Palo Alto Unified School District’s school board election will be held on Nov. 8, and will fill two open seats. Incumbent Shounak Dharap will be running along with Shana Segal, Ingrid Campos and Nicole Chiu-Wang. Verde spoke with each candidate to learn more about their campaigns.

Shounak Dharap

Incumbent and future PAUSD parent Shounak Dharap, who has served a four-year term on the board, is prioritizing similar issues as his previous campaign, stating that they are still prevalent.

“I ran the first time around really emphasizing mental health, really emphasizing equity, really emphasizing good governance,” Dharap said. “Since that time, we’ve set a lot of things in motion in the district that were sort of part of my campaign promises.”

Dharap said that the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically affected the school board’s ability to make progress, leaving him unfulfilled.

“I really feel an obligation to run again, because there are all these great things that are set in motion, but haven’t been seen to completion,” Dharap said. “It’s really important for me to be able to be on the board to make sure that those things are followed through.”

If elected, Dharap believes that his understanding of the relationships between the board and the community, along with his experience as a lawyer, will allow for better communication.


“It has been a real pleasure to be able to talk to so many members of the community, so many students to see how my decisions have affected them.”

— Shounak Dharap, school board candidate


“A lot of decisions about budget, about funding, about initiatives, about programs, are very, very difficult decisions, because there are so many perspectives on them,” Dharap said. “I have learned to become comfortable with listening to all those perspectives.”

After four years on the board, Dharap said he is excited to have a chance to serve again.

“It has been a real pleasure to be able to talk to so many members of the community, so many students to see how my decisions have affected them,” Dharap said. “It’s extremely meaningful for me as an alumni, and as a parent advocate who’s going to be in this district very soon.”

Shana Segal

Former teacher, Henry M. Gunn High School alumna and Palo Alto parent Shana Segal plans on strengthening communication, among other goals, if elected to the school board.

“I’m running because my first goal is to build back a collaborative community,” Segal said. “Until we have built back this trust and mutual respect, I feel like the other pieces can’t come into play.”

Segal said that having more aides in classrooms can help fix differentiated learning, a heavily problematic area in her opinion.

“In order for kids to love learning, they need to be supported, engaged and challenged,” Segal said. “One way to accomplish that goal is through differentiated instruction.”


“I felt like I wanted to wait until I had two children in school to have had years of experience seeing what’s working … I love public schools. That’s been my passion.”

— Shana Segal, school board candidate


Other key concerns that Segal plans to address are diversity, equity and inclusion.

“One way to help students who are struggling and to close the achievement gap is to have after-school programs starting in the kindergarten level, at every school, and at every grade for kids who are behind in reading or writing,” Segal said.

Segal said her experience with teaching and parenting PAUSD elementary schoolers makes her a strong candidate. 

“I felt like I wanted to wait until I had two children in school to have had years of experience seeing what’s working,” Segal said. “I love public schools. That’s been my passion.”

Ingrid Campos

Former businesswoman Ingrid Campos’ experiences with her children’s education in Palo Alto motivated her to join the school board race with plans to promote American greatness and family values.

“I’m running because I want to build a bridge, a communication bridge between the school board, the students, the community and the parents,” Campos said.

While many of the other candidates have clearly stated their agendas, Campos said that she will tackle issues as they come.


“Some parents … are not happy with the readily available and accessible and openly public LGBTQ books that are starting to pop up in the library.”

— Ingrid Campos, school board candidate


“I don’t know about concrete plans, but I know I’m going to give it my best shot,” Campos said. “Making outright statements like that? I would never make those kinds of statements. I’m not a politician. I’m a realist. I’m a mother.”

Being a member of the California Federation of Republican Women and a more conservative candidate, some of Campos’ biggest priorities are advancing liberty and American greatness in schools.

“We’re the only country in the world who has a constitution,” Campos said. “We have constitutional rights that we take for granted (Editors’ note: Verde’s research found 193 countries with constitutions around the world. Campos clarified that she believes the American Constitution is the only constitution that was drafted to combine social, political, and economic principles in the governing of law).”

Campos, being a PAUSD mother of two, said she found parent gatherings and meetings helpful in defining her goals and hearing people’s opinions about the district.

“Some parents … are not happy with the readily available and accessible and openly public LGBTQ books that are starting to pop up in the library,” Campos said.

Other topics, such as mental health or equity, are not a priority for Campos, as she believes that there are bigger issues to address. Campos singled out the district’s handling of mental health, saying that it was overemphasized.

“Nobody trusts the [school wellness] counselors,” Campos said. “Peer counseling is probably more effective, or talking to their friends.”

Campos said that her hard work will help her represent the community and its values.

“The foundations that are set today are going to really set the foundations for the future,” Campos said. “Our children are our future … I would be honored to serve on the school board.”

Nicole Chiu-Wang

PAUSD parent of two Nicole Chiu-Wang is running on a platform focused on improving student wellness, early childhood education, empowering students and equity.

“I have for decades, basically since I was in college, been really passionate about equity,” Chiu-Wang said. “I want to be a part of the positive impact that we can have on equity in our schools.”


“As a biracial Asian American, I feel my whole life I’ve been acting as a bridge, forming bridges between communities.”

— Nicole Chiu-Wang, school board candidate


Chiu-Wang believes that equity issues can be resolved by improving preschool resources.

“It would be a net new expense,” Chiu-Wang said. “But it’s an investment because we do spend money now working on equity opportunity gap issues that potentially could be alleviated with early childhood education.”

Mental health support is another area that Chiu-Wang plans to address.

“We need to make sure that our staffing of mental health professionals is diverse and representative of the community,” Chiu-Wang said.

Though her children are younger, attending elementary school and preschool, Chiu-Wang feels that she can still make accurate assessments on PAUSD issues as a whole.

“I’m forming all these relationships and making it a point to speak to parents and students and stakeholders … to be able to get a sense of the bigger picture of what’s happening,” Chiu-Wang said.

Chiu-Wang, who had a career in law and ran a fashion technology startup, also said she believes her personal background will provide useful insight as a board member.

“As a biracial Asian American, I feel my whole life I’ve been acting as a bridge, forming bridges between communities,” Chiu-Wang said. “I think that’s what we need here in Palo Alto.”

Which school board candidate(s) do you support?