1. Tell us about yourself.

My full name is Taylor Kayatta. I am a Democrat. My headshot is attached.

I am the father of two children who are in 2nd Grade and Kindergarten in Sac City USD. I am an attorney as well as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). My prior work experience includes eight years at the State of California where I provided legal advice to staff, evaluated and wrote laws and regulations, conducted financial and performance audits of state departments and school districts, and related activities. I currently work as an attorney in county government.

I grew up in New Jersey, Maine, and Southern California. I have lived in Sacramento since 2009. I earned a BA in Political Science from UCLA, a JD from McGeorge School of Law, and an MBA from Sacramento State. I earned an AA in Accounting from American River College while working as an auditor and preparing for the CPA exam.

2. What makes you a qualified candidate for school board?

I have both the professional background and the personal motivation to fix our schools. I am driven by the desire to prevent other families from experiencing the problems my family did with obtaining special education services for my son. I have the background to deliver on that. I spent five years as an auditor for the State, looking into state departments, state programs, and school districts including one under State receivership. I am a CPA with a foundation in audit experience. I know how a school district should be run, and I recognize when a school board is not delivering on its responsibilities to ensure proper district function. I am also an attorney who has worked for multiple government agencies. I know how to ask the questions that need to be asked. I know how to fight for our students and communities.

3. Why are you running for the school board?

Our students deserve a voice that recognizes and understands the need for improvement in how our school system is run. I got involved in closely following my school district when my family couldn’t get my son the special education services he needed starting when he was three. Since then, I have unfortunately found that the systemic issues preventing us from getting services for our son seem to exist throughout the district. Teachers and individual administrators appear to mean well and want to help, but barriers always seem to pop up. I am running to hold our district to task for these failures and to ensure that families in the future will not experience failures my family experienced.

4. What race and equity issues might you consider during your tenure?

As I have spoken with other parents in the district and read the data, I have been disturbed to see just how differently black and brown students in my district are treated than some of their peers – and not just because they are more likely to attend schools in less wealthy areas. They are suspended at disproportionate rates, their parents are not invited into conversations with teachers and administrators the same as other parents, and services and programs relevant to their lived experiences are not prioritized. As a board member, I will make sure to pay attention to the needs and interests of the entire community. I will take a combined macro and micro approach to leadership: focus on the needs of school sites in my area while recognizing the larger picture and working on systemic changes. Most importantly, this will mean really listening. I will solicit input from and listen to representatives of less privileged schools to understand their needs. I will appropriately balance what I’m hearing from some vocal community members against what I might not be hearing from others. I will make sure that the District gathers the appropriate data about the needs of all of our schools and the entire community, so that the Board can act on good information.

5. How are planning to address the achievement gap in your district?

Our schools are the cornerstone of our community, and if they are failing to provide the basics of education for students then our whole community will be worse off. For many children, addressing achievement gaps means improving the general quality of instruction around core subjects. I have noticed a lot of attempts to improve that in our district, but little follow through. We implement pilot programs, send our administrators to training courses, and talk about changes – but those changes are not fully implemented throughout the district. I strive to change that by having a board that holds our administrators accountable for doing what they set out to do. I do not have specific plans for how to improve our education because as a parent I do not know as much as the educators who have devoted their life to helping our kids. I want to support our educators to make positive changes to how we teach core subjects so that our kids learn more and can compete in life after graduating. My support will be around hearing the best plans from the experts and making sure that whatever plans the board agrees with are fully implemented.

I plan to pay specific attention to the needs of children with disabilities – a focus that I found to be missing in this district through my own family’s experience getting my son speech services. The school district can and should address issues affecting subsets of our community like students with disability simultaneously as it works to improve education around core subjects. If a child with exceptional needs requires additional support, then they should get it in an appropriate manner so that they can continue to learn core subjects. Focusing on the needs of some kids also shows us how to make education better for all kids. The concept of universal design for learning, or UDL, is something that accomplishes this and which I support. A support that may be necessary for someone with exceptional needs may also be something worth offering to the entire class.