Arlington, Va. schools get first Latino board leader as chief contract is extended
In a vote that overwhelmed community debate, the Arlington County School Board in Virginia named its first Latino board leader on Monday and extended the contract of the school system’s superintendent. The votes on Monday recognized the leadership team for the fast-growing system, with Emma Violand-Sanchez as school board chairwoman for the next year and Superintendent Patrick K. Murphy on board for another four years.
Murphy’s tenure was extended unanimously by the board, giving him assurance that he will remain at the wheel as a long-term capital improvement plan makes way for a student population that topped 22,000 this year. “Much work is ahead of us, but we have a very strong base on which to build,” said Violand-Sanchez, who served as vice chairwoman of the board until her election as chairwoman on Monday. The vice chair often takes over the chairmanship, but recently, outgoing chairwoman Abby Raphael reportedly expressed interest in remaining at the post for another year. Her statements led to letters of protest from community activists, including the Arlington Latino Network, whose members said neglecting to promote Violand-Sanchez into the chairmanship would “send a message to the school community that runs counter to the board’s stated commitment to racial and ethnic equality.” Gabriela Uro, a parent who spoke to the board on Monday on behalf of the Arlington Latino Network, said, “The defining element of Arlington school board’s leadership is the rich diversity of perspectives, experience and expertise that you each bring to the board.” She continued, “Your decision today acknowledges this very diversity.”