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Morning Lookout: Key players in SLV sex abuse probe speak up, beloved venue gets revamp

Good Morning! It’s Monday, May 17 and it’ll be mostly cloudy with a high of 63. Also, a reminder: Today is the deadline to file your taxes unless you file for an extension (here’s the form for that).

We’re waking up to breaking news out of the nation’s capital: A more conservative U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a major challenge to the reach of the landmark Roe vs. Wade abortion ruling. Meanwhile, the Treasury Department announced today that starting in July, 39 million families will receive monthly child payments as part of President Joe Biden’s COVID relief package.

Locally, in the latest installments of our coverage of the sexual misconduct probe at San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District, we spoke to key players: Our Nick Ibarra asked the county’s top education official Fairs Sabbah to reflect on the persistent challenge of sexual misconduct in schools and more. Meanwhile, I sat down with the two 18-year-olds behind the Instagram account that has set off the investigations into four district employees.

This is the kind of accountability journalism that Lookout members support in Santa Cruz County and we are grateful. If you’re enjoying our coverage and want to support our work, consider becoming a Lookout member.

Here are your headlines:

‘It’s bigger than just us now’: SLV teens behind Instagram account alleging school sex abuse speak up

An Instagram account @santacruzsurvivorsspeak posts the sexual assault claims of students, teens and alumni
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Two 18-year-old women have sparked a revolution of sorts after they started an Instagram account to post the stories of teen survivors of sexual assault. The account has posted more than 45 stories detailing sexual assaults from students and alumni of San Lorenzo Valley High and other schools in the county. The accusations have resulted in SLVUSD putting two teachers on paid leave and investigating two other district employees. Until now, the creators of the Instagram page hadn’t spoken publicly. But, the women recently agreed to be interviewed on condition of anonymity. Read the full story here.

‘Heartbreaking it’s happening in our schools’: Faris Sabbah talks educator misconduct, flaws in the system: In the wake of allegations against SLVUSD teachers and staff and a recent report alleging misconduct against a former Kirby School teacher, Lookout spoke with Santa Cruz County’s top education official, Superintendent of Schools Faris Sabbah, and asked him to reflect on the wave of allegations and potential reforms. “I think it’s heartbreaking that it’s happening in our schools because I think we have this responsibility to do everything we can to make sure our schools are safe,” he said. Read his full interview by Nick Ibarra here.


SLV school district parting ways with senior administrator Ned Hearn, accused of decades-old sexual abuse

Decades-old sexual abuse allegations against SLVUSD administrator resurface in lawsuit

FULL COVERAGE: Read Lookout’s full coverage of the sexual assault allegations dogging San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District here.

Sign up today! The Tannery Arts Center, in partnership with Arts Council Santa Cruz County and Intersection for the...

‘The Yard At Moe’s Alley’ set to bring the outdoor good vibes of local beer gardens to iconic music house

The Coffis Brothers play The Yard at Moe's Alley.
(Courtesy Moe’s Alley)

THE HERE & NOW: The Yard is an uncomplicated, informal, live-music-cold-beer revamping of the patio at stalwart venue Moe’s Alley, and shows there are already selling out as the Santa Cruz music scene emerges from the pandemic. New owners Brian Ziel and Lisa Norelli have created essentially a new venue right alongside the familiar one, an outdoor space the vibe of which is very similar to popular outdoor spaces at beer gardens like Beer Thirty or Humble Sea. Read more from our Wallace Baine here.

Around the state and nation...

United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
(Via Pixabay)

Supreme Court agrees to hear major abortion case challenging Roe vs. Wade: The Supreme Court said today it would hear a major challenge to the reach of the landmark Roe vs. Wade abortion ruling and decide whether states may bar nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It is the court’s first major move to reconsider abortion rights since Justice Amy Coney Barrett replaced Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September. Read more from the LA Times here.

Police respond to the scene where a man was shot in Watsonville on Thursday night.
(Watsonville Police Department)

Homicides surge in California amid COVID shutdowns of schools, youth programs: California endured a brutal spike in homicides in 2020 across large swaths of the state, registering the largest year-over-year increase in victims in three decades. There were 5.8 homicides per 100,000 residents in 2020, the highest rate in California since 2008. Experts cite as one significant factor a rise in gang violence fueled by pandemic shutdowns of schools, sports leagues and programs for at-risk youth. Read more from our partners at Kaiser Health News here.

COVID 2021 Updates

File image of a woman wearing a face mask.
(via Pixabay)

Many experts say to keep masks on, as pushback to CDC ruling intensifies: As we continue to wait on Santa Cruz County public health officials’ guidance on mask-wearing, a growing number of health experts who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 said they’ll keep their masks on in public settings, pushing back against the CDC’s new recommendations announced last week. Experts are divided, but many have said it’s better to be on the safe side for now. Read more from the LA Times here.

READ ALSO: Masking up at a store? What Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Ralphs, CVS, Walgreens and other retailers say (LA Times)

Students in Mrs. Darsi Green's, 2nd grade class at Weaverville Elementary School

39 million families to receive monthly child payments starting in July, Treasury says: The Treasury Department announced today that 39 million families are set to receive monthly child payments beginning July 15. The payments are part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9-trillion coronavirus relief package, and qualified families will receive a payment of up to $300 per month for each child under 6 and up to $250 per month for children between the ages of 6 and 17. Read more from the Associated Press here.

What does approval of the Pfizer vaccine for teens and preteens mean for your child? The federal government has extended the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to preteens and young adolescents, adding nearly 17 million more Americans to the pool of those eligible to be immunized against COVID-19. No doubt you have questions about the vaccine and giving it to your kids. Our partners at Kaiser Health News address many questions parents may have in this article.

Presented by Santa Cruz County Bank

Wild Poppies – a small local olive oil business – was created by two sisters, Kim Null and Jamie de Sieyes. Their...

Around the county...

Did you hear that big boom in Santa Cruz County Thursday night? What experts say happened (Lookout Santa Cruz)

UC Santa Cruz undergrads provide books to kids with incarcerated family member (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Buddhist Temple presents virtual theater production on May 22 (The Pajaronian)

That’s it for today. If you want to stay abreast of all the big goings-on as they’re happening, I suggest you sign up for our free Breaking News Text Alerts here or text the word BREAKING to (831) 387-7662.

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Have a great day!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor