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POSTED December 19, 2013 9:23 p.m.

$8M SETTLEMENT IN ALLEGED CALIFORNIA TEACHER ABUSE: ANTIOCH   (AP) — A San Francisco Bay Area school district has agreed to an $8 million settlement with the families of eight special education students in an alleged teacher abuse case.

Prosecutors say school workers saw former Antioch school district elementary school special education teacher Theresa Allen-Caulboy knee a child in the chest, pinch a child's nipples, pin a child to the ground and force students to "eat boogers." Allen-Caulboy has pleaded not guilty to charges she abused six young boys and girls, some of whom were nonverbal autistic students.

The Antioch school board announced the settlement on Wednesday night. The money will come from the district's insurance.

Parents alleged in a lawsuit that the district failed to report earlier allegations of abuse against Allen-Caulboy.

PERMANENT FIX FOR BROKEN BAY BRIDGE RODS COMPLETE: OAKLAND (AP) — A permanent fix is now in place for the giant steel bolts that snapped on the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

Contractors completed the $25 million repair work on Wednesday. The snapped bolts were discovered in March and threatened to delay the $6.4 billion span's opening.

Officials eventually found a temporary solution that allowed the new span to open on time while the permanent fix moved forward.

The permanent fix involved installing a steel saddle to replace the clinching function of the failed bolts. Those bolts secured earthquake shock absorbers to the deck of the bridge.

State transportation department field engineer Pamela Gagnier said the new span's structural protections against collapse or major damage during the next big earthquake are now fully operational.

BIG SUR WILDFIRE NOW 79 PERCENT CONTAINED: BIG SUR (AP) — Rain and higher humidity on Thursday helped firefighters battling a wildfire in California's Big Sur region that has destroyed an estimated 22 homes.

The fire in the Los Padres National Forest was 79 percent contained, up 5 percent from the previous day, after having burned about 1.4 square miles, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Kathleen Phelps said. Full containment was expected by Thursday night.

"We've gotten a little bit of moisture and a whole lot more humidity. That's really helped the firefighters be able to complete almost all of the lines so far," Phelps said.

The hundred or so people who were evacuated should be allowed back in their homes on Friday, she said.

Officials estimated that 22 homes were destroyed, but said crews were planning to head into the fire zone on Thursday to get an exact count. Flames were no longer visible from Highway 1 in the morning, as it continued to drizzle in the area.

OC STUDENTS ALLEGEDLY HACK INTO SCHOOL COMPUTERS:

NEWPORT BEACH  (AP) — Several Orange County high school students are accused of hacking into computers to change grades and access tests.

School administrators said they are aware of about a dozen students at Corona del Mar High School allegedly involved in the hacking scandal, but more may be implicated.

Officials say they learned about the alleged cheating via a tip from someone on the Newport Beach campus.

Newport-Mesa Unified School District spokeswoman Laura Boss says the district is cooperating with police.

KABC says investigators are looking into allegations that the students may have gotten help from a private tutor.

EX-OFFICER SUES DEPARTMENT FOR SEX DISCRIMINATION: ROSEVILLE  (AP) — A former Northern California police officer has filed a federal sex-discrimination lawsuit, claiming she was fired as a result of a relationship with a fellow officer while her male counterpart was not.

The lawsuit by Janelle Perez alleges wrongful termination and violations of her civil rights.

Perez was terminated from the Roseville Police Department in September.

In the lawsuit, Perez says allegations that she and another officer had engaged in inappropriate conduct while on duty were never substantiated.

The suit says Perez and the male officer were reprimanded. But while the male officer continues to be employed by the department, Perez was told she did not successfully complete her probationary period.

Perez seeks back pay, reinstatement and punitive damages.

REPORT: POLICY ALLOWS GOVERNOR TO VETO BIAS CASES: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — A long-secret policy allows California's governor to veto employment discrimination cases against public agencies without explanation or disclosure, a state legislative report has revealed.

The policy was adopted during the administration of Arnold Schwarzenegger and continues under Gov. Jerry Brown, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

The report by the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes said the policy "constitutes unequal treatment for public employees, creates a potential for abuse" and compromises the independence of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

"Taken to its extreme, it allows a California governor, in effect, to exempt public agencies from the state's anti-discrimination law," the report stated.

Public agencies were targeted in 15 percent of enforcement actions taken by the fair employment agency involving employment discrimination before the policy took effect in 2008. That number dropped to one percent last year, said the report.

Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Brown, challenged the criticism in the report.

"Contrary to this report's deeply flawed claims, our focus is on protecting the rights of Californians while resolving disputes in the most fair and sensible manner," Westrup told the Times. "The people of California expect and deserve effective management of departments in the Executive Branch, which is precisely what we are doing."

 

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