Sonya Mays (left), Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (center), and Misha Stallworth (right), each won a seat on the Detroit district school board. Mays and Stallworth are incumbents, and Gay-Dagnogo is the challenger. Photos Courtesy of Candidates
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This story also appeared in Chalkbeat Detroit

Incumbents Sonya Mays and Misha Stallworth won reelection to the Detroit school board, according to unofficial vote totals from Tuesday’s election to fill three seats.

Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, a current state lawmaker and former district teacher, will join them on the Detroit Public Schools Community District board. She narrowly beat Iris Taylor, the board president, in a leadership shakeup.

Mays was the top vote-getter with 66,451 votes. Stallworth received 63,801 votes, and Gay-Dagnogo had 50,973 votes. Taylor followed with 49,609 votes.

Mays currently is the board’s treasurer and Stallworth is the secretary. Taylor, who has been the board president since 2017, lost her reelection bid despite support from Mayor Mike Duggan and donations from top business and community leaders.

Here is how the 14 candidates finished, based on the county’s final vote counts Thursday morning:

  • Richard Carl Clement, 14,854
  • Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, 50,973
  • Bessie Lee Harris, 35,889
  • Elena Herrada, 19,169
  • Zsa Zsa Chantel Hubbard, 18,488
  • Jermain Jones, 21,600
  • LaMar Lemmons, 37,462
  • Terrance Lemmons, 14,623
  • Sonya Mays, 66,451
  • Ida Short, 29,845
  • Chico Frank Sorrell, 10,963
  • Misha Stallworth, 63,801
  • Iris Taylor, 49,609
  • John Telford, 14,969

The top three vote-getters will take office in January, and will serve on the board until 2024.

The school board approves budgets and establishes policies for the state’s largest school district, which serves nearly 50,000 students. Chief among its duties: The board will decide whether it’s safe to continue holding in-person classes if rates of positive coronavirus cases increase. Michigan school boards must reapprove their reopening plans every month, a requirement under a recent bipartisan legislative deal.

The election comes as the Detroit district navigates the obstacles of an unprecedented school year during the pandemic. School officials project an enrollment decline of about 3,000 students and rising chronic absenteeism. Education experts warn that students may have substantial learning loss due to the shift to remote instruction. And virtual learning remains a struggle for students and teachers who’ve complained of too much screen time, which may be eroding social and emotional health and wellness.

Last week, the Detroit Financial Review Commission approved a waiver to release the Detroit district from financial oversight after years of state control.

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