Oakland, CA – Oakland City Council President Kaplan with Councilmembers Nikki Bas (District 2), Sheng Thao (District 4), and Noel Gallo (District 5) passed a resolution with friendly amendments from Councilmember Dan Kalb (District 1) funding restorative justice, libraries, and foster youth case managers for Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) at the Tuesday, April 16th City Council meeting.
On March 4th, 2019, OUSD made $21.75 million in budgetary cuts to meet state monitoring requirements around fiscal solvency. The budget cuts deeply impacted the District’s nationally recognized Restorative Justice program, the foster youth case management program, and also included a re-allocation of library funds.
These programs are paramount for the emotional and educational well-being of Oakland students, and for that reason, Council President Kaplan has introduced, along with her colleagues Councilmembers Bas, Gallo, and Thao, one-time funding for the restorative justice program, foster youth case managers, and libraries at OUSD. The City of Oakland has experienced higher than usual real estate transfer tax revenue, and the councilmembers are seeking to direct some of that revenue towards this end.
Said Council President Kaplan: “There are immediate critical needs in our schools for the restorative justice program and for qualified foster youth case managers that build relationships with the students to help them succeed. It is important the Council assure these hard-working people do not have to worry about being laid off, and to assure our students have consistency in staff.” In terms of foster youth, one study points out that, “by 3rd grade, 80 percent of foster children have had to repeat a grade in school.” Ensuring that case managers continue for foster youth supports one of our most vulnerable academic subgroups.
The restorative justice program moves children toward healthy and healing ways of dealing with violence and trauma instead of punitive measures such as suspension and expulsion and studies show that it disrupts to school to prison pipeline. OUSD parent Bobbi Lopez and Kaplan staffer agrees, saying “In kindergarten, my son was having trouble with a group of boys, and our Restorative Justice coordinator/coach immediately formed a boy’s socio-emotional group, that included all the kids, and my son became joyful about coming to school and other children began received much needed counseling.”
School Board member Shanti Gonzales said of this Resolution, “OUSD values its community schools model because supporting students is no longer just about their reading and arithmetic, but about their emotional and social well-being, and this money will help us overcome this difficult moment.”