DEARBORN HEIGHTS – Salwa Fawaz, one of four candidates campaigning for three open seats on the Crestwood Board of Education, would only be the second Arab American on the board for a district that comprises of 70 percent Arab American students.
The only current Arab American member is Nadia Berry, who was elected in 2016.
Fawaz is campaigning against incumbents Donna Ancinec, Lynne Senia and Kevin Suave.
“Salwa should be a good addition to this board,” said Hassan Bazzi, president of Dearborn Heights Community Organization (DHCO). “I’d like to see more parents involved here and this is what we’re lacking.”
Fawaz told The AANews that her main reason for running is safety between the high schools and middle schools.
Safety and security a top concern
“I want to have a more experienced and skilled security team that wears uniforms, especially at the high school level,” she said. “Right now you walk into the school and you cannot differentiate between who is security; they don’t even ask you for identification when you send for your child.”
She added that she knows this from firsthand experience. When she first took her child out for a doctor’s appointment, having never stepped foot in the school before because her husband did all the registering, no one challenged her.
“They never even asked me for my driver’s license or anything,” she said.
She added that the security at Crestwood High School is “very inconsistent” with its security measures during fights and that police are only called on some occasions. What’s more, in many situations, teachers and students stop fights, not security guards.
“They act more as spectators than security guards,” she said.
Large class size is an obstacle to learning
“Another issue for Fawaz is class size. She asked how effective an elementary school teacher would be with a class of 35 students.
“Her main goal would probably be to maintain control,” she said. “How do we expect our children to actually learn.”
Fawaz would also address the budget if elected.
“I looked at the numbers and they’re appalling,” she said “…One example, they have $1.5 million going to Divine Child. Now that’s a private school, so why would the Dearborn Heights School District be paying for it?”
She also said people would be appalled at some of the salaries.
“Like a middle school principal making over $200,000 a year,” she said.
Crestwood Schools superintendent has not been seen since June!
“Another very important issue that led me to run is that the school’s superintendent has been missing since June,” Fawaz added. “Meaning she doesn’t report to work and she’s getting paid.”
Fawaz stated that after she pressed on why the superintendent wasn’t coming to work, the board appointed a person to do the job in the interim.
Fawaz pulled her kids out of schools in the district and enrolled them at Wise Academy.
“I did it because I think that they are at risk,” she said. “I don’t think that the security is enough and I don’t think that the education is what it should be.”
She added that she’s paying top dollar for her children’s tuition at Wise and could have gone on her “merry way”, but chose to run for school board to help make changes.
“So maybe at some point I can bring my children back and to make it better for the children that can’t leave this school system,” she said.
The board lacks diversity
She also said there has to be a diverse school board.
“I noticed that every time someone is hired they’re Caucasian, which I do not have a problem with,” she said. “Except, I do not see any minorities being hired or even considered.”
Fawaz also brought up that while the board recently announced that an Arab American will be teaching, she, “has not graduated yet and not until 2021.”
“When I went to file to run for the board, there were a couple other Arab Americans who wanted to run, but they wouldn’t let them,” Fawaz said, when asked why more Arab Americans aren’t running for the Crestwood School Board, given the high percentage of students from the community. “[It’s] like they’d give them a run around until the deadline passes.”
She added that officials tried to give her the run around, but she’s a persistent person, so she make sure she stuck around for the paperwork.
Outrageous salaries and allegations of nepotism
Fawaz’s husband, Ahmad, also told The AANews that after his wife announced her candidacy, the superintendent’s daughter quit her job at a district-run daycare facility.
“We found out that she was earning $101,000,” he said.
“The athletic director earns $115,000 and is the same person who got fired from another district for embezzlement,” he added.
He also said the state allocated $1.3 million to the district. Of that, the school allocated $50,000 for the students and the rest for the administration.
“There are severe deficiencies in the numbers because the school doesn’t keep any records,” he said.
“When you actually go through the budget, you’d see that the state needs to come in and audit because there’s multiple things that do not add up,” Salwa Fawaz said.
The Arab American News didn’t verify these allegations from an independent source nor it has been confirmed by the school administration.
Greater parental involvement is needed
According to Bazzi of the DHCO, parents don’t get involved unless there’s a problem.
“That is the issue here,” he said, adding that DHCO members will do the best they can to install the second Arab American on the board.
“We’re hoping as parents and as a community that Salwa comes up with a strong agenda that helps the community move forward toward a better future for our kids,” he said.
According to a source familiar with the district who preferred to remain anonymous, “Fawaz has been responsive to all of the questions sent to her as opposed to one of the other candidates who hasn’t been responsive.”
“Fawaz would be a good addition to the board,” the source added. “She is well educated and has good management skills as well as a good supervisory background.”
Fawaz has a bachelor’s degree in business management and administration from Walsh College. She has worked in management positions at Ford Motor Company for the last 20 years.
She has also done a variety of volunteer work, including leading a team at Christmas, collecting goods and toys for children as part of Ford’s “operation good cheer”; helping to beautify the landscape at the Henry Ford Estate; working at Lighthouse of Oakland County and working with the Girl Scouts of America.