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Class Notes

By David Scharfenberg Daily Planet staff
Thursday January 10, 2002

Board president violated by-laws 


Members of the Coalition for Excellence and Equity, a community group calling for the division of Berkeley High School into a series of small, themed learning communities, are upset with Shirley Issel, president of the Board of Education, for violating the board’s by-laws at its Dec. 19 meeting. 

At the meeting, board member Terry Doran, a coalition ally, made a motion calling for the discussion of a draft policy written by the group, which lays out basic structures, standards and admission procedures for the proposed small schools model. 

None of the regular members of the board, who oppose the coalition’s policy, seconded the motion. But, after a period of silence, student representative Sarena Chandler attempted to second the motion, to the wild applause of small schools supporters. 

Issel, after turning to the superintendent and members of the board for guidance, said that Chandler, as a student representative, or “student director,” could not second the motion. As a result, the policy discussion did not take place. 

In a recent interview with the Planet, Issel said she learned of her error after the meeting. “That was an incorrect call. Our by-laws do allow student directors to second a motion,” she said. “It was a mistake, but it was ignorance, not design.” 


Perata to hold Cal Grant seminar 


Berkeley’s representative to the State Senate, Don Perata, D-Oakland, will host a Cal Grant event for area high school seniors and their families on Feb. 16, tentatively scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. at Oakland Technical High School, 4351 Broadway St., Oakland. 

At the event, representatives from the California Student Aid Commission, a state body, and people trained by the organization, will assist families and students in applying for Cal Grants for college. 

There are several types of Cal Grants. Some are open to high school seniors with a 2.0 grade point average, and some to those with a 3.0 GPA. Grants are available for low-income students only, and must be used at colleges in California. 

Bryan Dickason, associate financial aid analyst for the California Student Aid Commission, said Cal Grants are underused because not enough people know about them. He said grant money can help convince a low-income student to go to college. 

“You put a little money in their hands and they say, ‘hey, maybe I’ll give it a try,’” Dickason said. 

Dickason said the state expects to provide $500 million in grants to some 200,000 students next year. The deadline to apply for a Cal Grant is March 2. 

Perata’s Oakland office will host a training on Monday at 6 p.m. for local volunteers who would like to assist families during the Feb. 16 event. Bilingual volunteers, in particular, are needed. 

Call 286-1333 to volunteer, or to find out more about applying for the grants. 


E-mail David Scharfenberg at scharfenberg@ with school news for “Class Notes,”appearing every Thursday.