Illegal BUSD Enrollment
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Illegal BUSD Enrollment
We have a bully at our elementary school. The behavior has been getting
increasingly worse over the last three years, progressing from verbal,
relational bullying (rumor spreading, name calling, ridicule, exclusion from
groups and games, lunchroom demands) to now physical bullying. More than one
child has suffered victimization. Last year teachers were alerted and the
behavior improved briefly, but has been much worse again this year. The
administration and counselors are now involved. The parents of the bully are
professional and relatively affluent, but they are busy with
careers, and are really not involved at school. The child who
bullies spends a lot of time in after-school care.
Now, here's the moral dilemma: It appears that this family does not live in
Berkeley. Given the drain on school resources, lack of involvement of the
parents, and ongoing problems being created for other students and
families--does it make sense to alert the administration to the fact that they
may not be legally enrolled? I should also mention that they are taking up an
English-speaking spot in the popular Spanish Immersion program.
I've read all the old posts about this illegal enrollment issue and see that
the preponderance of voices is on the side of keeping mum (''karma'' is
cited)--but isn't this set of circumstances extenuating? Should
residency/enrollment status be raised as a factor in dealing with the bullying
issue? What about just talking it over confidentially with the school
administration? The parents of the victim kids are conflicted over this.
(signed) BUSD Bystander/Karmic Dummy
I would SO report! This is different. You're not reporting b/c they're
''cheating'' by not being resident, instead you're using the loophole to
take care of a menace! Perfect.
I had a similar moral dilemma when one of my neighbors (who was
undocumented) was using heroin, abusing alcohol, molesting his teenage
daughter (or so I heard from another neighbor, well after the fact), and
yelling at (and hitting?) his wife and kids. I considered reporting him to
INS (CPS had already done nothing, as you can imagine), simply to get rid of
this awful man. I felt similarly torn. (Although now, many years later, it
seems like a no-brainer). I didn't end up needing to, though. He kept
getting deported all on his own! And then (finally!) he was gone for good.
I say, use this *tool* to get rid of this awful bully! It's a means to an
end. Your karma will be GOOD karma, because you'll be helping many children
out by doing this.
First, your child's experience mirrors ours (in Albany), although a decade
ago. Bully girl in elementary school, clueless parents (also
professionals--father is a psychologist!--who blamed others rather than
taking a closer look at their own bully daughter). I am sure many parents
will know how you feel and will sympathize with you.
1. If this child does not live in Berkeley, do not assume that the family
lied to get in. The child could be at the school on a legal transfer,
especially if a parent works in Berkeley.
2. In any school, whether it be for bullying, cheating, doing something
illegal...when a child is kicked out, they have to go SOMEWHERE. So, what
we are doing is transferring our ''problem'' to someone else; we are
putting off the problem child onto some other school and some other
families. I don't think this is a very successful or a very fair solution,
3. You are right to talk to the administration. This child needs help, and
the parents need to check back in. The notorious bully girl from Albany
(everyone knew her name, and the parents STILL did not acknowledge that
there was a problem) had some intervention from teachers and admin, but not
enough. I agree with you that there needs to be serious intervention and
that there needs to be consequences for the negative and harmful behavior.
But, pushing this problem onto other families in other districts does not
seem like the answer.
Been there, too
I would blow the whistle on them.
Bullying has to end
There is no harm in alerting BUSD administrators to the possibility that
this family may not be legally enrolled in the school district. It seems you
have already tried other ways for resolving this problem, and the situation
is getting worse.
As for the karma issue, ask yourself who is in the moral wrong here? Parents
who lie about their residency status to enroll their children illegally in a
school district cannot claim the moral high ground. Their karma is to be
discovered and sent back to their own school district because they are
dishonest. This isn't a murky situation, and people who tell you to look the
other way about this issue are contributing to the errosion of community
standards by encouraging dishonesty.
Cheaters Shouldn't Prosper
I think you can let the principal know but I am not sure if it should be
anonymous - that seems to be more of the ethical question to me. I am not in
Berkeley but in Alameda and by some folks accounting (not sure of accuracy)
if all those who did not live here did not somehow get into the schools we'd
have significantly less crowding and budget issues. Given the state of
schools, I think it's a big deal to get into a school where you are not
paying for it (ie thru taxes). I do not think they will be asked to leave
mid-year but you may return to school without the problem. And I think given
the situation, that makes it even more of an issue. And I can totally
understand the parents of the kids who have been bullied not wanting to do
it. Keep in mind the principal may already know and not be dealing with it
for some other reason. perhaps a group of parents can jointly let the proper
authorities know - and that way it's not just one family. Good luck - it is
a tough situation.
I would not out this family. I expect that Berkeley has more resources to
help this child, and the bullied children, than the district that he/she
would be booted back to. Although they appear affluent, it is so hard to
know the family's financial and emotional status -- they could be very
stressed and struggling. Every child deserves a good education, whether or
not the family can afford to buy or rent in a good school zone. There are
bullies in all schools, and this needs to be dealt with, for the long-term,
for our society. Removal from the BUSD is not appropriate. However, it
seems that removal from Spanish immersion could be an appropriate school
response -- academic demands are higher and there is less space for behavior
I don't have a problem in general with kids from out of the district
attending BUSD schools. BUT kids should not have to endure bullying. I
strongly believe that you would be doing the right thing by reporting this
child to the BUSD administration. Actually I was in the exact same
situation a few years ago and I did report the kid to BUSD. It took some
prodding, but they finally followed up and the kid had to leave the
district. The family had the funds to put this child directly into a
private school, so I didn't feel guilty on any fronts. Please stand up for
the kids being bullied.
It is my understanding that there is an 'unwritten' moral code that exists
that says that kids who are 'illegal aliens' (aka, kids attending berkely
schools whose parents do not reside in berkeley) are somewhere between
welcomed and tolerated AS LONG AS they do not make nuisances of themselves.
Basically, if they are enjoying the education, and being a productive member
of the community, they should stay, because we all benefit from one anothers
presence, and, really, everyone just wants the best for their kids.
But once you are the source of trouble and expense and much administrative
time, angst and worry-- well, if you didn't break any 'written' code, you
sure as hell broke the unwritten code. Where I grew up everyone said 'don't
ever cause trouble so that they have to send a letter home (to the address
that doesn't exist)'
Tell the principal that they are out of district (they might have an
interdistrict transfer--unlikely, but possible) and let the principal know
that you are also sending the same email to the school district.
All for raising all kids (but only dealing with Berkeley's poorly behaved
Remember: although this child is a bully, this bully is still a child !
Clearly, these bully/parents are bullying a whole school with a false social
lie that ''telling'' is somehow wrong ! Don't be fooled: doing what is
honorable and truthful is always right !
It is not possible that this bully/child does not know his bully/parents are
cheating the school system.
Who knows what else these bully/parents are cheating about ?
Knowing that his bully/parents are cheating and seeing, demonstrated, again
and again, every day, that no person has been willing to stand up for
morality and honesty, is teaching this bully/child that cheating is ''OK.''
Worse, what you parents are allowing is teaching this bully/child that there
is no safe structure that he can depend on, that there is no person who
cares enough about him to TELL THE TRUTH.
Unless and until SOMEONE makes clear to the bully/child that there are
consequences to choices everyone makes (demonstrated when his bully/parents
have to ''face the music''), this bully/child will continue on a path toward
a very sad future !
''Telling'' will HELP this sad confused bully/child !
Do what's right ! For this child's sake !
I'm sorry to hear that your child is being bullied.
BUSD has some serious, self-inflicted problems in this area.
On one hand, District policy concerning _legal_ out-of-district transfer
students is very clear: they must meet behavioral, academic, and attendance
standards or they will lose the privilege of the transfer permit, which must
be renewed annually.
For fraudulently enrolled students, there is no such expectation because the
District participates in the fiction that these kids are Berkeley students
in order to boost enrollment or for other ''social justice'' reasons (actual
justice not guaranteed).
Parents who have tried to report fraudulently enrolled students, which is
encouraged in other East Bay Districts and in San Francisco, have been
rebuffed by the District.
With respect to the TWI programs, some parents have speculated that BUSD may
be ''hiding'' a higher % of discipline problems at those schools ''since no
one questions lower performance scores at a school where so many students'
first language is not English.'' http://tinyurl.com/6lknkam In some cases,
the District uses ''behavioral trades'' to handle discipline problems that
should properly have triggered expulsion: http://tinyurl.com/7uf5y8o
Back in November, BUSD sought input on a draft anti-bullying policy that
proposed spending $$ to counsel the bully. I asked them to include
enrollment bed checks to verify that bullies are really BUSD's problem
before we make those expenditures: http://tinyurl.com/7v9gobo I am not
holding my breath -- the Board has already ignored repeated requests for an
agenda item on enrollment fraud (we have a petition with remedies and many
signatures), even though such requests must be granted per state law.
So, what can you do?
Join the Berkeley Accountable Schools Project: http://tinyurl.com/7cg5wxz
Sign our petition: http://tinyurl.com/75bp99o
Contact the staff member who circulated the anti-bullying policy draft and
press her for ideas. (follow link above for her name)
Contact Francsisco Martinez in Admissions and ask him to investigate a case
of enrollment fraud.
Start calling Board members or use public comment at a board meeting to make
yourself heard. Squeaky wheels get the grease!
Go for it.
As a previous poster noted, there are behavioral criteria for being in the BUSD
schools, and most have stringent anti-bullying programs in place. You document,
document, document (and if this child is as much of a menace as you describe, it'll
be easy), you bring it to the teacher, principal and so on up the line.
Intercurrently, bring it to the BUSD attendance/enrollment dept, who are
historically very wishy-washy about this issue, but who recently have been slapped
around enough by the local media to finally sit up and take notice and might even
move on it!
Im sorry that this obviously troubled kid has clueless parents (and it's almost
always true, regardless of race or class or legal residence), but your child has a
right to an education free of being bullied and the schoool has a responsibility to
make sure that this is the case. This is NOT a karmic issue.
My daughter was bullied and i swung into action for her, and surprise! The parents
thought the kids should 'ummmm...y know, work it owt themselves...''-PUT THE BONG
DOWN AND PARENT! That's why it's best to go thru the school system, which should
get the parents' attention, whether their little snowflake is in the district
legally or not.
-do the right thing.
I wanted to follow up on my post last week. I knew of a bully Albany girl (now
grown and living in a different city); she was not ever kicked out. So, not
entirely the same, but still, this family has the benefit of hindsight. I still know
the family and asked the mom of this now grown child what SHE thought of the post.
She said that her family had been going through so much at the time, having her
daughter move schools would have been horrible for everyone. She did not recognize
that her daughter was a bully, and only now, looking back, can she see what was
happening and what others were thinking. She said that what would have helped was
if the school had worked with her AND had given her assistance with the school
''girl'' dynamics. Even with her and her husband working in the field of psychiatry,
neither of them could recognize their own daughter's troubles in school. It is very
difficult to get parents on board if they do not recognize their child's actions
when they are not around.
I think it is harsh to kick a troubled child out of school. Can you try talking to
the school and forcing them into action before taking any action yourself in terms
of contacting the district? It is hard for families to acknowledge that their kid
is a bully. I would leave that as a last resort, and try to see if the child can
get some help first (maybe don't give the parents a choice.). Only then, would I
contact the district.
I was horrified to see the responses from this post. These two issues should be
completely separate, and yes, it is immoral to mix the two (which is what you were
sensing in the first place), and now you have BPN members helping to justify what
you knew was not right in the first place.
Bullying is not okay and should be addressed (regardless of a child's zip codes).
This ''code'' that ''they can stay in our schools unless they become a nuisance'' is
horrifying and disgusting.
-all children deserve love
To the OP,
A BASP member reminded me that the Berkeley Patch ran an article on BUSD's request
for comments on the anti-bullying policy, citing our call for residency
There was also a poll, in which 60 out of 62 respondents said they favored sending
out-of-district bullies to their home districts. Again, note that current policy
calls for transfer permit revocation when a legal transfer is a behavior, academic,
or attendance problem.
-Berkeley Accountable Schools Project Editor
Well, the bitter side of me says TELL; the moral side of me says DON'T TELL.
Here is our reality (yours and mine): There is that one bully -- that one notorious
kid that EVERY parent knows about, that EVERY teacher knows about, that EVERYONE
talks about -- in every grade level in every school in every district. No matter
where you go, and you say, ''I have a child at X school in X grade,'' the response
is, ''OMG! Do you know a kid named X?'' So, IF this child is in the district
illegally, and IF the district/school is willing to kick them out, there is another
bully to take his or her place. My child has attended schools in Albany and in
Berkeley, as well a private school. In each school, we were pulled aside the first
week of school and warned by other parents about THAT kid, the bully. Public or
Private, Albany or Berkeley...there is a bully in every grade. So, what happens next
year, when your child encounters the next bully, and you can't kick that one out? I
suppose this is a long way of saying that although I would lean towards telling,
there is no guarantee that the school will kick the family out. Many districts or
schools will work with a family once they find out their status, or request
paperwork, or something. You may not get what you want. Better to find a way to help
your child and help the bully, because next year, MY kid might be in that bully's
class, and *I* will have to deal with it!
-No shortage of bullies
Reading responses to what has been defined as a ''moral question'' of
whether-or-not to speak out about a bully illegally registered in a Berkeley
school where the bully must know his/her parents have lied to get him/her into
a Berkeley school.
As far back as research into how a human mind works, research has demonstrated
that people get stressed and people ''do bad things'' when there are no rules
and/or rules are not clearly defined and fairly enforced. For as long as
''psychology''or ''psychiatry'' have existed, published peer-reviewed research
has repeatedly demonstrated that a child cannot feel safe when there are no
rules that the child can count on, simple rules, simple rules clearly defined,
simple rules clearly defined that are enforced the same way every time.
By now, it is no surprise to anyone that simple rules, enforced the same way
every time make for both a safe-feeling society and an actually safe society.
(The same holds true for all ''trainable'' beings - dogs - cats - monkeys -
mice - dolphins - lab rats - honey bees - etc.)
Not having a clearly defined structure for behaviors makes people ''crazy'' !
So, maybe the real ''moral question'' is: Is BUSD complicit in creating this
child to behave as a bully in Berkeley schools (1) by not having simple rules
clearly documented, and (2) by not enforcing those simple rules clearly
documented, again and again, exactly the same way for all students ?
I'm looking for help and any suggestions the community might have to
offer. My daughter is graduating from 8th grade and really wants to
attend Berkeley High. We've visited the school and we think it would
be a great fit for her. We had plans to buy a place in Berkeley and
we have looked earnestly for months now. Changes in the market,
financing issues and the like has curtailed this search. I am now
faced with finding a place to rent while finding someone to rent my
house in Emeryville. I've applied for an inter-district transfer and
I won't know the results until summer. Needless to say, this is
extremely anxiety provoking for both my daughter and I. Additionally,
I am only marginally employed so I can't afford to pay much rent at
least at the start. I've begun to job search and will apply with the
Berkeley Unified school district. I believe there's hope. I've very
open for suggestions, feedback, a job, a house to share, whatever
you've got to give. I'm grateful to the community and feel very lucky
to live in a place where single mom's like me can reach out for help.
My advice is to wait to find out whether she's been approved
for inter-district transfer. Mentally prepare yourselves for
being denied, and start to get used to the idea of her
attending the local high school. If your plan to move to
Berkeley doesn't work out the way you want it to, you'll have
much bigger problems than your daughter not attending the high
school of her choice. It is just high school, after all.
play the hand you're dealt
Inter district transfers to Berkeley High rarely if ever happen
from what I have heard-especially in recent years. I did hear
that if you can get transferred into a Berkeley Middle school
in 8th grade (as an out of district transfer if they have room-
or by some other means) you are automatically registered at the
High School for next year. Apparently they have space in the
middle schools sometimes but rarely extra space at the high
school for out of district kids. Thus your chances are better
if your daughter can get into a Berkeley middle school now as I
heard it. The registration office near the high school and
police department can give you all the standards necessary to
prove residency. If you live in Berkeley they have to allow you
admission at the high school.
My wife and I recently moved into a home in Central Berkeley.
Upon moving in we received a letter from a young woman who
lives in El Cerrito. The young woman explained in her letter
that the previous owner of our home had allowed her to use his
address so that she could attend Berkeley Schools. She then
asked us to handle her mail for her, so that she could pick it
up later. We feel obligated to report this to the Berkeley
School District. We know that Berkeley Schools are
overburdened as it is, without serving children from other
school districts as well. Should we forward this information
to the school district? What will happen to the young woman if
we do report it? Is it true that she may be taking the ''slot''
from a legitimate Berkeley resident?
Concerned parent of a future student
She asked politely -- why not just decline politely? You have
no obligation to this young woman, but what do you gain
from ''turning her in''? As the saying goes, ''just say no'' and
-- Live and Let Live
I have read this post and much of the previous discussion on
this topic. In this particular situation, I would hope that the
homeowner not to get involved in perpetuating this fraud,
whether they decide to turn the individual is a more difficult
decision; I wouldn't and just hope the situation ends there. In
general, I'm surprised how many people would condone this
behavior. It's nice to say that we shouldn't lock people out of
a ''better'' school system and that borders don't matter. Borders
do matter, they are the basis on which school districts are
organized and funded. But does any one think this approach is
sustainable? Is the logic that it is ok as long as it is only a
few? Where do you draw the line? If you believe this is the
case, should the Berkeley School system just openly accept any
child free of charge who wants to get into a ''better'' school
system, or we will just continue to support only the ones that
cheat? Quality of schools is an important issue - if you want to
change that, change the way schools are funded and how resources
are distributed statewide - don't penalize people who are
playing by the rules in favor of those who violate them - that
just causes more frustration and inequality.
We ''loaned'' our berkeley address to a friend whose kid was one
of the only ''minority'' kids at a neighboring city school, out of
kindness. Have to say it bothers me sometimes, especially if our
children do not get into the school of our choice when the time
comes. We definitely pay higher prices for houses and property
taxes than neighboring cities to support our schools, parks,
ambulances, etc. etc. etc. so I can see why people get upset
about this. I'm curious to know the consequences too, as we did
this quite blindly. Has a kid ever actually been kicked out due
to not actually living in berkeley? How seriously does the
district take this?
I am incredulous, but not surprised, that this young woman would
have the expectation that you would commit fraud with such
complacency. Fraud in BUSD is pretty prevalent, and I imagine it
didn't occur to her what she was doing was wrong. I feel sorry
for her. Somewhere along she didn't get the message that a
child needs to be a resident in Berkeley to go to school, that
she was committing fraud and it is a crime.
Unfortunately I know many families, whose children went to
expensive private elementary/middle schools, choosing to lie to
get their children into Berkeley High. What kind of message does
that send their own children -- that rules apply to everyone but
them? That lying is o.k.?
People who live in Berkeley, both homeowners and renters (who
have tax increases passed on to them through higher rent) pay
high property taxes to insure that BUSD can provide a quality
education. Houses cost more here because of the schools. My
family stayed in Berkeley, becoming ''house poor'', to take
advantage of what BUSD has to offer.
What is most infuriating is that not one of the families I know
make donations to the BHS Development Group, although they could
afford to send their children to private schools.
I can't tell you what is right for you, and it seems to be a
very uncomfortable sitution, but I wouldn't do it. It is
against the law.
See this as part of this young woman's education--hope she takes
away the message that lying is wrong and doing the right thing
is not always the easy thing.
I think it's pretty nervy of someone to contact you and request that
you handle their
mail so they can dupe the school district. That being said, if you
turning them in directly to BUSD, you should just tell them that you
obligated to help them and don't want to be put in the middle. They
arrangement with the previous owners, but you don't feel comfortable
I'm not sure what the policy is, but I have known families who used to
Berkeley and had their kids in Berkeley schools petition the district
to stay at their
Berkeley school after they moved to a nearby community (i.e. El
Obviously, the people you are dealing with never actually lived in
Berkeley, but if it
helps you feel less guilty knowing they may get to stay at their
school, that's food
berkeley public school mom
I would most definitely contact BUSD about this. First off it's
fraud, and second - why does this person think they can ''bully''
the new tenants into breaking the law? Which is essentially what
one (and the previous tenant) was doing.
The same thing is happening in Castro Valley USD ... so many
people use false addresses to get in. Is it fair? No way, and
some do get caught - as they should. If we as parents stick with
our neighborhood school - instead of trying to bail out - then
maybe we could make a difference with the school district, the
PTA, get parents involved & so on. But instead - people just want
to bail out, or break the law. And what kind of lesson are we
teaching our children - breaking the law is ok? White collar
crime starts somewhere.
I would report them. This person is probably taking a slot that
could go to someone from out of district that has tried to get
in legitimately via the process they have in place. Why should
you do this for someone you don't know? You don't know what her
situation is or if there is an true need for her to lie in
order to get her kid into a decent school.
We have the same issue in Albany, a highly regarded school
district. We recently moved to Albany and at our new house
there is mail coming for about 5 different families, including
for two children (from different families) enrolled in Albany
schools. I know only the previous owners were living here. We
want our kids to go to school in Albany and paid A LOT for this
house. To top it off at the last minute the owners demanded
more money from us or the deal was going to be cancelled. Given
what we paid, the taxes we pay, and that we have 3 kids that
will be going to Albany schools, we were not willing to front
for two kids we didn't know going to school here
illegitimately. I called the school district and gave them the
Yikes. While I think it was presumptuous at best for this mom
to ask you to mislead the school district along with her, I
would try a more measured approach. What about contacting mom
and airing your concerns with her? It seems to me that while
the outcome may be the same (she'll have to change schools)
this might give her more time to find a decent alternative. I
agree that equity is important, but the welfare of the child is
too. I don't condone her actions, but I can certainly
understand the heartbreak of wanting what's best for your kid.
I'd call her and say you're not going along with it, and that
she needs to address the situation or you'll report her.
Bleeding heart mama
This is outrageous that this woman is asking you to do this for
her (basically, asking you to assist her in committing fraud).
Kindly tell her than you will be happy to forward all her mail to
her new address, and that she should file a ''change of address''
form with the post office so that all her mail is properly
forwarded to her without your assistance.
Don't even address the BUSD issue with her (no need to turn her
in), but I strongly suggest that you quietly hang on to that
letter from her as ''evidence'', should need it in the future.
Wouldn't it have been ironic if you or your wife, as the new
occupants of the house, actually worked for BUSD assignment?
Don't be swayed that the letter was written by a ''young woman''
(clearly a minor child) and not her parent. Someone's fishing
for the sympathy vote. I think it's just wrong that a parent is
putting his/her child up to commit fraud, rather than taking
responsibility for this action himself/herself.
BTW, I think there is a way BUSD students, if they are already
attending a certain school, can remain at the school even if
their address has changed due to moving houses, etc. I know this
is the case for my neighbors, who moved out-of-zone but still
within Berkeley, and whose kids still attend the school in their
previous ''zone''. Advise this young lady to look into this with BUSD.
BUSD Parent with Boundaries
While there are several reasons to have kids who are not area residents
certain schools not in their ''area'', I certainly would not put myself
into the position
of lying for someone so that they can achieve that end -- that is just
would be doing by allowing someone to use your address. She is
by falsifying her address and in knowingly allowing her to do that with
you are abetting her to do so. I would certainly NOT allow her to do so
or not you report it to BUSD is your choice -- I would guess that she
is not the only
one lying about her address, so they may donothing about it. People who
blatantly disregard the rules make me angry. We live less than 1/2 mile
cutoff from being allowed in the Acalanes school district, so when we
house, we made the choice to go private. Not an inexpensive decision,
this family had the same choice to make, and instead they chose the
route either figuring that they would lie about their address or move.
understand that not everyone can choose or may not want to choose to go
there are proper ways and channels to take to try to obtain legal
entrance into the
schools that you want to attend. While most travel these channels and
decisions that are made, some still choose to cheat -- don't stoop to
A reference was made to a previous post, but it really seems like
this post deals with a very different topic. The previous post
had to do with someone ''snitching'' on someone they thought might
be in Berkeley schools illegitimately but with no real knowledge
of the facts involved. This post has to do with someone being
asked to knowingly commit fraud to benefit someone they don't
even know. This situation seems like a no-brainer. WHY would
anyone allow someone they don't know to use their address? It's
not only postal fraud but an extremely idiotic thing to consider
in this age of identity theft.
likes to play by rules
BUSD Fraud, what are the consequences?
If it were me, I would let the student know that you are not willing to
hold or open or
process her mail. Another option would be to refrain from engaging with
but to simply put any mail that comes for her back in the mailbox with
''not at this
address'' on it. Without judging the circumstances of what led to the
initial use of your
address, I do not see it as your responsibility to perpetuate the fraud
for someone you
don't even know. Nor do you necessarily need to ''report'' it to the
district. If you return
the mail to sender, it becomes an issue between the student and the
you in the middle of it one way or the other. It seems to me the
student's request of
you is inappropriate and unreasonable. Good luck!
Wouldn't want to be in your shoes
This woman sounds a little nutty. Since you mentioned that she
lives in El Cerrito, I would like to reassure you that the
schools in EC are improving and most are comparable to Berkeley.
Please tell this person to go back to her home district. There is
no reason to fradulently attend Berkeley schools.
We have discovered that the neighborhood schools in EC may not
look as good ''on paper'' as those in nearby districts but there
are some hidden jewels. People who have chosen to stay in the
district and work to improve the local schools are beginning to
see some payoff for their efforts.
Within the last few years, the district was able to renovate and
improve many of the El Cerrito campuses because the citizens of
W. County voted in numerous bond measures and a parcel tax. This
has enticed many parents to take a second look at their local
schools. The new Superintendent is very focused on improvement
and has already shaken things up quite a bit--pink slipping
ineffective administrators, encouraging parent involvement,
working to improve safety at each campus, etc. I hear the same
thing is happening in Oakland Unified as well where some of the
elementary schools now have long waiting lists.
Hopefully, this trend of people staying put and advocating for
better schools in their own community will continue so ALL
children have good schools to attend.
first of all, I am a parent who's kid went to bh through a
transfer, that I had to renew each year, based on the fact that
he started off in a berkeley grammar school before I was forced
out of berkeley by high rents.
it really ticks me off to read the laments of people saying
they pay higher home prices and taxes, etc, and so are entitled
to better schools. Have you checked home prices and taxes in
Oakland lately? they are astronomical.
apart from that however, the bottom line is that oakland
schools are mostly terrible, and the the urban ca. school
systems are defunct. yet we also pay high taxes and home
prices, not to mention people who rent in oakland and get
soaked for huge amounts of money each month.
the system is broken. try looking beyond the end of your own
nose. doesn't every single child deserve a decent safe
education, whether or not their parents have either inherited
money, have family money, or have been able to afford a good
education themselves, thus having the privledge of living in
if you really care, try doing something positive about it.
and NO, I dont think you should ''turn in'' someone who is lying
to get into a decent school. If they were messing up or not
going to school belive me they would be kicked out of there
people in oakland pay taxes too
I know this is off topic, but I'm really tired of Berkeley
residents ranting and raving about how they pay much higher
property tax than anyone else. The Berkeley property tax rate
(including the voter-approved increase for BUSD) is 1.235%. The
Oakland property tax rate ranges from 1.22 - 1.3773% (the more
valuable your house, the higher your rate).
So count yourselves lucky, you have lower average property tax
rates and overall better schools than Oakland residents.
And, from my conversations with BUSD school administrators, they
know who the out-of-district families are, they just choose to do
nothing about it. You know why? Because the 'defrauders' kids,
ON AVERAGE, have higher attendance records (i.e. more $$ for the
schools), get better grades, have more involved parents who
contribute to both the school and who engage and help their kids
with their school work.
can't stand complainers
BUSD Fraud, what are the consequences?
Bottom line: You are being asked to participate in a fraud.
This is not the same a previous discussions, where people had
discovered that students attending berkeley schools did not
live in berkeley. In those situations, the reasons for the
child's attendance were unknown and could have been
legitimate. Here, you must decide yourself if you want to
commit fraud by ''taking care of the mail'' for this family, and
take responsibility for the consequences that might befall you
(regardless of what happens to her).
anon berkeley resident
I would like to conduct an informal survey about what other readers
would do regarding a case of a non-Berkeley family getting their child
into one of the desireable Berkeley public schools. While on the one
hand it's difficult for me to fault a parent for wanting their child
to get as good an education as possible, this situation on balance
angers me. I know of several Berkeley families (in fact I do not
personally know any who got into their first or second choice schools)
who were not able to get their children into this particular school
and like many, they cannot simply send their children into private
school and instead will be sending them to less desireable public
schools. I am tempted to call the admission office at BUSD to try to
at least get information on how or why this is occuring. If this
student was accepted through official means, this situation does not
seem very fair to Berkeley residents. If the parents lied about their
address, this also does not seeem right. We do pay a lot of city
specific taxes in Berkeley and these spots in the more desireable
schools are a scarce resource. I would think that most Berkeley
residents would agree that this is not right, but what would you do,
if anything, about it?
Concerned Berkeley resident
I would not do anything. Leave it alone and move on. You don't
know all the reasons behind it, and you don't know the benefits
and detriments that the situation causes. MYOB.
Public School Parent
I would do something. One of the reasons for rules and laws is
to level the playing field. There are always people who feel
they are above the rules, but feeling entitled does not make you
entitled. And the fact that this family took a spot that should
have gone to a Berkeley tax-paying family is just downright
I understand your frustration with the situation. I know one
family with two kids at Berkeley High who use a false address
and one family that was trying to use their business address but
was kicked out. The white high achieving family stayed, the
family of color with a learning problem was sent out. I have
heard they let the high test scoring kids stay by looking the
other way. In Walnut Creek, my friend had the school come out
almost monthly and unannounced to see if she was living where
she claimed on her form. I guess they get so much money per
pupil from the state and choose accordingly.
First of all, it seems that your topic title and the content of
your question don't exactly jive: the enrollment isn't
necessarily ''illegal'' as far as you know. The (very complicated)
enrollment process -does- allow for out-of-area kids to attend
BUSD schools, I believe it's 5th in the list of 5 priority levels
they use to assign schools. So, just because somebody doesn't
live in Berkeley doesn't mean that they are attending a school
illegally. You should probably find out the details before you
start making accusations.
BUSD cares a lot about diversity in their schools, so
unfortunately not everybody who lives close to Thousand Oaks gets
to go to Thousand Oaks (I'm just assuming, but I bet this is the
school you're talking about). It's not necessarily fair if you
live a block away, but it's definitely fair to the kids who live
far away and wouldn't ordinarily be able to benefit from the
services at this excellent school. That said, Rosa Parks is a
good school, too (again: assuming) and just because it's not in a
neighborhood that you like, doesn't mean your child wouldn't
still get an excellent education there.
And, for the record, I live in the Central district and got my
first choice. So, now you know one person, anyway.
I wouldn't single out the family or child but rather put your
energies into pressuring the school district to be more
pro-active about verifying residency. The district asks for three
of the following ''proofs'' of residency:
* PG&E bill
* EBMUD bill
* Telephone bill
* Cable Bill
* Bank Statement
* Paycheck Stub
* Driver's License
* At least one proof of residency must be a utility bill.
I've never had any of these entities ask for proof of residency.
All they ask is for our word that we live where we say we live.
Why or how these documents can be considered adequate proof of
residency is beyond me. Lafayette asks for a utility bill plus
either a tax bill for homeowners or a signed lease with the name
and number of landlord for renters. Statements from Board of Ed
members in the press lead me to believe they don't think there's
a problem or for political reasons they're reluctant to press
I live in Oakland, not Berkeley, but our neighborhood is facing
the same problem of non-neighborhood families using false means
to gain access to a good public school (displacing neighborhood
families who are the stated OUSD first priority). I'm angry
that people who lie are getting into schools ahead of people
who apply honesty. Local school districts need to take this
issue more seriously and institute stricter methods for
verifying addresses of their applicant families. They should at
least look into families that have been flagged by others as
having lied their way into a school. Cheating should not be
rewarded. I'd turn in a family who lied if it meant that
someone who applied honesty was going to get that spot! People
pay a premium in housing prices and property taxes to live in
areas with good schools. Why should others who haven't made
that same sacrifice get all the goodies?
Please don't cheat and don't allow others to cheat with your
address. I've seen first hand how destructive this issue can be
within a community.
Playing fair and square in Oakland
You raise some interesting points. A few responses:
-You object to the family's gaining entry into the 'more
desirable' school. Does that mean you wouldn't care if the
family got into the 'less desirable' BUSD school? I ask because
there are too many Berkeleyans who rely on heresay and herd
mentality to decide what schools are good versus bad. It kind
of rubs me the wrong way when people glibly use
characterizations like 'desirable' and 'not desirable'.
-If the BUSD admission system is being abused, we should be
worried about the effect on ALL our schools, not just the one we
wanted to get into.
-If you feel that a specific family has violated the admissions
policy, you may want to inquire with BUSD about what you believe
BUSD criteria to be, but not 'calling out' this family. If you
still think that violations of the criteria are going on, and it
bugs you, I would recommend writing to the school board with a
request that they start making their admissions policy more
explicit and that they devise a plan to enforce the policy.
-I am aware that a lot of people have these concerns from time
to time about overall BUSD admissions, and I think it would
behoove BUSD to publicize a very explicit policy about
admission, and their plan to enforce that policy. Otherwise,
I'm worried that the supplemental taxes that Berkeleyans do pay
for their schools (BSEP, etc) will be in jeopardy in the future.
-I am curious about whether Albany or Orinda or Walnut Creek
have an 'enforcement' program for ensuring that students who are
admitted actually live in the district, and whether people feel
that such policies work.
Curious in Berkeley
I totally hear where you're coming from! I actually know
several families who send their kids to Berkeley Public
Schools, and none of them are actually Berkeley residents!!
Some are using friends' addresses to get in. A couple of
families live in nearby cities where they wouldn't consider
sending their kids to public school, so the parents got
teaching jobs in Berkeley specifically so that their kids could
go to school here. That even bothers me, and I'm a teacher!!
Those of us who actually live in Berkeley pay extremely high
property taxes, and yet we're not guaranteed that our children
will get a quality public school education. It's ridiculous!!
I hadn't thought of reporting anyone to the district office,
but it's not a bad idea.
I'm glad this question is coming through again as I felt last
time the answers were unfairly censored due to the nature of
the responses (giving advice vs. giving opinions). I think if
you know someone who is lying about their address for
enrollment you should call BUSD and let them sort it out. It's
not right, the enrollemnt process is such a crap-shoot and
while we were initially discourged at not getting our first
choice we've ended up liking the school we were assigned. We
made a lot of sacrifices to move to Berkeley so our children
could attend school, if families want Berkeley schools do the
right thing and move to the city and contribute to the tax base
that makes the schools so desirable.
Just because they're public doesn't mean they're free
Intereseting points and something I have thought about. We are
paying more to rent in Albany than those that live in
neighboring cities because we are attached to our children's
school. There are families at this school that do not live in
Albany; some of them live in El Cerrito, Berkeley, Richmond,
etc, and not only live further away, but probably pay less for
housing than we do.
However, their personal situation--where they live, where their
children go to school, and how the district decides to deal
with it--is really none of my business. If you or your friends
feel strongly that your child should go to their neighborhood,
closest school, than of course you should keep pushing for
that. Make sure you are on the waiting list, call the admin
office, talk to officials in the district, and put your energy
towards doing what works for your family.
As far as the other familes, their business is really none of
your concern, and you probably don't know the details of the
situation. It is hard to know if something is ''fair'' without
having all of the pertinent info, some of which may be
In my opinion, if you stand silent, you have joined into the
unethical conduct of the parents of these children.
If these parents want their children to attend Berkeley schools,
then they should move into Berkeley.
Since Measure A passed I find myself increasingly irritated with
people who lie to get into the Berkeley schools. The schools are
as good as they are because Berkeley residents pay extra. I
think the more people in the community who complain to the school
district and directly to the board the better the chances are
that the district will start enforcing its own policies. The
school board members are elected by the citizens and they should
know where people stand on this issue. I don't think it's right
to report a specific child, but I do think it's right to report
that it's happening and that you, a voter and taxpayer, feel that
the district should not allow it.
I lied to get into Berkeley High.
We were living in Crockett and lived across the street from John
Swett High. I had been threatened, beat up, ganged up on, and
generally harassed for the ONE semester of 8th grade I attended
in my local school district.
I told my mother that if she sent me to John Swett, I would get a
blue mohawk and drop out of school. So she put our name on a
friend's phone bill and drove me to school everyday for 4 years.
All the Berkeley people who want to narc on
children for trying to get a decent education need to get a life.
Don't forget that borders are randomly drawn lines on a map that
are designed to make you think that there is an ''Us'' (in this
case, those who get to live next to the school of their choice)
and ''Them'' (those who cannot live near the school of their choice).
If someone wants to lie to get into a school that's their karma.
Find someone else to pick on, and leave the kids alone.
ps. You have high property taxes because you voted for them.
Beat the System and Enjoyed Every Minute
I think it is important to take into consideration the many
oppressions that are very real in our society before deciding
what to say to whom about where children are enrolled in school.
Many people attend Berkeley schools that rent and do not pay
property taxes. What do you think their rights and
responsibilities are? Having worked in Berkeley schools as an
educator, I do not send my children to BUSD schools as they are
currently run. They are not all they are cracked up to be, in my
experience. The reasons are complex and hard to quantify.
Pointing fingers, and building walls and fences won't really
solve anything. The tone of this exchange makes it clear how much
frustration there is in the East Bay when it comes to schooling.
The lines we are drawing in Berkeley or Albany or Oakland are
false. We are all living in this region and the schools are
broken. Maybe we could find some solutions if we stopped using
the ''divide and conquer'' model on the topic of school enrollment.
Consider Audre Lorde's words, ''The master's tools will never
dismantle the master's house. In our world 'divide & conquer'
must become 'define and empower.''' Reflect deeply before you
engage in deciding what someone else is doing and why.
Leave it alone. Shouldn't we all be concerned with schools
improving better so that we don't end up policing neighbors.
Who's really to blame here?!!?
To the original poster, I am sorry you're getting shamed for
not being liberal enough.
Personally, I'm a ''rules'' person, and a liberal. I don't think
that's inconsistent with being a liberal. I think it's in the
true liberal tradition to work to CHANGE rules you disagree
with, not to act as if the rules don't apply to you.
I also believe that this is an example of market behavior. If
the market is easy to game, then it will be gamed. If market
participants can get better goods (''better school'') for less
money (''property taxes'' or ''rent''), then particpants will
naturally pursure that option. In the long run that won't work
because those paying the higher price and not getting the
better goods will leave the market (''move away'', ''private
Something as important to all of our children as school
assignment should not be a gameable system.
Advice-wise, while I might personally not be willing to go so
far as to turn in an individual, I would certainly raise my
voice with the district, the school board, and other elected
officials. And you know how that market works - if enough money
(''potential political contributions'') talks, the officials will
I agree with the post that said this is really a political issue
-- Berkeley is known for being rather lenient on the residency
requirements, and when this issue came up a while ago re. the
high school, the district denied that there were that many kids
from out of district at BHS. Out of touch with reality? So,
even if you reported it to the district, I suspect they wouldn't
really do anything about it. And, we (parents), who work to
support the schools and build community, etc. shouldn't be
policing our schools to see who is legitimately in and who's not.
It is a challenge -- we have many kids at our elementary school
who don't live in Berkeley, and at the same time I know so many
families in my neighborhood who tried to get into this school and
were not able to. Yes, if they were using the zone/assignment
system to place kids from Berkeley in various schools to ensure
diversity, etc. that would be one thing. But is it really fair
for non-Berkeley kids to take spots that Berkeley kids want?
It's just not realistic that BUSD is going to be able to be the
solution for all the nearby districts that are having trouble.
Perhaps we do need to start pressuring BUSD to enforce it's own
policies and not be such an easy gateway into the schools.
Finally, re. the diatribe against stay at home moms, it seems
to me that it doesn't fit the guidelines for respectful communication
in these newsletters.
And I'm not a SAHM.
I think the reason people get so fired up about this issue is
because Berkeley school assignment is perceived as unfair. Some
schools are more desirable than others. In a perfect world, they
would all be equally wonderful and desirable for everyone. But
let's face it, people have preferences. That's why BUSD has a
Parent Preference Form. So you put down your top 3 choices. It's
a lottery -- everyone should have the same chance, right? But
then you don't get your preference, but you see parents who do
get theirs, and they didn't even play by the rules. That's not
fair, and it makes people mad and distrustful.
It also makes me mad that it is so hard to find out how exactly
the BUSD lottery works. If you go to the BUSD website, you will
not find an explanation of how you got assigned to the school you
got assigned to. Or at least I could not find it. This should all
be completely transparent. Otherwise, it contributes to the idea
that the lottery system is rigged, or at best, unfair.
One thing I did find on the BUSD website is the email address for
all the School Board members. Instead of taking swipes at each
other, we should be complaining to the only people who can
actually do anything about this: boardofed[at]berkeley.k12.ca.us
Many people attend Berkeley schools that rent
and do not pay property taxes.
Duh--the property taxes that the landlord pays are factored into
-- a renter
As we all know, the BUSD assignment policy is not perfect. However, I
do believe it
was created with the best interests of all the district's students at
heart. Though the
schools have different strengths and weaknesses, they are diverse in a
way that few
other districts with the type of housing stratification that Berkeley
has, can boast,
and I think that benefits all of our children. Also, in spite of the
which elevates some schools as more desirable than others, every
has dedicated teachers, active parents and an enriched curriculum that
some type of music or art or science or gardening, etc. Let's remember
we are in the scheme of CA public education!
As for the policy itself, the full text, along with maps, etc. can be
And, per another poster's comment, if you have concerns about
general or specific, instead of being agitated, contact Francisco
644-6504 or admissions[at]berkeley.k12.ca.us
As an aside, we also did not get our first choice, while we know many
did. Like I said, the system isn't perfect, but we all make it better
by 'opting in' and
expressing our concerns with respect and integrity.
Incoming BUSD parent
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