Meet Federal Way school board candidate Shelley Ko

After three days of posting the applications for the Federal Way Public Schools board of directors vacant position to the district website, the board narrowed the 12 eligibles down to five.

The District 5 board position became vacant after former board director Tony Moore resigned because he was convicted of felony theft last month.

Debra Stenberg, district spokeswoman, said legally the board can discuss qualifications of candidates for appointment to elective office in an executive session, however, no decisions or votes can be cast.

“Our legal counsel indicated that the best approach for narrowing the field is to discuss in executive session, then have a motion in open session to invite five for interviews,” Stenberg wrote in an email.

The five include Jeremy Cucco, Hiroshi Eto, Shelley Ko, Tanaya Lanning and Richard Champion.

After the executive session on May 22 at a regular meeting, board director Danny Peterson made a motion to move the five candidates, which was seconded by board vice president Geoffery McAnalloy.

Stenberg said the meeting’s notice was posted within 24 hours, the minimum requirement per state law, on the district’s website. The five applicants will be publicly interviewed on June 3, with a final decision expected on June 24 - to be announced at a public meeting.

The Mirror spoke with all five candidates. Here is more information about candidate Shelley Ko.

Shelley Ko

Background: Ko has lived in Federal Way since 1983 with her family. Ko grew up in Seoul, Korea and attended Sung Kyun Kwan University before moving to the U.S. She worked at various jobs and in 1978 she opened her own “Mingon” at home and taught children’s art as well as the Korean alphabet. But one of the greatest impacts Ko and her husband are known for is starting the first Korean American TV channel or KO-AM TV, channel 257 on AT&T cable.

“My husband found out there’s not media, only one newspaper, a weekly Korea Times … “ she said, adding that since starting, there’s now 10 forms of media focused on Korean news.

As Ko stayed busy with the news station, she was able to sneak in time to volunteer at her son’s Federal Way elementary school — Panther Lake — as he grew up.

Experience: Ko has worked with the Korean Cultural Service, she’s taught as a principal at the Seattle Full Gospel church in Kent and at Hansarang Church in Kent. The city of Federal Way also recognized her in 2010 with a certificate of appreciation. During her time working as a broadcaster, the 24/7 news station has covered stories on Martha Choe when she became a Seattle City Councilwoman, when Paul Shin became a state senator, Cindy Ryu a state representative and Michael Park when he was mayor of Federal Way.

School district improvements: Ko applied for the position because she and a friend believe there’s a disconnect between the school district and many Korean students’ families.

“I already know that there are many Koreans in Federal Way and when people come here from Korea, they are having a difficult time to start a business or get the job and they want their children to get good education but they don’t have enough time and people are getting some difficulties to help their children because of the language,” Ko said.

If selected, she said she would try her best to improve the confusion that can come with language barriers during her already-busy work schedule as a broadcaster.

“I want to help the majority and minority, parents and children. I want to work as liaison,” she said. “I’m a busy woman who does business in Federal Way as a foreigner but now I’m a citizen here. I raise my child and I can understand other parents who are raising their children — same worries and same hopes.”


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