Jumoke Hinton Hodge
- Tony Smith
By Jennifer Inez Ward
Two months after announcing that he was resigning because of a family medical emergency, Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Tony Smith has accepted a position as executive director of the W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation.OUSD Spokesman Troy Flint confirmed an announcement made on the Stone Foundation website that Smith will lead the nonprofit organization beginning Aug. 1. His last day as OUSD superintendent is June 30.
“(Smith) made the announcement to his close staff on Friday,” Flint said. “He will now have an opportunity to work on early childhood and other development issues (at the Stone Foundation). He can draw on the knowledge he’s gained working at OUSD. It’s a natural transition.”
The 55-year-old Stone Foundation makes grants focusing on education, early childhood and youth development. In 2013, it will make approximately $4.4 million in grants to programs in the Bay Area, Chicago, Boston, New York City and Philadelphia.
Smith had not told the full board of directors that at the same time he was moving to Chicago to help his family with a medical emergency, he would also start a new job.
OUSD Board Director Christopher Dobbins, one of Smith’s strongest supporters, was shocked by the news.
“I didn’t know anything about this until you called,” he told a reporter.
Smith announced his resignation as superintendent in early April, saying he was moving his family to Chicago to deal with his father-in-law’s medical emergency. Smith declined to be interviewed.
Flint said the new job happened suddenly. “When you’re a high profile person like Tony, and people hear that you’re stepping down, opportunities will be offered,” he said.
Flint said Smith told OUSD board president David Kakishiba about the new job.
Boardmember Jumoke Hinton Hodge said she doesn’t believe Smith was trying to pull a fast one with the board. “I believe his wife and his family that their priority is his father-in-law,” she said “As far as I know he’s not an independent wealthy guy, so, it’s pretty logical to me that he saw this opportunity and accepted it.”
Flint said that Smith believes that he hasn’t violated any aspect of his contract because he announced his resignation before he accepted his new job. Smith’s contract with the district stipulates that he let the OUSD board know when he becomes a candidate for a new job. The contract does not address the issue of resignation.
“If at any time during the term of this Agreement the Superintendent knowingly becomes a candidate for the position of Superintendent (or similar position) of another school district by any means, including, without limitation by submitting an application, requesting consideration or agreeing to allow himself to be considered for such a position, the Superintendent shall notify the Board in Writing within three (3) business days of knowingly becoming such a candidate. If the Superintendent fails to follow the notice procedures set forth above, such failure will be deemed to constitute a material breach of this Agreement.”
The fact that Smith secured a new job before his last day may sour his exit from the district. It does not help the Stone Foundation website (www.wcstonefnd.org) announced it had hired him before he notified the OUSD board or Oakland parents.