Two former board presidents, a few former educators, several incumbents, parents and a recent graduate are among the 17 candidates running for four open seats on the Detroit school board in what could be a consequential election for the city school district.
The seven-member board oversees and sets policy for the Detroit Public Schools Community District, which educates nearly 49,000 students. With more than half of the four-year seats open for the Nov. 8 general election, new board members could impact Superintendent Nikolai Vitti’s efforts to address pandemic-related enrollment losses, chronic absenteeism, and poor academic achievement. Vitti, who was hired in 2017 to turn around the struggling district, has had mostly wide support among board members.
Three of the four incumbents facing the end of their terms – current board president Angelique Peterson-Mayberry, vice president Deborah Hunter-Harvill, and member Corletta J. Vaughn – filed to run for re-election.
The other incumbent, Georgia Lemmons, who was elected in 2016, was not on a list of candidates the city clerk’s office provided Chalkbeat Tuesday evening after the filing deadline. Her husband, LaMar Lemmons, whose name is on the list of candidates, said he and his wife filed together. The clerk’s office could not be reached for comment.
LaMar and Georgia Lemmons were elected together in 2016 to the first board to oversee the newly-created Detroit Public Schools Community District. As part of a legislative deal that year, Detroit Public Schools was split into two, with the new district focused on educating students and the old district focused on collecting tax revenue and paying off debt. That deal ended years of state-controlled emergency management, during which the board had little power. Lemmons served on that board, too.
Among the other notable candidates is Iris Taylor, a former board president who was unseated in 2020 when she ran for re-election. Another former board member, Ida Short, is also running again.
Candidates had until 4 p.m. July 26 to file to run. Here is the full list of school board candidates provided by the Detroit clerk’s office:
- Monique Bryant: The Detroit native is the co-founder and president of The Triangle Society, a non-profit dedicated to raising money for Cass Technical High School.
- Regina Ann Campbell: The DPSCD graduate and parent works as an economic developer in the public nonprofit sector. She also is a longtime volunteer for Detroit schools.
- Richard Clement: When he ran for the school board in 2020, he was a computer consultant. He has previous experience as a precinct delegate, candidate for state office, and political volunteer.
- Patrice Douglas: The lifelong Detroiter is an organizer for the Michigan Democratic Party.
- Bessie Harris: Now retired, she has 33 years of experience as an educator, special education teacher, and principal. She ran but was not elected to the board in the 2020 general election.
- Ridgeley Hudson Jr.: A 2020 graduate of Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School, he is a former school culture facilitator for DPSCD.
- Deborah Hunter-Harvill: Incumbent and current board vice president, she was first elected to the board in November 2016. She was a principal in DPSCD, and previously served as a school superintendent in the now dissolved Buena Vista school district.
- LaMar Lemmons: Former board president who served on the board during emergency management and when DPSCD was created. He served in the Michigan legislature and serves as chief of staff to State Sen. Betty Jean Alexander.
- Latrice McClendon: Chalkbeat was unable to reach McClendon
- Aliya Moore: She is a parent leader and an active district parent who frequently comments during Detroit school board meetings.
- Jamaal Muhammad: He formerly worked as a second grade teacher in DPSCD.
- Reba Neely: Chalkbeat was unable to reach Neely
- Angelique Peterson-Mayberry: The incumbent and board president was first elected in 2016. She is the diversity, equity, and inclusion employee experience strategist for manufacturing for Ford Motor Company.
- Ida Simmons Short: She served on the board previously, including during emergency management. She ran again in 2020. She is a professor of English and teaches full time at Schoolcraft College and part time at the Wayne County Community College District.
- Iris Taylor: The former board member led the board as president from 2017 until she lost her re-election bid in 2020. When she ran for re-election, she was a healthcare consultant and was the retired president of DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital and University Health Center.
- John Telford: The retired longtime educator served as superintendent of Detroit Public Schools when the district was under emergency management. He has run for the board before, most recently in 2020.
- Corletta Vaughn: The incumbent was elected to the board in 2018. She is a bishop and leads the Holy Ghost Cathedral Church.
Grace Tucker is Chalkbeat Detroit’s newest reporting intern. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.