School board reacts to immigration incident at school

The week before winter vacation, families and staff at Melrose Bridges Academy were stunned to learn that U.S. immigration officials had followed a mother into the East Oakland school and detained her for questioning.

The scene unfolded in front of the woman’s 6-year-old daughter.

In response to the incident, school board member Noel Gallo has proposed a resolution in support of immigrant students, regardless of their immigrant status. It’s on the agenda of Wednesday night’s meeting.

The resolution seems largely symbolic (as most resolutions are). Practically speaking, I’m not sure what impact the resolution will have on the way U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does business — other than that it calls for staff to forward all requests for information to the district’s legal department. But OUSD spokesman, Troy Flint, said he believes this to be the first written policy that addresses the issue. 

How do you think schools should handle such situations, when they find themselves stuck in the middle?


Who gets a seat in Oakland’s most sought-after schools?

schoolroom2.jpgHappy New Year! I’m back from the two-state family holiday tour, trying to catch up on what I missed while I was away. Please fill me in.

In my haste to finish up my work before leaving town, I didn’t have time to post an entry about the postponed school board decision on the proposed boundary changes at Hillcrest, Montclair and Chabot schools — or about the fact that board members promised to take a serious look at the district’s enrollment policies for the 2009-10 school year.

Right now, under Oakland’s School Options program, neighborhood children with older siblings at the local school have top priority, followed by other neighborhood kids; those who live outside of the local attendance zone whose older siblings attend the school; those who live near low-performing schools; and then everyone else, by lottery.

But as neighborhood demand increases for the city’s highest-performing schools — many of which are located in affluent areas — it is becoming increasingly difficult for families to opt into one of those schools unless they can afford a home inside its attendance boundaries.

What changes, if any, do you think the board should consider as they re-examine OUSD’s enrollment policies? Should neighborhood children always have top priority, or is the school system ethically (and legally) responsible for reserving spots for children who live near low-performing schools?

Here is the board resolution that school board member Kerry Hamill read at the last board meeting: Continue Reading