Candidates Vie for School Board Seats

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The State Board of Education (SBOE) is responsible for advising the State Superintendent of Education on educational matters including: state standards; state policies, including those governing special, academic, vocational, charter and other schools; state objectives; and state regulations proposed by the Mayor or the Superintendent. The SBOE is also responsible for approving: academic standards and high school graduation requirements. The board establishes definitions for adequate yearly progress and academic proficiency for all educational agencies. It also sets standards for “highly qualified teachers” and supplemental education providers. Other responsibilities include policies for parental involvement, residency verification, attendance requirements and home schooling.

The SBOE is composed of elected, nonpartisan representatives from all eight wards and one at-large member. It holds public meetings twice a month, and each member receives an annual stipend of $15,000. Members serve four-year terms, and elections are staggered so that no more than five members are elected in any particular cycle. This year, there are six candidates running for the one At-Large seat in the Nov. 3 General Election. There are four candidates for Ward 7 seat and three for the Ward 8 seat.

At-Large Candidates

Jacque Patterson

Jacque Patterson is a former ANC Commissioner and was selected as Capital City Fellow under Mayor Anthony A. Williams. He previously served on the Chancellor’s Parent Cabinet, was appointed to the State Board of Education’s Every Student Succeeds Act Task Force, and currently sits on the Local School Advisory Team (LSAT) of his children’s school. Patterson has lived in the District for more than 25 years and is a long-time community activist. Patterson believes a student’s zip code should not determine the quality of the education students receive. He is focused on elevating community voices within the schools, increasing resource equity, improving teacher retention and dismantling racism both in policy and in practice. Learn more at www.jacque4dc.com.

Mysiki Valentine

Mysiki Valentine is a native Washingtonian, teacher and mentor. Valentine previously served as a volunteer teacher with Americorps but left the classroom to pursue change in education policy. Valentine has worked for the DC Council as an Advocacy Manager for the Fair Budget Coalition to ensure that the DC budget achieves racial and economic equity. He also serves as board member for Many Languages One Voice (MLOV), supporting efforts to empower the vibrant immigrant community. Currently, Valentine serves as a mentor and raises awareness for LGBTQ and communities of color. Valentine believes that DC’s education system must afford residents learning opportunities, invest in the development of educators, make schools more transparent and accountable, address the chronic underfunding of schools in Wards 7 and 8 and put an end to the racist policies and practices responsible for the achievement gap. Valentine advocates the full funding of the Birth-to-Three Act and making the University of the District of Columbia System tuition-free for DC residents. Learn more at www.valentinefordc.com.

Ravi Perry

Ravi Perry is the son of Ohio educators and has dedicated his life to serving in the field of education. Perry is an urban policy expert and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Howard University. A Ward 7 resident, Perry strongly supports greater investment in vocational and trade skills development. He believes that special attention should be paid to disabled students and English language learners. Perry believes that education is under attack and that the White House is “occupied by an ideology that is against education” which inspired him to run in this election cycle. Learn more about Perry and his platform at raviperry4dc.com.

Chris Martin

Chris Martin is an entrepreneur looking to bring a fresh perspective to the state school board. As the father of three young children, Martin believes in the need for parent voices on the board. Martin hopes to close the District’s achievement gap through use of his experience in business while giving parents peace of mind and supporting educators. Martin is also focused on listening to parental concerns about equity, school quality, curriculum and overcrowding. Learn more at chris4education.com.

Le’Troy Murphy

Le’Troy Murphy is a native Washingtonian and a graduate of the DC public schools. He is also a parent of a child currently enrolled in DCPS. Murphy plans to focus on early childhood education and teacher retention. He believes the teachers deserve to earn a livable wage. He hopes to give a voice to lower income citizens. Murphy has chosen not to accept outside donations for his campaign and does not have a website.

Dorothy Douglas

Dorothy Douglas is a single mother of three, grandmother of seven and an outspoken voice for Wards 6, 7, and 8 for more than 30 years. Douglas is a former DC public school educator who has been involved with a variety of community education efforts including assisting in fundraising more than one million dollars for the construction of Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Douglas was the first black woman to be the Ward 7 representative for the DC State Board of Education where she participated in efforts to enhance standards of curriculum and to support the transitional infrastructure from classroom to workplace. Douglas is running to ensure that her community in Ward 7 receives its fair share of recognition and resources to secure members’ needs being met. Learn more at electdorothydouglas.wordpress.com.

Ward 7 Candidates

Karen Williams

Karen Williams is the current Ward 7 incumbent and is running for reelection. Williams is a fifth generation Washingtonian who attended and taught in the DC public schools. She has served on the State Board of Education for several years and her legislative work on the State Board includes collaborating with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. She served as both president and vice president of the Board and has worked extensively on the development of the “No Child Left Behind” waivers and graduation requirements, with the Board on credit flexibility regulations and the development of the State Diploma for students completing the General Education Development  or National External Diploma Program programs. Learn more at karenwilliams.vote.

Dontrell Smith

Dontrell Smith is a native Washingtonian, a parent and DC public school and Howard University graduate.  Smith works for the federal government as a program manager reviewing internal controls for over 15 departmental organizations to ensure they follow the policy established by the government. He is also a former ANC Commissioner for Ward 7 where he also served as the treasurer. In his personal time, Smith has served as a substitute teacher for DCPS. Smith promises to monitor funding for Ward 7 schools to ensure adequacy of class instruction, strong curriculum, core competencies, adequate staffing and wrap-around services. He plans to coordinate with parent and teacher organizations to improve student outcomes. Smith wants to re-establish feeder patterns in the direction of STEM, finance, arts and culture, vocational training, and business to coordinate elementary and middle school curriculum progression to high school. Learn more at www.DontrellForward7.com.

Charles Boston

Charles Boston is an alumnus of Anne Beers Elementary School, the University of Maryland, and Georgetown University. He works as an engineer professionally and has experience in trade instruction for transportation and construction as well as school administration. Boston is a dedicated youth advocate and engaged coach. He volunteers with the Young Marines, First Lego League, National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), USA BMX, USA Cycling, and Selective Service. With two children in the public schools, he promises to be the “voice” of students, parents, and teachers in the SBOE. Boston aims to improve education systems east of the river Learn more at www.charlesforsboe.com.  

Eboni-Rose Thompson

Eboni-Rose Thompson has chaired the Ward 7 Education Council since 2012. Thompson attended both DC public and charter schools and received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania. She served three terms as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and is currently a portfolio manager at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. Thompson wants to ensure that Ward 7 youngsters have the same opportunities she did. On the State Board, she plans to focus on high school graduation requirements, academic standards and on ensuring children have adequate academics. Thompson plans to expand both the quality and quantity of the programs offered at DC public schools and improve transparency in budgeting and decision making. Learn more at ebonirosedc.com.

Ward 8

Carlene Reid

Carlene Reid is a special educator with more than 15 years of experience at the local, state and national level. Previously, Reid served as the preschool special education coordinator in the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education. In that role, she created training on inclusive practices for early childhood providers including child care, traditional and charter public schools and DCPS. Carlene also has developed policy and created monitoring systems designed to protect the rights of children with delays and disabilities. Currently, she manages a portfolio of over $30 million in personnel preparation grants for institutions of higher education. Reid is running to continue the advocacy for equity in funding technology, educational programs, and innovative curriculum for students in Ward 8. Learn more at letsreid.com.

LaJoy Johnson-Law

LaJoy Johnson-Law is a parent support specialist for Advocates for Justice and Education. Holder of a master’s in Public Administration and parent, she serves the Ward 8 representative on the Thrive by Five Coordinating Council, co-chairs the Ward 8 Democrats’ committee on legislative affairs and is a member of the Ward 8 Education Council. “Advocacy is not just a part of my community work, but it is also a critical part of my career,” she states. If elected, Johnson-Law plans to champion an expansion in SBOE policy efforts related to special education, transparency, accountability, mental health and family engagement. She is particularly concerned with the challenges faced by families of color. Learn more about Johnson-Law at www.lajoylaw2020.com.

Ryan Washington (Ward 8) did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

Sarah Payne is a History and Neuroscience student at The University of Michigan interning with the Hill Rag. She writes for and serves as an assistant news editor for Michigan’s student newspaper, The Michigan Daily. You can reach her at sarahp@hillrag.com.