Community theater at Berkeley High School. Photos: Frances Dinkelspiel
Community theater at Berkeley High School. Note the cameras on the roof to film activity. Photos: Frances Dinkelspiel

In the middle of a meeting called to discuss guns and safety at Berkeley High School, the deputy district attorney in charge of Alameda County’s juvenile division stood up and announced that the community is not being realistic about how dangerous a place it is.

“I have seen the police report of every single person arrested at Berkeley High School this year,” Matthew Golde, the senior deputy district attorney for Alameda County’s juvenile justice center told a crowd of about 400 people at the Berkeley High School Community Theater. “Let me tell you the reality of the danger.”

Golde went on to say that in addition to the four gun-related arrests made last week, armed robbery is rampant at the school.  Students routinely bring weapons and use them to strong-arm people on campus, at the park across the street, and on Shattuck Avenue. And groups of BHS kids regularly burglarize houses.

“There are a lot of dangerous people here,” said Golde. “These guns are not being used just for protection. They are being used to commit crimes.”

Most damningly, Golde said there have been cover-ups of offenses. In one instance, there was a student who had a bench warrant out for his arrest for beating and robbing someone. Despite that, he attended classes at Berkeley High – and even beat up someone at the school. When police arrested him, “there were certain people in the school who tried to convince witnesses not to cooperate” said Golde.

The same thing happened with a football player who was arrested, said Golde. School officials, according to Golde, tried to encourage his friends from cooperating with the police so he could continue to play on the team.

Golde’s remarks were among the many shocking comments made at the meeting, which was billed as a chance for Berkeley Unified School District officials to hear the community’s reaction to a recent increase in guns on campus. In addition to four school board members, the school superintendent, the high school principal and the head of student services, two city councilmembers — Max Anderson and Laurie Capitelli — and a captain from the Berkeley police department attended the meeting.

While gun-related incidents at Berkeley High are not new, the sheer number this school year has prompted widespread concern. There were four gun-related arrests at or near Berkeley High last week on top of two earlier episodes in the school year. In addition, a student from B-Tech, the alternative high school, brought a gun on campus in early March. In October, a 17-year old Berkeley High student shot and killed 14-year old freshman Malik Grayson off campus. The 17-year old was expelled from school – as are all students caught with guns – but no charges have been filed against him, although police are still investigating the incident.

The marked increase in the number of guns on campus has prompted school officials to take steps to examine school policies and come up with a plan to improve school safety. In addition to hiring two additional safety officers, the school district is considering a number of ideas, including installing metal detectors, randomly searching lockers, and asking students to wear identification badges. Surveillance cameras are already ubiquitous on the campus.

The school board will hear a report on the issue Wednesday night and accelerate a plan to address the problem, Superintendent Bill Huyett told the crowd Monday night.

The discussion at the forum veered back and forth between parents who called for tighter safety measures and those who worried they would create an atmosphere of fear and could impinge on people’s civil liberties. A number of parents said the district needs to examine the pressures put on students that lead them to bring weapons to school.

One speaker, who identified herself as a senior at Berkeley High, said the school’s unlocked gates make it too easy for non-BHS kids to come onto campus and intimidate other kids. She recalled one time when there were two non-BHS kids sitting in one of her classes and, since the teacher that day was a substitute, it wasn’t noticed.

“A lot of students bring weapons on campus because they are fearful,” said the senior. “They are gang-related. They don’t feel safe on this campus because it’s too easy for people to come on this campus. Students don’t feel safe. If safety officers and teachers can’t protect them, then they are going to find a way to stay safe.”

Around 400 people attended the forum on weapons Monday night at Berkeley High

As the evening went on and more and more parents expressed their fears, some stepped up to say it was important to balance things. Most of the 3,300 students at Berkeley High obey the law.

“I don’t want to be overly-fear based, with our reactions,” said one parent. “I cringe when I hear metal detectors and keeping gates locked except during first period and lunch.”

“Those are guns in the hands of our children,” said another parent. “It’s not all about social issues. This is a school. That calls for metal detectors at every entrance and a closed campus.”

Throughout the night Pasquale Scuderi, the school principal, walked up and down the aisles of the Berkeley Community Theater to hand a microphone to parents so they could make remarks. In between questions, he took time to address some of the concerns that had been raised.

Scuderi took issue with Golde’s comments that BHS staff tried to steer students from testifying against students charged with a crime. That is not school policy and must have been a rogue staff member, he said.

BHS Principal Pasquale Scuderi

Scuderi also said that the school has worked with the police department to develop a plan in case someone starts shooting on the campus. In fact, the district and police department are working more closely than ever to address issues of safety on campus, he said.

The district is also reaching out to the community, since it is well documented that incidents of violence go down at schools that work closely with residents, said Huyett.

In fact, a number of people in the audience volunteered to spend time on campus to help keep an eye on things.

One speaker, who said he was a former Berkeley High student who had been arrested numerous times and had done a stint in prison, said he would like to talk to students about how he went wrong, and how he is now finding a way to live an upstanding life.

To get another perspective on the meeting, look at Berkeleyside’s real-time tweets on the forum.

Update, 9:45 p.m.: BUSD has made available video footage of the parent forum on weapons. The video coverage is in four parts and can be viewed here, here, here, and here

BHS Principal takes action in wake of gun activity [03.28.11]
Berkeley High students weigh in on gun issues at their school [03.24.11]
Update: Today’s two gun related Berkeley High School incidents [03.22.11]

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,...

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  1. Violence has been endemic at BHS for as long as I can remember.  The Berkeley Police Department has chosen to look the other way for years; the main police station is literally across the street from the rampant drug use and truancy at MLK Park, and are perfectly placed to patrol outside BHS campus grounds.
    As a 7th grader at Willard, I was assaulted by a FATHER of a fellow student.  The incident occurred right on College Avenue in front of numerous witnesses, including some other students.  The Berkeley Police Department simply asked the guy whether he did it or not, and took his word for it that he didn’t.  They were completely uninterested in gathering the names of anyone who witnessed the crime, even though I was willing to tell them exactly who saw it go down.  The really sick part was that the perpetrator was a CHILD PSYCHOLOGIST!  Nothing was ever done.  BPD never has been, and never will be interested in protecting the children of our community.
    Also, the administration of the Berkeley school district has continually been derelict in its duty to provide a good environment for the students.  Case in point:  Spirit Week.  Spirit Week at BHS is nothing more than a week-long drinking binge that is more or less sanctioned by the school.  And don’t even get me started on the numerous teachers who are completely incompetent.  A certain history teacher at Willard used to make disparaging remarks about me in front of his other classes, and when I ran into him years later at a school car wash, he told me that he was surprised that I wasn’t in jail.  I was targeted not because I was a troublemaker (I’ve never been in a fight, etc), but because my stepfather was a Black Panther.  The wife of the city manager at the time (who lived across the street from me) went down to the school and successfully lobbied to get me thrown out of the WIT program because of who my father was.  Moreover, the school admin then had me sit down and talk with another student’s father who told me that I needed to ask my mother to see my birth certificate, because, in light of my white skin, he did not believe that Eldridge Cleaver was my dad (which was a claim that I never made).  This was all set-up and sanctioned by the administration.
    No longer can we as a community assume that the people entrusted with the welfare of our children have an interest whatsoever in doing so.  There is no reason why BHS students should continue to be subjected to an environment wherein violence, rape, drugs, and corruption are quite normative. 

  2. My daughter was a student at BHS in the early 90’s. She was severely hazed by a gang of girls, I don’t know what else to call them. They caught her in the bathrooms, in the stairwells, in the halls. They put Vaseline in her hair, they taunted her, they slapped her, they broke into her car and filled it with trash. We had to take her out of BHS, she was so traumatized. There was absolutely no reason for this to happen. She did not know them, or have any proactive interactions with them. And the administration did nothing to stop it. However, they did facilitate an inter-district transfer for my daughter. She finished high-school and college, and is now a medical professional. I wonder where those other students are right now? So the bottom line is: we make room for bullies, but not for regular students, because we are afraid of saying or doing anything that might appear racist. The school’s entire administration needs an adjustment.

  3. No, it doesn’t add to the discussion or show anything at all. It’s ridiculous extrapolation. I don’t even think the school should bother with metal detectors right now, so it’s not even being targeted at the right people.

    The kids think it’s OK because the kids don’t know any better. Just look at their comments on these articles so far — apparently a lot of BHS students think it’s normal for school campuses to constantly have multiple gun-toting students on them at all time. The fact that the kids think this is normal or acceptable shows how out of whack things have gotten.

  4. This educated White Man has done the research regarding Berkeley’s high school.

    Perhaps you should as well.

  5. It shows how ridiculous your alarmism is. Yes, the administration owes us a better response, but how come the kids all say things are alright. Personally, I do not trust the word of one prosecutor.

    I am very happy my child has received in the first 8 grades of Berkeley public schools and I am glad that he will be going to Berkeley High, where we intend to be a voice for good education and safety.

  6. What do you think I have failed to refute? And, yes, as regards illegal transfers — see my reply to Eric for some court cites and relation to the crackdowns.

  7. Berkeley voters need to stop approving bond measures for the school district until they get serious about these issues.

  8. Editorial: Berkeley High School must take control of its gun problem

    The Berkeley school board members have some hard decisions to make as they try to stop students from carrying guns on the Berkeley High campus.

    At a board meeting Wednesday night, some clearly frustrated board members questioned Superintendent Bill Huyett about what the administration is doing to solve the problem.

    Earlier in the week Matt Golde, a supervisor in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, told a crowd of more than 400 that robberies, beatings and drug dealing are common at Berkeley High and that some adults discouraged students from testifying against the offenders.

    One case involved a student already being sought on an arrest warrant beating another student brutally, Golde said.

    In another case, a football coach intervened to prevent the prosecution of an accused player, he charged. The administration has disputed the claim. Last week a gun was fired in a school bathroom without injuring anyone.

    The district administration has taken action including adding two more security officers to its current staff of 14, and adding a confidential phone line where students can pass on information about guns on campus with our fear of reprisal.

    Administrators met with police who have suggested identification badges for students and monitoring offenders who return to the campus after time in juvenile hall.

    All possible solutions are on the table, though Huyett has ruled out using of metal detectors given the difficult logistics of moving 3,400 students through them in the morning and on the way back from lunch.

    On Monday, Huyett said the district wants to know whether the community supports intrusive methods to search for guns or an approach that more preserves personal freedoms, Huyett told the parents.

    While we encourage public comment, the school authorities district must take reasonable and necessary actions to stop student gun possession and not let the issue become a political football.

    To seek solutions, Berkeley High officials need only check with other public high schools that have solved the problem, and determine which methods would work here.

    Schools do have the right to search lockers for suspected contraband and such a search is no more intrusive than the screening of luggage at airports to prevent weapons on airliners.

    The best long-term solution is for the school authorities to work closely with the police to identify violators and stop them before anyone is shot and killed.

    That sounds elemental but law enforcement professionals tell us privately that Berkeley High is often anything but cooperative with them on student crime and truancy issues.

    That attitude must change or all the reforms district officials say they favor will be useless.

    It goes without saying that the vast majority of students at Berkeley high are hardworking and peaceful. It’s a shame that a school with a distinguished academic record has to take these steps to ensure a safe learning environment.

    But we live in a violent society and we cannot let violent kids roam the campus.

    Huyett said it best during Monday night’s meeting.

    “We have a problem and we need to address it now,” he said

  9. Indeed. I’ve also noticed that in many cases when he can’t refute what someone has said he simply ignores it and acts like the comment was never made.

    See the stories people are posting of other schools in the State cracking down on illegal transfers as an example.

  10. So if you’ve done the research as you suggest, why not make a comment with more specific complaints and explanations of your concerns instead of jabs at a program designed to try to interest kids in learning by accessing their hobbies?

    I’d like to wait until the school has been around for a year or two before universally damning or praising it. You could at least wait until the first day of class before passing judgment.

  11. Eric, the statutes do not say “living full time with” they say “lives in the caregiver’s home”. A student who is living in multiple homes “lives in” each.

    There was an important case decided in the Superior Court of Santa Clara County: Katz v. Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School Dist. (2004)117 Cal.App.4th 47 , — Cal.Rptr.3d —

    That case established that the residency requirement and the caretaker provisions are ambiguous and require the court to construct them reasonably. One element of logic in that case is particularly applicable here:

    Suppose that a student lives part time in one district and part time in another district. If 48000 and 48200 allow one district to refuse the kid, it allows both districts to refuse the kid. This would be an absurd result and therefore the courts would be reluctant to find against a genuine two-household child

    There a case that cites Katz (“Student v. Los Angeles Unified School District” OAH CASE NO. N 2006110108) and rather beautifully observes:

    17. In amending Education Code section 48204 to establish the caregiver exception to residency requirements and in enacting Family Code sections 6550 and 6552, the Legislature recognized the growing number of children living with nonparent relatives and nonrelatives, and stated its purpose:

    “The Legislature further finds and declares that the enactment of Part 1.5 (commencing with Section 6550) of Division 11 of the Family Code will help to ensure that minors living with nonparent caregivers will have unhindered access to public education and essential medical care.”

    (Ch. 98, Stats. 1994, Sec. 1 (Sen. Bill No. 592).) According to a committee report, SB 592 crated a “new type of procedure for care, custody and control of minor children that is an alternative to guardianship.” The bill “creates a category of persons called ‘caregivers’ who have certain limited rights to authorize medical care for and enroll in school minor children currently residing in their home.” Further, “SB 592 will lighten the burden carried by thousands of relatives in our state who are raising children left in their care.” (Assem. Judiciary Com., com. on Sen. Bill No. 592 (1993-1994 Reg. Sess).)

    This is why, for example, a district that has a rule like “no part time residency except in cases of court assigned joint custody” has a rule that won’t survive certain challenges.

    Note that none of this makes it impossible to violate the residency requirement or impossible for a district to enforce a residency requirement. Students whose residency is purely a paper fiction are in clear violation. Some cities have had luck just sending out warnings and granting “till end of school year” amnesty. As long as those warning don’t mislead people as to their rights, that sounds like a fine thing to do.

    The problem is the assumption that every kid is cheating who is “from Oakland” or “from Richmond” who has, perhaps, some relative here in Berkeley. It really depends on the role that that relative is playing in the kid’s life. The relative doesn’t have to be a parent, doesn’t have to be guardian, and the kid does not have to live “full time” in that relative’s house. Furthermore, execution of a caretaker affidavit puts the burden of proof on the district. How intrusive do you want the district to get and how much money do you want them to spend on this issue?

  12. isn’t it funny how when bruth is backed into a corner he starts calling names, saying one is a racist, or absurd.

  13. Albany’s new policy is you cant have two residences you Must live at the residence in question 7days and 7 nights unless the case of divorce! check it out Bruce! i know I’m a racist…the funny thing is i don’t think i ever stated my ethnic background!

  14. It sounds like neither of you have been to South Berkeley recently. I also take offense when I hear people from affluent parts of Berkeley say how hard they work to be able to afford to live/own a house in Berkeley. That implies that people from South Berkeley, West Berkeley and other lower income areas don’t work hard enough. That is classist and it could not be further from the truth.

  15. I am he as you are he as you are me
    And we are all together
    See how they run like pigs from a gun
    See how they fly
    I’m crying…

  16. Snarkey:

    This Educated Black Woman has done the research regarding this charter school.
    Perhaps you should as well.

  17. The video game based curriculum isn’t about breaking into the game industry. It is about learning math, logic, problem solving, complex dynamics, etc. in an engaging way. Are you familiar with the “One Laptop Per Child Project”? It’s an imperfect project but if you take some time to look into (it’s antecedents, actions, and followers) it you can find the pedagogy scholarship that leads indirectly to stuff like REALM. Anyway, the curriculum sounds like a good starting point for some intelligence building stupid fun club stuff, so to speak.

  18. P. I applaud and salute you! Thank you for posting. I remember you from BHS well — that is where we met, probably while I was hanging out while also not a student… no one asked for my credentials either.

  19. This situation illustrates why a needs assessment should have been the basis for Measure I ($600 million+ including interest payments over 50 years). There was none. And let’s not forget the $19 million that was the first line item in Measure AA of 2000 for BHS classrooms that never got spent on BHS classrooms. I hope people remember this when another parcel tax for BUSD appears on the ballot in the fall.

  20. What evidence are you basing your assumption that she wouldn’t lose on, Bruce?

    Please forgive me for not going back to look up the hard to find in open source form (linkable) court decisions but, basically, a bunch of actual cases (cases with kids in divorce households, one particularly interesting case of a disabled kid who’s parents moved out of state and who slept and ate at a medical facility – but who got a “lives with / custodial affidavit” clearance for an uncle. That kind of thing. Basically the legislative intent here was to maximize the kids’ chances of getting what seems to be best for them.

    Anyway, I didn’t “prove your [trollish, absurd, nobody said that and you are arguing against a figment of your imagination] point”.

  21. His screen name is “foolroller.”

    He’s an obvious troll, and you’re feeding him.
    This discussion has brought out posters from BHS, many of whom I’m sure are frequent visitors of 4chan and love trolling t3h intarwebz.

    When you see trolling, point it out and move on.
    Don’t try to respond to it with a coherent argument. It’s not worth it.

  22. Nice sniping at a program that hasn’t even started yet. It sounds an awful lot like you’re a bitter parent whose child wasn’t able to get into their program…

    Crap on the video game industry all you want, but it’s a muti-billion dollar industry that has surpassed Hollywood in terms of gross profits and is getting bigger every year.

  23. Wonderful post.
    I agree 100% on all counts.

    BHS is comically lax in their enforcement of who is allowed on campus.

  24. Probably.

    I used to live a few blocks from there and can attest to seeing plenty of BHS kids smoking cigarettes and pot within spitting distance of the BPD headquarters.

    When they can get away with flagrant illegal activity in public, in open view of the headquarters of the Police department, it’s no wonder they don’t care about campus rules about guns and fighting.

  25. What evidence are you basing your assumption that she wouldn’t lose on, Bruce?

    But thank you for proving my point that you think the District should just cave to anyone who contests something they do regardless of the legality of it.

  26. Heyyy… the gun activity was not at the highschool, but in its vicinity. School lockdowns are common when the surrounding area is deemed unsafe. The activity happened towards the end of the school day so it was better to keep the kids inside rather than let them walk out into a potentially dangerous situation. Scuderi had to send an email out and let parents know in case they were on their way to pick up their kids.

  27. She’d probably not lose. I do not think anything that can be contested should be legal. I think that picking fights the district is likely to lose is dumb.

    Sharkey, you regularly do this kind of thing: coming up with the most absurd interpretation you can think of of what I say and replying to that. Please stop doing that.

  28. Bruce seems to think that anything that could potentially be contested in court, should just be made legal.

    In this case the child’s Auntie could potentially take the issue to court if BUSD tried to boot her nephew out of BHS for attending an out-of-district school. She’d probably lose, but the mere possibility of that hearing means that BHS shouldn’t bother to try and should just let in every student who can get someone in Berkeley to sign a fraudulent caretaker affidavit.

  29. At some point I’d like to know BUSD’s definition for when BHS would be considered “full to capacity”.
    I’ll second that for the entire district (elementary and middle schools). I really want to shut the door tight on out of district students so we can get a handle on the amount of space needed in the district. I certainly don’t want the $200+million of bonds we just approved being used to warehouse out of district students.

  30. Well why don’t you call up his office and ask him the questions yourself instead of criticizing/trolling the reporters at Berkeleyside?

  31. Berkeley High is on lockdown again this afternoon due to more gun activity.

    Sound fun? Sound inviting? Sound academic?

  32. Since you love to keep referencing the law, please show me where in the law it says that such a student would be able to be expelled for his activities off campus that were not related to the school?

  33. Eric, you are just wrong. You say: “People who perjure themselves with falsified caretaker’s affidavits (for kids who don’t live with them, full time)“. A caretaker affidavit does not require full time living with and neither does by-right school registration. There is no perjury here.

    BUSD can and should do routine follow-up with caretakers to verify that the student resides with them.

    It can and to the extent that a cost/benefit analysis supports it, it should. The problem here is that you seem to have a particular personal opinion about what the requirements are and your personal opinion doesn’t accord with state law.

  34. No, Bruce you are being a zealot for a bad cause. People who perjure themselves with falsified caretaker’s affidavits (for kids who don’t live with them, full time) are gaming the system. In the interest of serving the taxpayers, BUSD can and should implement much more muscular enrollment verification procedures. It can and should do routine follow-up with caretakers to verify that the student resides with them. If they do not, it can and should expel them. This is legal; it is also the responsible course of action.

  35. If the school district proves that you aren’t living there, in a hearing — the school district does not get to “determine”. And, the court precedent is clear that the standard of “living with” here is very generously tilted towards the kid — it is a weaker requirement than “legal residence”.

  36. Bruce, as I wrote above, you have to live with the caretaker or the affidavit is invalid. If the school district determines that you’re not living there, it’s over.

  37. Bruce, you are spreading misinformation.

    In the scenario you describe, the caretaker affidavit is invalidated because the kid “lives part time with mom in another city.”

    California Family Code 6550.f: “(f)If the minor stops living with the caregiver, the caregiver shall notify any school, health care provider, or health care service plan that has been given the affidavit. The affidavit is invalid after the school, health care provider, or health care service plan receives notice that the minor is no longer living with the caregiver.”

    California Education Code 48204(a)(4): “…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. ”

    “actual facts” here include your assertion that “the kid lives part time with mom in another city.”

    THAT is state law. Please do not mislead people into thinking they can have their kid crash at auntie’s house a few nights a week. You either live with the caretaker full-time or you do not.

    It is on this basis that other school districts, on their affidavits, say clearly that using an affidavit means living full-time with the caretaker and that they will do in-home checks to verify that. If they find “actual facts” that suggest otherwise, the affidavit is invalid, the enrollment is invalid, and the caretaker may have perjured him/herself.

    It’s clear you would rather the law said something other than it what it does say, but there it is. Please don’t mislead people like this.

  38. Thanks, Deirdre.

    As people begin to actually look into the facts and laws around this issue, rather than merely spreading decades-old rumors there is something else to keep in mind:

    The are unlawful out of district registrations, there are lawful out of district registrations — but sometimes overlooked is that there is a whole big grey area of perfectly legal in-district registrations for kids some might think are really from out of district.

    For example, consider a kid who lives part time with mom in another city, but sleeps and takes dinner at auntie’s house in Berkeley a lot of school nights. Just so long as Auntie can sign an affidavit affirming that mom authorizes auntie to authorize medical treatments for junior, junior is a lawful in district registration. Note that the relative here does not have to be a guardian in the legal sense of “guardian” — signing a caretaker affidavit will do. The relevant law here was passed because the legislature explicitly reckoned that “legal guardian” was too strong a requirement.

    That’s not BUSD policy — that’s state law. It applies to all districts.

    Nowadays traditional family structures are, well, less common than they used to be. That gray area is mighty huge for a lot of lifestyles that I’ve seen.

    Another thing that is state law, not BUSD policy: the legal presumption is in favor of the kid if that gray area is challenged. The district has to prove that the kid doesn’t in any reasonable sense live with the Berkeley caretaker. Berkeley, quite a few years ago, won an unlawful registration case that has since been cited as precedent. Berkeley won because, straight up, the parent testified that no, the kid doesn’t in any way shape or form live in Berkeley. Without that absolute confession, it would have been a much less certain, more difficult case.

  39. Don’t stop with the administration. Go to the Superintendent and the School Board. They are the ones that run the show.

  40. Little wonder we are experiencing home break-ins and armed robberies in our neighborhood. Denial, permissiveness and inept management of problems with robberies, guns, non-students on campus, drug dealing etc at Berkeley High are spilling over into our neighborhoods and impacting our quality of life.

    I for one will be giving Berkeley High administration a piece of my mind.

  41. I’m completely right. Read the sentence again.

    “Only in Berkeley would drug dealers and other assorted thugs EXPLOITING HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS spark a debate about civil liberties, of all things”

    This isn’t about civil liberties or the war against drugs. This is about taking the basic steps needed to provide a secure environment at school

  42. I was at the BHS parents’ forum. Your questions about how and why Matt Golde did what he did — choosing to speak from the audience rather than on a platform, criticizing BUSD in public, and using “dramatic” language — were echoed by several forum participants I spoke to.

    Well that’s news! 🙂

    As you will appreciate, it would have been inappropriate and against journalistic convention to bring these considerations into this piece.

    As editorializing, sure. As a balanced report of reactions from several forum participants to whom you spoke, I think that could have been part of the story.

  43. Is “Waffle” the handle-de-jour of the same ranter who posted last week as a BIHS student ?
    If you’re posting on Berkeleyside at 3-4 a.m., and you’ve got a 1st period class to show up at, fresh-faced, perky & alert.. either you’re getting up really early for crew practice/some other activity that meets in the wee hours of the morning,
    or you’re just up, writing rants on Berkeleyside.

  44. @Bruce Love: I was at the BHS parents’ forum. Your questions about how and why Matt Golde did what he did — choosing to speak from the audience rather than on a platform, criticizing BUSD in public, and using “dramatic” language — were echoed by several forum participants I spoke to.

    As you will appreciate, it would have been inappropriate and against journalistic convention to bring these considerations into this piece. The story reported on what Golde said, not on why he might have said it. That would have been editorializing which doesn’t have any place in a news story.

  45. @Waffle: Do you think parents should help those poor kids bringing guns to BHS organize themselves into a designated drug dealing cooperative at school so they can earn money in a more equitable fashion? Do you think that the mean parents that don’t want you surrounded by armed drug felons at BHS that are the problem? Back in the “old days” high school drug dealers did not carry guns and would never consider shooting people part of the the business. Get real! The hip hop culture of guns, drugs and gang violence is a one-way ticket to prison, murder, despair and failure. The answer to living in a dangerous ghetto is getting a good education, not becoming a dangerous gangster thug.

  46. Thank you, rational animal!!! That’s how I feel, too. Right now everyone’s talking about the problems (which indeed need to be addressed) but when I read comments like “it’s child abuse to send your kid to BHS if you have money for private school” I just to cry…. How can these incidents wipe away all that’s good (and there’s plenty of it) with this school ?!?! It’s so unfair to the students that stay out of trouble, to the teachers, the parents, the community… everyone who pours their heart and soul into this school.

  47. Most Berkeley parents are just exhasperated with the thought police additude you and other school board establishment enforcers present. We know in our kid’s classroom starting in kindergarden that much of the class is not from Berkeley. When you book a play-date, kids have to be transported back to where they really live all the time. Its a secret to no one except the school establishment. Yet they will say anything to confuse, then they discriminate against locals, then they beg for more money. Now you attack the first newspaper to reflect public additude. Just stop. Thanks

  48. Frances, First, thank you taking me up on this. I think we must use “spin” in a different way if you feel I’m insulting your professionalism by talking about how you spun an article. In my view, there is pretty much no such thing as a news article that lacks spin. Selection of details, emphasis, details mentioned in description, implied or explicit inferences…. spin is half of news. It would be impossible for you or me or anyone to write an article without spin. Exceptions would include something like a verbatim copy of the weekly school lunch menu or perhaps the tide report.

    I watched the video of the entire meeting anticipating some huge disconnect between the comments prior to Golde speaking, and Golde. I didn’t see it. Most earlier speakers seemed to be fully aware of the gravity of the situation and several with a deeper awareness of the structure of the problems. Golde’s comments seemed redundant and self-serving.

    You asked me to think about who he is – he “heads up the Juvenile Division of the Alameda County District Attorney’s office. He knows these kids, he can compare Berkeley’s response to those of other districts, etc.” Don’t you see the conflicts there?

    His free-floating non-specific allegations of cover-ups give an untestable “not my fault” excuse for failed prosecutions, whether that was his intent or not. His needlessly dramatic yet vague recitations of the “how dangerous” things are sounded like something out of a poorly constructed budget increase pitch or candidate statement – vague alarming sounding factual claims somewhat randomly strung together. As it is what we got is, so to speak, him saying in Manchurian Candidate / McCarthy style that he’s got a list in his pocket of 57 known …..

    Nobody got a chance to question him or even clearly establish his factual claims, nevermind fact check him. And he was very explicit that he wasn’t there to make any particular recommendation to improve safety leaving, I suppose, the conclusion he mainly wanted to drum up fear.

  49. Bruce, if I could understand your comment better I could respond better but I will give it my best shot. First of all it is important to understand that Berkeleyside has written a number of stories about this situation and the one on Tuesday was intended to add to all that we have written before.

    We did talk about what some of the other parents and students said in the meeting. (And I did a rough count to get to 400 people; that photo was taken at the start of the forum) But Golde’s remarks were so extraordinary, and so contrary to what had been said up until that point, that they clearly were the most important thing coming out of that meeting.

    Consider who he is: he heads up the Juvenile Division of the Alameda County District Attorney’s office. He knows these kids, he can compare Berkeley’s response to those of other districts, etc. And yes, his comments, in my observation, “brought a startling new truth to the meeting.”
    This article man have “done more harm than good” as you say, but that is not Berkeleyside’s fault. That is blaming the messenger for the message.
    And suggesting that I spun the article, well, all I can say is I have been a professional reporter for 25 years. I try to stick to the facts in a news article.

  50. agreed. I was just commenting on the the oft overused causal explanation of out-of-district kids being the easy cause of all the problems at BHS as if ‘we’ all are somehow not all part of the problem and the solution. Thanks for the thoughtful response

  51. Just to be clear, it’s not at all news that the roster of illegal enrollees includes students at all rungs of the economic ladder. As a proud member of the “keep BHS for Berkeley crowd” (aka the “direct taxpayer resources to the benefit of City residents” crowd), I am opposed to any and all fence hopping. The high performing Richmond/Oakland kids you mention are just the ones who are needed *in Richmond/Oakland* to turn those schools around. Their parents are needed there too.

    Contrary to some folks’ opinion, we are NOT “all in this together.” Residency requirements mean something, even if BUSD is comically inept at enforcing them.

  52. RE: the problem at the park. Are we talking about the park right across MLK from the police station?

  53. They live in Oakland/Richmond. Are they attending BHS on legal out-of-district transfers? Or are they using a fake address (includes aunt/grandma who isn’t legal guardian).

    If so, they should be expelled from BHS whether or not they have a gun. It really is that simple.

  54. What is ‘racist’ or ‘classist’ about demanding the school to take basic steps not only to create a safe environment for its students, but to be a good neighbor to the people and businesses of Berkeley?

  55. I have to say, that while this is in my opinion, not the most totally functional of all the responses here (I rate mine as near dead last) this is though, one of the greatest rants I have ever read about the situation.

    “there is no :”them” you ARE “them” “they are You” we are all together.
    It’s confusing, I thought I was ME but Nooooooo, I turn out to be THEM,
    does that make you, ME? then why are we fighting?
    it’s because of THEM that I fight myselves

  56. BHS student here. All of you parents live in LALALand. Do you really think its uncommon for guns to be brought to public school? I can guarantee to you that on any given day there are at least 10 students with guns. And did you ever stop to think about WHY they have guns? It’s because they live in the shittiest parts of Oakland and Richmond, and they feel the NEED to have a gun to be SAFE. Not everyone has the LUXURY of living in practically crime free neighborhoods. It’s easy to sit on your moral high horse (more like high house, given the elevation difference related to the difference in income), and say that guns at school are unacceptable and everyone with a weapon at school should be kicked out. But if you live in a neighborhood where you see dead bodies lying on the street, EVER, you just might feel the need to protect yourself, especially if you know no one else can provide protection for you. (NEWSFLASH: cops in shitty neighborhoods don’t adequate protect its residents).

    And there are also students who have guns because they sell drugs. Your thinking: “DRUG DEELERS WITH GUNS AT MY CHILDS SCHOOL!!!! GRRRRR!!! EVIL CHILDREN!!!! WE NEED MORE PRISONS!!!!”. But have you ever asked yourself WHY students sell drugs, do you think its some kind of fucking past time? People sell drugs because they NEED money, not every students parents are employed or live on a salary that affords them fresh produce and gourmet meals. SOME PEOPLE ARE RALLY POOR! don’t forget that. How is a student supposed to make money, other then sell drugs at that age. Get a job? One of the ONLY ways for youth that go to BHS to get a job is through youthworks, and to be eligible for that you have to reside in Berkeley and be over 16 years old. So what do kids do to get money to LIVE, that are poor and live in dangerous neighborhood outside of Berkeley, they sell drugs, and if you sell drugs and live in a fucked up place, a gun is pretty much required, unless you want to get shot or robbed. So if reality disturbs you, fine, take your kid to private school, and let them think they can avoid social problems by isolating themselves in homogeneous communities, its what your kind, the wealthy and apathetic, have been doing for centuries.

    Every reactionary argument here is based on “us v.s. them”, get over yourself, they are you.
    [I could get into the absurdity of this notion of superiority, but ill just leave it at this: we are all monkey, sacks of meat and bones being hurled through the universe on a tiny blue dot, unsure of our fate, struggling to control our environment because of our irrational fears of the unavoidable. Don’t take stuff too seriously]
    I guess it’s because these parents have such dull lives that when anything moderately exciting happens they devour and distort the issue like a pack of hyenas, which in doing so makes the issue seem far more severe than it its, scarring the school administration to feel like they need to act now to appease those who are reactionary.

    The problem is that mostly illogical parents have the most influence over school policy. The kind of parents who chose to have their child attend public school because they like to say, through implications, that “my children are better children than your children because they go to school with poor and blacks.”, so they try and morph it into a private school because the know public education cannot contend with private education. The problem with that is it leaves out students with families that don’t have less money and time.

    PROTIP: hoarding your resources/wealth/capital, while complaining about the actions of those who have not, makes you seem like an irrational hypocrite to everyone else, everyone who isn’t like you.

  57. Oh reactionary responses, how I love thee.
    The hypocritical arguments don’t do justice to thine complexity.
    The racist and classist undertones are all too typical.
    but do not fear, the wealthy parents will soon be heard loud and clear.
    Comments suggesting copious fallacies, fear mongering at its best.
    What is that i hear? Rumors of gang war and “two-bit punks” joyriding?
    Of course we know who to blame, they’ve always been that way.
    The othering has become clear.
    They do not want us here.
    Not because of what we truly are.
    But because of what we are expected to be.
    Irrational, Immoral, Ignorant.
    So let the cycle continue once again.
    The nut never falls too far from the tree.
    When you’re in Berkeley.

  58. Is it allowed to criticize Berkeleyside’s reporting on this?

    A minor issue is that looking at the video and photographic evidence, I’m skeptical of the “400 people” attendance figure.

    More seriously, though maybe he’d say so subsequently, Golde didn’t say the community was being unrealistic. More to the point, Berkeleyside didn’t report on various other community members who spoke and who displayed a very realistic understanding. Even if Golde clearly meant that the community was being naive, there were several other examples that spoke before him that demonstrated the opposite. The notion that Golde was bringing a startling new truth to the meeting doesn’t really jibe with everything that went before.

    Golde “damingly” accused no particular individuals of unspecified cover-ups but Berkeleyside failed notice both the odd impropriety of the D.A.’s office saying such a thing in this context and Golde’s obvious conflict of interest in levying such accusations.

    I wouldn’t necessarily care much about how Berkeleyside “spun” an article like this – those are pretty technical complaints I gave – other than upon witnessing what was consequently drummed up in the comments. I don’t think I could look most of my neighbors in the face if they thought I stood for the culture presented in most of these comments.

    It’s definitely not an easy issue to report on. I don’t think Berkeleyside meant to “spin” the article in a bad way. I can see and sympathize, I think, with how it wound up as it is … but…

    There are real problems and at least personally I buy into the need for real change – of some sort. But I think the “dialog” (a generous description) Berkeleyside gave rise to, at least as evidenced by the comments, makes me wonder if this piece didn’t do more harm than good — and looking back at the text of the article, I wonder if that isn’t because of the particular way that Golde’s comments were highlighted and somewhat over-interpreted and given undue emphasis in the larger context. It’s a pretty breathless report Berkeleyside gave here that I don’t see quite matching up with the video of the event.

  59. Thank you to Piero Amadeo Infante, I hope everyone will read your message.
    I am a BHS parent. Now that we have a new principal, the school is moving in the right direction. The reason there is all this discussion now is exactly because things are just starting to change, NOT because they are getting worse. It is glacially slow. The system is entrenched beyond belief, but many good things are happening at the school now. But we have to figure out how to protect kids. Everyday there are thugs who make life miserable for other kids and those incidents go unreported because the office that handles them is so incompetent. The kids would rather keep things to themselves than report because when they report, the security office bungles things so bad. And apparently (according to Golde) staff are also telling kids not to snitch. what a world. The principal dismissed that one a little too fast. DA Golde has tried to talk to the Safety Committee but the staff who runs it didn’t like what he had to say. After last night he should get an engraved invitation anywhere in the district office.

    No one wants to take on the issue of drugs because so many teachers get stoned, so they don’t think the issue of drugs is a big deal. They forget that a lot of violence stems from the dealing, from protecting your stash, that in high school, in gangs, drugs and guns are inextricably intertwined. Last April I heard William Huyett say that it was time to deal with the park and all the drugs. Let’s see, April starts…this week. One year. What has happened in that year? I heard people say at the meeting that it is time to start really dealing with the problem of the park.

    Talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk.

    Also I am really sick and tired of teachers at the school who think of the thugs as some kind of beleagured heroic modern day Panthers. Get over it. That was 40 years ago. Think about the kids whose education you are ruining by NOT doing anything about the thugs. That girl who stood up and spoke was the most heroic person in the room. Listen to her and help protect her. There are hundreds more like her – defend them. Many of the ills at the high school are society’s ills. This is where our kids develop a moral compass. Demand that all teachers abide by the law; they are supposed to be role models. Hopefully with a new boss they will get the picture.

  60. I was only being sarcastic…debate is healthy as long as people actually listen to each other.
    If each side walks away with only one point implanted in their minds from the other then something was accomplished. We have to listen to each other!
    I’m having login issues

  61. I’m glad to read lots of comments, a good thing.

    As a community, I suggest we frequently repeat the concept that guns are unacceptable at BHS. We have lots of divergent feelings on the subject, but I ask the community to come back to center again and again. Guns have no place at any school. Guns must be kept off campus.

  62. And one more thing, not like I haven’t taxed your patience already, forgive me.

    The question “Is Berkeley high safe?” is not a single answer question.

    It is not the school that is safe or not, it’s the kids. and the adults who either discipline, and interact with them in healthy ways that promote safe choices, or fail to do so, at a huge social cost to everyone involved.

    The place itself is merely a place.
    This, is about people. and how they act or fail to act.

  63. Everyone has a symbol they relate with.
    Mine just happens to be an indestructible Bunny.

    Sue me,.

  64. Yes. I was referring to that. Unless it’s really tight, it will spell disaster. mark my words.

  65. The drug-dealing rapist pipe-bomber who stabs a neighbor in the eye with a rusty fork? I rather doubt it. Please stop feeding the ill-informed hysteria. You are fear mongering.

  66. “Such a kid would likely be incarcerated”

    and after a time would likely be released on parole. And when they are on parole, they go right back to the school.

  67. Bravo, Pio!
    Tell it like it is!

    I’m assuming when you mention BAS, you are referring to the proposed Community School, which will be located at BAS (Berkeley Adult School)?

  68. I would like to address everyone here.
    This subject, is not about any educational ideologies, stereotyping, profiling, or “keeping the kids in line”
    This subject is about how to run a school, and who to do when it becomes broken.

    I attended BHS in the 80’s, EVEN THOUGH I WAS NOT A REGISTERED STUDENT. and have maintained hundreds of friendships with people from the school and the city.
    I think there is a much larger problem than “those bad kids” or “those mean right wingers”

    The problem is YOU.

    Your inability to think about the safety and education of kids first. your insistence at either making them out to be evil perpetrators, or innocent angels, or even worse “misunderstood”
    I would have easily fallen into the the category described at the meeting,. I brought weapons to school.
    I fought a lot. I dealt a little weed at the park to eat, (my mom was absent and my father dead, so I raised myself)
    No one stopped us. no one questioned us. everyone defended our right to freedom.

    Now, 95 percent of my male friends, are dead or in prison, and they were completely encouraged by lax discipline, a lack of strong male figures, and a desire on the part of many adults to want to engage in “activism” on our behalf, when we despised, and ridiculed them gleefully as we went on our regular rampages.

    People defending violence among children, and denying that it exists. (I am a 100& product of the streets here and I can tell you that it is completely out of control at BHS) and then thinking themselves “leftists” or “liberals” are nothing short of a disgrace to this city, the memory of all the kids that have died because of them, and the future of children who are lower income and of color. but most of all they are a disgrace to the real ideologies of socially progressive movements, the BPP, the peace and freedom party, The Raza movement, alternative education, and to all the blood, tears, pain, and deaths sacrifice we went through here, from being spied on by Edgar J, Hoover, to getting tears gassed, shot with rubber bullets, and attacked by our of control police in the 60’s and 70’s.
    I experienced this all first hand, Lost several family members as a result. I still maintain a functional belief in social justice and activism, and based on my experiences, and the current situaton I have some much overdue news for anyone here trying to make child safety a political issues.

    You are not leftist in the slightest. so don’t front. You’re not even liberal.

    These namny pamby, pseudo liberal. wannabe leftists, frantically humping the rotted carcass of a dead and failed political theater, are going to be responsible for the next kid who gets hurt or dies at BHS.
    Responsible. period.

    These heroic liberals Will they attend the funeral themselves? probably not. will they go to the parents in person to offer condolences? Probably not. are they willing to confront a kid with a gun, or a knife, or the intercede in a fight between kids? probably not. will they go to the hospital when a kid is hurt. again, probably not.
    They are flesh and blood. someone’s baby. someone brother. someone’s sister. and yes, someone’s mother or father.
    So do not try to pretend liberal activism when in reality you are showing cowardice while children’s lives are at stake. Violence cannot be tolerated in any form, penalty must result, kids HAVE to get stung early by authority to appreciate it, and kids bringing guns to school should never be allowed to go to that school ever again period.
    There ends my diatribe about the people crying foul at the idea of a totally disciplined school.
    Am I finished?

    The More affluent people people living in the hills of this town, many who might consider themselves “conservative” or “moderate” possess more than enough money, to implement a vast array of plans and solutions, (which would only work when combined with the skill and drive of people who deal with street violence on a daily basis) that could make this school. not only safe for non violent kids who just want to be left alone to study, but also remedy some of the violent kids who act out here as well. It’s all there. the money. the drive. the desire. There is no :”Berkeley council on violence” which could no doubt raise millions to help all these kids.
    ‘No, people are far more concerned with Freight and Salvage’s multimillion design. or Berkeley rep’s multimillion dollar annual budget, or regular dinners at Chez Pannise, Downtown and all manner of luxuries, while the school their very own kids attend, gets less and less attention.

    That’s not conservative, that’s Just selfish. send your kid to a public school when you have money to make that school better, but no. let the city take the hit. expect for the state or nonprofits to cover it.
    The right in this town, is equally implicit in this crime against children.
    Yes I am calling it a social crime. what else can it be called? People die.
    And you too, will be remembered by history as having been affluent and in a position to help while children died in your on front yard.

    and just for the record, I know ALL the dirty, horrific, underhanded, sexually illegal, graft and embezzlement-ridden, booze and drug soaked history of the many administrations that have run BHS since the late 70’s.
    Despicable. shameful and deserving of note by name, which I will do later on.
    The kinds of the people this city has often allowed to govern their children in the most impressionable time in their lives is a complete and utter travesty.

    This is not meant to disparage the many fine and upstanding heroes of my youth like Ms. Bennett, and several of the coaches, and English teachers, and dozens and dozens of others that decided to sacrifice better careers for their love of teaching and who whose deepest desires were our safety and our education.
    I was one of the lucky ones. not without a troubled life. but still very lucky.

    So I ask this of you:
    I ask for the children, and for the future of this city, and for the future of this school a school I have loved with all my heart, from the steps, to the wall, to the gym, to the track, to theaters, to the park, to all the teachers who ever taught there and to all the students that ever studied.

    Get off of it.

    Liberals can get off their soapboxes, and Conservatives can get off their wallets.
    and if you happen to be a poor conservative, or a rich liberal then do the reverse.
    Just get off it.
    Confront violence DIRECTLY
    Its ugly. Its painstaking. Its messy. It feels thankless.

    But it is the only thing that will work.
    Hiding behind politics, or not committing financially when you have the ability to do so, both amount to the same thing. which is to say, Nothing.

    My votes?

    BAS: BAD idea unless it is tightly monitored and controlled. Period.

    It would be a better idea to separate these kids into smaller groups and send them all to different schools or programs. That is, if you know anything all about criminal science from either an academic or personal viewpoint. I do from both. massing a bunch of kids who are all in trouble into one program in one location, without the strongest of controls, will turn the school into a facility like Tracy or Chino, a crime academy, where kids only get into more trouble.

    I thank you for reading this message, and it’s many typos, and I’d like to say that I am no better than anyone I have mentioned here. I am just another confused man wanting to make change and frustrated that I sometimes cannot.
    But this, this is solvable if we can get over the tired Berkeley Liberal–Vs-Conservative bullshit.

    Piero Amadeo Infante,
    Lifelong Berkeley and Oakland Resident
    Attended BHS (sporadically, and without registering)

  69. Other districts have lost court battles over that. You are simply wrong (about what you think counts as “legally entitled”).

  70. “All the priority is given to achievement gap rather than developing every students to his/her best”

    *Chuckle* – I know what you’re trying to say, BUT…again with the superlatives. “All priority.” So you’re saying every decision is prefaced with “will this close the achievement gap?” Every teacher seeks not develop every student to his/her best, but to close the achievement gap? Oh, where to begin? I wasn’t even talking about this and it somehow comes out in your reply. Everyone is just itching to say something. I agree overcrowding is an issue. I agree that there should be more accountability for non-BHS students (especially given the property taxes paid by Berkeley residents). I also know a red herring when I see one. Back to the gun and perceived violence issue, there were just as many non-Berkeley residents the day a gun wasn’t found as there was the day a gun was. I hate to break it to all the keep BHS for Berkeley crowd: a large chunk, if not a majority, are Richmond and Oakland students that are very high performing and are smart and savvy enough to find a way to not send their kids to Castlemont or Kennedy and not pay for Head Royce or Marin Academy, but get them into BHS instead. This very fact should elicit a real conversation about how local control of schools has detrimental effects (i.e. zip code determining future), but it won’t. It could even trigger a conversation about working together with neighboring districts to tackle similar problems, but it won’t. Instead, we resort to some other form of logic: too many out of district kids + too much focus on the achievement gap = guns on campus = metal detectors/id cards/death of BHS. Then we’ll ask ourselves in 10 years what happened? I remember when BHS was this awesome place (see my first post), now it’s like a prison. On the bright side, they gave up on that achievement gap nonsense.

  71. Lance aren’t you going to shut down this thread? there were over 100 comments last time about the guns at Berkeley high and you shut the thread down stating nothing new was getting posted and there were too many postings…this thread has 140 comments and counting why are you keeping this one open? not much different being said, same problem kids from other cities attending BHS bringing guns to school. I spoke to one of Berkeley’s finest yesterday and he said off the record that these kids were all from Oakland, candy coat it anyway you like it that is the problem. Berkeley kids are not bringing guns to school, Oakland kids are!!!!

  72. The DA’s office is in the prosecution business. The police are in the enforcement and apprehension business.

    Unless the BPD apprehends someone they think has committed a crime, the DA never hears about it. Doubting Mr. Golde’s assessment requires asking “Does the the BPD habitually make false arrests which in turn are given to the DA to charge?” I don’t think so.

    Mr. Golde rose from the audience and gave the only unmotivated substantive account of the problem. Without his comments the entire evening would have been a complete waste of time.

    Just another tearful performance of “Sometimes I Feel Like an Under Served Child a Long Way from My School District” by professional enablers.

  73. No other district reaches the conclusion Berkeley has. Every other schoolboard acknowledges a fiduciary responsibility to limit access to only legally entitled students.

  74. Looking at the law that Bruce Love cites, I see that principals are REQUIRED to immediately suspend and recommend for expulsion any students who bring a firearm onto campus, and that the governing board is REQUIRED to expel them upon finding that they have brought a firearm onto campus.

    Quite correct. And it is exactly what happens. There is a great deal of confusion in the public over these matters. Please don’t make it worse.

  75. Doc, be sure to read California Education Code 48204:

    “Guardian” is a court appointed role. The caretaker requirements for school admission are more general than “parent or guardian”. The district has a heavy duty of proof before they can declare a student an unlawful registrant.

    The reason that the state legislature passed 48204 was because they judged parenthood or guardianship to be too strict a requirement.

    The court precedents around 48204 are particularly interesting, by the way. Interestingly enough, Berkeley (BUSD) was party to a precedent setting case of kicking out an unlawful registrant — but it was an exceptionally egregious case.

  76. my son and a friend were mugged and robbed in the park across from BHS a couple of years ago. They were brave enough to go to the police and offer a description of the muggers, who were apparently well-known and had gotten away with many other robberies because other students were afraid to ‘snitch.’ The perpetrators were caught and I assume were expelled. But after witnessing the way my son and his friend were treated by the Berkeley PD, having to sit and wait for almost two hours to be interviewed/interrogated, I understand why some youth don’t want to deal with going to the police. One officer was helpful and retrieved my son’s stolen cell phone, but the person at the desk basically shut her window and closed up shop when her shift was over after spending time joking around with a coworker and ignoring instead of helping two young victims of a violent attack. We live in a violent society that teaches youth that war and violence are somehow means of self-defense and problem solving. That guns are now involved in robberies at BHS is disturbing and calls for strong measures; but why should all the students be punished and subjected to a prison-like atmosphere with metal detectors and guards because of the actions of a few thugs?

  77. I’m having difficulty understanding who the “they” are in your comment. Do you mean BPD? The BPD are afraid of the students packing? BTW, I’m living in Berkeley, and have for the last 30 years. In many neighborhoods, including Alcatraz Ave.

  78. Pot does not equal violence. You are taking my comments out of context. I’m saying pot when combined with money and trade often results in violence in the hands of youth.

  79. Looking at the law that Bruce Love cites, I see that principals are REQUIRED to immediately suspend and recommend for expulsion any students who bring a firearm onto campus, and that the governing board is REQUIRED to expel them upon finding that they have brought a firearm onto campus.

    I suggest that parents should bring some relevant excerpts from the laws to school meetings. You can find the law at

    SECTION 48900-48927
    (c) The principal or superintendent of schools shall immediately
    suspend, pursuant to Section 48911, and shall recommend expulsion of
    a pupil that he or she determines has committed any of the following
    acts at school or at a school activity off school grounds:
    (1) Possessing, selling, or otherwise furnishing a firearm.
    (2) Brandishing a knife at another person.
    (3) Unlawfully selling a controlled substance

    (d) The governing board shall order a pupil expelled upon finding
    that the pupil committed an act listed in subdivision (c)

  80. Sharkey, you made the absurd thing:

    However I have to say that it’s a bit shocking that a hypothetical drug-dealing baby rapist teenager with a garage full of pipe bombs who stabbed a neighbor in the eye with a rusty fork couldn’t be expelled from their school unless they comitted one of those crimes [in the course of school attendance or activity]

    Such a kid would likely be incarcerated so your hypothetical is moot and misleading.

  81. Every Berkeley resident has a right and duty to be critical of the performance of our schools. It is practically impossible to move classes because so many non-Berkeley students have over crowded everything. All the priority is given to achievement gap rather than developing every students to his/her best. Yes there is some quality, but not nearly in proportion to what Berkeley residents deserve if their tax funds were not diverted.

  82. I’m not sure how the identification badges would help as some Berkeley High students carry the weapons. Metal detectors are also limited if access to the school is so easy that a gun could be snuck in (even I can think of multiple spots on the campus perimeter where I could toss a gun to someone). If anything, the metal detector would create a distraction. The current ‘ubiquitous’ security cameras have apparently been a limited deterrent too. I do support, however, locking down entrances that aren’t personally monitored by a security officer. The perimeter of the school also needs to be patrolled since Berkeley high students also attend classes in portables by Washington Elementary school. I have a child at Washington and don’t even want to imagine there exposure to these problems.

    Just as important – we have to address the underlying fear and reasons students are bringing weapons to school. I have heard almost nothing about the background and social circles of the students who have been arrested or how they have managed to get guns in the first place. The students themselves are the best source for understanding any problems and issues in the school environment. Regularly consulting with students alone can give an indication of unlawful gang or drug activity.

    Punishments also need to be much more severe. Besides increasing suspensions/expulsions, police and school officials need to meet with the entire family of problem students caught bringing weapons to school. Police also need to make regular lectures about what happens to students who bring any sort of weapon to school. Let’s find out which social circles are responsible for creating this mess and root them out of our schools.

    I like the idea of parents volunteering to keep an eye on the daily school activities. Regular communication between parents, students, security, and administration will be very key! The latest problems are definitely too important to let fade away until the next big offense…

  83. Sorry Bruce Love, go check Mill Valley, Albany, Piedmont, Accolonies or any other district that adds local funds to state ADA money. They all require that the student actually reside with the guardian and the guardian have legal responsability for the student. Berkeley is unique in allowing anyone to register any number of non-dependants.

  84. I just read 40 or more comments and all I can say is that the level of hysteria is incredible. The gun issue is real and should and will be dealt with, but take a step back a moment before you condemn BHS. Call the College Center and check out where BHS grads get into every year before you start throwing your money at bland and lower (yes, lower) performing private schools. Stop by and watch a play, or the orchestra, or the jazz band (they’ll blow your mind). Oh yeah, in case you missed the girls BBall team almost won state. Look at the statistics on how many students not only take IB and AP tests, but pass (with high scores no less). I could of course go on and on, but I’d hate to be accused of trying to divert attention away from the real issue, which is (as I gather from all these comments) the gangster drug-dealing thug students that run the school and scare the teachers. Now, of course, not all students are part of all these accolades. Yes, it’s true, not all 3400 students are applying to Yale, rowing crew, and playing jazz at Yoshi’s while wrapping up their IB diploma. Some are just middle of the road kids. Some are struggling daily to survive. And yes, some make really terrible decisions like bringing guns to school. No matter what we do, this will still be a reality. Changes at schools (especially things like IDs and metal detectors) are, at best, window dressings for society’s problems. Think for a second how safe you’d feel if this was your first day as a freshman at BHS: You walk through a metal detector, get your card scanned, and wait to get your bag searched. Your are asked to remove your hat (shades of blue) and you are subsequently late for first period. Sound fun? Sound inviting? Sound academic? Sound like even remotely close to a solution?

  85. The DA’s office is in the prosecution business. The police are in the enforcement and apprehension businesses.

    Unless the BPD apprehends someone they think has committed a crime, the DA never hears about. If this poster asking “Does the the BPD habitually make false arrests which in turn are given to the DA to charge?” I don’t think so.

    Mat Gold rose from the audience and gave the only unmotivated substantive assessment of the problem. Without his comments the entire evening would have been a complete waste of time.

    Just another tearful performance of “Sometimes I Feel Like an Under Served Child a Long Way from My School District” by BUSD’s professional enablers.

  86. Funny you should mention that, Berkopinionator — because the BUSD is planning to do JUST THAT — right over here at the Berkeley Adult School with the “Community School” That PROMISES a small class of 15 of these kids, plus 30 more in an independent studies program.

  87. In the early 2000’s there was an ID policy — in fact my son was checked on numerous occasions for not wearing his ID around his neck. Somewhere, I still have his last ID. They did do this — they didn’t enforce it. I think it’s a very good idea, and thought so back then when I son bitched about it. I think this policy needs to be implemented again and ENFORCED.

  88. My son got out of BHS in 2004. I recently told him about the incidents; his reply ‘Mom, you don’t even know how many kids at Berkeley High have guns.” My son wasn’t a “thug” he just knew everyone — including those who carried guns. It’s been happening for decades. When I was in BHS/East Campus I knew a guy who had a gun and nearly shot off one of his testicles, but not on campus. There were some guns I knew about back then, there are many more now.

  89. Oh man, thank God I am springing for a private HS education for my kid. These are the crux years and no way would I trust BHS, bless them all, to be the best for us at this point in the history of Berkeley schooling.

  90. You are flat out wrong. Legal guardianship is not a requirement per state law. Stop making stuff up.

  91. But that is just the point, no other district allows registration just because some one in the district is willing to give away school access. Every other district requires the sponsor be the legal guardian and the child to live with that in district adult. Berkeley has set up a system where registration is a joke. The joke is on tax payers and the children of Berkeley.

  92. Really? Thinking student’s should be safe at school is not in the realm of what we should be able to expect for them at Berkeley High School. Contra Costa or the South Bay doesn’t put up with this…and they are all liberal and multicultural. Only Berkeley’s view of “liberal” includes guns on campus AOK huh?

  93. They don’t enforce it because they are AFRAID of the students packing guns making an example of someone on campus by shooting them. What world are you living in? Perhaps a field trip to South Berkeley for a week or two might open up your world view.

  94. That’s almost laughable. As a parent, we had problems getting other adults to supervise student’s drug use (alcohol and marijuana) on high school field trips. They thought it was wrong…

  95. Berkeley High School should be a closed campus simply for student’s safety. It was before the 1989 earthquake, but was opened because of food service issues after the cafeteria collapsed. I believe this defect has been long remedied but in spite of the school safety committees ongoing recommendations over the last 20 years, it remains open to off campus intruders. A closed campus is the standard in other urban area in California but has been impossible to achieve simply because “it’s Berkeley”. No other community allows their student’s safety to be undermined by liberal facists arguing civil liberties. The community has allowed a standard that is negligent towards it student’s safety.. SHAMEFUL.

  96. Unfortunately, anyone who mentions that school violence and the achievement gap are artifacts of the purposefully invalid registration system is attacked for not being true to Berkeley leftism.

  97. “Only in Berkeley would drug dealers and other assorted thugs exploiting high school students spark a debate about civil liberties, of all things”

    This is a demonstrably false statement. If you think only people in Berkeley question the drug war and hysterical calls for intensification of government surveillance and restrictions on freedom, you’re completely wrong.

  98. Ok, Berkeley Dissident. Are we allowed to fact check him? Let’s please see a list of his specific claims, since comments on Berkeleyside seem to indicate no to people heard quite the same thing.

  99. You’ve discredited yourself with your fixation on developing your fatuous pot=violence equivalence. Come up with another pseudonym and start again. Sorry.

  100. Bless the DA for speaking up and telling everyone the truth, even though they don’t want to hear it. We have a very dangerous small group of hardcore criminals who have already been convicted of felonies and are still carrying guns to school. Those bad boys need to be permanently removed from BHS. They do not have a legal right to pick the schools they attend. This urgent security problem is not about pot. It is about a small group of dangerous juvenile criminals carrying guns to school and terrorizing the community. Demand the school board revise their written policies and procedure to permanently (not one year) remove of all violent convicted felons from BHS. Those juveniles criminals do NOT have a legal right to attend BHS! They need to be in their own special program where they can receive the supervision they need and deserve. The 99% of good kids at Berkeley High that aren’t carrying guns, committing armed robberies and burglaries deserve safety at school. Take the thugs away!

  101. Actually, no, private schools are accountable, they’re accountable to parents.

    That’s a lot more than we can say about Berkeley High school on the safety issue.

    I was born in this town. This has been an issue for decades, not just for parents, but for people who live and work in the area around Berkeley High School.

    It’s time to grow up and take the simple, responsible step of closing the campus, asking everyone who enters campus to prove they belong at the school — as so many other schools do — and police the area around the school to insure that the muggings and drug dealing that have been going on for decades in that area comes to a stop.

  102. Cover up, deny, dissemble. That’s been the BUSD’s modus operandi for decades.

    So bravo for the assistant DA.

    It shows a profound RESPECT for the people of Berkeley that he chose to share the relevant facts with us.

    Why shouldn’t a public official disclose information that should be public at a public meeting?

    Now it’s time to act on the information, like adults, and do the responsible thing: close the campus.

    It’s a best practice at high schools around the country. Berkeley High School should be no different.

  103. @WL, are you really suggesting that the DA is lying because the City of Berkeley’s ill maintained community crimeview map doesn’t have dots on BHS? I trust the DA is telling the truth when he says that he has reviewed every single police report coming out of BHS. His position gives him total access to the facts. Juvenile crime is historically under-reported by school administrators that are afraid that the truth will make them look bad if the facts are known. California’s Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Statute requires that mandated reporters including, teachers, immediately report suspected crimes against children to the police, is routinely ignored by school employees who think they know better, and that calling the police won’t help. It is a crime for a Mandated Reporter, including a teacher or school administrator, to fail to immediately report a crime against a child to the police. The reports are that BHS didn’t want witnesses to speak the truth about a football player. Any BUSD staff member that fails to report crimes against children to the police is a criminal under California law, and should be fired.

  104. Only in Berkeley would drug dealers and other assorted thugs exploiting high school students spark a debate about civil liberties, of all things. Idiocy. I’ve been in Berkeley for decades and it’s the same damned hot-air every time. I’m sick of it.

  105. So what? They’re safer. Moreover, they’re a stick that can be used to hold the mainline schools accountable. It’s been decades and Berkeley residents have had the same complaints. Complaints that have been responded to with liberal brow-beating, guilt-tripping, empty promises, and evasions. Enough is enough.

  106. I grew up in Berkeley. The public schools in Berkeley have abandoned us.

    They BUSD has refused to listen to the community’s concerns about safety for decades.

    They need to be held accountable. They’re spending our tax dollars, and they’re educating our children.

  107. For the sake of full disclosure I need to mention that I went to a charter high school.

    It was located in a separate building on the campus of another high school. We used many of the same facilities as the rest of the students, but had a schedule that was slightly different so that we only mingled with the other students during the lunch period.

    It was safer than the high school I would have gone to otherwise (in a different part of town), offered more rigorous curriculum, gave students the opportunity to do internships with local businesses as part of their high school education (actually this was REQUIRED), and every single member of my graduating class went on to graduate from a four-year college or university.

    Perhaps the school I went to simply benefited from being able to pick and choose the students they admitted, but I can say with certainty that it improved *MY* educational outcome simply by putting me together with other students who were serious about education and separating us from the ass-clowns who were at school to cause trouble.

  108. WL

    it is common knowledge that Crime view community is not updated regularly by any means. The daily bulletin has disappeared as well. BPD is very understaffed, and they have been replacing their records system with a new CAD/RMS system over the last couple of years.

    Chief Meehan has stated publicly numerous times that the dept is woefully behind and he does not get crime stats timely sometimes 6 weeks dated.

  109. I believe Culper was referring to the Assistant District Attorney, not the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  110. The Berkeley Police Department has a Community Crime View website ( that allows one to track crimes that were reported within the last 180 days. Any crime reports seen by a deputy D.A. should be reflected in the statistics on this site. If the information from the Berkeley Police Dept is accurate, Mr. Golde may have overstated his case.

  111. By virtue of the simple fact that charter schools are funded by public education monies but are not required to adhere to the same standards as public schools. Stated very simply, charter schools are publicly funded but not publicly accountable.

    Additionally, there’s no evidence whatsoever that charter schools improve educational outcomes among students.

  112. Who is hating on REALM and why?

    From what I’ve read, it sounds great.
    Charter schools do a much better job of educating students with unique interests who actually want to learn than the industrialized model of school that BHS represents.

  113. Exactly, it all comes back to parenting. The schools can’t raise these kids, the parents need to do it.

  114. What makes you say that Oakland Tech is worse? If all else fails, just point to Oakland? I think you are wrong. Oakland Tech has been written up as the “it” school and has undergone a lot of change. There are bad apples there, no doubt, but it is news to me that it is worse than what I read in this article.

  115. For all you REALM HATERS out there, yes it takes money from a failing institution that is TOO BIG, TOO DUMB, TOO MISMANAGED and TOO BLOATED and tries something a little different. I suppose one could ask, “could it be worse than the traditional High School experience?”

  116. Berkeley has its fair share of criminals and lamers but the BUSD is notorious for letting in students of out of resident families on some very SLIM identification. Old rental agreements, families with similar names. There’s a whole section on how to game it at the BPN:
    But, of course its not the true problem. It just adds to population issues and crowding and resource stress. The City has not grown much at all-total population is down from it’s heights from decades ago. So, school growth is not proportionate to census reports.
    Even if they are good students, its 100% not fair to degrade the taxpayer’s resource and overburden the system to make up for budget holes. That money could be used for security, wellness, good counselors, events and so forth. Berkeley High School is too big and the BUSD cannot run this small city with city problems

  117. My child, now in her late twenties, started out in a public school in 1987, for kindergarden. In 1987, in any public school in the great Twin Cities area of Minnesota (Minneapolis, St. Paul and virtually all suburbans schools, including private schools) no one has allowed to enter a school without demonstrating they belonged there. Students had ID. FAculty had ID. Parents had kids or else went into the office to get a pass. It was always this way for my daughter’s education. Soon, I enrolled her in a very small private school (a Waldorf school) and, although that school had no formal ID program, nobody ever entered the building without having a clear relationship to being there.

    And when I was a kid in grammar school in Chicago in the late sixties and seventies, no one who did not belong in a school was ever allowed into school buildings. We didn’t have security guards or screening machines but there was security. Adults, hall monitor types, paid attention to who came in and if the person didn’t belong there i.e. was known to be a part of the school’s life, they had to ID themselves.

    I don’t see why it is such a big leap to establish a standard for basic safety at any school. No one has a legitimate reason to be in a school that should not be willing to be identified: students, faculty, support staff, maintenance staff. Parents should have to identify themselves. Delivery people should have to use a delivery entrance and, when not expected, identify themselves.

    Recently, I visited a library at Stanford. I had to show ID to walk in. It wasn’t rigorous. They just want to know who is in there. If I wanted to use the library, they anotated my Driver’s LIcense and assigned me a code to get to their online materials: basic security.

    I belong to the Sports Rec FAcilities at UC Berkeley: I have to flash an ID every time I enter. Partly the system proves I have paid to use the facility but also it keeps the whole system informed regarding who is in the place.

    It’s not such a big deal, to keep track of who enters a public building that is accessible by several thousand people who have legitimate reasons to be there. No one person can know all those people. An ID system is minimal security.

    There are children in the halls of Berkeley High School. Every child in there — and they are all legally children until they turn 18, all the responsibility of the common to be kept safe in that space — and it is an eminently reasonable intrusion into individual privacy to maintain the wellbeing of the whole.

    I don’t really care if some of the children object to using ID. Tough bounce. When they grow up, they can complete their education, obtain positions of responsibility and change the world. But right now, they are children, subject to the best judgments of the adult community. Any child who refuses to use ID can arrange other education, such as online homeschooling or schools for problem kids or a charter school or a GED night school program. These children have a right to a free education but not a right to set al the parameters of their experience. Minors don’t have the same ‘rights’ of self direction that adults have.

  118. REALM?
    The REALM charter school of Victor Diaz & McBride/BOCA?

    Diaz’ reign at B-Tech was no great shakes–do some research.
    And, take a look at their website: they clearly state that seats in their “school” are promised to their board, school employees / volunteers, and BOCA affiliates. If there is any room for more students, they’ll be chosen by lottery.
    How does this charter school bypass restrictions re public school funds and religion? Seems like a huge number of the folks backing this school are from the “faith based” community.

    I’d rather see BUSD/BHS get it together than have district funds diverted for a charter which seems to cater to a select student body gathered from a select community.. and a few, select “lucky” others.

    In regards to REALM’s computer game based curriculum: if I wanted my kids to play video games all day, I’d drop them at Eudomonia.

  119. Why should society bother to educated armed violent convicted felons anywhere but inside a prison?

  120. No, I don’t misunderstand. Students who were deemed too dangerous for other schools got sent there. However I think the reason it was legal in this case is that students were generally sent there after causing trouble *on* a school campus and not as a result of what they did *off* campus.

    However I have to say that it’s a bit shocking that a hypothetical drug-dealing baby rapist teenager with a garage full of pipe bombs who stabbed a neighbor in the eye with a rusty fork couldn’t be expelled from their school unless they comitted one of those crimes

    (1) While on school grounds.
    (2) While going to or coming from school.
    (3) During the lunch period whether on or off the campus.
    (4) During, or while going to or coming from, a school sponsored

    When the administrators hands are so thoroughly tied, it’s no wonder the schools are being over-run with problem students.

  121. They should designate this high school a “Gun Free School Zone”. Of course, it would have as much success as this school’s “Drug Free School Zone” designation.

    I find it ironic how the places with the most liberal (read: “anti-gun”) residents always seem to have out of control crime problems, while those with the most conservative (read: “pro-gun”) populations have safe streets, schools and parks that families can enjoy without fear……connection?

  122. The ADA is not directly applicable to the concept of mainstreaming criminals in public schools. If some administrators used such inappropriate analogies, they might not be good critical thinkers and might be working in positions that exceed their intellectual ability. I am sure the school district has access to competently trained legal minds to set them straight. The ADA does not apply to how schools have to treat criminals.

  123. we had to hand over residency verification that was pretty strict in order to register our son for kindergarden next year. I’m sure they have to do that for all new registration, true? So it’s unlikely to me that these kids don’t have some family member or guardian in Berkeley, otherwise, how did they get it? This makes me suspect that this isn’t the root of the problem.

  124. You are wrong, DougM. Your comment makes it sound like BUSD has to assign a personal home teacher to every single student who refuses to wear an ID badge and that is just not true.

  125. this is nothing, but a reflection of our society..they are talking to the wrong group of parents if you ask me..and this is coming from a parent of color….unless the parents from North and Central Berkeley are willing to cough up $$ for early intervention/job programs it’s in your best interest to teach your children how to duck, cover, and stay outta the way of the riff raff..

  126. Sharkey, I suspect you just misunderstand what the alternative school you are thinking of was doing. What people are calling for here is kicking out every kid on parole or who has ever been convicted of anything. That is unlawful – when it is such a broad sweep. Read the freakin’ code, please, you seem smart enough! Please don’t add more “noise of confusion” to the discussion.

  127. The county I grew up in had a special “alternative” high school for juvenile criminals, which had much higher security, smaller class sizes, and more individual attention than regular schools in the county.

    I have a hard time believing that a system that’s been in place in a major California county’s school system for decades is illegal.

  128. The law you are interested in encompasses state and federal law and involves court precedents going back more than a century and all the way to the US Supreme Court.

    The California Education Code is probably the most directly relevant to your questions. You can find it here:

    For fairly obvious equal protection reasons, students are able to enroll in their district’s school “by right”. To remove this right from a particular student generally requires a temporary suspension or a longer lasting expulsion.

    The legislature has, over the years, sought to balance the right of students’ to an education with school safety and with federal requirements. The results are mainly found in section 48900-48927 (chapter 6 Article 1).

    The prohibition against automatically expelling kids on the basis of (certain) crimes committed outside of school attendance or activities can be found in 48900(s).

    I think it is safe to say that one of the intents of this legislation – an intent that likely can’t be reversed without changing the U.S. Constitution – is to preserve student rights to due process and equal protection under the law. Students who are caught and and convicted of crimes not related to to school are not in the school’s jurisdiction on those matters.

    Finally, principals and superintendents can try to expel a student where they think that there is a clear and present danger to school safety. Again, though, that is a juridical process. The student can (and should) have an attorney. The laws I mentioned above raise the bar significantly raise the bar for proving that danger. Such an expulsion can be challenged in an appeals courts. It would be hard to change the policy along the lines you seem to suggest without quickly running afoul of the US Constitution.

  129. Absolutely. There is NO REASON for any school anywhere at any time to have an “open campus.”

    I do not have a child at the school, but I did ask around for info when the shootings occurred last year. The argument I heard last year for the open campus was a lack of lunchroom space. Recently, I heard that is not so. That can be corrected, one way or another.

    Also, I now understand that the food served on campus comes from the Alice Waters gourmet program. So comments about “bad cafeteria food” being all that’s available even at this moment would be irrelevant. And if it’s not great or what it should be, it can be fixed, too.

    Most students I’ve seen milling all over Shattuck Avenue at lunch time are NOT eating healthy foods at all. They’re eating junk.

    Close the campus. Check the ID cards. Make the campus safe. Do this now.

  130. Heres a simple rule. Unless you can prove residency with a rental check or tax bill, you don’t get to go here. That will stop the city versus city crap.
    BUSD is gaming the subsidy and inviting out of towners to the school to get the bounty money

  131. work for a city adjacent to yours – not a skateboarding-friendly city, either, so we’ve never met…

  132. Theres a new middle and high school starting. i ink I need to get in there quick if this keeps up. bUSD is clueless kn so many levels.
    Google REALM school- started by people who are sick of it. Its charter, and publically funded and BUSD hates it because they are taking money from the bad schools and trying so ething different. But they are really, really mad because BUSD fakes their books and they need as much cash as possible to fund the insane and bankrupt pension system via bonds, taxes and scrimping on services.

  133. The fact is, the BUSD is running a puppymill and they do not care that much. The district gets federal bounty, state subsidies for every kid in that school. So, BUSD invites trash and anyone else who can rig the system to go there. Give us your unwashed, your violent, your academically suspect children. We need the cash.
    There are kids from Richmond and Oakland there- and they rarely add much to the party except the violence. Even if they were brilliant, they shouldn’t be there eating up some other districts resources at the expense of the local residents.
    Theres a reason why offshoots like REALM are starting, or kids are going private or parochial. The BUSD has a too big to handle school, with too many people but too much money at stake to shake it out.
    I really doubt I will send my kid there- and I’m glad the BUSD will not get an 8000 dollar bounty.
    The BUSD is thiking their wallets, their pensions only-so of course those corrupt bureauhacks are underwhelming.

  134. 3. Metal detectors are used widely in airports, courts and other buildings. In fact, every passenger flying in the US has gone through a metal detector for the past decade because 19 guys with box cutters wreaked havoc a in 2001.

    No, metal detectors were introduced to US airports in the early 1970s after some hijackings. Since 2001, more restrictions were added on what passengers can bring on to a plane. Terrorists responded to that circumstance with a succession of innovation in the types of weapons they used, leading to “sniffers” and full body scanners. Most security experts not speaking for the government agree that it is a fairly straightforward matter for terrorists to bring weapons and explosives on to planes – and that most of these increased measures since 2001 have not contributed to safety. From time to time authorized and unauthorized persons “test” airport security. They generally find little difficulty getting weapons on to planes. (My favorite expert quipped that the only things that have increased airplane security since 2001 is making cockpit doors more secure and teaching passengers to fight back.)

    Meanwhile, all of these security measures have cost an enormous amount money, created a false sense of security, and have lowered people’s guard against unjustified and intrusive searchers. At a high school, metal detectors have the additional drawbacks of “making a game of it” and leading to more busts for far more minor offenses. The rather horrifying possibility, to my mind, is that some corrupt folks are going to wind up selling BUSD a security system bill of goods for kickbacks, while naive parents cheer the whole thing on.

    While no one has been killed at BHS, there have been numerous instances of guns FOUND in the past year. Since the number of guns on campus could be higher than the number of guns found, then the problem could be more severe. Thus, in comparison to the rationale for using metal detectors in airports, it seems more logical to use them at BHS where the number of instances of dangerous weapons is higher.

    The comparison is no good. The physical design of airports and schools are very different. The economics (how to get the most threat reduction per dollar spent) are very different.

    4. The gun was fired. It seems improbable that the gun went off “by accident”. Triggers don’t often pull themselves.

    Very often, people design or tune hand guns to have “hair triggers” that go off accidentally very easily. That is why you hear stories like a gun going off in class when a kid plops his backpack down on his desk.

    Thus, the most plausible explanation is that someone fired this weapon either to hurt someone or to scare someone.

    Not at all.

    The bullet that was fired went through a wall and could have easily hit someone by accident.

    All too true.

  135. If “the law” prevents school districts from sending juvenile felons to their own special program, away from BHS, then the law needs to be changed. I and have never seen any part of the Education Code that actually says that a juvenile criminal on probation for a violent felony cannot be permanently reassigned to their own special program. If anyone, including the school board, has an actual citation to a statute or case that requires BUSD to keep dangerous armed felons at BHS I’d sure like to see it. I don’t think there is a judge or jury in California that would second guess the district if they were to send the hardcore group of armed juvenile felons to their own special program to protect the safety and welfare of students and staff. Show me “the law” that requires us to keep these dangerous thugs at Berkeley High and I will fight to change it.

  136. Ah for the days of Mr. Parker; he was tough, fair and all the boys were terrified of being sent to his office.
    BTW his title WAS “Dean of Boys.”

  137. If you ain’t Gay, huggin’ a tree, or hatin’ this country – how could one possible expect BUSD to listen to you??? You’re not “real”

  138. Violent behavior starts at the home. When violent kids enter kindergarten, teachers can see who has violent tendencies. BUSD does not have the resources to help these violent kids learn new behaviors, so when they grow up, they become violent adults. If you want to help end violence at Berkeley High, you need to do a better job supporting and retraining kids that are violent earlier on.

  139. Looks like “blaming society” – or, “the MAN”, isn’t quite working, anymore……

  140. A few points:

    1. If this problem is not fixed, the people who can, will vote with their feet and either move or pay for private high schools. There has been a modest return of high achieving kids from the wealthier neighborhoods of Berkeley in the last few years into the public school system. A lot of parents I know who send their kids to private elementary actually choose BHS because of programs that have been implemented to serve kids who are college bound. Having those parents involved means that the school has people with more resources in terms of time and money that can contribute which will enhance everything. The school should do what it can to keep these people.

    2. This is a police matter. Since carrying these weapons is illegal – to the best of my knowledge it is illegal for underage students to be carrying weapons, to conceal these weapons and to smuggle them onto school grounds – the matter should be handled by the police. BHS administration should simply clarify that they are turning the matter over to the police who will make the proper recommendations. Whether those are banning gang clothing, setting up a more restricted policy of entering the school and/or metal detectors, should be up to the police not BHS administration.

    3. Metal detectors are used widely in airports, courts and other buildings. In fact, every passenger flying in the US has gone through a metal detector for the past decade because 19 guys with box cutters wreaked havoc a in 2001. While no one has been killed at BHS, there have been numerous instances of guns FOUND in the past year. Since the number of guns on campus could be higher than the number of guns found, then the problem could be more severe. Thus, in comparison to the rationale for using metal detectors in airports, it seems more logical to use them at BHS where the number of instances of dangerous weapons is higher.

    4. The gun was fired. It seems improbable that the gun went off “by accident”. Triggers don’t often pull themselves. Thus, the most plausible explanation is that someone fired this weapon either to hurt someone or to scare someone. The bullet that was fired went through a wall and could have easily hit someone by accident.
    It seems that with multiple guns being smuggled onto campus and now beginning to go off, it is only a matter of time until a child is hurt or killed.

  141. Berkeley is not as homogenious as outsider trolls would like to think.

    You would think that all the argument and dissenting opinions among neighbors seen on this site would make that clear.

  142. The elephant in the room that nobody will mention for fear of being branded against “diversity” or worse. 1999-2003 saw a large influx of out of illegal out of district students (BUSD’s enrollment was down, they wanted the funding and looked the other way). Those kids are now in high school. So Berkeley residents bust their asses to afford to be able to live in Berkeley, vote for bonds and parcel taxes every chance they get, and basically do everything they can to provide a great environment for their children and it’s stolen and squandered by fraudsters and lazy administrators.

  143. Berkeley gets what it deserves! “I’m okay, you’re okay” mentality……. question authority ….. bury your kid

  144. Every parent who is forced(by law, they will be truant if they dont attend) to send their kids to schools that are unsafe should sue the district to fund a private school education.

  145. It’s a pity so few on this thread appeared to have caught the 2008 Berkeley Rep. production, “Yellowjackets” which exposed many of Berkeley High’s manifold foibles to a wider public. The playwright, Itamar Moses, was a BHS alumnus from the 1990s and the editor of the student newspaper. An SF Gate review noted:

    Racial conflicts, sexual awakenings, sexism, bullying, clueless adults, gangs, love problems, family demands, drugs, inflexible rules, kids hoping to game the system and teachers trying to close down the school newspaper unless it complies with their ideological demands – oh yes, and academics. Itamar Moses crams enough issues into “Yellowjackets” to fill a theater season.

    Or, enough issues for a typical staged meeting…

  146. Setting up special charter schools dedicated to specific interests – which are part of the public school system – is tantamount to abandoning public schools?

    How, exactly, is expanding the public school system to allow students to attend schools that focus on special interests they might have *abandoning* the public school system?

  147. Here’s part of a conversation I overheard one afternoon, a few days ago, as I was walking in a group of Latino boys on the sidewalk across the street from Berkeley High:

    #1: You got expelled? What did you get expelled for?
    #2: They caught us on video. Me and some other guys jumped a bunch of n*****s over at King.

    He was referring to King Middle School, located about a mile away in Berkeley.

  148. Thank you for contributing.
    Your comment clearly adds to the discussion.
    Your opinion is highly valued.

  149. I forgot to add that Scuderi contacted Golde Monday morn and the school administration know that Matt was planning on attending the high school meeting, since he is not only the DA whose job it is to share this type of information with the community, but lives here and has kids in our schools.

    Enough shooting the messenger….

    how about getting real and serious about true reforms.

  150. Not when it gets in the way of others’ education. Plenty of time outside of school for “creative expression”.

  151. They still can’t yell fire in a crowded theater. No one is talking about expression here, except the students expressing they want to feel safe.

  152. Many public schools get lots of money from the state for accepting juvenile delinquents. That money is factored into thier budgets.

  153. We had a similar policy at my high school in central California in the mid-to-late-80s.
    Seniors with good grades and no marks on their permanent record were allowed to leave campus for lunch, but everyone else was required to stay on campus all day.

    Nobody thought it was oppressive, and everyone was actually impressed with how much freedom Seniors got.

  154. Sorry DougM, but that is not true. If these students are logged as truants and District policy is set to require identification for attendance, that allows them to restrict access (same as suspension). As truants, they can be sent to Juvenile Detention while awaiting “Social Justice” program engagement, and can receive education through the local County Correctional System.

  155. Deirdre and Alina,

    As you correctly say “I don’t have any basis for evaluating his statements”

    But many of us do, as our kids were the victims, and we have done the fighting to fix these massive security failures for years.

    The district agreed to meet with parents of school crime rsponsible for contactign the DA and other experts in the hopes we could FINALLY see progress withing BUSD.

    Once again, we are being strung along and stonewalled.

    The first request went out last spring, we have sent reminders numerous times, and received email responses from the district student services director Susan Craig stating the she and Principal Scuderi was very interested in attending.

    However the meeting still is not scheduled. We asked Matt Golde for assistance, and he has attended safety meetings in the fall.

    Board members are aware of the agreement to meeting with us, so as some city council members, yet the district continues to put off scheduling the meeting.

    Without proper sharing of information, monitoring and supervision of offenders, the level of violence at BHS and in the community will continue to a major problem and the school will be stuck in crisis mode reacting not preventing violent crime.

  156. A few points…

    I had to wear a uniform to school and it was strictly enforced. I never felt like my rights (what rights anyway?) were infringed upon. It was what it was and that’s all, nothing more. Today, I work and struggle some days to figure out what to wear… a uniform would make one decision easier each day!

    How involved is the BHS PTA? Some schools have extremely involved PTAs; they hold schools accountable and also provide their own time and resources to fund initiatives that might deal with some of the issues at BHS.

    Finally, kids are kids. They are young and learning and make mistakes along the way. Although we expect them to behave most of the time they must be held accountable for serious mistakes and learn and understand consequences. If their parents won’t do that then the community must do that.

    Unless BHS takes decisive action as it stands today I would do whatever I can to keep my kids from going there. But for the sake of our community I hope that BHS can turn itself around and be a safe, disciplined, top public school – every community needs them.

  157. Berkeleyside, is there a way to further investigate his statements?
    Also, I know nothing on how ‘the system’ processes juvenile cases. Are BPD/BUSD/DA coordinating somehow?.. So the kid that allegedly committed murder but is still waiting to be charged… is he attended classes at BHS right now?
    Or let’s say some other kid is charged and convicted of armed robbery. Then what? Goes to Juvenile Hall for a couple of years and then is on probation and back at Berkeley High?

  158. This is interesting. The school district is essentially extending the concept of mainstreaming the disabled under the ADA (like teaching a deaf student in a regular class with an interpreter) to criminality – to wit, criminality is a disability.

    Consider what this means. A student who assaults and robs another now falls under a protected class and receives benefits such as special instruction, counseling, etc.

    Meanwhile, in order to pay for the mainstreaming of a criminal, benefits are reduced for all other students who are not considered disabled by criminality, including their victims.

    Wow, I doubt the people who passed the ADA ever saw this one coming….

  159. Give the kids a break. The first amendment protects their rights to creative expression.

  160. Give the kids a break. The first amendment protects their rights to creative expression.

  161. Make the IDs the mechanism for entering campus as someone suggested earlier. No ID, no entrance. The district must be able to protect the safety of students and staff, and focus energy and resources on learning. There would be additional expense initially. It seems to me that even the BUSD could require that. I think it’s better than metal detectors. There would need to be a number of them available, like BART, with safety personnel to facilitate mass entrance and prevent the sharing of IDs.

  162. Exactly. Yet the BUSD has been unwilling to take this simple step. It’s been a complaint those of us in the community have made, for DECADES. Yet they do nothing about it. The BUSD is an unaccountable and out of control. The surest sign: Berkeley is chock full of private schools that promise a safety and security for children, accountability to parents, and an empowering environment that lets teachers enforce order and discipline in the class room.

  163. Vouchers. I have a right to opt out of this madness. Give me a voucher. I’m not rich, but I need a safe environment for my child. The BUSD is out of control, and it has been for decades.

  164. When I went to high school in the 1970s in Southern California, the campus was closed–period. No students could come or go without a consent form from parents, verified by the staff, that leaving campus was to go to the dentist or a doctor, etc.

    The kids were cooped up together from start to finish. It was considered normal and safer than how Berkeley High School is currently.

    The gates were staffed all day, unlocked, but staffed. Outsiders were not allowed in. ID cards were checked.

    Big Brother? Not really.

  165. “Students should be required to wear photo ID badges while on campus. Anyone who doesn’t will be suspended. Period.”

    Bear in mind that if students who decide not to wear the badges in protest of the restriction are suspended, the district is still legally responsible for educating them – either in another school, or with a home teacher – at the district’s expense. If there wasn’t widespread buy-in among the student community, that could develop into a rather expensive policy.

  166. Its not the job of “paid professionals to figure out a way to engage our young people to be productive citizens”. That’s the job of the parent, it’s these paid professionals that are to educate the kids. Lets not forget the role of parents in this mess.

  167. I’m sure if we gave this issue to the Peace and Freedom commission , they would solve everything. HEH

  168. Well, maybe what we need is some decent charter schools that are aimed at kids who want to go to college and don’t want to be subjected to what amounts to organized crime while they’re trying to go to school.

  169. Because private schools can exclude misbehaving students based on behavior, with no repercussions or accountability to anyone.

  170. Ah, for the days of Pumpsie Green! Guns, violence, and non students are not acceptable on campus. Frankly, I think we should bring back tracking, but of course, that would be politically incorrect. My husband and I graduated from BHS in 1968, our son graduated in 2001, and basically the only thing we could see that was the same about the school (besides a few teachers) was the actual physical location and some of the buildings (the B Building, opened my first year at BHS, burned down while our son was there). I don’t know what to say–we pay taxes for this school, but I don’t think anyone is going to be able to fix things, given today’s political correctness.

  171. it is CROWDED; and 2]it is DIVERSE meaning there are a lot of different kinds of kids and families and teachers and staff with a lot of different kinds of needs and expectations and managing all of that is REALLY HARD.

    Then it is time to make sure that BHS kids actually live here. SF is taking care of the problem by eliminating non SF kids and we should too. It is estimated that 30% of the kids do not live here and we do not have the resources to continue to fill our classes with them…. Heck, no wonder the Bart stations and buses outside the school are busy with kids commuting to high school from outside the area.

  172. Anyone who has attended Berkeley High knows this isn’t new. When I was there 10 years ago it was the same story. And it isn’t just “ghetto” drug related activity that makes B-High feel unsafe either. “Freshmen Fridays” weren’t exactly the most comforting thing for a young kid to go through…administration looking the other way while middle class/wealthy north Berkeley kids hazed the freshmen with paddles and eggs.

    Believe it or not, I hear things are actually getting better. The fact that people are getting caught with guns is an improvement. Its not like there weren’t any guns before. Still a lot of work to do though. Being PC about students’ rights is just hindering their safety. Wonder why private schools seem safer?

  173. Those juveniles criminals do NOT have a legal right to attend BHS!

    Students caught bringing a gun to school are recommended for (and likely to receive) expulsion.

    Students convicted of many kinds of crimes commited off campus and not “related to school activity or attendence” may not be expelled for those crimes (California Education code 48900(s)).

    Demand the school board revise their written policies and procedure to permanently (not one year) remove of all violent convicted felons from BHS.

    Such a policy would not be consistent with state law. In fact, readmission hearings after the last day of the semester following the semester of the expulsion are mandatory. More to the point, in any such expulsion or readmission hearing the student has the right to be represented by an attorney and attornies who specialize in this area are likely to fight such a policy. Such a fight can be carried over into higher courts.

  174. Golde said he was speaking based on arrests with police reports brought to him for prosecution. He was unable to prosecute in many instances because teachers and/or other students did not want to testify against these guys. It could be individuals, not the culture of the administration, per se. But what does this behavior say about our chances to stem this conduct? Another student reported that based on her experience, there were two males who were in one of her classes, sitting in the back on the floor, who were not BHS students, and were from outside. It wasn’t until some student from the class later reported it, that the substitute teacher from her class asked them to leave the campus. Is there no attendance? How can substitutes tell who is really a student?

  175. I too was surprised that the DA would come and speak as a member of the public. I don’t have any basis for evaluating his statements — they could be 100% accurate for all I know. It just seems like an odd approach. (Note: I was not at the meeting.) Can anyone shed any light on this?

  176. Tracy, I think that it is a red herring to say that it’s the media glamorization of guns that is at fault and Scuderi needs to be called on that. Come on, it’s the ready availability of guns out on the street and the sub-culture of violence as a way to deal with conflict that puts the guns in kids hands. Once kids bring them to school, the school has to deal with it instead of blaming the media. And if it was generally known that bringing guns to BHS was a sure fire way to be 1. Expelled and 2. Suffer the full consequences of the law, and that BHS was committed to doing that, that would be a giant first step.

  177. I was not able to attend the event last night, so thank you, Berkeleyside, for reporting on this meeting.

    Unlike other commenters here, I think it’s too bad Matthew Golde’s felt compelled to make such provocative and incendiary remarks at the meeting. I can’t tell whether he is a current BHS parent, but in any event I doubt he spends very much time actually on campus or in downtown Berkeley, so his likely hyperbole is quite a bit less persuasive. When he speaks of “rampant” crime, is he speaking of convictions or allegations? They’re not the same thing, though I know some DAs who think they are. How can he be so confident he actually knows what happened in alleged incidents that he argues were subject to “cover up”????? Was it really professional for Mr. Golde to attend and make such assertions yesterday? I was not there, so I cannot fully evaluate this, but I’m skeptical.

    Nonetheless, Berkeley High is indeed a difficult place. There are many things that make it difficult, and the two factors at the top of my list: 1]it is CROWDED; and 2]it is DIVERSE meaning there are a lot of different kinds of kids and families and teachers and staff with a lot of different kinds of needs and expectations and managing all of that is REALLY HARD. And a lot of disrepectful behavior exists. Of course, bringing a deadly weapon anywhere near campus is profoundly disrepectful (and DANGEROUS!) behavior and cannot be tolerated, but I hope as BHS takes action on the immediate safety issue, BHS can also explore some broader issues relating to respect of the community. While I don’t have full information, it strikes me that a DA coming to a public meeting to make public assertions about cover-ups at Berkeley High doesn’t help in the respect category.

    Also disrepectful are teachers who assert they shouldn’t be required to teach kids “who don’t want to learn” (ok, that’s rare, but there are still teacher(s) who allow themselves to be quoted as saying such things). As a taxpayer, I recognize that a lot of different kids come to the school with a lot of different levels of attachment to academics and the school community. My hope and expectation is that the adults in the community — especially the paid professionals — figure out ways to engage our young people to be productive citizens, including but not limited to preparation for college. Obviously, if a kid brings a gun to school, that cannot be tolerated and the kid must be removed. But it’s not just the kid who has failed, and I do hope the adults can work together to make positive progress.

    And, in case the reader of this cannot tell, I will say that I’m in the “no metal detectors, please” camp. I hope BHS/BUSD doesn’t see the need to go in that direction.

  178. There are several good private high schools. Some require excellent grades. Most cost over $25K a year. Who’s up for that? And are we to abandon public education? Not all families can afford tuition like that, while saving for college.

  179. No, you’re right. After the ADA spoke, only parents responded. The administration said nothing. Earlier, it was stated by the administration that BUSD has to take the parolees under 18 back into the district for instruction. Mainstreaming seems to be the tactic, but while ideally that should work, we’re not dealing with an ideal situation here. Far from it. It was clear to all attending that these guys are the problems. And they bring with them all the tactics they’ve learned from being in the system. Sorry, but maybe they need to be isolated or hyper supervised. Convicted felons on parole or probation should not be attending classes there. Many African-Americans (several who spoke openly) admitted that they’re community has to step up and provide mentors to this boys. Men from their community have to get involved and help the situation. The pastor from BOCA attended and suggested this approach. One woman claimed to have two nieces and two nephews attending BUSD. I have to wonder how many people (not saying she was one) take their relatives into BUSD because otherwise, they’d be attending Oakland Tech, which by all accounts, is even worse. Where is the line? One has to be drawn.

  180. Get the BPD to enforce pot possession in the park next to the school. I was told that some administrators don’t enforce it on campus because of confidentiality laws re: medical marijuana. I didn’t know under 18 youths could be legitimately prescribed marijuana. ?? This is just an excuse for administration to stay uninvolved with the problem. Teachers (I can understand) don’t want to be turned into police. But something has to give.

  181. I went to BHS-we did not have gun incidents during that time, which was during the peak of the “crack era” which engulfed many neighborhoods with violence. There was definitely fights which I put into 3 categories a) outsiders from Richmond and Oakland schools coming to campus to fight with specific individuals, b) fights between BHS students-these fights were common between students/groups from neighborhoods that were feuding/fighting outside of school, c) random attacks (“Rat Packs”) where students were randomly beaten by students they did not no-basically violent bullying. Even with those, there were no discharges or brandishing of firearms, at least non made public. Everyone knew the B-building and basements of the G & H buildings were not a good place to be alone, between classes, and using the restroom-well-most used the ones downtown at McDonalds, etc.

    The bottom line is these kids are carrying in violence from the neighborhoods, which won’t change until that violence is quelled/eliminated/ended. I don’t have a solution for that.

  182. My understanding and observation, is that they are mainly on the Milvia side, but also on the MLKjr side, and intercept some students at lunch time or in the morning/afternoon. Perhaps these are kids that owe them drug money, or who’ve fallen into dealing or whatever. If you look at all the supposed shootings, here and elsewhere, even out so far as Danville, most incidents are related to drug deals gone bad, or rip-offs, etc. The park is a known haven for pot-heads. The police do not enforce there because Berkeley oh-so-correct people think it’s not a problem. It is. It is telling our kids that either there’s no problem with this behavior, or nothing will be done. This leaves them feeling vulnerable to these creeps who behave with impunity. I t h a s t o s t o p.

  183. @PorcelinaGrout: Berkeley Police Captain E. Upson was on the presentation panel and available for questions at the Forum meeting last night.

    It was unclear from Mr Golde’s comments whether he was referring to recent incidents or ones that took place some time ago. Certainly Principal Scuderi vehemently denied that there would be deliberate cover ups of any aspects of gun or violent activity at the school under his jurisdiction.

    Since we have been reporting on BHS and happenings there, the school administration seems to have been transparent about communicating incidents that happen on campus.

    Scuderi’s comments about the motives for bringing guns on campus were made in response to questions from Berkeleyside about whether there might be gang involvement. He went on to outline all that is being done at the school to deal with the situation. His comment was about how pervasive the image of guns is in our culture and how glamorized they are.

    Finally — and this is just a suggestion — but could it be that there were guns on campus in earlier years, but the subject was not being aired so much within the community? Or reported by media such as Berkeleyside?

  184. One unfortunate fact about life in Berkeley is that there will always be a small knot of loud hand-wringing citizens who oppose safety measures because they might “create an atmosphere of fear and could impinge on people’s civil liberties.”

  185. Thank you for your reporting on this, Berkeleyside, and thanks also to the parents who attended this meeting and posted about their experience. The most disturbing piece of this is that BUSD and BHS seem to be putting their own spin on the handgun incidents, and since we parents and community members get all of our information from the BHS/BUSD filter, we are not getting the whole story. The bigger story, as told by DA Matthew Golde, is much more alarming. Why was law enforcement not included as part of this presentation? It sounds like the DA was left to participate as part of the audience.

    I also want to comment about the idea voiced by the principal and others that there is a culture of guns and violence at BHS and in Berkeley, and that these incidents merely reflect that, so *shrug* what can we do?. If this is the case, why has this culture suddenly appeared in 2011 at BHS? What has changed? I do not remember any reports about guns at school in 1995 or 2001 when my children attended BHS. I don’t recall any news stories over the past 10 years about guns at BHS. I don’t think Berkeley as a community has become more violent in the past 10 years. So what gives?

  186. Most businesses require employees to have badges with their photos on them and to swipe the badge in order to enter the building. Visitors have to be admitted by the receptionist. Why not do the same at Berkeley High?

  187. Wow, I bet Mr. Golde’s statements were not well received by those who would like to continue the misguided status quo. As a parent of hopefully a future BHS student, I hope that the school administration and school board will take this as a wake up call that parents are not going to continue putting up with their inaction. Laura Menard has posted many examples of how her complaints have fallen on deaf ears. I hope that concerned parents will find some way to unite to address these very important issues.

  188. What are some good options for private schools in the area?

    I don’t think I want my kids subjected to this kind of crap, and if BHS is anything like the rest of the City of Berkeley all we’re going to get out of this is a lot of talking and no action.

  189. When characters gather near the school, where do they tend to gather — what points along the perimeter? Is the park patrolled? by BHS safety officers, or by police? I would also like to know more about the BHS safety officers (as you can tell, I’ve never been on campus…) Have most of them been there a long time? what kind of training do they undergo?

  190. I attended the meeting last night and was underwhelmed by the response to the situation from the administration. There are many, including some students, who don’t want to do anything to curtail the freedoms of the students to come and go, making it impossible to control who is on campus at any given time. They also don’t want the students to have to wear photo IDs, or go through metal detectors, or be subject to random searches, or have to wear uniforms to identify themselves as BHS students. All of this, while complaining that students don’t feel safe, and that’s why they bring guns and knives to school. In addition, there is a coterie of unseemly characters that linger outside the school during school hours, creating a threatening atmosphere that students feel they must protect themselves from when arriving or leaving the school grounds. All I could think was: no one is doing their jobs because they are afraid of being politically incorrect. 1. What are these characters doing outside the school grounds? I can think of only one reason: to sell drugs. Drugs go together with money, and then you have a real problem. Then comes the violence, the threats, the intimidation the beat downs, the fights, all of it. We in Berkeley like to think pot is okay, no big deal. But really, it is not okay for students to be smoking pot. Studies have linked pot use in young males to an increased incidence of schizophrenia in 20-25 year old men. Pot use creates a culture of “no big deal” and “I’ll deal with it later” attitudes among teens. And then there’s the culture of drugs/money/crime that goes along with it.

    I feel the start to a solution should be multi-faceted. 1. Continue the small group discussions with students. Increase dialogue between authorities and students to understand why students are fearful at school. It is reported that it’s a small number that are perpetrating these crimes. Get them out of the school. Keep them out. 2. Berkeley police should do more to keep the creeps from bordering the perimeter of the school. The administration should support this. Stops and searches should be made of those who linger in front of the school for more than some prescribed time period and are not students. Arrests should be made if they are carrying weapons or drugs. I’m sure some of these will be parolees. Students should be required to wear photo ID badges while on campus. Anyone who doesn’t will be suspended. Period. Close circuit cameras should be installed in stairwells not well traveled, or in the distant ends of campus. Safety staff should wear identifying badges or clothing. They should receive more training. If they are not up to the job at hand, fire them and get real safety personnel.

    Freedom has to go hand in hand with safety. These are not adults. Who says their freedoms should be the first concern when we are facing conditions such as these at the school. How can law enforcement do their jobs if they can’t limit the situation and control access to the campus?