Two school board candidates neck-and-neck in terms of campaign fundraising

Daily Post Staff Writer

Palo Alto school board candidate Shana Segal had a strong last month of fundraising that was boosted by local support, putting her neck and neck with Nicole Chiu-Wang for the most donations.

Out of Segal’s 25 donors in the last month, 23 came from people with a Palo Alto address.

Chiu-Wang had 22 donors in the same time frame, and nine were from Palo Alto. That’s 40% of her donors, compared to 92% for Segal.

Segal has raised $28,875 as of Oct. 22, while Chiu-Wang has raised $28,954, according to campaign finance forms.

Segal is a teacher and educational consultant who wants to help teachers better meet students at their learning levels.

Chiu-Wang is a lawyer turned entrepreneur who now works at Google. With her oldest son entering the district this year, she wants to change how schools measure success by putting less emphasis on standardized testing.

Chiu-Wang is endorsed by the majority of the current board, including one of her opponents, incumbent Shounak Dharap.

Dharap has raised $5,185 as of Oct. 22, with six donors in the past month. Stanford professor emeritus Jeff Ullman gave him the most ($1,000), and all of Dharap’s donors were from Palo Alto except for the Dean Democratic Club of Silicon Valley ($250).

Dharap is running on the district’s accomplishments during his first four-year term, which was impacted by the pandemic. He voted for the district to hire its own therapists, to restore online public commenting and to create a student achievement plan.

The final candidate in the race for two seats is Ingrid Campos, who has raised $6,718, according to campaign finance forms.

Campos has come under fire for her comments about the LGBTQ community. She said she wanted to ban Scholastic because they promote a “deviant lifestyle” with books that have LGBTQ themes.

Segal, Chiu-Wang and six of the seven candidates for Palo Alto City Council held a rally in front of City Hall on Oct. 16 to denounce Campos.

Campos had two people donate over $100 in the past month: Jo’Anne Zschokke of Palo Alto ($100) and Amy Lee of Los Altos ($500).

Segal has received donations from Mayor Pat Burt ($500), former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer ($1,000), the California Teachers Association ($1,000), Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning leader Joe Hirsch ($100), former mayor and school board member Camille Townsend ($150) and Palo Alto City Council candidate Brian Hamachek ($100).

Chiu-Wang’s donors include the Asian Pacific Islander Empowerment PAC ($300), Democratic Activists for Women Now ($500) and the Dean Democratic Club of Silicon Valley ($250).

Several of her donors are from San Francisco, where she moved from earlier this year, and Ranchos Palos Verdes, where she grew up.


  1. There should definitely be someone with Segal’s experience making decisions for Palo Alto schools. It baffles me that its mostly all business people and lawyers. How can they know what is really going on? Chiu Wang also baffles me. Moves to a new town a few months ago and immediately runs for school board. She has toddlers. Her being backed by all those political organizations speaks for itself. How do you run for school board when you have no experience in a district?

    • Daily Post folks – you didn’t post my comment earlier today when I submitted it, and now it says this is a duplicate comment. Please post it this time. Thank you! The job of a school board member is to set policy, evaluate the superintendent, and analyze and approve a budget. Those are skills that business people and lawyers have. Nicole and Shounak are skilled analysts and managers, so they’re both good fits for the job of a school board member.

      And to correct the comment above, Nicole Chiu-Wang has a kid in kindergarten – he’s not a toddler. Have you met Nicole, or seen her at a forum? She’s smart and hard working, and is actually really well suited to the job of a school board member. And Shounak, Nicole and Shana are all backed by various political organizations. All three of them. Why pick on Nicole?

      What I don’t get is why Shana is running, when she had an apparently successful business advising families about private school options, which she says is temporarily on hold until after the election. How does that fit with a passion for public education? I also don’t understand how Shana’s experience will help her set policies, evaluate the superintendent, and analyze a budget. I’ve asked her and found that she doesn’t understand the role (and limitations) of a school board member, nor how budgets actually work. To my knowledge, she hasn’t served on a PTA board, or as a PiE representative, or on a district committee. Why not, if she cares so passionately about this district?

      • I don’t get why Chou-Wang is running. She’s never served on a PTA, site council or PIE. She’s endorsed by the teachers union, which fought to keep schools closed, creating unprecedented learning loss. She wants schools to focus less on grades and test scores and more on diversity. She moved to town less than a year ago. Her business experience is a fashion startup. Her candidacy raises more questions than answers. It might be best if she waited a couple of years and learned more about the town. She’s not getting my vote.

      • @Linda: Nicole Chiu-Wang doesn’t have a kid in kindergarten. Her kids are 2 and 4, which is preschool-aged (whether you call them both toddlers or just one is a matter of definitions).

        Shounak Dharap’s kids are 2 and almost-born.

        Shana Segal’s are in elementary school (1st and 3rd grade).

        I’m not sure about Ingrid Campos’s kids, but I think they’re middle or high school.

  2. As one of sixty plus Palo Altans who signed onto the letter of endorsement for Nicole Chiu-Wang and Shounak Dharap, I find the slant of this article, suggesting that Nicole’s support is not local, laughable. Further, Nicole is supported overwhelmingly by the core group of parents who have been long-time active advocates for equity and student wellbeing in the district, and who speak at and attend school board meetings often (and not just in election season).
    Our support for Nicole recognizes that she is unequivocal in her commitment to addressing systemic problems, particularly those relating to bias issues, and has the intellectual capacity to engage in these issues in a way that sets her apart. We are also, as close board observers, very clear about the role of the school board and the qualities and skills that make a person effective in the role of trustee.
    As for Shana Segal, while a lifelong resident of Palo Alto she has never served on PTA Council nor a district task force, has a public social media presence that prior to announcing her run was almost exclusively focused on promoting her educational consultancy business that primarily directs parents to private school options, and had no presence or voice at school board meetings until a single meeting in May 2022, coinciding with when she was being urged to run by a group of parents who are well-known to be the most vocal supporters of academic acceleration (focused almost exclusively on math) and active opponents of district equity initiatives.
    Nicole Chiu-Wang, along with Shounak Dharap, are clearly the outstanding candidates in this race. They are not only fully qualified in the ways that actually matter to be an effective school board trustee, they are also clear and consistent in their values and that clarity is reflected in the support they have garnered from long-term advocates for educational equity.

  3. I believe that Shana, Shounak and Nicole are all good people. We currently already have two lawyers and two business people on the board.

    What we are lacking is someone with recent experience teaching in the classroom. Shana has that. She taught at a public high school. She knows personally what our high schoolers need. She is a current substitute teacher in our district. She volunteers with Project Cornerstone. And has elementary aged kids in our district. Kids who attended school here in Palo Alto during the pandemic. She has an inside view of some of the challenges Palo Alto students are facing right now.

    Who better to help set policy about schools and students and evaluate a superintendent who oversees our schools and students than an experienced teacher? My hope is that with Shana’s experience she can bring a new perspective to our school board.

  4. I’m on Shana’s team and here to address misleading information Linda and Michelle posted. Shana’s school consulting business, which is on hold now and would not resume should she be elected, focused on preschool, public and also private schools. She helped families (many who were relocating here and unfamiliar with the school systems) find a preschool, public school and/or private school that was a good fit. If you were to speak with her past clients, you would know she is a big proponent of public school and tried to persuade families to stay. She also helped many families whose children had learning differences navigate the system, as well as explore private school options, if PAUSD could not meet the needs of the child.

    Her commitment to PAUSD includes putting her own health at risk to substitute teach during Covid. The district needed subs and thus she answered the call, using her credentials and her time to help PAUSD students, teachers, administrators, and families. Her education and school volunteering credentials (including, by the way, on the PTA) are well established on her website and in numerous interviews. She too has been a long time “board observer” (as you call yourself), attending numerous board meetings over the past several years. It is hard to understand Linda and Michelle’s insistence that the Board of Education doesn’t need anyone with a background in education.

    Thankfully, others agree that the board benefits from having a mix of professions, including educators. In addition to the two newspapers, there are 10 former PAUSD school board members (and several from other districts) who have endorsed Shana and believe that her educational experience would be a valuable addition to a board of lawyers and business people.

    Finally, it is perplexing to see Linda, Michelle and others from their team working so hard against a woman of high integrity who has dedicated 20 years of her life to public education and who set aside her own personal income to run for school board. Shana is a generous and kind person who has put herself and her family out there to serve the public. This is not a political stepping stone for her. She, and other candidates, should be applauded for stepping up. With the way people throw stones, clearly it is not for the faint of heart.

    My hope is that our community can demonstrate kindness to inspire future potential candidates. This should not be a community where candidates are met with false whisper campaigns whenever a particular group of friends doesn’t personally deem them worthy of running.

  5. Hi. I just submitted a comment but my paragraph breaks didn’t show up. If you approve that comment can you please add paragraph breaks before these words/phrases: “Her commitment,” “Thankfully,” “Finally,” “My hope is that.” Thank you.

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