Board of Education names Antwan Wilson superintendent

on May 2, 2014

Antwan Wilson was unanimously approved as the Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District by Oakland Board of Education, succeeding acting superintendent Gary Yee.

Wilson previously served as Denver’s Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education where he achieved success increasing both graduation rates and the number of students entering college.

“Start[ing] as a teacher, he worked his way through the system and understands how to be an educator at every level,” director Jody London said.

The new superintendent’s appointment, following a year-long search, will become effective July 1 and run through June 30, 2018. Wilson wasn’t present for the vote Wednesday evening.

“I’m honored that the School Board Directors, as representatives of the Oakland public, have chosen to entrust me with this position and the tremendous responsibility it carries,” Wilson said in a statement released by the district.

“I’ve dedicated my life to supporting the growth and development of children, so the opportunity to expand this work in a dynamic environment like Oakland is tremendously exciting,” Wilson added.  “The energy in the city is palpable and I can’t wait to come together with the community and harness that enthusiasm to serve children, improve academic achievement, and produce better life outcomes for Oakland students.”

President of the Board of Education David Kakishiba asserted that Wilson has all the qualities that make him the ideal candidate for the position: “deep appreciation and practice of working with local school leaders, teachers and local communities; practical experience in moving high schools forward in an urban setting; and a management style that can help the day-to-day operations with the federal government.”

However, some Oaklanders have expressed disappointment with the selection process of the new superintendent, who was picked by the Oakland Board of Education behind closed doors, without the citizens having a voice in it.

To reassure discontented attendees, board members explained that a hired search firm did very thorough background checks on all candidates, and that a student panel that interviewed the finalists had a decisive role in picking the right person for the job.

Wilson has years of experience working in a school district with a large minority community, which is an asset in the Oakland Unified School District, whose K-12 student population is 40 percent Latino and more than 30 percent African-American.

Besides citing his achievements in Denver Public Schools, director Roseann Torres justified the Board’s decision by referring to Wilson’s character: “Raised by a single mother, he turned his life around that could’ve been very dismal (…) and for that I’m excited for our students to have a role model.”

Photo by Basil D Soufi
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