Part of the Bay Area News Group

Crisis averted, again

By Katy Murphy
Friday, December 5th, 2008 at 4:40 pm in crime, investigations, middle schools, safety, students.

It’s a good thing that a case manager at Oakland Community Day School took seriously a 14-year-old student’s threats to her life and others yesterday. Shortly thereafter, police went to the student’s house and found seven loaded weapons in an unlocked cabinet near his bedroom. Seven! The boy was arrested.

Here’s a letter that Community Day School Principal Sam Pasarow sent to families, assuring them of the safety of their children and giving credit to staff for responding quickly (Like most of the alternative schools, Community Day does have an extensive search process, but still).

But that wasn’t the only weapons-related incident to shake Oakland schools yesterday. Another 14-year-old boy, who had been expelled from Madison Middle School, showed up to the campus and pointed a fake gun at two kids participating in an after-school program. The kids, of course, thought it was a real firearm.

The 14-year-old was arrested yesterday evening. But during the next two weeks, while the school undergoes a security review, the sports programs will move inside.

Madison’s principal, Lucinda Taylor, also wrote a letter to families about the incident. You can read it here. At one point, Taylor echoes a sentiment voiced by Cole Middle School Principal Ivory Brooks after a pistol (brought to school by a 13-year-old) discharged in class: that the easy accessibility of weapons and the embrace of violence are broad, societal issues, rather than a reflection on the school.

Taylor writes:

We don’t view this incident as a reflection of Madison and the close-knit, academic-oriented atmosphere we have developed. We recognize that the issue of violence is not simply a Madison problem, but a wider social problem and we welcome the full input of the Madison community in grappling with this issue.

It’s hard to argue with that. Still, knowing that schools operate in a violent context, there must be some steps that can be taken in Oakland to better protect kids. What are they? And how do you implement safety measures without making schools look or feel like prisons?

Read the full story here.

above photo from Robert Nelson’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons

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  • Nextset

    People have to understand that bad parents and bad family have absolutely no problem providing weapons, drugs and other dangerous instrumentalities to children they know are acutely disturbed. And when things hit the fan, they will look right through you as if there is no reason to blame them for anything. I have first hand experience with families refusing to secure guns with a suicidal adolescent living in the home.

    One can say this is evolution in action.

    The same process is at work when families, friends and roommates have weapons around their parolee and convicted felon relatives and friends, and don’t ever get it when their homie goes down on a 3rd strike for felon hatching a gun or ammo – as if there is no problem if the gun’s pink slip doesn’t have homie’s name on it (it was around him, he’s guilty of constructive possession).

    Some people you just can’t fix. What you can do is keep your kids out of their houses completely and otherwise stay away from from these nutty and irresponsible people. As far as the schools go, you do the best you can to identify these screwed up irresponsible families and provide the surveilance and supervision of the kids that you can. And that’s all you can do. Teachers are NOT miracle workers, they’re just people with a 4 year degree and experience.

    I am in favor of gun training – just like driver’s training – for all suitable kids. How much is a management function. But like STD/Herpes/Pregnancy Control, the kids really need to be told what things to look out for and what to do in different circumstances.

  • Jesse Dutton-Kenny

    Wow, I live about 100 feet from Community Day School, maybe a letter should be sent to neighbors too…