News

Palo Alto native, graduate announces bid for school board

Three seats will be open on Board of Education in November

Katie Causey, a Palo Alto native, Palo Alto Unified graduate and nonprofit employee, announced on Tuesday that she's running for a seat on the school board in November.

Katie Causey, a Palo Alto Unified graduate, is running for a seat on the school board in November. Courtesy Katie Causey.

In her announcement, Causey described herself as a role model for current students who's focused on student voice, mental health and diversity.

She's the first candidate to officially announce a campaign for the school board election. Three seats will be up for grabs in November when the terms of board President Todd Collins and members Jennifer DiBrienza and Melissa Baten Caswell expire.

Baten Caswell said Tuesday that she is not running for re-election in Palo Alto but is campaigning for the Area 1 seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Education. Collins nor DiBrienza have formally announced whether they plan to seek re-election.

Causey attended Ohlone Elementary School and JLS Middle School. She graduated from Palo Alto High School in 2012. She described her current occupation is "community advocate," including fundraising and assisting community events.

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The seed to run for local office was planted when Causey was a freshman at Paly, she said, in the wake of student deaths by suicide.

"I know many alumni from that period who have had ongoing conversations about potentially running to highlight mental health and civic engagement," Causey wrote in an email.

She said she started watching local school board meetings as a college student at George Washington University, where she studied inequality and discrimination in communities and schools through a degree in women's studies. She started writing down ideas she wanted to see implemented in her own school district, she said.

In 2017, she was accepted to Emily's List's Run To Win program, which recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office.

In response to the coronavirus shutdown, Causey and her campaign team organized a list of local alumni who current students can reach out to for support. While there are informal alumni Facebook groups and an official Paly alumni association, she said she hopes the list is a step toward creating a formal alumni-student mentorship program in the school district.

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"This is a fantastic opportunity for students weighing decisions about their post high school careers to talk to recent grads about what navigating stress, networking, and higher education looks like right now," she said. "Students can directly see how professional growth doesn't look one way and isn't a straightforward path."

Last year, Causey advocated in a guest opinion piece published by this news organization for lowering the voting age for Palo Alto school board elections.

"When I was a freshman at Paly, this district faced one of its most difficult times when multiple students died by suicide, but in response, so many hardworking community members stepped up to help students," she wrote. "If I had been given the opportunity to help decide which of those community members were elected to the Board of Education, not only would I have been connected to more adults in the community offering help, but I would have felt a greater sense of control over decision making during a time when so much of student life felt out of control."

If elected, Causey said she would prioritize diversity in curriculum, hiring and training. The district should focus on strengthening its support for vulnerable students — particularly during the pandemic, her campaign website reads. She also wants to prevent school closures from exacerbating social isolation and substance abuse among students.

"No one gets left behind in a crisis," she writes on her website.

Causey identifies as bisexual and believes if elected, she could possibly be the first member of the LGBT+ community to hold this office.

Causey is a member of the League of Women Voters, through which she's worked on issues including sustainability, school meal plans and gun legislation, according to her LinkedIn page. She was also a campaign adviser and director of fundraising for Vice President Shounak Dharap's school board campaign in 2018. She recently was a chair at the Junior League of San Francisco, a nonprofit women's organization that promotes volunteering.

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Palo Alto native, graduate announces bid for school board

Three seats will be open on Board of Education in November

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Jul 7, 2020, 2:49 pm
Updated: Tue, Jul 7, 2020, 4:22 pm

Katie Causey, a Palo Alto native, Palo Alto Unified graduate and nonprofit employee, announced on Tuesday that she's running for a seat on the school board in November.

In her announcement, Causey described herself as a role model for current students who's focused on student voice, mental health and diversity.

She's the first candidate to officially announce a campaign for the school board election. Three seats will be up for grabs in November when the terms of board President Todd Collins and members Jennifer DiBrienza and Melissa Baten Caswell expire.

Baten Caswell said Tuesday that she is not running for re-election in Palo Alto but is campaigning for the Area 1 seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Education. Collins nor DiBrienza have formally announced whether they plan to seek re-election.

Causey attended Ohlone Elementary School and JLS Middle School. She graduated from Palo Alto High School in 2012. She described her current occupation is "community advocate," including fundraising and assisting community events.

The seed to run for local office was planted when Causey was a freshman at Paly, she said, in the wake of student deaths by suicide.

"I know many alumni from that period who have had ongoing conversations about potentially running to highlight mental health and civic engagement," Causey wrote in an email.

She said she started watching local school board meetings as a college student at George Washington University, where she studied inequality and discrimination in communities and schools through a degree in women's studies. She started writing down ideas she wanted to see implemented in her own school district, she said.

In 2017, she was accepted to Emily's List's Run To Win program, which recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office.

In response to the coronavirus shutdown, Causey and her campaign team organized a list of local alumni who current students can reach out to for support. While there are informal alumni Facebook groups and an official Paly alumni association, she said she hopes the list is a step toward creating a formal alumni-student mentorship program in the school district.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for students weighing decisions about their post high school careers to talk to recent grads about what navigating stress, networking, and higher education looks like right now," she said. "Students can directly see how professional growth doesn't look one way and isn't a straightforward path."

Last year, Causey advocated in a guest opinion piece published by this news organization for lowering the voting age for Palo Alto school board elections.

"When I was a freshman at Paly, this district faced one of its most difficult times when multiple students died by suicide, but in response, so many hardworking community members stepped up to help students," she wrote. "If I had been given the opportunity to help decide which of those community members were elected to the Board of Education, not only would I have been connected to more adults in the community offering help, but I would have felt a greater sense of control over decision making during a time when so much of student life felt out of control."

If elected, Causey said she would prioritize diversity in curriculum, hiring and training. The district should focus on strengthening its support for vulnerable students — particularly during the pandemic, her campaign website reads. She also wants to prevent school closures from exacerbating social isolation and substance abuse among students.

"No one gets left behind in a crisis," she writes on her website.

Causey identifies as bisexual and believes if elected, she could possibly be the first member of the LGBT+ community to hold this office.

Causey is a member of the League of Women Voters, through which she's worked on issues including sustainability, school meal plans and gun legislation, according to her LinkedIn page. She was also a campaign adviser and director of fundraising for Vice President Shounak Dharap's school board campaign in 2018. She recently was a chair at the Junior League of San Francisco, a nonprofit women's organization that promotes volunteering.

Comments

Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jul 7, 2020 at 3:17 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jul 7, 2020 at 3:17 pm
5 people like this

Good luck, Katie Causey:
I have been saying for 38 years that attending Palo alto unified school District schools was one of the greatest blessings of my life. So it’s great to know a young person is committed to keeping it that way.
I don’t believe there has been an out of the closet LGBT person elected either school board or city Council. Not sure it is a benefit other than if it means the candidate is sensitive to people who feel marginalized Which I would hope for in our leaders.
I support giving youngsters the vote.


Good luck!
College Terrace
on Jul 7, 2020 at 3:58 pm
Good luck!, College Terrace
on Jul 7, 2020 at 3:58 pm
5 people like this

Good luck! Although knowing how she identifies as LGTBTQ makes absolutely no difference to me rather than her policy issues. a


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2020 at 4:12 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2020 at 4:12 pm
3 people like this

Posted by Good luck!, a resident of College Terrace

>> Good luck! Although knowing how she identifies as LGTBTQ makes absolutely no difference to me rather than her policy issues.

I would like to know how she is with budget spreadsheets. Knowing Excel wouldn't make her an interesting candidate, but, not knowing Excel would leave her undefended against evil forces who use obfuscated data to further their agendas. One of those things you have to know if you want to engage successfully in bureaucratic infighting.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2020 at 5:33 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2020 at 5:33 pm
3 people like this

I always thank those putting themselves as willing to run for school board.

I hope that sexual identity does not become an issue. There are plenty of issues that should be addressed and I look forward to finding out more of her views.


JustSayin
Mountain View
on Jul 8, 2020 at 11:08 am
JustSayin, Mountain View
on Jul 8, 2020 at 11:08 am
2 people like this

#Mark Weiss
Its LGBTQ. Not LGBT. Proofreading is your friend.


Sally
Downtown North
on Jul 8, 2020 at 5:32 pm
Sally, Downtown North
on Jul 8, 2020 at 5:32 pm
11 people like this

We need to get PAUSD parents on the board, in my opinion.

As an unpaid position, parents are our only path representatives with direct skin in the game, and also folks who see the daily PAUSD reality with their own eyes... the good, the great, and the could better.


Local parent
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2020 at 5:56 pm
Local parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2020 at 5:56 pm
3 people like this

An interesting fact I came across recently. Calls to suicide prevention have risen since the start of the pandemic, but actual suicides are down noticeably, as compared to same time last year here in SC county. (I think it's a national trend but don't quote me on that.)

Are people more likely to seek help if they are home?
Is there something about home that makes suicide prevention more effective?
Is there a difference between this year and last at the hotline?
Have other changes because of the pandemic compensated for the increased stress of the pandemic itself?
Would things have declined anyway without the pandemic?

So many things factor into whether people act on the impulse, it would be very interesting indeed to know if this is a national trend and how we could use that to maintain the decline.

Katie Causey, I'd love to see you run against Mark Berman. The local politics are soul sucking. You'd be an asset in Sacramento.


Skeptical Susie
Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 6:43 pm
Skeptical Susie , Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 6:43 pm
11 people like this

I’ve looked at her work experience. Although she identifies as an advocate for the community, I don’t see any experience IN schools - whether that be classroom teaching, aiding students as a paraprofessional, or working in administration where she can see how principals execute and operate.

In my opinion, and you are free to disagree with me, I am looking for candidates who have had experience in schools. The structure of policies that trickle down from State, County, and City decisions affect our parent community, teachers, and children. The power lies in our hands — we must critically assess each candidate so our voice is heard. We’ve shouted, we’ve petitioned, yet somehow the Board doesn’t advocate for us. So the analysis and scrutiny of each candidate begins.... Vote wisely.


Resident
Downtown North
on Jul 8, 2020 at 8:07 pm
Resident, Downtown North
on Jul 8, 2020 at 8:07 pm
8 people like this

Lack of experience in the classroom? When did being a Board of Trustee at PAUSD become a stepping stone to being a career politician and beginning point to start one's career? Can we please not have someone with some relevant experience run for PAUSD Board of Trustees?

Someone please tell me of the many members of Board of Trustees at PAUSD, which one has children in the district, is a fellow parent and experienced and understood the frustrations the PAUSD parent community went through this pandemic crisis when it was poorly managed? Who has skin in the game?

Some districts have superintendents and board of trustee members who have children in the district and are vested. When there is skin in the game, there is a whole paradigm shift.


Anonymous
Professorville
on Jul 9, 2020 at 3:37 pm
Anonymous, Professorville
on Jul 9, 2020 at 3:37 pm
2 people like this

Good Luck to you Katie!
It would be nice to see what your stand is on Current real issues that PAUSD Is facing.

We have seen the pathetic response of PAUSD by lower the standard of education to an absolute minimum in the so-called crisis learning
While other school districts around us have pulled up their socks and care for their children’s future, PAUSD has decided to forget the 80% of mainstream students who need to be taught by teachers. Not just watch videos!!!

No one who has skin in the game ie is a parent in the school district is willing to run cause they know that it will impact their child’s education.


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