific issues.  If they are elected, they’ll be able to hit the ground running, rather than spend years trying to get up to speed.

Neither Gonzalez nor Dumas are very political, but they are both personally committed to social justice.  They both volunteer with different organizations helping those in need, and they stand up for the rights of the marginalized.  Finally, they are both caring and non-judgmental people.  They see the potential in children, what they can do, rather than what they can’t.  They believe in instilling personal responsibility, but also offering support to kids that are struggling.  They will bring a sense of humanity and compassion into the School Board that is, frankly, missing.

I know less about the other candidates, in part because they haven’t been as involved in the school district.  Udemezue, Sheridan and Tate are active parents in their children’s schools, but they’ve shown little interest in reaching out to the community as a whole and no desire to learn the actual mechanics of the district and the issues it faces.   I don’t think Kinkella and Oshinski have had any relationship with the schools or the district.  In any case, given the vast experience, knowledge and commitment that Gonzalez and Dumas have demonstrated, they are the obvious choice for School Board.

More info on Latrina Dumas: Smart Voter

More info on Evelyn Gonzalez: Voter’s Questionnaire, Candidate Statement, Smart Voter, Website, Facebook 

More info on Chike Udemezue: Smart Voter, Website

More info on Leo Sheridan: Candidate Statement, Smart VoterWebsite, Facebook, Twitter: @voteleosheridan

More info on Peter Oshinski: Candidate Statement, Smart VoterFacebook

More info on Monique Tate: Smart VoterWebsite,

More info on Jean Kinkella: Smart VoterWebsite,

Oct 092014
Evelyn Gonzalez

Evelyn Gonzalez

In order to better get to know the candidates for San Leandro offices, I sent out a questionnaire to all School Board candidates. The following are the answers from Evelyn Gonzalez. She is running for the San Leandro Board of Education At-Large seat against three other candidates. The winner will be chosen by a plurality of the vote.

Briefly, tell us about you and why you believe you are the best candidate for this School Board seat?

I am passionate about and dedicated to San Leandro public schools.  I have demonstrated my passion and dedication, through 15 years of active involvement at school sites and district committees. As the mother of four children educated by the San Leandro school system, two SLHS graduates and two SLHS juniors, I understand firsthand the challenges facing students, parents, teachers, administrators, and school sites. Fifteen years of firsthand experience and involvement affords me deeper knowledge of both the issues and the people who are addressing the issues. I have regularly attended and spoken at school board meetings for the last three years. As a result, I am already up to speed on the current SLUSD goals, and the challenges facing the district. Since the At-Large seat is a short term seat, the board member will not have time to learn on the job.

For the last three years I have represented the SLUSD on the Recreation and Parks Commission. This role has allowed me to work with both the city and the school district. I have worked collaboratively with both the City and the District, and have helped drive collaboration between the two. This makes both our schools and city better. I have also been a board member on San Leandro and national non-profit boards. Board positions have allowed me the opportunity to look critically at financial statements, ask good questions, and help shape the direction of an organization. This experience is critical for a school board member.

Finally, I am backed by a spouse that is equally passionate about public education, brings excellent financial analysis skills, and is committed to supporting our schools.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the San Leandro School District and how would you tackle it?

The School Board must address: instruction that meets the needs of all students, support for teachers and staff, better communication, enhanced transparency and accountability, and improved technology. SLUSD faces a multitude of changes: a new funding formula and method for developing budgets, new common core curriculum and testing, and new administrators (both at district office and many school sites). There is a great potential with these changes, but there is also a great risk that poor decisions will be made. The school board needs to take a strong leadership role in overseeing these changes in our school district.

At its most basic level, the key to achieving these goals is communication. I will communicate with the employees, parents, and students at our school sites. I will explore whether these new ideas are working. Are the trainings and staff development helpful? Are our expenditures having the expected outcomes? What do classroom teachers need with respect to the new curriculum and changes in testing? How are administrators doing? Open channels of communication enable the assessment of progress. My 15 years of involvement in the schools gives me the credibility to facilitate open and honest communication.

What ideas do you have for creating a better relationship with the City and Community?

Since I have been active in the city for over 15 years, I personally have a great relationship with many city staff members. Moving the district office to City hall certainly allows for more school and city conversations, and greater collaboration.

One of the keys is that school board members need to attend city meetings (e.g., transportation, housing, etc.) and listen for impacts to our schools. School board members need to give feedback to the City. Currently, we have a city manager who is supportive of our schools and a superintendent who wants to work with the city. As a school board member we need to encourage that collaboration. We also need to identify areas where we can work together.

Some specific areas that would benefit from greater collaboration are: recreational spaces, lack of east-west transportation, and technologically bringing our schools into the modern world.

Do you believe there are systemic problems with racial/sexual/gender-based or other discrimination in San Leandro schools? How would you tackle them?

Over the years, I have observed some behavior that appears discriminatory. Some of our elementary schools have adopted great programs for their school sites. We need these programs to be available for all schools.

We need to create a school culture where staff and students work together to provide a safe place for everyone; a place where differences are celebrated.

Do you support turning the 9th grade campus into a High Tech campus? If so, what will you to have it become a reality?

I think this could be a great use for the new building. The 9th grade separation has not worked as effectively as envisioned. Our academies at the high school successfully provide students with a small school feel within a bigger campus. Although I’ve not seen a formal proposal to do so, I would be very open to utilizing the 9th grade building as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Academy or a STEAM (STEM plus art brings a creative element to STEM) Academy.

I would enjoy working with San Leandro businesses to help make this a reality. Our city is going in this direction and I think we can get help from the community to make this happen. I would also work with San Leandro Education Foundation (SLED) to find funding and support.

Do you support warrantless searches of student lockers? Drug-sniffing dogs on campus?

As a general principle, I believe in creating positive school environments that are based on trust. I am a strong supporter of individual rights. At times, the privacy desired by students can come into conflict with the needs of the broader school community (e.g., safety). To the extent that we need to pursue the needs of the broader community, we must always do so lawfully, i.e., consistent with Ed Code and court decisions.

Do you support school dress codes that ban clothing commonly worn outside of school?

I support the creation of a school culture that supports student education. This can include how we dress, how we speak, and how we treat other people. How we speak and dress at home may be different than what is expected at school. Creating and defining a school culture needs to be process that involved students, parents, teachers, staff, administrators and community members. When our students enter the work force, they will need to understand that many workplaces have a workplace culture, with expected norms and behaviors. Our school culture needs to be sensitive to the many home cultures present in our school district. We need to listen to many voices in the creation of school policies around creating a school culture.

Do you believe religious texts, practices or songs should be part of the school’s curricular or extracurricular activities? If yes, please specify how.

I am not opposed to the use of religious text, practices and songs. So much of a person’s cultural identity is embedded in their religion. Students can learn a lot about a culture through their religious text, songs and practices. We are very lucky in the Bay Area to have so many different cultures and religious beliefs present. I would be concerned if we were only focused on the texts, practices and songs of one religion, and did not expose our students to the broader set of the world’s religions.

Do you believe that back gate of the High School should be left open before and after school hours, so the community can access the sports facilities?

I believe all the school district recreation spaces should be open to the public when school is not in session. These spaces should also be secured after dark. We have staff on site at the high school until 9:00 p.m., so one of the responsibilities could be securing the space after dark.

Evelyn’s candidate statement, websitefacebook page

May 052011

Congratulations and Thank You to Rob Rich for winning this auction! Roosevelt Elementary is several hundreds of dollars richer, and after Sue of Level 5 Salon did her magic, Mike looks younger and thinner than ever. Thank you Sue!

Come on, admit it! You aren’t entirely happy with how the San Leandro School Board is doing.  In particular Mike Katz-Lacabe (aka “my husband’)  should be doing a much better job!  Maybe you are a teacher and angry at him because he stuffed your classroom with kids, maybe you teach PE and resent that the Board cut your hours next year, maybe you are a parent and resent his views on homosexuality, religion, race or uniforms…  Perhaps you are even a former superintendent and really have a beef with him.

And there is no reason for this to end there!  Are you a personal friend of former trustees that he helped defeat?  Do you hate Mayor Cassidy? Mike helped elect him!   Are you upset about how high your property taxes are?  Mike worked to pass two bond measures for the schools.  He is despicable.

Now it’s your chance to get back at him.  You know that long, luscious brown hair that is his pride and joy?  That soft, smooth, silky mane that gives him that sexy heavy Jesus look?  Well, you can now rid him of it!  Cut if off, leave him looking like a hedgehogRoosevelt Elementary will be holding its annual Spring Auction this Saturday, May 7th, starting at 5 PM (at the Veteran’s Memorial Hall on Bancroft Ave.).  Mike will be auctioning his ponytail to the highest bidder during a live auction at the end of the night.  The winner gets to cut it off him or herself, in front of a live audience, and then donate the ponytail to the Locks of Love charity.  If you can’t be there, maybe you can get someone else to bid and do the deed for you (Tony Santos, here is your chance at revenge!).  But don’t miss this unique opportunity.

Now, here is the best part.  Sunday is Mother’s Day so you know he won’t be able to get a real haircut until Monday at the earliest – so you can have the satisfaction of having him looking goofy during my special day.  You hate me too, right?

So come to the event and bid high!