Three candidates of color were elected to the Brentwood school board yesterday, joining a body that in the past has suffered from in-fighting and allegations of racism.
Now, for the first time in the history of the school board, a majority of the seven board members are black or Latino. The board serves a district where ninety percent of students come from those backgrounds.
Among the newly elected, Ana Martinez and Keith Allison are new faces on the school board, and Gail Kirkham is a returning board member.
All three attended a May 9 candidate forum in Brentwood hosted by Long Island Wins, the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, and Noticia. The forum, which gave community groups like NAACP and Make the Road New York a chance to ask questions to the candidates directly, drew more than 140 attendees.
Ana Martinez, Keith Allison, and Gail Kirkham at “Growing a Diverse Long Island: Brentwood School Board Candidate Forum” (Credit: Ted Hesson)
The new members will face a range of challenges. During the candidate forum, participating community groups stressed the need for board members to serve as advocates for parents when tackling contentious issues like bilingual education and teacher layoffs.