Former Howard school official takes Calif. job

Grade-change dispute here touched Statham's tenure before departure


Two years after leaving a high-profile Howard County school job after allegations over a grade-changing scandal, Kimberly A. Statham has accepted the position of interim state administrator for the Oakland Unified School District in Northern California.

Statham, 47, has worked in that 41,000-student school system for the past year as a chief academic officer. Her new position takes effect Monday. She will be paid $240,000 a year.

"We're very lucky to have Dr. Statham here," said Alex Katz, press secretary for the Oakland Unified School District.

"She is one of the top people in the country for curriculum and instruction. She's also a great person to work with."

Statham's career as Howard County's chief academic officer soured after allegations that she intimidated school staff at Centennial High School to obtain preferential treatment for her daughter, who was a student at the time. Statham eventually was exonerated by the Howard County Board of Education and always maintained that she was innocent of wrongdoing.

During the turmoil, Statham was the victim of an apparent hate crime when someone used a chemical to burn a cross into the front lawn of her Ellicott City home. Statham, who is African-American, resigned from the Howard County job in 2004 and worked as a consultant for the system for the next year.

Katz said he does not expect Statham's history in Howard County to be an issue.

Statham has an uphill battle to face in Oakland, a school system that was taken over by the state of California in 2003 after overspending its budget by $60 million.

Since then, the school system has seen a steady decline in enrollment.

"We have so much work to do here, and that is what people are focused on," Katz said.

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