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This Week in Sebastopol
Local leadership in education is having a very bad week, April 17-23.
West County High School made news this week for a racist incident by a student and an inappropriate response by the interim district superintendent, who then resigned, as reported by Nashelly Chavez in the Press Democrat. We won’t rehash the racist incident, which is just awful and was made worse that it appeared on social media. Student activist Katieann Nguyen, editor-in-chief of the student-run West County World, writes about the red flags she spotted in her April 13 meeting with Interim Superintendent Eric Hoppes along with fellow student Dylan Peña. The meeting was to discuss the apology Hoppes sent out to parents, faculty and students, in which he said that the students responsible for the racial incident had been disciplined but added that they should be forgiven for their mistakes, a position that Nguyen felt dismissed the underlying issues involved. Hoppes bungled the meeting with the two students and later resigned after being in the job only for a couple months. One thing we were happy to discover as a result of this mess was the West County World, a replacement for the Tiger Times, that is well worth reading.
SSU’s $600K settlement of sexual harassment claims against the husband of SSU President, Judy Sakaki, and claims of her retaliation against a subordinate, have roiled the campus, leading to a vote of no-confidence. President Sasaki announced the separation from her husband and future plans for SSU just before the vote but that didn’t seem to sway the faculty.
The Ukranian Flag at the entrance to Sebastopol was defaced with an anti-war message and had to be replaced by it supporters, Sebastopol World Friends, in a story by Mary Callahan in the PD.
SoCoNews.org, which provides local news to Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Windsor and Cloverdale, will cease publishing at the end of April. The organization announced this week that it will cease publishing its newsletters, including its West County newsletter, and that its last remaining print paper, The Healdsburg Tribune, is closing as well. What their carefully crafted announcement did not say was that they are essentially stopping all news reporting for an undisclosed period of time. Their managing editor Zoe Strickland and longtime reporter Katherine Minkiewicz have resigned, and the remainder of the staff will be laid off at the end of the month. The non-profit Sonoma County Local News Initiative (SCLNI), which has overseen the paper since it became a nonprofit in 2020, will continue to exist. Headed by Sebastopol resident and former KRCB executive director Nancy Dobbs, the organization hopes to resume news coverage in the future. It is a hope we share.
While these newsletters will stop, the nonprofit Sonoma County Local News Initiative will carry on, and we invite you to follow along — We know there is a need for quality local reporting, from youth sports, to investigative journalism, to in-depth features on your friends, family and neighbors, to deep dives into local government.
Get out in the garden and about the town this weekend.
Today is Earth Day with some related activities through the weekend in the county.
Get free compost on Sunday April 24 from 10am to 1pm out behind the Youth Annex on Morris Street.
The Apple Blossom Parade and Festival is this weekend, sponsored by the Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center. If you go, let us know what you liked.
In Sebastopol Times
Laura Hagar-Rush wrote about “The Battle To Reshape Downtown” and a possible proposal to make Main Street a two-way street.
Rest assured that you’ll be able to find the Sebastopol Police Logs here as SoCoNews winds down. We’ve added a map of key incidents. Thanks, Mary Fricker.
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