Berkeley High School is currently on lockdown as we write. Prinpical Pasquale Scuderi issued an email to the parent community stating: “This is a precaution we are taking because we believe there were individuals with weapons on the perimeter.  All of our students are safe inside their classes and we will have more information to follow within the hour. The incident has been resolved.”

Berkeleyside will bring you updates as we get them.

3:50pm: The school is no longer on lockdown. Principal Scuderi will be issuing more details shortly, according to an email from BHS.

4:26pm: A BHS email newsletter reports: “There was a report of suspicious behavior outside the high school today and the school was temporarily on lockdown from 3:10 to 3:50pm. The Berkeley Police Department investigated, but found no weapons and no arrests were made.”

5:00pm: Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Sgt Mary Kusmiss reports that BPD received a call from BHS at about 3:10pm saying a parent had seen a young man with a possible black gun in his waistband on the western perimeter of the campus. Within 30 seconds of the call police officers were doing area checks. “A BHS Safety officer followed the subject at a distance and reported that he was last seen on Martin Luther King Jr. Way just north of Bancroft Way. BPD officers were in consistent communication and collaborated with the BHS principal, staff and safety officers throughout the response. BPD officers detained a group near the H building on the Martin Luther King Jr. Way side of the school campus. BPD conducted a field show up with the witness/parent who did not positively identify any member of the detained group. No weapon was found. BPD rebroadcast the description of the possible suspect and officers will continue to keep this individual in mind.”

7:00pm: Principal Scuderi has emailed the parent community. Scuderi says he ordered the school to be on lockdown when a witness came into the school office saying they thought they had seen a youth with a gun. “I made the decision to lockdown our campus immediately. In the wake of
recent incidents I will take no risks where student safety is concerned. Calling a lockdown brings about great anxiety and stress for all staff and students and parents but given the circumstances our response was the only appropriate response,” he wrote.

After an extensive BPD search, no weapons were recovered following an extensive search and questioning.

Four individuals were detained, two of whom were BHS students, with another being an Independent Study student and a fourth student was from B-TECH.  A thorough investigation is being conducted by administrative staff, even though a weapon was not recovered and no arrests were made.

He continues:

“I am deeply saddened at the manner in which the events of the past several
days have negatively impacted the climate of our school; it troubles me to
know that many of our students and families have had to be preoccupied
with physical safety rather than be preoccupied with the huge positives
that occur on our campus each day.  I still hold firmly to the fact that
almost all of the nearly 3,300 students who attend BHS show up every day
in a positive and productive way.

We were fortunate today in that no weapon was discovered and while I
acknowledge that the process we initiated was stressful for staff and
students, we believe that our response was warranted.

Any individual bringing a weapon on to campus or around campus will be
arrested and recommended for expulsion. I have said repeatedly in the last
several days that as educators we will meet a young person no matter where
they are or how hard they are struggling; the exception to this is a
student or individual who brings a weapon on or around our campus. This is
a non-negotiable and is the one sure way an individual will forfeit our
support. Ours is a community of learning and creativity and individuals
who selfishly put that community in jeopardy by bringing weapons to school
are not welcome at BHS.

Please take a moment to debrief this situation with your kids. It would be
helpful to us if you reviewed the very basic but essential things we need
them to know if we ever have to initiate a lockdown again. Review with
them, as we did today, that if they are outside their classroom, out on a
hall pass, passing period, etc. they are to proceed to the nearest safe
space, an office, classroom, etc. The student’s job in this situation is
to get to the nearest safe space possible and not necessarily to their
assigned classroom.

Secondly, please help us emphasize to students that we will only initiate
a lockdown if we feel that there is a tangible threat to their safety. We
expect them to remain in their classrooms or safe spaces until we end the
lockdown and to cooperate with teachers as well as be attentive to
announcements and information that will enhance their safety.

I truly understand how these incidents have frightened and concerned you.
Please know that we understand the emotional impact these incidents have
on families and we are working harder than ever to make our campus safe
and secure.”

Tracey Taylor

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

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49 Comments

  1. Berkeleyside is closing comments on this thread because, although there have been some constructive comments, the general discourse has deteriorated and we don’t feel there is anything constructive being said by several key commenters. Apologies to those who would like to keep discussing this issue.

  2. The old Berkeley Adult School is slated to be BUSD admin offices, which will enable the district to stop paying rent to the city for using old city hall (also seismically unsafe). Charter schools, while I see the perceived need in certain situations, takes money away from the district and thereby leads to more complications. One thing I’d be interested in exploring is the merit of having a separate school for 9th graders as a transition to the upper grades. Not sure where there would be space for that. Though with the budget these days, and the unfortunate likelihood that cuts will come down heavily on the current Adult School, perhaps the Adult School will end up with unused classrooms that could be utilized for that. Though if that’s where the “at risk” youth expelled from other schools will be, that wouldn’t work.

  3. I have no idea why nobody can figure out this basic problem. All that’s needed is a well built gate around pivotal points of the campus and a checkpoint with security were students and facility can exit and enter. It’s works for the military, it works for motion picture studios, and there’s no reason why it can’t work for a High School Is it a drag? Will it cost more money? Sure it will, but were living in a time when you have serious criminal elements coming into schools and these procedures need to be in place.

  4. It makes sense to me too.

    Look, a million years ago, i went to a high school of similar size/scale/facilities as BHS. The campus was closed. A kid got shot in school — we got metal detectors. Knife fights at Friday night football games meant… no more friday night football games. The school district even turned a former elementary school into a separate campus for the underachievers. Lousy restaurants went away with the closing of campus; better restaurants and shops took their place. We had staggered lunch periods. We ate outside in the courtyard. It all seemed so important — and so unfair! — but it wasn’t and it still isn’t. Drug dealers eventually got caught and went to jail. Drug users mostly cleaned up their act and did OK (never the best of the best). Some of my classmates didn’t make it to 25.

    BHS students, I know this is your first time seeing this movie, but be assured: the adults know how it ends. Your safety is paramount. Your “freedoms” just don’t enter into it.

  5. Sharkey, you are responding to something I did not say. Stop attempting to defame others in general, and me in particular this way.

    Excluding the general public does not require a “closed campus”. A “closed campus” means that students cant leave and return. Please just stop with your defamatory and unjustified nonsense.

  6. It would be illegal for BUSD to limit the number of students enrolled. By law, public schools have to serve any resident who applies.

  7. Or open a second campus, or more charter schools.
    The old Berkeley Adult School could have made an excellent satellite school for BHS.

  8. so you no longer live near bhs, have never attended BHS, you have no children who have ever attended BHS. yet you seem to think you know how to fix the problem. im done with responding to your comments, you have no credibility.

  9. Do you have some examples of closed campuses that manage to successfully keep students from leaving during the school day, but allow any non-students who feel like it to freely roam the campus, or are you just being antagonistic like usual?

  10. check your facts buddy. The people getting busted with weapons are students who technically do belong on campus according to your close campus policy.

  11. You continue to miss the point. STUDENTS ARE BRINING GUNS ONTO CAMPUS, NOT OUTSIDERS!!!!!!!

  12. A Berkeley homeowner who used to live a couple blocks from BHS.

    I know most of you kids are aiight and aren’t out there causing any serious trouble, but instituting a closed campus isn’t going to kill you. If anything it’ll force the administration to make the campus nicer in order to accommodate the students.

    The high school I went to had a closed campus for Freshmen/Sophomores/Juniors, but Seniors who didn’t have any marks on their record for causing trouble (fights, truancy, etc) were allowed to leave campus for lunch as long as they checked out when they left and checked back in when they came back.

    It made a good compromise, and could work well at BHS.

  13. No, what we are suggesting is that in our socially progressive city where we have one of the LARGEST High schools in the nations, it fits both our ideals and is most convenient to have an open campus policy.

    Likewise, I would love for you to try and fill the shoes of Mr. Scuderi. You be the person in charge of 3,200 students within an enclosed area all trying to get and eat food. You deal with students who are bringing weapons to campus everyday.

    You are an ideologue. Think rationally, not ideally. Because in this world, that’s what we have to do.

  14. yea…they have higher expectations, call it spoiled, call it what you will. But remember that expectations are only relative. If BHS suddenly decides to not meet them, you will have a whole lot of pissed kids, and a whole lot of annoyed parents.

  15. “where the hell do you get all this $$ to pay for it, though, I’d like to know??”

    They get it from mommy & daddy.
    They may do different kinds of things to earn their allowance, but I doubt there are many BHS kids who are economically self-sustaining.

  16. U MAD?
    DEAL WITH IT

    When you’re 18 or emancipated, you can do whatever you want.
    Until then, you get to do what the grown ups tell you to.

    I don’t support a swipe system because it’s needlessly complex, but I *do* support a closed campus because it would keep people who have no business at the school out of there. Not just problem students from other areas, but adults who might be looking to cause trouble too.

  17. i had to google sumo grub. i eat better food than that. if your not a parent or student at bhs, who are you?

  18. I’m not a big fan of the closed campus idea, but a friend here in Berkeley who’s been a teacher in NYC (who is also not a big fan of closed campuses, and is opposed to metal detectors) could imagine BHS having a closed campus policy for 9-10th graders. Then for 11-12th graders having an open campus policy for those who have earned the privilege, based on discipline records. I’m curious to hear if BHS students have any opinions on that?

  19. The majority of schools in this country do not have open campus policies.
    They are somehow able to deal with feeding the students and the “mountains of trash” that high school litterbugs retch forth into the environment.

    If they can make it work in other cities, why can’t they make it work here in Berkeley? Are you suggesting that Berkeley students are so especially unruly that they would riot if forced to abide by the same rules that students in other cities have to live with?

  20. As a student currently attending BHS, I can sympathize with the angered and troubled parents and members of the Berkeley Community in light of recent events. I would like to say one thing and one thing only: I think I speak for 90% of the students when I say that I have never felt that my safety was threatened while I was at school and I continue to feel 100% safe everyday. The harsh reality is that we live in a world where people carry concealed weapons all the time. We students understand that there are guns and knives on the BHS campus everyday, if you denied that you would be ignorant and negligent. We are no more threatened walking around our hallways then we are walking around the streets of our world. Lethal weapons are among us everyday at school, and no one has ever been shot or stabbed on campus by a student or an intruder. I urge you to reconsider you views if you don’t think that you come with-in 100 feet of someone carrying a concealed weapon almost daily. I know I do, and I will continue to do so whether it be at Berkeley High School, a College or University, or any other place in the world.

  21. The guns and the closed campus are separate issues. One might help lead to solving the other, but they aren’t the same. Considering that at least some of the violence is a result of persons who do not go to BHS coming to the campus to antagonize students, closing the campus would solve at least some of those problems.

    Closed campuses are the norm across the country. If a closed campus resulted in violent, agitated kids with guns then you’d have gun problems like these across the country.

  22. i like that its the same 5 people just arguing proposing no viable solutions, me included. Seriously, we all sound like idiots on here. I propose we all get together and discuss this over lunch. WHOS DOWN!?

  23. I’m not a parent, and I’m not a BHS student who’s butthurt about the idea that his campus might get closed so that he couldn’t go to Sumo Grub for lunch.

  24. I think that both parties should calm down in this situation– accusing Berkeley High students from smoking in the park when there is just a small population of students who do this, and would do anyway with a closed campus, and accusing others of supporting the patriot act for expressing their opinion, are both not going to solve the problem. Yes, guns are a problem at our school and as a community we need to look together to solve this problem, and not spew out illogical arguments.

    One reason why i think that we’ve been having so many gun problems is because we are more aware of the issue and are thus more likely to see guns around us and view this as a serious problem. However, this is no excuse for whats going on, but we– teachers, parents, AND students. should continue this awareness to let people know as a community that this isn’t okay.

    A closed campus is not the solution. First of all, its bad for Shattuck businesses, and extremely hard to keep 3,500 students inside campus for 45 minutes. Closing the campus would be an extremely costly and, with all of the California budget cuts, would take away from programs that really do benefit our community as a whole and make Berkeley High a better and safer place to be.

    Secondly, Students who bring guns to school are going to bring them anyway or will just not go to school at all. Most students bring guns for before or after school, when other non-student youth come by the campus and they feel like they need guns for what they feel like is their personal safety– they feel more powerful with them. They well bring these guns regardless because they aren’t really bringing them for time that they are in school, unless to show off, where they will still bring them regardless. Some may argue that its dangerous to have students with guns around during an open campus lunch, which is true, but if the campus is closed many of these students will simply not go to school and still potentially bring harm to the community in different ways.

    We need to look past the seemingly quick and easy ‘solution’ of closing the campus, and find better and more reasonable ways to tackle this problem.

  25. lol, i get my money from a website i run. It pay’s surprisingly well. And i know i dont have any solutions, but neither do you. Whats wrong with refuting proposed solutions that wont work?
    and whats to wrong with students wanting to eat lunch off campus. The issue here is not random people bringing guns onto campus, its students who are enrolled bringing guns. Locking them in with guns or letting them walk around outside with guns doesn’t matter, they still have guns either way.

    and I DO APOLOGIZE SIR for enjoying and supporting personal freedoms, how arrogant of me to want to be free.

    BTW i would never suggest BHS students run BHS. That would be an epic fail. But i do support the idea of the student run leadership counsel. They of course have no real power, but its good to let students think they do.

  26. “i was just trolling/probing to see what kind of person you are. ”

    Don’t do that. It doesn’t lead anywhere worth going. It’s obnoxious and you get what you deserve. Man up (regardless of your gender).

  27. lol, that was entertaining and im not being sarcastic. I see your point, but don’t generalize about “kids in the park”, they are the same group of maybe 20-30 students that never go to class and have mental health issues.

    Personally I have never felt in danger at bhs, and im a short white male. I will admit people have tried to rob me, but I’ve actually never been robbed. Its about being smart and not setting yourself up to be put in a dangerous situation. It is not an ideal educational environment, to say the least, but it’s the reality you and I live in. Given that more Americans have died in Oakland than in Afghanistan since 2001, you’ve got to admit that violence is not an issue that can be solved by putting metal detectors at entrances. The violence in communities is being brought back into schools, and no one wants that, but it will happens regardless of how many rules and regulations you put in place.

    Oh and don’t worry about the patriot act thing, i was just trolling/probing to see what kind of person you are.

  28. Ever occur to you that the culprit did have a gun, knew he was seen and ditched it? Happens all the time. Or maybe there’s mass hysteria and everyone should keep discussing the same tired old shit over and over again until someone does get shot. That’s a winning proposition.

  29. Great! If the kids that are posting are the majority, perhaps we should just let them have their restaurant food (where the hell do you get all this $$ to pay for it, though, I’d like to know??) and skip ID’s, closed campus, or anything else that even remotely smacks of ruffling your Freedom feathers…

    You have no solutions to the problem, you only have arguments against them. Not helpful, but then you’re the one who gets to go to school there. Perhaps we should just leave y’all to your own devices.

    That would prove to be an Epic FAIL.

  30. Oh for crying out loud, where do you think all those piles of garbage go now??? On streets of downtown Berkeley. You saying that “you probably support the patriot act” is akin to the tea-baggers accusing the libs of being anti-American. Same argument, wearing a different badge.

    So say the BUSD lets you kids keep your “chill time” at the park, smoking your weed and lolling in the sun… and someone still gets shot either on purpose or by a stray bullet. Will that seem normal and right? As long as YOU have your little “freedom” it’s okay to take the risk that some a** hole comes ON CAMPUS and violate your right to live?

    Okay. Maybe Darwin’s theory isn’t so far off the mark…

  31. all of you are getting too emotionally involved, it’s clouding your logic. Like in starwars. #1 rule of arguing on the internet: relax and think about what you’re posting before you post. I learned that in preschool with the phrase “look before you leep.” Apparently some of you parents need to review that simple lesson.

  32. I’m fine with a swipe system if that would make you feel safer, even though in reality it wont. Just as long as I’m allowed to eat off campus at local businesses with awesome food, i see no problem with it.

    Just a logistical problem with your suggestion: how long do you think it would take 3500 students to be scanned in every morning. And don’t forget about the large amount of seniors without any fist or second period, someone would have to be waiting at the entrance to scan them. That would require more staff, draining more funding that is desperately needed for actual education. I just don’t see your proposal as a viable solution the the problem of weapons on campus. It’s a move in the right direction, but probably wont accomplish anything.

    And one last thing, how would a swipe system prevent weapons from being brought on campus? The problem is that students are bringing weapons on campus, not random people off the street. For your idea to make any sense there would need to be metal detectors and people to search every students bags. Another logistical nightmare right there.

  33. excuse me for asking such an illogical question, but where do you propose 3500 students eat? And the amount of trash that would pile up on campus would be unbearable. How about do things to convince students that bringing guns to school is stupid. Your authoritarian approach, e.g. *”letting one bad able ruin it for everyone else”*, does not fit well with the popular culture of Berkeley education. Your eagerness to take away what little freedom students have is nothing less than disturbing to me. You probably support the patriot act too.

  34. so a paranoid parent thinks they see a gun, they dont see a gun, school goes on lockdown again. EVEN THOUGH NOTHING HAPPENED, there was no gun, no known suspect, no arrest. I wouldn’t be surprised if the call was a hoax meant to manipulate BHS policy.

  35. Obviously I am biased as I am also a BHS student but my fellow student has a good point. Closing the campus will not change the student body or their attitudes: the same people who bring guns to school with our open campus will still bring guns to school with a closed campus. Also, now all of those kids with guns are now crowded together in one block. We need to change the attitudes of students and get rid of guns. Closing the campus will have no effect whatsoever to minimize the danger of guns on campus; if anything, it will just make the student body more agitated. And then you have agitated kids with guns.

  36. Based on this admittedly small sample, I predict that this thread is going to fall 90% along the following lines:
    Open Campus: Current BHS students
    Closed campus: Everyone else
    It’s really a no brainer…and if it’s simply impossible for some reason, then yes, there has to be a swipe-card system or the equivalent for campus access. That’s the tradeoff.

  37. Indeed. How horrible would it be if the school district got creative and sold selling licenses to chain restaurants to sell food on campus? Cutting costs on food production while also increasing revenue through selling licenses to moderately healthy chain restaurants like Subway? CLEARLY a horrible idea.

    God forbid that students weren’t able to go over to Civic Center Park and smoke cigarettes & pot during lunch.

  38. I see the point about lunchtime crowding. Yet another argument to consider BHS filled beyond capacity, and to begin to reduce the numbers admitted each year.

  39. Change the bell schedule and pretty soon you’ll have to look at killing the “small school” system and busting up the catalog so that perhaps it can stay nearly that broad, but only with more of the courses not being offered every year. Of course you’ll have to change the governance structure so that you don’t have N separate schools of faculty separately doing their own thing with redundant management structures and separate political and economic agendas. My gawd, man, think of what you are saying: you threaten to create a coherent and unified educational strategy — to make all problems “whole school” problems — to give up curricular bells and whistles for more rigorous concentration on fundamentals, to help create efficiencies. And all because you insist on keeping the kids on camps for a half decent lunch. You’re a heartless, heartless, man.

    Wait a minute….. hmmm…. you might be on to something.

    p.s.: I propose that BUSD make a deal with the CIty so that the closed campus INCLUDES careful use of the park wherein, on several fair whether days, the cafeteria may serve a picnic.

    p.p.s.: yes, unfortunately this will do big harm to some downtown businesses.

  40. Weird, because when I was in high school I was on a campus that was roughly the same size and had a closed campus policy that had far less trouble with guns and violence than BHS does.

    Students obviously wouldn’t like it, but it would be easy to do.

  41. You don’t actually think they built a new cafeteria where all the students could eat lunch? (I think Berkeleyside actually put up that cafeteria pic a couple of posts ago to mock us 😉
    I mean, forcing the kids to eat on campus would mean that they would suffer eating healthier food and might not be so distracted in class. Not to mention, if more kids ate school lunches it would mean that food services wouldn’t have to run chronic deficits. And who wants that? Also, this bell system seems pretty sacred. You certainly wouldn’t want 3 staggered lunch periods (like a lot of us grew up with) — so confusing. Plus as BHS student noted, folks need to “relax” in Civic Center Park.

  42. Sharkey: I don’t think that would be a very good idea. As a student, open campus lunch is probably a large part of why there AREN’T more fights, etc, at school. Letting students off campus for 40 minutes between classes gives us a chance to unwind, relax, get out of the school environment. The people who are bringing guns to school would find a way to get them on campus even if we couldn’t leave school.
    Also… 3,500 kids in one city block for 40 minutes would be HELL for the teachers. And the Shattuck eateries would lose a lot of business.

  43. Clearly if they have to put the place on lock-down like this they have a problem and echoing Sharkey, they should close campus. As a poster on the other thread pointed out, BHS became an open campus after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake destabilized the cafeteria. BHS has an expensive and seismically safe cafeteria, so that reason for open campus doesn’t exist any more.

  44. They need to end the open campus policy IMMEDIATELY.

    Metal detectors we can argue and debate about, but it is clearly no longer safe for Berkeley High School to continue with their open campus policy.