Berkeley police arrested a 17-year old Oakland youth this morning who brought a gun to Berkeley Technical High School to “settle some type of dispute.”

The principal of B-Tech, as the school is generally called, alerted police at 8:36 am that he had heard reports that the teenager was coming to the school with a gun, according to Sgt. Mary Kusmiss. Apparently the young man, who is a student at B-Tech, was intending to settle a score over a incident that occurred last weekend in Oakland, she said.

The Berkeley police department created a safety perimeter around the school and located the suspect around 8:55 am. He was carrying a loaded semi-automatic pistol, said Sgt. Kusmiss. He was arrested without incident.

Police transported the youth to Alameda County Juvenile Hall where he is being held on charges of carrying a loaded firearm, carrying a concealed weapon, and carrying a gun on school grounds, said Sgt. Kusmiss. Police are not revealing his name because he is a juvenile.

The campus at Martin Luther King Street near Derby was never on lock-down, said Sgt. Kusmiss.

So far this year there have been two other incidents in which students brought guns to Berkeley High, the city’s main high school. B-Tech is the high school for students who have difficulty succeeding at Berkeley High.

Frances Dinkelspiel

Frances Dinkelspiel (co-founder) is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California,...

106 replies on “Teen brings gun to Berkeley school to ‘settle’ score”

  1. We’ve had 105 comments on this thread. Many have been very valuable contributions. But I don’t think we’re getting anything new now so we’re closing the thread.

  2. Bravo Berkeleyside for bringing to light another way that Berkeley is robbed to support the political aims of a self righteous few!

    Anyone know of a meeting, petition or other political action being planned to put a stop to this fraud?

  3. Lifelongberkelyan,

    Thanks so much, you made my day. I am currently dealing with even tougher bureaucratic issues as the primary care-partner to my disabled brother, so your praise lifted my spirits. Those who actually know me know that there is not a vain bone in my body, and that I personally paid a very high cost for my efforts as did both my sons.

  4. Ugh (regarding East Bay Express article). All I can say is that it restores my faith in Berkeley that Baggins lost badly. To be honest, I find the tone (not the subject) of this whole conversation to be quite depressing, with a number of comments evoking Arizona, to be frank, but the article certainly explains a lot.

    As a side note, I find it rather absurd that the author has distilled to two single numbers why black students should be content to go to school in Oakland: “black students in Oakland scored marginally better than their counterparts in Berkeley, 603 to 601.” Those are averages that ignore the wide variation amongst Oakland schools, and the percent of students who are actually proficient. Lo and behold, when you look at proficiency for 2010, there are significant discrepancies between OUSD and BUSD in African American students, with Berkeley students doing much better, particularly in math (30% vs. 38%), but ELA as well (31% vs. 33.5%). I’m merely critiquing how the author arrived at a certain conclusion.

    I think it’s time for me to focus my energies on other things now … like homework policies, survey data, and functional SGCs. But this has certainly been enlightening, and far from over I’m sure.

  5. I was afraid of that. Thanks Laura. We’ll see how that video gaming curriculum works out for those kids at Realm.

  6. Classroom at University Ave admin building are for alternative schools, such as Realm.
    There was a story in the Daily Cal recently stating that Victor Dias principal for Realm did not want to use this location despite its proximity to west Berkeley, he wanted to put the school at Willard.

    Dias is not the kind of principal comfortable with transparency.

  7. Hey Berkeleyside,

    With more than twice the posts of all other current articles combined, why not move this back to the front page. Why bury it alive?

  8. EBGuy,

    Do you know the intended use of the classrooms being built at West Campus on University? They can’t be for elementary schools.

  9. “economies of scale”
    Is that a code word for, “when we max out the existing physical plant we hit up the tax payers to build more facilities”. That sounds very efficient — as long as you’re not a Berkley taxpayer footing the bill. For those of you keeping track at home, Measure I includes funds to construct new classrooms to accommodate growth in enrollment, including elementary enrollment growth.

  10. In 2007 and 2008 at BHS the school resource cop told safety committee members that appx 95% of the students detained and released for felony thief, that is over $400 were from out of district, several of the most prolific offenders were on probation, at least a couple of the kids on probation in Contra Costa county. It has long been a practice for teens in trouble in one county or district to seek admissions without the additional monitoring from IEPs, student behavioral contracts or probation officers.

    Berkeley’s own “Don’t ask Don’t Tell ” policy.

    Oh for those sharp enough to wonder detained/ released??? yep, just another unofficial policy that coddles high risk teens. Hardly an intervention, right Abigail?

  11. Dear Abigail,
    There is a lot of press on this, its hardly a secret. The article I refered to is East Bay Express, Nov 15 2006, “Berkeley’s Underground Railroad”. Its about kids in considerable number falsifying into BUSD schools. I’m sure it happens from other places, but Oakland is the main load. Who else would be so anxious to escape their own schools? But each false registration costs Oakland $5,500, so as Berkeley taxes itself more, and drains Oakland more, the problem increases.

  12. In regards to the immigration issue – I think it’s highly relevant to the non-resident issues. Just trying to be clear – I’m assuming the district would admit children of undocumented workers into the schools – based on federal law – regardless of how strict an admissions policy we have. No need to respond unless I’m mistaken and someone cares to correct this.

    @D – I can’t find an East Bay Express article with the information you site. Do you have a link or an estimated date of print? There’s been a tendency on this thread for people to throw out all kinds of statements as fact. Your information contradicts what I’m hearing from others who say there is a huge number of non-residents from well-educated households. I’m not sure who to believe, or if anyone even knows. Just trying to sort fact from opinion. Thanks.

  13. Laura Menard is a real Berkeley hero. She deserves a medal for her vocal oversight of Slemp and his cronies who aided and abetted the policies that have created the admissions mess at Berkeley High. Check Berkelyside’s archives.

  14. You know what is most fascinating about this issue? False registered kids lead in failure to graduate (see East Bay Express article) and each false registered kid costs the donor district $5,500 in state money. So well meaning Berkeley is contributing to the bankrupsy of neighboring Oakland and is failing to serve the false population. Ahh the problem with ideological devotion.

  15. Dear Abigal.
    No. Berkeley government is a cause more than it is about a place people live. For better or worse the city puts making a leftist statement ahead of quality of life all the time. Allowing massive registration from primarily Oakland to the schools is only a part of that. Funny thing is its an amazingly wonderful place. Its government is the most disfunctional ever, but it is so steeped in beauty and creativity that it hardly matters, except if you have a kid in school or need public service.

  16. All children, illegal or not, have the constitutional right to a public education. This is the long standing law.

    This issue is independent of the issue of address fraud. Mixing up the issues just serves to divert the discussion.

  17. Name Withheld says:
    “I think you’ll find that in a time when funding is being slashed for virtually all state services and taxes are about to be raised, the education of the children of illegal immigrants isn’t a high priority for most Californians.”

    So just curious, is this true for you Berkeley residents on this thread as well?

  18. Eric,

    you missed a critical access point, homeless students, McKinney-Veto

    Second point, much of this was discussed during the 2006 school board race when David Baggins ran on a platform to implement proper administrative practices, the district has reneged on the agreements made during that process.

    Third, when long time district admin Chris Lim was hired by San Leandro Unified and before going to the voters for a parcel tax she instituted practices to ensure the district policy for inter-district transfers was enforced. See chronicle story.

    Again, those of you naive enough to accept my friend Mark Coplan number of 300 students illegally here, would have been snowed during the district 20 years of silly talk when the number of high risk problem kids at BHS was 30.

    Berkeley is a joke, anyone who works in the system knows that, the difference with you do gooders is they get paid on Friday.

  19. LifeLong I feel I owe you coffee or something for speaking for myself and many others you are spot on!!!

  20. @ lifelongberkeleyan ––– Correct, 100%. No matter how sensible or logical the course of action suggested, there will always be people like Bruce Love willing to write impassioned and rambling essays about how change is bad and anyone who disagrees is a racist, classist, or bigot.

  21. Abigail S. says: “3. What wil this mean for the children of undocumented workers?”

    I think you’ll find that in a time when funding is being slashed for virtually all state services and taxes are about to be raised, the education of the children of illegal immigrants isn’t a high priority for most Californians.

  22. And this is why Berkeley remains as it is.

    After how long and at what cost did our elected officials deliver the Public Commons initiative? An ordinance which essentially says “All those other laws we already had about the minimum standards for public behavior, well we really, really mean them, kind of, sort of…is that OK with you?…”

    So I am confident that with enough fees for grant proposal writers and legal consultants and interminable public hearings we’ll eventually announce that we really don’t want to educate the entire Eastbay on our dime and we really, really mean it, kind of, sort of…if that’s OK with you?…”

  23. @ Bruce ––– If I was really mistaken you would have provided the “proof” very quickly, as you always do. The only times you fall back on the “do your own research” line are when you don’t have the facts to back yourself up.

  24. It’s interesting that the BSEP flier EBGUY refers to states that BSEP funds are “integral to educating Berkeley’s children”, saying nothing about Oakland’s children or Kensington’s children. Berkeley parents voted to increase our already inflated property taxes based on this premise, and by putting out this flyer BUSD has mislead the public as to what a significant portion of these funds are really used for.

  25. re: “While it may not be explicit, it is clear that when the law says “lives in the home of a caregiving adult” it means that the child resides there a majority of the time.”

    You are simply mistaken and yes, there is ample case law on the issue. If you want to do your own legal research rather than asking me, start looking for cases around “caregiver affidavis”.

  26. @Eric – Thanks for posting those links and School Board candidate responses. I agree with Leah Wilson when she says she’s in support of more stringent policies if applied equitably. There ARE people for whom this issue is loaded with racial/class bias and assumptions, so I appreciate you and others sticking to facts and stating your stance that that is not the motivation for tightening our policies, and in fact that it would affect a range of people.

    In regards to your links, I prefer these policies to, say, the SF approach that invites people to turn each other in, where a legitimately enrolled non-resident becomes the unwitting target of other’s suspicions and calls to the district. But I do have questions.
    1. How do these districts keep track if a resident who is legitimately enrolled in their schools then moves to a neighboring town, but keeps their child at the school under the false pretense they are still residing in the same place? The entry requirements are strict, but what about follow-up?
    2. Albany – “There can only be one residence.” As mentioned earlier, in reality there are kids for whom having one residence isn’t realistic, so I assume this means that as long as one parent or legal guardian lives full time in Berkeley, that qualifies even if the child isn’t able to reside in any one location full time, or even 50.00001% of the time, to quote Name Withheld (e.g., separation or divorce, an absent, ill, incarcerated, or functionally impaired parent leading to house bouncing for the child with relatives, etc.)
    3. What wil this mean for the children of undocumented workers?

    @A Berkeley Parent says: “I will say that both commenters articulate my own opinion on the issue, but I firmly believe they also do for the vast majority of Berkeley residents with younger school-age”

    With all due respect, perhaps you can accurately represent some people in your circle, but I hope you agree you can’t accurately know the sentiments of a whole diverse demographic group of families with younger school age children here in Berkeley numbering in the thousands.

    @Deirdre – I’m sure what you say is true … it does depend on the school. Our school’s demographics have changed drastically in the past 7 or so years; even in the last 5 years our PTA $$ have really climbed. Before that, we always struggled, envious of the PTA coffers of schools in the hills or in north Berkeley, for example.

    In regards to the differentiated instruction, that’s always a challenge, and I could easily imagine the scenario you’re describing. At our school, it does seem to work pretty well. But certainly a valid point.

  27. Eric, your math is just nonsense and you don’t understand the legal context. Here:

    Adding or subtracting 300 students does not automatically change the average class size. It’s effect on the average class size depends, critically, on how those students are distributed among various class rooms. I fully and truly believe and agree with you that lawful transfers account for some share of the BSEP CSR expenditures – but you are calculating what amounts to an upper bound — a maximum and slightly ridiculously high guess — useful for telling us that it’s a lot less than that.

    The consistent mistake in your analysis is a refusal to acknowledge “economies of scale”.

    Additionally: under state law, the quantity of those lawful transfers is not discretionary to any signficant degree. BUSD doesn’t have a lot of choice except some details about how to manage the program. Your “beef” is with state law, not BUSD policy.

    Good luck in Sacramento.

  28. No, Bruce, it just means that the child’s parents/guardians would need to choose one of those two residences as the *primary* residence for the child.

    You’re really having to twist the intent of the law to make your argument. While it may not be explicit, it is clear that when the law says “lives in the home of a caregiving adult” it means that the child resides there a majority of the time. That could be as little as 50.00001% of the year, but simply arguing that it isn’t explicit enough won’t fly. You could arguing about it and drag it on in court for quite a while (as I am sure you would love to do) but unless there is additional case law clarifying this issue, the original intent of the law is clear.

  29. Sigh… the browser just ate my long winded reply to Bruce. This will have to suffice for now:
    $13.3 million BSEP/140 teachers = $95k /teacher (from the BSEP flyer)
    300 transfer students/ 13 grade levels = ~23 students/grade
    Class sizes in lower grades WILL BE 20 students, due to state CSR incentive funds. So that’s 4 teachers in K-3. I’m willing say there are 3 teachers hired to keep class sizes lower for the transfer students in the remaining 10 grades.
    7 x $95k = $665k is greater than
    300 x $2211 = $663k (marginal cost per student)
    I’m willing to say my previous calculations underestimated the effect of out of district students diluting the BSEP pool.

  30. @Name, you misread the law.

    It says absolutely nothing about “primary caregiver”. It talks about “caregiver” with whom the student “lives”.

    Well, what is a “caregiver”? What is “lives in the home of”?

    The law says: “Execution of an affidavit under penalty of perjury pursuant to Part 1.5 (commencing with Section 6550) of Division 11 of the Family Code by the caregiving adult is a sufficient basis for a determination that the pupil lives in the home of the caregiver, unless the school district determines from actual facts that the pupil is not living in the home of the caregiver.”

    What “actual facts” can prove that a pupil is not “living in the home of the caregiver”? That is left to the courts but it is trivial to see that “two residences” does not constitute such a fact.

    Consider, for example, a kid who shuffles between two households in separate districts. If the “two residences” clause is legal, and present in both districts, we reach the absurd conclusion that the student may attend neither district’s schools. The law is written without reference to any concept of “primary residence” in this case and, in fact, explicitly says that execution of the affidavit is presumptively enough to establish suitable caretaker status. Evidently, in such a case, the parent and caretakers have a choice of districts, by law.

    State law says that a person is presumed to be such a caregiver if they fill out an affadavit that they are allowed to authorize medical care. The state law carves out a broad area of entitlement and, specifically, Albany’s “there can not be two residences” clause violates what the state law carves out.

  31. The larger political structure underlying the most ardent of these postings is called “More Berkeley than Thou” (MBTT). It is used to elect mayors, city council members, school boards, and to select appointees to dozens of city commissions and boards whose policies gravely affect the daily lives of all Berkeyleans.

    MBTT is an artful strategy of subtle intimidation devised to mine our guilt (conscious or subconscious, real or imagined) over failing to realize the bright promise of the 60’s. And it has held Berkeley’s majority in its sway for decades.

    Translating the MBTT message in this instance: If you knew yourself better you’d realize that by supporting enforcement of BUSD registration policies you are rejecting diversity.

    While we start pulling out our racial harmony bona fides and seeking forgiveness for what we haven’t done, MBTT has established a platform for another school board position.

  32. How do Albany’s rules violate any of that?
    They merely state that the child can only have one listed residency, and that the child’s primary caregiver must reside there full time.

    None of that is in conflict with the law you’re citing, and from what I’m hearing it sounds like BUSD doesn’t even check to see if the children even have any relation to the address they claim to live at in the first place.

  33. I did some legal research. Albany’s policies are prima faciae in violate of state law.
    Eric wrote (with my emphasis added):

    I note that the Albany superintended published a memo (http://www.ausdk12.org/district/superintendent.jsp) addressing this issue. Note the clear definition of residency: there can be only one residency and the parent/guardian has to live there full-time (7 days/week). Grandmother/aunt with an address in Berkeley does not meet the test and families using that dodge are not in compliance.

    Albany’s rules seem to violate California Education Code 48204:

    48204. (a) Notwithstanding Section 48200, a pupil complies with
    the residency requirements for school attendance in a school
    district, if he or she is any of the following:
    [….]
    (4) A pupil who lives in the home of a caregiving adult that is
    located within the boundaries of that school district. Execution of
    an affidavit under penalty of perjury pursuant to Part 1.5
    (commencing with Section 6550) of Division 11 of the Family Code by
    the caregiving adult is a sufficient basis for a determination that
    the pupil lives in the home of the caregiver, unless the school
    district determines from actual facts that the pupil is not living in
    the home of the caregiver.

    The legal significance of this is that, strictly speaking, if a child is staying with “Grandma / Aunt” and being cared for by that adult, the student is entitled to enroll in BUSD. If “Grandma / Aunt” signs an affadavit that they can authorize medical care for the kid, the burden of proof is on the city to show that the kid doesn’t live there. Albany’s “there can not be two residences clause” flies in the face of state code.
    I bet that this particular legal issue is part of why some school administrators have tried to explain “What are we supposed to do, bed checks?” Documentation requirements aside, the district’s burden of proof for refusing a kid who has kin in Berkeley is ultimately quite high if the matter winds up in court. The defect in enrollment may be nothing more serious than “Grandma / Aunt” having not yet signed an affadavit that’s mainly about authorizing medical care.

  34. @Eric: Thank you for all this research. This is much more specific information than I’ve seen before.

    @Abigail, re: your comment: “So, what I’ve seen at our school with the influx of private school families (not knowing who does or doesn’t live in Berkeley) is an exponential increase in PTA donations, community connections, and highly skilled volunteer time. We can now maintain and improve programs that have been or will be eliminated by budget cuts, along with many other things we could never afford before.”

    I’ve been an active part of our PTA for the last 5 years, and I am not seeing an “exponential increase.” I haven’t seen much of any increase, in fact. RE: increased parental involvement, while it’s true that there’s a sector of parents who deeply care about increasing the quality of the classroom experience, there’s a tendancy among some teachers to feel defensive about changing the way they teach just because a new parent has entered their classroom — I think some teachers feel like a few well-meaning parents are only interested in challenging the kids at the top while ignoring the needs of the kids at the bottom. And it’s the kids at the bottom that the schools need to prioritize. It’s a real shame that there’s a disconnect here, because both parties have good intentions. Maybe it works better at your school . . . .

  35. Great posts, Eric.
    I agree completely and could not possibly have said it better.

    Perhaps those who do not think that this is an issue that should be addressed should donate money to “sponsor” these illegal transfer students.

  36. Having read this post and all of these comments with great interest, I simply want to say that I applaud two commenters in particular — Eric and EBGuy — for being level-headed and making cogent and constructive points on the issue of illegal BUSD transfer students. I will say that both commenters articulate my own opinion on the issue, but I firmly believe they also do for the vast majority of Berkeley residents with younger school-age (or, in my case, almost school-age) kids. That may reflect a generational shift in Berkeley as much as anything else.

  37. City’s that want valid registration have them. Berkeley doesn’t because it ideologicaly wants a different population to serve than contemporary Berkeley. This is just part of the disconnect between Berkeley public officials and the interest of the people of Berkeley.

  38. In the last school board election, I contacted all of the candidates about this issue. The responses from the winners (Daniels and Wilson) were encouraging but require follow-up:

    Daniels: “The issue of unapproved out-of-district students has been a vexing issue for BUSD for quite some time and it is certainly an issue that I hope to help the District address once I’m on the board. I’ve spent some time looking into it and I have yet to find an effective and affordable policy solution that I am comfortable with. So I very much appreciate you adding a comparative perspective. Is there data on whether Piedmont’s policies have helped with reducing unapproved out-of-district enrollments? I am always open to considering new options, especially those that have been successful in other districts. I am definitely in support of looking at how other districts do things differently than we do and it’s definitely an approach I will advocate for on the Board.”

    Wilson: “I am a proponent of enforcing residency requirements so long as it is done equitably for all students. I have two children at Berkeley High, and many of their friends do not live in Berkeley. I don’t know however if they are attending the school legitimately via inter-district transfer. Many of these particular students are high-achieving; what concerns me is the idea that we might target low-achieving and/or “discipline” problems in a selective residency enforcement program. Complicating this issue is the fact that a new state law has been passed allowing parents of children in low-performing districts (for example Oakland or Richmond) to transfer their children to schools in other districts. While the statute has been stripped of language requiring districts to accept transfers, there does have to be a showing that there is no room for the potential new students – I am not an expert on this legislation, but it appears that it will be in a factor in any attempt to enforce Berkeley’s residency policy.

    I also note that each student in the BUSD does bring revenue, namely ADA. So, when calculating the costs and benefits of out-of-district students we need to factor in both. Increased ADA supports schoolwide programs like sports, that are not sustainable absent a sizeable student population.

    Thus, in short, my answer is nuanced. Bottom line for me – if we are going to make residency enforcement a priority, we must address fairly and consistently for all students and families.”

    My take:

    * yes, it must be a priority
    * yes, fairness is key — can’t say yes to high achievers and no to low achievers/problems. We have residency requirements. Let’s enforce them in ways that can’t be trivially gamed.
    * the state law issue is interesting and deserving of study, BUT it is about potential changes to the system of *legal* transfers. The issue I’d like addressed concerns the *illegal* transfers, which are happening in violation of the law, not because of changes to it.
    * the ADA revenue issue is not something I think belongs in the discussion of illegal enrollments. BUSD should not be budgeting programs based on the number of people willing to lie, cheat, and steal their way into the district.
    * the comparative approach deserves merit because we are not operating in a vacuum. Neighboring school districts have related challenges and we can learn from their successes and failures.

  39. Whether the illegally enrolled students are this race or that economic status is irrelevant. The City of Berkeley’s resources are for its citizens and not for people in other districts who feel that the laws don’t apply to them. If you don’t like the schools where you live, move, don’t steal. If you can’t move, then get involved and make the schools where you are work for your family. If the people who run away from “failing” schools stood their ground and applied their energies to making those schools work, maybe they wouldn’t be failing schools.

    BUSD has a responsibility to ensure that the resources provided by the citizens of Berkeley are used for the benefit of the citizens of Berkeley. One very straightforward change that can be made is to make the residency screening process more robust. Contrast the documentation requirements for Piedmont and Albany with those of Berkeley.

    Piedmont: http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/district-info/enrollment
    Albany: http://www.ausdk12.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=92418&type=d&termREC_ID=&pREC_ID=173230
    Berkeley: http://www.berkeley.net/index.php?page=high-school

    Key differences:

    * Berkeley alone does not require a property deed or renter’s agreement. Note that Piedmont requires proof that the rental is a licensed unit.
    * Berkeley allows documents that the other districts *specifically disallow* (phone bills) because of how trivial it is to fake them.
    * Berkeley doesn’t require proof of termination at a previous address when presenting utility bills, as the other districts do.
    * Berkeley, unlike Piedmont, allows driver’s licenses which can be years out of date.

    The expense of in home residency checks is certainly a factor but it should be obvious to all that a significant amount of illegal enrollment can be curtailed by simply strengthening the documentation requirements at intake.

    I note that the Albany superintended published a memo (http://www.ausdk12.org/district/superintendent.jsp) addressing this issue. Note the clear definition of residency: there can be only one residency and the parent/guardian has to live there full-time (7 days/week). Grandmother/aunt with an address in Berkeley does not meet the test and families using that dodge are not in compliance.

    Stealing is stealing, folks. This issue is only complicated for those who want the law to be something other than it is, and breaking the law is not the way to effect the change you want.

  40. Apologies, Bruce. No, you are certainly not invisible. You did raise that point, and I got distracted by all the subsequent accusations. Sorry about that. I completely agree with your points. And especially the point that a lot of these kids know more about the criminal justice system than most adults who would attempt to teach them might know – a sad fact.

    @Laura – I couldn’t agree more about early intervention, provided we get the kids early enough.

  41. Sorry to overpost – just one more critical point.

    Consider that it’s true that there are many families in BUSD coming from private schools who are illegal non-residents. This is totally conceivable. If you’ve got a house in the Oakland or Richmond hills or El Cerrito, but your designated public school is underperforming, you send your kids to private. But with the economy, you suddenly can’t afford private, so you ask your friend or relative who lives in Berkeley if you can use their address. Boom – you’re kid’s in.

    So, what I’ve seen at our school with the influx of private school families (not knowing who does or doesn’t live in Berkeley) is an exponential increase in PTA donations, community connections, and highly skilled volunteer time. We can now maintain and improve programs that have been or will be eliminated by budget cuts, along with many other things we could never afford before. This is significant. If people were to insist that BUSD strictly enforce a non-resident policy across the board, which would be a must, we better know exactly what the financial outcomes of such a policy would be. Would the benefits actually outweigh the costs? I know we want things to be simple, but they just aren’t.

  42. Abigail: re: “Just by the way, missing from this entire conversation, including from me, is what is going on for these kids who are toting guns to school?”

    Jeeze, what am I, invisible? A 17 year old brought a loaded gun to campus, allegedly to settle a score.

    It is not only, as you say, a question of what the hell can we do to have less kids going that direction but ALSO is this related question:

    Suppose tomorrow, for free, unlawful registrations and lawful out of district transfers all went away — gone. You really think this is going to make Berkeley kids safer? I think that view is at least unsubstantiated and more realistically: implausible. Reinforce the walls, exclude some “false positives” and such … what goes around comes around and I think you’d be growing more violence, not less in Berkeley.

    Also, I have heard Berkeley kids talk about their understanding of prison very shortly before being shot at by rivals. They make pretty informed calculations and they know the score. They understand the criminal justice system a lot better than I think most comment makers here do. Our larger society has failed and alienated them and their community into a quite understandable kind of nihilism and a pretty impressive degree of organization.

  43. Abigail,

    “4. If a student has gotten into a fight or some kind of trouble, BUSD verifies their residence and if it’s established that they are a non-resident, they are promptly un-enrolled.

    I can guarantee this assertion is absolutely not true, and never has been the case in BUSD.

    the rest of your well meaning perspective I will let be, however naive it sounds.
    I sincerely value the fact that you deeply care.

    Early intervention should be the focus, it is possible to identify the high risk kids as early as 3rd grade. But the district would have to be willing to maintain community day programs, not flavor of the month alternative programming handing over control to the latest savior as principal.

  44. Regardless, Berkeley schools are drastically over crowded due to out of district students taking advantage of BUSD’s failure to enforce residency. There is no other district like it. Just try to get into Albany schools w/o living there. This isn’t about race, it’s Berkeley residents getting what they pay high taxes for.

  45. Just by the way, missing from this entire conversation, including from me, is what is going on for these kids who are toting guns to school? Regardless of who does or doesn’t live in Berkeley, and who does or doesn’t attend Berkeley schools, this is a community issue that affects all of us. As I’ve said, Berkeley is not a gated community, nor is our own community problem-free.

    What is driving this student and others to carry an armed weapon? And just to make sure we’re not making assumptions, gangs are a part of it, and it’s also not the entirety of it (to wit: Columbine, U of T at Austin, Millard South H.S. in WI, etc., etc.). The one thing all these incidents have in common: boys.

    What is going on with our boys? What are they needing that they’re not getting? Telling kids they could get life in prison (as someone suggested as a solution) is fine but we’re dreaming to think that’s a deterrent if (A) a kid’s life (let’s say a Berkeley resident) is being threatened by a gang member (let’s say from Richmond) and has promised to hunt him down at school, so he brings a gun as “protection” in case; or (B) the individual has so much internalized rage and anger and mental instability that he could care less if he puts his own life at risk, let alone ends up in prison.

    How is getting rid of non-residents necessarily going to address these issues? I just think it’s unrealistic to think it will. Personally, I feel strongly that a part of the plan must include addressing the challenges these boys are facing that are driving them to resort to guns. I would want to see that for ALL our sakes.

  46. @3rdGenBerkeleyan: Glad to hear you wouldn’t want to turn people in who’ve been in the system, and that you would apply the rules evenly.

    @Maureen Burke – I spoke to Irma Parker today at BHS about the BART tickets. She said some interesting things, not all specifically in regards to the BART tix:
    1. She sells $3000-$4000 worth of special youth BART tickets per month. MOST kids who purchase them are white … very few are black. I’m sure that’s irrelevant, but I found that interesting. We also don’t know the percentage of legitimately enrolled non-residents who are utilizing this program. To stop the program would probably anger a lot of people.
    2. A ton of families coming in from private schools are likely non-residents. If it’s true, I didn’t know that.
    3. There are a number of lower income “non-resident” students who are mobile … for example, if a kid’s single parent is in jail, they are hopping from grandma’s house to auntie’s house to cousin’s, etc. So the student may be a Berkeley resident this week, and an Oakland resident next week. How do you enforce that? (Just curious: did Berkeleyside look into that possibility when reporting on this particular student? Or whether this student had a parent/guardian working in Berkeley?)
    4. If a student has gotten into a fight or some kind of trouble, BUSD verifies their residence and if it’s established that they are a non-resident, they are promptly un-enrolled.

    @EBGuy – After looking at the SF policy, I think we in Berkeley need to be VERY careful about implementing something like that. At worst it would invite suspicion and erect more barriers when many of us are trying very hard to break down barriers and build trust. This kind of “confidential reporting” is utilized in police states in other countries to foster mistrust and erode communities, and it’s very effective. I’m frankly surprised SFUSD has such a program. It’s a huge school district, so I’m guessing it’s not a well-known policy, but I’d want to find out more about that.

  47. …”I would ask whether a story on a white female BUSD student who had just won an achievement award, with mention that she lived in Kensington, versus this story of a black male high school student with a gun with mention he is from Oakland, would have sparked the same type of outrage about non-residents”

    You didn’t mention wether the award was loaded or not?

  48. Abigail My kids do have friends that live outside the “district” and i also could never turn them in…
    That’s why i feel it’s so important to be very careful and visit every new student before they attend their first class so those relationships are never built to start with. and yes i would be just as upset about the white girl from kensington winning the achievement award so i would appreciate it if you didn’t imply that I’m a racist, i have family members who are black and who are Latino this has nothing to do with race at all not with me! this has to do with people breaking rules and my not wanting to educate the whole bay area, why not do away with school districts and have one big melting pot of a school district for the whole bay area? every one pays equal dollars and every school gets equal money for each kid? that’s a whole nother can o worms why do pleasanton schools get more $ per kid than oakland schools from the state?

  49. For people who are understandably feeling defensive about accusations that this discussion has racial/class overtones, I would ask whether a story on a white female BUSD student who had just won an achievement award, with mention that she lived in Kensington, versus this story of a black male high school student with a gun with mention he is from Oakland, would have sparked the same type of outrage about non-residents. If you can honestly answer yes, then I happily stand corrected.

    This thread makes me support REALM Charter School even more, by the way. I strongly prefer that the diversity within our schools remain in our schools, and that schools continue to improve on how they serve all students. But I’m seeing that a lot of these kids are genuinely under fire (yes, I’m aware of the irony of my words considering this one non-resident student had a gun); at least the less privileged students who seem to be in the cross hairs of this issue will have a legitimate place in Berkeley to go to school if they so choose – at least in the upper grades where concerns seem to be the most acute.

    This also begs the question of whether our schools are doing enough to build relationships amongst students of different backgrounds. We’re not talking just about statistics, after all. We’re talking about children, human beings, who have relationships, intelligence, feelings. For example, if we discovered that one of my child’s friends was living in Oakland, someone who’d been to our house, whose birthday parties we’d attended, whose parent or guardian I knew, there is no way I could bring myself to demand they leave our school. For that reason, I’m more relaxed about these particular rules than many of you, as I would grandfather in families whose kids have been in the schools for more than a year. (I realize I’m just one voice here.) However, I’m not opposed to enforcing admissions policies more stringently for newcomers.

  50. @EBGuy – I’m aware of BAM and Malcolm X becoming dual-zoned schools to accommodate the increase in students, and appreciate you acknowledging that the reasons for this increase are manyfold, and not due mainly to non-residents. My point is that, regardless of how few students we have in the district, there will never be a guarantee of getting into your neighborhood school as long as we have a lottery system. But your point is well taken that there are now two more schools in the mix.

    I don’t disagree that the district could be more transparent in addressing the issue of non-residents. The link to SF is helpful to show in concrete terms what people here would like to see. What I take issue with are the racially-tinged insinuations, fear-mongering rumors, skewed statistics and outrage that are present on this page, and in people’s hearts, in regards to this issue.

    “As a side benefit, you’d also find people more receptive and willing to address the issues that you brought up.”

    I’m skeptical, but I hope you’re right.

  51. So now instead of accusing the people he disagrees with of being segregation-loving racists, they’re now some sort of “subliminal racists” instead.

    I mean, who cares that posters are saying the exact opposite of that and making it clear that they don’t care what the race of the transfer students is? Who cares that Berkeley has citizens of all walks of life, ethnic backgrounds, and incomes? Who cares that their main concern is that Berkeley parcel taxes for education go towards educating Berkeley students?

    If you have a problem with Berkeley schools not doing much to cut down on out-of-district students, you must be a secret subliminal racist.

    Thank God Bruce Love & the Berkeley Thought Police is here to tell us all what we really think.

  52. EBGuy, I do know a bit about BSEP. You made the claim that 300 lawful out of district transfers into BUSD cost all Berkeley students $75 per head. Allow me to point out why your analysis and math are mistaken:

    You seem to have got that $75 number roughly like this:

    BSEP has about $21M dollars. There are about 9,500 students registered in the district. BSEP works out to about $2,211 per student. (That’s $21M divided by 9,500.)

    You used the estimate of 300 legal transfers. I thought it was more but let’s go with that. That same $21M, divided among 9,500 – 300 = 9,200 students gives us about $2,283 per student.

    So, there would be about $72 more per student in BSEP money if those 300 legal transfers “went away”. Right? Only, no, that’s not right – even if it looks like it at first glance. That’s a nonsensical way to look at the numbers.

    Explaining the main problem with your analysis requires an accounting concept. We need to talk about the “marginal cost per student for BSEP expenditures”. In other words, if one transfer student left, and all the other students got exactly the same share of BSEP benefit they currently get — there’d be some BSEP money left over. That “marginal cost per student” – the amount that would be left over – is what you are trying to estimate, right? But that method of taking the whole budget and dividing it by the number of students isn’t even close to valid. Many of the BSEP expenses are the same whether you add or remove 300 students.

    Think of a library book, for example. If there are 10 fewer students at the school – the library book costs just the same. If there are 10 more students at the school – probably there is still no student left waiting around for that particular book, The price of the book is the price of the book.

    Some expenses, like class size reduction expenditures which are the largest use of BSEP, would seem to be very sensitive to the number of transfers. Surely, N% more students mean N% more teachers? Here too, you have a problem. Class size increases attributable to lawful transfers are, by your number, around 3%. – less than one student per typical classroom. N% more students does not automatically mean N% more teachers and does not automatically mean any significant class size problems. (Also, I’m not sure but I think BSEP funds about 140 or 150 teachers or so? Even if you got rid of 4% of those you’d only eliminate at most 5 teachers. It’s incredibly unlikely you could actually achieve those savings but, supposing you do, you’re talking the equivalent of at most $10 or $20 per household per year — probably far, far less in reality.

    The evidence is strongly against the belief that 300 lawful transfer students deprive 9,200 others of $75 benefit from BSEP money.

    That is one reason why, as Abigail and I have been pointing out, the odd amount of attention given to this issue fairly and squarely invites questions about whether this issue really isn’t an example of systemic racism and classism.

    I don’t mean that anyone commenting here considers one race superior to another, if you ask them that question and they give an honest answer. I do mean that the bogus issue debate helps to promote public policy that would have systemically racist and classist effect (and no substantial benefit for Berkeley schools or public safety).

  53. What is the evidence that “overcrowding” is the reason people might not get into their neighborhood schools?
    There is certainly overcrowding in the North Zone. This is due to either: a baby boom five years ago, more families moving into the zone, transfers from private schools, out of district students. This caused BAM to be opened to North Zone residents, which in turn caused Malcom X to be opened to those in the central zone.
    This is the main reason…
    You simply don’t get it; all the taxpayers want is a little transparency, like in San Francisco:
    The use of a fraudulent address to enroll in an SFUSD public school denies equitable access to students living in San Francisco. The district has installed an Address Tipline to accept reports of suspected address fraud. You may make a confidential report by calling 415 522-6783 or by e-mailing information to AddressTipline@sfusd.edu.
    Once you have that transparency, people would be more accepting of statements about the reasons for overcrowding (and yes, I’m aware of the influx from private schools). As a side benefit, you’d also find people more receptive and willing to address the issues that you brought up.

  54. Regardless of how many former private school kids are entering the system, we still have a non-sustainable non-resident group who we simply cannot afford. I wouldn’t be surprised if this group made up 20% of kids in our schools, and anyone who says less than 10% clearly has their head in the sand. Non-residents, regardless of race, economic status, or whether they live in Kensington, Oakland or Richmond, ALL drain our resources equally. Other bay area districts have no problem limiting their public schools to 100% residents, and there is no justifiable reason why Berkeley can’t do the same. I resent what has happened to BHS science labs, athletic funding, music programs, etc. etc., all while our BSEP funds are used to benefit people who don’t live here, or more importantly, don’t pay taxes here.

  55. EBGuy says:
    “Overcrowding exasperates those who can’t get into their neighborhood schools; that is one of the reasons that this issue get so much attention.”

    What is the evidence that “overcrowding” is the reason people might not get into their neighborhood schools? As you point out, we have a lottery system that will land a number of people in a non-neighborhood school regardless of how many students are in our district. I repeat: the biggest influx of students in the last few years has been Berkeley residents coming in from private schools. This is the main reason for why we are having to build new classrooms and turn existing flex spaces into classroom spaces.

  56. it is clear that proponents of such a crackdown expect the net effect to be reflected in fewer non-white, lower-income students in BUSD.
    You, of course, mean some of the proponents; quite frankly, I’m not sure how this will skew if there is a crackdown. If San Francisco can do this, why can’t Berkeley. As I’ve shown before, the Berkeley school system is one of the highest performing districts in the East Bay when compared to other districts across like demographic groups. I have every reason to believe that BUSD attracts high performing students from neighboring cities where the schools may not be up to par or have the wealth of options found in Berkeley. Note Bill’s comments regarding Kensington (predominantly white, limited options after elementary school) and Albany (predominantly white & Asian). Illegal and legal (as defined per Abagail S. posts) transfers dilute the fixed BSEP funding pool that can be used to address the achievement gap and help improve the schools for Berkeley residents. Obviously, there is nothing that can be done about legal transfers required by law. Bruce, please tell me you know what BSEP is. If not, read up about it and explain to me why you think Berkeley residents should be funding their schools with self imposed parcel taxes for out of district students. And let’s not forget we just dug deep in our pockets for the two school bonds. Addressing the achievement gap is no small task; out of district students take away funding that should be going to Berkeley residents (who pay higher taxes or have higher rents due to BSEP). Overcrowding exasperates those who can’t get into their neighborhood schools (though there will always be folks unhappy with lottery results); that is one of the reasons that this issue get so much attention.

  57. 3rdGenBerkeleyan says: “Also just a side note most crime committed in Berkeley is by non-Berkeley Residents!!!”

    “!!!” This fear-mongering, rumor-spreading is really inappropriate. Can we please do some fact checking people? I just called BPD and spoke to the region 1 police officer, the one person who happened to be available to talk to me. He said there are no reports indicating that crime in Berkeley, or certain types of crime in Berkeley, are committed mostly by non-Berkeley residents. Call BPD yourself and let us know if you find anything different.

    I would add that we are NOT a gated community, and argue that by improving standards for all, we create more safety for all.

  58. Perhaps you’re right, Abigail. While I’m angry about any misuse of funding and government waste, I’m not as familiar with the other posters here as you seem to be.

  59. Name Withheld – I welcome examples of other issues people here are equally or more concerned about. Go for it – change my perception. I see names here pop up only on discussions related to this issue (directly or indirectly — like BART tickets), except for you, of course, Name Withheld.

  60. Berkeley Born says:
    “In my time, I’ve seen B-town schools go downhill-eventually what will happen (already happening), those that can pay will go to private schools, those that can’t will go to public schools.”

    You’ve seen them go downhill? I’m honestly very curious about this. How so? I’ve seen only steady improvement. Have you been to your local school lately to see what’s going on there?

    By the way, the group showing the biggest increase in enrollment in our public schools the last few years is middle class families coming from the private school sector. THAT’S who can’t afford private. From personal interactions and schoolwide surveys, the level of satisfaction for most of these families has been very high. In actual fact, I’ve encountered a number of people who said their children are just as happy, if not more happy, at the new public school than the old private one, and educationally they are doing great if not better. In hindsight, they say, the fears they had of public school were biased, and they wished they had been more open-minded. Of course there are also people pulled their kids out because they got a lousy teacher or a bad match, though that’s not the majority. Overall, I’ve seen directly that satisfaction is high … at least at the elementary schools.

  61. Abigail S. says: “I’m just mystified that of all the policies that need better enforcement, directly related to how taxpayer money is spent, this is THE most important issue??”

    Who said it was?

  62. Name Withheld says:
    “ ‘Battles’ like this are what we have the most control over…. It may not be a major issue, but it’s an issue we can definitely do something about.”

    So this is about control? If you want to see the results of your actions and have control, there are myriad concerns to address in our district that would benefit from the energy on this discussion board, and you WOULD see results. I’m just mystified that of all the policies that need better enforcement, directly related to how taxpayer money is spent, this is THE most important issue?? Fine, include it on the list, but if it’s a laser beam focus with this degree of outrage, you have to be willing to accept that it raises serious questions about racial/class biases.

    “And our power as citizens of Berkeley to do anything about that is extremely limited, in comparison to our power to do something about local, smaller-scale politics.”

    According to people here, things have not changed locally for years, so the notion that you have control over this really hasn’t proven to be true. I happen to disagree with the sentiment that things haven’t changed, as a comparison of the student body at the elementary schools to the student body at the high school shows a very different picture. I’m guessing most of the people here who are parents have older kids and are complaining about holdovers from the past that are still apparent mainly at BHS. From what I’ve seen in the lower grades, the district HAS been responsive to these concerns and has tightened things up considerably.

    I also disagree that we have little power over state policies. Again, if the intensity on this issue were directed towards our state politicians over the years, we’d likely be in a better situation.

  63. 3rdGenBerkeleyan says: “Also just a side note most crime committed in Berkeley is by non-Berkeley Residents!!!”

    Do you know of any reports that prove this?
    I’ve heard the same thing and it certainly seems like the majority of stories about crime in Berkeley deal with non-resident criminals, but I’m sure posters like Bruce Love will demand research papers.

  64. @ Bruce Love ––– No, Bruce, you’re accused of using straw man arguing techniques to try to paint everyone who you disagree with as a segregation-loving racist.

    Discussions *evolve* and change. The original article is about a student who brought a gun to school, but it prompted a discussion about out-of-district students. The vast bulk of comments here are simply discussing the issue of unlawful transfer students, without attributing the issue of guns in schools to these students.

    Suddenly you’re a stickler for staying on topic about *this* story when you don’t seem to particularly mind going off topic on other issues. Why? I don’t know, but it sure looks like it’s just because it suits your desire to paint everyone who disagrees with you about the issue as a racist, classist bigot.

    Will getting rid of illegal transfers stop students from bringing guns to Berkeley schools? NO.
    Does that mean that illegal transfers aren’t a problem that should be dealt with? NO.
    Is everyone who thinks illegal transfers are a problem a racist, classist bigot? NO.

  65. @BruceLove…NICE SPIN you fit right in here in Berkeley. The issue is OAKLAND kids are bringing guns to BERKELEY schools not BERKELEY kids bringing guns to BERKELEY schools…SO YES IT IS ABOUT OAKLAND KIDS BEING IN OUR SCHOOLS. Also just a side note most crime committed in Berkeley is by non-Berkeley Residents!!!

  66. To recap:

    The news: a 17 year old comes to school with a loaded gun, allegedly to “settle a score”. The student is described as an “Oakland student”.

    Discussion immediately turns to unlawful transfers, although Berkeleyside quickly confirms that there is no evidence that this student was an unlawful transfer and that the scope of any actual illegal transfer problem is a matter of dispute.

    Commenter complaints about an unconfirmed but widely rumored large problem of unlawful transfers accumulate.

    The question is raised, in reaction to that: isn’t this really about a 17 year old with a gun rather than unlawful transfers?

    An answer is offered that according to some (dubious) statistics, there are too many non-whites in the schools, allegedly evidence of large amounts of illegal transfers. Other answers remark on the sale of student discount BART tickets and of rumors passed along from kids in the schools.

    It is pointed out that none of that attempt to restore the proper racial and class balance to the schools and allegedly save the taxpayers lots of money really has much to do with the fact that a 17 year old came to the B-Tech campus with a loaded gun allegedly looking to “settle a score”. It is pointed out that by leaping from the news story to the poorly understood unlawful transfer issue, there is a racist and classist element to the discussion. Is an effort to purge illegal registrants in any way an appropriate response to a 17 year old coming to the B-Tech campus with a loaded gun allegedly looking to “settle a score”?

    Those questions go unanswered and those who ask are accused of trying to intimidate.

    A 17 year old came to the B-Tech campus with a loaded gun, allegedly looking to “settle a score”. There are plenty of indications that similar things will continue to become more rather than less common. There is no reason offered or apparent to believe that even a perfect solution to unlawful school registration will fix the problem of events like a 17 year old coming to campus with a loaded gun, allegedly looking to “settle a score”.

  67. @ lifelongberkeleyan ––– I agree. It shocks me that those who seem to support the BUSD turning a blind eye to out-of-district students also seem to be unable to discuss the issue without accusing those they disagree with of racism.

    @ Abigail: “For me, though, the real enemy is politicians who are imposing an all-out attack on public schools and education budgets.”
    And our power as citizens of Berkeley to do anything about that is extremely limited, in comparison to our power to do something about local, smaller-scale politics. This is also an issue on which I think you will find somewhere in the realm of 99% of us agree. Cutting education is bad. The sky is also blue. What is there to discuss?

    @ Abigail: “If we spend all our time fighting *battles* like this, we lose the *war,* and play right into the hands of the powers that be who want “neighbors” to fight one another instead of them as we fight over scraps.”
    “Battles” like this are what we have the most control over. We vote in State elections, take what we can get, and then have to deal with the fallout at a local level. While you seem to want to put down the importance of local politics, they give Berkeley residents a voice about Berkeley issues in a way that no State-wide election can.

    Schools in California are over-crowded.
    Schools in California are under-funded.
    The quality of education in California is abysmal.

    I doubt you will find many posters here who will disagree with any of those statements.
    The question we are faced with is how we can make do best with what little we are given, and using our limited finances to support students from other areas doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. It may not be a major issue, but it’s an issue we can definitely do something about.

  68. …”alleviate the hysteria for people for whom residence AND race/class might be issues.”

    …”For me, though, the real enemy is politicians who are imposing an all-out attack on public schools and education budgets.”

    For me the “real enemy” of progress is the (not very) subtle mau-mauing which dominates the discussion/allocation of our education resources.

  69. This has been going on forever-parents in Oakland (or Richmond) with a relative in Berkeley use that mailing address for the kid, the kid goes to Berkeley schools and benefits from better tax base and exploits general tolerance of Berkeley school system for this. This will not change as long as Berkeley is afraid to do anything that could be spun as politically incorrect or god forbid, racist (like excluding poor African American and Latino students from out of district from attending its schools). In my time, I’ve seen B-town schools go downhill-eventually what will happen (already happening), those that can pay will go to private schools, those that can’t will go to public schools. What is sad, is those parents who bought a home in Berkeley (600k) and are paying like 10k in taxes to subsidize the failed states of Oakland and Richmond. But that will not change, and if you think it will, maybe you believe MC Hammer will come out with a #1 record this year-denial-head in sand….

  70. 3rdGenBerkeleyan says:

    “Also if I’m not mistaken all three ‘incidences’ of guns at Berkeley High all involved NON-BERKELEY RESIDENTS so someone explain to me how 3 for 3 doesn’t mean that the
    ‘RUMORED’ out of district students aren’t having a NEGATIVE IMPACT…Copeland,anybody?”

    Speaking of RUMORS. Can you explain where you got the information that all these students are non-Berkeley residents? I have scoured the reports and there is no mention that I can find, other than the above article, which refers to 1 out of 3. Maybe someone else here is in the know … but this kind of fear-mongering (not fear of guns; fear of non-residents), combined with rumors and assumptions, combined with CAPITALS, borders on hysteria.

  71. I am all for rules and enforcing them. What troubles me about this discussion, and makes it feel like a witch hunt, is that there are many rules that have been disregarded over the years and continue to be, but why does this one in particular get so much traction?

    Where were these cries of outrage all the years our school janitor was (illegally) doing the translation for IEPs; when all the professionals required to attend an IEP customarily didn’t show or weren’t even informed of the appointments, and parents had no idea what their rights were; when the School Governance Councils functioned out of compliance in all manner of ways (strongly influencing how tax payer monies were spent); when legally mandated ELD for English Learners was not in any way, shape, or form being implemented, … the list goes on. These are issues I’ve battled and been completely isolated in addressing, despite much reaching out, while the non-resident issue seems to always be part of the soundtrack. Finally there is movement on these other issues as more people have stepped up.

    So … outrage away, but I hope people are applying their outrage consistently to other critical issues as well.

    And while we’re at it – I have a hard time swallowing that the true enemies are some kids in our system from neighboring schools whose parents really want the best for them, whether they come from a privileged family in Kensington or a poor family in Richmond. Fine if you want to figure out who they are, how many there are, and how to expunge them – more power to you. I don’t doubt there are students who are in outright violation of regulations; but many non-residents – if you review the Ed Code sections above – also have every right to be here. So careful with assumptions when someone says they live in a neighboring city.

    An addendum – REALM Charter School is drawing students at the 6th and 8th grade levels who are most affected by the Achievement Gap, from Berkeley, but not restricted to Berkeley (as per charter law). So perhaps as REALM absorbs those students from BUSD, that will help alleviate the hysteria for people for whom residence AND race/class might be issues. I hope that’s not anyone here. I, for one, will be sad for my child to lose friends to separate schools.

    For me, though, the real enemy is politicians who are imposing an all-out attack on public schools and education budgets. If we spend all our time fighting *battles* like this, we lose the *war,* and play right into the hands of the powers that be who want “neighbors” to fight one another instead of them as we fight over scraps. Do what you must, but let’s not forget the bigger picture.

  72. Also if I’m not mistaken all three “incidences” of guns at Berkeley High all involved NON-BERKELEY RESIDENTS so someone explain to me how 3 for 3 doesn’t mean that the
    “RUMORED” out of district students aren’t having a NEGATIVE IMPACT…Copeland,anybody?

  73. Wether or not fraudulently registered students are contributing factors to safety or budget problems, they, and their parents, are committing a fraud against the community which enacted the registration policies. That in itself is just cause to enforce the remedies provided in the regulations. The current registration policies reflect the public will. That they have been largely ignored is one more example the self righteous improvisation on the law which many at BUSD and City offices have mastered.

  74. @lifelong,

    On the law and enforcement: so… bed checks? what? It’s not as black and white as you suggest.

    On benefits: look, I’m as much in favor as anyone of basic rule of law. That’s fine. What I am skeptical of is how this particular kind of issue comes up again and again whenever there is concern about safety or budget. It is one thing to say that there are some unlawfully registered students – another thing entirely to cite that as an important contributing factor to safety problems or budget problems. There is not, as you say, a burden of proof to enforce the regulation but there sure as heck is a burden of proof if you are going to claim, in a context like this story about a gun — that the unlawful registration issue is the priority towards a solution.

    re: “As one privileged to pay taxes supporting BUSD, I am prejudiced against the fraud committed by violators of the registration policies.”

    As you should be. But I don’t think you have any credible objective evidence of quantifying the problem and thus justifying the emphasis it is given in budget debates. The problem as presented in the public debate has had the form of mutually conflicting rumor and innuendo for years and years.

  75. WELL SAID LIFELONGBERKELEYAN ! rules and laws are in place for a reason…not to be broken ! don’t like the rules then change them, but until then it is not my obligation to educate kids from all over the bay area I DON’T CARE WHAT RACE THEY ARE i pay taxes for Berkeley
    public schools not Richmond or Oakland.

  76. …”What I think we need here to avoid rehashing the same debates that have gone round in circles for the past decade or so is:..

    Here is the beauty of this moment. We haven’t had this debate, a public debate, unfrozen from platitudes, grounded in cost, alive with the voices of those paying, not just those getting. City council aspirants take heed: There’s a vital constituency here, looking for a public voice(s).

    …”careful legal analysis of what constitutes an unlawful registration.”
    Our school registration policies as enacted are the product of careful legal analysis. What constitutes an unlawful registration is as clearly presented in these regulations as in any other violation of public policy.

    …”careful legal analysis of what constitutes constitutionally permissible enforcement.”
    Constitutionally permissible enforcement procedures are already a part of these regulations. Approaching all enforcement procedures of public policy regulations with a demand for constitutional analysis makes passing laws irrelevant.

    …”a promise of how this will benefit the school district combined with a strategy for testing that promise”
    There is no burden to prove the benefit of removing violators of the registration policies, beyond the goals of the policy itself.

    …”Otherwise, it’s just a witch hunt likely to harm the most vulnerable in service of the prejudices of the privileged.”
    ‘most vulnerable?’ It seems some of them are pretty well armed.
    ‘prejudices of the privileged.’
    As one privileged to pay taxes supporting BUSD, I am prejudiced against the fraud committed by violators of the registration policies.

  77. Some people say “crack down on illegal intra-district transfers! that’s the problem! that’s a big part of the budget and a big part of the crime problem!”

    That is an interesting claim.

    Examined further, looking at things like Maureen’s mis-use of statistics and the many, many comments on the topic in various forums, it is clear that proponents of such a crackdown expect the net effect to be reflected in fewer non-white, lower-income students in BUSD.

    Proponents of that expunging seem quick to point out that they are not targeting ethnic groups or economic classes — they just insist on a rule of law principle that fraudulent registrations are, well, unlawful. Period. If that happens to fall along racial and economic class lines, well, that is (in their view) beside the point. Berkeley taxpayers shouldn’t be subsidizing the education of non-Berkeley kids in that way.

    Fine.

    What I think we need here to avoid rehashing the same debates that have gone round in circles for the past decade or so is:

    * careful legal analysis of what constitutes an unlawful registration

    * careful legal analysis of what constitutes constitutionally permissible enforcement

    * scientific demonstration of the scope of the problem relative to the cost of proposed remedies

    * plausible analysis of “what happens next” in terms of public safety and how this is an improvement

    * a promise of how this will benefit the school district combined with a strategy for testing that promise

    * some analysis of what we expect to happen if we make it harder for kids and their families in the less privileged regions of our neighboring cities.

    Otherwise, it’s just a witch hunt likely to harm the most vulnerable in service of the prejudices of the privileged.

  78. Maureen, I was going to say something similar to what Bruce Love said. Those numbers aren’t meaningful without information about the numbers and ethnicities of Berkeley residents sending their children to private school. For example, if you’ve got a preponderance of white kids choosing private instead of public, then the percentages of other ethnicities in the public school population will increase as the percentage of white students will decrease. This kind of comparison also makes racial implications that may or may not be accurate.

    Also, these overall numbers don’t reflect the drastic changes in demographics (increased gentrification) we are seeing in the lower grades compared to the upper grades.

  79. My understanding is that attendance in Berkeley was down during the dot com boom, so the district at that time loosened the intra-district transfer policies allowing more non-resident students, presumably in the hopes of increasing ADA.

    Now that the economy has reversed, the picture is drastically different, and BUSD has tightened admissions. We are bursting at the seams with students, in large part due to an influx of private school families who lost scholarships and/or could no longer afford tuition at a private school.

    So whatever advantages were hoped for in increasing ADA in the past are no longer relevant. Additionally, I believe past superintendent Michelle Lawrence did an analysis and discovered that increasing intra-district transfers didn’t in fact benefit BUSD financially, so she and the School Board began to tighten admissions policies. I believe most out-of-district students in BUSD are holdovers of those past looser policies, hence are mainly in the upper grades.

    Those inter-district agreements were a maximum of 5 years per student at a time: “The governing boards of two or more school districts may enter into an agreement, for a term not to exceed five school years, for the interdistrict attendance of pupils who are residents of the districts.” (Ed Code 46600. (a) (1) http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/code/getcode.html?file=./edc/46001-47000/46600-46611 )

    However, “It is within the authority of either the home district or the receiving district to revoke an interdistrict transfer/reciprocal agreement at any time for any reason the local board or district superintendent deems appropriate. 

If a request for an interdistrict transfer/reciprocal agreement is denied, the student’s parents/guardians may file an appeal to the county office of education in the student’s district of residence within 30 days of receipt of the official notice of denial of the transfer.” ( http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/di/fq/districttransfers.asp )

    In other words, with appeals and such, removing non-resident students from BUSD could become a time consuming and potentially costly process for the district involving lawyers, etc.

    Other permitted non-residents discussed in Ed Code include children who have been in a foster care home in the city of Berkeley, who have a legal guardian or caregiver living in Berkeley, or who have at least one parent or guardian who works in Berkeley. (Ed Code 48204; http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=edc&group=48001-49000&file=48200-48208 )

    In the employment situation “the pupil does not have to reapply in the next school year to attend a school within that district and the district governing board shall allow the pupil to attend school through grade 12 in that district if the parent or legal guardian so chooses and if at least one parent or the legal guardian of the pupil continues to be physically employed by an employer situated within the attendance boundaries of the district…” (Section 48203)

    “This subdivision does not require the school district within which at least one parent or the legal guardian of a pupil is employed to admit the pupil to its schools.” However, “a school district shall not … refuse to admit a pupil on the basis … of race, ethnicity, sex, parental income, scholastic achievement, or any other arbitrary consideration.”
    (Ed Code 48204 b )

    The district may prohibit such students (who have a parent/guardian employed in Berkeley) “if the governing board of the district determines that the transfer would negatively impact the court-ordered or voluntary desegregation plan of the district.” (Ed Code 48204 (b)(2) ) or
    “if the district determines that the additional cost of educating the pupil would exceed the amount of additional state aid received as a result of the transfer.” (Ed Code 48204 (b) (3) )

    ADA formulas ensue about prohibiting the transfer of too many students out of the district at once.

    If a child in foster care changes from a Berkeley residence to a non-Berkeley residence then “the local educational agency serving the foster child shall allow the foster child to continue his or her education in the school of origin for the duration of the academic school year.” (Ed Code 48853.5 d)

    So there are many situations by which a “non-resident” might be legally entitled to attend Berkeley schools. BUSD is obviously obligated to adhere to these laws no matter what the sentiments of people in the community may be. However, negotiations with other districts to encourage multiple transfers into BUSD have likely been drastically curtailed. At least that’s my understanding.

    One final note, for the sake of avoiding stereotypes and assumptions, I would just add that BUSD “non-residents” cross all lines and include the full range ethnically (black, Latino, pan-Asian, white), economically, scholastically, behaviorally, and geographically, just as our BUSD ‘residents’ do. So whatever policies are enforced need to be enforced evenly. This may be obvious, but I think it’s worth repeating.

  80. Bruce,

    The figures are for BUSD, not BHS. They are given only as a general indicator of the number of out of district students as it compares to the 300 inter-district transfers mentioned above. All of us who have volunteered in the schools over the years (try volunteering at the BHS attendance office for an eye-opener on where kids live) and whose children became friends with their classmates can attest to the fact that a significant number of the students in the classes are out of district.

  81. How can Copland say there is no impact…we donate Pencils,Paper,pencil sharpeners,art supplies,etc. all the time because “the district has no money” WELL I HAVE AN IDEA GET RID OF THE NON-BERKELEY KIDS CONSOLIDATE THE SCHOOLS AND BINGO YOU HAVE PLENTY OF “MONEY”. You’ll need fewer teachers,janitors,maintenance people,administration,
    also fewer classrooms= lower utility bills, lower maintenance costs, no more over crowding no more talk of needed expansion/portable buildings SHOULD I STOP OR KEEP GOING? THE EFFECTS ARE ENDLESS SO I THINK COPLAND NEEDS TO GET HIS HEAD OUT OF THE SAND AND TAKE A REAL LOOK INTO THE SCHOOLS, I personally would be happy to show him or anyone else around and point out the effects & impact. I am a 3rd generation Berkeley public schools product…out of town students have been a problem since the 70’s
    i personally had many school friends who lived out of town and so do my children, so this is not some made up myth THIS IS A FACT! I agree with another commenter we should only vote someone into office downtown who will make this his/hers priority!

  82. The out of town issue is real as I am certainly aware of students whose parents live in Kensington Albany and Oakland.

  83. @Maureen,

    Your statistics are problematic. I think they show nothing other than BHS enrollment looks not terribly distorted at all. One problem is that you are comparing overall population figures to high school enrollment. You must ask how the ethnic groups differ in age representation. Another problem is that you haven’t in any way attempted to control for how the ethnic groups differ in tendencies to use private schools instead. So forth.

  84. I think until recently, BUSD actually made money by having out of district students. But that has changed.

  85. It’s informative to compare population breakdown in the city to that in the school district. BUSD has 7.9% Asian, 21.4% Hispanic/Latino, 24% African American and 31.7% White students (09-10 school year: http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us). City of Berkeley has 16.4% Asian, 9.7% Hispanic/Latino, 13.6% African American and 59.2% White residents (from 2000 census but the 2010 census figures will be available soon). BUSD has about 9,000 students. It annoyed me no end that the Parent Resource Center at BHS, funded by our BSEP dollars, devoted itself to selling BART tickets to out of district kids.

  86. Don’t forget that when the first gun incident happened this year, the principal and superintendent both said the most important thing – separating the kid and the gun – had happened. What about the second most important thing, i.e., holding the kid until the police arrived. When you have administrators making claims that everyone was safe, even though a kid brought a gun to school and eluded arrest, why shouldn’t their spokesman make the claim that out of district kids don’t have any real negative impact on Berkeley schools?

  87. I am sick and tired of paying for non-Berkeley kids to go to school in Berkeley. I think this would be an excellent position for any politician to run on and I would gladly vote for them. If you run your story, please let us know which politicians will stand by honest folk and want to clean the rolls of out of town liars and cheats who are stealing from the Berkeley school system. That way, we know how to vote in the future.

  88. I can’t wait for Bruce to come back with his “Oh, who, me?” claims about how what he really meant was segregation by *area* and how he wasn’t really saying people were being racist, he just meant that it wasn’t fair to say that Berkeley schools should only be for Berkeley residents.

  89. @ Bruce ––– Segregation? Really? Where is anyone OTHER THAN YOU singling out specific ethnicities or suggesting that we segregate our schools? Is it really impossible for you to discuss this issue without declaring that anyone who disagrees with you is a racist?

    Every time you start to seem like a sensible, rational human being you start up with more of this ridiculous straw man garbage.

  90. Will the gun toting fool face immediate expulsion from BUSD? Will the parents face an consequences? When will BUSD require everyone at the high schools to pass through security with metal detectors? We have been very lucky that none of these incidents has resulted in injury at school. The time to be more pro-active is before something terrible happens. I’d like to hear a strong statement from BUSD about their policy on dealing with students who bring lethal weapons to school property. I’d also like to hear something from the DA about prosecuting anyone that brings a gun to a school. If students knew that they (and their parents) would face serious consequences, maybe they wouldn’t bring guns to our public schools.

  91. So, basically, several of you are taking your most careful look at these serious problems that afflict our region. You are cognizant of the economic, cultural, environmental, racial factors at play. You probably have some sense of the systemic devastation experienced by many poor people, not least black folks. You quite rightly have deep concerns on the impact of these region wide problems on the public purse and on public safety. You have some sense of US history both long term and recent. You probably can’t be expected to have a lot of empathy for want of personal experience from “the other side” but at least you have some evidential notion of what produces the circumstances we find ourselves in.

    You take this all in. Roll it around in your head. And then, regarding what you figure are problems associated with a few kids who (by your assumption) live walking distance away but across a border… you conclude:

    Hey, segregation is failing and needs to be shored up – that’s the main take-away from this story about a kid bringing a gun to school.

    You expect that to make Berkeley safer. You expect that to significantly help the school budget. You figure that there’s Here and There and difference between is the central issue – the main cause of problems – the line to enforce – the border of segregation – the wall to build – the checkpoints to install. Because that’ll make everything safer and more affordable.

    No wonder the schools are so messed up.

  92. This is an issue Berkeleyside is well aware of and we have talked numerous times about how to do a story on it. We hope to do a story soon and will ask all the questions people are posing. I thought it would be interesting to post the district’s response to the question of why this student lives in Oakland. Since his name is not public, Coplan had to give a general answer.

  93. Copland said the rumored out of districts students do not have any real negative impact on BUSD. As long as they are not discipline problems, or are disruptive “we’re really hard pressed to see any negative impact,” said Coplan.
    By my (very) rough calculations, an out of district student gets $2,300+ of BSEP funds. These come directly from local parcel taxes to support the Berkeley school system. This means that every four non-Berkeley students (high or low performing, it doesn’t matter) take one dollar of BSEP funding away from every child in the district. So 300 out-of-district students deprive each and every resident student of $75 of educational funding. Perhaps someone with better insight into school funding formulas can comment. Obviously, BSEP funds have targeted goals so the per pupil numbers are just a proxy for the negative effects of out of district students. Perhaps I’m being too harsh and Copland is right. The out of district students don’t have a negative effect on BUSD, just on Berkeley taxpayers (see BSEP and the recently passed bond measure — build it and they will come).

  94. I don’t see how Mr. Coplan can make that statement with a straight face. Have your reporter ask BHS how many BART tickets they sell. Or ask the school admins how many parent mailings are returned as undeliverable. Find out how many science labs could be offered, or athletic teams funded, if our tax dollars weren’t spent on out-of-district students. How many students are not permitted attend their neighborhood schools, or enroll in the BHS small school of their choice, because seats are awarded to non-residents. This is a huge problem, and as journalists you are remiss at not pressing for honest answers.

  95. “Copland said the rumored out of districts students do not have any real negative impact on BUSD. ”

    Oh yeah, that’s right, except when they’re bringing guns to school to threaten other students and disrupt the entire school day, or, perhaps more to the point, performing so abysmally on tests that the entire City of “Berkeley” is then castigated as having an “achievement” gap.

  96. “Copland said the rumored out of districts students do not have any real negative impact on BUSD. As long as they are not discipline problems, or are disruptive “we’re really hard pressed to see any negative impact,” said Coplan.”

    Wow. Frances– or someone. Please press these questions further. The “rumors” as Mr. Copland calls them are true. There are a lot of kids in BUSD are not residents and not out-of-district transfers. The “negative impact,” as another commentator has said, is that they take places in schools that are denied to other kids and they take resources. (The thing Copland says the district doesn’t have to enforce residency requirements.) Some–not all by any stretch–are discipline problems and disruptive. My child is on an athletic team and fully half of the ten members live in Oakland.

    As Jonathan Kozol and others have demonstrated, our school funding system results in “Savage Inequalities.” But it is the system we have. Why don’t the parents who are unhappy with Oakland schools demand better ones?

    Or at least make them be honest about it and admit that they willingly turn a blind eye. But don’t dismiss them as “rumors” and say that it doesn’t create problems. That’s BS.

  97. It’s hard to know how I feel about these incidents. On one hand, there appears to be a youth cultural developing that thinks its unacceptable for your peers to bring a gun to school. In all three incidents, the perpetrators were stopped because a student brought them to a trusted adult’s attention (in the morning). I also wonder how much social media (or, at the very least, a more interconnected youth culture — texting, etc.) plays into preventing incidents from happening as news of a possible conflict spreads before a crime can be committed. Obviously, it’s still disheartening to see that a youth would have access to a gun and feel they can bring it to a school.

  98. Wow, great question, Lauren!

    I didn’t notice that in the story the first time I read it.
    Pretty ridiculous if you ask me. Let Oakland take care of their own kids. We don’t need them.

  99. I just spoke with Mark Coplan of the BUSD to ask why an Oakland resident is attending a Berkeley school. He said that the district has about 300 students who got out of district transfers to Berkeley and this student may be one of them. In addition there are a number of students who live with their grandmothers or other relatives in Berkeley but who have parents who live elsewhere. They sometimes stay with the out of town parent.
    BUSD does employee someone who checks on the addresses of students but usually these are targeted searches. The “detective” makes sure people using the caregiver exemption are telling the truth. When a student gets into discipline issues and someone points out they live outside of Berkeley, then the district may also do an address check.
    But the district does not routinely investigate every address. It doesn’t have the person power. Copland said the rumored out of districts students do not have any real negative impact on BUSD. As long as they are not discipline problems, or are disruptive “we’re really hard pressed to see any negative impact,” said Coplan.

  100. No, anonymous. It is never *ever* okay to bring a gun to school. If you’re getting bullied you deal with the district. If the district won’t help then go higher up or change schools. If you’re being bullied to the point that bringing a gun sounds like a good idea, you are too mentally unstable to be even near one.

  101. THE BIGGER QUESTION IS…why is a Oakland kid going to Berkeley schools? Berkeley cannot afford to educate the whole bay area any more ! when are home visits going to start? my berkeley children can’t even get into our neighborhood school because so many kids from outside cities are attending Berkeley schools (Oakland,San Pablo,Richmond,El Cerrito, Kensington) when will it stop? Albany school district said enough is enough and started doing home visits when will Berkeley start? Also all of these Gun incidents involve kids not from Berkeley!

  102. Children need to be more educated about the Criminal Justice System in America.

    Unless he’s standing up for himself against bullies & harassment that the school’s administrators won’t do anything about, a kid who thinks a gun is a good way to settle a weekend dispute probably doesn’t understand what’s going to happen to him if he gets caught.

Comments are closed.