Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Most Californians now support school choice: study

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

By John Crowder

Most Californians (60%), and especially parents of children in public schools (66%), are now in favor of school choice.  This is one of several findings in a report issued last week by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) based on a statewide survey conducted by the nonpartisan research organization.

The survey asked the question, “Do you favor or oppose providing parents with tax-funded vouchers to send their children to any public, private, or parochial school they choose?”  When responses were disaggregated for ethnicity, it was found that African Americans (73%) and Latinos (69%) were more likely than other racial/ethnic groups to be in favor.

While the finding was seen by some as shocking, according to Dr. Lamont Francies, pastor of Antioch’s Delta Bay Church of Christ, it should not have come as a surprise.

“African-Americans have long been proponents of school choice,” he said. “Slavery, which was perpetuated in part by keeping those enslaved ignorant, led directly to the creation of Freedom Schools. These Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), begun in 1837 with the formation of Cheney College in Pennsylvania, were a rebellion against Jim Crow and years of systematic oppression in education.”

“Today, school choice is the true legacy of the Civil Rights Movement because it not only allows students of color to move in, but to move up,” Francies added.

Angel Luevano, an Antioch resident, educator, and long-time Civil Rights advocate, agrees with Francies’ assessment.

“Providing a quality education for all, and closing the achievement gap, is the Civil Rights issue of our time,” he said.  “Those with means in our society have a choice as to where to educate their children.  They can afford to send their children to private schools if the public schools in their area are not performing up to par.  Those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged don’t always have such options.  This is why the charter school movement is so important.  Charter schools, being public schools that are open to all students, provide parents with options and opportunity where there might otherwise be none.”

In spite of the findings, though, considerable resistance to choose the school that will educate one’s child persists.  Only last October, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) called for a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools.  In addition, lawmakers continue to introduce legislation that would make it much more difficult for charter schools to be formed.

PPIC reports such as the one cited here are focused on understanding, “long-term societal trends” and guiding decision making.” Their central audiences, according to their website, are “California’s elected officials.” As we move ever closer to the 2018 election cycle, it will be of great interest to see just how well the implications of this report are heeded by local and statewide candidates.

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Antioch School Board to draft own “safe schools” resolution for a vote at future meeting

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Fear of losing federal funds expressed

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Wednesday, April 26 the Antioch School Board Trustees heard from 15 members of the public in standing room only audience, on a resolution to create a “Safe Haven School District”. (See below) Each of the trustees offered their input and suggested changes to the resolution, and two wanted to remove any references that might affect the district receiving federal funds.

The resolution was placed on the agenda by Antioch Superintendent Stephanie Anello and Board Vice President Debra Vinson for discussion purposes only, in response to a request by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson that all school districts in the state do the same, following the election of President Donald Trump.

The main focus of the resolution was about sending a message to students and/or parents who are in the country illegally, that they have a right to attend school and the district has the legal responsibility to provide them an education. But, it also contains a variety of other controversial issues, such as gender identity.

While some of those who spoke tried to downplay the political aspect of the resolution, others referred to the new president in their comments, and Trustee Diane Gibson-Gray clearly stated, “This is a political issue.”

The first to speak was Iris Archuleta, who with her husband Keith, were at the meeting on a different matter, to donate their Youth Intervention Network program to the district, to have it integrated into the district’s current programs.

“I so appreciate this resolution,” she said. “Just looking at the first ‘whereas.’ This district supports equity and inclusion. Many of us support and love you for taking this position. I very, very much support your efforts.”

Antioch Education Association President Robert Strickler asked “the board to support the resolution.”

Many speakers and members of the audience wore purple shirts as part of the First 5 Contra Costa East County Regional Group.

Antioch resident Concepcion James, whose daughter graduated from Deer Valley High and works as the County Health Equity Manager, said “there is a health impact when children and their parents feel marginalized.”

Antioch resident Paul Ramirez, who said he is “Chair of the Latino Advocacy Group,” which “sponsored the last Dreamer Conference” spoke in support of the resolution and “students going to school worried about their parents’ well-being.”

“When people read in the history books about this guy with orange hair,” he said referring to Trump, “they’re going to ask, ‘what did grandpa do?’”

Another speaker wanted the trustees to “make sure all students are safe and able to learn.”

Gloria Ochoa of the East County Regional Group sponsored by First 5 Contra Costa said, “this letter is wonderful.”

“Immigrant students are being bullied by other students, because they came from other countries,” she claimed.

Another speaker offering an example of bullying, told the Board, “Kids were saying ‘build the wall, built it higher’ to other students who are mainly Hispanic.”

Another speaker reiterated what Ramirez referred to, saying “Some students are afraid to come to school because they might be separated from their parents at any time.”

Still another speaker shared her thoughts, stating “this is a shame that we haven’t passed this. There are a lot of immigrants in this district. We need a declaration from the Board that the children will be safe from I.C.E. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).”

It was clear some speakers hadn’t read the resolution before the Board for discussion.

Deborah Pope, with the East County Regional Group and worked with disadvantaged children, suggested clauses that were already included in the proposed resolution.

Cheryl Sing, of the East Contra Costa Council for Community Leaders said, “Please make schools safe havens for immigrant students.”

She also suggested having block parents with big signs in their house windows “so students know where to go.”

Sharon Weaver, a teacher at Turner Elementary said, “It will be a smile, kindness passing this for our families.”

Julie Young was only one of two speakers against the resolution.

“I was very disturbed to see this on the agenda,” she stated. “Superintendent Torlakson sent a letter to all 10,500 school districts shortly after the election. Only 110 have complied.” (Editor’s Note: The correct number of school districts in the state is 1,050).

“You have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution,” Young continued. “If you sign this you will be breaking the law, U.S. Code 1324, harboring illegals. What are we teaching the children? What message does that send?”

“This resolution does nothing, legally,” she added. “We already have the protections for the children.”

Former Antioch Police Chief Allan Cantando spoke next, refuting part of Young’s statement. “There is a lot of misunderstanding and hysteria with our citizens,” he said. “This resolution is following the law. All this is doing by approving it is following the law.”

Another speaker against the resolution disagreed with Cantando, saying “we’re a nation of laws. To me that’s in violation of the Constitution.”

“This is pure politics,” he continued. “What really gets me is that some people who support this opposed charter schools who will serve the same students. It came out after the election.”

“I will campaign against anybody who votes for this,” he concluded.

Teacher Ken Kent said “we stand with you” but the resolution didn’t really do much. He requested the Board “add a clause of a plan to educate.” He also spoke of students who shared with him their fears.

Anamarie Avila-Farias, former Martinez Vice Mayor and unsuccessful candidate for District 5 Supervisor in last year’s election, said “it’s a moral issue” and supported moving the resolution forward.

Willie Mims asked the board to support the resolution, as well, saying “we have a group of folks concerned about this issue,” referred to Trump and compared the issue to slavery being legal.

“Good people stood up to unjust laws,” he said and quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and St. Augustine to support his point.

Paul Seger, an Oakley resident, retired coach and teacher from “Nor Cal, Humboldt area” said the “East County Board was first to pass a ‘Safe Haven. It made the community so much easier to be around.”

“We need to change the laws and it takes so long,” he continued, then encouraged the board to support the resolution.

The Board members then had their opportunity to speak on the matter.

Gary Hack said, “other than one or two people, I’d say ‘ditto.’ Everybody who comes through the door we educate…”

Vinson said, “I’m happy that this resolution is on here. I will absolutely support the resolution.” But she wanted to make some additions to it and asked Anello if the District was asking for students to identify their citizenship during enrollment.

Anello responded, “on our previous enrollment forms  for federal funding we asked citizenship status. We took that off because it only affected 12 students.”

Gibson-Gray asked “has that changed?”

Anello responded, “this was changed, recently.”

Gibson-Gray then asked “is there anything in this that we’re not doing? As a Board Member I have to protect federal funding. I’m all about the money.”

“If we change the language to ‘a safe educational environment’ I’m all for it,” she added.

Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White, who is also a Parent Education Teacher said she had “experienced it first hand, the concerns of the teen mothers and their children who are Latino.”

She also suggested adding some clauses to the resolution.

Board President Walter Ruehlig said, “I would have to agree with Trustee Gray about the language of this.”

“My parents were immigrants. My father jumped ship to come to America,” he continued. “I don’t have to apologize for my fervor for human rights.”

“The language of this is quite controversial,” Ruehlig stated. “There’s probably more risk than reward. This won’t change the law. I think this is misleading. I’m not against it. I, too agree it’s quite political.”

Vinson suggested the trustees “wordsmith this and bring it back May 24th.”

Gibson-Gray responded, “I want a resolution that…reaffirms what we’re already doing. I don’t want at some point President Trump saying ‘you’re not getting money.’”

Ruehlig then asked if the district requires a warrant for I.C.E. officers to be on campus and search student records.

Anello said “no…nor do we know (a student’s citizenship status), except for the 12.”

Ruehlig than asked her if she knew of “any incidents where I.C.E.” was on an Antioch school campus.

“I’m not aware of any, personally,” Anello responded. “That doesn’t necessarily minimize the fear.”

Gibson-Gray reiterated here earlier concern, “I do want to keep the money” to which Vinson responded, “I, too want to keep the money.”

Gibson-Gray then said she was “content to be legally within the law.”

“The resolution before you, tonight is within the law,” Anello assured her.

Ruehlig offered an addition he wanted to the resolution, to “included what our history has been. This gives the impression we have been violating people’s rights.”

Hack then said he felt “the length of it is appropriate.”

The Board members agreed to each email Anello with their additional suggestions for the resolution and have her present two options, one with the term Safe Haven and one without, and to then have it on a future meeting agenda for a vote.

Following is the proposed resolution discussed by the public and Board:

Antioch Unified School District

RESOLUTION NO. 2016-17-30

IN SUPPORT OF THE RIGHTS OF ALL STUDENTS –A SAFE HAVEN RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America recognizes every    individual’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;

WHEREAS, Education has played a critical role in furthering tolerance and strengthening our society;

WHEREAS, The United States Supreme Court in 1982 ruled in Plyer v. Doe that public schools were prohibited from denying students access to Elementary and Secondary Public Education based on their immigrations status, citing that children have little control over their immigration status, the lifelong harm it would inflict on the child and society itself, and constitutional equal protection rights;

WHEREAS, The Antioch Unified School District Board of Trustees is committed to educating all students in a safe and welcoming environment;

WHEREAS, The Antioch Unified School District is committed to preventing and ending acts of discrimination or bullying based on a student’s immigration status, race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetics or disability

WHEREAS, The Antioch Unified School District Board of Trustees believes that celebrating the diversity that exists in our District, elevating the uniqueness of each student, and embracing the cultural assets that both they and their parents bring to the District is vital to the success of all students;

WHEREAS, State and Federal laws prohibit educational agencies from disclosing personally identifiable student information to law enforcement without the consent of a parent or guardian, a signed court order or lawful subpoena;

WHEREAS, Concerns of potential raids by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office (ICE) have caused immigrants in the community to experience increased levels of concern about the presence of ICE in and around schools and the disruption that this presence may have on the learning environment for students and their families;

NOW BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that the Antioch Unified School District Board of Trustees hereby directs the Superintendent to support the creation of a Safe Haven School District. This shall include:

  • Restricting, to the extent possible by law, the sharing of student and parent/guardian immigration status with federal agencies or officials;
  • Requiring all federal immigration agents seeking access to information or access to a school site have a warrant signed by a federal or state judge;
  • Continuing to promote and enhance a climate of inclusion;
  • Offering appropriate, focused professional development opportunities for staff;
  • Ensuring there are adequate supports and resources for students who may feel unsafe both on and off campus especially as it relates to discrimination or bullying predicated on immigration status, race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetics or disability;
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Contra Costa County goes solar power, could save residents 55% on monthly bills

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

By Daniel Borsuk

Feeling the heat from environmentalists, residents, and politicians, Contra Costa County supervisors took the big step Tuesday of picking a solar power plant developer that could potentially help consumers on average cut monthly bills up to 55 percent.

“Our customers pay less than PG&E for our supply, and our supply contains more renewable content,” said Dawn Weisz, chief executive officer of MCE Clean Energy.

On a 4-1 vote, with supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill casting the lone dissenting vote, Contra Costa supervisors selected San Rafael-based MCE Clean Energy to develop solar power plants preferably in the county’s sprawling northern waterfront area to lower PG&E electric rates for residential and commercial electricity customers.

Mitchoff favored a competing proposal submitted from a freshly minted company called EBCE that Alameda County officials have recently adopted as their solar power plant developer.  “I think that the EBCE program is better for our long-term growth,” Mitchoff said.

Other supervisors were more impressed with MCE’s seven-year track record, financial stability and $25 million in reserves and capability of generating good paying union jobs.

Some 285,000 residents residing in unincorporated Contra Costa County could see electricity rates decline in comparison to PG&E rates.  For a large solar power project generating 5 megawatts per hour, the average monthly bills could potentially decline from $105 per Megawatt Hour (MWH) to $85 per MWH

For Board Chair Federal Glover the selection of MCE Clean Energy could mean the potential development of solar power plants in the Northern Waterfront Area.  He is overseeing a planning study of the 28,000-acre area stretching from Hercules to Oakley that can potentially generate 18,000 jobs in a variety of technical fields by the year 2035.

Glover said he already envisions the development of a battery storage and a call center in parts of the northern waterfront, especially Pittsburg.

“With MCE we will be able to lower rates for consumers and bring jobs and growth to the Northern waterfront area,” Glover said.

Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond said he felt comfortable with the MCE program because of its seven years of experience.  “There is less risk with the MCE choice,” he said.

“This is an historic day,” said Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville.  “MCE has the established credit rating and reserves.”

Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood favored the MCE proposal based on how it will create “long term jobs” for county residents.  Fifty percent of the jobs created must go to county residents.

“I also hope in the next five to 10 years we’ll become self-sufficient,” Burgis added.

Supervisors listened to a majority of the more than 30 speakers urge them to approve the MCE Clean Energy program over the EBCE program.

Elected officials from Lafayette, Richmond, Walnut Creek, Orinda, San Pablo and  Moraga encourage supervisors to approve the MCE program over the EBCE program.  Those cities have already approved the MCE program over the EBCE program, with Moraga most recently inking a contract with the company.

Richmond Mayor Tom Butt encouraged supervisors to approve MCE as its solar power provider based on the city of Richmond’s experience with the company. “It’s been a very good move for Richmond.  Our residents have been saving millions of dollars,” he said.  MCE has developed two solar power projects worth more than $12 million for the residents of Richmond, he said.

“Join MCE,” urged Moraga City Councilman Dave Trotter. “It’s a better choice.”

Byron resident Steen Larson encouraged supervisors to approve MCE as the solar power contractor.  “MCE is the best choice,” he said.  “This company will fulfill the need for job training and providing the best paying jobs.”

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Vasco Road work to replace safety roadway delineators on May 17-18

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

The Contra Costa County Public Works Department will perform roadwork on Vasco Road from the Alameda County line north to Camino Diablo Road on May 17 and 18, 2017. The work will occur between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to replace roadway delineators. The purpose of the delineators and rumble strips is to increase driver awareness and safety when travelling through this commute corridor.

The work may be rescheduled based on weather conditions. Electronic message boards will alert drivers of the scheduled work. There will be traffic control through the work area and motorists can expect delays.

 

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Contra Costa County Fair opens May 18 – May 21, 2017

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Contra Costa County Fair opening day is Thursday, May 18th – Sunday, May 21st at the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds in Antioch.

HONORING THE PAST…CELEBRATING THE FUTURE

The Contra Costa County Fair is the perfect place to enjoy live entertainment, exciting free shows, delicious food, carnival rides, animals, and hundreds of exhibits – all in a community-friendly environment and at affordable prices!

For PG&E Pavilion Stage entertainment, the Fair’s 2017 concert series features: 60’s Summer Love and Nathan Owen’s Motown & Soul on Thursday May 18th, Jackson Michael and Bobby Zoppi & the Courduroys performing on Friday May 19th, Jett Benatar ~ A Salute to Joan Jett & Pat Benatar, and Spazmatics on Saturday May 20th, and Live Hispanic Musical Celebration Sunday May 21st with entertainment all day long. All concerts are FREE with admission to the Fair.

While visiting the Fair, enjoy other highlights such as the Xtreme Sports Zone, Jennifer’s All Creatures Petting Zoo, Clown & Balloon Artist, Jugglers, Harmonics Steel Drum Band, Powerhouse-Percussive Dance, Ag Venture Land, BC Characters, Cowboys Ken’s Train, Art Pavilion, Agriculture Pavilion, Auto Racing, RC Car Races, Roller Derby much more!

Visit www.contracostafair.com for more information including promos and discount. The Contra Costa County Fairgrounds are located at 1201 West 10th Street in Antioch.

 

 

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Antioch files claim with state water department demanding reimbursement for costs during times of high salinity

Monday, May 1st, 2017

Antioch’s water pump station on the river. Photo courtesy of Kathy Bunton, http://kayakingcaldelta.blogspot.com/

Dating back to 1968 Agreement, due to rerouting of water to the State Water Project

By Allen Payton

On Friday, the City of Antioch announced it has filed a claim with the State of California seeking relief for the Department of Water Resources’ (“DWR”) failure to perform specific key terms of an agreement between the State and Antioch dating from 1968 commonly referred to as the “1968 Agreement”.  The purpose of the 1968 Agreement is to mitigate the impacts of the State Water Project (“SWP”) on the City’s water supply.  The 1968 Agreement requires the DWR to reimburse the City a portion of Antioch’s cost to purchase substitute water when high salinity resulting from the SWP adversely impacts the City’s own water rights.

The key term of the 1968 Agreement at issue in the City’s claim is a clause that requires the DWR to grant Antioch substantially the same terms granted by the DWR to any other entity in the Delta.  This clause is commonly referred to as the “me-too” clause.

In March of 2016, the DWR entered into an Agreement with Contra Costa Water District (“CCWD”) to replace an existing 1967 agreement between the parties similar to the City’s 1968 Agreement.  Antioch contends that this new 2016 agreement grants CCWD substantially more favorable terms than those granted by DWR to Antioch under its present 1968 Agreement triggering the application of the me-too clause.  To date, the DWR has refused to perform the me-too clause granting Antioch terms substantially similar to those it granted to CCWD in 2016.

Additionally, analysis performed both by Antioch and the DWR indicates that the operation of the 2016 Agreement between CCWD and the DWR could potentially result in worsening water quality at Antioch.  These new potential impacts on the City’s water supply are not mitigated by the City’s 1968 Agreement. The DWR has so far refused to negotiate new terms to protect the City from these additional impacts resulting from the new CCWD agreement.  The City’s claim against the DWR includes a demand to mitigate or eliminate any such new adverse impacts to the City’s water supply.

Before city staff treats the water that it sends to customers, it usually pumps the raw water directly from the river. However, in 2015 and 2016 the city was forced to purchase 95% of its raw water from CCWD, because the salt water from the bay had intruded passed the Antioch’s intake water pumps along the river, off of Fulton Shipyard Road, next to the old boat launch. Antioch pays nothing for the water it pumps from the river, according to its pre-1914 riparian rights.

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In spite of warning from Superintendent, principal, Park Middle School students prepared for teachers’ union May 1st Day of Action

Monday, May 1st, 2017

One of the teachers’ union posters for the May 1st Day of Action. Source: www.cta.org/ForAllStudents

Principal labels as “cowardly act” whistleblower informing news media of teachers’ efforts; accused of encouraging students to wear red on Monday to show their support; Antioch High hosting activities, as well

By Allen Payton

In response to an April 21st article by this reporter on this website, about plans by one or more teachers at Park Middle School to recruit students to participate in the promotion of the California teachers union May 1st Day of Action, Principal John Jimno sent out a memo to teachers warning them not to do so. In that memo, he also labeled the action of the whistleblower who informed the Herald “a cowardly act.”

In spite of the warning from Jimno and District Superintendent Stephanie Anello that teachers were not to recruit students or use class time, according to another anonymous staff member at Park, students in the school’s Leadership class were making red paper chains and recruiting other students to support the teachers’ efforts, in preparation for Monday’s activities. The California Teachers Association’s website states “Wear Red for Ed” and that the effort is to “Support All Students.” Yet, the teachers and possibly also the principal are encouraging students to wear red to support the teachers.

An email received on Thursday, April 27th (but unfortunately not viewed until Sunday night) from someone self-identifying as “Conscientious Employee” included Jimno’s email message sent to his school’s staff on Monday, April 24th:

FW: When planning for next week….

John Jimno

Sent: Monday, April 24, 2017 8:42AM

To: PMS Distribution List

Please do not promote this with any students or use class time to work on flyers. I am in talks with the District Office and The Teachers Union. You all have the right to promote this but we cannot use class time or encourage students to promote this. If you would like to discuss further please call me instead of replying to this email.

On another note, it saddens me that someone on our staff would take this inter school memo and send it to a reporter and cause such negativity for our school. For the past 5 years I have worked extremely hard to always have my door open if someone wanted to express a difference of opinion. On many occasions I have shifted or changed a decision or event based on how people were feeling about it. I would hope that if the person that sent this email would either come see me now so we can talk or the next time they feel something is not right they come speak with me prior to sending such a message to the media and causing such an attack on our school. In my opinion it is a cowardly act.

If you are confused about what I am talking about you can read the article on the Antioch Herald that was posted on Saturday.

Sincerely, John

In the email to the Herald the anonymous “Conscientious Employee” also wrote:

“I find it highly unprofessional and insulting that Principal Jimno would call whomever made the public aware of this violation a coward and to be so outraged that information, that the public has a right to know about, making Park look negative rather than being upset about the outrageous fact that a political agenda is being pushed on the student body of his school.

It was my understanding that any potential student involvement with this May 1st “Day of Action,” like wearing red, and activities like the red chain, etc. were to be ceased and the students were not to be encouraged or involved as pawns in this blatant use of the Union’s political agenda push. Not just at Park but also at other school sites throughout the district.

Today, Thursday, April 27th, I was told by other staff at Park that Principal Jimno put over the announcements this morning that the students don’t have to, but that they can wear red on the first of May to show support for their teachers.

Also today during lunches the Leadership students were assigned to run the lunch activity of making the red chain mentioned in the first e-mail sent to the Antioch Herald. Students who participated said that they were told by the Leadership students that the chain was, ‘or the May 1st thing. On May 1st everyone is supposed to wear red and it’s pledging your support.’

Pledging support for what? They were told, ‘That education should be free.’ This was all done during the Leadership students’ class time; they were not accompanied by a teacher and obviously had been instructed on what to say to their fellow students and to promote this agenda.

I dearly hope that this, as Walter Ruehlig so well put it in the comment section of your article, ‘black, white and unarguable violation of prohibition of political activity within the schools’ and unlawful ‘use of District technology, facilities and paid time to lobby’ is ended swiftly. I thank you for your action in keeping the impressionable young minds of Antioch’s youth protected from being used as political pawns.

Sincerely,

‘a conscientious employee’

*This letter has also been sent to the following: Walter Ruehlig (School Board President) and Stephanie Anello (AUSD Superintendent)”

Questions were sent late Sunday night to Anello, Ruehlig and the rest of the board members, asking what actions would be taken against the teachers who ignored the directions by both Anello and Jimno.

In addition, they were asked if the May 1st activities by teachers were also occurring at others schools in the district, if they believe Jimno’s “cowardly act” comment was appropriate, and about a culture of fear in the district which some school staff members are afraid to speak out with views that differ from other teachers, the union or administration.

5/1/17 12:00 p.m. UPDATE: In an email, Monday morning, Anello responded with the following:

“I just spoke with Principal Jimno and there are no activities planned today. If students are participating, it is outside of class and voluntary. The announcement that Mr.  Jimno made about wearing red, etc. was to reiterate the contents of the follow-up email to staff wherein he told them no class time was to be used and no students should be told to wear red, etc. The activity that occurred at lunch time was student led and no teacher directed students to participate.”

However, a person who answered the phone at Park Middle School said Jimno was unavailable for comment as he is not at the school, today. An email was then sent to him asking him why and with other questions regarding the activities alleged by the anonymous Conscientious Employee.

In addition, a voicemail message was left with Vice Principal Peter Crutchfield asking if activities for the May 1st Day of Action were occurring on the campus.

Antioch High May 1st Activities

Promotion of May 1st event at Antioch High on Facebook.

An event listing posted on Facebook described an Immigration Awareness Assembly and Resource Fair at the school for Monday afternoon, from 12:15 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., with the description of “Know Your Rights” and the graphic of a black, raised fist.

The assembly, presented by the school’s Lead Academy, offered the subject matters of “Know your rights,” “Information for undocumented students and parents” and “How to protect yourself from ICE” listed in both English and Spanish.

The resource fair began at 11;30 a.m. and included the following description:

“Come join us on May Day for a day of action! You’re invited to Know Your Rights.

Resource fair opens at 11:30 am, program begins at 12:15 pm

Keynote speakers include: Juan Ortiz and Mary Rocha

Resource fair organizations include: First 5, International Institute of the Bay Area, One Day at a Time, Organizing for Action, Planned Parenthood, Together We Will, and United Latino Voices

Asked about the event occurring on another Antioch school campus, Anello said, “Today is a minimum day at Antioch High School and this event happening after school and was organized by students as part of their senior project.”

5/1/17 6:45 p.m. UPDATE

In an afternoon email, Anello responded further, stating “Mr. Jimno did not tell students to wear red. He stated that some staff may wear red as part of a national day of action day but that classroom time should not be used for activities supporting the day.

According to Mr. Jimno, students did not use Leadership class time for any activities related to the day of action.

You are welcome to reach out to Mr. Jimno about his email as he and I did not discuss it prior to or after he sent it out.”

In addition, Jimno also responded to questions emailed to him earlier in the day, including if it was appropriate to label what the anonymous teacher or staff member did to first inform the Herald, a “cowardly act” and if there was a culture of fear at the school that causes some teachers or staff to be afraid to speak up with views that are different from other teachers, the union or the administration.

“In response to the below email:

  • At no time did I make an announcement in attempt to solicit students to participate in what the teachers were planning.
  • The leadership students did not take part in a class time activity to work on this.  Any participation by students was through their request to do so and voluntarily.
  • I have worked extremely hard with the help of many dedicated staff members to create an organization where everyone’s voice is heard and valued.  As my email to the staff suggests, it saddens me that someone chose to go outside the school to express their concern prior to coming to speak with me first.  Before I am accused of having “a culture of fear” on my campus I would hope you would come interview the staff on their thoughts instead of making this judgment on an anonymous email.

Sincerely,

John Jimno”

Another email was received from Conscientious Employee reporting what occurred at Park Middle School, today and last week by students in preparation for the May 1st Day of Action:

“I was told that this morning there were teachers in front of the school wearing red and holding signs and that some students picked up signs and participated as well.  I don’t have pictures of the students making the chain during lunches, they made it during lunches last week I think just so that if anyone questioned it they could say that it wasn’t done on May 1st.  I also find it a side-step trying to avoid the issue that they are saying that any activities were student led and no teachers were involved; yes, the leadership students were running the activity table without adults involved.

“However, they were doing so during lunches that did not correspond with their grade level which means that they were out of a scheduled class missing instructional time to run the red chain activity and they had to have been instructed in what activity to do and what it was about.  Students participating during their lunches may not have been directed to participate but obviously the leadership students had to have been directed by staff.”

Please see the photos, below of the rather muted Day of Action activities at Park Middle School provided anonymously to the Herald.

 

A hand-written sign on the side of a building at Park Middle School on May 1st.

A red paper chain on metal a barrier in front of Park Middle School was one of three seen on fences at the campus on Monday, May 1st.

 

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Antioch Council rejects proposed A Street mini-mart

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Rejected proposed mini mart site on A St at the former drive-through dairy location.

Mayor says Antioch not filing for bankruptcy, city finances in “fine shape”

By Daniel Borsuk

Over concerns about crime, public loitering and drinking, the Antioch City Council unanimously denied Tuesday a request to approve a 1,200-square foot mini-mart to sell beer, wine and liquor at 2302 A St.

Council members were swayed to deny Amandeep Sing’s request to open a beer and liquor store at the A Street location when residents came forth to talk about their problems with homeless who are known to cause trouble in the area.

“I sincerely hope you don’t allow this business,” said Marsha Russo, who told council members about constant gunfire that she hears in her neighborhood.

Norton Street resident David Kundest said the proposed mini-mart will worsen conditions in the A Street area.  He said his neighborhood is plagued with homeless stealing private property, panhandling, urinating in public, and public intoxication.

“I’m struggling to see any positive things happening out of this application,” said City Council Member Tony Tiscareno.

The Antioch Planning Commission had rejected Singh’s mini-mart request based on the fact the store would not provide the required six off-street parking spaces.   He could only provide four parking spaces.

In other action, the council approved a 5-year $48.9 million capital improvement program.  Some of the features of the program include $10.5 million for wastewater and storm drain system projects, $14.2 million for roadway improvements, $800.000 for traffic signals, $600,000 for parks and trails and $400,000 for communication facilities.

Mayor Sean Wright also wanted to correct the public notion about the city’s financial condition.  Word has been circulating that the city’s financial stature might be wobbly.

“Antioch is in fine financial shape,” he said. “For those who ask if we are filing for bankruptcy the answer is no.  We have $25 million in reserves with no debt.”

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