Community outrage over potential Oakland school closure list

A proposal to shut down schools at the end of the school year drew outrage and frustration from many parents and teachers Wednesday night who spoke out at the Oakland School Board's regular meeting. 

The proposed closures were not on the agenda, but hundreds of people joined the virtual meeting, very upset.

The board had directed the school district staff to produce a list of possible school closures. That list was released Tuesday by Board member Mike Hutchinson shortly after he met with the staff.

Parents told board members they were shocked to hear the preliminary list of 13 Oakland schools that might be permanently closed at the end of the year.

The schools on the list include six elementary schools: Prescott, Brookfield, Carl Munck, Parker, Grass Valley, and La Escuelita.

Also listed are two middle schools: Westlake and Hillcrest's 6th-8th grades.

Proposed High school closures include: Bunche Academy, Street Academy, Rudsdale, and Community Day high school.

There is also a proposal for a Highland/RISE merger.

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"I was at Prescott today talking with parents. There were tears, there was anxiety," said Kim Davis, an OUSD parent.

The outpouring at Wednesday's meeting overwhelmed the allotted public comment time as person after person spoke out. Many said the timing of any closures during the pandemic would only add more stress and uncertainty for families.

"The instability and uncertainty during this time is unacceptable," said Natasha Celeste, an OUSD parent and teacher, "Please close no schools this year."

"My son is six and he hasn't even been in a classroom up until this year and now we have to start this all over again? It is unfair and I am appalled," said Aisha Blackwell, a parent of a Grass Valley Elementary student.

"It's a terrible thing I think. With everything that's going on in Oakland, that's another thing we have to deal with," said Andre Williams, an OUSD parent.

Some board members say closures are necessary, as the district has lost some 2,500 students during the pandemic.

Parents and teachers said they want proof that closing schools will save money.

"Show me your work. Show me the math, show me the numbers," said one parent.

The school district staff say they hope to have a list finalized by Friday.

The Board is expected to hold a special session Monday to discuss the possible closures and then have a second meeting to vote on the plan Feb. 8. 

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or