Thank you for visiting my website. I am excited to represent our community on the SMMUSD School Board. This grassroots campaign is about putting our children and parents first and working with teachers and the community to fight for our students. I am a civil rights attorney with a long history of public service. A seat on the SMMUSD School Board is an extension of my commitment to serve the public good, but in this case, my clients are the families of Santa Monica. My wife and I have our own two elementary school age daughters and understand first-hand the need to invest in the future of our community. I am asking for your vote on November 3rd.
I have made a career fighting for the underdog. As a Deputy District Attorney in Portland, Oregon, I prosecuted abusers on behalf of domestic violence victims. As a criminal defense attorney, I accept court appointments to defend indigent members of our community. As a civil attorney, I have defended the intellectual property of some of our local artists against large companies and movie studios, protected women and minorities from discrimination, and enforced prisoners’ rights including the first successful lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons on behalf of prisoners who became ill with Valley Fever while imprisoned.
The late Robert F. Kennedy said: “The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.” I have lived that idea whether it’s volunteering for many years at the Venice Family Clinic or serving on the College Board of Trustees as the elected student representative for my law school or serving on the Board of Planned Parenthood as well as being a member of the PTA for John Muir and Franklin Elementary, community service is a part of my life.
As a parent in SMMUSD, I have watched the district debt crisis deepen. Parents feel more removed from the School Board’s decision making process. And as a parent of a special needs student, I have seen too many disputes unnecessarily devolve into lawsuits causing precious resources to fund lawyers and settlements instead of those resources going to our teachers, students and schools.
I support the Board’s mission of closing the achievement gap, but we need new leadership for these extraordinary times. The achievement gap closes when all students achieve their potential. We have fantastic schools, but a dysfunctional bureaucracy. Wonderful teachers, but our School Board has become complacent. I pledge to you that this will change.
Our district boasts of transparency, yet the Board lacks true public input and chills the debate of ideas and points of view. There are public meetings, but it seems like all the votes are worked out in advance. There are public comments, but time and time again the constituent is thanked for their input with no action taken or accountability for failing to follow through. I will ensure that parents and members of our community are informed, involved and their voices heard.
Most everyone agrees with this goal. How to get there is a matter of great dispute. Needed on the School Board are individuals with proven track records on this issue in order to have credibility, ability and insight to lead the district. We need a curriculum that is more inclusive and accessible to our entire student body and teaches a diverse, inclusive and fact-based American history in an even-handed way that prepares our students for a future of social harmony.
Anyone serious about closing the achievement gap must advocate for improving special education. Provide more options to parents. Reduce lawsuits. Focus on children’s needs and family priorities.
The budget crisis is real. We need to make tough choices. But, your School Board voted to terminate 24 teachers in the first round of budget cuts this year. This is wrong. I believe we should invest in teachers and students, not bureaucracy.