LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Unified School District school board has selected a 16-year old high school junior from the STEM Academy at Helen Bernstein High School to serve as an official student voice on the board to offer a student’s insight into the issues and challenges facing the district.
Leon Popa was sworn in as the board’s student representative during a brief ceremony Jan. 12, and then took his seat on the dais.
“I have the passion and will to help all students claim the education they need and deserve,” said Popa, an aspiring doctor. “I want all students to have their voices heard.”
Popa will serve a one-year, unpaid term. He will participate in public discussions, but will not attend closed-session meetings or have access to confidential materials.
The seat was created after more than 3,000 students signed petitions last year, seeking representation on the school board. The California Education Code permits at least one nonvoting student member to be elected or appointed to a school district’s governing board.
Popa was selected by student government leaders from high schools across the district in an election that fielded five other candidates. Taylor Hanes, a senior at Verdugo Hills High School, was chosen as the student alternate on the board.
“I am thrilled to welcome Leon Popa to the board,” school board President Steve Zimmer said. “This is an important and significant moment for Los Angeles. Student voice finally has its proper place in the dialogue about the policy decisions that affect the lives of our students.
“LAUSD is here to serve the needs of our students and we must include their voice at the table where decisions are made,” board member Mónica García added.