OAKLAND -- It was déjà vu for parents at Montera Middle School as they sat May 29, once again, in a meeting with representatives for the school district to discuss the process of finding a new principal for the coming school year.

Principal Tina Tranzor announced her departure to the school community in mid-May and will become principal at Natomas Middle School in the Sacramento area.

Tranzor was named the interim principal in 2012 after the departure of Russom Mesfun, who had been the principal since 2007. Tranzor was confirmed as the school's permanent principal last spring at the request of parents and faculty.

Sandra Aguliera, a regional executive officer for the district, explained that the process for assigning principals has changed this year, and that the district no longer assigns interim principals.

"No principal is permanent. It is a year-to-year contract," Aguilera said.

District officials asked parents what attributes they considered important in a principal. The group's input, along with teacher input, will be taken into account during the district's selection process.

Aguilera will choose a principal from an existing pool of candidates and make a recommendation to Superintendent Gary Yee by the end of next week. Yee will have the final decision on Montera's next principal. Despite reassurances from the district, parents voiced concerns about the process and the short time frame.

"It's like we are getting married without dating," said Cathy Sharp, a parent at the school.

Another parent, Nancy Murr, was concerned about lack of an interim period for the new principal and asked if there was a process for the district to check back on the selection. District 4 school board member Anne Campbell Washington said she understood the concerns expressed by the parents.

"I like that the Montera community is so engaged," said Campbell Washington. "I will personally work to make sure that the superintendent hears from and understands what the parent community wants to see in the next leader."

"We need a real change agent," said parent Esther Gulli, who has noticed that not as many neighborhood students are choosing to attend Montera as in the recent past.

Gulli also called for a need to refocus on academics.

"They (teachers) need to focus on teaching kids where they are, not teach to the middle, and address behavior issues," Gulli said. "It's killing the new teachers. They aren't staying in the classrooms."

As attributes they sought in a new principal, the parents group identified a need for visibility, integrity, transparency, community building, good communication and specifically someone who is not afraid to openly address the racial issues at the school.

Montera is the largest and one of the most diverse middle schools in Oakland, with a student body of more than 900 from all over the city. Ann Sinclair suggested that the school might benefit with someone who has been a principal.

"Someone that knows the Montera community and has had the experience of being on the ground at Montera is very valuable," Nina Senn, a former Montera parent, pointed out.

Campbell Washington agreed.

"We need a superstar educator to lead this community-based middle school at a critical time," she said.

"We need to give this person a grace period," said Marnie Hunter, a parent. "It's up to the parent community to be quiet and supportive for a while. Hopefully, the person will be transparent enough that we won't make too much noise."