The Oakland Unified School District board on Wednesday voted once again to close or consolidate 10 schools over the next few years.
The board had already voted twice in favor of the closures, saying they're necessary due to low enrollment and budget constraints. Dozens of parents and community members spoke their mind at Wednesday’s meeting and not one of them was for closing Oakland schools.
Emotions erupted as the 4-2 vote was announced. Security was called in, and the meeting went into an immediate break.
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Opponents said this was the board’s last chance to make it right.
“You lied to us, and you are doing damage for years to Black children in Oakland,” one parent said.
Last month, in protest, some parents and activists moved into the Parker K-8 campus and started running an unsanctioned summer camp with activities and meals. Rochelle Jenkins was one of them.
“I’m devastated. I’m devastated because we all stepped in. We have lost sleep and everything to keep our schools,” she said.
Oakland Unified demanded the group move out because it didn’t meet district standards for safety, supervision and background checks.
But Jenkins said she had no choice and doesn’t know what to do now.
“I just don’t know, I’m a working mom. I have to be up at 4 in the morning. So, I can’t take my kids to school. I’m not going to know anything about that new school and what’s going on there. I’ve got to go back to work,” she said.
Two board members voted to keep the schools open, as they said new money is coming in from the state that could make up for funding gaps. But ultimately, the majority said the closures are needed due to low enrollment and budget constraints.
“We don’t have enough qualified educators or principals to fill the vacancies. And frankly, the rotating door of year after year of cuts is very challenging. Challenging but necessary,” said Aimee Eng, Oakland District 2 Director.
As a result, Parker K-8 and Community Day School are set to close this fall, and several more are scheduled to shutter next year.