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Profile: Mary Ellen Cuzela, Candidate for Katy ISD School Board, Position 5

(KATY) – Katy School Board Position 5 candidate Mary Ellen Cuzela will face Shana Peterson in the May 6 school board election, after incumbent Greg Schulte withdrew from the race. The deadline to register to vote is April 6, with early voting beginning April 24.

Mary Ellen Cuzela

Cuzela says she felt “a calling” to run for the board. She initially moved to Katy ISD because of the district’s school ratings, and has three children who attended public school since kindergarten. Her oldest has graduated, and she has a senior and freshman still at home.

Cuzela says that for many years she has worked on school board-level issues as a concerned mother, and as a substitute teacher in the district has first-hand experience about what is going on in the classroom.


“I am very familiar with the landscape of things today regarding the public school system and the challenges it has,” she said. “In general, I think there are a lot of special interests and different groups that want a piece of the public school system, and the truth is it should be all about the academics. Katy has a great tradition focused on academics and it needs to stay that way.”


Cuzela says she can see new challenges facing the district, comparing it to a “culture war” in schools, and says those issues should be left out of the classroom.


“We aren’t going to agree on ideologies family to family, so let’s keep it out of the school, and let’s all agree we believe in academics,” she said.


Cuzela says that while she believes the district doesn’t currently have a serious issue with some of the culturally-divisive issues facing many school districts in the country, but says it could “easily happen” if people aren’t paying attention.


“I think in general, we have something good going on, a great foundation,” she said. “All these cultural discussions on gender identity, sexualization of children, let’s protect our school district from that. The basics of an education shouldn’t really be anything complicated. The reason I think it’s complicated is there are a lot of distractions. Anything coming into the classroom should be the basics of education, not indoctrination, not ideology.”


Cuzela would also like to see more transparency with parents.


“The parents are the first and primary educators of the child and I would like to see that be upheld,” she said. “If the parent comes to the board and has an issue that can’t be resolved at the campus, we need to listen.”


One of the issues Cuzela brought to the attention of the board as a parent was what many parents view as sexually explicit books in the school libraries, which she says don’t belong in the school environment and shouldn’t be paid for with taxpayer money.


“I don’t care what kind of sex it is, I don’t want any kind of sex described in detail in our libraries in our schools,” she said. “You can get them at the public library. These books are not being banned, this is not a banning book thing, this is getting them out of our school.”


Cuzela says teachers in the district need to be supported, especially when it comes to student discipline. She says teachers need administrators’ support so they can remove disruptive students from the classroom and focus on education.


“We need to do all that we can to support them, or they won’t want to stay in Katy ISD,” she said. “Without them, we don’t have excellent academics. We need to partner with them.”


Cuzela, who has degrees in finance and Spanish and worked as a software technology consultant before becoming a substitute teacher, says she will bring financial and analytical skills to the board and also ask “the simple questions taxpayers would like to ask.”


She says she wants to look into the finances of the district, the overhead, where the expenses are and trimming any excess, ensuring that the money is being invested in the classroom.


“We need to elect someone with a backbone and people who know how to lead and get stuff done and not be afraid to ask questions,” she said. “I am that person.”

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