CARLSBAD — Kelli Moors will retire as a Carlsbad Unified School District Board of Trustees member after serving in the position for more than 12 years.
Moors has accepted a full-time position in the client services department of the law firm Fagen, Friedman & Fulfrost. Consequently, she is retiring from her post on the school board due to a potential conflict of interest because of the law firm’s working relationship with CUSD and other California public school districts.
Her retirement will take effect as of Sept. 2, and the CUSD board will determine whether to fill her position via a special election or provisional appointment at its Aug. 14 meeting.
“Public education is what I care about down to my core,” said Moors.
Prior to running for the board, she had served for years with the PTA and Carlsbad Education Foundation and campaigned successfully to pass the 1996 bond.
The San Diego native first ran and won her position in the 2000 election, when her daughter was a sixth grade student in the district.
“I really ran because I saw so many good parts of the district that I really wanted to be a part of,” she said.
Despite a rough start, having been cited for failure to properly file a campaign finance statement with the Fair Political Practices Commission for that 2000 election, Moors held on to her position on the Board and earned the respect of her colleagues.
“I have great respect for Kelli as a fellow board member and as a friend,” said current Board President Elisa Williamson. “We’ve sat side by side for 12 1/2 years and without exception she came to board meetings well prepared, but with an open mind. Many times I’ve heard her say, ‘I’m willing to be convinced…just help me understand your view.’”
Looking back, Moors pointed to the passage of Proposition P, a $198 million bond passed in 2006 for school renovations and a new high school, as her greatest accomplishment.
“It was a labor of love and it was a lot of work,” she said of campaigning for its passage.
She said that there are two big challenges for CUSD that she sees on the horizon: The district’s financial standing and the implementation of new statewide education standards.
“(The district) is a multimillion dollar organization and we are not out of the woods financially. I think better times are ahead…but it is a slow process moving toward where we should be,” she said.
She added that the district has a lot of work ahead of it to help employees and the public to understand the new state standards, starting this year.
Of her years on the board, Moors said she will particularly treasure the memory of handing out diplomas at last year’s graduation at Carlsbad High School.
“Last June when I stood on the stage at Carlsbad High and handed out diplomas, it was extremely poignant for me, first of all because I know I may be leaving, but having been on the board for 12 years…for many of (the students) I may have seen them start kindergarten as a new board member,” she said.
“It was very sweet to hand out 700 diplomas to kids who I had called my class. I’m glad I had sunglasses on that day because I was getting kind of teary eyed.”
She and her family intend on starting a scholarship for students from CUSD’s new high school wishing to pursue technical studies in college.
A New Vocal Candidate
One community member has already declared his intention to seize Moors’ soon-to-be open seat on the Board.
Shortly after Moors’ retirement was announced, 18-year-old former CUSD student Sage Naumann began campaigning for her position by sending out emails and Facebook posts urging for support and publicizing an endorsement from former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio.
Naumann had already initiated a campaign to run in the Board’s 2014 election in January and has been a regular attendee of the first half of school board meetings throughout the year.
Standing on a platform emphasizing fiscal responsibility, community connection and increasing campus technology, he said, “I’m doing what I can to raise my supporters to elect someone who is not like Kelli, who will listen to what they (the Carlsbad community) want.”
Naumann was quick to publicly imply that Moors’ new position at Fagen, Friedman & Fulfrost is connected to the CUSD Board increasing its contract with the law firm in July 2012.
On Aug. 6, he sent out emails and posted messages online titled, “Does this look suspicious to you?”, that point out the contract increase and that former CUSD Superintendent John Roach resigned in 2012 to take a consulting position for the same law firm.
Yet, Moors had not started pursuing new employment at the time that the law firm’s contract had come before the district’s board in 2012.
She did so months later only after her previous position at Tri-City Medical Center was eliminated in March 2013.
She said that she is leaving the Board for the precise reason that there would be a potential conflict with her new position at Fagen, Friedman & Fulfrost.