INGLEWOOD — Nine candidates are competing for four open seats on the Inglewood school board April 7. Seats 1, 3, 4 and 5 will be on the ballot.
Incumbents Rene Talbott and Graciela Patino are both running for Seat 4 and Henry Brown is the incumbent in Seat 5.
All three were appointed to their seats in January by state trustee Don Brann to fill board vacancies.
Challengers Margaret Richards-Bowers and Dionne Young Faulk are seeking Seat 1, and Melody O. Ngaue-Tuuholoaki is running unopposed for Seat 3.
Talbott and Patino are facing challengers Margaret Evans and Darius Leevy for Seat 4 and Brown is being challenged by D’Artagnan Scorza for Seat 5.
Mayor James Butts is viewing the school board election with much interest.
“There needs to be a vision and plan to pay back the loan to the state and [have] local control returned to the citizens of Inglewood,” Butts said about the candidates. “There needs to be a fiscal recovery plan put in place. Currently the [district] continues to run a deficit while ostensibly paying down the state loan, which means the district is using borrowed funds to repay its loan.
“The district has lost approximately 8,000 students over the past decade, yet it operates the same number of schools. There needs to be more emphasis placed on restoring the decaying infrastructure of our schools,” he added.
“And as part of the fiscal recovery plan, there has to be a consolidation of some of the school sites, meaning, we have to consider consolidating the two high schools. Neither one has the right amount of students to fill one school up to capacity.
“The sale of surplus property to pay back the state loan and return the IUSD to local control must happen,” Butts said.
Brown has been an Inglewood resident for more than 30 years. He is the chair of the MLK Celebration Committee and a longtime community volunteer.
Patino is a former deputy sheriff, a deputy probation officer and an educator.
Faulk is a supervising special investigator for the state Department of Consumer Affairs. She has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Cal State Dominguez Hills and a law degree from the University of West Los Angeles School of Law. She brings an investigative and legal background to the board.
Talbot is a 30-year veteran of the Santa Monica Police Department as a police reserve and youth services officer. He serves as a school liaison with the Santa Monica Unified School District.
Scorza worked for the district under state Administrator Kent Taylor, who was the first special trustee after the district was taken over by the state in 2012. After he was dismissed by the state, he filed a grievance claim against interim state Administrator LaTanya Kirk-Carter, which was later withdrawn.
Seat 1 candidate Richards-Bowers said she is running for the school board “to assure that every child is provided with exceptional academics and great support services. I am the candidate with the leadership skills, history of advocacy and the commitment to improve the standards of education in the IUSD.”
She was recently endorsed by New Frontier Democratic Club.
Evans, a candidate for Seat 4, says she is the only candidate with more than 30 years of education experience. She has been endorsed by retired Congresswoman Diane Watson.
Leevy, also a candidate for Board Seat 4 said, “I care about the future of Inglewood’s children and I am running for a seat on the Inglewood school board because I believe our schools are in desperate need of some new energy and some new ideas. The long term prosperity of our community rest on ensuring that every child in our community is offered a pathway to academic success, and it’s time we made our schools a priority.”