OUR ENDORSEMENTS FOR THE PALOS VERDES PENNINSULA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT (PVPUSD)
PVP Watch has closely scrutinized the 9 people
running for the 4 contested seats on the Palos
Verdes Peninsula Unified School District (PVPUSD)
Board of Education.
We drafted a questionnaire asking the candidates
pertinent questions regarding the PVPUSD;
interviewed each candidate; watched candidate
forums; and listened to comments from residents
regarding this race.
We then discussed, debated and decided who PVP
Watch believes will be best people to lead PVPUSD
at this time. With so many qualified candidates it was not easy.
How our students in our District will be educated and what they will learn is vitally important to our future for our students and for their families.
Board members serve with no compensation, while forsaking countless hours with family, friends, their professions and doing other things to enhance their lives.
The good news is that, from PVP Watches viewpoint, all 9 candidates are exceptionally well qualified to serve on the PVPUSD school board. See our assessments below.
Jeffrey Frankel who was elected to the school board in November 2020 died in April 2021.
Ami Gandhi was selected by the 4 remaining members of the school board to replace Frankel.
California state law mandates Gandhi’s seat be contested for the remaining two years.
Ghandi is seeking to be elected and her challenger is Aaron Chan.
The other seven candidates are vying for 3 seats
with four-year terms.
Ami Gandhi, the incumbent, has served on the
Board for about 17 months. She and her family
moved to Rancho Palos Verdes (RPV) 6 years ago
and she has 2 children in the PVPUSD.
She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Southern California and a master’s in public health from Loma Linda University.
She has worked in the healthcare field for over 16 years. She was on the school site council at Point Vicente Elementary School 2019-2021.
To learn more about Gandhi visit her website GANDHI4PV.COM.
Aaron Chan, the other candidate in this race, and
his family have resided in RPV since 1995. His two
children both graduated of Palos Verdes Peninsula
Chan has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Southern Illinois University and a Master of Business Administration from Carnegie Mellon University.
He has worked for Westinghouse Electric Corporation ; Hughes Aircraft; Ernst & Young; and JD Power and Associates.
He has been a 6th-grade teacher, instructor for a sophomore engineering course, a volunteer high school mathematics teacher and a CASA volunteer for special needs children.
Chan, in our opinion, is a “man with a plan.”
Of all candidates interviewed for PVPUSD, Chan was the most prepared and thorough.
Whereas most candidates portray the school district as doing well Chan points out its financial challenges and potential solutions.
Chan did not support school bond Measure PV in 2020, believing it had too many wants when it should have
He offers a sensible fiscal plan for raising funds to improve facilities.
Chan is the only candidate who other competing candidates volunteered has a good grasp on the financial needs of the District going forward.
PVP Watch is impressed with Chan’s knowledge of the District’s strengths and weaknesses and supports his plans to make the District the best that it can be.
PVP Watch endorses Aaron Chan.
To learn more about Chan’s plans and opinion of the current state of the school district visit his website www.aaronchan4pvpusd2022.com.
REMAINING 3 SEATS WITH 4 YEAR TERMS
Matthew Brach is an incumbent running for a
second term. He has a child that graduated from
Palos Verdes Peninsula High School and another
one currently a student there.
Brach has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Northwestern University and has attended Cornell University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He is a business owner and an expert in counter terrorism and force protection.
Brach has been president of the Southern California
Regional Occupation Center.
To learn more about Brach visit his website at www.brachforpvpusd.com.
Sara Deen and her family moved to RPV in 2014.
She has two children in the PVPUSD.
She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of California Berkeley and then went to the University of California San Francisco for her dental education.
She has practiced dentistry throughout the United
She is now president of the South Coast Interfaith Council and is the co-vice chairperson of the PVPUSD facilities advisory committee.
To learn more about Deen visit her website at
Linda Kurt, now retired, was a teacher at high
school and intermediate school level for 40 years,
37 of them in the PVPUSD.
She has taught mathematics and science courses and for 8 years was the mathematics department
chairwoman at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School.
Kurt was also a swim coach and a Girl Scout troop
leader. Her 4 children were educated in and
graduated from the PVPUSD.
Kurt received degrees in earth science and
psychology from Stanford University. She earned
her teaching credential from San Francisco State
University and a master’s degree from Grand
Canyon College in education.
To learn more about Kurt visit her website at LindaKurtForPVPUSD.com.
Jeremy Vanderhal and his wife moved to RPV 6
years ago and have a three-year-old daughter.
Vanderhal graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and has a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Alabama and a master’s in business administration from the University of Southern California.
He is a pilot for American Airlines and
flies for the California Air National Guard.
To learn more about Vanderhal visit his website at
Julie Hamill and her family moved to RPV in 2018. She has two grammar school age children in the PVPUSD.
She graduated from the University of San Diego and received her law degree from American University.
She has been practicing law 12 years.
Hamill is the founder of the Alliance for Los Angeles County Parents; chair of the RPV planning commission; previous member of the RPV traffic safety committee;
former PTA board member; and has acted as
counsel to the city of RPV as well as the Palos
Verdes Homes Association.
Hamill filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County
Department of Public Health to prevent it from
reimposing mask mandates on children in school.
She supports school policymaking being done in a
public forum, not behind closed doors, so that
parents and other interested parties can have input.
Hamill will seek a prioritized capital improvements budget to allocate funds for needed capital improvements and she disputes that the District has a surplus.
She supports exploring endowments and corporate sponsorships for funding. Her focus is on academic excellence and the needs of students.
PVP Watch believes Hamill has an in-depth knowledge of the community, is a strong advocate for children and
will be a valuable addition to the school board.
PVP Watch endorses Julie Hamill.
To learn more about Hamill visit her website at www.hamill4pv.com.
Jennifer “Jenny” Handjian and her family have lived
in Palos Verdes for 16 years. She has a 5th and a
Handijian has been active in the PTA since
her children began school. She has been PTA
president at Montemalaga Elementary twice and
has served on the Palos Verdes Peninsula PTA
Handjian is a Vanderbilt University graduate with a master’s degree from the University of Southern California.
Handjian is concerned that the District’s academic scores and rankings have suffered since its adaptation of
Common Core ten years ago and says that she will do all
she can to reverse this trend and improve the curriculum.
She will also strive to involve and communicate with parents and work with teachers.
Fiscally, she feels the District must prioritize needs over wants.
PVP Watch believes Handjian has exhibited leadership qualities and champions policies that will serve the community well while serving on the school board.
PVP Watch endorses Jenny Handjian.
To learn more about Handjian visit her website at www.votejenny4pv.com.
Jean Liu Christen and her family moved to Rancho
Palos Verdes 9 years ago. She has 6 daughters.
3 graduated from Palos Verdes Peninsula High
School and are attending college, and 3
currently attend school in the PVPUSD.
She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in international
relations from University of California Davis.
Christen has worked in the global sourcing and
product development field. She is currently chief operations officer for a non-profit, Influencewomen.org, which supports women in the media and entertainment
She has received the California State Parent
Teacher Student Association (PTSA) honorary
service award twice. She is president of the
Peninsula High School PTSA 2020-2022; a board
trustee for the Peninsula Education Foundation; an
executive board member on the PTA at Point
Vicente Grammar School, Ridgecrest Intermediate
and Peninsula High School.
Christen believes that the good teachers in
the District should be recognized and rewarded.
She also believes that schools should concentrate on the 'basics', languages, mathematics, science, technology, writing, communication skills and financial literacy.
Christen supports a grammar school foreign language immersion program as an asset to students and the District.
She is against schools assuming the responsibilities of
Christen will seek state grants to enhance
funding by lobbying congress members as was recently done with Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi resulting in a $500,000 grant going to Peninsula High School to improve their restrooms.
She is against raising taxes, if possible, and only
using a bond measure approved by voters as a last resort.
PVP Watch believes Christen’s close association with the
schools and other youth organizations for the last
several years, her background and policy positions
will make her a valuable addition to the school
PVP Watch endorses Jean Liu Christen.
To learn more about Christen visit her website at
The new school board will face many problems and
perhaps the most important will be in academics.
Ed Source, a website that reports on California
education issues, recently reported that test scores
across the state have shown a steep decline in
reading and mathematics. Meanwhile, the
American College Testing (ACT) reported that the
high school class of 2022 had the lowest ACT scores
in over 30 years.
PVPUSD must find solutions.
To meet this challenge PVP Watch encourages you to vote for Aaron Chan, Julie Hamill, Jenny Handjian and Lean Liu Christen.
That said, we will say again, all of these candidates, in our opinion, are outstanding, any/all of them will do an excellent job as board members. Please review their websites and our recommendations and make your choices.
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