Voter's Guide, 2020 Fall Elections, New Orleans
NameCarlos Luis Zervigon

Campaign Information

Campaign Web Sitehttp:///

Bio Information

Party AffiliationDemocrat
Present Employer / positionZervigon Sculpture Studio, Owner
Length of residence in Jurisdiction54 years
List of educational institutions and degrees(Graduate, McMain High School)

Tulane University, BA History with Teachers Certification and BFA Glass Sculpture

University of New Orleans, MAHT Masters in History Teaching
Prior elected and appointed positionsElected to the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee, District A

Elected to the Louisiana Democratic State Central Committee, District 98B
Civic involvement and affiliations2015 to present. Member of the Board of Benjamin Franklin High School, New Orleans. Member of the School Head Search Committee, 2015. Board President 2018-2020.

2005 to 2011. Founding Board Chair, Audubon Charter School. Board Chair 2005-2010, Vice-Chair 2010-2011. Member of School Head Search Committee, 2016.

2006 to 2012. Co-founder, New Orleans Creative Glass Institute. President/CEO 2008 to 2012.

2009 to present. Member of the Board of the Louisiana SPCA. Vice President 2016-2017. Board Secretary 2014-2015. Founding Chair of the Government Relations and Advocacy Committee 2012-2015.

2015 to 2017. Founding Treasurer and Secretary of the Board, New Orleans College Beyond, New Orleans.

Questions specific to the position

1. Describe your view about school board oversight of charter schools. What changes do you believe are needed to improve performance? The district should respect school autonomy as outlined in Orleans Parish School Board policy, state law, and school charters. However, the district has the responsibility to intervene when a school is consistently underperforming. When it comes to accountability, this is where the rubber meets the road. If the district shirks this responsibility, the entire structure of autonomy and accountability will begin to fail, and it will be the students who suffer. It is critically important, though, that the district work with and support school operators throughout the duration of their charters. It would be a mistake for the district to stay aloof, only jumping in when problems manifest themselves.

The best way to improve school performance is to replicate successful schools while also providing significant support to the schools that are struggling. In addition to this, we must continue to address gaps in the areas of special education, transportation, community schooling, and parent engagement. While we have made tremendous improvements in the school system, the biggest remaining obstacle to improving student learning outcomes is poverty. OPSB members should fight for equity in all areas that impact our families including housing, wages, healthcare access, and the criminal justice system. We should also assist school operators in forming cooperative endeavors for “wraparound support services” in such areas as healthcare access and social/emotional support services.
2. What is your vision and three top priorities for NOLA-PS for the next five years? What obstacles do you foresee and what steps will you implement to overcome them? 1. Close the gap between the highest- and lowest-performing schools.
2. Improve healthcare services in schools and expand the offered services to include mental health and trauma-informed care.
3. Decrease the turnover rate we’re seeing with NOLA-PS leaders and teachers.

I think 1. and 2. above are very closely related. The better we can serve the whole child, the better student performance will be. And as I stated above, while we work to promote the replication of the highest-performing schools, we must also provide significant support to the schools that are struggling. One constant obstacle the schools face is the lack of sufficient resources. One of the most important roles of a school board member is to represent the schools well in order to build trust in the school system among the voters. When voters have a greater sense of trust in the school system, they are willing to invest more in public education.

The Orleans Parish School Board must support our schools and charter operators to develop a stronger sense of community, collegiality, and cooperation within and among school sites. A recent study found the turnover rate of school leaders over the past two school years to be over 20%. That’s over one in five schools with new leadership. These leaders didn’t leave because of benefits or pay; they left because there were inadequate supports. I can help change that as a school board member. I’ve been a teacher, and I understand the challenges our education leaders face.
3. In the Accountability Framework, there is no indication of any input from faculty members. What are your thoughts about giving teachers more input to decide how their performance is judged? When it comes to judging a school’s performance, we must consider the whole child and not confine this judgment to academic test results alone. Input from students and families must be considered. And it is crucial that faculty members have extensive input. They are the ones monitoring and examining performance on a daily basis; they are the ones who know exactly where a given child’s performance is suffering and why. If we truly believe that decisions should be made as close to the child as possible, then input from all these participants and stakeholders would be invaluable additions to the Accountability Framework, but I believe faculty input is paramount, and I would work to ensure it is required.
4. What approaches will you implement to ensure that the needs of special education students are fully met? As a student who struggled with learning disabilities, I know, personally, how critical special education is. And I know we must find better solutions than the ones we currently use. We are six years into a settlement to have a special monitor for our special needs students, and we’re still failing too many. It’s unacceptable. Individually, our schools do not have the resources or capacity to adequately provide special education services for students across the spectrum. That is why I will move to centralize coordination of special education services across NOLA-PS to ensure the needs of all students are met.
5. Last year some students were unable to graduate because of improper management of graduation requirements by school administrators. Do you think these issues could happen again and, if so, what steps would you like to see implemented to prevent this? I do think it could happen again. And the Orleans Parish School Board must do everything in its power to ensure that such administrative failure does not occur. Annual audits of every school’s graduation requirement tracking systems should be mandated. And school administrators who commit such failures must be held accountable.