Louise Johnson voted onto Nevada County Board of Education | TheUnion.com
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Louise Johnson voted onto Nevada County Board of Education

Sam Corey
Staff Writer
Louise Johnson, second row from bottom, furthest right, getting sworn in via Zoom for her position as a member of the Nevada County Board of Education. Johnson was previously a superintendent for the Nevada Joint Union High School District.
Sam Corey/scorey@theunion.com

After a somewhat tense debate, the Nevada County Board of Education decided to vote Louise Johnson onto the board in a 3-1 decision this week.

Four people applied for the position: Peggy Delgado Fava, George Rebane, Jamal Walker, and Johnson. Fava had a number of non-board member supporters who spoke during public comment in favor of her getting a seat on the board. Many liked the fact that Fava has worked with at-risk youth, young people in juvenile hall and had emphasized suicide, depression and other mental health issues plaguing teens as problems that need to ameliorated.

“I feel like she’s a community member that’s trying to do the right thing under our current situation,” said resident Joseph Bonomolo during Wednesday’s public comment.

Board member Ashley Neumann, who ultimately opposed Johnson’s appointment, also supported Fava.

“She’s literally the only candidate that has experience with students that are in schools,” she said, adding that, “She’s giving current students exactly what they need.”

Rebane ran on his desire to fundamentally reshape local education as he said the system is dysfunctional. Walker, a Grass Valley resident for 30 years who has raised four kids in the area, spoke of his ability to listen, bring people together and talked about his work advocating for racial justice locally. Walker, the only Black applicant to apply for the seat, is a co-founder of Creating Communities Beyond Bias.

Johnson, a superintendent of the Nevada Joint Union High School District between 2013 and 2018, spoke of her experience in education locally and her passion for the topic broadly.

“I think it would be an enormous pleasure to give my gifts to this role in the community,” she said during her public interview.

Outside of the public meeting, Johnson explained that while she was happy to be in retirement, she also wanted to be on the ground trying to solve very difficult decisions brushing up against local educational institutions during this time.

“I felt like I could bring a knowledge and skillset to the table,” she said, acknowledging that the slate of candidates vying for the position were impressive.

One board member and a few public commenters were displeased with the process of how the board came to vote for Johnson. Neumann said she wanted to make a motion to discuss each candidate instead of motioning to vote Johnson onto the board and then discussing each candidate.

“In the past we’ve never immediately motioned,” she said during the meeting. “The whole entire thing was disrespectful.”

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey, email scorey@theunion.com or call 530-477-4219.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the characterization George Rebane gave of the education system. He said it is dysfunctional. The Union regrets the error.


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