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Ojai public school alumnus files intent to run for school board

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Ojai Valley News photo by Austin Widger
Jeffrey Starkweather

 

Retired attorney, former newspaper publisher and Nordhoff High School graduate Jeffrey Starkweather has filed official papers stating his intention to run for the school board in the fall general election. He will seek a seat on the Ojai Unified School District Board to represent the newly created District 2, surrounding Meiners Oaks and Mira Monte elementary schools. 
District 2 is represented currently by Thayne Whipple who is up for re-election in November, as is Shelley Griffen in District 4. These will be OUSD’s first district elections since the school board voted last year to change from at-large elections.
Starkweather and his wife, Dee Reid, live in his family’s former homeplace at the center of the district, across the street from Meiners Oaks Elementary, which he attended as a child. He also graduated from Matilija Junior High and was a Nordhoff Ranger.
“Our local public schools form the heart of our community, where families from all walks of life come together to help their children meet their full potential,” Starkweather said. “Our public schools present enormous opportunities for learning, teamwork and civic engagement. But to ensure our students and schools prosper, we must address low enrollments, test scores, and other challenges, through creative programs that engages the whole child and more open two-way communication with teachers, parents, students and the general public”
Starkweather said he was concerned by the recent “‘emergency’ budget cut proposal to reduce the class offerings at Nordhoff High School” and how it was implemented with no discussion from parents or school board members. He said it could cause further declining enrollment.
“I also learned at a recent Ojai forum on declining public school enrollment that one in every four school-age children in the Ojai Valley attends a private school; that’s about 750 students,” he said. “I believe we need to find out why some parents are not choosing public education in Ojai and what our public schools could offer to encourage them to consider our public schools.”
Starkweather met his wife in a small town in North Carolina, where he ran a community newspaper. After they married, he became an attorney specializing in civil rights, disability discrimination and land-use issues. He served two years as an education lobbyist and researcher at the North Carolina state capital in Raleigh, working on behalf of children with disabilities and children from minority and low-income families. He also was involved in enforcement of civil rights and equal employment opportunity in the field offices and state programs of the federal department of Health, Education and Welfare.
He graduated from the University of Redlands with a degree in political science and economics. His first professional job was as the assistant personnel manager for the city of Oxnard.
After retiring from law, he pursued a volunteer career as a political campaign manager and public policy adviser to county, city and school board officials in North Carolina. He organized a series of progressive nonpartisan political committees and nonprofits that supported the election of diverse county and local leaders dedicated to open government and sustainable economic development and excellent public schools. He also taught sustainable development policy at a community college.
He has two grown children and two grandchildren, all educated in public schools.
After returning to Ojai, he became vice chair of the Ojai Valley Democratic Club.
Starkweather says he filed his official papers and set up a campaign committee (Starkweather for OUSD Trustee 2020) at this early date so that he will have time to hear from parents, teachers, administrators and staff, current and former school board members, community leaders and interested residents about their concerns and suggestions for improvements. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and/or 919-417-0969.