Nelly Nieblas, running for School Board in Montebello, California
This position determines local educational policy for 7 cities in Southeast Los Angeles. Nelly told us that growing up, she had a brother with ADHD who struggled in school. Even though her mother tried to ask his school for help and support, Nelly’s brother’s needs were not met. He ended up dropping out and later passed away due to gang violence. Nelly realized that too many parents went through this struggle and were ignored when they tried to ask for help. With the right support, Nelly believes that her brother would not have turned to gangs in order to feel accepted. This is why Nelly is running for school board—for the kids like her brother who need someone to stand up for them.
As a person with a disability, Nelly is an example of how the proper services can help students find success and reach their highest potential. After high school, Nelly got a scholarship to USC, then she worked as a Congressional Fellow as part of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and was even an AmeriCorps participant. After that, Nelly received another degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of government. With 20 years of policy advocacy experience, from workforce development to education, Nelly is applying her experiences and life lessons to prevent other kids from being neglected by the school system. Her goal is to make sure that what happened to her brother does not happen to any other kids.
The Montebello school district has some issues that Nelly would like to address. First, we learned that their facilities are in need of upgrades. Some schools have lead in the water pipes, lack of AC systems, and inconsistent internet access. Her aim is to fix infrastructure and to give parents a way to advocate for their children. At the moment, there is no clear way for a parent to communicate with the school district—and this needs to change. Nelly also told us that the budget set aside for disabled students is much smaller than it should be. On top of that, faculty members are feeling like they aren’t getting fairly paid or receiving recognition for their work in the district.
Nelly told us that in this district, only about 30% of the kids are college ready. The district has been focused on higher test scores when they really need to be focused on basic understanding and learning. Some of the kids in this district struggle with reading and writing comprehension and many of them are students with English as a second language. And since the pandemic, there is more of a need than ever to fill educational gaps and make sure kids don’t fall behind.
Nelly envisions a school district where they partner with local apprenticeship programs and nonprofits. This way, high school students can learn useful trades and be connected to the right resources. Nelly even has the idea for a program where students would fix up the facilities and classrooms that they learn in. This way, they can learn new skills while also benefiting their school and community. Another thing Nelly would love to create is a clear process for parents of special needs students to advocate for whatever their child needs.
To Nelly, Montebello is full of potential. She told us that 20% of the population is under 18. She says that if her community invests in these young people now, they will enter the world feeling empowered and with the right skills to succeed. Nelly herself is an example of what can happen when students have the right resources. She sees herself in the children in the Montebello school district and wants to give them the same chance at success as everyone else.
Nelly has six pet parakeets who act as her morning alarm every day! One of her unique hobbies is attending storytelling competitions where participants tell true life stories surrounding a theme. She also loves all types of music from R&B, to Rock, to Reggaeton!
As a final message, Nelly told us that her life, while challenging at times, has given her the skills to overcome obstacles and to thrive. She is a proud Mexican-Salvadoran woman who wants to be able to pass her skills on to students who come from similar backgrounds as her. She is inspired to keep campaigning by her brother’s story and is determined to make a positive impact in his honor.