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Oakland School Board President's Home Vandalized

OAKLAND (KPIX) -- The debate over Oakland school closures has escalated from heated conversations to active vandalism. The Oakland Unified School District board president said that, in addition to a protest in front of his house, someone broke his front window.

Board president Dr. Gary Yee said it happened not long after a passionate school board meeting on Friday night. A group of protesters reportedly marched to his Oakland Hills home.

"I can hear the whistles and the horns at 11:30 at night," Yee said.

The 76-year-old grandfather and his wife were coming back from a walk in the neighborhood. They waited from a distance for the protesters to leave.

"As I was approaching my house, I was confronted, let's say, by two people who came out of the shadows and challenged me and that was a little worrisome. We walked away," Yee said.

Broken Glass From Window of Dr. Gary Yee OUSD Board Member
Broken glass from a window at residence of Dr. Gary Yee, OUSD board member

He later found a broken front window. Someone also damaged a light sensor that was mounted above his garage.

"I have to admit it made me feel vulnerable. (It) does give you some pause that somebody may be fired up about something that (was) said (at the board meeting) and might do something rash," Yee said.

Yee and the majority of the board had recently voted to close three schools and merge two others. They reaffirmed their decision in Friday night's special board meeting and that made a lot of people angry.

READ MORE: Oakland School Board Votes to Proceed With Planned Campus Closures

He said the district is facing a structural deficit of about $40 million.

State educators and Oakland Unified said the district has way too many schools after losing 15,000 students in the last 20 years.

The OUSD chief budget officer pointed out that this district has about 80 schools serving 33,000 students. Fremont Unified has 42 schools and 34,000 students. San Jose Unified has 41 schools and 30,000 students. Stockton has 48 schools serving 35,000 students.

"We have some elementary schools that have almost 700 students and we have some that are down to about 100 students," Yee said.

Opponents said the closures affect mostly low-income Black and Brown students. They believe the district is mismanaging the budget and should cut elsewhere, not schools.

One speaker who opposed the school closures said in Friday's board meeting "if you have a problem and that problem is over-budgeting, you don't solve that problem by taking away the service that you're supposed to provide."

So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the vandalism at Yee's house. Many people who opposed the closures said that, while they disagree with Yee's vote, the vandalism was wrong.

The district said the closure of three schools and merger of two schools will happen after the end of this school year.

The district will have to look at more closures and consolidations next year.

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