2022 CUSD Board candidate profiles: Kathryn Dunn

by Mick Rhodes | editor@claremont-courier.com

Kathryn Dunn may be a newcomer to Claremont politics but make no mistake: she is among a handful of residents who knows the city inside and out, and, of course, as a former longtime COURIER editor, has deep familiarity with the inner workings of civic life in Claremont.

Dunn, 53, a lifelong Claremonter, will no doubt tap into that deep well of knowledge when she takes office December 15 on Claremont Unified School District’s Board of Education, representing Trustee Area 1. She is running unopposed in the November 8 election.

First though, some housekeeping: each of the COURIER’s profiles for city council and CUSD Board candidates have thus far included video and still photography. (Our Three Valleys Municipal Water District profiles were print only.) While Dunn would have agreed to an in-person, on camera interview, life got in the way in the form of her mother Jackie Dunn’s passing on October 7.

“I am certain my tenure on the CUSD Board of Education will be guided by my mother’s spirit — one built on strength, integrity, and courage — as I serve the community under her protective light,” Dunn wrote in her email response to our questions.

With all that said, the following is the result of our email exchange.

“My desire to serve on the CUSD school board is motivated by my deep commitment to better engagement between the district and residents of Claremont,” Dunn wrote. “My lifelong residency, experience as a CUSD parent and my work as editor of the local newspaper demonstrates my dedication to our community and underscores my ability to work collaboratively with our superintendent and fellow school board members to see that our district remains financially stable, that our policies are inclusive and that our teachers have the materials and systems in place to help our students succeed.”

Since leaving the COURIER Dunn has established her own marketing and communications management firm. She works on large-scale event planning, writing and proofreading internal and external communications, social media, and website content creation and updates. Her clients include the Claremont Village Marketing Group, the City of Glendora Business Improvement District, Claremont Graduate University and The Rembrandt Club of Claremont at Pomona College.

She is a 1987 Claremont High School graduate and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of La Verne in public administration. Her two sons are both recent CHS grads as well, and she has recent firsthand experience navigating both general and special education within CUSD.

“It is my goal to work cooperatively with teachers and administrators to provide ample programs for all types of students and needs, including protecting our distinctively unique elementary schools, offering robust programs like AVID, Advanced Placement and the International Baccalaureate, and preserving extra-curricular options from sports to music to theater,” she wrote. “As the mother of an adult child with autism, a top priority in my tenure will be to advocate for learners who may not thrive from conventional teaching practices.”

Dunn told the COURIER she will be open and receptive to community input from “all quarters.”

“The city of Claremont is an integral part of who I am as a person,” she wrote. “Our collective conscience is driven by partnership and ethical decision-making. I look forward to joining my colleagues on the CUSD Board to see that our public school system policies reflect our community’s values and that we efficiently work within the scope of the vision statement already adopted by the board of education.”

The CUSD Board received some criticism over a perceived lack of transparency in April when it fired former superintendent Jeff Wilson and re-hired his predecessor Jim Elsasser. We asked Dunn her thoughts on the matter, and government transparency in general.

“As a journalist, my commitment to open government practices will provide a framework for equitable and fair adoption of policies,” she wrote. “During my tenure, I will commit to assisting stakeholders in receiving information from the district and work to make the CUSD board room a welcoming environment for constituents when they deliver public comment. I will strive to reach consensus when possible and to take a respectful, even-handed approach when the time comes for tough decisions.”

Dunn’s take on whether the criticism was warranted was even handed.

“While I support transparency whenever possible, I do not believe CUSD is required to share specific details regarding employee reprimand, dismissal or exiting,” she wrote. “As frustrating as it might seem, employees who work at public agencies and particularly those who are unionized, are afforded protection and privacy regarding employment matters. Without insider knowledge, my personal perception as an observer is that the previous superintendent may simply not have been an organizational match, and the timing was right for Jim Elsasser to return. I am not convinced the adjustment was nefarious in nature and I offer Dr. Elsasser a warm welcome back to CUSD.”

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