Berkeley High graduation rates compare favorably to state rates [CoCo Times]
Fall classes begin this week at Cal [UCB News]
Brown appoints Jeanne Clinton to serve as adviser to PUC [Mercury News]
A monster machine under a dome in the Berkeley Hills [Gizmodo]
Man arrested for sexually battering UC parent [Daily Cal]
Squatting homeowner may be able to keep her house [Bay Citizen]
UC professor is close to creating robot maid [ABC]
Cal student victim of sexual battery, suspect arrested [UC Police]
Twitter’s Biz Stone to serve as fellow at Cal’s business school [UCB News]

Photo: Berkeley:Where East meets West by berkeleyhomes/Berkeleyside Flickr pool

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...

63 replies on “The Berkeley Wire: 08.24.11”

  1. I stopped commenting at berkeleyside because there appears to be a closed coterie of commenters who do not allow disagreement. Intelligent debate isn’t possible. Chiming in here to say that Bruce Love is the only commenter on this thread that makes much sense. It’s sad that berkeleyside comment section has become some sort of closed clique. It had possibilities. 
    I was surprised berkeleyside didn’t do a link to the very well written article a couple of weeks ago on the daily planet about the LBL proposal and safety. 

  2. …and here comes the predictable flood of excuses to explain why even though what you said wasn’t true, it wasn’t a lie, so to speak, you see.

    You’ve been living here for more than a decade and have made comments about how the only way you’re able to afford to continue living where you do is rent control (indicating a lengthy habitation in one location) but you’re still “new in town.”

    You said you were “straight up looking to do some start-up investment” but you just said it wrong and what you really meant was that you were looking to work at a start-up.

    Say whatever you want, but other posters can go back and see how you misrepresented yourself.
    If you want to say that it wasn’t technically lying, that’s your prerogative.

  3. Charles, I understand you to be saying that the legal context and community concerns are technicalities that are not relevant to the operation of the schools.  I do not agree.

  4. Sharkey,

    For the love of god, man:  look at the context from which you yanked those comments.

    I’m “new in town” for real and for true.    I first moved to Berkeley back in 1990-something, later left, later returned….  but in the context of things like local business real estate, financing, permitting, etc.    Hey, I’m new in town.    I’m the new guy.   My rolodex doesn’t have a lot of cards in it.   Relative to most of the players, I’m new in town.

    Yes, I straight up have in interest in creating a start-up here.   I’m not an investor other than in my own labor.   As I said in the same paragraph you are quoting out of context:  ” I do like that there’s some capital around here but my main investors are from elsewhere.”    So, yes, that’s a poorly constructed sentence you quoted there — I should have said “I am straight up interested in doing a start-up here, attracting some investment” but I abbreviated that in a slightly confusing way.   So, taking it out of context you can make it look like I was claiming to be moneybags but, well, I wasn’t.    The rest of the paragraph there makes it perfectly clear that that’s what I meant.  

    You, my friend, are in my book a pretty good argument against trying to do a start-up in town but at least you are slightly exceptional in that regard.

    Also, thanks for reminding me about that comment thread — I’d forgotten about Lances’s query for an experience report and I might have something to offer there soonish, knock on wood, if all goes well, etc. etc.

  5. CS wrote: I think it is just these sorts of irrelevant, legalistic technicalities that get people so exasperated with BL/TL.  You
    have said that people pick on you and gang up on you.  If you want
    those criticisms of you to stop, you should stop this sort of nonsense
    argument. 
    BL wrote: Charles, I have not made any argument:  I have described the facts of the case.

    Okay, you should stop repeating these sorts of irrelevant facts. 

    Note that this latest reply is another example of the petty, irrelevant technicalities that get people annoyed with you.  The point of my post was that your statements were irrelevant technicalities, I used the words “irrelevant” and “technicalities” repeatedly.  I used the word “argument” once. 

    Needless to say, you avoid the main point that your statements are irrelevant.  Instead, you pick out the isolated word “argument” and reply with a petty technicality about whether you are making an argument or not. 

    If you don’t want people to constantly get annoyed with you and therefore attack you, you should take a look at yourself and resolve to avoid this sort of petty technicality.

  6. If you are not making an argument, and if no one is challenging the fact that the school is not required to report certain crimes, why do you constantly bring it up in every discussion about BHS?

    It’s as though every time folks were sitting at a coffee shop talking about local restaurants you butted in and launched into a lengthy and convoluted monologue about the fact that restaurants are businesses. Nobody said they wasn’t, so why bring it up if you’re not trying to make a point?

  7. Tom Lord, posting as “Bruce Love”:
    “It’s hard being new in town and not really knowing anyone yet :-)”

    Tom Lord, posting as “Bruce Love”:
    “I am straight up looking to do some start-up investment here in Berkeley.”

    You stated that you had recently moved to the area.
    You stated that you were a capital investor.

    You lied.

  8. Charles, I have not made any argument:  I have described the facts of the case.

    It’s interesting to me that a handful of people who express hostility to the school mistake a description of the situation for an argument against these critics’ positions.  It is as if you are all asserting that the basic facts are your enemy.

  9. I think it is just these sorts of irrelevant, legalistic technicalities that get people so exasperated with BL/TL. 

    You have said that people pick on you and gang up on you.  If you want those criticisms of you to stop, you should stop this sort of nonsense argument.

    Technically, it is true that a school can have such a Draconian policy about reporting incidents that it can be challenged successfully in the courts, as you say.  Realistically, BHS has had such lenient policies about reporting in the past that they have a long way to go before they are anywhere near that point, so what you say is completely irrelevant to what is going on there. 

    They just changed their practice so that they now report all robberies to the police, as you said in your article.  No one is talking about about a legal challenge to this new practice. 

    BHS needs several changes like these to change help change its culture and to make students realize that certain forms of behavior are unacceptable.

    Reporting students to the police if they intimidate and rob someone, if they threaten to throw someone down the stairs or if they threaten to shoot someone after school is not the same as reporting students if they steal a pencil. 

    So stop wasting our time with your endless repetitions of legal technicalities that would apply if they were thinking about reporting students who steal pencils and that do not apply at all the real situation as it exists today.

  10. You demonstrate that you partly understand the legal issues, but only partly so far.

    As you recognize, schools are not required to make certain reports — they have discretion.   One part you seem to still be missing is that the discretion is not free whimsy:  school’s must be equitable and fair in their exercise of that discretion.

    Districts have a positive legal obligation to provide schooling.   This is their main business.   Injudiciously excessive invocation of the police is one way that schools around the country can and do sometimes get in trouble for failing to live up to their positive obligation to run public schools.   The legislation around what discretion schools have exists precisely so that not every kind of incident automatically results in bringing in the police — and so that some very specific kinds of incident do mandate bringing in the police.

    Also, when in response to some kinds of incident a school chooses not to invoke the police, the school has a positive legal obligation to protect student privacy.   Via a court the police can inquire — but the schools are required to impose that barrier.   This is an example of why, sometimes, it is hard to get information from a school about some incident:   if the school were just blabbermouth about it (even if only to the police) they can get in real trouble.    The law in this area mandates the sharing of some information with some people — and forbids the non-court-ordered sharing of other information.

    It is against concerns like that that the district must balance opposing concerns about how best to crack down on incidents such as robberies.   My article described these opposing concerns in the context of robbery reporting.   Apparently this upsets you.

  11. No, Sharkey, that’s not actually what I said.  It wasn’t what I said when you first made that accusation.  It still isn’t.

  12. Anyone with a computer can search through your old posts and see your long, long history of knit-picking anything Laura posts about BHS, and making excuses for BHS’s refusal to treat serious crimes seriously.

    So, I find you a pretty difficult person with which to have a constructive discussion.

    Oh God, the irony.

  13. Tom, you have a history of lying here on Berkeleyside.
    After your original account got banned for harassing the writers and editors of Berkeleyside, you came back under this “Bruce Love” identity and lied about who you are, claiming to be an investor who had just moved to Berkeley and wanted to invest in light manufacturing in West Berkeley. Mostly, it would seem, because an investor of that kind would strengthen your arguments against changing the zoning in West Berkeley.

    So given that you have a history of lying to support your arguments, why would anyone trust you on this issue?

  14. This is not new information, we heard all this during the discussion about principal Jim Slemp abuses of power, you criticized me in the same hyperbolic manner and you were wrong then as you are wrong now.

  15. From my perspective, I wrote a fairly banal article that reports about the school’s robbery reporting practices, analyzing briefly how the issues involved relate to community concerns and the law.    I don’t think that the article argues that the school’s practice is good or bad.   It simply describes what is the case.    Apparently, this offended you.

    In response, Laura, you launched into an attack on my character and Becky’s.  You three times, now, accused us of … i’m not quite clear … stealing information from you or something.   Now, I gather, I am accused of joining an alleged decades old conspiracy to maliciously trample victims’ rights.   To try to prove some of this, if I understand you correctly, you posted some email that seems to say nothing that supports your accusations.

    So, I find you a pretty difficult person with which to have a constructive discussion.  I do try sometimes.  More importantly, I think that the kind of “heat”  you bring drowns out a lot of “light” about the school system.  If the community is supposed to help pressure the school into doing the right things, the community needs to have some understanding of what is really going on.   I think that when you speak publicly in the manner you have in some of the comments here, in my opinion, you are more likely to confuse the public about what is going on than to help them.   I guess I would also say that I think some of your comments are particularly unfair to  a lot of people, including myself.

  16. In  Conclusion,

    This is not a silly squabble among “difficult’ people.

    This is a serious matter exposing decades of bias and  discriminatory practice  by BUSD/BHS against victims of school based crime. This debate occurred here because Charles posted TL BDP “News Analysis”.

    The central conflict is quite simple, it there any real reason to trust BUSD/BHS to use their “discretionary’ power fairly, or that their new “practice” is informed out of their concerns for victims rights.

    We have plenty of evidence to the contrary, which is why BUSD has been pressured into this current concessions. As I have stated before, other important concessions are needed to make a shift in school culture to the benefit of all.

    The personal debate here is about TL/BL motivations, and the public debate is about the BUSD motivations.

    In a city that supposedly prides itself on grassroots activisim and the fight against discrimination, we parent activist who have direct experience of discrimination and fought the good fight for reforms are slighted and marginalized in the supposed “progressive” paper BDP.

    O’Malley showed her bias once again by calling BL piece New Analysis.  If she had placed his distortions in the Opinion column.  What is silly is the contention that the “reporter” acted independent of the information his editor requested of me two hours after I posted the quote from BUSD regarding policy/practice changes.

    I am done providing informed responses on this particular thread, as the real work happens elsewhere and we are busy.

  17. TL/BL wrote: “What I understood Susan Craig to say is that BHS is adopting a practice of simply reporting all robberies, even those it is not legally obligated to report.”

    I am glad to hear about the change in practice.  I am sorry that there was so much obfuscation and so many “legal technicalities” before that news finally became clear.

    Note to Laura: I have always found that Becky O’Malley is honest, and I would not blame her for any problems in reporting on this issue.  Becky has always had the admirable policy of publishing almost all opinion pieces submitted by community members.  She has published a number of my opinion pieces which I believe she disagrees with strongly.  So you should not hold her responsible for the content of opinion pieces in the Planet.

  18. Squabbling huh, and what do you perceive to be the disagreement, since you seem to be passing judgment that this debate is silly?

  19. From my perspective it is more like a few people ganging up on me, some of whom often do, and me trying to calmly and respectfully explain my view.

  20. Here is the full text of that email.    It was a response to something Laura sent to a number of people, including me.

    On Thu, 2011-08-25 at 02:34 -0700, Laura Menard wrote:
    > See BDP News Analysis posted below.
    >
    > Is it just me or can anyone make sense of this analysis, discretion or
    > do you mean selection? Could someone in authority please explain

    I am not “someone in authority” but I will be happy
    to explain some more details about what I learned while
    doing background research:

    > the distinction between a robbery on campus and a robbery downtown
    > during lunch? Because this interview does not offer any useful
    > information.

    A robbery is a robbery is a robbery — nobody is saying that
    robbery is defined differently on campus or anything like that.
    That’s not the issue.  That is a big misunderstanding that,
    in part, the article is trying to dispel.

    The issue is whether or not the school is legally required
    to *report* a robbery committed by a student under the school’s
    jurisdiction.  

    The victim of any crime (or their parent in the case of
    a student, etc) is always free to report a crime.

    For some crimes, the  school is legally obligated to report
    the crime.  For other crimes, the school is not obligated.

    Some kinds of robbery do not fit any of the laws about what
    the school *must* report.   The victim *may* report the robbery.
    The school *may* report the robbery (provided it treats students
    equally and fairly).  Yet, the school is legally permitted to not
    report some kinds of robbery and other campus crime — instead,
    they can handle it purely as a school discipline issue.

    So, how does Berkeley High School exercise that discretion?
    You had mentioned in a blog comment that there was some change
    in what the school would do – so I asked the director of student
    services for more information.

    What I understood Susan Craig to say is that BHS is adopting
    a practice of simply reporting all robberies, even those
    it is not legally obligated to report.

    This change in practice is, as I reported, partly motivated
    by community concerns like yours.  

    > Maybe the BDP can  tackle the problem of campus theft next, explaining
    > the difference between charges such as grand theft person and grand
    > theft with the more common BHS/BUSD discretionary practice, detain and
    > release to an adult over 25 years old.

    I don’t clearly understand what you think needs to be explained there.

    > This “analysis” also ignores common knowledge about law enforcements’
    > preference towards youth diversions programs whenever possible. 

    I’m not sure what your complaint is here.  The article
    explicitly mentions that the police have discretion.

    > BPD used to report they divert 95% of youth as non- violent first time
    > offenders away from probation. Not sure what the current percent is,
    > but surely that information makes for a more interesting and relevant
    > analysis.

    We have talked a little bit about doing some future articles
    exploring other aspects of the issues around student crime
    and around how the school tries to help kids in trouble.
    I’ll keep your suggestion in mind.

    > This is our family experience with the big choice DIVERSION or
    > PROBATION:

    It’s an interesting story and I’m glad things apparently
    worked out for you. 

    -t

  21. Here is a section of TL/BL response to me, his editor, and police/ school officials,he picks apart  a letter sent to Becky and him after I read his so-called analysis.(> indicates a comment from my original email)

    Take note he acknowledges discussion with BDP editor.

    I broke my rule and engaged TL because he is attempting to discredit our  community activism. If the goal is EARLY Intervention for high risk teens resulting in directing them away from  criminal behavior and towards high school graduation , then obviously  the first school based robbery matters. If the goal is fairness, justice and keeping kids in school, victims like my son have civil rights too. The chronic polarization politics  promoted in TL analysis is so old school and distorted it makes Berkeley a laughing stock. Public officials rather in the schools, city, police or DA, probation, CDE  all know what’s up, and these minor changes are barely sufficient to reach the goals of  the 2020 Vision. His distorted explanation  student confidentiality rules  is a mere extension of the deception  used  by both agencies BUSD and /CoB  for the past 15 years to avoid accountability and  the development of a multi-agency support system for at-risk youth.  TL research missed that fact.

    OK enough, I have provided sufficient  evidence that  any rational person truly concerned with improving outcomes should be able to shift through the shite.

    Thomas Lord sent  Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 9:13 AM

    > Is it just me or can anyone make sense of this analysis, discretion or

    > do you mean selection? Could someone in authority please explain

    I am not “someone in authority” but I will be happy

    to explain some more details about what I learned while

    doing background research:

    > This “analysis” also ignores common knowledge about law
    enforcements’
    > preference towards youth diversions programs whenever possible.

    I’m not sure what your complaint is
    here.  The article
    explicitly mentions that the police have discretion.

    > BPD used to report they divert 95% of youth as non- violent first time
    > offenders away from probation. Not sure what the current percent is,
    > but surely that information makes for a more interesting and relevant
    > analysis.

    We have talked a little bit about
    doing some future articles
    exploring other aspects of the issues around student crime
    and around how the school tries to help kids in trouble.
    I’ll keep your suggestion in mind.

    > This is our family experience with the big choice DIVERSION or
    > PROBATION:

    It’s an interesting story and I’m glad things
    apparently

    worked out for you.

  22. Nothing discussed between you and Becky inspired, informed, or was part of the article.

    You posted a slightly cryptic comment here about some change in how robberies are handled.  I became interested in the topic.   I made a note to call Susan Craig’s office after the weekend, which I did.   I made a list of questions over the weekend.  Did the interview on Tuesday.

    Oddly enough, other than being inspired by your original comment here on Berkeleyside, none of this had anything to do with you.   I don’t know who your source was for anything – and I don’t care.

    Please stop  falsely accusing other people of lying.

  23. Two emails from BDP editor titled Policy shift?

    On Fri, Aug 19, 2011 at 8:05 PM,
    Becky O’Malley wrote:

     

    Who’s your source for what appears to be a
    change in the reporting policy?
    Some of my sources within BUSD deny that
    it’s true….

    Fri,
    Aug 19, 2011 at 11:34 PM 

    Subject Re:
    Policy shift?

    Promised not to tell, probably won’t publish unless I can
    independently confirm.

  24. Laura Menard has for a second time said something false and defamatory.  She wrote:

    What I was referring to is how his BDP piece come about. O’Malley asked
    me who in BUSD make the statement I posted, and said her paper would
    not be doing a story, then she passed it to Thomas Lord, who continues
    to misrepresent his actions and interest in the matter.

    That is not how the piece came about.   Also I do not misrepresent my interest in the matter.

    I again ask Menard not to repeat her defamatory accusations.

  25. And what point, dear “Casual Observer,” do you think the posters here are missing?

    As a casual and impartial observer, why not be frank and to the point with your commentary?

  26. I don’t understand what anyone gets out of defending the lack of transparency and accountability from BHS when it comes to reporting crime.
    Perhaps I’m not exercising my brain enough, but I just can’t come up with a reasonable motivation for such behavior.

    Pure spite, perhaps?

  27. To answers questions

    BL/TL – Tr… = Super Troll

    Charles,  correct it would be hard to list all the way TL is misrerepresenting serious issues

    What I was referring to is how his BDP piece come about. O’Malley asked me who in BUSD make the statement I posted, and said her paper would not be doing a story, then she passed it to Thomas Lord, who continues to misrepresent his actions and interest in the matter.

    Anyone who has read Berkeleyside blog post for the last few years knows that everytime I post specific school safety administrations issues TL is biting at my ankles.

  28. It would be uncharitable to those who miss the point to describe the majority of these commenters as missing the point.

  29. Laura:
    Do you mean BL/TL is not telling the truth when he says:

    “Those three school officials have issued new guidance about the school’s reporting practices. When the school has discretion about reporting a robbery, the
    practice is now more explicitly to go ahead and inform the police. The police then have discretion about whether or not to pursue the incident as a criminal matter.” 

    He has made so many different and contradictory statements that it is hard to know which statement you are talking about when you say: “BL/TL is not telling the truth here.”

  30. Also, what is a “super tr…..”?

    I get that it’s supposed to be an insult but what does the “tr….” stand for?

  31. Laura you wrote: “BL/TL is not telling the truth here”

    Yes, I am telling the truth.   Please do not repeat such defamation.

  32. Laura you wrote: “BL/TL is not telling the truth here”

    Yes, I am telling the truth.   Please do not repeat such defamation.

  33. BL/TL is not telling the truth here.

    He wrote the “analysis” piece ( he should apply for the BUSD PIO job when Coplan retires)

    Because Becky O’Malley sent me a personal email asking me who in the district provided the information I posted about changes to reporting and investigation policy/practice.  Becky misrepresented her intentions to me in a series of emails, I have told her I will not longer provide information or background for her benefit.

    TL/BL is a super tr…..

    not a journalist by any stretch of the imagination, his rhetoric is intend to confuse not illuminate.  that is why I describe his approach as obnoxious.

    He writes an opinion piece, describes it as new analysis and then uses the royal “we” in a ugly mean spirited division manner.

    end of story.

  34. Your convoluted arguments never cease to amaze me.  Let me quote from your own article in the BDP:

    “Craig says that Superintendent Bill Huyet, Principle Pasquale Scuderi
    and Craig herself have discussed how to exercise the school’s
    discretion in reporting robberies. They did this in consultation with
    Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan. “Those three school
    officials have issued new guidance about the school’s reporting
    practices. When the school has discretion about reporting a robbery, the
    practice is now more explicitly to go ahead and inform the police. The
    police then have discretion about whether or not to pursue the incident
    as a criminal matter.”

    So, according to you, they have changed their guidelines, as I said above, and as you obfuscated in your latest reply by talking about the “technicalities of the law” and finally saying

    “My impression from how Craig spoke of these concerns is that the
    district deeply respects both concerns and tries to find as right a
    balance as they can.”

    Despite your vague description (“as right a
    balance as they can”), your own article says the balance that Craig thinks is right has changed recently, no?

    I will have to make an effort to spend less time discussing issues with you, which is like trying to nail Jello to the wall.

  35. Charles, you have twice now claimed that I made some argument which you have discredited.   I have nowhere made the argument you are talking about.

    Back to the technicalities of the law:  The discretion which schools enjoy is not an arbitrary discretion.  If a school is too eager to call in the police or too lax, they can get in trouble (e.g., get sued).   If a school’s exercise of the discretion results in inequity, they can get in trouble that way, as well.

    In that sense, a “rule” like what you propose is problematic:

    My own opinion is that they should not report a theft of a 69 cent
    snack, but they should report threats of violence.  They should not use
    their discretion to ignore serious threats of violence, [….]

    I think that most would agree that those are good rules of thumb.  The issue is that the specifics of each particular incident matter.    As with any good rule of thumb, exceptions to the rule won’t be surprising.

    After those rules of thumb, you wrote something else:

    They should not use their discretion to ignore serious threats of violence, as they have in the past.

    Are you saying that the school’s purpose was to “ignore serious threats of violence” and for that purpose they “[used] their discretion” about crime reporting? 

    I have not seen any credible evidence in support of such an allegation.   My opinion is that loose rhetoric like that is a big part of the problem in the communications between the public and the school.

    According to your article, they have recently changed the way that they
    use their discretion, and they have started reporting more crimes.  I
    expect that the policy change was caused by public pressure, including
    articles and comments in Berkeleyside.

    Susan Craig noted to me two contrasting community concerns which the administration is thinking about as they adjust the disciplinary practice:  One community concern is that the school can be too soft on crime;  another community concern is that the school can needlessly and harmfully criminalize what should really be school discipline issues.  There is tension about how to reconcile those two concerns.   My impression from how Craig spoke of these concerns is that the district deeply respects both concerns and tries to find as right balance as they can.

    Finally, you wrote:

    Please try to remember that we are discussing how they SHOULD use their discretion.  I don’t think anyone is saying that they have absolutely
    no discretion about what crimes to report.

    My interest in this topic was sparked by earlier Berkeleyside comments.   Laura Menard described “questions” about how the school interprets state law.   I asked her to clarify a bit — was the school violating the law?   Was the school misinterpreting some part of the law?   She declined to answer but she did mention something about a change in the handling of robberies.     So, I asked the district’s main expert on such policies vis a vis the law, Susan Craig.

  36. Back to discredited argument number 1.  See my reply above to your point about a student robbing a pencil.

    Yes, the school has discretion not to report a theft of a 69 cent snack.  The school also has discretion not to report it when Laura’s son was threatened with “pushing him down the stairs, taking a bat to him at lunch, or shooting our house.”

    Yes, that is the law.  The school has lots of discretion to decide which crimes to report to police.

    Now, we are discussing how they should use that discretion.  My own opinion is that they should not report a theft of a 69 cent snack, but they should report threats of violence.  They should not use their discretion to ignore serious threats of violence, as they have in the past. 

    According to your article, they have recently changed the way that they use their discretion, and they have started reporting more crimes.  I expect that the policy change was caused by public pressure, including articles and comments in Berkeleyside. 

    Please try to remember that we are discussing how they SHOULD use their discretion.  I don’t think anyone is saying that they have absolutely no discretion about what crimes to report.

  37. You seem to misunderstand.

    The law does not make schools mandatory reporters for typical thefts.    The law allows schools to handle such incidents administratively – as a school disciplinary matter.   BUSD  / BHS policy and practice retains this discretion.    As an example, similar to your description of what your son went through, the theft of a $0.69 snack would not automatically trigger calling in the police — the school would have a choice assuming that overall it was treating students equally and fairly.

    These are just the facts of the legal landscape.   I am not “[ignoring] such fundamental understanding” I am reporting what is actually the case in the law, policies and practices.

  38. As reported by TL:
    “Craig suggested another scenario that highlights the slight absurdity of
    the distinctions being drawn: Suppose that a student leaves a backpack
    in a locker room from which, while the student is away, valuable
    property is stolen. In the eyes of the law this is not a robbery – it’s a
    theft. Such a theft is not something that would be automatically
    reported — it is a discretionary question. ”

    Anyone reviewing any east bay cities crime stats knows that the majority of robberies these days are  committed using guns. If the district is serious about reducing guns on campus referring all school based robberies to BPD should be a priority. Theft is a crime of opportunity.

    I expect TL to ignore such fundamental understanding, but I hope the BUSD director responsible for school safety did not really make the comment as TL reported.

  39. As reported by TL:
    “Craig suggested another scenario that highlights the slight absurdity of
    the distinctions being drawn: Suppose that a student leaves a backpack
    in a locker room from which, while the student is away, valuable
    property is stolen. In the eyes of the law this is not a robbery – it’s a
    theft. Such a theft is not something that would be automatically
    reported — it is a discretionary question. ”

    Anyone reviewing any east bay cities crime stats knows that the majority of robberies these days are  committed using guns. If the district is serious about reducing guns on campus referring all school based robberies to BPD should be a priority. Theft is a crime of opportunity.

    I expect TL to ignore such fundamental understanding, but I hope the BUSD director responsible for school safety did not really make the comment as TL reported.

  40. In reply to TL, it is not the parent’s job to tell school administration what steps should be taken when a crime of “intimidation” occurs — actually, if I imply even vaguely that I might cause harm to my neighbor, it isn’t considered intimidation, it is considered a threat and legal action is the normal recourse. When a teenager states to another teenager that they might kick them down the stairs, beat them with a bat or shoot them, it has gone far beyond intimidation and is a crime of intent to commit bodily harm. That is a crime and should be reported to the police, there shouldn’t be any question about that. 

    Thomas, imagine what it would feel like to have your child(ren) in a Berkeley School, where they are not protected, where you have no power to do anything about it. Try putting yourself the shoes of a scared/hurt/demoralized student, or their parents. It’s frightening that this shite happens to some kids, and that the schools obfuscate what’s happening, under-report, and then — outrageously — come out with statements that only serve to protect those who have hurt or threaten to hurt your children. Then, to add insult to injury. Seriously, TL. Put yourself in someone else’s place and try to THINK about how it would feel. Then, if you can wrap your head around that, try to THINK about reporting on BEHALF of the people of this town, rather than give voice to the bureaucratic rhetoric that has been asphyxiating our school district and our city for half a century. 

  41. from one BL comment:  “Shall the school now call in the police for every stolen pencil?”

    From another BL comment: “I wonder what specific things you think the school should have done about the intimidation. … I don’t expect that schools can always prevent bad things like that from happening.”

  42. When the threats come from school computers during class time, there is plenty the school can do. I provided VP Scuderi with live tracking of a student in English class posting a threat.

  43. I’m sorry Charles, I didn’t think you said anything that called for a response but I gather you expected one. So, here:

    The school has policies and practices about when to report crimes.   The news my article talks about is an adjustment to current practices.

    You say some false things:

    You say “First your argument is that they shouldn’t report students to the police for stealing a pencil.”   I nowhere have made any such argument.

    You say “When that argument fails, the new one is that there is nothing they can do when students assault or intimidate other students”.   I have not said anything of the sort.

    A number of people I have spoken with find my writing on these topics reasonably clear but apparently it is not clear to you.

  44. No response from TL/BL to my comment saying:  “It is no harder to draw up guidelines that have them report all
    significant crimes than it is to draw up guidelines that exclude many
    significant crimes.”

    If that is true, then the school could have had guidelines requiring them to report this significant crime to the police.

    To be frank, I think you just grasp at one straw after another.  First your argument is that they shouldn’t report students to the police for stealing a pencil.  When that argument fails, the new one is that there is nothing they can do when students assault or intimidate other students. You just discredit yourself by shifting your ground in this way.

  45. Ok.  I understand you to have earlier accused the school district of refusing to take actions  that they ought to have in this intimidation case —  and that now you yourself refuse to specify what actions they refused to take because you consider it obnoxious to ask the question.

    When I wrote my article for that other news outlet, one of my main hopes was to help those who care about school safety to begin to separate the light from the heat, so to speak.

  46.  
    Right on Charles,

    and the never ending rationalization for misplacing blame.

    As if I would ever respond to TL with the details to his obnoxious line of questioning .

    of course the school discipline code contains specific instruction for handling harassment and threats. And of course the courts have the authority, and yes the DA instructed BPD to bring in the threats so he could take action.

  47. I understand you to be saying that your son was being intimidated — perhaps to a criminal degree — by verbal threats.   I think that everyone agrees that that is a particularly pernicious form of crime.

    I can’t see, from the details given, what  you think the school should have done that they did not do.

    For example, you say that the school officials “refused to take actions” to protect Jason.   Well, what actions exactly did they refuse to take?   Without that information, it is unclear whether the officials were acting as required by law, and/or responsibly, or irresponsibly and/or in violation of the law.

    It’s pretty clear to everyone, I think, from your accounts that some very bad and unjust things happened to Jason.   I don’t expect that schools can always prevent bad things like that from happening.   I think that the police and the courts are there as the main place to go with the kind of intimidation you describe.

    I wonder what specific things you think the school should have done about the intimidation that the school allegedly refused to do.

  48. I would say that the one thing that did the most to discredit the left and cause the dominance of the right during the late 20th century is the fact that many on the left cared more about protecting criminals than about protecting the victims of crime.

  49. For folks actually concerned with reducing BHS violence and protecting the civil rights of  VICTIMS of school based crime, keep your eye on the district’s response to the BHS School Safety plan recommendation suggesting the district/ police codify reporting guidelines and complete this process by the end of 2011/12 school year.

    TL/BL fails to distinguish between the legal requirement to INVESTIGATE any violent (part ) school based crime and the district state mandated reporting requirements for SB 187 planning purposes. 

    Teenage victim have the same rights as adults, they should expect a felony crime be properly investigated as per state law. That is what is at stake here, Craig and Huyett are conceding that victims of school- based crime can NOW  expect the admin will make a referral to the police.

    The rest of TL/BL  purposeful conflation and pandering to evasive public official is not worth considering.

    What is worth considering though is the fact that BPD prides itself for diverting 100% of eligible offenders to programs and away from the dreaded criminal justice system.

    It is also worth considering that the school board or city develop SHOULD develop survey tools for qualitative purposes to evaluate student and parents experience following a report of victimization.

    For instance, my son Jason’s experience arrested  at 14 years old for a .69 cent theft from Andronico’s Telegraph store. BPD referred him for diversion to  McCullum Youth Court, which included  200 hours of participation in reform programming. During the intake interview the director of McCullum I decided that the program particpation would actually harm my son, since he would required to take anger management training with teens responsible for  neighborhood beatdowns, and my son was traumatized by a brutal hate crime when is was barely 10 years old.

    We declined the diversion option and took our chances with the dreaded probation “criminal” system.
    Alameda County probation dept laughed saying ” lady don’t worry, this case is not likely to even be filed, the dept is overwhelmed with teens in gangs capable of  homicide”.
    Jason since received financial aid and is graduating from college in March, despite the poor BHS preparation for college.

    Next consider that as a senior Jason was forced out of  school because BHS chose to use discretionary practice to protect the offenders and punish the victim.  The principal, VP and Supt refused to take actions in protecting Jason from  threats of retaliation for reporting a violent crime. The threats included statement suggesting pushing him down the stairs, taking a bat to him at lunch, or shooting our house.

    See EBX feature story “party 2 nite R U goin”

    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/party-2-nite-r-u-going/Content?oid=1088052

    if you have the stomach for it read the confusing logic exhibited by teens in the comments section resembling domestic violence syndrome.

    The biggest reason the community is misinformed so much of the time is simple; VICTIMS voices are marginalized and dogmatic types, i.e. TL/BL , make lame attempts to discredit our efforts to force legal compliance from a rogue agency.

  50. “The legislative intent of the rules that exist is to avoid automatically criminalizing students.”

    As you said in your article, if the school reports crimes that does not criminalize the students.  The police still have discretion to decide whether to prosecute it as a crime and criminalize the students. 

    “Shall the school now call in the police for every stolen pencil?  every
    disruption of class? every shoving match on the playground? …”

    Disruption of class is not a crime.  You do make a good point, though, that the school needs guidelines that stop it from reporting trivial incidents such as a typical shoving match on the playground. 

    Wherever they draw the line, they need guidelines so they treat all students equally.  For example, if they decide not to report any thefts, they would need a guideline saying so.  If they decide not to report thefts of pencils, they would need a guideline saying they do not report thefts of property worth less than, say, $2.00, but report all thefts of property worth more than that.

    It is no harder to draw up guidelines that have them report all significant crimes than it is to draw up guidelines that exclude many significant crimes.

  51. Charles, one small thing.  You wrote:

    Nevertheless, what you say implies that schools have the right to report all crimes to the police.   // If that is their policy for all crimes, then they are treating all students equally.

    Perhaps but more likely not — I don’t think it is as simple a question as you think.   Let’s imagine a hypothetical school where a new administration comes in and makes that policy.   Shall the school now call in the police for every stolen pencil?  every disruption of class? every shoving match on the playground? every cigarette sneaked? for every swiss army knife mistakenly left in a backpack? and so forth?   

    Such a plan would have logistical problems.  Such a plan would likely not be a policy very popular with the police or the school.   Most importantly, such a policy could easily run afoul of the law: schools and districts lose lawsuits about excessive policing.

    The legislative intent of the rules that exist is to avoid automatically criminalizing students.   Schools have, in effect, policing and and judiciary powers of their own precisely so that they won’t automatically report everything which is a technical crime to the police.

  52. I read english.  I read the code.  I read court decisions.  I have been involved on the winning side in a few pro se cases and disputes, representing myself and supporting another who was self representing.

    What I wish that more people more clearly understood is that although the law is intimidating, with patience it is quite accessible to most people.   The mythology that, to borrow from Laurie Anderson, “only an expert can deal with problem” is harmful.

  53. I guess I misunderstood your earlier comments, thinking that you said students had blanket protection because of their privacy rights, while they actually have privacy protection only if the school decided initially to treat their crimes as administrative matters.

    Nevertheless, what you say implies that schools have the right to report all crimes to the police. 

    If that is their policy for all crimes, then they are treating all students equally.  If that is their policy for all crimes, then there are no crimes that have been treated administratively and that have privacy problems.

    So, let us not hear any comments in the future saying that the schools do not have the right to report all crimes to the police.

  54. I wonder, Tom, if you could list your qualifications as a legal expert that allow you to make pronouncements on what the law does or does not allow?

    Thanks.

  55. Charles, your understanding of my earlier comments is slightly but importantly mistaken:

    Schools have a positive legal obligation to protect student privacy in many ways.  Schools, districts, and individuals can get into all kinds of trouble if they improperly share information about students — including information about the kinds of disciplinary trouble that students get into.

    When a school has discretion to treat an incident as a crime and call the police, or to handle it administratively as a school discipline issue, the privacy rules hang in the balance.   If the school handles the incident administratively, then it must keep many of the details private (even from the police) except as explicitly specified in law or by a court.   There is some information schools must or may share, and other information that they have to keep private.   It’s a very complicated area which is why I didn’t try cover it in any detail in such a short article.

    So, consider a robbery that happens under the school’s jurisdiction:  if a school did handle it as an administrative issue, then some of the details have privacy protections.

    It gets a little more complicated:

    Constitutional protections and civil rights law require that in deciding what to report, and what handle administratively, schools must treat students equally and fairly.

    So, if some incident occurs and it is of a sort that the school normally treats administratively — then in that sense they must handle the new incident the same way.    Schools can alter their policies and practices in this area — but they must be consistent and fair.

  56. People may be interested in this Berkeley Daily Planet Opinion piece.  Here are a few excerpts:
    http://berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2011-08-24/article/38294?headline=Dear-Students-Stop-Robbing-Start-Learning-Please-News-Analysis-

    Dear Students: Stop Robbing, Start Learning (Please) (News Analysis)

    By Thomas Lord

    The school is legally required to report some robberies such as those
    that involve weapons or sexual assaults. In other cases, the school has
    discretion so long as they apply that discretion equally and fairly to
    all students.

    Craig says that Superintendent Bill Huyet, Principle Pasquale Scuderi
    and Craig herself have discussed how to exercise the school’s
    discretion in reporting robberies. They did this in consultation with
    Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan. 

    Those three school
    officials have issued new guidance about the school’s reporting
    practices. When the school has discretion about reporting a robbery, the
    practice is now more explicitly to go ahead and inform the police. The
    police then have discretion about whether or not to pursue the incident
    as a criminal matter.

    One important reason that schools are not obligated to report every
    robbery to the police is to protect student privacy. As the district
    attempts to satisfy community concerns by reporting every robbery
    incident, it also puts student privacy at risk.

    (I may have misunderstood, but I got the impression from some of his earlier posts on Berkeleyside that Thomas Lord claimed the school was forbidden by law from reporting some crimes to police, because they would be violating the student’s right to privacy.  In this article, he says that they are required to report some crimes and have discretion about others. The law allows them to report all crimes.)

    (In my own opinion, if you commit a crime, you forfeit some of your right to privacy, at least to this extent: If you commit a crime, then a police report on that crime does not violate your right to privacy.)

Comments are closed.