EUSD Superintendent Dr. John Rubio reflects on ECCL’s first year, addresses recent criticism

13 mins read

Probably one of the toughest jobs in Emeryville is being the Emery Unified School District Superintendent. Emeryville schools face a complicated dynamic and history, and there’s no denying that the EUSD faces significant challenges. The Superintendent position has been a revolving door in recent years. NPR recently spotlighted the surprising short shelf life of superintendents in urban cities like ours.

It doesn’t help matters when the focus of an entire opinion blog is criticism directed at you with unparalleled vindictiveness. While most people “consider the source” when reading these rants, there are a few that are naive enough to soak them up as gospel. This gentlemen and the core of the group RULE that he is a part of seem more focused on their own self-righteous principles than moving the district forward and seizing any momentum.

Dr. John Rubio was hired in 2014 amid the sudden retirement of former Superintendent Debra Lindo to help steer the district in a new direction. Last year, the city opened the Emeryville Center of Community Life (ECCL), a joint partnership with the city that houses grades K-12 as well as community services. There’s hope that with a new facility and the resources needed to sustain it, that the district is ready to take a big step forward.

As the parent of a one year old who is starting to consider his educational path, I find it my responsibility to better understand the challenges of our district, hear from parents about their concerns and hold stakeholders accountable. My hopes are this is the beginning in a series of correspondences with EUSD personnel that will help facilitate community engagement and track results.

We conducted an email interview with Dr. Rubio to hopefully sort out fact from fiction, and understand the path forward for the EUSD and the ECCL.

INTERVIEW: EUSD Superintendent Dr. John Rubio

EE: It seems like there is a lot of accusations floating out there about you and the district lately. Can you give us some background and your perspective?

Well, a good amount of it seems to have become personal.

There are a few community members who are always looking for some smoking gun – they attempt to blow up and exaggerate facts, like the current state of our new facility or issues within our school district.

But, to be honest, I also know I have done a lot of unpopular things; I stopped a lot of extra hours and money for staff through extra stipends that seemed questionable; I stopped or interrupted the hiring of friends or relatives solely based on the relationship versus skills level or talent; removed extra days of pay for some staff who worked out personal agreements years ago; and completely removed some staff who were either low quality in their work or sitting on cruise control. None of that is easy, and none of this is helping my popularity of course. Increasing our accountability and expectations has hurt some staff in the pocket if not cost their jobs.

When I arrived to Emeryville in 2014, the district was significantly overspending beyond revenues, and there were a few tenured or soon to be tenured teachers and staff who were not the kind of people most parents would want around their children.

I was able to work collaboratively with most of the school board and also with the teacher’s union on these issues – some staff were moved out of their positions, I forced a few resignations, laid off 5 classified members in May of 2015 (with the full support of councilmember Christian Patz while on the board, although he later reversed his position to save face with the public) and formally dismissed at least one staff member.

I don’t share this, or do these things, because I enjoy it and feel any pride. I do it because I think public school districts often lack integrity and accountability, so I completely understand why some teachers might feel a little anxious.

We do sometimes help some members of staff to consider other career options.

Still, I listened carefully to some of these teachers recently at a board meeting, and I understood their feelings.

I have a mandate as a superintendent not any different from when I was a school principal in San Francisco – and that’s to find the best teachers, staff and school principals for our children. That has not always been the history here in Emeryville or in many public school districts. Creating that kind of change is very difficult and makes my job a lot harder, but I think it’s what leadership really requires and that it’s the right thing to do for the kids and for our parents.

Whenever we have changes in staff, we look to hire the best people possible, and I am very happy that we have both a new elementary principal and a new middle school principal coming in this month to continue to improve our district. We also still have a rock star high school principal that I worked very hard to get here.

But I think all the talk about change, talk about bringing in new people, and what I have done, worries some teachers, or makes them feel like things are unsafe or maybe that they are not as valued as new staff coming in. I really need to stay aware of that because we do have many wonderful veteran teachers – that is the norm really – and they work so hard for our students. I need to do a better job of making sure they know how much we need them and value them. We can never pay them what they truly deserve, unless California changes the way they fund schools.

I think I have a close relationship with many of our teachers, including a very positive relationship with the teacher union leadership. That’s not always easy. We definitely don’t always see eye to eye, but we are professional and we collaborate to improve the district and teacher pay when possible. The teacher union leadership and I just finished what is probably the district’s most successful and collaborative negotiation in maybe the last ten years.

Most of the teachers and I had dinner together last fall, having some fun away from work to continue to build and strengthen our relationships while welcoming new staff and celebrating existing staff.

Superintendent Dr. Rubio with teachers at one of the district’s new fall appreciation dinners at Emeryville’s Townhouse.

Unfortunately, the staff at Anna Yates has been divided along lines of race this year while they were doing some difficult work around race and equity – that’s going to be an important focus for the new principals since the position of principal really is the person who is responsible for setting the climate of a school site.

EE: What about the local blog run by the Mayor’s brother that seems so determined to vilify you?

JR: Ahh, my friend.

It’s too bad. He sometimes actually has good questions.

I used to spend 1-2 hours at a time sitting with him, but it wasn’t too long before I learned that he used “alternative facts” and stretches the truth whenever it serves his position.

He claimed teachers recently said I was incompetent when in fact they were talking to both me and the board about “cultural competence” regarding issues of race and equity. So he took the word “competence” to mislead his readers as it served his purpose better. A couple of weeks ago he said that I said “I believed students were lying” in reference to some recent student allegations– I never spoke to him or said that to anyone.

The saddest thing is that I think some people actually believe what he writes.

I can’t do much about that. Hopefully most people know his MO by now. A few weeks ago, he yelled over the phone at a young female clerk in our office to “stop telling parents they sound rude” after she asked him why he was speaking rudely to her, and that she should tell me to “stop interfering” and to “leave his school board alone.” I’ve observed the same type of bullying behavior by him in our local government and community.

EE: You also have one former board trustee, current councilmember Christian Patz, who often seems antagonistic toward you and goes on the offensive. What do you think the issue is with him?

JR: To be honest, I think it’s a “mindset” issue.

I don’t know if any one of them know the work of Carol Dweck out of Stanford around Mindset, but it really comes down to people who only want to focus on the negative.

We have made many improvements over the years, but they scoff every time they hear of our stronger programs, our expanded science offering for children like our absolutely wonderful Scientific Adventure for Girls program and Kala Art programs that I have happily welcomed and expanded, and even the better numbers from year to year of fewer teachers turning over in the district.

Scientific Adventures for Girls, provides after school and summer STEM programs to young children with a special focus on girls and underserved youth.

That kind of news doesn’t feed their negative mindset, so they don’t want to hear about any of that – It doesn’t really serve their purpose.

Our school district has improved in many ways every year I have been here. Now, mind you, we have hardly arrived and there is a lot more we need to do to improve, but we know what we need to do and we are in a much better position than when I arrived due to the things I have done with my team and with the majority of the school board.

But you know, it also doesn’t matter if it’s me or whomever is the next superintendent one day. Emeryville will always have the same people desperately seeking negative information, and criticizing those in leadership. It’s as constant as death and taxes.

The hard part is it easily becomes very personal and very unprofessional, but people typically have a lot of excuses about how “passionate” they are for the kids or the topic being discussed.

I think constantly attacking others makes some feel important and empowered, and they are definitely seeking power and attention.

Unfortunately, their behavior ends up wasting a lot of our time and costing us legal bills, while simultaneously keeping the board and I completely distracted from the important work of student achievement. To be honest, I am really tired of all the focus on the building. I feel like it’s time to move on.

Of course, we will, and I will, also make some mistakes. We are a very small district with a bare bones staff of eight or nine where there used to be about 14 staff. You can throw lots of darts at us and very easily find things that we might not being doing or doing correctly. People often assume that’s about leadership or how we function when in reality it’s about holding up a school district with a very small staff. We have to turn in the same comprehensive and often large reports as Oakland and Berkeley, and they have full departments of staff working on the same reports. The problem of course is that there are people who love to find, point out, and capitalize on the mistakes of others.

It’s kind of sad to me. Imagine what happens when a teacher or parent constantly points out the negative, constantly looks for what’s wrong or only looks at performance instead of growth, and never really wants to help a person (or school) improve.

If a community member sincerely wanted to be helpful, they would contact me directly and say “Hey, I think you might have a problem in this area” and they would offer to help or ask for what we would do to fix the item. They would not be standing up at public meetings to grandstand or emailing large groups trying to look right while making others look wrong. That’s a very unhelpful and self-serving approach.

Ironically, the people standing up and wasting most of this time aren’t even parents of our students, and I think if they really cared about our kids, then they would allow us, if not insist, that we should be focusing on student achievement and not the ECCL building anymore.

EE: What is next for the school district and why are some people calling for an audit of the ECCL construction process or bond money?

JR: There are a number of individuals who have always been against the project and who lost that battle.

Now, they are on a political fishing expedition, and one that will cost money, looking for any bad news they can find.

The bad news for them is that we haven’t seen any evidence of wrong doing or malfeasance, so at this point it’s really all a conspiracy theory.

There really aren’t any critical or large issues regarding ECCL, though there is an effort to make some small issues sound really large.

We have a beautiful facility that needs a few small things that we are working on to improve or correct. I supervised the construction management company, Swinerton, who in turn watched Turner like a hawk, and things went well overall. Both companies responded to my requests and demand for corrections when needed. I would love for someone to show me a construction project that didn’t have any issues.

I would add that we also have had a Citizen’s Oversight Committee that thoroughly looked at every penny, every expense. I sat in on these meetings and saw a great group of citizens who made sure the district was abiding by the language in Measure J which funded ECCL. Even one usually disgruntled member of the committee always received every financial report she wanted (and help in reading them).

So will there be another audit of the project? I don’t know. It’s up to the school board to decide if they want to pursue the requests. It’s not up to me, though it seems like a waste of money and waste of my time with the real purpose to see if anyone can find any dirt

EE: Do you regret coming to Emeryville as superintendent?

JR: Hah, now that’s a good question. No, I don’t.

Being a leader is tough work if you’re going to really improve a public entity that’s been sitting comfortably for a long time.

I was able to work collaboratively with some of the city staff to change the ECCL plans to bring the old plans up to date, get the latest technology for the classrooms, raise the campaign money and help convince our voters to extend our parcel tax for twenty years, research to find our kids the safest turf field in the Bay Area, and move us into ECCL with a shoestring staff, all while I put us in possibly our strongest financial position in years – the latter allowing me to give our teachers a small but significant raise for the upcoming school year.

If you had a bar graph that compared the quality of our staff to what we had in 2013-2014, it would show a dramatic difference in the caliber of most of our staff now compared to before my arrival.

I may also be the first superintendent we think in twenty years to get a contract extension, so I’m the first willing to go into a 4th year in twenty years. Emeryville has a long history of turnover, so I believe we remain on the right track, regardless of the opinions of the small vocal minority of outgoing staff, or of the community members who don’t have any children actually attending our schools.

We have many great teachers and all of the staff we have now work very hard.

I feel proud talking about them. I feel very confident that all of our current staff work very hard and do their best.

Our teachers and our students don’t deserve the constant distractions that are thrown toward the school board and me. It just hurts the kids.

The June 15th School Board meeting that wrapped up the 2016-17 school year saw some employees and parents vent their personal frustrations.

EE: As a parent of a one year old, I chat with a lot of other parents that are unsure if they’ll send their kids to school in the EUSD when they’re of age because of its historic performance record. Give us some cause for optimism that the EUSD will continue to progress and improve.

JR: All public schools struggle with challenges around race, class and academic performance.

However, we have a diverse group of parents and students of many different economic and racial backgrounds.

While that brings some challenges, that’s also a real strength of our district – It builds everyone’s knowledge and experience.

We also have to be able to guarantee a great teacher in every classroom. That’s harder of course in California where teachers receive tenure after two quick years where school administrators are already so overwhelmed that they can barely pull off observing them.

So in my mind, having a great teacher, and great programs, is what parents need to be assured of, as well as that there will be additional support for students who need it.

Our goal is to ensure a great teacher in each classroom, and strong academic programs, so that every child can thrive and succeed.

EE:  You’ve been in ECCL now and year one is over. What’s next for the district?

JR: Our teachers, parents, community members and board and I drafted a new vision in 2015.

Part of that vision includes focusing on ongoing effort and improvement, not just performance, and that when we make mistakes, it’s a great opportunity for us to learn.

And, one of our main goals is that all kids will be given equitable access to a great education, programs and empowerment. That can only happen with the great support we continue to see from Rich Robbins and Wareham, who is really a model for what all businesses should do for their local schools, and with a great teacher in every classroom.

It’s with Rich’s help and partnership that I have been able to expand our Science programs and Art program, and attract Math and Science applicants.

We also just finished interviewing 198 people since late February for just a handful of positions, and we paper screened over 250 into the round file.

So what’s next is that we will continue in the direction of seeking and attracting the best teachers we can find, and that’s not easy, and we will continue to expand and increase our academic programs and rigor for our kids. That’s our clear direction – along with improving the level of collaboration among the students and also the adults. That would be a good direction for some of our community members.

We have a few more families from Pixar who asked about enrolling this year, and we will continue to work to keep a diverse group of families and students from all backgrounds enrolled in our schools.

Our high school keeps improving each year also, and it’s become a small and safe school for some really great high school kids. I have not done a good job of getting to know our high school kids, so I will also be working to improve that this year.

I give up most of my life for this little district, and I will keep doing my best to improve when I make mistakes and support my staff when they make mistakes.

It’s a tough curriculum, and there is plenty of learning to go around, but that’s how we really grow.

This story and others made possible through the contributions of our supporters.

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Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.


  1. Rob- I appreciate that you have given Mr. Rubio opportunity to state his views regarding his tenure at EUSD. Your reference to the Tattler and its editor make sense in this context. However, I do not know to whom you refer as “the core of the group RULE.” I served on RULE’s Steering Committee for a number of years, until about six months ago. I have continued to attend RULE meetings as a member. As far as I know, RULE has never taken a position regarding Mr. Rubio. Aside from being a member on the Steering Committee or being a member there is no third status in RULE. All members matter. Please clarify both of these issues. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for this interview with Superintendent Rubio. He has a tough job. Wish parents in our community would start using our school. It’s the only way it will get stronger. Years back I sent my children to public schools where caucasian children were in a minority. They weren’t the top schools in our district – far from it. All of my kids graduated from good colleges and function well as adults.

  3. This is not an issue of a split along racial lines. There were white and Asian teachers who described horrible working conditions under the supervision of racist. All races should object to Dr. Rubio’s mistreatment of teachers, students and parents. All of our community should be alarmed he violated mandatory reporting laws. Dr. Rubio is incompetent and he will break this district by the number of law suits he will generate against it. He consistently violates Federal and State Educational codes.
    Yes, he has a tough job and he has proved he can’t do it.

  4. Tenure after two years is ridiculous. Tenure for teachers in K-12 is ridiculous generally. If you are doing the job, you keep your job. If you are not, you go.

    There is no public benefit to giving teachers a protected status. There is a huge cost, and it is paid by public school students and parents unable to rid themselves of bad teachers.

    Great teachers do not need tenure to protect them.

    • Tenure for public school teachers is not like that of a University Professor. Tenure for a teacher simply ensures that they will get due process. Tenured teachers are dismissed from schools where their performance or lack of have been documented.

      That said, Administrators do seek to surround themselves with “friendly” teachers who will do their bidding regardless of their classroom performance. So this issue is not a one-way street by any means. Do not kid yourself, today more than ever we see Superintendents who are more concerned with building their resume up with items that sound impressive but in fact may have done little to help children. Unfortunately, the public simply takes their word for it.

      • Sounds like there is nothing simple about it. You really think they “simply get due process” ??

        And have you seen the pitiful small numbers or percentage that you say have been “documented.”

        Ever seen the details when the Oakland Unified district tries to move a tenured teacher into or through discipline – average cost in California I believe is around $80-90k and that’s after a long and hard road and a lot of write ups.

        I’m betting it’s rare – Rob, this would be a good stand alone story – “Teacher tenure: keep it or leave it.”

        I suspect most principals want good teachers – and also ones who aren’t so negative and gossipy as many sound.

        Probably not an easy find.

  5. Well, I’ve been told zero successful lawsuits, he’s been saving the district money, and I was told there was no violation – the law as I understand it is if there is no reasonable suspicion, then the school principals (teachers etc..) are not (in that instance) mandated to report.

    (Though I have also heard the flip side that other parents complain they’ve been reported when on a field trip recently).

    It’s also the principal’s job or the person who the incident was reported to. I am doubting he was the person the student’s went to when they have teachers and school administrators/high school counselors. Anyone really know who received the report/s?

    Office staff said he was never even involved in these though it keeps getting discussed. Sure about your “facts?”

    • I am sure about my facts regarding law suits for his non compliance with federal and state educational codes while he was a principal in San Francisco as I am the person who represented the students. Rubio was found to be out of compliance, He was also out of compliance with various educational codes at EUSD,
      To be honest I don’t know the details of the alleged sexual assault. I do know mandated reporting laws. He is a mandated reporter.
      I have also witnessed Dr. Rubio lose his temper and threaten parents and teachers with firing or expulsion. I witnessed him take out a restraining order on a parent who who attempted to ask for an explanation.
      I am simply warning this district that this man does not have the suitable temperament nor the competence to be superintendent, thus he is a liability.

    • Most cases at Emery were settled out of court. There was no case lost or won….but you should be asking “were payments made to settle outside of the courtroom” That has been the practice at EUSD.

  6. In our interactions with EUSD and Mr. Rubio we have found him to be very professional, efficient, and extremely practical. We are new to Emeryville and have been impressed by EUSD, the school board, and Mr. Rubio’s ability to build bridges to the larger community, including other schools like us, that will be mutually beneficial. East Bay German International School.

  7. Someone once said: “It takes a village to raise a child.” In the last twenty years, I have observed the Emeryville community raise itself from a “divided, industrial blue collar town with industrial wastes” into a state-of-the-art 21st century transportation community with a quality-of-life for all citizens which is envied by many neighboring cities. The long journey to achieve this began with its citizens saying “we can do better” and “let us start now!” In Life’s Journey, it takes a first step and then another and another. Sometimes “it takes our children to raise a village.”

    • Lillian, it’s nice that we have one journalist in town who gives people the chance to speak for themselves and share a more balanced community voice.

      Without Rob, we’d just be at the mercy of that crazy guy mentioned in the article. I’ve read his blog occasionally and it’s just his endless stream of hate and anger. You can’t find a single article that actually shows a community interest.

      Rob is the community in Emeryville, and I thank him for that.

  8. Thanks for posting this interview. I am a concerned member of the Emeryville community and recently watched two of the recent school board meetings and read this interview with them in mind. I want to share my response. At a first read, this is an impressively composed self-representation by Mr. Rubio. On a second read, having some background now on portions of the content, it’s even more impressive for the subtlety of the misrepresentation of fact. Two examples:

    1. After relaying his rationale for eliminating staff, Mr. Rubio refers to the group of teachers who spoke at the June 15 school board meeting. ‘Still, I listened carefully to some of these teachers recently at a board meeting, and I understood their feelings’. This implies the teachers who came to speak at the board meeting were the teachers he had fired, and who had therefore come to object. Rather, of the seven teachers who spoke at that meeting, none had been fired, and four of them – Megan McLaughlin, Anthony Rodgers, Holly Coombs, and Leslie Epstein – are all veteran teachers (10+ years). They came to explain to the board why they were leaving the district – in a nutshell, they say they are disheartened and fed up with the direction the school has taken under Mr. Rubio’s tenure as superintendent. Ms. McLAUGHLIN: ‘I’ve seen many examples of his leadership. He seems to lack the ability to reflect upon what he’s done, to ‘stay in his lane’ as the superintendent and let the principal do her job. There is a surface politeness covering a man I’ve come to distrust – not responding to issues, but instead, attacking teachers. This is difficult for me to say, Dr. Rubio, but I’m trying to speak my truth’. Mr. RODGERS: ‘I had to reapply for my position on EdJoin, had to submit my resume for the same position that I was teaching. So I really want to ask you, please look at the practices of how teachers are moved around here, because if it isn’t equal, then that’s discriminatory’. Ms. COOMBS: ‘The last few years have been so difficult…that I feel like I must leave. I feel that it has become so difficult to be here and watch the institutional racism that I see around me, and that we’re not really deeply doing the equity work that we need to be doing. It’s sort of on the surface. There’s a lot of dysfunctions at the school that I can’t really go into here because this is a public, formal setting’. Ms. EPSTEIN: ‘Hi, my name is Leslie Epstein. I’ve been here 14 years, and I used to be so proud to work here…and I don’t feel that way anymore. And seeing so many people leave makes me – I thought about it – and the only reason I stay is because I have the most amazing group of students and families. I stay with many of my students for years as special ed. teacher, and I always thought when, particularly years when [former EUSD board president] Simon’s daughter was here, Maya, all those years I thought when I have a kid my son or my daughter is going to go to this school, and I can say now I would never send my son here. And to me that speaks volumes’.

    2. In response to a question about a critic, Mr. Rubio says Mr. Donahue ‘claimed teachers recently said I was incompetent when in fact they were talking to both me and the board about ‘cultural competence’ regarding issues of race and equity’. Mr. Rubio is referring to the comments of Ms. Coombs, and true enough, many of her comments were addressed to both Mr. Rubio and the board, but one comment, a plea, was addressed solely to the Board: ‘Please, in the future, please look carefully for a superintendent who’s an experienced educator and also has all of their cultural competency in place, either because they are a proud person of color, they grew up in the community, or they just know our kids, and it will just help resolve, it’ll help prevent a lot of the pain that a lot of people have felt, particularly the people of color. I have not felt any pain, but the people of color, my colleagues, have felt a lot’.

    • Many years ago I represented students at San Francisco Unified School District. who had been illegally expelled by Dr. Rubio’s . All of the students were African American. It was not the illegal expulsion that was the most noteworthy., it was his hostility directed at the students and their families that shocked me.
      My granddaughter was a student at Anna Yates as was her brother. Their mother arrived at school for a meeting regarding her first grade son’s educational plan.. She saw a letter addressed to her and asked the secretary if she could see what it was about. The letter was post dated for the next day. It explained as a result of the meeting (which had not yet occurred) her son was being expelled. He had determined to expel the student without due process. This is a violation of state and federal education codes. The exact same behavior he was found guilty of in San Francisco. When mother asked for an explanation he became verbally aggressive with her and ordered her to leave the building. Ms. Lang, the principal attempted to calm him down and he yelled and pointed at her and yelled at her “your job is in jeopardy”. He ordered the principal to call the police on the mom, when she objected that it was not necessary to call the police. He called the police to escort mom off the premises. he subsequently took out a restraining order on . her. He then went to my granddaughter’s fifth grade class and told her to pack her bags because she would not be returning to the school. This is an honor student who would have been graduating. I testified to all this at a board meeting. Dr. Rubio began a retaliation campaign against mom by sending threatening emails (all of which I still have). I warned the board he would destroy this small district the way he had ruined so many young students. Dr. Rubio was an incompetent principal in San Francisco and he is certainly an incompetent superintendent. What is most disturbing is the board had sufficient warning about him, beginning with his hiring of a known abusive principal which resulted in a $100,000 loss for EUSD.
      I was a victim of his abuse of power, my granddaughter, her brother, her mother as well as many other students and their guardians. Then his most egregious offense of berating, undermining, threatening, the teachers and staff often in front of students and parents.
      Dr Rubio is incompetent, he is a racist, his temperament is not appropriate for a school setting and the board was informed of this long before his contract came up for renewal.
      This is nor gossip, nor the perception of a few disgruntled teachers and parents. This is an established, documented fact.

  9. ‘The board was informed of this long before his contract came up for renewal’. Then why was his contract renewed?

  10. At which board meeting did you testify? What date? I’d like to view it.

    • I believe it was the March 8 meeting. I think even more interesting is the fact I emailed each of the board members individually regarding Rubio’s behavior. I included the threatening emails he sent this mother. I ultimately had to tell him to cease and desist because I believe his threats constituted harassment.

  11. Thank you. And you referred to Mesfun. Yes. I don’t understand what happened there. Why – if he had a trainload of lawsuits on the record connected to his history of sexual harrassment – WHY did he still get hired? What happened there? What good is the record if it doesn’t arm you against such a mistake? Well, the action – the authority and judgment and action – of an individual – the superintendent at the time hired him. So then, how did the Board let him make such an ill-advised decision? Did they know about the record of sexual harrassment, but just trusted the judgment of the superintendent? Just asking questions outloud – trying to understand. It occurs to me, now that I think about it, that the history of the Board baffles me. Aside from the tangled ball of issues presently facing the district, I’m wondering about why and how certain decisions get made. Maybe if I understood clearly what happened in a decision that baffles and haunts me – the hiring of Mesfun. What happened there? That’s a failure. We just missed having this guy step in the door as principal of the elementary school. Having him in our school would have been a disaster. Let alone Rubio’s judgment deciding to hire him. The more significant failure there seems to be the Board not having had a close enough eye on the superintendent. Does that seem right? And if that’s the important weakness or failure of how the Board functions, how to remedy it? But is that right – what needs to be looked into is how the Board oversees the superintendent?

    • I can’t begin to figure any of this out. Why the board allowed him to hire Mesfun while being fully informed on his history. Did the board ever check Rubio’s history at other districts. I know for a fact he was a very unpopular principal in San Francisco and I myself filed the non-compliance suites against him. I don’t understand why the board would allow these teachers to go. They have been the backbone of this district through all of the problems brought on by problematic superintendents. Why give up long term excellent teachers who know the student community and keep the one person who has consistently demonstrated incompetence. You just don’t let your best teachers go and assume future teachers will tolerate the undermining and disrespect demonstrated by this superintendent. I don’t get it.
      We trust our children will be safely educated and cared for by our schools. Emery was such a delightful small district with teachers who seemed to love their student community.

      • Yup. Hard to figure it out.

        From the EUSD-Emery Board-May 25, 2017.

        Member Inch: ‘So there has been another resignation. I’ve updated my list. Starting in January 2016, up until now, this present board meeting, 34 credentialed teachers and administrators have left. That’s a year and a half. We have 50 current employees. That means that 34 out of 50 in the last year and a half, have left. I think that’s a problem, and I just want to mention it because we have another resignation that was added under this board meeting’.

        Mr. Donahue: Mr. Rubio, the superintendent, you’ve noticed, is nothing but bright, sunny future – everything’s wonderful here at Emery under his tutelage. He’s doing a fantastic job, he says. But what he’s not telling you, and us, what he should be telling you, and us, ethically, is how we’re really doing, vis-a-vis teacher retention. Emery unified is the WORST school district in the entire Bay Area, vis-a-vis teacher retention. The next worst is Oakland. Oakland, over the last calendar year lost 7% of its teachers. Emery lost 37% of its teachers. The next one below Oakland is Berkeley – they lost 3% of their teachers, and then every other district is less than 3%. So it’s 3% all around the whole Bay Area, 7% at Oakland, and 37% at Emery. And ‘Everything is wonderful’ says our superintendent.

        Why doesn’t the board ask him ‘So over a third of our teachers have left since January 2016 – what is going on here?’ He only says it’s a mindset issue and a human tendency to focus on the negative, and then the board members don’t say anything.

  12. Lets try to get the so called “facts” straight. I work there – I saw how angry he was that a parent, the one you describe, cursed directly at the Director of Special Education, calling her a b*!@$,, and then “physically pushed” past him into the principal’s office – scaring more than one of us. So, you are correct, he was angry.

    So you can paint whatever picture you like – but I’m glad we have a superintendent who takes action and who won’t put up with parents acting like that – He has a great relationship with most of the parent community, and, he won’t put up with parents cursing out loud, or ones, like your apparent relative, who had been lying about their address/residence and who abandoned their child at the school forcing all of us to keep trying to call her. Interesting to a few of us staff that you left those facts out of your “facts.”

    btw – he is also the one who made the decision to pull our Mesfun after a large committee of teachers hired Mesfun. We all knew his staff made a mistake by not doing more internet reserach on the guy – and yet, we saw a Superintendent take action to remove him, and go as far as to fill in as principal.

    Better check your facts

    • I was there and I have it recorded. I suspect this is Dr. Rubio writing. As I suspect he has written all the other positive things about himself. You are distorting the facts. Dr. Rubio incited and escalated the situation. He expelled the child before the meeting. He became furious that the secretary gave mom the letter that he postdated to appear the expulsion was a result of the meeting. As she is about to go into the meeting she reads the expulsion letter that was supposedly a result of the meeting that had not yet occurred and you refused to talk to her about it.
      Non the less the student was entitled to due process. You keep talking about the students being out of district, The child you expelled lived with his father in district, his sibling was entitled to be there. You can’t get students in the district to go to school there. Many of your students are from Oakland. You wouldn’t have a school otherwise.

      Those are your words “abandoned” She was at work in Sonoma county when she was called to pick up her child. when she didn’t get there fast enough you called the police. I’m not going to go into detail about all the state and federal education and Americans with disabilities laws you violated. As I said I have all your threatening and harassing correspondence. As does the board since I forwarded everything to them

      You hired Mesfun. You lost the district money as a result. Don’t distort the facts.

    • ‘A large committee of teachers hired Mesfun’? How do you know that? I thought Rubio hired Mesfun.

    • ‘Not doing more internet research’? You only had to look at the first several cars of lawsuit in the train. I guess it would be easy enough to find out if ‘a committee of teachers’ hired Mesfun. And if it is you writing this post, you certainly should not be in charge of a school district.

  13. I saw the incident and the yelling and screaming and witnessed the parent walk through the office into an unauthorized area and physically force her way into a closed meeting. That, with the yelling and screaming, causes an unsafe situation for everybody, especially our young students sitting in the office. Also, when a parent leaves a child at a school and they clearly know the child isn’t supposed to be at school for discipline reasons, then that does seem like abandonment to me.

    Concerned parent who loves Emery!

  14. There was NO large committee of teachers who hired Mesfun. In fact, it was a prominent teacher who did a simple internet search and found all the lawsuits. This teacher presented the findings to Rubio and suggested that he look into it and reconsider his decision to hire Mesfun. Then, after having a meeting with Mesfun, Rubio decided to hire him anyway. Knowing that his decision was going to be very controversial, Rubio then wrote a letter to the entire staff over the summer that explained the situation and that he “would stake his career” on his decision to hire Mesfun. Rubio had to fire Mesfun after not one, not two but THREE female teachers reported very similar stories about Mesfun’s extremely inappropriate behavior before the school year even started. He’s no martyr. This was our first impression of Rubio. These are the facts.

    • Oh yes on top of being incompetent he’s a liar. To the concerned parent. This was a 6yr old first grader who had been suspended in excess of California law. He saw a therapist at school and we had been waiting months for an IEP, exceeding the 30 day maximum. Again a federal and state violation. That meeting mother attempted to go into was the meeting to set up the IEP. Months waiting for the IEP and then told the child was expelled without it. Again, against the law. So he attempted to claim family lived out of district. The child’s father lives in Emeryville, Mother and father split up, child still stays with father 50% of the time. When Rubio found mother had changed her address with the school he used that excuse to expel the kids.
      Children in the United States are entitled to an education. He violated that child’s right. He was no longer on suspension and his suspension time exceeded Federal education law.
      So to concerned parent. You should be concerned the superintendent regularly violates educational laws, lies, and is incompetent. That’s what you need to worry about

      • Hi Tia. Again, sorry for your experience. And letting me know. And for the tip that one of the other anonymouses may be Rubio – hadn’t thought of it. That makes me uncomfortable and I’m going to sign out. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Tia, what is the name of the school in San Francisco, and what time period are you talking about? I and several other residents who have issues with Mr. Rubio would like to talk to you if possible. Is there a way we can reach you?

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