Board of Education Members Balk at Placing Charter High School on Westlake Middle School Campus
Jun 19, 2015
Posted in Education/Schools/Youth
By Ken Epstein
Several members of the Oakland Board of Education are balking at a proposal of the Oakland Unified School District administration to place a charter high school on the same campus as West Lake Middle School, leading the board president to table the motion without discussion, the Post has learned.
The proposal to place 185 students and eight staff of American Indian Charter High School in eight portable classrooms on the middle school campus was on the agenda to be decided on the Wednesday, June 10 school board meeting but did not come up for discussion.
“Staff needs to do more due diligence on the relocation of American Indian Model Schools,” said Board President James Harris, tabling the proposal.
However, board members told the Post that staff wants more time to lobby the board to back a plan that is extremely unpopular with the Westlake community.
Westlake is located on Harrison Avenue near Lake Merritt and draws students from West Oakland and the Chinatown/downtown area.
At a tumultuous meeting at the school on June 8, parents, teachers, students and members of the Westlake came out in force to condemn the move.
Administrators said the district was required to give space the school, and Westlake was the only good choice.
Therefore, they said, the decision was up to the board, but was all but a done deal.
However, parents did not go along. They objected to putting high school students on the same campus with students who are 12 years old.
Some parents did not want more sophisticated 17-year-olds on the same campus as their young special education students.
They did not like the idea that the school would have to have double lunch periods in the cafeteria and would split the use of the school library with the charter.
They suggested that the charter be moved to nearby Lakeview School, across from the Grand Lake Theater, which is currently closed and being for district offices. Staff said Lakeview was not possible but did not convince the parents.
Earlier, the district had tried to move an American Indian charter to Bella Vista Elementary School, but that plan ran into organized opposition from parents, teachers and the community.
Ultimately, administrators withdrew the plan to use Bella Vista. They said it was because they had to remove portables from the school’s playground, and therefore would not be enough space.