NewsCovering Kern County


A closer look at those running for Board of Education in Area 7

School Backpacks
Posted at 7:22 AM, Oct 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-11 10:30:05-04

KERN COUNTY, Calif. (KERO) — During the pandemic, school board meetings became a place of great debate for many parents nationwide. With the current election season ramping up, 23ABC spoke with those running for the Kern County Board of Education.

Lori Cisneros is running for the Board of Education in Area 7, which covers Tehachapi, Mojave, El Tejon, Caliente, and the South Fork Union School District. She is focusing on "parent rights," and talked about concerns over gender or LGBTQ-based conversations, Critical Race Theory, and vaccine mandates. According to her, all of that should be at a parent’s discretion and not in the classroom.

Cisneros was a teacher for 20 years at public and charter schools until her district let her go because she did not get the required COVID-19 vaccine. She said that is what prompted her to run this year.

Four years ago, she moved from Bakersfield to Tehachapi, where she now teaches farm sustainability to kids K through 12. When asked about her main concerns, this was the response:

"Number one: Make sure that these meetings are available to the public so they know firsthand, in the moment, what these boards are making decisions on and what this board is making decisions on."

Since meetings are not recorded, Cisneros claims it is just not feasible for parents from her area to attend them.

Cisneros also said school safety is right up there on her priority list. It's also the main priority for the incumbent to this seat.

Ernie Bell is a Ridgecrest native and was appointed to the position last year. He is hoping to be elected this time around.

Bell spent 35 years in education as a teacher, coach, principal, and Superintendent of the Sierra Sands Unified School District. He said that one thing he's noticed and wants to continue working on is the teacher shortage.

"The things we are dealing with, with drugs, alcohol, and abuse at home. There are just so many of them that we were so unaware of for so long," said Bell. "Now that they are coming to light, having the capability and funding to deal with those particular issues is critically important."

He also said that although he's very open-minded, he also has conservative values and has learned the position doesn’t have too much power in certain areas that oversee class lessons.