Oakland school board brings back mentorship program after community outcry

"... it's actually really a mentorship and relationship building program that really supports students."
OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The Oakland school board has decided to reverse a decision to eliminate a mentoring program for young Black students in Oakland.

The OK Program mentors young students but recently the Oakland school board decided to eliminate the program as part of the board's "George Floyd Resolution" meant to remove police officers from Oakland schools.

"As a district we're trying to move away from a policing model of discipline," said Sam Davis, Oakland School Board Vice President.

Davis says he originally did not vote for the program but after hearing from community members last night changed his mind.

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"I thought it was just a few police officers coming on campus to talk to students about discipline issues but it's actually really a mentorship and relationship building program that really supports students in the ways that they need help," said Davis.

Oakland Police Department Sergeant Robert Smith is the program's Volunteer Executive Director.

"Without having a conversation with the OK program they decided to just vote it down because it involved police," said Smith.

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Bishop Bob Jackson of Oakland's Acts Full Gospel Church is the Ok Program's Oakland chapter President.

"There was a misconception that we were some kind of police organization that's operated by the police to get information on Black boys so we can incarcerate them I don't know what the ignorance was around that," said Jackson.

"When in fact we are the opposite we are a mentoring and leadership development model that focuses specifically on African American males between the ages of 12 and 18 years old," said Smith.

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If mentees maintain a 2.5 GPA or higher and maintain good citizenship Smith says they're taken on an excursion to celebrate their success.

The program has been reinstated for a year and will be considered again next year.

"We'll be here for as long as we can," said Smith.

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