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California school mask mandate in court

 October 1, 2021 at 8:08 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Friday, October 1st>>>>

California’s school mask mandate is in court

More on that next, but first... let’s do the headlines….


Sharp healthcare is breaking ground on a new Prebys Innovation and Education Center in Kearny Mesa that officials say will benefit the entire region. The facility is expected to be done in about a year and a half. It’ll serve as a hub for future projects at Sharp healthcare.

Physicians will be able to use the facilities and will welcome experts from across the country to collaborate.. chief operating officer Brett McClain says the site will raise the bar for health care in San Diego.

The facility will have a simulation center and a technology lab for research and demonstrations.


The city of Encinitas and the San Dieguito water district are offering their employees a big incentive to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

It’s 25-hundred dollars for front line workers, and two-thousand dollars for other employees.

Encinitas mayor, Catherine Blakespear, says this incentive is also to recognize the staff's hard work over the pandemic.

“We had to keep our essential workers working in order to have our work force function as a city. We recognize the value of that work. We also want our public employees to be protecting the public's health so we want our employees to be vaccinated.”

Employees must submit proof of vaccination by October 7th to be eligible for the wellness incentive… which will be paid as lump sum direct deposits.


San Diego weather watchers are expecting fall to end up much like summer, hotter than normal. San Diego now has about 12 and half more days of above normal temperatures per year since the 1970’s. National Weather Service meteorologist Alex Tardy says hotter years usually mean drought, but not always.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

The fight over California’s school mask mandate went to court in Vista on thursday. KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne was also in the courtroom.

The mask mandate in schools remains in place.

Judge Cynthia Freeland denied the request for a restraining order on student mask mandates.

“Here we are 9/30, school has started, kids have been in school with masks and the protocols have been in place so I'm not seeing an emergency today that would warrant issuing an emergency restraining order.”

The lawsuit was filed against the state and Governor Gavin Newsom by Let Them Breathe and Reopen California Schools. The groups claim masking, testing, and quarantine protocols in schools are not supported by science and are doing more harm than good.

Sharon McKeeman is the founder of Let Them Breathe.

‘We knew that it might be difficult to get that emergency restarting order but obviously our kids are suffering behind these masks. We want this to happen as quickly as possible but I am thankful that we are going to be having that full hearing at the start of November.”

A full hearing is scheduled for November 8th.

Judge Freeland says this extension will allow both parties to review and submit their supporting arguments.

Arguments that she noted have been extensive in length- the state submitting a 1600 page report and Let them breathe using various links and articles.

“This is not something that anyone should approach lightly and I want everyone to have sufficient time to be able to provide all the necessary information because this is a significant issue.

The governor's office says it's pleased with the ruling. In a written statement. it said its guidance is firmly grounded in science, and noted: "Recent studies confirm that schools with universal masking requirements are much less likely to experience outbreaks, confirming that masking is a critical strategy to keep students safe and schools open."



The investigation is now complete into a disturbing video captured at Valhalla High School last month. The video went viral on social media and appeared to show a white campus supervisor putting his knee to the neck of a Black student he was trying to restrain. KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez tells us the final report makes clear what happened on campus and who is responsible.

“As a district, we own what’s in this report..”

Theresa Kemper is the Grossmont Union High School District Superintendent, taking responsibility for what happened here on the campus of Valhalla High school just a month ago. August 31st students with cell phones caught a fight that started in the outdoor lunch area between two Black female students. The video went viral on social media and appears to show a white campus supervisor trying to break up the fight that eventually led him to throw one of the girls to the ground and put his knee to her neck to restrain her.

CG: Theresa Kemper/GUHSD Superintendent

“My message to the student is I’m sorry this should not have happened.”

The superintendent’s video comments are in response to the release of an independent investigation conducted by a Los Angeles law firm with no affiliation to the district. In the final report, investigators do not list names of those involved, instead saying both student b and student a are 14 year old 9th grade female students, while Employee A is 51 years of age, at least 208-pounds and 5’11.

“the employee who initially broke up the fight did violate our district’s existing restraint policy, the violation was, in part, due to a deficiency in our otherwise robust campus supervisor training.”

The report states.

“At 10s, Employee A can then be seen placing his left knee on the right side of Student B’s neck, pushing the left side of her face into the ground. His left hand appears to also push down on the right side of Student B’s face. For the next 2-4 seconds, Employee A’s left knee remains on Student B’s neck – however, he quickly lifted his left hand from her face.

That aligns with what many students reported witnessing that day.

The report recommends more staff training and that Employee A be removed from the school. He has been. The lead investigator goes on to say…

“There is no evidence to suggest that Employee A’s actions were based on race. However, it is my opinion, based upon the number of incidents involving race between 2019-present, that Valhalla High School students need to receive some form of cultural sensitivity training.”

Superintendent Kemper says that cultural sensitivity training has already begun on campus. The district will not say where Employee A has been transferred or comment any more on the status of the female student. MGP KPBS News


It was two-and-a-half years ago when John Earnest burst into a Poway synagogue and opened fire. Minutes later, a woman was dead and three others injured. On Thursday he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. KPBS reporter John Carroll was in court as victims told Earnest how his actions that day changed their lives forever.

Two-and-a-half years later… and Hannah Kaye… whose mother Lori Gilbert-Kaye was murdered by John Earnest… struggled to even begin her statement.

But once Kaye regained her composure - her message to the man who killed her mother was painful, eloquent, gut-wrenching.

CG: Hannah Kaye/Lori Gilbert-Kaye’s daughter

“My mother’s voice is loud, steady and clear in my heart and because she cannot tell the world what she experienced the day she was murdered for being a Jew, I will do so for her. The voice of my mother is reclaimed within my own. John Earnest, your bullets will not wreck through my body today as they did my mother’s. She is here, she is alive within my words.”

It was April 27, 2019. 54 people were inside the Chabad of Poway for a sabbath service when Earnest drove up, armed with an assault rifle. Once he was inside, he opened fire. Lori Gilbert-Kaye died where she fell, in the entrance hall. The synagogue’s founding rabbi, along with an 8-year old girl and her uncle were all injured. One of the worshippers was an off-duty border patrol agent who fired back at Earnest. He and another man rushed to stop him, but by that time his gun had jammed. They chased him out of the synagogue. Earnest sped off, but minutes later, he called police, told them what he’d just done and waited for them to arrest him.

“In our 32-years of marriage, she never gave me a bad word.”

Dr. Howard Kaye spoke of what a wonderful person his wife was. How she focused tirelessly on helping others.

CG: Dr. Howard Kaye/Lori Gilbert-Kaye’s husband

“Even after her death, we would get thanking notes, kept coming in because what Lori used to do is she used to give checks to people to give to charities when she traveled.”

Lori Gilbert-Kaye’s sister Randi Grossman noted the presence of good next to evil in the courtroom, as she described in her way what happened that April day of 2019.

CG: Randi Grossman/Lori Gilbert-Kaye’s sister

“This monster hunted down and murdered my sister Lori, wounding three others including a little girl, a little girl and why? Why? What did they ever do to him? He hated Jews, so he decided to kill Jews.”


Governor Gavin Newsom signed a handful of new police reforms into law on THURSDAY. CapRadio’s Nicole Nixon reports.

The eight bills were spurred by George Floyd’s murder last year by Minneapolis police… and the subsequent protests.

One of them is Senate Bill 2, which allows the state to decertify cops found guilty of certain crimes or misconduct. It’s meant to stop them from bouncing between departments. It was authored by Democratic Senator Steven Bradford.

BRADFORD: This bill is not just about holding bad officers accountable for their misconduct, it’s also about rebuilding trust between our communities and law enforcement, and that’s critical right now.

California is one of just four states that, until now, didn’t have a decertification process. It’s something Newsom acknowledged before he signed the legislation.

NEWSOM: I mean, we have a lot to be proud of, but there’s areas where we have nothing to brag about.

The governor also signed laws to ban certain chokeholds, and raise the minimum age to be a police officer.

The ceremony took place at a park in Gardena where a 25-year-old named Kenneth Ross Jr. was shot and killed by police in 2018.

His mother, Fouzia Almarou was at the bill signing.

ALMAROU: No family deserves this. This bill is going to protect other families. <:05>>

A family member of Angelo Quinto, another man killed by police in 2020, said the bills will bring accountability and hope for families that change is possible.


Coming up.... the military often falls short recognizing how the wounds of war lead to misconduct.

“Because it's a symptom of their mental health condition they're likely to hurt themselves, they're likely to have other adverse effects, with your two years just waiting to find out what's going to happen to you."

More on that next, just after the break.

The wars are over, but the battle has just started for many troops dealing with injuries. KPBS Military Reporter Steve Walsh says one Marine scored a rare win in a system that advocates claim invites troops with PTSD to commit more misconduct, while the military decides their fate.

“I started working out again. I've gotten healthy. I don’t have that dark cloud over me that I used to have.”

I met Cooper Williams just as the sun was coming up - outside a coffee house an hour north of San Diego. He sounded upbeat. Last December he’d been worried about being kicked out of the Marines after 17 years.

“Am I going to lose everything my family? Are we going to be put out after 18 years without any, any insurance, any assistance based off of everything that I went through….yeah, that was taxing on myself and my family.”

He’d been spiraling. After multiple deployments, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, he was self medicating. A horrific family tragedy made things worse when his parents were involved in a murder suicide. Williams asked for help. He entered a Wounded Warrior Battalion at Camp Pendleton - where Marines are treated for mental and physical injuries.But in the space of one month, he racked up two DUIs. He faced dismissal from the Corps.

“From the time of the incident till now, it's been about a year and eight months. There's a lot of things I've gone through.”

His attorney sent letters to his command, showing Williams wasn’t receiving the proper medication - but he still faced being discharged. Then, earlier this year, Williams was told one of the generals in charge of his case changed his mind. Lt. General Ed Banta now thought Williams should be allowed to retire.

“It's not as simple as it looks...there's a lot that was going on at that time. Both medication wise, personal wise dealing with the death and my parents”

But it wasn’t over. Williams was still required to face a board of inquiry. The process hung over him for 20 months, until a panel of three officers recently ruled in his favor.

“So it feels very good to have the weight lifted off of your shoulder and the cloud of the unknown and the fear of the unknown because that weighing over you, within itself is a very emotionally taxing being, I guess, for you and your family, very glad.”

“If you have someone who's suffering from mental health or tbi issues they're likely to commit more misconduct.”

Esther Leibfarth is with the National Veterans Legal Services Program.

She says the military typically doesn’t reverse itself - even in cases where service related medical conditions play a role in the misconduct. Leibfarth says the Marines and the other services need a single set of troops with TBI, or Traumatic Brain injuries, or PTSD don’t go through a long process ,,,,,,,,where they risk losing everything.

“Because it's a symptom of their mental health condition they're likely to hurt themselves, they're likely to have other adverse effects, with your two years just waiting to find out what's going to happen to you, without proper treatment without being able to move on to your life.”

In a letter obtained by KPBS, the new commander of the Wounded Warrior Battalion West, Lieutenant Colonel Rebecca Harvey says Williams did not receive proper treatment, initially. She revealed that mental health resources have gone down more than 50%, at a time when the Marines are seeing more cases like Williams. She adds: “Marines like Chief Warrant Officer Williams have served for many years, often ignoring their injuries to ensure they can deploy when asked. We owe them more.” Between his treatment and the separation process, she says the Marine Corps failed Williams.

For his part, Williams is ready to move on with his life.

“Made me dig deep and to find out who I am inside and also learn more about myself and who I am...You can either go darker or you can come into the light.”

Steve Walsh KPBS News

that was KPBS Military reporter. This story was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. Funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a wonderful weekend.

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The fight over California’s school mask mandate moved to the courts on Thursday. Meanwhile, the details have been released about what happened at Valhalla High School when a campus supervisor was alleged to have used a “knee on neck” restraint against a black student. Plus, the military often falls short recognizing how the wounds of war lead to misconduct.