Mendoza named to Dougco school board

The Douglas County school board voted unanimously Thursday to appoint Carrie Mendoza, an emergency room doctor, to fill a board vacancy in District D, which extends from Castle Pines to the southeast corner of Douglas County.

Dougco school board members Dan Gerken, left, and John Carson prepare for Tuesday's meeting.
Dougco school board members Dan Gerken, left, and John Carson prepare for a meeting. / File photo

Mendoza was sworn in immediately after the board vote and assumed her seat.

She was chosen from a pool of six finalist candidates after a public interview process.

Mendoza received a bachelor’s degree in art history from Tufts University, a master’s in art history from the University of Chicago and her M.D. from the University of Chicago.  She is a practicing emergency medicine physician and mom to three students in Douglas County schools.

The vacancy for District D was created when member Dan Gerken abruptly resigned in January due to work and family obligations, according to the district. Fifteen candidates submitted applications.

carrie mendoza
Dr. Carrie Mendoza

“My children go to public school in Douglas County, so I have a vested interest in the quality of schools in our county,” Mendoza wrote in her candidate application. “I also have a commitment to the local community through my work as a physician at Parker and Castle Rock Adventist hospitals. In addition, I am a strong supporter of innovation and school choice, principles supported by the Douglas County School Board.”

Mendoza is married to Myles Mendoza, a well-known figure in school reform circles. He is a board member of the STRIVE Prep and Rocky Mountain Prep charter school networks and runs Summit 54, a nonprofit organization created to boost the quality of K-12 public schools. He also has been involved with Democrats for Education Reform.

Also Thursday, board member Kevin Larsen was elected board vice president.

The other five finalists for the District D seat were:

  • Daniel Coombe, lawyer and parent of two daughters enrolled at Academy Charter School
  • Aaron Johnson, corporate communications manager at DISH Network, parent of children in Dougco schools and alumnus of Dougco schools;
  • Brant Phillips, Dougco parent with a professional background in banking/finance and insurance/risk management
  • Randy Reed, former mayor of Castle Rock, owner of custom picture framing store who helps with wife’s executive recruiting firm and whose daughters are Dougco schools alumni
  • Judith Reynolds, exercise physiologist and Girl Scout troop leader who has three kids in the district.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.