School board picks Hu for seat

School board picks Hu for seat

Dave Boitano
Philip Hu

A former college professor and newcomer to Alameda has been chosen as the new member of Alameda's Board of Education.

Philip Hu, an assistant general manager for Public Employees Union Local 1, has lived on the Island for only seven months. But he won the trustee’s post Tuesday night after another finalist, Jane Grimaldi, withdrew from the race.

Hu will replace former school board trustee Trish Spencer, who was elected mayor in November.

Grimaldi’s withdrawal ended a four-hour board meeting marked by numerous tie votes, speeches by trustees backing certain candidates and statements from 10 applicants for the open seat.

“Let’s get to the finish line and get back to business,” she said, voluntarily breaking the board’s deadlock.

Hu and Grimaldi became the finalists after the board could not agree on a single candidate and both applicants had received at least two votes on previous ballots.

Niel Tam and Gary Lym alternately backed Hu and candidate Sherice Youngblood, a mother of three who sits on the governing board for The Academy of Alameda charter school, while Solana Henneberry and board president Barbara Kahn voted for Grimaldi. Will C. Wood Middle School parent Blanche Kim and Anne DeBardeleben, a former president of the Alameda Association of Realtors who has led school parcel tax campaigns and been an active presence at school board meetings, were also considered during several rounds of voting.

Lym and several members of the audience praised Youngblood, saying that she would bring diversity to the board and help foster educational equity for low income at-risk students. Youngblood, a social worker at San Francisco General Hospital, has two children attending district schools and a third at The Academy of Alameda.

“For me I believe that on the equity issues there needs to be someone that they (students) see as a role model,” Lym said.

But Kahn, an opponent of charter schools, created a controversy by stating that Youngblood had not revealed her membership on the charter school’s board of directors and would have to resign that post if she were elected to the public school board - forcing her to defend her choice of schools.

“She still brings with her an attitude toward charter schools that is less than skeptical,” Kahn said. “I believe in that skepticism because of the law and the problems we as a district face from the expansion of charters, I felt that that was important that we not have a representative of that point of view on the board.”

Youngblood responded that she was open about her membership on the charter board and that she placed her son at The Academy to take advantage of an after-school program on the campus.

“I feel personally attacked and shamed by your comments. I have been very open and it has been announced that I am on the board of the Academy of Alameda,” she said.

Youngblood said that if she had chosen her neighborhood school, her son would have to take a bus and be without supervision until she came home at 6 p.m.

“That’s the choice the district gave me. I had do the best I could with what I was given,” she said. “And I think it’s extremely sad and a testament to this community, those comments you made, and it shows why we need diversity on this board. You clearly proved my point."

Hu has taught English in the California State University system and at community colleges for 19 years. He is a former member of the San Gabriel school board, and trustees said they liked his experience in education.

Hu told The Alamedan that his goals include reestablishing trust between the school board and the public, providing students with a 21st century education and creating a long-term vision for the district that promotes “out of the box” thinking.

“I’m stunned, I’m incredibly humbled,” Hu said after he was voted in, “I really have no words to describe what happened.”


Submitted by b. (not verified) on Wed, Feb 4, 2015

Ugh! What a bunch of soap-opera queens! Can't believe this kind of thing goes on in this day and age. So, somebody had a burr in their britches about one issue, and decided to sabotage a candidate at the last moment. So sad this sort of political clap-trap has to go on. You'd think that everyone involved would put aside their personal political nuttiness and consider the fact that this Island is a unique and special place, and come together harmoniously to choose someone who is either a native of the Island or has a child in the system, or someone who has at least lived here long enough to truly know the issues. Voting in a relative "newcomer" in a position like this simply because of one person's political pressures speaks very poorly of the whole board and the entire situation.

Submitted by A-la-median (not verified) on Wed, Feb 4, 2015

"But Kahn, an opponent of charter schools, created a controversy by stating that Youngblood had not revealed her membership on the charter school’s board of directors and would have to resign that post if she were elected to the public school board"

Sherice Youngblood mentions her seat on AoA's board not once, but twice, in her typewritten application for the vacant AUSD board position. She also mentions her intention to resign that seat should she be appointed to AUSD's board.

Kahn should either do her diligence, or be quiet. We live in hope...

Jon Spangler's picture
Submitted by Jon Spangler on Wed, Feb 4, 2015

I am saddened that the final selection process was so contentious, but once again, it is clear that our community really cares about its schools and its kids: we had lots of qualified and capable candidates who could have done well in the role and our trustees clearly take their responsibilities quite seriously, regardless of their views on particular issues or candidates.

Like most human endeavors, governance--especially local governance--is less than perfect. But so far, it seems to be good enough, and the school board is still working better now than it did just a few months ago. A good selection has been made and it is time for the now-whole board to get to work on the issues facing AUSD.

Frankly, after witnessing recent council meetings, I have more concern about the quality of future meetings at city hall than those at the AUSD...

Submitted by MJ (not verified) on Wed, Feb 4, 2015

Democracy is messy. Get over it.

Submitted by Denia (not verified) on Wed, Feb 4, 2015

I completely agree -- democracy is messy.

I applaud last night's end result. Mr. Hu is a newcomer to Alameda but I think the pros of that factor outweigh the cons in this case. He not only cares deeply about public education, but he brings great technical expertise (and will not have to waste any time or energy getting caught up on the vast rules, regulations, and ordinances that govern school board business matters), and he brings his professional experience from other school districts. He is able to draw upon the successes and trials that other school districts have undergone and can offer that as context to his colleagues and the public. No other current board member offers this skill set.

And FWIW, I believe that Board Member Kahn has raised very valid concerns about charter schools. She may, or may not, be ideologically opposed to ALL charter schools, but I have not taken her comments last night or in the recent AoA meeting to be such. And I say this as a local charter school parent, I see both sides.

Submitted by Jen Laird (not verified) on Wed, Feb 4, 2015

I think there were a number of excellent candidates, and choosing one was going to be difficult.

I wasn't at the meeting last night, but from what I read in the AUSDNews Tweets and this coverage I am very disappointed in Kahn's comments about Sherice Youngblood. While I think Khan's is wrong in the way she characterized Sherice's decision to select the Academy of Alameda as their family's middle school (their elementary and high school age kids go to AUSD schools), what is most troubling to me is that she appears to have accused Sherice of hiding the fact that she is sits on the AoA Board. I see this mentioned THREE TIMES in Sherice's application (page 1, 2, and 3 of her attachment). The final reference notes exactly what Kahn said at the meeting-- that Sherice would have to resign form the AoA Board if she was selected for the AUSD Board. This was exactly Sherice's plan. I hope Kahn apologizes to Sherice, in private or public, for accusing her of hiding her position on the AoA Board, if that is in fact what happened last night.

I have worked with Sherice and she is a coalition builder, and a great collaborator. She would have been a great access to the Board, as would have a number of the other candidates. When I first read Hu's application the fact that he's lived in Alameda troubled me, but from the exchanges I read about via the Tweets and in this coverage, I can understand why he was selected. I thank him and all the other candidates for being interested and willing to serve!

Submitted by Sherice Youngblood (not verified) on Wed, Feb 4, 2015

While I congratulate Mr.Hu I lost faith in my community and recovered it all in one night. For the first time since moving to this magnificent island on May 15, of 2009 I felt embarrassed to be an Alamedan. I felt disrespected, discounted, attacked and discriminated against based on personal choices I made to benefit my family. I felt punished and reprimanded for taking on a leadership role at my son’s school. I was the only candidate of the 23 whose character was personally called into question.
The reality that my elected officials were publicly treating me in this manor was most hurtful. The fact that this treatment occurred as I attempted to continue my efforts to dedicate my time to my children's education is unimaginable. My dedication to my children has never wavered rather they attended public, private or charter schools. How can a school board member publicly punish a parent for participating in their children's school? This treatment was unwarranted, unprovoked, unprofessional and outright cruel.

The fact that our school board president Barbara Kahn continues to use over 9000 children to serve a personal vendetta should outrage every parent and citizen of this city. Parents should no longer whisper "you know what this is really about" when referring to her actions on this board. Parents should be outraged their children are being used as pawns. Despite your feelings about charter schools, I remain confident we all agree our elected officials speak for those they represent not for personal gain or redemption. I encourage you to view the video of the school board’s special meeting held on February 3, 2015.

I was saddened that are newly elected member Solana Henneberry decided to affirm this behavior without exercising her ability to think independently. Henneberry admitted to making a decision about my qualifications, not based on my educational experiences, not based on my volunteer commitments spanning across three island schools, however on the actions of some of my fellow board members at one meeting. Please explain to me how this is collaborative? Making a rash decision based on one incident is not in character for a board member or any critical thinking adult.

Board members Kahn and Henneberry sent a clear message during this otherwise remarkable community engagement process, virtually ignoring their constituents, paying no attention to the countless letters of support and union backing of multiple candidates. It saddens me that my Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, my Master’s degree in Social Work, union endorsement, experience working within collective bargaining agreements or two children currently in Alameda public schools were of no importance to these two particular board members. However my decision to send my child to a school across the street from my home was a deciding factor.

I was most offended by board member Henneberry’s comments related to her experience with socioeconomic disadvantaged children. Mrs. Henneberry working in a population 8 hours a day does not compare to living in a population for a life time! The fact that Mrs. Henneberry would make such a statement without recognizing the privilege for which she holds in relation to myself clearly illustrates her lack of familiarity with diversity of any kind.

I remain stunned by the multiple community minded, dedicated, pound the pavement candidates that were overlooked based on any affiliation to a charter school, which is a right afforded to each of us by state law. When we start restricting access to parents and community members because they don't think like we do or aren't fortunate enough to make decisions we’re able to make we in fact circumvent the democratic process all together.
Thank you to all the candidates I met along the way. Thank you, Steve Good you are an extremely talented resourceful candidate you are not "the charter guy." Thank you, Sean Cahill your community presence remains important to this city. Thank you, Pat Peterson for returning after the original round to support me. Thank you, Anne DeBardeleb for serving our students for multiple years. Thank you, CSEA 27 and 860 for your endorsement. A special thank you to all the community members, district staff members, and candidates whom I don't know that physically and emotionally held me as I exited one of my neighborhood schools feeling hopeless.

Please excuse my grammar, punctuation or any misspellings as my thoughts and actions are raw with emotion and pain.

Sherice Youngblood (PROUD Alameda public and charter school parent)

Submitted by Robert Cassard (not verified) on Wed, Feb 4, 2015

I'm disappointed whenever a member of the AUSD Board treats Alameda's public charter schools as the enemy of "district schools." In accordance with state law, these public charters are authorized by the AUSD, and they contribute strongly to the diversity and overall excellence of educational opportunities here.

As elected officials, it's the duty of AUSD Board members to represent ALL the students attending all our public schools. Members like Barbara Khan would do well to remember that many of the most engaged families and education supporters in Alameda have one or more children attending a charter. These families have been instrumental in the passage of Measure A and the facilities improvement bond measure. And they vote in School Board elections! (Note to Barbara: I voted for you back when you professed to be a charter supporter. I wish I could take my vote back.)

I served on the board of CLCS (the charter management organization for the ACLC and Nea public charters) for three years. During that time, I was encouraged by the cooperative relationship that I saw developing between AUSD and charter school leadership. The reinstatement of athletic privileges for charter students demonstrated AUSD's good faith effort to serve all our public school students. The long-term lease arrangement the district negotiated with CLCS was another great example of such cooperation.

AUSD's interim Superintendent Sean McPhetridge is proving himself to be a smart guy with a cool head that understands the role and value of public charter schools in Alameda. I'm hopeful that Philip Hu will follow his lead rather than Ms. Khan's.

Submitted by A Concerned Parent (not verified) on Wed, Feb 4, 2015

As a parent of children who have attended both public district schools and public charter schools, I am shocked by the conduct of School Board member, Barbara Kahn, in this selection process. AUSD School Board members are publicly elected officials (except for this rare selection process) - meaning they are elected by the entire community of Alameda, not just by voters whose children attend public district schools. This means that School Board members must be committed to making decisions for the good of ALL students attending Alameda public schools, not just those attending district schools. AUSD is the issuing agency for Alameda public charters which means they have oversight of these schools and, as a publicly elected Board, they must act in the best interests of charter students as well as district students. Alameda has a history of positive and even, synergistic, relationships with its charter schools which should be valued and respected, rather than denigrated as Kahn did. In addition, Kahn's reprehensible treatment of a dedicated and knowledgable community volunteer like Sherice Youngblood is shameful and unbefitting of a person invested with the public trust.
As a member of the Alameda voting public who voted for Barbara Kahn in the last election, I am calling for her resignation from the AUSD School Board. Her demonstrated personal bias shows a clear inability to make good decisions for the benefit of ALL public school students in Alameda and makes her unfit to serve in this position. Barbara Kahn should resign and be replaced with Sherice Youngblood!

Submitted by nora (not verified) on Wed, Feb 4, 2015

It is a shame that AUSD has board members who are not broad-minded enough to welcome the perspective of a charter school board member into their discussions! And they wonder why anyone would vote against an AUSD parcel tax. Remember Barbara Kahn the next time AUSD asks for your vote!

Submitted by Island Bound (not verified) on Wed, Feb 4, 2015

Barbara Kahn has no business being president of the school board. She isn't respectful of the process or of her fellow board members. There are simple forms of process and procedure that she does not follow instead deferring her responsibility to the Superintendent, someone who is supposed to report to her. She publicly shows her dislike of new board member Gary Lym through her consistent jabs at him from the Dias. Very unprofessional.
She has an anti choice agenda for this district. Her treatment of Ms Youngblood really shows her true colors. I believe given the opportunity to revoke all charters in Alameda that she would vote for it in a minute. A terrible reflection of this community.

Submitted by MJ (not verified) on Wed, Feb 4, 2015

This vilification of Barbara Kahn reads like sour grapes. The chances were to 10 to 1 that any particular candidate should get the job. The guy they picked is probably fine.

Submitted by frank on Wed, Feb 4, 2015

If Citizens have problems with the process or the individual selected they have the option of having the District conduct an Election. They must gather verified signatures to put this on a Ballot.
5090. Vacancies on school district governing boards or community college district boards are caused by any of the events specified in Section 1770 of the Government Code, or by a failure to elect. A vacancy resulting from resignation occurs when the written resignation is filed with the county superintendent of schools having jurisdiction over the district, except where a deferred effective date is specified in the resignation so filed, in which case the resignation shall become effective on that date. A written resignation, whether specifying a deferred effective date or otherwise, shall, upon being filed with the county superintendent of schools be irrevocable.

5091. (a) Whenever a vacancy occurs, or whenever a resignation has been filed with the county superintendent of schools containing a deferred effective date, the school district or community college district governing board shall, within 60 days of the vacancy or the filing of the deferred resignation, either order an election or make a provisional appointment to fill the vacancy. A governing board member may not defer the effective date of his or her resignation for more than 60 days after he or she files the resignation with the county superintendent of schools.
In the event that a governing board fails to make a provisional appointment or order an election within the prescribed 60-day period as required by this section, the county superintendent of schools shall order an election to fill the vacancy.
(b) When an election is ordered, it shall be held on the next established election date provided pursuant to Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 1000) of Division 1 of the Elections Code not less than 130 days after the order of the election.
(c) (1) If a provisional appointment is made within the 60-day period, the registered voters of the district may, within 30 days from the date of the appointment, petition for the conduct of a special election to fill the vacancy. A petition shall be deemed to bear a sufficient number of signatures if signed by at least the number of registered voters of the district equal to 1 1/2 percent of the number of registered voters of the district at the time of the last regular election for governing board members, or 25 registered
voters, whichever is greater. However, in districts with registered voters of less than 2,000 persons, a petition shall be deemed to bear a sufficient number of signatures if signed by at least 5 percent of the number of registered voters of the district at the time of the last regular election for governing board members.
(2) The petition shall be submitted to the county superintendent of schools having jurisdiction who shall have 30 days to verify the signatures. If the petition is determined to be legally sufficient by the county superintendent of schools, the provisional appointment is terminated, and the county superintendent of schools shall order a special election to be conducted no later than the 130th day after the determination. However, if an established election date, as defined in Section 1000 of the Elections Code, occurs between the 130th day and the 150th day following the order of the election, the county superintendent of schools may order the special election to be conducted on the regular election date.
(d) A provisional appointment made pursuant to subdivision (a)confers all powers and duties of a governing board member upon the appointee immediately following his or her appointment.
(e) A person appointed to fill a vacancy shall hold office only until the next regularly scheduled election for district governing board members, whereupon an election shall be held to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the unexpired term. A person elected at an election to fill the vacancy shall hold office for the remainder of the term in which the vacancy occurs or will occur.
(f) (1) Whenever a petition calling for a special election is circulated, the petition shall meet all of the following requirements:
(A) The petition shall contain the estimate of the elections official of the cost of conducting the special election.
(B) The name and residence address of at least one, but not more than five, of the proponents of the petition shall appear on the petition, each of which proponents shall be a registered voter of the school district or community college district, as applicable.
(C) None of the text or other language of the petition shall appear in less than six-point type.
(D) The petition shall be prepared and circulated in conformity with Sections 100 and 104 of the Elections Code.
(2) If any of the requirements of this subdivision are not met as to any petition calling for a special election, the county superintendent of schools shall not verify the signatures, nor shall any further action be taken with respect to the petition.
(3) No person shall permit the list of names on petitions prescribed by this section to be used for any purpose other than qualification of the petition for the purpose of holding an election pursuant to this section.
(4) The petition filed with the county superintendent of schools shall be subject to the restrictions in Section 6253.5 of the Government Code.
(g) Elections held pursuant to subdivisions (b) and (c) shall be conducted in as nearly the same manner as practicable as other governing board member elections.

Submitted by Budget wise (not verified) on Wed, Feb 4, 2015

Remember a special election will cost the district an estimated $150,000 out of the general fund. Money used for an election will adversely effect students in the classroom by taking away much needed resources to have an election.

Submitted by frank on Wed, Feb 4, 2015

I think a former schoolboard member said a mail in Ballot would be $75000.
I don't care either way but if people are really unhappy that is a perfectly legal course to pursue.

Submitted by David (not verified) on Wed, Feb 4, 2015

I note that the AUSD board missed a chance to appoint a woman of color to the board - there has never been one to date.

This, in a district, that claims to be working to narrow the achievement gap, and which has a history of disproportionate use of 'wilful defiance' suspensions for black and brown students.

Submitted by Frederica Kapp (not verified) on Wed, Feb 4, 2015

Aa a native Alamedan, I think Mr. Hu, new Alamedan, will have a new prespective to move the AUSD forward.

Submitted by neil (not verified) on Thu, Feb 5, 2015

David, I see your point. However, when I read Ms. Youngblood's comments above, and knowing nothing else whatsoever about any of the candidates, my reaction was that the board was right not to select her.

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Thu, Feb 5, 2015

Hey folks: Due to the rising volume of anonymous personal attacks I'm receiving on this post, I am unfortunately going to have to close comments. I want to thank the folks who were able to offer their thoughts without making things personal, and especially those of you who were willing to be accountable for what you had to say by attaching your names to your comments. I'll have a separate post on the topic of comments next week; stay tuned.