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Protesters ordered to leave shuttered Oakland school

East Oakand's Parker Elementary School was closed two weeks ago
Clotee Pridgen Allochuku
Flickr / Creative Commons
East Oakand's Parker Elementary School was closed two weeks ago

District spokesperson John Sasaki said the order was made because of serious safety concerns for those staging the sit-in at Parker Elementary School, which closed two weeks ago.

Parker K-8 school is one of a dozen or so schools Oakland Unified decided earlier this year to close due to declining enrollment. Parker's enrollment in 2020-21 was 257 students, a drop of 30 percent since 2017-18. Most Parker students have transferred to nearby schools.

EdSource reports that on May 25th – the day Parker officially closed – a dozen or so parents, students and other protesters began occupying the campus, operating a "community school" with summer activities for children and meals. They say the district's closure of Parker and other schools disproportionately affects Black and Latino communities, wasn't based on sufficient public input and will hurt the district financially in the long run.

The "community school," according to district officials, is rife with safety hazards, including a lack of background checks for adults and protective equipment for children who use skateboards or roller skates. In addition, children aren't adequately supervised, and the buildings contain fire hazards.

Sunni M. Khalid is a veteran of more than 40 years in journalism, having worked has in print, radio, television, and web journalism.