San Francisco History

Kate Kennedy

Miss Kate Kennedy

Death of the San Francisco School-Teacher in Oakland.

Miss Kate Kennedy, long and favorably identified with the San Francisco public schools, died early last night in Oakland at the residence of J. M. Cushing, 1669 Thirteenth street.

Probably no other teacher in the schools of California served continously for so long a period as did Miss Kennedy. She was a native of Ireland and came to this city in 1856. She was virtually a California pioneer and witnessed with pride the growth of her adopted city and State and the public school system. With the latter her name will be long associated by both the young and more elderly men and women living here who received their instruction from her in the years that have gone.

Miss Kennedy was a self-educated woman, possessing a thorough mastery of all she undertook to teach. She was a practical woman, and as a teacher her efforts met with success. She entertained strict ideas as to discipline, but was kind and sympathetic to such an extent to win the esteem and confidence of associate teachers as well as scholars.

It is an interesting reminiscence to call to mind that the first school she taught in on arriving here was in a frame house that stood close to the present site of the Palace Hotel. Back from it to the south rose a high hill of sand, over and around which many of her young scholars, who are now men and women in active life, used to daily walk to the little schoolhouse.

The last position she held in the schools was as Principal of the North Cosmopolitan [Grammar] School. In the latter part of 1886 she was granted a leave of absence from the position, which led to a lawsuit of some importance that was recently decided in her favor. When she returned from her leave of absence to resume her duties at the North Cosmopolitan School she found that another teacher had been put in her place and another position of a lower grade assigned to her. In the litigation that followed to get her old position back the [California] Supreme Court laid down the important legal principle that a teacher of any particular grade and with a proper certificate could not be placed in a lower grade or dismissed except for misconduct or incompetency.

Miss Kennedy never sought reinstatement in the schools after winning the litigation in question.

The arrangement for the funeral has not yet been made.

Source: San Francisco Examiner. 19 March 1890. 4.

Kate Kennedy Dead.

The Honored Teacher's Career Is at an End.

Miss Kate Kennedy, the able and honored educator, who was identified with the public school system of California almost from its inception, died yesterday at the home of J. M. Cushing, 1669 Thirteenth street, Oakland. When the North Cosmopolitan School was instituted in 1867, Miss Kennedy, then recognized as a prominent instructor, was placed in charge, and for twenty years she conducted its affairs with distinction to herself and advantage to the city. She was acknowledged to be one of the ablest instructors who ever honored the School Department, and her name as a distinguished educator was of national repute. her displacement by the Board of Education after years of faithful work, her successful legal battle against the city, the order to pay $5000 due her as salary, and her final right to reinstatement are matters of but recent occurrence.

Besides her close identification with educational affairs since 1856, she was also prominently interested with every progressive movement that tended to ameliorate the condition of the laboring classes.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle. 19 March 1890. 8.


. . . .Miss Kate Kennedy, the deposed principal of the North Cosmopolitan Grammar School, is not satisfied with the action of the members of the Board of Education. She yesterday made a complaint to the Superior Court, in which she alleges that for more than twelve years past she has been in the employ of the board as principal of the North Cosmopolitan Grammar School, and received for her services $175 a month. On the 2d of May, as she was proceeding to perform her duties, avers that the defendants, unlawfully and without cause, prevented her from performing her duties. She has since been so restrained, and therefore prays that a writ of mandate be issued commanding and requiring defendants to admit plaintiff to the enjoyment of her position. . . .

Source: San Francisco Morning Call. 2 June 1887. 3.


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