One of the inner courtyards at Berkeley High
Unruly behavior at Berkeley High on Rally Day this year has prompted the district superintendent to concentrate on finding new leadership for the school. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

In response to unruly behavior on the Berkeley High campus Oct. 24, and the current absence of top leadership at the school, Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Donald Evans has asked the school’s former principal to take a more active role in the day-to-day running of the school, and has committed to having a new principal in place by July 1, 2015.

In an email sent to the Berkeley High community Tuesday, Evans said the problems that occurred on Rally Day at Berkeley High demonstrated that the district had “much more work to do.”

A Berkeley High staffer was sent to the hospital with a head injury sustained during what the school described as a mob scene involving an estimated 500 mostly junior and senior students “participating in hazing and bullying behavior,” chanting and throwing objects, including glass bottles after school let out on Friday Oct. 24. While trying to break up the mob, two additional staff members were hit. Fifteen students were found to be intoxicated and were suspended.

Kristin Glenchur, interim principal at Berkeley High, is on medical leave through Thanksgiving. Photo: BUSD

Evans said the district had identified “several proactive strategies to ensure the safety of students during certain school events.” These include “additional parent presence on campus, more consistent communications around events and expectations earlier in the fall, and coordination with our school resource officer and our partners at Berkeley Police Department.”

Assistant Superintendent Pasquale Scuderi will attend Administrative Team meetings every week on the Berkeley High campus and review, and provide support for, key decisions being made at the school level until Interim Principal Kristin Glenchur returns after the Thanksgiving break, Evans said. Glenchur took an unforeseen medical leave in mid-September shortly after the current academic year began.

Read the perspective of a Berkeley High senior on the Rally Day incident.

Vice principals Ashley Milton and Jorge Melgoza have been managing the school while also overseeing their departments and programs in her absence.

Evans said his focus for the next six months will be on recruiting a new principal for Berkeley High, with the help of a search firm that will be selected in December. “My goal is to have an offer made to a new principal in March, with a start date of July 1, 2015,” he said.

Op-ed: Admin, students share blame for BHS Rally Day mob (10.29.14)
BHS staffer sent to hospital, 15 students suspended due to mob involving drinking, bullying (10.27.14)

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...