School Board Candidates Address Equity and Diversity

Seven+of+the+eight+candidates+gathered+for+the+forum+held+in+the+high+school+community+room+on+Oct.+22.+Megan+Walsh+Skyped+in+from+Washington%2C+D.C.
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School Board Candidates Address Equity and Diversity

Seven of the eight candidates gathered for the forum held in the high school community room on Oct. 22. Megan Walsh Skyped in from Washington, D.C.

Seven of the eight candidates gathered for the forum held in the high school community room on Oct. 22. Megan Walsh Skyped in from Washington, D.C.

Joe Spero

Seven of the eight candidates gathered for the forum held in the high school community room on Oct. 22. Megan Walsh Skyped in from Washington, D.C.

Joe Spero

Joe Spero

Seven of the eight candidates gathered for the forum held in the high school community room on Oct. 22. Megan Walsh Skyped in from Washington, D.C.

The race for Beachwood Board of Education is unusually intense this year, with five candidates running for two four-year seats and three candidates running for one two-year seat.

The four-year seats are full terms to fill incumbent Josh Mintz’s expired seat as well as that of Megan Walsh.

The winner of the two-year race will serve the remainder of the term vacated by Jamie Elwell.

Diversity Matters presented a School Board Candidates Forum on Oct. 22 hosted by Darrielle Snipes of WVIZ.

At the beginning of the forum, the candidates introduced themselves.

Megan Walsh skyped in from Washington D.C., where she was attending the National Healthy Start Association Conference. Walsh is a graduate of Indiana University, where she earned a degree in psychology. Walsh works as Deputy Project Director at MomsFirst, an organization that provides support to pregnant women in the City of Cleveland.

Walsh is proud to be participating in the National Healthy Start Association Conference.

“There are so many parts of my job that I really love, but this opportunity to be in D.C., to learn from national experts, and to network is truly amazing,” she said.

Walsh was appointed to the Board of Education in January to replace Steve Rosen. She is now running for a four-year term.

We need to have bias training with our staff. Our teachers, staff and curriculum should represent the culture of our students.”

— Megan Walsh

Josh Mintz has been on the school board for eight years. He currently has an eighth-grader in the district. Mintz is the incumbent with the most experience on the School Board.

Mintz attended Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida and received a Bachelor’s Degree in education. 

“Teachers go above and beyond for our kids,” he said. “I want to continue that for another four years.” 

Mintz is running for the four-year term.

We brought in a consultant to create this plan [to address the achievement gap] with not just the board, but with the community. We had students and teachers, and it was a long but necessary process.”

— Josh Mintz

Jillian DeLong has two children currently attending Bryden. 

She emphasized her community involvement 

“You see me at the park and at the pool; I am involved,” she said. 

“I am not coming to the board with bias,” she added.

DeLong works at Cuyahoga Community College as Manager of College Assets.

“A strong school equals a strong community,” she said. 

DeLong is running for the two-year term.

I am not coming to the board with bias.”

— Jillian DeLong

Dawann Gray graduated from BHS in 1993. 

He received a full ride scholarship to play football at the University of Akron. After college, Gray returned to Beachwood to start a family. 

His son is currently a BHS senior, and his daughter is currently in 8th grade at BMS. Gray has started a tutoring program for ineligible student athletes. 

“I have taken volunteers, and worked with them, and I have proven track record of success.” 

Gray is running for the four-year term.

I took it upon myself to say enough is enough. I took about 15 kids who were on the academic border, I gathered the resources that I had, took them to my mom’s basement, got some volunteer tutors, and I believed.”

— Dawann Gray

Marla Hart emphasized her educational experience. She has a Bachelors of Science in education from Cornell University. She has had two children go through the Beachwood School District graduating in the classes of 1993 and 1994. 

“I am running for this school board seat because I am passionate about education,” she said. 

“It is my way of giving back to my community who gave me and my children so much,” she added.

Hart is running for the two-year term.

We have a lot of money in Beachwood. We have enough to achieve the goals that we set. We can achieve more with what we have. We know our kids can do better, and we have the funds to do it.”

— Marla Hart

Kareen Caputo is an immigrant from France. She has been a U.S. citizen for 19 years. 

Caputo has three sons who graduated from BHS. 

She holds degrees from the University of Grenoble and the University of Lumieres in France. 

When she moved to the United States, Caputo worked at Belfaire, helping families in the Cleveland area. 

“I am qualified because of my experience,” she said.

Caputo is running for the four-year term. 

I am qualified because of my experience.”

— Kareen Caputo

Richard Loeb emphasized Beachwood’s potential. 

He set forth a vision in his opening statement.

“We could be a shining light for the state of Ohio,” he said. “Smaller classrooms provide better outcomes and we need to close the achievement gap.” 

Loeb is running for the two-year term. 

We could be a shining light for the state of Ohio… Smaller classrooms provide better outcomes and we need to close the achievement gap.”

— Richard Loeb

Tiffanie Broadbent has lived in Beachwood for five years. 

She has a son in middle school and a daughter at Hilltop. 

Broadbent has worked for many years in education. 

“I started as an English teacher in the middle of nowhere North Carolina, but I’ve [also] been an administrator.” 

Broadbent grew up in Columbia, Maryland, which she described as being much like Beachwood.

“[There is similar demographics with] the mix of religions and cultures,” she said. “Coming to Beachwood felt so much like home.” 

Broadbent attended the University of Chicago. Broadbent she has worked in Marketing research. 

Broadbent is running for the four-year term.

We can not [bridge the achievement gap] without realizing that each score relates to a human being, and each human being [is a product of] a family.”

— Tiffanie Broadbent

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The first topic that the moderator raised was racism and anti-Semitism that Beachwood students have encountered at away games. This is nothing new for the Beachwood community because of its diversity.

Josh Mintz explained how the the school board has been handling the issue.

“We take this very seriously,” he said. “This year, we started having our own police officers travel with some of our sports teams.” 

Mintz used the Grand Valley incident as an example. 

“I do think Grand Valley did a nice job handling this,” he said. “They were on top of it, and they responded to us. But it’s sad this had to happen in the first place.”

Tiffanie Broadbent emphasized that bystanders have to be prepared. 

“We talk about the difference between the children who are the bystanders and upstanders,” she said. 

“The solution has to do with more than one type of child, and more than one race,” she added. “At the end of the day we should be ‘One Beachwood’ and more of a cohesive unit facing that adversity.”

Marla Hart believes we have to “show the love.” “Every single student should feel loved. This is not new. The students are strong together.”

Dawann Gray experienced this kind of bigotry from other schools when he was a student in Beachwood. 

Gray referenced his running mate, Marla Hart, and emphasized the importance of cooperation. 

“You are more powerful when you are together,” he said.

Megan Walsh pointed out that at the boys soccer game season opener against Jefferson, racial and anti-Semetic slurs were directed at the Bison, which was followed by the incident at the Grand Valley football game. 

“We must be there for the students, because it’s trauma,” Walsh said. “We must hold the people that traumatize our students and community accountable as a district.”

The next question that was brought up by Snipes was the achievement gap in Beachwood. The question was directed at a eight-year incumbent School Board Member Josh Mintz

“What have you done over the eight years to address this issue?” Snipes asked. 

“This is why Diversity Matters came to our board,” he said. “Immediately our board took action, and teamed up [with Diversity Matters] to create a plan and became proactive.” 

“We brought in a consultant to create this plan with not just the board, but with the community,” he added. “We had students and teachers, and it was a long but necessary process.”   

Marla Hart feels that students should be both challenged and supported.

“If a child feels strongly about being in [a challenging] class and feels that they can [be in that class] and need a little extra help, give it to them.” Hart said. 

“We have a lot of money in Beachwood,” she added. “We have enough to achieve the goals that we set. We can achieve more with what we have. We know our kids can do better, and we have the funds to do it.”

Gray, Hart’s running mate, believes we start by identifying the problem. 

“My son is a senior,” he said.“During his 9th or 10th grade year, what I saw was a disturbing problem of athletes being ineligible, year after year after year. Not like one or two, but ten or fifteen… And this pattern continued.”

“I took it upon myself to say enough is enough. I took about 15 kids who were on the academic border, I gathered the resources that I had, took them to my mom’s basement, got some volunteer tutors, and I believed. And this year is the first year in six plus years, at the start of the football season, we have not had ineligible kids.”

Megan Walsh wants to see training for teachers. 

“We need to have bias training with our staff,” she said. “Our teachers, staff and curriculum should represent the culture of our students.”

Broadbent believes that test scores do not tell the whole story. 

“We can not [bridge the achievement gap] without realizing that each score relates to a human being, and each human being [is a product of] a family,” she said. “We have great resources in Beachwood, but we need to make sure the administration backs up those resources.” 

“You cannot make real change without personal connection,” she added.

The next topic was the board’s renewal of Superintendent Dr. Bob Hardis’ contract, which happened in September. 

All candidates support Dr. Hardis 100%, but some did not support the process by which his contract was extended. 

Loeb is a strong supporter of the superintendent, but not the process. 

“There should be community involvement, in regard to the superintendent, there was no transparency,” he said.

Broadbent emphasized the importance of the superintendent position. 

“The superintendent is vitally important…” she said. “This is not about getting more towels, we need to get the community more involved.”

The election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5. 

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