01-26-2022  2:24 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Report: Oregon Has Too Few Public Defenders

Oregon has only roughly one-third of the public defense attorneys it needs to provide reasonably effective assistance to low-income defendants

Blumenauer Boosts Efforts to Put Three Black History Landmarks on National List

Congressman makes case for Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, Dean’s Beauty Salon and Barber Shop, and the Golden West Hotel’s importance to city history and heritage.

Lawsuit Says New Majority Latino District in WA a 'Facade'

A Latino civil rights organization and others filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday that says new political maps in Washington state approved by a bipartisan redistricting panel intentionally dilute Hispanic voters' influence.

Washington Students' Test Scores Drop Significantly

Reports show that between 2019 and 2021, the overall percentage of students who met state standards on the math portion of the exam fell by 20 percentage points.

NEWS BRIEFS

Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU to Present 'To Survive on This Shore

Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults' ...

Final Week for 'Mending The Social Fabric' Interactive Exhibit

A parachute with rips and tears encourages community over the course of the exhibition as visitors sit and mend. The piece will be...

Nearly 35,000 Oregon Households Have Received More Than $243 Million in Rental Assistance Relief During Pandemic

OHCS will again begin accepting new applications for OERAP starting on Wed., Jan. 26, 2022. ...

Five Schools Return to In-person Instruction on Jan. 24

Alliance, Faubion, Franklin, Ockley Green, and Roosevelt return to in-person instruction; George, Harriet Tubman and Kellogg...

COVID cases decline in Seattle area, surge moves east

SEATTLE (AP) — Cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 are decreasing in the Seattle metro area, but hospital leaders are warning that the variant is gaining steam in eastern Washington and could further stress health care facilities. In King County, data shows the rise in omicron...

Oregon Legislature: Will Dems, GOP be able to get along?

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — As Oregon lawmakers prepare to return to the state Capitol next week for the 35-day legislative session, Republicans and Democrats have differing opinions on what that time should be used for. While Republicans say traditionally the short legislative session...

UNLV promotes interim AD Harper to full-time job

LAS VEGAS (AP) — UNLV has promoted interim athletic director Erick Harper to serve in the job full time. Harper's hiring, announced on Monday, was effective Jan. 1. He had served as interim athletic director since Desiree Reed-Francois left UNLV for Missouri in August. ...

Army stuns Missouri in Armed Forces Bowl on last-second FG

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Cole Talley kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired and Army rallied to beat Missouri 24-22 in the Armed Forces Bowl on Wednesday night. After the Tigers took a 22-21 lead on a touchdown with 1:11 to play, third-string quarterback Jabari Laws led Army...

OPINION

OP-ED: A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand

January 6th, Voting Rights and the Tyranny Threatening America ...

Support Nikole Hannah-Jones and The 1619 Project

This important and ambitious project pulled back the curtain of euphemistic rhetoric composing American historiography that points only to the good in our history and sweeps under the rug the evil deeds perpetrated against people of color ...

In 2021, Organized Labor is Again Flexing its Muscles

We have seen dramatic change in the makeup of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) under President Biden. ...

Study Reveals Racial Pay Gap for Social Media Influencers

The racial pay gap has long presented issues for African Americans in Corporate America and other industries. It’s now filtered to social media. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

India's Republic Day parade curtailed amid COVID-19

NEW DELHI (AP) — Thousands of people braved a morning chill Wednesday on a ceremonial boulevard in India's capital to watch a display of the country’s military power and cultural diversity, but the colorful annual Republic Day spectacle was curtailed amid COVID-19. Nearly 500...

Prosecution witnesses say they feared for Floyd's life

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Prosecutors at the federal trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights are trying to show that even bystanders knew the Black man needed help, while the officers failed to act as former Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on...

UN chief decries antisemitism, urges stand against hatred

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Antonio Guterres decried the resurgence of antisemitism in comments Tuesday night at a service commemorating victims of the Nazi Holocaust, and he urged people around the world to “stand firm against hate and bigotry anywhere and everywhere.” ...

ENTERTAINMENT

At Sundance, documentaries resurrect lost eras of music

NEW YORK (AP) — Can a music scene still develop the way grunge did in 1990's Seattle or hip-hop did in the Bronx in the 1970s? Or has the digital makeover of music made such geographical-based explosions obsolete? It's a question that hovers over the Sundance Film Festival...

‘Aftershock’ puts human face to maternal health crisis in US

It was 2017 when filmmaker Paula Eiselt started seeing articles about rising maternal mortality rates in the United States. She’d had traumatic experiences giving birth to her four children, but didn’t realize that the problems were widespread and disproportionately affecting Black women. ...

Howie Mandel urges pal Jay Leno to air 'Late Night' laundry

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Howie Mandel has a bone to pick with his longtime friend Jay Leno. On the podcast “Howie Mandel Does Stuff,” he tells Leno he should have publicly defended himself in the “Tonight Show" rivalries of decades past, when Leno and David Letterman and then Leno...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Meet Methuselah, the oldest living aquarium fish

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Meet Methuselah, the fish that likes to eat fresh figs, get belly rubs and is believed to...

Indigenous town in Mexico survives on remittances from US

COMACHUEN, Mexico (AP) — In Comachuen, a Purepecha Indigenous community of about 10,000 inhabitants nestled high...

As Fed meets, investor angst over rate hikes spooks markets

WASHINGTON (AP) — Wild volatility in the stock market this week has put heightened scrutiny on the Federal...

Migrant abuses continue in Libya. So does EU border training

BRUSSELS (AP) — A confidential European Union military report calls for continuing a controversial EU program to...

German lawmakers to debate possible COVID vaccine mandate

BERLIN (AP) — Germany's parliament is set to hold its first debate Wednesday on a possible wide-ranging...

Indonesia's capital is sinking, polluted and now moving

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Jakarta is congested, polluted, prone to earthquakes and rapidly sinking into the Java...

Michael Martinez CNN

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- In the wake of a teacher misconduct scandal, Los Angeles school officials have referred the discipline cases of 604 teachers from the past four years to state authorities to decide whether the teachers' licenses should also be revoked, a school spokesman said Thursday.

Of the 604 cases in which teachers were fired or facing discipline, 60 teachers were accused of sexual misconduct with pupils on or off campus or with minors who weren't students, school officials told CNN.

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing will investigate 366 of the 604 teacher cases, spokeswoman Anne Padilla said on Thursday. Most of the cases focused on allegations of teacher misconduct that involved student safety.

The referral of the cases to state licensing investigators is the latest turn in the nation's second largest school system. It has been reeling from a scandal at Miramonte Elementary School, where two teachers have been charged with lewd acts on pupils, including one teacher accused of putting children in adult-like bondage situations and placing semen-filled spoons at their mouths.

The lurid allegations prompted an internal review of the system's handling of past teacher misconduct cases, and the district determined that 604 cases needed to be referred to state licensing authorities for review, though "a substantial number" of other misconduct cases had already been reported to the state, school officials told CNN.

"Protecting California's schoolchildren is always a priority for the commission. The workload has been a challenge, but a necessary one," commission executive director Mary Vixie Sandy said in a statement.

The 604 cases include teachers who were disciplined or were about to face discipline since July 2008, according to Ira Berman, Los Angeles Unified School District director of employee relations, and Vivian Ekchian, the district's chief human resources officer.

The cases also include teachers who were fired by the school board or who left the district after termination proceedings were initiated or while an allegation of misconduct was pending, Berman and Ekchian said.

The system doesn't know whether any of the teachers who were fired or who left the district are still in the classroom in other school districts, according to Berman and Ekchian.

The 604 figure also includes teachers who were suspended for 11 days or more for a variety of reasons not involving sexual misconduct with students, the two officials said.

"The safety of our students is our No. 1 priority," Ekchian said in explaining why the system referred the 604 cases to the state.

The United Teachers Los Angeles, the teachers' union, had no comment Thursday on the school board's action, spokeswoman Marla Eby said.

The system's internal investigation arose after parental outrage at Miramonte, where a teacher resigned from the system last year but was not referred to the state for possible license revocation, school district spokesman Tom Waldman said.

That person is former teacher Mark Berndt, 61, who pleaded not guilty in February to allegations he bound young students, then photographed them with semen-filled spoons held at their mouths and three-inch cockroaches crawling across their faces, among other graphic depictions.

"We had not informed Sacramento to revoke Mr. Berndt's credentials," Waldman said.

Berndt's teaching credentials have been suspended, Padilla said.

Berndt is being held on $23 million bond and faces 23 counts of lewd acts on a child. The 23 victims were between 7 and 10 years old, and all but two of them were girls, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said.

Authorities have said they have discovered roughly 600 images allegedly taken by Berndt in his classroom.

Los Angeles School Superintendent John Deasy has said Berndt was removed from his teaching job in January 2011 after school officials learned of the police investigation.

A teacher for 30 years, Berndt initially challenged the school district's decision to dismiss him. But he eventually dropped his appeal and resigned last spring.

His arrest in January led to a broader fallout over the adequacy of safeguards for the school's students and the prospect of more victims.

Days after Berndt was taken into custody, another Miramonte Elementary teacher -- Martin Springer, 49 -- was arrested and charged with three felony counts of lewd acts with a girl younger than 14. He has pleaded not guilty.

The school board subsequently shut Miramonte for two days, during which the board reconstituted the entire staff in the 1,400-student school. Miramonte is in unincorporated Los Angeles County within the Florence-Firestone area, about six miles south of downtown Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, the California state auditor is going to carry out an emergency $300,000 audit of the Los Angeles Unified School District's actions in managing and documenting child abuse claims, said State Assemblyman Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, who sponsored the performance audit proposal.

The incident at Miramonte and similar allegations of child sex abuse at other Los Angeles public schools prompted the audit, Lara said.

CNN's Jaqueline Hurtado contributed to this report.

The Skanner Foundation's Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast

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