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Parent announces bid for Ravenswood school board

Nicole Sbragia to run for one of three open seats

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Nicole Sbragia, an East Palo Alto parent, charter school paraeducator and security dispatcher, plans to run for a seat on the Ravenswood City School District Board of Education in November.

She is the first candidate to announce a bid for three open seats. Three board members' terms are expiring in November: President Ana Pulido and members Charlie Mae Knight and Marcelino Lopez. Lopez told the Weekly he has not decided yet whether he will run for re-election. Pulido and Knight did not return repeated requests for comment.

Sbragia said she felt compelled to run because of increasing concerns about a breakdown in trust between the community, teachers and district leadership, particularly in recent months. She organized a boycott at Belle Haven Elementary School in protest of the sudden removal of former principal Todd Gaviglio this spring and felt the board did not listen to the community's pleas to not renew Superintendent Gloria Hernandez-Goff's contract. She is part of Community United for Better Education, a grassroots advocacy group that formed this spring in response to concerns about Hernandez-Goff's leadership.

"Over the two years that my kids have been in the school district I have seen that the decisions are not being made with the child first," Sbragia said in an interview. "I feel that the community is not being listened to."

A single mother of two, Sbragia moved from Redwood City to East Palo Alto five years ago. Her younger son attends Belle Haven and her older son is a rising freshman at East Palo Alto Academy, a public charter high school in the Sequoia Union High School District.

Sbragia has a degree in criminal justice and has worked in security dispatch for the past 13 years. Both of her children have special needs, which spurred her to become a paraeducator in Ravenswood in 2016, working as an aide in special-education classrooms. Her position was cut last year, so she found a paraeducator job at East Palo Alto charter school KIPP Valiant Community Prep.

She's concerned about the future of Ravenswood, which is facing declining enrollment, lean budget years and high teacher turnover. At Belle Haven alone, eight lead teachers, a speech therapist, occupational therapist, a makerspace teacher and vice principal left this year, according to Sbragia. She's worried about the impact these vacancies, if unfilled or even if hurriedly filled, might have on students.

Belle Haven teachers have told Sbragia they are leaving because of "poor leadership" and broken trust with the district.

"The choices that you have made have lasting effects on our school communities," she told the board at its last meeting of the year on June 28, speaking about the departure of Belle Haven's popular vice principal. "The responsibility does fall in part on you but the consequences fall on our children."

The solution is in part simple, Sbragia said — "I really think they (teachers) need to be treated better" — but also complex. She suggested spending less on district personnel, such as eliminating the district's external communications officer and cutting down on legal expenses, and diverting the dollars to support teachers and staff.

Sbragia said she supports charter schools as another choice for East Palo Alto parents. Other parents elect to send their children to neighboring districts through the district's longtime Voluntary Transfer Program, known as the Tinsley program.

"Parents should have a choice," Sbragia said. "I do believe in charters and I do believe in Tinsley but I wish that our school district was good enough to where parents didn't have to make those choices. They should be able to go to their neighborhood school and have confidence that their children are being looked after and that the best is happening for their children."

Whoever is elected will join Vice President Sharifa Wilson and Marielena Gaona-Mendoza on the dais. Both were elected in 2016, Wilson to her third term and Gaona-Mendoza her first. The Ravenswood school board does not have term limits.

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Comments

30 people like this
Posted by Vote for Nicole
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2018 at 1:07 pm

Yah! The School Board needs people like Nicole. Her bad experiences with our district have prepared her to have a much better vision of our district. It is time for our us to take back out district, and time to pay attention to our kids and to our teachers (good ones). I hope more people like her can run so we can reform our school district to benefit our students. We need to end the status quo now, and Hernandez needs to find another job ASAP before she is fired or forced to resign. Most of the present board have become too friendly with the super and that interferes with the kids of job they do. They are there for the super not for the kids. Pulido said that she had to renew the super's contract because there was no time to find a replacement but the truth is that she did into want to fail Ms. Hernandez, and felt obligated to renew her contract after all the favors she made to her. This is the main reason Pulido has a 100,000 dollars job, she gave great recommendations.


22 people like this
Posted by Voter
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2018 at 6:03 pm

Pulido, Lopez, Wilson, and Sup need to resign. They are failing at their job. It’s a shame Pulido also works for Sequoia Union High School District. Bad move on SUHSD. Listen to the community you serve.


18 people like this
Posted by Ravenswood Teacher
a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2018 at 10:13 pm

THANK YOU!!


7 people like this
Posted by Ashley
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2018 at 10:54 am

Vote for Nicole! The district needs her to be a voice of reason. Her passion and dedication to this district is unmatched. So inspired by her desire to make a change.


15 people like this
Posted by Good Luck
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 18, 2018 at 11:49 am

Ms. Nicole has no idea what she is getting into, not to scare her, but during board meetings, I have seen how one board member gets bullied by board members who have been there for too long and think they own the district. I hope they do not do the same to Nicole. If she wants to be treated with respect, she would have to vote the same way Pulido, Lopez, and Wilson vote. This way, Hernandez, will like her and become her best friend, otherwise, she will be beaten until they force her to resign. Ravenswood is well known for being corrupted, hope Nicole can make a change on this issue.


14 people like this
Posted by VOTE FOR NICOLE 2
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 18, 2018 at 9:01 pm

I agree that Nicole will be a great addition to the Ravenswood School District. She will help make the needed changes to improve our student's education. We will not improve if we continue to have the same people on the board, we need someone with different thinking and ideas, otherwise, things will stay the same way they have been for more than 30 years. Time for a real change.


12 people like this
Posted by resident of Belle Haven
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 18, 2018 at 9:51 pm

I'm a concern resident of belle Haven neighborhood i wish Ana Pulido would of listened to the community to not renew Glorias' contract instead she sold out and i cannot understand why she got a job @ Sequoia High School when clearly she never once, when it was her duty to listen to the community not to renew Glorias contract and i also think she was manipulated by Sharifa wilson another bad apple for the community.
she's got the worst attitude making faces all the time like she owns East Palo Alto.
she should go and get a job with first Harvest bank including Ana Pulido,Dr. Mae Knight,sharifa wilson and Marcelino Lopez since they all agree of her corrupted ideas and still happening.
according to Mr. Steve Eichman the C.B.O. for the district at the board meeting he personally mentioned that the overtime would immediately freeze so why are some of the guys working at the district are still getting paid overtime? at the food drive at Costano school every other Saturday can Ana Pulido answer this question since she said at the Costano meeting before voting in favor of Gloria Hernandez Goff that she was not Deaf. not only is she deaf she is also blind including all other board members except for one. we need changes to keep our district otherwise mark my words the San Mateo County will take it over and that's a promise. lets make a change for the kids sake and their future in our community god bless. thank you.


12 people like this
Posted by resident of Belle Haven
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 18, 2018 at 10:06 pm

Nicole, i wish you luck
i'm voting for you and behind you 1000 percent and i will support anyone running that is willing to make a change for the future of our kids and the community. i will support anyone not having any relationship with the current members except for one.
lets make a change and you can do it. big supporter against corruption lets clean house now! before its too late.
thank you.


14 people like this
Posted by Good Bye Mr. and Ms. Hernandez Goff
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 19, 2018 at 5:15 pm

I hope now with a new board, Gloria and her aggressive husband leave our town This is the only way our district will improve the academic scores. Gloria is spending the $ at the Food Bank, on Avid, and Maker Space, instead of spending the $ on hiring qualified teachers. She hires teachers with no credentials just because they are her favorite employees who come and speak on her behalf when she is in trouble. Time for her to go. She and her husband who has been kicked out of the Senior Center, where he was the Board of Directors President, should start packing cup. The community wants them out now. It is just a matter of time.


12 people like this
Posted by Voter
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 20, 2018 at 10:05 pm

Gloria Hernandez Goff and her husband are crooks. They are using EPA. Paying their friends and family with jobs and contracts. They have got to go!!!!


Like this comment
Posted by EPA is a what?
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 27, 2018 at 10:53 pm

You people that have been here for the past decades: There seems to be an epidemic of people that like to single out others for problems that have been in existence because of a basic lack of intelligence in the community. These problems have always been here and the Sup has been working to fix them. She is changing the dynamic of the district and trying to provide for the children less fortunate in the community. The district is not here to provide anything except education for children. It's not here to provide pregnancy leave or workers comp. It's not here to be a springboard for your wanna be political campaign. It's not a political tool for pushing your community agenda. Also, if you keep dragging people's name through the dirt somebody might sue and make off with some of the districts money. Also, don't forget that Trump is still your president and good will prevail over evil.


Like this comment
Posted by Machiavelli
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 28, 2018 at 2:40 pm

My comment is to address “EPA is a what” who I believe is John William Denos due to the fact he created his moniker by quoting himself. First and foremost I will begin by stating that RCSD has had issues since the days of Dr. Knight. By no means, does this fact make it excusable to provide a poor leadership. She was able to get acquitted of her corruption case back in 2001,but with a dream team of lawyers even O.J. Can get away with murder. GHG has not made any changes that should really be aimed towards providing an equal education for all students and not only the less fortunate. It is very obvious that GHG does care about the community that also includes teachers and parents. She herself made it clear when she told the teachers at Belle Haven, and I will quote in verbatim “ This is not a democracy and I don’t have to answer any questions”! Workers Compensation and Pregnancy Disability Leave are legal rights employees have, that fall under state and federal laws. They are managed by CA department of fair employment and housing and Department of Industrial Relations. I find it interesting how you mention Trump due to the similarities Trump and GHG have, to be precise I would say the way they both treat their staff. — Machiavelli


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