Secondary school board candidates answer questions about local issues

Every Fullerton Joint Union High School District Board nominee was invited to participate in this traditional function to help residents get to know the nominees better. Below are the candidates vying for Trust Zone 4 and their answers to our questions.

FJUHSD candidates from left to right: Lauren Klatzker and Matthew Van Hook.

FJUHSD fiduciary areas displayed in colors.

What motivated you to run for the school board? What strengths/experience will you bring to the school board if elected?

Lauren Klatzker: Continue to lead the county as a destination district by ensuring academic excellence and supporting the development of innovative classes/programs. My more than 18 years of experience as a public school special education teacher, counselor, administrator, and coordinator strengthens my ability and commitment to quality public schools in service to the FJUHSD community.

Matthew Van Hook: I was asked to run to improve citizen representation and parent responsiveness on the council. After more than twenty years of military service as an officer and teacher at the Air Force Academy, I have accepted this call to civic duty. Leading people, managing resources and developing programs are some of my many strengths.

What are the strengths of the neighborhood? Where do you think the district can do better?

Lauren Klatzker: FJUHSD is a destination district due to unique programs across all schools. We cater to the interests and needs of diverse students and provide college and career readiness, as evidenced by high graduation rates. The provision of strategic and data-driven interventions to address learning gaps in specific groups of students is underway.

Matthew Van Hook: Most teachers and administrators demonstrate a strong commitment to student success despite a difficult student-teacher ratio. Similarly, we have clear leadership from our superintendent. Yet in preparing the entire student body for the paths they have chosen, whether that be four-year university, community college, or vocational training, we still have a lot of work to do. to do.

What is your view of charter schools?

Lauren Klatzker: Public schools are the cornerstones of the community and serve all students, regardless of their needs. Charters pick and choose their students. Charters are not required to hire accredited/qualified teachers or teach a standards-based curriculum. Charters add nothing to our community and benefit students for those who lead them.

Matthew Van Hook: If parents and local citizens were better represented by school boards, we wouldn’t have a national push for charter schools. Instead of spending time figuring out how to crush charter school proposals, school boards should examine why current public schools are failing to meet public needs and standards.

How do you see the role of a board member?

Lauren Klatzker: Council members work as a team to set the vision and direction for the district. They provide priorities/directives for the district administrative team and guidelines for financial management. The board represents and serves the community and is always available to hear from community members with questions or concerns.

Matthew Van Hook: Council members represent the citizens of the local community. They have a duty to exercise oversight on behalf of the public and ensure that local schools meet the needs for which they were built. The rise of professionalized and bureaucratized boards, once an aberration, has become the norm. This must change.

How will you communicate with the community and get their continued input?

Lauren Klatzker: People are welcome to come to board meetings to speak during public comments and language support is available. Board members are available by phone or email. Community input is encouraged through committees, surveys, family liaisons, PTSAs, meetings with principals, review of proposed educational materials, and numerous booster clubs.

Matthew Van Hook: I will work to restore transparency and the integration of public citizens within the board of directors of the FJUHSD. I will use all legally available means to communicate with the community. Where inappropriate rules of engagement have crept into council procedures over time, I will propose serious and stable measures for reform.

What is the role of the board in supporting diversity (religious, ethnic, sexual oriented) student population of the district?

Lauren Klatzker: Students need to feel safe and supported. We encourage special interest clubs and provide safe spaces and counseling for students in crisis. Interpretation/translation services are available for district meetings, communications and parent/community committees. FJUHSD provides an inclusive learning environment for all students, including people with disabilities and English language learners.

Matthew Van Hook: Divisive efforts to draw lines between students, treating them as mere members of a group rather than as individual human beings with dignity and natural rights, threaten almost every positive aspect of education. Without an immediate reversal of this trend, the council cannot truly support our diverse population.

What does the board/administration have to say about what is taught in class? How much freedom should a teacher have to determine what is taught in class?

Lauren Klatzker: FJUHSD adheres to state standards for instruction and best practices. All programs are vetted by teams of teachers and the community before adoption. New courses are developed by teachers and begin as pilots so that adaptations can be made before implementation. The board then acts on these recommendations.

Matthew Van Hook: Schools and teachers have no independent authority to teach what they want. They are accountable to the citizens whose taxes fund these schools and who rightly expect representation and a fair electoral process. Councils have a duty to oversee the program and determine its suitability for the citizens of the local community.

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