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."