Dewey High School, also known as the Dewey Academy, is an alternative school in the Oakland Unified School District for students who have had difficulties getting credits and graduating from their original high schools. Many of the students are low-income and POC, and many have been impacted by gangs. The current school site is located east of Lake Merritt on 2nd Avenue, and includes the old administrative headquarters of the OUSD. It is next to the Youth Heart Health Center, a free health clinic that started as a collaboration amongst Dewey students.

Oakland Local Article on Gentrification (June 2014)

According to an Oakland Local opinion piece published in June 2014 [1], real estate developers and the school district are in negotiations to designate the school complex as "surplus" property, or property that is retained by the district but is being unused. This designation would open the parcel up to incorporation into the plans for a neighboring 24-story luxury condominium development. Superintendent Gary Yee formed an advisory board, called a "7-11 Committee", to determine whether the property is subject to becoming "surplus property". The Committee included real estate attorneys, community members, members of the boards of directors of charter schools and the Dewey Academy principal. The article makes note that the committee does not include any students, or educators aside from the principal. The minutes from the June 9, 2014 meeting of the 7-11 Committee note that the OEA was given the opportunity to appoint a teacher to the Committee, but their appointee was unable to attend the meeting, and also notes that the Committee includes a retired OUSD educator and a former OUSD Board member.

"The surplus property category is being used as a means to displace Dewey students and treat them as a surplus population.  It has nothing to do with Dewey actually being property that’s considered “surplus.” This mirrors the treatment of Oakland’s youth in the broader society. Seen as an expendable, incarcerable, and unemployable “surplus population,” Oakland’s youth are those who should be pushed to the margins in order to make way for more desirable occupants of land — those that can afford the lakeside view from the window of their 10th floor condominiums. This is the opposite of how they are treated at Dewey Academy, where educators and community members work hard to support students who are missing credits needed to graduate, impacted by gangs, and who might otherwise slip through the cracks of other OUSD schools." - [1]

Another concern brought up by the article is that the OUSD student population has been declining at an average rate of 1,000 students per year since 2011, and that this number correlates with school closures (5 elementary schools) and school incorporation (Fremont and Castlemont High went from being small schools to being unified, large schools). [2] They reference other historical enrollment declines and displacement in Philadelphia, Chicago and New Orleans. [3]

The article goes even deeper, talking about the Lake Merritt Specific Plan (and other longterm development plans)...except your humble researcher needs a break. Wanna read the article and help contribute to this section? Have info that the article misses, or perspectives that it doesn't represent? Please add!

Questions and Answers

  • According to the author, the flood in the old administrative building last year happened under mysterious circumstances. Do you have more info on what happened?
  • Who exactly is on the 7-11 Committee? [see minutes below]
  • Who is the real estate developer in question? [see presentation below]
  • What exactly does "surplus" mean in legal terms--does it simply mean that the site is "inactive", and what does that even mean? According to the Oakland Local article, the Dewey Academy is active and graduated about 130 students in summer of 2014.