- NAME: Jennifer LaTosch
- PHONE OR EMAIL WHERE CITIZENS CAN REACH YOU: email@example.com
- Why are you running for School Board?
I remain dedicated and committed to carrying out the goals and objections as outlined in the newly adopted Strategic Plan. Our district has worked tirelessly to become a more equitable and just district. This work is a continuing process and work remains to be done.
- If you have children, do they attend Ferndale Public Schools? Why or why not?
Yes, I have two children who are currently in 9th grade at Ferndale High School. They have been a part of Ferndale Public Schools since they were in Kindergarten.
- What specific experiences have you had that prepare you to serve on the School Board?
I was originally appointed to the School Board of Ferndale Public Schools in early 2014 and then elected to a six-year term in November of 2014. During my time on the board I have served as Trustee, Vice President, President, and now as Treasurer. I have been involved in two (2) strategic planning processes in Ferndale Public Schools, once as a community member and once as a board member. I have been involved with the school district as an active volunteer for the entirety of my children’s enrollment and care about the success of every student, staff member and teacher. In my profession as a family law attorney, I am trained to study difficult problems and work toward an amicable and equitable resolution, within the framework of the law. I believe the combination of my various skills and experiences have all prepared me to confiently serve as a member of the School Board of the Ferndale Public Schools.
- What do you see as the appropriate role of a School Board Member when they disagree with an action of the Superintendent?
A School Board Member is tasked with very specific overriding responsibilities: 1) to set and follow the vision of the district; 2) establish and develop policy to move the district toward that vision; 3) and to designate and evaluate the superintendent. In a healthy board-superintendent relationship, there is a shared vision, open and regular communication and transparency. In the event a Board Member disagrees with an action the Superintendent has taken, it is imperative that the Board Member communicate directly with the Superintendent regarding the disagreement and gather as much information as possible surrounding how any why the decision was made. Ultimately, if the Board Member is not satisfied after engaging in open and thorough communication, the proper role is to address the concern through the prescribed evaluation process.
- How does the district involve citizens in decision making? Please give examples.
Ferndale Public Schools is a district that values and depends upon involvement from everyone – parents, students, staff, teachers, community members, community businesses, etc. The school district just passed its second 5-year strategic plan that was created by a community group after spending several months reviewing, analyzing and considering community feedback from focus groups, surveys, and conversations. Ongoing surveys, community forums, public comment at all meetings, community committees, open dialogue with Board Members and administration, etc., will continue to be utilized in the district decision making.
- Recently the Ferndale School Board passed a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. How have you supported this/intend to support this? How do you approach a commitment to antiracism in the schools?
One big step the district has taken in recent history was the restructuring of our elementary schools. Moving forward, I believe we must address every aspect of our district from an anti-racist lens, from the hiring of teachers and administrators, the review and revision of district policies and procedures, the selection of new curriculum, practice development and training, the oversight of disciplinary measures, etc.
- What are your views on public schools response to the current Covd-19 pandemic? To Ferndale Public Schools’ approach in particular?
I am deeply concerned about the health and safety of our students, staff, and families during this global pandemic. I have been incredibly proud of how Ferndale Public Schools created a virtual learning process that is age-based, provides a solid academic foundation, and yet does not require our kids to sit in front of a computer for eight hours every day. Our teachers and administrators worked tirelessly to create a method of reaching and teaching our students who are at home, and to also create a safe space in our buildings for those students who need a safe and accessible place to learn. While it is clearly everyone’s desire to return to all in-person learning, I have serious reservations on moving too quickly in that direction, without having access to a tested and reliable vaccine.
- What do you see as the biggest concerns for public schools both during and following the Covid-19 pandemic?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I think the biggest concern will be to ensure all of our students are engaged, learning, and progressing. Once we all have access to a reliable vaccine, I anticipate that our biggest hurdles will be to bring all of our students to where they should be academically and also provide the necessary supports for mental health following this unprecedented upheaval. I think the state as a whole must consider all options for providing these necessary academic and emotional supports, such as year-round school, modified school hours (i.e. later start times for secondary students), etc.
- What would you say are the strengths of the district?
Our people, our passion, and our shared desire to support one another while we work to create and maintain a more equitable and just school district for all of our students and our entire school family.
- How would you like to see the district improve?
We must be vigilant in our journey to create a more equitable and just environment for each student. This is crucial to our overall vision and mission, and we cannot waiver in our push to continually improve.