DUSD Board of Education

Our Philosophy 

The DUSD Board of Education believes that:

  1. Education is a lifelong process of learning and living and our schools are dedicated to the challenge of providing the opportunity for individuals both youth and adult to gain the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to work and live successfully and to assume the responsibilities inherent in a democratic society.
  2. Students must be prepared to encounter the daily challenges of the present diverse, multicultural environment and to resolve the constantly changing problems of their future. Not only is education charged with preparing the student to meet life as he/she finds it, but it must inspire him/her positively and morally to affect and improve the world itself.
DUSD Board of Education Trustee Area Map

Board of Education Trustee Area Map. To view a larger map, click here.

How will we accomplish our goals?

The Board of Education believes this can best be accomplished by establishing educational programs within each emphasis will be placed upon the following:

  1. Provide opportunities for all students to become competent with basic subject matter areas by:
    1. Gaining the necessary information and tools by which they can learn and develop the skills of communication–listening, speaking, reading, writing, and spelling.
    2. Learning to handle abstract and concrete concepts in mathematics and science, with a realization of how this knowledge may be applied to daily living, and how to apply these tools to drawing conclusions.
    3. Involvement in the experiences needed to develop skill in the fine and practical arts with emphasis on potential creativeness, inventiveness, and originality.
    4. Having meaningful experiences that will develop a basic understanding of our nation’s and the world’s economic structure.
    5. Developing skills in the use of tools and machines and an understanding of the role of machines and technology in mankind’s present and future.
  2. Individuals should be taught by precept and example to respect authority and to understand that they, too, may someday be in positions of authority, and that respect must be earned and given by:
    1. Teaching individuals to be tolerant of their fellowman and to respect the rights, dignity, and worth of the individual and his/her property.
    2. Developing within each person the insights to interpersonal relationships which are needed to live harmoniously with others with respect for their rights.
    3. Encouraging in each student a high standard of honesty and morality.
    4. Developing in each student an intellectual curiosity and the ability to experience the joy of discovery.
  3. Enable all students to develop themselves to the ultimate of their potential in a district which will be a model for a just and equitable society.
  4. Develop an understanding and appreciation of the culture, responsibilities, and heritage of our democratic society which will be reflected by
    1. A deep sense of pride in our American heritage.
    2. A devotion to the country in which we live.
    3. A sound belief in the advantages and opportunities of a democracy.
    4. A belief in the destiny of our country as an example of a world leader in a free society.

In this dynamic world these goals of the Downey Unified School District will be reevaluated continually for their worth. Only to the extent that each person achieves these present goals and develops the ability to adjust to the goals and circumstances of tomorrow’s world will the home and the agencies of society, including the schools, have achieved their purpose.

Further, the Board conceives of the District as being a cooperative enterprise in which home, church, school, and other community forces all share in the educational development of individuals. In these, our community schools, the Board of Education urges all parents and citizens to become its partners.

The Board of Education accepts the responsibility delegated by the community at large to commit the human and material resources necessary to implement an educational program designed to achieve the curricular, instructional, and managerial expectancies as stated within a framework defined by the adopted Philosophy of Education.

Board of Education Members

Mark Morris

D. Mark Morris
President

Trustee Area 6
12/2015–12/2020

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D. Mark Morris has been on the Downey Unified School District Board of Education since 1982. He has served as President of the Board of Education six times. He also is a member of the California School Board Association and the Los Angeles County School Boards Association. He was inducted into the Downey High School Hall of Fame and has a campus building named in his honor.

Mark’s community service includes past membership on the City of Downey Community Services Commission, the Water Board, the Redevelopment Project Area Committee, the Cerritos College Advisory Board and was the founding President of the Alumni Association.

 He is currently a member of the Boy Scouts and has been a Scoutmaster, Explorer Advisor, President of the Frontier District and was a Silver Beaver Awardee. He is also a member of PTA and is active in his church, having served a two-year mission.

Mark is a lifelong resident of Downey and graduate of Downey High School. He holds an Associate of Arts degree from Cerritos Community College, a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Fullerton and a Juris Doctorate degree from Western State University College of Law. He also speaks Spanish fluently.

Mark retired from the City of Downey as a Housing Planner after 28 years. He also worked six years for the cities of Norwalk, Paramount and Alhambra. Mark is married to his wife Pam, a teacher, for 45 years. They have six children who have all attended Downey Unified schools and four grandchildren.

Barbara Samperi

Barbara R. Samperi
Vice President

Trustee Area 7
12/2017–12/2022

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Barbara (Bobbie) R. Samperi was raised in Downey, California, and attended Downey Unified School District schools. Bobbie met her husband, Daryl, in high school and they have been married since 1972.

The Samperi’s two sons were both raised and schooled in Downey. While the children were growing up, Bobbie was very involved in their education.

From the time Bobbie’s first son started pre-school, Bobbie immersed herself in this cooperative learning environment. She served in many positions in the six years her sons attended Downey Playschool, including the last two years as president. Bobbie has been an active member of Downey Council PTA, Alameda School PTA, Ward School PTA, South (Sussman) Middle School PTA, and Downey High School PTSA. Bobbie has served on many District Ad Hoc committees, including elementary and middle school report card revisions and boundary changes. She served on the City of Downey Community Services Commission for 15 years. She also served on the City/Cal Trans I-105 freeway committee for many years.

Due to the increasing safety problems to school-aged children by the construction of the I-105 freeway and the many changes taking place in our schools, Bobbie decided to run for a seat on the Downey Unified School District Board of Education. She has been a member of the Board of Education since 1993. Bobbie works very hard to maintain our community values and high educational standards and is helping to continue to ensure the future of thousands of Downey students.

Martha Sodetani

Martha E. Sodetani
Clerk

Trustee Area 1
12/2017–12/2022

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Martha E. Sodetani has served on the Board since 2005, has been a resident of Downey for many years and actively involved in the Downey community.

She was past President of the Gangs Out of Downey (GOOD), past President of the Assistance League of Downey and Thirty-third District Executive PTA Foster Children Chairman. Martha is a member of the PTA HELPS Food Distribution Board, Downey Coordinating Council, CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, Downey Sister Cities, GOOD and the Assistance League of Downey.

She has been honored four times by the City of Downey with the Mayor’s Distinguished Citizen Award, the most recent being the Healthy Heart Award in April 2017, and was also named Soroptimist Woman of the Year. Martha has received the PTA’s highest honor, the Golden Oak Award. Other awards for volunteer work in the community include Certificates of Appreciation, Volunteer of the Year Awards, and Woman of the Year nominations from the State Legislature, Los Angeles County, City of Downey, Assistance League and the Downey City Library.

Martha has six children through the magic of biological and adoptive means.

Martha formerly delivered mandated training courses at Community Colleges for prospective foster and adoptive parents in Los Angeles County.  She serves on the Foster/Kinship Care Curriculum Advisory Committee at both Cerritos and Long Beach Community Colleges.

Martha feels there is nothing more rewarding than spending time with or in the pursuit of serving children. This has been evidenced in her calling over the years as a foster parent to medically fragile newborns, touching their lives one child at a time. She now feels privileged to be in a position to serve the District’s 22,000 plus children and feels that every child deserves the best education to be college and career ready after graduation!

Giovanna Saab

Giovanna Perez-Saab
Member

Trustee Area 3
12/2018–12/2020

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Giovanna “Giggy” Perez-Saab has been a proud member of the Board of Education for the Downey Unified School District representing Trustee Area 3 since 2018. She rapidly immersed herself into attending many Downey Unified school events, programs, and activities where she quickly connected with Downey Unified’s students, staff and families.  Mrs. Perez-Saab serves on the Audit and Enrollment committees for the district and is also a member of the Los Angeles County School Boards Association and the California School Board Association (CSBA), where she completed her Master of Governance certification.

Mrs. Perez-Saab grew up in Miami, Florida and moved to Downey to start her family.  She has been married to her husband, Alex Saab, for 15 years and has three children: Dominic, Gianna and Alexander.  As she has been an active volunteer in different organizations most of her life, she has chosen to exemplify and demonstrate what volunteerism and commitment to one’s community should be and hopes her children will follow her path to help others. Mrs. Perez-Saab has actively served on her son’s PTA Board at Rio San Gabriel Elementary, has been selected as the Chairperson of her children’s School Site Council and continues to be an active classroom parent. She is also involved with Downey Unified’s new Global Language Academies of Downey (GLAD) at Carpenter Elementary where her daughter is attending.  Mrs. Perez-Saab is also involved in her children’s extracurricular activities, as she supports them with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America.

Mrs. Perez-Saab is a graduate from Florida International University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.  She is a certified Substitute Teacher, licensed Real Estate Agent and certified Yoga Instructor. Ms. Perez-Saab worked with Sandals and Beaches Resorts as their Spa and Fitness Corporate Manager and Public Events Coordinator and has traveled throughout the Caribbean.  She was also a top Pharmaceutical Sales Professional for Schering-Plough and Adeza Biomedical, where she was ranked in the top 5% of the country.

Mrs. Perez-Saab serves on several community organizations that assist families through service, fundraising and scholarships.  She has served as President of Soroptimist International of Downey with the goal to Educate, Encourage and Empower Soroptimist members and those within the community through many hands-on service projects and scholarships both locally and internationally.  She is a member of the Assistance League of Downey and actively assists with Operation School Bell Service Project and acts as a puppeteer with Kids on the Block, a program established to educate school-aged children on important issues they encounter.  Mrs. Perez-Saab also serves as Co-Chairperson on the Downey YMCA Board as well as the YMCA Membership Committee where they strengthen communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.  She has served on the Supervisory Committee of the Downey Federal Credit Union (DFCU) to help serve members and has participated in DFCU’s annual Feeding Children Everywhere Food Packing and Steam Festival events.  She received several awards including the Red Triangle Award for outstanding service to the Downey YMCA and to the community, the Kiwanis Int’l Foundation’s George. F. Hixon Fellowship Award and the Soroptimist Women of Distinction Award.

Jose Rodriguez

Jose J. Rodriguez
Member

Trustee Area 2
12/2020–12/2024

Linda Salomon Saldana

Linda Salomon Saldaña
Member

Trustee Area 4
12/2020–12/2024

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Linda Salomon Saldaña joined the Downey Unified School Board of Trustees in November of 2020.  Her three children currently attend DUSD schools; Warren High School, Griffiths Middle School and Price Elementary School.  

Linda began her journey volunteering with Downey Unified in 2013 at Price Elementary.  She served as the PTA Reflections Chairs, Room Parent, PTA President, Vice President and Parliamentarian.  She has served on the Local Control Accountability Plan Committee (LCAP – District budget oversite) as the school representative and on the English Language Learner Committee (ELAC). 

In 2016, Linda founded the Downey Foundation for Educational Opportunities (DFEO) with the help of committed community members and DUSD alumni.  DFEO is the non-profit education foundation dedicated to serving the students of Downey Unified with a focus on the Arts, College Prep and Health & Fitness through afterschool programming and during school opportunities such as 5th grade science camp.  Recently Linda has stepped down as Executive Director of the Foundation to serve on the Board of Trustees for DUSD. 

Linda was born and raised in Montebello, California.  Her mother was an elementary school teacher, her father, a business owner and Vietnam War Veteran.  Upon graduating from Schurr High School, Linda attended UCLA then transferred to USC, where she graduated from the School of Journalism.  Following an internship with the KTLA Morning News, Linda was hired at KCBS News Los Angeles and then KNBC-NBC4LA, working her way up to Producer.   In 2000, Linda decided to take a position as Director of Communications for LAUSD’s Facilities Division, who at the time was working on a $2.4 billion local bond (Prop BB) building project.  She returned to local news as a Special Projects Producer for Telemundo 52 KVEA/KNBC where she won two Emmys and a Golden Mic for investigative reports. 

Married in 2001 to her husband Refugio, they moved to Downey to begin their lives together.  As business owners and parents, they have been involved with several City of Downey organizations such as Northwest Downey Little League, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Downey Rose Float Association and attend Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish.  Linda was awarded the City of Downey Servant Heart’s Award in 2019 and has received the PTA Honorary Servant Award twice.    

Nancy Swenson

Nancy A. Swenson
Member

Trustee Area 5
12/2017–12/2022

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Nancy A. Swenson has been a member of the Board of Education since 2005. As a Board member, she has been a very hands-on member of various teams. Nancy has been a member of both the Budget and Audit committees, as well as members of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition and the Late Start Committee. Because of her passion for getting technology into the hands of teachers and students, she has been on the Technology five-year planning team and was the Board of Education’s representative on the Common Core Coalition transition team. Nancy has coordinated several visits between Raytheon engineers and some of the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) engineering students. She attends many after school functions that include: music and drama presentations, back-to-school nights, open houses, student awards, and Trunks & Treats events (where you can occasionally see her dressed up and handing out treats). She annually visits school sites while classes are in session, participates in Read Across America events at various schools, and coordinates and participates in annual student interviews for the Mary R. Stauffer Foundation scholarships. She truly enjoys interacting with the students and staff.

Nancy is a very active volunteer away from her role as Board member. She spends many hours supporting the Mary R. Stauffer Foundation, where she holds the position of Chief Operation Officer. She has been a member of the Assistance League of Downey Gypsy Johnson Auxiliary since 2010. As a Gypsy, she has held the position of Chairperson for two years and has been the Operation School Bell Gypsy chairperson for the past four years. She is also currently the assistant treasurer for the Gypsy auxiliary. Nancy is also a member of Downey Symphony Guild, Sister Cities Association and has been a member of Gangs Out of Downey (G.O.O.D.) since 2005. She has received the Soroptimist Distinguished Woman award and was one of the inductees into the first Warren High School Hall of Fame. Nancy was even appointed to the inaugural Green Team for the City of Downey.

As a Board of Education member, Nancy has always been driven to do the best she can to see that all children in Downey have an equal opportunity for an optimum education in a safe, learning environment that provides all students with college and career readiness skills. She is so honored to be a part of the Downey Unified Board of Education and to have the opportunity to give back to a community that has given so much to her family.

Nancy has been a resident of Downey for almost 40 years and is a graduate of Warren High School. She earned an A.A. degree from Cerritos Community College as a Computer Programming Analyst and continued on to earn a B.S. in Business Administration:  Computer Information Systems, with Honors, from California State University at Dominguez Hills; this was accomplished by attending night classes as she worked full-time to support her family.

Nancy has two children who also attended Downey Unified schools and graduated from Warren High School. She volunteered her time while both her children were active in the Downey Little League and supported them as members of local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts groups. Nancy tutored high school students in Algebra and even helped set up and operate the first computers for neighborhood family members and friends. Her daughter was an Assisteen within the Assistance League of Downey and is now a Downey Unified elementary school teacher. Her son was on the football team at Warren High and currently oversees several warehouses for a logistics company in Carson, Calif., where he is a supervisor.

Nancy recently retired from Raytheon Systems in the Space and Airborne Systems division after 28 years. Over the course of her employment at Raytheon (previously Hughes and GM/Hughes) there were several reorganizations. She was often called upon to lead and/or participate on many teams related to financial changes and process alignment. Her daily responsibility were to supervise various teams that were responsible for ordering and tracking an annual multi-million dollar budget for equipment and software in support of the West Coast operations.

 

2020-21 Board of Education Goals

Implementation of a rigorous Distance Learning program that supports the academic and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) needs of all students.

Downey Unified will maintain the strong fiscal position that our District has achieved through the deliberate management and strategic oversight of state funding realities. Continue to use and refine Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and Federal Funding resources to implement the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) enabling students to reach their full potential.

Downey Unified will continue to enhance Districtwide parent engagement opportunities through parent academies, workshops and the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) process. Continue to partner with all parent advisory groups in building parent capacity and leadership that includes enhancing parent outreach communication through full implementation of the DUSD online app, social media, and site websites.

Downey Unified will implement Career Technical Education (CTE) grant plans for Career Technical Education Incentive Grant (CTEIG), K12 Strong Workforce Program (K12 SWP), and Carl Perkins V. The focus will be on best practices that strengthen the sustainability through further development and implementation of essential pathway elements in the Elementary, Middle School, and High School segments.

In an effort to reach Downey Unified’s goal of 23,000 students by 2021, we will increase marketing and public communication efforts, successfully implement the Global Language Academies of Downey (GLAD) initiative and utilize the enrollment growth committee to generate and implement additional innovative programs at the elementary and secondary levels; including before and after school care and extended learning options for projected implementation upon students physical return to schools.

Board and Superintendent Operating Procedures and Protocols

Purpose

The Board of Education is the educational policy-making body for the District. To meet the District’s challenges effectively, the Board and Superintendent must function together as a leadership team. To ensure unity among team members, effective operating procedures, or protocols, must be in place. There are general protocols and those that are specific for the Board and Superintendent.

The Board and Superintendent will:

  • Be dedicated to make all other members of the team successful.
  • Operate in an honorable and honest manner dedicated to the success of the students and staff of the District.
  • Be treated with dignity and respect.
our kids deserve the best
Board Member Protocols

Board Members will:

  • Work with members of the Board and the Superintendent to become a governing board devoted to students.
    Focus on policy-making, planning and evaluation for student success.
  • Recognize that the Board makes decisions as a whole only at properly scheduled meetings and that individual members have no authority to take individual action in policy or District and campus administrative matters.
  • Respect and honor the right of individual members to express opposing viewpoints and vote their convictions.
  • Attend regularly scheduled Board meetings unless a situation occurs that makes attendance impossible.
  • Cooperate in scheduling Special meetings and/or work sessions for planning and training purposes.
  • Acknowledge that two Board Members must agree before an item is placed on a meeting agenda and honor the “no surprises” rule in regards to said item. Individual requests for reports, projects, etc., will be directed only to the Superintendent.
  • Uphold the legal requirement for confidentiality on all matters arising from Board Meeting closed sessions; will keep all conversations taking place in closed session absolutely confidential.
  • Recognize and respect the Superintendent’s responsibility to manage the District and to direct employees in District and campus matters.
  • Understand the Superintendent’s role to make personnel recommendations and changes in consultation with the Board.
  • Participate in establishing annual expectations and goals for the Superintendent.
  • Objectively evaluate the Superintendent’s performance and provide appropriate feedback.
  • Participate in self-assessment of the Board’s performance.
  • Communicate directly with the Superintendent when staff, students, parents, or community members raise a question or concern.
  • Communicate directly with the Superintendent prior to Board Meetings to address questions and/or concerns about agenda items; honor the “no surprises” rule.
  • Communicate one-on-one with the Superintendent when an individual concern arises; will not allow a matter to fester.
  • Cast a vote on all matters except when a conflict of interest arises.
  • Recognize the individual role of constituents and special interest groups while understanding the importance of using one’s best judgment to represent members of the community.
  • As time permits, visit school sites and attend school functions, but avoid interrupting instruction or interrupting employees at work.
  • Represent the District, when possible, by attending community functions.
Superintendent Protocols

Superintendent will:

  • Work toward creating a team with the Board dedicated to students.
  • Respect and acknowledge the Board’s role in setting policy and overseeing the performance of the Superintendent.
  • Work with the Board to establish a clear vision for the District.
  • Prepare preliminary goals annually for the Board’s consideration.
  • Provide data to the Board Members so data-driven decisions can be made.
  • Have a working knowledge of all legal and local policies.
  • Make personnel recommendations and changes in consultation with the Board.
  • Inform the Board prior to critical information becoming public.
  • Distribute information fully and equally to all Board Members.
  • Communicate with Board Members promptly and effectively.
  • Distribute the Board Agenda in a timely fashion and with enough time for Board study, and clarify information prior to scheduled meetings.
  • Respect the confidentiality requirement of Board Meeting closed sessions; keep all conversations taking place in closed session strictly confidential.
  • Treat all Board Members professionally.
  • Communicate with individual Board Members to determine if concerns exist prior to a possible problem developing.
  • Conduct a self-assessment prior to the Board’s evaluation of the Superintendent’s job performance.
  • Bring to the attention of the Board matters that affect relationships.
  • Visit school campuses regularly.
  • Represent the District by being visible in the community.