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Windrush Head Leaving, Board Says

The head of embattled Windrush School will cease acting as administrator and attend to financial tasks for the next three months, after which she will leave, the board announced today. New board members also have been elected.

Another milestone in the by El Cerrito's 35-year-old Windrush School was reported today, Wednesday, when the school's board announced that the controversial head of school, Ilana Kaufman, will no longer serve as the school's administrator effective Dec. 12.

Kaufman will instead focus on "the substantial reporting compliance tasks" of the that Windrush reached with its creditors until March 15, at which time she will step down as Head of School, the board of trustees said in a statement to parents and other members of the Windrush community.

The change in leadership also includes the election of 11 new board members, the board statement said.

The board said "daily supervision of the faculty and staff will be delegated to other administrators, and leadership of the school as a whole will be reset by the new Board."

The K-8 private school filed for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 30, and after several court hearings in U.S. Bankruptcy Court and rounds of negotiation, the school and the creditors reached an agreement on Dec. 1 to allow the school to continue operating at least until the end of the current year, if the school meets .

Kaufman has been the target of vociferous criticism in reader comments on Patch, and a meeting of parents and some staff shortly after the Windrush financial crisis was announced Sept. 27 with her leadership.

The school defaulted earlier this year on debt payments owed on a $13 million bond issued in 2007 to build the new middle school/library building. The bondholders, represented by Wells Fargo Bank as their trustee, went to court to seize the school, which is collateral for the debt.

The board statement also thanked Kaufman for her contributions to the school: "Ilana has been a guiding force for all of us in these difficult times, and has provided immeasurable help in our successful navigation of the chapter 11 process and negotiations with the bondholders.  We are grateful to Ilana for all that she has given to the school, and for the financial assistance that she will provide in meeting bondholder settlement requirements.  Collectively, the Board and Ilana recognize that it is now time to pass the baton on to others, and therefore we have reached an agreement for the conclusion of her service."

"Now that a settlement has been reached with our bondholders," the board said. "Windrush School has a clear path to remaining open until June 30 and potentially beyond. ... We believe these actions will give our community the certainty, stability, and fresh burst of energy we need to meet the challenges ahead. Thank you for your passionate devotion to this school and your willingness to help us in the ultimate cause of providing our children with an excellent progressive education."

For more background on the Windrush crisis, you can see our past stories by clicking "Windrush School" next to Related Topics below this article. For alerts on future Windrush stories, click the "Keep me posted!" button below the article. We've also posted a list with links to all Patch stories on the Windrush crisis at the top of our original article, "Crisis at Windrush School: Threat of Imminent Closure."

Curious December 14, 2011 at 10:14 PM
Who is organizing this Hobbits reunion, and what is expected? I so much want to believe that this reunion will be friendly, warm and welcoming. Our Hobbit year was our best year at WR. But we've been treated with such contempt by families who stayed after we left. The woman who called to ask us to make a pledge in October even called us rats for leaving the ship early while others stayed to work (not an effective fundraising approach). Well, we did try to make things better while we were there. And we still love families and teachers from our days there. But this is the first time anyone has reached out, albeit indirectly, in a friendly manner. Can we trust it?
Still Very Concerned December 15, 2011 at 01:06 AM
Yes, you can trust it. That invite was from the Hobbit teacher. Your experience sounds awful. The plan as far as I know, is a casual gathering to say Goodbye to the teacher and share great Hobbit memories. The idea is to stop in for a little bit or longer, as it fits with your evening. Bring photos and a munchie, if you'd like---or don't bring anything--just come. We are planning to go and hope you'll feel okay about coming. I think it's like an open house type of event.
wrparent December 16, 2011 at 01:30 AM
I called the insurance company about the tuition reimbursement status. They have not paid anything to WR yet and are "still waiting on a decision from the underwriter." He says the he does expect to pay out before the end of the year though....says to call back in a couple of weeks.
Luke Sides December 17, 2011 at 12:36 AM
@wrparent, thanks for checking. to be honest, I had to read up on what underwriter do and learned a few things. am curious what decision they are waiting for. date to pay, how much to pay, I suppose. I thought it's been decided by the sound of things earlier. thanks for reporting. Let us know what else you hear from them.
Anon December 25, 2012 at 09:37 PM
I am reading Patch's message boards surrounding WR because we left a different private school for reasons I imagine are the same. I learned that I cannot be a whistle blower in the early stages of a school falling apart. Often, schools ride on a reputation of decades of success. Who are you, the whistle blower, to go against a strong track record? Hopefully, the school I pulled my children out of will not go bankrupt like WR.

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