LCUSD Grapples With Approach to Diversity Plan

One month after diversity, equity and inclusion consultant Christina Hale-Elliott presented her findings — collected over a year — to the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board, that panel on Tuesday returned to a discussion of the matter and took what it considered a step toward achieving DEI goals.
During a virtual meeting, the board decided to include progress on DEI as one of Superintendent Wendy Sinnette’s objectives for this school year, to help the district sketch a “road map to a road map,” according to board President Joe Radabaugh.
“I am supportive of diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Radabaugh, who will partner with board member Kaitzer Puglia to work with Sinnette in framing the specifics of the DEI goals of creating a welcoming environment for all stakeholders regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or other factors. “It really fits with our historic focus on the whole child, not just academic excellence but making them good people and preparing them for the future, especially staging them for success in an ever increasingly diverse world.”
Board member Dan Jeffries noted it’s a tradition for the LCUSD to place issues that “we consider to be very important” on the superintendent’s short list of goals. Sinnette did not provide details about the next step but acknowledged the importance of Hale-Elliott’s three-year implementation plan, which “identifies clear actions, strategies and deliverables” each year, helping staff members determine the effectiveness of actions and services in meeting the goals. Any plans will be reviewed and voted on by the board.
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Obituary- Linda Jean O’Hair

Linda Jean O’Hair

On Tuesday, August 18, Linda Jean O’Hair passed away after courageously battling cancer. She was at home surrounded by her devoted husband Don, their son Michael, and their three grandchildren, Winston, Madison and Morgan Thornbury. Don and his grandchildren had cared for Linda round the clock in her final week, in her custom-built La Cañada home. She wouldn’t have had it any other way. 

Linda was born and raised in Glendale to parents Jean and Don Abbott. She had one sibling, a younger sister named Sherrill. In 1959 Linda met a tall, handsome man named Don O’Hair, and they ended up spending 61 wonderful years together. On their first date, he made it abundantly clear “I’m going to marry you!” There was one slight problem, Linda was already engaged. But, persistent Don won her heart and they married in March 1960. In a short time she delivered two beautiful children into this world, Michael Don O’Hair and Laura Lynn O’Hair.
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Officials Caution Against Risky Labor Day Gatherings

Recent community transmission data has indicated a decline in confirmed COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County, a trend that public health officials strongly hope to see continue during the holiday weekend — and they’ve urged area residents to help avoid a reversal of the progress.
“As we approach the Labor Day weekend and as we plan for how our county will reopen schools and more businesses, we must learn from our past,” Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said in a statement released on Monday. “Gatherings — parties, cookouts and the other activities we usually do with non-household members on holidays — can easily lead to increase in transmission, hospitalizations and death.”
The department this week urged residents to “heed the lessons learned from the spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths that occurred after the previous holidays” and find alternative ways to celebrate “without going to parties and barbecues hosted by non-household members.”
“As we look at the possibility of reopening more businesses and, eventually, schools, there is a lot at stake,” Ferrer said Tuesday, returning to the theme. “Increased numbers of people being around one another can result in more transmission of COVID-19, at a time where we need to be doubling down on our efforts to slow the spread. Our past weekend inspections demonstrated that 20% of restaurants and 17% of markets are still not in compliance with the Health Officer Orders. This does not help us get our numbers down.”
La Cañada Flintridge Mayor Michael Davitt echoed Ferrer’s proclamation of following health guidelines this holiday weekend.
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City Panel Advises Against Ending Pact With Sheriff’s Dept.

As demonstrations supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and police reform take place throughout the nation, a subcommittee of the La Cañada Flintridge Public Safety Commission has released a report addressing concerns over the city’s contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
During a telephone meeting on Tuesday, the subcommittee consisting of chair Marilyn Smith and Maureen Siegel-Sprowles advised against terminating the city’s contract with the department after speaking with representatives from La Cañada BLM; Save Our Sheriff; Sheriffs Appreciated, Friendly and Engaged; the department; and the city staff.
“We spent a lot of time on this,” Smith said, “and I think our focus from the beginning was to be as evidence-based as possible, to find facts, to drown out the noise and just go with where the facts take us.”
The full commission unanimously approved the adoption of the report and its recommendations. The 11-page document will be sent to staff members and presented to the City Council, which will determine whether to place it on a future agenda.
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Family Seeks Answers From YMCA After Teen’s Drowning

Photo by Christian Leonard / Outlook Valley Sun
Mairena and Phil Jacobs (right) organized a protest Tuesday in connection with the death of their son, Colin, at a YMCA of the Foothills branch, saying the tragedy was preventable.

A family held a protest outside the La Cañada Flintridge branch of the YMCA of the Foothills on Tuesday to demand information about their son’s drowning at a nearby YMCA facility.
Colin Jacobs, a St. Francis High School alumnus and USC student, died on July 1; he had been working as a summer camp counselor at the YMCA branch in La Crescenta. A longtime volunteer for the organization, he was less than two weeks away from his 20th birthday.
Two months later, his family and friends say the YMCA of the Foothills has yet to explain what happened or promise any changes to its policies. About 50 people gathered with signs in front of the organization’s LCF location, which was chosen because it hosts the YCMA’s administrative offices, though it is not the site where Jacobs drowned.
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Diversity Plan’s Future Worries Some LCUSD Stakeholders

Outlook Valley Sun photo
Christina Hale-Elliott, a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant, is shown at one of her workshops during the 2019-2020 school year.

It was “Back to School Night” last week for the La Cañada Unified School District, and parents like Vanessa Rosas hunkered down Thursday evening to take in what was going to be a virtual presentation of the annual event, this year’s program emphasizing the distance learning platform that has gripped the community in the age of the coronavirus pandemic.
She felt wary, as most parents do by now, of the way remote learning is affecting the morale and academic effectiveness of her youngsters, but when La Cañada High School 7/8 representatives dug in with a high-energy virtual presentation to help animate students and parents, she perked up.
Then her spirits crashed.
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Virus Stats Improve, but Don’t Permit Return to Campuses

Confirmed coronavirus cases continue to decline in Los Angeles County, a trend that has made local school district officials optimistic about being able to offer in-class instruction at the elementary level, but any hopes for reopening campuses in the near future were dashed Wednesday by county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
“At this point, [the Department of] Public Health will not be opening up our waiver process for schools,” Ferrer said in a statement. “We will be closely reviewing the guidance from the state and will be reviewing all options with [county supervisors] to ensure that schools are able to open as safely as possible for all children and staff.
“We do need to continue taking all of the steps that were taking these past few weeks so that our community transmission rates remain low enough for us to continue our recovery journey,” she added in the county’s update, “and a very important piece of that recovery journey is getting our children back to schools.”
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St. Francis Investigates Racist Comments During Virtual Mass

St. Francis High School officials said they continue to investigate hate-filled, racist posts that were anonymously sent during the school’s livestreamed Mass last Thursday, noting that the administration is “heartbroken and embarrassed” and committed to identifying those responsible.
The school is engaged in addressing racism-related issues and raising awareness among all its constituents, officials added, though they said SFHS students are not believed to be responsible for the comments.
Staff, students and community members expressed dismay when, during the school’s worship, a stream of racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic comments flooded the online chat function and were visible to participants in the virtual Mass.
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LCHS Chamber Singers Get High-Profile Engagement

Photo courtesy Jeff Brookey
The La Cañada High School Chamber Singers will perform at the American Choral Directors Association national conference in March. Program director Jeff Brookey is pictured conducting singers during a performance last year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the education landscape throughout the nation, but there remains a constant at La Cañada High School.
The school’s choir program, headed by Jeff Brookey, is one of the most lauded in the area, having won national competitions and traveled internationally to perform at iconic venues in Europe, such as St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and Notre Dame Cathedral.
Another prestigious honor can be added to that list. The school’s Chamber Singers were recently selected to perform in a concert session at the American Choral Directors Association’s national conference, which was to have been held in Dallas but will now be a virtual event due to the coronavirus and will be held March 17-20, 2021.
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Obituary | Eugene Corbet Blackmun 1936 – 2020

Eugene Corbet Blackmun passed on 07/04/2020 following an extended illness. He was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1936, the son of Robert Lynwood Blackmun and Frances Eleanor (Shulte) Blackmun. He is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Marilyn (Montroy) Blackmun, his daughter M. Michelle Chapa (Pete), his son, Christopher C. Blackmun, two granddaughters, Olivia and Mary Chapa, and two grandsons, Cameron Blackmun and Samuel Chapa. He was also blessed to have three siblings; brother, Robert Blackmun (Shirlee), and sisters, Phyllis Parker and Gail Warner as well as generations of extended family and many friends.
During his successful career in dentistry, he found time to serve as president of both the Hollywood Dental Society and the Hollywood – Los Feliz Kiwanis Club as well as coach the Little League baseball teams in La Crescenta. He relished fishing in the Eastern Sierras with his Kiwanis buddies and regular golf games at the La Cañada Country Club. Gene’s sense of humor and love of family will be sorely missed.
Donations may be made to Good Shepherd Center for Homeless Women and Children or the Wounded Warrior Project. A memorial celebration of his life will be at a later date.