Fresno Bee voter guide

Welcome to our guide for Election 2016 races. Compare candidates' views side by side, then create your own ballot, which you can print or email.

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Important note: Candidates' responses have not been edited except for clarity, language and libel. Candidates provide their own photographs and video. Candidates for non-partisan offices are listed as No Party Preference, regardless of party registration.

Clovis Unified School District Area 2

Trustees are elected district-wide but the winner in this race will represent Trustee Area 2. Fresno Bee stories about this raceAfter controversial year, Clovis Unified board to see rare competition in election

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  • Candidate picture

    Ginny Hovsepian

  • Candidate picture

    Isabel Machado

  • Candidate picture

    Sandy Torosian

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Biographical Information

Earlier this year, the district made national headlines for its strict dress code. How would you have voted? How do you feel about gender expression and inclusion?

School districts across the state are adjusting to the new Common Core standards. Is the district doing enough to prepare teachers and students for the new standards? What, if anything, would you change about how schools transition to this new way of teaching?

Do you favor or oppose Proposition 55, which would extend by 12 years the temporary income tax increase enacted in 2012 to support schools and colleges?

In your opinion, what are the district's top three challenges? How would you address each of these issues?

Is technology in education important? Is the district doing enough to get devices into the hands of kids? If so, how would you help improve access to technology, especially for low-income or other at-risk students?

Why are you the best candidate to serve on the school board? (Text or YouTube video.)

Age 67
Residence Fresno
Family Allen, Husband of 38 years Jessica and Jensen
Education Clovis High Graduate Fresno State Graduate with BA in Research Psychology
Occupation Owner Auto Enhancement Hovsepian Farms
Public service experience Clovis School Board 6 terms
Facebook/Social media ginny hovsepian
All through life there are many dress codes. Dress codes for the work place, parties, weddings, and sporting events just to name a few. As to schools I believe a student’s appearance should not be a distraction that impedes the education of other students. Because of State laws I reluctantly voted to change the dress code but only to the minimal amount that we could adopt legally. Every student has a right to privacy, so to comply with the new gender laws we have built stalls, added modesty curtains, changing trailers and provided more P.E. classes that don’t require dressing out.
To comply with the state laws our teachers are going through intensive training to prepare them to use both the new curriculum and the new technology. It will take years to fully make the transition, but state tests show our students are already improving at EVERY grade level.
Prop 55 will probably be passed. If it does I recommend we have more parent and taxpayer control on where the money is spent.
• First, our greatest challenge is maintaining our high standards at a time when the culture and the law are trying to change our way of life. My task is to protect our children so any change will not affect them negatively. • Second, we must continue to attract and keep high quality personnel. There are other districts in the valley that are so short of teachers that they are hiring people who do not have a teaching credential or even experience. Clovis has been able to compete effectively because of its reputation, but this won’t continue if we surrender our culture and lower our standards. • Third, The forced compliance to new laws will cost us millions and non-compliance could cost us even more in lawsuits. We are lobbying the state for more money so we can implement the laws they have imposed on us.
Today technology is an essential part of education because of its usage in almost every vocation and its ability to deliver meaningful and relevant lessons to the classroom. Most of our students use technology at home, but the ones who don’t still have access at their local school site and through loaner programs. I will continue to support upgrades to our systems and reaching out to those who need more access to technology[.
During my years on the school board we built and maintained THE PREMIER School District. We are ranked at the top academically, athletically and in the co-curricular area. Our reputation has made the district the most desired area to live in. As proof, just ask any realtor in which school district their clients want to buy homes.

I am proud of my record as a Clovis Unified board member. Among our many successes is the fact that even though over 42% of our students are in the Free and Reduced Lunch Program, we are consistently ranked at the top of the state academically.

I love and am dedicated to this community and "its way of life".

If you believe success and conservative values should be rewarded, I would appreciate your vote.

Thank you, Ginny Hovsepian
Age 53
Residence Fresno (own bus in Clovis
Family Married nearly 25 years to my awesome husband, Amadeu, with whom I have one child, Ethan, age 5.
Education I attended Middlebury College (VT) for 2 years and intentionally flunked myself out (super strict parents) in order to transfer. I graduated from Assumption College (MA) with a Bachelor's in Political Science and Soviet Studies. I also earned a law degree (JD) at New England Law (Boston).
Occupation Attorney, self-employed.
Public service experience 1) Meals on Wheels volunteer for home-bound elderly; 2) Travel monthly to Bakersfield and Los Banos to do free Q&A radio programs in Spanish & Portuguese for listeners with immigration law questions; 3) Have attended countless events throughout the Valley put on by Social Service Organizations and Churches seeking help with citizenship and other advocacy for for under-served and low-income populations; 4) Volunteer reader at my son's school; 5) Board member for Fresno Area Hispanic Chamber (now Fresno Downtown Business Hub) and Stanford Professional Center; 6) Travelled to DC with volunteer "Lobby Day" group to meet with Congressional leaders; 7) Advisory Committee member for Northern CA chapter of AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association); 8) Member of AILA's UPIL (unauthorized practice of immigration law) committee; 9) UPIL volunteer; 10) Numerous cases of pro-bono representation, most recently securing asylum (and eventual residency) for a 20 year old Nigerian girl who had been kidnapped and tortured; volunteer & donor to homeless and low-income persons.
Facebook/Social media
Law school New England Law
Years practicing law 15+
I would have voted to change the dress code because it was the right thing to do. First, the previous dress code was in violation of the law. Second, I have yet to hear a good, substantive answer to the question of what hair length has to do with one's ability to receive an education or to focus in class? Pulling a student from class and interrupting/impeding his or her education because of this is simply wrong. Further, as to the issue of distraction, I know many CUSD parents who not only disagree with that view but who would prefer their children to be exposed to differences and be "distracted" in high school rather than in college, where real-world experiences and ideas are unavoidable. As to gender expression and inclusion, we are all human beings first and foremost, and I think we need to remember that more often rather than be judgmental and exclusionary. We have to live together as friends, family, neighbors and colleagues and we have to do the best we can together in that capacity and as a community. We are all entitled to our feeling and opinions, of course, but outward bias and discrimination are not OK. Whether we agree or disagree, whether the issue is being a rude/unfriendly person, an addict, atheist, gay, transgender or what have you, we as a community and society should accept one another as we are. There are instances where the law dictates this, but basic humanity should dictate as well.
When I moved here in early 2002 and then opened my law practice in 2003, I was astounded by my observations of others' writing (and even reading comprehension) skills. I once employed a law student who had trouble with basic sentence structure, let alone writing. This makes no sense to me because, while the idea of common core may be young in California, I feel as though I received a common core education growing up. It didn't have a fancy or different name per se, but the focus was on education and the 3 Rs and learning was fun and interactive, the way it should be. All children should graduate high school with a solid foundation in the basics, and that has not been happening in California. If Common Core is the solution, I'm all for it. I am a huge proponent of education and preparation. I think CUSD needs to do its utmost, and more if necessary, to help teachers, students, and parents understand and work with Common Core.
I can unequivocally promise you that, even if my individual income were to exceed $250,000.00 (or my combined income with my spouse $500,000), I would still be in favor of and vote for Proposition 55 because it is not about me but about primarily about children and their future, and ultimately the future of California and our country. I don't mind doing a little extra and paying a little more if it will help others less fortunate than I. As my husband always says, "If we have to pay that means we had a good year."
I believe strongly education and the three Rs should always be the number one priority for schools because education sets the foundation for everything in life. I want to ensure that every student is given equal access to Clovis Unified schools And to the same high-quality education because I don't believe that high standards and changing cultural norms are mutually exclusive. There is no good reason that the two cannot exist together. Transparency is also very important, as demonstrated by recent events. The current Board members, most of whom have served for more than 20 years, have either not been fully transparent with the CUSD community or not been so in a timely fashion. With me on the Board, that will NOT happen. As I frequently tell my clients, "honesty is the best policy." I will work diligently to make sure all teachers and staff are both accessible and responsive to students and parents, and I will answer for them if they are not. Safety is also a big priority, as I have heard far too many stories of bullying and other issues that go unaddressed. No one, and I mean no one, should feel even remotely fearful, nervous of others, or unsafe in school. I believe there needs to be a system for accountability in place for all those in the Clovis Unified system and look forward to being at the helm of making this happen.
In today's global economy, being technologically competent is extremely important, so yes, technology is important in education. My first computer class was in high school in 1982, and I'm grateful for that. As well, however, I don't think that technology should replace teachers or the teaching of important skills. For example, I prefer to see a student use not a calculator, but his or her brain and skills to do a complex calculation. With regard to low-income or at-risk students, they are equally deserving of the same education and benefits as their peers. I want to review how much access to technology is provided to these students to ensure that they are, in fact, benefiting from the same high-quality education and training as their peers.
Clovis Unified is an excellent school district. It is not the best, however, as many other districts in California surpass Clovis. U.S. News & World report, for example, puts Buchanan High at 262 and Clovis East at 390. While we are great, we can be even greater, and I want to be part of that. I don't believe that experience is what makes someone the best candidate. I believe it's heart and how much you put into it (no matter what "it" is), and I truly do care about our children and their education, not only for the present, but also for the future - their future, our grandkids' future, and the future of our country. I'm not a bystander, but a doer, and I want to do right by CUSD. I have an A-type personality and am very organized and thorough. I'm also very honest, open, and outspoken - and let's not forget passionate! I learned at a young age that integrity, hard work, and commitment are not just words. To me, they are principles that mean something, so I am guided by them on a daily basis. Those who know me well are can testify that when commit to something I am ALL IN, and when I believe in something I do so with fervor and passion. My clients appreciate that I am willing to go to the mat for them and don't give up in my advocacy of their causes until (proverbially) I've literally smashed my head on the wall. All this, and more, is why I am the best suited candidate to serve on the Clovis Unified Board. Please visit my website & FB (in progress still. I work Full-Time!)
Age 62
Residence Fresno
Family Husband - Ted, Sons - Kyle and Adam, Daughter-in-law - Alicia, Grandson - Titus
Education Bachelor of Arts, Speech Pathology
Occupation Business Owner, Instructional Aid
Public service experience Made for Them volunteer
Facebook/Social media
I am fairly certain that I would have voted to keep the original dress code. I believe a dress code teaches responsibility and prepares young adults for employment.

All students’ should be respected for who they are, and should have the freedom to express themselves. However, I do not believe students should be allowed to use the locker room or bathroom consistent with their gender identity, and i do not believe they should be allowed to participate in co-curricular and extracurricular activities in a manner consistent with their gender identity.
I know Clovis Unified has done their best to prepare teachers for the new standards, but I don't believe there was a way to prepare the students. Clovis Unified knew about the Common Core State Standards as early as 2010 and yet parents were not notified of the changes until after the standards had been fully implemented in 2013. Although parents have seen a change in schoolwork, I believe there are still some parents unaware of this new way of teaching. Transparency is so important. I would have notified parents, in writing, about the adoption of the CCSS before the standards were implemented. I would have also explained that new assessments were adopted, new textbooks purchased and new curriculum written to align with the CCSS. IF these are JUST standards as we have been told, why was all this necessary?
I oppose Proposition 55.
Assembly Bill 1266: This bill, signed into law in 2013, is unlawful because it is in opposition to Article I (c) of the California Constitution. I would push back on this harmful law by connecting with other school districts in California that have the same values and standards as Clovis Unified. As a united effort, I would attempt to bring a lawsuit against the State.

Curriculum/Textbooks: I am concerned about the progressive agenda that is being presented in textbooks and curriculum. Prior the adoption of new curriculum or textbooks, I would ensure they are thoroughly researched and read by the Board and curriculum specialists. For example, Clovis Unified is preparing to implement the New Generation Science Standards. The Fordham Institute has rated these science standards inferior to the current California standards. I would be cautious with the implementation of the NGSS.

Transparency: I believe Clovis Unified's lack of transparency with the implementation of Common Core and the inclusion of transgenders in locker/bathroom facilities, has led to a lack of trust and pushback from parents. These two issues are affecting over 40,000 students and I would have been proactivate by informing parents in advance.
I believe technology is important in education, but only when used as a tool to enhance education, not when used to teach students. There are cognitive benefits to putting a pencil to paper and findings support the continued teaching of penmanship and handwriting in schools because writing uses three brain processes: visual, motor and cognitive. I am concerned about technology, because it is through the use of computers that data is collected on students without parental consent.

I believe the district is doing enough to get devices into the hands of kids. All students, including low-income and at-risk, have access to technology in Clovis Unified.
For the last 25 years, I have worked for Clovis Unified, and I am the only candidate with 20 years of classroom experience. I also organized baccalaureate services for Clovis West for 11 years, which are some of my fondest memories. I love this district, but the changes in curriculum and the loss of local control that I have witnessed during my years as an educator have concerned me. I began doing research three years ago, and I’ve tried to communicate what I have learned to those who have entrusted their children to public education. I am fully aware that the federal government and the state of California are responsible for these changes, but I’m willing to push back against harmful laws and policies. I’m running for the school board because of my love of children and my passion for education. I believe I can make a difference. As a school board member, I will fight for teachers so they have greater freedom and flexibility in the classroom. I will keep an open door policy so that the concerns of teachers, parents, children and taxpayers are heard and handled. I am ready to serve as your advocate on the Clovis Unified School Board and would be honored to have your vote in November. I have counted the cost of beginning this fight. I care about the future of our children and I believe this is a fight WE can’t afford to lose.

Please visit my website at