400 SF TEACHERS ABSENT ON DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Hundreds of San Francisco teachers played hooky Tuesday, extending their Thanksgiving holiday and forcing school officials to scramble to find substitutes qualified to take their places.
Across the San Francisco Unified School District, 432 teachers were absent, according to district data, or about 12 percent of the 3,700 teachers.
Most used sick or personal days, though a few were off for training or bereavement.
In addition, nearly 10 percent of teachers also took Monday off.
District officials were forced to call in every available substitute teacher, plus use 100 central office staff members with teaching credentials.
Under their labor contract, San Francisco teachers may take 10 days of leave each year — and they don't have to ask for permission.
TEEN HURT IN ALLEGED HATE CRIME LEAVES HOSPITAL: OAKLAND (AP) — An 18-year-old Northern California teen who was set on fire on a public bus in what authorities say was a hate crime has left the hospital just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving.
"Sasha is doing great, and we are so very happy to have them back in time for the holiday," Sasha Fleischman's father, Karl, told the San Francisco Chronicle after his child was released from St. Francis Memorial Hospital on Wednesday. "Sasha's made great progress."
He referred to Sasha as "them," rather than "him" or "her" because the teen identifies as neither male nor female.
Sasha suffered second- and third-degree burns when the skirt the teen was wearing was set on fire earlier this month on a bus in Oakland.
FEDS FIND POT AFTER SAN DIEGO AIRDROP : SAN DIEGO (AP) — After spotting a package dropping from an ultra-light aircraft in southern San Diego County, Border Patrol agents found more than 260 pounds of marijuana and arrested two men who arrived to retrieve it.
The ultra-light didn't land and was tracked going back over the border to Mexico.
Border Patrol spokeswoman Mary Beth Caston says agents found a metal cage filled with 10 bundles of marijuana valued at about $157,000.
They arrested a 32-year-old man and a 49-year-old man, both from Mexico. Caston says one of the suspects is in the country illegally and the other is a legal permanent resident.
Agents also seized a Ford Expedition parked nearby in the remote Otay Mesa area.
CRYSTAL CATHEDRAL TO BEGIN CATHOLIC TRANSFORMATION: GARDEN GROVE (AP) — The former Crystal Cathedral in Orange County is closing to the public as it begins a transformation into a Roman Catholic cathedral.
The Los Angeles Times reports (http://lat.ms/IknivO) that the recently renamed Christ Cathedral will close Sunday for a $29 million restoration. It's scheduled to reopen in 2016.
The landmark glass-sided church was built by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller and for decades was the home of his "Hour of Power" televangelist broadcasts.
The property was sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange in 2010 after Crystal Cathedral Ministries declared bankruptcy.
3 ARRESTED IN SUSPECTED KIDNAPPING OVER TEXTS: SACRAMENTO (AP) — Sacramento County Sheriff's officials say two men and a teenage boy have been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and beating up a 17-year-old boy who had exchanged text messages with one of their relatives, a 13-year-old girl.
Sgt. Lisa Bowman tells the Sacramento Bee that several witnesses, including four young children, saw the trio punching the 17-year-old before tossing him into a van late Sunday.
Bowman says the victim had been texting the 13-year-old and agreed to meet her. When he arrived at her house he was ambushed, chased and beaten before being carried away and shoved in the van.
A witness chased the van and was able to provide police with a license plate number.
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA RESTAURANT OWNER FOUND DEAD: SACRAMENTO (AP) — The co-owner of a Sammy Hagar-themed restaurant that is the centerpiece of a revitalization effort in a Sacramento suburb was found dead by recreational divers off the coast in far Northern California, authorities said Wednesday.
Stephen Clark Pease, 57, was last seen Nov. 3 when he checked out of a hotel in Fort Bragg, more than 50 miles from the spot where his body was found, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department said. He was driving a rental car that has not been recovered.
The body was retrieved near Gualala, a small town that is roughly a three-hour drive north of San Francisco, by a state Department of Fish and Wildlife warden who swam out and pulled it ashore, where it had to be removed by a helicopter because of the steep terrain.
Mendocino County Sheriff's Capt. Greg Van Patten said there was no obvious sign of foul play, but investigators hope to learn more from the rental car. The department has asked the U.S. Coast Guard to fly over the coastline in an attempt to spot the vehicle.
HATE CRIME REPORTS DECLINE IN CALIFORNIA IN 2012: SACRAMENTO (AP) — The number of hate crimes reported in California declined about 12 percent last year and has dropped by more than one-third over the last decade, the state attorney general's office said Wednesday.
There were 930 reported hate crimes in 2012, down from 1,060 in 2011 and 1,491 in 2003.
Hate crimes based on the victim's race, ethnicity or national origin dropped 10 percent, from 587 in 2011 to 528 last year. But they still accounted for nearly 57 percent of complaints. Blacks have been the most common target, accounting for about one-third of victims in the last decade.
Hate crimes targeting a victim's sexual orientation was the next largest category. Reports fell nearly 4 percent, from 244 in 2011 to 235 in 2012.