Tag Archives: Berkeley Unified School District

Petition to fire Berkeley teacher garners 500 signatures

yvette felarci featured
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A petition to oust a Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School teacher who was involved with a counter-protest against a white supremacist group in Sacramento has gathered more than 500 signatures

The middle school teacher’s involvement at the protest prompted threats of violence against students at King.

Yvette Felarca — the middle school teacher and a member of the group By Any Means Necessary, which says it’s “building a new civil rights movement” — was filmed in Sacramento on June 26 taunting and hitting a neo-Nazi attending a rally led by the Traditionalist Worker Party, a white nationalist extremist group. The violent altercation made headlines across the U.S. after seven people were stabbed and 10 hospitalized during the pandemonium.

Robert Jacobsen, a former student at King Middle School, launched a petition drive on Change.org after learning about Felarca’s involvement in the Sacramento altercation. The petition demands that the Berkeley Unified School District fire Felarca. It argues that citizens of the U.S., regardless of their political views have the right to free speech. Felarca’s interference with those rights are grounds for dismissal, according to the petition. Continue reading »

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Anonymous email threatens students at Berkeley school after Sacramento rally tied to local teacher

A police cruiser was parked outside Martin Luther King. Jr. Middle School on Monday. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Local and federal authorities investigated threats Monday targeting youth at a North Berkeley middle school by a group that demanded the termination of a teacher who protested against a neo-Nazi rally in Sacramento over the weekend.

The rally Sunday made national headlines due to violent clashes between the white supremacists who took out a permit to rally at the state capitol and the counter-protesters who showed up to confront them. According to some news reports, members of the counter-protest appear to have initiated the violence. The LA Times reported that seven people were stabbed and 10 hospitalized.

Read Berkeleyside’s July update.

One of the people who took responsibility for helping organize the counter-protest was Yvette Felarca, a teacher at North Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, at 1781 Rose St. Felarca is an organizer with the activist group By Any Means Necessary, which helped lead a series of Black Lives Matter protests in Berkeley in December 2014.

Parents of day campers were told Monday morning that one of the counter-protesters from Sacramento had been linked to the Berkeley school where the camps were located. The public outing had prompted an influx of emails to the principal demanding that the teacher be fired. … 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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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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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.

Continue reading »

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City Council moves temporarily to school board building

BUSD board room Photo Google StreetView
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The Berkeley City Council is packing up and moving its meetings.

Tonight will be one of the last times that council convenes at Old City Hall, at 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way – at least for a few months.

Starting March 15, council will meet in the Berkeley Unified School District boardroom at 1231 Addison St. behind its HQ at 2020 Bonar St. It is part of a two-and-a-half-month pilot program through May 31 to see if the school headquarters is an appropriate place to convene.

The City Council has been looking for a new meeting space since 2011 because its current space, in the Maudelle Shirek Building, is dilapidated, too small for large crowds, and not seismically safe. In addition, there aren’t many toilets and the elevator doesn’t always work, restricting access to the second-floor chambers. … Continue reading »

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‘Afro-Vegan’ chef gets Berkeley students cooking

Working on the lavender lemonade. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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By Emilie Raguso and Tracey Taylor 

Bryant Terry is singing. Standing in front of a circle of seated Berkeley Technology Academy (BTA) students, the Oakland cookbook author and food activist is emulating his grandmother as she prepared meals in her Southern kitchen, stocked with jars of pickles and chow-chow relish.

“My grandmother could throw down in the kitchen,” he said, then broke into a verse of “When I Lay My Burden Down.”

Terry — whose latest book, Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed, was published in 2014 — was at Berkeley’s alternative high school Friday at the invitation of teachers there, as well as Jezra Thompson, who heads up Berkeley Unified‘s gardening and cooking program.

The event was part of the school’s Black History Month programming. After Terry talked to the group of around 60 students, teachers, staff and a few little ones, they washed up, donned aprons and broke into teams to prepare a range of vegan recipes he had helped compile.

On the menu: Texas caviar (black-eyed peas), gumbo, roasted pumpkin seeds, fruit salad and lavender-infused lemonade. The lavender came from the school garden, along with many of the herbs and some of the greens. A teacher harvested bags of lemons from her tree, not far from the BTA campus, and brought them in for the event. … Continue reading »

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BSEP meetings lay groundwork for November vote

BUSD first days back at school September 2015. Photo: Mark Coplan
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Berkeley Schools’ local parcel tax — BSEP — which provides 20% of the school district’s budget, will be on the ballot this November for the first approval in 10 years. The district is organizing a series of “community conversations” about BSEP starting tonight, Thursday, to engage and inform parents. (Scroll down for details.)

“BSEP is a huge way that our Berkeley community supports public education,” said school board president Beatriz Leyva-Cutler. “It’s a direct way that our taxpayers have shown their commitment to Berkeley schools.”

BSEP, the Berkeley Schools Excellence Project, was created in 1986 in response to cuts in state education funding following the 1978 passage of Proposition 13. BSEP has been renewed and expanded with voter support in 1994, 2004 and 2006. The 2006 approval merged two separate taxes into one with support of nearly 80% of voters. This year’s measure, which will probably be agreed by the school board in June, will require a two-thirds supermajority vote to pass.  … Continue reading »

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Samuel Newcom: Mathematician, educator, musician

Sam Newcom Young II
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Samuel George Newcom of Redding, CA, passed away Feb. 1, 2016 at the age of 98.

Sam was born, Aug. 10, 1917 on his parent’s farm north of Deloit, Iowa. He was of English (father Samuel Joseph Newcom) and German (mother Della Marie Kropf Newcom) descent. Sam spent his childhood going to school and working on the Boyer River Valley family farm – land purchased from the railroad by members of the extended Newcom family when they fled the Civil … Continue reading »

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Bites: Antoinette, Temescal Brewing, Belotti, more

The dining room at the newly opened Antoinette Brasserie at the Claremont Hotel. Photo: Fairmont Group
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Openings, closings…

ANTOINETTE BRASSERIE AT CLAREMONT NOW OPEN Last week, we gave you an update on Antoinette, the new brasserie at the Claremont Hotel. The French restaurant, overseen by Michelin-starred Dominique Crenn, with Justin Mauz as executive chef, opened Tuesday. Eater SF has a photo gallery of the revamped former Paragon restaurant and bar. And Inside Scoop has the opening-night menu which leans traditional French — with foie gras and wine-based sauces much in evidence — and pricey. Among the starters: Warm Broccoli Velouté with Sea Urchin and Blood Orange ($18); Sweetbreads with Foie Gras, Dates, Baby Chicory, and Banyuls ($23); and Basil-fed Escargot with Champagne and Hazelnut Chartreuse ($18). Entrées include Coq au Vin with Pinot Noir Braise and Maitake ($29); Schmitz Ranch Prime Strip Steak with Celeriac Dauphinoise and Sauce Bordelaise ($60); Whole Roasted Monkfish Tail with Bouillabaisse, Cous Cous and Vadouven (serves 2-3, $95); and a whole Liberty Farms Rotisserie Duck with Abalone Mushroom, Foie Gras, Chou Rouge and Châteauneuf-du-Pape (serves 3-4, $200). A spokeswoman for the Fairmont Group, owners of the Claremont, said Thursday the team was reworking the menu, so what you see here might change. (The hotel’s other restaurant, the Meritage, offers a more down-to-earth dinner menu.) … Continue reading »

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Council approves $1.5M to fight soda consumption

Two high-school students on their lunch break carry food and drink out of the McDonald’s on University Avenue in Berkeley. Photo, taken on Monday Oct. 20, 2014, by Gael McKeon
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Officials voted Tuesday night to step up the fight against sugary drinks in Berkeley by boosting public health staffing, helping pay for school nutrition programs and funding grants to help limit the impacts of, and access to, sugar-sweetened beverages.

The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to allocate $1.5 million from the general fund in the coming fiscal year to those efforts. The vote was in response to a request from a citizen board, the “Sugar Sweetened Beverage Products Panel of Experts,” which has been working since last May to come up with recommendations to guide the city following the successful passage of Measure D, a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on drinks with added sweeteners such as sodas, and energy and coffee drinks.

Berkeley was lauded as the first city in the nation to pass a tax on sugary drinks. The measure was approved with 75% of the vote in November 2014.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of the soda tax.

Since tax collection began last May, the city has brought more than $1.2 million into the general fund, staff said Tuesday night. Council members said they want to do their best to align any spending plans with tax revenues, though all the money is technically part of the general fund. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley School Board primer: Campus racism, Thousand Oaks portables, help for ‘high-need’ students

BUSD held a town hall in December about how to address racism on campus. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight, Jan. 13. On the agenda: The superintendent will share his plan to address racism on campus, the board may vote to call off plans for portables at Thousand Oaks, and there will be an overview about the types of intervention help and support the district’s high-need students receive.

Plan to address racism on campus

There’s one item on the action calendar, which is a follow-up to a Berkeley Unified School District town hall meeting in early December focused on racial threats last fall directed toward black students and staff at Berkeley High. The meeting was a collaboration between the district and community group Parents of Children of African Descent (PCAD).

According to the agenda item, “That meeting generated a rich array of input from the community that resulted in suggestions and requests for commitments from the District to better safeguard the physical, emotional, and educational interests of our African-American students.” 

Two days after the town hall, the Berkeley High School Black Student Union presented to the board a “list of demands designed to address the issue of racism on campus.” … Continue reading »

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Community raises more than $31,000 so far for Berkeley teacher hit by stray bullet

Claire Dugan
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fundraising campaign set up to help a Berkeley elementary school teacher who was critically injured in Richmond on Saturday after being hit by a stray bullet, has so far raised more than $31,000 for her and her partner.

On Jan. 2, Berkeley resident Claire Dugan, a teacher at Cragmont Elementary School, was randomly shot while driving on Cutting Boulevard near 22nd Street a little after 6 p.m., according to Lt. Felix Tan of the Richmond Police Department. Dugan took a bullet in the face and neck, then both she and her partner Lori Dooner were injured in a subsequent collision.

Visit the GoFundMe campaign page for Claire Dugan and Lori Dooner.

The fundraising site explains that the couple, who have a teenage son, need help with medical bills and living expenses “while they recover and fight to overcome the horrific violence that was inflicted on them.” … Continue reading »

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