Teachers Union to File Complaint After Oakland School Board Approves Closures

The Oakland Education Association also is considering a strike vote

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The union representing public school teachers in Oakland plan to file a legal complaint over the district's decision to close or merge nearly a dozen schools.

Oakland Unified School District trustees this week narrowly approved a measure outlining the closures as part of an effort to tackle a budget deficit.

"Today, our union will take legal action against Oakland Unified to prevent the rushed and unnecessary closure of schools serving majority Black students," Oakland Education Association President Keith Brown said in a statement. "And, if it comes to it, I am prepared to ask Oakland educators to strike to protect our schools. OUSD has the necessary reserves to keep schools running, and that excuse needs to stop now."

The union said it plans to file the legal complaint with the Public Employment Relations Board to challenge the district's decision, which was made during a contentious meeting that began Tuesday and lasted into the early morning hours Wednesday.

In addition, the planned closures has sparked protests from students, teachers and parents, including a hunger strike by two educators.

Despite the public opposition, the board approved an amended version shortly before 1 a.m. Wednesday.

The measure approved will close two schools at the end of the current school year: Community Day School and Parker Elementary School.

Five more schools will close at the end of the next school year in 2023: Brookfield Elementary, Carl B. Munck Elementary, Grass Valley Elementary, Fred T. Korematsu Discovery Academy and Horace Mann Elementary.

In addition, the measure approved merges RISE Elementary into New Highland Academy Elementary for the start of the 2022-23 school year. Beginning that same school year, La Escuelita Elementary and Hillcrest Elementary will eliminate grades 6-8.

According to the district, school mergers or closures are needed due to declining enrollment, particularly in its elementary schools. Because public schools are funded based on enrollment, this has led to a deficit over the next two years. The district says 35 percent of its schools are enrolled at "below sustainable" levels.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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