Tag Archives: Berkeley High guns

Berkeley schools, police, city join forces on youth crime

A tree outside the Berkeley Zen Center has become a memorial to Nancy McClellan. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Berkeley school officials, police and the city are gearing up to work more closely on juvenile crime issues, both to improve information sharing and try to get services to youth who need them.

A small group of residents — part of the Berkeley Safe Neighborhoods Committee (BSNC), an umbrella organization for neighborhood watch-type activities — got an update on the fledgling effort Monday night, though it had been announced for the first time in November.

Since then, Berkeley Police Capt. Andrew Greenwood said he has met with the city attorney to figure out what type of information can legally be shared. Greenwood also met a couple times with Susan Craig, director of Student Services for the Berkeley Unified School District — briefly, and in the context of other discussions — to figure out some of the logistics of the endeavor. But there have not yet been any official meetings of what had been pitched as a “working group,” and Greenwood left it an open question Monday as to whether those meetings will actually take place.

Former Mayor Shirley Dean, who runs the neighborhood group, told Greenwood that BSNC believes monthly meetings will be a critical component of the working group’s success, and said BSNC will continue to include the item on its agenda, and watch closely as the effort unfolds. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley schools implement $2M safety plan

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When gun violence in the school’s neighborhood forced LeConte Elementary School to go on lockdown earlier this month, second grade teacher Pamela Diebel and her colleagues weren’t able to lock their own classrooms, and students in bathrooms and hallways missed the announcement on the loudspeaker. But the next campus in the district to go on lockdown may not face the same challenges.

The Berkeley Unified School District will immediately begin to implement a nearly $2 million school safety improvement plan approved by the school board to install new PA systems, increase the use of surveillance cameras, conduct armed intruder training for staff — and replace classroom locks so that the doors can be bolted from the inside.

“All of those improvements were ones we desired,” said Diebel. “I would’ve liked to be able to lock my door from inside.” … Continue reading »

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Workshop urges action on gun violence around Berkeley

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Following the recent shootings of former Berkeley students in Oakland, a coalition of groups held a workshop Friday, May 24, to try to figure out ways to reduce the vulnerability of young people in the city. The meeting was spurred by the murder of 17-year-old Olajuwon Clayborn, another incident in which a Berkeley High student was left in a coma and later died, as well as other shootings with Berkeley student connections.

Berkeley Alliance, which coordinates the city’s 2020 Vision program, brought together representatives from Berkeley Unified School District, Berkeley police, City of Berkeley staff, and community organizations to work on violence prevention ideas that have emerged from 2020 Vision workgroups, including greater mental health suport, case workers for at-risk students, case managers for high school students, adopting training program, and community engagement in a citywide anti-violence campaign.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley high school student robbed, weapon involved

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A male student at Berkeley Technology Academy high school was robbed and assaulted today at approximately 11:15 a.m. at Milvia and Stuart streets in central Berkeley, according to authorities. A weapon was involved.

Berkeley Technology Academy, or BTECH as it is more commonly known, at 2701 Martin Luther King Jr Way, and the King Child Development Center at 1939 Ward Street were on lock down for approximately 30 minutes while police searched for the suspect.

According to an email message sent out to the Berkeley High School community by BHS Principal Pasquale Scuderi, BHS’s Dean of Students, Ardarius McDonald, received word of the strong-armed robbery — which happened about 1 mile from the BHS campus — from the  Berkeley Police Department School Resource Officer today. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley High asks youth to fight back against violence

Students acted out a scene about a robbery over a pair of shoes as part of Thursday's anti-gun-violence assembly. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A Berkeley High alum came back to school Thursday, after nearly two decades, to speak with students about the importance of resisting violence and standing up for each other in the face of bullying.

Victor Rios, now an associate professor in UC Santa Barbara’s sociology department, described to students how tough times in his teens — including temporarily dropping out of school and watching two loved ones get killed — nearly derailed his future.

Rios said it was mainly due to the efforts of Berkeley High staffer Flora Russ, who founded a small school in the district with an emphasis on serving at-risk students, that he didn’t end up in prison or dead. … Continue reading »

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No suspect in Berkeley High student shooting case

The scene of the Feb. 23 shooting of a Berkeley High senior at Market and Lowell near the Oakland- Berkeley
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Oakland Police Department say they have no suspect for Thursday morning’s shooting of a Berkeley High senior as he was riding his bike at the intersection of Lowell and Market streets in North Oakland.

The 18-year-old victim, who is not being identified by OPD nor by BUSD, sustained a non-life threatening gunshot wound from a gunman who was also riding a bicycle. The call to OPD was made at 8:03 a.m. The victim, an Oakland resident according to OPD, is recovering at Highland Hospital after surgery yesterday.

OPD cannot confirm whether the victim was also carrying, or may have shot, a gun, as has been reported in other media. “The investigative team is not releasing any information while it conducts its research,” said an OPD spokesperson. … Continue reading »

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Breaking: Berkeley High student shot in Oakland

The scene of the shooting Thursday morning which put a Berkeley High student in hospital. Photo: Linda
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Update, 2:20 pm: The BHS student who was shot this morning in Oakland is out of surgery and is stable and resting, according to an email from BHS Principal Pasquale Scuderi to the BHS community.

He writes: “While we are not posting the student’s name his individual teachers will be notified. We are cautiously optimistic about the outcome of this particular situation, but we are again deeply saddened by the reminder of how often and how brutally gun violence continues to impact young people in our community and in many communities across the country.

“While we have no indication of any further threat to the BHS campus or community in connection with this incident, our partners at the Berkeley Police Department have coordinated additional police presence with our safety staff for the duration of the afternoon and through dismissal purely as a precautionary measure while Oakland P.D. continues their investigation. … Continue reading »

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Drug arrest leads to tense moments at Berkeley High

One of the inner courtyards at Berkeley High
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Update, 11.01.11: The BPD has released a photograph of the replica gun officers recovered Monday in this case (left). It was a realistic looking Desert Eagle gun, the BPD reported. In an email release, the BDP writes: “The young man and woman are being booked at the BPD Juvenile booking facility, the 17 male who does not currently attend school for 148(PC) – Resisting or Obstructing an officer and the 15 year old (a 10th grade BHS student) for 11357(b) PC – Possession of less than 28.5 g of marijuana and an outstanding warrant.”


Berkeley High officials briefly secured the school perimeter this afternoon after a 17-year old who had been stopped for selling drugs in MLK Park ran toward the area.

A Berkeley police officer witnessed a hand-to-hand drug transaction around 3:19 pm between the 17-year old and a 15-year old sophomore from Berkeley High, according to Sgt. Mary Kusmiss. The police officer rode his bike over to the teens and told them to sit down. He called for back up, but the 17-year old ran away and tossed a gun he was carrying under a car, said Sgt. Kusmiss. The officer caught up with the 17-year old and detained him. An investigation revealed the gun was a very-real looking fake Desert Eagle, said Sgt. Kusmiss.

As a safety precaution, Principal Pasquale Scuderi briefly closed the perimeter of the school, said Superintendent Bill Huyett. … Continue reading »

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Students see security changes at Berkeley High School

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As Berkeley High students returned to school this week, they weren’t permitted to enter by the Allston Street door leading into the main office. Instead they were directed to a nearby gate.

“Visitors Entrance Only,” read the lettering on two new signs posted by the office. “Students Please Use the ‘A’ Gate.”

Five and a half months after two students discharged a gun in a portable bathroom, spooking students, parents, and administrators, change has come to Berkeley High. Access to … Continue reading »

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Berkeley school board considers weapons safety report

One of the inner courtyards at Berkeley High
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While Berkeley High should tighten its perimeter, enlist its uniformed police officer to patrol its edges and nearby park, have its security officers wear identifiable uniforms, and teach students about the impact of guns, it should not require students to wear a visible identification badges and use them to get on and off campus – at least not yet.

There are still too many unresolved issues on how to implement the mechanics of closing the campus and requiring ID badges to move forward quickly, school board members decided Wednesday night. The board directed Superintendent Bill Huyett and his staff to more closely examine those items and return with a more detailed and workable plan.

“We don’t have to do this by fall,” said Board member John Selawsky. “I just want to see us working on it.”

Huyett agreed that rushing into a new set of requirements might not be the best idea. … Continue reading »

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Student voices are missing from gun safety report

One of the inner courtyards at Berkeley High
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Some significant voices are missing in the 11-page report the Ad Hoc Safety Committee prepared on how to reduce guns in Berkeley high schools: that of the students.

While two Berkeley High students sat on the committee — at least until the end of the academic year — efforts to find out and understand why students brought guns into school did not go far.

Susan Craig, the director of student services for the Berkeley Unified School District, interviewed almost all of the six Berkeley students who were caught with guns and asked them why they brought weapons on campus. None of them were particularly forthcoming about their reasons, she told the safety committee.

The district also enlisted the aid of Pastor Michael McBride of BOCA, a faith-based  action committee, to hold focus groups with students to discuss guns on campus. While those conversations happened, McBride did not provide a summary of those discussions to the committee, despite repeated phone calls asking for the information by Craig and Superintendent Bill Huyett.

McBride was not paid for his efforts, but in late May the school district approved a  $15,0000 contract with Lifelines to Healing, an anti-violence mentoring program promoted by BOCA. (Note 7/1/11: McBride said BOCA will not benefit financially from this contract and is in fact, donating $10,000 to the overall project.)

A survey conducted by the safety consultant Al Bahn of Edu-Safe Associates only garnered one student response. … Continue reading »

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School safety committee issues weapons report

Berkeley High School
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Three months after two students accidentally discharged a gun in a Berkeley High School bathroom, a task force empaneled to study the issue of weapons has concluded that the school should not install metal detectors or close the campus during lunch, but should require students to carry – but not necessarily display — identification cards.

In addition, the school could improve safety by more closely controlling who comes in and out of the campus. To do that, the high school should reduce the number of entrances to campus to four and hire monitors to stand by the gates. The school should more strictly enforce its visitors’ policy to make sure everyone on campus has a legitimate reason to be there, according to the report.

The school should also retain the 12 safety officers currently on staff – up from 10 in previous years — and hire a second full-time police officer for the campus, if financially feasible. All security personnel should be required to wear uniforms that plainly identify them to students, staff and the police, concludes the report, which will be presented to the school board on June 29.

The eleven-page set of recommendations is the culmination of three months of work by the Ad Hoc Safety Committee, which was appointed by Superintendent Bill Huyett in April to review policies and procedures in the city’s high schools after a spate of six gun incidents in a two-and-a-half month period from January to March 2011. The large number of weapons found on campus deeply distressed the community and the school board and led to emotional community meetings, student focus groups, police training, a flurry of online comment, and a sense of urgency that the district had to quickly address a growing problem.

Right after the sixth gun incident on March 25th, the school district took a number of immediate steps to try and improve the situation and asked the 15-member task force to examine some long-term policy questions on how to eliminate – or at least minimize – the presence of weapons at school.

The district bumped up its security detail by hiring two more school safety officers and increasing the presence of a uniformed police officer on campus from four to five days a week. Berkeley High closed some entrances to the massive campus, positioned security guards at the gates in the morning and after lunch, and stepped up patrols in out of way portions of the campus. It installed an anonymous hotline to report weapons. There have been no other guns discovered on the Berkeley High or B-Tech campuses since the security upgrades.

The report, and discussion among committee members, provide some new details on the six gun incidents, which included six Berkeley students and one non-Berkeley student.

  • All of the on-campus incidents happened in the morning while the off-campus incident happened after school was dismissed.
  • A total of seven Berkeley students and one non-Berkeley students were involved in the six gun incidents.
  • Six of the seven students were not on probation prior to the incident
  • One student was a senior, three were juniors, one was a sophomore, and one was a freshman.
  • Three students had not had prior discipline incidents this year before they brought weapons to school.
  • All the students were male.
  • One student was homeless.
  • All resided in Berkeley
  • All have been expelled from the district

Continue reading »

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School committee finalizes report in wake of guns

A Berkeley High safety officer stands by a gate before the start of classess, part of a series of measures to reduce the number of guns on campus. PHoto: Frances Dinkelspiel
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In a small conference room on the second floor of old City Hall, a group of school administrators, parents, students, police and safety officers have met regularly over the past nine weeks to debate how to tackle the issue of guns at Berkeley High.

They have talked about the colors gang members wear – and whether gangs pose an issue at the school. They have argued about whether to close the campus, and how a cafeteria equipped to hold 500 would serve 3,200 students a day. They have talked about making school security officers more identifiable, how to encourage students to wear ID badges, and how teaching students about the dangers of guns might be critical to stopping the presence of weapons on campus. They have agreed that metal detectors just won’t work. … Continue reading »

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