Education · Fresno

Fresno Unified trustee Carol Mills passes following ALS battle

Longtime Fresno Unified School District Trustee Carol Mills passed away Wednesday after a lengthy battle with ALS. 

Mills, first elected to the school board representing the Fresno High area in 2004, was a longtime appellate attorney at California’s Fifth District Court of Appeal when not on the dais.

Superintendent Bob Nelson praised Mills for her support of the district’s children, especially through programs such as the International Baccalaureate program or Career Technical Education. 

Nelson also praised Mills for her work to expand the access to arts, athletics and engagement activities. 

Mills also “advocated tirelessly” for providing after-school opportunities available to every child and family. Nelson said that dream will be realized this year. 

Nelson released the following statement regarding Mills: 

“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.” 

Additional details regarding the process to fill Mills’ seat on the Fresno Unified Board of Education will be forthcoming. 

Sam Mills, the late trustee’s son, issued the following message on behalf of his 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.”

Sen. Andreas Borgeas (R–Fresno) issued a statement feting Mills’ lengthy service to the Fresno region:

“I am saddened to learn of Trustee Carol Mills’ passing. Carol served as a trustee for the Fresno Unified School District for the last 17 years,” Borgeas said in a statement. “Carol’s dedication to our community and tireless advocacy for Fresno Unified students was admirable, and she will be remembered for her lasting contributions to our community. My condolences go out to her family and friends during this difficult time.”

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.