School board winners: Shana Segal and Shounak Dharap | November 11, 2022 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - November 11, 2022

School board winners: Shana Segal and Shounak Dharap

Nicole Chiu-Wang formally concedes on Wednesday

by Zoe Morgan

First-time candidate Shana Segal and incumbent Shounak Dharap appear to have won the race for two seats on the Palo Alto school board, with third-place finisher Nicole Chiu-Wang formally conceding on Wednesday.

With roughly 51% of the ballots tallied countywide by 4:41 p.m. on Wednesday, Segal remained well in the lead with 38.9% of the vote, followed by Dharap at 29.7%. Chiu-Wang sat at 21.6% and Ingrid Campos trailed in fourth place with 9.9%.

The top two finishers win four-year terms on the five-member Palo Alto Unified board.

Segal said Wednesday afternoon that she is excited to serve on the board and plans to spend the next month getting to know the current board members, talking with families and students, and learning as much as possible about her new role.

"I am honored and grateful that the community believes in me," Segal said. "My slogan has been 'experience matters' and ... I think the votes acknowledged that experience matters."

Dharap noted that the results have stayed relatively steady since the first batch of results came in on Tuesday night.

"If everything continues in the same direction, then I'll look forward to serving with Shana for the next four years and hopefully getting to serve with Nicole in two years if she runs again," Dharap said.

For her part, Chiu-Wang said that while she is looking forward to seeing all the ballots counted, she doesn't believe the result will change. She called Segal and Dharap on Wednesday to congratulate them on their victory.

Chiu-Wang pledged to run again in two years, saying that she wants to get a chance to work on the issues that she focused on in this campaign, including tackling systemic inequities in the education system and addressing long standing gaps in the opportunities that students receive. Chiu-Wang said that some of the most memorable moments on the campaign trail were when students told her she was a role model.

"Although certainly I would have liked to win and represent them this time, perhaps it is good for them to see a role model that shows them how you get back up — and that sometimes you don't win," Chiu-Wang said. "There's always a way to be a leader in your community."

Reached at about 8:45 p.m. on election night, Campos said that she was coming from dinner and hadn't checked the results. Once they were relayed to her, she acknowledged that it appeared unlikely she would earn a seat on the board.

"It doesn't look like I'm going to win, but it's impressive considering that I'm a first-time candidate and considering how my viewpoints seem to be so audacious," Campos said.

With a campaign focused on what she described as "traditional family values" and parental rights, Campos drew criticism for positions including favoring book banning and describing being LGBTQ as a "deviant lifestyle," as well as for making false and misleading social media posts.

Planning for their terms

As she looked ahead to serving on the board, Segal said that her first priority will be working to build back a "collaborative community," noting in particular that teacher morale is low.

In her new role, Segal said that she wear multiple hats, drawing from her experience both as a former teacher and as a parent in the district to do what is best for students.

Segal previously taught English and English Language Development. She ran a campaign focused on issues including differentiated education and bringing a teacher's perspective to the board.

Dharap said that in a second term, he is planning to focus on mental health and equity and is interested to hear Segal's perspective on differentiation now that she will be on the board.

"That's a new perspective that I'm looking forward to seeing integrated into the board's priorities and goals," Dharap said.

Dharap and fellow current board members Jennifer DiBrienza and Jesse Ladomirak endorsed Chiu-Wang's campaign for the board and not Segal's

Despite that, Segal said that she has faith she will be able to work effectively with her new colleagues and that she has already spoken with both Dharap and DiBrienza.

"I'm very confident that we, the board, will work well together. ... Even if they wanted a different candidate, the board is there to help students, and the only way to help students is to have a collaborative board," Segal said.

There's more election coverage on page XX of this edition.

Email Staff Writer Zoe Morgan at [email protected]

Comments

Posted by felix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2022 at 8:08 am

felix is a registered user.

Congratulations Shana.
I seldom have seen a Palo Alto candidate for anything work so hard.
I take heart that experience does matter.


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2022 at 9:12 am

Bystander is a registered user.

Please remember that educating our kids in the three Rs are the important task.


Posted by Another
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 9, 2022 at 9:31 am

Another is a registered user.

I'm proud (and relieved) that our town let the world know decisively that anti-gay intolerance and incendiary right-wing talking points are not welcome on our PAUSD school board. Thank you, Palo Alto voters!!!


Posted by Tom DuBois
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2022 at 10:39 am

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

Congrats to all the candidates. Thank you for running and for conducting campaigns that talked about the issues.

Looking forward to a highly productive school board that helps our schools maintain their excellence serving the whole community.


Posted by Palo Alto Mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2022 at 1:32 pm

Palo Alto Mom is a registered user.

A lot of us are disappointed in the results though not surprised considering Shana and her campaign manager's deep roots in the community. Time will tell if Shana has what it takes to be effective on the board. Thrilled to have Shounak for another 4 years. Truly amazed by Nicole who ran & spoke from her heart throughout the campaign and built a very strong foundation of champions who will be ready on day one to support her should she decide to run again.

The fact that 2665 of our neighbors voted for a MAGA anti-LGBTQ candidate to lead our schools should wake everyone up to the fact that this community has an ugly underbelly. Thankfully Julie Lythcott-Haims won a seat on our city council. She inspires and provides hope to so many of us and has the wisdom and courage to have the uncomfortable conversations needed to move this city forward to become kinder and more inclusive. It's no coincidence that Julie teamed up with Nicole as her soul-sister in this campaign. They are two big-brained, big-hearted courageous women who get shit done and who share priorities of youth mental health, equity and a vision of a Palo Alto that our children and grandchildren will be able and excited to live in. Proud to have supported them both and excited to see them continue to shine bright in our community.


Posted by Spectator at Large
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 9, 2022 at 5:57 pm

Spectator at Large is a registered user.

Experience does matter it is clear!

Congrats Shana for being the top vote-getter! You will be a tremendous asset to the board.


Posted by S. Underwood
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2022 at 6:43 pm

S. Underwood is a registered user.

Thank you to all the candidates, and congratulations to Shana and Shounak.

I'm a bit surprised that Shana took the most votes by such a comfortable margin. Nice work, gal! Had Dauber been running, one of the incumbents would've been replaced.

I am very relieved that national tendency for extremism in both parties isn't playing well in Palo Alto. Let's work hard and be kind to keep it that way.


Posted by Palo Alto Res
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 9, 2022 at 9:10 pm

Palo Alto Res is a registered user.

Congrats to Shana for the landslide number of votes. The fact Shounak Dharap came 2nd with a much lower set of votes shows how having been a Trustee with a 4 year term history already, and name recognition, his work on the Board was really mediocre at best.

Shana was brave enough to say how Superintendent Don Austin has been incredibly rude and arrogant in dealing with Palo Alto parents (he has). Numerous email records show how rude he has been. This is the beginning of ending the terrible and incredibly obnoxious and arrogant treatment of parents (as a partner/stakeholder) in education by the Board and Don Austin.

Parents are voting for Trustees who will respect the parents' voice and want Board members who will listen sincerely to what parents are saying. The lip service but lack of response to parental concerns during the pandemic amplified the terrible habits the PAUSD Board members have, which is nodding and ignoring what parents voice as concerns... responding only to special interest groups.

As for Nicole Wang-Chiu, the fact she tied her wagon to Shounak Dharap and advertised her Board endorsements likely didn't help her cause... and likely caused people to not vote for her.


Posted by JustAnotherDay
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 10, 2022 at 9:15 am

JustAnotherDay is a registered user.

Congratulations to Shana and Shounak! I hope that Nicole will learn more about our town and school district and that she will indeed run again in two years. She will make a good Board member with a little more time/experience.


Posted by Greene and Paly Parent
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 11, 2022 at 2:09 pm

Greene and Paly Parent is a registered user.

Congratulations to our community for electing Shana Segal! Finally a board member that is truly there for all of us and with the priorities of (i) serving all students, meeting them where they are, and understanding that (despite the misguided party line) it is not a zero sum game (ii) building trust, transparency, and respect to all stakeholders, and (iii) making decisions based on evidence and data and best practices. The broad support (about 80% of votes) is telling. PAUSD had gone astray and we all need Shana so much. My only regret is that there were two openings but only one great candidate. The current board and their supporters had been too effective in suppressing and attacking great candidates. Thank you Shana for your courage and for your work!


Posted by Anony Mouse
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 13, 2022 at 5:11 pm

Anony Mouse is a registered user.

@Greene and Paly Parent, so true. I would argue that Shana has a mandate for change. The incumbent's mediocre showing should be a wakeup call to the entire Board. For better or worse, the Board members hand picked Nicole and she did not win. Shana won despite the overwhelming Dem Party machine and fundraising muscle of the hand picked candidate. I hope they all notice what happened. The Board fostered the style of management that we currently see. Shana's win is a repudiation of this style. I'm hopeful for less arrogance, more collaboration, less authoritarianism and more humanity. The voters have spoken. Does the Board hear us?


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