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Busted: Three custodians with stolen property

Three janitors suspected of stealing computers and other electronic equipment from Oakland schools have been arrested on suspicion of possessing stolen property.

Police arrested the first employee Saturday, and the other two today, during an investigation of two burglaries that occurred last week – one Sept. 2 at the district’s human resources department, and the other Sept. 3 at Webster Academy in East Oakland, in which 22 brand new computers were swiped.

District spokesman Troy Flint said he could not release the names of the arrested employees because the district didn’t want to appear that they were holding the suspects up for public humiliation. While that rationale strikes me as odd — it is a matter of public record, after all — what can I do? It’s contract negotiation season. (Our police reporter is working on it…)

Flint said investigators found a large amount of stolen property – computers, VCRs, DVDs, among other electronics – in the suspects’ possession and believe that “it might be part of a larger pattern of theft.”

Note: None of the evidence recovered so far has directly linked the custodians to the Sept. 2 break-in of the district’s human resources department, according to Flint and OUSD Police Chief Art Michel.

If the custodians are convicted of theft, Flint said, “It would be extremely disturbing to learn that employees of this school district were stealing from Oakland Unified and, more importantly, from the children whose lives we’re charged with improving.”

But, he added, “We recognize that the vast majority of our staff are hard-working, law-abiding people. We don’t want the entire staff painted with this brush.”

Teachers: Hopefully this means that some of your missing equipment will start to resurface…

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Nextset

    Inside theft is a daily occurrence where you have negligent hiring. The first standard for employment – other than closely supervised manual labor – is fidelity. To screen for fidelity you hire only those who have acceptable criminal and civil court records – and then some.

    Because public agencies don’t have to be run for “profit” – or any other rational basis, they often refuse to screen hires or deliberately use weak screens that won’t actually keep out dishonest people. This is especially true when hiring is based on race.

    You don’t even let interns and volunteers set foot in your place without professional backgrounding if you have anything at all to lose. Like a office full of computers and the data they contain – or files full of identity information. Likewise when you have any information that a staffer is a dishonest person you fire them. Honesty on the job and off is a requisite to continued employment in any decent place. (As opposed to a shifty place of work.)

    What’s interesting about this is that a single old incident – a youthful indiscretion – doesn’t always disqualify. In my experience a dishonest person usually has a pattern of behavior – irresponsibility and deceitfullness. Even the younger ones. With the advent of computerization they cannot escape their past when someone is looking for it.

    Another note, I see people kept from being hired by records of restraining orders they took out and lawsuits they filed… Some of these litigation happy people publicly reveal too much of themselves when they pursue their former friends. You try and warn people but they still do it regardless of the future consequences.

    It’s only a matter of time before all this information is placed on the Internet.

  • John

    Oakland’s Mayor Dellums was keen to hire felon’s fresh out of prison. Could one or several of these ‘innocent until proven guilty’ Oakland School District employees be the result of a (hush hush) city/school district cooperative hiring practice?

    If convicted at least they’ll be Dellums qualified for city hire.

  • Nextset

    Dellums is typical of Afro-Leninists across the USA who reek of corruption the minute they get their hands on any executive power. The strange thing is that you would expect that they are smart enough to deliver what the voters want and stay in power – but they don’t. It’s more important to them to infiltrate their offices with liars cheats and thieves – all the while claiming that these people won’t do it again.

    The disgrace of the City Manager is just a taste of what will come when everything is exposed. Such an administration in a large Urban School District is a disaster also. Yes there were problems with the likes of Huey Long and others but they stayed in power by making most of the people happy most of the time. What do you think Huey Long and Earl Long would have done if anyone started doing takeover robberies of Restaurants in New Orleans and Baton Rouge?

    This problem isn’t so much a school problem as it is an organizational behavior problem. Large organizations have this kind of thing happening when they don’t have a moral foundation and get too drunk on the “everybody is the same” philosophy.

    On the other hand it’s the public schools not the private ones that have the requirement of a 4 year college degree for 3rd grade teacher… and they have to pass the CBEST also.

  • oakie

    No surprise. Once again, the district proves how incompetent it is. It has long been know that the janitor’s union is one of those strong entrenched power centers preventing the district from actually putting the student’s first. I once had the school board president tell me that he was informed by the janitor’s unit that if he messed with them, they would have a race riot on their hands.

    Watch the soap opera in Washington DC if you want to see one solution to our milieu.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/07/AR2008090702488.html

  • TheTruthHurts

    Nextstet,

    You clearly don’t know people hired by OUSD and the criminal background checks they must undergo. No doubt, hiring, training and supervision could improve, but we should at least get our facts straight.

  • John

    TheTruthHurts: Oh ye of little faith! I say unto thee, when Oakland city and school forces join forces no barrier is too big or criminal background check too negative to thwart the cause of “social justice.”

  • Sue

    So, I just have to ask…

    Somehow, city politics and the Oakland mayor keep getting mentioned. I wasn’t aware that they had any significant control or even influence over OUSD hiring. Am I mistaken? Or are these just off-topic ramblings about the commentors’ personal fixations?

    I’m disappointed by these janitors’ actions, but unfortunately not surprised. I’ve met a couple of good ones who obviously cared for the kids they were cleaning up after (at Munck and Montera), but had more encounters with the not-so-good.

  • Nextset

    Sue: The reason the Oakland Mayor is mentioned in context with the OUSD is that they are the same problems – with the same behaviors. Jerry Brown involved himself in school issues previously also. In fact, the same electorate placed all these people into power – perhaps being attracted to the same political philosophy. I take no pleasure in the moral, financial or organizational bankruptcy of Oakland politics. Oakland once was nice real estate. Not now. Perhaps in the future it will be again but things will have to change. Gentrification I suppose.

    TheTruthHurts: I have often seen the criminal history check used as an excuse and a cover for negligent hiring. It is wholly insufficient to rest a backgound clearance on the absense of criminal convictions and when you want to be able to pack a workforce with lowlifes you go down to that standard. And I believe Dellums wanted to go below that one and hire convicted felons in his organization.

    Negligent Hiring hurts. Badly. People get killed, as well as sexually and physically assaulted and oh yes, I’ve seen cases of 6 figure embezzlements, inside thefts, all the way up to staged armed robberies. One of the most heartbreaking examples was the East Bay Asian Couple who endured a home invasion robbery and murder of the husband and shooting of the wife when gang members were used to do a furniture delivery to their house by a local furniture store. We also have the shining example of the Catholic Church deliberately and knowingly and secretively using fixated pedophiles to work with children.

    I once spent over 10 years on the board of a non-profit and resigned after the hiring of a receptionist with a gang tattoo on her hand as well as a difference of opinion with board members over backgrounding hires and staff. That agency handled money and information of our clients. It became clear to me that over time the board no longer understood what it meant to operate the agency in a safe manner. I don’t take those chances and neither do my own associates. That agency was dissolved years later.

    Like the city the schools deal with stealable property and equipment. Like the church the schools deal with small children. It is no surprise to me that the OUSD dared to try to withold the names of the employees arrested from Katy because I see they have no regard to any duty to the public for security or for public information. They only consider an obligation to themselves. So does the Catholic Church.

    But I’m only one person and I can be off about a lot of things. People can come to their own conclusions.

    Brave New World.

  • Sue

    Okay, I think the answer was: No, city politics and politicians have no control or influence over OUSD hiring. The discussion of city *stuff* is off-topic, but appearing here because the posters are free-associating.

  • Catherine

    I also know Mayor Dellums forced the Park and Recreation Summer Program to hire ex-felon’s – the results in one program in which I am intimately familiar – two employees did not show up for work, consequently they were not paid. They complained and the director of the specific program had to explain to the Mayor’s Office why she either did not clearly explain the importance of showing up for work, didn’t call the delinquent they were late, and didn’t pay them for at least part of the time they did not show up for work.

    In addition the two ex-felons’ had additional criminal behavior in the park they were hired to assist. One was re-arrested for selling drugs, the other for theft and possession of stolen property.

    It is very frustrating when our Mayor uses the childcare community to attempt to rehabilitate habitual criminals. I do not believe that the parents who enrolled their children in these programs know of the backgrounds of the staff.

  • Nextset

    Sue: You have a point about free associating but you don’t realize how tied together these issues are. the same politicians who run the failure factories have their counterparts in City Hall planting criminals throughout city operations, not just in Oakland but in other CA cities. And I’m not talking about minor criminals either, I met a serious sex criminal (not in Oakland in this case) who I interviewed who had been given a municipal job prior to committing new sex assault against yet another stranger victim. This is meaningful because sex offenders who attack strangers are considerably more dangerous than those who attack non-strangers. The hiring authority in that instance wanted to give the person (a minority) “a break” as if his role in hiring was to dispense indulgences. The executive was a nice person – too nice to hold that authority.

    This thread began with a mention that the theft of the OUSD equipment appears to have been an inside job. Yes it has spread from that issue to government in general (and furniture stores, etc.) putting clients at risk by using criminals and the criminally inclined as employees. This is typically done in order to get blacks hired (or asian gangsters in the case of the furniture store) – as if only black criminals are in line for jobs. So yes the thread has moved from scools to employers and organizations in general.

    What is it about large organizations that make them sloppy on safety and security? I can’t say definitively. But there seems to be a tendency to get loosy goosy with security when you are large. Or when the prospect of punishment for making a bad hire is slim to none. And race is but shouldn’t be a goal in hiring. Unless you need an intereter.

    OUSD has enough problems without the hired help running off with the new computers.

    And Oakland has enough problems without the gangs infiltrating the city government with access to all the data the city holds. The Oakland gangs are already acting like they own the town and the Mexican gangs haven’t set up shop here yet – they are on the way being busy consolidating Los Angeles first.

    It would help if the hiring authorities of all public agencies took their jobs seriously and kept out and cleaned out the criminally inclined.

    And yes, I have real problems with elderly relatives being home alone for any service call. I have interviewed some of these service workers in criminal cases… Their employers don’t know and don’t care what these workers are into.

  • Nextset

    typo… from schools to employers… Sorry!

  • http://www.crimcheck.com Background Checks

    Employers can be sued and held liable if they fail to use reasonable care in the employment-selection process. “Reasonable care” is dependent on not just whether the employer knew about the candidate’s proclivities but also whether the employer should have known. In short, failure to screen applicants and to use proper care in hiring can result in legal liability.

  • Catherine

    I wonder if the parents of the Summer Programs knew who would be around their children if they would demand refunds and payment for someone to help them find affordable Summer care with appropriate care-takers?

    I also wonder if the City would be liable for such costs if the statements provided by Background Checks are true.

    Mr. Dellums, any input?

  • John

    Poor old Ron Dellums, city hall isn’t his or Oakland’s best rest home option. As for giving “input,” the focus should be on his receiving compassionate quality input from a friendly elder care worker in protective clothing to guard against drool stains during feeding sessions. Leave that old man alone. He needs his rest! Too unfortunate that he insists doing his napping at city hall, better that he nap in the House (of Representatives).

    Here’s an input suggestion for Mayor Dellums: Try mixing your carrots and fish into your mash potatoes. A care home worker once told me that it’s a favorite where she works!

    It would of course be important that Mr. Dellum’s elder care provider be subjected to an exhaustive background check! We don’t want any food going down the wrong pipe, now do we. Bon Appite!

  • Cranky Teacher

    ON-topic:

    The problem for janitors is one of doing a rather thankless job that provides a LARGE built-in temptation: They, and Asst. Principals, are the ONLY people on campus who have the keys to every room and building. The community has placed enormous trust in them, so they can clean every room after everybody else goes home. They also have hours and hours to scope out what equipment lives where, etc.

    Janitors pose another problem in lack of oversight on janitors if they are doing their jobs: Cleaning. Principals will ocassionally read them the riot act if things get too bad, but this is a feeble check on their actions from 4 to midnight.

    These are not Oakland-specific problems. I taught in a middle-class district that draws residents from China and closer just for the schools where teachers were convinced that janitors watched t.v. all night and were the first suspects in a theft.

    Problem is: Most janitors are probably completely honest and do at least a half-way decent job of cleanign. But lack of oversight, as with teachers, allows all of us to be tarred with the lazy, incompetent or even criminal tags that smear-artists like Nextset specialize in.

  • Nextset

    Cranky: So to you I’m a smear artist? Cute. Personal attacks in public discourse tells one all you need to know about the other.

    But back to the janitors. Honest men are honest all the time. They can walk past boxes of coin and not take one.

    On the other hand, people who are not honest – or who dabble in intoxicating substances – don’t keep their hands out of the coin for long.

    Which is why you don’t hire or retain those personalities if you want your coin left alone.

    Public servants wipe the behinds of the people – literally. They go forth at 4am, in storms and all kinds of weather, in fires and gang gunfire, and rescue and protect the public. Public employees are the heroes in our cities and they do it on a schedule. They are the emergency room staff, the CPS workers, the police and fire staff and they are the teachers teaching students no public school would take. I have tons of admiration for these people and the families they raise. I am just a little more picky than some as to who I’d hire and hand the keys to the city to. And I’d also want the working conditions to be as safe and reasonable and maybe even pleasant as practical.

    Is that so bad?

    Have a real nice day!!

  • John

    Question: What did the just (9/11) arrested former custodian who attacked a principal say when asked why he was wearing a disguise at the time of the attack?

    His answer: “To avoid narcotic dealers in the area who were looking for him.”

    Troy Flint, a district yapper, said: “We’re relieved the suspect was apprehended. Of course, it’s distressing to realize it’s somebody in the OUSD family.”

    What a family! Da ya think Tony Soprano will be Oakland’s the next OUSD “family” Superintendent. Da ya think this custodian will soon join the (other) City family as their newest (felon) family member. Gotta keep em in the Oakland family, right!?

    Oakland! What a town! What a school district!

    Nextset, try not to “smear” this arrested former OUSD custodian – it will only upset Cranky and the crank dealers he was disguising himself to avoid.

  • John

    Here’s the story link for the latest OUSD “family” member arrest:

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_10431462?source=most_viewed

  • Nextset

    Well, you know when you don’t pay your drug dealers you have to expect some adjustments.

    Which is why all druggies – employee and student – shouldn’t be setting foot on OUSD Academic campuses. They bring dangerous drama with them and OUSD isn’t supposed to be Betty Ford Clinic. OUSD should have a special school for the dregs. We can name it after Mr & Mrs Reform.

    Anyway I’m sure there will be lots of immigrants happy to take the sanitation engineer jobs. Perhaps immigrants who are not into drugs.. The benefits of the school job will complement the Subway franchise on the side.

  • cranky teacher

    Why I called you a smear artist, Nextset: You constantly belittle and mock Oakland students, teachers and anybody who works for the city or district, from Ron Dellums on down. Totally dismissive.

    I take those as personal attacks, and clearly many of the students who posted or commented on here do as well.

  • Jose, Former Student

    Craky Teacher,

    I just graduated from Skyline. I enjoy Nextset’s perspectives. How can you label someone a “smear artist” for sharing his perspective on this blog?

    Do you encourage your students to label people who have a different perspective?

    Would we need this blog if we all shared the same view?

    Are you a Cranky teacher on crank?

  • Nextset

    Cranky: Sensitive.. You assume that my comments mock all the Oakland Students, Teachers, and Civil Servants? There is a term for that kind of propaganda tactic. It’s often used to deflect observations and accurate comments. The left uses it to try to silence critics as if we give a fig for what you think.

    My position on civil servants was posted elsewhere. I think they are known. For the most part the civil servants do tough jobs well.

    I am also known as taking the position that people should leave rather than remain in place in an organization that is running into the ground.

    I could try to make inferences about you and your work from your postings – but this blog isn’t about personalities, it’s about politics and policy. You take my apparent disaproval of anyone and anything as you will.

    As for Mayor Dellums and the disgrace he and Edgerly have taken the city government – well, let the restaurant owners weigh in on that. I never did see he and Edgerly, his city manager, showing up at the restaurants when the robbery sprees started to bus tables, greet diners or help out the owners and employers in anyway. That’s unforgivable for a local politician.

    And we won’t even bother with the Bakery Gang and what they did in the city – sex slaves, assasinations and all..

    The duty of a leader is to rally the constituiency and keep the people cohesive. Something Bush has failed to do. Something McCain and Palin are more likely to do. I consider jabs against a leadership, be it OUSD or Oakland, fair game. I don’t pick on OUSD as much as comment on why their scores and products are bad.

    I irritate you. Good. Tell us more of your view of why OUSD has it all together. Tell us something good. You do work there. What do I know anyway? I may be wrong about all kinds of things. Or I may be right on the money. The policy you espouse harms kids, especially black kids.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Jose: I outlined why I called him a smear artist. He has had several rude interactions with students in particular. Go back and look at the conversations about the boy who was tasered. He repeatedly describes OUSD students as a bunch of spoiled thugs who need military discipline. We all know there are some troubled kids in this district and discipline is fine, but there are THOUSANDS of good kids who come to school every day and work hard even though they wake up in the morning in violent, dirty neighborhoods.

    Now you imply that I am on hard drugs. So I don’t even have to explain why I think of you as a “smear artist.”

  • Cranky Teacher

    Nextset, you are so full of it.

    What “policy” have I espoused which “harms kids, especially black kids”? WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?! You are making serious accusations here.

    Or are you saying that simply because I haven’t ditched OUSD, I am part of the problem? We should all quit so they wake up? Interesting theory.

    And when did I claim your criticisms of Dellums were smears? Criticize politicians all you want — they can take it. I get mad when you broadly savage teachers as harmful idiots and teenagers as wild infants.

    Finally, explain how and where I say ANYTHING in the way of claiming “OUSD has it all together”? That would be an INSANE statement and no teacher in Oakland would ever say that. Implying that I believe that is a slander, since you know damn well I never said any such thing.

    You are the ultimate straw man, red herring debater. Your only goal seems to get a rise out of people. Well, mission accomplished.

  • John

    Cranky, I find it interesting that you interpret some of what’s shared in this forum to be a “personal attack,” “shouting” or “smearing” and label some of the contributors as “very angry folks trying to shift the whole debate in one direction.”

    I’m glad you’re not Katy or this forum would be largely dedicated to reading lyrics from the the ‘Oakland teacher solidarity choir.’

    Here’s a Web Site advertising it will soon feature a ‘members only’ forum [ http://oaklandea.com/news/ ]. I believe you’ll find a lot of happiness there. In fact I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it inspired you to change your (screen?) name from ‘Cranky’ to ‘Happy.’

    Some people just aren’t cut out to consider or tolerate opposing points of view without taking personal offense. It’s nothing to be ashamed of Cranky. Make the transition to a forum with more homogeneous thinking thoughtful people less inclined to write things that cause you upset or “shift the debate (?)” away from how you define it.

    Have a nice day and a good nights rest.

  • Nextset

    Cranky: If this gets a “rise” out of you – you should reconsider your position. If you have problems with emotional control, you should reconsider your occupation also.

    You are a public school teacher. You are required to maintain composure under such minor discourse as we have here. We are adults in political discourse – that is we speak of policy. It shouldn’t get to you like this. You know when you debate policy there will be principled disagreements. You can’t expect agreement here. The emotional level of your words are unusual for this forum. They are not unusual for a conversation with a liberal. You can’t maintain emotional balance in the face of disagreement. No surprise for a public high school teacher nowadays – or even a public college instructor. To disagree with popular dogma is heresy and you react like the clerics of Bloody Mary.

    You can’t get away with this with me or with any adults in a free society. We’re not your captive students who you can fail for disagreeing with your politically.

    Deal with it.