Rodney “Rod” Velez, candidate for Broward County School Board, District 1 – Sun Sentinel

Campaign website: vote4velez.com

Date and place of birth: 05/08/1970

The Legislature in 2022 passed a law (HB 1467) that allows parents to object to books they consider “inappropriate.” Do you support or oppose this law and why?

I believe that once we start removing books, it starts to infringe upon our nation’s free speech. I believe the parents have the right to be a part of the process, just not 100% of the decision. We need to rely on and trust our educators.

The Legislature passed HB 1557, which bans classroom discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3 and in higher grades unless it is “age-appropriate.” Critics have called it the “don’t say gay” law. Do you support or oppose it and why?

This is an unnecessary law. In BCPS gender identity or sexual orientation is not a part of the K-3 teaching curriculum. Here is the link to Family Life and Human Sexuality Curriculum Overview in BCPS:

https://www.browardschools.com/cms/lib/FL01803656/Centricity/Domain/13475/Appendix%20E%20FLHS%20Scope%20and%20Sequence%20_UPDATEDtoED.pdf

Define what you consider “age appropriate” for classroom discussion of sexual orientation.

In BCPS, sexual orientation conversations begin at the High School level, which I am in agreement with for my children.

Do you believe that Florida schools try to indoctrinate students, and why?

I can only speak to BCPS, no. I am directly involved with my kids’ schools, if it was happening I would know. I think it’s important for our schools to teach diversity, inclusion and be able to have open and constructive conversations, as long as it’s age appropriate.

The school district will ask voters to extend and/or increase an existing property tax that is allowed by state law subject to vote approval. Do you support or oppose this tax increase, and why?

I do support it. This is the plan on how the resources will be divided:

75 percent – ​​Increase compensation to recruit and retain teachers.

17 percent – ​​Provide funding for school resource officers (SRO) and school safety staff.

8 percent – ​​Preserve important programs, such as mental health programs and personnel.

During these times when there’s an exodus of teachers leaving, we need this to pass in order to be competitive with other school districts.

Referendum Link: https://www.browardschools.com/secure

What do you think of changes made in school safety since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School? Things have improved. What still needs to change?

Establish an improved vetting process of SRO’s to make sure they understand the community. Bring more notoriety to increase involvement in programs with students, teachers, staff and parents, such as, (See something, say something) SaferWatch App., Alyssa’s Alert and Statewide dashboards, such as Safe Schools For Alex to monitor and reduce School violence.

How would you assess the performance of Superintendent Vickie Cartwright?

I have personally interacted with her during several events, which gives me a different perspective than other people might have experienced. I’ve heard her talk about equity and inclusion, which are important. She has implemented a new organizational chart in order to improve staff production. I believe she is headed in the right direction, but there are things that I feel she needs to improve upon, like listening to the community, increasing transparency, holding herself and her staff accountable and restoring the respect of the volunteers that give their time to our schools and committees.

Grand juries for decades have accused the district and School Board members of corruption or incompetence. How do you change that culture?

As a School Board Member, I will be more transparent and hold myself accountable. I will conduct community meetings to be inclusive and provide any new information. I will be the model of what a School Board Member should be.

How would you assess the district’s implementation of the $800 million bond issue that voters approved in 2014?

There are some things that were done right, like completing most of the athletic and music phases. However, the construction phase has fallen behind significantly.

Do you support or oppose the School Board’s decision to defy Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order on mask mandates in schools, and why?

Support, because it’s a Pandemic and there were so many unknowns. I believe that the masks have value in helping to curb the spread of COVID, especially in poor circulation, indoor environments, and therefore, are one of many effective tools we have at our disposal. As such, I advocate for masking when people are in these types of settings, my children and family included.

The governor advocates an agenda for the school board candidates that emphasize “parental rights” and “combatting the woke agenda from infiltrating public schools,” as quoted on his website. Do you support or oppose this initiative and why?

My job as a School Board Member will be to protect ALL of our children. My right as a parent, is to advocate for my children and the other children who don’t have a voice. The focus of my platform is to get back to the basics and build a solid foundation for education to happen. We have to give them the best opportunity to be successful in this changing world.

Should Florida’s commissioner of education be elected or appointed, and why?

Elected. We need to leave it up to the community to make the best decision for our state, just as they do for the governor’s seat.

PERSONAL

List in reverse chronological order each college or university attended with years of attendance.

1989-1991 Broward Community College

List in reverse chronological order your work history for the past 15 years.

2009-Present Continental Fidelity Corp./The Balogh Company, Senior Property Manager.

2003-2009 Rican Construction, Residential Remodeling, Owner.

Have you ever been a party to a lawsuit, including bankruptcy or foreclosure? If so, provide details of the case and disposition.

No

Have you ever been charged or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, including adjudication of guilt withheld? If so, provide charges, dates and terms of award.

Aggravated Battery, 1995, 1 year of probation. I was forced to defend myself in a life-threatening situation. I didn’t know enough to fight the charges and wanted to just move on, so I now have this on my record. While everyone ended up ok and has moved forward, it was a catalyst in my life that pointed me in a different direction. Life is full of teachable moments and now I have a beautiful family and a successful career. Many of the children in my district are faced with similar decisions on a daily basis and I hope that I can inspire them to make the right choices.

List current and former memberships in civic, fraternal or social organizations.

Den Leader for CubScout Pack 954. Scoutmaster for BoyScout Troop 420. I serve as Debbi Hixon’s appointee for the DAC Committee, Hollywood’s Education Advisory Committee and Beachside Montessori’s SAC committee, PTSA member and PTSA Social Media Chair.

Why should voters elect you instead of your opponent(s)?

I research all of the options that are available to me and I do not accept the first or easy answer. I listen to people’s concerns and try to help come up with a viable solution on the issues at hand. With my 20+ years experience in construction, I can provide insight and make sure we have well maintained facilities.

Where our employees work and our students learn are fundamental to conveying the message that they are valued. I am the only candidate in District 1 that has 2 children currently enrolled in the BCPS system.

What in your life experience best qualifies you to serve as a school board member?

My perspective as a parent with 2 children currently in the BCPS system drives me even more and ensures that I will be committed to being a successful School Board Member. My 20 plus years of construction knowledge and expertise can help bring a different perspective to a diverse School Board, that mostly consists of former teachers. My experience in Scouts has taught me skills and traits that I can implement across our District with our children. Teaching them how to be good human beings, upstanding citizens and great leaders.

Leave a Comment