‘Very close to my heart’: Esfandiar Imani announces run for Berkeley school board

esfandiar imani rsb berkeley school board
Kianna Imani/Courtesy
Berkeley school board candidate Esfandiar Imani

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Esfandiar Imani, a longtime Berkeley resident and a risk management consultant, is running for a position on the Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, board this November.

As a parent, Imani has firsthand experience with BUSD schools, which informs the problems he hopes to address on the board. His platform involves resolving several issues including student inequalities, as well as creating safe environments in Berkeley’s schools.

While sending his daughters to school, Imani witnessed vast opportunity differences among students from different backgrounds and sexual harassment in schools, which led him to prioritize both concerns as a candidate.

Imani was born in Iran and spent his early life there. Just before the Iranian Revolution, he emigrated to the United States at 17 to pursue higher education. This transition proved challenging — he came to the country alone and without financial support.

He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from UC Berkeley in mathematics and engineering, and a Master of Business Administration in finance from San Francisco State University. He later settled in Berkeley, where he has now lived for 26 years. His three daughters spent their K-12 educations in the Berkeley public school system.

“Overall, my family has had a great experience with Berkeley’s public schools,” Imani said. “The successes and issues that I’ve seen are very close to my heart.”

In addition, Imani wants to focus on helping students succeed academically. He was drawn to act on this because of his own experiences as a student.

“I struggled with mathematics in middle school, but thanks to an 11th grade teacher, I started excelling,” Imani said. “Before then, I would never have imagined that math would be my postsecondary focus. Every kid needs that one teacher that inspires them.”

Imani hopes to enable success in the classroom by communicating with students’ families about challenges at home. If a student is struggling with stressors outside of school, resources could then be allocated to help them stay academically engaged and overcome challenges at home, Imani explained.

Imani is currently a member of BUSD’s Planning and Oversight Committee and the Berkeley Schools Excellence Program, positions that he said inspired him to announce his candidacy for the school board in July.

“Every member of these boards is well intentioned,” Imani said. “Going forward, I hope to use my expertise to deal with the challenge of reopening safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Contact Mattias Hoz at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @hozmattias.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Esfandiar Imani did not qualify for the ballot. In fact, Imani will be on the November ballot for the school board election. He did not qualify for the Rent Stabilization Board commissioner race.