Life Academy High School is one of the first small schools born out of OCO’s small school movement, and has one of the highest academic achievement rates in the city.
In March of 2008 Life Academy was displaced from its home. The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) wanted to use the building for the District, and decided to move Life Academy to West Oakland or Deep East Oakland, miles and miles from where students actually live. Parents got organized and insisted that the school be re-located to a site in the neighborhood, and extracted a promise from OUSD that Life Academy would be returned to its original location.
However, in June of this year it became known that OUSD and the school superintendent didn’t intend on returning the school. They imagined that Life Academy would stay on an old middle school campus with inadequate facilities forever. But OCO parents were not about to settle for that.
Parents and students leaders organized to show up in large numbers to the Facilities Committee meetings and OUSD meeting. Leaders were adamant that OUSD had made a commitment to return Life Academy, and that commitment had to be honored. The strength of the OCO leaders’ voices made an impact, and three OUSD board members changed their minds and recommended that the school be returned.
On Wednesday June 24th, 2009 over 100 parents, students, teachers and community members turned out for the School Board meeting where a vote would occur. The Board unanimously voted to not only return Life Academy to its own building, but to allocate 16 million dollars to improve the site, and to build a Bio-Science Hall that the school desperately needed to fulfill its curriculum.
OCO leaders exercised their power to hold onto and stand up for the community vision of a fantastic public high school, in their neighborhood, with the facilities it deserves!