Malibu resident Stacy Rouse will be the only candidate from Malibu seeking a seat on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board.
The education advocate is one of eight candidates seeking four open seats of seven. Six of the seven incumbents are currently Santa Monica residents representing Santa Monica constituents.
Malibu’s current representative, Craig Foster, has decided not to run for a third term citing the need for fresh voices on the board. Foster is now actively endorsing Rouse’s candidacy.
“I hope and trust that every voter in Malibu will join me in supporting Stacy with our votes and in any other way we can,” he wrote. “Stacy is ideally suited for this role and will be an AMAZING, effective board member, problem solver, and advocate for all students. In addition, the school board simply cannot function effectively without a Malibu representative. The cost of having no Malibu board representative to both the District and to Malibu’s children would be enormous.
“It is crazy that Malibu is just 15% of a distant city’s school district, but we are for now. That is all the more reason we all have to do our very best to make sure each one of us votes for her, spreads the word, and otherwise supports her as we can.”
Rouse is a 20-year Malibu resident with two boys who went from kindergarten through high school, all at Malibu public schools. Although her sons graduated in 2017 and 2021, Rouse has continued her volunteer work on the Malibu Schools Leadership Council (MSLC).
The mother of two started volunteering in the classroom when her eldest entered kindergarten. By the time her youngest entered Webster Elementary, Rouse was able to devote more time to public education efforts. She eventually became PTA president while simultaneously serving on the MSLC. Rouse has served as president of MSLC since 2016 and continues in the role today even though her own children are attending college.
“I saw the need for a facilitator and a convener to come in,” Rouse said. “It’s hard work whether you’re a parent or community member. Sometimes, unintentionally, different entities were doing what they thought was best but they weren’t informing each other. So, sometimes we’d accidentally work at cross purposes.”
Rouse followed Foster and Karen Farrer in this leadership role at MSLC. The council meets monthly with Malibu principals, the Boys & Girls Club, PTA leaders and “we try to bring in as many vulnerable and unrepresented groups as possible like English language learners and special Ed so together we can have a place where we have good communication, where we plan together, inform the community, and support each other,” Rouse explained.
The candidate spoke of continuing Foster’s advocacy of local governance in education.
“Obviously Craig has been amazing representing Malibu and bringing the communities together to help it be better for all of our kids, but also highlighting what Malibu needs and what Santa Monica needs in the separation in the unification process. He served so well,” Rouse said.
The two have volunteered together at Webster and MSLC for years.
“We should as a community support each other. When Craig is ready to go we should be willing to step in the gap for him. I feel well placed for that. I know the community,” Rouse said. “It’s crucial that we agree to support our kids in public schools and our teachers. I am ready to step into the path that Craig has laid down for Malibu’s voice in SMMUSD. It’s going to take a unified community behind me to continue and develop what’s already been started with Craig on the board. It would be not only to Malibu’s detriment, but to the school district’s detriment to not have a Malibu voice.”
After serving on the Superintendent’s Advisory Council a few years ago, Rouse discovered the difficulty of getting people to listen to each other.
“There’s unnecessary frustration and miscommunication,” Rouse said, and that’s what led her to get a degree in dispute resolution from the Straus School at Pepperdine University.
Rouse has also been volunteering for five years with Jump Start, an early childhood education program. The program serves typically underserved families from underfunded schools.
“Early childhood education is crucial to address the achievement gap before it even starts,” Rouse commented.
“I value public service and community service. It’s who I’ve always been and how I operate,” Rouse said in summary. “That’s what the school board is: It’s a public servant role just like Craig has done and how I’ve always handled things.”