Tag Archives: Berkeley Unified School District

BUSD superintendent: ‘We have much more work to do’

berkeley high
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In response to unruly behavior on the Berkeley High campus Oct. 24, and the current absence of top leadership at the school, Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Donald Evans has asked the school’s former principal to take a more active role in the day-to-day running of the school, and has committed to having a new principal in place by July 1, 2015.

In an email sent to the Berkeley High community Tuesday, Evans said the problems that occurred on Rally Day at Berkeley High demonstrated that the district had “much more work to do.”

A Berkeley High staffer was sent to the hospital with a head injury sustained during what the school described as a mob scene involving an estimated 500 mostly junior and senior students “participating in hazing and bullying behavior,” chanting and throwing objects, including glass bottles after school let out on Friday Oct. 24. While trying to break up the mob, two additional staff members were hit. Fifteen students were found to be intoxicated and were suspended. … Continue reading »

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Challenger Ty Alper gets seat on Berkeley School Board; third seat too close to call

Ty Alper (second from left) on the campaign trail in September. Photo Ty Alper for School Board
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Ty Alper, a challenger, has won a seat on the Berkeley School Board with the most votes – so far — in a close race, while incumbent Josh Daniels received the second-to-most votes.

The race for the third board seat, between incumbents Karen Hemphill and Julie Sinai is so close — about a half of a percent — that it is too close to call, according to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters office. Vote-by-mail ballots dropped off at the polls on Election Day are still uncounted.

More information may be available by Thursday evening, but the registrar has 28 days to tally the results.

See Berkeleyside’s live election night blog for the latest vote tallies.

Alper was reached while cleaning his house today.

“Campaign HQ was my living room, and I had promised the family I would put it back to normal,” Alper said. “I’m sure we’ll celebrate, but I want to wait to see how these last votes come in before really celebrating.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley School Board primer: enrollment and capacity, recess restriction, emergency preparedness

The Berkeley School Board, at its August meeting. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight (Wednesday, Nov. 5) for a closed session at 6 p.m., followed by its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m.  Follow along via the Nov. 5 agenda packet.

The board will discuss possible solutions to overcrowding in the schools and will hear the first draft of a policy on using recess restriction as a punishment. The board will also hear presentations on emergency preparedness and planning for the BSEP ballot measure in 2016.

There are no action items on the agenda; the board will not be voting on anything.

Closed session

The meeting will begin Wednesday at 6 p.m. with a closed session to discuss anticipated litigation, the high school principal position, and evaluation of Superintendent Donald Evans (p. 1 of the agenda). Public comment, up to 15 minutes, will be taken prior to the closed session. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Admin, students share blame for BHS Rally Day mob

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I am a senior at Berkeley High School, I’ve been in school Leadership — a student government organization — for all four years, and I was present at Friday’s Rally Day mob scene. I know it got completely out of hand. It is 100% unacceptable for anyone to be physically hurt, and the firecracker that sounded like a gunshot was frightening. Reading through multiple articles, comments and responses from the administration, … Continue reading »

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Berkeley High staffer injured, 15 students suspended, due to 500-strong student mob involving bullying, drinking

Rally Day in 2012, the last one to happen after it was canceled due to what the district said was
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A Berkeley High staffer was sent to the hospital Friday with a head injury sustained during what the school describes as a mob scene involving an estimated 500 students “participating in hazing and bullying behavior,” chanting and throwing objects, including glass bottles.

Berkeley police were called to help BHS administration and safety staff control the crowd of mostly juniors and seniors that gathered on the campus quad at around 3:45 p.m. While trying to break up the mob, two additional staff members were hit, according to Jorge Melgoza, vice principal of Berkeley High, who sent an email to the school community about the incident that was delivered on Saturday.

Fifteen students were found to be intoxicated and were suspended Friday. None were injured and no arrests were made. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley School Board: 3 seats contested by 5 candidates

The Berkeley School Board, at its August meeting. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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Three seats on the Berkeley Unified school board are being contested by five candidates in this year’s election. Three of the candidates — Josh Daniels, Karen Hemphill and Julie Sinai — are incumbents on the board (although Sinai was appointed, not elected, following the resignation of Leah Wilson). Ty Alper and Norma Harrison are the two non-incumbents running for the board.

Berkeleyside asked each of the candidates a number of questions about both their background and their views on some key issues facing Berkeley schools. The responses to the questions are provided in alphabetical order below.

One slightly unusual aspect about the school board race is that the three incumbents have endorsed each other and are circulating literature encouraging voters to elect them as a combined slate. Since school-board elections are citywide, building name recognition among voters is often particularly difficult for non-incumbents. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley School Board primer: BCCE union contract, compensation report on the agenda

The Berkeley School Board, at its August meeting. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 22) for a closed session at 6 p.m., followed by its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m.  Follow along via the Oct. 22 agenda packet.

The board is scheduled to approve a contract for a staff union that has been under negotiation for three years. The board will also approve new compensation levels for classified staff, based on comparisons with similar districts.

In addition, the board will discuss reports on indicators of student progress and adult-school benchmarks.

Closed session

The board will begin its Wednesday meeting at 6 p.m. with a closed session to discuss collective bargaining and the evaluation of Superintendent Donald Evans. Public comment, up to 15 minutes, will be taken prior to the closed session. Details are on page 1 of the regular packet. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: School district overcrowding is an opportunity that begins as a problem

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Last week’s Berkeley School Board meeting kicked off a series of important community input meetings to address the issue of overcrowding in our schools. Parents from local elementary schools shared observations about how increasing demands on our teachers, classrooms, schoolyards and cafeterias undermine the quality education that we want for Berkeley’s kids.

Although our schools are overflowing, the school board meeting felt strangely empty. Four of our ten elementary schools were represented, and no middle school or high school parents … Continue reading »

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Noose at Berkeley High raised concerns over past suicide

Noose at BHS. Photo: anonymous
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Berkeley High administrators considered whether a noose found hanging in a tree earlier this month might have been in some way related to the suicide in February of a 21-year-old man on the BHS campus, according to Berkeley Unified Assistant Superintendent Pasquale Scuderi.

On Oct. 1 at around 2 p.m., a thin rope tied in the form of a noose was found in a tree on the campus green at Berkeley High School.

Berkeley police were called to investigate the incident, and worked with school safety officers.

Eight days after the discovery, on Oct. 9., Berkeley High Vice Principal Jorge Melgoza sent an email to the BHS community detailing what actions the school was taking in the wake of the noose’s discovery.

Melgoza described the noose as an “act of hate” and said it was “a clear and stark reminder that racism is alive and well in this country.”

Administrators also wondered whether the noose might be in some way related to the suicide on Feb. 17 on the campus of Michael B. Hamilton, who was not affiliated with the school, according to Scuderi, who, until last year, was principal of Berkeley High. … Continue reading »

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Noose hanging from tree discovered at Berkeley High

One of the inner courtyards at Berkeley High
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Berkeley police are investigating the discovery of a noose hanging on a tree on the Berkeley High campus.

A BHS safety officer discovered the noose on the afternoon of Wednesday, Oct. 1. It was immediately removed. The school said it appeared to be an isolated event. Nobody has been found responsible for what the school describes as a hate crime.

“This act of hate has never been, and will never be, tolerated on this campus,” BHS Vice Principal Jorge Melgoza wrote in an email to the school community on Thursday this week. “It is a reminder of a terrible period in our history that will never and should never be forgotten. This incident is a clear and stark reminder that racism is alive and well in this country and we as educators are the ones best suited to combat this ignorance. There are a variety of manners for this to happen and it all begins with us choosing to remain focused on the issue beyond this incident.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley School Board primer: English Learner master plan and increasing enrollment are on the agenda

The Berkeley School Board, at its August meeting. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 8) for a closed session at 6 p.m., followed by its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Follow along via the agenda packet.

The board will discuss the district’s English Learner Master Plan. It will also begin a four-part process of addressing the challenges of increasing enrollment. (Read more about school enrollment issues on Berkeleyside.) … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: After fatal stabbing, be the change in South Berkeley

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On Sept. 19, a 72-year-old woman was brutally stabbed in front of the Berkeley Zen Center in South Berkeley in a botched carjacking. For several days she lay in the hospital sedated and unresponsive, with irreparable brain damage. Because of this, her family decided to take her off life support. Two-and-a-half weeks after the attack, she died.

I keep waiting for the outrage. After all, when a slashing happened at the scenic North … Continue reading »

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After 3 years of negotiations, Berkeley school district and union reach tentative agreement

Berkeley Council of Classified Employees demonstrated on Friday March 28, 2014 outside BUSD's HQ on Bonar Street. Photo: Ted Friedman
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A fact-finding panel brought in to assist with talks between the Berkeley Unified School District and one of its unions finally led to a contract breakthrough – after three years of negotiations.

The district and the Berkeley Council of Classified Employees, which represents 590 employees, hammered out the details of an agreement on Wednesday. … Continue reading »

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