Roof-scaling burglars hit central office

Oakland schools just can’t seem to shake these computer-pilfering thieves — and the latest offenders might be wandering around with the Social Security numbers of the district’s new hires. Here’s a version of a Web story we posted just now:

Late last night, thieves broke into the Oakland school district’s human resources offices and stole as many as 12 computers with the personal information of an estimated 100 new hires.

Police believe the burglary took place around 11 p.m. Tuesday night; it was reported around 7:30 this morning when employees began to arrive, said district spokesman Troy Flint.

The thieves appear to have climbed onto the roof in the rear of the building, Continue Reading


Another suspicious Sobrante Park fire

arson.jpgWhen Sobrante Park Elementary School kids came to school this morning, they saw a burned out portable classroom where they used to make art projects.

The fire happened last night, and firefighters say it looked suspicious — much like the arson at Peralta Elementary School last year. (Here’s a brief on last night’s fire.)

Carmen Denhams, the school secretary, told me this is the third time in a year this has happened. Continue Reading


Oakland’s theft problem: Can it be stopped?

computerlab2.jpgMatthew Green, a former journalism teacher at Fremont Federation’s Media High School, wrote a compelling story for the East Bay Express about the continual theft of computers and other equipment from Oakland’s public schools.

Daniel Hurst, principal of Fremont’s College Prep & Architecture Academy, told Green that the school loses $50,000 a year, easily, because of break-ins. Hurst was quoted as saying that the phenomenon was “the cost of doing school in this environment.”

Last summer, after someone swiped 18 brand new Macintosh computers from a locked case on the McClymonds campus, Tribune reporter Jennifer Scholtes did a clip search and found quite a few theft reports.

At the time, then-OUSD spokesman Continue Reading


Another investigation, allegations, more allegations

kakishiba_d.jpgFor the second time in less than five months, an Oakland school board member is under investigation.

Don’t worry: There are absolutely no sexual undertones to this inquiry. Far from it. Think real estate and planning commissions. Think — dare I print this? — informational flyers.

David Kakishiba, as many of you know, is the school board president. He is also the executive director of the East Bay Asian Youth Center, based in East Oakland’s San Antonio neighborhood. His organization, along with the OCO (Oakland Community Organizations) became involved against a market-rate condominium proposal that would plop 810 new homes along East 12th Street in Fruitvale with little to no affordable units.

His two worlds collided in September, when kids from three Fruitvale-area elementary schools Continue Reading


Board meets tonight to discuss Dobbins case

Update: The committee didn’t come to any decisions tonight. At around 6:30, Greg Hodge announced there would be nothing to report until Wednesday, when the full school board meets at 6 p.m.

A Special Committee on Possible Censure of a Governing Board Member meets at 6 p.m. tonight at the central office as part of an inquiry into the relationship of fellow school board member, Chris Dobbins, and a 17-year-old former student.

The three board members on the committee — who were selected last Friday by the board president David Kakishiba — are Alice Spearman, Noel Gallo and Greg Hodge.

According to Friday’s board minutes, Dobbins objected to Spearman’s placement on the committee because of some of the things she had said against him in the past. Gallo has also said Dobbins should step down.

Dobbins and the former student have said their friendship was innocent, and police decided there was no basis for criminal charges. The school board is expected to release a report of its own internal investigation, based on the committee’s findings.

The agenda says a fact-finding report might be adopted tonight, Continue Reading


Uprep board meets Saturday, after all


Update: Photo from Saturday meeting, where parents gave the board an earful. Pictured is Carla Bryan.

The Uprep board meets at 11:05 tomorrow morning to wrap up business and legal matters after the charter school’s closure this week. They won’t be reconsidering their closure decision, said the school’s interim director, Liane Zimny.

The “special meeting” is public, so parents and students will have an opportunity to speak.  Zimny says she’ll be there at 10 to meet any families who thought the meeting started them.

Confusion about the start time — or the purpose of the meeting, or whether it would occur at all, for that matter — would be understandable. 

The meeting schedule played out in what parents and staff describe as typical Uprep board fashion: Continue Reading


Uprep board calls last-minute meeting, votes to close school

boardresize.jpgUprep is closed.

The University Preparatory Charter Academy board held a special meeting today, giving little notice to families who might have wanted to attend.

They voted 3-1 to shut the high school in Eastmont Mall immediately. A number of teachers came, but no parents or students. It’s not clear whether the previously scheduled Saturday meeting will still happen.

Harold Pendergrass (far left) was the only board member who wanted to keep the school open, despite the Oakland school district’s charter revocation notice. He said the school needed a more transparent governing board and a full investigation into the allegations of fraud that have surfaced this month.

“There is considerable interest in trying to preserve the school,” Pendergrass said. “People aren’t running away from the school — maybe everyone except the board.”

But soon the discussion — about a decision that would deeply affect some 400 teenagers — devolved into a back-and-forth between Pendergrass and board president Prentice Deadrick about blame, ego and responsibility.

It went something like this: Continue Reading


A new blog for Uprep

There has been much media attention paid to the alleged fraud and possible closure of Oakland’s University Preparatory Charter Academy, but very little direct communication to families. As a result, many have learned of recent developments in a haphazard way.

To make it easier to stay informed on the fate of the school, a group of people have created an online forum to share news articles, blog postings and other information. It’s called In the Mall because the high school is located in Eastmont Mall.

The site might come in handy to share information about a recently scheduled special board meeting at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, in which the board will discuss the “Potential Dissolution of University Preparatory Charter School.”

Here is the agenda.  It was e-mailed to me last night.


Pro-charter group takes stand against Uprep

You know you’re in trouble when your advocacy group turns its back on you. 

Before today, the only charter organization that the California Charter Schools Association wanted to see closed was the California Charter Academy, a statewide operation accused of misusing $25 million of state funds on personal luxuries such as boats and spa visits.

Now it has company:  Oakland’s University Preparatory Charter Academy, a high school located in Eastmont Mall, which opened in 2001.

Gary Larson, a spokesman for the charter schools association, told me today that the latest letter from the Oakland school district — containing yet more allegations of fraud — left his organization little choice. He said the school was undermining “the integrity of the charter school movement.”

Earlier this month, they kicked the school out of the association.

The school district letter, sent yesterday to Uprep’s governing board, documented evidence of changed grades on students’ report cards and inflated enrollment projections. Already, the district had documented evidence of cheating on state tests and a lax governing structure.

If the school closes, Continue Reading