Her Highness: Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi may have been born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but she’s one Chico State University alumna who’s earned a place at the top.

Al Qasimi, who graduated in 1981 with a BS degree in computer science, was recently appointed as the economy and planning minister in the United Arab Emirates, making her the first woman to hold a high-level government position there.

Al Qasimi, who’s the niece of the ruler of Sharjah, a sheikdom in the UAE, returned to her native land to take on a job in the information technology industry. While working as programmer at Datamatix she completed an executive MBA at the American University of Sharjah. She went on to hold the CEO position at Tejari, a B2B Web company that ushered the UAE into the Internet age, before being named minister.

school DAZE: Addressing the delicate issue of closing some neighborhood schools, the Chico school district’s Campus Consolidation Committee listened to two possible scenarios at its Nov. 16 meeting.Cheryl King, representing the Sacramento consulting firm Schreder & Associates, which has been analyzing local school data, said the firm recommended closing Nord and Rosedale schools. Nord is considered a “small school” and closing it would disrupt the fewest students, and Rosedale has the smallest number of nearby students actually attending, King said.

Committee Chairman Paul Moore pointed out, however, that the closures would save the district only $600,000, short of the $900,000 needed to be cut from the 2005-06 budget. A sub-committee appointed by Moore offered another scenario: Close Hooker Oak Elementary and Jay Partridge. The members also recommended reopening Chapman as a K-6 or K-8 open-structured program.

King noted, however, that moving students from Chapman would be difficult because most of them live close to the campus.

The committee will meet two more times before it gives its final recommendations to the school board on Dec. 15.

Breaching the silence: Remember “The Code of Silence,” the CN&R’s July 8 cover story about prison corruption? Here’s an update:First, Richard Krupp, the 30-year California Department of Corrections auditor who, between 1998 and 2000, informed his superiors that the CDC was paying an excessive amount for prison guards’ overtime and sick leave, refused to cover it up, was reassigned to a nothing job and filed a whistleblower’s lawsuit, has been vindicated. In late October the CDC, after spending $300,000 fighting his suit, settled it for $500,000.

More recently, on Nov. 9, the CDC announced that “several” correctional officers at Salinas Valley State Prison had been fired. The Sacramento Bee researched the story further and found that, in fact, nine employees had been dismissed either for excessive use of force against an inmate or failing to document the incident properly.

At least three of the men, the Bee learned, were members of the “Green Wall,” a gang-like group of guards at the prison that engaged in abuse and intimidation of both inmates and other officers. Its existence was first exposed by CDC investigator D. J. Vodicka, another of the prison whistleblowers profiled in the CN&R story.