Oakland School Board Considers Censure Resolution Against Dobbins

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday August 14, 2007

The Oakland Unified School Board is preparing to discuss and take action on a proposed censure resolution against Board member Chris Dobbins at a special meeting to be held later this month, but the date of the special meeting and the form the resolution will take have not yet been released to the public. 

OUSD Board President David Kakishiba said by telephone that “all I can say is that in all likelihood, a special meeting will be held to take action on a possible censure resolution sometime before the Aug. 22 regular meeting. Beyond that, I can’t comment. There has not been a written proposed resolution submitted as of this moment.” 

Last week, officials with the Youth and Family Services Section of the Oakland Police Department said that no criminal charges would be filed surrounding Dobbins’ relationship with a 17-year-old OUSD high school student because “there was nothing criminal to prosecute.” 

Oakland police began their investigation last month at the request of OUSD state administrator Kimberly Statham after Statham’s office contacted them in response to a complaint. In an article in the Oakland Tribune last month, Dobbins said that he was acting as a mentor for the student, exchanging e-mails with her and sometimes taking her to meetings and having dinner conversations with her afterwards. 

“I didn’t realize how this would appear,” the Tribune quoted Dobbins as saying. “I should have exercised better judgment.” 

At last week’s board meeting, the first to be held after the district achieved limited local control four years after the state takeover, board members paved the way for a possible Dobbins censure by unanimously approving a policy “establishing a procedure for action against a governing board member for violation of legal, professional or ethical standards.” Dobbins voted in support of the policy. 

Kakishiba said that to his knowledge, the board did not previously have a policy allowing or governing censure or other actions against board members. 

Wednesday’s board meeting was packed with Dobbins supporters, several of whom spoke in his behalf and against board members who had earlier criticized Dobbins. 

Marta Leon praised what she called Dobbins’ many years work as a mentor of Oakland youth, saying, “we shouldn’t be picking on people who are trying to help students.” 

A woman identifying herself as Dobbins’ former girlfriend, Anita Longoria, said that she had read some of the e-mails between Dobbins and the 17-year-old student and that they did not demonstrate any misconduct on Dobbins’ part. “The allegations are not true,” Longoria said. “I wouldn’t be speaking on his behalf if I didn’t believe him. He is not the monster he is being made out to be.”  

Quoting a Tribune article in which board member Noel Gallo said “There is no excuse, no reason and no way to justify an adult having any kind of relationship with a young girl like that. Chris is a public official and a teacher. I think he has no choice but to resign.” Sylvia Johnson said that “Mr. Gallo must have missed the part in the United States Constitution that says a person is innocent until proven guilty. He has chosen to embarrass a 17-year-old girl. Even though her name was not mentioned, everybody who works around the schools can easily find out who this girl is. Mr. Gallo, your actions are un-American.” 

Dobbins’ supporters hung a large banner at the board meeting with the name of the Green Stampede organization, which is described in its website as an organization “dedicated to the support of the Oakland Athletics as well as the students of Oakland. Through mentoring, community action, and passionate fan support, the Green Stampede will be a force in the community as well as the Oakland Coliseum.” Dobbins’ picture is published several times on the website, which is still under construction.