Parents to march to school board meeting, petition for recall of 5 board members

on December 14, 2011

Five Oakland school board members will be receiving more than season’s greetings from frustrated parents today. They’re getting news that a recall campaign has been launched against them for voting to close five Oakland elementary schools in late October.

In a statement released this morning by members of the Concerned Parents and Community Coalition (CPACC), the group said they will be presenting presenting hundreds of signatures as part of a “intent to recall” petition against the board members who voted to close Lakeview, Lazear, Marshall, Maxwell Park and Santa Fe elementary schools. The closing of these schools is expected to save the OUSD $2 million, according to a report from the district.

“We’re sending a clear message that this board has failed at reflecting the wants and needs of parents and the community,” said CPACC spokesperson Joel Velasquez, a Lakeview Elementary parent. “We’re asking that school closure not be the first resort to solve the budget issues. It should be the last.”

Velasquez said that the school board failed to engage parents in discussion involving the school closures and instead blindsided them with the news earlier this year. “This is not a good time for this to be happening,” said Velasquez. “Our rights as parents have been taken away from us. We were never included on any discussions, there was never any task force, or meetings.”

The CPACC’s recall petition targets OUSD board members Jody London, David Kakishiba, Jumoke Hinton Hodge, Gary Yee and Christopher Dobbins, who voted in favor of closing the schools at the October 26 board meeting at Oakland Tech High School. Board members Alice Spearman and Noel Gallo voted against the measure. Gallo represents a districts that house three of the five schools in question: ASCEND, Learning Without Limits, and Lazear elementary schools.

“We understand the frustration and the anger that has accompany school closures,” said OUSD Spokesman Troy Flint in response to the announcement of the recall effort. “The directors did not want to close any schools, but making tough and sometimes unpopular decisions that may have personal consequences is a hallmark of leadership.”

The closures are part of the Oakland Unified School District’s plan to close a currently undetermined number of school. Previous estimates place that number between 20 to 30.  “We know that there will be more closures, but the final number is still being determined,” said Flint. “The district made a decision that reflects the hard reality of our situation specifically and the predicaments faced by public education in California generally.

The OUSD board considered several factors when deciding which schools to close, including enrollment numbers, facility capacity, the number of students who live in the neighborhood, the financial state of the school, and its academic performance.

The CPACC and others opposing the school closures will be marching from Laney College at 4 pm Wednesday to OUSD headquarters this afternoon before presenting their recall petitions to board members at today’s meeting. Each of the board members facing recall are expected to be present.

The school district is currently in the process of restructuring school attendance boundary areas for families who live near the schools slated for closure, since the schools will be closing after the 2011-2012 school year.

3 Comments

  1. Anthony Moore on December 14, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Recall Dr. Yee ? REALLY ?!? Dr. Yee is probably the most level-headed, passionate and pragmatic person in the whole bunch.



  2. P Schmidt on December 14, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Our son will be going to kindergarden next year. Enrollment has started and we will to make decisions soon based on the area we live in ( we live close to one of the schools due for closing). When will the new school attendance boundary areas be settled?



  3. Nick H on December 15, 2011 at 10:02 am

    I can understand a parent’s anger and frustration at having their kid’s school closed. It’s a really sad event. The problem is that Oakland has had declining enrollment for over a decade (we’ve lost 1/3 of our students since 2000) but has kept the same number –if not increased– the number of schools. For instance, we have about the same number of kids enrolled as San Jose but double the schools. All that duplication in admin and facilities costs is not justifiable and is bringing down the quality of education for the district as a whole, not to mention causing chronic budget deficits. School board members HAVE to think about the system as a whole. Recall sends the wrong message that board members should focus on parochial interests even though the system as a whole is sinking.



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