Parent protesters stand ground at Lakeview school

June 19, 2012 7:18:26 PM PDT
Dozens of parents are continuing to camp out with children at Lakeview Elementary School in Oakland's Grand Lake District, protesting Oakland Unified School District's plan to close it down.

Noel Gallo is one of two school board members who voted against closing Lakeview and four other Oakland schools. Tuesday, he assured parents and activists he would ask Superintendent Tony Smith to meet with them.

"Sitting down with the parents and restructuring this effort and reorganizing this effort, including saying that we changed our minds we are going to keep this school open in September," Gallo said.

His words brought some hope to the parents who refuse to leave the school. Their demands have not changed.

"He knows our demands; it's either reopen the school or resign and Noel Gallo's impression is that maybe two more board members might switch and make this happen and that's a start," parent protester Joel Velasquez said.

The school district's spokesperson says Smith and the board are open for any kind of discussion, but doubts any major changes will take place.

"They have endured eight months of protests, incredible hostility, name calling, threats and they still haven't decided to revisit the issue during this entire eight month period," Troy Flint said. "So why would they do so now?"

Last October, five of the seven board members voted to shut down five schools in order to save close to $2 million. Just last week, one of those schools was saved after the Alameda County Board of Education granted them a charter.

Parents of Lakeview decided to put pressure on the board by staging a sit-in. Since then, parents and volunteers have continued to use the school as a summer camp for a few kids.

Monday and again Tuesday, Oakland school police walked on campus encouraging everyone to leave. Parents say the police presence scares the children.

Velasquez has been here since Friday and says he will stand guard against any police action. The district insists they will have to go.

Both sides are willing to talk. At least one parent says that's a start.


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