Meet the finalists to replace Margarita Rios on the NLMUSD school board

(From left to right) Jorge A. Triado, Irene Salazar, and Diego De Lama are all in the running to win selection to the vacant seat on the Norwalk=La Mirada Unified School District Board of Education.

(From left to right) Jorge A. Triado, Irene Salazar, and Diego De Lama are all in the running to win selection to the vacant seat on the Norwalk=La Mirada Unified School District Board of Education.

By Raul Samaniego

NORWALK – The Norwalk La Mirada Unified School District Board of Education on Monday, May 22 will interview the five candidates announced as finalists for the vacant seat on the seven-member board.

The Board will select one to become an “interim board member,” who barring any intervention from a citizen challenge, will be sworn in no sooner than 30 days from their appointment.
The appointee will then take their new seat with all the duties and responsibilities of their elected counterparts, overseeing an entity responsible for directing over $200 million a year school budget.

At the board meeting on May 22, an appointee will be selected after all are interviewed and have the opportunity to address the board directly after the interview process.

The event is open to the public at the regularly-scheduled time of 6:30 p.m. in the school board chambers, located at 12820 Pioneer Blvd. in Norwalk.

After meeting all five candidates at an information session, The Patriot interviewed each, asking the same three questions regarding local educational policies and the current national dialogue around education.

Jorge Tirado of La Mirada takes pride in the fact that he has stayed near his three children’s schools as they complete their public education.

He has been both a resident of the city and the district boundaries for over 13 years.
Describing his current profession as an electrical engineer, he also exudes confidence, which may have been honed during his time in the United States Marine Corps.

In his response to transgendered student rights, Tirado said, “I don’t have an opinion on that.”
However, he did add, “It’s up to the local school district to set the guidelines.”

He referenced his “having served four different capacities at our children’s schools: SSC (School Site Council) Secretary, PTA Secretary, safety committee member, and coached soccer.”

On the subject of tax-payer school vouchers, Jorge said, “[They’re] very unbalanced in the long run,” meaning, “They benefit a segment of the population more than another.”

“I don’t think open-ended vouchers is a good idea.”

Tirado stated regarding any relationship with the current board, “I have none.”

When asked about any relationships with board members, Salazar simply stated, “I don’t have any relationship with any of the Board.”

A graduate of the University of La Verne with a master’s degree in leadership and management, Salazar also has a bachelor’s degree in human services from California State University, Fullerton.

According to her resume, her experience includes “directly managing the community outreach and Education Department and WIC programs” for Orange and San Bernardino Counties’ Planned Parenthood locations as a vice president of community outreach and education.

“I am from public school systems,” Salazar said. “Currently, I do believe in the public school system. Our public schools are doing a good job.”

Salazar has lived in La Mirada for 10 years and currently has two children attending elementary and middle schools in the district.

She also shared that she is “heavily involved in sports,” with her daughters especially in softball.

As for her opinion of transgendered students, she said “I believe they hade the right to use the bathroom of their choice.”

“They need the support of teachers and the community,” Salazar said.

Norwalk resident Norma Amezcua cites her passion for those she is working with as her qualifications for school board member consideration. 

Amezcua states in her application, “My passion is and always will be to provide the most vulnerable people with the assistance, support and resources needed to be productive citizens.”

She states that she is an assistant director of childcare and pre-school programs.
She cited that while she doesn’t have a personal relationship with current board members, she has engaged some members through her activities with the Lions Club of Norwalk, where she is an active participant.

With currently no children attending any district schools, she cites her experience; Amezcua also referenced her involvement with the Norwalk’s Lion’s Club as part of her volunteer activities in addition to her association with the Cerritos College Child Development Consortium Advisory Board.

Amezcua is also a “commissioner with the City of Norwalk Social Service Department.”

She stated, “I am a product of public education,” and “I would not recommend [school vouchers]. We have good public schools.”

Speaking regarding transgendered students rights she stated, “We have to respect our students and their rights.”

De Lama is currently waiting for the fall semester to begin where his first child will be enrolling at a NLMUSD school.

Currently employed as a senior relationship banker and assistant vice president for Union Bank, he has resided in La Mirada for 22 years.

De Lama earned a master’s in business administration from Biola University in 2008 after receiving his bachelor’s degree from California State University, Long Beach in 2001.

In addition to his stated financial experience background, he also lists that he is bilingual, speaking and writing in Spanish.

When asked about his opinion regarding school vouchers, De Lama had “no comment” regarding the issue.

In so far as any relationship with the board, he simply stated, “I’ve met them and I see them at events. It has always been professional.”

As for transgendered student rights he shared, “The school environment should be as stress free as possible.”
Finally he added, “I am excited about the opportunity to interview [for the open board seat].”

Cazares has been a teacher for 21 years in the Los Angeles Unified School District. While teaching at Southeast High School in Southgate, he met and, for a while, taught at the same time as Board Member, Darryl Adams.

Other than that, he would see Adams at varies functions supporting events and shared “that was the extent of their relationship.”

Regarding school vouchers, Cazares said, “I’m a product of private schools,” adding “I don’t want anything to be taken from public schools.

“To be honest, I’ve never really thought about [school vouchers].”

When asked about transgendered students, Cazares explained, “I think everyone has the same rights.”

Asking for clarification, he continued, “I don’t have a problem with that [transgender identity].”

Citing the Constitution, he went on to say, “the 14th Amendment gives everyone the same rights.”