First published in the Oct. 8 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
The South Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education plans to appoint someone to hold Suzie Abajian’s soon-to-be-vacant position on the panel through at least 2022, when that seat and three others will be up for election.
The election for Abajian’s post will effectively be for a two-year stint, keeping it on schedule for a 2024 contest that will be for the typical four years. Whoever is appointed as the interim board member may indeed retain the seat should he or she seek and win election in 2022.
The school board made the decision at a special meeting Tuesday. Abajian, who was first elected to the board in 2015 and was re-elected handily a year ago, is vacating her position next week because she is moving out of South Pasadena, necessitating the replacement planning.
“On behalf of the South Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education, we express our sincerest gratitude for the countless hours of service given by Dr. Suzie Abajian during the past six years in her role as a school board member,” said board President Ruby Kalra in a statement. “The students, families, faculty and staff have benefited from her thoughtful approach to public education in this community, including her advocacy for a more inclusive culture and curriculum, support for significant growth and facilities development and assistance in aligning safety and social-emotional initiatives for our students during the pandemic.”
Eligibility requirements for serving on the board include being at least 18, having California and district residency, being a registered voter and not being barred by law from holding civil office.
Those interested in the job will have until 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, to submit their applications. The school board will interview candidates at a special meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 2, and plans to make the appointment at its next regular meeting, on Tuesday, Nov. 9.
The position will appear on next year’s ballots alongside those currently held by Kalra, Michele Kipke and Zahir Robb, although since the SPUSD is planning to adopt a district-based system to replace its long-standing at-large system, voters won’t choose from one pool of candidates as they used to. Given that Abajian’s position would be up for just two years rather than four, it’s unlikely its candidates would have appeared in the same pool as the others anyway.
Application forms can be found on the district’s website at spusd.net and should be emailed to Sylvia Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org. Carroll can also be contacted for additional questions at (626) 441-5810, ext. 1100.