Each Fullerton School Board candidate was invited to participate in this traditional feature to help residents get to know the candidates. Below are the candidates running for Trustee Area 4, and their answers to our questions.
What motivated you to run for school board? What strengths/experience will you bring to the school board if elected?
Rudy Garcia: My motivation and inspiration for running for school board is that I have an awesome 9-year old stepdaughter. I want to make sure that she receives the best education experience while she attends elementary school and Jr high school. I want to see safer schools in our community and stop wasteful spending across the board. I want to use my 25 years plus of experience working for the Fullerton Joint High School District.
Ruthi Hanchett: I’m a child advocate, educator, and mom running to keep our children safe. I’ve developed education policies, led global advocacy teams, and taught thousands in our community to prevent child abuse. As a PTA leader/volunteer and only candidate with children enrolled in Area 4, I have unique connections to students, families, teachers, and our community.
Lisa Wozab: I have a bond with Fullerton Schools. First I, then my son, attended Fullerton schools. That commitment has led to serving numerous committees from Champions for Learning, PTA, LCAP, and Fullerton Education Foundation. These experiences have given me insights and strengths to bring to the school board as a trustee.
What are the District’s strengths? Where do you believe the district can do better?
Rudy Garcia: The District’s strengths are they have amazing teachers and a wonderful classified staff, not to mention a great panel of board members already. All they need is a board member like myself, that knows construction and custodial maintenance. This is where the district could do better by having a diverse member.
Ruthi Hanchett: District Strengths: Responsive leaders and excellent, caring teachers and staff; Innovative programs and choice; Community partnerships; Amazing kids, engaged and diverse families! If elected, I will focus on: Expanding and funding mental health support; Improving safety on campus and online; Addressing disparity in our schools where barriers like economic need, discrimination trauma, and violence may keep our kids from thriving.
Lisa Wozab: The District’s strengths are diverse programming such as: open enrollment, dual language, multiage, homeschooling, GATE, arts and STEAM education, technology innovation/ infrastructure, career exploration pathways, response to intervention, and special education. The District can improve with increased safety procedures, increased mental health/behavioral supports, and literature reflective of all our students.
What is your view of charter schools?
Rudy Garcia: Charter schools have a lot of pros and cons. As your board member I would listen to both sides before making any decisions or comments.
Ruthi Hanchett: Fullerton does not need charter schools. Our families already have choice through open enrollment and our public schools excel with diverse, innovative programs that boast high levels of family involvement. I’m concerned that the OC Board of Education’s move towards privatizing public education through charter schools does not serve all our children well, especially those with special needs.
Lisa Wozab: I believe that public funds should be used primarily for public schools. Fullerton schools are providing a high quality education. Students deserve an excellent education regardless of zip code. Charter schools have been an option to meet the needs of some students in underserved districts as an alternative.
What do you see as the role of a board member?
Rudy Garcia: My role as your board member—I will be a liaison between the school district and the community by listening to the issues that matter to parents, teachers, and students.
Ruthi Hanchett: Listen to stakeholders and help our community focus on what’s best for kids; Set goals and direction for excellence; Hire and assure accountability of the superintendent; Approve Local Control Accountability Plans and Budgets; Monitor performance and student achievement—ensure our kids are growing and learning! Ask good questions and remain focused on outcomes for students.
Lisa Wozab: The role of a board member is setting the goals and district directives, hiring and evaluating the superintendent, and ensuring that the district is following the federal and state laws. The board is to ensure the district is financially solvent, and the board is to represent stakeholders and their voices.
How will you communicate with the community and get their ongoing input?
Rudy Garcia: I will communicate and post on social media and gather the parents’ input, creating the most transparent comprehensive relationship as your board member.
Ruthi Hanchett: Continue as a PTA leader, volunteer, serving on FSD committees, and connecting with my vast network, to listen and represent families; Maintain and grow established relationships with Fullerton NGOs, faith-based communities, city leaders, etc. to ensure we partner well; Use my child-participation expertise to develop an FSD student advisory group/voice.
Lisa Wozab: I will be an engaged Trustee, visiting school sites, interacting with staff, attending district/school events, interacting with parents and community members making myself available to listen while encouraging transparency. Parent engagement is a board goal which is important to me, together we can do amazing things for our students.
What is the Board’s role in supporting the diverse (religious, ethnically, sexually orientated) student population of the district?
Rudy Garcia: As a school district we should respect and support all students, regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation. The District’s job is to teach the standard curriculum to all students, so they could learn and succeed in their education.
Ruthi Hanchett: The Board’s role is to set priorities to ensure every child, family (and staff) feels valued and that they belong. We do this through practical steps, like ensuring our staff and learning materials reflect and center the experiences and contributions of our diverse community, and through a humble, listening approach, focused on addressing barriers and challenges.
Lisa Wozab: The Board’s role is to protect all staff and student populations which it serves, in order to ensure top quality education and their right to learn in a safe and caring environment that is respectful of others, including special education students, and inclusion in the least restrictive environment.
What say does the Board/Administration have in what is taught in the classroom? How much freedom should a teacher have in determining what is taught in the classroom?
Rudy Garcia: The Board has total say of what is being taught in classrooms today; they also have to follow the Ed code selection of text books.
Ruthi Hanchett: Deciding what’s taught in classrooms is a community process that includes the Board (who provide direction and goals), Superintendent and team (who execute the vision and uphold state standards), parents and the community, principals, teachers, and students. Ultimately, we must empower our professional teachers to adapt and choose what works best for their unique class and students.
Lisa Wozab: The Board establishes policies, procedures, and expectations for the teachers to follow. The Board approves curriculum, upholding the law set forth by the state, through standards and frameworks for learning. Teachers can expand learning opportunities within the guidelines, and policies set forth by the board directives.