District 4 School Board candidate profile: Laequinla Hunter

Published 1:26 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Editor’s note: Laequinla Hunter is running against Jason Maresh for the District 4 seat on Isle of Wight County’s School Board. The Smithfield Times emailed the questionnaire below to both candidates on Sept. 5. Maresh’s responses can be found here.

Name: Laequinla Hunter

Age: 45

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Occupation: Self-Employed

Prior elected offices held: None

1. Can you briefly summarize why you decided to run for School Board?

I am running for the position of School Board in District 4, Isle of Wight County Public Schools. I have a passion for children and I believe every child deserves a quality education so that they can be productive citizens in the community. If elected, it is my desire to develop various programs and initiatives. I believe I am a reliable community leader that will actively listen to the voices of students, teachers and parents to implement change and vision. 

2. What should be the School Board’s top priority right now?

  • Retaining Teachers
  • Funding CTE Courses
  • Supporting Transportation Needs
  • Promoting Funding Accountability
  • Implementing Safety Efforts

3. Has a March policy change that now prohibits educators from teaching students about “systemic racism” had a positive or negative impact on Isle of Wight County Schools? What changes, if any, would you make to the policy?

It is imperative that we do not withhold our history from students. We must preserve it and teach it according to their age groups. For our students to be well rounded we must make sure they know the truth so they can make a better impact to our community. There are various tools and resources to aid and assist with educating every child according to the level of their learning ability. With the collaboration of parents, teachers and students positive change and outcomes are certain. 

4. What more can Isle of Wight County Schools do to attract and retain quality teachers?

Here are a few areas we could focus our concentration on that could assist us in retaining and attracting quality teachers. We must first look at the need to make sure that the teachers have the adequate support staff in regards to Instructional Aides and Paraprofessionals who assist in the classrooms. Teachers should also feel safe, supported and valued. They need to know that they are protected from political and personal attacks from members of the community as long as they are teaching the outlined and approved standards by the VDOE. We also need to reevaluate the current pay scale to make it a more livable profession for the amount of hard work and time teachers put in during the school day. With these things put in place we will be able to retain teachers and attract passionate, professional & committed educators in to our county.

5. Should Isle of Wight County Schools adopt the new transgender student model policies Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration released earlier this year? Why or why not?

No student should be denied protection because of their gender, sexual orientation, how they look, the color of their skin, the neighborhood they come from, and their religion. Every child deserves a quality education. 

6. What more can be done at the school division level to keep students safe from shootings?

With safety being one of my top priorities, here are a few things I feel can be done for the safety of our schools. Putting a combination of School Resource Officers and School Security Officers would provide more coverage in protecting students, teachers and administrators. Training, resources, and drills for teachers, students and administration to deal with any given situation, will allow everyone to participate in the safety of our schools. Surveillance systems to help monitor the entire school grounds from entrances, to exits, the doors and hallways throughout the school will provide total coverage and assist in keeping the schools safe. Also, technology that provides touch less security screening that will spot concealed weapons and other threats would be beneficial in helping prevent tragic incidents.

7. Should sitting School Board members endorse political candidates? Why or why not?

If a candidate were qualified and beneficial to the betterment of education within the school district, as a sitting school board member it would be in his or her best interest to endorse someone that will be an asset to the team. They have an understanding of the change that the candidate would help make within the community. 

8. Are board members doing enough to keep track of Isle of Wight County Schools’ budget and spending? What, if anything, more can be done?

There should be a check and balance system between the School Board, Board of Supervisors, division administrators and anyone else responsible in this area to oversee as a team to make sure there is funding accountability. Also investigating and putting in place grants and other financial resources that would help to fund the yearly budget.

Finances need to be closely monitored to make sure that goals, budgets and expectations are being met.

9. Should Isle of Wight County Schools continue its membership in the Virginia School Boards Association? Why or why not?

Yes I believe that Isle of Wight County Schools should continue to be a part of the Virginia School Board Association. This organization provides helpful videos and tools for those such as myself, to gain further information about serving on the school board with this being my first time running. They also provide governance training, policy services, legal services, strategic planning services, superintendent searches and collective bargaining services which are all beneficial services that the school system can benefit from. They stand by their mission to promote excellence in public education through leadership, advocacy and services.