Opinion: Mike Chang will bring much-needed legal and civil rights experience to the Berkeley School Board

As a lawyer for the Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education, he can bring valuable skills and experiences to the BUSD Board.

Over the years, BUSD has been sued numerous times in lawsuits that allege the district has been out of compliance with federal laws relative to sexual harm/assault, racism and disability rights. Berkley School Board candidate Mike Chang is ready to help.

Mike can do more for our students than anyone currently sitting on or running for the board because his day job is being a lawyer for the Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education.

Both Laura Babitt and Ana Vasudeo (front runners in the Berkeley school board race) are great—and we need more women of color in leadership, especially in this moment.

The thing about Mike Chang that I want you to know is he is a candidate with extraordinarily valuable skills and experiences to add to the BUSD Board.


BUSD has had to defend itself in numerous costly lawsuits because it has been out of compliance with federal laws relative to sexual harm/assault, racism and disability rights. Mike can do more for students and climate than anyone currently sitting on or running for the board because his day job is being a lawyer for the Office of Civil Rights in the US Department of Education.

Mike’s job is to fix school districts like ours—to hold superintendents and school boards accountable, to prescribe remedies, and to follow up.

You may recall from February the thousand plus Berkeley students who marched with the many victims of rape and sexual harm and the testimony they gave at the Board. I met with these young women, as I have with countless others over the past seven years, as an adult advisor to Berkeley High School Stop Harassing. This is a grassroots student organization founded in my kitchen when my daughter Emily, along with every girl at BHS, was told at an assembly that girls should “watch what they wore or they deserved what they got” by the person who was dean of students at that time. (Please note this was not Kiernan Rok.)

“Stop Blaming my Body for Your Harassment” read the teeshirts.

Mike is the candidate who can say to his colleagues when a student complains about having to play on the soccer field next to the boy who assaulted her: “Folks, we can’t do this—it’s against the law.” Or: “Wow, we need to do some serious training—teachers don’t seem to have key information they need to have.” Mike knows that we must fund our Title IX position appropriately and, furthermore, staff that office with a strong Title IX director, two additional investigators and strong office support.  And he knows that we must provide meaningful training to every adult who works with our children.

But Mike’s expertise expands beyond protecting children from sexual harm; an even larger percentage of the cases he investigates target two other categories: racism and violations of disability rights. Mike is the candidate who can help the District protect ALL of our children.

He can provide oversight and wisdom to Superintendent Brent Stevens in real-time—which will both reduce lawsuits and promote safety and equity.  Thus he is our best hope to finally turn around the District’s shameful record on these issues because it’s what he’s been doing in other school districts for decades.

Mike is a once in a lifetime candidate answering the call of BUSD’s children.

Rebecca Levenson is a former senior policy analyst at FUTURES Without Violence and an advocate and adult advisor for Berkeley High School Stop Harassin. She is working is a volunteer working on Mike Chang’s campaign