The object of the interview is not to grill the candidate, nor to give them softballs. Ideally, in their answers the candidates provide to voters a useful insight into their ideology, their priorities, and their knowledgeability and preparedness for office.
Questions are sent to each declared candidate in the 2022 races for School Board, County Commission, and Palm Coast City Council. Each candidate receives the same exact questions as the other candidates for the same office.
The only edits made are for spelling, formatting and basic grammar (i.e., ‘their’ when it should be ‘there’). Censorship of profanity may also be applied if it were to become applicable. Otherwise, answers are presented in their full form as the candidate provides them.
Answers are subject to fact-checking if they contain information that’s blatantly misleading or untrue (misrepresenting factually verifiable information, misquoting a statistic, etc). Clarifications will be added underneath the candidate’s answer if applicable. The answers will still be presented as given even if a fact-check or clarification is needed.
Some of these questions were contributed by constituents whom candidates would serve if elected later this year.
Other Candidate Interviews
-Order these three groups according to how strongly you feel a School Board member is tasked with serving them: students, teachers, and parents.
“My focus will be on objectives. For instance, if the objective is for our third graders to demonstrate reading at or above grade level, that involves all three groups equally.”
-Detail your professional or volunteer experience in the field of education.
“I earned both a Bachelor of Science in Business Education as well as a Master of Science of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, in addition to my Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, concentrating in International Business and Management. I was a public school teacher in Northwest Arkansas, in both General Education and Special Education, referred to as Exceptional Student Education (ESE) in Florida. I’ve also had a successful career in instructional design, leadership, and consulting, specializing in employee training and development, engagement, and communication. Clients and employers include Walmart Home Office, Sam’s Club, and Nike. This skillset is very much needed in Flagler County to support our students, administration, and school staff. I also started my career in recruiting which is another skill I hope will help the school district as we work through teacher and staff shortages. One of the many reasons I’m running is because I am well-qualified for the school board and would be highly effective.”
-Is it necessary to address the teaching of race issues in Flagler County? If so, how?
“As it relates to race, I believe there is knowledge our students must have to be considered educated. Lessons on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, for instance, would be included in that category of fundamental knowledge. These lessons are already included in our state educational standards.”
-The Parental Rights in Education law was recently passed in Florida. With it in mind, what is the ethical and/or lawful way for educators to handle the issue if kids have questions about same-sex couples or about gender identity?
“The school board and administration must follow laws and policies while also ensuring every student and member of staff feels embraced and highly supported in our schools. I believe Superintendent Mittelstadt has the acumen to determine how her team of educators should respond to questions on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
-What does the phrase ‘parental rights’ mean to you? How would you handle a situation where the consensuses of parents and teachers conflict?
“Parental rights means parents get to make decisions for their child(ren) on school matters outside public education standards. For instance, if the Health Department wants to offer vaccines at school, parents get to decide if they would like their children to be vaccinated. If there is a field trip, parents get to decide if their children will participate. Parents are able to decide which books their children can check out from the library. Parental rights also means having visibility to the content being taught in their children’s classroom(s). To my knowledge, Flagler County Schools respect and uphold parental rights and also welcome and need more parental involvement.
“Teachers’ lessons should be directly tied to state standards and all school staff are expected to follow school policies; there should never be a conflict between a parent and teacher that would need to be addressed at the school board level. Conflicts involving one student and/or one teacher should be directed to and resolved by the administration. After speaking with many parents, teachers, and staff, I have learned more about the challenges that impact multiple classrooms and families, such as how well students’ Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs) are being supported, mental health, and bullying. These are some of the many priorities the school board needs to improve through the policies, programs, and support they influence, in partnership with parents.”
-In 2022, a student activist was suspended for school for distributing Pride flags against the school’s warning, at a protest he’d organized with cooperation from the school. Did the school administration handle its discipline of this student correctly? Why or why not?
“Flagler County Schools discipline must be well-defined, communicated effectively, and enforced equally. I do not believe we are there today. These are three clear and measurable objectives that should be prioritized for the safety and success of our students, school staff, and district overall.”
-How high of a priority is it for you to push Flagler Schools to receive A grades from the Education Department? What are some specific steps you’d take to achieve this goal?
“This is a high priority. Our schools are a vital part of our community and every single resident and business rely on the school district’s success. Everything is connected; our schools influence home values, our ability to attract and retain working professionals today and develop a local workforce for the future, etc.
“Flagler County residents need to think about the big picture. For instance, our local health care system is currently recruiting doctors, nurses, administrators, and other professionals for our new and existing hospitals and medical offices, and are competing with communities across the state and across the country. As a former recruiter, I’m well aware that many of these professionals have school-aged children and will research each community’s school district before deciding to accept or decline a job offer. We need to ask ourselves, would a top-rated cardiologist move their family to a town in which the high school has a C rating and 3rd grade reading scores have dropped significantly? Would national news over hate groups at our school board meetings be appealing?
“I am committed to helping sustain the district’s successes while identifying the challenges at each school to create specific and measurable goals to work toward in partnership with our administration. We must be diligent and review monthly progress and be constantly aware of opportunity costs when we decide whether to use school board time on matters that fall outside key goals and objectives.”
-School shootings are a relatively common occurrence in America, from Parkland to Uvalde to Sandy Hook. Are there any measures you’d like to see put in place in Flagler Schools to protect against a school shooting?
“A current school board member has cited diligence as the focus for our schools’ safety, that all staff need to diligently follow the safety measures in place. While that is definitely a key factor in school safety, I believe there are additional measures available to mitigate human error and negligence. I will partner with Sheriff Staly and other subject matter experts to work toward a “zero-chance to fail” plan for our schools. Not only is this the right thing to do for our students and school staff but feeling safe is fundamental to academic success and our ability to attract and retain educational professionals.”
-Lastly, give a broad campaign pitch to those who are still undecided.
“I am uniquely qualified for the school board seat because of my well-rounded background: former teacher – Gen Ed and ESE, as a parent to a 5th grader, as a former Fortune 500 leader and consultant, and as a small business owner. With my background, I can best contribute to: 1) ensuring our students graduate with the essential knowledge and skills needed for the next chapter of their lives, 2) creating a supportive and engaging work environment for our teachers and staff, and 3) improving school and district metrics so that our parents are confident their children are receiving the best education possible and also for our community to be able to attract and retain highly qualified professionals – doctors, small business owners, etc.
“I see the school board seat as a job. In my career, I have always worked hard to prioritize effectively and focus on specific objectives to achieve desired results. I met with subject matter experts and collaborated across roles and work teams. The school board should be the same. It’s not about what I would do or want, it’s about following state laws and academic standards as well as creating policies and supporting programs that foster a safe and effective learning environment. Every school board member should be committed to doing what’s best for the community they serve – solutions-driven, not politics-driven.
“In the past two years, the incumbent has, by her own admission, filed a frivolous criminal charge with Sheriff Staly against the very people she is in place to support. Her actions and rhetoric led to hate groups coming to our government building in Bunnell to harass and intimidate students and parents at school board meetings and events. She has also admitted she will continue to prioritize hot button political issues and culture wars versus prioritizing district needs like improving third grade reading levels and Department of Education school grades.
“I want to help our students, school staff, administration, and board heal and move on from what everyone has endured the past two years from both the pandemic and the incumbent’s actions. In the many conversations I’ve had with school staff and parents, everyone just wants to return to “normal” and focus on a safe learning environment and effective education. I am proudly endorsed by FESPA, the educational staff professionals union of Flagler County Schools, and am confident I am the right person for this important role. I ask Flagler County residents for their consideration and hope to earn their vote on or before August 23. Additional information is available at schoolboardsally.com and on Facebook @schoolboardsally. Thank you.”