LOS ANGELES — Culver City Unified School district is home to the youngest member ever elected in LA County history. Triston Ezidore, 19, is also the only Black male ever elected to the school board.
He joined the “Inside the Issues” host Alex Cohen to talk about this role and his vision for improving the school experience.
Ezidore said his time as a student in the Culver City district initially inspired him to run.
“I got my start in local advocacy in government as senior class president for the Culver City High School senior class,” he said. “[In] the wake of George Floyd, when I think we really saw this uptick in young people coming to local government and demanding that their elected officials hear them and legislate with them in mind.”
When it came time to decide about running for a spot on the school board, Ezidore thought a fresh perspective was needed.
“There were three seats open out of five that could set the tone of the district for generations to come,” he said.
Earlier this month, the board unanimously passed Ezidore’s “Black Student Achievement Plan Resolution.”
It comes at a crucial time. New data from California’s education funding model shows Black students have been academically behind for the last decade.
“We didn’t need the numbers to know that we were failing our Black kids,” said Ezidore.
Culver City Unified School district is one of the most diverse in the state and Ezidore thinks it was time that the district brought forth actionable steps to help the Black students.
“What this resolution does is it holds us accountable. We're saying that by May we will fully have a Black Student Achievement Plan to go into effect in the 2023-2024 school year and for the rest of the school years to come,” he said.
Ezidore also addressed recent fights that have taken place on campuses in the district that called parents to protest over concerns of student safety.
“I think that what we all know is that school fights are not something that is unique to Culver City, but it is something that we must address to the fullest extent.”
Some parents are calling for blanket exclusions, but Ezidore said that may not always be the best practice.
“I think that what the district is saying, and I know definitely what I’m saying, is that we are committed to our vision to address the whole child approach and to have a blanket statement wouldn’t be doing that,” he said. “There’s a bunch of systemic issues that lead to students behaving in these undesirable behaviors and I think that we ought to address that at the root.”
In a letter to the CCUSD community, Board President Paula Amezola issued an apology to “families who are experiencing this harm,” and said the board is “being intentional about creating systems that will interrupt it immediately.”
The letter also detailed steps that are being taken to improve campus safety, including “Adding staff to supervise students before school, during passing periods, lunches, and after school.”
Ezidore said he feels voters put him in office to make sure the district’s policies are looked at through a racial and social justice lens.
“I think that we've seen the power of the pen and we've seen quite frankly, through history, that when people aren't legislating with the power of the pen in mind, it's always been at the expense of black and brown communities. And we're here to say that that's not okay in Culver City,” he said.
The young school board member said he is often asked about his long-term political career, but is said he is focusing on his current role.
“Right now, what I’m really focused on is how we can deliver the best that we can in the four years that we have to the students, families, faculty and staff of this great district. And then if I’m called to serve, in another capacity, then we’ll address that when that call happens.”
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