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To the Editor:
LaToya Fernandez cares deeply about children and will bring an educator’s perspective to the Board of Education. She was an elementary school teacher. She founded a community-based organization that empowered marginalized youth, to boost their confidence and help close the achievement gap. She has done restorative justice work with students, urging them to listen to each other with empathy in order to resolve conflicts. Now, she is the Chief Diversity Equity and Inclusion Officer for the City of Norwalk.
I have read some concerns about the selection of LaToya for the Board of Education. If people knew LaToya’s qualifications and who she is as a person, I believe they would give her more grace and understand the motivation of her actions. LaToya is a protector of human rights and of children, so she stands up for them.
The concerns pertain to LaToya’s support of the Defund the Police movement in California and her signing of a letter supporting HR 2590: The Palestinian Children and Families Act. I had the opportunity to hear LaToya’s thoughtful explanation of her actions. In both instances, she spoke up because she was concerned about the safety and human rights of others.
In the case of Defund the Police, she was advocating for some portion of California’s police department funds to be allocated to public services (e.g. support for homelessness, drug treatment, or mental health services). More adequately funding social services to support all our community members makes sense to me. In some areas of the country, police are spending a lot of time responding to people in crisis. In those areas, if these crises were prevented or handled by experts in mental health, police could focus on preventing and solving crimes.
I read the letter she signed in support of Palestinian children and heard her explanation. She was concerned about the welfare of Palestinian children and also of Israeli civilians who were being killed in the conflict. She was advocating for peace for the benefit and safety of all.
I support LaToya for Board of Education and urge you to vote for her in November. She will be a strong advocate for all of West Hartford public school children.