Student brings gun to Berkeley High

A 15-year old boy was caught with a handgun at Berkeley High School this morning, according to authorities.

The student, who was not named, apparently brought a small caliber gun to school, Berkeley High Principal Pasquale Scuderi told parents in an e-mail message. “Multiple sources” told school officials about the gun, and the student was detained by 11 am, an hour after school began, Scuderi said. The Berkeley police department then took over the investigation.

“The nature of this incident is disheartening and reminds us of the increasing need to dissuade and prevent kids, and people in general, from using firearms as solutions to their problems or grievances,” wrote Scuderi.

“While this incident itself is most troubling and validates our need to sustain intense protocols, efforts, and policies around student safety, I am pleased to report that no one was hurt and that the firearm itself was safely and quietly turned over to law enforcement officials.”

School officials will seek to expel the student as required by law, said Scuderi.

Scuderi also tried to reassure parents that the incident was as isolated one.

“It is very clear to me that receiving word of incidents like this must cause you immense anxiety as parents and caregivers,” he wrote. “Hopefully the knowledge that this is an atypical and isolated incident, coupled with the fact that BHS staff works very hard every day to prevent incidents like these and manage them safely on the rare occasions that they arise, will give you some degree of relief.”

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  • Jane Tierney

    Expel the student immediately. There is no room for equivocation on this issue.

  • So after being expelled, who is going to help this poor kid learn the RIGHT way to solve problems?

  • laura menard

    Students expelled for such serious violations are attend various alternative programs
    run by the Alameda County Education Dept.

    The education programs have quality resources and highly qualified educators prepared to help both the family and students involved. The real gap is when the offender is at home or in their neighborhood, where high risks behavior might be ignored or even rewarded.

    BUSD is still out of compliance with the requirement to monitor/supervise students on probation or parole. I have been advocating for systems reforms in this area for over a decade. A group of parents of school crime victims have once again requested a meeting with the Supt, Chief of police and Probation Dept director ( who is ready and willing). As the parent of a victim I have less sympathy for the offenders, since far too often in Berkeley their needs trump victims rights. In our case, all the perpetrators stayed at BHS while my son and other victim attended independent studies because of threats of retaliation. Two kids who did nothing wrong were punished and excluded from what is considered a normal high school experience. And why? because they were the standups and reported the gang robbery to the police.

    The county program director is recognized for his success creating opportunity programs, Berkeley needs an opportunity program which brings additional resources and structure for kids in need, before it is too late. There has been community resistance to develop opportunity programs, this is very short sighted.

    Alameda county alternative programs use Character Education curriculum developed at Santa Clara University, these excellent resources available K-12 free to any community or school program.

    In a era whereit is considered normal among teens to pay extortion costs to get your stolen phone returned and these negotiations occur right in the classroom, I think youth need a course in ethics.

  • Brick

    Many high schools had a rifle team back in the day, I imagine some still do today. Mine did, but that was 25 years ago in a different state. In light of recent incidents, Berkeley High might consider it. Aside from teaching marksmanship, this is an opportunity to each kids how to safely handle firearms, and diffuse much of the mystique and intrigue. I’m sure the NRA would salivate (and pay for) the chance to set one up in Berkeley of all places, probably with the help of 4H or several other youth organizations.

    (Okay, checkpoint — I’m not an NRA nutter, 2nd amendment freak, teabagger or any such thing. Remember, our own celebrated Michael Pollan was okay wielding a rifle when the purpose fit the politics, not to mention the menu.)

    Guns and anything connected to them are antithetical to the dominant cultural attitude here, as is the case is most urban areas. However that attitude creates a knowledge vacuum for kids who are otherwise surrounded by compelling images of guns in the media — video games, hip-hop “gansta” dudes, TV and movies. So they get a head full of the stupid and wrong ideas, and there’s nothing factual to compete against it, and the results are predictable.

  • Susan Brown

    As I mentioned in my comment to the version of this article on, the kid is my godson.

    Re: expelling him and the “alternative” that the Alameda County Education Department provides – it’s called Rock La Fleche, and I’m sorry, but it’s not quality education in any sense of the word – it’s a prison prep school, plain and simple. Yes, some of the staff and teachers are dedicated and good-hearted, but some of them are very much not.

    The place is dirty, run-down, and institutional in all the wrong ways, and most of the kids have already given up when they get there. It may have changed, but from my experience there in the past (with a different kid), I believe the principal is onsite for a grand total of 30 minutes a week.

    I don’t think that there shouldn’t be consequences for his actions, he messed up, big-time…but getting shuffled off with all the other 99% kids of color to a pre-prison will not accomplish anything other than criminalizing him further. He needs real help, not more disenfranchisement.

  • laura menard

    Susan writes “but getting shuffled off with all the other 99% kids of color to a pre-prison”

    This statement is hyperbole and not helpful in discussing how to improve alternative education.

    The other victim in our situation was a kid of color and he was abandoned without family support and social services of any kind to an alternative program. Not all black males align themselves with street culture values, I have been a witness for two black males up for expulsion for carrying a knife to school. Both had consequences, but a gun is another matter.

    I was a graduated of one of the those grimy alternative programs with all the dangerous delinquents. I was not one of them, but made it through on my own.

  • laura menard


    I forgot to add, Rock La Fleche has been closed for a couple of years, the county operates three alternative programs for offenders such as your grandson.

  • DC

    I don’t care how great a guy he may be in other regards, or even if he’s a sensible gun-owner who does rifle-range practice every weekend and keeps his gun locked up at home. You bring a gun to school, and you are a hazard to others around you. It’s not acceptable, and there need to be immediate consequences. Imagine the other parents would feel if this guy gets a “well, he’s not such a bad guy…we’ll let him slide just this once” pass? Now how would that loosy-goosey criteria apply to everyone else who feels like bringing a gun to school.

    Zero tolerance. This was stupid, and stupidity has consequences.

  • Juliette

    Bringing a gun to school means more than “he messed up.” He was a danger to other students, teachers, parent volunteers, etc. Maybe he didn’t realize there was a mass murder over the weekend (or maybe he did), but the idea that he thought bringing a gun to school was a good idea is troublesome. Was he showing off? What kind of warning signs would indicate to Ms. Brown that her godson was a danger to others?

  • Susan Brown

    To Ms. Menard, re: “Susan writes “but getting shuffled off with all the other 99% kids of color to a pre-prison” This statement is hyperbole and not helpful in discussing how to improve alternative education.

    My characterization of the alternative school population as 99% kids of color wasn’t meant to be an exaggeration, it’s what I saw. It might feel like it’s not relevant to this discussion, but the point I was trying to make in saying it is that kids of color make up a disproportional percentage of those in the juvenile justice system, and later, jails and prison. I’m afraid that removing them from the mainstream school system permanently doesn’t accomplish the rehabilitation that’s intended.

    Thanks for your efforts to improve the alternative school system, and for the clarification that Rock is closed; it is, however, still on the Alameda county education website.

    As for the impression others got that I don’t recognize the seriousness of his actions, that’s my fault, I should edit my comments before midnight!

    I DO believe he should take responsibility for, and accept the consequences of his actions, but I’m hoping for a solution that gets him the help he needs. Zero tolerance is an impressive phrase, but what does it mean? I think we’d all agree that we’re looking for a solution that’s effective, one that reinforces the safety of all, and that would result in a change of belief and behavior on his part (and on the part of others like him)…

    I don’t claim to know all the answers, but I know that as a community, there is more we can do; see my comment on the SFGate article page for some ideas:

  • laura menard


    Thanks and I would be happy to help in any way possible. I agree with you on your central concern, how do we help this young man the best we can and further discourage violence and high risk taking among youth.

    I think your godson is already better off than many, because of you and other concerned adults.

    take care

  • Susan Brown

    Laura, I appreciate your offer, and kind words, thank you very much. I would say the most important thing is to recruit your male friends to sign up as mentors or Big Brothers. I know so many women who are involved in this sort of thing, but many of the boys don’t have fathers present, and really need male companionship and support…

    Best to you, and your work,


  • Alternative and Continuation Schools

    “The education programs have quality resources and highly qualified educators prepared to help both the family and students involved.”

    Unfortunately, this is far from the case. Sit in on these so called classes and see if you can honestly say that these are high quality programs.

  • EBGuy

    Brick, I like your comments regarding proper handling of firearms. One has to wonder if this incident in LA could have been prevented.
    A gun in a 10th-grader’s backpack discharged Tuesday when he dropped the bag, wounding two students at a high school, including one who remained in critical condition, police said.

  • The Federal Gun Free Schools Act of 1994 requires each state to enact provisions that a student in possession of a firearm on a school campus shall be expelled for not less than 1 year. Most states (mine included) interpret that as one calendar year. (In Hawaii, interestingly, a firearm is defined very loosely. An Airsoft plastic projectile firing look-alike is considered to be a firearm for the purposes of student discipline determinations.)