Arcadia Unified Board of Education Candidates’ Forum

Leslie Chen and Tiffany Zhu

The AUSD Board of Education Candidate Forum was hosted at First Avenue Middle School on Feb. 19. The forum, co-sponsored by the Arcadia Teachers Association (ATA), Arcadia Educational Foundation (AEF), and the Arcadia Council PTA, featured five candidates: Roshan Akula, Raymond Cheung, Kay Kinsler, Cung Nguyen, and Shirley Yee. The panelists, all vying to take one of three available seats on the next School Board, answered a series of questions regarding the Board, education, and their values.  

The forum was moderated by ATA president Kevin Fox, and co-moderated by former AEF vice president Sheldon Wright and AHS senior Jeffrey Lee. There were a total of two rounds. In the first round, School Board candidates were asked four questions, and were given three minutes to answer each question. In the second round, candidates were only allowed two minutes per question.

The panel was first asked to introduce themselves and explain why they were qualified. As a special education aide at LAUSD, Akula promised to provide an equalizing environment by being more inclusive towards special education students. Cheung mentioned how his experience as a former Marine and his years in public safety gave him a perspective of service, safety, and security. Kinsler described how her history of being involved in school boards made her qualified to serve as a member on the AUSD board. Nguyen explained his commitment to the community by describing the positions he held in multiple organizations. Yee believed that her love for engaging with members of the AUSD schools and her passion for serving the students would make her a valuable member of the board. 

The co-moderators asked the candidates what they believe is the greatest thing about AUSD. In Kinsler’s opinion, the best thing about AUSD is the people who are involved. She believes that the people live by the values of collaboration, thinking critically, being creative, offering empathy, and learning from failure. 

“We build a nurturing, caring culture at every school site,” Kinsler said. 

Nguyen described how the “culture, climate, and the support for innovation” are the greatest things about AUSD. 

Yee explained how the “good working relationships with all the different stakeholders” set AUSD apart from other school districts. She clarified that statement by saying that the people are “able to work through their differences in an honest and open way.” 

Akula believes that “student success is a major component of making AUSD a wonderful district.” Cheung agreed with Kinsler that AUSD’s greatest strength is the “ teachers, students, parents, and community members who all truly believe in value education.”               

The candidates were also asked to explain what they believed was AUSD’s biggest challenge. All five expressed their concern over lack of funding. 

“The money we’re provided with isn’t enough to cover the cost of the education for our children,” Yee said. “A way to address it is to be in front of legislature and lobby for the money that we need.” 

Cheung proposed a potential solution to the problem. “It’s 2020, and there’s no reason why Board meetings shouldn’t be livestreamed,” he said. “This way, we can gather more of our community together and make more people aware of this problem.”

The panel was concluded with a final question: what would the candidates do to ensure that students with special needs feel involved in their school? Akula, who has mild autism, was adamant on the inclusion of these kids. 

“I was part of the special education program myself, and I know firsthand what it’s like to feel excluded,” he explained. “These students should not be singled out or shamed.” 

Cheung brought up a possible solution to the concern. “We do not plan for them without them,” he said. “The parents of these children deserve to be in the room whenever we plan something that involves special education.”

Voting for the next School Board member will start on Feb. 22. We wish all five of these candidates good luck!


Photos by Leslie Chen