A group of Oakland parents, frustrated by a nearly two-year battle to remove a reportedly abusive teacher, went on strike Thursday, pulling their children out of school and onto a picket line at the district's downtown headquarters.
Close to 80 percent of Lazear Elementary School's 300 students didn't show up for school Thursday - a loss of almost $9,000 in state funding for the day - and apparently a wake-up call for district and teachers union officials who met with the parents Thursday afternoon to try to resolve the issue.
The boycott was a last resort for the parents, who were tired of the time-consuming and egregious process of getting rid of someone they say is a bad teacher.
The kids at the school mostly come from low-income, Hispanic families. The school is next to a highway (the grim I-880) and is apparently a dumping ground for lousy teachers with tenure. The principal is griping because - get this - you shouldn't be pulling kids out of school a week before standardized testing starts.
In nearly two years of teaching at Lazear, the veteran third-grade teacher has repeatedly left his pupils unattended in the classroom and on the schoolyard, physically manhandled students, told children to "shut up," and at one point locked a girl in the classroom because she wasn't moving fast enough, said Olga Galavíz González, a parent organizer at the school.
Students fear him, she said.