Tag Archives: Berkeley Unified School District

Schools

Berkeley School Board to get student residency update

There are about 300 students at Berkeley High who live outside the city but have received permits to attend BHS. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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After approving a new admissions and enrollment policy in June aimed to curtail the illegal enrollment of out-of-district students, the Berkeley School Board is set to receive a report at tonight’s meeting that sums up district efforts this year related to residency and inter-district permits.

According to the staff report prepared for the Nov. 4, board meeting, the Berkeley Unified School District has enrolled 9,880 students for the 2015-16 year. That includes 1,525 students who enrolled in the district for the first time and had to comply with the new rules.

The new board policy requires students seeking admission to BUSD to provide three “proofs of residency” and a declaration form stating that Berkeley is the family’s home district.

Earlier this year, the new policy required the families of all fifth-graders to prove their residency before being allowed to register for middle school, according to the district. This school year, eighth-graders will have to comply with the district’s admission policy before being allowed to register for classes at Berkeley High, according tonight’s staff report. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police use license plate reader in kidnapping attempt investigations

A trailer with a license plate reader has been set up at Willard Middle School. Photo: Citizen reporter
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Authorities have set up a trailer with “license plate technology” at Willard Middle School to help with an investigation into five child abduction attempts in Berkeley since September.

An astute Berkeleyside reader noticed the trailer outside Willard last Friday and commented about it using the screen name “careful what you ask for.”

The reader, who shared the photograph that accompanies this story, drew a red arrow pointing at a small box mounted on the trailer, and identified it as a license-plate-reading (LPR) camera. The trailer is white, and also includes a 25 mph speed limit sign and an LED reminder for motorists that says “slow.”

Another reader noticed the trailer, which has a line of orange cones in front of it, and wondered about it on Twitter on Tuesday: “Why in the world did the city put this in the loading zone in front of Willard?”

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats confirmed Thursday that the trailer “does have LPR technology on it.”Continue reading »

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Schools

Berkeley School Board primer: Impact fees, class sizes, intervention efforts and the achievement gap

The Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight, Oct. 28. On the action calendar is a proposal to look at how to collect mitigation fees from developers. The discussion items will focus on an intervention program focused on K-8 students who experience learning and behavioral challenges, and the district’s efforts to narrow the achievement gap between white and African American students. There’s also an information item on class sizes.

The regular meeting is set to begin by 7:30 p.m. Public comment is limited to 30 minutes, with a 3-minute limit per speaker. Public comment takes place at the beginning and end of the meeting, rather than in response to each item. See the full agenda packet here. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley Police announce 2 more child abduction attempts; new vehicle description

Willard Middle School. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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Authorities have released an updated vehicle description and more information about five child abduction attempts in Berkeley over the past month, including two that had not previously been reported.

Berkeley Police Officer Byron White, a department spokesman, said investigators believe the most recent incident, on Sunday evening, involved a black full-size cargo van, without side or back windows. A man described as Hispanic, 20 to 30 years old, with dark hair and a mustache, tried to convince three girls to get into his van at about 6:10 p.m.

In the initial report about that incident, police said they believed the involved vehicle was an older model, dark green or blue mini-van with tinted windows. After additional interviews with witnesses and victims, authorities have updated the description, said White.

White said police have learned about another attempt that day, in the same location about 15 minutes prior, involving a middle-school-aged girl. The vehicle and suspect description were the same as reported by the trio a short time later.

The other three incidents all took place Sept. 18 as children walked to Willard Middle School, at 2425 Stuart St., between Telegraph Avenue and Regent Street, between 8 and 8:30 a.m. … Continue reading »

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Schools

BUSD: Another attempted child abduction in Berkeley

Image: Google maps
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The Berkeley Unified School District is alerting the community to an attempted abduction of three girls Sunday on College Avenue.

According to a notice released Monday morning by the school district, the girls were walking on College Avenue and Webster Street at about 6:10 p.m. when a man near a van yelled at them to get inside.

“The girls started to run away and the suspect started following them on foot,” according to BUSD. “The girls started to scream and the suspect got back in his van and drove away south on College Avenue.”

The man was described as Hispanic, 20 to 30 years old, with dark hair and a mustache. He was driving an older model, dark green or blue mini-van with tinted windows. … Continue reading »

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School Board considers name change at Le Conte

LeConte Elementary School. Le Conte. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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Berkeley school officials are considering changing the name of Le Conte Elementary after community members raised concerns about its namesake, Joseph Le Conte, a deeply respected UC Berkeley faculty member and a passionate conservationist who helped found the Sierra Club.

Le Conte was also, however, a slave owner and staunch supporter of the Confederacy who held views that, from a modern perspective, no longer reflect Berkeley values.

“When I did some research on Le Conte and found out that he was an unabashed, devout racist,” said School Board Member Ty Alper at a board meeting in August, “it made me really uncomfortable that we have a school named after him.”

School board members said they believe it is important that district facilities are named after people who symbolize equity and equality. The board met Aug. 26 and agreed, in concept, to work toward changing the name of Le Conte Elementary, though more discussion will take place before the official vote. The board is planning to reshape its overall naming policy, then come back to look at specific sites. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: School board — Take action now on developer fees

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State law allows school districts to collect fees from new residential and commercial development projects to mitigate their impact on school facilities. New construction and new residents mean new students and new classroom space requirements. Most school districts in the state collect these fees. Berkeley does not.

Berkeley is losing out on money that is desperately needed to house its ballooning student population. Since 1998, approximately $10 billion dollars have been collected by various school districts throughout California from developer fees, according to a recent report by the Legislative Analyst Office (LAO). In addition to state funding and local bonds, the LAO calls developer fees one of the three legs holding up the stool of school construction funding. Without these fees and with state funding drying up, we are teetering on a one-legged stool in Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Berkeley School Board must take action on sexual harassment

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In Berkeley, a topic of concern is “disproportionality,” the discrepancy between how often students of color are disciplined compared to their population. One of the greatest deterrents to the school-to-prison pipeline is prevention. Education, training, and a culture of respect lead to a safer school environment, which in turn leads to fewer incidents. Stronger, safer policies coupled with a consistent response to bullying and harassment of any kind, lead to fewer suspensions.

Years ago, the federal government decided that every school district needed a Title IX Coordinator to handle complaints about discrimination (which includes bullying and harassment). School districts that receive federal funding must be in compliance with Title IX. Shockingly, and despite the BUSD’s latest PR campaign touting its achievements, the district continues to be out of compliance with the most basic federal requirements, thus creating a precarious situation for our students, where job #1 should be ensuring their safety. … Continue reading »

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Schools

Berkeley School Board primer: Restorative justice for BHS, news on new BSEP tax, LCAP goals, council move

The Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight, Sept. 30. On the consent calendar: a contract to hire a restorative justice consultant to work with Berkeley High’s most at-risk students.

Two discussion items will focus on the local tax known as the Berkeley Schools Excellence Program, which is set to come before voters for an update in November 2016. Also up for discussion, the district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan, and the plan’s goals. The board is also set to discuss again the Berkeley City Council’s request to use the board’s meeting room to get out of its own seismically unsafe quarters.

The board is slated to receive an informational update on its facilities plan, too.  … Continue reading »

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Schools

Berkeley Technology Academy starts semester with record low enrollment

BTA Principal Sheila Quintana. Image: BUSD
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Berkeley Technology Academy, the city’s alternative high school, was set to begin the year with record low enrollment, Principal Sheila Quintana told the School Board in late August.

Quintana gave the board an update on the school’s efforts at its Aug. 26 meeting, detailing recent successes and challenges since she was hired in 2011.

Quintana has worked to revamp BTA’s record keeping and data collection, upgrade campus infrastructure, and win accreditation for its coursework so the BTA diploma carries more clout for graduates. Graduation rates, too, have risen in recent years.

“There’s been considerable progress,” Superintendent Donald Evans told the board.

Quintana reported to the board in August, however, that only 50 students had enrolled in her program, compared to an average of 86 in prior years.

“I have a whole staff, but I only have 50 students,” she told the board. “There’s a lot of reasons why, but I know certain articles that hit the news, parents are kind of upset about that.” … Continue reading »

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Vandalism, crime cause problems at Allston Way Garage

The Allston Way Garage has reported an uptick in students loitering, graffiting, and engaging in sexual activity in the garage area. Photo: Franchesca Paris.
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When lunchtime at Berkeley High rolls around at 11:38 a.m., the gate on the Allston side of the Allston Way Garage comes down. Security guards stand sentry. The gate is not pushed back up until the lunch hour is over at 12:18 p.m.

Even though the closed gate is an inconvenience for potential parkers, the owners of the garage have resorted to such extreme measures because the garage has been trashed by students in the past.

In the spring, groups of high-school students loitered in the garage, painted graffiti, gambled with “large wads of cash,” smoked marijuana in the stairwells, and engaged in sexual activity with other students and occasionally prostitutes, according to Heather Scott, property manager at the Allston Way Garage. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley schools on alert after 2 abduction attempts

Willard Middle School
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Berkeley schools, and the local school community, are on alert after reports of two separate attempted abductions Friday morning as students made their way to classes at Willard Middle School on 2425 Stuart St.

This morning, just before school, two BUSD students were approached by a male individual in a dark green minivan near the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Oregon Street, very close to the school, according to Pasquale Scuderi, BUSD Deputy Superintendent. Scuderi sent an email to the school community at around 12:20 p.m. today.

The man tried to convince the two students to get into his van. The students refused, and continued walking, according to Berkeley police. The man then pulled up to them and once again told them to get into the van. The students declined and then made their way to the Willard Middle School campus, and notified staff who in turn called the Berkeley Police, according to Scuderi. … Continue reading »

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BHS Stop Harassing takes campaign to Berkeley council

BHS Stop Harassing has been working to raise awareness about sexual harassment and other types of discrimination at Berkeley High over the past year. Photo: BHS Stop Harassing
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Advocates working to raise awareness about sexual harassment faced by Berkeley Unified students asked the Berkeley City Council for its support Tuesday night, saying the school district has not done enough to respond to ongoing problems faced by students, or comply with mandatory rules.

City officials said they were sympathetic to the group but could not take a position until the Board of Education has a chance to respond. Officials asked city staff to bring the matter to the School Board’s attention, and said they would consider revisiting the topic down the line.

On the Sept. 15 agenda was a resolution submitted to council by the city’s Peace & Justice Commission, which voted earlier this year to send the resolution to council and the board. The resolution was in support of the BHS Stop Harassing group’s work, and outlined the problem as described by the group.

According to the commission’s report, the Berkeley Unified School District did not adequately address the sexual harassment of a student by a school administrator in 2010, when allegations arose related to inappropriate touching and suggestive remarks made to a student by a BHS counselor.

In that case, the district settled in 2011-12 with the impacted family and agreed, among other remedies, to improve the language in the BUSD handbook related to sexual harassment, create an advisory committee to tackle the policy issue, and improve training for parents related to the subject. … Continue reading »

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