Why are you seeking this office?
I promised my three children, who are in elementary school, that I would work to prevent school violence and make sure they feel safe at school. By seeking a Director position, I am not only keeping my promise to my family, I am extending it to our entire community.
What makes you the best person for the job?
Throughout my career in human resources and employment law, I have focused on building strong organizations by valuing the people within. I have the right background and experience to improve our district’s work environment, which is the essential foundation for providing our students a safe and supportive learning environment.
What can be done to enhance security at district schools?
The security of our schools is absolutely critical, but cannot be dependent on a single solution or strategy. Security requires a comprehensive approach of both long term and short term efforts. One of the most effective strategies to prevent violence is social and emotional wellness programs, yet a cultural shift of this magnitude cannot happen overnight. We must simultaneously work to educate students, parents and staff about threat assessment, intervention and emergency preparedness, ensure our buildings are physically secure, and continue to build community partnerships in order to provide exceptionally well trained School Resource Officers in our schools.
What can be done to better address the mental health needs of district students?
If one student in our district is uncomfortable asking for help dealing with conflict, stress, depression or anxiety, or has contemplated suicide or violence, then we simply must do more. Taxpayer approval of additional funding in 2018 added 85 critically needed counselors to our schools for the current school year. Every elementary school now has a social and emotional learning curriculum in place and the student per counselor ratio at middle schools and high schools has improved. It is imperative to provide students with the life skills to identify emotions, control impulses, respect others, and identify and resolve conflict.
Do you support a parent’s right to choose the public school they feel is the best fit for their child?
I have three children with three unique personalities, learning styles, goals and educational needs. As a parent, I know different educational environments and instructional approaches will provide my children with the greatest opportunity for growth and success. As a Director, I will absolutely support a parent’s right to choose the public school they feel is the best fit for their family because every child in our district deserves the greatest opportunity for growth and success.
Do you support charter schools?
I strongly support charter schools. In order for our district to meet the various needs of our 68,000 students, we must provide a diverse portfolio of outstanding educational options. One of my top priorities as a Director is to transition the perceived divide between charter and neighborhood schools to a collaborative and unified community that is proud of the options we are able to offer our students.
Do you believe the DCSD school board has a responsibility to fairly and equitably include their charter schools in the services, funding and facilities they provide their schools?
Public education dollars should be fairly and equitably distributed to public schools, and charter schools are public schools. I absolutely support the current district practice to pass 100% of the state’s designated Per Pupil Revenue and local Mill Levy Revenue to our charter schools. Including our charter schools in district services, funding and facilities creates the opportunity for charters to increase their purchasing power and capitalize on available economies of scale, ultimately creating a more efficient use of tax dollars.
How has the proliferation of charter schools impacted the district?
Education is not one size fits all. Rather than asking how charter schools have impacted our district, we should be asking how school choice is currently utilized to ensure each child is provided the best opportunity for a lifetime of success. Choice is much greater than charter or neighborhood schools. Parents can select if a career and technical education, alternative school, charter school, or which neighborhood school will provide the best learning environment for their child’s learning style, goals and needs. We can strengthen our district by proactively and collaboratively planning to maximize choice while still maintaining efficient district operations.
Would you be in favor of the reinstatement of a collective bargaining agreement between the district and the teachers’ union? Why or why not?
We have an absolute obligation to our employees to work collaboratively and compensate fairly with or without a formal agreement in place. Based on my professional experience, our district is simply not in a position at this time to accurately evaluate the potential effect of collective bargaining.
What issue or issues must the school board make a bigger priority next year than it has in recent years?
Our district will thrive with leaders who bring our community together rather than focusing on the issues that divide us. We all want our students to have unlimited opportunities for success. Even though we may disagree at times about the path, we can only achieve the common goal through unity.
What is your stance on arming teachers in local schools, and why?
I am firmly opposed to arming teachers in our schools under any circumstances. Intentionally bringing multiple loaded firearms into our classrooms is not only a misguided effort to keep our children safe, it is reckless and dangerous. Through a partnership with law enforcement, we have an openly armed, extensively trained, uniformed officer solely dedicated to security at each of our high schools and middle schools through the School Resource Officer Program and shared among our elementary schools through the School Marshall Program. I strongly support the current DCSD Policy on Safe Schools, which is based on the best practice of having dedicated, armed security at our schools rather than arming teachers.