An Albemarle County parent is seeking the Rivanna District seat on the School Board.
Judy Le, a former journalist and current managing editor of the University of Virginia’s alumni magazine, said she wants to concentrate on tackling achievement gaps, expanding access to the division’s afterschool program and recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers.
So far, three people, including Le, have filed paperwork for the Rivanna seat being vacated by Jason Buyaki. The other candidates are Juliana Arsali and Nina Kaplan. The filing deadline for School Board candidates is Tuesday.
Le has a son attending Hollymead Elementary. She has not sought office before, but she said she’s been looking for ways to serve the community since moving to the area four years ago. She previously worked at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk for 16 years.
Le said she brings a unique perspective to education issues as a working parent and first-generation American. Her family fled Vietnam in 1975, as Saigon fell.
“They achieved the American Dream,” she said of her family. “I want to make sure that other kids have that opportunity. And they don’t [right now].”
The events of August 2017 and how the community responded motivated Le to run for office.
“That opened my eyes,” she said. “... I realized that we all have to be working on these issues together … We need to do what we can to make some of these problems better.”
Le said she would like county students to have more diverse teachers. She grew up in Iowa and said she never had a teacher who looked liked her.
“Diverse teachers help all students learn and grow,” she said.
Le has been researching division data as she begins her campaign. She said she was surprised by the division’s wide achievement gap.
In 2017-18, only about half of black and Hispanic students passed the reading and math tests. More than 80% of white students did so.
That year, 96.1% of white students graduated on time while 89.5% of black students and 76% of Hispanic students did so.
Le currently serves on the board of the Literacy Volunteers of Charlottesville/Albemarle. She said her time with the organization has helped her to understand the work of a board.
Two other magisterial districts — Scottsville and White Hall — and the at-large seat also will be on the ballot in November.
Ellen Moore Osborne, executive director of Literacy Volunteers, is running for the Scottsville seat and current White Hall representative David Oberg is seeking a second term. Board Chairman Jonno Alcaro, the at-large member, also is running for re-election.
All school board candidates in Virginia run as independents.