By The Bakersfield Californian
The state Assembly has approved Seth's Law, a bill named in memory of a 13-year-old Tehachapi boy who committed suicide reportedly after being bullied in school for being gay.
The bill, named after Seth Walsh, passed 44-17 and now heads to the Senate, San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Seth's Law would create an anti-bullying system at all California schools by creating anti-harassment policies and programs in schools that don't have them already. Specifically, the law would make schools provide bullying complaint forms on their websites, give schools a timeline to investigate and resolve complaints and have them post policies throughout campuses. It would go into law in July 2012.
Seth Walsh hanged himself in his backyard in September, and partly blamed his school. Mother Wendy Walsh claims Tehachapi Unified School District officials ignored complaints of bullying against Seth, while Tehachapi Unified officials say they followed protocols.
Meanwhile, a U.S. Department of Education investigation into the handling of bullying by Tehachapi Unified, as well as a wrongful death lawsuit brought by Wendy Walsh against the district, are ongoing.
The Greenfield Union School District board on Wednesday will begin looking into changing how their school board elections are held, joining two of the largest school districts in Bakersfield.
Greenfield is looking at moving from an "at-large" election system to a "by-trustee area" system. In the at-large system, all voters living in the district choose among all the candidates. In the by-trustee system, the district is divvied up into pieces and voters choose among candidates living in their area.
Districts are changing systems to avoid lawsuits, give minorities better representation and to cut election costs. Changes would take effect in 2012.
Greenfield is joining Kern High and Bakersfield City school districts, which started the process a month ago.
At Wednesday's 6:30 p.m. meeting, trustees will review 2010 Census data, a timeline for changes and hear presentations. A public hearing will be held on the matter.
The meeting is at 1624 Fairview Road. Retirees will also be recognized.
The Parent Institute for Quality Education, which aims for more parent involvement in schools, will hold an open house Friday morning for those interested in visiting its new headquarters and learning more about services.
Parents, school leaders, educators and community members are invited to learn more about PIQE, which has served Kern County for eight years. Staff members will be on hand to answer questions and provide information.
Since PIQE's office opened in 2004, more than 9,000 parents from 89 schools in 28 districts have graduated. PIQE is a state and national nonprofit aiming for educational reform by informing and motivating low-income and immigrant parents to become knowledgeable on how to navigate the school system and seek the educational opportunities available for their children.
The open house is at 11 a.m. at 4300 Stine Road, Suite 300.
The Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation on Thursday will give about 120 local students nearly $240,000 in scholarships at the Future Leaders and Cash for College Scholarship awards banquet 6 p.m. at Hodel's Liberty Hall.
"This scholarship gives hope to all students who want to fund their future, particularly to those who are not eligible to receive financial aid," said Betty Duotwal, migrant program coordinator at Ridgeview High School, in a statement.
Students earned up to $3,000 in scholarships. The foundation in February received a $200,000 College Access Foundation grant for Kern County high school seniors who demonstrated financial need and planned to attend a community college or university.
To date, the foundation has awarded more than $600,000 in scholarships to Kern County students. More information: www.kchccfoundation.org.
Eight local students will be competing at National History Day starting Sunday at the University of Maryland.
The eight were winners at county and state competitions, where fourth- through 12th-graders conduct extensive research on history topics they choose and make research papers, websites, exhibits, performances or documentaries.
Fruitvale Junior High will be sending the junior group performance team of Julia Castro, Morgan Kaess, Makay Moss, Grace Park and Brooke Richter. Joining his Fruitvale classmates will be Christopher Trickey in the junior individual documentary category. Warren Junior High's team of Shreya Banerjee and Po Tsui are competing in the junior group documentary category.
The competition is from Sunday to June 16.
-- Jorge Barrientos, staff writer