Berkeley High School. Photo: Charlotte Wayne
Berkeley High School: administrators work closely with the county’s probation department

None of the 35 Berkeley High School students who are on probation was involved with the recent spate of gun incidents at the school, according to Alameda County’s top probation official.

Despite the fears of some parents that those who have previously been arrested are a rogue element in the school and largely responsible for the guns, this is not the case, said officials.

“There have been no youth on probation who were arrested for gun charges at Berkeley High,” said David Muhammad, the chief probation officer for Alameda County. “When things like this happen, the easy scapegoat is young people who have been in trouble before.  If you don’t have all the facts, it becomes an easy population to demonize.”

It is not helpful to lump all the kids on probation into one group and label them, as each has a different situation, said Muhammad, who was hired just six weeks ago to clean up and modernize a troubled department.

“It is not unreasonable to ask what is going on with these young people, but we should be careful before we scapegoat them,” he said.

Helping these kids is a challenge, though, as the department’s resources are dangerously thin – and might become thinner still now that Gov. Jerry Brown’s attempts to hold a special June election to extend taxes have fallen apart, said Muhammad.

California has one of the worst funded probation systems in the country, with Alameda County (along with Sacramento) being one of the lowest funded counties in the state, said Muhammad.

There are 15,000 adults and 2,000 juveniles on probation in Alameda County and only 190 probation officers to oversee them — an 89 to 1 ratio. In Contra Costa County, in contrast, there are 125 probation officers for the county’s 7,000 people on probation – a 56 to 1 ratio.

The students on probation at Berkeley High are monitored according to their perceived risk factors, said Muhammad. Probation officials examine the type of crime they committed, their number of arrests, their home living situation, their drug use, their mental health status, and other factors.

Those who are given a low to medium risk ranking get the least supervision, he said. They mostly have to check in with the probation department and appear sporadically before a judge.

Those rated as high risk get frequent visits from their probation officers, get cognitive behavioral therapy twice a week, and learn conflict resolution and other life skills, said Muhammad. The department also contracts with Berkeley Youth Alternatives to provide preventative services.

These services, Muhammad admits, are still not enough.

“I am not happy with the level of support and services,” he said. “There is certainly more the probation department can do. There is more the community can do.”

Laura Menard, a former Berkeley High parent who served on the school’s safety committee, is critical of the way the Berkeley Unified School District tracks the students who are on probation. She said the school does not do a good enough job monitoring their activities and whereabouts.

Parents have been lobbying for years to get the district to come up with a comprehensive plan to address students on probation, but little has been done, said Menard. A promised meeting between the parents, Matthew Golde, the deputy district attorney in charge of Alameda County’s juvenile division, the police department, the probation department, and school officials keeps getting postponed, she said.

Susan Craig, the director of student services, said the district is aware of all the Berkeley students who are on probation and has a close working relationship with the probation department. The have been isolated instances, however, when a student on probation moves to Berkeley from another district. Sometimes there can be a lag before the district hears about that student’s probation status.

While students who bring a gun to school are automatically expelled, those who commit other crimes are not necessarily kicked out of school, said Craig. State law requires school districts to educate its youth, including those with arrest records.

“All Berkeley kids are our kids,” said Craig, whose office works closely with the probation department. “We need to try to work with turning kids around who are making mistakes. I am not minimizing serious offenses. Certainly guns are at the top of the list. But I have a concern about criminalizing students who have made mistakes. We can’t send students away indefinitely for offenses that have been committed and most offenses don’t call for that.”

Muhammad said many students bring guns to school because they think they offer protection. Since it’s easy to buy guns, and so many songs, videos, and television shows glorify them, there is a cultural atmosphere that makes gun-toting seem all right.

“If I feel like I live in a war zone then I am going to feel like I need to carry a weapon,” said Muhammad. “If I live in a more challenging neighborhood, like south Berkeley, which has been in a protracted war with north Oakland, then I may feel like I am living in a war zone and I am going to carry a weapon.”

“Some people think we can incarcerate our way out of problems,” said Muhammad. “Even the most hardened police officer knows we can’t incarcerate our way out. We have to look for other solutions.”

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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110 Comments

  1. Muhummad was WRONG  on the number of students arrested  on PROBATION and he was WRONG  to smear parents demanding legal compliance and the charging DA for describing the safety situation correctly.

    And he was WRONG to sexually harass his subordinates.

    Just as he was WRONG to commit crimes as a teenager and blame it on his circumstances.
     
    And he was WRONG  to make the statements  in this piece justifying teens using guns to protect themselves.

    Alameda County probation chief hit with sex suit
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/03/20/BA771NNI21.DTL&type=newsbayarea
     

  2. Feel free to post the “new information” here in public for all to see.

    I stand by my statements, as general as they are, in their entirety.
    And you still didn’t really say what part of my statement you disagreed with, and I am interested.

    you think BHS needs MORE security? less security? an entirely different model? what do you suggest?

  3. Further evidence that you’ve got a units error:

    By your methodology, the enrollment of Black or African American kids state wide exceeds the linear-interpolated-from-Census state-wide 5-17 population by around 12%:

    Statewide per CBED (the “ed-data website”): 424,327

    Statewide per 2010, look at 13/18ths of age 0-17 is:

    13/18 x (2,163,804 – 1,640,279) = 378,101

    Implying over-enrollment of (424,327/378,101)/100 %

    which is about 112%.

  4. I, like Eric, am sick of supporting the education of illegal transfers at the expense of Berkeleyans. Do you know how much in extra property taxes I have paid in the past 9 years as a property owner in Berkeley? At around $1500/year, it gets very expensive fast. I have applied to have my children enrolled in BUSD schools but in each and every year for the past 4 years, we have either been given the last choice of schools or assigned separate schools for my two children. And I don’t buy Bruce Love’s protestations that its very difficult to demonstrate or refute residency. It seems that other cities are able to do so and so why can’t Berkeley?

  5. At least based on a simple internet search on out of district enrollment rates in the BUSD, basic data in the public domain seems to be either lacking altogether or only raises more questions and doubts than it answers. This cropped up:

    Last year’s kindergarten enrollment—694—is the largest the district had reported since 1993-1994.

    Although most districts show a direct correlation between area births and kindergarten enrollment five years later, the report says that it is not the case for Berkeley Unified.

    Kindergarten enrollment increased even as the number of babies born between 2001 and 2002 (the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 school years) declined.

    Jones said in a report to the board that a variety of factors might affect student population, including a fluctuating housing market and the number of students attending private schools.

    However, the “interplay between private and public schools is more complex than other districts,” he said.

    http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2009-10-08/article/33898?headline=School-District-Plans-Zone-Changes-to-Address-Overcrowding

  6. “white upper middle class kids” — oh, okay — that makes it all different?? Are you kidding me? Take the demographic, racial profile out of it and what we have are bullies; do they need to be racially or socio-economically classified? That’s a pile of crap and stupid excuse for what you think is happening to your kids.

  7. It would require a conversation rather than a blog exchange with all the potential nuances you refer to.

    I agree we agree more than disagree, and when and if we do meet to discuss I am quite positive you will be surprised to learn as you say “new information”. If you know Heather, you can easily find me.

  8. yes! Thanks, EBGuy! It seems like we might be targeting some of our BUSD programs toward the demographics in neighboring cities.

  9. Porcelina Grout: Did you see the figures supplied by commenter EBGuy in this comment thread? They go some way to answering your questions.

  10. Hey.

    Generally speaking, I think you missed the entire spirit and meaning of my message.
    I am not sure exactly what you disagree with, my belief that kids must be disciplined when they commit crimes, or that they should be treated fairly by the legal system, or that that system needs an overhaul, or that the current status quo is unacceptable.
    and. yes, it was inaccurate. My typo. I meant smoking weed.

    And I don’t think you are in a position to speak authoritatively about street life, gangs, and crime, and how that world operates, or who is “in the life” or not, and I don’t really think there is a whole lot you can teach him, or me, about communities of like the ones I grew up in, and the challenges we face.

    That said, I still respect your opinion, however someone has to police those who are committing crimes. (was that the part you disagreed with?) I don’t think you understood what Mr. Muhammad was saying either. it was pretty technical. he was saying those kids FELT like they needed protection, (something I don’t believe either) he did not support it, he was merely trying to explain that world to people people who are not familiar with it, like you. And as is often the case here, a message about crime coming from a city official, regardless of who they are, is regarded with suspicion and contempt.
    You found his statement’s offensive? which part exactly?

    I’ll tell you what offends me. People who twist words around, and refuse to see what is going on from the perspectives of others. I am not accusing you of this, but you come close.

    I am still open to new information though. and interested in your reply.

    thanks.

    Piero

  11. The things I pointed out help to explain why I think the number crunching likely has a units error. He made a choice to bridge the CBED to the Census data in a particular way and I’m pointing out evidence that it isn’t a statistically valid bridging.

  12. Did you miss this part of his post:
    “And for the record, I’m not drawing any conclusions, just crunching some numbers.”

  13. EBGuy, there is the recent use of two questions (race / ethnicity), I grant you, but the collection and reporting numbers are much different. There’s a bunch of circumstantial evidence that something is not right about your methodology here. The private / home school enrollment for White kids that your method comes up with would be much larger than the state average and perhaps about the highest in the nation – by far. Grab three White kids in Berkeley, your numbers suggest, and likely one shuns BUSD for private school. Really? And that is before we even account for lawful transfers in, so it would be higher still than that. And yet at the same time the total enrollment for BUSD based on a linear projection to estimate the age 5-17 population is about right for a city of this size, with a slight private school skew not a huge one, plus some lawful transfers. One hypothesis your methodology kinda sorta supports is that of a vast and heavily skewed number of kids not counted as Berkeley residents by the census but in BUSD — along with a White BUSD participation rate of less than 60%. Yet another hypothesis it supports is that BUSD’s CBED data counts as Hispanic or Latino a bunch of folks who the Census counts as simply White. That would mean that the basis you are using to get the Black over-enrollment is too small and the over-enrollment is much smaller than you come up with. It would mean that the White underenrollment your method comes up with is exaggerated. It would mean you’d come up with a startlingly large over-enrollment for Hispanic and Latino.

    So what’s the “differential diagnosis” between those hypotheses?

  14. The school data counts White vs. Hispanic as either or, and Black vs. Hispanic as either or, etc. The Census recognizes White and Hispanic, Black and Hispanic, etc. That needs to be corrected before reaching your conclusions.
    I don’t agree. State data collection is consistent with how the census gathers data. From the California ed-data website: The manner in which race and ethnicity data were collected also changed in 2009-10 to be consistent with federal reporting requirements; these changes included collecting data about Hispanic/Latino ethnicity in one question and collecting data about race in a second question [which is how it’s done on the census forms]…
    Hispanic or Latino: A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.

    And for the record, I’m not drawing any conclusions, just crunching some numbers.

  15. Yes, I hope so. I think this is what makes the idea of moving on to BHS so disturbing.

  16. It needs adjusting for the units error that Census-Non-Hispanic/Latino-_____ is not directly commensurate with School-______ and that Census-Hispanic/Latino is not directly commensurate with School-Hispanic/Latino. Also don’t forget to adjust the School numbers with respect to lawful transfers, although good luck getting racial data about those (and, no, I don’t suspect they reflect the general population). In absolute numbers, we’re already whittling the alleged unlawful transfer problem down to pretty small proportions.

  17. You have my sympathies, as the census website has a barely navigable interface. That said, your numbers are way off (perhaps you were on an MSA instead of the City of Berkeley?). Please let me know if you see any errors below.

    The web site is a bit of a mess, I agree — and thank you for challenging. That’s why I mentioned “this can’t be right”…. Let’s look at this:

    First, yes — my numbers were way off. But.. let’s try to better understand yours.

    You say: “Total population age 0-17 according to the 2010 census: 13872”

    Agreed.

    “Est. school age children 5-17 according to the 2010 census: 10019”

    Agreed.

    “Number of students in BUSD 2009-2010 according to the state: 9204”

    Yes.

    “Number of White kids age 0-17 according to the 2010 census: 6707
    Number of Black kids age 0-17 according to the 2010 census: 1798
    Number of Latino kids age 0-17 according to the 2010 census: 2375
    Number of Asian kids age 0-17 according to the 2010 census: 1158”

    I don’t buy those numbers. That’s exactly where you get into trouble using the table you picked. The school data counts White vs. Hispanic as either or, and Black vs. Hispanic as either or, etc. The Census recognizes White and Hispanic, Black and Hispanic, etc. That needs to be corrected before reaching your conclusions. (And, let’s do this in the coming days, eh? I agree that this gets a bit eye-splitting and I do again apologize for the egregious mistake earlier.)

    So, from there you get to some numbers that will change but let’s pick up again here:

    “Approximation (multiply kids 0-17 * 13/18 to get school age children):

    Percentage of White kids age 5-17 who go to a BUSD school 2009-2010: 60%
    Percentage of Black kids age 5-17 who go to a BUSD school 2009-2010: 170%
    Percentage of Latino kids age 5-17 who go to a BUSD school 2009-2010: 115%
    Percentage of Asian kids age 5-17 who go to a BUSD school 2009-2010: 87%”

    So, there’s a units error there that needs to be worked around. Those figures aren’t reliable on their face. Don’t know if the right answer will be more, less or about the same in any category but we need to agree how to reconcile census counting with school counting.

  18. Bruce,
    You have my sympathies, as the census website has a barely navigable interface. That said, your numbers are way off (perhaps you were on an MSA instead of the City of Berkeley?). Please let me know if you see any errors below.

    For the census data I used the HISPANIC OR LATINO AND RACE tables.

    Total population age 0-17 according to the 2010 census: 13872
    Est. school age children 5-17 according to the 2010 census: 10019
    Number of students in BUSD 2009-2010 according to the state: 9204

    Number of White kids age 0-17 according to the 2010 census: 6707
    Number of Black kids age 0-17 according to the 2010 census: 1798
    Number of Latino kids age 0-17 according to the 2010 census: 2375
    Number of Asian kids age 0-17 according to the 2010 census: 1158

    Number of White kids in BUSD 2009-2010 according to the state: 2919
    Number of Black kids in BUSD 2009-2010 according to the state: 2209
    Number of Latino kids in BUSD 2009-2010 according to the state: 1967
    Number of Asian kids in BUSD 2009-2010 according to the state: 728

    Approximation (multiply kids 0-17 * 13/18 to get school age children):

    Percentage of White kids age 5-17 who go to a BUSD school 2009-2010: 60%
    Percentage of Black kids age 5-17 who go to a BUSD school 2009-2010: 170%
    Percentage of Latino kids age 5-17 who go to a BUSD school 2009-2010: 115%
    Percentage of Asian kids age 5-17 who go to a BUSD school 2009-2010: 87%

    Bear in mind that 9.1% (840) of BUSD students identify as two or more races. The census data shows about half of that percentage for the 0-17 demographic. As Bruce noted birth rates may be skewed so estimating the school age (5-17) population may produce some error. Note that the census breaks out the population 18 and above. So any 18 year olds attending BUSD are excluded from the eligible school age population. Also note, for declining population groups, the folks with kids (or just the kids?) may be more likely to stay within the district. I must say, my head is still spinning from this exercise. Please let me know if you see any errors in the statistics or calculations.

  19. Nobody knows for sure, because BHS has no interest in trying to figure this out and get rid of illegal transfer students.

  20. That’s mostly how I feel about illegal transfers, too. That’s why I was asking about non-permitted transfers. It seems that the number of these types of transfers is high… we all know of anecdotal incidents and yet no one can put a number on it. Out of the 3,500 kids at BHS – are 100 illegal transfers? 500? 1000?… It makes a difference in deciding how much resources should be dedicated to the issue.

  21. If you have anything valuable to say, I am hopeful that like a reasonable adult you can let your point of view stand on its own merits. You add nothing to your argument by saying “Bruce will say….” especially when what follows indicates that you have not bothered or are not able to read with much care what I’ve written. It is a cheap, distorting tactic and “lie” is a reasonable description of it. To turn it around using an old and very dark joke, it is a bit like me posting “Eric will soon tell us when he stopped beating his wife….”

    Here is an example of how you have not managed to read what I wrote. You say: “You’ve written often here about your belief that BUSD can’t act against illegal transfers [….]”

    No, that is not true. In part I’ve written about how the scope of legal in-district registrations is much larger than people seem to assume. The inference I’m suggesting is that the rumors of a huge population of illegal registrants may very well not stand up to legal scrutiny. I have also pointed out that in non-egregious cases, the burden of proof lies with the district and is steep. If it hasn’t been clear, let it be clear now: I am not describing a situation where illegal transfers will be hard to prove and should be allowed to pass a blind eye — I am describing a situation where some situations you might think are obviously illegal won’t get past that steep burden of proof because, surprise, they are not illegal.

    It is true that if in the final analysis there are but a tiny number of hard to prove illegal registrants a cost / benefit analysis might inform against bothering but that is not my main point.

  22. Bruce, it’s not a lie. It was my best guess (“Bruce *will* say,” not “Bruce *has* said) — a prediction, based on your previous commentary — as to how you would assess the actions other school districts have taken to defend the resources of which they are trusted stewards.

    I’m delighted if my prediction was incorrect, but I don’t think it was too much of a stretch. You’ve written often here about your belief that BUSD can’t act against illegal transfers and so I anticipated more of the same. Dare I hope you’ve had a change of heart?

  23. Ah.. I see one more weakness with those numbers. The school counts count Hispanic and Latina separately from White — in the Census counts the categories overlap. Correcting for this would raise the percentage of White kids who enroll in BUSD — but not by enough to change the conclusion.

  24. I’m not sure how this can possibly be right but it is what the governments say:

    Number of White kids age 0-17 according to the 2010 census: 72,170
    Number of Black kids age 0-17 according to the 2010 census: 6,357

    Number of White kids in BUSD 2009-2010 according to the state: 2,919
    Number of Black kids in BUSD 2009-2010 according to the state: 2,209

    Approximation:

    Percentage of White kids age 0-17 who go to a BUSD school 2009-2010: 4%
    Percentage of Black kids age 0-17 who go to a BUSD school 2009-2010: 35%

    At first glance – but there is a problem with this – that suggests that a White kid is 8-9x less likely to enroll in BUSD than a black kid.

    There is a problem, though. Actually, two. One: I didn’t make any attempt to adjust the counts to consider the 17 and under part of the Cal student population. I’ve no idea how that would effect the ratios. Two: I don’t know enough about birthrates over the years to be sure that the count of people age 0-17 is a good proxy for school aged minors.

    If you suspect as I do that those problems are minor – and assuming that the census data and school enrollment data is even close to correct – there is a very simple explanation why Black kids are over-represented in BUSD relative to White kids: a much, much smaller percentage of White kids enroll. You don’t need to make any racial assumptions or quantitative assumptions about illegal enrollments.

  25. I know and I agree with your hopes. My understanding from parents of children at the other middle schools is that similar improvements have been made at their sites over the last 3 years, so maybe having an influx of students who had three years of being at schools with discipline (not only in the punishment meaning of the word) will be beneficial to the climate of the high school.

  26. Unfortunately, Jason Lustig will be leaving at the end of this year. He’s going on to an advanced degree at Harvard. Hopefully he will return in 3 years. Our loss, for sure. I hope the changes he has created and supported are continued, and that the staff and faculty can continue this progress.

  27. BHS Junior, I appreciate your post. Here’s some additional considerations: 1. Parents/students are not obligated to keep Shattuck businesses open, esp. if it means risks to students, which I’m not sure there’s a connection there. A closed campus doesn’t mean you can’t leave and enter at lunch. It just means when you re-enter, you’ll have to badge in or whatever security measures are implemented. 2. If students are just going to bring the guns anyway, they need to be expelled. Scuderi says this is non-negotiable. The fact that you say they aren’t really intended for school campus use, is irrelevant. People traveling don’t bring a gun on a plane and then make excuses that it’s for their later use. It’s just not allowed, for obvious reasons. If students want to quit school because they can’t bring guns to school, or if the campus is closed, they’ll have to make that decision with their parents and suffer the consequences of their choices. Do you really want to give up your education because you can’t come and go without restrictions? Do your parents allow you to come and go without restrictions? I’m sure you have some kind of limitations. Think about it.

  28. One basic starting point is simple demographics. Berkeley reportedly has a c. 64% caucasian population, but the BUSD reports about 30% white students. Asian students, who tend to be overachievers, are about 8% of the school population but 18% of the general population. Here are some raw data and links:

    http://www.bayareacensus.ca.gov/cities/Berkeley.htm

    RACE (2008/2009 projection)

    White 69,337 63.7%
    Black or African American 10,741 9.9%
    American Indian and Alaska Native 467 347 0.3%
    Asian 19,759 18.1%

    HISPANIC OR LATINO AND RACE
    Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 11,697 10.7%

    http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us/Navigation/fsTwoPanel.asp?bottom=%2Fprofile.asp%3Flevel%3D06%26reportNumber%3D16

    Students by Ethnicity
    Berkeley Unified School District, 2009-10
    District County

    Enrollment Percent of Total Percent of Total

    American Indian or Alaska Native 34 0.4%
    Asian 728 7.9%
    Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 22 0.2%
    Filipino 56 0.6%
    Hispanic or Latino 1,967 21.4%
    Black or African American 2,209 24.0%
    White 2,919 31.7%
    Two or More Races 840 9.1%
    None Reported 429 4.7%
    Total 9,204 100% 100%

  29. Eric, stop telling lies like this:

    Bruce Love will chime in to say that they can’t do that,

    That is not what I have or would say.

  30. Fremont is another desirable school district. Here are some of their registration requirements that Berkeley lacks: Property Tax Bill or Close of Escrow Statement with the parent name and property address, Tenant copy of Rental or Lease agreement with parent name, student name, and address, as well as manager or owners name and phone number

  31. Alina,

    I want Muhammad to be successful, but not just him, I want all these agencies to be accountable for the services they delivery and less political. I am not willing to accept racial relativism as BHS students asked for during their comments last night nor do I subscribe to the paternalism suggesting that black males will not be successful showing up to school with their IDs resulting in some disparity in discipline. That is nonsense. If anything placing appropriate responsibilities on all kids will result in an employable citizenry.

    Additoinally, I want the DISCRIMINATION experienced by victims of school crime to stop. Pushing victims to home school violates their rights to have a proper education and social life as teenagers.

    Alina, have you ever meet a kid who has to watch their back every day because they were the only responsible person able to report a violent crime correctly.

    Restorative justice means victims have rights too.

  32. The article continues……

    The program was viewed as a national model for a new approach to juvenile justice when it began in 2009, but took a beating in the press when three former clients of the youth agency were arrested in May 2010 as suspects in the murder of a popular suburban high school principal. It didn’t seem to matter that none had ever participated in the program.

    At around the same time Muhammad was struggling as a teen, academic researchers – analyzing a significant spike in juvenile crimes in 1995 – predicted a new era of young super-predators. Those dire predictions never materialized, but the juvenile justice laws in 47 states were strengthened in anticipation.

    Now, 20 years of warehousing juvenile offenders with little regard to the nature or severity of the crimes has made things worse, not better, Muhammad said.

    “The get-tough-on-crime movement lacked get-smart-on-crime initiatives or innovation,” Muhammad said. “There is no distinguishing between people who need a nudge and those who are over the edge and should be removed from society.”

    After one month on the job, Muhammad has made sorting out the redeemable souls from the more seriously damaged ones a priority in his office.

    Juvenile offenders are still held to answer for their own actions and behavior, but Muhammad wants to infuse self-improvement as a key part of the rehabilitation process.

    “California used to have a network of youth forestry camps, that taught kids to fight fires and how to reclaim pieces of the wilderness, that taught them discipline and self-respect and hard work,” Barry Krisberg, research director of the Earl Warren Institute at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. Today, the rehabilitation component of juvenile justice simply doesn’t exist.

    “And those are things many of them would like to do instead of sitting around and waiting for the next gang fight,” Krisberg added.

    Muhammad’s return to Oakland is an example of how a kid can hit rock bottom and still succeed in life. He’s living proof that the mistakes you make as a kid don’t define your life as an adult.

    Here’s the link: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/03/14/BAUR1IB04S.DTL#ixzz1ICSGUTsa

    There also this: “New chief probation officer shares plans to improve juvenile justice” http://oaklandnorth.net/2011/03/19/new-chief-probation-officer-shares-plans-to-improve-juvenile-justice/

  33. “We also need to table the idea that the inter-district kids are the only problem, some may be, but the ones I have encountered are the ones whose parents want their children to succeed and have a good education under their belts. They are willing to drive their kids to school daily and do what it takes to raise a commuter kid.”

    No one (credible) has claimed that they are the only problem. But the fact that the school has other problems (what school doesn’t?) does NOT mean that we need to tolerate fraudulent enrollments. The parents you speak of are exactly the ones who need to shore up the schools where they live. They want their children to succeed and have a good education? Good for them, but, I don’t want to pay for it if they don’t play by the rules. And I don’t want a kid whose family does play by the rules to lose (didn’t get school of preference, didn’t get *legal* transfer slot) out to grifters.

  34. Just a side note – in my son’s educational experience he has been bullied – in some dramatic ways, mostly by white, upper middle class kids. A long time ago the school did not deal with the issues and we left. In middle school, Mr. Lustig not only dealt with the incident, but since it happened on the last day of school, dealt with it the first day of school the next school year, without reminding, and confirmed that he had done so. We have a lot to be proud of in our schools.

  35. Thanks for such a wonderful post.

    You are 100% correct in saying that this number of firearms on campus is not a normal. The fact that this is not only considered normal but is actually considered *acceptable* by students there shows how out-of-control things are at BHS right now.

    Guns at school *are* a big deal, even if the kids there are so desensitized to it that they think it’s not.

  36. For 22 years I have lived in Berkeley and followed the saga of BHS. It has always had a reputation of being one of the best high schools in California, and one of the worst, at the same time, for all the reasons that have been posted in the last week or so. Now my son will be starting BHS in the fall and my greatest hope is that Mr. Scuderi will be able to continue the work that has been done in the elementary schools and middle schools creating safe environments and dealing with issues quickly and fairly.

    At the lower levels, the schools and administrators have finally recognized that these are urban schools and all that goes with that designation, and implemented systems to deal with, the children who do not act right. The children are held accountable for their actions and the families are held accountable – sometimes to the point of inconvenience. This quickly changes some behavior and makes the schools safer for the rest of the children. I have seen this as a parent in Berkeley and as a teacher in Oakland. My experience says about 5% of the kids at any school suck down 90% of the adult time because of behavior issues. These are the kids who make school difficult for the rest. If they are held accountable and dealt with early on, in a consistent manner, then the school can make the changes that will have BHS be one of the best schools in California for all children.

    This will take buy in from the community – we need to raise our children, and accept that sometimes they act like knuckleheads, and be willing to have someone else point that out to us and the children. That some of the stupidity, like bringing firearms to school is home-grown, and yes, a societal problem, but not OK, you cannot bring guns or drugs to school, period. The laws are on the books that should be enforced.

    We also need to table the idea that the inter-district kids are the only problem, some may be, but the ones I have encountered are the ones whose parents want their children to succeed and have a good education under their belts. They are willing to drive their kids to school daily and do what it takes to raise a commuter kid.

    Let’s deal with the problems in real time and real ways that are consistent and effective, and stop trying to place blame. If we want the district to stop the transfer issue, that is different than creating a safe school setting, and needs to be dealt with in a different venue.

  37. Frances,

    What I think it the new director Muhummad should have clarified historic problems in records collection and data entry and explained how the dept will fix these flaws. Second he should have advised you to check with CoCo county, since BUSD admit Richmond, Antioch, El Cerrito etc teens.

    Please reconcile the difference between Craig telling you one of the students was on probation and Muhammad stating none. If I misunderstood you fine, but school board directors were advised by the district of one probationer.

    Next he should have all together avoided such inflammatory terms as scapegoating especially since he is dealing with parents of school crime victims who experienced probation dept failures, school district cover-ups and the worst result, that their kid was not able to attend high school as his peers could due to retaliation for reporting a violent crime and the district and school board NEGLECT to do the RIGHT thing.

    As I suggested to you in an email. You would better understand the district capabilities and failures if you interview the group of parents pushing for systems reforms together. The pattern of bureaucratic errors would stand out for you.

    But worse of all, is this effort to pit people against each other when it is obvious that the district and police dept completely agree that improvement to case management of high risk offenders is critical to reducing school violence.

    While I am very accustomed to be characterize in a less that accurate way, let me state if clearly, my interest in monitoring high risk offenders is the same as Muhammad, to provide opportunity for those individuals to reform and be successful in school. I just happen to have expectation that our government agencies try to be accountable and lose the defensive posturing, admit mistakes and take corrective actions.

    It was Muhammad who chose to create polarization, we have been working for systems improvements.

  38. Laura, I asked Muhammad why he thought so many kids were bringing guns to school. In discussing that some kids feel threatened, including kids from south Berkeley, he was replying to my question. He was not condoning the practice, just seeking explanation for it.

    He stands behind the assertion that non of the 35 BHS students on probation were involved with the recent gun incidents. I went back to him again yesterday and asked whether the student from B-Tech who brought a gun to school was on probation. He said he would look into it.

    And I did contact 2 of the three moms. One said she wanted to wait to talk until after last night’s meeting; I left a message for the others.

    As a reporter, I cannot just write things without hard data. I know you think Muhammad is not being forthright, in part because the data the probation department has is not timely. When he and Susan Craig, the director of student services, both tell me they have checked their records and none of the kids on probation brought guns, I reported that.

  39. Berkeleyside: Is it possible to get numbers on 1) how many kids aged 5-18 live in Berkeley 2) how many of them are enrolled in BUSD, and/or 3) how many Berkeley kids go to private schools?

    I think Szunderwood is exactly right. BUSD doesn’t care about the large numbers of Berkeley kids who attend private schools (or Albany schools) as long as kids from outside the district are pumping up the enrollment numbers and keeping everybody’s paychecks coming. There are always lots of parents in Oakland and Richmond who want to get their kids into BUSD. These kids do not have pesky parents who annoy the administration with their concerns, so all the better.

    My recent experience at one of the BUSD K-6 Spanish/English dual immersion schools was that a very large percentage of the Spanish-speaking kids were from Oakland and Richmond, not Berkeley. I know this because the kids in one of the all-Spanish classes had written and illustrated biographies for an “About Me” project, and these were displayed in the hallways at school. It was eye-opening to walk down the hallway and read about kid after kid who lives in Richmond or Oakland (or were savvy enough not to say exactly where they lived).

  40. Please provide some data. If there are “tons of schools where people are actually shot” you won’t have any trouble naming a few. We are in the real world.

  41. BUSD Craig “The have been isolated instances, however, when a student on probation moves to Berkeley from another district. Sometimes there can be a lag before the district hears about that student’s probation status.”

    Former BUSD student services directors closed this lag time by insisting that the transfer student provide probation officers contact information prior to enrollment.

    Contra Costa county probation dept has a better system than Alameda county. In CoCO county probation officers case manage all student enrolled at a particular school site, in Alameda case managers have supervisory responsibilities are multiple sites, resulting in less effective coordination with schools counselors, intervention services or local law enforcement.

  42. SF Chronicle / ON THE EAST BAY
    March 15, 2011|By Chip Johnson

    For David Muhammad, the new chief of the Alameda County Probation Department, the primary task is to give juveniles the skills and resources they’ll need to make it outside the walls of juvenile detention.

    The 37-year-old Oakland native is a reformer. He wants to undo the theories that shaped juvenile justice policies in the 1990s, resulting in longer sentences and more juveniles being tried as adults.

    He also brings an interesting perspective to his office. He’s a former client of the county probation system, arrested three times as a youth, including once as a suspect in an attempted murder. No charges were ever filed.

    Muhammad struck out on his own when he was a freshman in high school. His mother had moved to Philadelphia and he flatly refused to go. His father was living in Washington, D.C.

    For the next two years, Muhammad stayed at friends’ houses, “couch-surfing” until a friend’s mother took him in and became his legal guardian.

    But successive brushes with the law led him to question his actions and take steps to gain control of his life.

    He was locked up once – for four days – on a drug possession accusation, but it was enough time to assess the direction his life was taking.

    “I don’t know if it was a jailer or a counselor who brought it up, but I distinctly remember thinking at 16 years old, where would I be in 10 years?” he recalled.

    When he was released, his girlfriend took him to the Oakland office of the Omega Boys Club, a nonprofit youth organization that started in San Francisco in 1987.

    “David was no different than a lot of young people who get programmed with the street mentality, thinking it’s a way to survive,” said founder Joe Marshall. “It’s not hard to get infected with that mind-set, but you’ve bought into something that won’t keep you out of prison – and coming to terms with that fact can turn your life around.”

    Marshall’s organization paid for Muhammad’s college tuition. And, after graduation from Howard University in 1996, Muhammad returned to Oakland to take a job as director of the Oakland Mentoring Center, which offers counseling programs to steer kids away from crime. He’s since worked as a deputy commissioner in the New York City probation department and for the Department of Youth Rehabilitating Services in Washington, D.C. It was in the nation’s capital that he established New Beginnings, a program that offered counseling as an alternative to incarceration for youthful offenders.

  43. “for their students” — if they’re illegally enrolled, they shouldn’t be “their students.” Teachers who work in BUSD are paid to teach Berkeley residents and legal transfers.

    To use an analogy, if I’m cutting up a pie for dessert in my home and want to give everyone an equal share, I don’t count someone who broke into my house among the guests and family members at the table. I grab the phone and call 911!

    Break into the house? No pie.
    Not a resident or legal transfer? No enrollment.

  44. Alina, regarding out-of-district transfers. it’s important to make a distinction between *legal* transfers and *illegal* transfers.

    Legal transfers are available and do happen.

    Illegal transfers are the problem that you see many of us up in arms about. Why? Because they’re *illegal.* The families who enroll *illegally* are committing fraud or perjury or both. This happens up and down the socioeconomic ladder. To me personally, the most galling ones are the affluent families who use a fake Berkeley address so they can live it up in the Oakland hills while not (*gasp*) having to send their kids to school there. I’ve had this put in my face on more than one occasion and I’ve had it. But that’s neither hear nor there: the illegal enrollment problem is at ALL rungs of the socioeconomic ladder and enforcing residency requirements is the best tool that we have for ensuring that Berkeley’s tax base is used to serve Berkeley residents.

    In other threads on Berkeleyside, I have posted comparative data about how BUSD doesn’t measure up to other nearby schools in its stewardship of the resources entrusted to it by the taxpayers. I won’t rehash all of these, but some key points:

    * at enrollment, BUSD’s proof of residency documentation requirements are laughably weak and hence trivially gamed.
    * BUSD sells BART tickets to students who are clearly using them to travel to homes not in Berkeley.
    * there is no anonymous tip line that results in a residency verification check

    As a taxpayer, I am happy to vote for class size reduction taxes for Berkeley residents and legal transfers. But I am outraged that we’d provide funding for excellent schools and then let a bunch of scofflaws hop the fence.

  45. Piero,

    You are not accurate, the small always is sent to diversion, smoking on campus is not a misdemeanor, vandalism and theft are, Berkeley always sends those cases to diversion, which is usually nothing or McCullum youth court. One of my sons was arrested for stealing cookies .69 cent from Andronico. He was referred to McCullum for diversion, after reading the evaluation of McCullum youth court, speaking with the evaluator and the director, we declined diversion, choosing the probation. The probation dept laughed, and wondered why Berkeley cops wasted so much time on a first time offender for a 69cent theft. They dropped it, since they are OVERWELMED with repeat offenders involved in violent crime.

    Muhammad’s comments about south Berkeley youth are OFFENSIVE, I have lived here 35 years, and raised two sons. Mr Muhammad claims that south berkeley youth need to carry for protection will not improve the public perception about the failures and effectiveness of the probation dept in community corrections.

    I would be happy to take him on a walk around the area and point out all the families of color who find his logic offensive. Look we have lived through the recent border war and plenty more, we know who is in the life and who is not. And we know that most of our kids have NO interest or intention in ever getting close to the street culture, and would never consider partying, being friends, or hanging out with those that do.

    We share values, ethics and principles. And our boys get to college.

    Marginalizing critics demanding accountability with terms like scapegoating will definitely backfire.

    We know of many examples of the probation dept failures in sharing probation status with local law enforcement. Some very high profile incidents, such as the Willard rape suspects. That individual was confined to home with a monitoring anklet according to the probation dept, but in fact he out doing look out duty for a drug house down the block. BPD was not informed of his status, and the monitoring anklet was only an accessory. Local law enforcement spend hours of wasted time confirming probation status, in some cases it requires going down to the dept and searching the paper files.

    If Frances had spoken with the three moms I provided her contact with instead of a new political appointee, we would have examples of repeat offenders, some on probation, with free access to campuses where they committed crimes, continuing to offend and being in proximity to the enrolled student who identified them in court. It was the moms of the victims who made sure the system worked, but it took time, persistence and know how.

  46. A powerful indictment.

    Berkeleyside promised (on another thread) to do some investigative reporting on the whole illegal enrollment topic. I hope they make good on that promise and that they let the sunshine in on the bureaucratic interests szunderwood has called out.

    The new school board members also promised to study the issue. How’s that going?

  47. So here’s what I think. The small schools have made Berkeley High more segregated. This gives those who want to gang up more opportunity to gang up since they are in closer proximity to each other. Small schools create less equity in the same way that WalMart creates poverty. We are developing a dangerous underclass of 2-tiered education at BHS, and those in the small schools are getting the shaft no matter what anyone else says. they are more poorly educated and those kids cannot do math to save their lives. All their classes are scaled down in order for the kids to pass. Grade inflation, group tests, group essay writing, all in the name of equity. Up is down and down is up. Education should be about educating. Some of those teachers are so caught up in themselves teaching kids about social justice (which I love, by the way) that they forget…these are KIDS, they need to know how to read, write and do math. So what we have is a lot of the lowest performers thrown together in small schools – now those are the most unsafe place at BHS due to the concentration of criminal element in one small place. The kids who have it the worst are the kids who want to learn but are stuck in that environment. Awful.

  48. San Francisco has one and the sound of it Albany will have one soon Albany is doing major crackdown this and next year

  49. Very concerned BHS parent: I was interested in your comments at the board
    meeting, which I was covering. I’d love to follow up on some of the things
    you said. Get in touch with me if you have a moment: lknobel@gmail.com

  50. Berkeley also illegally outsources its offspring to Albany schools. We know two couples, one who resides in North Berkeley (not far from a local, diverse elementary school) and sends both children to Albany elementary schools on false pretexts and a family from Albany who could not get their child into the same Albany elementary school of their choice in their own neighborhood, in part because the Berkeley family (and probably others from Berkeley) had somehow enrolled their child there. The Berkeley couple are both outspoken progressives who champion “diversity,” except when it come to their own elementary aged children…

    We know an El Cerrito teenager who pretends to live in the N. Berkeley Hills to enroll at BHS. There are many layers of duplicity in this sordid business, but the bottom line is netting the $5,000 + per pupil funding from the state.

    Berkeley homeowners are an aging community overall and many renters or younger homeowners do not have or want a large family and many children are also enrolled in private schools. This “child deficit” creates a situation where the institutions would need to be scaled back to fit the actual need for their service. But that would necessitate staff layoffs and serious institutional and bureaucratic restructuring and diminished justification for increased taxation and revenue.

    Public schools, like all public bureaucracies exist first and foremost to perpetuate themselves and secondarily to serve the public interest.

    Despite all of the evident outrage here on Berkeleyside, I think the public school bureaucracy knows full well that it can outlast all of its critics. Parents, who have little real influence in any event, in every class become infuriated with the ineptitude of the administration and the harm their children suffer, but most eventually weary of fighting this entrenched behemoth and either move to a private school, leave Berkeley or their children simply graduate and they give up the futile battle.

    Only a total “sea change” in public thinking could compel the public school bureaucracy to reform itself. We would need a totally new breed of school board members to start with, outspoken and knowledgeable critics like Laura Menard for example. The next step would be to replace the principles and compel the bureaucracy to enforce many neglected or overlooked rules and laws which, if enacted, would greatly benefit the quality of education at BHS which fails most of its students, but, above all, its students of color.

    The failed, tiresome, leftist rhetoric which has tyrannized BHS for at least forty years needs to be swept into the ashtray of history. The lessons of Tripoli and Cairo loom large here. These profoundly corrupt vested self-interest groups will not be vanquished without a battle. Just as we cannot “impose” democracy from without in the Middle East or anywhere else, this revolt should be initiated by the students themselves, led from within by the few principled (mostly math and science) teachers at BHS who do strive to educate ALL (they are colorblind!) to the high standards (I know some personally). When the students en masse go on strike and protest to demand a better education and a safe, violence free campus, the game will be up for the corrupt educational establishment and its tireless shills and apologists as epitomized on this forum by “Bruce Love.”

    I speak as a longtime resident, parent and BHS graduate.

  51. I just got back for the School Board meeting and am tired, but I did read your reply and a joke comes to mind. “Ever ask a lawyer what time it was?” “He told you how to build a watch didn’t he?” So just asking Bruce -you don’t have to say but are you a lawyer? Anyway, I forget the point except to say the folks in charge ought to fight their impulses to defend themselves in these circumstances until it is really about them and not about our kids safety. All we are asking is that they do their jobs. I am not asking that they be fined or put in jail. they are safe from that I am certian we can agree…..

  52. I am a supporter of a zero tolerance policy when it comes to violence and guns at school.
    Having said that, Mr. Muhammad is correct in his statements. I know kids that get caught up in probation for some of the most minor reasons, and also there are some kids with spotless records who are hardcore criminals. There are not many of them at BHS. the majority of kids who are into crime, are middle class, and really more into the glamor and image of it. You get mad street cred for doing crazy stuff.
    The handful of hardcore criminal students at BHS are a part of any large demographic of people anywhere in the world. they are no more or less criminal then Bankers, white collar criminals, or some of the city officials in Berkeley or Oakland.
    I say you get caught with a gun you suffer the consequences, period. However, if you just happened to be smoking on campus or late, you don’t deserve to get lumped in with someone who just snuck a 45. into class.
    This is part of what I was saying in an earlier post. deciding who goes where, and who gets in how much trouble is unglamorous, dirty, messy and thankless, and I for one, appreciate people like Mr. Muhammad for even trying to take up what has traditionally been more of a adult complaining political forum that goes no where, rather than a serious disciplinary body for youth at risk.

    It just time for people to step up and challenge the ideologies of these kids on a person to person basis.
    If you are not willing to do that, then I really don’t understand why you might think you would have a reason to debate here. these kids need hardcore guidance. Step up or shut up.
    and Please, as usual, pardon my fiery tone. I am part of the problem. I know this.

    Thank you.

    Piero Amadeo Infante

  53. Where do you think journalist get their stories? from public advocates, I have been feeding stories to BDP, daily cal, Oakland Tribune and Berkeleyside for years.

  54. Worse than that, really. They don’t just fail to act: they act in ways that undermine their stewardship of the community’s resources. Examples: selling BART tickets, setting weak documentation standards for establishing residency.

  55. This certainly doesn’t make it easy for us to know what’s what. Can Berkeleyside weigh in, too?

  56. I don’t know if it’s as simple as all that… I would like to think that the majority of the people who work at BHS are good people who really want the best for their students and the community. I just think that sometimes it can be hard to see what needs to be changed when you’re on the inside.

    But I agree that BHS probably ought to be split into two schools. Two schools with 1,650 students would be a lot easier to manage than the 3,300-student school they have now.

  57. Phfft. BHS and its affiliates are real schools, which I for one, don’t think are anywhere close to being “rich white a** private schools”, NOR SHOULD THEY BE. But — I pay taxes in this Town, and I expect a much higher caliber of educational institutions then I would say, Brooklyn — for instance, I think in a town our size, we should be able to capture this problem and nip it, maybe not quelch it, but nip it — and we can do that with the $$ we taxpayers spend to educate you people.

    And watch your mouth BHSer, there’s a lot of white not rich a** people here who’ve been borne and raised here, and we ain’t your mush mouth rich white folks. Welcome to the real world? Really? Obviously, you’ve not experienced the real world where you hold a cloth on someone’s body who’s been shot by a GUN while you call 911. Until you do, don’t start calling on what you think are your youthful wannabe streetsmarts.

    There’s a reason I am deeply concerned: it’s because I HAVE watched people shot down, I’ve held a cloth to a bullet wound, and I have been beat-down. There’s a reason I dropped out of BHS back in the day, it was because it didn’t feel safe to me. Frankly, it sounds worse now. this should NOT feel like the norm to you; you shouldn’t even have to consider that it’s okay for 1 person to have a gun on campus; but you do — that makes me really sad.

    I am not condoning your loss of freedoms and rights; I’m advocating for your right to move about upon a campus as freely as possible w/o having to fend off guns or other attacks or learn that this is NORMAL. It is NOT normal, and it is NOT acceptable here in Berkeley — regardless of what you think. I may be an adult now, but I’m no different in my head (short of experience and higher education) than you are now. I have perspective, and I have children… there is nothing more important to me than the safety and security of my children; all you kids. What you learn now will carry you through the rest of your lives. What I’d like is for the kids and young adults of Berkeley to not have to worry about this kind of thing… you don’t know how long Berkeley schools have misled us on these topics. You really don’t — it’s been for over 30 years now, and we’re sick and tired of the discussion — we want you kids to be safe.

  58. The district pretends it is legally powerless to do anything to enforce residency for school admission, but no other school district shares this interpretation.

  59. They can be good or bad, but they do not belong at BHS. Thats my tax money and the out of resident students are sucking resources, crowding class roomrooms, causing problems and making the system unmanagable. Lets get real fold, even if your are a liberal do you think a high school as big as BhS is going to be any good at all?? You need the Marines to manage something that big.
    Fact is, BUSD is getting eaxy money by cramming kids in like sardines. The rate of growth at BHS is much higher than the neagtive rate of growth in the City. BUSD is running a fraud, a puppymill for Fed and state cash. To save their salaries and pensions. Its as easy as that.

  60. Listening to the board meeting as I write, the school district CLEARLY is in the process of adopting the position and concerns of us critics identified a decade of failed and inadequate security measures.
    What remains to be seen, is any real capacity to progress.

  61. Alina check out Supt comments at 8:53 pm during school board meeting, and you will learn that the district, BPD both recognize IMPROVED case management of high risk offenders is critical and that Alameda county probation is disorganized

  62. Time to create an anonymous tip line for fraudulent enrollment reporting. Fremont has one. I called them today to ask how it works. Very impressed — the woman who answered the phone clearly “gets” that the school district has a responsibility to protect the taxpayers’ investment in the community. If there’s a tip, they do a home visit to verify residency. Bruce Love will chime in to say that they can’t do that, but clearly they can. His interpretation of the state law is at one extreme but the truth is that responsible districts all around the state have confronted the grifter problem head on. Notice how these Oakland kids don’t wind up at Piedmont High? BUSD needs to step up.

  63. Far from inflammatorily “scapegoat[ing]” juvenile probationers, identifying the numerous repeat offenders at BHS is rather an exercise in exposing repeat failures in [loco] parental supervision.

    As have so many executive directors in the youth services industries before him, newflakker Muhammad raises a tired shield emblazoned, roughly, “sad story.” “[S]till not enough” service delivery to troubled youth? I must object. An outcome evaluation of — for example — BYA’s and AlamCoJuvProbation’s successes and shortcomings is strongly advised before sentencing “our” young reserve army to additional hours of service propping up the professions.

    For the institutional realm, the long view is indeed upon “[BUSD] work[ing] closely with probation.” There might come a day when the S.Craig and the D.Muhammad swap risk assessment and IEP details, as in collaborative case management. No time soon.

    The current baseline for enhanced supervision is that director Craig be “aware of all the Berkeley students who are on probation” But even this rudiment, in a district that fails to determine which of its students are indeed “Berkeley” students, is rarely mastered. Add to this the known impediments of balkanized county jurisdictions, data entry delays and errors, and we must regard any Neg Dec from either agency with patient skepticism.

    In fact, BUSD’s basic and reassuring policy that “students who bring a gun to school are automatically expelled” is suspect. I recall an extreme example in the recent BHS valedictory address delivered by a known campus gun-toter: BHS regimes are clearly free to embrace a “cultural atmosphere that makes gun-toting seem all right,” and free to ignore a variety of felonies, threats, hazards, and violent acts as, perhaps, youthful indiscretions. Where oh where is the teachable moment?

    Lucas

  64. 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.

  65. Really? Because it seemed to me like he was suggesting that since none of these gun incidents involved students on probation, that meant that students on probation weren’t bringing guns to school.

    Maybe I’m reading more into it than he meant, but that’s what I got out of it.

  66. Alina, we have facts, board members and district staff confirmed that the district knows at least one of the recent arrested students is on probation.

    I spoke with Francis when she called me late today, she confirmed that Mohammad acknowledges that the probation records management and information sharing between agencies is full of inaccuracies, she just left that out of the reporting.

  67. According to Berkeleyside’s updatees on the BHS lockdown from today, there were no offenders.

  68. Perhaps. But based on the info provided we don’t know that. And I encourage Berkeleyside to further investigate and report back and clarify this issue about record keeping and communication between different agencies.
    I like facts, not speculation.

  69. The thing is, there’s only one world. It’s all real. That includes the parts where there are guns in schools AND the parts where there aren’t. Any special reason we shouldn’t raise our expectations to the point that BHS should be in the latter category? Or do you prefer posturing?

  70. CS–Yeah, that’s fair. My comment was prompted by my seeing his remarks as consistent with many others we’ve seen over the past week or so…but none of those were from him, and you’re right there could be more to his intent.

  71. DA Matt Golde is responsible for charging juveniles, and has been in this position for 20 years. Mohammad is in probation, check out the link to his facebook. Mohammad could easily be inaccurate based on the history of records management issues in probation.

  72. I’m sure next will be Mr. love calling me a racist…even though i thought there were to be no personal attacks on this forum obviously some people get special treatment!!!

  73. A berkeley police officer told me off the record that
    the kids that brought the guns to BHS are from Oakland Period how do you debate that information?

  74. Berkeley High is made out to be a horrible place. There are tons of schools where people are actually shot and beaten weekly. Yeah it isn’t your rich white a** private school but welcome to the real world.

  75. Sharkey: Please refrain from getting into sparring matches in the Berkeleyside Comments section. Many readers have addressed you directly to you about what they see as hostility. We value your insights but want to keep the tone civil, as I’m sure you do.

  76. To be clear, Mohammad is likely to be found inaccurate once they look deeper for status reports. Even BUSD acknowledges one of the students in on probation.

  77. You need to look at those quotes and ask yourself in what context those statements were made. The reporting is bad here because no context is given for the statement. Maybe he was asked why he thought kids carried guns. Maybe he was making excuses. Who knows?

  78. I raised two sons in south Berkeley, they did not commit crimes and even though they definitely were not safe they did not buy or carrying a gun EVER!. They were victims of neighborhood criminals who did use guns, sell guns, and rob people, as was I.

    The last robbery which was prosecuted occurred in El Cerrito, the south Berkeley offender (multiple victims and weapons involved) was placed on probation only. Contra Costa probation notified me of his transfer to Alameda County probation since he lived in Berkeley and our right to request restitution. When I contacted Alameda County Probation there was no record of the offender, I was informed how common this was.
    Take note both BPD and El Cerrito police dept had arrested this one individual numerous times and knew him well by description. I have been told numerous times over the years by BHS admin, BPD cops and others working in this system how common it is for the probation records systems to be incorrect, which is one reason it is considered a troubled agency under reforms.

    Comparing the comments from two different DA invited to south Berkeley meeting by council member Darryl Moore to what this new director Mohammad suggests is a huge disconnect. Both DA talked about the fact that these days it is common to prosecute an adult at 18 with a juvenile record of 8-9 arrests. This was a public meeting at Francis Albrier.

  79. I second this. I know of one student who was in CC County juvenile hall at least twice, who is known to be a terrible bully, who threatens students (off campus of course) and whose brother is in a gang and and who has free reign to terrorize other BHS students. Who is tracking him? Do we have ANY cross check with CC County juvenile hall? Because I bet we don’t. Someone should just ride the BART train from 3:45-5pm north to Richmond. These are kids who have already been kicked out of school in West County but their files have not gone to Berkeley.

    I know a parent who offers rides home to football players late at night after practice…and who drives all over Oakland doing so. These are not bad kids, but they do NOT live in Berkeley.

  80. Alina, just so you know: You made perfect sense to me. You’re being dragged away, in some replies, from your call for facts and radical stuff like calm and unbiased examination.

  81. All I said is that I like that Berkeleyside went out and investigated whether the kids who were involved in these recent incidents were on probation. As Muhammad said there is a perception amongst many to scapegoat the students on probation for the bad incidents at BHS. As the DA said, that’s not the case – at least not in these recent 4 arrests. That’s it. End of statement. That’s all I was saying. Are kids on probation upstanding citizens? No. Should they be in their own separate programs? I don’t know. I wasn’t commenting on that at all.

  82. Also, with all due respect, I would have to add that we will have to be taking the Alemeda Probation Departments word for this in as much as when asked you will ONLY be told that it is “none of your business” under juvenile confidentiality rules. I was told on a number of occasions, when my son was robbed by three students udner the camera at BHS this year, that none of them had records. As it “turned out” they did.

    All we are asking is that these folks do their jobs….better.

  83. It does prove that these 4 particular incidents did not involve kids on probation. He didn’t speculate on anything else like you just did. Your logic doesn’t prove anything either.

  84. Perhaps you did but here is what the law itself actually says. I’ll explain some of the reference to other code after:

    49079. (a) A school district shall inform the teacher of each pupil
    who has engaged in, or is reasonably suspected to have engaged in,
    any of the acts described in any of the subdivisions, except
    subdivision (h), of Section 48900 or in Section 48900.2, 48900.3,
    48900.4, or 48900.7 that the pupil engaged in, or is reasonably
    suspected to have engaged in, those acts. The district shall provide
    the information to the teacher based upon any records that the
    district maintains in its ordinary course of business, or receives
    from a law enforcement agency, regarding a pupil described in this
    section.
    (b) A school district, or school district officer or employee, is
    not civilly or criminally liable for providing information under this
    section unless it is proven that the information was false and that
    the district or district officer or employee knew or should have
    known that the information was false, or the information was provided
    with a reckless disregard for its truth or falsity.
    (c) An officer or employee of a school district who knowingly
    fails to provide information about a pupil who has engaged in, or who
    is reasonably suspected to have engaged in, the acts referred to in
    subdivision (a) is guilty of a misdemeanor, which is punishable by
    confinement in the county jail for a period not to exceed six months,
    or by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both.
    (d) For the 1994-95 school year, the information provided shall be
    from the previous two school years. For the 1996-97 school year and
    each school year thereafter, the information provided shall be from
    the previous three school years.
    (e) Any information received by a teacher pursuant to this section
    shall be received in confidence for the limited purpose for which it
    was provided and shall not be further disseminated by the teacher.

    The offenses in 48900 that are referred to are certain activities engaged in in connection to school activities or school attendance — they are a subset of the offenses that justify expulsion. Students can be “on parole” for many reasons well beyond having to do with any of the 48900 stuff. If the quote you gave is a direct quote from a school official, I believe that they misspoke (perhaps ask them to clarify and assert the basis of their claims? I’m open minded). If the quote you gave is not a direct and official quote, I suspect you misunderstood in context.

  85. Frances,

    You would need to cross check with Contra Costa probation as well, to even come close to some semblance of accuracy.

  86. Well, Alina, the good news is that you must never have been on probation. Because I don’t think you understand what being on probation means. It means you have either pled or been found guilty of a crime against another person – beyond a reasonable doubt. Being on probation means you have agreed to the loss of certain liberties SO THAT YOU CAN HAVE the LIBERTY of staying out of jail for your crime. It means that you are considered a risk and are therefore on “probation.” It takes a mountain of work and resources to get a person who is committing crimes against others to get all his/her rights and due process and then be on record so that folks can be protected. So tell me again how these folks are being scapegoated here? All we are asking is that the school does it’s job to keep our kids safe. Also, regarding out of district kids: Let’s just make sure that they aren’t wanted by the police or on a Bench Warrant for any violent crimes before we admit them. Once again, please see Ed code Section 49079 where they have legislated “scapegoating?” of these particular “groups.”

  87. Just pointing out that the logic used by the chief probation officer is worthless and doesn’t actually prove anything.

  88. “If I feel like I live in a war zone then I am going to feel like I need to carry a weapon,” said Muhammad. “If I live in a more challenging neighborhood, like south Berkeley, which has been in a protracted war with north Oakland, then I may feel like I am living in a war zone and I am going to carry a weapon.”
    You know, this is all true. But so what? Seriously, so what? Is the reason that someone carries a weapon onto campus supposed to make everyone who doesn’t just shake their heads in sorrow and accept the presence of guns in a public educational setting? I suppose that kind of tweaked logic does work around Berkeley more often than it should. But the fact that we can explain the roots of behavior (and I’m very aware that if I grew up under the same circumstances I might very well be carrying a gun as well) absolutely does not mean that that behavior should be tolerated in a public school.

  89. I got this DIRECTLY from the School District in response to a dmeand to see public documents.
    ***Per Education Code of 49079, school district employees can be fined up to $1,000 and JAILED for up to six months for knowingly failing to provide information regarding pupils who have been suspended, expelled or are on probation.***

  90. It doesn’t mean that they do either. Unless you have some proof that you’d like to share with us.
    But wait. What’s this got to do with my initial comment?

  91. Just because none of the students caught on campus with guns in the last 3 months have been convicted felons does not mean that convicted felon students have not been bringing guns to campus.

  92. Why is the chief probation officer for Alameda County making excuses for students bringing guns and knives to school? He says “I am not minimizing serious offenses” but then turns around and does exactly that.

    Yes, absolutely, all students deserve a chance to learn and to turn their lives around no matter what they’ve done.
    But I have to question why we’re putting all students of all backgrounds in the same school.

    Felon students and those who have criminal histories could obviously benefit from stricter security & more individual attention than they’re going to get at BHS. Creating a special, smaller school where these students could get the attention and engagement that they need and that separates them from the other students who are doing fine with the current system would benefit everyone involved.

  93. The probation office and the school system are required by law, (see, for example, Ed Code sec 49079) and under very significant penalties, for not doing so, to notify the right parties, institutions and people about students who are on probation.

    That is not what that part of the California Education Code actually says. You are mistaken.

  94. This is painful to read. I am a parent new to the public schools this year and have a freshman at BHS. I had been thinking that it was the probation department’s job to help deep tabs on kids who have pled or been convicted of crimes, and not to demonize the parents of the victims. To remind Mr. Muhammad, ALL of our kids are required by law to go to school and are placed in a student-dense situation where they are dependent on the judgment of officials to have the judgment to keep them safe.

    Could Mr. Muhammad and the author of this article, Ms Dinkelspiel, please give us the information along with Mr. Muhammad’s opinion? Does Mr. Muhammad have some kind of information that there is some “collusion” by parents to inappropriately victimize students who are on probation, or his he saying that students on probation should not be considered any real risk? Why wasn’t Mr. Muhammad at the BHS meeting last night about safety at BHS? Isn’t he hearing that kids are bringing laoded guns to school because they are scared that there ISN’T enough supervision and law enforcement on campus? Is there an available record that shows how many times the juvenile probation office has failed to get the most recent information regarding students who are on probation activities to the court system? Is a probation report that states “school was closed over winter break” considered a sufficient probation report on a juvenile up for sentencing for several robberies? What is the recidivism record of students on probation? What is the record of students who are passed from one district to another and how are they vetted for risk ranking? Have students who are wanted an Bench Warrants allowed to transfer into other school districts?

    The probation office and the school system are required by law, (see, for example, Ed Code sec 49079) and under very significant penalties, for not doing so, to notify the right parties, institutions and people about students who are on probation. Is a fear of being confronted with these penalties for making mistakes in any way involved in Mr. Muhammad’s reasoning for demonizing the concerned parents?

    All we are asking is that officials do your jobs and keep our kids safe as best as possible. But sure, blame us. That works too????? ;-{.

  95. I am grateful for more detailed information on these issues. I’m sure there is much more to be informed about. It was especially helpful to hear from Muhammad and what the probation dept. does. What about this incident today? Are there any facts available about the offenders outside the school today, and how they figure in the environment and climate of the school premises?

  96. Thanks for this article. We need more facts and less speculation.
    Another group that gets scapegoated are out-of-district students. Were any of the kids involved in the recent incidents non-permitted out-of-district students?
    Also, can anyone comment on what is BUSD’s policy on admitting out-of-district kids? Are they adhering to it? Again, facts would be good.