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Year in Review, September: Locals heat up at town hall meeting

September sees students beat the state’s goals in standardized testing

Posted: December 27, 2009 10:16 p.m.
Updated: December 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 

The month of September brought a mix of controversy, successes and strange crimes.

Events of note included Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon's town hall meeting on health care, where discussions led to shouting and arguing. The meeting came at a time when many similar ones were taking place across the nation.

And though school districts have been suffering a slew of budget cuts, local students beat the state's goals in standardized testing.

Also in the month, the Santa Clarita Valley saw some strange crime-related news.

A burned body found earlier in the year in Castaic was identified as the witness to a murder in Los Angeles, and a William S. Hart Union High School District classroom assistant was arrested with her daughter for allegedly running a family prostitution business.

Districts exceed state's API goal
Sept. 16 - Despite budget woes, 2009 was banner year for the Santa Clarita Valley's school districts.

All five of the SCV school districts exceeded the state goal and posted a gain in Academic Performance Index (API) scores by at least 10 points, according to figures.

API scores measure students academic performance.

Some districts attributed the increase to improved academic intervention programs, but most acknowledged special-needs students and English-language learners need additional attention.

Murder witness's body found in Castaic
Sept. 18 - After months of forensic work, investigators identified the burned body found in May as that of a witness in a murder.

Adrian Alejandro Dimas-Maya's charred body was found in Castaic in May and by September, he was linked to the investigation of the Jasson Rafael Estrada murder in Ingelwood.

Estrada was gunned down on May 26 in a gang-related shooting. Dimas-Maya was a witness to the slaying and gave a sketchy description of the murderer. Four days later, Dimas-Maya was found dead.

Health care meeting boils over
Sept. 27 - The health care controversy came to the gymnasium at College of the Canyons as Congressman McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, held a town hall meeting on the contentious issue.

"Barack Obama is a liar like Congressman Wilson said," one man shouted from the audience during the meeting.

The obvious reference to Congressman Joe Wilson, R-South Carolina, turned the heat up during the meeting and drew a mix of boos and cheers.

Jo Godfrey, 58, of Stevenson Ranch, weighed in on the other side, charging that it's the existing health care system, not the proposed reform, that calls for death to the old or seriously ill.

"The death panels are in private health insurance," Godfrey said. "I am demanding the health care criminals go to jail."

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed health care bills in December 2009.

Hart District classroom aide busted
Sept. 28 - A Rio Norte Junior High School teaching assistant and her daughter were arrested on suspicion of soliciting prostitution through an Internet advertisement for a mother-daughter "special massage," authorities said.

Kern County sheriff's detectives arrested Rio Norte Junior High School aide Katherine Silvers, 56, of Frazier Park and her daughter Sarah Sunshine, 31, after they took off all of their clothes for an undercover deputy who responded to their ad, said Sgt. Mark Brown.

The ads on Craigslist.com and Backpage.com showed photos of two scantily clad women - one younger and one older - offering a one-hour massage for $250 and a $60 bonus option promising a "smile_massage_smile," according to a Kern County Sheriff's Office report.

Silvers pleaded guilty to performing a professional massage without a license and was sentenced to time she already served, which was two weeks in jail.

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