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TRUSD update! Show up for Dr. Raja!

Updated: Jul 7, 2022

BIG SHOUT-OUT to Sascha Vogt - a long-time parent of students within the TRUSD, a community member, activist, and advocate for parental involvement in the TRUSD educational system. Sascha loves to see parents get involved with the District, and is happy to have conversations with community members & orgs about the push for educational equity. Thank you to Sascha for taking the time to meet with us and fill us in on this important story!


UPDATE: At the July 5th TRUSD Board meeting, organizers served “Intent to Recall” papers (although due to a paperwork technicality the papers will have to be served again) to Oakdale Trustee Michael Baker (read more here). We'll do our best to keep y'all updated on next steps!


Proponents of the petition feel that Baker, along with Superintendent of School Leadership Dr. Lori Grace, are the main drivers of misinformation and rumors regarding both the removal of Dr. Raja, and the community response. Prior to these papers being filed, many stakeholders felt Baker was disconnected from the needs of parents and students, aside from those within his own circle of supporters

Both Baker and Grace initiated and participated in discourse on social media that drove the “criminals on campus “ narrative, and are also viewed as responsible for the police presence on campus in response to student walkouts.


These folx need to be held accountable. Let's keep pushing for change.

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Read some background about Dr. Raja's story from this article published in the Sac Observer

Read our previous post on this issue at this link

Read the 6/20 press release for mobilization before the 6/23 TRUSD Board meeting below

Press Release- COMMUNITY MOBILIZES AFTER SCHOOL PRINCIPAL DR RAJA REMOVED WIHTOUT EXPLANAT
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Download • 292KB

Short video on what's been going on with Dr. Raja and Oakdale below!


Let's talk a little bit about background:


Dr. Raja was removed from the Oakdale Elementary School campus in Dec 2021 & was initially given the supposed position of “principal on special assignment." This was a title without a corresponding position. Eventually he began to be sent out to work as a substitute at other campuses. When questioned about his absence, Oakdale said initially that his removal was due to a personnel issue. Later, they said that they had to remove him from campus for the “safety of the campus.”


Eventually the community found out that Dr. Raja was substituting in other 2nd grade classrooms, and folx started writing in and attending TRUSD Board meetings, as well as staging student walkouts in the name of getting him reinstated at Oakdale. After school admin found out about one walkout planned in support of Dr. Raja they officially pulled him from the classroom.


Dr. Raja was then terminated.


The community has been pushing harder and harder to reinstate Dr. Raja, but so far that has not happened, even with strong supportive coalitions composed of diverse populations.


There will be an administrative hearing for Dr. Raja's case held by the CA State Office Administrative Hearings (website linked here) in October.


Students have been saying they are afraid of going to school since he was removed. Parents have also expressed feeling scared to have their children attend school at the Oakdale campus for fear of interaction with law enforcement (as one example). Parents have said that when Dr. Raja was on campus (working his program) if their children got in trouble they could work with him to figure out the issue at hand. That meant that when they did get calls, responding to the incident was collaborative, not punitive.

Dr. Raja pictured below

Staff had been arguing previously that the students at Oakdale were "making progress" - but in reality the white students were the only ones given the opportunities that would lead to said "progress." That was changing with Dr. Raja's presence at the school. Through his program he stressed the importance of matching students with mentors that looked like them and spoke their home language. That's just one example of how he was supporting and engaging with students that were so often neglected by the staff at Oakdale. He was providing a safe space for the kids that most needed it.




Parents at Board meetings have said that they have been threatened with school staff calling CPS if an issue arose with their kid/s and they couldn’t get to campus in a certain amount of time. It should be known that the school IS notorious for calling CPS.

In a sad attempt to justify removing Dr. Raja from his post, the school claimed that he had people with felonies working within his mentorship program. This was false. But, even had it been true, barring anyone with a felony from being involved with school programming will inevitably keep the most marginalized parents/populations out of educational policy decision-making.


The TRUSD Board has also been increasing barriers to parents attending (and therefore speaking out at) Board meetings. An example of this behavior would be their recent decision to tell parents that they couldn’t bring their children to meetings. Obviously, for those with no alternative options for child-care, this decision effectively locks them out of showing up in person to support their community and/or make in-person comment.



In another under-handed move, the school Board also went back to requiring social distancing at in-person meetings...but ONLY for parents. The staff can all sit however they want, without repercussions. Clearly this move is meant to keep community members opposed to their terrible policies from filling the chamber. They want to silence the voice of stake-holders...unless those stake-holders are in support of their nonsense.


As if that wasn't enough, one community member close to the Board members posted on socials about how there shouldn’t be "criminals" on campus. The school sent police to the student walkouts, and even went so far as to put up gates between parents and the students who walked out.

Overall, the culture of the Board is very entrenched. Many of the Board members have been in office for a very long time, and newer Board members have not made much progress. They demonstrate little to no respect for the community. The population that wants to see Dr. Raja gone is small, but very vocal, part of the community. Plus, they're the ones with the power. There is also a real fear of retaliation within the community if you were to ally yourself with Dr. Raja.


When students from Oakdale spoke at The Justice and Accountability March (organized by Stevante Clark in the name of bringing awareness to racial justice issues), Board members and the community members allied with them made statements about how no Oakdale students were actually present for this event. This is just one example of the ongoing attempts to discredit members of the TRUSD that support efforts to fight back against racial injustice and discrimination.



Another example would be the fact that Sascha has been told that continuing to support Dr. Raja would be "political suicide."


Historically the District has not been responsive to the demands of their community, and typically, if there has been a positive policy change, it’s due to pressure from outside the District paired with media attention. Basically the members of the Board have cloistered themselves for so long that they have not only become of touch with the needs of the community, but even worse, they have become COMFORTABLE with being out of touch.


What's the REAL reason things haven't gotten better?


It's likely that one reason for his position removal happened mid-year was so he wouldn’t have a full year worth of data from his mentoring program to verify its success. Essentially they want to silence his voice.


So, the question remains...why?


It's simple: RACISM. CLASSISM. FEAR OF CHANGE.


Press release with more info below!


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