In its first major action since regaining some semblance of governing authority, the school board voted Wednesday night to formally urge Dobbins to resign from the school board and to prevent him from serving on all board committees and appointments, according to the recommendations of a special committee made up of three of his colleagues.
"I think you have truly embarrassed Oakland Unified School District. I think you've abused your trust of the citizens of Oakland," said Alice Spearman, school board member.
Dobbins, 35, admitted he made errors in judgment but said he would not step down. "I'm visiting schools today. I've been visiting schools all week. I don't plan on resigning," he said.
Earlier in the meeting Dobbins stood in the audience, behind rows filled with indignant supporters, and listened as board member Greg Hodge read the detailed, eight-page fact-finding report aloud.
The allegations of inappropriate behavior were brought to the board's attention last month by two district employees and a consultant who worked with the 17-year-old girl, as well as a friend of the girl's, the committee's report revealed. The student, who has since graduated and gone to college, served as a student trustee on the board of education.
The inquiry was forwarded to the police, who investigated and found there was no basis for criminal charges. But the district proceeded with its own investigation to determine if any ethical breaches took place.
Until Wednesday, the district released few details about the allegations, and Dobbins and the student told the Tribune that nothing inappropriate occurred between them.
But the report contained detailed accounts of their interactions that conflicted with some of their previous statements. Although the girl told the Tribune last month that the relationship was "pure friendship," district employees said she referred to two "dates" with Dobbins. An e-mail Dobbins supposedly wrote to the 17-year-old in June said:
"Hello my Dearest [Student], (that sounds cheesy, but I mean it) ... I just wish our situations were different. ... I just have to say again that I have to listen to my head and not my heart... when the opportunity presented itself, I got scared because I am too old to be trying to get at you. In addition, it is unethical to do so. Plus, I have a girlfriend so I should not have been trying stuff in the first place. I have some songs I would like to play for you, but I think it would just get me in further trouble."
The report also said that about a month after Dobbins was confronted by the concerned district employees and told to cut off contact with the girl he proceeded to pick her up at her dorm room and take her out to dinner.
At Wednesday's meeting a number of people then spoke on his behalf. Some shamed the board for spending its time and resources on such a matter, rather than on the larger challenges facing the district. Others stressed Dobbins' good works in the community and expressed disappointment that such details were made public.
Citing teaching vacancies days before the upcoming start of the school year, among other problems, teacher's union president Betty Olson-Jones said, "I just wonder when those issues are going to be treated with the seriousness with which you are treating this issue."
But Hodge, chairman of the committee, said the board was just trying to do the right thing inquiry was not motivated by any political vendettas. "Our operation as a board hinges on people trusting us. I feel like we tried to be as fair as possible but I've got to say as a board we need to send a strong message about what is right and what is wrong."