Pinal County Schools Superintendent Jill Broussard today appointed Carolyn Lopez, an advocate for students with disabilities, to the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board.
She will fill the vacancy created by longtime school board member Gary Miller, who resigned in September, citing changes in his career.
Lopez will be seated as a school board appointee until Dec. 31, 2024. Then, she will need to run for election.
“She obviously met the criteria and had a solid background and should be a great benefit to the community,” Nicole O’Brien, Broussard’s assistant, said on behalf of the county schools superintendent this morning.
Lopez was one of six applicants for the position. Other applicants were Darris Pedro, Kelly Anderson, Shawnte’ Rothschild, Emily Brems and an applicant who asked the superintendent’s office to not be named.
Lopez and her husband, Robert, have five children and own a home in Maricopa, where they have lived since 2020. The family relocated from Phoenix’s Maryvale neighborhood and lived in Silverton, Ore., before that.
Two of their children, one aged 4 and the other over 18, have disabilities.
Consequently, special education is where the new Maricopa school board member believes she can make her greatest contribution to the school district. Lopez said she has more than 20 years of experience to share. She has been a board member and parent committee member for Pinal Gila County Child Services, based in Casa Grande.
“I started getting involved with her in the realm of disabilities, education, and through her therapies,” Lopez said of her adult daughter, who lives with cerebral palsy and mental disabilities. “I went into advocating for parents with kids of disabilities.”
Her youngest son, 4, is now in special education, so the issue hits hard at home for Lopez. That’s in great part why she applied to join the school board in Maricopa.
“Just going through it with him I realized we need some help,” she said of the school district.
She said she hopes to help the school board build on its special education program “from the beginning through high school.”
Lopez states in her resume she has experience with people with disabilities, “maintaining safety and security of vulnerable people in any given situation.”
She said she helps parents in the community access resources for their children with developmental disabilities.
“I partner with local pediatricians’ offices, the state of Arizona Division of Developmental Disabilities, Arizona Individualized Education Plan, school districts and therapists to maintain a standard of procedure, safety and security.”
Her resume also notes she has engaged in “continuous development for critical thinking skills, such as identifying, evaluation and applying appropriate situational options and approaches within state law and regulations.”
She said she acts responsibly and dependably. Lopez is open to change and adapting to new information or unexpected obstacles, she said.
School district spokesperson Mishell Terry said the school board has not yet scheduled Lopez’s swearing-in ceremony.
In a statement to InMaricopa, District Superintendent Tracey Lopeman said this:
“We are excited to welcome Carolyn Lopez to the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board. The unique and valuable perspectives of each board member are our strength, and I am confident that Ms. Lopez’s dedication to education and our community will greatly benefit our district. Although the exact date and time are still being arranged, we anticipate her swearing-in will occur in the days prior to the December board meeting. We look forward to the insights and contributions she will bring to our collective efforts.”