School Committee Candidates

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Who are you and why are you running?

I’m a father of two NPS students, a husband, and a Natick resident for over 11 years. I’m running because education is my professional and personal passion, and because I care about our students and our community. Professionally, I have a Doctorate in Education and more than two decades of experience applying research to improve educational practice and policy. I consult school districts across the country on implementing effective systems to promote students’ academic and social-emotional growth. On a personal level, I served our town through the Natick Education Foundation, Natick Soccer, and chairing the Special Education Parent Advisory Council. I seek re-election to continue to contribute my professional and personal experiences to strengthen our schools.

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What do you think the role of a School Committee member is and how do you plan to improve Natick in this capacity?

The role of SC is to represent our community’s values and priorities in decisions we make within our legal purview: hire and supervise the superintendent, review and approve the budget, and establish the district’s goals and policies. As a SC member I am guided by two responsibilities: our responsibility to provide our students the best educational instruction, supports, and services; and our fiduciary responsibility to every Natick resident to invest our town resources effectively. I fulfill these responsibilities by bringing my professional lens to promote educational excellence, including ensuring our schools are prepared to support students’ social- emotional needs through the pandemic and the transition back to school. I will also continue to bring my inclusion and equity lens, as a proud immigrant and a parent of a child with special needs, so that the interests of ALL students are considered in every decision we make.

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Fun fact: What is your favorite book?

Englander’s Ministry of Special Cases is a favorite as it is beautifully written and connects to my Argentinean roots. Last summer, I was inspired by late Rep. Lewis’ account of the Civil Rights Movement in Across that Bridge.

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What is your explanation/understanding of inclusion and what do you think NPS can do to increase inclusive practices?

Inclusion in education means creating an environment where every member of the school community is welcomed, valued, and supported, regardless of who they are and what they are able to do. Inclusion goes hand in hand with equity—everyone gets what they need to be successful. Achieving inclusion and equity requires that all members of the school community do their part to create an inclusive environment, and that all appreciate the benefits of inclusion to the entire community—not just to those who have been previously excluded. Advocating for inclusion and equity has become a personal mission of mine as a parent with a child with special needs. I have personally experienced the pain and tears of seeing my daughter made to feel like she doesn’t belong. That is what inspired me to bring the cause of inclusion to my professional work, for example writing a paper about how to address cyberbullying among youth with disabilities (https://tinyurl.com/579xmzam). This work was featured on WGBH (https://tinyurl.com/yf5gybkr). I also participated in an international expert panel on inclusion for people with disabilities in the digital age (https://tinyurl.com/ymjq7ctk).



If re-elected, I will continue to advocate for inclusion by pushing for a K-12 framework for teaching specific social and emotional skills associated with inclusion through different academic subjects (literacy, history, social studies, civic education, world languages, etc.). Furthermore, I have and will continue to advocate for promoting the concept of the active bystander through education: all students should understand what their role is when they witness micro-aggressions, bullying, and other exclusionary behaviors. Lastly, I will continue to advocate for inclusionary practices in the sphere of special education, such as co-taught classes—while cautioning that inclusionary practices should be carefully considered by the entire IEP team (including parents) to prevent unintended consequences.

Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC)

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If a parent approached you with a concern about special education in Natick and claimed it was a systemic problem, what would you do?

I would carefully listen to their concern and determine what is the best plan of action. I would also relate as a fellow parent of a child with special needs. After just a few years into my family’s journey through special education I, too, concluded that many of the struggles we were facing were not unique to my daughter or to my family. The issues were part of systemic problems at both the district and state level. That is why I chose to join SEPAC and eventually chair its board; it is why I took on the role of co-chair of the MA Department of Education’s (DESE) Special Education Advisory Council (a role I continue to hold); and it is one of the reasons I chose to run for School Committee. I am proud of the track record I have in working to address systemic challenges related to special education including: advising DESE on the new guidance document they are soon to release about dyslexia, improving the process by which NPS collects input from parents after IEP meetings, and advocating for special education supports and services during the current pandemic. If a parent shared a concern related to a systemic problem, I would use the various channels at my disposal to figure out, first, if the problem is indeed systemic, and second, if so how to work with the right people both in Natick and at DESE to address it.

Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC)

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Please cite one specific concern about special education in Natick that you are aware of and how you would advance it if elected.

The most frustrating challenge I keep hearing from parents is the amount of time and effort it takes to have the district recognize students’ disabilities. Too many parents have talked about detecting their children’s disabilities relatively early—be it autism, dyslexia, ADHD, or other learning disabilities—only to have district representatives delay their recognition of these disabilities, needlessly extending the wait time for the child to receive the necessary supports. Though I know we are making progress in this area as a district, it continues to be a critical challenge. Regardless of the disability, early identification and support leads to better long-term outcomes. Part of the solution is better detection tools, which social scientists are slowly achieving (e.g., better screeners for autism, dyslexia, ADHD, etc.). The other part is better communication and trust between parents and district staff. I will continue to advocate for better communication as a School Committee member.

Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC)

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What are your thoughts on using ClearGov for budgeting and reporting fiscal and educational performance?

All candidates received this question on 2/7/21. This candidate did not respond.

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Knowing that there will be compromises, what do you consider the highest priority new positions and programs outlined in the preliminary FY22 budget?

All candidates received this question on 2/7/21. This candidate did not respond.

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Research shows that NPS teachers are paid less than those in peer districts. What is your perspective on teacher pay and how will you, as a School Committee Member, advocate for teachers?

All candidates received this question on 2/7/21. This candidate did not respond.

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What is your perspective on the concept of a parent engagement center and what data would you use to evaluate such an investment?

All candidates received this question on 2/7/21. This candidate did not respond directly, but answered a similar question at the PTO forum at minute 20:00 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJA35fc52Ls&t=2s)

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How will you personally work to address student concerns regarding equity and inclusion at NPS?

All candidates received this question on 2/7/21. This candidate did not respond.

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What are the most crucial pieces of data that will inform your vote on whether to send kids back to school full-time, and do you regard this as a decision that is district-wide or can different solutions be considered at the elementary, middle and high school levels?

All candidates received this question on 2/7/21. This candidate did not respond.

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The amount of ELL children and families is increasing every year in the Natick Schools, how do you think the school district can get prepared to support those families in the short, medium and long term?

Question submitted to all candidates on 2/28/21. This candidate did not respond directly, but answered a similar question at the PTO forum at minute 41:20 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJA35fc52Ls&t=2s)

English Language Learner Parent Advisory Council (ELLPAC)

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What are your goals to improve the educational experience for multilingual students?

Question submitted to all candidates on 2/28/21.

English Language Learner Parent Advisory Council (ELLPAC)

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What are your ideas to get more engagement to the community from the ELL families?

Question submitted to all candidates on 2/28/21.

English Language Learner Parent Advisory Council (ELLPAC)

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Would you support a study or examination of the need for a police presence in Natick Schools? There seems to be a national trend towards a police-free schools movement, which seeks to shift schools’ disciplinary cultures away from control and punishment and towards a more supportive model.

Question submitted to all candidates on 2/28/21.

Natick Resident

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In the past year, youth movements such as Fridays for Future, Climate Strike, Sunrise Movement have engaged many young people who are concerned about the impact the climate crisis will have on their future. How do you think the School Committee should engage with students on this issue and what could the School Committee and the School Administration do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage waste-reduction in our school buildings and throughout our school system?

Question submitted to all candidates on 2/28/21.

350 MetroWest

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What is your track record on environmental sustainability, including any related interests, experience, or initiatives?

Question submitted to all candidates on 2/28/21.

350 MetroWest

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Many local communities are now requiring environmental education in their curriculum, including time spent outdoors studying nature. Studies have shown a correlation between time spent outdoors and lower student anxiety and stress. Do you think environmental education should be expanded in Natick schools and if so, how would you go about advocating for such programs? What other ideas do you have for engaging students in environmental programming through the curriculum?

Question submitted to all candidates on 2/28/21.

350 MetroWest

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