Priscilla Hernandez: Allergic to Obstacles

PUSD parent and School Board candidate drafts bill to assist children with severe food allergies
Published on Oct 8, 2020

Pasadena Unified School District Candidate Priscilla Hernandez, pictured in an undated photo. Courtesy photo

District Six school board member candidate and PUSD parent Priscilla Hernandez likes to see things get done.

Her son, Zacky, 7, diagnosed with severe food allergies and even transported by ambulance twice to the hospital, last year, as a result of an anaphylactic episode. The incidents put her in what she described as “a whole different level of a parent understanding.”

“I thought, ‘What’s going on here? How did this happen? How can we make improvements?’” she said in a recent interview.

As she explained further, she wanted to understand what such a diagnosis could mean for kids who might not have parents who are able to navigate the system.

“With me having a background in nonprofits and working with marginalized groups and often under-represented groups,” she said, “I started really looking at that.”

Hernandez continued, “I started calling different schools, from San Francisco to San Diego, to here, locally. I would ask, ‘What do you have in place for kids like my son, who has severe food allergies. What kind of guidelines do you have in place?’”

She found that there was “no uniformity as far as how each district approached it.”

She felt like that was an issue that needed to be addressed, she said. As a former deputy director for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and having worked directly with legislators and worked on education policy, she sat down and actually drafted a bill for the State Legislature to consider.

Her draft eventually became known as “Zacky’s bill,” specifically, the Zacky Bill AB 3064.

And then came COVID, and the state shut down. The bill will be put on the table once again in 2021, she said.

“This is something that I will follow through to the end,” said Hernandez.

Hernandez added that as a (PUSD) board member, she would take the same kind of advocacy perspective into the boardroom.

“I’m going to ask the questions, I’m going to do my research,” she said. “I might not always come up with the answers, but I’m going to work my hardest to work with others. We can come up with answers together…It’s going to take a whole group. It’s going to take all of us working together and not just within our district, but as a community, a community as a whole.”

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