Oakland parents sit tight in school protest


Parents and supporters are not backing down when it comes to the closure of Lakeview Elementary in Oakland.

An occupation by protesters has police on guard as they arrived to check out the scene again Tuesday. A few dozen protesters have refused to leave school grounds since Friday, upset over the impending closure of Lakeview along with four other area schools.

Joel Velasquez, protest organizer and father of two Lakeview students, said he believes 10 uniformed police officers arrived on the scene with the specific purpose of discouraging students from attending free summer courses being taught by the occupiers.

Police arrived at 8:30 a.m., when classes were scheduled to begin at 9. Police left the scene about 9:15 a.m.

About 40 people are camping outside the campus. That number grows during demonstrations.

School district spokesman Troy Flint said police arrived only to see how many people were present and check on the condition of the campus:

“It’s well within our rights to come in and evaluate what’s going on.”

Superintendent Tony Smith said the $2 million each year saved by closing the schools will go toward improving those schools which remain open.

Other schools being closed include Lazear, Marshall, Maxwell Park and Santa Fe.

Flint said he hopes the protesters leave on their own, so officials will not have to request they be escorted off the premises.

Velasquez, on the other hand, has a different idea:

“We think this is the right thing to do and we’re making a stand.”

The decision to close the schools was made in October by a school board vote of 5-2.

Flint said he would be willing to negotiate with protesters, but sees little room for compromise.

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