(KMJ) – Fresno Unified School Board member Terry Slatic confirms to KMJ that fellow FUSD School Board Member Carol Mills died just after midnight Wednesday at a Valley Hospital.
Mills said she had overcome a speech impediment and pursued a law degree then became an attorney. She received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Riverside, in 1976 and a J.D. from the University of the Pacific in 1979.
Later, she was employed as Lead Appellate Court Attorney by the Fifth District Court of Appeal and Judge Pro Tem for the Fresno Superior Court.
Mills began with Fresno Unified in 2004 and served for 17 years as the trustee for Area 5, serving on several Fresno Unified committees: Facilities, School Site Council, International Baccalaureate committees, and Career Technical Education programs.
Mills served on the Fresno High and Hamilton Task Forces.
Superintendent Nelson said Mills advocated to increase students’ access to arts, athletics and educational programs.
The school district said she had recently been fighting ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson released a statement about her passing:
Message from Superintendent Nelson on the Passing of Trustee Carol Mills
It is with great sadness that the district announces the passing of our beloved trustee Carol Mills, elected board member for the Fresno High region. Carol served as a tireless advocate for our city’s kids having spent her last 17 years as a Trustee of the District. First elected in 2004, Carol was the champion of any initiative that directly benefited students including supporting every child with the opportunity to participate in programs such as the International Baccalaureate program or Career Technical Education, as well as expanding their access to arts, athletics, and engagement activities. She advocated tirelessly for having after-school opportunities available to every child and family- a dream that will be realized in 2021.
I first met Carol back in 2001, when I served as her son’s Vice-Principal at Powers-Ginsburg Elementary. While serving as a parent, she also advocated for not only what was best for her son, but also for all the young people in her circle. She was relentless in her pursuit of trying to make the District the best that it could possibly be. For the last several months, Carol fought a valiant battle against Lou Gherig’s disease. True to her nature, she continued to serve as an advocate and role model, this time in the role of ableism. She advocated for her own rights, as well as the rights of others with exceptionality until her last breath. Her digitized graduation speech at the 2020 Commencement for Fresno High was the very epitome of the concept of “finishing well.” Our community has been made better through her commitment to serving others. We stand in her debt, and she will be missed. We will release any additional details as they become available, but at this point, our interests lie with sending love and condolences to Carol’s family and friends in their time of grief.
Carol’s son Sam Mills shared this message on behalf of the family,
“We’re heartbroken at the loss of Carol. She spent her life in service to others and will be deeply missed. We ask for the respect of our privacy as we mourn our loss.”
Additional information is expected within the next 24-hours about the process and timeline to hold a mandated special election to fill the seat that Mills’ passing creates on the Fresno Unified School Board.
Listen to the report by KMJ’s Liz Kern: