School board candidate wants to be a voice for parents, students who struggled during COVID-19 remote learning

photo by: Contributed photo

Myranda Zarlengo

When the coronavirus pandemic disrupted how Lawrence schools operated, Myranda Zarlengo was concerned that her daughter was falling behind during remote learning, and she thought she wasn’t being heard by the district.

Zarlengo, 46, filed to run for the school board just before the deadline last week. She told the Journal-World on Tuesday that she hoped to be a voice for other parents and students who felt like their concerns about remote or hybrid learning hadn’t been heard.

“I can’t just sit back and watch something like that happen again,” Zarlengo said. “I really want to be a voice for these kids and make sure we are putting their needs first.”

How Lawrence schools operated during the pandemic was a contentious issue for months. The district began the 2020-21 school year fully remote and gradually began using a hybrid learning model beginning in November. Eventually, after COVID-19 vaccines were rolled out in Douglas County, the schools went back to fully in-person learning in March.

Zarlengo said her daughter, who will soon be a second grader at Langston Hughes Elementary School, struggled when her classes were fully online. To help address that, Zarlengo said she put a lot of time into trying to understand the issues that held the district back from opening schools for fully in-person learning.

She said she understood that the district couldn’t simply go back to its normal operations at the height of the pandemic. But she also thought that more could have been done to safely adapt and still accommodate students like her daughter who didn’t do as well in remote classes.

“She was just one of many,” Zarlengo said. “There were so many kids who were not set up … to get what they needed.”

Zarlengo is originally from the Chicago area and first moved to Lawrence to attend the University of Kansas. After completing her studies at KU, she returned to the Chicago area and worked as the director of a child care center. She now works for a technology-based supply chain management company in the Kansas City, Mo., area.

Zarlengo said she chose to move back to Lawrence to raise her daughter in a family-focused community. Along with her daughter, Zarlengo said she is a host mother to a high school senior at Bishop Seabury Academy.

Zarlengo is one of 12 candidates for the school board’s three open seats. Because of the number of candidates, a primary election is required. The primary election will be Aug. 3, and the general election will be Nov. 2.

Related coverage:

• June 3, 2021 — School board candidate Elizabeth Stephens wants to give a voice to marginalized groups

• June 2, 2021 — School board candidate Kay Emerson wants to ask the questions parents need to make important decisions

• June 1, 2021 — 5 more candidates file for Lawrence school board, triggering primary election

• May 28, 2021 — Lawrence school board’s current leader files for reelection; former special education teacher also joins the race

• May 27, 2021 — Fifth candidate files to run for Lawrence school board; RPG owner says he’s passionate about education options, mental health issues

• May 24, 2021 — 3 newcomers file to run for Lawrence school board election

• April 6, 2021 — Ronald ‘G.R.’ Gordon-Ross files to run for reelection to Lawrence school board

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