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November 6, 2018 — California General Election

Palo Alto Unified School DistrictCandidate for Board Member

Photo of Shounak Dharap

Shounak Dharap

12,445 votes (23.26%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Professional Governance and Accountability: Bringing proactive solutions for legal compliance, fiscal management, policy-making, and transparency to ensure we protect our students and the district's financial future.
  • Innovation: Raising the ceiling for success so that every student has the opportunity to realize their individual potential by expanding programs that focus on real-life application, integrated curricula, and project-based learning.
  • Equity: Building a floor so no student slips through the cracks through a renewed commitment to student mental health and wellness and a data-driven approach to closing the achievement gap.



Profession:Attorney (Complex Litigation)
Attorney, The Arns Law Firm (2016–current)
Judicial Extern, California Court of Appeal (2015–2015)
Law Clerk, United States Attorney's Office (2015–2015)
Law Clerk, Santa Clara County, Office of the District Attorney (2014–2014)


University of San Francisco School of Law J.D., Law (2016)
University of California, Santa Cruz B.A., English Literature (2012)

Community Activities

President, Student Bar Association, USF Law (2015–2016)
Development Director; Board Member, Moot Court Board, USF Law (2015–2016)


This district is my home. I am a future father in this district and a former PAUSD student. In my day job, I am a litigator; I have also been involved in educational governance--first as the president of my law school's Student Bar Association, and then, as an attorney, when I was appointed by our Supreme Court to a committee tasked with re-evaulation the California Bar Exam. I see in this district a real need for professional governance, legal compliance, and fiscal management, so that we can actually execute on our priorites and turn our good ideas into realities for the students and families we serve. I have the skills and the background--both the professional experience and the lived experience within this district--to make that happen.

My wife (who also grew up in this district) and I are in a unique position. We find ourselves with the district's schools behind us but also in front of us. This is position that compels me to do everything I can to ensure that all our schools offer the best opportunities for success to their students, including my future children. 

Who supports this candidate?

Organizations (5)

  • Santa Clara County Democratic Party
  • Palo Alto Educators Association
  • Bay Area Municipal Elections Committee
  • Peninsula Young Democrats
  • Silicon Valley Young Democrats

Elected Officials (3)

  • Marc Berman, Assemblymember
  • Lydia Kou, Palo Alto City Councilmember
  • Marielene Gaona Mendoza, Ravenswood School Board Trustee

Individuals (4)

  • Susie Richardson, Former PAUSD School Board President
  • Gail Price, Former Palo Alto City Councilmember and PAUSD Trustee
  • Dana Tom, Former PAUSD Board President
  • Pat Burt, Former Palo Alto Mayor

Videos (5)

— October 3, 2018 Shounak Dharap

PAUSD, at the heart of Silicon Valley, can be a leader in innovating education. Innovative ideas and methods for integrated curricula, real-life application, and project-based learning are most effective when they come from our teachers. BEAM, Connections, Social Justice Pathways, and AAR are examples of such programs that already have proven success. If elected, I plan to create a district incubator to elicit new ideas and support their implementation with a level of consistency that provides opportunity to every student regardless of their zip code. 

I plan to build strong relationships with industry leaders to provide innovative career training options for students, like the Lockheed Martin internship. I will also use my own network of PAUSD alumni to involve our successful former students in mentoring and providing career pathways to current students. Finally, I will strengthen our relationship with our local community colleges to ensure that robust linked learning and middle college opportunities are available to our students.

— October 3, 2018 Shounak Dharap

In my experience, an upfront investment in compliance is a better way to save money than paying out of pocket after mistakes are made. It is time for PAUSD to hire a general counsel to ensure our policies comply with the law and to provide oversight to outside counsel to prevent excessive legal bills.

— October 3, 2018 Shounak Dharap

We must foster a culture that teaches students about consent and power dynamics, and one that empowers them to report potentially harmful behavior to a trusted adult. We must also provide robust training to teachers and administrators so they know how to best protect our students and comply with the law.

— October 3, 2018 Shounak Dharap

Decreasing student stress and supporting mental health and wellness should be one of the most important goals of our school district. I support the expansion of the Social-Emotional Learning curriculum, wellness centers at all our high schools and middle schools, and the implementation of the homework policy aimed at reducing student workload and stress. 

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