Oakland high schools to close campuses at lunch

image courtesy of the Oakland school district

In the next four years, fewer and fewer Oakland high school students will be permitted to escape school grounds at lunchtime, according to a plan that will be presented at Wednesday night’s school board meeting. (See full agenda here.)

Skyline, Life Academy, International, Youth Empowerment, Dewey, Far West And Bunche already have closed campuses. Next year, under the phase-in plan, ninth-graders at the Oakland Tech, McClymonds, Castlemont, Fremont and Oakland High campuses would also have to bring their lunches or enjoy the cafeteria fare.

The idea is to cut down on afternoon truancy (kids going out to lunch and deciding not to come back) and to improve student safety. Think it will work?

I wonder how consistently the new rules will be enforced during the years when some students are allowed to leave and others aren’t.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Jim Mordecai

    Here are the two Board documents regarding closed campus:

    BP 5112.5
    The Governing Board establishes a closed campus at all district schools, however students who meet eligibility requirements may use lunch passes to leave campus during the lunch hour. The Board views this program as a way to improve and reward student academic achievement and attendance. Eligibility requirements are based upon academic performance and attendance standards. The open campus privilege may be revoked for students who do not meet the eligibility standards. The privilege of open campus may be revoked from individual students for disciplinary reasons.
    AR 5112.5
    Open/Closed Campus
    At the beginning of the school year, the Superintendent or designee shall notify parents/guardians about the open/closed campus policy as required by law. (Education Code 44808.5)
    (cf. 5145.6 – Parental Notifications)
    The district, Governing Board members and district employees shall not be liable for the conduct and safety of students who leave school grounds during the lunch period. (Education Code 44808.5)
    The principal of each high school shall be responsible for the annual preparation, implementation, and evaluation of the school’s open campus program. Elementary and middle school principals may not grant this privilege to their students.
    High school students shall not leave the school grounds at any other time during the school day, including the lunch hour, without written permission of their parents/guardians and school authorities
    The principal of each high school may revoke the open campus privilege, during lunch hour, granted to any or all students at any time. The principal shall submit a report to the Superintendent or designee indicating the nature and scope of the problem and a procedure for reviewing and resolving the problem.
    The Superintendent shall notify the Board of any high school campus totally closed.


    Decision of an open or closed campus is up to principal according to the Board’s administrative regulation whereas the first document is a policy statement that all campuses are closed but principals can provide permission for students. Sort of a incentive program the privilege to leave campus.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nextset

    OUSD probably should have closed campuses with exceptions granted on individual cases if a family has a special need for their children to leave during the day.

    I went to high school with open campus. There may have been a wreck or two getting back to school on time. But most of the car wrecks were after class. A carload of girls managed to roll a Pinto on a perfectly flat intersection once. We never did figure that out.

    I think the parents and school staff have too many security issues with the students nowadays going out for lunch and breaks. Metal detectors won’t catch the drugs and currency – it that’s the issue – even if they are really expected to stop all the weapons. Just too many problems nowadays for open campuses?

  • cranky teacher

    The problems are usually for the neighborhood, which has mixed interests in the matter: Many small business like the foot traffic which buys a lot of Doritos, but residential neighbors hate the trash and shenanigans the students bring.

    Closed vs. open has a long saga at Berkeley High.

    Frankly, I’m amazed Oakland has open campuses. I guess those flatland schools are not located in neighborhoods which are overly sensitive to large groups of “saggin'” teens marching around.

    Schools have also shrunk lunchtime to increasingly absurd times. Didn’t they used to call it the lunch HOUR? Now it averages about 30 minutes.

  • Nextset

    I hadn’t thought of the problems being created by teens dressing so badly they run the neighborhood down. So we have to keep them indoors until they learn how to carry themselves in public. If they ever do.

    I just wish the schools could bring in people to read the teens the riot act about their tribal dress issues. Maybe cultural anthropologists from UC Berkeley. If they dressed differently they might be treated better.

    The we could work on the speech issues too.

    OUSD has a huge task to do. The sooner they start, the sooner the kids can move forward in society.

  • Sue

    Now *that* was funny, Nextset!

    Sounds just like my parents talking about the way my/our generation dressed in the 70’s. Probably sounds a whole lot like my grandparents talking about their children’s clothing in the 50’s, too.

    Some things just don’t change.

  • Nextset

    Sue: They don’t change. Each generation can push the buttons on the earlier.

    The important thing is that they are taught to do it conciously – so that they don’t inadvertently throw away opportunities that flow to those better raised. The kids we speak of are not trained enough in social skills to realize what they are doing out in public, and the silent price they pay for their indifference.

    I can see it when some interns are given dead end assignments and others are given career breakthroughs. I have on occasion told an intern that if they come around here dressed to move boxes we have boxes for them to move – and that’s all they will do till they quit.

    Usually I don’t bother to waste my breath – you can’t fix most of these people and we really aren’t running a finishing school around here. The disparity in treatment is so stark those who aren’t with it get the message and leave quick enough. And I’ve seen this dance go on for over 3 decades.

    High School should require “work” clothes. And if they want to dress like coolie labor they should be in a program for such.

  • Sue

    Hey, you’re “preaching to the choir” – parent of a kid with autism. Teaching appropriate behavior and social skills to any kid on the spectrum is like trying to carry water in a seive.

    That’s why I’m laughing.

  • Teri Gruenwald

    I think it’s a great idea if they also work on creating lunch time activities and clubs for kids. The high school in the district where I teach closed their campus more than a decade ago or(even longer than that). There are lunchtime activities, clubs, and programs for the kids. It creates a stronger identification with the school, I think. Of course, there will always be those kids who don’t do anything at lunch but complain about wanting to leave, but in general, safety, drug use, and truancy issues aside, it could provide a more meaningful way for the students to connect with the school and each other if done thoughtfully.

  • Parent and Public School Servant!

    I believe the issue was OUSD changing the open campus policy to closed campus during lunch! I am one of those as referred by a previous blogger who used to be a former student of one of the biggest high schools in Oakland and can proudly say that I work for OUSD at the currently top rated high school in the city. As in working with youth not THOSE PEOPLE or THEY! the youth of today are struggling through much bigger obstacles and circumstances just to survive! compared to generations of the past. Granted that there are high school students in OUSD that are not focused and need lot’s of support and guidance. But there are huge success out there too! We need to recognize people! and acknowledge and praise and support our youth that are making it and going very far in continuing their education and becoming professionals end even becoming educators and plan on giving back to their own community! as we need to be aware in the very near future our youth will be leading this country! and may I also add that the public school system is not a babysitting service and such. Morals, guidance, leadership all begins at home with us the PARENT! We are the ones that need to be schooled or help those parents that are in need of our support in parenting skills! How many of you out there contribute positively in MAKING A DIFFERENCE! I don’t see very many adults knocking down our school door to come in and volunteer! by mentoring a youth, tutor, assist in the after-school programs or by coming to engage with our youth in workshops or forums on professional careers or in higher education. Or do you just go home at night to your well manicured neighborhoods and just sigh and complain about THOSE PEOPLE!

  • John

    Say! Maybe the City Council imposed trash tax on city businesses can be revisited with so many Oakland sidewalk trash rats under lock & key during feeding time!

    But wait! Some Oakland eatery & junk food businesses will lose lunch time revenue. Consequently, the city council is likely to reduce their (sidewalk) trash tax burden to help cover losses? Just kidding!

  • Don’tknowwhatyourtalkingabout

    Yo!Nexset! High school students should not have to wear “work” clothes For the simple fact that if they do wear “work” clothes then how are they going to be able to express their individuality! Their just kids!
    Plus clothing has nothing to do with closed campus or open campus….stay on topic!

  • Nextset

    Students don’t get to express their “individuality” if they are in a real school. They do if they are in a underclass indoctrination center though.

    A real school is all about getting the students ready for military, industry, or higher education. The other schools are Romper Room. “Individuality” is fine for Art School. If you want to fit in to something more important in life – and have the income, autonomy and flexibility that goes along with it – you have to learn the socialization required. That doesn’t include “individuality” as practiced in the Ghetto (sagging pants, immodest dress, loud talking – all that individuality…)

    By very carefully not teaching minorities these things in the few years they have to learn we make sure that they never rise in society. It’s called giving them enough rope to hang themselves with. Or just sugar coated poison.

    Our urban public schools do this well. They produce “graduates” people usually don’t want to hire – for much of anything. And that’s just the way we seem to like it, Teaching Indiscipline.

    Meanwhile the people that count go to schools where they very quickly learn what’s required of them to rise in society. Private Schools, Piedmont Unified, Catholic Schools, that kind of thing.

    To each his own. Just remember while you are enjoying your “individuality” – you were never intended to make it in this economy. Your parents didn’t mean business and neither do your “schools”. You can tell by how much effort they put into you. Anybody can let a child do whatever he wants.