PTA Candidates Forum Moves Ahead While Dunn Voices Objection to Chen Absence

Conejo Council PTA Candidate Forum Panel

(Thousand Oaks, Ca) The Conejo Council PTA held its Conejo Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) Candidates Forum on Saturday, September 15 with one less candidate on the stage. Incumbent, Mike Dunn, voiced his frustration (Click here to see the video) and dissent that Dr. Amy Chen was not allowed to participate after not having received the certified invitation even though she voiced her interest to participate during public comments at the September 4 CVUSD board meeting.

The forum began with candidates walking on stage. This included Mike Dunn, Cindy Goldberg, Patrissha Booker, Angie Simpson, Bill Gorback, Marlon Williams, and Shannon Diffner stepped in to read the opening statement for Jennifer Fitzgerald who was not able to attend.

The candidates were able to share an opening statement and a closing statement and were each asked to answer audience questions. They were given 1 minute each. All candidates were allowed to answer each question. For each question, the moderator, Justine Fischer (former California PTA President), selected a different order.

In total, the candidates answered 14 questions from the audience. The forum began at 10am and completed at noon.

The candidate forum questions were (some are paraphrased):

  • What do you believe is the number 1 challenge facing CVUSD and if you were elected what would you do about it?
  • The Local Control Funding Formula requires parent engagement. In the past, CVUSD has had limited parent input. How would you engage parents for the Local Control Accountability Plan process?
  • What areas of the schools need the most improvement and how would you facilitate this improvement?
  • What will you do to encourage a positive, cooperative environment for board members?
  • Do you have a set of criteria for where board policy stops and teacher practice start? If so, what are they?
  • In speaking w several teachers around the district, morale is low. If elected, what would you do to address this?
  • What is the biggest area of concern for CVUSD quality of education? What would you do to improve it?
  • What is your perspective on how parents should decide to expose to sensitive topics? Is it their choice or should it be controlled by teacher experience?
  • In my experience over 20 years, parents could always opt out. Why was this policy needed?
  • Is human sexuality education in our district adequate?
  • How would you increase the student voice in the district?
  • If elected are you committed to get training in your role as a trustee?
  • What are the solutions to declining enrollment in CVUSD?
  • Do you support the new next generations science standards? How would you support them?
  • How do you propose leveling the elementary schools so the non-labeled schools don’t lose enrollment and are able to stay open?
  • Trauma impacts many students and families. What do you believe needs to happen to address mental health needs of students?

After the forum, the crowd buzzed with discussions of the candidates’ performances.

“I don’t think any of the candidates won any new votes. If you came in supporting one person or a few people, it probably didn’t change,” shared one attendee. “But I was impressed with Patrissha and Marlon. I really liked Patrissha’s comments.”

As attendees took to social media for days following the event, commenters used the hashtags #VoteTOaks and #TheConejoWay.  With multiple reporters and media outlets covering the event, the fodder lasted for the week.


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