San Jose Unified School District is looking to fill the Area 4 position since trustee Paymon Zarghami stepped down earlier this month. The school board will be accepting applications from candidates interested in serving the remainder of his term.
In a Facebook post announcing his departure, Zarghami, who was elected to the five-member board in 2014, said it was a tough decision to resign but that he was offered a new job in New York City.
“This was hard, because I care so much about the neighborhood and school district that raised me,” he wrote in the Feb. 8 status update. “I also know that this job opportunity will be a step-change in my career.”
Candidates interested in filling Zarghami’s seat on a provisional basis will be interviewed in a public board meeting at the SJUSD office.
To date, it appears that only one person has publicly put their name in the running, and that is Brian Wheatley, head of the Evergreen Teachers Association. According to his campaign website, Wheatley claims endorsements from Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) and Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.
In the year leading up to his resignation, Zarghami came under scrutiny after a parent filed a complaint against him for allegedly speaking to her in an intimidating manner after a board discussion about a charter school petition last spring. He was also criticized for teleconferencing—often from New York City—into several board meetings instead of showing up in person.
In his Facebook post from a couple weeks ago, Zarghami highlighted some of SJUSD’s accomplishments during his nearly four years in office:
- Increased the high school graduation rate from 81% to 87%
- Increased the Latino graduation rate from 73% to 82%
- Increased the African American college eligibility rate from 30% to 44%
- Increased the Latino college eligibility rate from 28% to 35%
- Suspension and expulsion rates are at historic lows.
- AP/Honors/IB course participation rates are at historic highs.
- Voters passed a 2016 ballot measure that will invest millions of dollars in the recruitment and retention of excellent teachers and principals.
“This progress stems from the hard work of thousands of students, parents, teachers, principals and district office staff,” he wrote. “I salute you and your continued commitment to our schools.”
He added: “Superintendent Nancy Albarran and board members Teresa Castellanos, Kimberly Meek, Pam Foley and Susan Ellenberg are wholly committed to continue expanding opportunities for all students and have my utmost faith, confidence and championship.”