Garbage dumped outside Oakland school cleaned after principal's complaints

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One day after KTVU reported about a city dump-like atmosphere just outside a West Oakland high school, the city has responded with a cleanup effort.

We showed a city block filled with trash sitting right outside the playground at Ralph Bunche High School.

The principal, Betsye Steele, said she spent nearly $1,000 out of her own pocket to clean up the school. 


“It's like nasty, like, why would they leave it here?” asked student Kyle Dawson, referring to the mess. “I don't know. It makes the city look bad. It kind of makes our city look dirty."

A statement was issued on behalf of the school from a P.R. firm called The Marketing Shop on Friday. 

In it, they say a resolution came in the form of multiple trucks and personnel who aided in the cleanup effort. 

"The students and faculty watched as the City of Oakland’s Street Cleaning and Graffiti team removed broken furniture, clothing, rotting food, needles and so much more."

Following the massive effort where heaping loads of trash were taken away John Deere trucks, the school and faculty brainstormed ideas on solutions to keep the trash at bay. 

Kyla Kinner, another student, agreed, saying, “How long does it take for people to realize this is a school? And people who  walk past this school, they want their kids to come here. No one wants to see this."

The trash included rotting food, discarded furniture, broken glass, needles, and moldy feces. All of it has been left – or dumped – near the corner of 18th and Poplar streets. %INLINE%

"This is ridiculous. It's absolutely ridiculous - and unnecessary,” said school principal Betsye Steele. “It’s a lack of caring for the school, and the families here."

It's gotten so bad, Steele says the street's never been completely clean, despite repeated requests to Oakland public works.

"I have not been able to talk to anybody in person at all,” Steele said. Another school employee Terrance Holliday, says he’s also used a city app to report the trash, to no avail.

KTVU saw a city of Oakland dump truck pull up across from the school. But the driver said he’s there for street-cleaning trucks, not the big items dumped outside. So as the sweepers swept, the stuff stayed on the street and stank.

Tim Johnson, who has a tent nearby, says he offered to haul it all away, ike he's done in the past. 

"They paid me $70, and I cleaned all this up before they had a concert here,” Johnson said. “And I cleaned it up before.. I did it three times for free."

Ralph Bunche High School is named after the first African American Nobel laureate, is known for its culinary arts program. But some fear new students might lose their appetite.

"I don't think they want to come here,” said student Kalia Smiley. “Because seeing this - it doesn't’ look like a school that you want to learn at." 

School officials are hopeful the city steps up and doesn't walk away from the mess. 

Sean Maher, a spokesman for Oakland public works provided to KTVU a map showing illegal dumping pickups over the past year or so. The map essentially shows the whole city.

Maher said crews have been e doing twice as many pickups compared to five years ago, but that even as they haul away the trash, people dump again and again, in the same place.