The OUSD School Board plan to thwart democracy in District 6

On May 2, 2022, Oakland was taken by surprise when Oakland Unified School District (“OUSD”) Board Director Shanthi Gonzales suddenly resigned with 8 months left in her term, leaving a legacy of draconian school closures and disdain for parents and teachers. It was clear that certain members of the Board were not as surprised as we were, but it wasn’t immediately clear how coordinated and undemocratic the process was going to be. Now, thanks to an ethics complaint filed by a District 6 voter, the depth of the deception undertaken by this OUSD School Board is becoming clear, as laid out in an article in the Oakland Post yesterday. https://www.postnewsgroup.com/questions-about-contributions-to-kyra-mungias-district-6-school-board-campaign/

Ultimately, the Board conducted a charade of an appointment process, forcing community members who were willing to step into the void left by Director Gonzales’ resignation to go through a lengthy process that was never going to result in any other outcome than the one that ultimately did – the anointing of a successor to Director Gonzales, hand-picked BY Director Gonzales and her allies, to continue her legacy of destruction for the remainder of her term, and if they could manipulate it, the four years after. And so the board appointed Kyra Mungia who works in the Oakland Mayor’s Office of Education through a variety of fellowships paid through the Oakland Education Fund. A tangled mess of privatization entities that will create (and actually have already created) conflicts for Ms Mungia as a board member who also has interest in entities coming before the board. The Oakland Post dug into those privatization connections here: School Board Candidate is Mayor’s Staffer with Privatizer Connections | Post News Group

School Board President Gary Yee admitted in a board meeting on June 14, 2022 when he was defending Director Gonzales against claims that she had abandoned her responsibilities that Director Gonzales had already bought a house outside of Oakland and that “she actually stayed on in her house [in Oakland] for an extra month so we could prepare for this process [of appointing a new school board member].” What exactly was President Yee hinting at? A look at the timeline of the events might help.

  • Approximately April 1st, Shanthi notifies at least President Yee of her intention to resign her position and agrees to stay an additional month to help the board “prepare for the process” of appointing a successor (per President Yee’s comments on June 14).
  • April 21, 2022: Kyra Mungia files her Candidate Intention Form to run in District 6.
  • May 2, 2022: Shanthi Gonzales announces her resignation, effective immediately
  • May 3, 2022: Shanthi Gonzales contributes $1000 to Kyra Mungia’s campaign for School Board in District 6 and files an immediate form 460 reporting the contribution
  • May 11, 2022: Board votes to implement an appointment process for the vacancy
  • June 29, 2022: Board engages in performative selection process that results in the appointment of Kyra Mungia to the District 6 post
  • June 30, 2022: Kyra Mungia sends out a fundraising email using Shanthi Gonzales’ list of constituent email addresses which Ms Mungia acknowledges she was given by former Director Gonzales

So the extra time that Shanthi Gonzales gave the board was to cue up a candidate, seed her campaign, load her up with valuable constituent data and conduct a sham appointment process that resulted in the chosen candidate of Shanthi Gonzales being elevated to an incumbency to give her a leg up in the November election. That is NOT honoring the democratic process. 

All of this extra support has given Ms Mungia a definite head start in the electoral process, but we now know that it has also given her a bit of an ethical problem. A concerned District 6 resident dug into this information and has filed an ethics complaint against Ms Mungia alleging a variety of possible ethical violations, the most obvious of which is her failure to declare in her own 460 filed on August 1st, 2022 the $1000 contribution from Shanthi Gonzales’ campaign funds. In addition to the cash contribution, Ms Mungia also received an “in kind” contribution from Ms Gonzales in the form of the constituent email list that Ms Mungia received from Ms Gonzales. Mailing/email lists are extremely valuable to candidates and Ms Mungia is required to declare that “thing of value” as an “in kind” or non-monetary contribution. FEC | Candidate | Types of contributions None of Ms Mungia’s filed 460s contain any contributions from either Ms Gonzales or Ms Gonzales’ campaign committee, which is a clear violation of state election law and which the Ethics Complainant suggests may have been done in order to hide the very clear coordination between Ms Mungia, Shanthi Gonzales and some sitting OUSD board members. As stated by the complainant in the Ethics complaint “The above chronology appears to be evidence of a pre-meditated coordinated campaign between Ms. Mungia and Ms. Gonzales, and her allies on the School Board, to offer incumbency advantage to their preferred candidate for the upcoming election for the D6 position, and to hide such pre-meditated coordination from public scrutiny.” Ms Mungia now claims that she didn’t “deposit” the check because she (mistakenly) believed it was over the limit, but there is no indication that she returned it to former Director Gonzales’s campaign account (which is now closed) so whether she cashed it or not is immaterial.

The most disturbing aspect of this whole thing is that it has been a carefully planned and surreptitiously executed attempt to manipulate the democratic process. This continues a long pattern in Oakland of not trusting Oakland’s parents and voters to make good choices but instead flooding those races with misleading campaign information supporting candidates hand-picked by board members and funded by billionaires Michael Bloomberg, Stacy Schusterman, former mayor Jerry Brown and others who do not care about what is best for Oakland’s kids, but about privatizing our district. Ms Mungia has already benefited from $63,300 in spending by Jerry Brown and Oklahoma Oil Billionaire Heiress Stacy Schusterman with a misleading Political Action Committee pretending to be our Oakland Teachers.

This must stop now. Ms Mungia should step down from her seat and cease her campaign for school board, but we know that won’t happen. Instead, it is up to the voters to hold Ms Mungia and the Board accountable by voting her OUT of the office she was manipulated into.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s