DEARBORN HEIGHTS — With elections right around the corner, candidates for Dearborn Heights’ District 7 Board of Education discussed their goals if they were to be elected.
Incumbent Board Member Mandy Diroff, who could not be reached for comment, is seeking another four-year term and is competing against newcomers Latanya Gater, Nathaniel Cann, Bill Dishroon and Derek Wall.
With four of the current members’ terms ending at the end of this year, including Diroff’s, Gater said that she decided to run for school board to bridge the gap.
“The guiding force that has led me to run for school board is to bridge the current gaps between accessing educational and mental health services for all families,” she said. “I also aspire to work with current leadership to find ways to increase public education funding and consequently enhance learning spaces.”
Wall said that he has many skills he would like to bring to the district if elected.
“I am running for school board so that I can contribute my skills to improve our education system,” he said. “I have a background in nursing with experience in emergency room and care management.
“I have been on disaster preparedness committees and committees to review and improve communication skills between physicians and nurses to increase efficiency of patient care. I want to see an increase in the graduation rate of our students and feel my background can help create an improvement. I have wanted to run for school board in the past, but was working midnight shifts during the time of the school board meeting. My work schedule has been fixed for the past two years and I can commit the time and hours to be at every meeting and focus on our education system and how it can be improved.”
Cann said that he decided to run for school board to provide a calming factor in the district.
“I have a passion for education, I have taught on the adult level and know how important it is to influence our children now to get the students prepared to be greater,” he said. “I feel I’m a good candidate to sit on the board of education for D7 because I want to help provide a calming factor for all to listen and work together.”
Dishroon said he wanted to run for school board to provide a fresh perspective.
“I am running for the school board because I believe I can help facilitate the change that is needed to move the school board and district in the right direction,” he said. “Fresh perspective, new ideas and no personal agenda are what I bring to the table and I think the district needs right now.”
Gater has been a resident for about eight years and has no criminal history, but with having children in the district she said one of her goals if elected is to increase access to mental health services.
“I want to be an asset to the current board and community by satisfying the requirement to be a representation of the community in terms of diversity, equity, inclusion, professional experience, racial demographics, age demographics, etc.” she said. “I want to increase the access to mental health services for students and staff within the various schools, to increase training opportunities and support for current mental health professionals, teachers, secretaries and paraprofessionals who service the schools and to improve upon matters related to cohesion, community engagement, communication channels and accountability within the board’s structure.”
Wall has lived in the D7 district for 39 years with no criminal history; and while he doesn’t have any of his own children, he has 11 nieces and nephews and wants to ensure students’ safety if elected.
“My primary goal is to focus on safety for our students and staff,” he said. “With safety comes both a physical and mental category. I want to make sure our students and staff are physically safe in their surroundings and they feel mentally safe, so they can focus on their education or job to result in greater education experience for our K-12 program. Second, I would like to see how we can improve our education resources with the new changes in our system due to COVID-19. I would like to see more community involvement, which means there needs to be more creative ways to reach out to the community, which is something I would try to get developed.”
Having no criminal history, being a resident for almost 15 years and the father of two students who graduated from the district and a third at O.W. Best as a sixth grader, Cann said his goals are to improve the growing community.
“My goals are to help our district improve our curriculum to include more studies that represent the growing community and to also add more communication with the board, staff and the community,” he said. “I feel we work better with the administration and to get the teachers and community more involved in what’s going on with our kids.”
Dishroon has no criminal history, has lived in the district since 2001 and his daughter is a junior at Annapolis High School. He said he wants to improve the curriculum if elected.
“My goals for the school board are quite simple,” he said. “I want to try to focus on moving the district forward with regards to curriculum, technology and reducing costs. I also want to try to get more cohesion with the school board and the administration. The infighting in recent history between the board and the superintendent has been quite the distraction. It’s time to put the past behind us and to focus on the children and the future of the district.”