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Teachers, Students Detail Troubles At Oakland Middle School

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) -- Educators at the Alliance Academy in Oakland said a recent fight between a substitute teacher and a student is just the tip of the iceberg.

Since the beginning of the school year, the Oakland Unified School District has expelled five students from Alliance Academy and police have responded to the campus at least 13 times. The district admitted Thursday that is a high number for the small campus, which has around 360 children ages 10-13.

"We've had drugs, alcohol, we have students who are cutting consistently," said Faris Jabbar, an 8th grade teacher. "Fights, threats, violence."

Recently, a student of the school was arrested in connection with the April 2nd killing of off-duty paramedic Quinn Boyer.

Teachers at Alliance who spoke to KPIX 5 blamed a lack of support from the principal and a failure to build a culture of respect on campus.

"It creates a culture of instability," said Alliance teacher Joanna Fernandez. "Our kids do crave structure. And they thrive when learning in a structured environment."

The district said it's tough to build any relationships with the students when the school has had three different principals in the past four years. There is also a high turnover of teachers at the school.

"We have provided extra administrators and retired administrators who are wise elders that can come back and give the benefit of their experience, and provide an extra set of eyes and ears," said Oakland Unified School District spokesperson Troy Flint.

Cellphone Video Of Brawl (Graphic Language)

It's a big challenge. During KPIX 5's visit to the school on Thursday, administrators told us to run for safety, after nearby police activity put the school on a brief lockdown.

Students said it is tough to learn here. "I don't feel that safe because, like almost constantly there are a lot of fights in school," said Quezada Ibarra, a 6th grader.

Oakland Unified has doubled security at Alliance Academy from one security guard to two. The district is also giving more help to the principal to try to build stability among faculty and students.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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