Safety at Berkeley High
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so, what is the deal? is there a gun problem at berkeley high or not?
it seems to me from what i have seen/heard in the last few weeks that
the campus has become a VERY unsafe place. and an unsafe school cannot
teach our youth.
so, dear community... time to get tough on the ''learning environment''
on the berkeley high campus. metal detectors? i don't know how that
would work. also, it seems that violence is coming from kids that
really aren't in the community, not living in berkeley. i don't want to
exclude kids because they live elsewhere... but really, this is getting
a bit out of control.
one idea: the coaches, counselors and various aware teachers likely
know who some of the scoundrels are. so step up and do the right thing
Tired of Political Correctness
I had two daughters attend Berkeley High, graduating classes of '01
and '03. During their tenure there, the school newspaper, ''The
Jacket,'' ran a survey - ''What percentage of students have actually
seen a gun on campus?'' I remember being astounded and horrified at
the number - it was something like 75% of students had seen a gun at
B-High (though my daughters both insisted they never had.) That was
ten years ago; I can only imagine it has gotten worse since then. I
have a daughter starting high school this Fall and she will not be
attending Berkeley High until and unless they institute some more
safety measures and get serious about keeping guns off campus!
The online newspaper Berkeleyside (http://www.berkeleyside.com/) has
covered this quite extensively so you might want to check out the
articles on their site from the past few weeks. I thought the
comments from readers were particularly illuminating.
Also, I see that the Berkeley Voice had an article yesterday about a
school board discussion about this:
I don't have a student at BHS anymore so I don't know whether this
has been addressed on the BHS e-tree but it is possibly that more
news about this is available there too.
The response asserting that safety at Berkeley High has gotten worse
since 2002 is totally ridiculous--on what basis was that statement
made? I have a son finishing junior year at BHS, have been an active
parent volunteer, and have tutored in BHS English classrooms for the
past three years. My best friend had two children in BHS during
1995-2003. My son, a bit of an odd duck, and I have never experienced
any incidents raising serious safety concerns.
In fact, BHS had a difficult period with multiple principals and
safety issues in the late '90s' early 2000's followed by the past
seven years under Principal Slemp--not perfect but quite
transformational re stability. Principal Scuderi, the current
principal, appears to be doing an outstanding job--with much more
publicity and openess around issues of such as guns--that doesn't mean
there is an increase--it means the school is acknowledging and
engaging the community in how to deal with the issue. Yes, the
student body is extremely diverse, and the school, as does society,
has to address the insane fixation on guns to solve problems. My
older son went to an elite small private schools--very different--but
with serious problems also--lots of drug issues, and a pervasive
intensely materialistic culture (despite the school's rhetoric). And
the teachers my son has had at BHS are at least as inspiring, caring,
and engaged as the ones at the private school.
BHS is not perfect--but to obsess about the guns issue, or avoid it
for that reason is ridiculous.
real world solutions please
I was the recent poster asking about guns at BHS (Berkeley High
My question was not to call out BHS as a bad place... my point was to
obtain some perspective from other parents. Some excellent points
As mentioned, this isn't a BHS problem, but a larger societal. But,
there are guns on campus and that stinks. Are the guns coming from
berkeley or are the guns coming from??
I too, have had my own kids at BHS and also a local elite private high
school which had it's own issues.
I think BHS is a good place, tough, but overall good. Thanks to all
for perspective and context.
It takes a village to raise a child.
signed: one of the a villagers
I would like to hear responses from any parents that have experience with how BHS
handles issues of violence on campus. A very reliable friend of mine told me about an
incident that happened 2-3 weeks ago at BHS. My friend heard it directly from someone
who was there when it happened. The story is as follows: A freshman student at BHS
(who my friend knows well and describes as a gentle boy) walked out of class and without
warning was basically beat to a bloody pulp by a senior who was a complete stranger to
him. He had substantial injuries and was taken to the ER at Children's Hospital. The
police were called and the senior who committed the assault was taken to Juvenile Hall
and released later that day. The senior student was suspended from BHS, though
apparently not expelled. I recognize that I've only heard one version and the situation
may well be more complex. My questions are: How are students who have committed
violent acts on campus evaluated and by whom? How can parents get accurate
information when violence happens on campus? What can we do to ensure our kids
safety, and that learning remains the top priority? We have all heard of too many tragedies
when violent impulses are not kept in check and I would like to know that appropriate
guidelines are in place at BHS to keep all of our students safe and focused on learning. I
appreciate having a forum like Berkeley Parents Network where this can be discussed
intelligently. Thank you BPN.
A Concerned BHS Parent
''How are students who have committed
violent acts on campus evaluated and by whom?''
Initial response and action in cases of violence are, I believe,
handled by the Administration. Don't know if they actually do
any ''evaluation'', per se, other than to determine what immediate
action to take. However, I do know that at least some expulsions and
suspensions from school, for violence and other disruptive bahaviors,
are reviewed by the School Board. During the October 14th meeting
that I attended several cases were reviewed and voted on, though no
details of the cases were revealed to the public.
Recently Parents of Teens (a non BHS list serve) posted an anonymous
report on violence at Berkeley High. It was upsetting so here are the
facts. There was a fight on campus a month ago and one of the
students needed medical attention. The Health Center was there within
minutes to provide first aid and then the hurt boy's parents drove him
to Children's Hospital. He was home that evening (Friday) and in
school the following Monday. He suffered no major injuries. The
perpetrator was apprehended and was recommended for expulsion. The
proceedings are confidential.
The boy who was hurt was a member of CAS. While the information was
not sent to the whole school, the CAS families were briefed in detail
about the incident.
Fights are not common at Berkeley High but those that do happen are
not treated lightly. The consequences for the perpetrators are
serious. Finally the anonymous poster queried if there is a forum to
discuss issues of security. Yes, the School Safety Committee meets
regularly. Parents who are not regular members are welcome to attend.
In addition parents who have concerns about security and safety should
contact our school Safety Officer Billy Keys at
Our personal experience with violence at BHS has not been positive.
Our kid was threatened by a student, who was overheard by a teacher bragging about
bringing a gun to school, was seen carrying one on campus - and the school never
pursued the allegations. They were extremely reluctant to take action with this child, who
had a history of disruptive and violent behavior. We were kept very much in the dark
about what was being done, being given the implicit suggestion to keep our mouths shut.
Eventually, only after he refused to stop the threats, and then threatened a teacher, did the
school take it more seriously - he was suspended for two weeks. The school had no
protocol in handling it. BHS should have a zero tolerance policy for this behavior, and they
do not. Kids need to know what is expected of them. I see this latest incident as another wasted opportunity to
express a zero tolerance policy. BHS, you can do better, the kids need it and so do the rest of us.
The BHS PTSA website says in the right margin, ''Berkeley High officials
promise to report school crimes.'' This policy was approved last year by the SGC and BHS
should live up to it. Some of Janet's facts appear to be wrong. This was not
a fight; this was one boy lying in wait for the other to leave class. Kids saw this attack and
came home with stories. This is exactly why the school is supposed to use the e-tree to
post information, but instead they let us wonder and rumors spread. Janet said, ''The School Safety Committee
meets regularly.'' As of this posting, the school is still trying to determine which parents will serve on the
Safety Committee. We need this committee as a forum for discussion. BHS is not very violent but we need
information and a safety committee.
BHS needs to honor its commitments.
My daughter witnessed this unprovoked attack by a junior on this
freshman and was visibly shaken at the violence exhibited by this kid.
She is a sophomore and has never seen this kind of incident before.
It is unacceptable that this kind of violence occur
anywhere, especially in school. As parents, we should know about what
is going on at the school and be part of the solution.
Thank you so much for your post! I have been a parent member of the
Berkeley High Safety Committee for the past two years. Last year,
we drafted, and the School Governance Council adopted, language in
the school's Safety Plan that explicitly calls for the Berkeley High
community to be notified when a violent incident occurs. Ever since
your post, parent members have been working to determine why that
notice did not occur in this case. This year's Safety Committee
has not yet been convened by the School Governance Council, so it
cannot act as a formal body, but the parents will pursue this in the
meantime. Part of the reason the incident took so long to come to
our attention is because the families most directly affected, those
in the CAS small school, were notified immediately by one of the
lead teachers there. Predictably, this reduced the stress
associated with the event and slowed the spread of misinformation
about it. Unfortunately, since the rest of the community was not
notified, we were all vulnerable to finding out the version you
shared and being very upset. At last week's School Governance
Council meeting, parent reps raised the failure of notice issue, and
your post clearly gets the credit for resulting in last Friday's
notice from the school to both Parents of Teens and to the school's
etree about the incident. The Safety Committee reviews incident
data each year. Violent incidents on campus are rare. The problem
is that when they are not reported and explained, most parents have
no way to judge how large or small a problem exists. Your call for
a BHS version of ''Parents of Teens'' for parents to communicate
effectively with each other is on targe. I agreed to serve as this
year's PTSA secretary because I wanted to help make that happen.
I'm hoping to meet with the moderator of this web site to get advice
on what would be involved.
I wrote the original post about violence at BHS. I appreciate the responses I received.
Creating transparency is important so we can understand context & evaluate whether our
teens are safe. We need real information to do that. Thank you to Margit -- it's
understand the process & know that this is being actively dealt with on multiple levels.
understand that transparency can have the unfortunate effect of negative publicity for
which was not my intent. Our teen has had positive experiences at BHS, generally feels
and is happy with the social scene and most teachers. I have found Janet H. to be an
intelligent, hard working and well informed volunteer coordinator. Lastly, I am grateful
the parents who wrote the stories about how their teens have been affected by violence.
Airing those stories can help prevent more disturbing violence in the future.
A BHS Parent
I've seen much on this already on this forum, however, most of
the comments are very dated, so I wondered how the current
environment is and if measures have been taken to improve
safety. I am moving from Cincinnati to Berkeley by fall of
2010, and am concerned about my two sons attending BHS from what
I have been reading. For example, it seems unbelieveable that a
school would have such lax security that non-students could have
random access to the halls and be shaking down kids and/or
assualting them. Has anything improved as far as basic safety
is concerned at this school? Thanks.
I have two sons who graduated Berkeley High w/o serious incident
(2007 and 2009). There was a bit of hazing that they experienced
when they were freshmen. But in general it is much improved over
past years (or even when I attended 30 years ago). I think there
are other greater challenges given the size and learning disparities
amongst entering students. This can be polarizing and there is a
tendency for the school to forget about students who are not either
stars or academically challenged. But if your kids have some
initiative and can find their niche it can be a great real world
I don't have a good grasp on the timeline but more than 3 years ago the BHS
campus was reconfigured, there was some new construction, and the upshot is a
closed campus. All day you can only enter right past the front office.
There is a lot of security. There are few instances of people being on campus
who don't belong there. all parents who come have to sign in and wear a
nametag. Of course it is a large urban high school. Cell phones get stolen. NO
ONE leaves their pack lying around. You carry your stuff, lock it in a locker,
etc. I don't hear of many instances of physical harassment. I have seen a few
fights but they were amongst kids who were in conflict and I saw security
break it up quickly. I was on campus for the inauguration - all 3200 kids in
the theatre at one time. It was fantastic. No incidents. I know that the Safety Committee
works hard and wants to clear things up. I don't mind being there at all. Main point to you
- there are not strangers on campus, at least there are not supposed to be and they do a
pretty good job of that.
virtually no one is roaming the halls. if anyone is roaming, security is
called. my daughter has never felt unsafe there and she is very small (5', 100
lbs.) It is probably more threatening for a boy but I don't know, since I
don't have one. Will your older boy just be at BHS one year only? That might be
hard, but I am thinking socially. that would be hard for anyone.
Except for lunch time, Berkeley High has a closed campus. People
coming to the school while classes are in session need to sign in at
the front desk and get a visitor's badge. Non- Berkeley High
students are not allowed on campus. The school has safety officers
and I think they do a pretty good job keeping the school secure,
though the system isn't perfect. My youngest is a senior there this
year, and has never expressed feeling unsafe. Most students learn
how to read people and can avoid troublesome people or situations
that they notice. For example, if my daughter sees a fight brewing,
she goes the other direction (all schools have the occasional
fight). Any trouble on campus is usually stopped quickly.
On Monday, my daughter (a freshman at BHS) was accosted by
a group of teenagers at the bus stop after school. One
girl grabbed my daughter's iPod out of her hand and passed
it off to a boy while another girl distracted her by
yelling in her face. My daughter was with a large group 7
or 8 kids. When she turned to them for help, they refused
to get involved because, they told her, they didn't want
to ''get beat up.'' My daughter didn't recognize any of the
perpetrators, but her friends later told her that at least
one goes to BHS; some had even had things stolen by this
same group before but never reported it to the police for
fear of retaliation.
Granted, she shouldn't have taken her iPod to school, and
we could have chalked the whole thing up to lesson
learned, but we felt it was important for the police and
the school to know about this activity so we filed
reports. Now I'm wondering if all we've done is set up
our daughter for further bullying.
Does anyone else have experience with this kind of thing
In Dec. 2005, my son, then a senior at BHS was mugged by
four males in the stairway at lunch in Bldg. C. At first he
was not going to report it, but after immediately speaking
to his 4th period teacher, he did. The then prinicipal sort
of blew it off. I went in the next morning and was appalled
at the ''political correctness'' of not following up. (I feel
uncomfortable explaining this in this forum, but will
discuss with you if you call me @ 527-6020.) So we as
parents went further and contacted the Berkeley Police Dept.
and again, it was a joke and the onus was on us as parents
to persist. Finally, the dean at that time reviewed
videotapes of Bldg. C exits at the specific time of the
incident and identified the four perpetrators as
non-students. (I won't even begin to tell you what I felt
about four non students roaming the halls of BHS!)
So after the dean found the perpetrators on tape, she then
asked the Berkeley police to follow up with my son. So get
this, the police come to the class and call him out of class
with no respect for confidentiality or his safety! Nothing
like trying to protect BHS student who is trying to do the
Long story short, nothing was resolved, but I was very angry
how the administration and the police handled it. I think
and hope things have improved. My younger son just
graduated from BHS and I never heard of any problems for him.
That being said, we as parents must protect our children,
teachers and staff from this type of intimidation. How in
the world can your daughter return to school knowing that at
least one BHS student did this to her and her friends were
scared to intervene? There needs to be consequences.
Otherwise the intimidation won't stop. If nothing else,
school security and the police must be aware of this and be
more vigilant at times when this may be happening.
Good luck and thank heavens no one was hurt. In my son's
case, he tried to run and the kids slammed him against the
wall, but again he wasn't hurt. There have been incidents,
mostly I think with boys, where BHS students were badly
hurt, requiring medical treatment and/or hospitalization!
A concerned parent who has been there
Your daughter was assaulted and robbed of her property by a
group of kids, at least one of whom was a Berkeley High Student.
You did the right thing by reporting the crime to the Berkeley Police
Department. If a BHS student was involved, you should also
report it to the school, which seems to take such things a lot more
seriously if a police report has been filed.
Not reporting the crime spreads the message that iPods are fair
game to be stolen because they aren't valuable enough to prompt
a response... A better message might be that NOTHING is worth
stealing, because of the likelihood of being caught and punished.
Any of us who refuses to file a report, out of fear, is complicit in
the victimization of the NEXT kid who is bullied or robbed. Our safety
is in numbers.
My sympathies to your daughter -- who deserves better friends
than those who would stand by and watch her victimized. Perhaps
they should agree as a group how to behave next time, if there is a
Sorry about your daughter’s loss of property, but even more
sorry about the personal assault nature of the theft – glad
no one was hurt. My daughter suffered the loss of her
backpack and all the contents when she was a freshman – and
although the property value was minimal, the sense of
vulnerability made an impression on subsequent behavior. I
insisted on reporting it to the administration, just for the
record - she didn't know who stole the backpacks, it seemed
like a crime of opportunity. Nothing was found or returned,
and I told her if this the worst thing that happens to you
at BHS, we’ll take it. She became very aware of her
surroundings after that incident, and savvy about when it
was safe to leave your belongings (never), and when it was
smart to put stuff away and stand tall (even for a short
person) and walk with purpose. She goes to college in a
large city now and is better for the experience. I hope your
daughter can take it as an urban merit badge, dang.
Thank you to the parent and the student who reported this incident of
theft/aggression. I can't speak to your concerns of retaliation, but I would
take them up with Mr. Slemp, the Berkeley High Principal.Recently, I have
heard of several incidents of violence, especially in the downtown Berkeley
area, involving Berkeley High students. I think that it is very important for
students and for us as parents to speak up, file incident reports, speak to the
appropriate Berkeley High staff and to break the silence that seems to
surround this issue. The more we do this, the better our chances of
creating a more respectful school climate.
Our silence and fear in regards to bullying, theft, and aggression only
sends the wrong message to the perpetrators of these acts and does nothing to
mend a victim's wounds. And the troubled kids who think that they can
act in an aggressive manner need our attention, not our apathy or fear.
This issue was somewhat recently (in August) discussed on the Yahoo
listserve for Berkeley High School Academic Choice.
Best of luck to you and your daughter,
I was sorry about the student that was bullied at the bus
stop but I was worried that the responses make it seem as if
BHS was an out of control place. Just a few words on the
I had four children attend Berkeley High (from 1990 to 2005)
and am currently working part time as the Volunteer
Coordinator. Today the school is SIGNIFICANTLY calmer than
it was in the nineties. When my children first attended the
schools there were staircases where gamblers hung out, non
BHS students wandering on and off campus, bathrooms that
were not safe, and tension between student groups. Today I
see none of this. I walk in and out of student bathrooms all
over campus all the time, up and down any staircase I want,
and work at the front desk where I hear and see a lot. The
school feels calm and secure. I attribute this ambient to
two factors: personnel and buildings.
In the spring of 2004 the new administration building on the
corner of Allston Way and Milvia was inaugurated. The
building is magnificent. In addition, it completes the
perimeter which in essence has created a closed campus. It
is now possible to lock gates from 2nd period on and stop
non students from wandering on campus. Students walking the
halls must have large red passes clearly identifying them as
BHS students with hall passes. Non BHS students are not
allowed to wander unsupervised. Underage drop ins are not
allowed. Finally, Mr. Slemp, now in his fourth year as
principal, has been at the school long enough to set in
place safety policies and make sure they are implemented.
Our security officers know their job. Mr. Ramos is a really
good dean. Mr. Smith who runs the On Campus Intervention is
Statistics back up my impressions: Over the last four years
the number of students facing disciplinary action has fallen
each semester. In the fall of 05 there were 15 assaults, 220
disruptions. In the fall of 2006 there were 3 assaults, and
147 disruptions. Now keep in mind that Berkeley is a VERY
large school. There are 3,200 students. The number of
discipline problems is very small.
These are the problems I DO see. For one, the school has
done such a good job handling discipline and safety some
fighting has been pushed off campus. The school safety
officers are currently working with the police and merchants
to do a better job making sure the downtown area is a safe
place. The biggest problem however is thievery. Many
students lose items from their backpacks—especially freshmen
who arrive without street smarts. During the first fire
drill any number of kids walked away from their backpacks
only to come back and find they had been rifled through.
The librarian just had her wallet lifted as did an office
worker. It always makes me sad but kids (and grownups) do
learn to watch their stuff and leave easily lift able items
Janet - Thanks for taking the time to post your valuable
perspective, the statistics and other facts about berkeley
high safety and about off-campus efforts. It is so good to
hear this news. It is important that someone gets this
info out (on a regular basis) to parents of junioir high
and elementary school kids if BUSD wants kids to stay in or
move back to public school. Otherwise, all we hear about
are the bad things. Perhaps Slencamp and/or Lawrence want
to down-play bad incidents on and around campus and thus
don't tell the broader community about progress and new
efforts with the BPD, if so...all that us parents of
younger kids will hear about is the bad stuff. Hmmm.
Parents will send their academic kids to Berkeley High, cuz
they know they will likely do very well academically - even
with BHS'wide range of achievement levels; but they WON'T
send them there if their kids won't be safe (i'm not even
talking about typical urban theft of stuff from unattended
back packs and purses). Anyway, thanks Janet for taking
the lead on community outreach and telling us for the most
part that kids are safe and that BUSD and BPD are working
on off-campus issues. BUSD should pay you for this, cuz no
one else is doing that job!
Mom of a young BUSD teen
What advice would you give to a 13 year old girl entering Berkeley
High on how to stay safe on and around campus? Would like to
hear from other parents of teens about their daughters'
My daughter just finished her freshman year at BHS!! Whew!! I'm not sure
what you mean by staying safe? Is she afraid of older kids picking on her?
Being harassed by the crazies on Shattuck? These are things that can happen,
but I'm assuming that she is going in with friends and and they usually travel
in a pack. I didn't hear any reports from my daughter being hasseled by older
kids. They pretty much ignore the freshman. I think she will learn how to
handle herself after a while. What people on Shattuck to stay away from,
where she's comfortable hanging out, etc. It takes several months to adjust to
the largeness of the school, being jostled in the halls (not on purpose), and
figuring out the fastest routes to her classes. I coached my daughter to keep
her head up, eye's open, walk with a purpose, and know what's happening
around you. We both had some adjustments to make as far as the open
campus. They can leave school for lunch. It's an amazing freedom for most
kids who didn't have that in the Berkeley public middle schools. Mostly
everyone goes to Shattuck Ave or the park (btw, they don't smoke pot in the
park, it's too close to school). The problem is getting back to school on time
for 4th period. That was a BIG problem in the begining of the year, but slowly
she got it through her pretty head that the school calls home for every tardy
and absence and I would hear about it. I made several trips to the attendance
office to have her attendance report printed out to figure what classes she
was absent or tardy for (the attendance people are VERY nice). I never felt she
was unsafe as far as being beat up or hurt in anyway. But the best way to
insure against that is to have friends and to be respectful to others. There are
security guards on campus, and during lunch there are other administrators
around. There are evening events at the theater throughout the year, which a
lot of kids want to go to with thier friends, just be sure to be there when it's
over to pick her and the friends up. Unless she's been a cloistered child up
until now, she will be fine.
made it through 9th grade!!
I have a daughter beginning BHS as a 9th grader next fall. I have been told
by two "credible" sources that there is a particular hallway on the BHS
campus where white kids are not welcome and have been jumped if they stray
there. Would someone please comment? Please don't use my name.
RE: THE PROVERBIAL HALLWAY
I've got two whiter than white children at BHS, and one African
American daughter there. I've heard from ignorant people about the
"hordes of children from Richmond and Oakland" come to Berkeley so
that they can flunk out and terrorize their classmates and,
etc. etc. Berkeley High is an active, supportive school that offers a
lot to different kinds of students, but offlimits hallways ain't part
of it. There is some racial tension from time to time, as there is
anytime that ignorant racial stereotyping is alive and present, but
the school and all of its people deal with it. I'd love to know who
the "credible" sources of this balderdash are. There's lots to
criticize BHS about and lots that needs to be done, but to spread
garbage like this is sad and silly. KC
Hi. I read your email in "Parents of Teens" that said it isn't
really dangerous at BHS-- that this is just balderdash. My
daughter is going to be at BHS next year, so I am interested in
this issue. I really hope you're right, but I have heard parents say
that their kids have been "egged" and "stuffed" (into trashcans),
and the Principal and Vice-Principal told the 8th grade parents
at several different presentations I attended that there were
emergency room-level injuries during spirit week. A BHS parent
told me that his daughter's boyfriend was attacked and was badly
hurt (his head was cut open and required stitches).in front of the school.
A friend of mine discovered a hallway at the school where there
were broken bottles, used condoms, and a heavy smell of
marijuana. The administration didn't know about the area, but
were grateful to be told, and are now trying to deal with cleaning
up this area as well as trying to work with parents to make the
school safer. I'm grateful to them for taking action. It seems to
me that if this is "garbage", then they might be wasting their time.
But if there is any truth to it, I think you'll agree that it's worth
their time and ours to make sure the high school is safe for all
students. It sounds like your kids haven't experienced any violence
at BHS. That's great, and I hope we don't either. But I feel better
about my kid being there knowing that steps are being taken
to ensure that BHS is a safe campus for all.
"There's lots to criticize BHS about and lots that needs to be done,
but to spread garbage like this is sad and silly."
What is sad and silly is that 5 students were beaten at Berkeley High
because they were white. What is sad and silly is that even though I
saw a drug deal on campus in the Channing corridor the Chief of the
Berkeley Police department states there is absolutely nothing he can
do. What is sad and silly is that during a meeting about the
renovations to the Old Gym (http://www.busduse.org/oldgym/) one of the
teachers made the statement that the alley way between the Donahue Gym
and the old gym is not safe and even the security guards will not go
there. What is sad and silly is that there are students out of class
and no one -NO ONE- is telling them they need to be in class. What is
sad and silly is that when I walked around campus on April 5th I only
saw security near the administration building until we asked them to
come over and talk to the students out of class. What is sad and silly
is that someone think it is punitive punishment for the school to
require a meeting with a parent after there has been 6 unexcused
absences. What is sad and silly is that this community is doing a
great disservice to its students in the name of racial equity. What is
sad and silly is that the Berkeley community is sticking its
proverbial head in the sand. Angela
From the BHS Students' Daily Bulletin April 24:
"Dear Parents, Students, and Staff,
We are aware of the recent assaults on campus. We are shocked and
dismayed, but we will put a halt to what is taking place. Perpetrators
are being arrested and prosecuted. The school district will be
expelling these students. Additional Police Officers and Security
Officers will be on campus between now and the end of the school year.
In the meantime, please report any suspicious behavior to any adult on
campus. Additionally, there will be assemblies dealing with this issue
starting next week."
Kudos to Angela and her letter regarding the many issues around
security/truancy/race/violence at Berkeley High. I've written letters
regarding some of these issues and have had it suggested to me (by the
keepers of the BHS newsletter) that I refrain from mentioning race in
discussing the incidents of truancy, vandalism, drug taking, etc. that I've
witnessed in the campus vicinity. I've called the Berkeley Police Dept.
I've called Berkeley High's on-campus security.....all to no avail. Thank
you, Angela, for calling attention to these very important issues. Perhaps
if we keep pressing, those in positions to take some positive action, will
finally realize the disservice that's being done to our community.
Report on April 27 meeting between BUSD and City on BHS Safety:
I would like to add a bit of observation to the discussion of the conditions
at Berkeley High School.
I too have been reading about the "dangerous halls" and "disgusting
grounds", so I decided to see for myself. I have to be honest, as a 35 yr
resident of Berkeley and BHS graduate, I was truly disappointed to see the
conditions under which our kids have to pursue their education in academics
and life. The atmosphere is not pleasant, and the attitude is meaner, but
there is still good work going on in spite of the conditions.
There are far too many kids roaming the halls and grounds during class
times, and it is difficult to determine which kids are students and which
have come onto campus through the numerous un-monitored entrances. Truancy
is a huge problem, but so is scheduling. When I've asked kids why they were
not in class at various times, they say they have a "hole" in their
schedule. So why don't they fill it, well they are teens, and a hole means
The attitude of the parents and administrators needs to change about how to
"guide" these potentially great kids, and not just "let it happen", because
this is what you get.
Finally, I would like to say, IF YOU ARE REALLY CONCERNED, please take an
hour out of your day and come down to the campus and join the effort of the
Parents and Guardians on Campus to help "keep an eye on things". Believe me,
every teacher I have encountered is very grateful that parents are getting
involved. After all, isn't it more effective to start a conversation off
with, "I've seen", rather than, "I've heard". Thanks for listening, I hope
Yesterday I was told something that was very disturbing. A young man at BHS
said that when he intervened in a fight on campus, suggesting the older kid
pick on someone his own size and age, the older kid picked up his shirt and
revealed a gun in his pants. Could this be true? Are there metal detectors?
I just want to throw this out there: no one is disputing that there
are problems with rough kids at BHS. It's a big urban school and it
has the same kinds of problems other big urban schools have. I do
think that problems like truancy and loitering and assault deserve our
attention and action. But the original question was whether there is
a particular hallway at BHS that white kids can't go in. So far we
haven't heard from anyone that there is such a hallway, and several
people have written in to dispute it. There is a history of non-BHS
parents "hearing things" about BHS that either worry them about their
child's safety or turn them off to BHS altogether. Often the "things"
are not true, or they are greatly exaggerated, or they are incidents
that happened a long time ago. The great majority of students at BHS
never experience any kind of violent behavior at school. It is a pity
for Berkeley parents to not even consider BHS because of unfounded
rumors and diehard exaggerations, a pity for them and a pity for us.
So let's try to keep this discussion in perspective.
--- a BHS parent
I have heard that quite a few kids have been "jumped" and robbed of
their wallets the past few weeks while in various hallways at Berkeley
High. This has got to stop. Has anyone else heard about this? Is
anything being done? Also heard a group boxed a kid (placed a box over
a kids head) while he was in the stairwell and beat him up. This is an
outrage. Students are told to always be with a friend or a group, but
this is not always possible. Do other parents have stories? My son was
jumped recently by a group of students right after school, his wallet
taken. There was no security around. We reported this to the
school. But then I heard it has happened to quite a few students. If
this is so, then this is insanity. The school must crack down on this
and BHS must become a safer place to be. I don't remember feeling
this way last year, and last year was incredibly tumultuous with all
the fires and arson going on. I feel in a way it's gotten worse
instead of better, or else I'm more aware of it. I don't know but I
don't like it. Anonymous
Editor Note: since the above letter was received, BHS Principal
Frank Lynch has sent out informationals about this on the BHS e-tree.
To the BHS parent who thinks that the violence issue at Berkeley High
needs to be put into perspective, consider this:
About ten days ago, my son entered the second floor H building hallway
and saw the passageway "blocked" by twelve boys. Realizing that he
could not pass through them, he walked casually up to two boys whom he
did know who were standing close to the group of twelve. He said
hello to one of the two boys, talked for a minute or two, and then
stood with both of them, since he felt "safer" with them than alone.
Suddenly, he told me, the larger group got excited and a boy about
6'2" raised his hand high in the air. Then, without warning, the boy
with the arm raised turned 90 degrees to the boy my son had been
talking to, and swiftly, powerfully, smashed his fist into the boy's
jaw. My son said that he could hear this boy's jaw crack as he fell
to the ground. The larger group of boys stood over him as he lay on
the floor, laughed at him, called him names and then walked away. The
boy got up, his nose bleeding, and walked down the hallway in a daze.
A teacher came along who helped him.
A week later when my son saw the boy who had been hit, the boy asked
my son if he knew who hit him and why. The group who did it could not
None of the hallways at Berkeley High are safe. The violence is random
and perpetrators go unpunished. There are thugs who go to school every
day to prey on unsuspecting "targets" who don't know who hit them or
why. Most students don't report being robbed, mugged or threatened
because they are afraid. And they have reason to be.
Let's put this into perspective, BHS parent, and others who think
because their kid hasn't been victimized, that the safety issue has
been overblown. Last year it was fires; this year it is unwarranted
assaults. Berkeley High School IS unsafe. Thirty two hundred
students are crammed onto this campus and there are only "three escape
routes" and no abundance of security. I tell people who ask me
about Berkeley High that this safety issue is not rumor. It's real.
And it needs to be addressed. NOW.
Another Berkeley Parent
From: Shirley Issel
(Shirley Issel is on the Berkeley School Board)
I would like to post this in the discussion section in response to parents concerns
about violence at BHS
From: "Laura Menard"
Superintendent Steve Goldstone and Principal Frank Lynch have been meeting
with City Manager Weldon Rucker, Mayor Shirley Dean and the BPD Youth Services
to develop practices and procedures to meet security needs and develop truancy
solutions. Frank Lynch explained his intentions to promote a respectful, safe
learning environment with this extraordinary mutual support.
Some of the remedies being implemented are: revised security plan, increased
personnel, BPD supported training for safety officers, new vests identifying
BHS Safety officers, improved student identification cards in the fall and
increased reporting practices. When students who have experienced or witness
violence report the incident to Principal Frank Lynch, security manager Barry
Wiggan and/or the police youth services division, consequences can be given to
Walk your Talk
We have been walking the campus in pairs or threesomes. When we
encounter a problem, we call BHS Safety Officers via radios. Currently
we only have a handful of folks, we need more. Primarily after lunch,
noon 3:00. You can volunteer by calling Laura Menard 849-4319 or Frank
Lynch 644-4567. Drop-in is fine, red windbreakers and radios are
available from Frank Lynch.
From: BUSD Public Information Officer
Mayor Dean is greatly concerned about the violence and physical assaults at
the High School. She is working with the City Manager and the School
District to take immediate steps to ensure the safety of all students at
Berkeley High School. One piece of her efforts to solve the problems at the
High School is the attached item that she has submitted to the City Council,
for consideration on Tuesday, May 8th. The Mayor believes that all students
should be in class between 2nd and 6th periods. Students should not be
roaming campus, the building hallways or the Civic Center Park. The Mayor
requests that parents who support her suggestion to the School District and
who want the violence ended at the High School should come to the City
Council and voice their concerns. There is a 30 minute public comment
period at the BEGINNING of the Council meeting at 7 p.m. Ten cards are
selected at random from those submitted by people wishing to address the
Council. If you are not able to come to the meeting, you can send an e-mail
to the Mayor and Council members by directing it to email@example.com
The City Clerk will distribute your message to the Mayor and the
Maintaining a parent presence on campus all day long for the remaining
weeks of school is the principal's number one priority at this time for
parent involvement. At the General PTSA Meeting on May 1, Principal Lynch
asked that every parent, guardian, grandparent, and significant adult in
our children's lives take time to walk on campus. He described a campus
situation that has become "critical" and needs all of our immediate
To help out, please go to the front desk of the administration portable any
time between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. You will be given a red jacket and be
sent to walk about the campus in pairs. Drop in is fine, but you may also
sign up in advance by calling Principal Frank Lynch at 644-4567.
> Most students don't report being robbed, mugged or threatened
> because they are afraid. And they have reason to be.
This is true -- my son sees the people who jumped him almost everyday at
BHS. They are apparently students at the school. He is reluctant to
report them, but has described them to security. What is needed but very
hard to accomplish is a way to identify these people without fear ot
being "discovered" or sought out by those committing the crimes -- how do
we accomplish this and insure our kid's safety?
Kids are jumped or robbed at all hours of the day on and off campus --
Last year one of my son's friends was robbed as he was walking to lunch
with a group of friends -- he disappeared for 10 minutes and came up to
his group and said "I was just robbed" -- this is broad daylight at lunch
time near Shattuck Avenue -- lots of people around.
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