October 4, 2020

Nofila Haidar

School DistrictDearborn Public Schools

How long have you lived in your district?

Since 1993

Have you received any endorsements?

No, I have not requested endorsement from any political groups.

Are you an incumbent?


Why do you want to be a school board member?

I have been serving students in Dearborn for over a decade in many capacities. It is time that I serve in the ultimate capacity. I believe that Dearborn schools will be facing many obstacles in the near future. I want to be at the table to help find solutions. Currently Dearborn schools suffer from a capacity issue, budget cuts and need a better plan for equity across the district including the special education department.

What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?

An educated society is a strong society that will continue to grow and progress. Education justice to me is equitable resources and quality education for all students. It means a partnership between educators, parents, policymakers, and involved community members to continuously improve curriculum, learning environment quality and funding for our schools. The topic of education justice is on the table in my school district, but it needs to be pushed into action.

If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?

Change is inevitable when schools reopen. I can see our schools implementing deeper cleaning rituals, smaller class sizes when possible, less students on buses and firm rules against bringing a sick child to school. In my district, smaller class sizes will be impossible unless parents opt to enroll their children in the virtual academy. We simply do not have the sufficient brick and mortar to move students around and we do not have the land or funds to build additional schools. Some families will not be comfortable returning to school in person. We will need more teachers to fulfill the virtual academy classes. In terms of curriculum, I hope to see new lessons regarding health, hygiene, time management, discipline, use of technology and emotional health.

Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?

I have been involved in the Parent Teacher Association for over a decade. I began as a member and volunteer, served as a local unit president, and then served as a Council President of 33 units and over 3500 members for five years. During my service, I was an advocate for students, teachers and parents. I served on many committees and encouraged other parents and families to serve as well. I held community forums and candidates’ forums and I created opportunities for community involvement. My work for the PTA was so distinguished that I was invited to speak on diversity and inclusion at the National PTA Convention in 2019. This is very important to me and I believe that families should be involved in the decisions that are made on behalf of students.

Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

My campaign is powered by the constituents of my district. I have not accepted any contributions from political action committees or political groups.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?

My school district has a capacity issue that needs long term solutions. Neighborhood schools are very important in Dearborn. Equity across the district including special education needs to be discussed. Curriculum equity and improvement as well as bullying need to addressed. Solutions to these goals can only be found using transparency, accountability and firm fiscal responsibility.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?

At the state level my priorities are funding, funding funding!
Standardized testing regulations, supporting teachers and supporting more educational decisions being made at the local level.

What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe?

Covid-19 has brought on some predictable and many unpredictable challenges. The obvious challenges are continuing online schooling and the negative effects that it has brought on students social emotional health. Other challenges include stress on entire family, the teachers, and other staff as well as the technology issues across the board. My district was able to supply each student with a chrome book if they needed one. If we return to school, it will be a challenge for Dearborn to implement social distancing. We have 22,000 students and our buildings are over capacity. There is also a shortage of teachers and substitute teachers; we cannot afford to lose teachers to the virus. School districts need to create a sanitizing, social distancing and personal protection equipment plan to protect teacher, students and staff during school. One life lost due to a lack of planning is one too many.

What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?

My districts spending priorities should be anything that supports educators in the classroom for optimal student success. Budget items such as technology, safety, curriculum, graduation specialists, paraprofessionals, and classroom resources.

What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?

Standardized tests should be used to measure student growth and proficiency. Our teachers should not be teaching to the test. I do not believe in over-testing. Our teachers should be able to spend more time educating students than preparing them for standardized testing.

If you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum , what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same?

Curriculum across the nation has been criticized as being outdated. With the changing times and the new challenges that the world is facing, I would add or increase the importance of a few course requirements. Mental and emotional health, nutrition, financial literacy, technology and communications. I would keep our core requirements such as language arts, math, science, and social studies the same.

What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?

I believe that the school district is responsible for supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health. Unfortunately funding always gets in the way. In my district we have a high school with nearly three thousand students and seven counselors. The ratios are similar throughout the district. The counselors spend most of their time working out student schedules instead of counseling them. Mental and emotional health is critical in my opinion and should be addressed.

How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?

Discipline is a very sensitive topic and there is a fine line between discipline and punishment. I believe in restorative practices and using communication skills to help students realize their mistakes. Suspensions and similar types of discipline do not serve a purpose any more than a time out. Students lose classroom time, fall behind on school work and return to school angry. Restorative practices allow the students to talk about the issues and come up with solutions.

What are your top priorities around special education in your district?

The special education department in my district is open to students from other districts. We have services that other districts do not offer. The special education department needs additional funding to improve the facilities, and hire additional teachers and support staff. Special education is very important to me because I have been an advocate for parents of special needs students for many years. I have heard their stories and understand their needs.

What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

My school district is very diverse, we have students from all over the world and some are learning English for the first time in our classrooms. To create equity for our students, socio-economic status, ethnic origin, and personal circumstances cannot be an obstacle to achieving a good education. Equity can be achieved by placing systemic help for students who begin schooling at a disadvantage or fall behind during their education. We should give priority to early education, create an inclusion plan for immigrant students into mainstream education, prevent drop outs, remove dead ends and direct resources to students with need.

Any other information you want to include or share?

I am a lifelong resident of Dearborn, I have two daughters who are Dearborn Public Schools students. I have served as a member of the Dearborn Schools Strategic Planning Committee, as a Board member of the Dearborn Education Foundation, as a member of the School Improvement Plan Committee, the Early Learning Coalition, Dearborn Goodfellows Board of Directors, and as President of the Dearborn Schools PTA Council – 33 buildings. I served the special needs community as a Board Member of the ACCESS Hope House in Dearborn. I have served students in many capacities and it is time to serve in the ultimate capacity. I am running because we need long term solutions to infrastructure issues, equity, accountability and fiscal responsibility.