Monday, September 15, 2014

UPDATED: CR Prez to Retire

Posted By on Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 9:25 AM

After two years leading College of the Redwoods, President Kathryn Smith announced in an email to staff Friday that she'll be retiring at the conclusion of her contract, which runs through the conclusion of this school year, expiring June 30, 2015.

Smith confirmed the news to the Journal via email this morning, and said the campus will be following up with an official news release later today (the release is now copied below). See Smith's full letter to staff below:

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

HSU Conference Focuses on Addiction, Social Change

Posted By on Wed, Sep 3, 2014 at 2:29 PM

Gabor Mate
  • Gabor Mate
“It's not about quick fixes. It's about commitment, persistence and showing up.”

Virginia Belton, PhD candidate and founder of Redwood Palliative Psychology, says that our community is on the cusp of a change. With one of the highest drug-induced death rates in the state (far above the state average, according to the California Center on Rural Policy), Belton says the time has come to educate healers and community members on an approach to trauma and addiction that moves “beyond the biomedical model.”

Belton says she is “catching my breath and pinching myself, I'm so excited,” about this weekend's conference on trauma, addiction and social change, to be held at Humboldt State University. The conferences features Gabor Mate as a keynote speaker. Mate is a Canadian palliative care physician whose ground-breaking work on addiction and trauma has been chronicled in several best-sellers, including In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts and When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection. Mate's work examines the role of early childhood brain development and inherited trauma on an individual's vulnerability to addiction. He advocates for holistic, society-wide change rather than a punitive approach.

Other noted speakers include Christopher Peters, president and CEO of the Seventh Generation Fund, Dr. Charles Garfield, Dr. Michael Yellowbird, Dr. Brent Potter and Dr. Eric Greene. Locals Betty Chinn, Bill Damiano and Mike Goldsby will also give presentations on Humboldt-specific issues.

The conference starts Thursday evening and ends Sunday. All community members are invited to attend, though registration is required. For more information, visit the conference's website.

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Accused HSU Lecturer Released After Child Porn Arrest

Posted By on Sat, Aug 30, 2014 at 2:50 PM

  • Haynes
A Humboldt State University lecturer posted bail and was released from custody hours after his arrest on suspicion of possessing and distributing child pornography Friday.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office announced with a press release that — after a months-long investigation involving numerous federal and local agencies — detectives arrested Christopher Steven Haynes, a 64-year-old award-winning lecturer who has taught geography courses at HSU for decades.

According to the sheriff’s office press release, the investigation began in June when a website company contacted the Department of Homeland Security to report that child pornography was being uploaded and viewed on a server hosted by the company. Through the investigation, authorities were able to locate I.P. addresses associated with the uploaded images and one of those addresses was allegedly tracked back to Haynes.

Investigators with the University Police Department, the sheriff’s office, the FBI and the Arcata Police Department served a search warrant on Haynes’ home in July and seized a computer, a thumb drive and a hard drive. A subsequent search of the devices by a Humboldt County District Attorney investigator allegedly located thousands of “child pornography pictures and videos,” according to the release.

Haynes was arrested at noon Friday without incident at his Arcata home, but posted $100,000 bail before the end of the day, according to Humboldt County jail staff. He was taken into custody on suspicion of possessing matter depicting a minor engaging or simulating sexual conduct; sending or duplicating sexual content involving a minor; exchanging or distributing content involving a matter depicting sexual content involving a minor and sexual exploitation of a child. Attempts to learn whether officials intend to prosecute Haynes federally or on the local level were not immediately successful.

According to HSU Associate Vice President of Advancement Frank Whitlatch, Haynes — an alum of the university — officially retired from HSU about five years ago but continued to teach a “limited number of classes on an annual contract basis.” Haynes taught a single class last semester — Spring of 2014 — and was listed on a tentative schedule to teach another class this semester. Whitlatch couldn’t say whether Haynes was dropped from this semester’s class schedule as a result of the criminal investigation, saying he’s “pretty constrained” by personnel rules. Whitlatch did add that tentative course schedules “often go through many changes” and that Haynes "does not have a current contract with HSU."

From nearly all accounts, Haynes was a popular teacher throughout his tenure at HSU. The website features 18 reviews of him, and he boasts high marks in all categories save for “easiness.” Most reviewers raved about his lectures, with one suggesting he “give teaching lessons to other profs.” A couple reviewers, however, left negative comments about Haynes’ personality. “Great teacher, but a real prick,” wrote one.
Students weren’t the only ones to take notice of Haynes lecturing abilities. In 2007, he was named the Outstanding Educator of the Year by the California Geographic Society — a prestigious award given annually to a single geography instructor teaching in kindergarten through the university level. One of the people who nominated him for the award deemed him the “Pied Piper of geography.”

Haynes has not been charged in the case and the investigation remains ongoing. The sheriff’s office asks that anyone with information come forward and call 445-7251 or the Crime Tip Line at 268-2539.

See the full sheriff’s office press release below, followed by a statement from HSU.

From the sheriff's office:


On 06-05-2014 the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the United States Department of Homeland Security ( D.H.S.) regarding Child Pornography being uploaded. A Sheriff’s Office Detective was assigned to the case and worked with the D.H.S. Cybercrimes unit The D.H.S. Agents told the Detective they were contacted by a website company that saw images of Child Pornography being posted and viewed on a server the website hosted. They provided the name of the server to D.H.S. who reviewed it and the contents. The server company provided I.P. addresses that were tracked down to individuals. One of those addresses belonged to a Christopher Steven Haynes, 64 years old, from Arcata. The Sheriff Detective wrote a search warrant for Haynes residence and computer, which the detective served July 10, 2014 with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Humboldt State University Police and Arcata Police. During the search of the residence, the detective located and seized Haynes computer, a thumb and hard drive which Haynes provided to the detective. A Humboldt County District Attorney Office investigator conducted a forensic examination on the computer, hard drive and thumb drive, which revealed thousands of Child Pornography pictures and videos.

The detective wrote and obtained a Humboldt County Superior Court arrest warrant for Haynes for possession of matter depicting a minor engaging or simulating sexual conduct, sending or duplicating sexual content involving a minor, exchanging or distributing content involving a matter depicting sexual content involving a minor and sexual exploitation of a child.

On 08-29-2104, at approximately 12:00 p.m. Sheriff’s Detectives drove to Haynes home and arrested him on the felony arrest warrant. He was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where his bail was set at $100,000.00.

Anyone with information for the Sheriffs Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriffs Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriffs Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

From HSU:

Humboldt State University police have been assisting the Department of Homeland Security and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office with an investigation of Christopher Haynes, who was arrested today on charges related to child pornography. Haynes is a former geography instructor at HSU. The University will continue to cooperate with local and federal authorities as needed. 

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Lisa Rossbacher's First Day on Campus

Posted By on Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 6:21 PM

New HSU President Lisa Rossbacher. - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters
  • New HSU President Lisa Rossbacher.

It was beautifully gray-skied today up at Humboldt State University — just the weather the institution’s new president, Lisa Rossbacher, had been promised she could (happily) expect here in her new home county.

After a surprise blast of welcoming horns from the Marching Lumberjacks, Rossbacher hiked around campus on her first official day, meeting staff and some faculty and taking care of initial business. First she got her library card, saying she had her priorities straight. She also picked up her keys: four metal ones and a plastic access card. “Oh, my goodness, it’s old school,” Rossbacher teased when Traci Ferdolage, associate vice president of facilities management, laid the metal keys before her. As Ferdolage explained the complicated ins and outs of locks and security alarms, Rossbacher joked again, “So it’s a lot of opportunities to set off alarms.”

Traci Ferdolage, associate vice president of facilities management, left, and new HSU President Lisa Rossbacher. - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters
  • Traci Ferdolage, associate vice president of facilities management, left, and new HSU President Lisa Rossbacher.
She also visited the auto shop, mail room, print shop, forestry building and veterans, disability and sustainability programs and more. Rossbacher asked people about their work, how long they’d been doing it, and then often delved deeper into conversation.

Anthony Baker, HSU's facilities business service coordinator, left; Traci Ferdolage, associate vice president of facilities management; and new HSU President Lisa Rossbacher. - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters
  • Anthony Baker, HSU's facilities business service coordinator, left; Traci Ferdolage, associate vice president of facilities management; and new HSU President Lisa Rossbacher.

Rossbacher is Humboldt State University's seventh president and its first woman president. She takes over from President Rollin C. Richmond, who retired this year.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Updated. Our Miss California Contender

Posted By on Sat, Jun 28, 2014 at 11:28 AM

  • Photo courtesy Kathryn Faull for Miss California Facebook page
  • Kathryn Faull

Tonight, at the William Saroyan Theatre in toasty downtown Fresno, the winner of this year's Miss California pageant will be crowned after a buoyant Broadway-themed spectacular. And among the 54 contending young women is one of our own: Humboldt State University kinesiology student Kathryn Faull, Miss Central California Regional 2014. If she wins, she competes in the Miss America contest in September.

Faull's actually a Stockton native, but she's at HSU now. And while — hold on, now, all you pageant haters, let me finish. And while (judging by her Facebook page), Faull seems as bubbly, girly and polished as any self-respecting pageant lover could hope, she's no flibbertigibbet. In fact, it's doubtful anyone too flighty could rise this high in the contest. They're competing for higher education scholarships, for one, and that's what drew in Faull, according to a quote in The Fresno Bee:

"'As a child, I swore that I would never be a pageant girl,' Faull said. 'However, when I knew I would be attending Humboldt State, I knew I needed scholarships.'"

Each contestant has to raise money, in part for those scholarships. Last year, according to the Miss America Organization, it and its state and local organizations gave out $45 million in cash and scholarships, "making it the world’s largest single source of scholarships for women." Within that, the Miss California scholarship stash is the largest.

The contestants also raise money for the Children's Miracle Networks hospitals and the winner commits to spending time hanging out with those hospitalized kids. And, contestants have to demonstrate a specific talent and survive tough-question interviews — Faull, on her Facebook page, said she strutted her stuff (tap dancing) and that she aced one on-stage question in particular: "It was in regards to the Affordable Care Act and I know just how I feel about it!" (She doesn't elucidate.)

Sure, the women also must shine in a bathing suit and evening gown, but those get-ups simply show off how serious they are about fitness. We're talking role models, here. Certainly personality counts, but it's not quite like the early days of the Miss America Pageant — to which all regional and state contests lead — when the women donned bathing suits and talked pretty so that a bunch of East Coast newspapermen could boost their papers' circulations (according to

Ahem. Well, that's something.
UPDATE: And the winner is: Miss Yosemite Valley Marina Inserra.
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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Del Norte School Board Extends ACLU Settlement

Posted By on Sat, May 10, 2014 at 1:12 PM

  • Thinkstock
The Del Norte County Unified School District Board voted unanimously this week to extend its settlement agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which stemmed from a lawsuit brought against the district alleging a pattern of racial discrimination against Native American students.

The district has made progress under the settlement agreement adopted in 2009, all sides agree, working to develop and implement curriculum teaching the history of the Yurok Tribe, forming the American Indian Education Advisory Council and reducing the numbers of suspensions and expulsions. Additionally, the district has largely complied with the terms of a monitoring program put in place with the settlement.

However, there’s more work to be done. From the board’s staff report: “The district has been unable to fully develop, implement and monitor the implementation of curricula that teaches about the history and culture of the Yurok Tribe for grades 5, 8, 11 and 12. Despite the reduction in suspensions and expulsions, more could be done, including continuing to reduce all forms of exclusionary discipline and reducing the racial disparities in that exclusionary discipline.”

The vote extends the settlement agreement through August 2017.

“By extending our agreement, district officials have strengthened their commitment to ensuring in future years that Native American students have equal opportunities to achieve education success,” Jory Steele, managing attorney and director of education equity for the ACLU of Northern California, said in a press release. “We are confident that the district, along with community members and tribal leaders, will improve the educational outcomes for all the district’s students.”

It’s likely administrators in Eureka are keeping a close eye on the situation in Del Norte as the ACLU brought a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Eureka City Schools District in December, alleging that Native American and black students are subjected to unchecked, systemic racial and sexual discrimination from students and staff and that minority students suffer unequal discipline. You can read more about the case against Eureka City Schools here.
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Arcata School Nationally Recognized

Posted By on Wed, Apr 9, 2014 at 9:29 AM

Wow, those are some smart whippersnappers.

The Washington Post just ranked Arcata’s Northcoast Preparatory and Performing Arts Academy as the 21st most challenging high school in the country. To compile the rankings, the Post computed an index score using the number of college-level tests given at the school divided by its number of graduates that year, the percentages of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch and the percentage of graduates who passed at least one college-level test during their high school career.

It turns out, 95 percent of Northcoast Prep’s graduates passed at least one college-level test during their career and about 43 percent qualify for lunch subsidies. This is the fifth year in a row the 136-student school has landed on the Post’s list, having finished 24th last year, 21st in 2012 and 2010 and 13th in 2011. This year’s index score of 9.952 is the highest the school has ever earned from the Post.

Check out the Washington Post’s full coverage here, and visit the Northcoast Preparatory and Performing Arts Academy’s website here.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

HSU Has a New President

Posted By on Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 11:57 AM

After a months-long search, Humboldt State University has a new president to replace outgoing Rollin Richmond, who is retiring.

Lisa A. Rossbacher, a geologist and geology professor who is currently president of Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Ga., will be HSU's first female president. Heck, it only took a hundred years!

Here's the news release from the university:

CSU Trustees Appoint Lisa A. Rossbacher as President of
Humboldt State University

** First Woman to Lead HSU **

(March 26, 2014) - The California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees has named Lisa A. Rossbacher as president of Humboldt State University (HSU). Rossbacher is currently serving as president at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Ga. and begins her new position in July.

“It is a wonderful and humbling honor to be chosen to serve the students, faculty and staff as well as the North Coast community as the next president of Humboldt State,” said Rossbacher. “The university’s unique programmatic offerings and beautiful setting draw a diverse group of students who are committed to improving themselves and the community through public service. HSU embraces sustainability and the environment like few other universities, and I look forward to engaging all groups to achieve the university mission.”

Rossbacher succeeds Rollin C. Richmond who is retiring at the end of the academic year after 12 years as president of HSU. Rossbacher will be the university’s seventh - and first woman – president in its 100-year history.

“Throughout her career, Dr. Rossbacher has demonstrated a focus on student success and she leads through consensus building and shared governance. She is a noted scholar and teacher, and as a current university president she brings a wealth of innovative administrative experience necessary to lead at the highest level," said CSU Trustee Larry Norton, chair of the presidential search committee. “Lisa’s broad experience as an educator, scholar and academic leader and her passion for education are qualities that will serve her and HSU well.”

HSU marks a return to the CSU for Rossbacher, who previously served as a professor of geological sciences (1984-1993), as well as the associate vice president of Academic Affairs, at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (1987-1993).

Prior to her service at Southern Polytechnic, Rossbacher served as dean of the college at Dickinson College (1995-98) and vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the faculty at Whittier College (1993-95).

Rossbacher earned a Ph.D. in geological sciences from Princeton University, master’s degrees in geological sciences from Princeton University and the State University of New York at Binghamton, and a bachelor’s in geology from Dickinson College.
Rossbacher’s husband, Dallas D. Rhodes, is also a geologist and has been a professor for more than three decades. Among other areas of interest, he conducts research on the San Andreas Fault. The two have a Doberman named Tango.

# # #

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Updated: Feds Investigate Loleta Elementary

Posted By on Thu, Jan 23, 2014 at 1:01 PM

The federal government is launching an investigation into allegations that the Loleta Elementary School District has discriminated against Native American students.

The Americans Civil Liberties Union of Northern California received a letter this week from the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights informing it that the office has officially launched an investigation in response to the ACLU’s complaint alleging systemic discrimination in the district, including the verbal and physical abuse of students by district staff.

“Please note that opening the allegations for investigation in no way implies that (the Office for Civil Rights) has made a determination with regard to their merits,” the letter states. “During the investigation, the OCR is a neutral fact-finder, collecting and analyzing relevant evidence from the complainant, the recipient and other sources, as appropriate.”

The ACLU filed the complaint last month alleging that the district has engaged in a pattern of discriminatory discipline against Native American students and put up barriers to disability and special needs assessments. Further, the complaint alleges that staff — and specifically Superintendent and Principal Sally Hadden — has been physically and verbally abusive of students, detailing instances when Hadden is alleged to have grabbed a Native American student by the ear and said, “See how red it’s getting?,” hit students with a clipboard and another in which she allegedly referred to a Native American student as a “saltine” because he “looked white.”

Hadden was not immediately available this morning, but the Journal will update this post if she returns a call seeking comment. A call seeking comment from the Office of Civil Rights was also not immediately returned this morning.

In the letter to the ACLU, the Office of Civil Rights indicates it intends to investigate each of the claims raised by the group and requests a meeting with ACLU attorneys to discuss the situation.

For more information about the complaint, as well as a lawsuit the ACLU filed against Eureka City Schools, see past Journal coverage here and here.

UPDATE: U.S. Department of Education spokesman Jim Bradshaw returned the Journal's call Friday morning and sent the following statement:

"OCR received a complaint against the Loleta Union Elementary School District alleging that: Native American students are subjected to harassment based on race and the district has failed to respond appropriately to notice of the harassment. Also, that Native American students are allegedly treated differently than non-Native American students with respect to discipline; that the district denies Native American students with disabilities a free appropriate public education (FAPE); and the district discriminates against Native American students with disabilities by refusing to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices or procedures when necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability.

The complaint is under investigation."

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

ACLU Suing Eureka City Schools for Racial and Sexual Discrimination

Posted By on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Native American and black students face racial and sexual discrimination from students and staff in Eureka and Loleta according to a federal civil rights lawsuit filed today by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the National Center for Youth Law.

The suit alleges that top officials in the Eureka City Schools District “subject Black and Native American children to a racially hostile educational environment by allowing pervasive racial harassment to persist unchallenged,” according to a press release. The two groups also joined with California Indian Legal Services to ask the Office for Civil Rights to investigate racial discrimination in the Loleta Union School District.

The groups allege that school officials in Eureka intentionally discriminate against black and Native American students, disciplining those students more harshly than white ones, subjecting them to a “racially hostile educational environment” and pushing them out of mainstream schools into alternative schools. They also say school officials tolerate weekly traditions such as “titty-twisting Tuesdays” and “slap-ass Fridays,” where, according to the press release, “students have their nipples, breasts and buttocks grabbed and hit in school hallways, locker rooms and other areas of district schools.”

Defendants named in the suit include members of the Eureka City Schools District Board of Education, District Superintendent Fred Van Vleck and other school officials.

The complaint against Loleta Union School District says the physical and verbal abuse levied at Native American students is perpetuating racist behavior in the region that dates back nearly 150 years.

You can read the complaint against the Eureka City Schools District  here . And  here   is the Loleta complaint. The full press release is below.

Addendum: The Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria passed a resolution supporting the Office of Civil Rights complaint. Read it  here .

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