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No one injured at after-school fight at Tech

It sounded intense from the police scanner, but Oakland Police Sgt. Jack Peterson described an after-school scuffle this afternoon at Oakland Technical High School as “a whole lot of nothing.”

The fight happened as the students were leaving school. There was just one security officer on duty, and so he called for help, said Peterson, who supervises OPD’s schools unit. Three police officers were at the scene.

Peterson said no one was hurt, and no one was arrested.

Troy Flint, a district spokesman, said the conflict was between two girls, and that a large crowd gathered to watch and take photographs.  He said no one else became involved.

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Catholic schools adopt fingerprinting policy, too

diocese.gifOakland’s public school (would-be) volunteers aren’t the only ones being asked to dip their thumbs into ink for criminal background checks.

The Catholic Voice, a publication of the Diocese of Oakland, reported this week that volunteers in the Catholic schools and parishes will soon have to do so as well.

Nancy Libby, coordinator of the diocesan Safe Environment Project, told the Voice that it’s not enough to screen volunteers who work with children against the Megan’s Law registered sex offender database:

Libby said the diocese wants to ensure that volunteers — just like employees — are “the type of people who Continue Reading

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`Hate on the Internet’ to be discussed tonight at local middle school

cellphone.jpgTonight (sorry for the late notice) at Piedmont Middle School, hate speech expert Brian Marcus will address a difficult issue: cyberbullying.

The event is co-sponsored by the Piedmont school district and the Anti-Defamation League. It’s from 7:30-9 p.m. at 740 Magnolia Ave., in Piedmont. It’s open to the public.

(photo by Nate Steiner, from Flickr.com

I haven’t delved so much into “cyberbullying” since I started covering the education beat. Maybe I was put off by the frenzy over MySpace and the horror stories about children’s lives being upended by predators or mean classmates. Kids can be mean, and they have always had the capacity to make their peers miserable, so I didn’t want to act like this is all some new development. Continue Reading

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Jordan urges state schools supe to let Oakland choose its own superintendent

sjordan2.jpgBelow is a strongly worded letter from Alameda County schools superintendent Sheila Jordan to state superintendent Jack O’Connell. In the letter, Jordan says she has “urgent concerns” about the appointment of a new state administrator in Oakland.

Jordan supported the state takeover of OUSD in 2003, but she told me today that  ”it’s more than time” for the school board to choose its own superintendent. In her proposal to O’Connell (which he rejected, she said) she recommended that a fiscal advisor oversee the district’s finances.

Jordan also writes that her office urged the state to disapprove OUSD’s 2007-08 budget, which projects a large budget.  The letter was sent to the governor, the Oakland mayor and other major political players, late last month. Continue Reading

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Time is running out for guv to sign AB45

As of this posting, the governor had exactly five days, 12 hours and one minute to sign or veto the bill that would gradually restore governing powers to the board of the state-run Oakland school district.

I hear from our Sacramento reporter, Steve Geissinger, that Schwarzenegger has dozens of other bills on his desk, and that he may well take action on a whole bunch of them at once without issuing an explanation.

Or, the governor could decide to not take action, in which case the bill would automatically become law.

Tomorrow, it will be a month since AB45 cleared the legislative branch after an intense party-line debate in the Assembly.

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Interim CFO to drop the “interim” from his title

lglaster.jpgLeon Glaster, who came out of retirement this summer to replace Javetta Robinson  – originally, on a temporary basis – will be on board for another two years if his contract is approved Wednesday night.

Glaster’s contract is posted at the bottom of the school board agenda. Including an annuity and a mileage and cell phone stipend, he would bring in about $182,600 per year. That figure doesn’t include the district’s health insurance contributions.

According to the contract, Glaster is charged with getting the school district a triple-A bond rating by Continue Reading

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OUSD releases list of schools facing interventions

As promised, here is the central office report with schools identified as struggling with enrollment – and possible interventions. Attendance boundary shifts, extra support, mergers, new school “incubations” and closures are all on the table.

The schools on the low enrollment list are:

EXCEL, Burckhalter, Martin Luther King Jr., Howard and Lafayette

The schools on the enrollment and academic list are:

BEST, Youth Empowerment School, Sankofa, Explore College Prep, Peralta Creek

The report will be presented to the school board on Wednesday. According to the timeline, central office administrators will have met with each school’s staff and families by mid-week, but I just spoke to one principal who said she hadn’t heard about it.

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List of (too) small schools comes out on Monday

Remember the color-coded tiers of schools tagged for intervention or possible closure last year?

They’re back. On Monday, OUSD releases a list of 10 schools with low enrollment (and, in some cases, low test scores). District administrators would not release the names today without its accompanying report, which is apparently still being tweaked.

But here’s what I know:

Howard Elementary, in the East Oakland hills, had a community meeting with district officials this week. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary, in West Oakland, has one next week.  

At these meetings, central office officials, school staff and parents discuss the various options: attendance boundary shifts, increased support from the central office, restructuring and closure.

District spokesman Troy Flint said the final decisions should be made by the end of December — about two months earlier than the last time around.

“The only schools that are subject to potential closure, if it comes to that, are the ones with low enrollment,” he said today. Continue Reading

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Teachers: Got the travel bug? In just 38 weeks, you could be in Peru … or Zimbabwe

megan-jensen-robert-feldstein2.jpgIf you’ve taught for at least three years and have the itch to experience life in another country (and don’t need to wait tables over the summer to make ends meet), you might be in luck.

Fund for Teachers is now accepting applications for a summer travel fellowship.

This past summer, Fund for Teachers and the Marcus A. Foster Educational Institute paid for 17 Oakland teachers to travel to Panama, Ecuador, Zimbabwe and other countries to study everything from archaeology and ecology to language and music.

Megan Jensen and Robert Feldstein (pictured above – Robert’s the one in yellow), science teachers at Lighthouse Community Charter School, went to the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador to study ecosystems and preservation efforts.

Teachers from ASCEND, Bret Harte, Glenview, Continue Reading