The Oakland Tribune is reporting on the stories shared by parents and grandparents at a meeting of an Oakland school board. The stories involved mistreatment of students at a small private school run by the St. Andrew’s Missionary Baptist Church in West Oakland. One mother said she removed her daughter from the school after the girl reported being verbally abused by Robert Lacy Jr., the church leader who served as the school’s director. Several other parents said that they were told their children were staying after school for evening Bible study when the students were actually taken to San Francisco where they were instructed to ask passers-by for money. There were no adults supervising the children, with at least one child being robbed during a trip. The same child’s mother reported that, during the 2008-2009 school year when the boy was nine years old, her son was locked in a room at one of the church buildings as a form of punishment. He suffered broken bones when he fell two stories as he attempted to escape in order to get to the restroom. Other reports included allegations of physical abuse at the school.
While the St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church Private School is private, it is supported in part by federal funding for low-income students. The funds pass through the Oakland school district, with the school board approving the contracts. According to California watch, a non-profit initiative created by the Center for Investigative Reporting, the school received $50,000 based on its claim that 61 of its 195 students were low-income. In fact, government investigations and interviews with former students revealed that the actual enrollment was less than fifty students.
Families at Wednesday night’s meeting of the Oakland school board demanded that the school be closed or that it no longer approve the school’s federal funding. The board’s authority is limited since it only approves some of the funding and does not authorize the school’s operation. Jacqueline Minor, general counsel for the school board, said that they would examine the allegations further in a closed meeting. Lacy said he was unable to respond to every claim made by the families but that he would cooperate in the investigation.
As members of the Northern California community, the team at The Brod Law Firm is concerned about the misuse of funds and disturbed by the allegations that children were being mistreated at school. We hope that investigators are able to learn more and that the protection of children remains a top priority.
Gregory Brod is an Oakland victim’s rights lawyer. In addition to serving those injured in Oakland accidents, he is also proud to serve as an Oakland school injury attorney. School should be safe. Parents who believe their children have suffered harm at school, including mistreatment by school officials or the failure of school administration to protect children from harm, should take action. Ensuring the child’s safety should be the first concern, but calling an experienced lawyer is also an important move. We offer a free consultation to discuss whether a civil lawsuit is appropriate. Compensation obtained in civil court (or by a settlement) can help pay for counseling to help your child process and move forward after a trauma. It also helps reiterate the message that mistreatment of children will not be tolerated in our community.
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