Angela DiGaetano: DiGaetano is a business owner. Courtesy photo

All candidates were given an opportunity to provide written answers to a set of questions provided by SMDP and two sets of answers will be printed each day. Answers are also available online alongside additional information from each candidate. 

My name is Angela DiGaetano and I am running for a seat on the Santa Monica and Malibu School Board. I am an entrepreneur, business person, education activist, and a concerned parent of two high school-aged boys.

I decided to run for school board because I was alarmed at the lack of transparency, parental consideration, and the systematic exclusion of the community and parental input by our current school board. I felt it was a moral imperative to challenge the status quo and bring change to the school board.

Our current school board has had decades to improve the achievement gap and has failed. In 2017, the board commissioned a report entitled “The Current State of Equity and Opportunities to Learn in the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District”, also known as The Noguera Report. This report was an in-depth direction for our schools to take to tighten up the fiscal belt, close the achievement gap for all students and bring harmony amongst the administrators, teachers, students, and parents. None of the recommendations have been implemented. One of the main recommendations was to gain ‘teacher buy-in’. I will embrace the advice of this steadfast report, gain teacher (and principal) buy-in, and bring equity to our district.

At the end of the current school year, Muir Elementary was unceremoniously shut down due to a serious MOLD problem. Young children and their families were shuffled to other district schools.

The current school board had been warned about this issue for many years. Meanwhile, Santa Monica High School is breaking-ground on a multi-million dollar space, which includes a “yoga studio.” Imagine the mismanagement and cost overruns that will naturally occur. Are we prepared for this? Something is very, very wrong. As a school board member, I promise to demand fiscal accountability and bring equity to our spending.

instead of ignoring the onslaught of issues we are seeing and will continue to see with our children due to extensive, we cannot ignore it. I will propose implementing a tangible Mental Health plan, by reaching out to the community, parents, and, professionals and engaging with accredited Mental Health programs.

On the first day of school, SAMO high experienced a heinous stabbing. Our children are not safe because the current board has vilified the school police and security within our schools. We need to partner with our police and security professionals. Trust between all parties needs to be built and communication improved for things to change.

Our students of ALL of the schools, including Malibu, need to be our top priority. The board in place cannot be trusted to focus on education when they haven’t been able to prove they aren’t more interested in real estate projects and investments.

Our current budget is in the neighborhood $164 million. Far, far larger than most districts in CA let alone the country. If we cannot keep our asphalts from cracking, kids from being in temporary classrooms, and schools from becoming moldy with a budget of this size, there is a spending problem. We need to be using our resources on increasing literacy (which enables equity), supporting our teachers and their needs in the classrooms, building a Mental Health plan and Planing our sports programs.

Over the past few years, parents, teachers, and principals have felt unheard. A culture shift on inclusion, “buy-in” and understanding, in our district, is in desperate need of improvement. Parents and families need to be heard; kids need to be put first and spending needs to be accounted for.

We have a unique opportunity to bring real change to our wonderful community. Together with a slate of 3 other qualified candidates, we have pledged to work together. We will work collaboratively and constructively for the common good of our Students, Parents, and Teachers.

We are committed and dedicated to resolving any issue that may arise with respect, accountability, empathy, and passion. Together, with my slate partners; Miles Warner, Stacy Rouse, and Esther Hickman we have a unique opportunity to re-build the SMMUSD board and bring NEW & FRESH IDEAS. Let’s bring about the CHANGE our students deserve.

When I am elected to the school board, I commit to having an open-door policy, being empathetic, open-minded, and clear in my dedication to our greatest asset, our students.

Please vote for me, Angela DiGaetano.