Search underway for permanent Oakland schools chief

A new interim superintendent took over for the Oakland Unified School District Wednesday while the district announced it was launching a survey to find out what qualities the community wants in its next district leader.

The survey will be online from next Monday until Feb. 17. The school board will also hold group input sessions, but asked anyone attending those to still fill out the online survey.

The district is searching for a new permanent superintendent after the departure of Antwan Wilson to lead a school district in Washington, D.C.

He had served as superintendent since April 2014.

In the meantime Devin Dillon, previously a deputy superintendent, has stepped in as interim superintendent. She has worked for school districts in Los Angeles and Denver before joining the Oakland district.

Dillon distributed an introductory letter to the school community today, saying that she would spend her first 90 days listening and learning to the community, reaffirming the district’s commitment to excellence and communicating clearly to ensure a structured transition.

Dillon wrote:

“I start my first day as Interim Superintendent during a challenging time of transition for both our District and country…There is no school district I would rather represent right now than Oakland Unified.”

Prior to his departure, Wilson provided worrying news that the district would have to make more than $20 million in cuts to its budget over the next fiscal year as the state contends with its own budget and Oakland Unified enrollment has declined.

Furthermore, federal assistance to local schools could be in jeopardy under President Donald Trump and his drastic changes to immigration policy have already rattled the Oakland community and its large immigrant population.

Dillon said:

“Last month, OUSD renewed our steadfast Sanctuary District Resolution which makes us a value-based leader nationwide as we stand behind all of our students and ensure refugee and immigrant students continue to thrive in our schools regardless of immigration status…This is who we are and what we believe in.”

The district will take applications for the next superintendent from Feb. 27 to March 15 and hopes to have a new permanent superintendent contract on May 10.

The online survey and other updates on the search will be posted at www.ousd.org/superintendentsearch.