The Oakland school board will soon decide whether to close and merge over a dozen schools.
The district is under pressure to get its finances in order and to do that, the district says it needs to close schools with low enrollment.
But families and teachers are hoping for a last-minute bailout from the state and some are taking drastic steps to try to stop the closures.
“My babies are worth it, that’s why I’m here, that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing, I love these kids,” said Maurice Andre San-chez, OUSD educator on a hunger strike.
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He and Moses Omolade are the two Oakland educators on a hunger strike. It’s been eight days since they’ve had any food.
“Our demands are very straight forward – no school closures, no mergers, Gavin Newsom come to Oakland just like you do for your photo-ops, come to Oakland when they closing our schools,” said Omolade.
On Tuesday, the medical team of UCSF doctors who’ve been evaluating the two educators said the two have underlying medical conditions that will worsen the longer they starve themselves.
“There is potential for electrolyte imbalances, convulsions, damage to organs like kidneys,” said Dr. Olivia Park of Oakland.
The Oakland school board will vote on the district’s cost-cutting proposal to close and merge up to 15 schools in the next two years.
“Teachers shouldn’t have to do this to bring attention to the fact that they need resources for their kids,” said Rupa Marya of UCSF.
The district said enrollment is dropping and is facing pressure from the Alameda County Office of Education to fix its budget shortfalls. Omolade, the community schools manager, was taken to the hospital so that his health can be properly monitored.
When asked if he would continue his hunger strike if the school board vote doesn’t go his way, this was Omolade’s response, “The hunger strike doesn’t stop.”