Archive for the ‘Youth’ Category

Mayor, councilwoman, parks commission chair propose programs for Antioch youth, reducing gun violence, ammunition storage ordinance

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe speaks at a press conference about youth programs and violence prevention, in front of the Antioch Community Center at Prewett Family Park, on Thursday, May 6, 2021.

By Allen Payton

During a press conference Thursday morning, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe, along with District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker and Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Marie Arce, introduced several proposals for youth programs, including summer and after school jobs and internships, as well as more school safety staff and an ordinance on keeping ammunition separate from guns in the home. (See complete video of press conference it begins at the 1:55 mark)

Thorpe first introduced the city’s new Parks and Recreation Department director, Brad Helfenberger.

“I worked for the City of Emeryville creating new programs for youth,” he said. “I look forward to working with the city council in investing in our youth.”

Thorpe then spoke about youth in the community.

“Antioch is the second largest city in our county and growing because of youth,” he said. “Kids under age 18 make up a third of Antioch’s population.”

He then introduced, “my new homegirls from (Diablo Valley) Mom’s Demand Action.” Seven members attended the press conference, including some from East County, but none of the 99 members they claim live in Antioch were in attendance.

Thorpe then shared some statistics saying, “Roughly 72% of Antioch’s students are on free and reduced lunch. 30% of them are English learners. Currently, only 49% of students are meeting the state reading standards and in mathematics 60% of our children don’t meet state standards. When our seniors graduate high school, only 23% of students are prepared to go to a four-year college or university.”

“Please don’t take this as an indictment on our school system,” he continued. “My hats off to our local teachers for the many instances of beating the odds by taking a kid living in absolute chaos and producing the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first round NFL draft pick, Najee Harris; producing an undrafted free agent like Isaiah Dunn and taking him all the way to the New York JETS; taking a kid living on the streets of Antioch with his family, like Sage Bennett, providing him a little stability during the day and preparing him to become a full ride scholarship recipient at UC Berkeley.”

“Right now, at Antioch High School, there is a 16-year-old little girl, who immigrated here from Asia, who literally just learned English a few years ago, getting ready to graduate and enter a pre-dental program at the University of the Pacific,” Thorpe shared.

“By no means is this an indictment on our school system,” he reiterated. “However, it is an indictment on all of us and what our values reflect.”

“In Antioch, we’ve placed a high premium on criminalizing kids than we have on investing in their development,” Thorpe continued. “Don’t take my word for it, look at the city’s budget, its plain as day. And yet, we only seem to talk about our youth when something bad has happened, to point out what they’re not doing right and with absolute contempt.”

“That’s not right,” he stated. “But as mayor, I want our young people to know that I hear you. I hear you when it comes to after-school programs, summer job opportunities, a space for you to express yourselves, equity and safety in our community and much, much more.”

Six Summer Youth Programs

“This summer, we are going to be launching six youth-centererd, pilot programs from May to August, as a way to offer youth alternatives to the streets,” Thorpe stated. “One of these programs is called the Middle School Pop Up Park Program. This will be the city’s first program that specially targets middle school students as our summer recreational programs do not tailor to middle school aged students.”

“These pilot programs will help us gather data and determine scalability,” he continued. “In addition, I’ll be advancing four measures at the May 25th council meeting to aid in this effort.”

Those four proposals include the following:

  1. Develop Midnight Basketball initiative that targets middle and high school students:
  2. Acquire property for youth to legally and safely use off-road vehicles such as ATV’s, dirt bikes, etc.
  3. Continue the Summer Bus Pass initiative
  4. Develop a Parks and Recreation rate structure for AUSD students who qualify for the Free or Reduced Lunch Program to increase access to summer recreational programming

Thorpe also mentioned expanding the Council of Teens.

“We’ll be launching a COVID-19 workforce program…and build an Antioch internship program focusing on ages 18-24 or 15-24,” he shared.

Thorpe mentioned few more proposed initiatives, including a Youth Art Expression program.

Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Arce then spoke, saying that the Youth Services Advisory Committee gave input in the development of the programs. She focused on the issue of access and affordability.

“We created a mock enrollment to enroll two adults and two children” but “the enrollment fee would consume 42% of income” of those or those on the free school lunch program “and 30% of income” for those who qualify for the reduced lunch program.

The plan is to offer the programs for free to those who qualify.

Gun Violence Prevention

Thorpe then spoke about long-term strategies for community-led violence prevention and intervention strategies.

“Obviously, violence continues to be a challenge for many Bay Area cities including Antioch,” he stated. “We all know, gun violence is a national problem and Antioch is not immune from it. In some parts of Antioch gun violence is a normal occurrence.”

Thorpe spoke of the resolution that the city council recently approved in support of federal legislation on gun violence.

Torres-Walker then spoke on the issue saying, “I have lived in this community for six years. My first experience was gun violence. There were many efforts but nothing sustainable because the city lacked the will and the resources.”

“On March 29th I was informed by the police chief that the Antioch Police Department and Oakland Police Department were working together,” she shared. “The press release of April 15 was no surprise to me.”

“Now my son can walk to the store, safely,” Torres-Walker stated. “I informed the chief that we are not going to arrest our way out of this problem. The chief agreed. Those on the Gang Violence Task Force also agreed.”

“We need to curb gun violence in Antioch to make our city safe,” she continued. “But not just gun violence, all violence is up during the pandemic.”

She then spoke of “establishing a task force that will be led by the community and supported by experts…and our police department who show up after violence has occurred but not curb violence.”

Proposed Safe Ammunition Storage Ordinance

Thorpe then shared that he will “be advancing three items for the (May) 25th (council meeting)” including “a Community Led Violence Task Force and an ordinance for safe storage of ammunition.”

Michelle Sinnott, an Alamo resident and Co-Lead of Diablo Valley Moms Demand Action, spoke about gun ownership in America and the impact of gun violence against Black Americans.

“There are more than 393 million civilian-owned firearms in the United States, or enough for every man, woman and child to own one and still have 67 million guns left over,” she stated. “From March through May 2020, an estimated 5.9 million guns were sold, an 80% increase over the same time period (the previous) year.”

“Black Americans are disproportionately impacted by gun violence,” Sinnott continued. “They experience nearly 10 times the gun homicides, 15 times the gun assaults and three times the fatal police shootings of white Americans.”

“Firearms are the leading cause of death for American children and teens,” she shared. “More than 1,800 children and teens die by gun homicide every year. For children under the age of 13, these gun homicides most frequently occur in the home and are often connected to domestic or family violence. Black children and teens are 14 times more likely than white children and teens of the same age to die by gun homicide. Black Americans are nearly two times as likely to die from COVID 19 as white Americans and four times as likely to die from gun suicide.”

“Street outreach programs like the ones being proposed by the mayor and Council Member Walker are associated with up to 37% reductions of gun injuries,” said Sinnott. “Violence intervention programs provide evidence and community informed comprehensive support to individuals who are at the greatest risk of gunshot victimization.”

She then spoke of safe storage of guns and ammunition saying, “secure storage prevents shootings by disrupting unauthorized access to firearms.  Make our homes and communities safer by storing guns securely.  Store them locked and unloaded, separate from ammunition.”

“That is what the ordinance would require,” Sinnott explained.

“An estimated 54% of gun owners do not lock their guns securely,” she continued. “Every year 350 children under the age of 18 unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else; 4.6 million children live in homes with at least one unsecured gun; and 80% of gunfire on school grounds occurred because shooters under the age of 18 got their gun from their home or a home of friends and relatives.”

“Suicide is impulsive, and with COVID and increasing isolation the number of suicides is growing,” Sinnott shared. “Assume children and teens can find guns and keep those weapons locked and unloaded to save lives. We saw a 30% increase in unintentional shooting deaths by children in March through May of 2020 versus March through May average over the past three years.”

“The idea that these devices defeat the purpose of owning a gun for self-defense is simply not true,” she stated. “There are many affordable options for firearms that provide owners with quick access to their guns.

“Moms Demand Action support these measures. Let’s make Antioch safer for everyone,” Sinnott concluded.

Long-Term Recreation Programming

“The last item is long term recreation programming,” Thorpe shared. “We’ve got to invest in our children.”

Arce spoke again saying, “we also reached out to community-based organizations. Our programs should be
equitable, sustainable programs for our youth. We have several great community organizations that want to partner with us.”

She then spoke of food access through farmers markets.

“Downtown residents lack access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” Arce said and proposed a youth-run farmers market to learn directly from farmers and learn sustainable farming. “It reduces carbon emissions and increases biodiversity.”

“We can add some after school and summer programs and possibly create Antioch’s own farm,” she continued. Arce spoke of the desire “to create an inclusive environment for youth with all abilities. There is a lack of space, accessibility and parental knowledge. Many spend their days in our parks because it’s free. But during winter months this is a health risk.”

“We are proposing our rec department offer access to programs, and include wrap-around services,” she added.

She then proposed “an All-Abilities Day at the Antioch Water Park” and “after school and summer programs.”

“The youth focus group does not represent all the youth of Antioch,” Arce pointed out.

She then mentioned a “music development program and workshop partnering with LMC and use of their recording studio.”

“We can also partner with CBO’s (community-based organizations)” Arce said, mentioning a basketball program and community garden. “A dedicated space for them to feel safe and welcome.”

She then spoke of “opportunities to connect with employers. Possibly a job fair.”

“The youth would like to see our trails and traffic safety improved so they can travel to school,” Arce continued. “We can create a safe and enjoyable space for our youth in Antioch.”

Thorpe then spoke of “five additional measures to proactively deal with traffic and school safety issues, including private schools” including possible traffic calming devices and a “bicycle garden that will provide hands-on bicycle, pedestrian, and driver safety education designed for both programmed and independent learning in a comfortable, fun, permanent, car-free facility.”

“One of the difficult things as an elected official is to hear the cries of a grieving mother no matter what the circumstances…as they express what they want changed,” he said, then spoke of the mother of Jonathan Parker, the Deer Valley High Student shot and killed following a basketball game, last year.

“Only one simple goal, that we prevent from happening to others what happened to her son,” Thorpe stated. “What she’s asked for is extra security at major AUSD events.”

He then spoke of authorizing police officer overtime for major after school events and suggested Neighborhood Watch members to volunteer at basketball and football games.

“We just need people…watching our children to ensure these events are more safe for our young people,” the mayor added.

Torres-Walker then spoke about “increased campus safety at our local schools.”

“For many years I’ve had the opportunity to work on school safety and environment as a parent and advocate,” she said.

“We operate in a deficit love for our young people,” Torres-Walker said, quoting a pastor.

She spoke of the student, last year who tried to become a student trustee on the Antioch School Board, but was not appointed. That was because the student hadn’t followed the required rules.

“Our school district is not the only perpetrator of this deficit love,” Torres-Walker said. “I’m sure our students feel this deficit love when they don’t feel safe going to and coming from school.”

She then spoke of “school climate and school site safety plans to hire school safety professionals to make our schools safe. We also need people prepared to address safety on our campuses.”

“I’m also recommending we review the REACH program,” Torres-Walker said. “I have heard this program has had much success, but I have not received reports.” She spoke of making changes “or get rid of it if it’s not working for our young folks.”

Thorpe then wrapped up the press conference with some concluding remarks.

“As we enter these summer months all I can say to our young people, plead with you, not to resort to guns,” he said. “Torres-Walker and I are the only council members with children in our schools. We will be criticized. But I don’t care.”

“Be safe this summer. To cease fire. We want to help. But we can’t do it with violence,” the mayor continued. “We want to meet you 99% of the way there but you need to meet us 1% of the way.”

“They’re not always listening in Washington, even though it’s common sense,” Thorpe then said, directing his comments to the Moms Demand Action members. “But dammit, we’re listening, here.”

“I call on family members…I beg you when you see a family member pick up a weapon, call the police…and keep our people alive,” he concluded.

Questions on School Safety Staff

When asked what does she mean by school campus safety professionals, Torres-Walker responded, “every school district has school safety folks…to decrease violence to counsel young folk. What we need to do is make sure they’re trained and equipped.”

She and Thorpe were asked about their votes to cancel the $750,000 federal grant for placing six police officers known as School Resource Officers or SRO’s, on Antioch middle and high school campuses.

“Yes, absolutely I voted against the federal grant just like when there was an opportunity to vote for Cal VIP funds to reduce gun violence in 2019 and the council and chief passed it up,” Torres-Walker responded.

Asked if the Cal VIP funds are still available, she said, “Cal VIP funds are always available for intervention and prevention of gun violence. Antioch has the opportunity to get this funding.”

“We are petitioning the governor right now to increase it to $114 million,” added Sitton.

 

 

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Middle, high school students in Antioch return to campus at Learning Centers

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

A substitute teacher gives instructions to students in one of the Learning Center classrooms at Antioch High School.

“it’s been great having them, here” – Park Middle School Principal John Jimno

By Allen Payton

As of Tuesday, April 27 Learning Centers have opened at the middle and high schools in the Antioch Unified School District giving students the opportunity to return to the classroom and receive help with their online classes. The school board voted in March to open the Learning Centers instead of reopening Antioch schools fully or using a hybrid model in response to over 60% of parents surveyed not wanting their students to return to class. (See related article)

Antioch School Board Vice President Dr. Clyde Lewis and this reporter were provided tours of the Learning Centers at both Antioch High School and Park Middle School. The other middle and high schools in the district have opened one, as well. Learning Centers at the district’s elementary schools opened the previous week. (See related article)

The students participate in regular classes with their teachers, like their classmates who are distance learning from home. But they’re in a classroom with support from on-site substitute teachers and aids.

Antioch High School Tour

Antioch School Board VP Dr. Clyde Lewis (left) and AHS Site Safety Coordinator Lynn Bailey speak with Principal Louie Rocha (right) during the campus tour.

At Antioch High School there are six classrooms, four regular ed and two special ed for a total of 160 students, Principal Louie Rocha shared during the tour of his campus.

“Here they can use the WiFi and have support. Some are having trouble at home without private space,” he explained. “We have a Tuesday and Wednesday A group and students on Thursday and Friday in the B group. Special ed students are able to attend Tuesday through Friday.”

Like the elementary schools, the middle and high schools also have a process for students to enter the campus which includes having their temperature checked by a thermographic scanner.

“It can scan five people at a time,” Rocha stated. “This is something we’re going to do when we open in the fall.”

If a student has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or more, they aren’t allowed to stay for the day.

Dr. Lewis gets his temperature checked by the thermal scanner inside the Beede Auditorium at Antioch High School. His was 98.6 – just right.

Lynn Bailey, Site Safety Coordinator continued as the tour guide, explaining that “the day starts at 7:45 for those with Zero Period. Otherwise, they start at 8:30 and stay until 1:30. All students attend all six of their classes. One day they’re in classes 0-3 and the second day they’re in classes 0-6. The kids get meals for the day and breakfast for the following morning.”

“Each student is assigned a classroom and no talking in the classes,” she continued. “There are substitute teachers in each.”

“I think it’s running really well. The kids seem to like it,” Bailey shared. “We have a lot of freshman who had never been on campus, yet. All of our aids are back, and we’ve put them in the classrooms with the substitutes.”

The classrooms are located in the 400 Wing which was recently renovated using Measure B funds.

“If we have more students we will probably open another hallway. We have the capacity,” she added.

Students get help from the substitute teacher in one of the Learning Center classrooms at Park Middle School.

Park Middle School Tour

Park Middle School Principal John Jimno (left) speaks with Dr. Lewis during the tour.

Principal John Jimno led the tour of the Learning Center at Park Middle School.

“We have five rooms, total going right now and a waiting list for another room which we are trying to get open in the next week,” he said. “Two days on and two days off. We have one full day room four days a week for the special needs students. There are 20 students per classroom. We’re getting more coming each day.”

The students are divided alphabetically by last name and then by grade.

“I wanted to have some normalcy for the students, so it’s been great having them, here,” Jimno continued.
A student named Malachi said he was happy to be back in school to see some of his friends.

“I’m getting so many emails from parents saying their student came home like a different kid,” Jimno stated. “It’s been a fun week being with the kids. Hopefully we will get a few more students so we can fill it up.

“For P.E., the kids walk the track and play basketball. I’m the PE teacher this week,” he added.

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UPDATE: Pittsburg teen shot, killed in Antioch, crowd confronts, assaults police Saturday night

Sunday, April 18th, 2021

Officers on the scene of the homicide confer Saturday night, April 17, 2021. Two Pittsburg officers were part of the multi-agency response. Photos: EastCountyToday – used with permission

“It was an extremely chaotic scene” – Antioch Police Lt. Donleavy

APD calls for backup from other agencies; at least two arrested for resisting, delaying, obstructing, or assaulting public safety officers.

By Lieutenant John Fortner, Antioch Police Investigations Bureau

On Saturday, April 17, 20201, at approximately 6:03 PM, Antioch police officers were called a residence in the 4500 block of Shannondale Drive on the report of someone who had been shot.

Numerous officers responded to the scene. There was a large gathering, of mostly young adults and juveniles, at the residence. When officers arrived, they had to contend with an uncooperative and growing crowd of over twenty people. As the officers tried to make their way to an open garage where the victim was located, several subjects in the crowd started to assault the officers. Antioch officers called for emergency mutual aid from the surrounding jurisdictions to get the crowd under control. At least two people were arrested for resisting, delaying, obstructing, or assaulting public safety officers.

Once officers entered the garage, they located a 16-year-old victim, down on the floor, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. The victim, described in an interview by Lt. Donleavy as a black male, was pronounced deceased at the scene. Officers learned that two suspects entered the garage, and at least one of them began shooting at the victim. Afterwards, both suspects fled on-foot in an unknown direction. The identities of both suspects are unknown.

4/19/21 UPDATE: According to Lt. John Fortner, “I’ve communicated with the CCC Office of the Sheriff, Coroner’s Office, and they are aware the next of kin was notified.  The decedent in Saturday’s shooting homicide was 16-year-old Rasaan Scypion of Pittsburg.”

Officers conferring on the scene. APD Lt. Donleavy provides more details. Screenshot of ECT video – with permission.

Donleavy also stated, “It was an extremely chaotic scene with lots of people. At one point there was a physical fight by those on scene. We were told that there were multiple suspects and that they ran into an unknown direction and probably got into a car. They were in the house.”

4/21/20 UPDATE: A man claiming to have been at the scene and a witness posted comments on the Herald Facebook page. “They did not confront the police, his mother was trying to calm him , then the police got involved, to calm him down,” wrote LeVic Bassett.”

Asked “calm who down, the victim? Were you there and a witness?” Bassett wrote another comment, “I watch the whole thing, an(d) was beside the press when he walk up thats not what happened, this is a lie, I have it on camera, they was upset about the dude getting killed in the garage.”

Asked to speak directly to the Herald, Bassett declined writing, “I was told not to talk to you.”

Antioch Police Department’s Crime Scene Investigators and detectives with the Violent Crimes and Special Operations Units responded to the scene and took over the investigation.  Currently, detectives are working to identify any suspects or persons-of-interest. The investigation is still active, and evidence is being collected and evaluated.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Antioch Police Department non-emergency line at (925) 778-2441 or Detective Bledsoe at (925) 779-6884. You may also text-a-tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using the key word ANTIOCH.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Deer Valley High senior receives $200,000 Navy ROTC scholarship

Saturday, April 17th, 2021

Emma Crandell with ceremonial check with family, Navy personnel and Deer Valley High Principal Bukky Oyebade. Photos: AUSD

Family, principal and Antioch school district staff celebrate during Thursday ceremony

By Antioch Unified School District

Emma Crandell is presented check and congratulated by Petty Officer Byung Jung.

It’s not often a high school student is a presented with a $200,000 check but that’s exactly what happened to Emma Crandell. On Thursday, April 15, 2021 the Deer Valley High senior received the Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (NROTC) scholarship.

During an outdoor ceremony at the school, Petty Officer Byung Jung, of the Antioch U.S. Navy Recruiting Station, presented Emma with the impressive award while a small group of staff and family cheered her on.  They were joined by her family, Deer Valley Principal Bukky Oyebade and Antioch Unified School District staff. She was selected through a rigorous process from among thousands of students across the state and nation.

Emma plans to attend the University of San Diego and be a part of the Midshipmen, which are one of the “largest uniformed bodies of students in the nation that provides hands-on leadership experience and enhances a world-class education,” according to a press release.

“We are very excited that Emma was selected from thousands of students who applied for the scholarship,” said Oyebade.

AUSD Associate Superintendent Christine Ibarra, DVHS Principal Oyebade with Emma Crandell.

Jung said the scholarship will “pave the way for Emma to get commissioned as an Officer in the Navy.”

He added that in a typical school year, all over the country, “nearly 4,000 high school seniors apply for the scholarship. Receiving (this) is a miraculous achievement that only selects 30 percent of its applicants.”

Naval ROTC programs educate and train qualified young men and women for service as commissioned officers in the Navy’s unrestricted line, the Navy Nurse Corps and the Marine Corps. They receive 100 percent full tuition, books, fees and other financial benefits at many of the leading colleges and universities. Upon graduation, midshipmen are commissioned as officers in the US Navy or Marine Corps. #WeAreAUSD

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Antioch High grad honored as one of Contra Costa’s 27th Annual César Chávez Youth Hall of Fame Award winners

Tuesday, April 6th, 2021

This year’s theme: Move Our Community Forward! ¡Adelante Con Nuestra Communidad!

César Chávez. Source: Contra Costa County

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors celebrated the memory of César Chávez recognizing his commitment to social justice and respect for human dignity during the 27th Annual César E. Chávez Commemorative Virtual Celebration on Tuesday, March 30.

“We honor the memory of César E. Chávez and continue his commitment to fight for social justice and for those who can’t fight for themselves,” said Board Chair, Supervisor Diane Burgis. “We also recognize our 2021 Youth Hall of Fame awardees, highlighting deserving teens and their commitment to community and service.”

The theme for this year’s celebration was Move Our Community Forward – Adelante Con Nuestra Comunidad. The celebration featured three keynote speakers, including Antioch School Board Trustee Mary Rocha, Jane Garcia, Chief Executive Officer of La Clínica de La Raza, and San Pablo City Councilman Arturo Cruz. The event also included musical performances by Mariachi Monumental and Ballet Folklórico Netzahualcoyotl.

The Youth Hall of Fame Awards presentation acknowledges outstanding Contra Costa County teens who demonstrate excellence in one of six categories. The 2021 Youth Hall of Fame Awardees are:

Good Samaritan: Chris Garcia, Antioch High School

Leadership & Civic Engagement: Ryan Raimondi, Liberty High School

Middle School Rising Star: Stephanie Boustani, Acalanes High School

Perseverance: Bianey Douglas, Carondelet High School

Teamwork: Haley Brathwaite, Carondelet High School

Volunteerism: Jonathan Castaneda, Pinole Valley High

Garcia, who graduated in 2020, was also honored, last year as Antioch’s Youth of the Year and previously honored for helping a fellow student during a medical emergency in 2019. (See related article)

The annual celebration honors the diversity and richness of our community and its immigrants. Visit the César E. Chávez Ceremony webpage found in the “County Celebrations” section of Contra Costa County’s website www.contracosta.ca.gov for details and a look at the previous ceremony.

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Contra Costa County seeks applicants for Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors is seeking applicants interested in serving on its 20-member Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council (JJCC).  The JJCC currently has vacancies for two (2) At-Large Youth and one (1) At-Large Community-Member Representatives.

The JJCC is a multiagency advisory body that informs the development and implementation of a countywide juvenile justice plan composed of several critical parts, including, but not limited to an assessment of existing law enforcement, probation, education, mental health, health, social services, drug and alcohol and youth services resources which specifically target both at-promise as well as system-involved youth, and their families. The JJCC will also coordinate on a countywide basis the work of those governmental and non-governmental organizations engaged in activities designed to reduce the incidence of juvenile crime and delinquency in the greater community, develop information and intelligence-sharing systems to ensure that county actions are fully coordinated, and provide data and appropriate outcome measures.

The Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council is composed of the following 20 members:

Ten (10) Ex‐Officio Members:

  • Chief Probation Officer, as Chair
  • District Attorney’s Office representative
  • Public Defender’s Office representative
  • Sheriff’s Office representative
  • Board of Supervisors’ representative
  • Employment and Human Services Department representative
  • Behavioral Health Services representative
  • Alcohol and Other Drugs Division representative
  • Public Health representative
  • Juvenile Justice Commission Chair

Ten (10) Additional Members, appointed by the Board of Supervisors, as follows:

  • City Police Department representative
  • County Office of Education or a School District representative
  • Four (4) At-Large members, residing or working within Contra Costa County
  • Two (2) Community-Based Organization representatives
  • Two (2) At-Large youth, fourteen to twenty-five years old and residing or working within Contra Costa County

Appointments to the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council will be for a term of two years ending June 30, 2023. The JJCC meets monthly October through April and bi-monthly the remainder of the year. Members have the option to serve on three (2) two subcommittees that each currently meets monthly.

The application deadline is 5 pm on May 10, 2021. All timely applicants will be invited to the public interview process conducted by the Board of Supervisors’ Public Protection Committee: Supervisors Candace Andersen, District II, and Federal Glover, District V. This committee will then recommend a selection of applicants for the Board of Supervisors to appoint to the Racial Justice Oversight Body.

Below is a complete timeline of this recruitment process to fill the three (3) vacant JJCC seats:

  • May 10: Final Day of the Application Period, due by 5 pm
  • May 24: Public Protection Committee Meeting: Interviews
  • June 8: Board of Supervisors Appointments

Application forms can be obtained from the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors by calling (925) 655-2000 or by visiting the County webpage at www.contracosta.ca.gov/3418. Completed applications should be emailed to ClerkoftheBoard@cob.cccounty.us. Applications can also be mailed to the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors Office at 1025 Escobar Street, 1st Floor, Martinez, CA 94553.

 

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Contra Costa Probation Department eliminates collect calling for detained youth

Thursday, March 25th, 2021

The Contra Costa County Probation Department has permanently eliminated collect calling for youth detained at the Glenn A. Davis Juvenile Hall in Martinez, and Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility in Byron. Rather than continuing the practice of charging recipients when a youth makes a call, the Department will now absorb those costs.

“Our primary goals are harm reduction and removing barriers to success for our clients and their loved ones,” said Chief Probation Officer Esa Ehmen-Krause. “Eliminating this additional financial burden and creating a pathway for increased communication with loved ones is the right thing to do.”

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors has consistently demonstrated support for justice-involved youth and families. A moratorium was issued in 2016 on the assessment and collection of juvenile probation fees. In 2017, the Board took further action to permanently repeal these fees, and discharge any outstanding fees owed. These forward-thinking actions were ahead of Senate Bill 190, which required counties to eliminate juvenile fines and fees in 2018. This legislation did not include collect calling.

In these challenging times, it’s more important than ever that everyone stays connected to their families, especially youth, and I applaud the Probation Department for making it easier on families as we pursue the ultimate goal of reunification and living a healthy life,” said Diane Burgis, Chair of the Board of Supervisors.

Additionally, in response to the public health shelter in place order, the Department began utilizing video visitation in 2020, which has created the ability to offer more frequent contact between youth and their family members. The Department plans to continue this service, also provided at no cost, even after on-site visitation resumes. Video visitation affords family members who may have transportation challenges or mobility concerns with another resource to maintain contact with their loved ones.

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Most Antioch students will continue distance learning until end of school year, 50 learning centers for in person learning to open in April

Wednesday, March 24th, 2021

The Antioch School Board members and district staff met on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. Trustee Mary Rocha was not online, but participated by phone, again. Video screenshot.

Program qualifies for district to receive state funds for school reopening of over $4.5 million

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Wed., March 24, 2021 the Antioch School Board approved staff proposals that most district students would continue in distance learning for the remainder of the school year. Specifically, the board approved remaining in distance learning for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, opening 50+ learning centers across the District for students who would benefit from a classroom environment, providing an in-person learning option for students with disabilities in grades K-5 who attend Special Day Classrooms, and providing an in-person learning option for students with disabilities in the Community Based Instruction program.

The district staff report reads:

“Throughout the pandemic, our core values have remained the same:

To open schools for in-person learning in a manner that is safe, is the least disruptive to families, and provides the most instructional time as possible.

At this time, the majority of parents surveyed would like to continue in distance learning through the end of the school year. However, we also recognize that some families would like their children to be in a school environment. To meet as many of our families’ needs as possible while staying true to the core values stated above, staff is recommending the following:

Remain in distance learning for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.

Open 50+ learning centers across the District for students who would benefit from a classroom environment.

Provide an in-person learning option for students with disabilities in grades K-5 who attend Special Day Classrooms.

Provide an in-person learning option for students with disabilities in the Community Based Instruction program.”

Superintendent Stephanie Anello said “as you may be aware, we did a survey of parents, last week…it remained steady at 10,000 votes, 60% of parents wanted to remain at distance learning, because of the enormous disruption of dropping off students at 8 am then picking them up at 11 a.m.”

Associate Superintendent of Educational Services, Christine Ibarra spoke of “many hours and sleepless nights” developing the proposed plan.

“The health guidelines are constantly changing,” she continued.

“Many of our schools will have large screen TV’s that will take a picture of groups of students to determine if any has a temperature,” Anello interjected.

“We are grounding our decisions and our recommendation in what our values are,” Ibarra stated. “That’s with the least disruption” to families. “The majority of our parents prefer distance learning at this time.”

Learning Centers

Ibarra shared that each school would have multiple learning centers and the district will reach out to those parents who prefer in-person learning for their students. They will open April 19 for K-6 and on April 26 for grades 7-12.

“Students will be wearing masks at all times,” she continued. “We will be taking temperatures. Appropriate social distancing of desks will be followed.”

Asked how many hours the learning centers will be open, Anello responded, “We still have to negotiate that with the teachers.”

About 50 public comments were then read, which lasted for over two hours, with most from district staff members in favor of Anello’s recommendations.

Board members then gave their input.

Trustee Gary Hack said, “I do have some thoughts to share. One is I trust the current leadership at this district. I trust the employees of the district…who make their best efforts to educate and keep safe those 17,000 students. I trust the surveys and the feedback. Most of the surveys showed 60% to 70%…support distance learning. I don’t believe COVID-19 is history, yet.”

Trustee Antonio Hernandez asked, “does this plan qualify for some of the money set aside for school districts to open?”

“I have run this plan by school services of California and we have been assured it does…because we are bringing students back,” said Assistant Superintendent Jessica Romeo. “The money begins when school returns on April 1st. There are nine days of instruction that we will not receive. So, we will receive about 91% of the $5 million.”

“Do we know what summer and fall will look like?” he asked.

“We’ve been taking this pandemic one day at a time,” Anello responded. “We expect to have programs during the summer. Whether or not they’ll be in person we’ll have to decide.”

Hernandez asked about the survey responses. Anello said they were in line with attendance, but slightly over the average for the parents of Hispanic and white students and below average for Black students.

“We’re not going to be able to make everyone happy,” he said. “Everyone’s going to be upset no matter what the decision.”

“To say I’ve been thinking about this, a lot would be an understatement,” Board President Ellie Householder said. “No matter what we do there are going to be some people who will be unhappy. This has been very difficult. This is probably the most consequential vote that I will make in my life here at the school district. I’ve really made myself sick…worrying about this. I’m the first person to be critical of some of our programming overall. I say that to say I think this is the best plan we could have come up with. The hybrid model just wouldn’t work for folks. We live in a commuter city. It is a difficult plan. It is truly tailored to our community. I thought it was cool how you came up with this model with learning centers.”

“It all came back to keeping people safe…and asking for out of the box thinking,” Anello responded. “It was a group effort. Credit has to go to Ms. Romeo for proposing the idea.”

“We tried to come up with a plan that would meet the needs of the 60%,” Romeo then said.

“The playbook is out the window,” Householder said, referring to the plan as “in between distance learning and a hybrid model.”

“This is an elegant solution to a messy problem,” she concluded.

Trustee Dr. Clyde Lewis spoke next thanking the staff. “Making these decisions that have the impact on our students, on our community…is not easy. I want to appreciate as a parent the concerns that are still there.”

“The decisions we’re going to make, tonight they’re not easy,” he continued.

“From the plan that we have…the parents who want to stay in distance learning have that option?” Lewis asked.

“The PODS are specifically for

“The learning centers are not. Those are separate. Those are additional,” Anello responded. “They will be in a supervised setting, but they will be logging in with their teachers.”

He then asked about time and hours.

“It will depend on the amount of students at each school,” Romeo responded. “The more learning centers we can open, we will expand as there is a need to expand.”

“For those students who come to class without materials, will the school district be given materials?” Lewis asked.

“Yes,” Ibarra responded.

“I want to highlight. I know there’s going to be some blowback no matter which side we decide to sit on,” he shared. “This is an opportunity if you are unhappy to engage in dialogue to find out how these decisions were made.”

Trustee Mary Rocha asked, “will the learning centers be a lot of age difference?”

“We wouldn’t put high school kids with younger students,” Anello responded.

The number of learning centers at each school will differ based on the interest.

“It depends on the amount of students, is that it?” Rocha asked. “Yes,” Anello said. “It could be that you fill it up with all first graders because that is the interest.”

“At least we’re giving the parents the opportunity which way they want to go,” Rocha stated. “At least we’re given that child the opportunity to get some help with a para-professional.”

“What is happening with the band, the music and choral?” Rocha asked.

“As of Monday, band performances are allowed at sporting events,” Anello responded.

“If you’re going to get mad at somebody don’t get mad at the teachers,” Householder said. “But it’s the board’s decision, tonight. I’ve really felt like part of a team, even though I’m board president, I really feel part of a team.”

“I encourage you, if you have a disagreement engage in dialogue,” Lewis reiterated. “It’s about what’s best for the kiddos.”

Rocha then made a motion to approve the recommendation by the superintendent for the Fourth Quarter learning. Hack seconded the motion and it passed 5-0.

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