Education

Oakland Unified meeting resumes after arrests

Friday, March 30, 2012
10 arrested after tense Oakland Unified meeting Oakland Unified School Board meeting

An Oakland school board resumed discussing whether to close five schools after anger and arrests at a meeting Wednesday night.

Some of the people arrested Wednesday night returned Thursday for part two of Wednesday night's Oakland school board meeting. The early afternoon Oakland school board meeting kept most teachers and parents away, making it non-eventful. It was a far cry from the previous meeting which was interrupted and eventually suspended. Ten people were arrested.

On Thursday, the board members were able to vote on a proposal to lease Santa Fe Elementary to the Emery School District. Santa Fe is one of five schools which will close at the end of the school year. But first, there was public input. "You speak so proudly about closing the structural deficit on the backs of these poor elementary school kids whose schools you want to close," Tim Terry said.

Community member Monica Smith was one of the people arrested Wednesday night. "I will make it the very last thing I think about before I go to bed and the very first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, to make your life a living hell because that is exactly what you're doing to the people of Oakland," she told the board.

Cora Harrison is a kindergartner at one of the schools slated to close. "We don't want our schools closing. That's very, very bad," she told the board. Her grandfather also made an appeal telling them, "You can sit on the board and talk all you want," to which a board member replied, "We are going to move ahead to the discussion," cutting him off.

The board will lease the school for $1.5 million over a three-year period. The money will go to the district's general fund. "It further destabilizes the teacher-student relationship because now, students and families are forced to make a decision about where they're going to send their children to school," said Oakland teacher Rodney Brown.

The board managed to vote Wednesday night on another very controversial proposal that could allow Lazear Elementary, another closing school, to instead convert to a charter school. The board voted to consider it at the next meeting. "The principal concern of the Lazear community is that the school be kept open in whatever form and that they not have to travel to another site. I think they're probably open to a variety of solutions that will allow that to happen," district spokesperson Troy Flint told ABC7.

The district promised parents of students at the five schools that are closing their kids can go anywhere within the district. ABC7 found that at four of the five schools, between 90 and 93 percent of the parents got their first choice. Lazear Elementary did not do as well and that is why those parents are pushing for the charter.

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Tags:
oakland, protest, education, lyanne melendez
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