Chino Valley Unified School

District board candidates

Brandon K. Blanchard

City of residence: Chino resident, 27 years

Occupation: Corporate sales representative 

Education: Bachelor’s degree, University of La Verne 

Community involvement: Chino Planning Commission; Chino Youth Boxing Foundation; and Citizens for Kids 

What are the top two issues facing the Chino Valley school district and how will you address them? 

Teaching comprehensive sex education and safety on and around campus, including bullying. 

Parents and guardians have an absolute legal right to decide if they want their children to receive this information at school. It’s not up to the district to decide for you. By law it has to be offered and taught per California Education Code. The school district must advise parents and guardians that they have the right to excuse their child. A student cannot be subjected to disciplinary action if their parent does not want their child to participate in hearing about comprehensive sexual education. I would support an opt-in requirement.

As a board member, I would evaluate levels of security with school site staff, resource officers and district personnel. Students enrolled in district schools have the right to be on campuses that are safe and secure. I would ask that public reports be provided about safety measures, including installation of security equipment and training.

Bullying can threaten a child’s physical and emotional safety that can negatively impact learning. We have to educate staff and students on how to stop bullying before it starts and to address bullying incidents immediately. We need to incorporate the definition of bullying and ways to prevent it into lessons and activities. Last, but certainly not least, we need to utilize staff knowledge in developing messages and content, so their voices are heard by the students.  

How do you feel about the role of religion in school board discussions and decisions?

My faith guides my path and I pray for wisdom, discernment and understanding daily. If discussion of religion comes to the board of education I would not shy from it. My faith and beliefs are part of me and my decisions.


Joe Schaffer

City of Residence: Chino Hills, 15 years

Occupation: Retired police officer 

Education:Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, CSU Fullerton 

Community: Active parent (PTA, School Site Council, CVUSD LCAP Parent Advisory Committee, AVID program volunteer)

Board of directors, Ignite Volleyball Club and Foundation; City of Chino Hills parks and recreation commissioner

What are the top two issues facing the Chino Valley School District and how will you address them? 

The top two issues are safety and security of our students, staff and campuses and preparing our graduates for college or career.

As a retired police officer, who spent several years as a campus officer, the safety of our students is my top priority. 

For safety and security on our campuses I will support: Inclusion of real-time security monitoring systems; Incorporate rings of security to ensure our inner campuses are safe; Increase the time our school resource officers are on campus; Revamp the training and capabilities of our own district security personnel; A comprehensive approach to address bullying with a consistent anti-bullying policy; Incorporate new technologies into our security practices.  

Providing an emotional and socially safe learning environment in a fiscally responsible manner is extremely important. 

We need to ensure our graduating students are college or career ready. I will support: Expanding Career Technical Education courses to enhance Regional Occupation Program offerings; Building partnerships with local businesses, trade organizations and government entities to provide apprentice and internships for students; Expanding Advanced Placement course offerings; Reintroducing the International Baccalaureate program; Developing a true tech program firmly rooted in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) disciplines. We lose students to surrounding districts because we haven’t invested in the future of tech-centered programs.

How do you feel about the role of religion in school board discussions and decisions? With the great number of religious faiths practiced by families in our district, it is very important for board members to remain “neutral” and not show favoritism to any particular religion. The discussion of religion by board members should be restricted to curriculum issues only and should not be used as a sole basis for decision making.


Paulette De Soto Melton

City of residence: Chino, 14 years

Occupation: Housewife and district parent of two elementary school children 

Education: One year remaining to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Ashford University

Community involvement: Volunteer with a girls’ club program in the city.  

What are the top two issues facing the Chino Valley School District and how will you address them?   

The top two issues facing the Chino Valley school district are mental health issues, which cover more than just the recent suicides, and ensuring that children and staff are safe at school.  

Even with our new Raptor (visitor identification) system, there are still areas that could be improved.  

Issues will be addressed by hiring social workers that are more geared in talking to our students and finding a way to incorporate parents by teaching them what to look for and how to interact with questions that allow more of an opportunity to see how their children are doing that go beyond surface conversation. 

There are assemblies that engage with wounded dogs that have a story that resonates with children. 

This initiates a dialog that may not have been possible prior to relating to a story that may just relate to their situation.  

As for safety in the schools, as a parent who frequents the campus, there still seems to be room for improvement even with our added security called Raptor, the new system that runs our identification through the system. 

Houses have cameras that alert to potential danger prior to opening the door, so why shouldn’t schools have a similar addition added to the entry ways? 

How do you feel about the role of religion in school board discussions and decisions?

Religion is personal to everyone, regardless if they subscribe to one or do not. 

As for using it in public forum, I do not subscribe to using the podium.  It comes down to being a voice for the community -- children, parents and teachers. 


Don Bridge

City of residence:  Chino Hills, 26 years.  Previously resided within the school district for 11 years in Chino and South Ontario.   

Occupation: Retired Chino Valley Unified Secondary Teacher (1981-2014)

Education: Cal Poly, Pomona, M.A.; Cal State, San Bernardino, B.A.; San Bernardino Valley College, A.A.

Community involvement: At-large member, Measure G Bond Citizens’ Oversight Committee; member, Board of Elders, Redeemer Lutheran Church, Ontario

What are the top two issues facing the Chino Valley School District and how will you address them?   

The top two issues facing the Chino Valley school district are 1) School Safety and Modernization and 2) Attracting and keeping quality teachers and staff.

Being on the Bond Citizens’ Oversight Committee this past year, I have been participating in reviewing bond expenditures as the district works on modernization and building safe, healthy classrooms in all of our schools. Optimum student learning takes place in a safe environment. 

Attracting and keeping excellent teachers in the classroom while having the necessary staff on campuses, will ensure the quality education that all students deserve. To be competitive with surrounding districts, I will work towards seeing that our school district has this goal as one of the budget priorities while being fiscally responsible.

How do you feel about the role of religion in school board discussions and decisions?

Religion really has no place in public school board discussions or decisions. More people now are concerned with the prayer lawsuit appeal. Historically speaking, until the courts intervened in the current lawsuit, for many years the  Chino Valley school board meetings had an opening invocation with a diverse group of community religious leaders. I did not hear any concern expressed about these invocations. I am quite fine now with starting the meetings as they currently are with just the Pledge of Allegiance. The “preaching” by some of the current board members was totally uncalled for and the school district is likely going to have to pay a significant dollar amount for this when the appeal is finally exhausted.


John H. Pruitt Jr.

Residence: Chino, 39 years 

Occupation: Retired human resource consultant

Education:  Master’s degree in human relations and management, Abilene Christian University; bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology, University of Memphis

Community involvement: Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education, 2001 to 2006; Citizens Advisory Committee for California Institutition for Women 1995 to present; AYSO Regions 67 and 779, board member and coach 

What are the top two issues facing the Chino Valley School District and how will you address them?

Improve student performance. Chino Champion article, October 14, 2017 section B1 reveals 55 percent of students third through eighth grade in mathematics and 43 percent in English did not meet state standards.

Re-establish board trustees’ focus on responsibilities. The absence of board trustees’ focus on responsibilities has led to underperforming student scores; lawsuits of non-jurisdiction and child molestation; and three district schools closed after millions of dollars were spent on renovations.

To improve student performance, require from the superintendent an in-depth analysis of student performance scores, evaluate employees’ capabilities for job fitness, assess essential teaching resources, and develop a plan. Establish objectives with timelines and benchmarks to achieve student success and implement the plan.

To re-establish the essential elements of board trustees’ responsibilities, one must: be the public’s voice for local control of the school system; direct oversight to set standards of achievement; keep in check the financial stability of the school district’s budget; be accountable for student achievement and employee performance.

How do you feel about the role of religion in school board discussions and decisions? 

Religion is practicing man’s beliefs and traditions, therefore religion creates strife, confusion, disorder and chaos. It is not faith in God’s word. The present atmosphere of the school board is disorder, confusion, chaos and strife. Board members must be aware of how their actions impact the emotions of the community. Board members might think and/or want to believe they are following God’s word, but in reality, they are acclaiming man’s words and desires. Board members must promote academic student success. No personal, political or religious beliefs should enter into board discussions and decisions.


Christina Gagnier

City of residence: Born and raised in Chino. Chino Hills resident for several years.

Occupation: Consumer privacy attorney/professor at UC Irvine School of Law

Education: Juris doctorate,University of San Francisco School of Law; Master’s degree in public administration, UC, Sol Price School of Public Policy; bachelor’s degrees in political science and sociology, magna cum laude, UC Irvine, 

Community involvement:  Board of Directors of Without My Consent, tackling issues like online harassment and cyberbullying; member Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce; former member, Federal Communications Commission’s Consumer Advisory Committee.

What are the top two issues facing the Chino Valley school district and how will you address them?  

The need for career pathways programs for all students to prepare them for the jobs of the future, which includes diverse career paths. One of my primary goals is to create a career pathways program for all students, with a focus on trade education. Financial resources for this type of program are not going to materialize out of thin air, so I will invest time and dedication to form new partnerships with the trade unions, community colleges, and other organizations to ensure students are exposed to all career paths. Additionally, I would like to create a program to expose students to a variety of career opportunities with regional businesses, such as a job shadow program.

The need for open communication and accessibility to school board members for students, parents, teachers, staff, and the broader Chino Valley community alike to work together for the betterment of the district and resolve any issues that emerge in a collaborative manner. I plan to host monthly coffees and other accessible, informal events so all members of the CVUSD community can meet and voice their concerns outside the formal context of a board meeting. 

How do you feel about the role of religion in school board discussions and decisions?

It is the duty of elected public officials to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America even when it conflicts with your personal beliefs.


Jeff Vaka

City of residence: Chino Hills, 27 years

Occupation: Small business owner of Chino based All-Marketing, Inc. and Ultimate Source, Inc.   

Education: High school graduate, attended Cal Poly Pomona                                                                                                                 

Community involvement:  Homeowner’s association board member since 2001;

Former coach of Chino Hills Girls Softball and Chino Hills Little League

What are the top two issues facing the Chino Valley school district and how will you address them? 

The top two issues are continuing to have a balanced budget with a declining student enrollment and negotiating a new contract with the teacher’s union.

As per the 2018-19 adopted budget, the school district will continue to lose about 600 students per year for the next three years. With this loss, the school district will have a reduction in both state and federal revenues. 

I will make sure that we look at all short-term and long-term spending to make sure every dollar is being spent in the best interest of the students. 

This includes making sure that we are getting all funds available to the school district with the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). 

The Associated Chino Teachers (ACT) went about 18 months without a contract during the last negotiations. This is unacceptable and leads to the school district having limited ability to recruit and retain quality teachers, nurses, counselors, and psychologists. The current contract ends June 30, 2019 and I will work with ACT President Brenda Walker and her team to get a new contract done that works both for the school district and ACT.

How do you feel about the role of religion in school board discussions and decisions? 

It is one’s right to practice their religion or no religion at all. 

However, we need to recognize not all students and parents share the same religious beliefs as the school board members. 

School board discussions and decisions need to be based on what would be in the best interest of all students.


Denise Hobbensiefken

City of residence: Chino, 23 years

Occupation: Executive Assistant

Education: Bachelor’s degree in liberal studies

Community involvement: school site council member at a Chino Valley Unified high school; former Chino American Little League president; member of CVUSD Learning Network Team

What are the top two issues facing the Chino Valley school district and how will you address them?

Closing the achievement gap for our English Learners and our students with disabilities.

I would like to see school sites have ELL resource teachers to help provide classroom teachers with literacy and language support through differentiation. Differentiation doesn’t mean you have to teach a different lesson for every student. Rather, differentiation is a way for teachers to alter their instructional strategies to help all students with mixed abilities and learning styles reach their academic potential. 

As a special education parent, I know first-hand the struggles and frustrations parents feel with our district’s special education program. For example, currently, after a new school year begins, it takes 2-3 weeks to get Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) to classroom teachers. In that time, classwork, homework, quizzes, and possibly exams have taken place, thus placing the teachers and the students in need of special education accommodations at a disadvantage. 

The solution is simple: we must change how we get IEPs to classroom teachers and stop denying our special education students the same opportunities our regular education students have in the classroom.

How do you feel about the role of religion in school board discussions and decisions?

Students can pray in school as that is their right, but schools cannot promote prayer because they are institutions for educating, not preaching.

I do not believe in having a school board that separates itself from constituents. 

I want to continue to have a real dialogue with parents on a regular basis outside of the boardroom. 

I am committed to devoting the time and energy required for meetings, phone calls, conversations, and school visits, to give parents the ability to have a meaningful conversation and work together in the best interest of our students.


Jody Moore

City of residence:  Chino, 15 years

Occupation:  Pastor Praise Tabernacle Bible Church in Chino and human resources executive

Education:  Talbot School of Theology

Community involvement: City of Chino planning commissioner; board member, Inland Valley Hopes Partners; Breaking Barriers United Partnership with Chino Police Department for Education and Community Awareness

What are the top two issues facing the Chino Valley Unified School District and how will you address them?   

School safety and parental involvement are the top two issues. 

Much work has already been done to enhance and upgrade security in our schools.  I will work with district staff to further our programmatic growth in the areas of increased training for our school safety officers and administrators. I want to make sure that our campus teams are fully equipped to identify risk to our students and staff.

I believe that parents should have influence and a say concerning our curriculum so that it reflects an appropriate standard for our community. I will work hard to make sure our parent’s voices are heard and leveraged. 

Fiscal responsibility and prudence are very important to me. 

Through diligent oversight, I will work with district staff to keep our district financially strong and guard against unnecessary expenditures.  

How do you feel about the role of religion in school board discussions and decisions?

As an elected school board member it will be my responsibility to represent people of ALL faiths and backgrounds in the Chino Valley school district. 

I will make decisions that are in the best interest of our students, parents, and teachers. 

My priority is delivering financially well-managed schools that provide the highest levels of educational excellence and safety for our children. 

I do believe that religion plays a vital role in our daily lives. It is worth remembering that the American Revolution, the Abolition Movement, and the Civil Rights Movement were all led by people of faith. 

My faith guides me every day as a husband, father, business executive, pastor, and community leader.  


(1) comment


no clergyman please, we don't need praying at school meeting in the 21 century.

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