EXCLUSIVE: Former McClymonds High School Administrator Sues Oakland Unified; alleges discrimination, reprisals


OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) – A once prominent administrator at McClymond High School in West Oakland speaks out against alleged abuse and substandard living conditions in the predominantly African-American high school. In a federal whistleblower lawsuit, longtime former deputy manager Cleveland McKinney said it was his efforts to expose the problems at McClymond that demoted and ultimately fired him.

For years, former Assistant Principal Cleveland McKinney was in many ways the face of McClymond High School in West Oakland, perhaps the most passionate champion.

“McClymonds is a gem,” McKinney said. “We were on top of the world. We were getting degrees. The kids were getting scholarships, sports scholarships, we were getting state titles.”

Now McKinney is the plaintiff in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. This is a whistleblower complaint against the Oakland Unified School District, saying it suffered retaliation for trying to expose alleged abuse of black students and substandard conditions, including the contaminated water in McClymonds.

Complete complaint document:

“We had teachers, staff berating students. We had teachers or staff actually hitting students,” McKinney said, who told ABC7News that he had repeatedly surrendered to administrators. school and district to share concerns.

McKinney also alleges that $ 50,000 in donations for student activities was redirected to the salaries of administrators, that one teacher sexually harassed Muslim female students, and another teacher was rolling dice and playing with the students.

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In a separate allegation, McKinney claimed that a Spanish teacher at McClymonds admitted he didn’t even speak Spanish.

According to the lawsuit, in August 2016, McKinney reported to an OUSD administrator that the water in the McClymonds’ locker room looked dirty and orange.

Despite the concerns of McKinney – and those of other McClymond’s coaches and teachers – the lawsuit claims that “it was not until August 2017 that the OUSD revealed to the public, including parents, that there was lead in kitchen tap water “.

“The piece of water was mind-blowing,” McKinney said. “Let’s be clear, it wouldn’t have happened in a white area. It wouldn’t have happened in a Concord, it wouldn’t have happened in a Piedmont.”

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McKinney says it was his efforts to be a whistleblower that prompted OUSD to first demote and then fire him.

“Instead of dealing with the problems, they got rid of Mr. McKinney,” said Sonya Mehta, McKinney’s lawyer. “What the kids really need is Mr. McKinney back to school.”

ABC7 News reached out to district spokesperson John Sasaki for comment and replied that “OUSD does not comment on pending litigation.”

McKinney’s lawsuit seeks damages and his reinstatement as a director at McClymonds.

Unless a settlement is reached, the case should be tried next August.

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