The Chula Vista Elementary School District board has long been viewed as a closed system. Trustees have often been appointed first, elected later; other seats appear to be an inheritance.
On October 23, San Diego County supervisor Greg Cox made a robo-call endorsing another candidate that hopes to step into a parent’s shoes — Joshua Smith. Smith’s mother is outgoing trustee Pamela Smith, who has served on the board since 1994.
According to the district website, Pamela Smith is an employee of the County of San Diego; she “was the former District Manager of the Social Security Administration in Chula Vista, and is now the Director of Aging and Independence Services for San Diego County.”
Joshua Smith works for the County of San Diego as well. Smith’s ballot statement says he has a master’s in public health, a PhD in epidemiology and states he is a “current public health professional.”
La Prensa, a weekly newspaper, had this to say about seat five candidate Smith:
“Joshua Smith…is the son of the outgoing board member Pamela Smith and this candidacy appears as nothing more than a continuation of the Smith name and legacy on the board. Beyond the endorsements of the present elementary school board members he does not list any. He does not list any community involvement. What he does list is his commitment to charter schools, which we believe is contrary to someone who is running to represent PUBLIC education. Charter schools take money away from public education and hands it over to private enterprise whose bottom line is to make a profit.”
According to the Chula Vista elementary district website, 15 percent of the elementary-school students are already enrolled in charter schools. Also, the operational budget for non-charter schools is $186,419,259 while the charter school budget is $34,749,538.
Kristin Phatak, who has been vocal in the elementary school district against the implementation of Common Core standards, attended a candidates' forum on October 21 that included Joshua Smith.
"[He] said that he is a huge proponent of charter schools and that the school board shouldn't ‘meddle’ in what goes on in the classroom. He kept repeating ‘I am an independent thinker.'… Whether they admit it or not, the school board meddles with every wrong-headed decision they make.”
There are three seats up for re-election in the Chula Vista elementary district; the other two trustees will be up for re-election in 2016.
Melissa Bejarano was elected to the elementary board November 12, 2012, when her father, David Bejarano stepped down. David Bejarano is the Chula Vista chief of police and was first appointed to the district seat when it was vacated by mayor Cheryl Cox in 2007.
Glendora Tremper was appointed to the board in April 2012 and later in the year elected to the position.
Prior to being appointed to the board, in 2010, Tremper was on the selection committee for Chula Vista elementary superintendent Francisco Escobedo. She was his former employee when Escobedo was assistant superintendent of South Bay Union High School District.
According to the district, Tremper currently works as the lead Language-Speech and Hearing (LSH) specialist for River Springs Charter School in Temecula and “is the parent of an eighth grade student at Bayfront Mueller Charter High School.”
Disclosure: The author’s daughter is a teacher in the Chula Vista Elementary School District and is a member of the Chula Vista Educators bargaining team.