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Five candidates have entered the race for two open seats on the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education for the March 5 General Municipal Election — one in Trustee Area A,  North Glendale, La Crescenta, and Sparr Heights (orange area) and one in Trustee Area E, Lower South West Glendale (purple area). The map to the left outlines the specific Trustee areas.

Jennifer Freemon, Trustee of Area A, and Nayiri Nahabedian, Trustee of Area E, currently represent these areas. Neither is running for re-election.

The 2024 candidates for Area A are Jordan Henry, Shant Kevorkian, and Telly Tse, and the candidates for Area E are Neda Farid and Aneta Krpekyan. The News-Press asked each candidate to answer the same set of questions to shed light on their priorities and goals for GUSD if elected.

Q: Why are you running for the GUSD Board of Education?

Farid: I have been an actively engaged parent and community member for over two decades, advocating for improving our public schools and ensuring every student is college and career-ready with the skills necessary to compete and thrive in a global economy. I am running because I believe that in the years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the district was missing opportunities for authentic engagement and could do more and do it better. This past year, having observed the polarization of our school district by extremists and watching the business of what is best for kids go to the wayside as our meetings became a spectacle for the community and beyond, I felt a moral mandate to step and use my institutional knowledge to help redirect us back to the important job of overseeing the education of our future community leaders. Learning loss as we continue to recover from the pandemic is very real.

Henry: As the parents of two young boys, my wife and I chose to move to Glendale because of the public schools’ reputation. Recent curriculum and policy changes have resulted in historically low test scores, large classroom sizes, less structure and lack of student support. I believe that it’s the primary responsibility of our public schools to provide the practical skills necessary for students in a competitive college and career market. Glendale schools can go beyond what the state requires, and just like a good student, GUSD should only be competing with itself to best serve our kids.

Kevorkian: Education has the power to transform lives. As a son of immigrants and a proud product of GUSD schools, it was in the halls of Dunsmore, Rosemont, and Crescenta Valley High that my realization of reaching my highest potential came to life. A seat on the GUSD Board of Education is an opportunity to instill that very same realization in others’ lives and be the voice at the table that understands the GUSD student perspective, champions the importance of parental and familial involvement, and understands that advocacy for our Glendale teachers. The very same teachers who impacted my life need to be prioritized.

Krpekyan: I am a current GUSD parent and I have uncovered disheartening realities about our educational system. Our district has many dedicated, hard-working teachers and staff members, yet there’s been a concerning decline in academic performance, an inability to retain talented educators and a lack of transparency and collaboration with parental stakeholders. Our classrooms lack necessary resources for English Second Language learners and students still striving to catch up academically from post-pandemic learning loss. Transparency and accountability are glaringly absent. Instead of fostering a healthy, working relationship with parents and community members, the current Board opts to conceal vital information from parents concerning curriculum and allocation of resources. I have found that my vision for the much-needed changes have resonated with not only Armenian parents but parents from all backgrounds and faiths, including those from Hispanic, Asian, Jewish, Muslim and countless other backgrounds. My decision to run for office is rooted in the absence of representation for families like mine.

Tse: I am running for the GUSD Board of Education because I am an educator, labor organizer and community volunteer who wants our school district to continue to provide a welcoming, safe and empowering environment for our students, families, educators and staff to learn, work and grow. I will bring to the Board the experiences I have as a GUSD parent, public school educator and coach who has the ability to bring people together to work towards a common goal.

Q: What do you believe are the most important issues within GUSD?

Farid: My top priorities are support for students, support for teachers and support for the community. I will work hard to fully and adequately fund special education programs. Mental health is fundamental to well-being and overall academic success. I will prioritize funding for mental health services.
District resources must be prioritized to attract and retain educator talent. I do not believe there is a teacher shortage; it is a retention issue. Student success depends on strong partnerships between parents, educators and community members. I am committed to promoting clear communication and access to district resources for all families to ensure every student thrives and is life-ready.

Henry: Glendale schools have recently shown some worrying statistics that indicate change is needed. Our test scores in math are now at all-time lows. Only 50% of juniors at Crescenta Valley High School are proficient in math, 28% at Hoover High School and 26% at Glendale High School. These scores reflect recent changes in how math is taught and the curriculum itself. California used to lead the country in math before experimental “reform” methods replaced proven traditional ones. Additionally, students can no longer reach calculus by their senior year without taking voluntary summer school. Finally, gifted and talented education only receives a tiny fraction of a percent of our annual budget. GUSD should better support students and teachers who want to raise the bar.

Kevorkian: The needs of students, teachers and families are constantly changing. Meeting these needs includes providing a well-rounded education to our students, continuing collaboration and ongoing conversation with parents and families, and forging the path to making GUSD the most desirable school district to work in. As a graduate of GUSD schools, increasing students’ voices and creating a seat at the table for all students is vital to reaching my goals on the Board. We need to hear what they want in their educational experience, and what they can use less of. Additionally, taking the time to be in the schools to listen to our educators and find solutions to their needs as employees is integral. It is a personal goal to ensure that GUSD is the best place to learn, work and grow.

Krpekyan: The current administration appears to overlook pressing issues such as declining academic standards and disappointing polarization and exclusion of parental involvement. Additionally, there is a concerning lack of support for providing competitive salaries for teachers, while ignoring blatant and irresponsible administrative waste and misallocation of funding. There is a marked urgency for a comprehensive reassessment and need for proactive solutions in these critical areas, which I hope to be given the opportunity to provide.

Tse: I believe there are three major issues that need to be addressed in order to allow our students to graduate from GUSD with high academic achievement and strong social skills and to become independent and critical thinkers ready to be productive members of our democracy. These issues are educational equity (ensuring that the district stands by and protects its students and educators, especially those historically underrepresented and marginalized), renewing and strengthening the district’s relationship with its educators and staff through increasing salary and reducing class sizes, and strengthening communication with families and other community members to increase transparency and access to district updates and to counter misinformation.

Q: Conversations within the GUSD community recently revolve around diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as safety, in schools. How do you view this?

Farid: Defending the rights and access of students regardless of ethnicity, gender, race, religion or socioeconomic status is nonnegotiable. Standards-based arts education will allow us to address some of the challenges of our multicultural community centered around diversity, equity and inclusion in a safe and nonjudgmental manner.

Henry: Glendale voters deserve clear definitions of the terms diversity, equity and inclusion. As a community, do we want our schools to view students through their immutable characteristics like race, sex or sexuality? Furthermore, isn’t it the responsibility of public schools to treat all people equally, regardless of these factors? Finally, does “inclusion” actually include individuals who have legitimate dissenting opinions regarding these policies? Safety in schools is crucial, and as a Board member, I will support an audit of each school site’s security protocols, staff readiness and facilities. As a Board, we can then make informed determinations to maximize our preparedness for a variety of situations.

Kevorkian: Continued conversations around diversity, equity and inclusion as well as safety are all areas of focus that are critical to creating an educational environment that ALL can succeed in. A public school is a place where individuals of any color, gender, race, ethnic background or religion can come together to learn – where each student has the same opportunity as the next to reach their highest potential. It’s important that while we promote the importance of this, we include in those conversations all stakeholders. Every single student who walks into our schools will be welcomed, supported, loved and will feel safe while attending GUSD schools.

Krpekyan: It is every staff, teachers, district workers and Board members’ responsibility to provide a physically and mentally safe environment for children to learn. Currently, GUSD is not fostering a diverse, equitable or inclusive environment. GUSD is entirely one sided when it comes to diversity of thought and I’ve seen one too many families pushed out of this district feeling unheard, unsafe and no longer welcomed.

Tse: I believe in fostering diversity, equity, inclusion and safety. As a special education teacher, I understand the importance of ensuring that all of our children have access to a high-quality public education and services. In addition, I believe that each individual in our society deserves to be recognized for who they are and to feel represented and included in decision-making processes and in the world around them. All of our children, families, educators and staff deserve schools that allow them to feel safe physically and in terms of their mental well-being.

Q: What experiences/qualities of yours make you the right person to serve on the Board of Education?

Farid: I am passionate about public education and a staunch supporter of the arts. In 1992, my husband and I came to Glendale and fell in love with the city. Our son, Darius, attended elementary, middle and high school in Glendale and is now a graduate fellow at Yale University. Glendale deserves the best. I will continually strive for excellence, ask tough questions and demand thorough and transparent answers. Glendale supports its schools and deserves a Board that will support and answer to Glendale. As a parent, professional advocate and committed volunteer, I have a proven track record and experience supporting public education and have earned endorsements from the Glendale Teachers Association, the Glendale College Guild and esteemed elected officials at both local and state levels.

Henry: Being a father of two boys (soon to be three), I sympathize with all parents who entrust the schools to prepare their children with the skills needed in the 21st century. It is clear that Glendale Unified needs a change in leadership, and I will work tirelessly to make sure we see real results in our schools. While earning two master’s degrees, I studied educational theory at the graduate level. I know how to assess educational programs that work, and those that don’t. My perspective on education is based on hard work, self-sufficiency, progress and results. It is also based on the hundreds of conversations I have had with teachers, parents, administrators and staff who I trust the most. They all want to see change, accountability and transparency in Glendale schools.

Kevorkian: I am proud to be the only candidate in this race who is a product of GUSD schools. I am an honors graduate of CVHS in 2021, founding chair of the GUSD Alumni Association, commissioner (student ex officio) for the Parks, Recreation & Community Services Commission for the city of Glendale, current undergraduate student at CSUN studying healthcare administration, full-time healthcare administrator at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center and a nonprofit board member and volunteer. I understand what a Glendale student needs, I champion the need for uplifting a Glendale teacher’s voice, and I bring great importance to conversations with parents, families and the community. I am ready to put forth my full passion and youthful ideas and fully commit to serving the students of GUSD.

Krpekyan: I am a product of public schools and relied on the education, nutrition and safety I received from my own schools and understand school years to be detrimental years in a student’s life. As a PTA room parent and active volunteer at my child’s school, I have had firsthand experience witnessing the struggles students are facing. I recognize where we need to focus to rebuild those academic gaps. I am an elected School Site Council member working with fellow parents, teachers and staff to properly manage our school budget and will bring the same budget accountability at the Board level.

Tse: I am the right person to serve the GUSD Board of Education in Area A because I am the most qualified candidate and I have the right temperament for the job. I am the only candidate with children attending GUSD schools. I have worked as a special education teacher in a public high school for nearly 20 years. As a board member of the California Teachers Association and the National Education Association, I have advocated for public education, mental health services, workers’ rights and school safety at the local, state and national level. Within our community, I have served as an AYSO and softball coach and have built strong relationships with children and families representing every school in Area A. Throughout my career as an educator and labor leader, I have collaborated with people with wide-ranging interests and perspectives in a positive and productive manner. I am proud to be endorsed by the Glendale Teachers Association, the Glendale College Guild and many other respected local leaders and organizations in our community.

To learn more about the candidates for the Board of Education, the GUSD PTA and the League of Women Voters are hosting a candidate forum on Feb. 7 at 223 N. Jackson St. at 7 p.m. The forum will also be livestreamed. Submit questions at

First published in the January 13 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

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