OAKLAND -- Parents gave interim Montera Middle School Principal Tina Tranzor a vote of confidence in a meeting to decide the fate of the school's leadership for the coming year.
Montera Regional Executive Officer Sondra Aguilera met with some 50 parents Feb. 20 to get their feedback about Tranzor and to discuss whether they wanted keep her and bypass the principal selection process.
"The window is open for you to make a recommendation of whether you want to go through this process," Aguilera said.
Aguilera stressed that "you are not voting; you are giving your recommendation."
The process would also take into account the recommendation of Montera's teachers. The parents' recommendation now goes to the Oakland school board and Superintendent Tony Smith for a final decision.
Tranzor served for a year as Montera's assistant principal before becoming the principal for the current school year. The majority of the parents felt Tranzor had made gains in the job.
"I'm impressed with her willingness to take feedback, internalize it and execute," said Debe Rapson, the co-president of the school's parent-teacher organization and a parent of a sixth-grader. "It gives me confidence moving forward."
Josi Levy, a parent of a sixth-grader, had concerns about the restructuring of the math program.
"She got back to me right away and addressed my concerns," Levy said.
Denise Lombard, parent of a seventh-grader and one of the organization's board members, liked Tranzor's focus on community building.
"She went through every yearbook to figure out what it took to make this school a community," Lombard said.
Sam Foresman, the organization's executive vice president, reported that feedback from the teaching staff is also positive.
"One teacher had tears of joy," Foresman said. "It was the first time she felt respected and supported by a principal."
Parents shared that they have been through the principal selection process at other schools and said the outcome has not always been favorable.
"I went through this at the elementary school level, and it was catastrophic," said Andrew Shear, a parent of a sixth- and an eighth-grader and a board member of the parent-teacher organization. "You don't know what the pool looks like. This kind of thing could be damaging for Montera. Thinking that you can shop around and then choose Tranzor is a dangerous assumption."
"We need to understand that we would have to draw someone from one of the top educational institutions in the country to satisfy our community," said John Wade, a parent of a seventh-grader and the organization's co-president. "With the condition of Oakland Unified School District financially, our chances of developing a star internally is much better."
"Embarking on the principal selection process would be a perceived vote of no confidence," Foresman said. "She (Tranzor) would look for another job. It's the only smart thing to do.
"We will lose traction on the programs we have already implemented," he continued. "She is really thinking outside the box for creative solutions."
"The loss of a year personally concerns me, unless people are convinced that she really isn't the right person for the school," Rapson said. "She has basically been interviewing with us for four-and-a-half months. That's about as good as it gets."
The meeting was the last of four meetings with parents to obtain feedback. Each meeting has had fewer than 50 attendees. More than 900 students attend the school.