Durham Public Schools should have a new school board member representing District 2 by Oct. 5.
That’s when members will choose one of 11 applicants for the seat held for two years by Durham activist Sendolo Diaminah.
He resigned Aug. 25, after missing several meetings, to focus on community organizing and, as he said, “building up organizations here in Durham and around the country that defeat politicians like Donald Trump.”
Thirteen applicants applied for the position, but two of those – Florida DeVaul Dudley and Shonda Wilson – were removed from consideration because they live outside of District 2.
Former school board members Regina George-Bowden and Fredrick Davis are among the remaining 11 that qualify.
On Tuesday, the public will have a chance to meet all the available applicants. (In case of cancellation, that meeting would take place on Oct. 3.) The deadline for the school board to appoint his replacement is Oct. 24.
The schedule additions were set by board members at Thursday night’s meeting, where strong public attendance required a one-in, one-out seating policy for latecomers. That’s not so unusual, but there’s heightened interest in the process for filling the District 2 seat.
On his final night with the board, Diaminah asked fellow members to consider choosing a Latino member, which would be a first for the board. According to a demographic study of the 2015-16 school year, Hispanics make up 28.5 percent of the Durham school system’s students.
That suggestion sparked some controversy from local education activists, including former school board member Jackie Wagstaff and longtime Durham educator Lavonia Allison, former longtime head of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People.
They, and others, have expressed opposition to Diaminah’s suggestion, based on the history of the District 2 seat.
“There were people like Dr. Allison, and a few other people, who has a lot of influence on a brokered deal to make sure that people of color would be able to sit on this board – at least three of us,” said Wagstaff on Thursday.
Even without Diaminah, there are still three black members on the seven-member board. But Wagstaff shared specific expectations with the board.
“We’re talking about that consolidated seat, that District 1 seat, and that District 2 seat,” she said. “That was to give us a voice. And we hope that you stick with that.”
Tuesday’s special meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in room 307, 511 Cleveland St.
About the school board
Durham’s Board of Education has seven non-partisan members. One member is elected at-large, four are elected from specific districts, and two are elected from consolidated districts. Board members serve four-year staggered terms.
Board members are paid a regular monthly stipend of $800 per month; the chairman receives $900 per month. Board members are also reimbursed travel expenses incurred for attending workshops or conferences or for conducting official board business.