Category Archives: Schools

Emerson Elementary student finds gun, takes it to school

A classroom at Emerson Elementary in Berkeley (file photo). Photo: BUSD
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An Emerson Elementary student in Berkeley found a loaded gun and took it to school Monday, authorities have reported.

According to the Berkeley Police Department, an Emerson teacher discovered the student with the handgun. Staff took possession of the gun and called police to turn it in, said Lt. Dan Montgomery of BPD.

Montgomery said officers later responded to the boy’s home to learn more from him and his parents, “In large part to check on the safety and welfare of the child and to make sure there was no threat of violence in the future at the school.”

The boy told police he found the gun “near a neighborhood school while in the company of cousins.” Continue reading »

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Schools

Op-ed: Berkeley, testing, testing, 1-2-3… is this thing on?

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BUSD is preparing for standardized testing next week. Meanwhile, across the rest of the country, there’s a strong, vocal tide that’s swelled into what has become the largest revolt against high-stakes testing in U.S. history.

I have been surprised by the silence in Berkeley.

Public school advocates throughout the US are voicing opposition to modern school “reform” practices that civil rights icon, James Meredith calls “catastrophically misguided and ineffective”.

It’s time to break the silence.

This community has … Continue reading »

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3 teens arrested after Berkeley student fights downtown

Police responded to downtown Berkeley on Thursday for youth fighting. Photo: Siciliana Trevino
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Is it just that time of year again? Three high-school-aged students were arrested Thursday after fights broke out among youth in downtown Berkeley, authorities said.

Berkeleyside was reporting similar news last year in April.

Lt. Alyson Hart, the Berkeley Police watch commander Thursday evening, said there had been some type of disturbance at lunch involving Berkeley High School students, leading school and police authorities to be on alert when BHS let out due to rumors that problems would continue.

Not long after school ended for the day, at 3:30 p.m., Hart said police received numerous reports of youth fighting downtown. There were multiple groups of students who were “running around everywhere.”

Originally, the BART Police asked for help to handle reports of fighting on the platform at the downtown Berkeley station.

“There were a bunch of little different skirmishes or reports,” Hart said. “Around City Hall also.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley school superintendent worked 18 months with lapsed credentials

Donald Evans. Photo: Hayward Unified School District
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For much of the last two years, Berkeley School Superintendent Donald Evans has been working without credentials required by his contract.

In July 2014, a year after his appointment, Evans let his school administrative services credential and his teaching credential lapse. He finally renewed them on Jan. 4, 2016.

The Berkeley Unified School District Board is considering giving Evans a pardon for his inattentiveness. The board is scheduled to take action Wednesday to waive the district’s requirement that its top manager hold valid credentials. The action, presumably, would only apply to Evans.

“I am so embarrassed,” Evans said Tuesday. “I didn’t know my credential had lapsed. The state used to send reminders. It stopped doing it and left it up to school districts. Berkeley Unified doesn’t do it (send out reminders).” … Continue reading »

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King Middle School reports suspicious activity after spate of attempted child abductions in Berkeley

Two boys walking home from King Middle School on Monday April 4 reported suspicious activity from a man in parked car at Colusa Avenue near Marin Avenue. Image: Google Maps
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Two Berkeley middle schoolers escaped a possible attempted child abduction Monday after a man in a parked car beckoned them to come over and said he would drive them home.

Janet Levenson, the principal of Berkeley’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, on Monday night emailed the school community with information on what she termed “suspicious activity reported by King students at Colusa and Marin.”

Read more about attempted child abductions in Berkeley.

“I don’t want to alarm you,” she wrote, “but a parent just shared with me that two King students were walking home after school Monday on Colusa near Marin when a man parked in an older 4-door blue car that looked “scrappy” asked them to come over and that he would give them a ride. The boys ran. They did not get a look at the man. He was parked across the street and when the boys heard him asking them to come, they quickly determined it wasn’t right and they ran without looking back. They heard him add that he would drive them home. This incident has been reported to the Berkeley Police Department.” … Continue reading »

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Schools

Berkeley School Board primer: Thousand Oaks Spanish program in jeopardy, recess restriction report, more

The BUSD School Board in December 2015. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets Wednesday, March 23. On the agenda: the possible elimination of the Thousand Oaks Spanish immersion program; a $1.9 million class-size reduction budget shortfall; the district’s first report on recess restriction; a major telephone system update; revisions to the district’s facility naming policy; and defibrillators for elementary schools. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley High boys hoops win first NorCal title since 1921

The Yellowjacket bench erupts in joy as the team clinches its first NorCal championship since 1921. Photo: Gary Jones
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When the Yellowjackets boys basketball team last won a NorCal championship, Woodrow Wilson had just handed over the White House to Warren Harding, Babe Ruth had completed one season with the Yankees, and the founding of the precursor to the National Basketball Association was still 24 years in the future. But memories of 1921 can now be safely shelved at Berkeley High, because the Yellowjackets are the 2016 Division 1 NorCal champions after defeating Menlo-Atherton 61-51 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento on Saturday night.

On Thursday, the team travels back to Sacramento to face SoCal champ Crespi-Encino for the state title.  … Continue reading »

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A cow and a calf join school’s morning assembly

Cow visit to LeConte on March 17, 2016. Photo: Kelly Sullivan
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Veronica Valerio, principal of LeConte Elementary School in Berkeley, arranged for her young students to meet a cow on Thursday last week. “As city kids it’s important for them to know where milk comes from,” she said. “They need to understand the whole process, from livestock to milk production.”

However, the several dozen kids who sat quietly listening and answering questions posed by Brandon Roberts, a mobile dairy classroom instructor from the Dairy Council of California, appeared to be supremely knowledgeable about all matters dairy-related.

To Roberts’ question about whether the children had consumed milk, yogurt or cream cheese that morning for breakfast, a majority of hands shot up. Asked if they knew how to milk a cow, a majority of hands shot up. Many were also more than happy to demonstrate their technique.

The kids’ enthusiasm was impressive, as was their delight when Roberts finally pulled up the door on his trailer to reveal Buttercup, an impressive Holstein who was wholly unperturbed at the sight of so many small eyes fixed on her, and simply carried on munching her alfalfa. … Continue reading »

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Father of girl struck by car calls for better traffic control

Oski, the mascot of UC Berkeley, paid a visit to Lillia Bartlow this week. Photo: Bartlow family
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The father of a 9-year-old girl struck by a taxi in a crosswalk last week was among a small contingent of parents and administrators from John Muir Elementary School who asked the Berkeley City Council for pedestrian safety improvements in the area Tuesday.

Darryl Bartlow, whose daughter Lillia was hit March 8 while crossing Claremont Avenue with her mother after they attended an evening PTA meeting at the school, described a devastating week softened by “a great outpouring of love and concern” from the community. Both Lillia’s legs were broken and she may need to be in a wheelchair for up to a year, Bartlow said. It is unclear when she will be able to return to John Muir, where she is a fourth-grade student. She is home from the hospital.

Bartlow is a longtime Berkeley resident and graduate of Berkeley public schools. He worked for the Alameda County Probation Department for 30 years and now sits on the city’s Personnel Board. At the council meeting, he asked council members to install traffic lights at the crosswalk where Lillia was hit, which is directly in front of the elementary school, on Claremont Avenue at Claremont Crescent. … Continue reading »

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Malcolm X school tells community about possible child abduction attempt

A student at Malcolm X Elementary School may have been involved in a child abduction attempt. Photo: Malcolm X.
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UPDATE, March 17: Berkeley police issued a Nixle alert at around 12:45 p.m. with regard to the possible child abduction attempt described below. The alert details what the 9-year-old student says happened, and says the driver of the van was a black man in his 20s or older, with shoulder-length dreadlocks. The passenger in the van was described as a Hispanic man in his late 20s, 5 feet 9, with a thin build and dark straight hair. It remains unclear if the incident relates to a series of attempted abductions from last fall that involved a green minivan. Read the full alert.

ORIGINAL STORYMalcolm X Elementary School is on alert after a young girl reported that two men in a green van followed her to school on Monday, March 14.  One of the men got out of the vehicle and tried to grab her, prompting her to run away. The description of the van is similar to the description of a vehicle used in one of the five child abduction incidents in the fall.

Alexander Hunt, principal of Malcolm X, sent an email about the incident to the school community Wednesday afternoon, and said the Berkeley Police Department was investigating. According to Hunt, the young student left her home in the 2900 block of Harper Street around 8 a.m. to walk to  Malcolm X on Prince Street near Ashby Avenue.

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Fundraiser launched to help girl struck by taxi in Berkeley

Supporters of Lilia have already raised more than $5,000. Image: goFundme
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Update, March 12: In just two days, 120 people have raised more than $10,000 for the fourth-grader, whose legs were broken after she was hit by a taxi in a crosswalk in Berkeley. The campaign has increased the goal to $15,000. 

Original story, March 11, 1:43 p.m. Supporters of the little girl whose legs were broken earlier this week when a taxi struck her and her mother in a crosswalk outside their elementary school have already raised more than $5,000 in less than a day to help her.

The gofundme campaign launched Thursday, following Tuesday night’s crash after a PTA meeting at John Muir Elementary School.

Find the fundraising page for Lillia here.

Police received multiple 911 calls about the collision at 7:40 p.m. The woman and her 9-year-old daughter were walking west in the crosswalk when a taxi driver traveling north on Claremont Avenue hit them. Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said both the mother and daughter were injured, but that the girl’s injuries were more serious. They were taken to a local hospital for treatment.

The driver stayed at the scene and was cooperative. He received a ticket for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Neither drugs nor alcohol appeared to be a factor in the incident, said Coats.

The girl, identified as Lillia on the fundraising website, suffered two broken legs, according to the PTA. She is a fourth-grader at John Muir.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley High student faces up to reality of vision loss

Jorden Johnson and his mother Keisha Darden. Photo: courtesy family
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Sometimes bad things happen to good people, changing the trajectory of their lives with no notice. For Jorden Johnson, a 17-year-old senior at Berkeley High School, this moment came while attending football practice in the summer of 2015.

Johnson says it was like any other day. He was prepping for the first preseason game of his senior year. He had spent most of the summer preparing for that moment, and was eager to show his coach how he had developed as a player since the prior season. He went through his normal routine: stretching, team jumping jacks, and a few other exercises to get warmed up. It was when the team transitioned to position drills that Johnson began to notice something was wrong.

While going for a pass, Johnson watched the ball as it left the quarterback’s hand, soaring through the air and eventually eclipsing the sun. As the ball passed in front of the sun, Johnson recalls seeing a glare and not being able to relocate the ball, which caused  him to drop the pass.

“It was nothing new. I had done this drill a million times,” said Johnson recently. “I had lost the ball in the sun and been blinded by the glare, so I thought nothing of it.”

Johnson says he apologized to the coach for the dropped pass and determined he would make up for his mistake. His turn came around once more, and just as he had done so many times before, he took off for a pass. Again he was blinded by a glare and again he dropped the ball. This time he wasn’t sure the glare was a result of the sun.

“After that second drop I realized something was off,” said Johnson. “The glare began to turn into bright spots. I didn’t know what it was from, but I knew it couldn’t be good.” He was worried but not terrified, and he left practice thinking that some rest would do the trick. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley fourth-grader hit by taxi; parents call for better crosswalk lighting

A fourth-grader was struck by a car Tuesday on a crosswalk on Claremont Avenue and suffered two broken legs. Photo: Kevin Chang
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A fourth-grade girl from John Muir Elementary School was hit by a car Tuesday night in a crosswalk on Claremont Avenue that parents have long complained is poorly lit and needs the city’s attention.

A car struck the 9-year-old girl as she and her mother were crossing Claremont at Claremont Crescent, right in front of the school, according to an email sent out by John Muir’s principal, Audrey Amos. Both of the girl’s legs were broken and she was treated at a local hospital.

According to Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats, police received multiple 911 calls about the collision at 7:40 p.m. The woman and her daughter were walking west in the crosswalk when a taxi driver traveling north on Claremont hit them. Coats said both the mother and daughter were injured, but that the girl’s injuries were more serious. Both were taken to a local hospital for treatment. The driver stayed at the scene and was cooperative, and was ultimately cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Neither drugs nor alcohol appeared to be a factor in the crash.

The accident happened right after a PTA meeting, and has renewed calls for lighting at that crosswalk. The Berkeley Police Department pays for a crossing guard to help students across Claremont before and after school. But many children participate in the after-school program and there is no one to help them cross the street around 5:30 or 6 p.m. when it is dark. Claremont Avenue is four lanes across with a speed limit of 25 mph.
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