Letter to the Editor

Title IX under attack

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recently announced that her department will be revisiting the Title IX guidelines on campus sexual assault. The effect of any changes will tilt the balance of federal guidance to make it harder to discipline the thousands of students, almost all of them men, who are accused of sexual violence against women each year and return us to the era during which young women were stigmatized for speaking up

According to Brett Sokolow, Executive Director of the Association of Title IX Administrators, 10,000 to 12,000 cases of campus rape reach the disciplinary phase every year.  Add to that the many cases of reported and unreported sexual harassment, stalking and relationship violence and it becomes clear that on-campus violence is a critical problem deserving weighty consequences.

But how these cases should be handled is a challenge for any administration.  How do schools show support for the survivors while insuring fairness to both parties? 

In 1972, the first comprehensive federal law to prohibit discrimination in education was passed.  Title IX covers women and men, girls and boys, and staff and students in any educational institution or program that receives federal funds. In regard to complaints of sexual misconduct, it requires that school policies must provide for prompt and equitable investigation and resolution. It prohibits retaliation against those who file complaints.  School policies must specifically indicate that sexual assault, even a single incident, is covered under Title IX.  Students have the right to file a complaint with the school if their rights under Title IX are violated, and victims may also file a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights if a school’s policies or handling of complaints are not compliant with Title IX.  In addition, each federally funded institution (school district) must designate a Title IX Coordinator to oversee compliance and grievance procedures.  

The most controversial part of implementation of this law mandates that, in determining a verdict, officials must use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, which makes it easier to find offenders responsible than a “clear and convincing” evidence standard that some schools had been using.  Accusers are able to appeal a not guilty verdict, and efforts must be made to spare the accuser from direct cross examination by the accused. 

Colleges and universities are in a delicate position, reluctant to dismantle the current system for addressing sexual assault, while anticipating the possible loss of federal funds for not conceding to new guidelines. 

Make no mistake; Title IX remains the law of the land and this announcement does not alter in any way schools’ responsibilities. DeVos’ speech noted many situations in which schools have failed to adhere to the law. The response to this challenge is to enforce Title IX more vigorously, not to undermine it. 

Now is the time for our local colleges and universities to step up and demonstrate that they will do the right thing for their students even in the midst of potential rollbacks from the Department of Education.  

The American Association of University Women stands with survivors of campus sexual assault and remains committed to protecting and defending Title IX.  We must ensure our nation’s dedication to full and equal proper responses to sexual harassment and violence.  After all, students’ access to an education in a safe and secure environment free from the threat of assault is on the line.  Schools, and the Department of Education, owe it to all students to uphold their civil rights, a promise Mrs. DeVos’ announcement would most certainly deny. 

Lee Winocur Field, Ph.D

Lee Winocur Field is a 32 year resident of Laguna Beach, retired public school teacher, Administrator and Professor of Education. She is a former President of the Laguna Beach Branch of the American Association of University Women, and currently co-President of the San Clemente-Capistrano Bay Branch.

Yoga at Bluebird Canyon Farms: A bucolic setting for a bender of the healthy kind

Bluebird Canyon Farms is offering a fitness-focused, fun-filled morning of Power Vinyasa Yoga, hosted by instructor Beth McCall on Sat Dec 9 at 9 a.m.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Instructor Beth McCall

This workshop will include a full 60-minutes of yoga, a brief tour of the farm and a healthy juice or tea made from organic produce grown on the farm for just $25.

Parking is limited, so attendees should either use public transportation or park on Rancho Laguna Rd. 

Bluebird Canyon Farms is located at 1085 Bluebird Canyon Rd. Call 949 715 0325 or visit www.bluebirdcanyonfarms.com for more information.

The Huddle will be huddling at NCC tonight at 6:30 p.m. to listen to guest speakers on current issues

The Laguna Beach Women’s March Huddle will meet on Dec 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Neighborhood Congregational Church to discuss coordination on a regional level with other local groups and develop its own “mini-huddles.”

The plan is to rally together and prepare for the anniversary of the Women’s March, meet with and hear from other progressive organizations in the area, and get an update from the Criminal Justice mini-huddle regarding the Inmate Firefighter Appreciation Project and other initiatives.

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Submitted photo

The Huddle expects a large crowd as seen here from a previous meeting

The meeting will also feature presenters including Don Han, Senior Human Relations Specialist, of the OC Human Relations. Han has been with OCHRC since 2001. He is the manager of the Police Community Reconciliation Program. This program works in collaboration with the OC Sheriff’s Department to address low-level complaints against OC Sheriff’s personnel. Don also responds to reported hate crimes and hate incidents in the county and coordinates the release of the annual hate crime report. He earned a Sociology Degree from Cal State Fullerton and is a former Human Relations Commissioner for the City of Santa Ana. 

#HateFreeOC is OC Human Relations’ public education and awareness campaign designed to cultivate a hate-free environment in Orange County, bring diverse communities together, and promote a safe, peaceful, respectful, and inclusive community for all to live, work, go to school and do business.

Additional speakers include Joanne Joyce Weiss of WAVE (Women for American Values and Ethics), a diverse group of non-partisan women which exists to empower the advancement of American Ethics and Values; Faye Hezar of Imagine Action OC, 

a diverse and inclusive group “caring deeply about our nation and our plan through solidarity and grass-roots action”; Cottie Petrie-Norris of the Laguna Beach Democratic Club; and Mary Carter - State Delegate,responsible for representing our Assembly District to the California Democratic Party and what that means to our community.

The Neighborhood Congregational Church is located at 340 St. Ann’s Drive. The event starts with a social gathering at 6:30 followed by the meeting from 7 – 8:30 p.m.

NCL Laguna hosts annual Spirit of Giving: 125 moms & daughters support nine local philanthropies

NCL Laguna hosted their annual Spirit of Giving event on Sat, Dec 2, at the Boys & Girls Club of Capistrano Valley. More than 125 mothers and daughter attended the annual event to support the nine local philanthropies benefitting from the day, as well as the 12 local families adopted by the Chapter. 

The event was the culmination of the Chapter’s month-long holiday effort, which also included holiday shopping, crafting boutiques held by the Chapter’s Handmade Brigade and window decorating. 

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Submitted photo

Laguna Beach members celebrate the Spirit of Giving

Chapter President and Laguna Beach resident Susan Giusto commented, “Spirit of Giving Day is one of our favorite Chapter-wide events of the year. Coming together to make the holidays a little brighter for many in our community is the best way to begin the holiday season! It’s worthwhile, it’s a great time and our Members love it!”

During the day, presents were lovingly wrapped for the twelve local families adopted through the Boys & Girls Club of Capistrano Valley and Family Assistance Ministries (FAM) - a total of 52 family members will receive wrapped gifts hand-picked by our members this Christmas. Two hundred and fifty  handmade holiday stockings were assembled for the boys and girls of the Orangewood Foundation, Laguna Beach-based CSP Youth Shelter (now Wayfarers) and the Boys & Girls Club of Capistrano Valley.

Also, 150 handmade, equestrian-themed holiday bags were stuffed for the children supported by the San Juan Capistrano-based J.F. Shea Therapeutic Center, while 250 holiday placements were crafted for seniors participating at the Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel and San Juan Capistrano Senior Centers. And, Discovery Arts will receive 25 beautifully handcrafted art boxes. 

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L- R: Valerie Jones, Laura Ballantyne, Laura Krzywicki, Mary Althof, and 

NCL Laguna Chapter President, Susan Giusto

Additionally, members collected more than 500 pounds of food ($1,000 value) for the Second Harvest Food Bank throughout the event.

Laura Ballantyne, NCL Laguna Co-VP of Philanthropy, who led the day’s festivities, said, “Through the collective efforts of this day, we show that it is better to give than to receive. This is an event filled with warmth, laughter and is one of our most popular philanthropic events.”

Multiple finalists for LBHS surf team at Individual League Finals

Written by coaches Alisa Cairns and Scott Finn

The Individual High School League Surfing Finals were held at Upper Trestles last Wednesday and Thursday. The Laguna Beach High School Surf Team did very well and were represented in every Division Final. The event saw the top kids from Laguna up against San Clemente, Dana Hills and Newport Harbor going for individual honors.

Both days of competition were quite chilly, but had fun two – three ft rights and lefts that provided some outstanding memorable performances throughout the competition.

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Photo by Alisa Cairns

Jameson Roller, Kayla Coscino, Travis Booth, Tess Booth and Claire Kelly

The Laguna girls shined as they have all year with Kayla Coscino looking really solid in both Girls Shortboard and Longboard and scoring rides in the excellent range. She finished runner-up in both the Divisions. 

Meanwhile Claire Kelly in Longboard and Tess Booth in Shortboard surfed very well to take third overall. Jameson Roller did well with some nice nose rides in Longboard to finish in fifth and Travis Booth was the Iron Man, competing in all three divisions over the two days. Travis took a fourth in Bodyboard and just was edged out in the Longboard, missing the final by less than a point. He came back super strong in the Boys Shortboard with standout performances, going all the way to the final to finish sixthoverall.

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Photo by Ellen Nelsen

Kiko Nelsen

Along with Travis, the rest of our Boys Shortboard was very strong throughout the day with most of the boys advancing through several rounds. We had eight boys go into the quarters, four boys making it to the Semi-Finals and two to the Finals. 

Kiko Nelsen was a standout and had a number of strong rides all day to cap off he great season. He pulled off a very nice air reverse and was looking like he could take the win. In the end he finished a very impressive second overall, which is the highest finish in this event ever for the Laguna boys.

Meanwhile Jeremy Shutts and Jake Levin surfed well, just missing the Final. We also saw some good performances put in by Trey and Tyson Lockhart, Jett North and Liam McCue. Andrew Shutts also did well making the Bodyboard Final, but opted out as he was not feeling too well.

Local hooping whiz Haley performs for the widow of Spud Melin, who invented the hula hoop 60 years ago


Photos by Jeff Rovner

Sixty years ago, Arthur “Spud” Melin -- creator of the Wham-O toy company -- invented the hula hoop and gave it its name. Last Saturday night, local hooping whiz Haley Rovner, (16) gave a command performance for Spud’s widow, Suzy, and their five daughters. 

The occasion was a gala fundraising dinner for Alzheimer’s research sponsored by UCI Mind at the Balboa Resort in Newport Beach. Suzy and Maria Shriver were the guests of honor. 

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Haley is happy to meet Suzy Melin in person

At the conclusion of the evening’s program, the sponsors distributed 200 hoops to the guests on the dance floor. “Never has there been a more fun or formal hoop jam,” says Haley’s father, Jeff Rovner.

Haley’s hooping career began when, at a birthday party at the age of eight, she found that she was the only one who couldn’t keep a hoop steady around her hips for more than a few moments.

“It was so humiliating!” she told Stu News in an article published last year (to read the article, search our archives for Haley Rovner).

So Haley went home and practiced. And practiced.

And practiced.

A few months later, the organizer of a hooping endurance contest at the Discovery Science Center found himself begging the eight-year-old to stop after two hours and 45 minutes. Most of the contestants had grown bored and several had gone home. No one, he guessed (correctly) would beat her time.

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Haley teaches Spud Melin’s five daughters some hooping tricks

“Haley has devoted more than half her life to the mastery of the hula hoop. It was thrilling to see her commune with the family that made it possible,” said her understandably very proud father, Jeff Rovner. 

The high school junior now performs for Le PeTIT CiRqUe troupe, an all-kid Humanitarian Cirque company featuring some of the top aerial and circus artists in the country, modeled after the Cirque de Soleil but unique in featuring young athletes ages 6 - 16. They perform internationally – and locally – the troupe put on a magnificent show at the Festival of Arts last year.

Excitingly, the troupe is also scheduled to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert honoring the Peace Prize Laureate in Oslo on Dec 11 in front of an audience of 10,000, and the show will be televised for international viewing.

Haley’s pal Staci Ensminger, also a Laguna resident, will also be performing in the concert. Watch this space to learn more about these two talented girls and their time in Oslo when they return!

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

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Alexis Amaradio, Cameron Gillepsie, Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

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