Parents fight to keep American Indian schools open


An Alameda County Superior Court judge will decide Thursday if American Indian Model Schools can remain open. Their last day is supposed to be Thursday. Parents and administrators filed an application for a temporary restraining order after the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) revoked its charter after it found a number of irregularities.

"We're hoping that this restraining order, which is temporary, would prevent OUSD from doing anything from allowing us to move forward while this decision is still unresolved," explained American Indian School Director Nabeehah Shakir.

Parents have appealed to the Alameda County Board of Education, but board members have yet to decide. The three schools, located in Oakland, want to reopen on June 20 for their extended summer program but without a decision from the board, they cannot do that. That's why they are hoping a superior court judge will intervene.

That action was criticized Wednesday by OUSD. "Our board voted months ago and now it rests with the county. Again, American Indian Model Schools' leadership is trying to go outside of that with this petition and we'll comply with whatever the court decides," said OUSD spokesperson Troy Flint.

American Indian schools rank among the top in the nation. The founder, Ben Chavis, is no longer affiliated with the schools. He lives in North Carolina, but ABC7 News caught up with him Wednesday while in Oakland. "You can make any accusations. You don't have to prove them, but you shouldn't punish the kids," he said.

This uncertainty has affected the 1,200 students, teachers, and parents who are now forced to consider moving to other schools. "Plan B is moving because I don't want them to attend any other schools in the Oakland Unified School District," parent Sybil Roberts told ABC7 News.

Bernadette Deville says if they leave, they will go to a private school. "They looked at her and her grades and said, 'You are way ahead of the game,'" she said.

If the judge does not grant the restraining order, the school will not have its three-week summer school session. They may still open in late August if the Alameda County Board of Education allows them to. That decision is expected by July 18.

Copyright © 2024 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.