Epilogue to the Skyline prank story

Some new intelligence has surfaced in the whole senior prank/commencement punishment flap at Oakland’s Skyline High School.

The Skyline staff member who allegedly conspired with the flour-and-water pranksters? Well, that same person allegedly (somehow) had a hand in Friday’s lunchtime car display as well, district spokesman Troy Flint said.

I’ll bet you can guess the conclusion: The lunchtime drivers will be able to walk the stage at tomorrow night’s commencement ceremony, after all. Flint said the school administration wanted to apply the same standard to everyone.

I couldn’t make this stuff up.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Nextset

    All’s Well that Ends Well!

  • http://www.skylinehs.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=77763&type=u&rn=6808095 David Orphal

    I am disheartened and disgusted by these developments.

    Would we tell the same excuse had a child actually been stuck by one of the cars racing across campus??? “Gee, officer, I understand that this 18 year-old was behind the wheel, making the choice to drive through a crowd of children with her/his foot on the accelerator. But you see, in some mysterious way, an adult condoned this behavior, so clearly the 18 year-old cannot be a fault.”

    Because an adult gave the key to a senior, all of the students who made the choice to enter the school at night and vandalize are now exempt from and consequences from their choices? Really? These are 18 year-olds and legal adults, right???

    I gave a buddy of mine a new swiss army knife for his birthday two years back. By OUSD standards it would be I rather than he who is responsible if he chose to stab someone.

    This should not be a either/or choice: Either the adult who gave the key or somehow condoned the driving is a fault OR the students are.

    This is a case of and/both. Yes, the adult who gave up a key should be held accountable for his/her actions AND so should the students.

  • http://www.skylinehs.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=77763&type=u&rn=6808095 David Orphal

    I am saddened by reading that the seniors who vandalized the school and who drove on campus are going to be allowed to attend graduation.

    I was shocked to read Troy Flint’s words in the Tribune. Apparently, because an adult at the school gave a key to the seniors who vandalized, and because this adult apparently had some kind of involvement with the on-campus drive, the seniors involved are going to be allowed to walk the stage at graduation.

    I cannot abide by the EITHER/OR logic of this decision. EITHER the students will be held accountable for their choices / OR it was the adult’s fault and the children are blameless.

    Instead, I believe this is an AND/BOTH situation. The adult may have given the seniors the means to accomplish their so-called pranks AND the seniors made their own decisions about these pranks. BOTH should face consequences for their actions.

    Graduation is a time when we, as a school, acknowledge with pride that these are our best and finest. The few seniors who engaged in these two so-called pranks soil that image.

    With deep respect felt to those seniors who made the right choice regarding the senior pranks, I will not take part in the graduation ceremony. I will not honor the seniors who vandalized the school and nearly ran down one of their fellow students.

    I understand that this stance may be considered insubordination by the district or site administration team. Unlike these few senior pranksters, I accept any reasonable consequences I must bear for this decision. I hope that those seniors who I continue to respect understand my reasons and know that I continue to hold them in high regard.

  • Sue

    Boy, what a can of worms this has turned into. My husband got the story above from our son’s one-on-one instructional aide. And, as soon as I got home from work yesterday, he warned me not to mention anything about it to our son. Seems our boy was quite upset – not sure if he was upset about the “prank”, or about the kids who at the time wouldn’t be participating in the graduation. For the last week or so, he’s been really worried about him (or me, due to work) missing his graduation.

    *After* the ceremony, I think it gives us another “teaching opportunity” about following the crowd (don’t!) when something might be dangerous. So, in an odd and twisted way, I’m a little bit grateful that it happened. Much better for our kid to have a concrete real-life example of consequences for dumb behavior.

    I just hope the neurotypical kids can also learn the lesson. There are things autistics find easier to grasp than the NTs.

  • Nextset

    A local Catholic High School is well know for barring graduating students from walking for misbehaving on the Senior Field Trip, and it doesn’t take a lot.

    They do warn them & the parents (before the trip and in the last several months of the school year). At the graduation ceremony one year the administration mentioned in their speech that the people on the stage learned lessons about how to conduct themselves that several of their classmates not on the stage did not learn.

    Schools are there to teach. Good ones do, all the way to the very end. My public high school expelled people 2 weeks before graduation for truancy and made them take diplomas from the continuation school despite being ready to graduate and having all the requirements done at the “good” school. They did warn them. This public school was known for not bluffing on any threat/promise. That’s why they are considered a “good” school. They maintained order.

    The graduation ceremony is the last thing you can take away from misbehaving adolescents mere days from the ceremony. If they can’t toe the line they have no business in the ceremony and if they really misbehave, they should be denied the diploma alltogether.

    Our drug court Judges have literally snatched the “certificate” out of the hand of the participant on the stage in front of everyone and had the bailiff take them into custody because the Judge noticed the odor of alcohol as the recipient accepted the certificate. All the family and friends are there, there was cake and cookies. Defendant got dragged off to jail and I believe told to start the program over.

    If the kids learn these tough lessons in public school they would learn to take better care of themselves afterwards when the stakes are their very freedom and livelihoods. It’s easy to be nice and accomodating. If you really care about their development you will hold the line on children’s behavior.

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/ Sharon Higgins


    Boston University — Brigham Young University, Idaho — Brown University — California Polytechnic State University, SLO (Cal Poly) — California State University, East Bay — California State University, Monterey Bay — California State University, Northridge — Clark Atlanta University — Dillard University — Duke University — Evergreen State College — Fresno State University — Humboldt State University — Idaho State University — Ithaca College — Montana State University — Occidental College — Rice University — Sacramento State University — San Francisco State University — San José State University — Southern Oregon University — Stanford University — Texas Southern University — University of California, Berkeley — University of California, Davis — University of California, Irvine — University of California, Los Angeles — University of California, Riverside — University of California, San Diego — University of California, Santa Barbara
    University of California, Santa Cruz — University of Southern California — Yale University

    Badminton, Women’s Basketball, Men’s and Women’s Cross Country, Men’s and Women’s Golf, Men’s and Women’s Soccer, Softball, Women’s Swimming, Men’s and Women’s Tennis, Men’s and Women’s Track, Women’s Vollyball

    First Place AA High School Band



    This potentially dangerous and inconsiderate incident was conducted by a handful of hyped-up showoffs who undoubtedly were egged on by too many of their immature peers. It was a stupid, stupid thing.

    The careless behavior of a small number of kids has harmed our school’s reputation for a time. Dealing with it consumed an enormous number of hours. For the staff, parents, and students involved, it also consumed a huge amount of emotional energy. Those precious resources could have much been better spent elsewhere, engaging in positive things at the year’s end.

    I hope the listing I’ve posted here will illustrate that a large number of Skyline students did choose to make good decisions during 2009-2010, and ended up accomplishing quite a lot. They have done their best to make OUSD and the City of Oakland proud.

  • Sue

    Thank you, Sharon. A good reminder.

  • Jesse James

    Thank you Sharon! That is news we need to know. Congratulations and good luck on your new journey, Class of 2010!!!

    Senior pranks do not a school make. Plenty of suburban (& well thought of) high schools have ridiculous senior pranks that don’t change public opinion negatively. Just like plenty of white suburban kids make ridiculous mistakes and don’t suffer the same consequences as their nonwhite urban peers.

    Last year, OUSD published a small poster/flyer that listed all the graduates and their future alma maters. I hope they do it again. I posted it outside my first grade classroom door. Along with other career options–for those of you who’ll remind me that all students are not college bound or college material.

  • Nextset

    Jesse James: your comment about white kids not suffering the same consequences for their “ridiculous mistakes” reminded me of a gang “rape” case involving some very very prominent adolescent whites …

    Nobody talked to the cops, they all lawyered up at the sight of the first uniform. (Very impressive for teens!!) A squadron of lawyers arrived at night – they must have been on Speeddial. They served to enforce the no talk rule.

    All the physical evidence vanished completely and couldn’t be found anywhere including the pictures. No permission was granted for any searches, interviews were not granted, nobody was probation/parole searchable. All the involved were immediately removed by their families and secluded. As far as was known no one spoke of whatever it was that happened, not to their parents, not to each other, to no one, not ever. The BMWs were probably taken for a month.

    The drunken girl involved found herself completely isolated with no corroborating statements from anyone and nothing physical left to support her story. She withdrew her complaint and just wanted to be left alone. The investigation ended.

    Compare that to the typical disaster of a bad night for Otis and Latifah… Lots of evidence, lots of incriminating statements and admissions, permissive searches, search conditions, no lawyers, photos on the cellphones, etc etc. Sometimes even if “nothing” happened they are still running their mouths saying things that create problems civil, criminal, administrative, and just provocative.

    There is a reason some people stay out of the courts and some people are riding revolving doors. And it’s not the Police that determine who is who – it’s their own behavior.

    People are not angels, they do things from time to time that they shouldn’t do, especially adolescents. In a crisis the difference between those who survive and those who don’t is often a matter of training and discipline. If you are conditioned to have especially bad discipline and have no training for crisis management either, you are going to have real bad days. The poor outcomes I see with the classically “trained” ghetto school youth (of all colors) would not be so dire if they were schooled the way the poor black youth were previously before the new loosey goosey policies were adopted.

    So I’m not going to cry if OUSD for once comes down on kids over misbehavior and the kids complain. It’s music to my ears. Don’t hear it often. Where I went to school if you even stood around looking guilty you got punished. By 12th grade we were still no angels, but we were very very good at staying out of trouble. If you had to do something you shouldn’t, you had alibis, escape routes, & scapegoats ready. At some point it was too much trouble to be bad, the planning was time consuming and we just grew up.

    We do no favors for our kids by not swiftly & visibly punishing them for displeasing us.

  • Hot R

    So now joyriding for a Senior prank and flour in the hallways means boycotting graduation and is the equivalent of gang rape? Yipes!

    “Good” schools graduate students in large numbers and prepare them for college or a career. Skyline’s CST scores do not suggest it is a good school. The rotating principal position over the last few years suggest it is not a well run school either. If you are going to get upset about Skyline’s “reputation” then at least get upset about the right thing.

    But I do think these Seniors with cars come from families with more money than their peers, and therefore it stands to reason are going to some of those colleges Sharon listed. Nextset is correct in suggesting that class and race always triumph.

  • Nextset

    Hot R: “Equivalent”?? get real. And what “gang rape”?

    That case was a widely discussed and published event from a long time ago. I wasn’t involved with it. It was significant because of the deftness with which the families of the boys avoided complications. It hasn’t been repeated since but it is remembered. I compare this to the typical Otis and Latifah bad night where by the time a Public Defender is handed the file they are indefensible. I’m suggesting that the difference is the shoddy way Otis and Latifah get disciplined – it sets them up for bad results later in life. Not that the public schools care.

    And I sure don’t contend that any OUSD school is a “good school”. I am not into their reputation, I do support any incremental improvents that may occur. So I support the discipline efforts discussed here.

    “Class and race” triumph? Well not exactly but it is involved. The Class issue here is discipline. Schools should teach that well. OUSD doesn’t. That’s why employers don’t hire their products given any alternative. OUSD should improve on this – it doesn’t require a budget increase to do so.

    A final note on the race thing. It’s always been clear to me that the reason white liberals will not discipline blacks is the racism of soft expectations. Rad-Libs for example just don’t believe blacks can ever be held responsible for bad behavior – because they can’t help themselves. It’s not a “conspiracy” – that’s not my point. It’s a dogma – a belief system. It started with the Civil Rights movement of the mid 1960s and has been becoming more pervasive ever since. And I don’t buy it.

    I don’t know the race of the players in this story. I know a OUSD demographics. Perhaps liberals don’t believe anybody is responsible for anything. So they toss discipline out the window and try to suppress it when found.

    Yes, OJ did murder those people.

    Brave New World.

  • Sue

    Epilogue to the epilogue – one of the student speakers at the graduations (I think she was the senior class president, but I might be mistaken) tackled the topic of senior pranks head-on. She’d been one of the students who was, briefly, not going to be in the graduation ceremony because she’d been in the Tuesday sideshow.

    I’m sure her parents and her class were proud of her speech. I know I was, and I don’t even know the girl. I think the kids did learn a valuable lesson, and their mistake won’t be repeated. It’s even possible, however unlikely, that our resident curmugeon might have found her words marginally acceptable.

    And congratulations to Skyline’s class of 2010, especially to Amythyst, Jonathan, Michael, Joshua, Eliot, and everyone else whose names I don’t know, who’ve been friends and supporters of my son Kenton for the last four years. The teachers and staff made it possible for him to graduate, but all of you made it *fun* for him to go to school every day with your kindness and acceptance of his differences. I see great hope for your futures, and for the future of the world because all of you are in it.

  • Sue

    I just realized that I misspelled Amethyst. I’m so sorry. And I hope I didn’t misspell any of the other names – if I did, I apologize for that too.

  • steven marshall

    I agree w/ Orphal. Fire the employee and bar the kids who did donuts from the graduation ceremony.

    Wait – our public servants own their jobs and kids can’t get expelled in OUSD unless they break someone’s bones or have over an ounce of marijuana on them.

    Staff behavior will sink to lower lows than this if there continue to be no consequences for low-quality teaching and sometimes shockingly unacceptable behavior.

    I want to know more about the kids who did donuts–are they tracking to graduate? Do they have 2.0s and did they pass the CAHSEE and complete OUSD’s senior project requirement? If yes to all three, the bar is really low for these idiots to be enrolled in high school in the first place, and THEN to walk after doing donuts and creating a major safety issue. The bar is super low. Dang. NextSet is pretty harsh, but he is right some of the time.

    Orphal is right, too–the kids should get the book thrown at them no matter the staff involvement.

    We should call OUSD “LOW-USD” for its low expectations of everyone. Accountability? Psssh.

  • livegreen

    Yes! Sideshows now tolerated at Skyline, so kids can go there instead of the flats. Pass the word around! There will b no consequences for such activity, but if the district changes it’s policies for similar activity in future, just point out the double-standard and you’ll get cottacott free!

    Remember, two wrongs DO make a right.

    Oh BTW, any vandalism? Don’t worry OUSD will pick up the tab (they have plenty of money for it).

  • Skyline Teacher

    “Wait – our public servants own their jobs”

    Steven, the employee in question was fired (and was already being laid off). Don’t let the facts get in the way of your preconceived ideology, though.

  • steven marshall

    Skyline Teacher –

    I highly doubt the employee was being fired. Laid off because of CLAD or bumping or something else, maybe. OUSD doesn’t fire people, especially teachers. It can’t fire people. The unions run the show.

  • Katy Murphy

    The school district spokesman said the employee in question was placed on administrative leave for the investigation and that he or she faced discipline (which may include firing). But as of last week, he said, the employee hadn’t been fired.