11 candidates vie for three Dearborn Board of Education seats

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — The Dearborn Public Schools Board of Education will have a new look after the Nov. 4 general election.

Eleven candidates are running for three open seats on the board; each seat is for a six-year term. The trustees serve as the board for P-12 and Henry Ford College as well.

Current incumbents Pam Adams, Hussein Berry and James Schoolmaster are not seeking re-election.

The candidates running are: Michelle Audia, Rodger Bartles, Mariam Bazzi, Nofila Haidar, Ahmed Harhara, Mary Anne Hering, Kenneth Jannot Jr., Ghinwah Karkaba, Michael Meade, Christopher Robert Paulsen and Mary Petlichkoff.

The 11 candidates offer a range of experience and improvements for the school district.

A lifelong Dearborn resident, Audia has 15 years experience as a private school and substitute teacher.

“I would like to be an advocate by working with board members, community organizations and state legislature,” Audia said in the League of Women Voters Dearborn-Dearborn Heights voter guide.

She wants to focus on equality, communication, affordable education, community involvement and technology.

Another Dearborn resident of 42 years, Bartles is a business owner and employee of the district in 1983.

“As a board member, I would do everything possible to ensure the good programs continue and that students take advantage of the extraordinary opportunities offered, especially those that prepare them for higher education.” he said in the voter guide.

Bazzi has three children in DPS schools and is a product of the district herself. The current Wayne County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney believes the biggest issue that needs to be addressed is funding.

“It is vital to our survival that program cuts be monitored for effectiveness, in order for student achievement and graduation rates to continue to rise,” she said in the voter guide.

Haidar is an entrepreneur and member of the PTA at Becker Elementary. She is also a DPS alumni with two children in the district.

She believes in the growth and improvement of the school district.

“If elected to be a team member of the Board of Education I will work tirelessly to reach goals and objectives that will allow our school system to continue to be the best that it can be,” she said in the voter guide.

HFC instructor since 1975, Hering has taught many DPS students and understands how important the district is.

Hering wants to fix the budget cuts that affect everyone who works for DPS.

“From federal to state budget cuts, every city is trying to divide up the smaller amounts of money going toward public education,” she said in the voter guide. “We shouldn’t accept that this is our only choice.”

Also an HFC, Jannot has taught for 25 years, nine of those have been at the college.

He is running for the board to also resolve budget cuts.

“The attack on the schools budget coming down from the state and federal level is a big problem, and needs to be reversed,” he said. “I will do my best to lead a fight against those cuts and for a lot more,”

Hering and Jannot said they bring unique elements to the board because they are teachers and have experience at HFC.

Karkaba was born, raised and attended DPS schools, she is the Dearborn PTA reflections chairwoman for the district.

She has three children who attend DPS schools. Karkaba believes communication is essential to improve the district.

“I am running for school board to help better assist each individual school communicate their challenges to our board,” she said in the voter guide. “Direct communication and dialogue in our schools is imperative to the overall success of our district.”

Retired Vice President of Student Services at HFC, Meade has spent his entire life working in education. Of his 47 years, he spent 32 years at HFC as vice president as well as an instructor and counselor.

He said, in the voter guide, the three biggest issues the district is facing are funding, strategic planning and budgeting and curricula and programs.

Paulsen is a Wayne County sheriff’s deputy, a licensed residential builder and a graduate of Edsel Ford High School. He also attended HFC. Paulsen wants to bring his deputy experience to the school district.

“I plan to advocate for programs involving local social service agencies, local criminal justice agencies, and the local court system,” he said in the voter guide. “This will benefit our students by providing intervention at the first signs of a problem, and not after a problem has progressed beyond the point of intervention.”

Petlichkoff has held a number of positions in the city. She has been a City Beautiful Commissioner since 2004 and community volunteer. She was also a member of the Board of Education from 2008 to 2011.

“We must get the most out of every tax dollar entrusted to us,” Petlichkoff said in the voter guide. “I will work for quality public education and a comprehensive curriculum that continues to improve student achievement, focusing on differentiated instruction that individualizes learning to meet the needs of all students.”

Harhara could not be reached by press time and did not respond to the voter guide.

More information is available on League of Women Voters Dearborn and Dearborn Heights website lwvddh.org.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)