The Berkeley Unified School District is dropping its efforts to place a school for expelled students inside the Berkeley Adult School on San Pablo Avenue.
Superintendent Bill Huyett thinks “the District has other more pressing issues and needs that require staff time,” according to a press release that was sent out at 12:40 a.m. Sunday “The District will continue to encourage the Alameda County Office of Education to locate services for expelled students in the northern part of the county.”
The decision means that the students expelled from BUSD, whether for truancy, bad behavior, repeated suspensions, and violent acts like carrying a weapon to school, will have to do independent study or travel to another community school run by the ACOE, like the one in Hayward. This year 17 students have been expelled from the district.
BUSD has been facing a number of pressing issues this year, and apparently Huyett was not willing to dedicate the resources necessary to fight off the objections of a group of neighbors who did not want a community school in their neighborhood.
The group, Berkeley Adult School Neighbors, thought the plan was not well thought out and accused the district of trying to slip in the school without adequately notifying the community. Neighbors were also concerned that crime would increase if a group of high-risk kids came into the area each day. City Councilwoman Linda Maio, who represents that area, had also expressed concern about the program.
This year, the district has had to deal with potentially huge cuts in its budget due to the state’s fiscal issues. Huyett and other top district officials have also been spending time creating a plan to address the prevalence of guns in Berkeley high schools. Earlier this year, two students accidentally shot off a gun in a bathroom portable at Berkeley High; a bullet penetrated the wall but did not strike anyone. There were five other gun incidents at the two high schools this year.
Huyett is planning to present a set of recommendations about guns to the school board on June 29.