Editors, Daily Planet:
It’s both interesting and telling that nowhere in the article headlined “District Thwarts New Game Plan” (Daily Planet, Sept. 12 ) does the issue of student, staff, and audience safety appear. This is the primary reason that Berkeley High School Principal Jim Slemp canceled one football game between Berkeley High and Oakland Tech. The safety of our students, athletes, staff, and audience is of paramount concern in this decision. It’s also interesting that despite acknowledging Berkeley Police warnings of potential non-student violence at the scheduled game, the reporter chose quotes from Oakland football coaches (unidentified Oakland Athletic League coach, quoted thusly: “Canceling the game makes no sense to me.”). The article goes on to paraphrase this coach’s comments by stating that he didn’t understand why a game between Tech and Berkeley would be more dangerous than games regularly held between Oakland schools in community rivalries, to quote the reporter, “that are far older and have generated far more violence than has occurred recently in South Berkeley—North Oakland.” Oakland coaches, not familiar with the specifics of the information given to BUSD by the Berkeley Police Department, with far different policies and standards than our own community, are now apparently capable of making decisions for BUSD. Based on what authority, policy, and accountability? Is the level of violence in the Oakland community now to be used as a regional context for acceptable community standards?
The page four overrun of the front page article is headlined “School Board Denies Bid to Revive Match.” Although I support Principal Jim Slemp’s decision, it’s important to note this matter never came to the Berkeley Board, and was appropriately handled by High School and District administrators. Inaccuracies and speculation abound in the article; very little actual information is offered. I’m disappointed in the low level reportage of this story, the inaccuracies it includes, the omissions it does not, and the harm such inaccurate reportage does to our District and community.
Vice-president, Berkeley School Board