BUSD is dropping effort to establish community school at the Berkeley Adult School. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

The Berkeley Unified School District is dropping its efforts to place a school for expelled students inside the Berkeley Adult School on San Pablo Avenue.

Superintendent Bill Huyett thinks “the District has other more pressing issues and needs that require staff time,” according to a press release that was sent out at 12:40 a.m. Sunday “The District will continue to encourage the Alameda County Office of Education to locate services for expelled students in the northern part of the county.”

The decision means that the students expelled from BUSD, whether for truancy, bad behavior, repeated suspensions, and violent acts like carrying a weapon to school, will have to do independent study or travel to another community school run by the ACOE, like the one in Hayward. This year 17 students have been expelled from the district.

BUSD has been facing a number of pressing issues this year, and apparently Huyett was not willing to dedicate the resources necessary to fight off the objections of a group of neighbors who did not want a community school in their neighborhood.

The group, Berkeley Adult School Neighbors, thought the plan was not well thought out and accused the district of trying to slip in the school without adequately notifying the community. Neighbors were also concerned that crime would increase if a group of high-risk kids came into the area each day. City Councilwoman Linda Maio, who represents that area, had also expressed concern about the program.

This year, the district has had to deal with potentially huge cuts in its budget due to the state’s fiscal issues. Huyett and other top district officials have also been spending time creating a plan to address the prevalence of guns in Berkeley high schools. Earlier this year, two students accidentally shot off a gun in a bathroom portable at Berkeley High; a bullet penetrated the wall but did not strike anyone. There were five other gun incidents at the two high schools this year.

Huyett is planning to present a set of recommendations about guns to the school board on June 29.

Frances Dinkelspiel

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

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  1. It’s clear from your post you don’t live here – do you want to offer to have this or a halfway house maybe built across the street from your house?  Do you have young children?  Pointing NIMBY at people who live in lower income neighborhoods is even MORE classist …  “Yes, you peons down there shouldn’t be complaining about what goes on in your ghetto, it’s so sad.”  Until you live down here, shut up.

  2. It’s clear from your post you don’t live here – do you want to offer to have this or a halfway house maybe built across the street from your house?  Do you have young children?  Pointing NIMBY at people who live in lower income neighborhoods is even MORE classist …  “Yes, you peons down there shouldn’t be complaining about what goes on in your ghetto, it’s so sad.”  Until you live down here, shut up.

  3. Let’s just be honest. You have never been to this neighborhood and don’t know that it is filled with the selfsame minorities you accuse us of avoiding. You also don’t know that the person who started the BAS Neighbors blog is a black woman who was a single parent for 8 years. Our problem is not the kids – it’s the politicians. Some of us are working with the BUSD Board to guarantee that a good program is developed for these students. Are you doing anything to help these “mostly minority kids”? If yes, let me know – maybe we can work together.

  4. @9f80ca8126a55e09ce8dd8e6c51c7d24:disqus  when you make a grand statement like that you better have evidence. Uttering nonsense seems to be a privilege reserved for “progressives”

  5. Hmmm… couldn’t it be considered a bit racist to assume that most expelled students with behavior problems will be minorities?

    Berkeley Adult School was chosen by BUSD because it was convenient not because it was the best for what those students need.

  6. Lets just be honest.  This is racism, pure and simple.  The neighborhood did not want this classroom located at the Adult School because they did not want to have those, mostly minority kids, in their backyard.  It is very disappointing that the school board (that right now has 5 so called “progressives” in it) did not show any leadership by caving in to these few people and not standing for what is best for the students they are supposed to represent.

  7. “Berkeley school district spokesman Mark Coplan said the

    abandoned the proposal because too much staff time was
    consumed by

    community meetings and information demanded by neighbors.
    “It was a

    bigger process than we anticipated,” Coplan said.
    “The neighbors’

    reaction made it a bigger piece of pie to chew on. We

    anticipate it taking up so much staff time.”


    At least some reporter had the brilliant idea to get a statement from BUSD. What a concept!

  8. I stand by my comment. If it is not acceptable by Berkeleyside’s guidelines then it does not belong here.

  9. “Strive for accuracy. Try to get your facts right. If something is wrong, we want to correct it as soon and as visibly as we can.”

  10. YeOldeFart, I tried to send you an email to explain why I deleted your comment but you have given a false email address. If you contact me, I will tell you how to repost in a manner that conforms to Berkeleyside’s guidelines.

  11. The world according to @e257c7836970faa32160fda3aee95871:disqus : These kids by being expelled ‘..show[s] at least a shred of personal integrity” while these “paranoia about housing values immoral neighbors with their clouded judgement use crime statistics and talk about property values impact rather than just creating opportunities at everyone’s expense and safety.

    Friend your mind is clouded; you may want to lay off the reefer while on Berkeleyside. After all you are in public.

  12. Property values is what pays for all your progressive liberal wasteful agenda. Next election we will kick all these dogma-oriented politicians out of City Hall and run the city under a pragmatic responsive government. It will be time for deadbeats to leave town. I suggest you start packing.

  13. The ACOE and BUSD were asked to have a written proposal and perform an
    impact analysis on the neighborhood by locating delinquents in a
    yet-to-be-defined program in a residential area. This has been a
    standing request since early March 2011.

    Three months later the ACOE and BUSD decided not to write up a plan
    (support services, logistics, curriculum,campus safety) and not go
    through a safety impact analysis once the students are out of class.
    They claim they are busy with other issues which is I believe is
    correct. Planning a CDS is a serious endeavor which seems to have been
    lost in the rushed way it was pushed. It was the brain child of Joaquin Rivera and Sheila Jordan’s desire to create an independent study program like other counties have. She admitted it would be a first for an ACOE district! First time programs however require quite a bit of planning. That is exactly what the neighbors demanded: planning to be effective.

    In effect BUSD and ACOE had to shape up or drop it. The chose to drop it..

    It is quite a stretch to draw the conclusion that the neighbors don’t
    care about the welfare and education of expelled Berkeley kids. Au contraire, what the
    neighbors demanded from BUSD and ACOE is a well thought-out, well-planned program that
    minimizes the risk of these kids getting into trouble again in an
    environment were academics and support is the primary objective and not

  14. Berkeley is not safe because of the City Council and BUSD who are reckless and incompetent in enacting policies without any consideration on crime impact. They have turned the “liberal Berkeley” into one of the highest property crime cities in the nation. There is no NIMBY – crime is in everyone’ yard. Fighting against increasing risk of crime is a RIGHT not a PRIVILEGE.

  15. hello virginia,

    unfortunately you make the assumptions that:
    1. opportunities are cost-less
    2. opportunities work

    The first one I understand it is beyond the layman to understand and incorporate. Most people are lost at two level of logical thinking. Even less survive addition and division by fractions. The second one I would urge you to contact the California Dept of Education and query about the “success” of these programs throughout the state. Once you do that then come back and have an informed conversation.

  16. Bruce: we don’t care about your opinion or your inability to think critically or your delusions that you represent something or someone.
    frankly you don’t exist. you are nothing. you will remain nothing.

  17. Heather you make the big assumption that Frances is an investigative reporter. I think she is best suited writing articles about pizza; where cheesy is good.

  18. Disappointed, again you are incorrect, read the school district packets expulsion hearings.  And read the state education code.

  19. You want to help these kids?  Don’t send them to school, you send them to San Quention  on a scared straight program..And I don’  mean an afternoon, but a goddamn week  or more and made to take a tour of the whole facility. They’ll be scared even bring a water balloon to school after that.

  20. Generosity? Unfortunately it’s nothing that grand. Closer to the truth is BUSD/Union empire building. Their vision: an “East Bay High”. More kids (who cares where they live), more staff, higher admin salaries, another parcel tax. 

  21. Well, if the City of Berkeley actually made an afford and sold San Pablo and University ave properties, they would of had more then enough money to build more class rooms on existing property, just the extra revenue on the taxes alone would take care of those needs. Also I’ve heard this argument before that the city needs to keep those buildings for future students, well when is that going to happen? 10 years, 20 years?The San Pablo ave campus sat dormant for over 30 years unoccupied  without a single student until they spiffed up the pace for the  Adult School moved in. Which begs the question even more: why do they need such a large amount of space? You don’t need a gymnasium, a cafeteria  or a playground  when your students are  adults learning  rudimentary academics like ESL and GED prep classes. Teh Traffic School classes have more students then

    Berkeley Adult School  is a  tax payers money pit that needs to be shut down immediately and those concrete blocks of real-state sold off. The money generated from citytaxes and needed construction work
    is what’s important now, not waiting for some  future baby boom fifty years down the road. 

  22. They can always get a GED on their own steam.  Plenty of adults do. It doesn’t require a dedicated building or concentration of a bunch of bad’uns in our neighborhood.  Sorry, but actions have consequences.

  23. Well now these kids will never get an education! They have been expelled for a plethora of reasons but aren’t all students entitled to FAPE ( Free Appropriate Public Education)! Where will they go now! Yes of course their behavior is wrong but where is the opportunity to turn their lives around! What per cent of the offenses are gun related? What per cent are simply bad choices!
    They have to have a program somewhere! Where will that be now?

  24. That is perhaps the heart of it. As the program opened with just a score of students it would be easy enough to discover if any of the most delinquent beneficiaries actually resided in Berkeley, or rather if again Berkeley was just being abused for its generosity.

  25. Or perhaps we can adopt more stringent enrollment requirements (similar to Piedmont, Albany, or Fremont) and then evaluate whether taxpayer funded bond monies should be going towards adding a ‘new’ elementary school. 

  26. This is the part where I think you folks lose some of us:

    this school was going to derail all of that and let it slip back into more crime, more property destruction, etc.

    I have a hard time believing that and y’all haven’t exactly made your case ….

  27. I haven’t studied the proposal’s history so I’m not offering any opinion about it.  Regarding the Berkeley Adult School space itself, it would not surprise me if BUSD will need this space in future years to add a traditional elementary school to its “north zone”.  Every BUSD public elementary school across the district is under pressure to add students and classrooms, to the point where another staff lunchroom or other inadequately-sized space gets turned into a classroom every year.  Plans are under discussion at present to relocate the BUSD bilingual education program to a single campus, and it’s hard to envision where they’d place it unless they moved to a space that doesn’t currently operate as an elementary school.

  28. Agreed 100%, also as a resident of this neighborhood.  Things really seem to be turning around for the area and are on a good path — this school was going to derail all of that and let it slip back into more crime, more property destruction, etc.

    I’m glad to see BUSD finally decided to get its priorities straight and not stick us with a bunch of criminal thugs.

  29. BTech is a continuation school for Berkeley students who “who have not graduated from high school, are not exempt from compulsory
    school attendance, and are deemed at risk of not completing their
    education”.  It is not for students expelled from the district.  If you are expelled, you are expelled from every school in the district.  When that happens, you can go to another district or a school run by a county office of education.

  30. The timing of the statement (if accurately reported) seems a little odd also, in the dead of night on a weekend:  “according to a press release that was sent out at 12:40 a.m. Sunday.”  What’s up with that?  Can we read any significance into it?

  31. The only way Berkeley is going to be a nice place to live in is addressing these problems and not letting  the powers that be just dump their problems on  decent, hard working  people. And another thing: Why on earth dose the Berkeley Adult School need to be in such a gigantic space as the San Pablo( ans ex University ave) campuses? Those eyesores should of been torn down years ago and the property sold of. Honestly,  most Adult Schools have a small curriculum of classes and at most need maybe three or four rooms. Anything else like cooking or graphic design classes could be done at the High School at night.  Albany and Piedmont have been doing it that way for years so why can’t Berkeley do it as well?

  32. Why is NIMBY an insult? There are lots of things I don’t want in my neighborhood, toxic dumps, drug dealers, delinquents etc., that doesn’t mean we want those things in your neighborhood either. Let’s all work together to keep Berkeley getting nicer, all the neighborhoods.

  33. Disappointed; you are disappointing. “Liberal” Berkeley isn’t what you think it is. Ask me? Huey Newton gave me my first job when I was 15 years old. My dad was friends with Abby Hoffman. I have a family background so liberal it would rock your world…. and yet… and I do not want this in my backyard: Berkeley IS my backyard.

  34. Frances seems to have a complete disconnect about what is an expellable offense; truancy is one issue,  bad behavior is another, repeated suspensions are another — NONE of those are mandatory expellable offenses, and in fact, BUSD only expels the most serious offenders.  We do not have truancy officers; we do not expel for truancy, nor do they expel for behavioral problems less than serious violence. Those who are expelled are, unfortunately, those offenders who have exhibited the worst of the worst behaviors or brought weapons to the school campus. 

  35. You can call me a NIMBY all day long, and really — this is my call; As it was proposed, the Community Day School in Berkeley is a project that I would not wish on ANY neighborhood. So why haven’t the affluent neighborhoods in Berkeley been approached with a program of this type? A CDS doesn’t have to be in a school, so you can quit that argument. It’s easy to argue when you don’t have a dog in the race, right??? Yes, folks, you are safe in your neighborhood. In particular when the director of the ACOE programs lives on a houseboat in Sausalito, don’t you DARE call me a NIMBY.  

    BUSD attempted to plan the community day school at BAS without knowledge of the neighbors. They did no data analysis as to site suitability, community safety, school resources or anything other than to try to push through an agenda item that has no real bearing on the needs of our district. We have THREE (3) students in the Hayward CDS — According to Leah Wilson those are currently the only students that need this particular service; so who, we asked, would this school be serving? Who is the target group? BUSD and ACOE had no answer for this.  Berkeley’s need is far greater than those who are expelled; BUSD’S need extends into the middle school where students are committing expellable offenses that go under the radar and yet — and YET need to be addressed without spiking the statistics. 
    I’m tired of the strawman and name-calling which only deigns to shut down any argument. I’m tired of this new-guard liberal political stance which shuts down all reality and data-based arguments against the “powers that be”. I’m a member of the old school where you call it as you see it; fight for what is right, and fight what is wrong. 

    I’ve lived here my entire life. I was a student of integration, spent my entire life in this district, put my child through this district. I’ve had friends and acquaintances die along the way. I have seen things you wouldn’t believe… and suffered from the same. It is none of your business what I know and what I have experienced but I can tell you this: Until you start to recognize the root of the problem in the Berkeley Unified School District and until you can adequately address some very serious problems regarding safety at the most basic levels, I will NEVER support an Alternative School Program in this district.

    Policies in this district are lacking in the fundamental ideologies of the Restorative Justice program, as set forth by the  U.S. government in 1992.  Restorative Justice remains an ideology that seems entirely workable and yet BUSD continues to pursue their own tact; including to date an interfaith program targeting young black males in a mentorship program that excludes the community and judicial components and thus lacks the holistic values of  Restorative Justice.

    BUSD is unable to acknowledge the level of problems it currently faces; it refuses to have a mandatory ID system for students; refuses to put uniforms on their security staff; refuses to take the costly guidance and training of the BPD in regards to the detention and disarming of armed students, and refuses to close the campus. 

    On the one hand BUSD wants to represent some loose semblance of the Berkeley that once was in the early 1970’s, and on the other hand uses the excuse that we are an Urban community. Which IS IT BUSD? You can’t have it both ways.

    So let’s end on this: I’m a NIMBY because I WAS ONCE ONE OF THOSE PROPOSED STUDENTS, and I would not have wanted the person I was in my own neighborhood today. 

    That’s a hard fact to argue with, isn’t it? 

    — Heather Wood

  36. As the moderator of the Berkeley Adult School Neighbors blog, I would like to reply to a few of the responses to this article.

    1) I find it unfortunate that people feel the need to call names (NIMBY) in order to score points on this issue. The plan for the Community School at the BAS was poorly conceived and the School Board knew it. At the BUSD School Board meeting on 5/11/11, Directors Hemphill, Wilson and Daniels voiced grave concerns about placing the program at the Adult School (http://berkeleyadultschoolneighbors.com/2011/05/20/video-busd-board-meeting-may-11-2011-community-day-school/). During that meeting they asked ACOE and/or BUSD staff to answer many questions about the program that were still unanswered at the time of Huyett’s announcement this weekend. Director Wilson even stated – in writing – that she was not prepared to endorse the Community School at the BAS until those questions were answered satisfactorily – http://berkeleyadultschoolneighbors.com/2011/06/09/busd-director-leah-wilsons-response-to-a-letter-to-busd-directors-wilson-hemphill-and-daniels/. And Dr. Robert Crose – ACOE Asst. Supt. and the man who would be implementing the program – felt that placing a community classroom on a site where other services are provided (like the Berkeley Adult School which serves students that are on probation) would be “sub-optimal”.

    2) It is important that people understand the program that was proposed within the proper context. Much of the rhetoric around this issue focuses on the fact that these are Berkeley kids and we need to give them the best we have to offer in order to ensure their success. I completely agree with this position and it is for this very reason that I was opposed to the ACOE proposition. If they were willing, the BUSD could provide Berkeley students with a Community Day School like the one in Oakland rather than asking the ACOE to provide a program for our students. Oakland Community Day School – http://ousdhs.ousd.k12.ca.us/communityday/site/default.asp – is located on a picturesque site up by Chabot Observatory. There are a multitude of services available to them, there is ample space for students to engage in various activities – including tending to the school garden – and students take a school bus to and from the site daily. None of these elements were part of the ACOE proposal. In fact, District 1 Councilwoman Linda Maio described the space for the community classroom in an email to the school board:

    “The room is large and has several offices along its far wall. As I
    understand it, these offices are where the 20 – 40 independent study
    (IS) students will be coming, once each week for a one hour meeting with
    an instructor. A large number of students, one at a time, will open
    the classroom door each day and walk through the classroom to get to an
    office. Each will leave the same way, through the classroom where,
    ostensibly, instruction is taking place.

    If indeed this is the case, that much traffic raises questions about
    the quality of an educational experience for the up to 15 students who
    are in the classroom during school hours. An environment of constant
    interruption can hardly contribute to focused study and learning.
    Again, if this is the plan, to invite a large number of IS students into
    the regular class environment, it is a configuration that would
    compromise the environment needed for true study and learning”

    Is this the best we can do for our students?? I firmly believe that Berkeley should and can take care of its own students and does not need to send them away to another neighborhood. I have been invited by BUSD Director Josh Daniels to discuss the idea of a robust and successful Community Day School – run by the BUSD – for Berkeley’s at-risk youth and I am excited to participate in the discussion. I hope going forward those Berkeley residents who have criticized our neighborhood will research this important issue and join us in putting their time, effort, and money where their mouth is.

  37. The area around the Berkeley Adult School has had relatively low crime and is reasonably safe for teens and others to walk around in during the daytime.  Yes, it just takes one mugging, assault, robbery or otherwise being seriously harassed to make someone (especially a tween or teen) feel uncomfortable walking around in their own neighborhood.  Guess who then becomes “imprisoned” in their own house more?  That’s right.  The law abiding, decent people of all stripes (this is a very diverse neighborhood) who live around the Berkeley Adult School.  We become jailed so that a violent, outside element can feel welcome.  Purposefully importing youths charged with serious and often violent crimes into a general peaceful and middle class neighborhood is asking for trouble.  So, yes, even one armed robbery, shooting, beating or rape perpetrated by one of these youths in this neighborhood would one too many for me.  If you, your wife or daughter were on the receiving end of one of these criminal acts, we all know you would be singing a different tune.

  38. I take it you don’t live in the neighborhood.  I do, and damn right I’m a NIMBY on this issue.  And yeah – I do care more about crime than the education of kids who had a chance to get an education and gave that chance up.  A motivated teen can still get a GED and doesn’t require this setting.

  39. FTA: 
    “Neighbors were also concerned that crime would increase if a group of high-risk kids came into the area each day.”

    Also, FTA:
    “This year 17 students have been expelled from the district.”

    Seriously, we are talking about such a small number of students that would even attend this school that it seems slightly ridiculous that neighbors are worried about crime escalation. Of the 17 kids expelled from BUSD this year, how many do you really expect to attempt to finish their education?  I am sure it would only be a handful, and that handful would likely be comprised of the type of expellee less likely to reoffend because choosing to pursue a diploma in such a situation shows at least a shred of personal integrity. I seriously can’t believe that neighbors in the area are making such a fuss. Its like their over paranoia about housing values clouds their judgment and morals. It is a sad world we live in where neighborhoods care more about property values and crime statistics than about the opportunities for wayward youth.

  40. Sad to be reminded that even liberal Berkeley isn’t safe from NIMBYism. 

    Also, if a student is expelled from the district, that includes BTech.  BTech is for student who haven’t been successful at BHigh or schools like it.  It is not for students who have been expelled from the district b/c it is a district school

  41. Francis writes:

    “The decision means that the students expelled from BUSD, whether for
    truancy, bad behavior, repeated suspensions, and violent acts like
    carrying a weapon to school, will have to do independent study or travel
    to another community school run by the ACOE, like the one in Hayward. This year 17 students have been expelled from the district.”

    This is not entirely accurate. Expelled students attend continuation programs, every district is mandated to maintain a continuation school. BUSD continuation is currently named B-Tech.  Hopefully the current principal of B-Tech is required to enrolled expelled Berkeley students, since the former principal often refused and was not accountable to the state mandate.

    Community day programs fill a different niche and come with supplemental funding.

    I hope the discussion of “guns on campus” REFOCUSES  to the primary issue, how does BUSD limit and respond to teens carrying guns on campus. All other issues while important do not directly relate to the threat of firearms at school, and have been discussed without much progress for years and years.

    How about getting one thing right for once, the policies directly related to critical incidents.
    USE restraints immediately when removing a student suspected of carrying a firearm from class, simple zip tie hand cuffs work well. 

    Anything less is unconscionable.

  42. Independent studies in advanced criminal activity = bad idea.  These kids need aggressive and consistent direct supervision.

  43. BUSD should open a cafe for wayward students to learn practical skills like how to make coffee drinks and food service.  The revenue would offset the costs.