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Velarde-Crist quits MUSD board

January 31, 2018

The Madera Tribune
Maria Velardi-Crist, who resigned from the Madera Unified School District Board Jan. 23.

Takes principal’s job at ETAA Charter School; trustees to fill vacancy


A Madera educator, who had just entered the last year of her second term as a Madera Unified trustee, said goodbye at the Jan. 23 meeting of the MUSD school board. In doing so, she created a vacancy, which the board has decided to fill by appointment.

Maria Velarde-Crist, a two-term veteran of the MUSD school board representing trustee area 4, was first elected in 2010 and reelected in 2014. She had previously made unsuccessful runs for county superintendent of schools and Madera Unified.

Velarde-Crist’s departure from the school board came as she accepted the position of principal at Ezequiel Tafoya Alvardo Academy Charter School in Madera. She was formerly employed as a teacher by the Madera County Office of Education.

According to Velarde-Crist, she was not legally required to relinquish her position on the MUSD board but decided to do so to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

According to Velarde-Crist she is a former field worker who immigrated to the United States when she was 10 years old and “pulled herself up by her bootstraps” to become a supervising independent studies teacher for the County Office of Education.

In recalling her climb from the fields to the classroom, Velarde-Crist said that in growing up, she hit some rocky terrain, which prepared her to learn to meet adversity head on and then overcome it.

She said as a teenager she “got kicked out of Madera Unified and then went to Sugar Pine.” From there, she said, she transferred to Central High. Later she dropped out of high school altogether and didn’t go back to school until she was 25.

When she decided to give education another chance, she said, she walked onto the campus of Merced College with just one idea. She really wanted to learn.

Velarde-Crist said that in addition to holding two master’s degrees, she is a candidate for a doctorate in the psychology of organizational development. Her bachelor’s degree was in business administration, with a minor in philosophy.

Earlier jobs have included that of social worker, eligibility worker, legal secretary, tutor, bookkeeper, and farm worker, she said.

With nearly a year remaining in her term, MUSD trustees have announced they are taking applications to replace Velarde-Crist. Eligible candidates must be at least 18 years of age, a citizen of the state, and a resident of trustee area 4. Candidates must also be registered voters and not disqualified by the Constitution or laws of California from holding civil office. The provisional appointee will serve until the November 2018 general election.

Interested applicants can obtain an application by any of the following methods: downloading the application from the district’s website; contacting the Superintendent’s Office at 675-4500; sending an email request to  HYPERLINK mailto:gladysdiebert@maderausd.org; gladysdiebert@maderausd.org; or visiting the District Office at 1902 Howard Road, Madera.

The completed application and supporting materials must be received by the District Superintendent’s Office at the address listed above by no later than 5 p.m. Friday, February 9, 2018.

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