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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

New School Board Member Adrienne Mullen Brings College, Work Force Focus

Adrienne Ann Mullen, chosen by the Pasadena Unified Board Saturday to fill its District 3 seat left vacant by Tyron Hampton’s election to the City Council, is a community college dean who has been an educator for 25 years and is the mother of four.

“I wanted to be part of the team that leads the district and brings schools together. One of the most important jobs that a community has is to educate their young people and make sure that they’re college ready and work force ready,” Mullen said.

The past 13 years Mullen has worked for Los Angeles Community College District, currently as Dean of Adult Education. She has resided in Pasadena for 17 years and has taught in the past at Pacific Oaks College.

Mullen’s youngest daughter participates in the dual immersion Mandarin language program at Field Elementary School. She also has a seventh grader enrolled in Marshall Fundamental High School and two recent graduates of Marshall.

Mullen said her family enjoys feeling at home in the “small town feel” of Pasadena where they often bump into friends at the supermarket or their favorite restaurants.

“I think that Pasadena Unified is a good district, we have strong students and strong programs and I wanted to be a part of that,” Mullen said.

Mullen said she wanted to see the district on financially “solid ground.”

“Education is coming off a rollercoaster of funding in California. Right now the funding is going up the ramp, but it could easily dip back down,” Mullen said.

Both Board of Education President Elizabeth Pomeroy and board member Scott Phelps spoke highly of Mullen’s background in adult education with hopes of better connecting the high schools in Pasadena with community colleges in the area.

With the Board’s current efforts to create high school students with dual enrollment at Pasadena City College – including a satellite campus at John Muir High school – Mullen brings a fitting specialized expertise to the board, they said.

“We chose Adrienne because her range of experience and skills were really the best of the applicants. And since she lives in that area she will be representing whoever lives in that area, all the income levels,” Pomeroy said.

In a school district where the Latino population totals 58.7% according to 2014 statistics, some questioned why one of the three eligible Latino applicants was not chosen to fill the vacant seat.

“The board ignored the fact that PUSD and particularly District 3 is now predominantly Latino. We need a Latino board member who can relate to this growing population of students,” said Ruben Hueso, a Los Angeles teacher and Pasadena parent who ran for the District 3 seat in 2013.

“Clearly, based on Saturday’s results, having a Latino On the school Board is not a priority for the current Board members. They don’t understand the disconnect that is occurring in the Spanish speaking population,” he said.

Hueso believes Saturday’s process favored some candidates over others.

“We can’t afford to ignore our Latino constituents. We are already paying a heavy price by sending them to prison and having them drop out of school,” Hueso said.

Board member Scott Phelps chose Mullen over the other candidates because she shared his views in making data based decisions and had an overarching understanding of the budget.

Several of the interviewees, he said, had the perspective of one employee group rather than somebody who thinks about all priorities. Suggestions to specifically increase funding for teachers or special education may come at a cost to classroom size or a decrease in services elsewhere, Phelps said.

“It’s a totality thing. Adrienne has my point of view to fund everything as best we can and not fund one thing at the expense of another,” Phelps said.

Phelps, said his decision depended on how each applicant answered the interview questions.

“The Constitution prevents us from using race. We can’t say it has to be a Latino or it has to be an African American. We have to go with everything that person brings to the table,” Phelps said.

Mullen will serve until the current term expires in 2017.

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