By Katy Murphy
Thursday, March 29th, 2012 at 12:40 am in School board news.
UPDATE: OUSD Spokesman Troy Flint said 10 protesters were arrested, beginning at 12:35 a.m., after refusing to leave the building.
Tonight, a group of about a dozen or more activists from BAMN held a sit-in and protest in the midst of the board meeting, saying they wouldn’t leave until the board took back its October decision to close five elementary schools. (At one point Alice Spearman, who serves up at least two colorful quotes and/or insults per meeting, issued this challenge: “I want to say to these revolutionaries who want to camp out: I hope you’ve got your tent. I hope you do. Walk your talk.”)
After an hour-long recess, when the Oakland school board and the television cameras returned to the board room, activists resumed their chanting about children, gentrification and schools not being for sale. (None are for sale that I know of; some might be leased to charter schools or the Emery school district, which some protesters were describing as majority-white. You can find that district’s actual student demographics here. Oakland has a greater percentage of white students.).
Then, without further ado, the board members and staff grabbed their personal effects and left, adjourning the meeting to tomorrow afternoon.
After the board walked out the first time, a man in a Santa Fe Elementary T-shirt told the activists (which did include a couple of Lakeview grandparents) that he had been waiting for hours to speak on the agenda item to lease Santa Fe to Emery Unified after the school closes in June.
“The point is you deprived the community to make their point to the school board,” he said. “This was disrespectful.”
Earlier in the meeting, a number of teachers union leaders spoke out against Superintendent Tony Smith’s plan to replace the regular teaching positions at Castlemont, Fremont and McClymonds high schools with teachers-on-special-assignment, or TSAs. They held a rally before the meeting on the steps of the district headquarters.
The board also had an interesting (and at times, procedurally perplexing) discussion about the future of Lazear Elementary. The board voted to close the school last fall, and to keep it open, parents have applied for a charter conversion. OUSD staff recommended the board reject the petition, but Noel Gallo made a motion to approve the charter. Alice Spearman also voiced her support, as did Chris Dobbins.
The board ended up tabling the matter, asking staff to work out a similar “partnership charter” arrangement as they did with ASCEND and Learning Without Limits. One of the provisions in that agreement might be for the charter organization to consider returning Lazear to district (non-charter) status in two years.
Anyone get why would that be, when the only reason it’s going charter is to stay open despite the district’s decision to close it?