Beverly Hills resident Farrah Dodes, who is the President of the Beverly Hills Education Foundation, has announced her candidacy for the Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) Board of Education in the upcoming November 2022 election. She will be vying for one of two open seats. Raised in a small town in Missouri, Dodes met her future husband Zach while both were undergraduates at Yale University. The couple has lived in Beverly Hills for the last 12 years with their children Celia and Mack, who both attend school in the BHUSD. She first became involved in the BHUSD when Celia was in kindergarten, having been excited by the relationships that other parents in the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) had with teachers and staff.
“For me, it was just very exciting to see how education has progressed since I was a child particularly like teaching methodologies and different ways of learning,” Dodes said to the Courier. “I just found it really, really exciting and intriguing and, frankly, inspiring.”
Dodes is the founder and Chief Financial Officer of Breakthrough Content, a web design firm. While this is her first time running for a seat on the board, Dodes is not an unfamiliar face to the BHUSD. In addition to her position at the Beverly Hills Education Foundation (BHEF), the nonprofit fundraising organization for BHUSD, she has served on several school district advisory committees. She is currently the Horace Mann PTA Executive Board Communications Co-Chair and is on the Beverly Vista Middle School Site Council, as well as being an alternate member on the Horace Mann School Site Council.
“I’ve been around a long time,” Dodes told the Courier. “I know so many people within the district and they know me, and I think that’s what’s most important fellow parents, families, teachers, staff and district administration, they all know me, and they know how I operate, and they know that I’m in it for the long haul. I think specifically what people really know about me is [that] I’m not afraid to speak out. If I have a strong opinion on something I will say it, but I always speak respectfully.”
Dodes’ platform includes an emphasis on school safety. She said that the district is doing a solid job keeping students safe, but that she would like to have security reinforcement officers designated for each school. She feels that having them designated to a school will help foster their relationships with students. Dodes also wants to expand mental health access for teachers and staff, such as potentially having a dedicated mental health counselor for them. She pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic and BHUSD’s reconfiguration of schools as sources of stress for educators.
Dodes emphasized an interest in continuing policies and procedures that guarantee transparency and accountability among district administrators. She feels that the board has been prioritizing this with the BHUSD’s establishment of a new bond manager and project inspector amid issues with its ongoing construction program, but that these efforts need to continue.
“[The board] is trying to be much more transparent about things and make sure that these new companies that we’re working with are on the up and up with policy and procedure,” Dodes said. “I just want to make sure that we don’t forget that. I don’t want it to be just a reaction to this most recent issue that was found.”
Dodes also told the Courier that the high school is on a good path in terms of Career and Technical Education course offerings such as robotics, fashion design and culinary arts classes, but that she’d like to see those opportunities offered to younger students.
“I would like to see that extend into middle school,” Dodes said. “I think it already is starting to extend, but I would like to see that fill out more so that there is a more clear pathway for kids who really know what they want to do and they’re really interested and passionate about it. Let’s give them these pathways more robustly so that they can pursue [their interests] more easily.”
Dodes will hold her campaign kickoff event on Aug. 21 at 10 a.m., with further details forthcoming.