Bay City News Service—Police cleared a sit-in this morning that for 17 days has occupied an Oakland elementary school slated for closure this year, an Oakland Unified School District spokesman said.
The sit-in at Lakeview Elementary School, 746 Grand Ave., started last month in reaction to the district's plan to close five elementary schools to consolidate students.
Oakland school district police arrived at the site shortly before 4 a.m. and told protesters to leave the premises, OUSD spokesman Troy Flint said.
Most of the people there dispersed over the next two hours, but a few who were not at the school when police arrived are returning today to collect their belongings, Flint said. The building itself appears to have been vacated.
Two protesters who indicated to officers that they did not intend leave were arrested shortly after 6 a.m., Flint said.
"Even though the squatters were trespassing we allowed them to stay for 17 days to make their point," he said. "Finally we moved in because we have to begin with preparations for the next school year."
While the school closed its doors to students at the end of this school year, the building will be repurposed as offices for the family services unit, which encompasses non-academic district offices. The district plans to house the district's enrollment office, translation office and anti-violence unit and other offices there, Flint said.
He said the decision was made because Oakland currently serves 17,000 fewer students than it did 10 years ago, and that the elementary schools needed to be consolidated to provide better services.
"Right now we're spread too thin to serve students properly," he said.
Superintendent Tony Smith has said the school closures will save the district $2 million annually. The other four elementary schools the district plans to close are Lazear, Marshall, Maxwell Park and Santa Fe.
As many as 40 people had been camping at Lakeview Elementary throughout the protest, and others visited during the days when protesters held larger rallies and summer school classes. Protesters have announced plans to hold a rally at the school at 5 p.m. today.
Copyright © 2012 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.
Don't miss a day of Piedmont news, opinion and events. Sign up for the Piedmont Patch daily e-newsletter here.