Jason Kelley is a Piedmont High School graduate who returned to town with his family in 2009. Since then, with two children in Piedmont schools, he has been involved in multiple ways with the schools. He has served on the parent boards at both Beach and Piedmont Middle schools.
But his highest-profile gig has been producing the annual “Beach Revue,” the musical involving 200-plus students. The performances have earned over $20,000 for the schools, according to Kelley.
Now, he has decided to try for elective office – the Piedmont Unified School District board of education. Kelley is one of five candidates vying for three spots on the school board in the November 3 election. The top three vote-getters will assume office at the end of the year.
Kelley has never run for office before. He said in an online Q&A with the Exedra that there were multiple reasons he decided now was the time: Work to open Piedmont schools safely when the time is right; Make sure the schools are a welcoming place for all students; Plan carefully for what education will look like in the future.
“Distance learning and the decisions on how and when to re-open in-person learning is the biggest issue facing our schools right now,” Kelley wrote. “Many students, especially younger ones and those in special education, are struggling to learn in this model. Many families are overwhelmed with the responsibilities of work and at-home learning. Students’ social skills and independence are also being negatively impacted. Educators are working to find ways to deliver the best education under the circumstances.”
Kelley said his priority if elected will be, “Ensuring that students can return to in-person learning as soon as it is safe to do so and working to make sure that transition is 1) safe for students, educators, families and the whole Piedmont community, and 2) done in a way that maximizes stability so that families can plan for work and child care.”
Figuring out how to safely re-open schools is the most pressing issue. PUSD spent the end of the 2019-20 school year teaching students online thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new school year has begun the same way. Many parents are concerned that their children might not be getting the same level of education online compared to in-person instruction. Some teachers, many of whom are in vulnerable demographics in terms of the disease, have expressed concerns that school cannot yet open safely.
Kelley wrote, “The principles that would guide me in making decisions about return to in-person learning if I were elected to the school board are: 1. Safety – ensuring schools have the resources to comply with health regulations to protect students, families, educators and the whole Piedmont community, 2. Stability – finding ways to make transitions stable and lasting so families can plan for work and childcare, and 3. Consensus – engaging in ongoing consultations to ensure all parties are heard so that any waiver application can be supported by the broadest range of stakeholders possible.”
Kelley moved to Piedmont as a child and after graduating high school moved to Virginia to attend college and law school. He moved to Seattle and worked as a labor and employment law attorney. He returned to Piedmont in 2009 with his husband and two daughters. He is now a stay-at-home dad. His daughters are in sixth and ninth grade. Kelley is also the educational guardian to two nephews who also attend Piedmont schools.