OAKLAND – Controversy surrounding the library at Castlemont Community of Small Schools flared Sept. 26 at an Oakland Unified School District Board of Education meeting, when directors Alice Spearman and Gregory Hodges asked why the Castlemont did not have a fully functioning library.

“There are some things a school has to have. They have to have libraries,” said Spearman.

While there is a library room at Castlemont, it is less than half the size it was in 2004 when the underperforming school was split into three smaller schools that share one campus. That’s when principals at the three schools reprioritized their budgets with an eye towards improving attendance and student performance, and school librarian, Lillian Webb was laid off.


Markeshia James and Shakora Cowart testify at the Sept. 26 OUSD board meeting.

OAKLAND – Interim state administrator Vincent Matthews was greeted with a raft of bad news about Oakland schools and open hostility from the standing room crowd Sept. 26 at his first public meeting with the Oakland Unified School District Board of Education.

Markeshia James and Shakora Cowart , elected student directors for the board, presented reports from students at nine Oakland high schools of rats, leaking toilets, no heat or air conditioning , no art classes, not enough books, not enough desks, no principal at one school and no library at another.

“There are rats at every school. It’s a big problem that shouldn’t be taken lightly. We have them on my campus [EXCEL College Prep] as well,” said Cowart after her testimony.