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Charter Board Ousts Nea Founder

The Community Learning Center Schools board voted last night to terminate Nea founder Maafi Gueye. (Nea)

The Community Learning Center Schools board voted last night to terminate Nea founder Maafi Gueye. (Nea)

The board of directors for Community Learning Center Schools (CLCS), which oversees the Nea public charter K-12 school in Alameda, voted to formally terminate without cause Lead Facilitator and Co-founder Maafi Gueye last night.

In a second vote in the same closed-session meeting, the board also voted to terminate Chief Operating Officer Lina Miura.

Ahead of the vote parents, students and teachers delivered impassioned expressions of support, and pleas to reinstate both, but to no avail.

Many parents have been fuming since last Friday, when word filtered out that the two administrators had been put on administrative leave.

Debate and speculation raged on an online forum for Nea stakeholders over the true intentions of the board, and the real cause for the dismissals.

Nea officials, citing employee privacy and confidentiality requirements, are providing no explanation for the move.

While “Ma Maafi,” as she was known to some, appeared to have popular support from teachers and many parents and students, who started a petition of support, some criticized her administrative leadership style while praising her educational vision.

The dismissals come eight weeks before the end of the school year, and after several months that saw formal complaints filed with the board by employees and parents, against the administration and board members. (Action Alameda News has an outstanding public records request with the administration for copies of those complaints.)

Even parents with no strong feelings about Gueye expressed concern over the departure of two key administrators before the school-year ends.

On Wednesday, ahead of last night’s vote Executive Director Patti Wilczek, announced an interim lead facilitator, drawn from existing staff, to replace Gueye, in the event the board voted for termination.

Parents also speculated that the dismissal was an incremental step toward merging Nea with Alameda Community Learning Center, Nea’s sister school under the CLCS umbrella, or closing Nea’s so-called Upper Village, which delivers 6-12 curriculum, and has seen declining enrollment.

In an e-mail sent to parents this evening, Wilczek moved to assuage fears, writing, in part, “Based on rumors now in circulation, it appears these employment decisions have been misinterpreted by certain members of the community. Please be assured that the Board has no intention of closing Nea’s Upper Village and any statements to the contrary are false. Instead, the Board will seek every opportunity to keep the program strong, both academically and fiscally. ”

On Thursday, due to a hacking attempt or a computer glitch, the online forum went haywire, sending a blizzard of apparently nonsense e-mail messages.

Students, who normally don’t participate in the forum were sudden engaged with parents and other participants on group e-mail lists.

In a poignant moment, Cheikh Gueye, Maafi Gueye’s son, who attends Nea, wrote to the list:

“Hopefully my mom can come back.”

“Me too @CheikhGueye” responded another student.

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