San Diego, CA–Two new Student Board Members were sworn into office at last night’s San Diego Unified Board of Education meeting. Their terms will take effect July 1 and end on June 30, 2023.
Student Board Member Lea Nepomuceno will be a senior at Scripps Ranch High School this fall, while fellow Student Board Member Matthew Quitoriano will be a sophomore at San Diego High School.
In a May election, Nepomuceno and Quitoriano received the most votes among ten student candidates. Over 3,000 ballots were submitted by fellow high school students across the San Diego Unified School District.
“Through chairing the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee on Racial Justice and Equity, I’ve witnessed first-hand the incredible youth-led initiatives and programs across our school district,” Nepomuceno said. “As a Student Board Member, I aim to align the quality of opportunity for students to explore, discover, and amplify passion without limitation.”
“I want my legacy to be of change, of reform, and of justice,” Quitoriano said. “This position is the best place where I can turn that idea into a reality.”
Since 2019, the Board has included one high school student representative. In April, the Board voted to add a second student representative as a way to expand equitable representation, as well as align with potential changes to state law to ensure an odd-numbered school board.
To further increase diversity among Student Board Members in this year’s and future student elections, at least one candidate must attend a school where at least 60 percent of the student population is eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals.
Zachary Patterson, a recent graduate of University City High School, ends his Board tenure on June 30. Patterson was the first student Board representative in the district’s history, initially elected in October 2019. Patterson will be a freshman at Duke University in the fall.
“The promise of a high-quality public education for every student is only fully realized when we choose to truly value the voice of education’s primary stakeholders – students,” said Patterson, who focused much of his attention on student mental health during his time on the Board. “I am most proud of my work on prioritizing the mental health and well-being of students and ensuring every student receives mental health education before graduation.”
In addition to attending Board meetings and other duties, Student Board Members:
- Represent all students and facilitate the discussion of all sides of issues. This duty does not preclude Student Board Members from stating their individual opinion.
- Provide continuing input for board deliberations.
- Strengthen communication between the Board and district students.
“Including the perspective of a student representative on the San Diego Unified School Board has been an incredible benefit to the district over the past three years,” said Board President Dr. Sharon Whitehurst-Payne. “We’re happy to not only continue the position but expand it, and we thank Zachary Patterson for his great contribution as San Diego Unified’s first Student Board Member.”