Candidates file for Lawrence Township school board elections

Scott Jacobs
Animals were lively at Colonial Lake Park in Lawrence Township on Nov 2.

Five candidates, including three incumbent school board members and two newcomers, have filed to run for three open seats on the Lawrence Township Public Schools Board of Education.

Incumbent school board members Jonathan Dauber, Pepper Evans and Michelle King filed to run for school board by the July 29 deadline. Newcomers Heather Camp and Adena Romeo-Ratliff also filed nominating petitions to run. The term is for three years.

Only one candidate – incumbent school board member Cathy LeCompte – had filed to run for a one-year unexpired term on the school board. She was appointed earlier this year to replace Kelly Edelstein, who resigned from the school board.

Camp, who has lived in Lawrence Township for six years, has one child enrolled in the school district and one child who is on the waiting list for the pre-K lottery.

Camp has worked for 20 years in the nonprofit and higher education fields, most recently as the director of Community Engaged Learning at The College of New Jersey. She is now working in a financial advising office so she can spend more time with her children, she said.

Camp said she is running for a seat on the school board to ensure that it is made up of members who have children in the schools, as well as those who do not have children in the schools or whose children have graduated.

“I think it is important to have a diversity of voices at the table to garner the varying perspectives of district members. If I desire to have certain policies changed or enhanced, I should be willing to roll up my sleeves and get in the mix of things,” she said.

Camp also said she would like to look at some of the data to see where the district can improve the quality of education. She also wants to ensure that children who need more support services can easily obtain them, and that all children are being both challenged and supported to achieve their educational goals.

Dauber, who has lived in Lawrence Township for seven years, has two children who are enrolled in the public schools.

Dauber is the principal at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North in the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District. He is a former administrator in the Lawrence Township Public Schools, having served as the Lawrence High School principal and in other administrative positions in the district.

“I am passionate about education and I believe my experiences as a school leader will provide a useful perspective that supports the school board, the district and the community,” Dauber said.

He said he is seeking re-election because he wants to ensure that the district is meeting the needs of all families within the community. Lawrence is a diverse town, and he wants to help the children receive a well-rounded, “whole child”-focused education that meets their needs.

Evans has lived in Lawrence Township since the 1980s, and is the assistant to the president at the Silver Century Foundation. She also works as an independent living consultant where she helps adults live in their own homes.

Both of Evans’ daughters are graduates of Lawrence High School.

“I am running for rel-election because I believe challenging times in education call for experienced board leadership. Having spent four years on the finance committee, I know we need to remain fiscally responsible while we maintain our programs and buildings,” she said.

She pledged to continue the commitment to academic rigor while not losing sight of the needs of special education students. She also said that while she will support students who are college-bound, she will also support those who are not college bound.

“I remain committed to the district’s equity goals,” Evans said.

King is a 21-year resident of Lawrence Township, and a career educator. She is an adjunct faculty member in the School of Education at The College of New Jersey.

King has five daughters who attended faith-based schools – Catholic parochial schools in grades K-8. Three of her daughters have graduated from – and two of her daughters are currently enrolled in – The Pennington School, which is an independent school that has a strong connection to the Methodist Church.

Pointing to her career in education, as both a teacher and a researcher, King said she wants to continue to use her experience and professional knowledge to serve the public school district.

During her tenure on the board, King said, the district has focused on social and emotional learning and has addressed the mental health needs of students. The board established a special education ad hoc committee to evaluate the district’s ability to meet the needs of special education students.

“I desire to continue the forward momentum of our district and ensure the academic success and social and emotional health and well-being of all our students through re-election to the school board,” King said.

Romeo-Ratliff grew up in Lawrence Township and graduated from Lawrence High School. She is a full-time nursing educator at Mercer County Community College.

Romeo-Ratliff has three children. One attends the Lawrenceville Elementary School and two have been placed by the district in schools outside of the district because of the lack of available programming in the district, she said.

“I am running for school board as I believe even though our schools are great, we can be better. We have excellent facilities and dedicated teachers, (but) students today are more complex than ever before and require more holistic approaches to learning,” she said.

“I am acutely aware of issues with equity and special education in our town that I believe put both students and taxpayers at a disadvantage,” Romeo-Ratliff said, adding that a review of the school district budget makes it clear that these are important issues.

LeCompte, who is running unopposed to fill out a one-year unexpired term, has lived in Lawrence Township for 21 years. Her sons graduated from Lawrence High School.

LeCompte is a marketing graphic designer.

She said she is seeking re-election because she believes in strengthening the public schools. She has volunteered in the schools for more than 15 years, including stints as a former school PTO president and with the music and drama programs.

“In that time, we worked together to enhance programming, resolve problems and improve our children’s education, all within budget,” she said.

Drawing on her background in marketing, branding and communications, LeCompte said that as a school board member, she would ensure that parents, students and the community are informed about the district in a timely and relevant manner.