Parent and community activist Robb Vaules wants a world class education for every student in the Scottsdale School District.
A Scottsdale resident since he was a child and a parent of children attending that district, Vaules and his wife were struck by the difficulties parents of Special Education children had in securing appropriate resources for children enrolled in those programs.
It is that experience that has primarily driven Mr. Vaules to run as a candidate for the Scottsdale School District Governing Board.
If elected this November, Mr. Vaules pledges to:
- Ensure that all children receive the world class education they deserve. That includes enrollment in arts and science programs at all levels including special needs, opportunities for college credit, and career preparation.
- Support all children in the district, including those in the LGBTQIA community are treated with respect, dignity, and fairness.
- Fight attacks on public schools including attempts to ban books and discriminate against LGBTQ children.
Mr. Vaules graciously took the time to discuss his candidacy for the Scottsdale School Board.
The questions and his responses are below.
- What are at least two reasons you would like to run for the Scottsdale School District Governing Board?
“I am a product of Scottsdale schools. I graduated from Arcadia. I’m a parent in this district, and I’m a district parent of a special needs child. My desire to be on the Scottsdale School Board is based, in part, on my love of my school district and how it’s improved me as a human being. But I also see the district’s challenges in dealing with special needs kids and their families. If I were elected to the board, my main concern and goal would be to improve the district to a level where it can fairly deal with parents of special needs and 504 kids and give them the attention and communication that they are not receiving right now.”
- Please tell the reader, what are at least two qualifications you have to serve on the school board?
“I currently serve on the Arizona Center for Disability Law board of directors and am their board secretary. . I’ve worked with the organization to protect the disability community from legal obstacles our government and businesses throw at them. I have previously served on the board of the March of Dimes, both in Arizona and Minnesota. So, I focused on improving people’s lives who are overlooked or are legislated against and have difficulties in the system.
My father was a school teacher. I was a substitute teacher in the Scottsdale district for two years in the past. I was on the ground in the district at many schools, serving as a substitute teacher in both special needs and mainstream classes. I’m very passionate about helping the community in that way. I understand the community needs to support teachers and appreciate their job. I think that focusing on and understanding what a teacher is up against is essential. I also currently sit on the Parent Councils, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, and I’m also on the Desert Mountain High School Site Council.”
- If elected, what are at least two education related issues you would champion as a member of the Scottsdale Governing Board?
“I think the district’s improvement of communication and services to families with children with special needs is a significant priority for me. My wife and I have requested information from the district about some special services. It takes too long and is too contrived to get information about why my son is in a particular program or his options for other programs in the future.
The district never told us what program our son was in when he started and why he was there, and parents are expected to accept the program they are assigned. “This is where your kid goes because you’re, this is what your kid has” was their mentality. But my child’s unique needs don’t coincide with many other children, so we needed to know what programs were available for him. It was challenging to get that information.
As to the program our son is in now, we started asking for information about it six or eight months before the program began. We had to ask, and we had to email, and we had a phone call and received nothing. It wasn’t until I went before the school board to make them aware of this situation that I finally got a phone call from somebody from the district. Yet, it still took another two months to get the information, and it was three days before my son would have had to make that move and start the semester. So, communication with families is essential and needs improving at the administrative level.
There’s no manual on what you would go through for parents who are just starting. With a special needs child, you know that public education is the only place you can go to get services. Please don’t ask a charter school for it; they won’t give it to you. They’ll make you sign your (Federal IDEA) rights away and have no infrastructure to serve your child’s needs.”
- Please describe your views on the legislators attempts to ban a certain types of books, a mandated distorted version of history education, a discrimination against children in the LGBTQ community, and change the funding formula for public schools.
“It’s chaos legislation. Nothing about any legislation mentioned that benefits the academics of a school or the community that benefits the teachers, the administration, or the parents.
It’s all a small group of people with a goal of damaging public education so much that they can privatize it and make it for profit. Students shouldn’t be profit centers on a corporate spreadsheet. I don’t need a charter school mogul making millions and millions of dollars off the backs of taxpayers when that money needs to go into the classroom.
If we turn this state over to charter school corporations, there goes any chance of special services for our kids. Education is an investment, not an expense, and all of the current legislation only exists to damage public schools.”
- Is there anything not covered in the first four questions that you’d like to note readers to know about you and your candidacy for the Scottsdale school board? Please explain.
“In 1983, I was a year out of high school when the Scottsdale School Board decided that it needed to shut down either Scottsdale or Arcadia High School. I remember going to the school board meeting; it was an overflow crowd. It was half Scottsdale High parents, half Arcadia High parents, and I’m not like spoiling the story, but obviously, Scottsdale High was shut down.
At the time, I was happy my high school got to stay open. I remember the meeting as one of my friend’s mom was on the school board. I remember the incredibly difficult decision and the emotions involved at that time.
At the time, as a 19-year-old, I saw that as a victory, but years later, I realized that no one won in that circumstance other than the real estate market. Decisions made at this level are serious for students, parents, district employees, and the community.
But I remember going home to my mom’s and describing the meeting. I said it was really interesting and intense. I said to my mom that someday I’d like to be on the school board. My mother looked at me and said in that motherly way, “oh honey, school board members don’t have friends.”
I’ve come to find out what’s been happening with this current board and boards around the country. It’s not an easy job, and I realize the criticism that I’m up against, regardless of what I do or say, and I’m fine with that. I am passionate about making sure every kid in this district gets a good education.”
Please click on the below social media link to find out more information on Robb Vaules and his candidacy for the Scottsdale Unified School Governing Board.