OAKLAND (CBS SF)– Students, parents and community members plan on attending Wednesday night’s Oakland school board meeting to speak out about several incidents in the past 15 months in which security guards have allegedly beaten students.
Ronald Cruz, an attorney for the activist group By Any Means Necessary, said speakers will ask the Oakland Unified School District to fire security guards who attacked a student in an incident last year that was only recently made public, administrators who covered up that attack and other attacks and Superintendent Antwan Wilson, who just started work last fall.
Cruz represents the family of Jonathan Rodriguez, who he said was beaten up by two security guards at Fremont High School who had been called to the school’s office for an unknown reason in January 2014.
Cruz said footage of the incident that was only recently made public by the school district shows student Jonathan Rodriguez standing in a doorway at Fremont High when he is confronted by two security guards, one of whom shoves him from the back.
At one point Rodriguez was put in a chokehold and had his arm twisted, according to Cruz.
The attack was unprovoked, Cruz said.
He said there were two other incidents involving alleged security guard misconduct at schools last May, including one for which a security guard faces a felony charge of inflicting corporal injury to a child for allegedly attacking a wheelchair-bound student at Oakland High School.
Mark Airgood, a BAMN organizer who is chair of the Oakland teacher union’s special education caucus, said, “Not only is this an emergency, but it is going to get worse if Superintendent Antwan Wilson’s plans of cutting special education, privatizing and imposing more charter schools, closing schools and trying to bust the unions succeeds.”
Cruz said he’s considering filing a lawsuit against the school district on behalf of Rodriguez but he hasn’t done so yet.
Cruz said he thinks Wilson should be fired even though he has only been superintendent for a short time because he thinks there is “a systemic problem” of school security guards attacking students and Wilson hasn’t done enough to stop it.
School district spokesman Troy Flint said the two security guards who were involved in the alleged attack on Rodriguez have been placed on paid administrative leave while the district investigates the matter.
Flint said Wilson was “shocked” and “outraged” when he saw the video of the incident involving Rodriguez, both at the conduct of the two security officers and at the conduct of school officials who were present during the incident and apparently failed to act on behalf of the student.
The school board meeting is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. Wednesday at La Escuelita School at 1050 2nd Avenue in Oakland.
Students, parents and community members will hold a news conference in front of the school at 4:30 p.m.
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