Surfers and swimmers had a short time to enjoy the ocean in the early-morning hours Monday, after reports “of some really large sharks,” said Marine Safety Chief Bill Humphreys.
There were two spotted by multiple sources – one 12-footer and a 10-footer – by the end and middle of the pier about 8:15 a.m. Monday.
Sharks under 8-foot are considered to be in the juvenile range and mostly go after sting rays and small fish. But upward of that size and they start changing their diet to eat bigger marine mammals. Size is used to determine how lifeguards respond to a sighting, and whether to order strict closures rather than an advisory with “enter at your own risk” signs.
It takes heavy fishing gear to hook a large shark and “it’s something that is discouraged,” said Humphreys.
“I haven’t confirmed if they were fishing for sharks, but they did get it close to the pier. That leads me to believe they were fishing for sharks. They couldn’t do that with normal fishing gear,” he said. The shark ultimately was released.
The closure is expected to last four hours and will be modified if a new sighting occurs.
On Sunday, the closures started at about 10:30 a.m. after a sighting of an eight to nine-foot shark at the end of the San Clemente Pier. Then at 1 p.m., the department received another sighting report of a six to seven-foot shark, also off the pier. Since the second sighting was of a smaller shark, marine safety officers downgraded the closure to a warning and reopened the water for beachgoers to swim at their own risk.
But with the sheriff’s helicopter spotting about 25 sharks later in the afternoon from Cotton’s Point to Capistrano Beach – a dozen of them grouped together near North Beach – officers reestablished the closure.
It’s little more than bullet points on a single page.
But the effect of President Donald Trump’s plan to overhaul the U.S. tax system is being hotly debated in real estate circles.
The National Association of Realtors, citing Trump’s proposals to double the standard deduction while scrapping write-offs for expenses like state and local property taxes, warns that such a plan would hurt a wide swath of homeowners and the residential real estate market.
“It’s going to continue to make California a renter’s state vs. a homeowner’s state,” said Tammy Newland-Shishido, Orange County Association of Realtors president-elect, who was in Washington D.C., with the national advocacy group last week.
Not every real estate expert foresees dire consequences. Some say if the plan prevails in Congress, it could spread the wealth.
“It’s beneficial to the everyday person,” said Fadel Lawandy, director of the Hoag Center for Real Estate and Finance at Chapman University in Orange. “The middle class is going to benefit, whether they own a home or not. It will help renters significantly.”
Trump’s simple, one-page outline was expected to forge major changes in the tax code this year, but some Wall Street analysts believe the repeated crises faced by the White House could push tax reform into 2018.
Regardless of when it happens, here’s how arguments over what it could mean for housing are unfolding:
What’s been proposed?
Trump’s plan raises the standard deduction to $24,000 from $12,600 for a married couple filing jointly. Only deductions for only mortgages and charitable donations would be allowed. Deductions for state and local taxes, including property taxes, and other write-offs would be eliminated.
The mortgage interest deduction — which allows homeowners to deduct interest paid on home loans up to $1.1 million — would still be an option. But the Realtors group and a national home builders’ organization say it would carry far less value; most people would have to file for the standard deduction and many would pay higher taxes.
Why the alarm?
Real estate agents and builders say they’d be losing what they consider an important incentive for homebuyers — the prospect of receiving a mortgage deduction on their taxes. And, they say, getting rid of deductions for state and local taxes would decrease home values.
“Current homeowners could very well see their home’s value plummet and their equity evaporate if tax reform nullifies or eliminates the tax incentives they depend upon, while prospective homebuyers will see that dream pushed further out of reach,” said William E. Brown, NAR’s president. “While we appreciate the administration’s stated commitment to protecting homeownership, this plan does anything but.”
Brown, from Alamo, added, “Common sense says owning a home isn’t the same as renting one, and American’s tax code shouldn’t treat those activities the same either.”
The National Association of Home Builders also sounded a warning.
“Doubling the standard deduction could severely marginalize the mortgage interest deduction, which would reduce housing demand and lead to lower home values,” said Granger MacDonald, the association’s chairman.
How popular is the mortgage interest deduction?
The write-off, enacted in 1913, has been a third rail in U.S. politics. No one ever touches it.
Proposals to eliminate it, turn it into a tax credit or limit it for high-income taxpayers have come and gone.
In 2014, some 32 million homeowners claimed it, saving about $2,173 each, the National Association of Realtors says.
The real estate industry typically makes a strong push to keep the deduction, saying that to do otherwise would price-out would-be buyers and threaten the housing market.
But some economists and academics say the write-off favors the upper-middle class and the wealthy.
Zillow economist Svenja Gudell said she doesn’t believe that a desire to claim the mortgage interest deduction necessarily drives home purchases.
Dennis C. Smith, a Huntington Beach mortgage broker, agrees.
“Having interviewed potential homeowners for 30 years, I can state that very few, about 10-15 percent or less, of those I have spoken to over the years, make their decision to buy a home because of the tax deduction they will receive,” Smith, co-owner of Stratis Financial, recently wrote in his blog.
How could the tax plan affect pricey housing markets?
Getting rid of property tax deductions would hit expensive markets harder than other places, Realtors, economists and academics say.
“For households in higher-tax states, the benefit of itemizing is higher,” states an article entitled “Tax plan could hurt homeowners” published on the national Realtor group’s’ website. “And for second-home owners, the net tax benefit of itemizing can be substantial.”
“There’s a segment of borrowers who would be adversely affected,” said Paul Habibi, a faculty member at the Ziman Center for Real Estate at UCLA. “It just depends on what side of the income spectrum you’re on.”
In coastal markets, including Los Angeles and Orange County, San Francisco and New York City, he said, “You’re going to have a greater percentage of those potential homeowners adversely affected because they have median prices high enough to kick them into benefiting from the (itemized) deductions.”
Under the plan, a married couple would need a home-loan balance of about $608,000 to use the mortgage interest deduction, up from about $322,000 now, Bloomberg reported.
Ralph McLaughlin, an economist at home search website Trulia, does not think the plan, if implemented, would create a major disruption in the overall housing market.
But, he said, “The proposed tax reform will push the benefits of the mortgage interest deduction further out of reach of the middle class. Under the current tax code, the top 43 percent of household earners can itemize their mortgage interest if they purchased a home. Under the proposed tax plan, that number would shrink to just the top 17 percent.”
In Orange County, only 26 percent of households could afford to buy a home with a mortgage high enough to qualify for the mortgage interest tax deduction under the proposed tax plan – down from 55 percent of households that currently qualify, by Trulia’s math.
Despite arguments that Trump’s proposals could help renters and those struggling to become homeowners, Senate Democrats say Trump’s overall plan is aimed at the rich, including the president.
And the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has said nearly 8 million families – including a majority of single-parent households – would be worse off.
Much still is unknown. The plan has three tax brackets of 10, 25 and 35 percent. But it’s not yet clear what the income levels would be.
And, of course, what Congress would do remains to be seen.
But the plan’s advocates, as well as those who do not see it harming the housing market, predict the savings for most households could actually become a boon to homeownership.
“For many lower and middle-income taxpayers, a higher standard deduction will increase their after-tax income, which could end up boosting home buying demand from these groups if net income rises enough,” said Gudell of Zillow.
“At the end of the day, what really matters is whether people have more or less after-tax money to spend on housing and other living expenses,” she said.
As to those at the higher end who would see no benefit, Smith wrote, “There is an old saying, ‘If you can afford a Ferrari you aren’t worried about the price of gas or an oil change.’
“Similarly, if you can afford a $10 million dollar estate, you aren’t worried about the mortgage interest and property tax deduction.”
Aliso Viejo could soon use grant funds toward improving accessibility at the Aliso Viejo Ranch site and various intersections throughout the city.
The City Council voted on Wednesday, May 18, to indicate its willingness to use grant funds to pay for design work at the ranch to improve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The vote also means the city could use community development funds to install sound-emitting push button stations at 10 intersections throughout the city.
The council voted 3-0 to adopt the resolution. Mayor Dave Harrington and Councilman Ross Chun were not in attendance.
If the city does receive community development funds, about $66,000 would go toward design costs to potentially bring more parking stalls, pathways and restrooms at the ranch site. The cost of improving accessibility at the ranch is estimated at $550,000, according to a staff report.
City staff expects to receive about $226,000 in community development grant funds for the 2017-18 fiscal year. However, funds have not yet been approved and President Donald Trump has proposed eliminating the community development block grant program, according to a staff report.
FOUNTAIN VALLEY Two people were arrested Wednesday in connection with thefts from lockers at a Fountain Valley gym, police said.
Tiffany Cauyong, 18, and Christopher Blackburn ,19, both of Daly City were booked into the Orange County Jail on suspicion of burglary, grand theft, and fraud, Fountain Valley police Sgt. Tony Luce said in a statement.
Around 10:40 a.m. Wednesday, police were notified that several lockers had been broken into at 24 Hour Fitness, 17200 Brookhurst St., Luce said.
Cauyong and Blackburn are suspected of stealing car keys, credit cards and cellphones, Luce said. Police believe the pair used the keys to unlock vehicles in the gym parking lot to take additional items.
Cauyong and Blackburn were arrested as they left Westminster Mall where police say they used stolen credit cards to make fraudulent purchases.
Russell Hillabrand woke up one night with a headache. Odd, he thought, before falling back asleep.
The next morning, the headache returned. Or maybe it never left. The high school senior endured the pain, hoping the pressure in his noggin would subside.
Over the next few years, the teen visited neurological and headache specialists, and when those experts – and their prescriptions – failed to allay the pain, Hillabrand was sent to pain management specialists.
“When you get to that level,” he said, “basically everyone is telling you, ‘We don’t know what to do.’”
Hillabrand’s chronic headache disorder could be genetic or of the onset variety. He doesn’t know. Likely never will.
His headaches fluctuate in severity, from light pressure to full-blown migraines. He said at its worst, his head throbs, as though a tight band has been wrapped around it or a weight placed atop it. Sometimes, he feels spikes poking the back of his eyes.
Hillabrand, 23, has learned how to compartmentalize the pain, burying it so far beneath his zen that even at their worst, the headaches don’t knock him off kilter.
And with the pain accounted for, the outgoing Fullerton College honors student earned five associate degrees, several academic and community awards and a full scholarship to prestigious Pomona College.
“Meditation helps” with channeling the pain, Hillabrand said. “It allows me to focus and reflect, and I try not to be so self-contained. When you’re in pain, you’re thinking about how much it hurts or ‘I can’t do this or that.’
“I stop making it about me, and I focus on others. It’s like the saying: I’m losing myself to find myself.”
***A tough break
In 2011, Hillabrand graduated from Trona High, a school named for the rural town of 1,900 in which it is headquartered.
From the outskirts of Death Valley, Hillabrand moved to Fullerton, enrolled in fall classes and found a full-time job. For two years he worked from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., then attended classes from 6 to 10.
“I didn’t have much of a life,” he quipped.
By spring 2013, he had earned enough credits to enroll at UC Irvine, where he planned to study political science. Around the same time, his mother remarried.
When discussing financial aid with UCI representatives, Hillabrand said he was told his parents made too much money – his stepfather’s salary counted toward the family’s household income, he found out, and because Hillabrand was younger than 24, he couldn’t qualify for financial aid as an independent.
Crestfallen, Hillabrand returned to Fullerton College, deciding against applying for loans to pay tens of thousands of dollars in tuition. He quit his job and found another that paid him less but offered weekend shifts.
Those first few semesters back at Fullerton, Hillabrand said he “lived off of the campus food bank” to get by. From Buena Park, he bused and biked to class – up to a one-hour commute one way, he said.
His headaches intensified as his routine changed. He failed classes.
Bruce Hanson first had Hillabrand in an intro to philosophy class in summer 2012. The teen was one of several students who stayed behind after hours to discuss that week’s material.
“He was brand new to philosophy,” Hanson said, “but he had by far the most inquisitive mind.”
Present day, Hanson – at Fullerton since 1990 – pointed to conversations he had with Hillabrand about St. Thomas Aquinas, Confucius and Taoism as turning points in their relationship; the two were less teacher and student during those discussions than friends, Hanson said.
In 2014, Hillabrand helped found Fullerton College’s philosophy club, a student hub for friendly discourse. Evelyn Martinez, a fellow student, joined, and the two hit it off. (They now are planning a wedding.)
Hillabrand also became a supplemental instruction tutor for Jodi Balma, his political science professor, and Hanson. He planned activities for other students that reinforced course content.
“The guy’s got a natural gift for teaching,” Hanson said. “He’s the best thinker I’ve had. Not the smartest, certainly not the best looking,” he added with a laugh, “but the first mark of a thinker is his ability to get some distance on the common mindset of a generation.
“Every generation has certain values, a certain mindset or cultural perspective. The best thinkers can transcend that and think against the grain.”
In the past couple of years, Hillabrand has earned associate degrees in philosophy, political science, geography, religious studies and economics.
But not without hardship.
Florescent lights and loud noises trigger Hillabrand’s headaches. Quite the combination for a college student, he joked. But while lecture halls and classrooms are “not physically comforting,” he said, they’re “safe havens, mental and emotional safe havens.
“At the beginning of a class (the headaches) can be painful,” Hillabrand said, “but school is what I like most, so I still enjoy class.”
Earlier this school year, Balma, Hanson and four other Fullerton faculty members nominated Hillabrand for consideration as a 2017 student of distinction, in the personal achievement category.
On Friday, a committee of campus constituents named him one of two distinguished students of the year.
“You can talk to any instructor he’s had here and they all adore him,” Hanson said. “He can have a serious discussion without making a person feel judged or threatened. That’s a gift. That’s a rare gift.”
Erwin Chemerinsky, who is the founding Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law at UCI, teaches one of his classes in 2015. (Michael Goulding, Staff File)
Erwin Chemerinsky, who is the founding Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law at UCI, wipes down the classes whiteboard and chats with a student after teaching one of his classes in 2015. (Michael Goulding, Staff File)
Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean of UCI Law School, makes a point while discussing “Marriage Redefined in One State or All? The Meaning and Impact of the Supreme Marriage Decisions” at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa in 2013. (Christine Cotter, Staff File)
Erwin Chemerinsky, has a one-on-one discussion with Ronald Park of Irvine after teaching one of his classes in 2015. (Michael Goulding, Staff File)
Erwin Chemerinsky, the founding dean of UC Irvine’s School of Law, will become the next dean of UC Berkeley’s law school, ending his nine-year tenure in Orange County during which he has taught courses on the First Amendment, published multiple books and law review articles and argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Berkeley announced the appointment on Wednesday, May 17. Chemerinsky will begin his five-year term at Berkeley School of Law on July 1.
“Dean Chemerinsky is an acclaimed researcher, gifted teacher, and accomplished administrator,” Carol Christ, interim executive vice chancellor at Berkeley, said in a statement.
“I believe he will be a phenomenal leader for our law school, someone who will ensure that Berkeley Law remains not only a powerhouse of legal scholarship and training, but also a community built on mutual respect and inclusion.”
L. Song Richardson, who has a law degree from Yale University, will become the interim dean when Chemerinsky leaves UCI, that university said in a statement.
Richardson joined the faculty at the UCI law school in 2014, and teaches courses on criminal law, criminal procedure, and law and social science.
“I want to express my enormous gratitude to Dean Erwin Chemerinsky for all he has contributed to the success of the law school and the entire university during his tenure as dean,” said UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman in a statement. “I’m very grateful that Song Richardson has agreed to serve as interim dean, knowing that she will work with the law school community to maintain our extraordinary momentum.”
Richardson – who has also taught at DePaul University, American University and the University of Iowa – said in a statement Wednesday that she is “honored and humbled” to become interim dean and noted Chemerinsky’s role in turning the law school into an “extraordinary” institution.
“Through our collective leadership, I look forward to an exciting future for UCI law and to more continued success,” she said.
The university’s statement did not say when it will begin to search for a permanent dean.
San Juan Capistrano is known for its historic Spanish mission, for its migratory birds called swallows, for its indigenous people the Acjachemen, for its equestrian heritage and maybe, now, for its beers?
Joe Wilshire, Brian Hendon and Scott Cortellessa, owners of the town’s first brewery, say they are encouraged by the reception they’ve received since they opened for business on March 27 at 33049 Calle Aviador, in an industrial district bordering San Juan Creek.
Docent Brewing creates craft beers on site and operates “San Juan Capistrano’s Public House,” serving food and a variety of brews in a social setting. Hours are 3 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 10 Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 7 Sundays.
We asked Wilshire about the enterprise:
How did you come up with the name?
Over the last five years we attempted to get clearance on many different names with no success. Once we connected with our brewer, Bryan Giesen, he had a beer named Docent. As we developed our business philosophy and mission, we realized that Docent was a perfect match for what we wanted to do in the beer industry – guide people through the process of discovering new locally crafted beer.
Why San Juan Capistrano?
We are local guys. Brian Hendon and myself live right across the creek from the brewery. Scott lives in Laguna Beach, right down the road. San Juan Capistrano is a city full of great history and charm. It was always our goal to be San Juan’s first brewery and we made it!
How are things going?
Things have gone as we had hoped. People are embracing the “Public House” vibe we are going for, and we are meeting our neighbors and making new friends every day.
What kind of beers do you do?
Everything except sours. At least for now. We really want to have something for everyone that is willing to explore our beers. That means we hopefully will get people that are making Docent their first brewery experience. For those guests, we offer our “Canteen,” “Self Titled” and maybe our delicious pale ale “Peel Top.” But we also want to have offerings for the seasoned beer connoisseur. Our brewer along with the rest of us Docents are ready to take on that challenge.
How many beers do you plan to do?
We will have a lineup of about 8-10 beers that will remain regulars on our wall, But the great thing about being a small craft brewery is the ability to experiment with different recipes and styles and give our guests the opportunity to explore those tasty creations alongside us. We currently have the equipment necessary to do about 2,500 barrels per year. That may take a little time to hit our max production.
Are your beers available outside the brewery?
Currently our beers are available at several local restaurants and tap rooms that focus on local crafted beer.
What in the founders’ backgrounds led you all to start a brewery?
Brian Hendon has been exploring the craft beer scene since the mid 90s. Brian and Scott are brother in laws, married to sisters. Scott and I have kids the same age that have grown up together. All of our experiences hanging out together, traveling together and enjoying each other’s company always revolved around craft beer. We thought we had some good ideas about creating a local brewery that the community would embrace as a public house — a place to meet your friends and make new ones. So far, so good.
In brief, list five things the community should know about Docent Brewing.
1. Our brewer, Bryan Giesen, is a local. Born and raised in Dana Point. He developed all of his recipes home brewing over the last 10 years.
2. Brian, Scott and myself worked on this project for about five years before we actually got the doors opened.
3. We have a kitchen. Check out our menu online at Docentbrewing.com
4. Kids and dogs are welcome.
5. If you are stopping in for the first time or the 100th time, say hello. We look forward to meeting all of our guests. Cheers!
San Clemente’s Nico Coli powers his way to the Western Surfing Association’s West Coast title in the Boys Under 14 division. He also was a finalist in the SSS State Middle School Championships a day earlier.
George Williams of Laguna Beach shows his winning form May 14 at the Western Surfing Association’s 2017 West Coast Championships tournament at Oceanside. He won the Boys Under 16 division, althought the West Coast title went to Mick Davey of La Jollas on cumulative season points.
Liam Murray of San Clemente bashes a section en route to victory in the Boys Under 18 division at the WSA West Coast Surfing Championshiips on May 14 at Oceanside. San Clemente’s Reef Tsutsui placed third and clinched the season title on cumulative points.
Dana Point’s Bella Kenworthy was a two-division finalist at the Western Surfing Association’s 2017 West Coast Championships.
While spectators keep an eye on the surfing action at the 2017 Western Surfing Association West Coast Championships, some gymnastics training is going on in the background.
Namor Cayres, a Brazilian surfer now residing in San Clemente, took first place in the Open Men’s shortboard division at the 2017 Western Surfing Association West Coast Championships tournament.
Kai McPhillips of San Clemente is the Scholastic Surf Series’ California state middle school longboard champion. He also was a finalist in shortboarding.
Callan Emery of Laguna Niguel won his division on May 14 at the Western Surfing Association’s West Coast Championships tournament held at Oceanside. Lucas Owston of Oceanside was the West Coast champion based on total season points.
Reef Tsutsui of San Clemente captured the Western Surfing Association’s season title for Boys Under 18, clinching it with a third-place showing at the championship event of the season.
Two spectators watching the finals of the WSA West Coast Surfing Championships from Oceanside Harbor’s South Jetty took time out to take a selfie.
Petey Romaniuk of Huntington Beach is Western Surfing Association’s West Coast Champion for Boys Under 10.
With a third-place showing at the Western Surfing Association’s 2017 West Coast Surfing Championships tournament at Oceanside, Pedro Todaro of San Clemente clinched the season title in Open Men’s shortboarding.
Kristina Hehl of Huntington Beach goes vert during the Girls Under 18 championship final at the WSA West Coastg Surfing Championships.
Laguna Beach surfers George Williams and Travis Booth, pictured here, placed 1-2 at the Western Surfing Association’s 2017 West Coast Championships tournament in the Boys Under 16 division.
San Clemente’s Jeff Jessee won the Open Men’s shortboard division at the 2017 Western Surfing Association West Coast Championships tournament.
Jake Levine of Laguna Beach blasts off the top during Boys Under 18 final at the WSA West Coast Surfing Championships. He placed second in his division.
Meet the Shorecliffs Middle School surf team, which brought home the 2017 Scholastic Surf Series California state middle school surfing title to San Clemente.
Hagan Johnson was one of three Shorecliffs Middle School surfers in the SSS state middle school shortboard final, with teammates Nico Coli and Kai McPhillips.
Tess Booth of Thurston Middle School in Laguna Beach won a girls’ title at the Scholastic Surf Series’ California state middle school surfing championships.
Luke Blackwill of San Clemente is the Scholastic Surf Series’ California state middle school bodyboard champion.
With San Clemente surfers leading the way, Orange County produced champions in 13 of 25 divisions Sunday, May 14, at the West Coast Surfing Championships in Oceanside.
Petey Romaniuk of Huntington Beach won Western Surfing Association titles in two divisions, as did Pedro Todaro, a San Clemente surfer originally from Brazil.
Other West Coast titles went to San Clemente’s Reef Tsutsui, Nico Coli, Jeff Jessee, Chad Clifton, Ezra McPhillips, Tommy Coleman, Hana Catsimanes and to Lance Albright of Huntington Beach and Jeff Munson of Corona del Mar.
The two-day tournament benefited from consistent waist- to head-high waves. Season titles were based on points earned in monthly contests held since August, plus the championship event.
In the two-day contest itself, Orange County produced first-place winners in 14 of 25 divisions: Mark Austin of Orange, George Williams of Laguna Beach, Callan Emery of Laguna Niguel, Albright of Huntington Beach, Munson of Corona del Mar and San Clemente’s Coli, Jessee, Clifton, McPhillips, Todaro, Namor Cayres, Liam Murray, Kai Finn and Tommy Coleman.
Top-rated performers will earn invitations to the Surfing America USA Championships from June13-17 at Oceanside and June 19-22 at Lower Trestles, south of San Clemente.
On day one of the tournament, the Scholastic Surfing Series completed its own state championships on the same beach, with Shorecliffs Middle School of San Clemente taking the title. As that contest concluded at 11 a.m., the two-day WSA championships began.
SANTA ANA A 29-year-old Anaheim man was sentenced to 52-years-to-life in prison on Friday for stabbing his mother’s boyfriend to death in a rage over how the boyfriend treated her.
A jury in March convicted Ruben Martinez of first-degree murder for the death of Maximino Fuentes Clara, 52, of Garden Grove, who was found lying in the street with multiple stab wounds in an unincorporated area near Anaheim on Nov. 16, 2014.
Martinez, who has prior convictions for carjacking and vehicle theft, stabbed Clara after an argument, prosecutors said.
For Principal Jon Tuin, Tustin High is familiar territory on a couple of fronts.
First, he grew up nearby in Santa Ana. After graduating from Saddleback High, Tuin spent the next three decades in the Midwest – starting at Wheaton College.
Second, his current school in Elgin, Illinois, demographically mirrors his new place of employment.
Before applying, Tuin went on the Tiller website and studied the statistics, which show that 65 percent of the student population live beneath the poverty line.
“It’s so similar – that’s what got me excited,” he said. “If it were an affluent school, I wouldn’t have been interested. I feel it is my calling to work with students in poverty.”
Tuin, 55, will take the reins at Tustin this summer after tying up the school year at Larkin High – where he has served for eight years. He replaces Christine Matos, who will move to a district-level position.
“He is an experienced principal who has a proven record of leadership and commitment to the achievement of all students,” said Tustin Unified Superintendent Gregory Franklin.
Todd Duty, a division chair at Larkin High, agreed: “Tustin is getting a top-drawer leader. Jon wants nothing but the best for students.”
Tuin began his career as an elementary teacher, which led to his role as a K-5 principal and an assistant high school principal in the Elgin Area School District — 40 miles outside of Chicago.
In 2008, he received a call from the district’s new superintendent requesting a meeting.
“I thought he was going to fire me,” Tuin said.
After all, the district had just given notice to all 13 administrators at Larkin High, which was sorely lagging behind in performance.
But instead, Tuin was named the high school’s new principal.
“Over the previous 10 years, the demographics at Larkin had completely flipped, which caught everyone off guard,” Tuin said.
As an indication of increasing poverty and diversity, 70 percent of students qualified for free and reduced lunches in comparison to less than 20 percent a decade before, he said.
The school’s administrators became bogged down in a sense of hopelessness and negativity, recalled Duty, a fine arts teacher at the time.
“Those were dark days,” he said. “Morale was horrible.”
Tuin’s mission: “Bring back Royal pride.”
“The first two years were pretty tough, but we’re in a much better place now,” he said.
The new guy emphasized that all could find a path to college – adding AP classes and hanging university banners around campus. Every spring, he accompanied students on college trips – sometimes out of state.
“He truly believes that no matter what, all kids can learn,” said Donna Saurbaugh, Tuin’s secretary for 12 years.
Tuin rarely sits in his office but, rather, strolls around campus chatting with students, she said.
“I swear he probably knows the first name of each of our 2,000 students,” she said.
Tuin and his wife Heather, a sixth-grade teacher, started thinking about relocating when the oldest of their three children moved to Los Angeles. He still has family here and visits frequently.
“We love California,” he said.
What changes would he like to implement at Tustin High?
“Absolutely nothing,” Tuin said. “It is a high-functioning school with a lot of good things going on. I’m not coming in with any preconceived ideas. I’m just going to listen, learn and build relationships.”
His main goal as a principal is, he said, straightforward: “How do we reach even more kids? There’s always room to convince students that they can do more than they think they can.”
Tustin High’s gain is a big loss for Larkin, Saurbaugh promised, choking back tears.
“He is the most awesome person ever,” she said. “I know that sounds over-the-top. But there will never be another Dr. Tuin.”
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