OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

Anaheim Union High School District to Fill Vacancy Tonight

Posted by Chris Nguyen on April 27, 2012

Anaheim Union High School DistrictThe Anaheim Union High School District is set to fill the vacancy from the untimely passing of Jan Harp Domene.  The board is set to meet tonight at 5 PM to select which of the 13 applicants they will select to fill the seat.

It will take 3 votes to fill the seat, as the four AUHSD trustees need a majority vote to fill the fifth seat.  The four AUHSD trustees are Board President Anna Piercy (R-Cypress) and Board Members Jordan Brandman (D-Anaheim), Brian O’Neal (R-La Palma), Katherine Smith (R-Anaheim).  If the trustees fail to appoint anyone to the vacancy tonight, then that triggers the legal deadline that will force the seat to remain vacant until the November election, leaving the voters to decide who will fill the vacancy.

On Wednesday, in a five-hour meeting, the AUHSD trustees interviewed the 13 applicants.  Each applicant was asked five questions:

  • What motivated you to apply for this provisional appointment?  How does your background, training, and experience prepare you for this post?
  • What is the primary role of a member of the Anaheim Union High School District board?
  • What are the characteristics of an outstanding board member?
  • What previous involvement do you have in AUHSD, and for how many years?
  • Do you have anything else you would like to share?

From experienced volunteers to playng the race card to people who just know what’s going on when they walk into a building to people who couldn’t remember their own experiences to people who thought education was not the primary responsibility of the school district, the interviews had it all.  Here are my summaries of what each candidate said:

  • Jackie Filbeck (R-Anaheim): She noted her working relationships with each of the elementary school boards that feed into AUHSD, her experience on education committees, her roots in Anaheim, and her professional background in accounting and contracts.  She believes the board “manage[s] the district collaboratively” to ensure student success, sets policies and negotiates contracts, and serves as a community representative.  She states outstanding board members “do their homework;” investigate issues; stay informed; are each a people person who interacts with the community, staff, and students; represent the district to the community; and need to be nice people.  Her involvement in Anaheim schools included three years as a PTA President, work with school board members, service on numerous committees, art programs, school carnivals, reading programs, growing a PTA board from 4 people to 50 people, sports leagues like NJB and JUSA, directing girls’ softball; she stated she gained knowledge of parliamentary procedure from her group involvement; she has been a real estate agent, managed trust funds, been a notary, been a certified signing agent, a businesswoman, a Field Representative for Assemblyman Chris Norby, and a 12-year St. Jude volunteer.  She stated she would be honored to serve, was motivated to apply on her own and by herself alone, is a good learner, wants to expand mentoring and tutoring programs, and would like to serve as a community resource.
  • Annemarie Randle-Trejo (D-Anaheim): She noted her body of work from volunteering and being inclusive of diversity, her goal of collaborating with feeder districts, and her career as a behavior intervention specialist. She believes the board makes policy, everything goes through the board, and board members should show the public an understanding of the classroom and of parents.  She believes board members should understand students, should understand that those students are diverse and not carbon copies, should encourage the “staff team” in handling the school district during the state budget crisis, should provide more career technical education pathways, and should be “expanding our 21st century education for those who will go to college.”  Her AUHSD experience includes school site council, the accreditation committee, PTA, being president of Oxford Academy, the District Advisory Council, the “education coalition,” and the CAHSEE Advisory Council; she claimed her PTA experience helped her understand parents, teachers, and administrators. Inexplicably, she then had to reach for her notes (!) because she couldn’t remember everything she had done and found that she had been part of the John F. Kennedy High School Arts Foundation and band boosters.  She stated she was nervous because of the post’s importance, wanted the board to appoint the best fit, and then stated the board should appoint “someone who looks like 65% of our students” and that the board needed to appoint her as she would be the “missing voice of parents” on the board.
  • Greg Domene (D-Anaheim): He stated he was motivated to carry on Jan Domene’s work, his family was always involved with AUHSD, he was in PTA whenever Jan was, he was Little League President, he worked closely with Jan, he has technical expertise.  He stated the board sets policy, sets the tone, represents students and parents to administrators, and serves as “architects” of the district with the staff as the “general contractor.”  His involvement in AUHSD includes attending those schools for six years, having children who attended those schools, being involved in his kids’ sports and student government experience, providing on-campus help, and attending the national PTA board with his late wife, Jan Domene.  He stated he wanted to “carry forth my wife’s works” and “ensure that kids have a good education.”
  • Art Montez (D-Buena Park): He stated that there was racially segregated housing and segregated education in the 1960s, and today the problem is institutionalized.  He noted AUHSD is 70% minority.  He stated he had worked for 40 years in education, worked on the census, spent 12 years as a Centralia School District board member, and is the father of AUHSD graduates.  He stated the school board controls a small percentage of the budget, and half of students do not speak English.  He made reference to immigration issues and the controversial appointment of Harald Martin to the AUHSD board the last time there was a vacancy (due to the untimely passing of Denise Mansfield-Reinking in 2007).  He stated health and safety of children is the primary responsibility of the school district and “education is secondary.”  He said board members should be patient, good listenters, able to ask hard questions, understand what the community faces, and work with strained staff and the board.  His previous involvement included his kids being at Savanna High School, setting up Americorps under Bill Clinton at Savanna, and serving on SELPA at Centralia.  He noted his passion and experience, knowledge of how the Education Code and school financing works, his familiarity with the political and legislative processes, and his work on redistricting.
  • Forrest Turpen (R-Anaheim): He stated he applied for the board in a “weak moment,” has been involved in education his entire life, and wants to invest in the lives of boys and girls to build young men and women for the future of Anaheim and America.  He believes a board member should represent the community while working wih superintendent and administration.  He stated a good board members should be good at bringing consensus to staff and board members and should go to community events to represent the board.  He stated his involvement in AUHSD is that he has lived in the community for 7.5 years, lives near Savanna High School, and has driven by the district headquarters.  He stated he understands school ssytems, is sensitive to needs of different parts of the school district, was involved in the Illinois Principals’ Association, and when he walks into a building or classroom, he knows what’s going on.
  • Dominic Daddario (R-Anaheim): He stated he was a product of Catholic schools and “what I learned has done me real well.”  He believes board members should make sure each student has the opportunity to learn because people learn different ways.  He stated board members should be listeners, as listening is the top priority.  His AUHSD involvement was that his kids went through AUHSD, one son was a two-sport athlete while the other was involved in music, he supported his sons’ activities, and he joined the Santa Ana Elks Lodge (huh?).  He believes the board has a “great opportunity” to open alternative education paths, and AUHSD needs to train plumbers, electricians, carpenters, auto mechanics, and “photo printers, who will be in greater demand in our increasingly digital world.”
  • Ken Jenks (R-Buena Park): He stated he was not sure of the role of a board member, and “guess it’s policymaking,” but should include advocating for kids.  He stated board members should communicate well and work on a team.  His involvement in AUHSD included being a 20-year resident; all five of his children graduated from Cypress High School, including two ASB Presidents, music, and sports; he was involved in Boy Scouts, was a PTA PResident, and volunteered with grad night, boosters, and bingo.  He believes a “feeling of belonginess” is important and that funding programs and clubs like arts, music, and ASB ensures the “feeling of belonginess.”

The applicants include 7 Republicans, 4 Democrats, and 2 people registered as No Party Preference (known as Decline-to-State in pre-Prop 14 parlance).

They include 8 Anaheimers, 4 Buena Parkers, and 1 La Palman.

AUHSD includes the entirety of the City of Cypress, along with portions of Anaheim, Buena Park, La Palma and Stanton.  AUHSD includes grades 7-12, with K-6 education provided by the Anaheim City School District, Centralia School District, Cypress School District, Magnolia School District, and Savanna School District.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I should note my day job is working in the Fullerton office of Assemblyman Chris Norby.  Consequently, one of my co-workers is Jackie Filbeck, who is one of the candidates for the AUHSD seat.)

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