Parents Stage Protest ‘Sit In’ And Takeover Of Closed School

Families and community members recently staged a protest and takeover of an Oakland school, where they are now running a community run school.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Oakland school

It’s common to find families protesting public education for some reason or another. This school year, protests have been reported across the nation in significant quantities. Parents have protested controversial findings in schools that promote sexuality to young children. Likewise, students have been staging walkouts in the wake of mass shootings this year on school campuses. However, there is a unique “sit in” protest that has taken over a closed Oakland school, and its existence is turning plenty of heads.

Nearly a dozen Oakland schools were shuttered earlier this year due to continuous enrollment losses for Oakland Unified school district (OUSD). Parker K-8 was one such school that closed this spring, as its enrollment last year recorded a steep drop of 30% bringing the total number of students in the entire school to a mere 257 count. Students were transferred to nearby ones, but many families were outraged by the district’s decision and decided to take matters into their own hands through a sit-in protest, where they now have been found to be operating their own community school within its halls. 

According to reports from EdSource, on May 25th, the Oakland school officially closed. However, parents, students, and community members showed their dissent by keeping activity alive and well within the walls of Parker school. They called the operation a community school. It boasted offering activities for children and free meals. The need for this was argued as a way to protect minority students, claiming the district’s decision to close the school disproportionately affected Black and Latino communities in the area. 

One parent of two students who attended the Oakland school and was part of the organization of this protest spoke about the need for these families to step up and take matters into their own hands. Rochelle Jenkins called the community school “ground zero” in a battle for minority students to attain the same level of quality education within their own neighborhoods. “We will not allow the district to intimidate us,” she said. 

But despite any possible good intentions with this sit-in, school officials have quickly begun demanding that the occupants leave the premise instantly. For one thing, OUSD cited the multiple safety hazards and violations within the closed Oakland school building that is now inoperable. More than likely, utilities have been shut off since its closure, which means no electricity or running water is accessible. Similarly, kids have been found skateboarding and rollerblading throughout the school, citing more safety hazards. And on top of all of that, the school noted that the community members supervising the children had not undergone any background checks. Above all, though, everyone involved is trespassing on private school property.

Oakland school

According to reports from ABC local news, district officials attempted to padlock access to the Oakland school, but that hasn’t stopped community members from doing their best to keep the community-run school going. One parent said the new endeavor is offering a variety of classes from chess, science, math, and ESL. Some protestors have even parked tents outside of the school to occupy it at all times. Similarly, they continue to double down on their stance, conveying they are not going anywhere until the district hears their demands for social justice.