Janey names two Latin activists to Boston school committee

Acting Mayor Kim Janey on Thursday appointed two veteran Latino activists to the Boston school board, replacing two Latinas members who resigned after sharing inappropriate texts during a busy meeting focused on exam admissions policies.

Rafaela Polanco Garcia, director of parent engagement and the South End nonprofit youth programs organization, and Lorena Lopera, executive director of Latinos for Education in New England, were sworn in on Thursday at a press conference. The two were selected from a pool of approximately 14 applicants by the school committee’s nominating committee. They will attend their first school committee meeting on August 4th.

The appointments mean the seven-seat body has a full complement of members as it sorts out how to spend the district’s $ 400 million in federal pandemic relief funds.

Polanco Garcia, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, has degrees in legal and management studies and a bilingual advocacy history. Garcia lives in social housing in South Boston. Its primary language is Spanish – a first, Janey noted, for the Boston school committee.

Lopera lives in Jamaica Plain and is described as a ‘leading voice’ on educator diversity and leadership development by Betty Francisco, member of the school committee nominating committee, chief legal counsel for the nonprofit organization. lucrative Compass Working Capital.

“They are a powerful combination and will bring important perspectives that reflect the diversity of Latin American families at BPS,” Francisco said in a press release.

Both women are BPS parents.

The seats they occupy have been vacant since June, when previously withheld text message transcripts surfaced showing former members Lorna Rivera and Alexandra Oliver-Dávila making derogatory comments about the city’s West Roxbury area. Both women tendered their resignations after the transcripts were made public.

The text messages uncovered led a federal judge to withdraw his opinion and seek new legal briefs in a case concerning the city’s examination school admissions policy, a highly controversial issue that intersects with Boston’s struggles against the race, racism and fairness.

School committee appointments could influence Janey’s campaign for a full term as mayor.

Janey has recently been strongly supported by the International Union of Latino Service Employees and by Councilor Ricardo Arryo and his father, the Suffolk County Registry of Homologation Felix Arroyo.

Janey underscored her commitment to preserving Latino representation on the school committee, which serves as the governing body for Boston’s predominantly Latino (42%) and Black (30%) school district.

Polanco Garcia and Lopera’s seats end with the term of the interim mayor, although a spokesperson said the mayor had asked the two to be prepared to extend their service in case she wins a full term in November.

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