So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

Teachers who seduce students may lose their pensions, benefits

California Stock Photo


California State Capitol in Sacramento

Some teachers who have romanced their pupils were not engaged in illegalities because the students were 18 or over.

But a new bill scheduled to be introduced Tuesday in Sacramento yearns to punish educators who seduce their students no matter the age of their young love.

Republican Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, of Modesto, Assembly Bill 1861 authored the bill that would strip teachers of pension and retiree benefits if they engage in an inappropriate relationship with a student (of any age) at the same school that they teach.

The bill is inspired by the controversial case of James Hooker, a 41 year old Modesto high school teacher, who left his wife and 17-year old daughter to move in with his doe-eyed blonde 18-year-old student Jordan Powers. He also quit teaching.

Powers' mother, Tammie Mullins Powers, took to Facebook to tell her 6,668 subscribers that she supports the bill that would make the crime a felony. Mrs. Powers writes that she hopes the bill will be passed not just in California, but across the United States.


UC attorneys attempt to unseal portions of task force report on pepper spraying incident

Occupy Pepper Spray

Wayne Tilcock / AP

File: In this Nov. 18, 2011 file photo, University of California, Davis Police Lt. John Pike uses pepper spray to move Occupy UC Davis protesters while blocking their exit from the school's quad in Davis, Calif.

University of California attorneys will argue Wednesday morning for the release of specific portions of reports on the 2011 pepper spray incident at UC Davis that remain under seal in Alameda County Superior Court. 

The UC attorneys have been working most of March to make the reports public.

The task force reports, ordered by UC President Mark Yudof at the request of UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, was scheduled to be released on March 6, but the release was put on hold when Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio M. Grillo granted attorneys representing the campus police union and specific officers involved in the incident a temporary restraining order.

During a hearing on March 16, Judge Grillo ordered that portions of the task force report investigating the events at UC Davis remain under seal while police privacy and safety issues are considered.


California schools work to cut down truancy numbers

Ramona Gardens Library

Mae Ryan/KPCC

File: students.

Chronic absenteeism can mess up a student’s record, so it’s no surprise that long-term studies that track high school dropouts trace academic troubles to attendance problems.

Many local school districts are doing what they can to encourage kids to show up for class, even though many just never know what might keep a student away from school.

"In some instances families are having hard times," explains Angela Brantley, chair of Rialto Unified's student attendance review board. "They’ve gone through foreclosure. They’re transitioning from place to place. And there’s some valid reasons why kids aren’t going to school."

Brantley says it’s her mission to knock down those barriers.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson praised Brantley and her colleagues, along with administrators at 11 other districts, for developing stand-out programs that have boosted attendance.


Ignore the bully, elementary students say

Trinity Street school

Tami Abdollah / KPCC

Students take a pledge to "stand up and speak up against bullying" at Trinity Street School, a South Los Angeles elementary school.

Delmy Ruiz, 11, and Arturo Ruiz, 10, (no relation), are fifth graders at Trinity Street School in South Los Angeles. Both have been bullied before. Their response? Ignore the bully.

"One time, I was walking around, and there were these girls that were calling me names," Delmy said. "I just ignored them and I didn't listen to them, and I just walked away. They didn't come back."

Arturo shyly said he also follows the same policy. His two big brothers urge him to ignore bullies at school. Sometimes it works. Sometimes the kids come back and pick on him again.

"I see bullying everywhere," he said quietly. "...Just ignore them, or if it actually gets bad, then tell a responsbile adult."

Trinity Street School is an elementary school of about 500 students between the second and fifth grades located in South Los Angeles. About 98 percent of the students are Hispanic and 2 percent African American. The school is a Title I funded school with all of its students on the free and reduced lunch program, said school principal Marta Jevenois.


Kids get a lesson in dealing with bullies

Trinity Elementary School

Tami Abdollah / KPCC

Students listen to an LAPD officer talk about the dangers of bullying at Trinity Street School, a South Los Angeles elementary school.

The two young bullies raised their hands amid the hundreds of other students in the elementary school auditorium. Kids crooned their necks, rising from their seats for a better view.

“We are going to help you know what to do, and change your behavior,” said Monica Harmon, an LAPD volunteer and public safety advocate, wearing a sparkly “No Bully Zone” tee-shirt. 

Harmon is part of the “Stand Up and Speak Out Against Bullying” campaign. Since February 2011 she has traveled to schools throughout Los Angeles with LAPD officers, talking to roughly 15,000 students at all grade levels about the dangers of bullying.

“A lot of times bullies are being bullied at home…so they come to school and they start picking on one of you kids,” Harmon told the elementary students at Trinity Street School in South Los Angeles.