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Berkeley Lake Resident Seeks School Board Post

Jen Falk announced she will run against incumbent Mary Kay Murphy in the November 2012 Gwinnett Board of Education election.

UPDATED: JAN. 17, 2012 (see italicized text for updated information)

Berkeley Lake resident Jen Falk, a long-time advocate for children, announced Friday that she is seeking the Gwinnett County School Board District III seat currently held by Dr. Mary Kay Murphy.

District III currently includes all or part of the Duluth, Norcross and Peachtree Ridge clusters as well as the GIVE Center West, Gwinnett Online Campus, Ivy Preparatory Academy Charter School, Monarch School, and New Life Academy of Excellence.

After the census, District III (which currently includes 21 schools), will have six additional schools. The Norcross and Duluth cluster schools will remain in District III.

A map showing the current borders and the proposed borders is included with this story.

Falk is a founding board member of of in Peachtree Corners as well as a founding member of the School-to-Prison Pipeline group. For the past eight years she has focused on education reform serving as a member of the Georgia Appleseed Advisory Council and project leader for "When My Child is Disciplined at School: A Guide for Families."

"I am running for this office because I believe the people of Gwinnett County deserve a school board that is transparent and accountable," said Falk in her announcement. "I will listen carefully to parents and turn their concerns into advocacy for better schools. Teachers and administrators also have an important voice; it's essential they have access to a leader that really listens."

Falk is the special projects director for Parent-to-Parent of Georgia, a statewide nonprofit, federally-designated parent training and information center under IDEA, which serves families of children and young adults with disabilities.

Falk has a bachelor's degree in marketing from the University of Florida. She has 20 years of retail management experience including holding the position of Human Resources Director for Macy's IT Corporate Divisions.

Falk has lived in Berkeley Lake for 15 years with her husband Ned and their two children, Harrison and Erin, both of whom graduated from Gwinnett County Public Schools.

Dr. Murphy was first elected to the District III seat in January 1997 and re-elected in 2008. She is the associate vice president for Institutional Advancement at Morehouse School of Medicine and is a resident of Duluth.

Amanda Helmstetter January 13, 2012 at 10:29 PM
FABULOUS NEWS!!!
L.Vlad January 13, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Jennifer will make a wonderful addition to the school board. She has my vote.
I love Duluth January 14, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Buh bye Mary Kay!
A Viller January 16, 2012 at 12:45 AM
I am so excited to read this announcement! Jennifer has been a friend since our now college-age daughters met in Kindergarten at Berkeley Lake Elementary, and I don't know many parents who know more and care more about the educational system in our county. By the way, Dr. Murphy lost my vote the night she voted in favor of the debacle otherwise known as the Duluth-Peachtree Ridge Redistricting plan. Now I can cast my vote for a candidate that I trust has the best interest of all students at heart.
Jimmy January 16, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Dr Murphy's allegiance was to the Norcross cluster because she owed her election to UPCCA...thats why she came out publicly in favor of Peachtree Corners becoming a city, and lost my vote in the process...
Ben January 16, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Not only did Dr. Murphy sell out to UPPCA so did Tom Rice and Wayne Knox. All of them need to go, but they will resurface in Peachtree Corners
Courtney January 17, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Dr Murphy treated Duluth like garbage. She will not be re elected.
David B. Manley January 17, 2012 at 03:31 AM
I wish those who continually focus on the vote for the City of Peachtree Corners would look at other and more contemporary issues. Under our system of government we had a referendum where 56.42% of those casting a vote favored the City. Those who were anti-City need to get over it and move on. Just like the South after the War Between the States, the longer folks dwell on the loss the less they are able to concentrate on moving past it and progressing. There are other important issues to deal with than previous support of a city most voters wanted anyway.
David Leader January 17, 2012 at 01:48 PM
I think there are members on both sides that could stand to move on, but I agree with you David, it's time to look at what's best for our city and stop quibbling over what side of the coin people were on. Their support or opposition to the city is NOT what is relevant here, it's what they can do for the children of Gwinnett County. Mostly I believe we need to find out who is willing to stand up against the Teachers Union and get rid of the crippling rules that are preventing our teachers from expanding their curriculum or the elimination of the bad teachers; the fact that the teachers of Georgia involved in the cheating scandal are STILL teaching speaks volumes. For my part I believe being a member of the board for a charter school does speak volumes for Falk; charter schools are what our public schools need to be emulating at this point. It's not fair that luck of the draw (literally, a draw) can have so much of an effect on a child's future. Every child at least deserves a chance at a strong education, and if Falk is willing to fight to get those values there, I am all for her election. Battling the school unions is a hard, uphill battle; but if we're not willing to fight for the next generation, who are we willing to fight for?
David B. Manley January 17, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Good points, David. As we move toward the City election on March 6 I look forward to seeing more of your thoughts.
Annette Rogers January 24, 2012 at 08:13 PM
I know that at one time our school board member was a teacher and after she was elected to the school board (many years ago) stayed involved in the schools and in her community. But after years behind the ISCastle walls, she seems to have lost an understanding of the reality for our students and our communities. I have been an active volunteer for an educational non-profit and generally involved in my community. During the last term, I've seen our school board member at celebrations, parades, and political events. However, I haven't seen her having lunch at our schools, attending Title I meetings, nor ever at Ivy Prep. I've also missed her at key meetings where issues deserving of her input and attention were addressed. This election decides whether we want the person with a passion for education or someone with old political connections. Falk has been involved and will fight for a strong education for every child. She is getting this republican's vote!
Michele L. January 26, 2012 at 02:27 PM
In both of your paragraphs you mention Teachers' Unions. Georgia does not have unions for teachers. At all. Exactly what school union is this for which someone will be battling?
lovinggwinnett March 31, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Look behind the curtain to see what Jen F. is really for before you vote... Don't just vote against Dr. Murphy. Be sure that who you vote for deserves your vote. Maybe someone else will begin the process to run for school board so we can have a good candidate to look at.

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