No one currently on the Killeen Independent School District Board of Trustees has a child enrolled in the district.
For some candidates running for a spot on the board, that’s an issue.
Others say it’s irrelevant.
With a seven-person board, Place 4 candidate Aya Eneli said, “surely we can make room for one parental voice.”
Eneli, who will have five children in Killeen ISD schools during the 2014-2015 year, said the issue of having a parent on the board is “all about perspective.”
“The more diverse the board is, the easier it will be for us to get a full picture, and that’s what we need in order to really be able to help our children achieve at their highest potential,” she said. “It’s about getting as many perspectives as possible.”
Eneli and fellow Place 4 candidates Brockley Moore and Lan Carter all have at least one child currently attending a Killeen ISD school.
Marvin Rainwater, the lone Place 4 candidate without a child enrolled in the district, said throughout his 43 years of employment with the district, he’s fostered personal relationships with the students he served.
“I love this place and I love the kids in it and I know so many kids that have graduated from Ellison,” Rainwater said. “In so many ways I kind of feel like a grandparent to some of these kids, because I’ve taught them and I’ve taught their children.”
Rainwater said having children in the district is just one of many factors voters can look at when determining who is qualified to serve on the board.
“You can’t ride a one-horse pony and say I’m a parent. ... I don’t think just having kids in the district by itself should set somebody on the board,” Rainwater said.
“Being a parent doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a parent that’s interested in the school district and it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a parent that’s interested in the best outcome for all the children at KISD. It means you’re a parent and you’re interested, probably, in your children and what’s best for them.”
Carter has one child who attends a Killeen ISD school, but also has a child with special needs whom she pulled out of a Killeen ISD school and enrolled in private school after filing a due process claim with the district.
Carter’s claim, which was rejected in December, said the district didn’t recognize her daughter’s developmental delay and failed her based on excessive absences due to therapy.
She filed an appeal at the federal level about three weeks ago, claiming the judge didn’t back the ruling with case law.
“If you’re doing it to my kid, you’re probably doing it to other people’s kids, and that’s where my issue was,” Carter said.
She said it’s beneficial to have a parent on the board, because by seeing the immediate effects of board policies, parents are more inclined to be active participants.
“You’re actually in the district; you know what it’s like to have kids who go to school, you know the issues that are happening now,” she said. “It’s different when ... your kids are grown already, it’s a little bit more distant to you.”
Eneli said parents are “in the trenches” and constantly in contact with other parents, which means they’ll be able to bring not only their parental perspective to the board, but also the views of other parents. She said they’ll also understand how board decisions and policies will impact their child.
“My parents’ lives are very different from my life because I’m the one raising my kids right now,” she said. “Even though they have been parents and even though they’re educators, there are certain things that they’re not taking into consideration because they’re not living it right now.”
Even though Moore has a daughter who attends a Killeen ISD school, he said being a parent is “irrelevant” when it comes to being a school board member and it is not “hindrance” to board members who don’t have kids.
Moore said there are many people in the community who don’t have children or have grandchildren in other school districts, but still choose to support Killeen ISD.
“You’ve got people like Gen. Shoemaker who don’t have any biological kids and never had (any) kids, but he gives thousands of dollars to our kids,” Moore said. “The bottom line is, if you have a passion and concern and love of kids, you can do anything you want to do to help kids.”
Rainwater also said having a parental connection is not an “overriding factor” that “propels” someone into being a better candidate.
Carter said her experience with the district is what encouraged her to run.
“I realize that as school board members, they only get the information that’s given to them by the district staff,” Carter said. “If they don’t get input from parents, they’re not going to know there’s an issue.”