Oakland Not for Sale — a coalition of community members and educators against public school closures — is moving ahead with a campaign to recall Jody London, who serves as president of the Oakland Board of Education this year and represents District 1 on the board.
“The people of Oakland seek to recall Director London for failing to properly perform her oversight duties of OUSD District. 1 and intentionally neglecting district schools, causing under-enrollment, an artificially inflated need for security presence and massive drain of students and funding into charter schools,” according to the legal Notice of Intention to Circulate Recall Petition that Oakland Not for Sale is running as a paid announcement in this week’s Oakland Post.
The announcement alleges that among Director London’s “dereliction of duties,” she has “advocated for school closures as the first remedy to OUSD’s fiscal mismanagement,” failed to “produce evidence that closing schools would save money or produce better outcomes for impacted students, “approved or renewed charters to school that drain students and funding from traditional public schools and “condoned police brutality against peaceful students, teachers, and community members.”
According to the recall organizers, “Oakland families and educators have had enough of public school closures and the proliferation of charters over the past fifteen years. Of all California districts, Oakland has the highest percentage of students attending charter schools, which drained $57 million from the city’s public schools in a single year, according to a study released in 2018.”
Proponents of the recall include Alicia Johnson, Caroline Stern, Susana Benz, Rachel Prince, Rachel Judson, Gerry Mack, Deanna Lee, Derek White, An Thu Tran-lu and Elizabeth DeLuca.
Once the petition has been filed with the City of Oakland Election Office, officials will establish the number of signatures from District 1 that are needed to authorize the recall to go forward, which Oakland Not for Sale organizers estimate will range from 5,000 to 7,000. The signatures must be collected within 120 days from the date the city approves the petition. In addition, a recall election cannot be called within six months of the seat being up in a general election, which takes place this year is in November.
Contacted by email by the Oakland Post, Director London said, “I announced over a year ago that I am not seeking re-election as my younger daughter graduated in May 2019 and I believe a parent of students in OUSD schools should hold the seat.”
In a written statement prepared in response to the recall, she said that during her time as a school board member, “ I have made hard decisions to preserve the financial viability of the school district in a state that funds public schools below the national average per pupil, and at a time when expenses are rising. The costs of a recall election must be borne by OUSD; a recall election is unnecessary given this seat is up for re-election in 2020.”
Director London has represented North Oakland on the Board of Education since 2009. She was re-elected to a second term in 2012. Her third term ends Jan. 4, 2021.
While serving on the board, she led the effort to replace aging portables. She co-chaired the 2006 Measure B campaign, a $435 million bond. She also has helped pass the Measure G (2009) and Measure N (2014) parcel taxes, and Measure J, the 2012 renewal of the general obligation bond for capital projects.
London’s professional experience is in state policy, working with local government and non-profit organizations on strategic planning, communication, and advocacy on environmental sustainability and energy issues. Much of her current work involves state energy regulatory agencies.