Board Selects Archer, Fernandes, Sunder as Finalists

Board President Gina Daleiden (right) with Sheila Allen (left) listen to applicants talking about their credentials.
Board President Gina Daleiden (right) with Sheila Allen (left) listen to applicants talking about their credentials.

Despite fears that it would go deep into the night, the process to whittle the applicant field from eight down to the three went smoothly – perhaps too smoothly.

All eight of the candidates gave three-minute talks. They had also submitted an application to the district. When they wrapped up their talks, there were a couple of public comments, one from DTA Rep. Blair Howard indicating the DTA’s preference for Alan Fernandes.

There was a belief that the votes may take a couple of rounds, but that turned out not to be a problem either. Only four of the candidates drew votes. Alan Fernandes got the support of all four, Barbara Archer and Madhavi Sunder received three votes, and Tom Adams received the remaining two votes.

Now the question is when will the meeting be held to pick the replacement to Nancy Peterson, who resigned in early March following controversy over the investigation and non-renewal of volleyball coach Julie Crawford’s contract.

The board originally had set the date for May 8, however, Trustee Tim Taylor has a prior commitment. It is possible that the meeting could be moved to Monday, May 5. Clearly we would need to know this by the end of the day on Friday, May 2.

The candidates spoke in alphabetical order.

Archer-Board-AppBarbara Archer told the board, “At a recent board meeting, Vice President Taylor made a comment that has stuck with me. This appointment process is not a campaign, I agree. I believe it’s a contribution of service for six months until the people can speak in November.

“In the next six months, I know that the board will be making some key hiring decisions, approving the LCAP [Local Control Accountability Plan], and completing the 2014-15 budgeting process. I would like to contribute to this process during this critical time.

“I’ve given ten years of service to the district thus far and in the last few years especially, I’ve learned a lot about the DJUSD Budget from co-chairing the Measure C parcel tax, and sitting on the parcel tax oversight committee. I would bring institutional memory to this contribution of service since I have been active in the school district for so long.

“I started attending board meetings about nine years ago when I wanted to hear about the best uses of schools task force. As you know I have been a regular at school board meetings this year. I recently served on the strategic plan action team for technology infrastructure and facilities. So if tech and facilities issues come before the board in the next six months, I will have that experience under my belt to inform decisions.

“Another key part of my contribution would be the relationships built over the years with parents, teachers and district staff. As PTA Vice President and then PTA President, I served for two years on the Superintendent’s parents advisory committee and also attended parent-leader group meetings. I’m a member of these groups for a third year in this current school year as Vice President of the Da Vinci booster board.

“For years I have handled parents’ questions that come through these parent-connected school organizations. People have even knocked on my door at home to ask me about school questions. I have fielded many school and parcel tax questions from the community. As a parent leader, I have worked with teachers on projects and committees and I have worked with district staff on various issues. I am educated about school climate issues and school site budgets from my elected two year term on the Willet site council.

“In my professional life I have worked in communications for small and large companies. My knowledge of strategic communications and project work flow would help me analyze DJUSD programs.

“I would be happy to continue my public service to the district for the six-month term that if that is the will of the board. With ten years of district service, my years of experience as a parent leader, and my district budget knowledge, I believe I can hit the ground running and work hard for the DJUSD community.”

Fernandes-Board-AppAlan Fernandes told the board, “Good evening members of the board and the community, my name is Alan Fernandes and I’m an applicant for the vacant position. I’m applicant for many reasons. First and foremost because I’ve been encouraged to apply by the many supporters as all of you know I recently ran for election and I was heartened and humbled to have the support of really the backbone of our community and our schools and the teachers and the school employees.

“My base of support continues and it continues to grow and I’m here at their urging, but more than that I’m here because the issues that I ran on just 18 months ago remain and that is the importance of implementing a strategic plan and new state standards. I believe I have a diversity of perspective and experience that would contribute greatly to your governance team.

“When I speak of diversity of perspective I mean many things, but principally I mean I’m a parent of young children. I think that’s instructive as a board member because I’m going to make decisions as a board member that not only are good for kids today, but are good for graduates tomorrow.

“But I also know that your own personal experiences shouldn’t dictate your positions on the board and that as a board member you’re a trustee which is a fiduciary and that you always have to look for all students, and make decisions in the interest of all students of our district. I’m committed that cause.

“But I also bring another perspective and that is candidly a fresh perspective, it’s a perspective I gained running an election as many of you know. You know when you run election it forces you to reach outside your own community and talk to different parts of our community and candidly I have been informed and it’s shaped my perspective and improved my sense of our schools. But I also bring a diverse set of experiences I think is productive and useful and relevant to serving on the board.

“I’m an attorney, I practice Public Law. I’ve a great familiarity with the public records act, the Brown act, the voting rights act these are bodies of law that interact with school districts. In addition my professional experience however I have extensive tree volunteers dating back from the days when I was a student on the UC Davis campus.

“I’ve literally contributed to many parts of our community and volunteers. And whether it be site council, a member the strategic planning committee, Little League coach, serving on city and county commissions – it’s informed me of a sense of our community values but more than that I have a deep understanding of how our community fits together and I think that’s an important characteristic of a school board member.

“In my professional life I’m a manager. I’m a manager in the public-sector and I understand the relationship between administration and staff. Indeed I’m responsible for state government relations for the largest local government in the country. I have a seat at very important tables and you can’t do my job without having a detailed understanding of minutia, understanding the larger context of how it affects organization.

“I can stand up, take a stand, and work collaboratively to get to a bottom line. I think I’d be an excellent member of your governing board. I’d be honored to serve with you.”

Sunder-Board-AppMadhavi Sunder told the board, “It would be an honor to take a seat at the table beside you for the next six months to help serve our community. I will bring to the table my experience as an educator for 15 years at UC Davis, as well as my energy, initiative, and ability to get the job done.

“I am an internationally recognized legal scholar. My work is broad ranging from gay rights to Muslim women’s human rights, my commitment to diversity and inclusion are long-standing.

“I proudly teach at a public law school named after Martin Luther King Junior where many of our students are the first in their families to attend graduate school. I’m a daughter of immigrants who attended public school through the 12th grade. From there I went to Harvard College and Stanford Law School before coming to teach at the University of California Davis.

“I seek this appointment and a seat on the board in November, because I hold a deep commitment that we must make good on the promise of public schools in our democracy. Public school is the engine that makes our country the land of opportunity, public-school gives every child regardless of background an opportunity to explore, learn and reach her full potential.

“We must ensure that the DJUSD maintains its leading position in advancing the education of all our town’s children from migrant children to the children of PhD’s. Our schools should reflect and celebrate our diversity. A diversity of student needs calls for a diversity of programs so that every student in our district can thrive. Our new two-way bilingual immersion program for example, allows non-native speakers to learn English, while native speakers learn Spanish.

“Alternative programs from Montessori to King to Fairfield to Spanish immersion, from our inclusion program to AIM [Alternative Instructional Model] to DSIS [Davis School for Independent Study] help our district support all children. While we have many programs however we must not lose our identity as one district, with a single-minded goal that each child should learn and thrive.

“We must nurture a culture that holds that if there’s a child in our district who is succeeding in any one of our programs that that makes me happy even if it’s not my child. And we must each be worried when any one of our children is struggling even if it’s not our child.

“Both our neighborhood programs and our special programs must be excellent, supported, and respected. I will make teachers a priority. Small classes and effective professional development are key tools for promoting teacher success and in turn the success of our children. My demonstrated record of leadership makes me well-positioned to meet the heady fiscal and educational challenges ahead.

“Nine years ago I led the community effort to name our newest elementary school after civil rights legend Fred Kormatsu. Davis was recognized in the New York Times for this landmark naming.

“To better appreciate our challenges now I have embarked on a school tour visiting each of the 20 schools in our district. The tour shows how I will lead, by being connected and accessible, by researching the facts and by rolling up my sleeves to learn from educators, parents and students across the district.”

Here are the applications by the three finalists:

Barbara Archer: boe_application_-_archer_with_resume_-_redacted

Alan Fernandes: boe_application_-_fernandes_-_redacted

Madhavi Sunder: boe_application_-_sunder_-_redacted

According to board President Gina Daleiden, the district will announce by 11 am Friday morning when the meeting will be held.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Davis Progressive

    no surprise that the board would go with alan and barbara. disappointing that the teacher’s association is following suit with alan. but i get it, he’s a shill for labor.

    shocker is madhavi. everyone i talk to at the law school really likes her. we need that kind of leader on the board, someone who can talk to the kids who are not just in the honor’s programs.

  2. nkristis

    Not really surprised but I was hoping they would consider Bob Poppenga. I think we need people with new ideas and a fresh perspective for the board.

    1. DavisAnon

      At least there seemed to be several good candidates. Some others I’d like to hear more from as they could be good as well, and a few I wasn’t so thrilled about. I agree with the comments that Madhavi and Bob would be good choices for our district. I spoke with Madhavi recently and she seemed open and respectful of different perspectives but forthcoming and honest so I don’t think she would just rubber stamp poor decisions for the sake of toeing the party line. I haven’t had an opportunity to speak with Bob yet, but I liked his statement. Alan seemed ok last night, though he didn’t express his views that much and I’d like to hear more. One significant reservation I have with Alan is that I’m concerned about anyone that Susan Lovenburg is supporting. After seeing her performance during the volleyball mess and her responses in board meetings, she just seems like a shill for the superintendent. Susan voted for Tom, Barbara and Alan last night so I will have to look more closely before deciding on them. I do not want to see anymore decisions made on vague “factors”. Barbara apparently wrote negative comments about GATE in the Davis Enterprise, so I think appointing her would be a poor choice – we don’t need another Nancy Peterson situation on the Board. If the voters want to elect her in the fall knowing her views, that’s one thing. But I don’t think the Board should make that choice on their own.

  3. David Greenwald

    Received this email from Superintendent Winfred Roberson:

    “I want to give you a heads up that due to a work conflict with one of the Trustees’ schedule, it was necessary to change the May 8 candidate selection special meeting to May 5, @ 4pm. The date change allows all four Trustees to participate in this important selection decision. ”

    It will be in the community chambers.

      1. hpierce

        Did “Mexico” exist before the battle? Or was Mexico ‘born’ from it? [yeah, know it’s somewhat off-topic, but enquiring minds…’]

      2. hpierce

        Find it interesting that the candidates’ e-mail addresses were redacted [by DV or DJUSD?], yet in an earlier story re: employees communicating about a party for the former CM’s departure, their personal e-mail addresses were ‘out there’ for a full 3+ hours…

        Did you ever apologize t those employee, David?

        1. Davis Progressive

          if you go to the djusd site, you’ll see that djusd redacted the emails. why do you persist in pressing the issue from last week when david publicly apologize for the oversight?

  4. David Greenwald

    Bob Poppenga sent me his comment. The others were transcribed by hand which took about an hour, that’s why I only posted the three finalists.

    Good evening.

    Thank-you for the opportunity to briefly tell you why I believe that I am Board worthy and ready.
    Providing educational opportunities that maximize each child’s chance of reaching his or her full potential is a worthy goal, but perhaps too restrictive. We should always ask ourselves if the District, as a whole, is reaching its full potential. If it can, then this truly lays the foundation for the success of each and every child. We can’t afford to waste or to constrain a single mind.

    I value, support, and advocate for public education. I am a product of 24 years of public education – from kindergarten through graduate training – and I have continued to be involved in my role as a public university faculty member. As an educator myself, I understand the tremendous amount of work that goes on “behind the scenes” to make it look easy in the classroom. I understand the difficulties of maintaining quality and high morale in the face of tight budgets.
    We DO need to be fiscally responsible, but we also need to convey the message that a quality public education is a true bargain compared to the alternatives.

    Maintaining community support for public education requires exceptional two-way communication and absolute transparency in all but a select few activities. I support the idea of the Board adopting specific codes of ethical behavior and conflicts of interest for itself, giving them a prominent place on the District’s website, and reviewing them on a regular basis.

    I am a strong proponent of early educational opportunities and summer enrichment programs, particularly for at risk children. I am also a strong proponent of strengthening and enhancing public and private partnerships to leverage resources and to provide opportunities that the District can’t provide alone. I believe that as new resources become available, classrooms should be made whole before the “front office”.

    We need to constantly remind ourselves of how important teachers and staff are – with a 50% teacher turnover facing the district in the next 5 to 6 years it is essential that we attract the best, brightest, and most energetic replacements.

    I respect differences of perspective and style on the board and among staff, students, parents, and the community. Every opinion and thought has value.

    As a trustee I would commit to regular classroom and school site visits, to be available for office hours, to explore new ways to communicate about school issues, and to constantly seek input from all people – whether they have loud or soft voices.

    I am a firm believer in using best evidence and best practices whenever possible to drive policies and programs.

    Ultimately, my goal as a trustee is encapsulated by the quote attributed to the Sioux leader, Sitting Bull, who said:

    “Let us put our minds together to see what life we can create for our children.”

    Education is such an important part of the life that we create for our children. Ultimately, it’s not about my children, or your children, or those who have no children. It’s about OUR children. That is why I am seeking a seat on the Davis School Board.

    1. Michelle Millet

      I think this was my favorite line of the night.

      Ultimately, it’s not about my children, or your children, or those who have no children. It’s about OUR children. That is why I am seeking a seat on the Davis School Board.

      This came in a close second:

      to constantly seek input from all people – whether they have loud or soft voices.\

      I’m looking forward to learning more about Poppenga.

  5. Peabody

    What confidence should I have in the replacement that the Board selects given the recent decisions that they have made? A serious candidate would want to separate themselves from the current Board and promote consideration and diversity of opinions. Taking the wisdom of two sitting Board members Sheila Allen and Susan Lovenburg, “With these lessons in mind, it is time to move on.”

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