Saturday, September 30, 2023

Q & A with Mal Sandie, CUSD School Board Candidate

The Coronado Times is conducting short interviews with all candidates for Coronado Unified School District board of trustees. All candidates have received the same six questions and the answers are in their own words; each candidate is invited to share photos; interviews are published in the order received. November 8, 2022 is election day.

Mal Sandie, candidate for CUSD school board.

Q: What experience will you bring to the school board?

A. I am a husband, a father to four boys who all attend or attended Coronado Schools at some point, a Coronado community volunteer (Little League and P.A.W.S.), a retired Navy Captain (30-years on active duty, helicopter pilot), Coronado homeowner since 1994, a progressive thinker, and a huge fan of Coronado public schools!

My educational background is a B.S. in Political Science from the U.S. Naval Academy, M.A. in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College, Defense Acquisition University Level III qualification in Program Management, and the civilian Program Management Professional qualification. I retired from the Navy and subsequently worked as a defense contractor before deciding to stay home and focus on my family. I value honesty, integrity and transparency, and I firmly believe that the “secret of a successful society is education.”  Additionally, I am a huge fan of vaccines and mask mandates for the greater good of society.

Also, I believe that religion and ultra-nationalism have no place in public schools and that we need to follow the mandates provided by our state government as directed by appropriate experts, based on evidenced based research.

Q: In your mind, what are the biggest challenges facing CUSD today?

A: The greatest challenge is the attempt to politicize the CUSD governing board. There appears to be a small but vocal group of people in the Coronado community who refuse to work within the structure of CUSD and California State guidelines and policies. They do not seem to place value on science, data, facts and history and prefer to launch lawsuits against the state and consume the governing board’s time with histrionic canards regarding critical race theory, anti-mask, and a basic disdain for truth.

A significant challenge for our school facilities will be dealing with climate change, specifically increasing temperatures. Many of our classrooms do not have air conditioning and in recent years school has been canceled for “heat days” which I see as a problem that must be addressed with the well-being of all CUSD teachers and students in mind.

Q: What is something CUSD does well?

A: Some of the strengths of CUSD include: 1) superb leadership from both the governing board and the administration; 2) a strong community that is very involved in CUSD; and 3) a motivated, diverse, and cohesive student body.

Additionally, I was thoroughly impressed with the expeditious and successful implementation of the 4×4 schedule which was achieved during the height of the COVID pandemic. I am also thrilled to see that the school start times have been adjusted based on the body of scientific evidence that shows when adolescents learn best.   

Q: How do you feel about local control?

A: Regarding Local Control, the California Department of Education states “…as long as a statute does not prohibit a program or activity and it is consistent with the purposes for which school districts are established, it can be undertaken. In other words, it is constitutionally unnecessary to enact any statutes that merely allow or permit school districts, at their discretion, to do something.”  

My concern with this is that it can be cited to push political agendas such as the case with a former CUSD governing board member who wanted to pursue a lawsuit against the state regarding mask mandates. There are those who simply want to fight the State of California “at every turn” at a cost to our students and Local Control can be used as a vehicle to do this.

Q: What is your stance on social-emotional learning? Do you think that teaching children empathy, responsible decision making, and emotional awareness is important in schools?

A: These are all extremely important life skills that will greatly benefit CUSD students.  

Although it is not a mandatory program, the California Department of Education provides guidelines for Social and Emotional Learning that CUSD has expertly implemented at all levels.  

Q: As you must be aware, school board meetings can be contentious, but it’s important for board members to work together. Do you think you are good at building consensus? Please provide an example if possible.

A: There is a huge push to politicize school boards across the country and, unfortunately, Coronado is no exception. The controversy created by this is evidenced by the need for uniformed police officers to be present at the meetings. How contentious the school board meetings become will depend on who gets elected. 

I have a “democratic” leadership style that welcomes thoughts and ideas from all levels of an organization and has served me well throughout my career in the Navy. However, I will not sacrifice my principles and relent to an agenda that does not put the best interests of Coronado school children first. 


Christine Van Tuyl
Christine Van Tuyl
Christine was born and raised in Texas, but moved to Coronado with her family as a teen in 1993. Although initially horrified by surfers, flannels and skateboards, she ultimately grew to love all things So-Cal. A graduate of UCSD, Christine got her first writing job on the KUSI ten o’clock news while simultaneously juggling a reporter position at the San Diego Community News Group. She worked as a public relations professional, a book editor, real estate professional, and a freelance writer before eventually succumbing to motherhood in 2008.A decade later, Christine resurfaced to start the Island Girl Blog, a Coronado lifestyle blog. In addition, she writes a monthly page for Crown City Magazine. Christine loves hanging out with her husband, Ian, and their two spirited daughters, Holland and Marley, who attend Village Elementary and Coronado Middle School. When she’s not working, you’ll find her practicing yoga, spilling coffee at school drop off, meeting friends for sushi, or sailing the Bay with her family and English Bulldog, Moshi. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]