Dennis Popalardo is a father and an attorney.
1 – What are the biggest challenges facing your School District and how will you tackle them?
Passing Measure A (parcel tax) on November is my biggest concern for the District right now. I’m talking to all my friends and neighbors about it, in an effort to help get this important measure passed. Another challenge is maintaining quality education for our children, as our city grows. We need to retain our smaller class sizes which will require additional teachers and facilities as we build more residences. I will work with the Mayor and the City Council to make sure developers are paying proper impact fees, so that we can afford the necessary resources for new families coming into the District.
2 – Do you believe there are systemic problems with racial/sexual/gender-based or other discrimination in your district’s schools? How would you tackle them?
I am not aware of systemic problems with discrimination or bias in Alameda schools. However, discrimination, of any type, has no place in our schools. Children of all races, sexual orientation, gender, etc. should feel welcome and safe. I will be vigilant in making sure that we deal with any issues of discrimination in a swift and effective manner.
3 – Do you believe the school-to-prison pipeline is operational in your School District and what will you do to close it down?
I do not believe that this is occurring in Alameda. However, if it were, it would be something I would strongly oppose. I believe children who are having problems can be better helped through counseling, mentoring and family outreach programs, rather than the criminal justice system.
4 – Do you support having police officers on campus? If so, in what capacity?
I would prefer not to have a police presence at schools, but I understand that there may be certain situations where it is necessary. In Alameda, there are police officers on campus at both Alameda and Encinal High Schools. I would like to study this issue further and talk to police and district officials, in order to determine if continued police presence is truly necessary.
5 – What limits to students’ freedom of expression and privacy do you think are appropriate for public schools?
As a society, I think we need to be very careful about infringing on anyone’s freedom of expression and right to privacy. Having said that, I would support limitations that are truly necessary to ensure students have a safe, nurturing and non-discriminatory environment in which to learn.
6 – What do you think the School District should do to offer support to homeless, foster and impoverished children and children coming from violent homes?
Provide free meals, school supplies and clothing, along with counseling and services aimed at helping underprivileged children maintain their dignity.
7 – Given the explosion of autism diagnoses, what is your plan to make sure children and their parents are getting the proper support?
We must have robust special education and IEP services. I will push for proper funding of these crucial programs
8 – What should the District do to tackle problems of truancy?
Again, I think counseling and family outreach are the best ways to tackle this problem.
9 – Are you running as a Berniecrat?
No, but i did support Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary election