Morris Rosen, 38, an attorney at KMR Law, moved to Portola Valley over a year ago with her husband and three daughters, largely for the town's schools and tight-knit community feel, she said. Her oldest child is a kindergartner at Ormondale School; her youngest, a boy, was born in February.
"I feel really proud to be able to contribute proactively to the schools my own children will go to," said Morris Rosen, who is from Atherton. She attended elementary school at Phillips Brooks School in Menlo Park and went to middle and high school at Castilleja School in Palo Alto. She received a bachelor's degree in history from Princeton University and a law degree from Stanford University.
She lived outside of the Bay Area for many years, but came back to be near family and friends, she said.
"My parents, grandparents, and many of my siblings live in the Bay Area, and we feel lucky to be raising our kids amongst their extended family," she said.
Morris Rosen has always been interested in government and education policy, and planned to run for the school board sometime in the future, she said. When she heard about the board vacancy, she thought "Why wait for the future?" She says she wanted to bring her legal expertise to the board during a critical moment for the district as it chooses a new superintendent and implements Measure Z, a $49.5 million facilities bond measure that passed in November.
At KMR Law, Morris Rosen's clients include The Primary School, an East Palo Alto-based tuition-free private school. She was previously associate general counsel for AltSchool, a San Francisco-based education and technology company. Before that Morris Rosen spent three years as special counsel at the Emerson Collective in Palo Alto, where she directed legal policy and its advocacy initiatives, primarily concerning intellectual property, employment and privacy law. She also initiated and ran a program to advise undocumented students on immigration law.
A school board will make more informed decisions if it has trustees with diverse backgrounds since school boards are tasked with many different functions, she said. These functions include selecting staff, overseeing construction, and handling oversight and policy, she said. The board was lacking someone with a legal background, which she said is important for a governing body overseeing a school district. (Aside from Morris Rosen, the board has trustees with backgrounds in human resources, business and teaching.)
"A lot of what a school board can and can't do is based on law and policy," she said.
In regard to Measure Z, Morris Rosen would like to ensure the public is informed on how the measure is implemented and money is spent. The district should improve email communication about the measure or create a special portal on the district website with Measure Z updates, she said.
Community members, whether they have students in the district's schools or not, should want excellent schools since they increase property values, she said. Good schools should also be a sense of pride for everyone in the community, she said.
"Measure Z is going to allow us to have great public schools going into the future," she said.
Morris Rosen added that she would like to address community concerns that the transition from Ormondale to Corte Madera School is "a bit rocky." Although the board isn't directly in charge of curriculum, she said she plans to work with the new superintendent to gather parent feedback.
Morris Rosen would also like to see more community members participate in board meetings. She understands it can be intimidating to express a thought or concern, she said, but it's a good opportunity to speak in an open forum that's documented in official school board minutes. She also plans to host office hours and attend the Portola Valley farmers' market to meet community members.
"I will find some way for community members to feel in touch with me," she said.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.