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Pasadena Unified Looks Into Giving a Student a Seat on the School Board

Published on Friday, August 11, 2023 | 12:01 pm
Screenshot of previous PUSD Board Meeting on Aug 3 2023

The Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Board is looking at adding a student to their ranks.

At a meeting earlier this month, the Board discussed a proposal by PUSD’s Think Tank, a student-led initiative that advocates for student representation on the district board.

Established in 2021, the 25-member Think Tank proposes the creation of a council, composed of six students, one junior from each high school, and an assembly, composed of 24 peer-elected students, including the council.

According to the Think Tank’s presentation before the board, the six members of the student council would rotate in attendance of monthly board meetings as the student representative.

They would be responsible for reading monthly board meeting packets, attending assembly meetings and presenting issues the board will be voting on at the assembly.

They are required to cast predetermined preferential votes at PUSD Board meetings.

According to the Think Tank, this system would ensure that the students who will sit at the dais are not casting their vote as an individual but as representatives of the entire student body.

The Think Tank, a separate entity from the assembly, will promote applications at schools, facilitate interview and election processes and conduct training for members of the assembly.

The Think Tank is looking at implementing the system they are proposing, this August, if approved by the Board.

It is planning to start outreach at each campus and the opening of applications by September.

Elections are set by the end of October and by December, the student council members will start to attend board meetings.

Board member Yarma Velásquez said allowing a student member to be part of the board will require discipline and changes within the PUSD board.

“You are young adults but you still need 10-11 hours of sleep so we cannot have last meetings that will last until midnight,” she said.

Board Member Patrick Cahalan remarked it would be better if the assembly were allowed to pick agenda items they would want to vote on.

“One thing you may want to consider in the design for how you handle the assembly votes is you don’t need to come to inclusion on everything on the consent agenda,” said Cahalan. You can pick and choose which items you think are ones that are worthy of the council’s vote.”

Board Member Tina Fredericks lauded the group. “I love that this is so inclusive, I love that you are addressing equity.”

“We can make adjustments. If there is an agenda item we need to move up to accommodate your schedules, we do that,” said Fredericks.

“I’m in. Let’s try it, let’s see what happens,” Board Member Patrice Marshall McKenzie said. “I’m super proud of all of you. I’m super excited to see how this goes and excited to have a student voice on the board.”

Board President Michelle Bailey also lauded the PUSD Think Tank.

“The rotational concept is really good…” she remarked. “You guys have done some phenomenal work here. I applaud you, I applaud your efforts.”

The Board did not vote on the structure proposed by the Think Tank during their meeting. It is unclear when they will vote on the matter.

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