Drug Treatment Center to Move Across Street from Oakland Elementary School

A drug treatment center is looking to move into the site of a former Catholic elementary school in Oakland.

The plan has upset parents of students at Prescott Elementary, which is across the street from where the center would operate. Parents earlier this month pleaded to the Oakland City Council to stop the drug treatment center from moving in. Council members were split and Mayor Libby Schaaf had to break the tie.

"She voted in favor of the placement of this program here," Prescott Elementary Principal Enomwoyi Booker said. "So of course we're devastated! This is just not the place to put something like this."

Booker said Prescott Elementary has been rooted in Oakland for 150 years. But the school's future is up in the air. Student enrollment is at an all-time low with 120 kids.

"That's not what you want to advertise. 'Hey! We have a drug recovery treatment program right across the street from this school,'" Booker said.

The building discussed used to be a Catholic school, but money problems and dwindling enrollment forced the Oakland Diocese to shut it down two years ago.

The empty classrooms will be perfect to host therapy group sessions for recovering addicts, said Tom Gorham, who runs Options Recovery Sessions.

"We have UC college students, doctors, nurses, who have hit bottom with their disease," Gorham said. "We have homeless people. We have people coming out of county jail as well."

Gorham also said "there's such a fierce misunderstanding and discrimination against our population.

When the new drug treatment site opens next spring, drugs like methadone and suboxone will not be handed out. Ne needles will be distributed either.

Gorham said he hears the concerns from parents and is working on carving out a new entrance to the building furthest away from the school.

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