OAKLAND — The Oakland school district is investigating claims by a local real estate developer that its school board president, David Kakishiba, used his position in the school system to further the agenda of the nonprofit organization he directs.

The complaints accuse Kakishiba of forcing staff at three Fruitvale-area elementary schools to distribute fliers about a high-density condominium project proposed for the neighborhood.

Kakishiba's organization, the East Bay Asian Youth Center, has opposed the current proposal for the 810-unit project. Opponents of the project, including Oakland Community Organizations, have cited concerns about traffic, air quality and the lack of affordable housing.

EBAYC was one of the groups listed on the flyer in question, which encouraged residents to speak out against the project at a Sept. 5 Oakland Planning Commission meeting. But Kakishiba says he never spoke to the school staff about the subject and that his organization did not circulate the materials.

"I'm completely confident that the investigation will show that I had nothing to do with the distribution of the fliers," Kakishiba said. "It's a political smear tactic."

Liz Sullivan, an organizer with Oakland Community Organizations, said parent leaders at ASCEND, Think College Nowand International Community School passed out the information after receiving permission to do so from the principals.


The fliers were not sent to the central office for approval, school district spokesman Troy Flint said.

Randall Whitney, the developer behind the East 12th Street project, first brought the allegations to the district's attention about two months ago, Flint said.

More recently, a written complaint from another executive of the firm was filed. Messages left Wednesday afternoon for Whitney and Jill Worsely, chairperson of Pacific Thomas Capital, were not immediately returned.

A copy of the complaint will be released once the investigation is completed, said Flint.

Alice Spearman, the vice president of the school board, said the district has hired an outside attorney to investigate the matter. A report is expected to be completed next week.

"There definitely wasn't any law broken," Spearman said. "This is a procedural complaint."

Spearman said the board decided to investigate the case to put an end to speculation about the incident. Kakishiba is the second board member to face an inquiry this year. In August, the board censured Chris Dobbins for his relationship with a 17-year-old former student.

"We need to put this to bed," Spearman said. "I don't think this board or this district needs these kinds of rumors."

Contact Katy Murphy at kmurphy@oaklandtribune.com. Read her Oakland schools blog at http://www.ibabuzz.com/education.