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School accused of abusing, exploiting kids

West Oakland parents are speaking out against a private school run by St. Andrew’s Missionary Baptist Church in West Oakland, saying that their children were being exploited.

Parents claimed children had been verbally abused by church leaders, and some alleged the school kept their children unreasonably late for Bible study that wasn’t actually happening.

Parents say that instead of Bible study, students were taken to San Francisco to ask pedestrians for money.

One mother, Catherine Joiner, said her son was robbed during one of those trips after he was left without adult supervision.

She also said the boy was locked in a church building during the 2008-2009 school year when he was only 9 years old. She said the boy fell two stories in an attempt to get to the bathroom, resulting in broken bones.

St. Andrew’s receives federal funding for its low-income students. The money, which travels through the Oakland school system, is governed by contracts approved by the Oakland school board.

St. Andrew’s was recently scrutinized by California Watch for receiving $50,000 in funding for 195 students when it actually had less than 30, according to government inspections.

Families are asking the school be closed or stripped of its federal funding. But the arrangement between the school, the feds and the Oakland school system leaves the board little power to take action.

General counsel Jacqueline Minor said the issue would be taken up in closed session later on:

“We take the allegations very seriously. Additional investigatory work is under way.”

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