Special Education Associate Professor Julie Esparza Brown was elected for Zone 1 on the Portland Public School (PPS) Board with 77 percent of the votes citywide. Her opponent, Andrew Davidson, is a PSU student who previously served on the board as the high school student representative. While the May special election turnout was low, Brown received 39,062 votes, which was the second highest number of votes of all candidates in the race, except Mike Rosen with 39,063, and who was running unopposed for Zone 7.
Esparza Brown has worked for PSU since 2000 and was originally hired as the director of the Bilingual Teacher Pathway (BTP) program in the Curriculum and Instruction Department before becoming an assistant and now associate professor in the Department of Special Education. Before coming to PSU, she worked as a special education and bilingual classroom teacher in California, was a school psychologist and a mentor teacher in Vancouver, WA, and taught courses at Washington State University, University of Massachusetts, and Lewis & Clark College. Her research and publications focus on the intersection of bilingual and special education. She consults locally and nationally on issues related to the intersection of English learners and special education, culturally and linguistically appropriate multi-tiered support systems, and least discriminatory assessment.
In addition to the award-winning BTP program, Esparza Brown continues to successfully write federal grants to support the development of innovative programs and curriculum at PSU. Her Bilingual Special Educator (BiSped) program was recognized nationally by Excelencia in Education as one of America’s top programs for increasing academic opportunities for and achievement by Latino students. A recently awarded five-year federal grant also funds 35 preservice teachers to learn to work with English Learner students with significant disabilities and their families in partnership with local school districts. She has also developed a fully online program, Systems Level Support for English Learners in General and Special Education, which provides a certificate of completion to practicing educators. The content of this certificate is very unique nationally.
“Graduate School of Education faculty members are deeply engaged in the community, using their knowledge and skills to improve education for all students,” said Dean Randy Hitz. “Dr. Brown’s election to the PPS Board is one very good example of faculty engagement, and I know she will make an outstanding contribution to the board and to PPS.”
Esparza Brown, whose EdD is from Portland State, is the second GSE faculty member in recent years to serve on the PPS board, following Dilafruz Williams, who served from 2006 to 2011. Dr. Brown will be the first Latina to serve on the PPS school board.