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Extra Resources Sent To Troubled Oakland School After Fight

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A cellphone image of a teacher and student scuffling at Alliance Academy in Oakland. (CBS)

A cellphone image of a teacher and student scuffling at Alliance Academy in Oakland. (CBS)

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OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — The Oakland Unified School District is sending in extra resources to Alliance Academy after video surfaced of a fight between a substitute teacher and student. But some teachers told KPIX 5 the action may be too late.

A parent gave KPIX 5 the video of the brawl, captured on a cellphone before Winter break. The video shows punching and kicking between the student and teacher, followed by the teacher picking up a desk, thrusting it at the child. The student involved in the video no longer attends the school.

The middle school is one of the toughest in East Oakland, with 360 students ages 10-13. Police have visited the campus 13 times during the school year so far, and five students have been expelled.

Cellphone Video Of Brawl (Graphic)

Out of a total of 13 teachers at Alliance this year, 10 are new. The turnover rate at the school is much higher than the district average of 14 percent.

“This is a high-need school. And when I’m here, I feel like I owe them 150 percent every time I’m here,” said Kashmir Hyder, a second year teacher. “And as a result of that, I feel like I’ve burnt out. I treated this like a sprint, and not a marathon.”

In fact, two of the three teachers interviewed by KPIX 5 will leave Oakland after the school year. The third teacher is on the fence.

The Oakland Unified School District said it is well aware of the problem.

“You get in a cycle where you’re constantly placing new teachers, those teachers leave after a couple of years,” said district spokesperson Troy Flint. “And it creates a lack of stability at the school. And I think that is something that undermines academic progress to a certain extent.”

Student said that is why some kids act out and disrespect their teachers. “Because they’re new,” said Jose Barajas, an eighth grader.

The fight that was caught on video took place a few months ago. Meanwhile, the school is not denying a more recent event. A student told KPIX 5 that his classmates started what he called a “riot” in a classroom.

“They destroyed the whole classroom. They broke the desk. They threw the computers on the floor,” Barajas recalled. He said he hid under a desk, when other students tossed desks and other items across the room.

After media attention this week, the district sent in extra administrators to work with troubled students. But some teachers said the help has come too late.

“Now a lot of people are supporting me,” Hyder said. “No one was really saying that before I turned in my resignation papers. And I think I needed to hear that.”

Alliance also had three different principals in four years. Jeff Duncan-Andrade, an education expert and veteran teacher in Oakland told KPIX 5 these young teachers and students were set up to fail.

“It’s too little, too late, too slow,” Duncan-Andrade said. “And this is what I mean by ‘we don’t see this as a crisis.’ If this was Piedmont, it would completely shut down.”

“It’s a great sense of guilt that I feel, leaving. But for me, I’m tired.” Hyder said.

The district is promising to keep the additional administrators at the school for at least a few more weeks.

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

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