Kyra Mungia will be the interim District 6 Director for the Oakland Unified School District board. Credit: Courtesy Kyra Mungia

Nearly two months after the sudden resignation of school board director Shanthi Gonzales, the Oakland Unified School District board selected Kyra Mungia, a staffer for Mayor Libby Schaaf and a former Oakland teacher, to replace her.

Mungia will be sworn in by the Oakland city clerk and will take her seat representing District 6 before the start of the 2022-2023 school year. The school board will convene for a retreat on Aug. 5 and hold its first regular meeting on Aug. 10.

Since 2020, Mungia has served as the mayor’s deputy director of education, although her salary is paid by the Oakland Public Education Fund. Mungia also spent three years as a teacher at Horace Mann Elementary School in East Oakland. 

Mungia is joining the school board at a contentious moment, as families are reeling from the board’s decision earlier this year to permanently close schools, including two in District 6 this year and one District 6 school next year. Schools, students, and teachers are recovering from the pandemic’s impact on education and the effects of distance learning, and OUSD is facing a pivotal moment regarding decreasing enrollment and the district budget. 

During an interview with the board last week, Mungia shared her views on the biggest successes and hurdles in OUSD and suggested her priorities.

“While there are bright spots that can be lifted up with some schools, on a whole we are failing our Black, Latine, and AAPI students and that is unforgivable,” she said when asked about the biggest issues facing District 6. “There are tremendous amounts of distrust at all levels. Trust has just been completely shattered and needs to be intentionally worked on and rebuilt.”

Mungia praised OUSD’s Measure N, a parcel tax that supports college and career readiness in Oakland high schools, the district’s office of equity, which works to reduce disparities and celebrate students’ backgrounds, and a newer initiative to increase investments in recruiting and retaining educators of color. 

Regarding the budget, Mungia noted that OUSD is facing a structural deficit and stated that one way to approach that is to move away from using one-time funds for ongoing costs. She also wants to work with state representatives to advocate for legislation that would increase funding and adjust the existing funding formula. 

As the deputy director of education for Mayor Schaaf, Mungia was involved with the Oakland Undivided campaign, which distributed thousands of laptops to Oakland students during the pandemic. She also serves on the board of the Oakland Literacy Coalition.

Mungia was one of nine people who applied for the District 6 seat and is also running for the seat in the fall. Because of that, some school board members were hesitant to support her appointment in the interim period, not wanting to offer an incumbency advantage. Mungia defended her choice to run now and in the fall as a way to ensure continuity in the seat. 

“Just as teacher attrition impacts students and student outcomes, so too does board turnover and lack of institutional knowledge impact the ability of the board to function well,” she said. “Stability and continuity on the board are an important factor in that. This represents my commitment to students in Oakland and is an indication of my dedication.”

Mungia will hold the seat until Jan. 2, when the new elected official will be sworn in, along with representatives for districts 2 and 4. 

Ashley McBride writes about education equity for The Oaklandside. Her work covers Oakland’s public district and charter schools. Before joining The Oaklandside in 2020, Ashley was a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News and the San Francisco Chronicle as a Hearst Journalism Fellow, and has held positions at the Poynter Institute and the Palm Beach Post. Ashley earned her master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University.