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Morgan Hill
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August 14, 2020

Editorial: Rivas for Assembly

Five candidates are running for California Assembly District 30, and two have emerged as serious contenders to represent the region’s half million residents. The district includes south Santa Clara County and San Benito County and is currently represented by Anna Caballero, who is running for state senate.

Editorial: Re-elect Sheriff Laurie Smith to sixth term

In two decades as the county’s sheriff, Laurie Smith’s legacy includes both accomplishments and mistakes, and as she runs for a sixth four-year term, her challengers have sought to direct attention to the latter.

Police should stop carotid restraints

Two months after the death of Steven Juarez while in the custody of Gilroy police, the investigation of the exact cause of his death continues. While the police and the district attorney’s office are investigating whether police were responsible, they have said little about the “non-lethal” methods used by police to restrain the 42-year-old Gilroyan.

CA personal tax rates rank low

One prevailing stereotype of Californians—shared by state residents as well as red-state politicians and the Trump Administration—is that we pay higher taxes than anyone else in the country.

Newsprint duties could hurt small newspapers

The printing press remains the symbol—despite the arrival of online news—of the Fourth Estate, of “Freedom of the Press.” That’s why for centuries one of the first acts of authoritarian rulers was to smash the printing presses of the opposition.

Run, hide, defend…

Sadly, events in distant cities mean that our students and teachers have had to add another set of tools for school safety that we all hope they never have to use.

California has key role in agriculture issues

Sonny Perdue is a veterinarian, and a former governor of Georgia. He also is the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. He spent one day in the nation’s biggest agricultural state last week—California—presumably to show that the Trump Administration cares about and understands our state’s critical role in the U.S farm economy.

Editorial: Businesses are in middle of potential ICE squeeze

The stories began flying last week: Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents would raid businesses across California and deport undocumented workers.

Editorial: Rebuild Sonoma and Napa

A company is like a family, and when disaster strikes one part of an organization—and communities we serve—it’s felt throughout. Our newspaper group publishes seven Bay Area weeklies, including the North Bay Bohemian, based in Santa Rosa.When devastating, uncontrolled flames struck Sonoma County on Oct. 8, the Bohemian’s office closed and staff scattered because of evacuations, smoke, closed roads and in one case, a lost home.  The first concern was for the staff’s safety. Everyone kept in touch with one another to ensure that everyone was accounted for. We tracked down people who hadn’t checked in.Our second mission was to put out that week’s newspaper. During times of crisis, reliable sources of information to explain events, inform and analyze are crucial.Luckily our systems are virtualized and they were put to the test. We found out that we don’t even need an office to publish a newspaper. Even though cellular and Internet connections were spotty or went out in some cases, our editors, writers, graphic artists and sales team members worked in cafes, from home or out of the homes of friends, relatives and good Samaritans, often in nearby counties.Our third item of business was to establish the Rebuild Sonoma Fund to rebuild Sonoma and Napa counties. Within a day, we registered the charitable fund with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, created a logo and url and built a website to accept donations at rebuildsonomafund.org.Californians have a generous spirit, and we have been encouraged by the early donations.Readers can make a difference. We can help our Bay Area neighbors rebuild their lives and communities by getting money directly to the impacted areas. The fund has no administrative overhead and gets money straight to the front lines of the relief effort.We have no control over when natural disasters strike, and this is one of California’s worst ones. We do have the power to make a difference, and by contributing to the effort, we can all be part of restoring some normalcy to our neighbors who’ve had their lives turned upside down these past two weeks.Donations can be made online at RebuildSonomaFund.org.

Our View: District failed to prevent abuse

The Morgan Hill Unified School District might have saved $8.25 million and prevented the lifelong traumatization of at least three young girls if district leadership had enforced its own training procedures on how to identify and report child molesters like John Loyd, who showed a clear pattern of “grooming” some of his fifth grade students for abuse.The signs of Loyd’s favoritism toward his victims—a common trait of sexual abuse predators—were clear, and spanned years before the Paradise Valley Elementary School teacher was busted by police in 2015.An investigation by attorneys for the families of three girls—who recently settled with the district just before their lawsuit went before a jury—found that Loyd routinely played favorites with female students. He would offer them candy in exchange for hugs, and slipped them candy bars under their desks.At least two students who, luckily, did not become victims of Loyd, complained to their parents that their teacher gave this special treatment only to girls. The parents in turn complained of this behavior to both Loyd and the school principal. There is no record of these complaints in Loyd’s personnel file. No action was taken against the teacher.These and similar complaints go as far back as 2009, or three principals ago at Paradise Valley, according to the initial lawsuit.The disregard for common-sense precautions intended to keep kids safe on campus was apparently systemic while Loyd was molesting his victims. Shortly after his arrest, he told police that he was instructed by his supervisor at Paradise Elementary to work on his class’ student newspaper—the Room Nine Times—during recess and lunchtime, according to the lawsuit. This allowed him to be in his room alone with individual children on a regular basis. Somehow, he was even permitted to cover his windows with paper copies of the Room Nine Times, preventing anyone from being able to see inside.Even back in 2004, when Loyd was teaching at Nordstrom Elementary, he made inappropriate sexual remarks and contact with a girl in his class toward whom he allegedly showed so much favoritism that other students called her a “teacher’s pet.”If the district had followed its own Child Abuse Reporting Procedures—first approved by trustees in 2004 and updated in 2012—perhaps these patterns of abuse would not have continued in Loyd’s classroom for so long. This policy requires the district leadership to enact an “age-appropriate and culturally sensitive child abuse prevention curriculum” for students.No such programs seems to have been implemented, despite the district’s claims to the contrary.The abuse cited in the criminal charges against Loyd—for which he is now serving a 40-year prison term—occurred from 2012 to 2014. This was during a transition in the district’s top staff position and changes in the elected seven-member board of trustees. Wes Smith left MHUSD as superintendent in 2013. The board of trustees immediately named Betando his interim replacement, then hired him full-time in 2014 with a $225,000 annual salary.Before that, Betando served as MHUSD’s Human Resources director starting in 2012, about the time the board updated its child abuse reporting procedures.The district is not admitting it is at fault by settling with three of Loyd’s victims.But the fact that the district agreed to pay the victims $8.25 million just as the lawsuit was scheduled to be argued in front of a jury “speaks volumes,” as attorney Robert Allard told Times reporter Scott Forstner.The girls’ parents have said an even more important aspect of the settlement is MHUSD agreed to implement a predator identification training program for all staff members and students.Hopefully, MHUSD will take this requirement seriously as well as launch an independent investigation into the lapses. The superintendent should have implemented the board’s policy, and the board, as overseers responsible for the safety of the community’s children, should have been diligent about holding the superintendent responsible at annual reviews.