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Jennifer Brandse faces two other challengers for Position 1, but the race for Hillsboro's four open school board seats are getting crowded.

BrandsePresident Donald Trump's pick to head the U.S. Department of Education was a controversial choice when she was confirmed last month. So controversial, in fact, that it has inspired one local mother to run for the Hillsboro School Board.

Jennifer Brandse is one of nearly a dozen people who have filed to run for four open seats on the school board in the past month.

Brandse, a freelance graphic designer from Hillsboro, said she was inspired to run after the confirmation of Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Secretary of Education.

"During her confirmation hearings, she didn't understand what the (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) was about, and that's something that has benefited my child, and every other child in school," Brandse told The Tribune on Monday.

Known as IDEA, the federal civil rights law was signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, ensuring that students with disabilities are able to attend public school.

Brande's daughter has Down Syndrome, and Brandse has worked as a disability rights advocate for years.

"That law gives my daughter the right to get a free and appropriate education," she said. "… The state of what's happening in our country gave me the final push to run for school board."

Brandse said she is happy with the direction the board has been moving over the past several years, and said she doesn't see herself changing the board's direction.

"My focus is definitely on curriculums," she said. "I have a strong opinion that areas outside of academics, such as the arts, music ... those are all very important. That's something I'd push more for. Woodshop, home economics, those are very important to our kids."

Brandse is running in Position 1, a crowded three-way race which includes city employee Erika Lopez and community volunteer April Davis.

The three women are running to replace Janeen Sollman, a two-term board member who has said she won't seek re-election after she was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives last fall.

Candidates have until Thursday, March 16 to file to run for the school board.


Who's running for school board?

Position 1:

Jennifer Brandse

April Davis

Erika Lopez


Position 2:

Glenn D. Miller (incumbent)

Mark Watson


Position 3:

Monte Akers (incumbent)

Martin Granum


Position 6:

Kevin Currin-Smith

Alexander Flores

Jacqueline Spross

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