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September 17, 2019
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RCHS Mascot at Welcome Back Rally Police and housing topics discussed at Council Credo ladies in Trashion show Cotati Council makes it short Man takes own life PG&E Wildfire Assistance Program distributes first checks to victims  Home invasion robbery, suspects still at large SOMO Village overrun by CHP party Latino Alliance promotes first festival Special education funding complicated Keeping California history alive RP man sentenced to prison 23 years for robbery Promotions in the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety Homelessness spikes in RP Home delivery changes Former Rancho student convicted Fresh faces on the CRPUSD board 73rd Miss Sonoma County competition held at Spreckels Straus Family Creamery moving to RP TAG building grand opening RP Foundation to reinstate Small Grants Program Newsom’s vision “cradle to career” RP Downtown project underway Schools, facilities and bonds: Plans but no money DUI driver crashes into 7-1 Teen arrested for shooting at RP RP votes to restrict fireworks Three arrested; stolen items recovered Bad air quality cancels sports Official election winners as projected by the VOICE  RP swears in new council member 2018 local stories which made history ArtStart brings art to the RP Senior Center Holocaust piano now in Cotati CRPUSD seeking a new superintendent Superintendent search begins Cotati Council moves ahead Planning Commission approves hotel In memory of Greg Beedon Fun family Christmas events in Cotati Cougars’ season comes to a tearful sad conclusion CalFresh clients get Feb. benefits early Rohnert Park Station Ave. update Cuts suggested for school district The “Healing Wall” comes to Sonoma County Cotati memorializes victims Rohnert Park considers firework restrictions CHP to check motorcycle safety in local area Cotati honors and appreciates Winners of “Discovered: Emerging artists of Sonoma County” Dr. Dominguez and Hawkins named as director and co-director for Hanna Institute University Elementary School to host Maker World at SSU Animal Shelter League of RP receives grant Cotati Council reshuffles seats Help save lives by donating blood New laws on purchasing and concealing handguns Fencing in Sonoma County School district leaders tackle 1.9m deficit School district seeking new superintendent Cotati protests CASA compact School district balances budget More high density in Rohnert Park Put down your phone April is distracted driving awareness month SSU Police make arrest in sexual assault case CRPUSD district’s good news in May Cannabis cultivation and more projects The Community Voice endorses candidates DA’s office awarded DUI Prosecution Grant Rohnert Park kid joins TCU El Camino graduates Rohnert Park Council says we don’t need another agency Rancho students excel in Poetry Out Loud  SC public safety heroes of the year Don’t drive with an open container Traffic concerns top RP survey SSU Equestrian looks to go national Brace yourself for mosquitos Station Avenue project An offer has been made and accepted on Rohnert Park’s corporate yard SMART to offer free rides... Rep. Thompson speaks at SSU on climate change Frightful, fun, free Halloween activities Cougars crush Ukiah Election projected winners November 6, 2018  Sonoma Clean Power offers no-cost energy upgrades Rancho advances to semifinals RP’s n­ew Director of Public Safety A stand-off with barricaded, suicidal woman ends safely in RP RP has a new director of public safety Mackenzie leaves SMART RP officers spent Sat. car chasing A shimmer of hope against the angry heavy sky SSU to host North Bay Women of Color conference Rancho’s TAG building, now a reality Mayors of So Co write angry letter Dodd’s college student food bill passes Rohnert Park caregiver arrested Sheriff’s canine apprehends convicted felon Issues and recognition but no council meeting Public invited to give input on Downtown RP Site School board candidates voice opinions Woman stabbed on west side of RP LandPaths connects people to protected land Tech High Girl's Soccer Undefeated champions! AG Becerra issues consumer alert on price gouging in fire-affected communities Learn to docent at the SSU Fairfield Osborn Preserve New signs point in the right direction Where are the ski lifts? Is Cotati being targeted? New alcohol fees for Rohnert Park Sonoma State president testifies for tax relief for disaster victims Fixing Cotati’s roads RP driver identified Burglary suspect found with firearms Learn to become a naturalist State Farm property steams forward to Station Avenue Scrappers Steal Win RP Foundation issues grant Cotati allows second dispensary New residential building lands approved In Singapore Strait aboard a missile destroyer PG&E has a prediction model USCIS presents free training on how to apply for citizenship RP investigates new site for Corp. Yard Two arrested in RP motel for mail theft  Is Juuling the new norm? Cotati considers $15 min. wage No criminal charges filed against PG&E in northern Ca. wildfires  RP decides on west side Vintage race cars on Sonoma raceway track May CalFresh month celebration Sozo Student Center opens Rancho Cotate Band fundraiser BBQ Jessica Holman: Thirty-five years of Rancho Spirit Titans crush Mustangs Station Avenue gets final approval Cotati Council reviews trash plan Baseball League receives donation from local motorcycle club Cotati Police Chief Parish swears in new officer Garber A Sunday afternoon with retired football players Injury collision closes Golf Course Dr. Giving Kids Smiles in Rohnert Park Neighborhood watch meeting scheduled New Executive Director at SSU A satisfied smile New interim superintendent Krispy Kreme Doughnuts comes to Rohnert Park  Cougars blow past Gauchos  Rohnert Park honors its Veterans and Servicemen CHP reminds all of increased crimes Cougars beat Bulldogs More than 276,000 Dreamers have renewed DACA White receives Matt Walsh Memorial RP and Sunday festivities SSU fraternity banned for five years Name correction: Grand Jury report on SoCo jail system New leadership delivers new start at school board meeting Cotati Chamber of Commerce Oktoberfest Rancho crushes Analy CA Homemaker Association needs volunteers Active duty honorees at the RP Veterans Day program Santa now knows her secret CPI receives funding to offer counseling in schools Caltrans works toward decarbonizing California transportation The Rancho Cotati Rotary Club hosts Humanitarian Award dinner SSU and SCOE offer high school internship Illegal robocalls and spoofing Farmers’ Market party on the plaza RP’s new interim police chief Big changes to big project in Rohnert Park A possibility for Snyder Lane to have four lanes soon Rohnert Park road updates Sheriff’s Detectives arrest SR man after controlled delivery of ecstasy pills. Cotati comes out against CASA Llamadas ilegales y spoofing Music alive in Cotati Sept. is suicide prevention month Penngrove Community Church celebrates 120 years Cotati approves tree lighting City of Cotati has apartment housing parking problems Operators ordered to pay for false advertising violations Becerra urges Ca. businesses resources to help prevent human trafficking Possible change to parking rules Enroll in Transportation Security Administration Elder abuse rising in So Co U10 Cal Ripken champions say Aloha Students at University Elementary discussing the labyrinth Rohnert Park City Council Candidates NHTSA reminds motorists to drive sober this season Cotati’s code of conduct School board follows its policy Free school supplies RPDPS receives grant to fight alcohol-related crime R P Foundation gives grants to NOAH and Petaluma Bounty Summit State Bank annual report FEMA awards Sonoma Water grant RP moves to curb false alarms Doggone hot days are here! Warnings weren’t enough! ‘Stuff the van’ with school supplies Wake up to social crisis March for the blind highlights need for more accessible sidewalks Cougar to Bear — Simmons’ new pelt SRJC picks up local quarterback The Cougars defeat the Jaguars at homecoming New laws take effect Jan. 1 Boards approve plan to offset proposed groundwater fee Technology High School construction on schedule Groundwater sustainability fee adopted in Santa Rosa Plain Rohnert Park City Council all about safety Accordion Festival San Francisco Mime Troupe to perform in Cotati Kids and firefighters compete in RP RP local, Petri Alva, 14, a nationally recognized athlete SSU named one of the best universities Verity is hiring to work with survivors RP City Council, not business as usual A young child making a big difference Cotati’s first homicide in 24 years Veterans’ housing to open in 2020 RPPS encourages public to drive sober SweetPea celebrates 31 years Seawolves serve up a victory Students almost ready for kindergarten Would you make a great foster parent? Grand Jury recommends improvements for So. Co. Water City of Cotati switches to 100% renewable electricity I’m ready, bring ‘em on! Tech High School celebrates 20 years PG&E Wildfire Assistance Program accepting applications for aid Cardinals rout Cougars SSI and SSP recipients eligible for CalFresh benefits Five vehicle crash shuts down Golf Course Dr. Happenings at Cotati City Council Trades Intro Program (TIP) leads to career RP City Council: from safety to striping Girls explore STEM possibilities at Tinker Academy Spring Lake Water Bark kickoff How to help victims of wildfires Polynesia celebrated at annual Pacific Islander Festival Fire storm anniversary New fire station gets final direction Undercover operation identifies prostitution at local massage parlors Red flags fly at all fire stations during “Red Flag” warnings L J principal promises open door policy DUI driver arrested after collision on RP Exp Contact information needed from about 150,000 PG&E customers Plan approved for Station Ave. park Football in full swing, 3rd win Arrests and charges target Apple stores Cotati fills Planning Commission The long summer grinds Alert resident foiled attempted burglary of neighbor’s home All about the roads Third DUI driver arrested in RP in three days Santa Rosa doctor overprescribing Annie Rasmussen Celebration of Life School district set to begin new year Wrong way bicyclist rides into path of SMART train City, county reach agreement with Homeless Advocates Our words are not enough: Educators call for action First day of school and new friends Revisiting those who lost it all: October wildfire victims still on the road to recovery Rohnert Park residents awarded law degrees School Year 2019-2020 for free and reduced-price meals Cattle drive comes to SR Man dies in custody Home-based learning on the rise SMART celebrates a year of service RP Public Safety report card Joint Legislative Wine Committee to meet at SSU Ca. Dept. of Justice announces ammunition regulations Fatal bicycle vs. vehicle collision RPPS investigating sexual assault A slow and painful wait for a downtown Penngrove native set for amazing voyage Cotati votes opposition to oil leases DMV offices will close for half day Social Security – Care and Beware Urban growth boundary benefits RP Council looks at serious close-to-home issues SC neighborhood sues illegal pot grower Reckless vehicle ends in DUI arrest Do you know the relationship between low impact development and water quality? So. Co. Behavioral Health and Health Services in the county jail Cotati City Council of Aug. 13 Water Conservation Car washes and water waste Equifax provides $600 million in consumer restitution Cotati sees its first homicide in 24 years New Column Penngrove grassfire destroys buildings Cotati Accordion Festival still a hit after 28 years RP residents provide input in police chief search Forum hosted by WLV for RP City Council candidates Stray sways the crowd Showing off rope tricks Sonoma County Fair reviews safety protocols Gun violence in the U.S. and globally Supply giveaways lend a hand to families Police officers inspect inside of car Lowerys help with campaign Yes on Measure W will keep fire stations open Skating during Cotati Kids Day parade Watenpaugh returns to lead CRPUSD Join CASA of So. Co.’s commitment to helping victims of child abuse RP to host community forum for public safety director search Emergency Alert System Test Sept. 10 & 12 Spreckels and Alchemia connects community Vehicle crashes into house Call to action in Ca. Passenger killed fleeing crash It wasn’t an easy fight but Rancho wins again RP Safety Dept. climbs in remembrance of 9/11/18 Suicide leading cause of death in youths Impersonating pharmacists Pesticide residue consumed by infants and children Back to school for Rohnert Park and Cotati Another tough break for roller derby PG&E to conduct inspections by helicopter in Sonoma County Correction to the July 26 issue RP waits to make update to emergency alert system Cougars slay Dragons Deputy saves overdosing man using department-issued Narcan SR theft suspect caught after lengthy chase Third pedestrian struck by SMART train Enjoying ribs Rohnert Park’s Black Blear Diner gets sued Penngrove wastewater pipeline overflows Little ones with big Polynesian dancing spirit Sidewalk repair gets big break from City of RP RP Health Center celebrates anniversary Imitating major leaguers Rohnert Park waiting for approval for canine program

New start at school board meeting

  • Technology High's Juliet Kaufman and Rancho Cotate's Devin Deatherage were sworn in by School Board President Leffler Brown at the Board of Education meeting Tues. evening. Photo by Robert Grant

By: Lanny Lowery
August 23, 2019

A tall man with a familiar face sat alone centered in the first row of the school board meeting reviewing notes and waiting calmly as the nearly full gathering of district employees, administrators and principals and teachers, and concerned citizens chatted quietly.  Former Superintendent Michael Watenpaugh remained apart from everyone until a certain formality, designated on the Agenda as “4C:  Consideration of Approval of Employment Agreement for District Interim,” was discussed and approved by the School Board.

A night for new beginnings, a renewal, a fresh start, all of the things that the onset of a new school year promises, characterized this meeting.  Only youth truly mark innocent new ventures, so it was fitting that the student from Richard Crane led the adults in the flag salute.

Then the adults got down to the formality of Item 4C.  Defying the traditional mode of simply going to the vote, Trustee Jennifer Wiltermood availed herself of the right to discuss this action.  After hearing the details of the Interim’s contract, she explained why she initially voted against the hiring of Dr. Watenpaugh and why she planned to reverse her vote.  He would be taking a significant cut in pay from his previous job as Superintendent of San Rafael City Schools at close to $300k to earn $235k for a contract that spanned July 1, 2019 through November 30, 2020.

The Board then voted 5-0 to hire Watenpaugh.  The audience greeted this action with warm welcoming applause as the new leader moved to sit with the board and to thank everyone for bringing him back to the district.

Then the Board administered the Oath of Office to the incoming Student Board Members, Devin Deatherage and Juliet Kaufman.  Each student shared her pleasure at being seated.

Devin Deatherage, a senior from Rancho Cotate High School, stated, “I’m very excited and honored to be the School Board Representative.  I wish to represent my school the best I can and am thrilled to start the school year!”

No less enthusiastic, Juliet Kaufman, a sophomore from Technology High School, shared her feelings:  “This is an incredibly exciting moment for me.  I am still kind of in awe that I was selected to represent my school and am so honored.  I hope to make the best out of this opportunity.  I am so excited for what this year holds!”

And the tone was set for a quiet businesslike evening as the School Board President, Leff Brown, invited public comment.  Former elementary teacher Kathleen Eckert, retired the past nine years, made it a point to not only attend this meeting but also comment on the new direction taken by the school district.  Regarding Michael Watenpaugh, her superintendent from 2003 to 2007, Eckert offered much praise.

“I respect this gentleman to come and guide us, to move us from a most difficult time.  I am excited to see what’s going on.  We need to develop good rapport with the students.  Thanks to the Board and Administrators.  Aren’t we lucky that you have come back!”

Debbie LeBoy began her public comment by also acknowledging the new start led by the new superintendent.  She then praised the students at Rancho Cotate and Matt Transue for their use of the new theater to hold a year culminating representative activity, a state assembly.

Then the Student Representatives led the agenda back to business as each reported about the start of the school year.  Devin Deatherage and Juliet Kaufman described many summer activities, and then Juliet told about the new beginning as Technology High opened its year at the historic Waldo Rohnert site.  She said, “This marked the beginning of an era for Tech High.  The students are ever so grateful for the money spent and the work done to set up the school.”

Rohnert Park Educators Association President David Freebairn added to the new beginnings theme as he greeted the new superintendent and welcomed him to lead the new start.

The meeting moved smoothly through the consent agenda as all but two of the eleven items passed by a 5-0 vote.  The other two items received 4-1 votes.

Then District Administrators Matt Marshall and Rocky Schumann delivered a presentation centered on a proclamation “Declaring September as School Attendance Awareness Month.”  They shared many significant facts regarding the importance of attending school.  CBO Robert Marical underscored the discussion talking about the impact of truancy on the funding of the district.

Trustee Tim Nonn expressed concern about the measurement for the loss of attendance and wanted some qualitative and quantitative data regarding those losses.  He asserted, “We need to evaluate these programs to determine if we should retain certain companies.  We must have more than anecdotes to keep such programs as restorative justice.  We want to make informed decisions.”

Robert Marical added a facilities update to his enrollment report.  The roofing was completed at Monte Vista, the Theater Art building expansion at Lawrence Jones was finished, and much work went into the renovation of Waldo Rohnert to receive Technology High students and staff.

Thomas Page Teacher Amy Miller commented extensively on the possibility of extending the legal services of Dannis, Wolliver, and Kelley (DWK).  Her concerns were that this firm would not be moving with the district toward collaboration.  DWK may have been part of the problem connected with the past seven years and the unusual legal expenses that the district incurred.  She said, “I want us to remain in a positive situation.  I don’t think that firm (DWK) is the way to go.  I encourage the Board to hire a firm that will move us in a positive direction.”

Trustee Nonn commented, “The problem with DWK, I have spoken with members of the different unions who have cited many troubles.  I have a stack of articles about DWK litigation and its negligent behavior.  The main thing:  we have had a long history of unnecessary litigation.  The District lost and paid out a lot of money.  Since we have made a decision to work collaboratively, we need to send a strong signal to all three unions.  Returning DWK will send the wrong message.”

No vote was taken.  The issue will be brought back in September.

The evening concluded with a statement from Dr. Watenpaugh.  “I am extremely happy to be here.  Thank you for the warm welcome.  I plan to visit every campus immediately and will be in every classroom and meet with all of the staff and then present my findings to the Board.”

The superintendent then addressed his particular job.  “My role is to set up for the new superintendent.  I want to talk with everyone about how to make his or her job better.  I thank you for the honor, and I’m excited to be back in this community!”

One spectator, Cassandra Albaugh, followed up the meeting with insightful commentary:  “There was more open discussion of issues, and trustees aired their concerns and differences with mutual respect.  Staff was receptive and forthcoming in meeting the needs of all Trustees.  Hopefully, an era of more transparency is upon us.”

And thus begins a new school year.