Oakland schools district urges parents to keep kids home from school on Friday over teacher strike

The Oakland Unified School District is bracing for another teacher strike on Friday and asked for parents to keep their children home that day.

In a message sent to parents, the district said school buildings will be open on Friday and staff are required to come to work, but the district anticipates staffing shortages after the teachers' union declared they will strike on Friday.

"We do not believe that we’ll be able to cover the high number of expected staff absences with substitutes or reassigned central office staff," OUSD said. "Therefore, we are asking all families not to send their children to school on Friday."

The Oakland Education Association said it wants to send a message to the district that it disapproves of school closures that impact Black and brown neighborhoods.

"Our students need investments not school closures," said Keith Brown, president of the teachers' union.

The district is calling the union's plan to take to the picket lines, an unfair labor practice strike. 

"This action impacts our entire OUSD community, especially our students who should be in school learning. The district is pursuing all legal means to prevent this action from happening. We are hoping that OEA will change course, but we are also putting plans in place in case the strike occurs," said Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammel, Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District in a statement.

Students outside Oakland Technical High School reacted to news of the planned strike as classes let out Tuesday.

"I’ve heard that they’re trying to close a majority of African American schools and that’s not cool," said Malick Diouf, a student at Oakland Technical High School.

"It’s nice that we’re having a day off, but it’s also really bad that we’re closing all these schools, so I definitely support the strike," added Benny Mansell, a senior at Oakland Technical High School.

But administrators point out, that the potential strike, comes with a cost, one more potential missed day of classes after a year of on again, off again learning. 

"I find that just another day of missing school, when the kids have missed so much, isn’t really helpful to our students," said Kyoko Yamada, a parent outside Oakland Technical High School, who added that she still supports the teachers.

The Oakland Unified School District has said not closing or merging schools would lead to a 90 million dollar budget shortfall. Brown said the district violated an agreement that would require no less than one year of engagement with stakeholders before making a decision to close a school.

"There is an agreement we have with the Oakland Unified School District that there must be a year of engagement before making such a decision," Brown said on Sunday. 

This planned strike follows months of protests, rallies, even a hunger strike that lasted 18 days.