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Parents Upset Over Oakland School Closures Protest On Final Day

OAKLAND (KCBS) - On Friday, classes at Lakeview Elementary School in Oakland were dismissed for the last time ever. But protests over the closure of the small school, along with four others, showed no sign of letting up.

Parents who staged a sit-in outside Lakeview said the cost-cutting decision last fall to close five Oakland elementary schools is part of an epidemic afflicting public schools across the nation.

"They're taking public education away from all of our children," said Joel Vazquez, whose three children must instead enroll at a larger school in the fall.

KCBS' Anna Duckworth Reports:

Opponents have charged the elementary school closures affect more than 1,000 of the neediest children served by the Oakland Unified School District.

The closure plan has sparked several demonstrations, and even shut down a school board meeting in March.

A lawsuit filed by a parent in April alleged closing Lakeview and the other schools—Lazear, Marshall, Maxwell Park and Santa Fe—amounts to discrimination against low-income minority students.

A spokesman for the school district said the school board had no intention to reconsider or reverse course on a plan they said was executed for the benefit of the entire school system.

The protesters put up a large orange sign outside the school, its message, "Farewell, Lakeview" visible to passing traffic on Grand Avenue. While the demonstration might not save any of the schools, Vazquez said district officials needed to rethink how taxpayer dollars are spent on education.

"Not only do we need to stop school closures, but we need to demand the district to put the money where it's needed," he said, "in the classrooms, and not for administrators and not for consultants."

Teachers, he said, are not the ones who should be held accountable for the failure of a school system.

"Demand number one is to stop the school closures. Demand number two is to take care of teachers and children first. Teachers' environment equals our children's environment," he said.

One teacher who participated in the sit-in said her students dreaded losing a small school environment where all the children know each other and have grown up with beloved teachers.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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