School Absenteeism; Utility Fightning Future Punitive Damages; New Years Day Hike

School Absenteeism

Oregon kids are missing a lot of school, and it could have consequences beyond their education. Nearly 40 percent of students missed 16 or more days during the last school year, according to the Oregon Department of Education. While the pandemic exacerbated it, head of the organization Attendance Works Hedy Chang says chronic absenteeism was a problem before COVID. She says school plays many roles in kids’ lives, which is why attendance is so important.

“Showing up to school regularly is so important for engaging with peers. It’s where you connect with other kids as well as connecting with adults so that you get re-engaged in the whole learning process, the joy of learning and being part of a school community.”

Chang says to combat chronic absenteeism, we need to understand what causes it. For instance, lack of health care or transportation can prevent kids from getting to school. They might also feel an aversion because they’re bullied. On a local level Superintendent of Siuslaw Schools, Andy Grzeskowiak says they are not following the state trends. Currently the absentee rate is about 10%.  He also says that fewer students are missing classes regularly the rate of those missing more than 10% of their classes continues to fall.  He says the thing that does interrupt students attendance is mainly illness which had a significant impact in the thirds weeks of September and October.

Utility Fightning Future Punitive Damages

Groups in Oregon are fighting for consumer rights in the face of what they call “a concerning request” from PacifiCorp, the state’s second largest electricity provider. Earlier this year, PacifiCorp asked the Oregon Public Utility Commission to set limits on future lawsuit awards, restricting payments to actual damages for property and loss of life. This request, according to Jagjit Narga from the Oregon Consumer Justice group, puts customer rights in jeopardy.

“Because essentially what they’re saying is that if you want electricity, you have to, you the consumer, have to take the risk, not just of us being negligent, as the jury found earlier, but also for us being recklessly indifferent to causing harm to our customers. “

Narga says that the company’s request protects its investors. He argues that removing nonpunitive damages relieves PacifiCorp of responsibility and denies consumers the ability to seek adequate remedies for their losses. He points out the filing came after a Multnomah County jury found PacifiCorp liable for wildfires that occurred on Labor Day of 2020 and ordered them to pay nearly 72-million-dollars in damages to the victims.

New Years Day Hike

If you enjoy hiking, or would like to explore the idea, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is organizing a First Day Hike at Jessie M. Honeyman State Park on January 1st.  it is a guided hike and free for all.  The hike begins at 9 am New Years day and takes the 1.8 mile trail around Cleawox Lake.  The trail will cover several different types of surfaces including pavement, gravel, sand and dirt, and possibly some mud.  They will not be allowing dogs on this hike.  Dress appropriately. If you have any necessary, reasonable accommodations they ask that you make your requests by Monday December 18th by contacting Patrick Dill the Parks Ranger at 999-0884.