BHS Principal Pasquale Scuderi held a press conference outside the portable building where a gun was fired on campus. Photos: Tracey Taylor

Berkeley High School Principal Pasquale Scuderi held a press conference at 1:40 p.m. today about the two incidents of guns being found on the Berkeley High campus today. In the first case the gun was fired through the wall of a portable building housing men’s bathrooms; in the other a student was found to have a gun in his backpack.

Scuderi said it had been an unsettling day on campus. “Having a gun on campus is a very serious matter,” he said. He confirmed three BHS students had been arrested and that, following school procedure, they would all automatically be given a one-year expulsion.

Bullet hole with police tape on wall of men’s bathrooms at BHS

At the time of the press conference, Scuderi had not sent out an email to parents notifying them of the incidents. He informed students and staff with an intercom message before lunch.

Scuderi said having two concurrent firearm incidents as well as a power outage at the school had complicated matters. Power was restored on the campus at about midday, according to BUSD spokesperson Mark Coplan. At 2:29 p.m. Scuderi emailed the BHS community. He wrote: “I realize that there are tremendous concerns about this morning’s incidents at BHS involving another firearm. I am in the process of crafting a detailed note to you all and will have it out by 3:00 p.m.”

Coplan confirmed that the tip about a second gun being concealed on campus emerged during the investigation of the two students who were arrested in connection with the first incident. The second gun was unloaded, he said.

Scuderi said he would be holding a series of meetings with students to talk about the severity of the situation when students carry guns. “We will have small teams of staff go into every history classroom and talk to students in an intimate setting — not a school assembly — about what it means to have weapons,” he said.

He said the school would also be implementing an anonymous telephone hot-line, the system for which, coincidentally, had arrived in his office this morning. He added that he would also organize a forum for parents to address the issues surrounding these incidents.

Update, 3:55 p.m.: Principal Scuderi sent out an email to BHS parents and community at 3:40 p.m. in which he detailed the incidents of today. He writes: “Obviously today marks a most concerning trend with weapons being brought on to our campus. Our concern is heightened by the fact that this time a weapon was discharged. In response to this incident BHS will increase safety staff and supervision until spring break as we review this situation, and all related situations, in order to craft a comprehensive intervention for this most unsettling series of incidents.” Read the full email.

Related:
Gun shot fired at Berkeley High School, no injuries
A second gun found on Berkeley High campus in a day

Tracey Taylor

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...

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86 Comments

  1. There are people commenting on this who are so out of touch with reality it’s incredible. I, a BHS senior, have had a first hand look at the recent incidents, and as a senior I know how different responses might affect the BHS community. Let me say first off that I feel completely safe on campus, and the incidents recently haven’t changed that. The staff will handle these incidents and your paranoid, panicked parental advice should not affect how they deal with the problem. Secondly, part of what makes Berkeley high a unique and especially great place to learn is the fact that we have an open campus. Being able to, for instance, skip ceramics to study for an AP history test at the Berkeley Public Library has actually helped me tremendously in my 4 years at BHS. Take this away, you’re taking away what BHS is all about – freedom and individuality, and the combination of the two. On a simply logistical level, it takes the Oakland Int’l airport 20 minutes to scan 3000 people with 20 metal detectors and 100 staff manning the metal detectors. There are 3600 kids at BHS. We need to get to class on time. Enough said.

    Let the staff handle this problem, leave your weird over-privelaged semantics out of it, and get on with your life. Maybe your kid will actually learn something from this experience.

  2. As a student as BHS, I would like to point out that it may be a positive sign that kids are being reported to have guns. I know that certain kids have brought guns to school in the past and have not been found out, so to me, the fact that the school is more aware of the issue is a good sign. It also indicates that students are speaking up because they trust the administration and Mr. Scuderi to take care of the issue.

    Speaking for myself, I have always felt safe at school and the recent gun incidents, quite frankly, have not changed that. I do not feel that it is “child abuse” for my parents to save $25,000 a year and put me in public school.

  3. Alina,

    do you feel the same about neuroscience “experts” and the research on adolescent brain development and judgment? Are you a parent?

    I will never forget a meeting with school board members, principal, VP, and some community members, when I stated that I felt the school system panders too much to protesting youth who are not sufficiently informed or mature enough to be in charge. Two of the VPs broke out clapping. One of them had suffered a broken arm when an a non-student came on campus seeking a student they intended to beat.

    Look, this crisis requires a crisis level response, when there is a fire we do send in building code inspectors. BHS is at a crossroads, they either take corrective actions and implement effective violence suppression measures or they continue to as them have for years MANAGING the community perspectives about school safety.

    The facts speak loudly. And at this point in time, any administrator (referring to student comments earlier) who cannot acknowledge the mistakes BHS has made which has brought us to this crisis does not earn my trust.

  4. As a psychologist who has worked with teens for many years I have seen a handful of campus related shootings and/or stabbings take place. While some of these have clearly been premeditated, most have not. Instead, these tragic events take place because an adolescent has the means (a weapoon) to act out more aggressively than he/she might otherwise if a weapon was not on his/her person. Ie, a fist fight is clearly much less dangerous than a confrontation that leads to the use of a weapon. It is not a matter of either using metal detectors or not. But more a case of comprehensive, ongoing interventions aimed at better conflict resolution between teens and better communication between students and staff/parents. EVERYONE must get much more invested in preventing violence ALL THE TIME. Teens are NOT safe when guns, or other weapons, are on campus. Those who say they feel safe are simply fooling themselves. It is all too easy to simply be at the wrong place at the wrong time…..

  5. I’m a Junior at Berkeley High and I think that metal detectors are just a waste of money and will only hurt the Berkeley High environment. Today Ms.Fry ( The IB Vice Principal) came into our history class to talk to us about the incident and it’s sort of funny that out of all the people i’ve talked to about the incident only 1 was actually scared… I understand your concern as parents fearing for your childs safety but not even Ms.Fry said that she believed that metal detectors aren’t going to help very much. In fact she said that some studies even show that metal detectors increase the # of guns on a schools campus because kids bring them on just to “fight the system.” and “prove that they can” The fact is that we live in an urban environment with 2 neighboring cities with high crime rates. Kids come in from these cities and maybe they need a gun to feel safe walking home afterschool which is a shame. We shouldn’t focus on putting money into metal detectors we should be trying to fix the problems in the other cities to create a safer environment for all these kids not just the ones at Berkeley High… This isn’t a school problem its a big problem for Alameda County…

  6. I just want to give a shout out to the BHS students who are taking the time to express their opinions on this! Thank you for being engaged, smart, and good spellers 🙂 Please do not feel discouraged by dismissive comments. Unfortunately public discourse is not always civil. Moderate voices are often drowned out by the shouting, hyperbole, and arrogance of the ‘experts’. Many times I have an opinion but choose not to express it because I am put off by the vitriol in public discourse. And that’s too bad… we should be more engaged. So please keep at it 🙂 We want to hear from you.

  7. “BTW vis a vis bhsstudent’s statistics if one BHS student is killed by a gun on campus, it’s only 0.0003% of the student body. No big deal.”

    Luckily, at Berkeley High School we have been taught to both recognize and discard the usage of the straw man fallacy.

  8. If only it were that simple. Unfortunately, the money designated for certain projects is often diverted to balance some other deficit. Remember the animal shelter bond? Do we have a new animal shelter? Nope. Then there’s the issue of security staff. If everyone is correct, it may be impossible to achieve the kind of security people expect, regardless of the money spent due to the number of factors involved: students, staff, outsiders, security staff, etc.

  9. I agree.

    I’m not a fan of new parcel taxes, but I’d vote for a sensible one that aimed at improving security at Berkeley schools.

  10. @ Sharkey -I ABSOLUTELY AGREE WITH YOU! And I would be willing to contribute my hard earned wages for metal detectors…ANYONE ELSE IN WITH ME??? So, there, BHS Administration/Mr. Supt, here I am taking responsibility…when can I write the check???

    sharkeys comment:“The responsibility for school security falls on the adult tax paying and voting community…”
    WTF are you talking about?
    I’m pretty sure that if I tried to come onto campus and enforce school security I’d be kicked off campus and possibly even arrested.
    The responsibility for school security falls on the school’s administrators.

    I ABSOLUTELY AGREE WITH YOU! And I would be willing to contribute my hard earned wages for metal detectors…ANYONE ELSE IN WITH ME??? So, there, BHS Administration,
    here I am taking responsibility…when can I write the check???

  11. I’d like to know how/whether the recent gun incidents relate to other criminal activity in Berkeley, like the recent armed robberies around North Berkeley Bart and gang activity in South Berkeley/North Oakland. It strikes me that there could be an opportunity to address multiple problems with guns and violence in Berkeley with a coordinated approach. Some of the comments from BHS students make it sound like the problem individuals are well known. If so, it would seem that BUSD and BPD should be cooperating to gather information as part of the post-incident outreach.

    A few months ago, I heard a story on NPR about how the US Military is using social network analysis to identify networks of people responsible for planting roadside bombs. The story is linked here: http://www.npr.org/2010/12/03/131755378/u-s-connects-the-dots-to-catch-roadside-bombers

    Its a fascinating concept (to me, anyway). Its perfectly intuitive, and would seem to have direct application to reducing gang violence and criminal activity.

  12. Kylie and other BHS students,

    Consider this incident and what it says about the social norms of BHS culture.

    Hundreds of teens knew or heard rumors about which of their fellow students was responsible for this murder. They chose to remain silent for over three years attending class and graduated with the suspect in this horrific murder. Horrific because if the teens attending this party had just dialed 9-1-1 Juan Carlos Ramos probably would be alive today. BHS teens failed in two substantial ways during this crisis, as they also did
    during the 2008 Galvin St lick party when BHS teens preferred to blame a fellow student as the snitch and sided with the thugs who robbed them. Those same thugs robbed people, sold drugs and guns near Longfellow school and hung out regularly on the Milvia side of BHS during school hours undeterred by safety staff or administrators. BHS administrators refused to obtain restraining orders which is the tool that allow police officers to remove these offenders from the school perimeter.

    here is a news brief about the murder of Juan

    Arrest Made In 2006 Homicide At House Party

    Berkeley, California (Wednesday, February 25, 2009) – A little over three years from the crime, City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) Homicide detectives have secured an arrest and charges for the suspect responsible for the 2006 murder of Juan Carlos Ramos of El Cerrito. On February 24, 2009, Justin Michael Johnson, 19, was charged with one count of PC 187 (a) – Murder and three counts of PC 245 (a)(1) – Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Johnson was arrested in the state of South Carolina and is awaiting extradition to Alameda County.

    On Friday, February 10, 2006 around 11:30 p.m., Ramos who was 18 years old at the time was stabbed at a house party at a private home on the 700 block of Contra Costa Avenue in North Berkeley. Three other partygoers were also stabbed, but all survived their wounds. Until recently, the case remained open and no substantive leads or new witnesses had emerged that could secure an arrest in the case. The crime haunted the Ramos family and had frustrated detectives.

    Soon after the 2006 death, BPD detectives interviewed dozens of students from Berkeley, Albany and El Cerrito High Schools in attempts to gather information for the investigation. Detectives were alerted to MySpace chatter soon after the crime that encouraged partygoers not to talk to police regarding the case. In the weeks following the crime, BPD personnel continued to encourage witnesses and their parents to come forward.

    Recently, detectives began reaching out again to witnesses and requested to re-interview them. Although the witnesses were still resistant, detectives were able to gain enough cooperation, which led to Johnson being named as the suspect.

    Press Contact: Mary Kusmiss, Public Information Officer, (510) 981-5780

    Folks pull your heads up out of the sand and have some courage……..

  13. Do you folks get it, as I posted last year during the Slemp mess, this change in notifying the community of incidents that rise to a police referral level is the result of 2-3 formal complaints up through local channels and then to the county and CDE by a few committed parent advocates demanding the district be accountable. Scuderi was a VP and then a district official during this time. It took us a few years of fighting for this one concession to improving transparency and school safety. The district did not wake up one day and bother to care,
    we had to struggle long and hard.

  14. @bhsalumni: ‘…trolling the blogshpere for *fear*’?! Me thinks not. If you think this is about sitting back and having some academic debate about the gun problem at BHS then I am afraid! We have a problem here at BHS that needs to action. And I am more than ‘truly involved in the BHS community’….
    @BHS Mom: the ‘death spiral’ is on a doorstep. It’s not about metal detectors. It will be when luck has run out and the next incident involves someone getting injured or killed.
    And yes, Scuderi is doing a great job keeping the community informed.

  15. BHS Mom says: “My question is whether there are actually more guns on campus now, or just now they’re being caught?”

    Good point. For all we know, Principal Scuderi is doing an excellent job and handguns that might gone unnoticed in the past are now being quickly found thanks to things he’s done.

    Metal detectors are definitely a bad idea, but maybe BUSD needs to do a better job of identifying “problem” students and separating them from the main student body.

  16. @BerkeleyHigh1999
    So the answer is “Keep your head down, don’t snitch?”
    Hey I don’t go to Berkeley High, so it’s not MY problem.

    BTW vis a vis bhsstudent’s statistics if one BHS student is killed by a gun on campus, it’s only 0.0003% of the student body. No big deal.

    And asking the Principal what protocols are in place at BHS is hardly “rhetorical.” If the administration and school board don’t pay attention to what members of the community, including you, bhsstudent and the other students posting here are saying, they are not doing their job.

  17. My question is whether there are actually more guns on campus now, or just now they’re being caught? I know that Principal Scuderi has the trust of the students. It’s possible that things are safer now than before, since now the students have told him about the firearms. We may not have more guns, just more knowledge. I think his approach of working with the students is absolutely right.

    I would hate to see metal detectors, as it seems like a death spiral. Even though I had a kid in the portables at the time of this incident, I want to be sure we don’t jump to conclusions.

  18. Kylie,

    says “We know what goes on in our school better than anyone else.”

    I am not going to debate you on this point here, but I can assure you this is not an accurate statement despite the popular adherence to this belief. I might consider a meeting over tea to properly inform you of what you could not understand unless you were engaged in this matters over time and within the context of multi -agency responsibility.

    I am the primary person responsible for reinstating the safety committee back in 2001, and am fulling aware of the status and capacity of its current function and dsyfunction. I am also responsible for developing the strategy to ensure BHS comply with incident reporting and more. This article was the result of just one of my initiatives. I also was the person who kept the pressure on to install the cameras during Frank Lynch time as principal.

    http://www.bhs.berkeleypta.org/news/090415-BHS-promise-report-school-crimes.htm

    I do not agree with much of your assessment despite the earnest intent.

    Are you aware of the robbery under a surveillance camera by three BHS students, one who had a outstanding bench warrant from another jurisdiction. Did you know that BHS and BUSD refused to provide information to the parents of the victim? Did you know they misinterpreted FERPA to justify protecting the identity of the offenders?

    Enough deferring to students who for all practical matters should be attending class and therefore fail to witness the majority of transgressions, have institution knowledge or work on this issues in the community context . Unless you have been engaged in school safety compliance issues for years it would be impossible to understand where BHS is and isn’t regarding implementing reforms. For instance, did you know that back in 2003 we put together the hot line and an incident reporting process which was then dismantled by former principal Jim Slemp.

    I could write a book about these issues, as plenty of cops, teachers, and community members have pressured me to do.

  19. @Sharkey

    I am talking about how elected officials such as the school board are elected by adults, not the students.

    So @mike Farrell asking the student what they are doing about the guns on campus is a little ridiculous.

    Seems like a lot of the parents here are being combative with the opinion of the students who are the ones who are acutally on campus everyday.

  20. I’m a senior at Berkeley High School and I just want to reiterate what bhsstudent, steezy sammy and Jane Tierney commented. I believe that parents and the administration should take advantage of the feedback their students are giving. We know what goes on in our school better than anyone else. The actions of these individuals directly affect us.
    If I didn’t have a father on the Safety Committee at Berkeley High I don’t think I would’ve been informed of the other incident with a gun (where a student was found to have a gun in his backpack). It was a considerate and an intelligent decision for Mr. Scuderi to keep his students and faculty informed in this most recent case where a firearm was discharged. I value the series of intercom messages Principle Scuderi used to inform us. Communication among students, faculty, and the administration is germane to the issues of violence at this school. I personally appreciate that Mr.Scuderi will “be holding a series of meetings with students to talk about the severity of the situation when students carry guns.”
    In addition to the points and suggestions made by ‘steezy sammy’ I believe that the administration should be informing the student body of the number of cameras installed on campus. The security cameras cover approximately 95% of the school and I believe emphasizing this fact would decrease the number of crimes committed.
    Although I’ve had my issues with BUSD […] I’m extremely happy that I go to Berkeley High and I commend Principal Scuderi for communicating with the students.

  21. “The responsibility for school security falls on the adult tax paying and voting community…”

    WTF are you talking about?
    I’m pretty sure that if I tried to come onto campus and enforce school security I’d be kicked off campus and possibly even arrested.

    The responsibility for school security falls on the school’s administrators.

  22. @Mike Farrell

    I think the point is that there is so much rage in the blogosphere and demands for action. But what action has the adult community posting here taken in a positive way in the past years? It seems as a student it is insulting for parental figures to be making all kinds of assumptions and hopping on the fear bandwagon from behind a computer.

    …Since bhsstudent seems to be aware of the regular presence of guns at BHS, I’d like to ask him
    “What do YOU do about it?”

    He/She GOES to the school every weekday and attempts to get a public education while maintaining a positive attitude. That is the job of the Berkeley student.

    If you think asking rhetorical questions to the principal will make any progress, I disagree:
    “BTW, Principal Scuderi, what administrative protocol was in place when this incident occurred?
    Would you please describe it?”

    The responsibility for school security falls on the adult tax paying and voting community and their elected officials.

    BHSstudent appears to be making the best comments here and is a student which means something is working at BHS.

  23. BTW, Principal Scuderi, what administrative protocol was in place when this incident occurred?
    Would you please describe it?

  24. Perhaps bhsstudent, is correct; all the suggestions made by the adults made in this thread are missing the point. Since bhsstudent seems to be aware of the regular presence of guns at BHS, I’d like to ask him
    “What do YOU do about it?”

  25. Thank you Mr. Scuderi for doing a great job of dealing with these challenges.

    A Berkeley High School parent

  26. Dear Supt Bill,

    your statement

    “Focus groups with students will be held prior to Spring Break to discuss
    why students are bringing guns and weapons onto campus”

    should read

    Focus groups with students will be held prior to Spring Break to discuss
    why “SOME” students are bringing guns and weapons onto campus

  27. @shorty – I agree that you are way out of line questioning bhsstudent’s identity then saying something like, “go do your homework.”

    Bhssstudent is engaging ina conversation about their environment. It seems like you are merely trolling the blogosphere for fear and not truly involved in the Berkeley community.

  28. @Shorty – I’m more than fully aware of the differences between an elementary school and BHS. My point is that my elementary aged child at recess is within firing range of someone at BHS with a gun.

  29. And to ‘bhsstudent’….my sincere apologies if I came off as a smart a** and dismissive. I truly do appreciate the perspective of someone your age, and as a student of BHS. After all, it is your world. So I am older and jaded. I do, however, maintain that the school has a responsibility and duty to protect all.

  30. @Abigail: Life at your elementary school across the street from BHS is quite different than that at BHS or any of the 3 middle schools. THe beat changes. Hate to say it, but it’s a reality. Rampant theft and drug use at the middle schools is a problem. BHS is a great cross-section of our society at large, economically, racially, and academically. It’s the ‘real world’. So, in the ‘real world’ we do have people packing heat. Despite that, it is still a ‘school’. And the district has a duty to provide a safe environment for the students attending all schools.
    This discussion would sound quite different, no doubt, if someone had been injured. It is just a matter of time before someone is killed at BHS. Then what?
    There is a well-known gang operating at BHS. The police and administration should start there.
    Maybe some of these kids are out of district transfers, but the district has ‘allowed’ this.
    I heard a rumor that one of the students involved in a prior possession had an arrest warrant in Contra Costa County.
    Perhaps the visits to the classrooms by BHS administrators planning to talk to students will make a difference to the kids who are bringing weapons to ‘protect’ themselves. Yep, that is a reality. THese aren’t kids with priors, or who come from out of district.
    I am a BHS parent and expect a safe environment for all students. I would never have condoned metal detectors or anything of the sort in the past. But FOUR incidents in several months shouts ‘epidemic’, and an accident waiting to happen.

  31. As I said earlier, I hope Berkeleyside reports how many, if any, of the students involved in these incidents were out of district transfers or had known violent priors.

    If there is a tragedy caused by a fraudulently registered student or one with a serous criminal history whom the administration turned a blind eye to, Berkeley will become a different place.

  32. Ah, and here you go, hot off the press ….

    Responses to Weapons Found on the Berkeley High School Campus

    The safety of our students, teachers and staff is our paramount
    concern. Berkeley High School, in cooperation with school district
    administration, is presenting the following steps to respond to the recent
    incidents of weapons on campus. The items below are preliminary responses
    that are being implemented in the next several days with completion before
    Spring Break, which begins on Saturday, April 2, 2011. Berkeley High
    School and the District have scheduled several meetings to talk about
    safety with students, staff, and parents within the next 10 days. As a
    result of these meetings, other measures to ensure safety will be
    recommended to the School Board.

    • A special School Board meeting has been called for Wednesday,
    March 30 at 7:30pm to discuss these and other interventions to
    ensure student safety.
    Berkeley High School Principal Pasquale Scuderi will hold a school-wide
    faculty meeting this week to discuss recent events, talk to staff
    about this plan and their roles, and review school safety
    procedures.
    Administrators at Berkeley High School will go into each history classroom
    this week and next to explain rules and consequences of weapons
    on campus, explain the dangers of weapons, and explain how
    students can confidentially report information about weapons on
    campus.
    Focus groups with students will be held prior to Spring Break to discuss
    why students are bringing guns and weapons onto campus. The focus
    groups will be led by Berkeley High School staff with the purpose
    to give students the opportunity to express their concerns in a
    confidential setting.
    An anonymous tip telephone hotline to report weapons on campus —
    1-866-SPEAK UP — has been created and will be publicized to
    students and parents; a text message option will soon be added.
    Increased campus supervision at Berkeley High School has been added
    effective immediately. Two additional Safety Officers will work
    at Berkeley High School until Spring Break and may continue after
    Spring Break if warranted. Safety Officers will provide hourly
    patrols of bathrooms and out-of-the-way areas on campus.
    Administrative support will be added to Berkeley High School on a
    temporary basis for the remainder of the school year specifically
    to implement these proactive steps to reduce weapons on campus.
    The Berkeley Police Department will meet with Berkeley High School and
    District staff to assist with student education regarding safety
    and consequences, and assist with parent information regarding
    safety issues, and review the role of the Police Department’s
    School Resource Officer on campus.
    Berkeley High School and District staff have scheduled a parent forum to
    be held on Monday, March 28 from 6:30-8:00pm in the Berkeley High
    Little Theater to address concerns and discuss steps being taken
    to prevent further incidents of guns on campus.
    Note that the California Education Code governs student discipline; any
    student found with a firearm faces mandatory expulsion from school.

    We know that the safety of our students and campuses is of concern to the
    entire community, and we welcome all suggestions for improving school
    safety.

    William Huyett
    Superintendent

  33. Berkeleyside, I hope Shorty’s last comments towards BHS Student qualify as inappropriate under your policy and can be removed in the future (though I can only imagine the size of the job of moderating these comment threads).

    Students, thank you for your critical perspective on this thread. You raise excellent points. I also really appreciate all of what Bruce Love articulates. That doesn’t mean I don’t share the terror of having guns on campus and want something done about it. I live close to BHS, my kid goes to the elementary school across the street, and will attend BHS. 4 incidents in three months – that’s absolutely alarming. These events are very serious, though I agree, it’s surely a chronic issue. It’s obvious BUSD, and all of us, need to be doing more.

    In terms of solutions, there are many voices we’re NOT hearing from on Berkeleyside: 103,000 Berkeley citizens to be (almost) exact, all of whom “own” BHS, including quite a few who would agree with many student sentiments (as I heard tonight talking to parents after a meeting). In addition to various professionals, I consider the students to be among the experts I want to hear from, especially in terms of how various strategies would impact their daily life. Just as I would want to have a say on changes to my work environment.

    One problem perceive is that we’ve got adults insisting on a zero tolerance policy on guns at BHS when we adults fail miserably at policing ourselves (except in federal buildings and penitentiaries). When do adults ever agree on gun control policies in our society, despite rampant violence? From the student perspective, I would imagine the finger pointing at BHS seems somewhat hypocritical.

    From the parent perspective, the worst thing we could *ever* imagine is a child or children dying from needless gun violence. At schools that have experienced such tragedies, no one ever thought it could happen there, but now Berkeley has gotten not one, two, or three wake-up calls, but four. BHS is an environment people feel like they actually have a chance at completely controlling.

    Unfortunately, besides metal detectors sinking student morale while making adults (who don’t have to go through them day in day out) feel much better, BUSD is facing $1 million to $3.6 million more in cuts in the next year. At least one of those reasons seems like a deal breaker to me. I think the classroom discussions, student hotline, and parent forum BHS is initiating are all the right things to do. I’ll be very interested to hear what else the district suggests in terms of prevention and increased security moving forward, and what practical suggestions parents/community members have.

  34. Geez, listen to all of this! I feel like people keep saying that this stuff “never happens” when, just years back the library burned down. Think how much farther we’ve come back then. My older brothers are past BHS students and i am a current senior. Upon asking them, they can tell me that it was definitely much worse back when they were going to Berkeley high. One of my brothers instantly said that there was a gun threat AND a bomb threat when he was going to BHS. Its not Scuderi’s fault, he just got dumped the problems when he became principal. “Most schools in the US, I would bet, do not have guns on campus” Has anyone heard about the recent thing in albany? Where some kid ran away from home and took a gun with him, so the city decided to put almost every school in the area in lockdown for 2 hours even though they had no idea where this kid was. Was this the right course of action?

    Don’t condemn us to a life where one mistake can end your entire schooling career, but instead help us with a second chance and try to save us. People who bring a gun to school are the ones who need the help the most, not the majority who go through school without problems. Worry more about helping these kids, who are clearly in trouble, than trying to protect your precious school and individual students. We don’t need to put more money in protecting a school, but in helping the children who need it. It doesn’t actually HELP to catch “bad kids”, it just puts them down more. We need to stop the problem at its source, and things you worried parents are saying would only exacerbate the situation.

    I can’t write as well as bhsstudent, but i agree with what they are saying completely. To be honest, if they put in metal detectors and searched my back pack, it would really feel like the ghetto then. And they already try to restrict the entrances on which we come in. It doesn’t stop us, its just annoying having to wait for someone to open the door. Plus the fences are easy to hop. Im just saying.

  35. My fellow Concerned Berkeley parents/ students,

    I call for reason.

    I am an AC senior who has attended BHS for the last 4 years, and am proud to say that I go there (yes, even now). I read earlier that someone posted “sending your kid to a Berkeley public school might be child abuse.” and “I fear for my child’s safety every time they attend BHS.” If that may be the case then take your children out of the Berkeley Unified School District system and enroll them in a private school and pray for financial aid because you and I both know that 30 K a year for high school get steep when thinking about college afterwards. Hopefully we can all agree that having the option to have your chid receive a free quality public education (one that get thousands of students into college every year) is one of if not the most important asset Berkeley has.

    Now with California’s looming debt and the 2011-2012 budget severely cut in an attempt to reverse California’s deficit spending, we all know that public education isn’t going to receive anywhere near the amount of money that is should. That being said we shouldn’t throw what little money we have at metal detectors and security checkpoints. The money would be better spent hiring more teachers to reduce the average class size (roughly 30, bet it wasn’t that much when all you parents were in High School) or buying more desks for kids to sit in, in a class I proctor around three or four students always have to sit on the ground because of a lack of desks.

    Furthermore, in my personal experience as a peer health educator, I find the most effective way to deliver children a message is through their peers. You parents know what I’m talking about, would your kid rather get condoms and talk about the birds and the bees with you or a trained peer educator? Therefore I think that violence prevention programs or small and private sessions with a faculty and a student volunteer would be the most realistic and effective way to deal with this issue, without compromising the effectiveness and applicability of our education

    Finally Shout out to Mr. Scuderi, I fully trust you to deal with this situation, and I think you are doing a very good job, and you looked sharp today at the press conference.

  36. bhsstudent:

    You seem pretty smart. You can see what you are up against here. Trying to cooperatively reason with such a crowd to identify the best courses of action can not work in this context – many comments are not here to play that game. They are not trying to have the conversation you are trying to have. Their is a different discursive logic they are using.

    A lot of what you can see in the comments is a sentiment that the bad guys (e.g., school administration, the “politically correct” crowd, whatever) dominate politics and these institutions and downright oppress those who want a stern authority to crack down on crime. Crime occurs, in this view, because we are not harsh enough on criminals (or, as with TSA suggestions) because we do not harshly enough curtail individual liberty.

    What you should notice, in my opinion, is that there is a kind of identity politics and politics of victimization latent in the view of those who advocate for totalitarian measures in the way they are mentioned here. The mere fact that you are offering a contrary view, for example, justifies calling you “brainwashed” — you are part of an oppressive regime beating down the right thinking folks with their totalitarian tendencies. It is enough to ridicule, rather than engage your serious points because that satisfies the narrative of taunting the spectral PC oppressor.

    That puts you in a pincer. If you say nothing, they are the loudest voices in the public square. If you try to counter them, they cite you as further proof that their totalitarian prescriptions are suppressed by an unfair political hegemony.

    I don’t know of any easy answers. I do mention all of this because you wrote:

    I thought I was pessimistic, but it seems like you’ve flat out lost all faith in my generation.

    So far, assuming that you are what you say you are, you’ve done a lot to give me at lest some hope for your generation.

  37. Shorty, whether you agree with the comments of bhsstudent or not, your condescending attitude is what creates problems in communication between generations. At least this person is engaged in discussion about the issues affecting the students at the school and is articulate. Don’t discourage participation when we need more of it. The students are the ones living in this dangerous environment. If anything, they will be the ones to most influence the situation.

  38. Berkeley High School has too many students and too few staff monitoring them. Budget cuts have definitely hurt. Castro Valley HS also recently had a student bring a semi-automatic gun on campus recently (unloaded I think). Both schools have about the same number of students and not enough campus security and a ho-hum attitude. These incidents will continue at these and other high schools unless safety is made a priority.

  39. Also, @shorty – wrong again. I value my privacy, but I am indeed a BHS student. I’m a Junior in the IB program, tomorrow during third period I’m signing up for classes for senior year, my counselor is named Ms. Richardson, and I was watching Motorcycle Diaries in my IB history class this morning when we heard Mr. Scuderi’s announcement that we were on lockdown.
    What more do you want, my student ID number?
    What is it – are you surprised that there are kids at Berkeley High who actually care to discuss what’s going on at our school? I thought I was pessimistic, but it seems like you’ve flat out lost all faith in my generation.

  40. @Shorty, looks like somebody’s not reading very attentively! Did I say, don’t treat a criminal like a criminal? No. I said it isn’t right to treat the ENTIRETY of Berkeley High’s student body as criminals; let’s assume innocent until proven guilty. ESPECIALLY when, as I previously said – perhaps you skimmed this part as well – the fraction of students who do bring guns to school, are arrested for it, and thus can be called criminals, is absurdly small. Let’s play the numbers game here – if 10 students (a liberal estimate) out of the 3500 or so at BHS have been involved in gun incidents at school and fall into the “criminals” category, you’ve got about .002% of students who could justifiably be treated like a criminal. And as I also said before, there’s no way you could argue that that amount of people is representative of all of Berkeley High, or even a significant amount of it. Since you didn’t seem to be paying attention the first time around, there’s your explanation – we aren’t all criminals. In fact, hardly any of us are, and it’s ridiculous to act as though that extremely small minority speaks for the whole school.

  41. @Tracey Taylor

    As part of the media would you ask BUSD to state how many, if any, of the students involved in these incidents were out of district transfers?

  42. Sorry ‘bhsstudent’….I don’t care what Mr. Slemp said…but when you are in possession of a firearm you ARE a criminal, and have proven to be neither responsible or trustworthy!!!!!
    You are an idealist by thinking that BHS remains safe. The students have been ‘lucky’. What makes you think that everyone toting a gun around at school is okay just because there hasn’t been an incident? The writing is on the wall. It is only a matter of time until someone is injured or killed as a result. The problem is that your culture/mindset is that it’s normal to have a gun at BHS. I suppose if students can walk around with concealed weapons at school, that society is entitled to do the same?
    And no one is blaming Scuderi for anything. He is doing his best. It is the district and Bill Huyett who have ultimate responsibility. I challenge you to get in touch with your newly elected School Board members for an emergency meeting. WHere are their voices in this?
    And any city courthouse has metal detectors that thousands of people pass through daily.
    If it is not a crime to bring a gun to school, so be it….but guess what…it is a crime!

  43. IMHO, it is completely unrealistic to believe that installing metal detectors at BHS will be practical OR solve the problem. There are 3000+ students — how long would it take for the students to go through the detectors? What happens when they break down? What happens when the students go back to the “mean streets” of Berkeley? For more on the issues, and whether metal detectors are really the solution, check out http://www.schoolsecurity.org/trends/school_metal_detectors.html and http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15111439/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts .

  44. For those advocating “automatic permanent expulsion” for bringing a weapon to school, beyond the fact that the students in question are subject to mandatory expulsion, as noted in the principal’s message, you may want to read what the Education Code and the State Dep’t of Ed say about zero tolerance policies, at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/se/zerotolerance.asp . Note especially the note the effect that ” a policy that does not allow school administrators’ discretion or consideration may be ruled by the courts as arbitrary and capricious and found to be in violation of a student’s due process rights. “

  45. Something is happening at BHS right now that has not ever happened. Yes, there has always been bullying, and fights and thefts and muggings. There have been rumors of guns at school. But does anyone remember a time when guns were taken from students, four times in less than three months? When a gun was fired on the school campus, during school hours? As a Berkeley parent, a parent of past BHS students, a parent of, I hope, a future BHS student, I would like to hear from the BUSD what exactly is going on, and how exactly they plan to address this. Parents and students can only do so much. We need the BUSD to take strong action here and explain this problem, and fix this problem.

  46. @bhsstudent–I totally agree with you that good intentions will solve nothing…one of my great complaints with our town’s political culture is that it assumes that intentions matter. They really, really don’t. The idea that talking things through (what I think you mean by advisories) will put an end to the situation is just silly. Also, I appreciate your participating here, and speaking up for what you see as Principal Scuderi’s candid approach to the problem (though my critique of his response would be precisely that it seems to rely too heavily on speech over action…I don’t need to hear that he shares parents’ anxiety, rather I’d like to hear what he plans to do to alleviate it other than holding meetings).
    All that said, yes, I think you’re too defeatist. It’s absolutely reasonable to insist that zero guns in the city’s schools be a baseline standard. And throwing around terms like “dictatorial” verges on the kind of hyperbole that we saw earlier in the thread, with “child abuse” being equated to sending your kid to BHS. There was a gun fired in the local high school today. That’s absurd. You may be inured to it, but there’s absolutely no reason that the city at large should be, and it’s possible that the steps taken to stop similar situations from recurring will hurt the feelings of many in the current student body. Honestly, thats not the biggest concern right now.

  47. As another BHS student I agree with “bhsstudent” on almost all their points.
    Berkeley High is a public high school for ALL of Berkeley this INCLUDES parts of Berkeley that are known for gun related crime. So YES i agree there will always be weapons and I do see that kids are getting caught as a good sign of the security doing their job.
    Students having guns is unfortunate but I can honestly say i still feel safe. I feel no different then being in my own neighborhood when it is possible for someone off the street to jump me WITH A GUN.
    I also am quite against the TSA like screening mainly because it is very unpractical. To have 3500 students go through metal detectors every day,and not once but TWICE because of off campus lunch would just not work. And having an on campus lunch would also not work because the bhs cafeteria doesn’t even come close to holding 3500 kids.

    So yes guns are bad but being in POTENTIAL danger is a part of city life, get over it

  48. @NotGruntled: “When I was a youth–admittedly a long time ago–guns on campus were inconceivable” –> as far as you were aware…
    @upset: “the brainwashing is working….[then you suggested I obtain a firearm and create an incident of my own, which was moderated and subsequently removed]…” Hmm, nope. Sorry if I’ve been so “brainwashed” by realism that I don’t let out-of-proportion fear and panic dominate my life and interfere with my education.

  49. @BHS student – the brainwashing is working….[…]

    This comment has been moderated and edited because it fell foul of Berkeleyside’s Comments policy.

  50. @Berkeley Bear: “you’re never, ever, going to hear from me that it’s OK that there are guns in the local high school because “there always will be.” Sorry, not good enough.”
    Right, because at some point there will also be no wars, and no murder, and no rape, and no hate crimes, and no violence, and no bad anything in the world…? How do you propose we accomplish this lofty goal of yours? Because the options I see are either fairy dust and good intentions or heavy-handed dictatorial regulation. I’d be pressed to find an in between that actually gets anything done. You think sitting kids down to say, “Guns are bad! Oh, and did you know that you’ll be expelled if you bring one to school?” will accomplish anything? These are things we all know. If I’m being pessimistic, it’s because I see these hopeless attempts again and again doing absolutely nothing to solve problems at our school; advisories, for example. I don’t claim to have all the answers to the problems at BHS, but judging from what I’ve seen, neither do any of you angry (and at times belligerent) parents and spectators.

    But, I’d actually like to say that I didn’t get (all of) the right point across in saying there have always been/always will be guns at Berkeley High (sorry, it’s true!) – I meant that to express the fact that it isn’t this particular administration’s fault. Mr. Scuderi isn’t a bad principal, and none of this is happening because of him – I think it’s ridiculous that anyone’s trying to place the blame on him, and I just wanted to say that this issue is chronic and just because it’s still around under “new government” doesn’t mean it’s the new guy’s fault. Mr. Scuderi was very candid and forthcoming about the incident today, and to me that shows he’s brave enough to be transparent about this problem with the people that it’s actually affecting. He’s not the bad guy here.

  51. bhsstudent. thanks so much for participating. Your comment was the best reason I’ve heard for having metal detectors: “There have always been guns at Berkeley High, and there always will be.” Not really. When I was a youth–admittedly a long time ago–guns on campus were inconceivable. Most schools in the US, I would bet, do not have guns on campus. Now, you consider them routine, like bringing a notebook. Then incidents like this will continue, and eventually we’ll have a disaster. By the way, it’s not “your school.” You may attend it but you didn’t pay for it – BHS belongs to the community.

  52. So, let’s just review: 2 GUN incidents in one day…..
    Is the third time a charm?????? GET REAL BHS!! How much longer are you betting on your LUCK?????

  53. Some of the people on this website sound completely ridiculous. You guys make Berkeley high seem like a battlefront where bullets and knives are an everyday thing. I am a student at Berkeley High, and I can assure you that is not the case. Im
    almost a 100% positive that if interviewed, nearly 95% of students would agree that berkeley high is a fairly safe place. Yes students get things stolen, and they’re are occasional fights, but if kids aren’t directly involving themselves in bad behavior, these issues don’t directly affect common students. Furthermore, metal detectors are an extremely ridiculous idea. There are plenty of ways that money could be used to make more of an impact on student safety. For insatnce school programs that help students like the ones involved in the gun incidents learn from their mistakes. Other than the few students that have brought guns to school, Berkeley high is not a place where guns are a regular thing. This sort of behavior is completely not the norm to students, and should not be considered a “regular feature”. Berkeley high definitely has issues it has to adress regarding school safety, but it definitely is not the warzone you people are making it seem. So yes in the words of luckpaul ” calm down, and see if there is anything you can do to help out”. Spending hours freaking out on berkeley side is not helping anyone, but infact only making Berkeley high seem like a place it surely is not.

  54. @Bhsstudent: Agreed. It would be ridiculous if not impossible to check *everyone’s* bags *every time they entered campus*. BHS has nearly 3,600 students (not sure about the exact number) and open campus lunch. A security checkpoint would mean a pat down/bag search at least twice a day for every student, and given the number of security guards we have, it would take hours. And, in case anyone suggests closed campus lunch, have you tried keeping 3,600 hungry, angsty, angry teens on campus for 40 minutes when Shattuck is two blocks away?
    I’m not sure how to solve this problem of guns on campus, but it won’t be solved by, as bhsstudent says, making my school a penitentiary. And, if you’re smart, there’s little problem avoiding the “rampant theft and robbery, gangs, and knives” that are supposedly everywhere at BHS. I’ve been a student there for two years and the worst incident I’ve seen is a couple of fights (which, in my opinion, are nearly unavoidable).

  55. BHSstudent–it’s not your school. It’s the city’s school. You’re there for four short years–the whole city needs it to be a safe space in perpetuity. And though I understand that you’d feel less safe if there were metal detectors on campus, that frankly doesn’t matter to me all that much–what matters is less your own sense of safety or convenience than whether there are, in actual fact, fewer guns in a public educational setting. Finally, I’d suggest that what you’re asking people to do, in the final analysis, is lower their standards; you’re never, ever, going to hear from me that it’s OK that there are guns in the local high school because “there always will be.” Sorry, not good enough.

  56. To Luckypaul: You are idealistic, at best! ‘Everyone should calm down’??!!!! Volunteering and throwing $$ at the schools is not going to prevent kids from bringing guns to school. This is an IMMEDIATE safety concern. Whether or not anyone ‘feels’ safe is irrelevant, at this point. There have now been FOUR incidents of firearm possession at the high school. No one should feel safe given those numbers. I have kids who attend BHS, and I hear about the gangs at school, the rampant theft and robbery, and how kids who are NOT troublemakers are carrying knives in an effort to ‘protect’ themselves. Yes, that’s right! Frankly, nothing short of a TSA-style metal detection system is going to address this problem head on. What’s become of us when we have ‘epidemic’ weapon possession AT A SCHOOL?!?! Yes, ‘epidemic’. And ‘not gruntled’….this is not a PhD thesis with statistics and other ‘academics’ abound! The district has a duty to keep our children SAFE! The time for classroom meetings, and presentation from the BPD is PAST……sweeps, metal detectors, etc. The point is to PREVENT a tragedy from occurring!

  57. @Juliette: “Tonight we got a robo-call saying my daughter had missed one or more periods today. What a laugh! The school was in lockdown, so she missed at least half of second period through no fault of her own.”
    Wow, dramatization! We missed about 10 minutes of the 58 minutes in 2nd period today, and since there were school-wide announcements and the lockdown affected every teacher and every classroom, no one was marking students absent for coming to class when we were told to by Mr. Scuderi. They call home only if your teacher marks you absent. Your kid was almost certainly just taking advantage of the chaos and skipping class today, I know a lot of people left after lunch because they saw the incident simply as an easy excuse to do so.

    “But there was no message from the superintendent and principal saying they were instituting new safety regulations and stringent penalties for being in possession of a gun on school grounds.”
    Parents are frankly out of touch with what it’s like to be a student at Berkeley High – this is abundantly clear to me after seeing the amount of comments by parents demanding airport- or TSA-style security at BHS, complete with metal detectors and a locked campus or what have you. I don’t mean to sound like I’m oversimplifying this, but that’s just dumb. The policy we have at Berkeley High, an excellent one put in place by Mr. Slemp, is to treat students like they are responsible and trustworthy – not like criminals. If BHS implemented the kind of new safety measures that certain parents are demanding, I can personally say – and I know that I speak for many, many other BHS students in doing so – that I would feel less safe, not more. If I had to walk through a metal detector every morning on the way to class, I wouldn’t feel safe. If I was locked on campus during lunch, not allowed to leave the contained one-block radius that is Berkeley High, I wouldn’t feel safe. If every time I had to come through the gate, passing the security guard into the portables, I had to be verified as a BHS student – I would not feel safe. Berkeley High isn’t a penitentiary and its students shouldn’t be treated like we’re incarcerated.
    There have always been guns at Berkeley High, and there always will be. This isn’t the first year students have brought guns to school, nor was the year before, or the one before that – and it won’t be the last. The only difference with this year is there are more so-called “incidents” with guns – meaning students are either getting lazier about hiding guns at school, or the administration is doing a better job at finding people when they do have weapons on campus. The bottom line is that you can put anomalies like this under a microscope, you can blow it up and make a fuss about it, but at the end of the day it’s not going to be as big of a deal as you’re making it out to be. What happened today wasn’t Virginia Tech. No one got hurt. No one has, and I really believe that no one will. * Berkeley High is a safe place, and anyone who doesn’t spend six hours on its campus five days a week can’t say otherwise because they simply don’t know. * There are too many students at Berkeley High for one to be able to say, Look – FIVE STUDENTS (or whatever number it was) have brought guns to school in this many months! We need reform!!! Well, let’s see – there’s about 3500 students at BHS, so if there were five people involved in gun incidents this year, or even ten, that is a minuscule percentage of our school – nowhere near even one measly percent – and is in no way a group large enough to be said to represent the actions of BHS students. I’m sorry, but just because .002% of people at Berkeley High misbehave in a certain egregious way doesn’t mean that many more will.
    If any of you outraged parents had been at Berkeley High today during this hullabaloo, you would understand the practical severity of what happened. But you weren’t, and clearly you don’t, so stop saying inflammatory things as if you knew what’s best for my school.

  58. Reality check here. Some of you live in la la land where you think there is no need to have anything to protect yourself. Security needs to be increased, but what about the budget cuts that are happening? Is anyone concerned about that? When you cut staff, in some cases, you cut security which needs to definitely be increased. Let’s install metal detectors and make sure everyone enters only one way, pass the detectors. Right now students feel the need a gun against others, what happens when it turns to staff or even parents. Talk, if you don’t talk and only take action what is that going to give. Let’s try and reach the ones on the sitting on the fence so they can know the consequences. It’s like bring drugs, specifically marijuana to school. No one is telling the seller or the buyer of the consequences and they may not know honestly because it has become the culture around campus. What about Spirit week? Agreed it’s different walking around half nude/nude than carrying a gun, but has anyone talked or inforced the consequences? Children do stupid things, especially when they see others do it and get away with it. The Principal/Counselors/Teachers needs to talk to every class about appropriate/inappropriate behavior; Let’s hope some students made mistakes, now days carrying a gun is like buying candy, and the important thing is they learn from those mistakes and realize and thank God no one was hurt this time. If they have not been in trouble before then send them to counseling, community services and expulsion is an appropriate action. But don’t write these kids off if they have never done anything like this before. How many of us have mistakes we didn’t get caught for and realized if we didn’t change we were going to be another statistic. Let’s try to reach one by teaching one that this is serious business and if their ways are not changed the consequences. Bullying, harrassaments and fights are not minor incidents because they can lead to gun possession if a student feel this is the only way to protect themselves. Realize the society we live in today and if our students have to bring guns to school because they don’t feel like the school, home, community will protect them, what should we do. We have to take this situation and realize there is a serious problem not only away but in school. Two students said they aren’t afraid of dying, they are afraid of living. What does that say to us parents. We need to partner with BUSD/BHS to see how help is available to our chldren. With the counselors overloaded, who has the time to talks with students to find out where there heads are. In order to reach at least one student, we have to teach just one student. If more listen and learn the butter, but we have to admit to the problem and then come up with some reasonable solutions. Hope the Principal will notify eveyone of his upcoming meeting.

  59. Mr. Luckypaul – Where do you get off telling parents by volunteering everything will be groovy..
    Do you not hold BHS accountable to provide a PLAN OF ACTION around this GUN issue…typical put your head in the sand and hope it goes away with donating money….

  60. Of course everyone one wants schools to be safe. I have a child at BHS and she feels safe. I had a son at BHS who just graduated and he felt safe. Berkeley High does punish kids who misbehave. Is the administration perfect? Of course not. Everyone should calm down a bit and see what they can do to help the schools. Volunteer. Donate money to the schools. Attend school safety meetings. Get some more Democrats elected in Sacramento.

  61. My daughter is in her senior year at BHS and until this year I felt that she was entirely safe on school premises. As others have commented, since the beginning of 2011 suddenly guns have become a regular feature of school life. What is going on? Is there some kind of underlying feud? Parents need answers and this needs to be stopped immediately. I agree with others that any incident should mean permanent expulsion. The installation of a hotline worries me because it suggests that this is a situation the school expects to continue. Simple, swift action is needed and needed very soon before a major incident does indeed occur. I almost think the BPD should be asked to deliver the talks in a powerful and honest way, to emphasize the very, very serious nature of this kind of behavior. Please don’t abandon public schools when there is so much that is so very good about them. Scuderi needs to face it all down and not be seen as weak and pliable by these boys (I’m assuming they are male) who are perhaps testing him to see how far they can push the school boundaries.

  62. THere needs to be security check at entrances. They need to have only two entrances/exits.
    They need to do TSA type screening on all kids. The response from administration is typical
    of this world’s attitude towards violence; Only when someone is killed will they then implement
    a real plan and not until…I fear for my child’s safety every time they attend BHS…they
    are not vigilent enough and I don’t have much faith they will change much…THey just hope
    everyone forgets and then it’s business as usual….WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE…

  63. I worked at a school in Texas that was labeled “persistently dangerous” by the state. As a result, a consultancy firm on school safety came and provided support to our school. While I understand that can be financially costly, it sounds like a good idea for the district to consider some outside expert perspective on this issue. One solution was periodic, unannounced, not daily, metal detection. This avoided giving the school a constant prison feel, but was enough to be a deterrence.

    Secondly, as a former educator who worked for two schools serving underserved, or “disadvantaged” students, (and one had virtually no accountability for students and the other had a great deal) this situation is clearly a sign of a breakdown, or absence, of real, effective consequences. Prevention is worth a pound of cure, for sure, but as the first commenter mentioned and in my experience, issues of this scale usually occur when students see numerous minor infractions go unaddressed.

    If it is truly a sign of excuses being made for students of different backgrounds, that is a real tragedy for all involved.

  64. “Scuderi said he would be holding a series of meetings with students to talk about the severity of the situation when students carry guns.”

    This is part of the problem – too much talking, not enough action. Students know it’s wrong to bring a gun to school and they definitely know it’s wrong to shoot it. I noticed a cross-out in one of the articles that said a kid was charged for bringing a gun to school. Does that mean he wasn’t charged after all? If not, why not? When there are few serious consequences, there will be more incidents.

    Tonight we got a robo-call saying my daughter had missed one or more periods today. What a laugh! The school was in lockdown, so she missed at least half of second period through no fault of her own. But there was no message from the superintendent and principal saying they were instituting new safety regulations and stringent penalties for being in possession of a gun on school grounds.

    Please, let’s make school safe for the kids who want to be there.

  65. FOUR guns brought to school in less than 3 months’ time? And those are only the instances we know about. I share the outrage of many readers who’ve commented here.

  66. Becky: “I’m so tired of the answer to every problem in public schools being to abandon them if you can afford to.” I strongly believe in public schools. I also believe my first responsibility is to protect my family. My son was called a nerd or worse every day in junior high because he tried to be a good student. I still kick myself for not pulling him out sooner. No child should be harassed every day while in school because they do their homework or try to answer the teacher’s questions. This is a community problem: we are too tolerant of aberrant behavior, particularly if it comes from a disadvantaged young person. It’s clear from the principal’s letter than nothing of significance is going to happen until there’s blood in the hallways.

  67. @visitor1: Emotions are running high on this issue — understandably. We all live in the community, many of us have kids at the school. But let’s not fuel the alarmist fire with comments in capital letters. Thank you.

  68. FROM A RETIRED TEACHERS PERSPECTIVE IT APPEARS THERE IS LITTLE SECURITY AT BHS! THIS WILL ONLY LEAD TO A TRAGEDY! AT MY HIGH SCHOOL IN CHICAGO SWEEPS WERE IMPLEMENTED ON A REGULAR BASIS. LOCKDOWN WOULD HAVE BEEN IN PLACE IMMEDIATELY UPON NEWS OF GUN REPORT!
    BHS SHOULD STRONGLY CONSIDER THE SWIFT INSTALLATION OF METAL DETECTORS – NOT WANDS – METAL DETECTORS TO PREVENT A TRAGIC EVENT!
    WHERE ARE THESE STUDENTS GETTING GUNS!

  69. Dan, it’s worse than four times in one year. It’s four times in one CALENDAR year, which means in three months. And though I think TSA screenings are excessive, a one-year expulsion is laughably lenient. You have a gun in school? Goodbye. Forever.
    And Becky–I agree that calling attendance at BUSD “child abuse” is absurd, it’s also absolutely essential that this issue get under control. Otherwise the answer of many parents will be to abandon them if they can afford to. From a purely selfish perspective (the only one that matters to virtually all parents) for their own kids, that does, in fact, solve the problem. If you don’t want families abandoning the schools, this just has to be dealt with.

  70. David L. says: “One year expulsion for bringing a gun to school? No! Permanent expulsion is the minimum appropriate response.”

    I agree.
    Perhaps some sort of clause excusing children under the age of 13 might be appropriate since children at that age don’t really know what they’re doing, but high school students who bring guns to school should never be allowed back on “normal” school campuses.

  71. I just read the principal’s e-mail. While I’m ranting, the weak tenor of the e-mail is infuriating. It sounds to me like the attitude is “ho-hum, all in a day’s work” — where is the urgency to fix a system that clearly has majorly failed?

    A “weapon was discharged”? I would say a bullet was fired which could well have torn through a student’s flesh, spilling their blood and leaving one of our children dead.

    “BHS will increase safety staff and supervision until spring break”? How about HS will permanently ensure that no person, bag or other such object will enter the building without a complete search to ensure that another weapon is never again brought on campus and that those who would try to do so are arrested and prosecuted. That all potential points of entry for a weapon are made inaccessible to would-be perpetrators of these crimes.

    I realize that my fury is flavoring my comment, but I sure would like to hear school officials say things that would give me hope that BHS is not a ticking time bomb.

  72. not gruntled: ” Maybe sending your child to a Berkeley upper level (Jr High, HS) school is child abuse if you can afford to do otherwise.”

    This kind of sentiment is ridiculous and inflamatory. Too bad because the rest of your post is interesting. I’m so tired of the answer to every problem in public schools being to abandon them if you can afford to.

  73. Thank you David L. You said exactly what I was going to say. It’s ridiculous. After one GUN incident, security should have been so tight that a second incident could not have occurred. Four times guns have been found in one year?!!!!! And those are the ones that were found — how many others have appeared on campus???? I want a school where no guns are ever on campus let alone several in one year. Arggggggh!

  74. Berkeley High should be at least as secure as an airport. Demand full TSA style screening for the safety of our kids at Berkeley High now! One year expulsion for bringing a gun to school? No! Permanent expulsion is the minimum appropriate response. Gun toting fools should never be allowed back to mainstream schools. Where is Superintendent Bill Huyett on this important issue?

  75. typos… “Students who do not attend this meeting and return the document *signed* by themselves and their guardians…”; “If the school is *too big* to practicably enforce a gun ban…”

    apologies

  76. Guns apparently are epidemic at BHS. Guns found do not equal guns brought to school.

    Berkeley has one high school. Scuderi is brand new as principal there, and cannot be expected to be point person when bullets are flying on campus. The Board and the Superintendent need to be out front on this, and immediately institute automatic permanent expulsion from the school district for weapons possession on campus, preferably at the next board meeting.

    Every student registered at BHS should attend a mandatory, small-group meeting during school hours with the principal and a member of the school board to hear of the policy personally, which should not only include the advisory itself but also the obligation report any guns on campus they see or hear about or face suspension themselves. Each student, and their guardian, should sign a document stating they have heard this policy. Students who do not attend this meeting and return the document by themselves and their guardians should not be allowed on school grounds until they do so.

    If the school is to practicably enforce a gun ban (as will be argued), then it should be split up so that security can be better managed. Proliferation of guns in society is no excuse for failing to enact the firmest possible gun ban at the district’s schools.

    Junior high school students and families should be made aware of the high school policy, and know it applies to them, too.

    This city and this school district are under no obligation to provide in loco parentis for minors who bring guns to school. The kids who violate the gun policy after signing the document of understanding will have to pursue their education by other means, at other venues. Whatever negative ramifications flow from this are not the business of the school district. If the city wants to provide avenues for wayward ex-students, that would be a separate and important discussion, but one that’s outside of BUSD purview.

    The school district has no other higher priority.

  77. @Sharkey: This is the fourth reported incident of a gun being found on the BHS campus this year. There was one in January and one in February (both of which we covered). In both cases student tipped off the authorities that a fellow student had a gun. That is also the case in the second incident today.

    On March 1 a student brought a gun to Berkeley Technical High School.

  78. How many gun incidents does that make this year?

    How are children supposed to LEARN when they are in danger of being SHOT at any moment?

    This is out of control.

  79. In risk assessment, one assumes a large number of minor incidents (e.g., bullying, harassment, fights, flashing gang signs) will be associated with a moderate number of medium level incidents (gun on campus, strong-arm robberies), and with infrequent major incidents (student killed or wounded). BHS may be due for a major incident. Success in reducing the minor incidents usually translates into reduction in the moderate and major incidents. Unfortunately, Berkeley schools have a very hard time holding students accountable for the bad behavior associated with the minor incidents. These tend to be excused as “cultural differences,” misunderstanding, etc., or completely ignored (ongoing harassment of good students is chronic and not addressed that I can see). Even with this shooting, I think the Berkeley community is too PC to crack down on the minor incidents. Maybe sending your child to a Berkeley upper level (Jr High, HS) school is child abuse if you can afford to do otherwise.