Kyla Johnson-Trammell Named New Superintendent of ...

Kyla Johnson-Trammell Named New Superintendent of Schools

The Oakland Board of Education announced Wednesday evening that it had picked local veteran school administrator Kyla Johnson-Trammell to become the Oakland Unified School District’s new superintendent.

Johnson-Trammell, 41, a third-generation Oakland resident,  grew up in East Oakland, attending Montclair Elementary and Montera Middle schools.

She has worked for 18 years in district schools as an elementary teacher, principal and administrator. Her mother was a principal in the district.

Johnson-Trammell was hired as OUSD interim deputy superintendent in February after previous Superintendent Antwan Wilson resigned in mid-year to take a job as chancellor of Washington, D.C. schools.

“I am honored by this opportunity to guide such an important organization in my hometown,” she said. “To lead the teachers and staff of OUSD has been a dream of mine since I first stepped into a classroom as a professional.”

She will not officially become the next superintendent until she negotiates and signs a contract, and the job would begin July 1.

Announcing the hiring decision at the board meeting, Board of Education President James Harris said that Johnson-Trammell “embodies what it means to be of this town. She knows what it means to be from the town.”

Interim Supt. Devin Booker said, “Kyla is going to do a wonderful job working for you as superintendent.”

Trish Gorham, president of the Oakland Education Association (OEA), the teachers’ union said, “I want to thank the board for making a decision that” that was in line with what the people wanted in a new superintendent.

“I know here personally, and I believe she will bring Oakland back to Oakland and will bring an Oakland team back to Oakland,” said Gorham.

“She is the candidate who can start the healing in the district. ¨

The Justice for Oakland Students Coalition issued a statement Thursday saying, “Together, we got the board to stop the revolving door of superintendents and hire a leader with local roots and a life-long commitment to Oakland kids.”


  1. Thank you so much for announcing the hiring decision at the board meeting. I was surprisingly glad to have seen this post.

  2. Mike Hutchinson

    12 May

    We have a new superintendent. It’s Kyla Johnson-Trammell. I am going to try and keep an open mind, like I’ve done with previous superintendents including Antwan Wilson, but it’s hard to be positive.

    I’m glad that the school board hired an Oakland native and I respect the fact that she worked her way up through the district starting first as a teacher. She was not trained by Eli Broad and the fact that she doesn’t have a bad reputation gives me some hope. But there were many problems with the hiring process and too many important questions have yet to be answered.

    I don’t trust Oakland’s school board. This is the same school board that hired Antwan Wilson, the same school board whose campaign’s were heavily funded by billionaire charter school advocates, and the same school board that has mismanaged our district leading to a budget crisis and possible state takeover (again). I find it hard to believe that this school board would hire a superintendent that will work to change the policies that got us to our current state. The school board sets the policy that the superintendent is directed to implement.

    The hiring process was not open nor transparent and did not include any community engagement or input. It was done in secret, entirely in closed session. Even now the new superintendent has not been introduced to the community, let alone been made available to answer questions and address our concerns. The only people who have been allowed to participate in the hiring process were a few people hand picked by the school board. We have not even been told who was selected for this “community panel” but we were told that they were made to sign confidentiality agreements.

    Even if Kyla Johnson-Trammell winds up being an amazing superintendent, I can’t imagine that one person can change the district, especially while they have to follow the directives of our current extremely inept school board. Add in the fact that the school board created a process that prevented the community from buying in to the new superintendent, and it’s going to be hard for her to be successful.

    Because the community has been excluded from the hiring process many important questions remain unanswered. Where does she stand on charter schools?
    Will she prioritize public schools or does she believe that charter schools are public schools?
    Where does she stand on foundations like the Oakland Public Education Fund and GO’s influence in the district and privatizing efforts like Oakland Promise?
    What are her thoughts on the (engineered) budget crisis and the specter of state takeover?
    What are her ideas about bringing more resources and equity to our historically neglected neighborhoods?
    Is she willing to stand up to the school board and mayor in order to advocate for our public schools?
    How are we finally going achieve the long promised goal of full service community schools?
    Most importantly, how is she going to improve educational outcomes for our students?

    There is so much work that needs to be done and we have often learned, most recently with superintendent Gary Yee or mayor Libby, that having strong Oakland roots does not necessarily mean that you will be good for Oakland. This secretive hiring process did not honor the community’s demands and therefore the hiring of Kyla Johnson-Trammell does not represent any kind of win for the community. Some of our problems are newly created while others span generations. We have to remember that a new superintendent is not nearly the change that a new school board would bring. I’m an optimist and I’m always willing to give people a chance, but history and experience have taught me to be cynical. It could have been a worse choice but it’s hard to be hopeful. Maybe my concerns will be proven unwarranted. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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