OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — The Oakland United School District announced the resignation of District 6 Board Director Shanthi Gonzales Monday.
Her resignation was effective immediately. OUSD did not list a reason for her departure. She will be moving out of the Bay Area, saying the level of discourse over issues such as school closures has taken a toll on her.
“People must e able to engage on the issues without fears of attacks and fear of not being safe,” Gonzales said. “A go-to tactic in Oakland, if someone disagrees with you is to say they are a racist or white supremist to try and delegitimize their perspective and not have to engage on the issue.”
Gonzales says that’s how she’s felt on the issue. In a public posting, she laid blame at her fellow board members and the teachers union.
“What the movement has been trying to express is these school closures are racist,” Oakland special education teacher Divya Farias said. “They are disproportionality impacting black and brown students and the district said as much.”
Teachers who called for a one day strike to protest school closures say Gonzales attempt to pit teachers against parent is insulting.
“What is revealed by her letter is she is beholden to other interests and not the parents students and teachers of Oakland,” Farias said.
Parents in Gonzales district say she has been unwilling to listen or come up with fresh ideas. Parents say they will not lose any sleep over her departure.
“She’s continuously very disengage from the community and not receptive to hearing from students and community members,” Azlinah Tambu a parent in Gonzales’ district said. “Honestly she has been quite rude in the board meetings even saying ‘I don’t want to be here right now’.”
“I will miss Shanthi’s dedication, courage, and effectiveness as a colleague and leader on the school board,” OUSD President Gary Yee said. “That service was always focused on building a better, more sustainable, more inclusive system of quality schools dedicated to the success of every student, no matter the personal and political costs.”
OUSD is now tasked with whether and how to fill Gonzales’ seat for the rest of her term, which expires in January 2023, it said in an email to the community. The board will discuss this in its next meeting on May 11.
Options include the Board appointing a replacement within 60 days or calling for a special election. A special election would mean costs incurred by the district.
KRON ON is streaming live now
On Friday, April 29, Oakland teachers went on strike to protest the closure and merging of 11 schools. One teacher told KRON4 that he feels for the students whose schools will be closed, as the change will force some of them to walk through crime-ridden streets to get to a school farther from home.