Next they moved to Denver, and Jo Ann began kindergarten at Bryant Webster Elementary School. Tragically, at the age of seven, Jo Ann was forced to leave when her mother developed uterine cancer. She quickly succumbed when Jo Ann’s father was unable to find a doctor in Denver who would treat her. During the years following her mother’s death, Jo Ann lived with relatives in different parts of Denver. She attended seven different elementary schools before returning to live with her father and finishing sixth grade at Bryant Webster.
From Horace Mann Junior High School, Jo Ann went on to graduate from North High School, with a four year Joint Honor scholarship to the University of Colorado. She graduated with her Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Nursing. She continues to support North High School as an active member of the Alumni Association.
Jo Ann has earned the highest honor conferred upon graduates, induction into the North High School Hall of Fame. This honor recognized outstanding achievements in her career. Dr Fujioka has held multiple licenses and certifications in Colorado, including Registered Nurse, Special Education Director and Superintendent of Schools.
Jo Ann earned a Master’s of Science Degree in Nursing from the University of Colorado. While working full-time as an Area Manager for Special Education and Related Services in Jefferson County Schools, Jo Ann followed her ambitions and obtained her doctorate in Career and Occupational Education from Colorado State University.
During her 30 years with the Jefferson County Schools, Dr Fujioka also served as Supervisor of Nursing and School Health and as an elementary school assistant principal.
One of the most valuable assets that Dr. Fujioka brings to the Denver Public School board is the experience of being the Area Manager for the Central Area schools in the Jefferson County School District.
The 45 schools in the Central Area had the highest levels of students receiving free and reduced lunch assistance, highest levels of transiency, and the greatest number of small schools in the district.
Instead of closing these low performing schools, Jo Ann implemented best practices and led struggling schools towards success.
Through her years in the Central Area, not one school was closed for low achievement. Dr. Fujioka and other administrators developed strategies for effectively addressing the needs of students living in poverty. For example, Dr. Fujioka allocated staff to schools using a Needs Based Model for Special Education and Related Services.
This model provided additional staffing to address the needs of high-risk students served by the district. Application of the formula (which accounts for transiency, numbers of free and reduced lunch recipients, and number of small schools) provided the Central Area additional staff; this allowed the Special Education and Related Services staff to assess and rate schools by need for affective, academic and health services. The impact of allocating staff utilizing the Needs-Based Criteria resulted in a full-time Social Worker and Speech and Language Specialist assigned to a school with only 190 students.
Dr. Fujioka also instituted Behavior Crisis Teams to support teachers and administrative staff. This team used restorative principles to assist classroom teachers in addressing behavioral concerns within the classroom. By focusing on resolving conflicts through promoting order, safety, and peace, the team was often able to restore an effective learning environment without removing students from the classroom.
Dr. Fujioka also has considerable experience with budget and policy in public for and non-profit organizations. She served as a board member of the National Parent Teacher Association, Colorado Parent Teacher Association Executive Committee and member of the Board of Directors, Chair of the Phi Delta Kappa International Board of Directors, Executive Committee of the Democratic Party of Denver (DPoD), as Captain and Co-Captain of House District 6B, and Secretary of House District 6. Additionally, she chaired the DPoD Public Policy Education Study Group. This group developed the Democratic Party of Denver’s Platform for Education for 2016.
Jo Ann Fujioka is running for Denver Public School At-Large Board Member because she believes that every child can learn and has the right to an equitable opportunity to maximize his or her potential.
The current Board of Education has repeatedly given failing performance ratings to schools as justification for closure and replacement by charter schools. The current board has renewed the contracts for over 50 charter schools, and recently approved opening 20 more. School board members have earmarked 10 neighborhood schools for closure to acquire buildings for those charters.
These public schools identified for closure, in the past and present, are in areas where students of color comprise the majority. This dire situation creates segregation and inequitable opportunities.
We must put a moratorium on all school closures. We must assess the state of education in every school in the district to determine if each school is providing a high-quality and comprehensive education for all students.
We must stop the drain of taxpayer dollars from the district-run schools to the charters, many of which are managed by large corporate organizations. We must implement accountability measures for all administrative staff to determine the impact of the excessive number of administrators on the instruction delivered to students.
We must ensure that every classroom has a qualified, licensed teacher instructing students. Lastly, to most effectively serve the needs of every student in Denver, we must ensure that teachers are valued and continually given the opportunity to grow as professionals.