New school for expelled kids prompts concerns

Residents who live around the Berkeley Adult School on San Pablo Avenue are concerned about a plan to bring students to the campus who have been kicked out from traditional high schools because of criminal activity.

The Alameda County Office of Education, which has responsibility for teenagers expelled from their local school districts, wants to open a community school in one of the campus’ classrooms.

Many of the students would be from Berkeley. They are considered “at risk” kids because they have committed crimes or are on probation, according to Councilwoman Linda Maio. Chronic truants are also placed in county-run community schools.

Unfortunately, the Berkeley Unified School District and Alameda County Office of Education started formulating this plan in December without gathering input from nearby residents, said Maio. There has not been a lot of information available, prompting negative rumors to circulate about the types of kids who might be coming.  Some neighbors are worried.

“The details about who they are, the kinds of things that caused them to be expelled, that has to be discussed,” said Maio. “These are our kids. These are Berkeley kids. These are kids who don’t deserve to be flushed down the toilet.”

There will be a meeting Wednesday at 7 pm at the Adult School to discuss the plan.

“We want to get accurate information out to the community about what the program is and we want to hear feedback from community members about their concerns,” said Susan Craig, the BUSD director of student services.

The school board will have the final say on whether to place the program at the Adult School, she said.

In 2009, Alameda County officials sold the property housing the Rock LaFleche campus, the main school for at risk teenagers, and have been searching for smaller alternative sites since then, according to Bob Crose, the assistant superintendent for school programs and services. Students who have been expelled from BUSD and other districts are now taught in scattered classrooms around the county, including one in Hayward.

But the goal is to teach students, if possible, in their home communities, he said. The community school plans to use one classroom at the Adult School, he said. Most of the students would be from Berkeley, but others may come from Albany, Emeryville, Piedmont, and north Oakland. There would be about 15 full-time students and 25 to 30 independent study students who would meet with a teacher for about an hour each week. There will be two teachers, an aide, and a roving supervisor.

The office plans to hire the Adult School’s safety officer for an additional three hours each day to supervise the students, said Crose. Burr Guthrie, the principal of the Adult School, said he plans to ask the county to pay for a safety officer for five hours each day.

Alameda County hoped to open the school this year but it probably won’t happen until next fall, said Mark Coplan, a spokesman for the BUSD. That will give the community time to find out more about the program.

Maio expressed disappointment with the way BUSD has handled the process. The district should have been proactive and informed residents about the school instead of waiting for them to hear about it through the rumor mill, she said. This approach, which she said was the same way the district handled the move of the Adult School to the San Pablo site five years ago, makes it harder to reach consensus.

“People get concerned,” said Maio. “Rumors fly. They become very agitated and angry. It’s hard then to listen factually and consider.”

Maio had not even been informed, although the Adult School is in her district. She learned about the community school when she ran into Joaquin Rivera, a member of the Alameda County Board of Education, on the street.

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  • Berkeley Born

    Unfortunately, for kids >12-14 years old, there is not much you can do for them if they are already involved in a life of crime. The money would be better spent on high quality preschool and K-6 education for children of all Berkeley residents.

  • Sharkey

    Why would the Alameda County Office of Education want to situate a special school for criminal and truant teenagers smack dab in the middle of a residential/business area like this?

    In every other community I’ve lived in the school for criminal teenagers was out on the outskirts of town, or at the very least further away from residential neighborhoods than this.

    It’s also frustrating that this is being brought up for public discussion after it sounds like it’s already a done deal! The City of Berkeley **constantly** does these kind of backroom deals and only brings them out to the public for discussion after the real decision has already been made.

    The fact that even the Councilmember in charge of this district didn’t find out about it until this point is shocking. The public employees who are making these decisions are supposed to be servants of the taxpayers — where’s the transparency??

  • Eric

    What’s the pedagogical basis for putting “at risk” kids into “independent study” programs with only one hour/week check in? Doesn’t their “at risk” status *precisely* indicate that they need more engagement, not less? Where do they go the rest of the time?

  • A Berkeley Parent

    Ditto what Sharkey said. District 1 (Linda Maio’s district) boasts — at least for now — one of the lowest crime rates of any district Berkeley. That the City of Berkeley/BUSD would try to locate this kind of program in what is essentially a residential neighborhood with a smattering of small businesses/cafes/restaurants — while giving no official information about it ahead of time to local residents and business owners — is outrageous.

    And the fact that this program — whatever the details — requires a mere hour a week (!) of its students makes it clear it’s no academic or remedial education program, but effectively a check-in station with truancy or parole officers.

  • Sharkey

    I agree completely with A Berkeley Parent’s statement.

    If all this is is a simple check-in with truancy/parole officers with a different name, why not just have them do it in a room at the BPD station near Berkeley High school?
    It would be closer to BART, closer to other services designed for teens, and most of all it would be in an area with high security!

    Even though most of them probably won’t take it these kids deserve a chance to turn their lives around, but there is NO reason for their program to be at the Berkeley Adult School.
    It’s not convenient for public transportation, it isn’t set up to handle these kids of troubled teens, and it doesn’t make sense for the neighborhood.

  • Bruce Love

    Wow. Can any of you who have condemned it tell me who is generally accepted into the contracted independent study program, what the program’s function is, what outcomes are generally like, and what risks are typically posed to neighborhoods where these meetings are placed?

    And, might Berkeley Born care to back up the claim that the money is “better spent” ignoring these kids?

  • Patricia

    If these children are truly Berkeley residents, I don’t mind using Berkeley taxpayer dollars to educate them. However, if they don’t live in Berkeley, it is only fair to let their parents’ pay for them. Think of my words next time you ride through Rockridge.

  • RB

    What’s disturbing to me is that this is a replay of the same kind of arrogance that led to the relocation of the Adult School from it’s previous location despite the fact that we in the Browning Street Area wanted it to stay while the folks near the relocation didn’t. This was part of a grandiose scheme never realized because the funding couldn’t be found. All of our protests were useless. Meetings were a sham.The building sat empty with its grounds poorly maintained for years. It is now being renovated so the School District headquarters may use it. Again, ignoring the concerns of the neighbors. The School District is used to Berkeley’s citizen’s approving any thing in the name of education.

  • Tor

    Man. What Bruce said, plus a little simple compassion. I thought Berkeley was supposed to be different. So much for the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

  • Eric

    @Bruce, no, we can’t, which is the point of the article. In the absence of information, rumors will circulate. If you have some actual data to contribute, please do. But I think the questions and concerns are understandable and answering them should be the priority, not casting aspersions on the questioners.

    @Frances, is it possible to be more specific than you are in the article? You say that “most” students would be from Berkeley and that “some” neighbors are worried. Most as in 51% or 99%? Some as in one person or some larger group? Measured how?

  • Samarai

    As a direct neighbor of the BSD, and heavily involved in the move of the BAS to its present location, I’m seriously concerned with this new development. Although I’d like to say “no way no how’ do I want a bunch of young hoodlums in my neighbor hood, I’m willing to say “Perhaps”, if I knew more about the program. Perhaps my biggest concern is not what the kids are doing and who’s supervising them while they are on the campus, I want to know about when they are coming and going. How will they arrive at the campus? How will they be leaving? Who will be watching them during their transit?
    I agree with Sharkey, unfortunately, all this sounds like it is a done deal, as was the initial move of the BAS. Furthermore, the BUSD lied to us throughout the process. I wouldn’t trust any of the board members, nor the council members to really do the right thing, or back the concerns/desires of the local neighbors as they don’t live here, and they are just in it for the power/image/prestige….
    That said, even after the move of the BAS, through legal pressure we were able to make beneficial gains to the final decision, that is if anyone is up for the fight!?!

  • http://francesdinkelspiel.com/ Frances Dinkelspiel

    @Eric, The number of Berkeley kids who will be at the school is a moving target since most kids usually just spend a few months in the county-run community schools. Susan Craig from BUSD said there are fewer than five students who have been expelled this year for criminal offenses. Berkeleyside has reported on a few of them, notably the one student who shot Malik Grayson and the ones who brought guns to school. Other candidates for the community schools are kids who are chronic truants or who have been expelled from other districts. In the latter case, they may go to a Berkeley school in order to keep them away from a destructive peer group that authorities think is a bad influence. It works both ways: sometimes Berkeley kids are sent out of town to keep them out of trouble.
    It is important to note that these kids are not ones incarcerated in juvenile hall. If they were arrested and served time for a crime, they have been released. Some may be on probation and probation officers will be visiting the campus regularly to check up on them. The already happens at Berkeley High. There are kids there on probation whose probation officers check up on them regularly, said Craig.

    I am not entirely clear on the independent study situation. These may be kids who live in a group home and study on their own and have weekly tutoring. There are lots of kids at Berkeley High in the independent study program.

    The overall assumption of educators is that these at risk kids can be helped with small classroom and one- on- one instruction. There will be three adults in the classroom for those 15 kids, a security officer nearby, and a roving supervisor.

  • Sharkey

    @ Tor —- Where is the lack of compassion in people simply saying “Hey, maybe putting a bunch of teens who have been found guilty of criminal mischief in the middle of a residential neighborhood isn’t a good idea?”

    The biggest concern to *ME* is that this issue has already been decided by the Berkeley Unified School District without bothering to alert the community or ask for input or suggestions from the people who live in that neighborhood.

    This is yet another example of the BUSD (and the City government in general) simply doing whatever the hell they want without any regard for the citizens who are footing the bill for all this. The lack of transparency and willful biting of the hand that feeds is a bit much to take.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but the more they ignore the citizens like this, the less likely I’m going to be to vote for new parcel taxes and bond measures when they come crawling for more money.

  • lifelongberkeleyan

    re: “So much for the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” excerpted from Emma Lazarus’ poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty, which also reads:

    “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    Over time the powers that be have amended our local version to read: “Give us…The wretched refuse…Send these, the homeless…enter through our golden door!” Which explains how affluent, guilt ridden, round heeled Berkeley became a dumping ground for the homeless, and now the East Bay’s teen incorrigible’s.

    Unfortunately our “golden door” is on craigslist to pay for unsecured pension obligations. Our largess grows smaller. Surrounding counties and school districts, repatriate your own!

  • watching one

    Let’s not jump to conclusions about independent study programs based on less in-class time. This model works remarkably well for some students who flounder or don’t connect in the typical classroom environment, and are at risk of failing or dropping out. I can attest to this personally, having a family member who turned F’s into A’s, a disdain for learning to a passion for learning — simply by switching to BHS’s independent study option. It serves as a very successful net for some kids, and, by the way, is designed with a high requirement for accountability, participation, and attendance.

  • RB

    My concern is not with having these young people on the campus and in classes. Obviously, they will be well supervised. The issue that arises is what happens in the after school hours when they are left to their own devices. It’s not being cold hearted to recognize the fact that crime rates among junior high and high school students peak in those hours immediately after school gets out and before their parents or other caretakers expect them home. Plunking kids who have already demonstrated that they will commit crimes down in neighborhoods to which they feel no connection and leaving them unsupervised after school hours is what concerns me. It’s not unheard of for students to break and enter houses on their way home from school and while the occupants are at work. So my question is what provisions will be made to supervise these students after they leave the classrooms.

  • Sharkey

    @ RB — Everything I’ve read about this so far suggests that the BUSD is using the Adult School campus specifically so they won’t have to use the same stringent safety requirements they would have to use if the students were located on a campus with other teens.

    Based on that (and the sneaky way BUSD has made these plans behind closed doors) my guess would be that there will be roughly *zero* provisions made to supervise these students after they leave the classrooms.

  • Samarai

    @RB Glad to hear that someone else is wondering this issue?
    @Sharkey, Again, I feel you’ve hit the nail on the head, so to speak
    Also, what about the ‘friends’ that may accompany the “GPS’d” kids? Not to sound too paranoid. I guess we will all have to see what smoke is spewed tonight!

  • Sarah

    I live in the neighborhood and will attend the meeting tonight to get more information. I am worried because we already have plenty of youth crimes on our street that are definitely happening afterschool.
    A few examples… There are the three boys who walk through our neighborhood many afternoons picking up landscape pebbles/rocks and throwing them at passing cars (I have asked them to stop when I see them, but they aren’t all that interested in what I say — having a baby in my arms at the time may have kept them from swearing at me.) We’ve had kids rummage through everything in our backyard and move a trellis to use it try to break into our back windows (that didn’t work and I surprised them by coming home so I got to see them run down my driveway).
    In the 90′s I lived near Fred Finch Youth Center in Oakland, which on paper sounds like a lovely place, but in reality was a huge burden on the neighborhood from out of control kids and lack of security and was a drain on police and emergency responders to the point that the police called the community meetings to address the issues. Not sure that things are any better now.
    I will see what I find out tonight on the plans for BAS…

  • Tor

    “Which explains how affluent, guilt ridden, round heeled Berkeley became a dumping ground for the homeless, and now the East Bay’s teen incorrigible’s.”

    I’m really sorry to be blunt like this, but this is ridiculous. Median household income in Berkeley has doubled in the last 20 years. Berkeley is far more affluent, and consequently far less welcoming of the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses, than it once was. Remember what Telegraph Ave looked like in the 80s? One could easily argue that, back then, Berkeley was a dumping ground for the homeless and incorrigible, but as the comments in this thread pretty plainly indicate, it’s nothing like that anymore.

    As Frances kindly pointed out, kids can become involved in the criminal justice system in a lot of different ways, many of which are entirely innocuous. But we don’t abandon these children and refuse to educate them because of it. And I think it’s pretty important to remember that these are children.

    So Sharkey, yes, I think that refusing to accommodate children who have made mistakes lacks compassion. Compassion involves forgiveness and guidance. I think it’s a shame that the law-and-order rhetoric that has destroyed communities across our state has taken hold in my town because frankly, the reason that my family lives here is programs like this. I’m proud to live in a community that recognizes the singular importance of education and insists on offering the best of our city even to the less fortunate.

    So huzzah to BUSD! Keep up the good work.

  • laura menard

    Francis,

    Expelled kids are generally considered to be high- risk not at-risk teens. The distinction is meaningful to the development of appropriate programming. Check the county website

    The only reason BHS has moved chronically truant kids to the alternative schools in the past several years is to reduce overcrowding. And BHS frequently did so in violation of students rights.

    As to many of the other ASSUMPTIONS in these posts and statements from BUSD about supervision of offenders and coordination with county probation as I have stated before the required protocols and systems are hardly implemented under the new director extremely inconsistent. We have heard these promises before, in fact under the last three student services director. I want Susan Craig to succeed, which is why I want BUSD to own all its problems, failures, and requirements for organization change.

    I continue to assist parents of school crime victims and I have seen situations this year and last where the offender re-offended on campus while enrolled or suspended and had an outstanding bench warrant for failure to attend a sentencing hearing on a prior robbery conviction. District or site staff did not have this information until the parents informed them after contacting the probation dept.

    There are other practices used by school districts to manage problematic students placement including behavioral trades between districts and home hospital programs.
    Similar to independent studies home hospital programs provide no supervision outside of the weekly instruction meeting which is often just an hour or two. In a later post when I have more time I will l describe such a case detailing the outrageous failures of Berkeley agencies and the parent who had responsibility for 15 year old girl engaged in prostitution while enrolled in home hospital studies.

    Look we desperately need quality alternative programs for high risk teens including community day which comes with additional funds per pupil, however in my judgment BUSD has yet to prove itself serious and with the necessary programming competency in this and other areas:

    1. truancy SART/SARB
    2. monitoring of students on probation
    3. identification of dangerous pupils to teachers
    4. reducing recidivism among juvenile offenders

    For instance there was a large group of B-Tech student truant in Oregon St park smoking pot and tobacco yesterday after lunch break just a few yards from BUSD Oregon St property.

    Next summer there will be county report that will shed some light on how well BUSD coordinates with the probation dept, when that is available I will post a link.

    Again, I am a strong supporter of effective alternative programming, and for over a decade been pushing BUSD to develop a community day program and it might surprise some of you I graduated from a continuation high school.

  • laura menard

    As Sarah points out high risk teen programs in a community setting can be source of chronic problems. Check BPS calls for service to the various group homes in south and west Berkeley for evidence of such a claim.

    We need to do better!!!

  • Group Home Nightmare

    Try living near a group home; being robbed of quiet enjoyment of your home. Police and/or ambulance almost every night and day, often in the middle of the night. Group home kids robbing pedestrians, loud yelling of Foul language adult supervisors and youth. Litter, condoms. Youth coming into neighbor’s backyards to have sex and smoke dope. Groups of youth hanging around just out of sight of the house, grafitti, angry tirades. Up to seven or eight police cars at a time to address serious problems, one time with multiple rifles pointed at the home while the supervisors inside ignored multiple requests from the police to come outside. Blinds, curtains or fences aren’t enough to maintain a semblance of comfort, quiet or safety and shut out the chaos.

  • Sharkey

    Tor says: “I think that refusing to accommodate children who have made mistakes lacks compassion.”

    And who the hell is refusing to accommodate them?
    I’m complaining about the lack of transparency in this process and questioning whether this is the BEST place to put these kids, not saying that they should be booted out of the district.

    Get down off your high horse and try reading what people are actually saying.

  • lifelongberkeleyan

    re: “…law and order rhetoric…has taken hold in my town…”

    Berkeleyside.com may sometimes look like a Martha Stewart publication, but it’s presence has offered something infinitely more valuable and radical: A place for the opposition to be heard.

    What the poster calls “…law and order rhetoric..” is in fact opposition. Opposition to the entrenched posers, self imagined world saviors and other “Berkeley Moment” seeking whack jobs who’ve dominated our public discourse for decades.

    And it’s hardly just “taken hold”. Berkeley has always been full of smart people who find our city’s governance laughable, if they aren’t crying. If anything is taking hold, it is a desire for a two party system. Green Tea anyone?

  • Sharkey

    Hear, hear!

    All I want is sensible governance, transparency in City affairs, better City Planning, and just a little bit of fiscal responsibility from all aspects of government.

    Is that really too much to ask?

  • Samarai

    Tor; I have to agree with Sharkey again. I don’t think that anyone on this thread would say “Screw the little B…” However, as has been pointed out, the lack of honesty and transparancy in the process up to know is frustrating. I was talking with my wife, who was trying to jog me feeble memory that the current principle had mentioned this issue and his concerns to us at a neighborhood meeting probably 4-6 months ago. If he knew of it then, why is it just coming to light now? Here on the block the emails have been flying for the last month or so, mainly with speculations and questions.
    Lastly, when I hear people such as your self speak in this manner, I have to wonder how impacted you might be by this decision? Do you live next to the school? The same block? Do you have a family that might be directly affected by this decision? Your property value?
    I have all of these. So when the BUSD or the county want to ‘deposit’ another potential bomb in my backyard, I think I should have not only an opportunity, but also the right to have some say in the decision.
    See you at the meeting

  • Heather

    As the meeting with will be starting in just unde ran hour, I’d like to point out that a neighbor of mine — a teacher at the BAS — has been heard to say that BUSD is ALREADY busing these kids into the Adult School. So this is already a “done deal” insofar as it is already happening; whether BUSD has signed a contract with Cty of Alameda, I have no idea.

  • Chris

    any update from the meeting???

  • LS

    I just came from the meeting. Had to leave early so I missed out on a lot. These school administrators left me with a bad taste in my mouth. As a working mother on a tight schedule I was hoping they would get to the facts fast. Instead the meeting began with a heavy dose of patronizing “we know what we are doing here” type of talk from the administrators with very little actual information. I was particularly annoyed when one neighbor asked them point blank if the students attending are choosing to attend or are being forced to. There was a lot of tap dancing until they finally acknowledged that these students well, are not exactly, choosing to come here. Apparently even expelled students have to attend school and this would be one of their few choices. Also, apparently, the reason BAS was chosen was because it is on a main public transportation line. So instead of putting them on special busses as some other programs do, these kids will be taking public transit, thus, walking through our neighborhoods. Also, I didn’t like the way the administrators minimized the numbers by emphasizing 15 group students and 1 independent study student at a time. It de-emphasized the multitude of “independent study” “students” coming in and out throughout the week. I’m very cynical of this independent study thing. It is hard to take it seriously when these are obviously students who need lots of structure. So my guess is that it will be some kind of check in for documentation that these kids are “in” school. And I’m guessing this independent element will attract the worst.

  • Samarai

    Correction, and I apologize to those I might have affected. The principle told us he was concerned about a plan to locate an “Alternative” school to the BAS. Not sure there much difference accept the level of difficulty of the students.

  • Samarai

    Well call me the cynic, but my take on the meeting is that this is a done deal. The district has no alternative to BAS. By law they can’t place it at another campus, and as suggested they can’t put it at the district office, due to the building not being safe. So without an alternative, and the County asking (TELLING?!?!) BUSD to find a place, I can’t believe that the board will vote it down. Beside, it is a financial decision, so all we can hope for is that our concerns will be taken into consideration and incorporated into whatever plan they come up with.

  • Sharkey

    I was unable to stay for the entire meeting as well, but I got the same thing as everyone else.

    This is a done deal, the BUSD doesn’t care what the community thinks about it, they don’t have any safeguards in place to keep an eye on these kids once they leave the campus, and they didn’t even bother to seriously consider any other sites in the City.

    If someone wanted to organize a petition to get signed by people living in the neighborhood in District 1, that *might* have some sort of impact. That’s about the only way I think they might stop to listen to their constituents.

  • laura menard

    http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2005-05-17/article/21408?headline=NeighborsPropose-OwnDesign-forWest-Campus-By-RICHARD-BRENNEMAN

    The story linked above covers the tensions between officials and neighbors during the West Campus planning process, the Planet archives contained other stories and commentaries about that process. The district and the county approach to this project are likely trying to avoid a repeat of that prolonged process.

    Take note that during the original idea was to place this community day school at West Campus. Council member Darryl Moore supported the neighbors opposition.

    We have several programs that serve at-risk and high risk teens educational requirements. There are many improvements the district could implement if they were truly concerned with reducing delinquency and truancy. For instance, close the campus for lunch. After all Berkeleyside has been celebrating Joy Moore food program at B-Tech on these pages, but the fact is the teens leave campus for lunch, mostly eat at the two nearby corner market, smoke dope on Derby and in the Oregon St park, sell drugs in various locations while truant from class.

    The neighborhood might consider a monthly problem solving meeting with the program administrators. Maybe create a yahoo group to collect incidents or issues from surrounding residents and then have a rep meet with the district staff and a beat cop for problem solving purposes. The beat cop could bring along a month worth of CFS data covering the area.

  • Eric

    @Laura — those are some great ideas. If this program has to go in that location, then I think the way to satisfy neighbors’ concerns is to look for creative ways to anticipate, curb, and correct the offensive behavior. In addition to your ideas, perhaps the city needs to add video surveillance in those parks as well.

  • hiro protagonist

    Alameda County Educational Services Plan For Expelled & High Risk Students

    http://www.acoe.org/acoe/files/SPAS/Alameda%20County%20Educational%20Services%20Plan%20for%20Expelled%20&%20High%20Risk%20Students.pdf

    “In accordance with Section 1981, the county board of education may enroll in the community schools pupils who are any of the following:
    a. Expelled for any of the reasons specified in subdivision (a) or (c) of Section 48915.
    b. Referred to county community schools by a school district as a result of the recommendation of a school attendance review board of pupils whose school districts of attendance have, at the request of the pupil’s parent or guardian, approved the pupil’s enrollment in a county community school.
    c. Probation‐referred pursuant to Sections 300, 601, 602, and 654 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.
    d. On probation or parole and not in attendance in any school.
    e. Expelled from a school district for any reason other than those specified in subdivision (a) or (c) of Section 48915.
    f. Homeless children.”

  • http://www.watersideworkshops.org Amber Rich

    On your worst day, most of you could not imagine the hardships that many of these kids endure. As someone who works on the ground level with youth who have been previously incarcerated and suffer from emotional and learning disabilities, everyday I see that these kids can change if they are provided with support. Shipping them out of their community and turning our backs on their hardships does not solve the problem. These kids are from the Berkeley community. Many comments above propose that the community does not need these kids and their associated difficulties at the time when these kids need their community the most. How do we expect these young people to have a chance to change without schools like B-Tech, Fred Finch and the small school in this proposal? Referencing someone’s comment above, think of how difficult it must be to be a teenager with no family living in a group home. If you feel so threatened and disgusted by these young people, they will see it on your face when you pass them on the street and you will mean as little to them as they do to you. However, if you see them as equals, not thugs or truants, and understand that their situation is not one of choice, but one that is born out of unbelievable hardship, the situation will look much different. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what would be best for you. Feel lucky that your life is so privileged, and consider being flexible to help someone in need.

  • Samarai

    @Amber, I think that you are missing the point. For those of us who are concerned, I would wager it is because we are worried about the possible risk, and other negative impacts these kids might bring to our community. I would also agree that these kids life must be hell, and that they deserve more, but as a member of the community that originally tried to prevent the move of the BAS to the Franklin school I do not trust the BUSD to tell us the truth about what this will really mean. Some would say that the BAS has not been a detriment to our neighborhood, I’m not so sure I would agree. I now see this as just another ‘load’ that this neighborhood will have to live with. If as a society we really cared, why don’t we do something for these kids before their lives are near ruin. That said the following happened today at BHS:

    Dear BHS Families:

    At approximately 8:45 a.m. a staff member heard what appeared to be a
    gunshot coming from a bathroom near the portable in the southeast area of
    the campus. That staff member notified supervisors and security. Safety
    staff pursued the two individuals off campus and notified police.
    Fortunately no one was hurt in the incident.

    In response, we closed the perimeter of the campus in preparation for a
    possible lockdown. As we knew that the individuals were off campus, we did not upgrade to lock down status but kept all students in classrooms and
    out of the hallways and did not permit individuals to enter or exit the
    campus effectively closing all access to campus for a period of time.

    We held the perimeter closed for several minutes; this caused students to
    remain in their first period classes after the bell and delayed the
    beginning of second period. At the same time, students who were arriving
    for second period classes were unable to enter the building until clear
    and complete descriptions of the individuals we were concerned with could
    be broadcast. That was accomplished and soon after, safety staff detained
    two individuals fitting the descriptions as they waited outside the
    building and handed those individuals (BHS students) over to BPD.

    These individuals were searched and after extensive questioning disclosed
    the location of a weapon that was recovered off campus shortly thereafter
    by BPD. These individuals were arrested by BPD and now face mandatory
    expulsions per state education code.

    During the course of the investigation staff got information that another
    weapon might be on campus. We initiated an escort protocol and confiscated an unloaded second firearm from a third student who was also in possession of marijuana. That student was also arrested and will face an expulsion hearing.

    Obviously today marks a most concerning trend with weapons being brought on to our campus. Our concern is heightened by the fact that this time a weapon was discharged.

    In response to this incident BHS will increase safety staff and supervision until spring break as we review this situation, and all related situations, in order to craft a comprehensive intervention for this most unsettling series of incidents.

    Ironically, materials arrived today from an organization we have contracted out with called PAX. This organization runs a 24-hour anonymous
    hotline that any student can utilize to report a weapon on campus.
    Obviously we would prefer to have students report information to a staff
    member that they trust, but in the event that they want total anonymity,
    they can call 1-866-SPEAK UP. This 24-hour hotline is staffed with trained
    counselors and social workers that can receive anonymous tips and then
    initiate contact with relevant school and police personnel. A text
    messaging option should also be operational within the next week and we
    will pass that on to families. Please make certain that this number is
    shared with your student.

    We are also planning to organize classroom visits by administrators and
    counselors to get a deeper understanding of the problem from a student
    perspective as we consider our larger response.

    Again, the anxiety this brings to you all is certainly not lost on me and
    we are more than aware that a third incident of this type warrants a
    deeper and more comprehensive response to these types of issues and
    warrants a wider community discussion.

    For now I can tell you that our students are safe, in classes, and that
    we are doing our best to continue on with teaching and learning despite
    this morning’s incident. We will continue to forward information regarding
    our response and share as much information as possible. A power outage hit a good portion of our campus and the north Berkeley community this morning as well, yet with all of this, our students and staff again proved how remarkable and resilient they are providing cooperation and working hard in classrooms despite the huge distractions.

    District personnel have been extremely supportive and we are collectively
    exploring a wide range of options with which to address this persistent
    and unfortunate trend.

    Respectfully,

    Pasquale Scuderi
    Principal

  • berkopinionator

    It is critical that the district succeed in creating space for children expelled from other schools. Those kids have to receive specialized instruction in an appropriate setting. And, it is important and required that they receive that instruction away from the schools they were expelled from.