Board president’s complex legacy

Gallagher has served on board for a decade and oversaw district’s growth, but his relationship with teachers has soured


Jazzy Nguyen

Kalen Gallagher is a Westmont alumnus and has served as a member of the CUHSD board since 2012.

Angela Choi, Science & Health Editor

After 10 years as the district’s school board president, Kalen Gallagher marked his final board meeting last Thursday.

During his tenure, he oversaw the growth of the district, from its increase in CTE and AP class enrollment to its dramatic reduction in suspensions and expulsions. However, with his actions during last school year’s contract talks with the teachers union, he leaves behind a complicated legacy.

“I truly love serving on the board and there could be a life where I serve 40 plus years,” Gallagher told the Bear Witness. “But in order to pursue some other opportunities, it’s something I need to do.”

He did not clarify what those opportunities were, and said he had wanted to leave that “open-ended.”

After becoming elected to the board in 2012, Gallagher set out to increase A-G credit completion in students from low income backgrounds. During his term, he helped raise the number of students who meet A-G requirements from 40% in 2011 to 70% in 2022. That number rose from 16% of low-income students to 48%.
“It’s a good feeling,” he said. “I’m proud to be a part of the team across the district.”

Though the teachers union endorsed Gallagher when he first ran, CHSTA president Kim McCarthy said that the board’s unanimous decision to extend Superintendent Dr. Robert Bravo’s term has soured their relationship with him.

The decision to extend the contract last spring came after the teachers union had issued a vote of no confidence against Bravo, whose contract was not yet expiring.

“It was really kind of a slap in the face of teachers and what they were trying to express,” she said. “It was completely unnecessary.”

Despite the strain between teachers and Gallagher during his final year on board, he said at last week’s meeting that the district’s achievements were a team effort.

“It’s not me, it’s a collection of a thousand different people,” he said. “It’s parents, it’s students, it’s teachers, it’s different Board members. It’s all of that coming together to do something different.”

A longer version of this story will appear in our September print issue.