Parents ask courts to block school closures
Parent Anitra Baker co-filed a lawsuit seeking to block all school
ordered in January by the San Francisco School Board.
By Pat Murphy
July 22, 2006
Parents of John Swett Elementary School students yesterday filed
a lawsuit seeking to block all school closures ordered
in January by the San Francisco School Board.
The suit alleges the School Board failed to conduct environmental
impact studies required by the California Environmental Quality
For his part, School District legal counsel David Campos responded
school closures are exempt from CEQA except in cases of significant
A group calling itself San Francisco Parents for a Safe School
Environment joined parents Anitra Baker and Gail Baugh in the
suit, claiming negative impacts of school closures include:
-- Dangerous traffic conditions. Cross high volume intersections
such as Oak and Fell Streets.
-- Predatory criminal activity en route to schools, particularly
for John Swett students that will have to endure a longer commute
to John Muir School.
-- Crossing invisible 'turf' boundaries that endanger children
and parents; and traffic congestion.
An attorney representing the group said that as a California
Assemblyman he wrote the last revision to CEQA, and the intent
of CEQA was to require study of impacts listed by the lawsuit.
"We've asked the courts to declare null and void the vote
that the Board of Education took to shut down a number of schools
including John Swett on the grounds that the board did not include
in its decision making process a study of the environment that
is going to be affected by the closure and merger of these schools,"
stated attorney Terry Groggin.
Groggin served represented San Bernardino California Assembly
District 65 in the 1980s. As an assemblyman, Groggin chaired the
Assembly Resource Committee which oversaw CEQA, Groggin told the
"Specifically the board did not take into account the traffic
conditions, did not take into account the safety conditions that
the children would be exposed to as a result of the mergers of
One parent fears that school mergers will force students to cross
paths will gang violence.
"It is going to be kind of hard for my babies to walk from
where we live to John Muir because they have to go through four
more communities to get to John Muir which is really not safe,"
reported Anitra Baker.
Baker is a parent of seven children who went to John Sweet Elementary,
she said, with three more children yet to complete elementary
"Just recently we had four shootings where my children have
to walk," Baker continued.
"It's really scary. It happens in the daytime and they're
young and it's really not fair for them to have to go through
Parent Gail Baugh echoed the fear.
"I'm a parent whose son went through the public schools.
He's graduated. Had a fine education but when I saw what was happening
in the Western Addition and Hayes Valley it made me cry,"
stated Gail Baugh.
"As our people tried to make the case that this is a safety
issue, this board refused to hear us."