New Oakland high school burglarized just 1 month before opening day

Burglars broke into a new independent Oakland high school and stole equipment just a month before opening day.

"It's a jewel that got robbed, so to hear that everything got taken just broke our hearts," said Cesar Cruz, principal of the Freedom School for Homies Empowerment near 90th Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard.

On Wednesday, a locksmith kept busy changing all the locks and many of the doors that were damaged during the weekend break-in.

"It's a very disheartening situation that happened," said Rubi Pelayo, the school's director of operations. "It's very sad, but we will not be focusing on the negatives of it."

The focus now will be getting ready for its inaugural school year.

"Whether we have computers here or not, whether we have windows busted or not, we're going to start," said G. Reyes, school designer and a Cal State East Bay professor.

Thieves stole eight laptops, two projectors, four microphones and a power saw worth $6,000.

Reyes said someone also broke into the school's shed Wednesday morning.

"Obviously, it's devastating, but you can also see the energy of the space - we're interviewing teachers right now," Reyes said. "We can't let those break-ins devastate us and immobilize us. We have to stay focused on what we're trying to do."

And what they're trying to do, Cruz said, is to be a different, independent, free school for 30 at-risk ninth graders who may not like school.

"When you walk into our building, it's living history," Cruz said. "You see Asian American, African American, Latino history, you see a place that feels like home for kids."

The school takes pride in being a place where everyone belongs, even those who may have broken in.

"We know that if we worked with them before, they might not have done this," Reyes said. "And, the message to them now is that we're still going to be here, and if you need help and support, we can do that for you."

The school has set up a GoFundMe to replace the stolen items.

Henry Lee is a KTVU crime reporter. E-mail Henry at and follow him on Twitter @henrykleeKTVU and