Opponents of Oakland school closures, mergers say plan violates California environmental law – CBS San Francisco

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OAKLAND (BCN) — Opponents of a plan to close and merge several schools in the Oakland Unified School District want school board members to consider environmental impacts before a vote on the plan, which could take place Tuesday night.

The group Oakland Residents Against School Closure Plan sent a letter to council members saying the school board’s plan violates California’s Environmental Quality Act.

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School board members plan to vote Tuesday night on the school consolidation plan, which is expected to take place in phases.

“We call for a halt to all voting to close all Oakland Unified Public Schools due to lack of compliance with CEQA and lack of community involvement in the decision-making process of this closure plan,” the opponents said in their letter to the school board. members.

Opponents said they were City of Oakland residents affected by the school board’s plan.

Environmental impacts can include traffic congestion, transportation issues, and, among other things, impacts on nearby parks or wildlife.

“We appreciate that as administrators of our public schools you share our serious concerns about our environment,” the opponents wrote in their letter. “We hope you will agree that no vote to close our public schools can take place at this point.

“We also look forward to increased community engagement before such drastic measures like this plan to close so many of our public schools are even considered,” the letter said.

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The school board’s plan caught the attention of attorney Kathleen Carroll, who has worked on education issues, said Steve Zeltzer, who works with opposition parents and teachers. Carroll brought the CEQA requirement to the attention of the group of opponents.

“It’s pretty clear in our understanding of the law,” Zeltzer said of the need to follow CEQA in this case.

He said that in previous court cases schools had been reopened after they had closed because the CEQA had not been followed.

“It’s a serious problem,” Zeltzer said. “Basically, we’re just saying follow the law.”

Carroll said the CEQA challenge has been used in the past, particularly in the Barstow Unified School District. There, two schools closed and a judge ruled the school district must follow CEQA, Carroll said.

The OUSD School Board meeting begins at 5 p.m. and can be viewed at https://ousd.zoom.us/j/88586792391.

A school district spokesperson was not immediately available to comment on the challenge to the school board’s closure plan.

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