The Saugus Union School District Governing Board selected Patricia Garibay on Wednesday, Oct. 25 to fill the vacant Trustee Area 1 seat previously held by Cassandra Love.
Love, elected to the governing board in 2022, resigned her seat effective Oct. 2 due to an unexpected illness in her family.
Garibay was selected unanimously by the four remaining members of the board, Board President, Trustee Area 3 Katherine Cooper, Trustee Area 2 Anna Griese, Trustee Area 4 Matthew Watson and Trustee Area 5 Christopher Trunkey.
The board choose to appoint a replacement for Love rather than hold a speical election that would have cost the district approximately $16,000.
Garibay’s seat will be on the ballot in the November 2024 election for a two-year term, expiring in 2026, the date Love’s original term would have expired.
The Assistant Director of Community Development with the city of Lancaster, Garibay currently serves as president of the Bridgeport Elementary PTA. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration.
Married, she is the mother of two children attending elementary school in the Saugus district.
Garibay was selected by the board after the first of two planned rounds of questions during the board meeting. Questions asked of all candidates included knowledge of the role of a governing board member, understanding of a school district’s budget, where the district has the most room for improvement and what should be the focus of the Saugus district.
“I am interested in the school board member position because my children are students in the school district and are directly impacted by the decisions that are made,” Garibay wrote in her application statement. “In addition, my family made Santa Clarita our home because of the outstanding reputation of the local schools. It would be my goal to work with the school board members and superintendent to continue providing quality education to all of the students at our local schools.”
Six candidates applied for the board opening. The other candidates and their candidate statements included:
A board-certified psychiatrist and father of two, Dr. Aakash Ahuja hopes to act as a voice for other parents in the face of an ever-changing digital landscape.
“I believe every kid, irrespective of race, religion, skin color, or country of origin, should have access to the best possible academic education and tools to develop critical thinking and strong moral character,” Aakash wrote in his application. “My daughter and son are currently in school, and through them, I learn daily what practical situations and issues they face that potentially can hinder their progress, and together as a family, we come up with solutions.”
Cody Jacobs is intimately familiar with the workings of the SUSD, not only as a former student but as a professional General Education Behavior Specialist who started his career within its classrooms.
Now as an employee of Santa Barbara Unified School District, Jacobs has years of active involvement with the Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) in Santa Clarita, SELPA provides vital support to special education parents, students, and educators, according to the organizations’ website.
“Saugus isn’t just a location; it’s where our roots are, where our families raised us, and where we want to create our life and build our family. It’s a place we hold dear, and so, we felt a strong calling to actively shape the kind of community we want for our family. Remarkably, the opportunity to serve on the school board came at a time when my skills and passion perfectly align with community development.
An attorney of 18 years, Kevin Kim has worked on two coasts and understands the struggle of juggling multiple responsibilities as well as the importance of clear communication.
As both a professional and a parent, Kim is heavily involved in community outreach, participating in school activities and coaching multiple seasons of the Santa Clarita Youth Baseball (SCYB) and Santa Clarita Recreational Basketball leagues. Kim also acts as an occasional legal advisor for the SCYB.
Kim is the father of three children, two of whom currently attend SUSD schools.
“Classrooms should be a place where it is safe to have discussions, where people of various backgrounds and beliefs should feel safe to send their children, and our children can learn from the different viewpoints needed for them to succeed in this world,” Kim wrote.
A longtime Santa Clarita resident, Jacqueline Stroh has lived in the Santa Clarita Valley since 1969. A stay-at-home parent, Stroh also owned a scrapbook retreat business for over two decades.
As a part of her involvement in the community, Stroh ran the Valencia High School volleyball canteen for five years while her daughters were students.
Stroh is mother to two grown daughters who attended the Saugus Union School District.
“I am excited about the opportunity for personal growth but more importantly, I believe that raising children today is more challenging than ever before. It will take an ongoing commitment from all parents (even those with grown kids) to help today’s youth successfully navigate their childhood years,” Stroh wrote.
A licensed Speech Language Pathologist with over 25 years of experience, Kathleen Walker has worked with children and young adults her entire career.
Walker is a mother to two children, an elementary student and a college freshman.
“As both a parent and an adult who has dedicated her career to working in special education, I believe I will lend a unique voice and point of view to the governance team,” Walker wrote.