Parents stage sit-in to protest school closure


Four Oakland schools will not reopen next year, but parents and teachers at Lakeview Elementary say they're not leaving and plan on setting up tents and staying on school grounds all night to protest the closures.

Pam Chin said goodbye to one of her students Friday. Lakeview Elementary, the school where Chin taught for 25 years, is now officially closed.

She spent the afternoon packing 25 years worth of memories. "I am actually retiring early. I would have taught for another two or three years, but it was a hard year," she said.

Lloyd Revels was the crossing guard at the school. He spent 14 years at Lakeview. It's just one of those days that looks "like my home has been taken away," he said.

Since the school board voted to close Lakeview, parents have held several heated protests. They decided Friday to have a rally at the school and plan to stay on campus indefinitely.

"We're going to stay here as long as is needed. What we want to do is create a forum for parents and teachers to have a voice. Right now we don't, we don't feel empowered," said parent Joel Velasquez.

The school district says it will allow them to stay for the time being.

In all, the school board voted last October to close five schools in an effort to save money. The district based its decision on declining enrollment and low test scores.

"Although this is a tough decision, it's one that we need to make for the long term, overall benefit of the school district," said Troy Flint of the Oakland Unified School District.

But one of the schools, Lazear Elementary, was spared. On Thursday the Alameda County Board of Education allowed the school to become a charter.

Still, despite that last-minute decision, some Lakeview parents feel it's time to give up. "I mean it would be great but they already had their plan before we were involved. They already made their plan," said parent Tiesha Allen.

A spokesperson for the school district said he understands the frustration of the parents and the teachers. The school district does not plan to force the parents from school grounds yet, but if the protest continues, district officials may have to take a different course of action.

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