Bobby Roy has stayed on his feet in his home community of 36 years since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
As a member of the API Regional Network, he helped organize food distribute food and emergency relief funds for residents in south Sacramento.
“We’re trying to do what we can to support everybody,” Roy said.
They also worked with Sacramento County staff to set up COVID-test sites in the region that’s home to a large Asian and Pacific Islander population. Roy said that staff at the site tested 278 people in one day last month, and they recently tested 188 people despite the thick wildfire smoke.
He mentioned that his organization helped persuade the county to have children tested at the community test sites. Roy noted that the county’s youth positivity rate is higher than the state average.
“We have work to do,” he said.
Roy spoke with the Citizen about his roots in south Sacramento and his campaign to represent Trustee Area 3 on the Elk Grove Unified School District board. This area covers Sacramento’s Valley Hi and North Laguna regions.
Earlier this summer, Chet Madison announced he would not seek reelection to the board’s Area 3 seat after serving for the past 20 years. Roy is among three candidates running for that seat – his opponents are Sean Yang and Victor Wilson.
“When I heard that Chet Madison was not running again, I was worried there would be a vacuum there,” Roy said about the school board.
This week, he gained the support of the Elk Grove Education Association’s political action committee as well as Elk Grove School Trustee Bobbie Singh-Allen, and Christina Chun-Molsen who was a 2020 Elk Grove Teacher of the Year.
The candidate said that he will bring to the board his 20 years of experience from working at the state’s education department. Roy is an education program consultant who adjudicates complaints that regard various education programs that include English language learner programs, and Local Control and Accountability programs.
“I’m making sure that I’m protecting the rights of students and parents who filed those complaints,” he said.
Roy grew up in south Sacramento where he was raised by his mother and grandmother. He attended Charles Mack and Union House elementary schools as well as Samuel Jackman Middle School before he graduated from Valley High School in 1997. His mother taught at the YMCA Child Development Center.
“She was really my first teacher; she instilled in me the value of education,” Roy said.
He also noted that his grandmother had a “salt-of-the-earth” wisdom, even though she had a third grade education.
“She really taught me about respecting people and making sure that people feel like they belong,” Roy said. “(It’s) not a lot of the othering that’s taking place today, unfortunately. It’s so easy to talk past one another and just don’t listen to each other.”
He said that he was attending UC Davis when his mother died during his junior year. Roy recalled that he underwent a period of depression until a friend helped him get a job at the California Department of Education. He started at a clerical job before moving his way up to analyst and consultant in 19 years, he said.
Roy recalled that when he was in high school, he calculated that he would run for U.S. president in 2016.
“Unfortunately, due to the tragedy in college, I set a lot of those goals aside. But I never lost my passion for education, I never lost my belief for supporting students and empowering families, and that’s what made me step into the ring,” he said about running for school board.
In his campaign, Roy is focusing on the issue of student equity or providing more school district support and resources to struggling students. He said that in his trustee area, students are generally not performing well on standardized tests and they are struggling as they prepare for college and careers.
Roy said that he also wants to make sure that the school district accounts for special education students, foster youths, and homeless students. He also wants to have more community care resources to address mental health issues.
As for Elk Grove Unified’s move to have most of its 67,000 students take “distance learning” or online classes during the pandemic, Roy said there is still a “digital divide” where many students lack the computer equipment to access their online classes.
He generally praised the work of Elk Grove Unified’s teachers and staff in preparing for the new school year.
“They have been very deliberate and intentional about making sure we can deliver as good quality education as we can in this distance format,” Roy said. “I do know there is a learning loss, due to a lack of personal interaction, especially for our younger kids…Ultimately, we do want to bring students back, but we have to be careful and do it in a safe manner that protects the students and our faculty, and our staff and our families.”