DOWNEY – D. Mark Morris was elected by his colleagues president of the Downey Unified Board of Education at its meeting last Tuesday.
Other offices include Barbara (Bobbie) Samperi as vice president and Martha Sodetani as clerk.
Outgoing president Tod M. Corrin, a member of the board since 2003, will continue to serve as a representative of Trustee Area 2.
Assemblymember Cristina Garcia administered the oath of office to Morris, Corrin and Donald LaPlante, who were re-elected to the school board last month.
Also re-elected was Willie Gutierrez. His oath was administered by his wife, Carol Gutierrez.
Corrin has been a Downey resident for more than 40 years. Throughout his presidency he had three main goals: raise the high school graduation rate, increased Advanced Placement (AP) enrollment and scores, and increase Downey Unified's Career Technical Education (CTE) program offerings.
All three goals were completed during his term. Downey Unified's graduation rate reached its highest rate of 94 percent for the 2014-15 school year; Downey Unified’s high school AP Course enrollment and passage rate exceeded both the California and U.S./Canada averages; and CTE programs received a Career Pathways Trust grant from the state of California worth $6 million, which will directly lead to the expansion of CTE program offerings.
Most recently, Downey Unified also received a $1 million apprenticeship grant from the state to further develop the apprenticeship opportunities for students within Downey Unified.
“It has truly been an honor to be president this last year,” said Corrin. “We are all here for the same reason, to serve our students, and that makes it such a pleasure to be a part of such an amazing group.”
D. Mark Morris
Morris, a graduate of Downey High School, has been a member of the Downey Unified Board of Education for 33 years, this being his sixth time serving as president. A lifelong Downey resident, Morris is also a member of the California School Board Association and Los Angeles County School Trustee Association.
Morris has served as a member on the City of Downey Community Services Commission, the Redevelopment Project Area Committee and the Cerritos College Advisory Board.
Samperi, a Downey resident and Warren High School graduate, has served on the Board of Education since 1993. A member of the Downey Community Service Commission for 15 years, she has also been an active member of Downey Council PTA, Alameda Elementary, Ward Elementary, Sussman Middle and Downey High School’s PTA.
She is currently a member of Downey Federal Credit Union’s Supervisory Committee.
Sodetani, has been a resident of Downey for many years and is actively involved in Downey Unified’s PTA, receiving the PTA’s highest honor, the Golden Oak Award. Sodetani volunteers numerous hours every week for many organizations and is also an advocate for foster youth, teaching classes at Cerritos, Long Beach and LA City Colleges for foster parents.
Serving on the Board of Education for 10 years, she has also received Woman of the Year nominations from the State Legislature, Los Angeles County, City of Downey, Assistance League and the Downey City Library.